20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                     (416) 677-5883
                                                                                                                                                  langfieldent@rogers.com
                                                                                                                                    www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

November 3, 2011

Beautiful time of year - the chill in the air but before all the snow ... and it's
also the switch to daylight savings time so don't forget to TURN YOUR CLOCKS back on Saturday night!

We can never say that there isn't great entertainment happening in this city! Tomorrow night, Friday is
FOR A LIVING PLANET (featuring, amongst others, Jully Black) in support of World Wildlife Fund Canada with an amazing talent line-up; and the second is Peter Furler and Special Guests Canadian Christmas Tour in support of World Vision Canada.  Another great line-up so check them both out under HOT EVENTS!

The Wailers are coming to Toronto on Saturday, November 19th!  With special guests Divine Brownand Duane Stephenson, you'll want to get your tickets now for a night of amazing live music - check out the video for what's in store! Get all the details under HOT EVENTS!

This week's news features scoop on the passing of the
Pan Am Games to Toronto, a Jack Layton song, Chromeo's success and the World Series won by the St. Louis Cardinals. Check it out under TOP STORIES.

::HOT EVENTS::

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

Source: Full Capacity Concerts

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2011
FOR A LIVING PLANET
FEATURING 54*40, JULLY BLACK AND HAWKSLEY WORKMAN

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

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

Source: Full Capacity Concerts and Live Nation Entertainment

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

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



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

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

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

About Divine Brown:

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

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

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

www.divinebrown.ca

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.  

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19
THE WAILERS
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS DIVINE BROWN AND DUANE STEPHENSON
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+
MAP HERE

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

Source: Full Capacity Concerts

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2011
FOR A LIVING PLANET
FEATURING 54*40, JULLY BLACK AND HAWKSLEY WORKMAN

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

::TOP STORIES::

Mexico Passes Pan Am Torch To Toronto

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Tamara Baluja

(Oct 30, 2011) After much speculation over whether he would go or not, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford did in fact fly to Guadalajara, Mexico, and accepted the Pan American Games flag at the closing ceremonies on Sunday. With the traditional handover between host cities now complete, the countdown to Toronto's 2015 Pan Am Games officially begins.

The Toronto organizing committee, TO2015, had about two dozen officials in Guadalajara for the Games, to study best practices, and learn from its mistakes. The team also had an eight-minute window at last night's closing ceremonies to make a pitch to the world that Toronto's Pan Am Games will be spectacular. The tougher challenge might be creating that enthusiasm back in Ontario.

The capital budget for the Games is $700-million, and TO2015 estimates the Games will generate 15,000 new jobs and draw 10,000 elite athletes and officials to the city for the July event.

37 per cent of Torontonians can name the Pan Am Games as a major sporting event coming to the city, according to an Angus Reid survey done for TO2015. It's a figure that indicates a lot more work needs to be done to create interest in the Games, said Ian Troop, CEO of TO2015, in a phone interview from Guadalajara.

His team, he said, will be concentrating on four key areas over the next few next years to boost the event's profile.

The Venues

The organizing committee says it is on track to complete facilities by 2014, so there is time for rigorous testing to ensure the facilities are at international sporting standards. However most new facilities don't even have builders yet. The hunt for a home for a new cycling velodrome hit a snag in October when Hamilton city council voted to cap the city's commitment at $5-million. (It had been asked to commit four times as much.) Currently, TO2015 is looking at proposals from other municipalities, and although Mr. Troop wouldn't reveal any site possibilities, he said he is optimistic a venue would be selected by the end of the year. He estimated that construction would take a year after shovels hit the ground. Meanwhile, a bidder has been selected for the Pan Am Athletes Village in the West Don Lands.

Local engagement

According to surveys by Angus Reid, only 8 per cent of Canadians named the Pan Am Games as a major sporting event without prompting. The Toronto figures were slightly better with 37 per cent of Torontonians identifying the Pan Am Games. That's an improvement from last year when only 10 per cent identified the Pan Am Games, Mr. Troop said, but it's still a long way from his 85 per cent goal. He said he was awed by the enthusiasm of Mexican crowds. "When Mexico was playing, it was absolute bedlam," he said. "But the crowds were excited and supportive even when the other countries were playing." He feels the city's diversity will prompt fans to support not only the Canadian teams, but also other competing national teams. The group also plans to bring Canadian athletes to elementary schools to boost the profile of the Games amongst youth.

Corporate sponsorship

TO2015 has a target of $150-million in corporate sponsors, and last week, the committee announced CIBC as its first lead partner. Although he won't say how much CIBC is committing to the event, he said he takes comfort in the fact that Toronto has the same proportion of its target achieved as the Vancouver Olympic committee had four years before the 2010 Games. The announcement of CIBC, and the partnership with another high profile sponsor which the TO2015 group will reveal in the coming weeks, will raise the profile of the Games and bring in more sponsors, said Mr. Troop.

Olympic Qualifiers

Mr. Troop said his team has been extensively wooing international sporting federations in a bid to get as many sport disciplines at the Games to be the Olympic qualifier events for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. While the Guadalajara games functioned as Olympic qualifier for a dozen sports, TO2015 would like to almost double that number. If successful in securing their ambitious goal of 20 Olympic qualifiers, TO2015 would set a new standard for the Pan Am Games, Mr. Troop said. Elite athletes are more likely to come to the Toronto Games if their event is an Olympic qualifier, and Mr. Troop said the Pan Am Games would also act as dress rehearsal, should the city make another attempt at an Olympic bid.

Raffi Puts Jack Layton’s Last Letter To Song

Source: www.thestar.com - By Paul Irish

(Oct 27, 2011) Singer and child entertainer Raffi was so inspired by the late NDP leader Jack Layton’s struggle with cancer, his beliefs and his values that he has immortalized him in a song.

LISTEN TO SONG

The words come from the politician’s “letter to Canadians” his family released the day he died. The chorus is: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Titled Letter to a Nation, Raffi told the Star that Layton was an example of a man with true spirit and selflessness.

“I’m not political and, no, I never met the man, but he certainly caught my attention,” said Raffi. “Here he is struggling with cancer and his life, but he’s not thinking about himself, he’s telling his fellow Canadians that life is wonderful and that — yes — we can change the world.”

Raffi said he started writing the song — with the support of the late politician’s wife, Olivia Chow — after reading the open letter with its strong message of optimism.

The performer said he won’t be making any money on the recording that was released Thursday (it’s available as a free download at childhonouring.org) and that it’s something he wants to share with all Canadians.

“It’s a message for all Canadians no matter what party you belong to or your beliefs,” Raffi said. “His message transcends politics.”

Chow, MP for Trinity-Spadina, said the song is beautiful and befitting of her late husband.

Raffi is all about children and so was Jack, he loved kids,” she said. “And the song being free for everyone well, that’s just perfect.”

She said her husband loved music and had his Grade 8 piano.

“There are five guitars in the house and he even had one when he was campaigning,” she said. “He was always playing.”

On his website, Raffi said he was deeply affected by the likeable politician’s death.

“In his last letter to Canadians, Jack Layton expressed a spirit of cooperation and positivity that resonated strongly with me and many Canadians. This message was so widely shared immediately after his passing, I wanted to capture its wisdom in song to help us remember,” he said. “Layton’s last word gave Canada a historic moment. His message of love, hope and optimism transcend politics — these are enduring values for young and old to embrace.”

Raffi said that with the death of Layton the country lost a man who truly believed in social causes and helping those who needed a hand.

“You could tell he was genuine,” he said. “He cared about people, he cared about the environment. I want people to hear the song and to think what they can do as individuals.”

Chromeo Cruises To The Sound Of Their Own Synths

Source: www.thestar.com - By Brendan Kennedy

(Nov 02, 2011) “I hope I don’t sound cocky,” says David Macklovitch
a.k.a. Dave1, the fashionable frontman for Montreal electrofunk duo, Chromeo — after gushing about how happy he is with his band’s recent success.

Macklovitch sounds genuinely concerned, without any of the lady-killin’ swagger his Chromeo persona would suggest. It seems he wants to keep his bravado in check, revealing another layer of a band that continues to hint at a more complicated underside than their ear-pleasing dance-floor pop implies.

But the 33-year-old — who also somehow has time to do a PhD in French Literature at Columbia University — is clearly proud of his band and what it has accomplished since releasing their debut album seven years ago.

“We’ve gotten into this space of serenity right now where we actually don’t care how our music is perceived as long as it’s enjoyed.”

Chromeo is truly cruising these days. A year removed from the release of Business Casual — which reached no. 4 on Billboard’s top electronica charts and lifted Chromeo into the upper-echelons of their genre — and Macklovitch and his talkbox-wielding synthmaster, P-Thugg (a.k.a. Patrick Gemayel), are playing to bigger and bigger audiences across the continent.

Diehards crowd dance floors and chant the band’s war cry — Chro-Mee-Oh Ohhhh-Oh — whenever the personable pair try to leave the stage.

“With Chromeo we provide a service,” Macklovitch says, explaining the band’s commitment to their customers. “You spend your hard-earned dollars to come to see us and to have a good time and sing-a-long with those songs you know, and we want to make sure you leave with the biggest smile possible.”

It’s no wonder Chromeo’s singles are gobbled up by eager DJs looking to keep crowds happy. Their sound builds a bridge of synthesizers and strobe lights between Thriller-era Michael Jackson to Steely Dan to early-90s house and hip-hop.

Following Wednesday’s performance at The Sound Academy in Toronto, Chromeo will play back-to-back sold-out shows at Terminal 5 in New York City.

Not so bad for a band some early critics wrote off as campy novelty when they first arrived on the scene with 2004’s worldwide club hit, “Needy Girl,” which laid the groundwork for Chromeo’s tongue-in-cheek takedown of earnest dance music and 80s pop balladry.

Like the yacht rock and synth pop Dave1 and P-Thugg smoothly fuse together, Chromeo’s songs exist in a world that is somehow both sexy and hilarious.

“It’s in that little borderline region that Chromeo blossoms,” Macklovitch says.

But when Chromeo winks, you’re never quite sure if they’re letting you in on a joke or coming on to you — whether they’re being cheeky or cheesy.

Macklovitch admits he and Gemayel — who met in high school and first started making music together as teenagers — were worried about not being taken seriously when they first started the band.

But it’s hard to fret when you’re filling 1,000-plus rooms the first time you play a city.

“You can be funny and have substance; you can be highbrow and you can be lowbrow at the same time,” Macklovitch says. “If people think we’re an ironic band, cool, whatever; if people think we’re a highbrow, nerd-synth band, cool, whatever.

“We do weird music, dude — you’ve got an Arab thug with a beard and a lanky skinny Jew singing like Billy Ocean over these Leisure-Suit-Larry-themed, 1980s-Rick James records. That sh-- is weird.”

The serious side of the band comes out in their determination to keep getting bigger and better, he says. What they have released to date are just “pieces of the puzzle” — the complete picture is still coming into view.

For instance, while the band is devoted to their 80s-inspired synths, Macklovitch says he could see it becoming “less of a salient feature and more part of a whole.”

“I’m not satisfied with what we have; I think we can make something better. I’m proud, and I love a lot of the songs … but I’m telling you, this can be so much doper.”

Cardinals Win World Series

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Ben Walker, The Associated Press


(Oct 28, 2011) Albert Pujols thrust both arms high in the air, even before he reached home plate.

It was only the first inning, and already it felt as if the
St. Louis Cardinals were home free. Because after they had overcome so much just to get this far, what could stop them?

The Cardinals won a remarkable
World Series they weren't even supposed to reach, beating the Texas Rangers 6-2 in Game 7 on Friday night with another key hit by hometown star David Freese and six gutty innings from Chris Carpenter.

Pushed to the brink, the Cardinals kept saving themselves. A frantic rush to reach the postseason on the final day. A nifty pair of comebacks in the playoffs. Two desperate rallies in Game 6.

"This whole ride, this team deserves this," said Freese, who added the Series MVP award to his trophy as the NL championship MVP.

A day after an epic game that saw them twice within one strike of elimination before winning 10-9 in 11 innings, the Cardinals captured their 11th World Series crown.

"It's hard to explain how this happened," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Following a whole fall on the edge, including a surge from 10 1/2 games down in the wild-card race, La Russa's team didn't dare mess with Texas, or any more drama in baseball's first World Series Game 7 since the Angels beat the Giants in 2002.

Freese's two-run double tied it in the first, with Pujols celebrating as he scored. Good-luck charm Allen Craig hit a go-ahead homer in the third.

Given a chance to pitch by a Game 6 rainout and picked by La Russa earlier in the day to start on three days' rest, Carpenter and the tireless St. Louis bullpen closed it out.

No Rally Squirrel needed on this night, either. Fireworks and confetti rang out at Busch Stadium when Jason Motte retired David Murphy on a fly ball to end it.

"We just kept playing," Cardinals star Lance Berkman said.

Said La Russa: "If you watch the history of baseball, teams come back."

The Rangers, meanwhile, will spend the whole winter wondering how it all got away. Texas might dwell on it forever, in fact, or at least until Nolan Ryan & Co. can reverse a World Series slide that started with last year's five-game wipeout against San Francisco.

"We were close. Two times. Game 6. That's it," Texas pitcher Colby Lewis said.

Ryan left tightlipped. When a reporter tried to ask the Rangers president and part-owner a question, someone in his entourage said: "He's not talking."

Texas had not lost consecutive games since last August. These two defeats at Busch Stadium cost manager Ron Washington and the Rangers a chance to win their first title in the franchise's 51-year history.

Instead, Texas became the first team to lose the Series two straight years since Atlanta in 1991-92.

"Sometimes when opportunity is in your presence, you certainly can't let it get away because sometimes it takes a while before it comes back," Washington said. "If there's one thing that happened in this World Series that I'll look back on is being so close, just having one pitch to be made and one out to be gotten, and it could have been a different story."

Added Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre: "We tried to come back today, but the momentum just took them."

"It's not a nice feeling, you know, being one strike away twice. I guess it's probably easier to lose four games in a row in a World Series, but being a strike away it's something that will be hard to forget," he said.

This marked the ninth straight time the home team had won Game 7 in the World Series. The wild-card Cardinals held that advantage over the AL West champions because the NL won the All-Star game - Texas could blame that on their own pitcher, C.J. Wilson, who took the loss in July.

A year full of inspiring rallies and epic collapses was encapsulated in Game 6. Freese was the star, with a tying triple in the ninth and a winning home run in the 11th. His two RBIs in the clincher gave him a postseason-record 21.

The Cardinals, second behind the Yankees (27) with their 11 titles, won their first championship since 2006, and gave La Russa his third World Series victory. They got there by beating Philadelphia in the first round of the NL playoffs, capped by Carpenter outdueling Roy Halladay 1-0 in the deciding Game 5, and then topping Milwaukee in the NL championship series.

"I think the last month of the season, that's where it started," Pujols said. "Different guys were coming huge, getting big hits, and we carried that into the postseason and here we are, world champions."

By the time Yadier Molina drew a bases-loaded walk from starter Matt Harrison and Rafael Furcal was hit by a pitch from Wilson in relief, the crowd began to sense a championship was near.

The Cardinals improved to 8-3 in Game 7s of the Series, more wins than any other club. Yet fans here know their history well, and were aware this game could go either way - Dizzy Dean and the Gas House Gang won 11-0 in 1934, but Whitey Herzog and his Cardinals lost 11-0 in 1985.

On this evening, all the stars aligned for St. Louis.

Starting in place of injured Matt Holliday, Craig hit his third homer of the Series and made a leaping catch at the top of the left field wall. Molina made another strong throw to nail a stray runner. And Carpenter steeled himself to pitch into the seventh, every bit an ace.

"It was in our grasp and we didn't get it," Washington said, referring to Game 6. "Tonight we fought hard for it and the Cardinals got it."

Pujols went 0 for 2, walked and was hit by a pitch in what could have been his last game with the Cardinals. Many think the soon-to-be free agent will remain in St. Louis.

"You know what? I'm not even thinking about that. I'm thinking about, you know, we're the world champions and I'm going to celebrate and whenever that time comes, you know, then we'll deal with it," he said.

Pujols did plenty of damage. His three-homer job in Game 3 was the signature performance of his career and perhaps the greatest hitting show in postseason history.

Dismissed by some as a dull Series even before it began because it lacked the big-market glamour teams, it got better inning by inning. Plus, a postseason first: A bullpen telephone mixup played a prominent role.

"I told you it was going to be a great series, and it was," Texas slugger Josh Hamilton said.

"I don't care what other people remember. We fell a little bit short," he said. "Hats off to the Cards, they did a great job, especially last night. It was actually fun to watch and fun to see. You hate it but it happened."

Craig hit a solo home run in the third, an opposite field fly to right that carried into the Cardinals bullpen and got their relievers dancing. The super-sub put St. Louis ahead 3-2 with his third homer of the Series. He was in the lineup only because Holliday sprained his right wrist on a pickoff play a night earlier and was replaced on the roster.

By then, the largest crowd at 6-year-old Busch Stadium was buzzing. The fans seemed a bit drained much earlier, maybe worn out from the previous night.

They grew hush in the first when Hamilton and Michael Young hit consecutive RBI doubles. Texas might have gotten more, but Ian Kinsler strayed too far off first base and was trapped by Molina's rocket throw.

Freese changed the mood in a hurry as St. Louis tied it in the bottom half. Pujols and Lance Berkman drew two-out walks and pitching coach Mike Maddux trotted to the mound while Freese stepped in to a standing ovation.

Freese rewarded his family and a ballpark full of new friends by lining a full-count floater to the wall in left center for a two-run double. Harrison was in trouble, and Wilson began warming up after only 23 pitches.

Carpenter wasn't sharp at the outset, either. All over the strike zone, he started seven of the first 10 batters with balls. Pitching coach Dave Duncan made a visit in the second to check on the tall righty, lingering for a few extra words.

"I was hoping to have an opportunity to go ahead and pitch in that game and fortunately it worked out," Carpenter said. "It started off a little rough in the first. But I was able to collect myself, make some pitches and our guys did an awesome job to battle back. And I mean, it's just amazing."

Notes: Texas set a Series record by walking 41 batters, one more than Florida in 1997. Of the 34 runs the Cardinals scored, 11 reached on walks and two more on hit batters. The crowd was 47,399. The Cardinals will play the first game of the 2012 season in North America, opening the Miami Marlins' new ballpark on April 4.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Yet Another Drake Track: "The Motto"

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser


(Nov 02, 2011) How much have we already heard of the
Drake album Take Care? Today a new track was released as a preview - " The Motto," with our man's old pal Lil Wayne. By our count, that adds up to nine tracks we can already hear from the sessions for the album, out Nov. 15.

So that's "The Motto," "She Will," "Headlines," "Free Spirit," "Round of Applause," "Club Paradise," "Make Me Proud," "The Real Her" and "Marvins Room." Who knows exactly how many of these will make it to the album, but it does kinda keep us from dying of suspense, anyhow. Click through here to hear 'em all.

 Drake - The Motto Feat. Lil Wayne by octobersveryown

Hamilton's Arkells Take Left Turn

Source: www.canoe.ca - By Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

(Nov. 1, 2011) Life has taken some interesting turns for
The Arkells lately. And that's fine with frontman Max Kerman.

"I can definitely say I like the idea of having to go in one direction to wind up going in the other direction," says the 24-year-old singer-guitarist from his Hamilton home. "That agrees with me."

So should the last 18 months of his professional life. During that relatively brief span, his scrappy indie rockers have rounded a few big corners. In 2010, The Arkells -- named for the street where Kerman and guitarist Mike DeAngelis lived in their university days -- snagged the Juno for best new artist on the strength of their 2008 debut Jackson Square and their high-energy, R&B-fuelled live show. That boost helped pave the way for a deal with Universal Music Canada, a move that coincided nicely with the bigger, bolder sound of their brand-spanking sophomore CD Michigan Left. Titled after a convoluted manoeuvre required at a certain Detroit intersection, the self-produced disc marks a sonic and stylistic gear-shift, rewiring Kerman's finely detailed Steeltown anthems with everything from Motown harmonies to the '80s pop melodies of Hall & Oates.

