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September 15, 2011

Do we dare suggest that we may experience the return of summer weather this month - however, briefly.  My fingers are crossed! 

This week I encourage you to check out my in my PHOTO GALLERY for just a sampling of pictures of some TIFF events I was lucky to be part of. 

One of the most poignant moments during this TIFF week took place Monday night when I saw the screening of RasTa: A Soul's Journey, featuring
Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of Rita and BobMarley. Donisha's mother, Sharon Marley, flew up for the screening.  See my review under RECAP and pictures also in my PHOTO GALLERY 

So check it all out below and I welcome any feedback!

Just click on the
photo or the headline and you'll get directly to the article and your latest entertainment news!

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


Review: RasTa: A Soul's Journey

Source:  Dawn Langfield

Donisha Prendergast is the delightful and childlike spirit who is the lead character behind this journey to connect to the roots and evolution of Rastafari.  She is the eldest granddaughter of Rita and Bob Marley, who was given the opportunity to explore the similarities between Rastafarian beliefs and the various religious cultures around the world.  In doing so, the film incorporates the origin of the name of the movement and the movement itself - all the vision of Toronto-based Patricia Scarlett.

[See photos from the post-screening reception in my PHOTO GALLERY.]

Donisha sets out to gather global experiences of dedicated Rastafari in
8 different countries - Canada, United States, Ethiopia, Israel, South Africa, Jamaica, England and India, all in all, four continents.  It was surprising how little I really knew about the history of the culture. 

Some of the footage collected for this movie is quite impressive - including rare footage of
Bob Marley as well as footage of Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia (his given name was Lij Tafari Makonnen, "Ras Tafari" before being crowned Emperor) and when he visited Jamaica.  But the movie is not simply filled with cold factual data and impersonal stories.

Donisha has a genuine thirst for knowledge which was reflected in her in-depth interviews; from leaders to those who quietly live the life of a Rastafarian.  Her capacity to celebrate and embrace those practicing Rastafarian beliefs, sometimes under heavy social and political discrimination, is both endearing and heartbreaking.  These issues and sacrifices eventually breaks this young warrior temporarily as sheds tears on behalf of those gone before and those that are persecuted.

I found myself drawn in by the story and her ultimate conviction to
dispel the myths and stereotypes put on Rastas, as well as to educate and assist the masses to understand the culture.  When she cried onscreen, I found myself wiping my own tears which indicates a strong connection she evokes in the telling of this journey.

She references her famous grandfather,
Bob Marley, many times throughout the movie choking on her words, "I miss him every day".  Many of her interviewees credit Bob Marley with bringing the culture to the forefront through his music and unwavering message.

Rita Marley is featured as well, discussing Bob's last minutes on this earth and the impact of reggae music globally.  She speaks with authority and confidence with a twinkle in her eye for her granddaughter.

There is an inward glow and presence of Donisha Predergast.  You will absolutely adore her by the movie's end and I anticipate we will be seeing this young woman again - many times.  The fact that she is Bob Marley's granddaughter is summed up by the statement I heard her say after the screening to those congratulating her, "Tell your children ... please!".  Her whole soul and being radiates the legacy and spirit of Rastafarian culture.

Stay tuned for further updates on Canadian screenings. GO SEE this film - it will educate and inspire you.

If you would like to support this project by helping to market and promote the film, you can help by making a contribution online and/or purchasing a RasTa eco T-shirt here:


Fighting Words Aplenty At King Of The Dot

Source: www.thestar.com - By Christian Pearce

(Sep 9, 2011) From KRS-One vs. MC Shan to Jay-Z vs. Nas, rap battles have played an elemental role in the evolution of hip hop. While such clashes have produced classic records (Boogie Down Production's “The Bridge Is Over,” Common's “The Bitch in Yoo,” and Nas's “Ether,” to name but a few), lyrical conflict serves a greater purpose. With an art form that at its essence demands pride and power, rap battles weed out the relatively meek, ensuring that only the worthy — the most clever and least merciful — sustain their reign. In the immortal words of Rocky IV's Ivan Drago, a rapper in battle “must break” the competition.

Exhibit A: Toronto's own
King of the Dot (KOTD) rap battle series, returning with a new event this Saturday. Originating in late 2008, KOTD has grown from rhyme fracases in nondescript downtown parks with a few dozen spectators (sometimes in the frigid cold), into all-out world wars of rap filling up T.O. nightclubs and drawing contenders from as far afield as the U.K., Norway, Sweden, and the Philippines.

Their potential reward? Only the respect of the audience and anything their opponents are willing to wager on the verdict of the five-judge panel.

It's not a forum for the faint of heart. Mixing the cartoonish bravado of wrestlers with the real skill of MMA fighters, KOTD rappers set out to psychologically maim, cripple and kill those they face.

“Yo Toronto, y'all wanna see a dead body?!” Florida's 24/7 asked the crowd before beginning his lyrical assault on Hamilton's Dose at KOTD's early August World Domination 2 (WD2) event.

Through three 90-second verses each, competitors spit machine-gun barbs that would burst the tear ducts of the squeamish. One's appearance — the overweight are in tough — is but the tip of the iceberg. Racist cracks, sexist slurs and gruesome shots at ill and deceased family and friends are, for all intents and purposes, fair game. When Vancouver's Mad Child, he of Swollen Members fame, came up against San Jose's Dirtbag Dan at WD2, the latter targeted his opponent's severe problems with drug addiction. In an exhaustive search for diss fodder, no stone has been left un-Googled.

“I'm a f--king battle rapper!” Nova Scotia's Pat Stay rapped at WD2, dropping below the belt against Detroit's Marv Won, attacking both Marv's autistic younger brother and his dead homeboy, Proof. “We're the rudest f--king people on earth!”

In KOTD, like great rap battles before, no punch(line) is pulled. It's intellectual war, and humour is a critical weapon. Fierce jesterism is projected with regal authority, the crowd's scandalized roar an ultimate salute.

And while years of events have, on occasion, seen battles degenerate into fisticuffs, the point of KOTD is to raise conflict to a higher level. As the T-Dot's Mindbender, who will compete in Saturday's event after practising his verses — a tribute to 2Pac's awesome diss track “Hit 'Em Up” — 20 times a day for two weeks, told the Star of KOTD, “It's really brilliant, but brutal.”

“Everyone who’s involved with this knows the level of competition they’re at,” KOTD founder, host and battler Organik tells the Star. “They know what’s coming at them. It’s all a sport, it’s a game; we’re putting ourselves out there to be made fun of.”

Battles in KOTD's three divisions — Prove Yourself (for new jacks); Ground Zero (the middle tier); and KOTD (the best of the best) — are all featured Saturday, 1 p.m.- 9 p.m., at Aurum nightclub, 261 Richmond St. W. Admission $10.

So You Think You Can Dance Canada Cancelled

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Sep 13, 2011) After a triumphant Season 4 finale this past weekend, Canada’s dancers will no longer face the music on national TV. The Star has learned that So You Think You Can Dance Canada has been cancelled.

“I can confirm that So You Think You Can Dance Canada has not been renewed for a fifth season,” said Scott Henderson, vice-president, communications, Bell Media.

The company released the following statement about the decision: “The producers of So You Think You Can Dance Canada created four seasons of groundbreaking, high-quality television, delivering on a creative level everything you could ask for as broadcaster, and ending on a creative high note.

“After four seasons and 92 episodes, CTV has decided to pursue other program strategies. This decision was made after careful consideration, including viewership and economic factors. We remain extremely proud of the legacy of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, including raising the profile of dance in this country.”

The show remained strong in the ratings this summer, averaging just over a million viewers a week, making it one of the highest rated Canadian-made programs on the air.

However sources said the numbers for Sunday’s finale were almost 30 per cent lower than last year.

Other sources said production staff had been asked to cut the series’ budget in half before the decision was made to cancel.

“This is the show I’ve loved the most and been the most passionate about,” said Sandra Faire, executive producer, when asked for comment. “I’m very sad it’s been cancelled, for me and for the whole dance community.”

A success out of the gate, the series provided a showcase for Canada’s young dance community, making stars out of winners and non-winners alike, including Nico Archambault, Tara-Jean Popowich and Denys Drozdyuk.

On Sunday, Jordan Clark, a 19-year-old contemporary dancer from Tottenham, Ont., was declared Canada’s favourite dancer and given $100,000 and a car.

The news was met with shock by members of the cast and crew.

“I’m really upset because this was a passion of mine, this was my life,” said Tre Armstong, one of the judges on the series.

“Canada really deserves this show still, we really want it. We still need it. The dancers across Canada still need this platform to shine. It really is such a horrible shame that it’s gone so quickly. Too quickly.

“It was the second highest rated show. I really don’t understand what happened.”

Said fellow judge Jean Marc Généreux, “I have no regrets as far as what we produced. But (I have) a lot of questions in my head about why a network like CTV, an independent network, who always said they were going to do the best, the best, the best, which is what we were and we’re no longer apparently on air.

“At the end of the day, I don’t understand why a network would do this. Our production was responsible for the entire dance industry in Canada. (The show) was about one thing: culture and dance. I’m really, really sad, but dancing just lost its platform in Canada.”

Blake McGrath, who has been both a choreographer and judge on the show, said, “SYTYCDC has changed dance in our country forever. It’s unfortunate that it has been cancelled, even with high ratings, amazing production and incredible dancers. Sad that Canada will not be blessed to watch the younger generation of dancers. I am positive they will be given their time to shine elsewhere.

“I thank CTV for hosting an amazing four years of dance and for putting Canadian dance on the map. It was a privilege for me to be a part of SYTYCDC’s journey!”

“Wow, I’m a bit stunned,” said Lee Kinoshita-Bevington, costume designer for Dance, when told of the cancellation. “The ratings are very good and we were probably thinking it was going on.”

The show had high production costs with auditions across the country and live performances. When Kinoshita-Bevington was asked if budgetary concerns were ever an issue, he said they were mentioned, but it was nothing dramatic.

“We were told to tighten it up if we could. The look of the show is very important and it’s one of the areas where they really wanted to put money into, but we were being careful, for sure. We were being very aware of what we were buying, and recycling things and making sure we utilized everything.

“As well, we wanted to give the best possible look and, this year, all areas kind of came together, I think it was the best year ever for the show, from a performance, from a look standpoint.”

It’s not the first time CTV has cancelled one of its hit versions of an American reality series. After six seasons, the broadcaster cancelled Canadian Idol in 2008. Some speculated at the time that it was because the network was putting all its resources into SYTYCDC.

Dance wasn’t the only CTV show to get the axe this week. The network said Hiccups and Dan for Mayor, which starred Corner Gas alumni Brent Butt, Nancy Robertson and Fred Ewanuick, will not get new seasons.

With files from Debra Yeo, The Canadian Press

‘Spartacus’ Star Andy Whitfield Dies Of Lymphoma At 39

Source: www.thestar.com - By Andrew Dalton
, Associated Press

(Sep 12, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—
Andy Whitfield, who played the title role in the hit cable series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at age 39, according to representatives and family.

Whitfield died Sunday in Sydney, Australia, 18 months after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, manager Sam Maydew told the Associated Press.

“On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18 month battle with lymphoma cancer,” Whitfield’s wife Vashti said in a statement. “He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.”

Andy Whitfield — who was born in Wales and moved to Australia in 1999 — was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave in “Spartacus,” a role made famous by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film.

The series proved a breakout hit for the Starz network and made waves with its graphic violence and sexuality.

Whitfield appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season that aired in 2010, and was preparing to shoot the second when he was diagnosed with cancer.

While waiting for Whitfield’s treatment and expected recovery, the network produced a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, that aired earlier this year with only a brief voiceover from the actor.

