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

LE NEWSLETTER

September 1, 2011

 
Jack Layton's death sparked a new love and camaraderie in our country. HeJack%20Layton%20Olivia%20Chow1_small will be missed and going forward I hope that his legacy leaves us motivated to come together to make positive change in Canada. Check out one of his last conversationswith my pastor, Rev. Brent Hawkes, under SCOOP.

 
An all-star cast hits Toronto in Church Girl, starring Robin Givens, A'ngela Winbush,Demetria McKinney,Clifton Powell, and Tony Grantfor this story about a former church girl gone wayward! Its plays on Friday and Saturday so get your tickets now!  Details are under HOT EVENTS.

More news includes some shocking sports news in that
Wade Belak is foundmtv-beyonce_jpg_1313376cl-8_small1 dead in Toronto, Maestro is featured as one of our best-selling rap icons, Usain Bolt jumps the gun and the scoop on the VMAs. Check it all out under TOP STORIES

 
Also featured this week is news on an opportunity for artists with the CIRAA Groundbreaker Grant, coverage on the funeral of Nick Ashford, Reema Major, TIFF, the TV show Royal Pains, the cast of Second City, tons of sports news and much more.

Get into your entertainment news.  Don't forget that you can just click on the photo or the headline and you'll have your latest entertainment news! Want to shortcut the scrolling?  Choose your favourite topic at the index to the right!

::HOT EVENTS::

Profile Entertainment Presents CHURCH GIRL Starring Robin Givens – Sept. 2 and 3, 2011

Source:  Profile Entertainment
CHURCH%20GIRL_POSTER_Front_small

Not exactly what her mother prayed for.  What would make a church girl give up her soul to dance on the pole? 

Urban theatre enthusiasts around the world are all abuzz about the highly anticipated tour of
Church Girl.  This no holds barred musical stage play, based on a true story, was written and produced by Angela Barrow-Dunlap and directed by Reuben Yabuku. The play and all-star cast arrive in Toronto at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts (formerly The Hummingbird Centre).  Details below.

Angela Barrow-Dunlap’s new musical brings together some of the film, television and music world’s hottest stars on one stage for one unforgettable production.

Leading the cast of characters is one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses,
Robin Givens, R&B soul-singer/songwriter A'ngela Winbush; actress Demetria McKinney from the NAACP Image Award-winning television series House of Payne; actor Clifton Powell from the Friday movies, Ray and Norbit; and Tony Grant from Tyler Perry’s The Marriage Counsellor. The show also features play circuit powerhouses and theatre veterans Wanda Nero-Butler, Gia Wyre and Teisha Lott. Join this powerhouse All-Star cast for an amazing production that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and dance in the aisles.

::SCOOP::

Layton Wanted Upbeat, Musical Service: Pastor

Source:  www.thestar.com - Raveena Aulakh

(August 26, 2011) “Just in case.”

With those three words,
Jack Layton began planning his funeral withRev Rev. Brent Hawkes in early July.

“Jack was in good spirits and said, ‘I am going to fight this cancer, I am going to beat it, but we need to have plans in place, just in case,’” said Hawkes, pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church.

The two discussed arrangements over five meetings; the first, days
Jack%20Layton_small1 before Layton announced he was stepping aside as NDP leader for cancer treatment; the last, hours before he died on Sunday.

The instructions Hawkes had fervently hoped would sit in a file for years will now guide Layton’s state funeral at the Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday afternoon.

Layton’s funeral will not just be a celebration of his life but a call to others to take forward his vision of making Canada a better place, said Hawkes, adding it was will be anything but a traditional funeral. “The overall tone is: We are celebrating Jack’s life. Now get to work.”

Hawkes said Layton passed on some messages that he will only share at the funeral on Saturday. Stephen Lewis, a former Ontario NDP leader and UN ambassador, will deliver a eulogy. Lorraine Segato and Martin Deschamps, two of his favourite artists, will sing, as will the choir from Hawkes’ Metropolitan Community Church.

Layton was very clear that he didn’t want the service to be morbid, and he wanted music to play a prominent role, Hawkes said.

One message Layton wanted Hawkes to deliver is about the “passing of the torch and a call to action,” Hawkes said. “Jack felt very strongly about some issues ordinary Canadians face, and he thought we still had a lot of work to do. He wanted people to come together, to take up the responsibility of making this country better.”

While working on these details, Layton and his family didn’t know it would be a state funeral. But Hawkes said Layton always wanted it to be open to everyone. “The idea was to welcome as many people, make it as diverse as possible … he wanted it to be inclusive, not elitist.”

Hawkes spent most of Thursday afternoon at Roy Thomson Hall, checking out arrangements for the funeral.

“I hoped this day wouldn’t come … but it has, too soon,” said the pastor.

When Layton and Olivia Chow first told Hawkes in early July that they wanted him to officiate at the funeral service, the pastor was stunned. “It was really an honour, and it was very moving,” he said. “I was shocked to be asked to do this, but on the other hand, it was only natural.”

Hawkes has known Layton and his family for more than 30 years.

The two met in the early days of activism around gay rights, HIV awareness and homelessness issues. In the past few years, Hawkes said, his interaction with Layton was mostly in his pastoral role. Layton and Chow attended Christmas Eve and Pride Day services annually. (Hawkes’ congregation welcomes the LGBT community.)

Hawkes said Layton was deeply spiritual. “He once told me that for him, everyday living is an act of worship.”

The outpouring of grief after Layton’s death hasn’t surprised him. Layton struck personal connections with people, Hawkes said.

“I knew that many, many would be sad, but this kind of collective response has been stronger than I thought. Jack brought something new to the table: a sense of optimism, inspiration and hope.”

There was still hope when Hawkes met Layton and Chow last Friday evening. The NDP leader was in a reclining armchair and the three talked for a while about the funeral service. Layton looked tired but he was smiling, Hawkes said.

On Sunday, barely 48 hours later, Hawkes saw Layton for the last time. “There was a huge decline from Friday to Sunday. It was obvious that things were not going well,” he said softly.

Hawkes chatted with Chow, discussing details of the funeral, and then she asked if he wanted to see Layton alone for a bit.

It was minutes before 6 p.m.

“I went in and we had 10 minutes together,” said Hawkes.

“Jack was at peace with death. He knew he had lived a blessed life. He was at peace that he had done his best.”

::TOP STORIES::

Former Leafs Enforcer Wade Belak Found Dead In Toronto Hotel

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman

(Aug 31, 2011) Wade Belak, a hockey enforcer who was quick withWade%20Belak%201_small his fists and quicker with the quips, was found dead Wednesday in a downtown Toronto hotel room, the Nashville Predators have confirmed.

Police haven't released the cause of death. His body was discovered at the tony 1 King West hotel and condo building.

Belak is the third NHL tough guy to die since May. Vancouver’s Mark Rypien, who suffered from depression, was found dead in an apparent suicide earlier this month. In May, New York Rangers forward Derek Boogaard’s death was ruled an accidental overdose of an alcohol and oxycodone mixture.

Belak, who retired after a 16-year NHL career highlighted by his eight
Wade%20Belak_small years in Toronto, had been preparing to take part in the reality sports TV show Battle of the Blades on CBC.

He finished his NHL career with eight goals and 25 assists with 1,263 penalty minutes in 549 games.

The 35-year-old from Saskatoon knew he was in the league because of his muscle, but it didn't mean he enjoyed the work.

"On nights you knew you had to fight, there were nerves, you never slept the night before," Belak told Mark Zwolinski in an interview in March. "But you dealt with it or you didn't. You don't really get over it, you just go out and do your job."

Belak said his years in Toronto were critical to his career.

"I never thought I'd have a future in the NHL until I played in Toronto ... that's where I learned to play forward and defence," he said. "I knew my role was the enforcer type, but I learned a lot of things along the way from people like Warren Rychel. After the Cup (Avalanche in 1996), they brought him back because he was a good locker room guy. I saw these guys had some value. ... I guess people just liked having me around."

Belak was always popular among the media because of his friendly manner and an ability to provide some clever quotes on a slow news day or on pretty much any topic.

He was parlaying that into a post hockey career for himself, working on radio and as an in-game reporter for the Nashville Predators, his last team. Arthritis in his hip had made it impossible for him to continue his playing career.

Asked by Zwolinski for his favourite moment as a player, Belak responded:

"Probably my first NHL goal, and scoring my last NHL goal in Toronto, when I broke that streak (nearly four years without a goal). Fans were chanting my name on the streets."

VIDEO: Our Pop Past: Maestro

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

(Aug 31, 2011) Who was he? Try Canada’s godfather of hip hop. Born Wesley Williams,Maestro%20Fresh%20Wes_small Maestro grew up in Scarborough and became Canada’s first rapper to have a hit on the Billboard charts with his 1989 song “Let Your Backbone Slide.” Even today his debut album is still the top selling Canadian hip hop album of all time. After releasing his follow up Black Tie Affair (Maestro was known for dressing in a tuxedo and cummerbund, as if he was directing an orchestra), the rapper moved to Brooklyn hoping to launch a U.S. career where things didn’t exactly go as planned. America’s loss was Canada’s gain when Maestro launched his comeback single “Stick To Your Vision” featuring a perfect sample of the Guess Who's  “These Eyes” in 1998. After duets with both Kardinal Offishall and Lawrence Gowan, he released his last album Ever Since in 2000.

What did he sound like? More clean and conscious than the violent, experimental hip hop that was coming up at the same time, Maestro repped the T.Dot, delivering anthems that highlighted our ability to party (“416/905 T.O. Party Anthem”). While some albums including 1994’s Naaah, Dis Kid Can’t Be From Canada?!! were criticized as being too safe (the opening track of that album was literally called “I’m Drinking Milk Now”), Maestro understood how to utilize a jazzy sample and a heavy rhyme to genius effect. Unlike other Canadian rappers, he never strayed away from his national identity, exploring the contradictions involved in Canadian rap. (Threatens Maestro to the U.S. in “How Many Styles”: “Your radio stations thump me/ You shoulda never let my a** in your country/ Word to God, I’m real hard/ I’m even deadlier than Tony Montana with a green card.”) Maestro wasn’t hard but he was smart, quick and self-conscious, the perfect representative of Toronto hip hop – status anxieties included.

Any chance of a comeback? You never know. Now credited as an actor on projects such as Metropia, The Line, Instant Star and 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, Maestro has shifted his attention to acting. However in March this year, he performed at a Canadian hip-hop summit to celebrate 25 years of cultural history where he performed with Shad and k-os clad in his signature tux and tails.

Choice cuts:

VIDEO: Bolt Tripped Up By ‘Ridiculous’ False Start Rule

Source:  www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman

(August 28, 2011) Bruny Surin was still fuming 10 hours later — and he wasn’tUsain%20Bolt%20of%20Jamaica_small even in the race.

The normally placid Canadian sprint legend woke up early in his suburban Montreal home to watch the men’s 100-metre final at the world championships in Daegu, Korea. He nearly choked on his cornflakes when Jamaican superstar
Usain Bolt made an ignominious exit because he jumped the gun.

A harsher rule governing false starts — one and you’re out — was implemented at the start of last year, but hadn’t gotten much attention outside track and field circles.

Until now. Bolt’s DQ is creating a firestorm one year ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.

“On Twitter and on my Facebook, a lot of people are sending messages that they’re very pissed, very angry, because to them that rule is ridiculous,” said Surin, commentating on the championships for RDS.

“Imagine you work for the whole year, you’re in good shape and everything and you have a small hesitation and you’re out. This is not fair at all. I hate it. I hate it. To me, let’s say you have a false start; it builds more tension, more drama. To me, it’s exciting. But to see what happened to Bolt, oh man, I didn’t want to watch the final after that.”

He wasn’t alone.

The rule was changed to give TV execs a better show. They were riled by the delays caused by false starts. The irony that the new rule wound up costing them track and field’s brightest star wasn’t lost on world champion hurdler Perdita Felicien.

“I’m so worked up,” said Felicien in an interview from Korea. “I don’t like the rule. I never liked the rule. Unfortunately, it took Usain Bolt to highlight how stupid the rule is. How much more eloquent can I be? Honestly, it sucks for every athlete that gets disqualified under this new rule. It doesn’t hurt more that it’s Usain Bolt, but it kind of brings the issue to light a lot more.

“You have the biggest name, a universal name in track and field which comes along once every millennium and he false starts in a race where everyone was watching to see him win. And you don’t get to see him run. You don’t even get a chance to see him get beat actually, which sucks.”

The new rule disqualifies an athlete immediately after one false start. Previously, the field was allowed one false start and the next one by any athlete led to their elimination. Before that rule change in 2001, athletes were allowed two false starts before a disqualification.

The governing body of track and field (IAAF) was doing its usual dance in the wake of harsh criticism, issuing a release saying they were “disappointed” about the triple Olympic gold medallist getting bounced, but that the rules had to be applied evenly. The BBC later reported the rule would be discussed at an IAAF meeting Sunday.

Not everyone hates it. Olympic champion Donovan Bailey said he likes it “because it teaches discipline.”

“However, the previous rule worked better to prevent what happened (to Bolt),” Bailey said.

Surin said it bothers him that the IAAF polled the athletes, coaches and managers about the rule — and they came out strongly against it — yet they still moved ahead with it.

Felicien, who races in the first round of the women’s 100-metre hurdles Thursday, makes a compelling case for going back to the previous rule. She said the current one doesn’t take into account that athletes and the race starters are human.

“Sometimes you jump, sometimes you’re jittery, sometimes you’re shaking and you can’t penalize someone when that happens,” she said. “The other reason I hate the rule is it puts all the emphasis, all the onus on the athlete to get a precise start, whereas (with) some starters their cadence is terrible, they hold you in ‘set’ too long, they don’t wait until all the athletes are settled. There are some starters that are bad, really, really bad.”

Felicien said too much is being sacrificed at the altar of television.

“Why are you going to penalize the athletes who are on edge? There’s adrenalin racing through our bodies. It’s for a millisecond that you’re holding yourself in that set position and you’re going to sacrifice us for TV time?” she said. “I think the IAAF totally dropped the ball with this rule. A lot of people have been saying it, but I don’t think they listened to the athletes . . . Now, they do everything for TV.

“So wait, Bolt’s out and this race started on time. Are you really thrilled? Are you excited about that, IAAF? No one is.”

Blake takes 100-metre title

Yohan Blake ended Usain Bolt’s three-year monopoly on short sprint titles on Sunday when he won the world 100-metre final after the defending champion was dramatically disqualified for a false start.

World record holder and Olympic champion Bolt ripped off his vest as soon as the second gun went off to indicate the false start and was led disconsolately from the track in front of a stunned crowd at the Daegu Stadium.

However he refused to indulge in self-pity after watching his fellow Jamaican take the title. “Looking for tears?” he said. “That’s not going to happen.”

The 21-year-old Blake made the most of his training partner’s absence, spreading his arms out wide as he stormed home in 9.92 seconds to claim his first major title.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I have been praying for this moment my whole life,” he said. “I just tell people anybody can do it, you just stay focused, pray to God.

“Now I have mixed feelings — just, very sad for Usain Bolt but at the same time enjoying this moment very much. I had to focus and get the job done for Jamaica.”

Lady Gaga's Greaser Look Brings A Fonzie Flavour To VMAs

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Kim Mackrael, By The Associated Press

(August 28, 2011) A tribute to Britney Spears at the 2011 MTV Videoweb-gaga29nw1_j_1313355cl-8_small Music Awards included a mash-up performance of the artist's most famous singles and a nearly intimate moment with Lady Gaga's alter ego.

Ms. Spears was awarded the MTV Video Vanguard Award at the event, held in L.A.'s Nokia Theatre Sunday night.

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/mtv-perry1_jpg_1313374cl-8_small.jpg

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/mtv-bieber_jpg_1313377cl-8_small.jpg

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/brittany%20spears1_jpg_1313384cl-8_small.jpg

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/bruno%20mars%20amy_jpg_1313386cl-8_small.jpg

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/mtv-beyonce_jpg_1313376cl-8_small.jpg

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/lil%20wayne_jpg_1313382cl-8_small.jpg

http://langfieldentertainment.com/images/SEPTEMBER%202011/mtv-manaj_jpg_1313381cl-8_small.jpg

 

After endless speculation on Twitter (#whatwillgagawear was a top trending topic Sunday night), Lady Gaga burst on stage early in the evening looking like a teenaged Fonzie from Happy Days, smoking a cigarette and running her fingers through a greasy mop of black hair. The outfit is part of her Jo Calderon alter ego, and she used the opportunity to launch into a theatrical and curse-laden monologue about her relationship with herself before her performance.

When Lady Gaga - still dressed as Jo Calderon - offered the Video Vanguard Award to Ms. Spears later in the evening, the pair looked poised to kiss, until Ms. Spears turned away, saying "I've done that already."

Ms. Spears shared a famous kiss with pop icon Madonna on the VMA stage in 2003.

Ms. Spears also won the award for best pop video.

Lady Gaga took home the first-ever VMA for best video with a message for her Born This Way video.

Kanye West and Jay-Z showed up for a last-minute performance of Otis.

Nicki Minaj, who showed up with pink and yellow hair piled on her head like soft-serve ice cream and sporting a dress made mostly of mirrors, won best hip-hop video. She was the only female artist nominated in the category.

List of winners of 2011 MTV Video Music Awards

Here are the winners of Sunday night's 2011 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles:

Pop Music Video: Britney Spears, Till the World Ends.
Rock video: Foo Fighters, Walk.
Hip-hop video: Nicki Minaj, Super Bass.
Collaboration: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, E.T.
Male video: Justin Bieber, U Smile.
Female video: Lady Gaga, Born This Way.
Video with a message: Lady Gaga, Born This Way.
Choreography: Beyonce, Run the World (Girls).
Editing: Adele, Rolling in the Deep.
Special effects: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, E.T.
Cinematography: Adele, Rolling in the Deep.
Art direction: Adele, Rolling in the Deep.
Direction: Beastie Boys, Make Some Noise.
Best new artist: Tyler, The Creator, Yonkers.
Video of the year: Katy Perry, Firework.

::OPPORTUNITY::

Canadian Independent Recording Artists' Association (CIRAA) Expands Its Popular Groundbreaker Grant Program

Source:  CIRAA

(August 31, 2011) - The Canadian Independent Recording Artists'AISHA%20WICKHAM_small Association (CIRAA) is pleased to announce that Montreal-based Bandzoogle, the rapidly growing band website platform, has signed on as a sponsor of the CIRAA Groundbreaker Grant program. Bandzoogle is the creator of a website development platform (containing hundreds of design layouts from which to choose) that enables artists to build their website in minutes with no web-design skills needed, including features such as selling merch, building a fan community, and much more.

"The Groundbreaker Grant is a perfect way for us to give back to the Canadian artist community that has helped make
Bandzoogle the most powerful band website platform," says Bandzoogle Founder Chris Vinson. "We regularly interact with our members and the music community at large through our popular blog and social networks, however the Groundbreaker Grant is a great opportunity to connect with thousands of active independent artists across Canada, and to directly support them with funds for their gigs."

Starting tomorrow (September 1), this new partnership will add five more $100 Groundbreaker Grants to the twenty that CIRAA currently awards each month to Canadian indie artists. The CIRAA Groundbreaker Grant program will now distribute $2,500 each month to Canadian independent artists in the form of twenty-five $100 'micro-grants', rewarding artists specifically for live performances.

Due to the ease of the application process, and the fact that winners are selected by a lottery process (rather than a jury system), this micro-grant has opened the door to Canada's funding chain for numerous worthy artists who may not previously have been able to access support for their art at the grassroots level.

"We have been very happy with - but not surprised by - the overwhelming and positive response to the Groundbreaker Grant program since we launched it back in May," says
Dave Cool, CIRAA's Director of Member Services. "In just a few short months, we have been able to support dozens of indie artists at various levels of their musical careers in their efforts to develop their talent and build their fan-base through performing live. Now, with this additional support from Bandzoogle, we'll be able to spread our reach just a little bit wider."

Here's how the
CIRAA Groundbreaker Grant program works: each month, CIRAA members can apply for a $100 micro-grant for each eligible gig that they have played during the past calendar month. Applicants who qualify only need to fill out a very basic online form providing details of each gig, and they will then be entered into the group of members from which twenty-five recipients will be selected in a monthly lottery draw. A member may not receive more than one grant per venue played, but may receive more than one grant in a month if more than one of their eligible applications are randomly selected from the lottery draw. There is a maximum of $1,200 in funding available per artist/group per year.

The submission period for applications is from the 1st to the 10th of each month. Grant winners are selected in a lottery draw, and are announced via Twitter (www.twitter.com/theciraa), at 4 pm EST on the next business day after the 10th of each month. Winners are also listed on the CIRAA website and in the CIRAA e-newsletter.

For more information on CIRAA and on the
CIRAA Groundbreaker Grant program, please visit www.ciraa.ca.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Reema Major’s Legend Has It

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Krewen

(Aug 31, 2011) There’s a Major buzz in the house of hip hop.

It surrounds
Reema Major, a fashionable 16-year-old freestyle sensation who currently calls Toronto home, and her beyond-her-years ability to whip out thoughtful, intelligent and gritty street-savvy rhymes at the drop of a hat.

Her talent and charisma, which have already prompted a fierce record company bidding war won by Universal Music’s Cherrytree/Interscope imprint, is abundantly clear throughout the 16 joints that comprise I Am Legend, her third and latest mixtape.

Major —who opens for
k-os at the CNE Friday prior to her Sept. 10 headlining gig at the urbanNOISE Festival at Rexdale’s Albion Library grounds — effortlessly executes rapid-fire delivery on “I’m the One” and “Double Time;” and offers mature, insightful life comprehension on “The Light” and “The Father.” that justifies the title of an earlier mixtape, 15 Going On 25.

“I was busy working on my album, and Kwajo approached me and told me I hadn’t put out any material since 15 Going On 25, and would I be open to making a new mixtape,” said Major said in a phone interview, referring to her co-manager,
Kwajo “Cinqo” Boateng. He and Mark Spicoluk, Universal Music Canada A&R director, approached her for an idea that would evolve into I Am Legend.

“I wasn’t sure what I’d do, but Mark said to me, ‘If you can say anything over one week, what would you say? At this very moment, what are you feeling?’

“That gave me the direction, and I Am Legend was recorded in a week and change, including the mixes.”

I Am Legend isn’t the first time she’s been put on the spot: Major was similarly challenged when she was introduced to Boateng, a charter member of veteran rap duo
Ghetto Concept, by a friend at the age of 13.

“We said hello, he took me to his studio at the back and said, ‘Rap!’” Major recalls. “And I said, ‘Oh, we’re having a meeting?’”

At that time, Reema “Major” Oweti, born in Khartoum, Sudan, and the youngest of seven children, was living in Kansas City, the latest stop on a journey that included Kenya, Uganda, Windsor and Mississauga as places she had called home.

“Because I moved around so much at a young age, I don’t have any specific memory of a house or a place,” she says. “My memories consist of a series of events. I was so immune to moving that it was a way of life. It was ordinary to me. It’d be like, ‘Oh, a new place!’”

Major was in kindergarten when music first touched her life.

“My older cousin used to babysit me and she was also a rapper,” Major remembers. “She had such a pretty face and she used to be outside literally every day during the summer, and hang out with the dudes and her other female rapper friends.

“They’d bring the boombox outside, plug it in by the bench, and freestyle and rap. I remember being obsessed with the whole art of storytelling and the ‘uhhh!’ ” she grunts through the phone, laughing.

When she met Boateng in 2009, he convinced her to stay in Toronto and she transformed her enthusiasm into opportunity: subsequently performing at Toronto’s all-female
Honey Jam (discoveries include Nelly Furtado and Jully Black), the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, releasing her first mixtape Youngest in Charge and even being courted for a while by KISS impresario Gene Simmons.

Major also has a clear vision of what she wants to express. For example, when she calls herself a “ghetto kid,” Major defines the term as empowering.

“When somebody says the word ‘ghetto,’ they don’t think of the prettiest thing right away,” she admits. “My definition of a ghetto kid is taking something negative and turning it into a positive: you might be in a situation that’s not so good now, but you have the power to turn that around.”

Currently recording her first Interscope album with such producers as Bangladesh, Boi-1da and The Stereotypes, Major is also looking forward to headlining urbanNOISE, the annual youth festival organized to fight violence in Toronto.

Major, who headlines a lineup that includes ex-Roots DJ Scratch, Souls of Steel Orchestra, hip-hop ensemble The Freedom Writers, dancehall singer Chizzy Bashment and the Toronto Bhangra All-Stars, says the performance will hold a special place in her heart.

“Rexdale, that’s the neighbourhood of my manager,” she says. “I didn’t grow up there, but I grew up going there, so I consider that part of my community.”