It hasn't been a totally smooth ride: The band recently parted ways with a keyboardist who chose to return to school, and more concerningly, the rapid acceleration of both their career and their sound has sparked the inevitable cries of sellout. Before putting the pedal to the metal on their latest Canadian tour, Kerman called up to set the record straight.

The album's been out a week now. Were you nervous?

No, it was more excitement in our camp. We've been sitting on these recordings for the last six months. I had listened to them as many times as I possibly could. So to have other people finally hear them was really exciting for us. And the response has been really good so far.

But you must have known that some people would accuse you of selling out simply because you've gone from an indie label to a major.

Yeah. I mean, we weren't really expecting that. I know there's always that kind of fan. But I don't think we foresaw some of the narratives people chose to take in writing about this new record.

Do you think winning the Juno factored in the whole equation?

I don't know. When you're writing a song, it's not like you're training on a sports team where the goal is to win a championship or a gold medal. An award is always the last thing on our mind. There's a million other things we worry about aside from picking up a Juno. With that said, it was definitely very exciting. I'd be lying if I said it didn't mean something to me.

But did all that attention add any pressure to the making of this album?

No. And if you asked me whether I would rather be a band no one has ever heard of and no one was waiting on a release from, or a band that people were excited about, I'd pick the latter every time. I have to be careful when I say that, though, because that can be twisted into: 'Band writes pop record and wants to be massively famous.' Which isn't not the truth. But there's a lot more to it.

So how did the more commercial and accessible sound on this album come about?

If you were to account for my last six years of musical taste, I've definitely gone through phases. Five years ago, I was obsessed with The Band and wanted everything to sound like The Band. Fast-forward to 2007 or 2008 and I wanted everything to sound like The Weakerthans or The Constantines or Wintersleep because I love those bands so much. Then fast-forward to 2009 and 2010, and we started listening to a lot of bands we had previously brushed aside, like Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browne and Michael McDonald and Hall & Oates. In 2007, I would have said, 'Really? You think this is cool? This is awful!' But now I think there's a ton of great stuff you can take from that music. There's one song on our new record called Where U Goin, which definitely has a Maneater feel. And Maneater ripped off every other Motown song ... And if you've heard the first couple of Springsteen records, they sound like a Van Morrison record that sounds like a Stax record. I just think music is a lot more connected than people realize. Especially pop music. Whether it's Hall & Oates or Springsteen, they're all taking from the R&B of the '60s.

You're one of those bands people have to see live to fully appreciate. How much were you trying to capture that energy on this album, or do you see the stage and studio as distinct worlds?

We definitely wanted to capture some of the best parts of our live show on this record. We have a pretty rocking rhythm section, and wanted to make sure that was captured correctly, because that's really the engine that makes these songs go. Staying true to that was important. But saying that, I think they really are two different things. And we also wanted to make sure this record was fun to listen to with headphones on. So you can tell that the band's playing, but there are also really interesting studio sounds -- weird keyboards, experimenting with different guitar tones or different vocal delay effects. I think there's room for both.

Arkells tour dates
Nov. 2 | North Bay | Wall
Nov. 3 | Sault Ste. Marie | Speak Easy
Nov. 5 | Thunder Bay | Outpost
Nov. 7 | Regina | Distrikt
Nov. 8 | Edmonton | Starlite Room
Nov. 9 | Calgary | MacEwan Hall
Nov. 11 | Vancouver | Commodore Ballroom
Nov. 12 | Victoria | Sugar Nightclub
Nov. 15 | Kamloops | Blue Grotto
Nov. 16 | Banff | Wild Bill's
Nov. 18 | Saskatoon | Louis' Pub
Nov. 19 | Winnipeg | Pyramid Cabaret
Nov. 24 | St. Catharines | Barracuda Pretty
Dec. 3 | Toronto | Sound Academy

Amy Winehouse “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” Available December 6

Source: Universal Music Canada

"It was a thrill to record with Amy Winehouse and when you listen to the recording of Body And Soul, it is a testament to her artistic genius and her brilliance as one of the most honest musicians I have ever known."  Tony Bennett


(October 31, 2011) TORONTO - Following her tragic passing in July,
some of the producers and musicians who worked closely with Amy Winehouse, among them Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi,  spent time listening over the many recordings that Amy had made, before, during, and after the release of “Frank” and “Back To Black”.  It was said by all who worked with Amy that she never sang or played a song the same way twice. It quickly became apparent to Salaam and Mark that they had a collection of songs that deserved to be heard, a collection of songs that were a fitting testament to Amy the artist and, as importantly, Amy their friend.

Lioness : Hidden Treasures, the third album from Amy Winehouse,
without question one of the most talented, original, and best loved artists to emerge in popular music for decades, will be released on December 6th through Universal Music Canada. The 12-track collection features previously unreleased tracks, alternate versions of existing classics as well as a couple of brand new Amy compositions, and has been compiled by long-time musical partners Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson in close association with Amy’s family, management and record label (Island Records). Lioness : Hidden Treasures proves a fitting tribute to the artist, the talent and the woman and serves as a reminder of Amy’s extraordinary powers as a songwriter, a singer and an interpreter of classics.

Speaking about the album Amy’s father Mitch had this to say:

“I spent so much time chasing after Amy, telling her off that I never realized what a true genius
she was. It wasn’t until I sat down with the rest of the family and listened to this album that I fully appreciated the breadth of Amy’s talent, from jazz standards to hip hop songs, it really took my breath away. “Halftime”, I’d never heard before, is just incredibly beautiful. If the family had felt that this album wasn’t up to the standard of Frank and Back To Black we would never have agreed to release it and we believe it will stand as a fitting tribute to Amy ‘s musical legacy.”-

The full track-listing is as follows:

“Our Day Will Come (Reggae Version)” - reggae re-working of classic 60’s doo wop song produced by Salaam Remi. Recorded May 2002.

“Between The Cheats” - new Amy composition recorded in London in May 2008 for potential inclusion on album three produced by Salaam Remi.

“Tears Dry” - originally written by Amy as a ballad, this is the original version she recorded in November 2005 in Miami with Salaam. The later uptempo version  appears on “Back To Black”.

 “Wake Up Alone” - the first song recorded for the “Back To Black” sessions. This is the one-take demo recorded in March 2006 by Paul O’Duffy.

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - Amy’s beautiful reading of the Carole King written Shirelles classic. Produced by Mark Ronson and featuring the Dap Kings with string arrangements by Chris Elliott who did all the strings for Mark’s tracks on “Back To Black”. Recorded in September 2004.

“Valerie” - one of Amy’s jukebox favourites. This is the original slower tempo version of the Mark Ronson produced post “Back To Black” single. Recorded in December 2006.

“Like Smoke” featuring NAS  - Amy and Nas became really good friends after Amy name checked the New York rapper on “Back To Black’s” “Me & Mr. Jones”.  “Like Smoke” is finally Amy doing a song with one of her favourite artists. Produced by Salaam Remi. Recorded in May 2008.

“The Girl From Ipanema - the first song the 18 year old Amy sang when she first went to Miami to record with Salaam. Salaam remarked that “the way she re-interpreted this bossa nova classic made me realise that I was dealing with a very special talent. Her approach to the song was so young and fresh, it really inspired the rest of our sessions.” Recorded in May 2002.

“Halftime” - Amy had talked to AhmirQuestlove’ Thompson of the Roots about working together. “Halftime” is a song that Amy and Salaam had worked on since the Frank sessions.  The result is beautiful. Recorded in August 2002.

Best Friends” - “Frank” era live set opener produced by Salaam Remi. Probably the first song that early Amy fans would have heard live. Recorded in February 2003.

 “Body & Soul” with Tony Bennett - cover of 30’s jazz standard with hero Tony Bennett. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios London in March 2011 and produced by Phil Ramone. Amy’s final studio recording.

“A Song For You” - heartbreaking and emotional version of the Leon Russell classic made famous by Donny Hathaway. Hathaway was Amy’s all-time favourite artist and the song was recorded in one take, just Amy and her guitar, at her home in London during the spring of 2009 as she battled her demons. Produced by Salaam Remi.

www.amywinehousefoundation.co.uk 

Chris Brown: Reveals New CD Singles; Starring in ‘Phenom

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 30, 2011) Chris Brown will star opposite Meagan Good and “The View’s” Sherri Shepherd in the upcoming basketball-themed film “Phenom.”

The synopsis: With the NBA playoffs right around the corner, the press learns that the league’s new hotshot player — a young man who went pro after high school — is the illegitimate son of an aging NBA star.  The player attempts to make a life with his newly-found father and step brother.

Henry Simmons will play Brown’s father, Donta Storey his half-brother and Grayson Boucher his best friend.  Meagan Good will play his love interest.

The project has been in the works for four years. Brown first spoke of “Phenom” in March 2007, telling MTV: “Basketball is my thing, other than singing and dancing, and that’s what I’m gonna show the world.”

Production is set to begin mid-2012 after the release of Brown’s next album, “Fortune.”

Speaking of “Fortune,” Breezy tweeted an update on the tracks.

“The new singles from FORTUNE are being mixed! STRIP is one of the singles off of FORTUNE so request at RADIO!” Brown wrote on Twitter of the Kevin McCall-assisted song. He then added, “I’m also really excited about the release of my single titled ‘BIGGEST FAN’ produced by the RUNNERS!”

Soon, the producers themselves began tweeting. The Runners wrote, “Yoo @chrisbrown “Biggest Fan” is gonna be epic!! And wait till they hear what else we have in the vault together! Ha!”

Jay Z, Kanye West Launch Watch the Throne Tour in Atlanta

Source: www.eurweb.com -
-J.C. Brooks

(October 31, 2011) *The reviews are in – and mostly positive for the Oct. 28 kickoff to the Watch the Throne tour in Atlanta’s 21,000-seat Philips Arena.

Jay-Z and Kanye West took the stage 2 ½ hours later than the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start time, and a reader at Sandrarose.com said “the sound system was crappy” and “tour promoters dumped hundreds of tickets on radio stations to give away” after it became apparent that the show would not sell out.

But the performances of the two rap stars appear to have been well received across the board.  Read a sample of the reviews below. Scroll down to watch clips from the concert.

MTV called the duo’s Watch the Throne kick-off — which didn’t have a warm-up act or opener, instead a DJ played songs like “Between the Sheets” by Isley Brothers — “thrilling.” The Watch the Throne show was “marked by the duo’s overabundance of hit records,” its review said. Though the reviewer noted that the execution wasn’t 100 percent together, with technical problems affecting Jay-Z’s timing. “His ear piece short-circuited and failed to properly feed him the music and his timing was clearly affected,” the reviewer wrote. “For a time, Hov’s raps were badly off beat.” And later, Jay-Z had the music cut so the issues could be fixed, finishing “Who Gon Stop Me” a capella style.

USA Today: “Many in the high-energy crowd remained standing — and swaying and dancing and singing — for the entire 2½-hour show. At one point, as Jay-Z and West performed ‘N—as in Paris’ from their hit Watch the Throne CD, West exhorted the audience to ‘Bounce! Bounce!’ The resulting stomping had Philips Arena rocking and shaking in a way that it hasn’t for the Hawks in a long time.”

AllHipHop.com:  ”The Watch the Throne concert totally surpassed anything you would expect. From the 50-foot cubes, to the laser show and spectacular visuals, and in-and-out mini sets, the pair moved like a duo that has performed consistently for years.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Their enjoyment sharing the stage was obvious as they led the crowd through the refrain of ‘Run This Town’ and chanted over the heavy, chest-rattling bass in ‘Monster’ as more video of wild animals played behind them.”  …“Several times during the set, the twosome flashed grins at each other or slung an arm around the other’s shoulder, although West usually followed Jay-Z’s lead with any affectionate movements.”

XXLMag.com: “The kings of hip-hop, Jay-Z and Kanye West, descended upon on Atlanta on Friday and Saturday nights to begin their Watch the Throne tour reign and the two couldn’t have been more regal during their performances.”

Idolator: “While there was virtually no way a concert featuring Jay-Z and Kanye West could ever be a dud, we have to say the duo lived up to our high expectations with last night’s kick-off of their Watch the Throne tour. The hip-hop monarchs performed at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, with an epic set list that featured selections from each artist’s own behemoth catalog of hits as well as their Watch the Throne collaborations.”

Liza’s Show Worked, Even When Her Voice Didn’t

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

Liza Minnelli
At Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto Friday

(Oct 30, 2011) Let’s be honest:
Liza Minnelli’s voice is shot.

As this stage of her career, her vocal cords are no longer capable of producing the warm,
lustrous tone evident on her youthful recordings. What we get instead is throaty and dark, fleshed out by an occasionally wobbly vibrato and not a lot of air. Indeed, there were numerous times during her brief performance at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall when Minnelli seemed winded midway through a song. She regularly had to catch her breath during the between-songs patter.

Having said that, let’s be honest about something else: Her vocal frailties didn’t much matter.

Sure, if you were hoping to hear her turn on the power, you were going to be disappointed. With her six-piece band blaring, the show-opening Alexander’s Ragtime Band was more razzle than dazzle, and when she went for those big notes that launch the last verse of New York, New York, what came across was more like the 1977 blackout.

Even so, Minnelli managed to sell those songs despite her weakened technique. At 65, she understands enough about the gestural aspects of performance — the rhetoric of body movement and stance, the nuances of phrasing and emphasis — that she can make a song work even when her voice doesn’t.

It helps, of course, to have the right material. When handed something that functions as dramatic monologue, such as Charles Aznavour’s gay rights soliloquy What Makes a Man a Man, the notes become secondary to the story and her sense of character. There were times — My Own Best Friend, for instance, in which she reprised her role as Roxie Hart from 30 years ago in the musical Chicago — when Minnelli was so subsumed by the role that she disappeared into her protagonist, making it seem more like a theatre piece than a concert number.

But not everything on offer fit that model, particularly the big hits her fans expected. Cabaret, which had plenty of room to ham it up, worked well; But the World Goes ’Round, which stood on the strength of its arrangement, ended up being carried by the band. And while Minnelli is certainly entitled to keep singing Liza with a Z (despite her difficulties with articulation), does she honestly expect anyone to believe that there are still people in the world who call her Lisa?

Given that she was panting at the end of her opener, it wasn’t too surprising that Minnelli sang her last encore, a lovely a cappella rendering of I’ll Be Seeing You, a scant 80 minutes after the start of her show. Her fans didn’t seem to mind; by that point, they’d lavished her with five standing ovations, and seemed to relish the survivor aspect of her persona. (And to give an idea of how diverse the crowd was, the first bouquet she received was handed up by a Mohawked young man and his girlfriend.)

Minnelli’s performance was honest, heartfelt and endearingly courageous. One could ask for more, but it feels a bit greedy; the star power is still there, even if the voice isn’t, and her fans were overjoyed at what they got.

Musiq Soulchild Dedicates New Song for Breast Cancer Awareness (Video)

Source: www.eurweb.com -
-J.C. Brooks

(October 30, 2011) New music from Susan G. Komen's Circle of Promise Ambassador Musiq Soulchild, "Yes"

There are so many of us that have lost loved ones to the vicious disease of Cancer.  October is the month that we give special attention to the cancer that we thought was specific to women, breast cancer.  One of the most well-known men to fight the disease and win is Richard Roundtree, best known for his role as Shaft.  A lot of women have beat the disease as well, but early detection is a major reason why.

All those who support Susan G. Komen have done a phenomenal job of carrying the torch for breast cancer awarenessSo many have relentlessly given their time and energy in walks and marathons, others have given financially and encouraged others to give too.  But now we have a song for all women that have lived and suffered with their changing bodies as they struggle through the process of the fight against the disease.

Women that have prosthetic breasts and/or no reconstructive surgery grapple with their appearance.  They feel they have lost their womanhood and attraction from their spouses and/or significant others.  As breast cancer awareness month comes to a close, we offer a very beautiful and thoughtful song and video by Musiq Soulchild, who recently announced his new role as an Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Circle of Promise, “a movement designed to further engage black women around the globe in the fight against breast cancer.” 

As a part of his crusade, he offers a song for all the women out there that are survivors worrying about that very delicate, but most intricate feeling of loss.  God bless the soldiers of this awful disease.  This one’s for you. salut!

Make your commitment at http://www.circleofpromise.org  Get checked!

 
Nuwamba – Real Compared to What?

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 1, 2011)
*We all grew up with that person folks requested to sing any and everywhere; school, church, on the block, in the middle of your Uncle’s birthday cookout, it seems like “Sing a little something for us” was always the next thing said. Around Ft. Worth, Texas that person was a young man named Nuwamba, he took all of that encouragement and began plotting The Unusual Takeover. Nuwamba is a son of Soul music taking aim at radio and your iPod with a barrage of what we all grew up on and if his new single “Unusual” is any indication, he’s accomplished his mission.

The release of Above the Water in 2006 came just as the music industry was entering a shift in sound and in the marketplace, a shift that continues to evolve today, but is playing into Nuwamba’s favor as he’s able to control his sound and his team market him to those waiting for something soulful. Writing from experience and observation of the world around him, Nuwamba wants to deliver it how he sees it in his perfect pitch, but as honest to the culture as possible. His musical voice is one that’s missing from the conversation, because he’s writing for those in the struggle, those dealing with the “Same Ol’, Same Ol’”, a song he attests is hood tested and approved.

He’s attempting to connect with the people through his music, through the red tape and bureaucracies of radio, because he feels what we’re hearing today for the most part is not reaching the people where they need it, the soul. He’s put together a few grooves based on a true story, somebody’s true story, that he and his team feels deserves to be in heavy rotation on your favorite station or on your iPod. Sort of how “Unusual” was born out a conversation with a friend about situations they’ve been in, that’s real talk, real life, real music.

Steve Perry Addresses The Odds Of A Journey Reunion

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lou Ferrara

(Oct 31, 2011) NEW YORK—The resurgence of Journey and the band’s hit “Don’t Stop Believin’” may have given fans hope of a reunion, but former lead singer Steve Perry says that’s probably not going to happen.

“It’s like any emotional, committed relationship. At some point, they seem to all have a shelf life and bands are no exception,” he said. “Life has moved us all on in different places in our lives. . . They’re doing what they’re doing — they have been since ‘98. And I’ve been doing what I’m doing, which is living my life and having a personal life.”

Perry, who rarely does detailed interviews, spoke to The Associated Press by phone last week, ahead of Tuesday’s release of Journey’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 and the remastered version of Perry’s 1984 solo album, Street Talk, which included the No. 1 hit “Oh Sherrie” and the ballad “Foolish Heart.”

His former band mates have continued on since Perry’s departure 13 years ago, performing as Journey with a new lead singer, Arnel Pineda. Pineda sounds like Perry, who was once ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as No. 76 of the greatest 100 singers of all time.

Perry doesn’t dwell on the band’s current lineup, saying that everyone has moved on, but said he relishes the songs he did with Journey that keep getting airplay.

Thirty years after its release, Journey’s most memorable hit — “Don’t Stop Believin’” — manages to keep getting rediscovered in new contexts. The song, which Perry wrote with Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain and guitarist Neil Schon, has shown up in the Broadway show Rock of Ages (which Perry said he hasn’t seen), the cut-to-black finale of The Sopranos and the movie Monster, for which Charlize Theron won an Oscar for best actress. Most recently, it appears in Brad Pitt’s Moneyball.

But it has probably reached its youngest audience through the hit TV show Glee, which has also featured other Journey hits “Faithfully” and the medley version of “Any Way You Want It/LovinTouchinSqueezin’.”

Perry said he’s stunned that “Don’t Stop Believin’” continues to resonate with so many people.

“It’s very shocking because now I’m getting it for 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds coming up to me, and they love that song and they’ve made it their song,” said Perry, 62. “It’s just amazing to me.”

