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November 10, 2011

Remembrance Day tomorrow. Let's both remember and celebrate those that are committed to fighting for our country.

It's also 
11-11-11 tomorrow - ewwwww.  Wait.  What's the significance of it again? It's a movie, isn't it?  In doing some research I found this interesting tidbit.  "There is nothing unusual about the time 11:11 or the date 11/11/11, but our brains can't help noticing the repeating digits, and seeing them as meaningful. 'Numbers that are already significant to us, such as calendar dates that also coincidentally fall into an obvious pattern, become doubly significant,' Lenzi said. '11/11/11 is another example of people doing what people are cognitively prone to do: find significance.'"(1)

Check out the whole article, interesting stuff!

Added to the line-up of events chosen JUST for you, is the
AroniAwards Gala on December 3rd, which celebrates the unsung heroes of our community - isn't that amazing?  Always a top-shelf event, check out the many options for tickets or donations.  

You've only got a week left to purchase tickets to
The Wailers! Check out the video for what's in store! Do you live outside the GTA? Well, check the schedule for the best in Christian pop rock music Peter Furler and Special Guests Canadian Christmas Tour in support of World Vision Canada.  Get the details for all three events under HOT EVENTS!

This week's news features the shocking news of the passing of
Heavy D (one of my fave hip hop artists) and Joe Frazier; Toronto's newest radio station, G98.7 FM formulates their staff including Jemeni and Mark Strong for their morning show; and who could forget the dynamic performances of D'bi.young, now with a new show; and finally the celebration of Herb Carnegie, who is most famous in Canada for being denied an NHL career because of his skin colour. Check it out under TOP STORIES.
PLUS look for some exciting giveaways coming up in the next couple of weeks!

So much more ahead so click on your favourite subject to the right! Don't forget that you can just click on the photo or the headline and you'll have your latest entertainment news!
 OR you can simply click HERE for all the articles.

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


For A Living Planet Featuring 54*40, Jully Black And Hawksley Workman: November 4, 2011

Source: Full Capacity Concerts

Full Capacity Concerts Presents FOR A LIVING PLANET, a special
concert in support of World Wildlife Fund Canada, featuring live performances by three classic Canadian artists, 54*40, Jully Black, and Hawksley Workman. Net proceeds will be donated to WWF Canada.

World Wildlife Fund Canada has been in operation since 1967. Today it has become one of the country’s leading conservation organizations, enjoying the support of over 150,000 Canadians. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature http://wwf.ca/

54*40 are an all time favourite Canadian alternative rock group from BC. They’ve steadily been rocking the country coast to coast since 1981 and continue to do so today. www.5440.com
Jully Black is another Canadian favourite, known for her rich R&B voice and songwriting skills. She has collaborated with an array of familiar names such as Nas, Missy Elliott, Saukrates, Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, Destiny’s Child and Sean Paul. www.jullyblack.com

Hawksley Workman is a Juno Award Winning Canadian rock singer-songwriter, producer, singer, multi instrumentalist, actor and published author. His 12 year career has produced as many records, all ambitiously creative and defying category. http://hawksleyworkman.com/2010


Glenn Gould Studios
250 Front St. W.
DOORS:  7:00 PM
SHOW:  8:00 PM
Tickets available at http://www.roythomson.com
$35 Adults
More Information: www.fullcc.com /

The Wailers With Special Guests Divine Brown & Duane Stephenson – Sat., November 19 At The Sound Academy

Source: Full Capacity Concerts and Live Nation Entertainment

Don’t miss The Wailers with special guests Divine Brown and Duane Stephenson in Toronto on Saturday, November 19th at The Sound Academy.

Together with Bob Marley,
The Wailers have sold in excess of 250 million albums worldwide. In England alone, they’ve notched up over twenty chart hits, including seven Top 10 entries. Outside of their ground-breaking work with Marley, the Wailers have also played or performed with international acts like Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, and Alpha Blondy, as well as reggae legends such as Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Burning Spear. As the greatest living exponents of Jamaica’s reggae tradition, the Wailers have completed innumerable other tours, playing to an estimated 24 million people across the globe. They have also been the first reggae band to tour new territories on many occasions, including Africa and the Far East.

The history of the band during Marley’s lifetime is well known. Reggae music has never stopped evolving but for millions of people from around the world it’s still defined by the songs of Bob Marley and the Wailers. It’s been their heartbeat rhythms that have inspired so much of what’s followed since, as evidenced by the enduring popularity of the “one-drop” reggae sound. 

The anchor of the band is Aston “Family Man” Barrett, who in addition to being Marley’s most trusted lieutenant, played on countless other classic reggae hits throughout the seventies. The authenticity he brings to the Wailers’ sound is indisputable and yet today’s line-up combines old school know-how with lead vocals from one of Jamaica’s most exciting new singers.  Koolant joined the Wailers soon after his cameo appearance in the film Made In Jamaica.  As enthusiastic audiences have already discovered, Koolant brings his own personal expression to Marley’s songs, revitalizing them for young and old alike. Yet there’s a great deal more to the Wailers than reliving the past. Apart from featuring on a forthcoming Wailers’ album studded with celebrity guest artists, Koolant sings lead vocals on the band’s two latest tracks – one a future lovers’ rock classic called Shining Star, and the other a heartfelt appeal – A Step For Mankind – made on behalf of the World Food Program, co-starring Duane Stephenson.

Both songs stand comparison with the band’s finest work from the past. The Wailers have succeeded in turning a fresh page and led by their charismatic new singer, they’re ready to make history once more.

About Divine Brown:

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

Fresh off the success of the riddem version of Old Skool Love, Divine recently returned to Jamaica to record a set of new tracks at Geejam studios.  She brings this energy and vibe to the stage for the first time since her return and will deliver a riddem based set full of vibe and surprises.

Check out a sneak preview of her new song - Melody of my heart HERE


About Live Nation Entertainment:

Live Nation Entertainment is the world’s leading live entertainment and eCommerce company, comprised of four market leaders: Ticketmaster.com, Live Nation Concerts, Front Line Management Group and Live Nation Network.  Ticketmaster.com is the global event ticketing leader and one of the world’s top five eCommerce sites, with over 26 million monthly unique visitors.  Live Nation Concerts produces over 20,000 shows annually for more than 2,000 artists globally.  Front Line is the world’s top artist management company, representing over 250 artists.  These businesses power Live Nation Network, the leading provider of entertainment marketing solutions, enabling over 800 advertisers to tap into the 200 million consumers Live Nation delivers annually through its live event and digital platforms. For additional information, visit www.livenation.com/investors.  

The Sound Academy
11 Polson St
Toronto, Ontario

Doors:  8:00PM
Show:  9:00PM
Tickets on sale Friday October 21, 2011 @ 10:00AM

is a NO SERVICE FEE mobile ticketing service available exclusively to Rogers Wireless customers. Visit www.urmusic.ca/tickets or text TICKETS to 4849 for full event listings and special offers.
Tickets available through Ticketweb, Soundscapes and Rotate This.
Tickets (incl. HST): $29.50 Reserved Seating
Ages 19+

Inspire 2011 ~ 6th Annual Aroni Awards Gala – Sat., December 3rd, 2011

Source:  www.aroniawards.com

Following the successful 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 Inspire Gala
events, the ARONI Awards returns this December 3rd, 2011 for yet another captivating event, with the presentation of five AroniMAGE awards to the unsung heroes of our community. The AroniAwards Education Grants will be presented to three students who show strong dedication to community service, a positive outlook and continue to persevere despite socioeconomic hardships and other obstacles.

The evening features a VIP Reception, Silent Auction, Awards Presentations, 3 Course Dinner, Live performances, and After Show reception and more. This year's Aroni Awards Gala will be held at the historic Arcadian Court. The magnificent complex with its grand chandeliers and ballrooms, offers a unique venue to create the perfect setting for the 2011 Aroni Awards Gala.

Join your 2011 Aroni host, comedian
Jay Martin, and Canada’s premier entertainers in celebration of the 2011 AroniAwards recipients.

* The 2011 AroniEducation Bursary will be presented to:

Michael Monize
Nilson Almonte Noesi
Sabrina Idukpaye

* 2011 AronIMAGE AWARDS will be presented to:

Leo Barbe (Inspire Award)
Andrew Forde (Youth & Entrepreneurship)
Marcia Brown (Youth & Education)
Donovan Dill & Haile Desta (Youth & Sports)
Sean Mauricette (Youth & Arts)

Our inspiration:
The Aroni Awards Gala was created in honour of
Aron Y. Haile, an African Canadian and accomplished student, entrepreneur, software developer, who died in a vehicular accident in 2003, at the young age of 30.

The AroniAward strives to make a difference through 2 initiatives. The AroniMAGE Awards will recognize the unsung heroes of our community. Through the AroniAWARD Education awards, bursaries will be presented to nominees who possess the drive to further their education despite socio-economic and other hurdles.

We invite you to join us on December 03, 2011. If you are unable to make it, we appreciate your donation via www.aroniawards.com

Saturday, December 3, 2011
Arcadian Court
401 Bay Street (at Queen)
Simpson Tower, 8th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
Green P parking @ City hall - 416-393-7281
"Science Social" Reception: 5.30 p.m. – 6.45pm
Awards Dinner & Presentation: 6.45 pm -10 p.m.
After Show Celebrity Soiree: 10.00 pm - 2 am
Click below to Purchase Ticket or Donate: http://aroniaward2010.eventbrite.com/


G98.7 Announces Its On-Air Line-Up

Source: www.g987fm.com

(Nov 07, 2011) TORONTO – Today, Toronto’s newest radio station,
G98.7 FM (CKFG) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open its brand new studio location at 34 Kern Road in the Don Mills and York Mills area. G98.7 Founder, President, CEO & Station Manager Fitzroy Gordon and Program Director Wayne Williams also revealed the on-air team that will be heard on Canada’s first and only Urban Adult Contemporary (AC)-formatted radio station starting on Monday, November 14.
The Urban AC format targets a 25-54 age demographic, and encompasses a broad and mature mix of new and old R&B, Soul, Reggae, Soca, Hip Hop, Worldbeat, Gospel and Smooth Jazz in its regular rotation. G98.7’s weekend specialty shows will provide a more concentrated offering of Reggae, Soca, Gospel, and African music, as well as unique and engaging interactive talk programming that reflects the diversity of its audience, while also addressing issues of direct concern to members of the Black & Caribbean community.
“We’ve been counting down the days to our official station launch since we ‘flipped the switch’ to commence our signal testing period on October 3 with a music-only playlist,” says Gordon. “The tremendous amount of positive feedback we’ve been receiving from Torontonians of all ages and cultural backgrounds is overwhelming and very encouraging. Toronto has been waiting a long time for a station like G98.7.”

G98.7’s Morning Show will bring back the popular duo of
Mark Strong & Jemeni, who have not been heard together on radio since their departure from FLOW 93.5 in August 2006.
“Mark & Jem are very popular and prominent personalities within this city, and we are excited to be bringing them back to radio,” says Williams. “They’ll stimulate your minds with their intellectual and interactive banter, and they’ll definitely keep you laughing all morning long. Weekdays from 6 am to 10 am will be reignited and reenergized by their presence.”
Other highlights of the G98.7 program schedule include:
The return of Dr. Jay and Spex to Sunday nights (Dr. Jay with Soca from 5 pm-8 pm, and Reggae with Spex from 8 pm-11 pm)
Gospel Morning Show with Grammy-award winning recording artist and songwriter, Carvin Winans (of the legendary Winans family), Saturdays and Sundays from 5am-9 am
A Sunday slate of engaging talk shows, including Insight (a magazine-style show featuring a weekly news round-up of international and local stories), Grapevine (a call-in show covering current affairs, politics, health, finance, youth, legal matters, and other relevant topics), Community Round-Up (covering a broad range of local community issues and events), and The Travel Show (featuring tourism information on the Caribbean and other worldwide destinations)
International and local sports coverage (Saturdays from 9 am-11 am and Sundays from 11 pm-2 am)
The Monday to Friday Drive Time Show with Jester, Evening Show with Peter & Candice, and slow jams with Kerry Lee Crawford (weeknights from 10 pm-1 am)
The G98.7 Program Schedule can be viewed at www.g987fm.com/info.htm  

Rapper Heavy D Killed After Fall At California Home, Report Says

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Nov. 08, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Rapper
Heavy D, who scored hit singles such as Now That We Found Love, died on Tuesday after falling at his Beverly Hills home, according to media reports. He was 44.

Celebrity news website TMZ.com said the rapper, whose real name is Dwight Errington Myers, was found on a walkway and an ambulance was called. When emergency workers arrived he was conscious and speaking but died later at a nearby hospital.

Beverly Hills police confirmed the basic information, but declined to release a name pending family notification. Police Lieutenant Mark Rosen said a man was found on a walkway at 11:25 a.m. (PT), conscious and talking, but having difficulty breathing. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died on Tuesday afternoon.

Further details were undisclosed pending an investigation, but Rosen
said there were no signs of foul play.

The singer’s New York-based agent was not immediately available for comment.

Rotund rapper Heavy D was born in Jamaica and moved to Mt. Vernon, New York as a child. He enjoyed hip hop music as a kid and formed his first group, the Boyz, with high-school friends who took the stage names DJ Eddie F, Trouble T-Roy and G-Wiz.

The group became Heavy D & The Boyz and released their first album in 1987, which included singles Mr. Big Stuff and The Overweight Lover’s in the House. Their breakout album came with 1989’s Big Tyme, which included the hits Somebody for Me and We Got Our Own Thang.

The band met with tragedy in 1990 when Trouble T-Roy died in an accident. One year later, they scored their biggest hit with the album Peaceful Journey and single Now That We Found Love, which reached the top five on R&B charts and crossed over to mainstream pop audiences.

A string of hits followed in the 1990s. The band sang the theme song for popular TV show In Living Color, and Heavy D’s 1999 CD Heavy became his seventh album to chart among the R&B top 10.

During those years, the rapper also began acting, working in small roles on film and TV before landing a role in the high-school TV drama Boston Public. His film work included parts in The Cider House Rules, Step Up and Big Trouble.

Heavy D performed at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards and at the Michael Jackson tribute show in Cardiff, Wales, both in October.

Boxer Joe Frazier Dies At Age 67 After Battle With Liver Cancer

Source: www.thestar.com - Dan Gelston and Tim Dahlberg

(Nov. 07, 2011) PHILADELPHIA—He beat Muhammad Ali in the Fight of
the Century, battled him nearly to the death in the Thrilla in Manila. Then Joe Frazier spent the rest of his life trying to fight his way out of Ali’s shadow.

That was one fight Frazier could never win.

He was once a heavyweight champion, and a great one at that. Ali would say as much after Frazier knocked him down in the 15th round en route to becoming the first man to beat Ali at Madison Square Garden in March 1971.

But he bore the burden of being Ali’s foil, and he paid the price. Bitter for years about the taunts his former nemesis once threw his way, Frazier only in recent times came to terms with what happened in the past and said he had forgiven Ali for everything he said.

Frazier, who died Monday night after a brief battle with liver cancer at the age of 67, will forever be linked to Ali. But no one in boxing would ever dream of anointing Ali as The Greatest unless he, too, was linked to Smokin’ Joe.

“You can’t mention Ali without mentioning Joe Frazier,” said former AP boxing writer Ed Schuyler Jr. “He beat Ali, don’t forget that.”

They fought three times, twice in the heart of New York City and once in the morning in a steamy arena in the Philippines. They went 41 rounds together, with neither giving an inch and both giving it their all.

In their last fight in Manila in 1975, they traded punches with a fervour that seemed unimaginable among heavyweights. Frazier gave almost as good as he got for 14 rounds, then had to be held back by trainer Eddie Futch as he tried to go out for the final round, unable to see.

“Closest thing to dying that I know of,” Ali said afterward.

Ali was as merciless with Frazier out of the ring as he was inside it. He called him a gorilla, and mocked him as an Uncle Tom. But he respected him as a fighter, especially after Frazier won a decision to defend his heavyweight title against the then-unbeaten Ali in a fight that was so big Frank Sinatra was shooting pictures at ringside and both fighters earned an astonishing $2.5 million.

The night at the Garden 40 years ago remained fresh in Frazier’s mind as he talked about his life, career and relationship with Ali a few months before he died.

“I can’t go nowhere where it’s not mentioned,” he said. “That was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life.”

Though slowed in his later years and his speech slurred by the toll of punches taken in the ring, Frazier was still active on the autograph circuit in the months before he died. In September he went to Las Vegas, where he signed autographs in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel-casino shortly before Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s fight against Victor Ortiz.

An old friend, Gene Kilroy, visited with him and watched Frazier work the crowd.

“He was so nice to everybody,” Kilroy said. “He would say to each of them, ‘Joe Frazier, sharp as a razor, what’s your name?’”

Frazier was small for a heavyweight, weighing just 205 pounds when he won the title by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round of their 1970 fight at Madison Square Garden. But he fought every minute of every round going forward behind a vicious left hook, and there were few fighters who could withstand his constant pressure.

His reign as heavyweight champion lasted only four fights — including the win over Ali — before he ran into an even more fearsome slugger than himself. George Foreman responded to Frazier’s constant attack by dropping him three times in the first round and three more in the second before their 1973 fight in Jamaica was waved to a close and the world had a new heavyweight champion.

Two fights later, he met Ali in a rematch of their first fight, only this time the outcome was different. Ali won a 12-round decision, and later that year stopped George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire.

There had to be a third fight, though, and what a fight it was. With Ali’s heavyweight title at stake, the two met in Manila in a fight that will long be seared in boxing history.

Frazier went after Ali round after round, landing his left hook with regularity as he made Ali backpedal around the ring. But Ali responded with left jabs and right hands that found their mark again and again. Even the intense heat inside the arena couldn’t stop the two as they fought every minute of every round with neither willing to concede the other one second of the round.

“They told me Joe Frazier was through,” Ali told Frazier at one point during the fight.

“They lied,” Frazier said, before hitting Ali with a left hook.

Finally, though, Frazier simply couldn’t see and Futch would not let him go out for the 15th round. Ali won the fight while on his stool, exhausted and contemplating himself whether to go on.

It was one of the greatest fights ever, but it took a toll. Frazier would fight only two more times, getting knocked out in a rematch with Foreman eight months later before coming back in 1981 for an ill-advised fight with Jumbo Cummings.

“They should have both retired after the Manila fight,” Schuyler said. “They left every bit of talent they had in the ring that day.”

Born in Beaufort, S.C., on Jan 12, 1944, Frazier took up boxing early after watching weekly fights on the black-and-white television on his family’s small farm. He was a top amateur for several years, and became the only American fighter to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo despite fighting in the final bout with an injured left thumb.

After turning pro in 1965, Frazier quickly became known for his punching power, stopping his first 11 opponents. Within three years he was fighting world-class opposition and, in 1970, beat Ellis to win the heavyweight title that he would hold for more than two years.

It was his fights with Ali, though, that would define Frazier. Though Ali was gracious in defeat in the first fight, he was as vicious with his words as he was with his punches in promoting all three fights — and he never missed a chance to get a jab in at Frazier.

Frazier, who in his later years would have financial trouble and end up running a gym in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, took the jabs personally. He felt Ali made fun of him by calling him names and said things that were not true just to get under his skin. Those feelings were only magnified as Ali went from being an icon in the ring to one of the most beloved people in the world.

After a trembling Ali it the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta, Frazier was asked by a reporter what he thought about it.

“They should have thrown him in,” Frazier responded.

He mellowed, though, in recent years, preferring to remember the good from his fights with Ali rather than the bad. Just before the 40th anniversary of his win over Ali earlier this year — a day Frazier celebrated with parties in New York — he said he no longer felt any bitterness toward Ali.

“I forgive him,” Frazier said. “He’s in a bad way.”

 D'bi.Young Amps It Up Again

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

(Nov 07, 2011) 'Tis the season of retrospective trilogies. With vocal
chameleon Rick Miller's showcase at Factory Theatre now concluded, lyrical contortionist D'bi.young anitafrika has moved into the spotlight, taking three of her solo shows into the Tarragon Theatre.

After stealing the show in Da Kink in My Hair, the Jamaican-born poet once known less poetically as Debbie Young, exploded like a geyser on Toronto's theatre scene as a soloist six years ago with Blood claat: one oomaan story, which broadened the dynamic performer's fan club outside dub-poetry circles and picked up a couple of Dora Awards.

Set in Kingston - the one in Jamaica, not halfway between Toronto and Montreal - Blood.claat told the coming-of-age story of Mudgu Sankofa. A couple of years ago, Young followed that show up with Benu, which focused on Mudgu's daughter Sekesu.

Word!sound!powah!, premiering in repertory with the two previous solos, takes the Sankofa story forward another generation and introduces us to Sekesu's daughter Benu as a 20-year-old performance poet.

Apparently, the seed for word!sound!powah! was planted when Young played the ballad singer in Soulpepper Theatre's production of The Threepenny Opera in 2007. In her playwright's note, she recalls standing backstage next to artistic director Albert Schultz and whispering in his ear that she wanted to create a "dubtheatre" version of the story of Mack the Knife and the Peachums.

Word!sound!powah! isn't quite that, but you can see how the idea grew from there. The play's backdrop is a fictional Jamaican election, with the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party facing off once again. As we meet Benu, she is being violently interrogated by a police officer for reasons to be explained later. In flashbacks, we learn of Benu's involvement in a group with her fellow students called Poets in Solidarity.

Young channels all these would-be revolutionaries with impressive energy and fine-tuned characterizations in what turns into an impressive one-woman poetry slam, performed over the backing of a three-man band.

There's Bobus, who sports a camouflage vest and the most radical views; Peaches, a single mother whose name may be the last vestige of The Threepenny Opera; Sage, a Rastafarian who keeps a gun in his pants to keep his hands free for smoking up; and Stamma, who, as his name suggest, has a speech disorder and so tells his poetry through motion.

The Poets in Solidarity initiate Benu and prepare for an election-day event in secret under a giant, white tree that spreads its branches out and over the audience. (The designed is by the ever-inventive Camellia Koo.)

That The Sankofa Trilogy is a family affair is evident in the verses, a couple of which are in fact written by Young's mother, Anita Stewart. However, word!sound!powah! might have been better as a play on its own rather than as part of this trilogy.

Trying to make it work with the pre-existing Sankofa mythology trips up the timeline. References to the death of Moammar Gadhafi - which will probably shock most in the audience; they certainly startled me - places the play in the present or near-future, but other allusions to Jamaica's independence, Cuba and the IMF seem to pinpoint it in the past. The climax of word!sound!powah! is also confusing and needs to be clarified. Were the Poets in Solidarity indeed participants in political violence - or were words their only weapons?

The Poets in Solidarity believe that "politics plus passion plus rhythm = revolution." The passion Young displays in her performance will certain make you want to stand up, at the curtain call at least. If you have yet to be introduced to the talent of D'bi.young, The Sankofa Trilogy provides a perfect opportunity.

Written and performed by D'bi.young anitafrika
Presented as part of The Sankofa Trilogy
At the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto
Word!sound!powah! is performed on various dates through Dec. 4.

Happy 92nd Birthday, Herb Carnegie

Source: www.thestar.com - Mary Ormsby

(Nov. 08, 2011)
Herb Carnegie’s birthday card trilled a tinny version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” when a group of high school girls opened it for him it on Tuesday at his Don Mills retirement home.

Eyes dulled by glaucoma, the former hockey player and Future Aces founder couldn’t see the pop-up cardboard rainbow inside the card. Nor could he read the words of tribute. So the girls from David and Mary Thomson Collegiate read it to him during his 92nd birthday party.

“On the day that you were born, something pretty amazing happened . . . You!”

A pause. For a heartbeat, the only sound was the wistful tune that evokes a better place, playing softly from the greeting card.

Then Carnegie began to quietly sob.

“It’s okay, we’re crying too,” reassured Atifa Afghanyar, a 15-year-old Grade 11 student who is one of her Scarborough school’s “Thomson Future Aces,” patting his arm as he wept.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s your birthday and we’re so inspired by you.”

Carnegie is most famous in Canada for being denied an NHL career because of his skin colour, despite his pro-level hockey ability. Yet his greatest influence has been on generations of students in sharing his message of personal excellence and community compassion, a philosophy that flowed from that NHL heartbreak.

It’s estimated that annually, more than 100,000 students around the GTA are practising Carnegie’s character-building guidelines linked to the Aces letters: attitude, co-operation, empathy and service.

About 200 schools at any time are involved with the program, which also offers student leadership conferences (there’s one this weekend at Horseshoe Valley) and academic scholarships. To date, nearly $500,000 in scholarships had been awarded.

Carnegie, a Toronto native who grew up playing hockey on Willowdale ponds with his brother and future linemate, the late Ossie, describes the core of his Future Aces creed as “attitude.”

“I can remember the first line I wrote and that was 35 years ago,” said Carnegie, smiling, during an interview this summer.

“I wrote, ‘I will develop a positive attitude toward all people and toward my work.’ When I wrote that line, I looked at it and I smiled. I said, ‘If I can do that, then Carnegie, you’re going to be okay in this world.’ ”

“Okay” was an understatement.

An outstanding hockey player, Carnegie was an accomplished all-around athlete who also excelled at golf. He won 16 titles in all, including two that broke colour barriers: he remains the only black Canadian to win a pair of national titles.

In hockey, the Carnegies played semi-pro hockey in the 1940s with another superb black athlete, linemate Manny McIntyre, who died this year. The trio — warmly welcomed wherever they played, Carnegie recalled — was often referred to in newspaper articles as the Black Aces, the Ink Spots, the Brown Bombers or other plays on their skin colour.

Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice — now the foundation’s executive director — rhymes off his other life highlights: her dad is in 10 halls of fame and has seven major awards of recognition — including the Order of Canada. He opened Canada’s first registered hockey school at North York’s Mitchell Field — and called it Future Aces. He was a real-life comic book hero in a 1998 Spiderman comic. He’s also honorary police chief of York Region.

Carnegie knew his way around a dollar, too. In his post-hockey career, he was a senior account adviser for the Investors Group, the first black man they hired. He was successful in finance, reaching The Millionaire’s Club for 23 consecutive years. The Investors Group named an annual company community service award after Carnegie.

His name adorns the old North York Centennial Arena but his proudest namesake is the Herbert H. Carnegie Public School in Maple.

“That’s a tremendous honour,” said Carnegie of the kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school that posts a Carnegie quote, “Make attitude your friend,” on its website.

“I don’t know (if) you could give me any money that would satisfy the value of what that means to me,” he said. “That’s wonderful.”

Carnegie said when a person has a good attitude “the most gorgeous things” can be achieved.

“We can only do that by taking somebody by the hand and say, ‘Come with me and I’ll show you one or two little tricks or ideas that might help you.’ ”

“And give it your ear before you say, ‘Aww, it’s no good.’ ”

Carnegie no longer lectures. He no longer has the strength for that capacity of work. He uses a wheelchair to get around.

Bernice Carnegie, 66, does much of the Future Aces presentations. And like her father, she can wow a crowd with a microphone.

She was master of ceremonies for the birthday party and warmly thanked the more than 50 students who attended. Some students brought homemade cards. Others made videos, played music and sang while Carnegie’s other children — Goldie, 70, Dale, 69, and Rochelle, 60, applauded. When a choir performed “Wind Beneath My Wings,” Goldie leaned over, wiping tears, to say that is her father’s favourite song.

The birthday boy briefly took the microphone to give an emotional thank you to the young people, family, friends and care-givers who filled the room. He shed a few tears at first, then rallied like an old pro.

“I promised myself I would not cry,” Carnegie said clearly, standing, while leaning on a chair back for support.

“That promise is broken . . . but I thank each and every one of you for your love.”


Drake’s New Album Leaked Online

Source: www.thestar.com - By Wendy Gillis

(Nov 07, 2011) The hugely anticipated sophomore album from
Drake has leaked just over a week before its official release date — and the Canadian rap sensation is telling his fans to enjoy it.

Songs from Take Care, set to be released Nov. 15, became available Sunday night while Drake was on Toronto’s Flow 93.5.

LISTEN: “Take Care” feat. Rihanna

Hip-hop lovers were ecstatic to get an early sample of the album, which features collaborations with Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, The Weeknd and more.

The rapper, currently in Toronto, was quick to respond to the leak through his Twitter account late Sunday night, seeming unconcerned.

“I am not sure if the album leaked. But if it did thank god it doesn’t happen a month early anymore.”

“Listen, enjoy it, buy it if you like it . . . and take care until next time.”

It is not yet known if Universal Republic Records will release the album earlier in response.

Fans got a taste for the first time Sunday night of “Lord Knows,” featuring Rick Ross — with a heavy bass, a background choir, and an infectious groove.

The album’s title track “Take Care” has also leaked: The song starts out slow, with Rihanna on her own, singing “I know you've been hurt by someone else, I can tell by the way you carry yourself, If you let me here’s what I’ll do, I’ll take care of you, I’ve loved and I’ve lost.” It then builds up to a chorus heavy on the keyboards and bass.

There were rumours Rihanna and Drake began a relationship earlier this year, but their current relationship status is not known.

Sunday night, Drake officially released “Crew Love,” a slow jam featuring The Weeknd.

Official singles from the album had also previously been released, including “Headlines” — released on iTunes in August — and “Make Me Proud,” featuring Nicki Minaj.

The 25-year-old’s first album Thank Me Later reached platinum status in Canada within a week of its debut.

Four hit singles came out of the album, including “Find Your Love,” “Over,” “Miss Me,” and “Fancy.”

Take Care track listing

Over My Dead Body
Shot For Me
3. Headlines
Crew Love (featuring The Weeknd)
5. Take Care (featuring Rihanna)
Marvin’s Room / Buried Alive (Interlude) (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
7. Under Ground Kings
We’ll Be Fine
9. Make Me Proud (featuring Nicki Minaj)
10. Lord Knows (featuring Rick Ross)
11. Cameras / Good Ones Go (Interlude)
12. Doing It Wrong (featuring Stevie Wonder)
13. The Real Her (featuring Lil Wayne and André 3000)
14. HYFR (Hell Ya F---in' Right) (featuring Lil Wayne)
15. Look What You’ve Done
16. Practice
The Ride (featuring The Weeknd)

Tradition With An Attitude

www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Nov 03, 2011) Aisslinn Nosky is a classical musician with a distinctly modern vibe.