But in January after Whitfield’s condition grew worse, the network announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement Sunday night. “We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in ‘Spartacus’ and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life.”

Whitfield’s previous credits included appearances on the Australian TV shows Packed to the Rafters and McLeod’s Daughters.

Hear Amy Winehouse And Tony Bennett's "Body And Soul"

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

(Sep 14, 2011) Given her infamous bad habits, it was tempting to look at Amy Winehouse's death this summer as inevitable. That will be harder to do now that we can hear, and more importantly see, her singing with Tony Bennett on "Body and Soul," which got released today, what would have been her 28th birthday. The video shows the late singer neither looking or sounding frail on the track for Bennett's upcoming duets album. Instant reviews of the track have been mostly kind, which is probably inevitable. It helps, too, that proceeds from the single, a standard first cut back in 1930, go to the new Amy Winehouse Foundation, to benefit children in need.

Only Hockey Player To Survive Russian Plane Crash Dies Of His Injuries

Source: www.thestar.com - Lynn Berry

(Sep 12, 2011) MOSCOW—The only member of a top Russian hockey team to survive a plane crash that killed 44 people died Monday of his injuries in a Moscow hospital.

The Vishnevsky hospital said 26-year-old
Alexander Galimov died of the severe burns that covered about 90 per cent of his body, despite the best efforts of doctors in its burn unit, considered one of the best in Russia.

The crash Wednesday of a chartered Yak-42 jet outside the western city of Yaroslavl took the lives of 37 players, coaches and staff of the local Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club. The only other person to survive, flight crew member Alexander Sizov, remained in intensive care at Moscow’s Sklifosovsky hospital.

Unlike many other members of Lokomotiv who were European Union citizens and once played in the NHL, Galimov was a native of Yaroslavl and a product of its youth program.

His death is certain to be deeply mourned in the city, where the team’s consistently strong performance was a source of great pride.

At rallies following the crash, fans chanted “Galimov, live for the whole team!” and other slogans dedicated to him.

“All of Yaroslavl, all of the country, all of the world followed the doctors’ words, believing, hoping, praying that he would defeat death and remain with us,” Yaroslavl Governor Sergei Vakhrukov said.

The governor described Galimov, a forward, as a fan favourite who remained true to his home club for many years.

“He carried the team spirit of Lokomotiv and through his indomitable character often reversed the course of the most difficult games,” Vakhrukov said.

A memorial ceremony Saturday in the Lokomotiv ice arena drew an estimated 100,000 people, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The crash, one of the worst-ever aviation disasters in sports, shocked all of Russia and the international hockey community.

The team was heading to Minsk, Belarus, to play its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season when the plane crashed into the bank of the Volga River shortly after takeoff and burst into flames.

Russian aviation experts say they have come to no conclusions yet about the cause of the crash. The plane appeared to have trouble gaining altitude, but investigators said its flight data recorders showed that all three engines were operating up until the moment the plane crashed.

Aviation authorities have also launched safety checks on all of the approximately 60 Yak-42 jets still in service in Russia, and grounded at least four of them.

Experts blame Russia’s poor aviation safety record on an aging fleet, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.


Lauryn Hill Misfires, But Where Are The Props For Nas?

Source: www.globeandmail.com – Dave Morris

(Sep 9, 2011) We may never know what Ms. Lauryn Hill is playing at, or whether her demons are, in fact, playing her. Either way, watching her perform is frustrating. She can still sing; she can still rap. Putting on an entertaining show for very forgiving fans, though, is something she either can’t do – or won’t.

The multitalented Hill belongs in a lineage of African-American musical wunderkinds from Michael Jackson to James Brown to Prince. But where those three had incredibly productive years before going off the rails, Hill had only the Fugees’ two discs and a multimillion-selling solo album, 1998’s
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, that cleaned up at the Grammy Awards and gave her the music-industry equivalent of a blank cheque. More than a decade later, Hill has six children, one other release – MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, a strange and depressing live album – and a cloud of speculation that follows her every move, alleging that she is crazy, on drugs, a religious zealot, or all three.

And hey, she might be, but based on her set at the Toronto stop of the hip-hop festival Rock the Bells along with veteran rapper
Nas, the jury’s still out. She looked perfectly normal, with an afro worthy of Pam Grier and a classy leather skirt and jacket combo, and apologized for being more than an hour late while telling the crowd, “I’m here for you.” Hill tore through her lone solo album at cartoonish speeds, however, turning melancholy breakup anthems like Ex-Factor and When It Hurts So Bad into rave-ups and gesticulating at her band with a series of pained expressions and urgent commands.

Even her between-song banter was hurried to the point of being barely comprehensible, and although half of the crowd stuck around to hear her do Fugees hits like
Ready Or Not and Killing Me Softly, a steady stream of evacuees swelled to a flood well before she finished, ending with a breakneck cover of Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved. Granted, James Brown was well known for speeding up his songs in performance, but Brown’s control-freak nature was always on display. In the few moments where Hill slowed down long enough to hang onto a note, such as when her band cut out behind the “you can’t run away” portion of Fu-Gee-La, it was breathtaking how much skill and feeling came through in a split second. Why she refused to tackle a whole song that way is a mystery.

Hill and Nas have a lot in common, even leaving aside their 1996 hit together,
If I Ruled the World (Imagine That), which they performed together near the end of Hill’s set. In the years since their respective debuts, both felt trapped by fan and record-label expectations, and both have been written off more than once. But their compulsion to pursue their respective muses is hard to dismiss.

For many rap fans, Nas performing his 1994 debut,
Illmatic, with producers DJ Premier and Pete Rock and rapper AZ in tow is the equivalent of Bob Dylan doing Blonde on Blonde – the genre's foremost lyrical enigma recreating an album widely acclaimed as among the best ever made. Judging from the audible indifference during much of Nas's artistically bulletproof set, the 1980s babies in attendance hadn't done their homework. The MC dubbed “God’s Son” ended on a note the crowd appreciated with relatively more recent hits like a bruising version of 2001's Made You Look. If justice is slow rather than merely AWOL, Nas will be better appreciated in another decade or so. But I'm not waiting to exhale.

Lauryn Hill and Nas

Rock the Bells tour

At the Molson Amphitheatre

in Toronto on Thursday

Special to The Globe and Mail

Canadian Music Of The ’90s Star Of CBC Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Sep 14, 2011) “Life is a Highway” was more than a catchy, top-selling radio hit by Tom Cochrane. It was a battle cry for the international emergence of the Canadian music scene.

That’s according to Nicholas Jennings, writer and producer of
Life is a Highway: Canadian Pop Music in the ’90s (airing Sept. 15 and 22 at 8 p.m. on CBC).

The two-part Doc Zone special covers an explosive decade in Canadian music. Female artists, especially, dominated the world music stage, led by Céline Dion, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang.

“In terms of the business and the number of international artists, I
don’t think Canada had a richer, more fruitful decade than the ’90s,” says Jennings, who was aided on the project by producer/director Gary McGroarty. “It really was the time when everything exploded.”

Jennings, who used to cover music in the ’80s and ’90s for Macleans, is running out of decades in his quest to document the Canadian music scene. He previously wrote and produced documentaries which looked back at the ’60s (Shakin’ All Over), ’70s (This Beat Goes On) and ’80s (Rise Up), and plans to keep on going with a look at the first decade of this century.

“This is the fourth in the series, so when you look at it that way it’s been a decade of work,” says Jennings. “We are catching up with the present rapidly.”

The ’90s stood out for Canada in ways beyond the emergence of female artists, he says. The rise of indie bands, some of them starting out as buskers, was just as explosive. “Barenaked Ladies, Our Lady Peace, Sloan: all these bands were all peaking at the same time.”

Barenaked Ladies front man Ed Robertson, one of many musicians interviewed on the documentary, talks about the band’s humble roots. He marvels at how a cassette demo tape the band made was outselling major label releases from U2 and Madonna.

“For the first time ever, you didn’t need a label,” says Murray Foster, then a member (as was Life is a Highway host Jian Ghomeshi) of Moxy Fruvous. “There was a moment in ’91 where there was us and The Waltons and the Barenaked Ladies and the Tea Party. All unsigned and drawing massive crowds.”

Up to that point, being grazed and unsigned was the end of the road for many Canadian bands. Suddenly, as Foster says, independent cassettes were a path to fame.

“It was a very cool time,” he says. “There was this sudden consciousness among listeners that there was stuff happening in the streets and in the clubs that was more exciting than what was happening on the radio.”

Back before viral video became a YouTube phenomenon, MuchMusic could also help make or break bands, says Jennings. When the Barenaked Ladies crammed themselves into a Speakers Corner booth, they bought their way onto the air for a loonie with their goofy yet infectious rendition of “Be My Yoko Ono.”

Jennings laments that “MuchMusic doesn’t really exist anymore. It used to be the nation’s music station. Now it’s basically all reality shows and sitcoms. It doesn’t play anything like the role it did certainly through the ’90s.”

Jennings also credits established bands like The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo for giving younger Canadian artists a helping hand by placing them as opening acts on cross-Canada tours.

Besides the rise of international music and hip-hop, the ’90s were also the time of the Celtic boom, says Jennings, singling out Loreena McKennitt. Like many Torontonians, he used to see her playing her harp and “selling her cassettes out of the back of her Honda Civic” outside the St. Lawrence Market in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Savvy McKennitt built her own database, getting customers to put their names and phone numbers on a clip board. By the time the Internet arrived, McKennitt had a customer connection major labels could only dream about.

When the labels did come calling, McKennitt knew her fans would follow and wisely held onto ownership of her catalogue, making a fortune in television and theatrical music rights.

Says Jennings, “It’s why she’s a multi-millionairess today. She’s the godmother of independent music in Canada.”

Annie Clark's St. Vincent Takes The Long Route To The Hard Truths

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

(Sep 10, 2011) In pop music, we conventionally associate sincerity with simplicity: three chords and the truth, preferably with acoustic guitar. Annie Clark (who performs as St. Vincent) momentarily plays to type when she tells us on her third album that she's had it with pretense. "I've played dumb when I knew better, I've tried too hard to be clever," she sings, while strumming a very plain harmony.

But Clark is clever, and her music isn't simple. Strange Mercy is full of puzzles waiting to be solved, disorientations to overcome. It's more like life than other pop music, and it got that way by putting together aspects of pop music that don't conventionally fit. It's an essay in recombinant sincerity.

The first track is almost a manifesto for the rest. The warbly keyboards, aggressive guitars and upright drum beats are all in time with each other, but seem like they're speaking different languages. Clark's airy unconcerned voice floats over the top, like the voice of a hostess who has deliberately filled her party with people who don't go together, just to see how the sparks fly.

The disc is full of stylistic mash-ups, marrying sugary vintage Broadway moves with dirty guitars, disco rhythms and funk outbreaks. Surgeon opens with a lush wordless melody, like something from a high-class fifties musical, gains drums and bass for the lyrics (about being cut open), before following an early guitar clue into a full-on funk explosion. Northern Lights follows a similar path, ending up with a synthesizer bit that sounds like a battle between wasp colonies.

"Did you ever really stare at me, like I stared at you?" Clark sings in Neutered Fruit, over a distant floating chorus, and again we seem to be getting to something vulnerable and essential. But then drums and guitar come in, all stubby and full of broad daylight, not apparently supportive of sentimental recollection at all. But isn't that how it is? The world doesn't actually go all soft-focus when we're having a moment, as Clark herself has to remember sometimes. "So I thought I'd learned my lesson, but I secretly expected / a choir at the shore and confetti through the falling air," she sings in Champagne Year, her clear light voice crumbling, for once, at the bottom of her register.