He said that when he was first shown the pilot for Glee, he wasn’t sure if he wanted “Don’t Stop Believin’” to be used. He said he and his former band members are careful to make sure Journey’s songs are used to their standards: “There’s been so many requests for silly food products over the years.”

Perry said he and Journey members don’t speak directly to each other about authorizing the use of songs, or much about anything else, but instead work through representatives to reach agreement.

In recent years, he says he’s received offers to appear on Glee and to serve as a judge on American Idol, where friend and former band mate Randy Jackson is a judge. But he’s turned those and other offers down because, he explains, he’s not a “front-camera guy.”

Lately, Perry’s been dabbling in film editing and writing music for a possible solo album, a challenging process after years of being away from the music business.

“I’m going to be recording sometime soon,” said Perry.

He said he’s recorded three cover songs recently, but would only disclose that one was a Beatles tune and that he has played his new music for just a few friends privately.

Perry said his signature voice, which stretches for high and long notes in many of his songs, is in good shape overall. At one point in the interview, telling a story about one of Journey’s first tours, he broke into the Journey song “Feeling That Way.”

Physically, though, he’s battled health issues. He had hip replacement surgery 13 years ago, and has struggled with a “pretty substantial amount of arthritis that’s not comfortable.”

“I live on anti-inflammatories,” Perry said, noting that he has had some arthritis-related surgeries over the years since he left Journey.

Still, he says he’s feeling good overall. He even left open the possibility of touring again — just not with Journey.

“We have severely, emotionally gone our separate ways.”

Audio: Shawn Stockman on the Power of A Cappella

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Nov. 2, 2011) *NBC’s “The Sing Off” is the lone music competition
series on television where contestants are required to sing a cappella, and that aspect was a huge selling point for judge Shawn Stockman, who knows a thing or two about the importance of vocals.

He’s currently in his third season on the judging panel – alongside fellow vocalists Ben Folds and new judge Sara Bareilles – and says their collective experience lets contestants know that their comments – whether praise or criticism – are not just for show.

“A lot of the artists that are on the show, they recognize who we are and so it’s an automatic connection,” Stockman tells EURweb. “Not because of us being in the industry or being famous, but knowing that our story and where we’re speaking from is from a real place. So when we speak and when we give certain advice, they know that it’s from experienced eyes, ears and bodies.

“Knowing where we come from, they give their 100 percent. So when we give them additions to what can make their harmony better, they really take it to heart, and we always see them better and better with each week.”

Fresh from performing with his group Boyz II Men on Tuesday’s live “Dancing With the Stars,” Stockman 39, says there is no greater aural experience than hearing a chorus of voices harmonizing without the distraction of musical instruments. he explains below.

On Stage, Sting Hasn't Aged A Day

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Nov. 2, 2011) And so this is
Sting at the age of 60. Sounding good, looking fine - every breath he took was visible, his T-shirt so tight as to reveal the details of his respiration - the milkman's son from Newcastle and former ace-face of the Police was in buff and buzz-cut form at Massey Hall, where he chatted amiably and delivered a well-received set of millionaire-Englishman blues-rock and assorted hits from his long career. On stage with a five-piece band that included a pair of fiddlers, the chatty superstar spoke of the past -"So much history" he said of Massey, also mentioning that ghosts were in his dressing room and that Toronto "felt like home" - but he wasn't completely beholden to his bygones, feeling no need, for example, to flip on the most famous red light in pop history. If Roxanne did not figure, though, 22 others did, including the following highlights.

The standouts:

All This Time: A single from the 1991 solo album The Soul Cages, the opening number's breeze and bounce belied darker lyrics about the death of the musician's father. Sting's current tour is dubbed "back to bass," a play on words referring to the stripped down nature of the show, as opposed to his pretentious lute playing in the past or the orchestral hubbub of his previous tour. As for the "bass," Sting fluidly and strappingly played a pair of Fender Precision models.

I Hung My Head: After the Nashville-styled I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying, the castle-dwelling musician told his audience he had a "problem with authenticity," as it pertained to writing country music. "I'm not from the south. I'm not even from the south of England." Perhaps his authenticity issues stem from thinking that his tuneful murder ballad was anything other than enjoyable light-rock, regardless if the song was once covered by Johnny Cash.

Inside: From 2003's Sacred Love album. If his outlandish torso didn't impress the ladies enough - as he sang, with two feet together behind the mic-stand, his baldness and V-shaped physique made him look like an Oscar statuette - his comments before this brooding rocker cemented his appeal. The long-married rock star spoke of the risk of "emotional annihilation" as the root behind the male fear of commitment. Women gasped in agreement at the observation.

Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven): The spaghetti-western/country conflation was notable only for a wild-eyed bowing by fiddler Peter Tickell. We haven't seen such aggressive friction since Sting and Police drummer Stewart Copeland were going at each other regularly back in the day.

Encore: The Moroccan-roll of Desert Rose compelled one to charm snakes, belly dance and eat a fig - all at once. The inching rhythm of Every Breath You Take, about an ex-lover's serious surveillance issues, took us back a couple of decades. Next to You was effervescent punk-lite. And Message in a Bottle, with Sting solo on a classical guitar, was pure pop euphoria. "Another lonely day," sang the main attraction, in a high and forlorn holler, "no one here but me." A crowd sang along in complete disagreement - message received, loud and clear.

Sting

At Massey Hall in Toronto on Tuesday
Sting plays three shows at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre Dec. 8-10.

Pete Townshend Brands Apple’s Itunes A ‘Digital Vampire’

Source: www.thestar.com

(Oct 31, 2011) LONDON — The Who’s
Pete Townshend on Monday branded Apple Inc.’s iTunes a “digital vampire” that profits from music without supporting the artists who create it.

Townshend said that faced with the Internet’s demolition of established copyright protections, iTunes should offer some of the services to artists that record labels and music publishers used to provide. These include employing talents scouts, giving space to allow bands to stream their music and paying smaller artists directly rather than through a third party aggregator.

The guitarist was delivering the first John Peel Lecture, named in honour of the influential British radio broadcaster who died in 2004.

Townshend asked if there was any reason iTunes “can’t provide some aspect of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire” to make money.

ITunes declined to respond to Townshend’s comments.

Apple’s service is the market leader among legal download services, accounting for about three-quarters of music downloads.

Townshend said consumers, as well as the industry, needed to change their attitude to digital music.

“It would be better if music lovers treated music like food, and paid for every helping, rather than only when it suited them,” he said.

“Why can’t music lovers just pay for music rather than steal it?” he said.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Prince To Launch Canadian Tour On Nov. 25 in Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Oct 28, 2011) Prince has announced his first multi-city national Canadian tour since 2002. The Grammy- and Oscar-winning rock superstar will begin his “Welcome 2 Canada” tour with a pair of dates at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Nov. 25 and 26. From there, he’ll wind through Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, London, Ont., Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Vancouver before wrapping up in Victoria on Dec. 17. The Purple Rain hitmaker launched a similar trek across the United States last December. That tour featured special appearances from Chaka Khan, Alicia Keys and Mary J Blige, among others. Tickets for the tour go on sale Nov. 4.

Adele To Undergo Throat Surgery

Source: www.thestar.com

(Oct 28, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Adele’s voice has given her the biggest success this year — and the most trouble. The singer will have throat surgery and has now cancelled all tour dates and promotional appearances for the year. Columbia Records announced Friday that the Rolling in the Deep singer will have surgery “to alleviate the current issues with her throat.” A full recovery is expected. Earlier this month, the 23-year-old cancelled a U.S. concert run due to a hemorrhage in her vocal chord; she also cancelled concerts in June due to laryngitis. The statement said that doctors have ordered the Grammy winner to rest her voice and “completely recuperate before looking to schedule any work commitments.” Adele’s 21 is the bestselling CD of the year in the United States; it’s sold over four million copies.

Blige, Scott, J-Hud in ‘VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul’ Special

Source
: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 28, 2011) This year’s “VH1 Divas” will Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson and others to celebrate their hometowns for the special “VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul” special, which will air Dec. 19. The concert will be taped the day before in New York City. According to a Thursday statement, Chicago, Detroit, London, Philadelphia and Memphis, Tenn., will serve as the musical inspirations for the performers, who will also include Kelly Clarkson, Florence and the Machine and Jessie J With The Roots serving as the house band, the ladies will pay tribute to the places that helped create or contributed to the genre.

Justin Bieber Becomes First Person To Reach 2b Hits On Youtube

Source: www.thestar.com - Reuters

(Nov 01, 2011) Justin Bieber has become the first person in history to reach two billion hits on YouTube. The Never Say Never hitmaker - who was discovered on the video-sharing site in 2008 by Scooter Braun, who later became his manager - hit the milestone by gaining 95 million views on his official Vevo YouTube channel in the past month. The 17-year-old teen heartthrob has surpassed Lady Gaga’s record after she was the first music artist to reach one billion views on YouTube in October 2010. Bieber’s official channel on the website was first created in September 2009 and enables his fans - who are known as ‘Beliebers’ - to watch an array of his songs, including tracks from his Christmas album Under the Mistletoe, which is released Nov. 1. The Baby singer - whose songs Silent Night and All I Want For Christmas Is You are available to listen to on the site - has paid tribute to his army of supporters, which includes more than 13.9 million twitter followers, by praising them on the social networking webpage. He tweeted: “i love my fans and i love music. thank u 4 helping me share my dream with all of u. proud of this album. hope u like it. UnderTheMistletoe (sic)”

::FILM NEWS::    

Actors Union Talks Up Canadian Culture With MPs

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Jane Taber

(Nov. 2, 2011) Heritage Minister James Moore's office says no snub
intended. But ACTRA president Ferne Downey isn't convinced.

Ms. Downey and about 20 Canadian actors, performers and other staff - all part of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Arts - took the train from Toronto Wednesday for their regular lobbying pilgrimage to Parliament Hill.

Mr. Moore "declined to take the opportunity to meet with us," Ms. Downey said. Too bad, as she and her team of actors have a lot to say about digital culture and Canadian content.

"Our world is content creation and Canadian content is everything these days," Ms. Downey told The Globe. "We can see it in multiple platforms. It's extraordinary. I feel so well-poised for this whole thing to explode but you've got to have some sensible long-range public polices to support things. ... You can't have instability."

She wonders, for example, why a for-profit company such as Netflix cannot be regulated to have to kick in funds for Canadian content creation.

"The digital revolution is an extraordinary opportunity," she said. "It's going to require investment and smart planning."

Ms. Downey noted, too, that the entire cultural industry in Canada is big - it's worth $84.6-billion and includes 1.1 million jobs.

However, the Conservative government is seen - perhaps unfairly at times - as being anti-culture. It doesn't help that Prime Minister Stephen Harper once famously turned up his nose at black-tie arts galas, suggesting they were elitist.

Not surprising then that Mr. Harper's majority win in May was greeted with some skepticism by Ms. Downey's constituents.

"It caused me pause," she said. "It just caused me pause because you realize okay, so this is the government that has not yet historically pledged a deep fealty to the whole cultural industry. They certainly haven't understood the place of Canadian stories and Canadian culture in our world."

But Ms. Downey added that when she meets individually with Conservative MPs and "lifts the veil" about who they are, how they struggle and how important culture is to the economy, she gets a good reception.

Leah Pinsent, an actor and daughter of Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent, is part of the lobby blitz. In an interview Wednesday, she recalled the standing ovation her father received from the House of Commons when he visited Parliament several years ago.

"It always represents the importance a Canadian artist can have on this country. We can make this country proud. ... It was such a moving thing," she said.

She wants to talk to MPs about ensuring artists have a voice. Living next door to the United States makes it that much more difficult for Canadian actors to hold on to their own cultural identity, she said.

In addition, Ms. Pinsent is fighting to prohibit so-called "mash-ups," which allow anyone to take elements of works that Canadian artists have created and mix them with other works to create something new. She argues the practice is "morally wrong" and constitutes a form of plagiarism.

Mr. Moore, meanwhile, is up to his ears with work - busy with national caucus, Question Period and other meetings. His director of communications, James Maunder, noted that the minister has met with ACTRA officials in the past. "Unfortunately, we can't meet with everybody all the time," he said.

The ACTRA team is nevertheless meeting with over 50 MPs, including the Minister of Labour, the Leader of the Opposition and key critics and committee members.

Still, Ms. Downey remains hopeful the Heritage Minister, who represents a Vancouver-area riding, will change his mind: "We're in Ottawa all day today, my little reception tonight, all day tomorrow. I have Vancouver actors here to meet him. ... We're just trying to build bridges."

Redford Shoots Film Near Occupy Vancouver

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Nov. 2, 2011) A prop Ann Arbor, Mich., police car was parked behind
a real Vancouver Police Department command unit on Wednesday, as a Hollywood film shoot met the continuing real-life drama outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Robert Redford, on site directing a scene for his film The Company You Keep, barely noticed the cheek-by-jowl Occupy Vancouver tent city just a few metres away.

"I haven't been plugged into what they're doing," said Redford, dressed in a puffy ski jacket while directing a scene set outside a courthouse.

"I've got so much on my plate here. We're moving so fast. We're always fighting the weather."

Over at the tent city, Mathew Kagis, with Occupy Vancouver's medical committee, approached the film's production staff with an invitation for Redford to drop by.

"Hey, people like that give a real boost to the people here," said Kagis. "It's cold, we're plodding on and people are getting tired and they get dejected and somebody like him showing up gives a real morale boost."

Fellow protester Gerry Bloomer pointed out that Redford has made a number of socially-conscious films.

"He is part of the 1 per cent in a sense, on an income level," said Bloomer. "But so is Michael Moore." Moore has been supporting the Occupy protests.

Redford, whose film stars Shia LaBeouf, said he had no plans to drop by the tent city, which has occupied the north lawn of the gallery since Oct. 15. But he did offer his support for the movement overall, while refraining from commenting on the local protest.

"My position would be I don't think it's right for me [to comment]. Although I support it in my country, we're a guest here, in Canada. I want to respect that."

Michelle Williams Says Filming ‘Blue Valentine’ Helped Her Get Over Heath Ledger’s Death

Source: www.thestar.com - Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

(Nov 01, 2011) Michelle Williams found filming Blue Valentine helped her confront her grief over Heath Ledger’s death.

The actress - who has six-year-old daughter Matilda with the late actor - says she had “buried” her emotions following her former fiancé’s passing in 2008 but the intensity of the 2010 film was a form of “therapy” for her which finally helped her move on.

She said: “I felt that I had gotten back to where I was and that I felt like myself and was rediscovering a lot of emotions that I had buried since Heath’s death.

“Maybe the intensity of the film and the fact my character was falling in love with Ryan [Gosling]’s character had something to do with that. But it was a film where we were very isolated and spent so much time going through the intense emotions of the characters that it had this liberating effect on me.

“You could call it a form of therapy. That film also took me to lots of dark places and sometimes when you confront sadness and fears it can resolve lots of issues in your head.”

These days, Williams is much happier and focuses all her attention on her daughter.

She told Britain’s OK! magazine: “I’m much happier now and enjoying my life again. I try to make a happy home for my daughter and my own life is enriched so much by her spirit and being able to watch her and teach her.

“It’s taken a while for me to feel really good again and to think more freely and just be myself. I have so much joy in looking after Matilda that I don’t even worry that much about myself anyway.”

Step Aside, Olsen Twins, It’s Elizabeth’s Turn

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(October 28, 2011) Writer-director Sean Durkin was awash in unknown actresses aged 18 to 24. He was committed to casting a newcomer to headline his debut feature, Martha Marcy May Marlene, about a young woman who slips away from a cult in New York’s Catskills Mountains. (It opened in select cities yesterday.) He’d auditioned a sea of them, “everyone in New York, and people sent tapes from L.A.,” he recalled in an interview last month.

Then
Elizabeth Olsen came in, and in her first read of her first scene, she had him. “She did this subtle thing, I didn’t know what it was, but it felt different,” he said. “She had an intensity behind her eyes, but it was effortless, too. There was a lot going on.”

Asked later, in a separate interview, Olsen remembered what she’d done. “I was trying to hold my breath,” she said.

She certainly made me catch mine. In the film, Olsen’s character is a woman whose identity is as fluid as water, as evanescent as smoke. Even her name changes: She’s Martha to the sister (Sarah Paulson) she hasn’t seen in two years; Marcy May to the cult leader (John Hawkes) who exploits her passivity; and Marlene when the situation calls for it (to explain further would spoil it for you). Remarkably, Olsen is able to essay all these changes not just emotionally and with her eyes, but physically, too – sometimes she appears thin and fragile, other times lush, fleshy and robust. From some angles her face is wan, from others, radiantly beautiful. So exactly did she embody Durkin’s idea, he said, that “it’s too scary to even think about what I’d have done if she hadn’t come in.”

Now all Hollywood is panting after her. She co-stars with Robert DeNiro and Sigourney Weaver in next year’s Red Lights. She’s currently filming Very Good Girls with Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard and Dustin Hoffman. And her performance in Martha is generating the kind of buzz Jennifer Lawrence did last year with Winter’s Bone (also, coincidentally, opposite Hawkes).

Luckily, Olsen’s uniquely positioned to handle the attention. As the younger sister of twin sensations Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Elizabeth, 22, grew up in L.A. watching her sisters work feverishly while fending off paparazzi assaults.

“I always wanted to act,” she said, sitting elegantly on a sofa, hands in her lap, hair pulled back, lips stained the prefect, of-the-moment red. She’s taller and earthier than her waifish siblings, with a fuller face and a more refined-sounding speaking voice. But the family resemblance is unmistakable, especially when she smiles. “I didn’t want to do it as a kid, though, because I saw how much my sisters worked, and I didn’t have the discipline they did.” Later, when she was 15, she thought, “I’m not going to be an actor if it means you have no privacy and people follow you in your car.”

Then a high-school drama teacher “turned me on to the academic side of theatre,” Olsen said. “The history of it, all the influences from Russia, how that changed American acting. I got so fascinated that I forgot about everything else that comes along with it.” At the same time, she saw her sisters “navigating everything, and becoming amazing businesswomen with successful fashion lines – today is their presentation for New York fashion week. They love work and creativity and expressing themselves, and they have such big goals. They’re really incredible women. Now people give them a little bit of a break. So there’s nothing [about fame] that makes me scared. I’ll just have to figure out for myself how to handle it.”

She’s five courses away from completing her degree at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and she’s determined to fit them in around her expanding work schedule. “It’s really important to me to get the degree,” she said. “I’m such a student. I love writing academic essays. I get frustrated, but there’s such a sense of relief and accomplishment when you reach some greater meaning. I really love narrative and structure, how you can carve storylines and have them twist around each other and lead to something. I really respond to architecture in writing.”

The structure of Martha Marcy May Marlene resembles that of DNA: The strands of Martha’s current life outside the cult and her recent past inside it are entwined, bridged by flashbacks. Information is meted out sparingly, partly because Martha’s sister is determined not to pry, and partly because Martha herself isn’t quite sure what happened to her. As a result, the whole movie is permeated with an air of delicate dread, which continues long after you’ve left the theatre.

Though some reviewers have complained that the characters are too opaque, Durkin insists their reticence is true to life. “I’ve never been in a cult, but I know people with more common issues, people who deal with drug abuse, alcoholism or domestic abuse,” he said. “How many people who are alcoholics actually get confronted by their families, and their families actually take the action to do something? People would rather pretend it’s not happening. That was our approach.” His feeling was reinforced when a long-time friend came forward and confessed that she’d been in a sexually abusive cult, and hadn’t spoken of it to anyone but her family and her therapist for seven years. And still, she said, after all that time, though she knew in her head that she was taken advantage of, in her heart she didn’t feel that way.

“That’s another reason Sean cast me,” Olsen said. “Neither of us saw Martha as a victim, or as self-pitying.”