The 33-year-old violinist with shocking red hair (that sometimes stands on end) smiles during performances and uses dramatic body movements to emphasize the music she plays. Her music of choice is hundreds of years old, played on a 265-year-old violin.

A baroque musician who performs in churches and concert halls, Nosky says her electric performing style is still respectful of both the music and the venues.

“My performing style is exciting but not distracting,” says Nosky during
an interview in Trinity St. Paul’s Church on Bloor St., where Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra frequently performs. It’s where Nosky will be play with them Nov. 10 through 13. (They also perform at the Toronto Centre for the Arts on Nov. 8).

Nosky cherishes the church venue, saying, “I love the energy between performers and the audience. The ambience can’t be beat. Performing (Johann Sebastian) Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion in a church gives it real depth of feeling.”

Feelings that frequently spill out in tears, she admits, saying orchestra members often joke about who will be the first to cry. Nosky is a frequent crier.

“It’s something that comes from deep inside. It’s annoying to cry because you don’t have time to wipe your tears.”

She used to play with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and Puccini often reduced her to a puddle.

“At the end I would say, I am a different person now.”

She reminds one of a young Nigel Kennedy, whose punk hair and unusual style drew the attention of classical music audiences in the 1980s. Nosky did see the flamboyant Kennedy when she was young and says, “But he had the goods, as I hope I do.”

Her flash comes from another source. Nosky dyed her hair fluorescent pink for a Bell commercial she shot as a young Toronto student, in which she portrayed a punk. While she wasn’t happy having her hair look like bubble gum, she has continued to dye it various shades of red.

“I’m happy to adhere to a dress code. I’m always expecting someone to say my hair is not okay, but it’s never happened. Maybe it’s a little bit old hat.”

Nosky not only plays violin with Tafelmusik; she is also the newly appointed concert master of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston. She’s been a member of the leather-wearing baroque ensemble I Furiosi for 12 years and performs as a soloist internationally.

That’s 200 concerts a year, which Nosky admits is a pretty hectic pace. But she’s energized by performing so, no matter how jet-lagged she is, “I just get out there and make some magic.”

She thanks Jeanne Lamon, music director of Tafelmusik, for giving her the go-ahead to apply for the Boston job, which began in September. Luckily, that orchestra’s schedule doesn’t conflict with Tafelmusik’s calendar.

Nosky came to Toronto from Nanaimo, B.C., at the age of 15 to study violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music and found herself a job as a nanny to earn money for lessons.

Luckily, she was hired by a music-loving family, Mark and Jacquie Bartelt, who didn’t mind her practising for hours in their home. They provided a family setting for her in Toronto, she says, adding she was probably a little naive about how she was going to survive on her own when she left home.

But Nanaimo didn’t have the resources she needed to continue her training, she says, and it became obvious when she became a teenager that, “I wanted to try to be an artist.”

When asked about her dream gig, she replies, “This is the one.”

Deadmau5 Leaves Em’ Raving

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Nov 06, 2011) If you’re of a certain age, it could be considered
Revenge of the Ravers.

If you weren’t one of the many dance-music fans in attendance old enough to remember the City of Toronto’s turn-of-the-millennium anti-rave witch hunt,
Deadmau5’s triumphant homecoming gig before more than 20,000 frothing fans at the Rogers Centre on Saturday night still stood, I’m sure, as one of the most righteous dance parties ever to hit this town.

The Niagara Falls-raised electronic producer, born Joel Zimmerman, handily beat the stadium’s brains out with the dazzling multimedia barrage of hard-as-nails big-room techno and high-tech production values he’s been carting around to transatlantic festival fields since the beginning of the summer.

The final gig of the tour, though, was a landmark moment in more ways than one. Deadmau5 became the first Canadian artist ever in the Rogers Centre’s 22-year history to headline the gargantuan venue, for one thing, putting this scrawny miscreant in an oversized “Mau5-head” mask in the same league as U2, Coldplay and the Rolling Stones. He also picked up a platinum sales award for last year’s 4x4=12 album before the gig, the only one handed out to an Anglo-Canadian performer thus far in 2011.

So, yeah, Zimmerman is having a pretty good year. But in successfully mounting what was essentially a massive rave in the city’s largest indoor concert venue — with opening support from similarly popular Toronto electro-exports Crystal Castles and MSTRKRFT — he’s also served symbolic notice that a new era of massive dance events may be upon Toronto.

And, folks, it’s been awhile; although parties drawing upwards of 10,000 people were a common sight in this burg toward the end of the 1990s, when Toronto was pretty much Ground Zero for the North American rave scene, they all but ceased to be after a municipal and police clampdown at the dawn of the 2000s. The fact that we just had one of the biggest in the scene’s history in the home of the Toronto Blue Jays marks a pretty serious about-face.

Deadmau5 even commands enough pull (and draws enough revenue) to keep the Rogers Centre open until 2 a.m., a bit early by rave standards but almost unheard of in a venue that costs tens of thousands of dollars to run each additional hour beyond its typical 11 p.m. curfew. Amazingly, too, the police and security presence was light, friendly and unobtrusive. My, how times have changed.

This gig was big news, then. It was also big fun.

Deadmau5 gets flack for offering straightforward dance floor thrills — essentially a rewiring of late ’90s hard house and Homework-era Daft Punk with a healthy dose of au courant low-end squelch and a splash of dubstep sub-bass here and there — but there’s no denying that the cat (er, Mau5) delivers the goods in the heat of the moment. His catalogue is pretty much all bangers, all the time and, admittedly, it’s tough sometimes to tell the difference between one sawing 4/4 beatdown and another, between “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” and “The Reward is Cheese” or between “Some Chords” and “Cthulu Sleeps.”

They were all rendered in spectacularly crisp, full and powerful sonic detail on Saturday, though — I heard rumours that an additional $100,000 had been sunk into the production because it was being taped for a DVD and I am inclined to believe it because I’ve never heard the Rogers Centre sound that good — and continually dolled up by three giant LED screens’ worth of lunatic visuals: multiple Mau5 caricatures, of course, but also cascading geometric patterns, audio-reactive animated splatters, sci-fi space battles, an enormous arcade game of Pac-Mau5 and pictures of Zimmerman’s cat, Professor Meowingtons, for whom this Meowington’s Hax tour is named.

The visual distractions are necessary when you’re a single dude standing behind a rack of gear in a space the size of the Rogers Centre, probably, but Deadmau5’s Rubik’s Cube spaceship set would be nothing if the music weren’t up to snuff. And his A-list material really is. “Raise Your Weapon” is a knowingly soft-hearted vocal-house anthem and a real keeper, even if it errs on the cheesy/trancey side. The dubstep hip-hop blinder “One Trick Pony” is probably the most punishing piece of music the Rogers Centre walls have ever withstood. The disco-fied “Animal Rights” had the place deliriously bopping with joy. Zimmerman deserved to run out on the proscenium with guest vocalist Sofia Toufa for a victory lap in front of his hometown fans during the smash single “Sofi Needs a Ladder,” meanwhile, because that tune is an absolute monster and the best thing he’s ever done.

I’m not gonna bitch at the man for making dance music popular because, really, why shouldn’t it be? Take all the victory laps you want, Deadmau5. You just pulled off a rave in freakinSkyDome.

For Florence, Bigger Isn't Always Better

www.globeandmail.com - By Robert Everett-Green

Florence + the Machine
Island Records

(Nov 04, 2011) The romance of the big voice works on people in every
kind of music. Something about a real ear-filling vocal sound sells us, however briefly, on what we might call the big-voice fallacy: the notion that any feeling becomes deeper or more real when sung to the outer limit. It applied to Whitney Houston when she insisted tutta forza that she would always love you, and to Luciano Pavarotti when he capped many a mediocre performance of Puccini's Nessun dorma with a winner-take-all swipe at the final high note.

Florence Welch has a huge voice, and it helped propel the flame-haired English singer and her band from zero to pop stardom in just two years. Welch's dramatic costuming, high-intensity stage presence and air of heedless, rushing-over-the-moors Romance have all sped her ascent.

Of course only the audible parts of that package can fit into Welch's latest CD, best heard perhaps while contemplating the singer's swoony, Pre-Raphaelite image on the cover. Ceremonials is very conscious of itself as a second album from a performer known for outsized expression: The songs, arrangements and production style make a nearly continuous argument for the supreme truth of bigness.

Welch's debut disc Lungs fashioned a lumpy and sometimes arresting quilt from scraps drawn from old-style English folk traditions, punkish rock, Celtic pop, vintage soul and a kind of maximal drumming that might have seemed African if it weren't so primitive. Ceremonials is more uniform in style, and that's not necessary a virtue. Much of the album presents an indistinct terrain formed from songs that depend on oversized mainstream chorus-mongering. The uplifting All This and Heaven Too epitomizes the tone, working up a resonant storm of strings and voices while treading water melodically. The banal Shake It Out, No Light, No Light and Spectrum all follow this pattern, and all go on too long, as if achieving transcendence were just a matter of hanging in there.

The best songs break from this dreary model. Breaking Down is a tightly-written, one-off venture in chunky vintage pop, with catchy melodies in verse and chorus and a breeziness that doesn't exist anywhere else on the disc. Leave My Body has a bluesy feeling that veers towards gospel as the backup chorus comes in, with its exhortations to move "up to higher ground."

Lover to Lover explores a darker, vintage soul idiom, over a backing of stiff-fingered piano, handclaps, moody organ and syncopated bass. The stark Seven Devils goes a similar route in its arresting verses, levelling out into a more pop-friendly style in the chorus.

What the Water Gave Me foregrounds the folkish side of Welch's music, in its ageless-sounding chorus melody. The lyrics hint at a watery suicide à la Virginia Woolf or Shakespeare's Ophelia, as portrayed in John Everett Millais's Pre-Raphaelite portrait.

Water and air are Welch's symbolic elements, just as earth and fire belong to another current singer with huge pipes and a big Romantic streak: Amy Lee of Evanescence, whose recent self-titled album has a kind of titanic solidity when set next to Ceremonials. Lee's American gothic spirit is grittier than the diaphanous ethos of Welch, and her songwriting is generally sturdier. Nothing on Ceremonials can offer the punch of What You Want, the first single from Evanescence.

Welch is the more subtle performer, however, capable of veering from a full cry to a soft coo in a single phrase. Her potential remains huge, in part because this album doesn't deliver the knockout blow that many of us hoped for.

Lenny Kravitz Tackles the ‘Race Issue’ on New Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 08, 2011) *
Lenny Kravitz was one of those kids who grew up in the gray area of life, where race and colour didn’t quite make since.

His father was white and his mother was black. Growing up, it was as if skin colour didn’t even exist. But when he made it to elementary school, his worldview changed and the beautiful, yet cruel reality open his eyes to colour.

“I didn’t know anything about problems until I went to first grade and it was brought to my attention,” the rock singer and guitarist said. “I knew my father looked different than my mother, but I didn’t know that that meant anything. … I had no idea that it was an issue.”

Black and White America,” his latest project, explores the challenging and controversial ideas such as race, interracial couples, and other colour issues he often faced growing up.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the singer shares a bit about a song that unveils an intimate side of him.

“[The title track] is a very special song to me and it’s obviously got a lot to do with who I am. It’s my story. It’s everything I knew growing up. It’s my parents’ story – being an interracial couple growing up in the time of the civil rights movement. And it’s the story of today – what we’re going through, dealing with race and the fact that we have an African American president.”

Read the full interview at the SFGate.com.

Effendi Brings Montreal Sound To Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(Nov. 08, 2011) Blame it on Oscar Peterson. Ever since the late Quebec-born piano great set up shop in Toronto with his trio in the ’60s, Montreal jazz musicians have headed our way for fame and . . . well, in jazz, you can forget the fortune part.

But no one ever planned it more strategically than Alain Bédard.

The 59-year-old Montreal composer, producer, jazz festival organizer and bassist heads
Effendi Records, the hottest independent artist-run jazz label in the country with 117 CDs released in 12 years.

Wednesday’s Effendi-sponsored performance at Trane Studio by a lineup of label musicians is intended as a calling card for Effendi’s fall slate of five album releases: Autour de Bill Evans; saxophonist Frank Lozano Montreal Quartet’s Destin; pianist Josh Rager’s Kananaskis; Transitions from saxophonist Alexandre Côté; and Bédard’s own Homos Pugnax with his Auguste Quartet. (There’s too much “pugnacity” around says Bédard about his CD title. “Effendi” is a way of showing respect in Turkish.)

“You don’t release CDs to become a millionaire,” Bédard explains. “We first produce 1,000 of each (title) and when we sell out we produce more. The majority of the CDs are sold at our concerts, maybe 25 or 50 at a time. But with the Bill Evans project we are on our third reorder.”

With good reason. The American pianist, who died in 1980, is way past due for a significant revival given that he’s influenced just about half of jazz’s younger pianists. Even better, Evans’ impressionistic style — with its unique chord clusters shifting like clouds over a free-flowing, hard-swinging rhythm — is suited to the lyrical approach favoured by the musicians on the Evans homage CD: drummer Pierre Tanguay, pianist François Bourassa, Lozano on sax and bassist Michel Donato. (Not all will be part of the Toronto lineup for the Evans-related music.)

“I think Quebec musicians are often more lyrical than musicians from Toronto,” says Bédard. “I found that for me, a piece always starts with a melody.”

Indeed, a 2008 review on All About Jazz, the Philadelphia-based jazz website, talks about the typical Effendi band’s “sophisticated tonal colouration” along with “a defined Francophone feel that suggests an imaginary movie soundtrack for some lost ’60s Parisian caper.”

Bédard’s own compositions on Homos Pugnax — like “Casse-Pattes,” with its crawling ostinato bass — are reminders of his university days studying classical bass with Marc Denis before he formed his band, Auguste.

“When I created the label” — with his life partner, the singer Carole Therrien — “it was because no other label wanted to work with Montreal musicians. There were five or six labels interested in jazz, but they’d record Americans or guys from Toronto. I was the first to record local guys.

“These days I receive around 200 (proposals for) projects a year. But we’re also working on using the Internet more. It won’t be long before the CD is gone.”

But not before this Wednesday, he hopes.

Effendi Records concert and CD release session begins at 5 p.m. at Trane Studio, 964 Bathurst St. Peter Goddard is a freelance writer. He can be reached at peter_g1@sympatico.ca

Jazz And Harmony (In The Middle East)

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Nov 9, 2011) In his own small way,
Mervon Mehta is trying to bring peace to the Middle East.

Where politics have failed, possibly music can succeed, reasoned the Royal Conservatory of Music's executive director who has programmed a five-concert program featuring a variety of artists from the Middle East beginning Nov. 12 and running through to the end of March.

The Music from the Middle East concert series was inspired by a concert last year when an Arab-Israeli program drew a mixed crowd that was drawn by flyers put up in synagogues, community centres and even bakeries.

The sold-out performance was the first time many in the audience had seen Arab and Israeli musicians on the same program, Mehta says.

“We didn't expect people to hold hands, but to listen to music together,” says Mehta, adding, the program offers “a glimmer of hope. Maybe we'll change a few people's minds about how close we really are.”

Mehta, of Indian-Canadian heritage, admits, “Yes, I'm idealistic. In music we are able to have a conversation.”

The Nov. 12 concert at Koerner Hall features 3 Cohens, an Israeli jazz trio, and the Jamey Haddad Arab Jazz ensemble.

Anat Cohen, who grew up in Tel Aviv before moving to the United States to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, plays tenor saxophone with her siblings, Yuval, who plays soprano sax and Avishai, on trumpet.

The three were classically trained before branching out into jazz, Anat said in an interview, and all studied with percussionist Haddad, a Cleveland-born percussionist of Lebanese heritage, who taught at Berklee (the class: percussion for non-percussionists).

“He's a great performer. He has so many musical ideas,” says Anat of Haddad.

The Arab-Israeli mix in their education (and in the Koerner program) is something that Anat takes for granted:

“Music has no gender, music has no age, no colour, no religion. Music is music.”

Avishai, the youngest of the siblings, says the five-concert Middle East concert series is a great opportunity for learning.

“This is a good chance to prove what music can do, music can heal.”

Anat says that jazz is the perfect vehicle to express values of “freedom of speech, democracy on stage, equity and respect.”

She admits that there weren't many women playing saxophone when she took up the instrument.

“You usually see a man with a saxophone. Many of them I love and they influenced me,” says Anat, who is a huge fan of John Coltrane.

“(Coltrane) has a way of improvising that his music has spirit and depth, almost like a religious experience.”

While they will play many of their original compositions in Toronto, the trio will also perform old jazz tunes by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The concert is also part of The Joy of Sax, another Mehta-programmed series.

The other Middle East concerts are: Sat. Dec. 3, Chava Albertsein and Maryem Tollar; Sat. Feb. 11, 2012, Yasmin Levy and Omar Faruk Tekbilek; Sun. Feb. 12, 2012, Malek Jandali; Sat. March 31, Intercultural Journeys.

New Mary J. Blige CD an Intimate Take on Her Life’s Suffering and Victory

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 3, 2011) *On Nov. 21,
Mary J. Blige’s new album, “My Life II: The Journey Continues” will arrive in stores. Unlike her other albums, she shares a more intimate side of herself from her struggles to love, to victories. “What I wanted to do with this album is show how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown and how much understanding we have of life now,” she told London’s morning show Daybreak. “We didn’t understand why we were suffering so badly, but now we get it, we understand that life is full of challenges and what will we be if we weren’t challenged in life.”

Life was never easy for the superstar. From her childhood to today, the star has been through it all, seen it all, and ultimately is overcoming it all. “I was abused as a child and it caused me to go into substance abuse and I had no love for myself because of the guilt and shame that came with that, so maybe I just started hating into myself and not loving myself and it snowballed into this thing that was bigger than me,” Blige previously told BBC Breakfast about moving from the projects to a career in music.

She continues: “…so I think it’s important to do a sequel to the My Life album, because we need to be reminded how far we’ve come because we were in such a dark, suicidal place where we really needed help and we have grown tremendously, understanding that we have to love ourselves.”

Michael Jackson’s Doctor Found Guilty In Singer’s Death

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 07, 2011) LOS ANGELES—
Michael Jackson's doctor was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver who administered a lethal dose of a powerful anesthetic that killed the pop star.

The verdict against
Dr. Conrad Murray marked the latest chapter in one of pop culture's most shocking tragedies — the death of the King of Pop on the eve of the singer's heavily promoted comeback concerts.

Murray sat stone-faced and showed little reaction at the verdict.

He was handcuffed and taken into custody without bail until sentencing on Nov. 29. Murray appeared calm as officials led him out of the courtroom.

There was a shriek in the courtroom when the verdict was read, and the crowd erupted outside the courthouse. The judge polled the jury, and each juror answered "yes" when asked whether their verdict was guilty.

The jury deliberated less than nine hours. The Houston cardiologist, 58, faces a sentence of up to four years in prison. He could also lose his medical licence.

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, and details of his final days dribbled out over several months.

The complete story, however, finally emerged during the six-week trial. It was the tale of a tormented genius on the brink of what might have been his greatest triumph with one impediment standing in his way — extreme insomnia.

Testimony came from medical experts, household employees and Murray's former girlfriends, among others.

The most shocking moments, however, came when prosecutors displayed a large picture of Jackson's gaunt, lifeless body on a hospital gurney and played the sound of his drugged, slurred voice, as recorded by Murray just weeks before the singer's death.

Jackson talked about plans for a fantastic children's hospital and his hope of cementing a legacy larger than that of Elvis Presley or The Beatles.

"We have to be phenomenal," he said about his "This Is It" concerts in London. "When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.'"

Throughout the trial, Jackson family members watched from the spectator gallery, fans gathered outside with signs and T-shirts demanding, "Justice for Michael," and an international press corps broadcast reports around the world. The trial was televised and streamed on the Internet.

Prosecutors portrayed Murray as an incompetent doctor who used the anesthetic propofol without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left Jackson abandoned as he lay dying.

Murray's lawyers sought to show the doctor was a medical angel of mercy with former patients vouching for his skills. Murray told police from the outset that he gave Jackson propofol and other sedatives as the star struggled for sleep to prepare for his shows. But the doctor said he administered only a small dose on the day Jackson died.

Lawyers for Murray and a defence expert blamed Jackson for his own death, saying the singer gave himself the fatal dose of propofol while Murray wasn't watching. A prosecution expert said that theory was crazy.

Murray said he had formed a close friendship with Jackson, never meant to harm him and couldn't explain why he died.

The circumstances of Jackson's death at the age of 50 were as bizarre as any chapter in the superstar's sensational life story.

Jackson was found not breathing in his own bed in his rented mansion after being dosed intravenously with propofol, a drug normally administered in hospitals during surgery.

The coroner ruled the case a homicide and the blame would fall to the last person who had seen Jackson alive — Murray, who had been hired to care for the singer as the comeback concerts neared.

Craving sleep, Jackson had searched for a doctor who would give him the intravenous anesthetic that Jackson called his "milk" and believed to be his salvation. Other medical professionals turned him down, according to trial testimony.

Murray gave up his practices in Houston and Las Vegas and agreed to travel with Jackson and work as his personal physician indefinitely.

For six weeks, as Jackson undertook strenuous rehearsals, Murray infused him with propofol every night, the doctor told police. He later tried to wean Jackson from the drug because he feared he was becoming addicted.

Jackson planned to pay Murray $150,000 a month for an extended tour in Europe. In the end, the doctor was never paid a penny because Jackson died before signing the contract.

During the last 24 hours of his life, Jackson sang and danced at a spirited rehearsal, revelling in the adulation of fans who greeted him outside. Then came a night of horror, chasing sleep — the most elusive treasure the millionaire entertainer could not buy.

Testimony showed Murray gave Jackson intravenous doses that night of the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. Jackson also took a Valium pill. But nothing seemed to bring sleep.

Finally, Murray told police, he gave the singer a small dose of propofol — 25 milligrams — that seemed to put him to sleep. The doctor said he felt it was safe to leave his patient's bedside for a few minutes, but Jackson was not breathing when he returned.

Witnesses said he was most likely dead at that point.

What happened next was a matter of dispute during the trial. Security and household staff described Murray as panicked, never calling 911 but trying to give Jackson CPR on his bed instead of the firm floor.

A guard said Murray was concerned with packing up and hiding medicine bottles and IV equipment before telling him to call 911. Prosecutors said Murray was distracted while Jackson was sedated, citing Murray's cellphone records to show he made numerous calls.

Authorities never accused Murray of intending to kill the star, and it took eight months for them to file the involuntary manslaughter charge against him. It was the lowest possible felony charge involving a homicide.

There was no law against administering propofol or the other sedatives. But prosecution expert witnesses said Murray was acting well below the standard of care required of a physician.

They said using propofol in a home setting without life-saving equipment on hand was an egregious deviation from that standard. They called it gross negligence, the legal basis for an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The defence team countered with its own expert who presented calculations suggesting that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose.

In closing arguments, the prosecutor said the mystery of what happened behind the closed doors of Jackson's bedroom on the fatal day probably would never be solved.

Michael Jackson’s Doctor Found Guilty In Singer’s Death

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 07, 2011) LOS ANGELES—
Michael Jackson's doctor was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver who administered a lethal dose of a powerful anesthetic that killed the pop star.

The verdict against
Dr. Conrad Murray marked the latest chapter in one of pop culture's most shocking tragedies — the death of the King of Pop on the eve of the singer's heavily promoted comeback concerts.

Murray sat stone-faced and showed little reaction at the verdict.

He was handcuffed and taken into custody without bail until sentencing on Nov. 29. Murray appeared calm as officials led him out of the courtroom.

There was a shriek in the courtroom when the verdict was read, and the crowd erupted outside the courthouse. The judge polled the jury, and each juror answered "yes" when asked whether their verdict was guilty.

The jury deliberated less than nine hours. The Houston cardiologist, 58, faces a sentence of up to four years in prison. He could also lose his medical licence.

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, and details of his final days dribbled out over several months.

The complete story, however, finally emerged during the six-week trial. It was the tale of a tormented genius on the brink of what might have been his greatest triumph with one impediment standing in his way — extreme insomnia.

Testimony came from medical experts, household employees and Murray's former girlfriends, among others.

The most shocking moments, however, came when prosecutors displayed a large picture of Jackson's gaunt, lifeless body on a hospital gurney and played the sound of his drugged, slurred voice, as recorded by Murray just weeks before the singer's death.

Jackson talked about plans for a fantastic children's hospital and his hope of cementing a legacy larger than that of Elvis Presley or The Beatles.

"We have to be phenomenal," he said about his "This Is It" concerts in London. "When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.'"

Throughout the trial, Jackson family members watched from the spectator gallery, fans gathered outside with signs and T-shirts demanding, "Justice for Michael," and an international press corps broadcast reports around the world. The trial was televised and streamed on the Internet.

Prosecutors portrayed Murray as an incompetent doctor who used the anesthetic propofol without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left Jackson abandoned as he lay dying.

Murray's lawyers sought to show the doctor was a medical angel of mercy with former patients vouching for his skills. Murray told police from the outset that he gave Jackson propofol and other sedatives as the star struggled for sleep to prepare for his shows. But the doctor said he administered only a small dose on the day Jackson died.

Lawyers for Murray and a defence expert blamed Jackson for his own death, saying the singer gave himself the fatal dose of propofol while Murray wasn't watching. A prosecution expert said that theory was crazy.

Murray said he had formed a close friendship with Jackson, never meant to harm him and couldn't explain why he died.

The circumstances of Jackson's death at the age of 50 were as bizarre as any chapter in the superstar's sensational life story.

Jackson was found not breathing in his own bed in his rented mansion after being dosed intravenously with propofol, a drug normally administered in hospitals during surgery.

The coroner ruled the case a homicide and the blame would fall to the last person who had seen Jackson alive — Murray, who had been hired to care for the singer as the comeback concerts neared.

Craving sleep, Jackson had searched for a doctor who would give him the intravenous anesthetic that Jackson called his "milk" and believed to be his salvation. Other medical professionals turned him down, according to trial testimony.

Murray gave up his practices in Houston and Las Vegas and agreed to travel with Jackson and work as his personal physician indefinitely.

For six weeks, as Jackson undertook strenuous rehearsals, Murray infused him with propofol every night, the doctor told police. He later tried to wean Jackson from the drug because he feared he was becoming addicted.

Jackson planned to pay Murray $150,000 a month for an extended tour in Europe. In the end, the doctor was never paid a penny because Jackson died before signing the contract.

During the last 24 hours of his life, Jackson sang and danced at a spirited rehearsal, revelling in the adulation of fans who greeted him outside. Then came a night of horror, chasing sleep — the most elusive treasure the millionaire entertainer could not buy.

Testimony showed Murray gave Jackson intravenous doses that night of the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. Jackson also took a Valium pill. But nothing seemed to bring sleep.

Finally, Murray told police, he gave the singer a small dose of propofol — 25 milligrams — that seemed to put him to sleep. The doctor said he felt it was safe to leave his patient's bedside for a few minutes, but Jackson was not breathing when he returned.

Witnesses said he was most likely dead at that point.

What happened next was a matter of dispute during the trial. Security and household staff described Murray as panicked, never calling 911 but trying to give Jackson CPR on his bed instead of the firm floor.

A guard said Murray was concerned with packing up and hiding medicine bottles and IV equipment before telling him to call 911. Prosecutors said Murray was distracted while Jackson was sedated, citing Murray's cellphone records to show he made numerous calls.

Authorities never accused Murray of intending to kill the star, and it took eight months for them to file the involuntary manslaughter charge against him. It was the lowest possible felony charge involving a homicide.

There was no law against administering propofol or the other sedatives. But prosecution expert witnesses said Murray was acting well below the standard of care required of a physician.

They said using propofol in a home setting without life-saving equipment on hand was an egregious deviation from that standard. They called it gross negligence, the legal basis for an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The defence team countered with its own expert who presented calculations suggesting that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose.

In closing arguments, the prosecutor said the mystery of what happened behind the closed doors of Jackson's bedroom on the fatal day probably would never be solved.

VIDEO: Nicki Minaj to Release Songs under Gay Male Alter-Ego

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 9, 2011) *
Nicki Minaj has announced that she will put out new music under her gay male alter-ego “Roman Zolanski.”

In a blog post that has since been removed, the rapper said she plans to “address the nation” in several new songs as the invented character, who was introduced to fans on “Roman’s Revenge,” the track co-written by Eminem that opens her debut album “Pink Friday.” [Listen below.]

“Roman will be in rare form this time. you know why? cuz he no longer gives a f**k,” Minaj wrote on her blog. “He realized that his core matters the most. everyone else will figure it the f**k out. he can no longer be censored. that’s not lewinsky on a$$. its roman. he has 2 more weeks in boarding school. we’re going to pick him up now. when he lands, he will address the nation in the form of music. he will also announce the date. *salutes the nation* love u always. (sic)”

Nicki also hinted in the post that she will announce new music on the one-year anniversary of “Pink Friday,” which was released on Nov. 19 2010.

Minaj has been working on tracks in Los Angeles with producer Kane Beatz, who recently said of their sessions: “It’s crazy. We got one [track] so far. She just started, so she’s really picking her music and picking the songs. She’s real selective. She’ll pick all the beats before she even starts writing, so right now, we’re just getting music together, and it’s going crazy right now.”

Kane produced “Super Bass,” “Dear Old Nicki” and “I’m the Best” on “Pink Friday.”

Noel Gallagher Gives The Faithful Just Enough

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Nov. 08, 2011) Were it possible to view
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds as something other than, y’know, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the scene at Massey Hall on Monday night would have been rather typical of chronically Anglophilic Toronto: a large, enthusiastic turnout for the debut local gig by an unproven U.K. act arriving on Canadian soil with a tsunami of hype behind it and doing its best to live up to outsized expectations.

Such a flight of fancy is impossible, of course, when you’re plunked into a room with 2,700 obvious Oasis devotees agitatedly awaiting the introductory chords to “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and fairly certain — this, after all, being a performance by Noel Gallagher and not, say, Lou Reed — that they’ll eventually get at least a taste of what they want.

