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LE NEWSLETTER

October 13, 2011

Hope all the Canadians out there enjoyed their Thanksgiving long weekend and
enjoyed all the trimmings.  Overdid it?  Check out my FITNESS section for some tips for getting back on track.

 This week's news features news on various subjects including the recent (and ongoing) problems with
Blackberry, Canadian rapper Peter Jackson and the concert scene, Morris Day and The Time makes a comeback, the Canadian Comedy Awards and a documentary on Steve Nash.  Check it out under TOP STORIES.

Next week I'll be featuring some news on some
special events so stay tuned!

I hope you do more than just scroll to your entertainment news, but click on the articles too!  Just click on the
photo or the headline and you'll get directly to the article and your latest entertainment news!

::TOP STORIES::

Blackberry Glitch Spreads To Canada, Users Are Cut Off For A Third Day

Source: www.thestar.com - Toronto Star wire services

(Oct 12, 2011) Technical glitches that have affected millions of BlackBerry users around the world spread to Canada and the United States on Wednesday morning as outages were reported for the smartphone’s text, email and web browsing services by some users.

The three-day disruption to BlackBerry services comes just two days before rival Apple's new iPhone 4S goes on sale.

“I have not received a single email to my phone since last night,” a Star reader said. “Browsing the web is slow, five minutes load time for Wikipedia. No notifications are coming in for any of my applications.”

RIM advised clients of an outage in the Americas and said it was working to restore services as customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India continued to suffer patchy email and no access to browsing and messaging.

Canadian customers respond to outage

RIM, which had said on Tuesday services had returned to normal, said later it was still working to resolve the problem.

“The messaging and browsing delays ... were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure,” it said. “As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service.”

The list of affected regions included Europe, the Middle East, Africa and some areas of South America, as well as Asian markets including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and India.

RIM has about 70 million BlackBerry subscribers around the world.

The outage spread to Canada on Wednesday with users posting messages on
Twitter that said they were unable to access their email, text and Internet browsing services.

The networks appeared to return to normal in Canada briefly before crumbling again.

RIM said it’s now working to get through a backlog of traffic.

“The resolution of this service issue is our Number One priority right now and we are working night and day to restore all BlackBerry services to normal levels,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Canadian carriers said some of their BlackBerry customers were affected.

Bell spokesman Mark Langton said BlackBerry email service was back on line, but there would be delays as queued messages get cleared.

“BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) and Internet browsing not yet back online,” Langton said in an email.

Some Rogers and Telus customers were also affected by the outage.

“RIM has advised us that they are working on the problem and expect to have it resolved very soon,” Telus spokesman Jim Johannsson said.

The extended series of outages affecting large portions of the world are a major blow to RIM which has already been struggling for market share against the Apple and Android smartphones.

Several users took to their Twitter accounts to angrily proclaim that the downtime has pushed them to start searching for an alternative to their BlackBerry. Others demanded compensation for the disruption.

“After three different BlackBerries I won't be getting another,” lamented a Star reader. “I liked the idea of supporting a Canadian company, but BlackBerries are more hassle than they’re worth.”

RIM earns revenue from both the sale of its smartphone devices and a monthly fee subscribers pay to use its secure email services and instant messaging capabilities, which means users switching to other phones could eat away at its profits.

Rapper Peter Jackson: 905 Representin’

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Christian Pearce

(Oct 10, 2011) For those who come straight outta the ’burbs, breaking in to the big-city business of hip hop is no small task. You need an in, some way to bridge the proverbial gap. Born and raised in Ajax, Ontario, Peter Jackson cut his key in the concert business.

It all started in the Durham Region, though reports differ as to exactly where. The bio on his website connects the 20-something rapper (performing Oct. 13 at Toronto’s Annex Wreckroom) with Ajax’s neighbour Oshawa, pointing to parallels between the “Sh’wa” and Detroit — home, of course, to the preeminent against-all-odds white rap success story, Eminem. Oshawa, so says Peter Jackson’s bio, has given Canada its own “pretty decent white (boy) that can rhyme.”

So where does that place him in the northern rap game? Jackson can make a claim to being Canada’s best connected (after Drake, anyhow). He has opened for everyone from Nas to Tech N9ne to, yes, Drake. His album In My Life — which grazed the top 10 in Toronto upon its release in May — featured guests like ultra-hot producer Boi-1da and Eminem’s collaborator Royce Da 5’9”. It’s a remarkable network — remarkable enough, in fact, to generate some nasty rumours (more on that later).

When I meet up with Jackson and his manager, Chris McKee, for our interview, it’s at a grimy little pub nestled into a nondescript strip mall blocks from his studio. Dive-y and drunken — even in mid-afternoon — the bar captures at least part of the character of the Shwiggity (as Oshawa is sometimes known). Sitting down on the patio to escape the revelry inside, Jackson orders an iced tea.

Representing one’s real origins is a core value in hip-hop culture, and he’s quick to explain the facts of his upbringing on the south side of Ajax. Jackson speaks with a natural grace, ego absent, but at the same time, he takes evident pride in championing something bigger.

“It’s funny ’cause if you read Ajax papers, or Pickering papers, they’ll say I’m from Ajax or Pickering. If you read an Oshawa article, they’ll say I’m from Oshawa . . . But I really am from Ajax — I have Ajax tattooed on my wrist and things like that.”

Still, I have to ask about whether growing up outside the big city affects small-town rappers’ music. The roots of hip hop, after all, emerged out of broken homes and housing projects, not nuclear families and cookie-cutter suburban tracts.

The beneficiary of an exceedingly supportive family — Jackson’s mom goes to many of his shows — the rapper answers, “I don’t know what the temptations are like growing up in Brooklyn, New York, but I know exactly what they’re like growing up in Ajax . . . I think we’re going through the same things, just on different scales in different areas.”

Sex, drugs and violence exist on the corners of Durham’s small towns just as they do in New York or Toronto. The night before our interview, Peter Jackson tweets, “These crack heads in Oshawa going ham (hard as a motherf---er) right now lol King and simcoe (sic) clicking.” Having wrestled, he says, with drug addiction and the loss of his best friend to drunk driving as a teen, there’s no reason to doubt the authenticity of Peter Jackson’s suffering.

If Ajax raised Jackson, it’s been Oshawa that gave him his break. It’s here that he began promoting hip-hop concerts, at times headlining shows of his own, at other times bringing A- and B-list acts including Kardinal Offishall, Wu-Tang and the Clipse to hungry hip-hoppers. His career role model seems to be someone even bigger, though.

“There’s a big difference between a Jay-Z and (Alabama rapper) Rich Boy,” says PJ. “Jay-Z is obviously a businessman, and that’s how I think a lot of these guys can take it to the next level, is being on point with their business . . . working around with what they have inside.”

What Jackson had was the ability to build relationships with these bigger artists whose shows he was promoting, setting the foundation for his own rap career. This approach explains his Classified-produced single “Certified,” featuring Treach of Naughty By Nature fame. Nowadays, collaborations with the likes of Detroit’s Royce Da 5’9” on “Paper Boy” spring from road work as an opening act.

“Those are people that I have relationships with,” says Jackson, “because I’ve had the chance to tour across the country with them for weeks on end.”

McKee’s also a concert promoter who’s slated Jackson to open for Ghostface Killah on a 13-stop Canadian tour, starting on Nov. 26 with Toronto’s Sound Academy. He explains how Jackson works his connections:

“How we get stuff done for the album is when he goes on tour, he builds that rapport with the artist. Like, I ask Ghost, ‘hey, we want a feature for my dude.’ And he says, ‘ten grand’ right now, but wait ’til we’re on the road . . . And (Jackson) says, ‘let’s do a track, we got f---in’ 12 hours to kill between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg,’ and so that’s how we end up getting a lot of this s--- done.”

Jackson’s various roles in putting on concerts have been integral to his emergence. “It’s been a massive piece of the puzzle — don’t let that out,” he says, jokingly wary of the information’s value. “It put me in position to win in so many different ways.”

Sonically, Jackson’s style vacillates between deep introspective beats and rhymes covering his life’s tribulations, and empty head-nodders designed to capture clubs, a reflection of the tension he admits exists between a desire to make music for himself and commercial viability.

But in the Screwface Capital, as the T-Dot is sometimes labelled in hip-hop circles, there is always a more nefarious explanation for why a rapper rises. Watching Jackson open for Brooklyn’s Joell Ortiz late last year, another indie emcee told me, “This guy pays promoters to get on bills.”

Other Canadian emcees have been similarly accused of buying their way in. But I put the accusation to Jackson directly. “Never once in my life have I have ever done that,” he says, instantly grave. “I get paid to do shows.”

“I’m his f---ing agent, so I’m the one placing him on,” says a mildly irate McKee. “I get calls like that, from Winnipeg to Halifax, rappers that wanna pay to go on this tour, and I say I am not taking a single penny for a buyout for any artist to be on any show.”

The godfather of Canadian rap, Maestro Fresh Wes, has said what stands out about Jackson is his work ethic. And while Jackson is still finding his ultimate voice as a rapper (spending eight hours a day in the studio), when he asserts, “I literally am willing to do whatever it takes to get to the next level,” it’s hard not to believe him.

Peter Jackson appears live October 13 at the Annex Wreckroom for Indie Week.

Video: The Time Regroups as The Original 7ven

Source:  www.eurweb.com - gayle@brookescompany.com

(Oct 10, 2011) *Fairfax, VA — Morris Day, Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton and Monte Moir revitalize the classic Minneapolis sound on their first new album together in 21 years. Condensate, due October 18th on SRR Records, features 14 brand new but instantly familiar tracks by the band formerly known as The Time. From their origins in the early ‘80s as Prince’s first protégés led by the dynamic Morris Day, this seminal group continues to deliver groundbreaking funk-rock dance grooves as only they can. Today The Original 7ven remain a fascinating and outrageous musical congregation.

Now, for the first time since the ‘90s, all the original members of the band formerly known as The Time have reunited in the studio as The Original 7ven to deliver an authentic and unapologetically funky album of instant classics!  Condensate has all the cool and swagger of earlier years and asserts funk-tastic confidence perfectly suited for today’s audience. Endlessly entertaining, this new collection of 14 timeless grooves puts the “fun” back in funk!

Scroll down to check out their new jammin ‘ single called “Trendin’”

The album name Condensate is taken from Morris Day’s tongue-in-cheek comment, “I don’t sweat, I condensate.”

“The studio was alive when we recorded. The energy and the fever, the skill and the fun – the fun – took Condensate to a whole new level.”

School’s in!  The Original 7vens’s music is fresh and wildly infectious,” says Mike Jason, SRR Records Senior Vice President, Retail, “and all I can say is it was worth the wait!”

30 years ago, The Original 7ven musicians left crowds stunned and screaming for more when they took their funk/rock/pop sound on the road, led by the marvellously charismatic front man Morris Day.  Formed in 1981, Morris Day, Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton and Monte Moir were legendary for enhancing their exciting funk/rock/pop Minneapolis Sound out of the studio and to the stage.  When they previously performed as The Time, the group pulled frenetic energy and warmth from synthesizer-laden technology for their live concerts. Their brash, fresh and inventive talent has driven every single member of the band since then to innovative careers and success.

Lead vocalist Morris Day is a triple threat performer of Stage, Screen, and Television. He is also an accomplished drummer who played on many of The Time’s biggest hits. His singing career includes four albums with The Time as well as four solo albums. Day wrote and produced the smash dance hit “The Oak Tree” and followed that up with the #1 hit “Fishnet” with fellow alums Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Day continues to perform wildly popular concerts with Moir and Jellybean Johnson.

World class Guitarist Jesse Johnson, who co-wrote The Time’s smash “Jungle Love,” also found critical and commercial success as a songwriter/producer working with Janet Jackson, After 7, Paula Abdul and Chaka Khan. Johnson also contributed music for film soundtracks including “The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink”, “The 5 Heartbeats”, and “A Time To Kill”. His solo projects include, Jesse Johnson’s Revue 1985, Shockadelica 1986, Every Shade of Love 1988, Bare My Naked Soul 1996, and the critically acclaimed Verbal Penetration 2009.

Keyboardist Jimmy Jam and Bassist Terry Lewis are five time Grammy award winners who have more Billboard Hot 100 #1’s than any songwriting/production duo in music history. Recognized as one of the most innovative and successful production teams in music, Jam & Lewis are responsible for an entire era of music including Janet Jackson’s string of hits, as well as recent songs by Usher, Mariah Carey and Keyshia Cole.

Keyboardist Monte Moir is a songwriter, singer, producer, and classically trained musician who has written and produced a number of hits including Janet Jackson’s #1 smash “The Pleasure Principle” as well as Alexander O’Neal’s classic “If You Were Here Tonight”. Other notable artists Moir has worked with include Gladys Knight, Thelma Houston, Deniece Williams and Patti Austin.

Drummer Jellybean Johnson has contributed his songwriting/producing and Guitar skills on numerous hits. Most notably with Janet Jackson to create the #1 rock-driven anthem “Black Cat”. Johnson also scored top charting hits with artists including New Edition (“Crucial”), Alexander O’Neal (“Criticize”), Nona Hendrix (“Why Should I Cry”) and Mint Condition’s #1 smash “Breakin My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”.

·  Mirror & Percussionist Jerome Benton, (the half brother of Terry Lewis) is an audience favourite for his playful interaction and delightful chemistry with Morris Day onstage. As an actor he starred in Prince’s films “Purple Rain” and “Under the Cherry Moon” and stole scenes in music videos with Prince, Janet Jackson, Herb Alpert, and most notably when he performed with The Time. Benton was also a member of the group The Family and has written several scripts for the stage and screen.



About SRR Records:
SRR(Saguaro Road Rhythm) is an R&B imprint of Saguaro Road Records, Inc.

Awards Honour Cold But Funny Canucks

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Oct 12, 2011) Her sister may have been the prom queen, but Debra DiGiovanni is getting the last laugh.

“I have a fraternal twin sister who was the prom queen and I was not invited to the prom. I did her hair for the prom,” said DiGiovanni, who regularly riffs on her unglamorous life as a standup comic and a regular on MTV’s Video on Trial.

“I think I kind of developed a sense of humour pretty early in life, realizing my situation. I guess I was always the girl that made everyone laugh,” said the Tillsonburg native, who’s been doing standup comedy for 11 years.

DiGiovanni is seeking her third win as Best Female Standup when the
Canadian Comedy Awards and Festival opens for a five-day run from Thursday to Monday.

“It’s pretty good, I’m not going to lie. I hate to sound ‘pageant,’ but . . . it’s an honour just to be nominated. It really is lovely,” said DiGiovanni, whose one-woman show, Single Awkward Female, comes to the Panasonic Theatre on Nov. 13.

DJ Demers has found being deaf is no barrier to standup. He’s among the nominees for Best Newcomer — an award DiGiovanni won in 2002 — and has found having two hearing aids occasionally comes in handy in front of a rowdy crowd.

“I make a lot of jokes about my hearing aids and then I also make a lot of jokes about my jokes about my hearing aids. So I like to address the elephant in the room. It is a part of my life and there’s a lot of humour in it,” said Demers, 25.

“I can’t hear what you’re saying, sir, but I have a feeling I don’t want to,” is his standard response to hecklers, Demers joked.

After landing a spot at a Yuk Yuk’s open mike event two years ago, Demers left business school in Waterloo to launch a career in standup and still regularly trawls the circuit to hone his skills.