Mostly she sings close to the ear, so close you can hear every intake of breath. Surely that voice, addressing us so intimately, wouldn't lie, or won't any more. "I've told whole lies with a half-smile," she sings, and you feel that she's going straight from now on, but then the music bends and bursts in a way you don't expect. Her evident artifice challenges us to acknowledge what we might like to overlook: that every pop song contains artifice. Sincerity can be a pose like any other. The truth can resemble an illusion.

I'm tempted to think that Clark's affection for the sheen and sunny promise of old Tin Pan Alley songwriting - which haunts the album from start to finish - and her own rather virginal voice, are the source of her investigations in the mucky backstories of pop-music truth. It's hard to listen to the young Judy Garland without hearing the layers of cunning premeditation that underlay what she was singing and how she sang it. Back then, that wasn't so obvious; expectations were different. Annie Clark, truth seeker, is sawing away the expectations of the present, which in my book makes her the voice of the future.

After Two Decades, Pearl Jam Still Gives It 'Pure Stoke'

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By Brad Wheeler

(Sep 12, 2011) Early in the first of two concerts at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, Pearl Jam launched into its brooding, heaving rocker Not For You. A woman behind me leaned forward with a question I wasn't expecting: "What do you do," she asked, "when this is your four-year-old's favourite song?" What do you do? The answer is simple: You do the evolution, baby.

Or maybe you don't. Pearl Jam, the Seattle alt-rock titans who are the subject of Cameron Crowes' retrospective documentary Pearl Jam Twenty, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, haven't actually evolved a whole lot over their two-decade career, at least musically. As the darkly-droning baritone Eddie Vedder sang on the sweeping poetry of Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, "I changed by not changing at all." It's all about the switching context around them, altering our perception of how much Pearl Jam matters.

Whether in fashion or not - and Pearl Jam has been both of those things - the band endures with melodic guitar rock, leanly and boldly presented, especially on stage, where their level of consistency, charismatic passion and generosity of energy is fairly unparalleled.

In fact, after watching the first 100 minutes of a routinely impressive thriller on Sunday, there would be only a few acts that might come to mind when looking at other careers marked by such a robust stamina. One would be Neil Young, who, as it happened, capped off Pearl Jam's epic night with a walk-on during the marathon finale of Young's anthemic Keep on Rockin' in the Free World, presented stunningly in the waning hours that marked a decade since 9/11. It was something to see, the punks and the godfather - Young being such a model and inspiration for Pearl Jam and the so many others who have followed him.

Is the world freer now than it was 10 years ago? Libyans and Egyptians might say yes; those who endure airport security scrutiny and Guantanamo Bay might disagree. The cloud-nine crowd at Air Canada Centre probably wasn't worrying about it - not on this night. The world evolves (or so the thinking goes), but engagements with Pearl Jam are held in a very loud, euphoric and safe vacuum where everyone knows the words.

The concert began with Long Road, released in 1995 as part of a collaboration with Young. Its grunge was jangly, its melody was heartening and its message concerning journeys, memories and longing was thoughtful. The sardonic Do the Evolution - "admire me, admire my home / admire my son, he's my clone" - followed.

As you might imagine, the event was well attended by people judged to be important - actors Woody Harrelson and Jay Baruchel, and directors Crowe and Paul Haggis among them - but Vedder and crew do not play to Hollywood. The singer used stage monitors as a personal jungle gym and was easygoing (in contrast to his sometimes sullen singing) between songs. Before the first encore set began with the acoustic ballad Nothingman, he noted the similarities between Toronto and Seattle. "We share large concrete erections and, yeah, we know, yours is bigger," he allowed, before adding that his town's tower had "kind of a nice shape."

The first encore set ended with Black, from the band's breakout debut album Ten. The pensive ballad stretched into a watery jam, with lead guitarist Mike McCready stretching out with an elegant sort of searing guitar - electric surfing against the band's slow, heavy wave.

In the documentary, bassist Jeff Ament speaks about Pearl Jam's work ethic. The gist of it is that the group never mails it in, and that it's always been about "pure stoke."

Three cheers and hip-hip hooray, then, to pure stoke, 20 years and counting. Evolution, devolution, status quo - Pearl Jam pays it all no mind, staying the course.

Pearl Jam
At Air Canada Centre
In Toronto on Sunday
Pearl Jam plays Toronto, Sept. 12; Ottawa, Sept. 14; Hamilton, Sept. 15; Winnipeg, Sept. 17; Saskatoon, Sept. 19; Calgary, Sept. 21; Edmonton, Sep. 23; Vancouver, Sept. 25.
Long Road
Do The Evolution
Got Some
Nothing As it Seems
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
Setting Forth
Not For You / Modern Girl
Given To Fly
Just Breathe
Off He Goes
Daughter / It's OK
Unthought Known
The Fixer
First Encore
Better Man / Save it for Later
Second Encore
Chloe Dancer
Crown Of Thorns
Rockin' In The Free World

Concert Sampler for Sept. 15-21

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

1. “
Pursuit of Happiness” - Kid Cudi

Let's try that again, shall we? Rap's Cudder comes back to town to do a make-up date after his show was cancelled earlier this summer. (Thursday, Molson Amphitheatre)

2. “A New Day” - The Olivia Tremor Control

The Elephant 6 indie-rock collective from Athens, Georgia is working on a new album, but comes through after reforming last year. (Friday, Lee's Palace)

3. “I Heard you Say” - Vivian Girls

The three female indie rockers from New York come to town touring their latest Share the Joy. (Friday, Parts & Labour)

4. “You Never Know” - Wilco

The critically adored roots-rock band play a two-night stand at one of this town's great venues. Seasoned Brit Nick Lowe opens. (Friday-Saturday, Massey Hall, www.myspace.com/wilco)

5. “Leave Everywhere” -Toro Y Moi

Also known as Chazwick Bundick, this indie dance group just released a new EP called Freaking Out. (Saturday, Opera House)

6. “Younger Us” - Japandroids

The always hard-charging rock duo from B.C. come back to town. (Tuesday, Sneaky Dee's)

TV & Radio Personality Jawn Murray To Release First CD

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 12, 2011) *Media personality Jawn Murray is venturing into new territory by releasing a CD compilation in partnership with EMI Gospel.

The former Tom Joyner Morning Show entertainment reporter, who resigned from the syndicated radio show in June, will release his debut CD, “Jawn Murray presents Untapped” in stores and online on September 13, 2011.

“This project was a natural extension of who I am because of my overall passion for gospel music.  Finding 10 artists with a fresh sound and being able to give them a platform to be recognized is a dream project for me.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always wanted to be able to utilize my success in mainstream entertainment to empower the gospel industry and I believe this project is a step in that direction,” Murray told EUR’s Lee Bailey.

Murray, a regular entertainment and pop culture contributor on HLN shows like “The Joy Behar Show,” “Prime News,” “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” and “Your Views,” said the inspiration for his CD came even before breaking into the business 12 years ago.

“I had three high profile heroes before I started working in entertainment professionally: Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Kirk Franklin.  The reason I admired Kirk was because he was this church boy who loved God, but bridged the gap between the faith-based community and mainstream entertainment.  It showed that you can love God and be normal.  You can love God and dress fly.  You can love God and have balance!  That inspired me and I always said when given the opportunity, I was going to do the same thing,” Murray explained.

The partnership with EMI Gospel came as a result of the Washington, DC-based journalist having worked behind the scenes with the company in the artist development capacity and with media coaching artists like Kierra Sheard, Micah Stampley, Darlene McCoy and Forever Jones, among others.

“It just made sense to work with a label that I had a great rapport with,” Murray said, before adding: “And I have always believed you work with people that want to work with you!”

The label’s president is thrilled by the early response that “Jawn Murray presents Untapped” is receiving from both the industry and consumers alike.

“We’re amazed at the talented, but unknown, gospel artists we often hear.  Working with Jawn Murray on the ‘Untapped’ project has been a great way to introduce some of these gifted artists to the world,” said Ken Pennell, President of EMI Gospel.

After receiving more than 300 entries for the 10 slots on the CD; Murray, EMI executives and celebrity judges Dr. Bobby Jones (“Bobby Jones Gospel”), singer and TV talent Lexi, Grammy-nominee VaShawn Mitchell and radio host Gerard Bonner (“Bonnerfide Radio”) chose the following finalists: Brian Reeves, Charles Butler & Trinity, Derrick Bull & Remnant, FaLawna Barton, Joy Lewis, Lawrence Flowers & Intercession, Madelyn Berry, Tasha Page-Lockhart, Tobbi White-Darks and Tonia Hughes.

One of the artists selected will receive a recording contract with EMI Gospel and have their CD executive produced by Murray.  The winner will be announced in early 2012.

In the meantime, Murray is having a release party for “Untapped” in Washington, DC on Sept. 10. For details, go to: http://lockerz.com/s/133849817

Having left his on-air position on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and also having resigned from AOL Black Voices following their merger with The Huffington Post in April, EURweb.com had to inquire about Murray’s next professional moves.

“I really needed this summer to focus on me!  I did some specialty projects like “Untapped,” some social media projects that have been fun, and there’s the TV work, which I really love.  I’ve had some interesting opportunities presented to me as far as online and radio work are concerned and moving into the fall, I’ll seriously start to weigh some of those opportunities,” he closed.

Follow Murray on Twitter: @JawnMurray or friend him on Facebook.com/JawnMurrayVIP.

AUDIO - Avery*Sunshine: Soul Sista

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 12, 2011) *Labor Day marked the end of a fruitful summer for Avery*Sunshine. She spent the summer performing from Chicago to Scotland, sharing stages with the likes of B.B. King and Ledisi, yet somehow managed to release a new EP, Summer. Wait. Who is Avery*Sunshine? Avery*Sunshine is the product of a Chester, Pennsylvania and Soul Music, the artist responsible for “All in My Head” and critically acclaimed self-titled album. She’s more than a singer/songwriter/pianist, she’s a mother, daughter, friend, and therapist, aside from being so much more.

Chester, PA is a tough town; it’s a place that brings out the character in those that call it home, a place that many people scratch and claw to get away from. However, for Avery*Sunshine, it us the place that loved her, loved her family and their home. She grew up in the house that seemingly never turned the music off and hosted the community for fellowship over the likes of Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross and countless others. Music was a second language in her home, so it was natural for the youngster to be drawn to performance, first on a piano bench where she received her first gigs at churches around town and before landing behind the microphone in high school with the Wilmington-Chester Mass Choir and then at Atlanta’s historic Spelman College.

Urged on by friend and collaborator Dana Johnson after DaisyRew group mate Maia Johnson was called to Broadway, Avery*Sunshine became a solo artist, but on a mission to provide listeners with something real to listen to, something closer to the life we’re living. She says, “Folks are losing jobs, folks are losing houses and relationships are jacked up”, these are reason enough to give people something tangible to hear, and something that reaches their soul, something like the music she was surrounded by as a child. Her influences are evident throughout her music; “Bags Packed” off of the Summer EP is a throwback to the Motown Sound, but is still fresh for your cookout. Songs like “The Ugly Part of Me” and “Today” from the Avery Sunshine album sound like they taken from your Facebook status updates they’re so relatable to your life and mine.

She pours herself into the music and her live show is filled with all of that and more, “I dance, I tell jokes, we gonna have church, we gonna talk about love, we’ll have a therapy session, I’ll be the doctor and then we’ll flip it and I’ll tell them all of my problems,” she informs me when I ask what the Avery*Sunshine live experience is like.

Her stage name is befitting of who she is, she seemingly talks through a smile and brightens the atmosphere she occupies, an important trait in these dark days we’re living in. She’s currently doing spot shows across the U.S., including two nights ten minutes from my home in Philly before heading to Switzerland for a run through the country. In the interim, follow her on Twitter @averysunshine, visit www.averysunshine.com, download her music on iTunes and listen to “Bags Packed” below…thank me later!