And, career populist that he is, Gallagher shrewdly got the room on side off the top of his 90-minute set by dangling a couple of (relative) Oasis obscurities as tantalizing openers. The 1994 B-side “(It’s Good) To Be Free” proffered a succinct, tactful statement of “living well is the best revenge” contentment two years and a bit on from the fatal blowout with younger brother Liam (now fronting Beady Eye) that finally laid Oasis to rest; then a promisingly scruffy attack on “Mucky Fingers,” a Velvet Underground-esque shambler overlooked on 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth, threw a touch of swagger into that sunny, feel-good vibe, coyly declaring: “It’s all mine/ It’s all mine.”

Such bravado was distinctly absent, however, during most of the material from High Flying Birds’ self-titled debut disc, officially released on these shores the next day. The tunes are amiable enough — particularly the über-Gallagher-esque “Dream On” and the sticky single “The Death of You and Me” — but for the first half of the program they were executed with a studious, unflashy competence that reminded you that this was a new band on the first date of its first North American tour fronted by a chap who’s still finding his feet in the spotlight.

So maybe Noel misses his band, after all — yet he easily reduced the room to jelly, and from there on in Gallagher and his four Birds seemed to absorb some of the energy being beamed at them and turned it on a bit more confidently. The previously stoic Noel even loosened up enough to crack a few jokes about his kids and his cat “demolishing my house” while he’s away on tour, too. This was more like it.

“(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine” had a noticeably bigger crunch than the album version. “AKA . . . What a Life!” stomped so hard that one later wondered why it wasn’t chosen to close the main set instead of “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach.” A couple more plaintive Oasis chestnuts, “Talk Tonight” and “Half the World Away,” strung amongst the new stuff, meanwhile, helped ensure a ravenous demand for an encore that would inevitably send the faithful home satisfied with, yes, “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

Still, the lack of genuine razzle-dazzle onstage through the night provided ample time to remark upon the accomplished, but ultimately wearisome functionality of the High Flying Birds’ songbook to date. Not a lot of peaks and valleys there. Not yet, anyway. If this had been the latest Oasis-worshipping upstart sensation breathlessly catapulted across the pond by the NME, we might have pronounced it “an above-average contemporary torch bearer for ’90s Brit-pop” or “derivative, yet brimming with potential” or something and judged it favourably against the likes of Kasabian. But this was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, so maybe we expected a bit more.

Monica, Janelle Monae in ASCAP’s ‘Women Behind the Music’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 7, 2011) *ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) kicks off its 3rd annual ASCAP Presents…
Women Behind the Music Series Nov. 9th in New York City with Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Monica, music industry executive Phillana Williams and music industry powerbroker, manager and executive, Mona Scott-Young. The series is designed to encourage and recognize women in the music community, highlighting not only women songwriters and artists, but women working in all facets of the business, including managers, attorneys, label executives and music publishers. This year’s series is sponsored by “Qream created by Pharrell Williams.”

Following New York City, the series then heads to Los Angeles (Nov. 10) with Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and performer Siedah Garrett and Atlanta (Nov. 18) with Grammy nominated singer/songwriter artist Janelle Monae.

Each event features three honorees and a moderator who will share “Her Story” about navigating the music business. The honorees will be presented with a special memento in recognition of their contributions to music.

Last year’s series included Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child, singer/songwriter Melanie Fiona and Sheila E amongst other entertainers and industry executives.


Strange Bedfellows: New Winehouse, Bieber, Mumfords And More

www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(Nov 06, 2011) It's been a weird day or so: two new Amy Winehouse tracks ("Like Smoke," featuring Nas, and a cover of the '60s hit by Ruby and the Romantics, "Our Day Will Come") from her upcoming posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures appeared and vanished from the Net (though you can still hear the former here and the latter here), and something similar happened to honorary Canadian Robin Thicke's "Pretty Lil Heart," a collaboration with Lil Wayne. But we still have Justin Bieber rapping over Kanye West and Jay-Z's "Otis": Maybe the strangest fusion of the day, though, is empty-calories synth-popper Taio Cruz - the "Dynamite" and "I'll never break break, break break, your heart" guy - covering Mumford and Sons' "Little Lion Man." He doesn't quite squeeze all the human feeling out, either:



Ashanti Rumored to Replace Fergie in Black Eyed Peas

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 5, 2011) *It looks as if there will be a change in the line-up of the Black
Eyed Peas. BEP’s Fergie has been wanting to go on hiatus so she can focus on starting a family with her husband, actor Josh Duhamel, and it is rumored that singer Ashanti will replace Fergie as the lone female member of the group. Fergie is planning to take an indefinite leave of absence after the BEP’s last scheduled show of Nov. 23. Ashanti was reportedly brought onto the group’s world tour as an audition to see if she could work with the band. Ashanti has been touring with BEP for the past month, and according to insiders, she has fit in perfectly with the group. “The group has been looking for a replacement for some time,” revealed a top music industry executive. There will reportedly be an official announcement sometime this month. Taboo told the New York Times, “We have to respect FergieFergie is our sister. She definitely wants to have a family and we’re happy for her.”

Songs Worth A Listen

Source: www.globeandmail.com

Beyoncé (available here)

With her lacquered finger on the pulse,
Beyoncé pays tribute to the 99 per cent with this trailer-park visualization of her laid-back remixed song about having fun. The diva primps in crowded quarters, floats in a back-yard swimming pool and flicks Cheezies at the camera. But replacing André 3000’s album rap with a humdrum effort by J. Cole is one step too far down-market.

Prince Sets Concert Dates in Canada

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 7, 2011) *Music legend
Prince, who wrapped up his tour of Europe this summer, announced on Sunday his plans to tour Canada for an 11-date run beginning late November. Titled “Welcome 2 Canada,” Prince plans to launch the tour with a two-night stand in Toronto on Nov. 25-26. The tour stops in cities including Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver, and wraps up on December 17 in Victoria, British Columbia. Click here for the complete tour schedule and more information: http://promo.livenation.com/prince

Maurette Brown Clark Releases New Album ‘The Sound of Victory on Atlanta’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 4, 2011) *Stellar Award-winning Gospel music artist 
Maurette Brown Clark, recently released her highly anticipated fourth solo album “The Sound of Victory on Atlanta.” Torrez Harris, program director of Hallelujah FM in Jackson, Miss. said, “I think a listener said it best ‘Maurette is always speaking into my situation.’  Maurette Brown Clark does it again!” With soul touching lyrics and Clark’s vocal prowess that have made her a favorite amongst lovers of great music, the album includes songs like, “Awesome God,” “Don’t Be Discouraged (God Will See You Through).” A native of Long Island, NY, Brown Clark began singing at a very young age with her family group, The Brown Singers, and she counts legendary artists including Pastor Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans and her mentor, Richard Smallwood as major influences. After graduating from college, she released her first solo album, “How I Feel,” in 1998 and earned a Stellar Award for Best New Artist in 2000.  She went on to release two more acclaimed CDs, By His Grace in 2002 and The Dream in 2007.

Broken Social Scene Plays Final Show In Rio De Janeiro

Source: www.thestar.com - By Josh Tapper

(Nov 9, 2011) After announcing back in August that they would begin an indefinite
hiatus in the fall, Canadian indie rockers Broken Social Scene made good on their word yesterday, claiming that their show last night in Rio de Janeiro was their last. The announcement sparked a firestorm on Twitter as fans lamented the perceived breakup of the Toronto band.  The band’s label, Arts & Crafts, can neither confirm nor deny whether the announcement means Broken Social Scene will break up for good. Its history has been marked by a revolving door of lineup changes, side projects and solo ventures, so only time will tell.

VIDEO: Adele on the Mend Following Throat Surgery

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 8, 2011)
Adele attends the Barclaycard Mercury Prize at Grosvenor House, on September 6, 2011 in London, England *British singer Adele is expected to make a full recovery from “vocal cord microsurgery,” reports Time magazine. The Grammy winner had the procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, performed by Dr. Steven Zeitels, head of the Voice Center, who has previously operated on Steven Tyler. The operation should stop recurrent bleeding and prevent possible rupture from a benign polyp. In October, the 23-year-old singer-songwriting sensation was forced to scrap her remaining concert dates and appearances for the rest of the year. ”If I continue to pick up everything before I have properly conquered these problems and nipped them in the bud, I will be totally and utterly f___,” she said on her blog recently. “Singing is literally my life, it’s my hobby, my love, my freedom and now my job.” Adele had already told fans that she’s given up smoking and drinking to save the voice heard below in her single “Someone Like You.”

::FILM NEWS::    

Karine Vanasse’s Maiden U.S. Voyage

www.thestar.com - By Hamish McKenzie

(Nov 04, 2011) At 25 years old and having just finished work on the
movie Polytechnique, Karine Vanasse thought she was too old to move to the U.S. to find stardom.

But after winning the Genie Award for Best Actress for her work on the film, she decided to branch out beyond the Quebec market in which she has been household name since starring in 1999’s Emporte-moi as a 16-year-old.

“I said, ‘Well, maybe I should try to develop the European market and maybe I should try to work a bit more on the English side of Canada,” says the petite 27-year-old. She’s sitting at a table in a small conference room at New York’s Steiner Studios, dressed in the powder-blue stewardess uniform that is her main garb for her role as Colette in the TV show Pan Am.

The 1960s airline drama was the first show she auditioned for since making the decision. “I was really lucky.”

Pan Am focuses on four stewardesses who travel the world with the iconic airline just as a boom in commercial air travel is taking off. Taking its cue from Mad Men, the show faithfully reproduces the era between wars when America was experiencing a moral awakening marked by the emerging civil rights and feminist movements.

Vanasse has been struck by the conflicting messages women in the 1960s received even as they were beginning to discover new freedoms. “What amazes me the most is that contradiction: ‘Yes, you’ll be able to see the world and have your own money, you’ll be an independent woman,’ but at the same time it’ll be, ‘Come here and how much do you weigh this morning?’”

With a big budget, a new market and Christina Ricci as her co-star, Vanasse also found herself in the unusual position of being a novice. “On my first day on set, I just sat there with the crew just trying to remind myself that, ‘Okay, they’re doing the same thing as the crew I see in Quebec and in France; I guess I should be doing exactly the same thing then.’”

Being relatively anonymous in the U.S., however, has helped her make a smooth transition to this new phase in her career. “Sometimes to make that switch of going from a young actress to a more mature one, it’s really helpful to arrive somewhere where people have absolutely no references of who you were at 12.”

Pan Am, which airs on CTV on Sundays at 10 p.m., got off to a strong start in the U.S. with its pilot episode pulling in 11 million viewers, but its ratings have since dropped precipitously. It debuted to almost two million viewers in Canada but has levelled out at about 1.4 million. Some critics have speculated the show could face the axe.

And so again, Vanasse finds herself in a new situation. In Canada, she didn’t experience such tight scrutiny of a show’s performance.

“You feel that there’s so many things are evaluated all the time and you feel that you’re just always on the edge of being cancelled,” she says with a small laugh. In Quebec, it’s a matter of shooting a show’s first season and then waiting to see if it gets renewed. “You’re not questioning, and the audience is certainly not questioning, if the show will be there the week after.”

The good news for Vanasse and Pan Am is that the show’s ratings in the U.S. picked up for the most recent episode: increasing 6 per cent to reach 5.9 million viewers. Perhaps this will be a long-haul flight after all.

Paul Haggis Takes On Canadian Film Centre Role

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon

(Nov 07, 2011) Acclaimed film director
Paul Haggis sounded a little stunned when asked about his new position as chair of film programs at the prestigious Canadian Film Centre in Toronto.

Is it just a titular position given to Oscar-winning filmmakers, with few actual duties? "Well, I certainly hope it is, because I want to do as little as possible," Haggis joked.

No, he said, quickly correcting himself, the job will likely bring the U.S.-based, Canadian-born director to Toronto repeatedly to teach a master class at the CFC, possibly annually. As well, Haggis will have a hand in overseeing the institute's advanced filmmaking programs.

Situated in the north end of the city, on a tract of bucolic land, the CFC was founded by celebrated film director Norman Jewison as a centre for refining the talents of already promising filmmakers. Sarah Polley and Don McKellar are among its more illustrious alumni.

"Norman asked me to do this, and you can never say no to Norman. Not only is he a cultural icon, he's a brilliant filmmaker and a very persuasive human being," Haggis said. "He's been an idol of mine for years and been very kind to me, and given me advice over time."

He added that the CFC is "a wonderful institution, and they are turning out terrific candidates, from what I've seen. I've met some of them this year at the Toronto film festival, and over the last two years. I've been really impressed."

In fact, the director himself got to know Jewison at the Toronto International Film Festival back when Haggis was promoting his 2004 film Crash. "He was very kind to me at the time and said some lovely things about the film," Haggis said, noting that Jewison's best career advice was simply setting an example for Haggis to follow.

Among the first initiatives Haggis said he would like to help implement for the CFC is a partnership with a film school located in Haiti, the Ciné Institute in the town of Jacmel, which just graduated its first 40 students, according to Haggis. The director has been heavily involved in fundraising for the earthquake-ravaged country.

Now living in New York after years in Los Angeles, Haggis said it will be relatively easier now for him to fly up to Toronto whenever he can. Still, his schedule is busy, with a new film, Third Person, in the casting and financing stage and likely to start shooting in May. (Haggis would only say that it revolves around multiple characters and multiple storylines.) He is also working on a couple of other scripts.

"It's hard when you're trying to make movies at the same time. You never know what your schedule's going to be."

Mickey Rourke Has A Hankering For Hogtown

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Nov 9, 2011) “I’d like a table for two at the Brass Rail, please.”

Mickey Rourke starts the conversation with a joking reference to the Yonge St. strip club when he learns a Toronto writer is on the phone to talk about his latest movie, Immortals, opening Friday.

Directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell; The Fall) and produced by the team behind 300, the 3-D drama follows a group of Greek villagers, led by Theseus (Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill), who get some help from Zeus to save the ancient world from power-mad monarch King Hyperion (Rourke).

Rourke was in Los Angeles doing promotion work for Immortals, leading up to his being honoured with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame Nov. 1. Tough guy Rourke surprised the crowd with a teary dedication to his grandmother.

But if he had a choice, the 59-year-old Oscar nominee and former boxer would rather be in Hogtown than Hollywood.

“I have fond memories of Toronto,” said the raspy-voiced actor, who starred in Diner, Rumble Fish and 9 ½ Weeks before quitting acting in 1991 to become a pro boxer. He made his comeback in Sin City in 2005, followed by an Oscar-nominated turn in 2008 as a broken-down grappler in The Wrestler.

“I know Toronto . . . it’s a city I could live in, I like the city a lot,” added Rourke, mentioning Oliver Geddes, owner of The Fifth Restaurant and Social Club, as “one of my closest friends in the world.”

The last time Rourke was in town was for the premiere of Passion Play at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010, along with Bill Murray and Megan Fox. Rourke is quick to point out Toronto stacks up better against Montreal, the city where he shot Immortals.

“I heard so much about Montreal. Everybody kept telling me about Montreal. Get me back to Toronto, please,” said Rourke. “I had better food and better nightlife in Toronto.”

If he did move here, would Rourke be more of a condo-by-the-lake guy or mansion-with-property-guy?

“I’m a hotel guy,” he said, laughing.

Whatever the address, it would have to be a place that allows pets. Rourke dotes on his four chihuahuas and admitted he’s still mourning the loss of his beloved favourite, Loki, who died in 2009.

“I’m still kind of healing over losing Loki,” he said. “It’s not quite the same yet for me.

“I love my other four. She was very ill when I brought her up to Toronto (in 2008). It was one of her last trips. I’ve had two generations of dogs and had a special bond with Loki and her father, Beau Jack. Beau Jack pissed on every fire hydrant in Toronto.”

Rourke is not one to pull punches. He speaks plainly, talks quickly and seems to get bored easily unless the conversation moves along at a good pace. He deflects a question about ex-wife Carré Otis’s tell-all book Beauty Disrupted, which talks about her “dysfunctional marriage” to Rourke, with two words: “Next question.”

So the talk returns to Immortals (he forgets the name of the movie at one point and asks a publicist to remind him) but he doesn’t want to talk about what it’s like to work on such an effects-heavy movie.

“One of the (issues) in Cannes after Sin City (premiered) was ‘Mickey will not answer any question about green screen.’ There’s no f---ing difference, you just make a little adjustment.”

Yet is he surprised to see the final version of these films when all of the computer images are included?

“I don’t usually see the final product for several years,” he admitted. “I saw this one because the character is so way different from me. It was a period piece and he had all this s--t on his face.”

He added he took the job because he was anxious to work with Singh. “I don’t know if I would have done the movie if it wasn’t a director of his calibre.”

The daily ritual of getting into Hyperion’s elaborate scar-face makeup and layered wardrobe, created by celebrated Japanese costume designer Eiko Ishioka, was more physically challenging than the fighting required for the role, said Rourke.

“The hardest thing in the movie was putting on the clothes,” he said. “It was layers of armour and was all heavy leather and ‘Oh, f--k, I’ve got to put those on.’ It took three people to get me dressed every day.”

He didn’t have to train for the King Hyperion role with the same dedication he used for The Wrestler — “that practically killed me,” Rourke said. Good thing, too. The actor had barely recovered from surgery in Germany to mend a torn bicep, an injury he suffered earlier this year during a 4 a.m., tequila-fuelled arm-wrestling bout with rugby players in a London bar.

Rourke was hanging with the players as part of his research for his next role, playing once-closeted gay rugby star, Gareth Thomas. Rourke, who has been training hard for the role, wrote the script and will star in The Beautiful Game, which starts shooting in March.

As for what’s next, Rourke said he hasn’t heard a word about Frank Miller’s Sin City 2, rumoured to be in development, and in typical Rourke fashion he shoots down industry chatter he will soon start work on Seven Psychopaths with Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken.

“I’m not doing it. The producer’s an ass----. You can put that in big quotes.”

For a future Toronto resident — anything.

France Honours Vancouver Film Programmer

www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Nov 05, 2011) Veteran film programmer Jim Sinclair is very big on sharing his love for the cinema, no matter how small the audience. His son was only 7, maybe 8, when Dad first showed him Citizen Kane. Dad tried again last week, just before his son's 12th birthday. "He gets mad at me when I force him to watch it," says Sinclair, who has been artistic director at Vancouver's Pacific Cinémathèque since 1988 and executive director since 1991. "But I think he appreciated it more the second time."

Sinclair's appreciation for film developed at university, on his way to a law degree. What he learned changed his career path (he got the law degree, but never articled) and his life. And the lives of others.

On Tuesday, Sinclair will become a Knight of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (The Order of Arts and Literature), honoured for his ongoing efforts to spread the word about French and European cinema - and not just to his son.

"I was flummoxed," says Sinclair, 53, who will receive the honour in Vancouver. "It was right out of the blue."

The Globe talked to Sinclair about cinema and knights (and a few other things).

First exposure to European cinema:

"During my fourth year of my BA at the University of Edmonton, on a complete lark I took a course on an introduction to the history of film. I thought: This looks easy; just watch movies."

First impressions of European cinema:

"I wasn't completely sold on these films at first; they were different than what I was used to as a 19-year-old, 20-year-old, certainly in their narrative style. They were more challenging. I remember seeing some of these films and thinking what the heck? And thinking: Okay now I need to go to the lecture and figure out why this is supposed to be any good."

Favourite film before taking that course:

He didn't have one.

Favourite French film:

Understandably, he can't narrow it down to even a short list, but among his favourites are Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game and Grand Illusion; and Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend, which happens to be playing at the Cinémathèque next month.

Favourite legal film:

"I can't think of one. One of the reasons I didn't pursue law was I had seen too many legal dramas and was totally naive about what the profession was like. I'd grown up watching crusading lawyers on TV. Then I actually got into law school and discovered that it was a much more conservative and much less dramatic kind of work. So I might blame movies and television for sending me down the wrong path there."

Favourite film about knights:

"As a serious film programmer and particularly one who's being honoured by the government of France, it probably behooves me to say something like Lancelot du Lac by the French master Robert Bresson. It's a great austere anti-heroic masterpiece. And by the way, we're showing it in April because the Cinémathèque is showing a Bresson retrospective. But there's a great big kid inside of me who would also say there's another great - definitely not austere - but also anti-heroic masterpiece, and that's Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Any reason why you shouldn't be knighted?

"Julian Barnes, William S. Burroughs, Bob Dylan, Rudolf Nureyev, Philip Glass: These are some of the folks that have gotten this honour in recent years so I just think, well, come on. When I was first surprised to learn that I'd won this honour, my first impulse was 'I don't deserve this.' And my second impulse was: 'I love the French.' And I love the French because they love culture."

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Eddie Murphy Bows Out Of Oscars

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Nov 9, 2011) Comedian
Eddie Murphy bowed out on Wednesday as host of the upcoming Oscars, one day after Brett Ratner, the producer who had lured Murphy into the role, resigned following an uproar over his use of a gay slur.

"I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, said in a statement.

On Tuesday Ratner resigned from the high-profile job as Oscar producer in the face of an industry firestorm over his answer to a question at a screening this past weekend of his new comedy, Tower Heist, in which Murphy stars.

Ratner was asked about using rehearsals ahead of the film shoot, and he replied "rehearsing is for fags." He later apologized publicly, but gay rights groups and some members of the academy took issue with his use of the slur.

"First and foremost, I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony," Murphy said in a statement.

"I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job," Murphy said.

The academy did not name a replacement for either Murphy or Ratner, but speculation has been high in Hollywood since the weekend flap over Ratner's statement.

Show business newspaper The Hollywood Reporter published a story Wednesday saying A Beautiful Mind producer Brian Grazer was in talks to produce the world's top film honours, which will take place in February, 2012. But the report, which was based on sources, could not be immediately confirmed.

Whoever is hired will be working with co-producer Don Mischer, a veteran of the awards show.

Coming to America 23 Years Later: 4 African Immigrants and Their Stories

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Jasmyne Cannick

(Nov 7, 2011) It’s been 23 years since Zamunda’s Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) came to New York City in search of his bride in the hit movie
Coming to America. And while much of the nation has been focused on the illegal immigration of Latino’s, tens of thousands of African immigrants have crossed the Atlantic to come to America in pursuit of their own dreams.  Here are a few of their stories.

Los Angeles has long been a dream for immigrants hailing from various parts of Africa. The United States Census estimates the current population of African immigrants at about 881,300. With so few numbers in the disparate communities, Africans are a silent minority, carrying a very low profile. They are less likely than other immigrants, say Latinos, to question political decisions. And many come from countries where the political consequences for questioning government can be harsh.

Most Africans seem to take the position, that while things are not perfect here, African Americans, comparatively speaking, have it much better than they realize.

In Los Angeles County, there are about 26,000 Africans, representing almost 3 percent of the Black population. The African nations with the most immigrants in Los Angeles County include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. Like immigrants from other places, Africans tend to congregate in areas where other countrymen already are. Inglewood has become ground zero for many Nigerian families while Carson boasts a large number of Ghanaians. Orange County is a popular destination for both Sierra Leoneans and Kenyans, and Ethiopians numbers are largest in the Fairfax District of the city.

While this article involves only four African communities, it hopefully gives a glimpse into an often overlooked segment of immigrants. In L.A.’s close-knit African communities, many still view America’s educational system as among the best in the world, despite its problems. One reason why: it’s free.

Kehinde Ololade, Nigeria

“In Africa, nothing was given to us,” explains Nigerian native and business owner Kehinde Ololade, 46. “I had to walk to school. My parents had to pay for our tuition and for us to have a desk, a chair, textbooks, and uniforms. Education was not free. Our classrooms had no air conditioning. Too many American children take education for granted. I stress the importance of a good education every day with my children.”

She’s not alone. Ololade, like millions of other African immigrants, finds it hard to believe that American children don’t want to go to school.

“You read about the dropout rates, especially among Black American students, and it’s sad,” she says. “There are so many African kids who would risk their lives for the chance to come here and go to school.”

The Lagos, Nigeria, native and popular mid-city hair salon owner, recalls coming to America in 1987, following the pattern of other African nationals who took advantage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that saw an estimated 1 million Africans immigrate to the United States.

“I came here alone,” she recalls.  First arriving in San Diego, she remembers getting her first job at a local Jack in the Box restaurant.

From there, Ololade says she had a string of jobs, ranging from a parking-lot attendant in Boston, home health aide in New York, before eventually settling in Houston as a shipping and receiving manager with a part-time seasonal job at the post office.

By the time Ololade moved to Houston, she was a single mother, having been married and divorced.

“When I got laid off in Houston, I decided to follow my passion for styling hair,” she says. “Back home in Lagos, I was always doing everyone’s hair.”

Ololade then enrolled in Franklin Beauty School in Houston, getting her cosmetology license before moving to Los Angeles in 1995.

In 1998, she opened the Spice Salon on Pico Boulevard, just east of La Brea Avenue.

“It wasn’t easy, but I saved my money,” she says. “I saved my money, found investors, and had help from my brother.”

Remembering those first days of running her own business while having a son to care for, she says, “there were some days when I would just pray for someone to walk through the door. There were days when I only had water to drink and no food.”

But 13 years later, the Spice Salon is thriving, and Ololade’s dream has been realized. Her son Zana, 17, is a senior at Harvard-Westlake School and has full scholarship offers from USC, UC Berkeley and Harvard, to name a few. A homeowner in the North Hills section of the San Fernando Valley since 2002, Ololade soon remarried, and in 2005 gave birth to fraternal twins, Lola and Ola.

Reflecting on her journey, Ololade says that life wasn’t easy. As the fifth of 11 children, she remembers her constant yearning to leave Nigeria and go somewhere she felt she could be free.

“Back home as a woman you are expected to live at home with your parents until you marry, and after you get married you are expected to stay home with the kids. I didn’t want that lifestyle right away.  I wanted to explore me and be more independent.”

Ololade says that both she and her husband stress education with their children.

On the issue of the DREAM Act, which makes illegal immigrants eligible to receive state financial aid to attend California universities and community colleges, among other things, she says, “I support it because there are kids in America who really want to go to school, and there are kids who take it for granted.” [On the whole, however, very few Africans come to the U.S. illegally.]

But Ololade, like many other African immigrants, feels that the conversation leading up to the DREAM Act excluded Black people.

“You never hear them mention Africans,” Ololade says. “Even though many of us supported the DREAM Act and have as much to gain from its passage as Latinos do, they [Latinos] never reached out to the Africans here in California. It’s like to them we don’t exist. The same with the elected officials.”

Connect with Kehinde on Facebook

Cecil Williams, Sierra Leone

Cecil Williams, whose family lost their Krio tribal name when the nation was colonized by the British, is making the most of his time in America. Having escaped to Los Angeles during the height of the Sierra Leone Civil War, which lasted 11 years and resulted in more than 50,000 killed and even more mutilated and raped, the middle child of three says that it was never a question about whether or not he was going to college, only where.

Williams finished high school in neighboring Gambia. While there, he applied to several American colleges and universities.

“I didn’t wait for an American college to find me,” he remembers. “I went and found an American college, and it wasn’t an easy process. Technology in Africa is not the same as it is in America. Even finding a computer with reliable Internet access can be a daunting process, but I was determined, as were my parents.”

Williams applied to and was accepted at Glendale Community College.
But that was only half the battle. The other half included obtaining a student visa—an arduous process that includes filling out an application, submitting various documents, a review of parents’ bank statements to show that they can afford to pay for their child’s education, a lengthy waiting period and then the interview.

“The process is very tense and gut-wrenching,” he says in his distinctly British accent. “It’s not guaranteed. I know people who didn’t get it, because maybe they answered a question wrong or had never left the country before and were deemed a risk. If you have never been on a plane, it can affect your chances for a visa.”

Williams says that the night before and the morning of the interview is usually spent praying.

“It’s a difficult process and little has been done to educate African students about the process.”

Williams says that it’s because of students who graduated before him and obtained their student visas that he was able to learn the process, because the U.S. Embassies in Africa do very little to help African students with information on applying.

“I didn’t know anyone in Los Angeles when I moved here,” he says.

He remembers being amazed by California’s freeway system.

Laughing, he remembers, “I thought, how am I going to be able to drive here and get around?”

Williams’ educational journey has taken him from Glendale Community College to Cerritos College and then California State University, Long Beach, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, with an emphasis in management information systems.

“Dropping out was never an option,” according to Williams. “My family sacrificed a lot for me to come here and get an education, so I had a responsibility to graduate.”

A supporter of the DREAM Act, Williams believes that the younger generation is America’s future, no matter their status or country of origin.

Today, Williams lives in Bellflower and works as a sales coordinator for a metals company in Paramount during the day. His passion, however, lies with Royal Dynamite T-Shirts, a business he owns with his partner, fellow Sierra Leonean Raphael Saye, whom he met after joining the Leone Stars of Southern California, a local soccer team comprised of mainly of Sierra Leoneans.

An up-and-coming company, Royal Dynamite was officially launched in 2010 and features an assortment of socially conscious T-shirts.

“When we first launched, we sold 60 T-shirts in one week,” Williams says excitedly. “We knew we were on to something, and from there we’ve been careful to study the business and the market.”

Williams says there are plans in the near future to have consumers design T-shirts. In addition, both he and Saye remain committed to using a portion of the profits to help children in Sierra Leone.

Thanks to his employer, Williams has a green card that’s valid for 10 years, during which time he can apply for citizenship, something he says he plans to do.

“My parents, who were educated in England, were given the same opportunity [for citizenship] when they graduated, but didn’t take advantage of it. Consequently, during the war we couldn’t leave and go to England. I don’t want to make the same mistake in case something like that were to happen again in Sierra Leone.”

Connect with Cecil on Facebook

Marcel Bwanga, Sierra Leone

Popular musician
Marcel Bwanga, 46, has been in America 13 years. The talented musician and father of twin girls, says that it was his music that paved the way for him to live in America after native Cameroonian Ndedi Eyango, more commonly known as Prince Eyango, signed him to his U.S.-based record label Preya Music.

Bwanga began his music career in the early 1980s, singing and writing original songs for artists in Cameroon. Specializing in Makossa, a popular Cameroonian style of music originating from the Douala region, at the age of 15 he was invited to tour the African content with Nigerian singer Nico Mbarga and his band. At 16, Bwanga went to Europe where he continued performing and writing songs for other artists, including Jimmy Cliff and the popular Les Nubians.

