20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                     (416) 677-5883


November 17, 2011

I had the great opportunity, thanks to my friends at Universal Music
Canada, to meet Drake, get his new CD and an autograph at HMV's Queen Street West location this week!  Fans who won a Drake contest waited hours in the rain on Monday, some having slept there from late on Sunday night, for the chance to meet Drake.  Check out some exclusive photos in my PHOTO GALLERY!  I love his newest release, Take Care, the follow-up to his debut CD, Thank Me Later.  All you Drake fans out there, go and get your own copy or download today! Check out all the scoop on Drake and Take Care under TOP STORIES.

You've got one last opportunity to WIN TICKETS to The Wailers on Saturday night If you can tell me the Canadian R&B artist also performing at the concert, you could be a winner.  Enter the contest HERE, but don't forget to leave your full name and your preferred email address.  The answer is under HOT EVENTS!

AroniAwards Gala, to be held on December 3rd, celebrates the unsung heroes of our community - what a cool reason to have a great evening out.  This night is always a top-shelf event, check out the many options for tickets or donations.  Get the details under HOT EVENTS!

This week's news features the fantastic news that we will soon be hearing more music from
Glenn Lewis; the shocking news of the murder of Montreal promoter Matthew Dutch Garner; and details on how you can make contributions to Heavy D and his daughter, Xea. Check it out under TOP STORIES.

Remember that you can simply click on any photo or headline and get to your entertainment news instantly.
OR you can simply click HERE for all the articles.  


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/


Glenn Lewis Joins Snoop Dogg, Coldplay & Katy Perry at EMI

Source:  Singersroom News

(Nov 10, 2011) Since the release of his debut album 'World Outside My Window' in 2003, Glenn Lewis has been plagued with several obstacles, preventing him from releasing his sophomore follow-up.  During that time, he signed a recording contract with Epic Records and Underdog Entertainment but attempts at releasing a new LP never saw the light of day.

Fast-forward to present day, Lewis has finally landed a solid deal at EMI, the home of Katy Perry, Coldplay and Snoop Dogg.

Excited over his new business situation Lewis stated, "A big thanks to Chris Schwartz & the IAMP group & Nova music group. As of today, I'm an EMI recording artist! See you in 2012!!!" The start of his celebration cut his tweets short adding, "I wanna say thanks to everyone individually but I'm fighting a hangover. I’ll holla. haha."

Earlier this year, Lewis' name started to buzz when a record entitled "Good One" leaked online. The track proved that even with several delays in releasing new music, fans still wanted to hear the "Don't You Forget It" hitmaker.

Glad to see Lewis is back!

Drake Rules The Day As Fans Wait All Night

Source: www.thestar.com - By Paul Irish Staff reporter

(Nov 14, 2011) They’ll do anything to get a chance to see Drake . . . even if it means getting up in the wee hours of the morning, skipping school or calling in sick at work.

The Toronto hip-hop artist — currently at the top of his game with a huge global following, pending tomorrow’s official release of his second album, Take Care — was at the HMV store on Queen St. W. yesterday signing photographs and CDs.

So were about 300 avid fans who said they wouldn’t miss a chance at seeing their hero.

“I’m not supposed to be here,” said a teenage girl, from Scarborough, who said she was playing hooky. “But I don’t care. I’m a pretty good student so I feel I can do this. Drake is so fantastic and this might be my only chance to see him.”

Dianna Pena, 17, from Toronto, said Drake is an incredible role model and that he has inspired her.

“He started off as an actor (on TV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation) and now he’s this fantastic hip hop artist,” she said. “He’s showing us all that anything is possible.”

John Fabra, 18, from Toronto said he has followed the career of Drake
since he first started listening to music and said the sound of the new album is incredible.

“I love, love, love it,” he said. “Meeting him today is just going to be something pretty special, something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Most of the crowd — composed mainly of teenagers — were proud that he’s from Toronto and that he makes a point of bringing it up in music videos and interviews.

The lineup was orderly — for the most part — but at about 9:15 a.m. the crowd surged as the doors were open and some people lost their places.

Laura Coulson, a mother who was there with her young daughter, said there was a period when it was pretty chaotic and that she was worried.

“There were a couple of girls swinging at each other for a while,” she said. “It was a bit nuts for a little while.”

A private security force was present but police on bikes appeared before noon to keep the fans off the street.

The new album, Take Care, was set to be released Tuesday but was leaked last week.

Hip Hop Promoter Victim Of St. Henri Fire

Source:  By Monique Muise, The Gazette

(Nov 13, 2011) MONTREAL — A prominent concert promoter known for bringing both big names and relatively unknown acts to stages across Montreal was one of the victims in a double homicide in St. Henri Friday night.

Matthew Dutch Garner, 29, was identified Saturday morning by several media outlets and numerous people in Montreal’s hip hop community.

Police are not releasing the names of the two men who died following a fire in an apartment near the corner of St. Rémi and Dagenais Sts., saying only that one man burned to death in the dwelling, and a second died later in a hospital after escaping the fire. Investigators are treating the deaths as the 32nd and 33rd homicides of 2011.

The incident began around 5:30 p.m., when police responded to reports of a conflict in the third-floor unit. Soon after, the apartment went up in flames. Witnesses told police that the two victims were actually lit on fire, and that several people fled the scene.

Investigators are working under the assumption that the men were targeted. One of them was known to police.

“We don’t know the exact number of suspects … and we do not have descriptions for the suspects at this time,” said Montreal police Constable Anie Lemieux.

Someone had placed a bunch of red roses at the door of the building on Saturday, and broken glass littered the sidewalk nearby.

A statement appeared early in the day on the webpage of Montreal promotional company Long Life Productions, which specializes in hip hop music, confirming that Garner had died on Friday night.

“Matt Dutch Garner was Montreal’s biggest promoter of this city’s talent and shows,” read the statement. “He opened the doors for the world to see (the) Montreal scene. His life was taken last night and left the city in a state of shock.”

Several photos of Garner appear alongside the message, including one that shows him posing with American rapper and record producer Snoop Dogg.

Garner’s own promotional company was Escape Entertainment, which he ran with a partner identified as Sebastien LaBerge.

Moe Arora, a local music entrepreneur and close friend of both Garner and LaBerge, confirmed that Laberge was at home on Saturday and was physically fine, but “still working through it.”

Arora added that he spoke to Garner early Friday afternoon, just hours before his death, and he seemed “completely normal.” The two had even made plans to meet up on Saturday to discuss an upcoming video shoot.

“He was an incredibly smart guy, and had one of the greatest work ethics when it comes to entertainment,” Arora said. “In the entertainment industry, people have big dreams but they don’t really put in a lot of work. With Matt, he had a great work ethic. He just knew how to make things happen.”

Garner’s family lives mostly out west, Arora said, but he did have a girlfriend in Montreal and had lived here for many years. He had no idea how his friend could have ended up the target of a seemingly well-organized murder plot.

“No one saw this coming, obviously, but the weird thing that a few of us are trying to figure out is that on his Facebook and on his Twitter feed, it seems like some of his last words were somewhat prophetic,” he said. “One of his last statuses on Facebook was, ‘When you’re gone, will they remember?’ and the one after that he said, ‘Is today going to be that day? 11-11-11.’ ”

It's the second time this year that Montreal's hip hop community is mourning one of its own. Friday was also the nine-month anniversary of the death of revered local musician Bad News Brown (Paul Frappier), who was beaten and shot to death in Little Burgundy.

According to legendary Montreal hip hop promoter Rickey D (a.k.a. Ricardo Daley), Garner specialized in promoting musicians who were just breaking onto the scene, but his name was also attached to some big-name acts.

“I didn’t really know him personally,” Daley said. “But I always got a great spirit from him, and he was always genuine and nice. I was surprised and shocked when I got the information this morning. He brought quality shows to the city … but sometimes you just don’t know what’s going on.”

Escape Entertainment’s latest show, featuring Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah, is scheduled for Nov. 27 at Club Soda. The company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed contained no mention of Garner’s death on Saturday morning, but Garner’s own Facebook wall was filled with tributes from friends.

“He wasn’t as well-known as a guy like Bad News Brown, who was an entertainer,” Daley said. “This guy was behind the scenes, working hard and perfecting his craft.”

“It’s a major, major loss," Arora said, "because anything that happened in the Montreal scene in terms of hip hop pretty much came through Matt."

No one who spoke to The Gazette on Saturday was able to confirm the identity of the second victim. Investigators from the Montreal police major crimes division are now trying to determine if the fire was intentional. One of the theories is that the incident was linked to illegal drugs, police said.

Police are asking anyone with information relating to the fire and the two deaths to contact them on their confidential Info-Crime tip line at 514-393-1133.

Heavy D’s Family Issues Statement Regarding His Death: His ‘Bear Hugs’ Will Be Missed

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 14, 2011) *Dwight Errington Myers, better known to the world as
Heavy D, is gone from this world and his family, in their hour of grief, via publicist Rachel Noerdlinger, has released a statement conveying their feelings about his passing and the loss they’re feeling.

The Myers family remembers their son as having “a heart of gold” and is ‘bear hugs’ will be missed.

Hev had great love for his family and friends; he was a kind and giving spirit who extended and shared himself with everyone who crossed his path. He had a heart of gold, was approachable, very personable and gave of himself willingly and unconditionally. Though Hev will most notably be remembered for his work both behind-the-scenes and in the forefront, he will always be remembered by us as a generous soul who remained humble and unselfish till his final days.

Out of all Hev’s successes and accomplishments, in his eyes, his most important triumph was that of becoming a father.  Hev’s love for his daughter Xea was profound–she was the center of his life, his heart, his soul. He often said “I cannot live without her and that she embodied every phenomenal attribute that he brought to this world”.

The name and the success of Heavy D will always be synonymous with music forever. He never compromised his values and artistry, and encouraged his peers to do the same.  To us, Hev was the one who made us laugh, cry, sing, dance and turn a frown upside down. As a family, we are devastated by Hev’s passing but through our faith in God and support from family, friends and fans-we are comforted, blessed and will remain strong.

His “bear hugs” are going to be deeply missed.

-The Myers Family

In lieu of flowers the family is requesting that donations be made to the Heavy D and Xea Myers Fund:

C/O JP Morgan Chase
726 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10085

Checks payable to: The Heavy D and Xea Myers Fund
Heavy D Information Line: 212-381-2037
Website: www.rememberheavyd.com


Kashmiri Rapper’s Fight Against Violence

Source: www.thestar.com - Rick Westhead

(Nov 13, 2011) Roushan Ilhani, a 21-year-old business administration
student at Islamia College, is writing a rap he calls “Homecoming.”

It’s a tale of three Kashmiris: a 16-year-old who has returned from Pakistan, where he trained as a militant; a teenager wrongfully jailed; and a mother of two sons — one in jail and the other in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

In this stretch of Himalayan mountain ranges and lush valleys, Ilhani, known as
MC Kash, uses his music to protest the violence that has scarred his town.

“Everyone living in this city has woken up at night to the sound of screams,” he said.

“Everyone has seen a young person in a coffin being carried through the streets, with their mother walking next to him beating her chest.”

India and Pakistan both control part of Kashmir and each have claimed the region in its entirety since Partition in 1947. The violence has ebbed and flowed.

In a string of confrontations last summer, protesters pelted Indian soldiers and security officers with stones. At least 107 civilians were killed.

Ilhani retreated to a recording studio and in September 2010 released “I Protest.”

“I protest against the things you’ve done,” he raps. “I protest for a mother who’s lost her son. I protest, I’ll throw stones and never run, I protest until my freedom has come.”

The song was downloaded more than 10,000 times and police raided the studio where Ilhani recorded it.

“I don’t think he has a good voice, but I love his message,” said 16-year-old Huzaif Afrogh. “He’s got a lot of feeling at least in his tunes and I don’t know anyone else who’s singing about Kashmir like that.”

Ilhani, his black hair cut short, dresses like a rapper. On a recent afternoon in Srinagar, he wore baggy black jeans and a long-sleeved shirt underneath an oversized T-shirt. As he ambled past a Jammu and Kashmir state police station, his head bobbed rhythmically.

He said he discovered rap when he discovered Eminem.

“I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing in his music. He was cursing out his dad, his mom, everyone. He could just go crazy.”

Ilhani and a friend began recording their raps on a personal computer. Eventually, Ilhani asked his father, a family physician, to help pay for a recording session, which cost $20 an hour.

Last year, Ilhani’s friend Inayat Khan was walking home from school and ended up in the middle of a confrontation between protestors and security forces. Khan was shot in the thigh.

“Then a police vehicle ran over him. And then they stomped on him,” Ilhani says. “In Islam, we have a custom where we wash a body before it’s buried and I remember you could see the big purple outline of a boot on his chest.”

Right now, it’s quiet in Srinagar. Houseboat owners on Dal Lake say tourists are cautiously returning. Street vendors selling apples, saffron and pineapples say they are doing a brisk business.

Ilhani is back in the recording studio.

“I’m expressing myself, but my responsibility is not to incite people to go pick up stones and go into the streets. We have martyrs. We don’t need more.”

Rick Westhead is the Star’s South Asia correspondent.

Inside Comedian Jon Lajoie Is A Pop Star Trying To Get Out

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Nov 13, 2011) His music is comedy to our ears, but is there a pop star
inside comedian Jon Lajoie waiting to get out? The Montrealer, who stars in FX Network TV's The League and is popular for his coarse songs and videos, is currently on a tour of theatres across Canada. He spoke to the Globe from the road, about flatulence, melodic ambition and unfunny Fleet Foxes.

You're known for your YouTube music parodies, so I'm wondering what your live shows entail.

I'm not necessarily a stand-up comedian. I haven't worked those muscles in a very long time. But I do some stand-up, and some sketch material. I have videos that are exclusive to the show. I have a PowerPoint presentation on how to make it as an actor in Hollywood. And I sing a lot of songs.

So, there's a reason to come out and see you, and not just stay home and watch you on the computer?

My worst nightmare would be standing on stage, reproducing the videos, and having the audience walk away thinking "that was nice, but I could have just as easily watched the videos." I wanted it to be a whole live experience.

Are you a frustrated musician?

In my early and mid-20s I was in a band for about five years. We worked hard, rehearsed all the time and wrote hundreds of songs - and played for four or five people in empty bars. I loved it though, and I still write serious music. Now I'm comedian Jon, which is great. But at the same time, there's a side of me, on stage in front of an audience with my guitar, when I close my eyes and pretend I'm singing different lyrics.

You obviously have access to professional recording equipment. Why not lay something down?

My father just came to see my show for the first time ever. Bless his heart, he's a fairly Christian man, and he's very supportive of what I do. But his one thing is that he can't wait for me to play similar songs, just with different lyrics. So, I keep that in mind. I don't know how long I can continue to write songs about my penis.

Well, the Montreal music scene is pretty crowded at the moment, with Arcade Fire and all the rest. Maybe stick with the penis for a few years, until there's more room?

I was at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee, where I got to see Arcade Fire perform from the side of the stage, in front of 100,000 people. Standing there, I realized "Oh, yeah, that's what I want to do, but can't do." Win [Butler] and his bunch do what you do really well. I'll just listen to them instead, and make fart jokes from the sidelines.

Are there any bands or artists that you like that have a humorous side to them?

I recently saw Fleet Foxes at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. It was magical. But all of their jokes were terrible. They were so bad I was almost embarrassed for them. So, I thought: "You know what? You guys do the music, I'll do the funny, and let's try to not get in each other's way."

Jon Lajoie plays Waterloo, Ont., on Nov. 14; North Bay, Ont., Nov. 17; Winnipeg Nov. 20; Saskatoon Nov. 22; Calgary Nov. 24; Red Deer, Alta., Nov. 25; Edmonton, Nov. 26; Kelowna, B.C., Nov. 28; Vancouver, Nov. 29; Nanaimo, B.C., Nov. 30; Victoria, Dec. 1.

Lang Lang The Graffiti Artist

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
With pianist Lang Lang. Peter Oundjian, conductor. Repeats Thursday. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-593-7769 ( www.tso.ca)

(Nov 9, 2011) The world’s most popular classical musician arrived in
Toronto on Wednesday night for a two-week stay, and given the enthusiastic reception he received from a full house at Roy Thomson Hall it promises to be a happy visit.

The performance was far from ordinary — in good ways and bad. But that’s part of
Lang Lang’s special appeal.

The charismatic 29-year-old Chinese pianist is on a tireless one-man crusade to make art music hip and current. He’s in town to perform all five of Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano concertos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as spend nearly every day engaged in activities and concerts involving young people.

Wednesday night’s concert featured an elegant early 19th century pairing of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Felix Mendelssohn’s slightly later Symphony No. 4. Opening the evening was Ice Path, an Asian-infused symphonic piece by Toronto-based composer Alice Ping Yee Ho.

For this pair of ears, the most beautiful moments of the evening belonged to music director Peter Oundjian and the orchestra. The maestro executed all three pieces with uncommon poise and grace, making the TSO sound as balanced, precise and burnished as the finest orchestras Lang would ever have the pleasure to join.

Mendelssohn’s sunny symphony was particularly light-filled, as Oundjian allowed the score to breathe, while underlining the composer’s affinity with the structures of Baroque-era master J.S. Bach.

Ho’s piece, which dates from 1994, is filled with references to traditional Chinese instrumental sounds and textures. It builds neatly on a simple, chant-like theme, but is so episodic in its shifts of mood, rhythm and tempo that it sounds more like a film soundtrack than a stand-alone concert piece.

Lang, at his finest, was a beacon of crisply articulated technique, sharply defined phrasing and dramatic contrasts. But he tends to wander off into his own world far too often.

When left to his own devices, Lang became a musical graffiti artist, spraying random tags all over Beethoven’s original composition in garish colours that jolted sharply against the otherwise poised music.

Then there was the cadenza in the first movement, a pause in the orchestra’s playing designed to give the pianist a few moments of limelight. Here, Lang took off and wandered away, spritzing the hall with all manner of modulations, runs and trills at extreme length.

At least it wasn’t dull — and that’s why his fans love him so.

Note that Thursday night’s program replaces Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with No. 3.

Real Soul. Real Music. Real Love. – Where it All Begins for Lalah Hathaway

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Angela Nichelle

(Nov 14, 2011) *
Lalah Hathaway’s “Where it all Begins” is a musical love letter.

It pays homage to an immeasurably talented father and nods sweetly to an equally talented, loving and resilient mother. It is a deeply passionate conversation between the “first daughter of soul” and her devoted admirers who still believe that a soundtrack for real love requires real music.

With enchanting melodies and deep, rich tones, Hathaway’s brand new, highly anticipated album takes us back to a time where authentic music was the only music that mattered. From the evocatively delicious reboot of “I’m Coming Back” featuring Rachelle Ferrell to the R&B dance track “If You Want To”, this album delivers. It’s fresh, hip and downright sexy.

In between giving a powerhouse performance on Sirius Radio’s Heart & Soul with Cayman Kelly and patiently waiting to take the stage at a sold-out concert at the Birchmere  dinner theater (in Northern Virginia), I had a chance to chat with Lalah about her new album, her “private” life and how, with a little help from twitter, she’s finally taking her undeniable place among the musical stars.

Currently on an aggressive tour that has her “spent like spare change”, I asked Lalah how important it was for her fans to experience her live show and musicianship.

“It’s 100% important” says Lalah. “I try to translate what I do onto records but it can never really translate until I do a live record. I think the energy live … I can’t explain what it is but there is a magic live. A little piece of something that somebody gives you can affect the way you say something. It’s a conversation that can’t be had other than in that moment.”

It’s that obvious appreciation for performing that has
kept her fans eagerly awaiting her releases and faithfully attending her shows. “This album feels like a celebration” I tell her.

“It is that,” she responds. “You change and you grow. You wear jeans and t-shirts for a bunch of days and then you decide to put some shoes on. That’s all; I just put some shoes on.”

Lalah is considered to be among a small, elite class of artists with phenomenal talent, a loyal fan base and respectable record sales, but despite a 2010 Grammy nomination and a legendary last name, has somehow managed to stay inches below the mainstream success radar. She speaks candidly about the exposure that’s eluded her for so long.

“I really do want the chance at that really big commercial success,” Lalah confesses. “It doesn’t run my life and has less to do with money and more about exposure. I feel like if a million people could see what I did, maybe half of them would like it or a third”.

Often referred to as one of the most underrated singers by fans, peers and industry heavyweights, Lalah acknowledges their nods of approval, but doesn’t necessarily take ownership of the underrated label.