Video: The Blues Revived: New Faces, But Old Souls

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Aug 31, 2011) Charles Bradley grabs his audiences, thrills them all upside down. WEB-status-soul_1314024cl-8_small

On one warm weekend this July, Eminem roared and rapped at Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Arcade Fire stormed through a surprise tent show in Sackville, N.B., Drake invited Stevie Wonder onstage in Toronto and the members of U2 completed their mammoth world tour in Moncton.

But it was an unlikely newcomer, the so-called Screaming Eagle of Soul, born in 1948, who stole hearts and thunder. Bradley, an ultra-generous performer, hugged and was hugged back at Sackville's SappyFest, and at Osheaga, too, warming young crowds who might not have known his kind still existed, let alone that they could be in any sort of late-blooming prime.

Usually in a red suit and with his face glistening with a mix of sweat and tears, Bradley sings deeply about human loss and societal wrongs. "It's the experience of life that you've been through, your heartaches and pains," the Florida-born, Brooklyn-raised singer told an interviewer recently about his material. "If I don't dress it up, nobody would want to hear it. But if I let it come out in a sweet way, you wanna hear it."

The college-radio crowd does want to hear Bradley, absolutely. His album, No Time for Dreaming, has the sound of something from another era - James Brown or Otis Redding - but it's happening now. It's real, and it's something the indie-rock crowd can call its own.

"There was an undeniable sense of joy and love emanating from Charles," says Paul Henderson, SappyFest's artistic director. "He got everyone in a crowd of 1,500 people to hold hands. He walked out into the crowd and hugged everyone. It was spiritual. It didn't feel like a rehashing."

The youthful cognoscenti's embrace of Bradley and other acts from the Brooklyn-based Daptone record label, including funk soulsters Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Lee Fields and Bradley's former sidemen, the Budos Band, is reminiscent of the folk-blues revival of the 1960s. Now, as then, it is unexpected music - an unthreatening strangeness - that sounds right and deep to the iPod generation.

In his book Feel Like Going Home, Peter Guralnick wrote about his hip crowd's embrace of long-forgotten blues artists: "We never imagined we would see any of these shadowy figures from our mythology. We never dreamt that Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, Sleepy John Estes, all would be rediscovered." For Guralnick and his crowd, just as for the young white electric-blues aficionados in Chicago, the music and its players were something tucked away in the past. "As far as we were concerned," he wrote, "there were no contemporary blues singers."

Audiences probably feel the same way today, though that seems to be changing. Young
Gary Clark Jr., who last month released his major-label debut EP The Bright Lights, is turning the heads of fans and musical tastemakers both. The Texas singer-guitarist, who was a hit at the Bonnaroo and South by Southwest festivals this year, recently astounded a youthful crowd at Toronto's Rivoli club on Queen Street West, where he impressed people raised on blues clichés and bad Samuel L. Jackson movies. He's not slick, he does not sing Sweet Home Chicago, his hat wear is enviable and there's no falseness to him.

"He's not afraid to hit a bad note," an official with Clark's label, Warner Music, marvelled afterwards, in a nearly shocked tone.

A recent Wall Street Journal story gave an account of a music-industry showcase at SXSW, held annually in Austin, Tex., a musical hotbed that is also Clark's hometown. Concerned more with the free brisket and collard greens, the assembled suits paid Clark no never mind. "It's one of those things," the musician said afterward. "I'm like, 'Hi. If you're not into it, fine. I'll be doing it anyway. I made the invitation. It's no big deal. Maybe we'll meet up later on.' "

That kind of attitude - no sense of entitlement - is something that appeals to indie audiences. "I spoke to Charles [Bradley] in the green room, before his show," recalls SappyFest's Henderson. "He asked me about the festival, the people and New Brunswick. He was just so grateful to be there."

These are different kinds of stars, the Bradleys and the Clarks. Bradley has worked as a cook, a handyman, a factory worker and a shoe-shiner - his song Why is it So Hard? is autobiographical. On Heartaches and Pain, he moans about his brother, shot dead. And yet, on the title track, the humble performer is resolute: "No time for dreams, gotta get on up and do my thing."

His thing, finally, is appreciated.

Charles Bradley plays Vancouver's Biltmore Friday, Sept. 2; Victoria's Club 919 Saturday, Sept. 3.

Charles Bradley: The World (Is Going Up in Flames):

Boi-1da Back For Beat Battle

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Jason Richards

(Aug 26, 2011) The seventh annual Battle of the Beat MakersBoi-1da_small event is one of the last places Boi-1da needs to be this Saturday night, what with all the hits, accolades, and dollars the producer has piled up over the past three years.

Alternatively, the 24-year-old (born Matthew Samuels) could be raising a glass in Yorkville with Drake (1da composed a few tracks for his longtime friend and collaborator's sophomore album, Take Care, out on Oct. 24, including its lead single, “Headlines”).

Or, he could be partying in L.A., where he now lives, with Game (the Toronto native crafted the song “All I Know” for the West Coast rapper's latest, The R.E.D. Album, which came out on Tuesday).

But instead, alongside a jury of his peers that includes producers 9th Wonder and T-Minus and rapper Stalley, Boi-1da will sit onstage at the Opera House and judge beats created by 32 hungry finalists. They were chosen from 311 entrants by the event's organizing body, Sound Supremacy Entertainment.

Samuels' involvement continues out of loyalty, both to the event and the Canadian hip-hop production community at large. He first joined the Battle as a 17-year-old contestant in its initial year, 2005. A three-time champion, he has served as a judge every year since.

“What makes me want to come back is just remembering when I was young back in the day, and so eager, like, ‘Man, I wish I could meet Dr. Dre, I wish I could meet Timbaland, and I wish these people would come and inspire me in some way, other than (with) their music,'” he says, speaking from L.A. during a break from a studio session with Dre protégé Kendrick Lamar.

“Me going back is giving back to my own people that I love,” he says. “I love hearing new stuff from new producers. I love being out there. It's a great atmosphere.”

To a first-time attendee, the format of the competition could seem strange.

Unlike the intense lyrical face-off structure of a freestyle battle, Beat Makers competitors stand onstage while their music plays, nodding their heads, gesturing with their hands, sometimes dancing. Some might find it a bit nerdy. But in a sense, it's a public staging of something that goes on in bedroom and basement studios all over the world, as aspiring producers debut new beats for their friends.

The stakes are high: first prize is a $7,500 package that includes $1,000 cash, production hardware and software from Roland and a recording certificate program at Centennial College.

Another incentive, of course, is the chance to be heard by the high-profile producers and artists behind the judges' table.

Most of the contestants are from Toronto, though a few come from further away, as with Face Beats (Ottawa), Cristobal (Atlanta), and returning champion Neenah (Amsterdam), who won last year.

One of this year's participants, last year's runner-up, is 19-year-old beatmaker Nick Flair, who was mentored by Samuels and another frequent Drake producer, Noah “40” Shebib. He came to know them as a member of The Remix Project, a creative alternative-education program for youths from underserved communities.

Flair describes his style as “raw sonic energy, high-booming and inspiring . . . Trunk-banging. That's what I call my new beats: ‘trunk-banging.' Epic-sounding.”

Under the name 88 Renegades (an outfit that includes a pianist, guitarist and percussionists), the Toronto-based producer has been working with some notable Canadian acts — Interscope-signed rapper Reema Major, as well as R&B singers Karl Wolf and Danny Fernandes.

While judging Flair, and the other 31 competitors tonight, Samuels will do his best to remain objective.

“What I want to find is creativity,” he says. “And it has to be loud, hard-hitting music.”

Just the Facts

What: Battle of the Beatmakers

Who: 32 finalists plus judges Boi-1da, 9th Wonder, T-Minus and Stalley

Where: Opera House, 735 Queen St. E.

When: Saturday, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $22 at Play De Record and other vendors at bit.ly/goseebeat

Daniel Lanois And Friends Bring In The Harvest

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Robert Everett-Green

Greenbelt Harvest Picnic
Christie Lake Conservation Area
Near Dundas, Ont., on Saturday

(August 29, 2011)
Daniel Lanois knows his way around a recording studio like few other people on this planet, having produced career-changing records for Bob Dylan, U2, Emmylou Harris and others. Outdoors, Lanois's production record is not nearly so deep, which makes the success of his first Greenbelt Harvest Picnic all the more remarkable.

The one-day event took place on a perfect day in a perfect spot: a wide open green space surrounded by trees near Christie Lake, in a conservation area a few minutes' drive from Lanois's hometown of Hamilton. Lanois and his co-producer Jean-Paul Gauthier wanted the festival to celebrate the natural beauty of Steeltown's rural backyard, to promote local food from small farm producers and to show off the talents of some of Lanois's friends, including Emmylou Harris, Ray LaMontagne, Sarah Harmer and Gord Downie.

The music ran from noon till night, as about 5,000 people picnicked, sampled organic produce, relaxed on the grass and twined flowers through their hair (a one-day craze inspired by a posey-seller among the farm tables). At dusk, small Asian paper lanterns rose from behind the crowd high into the sky and drifted west, glowing orange over their own small, elevating fires.

Lanois's smarts as a golden-eared studio guy were evident the second you walked on the field. This festival had the best amplified sound I've ever heard at an outdoor event - a clean, natural, rich sound from top to bottom. It was equally good from close-up and far away, no matter who was playing.

Lanois took the stage at around 7 p.m., with a reddish light creeping into the sky. Something about the scene, perhaps, put him into a contemplative mood, to judge from the long, ruminative guitar jam he slipped into during his very first number, and again during the bluesy lovesong, Fire. The fine-grained, high-distortion guitar sound of his recent Le Noise sessions with Neil Young was much in evidence. A turn at pedal steel brought an even more introspective feeling to his performance with bassist Jim Wilson and drummer Steve Nistor.

It was somewhat jarring, in this context, to see a couple of burlesque dancers, dressed as for the Rio carnival in string bikinis and massive coloured feathers, writhing through part of this set. They also appeared during the brief jams Lanois played between sets under a small canopy in mid-field.

His set segued straight into Harris's, as he and his colleagues played backup to songs such as Wrecking Ball and Orphan Girl, both from the Lanois-produced Wrecking Ball album that gave Harris new prominence and a new direction in the mid-nineties. Her strong plaintive voice, the sound of a vulnerable survivor, drove straight for the heart.

Ray LaMontagne came on after night had fallen, a lone figure with an acoustic guitar, strumming and howling through a performance of Burn that really did seem to set something to aflame. This New Hampshire musician has a high-lying, husky voice that brings some of the feeling of classic soul music to his hand-hewn original folk songs. He writes hard and plays for keeps, and if some of what he did sounded like sixties folk redux - Beg Steal or Borrow could almost be a Joni Mitchell song - he made it sound fresh and even dangerous. His ferocious performance of Repo Man (like most of the set, played with his Pariah Dogs band) felt like something you might hear in a tough Chicago blues joint, not at a rural campfire.

Lanois, who also played some flavourful pedal-steel backings for LaMontagne, said from the stage that he'd like to make this festival an annual event. The food providers I spoke with seconded that motion, and the crowd seemed to agree. The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic is off to a great start, and will be even better when it solves a small lighting problem. The grounds got mighty dark after the sun went down. I sometimes had to depend on the glow of people's cell phones to avoid stepping on anyone. In another place, with a less benign and sedentary crowd, it could have been a security nightmare.

Portions of Saturday's show were recorded by CBC Radio, for later broadcast on Canada Live.

Canadian Musicians Honour American Tragedy

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Aug 28, 2011) It’s not likely that anyone will ever forget the events ofNatalie%20McMaster_small 9/11, but a team of stellar Canadian musical talents are coming together in Manhattan a few days before the 10th anniversary of the event, to salute the city’s resiliency and honour the 26 Canadian families who lost loved ones a decade ago.

Natalie McMaster, Ben Heppner, Tom Cochrane, Paul Shaffer and Tyley Ross are just a few of the many luminaries who will be appearing at Symphony Space at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre on Sept. 7 for a concert being called Canada Sings the American Songbook: A Canadian Tribute to New York.

Dean Keyworth, president of the Canadian Association of New York, felt the need to have a 10th anniversary commemorative musical event in which Canadians could offer a tribute to the city and mourn the passing of fellow citizens who had perished that day.

He approached the Canadian Consulate and began working with Sault Ste. Marie-born Jeff Breithaupt, head of culture and communications at the consulate. Breithaupt is also known not only as a successful songwriter in his own right, but one of the primary advocates for Canuck artists in New York and the producer of the popular “Canadian Songbook” series, which has been a highlight of Canada Day in Manhattan for the past eight years.

He agreed to serve as producer and emcee for this event and decided to provide a mirror image of his normal songbook series, by having Canadian artists sing American songs to acknowledge the endurance of the people of New York.

The association also wanted the event to be charitable in nature and it was determined that all net proceeds from the concert would go to the 9/11 Tribute Centre and the 9/11 Memorial.

Once all this was in place, Breithaupt proceeded to work his considerable contact list of Canadian artists, all of whom needed little persuading to participate in the event.

I spoke to Cape Breton fiddling star Natalie McMaster about her memories of 9/11 and her reasons for participating in the concert.

“It was just after the Country Music Awards in 2001,” recalls McMaster. “I woke up the next morning and turned on the TV after the first plane had crashed. I saw the second plane crash. And I remember thinking, ‘This can’t be for real,’ and then you keep watching and watching. Complete shock. We play in the States all the time and I’ve been in New York so many times, this was so close to home. It touched me greatly.

“It’s always an honour when people ask you to do something like this. I’m grateful that they thought of me. I thought sure, why wouldn’t I? Life’s busy, yeah, so what? It’s one of those things that no matter who you are or where you come from, or where you’re going, you just have this inner gravitational pull and you want to help out.”

McMaster will be performing solo on Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and will be joining Tyley Ross on Stephen Sondheim’s “No One is Alone.”

Ross began his career in Canada starring in shows like Tommy and West Side Story, but for the past decade, he’s been enjoying great success in America as a member of the East Village Opera Company.

He was living in Soho, not far from the World Trade Center on that September morning 10 years ago, and shared his recollections with me.

“I was woken up by the loud squeals of airplane engines flying over my apartment, followed moments later not by an explosion, but by the boxy crunch of aluminum on aluminum.  It sounded exactly like what it was, but I refused to believe it and stayed in bed for a long time listening to the sirens, trying to arrive at a more likely explanation for the sounds than exactly what it sounded like.”

Ross spent the rest of that day walking around lower Manhattan and his memories are a collage of images.

“Terrified pedestrians diving to the ground when the first National Guard jets started flying low over the city . . . seeing hundreds of people covered in dust and debris with expressions of pure shock and disbelief . . . thinking how it was so quiet that afternoon that you could hear birdsong in New York.

“And more strange than anything, in a city famous for avoiding eye contact on the street, everyone looked each other in the eyes as if to ask, ‘Are you seeing this? Is this really happening?’”

For Ross, participating in this event required no real decision. “Given the opportunity to remember and honour the anniversary of the tragedy 10 years ago, I could think of no better way to do it than in song alongside fellow Canadians who are connected to this town.”

And the Sondheim song he and McMaster will be performing has the perfect message.

“Hard to see the light now,

Just don’t let it go.

Things will turn out right now,

We can make it so.

Someone is on your side,

No one is alone.”

Audio And Video: Tokyo Police Club Covering The World

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

(August 29, 2011) Fans of the GTA's Tokyo Police Club have had keyboardist Graham Wright'sTokyo%20Police%20Club_small solo record to tide them over since the release of last year's album Champ. Now to further sustain interest between long-players, they're spending the end of summer posting ten different cover songs on ten different blogs - one per day.

We're four tunes in and while our blog here has been, er, overlooked for now, we can share what's out there so far: Moby's "Southside," Jimmy Eat World's "Sweetness," "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson and "Under Control" by the Strokes.

 South Side (Featuring Morgan Kibby of M83) by TokyoPoliceClub

 Sweetness (Featuring Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit) by TokyoPoliceClub

 Since U Been Gone by TokyoPoliceClub

 Under Control by TokyoPoliceClub

Speaking of the Strokes, though ... if it's synth-pop covers you like, then what might be most exciting of all is this clip from the weekend's Reading Festival in England: the Strokes and Jarvis Cocker doing the Cars' "Just What I Needed."

China Orders Music Sites To Delete Songs By Lady Gaga, Katy Perry Songs

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

(Aug 26, 2011) BEIJING, CHINA — China’s Ministry of Culture hasLady%20Gaga%20vmas_small ordered music download sites to delete songs by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, the Backstreet Boys and other pop stars within two weeks or face punishment.

The ministry posted a list of 100 songs — including Lady Gaga’s “Judas” and Perry’s “Last Friday Night” — that had to be purged from the Chinese web because they had never been submitted for mandatory government screening.

Six Lady Gaga songs in all were on the list, all from her latest album. The 12-year-old ballad “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys was also targeted. Dozens of Hong Kong and Taiwanese pop songs and a few Western hits were listed as well.

The ministry said the rule was meant to preserve China’s “national cultural security.”

Sites were told in the Aug. 19 announcement posted to the ministry’s website that they had until Sept. 15 to carry out “self-correction” and delete the songs. It said violators would be punished, but didn’t outline the penalties they would face.

It didn’t say that the listed songs were objectionable, just that they had not been approved for distribution.

The Chinese government carefully screens the content of imported entertainment content for political messages or commentary that runs contrary to its official line.

Foreign music acts in particular are believed to receive special scrutiny after Icelandic singer Björk shouted “Tibet!” during a 2008 concert in Shanghai after performing a song titled “Declare Independence.”

China claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and that Beijing’s tight control is draining them of their culture and identity.

Picnicface Takes The Tube

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Chandler Levack

(Aug 27, 2011) In a half-empty car wash in downtown Montreal, Canada's most promising comedy troupe are hosting an after party following their performance at Just for Laughs. The fete was The Comedy Network's idea, an enterprising “f-you” to the usual hobnobbing at the Park Hyatt across the street.

But at 1 a.m., the debauched gathering feels more like a corporate event, sparsely attended by well meaning execs nodding to “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang. Far from the action, the eight members of
Picnicface congregate out in the parking lot and drink with their friends, clearly uncomfortable with their transition to mainstream success.

Picnicface are young (members Mark Little, Andrew Bush, Evany Rosen, Brian Macquarrie, Scott Vrooman, Cheryl Hann, Kyle Dooley and Bill Wood are in their late 20s to early 30s) and they're new to old-guard media like TV and film. Until now they've thrived in two lower-profile settings: the Halifax bar scene and the internet.

Their videos on Funny Or Die and College Humor made them a viral hit in the late aughts when the idea of comedy online was still a gambit. (Their flagship video Powerthirst — a hyperactive parody of energy-drink commercials, famous for promising that your babies will run as fast as “KENYANS!” — has amassed over 23 million views on YouTube since 2007.)

Will Ferrell's a fan. And in the next two months, the troupe will drop a book edited by Harper-Collins (Picnicface's Guide To Canada), a feature film (a disco parody Roller Town) and a flagship TV show green lit for 13 episodes. (A sneak preview airs this Wednesday, Aug. 31.)

“This feels weird to me, it just feels really weird,” remarks Picnicface member Andy Bush as a bartender clad in a Picnicface T-shirt hands him an Alexander Keith's.

“I want to do cocaine in the bathroom over there. Oh no — that was just a joke. I've never done cocaine. Please.”

Bush throws up his hands, exasperated by his attempt to be funny on one of the most stressful nights of his life. If he and his troupe are lucky, it will be the start of things to come.

“Halifamous,” as they say, in their native college town, Picnicface formed in university as the group slowly connected through their respective mediums of mime, improv, filmmaking, economics, classical theatre and ironic rapping. An advance look at their TV show reveals it to be a surreal combination of traditional sketch, commercial parodies done with clip art and the occasional Casio keyboard interlude by Hann.

Picnicface write in the voice of the internet, where “WTF” can sometimes equal “LOL.” When asked to describe her writing style, Hann cites a sketch that begins with a girl battling bulimia. After locking herself in the bathroom, she throws up a tiny man who falls in love with her mother after she fishes him out of the toilet. Corner Gas this isn't.

Sarah Fowlie, a development executive at the Comedy Network, was an early champion of the troupe. But whether or not 23 million hits can equal 23 million viewers is highly debatable.

“The internet is a new way of sharing jokes,” remarks Fowlie. “A friend of yours sends you a link, you watch it and then someone in the office emails it around . . . and then it becomes a new spin on the old telling jokes around the water cooler. I'm not sure what Picnicface's success online proves, other than the fact that there is an audience for what they do.”

Ira Levy, a producer with Breakthrough Productions (previous projects include Less Than Kind and Kenny Vs. Spenny) agrees.

“What's interesting about these guys is that they have an internet sensibility,” says Levy. “It's a voice that speaks to a whole group of younger audiences that get that absurdist culture. Picnicface already got an entire audience without television. And now television can take advantage of that.”

To help curate four years of sketch comedy into 13 episodes, Breakthrough brought in veteran writer Gary Campbell and Kid In The Hall Mark McKinney as mentors. (Over a celebratory dinner after Picnicface's Just For Laughs showcase, McKinney makes a speech that is so unbelievably encouraging and genuine, the cast members' parents in the room just melt.)

“Being on set for the filming was giving me a lot of flashbacks to the early days of Kids in the Hall,” admits McKinney. “You know, the same kind of fun and reckless enthusiasm.”

At dinner, the members of Picnicface gleefully pick apart their duck confit with their hands, eating off each other's plates. As an eight-member troupe they've had work around some complications in the past — Rosen and Hann dread having to play moms and girlfriends so they write their own material, Little is a touring standup comedian on the path to becoming more than “Halifamous,” Bush and Rosen had a breakup so toxic inter-Picnicface hookups are discouraged — but they are managing.

“I think what the Comedy Network saw in us is that we just kept working,” says Brian Macquarrie.

“They'd see us at a festival and we'd do something and they'd see us a year later and we'd do something totally different. And I think they thought, ‘Oh, this group really works! Like, they keep trying to do new things and that's why we'll ultimately risk three million bucks to make a TV show.'”

“But we also hate ourselves,” adds Kyle Dooley. “We're totally self-conscious and as comedians nothing is ever good enough.”

“Honestly, it's weird,” says Macquarrie, the booming raspy voice of the Powerthirst ads. “I was having panic attacks thinking of the potential of a second season. Because we had four years of material and we picked the best and we turned it into a show.”

Often cited as the proverbial Comedy Network programming experiment that failed is last year's excellent and also surreal TV show Hotbox, starring Toronto comic Pat Thornton.

Thornton was granted 13 episodes last season that had the same erratic comic tone as Picnicface's and was swiftly cancelled due to low ratings and associated bureaucracy. A friend of the troupe who plays a supporting role in Roller Town, Thornton wishes their show success.

“A lot of times this country is scared to take chances,” says Thornton. “I think anything can work on The Comedy Network, but the sketch that everyone remembers is the stuff that has its own voice. It's the sketch that comes out of nowhere and it is not the thing that you expect.”

“As a comedian you want to feel like you're part of a movement. You want to push the medium forward. I think the idea of Picnicface having a show is exciting. I just hope it gets a chance to live.”

Audio & Video: Eazy E’s Little Girl is Making Music, But Not Rap

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Aug 30, 2011) *The daughter of the late West Coast rap legend Eazy-E,
E. B. Wright is releasing her debut single, “What I Wanna Do” on Sept. 7. The singer, songwriter, reality television star and entrepreneur is on her way to stardom.

Since starring in episodes on MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16″ (2007) and “Exiled” (2008), E.B. Wright is keeping her father’s legacy alive, with the launch of her “We Want E.B.” campaign.  She also founded Eazystreet Entertainment, which establishes and manages producers, songwriters and other talent.

A press release says that with the release of “What I Wanna Do,” produced by Juice of Eazystreet Entertainment, the world is going to be amazed at just how musically talented Eazy E’s daughter really is.  And you know what?  The press release is right. Her Pop / Rock sound comes as a fresh surprise since it’s not what you would expect from a hardcore rapper’s daughter.

Kevin Eubanks's Long Road To Whistler's New Jazz Festival

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

(Aug 30, 2011) As if 15 years as Jay Leno's comic foil wasn't proof
kevin%20eubanks_1313896cl-8_small enough, it seems it's pretty easy to get a laugh out of Kevin Eubanks. When I ask him if being a pescetarian is good for his soul - and add "no pun intended" - he cracks up. "That's good!," he enthuses. "I'm gonna use that!"

Eubanks left his job as The Tonight Show's music director last year and is now touring to support his latest recording, Zen Food. As official artist-in-residence at the inaugural Jazz On The Mountain At Whistler festival [http://www.whistlerjazzfest.com], he'll perform Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

You're coming here to play a jazz festival, but you don't consider yourself strictly a jazz artist, do you?

No, it's not even consider; I know. I grew up playing rock 'n' roll music and classical music and funk and R&B. I didn't start playing jazz music until I was in my late teens. And my appreciation for music definitely, without a doubt, expands beyond jazz or any one genre of music. But I've just given up trying to convince people that I'm into this or into that. Unfortunately, it typecasts you, so you do not get the opportunity to play on a professional level with musicians in other genres.