Bwanga’s most popular song, “Ndolo L’Amour,” was made famous by Cameroonian artist Pierre De Moussy.

Reflecting back on Cameroon and his musical start, Bwanga says that he used music as an outlet.

“My parents were always fighting,” he says. “They fought so much that I turned to music to drown out their voices.”

College-educated in Spain, Bwanga obtained a degree in languages and speaks English, French, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Italian, and the Cameroonian dialect Duala.

A divorced father with twin 12-year-old girls, Bwanga stresses education with his daughters.

“They have more opportunities that I had growing up because they are here in America,” he says in his thick Cameroonian accent.

“It’s imperative to make sure that they take full advantage of America’s educational system, including attending college. They are lucky; they don’t have to rely on a talent to get them out of their native country and into another. They are Americans by birth.”

On the issue of the DREAM Act, Bwanga like many other African immigrants, feels that if there are children who want to go to college, they should be able to, regardless of their status.

“This is America, the land of dreams. Why not?”

Connect with Marcel on Facebook

Dickson Ngunjiri, Kenya

Dickson Ngunjiri, 36, a native of Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa, came to America in 2001 to visit a cousin in Massachusetts and never left. Impressed with life in America and the opportunity for advancement, he decided to apply for admission at Clark University in Worchester, Mass., and was accepted. Having already completed a bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in mathematics back home at the University of Nairobi, Ngunjir decided to further his educational goals in America.

Today, he lives in Hollywood and is a budding film director and producer. Having already worked on CBS’s “Amazing Race” and produced a few of his own independent projects under his business, True Blaq Entertainment Group, Ngunjir, like 10,000 other Kenyan natives, has become part of the fabric of Southern California life.

“It’s never easy to leave home,” Ngunjir says. “It’s very hard for us Africans to move to a foreign land and become comfortable. There are so many rules and customs to learn. We really just come here for the opportunities, opportunities that we can’t find in Africa.”

More than 950,000 Kenyans have furthered their education abroad, the majority graduating from schools in India, the United Kingdom, Canada, the U.S., Russia and Uganda.

Ngunjir believes, if given the choice, most Africans would rather be at home helping to build up their country.

“America is not home,” Ngunjir says. “There’s a huge brain drain in Africa, because many of us left our homeland to go elsewhere for better opportunities and a chance to help our families. Africa is suffering.”

Ngunjir says the road for African immigrants is not easy and that they worked very hard to excel in school back home so that they could come to America to further their education.

Fluent in English, Swahili, and his tribal dialect, Kikuyu, Ngunjir says that only the top students in Kenya are accepted at Kenya’s national universities, a system much like California’s UC system.

“There’s so much competition for very few positions.”

Thandie Newton Keeps it Real About Racism in the Entertainment Industry

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 9, 2011) *Very well accomplished British-Zimbabwean actress,
Thandie Newton is taking no prisoners after she revealed how it really is in Hollywood. She told the Belfast Telegraph that the industry is a two-faced, with double standards and is overflowing with racism.

“Don’t get me started on Black people being on the cover on big magazines. It’s so preposterous. I mean, I’ve been on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar four times; I’ve been on the cover of In Style four times, but Vogue, not once,” she railed in the interview.
“And people say to me, I mean literally, people have said to me, ‘What have you got against Vogue that you don’t want to be on their cover?’ And I just laugh.”

Despite the beauty gracing the cover of several magazines, she’s not blind to the truth.

“They [Vogue] don’t feel the need to represent because it doesn’t make any sense to them. It’s just baffling to me, but as usual America will dictate the way things go and a magazine like Vogue will just follow America,” she said. “But it’s like, don’t you want to trail blaze?”

Marginalization and racism has been more than a topic for discussion in her life. It’s been a reality and has possibly stood in the way of an even more successful career.

“I remember this guy came up to me once, an actor whose name I won’t mention, but a Black British actor came up and said, ‘Congratulations Thandie, you’ve done really well, although you know if you had been Kate Winslet your life would have been very different,’ meaning that if I’d been white,” she recalled. “I mean I don’t know what he was trying to say. And I just thought ‘wow.’”

Newton isn’t the first one to point out the apparent racism in the industry all over. Actors, models, and even movie directors like John Singleton often talk about how Hollywood is the land of the white.

Sheen, Estevez On The Road With The Way

www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Nov 03, 2011) Where there’s a will, there’s The Way.

That would seem to be the motto of
Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez and David Alexanian when it comes to discussing their highly personal film about a pilgrimage along the famed Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which opens in Toronto theatres Friday.

An uncooperative fire alarm that went off during the initial 2010 screening of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival only serves to prove their point.

“We knew we had something special that we were passionate about, but it wasn’t until we got to Toronto that we realized other people could feel the same way,” says Sheen, who stars in the film as a man compelled to walk the 800-kilometre route after his son dies trying to complete the journey.

“About three-quarters of the way through the film, the fire alarm went off and kept ringing, right through the end of the movie, but only one guy got up to leave and everyone else stayed and cheered. That’s when we knew we had something here that was bigger than we ever thought we had.”

Estevez wrote and directed the picture and persuaded his famous father (known best for his stint as President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing) to star in it, “even though I deliberately created a guy totally different from my dad. I didn’t want this to be an autobiography. I had to keep reminding him, ‘Dad, your character would never have voted for Bartlet. He belongs to a country club; you used to be a caddy at a country club.”

Made totally outside of the commercial studio system, The Way represents a different approach to the whole movie business.

“Though we live in Hollywood, we don’t subscribe to the Hollywood system,” explains producer Alexanian. “This is an experimental film, not in the sense that it’s edgy or X-rated, but because we’re viewing the whole process differently.

“It’s such a noisy marketplace for films out there today and Hollywood makes decisions like, ‘We won’t begin with the story; we’ll begin with the marketing budget.’”

The trio took their film and toured by bus through 50 cities around North American in an attempt to build an audience and fine-tune their product in the process, cutting it from 2 hours, 40 minutes down to 1 hour, 55 minutes.

“The year we spent between TIFF and now was also valuable because of the way it changed the backdrop of North America’s landscape, economic as well as political,” observes Alexanian.

“People are either looking to reset or come up with a whole new value system. If you live in a gated community and have a Mercedes in the garage, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be more content than if you walked the Camino and broke bread with strangers each night.”

Sheen, clearly in love with his son and the movie, manages to tie it all together.

“To appreciate this film is a lot like walking the Camino. You have to start out with a heavy bag, leave your comfort zone, go to a foreign place and get into the ritual and the rhythm of the experience.

“After a while, you realize you’ve overpacked, so you toss away stuff, you open up and get rid of the baggage you’ve accumulated in your heart, the anger and the resentments. But you can only be invited to do that, you can’t be forced to.”

And as Estevez observes, “the four central characters in the movie aren’t believers; they’re all there for different reasons. I’d like to think our audience is just the same.”

Morgan Freeman Earns Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Honour At Golden Globes

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 9, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Academy Award winner
Morgan Freeman is taking home a new prize — a lifetime-achievement honour at the Golden Globes.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Wednesday that Freeman will receive the group’s Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 69th annual Globes ceremony on Jan. 15.

The 74-year-old Freeman is a five-time Oscar nominee who won the supporting-actor prize for 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. Freeman’s Oscar nominations include best actor for 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy, for which he won a Golden Globe.

Freeman made his big-screen debut as an extra in 1965’s The Pawnbroker, and his film work remained modest over the next two decades.

His big successes early on came in theatre, which brought him a Tony Award nomination for 1978’s The Mighty Gents, and television, where he was a regular for six years on the children’s show The Electric Company.

Freeman’s big-screen career took off with 1987’s crime drama Street Smart, which earned him his first Oscar nomination. Among his credits since then are Glory, Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Bruce Almighty and its sequel, this year’s family hit Dolphin Tale, and the current Batman franchise, including next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises.

DeMille Award winners are chosen by the board of directors for the foreign press group, which includes about 90 reporters who cover Hollywood for overseas outlets.

The DeMille Award went to Robert De Niro a year ago. Other past winners include Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood, who directed Freeman in Million Dollar Baby.

Hollywood’s second-biggest movie awards after the Oscars, the Golden Globes will air live on NBC.

Tower Heist: Logic Heisted, But Roll With It Anyway

www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

Tower Heist
Starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Téa Leoni, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Michael Peña and Gabourey Sidibe. Directed by Brett Ratner. 99 minutes. Opens Nov. 4 at major theatres. PG

(Nov 03, 2011) In
Tower Heist, a red Ferrari of absurd value and astounding weight dangles precariously from a New York skyscraper, along with the three men who are attempting to steal it.

This must be what people mean when they talk about having “a willing suspension of disbelief” at the movies.

The really incredible thing is how easy such willingness comes while watching this disjointed and dopey comedy, which plays like an Ocean’s 11 for idiots but also offers a revitalized Eddie Murphy for our amusement.

The director of Tower Heist is Brett Ratner, which means, if you’ve been following a busy career that includes three Rush Hour exertions and the third X-Men mutation, that he’s not a man who troubles himself with matters of logic.

All he’s interested in is providing entertainment, and if that means defying every known physical law to do so, gravity included, then let’s have at it. The dangling Ferrari scene inspired many people at my advance screening to look through their fingers while watching; the most terrified of them might have been physics professors.

Ratner, and his co-conspiring writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson, can’t even be bothered to have Tower Heist maintain a consistent style, as long as they get the laughs they seek.

For the first 45 minutes, the film is mostly serious drama torn from recent headlines, obviously based on the antics of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

Alan Alda is the generic scammer, Arthur Shaw by name, a smug bajillionaire investor living in the penthouse luxury of The Tower (in reality, the Trump Tower).

His every want and whim is serviced by the conscientious staff of the Tower: building manager Josh (Ben Stiller), desk clerk Charlie (Casey Affleck, who actually was in Ocean’s 11 and its sequels), door man Lester (Stephen Henderson), elevator operator Dev’reaux (Michael Peña), chambermaid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) and many others.

During this long pre-heist section, we also meet Tower boss Mr. Simon (Judd Hirsh) and deadbeat tenant Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick). Outside on the street, there’s local hoodlum Slide (Murphy), who always hassles straight-arrow Josh, just for the hell of it, when he’s not being hassled himself by the cops or angry women.

All of this getting-to-know-you stuff is time well spent. When Shaw’s illegal money pyramid suddenly collapses, taking down the trusting Tower employees’ pension plan along with it, we’ve gained sufficient knowledge to engender empathy.

Charlie’s wife is about to have a baby. Lester has been saving for retirement. Dev’reaux just wanted the elevator, but instead he got the shaft.

Shaw, meanwhile, is still living in luxury in his penthouse suite, under the 24/7 gaze of FBI special agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni) and her men. Shaw is under house arrest while the wheels of justice grind slowly.

The scammer isn’t the least bit sorry for his sins — deadpan devil Alda is great at getting your blood boiling — and his callous behaviour sparks thoughts of payback from Josh and his fellow Tower toilers.

An action plan arises, after a fashion, when Denham lets slip that Shaw has likely squirreled away as much as $20 million in his fabulously appointed suite, which includes as decorations original Warhols and a Ferrari once owned by Steve McQueen.

The actual heist part of Tower Heist commences, but first Josh and his caper crew seek the counsel of a real criminal, the doubting and dubious Slide. As with Jamie Foxx’s murder advisor in the summer hit Horrible Bosses, Slide proves to be somewhat less than meets the eye.

But he’s game and, more importantly, so is Murphy, who delivers one of his funniest live-action roles since his 1980s heyday. Perhaps he was inspired by being in such great comic company.

The last 30 minutes or so of Tower Heist becomes another movie altogether, a farce that heaps the ridiculous upon the unreasonable. It’s here where that Ferrari ends up dangling outside The Tower, for nutty reasons that can’t be revealed here but that serve only to provide thrills, laughs and a madcap sprint to the theatre exit.

Another thing Ratner is good at is not wasting our time when he runs out of ideas. But he leaves us smiling, if not believing our own eyes.

Achtung! Where Does U2 Go From Here?

www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Nov 05, 2011) Rock music's world conqueror can be excused if he's a little down and distracted. Over white wine and linguine carbonara during the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Bono, with the guitarist Edge, was speaking about a film he'd had little to do with creatively - Davis Guggenheim's U2 documentary From the Sky Down - and the reissue of an album (Achtung Baby) he and his band had made two decades ago. "Glum," he says, well, glumly, when asked about U2's mood early in the recording of that record in Berlin. "The whole period was really tough."

And with that, the man always in black got up from his seat, still limping slightly as a result of his surgically repaired back, and walked off in search of something to jazz the conversation - a portable music player for an exclusive listen to some of the previously unheard tracks from the Achtung Baby 20th anniversary package. In the singer's absence, Edge, much brighter-eyed, speaks about sounds - organic sounds, inaccuracies, chemistry and the right combination of technologies for making modern music. "With analog technology, depth is infinite," he says, leaning forward, his knit cap all I can see. "If you retain the organic shapes, your brain will continue perceiving depth that might not even be there. But the minute your mind sees a grid, that's the end of the interpretation."

It's interesting stuff, but I felt like I was in the middle of a Marshall McLuhan egghead fandango instead of rapping with two of the world's biggest - and in Bono's case, best - rock stars. "Perfection is deathly dull," Edge continues, "so unexciting."


Ten minutes later, Bono is slow dancing with himself to Heaven and Hell, from the original Achtung Baby sessions. "It's U2 like you've never heard us," he shouts, turning heads of those among the band's entourage in the private room at the swank Hazelton Hotel's One restaurant in Toronto's Yorkville. "It's a smooch," Bono grins, pleased with himself for arriving at just the right description for the doo-wop ballad. "Who would have thought?

In a hurry, the Dubliner in lilac-shaded glasses clicks onto another track before the first one even finishes. "I can't believe you did that," Edge says, rolling his eyes, dismayed at the song's interruption. "I'm just giving him some flavour," replies the singer, who then proceeds with a taste of the tribute CD of covers of Achtung Baby songs put out by the British music magazine Q. "We couldn't make this a pop song, but they have," he says, about the Killers' giant version of Ultraviolet (Light My Way). "We need him on the radio," Bono says about Brandon Flowers. "His voice!"

Bono is animated, singing harmony with the voices - sometimes his own - coming from the tiny speakers. "This is just better than our version," he surmises, listening to Nine Inch Nails' tense version of Zoo Station. More wine, more tracks and the interview is taking a decided upswing. The change of mood is dizzying - how in the world did we get here?

The film From the Sky Down is part of the Achtung Baby reissue package that includes early versions of the album tracks, rarities, remixes, b-sides and videos, not to mention a replica of Bono's wrap-around sunglasses. A few days before the interview with Edge and the activist-singer, I spoke with film director Guggenheim (It Might Get Loud, An Inconvenient Truth) about how he got a forward-thinking band like U2 to participate in an archival project. "There's now this movement to do these anniversary movies, inspired by the Bruce Springsteen movie The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town and the [Rolling Stones'] Exile on Main Street reissue," he said. "But if the album is good, and the story is good, it's a good reason to make a movie. And for them, it's the most tumultuous curve on their trajectory."

Achtung Baby was recorded in Berlin and Dublin, in 1990 and 1991. On the last date of the 1989 Lovetown tour, Bono had told his audience at the Point Depot in Dublin that the band's first decade was complete. "Now we just have to go away and dream it all up again."

They did that, but not without difficulty. U2, like many rock bands, had always fought against outside influences. When it came time to follow 1987's groundbreaking, Grammy-winning The Joshua Tree and the derided, vainglorious concert documentary and live album Rattle and Hum from 1988, though, the battles were, for the first time, internal.

Seeking inspiration and a new sound, U2 along with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno ventured to Hansa Tonstudios in Berlin, where Eno and David Bowie had recorded Low and Heroes, and Bowie and Iggy Pop had made The Idiot. The ghosts had left the building, though, and the Achtung Baby sessions were "terribly tormented," according to Bono, until the song One finally triggered the mood that inspired the album. "We weren't getting anywhere until One fell into our laps and suddenly we hit a groove," drummer Larry Mullen said at the time, with Bono adding: "Maybe 'great' is what happens when 'very good' gets tired."

The eventual album was grand and a revelation - "the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree," according to Lanois - and served to rebrand the band. The music was trashy, electro-European, sexy, daring and danceable; the lyrical concerns were broken relationships, self-worth and identity. The record sold more than 18 million copies, spawned the outlandish Zoo TV tour and propelled the band to the place it sits today.

Now, after 2009's No Line on the Horizon album and the globe-circling 360° tour, the members of U2 find themselves back where they were 20 years ago: artistically restless.

"We weren't thinking about it at the beginning," explains Bono, when asked about the motivation behind the Achtung Baby reissue. "But I came away from [From the Sky Down's debut screening] last night thinking, 'I think I know what this is all about.' "

What it's about is the question of U2's relevance and once again, reinvention. "I'm working it out in my head right now," says Bono, "but we're at a similar kind of impasse now as we were before Achtung Baby. Why would anyone need a U2 album," asks the 51-year-old, looking his age. "Everyone's got one."

Adds Edge: "There needs to be something really extraordinary and fresh and different to justify somebody buying a new U2 record. We don't think about our work as coming down from the mountaintop with a tablet of stone - 'Here's the next instalment.' "

With their 20-year-old music playing, the two speak about the future. Edge finds the situation "exciting," and Bono finds it freeing. "We're looking at club culture again, and we're also looking at punk rock," the singer says. "We don't know where we're going to go in the end, but we will lift every stone to see if we can find what's underneath."

Will it happen for them today, as it did two decades earlier? "I'd say the odds are against us, if I were a betting man," Bono ventures.

If I were a betting man, I'd say Bono was raising the stakes. As I get up to leave the table, he mentions a sound check at this year's Glastonbury Festival, where he had stepped back and listened to his band mates play Out of Control, from the band's debut album Boy in 1980. "It sounded amazing," he says. "It was radical."

Sounds like U2 might be ready, ready for the push.

Grace Kelly: Still The Reigning Ice Queen

www.globeandmail.com - By James Adams

(Nov 4, 2011) The world's been waiting for the next
Grace Kelly since ... well, since the original boarded the S.S. Constitution in April, 1956, to sail into the arms of her Prince Charming, a.k.a. His Serene Highness Rainier III of Monaco.

At first, the quest for the next screen highness seemed moot - almost everyone expected Kelly to return to Hollywood sooner rather than later, not least the actress herself. Only 26 when she married, she'd starred in a mere 11 films. But with the birth of Princess Caroline, the comeback talk ceased, and the search for a replacement - a radioactively radiant, semi-aristocratic, leggy and vaguely (but not necessarily) blond beauty - began in earnest.

Diane Varsi, Kim Novak and Tippi Hedren were among the first (failed) wave of pretenders. More recently, Gwyneth Paltrow, Blake Lively and Jessica Chastain have been among those tasked with wearing that mantle.

But there's never been sufficient consensus to declare us in a new state of Grace, and amazingly, for someone who's been dead almost 30 years, there hasn't been a biopic to force the issue - although a small film set during her time in Monaco is reportedly in the works.

As fans speculate as to who might play her highness, they can get a glimpse at the life of the real person at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess gathers fashion and artifacts from two previous shows: The Grace Kelly Years at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, in 2007, and Grace Kelly: Style Icon, at London's Victoria & Albert in 2010.

The show presents Kelly as an enduring cultural influence, both in her film oeuvre and in her personal style (Nicole Richie, Ivanka Trump and the recently minted Duchess of Cambridge have all tipped their trains to her example), and as bona fide royalty.

When Kelly, the third of four siblings in a wealthy Philadelphia family, entered showbiz in the late 1940s, acting was regarded, in her father's words, as "a slim cut above streetwalker." With her cool reserve, posh manners and trademark white gloves, she brought "a lot of class to the table," says Lightbox artistic director Noah Cowan.

"The patrician quality ... to her screen life sort of transcended Hollywood," he says. "She was 'one of us' for the New York/Philadelphia/Boston set."

Complementing the exhibition are two film series - Icy Blonde, a Hitchcock retrospective that includes the famous features Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, and On Screen, a celluloid six-pack of Kelly's other films, among them 1954's The Country Girl, where Kelly went wan and brunette to beat the heavily favoured Judy Garland for the best-actress Oscar. Kelly's appeal cut both ways: As one writer commented in her heyday, "She made husbands sigh and wives think enviously that they might look as good as Kelly if only they could afford a really good hairdo."

Cowan calls Kelly "the iconic blonde of the 1950s" - and a natural one at that. But there is, of course, another claimant to that title, whose busiest years as movie star (1953-57) paralleled Kelly's.

Back then, Marilyn Monroe - voluptuous, bold, earthy - was presented "as the antithesis of everything Grace stood for," writes Donald Spoto in High Society, his 2009 biography of Kelly. Indeed, a 1955 Time magazine cover story on Kelly carried the tag "Gentlemen Prefer Ladies," a clear poke at Monroe (and the "dumb blonde" she'd played in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes).

Today we know that Kelly off-screen had as active a sex life as Monroe, engaging in numerous affairs, according to Spoto and other biographers. Today, too, "Marilyn's sexuality on camera has come to be seen as sort of sweet and pretty benign," Cowan says, "whereas Grace's, certainly in films like Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, is seen as rather predatory, even a little threatening."

For Cowan, Kelly's "inheritors on the screen" aren't the likes of Paltrow, Lively and Chastain, but rather "pretty complicated characters" like Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the Alien series and Sharon Stone's Catherine in Basic Instinct. Seductive, tough, resourceful, iron-willed and not a little icy.

Still, Laura Jacobs thinks we should forgo talk of "the next Grace Kelly" because "there never will be a next," just as there's no "next Audrey Hepburn." A long-time contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Jacobs wrote an epic cover story on Kelly to coincide with the Victoria & Albert exhibition.

Both Kelly and Hepburn, she said in a recent interview, "were one-offs. Both had the grace and carriage of the classical dancer because both studied ballet seriously. And both brought a feeling of culture to the screen, a world of art and history that framed their beauty."

As for the pretenders to the throne? "None of these other names you mention [Paltrow, Lively et al.] has anything like that," Jacobs snorted. "None of them even knows how to walk."

Crazy For Felicity Jones

www.thestar.com - By Tony Wong

(Nov 04, 2011) It took one shower scene to change Felicity Jones’ life.

The British actress got the part of college student Anna in
Like Crazy after sending an audition tape acting out an intimate but pivotal scene that comes at the end of the movie.

“I wanted to do things a little differently. There were no close-ups, but I felt that it was an important part of the film,” said Jones at the Royal York Hotel during September’s
TIFF to promote the feature about two young college students — one British, the other American — who struggle over a long-distance relationship. It opens Friday.

The DVD got the attention of director Drake Doremus, who had already auditioned several young actresses before casting Jones.

“It was a leap of faith. But I really felt I had Anna after seeing Felicity,” said Doremus.

The gamble paid off with Jones winning the 2011 Sundance Film Festival best actress prize. Jones was also very much an “It” girl at TIFF, where she appeared in three movies, including Hysteria with Maggie Gyllenhaal and director David Hare’s Page Eight.

But since much of the script for Like Crazy was improvised, it was a risk at the time, since the chemistry between co-star Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the recent Star Trek movie) and Jones had yet to be explored.

“It was petrifying, but luckily Anton and I really hit it off immediately,” said Jones, in her plummy, Oxford-educated accent. “I was so nervous because if we hadn’t hit it off it would be a very different experience.”

Jones, 27, may well be the next Carey Mulligan, who had a breakout role in 2009’s An Education. The photogenic actress has also been prime red-carpet material, with her outfits creating as much of a stir as her movies. On this day she wears a breezy black polka-dot dress and high heels.

“Felicity was incredible and we were lucky to have found her,” said 28-year-old director Doremus, who shot the feature documentary-style.

Doremus made hundreds of hours of footage while ultimately using only about 2 per cent of the material.

“Editing it all out was like killing your babies. We shot everywhere and everything we could; it was extremely invasive on the actors. But it was the most magical month in my life.”

The director said he decided to do an improvised script — the actors had an outline but were left to fill in much of the dialogue — because he was tired of the constraints imposed by traditional filmmaking.

“I wanted something much more natural, where the actor has to check themselves at the door. You have to get to the point where the actor has to not think, and not try so hard, but just do things instinctively to capture the reality of the moment.”

The movie was shot on a small Canon HD still camera, which allowed the director to be more intimate with his subjects.

“I think the technology is tremendously exciting for independent film, where you can go around and create a great feature without the involvement of a studio,” said co-star Yelchin, of the guerrilla-style shoot.

“We would go on the street and walk around and pretend to be shopping, or go on the beach. I would be going up to people I didn’t know in LAX (Los Angeles Airport). It was really liberating.”

Yelchin said the role of furniture designer Jacob was meaty and challenging, unlike some of the “high school” roles he’s been typecast with in the past.

“I had a meeting recently with one part that I was being offered with this guy who’s never been laid and is trying to find himself, and I’m thinking I’m 20 years old and I’ve got laid plenty,” said Yelchin with a laugh. “Not like I’m a pimp or anything, but at some point the role doesn’t match your experience. (Star Trek’s) Chekov, on the other hand, he will always be a virgin. That guy is asexual. But Jacob is different, he’s complex.”

Yelchin says much of the discussion hinged around whether viewers would buy into the thin conceit of the film, which hinges on the fact that the two young lovers are torn apart after Jones overstays her visa.

“If it were me in real life I would say go the f--k to London, you’re going to get deported,” says Yelchin. “There’s nothing subtle about immigration issues. The question is would the audience buy this, and I think Felicity gives such a strong performance, it works.”

Doremus was so enamoured with the young actress that he wrote a script for her for his next project, which explores love and marriage.

“Felicity embodies this style of filmmaking and it’s a treat to be able to work with her again, and it gives me an opportunity to tell the stories I’m good at,” said Doremus.


Ricky Gervais Making Golden Globes Comeback

www.thestar.com - by: Linda Barnard

(Nov 03, 2011) Looks like Hollywood doesn't mind taking it on the chin,
as long as there's ratings involved. The New York Post is reporting Ricky Gervais, the fearlessly funny host of last year's Golden Globes, who took stars from Robert Downey Jr. to John Travolta and Tom Cruise out to the celeb woodshed, is coming back to host next year's telecast. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which ran around like scalded cats after last year's show, making threats about how he'd never work in this town again, has asked him back as emcee for a third year. So has host broadcaster NBC. Gervais tweeted a non-committal: "Ooooooh! The plot thickens... Thoughts?" But the Post says he's down for the job and will take his place before the glitterae, ready to start firing off the zingers that kept viewers in stitches and helped the show shoot up in the ratings on Jan. 15, 2012.


Ruben Studdard and Golden Brooks Star in New Straight to DVD Stage Play

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 6, 2011) *
Ruben Studdard is back to showbiz and will be sharing the small screen via DVD with actress Golden Brooks of “Girlfriends” in a Alvin Moore Jr.’s new stage play “The Perfect Gift.” Golden plays the role of Sandra, whose parents stop in for an unexpected visit during the holidays. Just when everything was sort of peaceful, things start to get out of hand. Ruben plays the role of Michael who must learn that the greatest gift of all is love and understanding. This isn’t “American Idol” winner’s first try at acting. He’s been a part of shows like “8 Simple Rules,” “Life on a Stick,” and “One on One. Earlier this year, Studdard signed a recording contract with Shanachie Records, an independent label, and is now working on his fifth studio album. No release date has been announced. “The Perfect Gift” will be available on DVD tomorrow, November 1.

J.Lo to Play ‘Carmen Sandiego’ in Film Adaptation

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 4, 2011) *
Jennifer Lopez is set to star in the film adaptation of “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” The “American Idol” judge will produce and reportedly take on the lead role of ACME detective agency worker Carmen Sandiego, who becomes the world’s greatest thief and is tracked down by her former partner who must try to discover if she is really a hero or a villain. Lopez’s Nuyorican Production partners’ Benny Medina and Simon Fields are producers, along with  Underground Films’ Nick Osbourne, Trevor Engelson and Devin Andre. Lopez, who took a three year break from films before making “The Back-Up Plan” last year, has recently been shooting “Parker” with Jason Statham, in which she also plays a criminal. Describing Jennifer’s role, director Taylor Hackford said: “She plays a real estate agent who finds that a little larceny may in fact be in the cards for her.” The film sees Jason play a thief who lives by his own code of honor – including never taking money from those who need it – but will kill when necessary. Patti LuPone, Emma Booth, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce and Clifton Collins Jr will also star in the movie.

Brandy, Ella Joyce Join Tyler Perry’s ‘Marriage Counselor’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 2, 2011) *
Brandy Norwood, Ella Joyce and Jerry Stiller have been added to the cast of Tyler Perry’s “The Marriage Counselor,” reports Variety. The trio joins Jurnee Smollett, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams and Robbie Jones in the production. As previously reported, Smollett plays marriage counselor Judith, an Ivy League-educated relationship expert who makes her living dispensing marital advice, but is so bored with her own marriage that she breaks her professional code and cheats with a smooth talking client only to realize she has made a huge mistake. Gross will play Judith’s husband, Jones will play the “smooth talking client” who has an affair with Judith, Williams will play the owner of the firm where Smollett practices and Kardashian will play Smollett’s friend. Brandy will play Gross’ co-worker. Shooting is underway in Atlanta.

Jessica Chastain To Play Princess Diana

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

(Nov 07, 2011) The latest news from the American Film Market in Los Angeles is
sure to set the British press working itself into a collective feverish lather: A Yank is going to play the late, beloved Princess Diana. The cheek! Indiewire's Anne Thompson got the scoop and broke the news on her Hollywood blog. Thompson says the California actress who seems to be starring in everything these days (Take Shelter, The Help, The Tree of Life, to name a few) is going to play Diana, Princess of Wales in Caught in Flight. Germany’s Oliver Hirschbiegel is to direct the movie, which will be based on "a secret affair between the late princess and a heart surgeon, Dr. Hasnat Kahn, who was said to be the love of her life," Thompson writes. Filming is to start next year.