“When I came here, I was just so happy that there’s a city that exists where I can go and do three open mikes every night of the week,” Demers said.

“You have to work every night. For every joke you see, a comedian has done that 1,000 times at crappy open mikes,” he added.

Former standup and sketch performer Tim Progosh said he co-founded the awards in 2000 to recognize the fact “we’re the funniest people on the planet.”

“I don’t know why. It has something to do with the fact its cold and we have to be inside a lot and make each other laugh,” Progosh said.

Since then, the event has gone from a one-night award show to a five days featuring nominees performing at five venues across Toronto, including Yuk Yuk’s and Second City.

The organization was among the first in Canada to successfully implement online voting and has more than 1,800 member/voters across Canada, Progosh said.

Nominees are submitted annually and winnowed down to the top five by 170 jury members, whose selections account for 30 per cent of the total marks. The remaining 70 per cent of the score comes from the entire membership.

The group also has five categories that are voted on by the public at large, involving the participation of 6,000 to 7,000 people across the country annually.

The main public category is Canadian Comedy Person of the Year, with Russell Peters, Ron James, Samantha Bee, Roger Abbott and Howie Mandel on the slate this year.

Two-minute performance clips are assembled on the organization’s website in categories like Best Web Clip and Best Radio Clip, and members of the public are invited to register and vote, Progosh said.

Doc Focuses On Steve Nash, A 'Refreshing Subject'

Source:  www.globeandmail.com

(Oct 10, 2011) There have been a lot of late nights these past few weeks as co-directors Michael Hamilton and Corey Ogilvie have been rushing to finish their documentary about basketball star Steve Nash, but there's no sign of even the slightest fatigue as Ogilvie whips out his iPhone to share a photo of Ogilvie miking up U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House Map Room.

"He said 'this never happens,'" says Hamilton, who also has a personal photo with Obama on his BlackBerry. "This never happens that a President sits down for a documentary that isn't, like, 60 Minutes."

Obama is one of a slew of big names who lined up to tell the Vancouver-based filmmakers why they admire the Canadian basketball phenomenon for Nash - The Documentary, having its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival on Tuesday.

"He does his job," Obama says in the film. "He doesn't do it with a lot of fanfare. You get a sense that he's probably the same kid that he was when he was growing up in Canada."

Nash grew up in Victoria, as did Ogilvie, who idolized Nash: a rare Canadian NBA success story who was named the league's most valuable player, twice.

"It was probably one of the most difficult, statistically unlikely things that could happen," says Ogilvie. "A 6'2" white guy from Canada a two-time MVP?"

Hamilton, a sports documentary filmmaker, got Nash on board, and brought in Ogilvie, whose previous films have explored the anti-war movement and the homelessness epidemic in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"Steve in a way is a very refreshing subject; somebody who is inherently good," says Ogilvie. "When you're making a film on homelessness ... the drama is implied. Whereas with Nash, it's the complete opposite."

But Nash's life has not been without drama: there were troubles in his college career, big problems in Dallas. He was criticized by some for making anti-war statements during the 2003 All-Star game."We focused extensively on the obstacles," says Ogilvie, 29. "That's what makes our lives interesting. It's not the easy days. It's the hard days."

Nash, a filmmaker himself, gave the directors "really great" access. When they had a problem with their camera, Nash offered up his own. He was also, they say, a generous interview.

"I've done tons of sport docs with a lot of different athletes," says Hamilton, 43. "And I'm telling you: Sometimes it's a cold room when they don't get it or they don't want to be there."

In the film, Nash, 37, is portrayed as a fundraising, hybrid-driving, No Logo-reading, Vitamin Water-pitching, longboard-riding sufferer of can't-sit-still-itis (his foundation head's term) who shot hoops with Obama at the White House ("I think he made more than I did," the President says) and charmed Owen Wilson's mother. "He just seems like he could run for office," Wilson remembers her saying.

But what was key to the filmmakers was that Nash be portrayed as human: vulnerable, fallible, insecure.

"It was probably one of the most humbling experiences of my life to see this multimillionaire who has everything, like every material thing he could possibly want, who's less complacent in his life than I am. It was just an eye-opener," says Ogilvie. "That's one thing I really hope people get. When they see him after watching the movie, they're not going to see this hero, this larger-than-life athlete. They're going to see another human being, just like them."

::MUSIC NEWS::

Sarah Slean’s Shows Range On Land & Sea

Source:  www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

SARAH SLEAN
Land & Sea (Pheromone)

(Oct 10, 2011) On her sixth studio album, Pickering native Sarah Slean has lays out an awe-inspiring panorama of a mature poet and musician. This two-CD set from 3-year-old Canadian indie label Pheromone Recordings is really two albums in one.

Land is an energetic, nine-track foray into straightforward rock-pop, with Slean’s vocals and keyboards backed up mainly by percussion and bass (played by Joel Plaskett, who also acts as producer for much of Land). Slean has a knack for deceptively easy-sounding blends of melody, rhythm and catchy hooks as she points to the strange times we live in.

Sea is filled with compulsive and compelling echoes of Gustav Mahler, Leonard Cohen and Kurt Weill, executed by a string orchestra made up of a who’s who of Toronto’s finest classical musicians. This is a golden feat of songwriting and execution. Where on Land, Slean’s melodic string is tightly coiled, Sea’s nine songs unfurl like mainsails under a steady, gentle breeze. The mood is wistful, if not downright melancholy, as the singer-songwriter dips our toes into deep waters. Slean’s tour for the package lands at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre on Nov. 5.

Land is for open road, with the sun and wind in one’s hair. Sea is a lonely recline at dusk.

Top tracks: On Land, it’s the uptempo “Everybody’s on TV,” a lighthearted poke at our narcissistic age; on Sea, it’s the epic, tragic waltz of “Napoleon” with its chilling refrain, “So every nation be warned/ As soon as the last one is murdered/ Another tyrant is born.”

Video: Candice Anitra ‘Too Much Woman’

Source:  www.eurweb.com  

(Oct 10, 2011) Who’s stuck in a box, me or you?

Over a trippy instrumental,
Candice Anitra asks the question during the chorus of lead single “Too Much Woman” off of her upcoming album, Big Tree. Lyrically, she’s singing about female empowerment and societal double-standards, visually she’s facing those
double-standards and comments women encounter almost daily. It’s a definite about-face from the chauvinistic submission of much of today’s popular music and imagery.

Ms. Anitra begins with the declaration, “A pacifist in pumps/ Not afraid to throw a punch / Or eat your hurt feelings for lunch,” and sets the tone for a song in which she demurely attacks being boxed into pre-conceived notions of what a woman can or can’t handle, being judged on physical appearance or the doubts that a woman is capable of being more than the object of beauty. According to lyrics Anitra sings, this makes her too much woman for our current culture, another myth she’s looking to debunk.

Check out the video ….

Peter Gabriel Gives His Greatest Hits The Orchestral Treatment

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Daniel Richler

(Oct 11, 2011) LONDON — When you get to a certain age it’s alarming, isn’t it, to see the idols of your youth growing old. Once upon a time Peter Gabriel, the lead singer of the legendary prog-rock group Genesis, was a lithe Adonis in flares who brought the band’s mythic songs to life with graceful mime and surreal costumes.

Today, at the age of 61, he’s a stout fellow with a white goatee who resembles Burl Ives.

Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, at what was then the peak of the band’s popularity. But while rock music is littered with self-destructive egos and one-hit wonders, with stars who failed to move on or whose fans refused to let them, he has led a career of variety and invention and, happily, global success.

From Biko, the first pop song to celebrate the resistance to apartheid, to Xplora, the world’s largest-selling music CD-ROM, to On Demand Distribution (OD2), one of the first music download services, he has consistently stood at the point where music, technology and politics converge.

The man whose recording label WOMAD introduced world music to millions in the West appears at a restaurant that overlooks London’s Knightsbridge. Gabriel’s here to discuss his 17th solo album, New Blood, which gives the orchestral treatment to a selection of his own greatest hits in a grand CD and 3-D DVD package, mixing international rhythms and inflections in the musical melting pot he has championed for years.

“I’ve lived and slept and eaten and drunk these songs for so long I know them inside out,” he says in the husky voice his stocky body now produces, “but we were trying to approach them in a different way. The brief was to try something skeletal in places and rich and fleshy in others. We were trying to let the songs speak but using the colours of the orchestra.”

The meeting of pop with classical has produced some stinkers (the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra’s Rolling Stones Songbook), some triumphs (Frank Zappa’s The Yellow Shark) and a whole lot in between. There have been bluesy dates (Deep Purple at the Albert Hall), gothic tempests (Within Temptation) and symphonic metal collisions where guitar riffs and Beethoven bang, for better or worse, like hammer and tongs (Metallica). So, what makes it work, when it works? What do the new arrangements reveal in the old songs?

“Well, we didn’t want to just have the orchestra scraping out the melodies in a literal way. You’ll get bands with orchestras sampled on their keyboards, and they just plonk out the chords. I myself was ignorant about where the individual instruments speak best, and what range of sound possibilities they all have, but with the wonderful John Metcalf arranging for me, we laboured hard on capturing the warmth of the instruments, the timbre and texture – the wood and the strings, and achieved a certain to and fro.”

Gabriel’s collaboration with Metcalf (the British violist and composer who’s worked with Blur, Simple Minds and numerous other contemporaries) began with his last album, Scratch My Back, on which he covered songs by artists as diverse as Lou Reed, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend. But he’s actually no stranger to orchestration, having also worked on his album Up with Will Gregory (of Goldfrapp) and composed the soundtracks to Birdy (1984), Passion (1986) and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). Some of the songs on New Blood have an emotional impact in the best movie-score tradition. The new rendition of San Jacinto, about a Native American watching his culture trampled by modern white society, evokes the panoramic aural landscapes of a Terrence Malick film. Mercy Street conjures the atmosphere of film noir.

At first listen, some elements that fused Gabriel’s reputation for marrying musical cultures seem disappointingly absent: the bagpipes and African choir on Biko, for example. But then you realize the inflections are still there – just, as he says, in a different way. On The Rhythm of the Heat, a song based on Carl Jung’s experience observing a group of tribal drummers in Africa, “We really worked to capture the sex dripping off the bows of the violins. To have that primal, Stravinsky-like urge. We stripped out the African blood of the drums themselves, but gave the interweaving polyrhythms to the string section, so there’s still that intensity. It’s the rhythm, often. If I taught music to young people, I would say you can’t start with the head. You start with the hips and then it percolates up to the head. If you try to understand music too intellectually, starting with the head, then you can’t find your hips.”

On YouTube there’s a clip of Gabriel at London’s Hammersmith Apollo last year, beginning that song, with its lyric, “The rhythm has my soul,” where he’s so visibly taken up listening to the orchestra behind him he forgets his vocal cue. You get a vivid sense of how he’s rediscovered the meanings behind his own compositions.

“Well yes!” he says, laughing. “You perform these songs so often you don’t always feel the emotion, or at least you don’t know when you might. Sometimes I’m drifting off, right there on the stage, drawing up my laundry list. The tour you see on the DVD was only three weeks long, so I never got to the point of routine anyway, but yes, the fresh arrangements did mean I could suddenly find myself overwhelmed.”

Early listener reaction has borne out similar emotions: “In my garden beneath the moon with a glass of wine,” writes one blogger. “Not the same glorious orchestral treatment, but more glorious.” With its dramatic soundscapes, New Blood focuses you on the raw subject matter of Gabriel’s songs: depression; childhood terrors; the murderer’s inner urge; poison rituals of the Sioux; the poems of Anne Sexton; his breakup with Rosanna Arquette.…

“I was trying to illustrate a psychological space musically,” he says. “I deliberately wanted this record to be a little hard work, for you and for me. We live in a junk-food culture, but I’m encouraged by that experiment where teenagers are given free rein of the supermarket. They start out gorging on pizza, of course, but after a month they’re choosing the vegetables. With New Blood we’ve tried to present something that’s rich enough to reward your efforts.”

Gabriel has been a multimedia innovator from his days with Genesis. Early though it was in the evolution of computer entertainment, his 1997 art and music adventure Eve pushed the degree of psychological and emotional engagement a game can offer. The DVD half of New Blood is as immersive as 3-D technology can offer today, not just placing you onstage among the musicians, but also in some peculiar dimension where live action is blended with evocative images projected above the stage.

By comparison, and sadly for some, only a few Genesis clips survive, like snatches of dreams – shadowy and out of focus. The diehard fans who pine to see the young man in a red dress and a fox head can make do with Quebec’s the Musical Box, a Genesis tribute band that plays to sold-out crowds around the world and whose replica of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway this fall is so note-perfect that all the members of the original Genesis, Gabriel included, have endorsed it. Still, it makes you wonder what he could have done then to bring the fantastical imagery of Genesis’s songs alive with the technology of today.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Adele Leads American Music Awards Nominations

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 11, 2011) British singing star Adele continued her current pop reign with a leading four nominations for the 2011 American Music Awards announced on Tuesday, edging out the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

Adele, 23, who was recently forced to cancel the remainder of her sold out U.S. tour due to a vocal chord hemorrhage, was nominated for favourite rock/pop female artist, adult contemporary artist, album with her 21 and artist of the year for the awards to be broadcast from Los Angeles on Nov. 20.

Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Lil Wayne and country music group The Band Perry were nominated three times, followed by artists such as Bruno Mars and Beyonce with two nods each.

Besides Adele, other artist of the year contenders are Gaga, Wayne, Swift and Perry, whose album Teenage Dream two months ago achieved the rare distinction of having five singles reach the top of the Billboard’s pop songs chart. Perry also will perform at the key music industry awards.

In other rock/pop music categories, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and the U.S. rapper Pitbull will vie for favourite male artist, while Maroon 5, OneRepublic and the dance music group LMFAO are nominated for favourite band. Besides Adele’s hit 21, favourite pop album nominations were shared by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and Rihanna’s Loud.

In rap/hip hop categories, Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West earned nods for favourite artist. Watch The Throne by West and Jay-Z, The Carter IV by Lil Wayne, and Pink Friday from Nicki Minaj were nominated for favourite album.

Country music nominees included Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean for favourite male artist and Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift for favourite female artist.

Chris Brown, Beyonce, Rihanna and Kelly Rowland were all nominated in the soul and R&B categories, and in the indie rock arena, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters and Mumford & Sons will compete for favourite artist.

Organizers said that along with Perry, the rapper Pitbull will sing and other performers will be announced at upcoming dates. As in previous years, winners will be determined by online voting.

Black Girls Rock Back for Another Round of Inspiration

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 8, 2011) *DJ Beverly Bond’s “Black Girls Rock” events in LA and DC have been on hit, winning the hearts of black women of all ages. She created the tour to celebrate the endless accomplishments of women of color in Rock, Soul, and Alternative music genres.

She’s bringing the celebration back on Oct. 13 in New York with performances by Estelle, the DC based all-girl Go-Go band Be’la Dona, and rappers Rah Digga and Lil Mama.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased via http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/203959.

“I created this tour to showcase the many brilliant and talented women of color from various music genres and to help these artists get the recognition that they so deserve,” Bond stated. “This tour gives Black Girls Rock! the opportunity to support cutting edge talent and to also celebrate highly regarded artists who bring the best of our music culture to the mainstream.”  She adds, “We are excited about New York being the third stop on the tour leading up to the Black Girls Rock! 2011 special on BET, dedicated to honouring exceptional women of color around the world who stand as inspirational and positive role models.”