Someone in your position I would think could almost write your own ticket.

If I wanted to play on some straight up country music or rock 'n' roll music, the first people that would attack me would be the jazz community.

Would they accuse you of being a traitor? Of selling out?

Exactly. Or something like that. You are just not allowed to do it. Who do you think you are, playing that rock 'n' roll music? Oh, you mean the music I was playing since I was 12? I really did know who Jimi Hendrix was before I knew who Wes Montgomery was. I really knew the group Chicago's music before I knew the music of Charlie Parker. That's just a fact. But as soon as Garth Brooks calls or LeAnn Rimes - who I have worked a lot with, I love LeAnn Rimes, she's actually one of my favourite vocalists - the community that would be least likely to accept that is the community you've done the most for, which would be the jazz community. Which is really unfortunate. Because jazz musicians have a tendency to be able to play lots of other different kinds of music. I think some of the most gifted musicians are in jazz, and wind up having the least versatility when it comes to their career.

And you think it's because of the typecasting?

Absolutely. And musicians typecast themselves as well. They look down on other music: that's just three chords. Yeah, but that's B.B. King on three chords. That's Buddy Guy on three chords. Who cares how many chords it is or how difficult? Since when is that the prerequisite for something being useful or not? If it's complicated and it's useful and it's necessary, then beautiful. But if you're holding that up as some sort of badge of honour - it's more difficult so I'm better than you - I just think it's ridiculous.

You were on The Tonight Show for 18 years [15 as bandleader; there was also the short move to The Jay Leno Show]. How did that experience shape you and your music?

I don't think it shaped my music too much at all. It shaped my whole attitude, though, about appreciating other styles of music. From being on that show I became much more of a country music fan and a blues fan.

Do you miss it?

Oh, yeah.

Do you regret leaving?

I want to put it in a way that it's not misunderstood, because people are real sensitive about this: It just seems like a natural course of development that you go through. Yeah, I miss it a lot. It was fun. But it's like anything else that you enjoy but you just have to do something else: You miss it, but you still just have to follow what you think you need to be doing for your life too.

Is it a bit of a relief at the same time not to have to do it day after day?

I don't miss driving the five lanes of traffic. It's just a different life. It's hard to compare it to anything now. I got good at being on TV; I'd love to do another TV show. I hope that works out at some point. For the right reasons and everything, I would gladly go back to television.

Why did you leave? Was it to focus on the music?

I just needed a different pace in my life, and sometimes it's very difficult to do that, because it's not broke, it doesn't look like it's broke. So why are you fixing it and all that? You know, sometimes people will ask: 'You like living in this town?' 'Yeah I like it, it's really nice, it's peaceful.' 'Then why are you leaving?' 'Cause I really just got to see what's going on in New York City. I've got to feel what's going on.' It's not like I don't love my hometown or I don't love The Tonight Show. I've got to see what's across the street. It's been 18 years. I just want to have a look and see what's going on in the world.

Kevin Eubanks has several performances at this weekend's Jazz On The Mountain At Whistler, and will play a short acoustic set at Chapters in downtown Vancouver on Thursday at 2 p.m. (whistlerjazzfest.com).

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Gibson Guitar Battle Baffles Players

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

(Aug 30, 2011) If your local neighbourhood guitar player is looking a little nervous these days, here's why: the supply of famed, acclaimed
Gibson guitars - makers of Les Paul and many other top models - is under attack by the U.S. federal government.

The Nashville Daily News reported last week that the American Department of Justice swooped in on Gibson plants in Memphis and Nashville, executing four search warrants and apparently taking close to $1 million (US) in materials without quite saying why. Speculation has swirled around the rosewood used in the guitars' fingerboards and bridges. It's all foreign wood, but Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz told the Memphis paper it was all acquired in accordance with domestic, foreign and international laws:

The company stated it assumes the raid stems from an alleged violation of the U.S. Lacey Act, legislation that requires anyone coming into the U.S. to declare with unambiguous specificity the nature of materials being brought into the country.

According to Gibson: “The U.S. Lacey Act does not directly address conservation issues but is about obeying all laws of the countries from which wood products are procured. This law reads that you are guilty if you did not observe a law even though you had no knowledge of that law in a foreign country. The U.S. Lacey Act is only applicable when a foreign law has been violated.”

If you're not a guitar aficionado, understand that Gibson's got only two rivals at most for true acoustic players' love: Martin and Guild, all of them stubbornly still made in the U.S. in the face of globalization.

"They're the modern-day Stradivarius," Toronto axeman and Jazz.FM deejay Danny Marks enthuses about the American standard-bearers. The now-banned Brazilian rosewood, more than the Indian rosewood now used, had been treasured for the rich resonant tone it brought to instruments "since the classical-guitar days of Spain."

Brazilian sources having been prohibited years ago, U.S. guitar manufacturers turn to India, but this hasn't spared Gibson, which has now been raided twice by the feds (the first time by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials, under similarly mysterious circumstances, in 2009). By all accounts, Martin makes its guitars the same way as Gibson does, yet Martin has been left alone. Danny Marks says "I cannot imagine why they would hit Gibson and not Martin," but some conservative U.S. commentators have even suggested that the reason is that Gibson's boss Juskiewicz donates to the Republican Party and Martin to the Democrats.

Caught in the middle of all these political/legal/regulatory questions are guitar players, who are fretting, as it were, that perhaps the top guitar line in the world - the favourite of top players from George Benson to Slash - might suffer supply interruptions - resulting in shortages or even higher prices. Marks can't believe using a modest bit of rosewood to aid in the creation of culture should be attracting this much scrutiny when "there's so much nastiness, so much plundering of the world out there." Robert Remington, a musician and writer at the Calgary Herald, notes that if any objectionable part of an instrument can earn this kind of crackdown, "Does it mean that we must prove the sustainability and manufacture of every component part of our instruments if we cross an international border? If we can’t, will some border agent rip our beloved and valued instruments from our hands?"

It gets a bit more bizarre, even: remember when U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama visited her French counterpart Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Strasbourg back in '09? No? Understandable. It's worth remembering now perhaps only because of what Obama gave Bruni-Sarkozy: A Gibson acoustic guitar, with rosewood fretboard.

Gibson Guitar Battle Baffles Players

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

(Aug 30, 2011) If your local neighbourhood guitar player is looking a
Les%20Paul%20and%20B little nervous these days, here's why: the supply of famed, acclaimed Gibson guitars - makers of Les Paul and many other top models - is under attack by the U.S. federal government.

The Nashville Daily News reported last week that the American Department of Justice swooped in on Gibson plants in Memphis and Nashville, executing four search warrants and apparently taking close to $1 million (US) in materials without quite saying why. Speculation has swirled around the rosewood used in the guitars' fingerboards and bridges. It's all foreign wood, but Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz told the Memphis paper it was all acquired in accordance with domestic, foreign and international laws:

The company stated it assumes the raid stems from an alleged violation of the U.S. Lacey Act, legislation that requires anyone coming into the U.S. to declare with unambiguous specificity the nature of materials being brought into the country.

According to Gibson: “The U.S. Lacey Act does not directly address conservation issues but is about obeying all laws of the countries from which wood products are procured. This law reads that you are guilty if you did not observe a law even though you had no knowledge of that law in a foreign country. The U.S. Lacey Act is only applicable when a foreign law has been violated.”

If you're not a guitar aficionado, understand that Gibson's got only two rivals at most for true acoustic players' love: Martin and Guild, all of them stubbornly still made in the U.S. in the face of globalization.

"They're the modern-day Stradivarius," Toronto axeman and Jazz.FM deejay Danny Marks enthuses about the American standard-bearers. The now-banned Brazilian rosewood, more than the Indian rosewood now used, had been treasured for the rich resonant tone it brought to instruments "since the classical-guitar days of Spain."

Brazilian sources having been prohibited years ago, U.S. guitar manufacturers turn to India, but this hasn't spared Gibson, which has now been raided twice by the feds (the first time by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials, under similarly mysterious circumstances, in 2009). By all accounts, Martin makes its guitars the same way as Gibson does, yet Martin has been left alone. Danny Marks says "I cannot imagine why they would hit Gibson and not Martin," but some conservative U.S. commentators have even suggested that the reason is that Gibson's boss Juskiewicz donates to the Republican Party and Martin to the Democrats.

Caught in the middle of all these political/legal/regulatory questions are guitar players, who are fretting, as it were, that perhaps the top guitar line in the world - the favourite of top players from George Benson to Slash - might suffer supply interruptions - resulting in shortages or even higher prices. Marks can't believe using a modest bit of rosewood to aid in the creation of culture should be attracting this much scrutiny when "there's so much nastiness, so much plundering of the world out there." Robert Remington, a musician and writer at the Calgary Herald, notes that if any objectionable part of an instrument can earn this kind of crackdown, "Does it mean that we must prove the sustainability and manufacture of every component part of our instruments if we cross an international border? If we can’t, will some border agent rip our beloved and valued instruments from our hands?"

It gets a bit more bizarre, even: remember when U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama visited her French counterpart Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Strasbourg back in '09? No? Understandable. It's worth remembering now perhaps only because of what Obama gave Bruni-Sarkozy: A Gibson acoustic guitar, with rosewood fretboard.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Brandy is Back and Working with RCA Records

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 27, 2011) *It is official, Brandy is signed on with RCA Records. “Throughout her career, Brandy has consistently won the vote as everyone’s favourite female vocalist,” Peter Edge, chief executive of RCA Music Group, said in a statement. “I am sure that in her next chapter at RCA and in partnership with Breyon Prescott, we will record her most exciting music to date.” It’s been a little while since the singer has hit her fans with anything new. In an attempt to revive her career, she appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and two seasons of her VH1 reality show “Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business.” “This is truly a blessing,” Brandy also said in a statement. “Breyon Prescott, Peter Edge and Tom Corson [RCA Music Group's president and chief operating officer] believe in me and have introduced me to a home that also believes and knows exactly what to do with the type of music I’m doing. Breyon and the team at RCA/Chameleon are creative and forward-thinking and I am thrilled to be working with them.” She is currently working on an album for release in 2012.

Video: Montell Jordan Releases First Gospel Tune

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 25, 2011) *Montell Jordan’s classic 1995 hit “This Is How We Do It” still rocks the party and keeps folks on their feet. It’s timeless, there’s no doubt about that, something like “The Electric Slide.” But what has been up to lately. Well, when secular doesn’t work out, where do all the artists go? Gospel. That’s right, he’s into Gospel and the ministry now, and believe it or not it might turn out to be a good move for him. His album drops Sept. 20 and it’s laced with the true Hip Hop flavour he’s known for.  Check out his single, “Shake Heaven”:

 

Sade Still a Fan Favourite: Singer’s Tour is Bringing in Big Bucks

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 25, 2011) *Sade is one of those timeless artists who just never goes out of style.sade2011-with-mic-med-wide_small Her 10-year hiatus isn’t stopping fans from flocking to her concerts. Since her come-back, she’s grossed $31.4 million, making her album one of the year’s top sellers. And fans are loving her. Since kicking off her U.S. tour over on the East Coast, over 300,000 concert goers have come out to enjoy the classic sounds of “Smooth Operator” and several other hallmark tunes. It’s estimated that the 54-date tour could gross $47 million by the time it ends on September 12th. That would put it on Billboard’s 25 highest-grossed tours list.

New Songs Worth A Listen

Source: www.thestar.com - Brad Wheeler

(August 29, 2011) Shaun Boothe, featuring STS, from Waiting Room; free download atWEB-trax-boothe_1313617cl-8_small shaunboothe.com  The charming Toronto MC and the whip-quick Atlanta rapper STS give lessons to Jay-Z and Kanye on how to hook an old-school soul-shout sample. Clever and highly entertaining.

Be my Man:
Asa, from the forthcoming Beautiful Imperfection (Justin Time); streaming at justin-time.com  From an album released a year ago in Britain, we hear a jazzy Nigerian soul singer in newer context, possibly slipping first into the post-Winehouse void with an upbeat, shimmying vamp about a woman-to-man proposal.

Sarah McLachlan To Perform At 9/11 Memorial For Flight 93

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(August 29, 2011) SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan will performSarah_McLachlan_1313588cl-8_small at a dedication ceremony for the 9/11 memorial for Flight 93 in western Pennsylvania. The National Park Foundation announced Monday the Canadian pop vocalist will sing at the Sept. 10 event near Shanksville, where the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93 died Sept. 11, 2001. The plane crashed in a field after the passengers tried to overtake the hijackers. The Flight 93 National Memorial dedication will include dignitaries and the relatives of those killed in the attack. A “Tower of Voices” memorial is designed to house 40 wind chimes. Organizers have raised most of the estimated $60 million needed for it. McLachlan has won Grammy Awards for her songs Building a Mystery and I Will Remember You.

Janet Jackson to be Married!

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 3, 2011) *Finally!  We think. Janet Jackson has been dating her love, Qatarijanetboynew1_full_small businessman Wissam Al Mana, 36, since 2009, if you didn’t know. They’ve kept their relationship very private and became engaged last year. Yes, that’s right, it was last year that Wissam is said to have popped the question, presenting the 45-year-old singer with a 15 carat diamond ring. On the other hand, if that’s true, Janet denied at the time. At the time, she was preparing for her very intimate tour so could not focus on life decisions like marriage. However, now that her show is wrapping up on September 1, she now feels ready for the big step. “Now Janet’s telling friends that an official engagement will come by summer’s end, and that she and Wissam will marry in late 2011 – and they’re shopping for an even bigger diamond ring to celebrate their official engagement,” a source told National Enquirer magazine. Sources say Wissam has been good for the performer, boosting her confidence and being very supportive. The two have also talked about starting a family. We’ll see.

Yolanda Adams is Looking Extra Good and Busy at 50

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 29, 2011) *Fifty never looked good! Gospel (and every once and a while R&B)Yolanda-Adams-News_small singer Yolanda Adams celebrated 50 years of life recently (Aug 27), but she’s telling the world she’s not getting old, she’s getting busy. Adams’ latest album “Becoming” reached No. 5 on the Billboard charts and she’s currently touring the country on a health & wellness tour. The event will feature free health screenings and seminars. But that’s not all, of course. The singer is also host of Radio One’s “The Yolanda Adam’s Morning Show” and is getting to work on her own fashion line, which will debut next month. Happy Birthday Yolanda!

Toronto Gets North America's First Look At Noel Gallagher's New Band

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

(Aug 30, 2011)
Noel Gallagher's coming at you.  Toronto loves British bands and lovedNoel%20Gallagher_small Oasis in particular - this guy notwithstanding - so it's no surprise that Oasis songwriter and bon mot master Noel Gallagher is giving us first look at his new band, High Flying Birds. High Flying Birds play Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 at Massey Hall to kick off their North American tour; tickets on sale Sept. 9 from Ticketmaster, Livenation, masseyhall.com and roythomson.com ... all fans are advised to get them early, but once you're there, stay in your seat, OK?

Nick Ashford Has Gone Home

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Aug 31, 2011) *The 1500 seat Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York was filled with mourners, fans, and relatives who gathered to remember the legendary singer and songwriter Nick Ashford. Known for his classic lyrics and songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the singer died last week after battling throat cancer, leaving behind his two daughters and wife and best friend, Valerie Simpson. “I’ve got a lot to say about a great man,” Simpson reflected on her husband moments after playing an emotionally filled tribute at the piano. “He was my soulmate. He was the man of my life.” Renown pastor Calvin Butts presided over the funeral that included friends Roberta Flack, Phylicia Rashad, choreographer George Faison and actress Tichina Arnold. “You and Nick showed so much love to people you didn’t even know” Arnold told Valerie Simpson before going into a tribute of “I’m Too Close.” The service was originally set to take place Saturday, but due to Hurricane Irene, the funeral was postponed. Ashford was 70.

::FILM NEWS::

TIFF Reviews: 34 Films And Counting

Source: www.thestar.com

(Aug 30, 2011) Wondering what to see at September’s TorontoPina%203D_small International Film Festival? Here is a selection of capsule reviews by Star movie critics and entertainment writers. Titles of recommended movies are preceded by a . Find screening times and other festival information here.

L’Apollonide (House of Tolerance): In the room the whores come and go, talking of johns they know (sorry, J. Alfred Prufrock!). Set in a Parisian brothel at the dawn of the 20th century, it’s the story of a facially disfigured prostitute (Alice Barnole) with more than the usual reasons to hate men. She has plenty of like-minded company. There’s some powerful sexual imagery, which we’ve come to expect from French director Bertrand Bonello, and the production design impeccably evokes both the era and the world’s oldest profession. But the overall effect is soporific, like staring at a series of paintings. Peter Howell

The Artist: A monochrome silent film in 2011? It’s a gimmick, maybe, but so very smart and entertaining you can’t fault it. Michel Hazanavicius’s comic melodrama is set in the Hollywood of the late 1920s and early 1930s, when silent film is being replaced by “the Talkies.” Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Béjo play actors on either side of the tech divide: he’s a silent star in the Douglas Fairbanks mould; she’s a fast-rising beauty who’s built to be both seen and heard. The film’s an exceedingly ambitious and retro project, lensed in the square-screen mode of 1930s cinema. The production design is immaculate, from the flapper dresses and vintage autos down to Béjo’s painted-on beauty spot. The wordless conceit doesn’t overwhelm emotion; Ludovic Bource’s brilliant score pays subtle tribute to films of all eras. TIFF-goers will be talking about this one. P.H.

Breakaway: Set in Greater Toronto’s émigré Indo-Canadian community, a young Sikh hockey player decides to form his own team after being rejected by a racist coach from the rival Hammerheads. But he has to do it behind his disapproving father’s back and with the help of an ex-NHLer/Zamboni driver (played by Rob Lowe.) who agrees to coach the Speedy Singhs. Vinay Virmani is an appealing hero and comedian Russell Peters is a pompous comic foil. With the outcome never in doubt, director Robert Lieberman keeps the tone light and exuberant. There’s also a great Bollywood-style dance number on ice. Bruce DeMara

The Cat Vanishes (El gato desaparece): Respected professor Luis (Luis Luque) is released from a psychiatric unit in Buenos Aires after suddenly turning on a colleague in a paranoid frenzy. But he’s better now. At least his wife Beatriz (Beatriz Spelzini) sure hopes so. But then their cat, Donatello, takes a swipe at Luis and then goes missing and Luis starts engaging in increasingly erratic behaviour. Director Carlos Sorin keeps the mood light in this quirky comic thriller. Linda Barnard

Death of a Superhero: “Life is a sexually transmitted disease,” Irish teen Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) tells his counsellor (Andy Serkis) and the cynicism is understandable. Donald has leukemia, currently in remission, but he’s convinced it will return — and so are the vicious cartoon creations he’s sketched, which come vividly to life to challenge him. Donald has something almost as pressing as death on his mind: he’s a virgin, and doesn’t want to die that way. The cliché-ridden screenplay and Ian FitzGibbon’s unsteady direction lets the film down, but impressive newcomer Brodie-Sangster never does. P.H.

Doppelganger Paul: A comedy about modern alienation and loneliness, but also the peculiar vagaries of modern male bonding. After a moment of mortality involving an energy drink (don’t ask), introverted and unpublished author Karl (Tygh Runyan) begins stalking Paul (Brad Dryborough), a machinist he considers to be his doppelganger. The two don’t really look alike at all, but they share foibles in common. They become uncomfortable allies when a bizarre act of plagiarism sends them on a road trip to Oregon. The tone set by co-directors Dylan Akio Smith and Kris Elgstrand is wacky, but the film’s depiction of the complications of male friendship is right on the money. P.H.

Drive: Wham, bam, thank you, man! Ryan Gosling rocks like a young Steve McQueen or Robert De Niro, playing a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for criminals. The film rolls like a hybrid of Bullitt and Taxi Driver, with Gosling stepping up his game and demonstrating his chops as an action hero in the speak-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick vein. The casting is great overall, but another brilliant stroke is the choice of funnyman Albert Brooks as a brutal L.A. dealmaker. Nicolas Winding Refn won directing prize at Cannes, well deserved. P.H.

Footnote: Father-son rivalry, wise with savage comic sense, in this perceptive work by Israeli writer/director Joseph Cedar. Talmudic scholar Prof. Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba) has toiled without trumpets for decades on his arcane comparisons of sacred text, gaining little more than a footnote’s worth of recognition. His hotshot son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), meanwhile, has been knocking out award-winning books on more accessible aspects of Talmudic culture. Egos, family tensions and conflicting notions of truth erupt when the awarding of the prestigious Israel Prize forces a reckoning. P.H.

The Good Son: After her latest film flops, a self-absorbed actress retreats to her country home with her two sons in tow, the youngest a quiet, studious boy, the elder a petulant teenager with an explosive temper who’s a little too protective of mom, especially when a writer comes for a party and decides to linger. Writer/director Zaida Bergroth creates a number of memorable characters but some might find the conclusion rather anti-climatic. B.D.

Le Havre: An exceeding droll comedy from Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki, so charming in its retro manners and cares. Set in the French port city of the title, André Wilms stars as wily old shoeshiner Marcel, who dodges cops and annoyed shopkeepers as he cheerily dispenses polish and eccentric homespun philosophy. His bonhomie is put to the test by African stowaway Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), who is sought by police after arriving via shipping container. As good as the cast is — and it includes Kati Outinen as Marcel’s patient wife and Jean-Pierre Darroussin as a big-hearted detective — it’s the deceptively passive young Miguel who anchors the film, keeping it from floating away on a cloud of absurdity. P.H.

Habibi: Two star-crossed lovers try to find love in the first fictional feature set in Gaza in more than a decade. Habibi means “beloved” and is based on a Sufi parable that predates Shakespeare. First-time feature director and former journalist Susan Youssef does a remarkable job of updating the classic story of tragic and undying love from a beautiful woman and a brooding suitor. Poet Qays (Kais Nashif) writes graffiti on walls to get the notice of his lover Layla (Maisa Abd Elhadi). But religion and the boundaries of class get in the way. Elhadi, who has an upcoming role in World War Z with Brad Pitt, shines in the role. Tony Wong

i am a good person/ i am a bad person: A sure-footed film about finding yourself off balance. Toronto filmmaker Ingrid Veninger and her actress daughter Hallie Switzer travelled the world last year as they promoted Modra, their well-received collaboration about personal discoveries abroad. i am a good person / i am a bad person takes it one meta step further, by chronicling the maybe-not-so-fictional relationship of a harried filmmaker (Veninger) and her rebellious daughter (Switzer) as they promote their film in Europe. As Sofia Coppola did for Lost in Translation, Veninger uses naturalistic acting, keen cultural observations and deadpan comedy to excellent effect. P.H.

In Darkness: As Nazi soldiers begin the brutal extermination of the Jewish residents of Lvov, Poland in 1943, a city maintenance worker and part-time thief agrees to hide 11 of them in the city’s foul underground sewer system — for a price. But Leopold Socha (played powerfully by Robert Wieckiewicz) must set aside old loyalties and confront his own racism to find his long-buried humanity. Director Agnieszka Holland recreates the period with grim realism. Based on a true story. B.D.

Keyhole: “I feel charged!” says the man in the electric chair. A great Guy Maddin film will do that to you — and make no mistake, this is one of his great ones. Maddin’s mad mélange of melodramatic ghosts and meddlesome mobsters frames a memory tour like none other, exploding two genres with one powerful pop. Jason Patric is Homer-iffic as Ulysses, a charismatic gangster whose violent personal odyssey returns him to his haunted home, therein to confront the restless spirits and animated bodies who haunt him. P.H.

The Kid with a Bike: Belgian auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne turn ordinary drama into cinema gold, especially when they build their films around a charismatic kid — and the two-wheeled one of this Cannes competition gem is a real find. Thomas Doret is Cyril, a 12-year-old abandoned by his immature dad, who is determined to make things right no matter how wrong it may seem to others. The red-haired rouser tears around town on and off his bike, commanding the screen in a way that recalls Jean-Pierre Léaud in The 400 Blows. P.H.

Leave It on the Floor: Low-budget, campy musical set in the ballroom culture of L.A.’s gay and transgender community. The dance performances and strong singing voices of some cast (including lost boy Ephraim Sykes, the best of the lot, and Toronto’s sassy Miss Barbie-Q as a den mother of the House of Eminence) can’t make up for the woeful lack of acting talent and terrible script. Occasionally it verges on the unwatchable but you can’t accuse the cast and first-time director, Toronto’s Sheldon Larry, of lacking enthusiasm. This is TIFF version of a slab of cheesecake with whipped cream and sprinkles: a colourful, terrible treat you may regret consuming. L.B.

Lena: Overweight and unconnected due to a mixture of shyness and defiance, 17-year-old Lena (Emma Levie) lives with her overbearing Polish mother and often trades sex for love, or some version of it, in this drama by Christophe Van Rompaey. But when she meets handsome petty criminal Daan and moves in with him and his lonely musician father, perhaps she has found acceptance and respect at last. Shot in black-and-white in Dutch with subtitles. L.B.