“I feel that people want me to win,” she states matter-of-factly. “I feel highly rated among people that rate me, but in the same way, I feel like an underdog. It’s interesting to be one of the fastest runners and you can’t get in the race.”

The notion that an artist as profoundly talented as Lalah has to campaign to become a larger part of the entertainment landscape is unbelievable. It’s like trying to sell a million dollars to a poor person – one would think it wouldn’t be that difficult. Yet, even with 21 solid years as an artist, Lalah isn’t complacent when it comes to her promotional grind. No stranger to technology, this self-proclaimed “gadget girl” cites social networking as an invaluable tool to promote her work, connect with fans and keep her finger on the pulse of what’s real in the industry.

“I have more momentum and support than I ever have,” she says while multi-tasking on her iPad. “It’s probably always been there but now I have the tool – social networking tools.” She added “I can see and hear people. I have a different kind of support now.”

With “Where it all Begins” reaching #7 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and back-to-back sold out concerts, the Twitter tweets, Facebook posts and lalahhathaway.com updates are clearly hitting their mark. And self-promotion is not the only goal of this creative quadruple-threat.

“I’m just trying to figure out what all of my other skillsets are. I have a radio show on The Foxxhole on Thursdays,” she mentions casually. Lalah is a radio show host – who knew? I asked how that came about. “I said to my management that I bet I could do that and was given the opportunity to do it,” she explains, “and at first, it was going to be a tool to let people know about the record, but I’m really trying to get good at it. I have the platform to try to help people like myself.”

Lalah mentions that she plays artists like The Foreign Exchange, Rahsaan Patterson, and Arro on her show. “To have these kinds of people on the radio – there’s a huge void in the market right now. Not to begrudge anyone but there’s a whole market for people that want to know what Rachelle Ferrell is doing,” she says. “I want to know what Ledesi is doing. Where’s Caryn Wheeler or Mica Paris? [There’s] a whole market of people looking for that kind of real.” What she describes is the difference between the current definition of love music and a love of real music.

Speaking of love, how does a singer, songwriter, radio show host and Twitter queen keep her private life, well, private? “My private life is my music life. My friends and mom are on the road with me. My life is very much about my career. I’m really trying to do something right now and it’s important.” She considers that for a moment and then adds “I have a piece of me that I keep.”

That small piece aside, Lalah states that she will be making an effort to share more with her fans by shortening the time between album releases.

In the meantime, she has a music hall full of fans waiting for her. Her makeup artist arrives and the backstage pre-show activity picks up as music plays on her iPad.

I return to my seat and immediately notice the energy in the room. It’s what Lalah couldn’t describe earlier in our interview and what I still can’t describe now. But when Lalah takes the stage, she’s greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation before singing the first note. I’m reminded of a quote Lalah states whenever she’s asked about the legacy of where it all began for her.

“My hope is to continue to make timeless art for people … in a way I feel like my dad came here in part so that I could get here and I am here so that he can stay here. I was born for this.”

As Lalah sings, I watch the people in the room — some in tears, and some with hands held high in old-school church fashion and others acknowledging the presence of greatness – swaying to real soul, real music and a real woman.

For more on Lalah Hathaway, visit her website: www.LalahHathaway.com.

Murray McLauchlan : New Tool Yields Tunes

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Nov 15, 2011) A good song can start anywhere, even in a music junk store.  That’s where Canadian folk troubadour Murray McLauchlan found the urge to get back into the studio again, after a 15-year absence and a lot on his mind.

It started, he said, with a visit to a music memorabilia store owned and operated by the young sound engineer who ran the PA for McLachlan’s quartet Lunch at Allen’s at a concert a couple of years back at the Gravenhurst Opera House in north-central Ontario.

“It was a neat place . . . pretty eclectic, not your standard music retail outlet,” said McLachlan, 63, who plays the Young Centre in Toronto on Nov. 19. His new album, the ruminative, minimalist Human Writes, has just been released by True North Records.

“But in the back room, this ancient slot-headed guitar with rusty strings and a wonky neck was hanging on the wall. I took it down, played a few notes, and suddenly I felt like Robert Johnson at the crossroads. It had more mojo than any guitar I’d seen in my life . . . and it had spent the past 45 years under the bed of some local farmer whose father used to play in Nelson Eddy’s pit band.”

McLauchlan bought the guitar on the spot, and with the help of Toronto guitar restorer/luthier John Laroque at Ring Music, tracked down its pedigree.

“Turns out it was a Hensel Artist model, made in 1938, here in Toronto, by a luthier named Arthur Hensel,” explained McLachlan.

“It’s quite rare and very collectible, and I couldn’t put it down. While I was preparing the recording, I couldn’t even think of playing another guitar. It was as if it was haunted. It has such a sweet voice . . . I ended up writing several new songs on it. ”

The Hensel is front-and centre on Human Writes, which was recorded live-off-the-floor with bassists Victor Bateman and Dennis Pendrith, steel guitarist/dobro maestro Burke Carroll, and McLachlan’s son, Duncan, on trombone.

The guitar’s voice is as brittle and resonant as McLachlan’s own subdued tenor, delivering songs that befit their respective ages, songs about coming to terms — with age, with love, with diminishing expectations, with mortality, and, in “The Sunshine and the Shadow,” with war and human greed.

“Everything I do, everything I experience, finds its way into songs eventually,” said McLachlan, who recently returned from his first vacation in Italy with wife, Denise Donlon, the former chief of CBC Radio, recently deposed in an upper-management shuffle.

But until he was coaxed into recording another solo album by True North boss Geoff Kulawick, McLauchlan, the composer of such enduring Canadiana classics as “The Farmer’s Song” and “Down by the Henry Moore,” would have been just as happy to keep his new songs to himself, or let them seep into his solo performances and the repertoire of Lunch at Allen’s, a one-off experiment that has grown over the past 5 or 6 years into something of a Canadian music phenomenon, with three albums under its collective belt and concert bookings through to Christmas, 2012.

“I’d got to the point where I just wasn’t interested in doing any more solo recording,” he said at the Danforth Avenue restaurant where the now famous touring/recording songwriter collective — McLachlan, Ian Thomas, Marc Jordan and Cindy Church — first formed, and after which they named their act.

“I wasn’t shirty or angry … I was just paying attention to a very strong message that the world had passed me by. My last album (Gulliver’s Taxi, 1996) had sunk without a trace, virtually unheard on radio, and I was content to let things lie.

“I’d written and produced a musical (Eddie), and released an album (The Songbook: New Arrivals, 2006) of songs inspired by the great Tin Pan Alley composers of the 1940s and ’50s, hoping some of them would be picked up by new crooners like Michael Bublé . . . and when that was dismissed as the last gasp of a desperate old folksinger trying to reinvent himself, as I knew it would be, along came Lunch at Allen’s, which has kept me quite happy.”

But at folk festival performances over the past couple of years, some of McLachlan’s new songs — several are co-writes with longtime collaborator, Nashville songwriter and road-hardened minstrel Alan Rhody — provoked an encouraging reaction.

“ ‘The Sunshine and the Shadow’ got me into quite a few heated debates with people who thought I was being disrespectful to Canadian troops,” McLauchlan said.

“The truth is I was ticked off at seeing so many kids come back in boxes from what I consider to be a dubious war, and by hearing so much jingoistic bullshit as I traveled around the country.

“And while I think it’s a noble thing to want to serve your country, I hate war, I hate waste, and I hate greed, which I believe is what this war was ultimately about.”

The growing sense that Canada is becoming a place he doesn’t recognize has also motivated the former host of the long-running CBC Radio Canadian roots music program, Swinging on a Star, to start work on a book, he said.

“It’s not a polemic . . . more a Whither Canada?, a look at the country and the changes it’s going through from the perspective of someone who has travelled to every remote corner and has seen as much as I’ve seen.

“Canada’s at a critical juncture in its history, and I think it’s time to take stock,” McLauchlan added.

“A few weeks in Italy has given me a new perspective. I’m really concerned about the development of the North American security perimeter, the alarming erosion of personal rights and freedoms, and how the (federal) government seems intent on pushing us into armament mode and a lock-step with the United States.

“For good or ill, smart or dumb, with a publisher or without one, I have to write it down.”

The Rural Alberta Advantage

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Chandler Levack

(Nov 16, 2011) Who are they? Lead singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff, drummer Paul Banwatt (also of Woodhands) and keyboardist Amy Cole met through a terrible open mike night at the (now defunct) Winchester Arms in Cabbagetown. When they realized that they had group chemistry, they formed the Rural Alberta Advantage in 2005 and released two EPs independently. (Edenloff hails from Edmonton, hence the name.) The band’s breakthrough debut Hometowns was recorded in 2008, and instantly gained traction when music blogs picked up on the band’s poppy yet somber love of prairie rock. Then they toured, seemingly constantly, until they caught the notice of Conor Oberst’s imprint Saddle Creek, who re-released Hometowns again in 2009. This year, the band dropped their follow up Departing, which was longlisted for the Polaris Prize.

What do they sound like?
Well their proverbial comparison is Neutral Milk Hotel, thanks to Edenloff’s equally empathic nasal vocals. But the band really cuts their cloth from a storied tradition of Canadian folk music, wringing deep pastoralism from songs like “The Dethbridge In Lethbridge.” Unafraid to write a whimsical love song readymade for mixtapes (“In the Summertime”), The Rural Alberta Advantage play with stomping Canuckian rock anthems and sparse keyboard arrangements that pack a wallop thanks to their simplicity. On this year’s Departing, the propulsive guitar line of “Stamp” could be an early Strokes-cut until an intense cacophony of harmonization turns the track into something much more tortured and interesting. Live, they function like a well-oiled machine, producing a huge swirling mass of sound and energy.

When can I see them play?
The Rural Alberta Advantage play The Phoenix (410 Sherbourne Street), Thursday Nov. 17. Tickets are $20, and the doors open at 8 p.m.


Carl Thomas Shares New Single ‘Don’t Kiss Me’ on Facebook

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 13, 2011) *Soul balladeer
Carl Thomas is back and in full effect. He’s letting his old fans and curious music listeners know he is still around. The artist, in full confidence, is convinced this is what he was meant to do. “I am back because this game will tell the truth on you. If you are meant for it, it won’t allow you to stray away for too long,” he says. Thomas first stepped on the scene in the 90s and blew up as the first R&B singer on Bad Boy Entertainment. His first album in four years, “Conquer,” is making headway and winning the ears of listeners everywhere. And to entice folk, he’s releasing music via social media networking sites including Facebook. Fans will have the chance to preview some of the music if they visit his page and unlock the  track called  ‘Don’t Kiss Me.’ “Conquer” will be released on Dec. 6. Also check out the behind the scenes of Carl Thomas and the new album, here.

VIDEO: Nas Featured on Amy Winehouse Postmortem Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 13, 2011) *In anticipation of the unreleased
Amy Winehouse tracks, two songs have found their way to public ears before the “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” release on Dec. 5. One of the early release songs, “Like Smoke,” is a dynamic collaboration with Nas, originally recorded in 2008 by Salaam Remi. The track (listen to it below) actually hit the airwaves Wednesday night on New York’s Hot 97 radio. The singer’s lyrics were actually recorded a while back but Nas got in the studio recently as a eulogy for the songstress and references the current Occupy Wall Street protests. Another, “Our Day Will Come,” a reggae composition inspired by a 1960s hit by Ruby and the Romantics, was featured on BBC’s Radio 1 on Wednesday as well. The album consists of 12 tracks selected by longtime music producers Remi and Mark Ronson and the singer’s family.


Must See/Hear Music Video: Keith Robinson’s Smoothed Out ‘My Hustle’ (Produced by the RZA)

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 10, 2011) *Actor and singer/songwriter
Keith Robinson (“Dream Girls,” “Dear John,” “35 and Ticking”) brings another captivating musical performance to light with the next single off of his forthcoming album that showcases the struggles artists’ go through to reach their dreams. The smoothed out ditty is called, “My Hustle.” It’s produced by The RZA from Wu-Tang Clan and “Kill Bill” fame. The equally seductive clip is directed by young emerging director Kevin “KJ” Johnson who teamed with DP Jimmy Mehiel. Keith portrays all the characters and the message is that every man has a Hustle, no matter what his status is in life is. Enjoy. Look for Keith’s new CD on iTunes entitled “Same Rules” in early 2012.

Twitter: @Keithsings


Audio: Busta Rhymes Releases Heavy D Tribute Song

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 10, 2011) *
Busta Rhymes is honoring the memory of fellow rapper Heavy D with a new song. Titled “You Ain’t Gotta Wait Till I’m Gone (Heavy D Tribute),” the track mourns the loss of his friend and colleague, who died Tuesday after neighbors found him lying unconscious outside his condo in Beverly Hills. At the start of the track, Rhymes says, “I don’t want y’all to wait to celebrate my life when I’m gone. I want you to celebrate my life when I’m here. Heavy D, you inspired me my whole life; (it’s) amazing your last tweet said, ‘Be Inspired.’ Well you inspired this one playboy. Rest in peace.” [Scroll down to listen.] A post mortem examination was carried out on Wednesday on Heavy D, and officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before determining the cause of death.


Video: Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks on their Roles in ‘Sparkle’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 12, 2011) *As you know,
Whitney Houston has joined the cast of “Sparkle.” In the remake of the 1976 classic film, she’s playing the mother of Jordin Sparks who plays Sparkle, the lead character. Recently Houston and Sparks sat down with Entertainment Tonight to talk about their involvement in the production. Check it out:


Sting Launches Free iPad App

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mesfin Fekadu

(Nov 15, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Sting has launched an app for the iPad, and he’s not charging for it. The singer introduced STING 25 in honour of his 25-year solo career at the Apple Store in New York’s Upper West Side on Monday. The “Appumentary” is a digital documentary of Sting’s career. It features over four hours of music videos, concert footage, interviews and more. Sting says he’s releasing it for free “because we don’t know how much it’s worth.” The app also has video from Sting’s 60th birthday party-concert last month at New York’s Beacon Theatre, which featured performances with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga. At Monday’s event, Sting performed the song Fragile, dedicating it to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and saying, “In some way he’s created our future.”

Hear Rihanna's New Album Talk That Talk

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(November 16, 2011) Rihanna's sixth album Talk That Talk is out next week, but as pretty much the most reliable hitmaker around these days, she garners a lot of attention from fans who can't even wait that long. (The success of the opening singles "We Found Love" and "You Da One" is also stoking the fire.) So here, via the blog Pretty Much Amazing, is the whole thing streaming ... so far I'm liking that fuzzy low end of "Roc Me Out" in particular.

Nickelback Streams New Album For Free On Itunes

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 16, 2011) Living up to its name, Nickelback’s Here and Now is being made available right away, a week before its official scheduled release. The hard-rock band’s seventh album is streaming for free on iTunes ahead of its release to stores on Monday. Produced by the band and recorded at Mountain View Studios in Vancouver, Here and Now is the follow-up to the band’s 2008 smash Dark Horse. That album went platinum six times in Canada and hauled home several Juno Awards, including album of the year. The Hanna, Alta., rockers will also perform at halftime of the 99th Grey Cup, which will be held Nov. 27 in Vancouver. And the band will also perform at an NFL matchup between the Detroit Lions and visiting Green Bay Packers on Nov. 24, despite the efforts of local fans who crafted a petition to keep the divisive Canadian band away.

::FILM NEWS::    

Projections: From Kung Fu To Karaoke At Reel Asian

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson

(Nov 10, 2011) REEL ASIAN: If your idea of a great night out at the
movies includes a chance to belt out “Single Ladies,” then you’re definitely in luck this weekend. Revelers at Reel Asian — whose 15th anniversary edition continues to Nov. 19 — can take a break from the fest’s slate of screenings at a free karaoke bash on Nov. 12 at the Central (603 Markham St.).

The party follows the Canadian premiere of Jump Ashin!, a new drama starring Eddie Peng, the Taiwanese-born and B.C.-bred actor and singer. He plays Ashin, an aspiring gymnast whose dreams of glory are imperiled by his loyalty to a trouble-prone pal named Pickle. A clunky but compelling blend of Billy Elliot and Mean Streets, the movie is enlivened by action scenes involving the sort of gymnastics-oriented martial arts rarely seen since the ’80s cult classic Gymkata. It plays 7:45 p.m. at the Royal.

Among the other worthy Reel Asian selections at the Royal this weekend are two acclaimed new features from South Korea. Screening Nov. 12 at noon, The Journals of Musan portrays the harsh lives of two North Korean refugees. It’s followed at 2:45 p.m. by Bleak Night, a terse, tough-minded study of adolescent strife. From China comes Buddha Mountain, a drama set in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the province of Sichuan. Reel Asian’s closing night gala, it plays Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.

There will be another chance to party at the closing night gala at Bar Italia on Nov. 13. But that just marks the end of events downtown — Reel Asian then moves up to the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts for screenings on Nov. 18 and 19. One big reason to follow it there is Overheard 2, a crafty corporate thriller involving many of Hong Kong’s top talents, including heartthrob Louis Koo and the writers of the Infernal Affairs trilogy. The movie has its Canadian premiere on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

THREE MORE FESTS: Three more festivals treat viewers to views of the world seldom seen on Toronto screens. First up is the Toronto Portuguese Film Festival, which offers free admission to an array of cinematic and musical events taking place Nov. 11-13 at Casa do Alentejo (1130 Dupont St.). Highlights include Heaven’s Mirror, a documentary about the musical tradition of fado — the Nov. 12 screening is followed by a performance from Portuguese-Canadian singer Paulo Felipe.

The aluCine Toronto Latin Film and Media Arts Festival also begins its program of screenings, performances, installations and workshops celebrating the work of Latin artists living in Canada, Latin America and elsewhere on the globe. Playing Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Ave.), this year’s opening film is Los Extraños Presagios de León Prozak, an experimental animated feature by Colombia’s Carlos Santa.

Then there’s the European Union Film Festival, a showcase of award winners from a continent that needs as much good news as it can get. The fest opens on Nov. 17 with the Polish drama The Winner and continues to Nov. 30 with selections from 23 more countries — they all screen for free at the Royal (608 College St.).

SARAH HARMER GOES TO THE PARK: Sarah Harmer hopes audiences will join her in paying tribute to Canada’s national parks on Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. The singer and eco-activist serves as virtual host for the live satellite broadcast of A Park for All Seasons, a new doc on the country’s natural treasures presented at five Cineplex theatres in the GTA. Really, the only good excuse you could have for missing it is actually visiting one of the parks themselves.

THE FLY: As poignant as it was gruesome, David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of the 1958 creature feature The Fly became the most commercially successful movie of the director’s career. Rue Morgue magazine’s Cinemacabre series celebrates its 25th anniversary with a 35mm screening on Nov. 17 at 9:30 p.m. at the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Ave.).

PROJECTION DOCS: Returning after a run at TIFF Bell Lightbox earlier this year, Nostalgia for the Light is a mesmerizing new work by Chilean master Patricio Guzman that links the tragic history and legacy of his country’s military dictatorship to the celestial fixations of astronomers in the Atacama Desert. A British doc making its Toronto premiere, The Boy Mir surveys 10 years in the life of an Afghan youngster who faces a host of challenges with humour and tenacity. Both films begin runs on Nov. 11 at the Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard St. E.).

PROSECUTOR: As the Argentine lawyer who leads the prosecution team at the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo works to bring perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice. He’s also the subject of Prosecutor, a new NFB doc that screens for free on Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St. W.). After the movie, Moreno-Ocampo participates in a discussion on justice, law and the role of the media — fellow guests include Stephen Lewis.

WAR HORSE FOR VETS: Though Steven Spielberg’s screen adaptation of the stage hit War Horse is not out until Christmas Day, Canadian veterans in Toronto and six other Canadian cities are invited to a sneak preview on Nov. 16. Interested parties can contact their local Royal Canadian Legion branch, call 1-800-263-2853 ext. 4163398 or check out the Facebook page.

BILLY BISHOP FOR REMEMBRANCE DAY: As Canada’s day to honour all those who died in the line of duty, Remembrance Day is a fitting occasion for a special screening of Billy Bishop Goes to War, the new screen version of the Canadian stage classic about the World War I flying ace. The film plays Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Revue Cinema with producers Brad Fox and Sandra Cunningham in attendance. It’s also at the Revue on Nov. 14 and 15.