Nor did Olsen balk at the frank nudity of the film. “I had some nerves at the very beginning that I didn’t talk about,” she said. But after watching Jane Campion’s Holy Smoke, in which Kate Winslet joins a cult, she realized, “The nudity in that film makes you feel like a voyeur when you watch it, which has this huge effect on you. And it’s integral to telling our story, too – it’s part of how a person can completely lose care and respect for yourself, without even realizing you have.”

Olsen did one more thing to cinch her audition, Durkin said. After her reading, he escorted her to the waiting room, and they chatted for awhile. “She was such a different person, so vibrant and charming,” he said. “She was going upstate to shoot another movie, and she’d just moved out of her apartment, so she had everything she owned with her in three bags. I was expecting some guy to be waiting outside to help her, but she threw it all on her back and said, ‘I’m just walking down to Penn Station.’ That said a lot about her as a person. Her strength, her independence.”

It’s probably the last time Elizabeth Olsen will ever have to haul her own luggage. But she made it count.

Cell 211: Prison Powder Keg

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

Cell 211
Starring Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann and Antonio Resines. Directed by Daniel Monzon. 112 minutes. Opens Oct. 28 at the Carlton. 18A

(Oct 27, 2011) Prison dramas are fertile grounds for sensationalism
and exploitation. Men caged like animals with nothing to lose. Cynical, thuggish guards. Casual dehumanizing violence.

Cell 211, winner of eight Goya Awards — the Spanish version of the Oscars — has all these. But it’s a cut above the usual penal picture, intelligent with sharply drawn, memorable characters, a storyline suffused with tension and unexpected turns, and a morass of moral quandaries that could lead the most innocent into irretrievable darkness.

Alberto Ammann plays Juan Oliver, the loving husband of a heavily pregnant wife determined to provide for his family even if that means finding work as a prison guard.

So keen is he to succeed, he arrives a day early to scout out his new job site. While getting the tour of the decaying facility — surely an apt metaphor for the prison system itself — he is hit on the head by failing debris and left bloodied and abandoned in a cell as two guards narrowly escape a sudden uprising in a prison unit for the worst of the worst.

Oliver is canny enough to realize he has no choice but to improvise, to shed belt and shoelaces and to pretend to be a newly arrived prisoner. The explanation for his head injury — violent guards — is something his fellow inmates easily accept.

There are many other threads in the story, adapted from the novel by Francisco Perez Gandul, including a trio of Basque terrorists whom the inmates use as a bargaining chip and whose fate threatens to unleash nationwide calamity. The dense plot provides many opportunities for conflict to lead to disaster and more than one fuse capable of igniting the powder keg.

Shahrukh Khan Premieres Ra.One In Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Oct 27, 2011) It’s a superhero/supervillain battle that goes from the virtual world into the real one.

Bollywood is hoping
Ra.One, with a reported budget of $30 million — the largest in Indian cinema history — will score at the international box office and bring some much-needed glitter back to a film industry in the midst of a two-year slump.

The Hindi-language film, starring Shahrukh Khan — dubbed the “King of Bollywood” after starring in more than 70 movies — opened in Toronto Wednesday with a red carpet premiere at TIFF Bell Lightbox. In an indication of the film’s publicity push, Khan arrived here direct from the London premiere and on his way to the Los Angeles one.

It also opened to the general public Wednesday at 10 theatres throughout the GTA, coinciding with the Hindu festival of Diwali, and is scheduled to open in 5,000 screens worldwide and 600 in 3-D.

The film premiered in Dubai on Monday, with Khan and fellow stars Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal in attendance.

The plot — which tips its hat to Hollywood movies such as The Terminator franchise — centres on Shekhar Subramanium, played by Khan, who develops a virtual reality videogame in an effort to impress his son, Prateek.

But Prateek’s insistence that his father create an unbeatable virtual reality villain gives the cyberworld creature, Ra.One, some grandiose ideas and an ambition to wreak havoc in the real world. Khan also plays the role of G.One, a blue-suited virtual superhero who is Prateek’s and his mother’s only hope for survival.

In typical Bollywood style, the film offers four playful and dazzling dance production numbers, including one that pays homage to the Ben E. King classic, “Stand by Me.”

The film, which splits its time between London and Mumbai, also features some wild, CGI-heavy action scenes, prompting a disclaimer that the stunts are choreographed by professionals and should not be mimicked by audience members.

The nonetheless family-friendly Ra.One seems geared for an adolescent audience — and it helps to be fluent in Bollywood cinema.

John Singleton Likely to Direct Tupac Biopic

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 30, 2011) While the details of the Tupac Shakur biopic are still being worked out, John Singleton is in negotiations about possibly directing the flick.

The opportunity comes almost 20 years after he directed “Poetic Justice” starring Tupac and Janet Jackson. Both the director and rapper became close friends during filming, which would definitely give the director an edge in directing the very personal film.

Previously, the project was under the direction of “Training Day” director, Antoine Fuqua, however, it seems as if he was having a hard time casting the main role.

As a result, he gave up and decided to move on to the next thing, leaving the biopic hanging in the air.

But it might turn out to be a good thing.

Singleton was rumored to be directing the N.W.A. biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” but it looks like that won’t happen because the studio decided to see how Compton native Craig Brewer fares with his version of “Footloose,” which is out this weekend.

In case you’re wondering, Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson are the original authors of the Tupac script. But Brian Tucker has penned the most recent draft.

The Skin Antonio Banderas Lives In

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Oct 27, 2011) Antonio Banderas says working with a director as kinkily cerebral as Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar has gotten no easier in the two decades that have passed since their last collaboration, 1990’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

“It was — thank God — difficult because Pedro is not an easy director for actors,” said Banderas, 51, who plays a genius doctor with a very dark secret in
The Skin I Live In, opening Friday. He also takes the lead in a very different role, the animated title hero of Puss in Boots, that hits screens on the same day.

“He (Almodovar) is very demanding, very precise. He doesn’t like that you carry a suitcase filled with tricks. He takes that suitcase and throws it out during rehearsal and makes you naked totally and insecure,” Banderas said in an interview during TIFF in September.

Banderas said the natural instinct of any actor presented with the role of Dr. Robert Ledgard — whose experiments on a female hostage border on the Frankenstein-ian — was “to play him ‘big.’” Almodovar’s instinct, which prevailed, was the opposite.

“He said, ‘No Antonio, the narrative of the movie is enough complicated . . . and if we go bigger, it’s going to be messy. We have to be very contained in the acting, very minimalist, very economical,’” Banderas recalled.

“The kind of psychopathy that (Almodovar) was trying to portray in the character is the type of man — serial killers you may call them — that melt perfectly into the society that they are living in, well-dressed, polite, respected, people who go to church on Sundays, but then they’ve got three people mutilated in the fridge. We have heard that many times when these guys are finally caught by the police,” Banderas said.

So Almodovar insisted that Ledgard be portrayed “almost like white screen in which people can actually put all their fears, which are going to be way bigger than whatever you can represent to them.”

Banderas vividly remembers the polarized reaction — outrage from some, high praise from others — that 1980s collaborations between the two, including Matador and The Law of Desire, provoked. He expects Almodovar’s latest to do the same.

And while some critics regard the film as a major departure from Almodovar’s previous works — quirky, darkly funny social satires, peopled with vivid characters — Banderas begs to differ.

“It’s not the type of leap I’ve heard people saying . . . ‘Pedro is jumping into another territory.’ I think he’s actually jumping into himself. Knowing him very well for almost 30 years, it (the film) is more Almodovar than Almodovar. This is actually the essential of what he is and how he sees life, not from the point of view of someone who wants to (portray) a very troubling story but as a creator,” Banderas said.

One thing everyone can agree on is Almodovar’s unique voice and refusal to play to mainstream audiences, Banderas said.

“Pedro never plays in his mind for the masses; it’s not in his mind. He’s playing for individualities together and he’s very precise about that. He hates mainstream situations. He’s almost allergic to them. He creates his own universe. You buy or you don’t buy it, that’s the game.”

FILM TIDBITS

Nyuk, Nyuk: First Look At New Three Stooges

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

(Oct 27, 2011) Less well-known is Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, who played Rob Weiss in 24 and was last seen in the TV miniseries The Kennedys as Frank Sinatra. Uncanny how much Diamantopoulos looks like Jim Carrey, who was originally tapped to beef up to play Curly in the Farrelly Bros. big-screen adaptation. (Benicio Del was originally to play Moe and Sean Penn was down for Larry.) While he was in Toronto on a press tour last year for the comedy Hall Pass, Bobby Farrelly told me the Stooges would be shot in three segments, like the style of the original black-and-white film shorts from the '30s and '40s. The Three Stooges, which was filmed in colour, opens in April.

Samuel L. Jackson Named Highest Grossing Actor Of All Time

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

(Oct 27, 2011) Samuel L. Jackson has been named the highest grossing actor of all time. The 62-year-old star — who has appeared in hit films such as Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas — has appeared in more than 100 movies, which have pulled in a total of $7.4 billion, according to the Guinness World Records. Jackson’s box office success has triumphed over Hollywood heavyweights including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Matt Damon to the honour thanks to his roles in motion pictures such as Jurassic Park, which raked in $914 million. The Snakes on a Plane star’s portrayal of Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequels — Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Clone Wars — helped accumulate around $2.4 billion for the franchise. Jackson looks set to increase his total after signing up to star in thriller movie The Samaritan next year, which will see him play a former trickster who decides to change his life following a 20-year stay in prison. The project will be the last one he has time to shoot before filming begins for the eagerly anticipated comic-book adaptation The Avengers, which will see him star alongside Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth.

Morgan Spurlock Helps Filmmakers Find Ad Dollars

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lou Ferrara

(Oct 31, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Morgan Spurlock is still selling out, only now he wants to help other documentary filmmakers find ad dollars, too. The director on Monday announced the creation of Launch PAD, an initiative to help filmmakers find sponsorship and product placement deals with advertisers. The program is being launched by the DOC NYC festival and advertising company Grey New York. Though documentarians typically avoid alliances with corporate sponsors, Spurlock made product placement the subject of his 2011 film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Launch PAD has five films for which it will seek financial assistance, and it plans to select five more films in the coming months. The program will be led by Claudia Strauss, CEO of Grey New York’s Alliance unit.

::TV NEWS::     

FX Canada launches Monday with American Horror Story

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Oct 28, 2011) One of the last big U.S. cable brands to cross the border arrives Monday. Will it be a hit or an American Horror Story?

FX Canada launches at 9 p.m. Monday with a special Halloween night airing of American Horror Story, the creepy new drama from Glee producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Rogers Digital and East Link subscribers can enjoy a two-month free preview (channel 318 on Rogers Digital and in high definition on Rogers’ channel 565 in Ontario only). Distribution on other Canadian carriers is still being negotiated.

Horror Story stars Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) and Dylan McDermott (The Practice) as a couple whose marriage is almost as spooked and ruined as the sinister haunted house they move into in California. It is one of several shows originating from FX, the U.S. cable service that broke through a decade ago with Emmy-winner The Shield and became home to such provocative adult hits as Nip/Tuck (also from Murphy/Falchuk), Rescue Me, Damages and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Besides Horror Story, current FX hits airing on FX Canada will include the offbeat comedy Wilfred. Elijah Wood plays a guy whose best friend is a six-foot Australian in a dog suit. Early seasons of the modern western Justified and the gritty biker drama Sons of Anarchy will also be in the rotation (Pay-TV channel Super Channel still has the newer episodes of these FX series), as will Louis C.K.’s edgy comedy Louie.

Migrating these cable networks across the border hasn’t always been easy. Awareness spills into Canada and so do certain programs. Still, brand acceptance is not always a sure thing.

Back when it was owned by Canwest, Global had its own horror story when it tried to relaunch its then-owned regional channels — such as Hamilton’s CHCH — by importing the E! brand. The result was a mishmash of regular syndicated fare and local news with trashy celebrity rehab programming. Think of it as American garbage being turned away at the border. Within two years of launch, Global gave up on E! as well as its regional stations. (E! currently airs in Canada as a Bell-owned digital channel.)

HBO Canada, on the other hand, has flourished. Astral and Corus, the Canadian media companies that own The Movie Network and Movie Central, licensed the HBO brand and funnelled offerings such as True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Real Time with Bill Maher into one Canadian HBO option. It also replicated the HBO on-air environment and invested in Canadian fare — such as Jason Priestley’s big Gemini winner Call Me Fitz—creating a package that led to higher subscriptions, viewership and revenues. “It’s obviously given us a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” says Astral senior vice president, marketing and sales, Domenic Vivolo.

The move to bring FX to Canada came about as Rogers broadcasting president Scott Moore and other show buyers sought U.S. content for Citytv. Having locked up rights to main Fox network fare such as Terra Nova and New Girl, the idea of cherry-picking FX comedy Wilfred was floated. That led to suggestions and inquiries into taking the whole network. “I believe you can build an entire network around one or two shows,” says Moore. “Look at what Mad Men has done for AMC.”

One of the most valuable assets in the deal may be the association with FX network president John Landgraf. A savvy programmer who has spun U.S. gold on Canadian-style programming budgets, Landgraf already had his eye on Canada. “We’ve wanted to have a dedicated outlet for our programs in Canada for as long as I can remember,” he says on the phone from his offices in L.A. “We would have loved to launch a channel on our own, but the nature of Canadian law is you can’t do that.”

For years, Canadian content and ownership restrictions, policed by the Canadian Radio- television Telecommunications Commission to protect “genre exclusivity,” prevented Comedy Central, ESPN, Disney, FX, HBO and others from flooding whole cloth across the border. Lately, though, especially as distributors like Rogers, Shaw and Bell control the Canadian television landscape, those restrictions have relaxed considerably. Canadian broadcasters have partnered with American media companies and — with promises to add Canadian content on a graduating basis — have brought these U.S. cable brands to Canadians. American companies, seeing revenues stagnate or slide in a tough economy and a saturated market, have been only to open to exploring some northern exposure.

The key to these U.S. cable migrations, as it always is in television, seems to be having the right content at the right time. For years, Canadians wanted their MTV. First CHUM, and now Bell-owned CTV has tried to give it to them, with mixed results. Jersey Shore still has some buzz on the Canadian digital channel MTV Canada, but never seemed to be the phenomenon it was in the States.

The other key seems to be, in Moore’s words, “having the programming match the brand.” FX’s schedule appeals more to young male viewers than most other networks, a strategy that fits with Rogers’ stable of Sportsnet and City channels. Having a property that fits across all platforms makes cross-promotion easier, figures Moore. You can lure more Sportsnet viewers over to The League on FX than you could Oprah on OWN.

Perhaps culture also has something to do with these cable migrations. Landgraf guesses that, in Canada, “there’s a level of sophistication or nuance more synonymous with brands like HBO and FX.” He notes that FX comedies like Archer, Louie and Wilfred generally import well in the U.K., where they’re seen as “a little bit less slapstick-y, little less broad.” He thinks the kind of comedy FX does is very compatible “with Canadian writers, actors and comedians who have thrived in the American marketplace.”

Whether those Canadian writers, actors and comedians — as well as others in the industry — will get a chance to strut their wares on FX Canada is something that will be watched closely. The channel is required to devote at least 15% of its schedule at start up to Canadian fare, a percentage that is supposed to grow each year. Given the normal time it takes to get shows to market, it may be two or three years before a Canadian Horror Story will get a chance to scare up as many viewers as the U.S. deal.

Niche cable networks are not always an E!sy sell in Canada. Brands that seem to have strong name recognition in the U.S. — E!, MTV, OWN — survive there thanks to a much larger subscription base. When they are imported into Canada, the slice of the smaller pie yields smaller returns and little margin for error. Other U.S. cable brands seem to thrive when they migrate north of the border. Cases in point:

WINNERS

HBO Canada: Astral’s Domenic Vivolo says the 2008 launch of HBO Canada has led to annual subscription growth and reduced churn. “Research showed we had the programming,” says Vivolo of HBO content previously seen on TMN, “but really what Canadians wanted was the brand.”

Disney Jr., Disney XD: Vivolo says these channels aimed at kids 2-5 and 5-9 have also been big winners.

LOSERS

OWN CANADA: It didn’t help that news of OWN’s U.S. ratings struggles emerged even before OWN Canada launched last March. Will it be Rosie to the rescue? The success of Rosie O’Donnell’s new nightly talk show is seen as key to OWN’s survival.

E!: Global tried — and failed — to launch E! on its regional networks. After two years it abandoned both the brand and the stations. Now CTV is trying E! out as a digital brand.

MTV Canada: The Jersey Shore is a long way from Canada both in distance and TV ratings success — although Bell Media boasts the series is its top online draw with more than 14 million video viewers. The big TV obstacle: young viewers among most fickle, don’t hang onto brands.

CABLE NETWORK WINNERS AND LOSERS

Niche cable networks are not always an E!sy sell in Canada. Brands that seem to have strong name recognition in the U.S. — E!, MTV, OWN — survive there thanks to a much larger subscription base. When they are imported into Canada, the slice of the smaller pie yields smaller returns and little margin for error. Other U.S. cable brands seem to thrive when they migrate north of the border. Cases in point:

WINNERS

HBO Canada: Astral’s Domenic Vivolo says the 2008 launch of HBO Canada has led to annual subscription growth and reduced churn. “Research showed we had the programming,” says Vivolo of HBO content previously seen on TMN, “but really what Canadians wanted was the brand.”

Disney Jr., Disney XD: Vivolo says these channels aimed at kids 2-5 and 5-9 have also been big winners.

LOSERS

OWN CANADA: It didn’t help that news of OWN’s U.S. ratings struggles emerged even before OWN Canada launched last March. Will it be Rosie to the rescue? The success of Rosie O’Donnell’s new nightly talk show is seen as key to OWN’s survival.

E!: Global tried — and failed — to launch E! on its regional networks. After two years it abandoned both the brand and the stations. Now CTV is trying E! out as a digital brand.

MTV Canada: The Jersey Shore is a long way from Canada both in distance and TV ratings success — although Bell Media boasts the series is its top online draw with more than 14 million video viewers. The big TV obstacle: young viewers among most fickle, don’t hang onto brands.

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil Proves A Screaming Hit

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Oct 29, 2011) It was like something straight out of the book of pure evil.

There they were, the toast of Canadian television, gathered for the annual Gemini Awards. The category: best ensemble performance in a comedy. The nominees: the casts of 22 Minutes; Jason Priestley’s top-nominated HBO Canada series, Call Me Fitz; and the cancelled CBC comedy 18 to Life. Oh, and a little show on Space called
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil.

When the Todd cast were declared the winners, a piercing scream went up through the banquet room. It wasn’t some demon from hell, a CBC network executive or one of the losing cast members (those were gasps); it was from Todd co-creator and executive producer Craig David Wallace.

“I believe I sprung out of my chair, pumped my fists in the air, screamed real loud and scared a bunch of people nearby,” says Wallace of his Gemini outburst.

“We were all very, very shocked to get eight Gemini nominations and none of us thought we’d ever get a single one. Our show is pretty offbeat — we didn’t think we’d swing the juries our way.”

Offbeat is not the half of it. When Todd and the Book of Pure Evil returns for a second season Sunday at 10 p.m. on Space, the setting has shifted to that most terrifying of places: a retirement home (or “redierment home” as it’s called in the opener).

Our heroes, those four plucky teens from Crowley High — pot-smoking rock god wannabe Todd (Alex House), righteous babe Jenny (Maggie Castle), best bud Curtis (Bill Turnbull) and brainiac Hannah (Melanie Leishman) — must fight off a swarm of man-gobbling, very angry zombie zoomers in order to wrest the book of evil away from creepy guidance counsellor Atticus (Chris Leavins). He’s now the head of the evil satanic society who lusts after Jenny as well as the powerful book of evil.

If it all sounds like something out of an Evil Dead movie, that’s no accident. Wallace and co-creator Charles Picco grew up on Sam Raimi films.

Others have called the series a potty-mouthed Buffy the Vampire Slayer but Wallace swears he came late to Buffy and then only at the urging of his wife.