Machine Gun Preacher: There’s nothing subtle about the latest from director Marc Forster (The Kite Runner), based on the true story of abusive, violent biker-turned-preacher Sam Childers, who takes his crusade to the children of Sudan. Gerard Butler plays the preacher-on-a-mission who walks away from his old life to give a new one to the small victims of civil war. L.B.

Melancholia: Lars von Trier finds grand science friction at world’s end, with sisters and planets colliding. The mercurial Dane sets a fractious family wedding amidst impending global doom, threatened by a rogue sphere heading towards Earth. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg are squabbling sibs with personal issues of greater import to them than The End, and the film never quite lives up to The Start: an incredible series of dreamlike tableaux set to Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde.” But how could you top that, anyway? Von Trier remains a potent writer/director and master manipulator of images and moods. P.H.

Michael: On the surface, pedophile Michael (Michael Fuith) seems an ordinary 35-year-old insurance adjuster. He provides the necessities of life, and even a few luxuries, for Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger), the 10-year-old he has kidnapped and sexually molests. Wolfgang has learned to be submissive to avoid worsening his situation. We aren’t shown the sex acts; imagining them makes them all the more horrific. This is the banality of evil, brought to the screen yet closer to reality than we like to admit. First-time writer/director Markus Schleinzer is the casting director for fellow Austrian Michael Haneke, the artisan of mundane terror, and he has learned well from the master. Devastating. P.H.

Miss Bala: Soft-spoken Laura (Stephanie Sigman in a breakout role) dreams of a beauty queen crown but a calamitous turn of events puts her in the middle of Mexico’s ongoing drug wars. In the space of a day she goes from innocent to gang driver and mule, powerless to escape and terrified by the carnage she’s seen. Sigman’s almost-wordless performance is riveting. L.B.

Monsieur Lazhar: A distraught elementary schoolteacher commits suicide in her Montreal classroom; what should we tell the children? There are no heroes or villains in Philippe Falardeau’s masterful drama, just adults and kids struggling with a reality shaded by euphemisms and secrets. Algerian actor Fellag is outstanding as the immigrant teacher wounded by life but determined to help others. Equally impressive are the young actors whom Falardeau guides to poignant performances. P.H.

Nuit #1: A claustrophobic study, by first-time Canadian writer-director Anne Émond, of a pair of supposedly amoral, 30-something ravers. Their sweaty one-night stand in a filthy Montreal apartment shifts from athletic sex — complete with well-exposed bits — to a series of long, enervating and eventually meaningless monologues in which the wannabe graphic artist (Dimitri Storoge) and Grade 3 schoolteacher (Catherine De Léan) contemplate the emptiness of their lives, their spirit-numbing ennui and mutual fear of commitment. Existentialism 101 for Gen Y-ers. French with subtitles. Greg Quill

The Odds: What begins with teens betting on the outcome of wrestling matches via text messages in the stands of a Vancouver high school gym evolves into illegal rec-room poker games for underage gamblers, spiralling debt and the death of Barry, a 17-year-old gambler. Was it suicide or murder? His best friend Desson (Tom Cruise lookalike, newcomer Tyler Johnston in a breakout role) needs to find out. The debut feature from writer-director Simon Davidson occasionally strays into after-school-special territory, but the idea is fresh and topical and the cast solid. L.B.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: Painstaking but gorgeously realized police procedural that you might call CSI: Turkey. Masterfully rendered by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the poet of the long take. Literal darkness shrouds much of the proceedings, as a missing corpse prompts a late-night quest by an intense doctor and prosecuting attorney, bumptious cops and two murder suspects, all probing not just the Anatolian steppes but also their own troubled psyches. At a running time of nearly three hours and with a deliberately measured pace, some stoicism is necessary. Settle in; you’ll be glad you did. P.H.

Oslo, August 31: From Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s nostalgia-laden opening shots of his lead character’s past life, and the drug-addicted and suicidal hero’s opening gambit — Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) walks into a river in the dog days of summer with his pockets full of stones and carrying a large hunk of granite — it’s clear we’re not in for an uplifting cinematic experience. To his credit Trier sidesteps both sentimentality and sophistry. But nothing and no one can shake the addict’s suspicions that life without drugs is banal and not worth the commitment. Oslo, August 31 is hard to take, its rawness only occasionally relieved by beautifully constructed shots of Norway’s capital in glorious late-summer light. G.Q.

Pariah: Writer/director Dee Rees delivers a searing but satisfying coming-of-age film about a Brooklyn teenager struggling to come to terms with being a lesbian. Adepero Oduye, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a young Whoopi Goldberg, plays Alike to soulful perfection, a budding dub poet torn between her desires and the strict Christian ethos espoused by her mother. The supporting cast is uniformly solid. Rees’ script confronts homophobia in the African-American community head-on while refusing to deliver a feel-good ending. B.D.

Pina 3D: Utterly mesmerizing, both in its subject matter — a tribute to the monumental work of radical German dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch by the Tanztheater Wuppertal troupe, which she oversaw for 36 years till her death in 2009 — and its unconventional, immersive cinematic exposition, director Wim Wenders’ masterful performance opus/investigative documentary plumbs the depths of Bausch’s methods, brilliance and mystique, with enriching results. G.Q.

Pink Ribbons Inc.: Destined to be a talked-about title at TIFF, director Léa Pool goes beyond the territory covered in Samantha King’s book Pink Ribbons, Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy to explore how breast-cancer fundraising has left the early activists behind in a cloud of pink dust. How can you fight for a cure when you don’t know the cause, Pool’s interview subjects wonder? And why are some corporations that fundraise for breast-cancer research producing products that include ingredients or additives linked to cancer? Patients, activists, fundraisers and thousands of women who are doing all they can to raise money and awareness get their say in this intriguing doc that will have you talking long after the lights come up. L.B.

The Skin I Live In: Weird science and kinkier sex in this suspenser from Pedro Almodovar, as he turns more Ed Wood than Hollywood. Based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel Tarantula, but also by way of Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face, it’s the disquieting tale of a Spanish plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas) who seeks to invent artificial human skin by radical methods. His home laboratory includes a beautiful and suicidal occupant named Vera (Elena Anaya), who assists but also seduces. The film has more twists than a bull’s neck and mucho visual polish, but it’s more freaky than frightful, a “B” picture by an “A” director. P.H.

Snows of Kilimanjaro: This Cannes crowd-pleaser, about Marseille shipyard workers trying to find their feet in the aftermath of layoffs, offers several pleasing twists and some probing moral questions to ponder. Focusing on a newly downsized union rep and his devoted wife (a luminous and fiery Ariane Ascaride) who endure a home-invasion robbery, nothing is what it seems in this tale. Director Robert Guédiguian captivates. L.B.

Take This Waltz: Writer-director Sarah Polley has few equals when it comes to peering with unblinking honesty into the workings of relationships (Away From Her). With Take This Waltz she exposes the life of young married Margot (a superb Michelle Williams), who finds herself unable to stop thinking about Daniel, the guy across the street (Luke Kirby), while her distracted husband Lou (Seth Rogen) bumbles along unaware. Their unfulfilled sexual chemistry crackles and for the first time, Margot deals with temptation as she faces a man who hints he may be her equal — if only she knew what that might be. Sarah Silverman has a satisfying small but pivotal role as Lou’s recovering alcoholic sister. Considerable female nudity and explicit sex scenes are also a departure for Polley. A colourful, romantic film studded with music, raucous joy and careful, quiet moments, all set in Toronto’s funky west-end neighbourhoods. L.B.

Undefeated: This documentary follows a year in the life of a high-school football team in a working class, mainly African-American community in Memphis, Tenn., led by a volunteer coach named Bill Courtney, who after six seasons finds he has to start looking after his own family. Courtney’s lesson to the young athletes who revere him is not typically American but it is inspiring: that victory isn’t always about winning; it’s about how one confronts and deals with the adversity that life dishes out. B.D.

We Need to Talk About Kevin: Scotland’s Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar, Ratcatcher) breaks a nine-year silence with her take on the phenomenon of school shootings. She examines it from the point of view of parents left emotionally and physical brutalized by the aftermath. Ramsay’s flair for visuals is almost too effective, since it tilts the film more toward straight horror than the mother-son tragedy Ramsay was seeking to make. There’s no quibbling, however, over the excellence of the acting by leads Tilda Swinton and casting find Ezra Miller. P.H.

Chasing Madoff: A Hero By The Numbers

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

Chasing Madoff
A documentary about Harry Markopolos and his struggle to expose Bernie Madoff. Directed by Jeff Prosserman. Opens Friday at the Varsity, Empire Empress Walk. 91 minutes. G

(Aug 25, 2011) As the lights came up in the Varsity theatre after
Chasing%20Madoff_small Chasing Madoff, the opening night film at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival in May, a tall man in a rumpled tan jacket stood in front of the screen and uncomfortably received a standing ovation from the packed theatre.

The audience had just finished watching a story about him, Harry Markopolos, someone who could be described as the world’s most tenacious man. The 54-year-old Boston accountant and financial investigator spent 10 years struggling to make the U.S. government hear and act on his assertion that Bernie Madoff was a crook and running a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors.

A man at the back of the theatre called him a hero, but Markopolos, the very definition of an honourable man — as Toronto director Jeff Prosserman’s superb documentary Chasing Madoff makes clear — shook his head. For one thing, he said quietly, he was fearful for his safety. Heroes are brave. For another, he didn’t persuade the Securities and Exchange Commission to bust Madoff. The fraudster finally confessed and was arrested in 2008.

Now Chasing Madoff finally hits theatres, a story as compelling as any detective yarn with an arrogant bad guy who could have come right from Hollywood and a real-life hero on his tail.

Prosserman uses clever visual tricks: newsreel footage, quick hits and fanciful imagery to keep the movie engaging. Interviews are brief, more like sound bites, but contain useful pieces of information that move the story along in dramatic fashion. He adds a Sam Spade film-noir feel by shooting black-and-white scenes of Markopolos with Venetian blind-style lighting. You half expect someone nicknamed “Dollface” to walk in with a mug of joe.

The fanciful elements of Chasing Madoff up the entertainment ante, but at the heart of the film is Prosserman’s telling of Markopolos’s story. The numbers whiz described by colleagues as a “loveable, affable geek” knew “in four minutes” the Madoff investment fund was a fraud the first time he saw it on paper. The performance line detailing the fund was “straight up,” recalled Markopolos. “It looked like nothing from finance I had ever seen.”

Put it this way, he explained to his colleague Frank Casey: If Madoff was a ball player, he’d have a .964 batting average.

“It was pretty clear it was a fraud,” says Markopolos.

Clear to him and a few who believed him, but not worth looking at as far as the government was concerned. Shockingly, the SEC never bothered to do third-party checks on the trades Madoff claimed to be making. It gave the fund the green light and investors continued writing cheques. After all, when Uncle Sam says a fund is solid, why question it?

Markopolos wrote a detailed report about Madoff for the SEC in 2000. It did nothing. He wrote more, each with more facts and examples of why the fund was a paper tiger. He gave the story to financial magazine Forbes. The publisher spiked it. Meanwhile, Markopolos continued his investigations and turned up even more shocking evidence. Fearful for his safety for blowing the whistle over and over on the bad guys and hearing nobody answer, he also bought guns for himself and his wife and took to checking his car for bombs.

Sandwiched in between the Madoff chase are quick explanations of everything from what is the SEC to how to run a Ponzi scheme, along with moving interviews with those who were victims of the scam. “The retirement is never,” one man says with a sigh.

Markopolos finally got some satisfaction when he testified before a 2009 congressional hearing into the SEC’s bungling of the Madoff matter, revealing it ignored repeated and detailed warnings from Markopolos that laid out Madoff’s scam, chapter and verse.

Madoff is currently serving a 150-year jail term. But Chasing Madoff concludes with disheartening evidence that the scams continue. The head of the snake has been cut off but the body still lives.

Like last year’s Wall Street docs Inside Job and Client 9, Chasing Madoff will make you both incredulous and very angry. But it will also make you feel admiration for the hero of the piece. Whether Markopolos likes it or not, he is just that.

Chasing Madoff: A Hero By The Numbers

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

Chasing Madoff
A documentary about Harry Markopolos and his struggle to expose Bernie Madoff. Directed by Jeff Prosserman. Opens Friday at the Varsity, Empire Empress Walk. 91 minutes. G

(Aug 25, 2011) As the lights came up in the Varsity theatre after
Chasing Madoff, the opening night film at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival in May, a tall man in a rumpled tan jacket stood in front of the screen and uncomfortably received a standing ovation from the packed theatre.

The audience had just finished watching a story about him, Harry Markopolos, someone who could be described as the world’s most tenacious man. The 54-year-old Boston accountant and financial investigator spent 10 years struggling to make the U.S. government hear and act on his assertion that Bernie Madoff was a crook and running a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors.

A man at the back of the theatre called him a hero, but Markopolos, the very definition of an honourable man — as Toronto director Jeff Prosserman’s superb documentary Chasing Madoff makes clear — shook his head. For one thing, he said quietly, he was fearful for his safety. Heroes are brave. For another, he didn’t persuade the Securities and Exchange Commission to bust Madoff. The fraudster finally confessed and was arrested in 2008.

Now Chasing Madoff finally hits theatres, a story as compelling as any detective yarn with an arrogant bad guy who could have come right from Hollywood and a real-life hero on his tail.

Prosserman uses clever visual tricks: newsreel footage, quick hits and fanciful imagery to keep the movie engaging. Interviews are brief, more like sound bites, but contain useful pieces of information that move the story along in dramatic fashion. He adds a Sam Spade film-noir feel by shooting black-and-white scenes of Markopolos with Venetian blind-style lighting. You half expect someone nicknamed “Dollface” to walk in with a mug of joe.

The fanciful elements of Chasing Madoff up the entertainment ante, but at the heart of the film is Prosserman’s telling of Markopolos’s story. The numbers whiz described by colleagues as a “loveable, affable geek” knew “in four minutes” the Madoff investment fund was a fraud the first time he saw it on paper. The performance line detailing the fund was “straight up,” recalled Markopolos. “It looked like nothing from finance I had ever seen.”

Put it this way, he explained to his colleague Frank Casey: If Madoff was a ball player, he’d have a .964 batting average.

“It was pretty clear it was a fraud,” says Markopolos.

Clear to him and a few who believed him, but not worth looking at as far as the government was concerned. Shockingly, the SEC never bothered to do third-party checks on the trades Madoff claimed to be making. It gave the fund the green light and investors continued writing cheques. After all, when Uncle Sam says a fund is solid, why question it?

Markopolos wrote a detailed report about Madoff for the SEC in 2000. It did nothing. He wrote more, each with more facts and examples of why the fund was a paper tiger. He gave the story to financial magazine Forbes. The publisher spiked it. Meanwhile, Markopolos continued his investigations and turned up even more shocking evidence. Fearful for his safety for blowing the whistle over and over on the bad guys and hearing nobody answer, he also bought guns for himself and his wife and took to checking his car for bombs.

Sandwiched in between the Madoff chase are quick explanations of everything from what is the SEC to how to run a Ponzi scheme, along with moving interviews with those who were victims of the scam. “The retirement is never,” one man says with a sigh.

Markopolos finally got some satisfaction when he testified before a 2009 congressional hearing into the SEC’s bungling of the Madoff matter, revealing it ignored repeated and detailed warnings from Markopolos that laid out Madoff’s scam, chapter and verse.

Madoff is currently serving a 150-year jail term. But Chasing Madoff concludes with disheartening evidence that the scams continue. The head of the snake has been cut off but the body still lives.

Like last year’s Wall Street docs Inside Job and Client 9, Chasing Madoff will make you both incredulous and very angry. But it will also make you feel admiration for the hero of the piece. Whether Markopolos likes it or not, he is just that.

With Boost From Hollywood, Star-Studded Venice Festival Gets Its Mojo Back

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(August 26, 2011) The Venice film festival has rediscovered itsgeorge%20clooney3_small movie mojo this year, putting high costs and growing competition from Toronto aside to provide a line-up full of hotly anticipated titles and big Hollywood stars.

George Clooney, a regular favourite on the Lido island where the world’s oldest film festival is held, kicks off the glamorous 11-day event on Wednesday with The Ides of March, a political drama which he also directed.

His cast includes Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman, part of a roll-call of A-listers that includes Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and pop superstar Madonna.

“I don’t recall a time when so many people have been so excited by a line-up and that is across the board,” said Jay Weissberg, film critic for Hollywood trade publication Variety who is a Venice festival regular.

“There’s a nice Hollywood contingent which is composed of directors and stars like Clooney who appeal to a very broad range of both festival insiders and the general public,” he said. “But it is more than just Hollywood.”

Film makers from around the world will descend on the canal city from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10 to showcase their movies, and attend a whirlwind of photocalls, press conferences, interviews and parties.

Blockbusters rarely feature, but a slot in Venice is coveted by lower-budget U.S. productions for the exposure it brings and because it acts as the unofficial launch of the annual awards season ending with the Oscars.

Venice overlaps with the Toronto film festival, regarded by Hollywood as a cheaper alternative and featuring many of the same movies, but Venice director Marco Mueller has put together a programme that should eclipse 2010’s worryingly low-key edition.

Among the most eagerly awaited titles is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, an adaption of John Le Carre’s spy novel starring recent Oscar winner Colin Firth as well as Gary Oldman and John Hurt.

The film, directed by Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson, is one of 22 in the main Venice competition, and has already won the blessing of the British author whose The Constant Gardener also made it to the big screen.

“It’s not the film of the book,” Le Carre said in remarks carried on his website.

“It’s the film of the film, and to my eye a work of art in its own right. I’m very proud to have provided Alfredson with the material, but what he made of it is wonderfully his own.”

Other standout titles in competition include Briton Andrea Arnold’s take on the Emily Bronte novel Wuthering Heights, U.S. director Ami Canaan Mann’s Texas Killing Fields and William Friedkin’s Killer Joe.

In A Dangerous Method, Canadian David Cronenberg explores the rivalry between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud as a young woman (Knightley) comes between them.

Roman Polanski worked on the screenplay for his latest movie Carnage, featuring Winslet, Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz, while under house arrest in Switzerland last year.

The 78-year-old was eventually freed after the Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him to the United States, where he is still wanted for sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 in Los Angeles.

Acclaimed Russian director Alexander Sokurov brings Faust and Hong Kong’s Johnnie To presents Life Without Principle, a story touching on the economic crisis and its effect on ordinary people.

Outside the main lineup, Madonna makes her second foray into feature films with W.E., a drama loosely based on divorcee Wallis Simpson whose relationship with King Edward VIII led to his abdication in 1936.

Egyptian documentary Tahrir 2011 covers the revolution and overthrow of the old regime, Philippe Faucon explores radical Islam in La Desintegration and Al Pacino plays himself and King Herod in Wilde Salome.

Steven Soderbergh promises an all-star cast including Damon, Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Law and Paltrow in Contagion, about a lethal airborne virus that spreads panic.

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: The ‘I Will Follow’ Interview with Kam Williams

Source: www.eurweb.com – by Kam Williams

(August 28, 2011) *Born in Chicago on November 23, 1967, Salli Richardson-Whitfield burst onto the silver screen in 1993 in ‘Posse,” an African-American Western directed by and co-starring Mario Van Peebles. Her resume’ reveals extensive work since then in television, film and theatre.

Salli starred opposite both Denzel Washington and Will Smith, playing their wives in the films “Antwone Fisher” and “I Am Legend,” respectively. And she happily juggles such big studio assignments with interesting independent features like “Black Dynamite,” “Pastor Brown” and “We the Party.”

On TV, she  portrayed Dr. Allison Blake on the recently cancelled SyFy Network series “Eureka,” for which she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Her other television credits include a starring role as attorney Viveca Foster on “Family Law “and recurring roles on “CSI: Miami”, “Rude Awakening” and “NYPD Blue.” In addition, she guest-starred on the critically acclaimed series, “House,” and voiced the character of Elise for the animated series “Gargoyles.”

Salli resides in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Dondre Whitfield, and their two children, Parker and Dre. Here, she talks about her new film, “
I Will Follow,” an ensemble drama directed by Ava DuVernay.

Kam Williams: Hi Salli, thanks for the time.

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: Hi Kam. Happy to be here.

KW: I’ll be mixing in my questions with some sent in by fans. Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: Why this film?  What attracted you to the script?

SRW: Well, you don’t pass up roles that give you the opportunity to stretch and to grow. For black actresses in Hollywood, these kinds of parts are few and far between. Our writer/director, Ava DuVernay, did a beautiful job of creating a multi-dimensional character that shows a black woman at a crossroads and how she keeps her balance when the unexpected happens in life. The film explores love, loss, loyalty and life in general. I couldn’t pass it up, even though it scared me a little. I wondered, “Could I do this?” I’m glad I stepped in and tried. I’m very proud of what we made with this film.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: A ‘surprising thirst for life’ that follows after the death of a loved one seems so different from the reports of depression and loss of interest in life that so many people experience. How does “I Will Follow” reconcile this?

SRW: ”I Will Follow” is a celebration of life.  Sometimes when you lose something, you understand its value more than when you had it. The same is true for life.  When a loved one passes, there are mixed emotions and a thirst to live one’s own life more deeply can certainly be among them.

KW: How did you prepare for the role of Maye?

SRW: It was tough.  From the time I first met Ava, the director, to the first day of shooting was only a week, if that. It was a very fast, very creative, very organic process. My manager pushed me to dive in with both feet. The director knew what she wanted. And with the encouragement and the support of both, I decided I was going to give it my all – and I did.

KW: What would you say is the film’s message?

SRW: I hope people come see “I Will Follow” when it opens on March 11 and find their own lesson in the film. It will speak to everyone differently. That’s the power and the magic of film.

KW: What was it like working with Ava DuVernay as a director?

SRW: She is wonderful.  Very focused.  Like I said, she knows what she wants. Every director, believe it or not, does not have a clear vision. And without a clear vision, the captain can’t steer the ship. She guided the ship smoothly.  She was kind and patient and encouraging, but very clear on where we were all going. She was also very open to ideas. She certainly didn’t seem like a first-time narrative director. She has a bright future.

KW: What challenges did you face in shooting a full-length feature film in just 15 days?

See the full interview by Kam Williams HERE.

The Guard: Pounding The Beat In The Bog And Peat

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

The Guard
Starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong and Fionnula Flanagan. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. 96 minutes. Opens Aug. 26 at the Cumberland. 14A

(Aug 25, 2011) Brendan Gleeson is a blooming marvel.
Don%20Cheadle%20Brendan%20Gleeson_small
Consigned to the most unlikeable of roles and dodgiest of scripts, usually playing some variant of a gangster, rogue or schemer, the Irish charmer almost always manages to bust out and win us over.

His latest magic act is
The Guard, a pot that would otherwise boil over, were it not for Gleeson’s anchoring and highly amusing presence.

We should despise his Sgt. Gerry Boyle, a longstanding but not exactly long-serving member of Galway’s police force (known locally as Garda).

He shrugs at murders and road tragedies, drinks and swears to excess, drops acid, cavorts with prostitutes, makes racist comments and generally does all he can to discredit his uniform. He’s known as “the Last of the Independents,” but what he’s mostly independent of is professional discipline.

But it’s impossible to hate him, or even dislike him, and Boyle isn’t all bad. He looks after his dotty old mother (Fionnula Flanagan) and women in trouble (Katarina Cas), and he’s nobody’s fool when it comes to sussing out the real story behind a caper.

Such as why the FBI has arrived on the green hills of Galway, in the person of straight-arrow Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), to investigate a drug-smuggling operation that might seem to be more of an Irish concern than an American one. Why is Uncle Sam nosing about the western wilds of Ireland, apart from playing straight man to Gerry Boyle?

But this is no ordinary drug operation. The street value of the dope in question is reportedly worth $500 million — although Boyle scoffs at that — and the deal may have something to do with a messy murder investigated (if you can call it that) by Boyle and his nervous new partner (Rory Keenan).

The Guard isn’t a whodunit by any stretch of the imagination. More character study than police procedural, and more comic than its pile of bodies might otherwise indicate, it’s really just a chance for writer and first-time director John Michael McDonagh to bust his best Tarantino moves.

The film’s three major baddies — played by Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham and David Wilmot — are hardly figures of mystery, as they make their menacing way through Galway and environs.

Both crooks and cops seem unlikely students of culture. They drop references to Dostoevsky, Nietzsche and the Dalai Lama that aren’t often heard on the police beat. (Neither is “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep,” the 1971 British novelty hit that makes it onto the eccentric soundtrack.)

Strong’s character actually has an existential moment, complaining to his fellow villains that their illicit work is “all so effing meaningless.”

They might just be able to get away with murder, and more, especially since Boyle’s police comrades seem eager to look the other way, if there’s cash or personal gain involved.

Something in Boyle can’t stand the thought of somebody getting away with something, unless he’s the one who’s doing the getting away. He may be a bad cop, but he’s a great detective and there are some lines he won’t cross.