::TV NEWS::     

Ebert Needs Financial Backing To Keep Show On Air

Source: www.thestar.com - By Don Babwin

(Nov 07, 2011) CHICAGO — Famed film critic
Roger Ebert is telling his readers that he may have to cancel his television show Ebert Presents: At the Movies unless someone steps up and helps him and his wife pay for it.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic wrote on his blog Sunday night that after an initial contribution of $25,000 from Kanbar Charitable Trust, he and Chaz Ebert have been paying virtually all the bills for the show, which began airing on public television in January.

Ebert said he has been pleased with the program, which is hosted by Associated Press movie reviewer Christy Lemire and Mubi.com film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.

But after months of paying for everything from screen tests to interns to lunch on taping days, “We can’t afford to support the show any longer,” wrote Ebert, who can no longer speak after cancer surgery. “That’s what it comes down to.”

Ebert wrote that he had hoped foundations and others would step forward to underwrite the show, but that nobody has. And now, he wrote, American Public Television is asking him whether the show will be back next season, and he has to have an answer by the end of this month. He wrote that Chaz Ebert, the executive producer, will continue to seek funding for the show.

“Unless we find underwriting, I’m afraid our answer will have to be ‘no,’” he wrote.

Lou Ferrara, the AP managing editor who oversees entertainment coverage, said Lemire has reviewed movies for the AP throughout her tenure with the Ebert show.

“Even if the show ends, Christy will continue providing film reviews and other movie coverage for the Associated Press,” Ferrara said.

Former 60 Minutes Commentator Andy Rooney Dies At 92

www.globeandmail.com - By David Bauder

(Nov 05, 2011) Andy Rooney so dreaded the day he had to end his signature "60 Minutes" commentaries about life's large and small absurdities that he kept going until he was 92 years old.

Even then, he said he wasn't retiring. Writers never retire. But his life after the end of "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" was short: He died Friday night, according to CBS, only a month after delivering his 1,097th and final televised commentary.

Mr. Rooney had gone to the hospital for an undisclosed surgery, but major complications developed and he never recovered.

Mr. Rooney talked on "60 Minutes" about what was in the news, and his opinions occasionally got him in trouble. But he was just as likely to discuss the old clothes in his closet, why air travel had become unpleasant and why banks needed to have important sounding names.

He won one of his three Emmy Awards for a piece on whether there was a real Mrs. Smith who made Mrs. Smith's Pies. As it turned out, there was no Mrs. Smith.

"I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn't realize they thought," Mr. Rooney once said. "And they say, `Hey, yeah!' And they like that."

Looking for something new to punctuate its weekly broadcast, "60 Minutes" aired its first Rooney commentary on July 2, 1987. He complained about people who keep track of how many people die in car accidents on holiday weekends. In fact, he said, the Fourth of July is "one of the safest weekends of the year to be going someplace."

More than three decades later, he was railing about how unpleasant air travel had become. "Let's make a statement to the airlines just to get their attention," he said. "We'll pick a week next year and we'll all agree not to go anywhere for seven days."

In early 2009, as he was about to turn 90, Mr. Rooney looked ahead to President Barack Obama's upcoming inauguration with a look at past inaugurations. He told viewers that Calvin Coolidge's 1925 swearing-in was the first to be broadcast on radio, adding, "That may have been the most interesting thing Coolidge ever did."

For his final essay, Mr. Rooney said that he'd live a life luckier than most.

"I wish I could do this forever. I can't, though," he said.

He said he probably hadn't said anything on "60 Minutes" that most of his viewers didn't already know or hadn't thought. "That's what a writer does," he said. "A writer's job is to tell the truth."

True to his occasional crotchety nature, though, he complained about being famous or bothered by fans. His last wish from fans: If you see him in a restaurant, just let him eat his dinner.

Mr. Rooney wrote for CBS stars such as Arthur Godfrey and Garry Moore during the 1950s and early 1960s, before settling into a partnership with newsman Harry Reasoner. With Mr. Rooney as the writer, they collaborated on several news specials, including an Emmy-winning report on misrepresentations of black people in movies and history books. He wrote "An Essay on Doors" in 1964, and continued with contemplations on bridges, chairs and women.

"The best work I ever did," Mr. Rooney said. "But nobody knows I can do it or ever did it. Nobody knows that I'm a writer and producer. They think I'm this guy on television."

He became such a part of the culture that comic Joe Piscopo satirized Mr. Rooney's squeaky voice with the refrain, "Did you ever wonder ..." For many years, "60 Minutes" improbably was the most popular program on television and a dose of Mr. Rooney was what people came to expect for a knowing smile on the night before they had to go back to work.

Mr. Rooney left CBS in 1970 when it refused to air his angry essay about the Vietnam War. He went on TV for the first time, reading the essay on PBS and winning a Writers Guild of America award for it.

He returned to CBS three years later as a writer and producer of specials. Notable among them was the 1975 "Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington," whose lighthearted but serious look at government won him a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.

His words sometimes landed Mr. Rooney in hot water. CBS suspended him for three months in 1990 for making racist remarks in an interview, which he denied. Gay rights groups were mad, during the AIDS epidemic, when Mr. Rooney mentioned homosexual unions in saying "many of the ills which kill us are self-induced." Natives protested when Mr. Rooney suggested Native Americans who made money from casinos weren't doing enough to help their own people.

The Associated Press learned the danger of getting on Mr. Rooney's cranky side. In 1996, AP Television Writer Frazier Moore wrote a column suggesting it was time for Mr. Rooney to retire. On Mr. Rooney's next "60 Minutes" appearance, he invited those who disagreed to make their opinions known. The AP switchboard was flooded by some 7,000 phone calls and countless postcards were sent to the AP mail room.

"Your piece made me mad," Mr. Rooney told Mr. Moore two years later. "One of my major shortcomings - I'm vindictive. I don't know why that is. Even in petty things in my life I tend to strike back. It's a lot more pleasurable a sensation than feeling threatened. “He was one of television's few voices to strongly oppose the war in Iraq after the George W. Bush administration launched it in 2002. After the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, he said he was chastened by its quick fall but didn't regret his "60 Minutes" commentaries.

"I'm in a position of feeling secure enough so that I can say what I think is right and if so many people think it's wrong that I get fired, well, I've got enough to eat," Mr. Rooney said at the time.

Andrew Aitken Rooney was born on Jan. 14, 1919, in Albany, N.Y., and worked as a copy boy on the Albany Knickerbocker News while in high school. College at Colgate University was cut short by World War II, when Mr. Rooney worked for Stars and Stripes.

With another former Stars and Stripes staffer, Oram C. Hutton, Mr. Rooney wrote four books about the war. They included the 1947 book, "Their Conqueror's Peace: A Report to the American Stockholders," documenting offenses against the Germans by occupying forces.

Mr. Rooney and his wife, Marguerite, were married for 62 years before she died of heart failure in 2004. They had four children and lived in Rowayton, Conn. Daughter Emily Rooney is a former executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight."

Audio and Video: Common Will See You in Hell

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 3, 2011) *This Sunday at 10 p.m., AMC will try to match the popularity
and critical acclaim given their original dramas “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” with its newest offering, set in America’s post-slavery Reconstruction era.

“Hell on Wheels” uses the building of the transcontinental railroad to reflect the era from several points of view – among them, Thomas “Doc” Durant (Colm Meaney), a greedy entrepreneur taking full advantage of the changing times; Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a Civil War veteran hell bent on avenging his wife’s death and Lily Bell (Dominique McElligott), a newly-widowed frontier woman having to survive in a man’s world.

And then there’s Elam Ferguson, a former slave out to make something of himself by working alongside other freed slaves on the ambitious railroad project.  As previously reported, rapper-actor
Common takes on the role of Elam, a mixed-race, defiant man who soon realizes that true freedom for the African American does not come automatically along with Emancipation – particularly since his railroad boss, Cullen, is a former confederate soldier…and one-time plantation overseer.

“My character is like, ‘Man, I’m taking this opportunity to go out here and try to change my life, and then here it goes again,” Common said during a press conference for the show. “Cullen represents that ‘here it goes again,’ like this guy is the walking boss who is not too much different than a slave master, in my eyes, you know, in certain ways.

By the end of Sunday’s pilot, Cullen and Elam find they have something in, well…common.  “There’s something there that I respect about him at a certain point,” Common explains. “I see our relationship evolving in each episode as things happen, but it still is not, like, oh, we’re buddy-buddies. There’s still that tension that exists. It’s like, you know, you like someone, you have a certain affinity to them, but at the same token there’s still some walls up.”

In the audio below, Common explains why he feels the role of Elam comes with “a responsibility to be as truthful as I can to what black Americans were at that time.” [Scroll down to watch a video about Common's character, Elam.]

The Best TV Comedy You’re Not Watching

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Nov 07, 2011) I’m back from vacation and have just about cleared up
several page-views of DVR backlog . . . just a couple more Mike & Mollys, one Blue Bloods and the last half of this week’s Dexter (and yes, I know, it’s already been spoiled for me, thank you very much).

There were some wonderful prime-time moments I missed over the last few weeks — for example, New Girl Zooey Deschanel’s utter inability to say the word “penis”; Chris D’Elia’s drunken blather on Whitney; Alan Cumming and Archie Punjabi playing snark tennis on Good Wife; just about everything Maria Bello did on Prime Suspect (having now watched almost every episode of the Helen Mirren original on DVD while I was away) . . .

But there has been one major disappointment, and it has to do with you, my faithful readers. I left you last month with but one small request — watch Michael Tuesdays and Thursdays Tuesday nights (yes, I know it’s confusing) at 9 on CBC.

And some of you have. But not enough.

The superior “sitcom” — I use the word in its true sense, there is a situation and it is a comedy — started out slow a few months ago, and initially even dropped when CBC moved it to Tuesday nights, out of the path of X Factor and Modern Family, with only just over 150,000 Canadians tuning in.

The move to Tuesdays has ultimately helped, topping out at 270,000 . . . that is, until the return of New Girl (indeed, the aforementioned “penis” episode), which last week did 687,000 to Michael’s 209,000.

Let’s add some context here: In the first place, most CBC shows across the board, including Battle of the Blades, Being Erica, the mighty Mercer and the unassailable Dragon’s Den, are down in the neighbourhood of 20 percent this season. There’s an awful lot of competition, most of it, typically, from south of the border.

And Michael is admittedly something of a hard sell. It isn’t the sort of thing we’re used to seeing on the CBC, with the possible exception of the significantly spoofier Made in Canada. But it doesn’t take long to get to know and love the characters, and get invested in the largely serialized storyline of the phobic-but-fighting-it cubicle drone Michael (series inspiration and co-star Matt Watts) and his increasingly beleaguered long-time therapist (Bob Martin), author of a book that reveals more about both than either one can handle.

And if you’re lost, the first nine episodes — and extras — are all immediately accessible at cbc.ca.

You won’t regret it. It’s a brilliant show, subtly funny and exquisitely shot, with irresistibly flawed and fallible characters, written, played and directed by a Who’s Who, eh?, of top Canadian talent, starting at the top with its creator/producer/star, Martin, and co-producer and sometime director Don McKellar.

Talent attracts talent, and this 12-episode initial season has brought home some exceptional ex-pat actors: tonight, Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh as an atypically assertive holistic therapist, and next week The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee as a morning television host.

Accomplished Americans, too, have eagerly jumped on board, with Michael Murphy memorably guesting last week, and a hilarious Ed Asner clearly having the time of his life (he told me so) in the wonky recurring role of the therapist’s therapist.

If any show deserved to be supported and watched, it’s Michael. And with only three more episodes left to go, if any show needed it now, that’s Michael too.

Seamus O’Regan Can Finally Sleep In

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Nov. 08, 2011) The popular Canada AM co-host is moving to CTV
National News.

A couple of weeks from now, for the first time in a long time,
Seamus O’Regan will be waking up to sunshine.

“I’m literally going from early mornings to late nights,” says O’Regan, who on Nov. 24 will leave his co-host chair at Canada AM for a less sedentary, mostly standing position as a full-time correspondent for CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme.

“Canada will be seeing a lot less of my legs,” laughs the 40-year-old Newfoundlander.

O’Regan, for the last nine years the affable, voraciously curious co-host of the CTV morning show, will have a few days to decompress before assuming his new night-time duties on Monday, Nov. 28.

“I’ll probably take a break at some point,” he says, “but I really wanted to hit the ground running.”

O’Regan, 40, is no stranger to nightly news, having already contributed to CTV’s W5 and the nightly National News, including a series profiling ordinary Canadians doing extraordinary things — recalling his journalistic origins as a 10-year-old regional reporter for CBC Radio’s Anybody Home?

In between, O’Regan has travelled the world, covering everything from the Royal Wedding and the famine in Somalia, to the Winter Olympics and Hurricane Igor.

His academic background was similarly eclectic, and international, having studied politics in Nova Scotia and Dublin, marketing strategy in Paris, and earning a Masters of Philosophy in Politics from no less illustrious a school as Cambridge.

Indeed, he seemed destined to make his mark in the political arena, working as an assistant to Environment Minister Jean Charest in Ottawa and to Justice Minister Edward Roberts in St. John’s, and then as policy advisor and speechwriter to the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Brian Tobin.

When he was first approached by CTV, a career in television was the furthest thing from his mind.

“I was looking for kind of a more corporate job,” he says, “and I wanted to stay in Newfoundland. It was my mother who told me to get my ass to Toronto. ‘This is perfect for you,’ she insisted. ‘And we’ve got people coming over tonight to congratulate you on the new job, so you have to go.’ I’m not kidding.”

In 2002, O’Regan joined Canada AM, first as fill-in host, and shortly thereafter as co-host.

Much as he will miss his AM family, he is eager to embrace this new challenge.

“I still have a unique skill set to learn,” he allows. “I think I bring something from everything I’ve learned in the nine years on Canada AM. But this is a different beast altogether, and I’m really looking forward to that.”

That, and waking up without an alarm clock.

The new Canada AM co-host will be announced on O’Regan’s last day.

What I'm Watching: Marilyn Denis

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(Nov 8, 2011) Finding idle TV time is a rare occasion for
Marilyn Denis. Besides her daily host role on The Marilyn Denis Show - currently Canada's highest-rated talk show - the Edmonton-born personality still holds down morning duties on Toronto radio station CHUM-FM.

In her brief flashes of down time, Denis usually has her TV set to the Turner Classic Movie channel, but there's always room for these three favourite programs.

The Big Bang Theory
I don't have to think when I watch this show - it's just a really funny half hour. It's so nice to see nerds on TV, because I am one. Jim Parsons is amazing and so is the entire cast. They don't overact, they're just great personalities. They are who they are.

I've loved her since she was on Chelsea Lately. She's just a strong, funny woman. You can see her having fun doing the show. And as each episode goes by, the show gets looser and looser, and funnier.

Modern Family
It consistently entertains. I love this show because every time I watch it I see a little bit of all of us in each of those characters and the scenarios. That is brilliant writing. If I had to pick a favourite character, it would be Cameron. He's so funny and he gets so emotional.

The Marilyn Denis Show airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on CTV and 11 a.m. on CTV Two, or on-demand at www.Marilyn.ca.

Spoiler Alert: What’s Coming On Next Week’s Glee

Source: www.thestar.com - By Wendy Gillis

(Nov 04, 2011) It has tackled various difficult subjects since the pilot first aired in 2009 — including homophobia, teen pregnancy and bullying — but the upcoming episode of Glee will mark a historic turn for TV broadcasting.

The Nov. 8 show will feature gay character Kurt (played by Chris Colfer) losing his virginity with boyfriend Blaine (Darren Criss).

While U.S. network television shows are increasingly depicting gay relationships — including 90210, Skins and Pretty Little Liars — the Glee episode is kicking it up a notch by allowing Gleeks to witness gay teen characters having sex.

According to various TV review sites, the sex scene is romantic and dealt with “delicately,” with Entertainment Weekly describing the plot as “incredibly moving.”

Colfer and Criss were recently featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and their TV relationship is considered by many to have encouraged other gay TV characters.

Aptly titled “The First Time,” the episode includes another main couple consummating their relationship: Main characters Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) are also slated to lose their virginity to each other.

The Wendy Williams Show Interview with Kam Williams

Source: Kam Williams, photos by Karl Giant

(Nov 7, 2011) Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey on July 18, 1964,
Wendy Joan Williams burst onto the TV landscape in July 2009 with the launch of her own nationally-syndicated talk show. Dubbed a “breakthrough in daytime” by The New York Times, “The Wendy Williams Show” is now in its third season and airs in 52 countries around the world.

 “The Wendy Williams Show” is a reflection of its host; with its vibrant colors and upbeat soundtrack matching Williams’ own personality and energetic sense of humour. And the show’s focus on entertainment reflects her passion for pop culture.

By design, whenever she interviews celebrity guests, it’s from the perspective of a fan, as she asks the questions that her audience wants to hear. A lover of classic television, Williams’ style is inspired by her childhood idols like Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin.

Prior to making the transition to daytime television, Wendy built a devoted audience over the course of an enormously-successful 23-year run in radio. “The Wendy Williams Experience” was a top-rated, nationally-syndicated show which reached over 12 million people daily. In November of 2009, she was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame—one of only a handful of women to enjoy the honour.

Wendy recently competed on Season 12 of ABC’s smash hit “Dancing
with The Stars.” Her other television credits include serving as host of Game Show Network’s original series “Love Triangle” and as a featured guest on ABC’s “One Life to Live” and Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva.”

She is also the author of the New York Times best seller The Wendy Williams Experience, as well as several novels including Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood. Plus, she presently contributes a weekly celebrity hot topics column to the weekly entertainment magazine “Life & Style.” 

A child of a teacher and a college professor, Williams earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Journalism at Northeastern University, and she remains a very vocal education advocate. She credits the start of her career with the decision to take an internship at a radio station on St. Croix, Virgin Islands immediately following her graduation from college. Wendy resides in Northern New Jersey with her husband, Kevin, and their 11 year-old son, Kevin, Jr. Here, she talks about her life and career.  
Kam Williams: Hi Wendy, How you doin’?
Wendy Williams: [Laughs] How you doin’, Kam? You doing good?
KW: I’m awwwlllright! Ann-Marie Nacchio, a loyal fan of yours from Philly, told me to start the interview with “How you doin’?” because that would probably help relax you.  
WW: And it did! That’s the official greeting of the show.
KW: How did being raised by two educators shape you?
WW: I know firsthand that educators are the most overworked and underpaid people around. It influenced me in that it was always about family first, and education was right next to that. There was never any question about whether I was going to college. And it was important to my parents that I get my degree in 4 years, because “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” [LOL] I will support my son in whatever he wants to do professionally, but he will go to college, too. My husband and I are in concert on that.
KW: How hard is it juggling your career and being a mom?
WW: It’s not easy. He’s in the 6th grade.  
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says: First of all, how YOU doin’? I have been a fan since the days of radio and I love your Jersey Girl approach to life! You have been on radio, TV, film and authored books. Which gives you the biggest thrill?
WW: TV. It’s the best, although radio was my first love.
KW: You were certainly no stranger to controversy when you had the radio show. Do you think that might have been because you were the first African-American host to push the envelope in terms of gossip?
WW: Well, there were definitely elements of my rise in radio that had to do with my being black. But going back as far as Walter Winchell, Army Archerd and Hedda Hopper, legendary wags would grab a radio microphone and talk about what Errol Flynn and other stars were up to.
KW: Bernadette would also like to know, what is your favourite charity?
WW: Big Brothers/Big Sisters because I love helping out kids. Anything with kids.
KW: Alan Gray asks: Have you had any guests who just weren't very talkative? What do you do to try to get them to talk, and have there been any occasions where you couldn’t?
WW: No. Believe it or not, there are interesting elements in everyone. So, if I can’t talk to everybody for at least 7 to 10 minutes, then I’m in the wrong profession.
KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: Do you enjoy being a shock jockette and who are some of the celebrities you most enjoyed interviewing?
WW: That’s so funny! I enjoyed being what I was in radio, which some thought of as a shock jock although, to this day, I still can’t figure out what I’ve done that’s so shocking. [LOL] As to my favourite interviews, I loved having my mother and father on. I also enjoyed talking to Elmo, who’s a puppet. I found T.I.’s trying to be extra-cool very endearing. Tyra Banks was not the diva I expected her to be. I loooooved talking to her. And Simon Cowell is a really nice guy. Yeah! He’s my fave, and he’s handsome.  
KW: Irene also asks: What achievement are you most proud of, and what mountain do you still want to conquer?
WW: I’m most proud of our son, having suffered several miscarriages before having him. As for the next mountain, it takes so much to maintain what’s already going on that I don’t have time to think about it. But I want some more seasons of the TV show, I’d like to write another book, and eventually, I’d like to retire and take vacations with my husband like my mom and dad do.
KW: Professor/author/documentary filmmaker Hisani Dubose says: I would like to know, what was involved in making the transition from radio, where you aren't seen, to TV, where visibility is so important?
WW: Lipstick, foundation, a strip of lashes, and developing the ability to edit what I would normally say. I was always able to finish a thought on radio, because I had 4 hours. A one-hour TV show is only 44 minutes of programming. 
KW: Film director Kevin Williams asks: What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the move from radio to TV?
WW: Finding the fine line between satisfying a daytime TV audience and an afternoon radio audience. That involved editing down my delivery to under an hour. I’ve been blessed to have great producers and a great staff to achieve that. I have a small team but they’re very efficient.
KW: Jessica Kelly says: I love your wigs Wendy, but I want to hear more about your eye make-up. It’s sooooooo hot!

WW: [Laughs] Merrell Hollis has been doing my makeup since the beginning of the show. I just close my eyes and let him do his thing. He’s a genius!
KW: Aleesha Houston asks: What's the last gift you purchased for yourself?
WW: A wig! [Giggles] I’m picking it up on Monday. 
KW: Judyth Piazza asks: If you could change one thing about the entertainment industry, what would it be?
WW: More Wendy! [Roars]
KW: Teresa Emerson says: "How you doin' Wendy!" Who would you love to interview that you think may be afraid to come on your show; given your reputation for hard questions?
WW: I will take that as a rhetorical question.
KW: Lowery Gibson asks: What’s the real Wendy like, minus the wigs, makeup and "How you doin’?" Given that you had a breast endowment, do you recommend this cosmetic surgery?
WW: The real Wendy is a plain, regular girl with good skin. I do have hair, if he’s wondering about that. I have lots of witnesses to that. [Chuckles] And I’m a homebody. When I get off the phone with you, Kam, I’m going to the grocery store, because our power was out for 4 days. As for breast augmentation, I do recommend it for women over 30 who have a couple of extra dollars. But it’s not for a nutty schoolgirl who might just be doing it for a guy.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
WW: I have no answer. That’s a question I would really have to think about.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
WW: Yes.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
WW: Yeaaaaahhhh!
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
WW: A minute ago. I laugh all the time, loudly, with my mouth wide open, and all the way up to the tip of my wig. And I love just as hard. I only hope that people feel the passion when they watch my talk show. It comes from my soul. Kam, I can’t even describe to you what it feels like when I come through those double doors at 10 AM each morning. Sometimes, the emotions overwhelm me, and I start to cry.
KW: I heard that you’ve cried several times on the show.
WW: Please, are you making fun of me? [Laughs] I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve cried. Wendy Watchers know when it happens. And it could happen over anything. I could have something sad going on in my life… I could have my period… Women are emotional. At least I know I am.  
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
WW: Oh brother, here you go. If you must know, my son was reading to me from a children’s book called “Mousetrap.” The last one I read myself was “Satan’s Sisters,” Star Jones’ novel about a fictitious talk show. HERE
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 
WW: “Headlines” by Drake. HERE

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?
WW: Mexican food is my absolute, #1 favourite food. But all the cutting and dicing is very time-consuming. I do like to cook a few times a week, but it’s not always that intricate with the shells and the cheese, etcetera.
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
WW: Doing the show. That 10 AM feeling when the doors open up. Forget about it! Also, my son coming home with a respectable grade on something that I know he’s worked hard on. And good health excites me, too.
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favourite clothes designer?
WW: I love Norma Kamali. I’m wearing Norma Kamali right now as I write my grocery list while I’m speaking to you. I’m multi-tasking.
KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets, asks: “What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?"
WW: I can’t narrow either one down to just one thing. I’ve rolled the dice and had both success and failure. I can tell you that right now we’re on a roll with the talk show. Everything is good with the TV show.
KW: Were you disappointed about your quick departure from Dancing with the Stars this season?
WW: I was relieved! I’m not a dancer, and it was very time-consuming. But I met great people, and it was flattering to be asked to be on. You don’t understand how demanding that show is until you’re on the inside. That is real work. Real work!
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
WW: Beauty! I’m sitting here looking in the mirror right now pushing my wig up. Wow! I look really good to be going to the grocery store. I see beauty today. Tomorrow, it might be something different. [LOL]
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
WW: For my groceries to just appear in the kitchen, so I can do what I love to do, which is turn on the TV and have myself a snack while watching the 5 O’clock News. 
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
WW: Believe it or not, it had to be about 1969. We were living in Asbury Park and I remember turning the TV channel back to Sesame Street from Divorce Court when I heard my mother’s heels clicking on the steps as she came down the stairs. I liked both shows. 
KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
WW: It made me stronger, although I never experienced any devastating teenage angst. I wasn’t that type of girl. I was more nomadic in my younger years.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Wendy, and best of luck with the show.
WW: Thank you, Kam.

 The Next James Bond Film Will Be Called. . .

www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Nov 03, 2011)
Skyfall is the title of the next James Bond movie, the 23rd in the series, it was announced in London on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with The Star, screenwriter John Logan revealed that “it’s a title I lobbied mightily for because it resonates on both plot and emotional levels, as you’ll understand when you see the movie.”

The latest Bond will star regulars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench, as well as newcomers to the series Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney.

Oscar and Tony Award-winning director Sam Mendes will be directing the film, his first in the genre.

“It’s a thrilling project for me to work on,” said Logan. “I grew up with Bond and our movie is coming to come out on the 50th anniversary of Doctor No. Bond is part of a long and powerful tradition. He’s the great British hero and I feel we owe a bit debt to Ian Fleming for having created him.”

As always, no plot details were unveiled but Logan said “the film is being shot in London, Turkey, Scotland and China. We’re having the best time working on it, but we’re trying to do a movie with wit and commitment. A film that James Bond himself would have enjoyed.”

Logan’s major screenwriting credits include Gladiator and The Aviator and he’s best known recently as the author of the smash hit play Red, about the life of painter Mark Rothko, which will open at Canadian Stage on Nov. 24, starring Jim Mezon and David Coomber.

VH1 Sets Premiere for ‘T.I. And Tiny: The Family Hustle’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 9, 2011) *VH1 has announced that its new reality series “
T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle” will have its premiere on Dec. 5, at 9 p.m. ET.

The network said in a statement:

Viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the most private moments of the Grammy-winning artist as he is reunited with his wife, Tameka (a.k.a Tiny), and his children following a 12 month prison sentence that was completed several months ago.

The new series follows the “King of the South” at his most vulnerable, as T.I. re-acclimates back into his life as a father, husband, son, musician, apparel magnate, businessman, actor and best-selling author (Power & Beauty).

During filming of a music video, the audience will catch a tender moment as T.I. teaches his son the importance of education and doing his school work. For the first time, fans will get to know T.I.’s children and see their reactions as they realize their father is a member of Hip Hop royalty. T.I. even begins to instruct his eldest son, Domani on the secrets to putting on a great concert performance and allows Domani (aka T-Money) show off his skills in front of a crowd of 3,000 at the Scream Tour.

“Tameka and I have a strong, loving family,” said T.I. “In this family
documentary, you will see the challenges of raising children while balancing a career. It’s like a lot of families, only our home is in the spotlight.”

Viewers will also catch a glimpse into the very loving and always fascinating relationship between T.I. and his wife Tameka, who has faithfully stood by T.I.’s side through his highs and lows and who herself was a former member of the ’90s Grammy-winning pop group Xscape. The mother of two of T.I.’s children, along with her own fifteen-year-old daughter, Tameka was forced to hold down the fort while T.I. was behind bars.

Viewers also are introduced to the OMG GIRLZ, a new up-and-coming pop group that Tameka manages.


Video: Braxton Drama Reaching Breaking Point as Season 2 Approaches


(Nov. 5, 2011) *As EUR previously reported,
Toni Braxton has fired her longtime manager Vince Herbert, who is married to her sister, Tamar Braxton. As you can imagine, the move is adding to the tension that has been a theme in their WE TV show, “Braxton Family Values.” A source told the NY Post that Toni “won’t be anywhere near Tamar. This has caused more family problems.” Toni’s rep confirmed that she’s no longer working with Herbert but, “has a great personal and professional relationship with Vince … adding that the Braxtons were … “still very close.” Soooo with that in mind, check out the trailer for the upcoming season of “Braxton Family Values”:

Breaking Bad Comes To Netflix Canada

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Nov 07, 2011) Netflix customers apparently wanted
Breaking Bad pretty badly. The streaming site announced Monday morning that Seasons 1-3 of the Emmy Award-winning show are now available. The company said Breaking Bad, about a high school chemistry teacher who begins dealing meth, was one of the most requested TV shows by its members. A recent report indicated that Netflix use by Canadians is up in prime-time, but the site has been dogged by complaints about poor selection, especially compared to the U.S. version of the streaming service.


Home For The Holidays With Horton

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Nov 8, 2011) Broadway may have Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs as their
musical theatre married couple, but so what?

We’ve got
Sharron Matthews and George Masswohl, who are every bit as talented and a lot more cuddly, which is something to consider, now that the nights are getting longer and colder.

You’ve got an excellent opportunity to see them in action right now at Young People’s Theatre, where they’re currently performing in
Seussical through Dec. 31.

The show is based on the beloved work of Dr. Seuss and combined several of his best-known stories to make a musical with a score by the Ragtime team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

The work was originally developed under the banner of Garth Drabinsky’s Livent in its final year and it reportedly received a spectacular workshop with a book by Eric Idle and a knockout turn by Andrea Martin as The Cat in the Hat.

But Livent soon dissolved, Idle was bumped off the project and Martin decided the atmosphere was growing too fraught for her, so she departed, to be replaced by the mime, David Shiner.

By the time it opened on Broadway late in 2000, the show had switched directors, choreographers and designers, never a good sign. The reviews were terrible and even Rosie O’Donnell’s cheerleading (and eventual performance as The Cat In The Hat) didn’t save the day and the show closed quickly.