Videos: Hold On to Your Butts – Samuel L. Jackson’s Most Underrated Roles

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 11, 2011) *Whoa – $7.42 billion dollars in revenue.

Think about that for a second. That’s more than the revenue of Major League Baseball in 2011.
Sam L. Jackson’s  box-office clout isn’t going to decrease any time soon, either – not with roles as Nick Fury in the sure-blockbuster The Avengers and a part in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained coming up in 2012.

Let’s ignore the big roles in XXX and Pulp Fiction and all those unfortunate Star Wars prequels for a second, shall we, and go over some of Mr. Jackson’s most underappreciated roles?

JUNGLE FEVER (1991) – His first true breakout role, as the drug-addicted brother of Flipper Purify (Wesley Snipes) in this underrated Spike Lee film about an interracial romance. Paired up with a then-unknown Halle Berry as a fellow crack addict, Jackson is a charming, terrifying tragic figure.

HARD EIGHT (1996) – The first film of Paul Thomas Anderson (who would go on to do Magnolia, Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood) is a hard-boiled thriller with Jackson stealing the show as a threatening hustler.

EVE’S BAYOU (1997) – Jackson is at his best in this criminally-overlooked drama with tinges of the supernatural, starring as a philandering Louisiana doctor. Watch for a young Jurnee Smollett (the Friday Night Lights star) in her first big role.

THE SUNSET LIMTED (2011) – This HBO production, adapted from a searing play by Cormac McCarthy (The Road author) stars Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones as characters named Black and White, discussing all manner of topics in a New York apartment. There are few things more gripping than seeing these two acting titans rip up the screen.

Pink The Penguin And Brad Pitt’s Shrill Krill

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Nov 15, 2011) As a singer, Brad Pitt made for a shrill krill in Happy Feet 2, a situation that thrilled writer-director George Miller, who was delighted with the superstar’s rusty pipes.

Pitt voices adventure-seeking Will the Krill, who persuades his nervous Nellie pal Bill the Krill (voiced by a tremulous Matt Damon) to break from the swarm and see the rest of the ocean world in Happy Feet 2, the sequel to the 2006 film about a tap-dancing penguin and his singing family and friends. It opens Friday.

Damon is definitely the better singer of the two, showcasing a talent Miller didn’t know the actor possessed on “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.”

“No, I didn’t know he could sing,” Australian Miller said with a chuckle on a brief Toronto stop to promote the sequel to Happy Feet, which earned him an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

“I think I spoke with him and I said, ‘There’s a little bit of singing and you’re not required to be a great singer,’ but he can sing really, really well. Brad Pitt just can’t sing.”

Still, Pitt still does an enthusiastic rendition of “We are the Champions” that proves he’s no shrinking violet, although he shouldn’t plan on headlining a Broadway musical anytime soon.

Miller cast pop singer Pink (billed in the movie as Alecia “P!nk” Moore) as penguin hero Mumble’s mate, Gloria, the role originally voiced by the late Brittany Murphy.

Pink sang over the opening credits in the first Happy Feet and not only has a substantial role in Happy Feet 2 as mother to feisty fledgling Erik, her penguin chick with Happy Feet’s dancing penguin Mumble, she also sings an original song she co-wrote for the film, “Bridge of Light.”

“Alecia Moore, Pink, came in and she’s never done this kind of thing before but she’s someone who puts big demands on herself,” said Miller. To familiarize herself with the process, she came into the studio the day before to watch Damon and Pitt record scenes. The pair insisted on recording their comic bits together, enabling them to adlib.

“It put her at ease when Brad started to sing in front of her — really, really badly,” laughed Miller. “He said to her: ‘This is a no-shame zone.’ It was wonderful. It put her at ease.”

“In this movie there’s a lot of singing required,” Miller added. “When Gloria has to sing to her child (Erik) to calm him and then she does ‘Under Pressure’ at the end amongst all this sound of the elephant seals, it’s challenging.”

Canadians will instantly recognize a new comic character in Happy Feet 2, the egomaniac puffin, The Mighty Sven, voiced by Hank Azaria. Unlike the Atlantic variety familiar to visitors to Newfoundland, Sven is a tufted puffin with flowing blond locks, a native of the north Pacific, including parts of British Columbia — not Scandinavia, where Sven is supposed to hail from.

“He’s a hybrid puffin,” says Miller, who wasn’t aware how much Canadians love their puffins. “I love the vividness and their eyes. They’re sad and they are nature’s cartoon character. I also love the standard (Atlantic) puffin and I couldn’t make up my mind which one to use. Sven is a bit of a freak so we gave him the tufts. He looks like Fabio.”

Miller, who also wrote and directed another kids’ classic, Babe and the sequel Babe: Pig in the City, said he sees some parallels between Erik and Babe, the determined little pig who finds his true calling as a sheep-herding pig. Miller also directed all three Mad Max films, with a fourth, Fury Road, in the works.

He accepts that Happy Feet 2 has some darker moments, especially the aftermath of a confrontation between Mumble and a massive Aussie-voiced elephant seal named Bryan the Beachmaster, which escalates as Erik and Bryan’s kids, the little Weaners, look on.

“You’ve got to remember Bryan starts out being pretty awful and a bit of a bully, but the two little Weaners melt Mumble’s heart and he can’t turn away from that. It’s the first moment where Mumble has to do it the hard way and put himself in jeopardy and it was a way of showing Erik what even an ordinary penguin can do.”

Common - The “Happy Feet Two” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

(Nov 16, 2011) Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn in Chicago on March 13, 1972, Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hop's most poetic and respected lyricists, having garnered multiple Grammy Awards for his first eight albums. Common's ninth, The Dreamer, The Believer, will be released in December by Warner Brothers Records.

In 2004, he partnered with fellow Chicago native and rap music mega-star Kanye West to produce the album BE, which went on to garner four Grammy Award nominations. Three years later, Common released his critically-acclaimed seventh album, Finding Forever, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album Chart and went on to earn him another Grammy. His eighth album, Universal Mind Control, was released in 2008 and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Album.

Common’s film credits include "Smokin’ Aces," "American Gangster," "Wanted," "Terminator Salvation," "Date Night" and "Just Wright." In addition, he is set to co-star opposite Jennifer Garner next year in "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."

On TV, Common enjoys a recurring role on the AMC Network series
"Hell on Wheels." He plays Elam, a freed slave who heads West in search of work on the Transcontinental Railroad in post-Civil War America.

His memoir, One Day It'll All Make Sense, was published in September by Atria Books. He is also the author of several children's books, including The MIRROR and M, its follow-up, I Like You But I Love Me, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and M.E. (Mixed Emotions).

In 2000, Common launched the Common Ground Foundation, with the mission to empower disadvantaged youth in urban communities by mentoring them. Here, he talks about serving as the voice of Seymour in the animated comedy
Happy Feet Two.

Kam Williams: Hey Common, how you been, bro?

Common: Great! Great! How you been, Kam?

Very well, thanks. Let me get right to questions sent in by fans. Judyth Piazza asks: What interested you in playing Seymour?
C: The reason why I really wanted to play Seymour was because Happy Feet Two is a family movie that can touch people of all ages. So, I saw the opportunity to be in the movie and to work with [director] George Miller, who is an incredibly talented visionary, as a great honor and blessing.  

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: What is the acting process like when you’re voicing an animated character? Do you picture the character saying the words?
C: First of all, you start by finding the pulse of the character, because even though it’s animated, it still has a soul. George Miller creates characters who have heart, so you start by finding their essence. Then you bring that essence to the character, and add your imagination.  

Teresa Emerson asks says: You're really branching out between Seymour in Happy Feet 2 and Elam Ferguson in Hell on Wheels on AMC. What surprising role will you be tackling next?
C: God willing, I’ll be doing leading roles in some dramas, comedies and action films. My goal is to develop into a great actor.

Aleesha Houston asks: Have you ever eaten at Harold’s Chicken in Chicago? 
C: Of course, Aleesha! I grew up eating at Harold’s my whole life, specifically, the one that used be at 88th and Stony Island Avenue. 

KW: Aleesha would also like to know, what is your fondest memory of growing up in Chicago?
C: Just enjoying time with my friends, from hanging out with the kids I grew up with, to playing basketball, to riding up and down Lake Shore Drive. Having fun!

Denise Clay asks: When did you know that you had a future as a lyricist and poet?
C: I felt I had a future when I did I Used to Love H.E.R. When that was released, I was like, “Man, I really can do something.” I really felt strong about it. 

Jimmy Bayan says: Common, through your lyrics and your comments, you've seemed to attract a bit of controversy over the years. Being a rapper, in the past some of your lyrics have been flagged controversial. Being a father and a Christian, one could say you're a bit of a mixed bag. I'm trying to get to the essence of who Common is. Tell me how your journey has morphed you into the man you are today.
C: I put God first, and strive to do my best by being a loving human being, recognizing that sometimes I make mistakes and bad choices. But God is my guide and love is the strongest element in the mix, so I try to not judge myself too much, knowing that at the end of the day, my greatest judge will be Jehovah God.

Jimmy has another question: Do you think President Obama has made a good enough effort to create jobs, balance the budget and work with the Republicans in Congress to move this country forward?
C: I think the President is doing his best to create jobs and better situations for the American people. As far as working with Republicans, I believe he’s doing what he can to make that happen.

Felicia Haney says: Do you there’s something hypocritical and patently political about conservatives complaining about you being an invited guest to the White House but being silent about you starring in a children's film?
C: Yeah, their complaining about my being invited to the White House was just me getting caught up in politics. They didn’t even know who I really am.

Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: You participated in the video Yes We Can. Do you think Hip-Hop was a driving force behind Obama's presidential campaign paving the way to the White House? 
C: Yes, I definitely think Hip-Hop was one of the strong forces behind President Obama’s winning the election.

Patricia would also like to know, what message you want the public to take away from your memoir, One Day It'll All Make Sense?
C: I just want people to feel like they can achieve something great in their lives. We all go through rough times, but love is the antidote. You’ve got to dream and just believe in yourself. And if you believe, you will achieve it.

Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: To what do you attribute your ability to maintain your cool in the craziness of show business?
C: I attribute it to God, self-esteem, and knowing your purpose in life. It can’t be based on anything material or external. 

Thanks again for the time, Common, and best of luck with the movie, the TV show and the new album.
C: Thanks, Kam, I appreciate it.

To see a trailer for Happy Feet Two, go HERE.

Twilight Tidbits To Sink Your Teeth Into

Source: www.thestar.com - Andrew Cooper

(Nov 16, 2011) Whether you go to one of the midnight screenings Thursday night of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” or wait until the crowds die down, there are a few things you should know about the movie to make the experience the best possible.

1. Don’t leave the theatre when the closing credits start because there is an additional scene.

2. Pay close attention to all of the guests attending Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) wedding. Author Stephenie Meyer makes a cameo.

3. The film had to be edited to avoid an R rating. Scenes from the honeymoon — where Kristen Stewart got too energetic — were trimmed to reach a PG-13 rating.

4. Because so much of the action takes place in the Cullen’s home, the huge house was actually built on location in Vancouver.

5. Bella’s unique pregnancy causes her to lose a massive amount of weight. Part of the illusion was created by Stewart losing a few pounds, makeup and what director Bill Condon calls a little extra help: computer-generated special effects.

6. It took three years and three months to film the five movies. The last one will hit theatres in November 2012.

J. Edgar: Opening Hoover’s Closet

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

J. Edgar
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts and Judi Dench. Directed by Clint Eastwood. 135 minutes. Opens Nov. 11 at major theatres. PG

(Nov 10, 2011) “Let me tell you something. . .” says title star
Leonardo DiCaprio at the start of J. Edgar, and there at once is the major strength and weakness of Clint Eastwood’s substantial new movie.

J. Edgar, penned by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, tells us many things, possibly too many, about the late J. Edgar Hoover, the secretive FBI director who probed America’s nether regions for 48 years under eight presidents, from 1924-72.

Attentive both to rumour (the cross-dressing and the gay lover) and to historical fact (the crime-busting and the empire building), the film almost overwhelms us with its careful amassing of detail about this fascinating man/monster, whom DiCaprio portrays as a youth unto old age.

J. Edgar nevertheless succeeds in illuminating Hoover, despite the faded hues of Tom Stern’s desaturated colour cinematography and Eastwood’s austere direction and minimalist score. The spotlight is powered largely by the wattage of DiCaprio’s formidable central performance.

Even under the heavy layers of latex and makeup required to convincingly transform his baby cheeks to Hoover’s bulldog jowls, DiCaprio wrings truth out of a cipher. The Hoover of both headline and whispers comes into sharp relief in this Oscar-beckoning performance.

And how he’s grown: DiCaprio’s Hoover is so much more mature and convincing than his Howard Hughes of The Aviator.

The FBI boss is first seen in his Washington office, dictating his memoirs (Untitled FBI Story, a title page blandly reveals) to one of a series of skeptical agents who have been seconded as involuntary typists.

It’s a framing technique employed by Eastwood and Black to efficiently span the decades from 1919, when a youthful Hoover was busting bomb-hurling American Bolsheviks, up to 1972, when he’s on his final case, which amounts to eluding Richard M. Nixon and his Oval Office thugs.

Far from the brooding figure of authority and menace he will grow to become, the younger Hoover is seen as a bumpkin. He’s under the control of his frightfully attentive mother (the reliable Judi Dench), who wants him to remove the perceived stain of his addled father’s failings.

“You will restore our family to greatness,” she tells him, later warning him that greatness includes straightness: “I’d rather have a dead son than a daffodil for a son.”

A librarian by training, Hoover’s idea of showing a girl a good time is to take her to the Library of Congress, to demonstrate his file-organizing skills. It’s here that he makes an embarrassing grab for government typist Helen Gandy (a thoroughly deglammed Naomi Watts), who will resist his attempts at amour but accept his offer to be both his secretary and keeper of his secrets.

Hoover’s clumsiness turns canny by the time he meets his true love: the immaculately attired gentleman Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), whose height the shorter Hoover attempts to approximate by standing on a stealth platform behind his desk. Tolson may be lacking in police credentials, but he’s a loyal (and campy) Sancho Panza to Hoover’s Don Quixote, and loyalty is what counts most to the perpetually suspicious, paranoid and self-aggrandizing Hoover, who tangles with both the high and the low.

Many famous characters walk J. Edgar’s stage, including James Cagney (seen as both gangster and G-man in brief film clips), John F. Kennedy (heard but not seen), Robert F. Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan) and Richard Nixon (Christopher Shyer).

The film’s middle section is given over to the 1932 kidnapping of the infant son of hero aviator Charles Lindbergh (Josh Lucas) and the subsequent trial that shocked a nation. The story is included, perhaps too completely, to show how Hoover exploited the crime to confirm his nascent FBI as a national police authority, one armed with innovative new forensic tools and sweeping new powers of investigation.

By this point deep into J. Edgar, Hoover’s voice of authority begins to tremble. The historical record is questioned and rumour gains credence — Eastwood discreetly suggests how both the cross-dressing kinks and man-loving thrills may have been realized.

As our eyebrows rise along with those of the put-upon FBI typists, faithful Tolson, whose own makeup people should be arrested, delivers the unkindest cut of all. He accuses Hoover of putting his ego ahead of the interests of the country he’s sworn to serve.

It’s a fair cop, officer, but then as we see in J. Edgar, Hoover early on warned against naïve credulity: “Trust no one, not even our fellow agents.”

Good advice for watching this wildly ambitious yet admirable undertaking, which leaves us with no tears, but also a bizarrely melodramatic coda about the power of love.

But with his essential performance, Leonardo DiCaprio gives us something to truly believe in.

Clint Eastwood On J. Edgar And Other Obsessions

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Nov 13, 2011) NEW YORK—Clint Eastwood smiles as he thinks about the kinky obsessions of FBI legend J. Edgar Hoover, the late “man of mystery” who is the subject of J. Edgar, his controversial new film.

Obsessions big and small have long been a fascination of Eastwood. The very first movie he directed, Play Misty for Me, released 40 years ago this week, featured a homicidal stalker: a female fan of Eastwood’s deejay character, who wanted much more than a record spun for her.

The actor/director has played many disturbed and driven characters himself over his six-decade movie career. Stone-faced guys like Insp. Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry), The Man With No Name (A Fistful of Dollars), Josey Wales (The Outlaw Josey Wales), William Munny (Unforgiven) and Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino).

“It’s a theme I find interesting, obviously,” Eastwood tells the Star in an exclusive interview.

“That interpretation of people’s interests, and the misinterpretations that go with becoming obsessive, always just fascinates me.”

Eastwood’s interest is more than just academic. As an international star for most of the past 60 years, he’s had brushes with excessive adoration.

“I guess I’ve had a relationship along the way where somebody was obsessively interested,” muses Eastwood.

“Maybe it was my fault to start with, or something, but who knows? You only deal with in life what your knowledge is at the time. After that, all bets are off.”

Not that long ago, Eastwood seemed ready to retire, even as the applause and Oscar acclaim for his late-career work continue to rise. His many kudos included Best Picture and Best Director wins for his 2005 boxing drama Million Dollar Baby and surprise box-office success for his 2008 avenging oldster saga Gran Torino.

At 81, Eastwood now seems more lively and committed to his filmmaking than ever before.

Sitting in a seat in a private Warner Bros. theatre, following a screening of J. Edgar to the Oscar-minded National Board of Review, he opens up about the obsessions he’s endured over the years, which include more than one case of stalking by overly attentive females.

“I’ve had a couple, but one particularly. She didn’t try homicide, fortunately, but she mimicked a lot of the stuff that (the character) Evelyn Draper does in Play Misty for Me. I even remember her name! How about that!”

With J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, Eastwood explores the shrouded life of one of the biggest obsessives of all: the FBI director who for 48 years reigned as “the most powerful man in the world.” Hoover’s vast arsenal of “G-Men” pursued whatever grudge — criminal, political or sexual — that he had in mind, and Hoover held plenty of grudges.

Hoover also had a tightly guarded inner circle. The film depicts him as a man ruled so firmly by his mother (played by Judi Dench) that he lived with her until her death, when he was in his 40s, and that he mourned her by privately donning her dress and beads.

Hoover is also seen as being enthralled by FBI associate director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), his close friend and rumoured lover. Hoover also had a personal secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), who functioned as his chief keeper of secrets, maintaining his confidential personal files of red-hot revelations.

Hoover’s various vendettas included keeping tabs on the sexual affairs of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, questioning the sexual orientation of Eleanor Roosevelt and destroying the careers of perceived rivals, including FBI Special Agent Melvin Purvis, who orchestrated the shootout that killed gangster John Dillinger.

It’s entirely possible that Hoover, who died in 1972, may also have had his eye on Eastwood at one point, although likely in an approving way. Hoover’s many obsessions included Hollywood: he hobnobbed with stars, he considered himself a fellow celebrity and he used to do FBI testimonials in public service advertisements that preceded screenings.

Eastwood never met Hoover, but as a young actor he would surely have been known to the FBI boss, since he played the cattle-driving cowboy Rowdy Yates on the popular TV series Rawhide from 1959-65.

Hoover might even have been a fan of Dirty Harry. Eastwood’s hit 1971 film about a vigilante San Francisco lawman pleased not only regular Joes — it spawned several sequels — but also cops who hated red tape and bleeding hearts.

“I don’t know if he ever saw (Dirty Harry), but Hoover went outside the norm, as have a lot of characters I’ve played,” says Eastwood, who is dressed for the interview midway between casual and formal: gray jacket, white shirt, red tie, khaki pants and gray Nike running shoes.

“Dirty Harry was always working against the system. I think (Harry) was pro get-the-job-done, which is what makes law enforcement people like that character. It’s that kind of ‘Let’s stop the nonsense and get going’ attitude.”

Harry’s damn-the-torpedoes style would certainly appeal to Hoover, who at one point in J. Edgar whispers to Tolson: “Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe.”

As FBI boss for nearly half of the 20th century, Hoover was feared and/or despised by at least a few of the eight U.S. presidents he served, from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon.

Forever suspicious after reputation-forging battles in his youth with bomb-hurling Commies, gun-waving gangsters and Lindbergh baby-snatching kidnappers, Hoover kept secret files and wiretaps on many people, including the Hollywood stars he loved to hang out with.

Which raises another obsessive question for Eastwood: Is it possible that Hoover had a file on him, too?

“I have no idea!” the actor chuckles.

“I don’t think there’s much on me in any file …” Eastwood adds, pausing again to mull over the possibilities.

Maybe a troublesome girlfriend or two had attracted Hoover’s attention?