He’s also managed to make an unlikely ally of Everett, who is willing to ignore Boyle’s bluster when the chips are down and the guns are smoking.

Cheadle in some ways has a thankless job in The Guard, because he’s required to mainly react to Gleeson. But the two make a great pair as sleuths seeking justice from different directions.

If a sequel could somehow be conjured to reunite this pair, we’d have definite cause to raise a glass of Guinness to the idea.

FILM TIDBITS

Beyonce’s Pregnancy May Push Back Her Next Film

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 29, 2011) *Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke is reporting thatbeyonce-pregnant_small Beyonce’s pregnancy may affect production on her upcoming film — ironically, a remake of “A Star is Born.” Finke reported Sunday night… I’ve learned that Warner Bros was hoping to start production on Clint Eastwood’s musical remake of A Star Is Born as early as February 2012. But now insiders tell me it “could push” because Beyoncé announced her pregnancy tonight at MTV’s VMAs.  That will give the studio more time to settle on a male co-star for the singer/actress since Eastwood’s first choice, Leonardo DiCaprio, isn’t doing the pic. (Clint used his time with Leo on the studio’s J Edgar Hoover biopic to discuss A Star Is Born.) The project, which has been at WB for several years, has generated talk of pairing Beyoncé with Will Smith and with Christian Bale and with lots of other leading men. Beyoncé and Jay-Z wed in April 2008: he’s a good actor so I say give him the role. Clint is producing through Malpaso as well as helming the script by Will Fetters. Producers are Billy Gerber and Basil Iwanyk and Jon Peters (who made the infamous 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson). There has been a trio of A Star Is Born versions made since the 1930s. Or even  quartet if you consider What Price Hollywood (1932) made by George Cukor, which is often forgotten.

Contagion Studio Does Some Real "Viral" Marketing

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


(Aug 30, 2011) Call it viral, or maybe bacterial, marketing, movie studio Warner Bros. Pictures Canada is using some weird science to plug Steven Soderbergh's latest,
Contagion (and if you believe the rumours, possibly his last if the director is hanging it all up to become an artist, as he's been hinting). Warner Bros. teamed up with microbiologists and immunologists to create a bacteria message in two large Petri dishes in an abandoned storefront window at 409 Queen St. W.  The dishes are playing host to penicillin, mould and "pigmented bacteria" to let you watch the spread of a virus. In the movie, opening Sept. 9, Gwyneth Paltrow is patient zero as a nasty killer bug spreads worldwide. Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Kate Winslet also star. Those who head down to watch the stuff mutate Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will get more than a gross floor show. The first 50 people there get passes to see Contagion. Or you can watch from the bacteria-free safety of your home at ” the Warner Bros. Canada website and Facebook page  later in the week. 

Video: Drive Is Already A Hit -- It's Part Of A Star Wars Mash-Up

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Peter Howell

(Aug 29, 2011) The Ryan Gosling action movie Drive is a hit even before it makes its NorthRyan%20Gosling%20in%20Drive_small American debut at TIFF next month. You can tell because there's already a Star Wars mash-up of it, made by some clever duck. Gosling's voice comes out of Harrison Ford's lips as Ford's Han Solo takes the Millennium Falcon for a spin. Albert Brooks' voice burbles out of Jabba the Hutt as two villains on either side of the cosmos shake down their prey.

::TV NEWS::    

Sitcom Sidekick Now A Real Royal Pain

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Aug 30, 2011) There must be something in
Brampton’s water. Paulo%20Costanzo%20and%20Brooke%20DOrsay_small

The city has become a breeding ground for successful young actors: Michael Cera, the poster-boy of earnest young movie males; Tyler Labine, the lumpy, dishevelled sitcom smartass, a recent casualty of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes; the Ashmore acting twins, Shawn and Aaron, Brampton-raised and respectively heroic in the X-Men movies and Smallville series . . . and, before them, leading the way, the international comedy superstar Russell Peters.

Also
Paulo Costanzo, the Brampton-born co-star of Royal Pains, one of the highest-rated series on American cable, which arrives Wednesday night on its new Canadian home, Showcase.

“It’s not the water,” Costanzo says. “It’s Brampton.”

Although, he reluctantly suggests, it’s less about coming from there than it is about leaving.

“I don’t want to bash Brampton,” he insists. “Apparently, it’s growing. It’s better. So no offence to Brampton. My mom still lives there.

“But I hated growing up there. I got mugged in Brampton. I got hit by a car in Brampton. So in my mind, it was more about escape . . . escaping to another land.”

That land being Los Angeles and a successful career as a comedy wingman: roommate to Josh Hartnett in 40 Days and 40 Nights, and to Breckin Meyer in Road Trip; and naive nephew to Matt LeBlanc on the famously Friend-less sitcom spinoff, Joey . . .

And currently, he’s the scheming younger brother to disgraced doctor Mark Feuerstein on Royal Pains, a Hamptons-set dramedy about the rich and unhealthy.

But the role, he says, has progressed from its support status in the series’ first season to a more substantial character with motivations, complications and plot lines of his own.

“The first season I very much was the charming, funny, kind of annoying, superficial younger brother,” he allows. “The second season, which is where you’ll be starting here in Canada, the writers really decided to evolve the character.

“I was growing up myself, as a person . . . I moved to New York, I have a wife now . . . I was (also) moving forward as a human being.

“And they tapped into that and wrote it into the character. And now, instead of just being the little brother guy, I have my own story. I have my own love interest.”

A love interest played, significantly, by a young actress named Brooke D’Orsay.

“I met her,” Costanzo wryly recalls, “and we were talking, just about random stuff, and I asked her where she was from . . .

“And she says, ‘I’m Canadian. I’m from Brampton, Ontario.’ And I’m, like, ‘No you’re not!’ But she is. She was born maybe three miles from where I used to live.”

Like I said, something in the water.

THE RABBIT DIES The time has come for Canadian television to make the big switcheroo from analog to digital.

I really should have a better grasp of exactly what that means. I have had it explained to me, several times, by more savvy (as in younger) acquaintances. It sounds simple enough. And I’m sure that it is. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around why.

Of this much I am fairly sure: If, on Wednesday, you turn on your TV and all you see is snow, and it’s not just one of those polar bear shows on one of the cable nature channels, chances are you are due for a digital upgrade.

And that’s gonna cost you, though not necessarily much. You’ll still be able to get stuff free over the air. You’ll just need a digital converter to watch it.

Chances are you already have one or your TV set is one, or you are already paying for digital delivery via satellite or cable, or you opt for one of the technological alternatives that they tell me this whole deal is actually intended to accommodate.

But it’s the end of the line for that rusty old rooftop antenna your dad installed, and those bent, broken college-dorm rabbit ears (or their wire-hanger equivalent).

There will no doubt be a period of adjustment — it took the Americans several tries to get this right.

And remember how fast they gave up on going metric.

See a video of Rob Salem’s interview with Paulo Costanzo at http://bit.ly/nD2kfc.

The Big Interview: Don McKellar

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Aug 26, 2011) OTTAWA — Don McKellar and I are getting veryDon%20McKellar_small close.

The major reason is that we’re sitting in a minuscule cubicle that passes for his trailer on the set of the new CBC series,
Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, a few miles from our nation’s capital.

How cramped is it? Think back to the old Henny Youngman one-liner about the house he owned that was so small “you had to go outside to change your mind.”

No chance of that happening here. McKellar, despite the scattered impression he gives on series like Twitch City and Slings and Arrows, has a mind like a steel trap and the unique ability to take a conversation on journeys so convoluted you’d normally need a GPS to help you find the way.

But that’s the other reason we’re becoming more intimate: McKellar and his work are very intimately entwined and an in-depth discussion of one inevitably leads to revelations about the other.

It’s all part of Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, a very different kind of television, which finds its roots in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and deals with the relationship of a therapist and one patient over a period of 15 years.

“It all came out of the stories Matt’s being telling us for years,” begins McKellar. Matt is Matt Watts, the actor who plays the title role in the series and also the one who inspired its creation. “Based on the neuroses of Matt Watts,” in fact, is the official credit assigned to him for the show.

“At first, all of the phobias Matt would tell us about were so absurd they were funny, but we’d gradually come to realize that there was something really happening there underneath.

“He’d tell us about his fear of small-talk, his fear of bridges, his fear of vomit. Yes, that’s a genuine problem. It’s called emetophobia. And the absurdity of it all leads you to the seriousness — that someone can be so mortally troubled about things that seem insignificant to the rest of us.”

McKellar has made such a career out of playing people on the edge, as well as writing or directing projects based on them, that it’s a pleasant surprise to discover he finds his own psychological landscape fairly placid.

“I’m honestly the least phobic person I know. If something actually happens that I should be afraid of, like a car racing toward me, I act accordingly. But I don’t spend my time worrying about if that car is going to appear just around the next corner.”

McKellar’s major partner in crime on this series is his longtime friend, Bob Martin, with whom he collaborated to Tony Award-winning success on The Drowsy Chaperone.

But they’ve actually been buddies long before that, since their days at Lawrence Park Collegiate and the closeness of their relationship as friends and colleagues is visible in the easy way they communicate on the set.

Martin is the head writer on the project as well as playing David, the psychiatrist who has spent 15 years, twice a week, probing the tormented psyche of Michael.

“Bob has been through CBT, knows his way around it and definitely believes in it, but I — although it may seem hard to believe — have never been through therapy of any kind whatsoever.

“I’ve always been intrigued by it, read a lot about it but I guess I’ve never really had the time for it and even as I say that, I realize what a lame excuse it is.”

Asking McKellar to describe the overall feeling of the show, he thinks a bit before saying what it isn’t.

“It’s less cynical than a lot of the television we’ve been exposed to lately — Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office — I feel that’s all a bit easy now. A facile kind of cynicism. Maybe this show is more like the way I am myself, kinder, gentler. If I’m going to work on a project, I want there to be something more there.”

But just so you don’t think McKellar’s incisive wit has gone on vacation, he mentions that he’s happy with the show being shot in Ottawa because “it seems like a city that needs therapy. It’s governed by that bureaucratic architecture which manages to be oppressed and oppressive at the same time.”

Watching McKellar on the set, whispering his directions to the actors, being totally involved, but strangely invisible at the same time, I was reminded of the one occasion I got to see Woody Allen directing and I mention the similarity to McKellar, who breaks into a huge grin.

“It comes back to haunt me again! When I was at summer camp, they used to call me ‘Woody’, because I reminded everybody of him and my first professional show in Toronto was at Theatre Passe Muraille, called Dischords. I was a neurotic character who played the clarinet and everybody made the Woody comparison again.

“That was the last time I ever played the clarinet in public and no one has compared me to Woody until you just now. I love his work, but that kind of thing embarrasses me.”

McKellar’s career has been enormously varied, covering theatre, film and television as well as acting, writing and directing, but rather than from any desire to seem versatile, he says “it’s all just a lifestyle thing.

“An actor’s life is very hard, always waiting for acceptance or rejection, but you never really feel like you’re unemployed when you’re writing. And while writing and acting you can feel quite powerless, directing let’s you feel you’re in charge, even though it’s often just an illusion.

“Also, directing can give you a more social side, because you’ve got to interact with other people, but when I’m writing, I tuck myself away and get fairly private. It’s all about the desire to lead a balanced life.”

That desire has been increasingly important in the last year, because his wife, Tracy Wright, died in June of 2010.

Her unspoken presence begins to fill the narrow confines of the room we’re speaking in as McKellar talks about the emotional importance to him of working on Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“To me, it has to do with the courage to face everyday life. The courage that we don’t even notice. I look at my life and ask how does anyone do it? How does anyone survive? How does it work?

“There’s little coping mechanisms we all have, but I think, ultimately it’s a huge dependence on who we have as our friends. I know they have been to me in the past year.”

McKellar even admits that “I’ve skewed the series that way, the more I come to realize it. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to continue and not just after Tracy’s death.”

The silence hangs in the space between us for a long time before he fills it.

“I think I’d undervalued her real need to work, to express herself through her art, until she couldn’t do it any more. It means a lot to me and it’s one of the reasons I took this job. I need to work.

“I think we all do.”

DON MCKELLAR’S FIVE FAVE LONGTIME FRIENDS

BOB MARTIN — McKellar’s buddy since high school, they’ve also worked together on Twitch City, Slings and Arrows and — most memorably — The Drowsy Chaperone. Plays the psychiatrist in Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

JENNIFER IRWIN — met Martin on Second City and he introduced her to McKellar, who later acted with her in Slings and Arrows. Plays Martin’s editor/lover on Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MATT WATTS — met McKellar at a dinner party hosted by Irwin. McKellar invited him to write for Twitch City and they continued their partnership on Slings and Arrows. Plays Michael on Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MARK MCKINNEY — first worked with Martin on Puppets Who Kill, then went on to work with both Martin and McKellar on Slings and Arrows. One of the writers of Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MELODY A. JOHNSON — worked with Martin on Second City, then acted with McKellar on both Twitch City and Slings and Arrows. Plays Martin’s ex-wife on Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Saul Rubinek Ready For More Paranormal Hijinks

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Aug 28, 2011) When Saul Rubinek was first offered the role of Dr.Saul%20Rubinek_small Arthur (Artie) Nielsen in the funky sci-fi series Warehouse 13, he had the temerity to ask for a rewrite.

“The problem was the role had not been written in a way that I liked. I had to go in and say, ‘Look, I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I think this is a darker character perhaps than you’re making him, so I’d like to improvise a little bit and create,’” recalled the veteran Canadian actor.

“I knew that Artie was a darker character who has a love/hate obsessive relationship with the warehouse, somebody who didn’t have a wife and kids, who’d given up his whole career as a classical musician to enter into the world of cryptology . . . and into a very secret part of the government,” Rubinek said.

Fortunately, former NBC executive Mark Stern, who was promoted to president of original programming earlier this year for the Syfy Network, which originated the series, was listening. It was Stern, who had worked with Rubinek on a couple of episodes of the resurrected Outer Limits series, who’d proposed him for the role.

“They (series creators) really liked my take on him,” Rubinek said. His character is the caretaker of sorts of Warehouse 13, a super-secret site filled with mysteriously powerful artefacts in the barrens of South Dakota. (The series is actually filmed mostly in and around Toronto and Montreal.)

The show, which premiered in the U.S. on Syfy in July 2009, aired its first two seasons on Citytv in Canada but has moved to Showcase for Season 3, which debuts Thursday at 10 p.m.

Rubinek recalled that the network was looking for a program that “had nothing to do with space and aliens, and much more to do with the world of Indiana Jones and Jules Verne and that kind of fantasy.”

The concept apparently worked.

“The audience numbers are and continue to be the biggest numbers in the history of the (SyFy) network. The reasons for that are many, but one of them certainly is the fact that the show is incredibly entertaining and funny. It has a great family feel and is great fantasy. I feel very proud of the fact that I have something to do with that.”

According to the show’s mythology, Warehouse 13 is the 13th version of a repository for artefacts that has progressed from humankind’s earliest civilizations, i.e. Mesopotamia, Greeks, Romans and Hittites up to Victorian England and, finally, the U.S.

“All the artefacts that we portray are historically accurate. There’s nothing that doesn’t come from history. We don’t make up anything; they’re all real. It’s really cool,” Rubinek said.

Rubinek refuses to be drawn into questions about his own personal superstitions. But he said he wouldn’t mind an artefact that reflects actual viewership ratings.

“Nobody under 25 watches a TV,” grumbled Rubinek, because they watch everything online, and aren’t measured in the usual viewership metrics.

“An artefact that shows how many people are actually watching the show would be very useful,” he concluded.

Tom Green - Cheese, Champagne And Spontaneity

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Aug 29, 2011) Tom Green is planning to use cheese to lure celebrities to stay and chat on his comfy couch in the first ever online show covering the Gemini Awards.

“I have decided I want lots of cheese,” says Green, in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he was performing five nights of standup.

“Jason Priestley is going to want to stay and talk when he sees all these delicious cheeses.”

And the cheese may not only be the edible kind; this is, after all, a comedian who humped a dead moose for laughs.

Green promises “lots of fun” as he hangs around a behind-the-scenes set designed to look like a talk show from the 1960s stocked with champagne and treats. While celebrities like Rick Mercer will probably wear tuxedos, Green plans to keep his wardrobe “semi-formal” and focus on the fun.

“Who knows what will happen?” Green says of the live-streamed show. “The nature of this lends itself to a fun, relaxed broadcast.”

The Tom Green Room goes online at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 at www.cbc.ca/live, one hour before the Gemini Awards, celebrating the best of Canadian television, air on CBC-TV.

It comes on the heels of massive changes in Ottawa-born Green’s life.

He dismantled his California home studio where he filmed his podcast, Tom Green’s House Tonight, for five years because it took up too much of his space. He put the show on hiatus half a year ago in spite of its popularity. His show was getting 40 million downloads a month with the most popular show, where he tattooed Kat Von D, raking in eight million viewers.

Now he’s basking in the delight of entertaining live audiences in the standup tour he is taking around the world. His standup show is being filmed this fall in Boston for a TV special in the New Year.

He’s turning to the old-school art of standup at the age of 40, after a career of embracing new media. “I was happy to be turning 40. It was a good one,” says Green, who celebrated his July 30 birthday with his girlfriend in California.

Then he took off for Scotland where he earned rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was interviewed by a journalist in the Surgeons’ Hall Museum, surrounded by gruesome surgical exhibits in jars.

“We thought that would be an interesting thing to do.”

Green also entertained troops in Afghanistan, piggybacking on a Canadian hockey old-timers’ trip with Lanny McDonald and Tiger Williams.

“I always adapt what I do and I took the political commentary out of there,” he says of the visit this past spring.

There were 5,000 troops there from Canada, Australia and Britain, says Green, whose father was a captain in the Canadian army, and served as a Canadian UN peacekeeper in Cypress and Vietnam. Green spent his childhood at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.

He made two previous trips to Kosovo and Iraq with American USO shows.

Green says he likes to think he was carrying on in “the great tradition of Bob Hope and Jack Paar, who’d go to Vietnam on those USO tours.”

Has being 40 changed his humour?

“It’s not mad and it’s not mellow. It’s high-energy. There are all types of different styles, many are happy personal aspects,” says Green, who survived testicular cancer in his 20s and mentions it in the show.

He knows people will be looking for shocks. “When I first started my TV show, it was shocking; people had never seen that before. But everyone who’s ever met me knows this (humour) is something I’ve crafted together.”

Absolutely Fabulous News: It’s Back

Source: www.thestar.com - By Reuters

(Aug 29, 2011) Irreverent British hit comedy
Absolutely Fabulous is Jennifer%20SaunderS%20and%20Joanna%20Lumley_smallreturning to television with three new specials celebrating the show's 20th anniversary, the BBC said Monday.

Stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley will reprise their roles as raucous, fashion and champagne-addicted PR guru Edina and magazine editor Patsy, along with the other original stars of the 1990s series.

The three new shows will be broadcast on BBC television in the U.K. towards the end of 2011, and on BBC America and cable channel Logo in the United States in early 2012. No broadcaster has yet been announced for Canada, where the show gained a cult following through airing on CBC.

“We hope that, like a good bottle of champagne, we have grown better with age but lost none of our sparkle,” Saunders, who also created the show, said in a statement.

“We fully intend to party like it's 1991 . . . Nevertheless we are so happy to be working for an audience that has grown just a tiny bit older, like us, but is still willing to let us fall over on TV in the name of PR,” she added.

The BBC said the third of the specials would see Edina and Patsy play their part in the 2012 London Olympics.

Absolutely Fabulous — known as AbFab to its fans — first appeared in 1992 as a saucy antidote to political correctness featuring two frequently drunk, sexually voracious, smoking and drug-abusing female characters. It is regarded as one of the best-loved British shows of all time despite originally running for only three seasons. (It was revived from 2001-2003.)

Two tentative efforts in the past 20 years to remake the series for U.S. television — notably one by Roseanne — failed to get off the ground.

New Cast Of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Revealed

Source: www.thestar.com - By Yvonne Villarreal

(Aug 30, 2011) LOS ANGELES—It’s that time of year again: ABC has unveiled its next batch of “celebs” who will quick-step their way through the 13th season on
Dancing with the Stars.

And the contestants have a lot to live up to: Season 12 of ABC’s dance contest, which featured contestants such as Kirstie Alley and winner Hines Ward, averaged 22.5 million total viewers—up 4 percent compared with the 11th season, according to the Nielsen Co.—putting the show No. 2 behind American Idol.

The new season premieres Monday, Sept. 19.

Here’s a look at the new cast:

Nancy Grace: She’s better known these days as the HLN host who coined the term “tot mom”—and found a way to insert it into every other sentence—in her crusade against Casey Anthony. Now the former prosecutor-turned-TV personality will be judged on her leg extensions and posture. Perhaps this is the beginning of “Fox Trot mom”?

Ricki Lake: Tracy Turnblad is back! Long before she introduced us to women who thought they were “all that” on her syndicated talk show, Lake proved she could wiggle her hips and tap her toes way back when in Hairspray. Let’s hope she doesn’t resurrect the beehive hairstyle (or this dance).

Hope Solo: The U.S. women’s soccer star’s stalwart leg muscles are likely to come in handy when the 30-year-old goalie joins the cast. But can she score a mirrorball trophy?

Ron Artest (or as we prefer to call him, Metta World Peace): The Los Angeles Laker forward is putting on his incredibly big dancing shoes to demonstrate his fancy footwork on the reality series. But if his publicist is right, maybe his fancy footwork has its limits.

Elisabetta Canalis: Notice to future ex-girlfriends of George Clooney and stars of Deuce Bigelow European Gigolo: This is your future.

Chyna Phillips: The Bridesmaids golden touch even extends to one hit wonders. One-third of ‘90s pop trio Wilson Phillips—which had a climatic scene in the Kristen Wiig flick—the 43-year-old singer is trying to “Hold On” to a comeback.

David Arquette: He acts. He produces. He designs clothes. He sometimes wrestles. He talks to Howard Stern about his sex life. Now Arquette is going to tango and jive? Let’s hope he doesn’t disclose intimate dancing positions to Stern.

Rob Kardashian: When you’re the only boy in the Kardashian clan, extreme measures need to be taken to prove that you actually exist. For Rob, that means being open to plunging necklines and sequined-lined pants as he follows in sister Kim’s footsteps as a contestant on the show. The dancing gene didn’t make it in Kim’s DNA—as Prince will tell ya—but maybe Rob got lucky.

Chaz Bono: The 42-year-old, who was born Chasity Bono, recently underwent a sex change and is about to see if his rhythm survived the operation.

Kristin Cavallari: More veteran in the reality circuit than all the contestants combined—having appeared on MTV’s Laguna Beach and its spin-off The Hills—Cavallari now has a gig that will make her red carpet presence slightly more valid. Wonder if she’ll get the vote of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

J.R. Martinez: He plays Brot Monroe in ABC’s All My Children. The retired soldier, who suffered severe burns to his body while serving in Iraq, will now see if his resilience can endure glittery outfits and judge Bruno Tonioli’s outbursts.

Carson Kressley: Formerly of Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Kressely now hosts Carson’s Nation on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Given the less-than-stellar performance of the network since its launch, it’s probably a good thing he’s finding other ways to make money.

Zendaya: The ‘Shake It Up!’ Interview with Kam Williams

Source: www.eurweb.com - Kam Williams

(Aug 31, 2011) *Born in Oakland, California on September 1,zendaya2011-screenshot1-med-wide_small 1996, Zendaya (Coleman) grew up around the California Shakespeare Theater in nearby Orinda, where her mother worked as the House Manager. In addition to training at the theatre company’s student conservatory program, and later performing in numerous stage productions, she helped her mom seat patrons and sell raffle tickets to benefit the organization.

While attending the Oakland School for the Arts, Zendaya starred as a young Ti Moune in “Once on This Island” at the Berkeley Playhouse before enjoying her breakout role as the male character Joe in “Caroline, or Change” at Palo Alto’s TheatreWorks. She subsequently honed her craft at both the California Shakespeare Conservatory program and the American Conservatory Theater, adding such classics by the Bard of Avon as “Richard III,” “Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It” to her stage credits.

Zendaya, by the way, means “to give thanks” in Shona, a Bantu language native to Zimbabwe. Besides acting, the versatile young talent has served as a fashion model for Macy’s, Mervyns and Old Navy, and as one of the back-up dancers in a Sears commercial featuring Selena Gomez.
 
Zendaya currently resides in Los Angeles with her family and Midnight , her pet Giant Schnauzer, and her interests include singing, dancing and clothes designing. Here, she talks about “
Shake It Up!” her hit Disney Channel sitcom where she co-stars opposite Bella Thorne as Raquel “Rocky” Blue, half of a comedic duo trying to dance their way to superstardom.
 
Kam Williams: Hi Zendaya, thanks for the interview.
Zendaya: No, thank you, Kam. It is my pleasure.
 
KW: What interested you in Shake It Up?
Z: Well, I would say that Shake It Up was a chance for me to do two things I really love: acting and dancing.
 