The inspirational show has proven to be a program of brilliance and empowerment, “promoting healthy, positive self-images for young Black girls and boys.”

For more info visit www.blackgirlsrockinc.com.

Nicki Minaj on Thoughts of Suicide and Abusive Father

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 10, 2011) *Talk about dedication.  Nicki Minaj admitted in a recent interview that she was so desperate to achieve her dream that she was willing to die for it.

“I kept having doors slammed in my face. I felt like nothing was working. I had moved out on my own, and here I was thinking I’d have to go home. It was just one dead end after another,” she revealed to Cosmopolitan. “At one point, I was, like, ‘What would happen if I just didn’t wake up?’ That’s how I felt. Like maybe I should just take my life?”

But her dream wasn’t selfish. She wanted to make it work to help her family. She said praying to God for a big break was a normal thing. She wanted to buy a big house for mom and protect her from the rapper’s father.

“He would beg, cry, stalk us,” the FeMC explained.

“One time, he pulled my mother out of a car and dragged her for two blocks. After that, I had a phobia about unlocked doors. Anywhere my mother and I were, I made sure the door was locked, because that was my only way to protect her.”

Interestingly, over the summer, news came out about the rapper’s explosive relationship with her rumoured boyfriend Sarafee Samuels. The two got into a physical fight, which left Nicki with a cut lip.

Fans, Celebrities Gather For Michael Jackson Tribute Concert

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Jill Lawless

(Oct 08, 2011) CARDIFF, WALES — Three generations of Michael Jackson’s family — with a few notable absentees — joined an eclectic roster of entertainers Saturday to pay tribute to the King of Pop, a celebration of the late star’s life overshadowed by the Los Angeles manslaughter trial of his doctor.

Several Jacksons were due onstage for the “Michael Forever” show at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, alongside Christina Aguilera, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Leona Lewis, British boyband JLS, Cee Lo Green — and, via video, Beyonce.

The concert has divided the King of Pop’s family and followers. Brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie — three of the original Jackson 5 — and sister La Toya are scheduled to perform, while the audience will include Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine and his children Prince, 14, Paris, 13, and 9-year-old Michael Joseph Jr., known as Blanket.

But brothers Jermaine and Randy and sister Janet have stayed away, saying it is wrong to hold the show at the same time as the manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.

Before the show, Marlon Jackson said he respected his siblings’ decision.

“Each one of us grieves differently,” he said. “We want to celebrate the positive side of his life, the positive things that he did.”

Jackson died in June 2009, at age 50, as he was preparing for a string of comeback concerts in London.

His last hours are being relived in graphic detail at the trial of Murray, accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion on June 25, 2009.

Some fans have said it’s inappropriate to hold the tribute show during the trial, but those who came to Cardiff said it was a fitting antidote to the grim courtroom spectacle.

“There’s a lot of negativity in that courtroom,” said Ronnie Lee, a 32-year-old truck driver from Pembroke, Wales, sporting a “Thriller” T-shirt. “This is a chance to say, ‘Thank you Michael’ and celebrate the music.”

Fans from across Europe gathered outside the stadium, where vendors did a brisk trade in King of Pop T-shirts and fedora hats like those once worn by Jackson.

“Whatever happens in that court, we’ll never get Michael back,” said Karin Kiewiet, 40, a local government worker from Emmen, Netherlands. “This is a good opportunity for us to begin grieving.”

The show has suffered teething problems, with producers struggling to line up top-name acts for the tribute, hosted by actor Jamie Foxx and British TV host Fearne Cotton.

The Black Eyed Peas pulled out of the line-up this week, citing “unavoidable circumstances” amid reports the chart-topping band is splitting up.

Organizer Chris Hunt said that despite the last-minute loss, fans could expect “a very, very spectacular show.”

“Everything we’ve done has been governed by one criterion — would Michael have done it this way, would he approve, would he like it?” said Hunt, chief executive of Global Live Events. “We’re trying to do something worthy of one of the greatest showmen of modern times.”

Several fan groups around the world have criticized the event, not just for its timing, but for ticket prices that started at about $100 and for what some regard as an out-of-the-way location in Cardiff, 240 kilometres west of London.

Organizers also outraged many fans by inviting the rock band Kiss, whose bassist Gene Simmons told a magazine last year that there was “no doubt in my mind” that Jackson, who was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005, had abused children.

The invitation was hastily rescinded, but many fans remain angry.

“The fans are not happy that the Jackson estate is not involved,” said Wesley Noorhoff, president of a Dutch Michael Jackson fan club. “It seemed like they wanted to build a concert soon, to get money.

“I believe it should wait, not only because of the Murray trial. If you do a tribute to Michael, it has to be the best there is, just like Michael.”

Hunt insisted the show would be a success. He said more than 40,000 tickets had been sold by Friday, and he was confident of reaching the venue’s 50,000 capacity.

Some of the proceeds will go to the AIDS Project Los Angeles and Prince’s Trust charities, and a portion will be placed in a trust fund for Jackson’s children, though organizers did not give an exact breakdown.

Hunt said 13 Jackson family members were scheduled to attend the concert, many of them appearing onstage.

“It’s a family’s tribute to their own,” he said. “I’m expecting it to be a hugely emotional evening.”

Marlon Jackson, 54, said he wanted dissenters to know that Michael would have approved of the show.

“I want the world to understand that my brother was more than just an entertainer,” he said. “There was a human side to him as well.”

BET Hip-Hop Awards Roundup: Chris Brown Tops Winners

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Oct 12, 2011) *Chris Brown took home a leading four trophies at the BET Hip-Hop Awards, which was taped at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on October 1 and broadcast last night in Atlanta.

Brown – whose take included best hip-hop video and best collaboration for “Look at Me Now,” featuring Busta Rhymes - was unable to appear on the show because he’s currently on his F.A.M.E. tour, but he did tweet this message: “Thank you BET but most of all TeamBreezy.”

Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa also were among the night’s big winners, taking home two awards apiece. The latter was named rookie of the year.

Meanwhile, Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” won for best CD, while his “Watch the Throne” collaborator Jay-Z was named hustler of the year.

The show, hosted by Mike Epps, featured performances by T.I., Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Lupe Fiasco and Erykah Badu (who initially appeared onstage in a mask and surprised attendees when she revealed her identity) and Heavy D and Tyrese, among others.

Below is the complete list of winners:

Best Hip-Hop Video
Chris Brown feat. Bustya Rhymes, “Look at Me Now”

Best Featured Verse
Chris Brown feat. Busta Rhymes,  “Look at Me Now”

Best Collaboration
Chris Brown feat. Bustya Rhymes, “Look at Me Now”

Best Live Performer

Lil Wayne

Best Lyricist
Lil Wayne

Video Director of the Year
Hype Williams

Producer of the Year
Lex Luger

MVP of the Year

Nicki Minaj

Track of the Year
Wiz Khalifa, “Black and Yellow”

Hustler of the Year
Jay-Z

CD of the Year
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

DJ of the Year
DJ Khaled

Rookie of the Year
Wiz Khalifa

Best Mixtape
J. Cole, Friday Night Lights

Made-You-Look Award
Nicki Minaj

People’s Champ Award
Chris Brown feat. Bustya Rhymes, “Look at Me Now”

I Am Hip-Hop Award
LL Cool J

Best Club Banger
Waka Flocka Flame feat. Roscoe Dash and Wale, “No Hands”

Taylor Swift Named Billboard Woman of the Year

Source: www.billboard.com - by Marc Schneider, N.Y.

(October 11, 2011) Taylor Swift, the four-time Grammy winner and biggest selling albums artist in any genre for the past 12 months, has been chosen to receive the coveted Woman of the Year Award at the 2011 Billboard Women in Music event on Dec. 2 in New York City.
 
The 21-year-old singer-songwriter is the youngest artist to ever receive the honour, and it comes on the heels of earning several 2011 Billboard Music Awards, among them Top Country Album for the five-time platinum selling "Speak Now."
 
Swift has spent the past year on the Speak Now World Tour in support of her third album, which debuted last October atop the Billboard 200, selling over a million copies in its first week. All 14 tracks on the country-pop juggernaut were composed by Swift, and she made Hot 100 history by charting 11 songs off the album in a single week.
 
Photos: Taylor Swift's Fashion Evolution
 
The Pennsylvania native is used to breaking chart records and currently holds another Hot 100 record for most top 10 debuts, with seven. Her self-titled debut, released in 2006, holds the honour of longest-running album on the Billboard 200 since 2000.
 
She followed that up in 2008 with "Fearless," a critically acclaimed set that established her as a skilled songwriter and a procurer of hits, including "Love Story," "You Belong With Me" and "White Horse." Swift's "Fearless" is the longest-running No. 1 album by a female country artist in Billboard 200 history. Not surprisingly, the 6-times platinum "Fearless" is the most awarded album in country music history and her overall worldwide sales now exceed 20 million albums and 40 million song downloads. Again, she's only 21.
 
"Taylor has shown the power of good songwriting with music that has transcended genres, and we're thrilled to recognize all of her successes over the past year by honouring her with the Billboard Woman of the Year Award," says Bill Werde, Billboard's Editorial Director. "At the young age of 21, Taylor has already made a major impact on music and has been an incredible role model for aspiring singers/songwriters and young women everywhere.  I look forward to watching her career continue to flourish in the years to come."
 
Taylor Swift Announces 'Speak Now' Live CD/DVD
 
She is currently nominated for six 2011 CMA Awards including Entertainer of the Year, and is readying the November release of the CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray sets of her Speak Now World Tour.
 
Swift is a dedicated and prolific philanthropist as well, and has lent her time and efforts to raise money for causes ranging from clean water to literacy to disaster relief. She personally donated $1 million to charities in the past year alone.
 
Billboard's annual Women in Music Event, now in its sixth year, celebrates the most powerful and talented women in the music business, coinciding with the publication of Billboard's Women in Music Power Players list. This year's event will be taking place on Friday, Dec. 2 at Capitale in New York City. Last year's honour went to Black Eyed Peas singer, Fergie.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Downsizing: RCA Folds J, Jive and Arista Labels

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 9, 2011) *Oh how the mighty have fallen. In one more sign that the music industry is not what it used to be, RCA Records is announcing that the company is shuttering its Arista, Jive and J labels, and that all of the artists currently signed to those imprints will be folded into the RCA Records roster. “The path we’ve taken is to refresh RCA, so we’re going to retire those brands,” Tom Corson, RCA president and COO told the Hollywood Reporter. “There may be a reason down the line to bring them back, but it’s a clean slate here.” And what do the artists – such as R. Kelly, Ne-Yo and Alicia Keys – have to say about this new arrangement? “The artists have all been supportive. We didn’t make this move without consulting our artists, and we haven’t had any push-back,” responds Corson. “Frankly, they’re the brand. We’re defined by our artists.”

The Weeknd's New Track "Initiation" With Drake

Source:  www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(Oct 10, 2011) Abel Tesfaye, alias The Weeknd, has already seized a ton of attention among R&B lovers with his two mixtapes House of Balloons and Thursday, and whenever the concluding piece of the trilogy (Echoes of Silence) drops, the reaction will be vast and instantaneous. He's baiting the hook nicely with "Initiation," the track he posted this weekend.  His vocals get some serious electronic tweaking and the bass is laid on thick, giving the Weeknd's sound some appreciated sonic variety. Oh, and Tesfaye samples one of his own songs - adding in Drake's old lyrics from "The Zone." 

::FILM NEWS::    

On Vancouver Island: Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jack Black on filming The Big Year

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

(Oct 10, 2011) In Canada to shoot the new birder/buddy flick The Big Year, Owen Wilson encountered a Wilson's warbler in Vancouver's Stanley Park, Jack Black lost at poker in a Dawson City casino and Steve Martin, in the landscape, detected the work of one of his favourite artists.

"I'm a huge admirer of Lawren Harris, the great Canadian painter," Martin - who owns several Harris works - told The Globe and Mail last week from New York.

"Some of his paintings are kind of weirdly abstract, abstracted landscapes, and I could completely see the landscape that he was painting while I was there. It was very clear that he was painting Canadian landscapes. Very beautiful."

Set against The Big Year's majestic backdrop is the cutthroat world of competitive birding, where the drive to spot a yellow-bellied sapsucker or a pink-footed goose can turn a regular schmo into a scheming opponent.

A big year is a real (but informal) competition where birders spend a single calendar year trying to spot as many species as possible within a defined geographical area - in this case, North America.

In the film, inspired by Mark Obmascik's book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession, Black plays Brad Harris, a cubicle-dweller who writes computer code while listening to bird calls on his iPod. Martin is Stu Preissler, a wealthy Wall Street businessman who keeps trying, unsuccessfully, to retire. And Wilson is celebrity birder Kenny Bostick, the world record-holder for a big year, with 732 species spotted. They all, for different reasons and facing different challenges, embark on a big year.

"I was drawn to the emotional stories of these guys," says Black. "When they weren't birding, there was a lot of depth there. And it was a cool departure for me."

At the heart of the story is the question: What are you willing to sacrifice in order to make it to the top of your chosen game?

The film's stars, clearly at the top of theirs, have made some sacrifices of their own along the way.

"When I first started my career, I was travelling all the time," says Martin. "I travelled probably for 18 years. And you just can't develop any kind of ordinary home life. ... If I'd stayed in one place, I probably would have been married with kids." (Which Martin - now married to his second wife - adds may or may not have been a sacrifice, but "probably was.") Black, the voice of Po in the Kung Fu Panda films, had an "intense interest" in animation in high school, which he did not pursue. "I might have followed that as a career path had acting not swept me up," he says when asked what he's sacrificed for movie stardom. "So the world will never know what they've lost in the animator Jack Black."

The Big Year's gruelling if-it's-Tuesday-it-must-be-Tofino production schedule was a 55-day whirlwind of more than 270 scenes and 100 locations, most of them in British Columbia and the Yukon.

"It was like a decade's worth of travel crammed into one month," says Black.

Osoyoos, B.C. stood in for parts of Arizona and California; Tofino for the Pacific Northwest; Whistler for Colorado, and the Yukon for Alaska's Attu Island, a birding mecca.

"That was kind of spectacular," says Wilson, of the June 2010 shoot in remote Dawson City. "When we were there, it was the land of the midnight sun." On one particularly memorable bright night, Wilson finished shooting at about 11:00 p.m. and then teed off at the golf course an hour later, at midnight.

That part of the shoot was also "a real bonding trip for us," says Wilson, recounting a trip to Diamond Tooth Gerties, where the guys saw cancan dancers and faced off in a late night poker game.

Who won?

"I did not," says Black. "I think actually our director David Frankel was one of the last men standing."

All that time in nature led to some encounters with wildlife: there were eagles, and Wilson's Stanley Park Wilson's warbler, a "beautiful, beautiful bird" he says, which he was able to identify, thanks to this project. "Before the movie I was probably limited to blue jays, cardinals, those types of things."

Under Frankel's direction, the film is meant to be more than a comedic romp through the bird habitats of North America. There's a message about the real goal of any pursuit being the journey, not the destination. And that sometimes doing something crazy to pursue your dream might not actually be such a bad idea.

"I did 100 [crazy] things" says Martin, early on to pursue his own dream, including quitting a lucrative job as a television writer. "I wanted to test my career as a stand-up [comedian] and there's only one way to do it, which is go on the road and do it."