“Well, yeah, there were a few chicks along the way, but I don’t think there had been much of this (worthy of FBI attention).”

But whether or not Hoover was interested in Eastwood, the fresh-faced San Francisco kid who would grow up to tell pistol-packing punks to “Make my day” (Sudden Impact) and to “Get off my lawn” (Gran Torino) was certainly transfixed by Hoover.

“I did find him a fascinating character,” Eastwood says.

“And you, of course, hear about all the rumours that we were talking about (during Hoover’s day). But I didn’t know much about him. We didn’t live in the information age we do today.

“Today, he’d be in the tabloids every week. My wife would have been the only one who’d have known anything about him.”

Who needs tabloids when you have Eastwood’s own J. Edgar to pry the lid off the man’s box of secrets?

The film strongly suggests that Hoover was a sexually confused individual whose inseparable friend Tolson was clearly gay.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in Hoover’s era, it would have been tantamount to scandal, as well as highly hypocritical, given Hoover’s penchant for probing the sexual improprieties of other public figures.

J. Edgar also fans the gossip flames by depicting the FBI boss as a mama’s boy who busted crime to please his law-and-order mother.

Eastwood could have gone in an entirely different direction, depicting Hoover as an unalloyed American patriot and hero. J. Edgar shows how Hoover resolutely built the FBI into the crime-fighting colossus it is today, which includes the early use of fingerprint and DNA technology that is so important to modern law enforcement.

But just as Eastwood is disinclined to render judgment on Hoover’s kinkier side, so is he unwilling to heap laurels upon his memory.

Eastwood repeatedly refers to Hoover as “a man of mystery.” He candidly admits that the film doesn’t definitively crack the mystery, but he feels it does address a public desire to know everything about famous people, good and bad.

“I think everyone is wrestling with it: was he a villain or a hero?” Eastwood says of Hoover.

“But I think people like the separation. It might be somebody who they idolized as a heroic person, whether it’s a Medal of Honor winner or somebody you don’t want to necessarily know the weak spots about.

“Then later on in history, people want to start knowing the weak spots, they want to know all about them. And that’s kind of the way we are now.”

Whatever his personal views are of Hoover’s hijinks, Eastwood admits that he’s in awe of a man who decided at age 22 what his career would be and who pursued it with single-minded devotion until his death, forever changing police investigative procedures in the process.

“At 22 years of age, I didn’t know dick. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, what I was going to do, where I was going to end up or what direction to go in. And here’s a guy (Hoover) who picked up on the whole fingerprinting and evidence-gathering techniques he pioneered, or was one of the pioneers of. It made him a very interesting character.

“The fact that he isolated himself, with one pal and one gal, I don’t know whether or not it was a distinct distrust in humanity or knowing that an organization is going to have little subcultures that form as they do, like most companies. He remains a mystery man, but in kind of a good way. Makes you want to think.”

It evidently makes him want to work more, too. Even as he promotes J. Edgar, Eastwood is making arrangements for his next two projects: a remake of A Star is Born, starring Beyoncé (whose current pregnancy has put the project on hold), and a return to acting, playing a baseball scout opposite Sandra Bullock in a drama titled Trouble with the Curve.

Just like his current fascination with J. Edgar Hoover, Eastwood’s work refuses to let him go. He cheerfully admits that he was too hasty to talk about retirement.

But how long can he keep going, or want to?

“Who knows? Maybe I’ll push it until. . .”

Eastwood suddenly hesitates, reluctant to make another prediction.

“You never know,” he continues. “You never say never.”

Margin Call: $Ympathy For The Devil$

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

Margin Call
Starring Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto and Demi Moore. Written and directed by J.C. Chandor. 109 minutes. Opens Nov. 11 at AMC Yonge-Dundas. 14A

(Nov 10, 2011) The boardroom thriller
Margin Call seeks topical thunder by suggesting that wealthy 1 percenters hurt as much as poor 99 percenters when their economic worlds collapse.

Some of them do, anyway. There are hiss-worthy villains in this fast-moving film, which treats the 2008 economic collapse in much the same way Contagion tracked viral spread. But the bad guys are harder to spot and damn than in other money-minded dramas.

Set over two tense days and one very long night at a Wall Street investment firm very like the late Lehman Brothers, it’s a realistic take on what happens when high-flying money speculators suddenly hit ground. It’s also a great calling card for J.C. Chandor, the writer/director making his feature debut.

As with most such tales, Margin Call begins with captains of commerce flexing their muscles and demonstrating their clout. Monthly profits from the firm’s mortgage-backed securities haven’t been up to snuff, so a ritualistic pruning of perceived deadwood is underway.

“It’s best to ignore it . . . don’t watch,” gum-chewing senior trader Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) tells newer recruits Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) and Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley), as the head choppers arrive.

Among those shown the door is senior risk management analyst Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), who has been a mentor to Peter and Seth. He’s been working on a project he swears is of utmost importance to the firm, but deaf ears and a dead cellphone are all he gets.

As the elevator doors close on his career, he hands a computer thumb drive to Peter, telling him to check it out, but also to “be careful.”

The curious Peter stays late at work, putting in the final numbers of the forecast model Eric had been working on, and comes up with devastating findings: the company is on the brink of financial meltdown owing to a surfeit of risky deals, and what’s more, it looks to be part of a much bigger crisis in the world economy.

Peter hurriedly summons Seth and Will from a bar, who confirm his gloomy findings, and the three alert the company’s big dogs: acerbic sales head Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) and his smarmy superior Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), icy chief risk officer Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore) and finally company CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons), a surprisingly earthy man who makes a dramatic rooftop arrival via helicopter.

What follows is an increasingly tense series of discussions as the players first try to cure the financial contagion but later opt for something more akin to amputation, not just for the firm but for the multitudes of small investors who have no idea what’s about to hit them.

Particularly gratifying about Margin Call is Chandor’s decision not to aim his camera at computer screens filled with numbers. Instead, he demonstrates the severity of the crisis by letting us see the horrified reaction of people reading those numbers, as they first consider them a joke and then realize that nobody is joking.

The title aside, he’s also careful not to rely too much on jargon, using it sparingly in exposition. At one point, Irons’ Tuld plays the role of the baffled movie viewer, by telling Peter how to explain his findings: “Speak to me as you might a small child, or a golden retriever.”

Chandor even works in a small, sly joke about actor Quinto, who plays Mr. Spock in the rebooted Star Trek franchise: Peter is a former rocket scientist, who quit the space game because he wanted to make big money on Earth.

Less successful are some of the lengthy speeches that the various characters make, some of them clearly pitched at the audience, that strain too hard to explains things that ultimately come down to recklessness, greed and hubris, a Greek tragedy set in pinstripes.

Sideways Director Back In Midlife-Crisis Mode

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(Nov 16, 2011) It's traditional to have a wrap party at the end of a film shoot. But it's not often that the players re-unite for a second bash a year later - as did the cast of Alexander Payne's The Descendants last May.

Held in Los Angeles - with a Skype hookup to local talent in Hawaii, where the film was shot - the party was attended by George Clooney, his young co-star Shailene Woodley and about 100 others, who got together to celebrate what Woodley recently described as one of the most amiable sets she's ever worked on.

"Alexander is one of my top five human beings on the planet," says the 20-year-old actress, who plays Clooney's rebellious teenage daughter, Alexandra, in the film. "Regardless of whether you were craft service or a dolly grip - we were all equal artists coming together to paint a blank canvas."

An almost blank canvas, that is: Expectations were high for the follow-up feature to Payne's sleeper hit Sideways. He won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for the film about two middle-aged men who are disappointed with what they've accomplished in their lives.

This time, he's back in midlife-crisis territory with a candid, surprisingly comic drama starring Clooney as Matt King, a world-weary Hawaiian land baron who finds himself at a crossroads when his wife is left in a coma after a serious boating accident.

Until that point a disengaged dad of two troubled daughters (Woodley and 10-year-old newcomer Amara Miller as Scottie), King struggles to come to grips with his wife's condition and re-connect with his kids - all while learning his wife had been having a torrid affair and was planning to leave him.

So, no, this isn't Clooney at his highest wattage. He's a guy with a slight paunch in unflattering Hawaiian shirts. One particularly poignant scene has Clooney running clumsily, his topsiders smacking the pavement, to confront old friends about his wife's infidelity. His face is panicked, his gait painfully awkward to watch.

But his movements are hilarious and speak volumes about how lost his character has become.

"I have a weakness for silent, physical comedy," explained Payne at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this fall, where his film premiered. "Dialogue-less sequences have always been my favourite stuff to direct."

From the outset, Payne says he adapted the script, based on Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel, with Clooney in mind. They pair have long wanted to collaborate. Payne auditioned Clooney for Sideways, in fact, but decided the Oscar winner wasn't right for one of the roles (which went to Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) in his bromance road movie.

Still, says Payne, "I've always thought - and I guess George did too - that he and I would be a good match. I flew here to Toronto during the film festival two years ago and told him I had a screenplay coming his way. I got it to him in November, and we were shooting in March."

What actor wouldn't jump at the chance to be cast in a Payne vehicle? The director has brought out critically acclaimed performances from everyone from Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) to Reese Witherspoon (Election).

Payne doesn't just cast big names, though. He hand-picked Woodley, who had mainly worked on TV in the series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and he chose Miller to play Woodley's precocious, younger sister even though Miller had never acted before.

For The Descendants, Payne says he felt the Californian actress Woodley "got it right away."

"I learned making Election how to cast believable high-school kids. And hers was a tricky role. You had to believe her evolution from a head case to a mature, young woman," he says. "The only direction I really ever gave her was, 'say it slower.' Working on TV, she often read six to eight pages a day. So I told her to slow it down because by rushing through her dialogue, she was cheating the emotion."

As for that magic film shoot? Maybe it's best explained by Payne's reflections on his rapport with Clooney.

"We're from the same generation. We're exactly the same age. And I think the characteristic we share about filmmaking is that we both believe it should be fun, playful, relaxed, joyous and stress-free. In other words, keep it light while still being completely professional."


It's True! Billy Crystal To Host 2012 Oscars

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

(Nov 10, 2011) He tweeted it so it must be true:
Billy Crystal will host the 2012 Oscar telecast. It took a crisis to get the longtime favourite back - Crystal hosted eight shows and returns for the first time since 2004. The comic tweeted: "Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show." Eddie Murphy was scheduled to host the Feb. 26 telecast but dropped out after Tower Heist director Brett Ratner quit as producer of the show in the wake of an anti-gay slur.


Canadian Veterans To Get Special Screening Of War Horse

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

(Nov 10, 2011) DreamWorks photo Canadian veterans are being offered free
passes to a sneak screening of War Horse.  DreamWorks Pictures is offering Canadian veterans an early look at Steven Spielberg's WFirst World War drama, War Horse, in advance of the Dec. 25 opening of the movie. Special screenings will be held in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary,  Edmonton and Vancouver on Nov. 16 in honour of Remembrance Day. For tickets info, go to Facebook.com/WarHorseMovieCanada, contact your local Royal Canadian Legion branch, or call 1-800-263-2853 ext. 4163398.

Video: Viola Davis on the Struggle of Black Actresses

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 14, 2011) *Every year at the start of award season, The Hollywood Reporter conducts a roundtable interview with the year’s leading actresses likely to receive award nominations – and this year’s discussion included “The Help” star
Viola Davis. Below, Davis discusses the role of black actresses in Hollywood, and how they’re often forced to overcompensate because of societal circumstances.


Golden Globes Says ‘Yes, Ricky’s Back!’ As Host

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 16, 2011) LOS ANGELES — Golden Globe organizers Wednesday said they have hired British comedian Ricky Gervais to host the upcoming film and TV honours for the third time, even after his performance earlier this year offended many top celebrities. “Yes, Ricky’s Back!” the Hollywood Foreign Press Association said in a posting on its website. “After weeks of rumours it’s finally official — Ricky Gervais will be back to host the Golden Globes for a third year.” The Golden Globe Awards annually are among Hollywood’s top film and television honours, and they bring out A-list stars. But last year, the acid-tongued British comedian ruffled the feathers of many in attendance with biting jokes about Robert Downey, Jr. and the critically-panned movie The Tourist. The upcoming Golden Globe awards will take place on January 15 in Beverly Hills.

::TV NEWS::     

Daily Show's Samantha Bee Salutes Canadian Roots

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(Nov 14, 2011) Samantha Bee is proud to be America's Canadian sweetheart. Although committed to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Toronto native regularly returns home to appear on Canadian programs, including Little Mosque on the Prairie and, most recently, Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays. The guest appearances speak to the multitasking prowess of Bee, whose résumé includes forming the sketch group The Atomic Fireballs and playing the kids' anime character Sailor Moon in a stage production. In between raising three young children with husband and fellow Daily Show reporter Jason Jones, Bee is a zealous Twitterer and blogs for Babble.com, a parenting website. On Tuesday's episode of Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays, she plays the perky morning show host Wendy Slade. Bee spoke to us from New York last week.

Have you been watching Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays?

Living in New York, I'm not able to watch it every week-there's this really thick firewall between the U.S. and Canada, you know. But I've watched it when I'm up in Canada and I love the sensibility of the show. It's unashamedly set in Ottawa and the casting is perfect.

Was your portrayal of Wendy Slade based on any existing morning talk show host?

Not really. I don't know why, but my skill set is so peculiar. It doesn't take much for me to channel the personality of a daytime talk show host.

Is The Daily Show still the best outlet for your irreverent Canadian viewpoint?

Yeah, it's still an incredible job, which is never the same two days in a row. Yesterday I was at that Herman Cain press conference that Gloria Allred put on. It's just so weird to be crawling through a roomful of bored reporters and it's so hot and you're waiting and waiting. That's still a unique experience for someone like me. I kind of enjoy it.

Has your reportage of these events evolved in the eight years you've been on the show?

The fundamentals are still the same, there's just more reporters now. I saw TMZ had their microphone front and centre at that Cain press conference. TMZ! Right in there with all the other networks. Bless their hearts.

Is it a positive or a negative to have the same job as your spouse?

Oh, it's good. We understand the eccentricities of each other's schedules and sometimes it can be strange. We definitely attack each day. Some days you're running madly and trying to eat a banana in the cab on the way somewhere, and some days are normal. We're never bored, I will say that.

What's the goal behind your parenting blog?

It's definitely speaks to the parenting side of me. I do the blog with Allana Harkin, one of my comedy partners from Toronto. Don't expect wisdom or advice. We're not trying to accomplish too much, but just have fun.

The recent conversation between you and your Spanx was interesting . . .

That was a sad conversation. More like an argument, really.

Why are you so drawn to Twitter these days?

I resisted it for a long time, but now I find I'm enjoying Twitter in a way I never thought would be possible. For me, it's not so much what I'm outputting, but rather following the people that I follow. If you keep the list of people you follow pretty tight, it can be a pretty interesting journey.

I know you've had network comedy offers. Are you - or your husband - ever tempted to dive into the sitcom pool?

It's part of the whole spectrum of work you try to do in this industry. You have to keep the momentum going. Right now we're very happy where we are. We always have additional projects and The Daily Show is great about letting us try new things. Moving on is a big conversation for us.

Is part of the hesitation that you'd have to move from New York to L.A.?

We understand that at some point in our lives we may have to go to where the work is. I'm sure that in the future, we'll end up living in California for a short period or long period of time. If I could live in New York the rest of my life, I absolutely would, but it's also prohibitively expensive and you have to be working. New York is a lot nicer when you have a job.

Do you ever regret revealing that you once played Sailor Moon in a stage production?

No, because for many years I was so embarrassed by that story that it would bring tears to my eyes. It was just so burned in my psyche. So it was actually really good for me to let it all out.

But you were young, right?

I wasn't that young! Let's not sugarcoat it. I was in my 20s. I was too old to do that job. But when you're an actor, work is work.

Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV.

MTV’s 30. Has It Grown Up, Or Gone Bad?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Simona Rabinovitch

(Nov 11, 2011) NEW YORK — Who doesn’t love a sex, drugs and rock ’n’
roll story?

In their new book,
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution (Dutton/Penguin Canada), Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum serve up a healthy dose of nostalgia, titillating tales and informed cultural insight about a renegade television network that changed pop culture.

Focusing on MTV's “golden era” (from its launch in 1981 to 1992), their hilarious and clever oral history includes interviews with more than 400 industry insiders, MTV VJs and execs and bands such as Metallica, the Police and Beastie Boys.

“We felt there was a built-in audience of people who missed their MTV,” says Marks, the former editor of Spin, Blender and Billboard magazines who, like his co-author, is a seasoned music journalist. “There's a lot of nostalgia and fond feelings about what the network was, like a best buddy.”

The eighties were “a fun time to have your prime,” Marks recalls. “MTV was a rare confluence of popular and cool. Everyone on the ground floor felt they were involved in something pretty rare – the coolest project ever.”

Tannenbaum, who was the music editor of Blender, agrees. “One of the reasons people loved MTV so much was the way it brought together a generation,” he says.

“Kids watched MTV together. If you were the first kid in your neighbourhood to get cable, even if nobody liked you, they still came over to your house. So people were getting exposed to music and bands and videos together, at the same time. You would go to school the next day and say, ‘Did you see the Pat Benatar video?’ Or, ‘Isn't that Cars video crazy where the singer walks on water?’ It was a shared and unifying experience, the last semblance of a monoculture.”

Now, Marks says, some people feel the network has betrayed them with reality-TV shows like Jersey Shore. “But MTV's mandate was always to make money and do whatever it takes to please their audience.”

Even if its evolution has disappointed some, MTV has had a huge cultural impact. Had the fledgling network failed, “music videos would not have happened the way we know them now,” Tannenbaum says. “The video industry didn't exist when MTV began.

In retrospect, it really is an incredible leap of faith. When MTV launched, they had maybe 200 music videos, so in order to succeed they needed the record companies to keep making more and better ones.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

CBS Dominates The New TV Season

Source: www.thestar.com - By Gail Pennington

(Nov 16, 2011) ST. LOUIS—In November, the leaves are falling from the trees and the TV networks are shedding shows from their schedules.

This season, CBS is prime time’s mighty oak. NBC, on the other hand, feels a bit like a hollow log.

By now, with the World Series past and the holidays on the horizon, broadcasters have had a chance to assess their new fall series over the course of almost two months.

Some shows are long gone. NBC, despite its struggles, still cancelled its Playboy Club membership after just three episodes and made Free Agents true free agents.

Over on CBS, How To Be a Gentleman, whose numbers might have gotten a pass from NBC, was exiled to Saturdays, then dropped entirely.

ABC admitted failure in its attempt to reboot Charlie’s Angels, which ended its run Thursday after 13 episodes. The CW dumped the universally hated H8R.

The problem for CBS, if it could be considered a problem, is too much success. So many of its shows are ratings winners that a series that would be a hit on another network may look weak here.

How To Be a Gentleman, a truly terrible comedy, was an easy cut for CBS, which had Rules of Engagement waiting in the wings. The new 2 Broke Girls (an edgier comedy than CBS usually programs) is an early hit in the Monday night comedy block.

Not every new show has soared for CBS. Leading off Fridays, A Gifted Man is struggling, with viewers rejecting the premise of a doctor who talks to his dead ex-wife. Better writing and better use of the wonderful Margo Martindale would help.

Person of Interest has attracted a following and has been picked up for the full season, but it’s shockingly dull given its pedigree (J.J. Abrams’ shop), and CBS can’t like the fact that it has been coming in fourth in its time period. Unforgettable isn’t getting much buzz, but the routine procedural is doing well enough in a weak time slot, winning over Body of Proof and Parenthood, and got full-season renewal.

Poor NBC, which dominated prime time for years, now has only one non-sports show (The Office) in the Top 20. In addition to the two shows already cancelled, Harry’s Law has plunged in the ratings as former fans rejected drastic changes to the cast and premise.

Prime Suspect has been a disappointment from the start; when the premiere episode was so obnoxious, viewers turned it off midway through. The premise seemed dated, the characters were off-putting and comparison to the British original was inevitable. Since then, critics who have stuck with the show say it has improved, but viewers stayed away even when NBC loaded the lineup with repeats to encourage sampling.

But not all is lost. After two episodes, Grimm is an early success story and is being promoted as the No. 1 new Friday show. It’s also more involving than expected.

And NBC has hits, if not runaway ones, in the charming Up All Night and grating Whitney, both picked up for the full season.