KW: Tell me a little about the show?
Z: It’s a buddy comedy based around dance. It’s about two best friends Rocky and CeCe who live out their dream as background dancers on a show called Shake It Up Chicago. They have to navigate life as young teens going to school and dancing on the show.
 
KW: How would you describe your character, Rocky?
Z: Rocky is such a sweet girl. She really cares for people and always wants to help her friends. She is a very good student who really works hard, and she is a dedicated friend to CeCe who often talks her into doing things they shouldn’t. Rocky is a bit more shy and unsure of herself, and sometimes does more following than she should.
 
KW: What message would you say the show is trying to deliver?
Z: Shake It Up definitely teaches kids about the importance of reaching for your dreams and setting high goals. It also teaches great lessons about friendship and family.
 
KW: What do you enjoy the most: acting, singing, dancing or modeling?
Z: Wow! I couldn’t choose between all of those things! I looooove acting and dancing on Shake It Up, and I am currently in the recording studio working on my music. And one of my dreams is to walk down the runway during fashion week!
 
KW: When is your debut album being released, and what type of music is on it?
Z: Well, I am not sure of when my album will be released but my music has a lot of different sounds. I‘m a hip-hop/R&B girl at heart, but I love pop music as well, and I even have an affinity for country music. So I would say my music might have something for everyone.
 
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
Z: I’m never asked what I love to do outside of the arts. My answer would be sports. I was actually supposed to be a basketball player, not an actress. My parents had me playing basketball on competitive teams when I was in kindergarten. Even though my heart belongs to the arts, I’m a tomboy at heart, too.
 
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
Z: Yes! I am scared of spiders! And I still get a little afraid every time I have to do something new or have to get out in front of a big crowd. The first time I sang “Swag It Out“ live, I was really scared.
 
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
Z: Yes, I am. This is my dream, truly. I grew up watching “That’s So Raven“ and “Lizzie McGuire,“ and I said to myself that I could do that one day, and here I am. This is a dream come true and I am just ecstatic to be here living out my childhood dreams.
 
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
Z: Just yesterday I was dying laughing with my niece who is staying with me this summer. We have so much fun together!
 
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Z: Oh, it’s Haagen Dasz ice cream, coffee flavour. It makes me feel so much better when I am upset and even happier when I am perfectly happy already.
 
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
Z: I am reading the book that I just did a book trailer for…it’s called “From Bad to Cursed.“ It’s really creepy and good. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1423134710/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 And the last book I read for school was “Animal Farm,” but I didn’t really like that. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0452284244/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20
 
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod?
Z: I always have my own music on my iPod, especially songs that I am going to record. Besides that, I have lots of others ranging from Chris Brown to Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Rascal Flatts and Adele.
 
KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?
Z: I am really good at making Top Ramen. I also love it when my mom makes vegetarian lasagna for me.
 
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favourite clothes designer?
Z: Chanel all the way! Just because not only do they have timeless pieces, but since it is the epitome of class and elegance.
 
KW: Dante Lee, author of “Black Business Secrets,” asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?”
Z: I would say my best decision I ever made was to pursue my dream and give it my all. Thankfully, I have not yet made really bad decisions, I’m the kind of person to play it on the safe side.
 
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
Z: I just see me, an ordinary girl. I know my life is not typical, but I have tried to stay really grounded and true to myself. My family really helps me with that.
 
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
Z: It would be to go back in time and meet Michael Jackson and work with him.
 
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
Z: Every year my mom takes her 5th grade class on an outdoor education trip, and ever since I was born, I came with her. One thing I remember the most was this long, old rickety bridge held by two redwood trees. In order to get to the camp fire, you had to cross it. Each time I went across I made my brother carry me on his shoulders. It freaked me out sooooo much, even a little now when I think about it.
 
KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
Z: Determination. No matter what field your is, determination will surely get you to the top.
 
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Z: A, surround yourself by positive people who will help you reach your goal and support you. And B, go for it!
 
KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
Z: As an awesome, hardworking and caring artist, who loves what she does.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Zendaya, and best of luck with the show.
Z: Thanks so much, Kam, it was great to be a part of this!

TV TIDBITS

Lloyd Robertson Prepares For His Final Newscast

Source: www.globeandmail.com


 (August 28, 2011) When
Lloyd Robertson finishes his final newscastlloyd%20robertso_753605gm-a_small on Sept. 1, it will be the end the longest-ever reign of a North American national anchor. From reporting on the first moon walk to moving from CBC to CTV, Robertson says he has no regrets.

Christina Milian in Talks to Play a Maid on New ABC Family Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 29, 2011) *ABC Family is developing a half-hour comedychristina-milian_small vehicle for Christina Milian. From “Rita Rocks” creators Stan Zimmerman and James Berg and “Glee‘s” executive music producer Adam Anders comes “Maid In Miami,” where Milian would play a young maid who aspires to be a singer, reports Deadline.com. Milian is still in negotiations to star, while Zimmerman and Berg are writing the script and will executive produce with Anders. Milian has an existing relationship with ABC Family — she has starred in two holiday original movies for the channel, “Snowglobe” and last year’s “Christmas Cupid.”

Mekhi Phifer to go ‘Blackapella’ on USA’s ‘Psych’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Aug 30, 2011) *
Mekhi Phifer and Cheech Marin will guest-star in an episode of the USA comedy Psych, TVGuide.com reports. Phifer, who currently stars as a not-so-dead dead man on “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” will play Drake, a member of “Blackapella,” the a cappella group Gus (Dulé Hill) belonged to in college. Drake comes to town to honour Deacon Jones (Cheech Marin), his mentor from childhood. But the deacon is shot while receiving the honour at the local community center, and the group steps in to help Shawn (James Roday) and Gus investigate. Jaleel White and Kristy Swanson will reprise their roles as Tony and Marlowe, respectively, in the episode. Psych returns for its sixth season on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 10/9c on USA.

::THEATRE NEWS::

The New Second City Dreamers

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Aug 25, 2011) Ashley Comeau has done every job at Second City Theatre, from being a hostess and bartender, to selling tickets in the box office.

Through it all, she made it perfectly clear, “I will happily bus tables but I want to be on stage.”

The 27-year-old Humber College comedy graduate fulfils her dream as one of four newcomers in the new Second City mainstage production opening on Aug. 30.

Titled, Dreams Really Do Come True! (and other lies), the sketch comedy written and performed by six actors could easily have just stuck to the events in Comeau’s life.

After a dissatisfying year at York University, she decided to study funeral services because, “it’s not a dying industry”. But comedy came up on the college calendar before the funeral course so she picked that instead.

The Brampton native performed in a number of community musical theatre productions, including playing the role of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. She took a four-month run with Second City at Sea doing sketch comedy on a cruise ship before landing her current gig at the Mercer St. theatre.

Her parents, grandmother, friends and her Humber English teacher, Brad Reed, have all been invited to the opening night show.

“Maybe I’m still wide-eyed because I’m new, but dreams do come true if you work hard,” says Comeau, who adds that she’d like her career to be a combination of “Tina Fey, Bernadette Peters and Charles Chaplin, minus the exile and womanizing.”

Director Kerry Griffin is also directing his first mainstage show after years teaching in Second City’s education program and writing the successful Second City Shows Back to the Future and 0% down, 100% Screwed.

The theme of the show is “anything is possible”, says Griffin, with most of the focus being on domestic rather than political issues.

There’s a lot of audience involvement in this show, he says, and not just the improv section at the end of each evening where patrons call out suggestions for skits.

This can be a fraught venture, says Carly Heffernan, 26, for whom this is her second mainstage show. The Brighton, Ontario native says every audience is different and can vary greatly depending on the age and general makeup. Saturday’s second show, she says, “is younger, drunker and raunchier”.

Sometimes the group will do the skits that didn’t make the final cut during an improv session, she says, “We say, here’s our B-side.” People often come up to the bar later and tell her they’d love to see many of them in the show. The show has been in previews since July 27.

Because the audience gets in on the act, Heffernan calls it “Theatre of democracy” and the cast members who’ve maybe worried about a sketch are reassured by the peals of laughter.

“You can’t argue with the laughs,” she says.

Alastair Forbes, 31, admits there’s sometimes a tension between the audience and cast when there are “difficult” suggestions for improvs.

His experience with the Second City education program and touring company has given him lots of opportunities to hone his improv skills, no matter how off-the-wall the suggestion, he says.

“I can make a good scene out of any suggestion. We can play on that tension with the audience, until you get them with that first joke. We act like, oh no, that suggestion will doom us. And then they’re relieved and laughing.”

Show veteran Inessa Frantowski has just finished acting in David Cronenberg’s film Cosmopolis where she has the small but meaty role as a “rat lady”. She’s not too sure how she’s linked to the story but, “I’m a bit scary.”

The Russian-born redhead shows no hesitation when asked whose career she would like to emulate — Catherine O’Hara — saying the Toronto Second City alum “is a big inspiration”.

Will Ferrell is Jason DeRosse’s most-admired actor saying, “People into computers like Bill Gates, I’m into comedy and I like Will Ferrell.”

The Pickering native, who wrote shows for the touring company, says after years of being with the organization, it was wonderful to be hitting the mainstage.

“Being a goof is kind of fun.”

Another show newcomer, Nigel Downer, 33, has a story as unusual as Comeau’s. Until recently, he was a graphic designer, trained at Conestoga College and working in the advertising field.

At the University of Guelph, he’d been a wide receiver on the Gryphon football team and a general arts graduate before leaping into graphic design.

A downturn in the economy cut him loose from his job just at the time Second City offered him a job with their education company.

“This is like my third life. There was university then college then the work field. Now I’m doing this which is a complete 180 (degree turn).

“I have never looked back,” says Downer, “I’ve been super fortunate.”

So, Dreams Really Do Come True! — for Second City members that is.

Ghost The Musical Truly Comes To Life

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Aug 31, 2011) LONDON — The streets of this city are lined with the corpses of pop-cult movies that have been turned into less-than-thrilling musicals. Think Dirty Dancing and Flashdance, for starters.

That’s why the success of
Ghost is a welcome relief.

Most of us have enjoyed a good cry over the 1990 film, which saw the late Patrick Swayze killed in a robbery-gone-wrong, leaving his grieving beloved (Demi Moore) to turn to a psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) for help.

No one will forget the use of “Unchained Melody” or the famous scene at the potter’s wheel that accompanied it. I’m sure there are still thousands of abandoned pottery sets in basements around the world, purchased by women who covered themselves in clay hoping the spirit of a man from the past would pursue them.

Although the film won two Oscars (for its excellent script by Bruce Joel Rubin and a scene-stealing performance from Goldberg) and was nominated for three more, including Best Picture, it lingers in most of our memories as a tear-soaked sample of times gone by.

But director Matthew Warchus and an ace team have shown that there is something enduring at the bottom of the story and it’s why the packed audience I saw it with on a recent weekday night were so profoundly moved.

There was none of that cheap laughter of recognition that doomed Dirty Dancing every time one of its “iconic” lines of dialogue were introduced, nor did we suffer through the Flashdance problem of failing to translate a film’s trademark scenes to the stage.

Ghost works on its own terms and they’re pretty classy ones. The set design of Rob Howell, the projections of Jon Driscoll and the lighting of Hugh Vanstone are worth the price of admission on their own, filling the stage of the Piccadilly Theatre with colour, images and textures that not only create the right otherworldly atmosphere, but allow what is essentially the intimate story of four people to fill up the space needed for that big musical feeling.

There’s also some astonishing illusions involving how ghosts rise from the bodies of the dead, courtesy of Paul Kieve, that will leave you gasping, but from true legerdemain, not overblown effects.

The pop songwriting-producing team of Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard have provided the kind of emotion-rich ballads that are required and Rubin has done a savvy job of transferring his work from screen to stage.

Warchus keeps it all flowing with the kind of mastery he usually shows in legit drama and none of the bumbling that marked his work on Lord of the Rings is even remotely present.

But in the end, it’s the cast who make you care, most notably the electric, Hamilton-born Caissie Levy as the mournful Molly.

Levy brings an almost unbelievable depth of feeling to the role, finding limitless variations in the country of grief and knowing just how to rip our own hearts out with a powerhouse song like “With You”. And Demi, don’t send Ashton over to beat me up, but I think she’s even hotter than you were in the role.

Richard Fleeshman is a big dynamo of a guy with a voice to match. He also knows how to play the hurting game well and sings with enormous bravura. He cares and, consequently, we care too.

And as the phoney psychic who discovers she has a real gift, Sharon D Clarke brings down the house time and time again with her right-on comedy and rock-the-joint singing. One could argue that the show’s big 11 o’clock number, “I’m Outta Here”, shouldn’t really take the focus away from our two lovers, but when it’s this good, who cares?

The weak wheel on the wagon is Andrew Langtree as Carl, the best friend who proves to be not a friend in need. His take on sleazy Manhattan opportunism is made too broadly colourful, perhaps to reflect a British feeling about pushy Americans, but he also tips his hand too soon about what he’s really like.

The show has been announced as going to Broadway and one hopes that the three leading players go with it. One also hopes Warchus and company will decide when the show is taking place. The script now says it’s today, but a lot of it still feels like 1990 and the financial manipulations upon which the plot rides seem pretty out of date for today.

But small quibbles. Ghost gets inside you and makes you care. That’s the miracle. For my money, it has much more than a ghost of a chance to continue as a worldwide success. 

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Sony Shows Off Entry Into Tablet Market

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Aug 31, 2011) The tablet wars have a new combatant. Sony-tablets_small

On Wednesday morning, Sony held a launch event in downtown Toronto showcasing its new
Sony Tablet S, an Android-based device with a 9.4-inch screen and a unique folded-over wedge design, with one end thicker than the other.

It is designed to work as a universal remote and can communicate with other devices like TVs, is integrated into the company’s e-reader shop and is PlayStation-certified, which means it can play ported versions of PlayStation 1 games.

Set up as competitor to the Apple’s monstrously successful iPad, one point of differentiation is that it comes with a micro-USB port.

Available in stores in mid-September, there will be two models, a 16 GB version for $499, and a 32 GB version for $599.

Smart Choices Show In Latest Deus Ex

Source: www.thestar.com - By Darren Zenko

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
PS3, 360, PC
$53.99
Rated M

(Aug 26, 2011) The not-too-distant future of Eidos Montreal’s
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a sci-fi cyber-dystopia. In a depressed America, gang-ridden slums fester in the shadows of glittering towers where the elite make and break their deals, government agencies and mega corporations, political parties and interested independents engaged in a vicious hidden war with billions of front lines. At stake is the meaning of humanity . . . and, by extension, the meaning of power over humanity.

The third game in the beloved Deus Ex series, and the first since 2003’s Deus Ex: Invisible War, Human Revolution is a prequel set a quarter-century back from its predecessors. And while the technology may be a lot less nano and the world a bit more recognizable, the philosophy — in the gameplay as much as in the storyline — is pure Deus Ex, almost exactly the cyber-stealth action-RPG fans have been waiting for.

As corporate security officer Adam Jensen you’ve had a rough few months, beginning with a “terrorist” raid on one of your boss’s facilities that left almost everyone, including your still-torch-carrying ex-lover, dead in a fire and left you alive in a body completely rebuilt out of robotic parts. How does Jensen feel about waking up as a cyber-man? What is he going to do about his would be killers and, more importantly, how is he going to do it? Those decisions are all yours to make; Human Revolution is all about choice.

Lots of games make similar claims, but few feel as consciously designed around the idea of player choice. The immense, sprawling areas — several of which comprise each king-sized mission — are built like playgrounds for a cyber-superman, with scores of options for progress based on a player’s personal style and the mechanical upgrades he’s chosen for his Jensen. A tricky tangle of overcautious mercenary guards? Stick to cover ’til you’re close enough to flash-grenade them (your own eyes protected by cyber-irises) then gun ’em down on the run as you sprint for the elevator. Or, sneak through the air ducts and either take ’em out one-by-one or ignore the chumps entirely. Or, hack and reprogram the defence robots for a nasty surprise! Or, you know, blow them all away with a rocket launcher. No matter how you choose, be ready to think fast and execute your plan perfectly; Human Revolution never gives the game away easy.

Outside the stealth (or lack-of-stealth) action, the real star of Human Revolution is the storyline . . . and it’s choice-driven, too. During and between missions, Jensen does a lot of talking with folks friendly and not-so-friendly, and how he deals with these people can have a big effect on how things go down. The quality of writing is generally as high as you’d expect from a triple-A game, and the “colour” material — the notes and newspapers and emails you’ll read as you progress — is particularly excellent in building up a picture of how a massive conspiracy network may also be nothing more or less than a network of massive pricks. Fun stuff!

We’ve been waiting for Deus Ex: Human Revolution a long time, and it is in no way disappointing. The visual design is tight, the music is good, the levels are gems, the gameplay is huge and the storyline satisfies . . . but my own internal cyber-programming demands I pick at least one nit, so here goes. Dear Eidos Montreal and all other game developers: Please let us have a moratorium on protagonists with that cheesy whisper-growl voice that supposedly signifies tough-guyness. Whether he’s comforting a grieving mother or threatening to blow some chump’s head off, Jensen sounds exactly like a skinny nerd on YouTube doing a weak impression of Christian Bale’s Batman. Of all game clichés, this one does the most violence to the suspension of disbelief, and it needs to die.

::OTHER NEWS::

Tim’s Upsizes Daily Java Jolt

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(August 29, 2011) The caffeine jitters began before the first sip fortim%20hortons1_small some customers at Tim Hortons stores in Kingston and Sudbury on Monday morning.

Coffee lovers ordering their usual medium double-double were given a large-size cup. Large grew into extra-large. And people looking for the workboot kick of the once-20- oz. (591 mL) extra-large instead received 24 oz. (710 mL) of steaming java.

For the next month, residents of these two Ontario cities will be the Canadian test market for the upsized brews.

The former small cuppa — 8 oz. (210 mL) — is history, as is its price point. The cheapest hot Tim’s coffee in the two test towns is now a 10 oz. (296 mL) cup, for $1.33: the price of last week’s medium.

This was enough to create a stir during the morning rush at some locations.

As one reader of the Sudbury Star posted on the newspaper’s website, “It was hilarious watching the mass confusion at the Timmies in the Valley. Guess the signs and explanation from the staff weren’t enough for people.”

Because a change to the morning routine can easily ruffle feathers, Tim’s stores carrying the upsized coffees now sport a large poster explaining the new sizes. Included in the information is a toll-free customer service number to call in case of confusion.

Company spokesman Nick Javor said the upsize servings are meant “to test consumer preferences and that the trend we have seen has been to larger sizes.”

Javor denied the move is an attempt to match Canadian offerings with those at Tim Horton’s outlets in the United States, which sell coffee only in the larger sizes.

In the U.S., Starbucks recently unveiled a 30-oz. “Trenta” hot beverage, upping the ante further. Neither Macdonald’s nor Tim Hortons has followed suit.

Size issues aside, the larger brews bump up the amount of caffeine consumed. The old 8-oz. coffee contained 80 mg of caffeine, according to information supplied by Tim Hortons. The upsize small contains 100 mg of java jolt.

Javor said the new 24-oz. brew contains 340 mg of the stimulant.

This should give coffee lovers pause before they go for an extra shot of joe later in the day: Health Canada recommends a healthy adult not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine daily, or 300 mg in the case of pregnant women.

With Emma Stone Love Video, Jim Carrey Goes Astray

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Lynn Crosbie

(Aug 30, 2011) “I love you,” he mouths. “I do.”

This is
Jim Carrey addressing the 23-year-old movie star Emma Stone in the week’s top viral video, far surpassing ASIAN RAPPER PWNS HATERS and Letterman’s monologue responding fearlessly to his “fatwa,” or jihadist death threat.

In a tight, merciless close-up, Carrey tells Stone she is “all the way beautiful” and that he would marry her if she were “age appropriate.” Which she is not, he concedes, ruefully.

Carrey posted a link to the video and his website on his Twitter site last Monday. The next day, he tweeted that the video is a “comedy routine,” and “the funniest part is everything I said is true.”

The same day, his website (jimcarreytrulife.com) crashed from the traffic, and since then, he has been the object of ridicule and parody. He placidly observed on Saturday that “Comics r getting lots of attn imitating [the] video.” He is referring to Kathy Griffin, who posted a love video for Justin Bieber, but she is just one of very many contemplating this meme.

Referred to as “creepy” by virtually all commentators, the video is precisely that. If it is a joke, it fails, because it is not funny.

That Stone, still a comparative Hollywood newcomer, did not publicly respond makes the message all the more hideous. Her silence made him look as foolish as he did playing Lloyd, the moronic worm-farmer in
Dumb and Dumber, waiting futilely for a date with Lauren Holly’s repulsed Mary.

What possessed Carrey to make this video?

Is it a sly teaser for a film starring him and Stone? Experimental comedy? A brave, self-effacing declaration of genuine ardour?

Carrey just calls it a true joke, the dominant theme of the autobiographical videos on his candid website, which show him, among other things, having elbow surgery, swimming, radiating “pure love” and punching himself in the throat.

In the context of Carrey’s website, the Stone video is simply a piece in a larger puzzle about Carrey, the enigmatic star about whom very little is known.

He has suffered from severe depression. He is a philanthropist – one video shows a fragment of his relief work in Haiti. He is a proud father (his daughter Melissa Carrey is a singer) and grandfather – in another video, he points to the infant who, promptly, vomits.

Carrey is also an admirer of the mondo-spiritualist Eckhart Tolle, whose teachings may help explain the latest video better than anything else on the site. In fact, Tolle’s sayings appear throughout Carrey’s online videos.

Tolle’s message is related to an epiphany he had in 1977 after his own struggle with depression. He slept one night and then awoke, filled with wonder. He became a very happy homeless man, then a teacher and finally a very rich writer and adviser.

His Cinderella story, somewhat simplified, is related to the Zen concept of “mindfulness.” When Tolle awoke that fateful morning, he says, “the mind-made self, with its heaviness, its problems, that lives between the unsatisfying past and the fearful future, collapsed. It dissolved.”

Carrey not only admires Tolle; the two headlined in 2009 at the first conference of something called the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment.

One of Tolle’s wispy aphorisms: “The past has no power over the present moment.”

A German native who grew up playing in bombed-out buildings after the Second World War, Tolle has good reason to exterminate the past. But does Carrey? Did the teachings of Tolle’s
The Power of Now (1997) influence his decision to star in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004,) a film about erasing, via sci-fi technology, one’s memory?

“Life is the dancer and you are the dance,” Tolle says. Okay, that is completely trite, yet one wishes to blame the Carrey video on this strange little, fatuous man. Because the videos, as painfully candid as they are, reveal nothing about Carrey, nothing true. Beneath each visual memoir resides thousands upon thousands of fan comments, each seeking genuine intimacy with the actor.

There are no responses from Carrey.

The videos, occasionally charming, reveal a man taking great pains to present a raw, painless self “protected by the golden light of love.” All of his well-being looks forced. Carrey was a controlled, brilliant actor once, and for all of his complexity, he was an excellent manager of his public image.

One hopes that, some day, he strays from Tolle’s teachings and becomes more mindful of his splendid past.

Evolution Of The Entertainment District

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Christopher Hume

(Aug 26, 2011) There’s no need to shed any tears for Yorkville just yet.lightbox_JPG_1259977cl-4_small Though it lost much of the film festival when TIFF moved downtown last year, it can still count on the enduring power of vanity to keep its wheels turning. And if the ’70s ever become fashionable again, the old Village will be the place to be.

Meanwhile, down at King and John, the Bell Lightbox, TIFF’s elegant new funhouse, continues to change the face of the downtown neighbourhood. It’s not that Yorkville — or at least, the larger Yorkville area, including the Royal Ontario and Gardiner museums and the Royal Conservatory — is any less a cultural hub, but some of that energy has shifted south.

The Entertainment District was already home of the Royal Alexandra and the Princess of Wales theatres, Roy Thomson Hall and, nearby, the Rogers and Air Canada centres, as well as the CBC headquarters.

But no one ever referred to this part of town as a village: It isn’t. The corner of King and John St., where TIFF presides, is pure downtown. That means it’s busy night and day and functions differently at different times. That’s an important point to keep in mind.

Even at its most notorious, with its bustling nightclubs, the Entertainment District only existed three nights a week. Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, most of population in the area is there to work. Don’t forget, Metro Hall, which faces the TIFF Bell Lightbox, contains much of the civic bureaucracy. In addition, denizens of the Financial District, which doesn’t extend much west of University Ave., spend their lunch money here. Only in the evening does the cultural crowd takes over.

As well, the proliferation of condo towers throughout the neighbourhood means that it has become home to thousands of people. This residential component changes the dynamic, making pedestrian connections more important than ever.

The numbers tell the story: In 2008, 3,500 people lived in the area. Today, there are 10,000. And that will double in the next five years.

The city also provides a study in the domino effect, how one change leads inexorably to another. TIFF is a catalyst as well as a result. And as the area draws ever closer to critical mass, it becomes a self-sustaining mix of culture, entertainment, commercial, corporate and domestic forces.