Lil Wayne Leads Nominees for BET’s Hip Hop Awards

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 8, 2011) *The nominees for BET’s sixth annual Hip Hop Awards were announced Wednesday on “106 & Park” with no surprises – Lil Wayne leads the pack with a record-breaking 18. Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa tied with 9 nods each and Rick Ross with 8 nods.  Maybach Music newcomer, Meek Mill, also announced his inclusion in the cypher segments of the show, and actor/comedian Mike Epps confirmed his return as third time host. The BET Hip Hop Awards return to the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 1 with the network premiere on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.

View the full list of nominees below:
Best Hip Hop Video
Big Sean f/ Chris Brown – My Last
Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes – Look At Me Now
DJ Khaled f/ Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne – I’m On One
Eminem f/ Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie
Kanye West f/ Rihanna – All Of The Lights
Reese’s Perfect Combo Award (Best Collab)
Ace Hood f/ Rick Ross & Lil Wayne – Hustle Hard (Remix)
Big K.R.I.T. f/ Ludacris & Bun B – Country Sh*t (Remix)
Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes – Look At Me Now
DJ Khaled f/ Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne – I’m On One
Lupe Fiasco f/ Trey Songz  –  Out Of My Head
Best Live Performer
Busta Rhymes
Cee-Lo Green
Lil Wayne
Kanye West
Lyricist of the Year
Lil Wayne
Nicki Minaj
Rick Ross
Kanye West
Video Director of the Year
Gil Green
Anthony Mandler
Chris Robinson
Kanye West
Hype Williams
Producer of the Year
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
Kane Beatz
Lex Luger
No I.D.
Kanye West, Emile, Jeff Bhasker & Mike Dean
MVP of the Year
Lil Wayne
Nicki Minaj
Rick Ross
Kanye West
Wiz Khalifa
Track of the Year
6 Foot 7 Foot – Produced by Bangladesh (Lil Wayne f/ Cory Gunz)
Black and Yellow – Produced by Stargate (Wiz Khalifa)
I’m On One – Produced by T-Minus (DJ Khaled f/ Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne)
Look At Me Now – Produced by Diplo & Afrojack (Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne &
Busta Rhymes)
My Last – Produced by Lex Luger (Big Sean f/ Chris Brown)
CD of the Year
Big Sean – Finally Famous
Lupe Fiasco – LASERS
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Wiz Khalifa – Rolling Papers
DJ of the Year
DJ Drama
DJ Enuff
DJ Envy
DJ Khaled
DJ Prostyle
Rookie of the Year
Big K.R.I.T.
Big Sean
Frank Ocean
Diggy Simmons
Tyler the Creator
Wiz Khalifa
Made-You-Look Award (Best Hip Hop Style)
Lil Wayne
Nicki Minaj
Kanye West
Wiz Khalifa
Best Hip Hop Online Site
All Hip Hop.com
Nah Right.com
Rap Radar.com
World Star Hip Hop.com
Best Club Banger
Ace Hood – Hustle Hard (Produced by Lex Luger)
DJ Khaled f/ Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne – I’m On One (Produced by T-Minus)
Lil Wayne f/ Cory Gunz – 6 foot 7 foot (Produced by Bangladesh)
Waka Flocka Flame – No Hands (Produced by Lex Luger)
Wiz Khalifa – Black And Yellow (Produced by Stargate)
YC Worldwide f/ Future – Racks (Produced by Sonny Digital)
Best Mixtape
Big K.R.I.T. – Return Of 4Eva
B.o.B – No Genre
J. Cole – Friday Night Lights
Kendrick Lamar – Section .80
Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra
Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse
Busta Rhymes – Look At Me Now (Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes)
Lil Wayne – Motivation (Kelly Rowland f/ Lil Wayne)
Nicki Minaj – Monster (Kanye West f/ Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver)
Wiz Khalifa – Bright Lights, Bigger City (Cee-Lo Green f/ Wiz Khalifa)
Wiz Khalifa – Till I’m Gone (Tinie Tempah f/ Wiz Khalifa)
Hustler of the Year
Lil Wayne
Rick Ross
Kanye West
Verizon People’s Champ Award (Viewers’ Choice)
Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes – Look At Me Now
Lil Wayne f/ Cory Gunz – 6 Foot 7 Foot
Nicki Minaj f/ Drake – Moment 4 Life
Kanye West f/ Rihanna – All of The Lights
Wiz Khalifa – Black And Yellow

Audio And Video - Folk Rock's Budding Star James Vincent McMorrow Hits Town

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

(September 13, 2011) James Vincent McMorrow isn't a star yet, but after a week of tripping over Seth Rogen and Brad Pitt going round every corner, Torontonians might be a bit tired of those anyhow. All the more reason for us to check out a remarkable musician at the El Mocambo who played the Drake last time, and next time will be playing a bigger venue - count on it.

The 28-year-old Dubliner with the yearning voice of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and the melodic gifts of Ray LaMontagne, has gotten a lot of attention for his debut album last year, Early in the Morning. Okay, not a ton of attention, but his soft but sweeping sound has many successful purveyors these days (the aforementioned, Grizzly Bear, etc.) whom Toronto has embraced. And his songs aren't just affecting; biblical allusions swim in the lyrics alongside his American-literature obsessions (he's a Steinbeck/Fitzgerald fanatic) to give grownups something to chew on.

Ah, why am I wasting time? Go hear these, and see if you're aren't drawn in. Maybe I'll see you at the ElMo tonight.

Chris Brown Kicks Off Tour With Toronto Triumph

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Jason Richards

(Sep 13, 2011) Redemption is an essential part of popular culture. We love to see celebrities claw back to the top as much as we love watching them fall. It’s why Britney Spears endures, Kanye West is back, and we can’t wait to see what Charlie Sheen does next.

But three years ago,
Chris Brown crossed a line that banished him to O.J. territory — the realm of the irredeemable. With his brutal assault on Rihanna, it seemed like the singer’s career was finished.

And yet, despite his botched apologies and public meltdowns, the singer did something smart — he focused all his attention on his loyal core fanbase. It paid off. Today, the performer known to his fans as Breezy is more successful than ever.

His latest album, F.A.M.E., was Brown’s first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. And now follows his F.A.M.E. Tour. Predictably, its first stop, at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, brought out a mostly female audience.

With daylight disappearing, Lil Wayne protégé Tyga opened the show with a short set that featured his first hit, “Coconut Juice,” and “Bed Rock,” by his group Young Money.

Next up, Kelly Rowland brought some sexually charged female energy to the otherwise male-dominated bill, performing choreographed renditions of her solo singles “Like This” and “Motivation,” and a few numbers by her ex-group, Destiny’s Child, including “Say My Name.”

T-Pain’s android whine could be heard before the rapper was seen. He then exploded out, singing his hook from Rick Ross’s “Maybach Music.” He cycled through hits by himself and others. He also dished out healthy sampling of his cameo work, on songs like Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It (on the Alcohol)” and “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled.

The rapper explored the geography of the stage throughout his set, working up a sweat under an epileptic light show, as his dancers gyrated and moved, sometimes in step with their ringleader. And then he was gone.

The house lights lowered and a clock blinked onscreen, counting down to Breezy in 10 second increments. “O Fortuna” blared as highlights from the singer’s career ran on three screens. 10 militant dancers march-danced to a pounding bass kick. The audience was a sea of cell phones simultaneously recording hundreds of grainy YouTube videos at once as Brown descended from a red neon stairway on high.

After performing “Transform Ya,” he paused, grinning, soaking up the adulation.

“Toronto,” he said, “Welcome to the motherf---ing F.A.M.E. tour!”

To a mass chorus of screams, he announced that he hadn’t been to Canada in about six years.

Later, Brown stumbled out in a theatrical display of drunkenness, wearing a dress shirt and suspenders, cigarette dangling from his lips, bottle in hand, and sang “Leave The Club.” Drenched in sweat, shirt almost completely unbuttoned, he performed “Body 2 Body,” while his female dancers pantomimed to the song’s lyrics.

A video of the singer taking a shower and putting on a tuxedo as Aaliyah’s “One In A Million” played sent the crowd into a collective scream of ecstasy.

Wearing a large LCD rose on his lapel, he re-emerged, singing “Wet The Bed.” In various states of undress, he performed “She Ain’t You,” before “No Bulls--t,” and “Deuces” (for which Tyga reappeared to rap his cameo).

Flanked by dancers in glowing masks, he launched into “Look at Me Now,” which devolved into a neon light show. Minus the song’s featured guest, Justin Bieber, he did an anthemic rendition of “Next 2 You,” and shortly thereafter, “Beautiful People.”

The whole thing was a relentless spectacle, full of momentum, that went on for some 90 minutes. Love him or hate him, Breezy’s return to Canada was a triumphant one.


VIDEO - Bobbi Kristina Brown Gives a Sample of Her Skills on YouTube

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

(Sep 12, 2011) Bobbi Kristina Brown singing Adele's "Someone Like You" on YouTube September 10, 2011. The new and improved Bobby Brown may be hitting the airwaves soon.  Joe Simmons, also known as, Run of the world renowned Run DMC, has his son Diggy out there with Great Expectations, why not Bobbi Kristina?  The world would expect her to bus’ out the gate with a hit too. She gave everyone a sample of her skills over the weekend when she did her rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You” and placed it on YouTube.  She has a great voice, but some may listen with the ”great expectations” of her powerhouse parents. She has a tickle of the phenomenal Whitney Houston strength and a playful soul of Bobby Brown.  But, check her out for yourself.  Nice.


“Teen Spirit” Lasts All Night At Nuit Blanche

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bang showbiz

(Sep 12, 2011) “With the lights out it’s less dangerous/ Here we are now, entertain us . . .” That familiar couplet from the album Nevermind will seem plenty apt at the Toronto Underground Cinema on the night of Oct. 1 during Nuit Blanche. A rotating group of local musical acts, it was revealed Monday, will be performing Nirvana’s 1991 hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” there, roughly 144 times in a row. Juicebox, a Toronto media company/art collective, call their planned all-night 12-hour event A Brief History of Rebellion. Juicebox has announced that among the local acts participating are Tokyo Police Club, F---ed Up, Woodhands, Gallows, $100, the Flatliners, Junior Battles, Buck 65 and D-Sisive, with more names to be revealed . . . perhaps yours among them. Audience members at the theatre at 186 Spadina Ave. will be encouraged to sign up to be one of the singers themselves, grabbing a bit of grunge nostalgia on the 20th anniversary of the song, which came out 20 years ago last Saturday and has been covered by the likes of Patti Smith and Tori Amos. “Lyrics will be provided, but no one will need them,” said the Juicebox press release.


Keith Sweat to Release Album #11: ‘Make You Say Ooh’ is Lead Single

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 11, 2011) *For all of those who miss that raspy voice and sexy, freaky lyrics, your man Keith Sweat heard ya. According to Singersroom, the singer is getting ready to release his 11th studio album, “Open Invitation.” Sounds like a Tyrese album… hmm. Anyway, the new project will be released on Nov. 1 this year via eOne Music, with “Make You Say Ooh” as the lead single. Keith isn’t switching up his style too much. It’s all about love making and keeping the freak alive, with a few slow jams thrown in there for good measure of course. His debut album, “Make It Last Forever” was one of his best selling albums reaching more than three million fans, and he keeps making hits. “Open Invitation” might take you back to the old school days when Keith Sweat was in heavy rotation.