Black, too, had moments of crazy in his climb up the Hollywood ladder.

"I went to a couple auditions in full costume," says Black, whose breakout role was the judgmental record store clerk in High Fidelity.

"I think it was more desperate than crazy, though."

The Big Year opens this Friday.

Beyond 'Ski Porn' To A Green Theme

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Dave Ebner

(Oct 11, 2011) Like all ski movies, the new film All.I.Can. delivers images of harrowingly steep descents on mountains in remote destinations: the towering peaks of Alaska, a Chilean volcano, the Atlas range in Morocco.

It's what fans of the flourishing niche genre lovingly, and sometimes derisively, call ski porn. Each autumn a new volley of such films arrive, to whet appetites for the coming winter. But like pornography, there is a sameness in the films. Attempts to graft on a plot, or themes, often come off as feeble and many times are just cast aside in favour of the real show - the jumps, tricks and ever-more-extreme skiing.

The makers of All.I.Can., Whistler, B.C.-based Sherpas Cinema, aim for more. Their last film, 2008's The Fine Line, combined scenes of big-mountain skiing with avalanche safety education, taking on the reality of looming dangers in the mountains.

With All.I.Can., which premiered in Whistler in late September, Sherpas Cinema attempts to entwine an environmental theme with skiing. In Morocco, climbing in the Atlas Mountains, skier Chris Rubens considers the parched brown earth behind and below him. "Looking out over the barren desert," says Rubens, "it's pretty hard not to wonder: Is this our future?"

Sherpas Cinema deftly manages to blend its green theme and billowing white clouds of skiers ripping through fresh snow. It is an uneasy marriage, however, that places questions of global warming alongside a sport attuned to nature but extremely dependent on fossil fuels, from cars and planes to get to ski resorts or backcountry locations, to the helicopters used to shoot the spectacular footage.

The filmmakers acknowledge the seeming hypocrisy and avoid preaching, attempting to stoke awareness rather than trumpet some this-is-it answer.

"To tie together something that's going to be entertaining from start to finish, with action sports and to weave a message, it was definitely a challenge," said Malcolm Sangster, one of the film's producers.

"We always wanted to do ski films with a little more behind it than skiing."

Ski films began in the 1930s in Germany and gained momentum in the United States after the Second World War. Warren Miller, freshly discharged from the U.S. Navy, made the biggest name, delivering a film every fall that combined skiing, humour and picturesque cinematography.

Greg Stump, in the late 1980s, busted the mould with his seminal The Blizzard of Aahhh's, a story driven by the personalities of its stars, including Glen Plake and his mohawk haircut, and the extreme environs in the mountains of Chamonix, France.

Stump, who is soon to release a history of ski films, Legends of Aahhh's, isn't impressed with the two decades of work that followed Blizzard. He hesitates to criticize the likes of leading producers such as Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research but bemoans the lack of characters and stories.

"It's not easy to tell a story," said Stump. "They all say it's not ski porn but you know it is."

Bigger is better remains the go-to style, evidenced by this fall's most-hyped film, The Art of Flight. It is a multimillion-dollar work by Brain Farm Digital Cinema and Red Bull Media House, and tries to push the ski-film genre to a new level with high-end film equipment - the Cineflex cameras used to make the BBC's Planet Earth series.

But Sherpas Cinema is one of a cadre of smaller filmmakers trying something different, and it appears to be working. A review of All.I.Can. on the ESPN Action Sports website was effusive, calling the film "the best movie in skiing." It is beginning to feel that despite the eye-popping work of Brain Farm the most interesting ski films are the ones with the fewest glamour shots.

Among them is The Edge of Never, a recent book and film by Bill Kerig that tells the story of Whistler's Kye Petersen (one of the stars of All.I.Can.). Petersen, then just 15 years old, is taken to Chamonix by veterans like Plake to ski the mountain where his father Trevor Petersen died in 1996 in an avalanche.

Sweetgrass Productions, based in Colorado, has chosen a do-it-yourself ethos for its films. The company shoots in the backcountry and eschews helicopters. The filmmakers and skiers hike up every metre they eventually ski down. They establish a base for extended periods and produce more intimate and less frenetic films. Their latest, Solitaire, explores the hardship and rewards of skiing and life in the Andes of South America and it sold out its premiere at an 800-person theatre in Denver this month.

"It seemed people were incredibly excited for something different," said Zac Ramras, cinematographer/producer at Sweetgrass. "Our skiing isn't top-notch, I'll admit, but it's about more than the skiing."

At Sherpas Cinema, Sangster admires films such as the Red Bull-funded The Art of Flight and doesn't fear that big-budget extravaganzas preclude the success of more eclectic efforts. Sherpas's The Fine Line sold more than 30,000 copies, and All.I.Can. cost $400,000 to make, a fraction of the budget of The Art of Flight. Solitaire cost $110,000. The small budgets are made possible by filmmaking gear that has become much more affordable, which buoys Sangster's optimism for the genre.

"The films are just going to get better and better."

The All.I.Can. tour includes screenings in Halifax on Thursday. Calgary Friday, Edmonton Oct. 27 and Vancouver Nov. 3. International dates include New York on Nov. 19 and 20. Full schedule at sherpascinema.com.

Jamie Foxx: The ‘Thunder Soul’ Interview with Kam Williams

Source:  www.eurweb.com - Kam Williams

(Oct 9, 2011) *Born Eric Marlon Bishop in Terrell, Texas on December 13, 1967, Jamie Foxx was raised by his grandparents from the age of 7 months, following the failure of his parents’ marriage. He sang in the church choir as a child, and quarterbacked his high school’s football team, before going on to major in classical music and composition in college.

Jamie’s showbiz career began after a dare in 1989 when he went on stage on open mic night to take a shot at doing stand-up. After paying his dues on the comedy circuit, he was invited to join the ensemble cast of the Wayans Brothers’ TV sketch series “In Living Color” alongside Jim Carrey and Jennifer Lopez.

He subsequently landed his own series, “The Jamie Foxx Show,” which went on to enjoy a five-year run. He not only starred on the series but was also its co-creator and executive producer, and directed several episodes. He made his big screen debut in Toys in 1992, followed by appearances in Booty Call and The Players Club. He received rave reviews for his riveting work in Any Given Sunday and as Bundini Brown in Ali, breakout roles which in turn led to a trio of critically-acclaimed performances in Ray, Collateral and Redemption in 2004.

He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles as well as an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his work in Collateral. Furthermore, he won an NAACP Image Award for his portrayal of reformed, Death Row inmate Tookie Williams in Redemption. Jamie has since appeared in The Soloist, Horrible Bosses, Due Date, Dreamgirls, Miami Vice, Jarhead, The Kingdom and Law Abiding Citizen.

Here, he talks about producing Thunder Soul, a reverential bio-pic which pays tribute to the late Conrad “Prof” Johnson (1915-2008), the founder and conductor of Houston’s Kashmere High’s legendary stage band.

Kam Williams: Hi Jamie, thanks for the interview.
Jamie Foxx: Hey, man, thank you, brother.
 
KW: It’s been awhile. The last time we spoke you were filming Law Abiding Citizen in Philly. In fact, we talked on the same day that you had to beat up that intruder who broke into your hotel room.
JF: Well, let’s hope that it doesn’t happen like that again.
 
KW: I have a lot of questions for you from fans, so why don’t I get right to them? Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: What interested you in producing this film? Is your sponsorship of this type of documentary a direction you plan to continue in? Do you have other projects like this in development?
JF: What interested me was the fact that the story had a huge music component, since I have my own fond memories of playing in a stage band when I was a kid. And then I also liked the movie’s eloquent and touching storyline which flowed as if it had been scripted, even though it’s a documentary. You have the band getting back together for the first time in 30 years for a reunion concert, and then Prof’s ending up transitioning right after the event. It’s a beautiful film, and I just wanted to make sure that everybody was aware of it.  
 
KW: This movie had my eyes welling up all through it, not just at the ending.
JF: Oh, yeah, I was dying, man. And when a story touches you like that, you gotta be a part of it.
 
KW: Irene also asks: What message do you hope audiences will take away from watching Thunder Soul?
JF: The message is let’s get back to some of that old-time good feeling. This whole world has become so mean and so hateful; and everybody’s hating each other. You know how they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Well, I think they’re punishing everything. Thunder Soul is the type of uplifting story you can take the kids to see, and enjoy it, and sort of float away for a minute. Also, in the back of your mind, it’ll have you thinking about what we can do to keep the focus on the arts in schools. Because any time there’s a little trouble in paradise, the first programs they cut are the arts.

See full interview
HERE.

Marisa Tomei Gets Political

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Oct 06, 2011) Marisa Tomei is fine with playing a scoop-hungry New York Times reporter in The Ides of March, George Clooney’s drama of cutthroat presidential campaigning.

The Oscar-winning actress (and three-time nominee) likes topical films. What she really hungers for, though, is a major role as a Canadian: late Toronto writer/activist Jane Jacobs, whose views on urban living transformed this city and others.

“I would love to play Jane Jacobs; I just think she is so fascinating,” Tomei says, in an interview last month during TIFF.

“I love how she came to her activism. I love how she looks so cute with those glasses. I love that she saved Greenwich Village. And I really think the power dynamic between her and (New York City urban planner) Robert Moses is utterly fascinating.”

Jacobs, who died in 2006 at age 89, was born in Pennsylvania, but became a Canadian citizen after moving to Toronto in 1968. She wrote an influential book on urban planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). In Toronto, she played a role in stopping the Spadina Expressway and creating the St. Lawrence neighbourhood.

Jacobs was a good example of the pen being mightier than the sword, which is also the aim of Ida Horowicz, the high-level and hard-nosed Times columnist Tomei plays in Clooney’s presidential contest saga.

Q. Does talking to journalists prepare you for a role like this?

A. I had to really dig down deep to be that aggressive! I had to really psyche myself up every day and talk to George a lot about it to help me stay grounded and really in control with that level of fierceness.

Yes, her intellect is sharp and she’s swimming with very, very smart people and they’re all having a ball the way they play so hard with each other, but to stay in that space . . . Personally, I don’t even play sports, so the level of gamesmanship was a different head for me.

Q. You’ve been interviewed many times. You must have met a lot of obnoxious journalists like Ida.

A. Well, I don’t really think she’s that obnoxious.

Q. How about “forceful,” then?

A. Fierce. What we’re talking about is not like the stakes of where the country is going, so it’s not nearly that level of hardball because the stakes just aren’t as high.

Q. Was there any particular reporter you modelled yourself after?

A. No. I asked George about that, actually, because he had written it, to see if there was someone he had in mind. And there wasn’t anybody who actually does that same job. There’s no exact correlation because someone who had that much power at the Times wouldn’t be going on the road.

So he kind of conflated it for the purposes of the film. I had a done a movie with John Cusack called War Inc., in which I had played a journalist, so that’s when I did a lot of looking at journalism. I had that under my belt.

Q. Are you a political junkie?

A. I wouldn’t say I’m a junkie, but I do follow it.

Q. Do you get involved in any political causes?

A. I do, but it’s more in cycles — cycles of despondence and ebullience! I don’t want to read the paper a lot, lately. But I do, and I do participate, and I talk about it and keep up and stay active. I participate if there’s a candidate that I believe in. I’ll work for that person. I feel like it’s interesting, but only to a point. There’s not a lot of soul. . .

That was part of the way I was raised. My parents were very socially conscious and they always had us campaigning or protesting or marching.

Q. Does a cynical movie like The Ides of March change how you feel about politics?

A. It does, actually. It’s scarier than I want it to be — the idealistic part of me, the optimist. And that’s not going to change, because it’s part of my nature.

But I said to George, “It’s going to be hard for me to relate to these people,” and he said, “Yes, well, it’s hard for most people to relate because this is a rarefied world. But this is how it happens.”

America is a beautiful country. That’s for sure. But I appreciate being disillusioned by this film, in a strange way. I really do. I don’t feel like I come away disgusted and more cynical. I appreciate the veil being lifted. That’s my reaction to it. I think there’s obviously a myriad of ways to react to it.

Q. Do you think you can make your Jane Jacobs movie happen?

A. Yes! I need to get a little more get-up-and-go for that kind of thing! Being around Phil Hoffman and Ryan Gosling and George, it’s inspiring to see how they create their own work and I’d like to come into my own. I’ve been having talks with myself about doing that but I don’t have the gumption yet. We’ll see.

How Steve Jobs Changed Movies Forever

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Oct 06, 2011) I heard the news about the death of Steve Jobs while driving home from a preview screening of the remake of Footloose.

As sad as the news was, it also made me smile at the absurdity of the situation. I’d been spending time with a facsimile, while a genuine original was departing the Earth.

The first Footloose came out in 1984, the year Jobs and his Apple team released the first Macintosh computer, still the gold standard for innovative design. If this was all Jobs had created, we’d still have reason to applaud his vision — but he followed the Mac with the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and many other groundbreaking products.

The Apple boss wasn’t known for modesty — he used to call his products “insanely great” — but he was fond of quoting a line attributed to Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

He was acknowledging that he didn’t invent the computer, or the telephone or the portable amusement device. But he did take these products into entirely new realms, where suddenly they mattered to people in ways few could have conceived.

By encouraging people to “think different,” Jobs and Apple changed how the world works and plays, many times over. In so doing he also changed the movies, both for better and for worse. The silver screen was never again the same, once Jobs turned his laser focus upon it. The comparisons between him and Walt Disney aren’t idle praise.

The point-and-click simplicity of the Macintosh and its many imitators help inspire and enable the rush of animators of the 1980s who began exploring the use of computer-generated images (CGI) in mass-market films.

One of these animators was John Lasseter, an early employee of Pixar, the company Jobs created in 1986 when he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm from Star Wars creator George Lucas.

To help promote Pixar’s CGI technology, Lasseter created Luxo Jr., a comic short film starring a desk lamp that opened eyes and fluttered hearts throughout Hollywood.

It lit the path to a future where meticulous pen-and-ink drawings would no longer be needed to make animated movies. The future arrived with a bang less than a decade later, in 1995, when Lasseter, Jobs and Pixar unveiled Toy Story, the first feature film made entirely on computers.

It would be followed, to the sound of cash registers ringing and competitors scrambling, by such other Pixar successes as Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., two Toy Story sequels and two Cars films.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact and influence of these developments, and of Pixar’s swift rise as both the innovator and box-office leader of animated films. The Walt Disney Co., formerly the animation champ, admitted as much when it bought Pixar for $7.4 billion worth of stock in 2006, making Jobs the single biggest Disney shareholder and a member of its board of directors.

The influence of Jobs and Apple extends far beyond the cartoon frame or the financial pages.

In every way, the products of the company that Steve built now define almost everything we see at the movies. Look at the laptops used by characters in any film of the past 15 or so years, and they invariably bear the Apple logo. The ones that don’t are often used by nerds or villains, the subliminal suggestion being that they’re not cool or worthy enough to deserve an Apple product.

Many movie characters now routinely flash their iPods or iPhones, which often become part of the plot — not always to the film’s benefit. Another negative side to the ubiquity of the world that Jobs wrought is that many people think it’s okay to watch a movie on an iPod, iPhone or iPad, a serious downsizing of the power of the big screen.

If the pictures got smaller, as Norma Desmond famously lamented in Sunset Blvd., then Steve Jobs is at least partially to blame.

Yet he’s also the reason why many films get made in the first place. His Apple computers put power into the hands of many independent filmmakers, who could finally compete with the big Hollywood studios by allowing individuals to cut and edit movies in spaces often no bigger than a single desktop.