Photos: Oprah Receives Her ‘Unimaginable’ Oscar

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov 14, 2011) *
Oprah Winfrey accepted an honorary Oscar for her charitable work on Saturday in what she called an unimaginable moment for a black woman who grew up poor in Mississippi and rose to superstardom stardom.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annually bestows its Governors Awards on people who have made an impact in the industry. This year, the honorary Oscars went to Winfrey, actor James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith at a black-tie affair that brought out stars such as John Travolta, Glenn Close and Alec Baldwin.

Winfrey and long-time boyfriend Stedman Graham

Winfrey raises her Oscar statuette next to Graham

Talk show host and film actress Winfrey, who was nominated for a supporting-actress Academy Award in 1985′s “The Color Purple,” was given a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by a young woman who was sent through high school on a financial grant she earned from Winfrey’s foundation.

Winfrey teared up when accepting her honorary Oscar and described the moment as “unimaginable” given her humble roots growing up in Mississippi.

“All of us can make a difference through the life we lead,” Winfrey said. “We’re all here to help each other.”

Oprah Winfrey holds her Oscar statuette as she greets Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier

She talked of her career as a TV talk show host and her movie work, and said it was “The Color Purple” that paved the way to stardom which, ultimately, led to philanthropy.

That movie “door opened to me through the magic and majesty of film,” she said.

Winfrey (L) and director/screenwriter Tyler Perry

Actress Rita Wilson, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey and author Maria Shriver (L-R)

James Earl Jones was given his honorary Oscar for a body of acting work that ranges from his Academy Award-nominated performance as a boxer in “The Great White Hope” to voicing the role of the villainous Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” movies.

Jones was not on hand because he is in working in London, but he spoke to the Los Angeles audience in a speech that was taped earlier on Saturday.

He said he was “deeply honoured, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked,” using British slang for being astounded.

Also, the “Godfather of makeup” Dick Simon was given an honorary Oscar for his behind-the-scenes work using makeup and prosthetics to make actors look old, young, sick, dying and dead in films ranging from “The Exorcist” to “The Godfather.”

The Oscars for the films of 2011 will be given out in a ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 26.

Will Regis Find Life After Live?

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Nov 13, 2011) It is hard to imagine Regis Philbin at home, padding around in his robe and slippers, barking out staccato objections to whatever pop-culture trend he currently cannot comprehend to anyone who will listen, which will by then only be his long-suffering wife and sometime co-host, Joy, who will eventually be moved to finally smother him with a pillow. . .

An unlikely scenario, even as the avuncular 80-year-old television institution leaves behind his long-running daytime chat show, Live! with Regis and Kelly, at the end of this week.

Regis will not go quietly. Regis has never gone quietly anywhere. He insists he has no plans whatsoever to retire. Something will come up, he affirms — though a rumour printed in the New York Post that he would be shopping around his own competing morning show has turned out to be, as yet, unfounded.

Another rumour does seem to have a ring of truth, and that’s that leaving Live! wasn’t necessarily his idea. Depending on whom you choose to believe, at contract time, Philbin either held out too long for too much money, or wanted to keep the same money (an estimated $21 million U.S. a year) for a greatly reduced workload. Either way, he was apparently turned down flat.

“The contractual issue just never worked out,” he acknowledged in a recent radio interview. “Of course it’s a big mistake. But Regis is moving on.”

And the Live! show will move on without him. Kelly Ripa has already re-upped with a new five-year deal. Her new co-host has not yet been announced, though Jerry Seinfeld will be stepping in for a few days to smooth the transition, followed by How I Met Your Mother’s Jason Segel, expat Canadians Kim Cattrall and Howie Mandel, Naked Chef Jamie Oliver and Muppet diva Miss Piggy.

As to who will ultimately inherit that second stool, speculation has ranged from Ripa’s actor husband, Mark Consuelos, to Dana Carvey, who channeled an uncanny Regis impression years ago on Saturday Night Live.

Sadly, the most likely known candidate would appear to be the inexplicably overexposed Ryan Seacrest, who is already well on his way to eclipsing Philbin’s Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Time on Camera,” last calculated in 2009 as 16,343 hours.

The next three hours Philbin adds to his current total should prove particularly memorable, with some of his best pals booked as guests.

Jimmy Fallon and Don Rickles will share the spotlight Monday morning, followed Tuesday by Donald Trump. On Wednesday it’s a rare early-morning appearance by late-night icon David Letterman — only his often-stated respect for Philbin could have lured the notorious curmudgeon out of his own studio and into the light of day.

And, finally, on Thursday the 17th, it’s the ultimate Live! reunion: original co-host Kathie Lee Gifford drops in from the Today Show set to catch up with Reege.

Friday has been reserved for an hour-long Regis retrospective culled from his 28 years as host.

Music for the week will be variously provided by Tony Bennett, Josh Groban and Bret Michaels.

This changing of the guard reflects larger changes in television, particularly the current upheaval in daytime, where no one has yet been able to capitalize on Oprah’s absence — least of all Oprah, and her struggling cable concern, OWN — and soap operas are dropping like flies.

And then there’s the age issue. Larry King, at 79, signed off from CNN last year. 60 Minutes’ Andy Rooney, at 92, retired in October, and died within the month. Aging audiences notwithstanding, the upper ranks of television veterans are rapidly thinning out.

“There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera,” Philbin half-joked when he made the big announcement in January. “Especially certain old people.”

Email: rsalem@thestar.ca; Twitter: @robsalem

Reege’s greatest hits (and misses)

A chronological guide to a remarkable career:

August 25, 1931: Regis Francis Xavier Philbin born in the Bronx, New York City.

1962: After several years working as a page for The Tonight Show, Philbin is promoted to announcer, and eventually even gets a shot at guest host.

1964: Launches his first TV talk show, That Regis Philbin Show, on a local San Diego station. Unable to afford writers, it was almost entirely ad-libbed. Later that same year, he briefly took over the Westinghouse Tonight Show from Hollywood after Steve Allen left, but was blown off the air only weeks later by unassailable competitor Johnny Carson.

1967: Philbin goes national as sidekick to the star on The Joey Bishop Show. Though he generally took Bishop’s unrelenting on-air insults in stride, he stormed off the show in 1968 during the opening segment, vowing never to return. A few nights later, he was back. A year later, the show was cancelled. Bishop returned the favour by walking off at the beginning of the last show to let Philbin finish up on his own.

1971: Commutes back and forth from St. Louis to host Regis Philbin's Saturday Night in St. Louis.

1975: Philbin joins Sarah Purcell, and then Cyndy Garvey, as co-host of the local A.M. Los Angeles, where he remains through 1981. During his tenure, the show rose from the bottom to the very top of the ratings.

1976: Philbin hosts a short-lived ABC gossip/game show, The Neighbors, which might best be described as The Newlywed Game meets Real Housewives.

1981: Philbin is teamed with a young Mary Hart as co-hosts of a new national NBC morning variety show . . . which lasts 18 weeks.

1982: Philbin follows Garvey to New York to co-host The Morning Show for ABC, but they are consistently killed in the ratings by the 9 o’clock competition of Donahue on NBC and The Joker’s Wild/Tic Tac Dough on CBS.

1985: A new day dawns for The Morning Show when Philbin is partnered with former Name That Tune singer Kathie Lee Johnson.

1988: Name changes all around — Johnson now as football wife Mrs. Frank Gifford, and The Morning Show as the now nationally syndicated, and increasingly successful, Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee.

1999: Philbin hosts the British import game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, a summer replacement series that became a regular-season sensation, until burning itself out by over-exposure (it survives in syndication, hosted by Meredith Viera).

2000: Kathie Lee leaves, and the show is renamed Live! With Regis for an entire year before a permanent replacement is found, former soap actress Kelly Ripa.

2006: Philbin signs on as host of America’s Got Talent, but quits after the first season, exhausted by the New York to Los Angeles commute.

2008: An attempt to revive the Password franchise featuring Philbin lasts barely a year. Philbin pulls out of a similar initiative to resurrect This is your Life.

November 18, 2011: Regis Philbin says good-bye on the last Live! With Regis and Kelly.

Rescue Me Ends In A Blaze Of Glory

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Nov 12, 2011) I come to praise Tommy Gavin, not to bury him.

After seven years, 92 episodes, and several falls from and climbs back on the wagon, it comes down to this: the turbulent, darkly irreverent saga of haunted New York firefighter Tommy Gavin (the alter-ego of co-creator
Denis Leary) concludes Sunday night at 11 on Showcase.

Loose ends are tied up, alternatives explored, lives lost, lives saved, balls busted, heroes mourned and closure is achieved, in true
Rescue Me fashion, with a seamless mix of the harrowing and hilarious.

First things first. If you have somehow managed to avoid the details since the finale’s earlier American airing, then STOP READING NOW. Seriously, you don’t want to know. I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. The surprises here are half the fun.

Okay now. If you’re still with me and you don’t already know, then you have no one to blame but yourself. There is simply no way to do this final episode justice without betraying some major spoilers.

Starting with the big one: Tommy Gavin survives. This might seem a forgone conclusion . . . to anyone who has never seen this show. But like all really compelling and challenging television, Rescue Me has studiously avoided the easy, obvious and expected. Just like its characters, playing it safe is not in its nature.

Which is why we all fully and justifiably expected Tommy Gavin to die, to go out in a blaze of glory. And by “we,” I include the show’s creators, Leary and his writing/producing partner, Peter Tolan.

“We always had rather grim prognostications for Tommy Gavin’s end,” Tolan confessed to critics at the fall previews earlier this year.

“But ultimately we came to realize that the idea of the show was, will a man who has survived this great tragedy actually survive it or not?

“And I think in the face of six, seven seasons of television, you don’t want to say no to that question. You don’t want to bring people along on a journey that long and then say, ‘No, he’s not going to survive.’ It’s just a very negative message. So we decided to, at that point, go with something a little more hopeful.”

Leave it to iconoclasts Leary and Tolan to come up with an unexpected ending other than the unexpected ending we were naturally otherwise inclined to expect.

Does Tommy live happily ever after? Well, yes. And no. Tommy and “happy” don’t really belong in the same sentence . . . unless perhaps he’s drinking again. In either case, I’m not going to tell you. There are spoilers and there are spoilers.

There is profound loss and utter despair in this final hour, and also hope and joy and boyish shenanigans — sometimes, particularly near the end, all at the same time. Again, just like the preceding 92 episodes. Only more so.

Does the finale pay tribute to the heroic firefighters who gave up their lives on 9/11? Of course it does, as did virtually every episode that preceded it. This last, shortened season was intended from the outset to coincide with the 10th anniversary of that tragedy (this concluding eight-episode run starting on that very date here in Canada, just as it was ending in the United States).

“If we could get to that, if the show was going to remain popular enough, (we thought that) ending it right at the 10th anniversary would be the perfect world,” Leary said. “There’s a natural sort of, you know, time totem there, and the show is ultimately . . . I mean, obviously, we’ve dealt with a mixture of drama and comedy with the issues on the show, but there would be a natural feeling of summing up or the guys having to stop and think about it, you know, as members of the fire department.

“There were going to be celebrations. There were going to be moratoriums. There were all of these things approaching. We would definitely have to deal with 9/11 again. So it was kind of a natural thing.

“Plus, Peter and I really hated each other towards the end.”

Were that statement true, it would have been another kind of tragedy. Rarely does television produce a creative team so completely in sync and shared sensibility that they finish each other’s sentences, more often than not with something unspeakably crude and profane.

In fact, Tolan revealed, the very next day, the two of them were sitting down to start work on a new, half-hour comedy vehicle for Leary. “Not a traditional comedy,” Tolan later allowed. “(It’ll be) like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

We expect no less.


Howard Stern Likely Headed To ‘America’s Got Talent’

Source: www.thestar.com - By Scott Collins

(Nov 11, 2011) LOS ANGELES—The “King of All Media” might expand his
empire soon. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that NBC is trying to get Howard Stern to replace Piers Morgan as the third judge on its top-rated summer reality staple, America’s Got Talent. A top source at the show, asked about the shock jock on Talent, told the Los Angeles Times there’s a “very good chance he will be doing it.” An NBC source says, however, that there’s no deal in place yet. Despite the timing, Morgan wasn’t pushed out, the source says. Morgan’s nightly hosting job at CNN has consumed more time than he expected. NBC knew of his predicament and had started talking with other people in anticipation that he might leave. Stern took his formerly top-rated broadcast radio program to the subscription-only Sirius XM Radio in 2006.

Lisa Ray To Host Second Season Of ‘Top Chef Canada’

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 16, 2011) Model-turned-actress Lisa Ray is the new host of Top Chef Canada. The Water and Bollywood/Hollywood star is taking over hosting duties from Thea Andrews, who recently gave birth to her second child. The Canadian spinoff of the U.S. competition series, Top Chef features the country’s top culinary talent competing in weekly challenges. The winner gets $100,000, a kitchen worth $30,000 and the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef. Ray revealed in 2009 that she’d been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer but said the following year that it was in remission. She says she’s looking forward to a “delicious” season.


The Addams Family: Festering Flop Becomes A Hit

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Nov 11, 2011) WEST PALM BEACH — It’s possible to heal a dysfunctional family. All it takes is willingness and time.

Okay, and money.

But if that family is
The Addams Family, then you’ve also got to figure out who gets custody of Lurch and how you figure out the visitation rights for the disembodied hand.

A messy situation, yes? And one made messier by the fact that it was a musical that just wouldn’t become a hit, not in Chicago, not in New York.

Until now. Yes, theatregoers, The Addams Family 3.0 has finally come happily together as a show and opens on Wednesday at the Toronto Centre for the Arts for Dancap Productions.

Cue the iconic theme music and celebratory finger snaps.

A Chicago-based producer named Stuart Oken was the one who decided that the private lives of Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams would make a hit show and so he set to work about five years ago.

He hired the cutting-edge director-designer team responsible for Shockheaded Peter (Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch), lined up the duo who wrote the book for Jersey Boys (Marshall Brickman & Rick Ellice), contracted one of the brightest songwriting lights in New York (Andrew Lippa) and sealed the deal by bringing in two superstars to play his leads (Nathan Lane & Bebe Neuwirth).

And they all lived happily ever after. Right?


From the moment the show opened to a chorus of critical catcalls in Chicago in November of 2009, there was tension in the air.

“I had a vision in the beginning,” says the sadder-but-wiser Oken, “which is why I hired the Shockheaded Peter team. But it all deteriorated in the final stages of rehearsal and the best we could do before the Chicago opening was keep our heads above water.”


The advance sale was huge, driven by the love of the public for the 1960s TV series and the 1990 films, but when they got to the theatre they discovered a strange hybrid of a show (part Gothic spectacle, part Broadway musical) and nobody was happy, least of all the big box office stars, Lane and Neuwirth.

Lane was the real muscle and so it was no surprise when one of his favourite directors, Jerry Zaks, suddenly appeared in Chicago to take charge. But what did he find?

“Chaos,” says the plain-speaking Zaks. “There wasn’t one strong, clear vision telling people what needed to be done to help the story. Musicals aren’t a democracy; they never are. I did what I could in the time I had left.”

Toronto-raised choreographer Sergio Trujillo had his problems as well.

“What happened with me in Chicago is I was trying something completely different, which is what the original director wanted. We were aiming for the original Charles Addams cartoons, not the TVs show or movies.

“But we learned very quickly that the audience wanted what they remembered, not some new take on the material. And we didn’t have the time to change it the way they wanted.”

Oken shudders in remembrance. “You get into the panic of coming into Broadway and it’s a very tough, painful experience, especially when you know you’re not ready.”

But when they finally opened on Broadway in April, 2010, nobody was very happy, least of all the critics.

“A tepid goulash of vaudeville song-and-dance routines, Borscht Belt jokes, stingless sitcom zingers and homey romantic plot lines,” snorted Ben Brantley in the N.Y. Times.

And I wasn’t much nicer, calling it “a lot of expensively mounted emptiness.”

Enough audience members kept being attracted by the title to keep it going through this New Year’s Eve, when it will finally close.

At this point, most producers, most authors and most directors would have thrown up their hands and decided to forget it all as a bad experience.

But not this group.

Oken observes that “These days Broadway is the beginning of the journey, not the end and we had a whole world out there to see The Addams Family, so why not make it right?”

And Zaks concurs that “The best day for me is when I realized Rick and Marshall and Sergio and Andrew all wanted to redo it as badly as I did. Everyone was on board with the notion that we had a real opportunity to finally finish what we had started on the road.”

The difference this time, as Trujillo points out, “is that we had Jerry in the room with us from the beginning.”

There were new scenes, new songs, new dances, new jokes, even a new heart to the story.

And there were new leads as well. Broadway stars Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger, who now play Gomez and Morticia with great style and considerable sexiness, started out by working from the inside out.

“What made this couple stay together all these years?” asks the dashing Sills, best known for his smashing turn in The Scarlet Pimpernel. “They must have really loved each other and so we started to investigate that love.”

“And what we learned is that the whole story is really about a family,” adds the smouldering Gettelfinger. “A family who love each other and stick together through thick and thin.”

Don’t worry, there’s a lot of laughs, but there’s a lot of heart as well and that makes all the difference.

“You can be weird and still be a family,” is how Oken sums up the show’s theme. “If there’s an underlying deep meaning. It’s a show about tolerance. Each of us is normal and abnormal. And we’re not alone in our weirdness. As Morticia says ‘What’s good for the spider is a calamity for the fly.’”

So get out your thumbscrews and chains, put on your sexiest basic black outfit and get ready to snap your fingers along with the crowd.

“Buh-Da-Da-Dum. (Snap, Snap!)”


This Is The Rez? But She’s Black. And She’s Asian

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Martin Morrow

(Nov 11, 2011) There’s a startling moment in the opening scene of
Factory Theatre’s The Rez Sisters when black actor Djennie Laguerre suddenly appears onstage in the role of Annie Cook, the country music-crazy resident of a Manitoulin Island Indian reserve. This is colour-blind casting writ large. However much you’ve prepared yourself for Ken Gass’s “experimental” production of Tomson Highway’s landmark play, it still knocks you for a loop.

Gass has taken to heart Cree playwright Highway’s frequent insistence that his aboriginal works don’t need to be performed by aboriginal actors. The director’s diverse cast mixes native and Métis performers with those of Haitian, Korean and South Asian origin. But as they congregate on Gillian Gallow’s surreal set, you quickly forget about race and become caught up in their characters.

Highway’s rowdy, earthy tale of seven women in a fictional Cree-Ojibwa reserve, who pin their hopes and dreams on a fabulous bingo jackpot, hasn’t lost its power in the quarter-century since it premiered in this city. If it now belongs to another time – as those references to cookbook author Madame Benoît and the presence of an old-school Sony Walkman remind us – it remains timeless in its affectionate group portrait of a generation of disadvantaged First Nations women.

These ladies may not be happy with their lot, but they sure aren’t living lives of quiet desperation. On the contrary, they’re loud, gossipy, bitchy, exuberant and foul-mouthed. Sisters, half-sisters, sisters-in-law, they squabble like one big, unruly family. That is, until the shared goal of getting to Toronto to partake in “The Biggest Bingo in the World” has them pulling together to raise the necessary travel money.

The second-act scene in which we see them engaged in a flurry of bottle drives, babysitting, bake sales and other fundraising activities is one of the highlights of Gass’s lively if uneven staging. In keeping with the non-traditional casting, he emphasizes the stylization and musical structure of Highway’s writing instead of its gritty realism, so that these ensemble scenes are like noisy orchestral pieces, while the soliloquies resemble introspective solos.

Composer Wayne Kelso strengthens that impression, underscoring virtually every line of dialogue (sometimes annoyingly) and punctuating the sisters’ raucous behaviour with bursts of frenetic, jazzy percussion. Then there’s the actual country song that Highway, a composer himself, inserts into Act 2, sung here with gusto by Michaela Washburn as the bisexual biker Emily Dictionary.

The acting is largely enjoyable. Pamela Sinha is movingly stoic as Marie-Adele Starblanket, the cancer-stricken mother with a brood of 14. And Kyra Harper is delightfully rhapsodic as the bowel-obsessed Philomena Moosetail, describing in breathless detail her dream toilet. Then there’s sour-faced Jean Yoon, perfectly prissy as the despised Veronique St. Pierre, whose own dream is to own a stove so marvellous that Mme. Benoît “will suicide herself.”