Common to Release Memoir This Month

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 9, 2011) *Rapper/actor Common is doing something that some would say should’ve happened a long time ago. He’s getting ready to release a book, adding to his long resume of movies and music. The artist, whose real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn, has written his own memoir called “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” due for release Sept. 13. Although his earlier music provided fans and listeners an inside glimpse of his life and growing up, the book will delve a little deeper into his life, his past, and growing up in Chicago and the decision to drop out of college to pursue his career. “People who know me as Common might find it hard to believe some of the things that made me Rashid,” the rap star says in a press release. “That’s partly why I’ve written this book, so that I can show myself as a man in full. That means telling some tough truths, revealing my faults and vulnerabilities. But it also means showing the true strength of my character.” The memoir will also include letters to loved ones both living and gone, as well as words about his past relationship with special women, including his mother, and Erykah Badu.

::FILM NEWS::    

Cronenberg On Switching Gears For 'A Dangerous Method'

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By Liam Lacey

(Sep 11, 2011) The patient, a youthful 68, exhibits signs of confidence
and relaxation that seem to contradict a known history of concern with unsavoury, morbid and unwholesome subjects associated with body mutilation, sexual punishment and repression. The doctor recommends further investigation.

David Cronenberg has done something rather shocking: He's made his first elegant and fairly conventional biopic, A Dangerous Method, about the birth pangs of psychoanalysis.

Talking about his film from a wingback chair in a hotel suite in Toronto, he calls his latest opus - appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival fresh from screenings at festivals in Venice and Telluride - an "intellectual ménage a trois." The movie depicts the relationship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), his wayward protégé Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) - a Russian-Jewish student and patient of Jung's, who, since the discovery of her papers in the 1970s and 80s, has emerged as a significant link between the two giants of psychiatry.

No doubt, all this is a change of pace for the director once dubbed the Baron of Blood.

"Criminals and low-lifes are fun," says Cronenberg, referring to his last two films, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. But he says making a film about these erudite, articulate people was a different kind of challenge - a movie where every form of behaviour is out in the open and scrutinized.

Cronenberg says he'd never call himself a Freudian - "I don't think in those schematic terms" - but says he's been influenced by Freud, admires him and "unlike a lot of people who express opinions about Freud, have actually read him."

It's Freud's mental clarity and elegance as a literary stylist that Cronenberg admires, and A Dangerous Method is in that same spirit. There was enough material here for a miniseries or a 10-part movie, he says, but it has been rigorously filtered and distilled by screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement).

Of course, this couldn't be a Cronenberg film without some hair-raising threat of violence. That threat is portrayed early, as we see Knightley's character brought by a carriage pulled by galloping black horses to the entrance of Burgholzli, the psychiatric complex of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. An 18-year-old on a family trip to Switzerland, Spielrein was admitted to the clinic with "hysterical psychosis," a now-archaic diagnosis.

To date, Knightley has been known as something of an English rose with roles in such films as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. But A Dangerous Method should shake all that up. From the film's beginning, she thrashes about like a captured wild animal, jaw thrust forward, as she struggles to wrench out words. It's a daring performance, though one that has drawn both praise and doubts from early reviews.

Cronenberg acknowledges that, to some degree, the depiction of hysteria was "a built-in problem" but is absolute in his defence of Knightley's performance.

"The idea that her performance was bad at the beginning and then became good - well, no."

He describes Knightley as an actress of "great range" who was capable of the particular physical effect of thrusting her jaw forward violently - an outward manifestation of someone struggling to be heard and "an inexpensive special effect."

In fact, Cronenberg says this depiction of Spielrein's behaviour is restrained. "I've seen film clips of women who were diagnosed with hysteria," he says. "They're unwatchable."

His argument is backed up by notes of Spielrein's admission to the clinic: "Patient laughs and cries in a strangely mixed, compulsive manner. Masses of tics; she rotates her head jerkily, sticks out her tongue, twitches her legs."

Those observations were made by the young doctor Carl Jung, who treated the patient, and, apparently, subsequently became her lover, despite having a pregnant wife at home.

During the period he was seeing Spielrein, Jung met Sigmund Freud, whom he had long admired. The two men bonded intensely. Six years later, though, they were no longer talking - a paradoxical development in the early history of the psychological method know as "the talking cure."

For her part, Spielrein subsequently sought out Freud, and may have provided him with some of his most important insights about the relationship between sex and death.

For Cronenberg, all three are part of a story not just about pioneers in psychiatry, but about love - which started with Freud's recognition that the relationship between the psychiatrist and the patient is an intimate one.

"There is sex involved between Jung and Sabina but not between Sabina and Freud. But there is love amongst all of them. In fact, there is love between Jung and Freud. It is a love story among three people - an unusual one because they are so incredibly articulate and verbal and observant and obsessive about the details of their lives and emotions."

Sanaa Lathan: The ‘Contagion’ Interview with Kam Williams

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 8, 2011) *Sanaa Lathan earned a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway performance as Beneatha Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun,” a role she later recreated in the highly rated and critically acclaimed ABC production, alongside Sean “Puffy” Combs. Sanaa most recently appeared in the title role in the comedy “By The Way, Meet Vera Stark” in an extended engagement at the 2econd Stage Theatre in Manhattan.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, the play chronicles a 70-year journey through the life of a headstrong African-America maid and budding actress, as well as her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career.  Lathan was previously seen on stage as Maggie in London’s West End in the critically-acclaimed, award-winning revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Currently, she lends her voice to the character Donna Tubbs on Fox-TV’s animated series “The Cleveland Show.”  Her additional credits include Tyler Perry’s “The Family that Preys,” alongside Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard; “A Wonderful World,” opposite Matthew Broderick; “Something New,” for which she received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Actress; and the FX Network series “Nip/Tuck,” for which she received another NAACP nomination.

Among Sanaa’s other feature film offerings are “Alien vs. Predator;” the thriller “Out of Time,” with Denzel Washington; the romantic comedy “Brown Sugar,” alongside Taye Diggs, Queen Latifah and Mos Def, which reunited her with Rick Famuyiwa, who also directed her in “The Wood.”  And of course everyone remembers how she wowed audiences and critics opposite Omar Epps in Gina Prince-Blythewood’s romantic drama “Love and Basketball.”

She received her first NAACP Image Award nomination, for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, for the romantic comedy “The Best Man.” The film, co-starring Morris Chestnut and Harold Perrineau, received rave reviews and is one of the top ten highest grossing African American films in history.

Here, Sanaa talks about her new film, “Contagion,” an apocalyptic thriller opening this weekend. It’s directed by Steven Soderbergh and features an ensemble cast including Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Elliott Gould.

Kam Williams: Hi Sanaa, thanks for the time. I’m honoured to have another opportunity to speak with you.

Sanaa Lathan: Oh, my pleasure, Kam. How have you been?

KW: Great, thanks. I told my readers and editors that I’d be interviewing you, and they sent in so many questions I’d like to get right to them. Larry Greenberg says: Contagion has such an amazing cast, yourself included. Was there anyone in particular that you felt a strong affinity with whom you would like to work with again?

SL: Well, the truth is, I only worked with Laurence [Fishburne], because Steven Soderbergh kept each of the movie’s storylines separate, although they’re obviously intertwined cinematically. So, all of my scenes were with Laurence.

KW: What was Soderbergh like as a director?

SL: He was amazing! I would love to work with him again.

KW: The film struck me as very similar to Traffic except revolving around an outbreak instead of around drugs.

SL: Exactly! Here, the virus is the main character.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Your role in ‘Vera Stark’ was a marvellous, breakthrough theatrical performance. It was a privilege to be in the audience. How does your preparation and performance change when you move from stage to screen?

See the full interview by Kam Williams HERE.

Warrior: Hard Men For Hard Times

Source: www.globeandmail.com – Stephen Cole

(Sep 10, 2011) The fight film Warrior is a rousing entertainment for the new depression. Only instead of breadlines and dance marathons, we get bank foreclosures and an epic, 48-hour mixed marital arts tournament in Atlantic City – the War on the Shore. Winner gets $5-million.

Our warriors are the Conlons, Pittsburgh palookas with more troubles than Ireland. Ex-boxer dad, Paddy (Nick Nolte) is a recovering alcoholic with a thousand days sober – one for every bad memory. Son Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a former fighter with concussion issues, is a punch away from oblivion. He’s a high-school physics teacher now, with a beautiful wife and home and two young daughters that love him.

But one of the little girls has a heart defect, which means sky-high medical bills. And the family’s beautiful home? It’s about to be taken away by the bank.

Brother Tommy (Tom Hardy) is the apple of Paddy’s eye. The old man trained the kid. A sure-fire champ, everyone figured. Then the apple got bruised: a broken mother who died in his arms … Iraq … Tommy wants the $5-million, sure, but he’s really in the big tournament so he can beat up the world.

Yeah, the movie piles it on. Warrior is a weirdly affecting hybrid, a 100-proof melodrama that’s two-thirds Sylvester Stallone and one-third Eugene O’Neill. Think Rocky’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Our Long Day begins with Tommy showing up on Paddy’s doorstep. He wants his father to train him again. More than anything, though, Tommy wants to get back at his family. Every day, he batters away at the old man with memories. Combination punches calculated to push Paddy to the bottle. Brother Brendan is almost as mad at the old man. He won’t even let him in his house.

And so, like the Tyrones in O’Neill’s play, the Conlons stalk about airless rooms, probing each other’s wounds, trapped in the past.

Still, make no mistake, this is an action movie, one that validates (it sure glamorizes) mixed marital arts, confirming its status as this generation’s blood sport of choice. On the way to Atlantic City, the Conlon boys kick and punch their way from dingy corner gyms through the strip club amateur fight night circuit. Eventually, they’re YouTube and ESPN sensations.

Writer-director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle) shrewdly negotiates the old Thirties-Forties boxing movie formula, establishing characters and motivation early on, baiting us with the odd fight scene, opening us up for the dramatic kill – The Big Fight finale that has us bobbing and weaving with our new-found heroes in the ring.

And while Warrior provides more than a few knockout action sequences, the surprise here is that the most memorable fight is a mostly improvised scene in an Atlantic City hotel bedroom, where Nick Nolte’s Paddy beats himself up, with one of his boys watching.

Paddy Conlon is Nolte’s best part since Affliction. And Warrior needs him. Wobbly but proud, irreparably damaged Paddy ups the dramatic ante in his sons’ obsession to be champ. He’s the Or Else that makes their quest so desperate.

Just as important, perhaps, Nolte’s powerful, meticulously glamour-free depiction of an alcoholic lends the fanciful fight melodrama a much needed realistic punch.

Commonwealth stars, both relative newcomers, Joel Edgerton (Australia) and Tom Hardy (England) are almost as good as Brendan and Tommy Conlon. This guy could be the next Russell Crowe, you find yourself thinking, watching them work.

The smart money is on Hardy, who has Crowe’s bulky insistence and Keanu Reeves’ unclouded, angelic face.

Special to The Globe and Mail


Written and directed by Gavin O’Connor
Starring Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte

Classification: 14A

Contagion: Frightening, Fast-Paced And Funny

Source: www.globeandmail.com – Stephen Cole

(Sep 10, 2011) An executive returns to her snow-quilted Midwest home from a hectic Hong Kong business trip. She looks and feels beat – who wouldn’t? But soon jet lag turns into something else. She can’t move. Then she can’t grip a coffee cup or breathe. Too soon, incredibly, she’s dead. Reeling, past despondent, her husband faces the hard task of informing their son that the woman who held him so close a few hours before is gone.

He doesn’t have to. The child is dead, too.

The infection, whatever it is, multiplies quickly – two, four, 87,000, 27 million casualties. It’ll be a billion in weeks maybe. Presidents and prime ministers go underground to worry and plan, thankful they’re not in caskets. Civilizations dissolve. Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Director Steven Soderbergh’s latest is very much like an all-star, seventies-style disaster movie – The Towering Inferno or Earthquake, say. In a movie with so many fast-moving parts, A- and B-plus-list actors Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Bryan Cranston are around to make it easier for us to remember who’s who.