Apple technology has also been used to fight oppression. This is not a Film, co-directed by imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and his friend Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, was entirely shot on an iPhone.

The finished film was smuggled out of Iran, and under the noses of Iranian authorities, on thumb drives hidden inside a birthday cake. This is not a Film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and also screened at TIFF last month.

Watch for more movies to be filmed this way, especially since the newly announced iPhone 4S posts a bigger processor and better camera. Future revolutionaries may be able to forgo the thumb drives and cake, since Apple has announced an iCloud service to warehouse digital material in a virtual sky.

The Jobs revolution continues in Hollywood and beyond, but the question remains whether his dedication to design, quality and innovation will continue to thrive without him at the helm.

Disney animation went into a creative funk not longer after the death of founder Walt Disney in 1966, and it was not until it teamed with Pixar that its fortunes dramatically improved.

Will Apple, sans Jobs, continue to change Hollywood?

This remains to be seen, but for the moment, Apple stills reigns — as even the Footloose remake proves.

Kenny Wormald’s updated rebel dancer Ren uses an iPod jerry-rigged to car speakers to blast his opposition to people who refuse to “think different.”

Follow on Twitter: @peterhowellfilm

Apple’s influence on the movies, real and symbolic

Some would say that Apple products were seen in movies long before there was even an Apple computer.

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Jupiter-bound astronauts use handheld devices to keep up with news from Earth.

The devices look a lot like the Apple iPad, which didn’t become a reality until 2010. The similarity was noticed and commented upon by no less an authority than Douglas Trumbull, who designed many of the special effects and computer graphics for 2001.

Here are a few other Apple links to the movies:

WarGames (1983): The Armageddon countdown display for the WOPR military computer threatening Matthew Broderick and the world was created using an Apple II.

2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984): Roy Scheider uses a prototype Apple IIC with LCD screen that never made it to market.

You’ve Got Mail (1998): Meg Ryan uses a PowerBook to exchange flirty emails with Tom Hanks.

Burn After Reading (2008): Brad Pitt’s gym rat character works out with an iPod strapped to his arm.

Twilight (2008): Kristen Stewart’s lovestruck Bella writes on a MacBook, which is appropriately vampire black.

17 Again (2009): Zachary Efron makes ample use of an iPhone as he struggles to figure out who he is.

It’s Complicated (2009): Alec Baldwin uses a MacBook both to naughtily broadcast his naked form to Meryl Streep and to hide his genitals from disapproving censors.

This is not a Film (2011): Imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and co-director Mojtaba Mirtahmash use an iPhone to shoot their entire protest film.

The Ides of March (2011): George Clooney’s presidential candidate gets a shock delivered by iPhone.

FILM TIDBITS

New Trailer for Don Cheadle’s ‘House of Lies’ Series

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 10, 2011) *Showtime has unveiled a new promo of its upcoming Don Cheadle comedy, “House of Lies.” The series, premiering Sunday, Jan. 8 at 10 p.m., is based on Martin Kihn’s book, “House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time.” In the minute-long trailer, Cheadle says: “While you sleep, while you work, while you play, we keep America running like clockwork. With the secret handshake, the wizards of Oz, the hand up your skirt when no one’s looking, we keep big business in business by telling them what they need, when they need it. Truth? We’re just stealing their watch to tell them the time. “And they’re paying us millions for the favour.” Created by Matthew Carnahan, House of Lies, co-starring Ben Schwartz, Dawn Olivieri and Josh Lawson, launches Sunday, Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. Watch the new trailer below:

 

LisaRaye Delves Back into Fashion

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 9, 2011) *You can never go wrong with LisaRaye. She keeps it real, but in the classiest way. In an interview with Essence.com, the dynamic actress/fashionista updates her fans about the show “Single Ladies,” all the juicy details in her love life, and of course her latest career move back into fashion. “This is not my first introduction into fashion, I had a lingerie line about seven years ago that I did a great fashion show for during New York Fashion Week. But then when I got married and became the First lady of Turks and Caicos Islands, I decided that title and lingerie didn’t match that well.” She went on saying that several years later she was approached by PZI and fell in love with the line’s jeans. After that, there was no looking back. Since that moment, she’s become a partner in designing products. And you have to know she’s going to have her signature white throughout the line. Check out more at Essence.com.

LeToya Luckett Working with Taraji P Henson and Michael Clark Duncan

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 9, 2011) *LeToya Luckett, one of the original members of Destiny’s Child members, is still doing her thing. Over the years she’s released two solo albums and even stepped into the acting scene with her role in “The Preacher’s Kid” and a recurring role on HBO’s “Treme.” Now she’s back in action with a big role in a new inspirational drama, “From the Rough.” In an interview with Essence, the multitalented woman talked about the new flick and her future in music. “It stars Taraji P. Henson, Michael Clark Duncan, and Tom Felton of ‘Harry Potter.’ It’s a true story about Coach Starks, the first — not just African-American — but female to coach a men’s golf team,” she said. “Before Coach Starks became the golf coach, she was the swim coach for [Texas State University]. My character Stacey was one of her students and I fall in love with Tom Felton’s character. This isn’t necessarily something that Coach Starks wants. So I’m kind of torn between the two people — the one that I love and the one that I look up to. She also dished that a new album is in the making. This time it’ll be a little different, more soulful, and more real. Check out the full interview here.

Tamara Tunie Takes ‘Flight’ Toward Denzel Washington

Source:  www.eurweb.com  

(Oct 6, 2011) *“Law & Order: SVU” star Tamara Tunie will trade her medical scrubs for a flight attendant uniform opposite Denzel Washington in Paramount’s upcoming film “Flight.” As previously reported, ”Flight” centers on an airline pilot with substance abuse issues who steers an endangered flight to a crash-landing, saving nearly all of the passengers. Tunie plays the lead flight attendant who is interviewed during a routine investigation that leads to the unravelling of his life. John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly and Bruce Greenwood round out the cast. Robert Zemeckis is directing with production set to begin later this month in Atlanta. Tunie made her feature directorial debut in the indie romantic comedy “See You in September,” starring Estella Warren and Justin Kirk (“Weeds”).  She currently starts as medical examiner Melinda Warner on the NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

::TV NEWS::     

A Rosie Vision Revealed For Return To TV

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Oct 09, 2011) Four years after she left The View in a controversial exit and nearly a decade after she ended her successful daytime talk show, Rosie O’Donnell returns to the small screen with The Rosie Show, debuting Monday at 7 p.m. on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network).

The 49-year-old actress and comedian talked to the media about the program last week. Here’s an edited version of the Q&A.

What are you most excited about starting a new show and how is it working with the Oprah?

Well, the Oprah is sort of magical and I was very overwhelmed at just being in her presence . . . I think she doesn’t quite get the effect that she’s had on most of the country, if not the entire world . . . You make a lot more money on network TV than you do on cable, but to me it wasn’t ever about the money. No part of my career was ever about money. It was always about trying to do the best job in the best place that would be most congruent with my life and my values.

And that’s definitely where I ended up, largely because 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. And a large part of my career and my success is because of watching her and learning from her, so to be here now with her is beyond a dream come true.

You talked about Adele and Russell Brand as being your ideal first guest, and I wondered if you could (give) us a hint on who you’re trying to wrangle or have wrangled for your show.

We have Russell for the first day. On Monday, he’ll be here, and that was a thrill for me . . . Adele we are hoping to get. She just cancelled her North American tour. She has throat issues. But as soon as she’s up and healthy, she’ll be here and that’s thrilling for me. I’d love to have Melissa McCarthy on. I could not believe how funny she was on (Saturday Night Live). Literally, like honestly, had to wear a Depends undergarment watching that show . . . There are so many new young talents that I think are astounding. Emma Stone is one of them, a brilliant young actress . . . Ryan Gosling I think is an amazing actor. (I’m) really interested in what he has to say and who he is.

We were curious here about what to expect with the show. Are you going to talk to the audience?

I’m going to do about 10 minutes of stand-up. I’m going to take questions from the audience like Carol Burnett did. We’re going to go to commercial, come back and have a guest probably for three full segments. One thing I really didn’t like about my old show and about the trend that’s happening on talk shows today is the guests get like five minutes, six minutes, and you can’t really get a conversation going in that amount of time . . . 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.

There’s such a great video on Rosie.com of Oprah giving you pointers on how to announce a guest and we were wondering if Oprah gave you any real advice about starting up your show.

She said, “Be yourself and don’t resist anything.” That’s all she told me. She’s been unbelievably supportive. The fact that she asked me to do it was the biggest vote of confidence that I could ever have received in my life.

Reed Between the Lines’ Watch Sneak Peek

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Oct 10, 2011) *Black Entertainment Network will certainly have a hit on their hands with their new scripted family sitcom, “Reed Between the Lines.”

The series follows Carla, a psychologist (played by Tracee Ellis Ross, “Girlfriends”) and Alex Reed, an English professor (played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, “The Cosby Show) as they struggle to balance family, careers and the foibles of everyday living. And, of course, there will be fun, wit and jokes along the way.

“I hope the audience identifies with Carla,” said Ross.  “I hope I can represent working women who are faced every day with the tasks of juggling both work and family.”

“We’re excited about the series,” added Warner.  “It’s about an African American family, but we’re trying to create a universality that a diverse audience can relate to.”

Warner felt that the show is reminiscent of another television family—the Huxtables, in which he played Theo Huxtable, Cliff’s (Bill Cosby’s) son. “I hope our show has a fracture of the significance and social impact about it that the ‘Cosby’ show had,’ he said.

“It’s been a labour of love for us,” said Loretha Jones, head of programming for BET.  “We wanted to bring a modern black family show to television and they’ve brought their heart and talent to the show. We’ve already done 26 episodes of the show, which is unprecedented.”

The series follows the blended family as Carla and Alex juggle three kids (Carla has twins from a previous marriage and she and Alex have a child) as well as the antics of two zany co-workers played by Anna Maria Horsford and Melissa DeSousa.

In the first episode, Carla is treating Dominique, a female patient (played by Robin Givens) who is battling sex addiction. But Carla becomes increasingly concerned as Dominique takes more than a passing interest in Alex. Will there be drama between Carla and Dominique? Tune into “Reed Between the Lines” to find out.

Reed Between the Lines debuts Tuesday, Oct. 11 on BET at 10 p.m.

Show’s Cancellation A Canadian Why’d They Do It?

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Oct 07, 2011) TV sleuth William Murdoch has had his share of tough cases to crack. The biggest mystery of all, however, may be The Strange Case of the Cancellation of Murdoch Mysteries.

Citytv announced last week that the coming season of the period detective drama, currently in production in Toronto and starring Yannick Bisson as the 1890s sleuth, would be the fifth and final season.

Now, it doesn’t take a detective to know that TV shows come and go all the time. But there is nothing “elementary” about the demise of City’s only scripted Canadian-made series.

For one thing, it is a success, exported to countries around the world. For another, it has never been more popular, especially here in Canada.

The season just ended brought higher ratings than ever before. An appearance by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in July (as a uniformed desk sergeant) drew 700,000 viewers, a record for the series. Murdoch averaged more than a half million viewers for its fourth season. On a network with fewer stations across Canada than competitors CTV, Global or CBC, Murdoch’s numbers and consistent fan following are impressive.

What’s more, Rogers-owned City reran the drama like crazy all summer, airing it as much as five or six times a week in August. The import-heavy network went all Murdoch all summer in a naked attempt to satisfy Canadian content requirements before the end of the television year. Surprisingly, viewers did not burn out on the show. Even in reruns, it was pulling 200,000 and 300,000 viewers plus, adding up to a cumulative audience of well over a million viewers a week.

TV networks do not normally cancel shows that are growing. CBS went to incredible lengths this past year to keep Two and a Half Men on its schedule despite the public meltdown of its main star and the poisonous feud with the creator of the series. Ashton Kutcher was hired and, so far, CBS has been rewarded with higher ratings than ever.

So why did City decide now it would be five seasons and out for Murdoch? As any detective would ask, what’s the motive? Claire Freeland, 12 weeks into her job as director of original programming and development with Rogers Media Television, told the Star that, “from our perspective, it’s really just part of the natural cycle of television.” Freeland hopes the show does even better when it returns in June of 2012, but “we’re looking for the next show that’s going to run five successful years.”

Which leads to theory No. 1 as to Murdoch’s demise: the series was doomed because it was developed under former City owners CHUM. The new programming executives at Rogers — like every other new management team in almost any business — wants to put their stamp on their content. Every show on TV has to have a champion at the network to survive and Murdoch’s original champions have all moved on.

Still, even in television, nobody cleans house for the sake of cleaning house. Why not keep your one domestic scripted hit while developing the next?

Theory No. 2: Freeland suggests the reason is budgetary. “We do have a limited amount of dollars,” she says. “Truthfully, as much as I would like to do many, many shows all at the same time, we can’t necessarily afford to do that.”

“Many, many” is one thing, but should Canadians not expect more than one or two domestic shows at any one time on a private Canadian network schedule? Rogers’ next big domestic launch doesn’t come until March when the reality show Canada’s Got Talent begins airing. Freeland says she has no new domestic comedies or dramas to announce at this time.

Theory No. 3: Murdoch was killed because it is not a comedy. The Rogers-owned network is the home of 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation and Emmy-winner Modern Family. Freeland would like to launch a new Canadian comedy behind one of those imported sitcoms. There’s no upside to keeping a Canadian drama “on an iceberg,” as Freeland puts it, with no flow or boost from a strong American show before it. “We’re looking to develop an original Canadian comedy that would be a nice companion for some of those great acquisitions we have.”

Thing is, Murdoch Mysteries outdraws those other American imports on City’s schedule, except for Modern Family. Lack of flow has not stopped fans from finding the show up till now.

Theory No. 4: A period drama like Murdoch Mysteries clashes with the young urban City brand. The new regime at Rogers Media Television — including two men who drove the very successful sports television scene in Canada over the last decade, Keith Pelley and Scott Moore — spent big to acquire buzz shows Terra Nova, 2 Broke Girls and New Girl at the most recent Hollywood show market. They’re looking for content that connects with younger viewers in Canada’s largest urban centres. Murdoch just doesn’t score with the sports boys’ overall game plan.

Still, executive producer Peter Mitchell was in the process of bringing a new edge to the series in Season 5, adding, among other things, a young new love interest for the detective and opening the season with a gold rush storyline shot on location in The Yukon.

The producers also argue the show has more in common with CSI than Sherlock Holmes given Murdoch’s forensic science tendencies. “It is a shame to say goodbye to a series when we had so many stories we were itching to tell,” says Mitchell, a veteran Canadian showrunner. “This year’s episodes are some of our most ambitious to date.”

Theory No. 5: Rogers’ recent U.S. cable deal to launch FX Canada further distanced Murdoch from the Rogers brand. FX is the home of dark, sophisticated dramas and edgy comedies such as Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Rescue Me and Louie. Murdoch, by comparison, is, well, a nice Canadian show.

Moore and Freeland both see the new FX partnership as an eventual path to Canadian content that can be sold on both sides of the border. The trouble is, given the usual cautious “speed to market,” it will likely be two years or more before a Canadian show gets an FX Canada launch.