Raimi is famous for weaving comedy into his horror films, and Todd draws from the same kooky cauldron. The Season 2 opener is a bit of a stinker as the high school heroes have to find a way to get the seniors to expel the evil spirits in a ghastly and gastronomical fashion.

The result is that blood isn’t the only thing splattered on the walls of the redierment home. “It’s a very messy show,” admits Wallace, who calculates that 55 gallons of fake blood are spilled this year. “There’s blood everywhere — and other bodily fluids.”

A native of Coquitlam, B.C., Wallace says he was coasting through high school until he got turned on to film auditing courses at nearby Port Moody Secondary School.

With the help of the Canadian Film Centre, he produced a low-budget short film that became the blueprint for Todd.

“The Canadian Film Centre was fantastic,” says Wallace. “I don’t really think I’d be here today without them. They gave me a real structure and a real set of goals and purpose.”

While Todd is mainly shot in an abandoned school in Winnipeg, the short film was made in Toronto on the set of Degrassi: The Next Generation. An association with a producer there led to Degrassi fan and Kevin Smith pal Jason Mewes joining the Todd brigade. His appearances as Jimmy lends Todd some stoner cred, admits Wallace.

Wallace and the cast have been overwhelmed by fan reaction to the series. “We spend all our time hermetically sealed in a school in Winnipeg or locked into edit suites in Toronto,” he says.

“We know there are fans out there thanks to Facebook and Twitter, but when we actually come face to face with them at packed houses at fan expos, it’s exhilarating as well as just a little bit terrifying. These people are actually paying attention to what we are doing. We’d better deliver.”

That fan base is spreading. Season 1 was the most watched Canadian program on the Comedy Network this summer. Besides airing on Space and Comedy, a “cleaned-up version” (minus all the profanity) can be seen on MuchMusic.

In August, Todd took its evil act to the U.S., where it premiered on Fearnet. A Season 1 DVD was released this month, crammed with outtakes, commentary and other bonus features.

This season, there’s an all-singing episode that Wallace feels is a series high point. With all the singing and seniors and profanity and blood, just who is this series for? Says Wallace, “It’s for anybody who remembers high school as hell.”

Oldie but Goodie ‘In Living Color’ Returning to a TV Near You

Source: www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2011) *The revolutionary 90s sketch comedy show “In Living Color” is on its way back to television.

According to reports, the show’s creator, Keenen Ivory Wayans is working with FOX to revive the classic series.

It’ll all begin with two half-hour specials of the original show in 2012 as part of the network’s 25th anniversary celebration. But there’s a bit of a twist. The specials will include new faces and fresh musical performances.

If the shows get a good response, we might be seeing “In Living Color” on a regular basis.

“In Living Color” debuted in 1990 and broke stereotypes by employing a cast of mostly black comedians and introducing hip-hop and dancing to mainstream television. It helped launch the careers of Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and David Alan Grier. It ended its run in 1994 after five seasons.

Speaking of Carrey and Foxx, there’s no word yet on whether they will appear on the show, or if Jennifer Lopez (J Lo) will return and do a special appearance as a dancing Fly Girl.

Rosie O'Donnell to Mix Comedy And Talk On New Show

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(October 31, 2011) Everything's coming up Rosie again.

Following a few years out of the spotlight, the unsinkable comedian
and actress has resurfaced in The Rosie Show.

Born in Queens, N.Y., O'Donnell made her mark in several films (A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle) before signing on for The Rosie O'Donnell Show in 1996. The popular daytime talker ran until 2002 and earned multiple Emmys for O'Donnell, who joined the panel of The View in 2006.

Although she generated her share of controversy on the show - including a feud with co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck - O'Donnell is in a more nurturing environment on her new show, which airs on the recently launched Oprah Winfrey Network. She spoke to us recently from Chicago.

How has the daytime TV landscape evolved since your last show?

It's changed completely. When I started in 1996, I had to convince people I was not going to do a Jerry Springer-type show. What was drawing all the attention then was the news that a Jenny Jones guest had been murdered and Geraldo Rivera had his nose broken. With the exception of Oprah, there was no other daytime show putting forth messages of positivity in 1996. When I entered the fray, I was dubbed the Queen of Nice.

Is it a different TV vibe working for Oprah?

Well, Oprah is sort of magical. I don't think she gets the effect she's had on most of the country, if not the entire world. I do believe in what she taught us all, that you can live your best life, and if you dream it, you can live it. A large part of my career and success is because of watching her and learning from her, so to be here now with her is beyond a dream come true. For me, it's like winning the lottery.

Was Oprah's former daytime program your template going into this show?

If there was anything to pick what it will be most similar to, it would be Craig Ferguson's show. I think he's a genius. We'll have a little bit of comedy, a lot of heart and a bit of information thrown in. It's not going to be like Crossfire or people arguing about topics. It's going to be more like the tone of my other show. We cover relevant things, but in a unique manner.

What's different for you this time around?

One thing I really didn't like about my old show, which is the trend happening on talk shows today, is the guests get five or six minutes. You can't really get a conversation going in that amount of time. So we're going to have a real lengthy sit-down, an insightful interview. Then we're going to have a human-interest segment or a rolled-in piece, and we're going to play a game at the end of every show.

What role will social media play?

We're going to incorporate social media to guide the show, in terms of direction. So if there are guests people want to see or questions they want to ask, we have a whole division to cull through that. Facebook we've just started. I truthfully tried to use it five times and it was too confusing, with the wall and the friends and all. Twitter, I totally get. We're going to use both fully.

You've relocated from New York to Chicago for the new show. First impressions?

I love it. It's like a beautiful, clean, European kind of version of New York. Now, I have yet to do a winter, and the people in the audience laugh at me and say "Just wait," but I'm astounded by the beauty of the city. The only thing I'm afraid of is this snowmageddon winter thing, but my garage is heated.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

The Rosie Show airs weekdays at 7 p.m. on OWN.

Seinfeld First Fill-In For Regis

Source: www.thestar.com

(Nov 01, 2011) Jerry Seinfeld will be the first guest host in the post-Regis Philbin era of talk show Live! With Kelly.

The actor and comedian, known best for the 1990s TV show Seinfeld, will take the co-host’s chair for three shows, Nov. 21 to 23.

Philbin’s last show is Nov. 18.

“Jerry is a great friend of ours and a friend of Kelly’s, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s an entertainment icon,” executive producer Michael Gelman said in a statement. “It’s a great way to kick off the new beginning of our show.”

There’ll be some Canadian content when Seinfeld and Kelly Ripa do the hosting duties.

Actress Kim Cattrall and comedian Howie Mandel are among the scheduled guests. Others include actor Jason Segel, chef Jamie Oliver and Miss Piggy.

Live! airs in Canada on CTV, Mondays to Fridays at 9 a.m.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner is Now the Daddy Mr. Huxtable was to Him

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 30, 2011) *It’s really ironic that Malcolm-Jamal Warner went from being the son, Theodore Huxtable, on one of the most watched television shows in America, “The Cosby Show,” to portraying a stay-at-home daddy, Dr. Alex Reed on new sitcom, “Reed Between the Lines.”

“It’s all been very surreal. Because I was 14 when Cosby first aired and Nadji Jeter who plays my stepson is fourteen. So some days it’s like, ‘Wow. Where did the time go?’” Warner told BET.com. ”Other times Nadji will hit me on text or Twitter and say like, ‘Yo Pops, what’s up?’ And I’d hit him back, ‘Boy, you do not call me Pops unless we are on camera and we are rolling.’”

Now that he’s been a child star and the roles are reversed, the actor is gladly taking his job seriously as he mentors the children on set.

“Working with Mr. [Bill] Cosby for so many years had a big impact on how I see the life or the job of celebrity and because I was exposed to him I think I handled my fame in a certain way,” says Warner.  ”Tracee [Ellis Ross] and I hope that we can have the same positive influence on them [our TV children] when it comes to celebrity.”

TV TIDBITS

Eddie Murphy Planning ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ TV Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 28, 2011) Eddie Murphy may not be making a “Beverly Hills Cop IV,” but the actor says he’s working on bringing the successful film franchise to the small screen. Murphy says in the new issue of Rolling Stone that he’s planning a TV series that would revolve around the son of his Axel Foley character. “Axel is the chief of police now in Detroit,” Murphy says. “I’d do the pilot, show up here and there.” The actor, who returns to the big screen on Nov. 4 in the crime comedy “Tower Heist,” also told Rolling Stone a fourth “Cop” movie never materialized because “none of the movie scripts were right.” “It was trying to force the premise,” Murphy said. “If you have to force something, you shouldn’t be doing it. It was always a rehash of the old thing. It was always wrong.” The new Rolling Stone hits newsstands today.

Audio: Raven Says Stress of Being Teen Mogul Added Pounds

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Cherie Saunders

(October 31, 2011)
*While attending Sheryl Lee Ralph’s DIVAS Simply Singing event last week, Raven Symone’s new slimmed-down physique was on full display, complete with hands resting on the honeycomb-style waist of her long blush dress. [See photo above]. The weight loss is something the 25-year-old actress/singer/producer has achieved through the help of a rather unorthodox workout regimen. “I have a house with stairs,” the former child star tells EURweb. “So I try my best to forget stuff downstairs and go up and down. I also have an elliptical [machine], but I do it whenever my weave isn’t in, when it’s my natural hair, because otherwise my hair gets messed up and I can’t be camera ready.” Symone, who began producing TV projects while still in her teens, says her current fitness routine and diet are the same ones she practiced back in the day. But, the “That’s So Raven” and “State of Georgia” vet points to a specific reason why the pounds were slower to come off back then.  Listen below.

 Raven Symone talks weight loss by CherieNic

Will Smith’s Company Producing Queen Latifah Talk Show

Source: www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2011) *Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are bringing Queen Latifah back to daytime television. Their Overbrook Entertainment production company has joined forces with Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television to produce a new daytime syndicated talk show to be hosted by the actress/rapper/singer, according to USA Today’s Gary Levin. Latifah previously teamed with Warner Bros.’ TelePictures for a talk show that lasted two seasons, from 1999-2001. Her Overbrook-produced talk show is set to bow in 2013.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Cirque du Soleil to Celebrate Michael Jackson on the Tight Ropes

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 30, 2011) Michael Jackson was a legend before his untimely death. But his name and collection of work is being honored in a new way, along with classic artists Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

The late King of Pop is going to be celebrated with a Cirque du Soleil show.

“Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” made its U.S. debut Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, only a handful of miles away from the old Motown Records headquarters where Jackson got his start as a member of The Jackson 5, says the Associated Press.

The two-hour show incorporates the magnificent talent of Cirque’s acrobatic performances and the sheer showmanship Jackson was known for.

“Michael was a performer that was not just music. He was dance. He was cinema. He had a humanitarian side,” said Kevin Antunes, the “Immortal” show’s musical designer. “So, you can take all of that and put it all into the show. That’s where I think the difference is.”

If you go see the show, expect the Cirque version of “Smooth Criminal,” “Thriller,” and other classics. The show will tour around the country through July 2012, but more dates will be added. And by 2013, it will take permanent residence at the Mandalay Bay Theatre in Las Vegas.

Speaking of “Immortal,” the unreleased music and remixed versions of the Jackson hits will hit stores on Nov. 21 and will feature 37 tracks.

Taking Humours Seriously

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(Oct 28, 2011) Toronto-based dancer/choreographer and multi-disciplinary artist Gerry Trentham delights in probing the unknown by floating meaty questions.

The inquisitorial process is every bit as illuminating as the answers that may be revealed; but never before has it resulted in a production as technically complex as
Four Mad Humours, the “bi-national, interdisciplinary, real-time, networked performance” that, starting Wednesday, audiences in Toronto and Buffalo will view simultaneously.

“It’s been insane,” says Trentham, as he reflects on the five-year-long process of creation, work-shopping and refinement that’s brought together American and Canadian dancers, media and video artists, costume and lighting designers and composers for a boldly experimental work aptly rooted in an investigation of human madness.

Trentham took his cue from the centuries-old notion of the four “humours” — temperaments or dispositions — and their related elements: sanguine (air), choleric (fire), melancholic (earth) and phlegmatic (water). In Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo and Chicago, he choreographed and wrote the integrated text for four related solos, each developed with a different dancer.

The idea Trentham explores is that when a distinct humour is pushed to the extreme it leads to imbalance and madness. But that’s only part of it.

Four Mad Humours also probes broader issues of very contemporary concern, such as the human impact of a networked world and virtual reality. How do such constructed environments and systems affect the range of human experience and its physical expression in bodily movement?

Toronto audiences will get to ponder this in a very immediate way. In the first half of an almost two-hour program they will watch local dancer Linnea Swan perform Phglematic (Shades of Blue), live on stage at the Theatre Centre. A screen behind her will feature what Trentham describes as “scenic media,” video imagery that creates an appropriate “landscape” for a solo about the cold reality of loss.

Alongside her there will also be a “quad screen” featuring a high-speed internet-connected feed of Amy Taravella’s simultaneous performance of Sanguine (Degrees of Red) before a live audience at Buffalo’s ALT Theatre.

Apart from having different live performances, the American audience will enjoy the same networked experience.

Sounds complicated? Wait; there are three more screens in that quad to be accounted for.

One will carry the outgoing feed to Buffalo of Swan’s Toronto solo. The other two screens, observed simultaneously in both cities, will feature pre-recorded performances of the remaining Melancholy (Measured in Green) and Choleric (In Yellow Scale) solos that Jim Morrow in Buffalo and Trentham in Toronto will respectively dance in the program’s second half.

The complexity is of course deliberate, designed as it is to echo the multi-tasking, split-focussed nature of the way many people now live their lives. It questions the way we assess something “real”, that’s live, before our eyes, and experiences delivered generated electronically from another reality.

“It questions the very nature of technology and where it may be leading us,” Trentham explains of a work whose own development depended considerably on long-distance, internet-connected collaboration.

“But I’m not offering any kind of judgmental point of view. I just hope it will prove to be a very interesting experiment.”

(Nov 2 - 5; Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St. W. Tickets $20-27: 416- 538-0988 or www.theatrecentre.org).

A Spellbinding Performance – Behind Bars

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Susan Walker

(Oct 28, 2011) VICTORIA - “He’s been accused of being a bad actor for all these years and now he has a chance to prove all his critics wrong,” says the inmate who plays Flay in Gormenghast – a stage adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s gothic epic of a boy who wants to escape the shackles of tradition and experience life beyond the castle walls. And yes, you read that right. It’s a play performed at the minimum security penitentiary William Head Institution.

Canadian prisons often produce prisoner publications and periodically turn out work by visual artists, but William Head on Stage is unique in the penal system. It’s a testament to the power of theatre to change lives that this program – which is not only produced but also sustained by the inmates – is now in its 30th year. It’s also the only theatre program in a Canadian prison that plays to the public.

William Head itself is a dramatic setting: a beautiful point of land surrounded by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 45 minutes outside Victoria in Metchosin. Audience members arrive at high double fences topped with barbed wire, and are checked in and scanned for contraband before being chauffeured by inmate valets to a gymnasium. Doors are locked at 7 p.m. – but before the curtain goes up, visitors mingle with their hosts in a reception area where prison-made carvings, bentwood boxes and aboriginal artwork are on display.

Ian Case, general manager of Victoria’s Intrepid Theatre, is directing Gormenghast, his fourth play at William Head. He talks of the level of commitment and the visceral performances he’s witnessed in such works as Macbeth, Waiting for Godot and Elephant Man.

“I think it’s important to challenge them as artists,” he says, adding that theatre is a good socialization tool. “Whether you like someone or not, you have to trust [that person] on stage.”

Inmate Stan Livingston, who has participated in six productions, took over this year as president of the William Head on Stage Theatre Society. The program’s rehabilitative effect, he says, is “massive.”

As a show comes together, prisoners “overcome a lot of their fears and anxieties,” he says. “They’ve gained new tools to express themselves.”

They also learn business skills, raising money from sponsors and managing their box-office receipts to finance each year’s production.

Frank Borg, who spent three years at William Head in the 1990s, says he got encouragement from a fellow inmate who was a published writer – eventually Borg penned both an adaptation of Albert Camus’s The Stranger and a satire on prison politics, Left Over Crumbs, for the William Head stage.

After his release, Borg became a screenwriter, playwright and sometime movie actor, whose credits include scripts for Da Vinci’s Inquest, The Collector and Shattered.

“I had never written before, and it gave me an option,” Borg, now 55 and living in Toronto, says of the theatre program. It’s an important one to maintain, he says, in a time of increasing restrictions on prisoners and a conservative attitude toward punishment.

In the absence of female inmates, the women’s roles are filled by professional actors, who find the experience transformative too. Kate Rubin, who runs an acting studio in Victoria, is the Countess of Groan in Gormenghast. Doing the show, she says, draws on “big emotions, larger-than-life intense stuff, which they know really well. There’s a positive release of that kind of emotion on stage.”

She’s also watched the effect on the men’s self-esteem: “They’re used to dealing with a lot of shame and [as actors] they get positive reinforcement from the applause and acknowledgment of the audience.”

The plays often hit home in other ways, too. The inmates know the politics of power, Rubin notes, and they can add profundity to shows such as Animal Farm, Macbeth and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

“These guys have had some rough starts in life and some have made some pretty hard mistakes,” she says. “[Acting with them] is hard work, but it’s good work. It lights you up.”

Gormenghast

Adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s trilogy

by John Constable

Directed by Ian Case

Starring Kate Rubin, Ingrid Hansen and inmates of the William Head Federal Institution

A more fitting environment for a production of Gormenghast would be hard to find. The male characters in Mervyn Peake’s gothic fantasy – a trilogy completed in 1959 about the trials of Titus Groan, the 77th Earl of Gormenghast – are vividly portrayed by men who show an acute appreciation for the struggle between absolute power and individual aspirations.

The inmates (who under prison regulations cannot be identified) put on a spellbinding performance – employing shadow puppetry, masks and ingenious stagecraft to convey Titus’s difficult coming of age and his ultimate rejection of the heavy mantle of Gormenghast tradition and its insistence on “no change.”

Victoria actor Kate Rubin plays Titus’s cat-adoring mother Gertrude with dark humour and establishes the workings of a dysfunctional family. A grey-haired inmate in the role of Titus’s father, Sepulchrave, handily lords over the first act, until the appearance of Steerpike, the kitchen boy determined to rule the House of Gormenghast after he kills Swelter, the cleaver-wielding cook, and takes over as Master of Ritual.

Steerpike is riveting, a menacing but seductive player convincing in his wooing and betrayal of Fuchsia, Titus’s older sister, played by professional actor Ingrid Hansen.

All runs uncommonly smoothly: Stratford this isn’t – but gripping? Indeed.

Gormenghast runs until Nov. 12 at the William Head Federal Institution in Victoria.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Eric Peterson And Sonja Smits Are Put To The Test

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(Nov. 2, 2011) Veteran actors
Eric Peterson and Sonja Smits are rarely at a loss for words, but both are practically tongue-tied when asked to describe Dublin-born director Jason Byrne's unorthodox rehearsal strategy for his new play, The Test.

"Jason's method is somewhat different in that it's not based on a lot of verbal discussion," throws out Peterson, who stars alongside his Street Legal co-star in The Test, which opens Thursday night at the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto. "Basically, he operates by having you get up and do things in rehearsal - even when you don't know what you're doing. It's like continually working in a fog. There is no looking for clarity here. It's all about impulse and emotion. And every day is about fear management," adds the 65-year-old, who worked with Byrne before on the 2008 Toronto production of the critically acclaimed play Festen.

Then Smits takes a stab at articulating how Byrne's "unique" style of directing - by not directing - works. "He does not block scenes. He offers little guidance, and encourages his actors to simply engage in the moment with the material - in the raw emotions.

"It's both freeing and incredibly frustrating, especially when you start out," says Smits, who worked with Peterson 17 years ago on the CBC-TV series Street Legal and also collaborated with the Saskatchewan-born thespian on George Walker's play Nothing Sacred.