Years have gone by since then, however and theatres devoted to young audiences have discovered that a lighter, less overblown Seussical is just the thing for their audiences.

YPT had a big success with a 2006 version of the show and now they’re bringing in back with the same leading man, er, elephant, but this time his wife is along to share in the fun.

Masswohl is once again the lovable Horton (he who hears a who) and Matthews is the flashy Mayzie La Bird (she with the dazzling tail).

It’s a chance for them to make beautiful music together, which they always enjoy doing, especially at YPT and over the holiday season, something they’ve had the chance to do on several occasions now.

“It’s a great experience,” offers the big-hearted Matthews, “being with people you love at this particular time of year and I always love working with George.”

“We leave each other alone, mostly,” agrees Masswohl, “and it works out smoothly most of the time.”

“EXCEPT,” begins Matthews in her train-stopping voice, “when my beloved husband turns to me in rehearsal and says ‘I think I have something to tell you and I don’t want you to get mad.’”

“I didn’t say that,” objects Masswohl. “Oh, well actually, I did. But it was just about a note where you were a tiny bit off pitch.”

“And I was,” laughs Matthews, “so I fixed it.”

The couple has been together 19 years and it’s easy to see that, both from their breezy camaraderie and their sensible attitude about working together.

“We don’t bring our work home,” says Masswohl.

“No need to at all,” agrees Matthews. “Work is work, home is home.”

“Besides,” Masswohl reminds her, “There’s nothing to bitch about.”

“It’s a great work experience,” Matthews concurs. “And besides, when we get home, we’ve got more important stuff to talk about: dogs, bills, mortgages.”

“Let’s stick with the dogs,” advises Masswohl.

Matthews is one of this country’s most talented cabaret performers and she’s been extremely busy this past year, appearing on Global TV’s Canada Sings, as well as taking her unique musical entertainments to New York, London and Edinburgh.

“I’m going back to Edinburgh again next summer,” she vows. “I absolutely love it there and I think they like me too.”

She’s being modest since she’s played there the last two years to 90 per cent business and rave reviews.

Back home, her gigs have usually been one or two night affairs to a devoted following, but she assures her fans that she’s looking at “a longer run where I can settle down in a theatre and let people know that I’m there.”

Her husband never has any trouble attracting first-rate musical theatre roles around the country, but he’s putting all that on the back burner for a while in 2012 to work on what he describes as “a baritone trio. You know we’ve had the Canadian Tenors, but what about us baritones?”

So he joined together with Lawrence Cotton and Curtis Sullivan to form a group called Bravura which started spreading their wings in 2011 and are planning bigger things for next year.

But right now, it’s time for a matinee of Seussical and the two of them can’t wait to hit the stage.

“It’s very joyous working at this theatre at this time of year,” says Matthews.

“And being with each other,” adds Masswohl.

Seussical can be seen at Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front St. E. from now through Dec. 30. Tickets at 416 862-2222 or go to youngpeoplestheatre.ca


Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Nov 04, 2011) And then there were 12.

Once upon a time, the National Tour of
Mary Poppins started out with only one lonely Canadian in it, Nicolas Dromard.

The talented performer playing Bert is a veteran of Stratford, the Toronto production of Mamma Mia! and The Boy from Oz on Broadway, where he got his butt smacked by Hugh Jackman every night in the curtain call.

But he missed having someone around he could say “eh?” to.

Luckily, the theatre gods heard him and by the time I caught up with the delightful production in Buffalo last October, he had been joined by Laird Mackintosh (Mr. Banks), Blythe Wilson (Mrs. Banks) and Mark Harapiak (Park Keeper).

Laird is another Stratford veteran who you might remember while
tapping his heart out opposite Cynthia Dale in My One and Only, while Wilson and her husband Harapiak are also longtime Stratford and Shaw vets as well.

Gee, maybe it’s the classy accents our guys can put on that impress the Yanks!

Whatever it was, that maple-flavoured love just kept a-growing and now, with Mary Poppins poised to start Toronto performances on Nov. 10, there are an even dozen Canadians in the cast, most of them from right here.

Talk about “home for the holidays!”

It’s especially sweet because some of them have been away for so long that, as Wilson puts it, “I haven’t sat in my backyard or baked in my kitchen for over two years!”

I spoke to all of them in Chicago, where they’re wrapping things up before heading here and asked them what they were most looking forward to about being back in the true North, strong and free.

“Just being back in Canada,” said Dromard. “I haven’t performed here since I did Wicked in Toronto in 2005. I’m really excited just to be back.”

Mackintosh takes another angle. “I’m so proud of Toronto that I can’t wait to show it to all of my American friends.”

And the homebodies, Wilson and Harapiak, want to “walk along the boardwalk in the Beaches and just nest a bit.”

Janet McEwan, who portrays the Bird Woman, is originally from the Maritimes, but Toronto has been home for many years, that is, when she’s here. Playing Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast here earned the attention of Disney, who sent her on the road for over four years, playing it everywhere you could name.

“I am going to be in my own house on Christmas Day? Do you know how very special that is to me? I can’t begin to tell you!”

Valerie Boyle has been away from home on Broadway for several years playing the bossy cook, Mrs. Brill, but the Disney folk arranged it so she could join the tour at this point and see her friends and family.

“I especially wanted to be with my Richie,” she says warmly, speaking of her developmentally challenged 35-year-old son, who’s the love of her life.

And young Camden Angelis, who plays Jane Banks at certain performances, is only 11, but thrilled about “coming back to the Princess of Wales Theatre,” where she played Marta in The Sound of Music. “It feels just like home!”

Michelle E. White, who gets to stop Mary Poppins with her Jamaican take on “Supercalifragilisticexpalidocious,” has been in lots of Toronto shows, most notably, ShowBoat, but she’s most looking forward to “connecting with all my family and colleagues and visiting my old high school, Wexford Collegiate, which is now a performing arts school.”

The last time Eric Coles (Ensemble) was on a Toronto stage was as a street thug in Rock of Ages, but the sweet-faced performer is still a kid at heart, “and I’m excited to see the decorations in the Eaton Centre and the tree at Nathan Phillips Square.”

Sam Strasfeld (Bert alternate) has more than paid his dues on Broadway, Shaw and Stratford, not to mention Toronto shows like We Will Rock You and he’s looking forward to spending the time home with his wife, actress Jennifer Stewart. while “having time to do real grocery shopping at the St. Lawrence and Kensington Markets.”

Josh Assor (Ensemble) is still fairly new to the business, with a year at Stratford playing Baby John in West Side Story his major credit, so it’s understandable that he looks on this time back in Toronto as “a chance for some stability, rediscover my kitchen, have some fun and see my family and friends.”

Cory O’Brien (Policeman) is another Stratford vet who also has Lord of the Rings on his credit list, but to him, he’s anxious to enjoy the end of “fall in Toronto, my favourite time of year. I love going for long walks in the dog park just south of Eglinton W. station and hey, I’ve got three nieces who’ve never seen me in a show and we’ll get to fix that.”

It also goes without saying that they’re all proud of the show they’re in and anxious to present it to the city and the people they love so much.

Most of them love “Step in Time” the best, which features Dromard doing some amazing acrobatic antics, but it’s the beating heart of Mary Poppins that touches everyone the most.

It’s a feeling Wilson sums up nicely. “I still watch every show and I love being on the stage at that magic moment when Mary leaves the family and I can hear the audience gasp when she flies over their heads.

“I just want all the people we love to come and see it.”


CHICAGO — 5 votes — “It’s such a fun town. The jazz clubs, the restaurants, the

theatres …. all of it!”

BOSTON — 3 votes — “History came to life here and I loved it.”

WASHINGTON DC — 1 vote — “I attacked the Smithsonian every day!”

PORTLAND — 1 vote — “Such a surprisingly good city with great food and nice people.”

SEATTLE — 1 vote — “It reminded me of Halifax. The hills, the sea, the friendly people.”

SALT LAKE CITY — 1 vote — “It felt like home. And the view of the mountains was so beautiful.”

The Big Interview: Raising Kain

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Nov 04, 2011) For Karen Kain, 60 is the new 50.

Not only did the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada pass that birthday on March 28 this year, while looking a decade younger, but it’s also the 60th anniversary of the organization she heads and although diamonds are the usual gift on that occasion, she’s overseeing a domain that’s solid gold.

Last year was one of the most successful in the National’s history, with ballets like Chroma putting them right at the cutting artistic edge, while Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a record-breaking audience-pleaser.

Kain sits in her sunlit office at the Walter Carsen Centre on Queens Quay, smiles and almost seems to relax for a minute, a rare thing these days.

“To realize that you’re the custodian of the tradition of a great cultural institution for a brief period of time may seem a weighty thing, but it’s also joyous as well.

“It’s a time to reflect and appreciate all the contributions that others have made to my career and my life. My vision is nothing that hasn’t been gleaned or understood from watching and working with so many people I admire before me.”

And now, as the company is preparing for the Nov. 16 opening of Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by the world-renowned Alexei Ratmansky, it must occur to her that this is just the kind of big classical ballet that first grabbed her attention 52 years ago.

“I think it was for my 8th birthday that my parents took me down to Hamilton to see the National Ballet. We lived in Ancaster at the time and we didn’t even have a TV, but my mother always wanted her children to be exposed to the better things in life.

“Celia Franca was dancing Giselle that night. My first encounter with the woman, the company and the art form that would all change my life.”

Kain obviously responded so enthusiastically to the experience that her mother enrolled her in dance lessons, but they didn’t begin all that propitiously.

“My first teacher had Patti Page singing ‘The Tennessee Waltz’ on a 45 and that’s all she played for an hour while I leapt over a kitty litter box.”

Kain’s mother wisely withdrew her from that environment, but her next teacher, after watching the young girl for a few weeks, suggested her parents enrol her in the National Ballet School.

She becomes emotional as she recalls the moment.

“In my life, there have always been people who guided my path, towards the school, towards this company. I didn’t know about any of it. I didn’t have a plan. It’s good fortune and generosity from other people that have given me all I have today.

“At this point in my life, I’m more aware of it than ever.”

It all moved very quickly in those early years, with Kain joining the National Ballet School at 11, entering the company at 18 and being made a principal dancer when she was 20.

“I was a very shy kid,” she recalls. “I wanted to dance, but for myself, not in front of other people. I wasn’t a performer. It was something that I had to force myself into for my whole life.

“I think I worked harder than everyone else because I never really believed in myself. It was other people who did. When you join a company at 18 and you’re thrust into a very demanding, stressful career, you’re not really prepared for the level of acclaim and pressure and you rely on other people’s confidence in you.”

People like Rudolf Nureyev who partnered Kain when the duo conquered London in 1975. She recalls their partnership as “a lot of intuition and silent communication. You feel things by the touch of a hand. It’s a very complex thing. When it works well, it’s magical. It creates a confidence level that lets you take risks without worrying about anything else.”

But despite heady experiences like that, or maybe because of them, by her late 20s, the duality between what Kain felt inside and what she was forced to produce on the stage reached a breaking point.

“I had an incredible loss of confidence in my late 20s and stopped dancing for a year. It was brought on by my inability to cope with what I thought were other people’s very high expectations of me.

“I basically ran away from my career. I wasn’t dealing well with it at all. I had to decide if this was the career I wanted and — if I did — I had to figure out a way to survive.”

And she did. But the very private Kain will only allow that she learned how to do it through “therapy and understanding myself better.”

But the remaining 20 years of her career flash by on fast forward when I ask her when she finally really enjoyed performing.

“When I decided to retire,” she says with a liberating laugh. “That incredible stage fright I’d had all of my life, that sense I didn’t deserve all the attention and the accolades, that’s when it finally started to feel better.”

That decision to leave, she admits, happened gradually.

“I had my own standards after a while for ballets like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty and I knew I couldn’t meet those standards anymore, so I let those roles go. The struggle to do them for the last time was really difficult. The writing is on the wall, but you love it so much, it’s hard to let it go.

“What’s a dancer’s worst enemy? Sometimes it’s age, but sometimes it’s the dancer themselves.”

The final impetus Kain needed came when impresario Garth Drabinsky offered her a farewell tour across the country when she was ready to go.

“I realized this was a wonderful opportunity and so I pinned it down.”

Kain hung up her toe shoes after that 1997 tour, but a year later she was Artist in Residence at the National, then an Artistic Associate and — after a brief stint as the head of the Canada Council — she returned as the Artistic Director in 2005.

“You never know how it feels to run the company until you’re doing it yourself. It’s like when I was a dancer, I’d watch Sleeping Beauty and think ‘That’s not so hard,’ but then I’d finally do it myself and it was ‘Oh, my God!’

“I’ve been preparing for this job a very long time, but I’m still learning every day, because the ground keeps changing. It’s never just ‘make a plan, follow through and everything will be fine.’ Never.”

Even at a moment like this when it all seems to be flawless, Kain shakes her head and says “I never take anything for granted. Every time I recognize that it has gone well, I’m aware that tomorrow night might bring a different story.

“But I am constantly grateful for how it’s all unfolding and I hope that continues.”

One final question. Is there anything about her life or career that she regrets? The answer comes quickly.

“Yes. I regret that I didn’t enjoy it all more. I didn’t savour it until the end because I was so hard on myself. Life goes by so quickly. A dancer’s career goes by so quickly. You’ve got to enjoy those moments when you know you’ve done your best.”


Celia Franca

Celia’s combination of fierce devotion to The National Ballet of Canada and deep humanity for those who worked there was an inspiration to me.

Rudolf Nureyev

He was incredibly nurturing and supportive early in my career and I deeply valued his friendship. Rudolf taught me so much about dancing.

Erik Bruhn

He was a true artist and wonderful Artistic Director.

Sandra and Jim Pitblado

Their unfailing support of the arts make them not only genuine philanthropists but their dedication to the National Ballet and the personal support they have always given me also make them true friends and mentors.

Winifred Kain

My mother, who grew up on a farm in Manitoba, was determined that her children be exposed to the arts and have the opportunities that were not available to her.

And Slowly Beauty: Magical Play Unfolds Like A Beautiful Dance

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Susan Walker

(Nov 07, 2011) With the first English production of Michel Nadeau’s well-made play
And Slowly Beauty ..., director Michael Shamata marshals all the elements of live theatre to create the magic alluded to in a tale of how art can change your life.

The show, a co-production of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre and the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, B.C., is everything theatre should be. The play is incredibly complex and multilayered, yet we are never lost.

The genius is in its structure which features one actor, the brilliant Dennis Fitzgerald as central character Mr. Mann, in every minute of this roughly two- hour show, while five other actors (from NAC’s English Theatre Company) depict multiple characters swirling around him.

“A man goes to work,” says Mr. Mann, donning his three-piece grey suit in the opening scene. Work is a desk job at a social-services agency where Mr. Mann has been placed in charge of “restructuring the restructuring.” After winning two tickets in an office raffle, he goes to see Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. We watch snippets from the Russian classic as Mr. Mann watches a lit stage within the glass chamber of the production's ingenious set.

Henceforth, the boredom and frustration Mr. Mann feels is viewed through the lens of Chekhov’s sisters and their guests, especially Baron Tuzenbach, with his presentiments of a better life to come, and his insistence that one must have a dream. The Chekhov characters also wander in and out of the action in the larger play, as if they were a running commentary from Mr. Mann’s memory of the show.

And Slowly Beauty ..., translated by Maureen Labonté, unfolds like a dance, with the actors’ movements choreographed, and beautiful phrases repeated. “Change is never easy,” Mr. Mann informs his staff in an early scene of some hilarity. All of the actors he addresses have their backs to us and each responds in a different chirping or growling gibberish.

As the story progresses, Mr. Mann and his middle-class family engage in Chekhovian discussions. Meanwhile at the office, Mr. Mann begins to feel trapped. It dawns on him that maybe steady work (see Chekhov) is not the answer to a full life.

The constant shifting of scenes and characters – many of them in Mr. Mann’s mental landscape – transports us from late 19th-century Russia to a street corner or a café in a Canadian city that strongly resembles Ottawa. For Moscow, substitute Montreal.

The extraordinary Caroline Gillis, long-time collaborator of actor/playwright Daniel MacIvor, plays Mr. Mann’s wife Claudette, but also the Chekhov sister Olga and a street person hawking a paper about life on the street. Celine Stubel does duty as daughter Nadine, but also the Chekhov sister Irina and an artist who asks Mr. Mann to be part of her installation. A talented newcomer, Thomas Olajide, is son Quentin, but also Tuzenbach and a doctor at the hospital where Mr. Mann visits a dying colleague. Christian Murray depicts a deranged street person, the dying colleague Sylvain and a Russian officer from The Three Sisters. Mary-Colin Chisholm is riveting as Anita, a friendly waitress, who stars in Mr. Mann’s fantasies of love, and is also the sister Masha.

Designer John Ferguson’s set, a glass-walled structure surrounding three Chekhovian birch trees, is a magic lantern. A corridor serves as the interior of a bus or the passage through death.

Victoria composer Brooke Maxwell (Ride the Cyclone) has written a haunting score, punctuated with echoing choral passages.

And Slowly Beauty is no simple kitchen-sink drama. There is much laughter in unexpected places and some deftly directed movements that quicken the interplay of action and ideas. Like Mr. Mann at the theatre, “we were transported.”

And Slowly Beauty ...
Written by Michel Nadeau
Translated by Maureen Labonté
Directed by Michael Shamata
Starring Dennis Fitzgerald, Caroline Gillis
At the Belfry Theatre in Victoria
And Slowly Beauty ... runs in Victoria until Oct. 23. The production plays Ottawa’s National Arts Centre from Nov. 7 to 19.
Special to The Globe and Mail

Is Debra DiGiovanni Really A Single, Awkward Female?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Nov 07, 2011) The comedian
Debra DiGiovanni, recognizable for a raspy voice heard on CBC's The Debaters and MuchMusic's Video on Trial, moves out of the clubs and into theatres for a tour of her self-deprecating, feisty humour and snappy one-liners. She talks to The Globe about being the lady with the laughs.

Your tour of theatres is called the Single Awkward Female Tour. Does that refer to the subject matter, or to the fact that the warm-up acts you'll be using are all men?

Both. It's not a surprise, but women are always outnumbered in comedy. I'm always the only girl on the show. I'm usually the single, awkward female in the room. It's also just where I'm at in my life.

Women seem to want a man with a sense of humour. But what about men - do they want a funny woman?

I don't think so. I've yet to come across that man. Women want someone to make them laugh. But when men say they want a woman with a sense of humour, they want someone who will laugh at their jokes.

I think you're right. Do you have an explanation?

Comedy is aggressive. I'm onstage, everybody's looking at me. I'm the centre of attention. And some men - not all men - find that, I assume, quite intimidating. Or at the very extreme, repugnant.

Have you talked to your female comedian friends? Do they have trouble with relationships because men find their humour intimidating?

That's a good question. Actually, I'm running through my friends in my mind, and most of them have boyfriends. Maybe it's just me [laughs]. Then again, most of them date comics.

They're probably not as funny as you are, and, therefore, less intimidating.

Oh my gosh, you said it. We found the answer. Guys can only handle a certain amount of funny.

Do you want a man who will make you laugh?

I would like a man to laugh with me. My friends tease me. They say I'm going to have a quiet guy. Competing for the spotlight with me is not going to happen with me, because I'll win.

Is your audience mostly female?

I would say that, yes. I get told that I'm not that girly on stage. But, you know, I'm still a girl. I'm still coming from a feminine point of view. It's something that connects us. I think every woman has been a single, awkward female at some point in their life. But the show isn't just for girls. I'm not going to do anything to upset the boys. I'm not going to tell girly secrets.

How has your material changed over the years?

When I was starting out, at age 30, it was "looking for" and "seeking out." Now I'm approaching 40, and it's about taking stock. It's more "what can I put up with?" I'm working all the time. I don't even know how to be in a relationship, as a touring comedian. That's where I'm at now.

Where are you at now as a comedian?

I'm more confident. I'm much more at home onstage. There's nervous energy, but there's a feeling now like "you've got this." So, maybe, a little less awkward. And maybe a little more single.

Debra DiGiovanni's Single Awkward Female Tour plays Toronto's Panasonic Theatre, Nov. 13; Ottawa's Centrepoint Theatre, Dec. 8; Brockville, Ont.'s Brockville Arts Centre, Dec. 16.

City’s Showbiz Players Brace For Hard Times

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Nov. 08, 2011) A not-so-funny thing has been happening on the way to
the end of an otherwise lively and rewarding year in Toronto’s world of culture and showbiz. It is becoming impossible to paper over the cracks that keep appearing in our arts and entertainment scene.

Alas, dark theatres, underpopulated museums and revenue shortfalls have escalated beyond occasional blips. This is starting to look like the new norm.

Let’s start with the commercial side. There is no bigger success story than the Mirvish theatre empire. This month, Mary Poppins finally arrives at the Princess of Wales Theatre and it has the sweet smell of success. Then, early in 2012, a fresh production of War Horse begins what should be a long and profitable run.

All that sounds rosy but, except for two weeks, the Canon — the largest of Toronto’s four Mirvish-owned theatres — has been shuttered since Billy Elliot closed in early September (sooner than expected), with nothing booked there for the next six months.

Now the postponement of Les Misérables means the Royal Alex could also face a lot of dark nights next year. Indeed, there are only three Mirvish openings on the sked for any of their theatres during the first half of 2012.

Still, the situation is much dicier in the world of not-for-profit theatre. Bharati was a strongly promoted and critically praised extravaganza, but the South Asian audience did not flock to it, and the cavernous city-owned Sony Centre was more than half empty at Sunday afternoon’s final performance.

Moreover, it won’t be a merry Christmas on Front St., since there will be no big holiday show this year at the Sony.

At least the Sony has more shows lined up than the Toronto Centre for the Arts, where except for short runs of Broadway musicals presented by Dancap, the main stage is mostly dark.

The Elgin Theatre offers a perfect venue for Opera Atelier, which last Saturday ended a highly successful run of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The Elgin also sparkles for the TIFF special presentations in September and Ross Petty’s annual festive-season panto (The Wizard of Oz this year). But those events occupy a total of just 10 weeks a year, with few crumbs available the rest of the year.

Since the Four Seasons Centre opened five years ago, the Canadian Opera Company has had the knack of selling 95 per cent or more of its 2,000 seats. But for this fall’s first two productions, Iphigenia in Tauris and Rigoletto, attendance dropped to the 80 to 85 per cent bracket. No panic yet, but could this be the beginning of a worrisome trend?

At the Art Gallery of Ontario, senior management and board leaders are anxiously hoping the wonderful exhibit about Chagall and his Russian contemporaries will ramp up visitor numbers and lead to a better result at the end of the current fiscal year than the grim one they had to deal with last spring.

Meanwhile, at TIFF Bell Lightbox, it is by no means certain that the Grace Kelly exhibition, opened with red-carpet glitz and a royal visit last week, can sell enough tickets to cover the cost of mounting it, let alone offset TIFF’s steeply increased operating costs since moving to its new home.

Upshot: the long-range forecast for the remaining eight weeks of 2011 and the first half of 2012 is shaping up to be mostly cloudy with occasional sunny breaks and frequent nasty spells.

The good news: Toronto is not in Greece and we are not facing a collapse.

But a number of major players in our culture world should brace themselves for a bumpy ride and prepare to take whatever shelter is available while praying the pain won’t be too long-lasting or damaging.

Review: The Mountaintop

Source:  Elaine Quan

(Nov 7, 2011) Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning Broadway play, "The Mountaintop," focuses on a revelation-baring conversation between Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (Samuel L. Jackson) and the enigmatic maid, Camae (Angela Bassett) at the Lorraine Hotel on April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination.

These two Hollywood heavyweights deliver performances that made the audience chuckle with laughter and then stirred them to tears.  Playwright Katori Hall poses many interesting questions in this fictional conversation between Camae and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King as it reveals Dr. King as a man with human flaws instead of him as a civil rights icon and speechwriter.  Samuel L. Jackson studied the mannerisms and speech inflections of Dr. King and gives the audience a convincing portrayal of Dr. King as we know him.  Angela Bassett delivers an exuberant and powerful performance as the irreverently outspoken maid as she challenges Dr. King on many of his beliefs.

This one-act, two person play is a must-see as Tony Award-nominee Kenny Leon directs these two A-list actors to powerful performances that has audiences awed and wondering how Dr. Martin Luther King could have enriched the world even more had he lived.

Performances run until the end of January 2012.

Bernard B Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Street
New York, NY

Written by:  Katori Hall
Directed by:  Kenny Leon
Original Music by:  Branford Marsalis
Starring:  Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett

The Mountaintop May Extend Broadway Run

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 7, 2011) *Katori Hall’s Olivier Award-winning drama
The Mountaintop, which recently extended its run at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre through Jan. 22, 2012, may play beyond that date.

Angela Bassett portrays the mysterious Camae opposite Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the production, which is directed by Tony Award nominee Kenny Leon (Fences, A Raisin in the Sun). A further extension would likely require the recasting of the role of King because Jackson has a pre-existing film commitment, reports Playbill.com.

Rick Miramontez, a spokesperson for the new drama, told Playbill.com, “The producers hope to be able to keep this show going for as long as there are audiences lining up to see it, and they are exploring all of their options.”

A production source also told Playbill.com that discussions are currently underway for a cinemacast of the play. Taking place on April 3, 1968, The Mountaintop, press notes state, is a “gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering his legendary ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious young woman delivers room service, King is forced to confront his past, as well as his legacy to his people.”

Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett attend the "The Mountaintop"
press conference at Brooklyn High School of the Arts on September 19, 2011 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and Tony Award nominee Branford Marsalis (Fences) composed original music for the production. The creative team also includes set and projection designer David Gallo, costume designer Constanza Romero, lighting designer Brian MacDevitt, sound designer Dan Moses Schreier and hair and wig designer Charles G. LaPointe.

Show times are Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

Tickets are available at Telecharge.com. The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre is located at 242 West 45th Street.


Gadgets That Won't Be Around In 2020

www.globeandmail.com - Seth Fiegerman, TheStreet

(Oct 18, 2011) NEW YORK— Hindsight may always be 20-20, but you
don’t need particularly great foresight to know many of the gadgets on today’s market won’t be around in 2020 given how quickly the tech industry keeps changing. In the first half of the 2000s, retailers were buzzing about the prospects of MP3 players and netbooks, but by the end of the decade, those products had largely been replaced by smartphones and tablets.

As tempting as it may be to imagine otherwise, some of the gadgets you may rely on most right now will likely suffer the same fate and be killed off or made obsolete by the end of this decade. Sure, you may still be able to find these products for sale in certain niche stores, but they will no longer be produced for a mass-market audience.

Many of the products you rely on most right now will likely be phased out by the end of the decade, starting with standalone GPS systems.

“You can still find and buy VCRs and there are people still using mainframes from 1992, so it’s not like this stuff disappears forever,” says Stephen Baker, an industry analyst at the NPD Group. Mr. Baker notes that the main reason retailers continue to market and sell outdated products is to cater to shoppers who buy them for nostalgia’s sake, but for all intents and purposes the market has left these products in the dust.

So which popular products today will join the likes of VCRs, cassette players and transistor radios in the next few years? We asked five tech analysts to offer their thoughts on the gadgets that will largely be phased out by the end of this decade.

Standalone GPS Systems

The days of spending $200 or more on a standalone GPS device won’t last much longer, analysts say.

“Portable navigation devices like those sold by TomTom and Garmin will probably not be sold in 2020, just because mobile phones will have taken on that function themselves and because GPS systems will be standard equipment in cars,” says Charles S. Golvin, an analyst at Forrester, a market research firm. As a result, there won’t be much of a need to buy a product whose only function is to tell you directions.

If there is a demand for these GPS systems, it will likely come from a very specific segment of consumers.

“Maybe you could argue there will be a market for guys climbing Mount Everest or long-distance truckers or the military, but for the vast majority of consumers, standalone GPS systems will be irrelevant and redundant,” Mr. Baker says.


The e-reader has already undergone significant changes in its short history, evolving from a product with a keyboard to one with a touchscreen and more recently being integrated into a kind of a tablet-hybrid, but according to Mr. Golvin, the market for e-readers will mostly disappear by the end of the decade.

“The tablet will largely supplant the e-reader in the same way that the iPod increasingly gets displaced by smartphones,” Mr. Golvin says. “Tablets will take on the e-reader function of handling magazine, newspaper and book reading.” In essence, spending money on an e-reader that can only handle reading when tablets can do this and more will come to seem as useless as buying a GPS system that can only look up directions when other technology does this as well.

Just how small the e-reader market becomes may depend somewhat on advancements in display technology. One of the biggest incentives for consumers to buy a pure e-reader is to have an e-ink display (like reading from a book) rather than a backlit display (like reading from a computer screen), but according to Mr. Golvin, manufacturers are already working on ways to merge the two reading experiences and create a tablet that doubles as an authentic e-reader.

Even then, there may be still be some e-readers on the market at the beginning of next decade, but not many.

“It could be that by 2020 you can still buy a super cheap e-reader for $20, but by and large, the volume of sales will be so close to zero as to be indistinguishable, like CD players are now,” he says.

Feature Phones

Several of the products that are likely to be phased out will ultimately be the victim of advances to smartphones, and none more directly than feature phones.

Tim Bajarin, a technology columnist and principle analyst with Creative Strategies, predicts that 80 per cent of all phones sold in 2015 will be smartphones and every phone sold in 2018 will be a smartphone. This rapid decline will come about thanks to a drop in prices for consumers and an increase in revenue opportunities for carriers.

“Even today, the money that is made is not on the phone itself but on the services,” Mr. Bajarin says, noting that carriers will opt to “fade out” their feature phone option in favor of smartphones with more services.

Low-End Digital Cameras

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S last week, smartphone competitors probably weren’t the only ones beginning to sweat. Digital camera makers also have much to be worried about. Apple’s newest phone has a killer 8-megapixel camera that takes in more light and records video at 1080p HD video. Until recently, those kind of specs were unique to digital cameras, but increasingly smartphones are taking over the market.

“Flip cameras went bye-bye and now low-end camera functions are being taken over by smartphones,” says Rob Enderle, principle analyst for the Enderle Group. Going forward, consumers will have less incentive to carry around a camera when they already have a phone in their pocket that takes quality pictures. “The point-and-shooters – and particularly the cameras that sell for under $200 – will eventually go away and be replaced by cellphones that do the same thing.”