Which brings up Theory No. 6: being a successful Canadian show is not enough to gain or keep a Canadian network berth anymore. The Flashpoint factor has changed the business model. Canadian programmers seek shows that share production costs with an American or other foreign broadcaster (such as CBC’s Camelot or CTV’s The Borgias). If they can be simulcast with an American broadcaster, the way Global did this summer with ABC co-productions Rookie Blue and Combat Hospital, so much the better.

Christina Jennings, whose Shaftesbury Films produces Murdoch, says she’s confident her partners at ITV in The U.K. would be on board if the series was extended into a sixth season. The show also sells in several other counties. What she lacks — and what City and other Canadian networks now covet — is a big U.S. deal.

Jennings, who also produces The Listener for CTV, was careful to say all the things a producer who only has a limited number of broadcast doors to knock on has to say when their show is cancelled. She was genuinely grateful for the seven-year association with City. It was the network, after all, who first suggested Jennings’ earlier TV movies about the late-19th century Canadian detective might make a nice series.

But did she expect it to end this abruptly? No. Were there plenty of stories to tell? Yes.

As for the actor who plays Murdoch, Yannick Bisson is nowhere near ready to hang up his well-tailored Victorian suits and hats. “It’s frustrating,” says Bisson, a Montreal native who has made a steady living on such series as Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye and Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy. “Each day, I show up to work with all these incredible people who give way more than is asked of them and that’s reflected in the quality of the show. To see such a great show — my favourite in all my years in this industry — end is very sad. And we’ll see what happens next.”

Could the series have a future beyond City? Jennings would love to see it continue, as would Mitchell, Bisson and thousands of fans. Which brings us to Theory No. 7: Murdoch Mysteries is the right show on the wrong network. It would look right at home Sundays on CBC behind family-friendly Heartland. CBC can’t get anybody to sample their smart new urban comedy Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, which has Wednesdays at 9:30 after Modern Family on City written all over it.

In hockey, they would call such a trade a win-win. In Canadian television, where Canadian stories seem doomed to summer runs, it is more likely case closed.

Canadian content
Number of Canadian shows to American or other imported shows currently on private network weekly prime-time fall schedules (8 to 11 p.m.):
City
American:
22
Canadian: 4 (1 scripted, Murdoch Mysteries; 3 reality shows, Beyond Survival, Mantracker and Dussault, Inc.)
CTV
American:
19
Canadian: 1 (Flashpoint)
CTV Two
American:
15
Canadian: 2 (Sanctuary, cancelled drama The Bridge)
Global
American:
20
Canadian: 0

The Simpsons Actor Offers To Take 70 Per Cent Pay Cut To Save Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Oct 08, 2011) One of the stars of The Simpsons who offered to take a 70 per cent pay cut had his offer rejected.

Harry Shearer — who voices several major characters including Mr. Burns, his assistant Smithers, and Ned Flanders — made the offer to studio 20th Century Fox Television but said the proposal was hinged on he and his castmates receiving a cut of the revenue the show makes from international sales and merchandise.

However, the studio, which is expected to make a decision soon on whether to continue producing the show, declined the offer, despite originally asking the cast to take a 45 per cent cut.

Shearer revealed in a statement: “To make it as easy as possible for Fox to keep new episodes of The Simpsons coming, I’m willing to let them cut my salary not just 45 per cent but more than 70 per cent — down to half of what they said they would be willing to pay us. All I would ask in return is that I be allowed a small share of the eventual profits.

“There were, the Fox people said, simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show’s success.”

Shearer acknowledged he is well-paid and does not expect sympathy and said he is still hopeful an agreement can be made that results in the continuation of the animated comedy series.

He added: “As a member of The Simpsons cast for 23 years, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve had a great run and no one should feel sorry for any of us.

“But given how much joy the show has given so many people over the years — and given how many billions of dollars in profits News Corp. has earned and will earn from it — I find it hard to believe that this is Fox’s final word on the subject.

“At least I certainly hope it isn’t, because the alternative is to cancel the show or fire me for having the gall to try to save the show by helping Fox with its new business model. Neither would be a fair result, either to those of us who have committed so many years to the show or to its loyal fans who make our effort worthwhile.”

::THEATRE NEWS::

Canadian Choreographer Peter Quanz To Debut Creations At Bolshoi, Montreal

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Andrew Chung

(Oct 07, 2011) MONTREAL—Just a few months ago, Peter Quanz and his dancers were staying at a Siberian kids camp suffering through food rations at the tail end of winter as a base for a bus tour of the remote Russian road.

On Tuesday, his stage creations will be presented at one of the most important theatres in the world — the Bolshoi, in Moscow.

It will be the first time a full evening there will be devoted to the Canadian choreographer's work.

But he will not be among the Russian Federation's artistic and political elite that sure-to-be storied night. He will be in Montreal, putting the final touches on what will be his first full-evening production for a major ballet in Canada, Rodin/Claudel.

“I have two lifelong dream projects happening within two days of each
other,” he says with a resigned smile. “It's a Champagne problem to have.”

Quanz is a figure in dance whose global star is rising, all of a sudden, very quickly. It's all the more remarkable given his age — he's just 32 — and his roots: a tiny Mennonite village in southwestern Ontario.

Yet his delicate courtesy, his evident concern for others' opinions and feelings — not typical traits of choreographer — are as much a product of his rural upbringing as they are “Canadian.”

His list of accomplishments is already long.

The legendary Russian Kirov Ballet, the

Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Hong Kong Ballet,

the National Ballet of Canada — yet his voice is soft and absent of pretence. Quanz talks repeatedly of gathering advice from those around him, letting his dancers have a say.

Indeed, this week at the studios of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, where he's rehearsing a neoclassical work based on the tortured love affair between sculptors Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, the dancers didn't hesitate to tell him what they thought was working and what wasn't.

They likewise accepted his corrections with respect.

He readily admits his own weaknesses — like the fact that he himself can't dance like the performers he's guiding.

You've had so much success, he's asked. Are you pretending not to be arrogant?

“When I have been more arrogant or more insecure about who I am, that created a disconnect between my work and the dancers and the audience,” he explains.

He has a quiet nature.

“When you meet Peter,” says Pankov Gradimir, Les Grands Ballets' artistic director, “you feel there is some lost person there. But when he's in front of others, he's a strong personality.”

If there is an element of Billy Elliott in Quanz, it's that he grew up in a town “not supportive of boys dancing,” he admits.

There was the requisite teasing.

His Grade 4 teacher, Deborah Gibson, recounts how, in a class talent show, Quanz performed an interpretive dance.

It prompted some chuckling from three boys in the class. Gibson told Quanz to take the boys and teach them the moves. “To their credit, they went,” she recalls.

Thankfully, Quanz says, his parents were supportive throughout.

They would have had little choice. He knew as a child, after seeing Brian Macdonald musicals at the Stratford Festival, that he wanted not to be a dancer, but the guy who dreamed up the dance.

He trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and was soon choreographing his own works. In 2010, he started his own dance company in Winnipeg — Q Dance.

But he doesn't live there. In fact, he doesn't live anywhere.

Just as his Rodin/Claudel is about “the cost of genius,” his lifestyle as a nomadic, workaholic, freelance choreographer has also come at a price.

“Not having a home is the biggest thing,” he says. Then there are relationships. “Who could put up with that?” he shrugs.

Three ballet pieces will be performed at the Bolshoi, as part of a celebration of the republic's culture.

Though it's a Western dance style, Quanz incorporated Buryatian music, including the throat-singing characteristic to the region.

“I'm living my dream,” he says with a shy smile. “And that's what I want.”

Hippies And Poppins And Ghouls, Oh My!

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Oct 7, 2011) This fall, as always, Toronto loves its musicals.  There’s a pretty amazing selection of shows out there with singing and dancing guaranteed to please you no matter what your taste is.

Chess, that once-in-a-lifetime mating of Tim Rice and ABBA, is still playing in Craig Revel Horwood’s supersized production at the Princess of Wales Theatre from now through Oct. 30.

This production succeeds where many others have failed, so it’s certainly worth a visit for its inspired theatricality and brilliant use of actor/musicians, whether you’ve always loved the album, or even if you’ve never even heard it (300 King St. W.; 416-872-1212).

Seussical is the attempt to put the genius of Dr. Seuss into a song and dance framework. Young People’s Theatre tackled it a few years ago with great popularity, so it’s back again for the holidays from Nov. 7-Dec. 30.

A lovely cast will include Toronto’s husband-wife musical theatre duo, George Masswohl and Sharron Matthews, which on its own would merit a look (165 Front St. E.; 416-862-2222).

Yes, it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! I’m talking about the touring production of Mary Poppins which will fly into the POW on Nov. 10.

I saw it earlier this year in Buffalo and it’s magical — not just for the staging, but also because of the largely Canadian cast, including such favourites as Blythe Wilson, Nicolas Dromard, Laird Mackintosh, Mark Harapiak and Janet MacEwen. If you’ve been saving your theatre pennies, this is the one to spend them on (300 King St. W.; 416-872-1212).

Come on, snap your fingers in unison and hum along with the theme to The Addams Family (Nov. 16-27 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts). Yes, the familiar tune is interpolated into the opening number of this Broadway tuner based on the classic comic, TV series and movies.

The tour has just launched and there have been really strong reviews for this spruced-up version and its talented cast (Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger head the bill). Tap into your inner Gomez and Morticia, then get your tickets (5040 Yonge St.; 416-644-3665).

The holiday season may mean chestnuts roasting on an open fire to some, but I prefer the comedy chestnuts that Ross Petty serves up sizzling every season in his annual musical romp. This year, the Elgin theatre will rock with laughter from Nov. 25-Jan. 6 as Petty and his all-star crew deconstruct The Wizard of Oz.

Of course, the demonic Petty is the Wicked Witch of the West and Toronto’s favourite ingénue, Elicia MacKenzie, is Dorothy. Did you need to know more? I didn’t think so (189 Yonge St.; 416-872-5555).

Want a burst of song and dance energy more accomplished than anything you’ll find at your holiday parties? Then head up to the TCA for Dec. 6-24 for Memphis. This good-spirited show won the 2010 Tony for Best Musical and Aubrey Dan was one of the proud producers.

No wonder he’s happy to bring the touring production here and you’ll be happy, too, after you see this saga of the birth of rock ’n’ roll in the 1950s (5040 Yonge St.; 416-644-3665).

But if you like your pop music from a little further along in history, then head down to Royal Alexandra Theatre from Dec. 13-31, when the touring company of Hair will be paying a visit.

Diane Paulus’s canny Broadway revival has been adapted neatly for the road and all the songs you loved, like “Aquarius” and “Let the Sunshine In,” are still there for you to clap along with. Leave the joints at the door, though (260 King St. W.; 416-872-1212).

But to wind things up, let’s hit the hardest rock sounds yet, with Green Day and the hit musical made from their iconic album, American Idiot. It launches its national tour here in Toronto, at the TCA, with a run from Dec. 28 through Jan. 6.

The staging is truly amazing, the music will blow you away and local favourite Jake Epstein is the lone Canadian in the cast. Show up to wish him a happy New Year (5040 Yonge St.; 416-644-3665).

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Famous Canadians To Help Judge Google Space Contest

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press

(Oct 11, 2011) TORONTO— Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte and astronaut Chris Hadfield are among the Canadian judges for YouTube Space Lab, a Google-run contest that's encouraging young students to dream up experiments to be performed in space.

Students in two age groups, 14 to 16 and 17 to 18, will compete for a number of prizes, including a chance to undergo real astronaut training in Star City, Russia, where Russian cosmonauts are schooled.

And the two winning experiments will be conducted about 400 kilometres above Earth aboard the International Space Station and streamed live on YouTube.

Students, either alone or in groups of up to three, are being tasked with creating a two-minute video that explains their hypothesis and experiment.

A number of regional finalists will be flown to Washington, D.C. in March 2012 and will get to experience a ZERO-G flight simulating a weightless environment.

The winners in each age group also get to choose either astronaut training or a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan to watch their experiment leave Earth on a rocket bound for the ISS.

Laliberte became the first Canadian space tourist in 2009, paying US$35 million for the experience. Hadfield, who was the first Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk, is scheduled to travel to the ISS next year in a capsule atop a Soyuz rocket.

Other judges include British scientist Stephen Hawking.

Applications are being accepted through Dec. 7.

Q&A: What happens to Apple after Jobs?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Oct 6, 2011) Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.’s AAPL-Q co-founder and former CEO who died Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, created a series of seminal electronics products, reinvented several industries, and built Apple into a $350-billion (U.S.) juggernaut.

Widely hailed as one of the greatest CEO’s in history, Mr. Jobs handed the reins over to long-time operations chief Tim Cook in August, and many analysts believe the company is well-positioned for the future. But his death still leaves many questions.

Q: Can Apple succeed without Mr. Jobs?

Mr. Jobs was famous – some say notorious – for keeping an iron grip on every step of the product development process, from conception to execution. The Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad all shine with his distinct design sensibility. Still, investors and consumers alike had grown accustomed in the past year to the idea of Apple without its visionary leader. Since January 2011, when Jobs went on his third medical and Cook again took over, most observers expected that Jobs would not return to full-time, active duty. Yet investors and customers remained confident in the company.

Apple has plenty of new products in the pipeline, and there should be few bumps in the short term. But it’s not clear if Mr. Jobs’s brilliance – both as a product visionary and a super-salesman – was ultimately transferable. The lukewarm reaction to Cook’s first big product introduction on Tuesday could be seen as a warning sign.

Q: What will happen to Apple’s share price?

Mr. Jobs’s health had been an issue with investors for years (he was diagnosed in 2004), but that has not stopped Apple shares from marching higher. The stock moved little when Jobs announced in August that he was stepping down as CEO, and it moved little in after-hours trading after the announcement of his death Wednesday.

The biggest factors affecting the stock currently are the reliability of its iPhone and iPad product pipeline, and how well the company wards off smart phone challenger Google Inc. and burgeoning rival Amazon.com Inc.

Q: What is Mr. Jobs’s legacy?

Mr. Jobs is counted among the greatest CEOs in history, mentioned in the same breath as Henry Ford and other historical giants of corporate America. One of his most unique achievements was vaulting Apple to world leadership not just once, but twice. After co-founding the company with Steve Wozniak in 1976 and giving the world the Apple II and the Macintosh, he was famously pushed out in a clash with his hand-picked CEO, John Sculley. When Jobs returned in 1997 the floundering company’s survival was in doubt, but he proceeded to radically transform an aging computer-maker and take it in a new, and wildly successful, direction. There are few examples in any field of such a brilliant second act.

Along the way, Mr. Jobs in 1986 also bought Pixar, which was then little more than an experiment in digital animation technology. The company ultimately became a juggernaut of its own, and when it was acquired by Disney in 2006, Jobs became the largest shareholder of the entertainment giant. Again, there are few examples of a CEO turning a side project into a world-class innovator and business success story.

Mr. Jobs’s few critics say the Macintosh was mostly borrowed technology, and beyond that all Apple gave the world was a sleek cellphone and an improved music-player. But many people – in the tech world and beyond – believe his impact on society and culture was monumental. He prompted millions to embrace digital technology, online media and mobile communications in ways they never did before.

Q: Will Apple change under Mr. Cook?

While both Mr. Cook and Mr. Jobs have earned reputations as hard-driving perfectionists, Mr. Jobs’ successor is considered easier to work with. While Mr. Jobs was infamous for chewing out employees – multiple stories have him firing workers in the elevator – Mr. Cook is said to be better at forging consensus.