"The traditional rehearsal process means you walk in the first day, and the director shows you costumes, sketches, the set, and then you read and block the floor so everyone knows where they're moving. Jason doesn't work like that," adds Smits. "Literally the first week of rehearsal was improvisation. You could go off script, and you were encouraged to fly in extreme directions if you wanted to. It's all about being reactive and flexible. It's very much alive, but it's sort of like a non-acting, for lack of a better word."

Byrne's The Test is the first English-language translation of the play from up-and-coming Swiss-German playwright Lukas Barfuss. A Company Theatre production, which runs until Nov. 26, it's a gallows-humour comedy that revolves around the thorny issue of paternity. The Gemini-winning Peterson (Billy Bishop Goes to War, Corner Gas) plays Simon Korach, an aspiring, but not very effective politician, who has been long married to Helle (Smits). Their son, Peter (Gord Rand), is happily married to Agnes (Liisa Repo-Martell) and they have a son. Things start to unravel when Peter - prodded by a protagonist (Philip Riccio) - questions the paternity of his boy.

Byrne has previously directed two plays for Company Theatre co-creators Riccio and Republic of Doyle's Allan Hawco - their sophomore production A Whistle in the Dark and Festen. Byrne used the same avant-garde approach with Festen, but acknowledges The Test, in particular, asks the actors "to be extremely vulnerable.

"For me, it's interesting to find a way to harmonize the actual feeling, the atmosphere, sensation and the moods that an actor is feeling on a day-to-day basis, and explore how that can be spontaneously utilized during a performance in a way that will confound my expectations and shed surprising light on the structure of the play," says Byrne, who lives just outside of Dublin.

"When I was younger, I worked in a more traditional way, finding very specific character objectives, figuring out what the arc was, and then trying in rehearsal to enact or perform those. But I got tired of the fixity of that approach. I suppose I'm trying to facilitate a process that allows for collaboration with chance. There is a very strong blueprint that's created by the actors as they make passes - again and again - at the material.

"But to get to where I want to go, we have to go through a lot of chaos, things have to collapse, and become a real mess."

Peterson, who describes all actors as "masochists," agrees Byrne's method is exhausting and exhilarating. "It's the damndest thing because it's so scary. Actors - hell, all human beings - crave safety and security. It's why kids get cranky when they're learning to walk," he says. "It's so hard to talk about this play - what it is, and what it isn't - because it's ineffable, in a sense. We're trying to describe something that really has no description in the sense of a formula, or sense of approach."

Earlier this week, The Test had its first run-through before a live audience. Smits says people reacted "very strongly."

"Some probably thought it was the strangest thing they'd ever seen," she adds with a laugh. "But I've never seen an audience so glued. It was like a good acid trip - or a bad acid trip - I'm just not sure which."

All The News That’s Fit To Mock

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Nov 02, 2011) Steve Patterson is the headliner of Friday’s Just for Laughs comedy package at Massey Hall. If he had his way, though, he would trade in stand-up for a desk job.

“I want to come up with the answer to U.S. comedy newsmagazines like The Daily Show and Colbert. Interesting people interviewed by people who bring out the funny in them,” says the 40-year-old, who sees himself, naturally, as host. “I hope that I don’t have to do it all myself, (but) I’ll learn to work the camera if I have to.”

The idea might be a non-starter for the broadcasters (“Everyone is opposed to it from a network point of view,” the comic says, almost cheerily, on the phone from Halifax) but if they change their mind, he’s got the CV to merit consideration.

The recent winner of the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Stand-up and long-time moderator of CBC’s The Debaters is a news junkie who integrates items from the day’s news into his show at every stop. In 2007, he found himself in Australia before the APEC summit there and YouTube reveals him riffing for five minutes on the day’s news, from a rugby player taking ecstasy to an outbreak of horse flu:

“Look what got cancelled: horse races, horse shows and they can’t use the horses for security at the APEC summit. All work for the horses. Ever think they’re faking it?”

Patterson’s work, as the above suggests, stays contemporary without being conventionally “edgy.” A small irony, then, that the Richmond Hill-born, London, Ont.-raised performer went into comedy after some daring work doomed his career as an ad writer.

“I was writing some ad for a company with an amusement park element, including a roller coaster that was celebrating its 25th anniversary.” Patterson’s idea: pitch it as one last chance “for a 45-year-old dad to ride a 25-year-old. We had a good laugh at the agency, anyhow.”

Somehow this made it into the reel shown to the client and the response was such that Patterson was encouraged to pursue his destiny in another field. It’s worked out; he’s the Canadian ringer topping the bill at Friday’s show, otherwise an all-British affair featuring Hal Cruttenden, Terry Alderton, Sean Meo and Matt Kirshen, who knocked our own Debra DiGiovanni out of Last Comic Standing in 2007.

Patterson’s Irish heritage bridges the gap somewhat between himself and his accompanying Brits; at any rate, ethnic differences have a certain history in his comedy, whether he’s teasing out the ironies of an Irish-Quebecois background or confessing his pallid envy of the seductive Latin powers of Enrique Iglesias.

Songs are, in fact, a regular part of his act, and he worked one into the recent Canadian Comedy Awards (he hosted) along the way to ripping Canadian newspapers’ coverage of comedy, taking particular aim at the comics page, “about as funny as watching Margaret Atwood eat a bag of Werther’s.”

Okay, we’ll take a few pointers, but in the meantime Patterson can rededicate himself to that TV dream. He watched the Rob Ford/This Hour Has 22 Minutes debacle unfold and felt once again that “we need a show that (important) people can come on and be entertaining. We don’t have one, which is why 22 Minutes has to go out there and kinda force the humanity out of them.”

Watch Steve Patterson read his letter to Canadian newspaper editors at http://vimeo.com/31148108. Patterson is on Twitter at @Patterballs and hosts a live taping of The Debaters on Nov. 7 at Glenn Gould studio.

THEATRE TIDBITS

Hugh Jackman’s One-Man Show Earns More Than $1M For Week

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(Oct 31, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Hugh Jackman is doing what he does best — selling tickets. The Broadway League says the Tony Award-winning performer’s one-man show pulled in more than $1.2 million at the box office during eight preview performances last week. Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway beat out Daniel Radcliffe’s How to Succeed in Business and the all-star cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies the week ending Sunday. In Jackman’s show, he and an 18-piece orchestra perform songs from his stage and film career, including his star turn in The Boy from Oz. The show opens Nov. 10. Jackman’s pull broke The Broadhurst Theatre’s box office record, beating 700 Sundays starring Billy Crystal, Hamlet with Jude Law and The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino.

From ‘Ugly Betty’ to foxy Roxie for America Ferrera

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(Oct 31, 2011) LONDON — Ugly Betty star America Ferrera says she’s “very excited” about her upcoming West End debut as the showgirl Roxie in Chicago. The American actress embarks on an eight-week stint at the Garrick Theatre beginning Nov. 7. At a news conference Monday, the former TV star says performing on the London stage is something she’s “dreamed” about since childhood. And the glamorous Roxie is a far cry from TV’s Betty, which required Ferrera to wear dental braces and fake thick eyebrows. The 27-year-old Ferrera joins a long list of U.S. celebrities — including model Christie Brinkley — who have played Roxie in London. Starring opposite Ferrera will be actress and dancer Amra-Faye Wright, who plays fellow femme fatale Velma Kelly.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Google Launches Its Ebooks Platform In Canada

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Patch, The Canadian Press

(Nov 01, 2011) TORONTO - Google entered the crowded Canadian ebook market Tuesday, launching an online store that will compete for readers against established giants Amazon and Kobo.

The company says its new ebooks store is distinctive because titles purchased there will be stored online and accessible on a variety of devices, including Android and Apple tablets as well as smartphones, PCs and compatible e-readers including the Kobo, Barnes & Noble's Nook and Sony's Reader.

Amazon's Kindle, however, won't be compatible with titles bought at Google's ebook store.

"When you buy a Google ebook you actually get it in an open format — you don't need to buy a device from us. You can read a Google ebook on any device that supports an open standard," Scott Dougal, director of product management for Google Books, said from California.

"You'll also have access to the global Google cloud — so wherever you go, your books will be there and accessible to you."

Hundreds of thousands of titles will be available for purchase at Google's ebook store — which launched in the United States in December 2010, and the United Kingdom more recently — in addition to more than two million public domain books available for free.

The Google store boasts partnerships with publishers including Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, House of Anansi, Dundurn and McGill-Queen's University Press.

The company also teamed with two Canadian independent bookstores (Winnipeg's McNally Robinson and Campus eBookstore, based in Kingston, Ont.) to allow customers to buy books from those retailers' websites instead of Google.

While Dougal said Google's pricing would be competitive, a preliminary glance at its site Tuesday afternoon showed lower prices elsewhere for Lynn Coady's celebrated novel The Antagonist and Guy Vanderhaeghe's A Good Man.

Coady's book was listed at $28.84 through Google, but was more than $10 cheaper on Kobo's store. Vanderhaeghe's book was $14.39 through Google, and more than $5 less on Kobo.

Still, Google is counting on the fact that its broad selection and versatility will persuade Canadian customers to give its new service a chance.

"We do offer a massive catalogue of books, so for most people there will be more choice for books, we also support a broader range of reading devices," Dougal said.

"We have every major publisher in Canada and a lot of very small Canadiana publishers. We're very aggressive about finding every single book that we can find."

All-In-One Computers: As Good As They Look?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Ramon Ray, Entrepreneur.com

(Oct 27, 2011) The all-in-one computer has been around for years. About 10 years ago, for instance, I had an IBM Thinkvantage computer that was an all-in-one – combining the processor, speaker and monitor all into one device. I thought it was the coolest thing on the planet.

Fast forward to today, and all-in-one computers are cheaper, better designed and much more powerful. Another big bonus: Many come with touch screens.

A few months ago I tested one from Lenovo, which makes a line of all-in-one computers. More recently I looked at some newer computers from HP, which also has a line of all-in-one computers. Other makers include Dell and Acer.

Here are three reasons why you might want to consider using an all-in-one computer for your business:

They save space. Businesses are often tight on space and the best part about these computers is that there's no separate bulky tower. Owners want to save money by occupying less real estate, and since more of our staff is mobile, we don't even need much space any more. In smaller quarters, you're going to want any space-saving solution you can find. While notebook computers are great, you'll find that when you're at your desk for hours you want a larger monitor with a full-powered computer. An all-in-one computer can be your answer here.

Touch screens can improve communication. Not only are the touch screens that most all-in-ones have now functional wonders, they can also improve interactions between you, the computer and your customers, or others you work with. For example, a client or colleague in a product demo or training session is likely to be more engaged in your conversation when they touch the screen than when they use a mouse or keyboard. Beyond running traditional Windows programs (like watching a video or your accounting program) you can work with a developer to create custom software for your industry. For example, maybe you're a baker and you want to let walk-in customers to choose a cake and its decorations through the touch screen of your all-in-one computer.

They look good. Let's face it, all-in-one computers are thin and sleek. Depending on your industry (such as hotels, banking or hospitals) you might need to have a computer in a public place. Instead of having multiple components, a one-piece touch screen computer can help make your lobby, reception desk or other public place look much better.

What's not to like....

If you want to add internal components, such as a dual DVD player or extra hard disk, space is going to be tighter than a traditional tower PC. If you want to standardize one type of monitor and buy a different type of chassis (the CPU part of the computer), then an all-in-one might not be for you.

What's the cost?

Dollar for dollar, an all-in-one computer is going to be more expensive than a traditional desktop computer. You can find them priced from $400 and up.

But the price difference is shrinking, making it a competitively priced option for a business owner who wants a great-looking computer with a touch screen (or maybe one without). As with a regular computer, make sure you purchase plenty of memory and hard-disk space. You'll also want to consider the size of the monitor you want.

Review: Workez Executive A Go-Everywhere Stand For Home Or Office

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chad Sapieha

(Oct 28, 2011) I typically review gadgets that require electricity, but my focus this week is on a nifty piece of engineering that requires no power cords or batteries. Uncaged Ergonomics’ WorkEZ Executive is a multipurpose laptop/tablet stand that’s just about the coolest product of its kind that I’ve run across.

Made of lightweight aluminum, this foldable mini-table has a surface about 45 centimetres across and 25 centimetres deep – plenty of room for tablets and enough space for an average-sized notebook with room to spare for a mouse. A rubber ledge on the bottom provides grip to keep laptops in place, and the surface has a series of cooling holes to disperse excess heat.

But the killer feature here is the table’s two folding legs. Both are comprised of three metal segments that rotate on thick, plastic hinges. These hinges turn 360 degrees, locking into place at 15 degree intervals with satisfying snaps. Broad, spring-loaded buttons in the centre of each hinge are marked with precise angles to let users make quick, guess-free adjustments, and the tip of the lowest segment has been cleverly hollowed to allow access to the hinge button of the second segment when the table is fully folded.

The upshot of all this leg rotating – which takes just seconds, by the way – is that the table is remarkably versatile.

It can elevate a laptop, display, or tablet off the surface of a desk or table. It can also be transformed into a table in front of a chair; a podium-like document holder for executives delivering boardroom lectures; a raised recipe book holder for the kitchen; and a low-rise play and painting table for kids on the floor.

Just lay the bottom segment flat for support, adjust the middle and top segments at zigzagging angles for height, then rotate the tray for viewing comfort.

I used it most frequently on the couch as a stand for my iPad, tweaking the joints to make the tray hover just over my lap at a comfortable height. I used it in bed, too, adjusting its leg segments in a similar manner but rotating the tray nearly upright so that it faced my pillow-propped head.

Basically, it can function as a raised flat surface pretty much anywhere you might need one – even on slightly uneven ground, thanks to those movable joints. This highly portable stand folds up to be no larger and not much heavier than an average dinner tray.

The only hitch I’ve been able to detect is that it can be a bit wobbly in taller orientations. I haven’t seen it fail or tip, but it seems like it would be easy to topple were a passerby to bump into it. This is likely to be expected of something that’s so light and features so many moving joints (its recommended load capacity is a mere six kilograms), but it still makes me hesitant to use it at its highest setting burdened by something as valuable as a laptop or potentially messy as lunch.

I also found that a bit of caution needs to be exercised when rotating the segments, which slide past each other like the blades of a dull pair of scissors. I’ve suffered a couple of mark-making pinches when spinning the segments around too quickly and carelessly.

However, assuming a modicum of prudence is exercised in its operation, I have no trouble recommending this innovative and useful multipurpose table for a wide variety of situations in the home and office.

The WorkEZ Executive is available in black, pink, and silver directly from the manufacturer’s website (www.uncagedergonomics.com) for US$75, along with other versions featuring trays, segments, and joints of different sizes.

This Adventure With Batman Is Both A Feat And A Treat

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chad Sapieha

(Oct 21, 2011) Fashioning a successor to the best superhero video game ever made must have been a daunting task for Rocksteady Studios, makers of 2009’s dazzling Batman: Arkham Asylum. However, the English developer – a company clearly staffed by people with a profound passion for DC Comics’ dark knight – has outdone itself with Batman: Arkham City.

The action is set on a free-to-roam island in the heart of Gotham City that’s been transformed from a decrepit neighbourhood to a prison inhabited by the metropolis’s scariest villains. Captured as alter ego Bruce Wayne, Batman is thrown into this pernicious penitentiary by its corrupt warden, a madman named Hugo Strange with an enigmatic stratagem that even the caped crusader is at a loss to grasp.

At first one can’t help but fixate on the game’s sleek visual veneer. This decaying urban atoll and the creepy prisoners who walk its streets are seething with grimy detail. It’s a luscious, moody graphic novel come to interactive life.

However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find more than just eye candy. The game contains dozens of multifaceted and conflicted characters plucked from the comic’s 70-year history, including the Joker, who spends much of the game in an unsettlingly insecure mood; Mr. Freeze, who becomes Batman’s reluctant ally in a fight against a warmongering Penguin; and the reticently altruistic Catwoman, whose feline antics players get to control on occasion. These personalities are so rich and well-constructed that any one of them could have been the satisfying focus of an entire game. That they’ve been stuffed into a single adventure without dampening their intrigue is both a feat and a treat.

Those unfamiliar with Batman’s complicated past needn’t worry about feeling out of their depth. While hard-core fans will salivate over the game’s narrative minutiae, efficient bits of backstory dropped into the dialogue and text deliver enough information to make even those who’ve never picked up a comic feel as though they’ve known these characters their entire lives.

And it plays wonderfully. Slick combat that takes the form of beautifully cinematic brawls – which would be more than enough for most games – is just one thread in a web of diverse and compelling activities. Whether I was investigating crime scenes for ballistics and blood evidence, operating clever gadgets like the batclaw and the batarang, or silently swooping down from the shadows of gargoyles to covertly incapacitate well-armed foes, I was always left wanting more.

But the heart of the game is Batman himself, a bastion of unremitting righteousness. He’s the ultimate justice seeker; a man whose power lies not in superhuman abilities but his intelligence, force of will and unshakable principles. He stands almost alone among his comic-book and video-game brethren as a protagonist who steadfastly refuses to kill his enemies and is patently incorruptible. He’s the hero we all wish we had the strength to be.

Just as Batman stands symbolic for what’s best in people, Batman: Arkham City represents all that’s great about interactive fantasy. It’s an essential play for mature gamers this fall.

Batman: Arkham City

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

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

ESRB: Teen

Score: 9.5/10

Drake’s Deception: The Reviews Are In

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
3.5 stars out of four
PS3
Rated: T

(Oct 31, 2011) “You get off on this, don’t you?” the shadowy Marlowe
says at knife point to our hero, the swashbuckling Nathan Drake, in one of the early moments of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Oh, he does, as do millions of gamers who are fans in this blockbuster action movie of a videogame franchise.

Huge in videogame circles, this PlayStation exclusive franchise releases the third game in the series Tuesday. In its third iteration, much of the hallmarks of the franchise remain, in particular action-packed set pieces in a burning building, a pirate graveyard of ships and a thrilling horseback chase in the desert. The only real criticism is that it fails to live up to its previous outing.

Over the course of now three games, Drake has crisscrossed the globe, searching for treasure, lost cities and killing countless nameless hoods, all the while exuding quippy charm while surrounded by a realistic and memorable cast of compatriots. This series is unique for its likeable characters, elaborate set pieces and exceedingly linear narrative, which has won it praise for its story and spawned plans to create a film based on the character.

Uncharted provides a good model for successful new videogame intellectual: the first game in a new franchise gets it out there and establishes the premise; the second fixes the criticisms of the first and hopefully takes it forward. Uncharted 2 managed this, building on the structure of the first with a truly exceptional outing with great pacing and so many “wow” moments. That leaves the third instalment charged with the task of one-upmanship. It is only in this regard that Uncharted 3 falls a little short.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of enjoyment here, but the feeling of discovery is gone. In its place is an attempt at create more depth to the character, but that mostly falls flat. Like the previous games, it looks gorgeous and developer Naughty Dog has refined many little touches, but it’s hard to shake that been here, done that feeling.

More interesting is the debate the kind of game like Uncharted has ignited. For the sake of telling its story, the Uncharted series is very much a guided gaming experience, with plenty of quick-time actions to drive the story along. But because of its focus on story, there are many segments that require one of the other characters to say a piece of dialogue. An early review from the site Eurogamer brought this up as a criticism, basically saying it’s almost too much of a controlled experience, igniting much debate online.

That criticism is slightly unfair as that’s not what the Uncharted series is about. It’s not an expansive open-world experience. Like the action movies it takes inspiration from, it’s about moving from one exciting sequence to the next. It just this time, our jaws didn’t drop as much as previous outings.

It’s still plenty of fun, and we’re willing to ride shotgun with Drake anytime, even if a little dust has seeped into the formula.

Apple Founder And Folk Singer Had Enduring Friendship

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Oct 27, 2011) Steve Jobs’ former lover says she never saw the cold, manipulative side of his personality that has been described by numerous sources since his death earlier this month.