Laguerre is effervescent as the Patsy Cline-loving Annie and Jani Lauzon is a ruggedly pragmatic Pelajia Patchnose, whose bête noir is the dirt road outside her house. (The fact that Highway’s women long for toilets, stoves and asphalt tells us more about their reserve that any word-pictures could do.)

As Veronique’s adopted daughter, the mentally disabled Zhaboonigan, a gawky, unblinking Cara Gee, is completely believable. But her monologue about being raped by white boys, harrowing in itself, would be even more effective if she adopted a tone of bewildered innocence rather than outrage. Washburn, similarly, has misjudged the part of Emily, playing her like a butch lesbian when she’s meant to be attracted to both sexes.

Highway gives the play a mystical dimension through the hovering presence of Nanabush, the trickster of Ojibwa mythology, who manifests himself as a bird – and later, as a bingo master of ceremonies. A role originated by the playwright’s late brother, dancer René Highway, it’s played here expertly by their nephew Billy Merasty. Silently magnetic in his avian incarnations, he becomes brazenly campy as the booming-voiced MC.

I’m not sure what to make of Gallow’s set, in which the roof of Pelajia’s house and Marie-Adele’s white picket fence jut out of a sea of gravel, like the half-buried Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. At least it’s functional and, like André du Toit’s use of spotlights, in keeping with Gass’s non-realistic approach. Robin Fisher’s character-defining costumes – a ludicrous miniskirt for the aging-but-vain Philomena, a cowgirl outfit for Annie – are a delight.

Now that Gass has proved the viability of a non-traditional Rez Sisters, the next question is obvious: When will we see a Factory revival of its all-male counterpart, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing?

The Rez Sisters
Written by Thomson Highway
Directed by Ken Gass
Starring Cara Gee, Kyra Harper, Djennie Laguerre, Jani Lauzon, Billy Merasty, Pamela Sinha, Michaela Washburn, Jean Yoon
At Factory Theatre in Toronto
The Rez Sisters runs until Dec. 11.


Who Needs Cable? A 6-Month Checkup

Source: www.thestar.com - Aneurin Bosley

(Nov 13, 2011) Six months ago I
cancelled my cable service and invested $175 in an antenna and related gear to pull down nearly 30 channels of high definition TV with no monthly fee.

Since April, I’ve saved about $245 in cable bills, leaving me $70 in the black with another $35 a month accruing every month. I’m happy to report that I have no regrets.

At the time of cancellation, I wondered whether I’d miss the channels only available on cable, such as Sportsnet or the Weather Network. I haven’t. In fact, I still get most of the channels that were in my basic cable package — including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS directly from the U.S. — and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Would the signal quality be any good? Well, it’s better than most stations on cable or satellite because there’s less compression. Can you record shows from an antenna? It turns out there are plenty of options.

The original story was one of the best read online Moneyville stories of the past year and generated plenty of emails and phone calls from readers. Many readers asked themselves the same kinds of questions I had asked. Would it work? How many channels would I get? Could I do it on my own? And it wasn’t just that people were keen to save money. Many readers were fed up with Rogers and Bell, which — in the eyes of readers — were charging a lot of money and providing marginal service.

You might think that an antenna would be a no-brainer for a lot of people. But based on the reader feedback, there are many people who are interested in over-the-air HDTV (OTA) and yet are still on the fence. This is consistent with the experience of antenna installer Eric Skura of Stanley Communications (formerly V&E).

Skura says he’s seen a huge increase in the number of people calling to inquire about an antenna installation over the past year or so. And while there’s a steady flow of installations, “it’s not quite the surge we have been hoping for,” he says.

Geoff Tebbutt of The Antenna Guys echoes this sentiment. Tebbutt says he’s getting a lot of inquiries and a steady stream of installations, but not the flood he had expected. Still, he’s confident this will change.

“Once the word gets out, it’s going to go gangbusters,” he said recently.

So with all the interest, why haven’t more people dropped their TV services in favour of an antenna? Here are a few of the more common reasons I’ve come across.

“I might lose my favourite shows.”

If you’re a serious Blue Jays or Raptors fan (assuming the NBA ever returns to normal), you won’t be able to see a lot of games over the air. (On the other hand, the World Series looked fantastic on Fox.) But if your taste runs more toward reality TV for example, you might find you can watch a lot of your favourite shows online. Can’t get enough Holmes Inspection? You can watch full episodes on HGTV’s website. And there are other ways to watch TV shows.

Star reader Nel Marshall opted for a Netflix subscription as a supplemental service. Marshall and her husband live in Newmarket and receive about 14 channels over the air.

The Netflix subscription gives them other options when there’s nothing on. And for $7.99 a month, it’s still considerably less expensive than a basic cable or satellite package.

What about recording?

Some people have said they’re holding out because their current service gives them the option of a personal video recorder (PVR). In fact, there are plenty of PVR options with over the air TV.

Mal McKenna reports that he is very happy with his Channel Master CM-7000PAL. This device will record two shows at the same time, assuming your TV is tuned to one of them and can store up to 30 hours of HD programming. At about $370, it isn’t cheap, but at least there are no rental fees. (McKenna also pointed me to a terrific listings page, where you can see all the upcoming shows on the channels that are available in the Golden Horseshoe.

There are other options, too. Do you have a computer plugged into the TV? A TV tuner card can turn the computer into a PVR for about $150. I used a TV tuner card for years with my Rogers cable service. You’ll likely need to purchase some software to program show recordings, which could add up to $100. But again, it’s a one-time purchase.

“Installation is complicated.”

Balancing at the top of a ladder while trying to strap an antenna around your chimney may seem like an intimidating process, but it’s manageable for a handy person. And there are plenty of how-to’s and videos online that take you through the process.

There are a number of installers in the GTA as well. They typically charge between about $300 and $700 for everything.

“I’m in a bad spot.”

Some readers have said they are holding off on an antenna because they live on the northeast corner of a downtown condo, say, east of the CN Tower, where most of the Toronto HD broadcasts originate. Geoff Tebbutt of the Antenna Guys says he has encountered this problem before. The solution? Aim an antenna at a building to the northwest. The signals will bounce off nearby buildings and hit your antenna. Buffalo signals could be trickier in a case like this, but it might be worth spending $30 to see what you can get.

This brings me to the price of antennas. I heard from many readers that they have been able to pick up as many stations as I do with antennas that cost half as much. To this I can only say, “Good on you.” But for what it’s worth, both installers — perhaps not surprisingly — recommend spending more for a quality antenna. They say the issue is really one of longevity; a less expensive antenna has cheaper parts and is more likely to break. According to Skura, a quality antenna will last at least 10 years and up to 20 if it’s not damaged by birds, branches or other hazards.

People who have installed antennas like them a lot. And the main reason isn’t just cost; there’s a lot of hostility towards Rogers and Bell. Marshall explained her decision to get an antenna this way: “We did not feel we wanted to deal with Rogers or Bell.” Peter Mayor in Maple, among many others, felt the same way.

I’m not trying to pick on these companies, but judging by the popularity and comments on some of Ellen Roseman’s columns, complaining about our telecom giants could practically qualify as a national pastime.

So when people are able to get superior picture quality without a Rogers or Bell bill, it stands to reason they’d be happy about it.

And with a minimum of $420 a year in savings, you could buy a new TV every two years.

How To Choose Between Plasma, LCD Or LED

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Hugh Thompson

(Nov 1, 2011) The days are getting shorter, the NHL hockey season is well underway, and the last of the leaves are falling from the trees which means Canadians are spending more times indoors and more time in front of their televisions.

If your first-generation high-definition television (HDTV) or aging tube television has a given up the ghost then you may be thinking about shopping for a new flat-panel television for the living room or family room this holiday season.

In the HDTV marketplace today, there are three types of flat-panel technologies to choose from: LCD, LED, and plasma.

For the budget-conscious consumer who is looking for the biggest screen for the buck, I recommend an LCD television. Thanks to its low cost, decent picture quality, and long life (typically 60,000 to 100,000 hours), LCD is far and away the best-selling flat-panel technology.

However, the more discerning high definition (HD) television buyer – who's willing to spend a little extra for superior video quality – should consider buying a plasma television.

Plasma vs. LCD

To understand why plasma technology is superior to LCD, we first need to have a rudimentary understanding of how each technology displays video images on a screen.

Plasma displays are described as a self-illuminated technology because images are created by lighting up individual pixels on the screen. A plasma display consists of millions of phosphor-coated glass cells or pixel containing plasma. Each pixel has three cells (one for red, green and blue respectively) therefore a 1080p plasma display panel has over 2.7 million pixels (1920 x 1080) and 8 million cells on its surface. To produce an image, electric current flows through the screen, causing certain bubbles to emit ultraviolet rays which trigger the phosphor coating to produce red, green or blue.

LCD, or Liquid Crystal Displays, are described as a transmissive technology because rather than self-illuminating each pixel, images are created by passing fluorescent light through a series of polarizing filters in order to generate various colours. LCD’s weakness is that it can’t always shut out all of the fluorescent backlight which leads to a less than perfect video image.

The different way images are produced leads to four primary reasons why video experts prefer plasma over LCD:

Superior colour reproduction

– because plasma images are self-illuminated rather than created by white light being imperfectly passed through a series of polarizing filters, plasma delivers a wider colour gamut and more dynamic colours.

Superior black levels

– The richness of an image simply cannot be conveyed if the colours are washed out because of poor black levels. With poor black levels, shadow areas look gray and washed out, making the picture look flat and unrealistic. Plasma can achieve superior black levels by turning off unnecessary pixels where LCD gets blacker by applying a filter which blocks most but not all of the light. LCD inabilities to fully block the light means that even the best LCD panels can only reproduce a dark gray as opposed to black.

Better viewing angles

– With LCD televisions, as you move off-centre, contrast levels fall. At a 45-degree angle, contrast ratios for an LCD televisions drop 80%. To witness this phenomenon, simply stand in front of an LCD television and slowly move to the side of the room. As you move away from the centre the image will appear more washed out, This is because more light is spilling through the side of the filters. With plasma, the contrast ratio is constant regardless of the viewing angles so the picture looks great no matter where you are sitting in the room.

Improved clarity

– Plasma trumps LCD in picture clarity for two reasons: First, as we just covered, the improved viewing angles of plasma mean no washed out images. The second reason for greater clarity is plasma's faster response times. Slow response times mean that fast action onscreen can lead to a trail or shadow effect as something moves quickly across the screen. A hockey puck, for instance, will have a momentary trail when it is shot. Plasma's faster response times mean the absence of trails or shadow effect.

LED: The Superior LCD

Over the last several years, LCD manufacturers have gone to great lengths to improve the quality of their sets with the biggest improvement being the introduction of LED (Light-emitting diode) backlighting.

The primary benefit for consumers of using LED illumination for backlighting an LCD panel is to improve black levels. The superior black levels that LED lighting provides give the viewer a sense of greater depth in the image along with more vibrant colours.

Additional benefits from LED backlighting are reduced power consumption, longer bulb life and much thinner LCD panels. Most new LED driven panels are less than one inch thick.

LED vs. Plasma

In side by side comparisons conducted in a home-theatre-type environment, the superiority of Plasma or LED technology over LCD technology is readily apparent to even the most casual observer.

Personally, I still prefer a top notch Plasma over a top-of-the-line LED panel for two reasons: Panel Speed and image consistency. While the refresh speeds on LED panels have virtually eliminated motion artifacts over the years, I can still see ghosting on 3D images on LED panels that are not visible on top-quality plasma panels. In addition, because plasma can literally turn 8 million pixels or zones off and on versus just 8 or 16 zones for LED, I find the brightness levels and contrast more consistent with plasma. These differences, however, are extremely subtle and probably won’t even register with the bulk of viewers.

For many consumers, even those that can quickly spot the superiority of plasma over LCD, the difference in image quality between LED and plasma will be virtually indistinguishable therefore the decision to pick between LED and plasma will probably be more a function of price and secondary features such as 3D, Internet connectivity and design.

Hugh’s Favourites

There are many good excellent televisions to choose from this Christmas. For top-notch picture quality, my personal favourites are the Panasonic VT Series of plasma televisions and the Samsung 8 Series of LED television.

In the popular 55-inch size, the Panasonic TC-P55VT30 plasma television currently sells for about $2,600 while the Samsung UN55D8000 sells for about $2,800.

Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Among The Best Games Of The Year

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chad Sapieha

(Nov 13, 2011) The star of the latest
Elder Scrolls role-playing game is its world.

Skyrim, the northernmost province of Tamriel, a continent that fans of the Bethesda Softworks series have been exploring piecemeal in games dating back 17 years, is a hauntingly beautiful and extremely harsh land filled with towering mountains, raging rapids and dangerous wildlife. Blue skies and bright sunlight can give way to pounding rain and blinding snowstorms in minutes. Calm nights on the tundra are lit by mesmerizing starscapes, an enormous moon and the dancing lights of aurora borealis.

The challenge is to explore this immense world, to understand it, and, in a way, to conquer it. The first time I made my way to the top of Skyrim’s tallest peak, fighting off ravenous mountain wolves and nearly losing my way in a blizzard, I felt like I’d just climbed Mount Everest.

It’s about discovery, as much as anything. The cumulative effect of gradually finding hundreds of hidden points of interest – an ancient altar in a secluded grove, a cave behind a waterfall, a shack buried in snow – scattered around Skyrim’s gargantuan map is just about as satisfying as anything I’ve experienced in the world of games this year. The need to learn what’s just beyond the next ridge or on the other side of a glacier is what has driven me on several nights to play until passing out from exhaustion, controller still in hand.

From the outset players are free to run off and begin exploring every nook and cranny of Skyrim, finding and completing quests as they run across them. This uncompromising sense of freedom is the great promise of open-world games, and with only a couple of exceptions – Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption comes to mind – none deliver on that oath in a manner as fulfilling as Skyrim.

Of course, the problem inherent in allowing players to complete missions in pretty much any order they like comes in ensuring that enemies remain suitably challenging throughout. Since Bethesda didn’t want to make players afraid to explore, combat tends toward being a little too easy. Even when facing down the game’s enormous and terrible dragons, I was rarely worried that my avatar was in any real danger.

However, the lesser degree of difficulty affords one the opportunity to do something not always possible in role-playing games: develop a wide range of skills in multiple disciplines. Whenever side quests began seeming too easy I’d switch to a new kind of magic or a different class of weapon with which I had little experience, which served the dual purpose of making skirmishes a little more challenging while allowing me to grow my character in gratifying new ways. Consequently, my avatar has become proficient in wielding one- and two-handed weapons, can use a variety of magical spells and is a crack shot with a bow.

What’s more, managing the growth of these skills is a pleasure, thanks to a streamlined, intuitive and visually attractive menu system unlike that of any other RPG. For example, when you elect to enhance an avatar’s abilities the camera sweeps up to a star-filled Nordic sky, where players move between constellations and select points of light that represent specific skills (click here for a screenshot). It’s a lovely graphical flourish that makes sense within the context of the game’s mythology. Managing massive inventories, meanwhile, is made much more appealing thanks to three-dimensional object models that accompany each of the game’s thousands of collectible items. Players can rotate and inspect these models, marvelling at their detail and occasionally discovering features and inscriptions embedded on their surfaces that may be vital to completing quests.

Speaking of quests, Skyrim is filled to bursting with them. An old man in a shack asking us to follow in the footsteps of the Northern people’s proud hunters, an unhappy wife who want to punish her husband for being a drunk, a shopkeeper whose stock is being held up by a bureaucratic tariff officer – the type and scope of missions that players can undertake is nothing if not diverse.

And they’re all framed around a sweeping central narrative that begins with a dragon attack that destroys a city. The game’s primary plot concerns a rebellion against the province’s governing forces that takes place under the twin external threats of foreign invasion and the terrifying return of dragons. Players step into this volatile situation as a rare breed of human known as “dragonborn,” which means our avatars have the ability to slay dragons and steal their powerful, magical voices – an important strand of the story that develops in pleasing fashion as the tale progresses.

Bombarded with historical information in books, personal stories from hundreds of chatty non-player characters and persuasive arguments from key figures on both sides of the war, players are eventually forced to pick sides. It’s not an easy choice. There’s nothing so simplistic here as a morality meter by which we can judge the rightness or wrongness of our actions. Much like the real world, we have to make decisions based on what we know and what we believe. And sometimes we’ll learn that we’ve chosen badly.

This theme – that problems tend not to be black and white but are instead frustratingly grey – runs throughout the game. In my first visit to Solitude, one of Skyrim’s more prestigious cities, I stumbled upon an execution. Onlookers – including a young girl – were whispering about the sentenced man’s innocence, and I was left with the choice of attempting to physically stop the beheading or allowing it to proceed. Going against instinct, I allowed the head to roll – not because I thought it was the right thing to do, but simply because I didn’t have enough information about the situation and didn’t want to make enemies of the town guard. Even if I managed to successfully overpower the soldiers overseeing the execution I figured I’d eventually be caught and thrown in jail, where I’d waste time and lose progress in various skills I was developing. I’m still not sure if my failure to intervene was out of a respect for the rule of law or an act of voyeuristic cowardice.

Situations of this sort are the essence of the game’s flexible narrative, and, in the end, part of what makes the experience so compelling. However, while I savour any game that forces players to consider and later reflect on the meaning of their actions, this kind of dynamic, player-driven narrative has its weaknesses.

Since it’s up to us to advance plot threads as we see fit, the pacing of certain stories will suffer as players choose to pursue other quests. A mission that seems urgent when first discovered can be forgotten for days or weeks of game time until the player comes back to it and realizes that the lives of many of Skyrim’s citizens are effectively on pause between our interactions with them.

And, gifted as the game’s writers and designers may be, they can’t account for every decision a player makes. Players may occasionally encounter characters who “forget” to react with anger or praise depending on your in-game reputation, which, again, breaks the narrative spell.

As we said, these are problems common to the genre of open-world games, and most fans willingly overlook the few that arise. As for me, I just chalked up the continued goodwill of the old woman in whose health potion I pilfered (I accidentally pressed the wrong button, I swear) as a result of her failing eyesight and infirmity of mind.

And, in the grand scheme, such issues are relatively minor. With its unmatched free-to-roam world, brilliantly designed menus, gratifying combat and provocative narrative elements, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a monumental achievement in its genre and among the very best games of the year.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Windows PC

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Developer: Bethesda Softworks

ESRB: Mature

Score: 9.5/10


Super Deals To St. Kitts And Nevis

Source: www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott

(Nov 9, 2011) Waiting out a flight connection in an island airport doesn’t exactly count as ‘fun in the sun’, no matter how much you love the Caribbean. And since most of us can spare only a week’s vacation time for our getaways, non-stop flights have gone from being a nice perk to almost a necessity when it comes to holiday planning. Air Canada Vacations’ new destination for winter 2011/2012, St. Kitts & Nevis, comes with direct, weekly non-stop service on Air Canada starting Dec. 23, with sample rates that week including $989 per person for a seven night package at the three-star Timothy Beach Resort. The flights run through April 2012 and for each air, hotel and transfer package booked through Nov. 30, 2011 for travel Jan. 1 - March 31, 2012, ACV is offering 5,000 bonus Aeroplan miles. The St. Kitts line-up includes the St. Kitts Marriott & The Royal Beach Casino and Ottley’s Plantation Inn, both four star properties, as well as the Ocean Terrace Inn, Sugar Bay Club Suites & Hotel and the Bird Rock Beach Hotel. And on tiny, exclusive Nevis, there’s the Mount Nevis Hotel & Beach Club, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, among others. See www.aircanadavacations.com.


Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offers family-friendly sailings with discounted fares for younger passengers, to the tune of 50 per cent off for kids ages four through 18 when travelling with an adult. One itinerary sails the Rhone and Saone for an eight-day exploration of Burgundy and Provence, departing from Arles and visiting Avignon (with an optional kayak excursion on the Gardon River) and Lyon (with its open-air zoo). The other itinerary focuses on northern France, cruising from Paris along the Seine to Normandy. Both are available in July and August 2012 and cruise fares include all meals, shore excursions, onboard lectures and entertainment, plus free use of bicycles while on shore and airport transfers to and from the ship. See www.uniworldcruises.ca.


The Little Inn of Bayfield’s Wine & Dine series include five-course, five-wine dinners hosted by well-known winemakers and wine regions, including the Niagara-on-the-Lake Region (Nov. 19) and Henry of Pelham (Nov. 26). Combined with one night’s accommodation including breakfast, rates start at $405 per couple (or $272 per person). See www.littleinn.com.