On the other hand, Mr. Enderle predicts more expensive and high-tech cameras may have a brighter future, though not by much, as a smaller market of photo enthusiasts seek out professional-quality cameras that go above and beyond what’s offered on a phone.

Recordable CDs and DVDs

Using CDs and DVDs to view and store content will soon be a thing of the past.

“CDs are clearly not going to make it over the next 10 years because everything will shift over to pure digital distribution, so all those shiny discs will be gone,” Mr. Bajarin says. This will be due in part to more streaming options for music and movies and a greater reliance on digital downloads, combined with more efficient storage options for consumers, including USB drives, external hard drives and of course the cloud.

“All a CD is a medium for distribution of content ... and within 10 years, you won’t need a physical transport medium,” Mr. Bajarin says.

Hidden Cost Of Cheap Android Phones: Telcos Spend Billions On Repairs

www.globeandmail.com - Tarmo Virki, Reuters

(Nov 3, 2011) Fitting older versions of Google's Inc. GOOG-Q popular
Android software to cheaper cellphones could send the repair costs of global telecoms operators up as much as $2-billion, a study by wireless services firm WDS showed.

Costly hardware failures are more common on Android devices than on Apple Inc. AAPL-Q iPhones and Research In Motion Inc. RIM-T BlackBerry phones, which have strict control over the components used in their devices, WDS data showed.

Cheaper Android models, costing as little as $100 to make, have helped Android emerge as the dominant platform in smart phones, attracting dozens of manufacturers ranging from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to no-brand Asian vendors.

“While this price point sounds very attractive, when you look at a total cost of ownership it’s a different story,” said Tim Deluca-Smith, Vice President of Marketing at WDS, which offers device management and call-centre services to operators.

Android's share of the global smart phone market rose to 57 per cent in the third quarter from 25 per cent a year earlier and just 3 per cent two years earlier, boosted by the success of models from Samsung, HTC Corp. and Sony Ericsson, according to research firm Canalys.

Deluca-Smith said that, while Android has helped take smart phones to masses of people, it has come at a cost, especially when telecommunications operators roll out cheaper devices from less-known brands.

“At the moment, Android is a bit of the Wild West,” he said.

He said returning a broken device costs an operator on average $130 in service costs, transport fees or in the costs of replacing of the device.

The study covered 600,000 technical support calls taken by WDS across Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia.

Call Of Duty: MW3 Hits Store Shelves At Midnight

Source: www.thestar.com - By Wendy Gillis

(Nov 07, 2011) It’s been called the world’s biggest video game, and the
latest version — Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 — has prompted so much hype that stores across the country are staying open late tonight for the game’s midnight release.

According to industry estimates, the highly anticipated single- and multi-player game is expected to become the fastest-selling video game of all time.

An early review from All About the Games gave MW3 a perfect score of 5/5. The reviewer said features include new maps, weapons, killstreaks and modes, and said the single-player mode was “a brilliant bombastic showcase of set-pieces and action.”

The game starts where Modern Warfare 2 left off, with special forces pursuing Vladimir Makarov, a Russian terrorist, in cities including London, Paris and New York.

Andy Payne, a spokesman with a games industry trade body, said the game promises to not only be “one of the biggest game launches of all time but also one of the biggest entertainment products ever made,” according to the Telegraph.

Where you can buy MW3 tonight

Numerous Toronto stores are staying open into the wee hours for eager COD fans, and some are hosting launch parties, including:

Future Shop — The 325 Yonge St. location is hosting a launch party, allowing customers to play the new game from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Best Buy — The Bay and Dundas location is also hosting a launch party at 9 p.m. where fans can play the game with Xbox Street Teams.

EB Games – Numerous locations are open for the midnight launch, but the 267 Yonge St. store is where the chain is hosting its official launch party.

Game Shack — 595 Bay St.

Gamerama Video Games — 2370 Yonge St.

Groupon Shares Soar 50% In Debut

www.globeandmail.com - By Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press

(Nov 4, 2011)
Groupon Inc. GRPN-Q, the company that pioneered online group discounts, saw its stock soar nearly 50 per cent in its public debut Friday, showing strong demand for an Internet company whose business model is considered unsustainable by some analysts.

Groupon's stock jumped $9.52 (U.S.) to $29.52 in late morning trading.

The Chicago-based company sends out frequent e-mails to subscribers offering a chance to buy discount deals for anything from laser hair removal to weekend getaways. The company takes a cut of what people pay and gives the rest to the merchant.

Though it's spawned many copycats after its 2008 launch, Groupon has the advantage of being first. This has meant brand recognition and investor demand, as evidenced by its sizzling public debut.

Groupon is selling 5.5 per cent of its available shares. Though not unprecedented, the amount is below that of many prominent tech companies, such as Google Inc. GOOG-Q and more recently LinkedIn Corp. LNKD-N, in recent years.

On Thursday, the company priced its IPO at $20 per share. That was above its expected range of $16 to $18. It gave Groupon a market value of $12.7-billion, above only Google's among tech companies. With Friday's stock price jump, Groupon's value rose to $18.75-billion.

Another Internet darling, professional networking service LinkedIn, saw its stock soar to $122.70 on its opening day in May after pricing at $45. Since then, the stock has settled lower but was still trading at $80 late Friday morning.

Groupon's shares rose amid a decline in the broader market. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 183.91, or 1.5 per cent, to 11,860.56.


Giller Winner Recounts Struggles Of Mixed-Race Jazz Musicians In Prewar Europe

Source: www.ottawacitizen.com - By Julian Gunn, Postmedia News

Half-Blood Blues
By Esi Edugyan
Thomas Allen, $24.95

(Nov 8, 2011) I remember waiting for a bus and listening to a literary
podcast when I heard that Victoria, B.C. author Esi Edugyan’s second novel, Half-Blood Blues, had made the Man Booker Prize long list. The book had already received strong support: Lawrence Hill, Austin Clarke and other literary figures wrote glowing responses.

The book was subsequently shortlisted for the Booker but lost out to Julian Barnes. It was also shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Writers’ Trust Award. And it won the
Giller Prize this week.

Half-Blood Blues binds together disparate human behaviour — celebration, community and violence — in telling the story of a band of jazz musicians struggling to exist in Berlin on the cusp of the Second World War.

American and German, dark-and light-skinned, gentile and Jewish, the members map complex racial and national identities. The musicians aren’t targets only because of their skin colour or religious identity; they’re also playing “degenerate” music, according to the SS. That’s a double whammy.

Already censured by the Nazis, the band gets into a street fight, and circumstances go from strained to desperate. They enter a subterranean existence of waiting, hiding and hoping for escape. The book’s voice — “half German, half Baltimore bar slang” — belongs to Sid, the band’s bassist. The story alternates between Sid’s increasingly threatened European existence in 1939 and 1940, and his 1992 journey to Poland as an elderly man.

Throughout, three relationships preoccupy him. His difficult friendship with Chip, the band’s drummer, provides his life’s through-line. His fixation on the melancholy Delilah possesses him. And the ambiguity of his relationship to Hiero, the brilliant young trumpeter, drives him to recount his story, like an ancient mariner whose albatross is a battered record titled Half-Blood Blues.

Hiero is Hieronymus Thomas Falk, a German citizen with a Rhinelander mother and an African father whose precise story shimmers elusively in the history of colonialism and war. “He was a Mischling,” Sid explains, “a half-breed.”

Sid himself is “straight-haired and green-eyed” and light-skinned enough to pass, but ambiguously: “a right little Spaniard,” he says wryly. Though he’s a foreigner, he’s often safer than his friend in Hiero’s own country. Hiero, Delilah and Sid move through a shifting triangular relationship where music plays as important a role as love.

After Hiero is arrested by the Nazis, his bandmates scatter, and Half-Blood Blues, the band’s only surviving recording, becomes a cult hit. Decades later, Sidney is forced to revisit the events that led to the young virtuoso’s disappearance.

Sid’s keyword is “old” — part of that bar slang, the word becomes almost a tic. Sid calls his teeth, his body, his friends and the abandoned jazz clubs old. Europe in 1939 is somehow already exhausted, drained of the brief vitality of the jazz years, and the weariness of old age projects itself backward into Sid’s story.

In this way, though the two timelines are broken into alternating sections, Sid’s consciousness folds them together.

“I like telling it from the perspective of Sidney,” Edugyan said in an interview, “in terms of there being something unknowable or impenetrable about ‘The Kid,’ as they call (Hiero) ... there’s something unknowable about prodigy.”

Edugyan has a confident hand with structure. The segments set in 1992 are shorter, but because of the standing mystery between Chip and Sid, they do not feel extraneous. In the final scenes of the novel, Sid and Chip, hoping they have discovered the vanished Hiero’s refuge, come across a series of metal sculptures including “faces melted and folded over themselves.”

Edugyan’s descriptions of music are resonant. “I just fold right back into Chip, climbing up and down the ladders of sound he lay out for me,” Sid recalls.

She enriches her setting with musical history like the story of the Golden Seven, the Third Reich’s answer to “degenerate” jazz. Real-life musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Bill Coleman play important roles, and their inclusion feels necessary, not forced.

Philosopher and Resistance member Simone Weil makes a clandestine appearance.

The book is not flawless. Edugyan’s lyricism sometimes seems to interrupt rather than reflect Sid’s thoughts. Yet, Half-Blood Blues has one of the most beautiful and understated resolutions in recent Canadian literature.

The idea for the novel came while the author was undertaking a residency in Stuttgart, Germany: “It got me thinking of the history of black people in that country,” she said. “I’m very interested in these diaspora histories, so I starting doing research and learning about these amazing people — diplomats and African royalty — and I started specifically looking at the era of the Third Reich.”

Edugyan read about a small group of men and women referred to as the Rhineland bastards — “children of German women and the French colonial soldiers who were sent over from France’s African colonies to police the Rhineland” — and therein found the genesis for her mixed-race jazz genius.

“The book plays with different identities — Afro-Germans and Afro-Americans, an Afro-Canadian, a blond German-Jewish man, a rich German gentile — all with different skin tones, and examines how that affects how they navigate society. It was interesting to explore,” she said.

The novel certainly deals with heavy material, but moments of lightness spark throughout, often in the playful, colloquial dialogue between the bandmates. To find the cadence of the day, she referenced works such as the autobiography of the great American jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet, who dictated his book from his deathbed. Given that “there isn’t tons written about what the book is about,” Edugyan says she was free to take some licence. “Half of it is this authentic way of speaking, and half of it is invented. You extrapolate. What would these guys call the Nazis in this patois? I came up with ‘the boots.’ ”

Edugyan has an ongoing interest in recovering lost stories. Her first novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne (2004), also brought to life neglected histories from the African diaspora — in that novel, the black settlers of Alberta.

In Blues, she handles Hiero’s plight deftly, exposing without overplaying the paradoxes of his existence — for example, the brutal irony that his German citizenship makes him an enemy alien in France.

Victoria writer Julian Gunn is a graduate student in English literature. With files from other Postmedia News sources.

Toronto Poet In Running For Big Literary Award

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Nov 06, 2011) When they announce the winner of the 2011 Dylan Thomas Prize at the University of Wales in Carmarthen on Tuesday, Toronto-based poet Jacob McArthur Mooney, one of five international contenders for the $49,000 biannual award, won’t be there.

He won’t be far away: just across the channel, in fact, in Germany or France, he said in a phone interview last week from Vienna, during a stopover on a long-overdue European vacation.

“I’d rather not be there when the announcement is made — too much pressure,” said Nova Scotia-born Mooney over the crackling phone line.

“I get inspiration from places, so I’ve spent the last few months travelling, thanks to my very tolerant girlfriend. I was in Yukon for the summer.”

Mooney was nominated in the prestigious literary race for his second collection of poems, Folk, published earlier this year.

The poems deal directly and indirectly with local and distant effects of the 1998 Swissair crash off Halifax, effects that resonate still in Mooney’s work, and neighbourhoods around Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

Mooney recently received the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award and was appointed writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, this past summer.

Established in 2006, the Dylan Thomas Prize — named after the famed Welsh poet and playwright who wrote exclusively in English and died in New York in 1953 — is open to English-language writers between the ages of 18 and 30. It’s one of the world’s richest literary purses and the only major prize that specifically rewards young writers.

Mooney, a blogger on Torontoist.com and a well-read literary critic, is a finalist alongside Belgrade-born, New York-based author Téa Obreht (The Tiger’s Wife, also shortlisted for the U.S. National Book Awards); American author Benjamin Hale (The Evolution of Bruno); British writer Annabel Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece); and Belfast-born, London-based Lucy Caldwell (The Meeting Point).

“It was surprising and humbling to be nominated,” Mooney said. “My books are so stunningly regional that I would never have thought they’d be considered in a competition that’s totally international.”

The greatest benefit of being nominated “is the attention it directs towards my work, which now may be viewed by more than half-curious eyes,” he added.

And if he wins?

“I’m trying not to think about that,” Mooney said. “But for poets, who generally don’t make a living from their work, prize competitions are a good way to make money.”

Mooney said he came to poetry through the theatre, for which he tried writing as a youngster.

“And then through reading at college in St. John. You learn to write poetry by reading it. Ideas come to me as poetry, not prose. They say most prose writers are scared of poetry, but my experience is the reverse. I think it’s poets who are scared of prose.”

Mooney’s first book of poetry, The New Layman's Almanac, was published in 2008.


Get Back In The Saddle In Banff National Park

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Sarah Macwhirter

(Nov 6, 2011) We had come to conquer a fear of horses.

My son and I would also stumble upon wolves in the wild, throw
snowballs into a half-frozen aquamarine lake, shiver at the Cosmic Ray Station atop Sulphur Mountain and eat most of the animals we would spot on a Rocky Mountain animal safari.

But the real purpose was to free Caiden of his trepidation around the big beasts.

Our journey had begun a couple of years before in Ontario's Prince Edward County: It was a beautiful August day and we were about to embark on a family horseback ride. But as we neared Salmon Point, our son Caiden, then 7, got quieter and quieter. And when he saw the horses, he bolted - like a Brumby at the sight of a corral. Wild horses couldn't get him near a saddle.

Luckily for him, the sky darkened, rain soaked the ground and he was spared.

His luck ran out this year, though. No more running from the horses. Fears, left to fester, only grow: If you don't face them young, will you ever?

So early this spring we booked a trip to Alberta, to horseback ride in rugged terrain - in the Rockies in mid-May with snow still clinging to the ground. We also planned to hike, to ride the gondola up the mountain and then to warm up in the hot springs before venturing to Warner Stables for our horseback adventure.

And, of course, I wanted stylish sophistication (and a sustainable operating philosophy), so we checked into the Juniper Hotel just off the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs past Banff. Juniper embodies the essence of the Rockies with its bird's-eye perch above the highway and its natural materials and minimalist design inside.

We would have been happy to simply hang out there, but the great outdoors were calling. We headed out with Juniper operations manager Michael Code, who helped us spot the kigulis, partial pit dwellings built by the Salishan people, invisible to the untrained eye. This led to a still unsettled debate between mother and son about who had it easier: the natives who lived off (and in) the land or the settlers who built houses and traded goods and services to pay for food.

All of this whet our appetite for wildlife, so we set out on an animal safari. This is the kind of bus tour international tourists take - Germans, Swedes and Chinese with their long telephoto lenses and excited murmurings at every spotting. But as educated Canadians, shouldn't we already know our indigenous mule deer from our invading white tail deer, our elk, bighorn sheep and different types of bear, and all their behaviour and habitat?

The truth is, this refresher course prevented me from having to admit to my nine-year-old that I didn't have all the answers. Why are the trees stripped from the bottom up? Hungry elk. Why are the bighorn sheep eating dirt? For the minerals. And for the human animals, where can you sit on an underwater toilet in an underwater hotel? In Lake Minnewanka, where a town and its hotel was flooded, where the British army did high-altitude diving training.

That knowledge - that the grown-ups don't have all the answers or even all the questions worth asking - saw us embarking on a guided hike of Johnston Canyon. It's the kind of place we'd normally explore on our own, admiring but not really understanding the striation in the rock, the boulders that once bounced downhill into the creek, the funny squirrels, unusual lichen, the mesmerizing colour of the water.

Never underestimate the value of a good guide. Paul Sylvestre's words of instruction came back to us on a later visit to Lake Louise (rock flour - that explains the blue!), and served as material for a class presentation (the price kids pay for an extended "field trip"). Nothing locks in knowledge like learning it on location.

And nothing builds the appetite like fresh mountain air. Back at the lodge, I wanted to sample everything the Juniper Bistro offers. We especially liked the roasted duck breast with parsnip purée, duck crackling, roasted carrots and duck confit with star anise scented jus. And the braised bison ribs. And the pan-seared Arctic char. And the duck fat fried frites...

Finally, on our last day in Banff, Caiden would face his fear: It was time to drive to Warner Stables and get in the saddle. I arrived at the last moment - keeping our schedule tight so he wouldn't have the chance to let his nerves run wild - and had him in the care of the ranch hands within minutes of arriving. My Brumby (Caiden) was in the corral, and his nostrils were barely flaring. (Fortunately, we weren't the only guests with the jitters - one giggling young woman with a strong Kiwi accent was the most nervous of all.)

I managed to mount Coyote with a modicum of grace, Caiden was hoisted onto Perogie (See? Nothing to worry about!), and off we went, following our guide across a field, along a Rocky Mountain-blue creek, and up onto the mountain. Coyote was a lollygagger that day, and Perogie, to Caiden's surprise and then delight, loved to attempt a slight wander off track, which gave him a chance to direct him back.

We'd seen Banff by car, by bus and by hiking into a canyon, but there's something special about being both in it and above it while on the back of a warm and majestic creature (though I'm not sure the Warner Stables crew would call Coyote majestic). On horseback, you get the view, and the merest sense of the splendour and the hardships our ancestors enjoyed and endured when travelling these routes so long ago.

Up and up we trotted before wending back at, to Caiden's chagrin, a leisurely pace. Our two-hour tour was over before we knew it, leaving us both longing for more.

We'd faced our fear, and only our backsides were worse for wear.

Later that afternoon, driving the back roads en route to Lake Louise (where Caiden would perfect the art of mountain snowball making, and we would indulge in bison, elk and venison), we rounded a bend and came upon a small pack of wolves sauntering up the asphalt toward us. We crawled to a stop and watched in awe as they ambled by, the solid but scruffy and positively threatening leader staring us down with his glowing eyes. He was quintessential Brothers Grimm, and even in a cocoon of metal, I knew my place in the world.

Some fears don't need to be faced, only respected.


In Banff

Juniper Hotel: The hotel is in the Cascade Wildlife Corridor - which means you may share space with elk, deer, marten, coyotes, wolves, cougars and even grizzly bears. A short but informative trail lies directly behind the hotel. Inside, the Cross Roads cuisine at the Juniper Bistro is designed to reflect the area's heritage. Fully 80 per cent of the food served comes from regional sources, and the restaurant has been approved by Ocean Wise, the Vancouver Aquarium's restaurant conservation program. Rooms from $95; thejuniper.com.

Horseback riding: For a quick loop, all-day adventures or overnight trips, check out Holiday on Horseback at Warner Stables. 403-762-4551; horseback.com.

A guided hike: White Mountain Adventures guide Paul Sylvestre has been hiking Banff National Park for 32 years. He's informative and entertaining. 1-800-408-0005; whitemountainadventures.com.

The wildlife, in situ: A bus tour may not be your thing (I didn't think it was mine), but it's a quick and easy way to get to see the animals in the Banff National Park. Discover Banff Tours; 403-760-5007; banfftours.com.

The wildlife, stuffed: Do make time for a guided tour of the Banff Park Museum. After seeing the animals in the wild, you'll be charmed by the tale of taxidermy that paid little attention to animal behaviour and even appearance - an animal with a hump in the wrong place, and another in a threatening stance he would never assume. It's a throwback to a bygone era. 403-762-1558; pc.gc.ca/banffparkmuseum

Lake Louise

At the sight of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, my son exclaimed: "That would be perfect for a hockey team. That would be the beastiest game of manhunt ever!" Thankfully you won't run into his hockey team. Do walk around the lake, enjoy the Rocky Mountain Trio in the Poppy Brasserie, and find a quiet desk at a window overlooking the lake to write postcards that you can send through the old-fashioned mail slot at the elevator. 403-522-3511; fairmont.com [http://fairmont.com/lakelouise]

Mustique: Where Sustainable Meets Sybaritic

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Charlene Rooke

(Nov 4, 2011) CARIBBEAN—
Mustique Island is so fashionable British designer Anya Hindmarch created a custom canvas tote emblazoned with “Mustique Green.” On this small private island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, eco-friendly is the new glamorous. But, in no small part because of its inhabitants' deep pockets, eco isn't skin deep here, it's becoming a way of life.

Ty Kovach is the man charged with ensuring Mustique's sustainability. At 6 a.m., it's already steaming hot as we set out for a behind-the-scenes tour. “This is the Mustique standard. We will show that you can have luxury and at the same time have excellent environmental performance,” says Kovach, who has been on the island for four years, after working in natural resource management in Minnesota for 17 years.

He is leading the kind of holistic sustainability program that is possible only in a closed-loop system like this: a remote island, with wealthy owners (one, Sir Michael Jagger, sits on the environmental committee), run by a corporate board with comprehensive vision and control over all the island.

Kovach takes me around Mustique – to the recycling centre, the waste- and water-treatment areas and the other decidedly unglamorous sites. Later, I soak it all up – the beach, the cocktails at the Cotton House – enjoying every moment in this eco-luxe hideaway.

Here, then, is Mustique, both the glam and the green behind the scenes.

From eroded to immaculate

Les Jolies Eaux, the one-time villa of the late Princess Margaret, is on the island's south tip. It sits on land given as a wedding gift by Mustique's eccentric founder, Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner. The royal uncle-in-law, famous stage designer Oliver Messel, created this sunny yellow, low-slung, neo-Georgian villa – one of 75 for rent on Mustique. In the distance, hills of lush greenery roll out to the Caribbean Sea, but I'm charmed by another view, the one from the powder room that shows a royal sense of whimsy: a porthole window at seated-loo height.

Just five years ago, this lush green point looked more like a black, rocky field, eroded in spots down to the volcanic base. Five feet of organic mulch and reforestation with almond trees and local plants has brought it back to life. The mulch comes from collecting and chipping leaves, branches and scrap wood. The labour comes from a summer conservation program for local students, who not only plant trees but work in the plant nursery, hear lectures from visiting experts and learn the natural history of their island.

Four centuries ago, Mustique was covered with a 30-metre-high, shady tree canopy, including hardwoods that have long since been felled and harvested. “We're taking a 100-year view of how we want this to look for future generations,” Kovach says, “and the standard that we want future custodians of the island to work toward.”

How a dry island goes wet

It's the place to see and be seen: Residents, villa renters and hotel guests head to Cotton House, the only full-service luxury hotel on Mustique, for the Tuesday-night cocktail party. Women in silk tunics and men with tennis tans get acquainted and reacquainted easily. Mustique is not at all snobby; once you've arrived, you're part of the club.

Nobody will ask what you do, and while your accent might give away where you're from, it's the villa you rent that shows who you are: A nine-bedroom villa with kids' quarters, multiple pools and outdoor pizza oven? A romantic white Moorish palace on a hill? Modest, vintage-Messel digs?

After cocktails, we dine on the terrace of the hotel's Veranda restaurant, where our companion is Basil Charles, the founder in the 1970s of Basil's, the beach bar that is home to weekly soca-music jump-up parties, strong rum punch and fresh seafood. With a booming laugh, he orders the most expensive bottle of red wine and regales us with stories: when Mick dropped in to jam, recent wine tastings in London, the time some escaped convicts took refuge on Mustique

is a “dry island,” with no natural water sources, but you'd never know it. The Cotton House grounds are landscaped fields of green grass, palm trees, tropical flowers and the ruins of an old sugar mill, now housing the Mustique History Museum. (Inside are shards of clay pots from as far back as 500 AD that the island's natives used on the Endeavor Hills shoreline near here to collect drinking water dribbling out of a natural watershed of volcanic rock.) On our tour, we passed a low stone wall with a simple brass tap: It's a “wall of water” Kovach launched in December, 2009, dispensing complimentary filtered water, straight from the desalination plant into free glass bottles. Kovach wants to return to a more natural process by creating underground aquifers, perhaps using sand-dam filtration and solar-powered pump technology pioneered in Africa. (His pilot project will start next year.)

Water treatment is hard on the budget and environment: Though more than half of Mustique's water isn't for domestic use, all of it is expensively cleaned, desalinated and filtered. That's changing, with initiatives including rainwater collection in cisterns and the recycling of water in seven efficient new plants, for irrigation and other non-potable uses.

Sweetie Pie and fruit trees

Downtown Mustique runs on island time. Lovell Village is sleepy this morning: Basil's serves breakfast, the aptly named Pink House and Purple House boutiques finesse their displays of souvenirs and beachwear, and the Mustique Great General Store (its sign boasting “Licensed to Sell Intoxicating Liquors by Retail”) is eclectically well stocked with carnaroli rice, French Burgundy and books by British humorist (and Mustiquan) Felix Dennis. Drawn by the smell of baking bread, I buy a sugared doughnut from Sweetie Pie bakery, then wander over to Stanley's beachside produce stand. He proffers a slice of pear-tasting, white-fleshed soursop, which he calls a cancer-fighting superfood. “Google it!” he insists. He points up the hill to The View, a local restaurant, where Lisa will make us “real Caribbean food” for lunch, washed down with $2 beers. It's a quaint slice of island life.

Soon, all Mustiquans will be able to pick abundant, free fruit. More than 1,500 fruit trees have been planted in six new orchards, many of them germinated in Kovach's own backyard, then nurtured in his nursery, where I see thriving Juliet mango, guava, sugar apple and sapodilla saplings. Kovach heard that fresh fruit was once so scarce on the island, locals were picking it green to snag it first. “We want so much fruit on the island that we don't need to import it. I want the roads to be lined with fruit trees!” he says. There's also a deep respect for plant-based healing among the locals, who brew teas and tinctures from local botanicals when they feel unwell. That philosophy extends to island operations, where natural extracts like chrysanthemum or neem-tree oil are preferred to chemical mosquito blasts and a call to island pest control will bring an expert to find a mouse nest instead of just set a trap.

Keeping the sand on the beach

Lounging on the Cotton House beach one day, we watch two fishermen haul a 127-kilogram marlin out of a tiny fishing boat onto the dock for a chef's inspection (and eventual purchase). On an island that's largely about hilltop privacy and views, the beaches are beautifully serene. On the east side is Macaroni Beach, the local favourite place to hunker down with a picnic prepared by your villa chef. Nearby Pasture Bay is deceptively gorgeous, but too rough for swimming. But south of that is the somewhat hidden Black Sands Beach (there's a little sign beside the staircase hewn into the hillside), where those in the know sneak away on weekends to chill on the warm volcanic sand and swim in the Caribbean.

The chicest beach must be on the north coast of the island, at L'Ansecoy Bay: the homes of Tommy Hilfiger and Mick Jagger are nearby and the public section of the beach has powder-fine white sand and lapping waves. The water churns darker blue just offshore, where a coral reef makes for lively snorkelling to spot parrotfish and sea urchins.

As the first and only developed beach on Mustique, L'Ansecoy Bay had a problem: It was disappearing, at a rate of 15 metres over the past decade – the erosion that results when sand is washed away and not replaced by a healthy coral reef. Simply adding sand or building a seawall weren't permanent solutions, so the island hired Canadian company Baird and Associates to analyze the sand, water, marine life and reef. “We use the reefs and beaches as indicators of how we're doing with the entire ecosystem, as they are on the outer edge and you can readily see any impacts,” Kovach says.

Kovach points out massive boulders Baird has hauled in, forming groynes, slender arms reaching into the water. Once covered with heavy Guyanese sand, these will allow gentle water flow-through and thereby reduce the amount of beach being washed away – a sustainable long-term solution.

Special to The Globe and Mail


UFC's St-Pierre Ready To Shed Media-Shy Image

www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Nov 6, 2011) LAS VEGAS — UFC welterweight champion
Georges St-Pierre admits dealing with the media is the worst part of his job but with a blockbuster bout on the horizon and a network deal set to give mixed martial arts unprecedented exposure, the Canadian may learn to love the limelight.

The Quebec native has dominated his division since taking the title for a second time in 2008, laying waste to a string of challengers with his brutal brand of French-Canadian blunt force trauma.

While St-Pierre is commonly ranked second in the world’s ’best pound-for-pounder’ debate behind Brazilian Anderson Silva, his next fight, a hugely hyped grudge match with American brawler Nick Diaz, could define his career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The 30-year-old told Reuters in a recent interview in Las Vegas he wanted to be known as the best. Not just the best right now, but the best of all time.

“I want to retire being the best pound-for-pound fighter that ever lived,” said St-Pierre, who has defended his title six consecutive times and has a record of 22-2.

“It’s very hard to say how to judge it, but when I think myself that I’m the best it will be the time to do something else in my life.”

Despite a network deal with Fox that will net the UFC hundreds of millions of dollars over the next seven years, MMA is a sport in its infancy and there are no shortage of critics determined to kill off cage fighting’s uber-violence.

The early years of the sport, when groin strikes, headbutts and a raft of other eye-watering attacks were legal, have scarred MMA and the UFC deeply despite a radical rules overhaul and concerted campaigns to highlight the changes.

Courting sponsors and feeding the media’s growing appetite for MMA is not what St-Pierre had in mind when he settled upon life as a fighter but he accepts the growth of the sport could largely depend on how the UFC operates outside the octagon.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s probably the part of my job I dislike the most,” he said, scratching his scarred, shaven scalp. “But I know it’s important.

“Hopefully the (Fox) deal will take the sport to a new level, it will also bring a bigger range of audience, more sponsors, more visibility, more money -- increase the calibre of the sport.”


St-Pierre and the UFC have been good for each other.

The organisation has given him a global platform to showcase his brutal skills and earn the kind of money most fighters can only dream of, while St-Pierre spearheads the UFC’s media offensive as it breaks from its unpalatable past.