“I saw none of that,” folk singer and political activist
Joan Baez told the Star on Thursday about her relationship with the Apple founder.

“Everybody knows that Steve was brilliant, but to me, he was also absolutely lovely,” said the 70 year-old performer who will be appearing at Roy Thomson Hall on Nov. 2.

Before his marriage to Laurene Powell in 1991, Baez was one of several women with whom Jobs had relationships with during the 1980s. She was 14 years older than him and, according to one biography, Jobs was intent on starting a family and Baez’s age at the time (in her 40s) made that unlikely.

But they remained friends after their breakup and, as Baez recalled, “He was mind-expanding for me, because I have absolutely no left brain. He gave me all the computers I ever had and taught me how to use them.”

Baez was one of the 300 people at Jobs’ private memorial in Stanford, Calif., on Oct. 16. She sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in his memory.

Baez laughs as she recalls one last detail. “I had been nagging Steve for a couple of years to give me an iPhone and a few days after he died, one arrived for me. Then I realized why he hadn’t done it before. He was probably arranging and packaging his entrance into the next life.”

Blackberry Maker RIM Makes Music Sharing Service For BBM Users Available

By The Associated Press | The Canadian Press 

(Nov. 2, 2011) TORONTO - BlackBerry maker Research in Motion says its music-sharing application for its popular messaging service will be available for downloading in the U.S., Canada and Australia within a day.

BBM Music allows BlackBerry users to select 50 songs from a catalogue of millions of tracks for their personal playlists. BBM users can share songs from that list with friends who use the instant messaging service.

Research in Motion Ltd. said on its blog Wednesday morning that BBM Music is a social music service that will be available for downloading within 24 hours. More regions will be launched shortly.

RIM unveiled the service in August and has been testing it since.

 

::OTHER NEWS::

Kate Beaton’s Hilarious History Comics

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Oct 28, 2011) Her version of Napoleon has a bean shaped body, the Brontë sisters are boy mad for broody weirdoes, Batman is sexy and gay and her Mystery Solving Teens are the Hardy Boys if all they cared about was being jerks and smoking behind the rink.

It is that kind of hilariously warped take on history, books, superheroes and more that have made Canadian web cartoonist
Kate Beaton, 28, an online sensation ever since she started posting her work in 2007.

Since then she has self-published one collection, won a Doug Wright award for Best Emerging Talent, a Harvey Award for Best Online comic, had comics accepted by The New Yorker, worked with Marvel Comics and has become in demand for freelance illustration work for magazines. She is generally besieged by long lineups of fans to whatever kind of book events she attends. Not bad for someone who was an admitted comics neophyte five short years ago.

Her career currently has living in New York, but she used to live in Toronto and returns Sunday for an International Festival Of Authors event, where she’ll be talking about her second collection, Hark A Vagrant, (named after her site) which was published by Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly.

Despite experiencing nothing but upward momentum and critical praise for her work, Beaton talks like she’s still finding her way, trying to navigate an industry she’s still learning about, which makes sense considering the gig didn’t even exist a while ago.

“This job being a web cartoonist is very fluid right now. It’s not very solid. Nobody really knows how to make it work until you retire,” she says. “I don’t know if I want to put all my eggs in one basket so I don’t. I expand and do different jobs. I try and be careful about the opportunities that come my way, like I could have self-published this book but I thought going with a publishing house was a better idea for my career.”

Despite now being a twice-published author, Beaton still identifies herself with her web beginnings, and as such is feeling torn because she’s been too busy to update her site while on tour. She knows she’s one of the lucky people who started doing something online for fun, only to see it explode into a career. That said she has learned a lot about carefully navigating the sometimes challenging online world.

“I think that I have a handle on that much better than I did when I was younger. (The online response) came fast and strong, the number and the kind of vocal reaction, which was all overwhelmingly positive, but to go from something very obscure too something not so obscure in a short amount of time has a steep learning curve,” she says.

“I think that anybody who inadvertently starts a blog or a comic online will give a piece of themselves because they can’t believe someone’s reading it. There’s no institution, you are just yourself. You can’t help but be a personality. I had to learn over time how much of myself I wanted to give over and how much I wanted to hold onto. Like when I changed the name of the site from my name too Hark A Vagrant. It used to be katebeaton.com but I got rid of that because I didn’t want to be the focus of the comic. I wanted the comic to be.”

It’s Beaton’s very human and exaggeratedly amusing take on historical figures that have endeared her to many. The former history student takes great pride that many teachers are using her work almost as an amuse-bouche before seriously discussing a lesson. In some ways, she shares a similarity with Canadian comic Russell Peters, whose vast ethnic audience feels like it is waiting at shows for him to make fun of them.

“I made a comic about Mexican history not long ago, and people were like ‘Finally! You made my dreams come true.’ It’s nice to include people, because I know how that feels to be like that country that’s not noticed that much. Or a country that’s not understood that much.”

“I get a lot of those American jokes here, like people will make a Canada joke, and the crux of it is, ‘isn’t it funny that we think you’re country doesn’t matter at all,’ so they’re joking, but they really actually don’t care at all,” she says with a laugh.

But Beaton is doing her part, and is often told by her American fans that they are fascinated to learn about Canadian history from her work. She says she’s currently reading up on Korean history with the hopes of potentially writing a strip.

As for what’s next, Beaton is often asked whether she’s going to do longer form work, such as a graphic novel, but she says it would take too much time at the expense of her other projects.

“It would take a whole year to take make a graphic novel, I can’t abandon the site to do that. I can’t put two years of extra time into something when I could be doing a bunch of different other things,” she says. “My interest changes from time to time and I like it like that. Right now, things are going really well, so we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Kate Beaton will do a reading from her new book at 4 pm Sunday at the International Festival of Authors. For tickets: http://www.readings.org

For Celebrity Givers, It's Not Just About The Cash

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Oct 28, 2011) Go to Nicole Richie's homepage and you'll learn that she's going to be a mentor on the new reality series Fashion Star; that she's always loved the possibility of transformation through fashion - and that every 30 seconds, a child in Africa dies of malaria.

"Have I got your attention?" she (or her webmaster) writes. "Okay, good."

Today,
celebrity philanthropy - or "celanthropy," as it has been dubbed - is ubiquitous. Bono fights for Africa, Sting for the rain forest. Elton John donates his earnings to HIV/AIDS programs. Sarah McLachlan just opened a music school for inner-city students in Vancouver. The list goes on.

It's almost become a "status symbol to have a foundation if you're a celebrity," says Marc Pollick, whose Giving Back Fund advises celebrity donors, and tracks celebrity giving. "It's good for your image."

And as celanthropy has spread, the stakes are higher for stars as well: Status depends not only giving, but on doing, on being seen rolling up your sleeves for charity.

Those in the field echo such concerns. They say there are two principal ways to judge a celebrity's authenticity: money, and sweat equity. "The real story of celebrity philanthropy is that the vast majority of celebrities don't really give their own money," says Pollick.

"About 98 per cent of celebrities ... don't make gifts to their own foundations."

Pollick's organization puts out a yearly Giving Back list, disclosing top celebrity donors, and he points out that by the time you get to the bottom of the Top 30, the amount donated is less than $1-million. "When you think of how many celebrities there are in the world ... and we can't get to 30 that have given at least a million dollars?"

Just showing up at a charity event - where cameras are rolling on your good deed - doesn't cut it, says Pollick. "That is called volunteering, not philanthropy." Sometimes, it's not even volunteering: Celebrities are often paid a fee.

But while many in the business agree that celebrities should be putting their money where their mouths are, some say it's not their main role. "As with any person, having skin in the game indicates sincerity," says Global Philanthropy Group's Maggie Nielson, who counts Madonna among her clients. "But I also say with celebrities ... their pocketbook is not the biggest thing they bring to the table."

Michael Bublé charms patients (and staff) at a children's hospital. Bono flies around the world meeting with powerful leaders. Sean Penn travels to Libya and earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

"Sean Penn went to Haiti when it was falling apart and moved in," Bill Clinton noted at a star-studded birthday fundraiser for his foundation earlier this month. "He didn't take some highly publicized trip down there. He moved into one of those godforsaken camps ... and he lived there and organized it and tried to turn it around."

To help non-profits make a match with celebrities, many talent agencies now have a philanthropic adviser on board, and there's a crop of consultants in the United States who counsel celebrities on matters philanthropic.

They certainly have to watch for potential pitfalls when reaching for the stars, according to Daniel Borochoff, President of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a watchdog group that called earlier this year for the resignation of controversial Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortensen from his foundation.

"Celebrities go out of fashion," Borochoff says. "So if you base a charity on a celebrity, it may have trouble getting support when the celebrity loses their popularity."

Foundation governance is another major area of concern. "They have a lot of hangers-on: their entourage, family members," he adds. "What they'll do is ... use their charities as a make-work [project] for their families."

The whole phenomenon has to be viewed with some skepticism, says Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. "Celebrity attachment may or may not translate into dollars," he says. "Celebrities aren't knights in shining armour."

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Pirating Through The Caribbean

Source: www.thestar.com - Muhammad Lila

(October 28, 2011) Jermaine Jeffers, 26, walks along the deserted, rocky shoreline of Dead Chest Island. This is where Blackbeard allegedly marooned 15 mutinous sailors.

They’re among the most beautiful, secluded islands in the world. Empty beaches, fantastic cuisine and enough pirate lore to keep Captain Jack Sparrow busy for at least a few more sequels.

Despite their beauty, the
British Virgin Islands are also among the most challenging for Canadians to visit. Despite being less than an hour from San Juan, Puerto Rico, there are no direct flights.

Unlike some Caribbean locales, the government here has a mandate to keep the Islands’ natural beauty intact, free from greedy one-size-fits-all hotel chains. The end result: A series of unique islands, each with its own flavour, including one where you can have a beach all to yourself. Here are five rules for navigating the once pirate-filled waters. They include plenty of yo ho ho, but no bottles of rum.

Here are five rules for landlubbers hoping to navigate the British Virgin Islands.

1.When Wilbert Mason says 6 a.m., he means 6 a.m.

PETER ISLAND, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS—It’s barely past sunrise, the grey Caribbean sky still asleep. It’s taken me three planes, two stopovers and a boat through choppy waters to get here. I’m tired, I’m hungry and all I want to do is sleep in.

But a promise is a promise.

A day earlier, I’d made shore on Peter Island, a largely undeveloped 730-hectare outcropping of trees, beaches and reefs on the southern edge of the Virgin Islands.

Over drinks that night, Wilbert Mason, a chiseled Caribbean who speaks so gently it’s easy to forget he calls the shots around here, asked if I’d be interested in a walk the next morning.

“It’s about five miles,” he explains. “Can you handle it?”

Umm ... hell, yeah.

The next morning, Mason meets me at the beginning of what the locals call the sunset loop

“Wasn’t sure you’d make it,” he smiles.

One look at him and I understand why. With his running shoes and sport socks, he means business. Mason has prepared for a trek.

We start slowly up the island’s only roadway, which eventually gives way to dirt and pebbles beneath our feet. The hill slopes upwards in exhausting ways. By the 10-minute mark, I might as well be on a treadmill, each step a small victory in what is clearly an unwinnable battle.

Twenty minutes in, my calf muscles bulging in ways I didn’t think possible. Mason points to a small bench at the side of the path.

“This is what made me come here.”

I look out, past the bench. A handful of yachts, white sails flapping in the Caribbean breeze, dot the waterline. Spread out in the distance are a series of green islands — at least a half dozen — each one a reverse oasis, a swath of land placed in a never-ending sea.

Mason explains that on his first visit here, he decided to walk the island and stumbled onto this lookout point. One glimpse and he realized he didn’t want to leave.

Can’t say I blame him.

2. Sandals have no place on a dead man’s chest

It beckons from afar, ghostly whispers of the damned carrying over the gentle Caribbean breeze.

According to legend, the pirate Blackbeard once abandoned 15 mutinous sailors on a tiny, barren island, leaving them only a rapier and a bottle of rum. Some of them killed each other, others died while trying to swim away. Ever since, the island’s been known as Dead Man’s Chest.

And I’m on my way there.

“Hold on,” my guide, Jermaine Jeffers, tells me. “It’s gonna get bumpy.”

Forget a catamaran, yacht, or any of the other sailboats that traverse these waters. We’re in a tiny dinghy, our only choice really. Any other boat would be too big to make land on the island’s treacherous shores. We have no radio, no GPS, not even a flare. We’d make a good sitcom — Two Men on a Raft — or at least a tale haggard old sailors would tell children to scare them away.

Jeffers brings the boat in, scraping it along a rock-covered shoreline, then hauling it over bowling ball-sized chunks of coral. They’re dead, long dead, a foreshadowing, perhaps, of what lies ahead.

We step out, foraging through dense, thick bush, thorns from the foliage piercing my feet. Real pirates would have had machetes for this. But we’re no swashbucklers, just a couple of landlubber blokes on a mission.

We walk, trudge, push and climb our way through the vegetation, stopping only to fight off the island’s only inhabitants — seagulls that clearly aren’t used to having visitors. An hour later, we’ve made it to the island’s panoramic summit. The green, kidney-bean shaped islands of Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and even the U.S. Virgin Islands lie in the distance. We can see them all, surrounded by an endless sea.

It’s then I realize Blackbeard’s genius. He sentenced his sailors to death on an island where they could still see the ghost of Blackbeard’s ship sailing into the distance.

Dude had a wicked sense of humour.

3. Blackbeard was a badass

The waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel are filled with pirate lore. With 60 islands and hundreds of inlets, coves and bays all within a day’s sailing distance, the islands were the perfect launching point for surprise attacks.

In the darkness of night, not even the Spanish and English navies stood a chance against the pirates, who knew waters and secret hiding places that foreigners didn’t.

Today, the pirates are gone, but the method of travel remains the same.

“The beauty of the topography here is just remarkable,” explains Jim Byers, visiting from Miami. He and his wife, Julie, have rented a catamaran, including captain and first mate, for the week. According to the law, all beaches here are public, so they can anchor their boat and make shore anywhere they want.

“You can be looking at that jut of land right here,” Julie explains, “then you sail around on a different angle and it’s entirely different. It’s almost mythical.”

4. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

“The hardest request I’ve ever gotten,” explains Andres Samayoa, “is for specific chocolate bars.”

Samayoa manages the Falcon’s Nest and Eagle’s Nest, two upscale villas, the kind only athletes, celebrities and corporate titans can afford. They come with amenities most only dream of: butlers, a personal chef, private infinity pools, and in the case of the Falcon’s Nest, a man-made, four-storey waterfall tumbling down an artificial cliff.

This is how the other side lives, where business moguls seek seclusion from the ever-flashing cameras of the press, but still need satellite video conferencing in their family room. It’s a world where money is meaningless, where sunset views from postcard perches are bought and traded, where private helicopters whisk you from island to island.

The lifestyle is devilishly alluring. It’s a world where managers-cum-servants like Samayoa will have your pantry stocked with your favourite chocolate bars before you arrive.

“It’s our job,” he says. “Whatever you want, we’ll make it happen.”

5. Being marooned isn’t so bad after all

Call me boring, but I’ve never quite understood the joy people feel at stripping down nearly nude and baking their skin in the piercing heat of the sun. I figure there’s so much of the world to see, and so little time to see it. Why waste time lying on a beach somewhere?

The British Virgin Islands gave me a new perspective. Each island has its own flavour, its own secrets, from laid-back Road Town in Tortola, to the colourful reefs of Virgin Gorda. Most mornings, I jogged down beaches that were completely empty. There was just me, my bare feet and the thoughts of my mind racing alongside the water. It was meditative, even spiritual.

Does that make me a beach guy? No. But I now understand the importance of being alone and taking time for oneself.

We all need to be marooned once in a while

Muhammad Lila is an anchor and reporter for CBC News, based in Toronto.

JUST THE FACTS

ARRIVING There are no direct flights from North America to the British Virgin Islands. The most convenient way to get there is to fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico, then take a 45-minute connecting flight to Beef Island airport on Tortola. Total flight time is around four hours. Visas cost $25 (U.S.) and can be obtained at the airport.

SLEEPING There are dozens of sailboat charters operating out of the BVI. Rooms at Peter Island ( www.peterisland.com) range from $300-625 a night, with substantial discounts during the summer. Private villas like Falcon’s Nest and Eagle’s Nest run several thousand a night. Necker Island, Richard Branson’s personal island getaway, can be rented for private functions, starting at $30,000 a night.

SPENDING The currency is British pounds, but ATMs, restaurants and hotels all accept American dollars.

WEB SURFING For more information, check out BVI Tourism’s website at www.bvitourism.com. For where to stay on Peter Island, visit www.peterisland.com

What Do I Do When My Hotel Gives Away My Room?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Karan Smith

(Oct 7, 2011) The Question: My daughter arrived late at night at a hotel to discover it was overbooked -- her room was no longer available, and she was told to look elsewhere. Do customers have recourse when mistreated by a hotel?

Snowstorms. Delayed flights. Unexpected traffic. Plenty of factors can delay your arrival at a hotel's front desk. So what do you do when, unexpectedly, there's no room at the inn?

To guarantee a bed for late arrival – typically beyond 6 p.m. – the hotel requires a credit card to hold the room, says Tony Pollard, president of the Hotel Association of Canada (hotelassociation.ca). “If [the traveller] chose not to guarantee the room with a credit card, then the room can be sold to another individual.”

But Nikola Berube, director for sales for AMA Travel (ama.ab.ca), a division of the Alberta Motor Association, says sometimes a swipe of plastic alone won't be enough. “If you've paid for the room in full, you should expect the hotel to take responsibility and find you a comparable hotel. But if you've just reserved the room with a major credit card, unless you've made specific arrangements for late arrival, the room may be given away after 6 p.m.”

Overbooking isn't uncommon, says Berube. The response you get depends on your booking contract, the property and who's at the front desk. Here's how to avoid this situation:

Read the fine print. If you've booked online, your contract may be with that provider and not the hotel. Find out what is considered a late arrival.

The more information you provide at the time of booking, the better, says Berube. Tell the hotel if you know you will be late. Call before your holiday to confirm. And if you encounter delays en route, inform the property if you can.

“Always have a printed copy of that confirmation showing that you've guaranteed or prepaid for your room when you arrive,” says Berube. “If you don't have anything in writing or printed off, then it's always much harder to ask the hotel to help you find another room.” Your travel agency may be able to help too. (AMA Travel, for instance, offers a 24-hour emergency assistance phone line.)

And if all that fails? Write a letter to the manager or the hotel chain. You may be compensated, or you may get what you really want: an apology.

E-mail your travel questions to concierge@globeandmail.com

Follow Karan Smith on Twitter: @karan_smith.

Special to The Globe and Mail

::SPORTS NEWS::

Pakistani Player Set To Soar In Squash World Rankings

Source: www.thestar.com - Joseph Hall

(Nov 01, 2011) Shin splints have largely sidelined her for the last four months.

But as she resumes serious tournament competition in the coming weeks, squash sensation
Maria Toorpakai Wazir will be playing the game on two courts.

One, of course, will be the hardwood rectangle, where the 20-year-old is set to resume an ascent to the top of the women’s world rankings.

The other will be in the court of public opinion in her native Pakistan, where religious strictures on women — in sports, school and society — are an ever-increasing menace.

“They think girls can’t play or that they should stay at home and get married and this kind of stuff . . . but the mentality can be changed,” she says.

“I want to become a world champion. I want to come up to the top and show them how much women can do.”

A native of the country’s South Waziristan area near the Afghan border, Toorpakai was raised in one of Pakistan’s most religiously repressive areas.

A safe haven for Taliban insurgents, the border region is a breeding ground for the kind of tribal-based intolerance toward women that finally drove Toorpakai to Canada in March.

Years of death threats and taunts provoked by her impertinent determination to play the game had convinced Toorpakai that she needed to switch countries to continue her training.