A new deal from Viva Wyndham Resorts properties comes with fifth nights free plus an American Express Reward Card worth $100 (U.S.). Reservations must be made by Dec. 15 for travel through Dec. 31, with some black-out dates. See www.wyndham.com.


Sunquest: Sosua, air & hotel, $389 (+$374 taxes & fees) (Nov. 19). www.sunquest.ca

Air Canada Vacations: Four-night Paris, air & hotel, $599 (+$467 taxes & fees) (Dec. 2). www.aircanadavacations.com

Nolitours: Acapulco, air & hotel, $561 (+$343 taxes & fees) (Jan. 4). www.nolitours.com

Signature Vacations: Cayo Santa Maria, air & hotel, $495 (+$280 taxes & fees) (Jan. 8). www.signaturevacations.com

Transat Holidays: Lisbon, air & hotel, $769 (+$335 taxes & fees) (Dec. 13). www.transatholidays.com

Bel Air Travel: Eastern Caribbean cruise, $713 (+$88 taxes & fees) (Dec. 20). www.belairtravel.com

Sunwing Vacations: Santiago de Cuba, air & hotel, $265 (+$280 taxes & fees) (Dec. 1). www.sunwing.ca

Sell Off Vacations: Holguin, air & hotel, $308 (+$274 taxes & fees) (Nov. 25). www.selloffvacations.com

itravel2000: Four-night Nassau, air & hotel, $239 (+$276 taxes & fees) (Dec. 4). www.itravel2000.com

WestJet Vacations: Barbados, air & hotel, $819 (+$118 taxes) (Dec. 6). www.westjetvacations.com

Tour East Holidays: Eight-night China, air, hotel, meals, sightseeing, $1,699 (+$450 taxes & fees)

(Jan. 18 & March 8). www.toureast.com

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

Bahamas Two Ways: Frantic In Atlantis, Conked Out In Kamalame Cay

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Sarah Macwhirter

(Nov 13, 2011) Hot sun, a light breeze and a hammock at the edge of
the beach with only the waves as background noise.  That's a mom's dream.

But my 12-year-old daughter was picturing daredevil waterslides, a see-and-be-seen teen club and poolside chaises with music pounding through the loudspeakers.

Mother-daughter relationships are complicated enough, fraught with tension one moment, burbling with girlish happiness the next. Add a vacation into the mix, with wildly different dreams, and I couldn't help but wonder: Were we doomed to have a holiday from hell?

This would be the first island escape for both of us, so we decided to compromise: She'd get her adrenalin-spiking theme park, I'd get a quintessential flake-out.
Bahamas, here we come!

The law of diminishing returns

First stop, Atlantis.

About a year before our visit to this megaresort, the talk was non-stop: about the club, the amazing rides, the cool scene that no tween could live without. Secretly, I was dreading it, but can that many people be wrong?

Atlantis is everything you expect: a completely manufactured experience. You have to be in the mood. It's a gigantic waterpark with few but fantastic rides, big prices and ridiculously long lineups everywhere you go (the slides, the poolside bars and all the restaurants, even to get a locker for your bag when all the chaises lounges are used up).

You may be inclined to dislike Atlantis, especially after seeing Crush, the teen dance and gaming club that encourages your offspring to act like college hotties ordering mocktails through tabletop computer screens (they're not old enough to drink real cocktails, so let's pay to let them pretend!).

But you can't sidestep the fact that waterslides are fun. Especially when they start with a view over turquoise waters edged with sparkling white beach.

My advice: Start your day as early as possible, score a lounge chair for your bag (everyone leaves their stuff lying around) and get as many slides in as possible before the lines get too long. It's the law of diminishing returns. Then, when the length of the lines outweighs the enjoyment of the slides, slather the suntan lotion once again, get a pina colada (for mom) and float down the Lazy River. Have an early dinner (remember to make a reservation the night before - or head to Bimini Road restaurant at the marina for a lively dinner punctuated with loud song, steel drums and shakers) and get ready to do it all again.

Late on the afternoon before we left, I noticed we still hadn't felt the sand between our toes. I asked Alyanna if she wanted to walk on the beach. "No, Mum, let's wait till we get to the real Bahamas."

The law of attraction

Second stop, Kamalame Cay.

For the mom part of the journey, we unpacked our bags at Kamalame Cay on Andros Island. From the back veranda of Driftwood, our two-bedroom villa, it was 40 steps to the hammock (strung up between two palm trees), 60 steps to the chaise longue on the sand, 110 steps to feel the water lapping at your toes.

This was the Bahamas I needed.

When the weather was cool, Alyanna and I walked the beach, had hot tea and fresh cookies on the veranda, and bundled in a blanket in the hammock for a read.

On Sunday morning, the sun emerged and the waters calmed - perfect for snorkelling - but Alyanna was under the weather. We decided to go anyway, as Bahamas' Blue Holes are legendary in diving circles. I donned a mask, Aly took over photography duties from the boat, and I took the plunge.

For some reason, uncharacteristically, I felt afraid. So I stuck close to dive master Margaret - so close she must have thought I was more interested in her than the angelfish. We neared the blue hole and suddenly the colour I'd expected, the sense of mystery, was upon us. And the sense of danger in the open ocean. I could see why Hollywood director James Cameron wanted to be first to really explore the depths. And then the orange seaweed and the fish near the top of the hole began to swirl and twist in a kinetic dance - in a vortex, Margaret explained.

Now I'm more frightened by the blue hole. But we go back under. And suddenly Margaret is gesturing with excitement, pointing toward something large and grey and stealthy on the far side of the hole. I try following her - you just can't breaststroke in flippers -but now she's swimming with some urgency toward the boat. Holy mother of God! It's climate change in action! A predatory shark is where it shouldn't be and I'm going to get ripped to shreds while my daughter watches from the boat!

But Margaret curves right, slows her pace and surfaces. "Did you see that," she exclaims, her eyes bright with discovery. "It was a spotted eagle ray. I haven't seen one here in years. Wasn't it great?!"

I nod my head, sheepishly; I don't want to disappoint her. I decide to be more courageous and float toward the blue hole for one last, leisurely look. I see angelfish and a skinny colourful fish with giant myopic-looking eyes. I see a grey fish with lacy fanlike fins. I get excited, my heart rate slows, I'm embarrassed about my fear.

And Alyanna? She slept through it all, bobbing on the waves, her painted toes resting on the boat's edge.

Here at Kamalame, the wildlife is truly wild, the service is attentive and personable, and the conversion to green energy is quietly under way. The hot-water heaters, the pool pump and heating system and the roadside lights are run on solar power, and recycled vegetable oil is shipped in from Florida to take the place of diesel to run the generators.

That fuels a good vibe to store away while enjoying drinks and appetizers with the other guests before taking a table for dinner. Those moments in the Great House, mingling with the other guests, are a high point of the Kamalame experience. Our last night, as we all sat together - strangers only days before - a man got down on one knee, pulled out a diamond and proposed to his girlfriend, shocking her as much as the rest of us. She accepted, the corks popped and we all cheered. A few minutes later, newlyweds (married on the beach just hours before) came in to offer their congratulations.

The resort may need some small upgrades (new fixtures and spruced-up cupboards to start), but it was here we could truly unwind. Here we read, we cycled, we soaked up the sun, we raced through a rainstorm, we walked, we talked. We connected. We didn't argue. We just were.

The bottom line

While Alyanna packed, I sat on the back veranda, bundled in fluffy white towels as the waves, heavy with rainwater, pounded the surf. A hermit crab ambled in front of my toes and into the mist. The calm at Kamalame had prevailed; both Alyanna and I were really and truly relaxed.

As she had said the night before, "There's not that much to do here, but that makes it better. Atlantis tries be all real, but at Kamalame they don't have to try. Here, it's actually real."

Hermit crabs, lizards and all.

At Reef Atlantis, rooms start at around $360 a night. On Kamalame Cay, rooms start at $407 (U.S.) a night. For more information, visit atlantis.com [http://www.atlantis.com] and kamalame.com [http://www.kamalame.com].

Mother and daughter face off on each other's vacations

Mom made the sustainable choice, a small family-run resort on Andros Island. Her 12-year-old daughter had been dreaming of Atlantis. Here's what they thought of each


First impression

Mother: Oh my God, it's gigantic, and it's my job to learn the lay of the land to make the most of this. Wish me luck.

Daughter: People want travellers to feel at home. But I don't want to feel at home. I love it here!

The wildlife

M: I thought sharks never stopped moving, but I was wrong. Two sharks are lying motionless on the mucky glass tunnel we just slid through. Weird.

D: I felt bad for the sharks because their cage kinda sucks - but it was really fun.

The busy-ness factor

M: If I don't find somewhere to put our bag, I will scream. Or cry. Or both. Please can we walk down the beach to the One and Only Ocean Club?

D: Disney is good because they make it family-friendly, but at Atlantis there's too much going on to be family-friendly.

The food

M: The lineups! You definitely have to make a reservation or arrive early. Or, better yet, walk down the beach to chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Dune at the Ocean Club for Bahamian conch salad and the chicken-coconut milk soup.

D: Some of it was really good, but that restaurant with the giant aquarium? Awful!

Least-favourite moment

M: When the cruise-ship crowds arrived.

D: Getting separated.

Favourite moment

M: Gripping hands with a stranger on tubes at a split in the Lazy River like it was a life or death situation - and then, discovering that the Lazy River is that much better after a pina colada.

D: The Leap of Faith [waterslide]. It was awesome! And I really liked the dolphin experience.


First impression

Mother: It's so quiet! Is anyone else here?

Daughter: I like my room, and I like the cookies!

The wildlife

M: No-see-ums. You can't see them, but you'll suffer for weeks.

D: The hermit crabs are pretty cool, but don't step on them! They will eat you. ... And the little lizard stole my cheese. And then he gave it back - on my bed!

The busy-ness factor

M: Peace. I thought my body wouldn't remember how to truly relax.

D: You don't have to wait in line for everything you do here!

The food

M: A picnic basket outside our door in the morning with fruit, breads and a Thermos of hot coffee? Yes!

D: Good, but maybe it needs more selection.

Least-favourite moment

M: When the dark clouds rolled back in.

D: I don't really have a least favourite moment.

Favourite moment

M: Cycling at sunset.

D: Lazing in the hammock on the beach.


Get The Luxe Treatment In Beautiful Bali

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Si Si Penaloza

(Nov 2, 2011) With more strategically placed cabanas than any other seaside retreat I’ve visited in Bali, Amankila is a horizontally inclined hotel lover’s dream. With just 34 villas perched on a cliff overlooking Lombok Strait, it’s rare to see other guests on my “nap-hopping” rounds through this low-density haven.

The treatment

The spa’s signature Cita Ening (meaning “purification”) is the best all-around experience I’ve had in roughly 425 days of wellness travel. I consider three elements when judging top-tier spa destinations: the human asset (therapist), the physical asset (venue) and the research and development of the specific treatment. Finally, at Amankila, a trifecta: All three exceeded expectations. It begins with a welcome greeting with Ibu Ayu, a spa staff veteran here. She cradles my feet in a bowl of warm water and works in a crystal salt scrub with tamarind and lime. After cleansing the feet, she exfoliates my body with a Balinese rice and ginger scrub, prepping the skin for a rhythmic massage.

My belly gets the royal treatment, a red ginger and Indonesian tea tree masque, then, a special bosom cream of rice milk and honey. Once she has applied both, she wraps my torso and chest in gorgeous natural cotton. Spas either fear, ignore or adore the breast; at Amankila, an Aman Resort, the spa staff lather attention on male and female breasts. Angry, scarlet bra strap creases cease to exist as she massages left to right and then lays about half a cucumber salad on my face. The effect is instantly cooling, and before I can even sigh with pleasure she has reached into my hair with her fingers, massaging my scalp with house-made coconut hair cream. The Benefits

Created with plant essences sourced for their purity, potency and therapeutic quality, Aman’s spa elixirs are, for the chemically phobic, unparalleled by any synthetic-based serums. The most surprising, instantly visible benefit? If you’ve ever envied Salma Hayek’s lush mane, Aman’s coconut hair cream may bring you closer to her brand of crowning glory.

The spa

The remote retreat makes a gleeful first impression, with its dramatic cliffside stance, volcanic black sand beaches and rarefied air. Most of Aman’s guests are either high profile or deeply private, they’d rather not be directed around a whirlpool or tuck their belongings into – God forbid – a locker. My idea of spa luxury is not having to see anyone other than my therapist. And here that’s just what happens as sophisticated, multifaceted treatments are delivered wherever a guest fancies – in beachside cabanas, shaded coconut groves or on your private terrace at dusk. Spa therapists arrive with cool, leather-accented wicker baskets, carrying an impressive payload of feel-good formulas. Unlike many mobile concepts, it’s not a messy or disorganized affair, it’s pure magic. General manager Tracy Atherton puts a premium on flawless execution, from spa to kitchen. Amankila expresses itself like that coltish and coy co-ed with the best hair: calm, cool and collected at all times.

Amankila at Manggis, Bali, Indonesia; 011-800-2255-2626; amanresorts.com; 150 minutes for $200.

Special to The Globe and Mail


UFC Proves It’s Here To Stay

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Bruce Dowbiggin

(Nov 13, 2011) Las Vegas — Joe Frazier’s death last week did not mark
the demise of boxing. That awaits the passing of his legendary adversary Muhammad Ali. Outside of Manny Pacquiao, who won a controversial decision here Saturday night, the sweet science now leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.

If the sport experienced a hinge moment in its long history, it probably occurred Saturday night. Even as Pacquiao escaped with a narrow victory over Juan Marquez at the MGM Grand, Fox TV was debuting its first United States network telecast of
Ultimate Fighting Championship. Where the televised Friday Night Fights once created a generation of boxing fans, today there is virtually no live boxing on network TV. Outside of pay per view, the sport – and its few remaining assets such as Pacquiao – have missed on the possibilities of multi-platform universe.

Not so UFC and its ubiquitous boss/huckster Dana White. Aiming for the wired generation, White married the spectacle of World Wrestling Entertainment with the graphic violence of video games. Voila: the octagon, buckets of blood, martial arts, the thrill of the gladiator. White’s media strategy began modestly enough with fight cards on cable networks such as Spike, The Score and Sportsnet. Unlike boxing, he didn’t hide his top tier of fighters, such as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva, out of reach on pay per view. Their exploits were easily accessible.

The gradual inroads White made on TV had the added effect of winning approval from regulatory bodies in squeamish places such as Ontario. The children of Boomers adopted the sport as their own. For helicopter parents, it was important that they understand and bond with their kids on a sport they mostly regard as barbarous.

Saturday night was the end-game made real for White as Fox, never a network to let questionable taste get in the way of a good time, brought mixed martial arts out of the fringes and into the network spotlight. Still, Fox Sports president Eric Shanks was taking no chances on making the sport too cool for the room when he told USA Today that “We have to make sure it’s being produced for Martians.”

There are no Nielsen overnight ratings from Mars as yet to gauge interest in the galaxy, but for those confined to earth, the Fox presentation was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the TV template we’ve seen before from UFC. Lots of shouting, selling and grotesque cauliflower ears. Plus, Fox NFL anchor Curt Menefee.

Rarely sticklers for journalistic purity, Fox used White himself as an analyst (Imagine Gary Bettman as the star of Coach’s Corner). Even as the main card tanked with headliner Cain Velasquez succumbing in just 64 seconds to challenger Junior Dos Santos, White and co-analyst Brock Lesnar kept pitching the gospel. White savaged Velasquez’s passivity. “I don’t understand why Cain wouldn’t go in for the shot, pressure him and not stay in his range. But what the hell am I? I’m not anybody’s coach or trainer.”

Right. Resistance is futile. UFC is here to stay. Or, as our mother used to say, until somebody loses an eye.

When NHL COO John Collins came to the league from NFL Films, the goal was clear. Create a production arm for hockey that would emulate the myth-making that NFL Films had done since its creation in the 1960s. So it came as no surprise this week when the NHL announced NHL Original Productions, an initiative to create long-form documentaries in conjunction with executive producer Ross Greenburg, the man responsible for HBO’s 24/7 and Broad Street Bullies.

“We think this will let us to do more story-telling,” Collins tells Usual Suspects. “And we hope it brings our fans further inside the game by delivering intimate portraits of our stars through Player Diaries. Ross has shown in 24/7 and Broad Street Bullies that he can do that better than anyone.”

Greenburg is anxious to get going, with a series on the 1972 Summit Series going in January and a 10-part series of Player Diaries that will follow stars everywhere for a 24-hour period. “We all got a taste last year of what great material we have with 24/7,” Greenburg explained. “The NHL has the right attitude about granting access behind the scenes to create these films.”

Greenburg hopes that the ’72 Summit Series doc will defuse some of the Canadian complaints that the NHL’s production wing is aimed is aimed only at the American, not Canadian, fan. “We’ll also be looking at stories on both sides of the border for our Diaries series,” he says.

Greenburg also produced the famed When It Was A Game baseball documentaries, using private film thought lost for generations. He’s hoping to do the same for hockey history, going into the public’s attics and basements to create a personal history of the times in hockey. “We’d love to build a vault of great footage the way NFL Films has done in football, to describe the history of the sport. We know the material is out there. We just have to find it.”

Spotlight On Canadian Big Man Intensifies

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Ray Bala

(Nov 14, 2011) When
Andrew Nicholson talks about being a preseason nominee for the prestigious John R. Wooden Award, you get the impression it’s something that happened accidentally.

While most players would be excited to be recognized as one of U.S. college basketball’s elite players, Nicholson, entering his senior season at St. Bonaventure University, says modestly it was nice to be on the list, adding his family was more excited about the news than he was.

“The accolades are just accolades. I just work to win,” the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward said last month. “There’s five guys on the court. It’s not like it’s 5-on-1.”

And anyone who knows the Mississauga native well enough will say the same thing: That’s just Andrew being Andrew.

“All the recognition hasn’t gone to his head,” St. Bonaventure Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt says. “His game’s improved but he’s still the same Andrew.”

By all accounts, Nicholson has every reason to gloat.

Lightly recruited coming out of Father Michael Goetz Secondary School, he has steadily blossomed since arriving at the Western New York school, which plays in the strong Atlantic 10 conference.

He was named the conference’s top freshman player, a second-team all-star as a sophomore and cracked the first-team all-star squad last season. He’s now considered one of the best frontcourt players in the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association and a potential first-round NBA selection. (ESPN draft guru Chad Ford currently has Nicholson rated No. 29 on his list of 2012 draft prospects.)

Nicholson’s rise has also helped to elevate a once-floundering Bonnies men’s basketball program. Once a perennial cellar-dweller, the team has averaged 15 wins during his three years on campus.

Last year, the Bonnies made a postseason appearance (albeit in the College Basketball Invitational tournament) for the first time in a decade, led by their Canadian star, who averaged a league-best 20.8 points per game and 57.1-per-cent field-goal percentage despite facing constant double and triple teams.

Nicholson, 21, is currently tied with Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Bob Lanier as the school’s leader in career field-goal percentage (57.6).

“He’s one of the main reasons why we’ve gotten better,” Schmidt says. “He’s been here four years, and really worked hard to help elevate the program. You always want a guy in the middle that you can go to and he certainly is that.”

Expectations are even higher heading into his senior season. The league’s coaches voted the Bonnies to finish fourth in a preseason poll, and Nicholson is once again expected to lead the way. In early October, the school unveiled a website (AndrewNicholson44.com) dedicated to promoting its all-America candidate through his senior year and beyond.

In a season-opening 79-58 win over Cornell last Friday, Nicholson led all scorers with 24 points, including a 10-for-10 performance from the free-throw line, and grabbed five rebounds.

The Bonnies boss has long likened Nicholson to two-time NBA all-star David West, a player Schmidt helped develop as an assistant at Xavier University. He says their growth as players and paths to college success almost mirror each other. But despite all the attention Nicholson has recently received, he’s the same humble guy that stepped onto campus in 2008.

“None of that stuff fazes him at all,” Schmidt says. “I would assume he’s proud of those accomplishments but he doesn’t act any differently. I think those accolades have really driven him even harder to be a better player than he could be. He’s a very humble kid and doesn’t take any of this stuff too seriously.”

While the NBA buzz continues to grow, Nicholson, a physics major, is setting his sights on a more immediate goal: a good season for his team.