But while the paleontology-, philosophy-loving St-Pierre does indeed have a deeply thoughtful side, it is one that must co-exist with the darker element to his character. The willingness to inflict harm on another to make a living.

“Everyone has a violent side,” St-Pierre said. “My job is to win, and in order to win most of the time I need to injure my opponent. It’s a violent sport but in real life I’m not a violent guy.

“I’m an athlete in a full contact sport so it requires violence to win.”

St-Pierre, who was forced to pull out of the UFC’s Las Vegas card last week due to knee and hamstring problems, has not always sated the bloodlust of the sport’s hardcore element, with his last four fights going to judge’s decision.

But there is no doubting his desire to knockout or tap-out Diaz, whom St-Pierre has described as “the most disrespectful human being I’ve ever met”.

“I’ve had a lot of criticism about not finishing fights, but if there’s anyone who wants to finish fights it’s me,” he said.

“It’s hard to stay champion and in the welterweight division today’s number one can so easily become tomorrow’s number two.

“I just want to fight again as soon as possible.”

From Windsor To Washington, Atogwe's Roots Run Deep

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Rachel Brady

(Oct. 26, 2011) Aigbomoidi Atogwe left the Nigerian village of Ayogwiri
in 1974, seeking a better life.

The oldest of nine children in a poor family, he was the only one to be educated. Trained as an auto mechanic, he went to Windsor, Ont., leaving behind his pregnant wife, Babianna.

He worked in a tomato-canning factory and a muffler shop before getting his foot in the door at Ford Motor Co., for which he later became a mechanic. He sent money home to Africa for the relatives and saved for two years to bring to Canada Babianna and their daughter, the first of four children they would raise on working-class salaries.

"It was a shining beacon," Atogwe said. "The winters were cold, but we were very happy. It was such a good decision to come here, because Canada has been so good to us."

Oshiomogho Atogwe recounts his father's story proudly. The youngest of the couple's four children has continued the tradition of sending money to Nigeria to help raise and educate relatives. The starting free safety for the Washington Redskins on a five-year, $26-million (U.S.) contract, the younger Atogwe is constantly honouring his roots.

"My dad is a wonderful man and very selfless, and to follow in his footsteps is something I willingly and gratefully do," the 30-year-old said. "His decision shaped our entire future, and it's the reason I'm here."

Oshiomogho's journey to the NFL began when his father watched Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears games with him on TV. As a boy, he played pee-wee football, and later was a standout player at many positions at W.F. Herman Secondary School in Windsor, while also juggling basketball, track and field, soccer, earning top grades and working a part-time job.

"Of all the people I have met in my life, he is the most time-efficient," his high-school football coach, Harry Lumley, said. "Girls would tell me at school that they would call him on the phone, and at some point he would politely end the call, saying, 'It's 7 [p.m.] now, and my study time is starting, and I can't break my schedule.' "

Football scholarship offers poured in from many U.S. colleges, as the Atogwes sought the best school for the standout known as O.J., a kid striving to become a doctor so he could deliver babies in Africa.

Lumley convinced Stanford University representatives to visit, saying Atogwe could run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. The constant overachiever ran it for them in 4.4.

After a standout U.S. college career, he graduated with a biological sciences degree, and put medical school on hold in 2005, as he became the first Windsor-area player to be drafted to the NFL, when the St. Louis Rams took him in the third round.

"I knew he would get a good education and be set for life, but I never expected my son would make it all the way to the NFL," Aigbomoidi Atogwe said. "He has always exceeded my expectations in everything he does."

It's fitting the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder has a comic book collection featuring thousands of issues, many of which he has trucked from one football city to the next. His locker at the Redskins training centre is filled with Incredible Hulk action figures, and he even gifted the groomsmen in his wedding party with super hero socks to wear beneath their tuxedo pant legs on his big day.

In true hero fashion, O.J. Atogwe has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his hometown through numerous scholarships and donations to his high school and former football programs. He spontaneously doubled the amount of a scholarship for one student because the teen showed such integrity when Atogwe called to award him the bursary.

Atogwe married Jill Singletary last spring, the daughter of Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary - one of his dad's favourite players - and now the assistant head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. The devoutly religious couple had a big San Francisco wedding, where many of the Atogwes wore traditional African dress.

The Redskins face the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Sunday. And while Atogwe is questionable with a knee injury, he holds out hope of playing in Canada in front of his family.

"Our last name is something that means a lot to us," Atogwe said. "Nigerians take honour in their heritage and traditions, and for them to see the Atogwe name made popular throughout the United States and Canada gives them a sense of pride."

Will Georges Laraque's Claims About Hockey And Steroids Fall On Deaf Ears?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Jeff Blair

(Nov 6, 2011) You will hear the puck-heads dismiss
Georges Laraque out of hand. They will besmirch his character and attempt to paint him as a cartoon figure looking for a little post-career fame and lucre and some of them won't even bother dealing with the allegations of steroid use in his new autobiography.

They'll just say he was a coward, that he should have stood up more during his playing days. Some would call him a turncoat but, well, we've already been down that road, right?

In short, even though he doesn't name names, Laraque will be given the full Jose Canseco treatment as his book, The Story of the NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy, is released in English this week. Canseco's 2005 book Juiced was initially greeted with skepticism, but a couple of Congressional hearings and one full witch-hunt later reputations were sullied beyond repair by more legitimate critics and baseball was forced to enact testing to eliminate not just steroids but the amphetamines that had for decades been a fact of clubhouse life. The hunt is on now to catch up to the human growth hormone users and other more advanced dopers and suddenly those monstrous home run totals have diminished to the point where, as Jose Bautista can readily attest, a 50-homer season raises eyebrows.

The question is how many in the NHL will ask 'what if?', and right now the chances aren't good that anybody will bother. Who's going to hold the feet to the fire, eh? Congress doesn't care a wit about the NHL, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an unabashed, dewy-eyed romantic about hockey. There is no appetite for delving into any seamy side of an august Canadian institution such as hockey, to be certain. Nor is there much political gain.

The game's opinion-makers aren't much interested in wondering about a drug-testing program that has seen just a handful of players suspended, or wondering about actions on the ice that often smack of good old-fashioned 'roid rage. And woe to anybody who brings performance-enhancing or pain-killing substance abuse into the discussion about post-career issues surrounding NHL tough guys.

The Canadian Press says that Laraque's book, published by Viking, suggests steroid use involving not just NHL goons - who use steroids to bulk up ahead of their entry into the NHL and also use ephedrine to de-sensitize themselves before fights - but also by some of the league's top performers. Laraque doesn't name the players, but he provides something of a road map by holding out weight loss and an efficiency loss every four years - Olympic years - followed by a rebound in a post-Olympic season. Translation: the fear of legitimate, Olympic drug-testing scares players straight every four years.

Laraque credits the NHLPA for changing course after initially failing to confront the issue. He wants the game to now focus on HGH, and his efforts should be lauded, not dismissed.

The simple fact is less is known about what goes on behind dressing room doors in the NHL than almost any other professional sport. And as a sport in general, it seems at times fully incapable of learning its lesson or necessary self-governance - recent reports of a hazing incident involving a 15-year-old player with the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, in which he and other rookies had to drag around water bottles tied to their genitals, with assistant coaches looking on, raises disturbing issues of de-sensitization in light of what Theo Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy have told us about the game's culture.

In our perfect hockey world, NHLers are all good Kingston boys; the spiritual and emotional spawn of Don Cherry. But we know that hockey is no better than any other sport when it comes to being perfect. There are so many things we need to talk about when it comes to hockey.

Kudos to Georges Laraque if he furthers the discussion, and here's hoping he finds people who will engage him in it.

Twenty Years On, Magic Johnson Goes On Living

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Harvey Araton

(Nov 6, 2011) So where were you on the night of Nov. 7, 1991? I was in
Madison Square Garden, watching Pat Riley bring his Knicks and the visiting Orlando Magic together to say a pregame prayer for Magic Johnson on the day Johnson revealed that he had tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

That was 20 years ago Monday, and if your first thought is, ‘Oh, my, how time flies,’ consider the alternative likelihood that Johnson has relished every single day since he looked into television cameras broadcasting live around the world and said, “Because of the HIV virus that I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers today.”

Yes, the verb was mangled, but that was part of Johnson’s charm, his standing – then and now – as the most positive force of energy to ever hit professional basketball. He was 32 and tried to be upbeat that day, flashing the trademark smile that Johnson’s friends and colleagues feared they wouldn’t see for long.

“All of us thought it was a death sentence,” Riley said.

That morning, Riley was in his office at the Knicks’ Westchester County training base when Lon Rosen, Johnson’s agent, called with the news. Riley hung up the phone and leaned back in his chair, in disbelief.

Only days earlier, he had received a letter from Johnson, whom he had coached to four championships as part of the Showtime Lakers, wishing him luck as he embarked on his first season with the Knicks. Riley adored Johnson and usually addressed him by his given name, Earvin.

“I just sat there thinking about his life, our 10 years together,” Riley, now the president of the Miami Heat, said in a telephone interview. “I felt so sad for him because if you knew him – I mean, really knew him like I knew him – then you understood that he was only about living life.”

Riley eventually went out to put his players through a shoot-around before preparing them for what was coming later that day. In all his years around the game, he never heard such unsettling locker room silence.

“It was like they were all in a daze,” he said.

Mark Jackson had grown up idolizing Johnson, imitating his flashy passes in New York City gymnasiums and playgrounds on his way to becoming the point guard for St. John’s and the Knicks.

He went home after the shoot-around and got into bed for his customary game-day nap, remembering the balloons Johnson had sent him when he was in the hospital recovering from knee surgery. He cried himself to sleep.

On the telephone from his home in Los Angeles, Jackson recalled that night as “the only time in my life that I was absolutely frozen in a basketball game, not really there.” As if to prove it, he thought the Knicks had played the Magic-less Lakers.

No, he was told. It was the Magic.

“That just tells you where my mind was at,” he said.

Riley said his decision to speak to the fans before the game and lead the players in a moment of prayer was spontaneous because he knew that many at the Garden were unaware of Johnson’s announcement that was made late in the afternoon out West.

“We do not want to eulogize him,” Riley said that night. “More than anything now, he needs our love and support.”

But the story quickly became more complex, more accusatory, through a labyrinth of emotions and opinions related to ignorance about the disease and Johnson’s sexual habits, among other things.

He was welcomed back to play in the NBA all-star game that winter and for the United States Olympic team the next summer in Barcelona, Spain. Based on those experiences, Johnson announced a comeback for the 1992-93 season but abandoned it after Karl Malone’s comments to me for an article in The New York Times unearthed some players’ fears of competing against him.

Johnson, in turn, wanted to become a spokesman for HIV awareness but spoke clumsily, saying he had been assured by doctors that all he had to do to survive was to eat well, exercise and maintain a positive attitude. Lost in the message was that Johnson had access to the finest doctors and the expensive cocktail of drugs that have extended his life, unlike millions who didn’t and still don’t.

“Everyone thought what we were supposed to see was a dark and gloomy guy, but he was just being who he was,” Riley said. “None of us can know whether he genuinely believed what he was saying or what his thoughts were when his head hit the pillow at night, but that’s how Earvin always looked at things. And if a positive attitude led to a better lifestyle, I have to believe that played a role.”

Riley said he would be in Los Angeles on Monday to attend Johnson’s news conference at Staples Center to announce new initiatives by his foundation in the fight against HIV. Over time, Johnson fine-tuned his message and has continued to raise awareness and money while also becoming an entrepreneurial liaison between corporate America and the inner city. More recently, he became a grandfather.

But his greatest achievement of all may have been his decision on Nov. 7, 1991, to tell the world what he had and to deal with the fallout while putting a public face on the disease for the past 20 years. And counting.

New York Times News Service

Olympic Show Jumping Champ Hickstead Dies During Event

www.thestar.com - By Hamish McKenzie

(Nov 06, 2011) VERONA, ITALY — The Canadian equestrian community
was left reeling Sunday after the sudden death of Hickstead, the legendary stallion that helped Eric Lamaze win a pair of Olympic medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Hickstead died during a World Cup event after collapsing to the ground and writhing in pain inside a packed arena.

Veterinarians attempted to revive the horse but its lifeless body was later carried out of the ring as stunned fans at the Rolex FEI event looked on. Hickstead was 15.

Hickstead was without question the most dominant show jumping horse on the planet,” said Equine Canada chief executive officer Akaash Maharaj. “Absolutely without question.”

The Canadian partnership had just completed the 13-fence course with a single rail down in the middle of the combination when the horse fell ill, the International Equestrian Federation said.

The competition was abandoned at the request of the riders. Lamaze’s fellow competitors gathered for a minute’s silence.

“As yet the cause of death is unknown, but our deepest sympathies go out to the owners, to Eric and to all the connections of one of the greatest jumping horses of all time,” said FEI jumping director John Roche. “Hickstead’s presence on the circuit will be very sadly missed.”

Lamaze, from Schomberg, Ont., won individual gold and team silver aboard Hickstead at the 2008 Games. He had been riding Hickstead, owned by Ashland Stables and his Torrey Pines Stable, since the horse was seven.

They won several championships together and also topped the global rankings.

“It was an extraordinary partnership and indeed in our sport today it’s a legendary partnership,” Maharaj said. “Not only because individually they are such great athletes, but together there was no one in the world who could catch them.”

Maharaj added that watching Lamaze ride Hickstead was a “sublime experience.”

“Both Eric and Hickstead obviously trusted each other implicitly,” Maharaj said. “Whereas many other riders would have approached Hickstead with a great deal of caution — and even fear — and attempted to contain and manage his power.

“Eric had total confidence in the horse and therefore was willing to in essence release the horse and allow him to attack the course.”

Lamaze was not available for comment.

He rode the brown Dutch warmblood stallion to victory last September in the $1-million CN International at the Spruce Meadows masters tournament.

“I know him very well, and he wants to jump clear just as much as I do,” Lamaze said of his mount after the victory. “I don’t come to Canada very often — I only come here to Spruce Meadows in the summer and then back for the masters, so to win here is very special.

“He is the best horse in the world, in my opinion, and for him to show it here to his Canadian fans is great.”

They also teamed up to win team silver and individual bronze at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio.

Hickstead really was a horse in a million and my heart goes out to Eric and everyone connected with this wonderful horse,” said FEI president Princess Haya. “This is a terrible loss, but Hickstead truly will never be forgotten. We were very lucky to have known him.”

Martin Kaymer Storms To Victory In Shanghai

www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Nov 6, 2011) SHANGHAI -
Martin Kaymer capitalised on a flurry of birdies to shoot a brilliant final round 63 to win the WGC-HSBC Champions event by three strokes with a 20 under par total of 268 on Sunday.

The 26-year-old German had not won since his Abu Dhabi Championship triumph in January took him top of the world rankings but he made sure he would end the season on a high note with the lowest final day winner’s score in the event.

Kaymer had started the round in a share of sixth place, five shots off the lead held by Swede Fredrik Jacobson, who was initially challenged by fast-starting Britons Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey.

However, the entire field was swept aside by Kaymer, who opened with six straight pars before storming to the title with nine birdies in his final 12 holes.

“It was the first time I have had a run of birdies like that since I shot a 59 on the (domestic) EPD Tour in Germany in my first year as a professional,” Kaymer told reporters.

“I felt I had been playing good the last few weeks before coming here. Now it’s nice to have done it in a world championship event.

“Up to now, I had only had a fair season although I won an HSBC-sponsored event in Abu Dhabi now it’s nice to finish up winning an HSBC event here in Shanghai.”

Kaymer’s golden run started when he holed his recovery shot for birdie from a greenside bunker at the seventh hole.

“After that,” he said. “I don’t think I missed a shot or a putt. But it was the birdie I made at the 17th (where he holed a 20 footer) that I think won the tournament for me.”

Kaymer’s win moved him up to second place on the European Tour order of merit, 1.026 million euros ($1.411 million) behind absent Englishman Luke Donald, and 105,382 euros ahead of McIlroy.

Jacobson, who qualified to play in Shanghai after June’s Travelers Championship win ended a wait of eight years on the PGA Tour for a win, started his round with a bogey but remained at the top of the leaderboard with four birdies.

The Swede was unable to make any more birdies after the 14th hole and his overnight three-stroke lead ended up as a three-shot deficit when he completed a one-under 71.

McIlroy started four off the lead and mounted an early challenge with birdies on his first two holes, knowing that if he finished first or second, ahead of Lee Westwood, he would climb above the Englishman to second in the world rankings.

However, two missed short putts stalled the Northern Irishman’s charge and he eventually finished in a tie for fourth place alongside Casey and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, five behind Kaymer.

Casey had made an even more positive move up the leaderboard than McIlroy after starting six shots adrift of Jacobson, the Englishman birdying five of in his first six holes before closing the round with 12 straight pars.

Last year’s U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell emerged from the pack to seal third place with a 67 that reflected a remarkable turnaround in the space of seven days.

In attempting to defend his Andalucia Masters title on the European Tour last weekend, he shot 81 and 82 to miss the halfway cut.

“I hope now that was only a small blip on the radar,” he said after ending the tournament four shots behind the winner.

Sean Monahan Right At Home On 67’s Top Line

www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(Nov 05, 2011)
Sean Monahan’s OHL career got off to a rough start.

It was the opening day of the Ottawa 67’s training camp last year when the then-15-year-old forward from Brampton was drilled into the boards by a veteran teammate, badly spraining his wrist and missing all of pre-season.

Monahan spent much of the first half of the campaign playing catch-up, a challenge heightened by having moved away from home for the first time.

But an invitation to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he was key in leading Team Ontario to a gold medal in early January, kick-started the second half of the rookie season for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound centre.

“It was a big help in getting my confidence back to play my own game,” said Monahan, who finished his first year with a solid 47 points in 65 games and a plus-24 rating after sticking with Ottawa’s second line upon his return.

Just turned 17 and into his second OHL season — this time with the benefit of a full training camp — Monahan hasn’t let up. Going into action Saturday, he was fifth in league scoring with 12 goals and 17 assists in 16 games.

“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable up here this year,” said the Grade 12 student.

The hot start has earned Monahan a spot on the OHL roster for next Thursday’s Super Series game in Ottawa against Russia. He’s the youngest player on the host squad for the game, which is one of the six-game set used by Hockey Canada to look at potential members of the national team for the 2012 world junior championships beginning in Alberta on Boxing Day.

“It’s a nice feather in his cap,” 67’s head coach Chris Byrne said of Monahan’s selection to the roster for one of two OHL games versus Russia.

It will be Monahan’s third taste of international hockey in 2011. In addition to the U-17 tournament, he won gold with Canada in the Ivan Hlinka U-18 tournament in the Czech Republic in August.

Byrne said as much as Monahan’s point production stands out, it’s the youngster’s two-way game “that’s really impressive for a guy his age.” It’s no doubt one of the reasons NHL scouts are already keeping a keen eye on him even though he’s not eligible for the draft until the spring of 2013.

“I know he’s highly regarded in their eyes,” Byrne said.

“He’s a good kid who has his head on the right way and has a good idea of where he wants to go and what kind of work ethic it’s going to take to get him there,” said Byrne, adding Monahan was already “a true pro” in his preparation for games and diligence at practices before arriving in Ottawa.

Monahan was the first pick of the 67’s in the 2010 OHL draft, 16th overall, after scoring 46 goals and adding 40 assists in 47 games with the Mississauga Rebels AAA minor midget team.

Playing with wingers Tyler Toffoli, a second-round pick of the L.A. Kings in 2010, and Shane Prince, chosen by the Ottawa Senators in the second round of 2011, Monahan said he’s “not really too surprised” by his points.

But he admits “it’s kind of a weird feeling” after his struggles to start last season to see his name near the top of the current OHL scoring race with top 2012 draft prospects and those who’ve already inked NHL contracts.

Still, Monahan, who is not related to former Toronto Maple Leaf Garry Monahan, said he doesn’t focus any time worrying about his birth certificate.

“I like to be competitive. I don’t really look at the age group,” he said. “We’re all in the same league, so we all have the same chances.”


Born: Oct. 12, 1994

Hometown: Brampton

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 190 pounds

2011-12 Stats (Through Friday)

GP 16; G 12; A 17; Pts 29 PIM 13 +/- +11


 • Won gold with Team Ontario at World U-17 Hockey Challenge, Jan. 2011

 • OHL rookie of the month, March 2011

 • Won gold with Canada at Ivan Hlinka tournament, Aug. 2011

 • Named to OHL team for Game 3 of Super Series vs. Russia, Oct. 2011

NFL Tells Game Officials To Watch For Concussion Symptoms In Players

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Barry Wilner, The Associated Press

(Nov 3, 2011) NEW YORK— The
NFL has told its game officials to watch closely for concussion symptoms in players.

Ten days after San Diego Chargers guard Kris Dielman sustained a head injury against the Jets and later suffered a seizure on the team's flight home from New York, the league's injury and safety panel issued the directive Wednesday.

“Our game officials will receive concussion awareness training and will remain alert to possible concussions during games,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “If an official believes a player may have suffered a concussion, he should take appropriate steps to alert the team and get medical attention for the player.”

Dielman was concussed with approximately 12 minutes remaining in the Oct. 23 game, after which he struggled to maintain balance. He finished the game despite the head injury and was not assessed until after the loss to New York.

The Chargers did not mention any injuries following the game and only announced Dielman's injury shortly before the team boarded a plane for San Diego.

Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure near the end of the charter flight, although he was cleared of all long-term complications surrounding the concussion and seizure.

The Chargers came under scrutiny for how they handled Dielman's injury, but coach Norv Turner said at the time he believed the team dealt with the situation as best it could.

“Everything was handled extremely well,” Turner said. “All the proper precautions were taken.

“Kris was evaluated when we landed and all the tests were excellent. We're fortunate, he's fortunate and we're moving on.”

Dielman never came out of the game despite intermittent signs of struggle, although he performed well as a blocker. The Chargers said they never saw a reason to evaluate their Pro Bowl left guard.

Dielman sat out Monday night's loss at Kansas City.

Sports Matter To The Nation, But Hockey Matters The Most

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Roy MacGregor

(Nov 6, 2011) There are times when Canada feels like a one-sport

So dominant is
hockey in the national conscience that, at an Order-of-Canada ceremony held at Rideau Hall on Friday, so much fuss was made over the two hockey stars being honoured - community-conscious Trevor Linden and three-time Olympic champion Hayley Wickenheiser - that it seemed there might a fourth level to the three-tier national honours system reserved only for those who can skate.

While attendees crowded about the two deserving recipient for autographs and photographs, brilliant scientists, generous philanthropists, accomplished artists and one other gifted athlete - four-time Olympian Tricia Smith, winner of a silver medal in rowing and senior vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Committee - had to make do with family pictures and the well wishes of other recipients.

Such is the power of the national sport. (There are two, officially, but the hold of lacrosse, a wonderful game, on the national psyche compared to hockey is roughly the equivalent of the Green Party's hold on Parliament.) Hockey is so dominant, in fact, that it almost squashed all other sports in the country when it came to having a special place in which to honour the stars of the various games Canadians play.

At one point, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame shared quarters at Toronto's Exhibition Place with the far more popular Hockey Hall of Fame. When the Hockey Hall of Fame left for its own downtown quarters in the early 1990s, the second hall foundered to a point where it virtually disappeared.

"We became the orphan," says Roger Jackson, the 1964 Olympic gold medal rower who ran the successful Own the Podium program at the 2010 Winter Games and is today chair of the reborn Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Efforts were made to find a new home, but they failed. The hall found the "perfect location" in the old Ottawa railway station, only to have the government of the day change its mind and decide to keep the building operating as a conference centre. By 2006, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame was an embarrassment, existing only as a web site and in storage.

Jackson was asked by then Senator Trevor Eyton if he could help "find a solution." They put the Sports Hall of Fame out for proposals, nine cities made pitches and in 2008 it was awarded to Calgary. On Canada Day 2011, the new $30-million building opened at Canada Olympic Park, fully financed and, according to Jackson, $112,000 under budget. A $20-million endowment fund to cover operating costs is, he says, well on its way to completion.

Tuesday night at Calgary's TELUS Convention Centre six new athletes will be inducted - football star Lui Passaglia, paralympian Lauren Woolstencroft, soccer player Andrea Neil, triathlete Peter Reid, IOC member Dick Pound and, of course, a hockey star in Raymond Bourque - bringing the total number of inductees to 520, representing some 60 sports.

The new hall is, by early accounts, a hit. It opens with a 14-minute film that captures the emotional highs of all Canadian sport. "People come out of it just trembling," Jackson says. Visitors pass by statues of eight iconic sports heroes - from Wayne Gretzky to Herman (Jackrabbit) Smith-Johannsen - and visit a dozen galleries and 50 interactive exhibits.

Hockey, of course, is represented, from early community teams (Kenora, Dawson City, etc.) to Paul Henderson, the hero of the 1972 Summit Series who, for reasons that no one comprehends, is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

But hockey here is only a portion, one sport among five dozen sports. There are exhibits paying tribute to diver Sylvie Bernier, skier Ken Read and the other Crazy Canucks, cyclist Clara Hughes, speed skaters Gaetan Boucher and Catriona Le May Doan, curler Sandra Schmirler, paralympic star Chantal Peticlerc, swimmer Alex Baumann, inspirational runner Terry Fox and even a horse, Northern Dancer.

"They all hold their own," Jackson says.

"They all tell us that sport does matter to us as Canadians - and finally, we have this important tool in which to honour those athletes who make sport matter so much."

Grey Cup A Long Way Off For Alouettes

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Matthew Sekeres

(Nov 6, 2011) The
Montreal Alouettes entered the 2011 season with eyes on a third consecutive Grey Cup victory, which would make them the greatest CFL dynasty in 30 years.

As they enter the playoffs, that goal seems so far away.

The Alouettes limp into the East Division semi-final next Sunday as losers of three straight games, including a 43-1 obliteration at the hands of the B.C. Lions Saturday. Montreal had an opportunity to earn first place in the division for a fourth straight year, but was manhandled on both sides of the ball and put forth a performance that will go on the franchise's wall of shame.

The two-time defending champions can become the first three-time winner since the Edmonton Eskimos took five consecutive Grey Cups from 1978 to 1982, but the Alouettes haven't been this vulnerable in a decade.

"We've got to get our act together," quarterback Anthony Calvillo said Saturday in the visitors' locker room at B.C. Place Stadium. "The one thing I don't like is how we played tonight. But we're going to have to get over it. You have no choice. You have to be mentally strong and get past what just happened."

Head coach Marc Trestman called the loss the worst of his three-year tenure in Montreal, and on several occasions, Calvillo used the word "embarrassing."

Montreal plays host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semi-final at Olympic Stadium. The road to another Grey Cup involves a victory in that game, and one more at Winnipeg's Canada Inns Stadium.

The Blue Bombers received a gift from the Alouettes after losing 30-24 to the Calgary Stampeders Saturday. That set up a scenario where the Alouettes could have bumped the Bombers to second place with a victory in Vancouver.

But handed a third shot to win the division in the last three weeks, Montreal wasn't close. Its loss gives Winnipeg a free pass through semi-final weekend, and it gives quarterback Buck Pierce a week off to rest his sprained right knee.

"A team collapse," Alouettes guard Scott Flory said when asked to characterize the effort given the first-place stakes. "We seem to want to make life difficult on ourselves. We get a home game against Hamilton and that's our light right now, but we have to go home and think about this one really hard."

Montreal hasn't lost three straight games to close a season since 2001, when a veteran team staged a mutiny against old-school coach Rod Rust and dropped eight consecutive games after beginning the season 9-2. No such dissension is apparent this year, but the Alouettes are not without their issues.

They are playing without four starters in the secondary - safety Étienne Boulay, halfback Jerald Brown, cornerbacks Dwight Anderson and Mark Estelle. Left tackle Josh Bourke, Calvillo's blind-side protector, is also missing and that was evident as the Lions harassed football's career leading passer, sacking him four times and holding him to 63 yards passing.

Of the injured quintet, only Brown has a chance to return before the 99th Grey Cup game on Nov. 27.

Running back Brandon Whitaker and slotback S.J. Green also suffered injuries against the Lions, although both returned to the game. The Alouettes produced just eight first downs and 146 yards of net offence, while allowing the Lions to romp for 477 yards and four passing touchdowns.

The game was over by halftime with the Lions holding a 24-1 lead, and B.C. scored 43 unanswered points after surrendering a punt single on Montreal's opening possession.

NBA Players Reject Proposed Deal

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press

(Nov. 08, 2011) Union president Derek Fisher says his orders from
NBA players are clear: No deal.

"The current offer on the table from the NBA is one that we cannot accept," he said Tuesday.

Instead, the players said they will ask for another meeting with the owners before commissioner David Stern's Wednesday afternoon deadline.

Stern has said that if the players don't take the current deal by then, the league's next offer will be much worse.

The players insisted they will not be forced into taking a bad deal by an ultimatum.

"The players are saying that we understand their position, but unfortunately we're not intimidated by that," union executive director Billy Hunter said.

The league's current proposal calls for players to receive between 49 per cent and 51 per cent of basketball-related income, though players argue it would be nearly impossible to get above 50.2 per cent.

If they don't agree to it by 5 p.m. Wednesday, the next offer will call for salary rollbacks, a 53-47 revenue split in the owners' favour and essentially a hard salary cap.

And, Hunter said he heard, games cancelled through Christmas.

Players seem willing to negotiate further on the revenue split if they get some concessions on the salary cap system. Without them, Fisher said "we don't see a way of getting a deal done between now and end of business" Wednesday.

The union called the meeting after Stern issued his ultimatum early Sunday morning. Fisher said 43 players, including superstars Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin, attended the meeting and that 29 of the 30 teams were represented.


Pat Hentgen Steps Down As Blue Jays Bullpen Coach

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 07, 2011) The Toronto Blue Jays promoted Pete Walker to bullpen
coach Monday to replace Pat Hentgen, who stepped down from the post for family reasons. Hentgen, a former Cy Young award winner with Toronto, will remain with the organization as a special assistant. Last season, the 42-year-old Walker served as the pitching coach for double-A New Hampshire, which won the Eastern League title. Walker played for five teams over eight major-league seasons, including two stints with Toronto (2002-’03, 2005-’06). The right-handed reliever posted a 20-14 record and 4.48 earned-run average in 144 career games.