That’s why the neighbourhood is no longer simply an Entertainment District, a Financial District or any other such designated enclave. It now incorporates elements of both. In that sense, it belongs to everyone.

Which brings us to the John Street Cultural Corridor, a scheme that would pedestrianize John from Grange Park and the Art Gallery of Ontario south to the Rogers Centre and beyond that to the waterfront.

Though the silence has been deafening, the president of the Entertainment District Business Improvement Association, Janice Solomon, says the project is alive and well.

“You have to go through the boring stuff first,” she insists. “It’s halfway through the environmental assessment and we hope it will go to city council this fall. It will be a destination street that links all the different elements.”

As for the arrival of TIFF, Solomon says it’s still too early to tell exactly how the changes will play out.

“It’s only coming up a year,” she notes. “Having TIFF headquartered here is good not just for the neighbourhood but for the whole city. The cultural side of things encompasses everybody, not just young people who gravitate to the area on Friday and Saturday night. But part of our effort is to keep a nightlife. We’re emerging as a 24/7 centre.”

As for that most elusive of factors, glamour, it, alas, cannot be planned or manufactured, let alone guaranteed. Otherwise, why would Yorkville ever have been considered glamorous? And yet it was, and still is. Could it be that one element of glamour is a touch of tackiness? Yorkville certainly has enough of that, too. By contrast, the Entertainment District was always more gritty than glamorous. That has changed, of course. Yorkville may be hot, but King and John is cool.

Kudos For Three Great Art Shows In Canada

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Aug 26, 2011) Call it a tale of three cities and a tale of three stunning exhibitions that have been drawing art lovers all summer. As autumn looms, all three are shifting into last-chance mode. But it’s still possible to catch all three if you plan your schedule carefully.

First to move into the going-going-gone stage is the one closest to home. The Art Gallery of Ontario’s landmark Abstract Expressionist show from New York’s Museum of Modern Art will close on Sunday, Sept. 4 after a 14-week run. This is one of the most thrilling exhibits the AGO has ever had. It would be a crime to miss it.

Then in Ottawa the National Gallery of Canada closes its brilliantly illuminating extravaganza about a startling shift in the art world of 17th Rome — Caravaggio & His Followers in Rome. There are so many rich details to take in that I visited the exhibition twice in the same week.

With a closing date of Sept. 11, the Caravaggio epic has just two more weeks to run in Ottawa, where so far it has drawn about 80,000 visitors. It could be on the brink of that magic 100,000 figure before it moves to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 9 for a three-month run.

And finally comes the biggest crowd-pleaser of them all, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts. Subtitled From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, this is a witty, sensationally well presented salute to the nervy and inventive Paris designer.

It’s guaranteed to leave you bewitched, dazzled and tickled. And luckily, the Gaultier show has another five weeks to make visitors happy before it closes on Oct. 2.

The Gaultier exhibit is the first of Canada’s summer art exhibitions to hit the magic 100,000 mark. By the time it leaves Montreal, attendance could be close to 150,000. And it will have a long life beyond Montreal, going on to Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid and Rotterdam (taking it to mid-2013).

Fashion shows have recently emerged as the hottest trend in museum exhibitions. The Montreal museum had previously enjoyed a huge success with its Yves Saint Laurent show, which happened to open around the time the celebrated designer died.

Earlier this year, New York’s Metropolitan Museum had a huge success with its knockout exhibition about the outrageous costumes of the British genius Alexander McQueen. No doubt his shocking suicide spiked attendance, resulting in long lineups every day, and an extension of the run.

Gaultier has the distinction of still being very much alive. What makes the exhibit a winner is the designer’s ideas and far-reaching influences and his knack for ignoring traditional rules.

A delightful and unforgettable bonus is contributed by the Montreal theatre artists Denis Marleau and Stephanie Jasmin who, at the invitation of museum director Nathalie Bondil, designed the mannequins wearing Gaultier’s clothes. With faces animated through video, they talk, they wink, they smile. Call it a great coup de theatre.

Meanwhile, back home on the Grange, the AGO’s AbEx has done much better business than last summer’s Drama and Desire exhibition. Indeed, the AGO has already passed the magic 100,000 mark and still has a week to go.

That qualifies it as a success, but I wish twice as many people had taken this rare opportunity to see MoMA’s signature paintings by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and others. They are so well presented in Toronto that the show is more satisfying, if more compact, than it seemed to my eyes a year ago when I saw it in New York.

My hunch is the AGO could have scored a much bigger popular win with two strategic changes.

One: Change the name of the show, because outside New York, AbEx is a baffling label. A better title: New York Modern.

Two: Cut the admission fee. At $25 the price is too high. A ticket for either the Caravaggio exhibit in Ottawa or the Gaultier show in Montreal costs $15. That’s the right price, if you want to create a buzz, and counter the notion that your institution is strictly for the elite.

‘Always Fight Back,’ Says Jane Fonda. ‘Always’

Source:  www.globeandmail.com  

(August 26, 2011) In an interview in Toronto on Monday, Jane FondaJANE%20FONDA_small was on it. She opened with the line, “I’m sorry to hear about your party leader,” referring to the death of Jack Layton, which had been announced less than an hour earlier. She followed with a brisk series of instructions to a photographer: no natural light, only direct flash, absolutely no shine on her nose. She wore pants, a jacket and a drapey scarf in tones of grey, and she was trim, coiffed, discreetly made up. Her face has been lifted more than once, but she still looks like herself. Then she sat down and conversed for half an hour with genuine candour.

Fonda has written a new book,
Prime Time, a chatty, wide-ranging guide – “everything from physics to penile implants,” she said – to living fully, from age 60 to 90. At 73, she’s a walking advertisement for her own advice. Stay interested in the world, check. Ask for what you want, check. Keep fit, check. Own up to who you are, check, check, check.

In many ways, as Jane Fonda goes, so goes America, whether it’s battling eating disorders (she suffered from anorexia and bulimia from adolescence to age 37); rocking the sexual revolution (she won an Oscar for 1971’s Klute); protesting the Vietnam War (she won a second Oscar for Coming Home, 1978); kick-starting the eighties aerobics-video boom; playing Real Housewife to her third husband, mogul Ted Turner, in the go-go nineties; or now “giving back” by proffering advice on the health benefits of eating by colour, the joy of meditation, and the sensitivity of men’s nipples. I’ve never read a book where the writer travelled from the virtues of vitamin D to the pleasures of a “penis ring” so seamlessly, maintaining the same earnest tone throughout.

“I actually never lead,” Fonda demurs. “There’s always something there first, and then I am the cheerleader for it. There are many, many books about aging. Mine just covers everything that I wanted to know.”

Her “everything” is a lot. But then, she has always lived a big life. During her eight years of research, Fonda undertook a “life review,” in which she combed through her past, interviewed friends and family, and forced herself to relive events in as much emotional detail as she could. The results have filled three books: her 2005 memoir, My Life So Far; a new biography, Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman, on which she collaborated with writer Patricia Bosworth; and now Prime Time.

The facts are extraordinary, starting with this doozy: On the day her mother committed suicide by slitting her throat (Fonda was 12), Fonda’s father Henry went to work as usual, acting in a play. “Wasn’t that something?” Fonda agrees, eyes widening.

But thanks to her life review, she’s able to put events in context: Her mother had been sexually abused and was “unable to love.” Her father, a taciturn Nebraskan, came from a long line of men who suffered from undiagnosed depression. “I viewed my mother as a snob. Well, she was a snob,” Fonda says. “Had she lived long enough, I probably wouldn’t have cared for her very much, frankly. She didn’t love me. She didn’t love anybody. So the way I protected myself from that is, ‘Okay, I don’t need you.’ But of course I blamed myself when she killed herself.

“And Dad could not deal with emotion, he just couldn’t,” she continues. “He didn’t know what to say, and if we had cried – which of course I wouldn’t – he wouldn’t have known what to do. But what can you do? Forgiveness. He did the best he could. I knew the kind of person that he wished he was. And I loved him.”

That schism between who her father was and who he wished to be “is one of the reasons that I try to live my third act in such a way that I won’t have regrets,” Fonda says. “You never get there entirely, but you can spend your life working at it.”

In Fonda’s view, all life’s dung can be turned into fertilizer. So, she suffered from postpartum depression after her daughter, Vanessa (with her first husband, director Roger Vadim), was born, and let nannies do her parenting. So, recently, Vanessa cracked that Fonda could dramatize her life by simply letting a “chameleon crawl across the screen.” And so, now that Vanessa is a mother, Fonda’s current challenge is “biting my tongue” about her parenting style. “I mean, my tongue has just about bled,” Fonda says.

But so what? First, Fonda cops to it all – her and Vanessa’s relationship “is very difficult. But I think we’re both determined to make it work.” Then she turns it into a learning opportunity. “I’ve subsequently studied parenting,” she says. “You teach what you need to learn. I could write a book on parenting – and plan to.” She was better with her son, Troy (with her second husband, politician Tom Hayden). “But sometimes it takes a long time to grow up.”

Fonda has her patter about her husbands down: “My first taught me to be a female impersonator.” (Vadim directed her space-babe turn in 1968’s Barbarella.) “My second gave me depth of perspective. My third and favourite ex-husband taught me to laugh.”

She and Turner are still close, sharing dinners and e-mails. But her life review showed her that she couldn’t stay with him. “For his own reasons, Ted moves laterally through life, very fast. Across his millions of acres,” she says. “I wanted to go vertical. I knew if I stayed with him, I’d be safe, I wouldn’t need to work, and it would be interesting. But I would never be a whole person, and I wanted to be a whole person.” She’s currently dating music arranger Richard Perry.

After a 15-year acting hiatus, Fonda went back to work, costarring with It girls Jennifer Lopez and Lindsay Lohan. She tried to mentor Lohan, to no avail: “She would see me coming and she’d flee,” Fonda says. “For Lindsay to create a new norm, I would have to wrap my arms around her, or someone would, and take her far away, for a long, long time. I don’t think she would allow it to happen. Her norm is chaos. Of course, when you know that about somebody, you can’t help but love them.” She leans forward sincerely. “Empathy,” she adds, “is so great.” Fonda also earned a Tony nomination in 2009 for the play 33 Variations, and she’s a hippie mom in Bruce Beresford’s Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, which is coming to the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

As well, Fonda is a keen user of social media – two weeks ago, when the TV channel QVC cancelled her appearance to promote Prime Time because some viewers protested, she blogged that she regretted posing on a Hanoi gun site during the Vietnam War. “There are soldiers and families who don’t understand the war, and blame me for the deaths. It is to those people that I very willingly apologize, because I would never, ever want to hurt them.

“But there is another segment of well-oiled political operatives who whip people up, based on lies,” she continues. “So when QVC cancelled my appearance because those people had conducted a campaign against me, I fought back. And that was the right thing to do – always fight back, always.”

Fonda is now in such a good place that she’s not sure what to work on next. “I’ve been thinking about that, so much,” she says. “If I died tomorrow, that would be fine. My house is in order. I have to start a new bucket list.” The only item on it so far? Learn to tap dance.

As I rise to go, I remark on how frank Fonda is, and how comfortable she seems being so. “That’s ’cause I know what not to say,” she says, laughing. The mind reels at what that could possibly be.

Spike Lee, George Lopez to Receive Honour at ADCOLOR Awards

Source: Helen Shelton / RuderFinn, SheltonH@RuderFinn.com

(Aug 30, 2011) *ADCOLOR celebrates its fifth anniversary of fostering
spike-lee_small diversity in the advertising industry with the upcoming 2011 ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference, to be held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sept.  16 and 17.

Among the 2011 honourees are comedian, actor and philanthropist
George Lopez, who will receive ADCOLOR’s All-Star Award, presented by Omnicom Group;  and director and advertising agency founder Spike Lee, who will receive the Catalyst Award.

For the first time, GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) will present an ADCOLOR Advocate Award in recognition of industry influencers from the LGBT community.  The 2011 Advocate Award will be presented to two industry pioneers – Laurence Boschetto, president and CEO of Draftfcb and Aaron Walton, Co-Founder, Walton | Isaacson.

“The ADCOLOR Industry Coalition is committed to celebrating and shining a spotlight on those individuals and companies whose work influences our industry and has a positive impact on our culture and society,” says Tiffany R. Warren, Founder of The ADCOLOR Industry Coalition and The ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference and senior vice president, chief diversity officer for Omnicom Group Inc. “The ADCOLOR Industry Awards and Conference continues to grow and expand with each passing year.  We look forward to honouring this year’s group of industry leaders as we celebrate our fifth anniversary and look towards the future of diversity in advertising.”

For all ADCOLOR® Awards & Industry Conference information and to register, please visit ADCOLOR’s microsite, designed by SBS Studios LLC, at www.adcolor.org.

OTHER TIDBITS

First Lady Michelle Obama Covers October Essence

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Aug 31, 2011) *Michelle Obama graces the cover of Essence’sOctober-ESSENCE-Cover_small October issue with a revealing interview highlighting the magazine and the First Lady’s shared commitment to women and girls around the world. In the article, “The Leading Lady,” she reflects on what she calls the “big, bright light” of her power as First Lady—and she shares her mission to impart her critical message to young women: that where she is now is attainable with hard work. She also recounts her emotional trip to Africa, providing exclusive images for Essence readers that document her various stops and what they meant to her personally. The First Lady is also fêted as one of the world’s most influential black women on the magazine’s annual ‘2011 Power List,’ which includes other top-ranking African-American women such as Oprah Winfrey, Valerie Jarrett, Iyanla Vanzant, Jada Pinkett Smith, Shonda Rhimes and more. Plus, award-winning author and playwright Pearl Cleage pays a special tribute to the most recognized woman of the free world. Visit Essence.com’s daily blog, “First Lady Diary”, which will continue the conversation with exclusive updates, one-of-a-kind style galleries and engaging feedback from readers and fans.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Diving In Papua New Guinea: A Life-Changing Experience

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Robin Esrock

(April 20, 2011) Papua New GuineaScuba diving is one adventure I've always been denied. Between a dozen surgeries, failed reconstructions and inner-ear prosthetics, my chronic ear problems simply ruled it out. Travelling to places such as Malaysia, the Philippines and the Maldives, I'd listen enviously to divers talk about their experience at the world's best reefs. On a recent trip to Papua New Guinea, all that finally changed.

My breakthrough came in the form of two tiny pieces of Kraton, a type of polymer plastic, called Doc's Proplugs. Searching online, I found out that Doc's vented plugs have a tiny hole allowing for pressure equalization and hearing, while keeping out water to avoid ear infections and ruptured eardrums. What's more, they cost just $20, far cheaper than the silicon plugs I'd been using for years. I picked them up from a kayaking instructor in Vancouver who handed over the plugs as if they were gold. How much would you pay to realize a dream, and explore beneath the seas?

I had joined a group of diving journalists at the Tufi Dive Resort in Papua New Guinea for the naming of a new dive site. They were all experienced dive masters, and all female, including San Diego's Scuba Diver Girls. The girls knew my entire world was about to open up, and couldn't wait for me to get certified. The resort itself, overlooking a gorgeous fjord, had ample character. Roaming the grounds was a large hornbill named Coco, a wallaby, and two bizarre native kus-kus, a scary kind of possum-like creature. It was the only place in the entire region with electricity, and owned the only two cars on the dirt roads.

Above water, Papua New Guinea is the world's most ethnically diverse country, with more than 700 ethnic groups speaking nearly 800 languages. The dense jungles and highlands attract scientists, botanists and biologists continually discovering new species. Below water, the reefs are considered among the best in the world, populated with hard and soft coral, sharks, tropical fish and all manner of marine life. As the girls headed out with their flippers and tanks, I hit the books. Most dive resorts offer PADI or NAUI qualification courses and instruction, and Tufi was an ideal classroom. Back home, I'd have to learn my skills in a swimming pool. Here I could practise in the resort's house reef among giant lionfish, parrotfish and luminous coral. The water offers 30 metres of visibility and hovers between 26 and 29 C year-round. In the world of diving, that's about as good as it gets.

Glen, my local instructor, had been teaching for nearly 20 years. He patiently explained equalization and pressure groups, buoyancy and hand signals. It was mostly common sense, with some surprising facts: I learned that divers don't consider any marine animals to be dangerous, so long as you keep your distance and don't threaten them. Modern dive computers calculate how much air you have, how deep you are and how long you have to recover between multiple dives. So long as I checked my gauges, there was really nothing to fear at all. I passed my written exam and practical skills with flying colours, and finally, after all these years, was ready to submerge myself into another world.

I had brought antibiotics in case the Proplugs didn't work, but I needn't have bothered. They performed exactly as advertised, allowing me to equalize and descend to the reef below. I effortlessly defied gravity, floating among more colour and life than I'd ever imagined. Dishing out underwater high-fives with the girls, my grin was so wide that water almost gushed into my regulator (I was well trained on how to clear it). The new reef was named the Undertow, for its massive reef ledge. I swam around its perimeter, an alien in an alien world, completely hooked.

On the island of New Britain, we explored the reefs of Kimbe Bay, staying at another Australian-owned resort, Walindi. More than half the world's coral species could be found in this one bay, as well as 900 species of fish. Surrounded by active volcanoes, I dove my first deepwater swim-through, a reef tunnel teeming with life that was 34 metres beneath the surface. I encountered my first big animals: grey reef sharks gliding like ghosts. We explored a Japanese Second World War Zero fighter plane that had sunk 17 metres below the water. Despite coral latching onto its wings, it was in remarkable condition. I hovered among giant barrel sponges, red whip gorgonians, moray eels, nudibranches, schools of barracuda and countless neon tropical fish. Clownfish comically guarded their anemones. I had found Nemo at last (had to say it).

Scuba diving, from tropical islands to the cold water off British Columbia, is an adventure that doesn't care about your weight, age, physical ability or even aquatic experience. Within a week, I had transformed from someone who had barely swum underwater to a scuba diver exploring shipwrecks and sharks – even by night. Just when I thought I'd seen the world, it turns out I've hardly seen anything at all. Next trip, I'm packing flippers.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Robin Esrock is the host of the OLN/CITY-TV series Word Travels. His website is robinesrock.com.

Where Are Europe’s Cheapest Cities To Visit?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Doug McArthur

On tour


A new Israeli company is offering tourists a hands-on opportunity to
roundup-riga30t_1313600cl-8_small learn about the country’s military secrets. Lionops, which specializes in military and extreme tourism, was founded by 26-year-old Eldar Bar-Or. According to the Lionops website, the instructors come from the elite units of the Israeli Defence Forces. Tours range from one to 10 days and include such activities as firing Uzis, jumping from airplanes and embarking on mock spy missions. Participants must be over 21 and in good physical condition. Details: www.lionops.com.

On the ground

Europe’s best travel bargains can be found in its eastern cities, according to the latest City Cost Barometer compiled by the British Post Office. Least expensive in the 19-city survey was Latvia’s capital, Riga, where a basket of food, beverage, transit, hotel and sightseeing items totalled about $185.77. The next best cities for bargains were Prague and Budapest. Three-star hotel rooms were cheapest in Riga and Tallinn. The highest overall prices were in Stockholm, where the total was $507.03.

On the seas

Oceania Cruises has been named the world’s most innovative cruise line by Virtuoso, a network of travel agencies specializing in the luxury market. Luxury seems to be the operative word: Among the innovations cited were the first Bon Appétit cooking schools at sea, suites furnished by Ralph Lauren Home, a spa by Canyon Ranch and a crystal grand staircase made by Lalique. Oceania’s itineraries include stops at 330 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Americas.

Sources: Travel Weekly, British Post Office, Cruise Report

Special to The Globe and Mail

::SPORTS NEWS::

Blake Wins World 100m; Bolt Disqualified

Source:  www.skynews.com.au

(August 29, 2011) Jamaica's Yohan Blake won the world championships 100m final on Sunday after defending champion Usain Bolt was disqualified for a false start.

Blake timed 9.92sec to finish ahead of American Walter Dix with former world champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis taking bronze.

Jamaican super sprinter Usain Bolt's dream of a third golden treble ended in stunning circumstances on Sunday night when disqualified after false starting in the final of the 100m at the world athletics championships.

Countryman Yohan Blake took full advantage, claiming the gold medal in 9.92 seconds.

Blake was a deserving winner as the only man in the final to break the 10-second barrier.

But the anti-climactic race was more about the man who wasn't there.

Bolt was the unbackable favourite in Daegu, having won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the Beijing Olympics and 2009 world championships - breaking his own world record in both individual sprints on both occasions.

He had proclaimed that he would become a legend of the sport if he repeated the effort in South Korea and at next year's London Olympics.

The question was always about who could beat Bolt.

And the answer ended up being the man himself.

Only last year, world athletics' ruling body instituted the no false starts rule.

But it's unlikely they ever envisaged it catching out such a huge star on such a big stage.

The 21-year-old Blake went on to claim gold in Bolt-like style, powering away to a huge winning margin of 0.16 seconds and then striking several victorious poses for the cameras.

American Walter Dix claimed the silver in 10.08 and 35-year-old Kim Collins from St Kitts and Nevis hung on for third in 10.09.

The evergreen Collins had won the world title back in 2003 and was the star turn at this year's Stawell Gift in rural Victoria.

The field was weakened by the withdrawal through injury of former world record holder Asafa Powell and leading US sprinter Tyson Gay.

Two of the fastest men in the world this year, Jamaican Steve Mullings and American Michael Rogers, were also absent after failing drugs tests.

Calgary Triathlete Recovers From Horrific Crash To Race Again

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Joanne Elves

(August 26, 2011) Every day around this country, recreational cyclistsElves27_jpg_1312995cl-8_small and triathletes use local roads as training grounds, always risking the threat posed by cars and trucks. In Calgary, many of these cyclists and triathletes use the Springbank community on the western outskirts for its challenging hills, open roads and lovely mountain scenery.

Thirty-nine months ago, cycling in the area as part of her training regimen,
Brenda Seasons rode cautiously downhill on narrow-shouldered 101st Street SW. Too late, she saw a blue sports car run through a stop sign and suddenly, with a sickening thud, her life changed traumatically.

The car's mirror snagged her left arm, goring skin and muscle to expose bone. She was flung into a ditch, her left leg "trashed." Bleeding, shocked, Seasons struggled to stay conscious and retain presence of mind as blood began to pool. Responding to the urging of a 911 attendant, she asked one of the motorists who had stopped, a young woman, to use her scarf as a tourniquet on her arm. That scarf, first applied mistakenly to the wrist and then carefully to the wound higher on her arm, may have saved her life.

"I knew I was hurt bad and figured if I kept my eyes open I wouldn't die," says Seasons, 50, a mother of four who lives in Springbank. "I kept thinking about the kids."

She'd been training for her fourth consecutive Subaru Ironman triathlon at the time of the collision, and in its aftermath, through multiple operations and painstaking therapy, Seasons eyed the annual event in Penticton, B.C., as her comeback goal. She filed entries the last two years despite knowing that while her body probably wouldn't be healed sufficiently to participate, she would use the event as a constant target, an ever-present incentive to get where she needed to be, both in physical fitness and state of mind.

And this Sunday, finally, she expects to toe the start line with 2,800 other chiselled athletes in the 29th edition of the Ironman on the shores of Lake Okanagan. The gruelling competition requires a 3.8-kilometre swim, a 180-km bike ride and a 42.2-km marathon.

"I'm not racing to win," Seasons says, "I'm racing to recover."

A granddaughter of the Southam newspaper chain patriarch, Brenda and her husband Chris Seasons, president of the oil-and-gas company Devon Canada, spoke for the first time publicly about the accident for this interview. Chris and their kids - twins Mackenzie and Kevin, 17, Kendall, 15, and Graham, 14 - will be cheering for her on Sunday.

Seasons picked up a passion for long-distance bike rides with her husband while living in the Netherlands years ago. She'd already become an accomplished swimmer and runner, so when their youngest child entered Grade 1, she began to combine the three sports by taking on the triathlon.

The Subaru Ironman is the ultimate triathlon, one of 10 held in North America annually. In her inaugural event, in 2005, she finished in just over 12 hours - 35th in her division and 840th overall. She was hooked.

For the 2008 edition, she streamlined her stage transitions, bought a better bike and had planned to make a trip to Italy to push her endurance, gunning for a personal-best time. But her dream was derailed on an otherwise beautiful May day, on that Springbank road.

"It's a long, fast hill so I was controlling my speed," she says. "I know drivers tend to roll through the stop sign at the intersection, so even though I have the right of way, I am always cautious there. Three cars were coming north toward me but suddenly a blue sports car jumped out from behind the trees on 17th from the east. I could see he was looking at them and didn't see me. ... Oddly, I remember watching my bike sail over me and crash into pieces."

From the ditch she telephoned Chris, who was wrapping up a meeting in his office.

"Her voice was controlled and calm but I knew the situation was grave," Chris says. "She isn't the type to call about a bruised knee."