And when Canadian squash legend Jonathon Power invited her to train at his National Squash Academy at Downsview Park, she jumped at the chance.

Until the shin splint setback, Toorpakai was making remarkable progress, says Jamie Nicholls, director of the academy, where the country’s national team trains.

Her injuries would have kept Toorpakai from next month’s World Open tournament in Amsterdam regardless, says Nicholls.

But Toorpakai also lacked a vouching letter from the Pakistani federation that would have allowed her to enter the tournament despite her current 174th world ranking.

The letter, which would have given Toorpakai a sanctioned bye into the tournament, was not withheld on political grounds, she says.

“We had holidays (the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha) and, by the time they sent the letter, it was too late,” she explains.

“The government and the federation, they really wanted me to get to the World Open. They were happy with that.”

Next year, however, Toorpakai says she won’t be dependent on any Pakistani sponsorship to enter the Open, with her place in the rankings almost certain to skyrocket.

Nicholls concurs with this assessment, saying that, as far as talent goes, Toorpakai is a “10 out of 10.”

He says that, when healthy, Toorpakai is already playing and beating members of this country’s national women’s squad, who just returned from the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, with a team gold.

But the shin splints that have hobbled her of late, Nicholls says, can be blamed in part on her treatment in Pakistan, where a locked squash court became, for 10 hours at a time, a sanctuary from the abuses she faced.

“She literally never had any proper training just because of her upbringing,” he says.

“She’d never been inside of a gym and squash is very physical. Most of the players spend half their time in the gym and half their time on the court.”

Since hitting the gym regularly, Toorpakai has shed 25 pounds and upped her game considerably, Nicholls says, adding she’ll likely break into the top 20 or better before next year’s Open.

“We’re projecting her to get into the top 10, top five . . . in the next couple of years,” Nicholls says.

“And then you never know what’s going to happen,” he says, adding that squash players rarely hit their peak until their mid-20s.

NFL: Bills trounce Redskins in Toronto

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Rachel Brady

(Oct 30, 2011)  It took four seasons, but the Buffalo Bills earned their first regular season win of the five-year Bills Toronto Series.

Looking unlike the Buffalo squads that lost to the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins in the first three instalments in Toronto since 2008, the Bills shut out the Washington Redskins 23-0 and improved to 5-2, which bests the number of wins they had all last season.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed two touchdown passes to tight end Scott Chandler, while kicker Rian Lindell added three field goals to hand Washington its third straight loss and a 3-4 record.

Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 27 passes for 262 yards and one pick, while running back Fred Jackson had 26 carries for 120 yards and caught three passes for 74 yards.

Fitzpatrick also fumbled once - just the third the Bills have had all season, and the first they lost. They handed the ball over at the Buffalo 30-yard line, but the defence prevented the Redskins from tallying points off the mistake with a big defensive stand followed by a blocked field goal by defensive end Spencer Johnson.

The Bills defence held Redskins quarterback John Beck to 208 passing yards and safeties George Wilson and Jairus Byrd both recorded interceptions.

The dominant performance was a pleasant surprise to Bills coach Chan Gailey, who said he felt "scared to death" coming off a loss and a bye week.

"You're not in your routine, and you don't know if your guys are back into it or not," Gailey said. "We had a couple guys late for meetings because they weren't back into the routine, so it makes you nervous as a coach."

Many NFL teams have not played well this year following the four mandatory off days of a bye week, but it didn't seem to bother the Bills.

"We didn't believe in that," Fitzpatrick said. "We believed we could start fast, play well. And the effort our defence had today, all we needed was three points to win that one."

Sudden Sack Attack

Before Sunday, the Bills had just four sacks in total through six games, ranking dead last in the NFL. But Gailey insisted the pass rush was a top priority coming out of the bye week, and the Bills sacked Beck a stunning nine times Sunday. Marcell Dareus, the Bills' 2011 third overall draft pick, led the way with a pair after moving from left defensive end to nose tackle for Sunday's game.

Fantastic Freddy

Jackson passed the 3,500 career rushing yard mark in this game and surpassed 100 yards for the third consecutive game, which hasn't been done by a Bills running back since Thurman Thomas in 1994. The Bills now have a 10-2 record when Jackson rolls for over 100 yards. "When you got 22 [Jackson] on your team, you always have a chance," Fitzpatrick said.

Bills appreciated better Toronto atmosphere

After questioning Toronto's commitment to the Bills earlier this week, safety George Wilson said of the announced crowd of 51,579, "This was definitely the most exciting crowd we've had since we played up here." Washington even called a timeout because of the noise. Gailey echoed the sentiment but had one plea for Toronto fans: "I have to teach them when it's third-and-one not to do the wave though. But the crowd was really into it, and it helped us."

Fitz shakes it off

Fitzpatrick was hit as he completed a 46-yard pass to Jackson, which knocked him breathless to the ground in the second quarter, but he was okay. While down on the turf, the quarterback did not know his running back caught the pass and was making a big gain, but thought the cheering was for the hit. "I thought boy, Toronto does not like me," Fitzpatrick laughed. "I was thinking that's a lot of excitement for a hit on the quarterback."

NBA Pulls The Plug On All November Games

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press

(Oct 28, 2011) As NBA players and owners wait to see who will blink first, fans are stuck staring at a blank calendar.

NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the rest of the November games Friday, saying there will not be a full NBA season "under any circumstances."

The move came about after labour negotiations broke down again when both sides refused to budge on how to split the league's revenues, the same issue that derailed talks last week.

Now, a full month of NBA games have been canceled, and Stern said there's no way of getting them back.

"We held out that joint hope together, but in light of the breakdown of talks, there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances," he said.

"It's not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now," added Stern, who previously canceled the first two weeks of the season.

And he repeated his warnings that the proposals might now get even harsher as the league tries to make up the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be lost as the lockout drags on.

"We're going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is," Stern said. "The next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are piling up now."

Just a day earlier, Stern had said he would consider it a failure if the sides didn't reach a deal in the next few days and vowed they would take "one heck of a shot" to get it done.

Instead, negotiations broke off again over the division of basketball-related income, just as they did last Thursday. Union executive director Billy Hunter said the league again insisted it had to be split 50-50, while Stern said Hunter just walked out and left rather than discuss going below 52 percent.

Owners are insistent on a 50-50 split, while players last formally proposed they get 52.5 per cent, leaving them about $100-million apart annually. Players were guaranteed 57 percent in the previous collective bargaining agreement.

"Derek (Fisher) and I made it clear that we could not take the 50-50 deal to our membership. Not with all the concessions that we granted," Hunter said. "We said we got to have some dollars."

Instead, they'll now be out roughly $350-million, the losses Hunter previously projected for each month the players were locked out. He believed a full season could be played if a deal were made this weekend, but Stern emphatically ruled out any hope of that now.

"These are not punitive announcements; these are calendar generated announcements," Stern said.

No further talks have been scheduled.

There was a sense of optimism entering the day after progress was made on salary cap issues during about 24 hours of talks over the previous two days. Then the sides brought the revenue split back into the discussion Friday and promptly got stuck on both issues.

Stern said the NBA owners were "willing" to go to 50 percent. But he said Hunter was unwilling to "go a penny below 52," that he had been getting many calls from agents and then closed up his book and walked out of the room.

Hunter said the league initially moved its target down to 47 percent during Friday's six-hour session, then returned to its previous proposal of 50 per cent of revenues.

"We made a lot of concessions, but unfortunately at this time it's not enough, and we're not prepared or unable at this time to move any further," Hunter said.

Union president Fisher said it was difficult to say why talks broke down, or when they would start up again.

"We're here, we've always been here, but today just wasn't the day to try and finish this out," he said.

There was some good news.

Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said there was essentially a "tentative agreement" on most system issues, with Stern rattling off some of them: Owners agreed to keep the midlevel exception starting at $5-million a year; and contract lengths would be five years for players staying with their teams and four when leaving for another.

"And then we hit a wall," Stern said.

The small groups that were meeting the previous two days grew a bit Friday. Union vice presidents Chris Paul - wearing a Yankees cap for his trip to New York - and Theo Ratliff joined the talks, and economist Kevin Murphy returned after he was unavailable Thursday. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stayed for the session after taking part Thursday.

Fisher said there were still too many restrictions in the owners' proposal. Players want to keep a system similar to the old one, and fear owners' ideas would limit player movement and the choices available to them in free agency.

And though they might be inclined to give up one if they received more concessions on the other, players make it sound as if they are the ones doing all the giving back.

The old cap system allowed teams to exceed it through the use of a number of exceptions, many of which the league wants to tweak or even eliminate. Hunter has called a hard cap a "blood issue" to players, and though the league has backed off its initial proposal calling for one, players think the changes owners want would work like one.

"We've told them that we don't want a hard cap. We don't want a hard cap any kind of way, either an obvious hard cap or a hard cap that may not be as obvious to most people but we know it works like a hard cap," Hunter said. "And so you get there, and then all of a sudden they say, `Well, we also have to have our number.' And you say, `Well wait a minute, you're not negotiating in good faith."'

But if players think what's being proposed is a hard cap, here's another warning: Silver won't rule out the league seeking one again.

"Our response is then let's have a hard cap, which is what we wanted," he said.

"We don't think it's a hard cap. ... We've all been wasting our time if they believe this is a hard cap. We've been spending literally hundreds of hours negotiating the specifics of a system, where they're now saying is the equivalent of a hard cap. We've been clear from the beginning from a league standpoint we would prefer a hard cap."

When players offered to reduce their guarantee from 57 per cent to 53 per cent, Hunter said that would have transferred about $1.1-billion to owners over six years. Now, at 52.5, he said that would grow to more than $1.5-billion.

But even a 50-50 split would be too high for some hardline owners, because it would reduce only $280-million of the $300-million they said they lost last season. Owners initially proposed a BRI split that players said would have had them around 40 per cent.

Though they will miss a paycheck on Nov. 15, Hunter said each player would have received a minimum of $100,000 from the escrow money that was returned to them to make up the difference after salaries fell short of the guaranteed 57 per cent of revenues last season.

The real losses, though, could be felt by arena staff and other people who work in fields connected to the game. Stern apologized to them in making the announcement.

But Jeff Lee, a 37-year-old cafe owner and Warriors season-ticketholder in the East Bay, said he isn't discouraged about Friday's setback.

"I'm pretty certain that the season's going to start sooner or later," Lee said. "I know when the season starts it's going to be well worth the wait."

--

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif. contributed to this report.

Senators Beat Maple Leafs For Sixth Straight Win

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Roy Macgregor

(Oct 28, 2011) It being Halloween, shocks are to be expected. But a Senators-Leafs matchup that matters?

The once bitterly-contested Battle of Ontario had, in recent years, fallen to a bare scuffle and, at times, not much more than a slap in the face to fans who came expecting a riveting hockey game.

Sunday night at Scotiabank Place, however, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs were back at full pitch as the Sens evened their season series at one game each, hanging on for a 3-2 win to answer Toronto's 6-5 victory in Toronto a month ago. With four more meetings scheduled this season, the renewed battle could well rage well into 2012.

This was a game that featured, surprisingly, the league's top two scorers (Toronto's Phil Kessel and Ottawa's Jason Spezza), two of the three top-scoring defencemen (Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Toronto's Dion Phaneuf) and two of the top three Canadian teams of the young 2011-12 NHL season - the other being, to equal surprise, the Edmonton Oilers.

But this, remember, is a special time of year where fantasies rule and imaginations run amok.

"Let's see where we are after 20 games, after 25 games," cautioned Ottawa coach Paul MacLean earlier in the day. "It's a long season."

Indeed it is, but it is also a short season when dealing with the emotions of the fickle fans of two clubs desperately trying to return to the playoffs, and on this Halloween Eve in Ottawa a hockey game was played that was, well, a treat.

With the Senators wearing their heritage jerseys, it was a night for old-fashioned hockey, both opening goals coming on wrist shots. Toronto took an early lead when Clarke MacArthur scored his third of the season on a power play courtesy of a dumb slashing penalty taken by young Ottawa defenceman Karlsson. Then, as the first period wound down, Senators rookie Colin Greening scored his fourth on an Ottawa power play when another rookie, defenceman David Rundblad, sent a 120-foot pass straight down the middle to send Greening in alone.

"It will be a test for us to keep up and see if we can skate with them," Greening had said prior to meeting the speedy Leafs. As it turned out, Ottawa more than kept up.

The Senators, who sputtered last season but this season claim one of the league's top power plays, scored again on the man-advantage when Karlsson fired a shot from the point into a scrum, the puck bouncing in off Chris Neil, a once-marginal forward who has, so far, been Ottawa's most consistent player of the young campaign.

In the third period, the Senators went ahead to stay 3-1 when Kaspars Daugavins, a minor-league call up, scored his first goal and point of his NHL career on yet another old-fashioned wrist shot. And yet another a few minutes later when MacArthur, with his second of the game, swept in a rebound.

Neither team was with its intended goaltender, Ottawa bringing up minor-leaguer Robin Lehner for a game while regular Craig Anderson rested and Toronto using backup Jonas Gustavsson again while James Reimer recovers from injury. Both goaltenders, however, were more than adequate replacements, with Lehner making the save of the night off Nikolai Kulemin during a late Toronto power play.

The Senators were also without captain Daniel Alfredsson, out following an elbow to the head by Wojtek Wolski of the Rangers during Ottawa's 5-4 victory in New York on Saturday.

As it turned out, they didn't need Alfredsson as the team improved its record to 7-5-0, a single point back of the Leafs.

MacLean was quick to caution Sunday, however, that no one should use recent successful results as "a measuring stick" for the season.

"Right now," he said, "the only stick we have is we're playing really well."

It was a comment that could apply equally to both teams, once again bitter rivals with something to prove.

Perseverance Is Downhiller John Kucera’s Calling Card

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman

(Oct 31, 2011) John Kucera’s strength and conditioning coach contemplates the gruelling rehab the 2009 world downhill champion has endured the past two years and puts it in hockey terms.

“I told Johnny a few weeks ago that if somehow we could nominate him for the Bill Masterton Trophy, he would have won it hands down,” said Matt Price, himself a former OHLer.

Indeed, perseverance has been Kucera’s calling card in coming back from twice breaking the fibula in his left leg.

But it has ever been thus for a blue-collar guy who was constantly told he was too small to make it as a downhill racer and whose family took out a second mortgage to keep him in the sport.

The word “quit” has never been part of his vocabulary, but for a short time it nearly entered it when he broke his leg the second time last February in Aspen, Colo.

“It was brief but it was there,” Kucera said during a stop in Toronto this week. “It was the first time I would say I was rattled in that respect, but I think understandably so. It’s a tough situation to go through. Let’s just say if I didn’t come back from it the first time, nobody would have been surprised.”

The “first time” was at Lake Louise, a gruesome break where bone sheared through soft tissue in November 2009, ending his Olympic hopes and many thought his career.

That’s where the 27-year-old from Calgary is planning to make his comeback for a World Cup downhill on Nov. 26 if all goes well. It’s not like he’s only had bad luck in Lake Louise — his best two World Cup results came there in Super-G races, a victory in 2006 and second in 2008.

“It’d be cool,” said Kucera. “It’s a hill where I’ve had some great days and some bad days, almost like a little bit of a love-hate thing there. Honestly, I think it would be a great place for me to come back if I’m skiing well enough. It’s a hill I know incredibly well. I’ve been skiing since I was 15, 16 years old on that track.

“Yeah, that’s where I had my big crash but I think there was some bad luck with the fresh snow that I hit and everything. I have no ill will towards the mountain. But I think it would make for a great story and it’d be a great place to come back. Obviously I’d love to make my comeback in front of a hometown crowd, no doubt.”

If there is such a thing, Kucera actually caught a good break when he hurt the leg the second time. It wasn’t healing well after the first injury and he was in constant pain. This time around, the leg has knitted together much better and it’s far easier for him to put it in a ski boot. He says he’s without pain 95 per cent of the time.

He’s looked good recently in pushing himself through a tough six-week stretch and holding his own in training runs with some of the best ski racers in the world. His technical abilities and gliding technique seem better than ever.

The real challenge ahead is the mental one, regaining trust in himself to be able to ski on the edge again.

“It’s harder to control how your mind works,” said Kucera. “For that, it just takes lots of time and lots of mileage and lots of exposure to those kinds of situations. It’s a frustrating thing for me because it’s not something where I can just go home and work on it and come back and it’s going to be way better. It’s just a continual repetition of getting into those situations I’m not sure of myself in and get more comfortable with them.”

Teammate Erik Guay, the reigning world downhill champion, remembers how difficult it was when he came back from knee surgery — and that was only nine months off snow by comparison.

“It’s almost a mental block,” said Guay. “You come out of the gate and you want to push it but there’s something holding you back.”

But Guay has no doubt of Kucera’s future.

“He works harder than 95 per cent of the people out there. I’m sure he’ll come back.”

Playoffs Likely Last Hurrah For Beckham In Major League Soccer

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(Oct. 28, 2011) The
David Beckham experiment is in its final stages.

The English superstar’s contract with Major League Soccer comes to an end following the season and all signs point to the 36-year-old midfielder leaving the L.A. Galaxy for Europe, with England or France the likely destination.

While Beckham has held talks with the Galaxy about a new one-year contract, English Premiership sides Tottenham Hotspur and Queen’s Park Rangers and France’s Paris Saint-Germain head a list of suitors.

“I won’t make any decision on my future until the end of the season,” Beckham said earlier this month in an interview with the Herald Sun of Melbourne where he’s scheduled to play a Dec. 6 friendly with the Galaxy in the final match of the season and his five-year contract with MLS.

“At the moment I’m focused on winning a trophy this season with the Galaxy,” Beckham said. “We have had a great season so far but what matters is how you do in the playoffs in November.”

Like Beckham for much of his $6.5-million-a-year (U.S.) stay in MLS, the Galaxy have come up short. The top team in the Western Conference in each of the past three regular seasons — the past two as Supporters’ Shield winners as league best — L.A. has failed to cap the year with a championship.

In 2009, when Beckham missed more than half the season on loan with AC Milan, the Galaxy lost to Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final. Last season, when he was on the shelf for all but seven regular season games with an Achilles injury while playing in Italy, L.A. lost in the semifinals to FC Dallas.

But in 2011, Beckham has turned in a performance that has him in the running for the league’s comeback-player-of-the-year honours. He appeared in 26 matches, the most of his MLS stint, had a career-best 15 assists, one off the league lead, and added a pair of goals for a dominant Galaxy side.

The Galaxy’s first playoff opponent is a dream matchup for MLS. L.A. visits Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls in a two-game quarter-final opening Sunday at Red Bull Arena with the return leg on Thursday.

L.A. should win. But the Red Bulls, who disappointed for much of the season before securing the final playoff spot, come in on a 4-1-1 run, including a 2-0 win in Dallas in a mid-week wild card game.

In the other quarter-final matchups beginning this weekend, the Seattle Sounders visit Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 10 p.m., TSN2), the Philadelphia Union hosts the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon and the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids host Sporting Kansas City (Sunday, 7 p.m., TSN2). The return legs are all set for next Wednesday and Thursday.

SPORTS NEWS

Chad Owens Leads Argo Award Nominees

Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Zelkovich

(Nov. 02, 2011)
Chad Owens leads the Toronto Argonauts hopes for a CFL players’ award with two nominations. The Flyin’ Hawaiian is the team’s nominee for outstanding player and special teams player of the year. Nominations are made based on a poll of coaches and members of the Football Reporters of Canada. Other Argo nominees are: Lin-J Shell (defensive player); Ricky Foley (most outstanding Canadian); Dominic Picard (lineman) and Chad Kackert (rookie.) Owens will go up against Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo, Winnipeg’s Jovon Johnson and Hamilton’s Justin Hickman in the East Division’s outstanding player category. West nominees are B.C.’s Travis Lulay, Edmonton’s Ricky Ray, Calgary’s Nik Lewis and Saskatchewan’s Weston Dressler.