Except that
Contagion isn’t meant to provide delicious roller-coaster chills. Released two days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it’s a film meant to scare the bejesus out of us.

And the movie moves faster than any carnival ride you’d dare step on. Soderbergh accentuates the mood of galloping panic by interweaving plots at a breakneck pace, racing between scenes and telling some stories in montage sequences. He also provides an agitated soundscape from former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez – fingernail-chewing music.

Apart from the bereft suburban father (Matt Damon) and his quest to keep his remaining family together in the face of roving, gun-toting vigilantes, Contagion follows unsentimental professionals dealing with the implications and logistics of a plague that could kill everyone. Their banter is flavourful and droll.

“Any way someone could weapon the bird flu? Is that what we’re looking at?” a nervous U.S. Homeland Security official asks the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) commander, Dr. Cheever (Fishburne).

“Someone doesn’t have to weapon the bird flu; the birds are doing that,” deadpans the unblinking doctor.

Sly topical jokes emerge. During a mass civic funeral, instead of listening to a politician’s pious speech, we eavesdrop on bored members of a clean-up crew grousing about equipment shortages. Apparently the American government won’t allow its cities to order body bags from Canada.

It’s the dark comic moments and the film’s sci-fi, B-movie, race-to-develop-a-vaccine subplot that prevent Contagion from being a gloomy two hours in the dark. That and Soderbergh’s delight in characters. Fishburne is wonderfully cool and watchable as the unflappable CDC commander.

More interesting and fun is Jude Law playing a muckraking Internet blogger with Fleet Street instincts and a Cockney accent. (He actually uses the word “crikey” at one point.) Law’s character hopes to subvert the government’s response to the spreading virus, thereby increasing his following on Twitter. In another one of Contagion’s precious little jokes – a poke at the British dental system – Law’s front teeth appear to grow bigger (like Pinocchio’s nose) as his character tells bigger and more devious lies.

Earlier this year, Soderbergh announced on National Public Radio his intention to retire a couple of movies from now. He wants to become a painter, he says. That’s bad news for film fans. Moviegoers will miss anyone who can scare the hell out of us and make us laugh at the same time.

Special to The Globe and Mail


Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Written by Scott Z. Burns

Starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Bryan Cranston

Classification: PG

The Hard-Working Rachel Weisz

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By Gayle MacDonald

(Sep 12, 2011)
Rachel Weisz says she knew she had big shoes to fill stepping into the emotionally wrought role of Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea, a film adaptation of the famous 1952 play.

The Deep Blue Sea tells the story of the sheltered young wife of an elderly judge who impetuously throws it all away to be with a hard-drinking, but vibrantly alive, Second World War pilot with whom she shares an obsessive, ultimately destructive, love. Peggy Ashcroft, Vivien Leigh, Penelope Keith and Blythe Danner have all taken a run at the main character - often considered one of the greatest parts for an actress in modern theatre.

Weisz (pronounced "vice"), who carries the dialogue-heavy psychological drama, says she jumped at the chance to work alongside the film's prolific director, Terence Davies, a man she had never met but whose films she is familiar with and fond of.

"In Britain, Terence is considered one of our great directors," she says, referring to his body of work, which includes classics such as The Long Day Closes, The Neon Bible, Distant Voices, Still Lives and The House of Mirth. "His work is a milestone in British cinema."

Weisz was at home in New York with her new husband, Daniel Craig - she met "Bond" in Toronto while they were filming the soon-to-be-released horror film Dream House and the two were married in June - when Davies rang to offer her the part. The two spoke for several hours, and before she hung up, the 41-year-old British beauty says she accepted the challenge of bringing Davies's vision to the screen.

"Terence's script is an incredibly beautiful piece of writing," says Weisz, who attended the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of The Deep Blue Sea in Toronto on Sunday night. "And I was drawn to the character, who I imagine married her husband when she was very young, handed off straight from her father. She lived a very sheltered life, loved her husband in one way, because she didn't know anything else. Then she meets this man who awakens feelings she couldn't help or was able to control. And she is bold. She forgets any notion of rational intellect, and follows her heart. "

Davies, who had been working on the adaptation for several years, stripped away many of the supporting characters in Terence Rattigan's play, leaving only Collyer, her husband, William (Simon Russell Beale), and the handsome pilot, Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). The plot unfolds primarily in a run-down apartment, where Collyer is living with Page and has recently attempted suicide in desperate last bid to win back his waning affections.

"Was their love dangerous?" Weisz asks. "Yes. But I didn't judge her. I tried to understand her," says the actress, who is shot in myriad close-ups, Davies's dead-still camera capturing her pain and vulnerability.

"Did she hurt her husband and upset the equilibrium of her life? Yes. Was it all plain sailing? No. But it was something out of her control. There was a kind of wildness inside her containment. I don't think she felt she had any choice but to go down this path."

Weisz, who picked up an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2005's The Constant Gardener, is a potent presence at this year's TIFF, with three movies in the line-up: The Deep Blue Sea, Fernando Meirelles's ensemble drama 360 (he also directed her in The Constant Gardener) and David Hare's espionage thriller Page Eight.

Her role in The Deep Blue Sea, though, is the one in which she has invested the most time and energy.

"The other roles were quick shoots. I was only working on 360 for five days," says the hard-working Weisz, who immediately after her TIFF duties hopped a plane to Detroit, where she is filming Sam Raimi's fantastical Oz: The Great and Powerful.

Raimi's film is a prequel to the beloved 1939 movie classic The Wizard of Oz; Weisz plays the witch Evanora, along with fellow wiccans Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis (James Franco is the wizard). She is also slated to star alongside Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton in The Bourne Legacy.

"I like to mix things up," she says.

The three faces of Rachel


In an ensemble drama about chance encounters between strangers, Rachel Weisz plays a successful business woman, mother and wife. Her marriage is floundering, and she strikes up an affair with a young photographer.

Page Eight

Bill Nighy stars as a veteran MI-5 agent who is given a document he knows is toxic information about his government. Weisz, who plays a neighbour of Nighy's character, is very good in an unglamorous role in a drama mainly about powerful men.

The Deep Blue Sea

The role of Hester Collyer is considered to be one of the greatest parts for a stage actress. Weisz carries the story of sheltered young wife of a elderly judge who throws it all away to be with a vibrantly alive pilot.

Oscar Winner Cliff Robertson Dies At 88

Source: www.thestar.com - By Karen Zraick

(Sep 10, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Cliff Robertson, the handsome movie actor who played John F. Kennedy in “PT-109,” won an Oscar for “Charly” and was famously victimized in a 1977 Hollywood forgery scandal, died Saturday. He was 88.

His secretary of 53 years, Evelyn Christel, said he died in Stony Brook of natural causes a day after his 88th birthday.

Robertson never elevated into the top ranks of leading men, but he remained a popular actor from the mid-1950s into the following century. His later roles included kindly Uncle Ben in the “Spider-Man” movies.

He also gained attention for his second marriage to actress and heiress Dina Merrill, daughter of financier E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the world’s richest women.

His triumph came in 1968 with his Academy Award performance in “Charly,” as a mentally disabled man who undergoes medical treatment that makes him a genius — until a poignant regression to his former state.

“My father was a loving father, devoted friend, dedicated professional and honourable man,” daughter Stephanie Saunders said in a statement. “He stood by his family, friends, and colleagues through good times and bad. He made a difference in all our lives and made our world a better place. We will all miss him terribly.”

Robertson had created a string of impressive performances in television and on Broadway, but always saw his role played in films by bigger names. His TV performances in “Days of Wine and Roses” and “The Hustler,” for example, were filmed with Jack Lemmon and Paul Newman, respectively. Robertson’s role in Tennessee Williams’ play “Orpheus Descending” was awarded to Marlon Brando in the movie.

Robertson first appeared in the “Charly” story in a TV version, “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon.” Both were based on “Flowers for Algernon,” a short story that author Daniel Keyes later revised into a novel. Robertson was determined that this time the big-screen role would not go to another actor.

“I bought the movie rights to the show, and I tried for eight years to persuade a studio to make it,” he said in 1968. “Finally I found a new company, ABC Films. I owned 50 per cent of the gross, but I gave half of it to Ralph Nelson to direct.”

Critic Roger Ebert called Robertson’s portrayal “a sensitive, believable one.” The motion picture academy agreed, though Robertson was unable to get a break from an overseas movie shoot and was not on hand when his Oscar was announced.

Another memorable movie role, portraying future President Kennedy in the World War II drama “PT-109,” presented other challenges.

Released in 1963, it was the first movie to be made about a sitting president, and dozens of actors were considered. Kennedy himself favoured Robertson, but he warned him he didn’t want someone trying to imitate his distinctive New England accent.

“That was fine with me,” the actor commented in 1963. “I think it would have been a mistake for me to say ‘Hahvahd’ or try to reproduce gestures. Then the audience would have been constantly aware that an actor was impersonating the president.”

He added that the film obviously couldn’t be done with heroics, “like Errol Flynn gunning down 30 of the enemy. This young naval officer just does things because they have to be done.”

After seeing photos of Robertson in costume, Kennedy had one critique: His hair was parted on the wrong side.

The actor dutifully trained his hair to part on the left.

“PT-109” was plagued with problems from the start: script changes, switch of directors, bad weather, snakes and mosquitoes in the Florida Keys where it was filmed.

The troubles were evident on the screen, and critics roundly rapped the film, although Robertson’s work won praise.

In 1977 Robertson made the headlines again, this time by blowing the whistle on a Hollywood financial scandal.

He had discovered that David Begelman, president of Columbia Pictures, had forged his signature on a $10,000 salary check, and he called the FBI and the Burbank and Beverly Hills police departments. Hollywood insiders were not happy with the ugly publicity.

“I got phone calls from powerful people who said, ‘You’ve been very fortunate in this business; I’m sure you wouldn’t want all this to come to an end,’” Robertson recalled in 1984.

Begelman served time for embezzlement, but he returned to the film business. He committed suicide in 1995.

Robertson said neither the studios nor the networks would hire him for four years.

He supported himself as a spokesman for AT&T until the drought ended in 1981 when he was hired by MGM for “Brainstorm,” Natalie Wood’s final film.

Born Sept. 9, 1925, in La Jolla, Calif., Robertson was 2 when he was adopted by wealthy parents who named him Clifford Parker Robertson III. After his parents divorced and his mother died, he was reared by his maternal grandmother, whom he adored.

Robertson studied briefly at Antioch College, majoring in journalism, then returned to California and appeared in two small roles in Hollywood movies. Rejected by the services in World War II because of a weak eye, he served in the Merchant Marine.

He set his sights on New York theatre, and like dozens of other future stars, profited from the advent of live television drama. His Broadway roles also attracted notice, and after avoiding Hollywood offers for several years, he accepted a contract at Columbia Pictures.

“I think I held the record for the number of times I was on suspension,” he remarked in 1969. “I remember once I turned down a B picture, telling the boss, Harry Cohn, I would rather take a suspension. He shouted at me, ‘Kid, ya got more guts than brains.’ I think old Harry might have been right.”

Robertson’s first performance for Columbia, “Picnic,” was impressive, even though his screen pal, William Holden, stole the girl, Kim Novak. He followed with a tear-jerker, “Autumn Leaves,” as Joan Crawford’s young husband, then a musical, “The Girl Most Likely” with Jane Powell. In 1959 he endeared himself to “Gidget” fans as The Big Kahuna, the mature Malibu surf bum who takes Gidget under his wing.

He remained a busy, versatile leading man through the ‘60s and ‘70s, but lacked the intensity of Brando, James Dean and others who brought a new style of acting to the screen.

“I’m not one of the Golden Six,” he commented in 1967, referring to the top male stars of that day. “I take what’s left over.”