Whether and how Apple will transform under his stewardship is an open question. But Mr. Cook’s success at Apple is due in large part to his sharing many of his boss’s traits: a demand for perfection, an exhaustive attention to detail, and a hard-nosed attitude at the negotiating table.

In Mr. Cook’s early days, insiders say, his boss occasionally had to step in to get tough media-content negotiations going again. But after years of wringing concessions from Asian production partners and three stints running the empire in Mr. Jobs’ absence, Mr. Cook has a lot of credibility, and confidence in his leadership runs high.

Q: Who else is important to the company’s future success?

Design guru Jonathan Ives, marketing chief Phil Schiller, and mobile-software head Scott Forstall are three of the most important players. Mr. Schiller filled in for Mr. Jobs on several product launches, and with Mr. Cook being more low-key by nature, Mr. Schiller may gain a higher public profile.

Q: What will be Apple’s “Next Big Thing”?

There’s no shortage of speculation on what direction Mr. Cook will take Apple in, and whether Jobs had already laid the foundation for Apple’s “Next Big Thing”. For now, industry speculation centres around some sort of concerted attempt to shake up the living room, and TV. Apple has delivered results in the past by diving into fragmented, stagnating industries – notably music and telephones – and re-imagining them through technological innovation. Many experts say TV and its confusing array of options is ripe for an Apple-like “simple is beautiful” makeover.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Help On The Way For Canadian Tourism

Source:  www.thestar.com - Jim Byers

(Oct 07, 2011) It’s nice to see Ottawa finally paying some attention to tourism in this country. But I can’t quite tell what exactly they’re doing.

Minister of State for Tourism Maxime Bernier today unveiled what’s being called the “Federal Tourism Strategy.”

“The strategy is based on a collaborative approach, coordinating tourism-related efforts of some 15 departments and agencies,” officials said in a press release. “It provides the scope and direction that allows the government to play a more collaborative role with the industry as tourism owners and operators position themselves to take advantage of the rapid expansion in the global marketplace.

“The strategy outlines the steps that the government is taking to implement this approach, including establishing new mechanisms to integrate tourism policy and program development across departments, formalizing industry engagement, maintaining a new tourism website and reporting annually on progress under the strategy.”

Tourism industry types were quick to heap praise on Bernier (never a bad idea, when you think about it).

The Federal Tourism Strategy is a strong commitment on the part of the government to promoting the growth of the travel and tourism sector, said the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).

“This whole-of-government approach to tourism will provide a new direction for the federal government to work with the industry to help spur tourism growth and create jobs,” said David Goldstein, President and CEO of TIAC. “The Strategy demonstrates that the tourism sector is a priority economic sector for this government.”

Canada’s four largest airlines welcomed the news.

“I was pleased to note that the Federal Tourism Strategy recognizes the importance of tourism to the national economy,” said NACC (National Airlines Council of Canada) President George Petsikas. “When the tourism industry succeeds, we all succeed.”

I see a lot of talk about coordination, which is good. But I don’t see any mention of dollars.

One part of the government’s press release says there are nearly 30 initiatives, including

- Increasing awareness of Canada as a premier tourist destination;

- Facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers while protecting the safety and integrity of Canada’s borders;

- Encouraging product development and investments in Canadian tourism assets and products; and

- Fostering an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor experiences through quality service and hospitality.

There’s talk about celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede next year, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup.

“It’s not a touchdown but it’s a game-changing first down,” Goldstein told the Star. “It’s not that there’s an anti-tourism

lobby in Canada but we’ve suffered from benign neglect. Too many groups make decisions without consultation.”

Goldstein said round-tables have been effective in helping the agriculture industry in Canada and that the approach should help

tourism. It’s also a huge boost to have the Prime Minister standing behind the initiative.

Although no money is mentioned that I can see, Goldstein pointed out that some moves undoubtedly will have a cash component.

He also said he’s pleased to see there’s talk of providing relief from HST and GST for groups that bring in conventions.

The feds, to their credit, give tourism a pretty serious nod in their press release today.

“In 2010, tourism was responsible for $73.4 billion in revenues and represented approximately two percent of Canada’s overall gross domestic product (GDP),” they said. “That’s as much as the combined GDP of the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.

“Approximately 594,500 jobs in Canada are directly generated by tourism in every province and region of the country. Moreover, the visitor economy drives key service industries, including accommodations, food and beverage, passenger transportation, recreation and entertainment, which account for over 9 percent of total employment in Canada. Many of these jobs are in the North, Aboriginal communities and rural areas.”

High Style in Barbados

Source:  www.thestar.com - Nancy Wigston

(Oct 07, 2011) PAYNES BAY, BARBADOS—“People don’t come to the Caribbean for culture and history. They go to Europe for culture and history,” declares the diminutive blonde from New York.

Huh? Don’t get me started. We’re sipping champagne, after all, on the terrace of a boutique sensation of a hotel called The House. “Lady,” I want to say. “Look around.”

Our boutique hostelry is a miracle of charm: its bridge and moat lead to stunning beach and ocean views. Roving hotel “ambassadors” cater to our every need. The statue of Admiral Nelson in the Bajan capital, Bridgetown, predates the Nelson Column in London’s Trafalgar Square; Barbados’ parliament is the second oldest in our hemisphere. Rum, they say, was invented here in 1640. Not to mention the grapefruit.

For those folks who’d like a side of history and culture served along
with beaches and bone-baking sunshine, Barbados is your island. For starters, you’ll find a British-style National Trust, where highlights include a small gem of a museum, several magnificent 17th and 18th century plantation houses, an old sugar mill and a coral pink synagogue, the oldest in the western hemisphere.

When I told a friend who used to live in Barbados I was going to be there for Holders Performing Arts Festival (late March-early April), he sighed nostalgically. “We used to take our picnic dinners and eat pâté and baguettes and drink wine under the trees.” If you think that classical music, jazz and Shakespeare are absent from the Caribbean, don’t tell the Holders folks. They sell out their high-end stage performances year after year.

Holders lasts two weeks and offers a cultural cornucopia. Luciano Pavrotti and the London Philharmonic have graced the Holders stage; a Caribbean adaptation of The Tempest was greeted with much acclaim. Within easy distance of The House—in St. James Parish—Holders occupies the grounds of a three-hundred-year old stately home. Chairs are arranged on a slope that forms an outdoor auditorium; enormous trees frame the scene, spotlighted in green and red.

Nights are warm; kids sit with their feet in the swimming pool. Programs vary from year to year and night to night, and typically feature local artists performing crowd-pleasers from Glenn Miller tunes to R ‘n B. Depending on the program, a London theatre critic discusses the Hollywood star system; a classical pianist plays Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin; a Madagascan musician thrills audiences; and anything from Shakespeare to Bing Crosby tributes please the crowds.

On Gala Night at my last Holders—folks were dressed in their best—we sat on chairs arranged on a slope facing what seemed like nature’s amphitheatre. Stars were announced by a man with a National Public Radio voice. Among tourists sat regulars with their coolers and picnic baskets; piping choruses of tree frogs complemented the acts. By pure serendipity, I ran into an old friend from Ireland, a theatre critic; at Holders this seemed quite normal. At intermission, my Irish friend and I catch up on our news, joining a queue for lattes and gelato behind four chic and delightful vacationing Italians. The moon rose in a starry sky.

As if Holders doesn’t offer sufficient cultural magic (I’m still talking to New York Lady in my head), try the free walks offered by the Barbados National Trust. As tourists and Bajans have become fond of eco-tourism, NT walks have become sought-after experiences. The best ones happen under a full moon.

On moonlit nights, groups of 60-odd locals and tourists—from age seven to seventy—gather at a meeting point that varies each month. The Trust routine goes like this: We walk through villages past giggling children. Then we pause, while our guide points out the native plants that fed islanders during the war when imports ceased: cassava, breadfruit, bananas, pigeon peas, guinea corn, and sugar cane. The sky darkens, but the rising moon provides light; old NT hands bring flashlights to light the way.

Entering the gully called Welchman Hall we happen on the birthplace of the grapefruit. Wales native William Asygell Williams wedded the sweet orange to the shaddock to produce a hybrid. Breathing nutmeg-scented air, we hear about old plant remedies for malaria, about the chemical in nutmeg that stops bleeding, about Brazil palm nuts, about edible hearts of palm growing high in the forest. All the while birds and bats sing and swoop over our heads, while green monkeys call to each other.

Kind hands help newcomers over crumbling walls, holding back tree branches; friendly Bajans chat and share their stories. A retired civil servant tells me he worked in London for thirty years, and has come home to rediscover the island he left behind. Three hours later, juice and fresh desserts await us in the parking lot. My new friends make sure I get a ride back to The House. Calls of “Bye Nancy” follow me down the hill. There’s much to discover, much to learn in Barbados. Hey, and the beaches are pretty great too.

JUST THE FACTS

ARRIVING: Air Canada ( www.aircanada.com) offers direct flights from Toronto to Bridgetown’s Grantley Adams International Airport; West Jet ( www.westjet.ca) offers seasonal (November-May) flights.

SLEEPING: The House, Paynes Bay, St James Parish, ( www.thehousebarbados.com) is a five-star adults-only boutique establishment on the splendid west coast; amenities include champagne breakfasts, afternoon teas, evening canapés, welcoming jet-lag massage, free water sports and airport pick-up (It’s a 40-minute drive from the airport, 30 minutes from Bridgetown). High season (winter) rates for two start around $735 per night.

At the island’s southern end you’ll find Peach and Quiet, Inch Marlow, Christ Church ( www.peachandquiet.com) a charming, well-named establishment, offering excellent value: 5kms for the airport, meals available on site; tropical gardens all around; a rock pool for snorkelling with the fishes—sandy beaches nearby. Open November 8 till 3rd week of April; winter rates about $130 per night for two plus VAT. No children.

DINING: For ocean views, seafood, fish and memorable desserts, The Cliff and The Tides are excellent St James choices; for spicy down-home Bajan cuisine, line up with locals at the lunch vans like the one near the Sandy Lane Golf Course. At Peach and Quiet, try on-site BBQs with local music; the eating and drinking scene in lively St Lawrence Gap is 15 minutes away by bus or car.

ENTERTAINMENT For Holder’s 2012 season, go to www.holders.net. The festival begins in the third week of March and ends in early April; tickets range between $50 and $150 BDD (about $25-$75 Canadian). For National Trust Walks and other NT offerings, go to www.thebarbadosnationaltrust.com. For everything else Barbados: www.visitbarbados.org.

www.visitbarbados.org; www.thehouse-barbados.com; www.holders.net; www.nationaltrustbarbados.com

Nancy Wigston is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her trip was subsidized by the Barbados Tourist Authority.

::SPORTS NEWS::

72,429 Yards And Counting For Anthony Calvillo

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Sean Gordon

(Oct 11, 2011) Some words can reliably provoke an argument - the adjective "best" is among them.

Spark a debate about the finest quarterback ever to tread on a Canadian gridiron, and camps quickly form around the usual suspects: Ron Lancaster, Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Damon Allen.

Boosters of the Montreal Alouettes'
Anthony Calvillo, however, now have the weight of statistics and the record book on their side.

Having already set the CFL mark for touchdown passes and total completions earlier this season, Calvillo established the professional football record for passing yards on his 32nd throw of a Thanksgiving Day tilt with the Toronto Argonauts.

"He's passed everybody, he's the best of the best," summarized Als running back Brandon Whitaker, who admittedly has a conflict of interest.

The fateful pass came on the last play of the third quarter, and was marked by scoreboard tributes from quarterbacking greats Dan Marino, Moon, and Allen, who was on hand to see his mark of 72,381 yards eclipsed.

Calvillo said that of all the records he has set, this one took the greatest mental and emotional toll.

"Thinking of the moment, leading up to the game, I was just getting very emotional and I think it put a strain on me. As much as I talked about how I was just going to be concerned with the game, I was glad it was over with," he said afterward. "The montage they had up there with the five ex-quarterbacks, that was pretty special. My family was with me, my mom, I was trying to absorb it as much as I could and then get back to the game."

Ah yes, the game. More than a record-setting throw, the pass staked Montreal to a 29-19 lead it wouldn't relinquish. The loss officially eliminated the Argos (3-11) from the playoffs and clinched a postseason berth for the first-place Als (9-5).

But the overarching narrative is about the kid from East L.A. who wasn't even supposed to be good enough for big-time NCAA ball and started his pro career with the now-defunct Las Vegas Posse - who memorably held their training camp in a parking lot.

It's not an outcome Calvillo ever dared imagine, but as he said, "things just seem to fall into place for me."

Like Moon and Allen before him, Calvillo smashed the mark in style by connecting on a touchdown pass, a beautiful 50-yard catch-and-run to Jamel Richardson.

The CFL's most dangerous receiver turned what should have been a routine check-down into an entry in the history books when he swatted away a would-be tackler as though he were an impertinent mosquito and cantered into the end zone.

Not that Richardson grasped the importance of the occasion, throwing the ball into the stands.

"The whole game just paused, that's when I knew I had messed up," Richardson said.

The most precious object at Percival Molson Stadium, it should be noted, was quickly recovered.

Another quirky sub-plot to Calvillo's day was the curious disappearance for more than a quarter of the scoreboard ticker counting down to the record.

Coach Marc Trestman later admitted it was his doing, but wouldn't elaborate on why.

No matter, the Als have now won three in a row and erased a halftime disadvantage for the first time in five tries this season.

The history books will surely gloss over the trouble the Argos defence gave Calvillo in attaining the mark - this was a nip-and-tuck game for most of three quarters.

Calvillo ended the game 26-of-38 for 305 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception, he also tallied the go-ahead score on an Allen-esque scramble.

From Trestman's perspective, Calvillo's place in the 'best-ever' discussion is legitimate.

"He's as good as any of the great quarterbacks I've ever had the pleasure of working with," said Trestman, who coached NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young.

True, Allen's rushing prowess - like Flutie's - is a dimension Calvillo lacks.

And yes, Moon won more Grey Cups - he won five in a row - as did Allen.

But Calvillo has led his team to more championship games than any of his predecessors, and his ability to rip defences apart through the air is peerless in CFL annals.

Allen, who was on hand to present a plaque to Calvillo, ventured his own opinion on the 'best-ever' question, pointing out the answer is a function of perspective.

"He's the true essence of a pocket passer in our game. I played a different style," he said.

For Some Canadians, Pan Am Games Hold Ticket To Olympics

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

(Oct 11, 2011) Nine months before the curtain goes up on the Summer Olympics, Canada's men's field hockey team will be playing its heart out on a pitch in Mexico just for a chance to compete on sport's grandest stage.

The Pan American Games, which open Friday, are direct Olympic qualifiers for 12 different sports.

For field hockey, it's simple. Win in Mexico, go to London.

“It's massive for us,” said field hockey veteran Ken Pereira, who at 38 is part of a wave of long-serving Canadian athletes who could retire after London.

Women's soccer captain Christine Sinclair will carry Canada's flag into the opening ceremonies Friday at Omnilife Stadium, leading a team of 493 athletes — Canada's second-largest Pan Am team after the 1999 Winnipeg Games.

The Guadalajara Games are a direct Olympic qualifier, not only for field hockey, but also water polo, diving, synchronized swimming, triathlon, dressage, handball, modern pentathlon, shooting, tennis, table tennis and canoe/kayak.

Pereira and his field hockey team booked its ticket to the 2008 Beijing Games in spectacular fashion at the Pan Ams four years ago in Rio de Janeiro, beating Argentina in a shootout following overtime.