“I have thought about [my future] but I’m just focused on what I’m doing now,” he says. “I feel if I focus more on that, it will flow over into what I can achieve after. If I can do well here, then I’ll do well then.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

With a file from The Associated Press

Belfour's Road To Hall Of Fame Inspired By Tretiak

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Robert Macleod

(Nov 13, 2011) Ed Belfour would have only been 7 when Vladislav
Tretiak became a household name in Canada with his superlative performance in the historic Summit Series in 1972.

Growing up in Carman, Man., when the neighbourhood kids would gather for exuberant games of pick-up hockey, more often than not Belfour would assume the persona of the great Russian netminder.

"Vladislav was one of my childhood heroes," Belfour said. "Growing up in Canada playing for the Stanley Cup on the street every day, everyone wanted to be ... Tony Esposito or Vladislav Tretiak."

It could be said that Belfour took that infatuation to the extreme, rising to become one of the great National Hockey League goaltenders of his generation.

Belfour, now 46, was among four players who were inducted into the
Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday night.

Belfour was joined by Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Howe as the other former players to be welcomed into the Hall with Howe joining his father, Gordie, as the fourth father-and-son pair so honoured.

"It is hard to put into words what this means to me," said Belfour.

Nieuwendyk won Stanley Cups with the Calgary Flames, the Dallas Stars and the New Jersey Devils during a career that spanned 20 years.

Surprisingly, the Whitby, Ont., native said playing one season with the Leafs in 2003-04 was what stood out for him.

"Growing up 40 minutes down the road here in Whitby it was probably the highlight of my career," said Nieuwendyk, now the general manager in Dallas. "And I say that with all sincerity.

"Growing up a Leaf fan, Borje Salming and Lanny McDonald, that's why this weekend has been so special."

Earlier in the day the four inductees received their member rings at the Hall, an event that the laid-back Belfour said he had to buy a suit for.

"I'm more of a country guy now," said Belfour, who bears a striking resemblance to Hollywood actor Russell Crowe. "I wear my plaid shirts and jeans and cowboy boots still."

When attired in the comfort of his goaltending equipment during his playing days, you'd be hard pressed to find a goaltender who played with more desire and athleticism than Belfour.

Belfour played from 1988 to 2007, winning a Stanley Cup in 1999 as a member of the Dallas Stars. A two-time Vezina trophy winner as the league's top goalie, Belfour also won a gold medal representing Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Over the course of his career, Belfour played 963 NHL games, winning 484 (third on the NHL's all-time list) with a 2.50 goals-against average.

On his website, Belfour lists Tretiak as one of the most influential people of his life and he got the opportunity to meet the Russian in person prior to the start of the 1990-91 NHL season when Belfour was in his second NHL season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

That was when Belfour learned that Chicago coach and general manager Mike Keenan had hired Tretiak to become the team's goalie coach - even though the Russian couldn't speak a lick of English.

"We had an interpreter but through body language I knew what he wanted me to do," Belfour said. "He'd put the pads on and go out on the ice with us.

"In fact, he had the pads on in practice one day and nobody could score on him. And Keenan wanted to start him. But he turned it down and said this is Eddie's time. I'm still thankful for that, too."

Eskimos Take Charge In West Semi

Source: www.thestar.com - Dean Bennett

(Nov 13, 2011) EDMONTON—The
Edmonton Eskimos punched their ticket to the CFL West Division final by capitalizing on a bizarre turnover Sunday to beat the Calgary Stampeders 33-19.

Eskimo linebacker Damaso Munoz said he couldn’t believe his eyes when Calgary quarterback Drew Tate, with the Stampeders up 8-3 in the second quarter and threatening to score again, just dropped the ball as he prepared to throw it.

Munoz scooped it up and rumbled 77 yards for a touchdown to give the Eskimos a lead they would never relinquish.

“Up front they were getting after Tate, putting all that pressure on him, and we got him rattled early, man” said Munoz. “He just dropped the ball and I just picked it up and I took it in for the score.”

He said that was the turning point in the West semi-final, played before 30,183 fans on a chilly afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium.

“We took the breath out of them on that play. We kept the momentum
and we got the W.”

Tate, speaking to reporters as he left the field, agreed.

“If I don’t fumble we probably win this game — bottom line,” he said.

The Eskimos will travel to Vancouver next Sunday to play the B.C. Lions for the right to represent the West in the Grey Cup.

The Eskimos rolled to a 25-9 halftime lead and then the defence took over, holding the Stampeders to three field goals and a single in the second half to seal the victory.

“I can truly say that our defence stepped up to the plate tonight,” said Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed.

The win spoiled Tate’s playoff debut.

The 27-year-old Texan was starting in his first CFL post-season game after taking over from starter Henry Burris with three games left in the regular season.

He completed five passes on 10 attempts with one interception before being pulled for Burris at the start of the second half.

“We changed quarterbacks to try to change some momentum on offence,” said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel.

“We just weren’t making plays, a mixture of protection breaking down a bit, a bad throw, things you can’t do against a good football team and still win.”

The first 30 minutes told the tale.

Edmonton took an early 3-1 lead but Calgary answered back late in the first quarter on a four-play, 78-yard drive that was ignited by a perfect 58-yard strike from Tate to a streaking Romby Bryant.

The Stamps then ran running back Jon Cornish up the middle on three straight plays for nine yards, six yards and then finally five yards as he rumbled into the end zone standing up.

The drive seemed to deflate the Eskimos.

On the ensuing drive, quarterback Ricky Ray was sacked twice before Edmonton punted.

The Stamps then took over from their 32 and, with two long runs from Cornish, were deep in Edmonton territory threatening to score again with 11 minutes to go in the half.

Tate took the snap from centre. But as he switched the ball to his throwing hand, he fumbled it, leading to the Munoz score.

The Eskimos padded the lead five minutes later on a five-play, 94-yard drive that was sparked by 56-yard catch-and-run from Ray to receiver Adarius Bowman.

On the play, Bowman caught a swing pass and appeared to be caught for no yards. But instead of wrapping him up, Calgary defensive back Brandon Smith dove weakly at Bowman’s ankles, barely touching him, springing him free for the long run.

On the next play, running back Jerome Messam ran seven yards untouched over the goal line to extend the lead to 18-8.

Bowman said he felt something on his foot, brushed it off and ran to daylight.

“I felt the guy grabbing the ankles but he didn’t take me down and my receivers were up blocking,” said Bowman. “It was a great play.”

Edmonton added one more major as time expired in the half on a drive that had stalled at midfield, but gained new life when Stampeder Junior Turner ran into punter Damon Duval for a penalty.

That resulted in an Edmonton first down.

The Eskimos then marched down the field, collecting three first downs. With just seconds to go on the play clock, Ray threw a four-yard pass to receiver Jason Barnes for the major to extend the lead.

Ray was 14-of-17 for 217 yards and one touchdown.

Calgary was poised to make a game of it midway through the fourth quarter.

They were on Edmonton’s 16, but the drive stalled when Burris threw a strike to an uncovered Nik Lewis on the goal line only to have the ball slip through Lewis’s hands, bounce off his chest and hit the turf.

Calgary had to settle for a 23-yard Rene Paredes field goal and never threatened again.

Edmonton kept Calgary’s big guns in check. Cornish ran for 86 yards on eight rushes while receiver Lewis had one catch for 17 yards.

Lewis came up limping after taking a helmet to the knee from Eskimo defensive back Weldon Brown in the first half and appeared to be hampered by it for the rest of the game.

The Stamps returned the favour as time ran out in the third quarter.

Messam caught a swing pass only to have Calgary defensive back Demetrice Morley dive in and spear his knee with his helmet, sending him cartwheeling to the turf. Messam stayed down, grimacing in pain, and didn’t return to the game.

Messam said his knee will be evaluated Monday to see if he can play against the Lions.

It was the Green and Gold’s first home playoff game in seven years.

The Eskimos missed the playoffs in 2010 but finished second in the West in the regular season this year with an 11-7 record.

The Stamps also finished the regular season at 11-7 but Edmonton beat them two out of three games in the regular season to capture the tiebreaker.

Ticats Stun Alouettes in OT

Source: www.thestar.com - Bill Beacon

(Nov 13, 2011) MONTREAL—The
Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ decade of playoff frustration is over, and so is the Alouettes’ reign as Grey Cup champion.

Quinton Porter ran in from the one-yard line for a touchdown in overtime and the Tiger-Cats’ defence stoned the Alouettes as Hamilton won a thrilling CFL East Division semi-final 52-44 on Sunday.

It was the Ticats’ first playoff victory since they beat Montreal in the 2001 semi-final. They will face the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg in the East final next Sunday.

“I’m excited for us to go through what we went through and still win. It shows a lot about the team we are,” said quarterback Kevin Glenn, who came back from a nasty hit in the third quarter to guide his team through a wild 38-point fourth.

“We get knocked down but we get back up. That’s what we’re about.”

The Ticats, who ended a 13-game losing streak in games played in Montreal dating to 2002, are attempting to become the first third-place team in the East to win a Grey Cup since Montreal in 1970.

The Alouettes didn’t go quietly, erasing Hamilton’s 24-16 halftime lead with a ferocious fourth quarter in which they fought back to tie three times, forcing overtime and sending the Olympic Stadium crowd of 33,501 into a frenzy.

Anthony Calvillo, who set the CFL’s all-time passing yards record late in the regular season, was hot, completing 30 passes for 513 yards and three TDs. But he couldn’t get his team into the end zone in OT. Brandon Whitaker had a ball go off his fingertips on third and two to end the game.

“Hamilton played a terrific game,” said Montreal coach Marc Trestman. “They were persistent. They kept coming at us.”

Running back Avon Cobourne came back to haunt his former team. His 46-yard TD run late in the fourth briefly put Hamilton into the lead before Calvillo’s 44-yard TD pass to S.J. Green tied the game with 1:37 left in regulation time.

Hamilton had a chance to win it on the final play, but Justin Medlock’s 53-yard field goal attempt failed.

There was no gloating from Cobourne, who picked up 97 yards on 14 carries.

“I don’t know if it was to beat this team. It’s about winning the Grey Cup,” said Cobourne. “It just happens that they were in our division and in our way. So be it. We’re one step closer to getting what we want.

“They’re a great team, but their time is over. I respect them, but our team is better. Just flat out.”

The Alouettes have been to the last three Grey Cups under Trestman, winning the last two, but they struggled to a 10-8 record this season after a run of injuries that left them with only one of their five starters in the defensive backfield.

They finished with four straight losses, including a 43-1 defeat in the final regular season game in Vancouver. Then they gave up 44 points in regulation time to Hamilton.

“In a game like this you can’t (give up) big plays,” said veteran rush end Anwar Stewart. “You’ve got to give everything you can and be accountable. We let a lot of guys loose defensively. We didn’t make the plays we needed to.”

The Hamilton defence was sharp in the first half, led by linebacker Jamall Johnson who returned from an injury to recover a fumble and make an interception that produced 10 points.

After Whyte opened the scoring, the Ticats struck back with a 50-yard TD run by Marcus Thigpen 8:29 into the game.

Johnson then stripped the ball from Calvillo and recovered himself at Montreal 23 to set up a Justin Medlock field goal.

The Alouettes stormed back with a Sean Whyte field goal and a pair of long passes to Brian Bratton that set up Whitaker’s two-yard TD plunge 7:51 into the second quarter.

Glenn answered with an eight-play 75-yard drive capped by a 29-yard TD pass to Bakari Grant.

Calvillo was bumped and his wobbly pass went to Johnson for a 75-yard interception return to the Montreal four-yard line. Porter came in to hit Chris Williams in the end zone and Montreal marched back for a field goal as the first half closed.

Adrian McPherson, the Alouettes’ backup QB, was in to score on a one-yard plunge to finish a nine-play drive for Montreal in the third quarter.

That set up a wild fourth quarter in which, on the next play after Medlock’s third field goal of the game, Eric Deslauriers was left alone behind the Hamilton defence for a 75-yard catch and run TD.

Hamilton came straight back with a drive that saw Glenn injured and Porter come in to finish by scoring himself from the one. But Calvillo struck back with a 14-yard TD pass to Jamel Richardson only to have Cobourne answer with his 46-yard TD run and Montreal to tie it again on a 44-yard pass to S.J. Green.

“I kept talking about the ebbs and flows and not getting down and I was heeding my own words there,” said Ticats coach Marcel Bellefeuille. “We had to stay positive right into overtime.”

Glenn hit Grant at Montreal’s four-yard line on the first play of overtime to set up the score for Porter, while Brandon Whitaker could not hang on to a third-and-two pass on Montreal’s overtime possession.

Glenn left the game after two hits on the same play late in the third quarter but was back in on Hamilton’s next possession looking none the worse for wear.

“I won’t say it was deliberate,” said Glenn. “When I went off, one of their guys came over and said ‘I hope you’re all right,’ so . . .”

Bellefeuille alternated starts between Glenn and Porter down the stretch and it paid off as Glenn was solid from the start while completing 23 passes for 275 and throwing only one harmless interception. And Porter was able to lead a TD drive when Glenn was out of the game.

“If the first guy gets knocked out or is struggling, we have a guy who can go in and still move the football,” said Glenn. “I’ll be the first to tell you that you need two quarterbacks in this league to be successful.

“It goes back to what we did during the season, going back and forth. That’s helped.”

Glenn’s coach agreed with him.

“It was a gutsy performance,” said Bellefeuille. “Kevin played well. He took a hilarious hit and came back. He saw the field well and he was accurate.”

The top Ticat receiver was Grant with seven catches for 13 yards, while Green caught eight for 142 yards for Montreal.

The 19-year veteran Calvillo was asked about his future after the game and said he will discuss it with his wife, as he has done at the end of each of the last several seasons, and see if he wants to come back in 2012.

NBA Players Reject Owner's Offer

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Nov 13, 2011) The
NBA players rejected the league's latest offer Monday and have begun the process to disband the union.

The decision likely jeopardizes the season.

"We're prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA," union executive director Billy Hunter said. "That's the best situation where players can get their due process."

He said players were not prepared to accept the NBA commissioner David Stern's ultimatum, saying they thought it was "extremely unfair."

"This is the best decision for the players," union president Derek Fisher said. "I want to reiterate that point, that a lot of individual players have a lot of things personally at stake in terms of their careers and where they stand. And right now they feel it's important - we all feel it's important to all our players, not just the ones in this room, but our entire group - that we not only try to get a deal done for today but for the body of NBA players that will come into this league over the next decade and beyond."

Fisher, flanked at a press conference by dozens of players including Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, said the decision was unanimous.

Stern had urged players to take the deal on the table, saying it's the best the NBA can offer and warned that decertification is not a winning strategy.

Over the weekend, he also said he would not cancel the season this week.

Regardless, damage has already been done, in many ways.

Financially, both sides have lost hundreds of millions because of the games missed and the countless more that will be wiped out before play resumes. Team employees are losing money, and in some cases, jobs. And both the NBA and NBPA eventually must regain the loyalty of an angered fan base that wonders how the league reached this low point after such a strong 2010-11 season.

The proposal rejected by the players called for a 50-50 division of basketball-related income and proposed a 72-game season beginning Dec. 15.

On Sunday, the league made a very public push on the positives of the deal - hosting a 90-minute Twitter chat to answer questions from players and fans, posting a YouTube video to explain the key points and sending a memo from Stern to players urging them to "study our proposal carefully, and to accept it as a fair compromise of the issues between us."

In the memo, posted on the league's website, Stern highlighted points of the deal and asked players to focus on the compromises the league made during negotiations, such as dropping its demands for a hard salary cap, non-guaranteed contracts and salary rollbacks.

Union officials repeatedly have said the system issues are perhaps more important to them than the split of basketball-related income, but owners say they need fundamental changes in both to allow for a chance to profit and to ensure more competitive balance throughout the league.

The previous CBA expired at the end of the day June 30. Despite a series of meetings in June, there was never much hope of a deal before that deadline, with owners wanting significant changes after saying they lost US$300 million last season and hundreds of millions more in each year of the old agreement, which was ratified in 2005.

Owners wanted to keep more of the league's nearly $4-billion in basketball revenues to themselves after guaranteeing 57 per cent to the players under the old deal. And they sought a system where even the smallest-market clubs could compete, believing the current system would always favour the teams who could spend the most.

Monday marked the 137th day of the lockout; this year's NFL lockout lasted 136 days.

NHL Set To Unload Or Move Coyotes

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(Nov 14, 2011) This time next year, the NHL will no longer own a franchise in Arizona.

Phoenix Coyotes, in town to face the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, could still exist by then. But senior league sources made it clear on Monday that this is the last season the league will own and operate the Coyotes after two years of stalled and cancelled sales.

“The clock runs out this year,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

That’s the only deadline left. This time around, the Bettman administration isn’t bothering to set any other potential deadlines, having seen so many come and go in recent years, including last year when Matthew Hulsizer seemed close to buying the club but ultimately found the aggressive Goldwater Institute impossible to appease and decided purchasing the St. Louis Blues was more to his liking.

There are two ownership groups remaining, one headed by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the other by former San Jose Sharks exec Greg Jamison, that have already been pre-approved by the league, but neither has consummated a sale. Two other groups have indicated interest, but neither has gone public.

At this point, those familiar with the sales process estimate there is only a “50/50” chance of the Coyotes finding a buyer to keep the team in Glendale, and suggest that’s less than was the case a year ago.

There’s no sign the situation is improving under NHL ownership. In fact, Coyotes’ crowds are down almost 20 per cent from the first year the NHL owned the team, hardly a sign of progress or faith in the remarkable job done by Don Maloney and Dave Tippett to produce a team that has made the playoffs the past two springs and are on track to do so again this season.

Making matters worse is that corporate sponsors are, understandably, disinclined to commit to deals with the team.

With the NHL set to realign its divisions next month after the logistically awkward move of the Atlanta Thrashers last spring left the Winnipeg Jets playing in the Eastern Conference this season, the NHL will want to do things a little more cleanly this time around if the Coyotes must move.

Right now, the only firm deadline the Coyotes are facing is Dec. 1, the date by which holdout centre Kyle Turris must be signed to an NHL contract or be ineligible to play the rest of the season. In terms of the franchise, the “clock” will strike midnight in early March at the latest if no purchaser is found to keep the Coyotes where they are.

Then the frantic relocation frenzy will begin.

Quebec City is the obvious choice, particularly after Winnipeg proved the NHL will move back into Canadian markets if it has to. Many would push for southern Ontario, but one wonders how the league would explain this to its governors after initially buying the club in order to stop it moving to the region.

In Atlanta, a collapsing ownership group essentially took the decision of moving the team and the timetable for the move out of the hands of the NHL. The league, as the owner of the Coyotes, can more actively assert control this time around, and direct the sale to the city it prefers.

As well, the season ticket guarantees that Winnipeg met now represent a template for any other franchise moves.

So while the NHL was all but helpless, in the final analysis, to manipulate and direct the sale of the Thrashers, thereby moving back to a city that immediately became the league’s smallest market, it will have far more control if the Coyotes are to be moved.

League governors will be updated on the Phoenix situation next month at their meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif. With realignment on the agenda, governors will want assurances that they won’t have to do it all over again in 12 months, and will want to see a contingency plan if the Coyotes must move.

Glendale city council coughed up another $25 million (U.S.) in May to contribute to this season’s operation of the Coyotes, but the NHL won’t go back to do another similar deal if a new owner in Arizona isn’t found. Right now, both the Reinsdorf and Jamison groups have very different, tentative deals arranged with Glendale politicians.

The Coyotes aren’t the only NHL hot spot at the moment. Dallas has the lowest attendance in the league and may be bought at a bankruptcy auction in two weeks by Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi. Columbus, with the worst record in the league, is having attendance problems, and there’s the ongoing imbroglio on Long Island between Islanders owner Charles Wang and local politicians over a new arena.

So there’s good reasons for the NHL to settle the Phoenix mess once and for all. By next fall, it expects to be out of the franchise ownership business.


Bonhomme Beats Boys In Battle Of Blades

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Nov 14, 2011) She said she was going to kick the guys' butts and she wasn't kidding. Canadian Olympian Tessa Bonhomme won Season 3 of Battle of the Blades with Olympic pairs skating champ David Pelletier. Bonhomme, who was part of the national women's hockey team that won gold at the Vancouver Olympics, was the first female hockey player to take part in the CBC reality show, which pairs hockey players with figure skaters. Bonhomme and Pelletier won $100,000 for charity. The runners-up were former NHL player Bryan Berard and Marie-France Dubreuil, and Boyd Devereaux and Tanith Belbin. See www.thestar.blogs.com/realitycheck for more details.