“They all know me as a great utility player. ‘Good old Cliff,’ they say. Someday I’d like to be in there as the starting pitcher.”

The chance came with “Charly,” but after the usual Oscar flurry, he resumed his utility position.

Robertson had the most success in war movies. His strong presence made him ideal for such films as “The Naked and the Dead,” “Battle of Coral Sea,” “633 Squadron,” “Up From the Beach,” “The Devil’s Brigade,” “Too Late the Hero” and “Midway.”

He had a passion for flying, and he poured his movie earnings into buying and restoring World War I and II planes. He even entered balloon races, including one in 1964 from the mainland to Catalina Island that ended with him being rescued from the Pacific Ocean.

In 1957, Robertson married Lemmon’s ex-wife, Cynthia Stone, and they had a daughter, Stephanie, before splitting in 1960. In 1966, he married Merrill and they had a daughter, Heather. The couple divorced in 1989.

Robertson’s funeral is set for Friday in East Hampton.

Close Fulfils A Dream With Albert Nobbs

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Sep 12, 2011) The first time Glenn Close saw herself in the mirror in full makeup to play a woman passing as a middle-aged, male butler in Albert Nobbs, she burst into tears.

“I looked and I started crying,” she said Monday afternoon as she sat in a downtown hotel suite after the film had its gala opening at TIFF the evening before.

If she’d had a late night celebrating the Toronto premiere, the bright-eyed and petite Close didn’t show it. She was dressed in skinny jeans topped with a fitted indigo jacket, a cotton scarf in muted colours around her neck. As she reached up to smooth her jaw-length blond hair, an enormous diamond sparkled on her ring finger.

Albert Nobbs is a true passion project for the 64-year-old actress. Close played the role — a single woman who spent her life passing as a man in order to survive in 19th-century Ireland — off-Broadway 30 years ago and won an Obie Award for the role. She’s spent several years working to bring the story to the screen, writing the script from the original short story by author George Moore, in addition to starring in and co-producing the picture. Colombian director Rodrigo Garcia (Passengers, Mother and Child) directs.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do,” Close said of the role. That’s a tall statement coming from a five-time Oscar nominee who has played challenging roles ranging from a rapacious scheming marquise (Dangerous Liaisons) to a bunny-boiling abandoned lover (Fatal Attraction).

For Albert, who worked in the dining room of a once-posh Dublin hotel for 30 years, passing as a man is her only means of survival. Her sheltered life has kept her very much apart from the real world and makes her an easy target for a handsome tradesman (Aaron Johnson) and a hotel maid (Mia Wasikowska). But the arrival of a painter who is also — to naive Albert’s shock and puzzlement — a woman living a double life (Janet McTeer) opens Albert’s eyes to a new way of living and perhaps a way out of her self-imposed prison.

Why did it take so long for Close to make her film?

“I had no choice,” she said with a laugh. “That’s just the way it worked out.”

Production partners weren’t quick to sign on.

“It’s a very hard sell,” she said. “I’d go into somebody’s office and they’d say, ‘You as a man?’ It’s very hard for people to imagine not only the character but the humour, the nuance . . . I never resented that because I knew we just had to find one person who would get it and trust in out talent and our vision. And it took a while to find that group of people.”

But the wait may have been for the best, she adds, giving her time to expand her film résumé in the early days of her career.

“I think probably I leaned my craft more. In ’82 onstage, I had just made my first movie (The World According to Garp). I hadn’t done that many films.”

Albert stayed with her over the years, Close added, and she always hoped to get back to the odd little woman who reminded her of Charlie Chaplin.

“There was something about this strange character that really is moving and makes people think about a lot of profound issues, while she’s very comic in a way; she’s like a clown.”

Her fear was “so many years had passed” since she played Albert, she might not be right for the part any longer.

“When it looked like we were going to go for it . . . I had to prove to myself that I’m still right for this role,” she said. “I didn’t know what it would look like on film and it has to be convincing.”

Close added the challenge in playing Albert onscreen comes from the up-close world of film.

“The stage is all a wide shot, but film gets right into your soul.”

While she wore no makeup onstage as Albert, a movie has different demands. Close said she worked closely with special effects makeup artist Matthew Mungle to get the right look for her character.

She and Mungle were inspired by a photo Close found in National Geographic of a “sworn virgin” — a woman who agrees to live as a man when no males are in a family.

“I was fascinated by what her face had become and that’s what I wanted to try to recreate in Albert.”

A close-cropped wig and actual 19th-century clothing that were deliberately chosen a shade too big to emphasize her awkwardness completed the transformation that moved her to tears, says Close.

“My shoes are too big and my pants are too long and I turn my feet out like Chaplin,” she said with a grin. A high collar hides her lack of an Adam’s apple.

“She is invisible in a profession where you are supposed to be invisible. Her story is having the courage to look out,” Close adds. “I’d felt how strangely powerful the story was and I felt with the right treatment on film, it could really knock people out.”


Glenn Close reacted with delight when shown a cartoon from Monday’s Toronto Star entertainment section by Michael de Adder showing her exiting the men’s washroom at a screening of Albert Nobbs.

“Oh my God! Coming out of the men’s room — that’s really funny, wow. I think it’s a riot. Thank you.”

Brad Pitt Throws A Curveball

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Sep 10, 2011) Ever since he removed his shirt for a quivering Geena Davis, Brad Pitt has been a movie star and sex symbol.

That was 20 years ago, as a bad boy in his breakthrough film Thelma & Louise, which makes it two decades since he’s been smiling from posters adorning bedroom walls worldwide.

Pitt, 47, shrugs and smiles in a Toronto hotel suite Saturday when reminded of his celebrity anniversary.

“I didn’t realize that!” Pitt says, flashing a perfect set of pearlies, which are framed by a graying, well-trimmed beard.

“I make it a habit not to look back. I’m a dad now, man. I’m a dad, foremost.”

Indeed he is — he’s father to six children with his actress wife Angelina Jolie, who accompanied him Friday night up the Roy Thomson Hall red carpet for the TIFF premiere of Moneyball, the baseball-as-life movie that Pitt produced and stars in. It opens in theatres Sept. 23.

But Pitt’s star allure is undeniable, and it may be greater than ever, judging by the crowds screaming his name outside Roy Thomson. It’s no small achievement in a world that turns to Warhol’s dictum of 15-minute fame.

Pitt, however, has recently been resisting glamour, choosing roles that are anything but sexy.

Earlier this year he was the gruff 1950s parent Mr. O’Brien in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, a symbol-rich meditation that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

For Moneyball, in a casting choice that surprised no one more than the man he plays, Pitt is Billy Beane, the tobacco-chewing and chair-throwing general manager of the Oakland A’s. He’s the first living person Pitt has played in a major movie.

A decade ago, Beane took his small-market ball team to big-time success. As recounted in the Michael Lewis bestseller that gives the film its name and theme, Beane did this by treating baseball as a science, rather than as the quasi-religion it’s been for nearly two centuries.

Together with his number-crunching assistant, played by Jonah Hill in the movie, Beane upturned America’s national pastime by successfully choosing players based on their stats, rather than a scout’s hunches.

On the face of it, Beane would seem the antithesis of what Pitt stands for. As recently as May in Cannes, as he waxed eloquently over The Tree of Life, Pitt has always talked of acting as an art and passion rather than a science. Why would he want to play a man ruled by the head rather than the heart?

“That’s interesting,” Pitt says, pondering the question as he stretches out on a couch.

“There’s truth to that, but I’m also a science and math fanatic; they were my best subjects. I love nature but I see math behind it. I find math at the base of everything, so although I can’t attribute math to the instincts, I believe there’s math underneath them. Does that make sense or is that too complicated?”

It makes perfect sense, but there’s also Beane’s abrasive personality to consider. He’s not without charm — his moments with his young daughter in the film show that — but he’s a hard guy to like. Pitt has reached the stage in his career and his life where he doesn’t feel the need to always have the audience love him.

“He’s certainly aggressive,” he says of Beane, “but then, I think of the characters I love from the ’70s films I was weaned on and they’re unapologetic. They’re forces of nature and I saw a lot of that in Billy.

“They’re the same beast at the end of the film that they were at the beginning of the film, and I love that. I love that. In my (acting) training, it was about character arc and what does the character learn and how do they change and, frankly, I had gotten to the point where I found most of that bullsh--. I don’t think we change. We might evolve a little bit.”

Pitt speaks softly in the interview. He’s dressed casually, with a brown sweater over a sports shirt and khaki pants, like any regular guy on a Saturday morning. He’s seems grounded, not given either to self-aggrandizement or false modesty.

“I think I’m on top of my game and know what I can bring to something. I think I’m aware, now. Much more aware.”

He admits he wasn’t always this content with his life or career, which has included such hits as Interview with the Vampire (which brought him the MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male) to 12 Monkeys (which brought his first of two Oscar nominations) to Fight Club, to Ocean’s Eleven (co-starring with fellow TIFF sensation George Clooney) to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

This is just a small sampling of his movie résumé, which now stretches to nearly 50 movies, but for Pitt it’s all been one long education.

“Oh, it’s just a process. I literally just learn my bit on film through trial and error. At first, you’re playing with what little you know, and then I got discombobulated when the celebrity thing hit. I was a bit uncomfortable with it and kind of lost my choosing ability of what was interesting to me. Just coming back around to that is when it all started (to work better).”

He wanted to make Moneyball — and he had to fight to get the money for it — even though he’s not really a baseball fan at all.

“I usually try to avoid anything that constitutes a religion!” he says, laughing.

He points to a barely visible scar underneath his left eye, to illustrate why baseball stopped being fun for him, long ago.

“I got hit in the head with a baseball when I was a kid and got 18 stitches and it kind of ruined my career. I just remember this moment, and also my dad saying, ‘The tickets are too high! They’ve priced the working man out of taking his family to a baseball game!’

“After that moment, there was no more baseball in the house. So I didn’t really stick with it. Football, yes. The races, the bikes, soccer, anything. . .”

The tougher roles Pitt is choosing now aren’t meant as a rejection of glamour or distancing from likeable characters, he insists.

“It’s never been running away from something, I don’t think. Any pigeonholing or categorizing that’s been done in the past just sets me up for a surprise, so it can work in my favour as well. But no, it’s not getting away from something; it’s just I want to be a part of something that’s original and innovative and something that’s got some discovery in it. Otherwise, I’m no good in it. So it’s my interest and not always easy to find, let me tell you.”

Yet Pitt is fully aware that he’s a superstar, and that people really want to see him, and he tries to oblige, as long as things don’t get out of control. He remembers how much he appreciated it, as a kid growing up in small towns in Oklahoma and Missouri, when people he admired showed him some attention.

“I don’t really have heroes, but just people I respected . . . and it meant something. You felt special just for a moment. So whatever this crazy celebrity thing is, if you can pass that on, it’s a nice thing from one person to another for a moment.”

He got a chance to practise what he preaches on the TIFF red carpet Friday night, when he saw a woman who appeared to be in distress.

“There was a woman crying in the line last night and I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ She looked like she was getting crushed from behind. ‘What’s wrong? Are you all right? Are you okay?’ and she couldn’t talk.

“Her friend said, ‘She loves Angie. She wants to meet Angie.’ So someone grabbed Angie and whatever that means to (the fan), I don’t know, but I know she felt special for the moment. That’s a lovely thing.”

Urban Renewal, Thanks To Country

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Krewen

(Sep 11, 2011) Many have talked the talk when it comes to promising something innovative in a country music concert format, but at the Air Canada Centre over the weekend, Keith Urban actually walked the walk.

For the majority of his very loud two-hour-and-20-minute Saturday night gig in front of an estimated 15,000 people, Urban delivered what many have aspired but failed to do for his current Get Closer tour: perform a country music show that bared its rock’n’ roll heart.