“It's so tough for Canada to qualify for the Olympics, it's always a battle to get there,” said Pereira, who's predicting Argentina to provide stiff opposition again in Mexico. “It's always really fun when you're at these tournaments and then such a big relief when you actually qualify.

“It was crazy. Quite a bit of celebrating. And not just that one night,” he added with a laugh.

Canada's women's water polo team failed to qualify for Beijing, losing gold — and a Games berth — to rival U.S. four years ago in Rio.

The Canadians took no chances this time around. At the recent world championships, Canada didn't utilize the same game strategy it will play in Mexico, for fear of divulging tactical secrets to the U.S.

While it probably cost the Canadians in their performance at the world tournament — Canada was ousted by China in the quarter-finals — Canadian coach Pat Oaten said the move was a “no-brainer” for his team.

“Obviously we would have liked to have done well (at the world championships), but the reality is, you win the world championships and you don't qualify for the Olympics, no one remembers the world championship,” Oaten said.

“I'm sure (the U.S. is) doing the exact same thing. I'm sure the U.S. is going to throw something at us, and we're going to throw something at them.

The Pan Am Games have been held every four years since 1951 in Buenos Aires. They're held in the year prior to the Olympics, and whether it's directly qualifying for the Summer Games or simply fine-tuning, London looms large over these Pan Ams.

“Our major objective is to make sure all our Olympic qualifier teams get the qualification,” said Jacques Cardyn, Canada's chef de mission. “It's win and go to the Games, or they don't win and they don't go to the Games. So it's major for us, we're putting everything in place so the ones who are competing for a berth in the Games, they can make it to the Games.”

Cardyn's assistant chef Curt Harnett calls the Pan Ams “critically valuable” to the amateur schedule, and not just for the sports battling for Olympic berths.

“There are some sports that are not Olympic sports so this is their Olympic Games, it's a critical opportunity to go out there and perform at an international level, and carry Canada's flag with pride,” said Harnett, a three-time Olympic cycling medallist. “Plus, they're critical in the athlete development life cycle. It's key for athletes who have aspirations to go to the Olympic Games to have experience like something at the Pan Am Games.”

The Pan Am Games represent the second-largest multi-sport event after the Summer Olympics. Some 6,000 athletes from 42 countries in the Americas will compete in 36 different sports, including all the Olympic sports.

Among the non-Olympic sports are baseball and softball, squash, and water-skiing. There are also a couple of sports unique to the Pan Ams such as roller-skating — both speed and artistic — and Basque pelota.

Canada traditionally finishes in the top three at the Games, taking third spot in 2007 in total medals with 138 behind the U.S. and Brazil. Swimmers led the way, bringing home 18 medals — one gold, five silver, 12 bronze — while Canadians won 12 medals in track and field — six gold, four silver, two bronze.

For Canadian women's soccer coach John Herdman, these Games won't be so much about medals as an opportunity to play crucial games and experiment with his roster prior to the team's Olympic qualifying tournament in January.

Plus, Herdman's a big believer in the multi-sport experience.

“Being with all the other athletes and being part of the bigger team, I think it's good preparation for your Olympic Games, you get a feel of team Canada,” Herdman said. “I think that's the exciting part for any player going into the Pan Ams, you get to be part of something bigger than football.”

Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city approaching 4.5 million people in the metropolitan area. It's known for tequila and mariachi — a genre of music characterized by strolling, serenading musicians, dressed in silver-studded charro suits and wide-brimmed hats.

Guadalajara was also the only official bid for the 2011 Games.

Organizers have been in a race to finish venue construction, however, the hold-up partly due to recent heavy rains. The 8,000-seat track and field stadium has been the biggest concern, with workers expected to be applying finishing touches almost until the gun goes off to start the first race.

“We haven't heard that the stadium isn't going to be finished, but we do know that there's lot of frantic work being done at the last minute,” said Athletics Canada's head coach Alex Gardiner. “But it's like that for many meets around the world, organizers are literally painting until a day or two before the opening ceremonies.”

Hurricane Jova has added some uncertainty going into the Games. Guadalajara is inland but Puerta Vallarta, host to such sports as sailing and beach volleyball, has been bracing for bad weather.

Cardyn said the best way to prepare for any multi-sport Games is to be ready for anything, and so it's not surprising, considering Cardyn is a former Olympic fencer, that the Canadian team's catch phrase for Guadalajara is “En garde!”

“It's a phrase they use just before they go into battle,” Harnett said. “So it's our theme going into Guadalajara. Be ready, be prepared. And part of the preparation is expecting the unexpected.”

The other big concern about Guadalajara is security in a country racked by drug violence. More than 35,000 people have been killed since 2006. Games organizers have pledged to make security a main priority, and say they are deploying 10,000 municipal, state and federal police at a cost of US$10 million.

Toronto will host the 2015 Games, and Toronto's organizing committee will have 25 people in Mexico to study all aspects of operation of the multi-sport event.

Winnipeg hosted the Games in both 1967 and ‘99.

Phoenix Area Awarded 2015 Super Bowl

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Oct 11, 2011) Ah, Arizona. Just the place for the Super Bowl to thaw out after a frosty foray into the New York/New Jersey area.

The Super Bowl is heading back to the desert in 2015, one year after it will be at the mercy of winter weather in the Meadowlands. The Phoenix area was awarded the 49th Super Bowl by NFL owners Tuesday, beating the only other candidate — Tampa, Fla.

It will be the third time the Phoenix area has hosted the game, which will be played in Glendale.

“We are thrilled to be back in Arizona,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “I will say it was a difficult choice.”

Phoenix won on the second ballot, prompting screams of joy from the Arizona committee.

“Everyone pulled together throughout the Phoenix area to put together a terrific package we were able to present to the owners,” Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said. “We are delighted.”

It's difficult to be critical of the choice weather-wise: average temperature in early February in Glendale is about 15 C. In East Rutherford, N.J., where the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather climate will be played in 2014, the average is a slightly chillier 31 degrees.

The NFL also set Feb. 2, 2014, as the date of the Super Bowl in New Jersey; that date will not conflict with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“It's historically warmer on Feb. 2,” Giants owner John Mara said with a smile. He didn't mention the possibility of snow, freezing rain, blustery winds and all the accompanying elements.

That will not be a factor in Arizona. The NFL has seemed eager to return to the Valley of the Sun since the Giants' upset of the then-unbeaten Patriots on Feb. 3, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Tempe, Ariz., was the 1996 host, with Dallas defeating Pittsburgh 27-17.

“This is huge for Arizona,” bid leader Mike Kennedy said. “It feels really satisfying.”

Tampa hosted the game in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.

“Both cities are great sites for the Super Bowl and both had impressive bids,” added Mara, whose team has won championships in both places. “They've each been to the altar a few times recently and were denied. They both deserve to host a game again.”

Next year's game is indoors in Indianapolis, followed by New Orleans in 2013 and then the Big (possibly frozen) Apple. There is speculation that the 50th championship game in 2016 will wind up in Los Angeles, where the first Super Bowl was played in 1967, if a suitable stadium is available.

Neither Arizona nor Tampa received the required 24 of 32 votes on the first ballot Tuesday, meaning a simple majority was needed on the next vote.

Goodell spoke with the Tampa Bay group immediately after it lost the bidding.

“Anytime we are invited to participate, we will do so,” said Paul Catoe, outgoing CEO of Tampa Bay & Co.

Bidwill said the estimated economic impact in Arizona in 2008 was more than US$500 million, and he expects it to be higher in 2015. While that number seems high because subsequent Super Bowls didn't reach that level, it's still a major boon to local business.

“The impact is in the multihundred millions of dollars, and that is significant value for any community,” said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports business consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd., and an observer of the league's business side. “The Super Bowl also provides a positive target for a community to rally around. There are all sorts of activities — business, volunteer, political — that can be pointed to when they host the Super Bowl.”

Ganis also points out that the Phoenix area has enough first-class hotels for the Super Bowl. That has been a challenge for Tampa, which has involved Orlando and Sarasota and other areas in its bids.

Later Tuesday, owners approved a resolution to play regular-season games in Britain through 2016. Teams can volunteer to play at least one regular-season home game per year in Britain for up to five years.

Tampa Bay will host Chicago on Oct. 23 in London, the fifth straight year the NFL has held an October game there. No specifics on venues, dates or teams for future games have been set.

“When the initial resolution was approved in 2006, the thinking at the time was that we would have two new teams every year,” NFL vice-president of international Chris Parsons said. “As the series evolved, we felt as though having a team return to the U.K. on a regular basis would certainly increase the fan base for that particular team, which in turn would drive fan growth for the entire league. We think there is a tremendous benefit for a team to return to the U.K. on an annual basis.”

The Buccaneers will be making their second London appearance in three years; they lost to New England 35-7 in 2009.

Several teams that struggle to sell out home games, such as the Jaguars, Raiders, Bengals and Chargers, could be in line for more frequent trips overseas.

No Setbacks, But Still No Contact For Sidney Crosby

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Alan RoBinson, The Canadian Press

(Oct 11, 2011) PITTSBURGH— For Sidney Crosby, it was another encouraging day without any setbacks.

It was also a day with no change to his status.

Crosby went through another Pittsburgh Penguins morning skate without contact Tuesday as he continues to recover from a concussion. It's exactly the same status the superstar has had since the start of training camp more than three weeks ago.

And if the Penguins were hoping the day of their home opener might bring news they have waited months to hear — that Crosby has been cleared for contact, at least during practice — they were left disappointed.

While general manager Ray Shero said Monday he anticipated that Crosby would visit his concussion specialist Tuesday — perhaps to get clearance to undergo full contact in practice — Crosby said no such visit was scheduled.

Crosby generally meets with specialist Michael (Micky) Collins at least once a week to review his status and to undergo a series of short tests. Crosby said they will get together again later this week and there was some anticipation that the meeting might be Tuesday, since Crosby and the Penguins returned Monday from a five-day road trip to Western Canada.

“I don't know who said I had an appointment today but I don't,” Crosby said. “It's the same as usual — I feel good. It went good today and I'm excited to be home.”

The Penguins might have been even more excited about playing at home for the first time in nearly six months had Crosby been cleared for contact when they practice again Wednesday.

“He's looking great on the ice and he's making great strides to get back,” said forward James Neal, who was acquired from Dallas seven months ago to play alongside Crosby but has yet to do so.

Not that all this waiting is discouraging Crosby or the Penguins, who were set to meet the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Both the player and team knew this would be an extended process as Crosby healed from a concussion that affected his vestibular system, the part of the body that controls movement and balance. Even the simple act of skating briskly required some relearning on Crosby's part, and he has spent much of this year unable to do such routine tasks as watching TV or reading a newspaper without experiencing discomfort.

But after having some concussion-related symptoms all the way up until a couple of weeks before training camp began Sept. 17, Crosby has been symptom-free since then — as encouraging a sign as he's received since he was injured during the first week of January.

Even an accidental collision with assistant coach Tony Granato during Tuesday's morning skate occurred without incident.

“It's never fun watching, but it's nice to be getting closer and it's nice being out there and going hard and I haven't had anything that's really worried me,” Crosby said. “It's been nice to have had that the last couple of weeks.”

During his summer workouts, Crosby was forced to dial down some of his workouts when concussion-related problems such as headaches and dizziness persisted.

But even after Crosby is cleared to throw and absorb hits in practice, it won't necessarily mean he is within days of returning to game action. According to his doctors, there will be various levels he must go through even during that process.

Among them will be making sure there is no reluctance, even subconsciously, on Crosby's part to fully engage in every phase of the game.

“When I come back, I've got to make sure I'm confident — if I'm thinking about that, the chances of me getting hit are probably better,” he said. “The more you hesitate, the more chance of that happening. I'll do everything I can to make sure I'm ready but, at the same time you can't simulate a guy crushing you on the open ice.”

In the meantime, the Penguins will attempt to remain competitive even without the face of the NHL. Since Crosby last played on Jan. 5, the Penguins are 25-13-6 during the regular season, including their 2-0-1 swing to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton that began the 2011-12 season.

“I think we looked pretty sharp in the way we played and that's something that usually takes a little time,” Crosby said. “I thought for the most part we were in sync. There's always things at the start of the year you have to improve on, but I think as a group we were really sharp.”

Pittsburgh was also without former Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin for its home opener against Florida, which lost all four games to the Penguins last season.

Malkin has lower body soreness that caused him to sit out the 2-1 shootout loss in Edmonton on Sunday, but coach Dan Bylsma said it is not related to his right knee injury of last season. Malkin's 2010-11 campaign ended when he tore two ligaments in his right knee during a collision with the Sabres' Tyler Myers on Feb. 4.

Malkin first experienced the latest discomfort during Pittsburgh's 5-3 victory in Calgary on Saturday night. He appeared to experience pain during the pre-game skate Sunday and was held out.

“We don't think it's long term or anything other than (him) just being sore at this point,” Bylsma said.

League Kills First Two Weeks Of NBA Season

Source:  www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(Oct 10, 2011) Coming off a memorable season of unbridled fan support and astronomical revenues, the NBA is shutting down.

In what can only be seen a huge gamble — playing with the emotions of fans grown tired of billionaire owners and multi-millionaire players squabbling over unimaginable riches — the league has cancelled at least the first two weeks of the 2011-12 regular season.

Citing an inability to come up with a new “system” and unable to even discuss a split of revenues of more than $4 billion last season, commissioner David Stern lopped off games between Nov. 1 and 14 and threatened more rapid cancellations now that talks on a new collective bargaining agreement have completely fallen apart.

“With every day that goes by, there will be further reductions on what’s left of the season,” Stern told reporters after a seven-hour bargaining session on the ritzy upper east side of Manhattan on Monday.

The league moved with alacrity to make its point.

Within minutes of Stern’s sidewalk pronouncement, an official news release went out from the league.

Within minutes of the games being cancelled, it was as if they never existed as teams’ websites made no reference to the first two weeks of the regular season.

If it was a surprise to some that Stern followed through on his threat to cancel games for the first time since 1998, league officials weren’t caught unawares.

Neither were union officials.

“We anticipated being in this situation, and here we are,” union president Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers told reporters in New York.

Stern said it wasn’t a split of the basketball-related income (BRI) — the $4.2 billion pot that fuels the astronomical salaries and untold profits of some franchises — that caused the talks to break down.

Rather, it was “system” issues like the luxury tax threshold, the so-called mid-level salary cap exception and annual salary raises that were the sticking point.

“We just can’t get over the system hurdles,” said Stern.

Even Stern admitted that if the “system” issues could be resolved the BRI split might fall easily into place. The sides are about six percentage points apart — each wants 53 per cent of the pie; the players had 57 per cent in the last CBA and Stern also warned that future offers won’t get much better because teams will have to recoup financial losses from the cancellation of games.

Cancelling games in two-week increments may seem odd at first glance but players are paid twice a month and are now assured of missing at least one payday, regardless of when a new deal is struck.

Season ticket holders with the 30 franchises will be eligible for refunds, with interest on any money they’ve given the teams.

There are no more negotiation sessions scheduled, although Stern said he expected the league and the players’ association to be in touch.

The league has already cancelled the entire exhibition season — more than 140 games — and the commonly held thought is they would need a week to ratify any new deal, at least a week to sign free agents and let teams fill rosters and then at least another week for an abbreviated training camp and one or two pre-season games, making the time crunch acute.