A social worker in the emergency ward of Foothills Hospital led him immediately to a private room.

"Being met like that, I was preparing to hear the worst," he says. "When he finally said she was alive but would most likely lose at the least her arm, I was oddly relieved. It's funny how you quickly work through the hierarchy of life over limb."

Within an hour of the accident, two different specialists worked to salvage her limbs. One of the surgeons, Dr. Vaughan Bowen, is also a cycling fanatic. He performed two additional surgeries on her arm and leg over the next year to repair nerves, and at every turn gave his assurance that she would compete again.

But the pace of recovery was slow. While miraculously no bones had been broken, Seasons suffered severe damage to the muscles and nerves. Today, both her leg and arm are permanently disfigured and weaker than the right-side limbs.

Beyond the physical came the emotional complications. A few weeks after release from the hospital, they went to a bike store. She stopped at the door and began shaking uncontrollably, a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder. At night she suffered nightmares, and by day a slamming car door would trigger flashbacks. When her kids walked to school, she feared a car would hit them on their quiet street. She could barely get into a car herself. Along with the three weekly trips to the physiotherapist, she visited a psychologist regularly.

"By running a stop sign, that driver robbed me of many of the pleasures in my life," Seasons says.

She set up her own regimen to get back her life. Her ultimate goal was to not just be able to function but to compete in the Ironman again. It took three months for the bruising in her butt to heal enough to sit on a bike seat and just as long for her knee to bend enough to pedal. Last week in Canmore, Alta., she leaned on her road bike and smiled as her youngest son came pedalling up. Graham is a competitive cyclist himself, and riding with him has helped push away the demons and restore her love for the bike.

"I knew she had it in her to fight to regain her mobility," Chris says. "We bought a big cruiser-style bike with a fat soft seat to get her back in the saddle. It was good for her leg and for her mind. But the running didn't start for about a year because of more surgery. And the swimming didn't start until last winter due to the skin grafts, the nerve damage and rehabilitation of frozen shoulder syndrome caused as a by-product of the accident. To be honest, only a few months ago did she finally let down her guard and let people see the scarring on her body."

As for the emotional scars, those will take more time to heal. She won't return to the scene of the accident, nor cycle in Springbank.

Her goals have changed since May of 2008. Where she finishes in the pack in Penticton doesn't matter any more.

"Sunday isn't as much about the race as it is about the recovery," she says. "With the help of friends, specialists, my kids and Chris, I've been regaining my life. The training for the Ironman was my physical therapy and it's gone beyond all expectations. I will never have the freedom from this new fear. And, emotionally, I'm not ready to forgive the driver. But the race will help me move on."

Special to The Globe and Mail

Lincicome Sings Her Way To Canadian Open Victory

Source:  www.thestar.com - Bill Beacon

(August 28, 2011) MIRABEL, QUE.—Brittany Lincicome put a newBrittany%20Lincicome_small spin on the old show tune “Singing In the Rain” as she gritted her way through a storm to victory in the $2.25 million (U.S.) CN Canadian Women’s Open.

The 25-year-old American made a dramatic par save in a driving rain to close with a 2-under 70 and edge defending champion Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis by one stroke at Hillsdale Golf Club on Sunday.

Lincicome, who earned $337,500, said she kept herself calm by singing country songs to herself as she parred the final six holes to stay ahead of Lewis and hold off Wie, the winner last year in Winnipeg. Wie sank long putts at the 15th and 17th to make it close with an even-par 72.

Lewis had put up the low score of the day — a 67 on a day in which only 16 of 78 were under par — more than an hour earlier.

“I was very patient, singing a lot of songs, very chatty,” said Lincicome, who said singing to herself is part of her sports psychology program to stay focused. “The weather was not great, but I was still having fun. I’m definitely going to remember this win.”

In her post-match interview, she cautioned that “I’m not a good singer, so I’m not singing for you.”

The victory was nearly as sweet for her caddy, former LPGA regular A.J. Eathorne of Penticton, B.C., whose own playing career has been on hold since 2009.

Lincicome pulled her tee shot on 18 into a tent and had to take a drop, but managed to get the ball up near the green, chip it close and make the winning putt. She also had fine saves on the eighth and ninth.

“I’m growing as a golfer, I guess,” said Lincicome. “If this would have happened a couple of years ago I’m not sure how I would have handled it.”

Playing in the last group, Wie needed birdie on 18 to force a playoff, but missed the green to the right and left her chip shot wide and short. She made the putt to keep a share of second place and win $177,981.

“I’m proud of the way I hung in there,” said Wie, 21. “Coming in, I had a lot of clutch shots that I can really take positives from. It feels good to be back in contention again.”

Fears that the final round would be washed out by the remnants of tropical storm Irene did not pan out. Rain and some nasty gusts of winds hit the lead groups about midway through their rounds, but nothing that would force a stoppage in play.

Organizers moved up start times by 90 minutes, had the players grouped into threesomes instead of twosomes, and started groups on both the first and tenth tees to get the fourth round in before the course could be washed out.

Lincicome got her birdies in on the first, fifth and seventh holes. She survived on bogey on the 12th, but the toughest test came on the 17th, which had a strong crosswind, and the 18th, which played straight into the gusts.

Lewis went out earlier and didn’t catch any rain until the 16th hole of her bogey-free round.

“It was still windy even when we teed off,” she said. “I knew the day was going to be hard and you just have to get through it — grind over every putt and every shot.”

Americans took the top five placings, with Cristie Kerr (71) and Angela Stanford (72) finishing at 11 under. All five are members of the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

They were followed by four South Koreans at 10-under 278 — Hee Won Han, Jenny Shin, Jiyai Shin and Na Yeon Choi.

World No. 1 Yani Yseng of Taiwan closed with a 73 to finished tied for 29th at 4 under.

Eathorne caddied for more than a year on the PGA Tour for Kris Blanks, then she let it be known on Facebook she was available and was contacted by Lincicome.

Lincicome has won two-of-four tournaments since they began working together, including the SafeRite Classic in Atlantic City in June. It is the first time Lincicome has won two events in one year and was her fifth LPGA win overall.

“Our first week together was Match Play and we lost the first round, but the next week was Atlantic City where we won,” Lincicome said with a laugh. “We had two weeks off before Portland last week, so jokingly, I told her I was going to fire her and rehire her back for Portland.

“So technically, Portland was our first week back together and this week, the second week, we won. So I just have to keep firing and rehiring her.”

Eathorne said she enjoyed the tournament almost as much as Lincicome.

“I never won on Tour myself, so it’s kind of cool to say I’ve been involved in two wins in one year,” she said. “I guess I never thought it would get that good, that fast.

“It’s been a lot of fun this week being a Canadian in Canada. Everyone’s asking me why I’m not playing and obviously there’s a very good reason I’m not playing. I’ve got a great job. I can be involved in a win and I know my game is not where it needs to be to do that.”

The low Canadian was Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., at 1 under. And 16-year-old Jisoo Keel of Coquitlam, B.C., was low amateur for the tournament at 4 over.

Next year’s Canadian Women’s Open is at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam.

There will be a second LPGA event in Canada next year. Rich Kuypers, who was assistant tournament director for the Open, will leave Golf Canada to become director of the new tournament in Waterloo, Ont.

Argos’ Foley Eager To Start Hunting Lions

Source: www.thestar.com - Bob Mitchell

(August 29, 2011) The old Ricky Foley is back for the Argos and that Ricky%20Foley_smallcan’t be good news for his former B.C. Lions teammates and quarterback Travis Lulay.

“I’m an aggressive and emotional guy and you can’t be as aggressive as you want when you’re not as comfortable on the field,” Foley, 29, said on Monday after practice in preparation for Friday’s game against the Lions at the Rogers Centre.

Since the Argos put Orlondo Steinauer in charge of the defence two games ago, Foley has been back at defensive end — a position where he earned the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian honours in 2009 as one of the league’s premier pass rushers — instead of often dropping back into the role of middle linebacker during the earlier part of this season.

“I’m more myself now and I appreciate Orlondo and coach (Jim) Barker for recognizing that and letting me be me,” said Foley, who has 39 tackles and two QB sacks this season, including one sack in the Argos’ 24-18 win over Saskatchewan on Aug. 18, the Boatmen’s last game.

“They’ve done a really good job at letting people play to their strengths. I’m back doing what I’ve had the most success with. I’ve got more confidence playing DE and getting after the quarterback instead of playing linebacker.

“I’d rather be in the midst of the big boys, making contact right off the first step. That’s what I’m used to. That’s where I can be aggressive.”

By Friday night, Foley expects to be in fire-up mode as he plays his former team for the first time since signing as a free agent with the Scullers last September.

It was a controversial signing. The Lions thought they had a deal to re-sign Foley as a free agent after he failed to catch on with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets. They even issued a media release but Foley decided to sign with the Argos so he could play closer to his family.

For now, the former York University player is trying to keep his emotions in check as the team prepares for what he says is “a must win” series of three games — back-to-back against the Lions and then a return match against the Riders in Regina.

“I’m sure I’ll have some different feelings come over me once the guys fly into town and my boys start messaging me,” said Foley, who played three seasons with the Lions after being drafted fourth over-all. “As one of the veterans, I do a pretty good job of keeping my emotions under wraps until right around game time.

“I’m sure it’s going to be really weird playing against B.C. When I was there, I always looked forward to coming back to the hometown.

“I keep in contact with a few guys. There’s probably a bit of bad blood with others because of what happened. But I don’t care about them. I still keep in touch with my boys on the team. We check on each other to make sure we’re doing well.”

Foley had 51 tackles and a career-high 12 sacks in his outstanding 2009 season, including three in one game against the Argos and QB Cody Picket.

“It was my biggest game outside of a playoff game that year,” said Foley who would love to put Lulay on the turf just as many times on Friday night.

“The main thing is that we have to win. That’s my main focus. These next few games are huge for us. This will be like a playoff game for us.

“It’s weird but B.C. has pretty much had the same kind of season. We’re both better teams than 2-6 teams.”

Kamloops’ Dylan Armstrong Aims To Be Canada’s First Champion Shot Putter

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman

(Aug 22, 2011)
Dylan Armstrong isn’t just the big guy now. He’s theDylan%20Armstrong_small main guy.

The easygoing shot putter from Kamloops, B.C., will be centre stage for Canada at the upcoming world track and field championships in Daegu, South Korea.

He is by far Canada’s best shot to win a medal at the Aug. 27-Sept. 4 event, having been a dominant figure on the international circuit this season and being ranked No. 1 in the world right now.

Carrying the banner for Canada in past years have been hurdlers Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, who is pregnant, Perdita Felicien, who has struggled this year, and Armstrong’s best friend, 800-metre runner Gary Reed, who retired at the end of last season.

Before that, it was sprinters like Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin.

“I try not to think about it,” he said. “We have a lot of good athletes on the team. I think we have a few others who are capable of medalling. I just have to go there and do what I’m good at, keep it basic, keep it simple. I’ve worked day in and day out on this all year. I’ve got to try to do my best showing on that day.”

But he does acknowledge the expectations have never been greater.

“I think people expect a lot coming off of a strong summer season,” said Armstrong, who leads the Diamond League with three victories. “I think that’s fair to say. The more successful you get, the more higher the expectations that are on you for sure. I’m fine with that. I know what I’m capable of doing. I’ve got to just crank one out there and try to do the best that I can to come out on top.

“It would give me even more of a confidence boost going into 2012. I think one of the things this year I’m really pleased with is that my consistency has been really good. When you look at the big picture, that’s really important as a shot putter or any athlete. I told myself at the beginning of this year if I could just get myself into that higher level, it will really help going into 2012.”

Armstrong came so achingly close at the Beijing Olympics, missing a bronze medal by a mere centimetre with what at the time was his personal best throw.

“I think being in that exciting environment definitely helps,” he said. “I think being there and feeling everything definitely adds to the adrenaline for sure.”

Canada has never in history won a medal in the throwing events at the world championships or Olympic level.

“It would definitely mean a lot not just to me but the community that supported me, my sponsors, people that have been with me from Day 1. I definitely know I’m overdue. I’ve got to go now. This is the time. I’m definitely excited.”

Shots in the arm

DYLAN ARMSTRONG

Born Jan. 13, 1981, Kamloops, B.C.

Coach: Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk

IN THE CIRCLE

 • Uncorked Canadian record and world leading throw of 22.21 to win sixth title at national championships in July

 • Leads Diamond League standings with wins this season at Rome, Doha and Birmingham

 • 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, New Delhi, India

 • Fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

 • Started as a hammer thrower before switching to shot put

QUOTE

“The moment you start moping around and dwelling on it (missing an Olympic medal by a centimetre in Beijing), you shoot yourself in the foot. That's my rocket fuel going into London. It's just going to push me harder.”

Rudisha Takes 800m At Worlds

Source: www.thestar.com - Raf Casert

(Aug 30, 2011) DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA — Yelena Isinbayeva extended
David%20Rudisha_smallher string of failures at major events on Tuesday, going under the pole vault bar on her final attempt while trailing five of her rivals for gold at the world championships.

When the Russian was packing up her bag, Fabiana Murer of Brazil added the outdoor world title to the indoor championship only one year before the London Olympics.

Murer set a South American record of 4.85 metres to beat Martina Strutz, who set a German record of 4.80. Svetlana Feofanova gave Russia bronze with a height of 4.75.

“I lost again,” Isinbayeva said. “The Olympic year is more important. I was just unlucky.”

Still, it left her without a medal for three straight global championships after a run of seven straight golds in Olympics and world outdoor and indoor competitions.

“I will delete everything in my memory before I go to the Olympics,” Isinbayeva said.

Murer, instead, will cherish every moment.

“I expected it to be more competitive, but many athletes went out early,” the Brazilian said. “It is a lot of psychology because we have a bar to clear.”

In the 800 metres, world-record holder
David Rudisha of Kenya beat rival Abubaker Kaki of Sudan to win his first world title with yet another dominating performance. It was the 32nd straight race he has won in the last two years.

In a thrilling 400 final, Kirani James of Grenada fought from behind to beat favourite LaShawn Merritt of the United States at the line, and Robert Harting of Germany extended his domination of the men’s discus. Also, Tatyana Chernova of Russia ended the reign of Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, coming from behind to take gold.

But in front of 40,000 fans at Daegu Stadium, nothing could match another implosion by Isinbayeva.

Imperial despite recent performances to back it up, the two-time Olympic champion got into the competition last when others were already fighting for survival at a height of 4.65 metres.

It turned out to be the only mark she would clear, only a slight improvement over her no-height performance at the worlds in Berlin two years ago, starting a spiral of decline. She took a one-year break after losing to Murer at last year’s indoor championships, hoping to come back stronger in Daegu.

It didn’t matter.

“Everything was ready for a victory, but I do not know what went wrong,” Isinbayeva said.

When she used to go into a huddle, covered by blankets or towels to concentrate, her competitors used to fail. Now, oblivious to the reclining former world champion, they went higher and higher, leaving the Russian behind.

After Isinbayeva first missed at 4.75 metres, her rivals kept scaling the bar, forcing her into two attempts at 4.80 to even have a shot at the title. She failed.

Along with Chernova, Yuliya Zaripova put some balm on Russia’s wound by winning the steeplechase ahead of Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia.

In the heptathlon, Chernova made the difference in the javelin early in the day, when the Russian’s season best throw of 52.95 metres contrasted sharply with Ennis’ 39.95.

In the concluding 800, Chernova knew she could lose nine seconds to the Briton, but with a great finishing kick almost beat the hard-charging Ennis at the tape.

It left the Russian with a total of 6,880 points, compared to 6,751 for Ennis. Jennifer Oeser of Germany took bronze with 6,572.

“It was so easy for me. It was a great end of the year and will help me prepare for the Olympics with the sense that I am a winner,” Chernova said. “It strengthened the spirit and, if I can win over Jessica here, it can give me confidence for the future.”

Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., finished ninth with 6,268 points, the best-ever Canadian finish in the seven-discipline event at a world championship.

“I have it in me to get on the podium I just need to put it all together in one consistent heptathlon,” Zelinka said. “That is the most important thing I am taking away from this.”

Ruky Abdulai of Coquitlam, B.C., was 13th with 6,212 points.

Over the past two years, Ennis won gold in the multi-event indoor and outdoor world championships and at the European championships. She was counting on another outstanding performance for a boost of confidence ahead of her home Olympics in London next year.

“It was always going to be tough this year and will be tougher next year,” Ennis said.

Instead, it was the 23-year-old Chernova who won her first major title.

At the halfway mark in the competition, the United States leads the medal standings with four gold and eight overall, ahead of Kenya and Russia with three gold among their eight medals.

Silva Knocks Out Okami At UFC 134

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press

(August 27, 2011) Anderson Silva beat Yushin Okami by knockoutSilva28_jpg_1313182cl-8_small with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left in the second round, winning his 15th straight fight and successfully defending his middleweight title at UFC 134 on Saturday night.

Silva sent Okami to the ground with a right-handed shot to the jaw, then pounded him with strikes to the head to force the fight to be stopped.

The 36-year-old Brazilian, touted as the MMA's best pound-for-pound fighter, improved to 29-4 (14-0 in UFC), while Okami fell to 27-6 (10-3).

Silva's last loss had been against Okami in 2006, when the Brazilian dominated the bout but was disqualified after an illegal kick.

Silva has defended his title a record nine times and is the longest-reigning champion in UFC history.

"I'm so happy," Silva said. "I've trained so hard for this."

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is making a much-anticipated return to Brazil, the country where mixed martial arts came to life in the early 1990s. There hadn't been a UFC event in Brazil since 1998, when the sport was not nearly as popular as it is now.

Silva, a striker known as "The Spider," struggled to get to Okami in the first of the five-round fight, but he came out attacking in the second and dominated.

He struck a right-handed shot with 4:17 left to send Okami to the ground for the first time. The Japanese fighter recovered, but not after the second charge by Silva in front of more than 15,000 fans who packed the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

The 30-year-old Okami had won six of his last seven fights.

Brazilians won four of the five fights on the main card.

In the light heavyweight division, Brazilian Mauricio "Shogun" Rua knocked out American Forrest Griffin in the first round with a series of strikes to the head. Rua had lost to Griffin in his UFC debut in 2007, and the crowd celebrated the victory by chanting, "Shogun is back, Shogun is back."

In the heavyweights, home-crowd favourite Minotauro Nogueira defeated American Brendan Schaub by knockout despite not having fought in 18 months because of a series of injuries, giving Brazil its first win of the night in the main card. The emotional victory gave the 35-year-old Nogueira a 37-6-1 record.

Bulgaria's Stanislav Nedkov made his UFC debut by defeating Brazil's Luiz Cane by knockout in a light heavyweight fight to improve his record to 12-0, while Brazil's Edson Barboza reached 9-0 by beating England's Ross Pearson with a split decision in the lightweight division.

Some of the celebrities at the event Saturday included retired soccer star Ronaldo, whose sports marketing agency manages Silva's career.

The fans constantly chanted during the fights, and even some soccer-stadium songs made their way into the fights.

UFC President Dana White has already said he plans to return to Brazil soon and increase the number of events in the country of 190 million people. There is even talk of a possible fight at a soccer stadium, which could attract a crowd of nearly 100,000 fans.

Knicks Hire Former Hawks Coach Mike Woodson

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(August 29, 2011) NEW YORK— The New York Knicks hired former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson on Monday as an assistant to Mike D'Antoni.

Though frequently considered a defensive specialist, Woodson made clear during a conference call that he can help D'Antoni in many roles.

“I'm just a coach that's looking for an opportunity. I have experience and I'm just excited about the opportunity,” Woodson said. “That's all a coach in this league can ask for.”

Woodson led the Hawks to three playoff berths in his six seasons in Atlanta, but was let go after they were swept in embarrassing fashion by Orlando in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.

He interviewed for the Detroit job that instead went to Lawrence Frank and also was a candidate in Houston, but now will try to help D'Antoni address the Knicks' struggles on the defensive end.

Yet D'Antoni also tried to downplay the notion of a “defensive specialist.”

“I don't know where that came from, other than people writing about it,” he said. “But he's a good coach.”

Woodson began his pro playing career with the Knicks as the No. 12 pick in the 1980 NBA draft out of Indiana, where he played with former New York coach and president Isiah Thomas, and current general manager Glen Grunwald.

As an assistant to Larry Brown in Detroit, Woodson was credited with building the defence that helped the Pistons win the 2004 NBA championship. He was then hired in Atlanta, where he increased his win total every year from 13 in his first season to 53 in 2009-10. But the Hawks lost their four second-round games to the Magic by an average of 25.3 points, the most lopsided sweep in NBA history.

He gets back to work now with a Knicks team that has plenty of offence with Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, but remains one of the league's poorest defensive clubs. D'Antoni's strength has always been his offensive schemes, and Woodson said he can offer input in that regard, as well as working with young players.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Olympic Champ Robles Disqualified After Winning Hurdles

Source: www.thestar.com

(August 29, 2011) DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA — Olympic champion Dayron Robles was disqualified for pulling rival Liu Xiang out of the hunt for gold in the 110-metre hurdles Monday, handing victory in one of the most anticipated races of the world championships to American outsider Jason Richardson.

In a race almost as controversial as the 100 final disqualification of Usain Bolt on Sunday, Robles crossed the line first, but Liu appealed after the Cuban tangled with him over the two last hurdles, which suddenly pushed the Chinese into third place.

A Cuban counter-appeal was dismissed, giving the title to Richardson. The American profited from Liu’s tangle to sneak across the line in second.

“When I approached the ninth hurdle, Robles pulled me. It made me slow down,” said Liu, who had finished third but was bumped up to silver. “At first, I thought I would be the champion or at least second. But Robles pulled me.”

Instead it was Richardson, who said he was just doing the best he could.

“Whatever reward I get from doing my best, I will accept. If it’s gold, silver or bronze, it doesn’t matter,” Richardson said. “It’s bittersweet. You never want to see someone as talented as Robles disqualified.”

The decision left the Cubans angry.

“He won the race. That’s what we know,” said Robles’ coach, Santiago Antunez.

But Liu was adamant there was crucial interference between the runners in the neighbouring lanes.

With David Oliver, Robles and Liu, the three fastest men in history lining up against each other, fireworks were assured.

Oliver was the first man out of the race for gold, ploughing into the second hurdle and never recovering. Robles had used his lightning start to build a sizable lead, but slowly Liu got back at him until both were almost level with two of the 10 hurdles remaining.

Robles and Liu first seemed to touch when clearing the ninth hurdle, and then again on the final one. Liu caught the final hurdle between his legs and lost vital momentum as he fell back.

Oliver, a pre-race favourite from the United States who ended up fourth, said such tangles in an action-packed race should be no reason to change the result.

“So he might have gotten dq for hitting Liu, man that happens almost every single hurdle race, happened to me in the semi...tough break,” Oliver wrote on Twitter.

Robles had crossed the line in 13.14 seconds, followed by Richardson in 13.16 and the fast slowing Liu in 13.27. Andrew Turner of Britain crossed in 13.44 for bronze, the same official time as Oliver.

The Americans won a second sprint title when Carmelita Jeter came back from behind to win the 100 ahead of Jamaican veteran Veronica Campbell-Brown. Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze.

The United States was also expected to top the women’s 400, but it was Amantle Montsho who gave Botswana its first medal at a world championship, and a gold one to start out with.

Allyson Felix, a three-time world champion in the 200, was even with Montsho as they entered the final straight but couldn’t overtake her down the stretch. Felix was looking for a 200-400 double at the worlds and two relay titles as well.

Montsho won in a national record time of 49.56 seconds. Felix was second in 49.59 and Anastasiya Kapachinskaya of Russia was third in 50.24.

Defending champion Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States finished seventh in 51.32.

Also, Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland won gold the pole vault, clearing 5.90 metres and beating Lazaro Borges of Cuba for silver on a countback of fewer missed attempts.

Favourite Renaud Lavillenie of France took bronze with a height of 5.85.

Koji Murofushi of Japan won the hammer throw, edging Krisztian Pars of Hungary. Murofushi twice threw 81.24 metres to win gold, holding off Pars by just six centimetres. Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia had a mark of 79.39 for bronze.

Murofushi, the 2004 Olympic champion, won his first world title at 36.

In the women’s shot put, Valerie Adams of New Zealand defended her title, winning with a throw of 21.24 metres. Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus was second with 20.05 and Jillian Camarena-Williams of the United States took third with 20.02.

NBA Players And Owners Resume Bargaining

Source: www.thestar.com - Brian Mahoney

(Aug 31, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Top negotiators for NBA ownersCharles%20Barkley_small and players are back at the bargaining table for just the second time since the league’s lockout began. Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and San Antonio owner Peter Holt, head of the labour relations committee, are representing the owners. They were meeting Wednesday at a Manhattan hotel with union executive director Billy Hunter, union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers and attorney Ron Klempner. The sides last met on Aug. 1, despite saying they hoped to follow that with multiple sessions before the end of the month. They remain far apart on major issues, with training camps scheduled to open in October.