Tilting the odds in his favour is the fact that the Australian is an exceptional guitarist — a talent comparable to Eric Clapton in terms of six-string technical prowess — and it made all the difference in terms of offering a lot more mileage than country audiences are used to receiving.

Typically, it breaks down like this: Act plays song, and maybe there’s an extended middle-eight break where the players gets to pick a little longer and show that he has the skills for maybe a millisecond, and then the Act returns to the regularly scheduled programming and finishes the song just like it’s heard on the radio.

In the case of Nicole Kidman’s Grammy-winning wood shedding hubby, it was an opportunity to use the instrument as a catalyst to push the emotional envelope of the song to embody meaning beyond words, as he did on several numbers, stretching out “Stupid Boy,” and “’Til Summer Comes Around” to explosive heights.

The soaring solos and coda extensions added impressive gravitas in a unique setting that fans could call and claim as their own; one that couldn’t be replicated by dialling in a simple request to their local radio station.

Aside from Urban’s ability to provide transcending moments, he also wasn’t afraid to play some of his wall-to-wall hits by the book. Backed by a stellar four-piece that included old Ranch hand Jerry Flowers on bass, up-tempo Urban love songs like “Days Go By,” “Long Hot Summer” and “Raining On Sunday” raced along on their own momentum, the crowd eagerly wailing along as unofficial harmony singers, recognized whenever the host turned his microphone towards them and cajoled them to sing louder.

The stage set included a giant screen projecting all the Urban and band action and several videos that magnified the singer and songwriter’s hunk factor, but the most impressive bell-and-whistle aspects of the show were the numerous hydraulic spotlights wheeling around the curves of looped Roller Coaster trestles next to the screen.

Urban also tried to live up to the parameters demanded by the Get Closer tour, named after his latest album: Besides two satellite stages, Urban moved to a small mid-arena rotating platform for a trio of hits (“I’m In,” “Blue Jeans” and a poignant “You’ll Think of Me”), and most impressively to another stage located in the stands for a rousing “You Look Good In My Shirt,” after which he signed his guitar and gave to an elated young fan who looked as though she’d just won the lottery.

And as a Country Music Award Entertainer of the Year nominee might be prone to do, Urban also turned “Kiss A Girl” into a hilarious singing contest between three women and a guy, with the eventual winner, Sara from Brampton, joining him at the mic to finish the song, as he gave her a hug at the conclusion of the number.

Newcomers and five-time CMA nominees The Band Perry, a sibling trio from Mobile, Alabama, certainly made a case for longevity with a decent half-hour set of material from their self-titled debut, with the exception of an inexplicable cover of “Fat Bottomed Girls,” written by country music icon Freddie Mercury (he wrote sardonically).

Miscue aside, The Band Perry doesn’t necessarily have a unique sound, but it does have a star in front woman Kimberly Perry, who compensates in personality what the trio lack in originality. She was a pleasure to watch, and quality songs like “If I Die Young” and “You Lie” suggest longevity is at hand.

But it was the headliner, whose performance was anything but sub-Urban, that exemplified the marriage of rock and country at its most harmonious and satisfying.

Tyler Perry is Forbes’ Highest Paid Man in Entertainment

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Sep 13, 2011) *Actor/director/screenwriter/producer/author Tyler Perry, whose films have grossed more than $500 million worldwide, sits alone atop a new Forbes list of the highest-paid men in entertainment, beating out such contenders as Simon Cowell, Jerry Bruckheimer and Leonardo DiCaprio.

From May 2010 to May 2011, Perry raked in $130 million from a number of ventures, including his TV shows, “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” as well as his variety of Madea films and DVDs and his upcoming feature film role as the detective in “I, Alex Cross.”

Just behind Perry is producer Bruckheimer at $113 million, which comes from his take for the $1 billion-grossing fourth installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, as well as his hand in producing a number of hit TV shows, including “The Amazing Race” and the “CSI” franchise.

Spielberg is third with $107 million, earned in part from his upcoming pair of big-budget films, “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin.” Fourth is the only musician on the list, Elton John ($100 million), whose riches come from his back catalog and a world tour that grossed $204 million.

“X Factor” judge/creator Simon Cowell rounds out the top five with $90 million.

Also in the top 10: author James Patterson ($84 million), TV host Dr. Phil McGraw ($80 million), DiCaprio ($77 million), satellite radio titan Howard Stern ($76 million) and golfer Tiger Woods ($75 million).

Ethan Hawke: A Renaissance Man At Midlife

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By James Adams

(Sep 13, 2011) Ethan Hawke allows himself what is either a self-deprecating grin or a smirk when he's told he was James Franco before there was James Franco.

It's true, though. Franco gets a lot of attention these days for the multiplicity of his talents and interests, but the guy with the really enviable track record - as screen star, stage actor, novelist, filmmaker, theatre director, hunk - is Hawke, who turns 41 in November.

He's at TIFF this week to promote The Woman in the Fifth, a smart, intriguing and unsettling feature from Polish-British director Pawel Pawlikowski in which Hawke plays a struggling, emotionally fragile American novelist returning to Paris to be closer to his six-year-old daughter, now in the sole custody of his estranged wife. It's a fine performance and, with ugly, thick-lensed Ray-Ban glasses, Hawke looks thoroughly down, out and distressed.

On Tuesday, however, he was the very acme of Ethan Hawke-ness - attentive, engaged, blue eyes flashing, easy in his skin, looking fit in a smartly tailored suit and tie. But he acknowledged tempus fugit. "One of the ways in which I think that this movie was personal to me ... was this moment of feeling at this midpoint in your life," he said in an interview. "Being 40 means you're already so far down the path. I mean, Dead Poets Society came out 22 years ago. That's starting to be a while ago, y'know? And next year is the 20th anniversary of the first time I came to the Toronto film festival. Is the festival much older than that?

"When I was younger, I gave myself permission to try a lot of things," he observed. "But there's something about turning 40 that makes me feel that I'm not allowed to experiment any more, like I should know what I'm doing ... that there's a kind of acting I want to do, a kind of writing I want to do."

Indeed, when Hawke was in his early 20s, he thought his life would be like that of Albert Schweitzer - the first half devoted to the arts, the second to public service. "But now that I am at that midpoint, I feel like I'm at such an entry place, not an ending ... To be honest, I'd just like to keep being a student until I arrive somewhere. But does that mean I'm going to direct more theatre or wind up writing another novel? I don't know."

Almost 10 years since he published his and second novel, Ash Wednesday, Hawke says he is "really working hard on" finishing a third. "But at the same time, the older you get, the higher your standards are. I feel like if I'm gonna write another novel, it had better be good, for Chrissake. I didn't use to feel that way; I just used to feel it was fun to try. Now I have this other agenda with myself."

If Hawke has a model as a screen actor, it's probably Jeff Bridges. But, really, he confessed, "my first love is the theatre. More and more I've found that most in tune with who I am ... And if you look at actors who grow old well, theatre actors just do it so much better."

Elena Anaya Talks About Gender Roles, Almodovar

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Sep 14, 2011) Elena Anaya, 36, has mostly acted in Spanish films, but she’s also had smaller roles in English-language films such as Van Helsing and Savage Grace. The Skin I Live In is her second collaboration with Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar and she has a starring role as the mysterious Vera Cruz, a woman held a virtual prisoner by a “mad doctor” played by Antonio Banderas. The movie gets a final public screening Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

1. Why did you decide to do the role of Vera in The Skin I Live In?

Here’s a very big and fast answer, which is Pedro Almodovar. I consider him one of the best directors in Spain and more than that. There’s also a difficulty to find such interesting roles for females. I didn’t have to think about it. I was just so proud and happy to be involved in this story.

2. How did you prepare for the role of Vera?

Pedro introduced me so well to this character because he has been living with this character for 10 years. When we first met, he absolutely knew everything about her thoughts, about her feelings, about her energy to survive, about her incredible strength that almost makes her like a warrior in her own personal war.

3. There is a great deal of nudity required of you in the film. Was that difficult?

It’s very difficult. When you act, you feel very exposed. But when you are naked, the exposure is massive so it’s not easy. But with this director, Pedro Almodovar, there was not one frame I was not comfortable with.

4. What is Almodovar and the film trying to say about gender and personal identity?

I think (Almodovar) is trying to talk about identity, that it can’t be altered or changed. Identity is something you are born with, and fortunately, nobody can remove yours. And it doesn’t matter the gender you have, it matters what you want to be in life.

5. Have you enjoyed your stay in Toronto?

This is my third time, my second time at the fest. I kind of love the city. I find it very warm, very easy and people very gentle and polite, and clean. The city, not the people.


50/50 Is 100% Not A Bromance, Seth Rogen Says

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(Sep 12, 2011) Categorize made-in-Vancouver dramedy 50/50 any way you want, but don't label it a bromance, says co-star, Canadian actor Seth Rogen. Rogen co-stars in the movie written by his close friend Will Reiser and inspired by the real story of how they dealt with Reiser's cancer diagnosis. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, who is based on Reiser's character. "I hadn't even heard the word "bromance" until a few years ago," Rogen told a press conference at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Monday afternoon. "To me, it's like an invented thing. We don't sit down and say "yes, a bromance, what do we need? We need weed, we need beer jokes." "I was best friends with Will. He got sick. I was f------ useless. It seemed like a good movie," concluded Rogen with a laugh. 50/50, which  premiered at TIFF Monday, opens at theatres Sept. 30. Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston  and Bryce Dallas Howard also star.

All Grown Up, Keke Palmer Now Exploring Producing

Source: www.eurweb.com - By BlackBee

(Sep 10, 2011) *Keke Palmer is all grow’d up now at the grand old age of 18. And unlike others her age, she’s got a well-established career under her belt. With her new found age of responsibility, Palmer’s ready to take the reigns and make her own decisions. “When I first started out, everything was so fresh and so new and so fun, and I didn’t really pay attention to the business side of things, but as you get older, you start to notice things that you hadn’t really thought of before,” said KeKe, who mentioned “producing” as one of those things she’s recently become interested in. “It was hard at first. I was almost uncomfortable having so much power. It was hard to let myself have an opinion on things,” she told The Huffington Post. “Being a producer gives your opinion a little bit more weight.” She just wrapped up her first production project with Nick Cannon called “Ragz.” Producing is definitely something she wants to do more of, but music and acting is always something she’ll keep in mind. In the meantime, while she continues to learn the ins and outs of her new venture, she’s got a few things lined up with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton in upcoming film “Joyful Noise,” which will be released in January.

Whitney, Jordin Sparks Confirmed for ‘Sparkle’ Remake

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Sep 13, 2011) *Whitney Houston is reportedly in final negotiations for a big-screen comeback in Sony’s remake of the 1976 film “Sparkle,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Jordin Sparks will make her feature film debut in the movie, and Mike Epps has also been cast. Mara Brock Akil wrote the script and her husband, Salim Akil is directing. The latter worked with Epps on Sony’s “Jumping the Broom.”  Jordin Sparks Houston, meanwhile, hasn’t been in a movie since she traveled to Portland, Maine to make Penny Marshall’s 1996 “The Preacher’s Wife” opposite Denzel Washington. “Sparkle” focuses on three sisters who form a musical group and then have to contend with the ups and downs of stardom.  Debra Martin Chase is producing the Sony project. Production is scheduled to begin next month. Tri-Star Pictures is distributing in association with Stage 6 Films.

::TV NEWS::     

The Winner Of So You Think You Can Dance Canada Is …

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Sep 11, 2011) Two women were the last ones standing when So You Think You Can Dance Canada ended its fourth season on Sunday night.

The winner of the title of Canada's favourite dancer was
Jordan Clark, 19, a contemporary dancer from Tottenham, Ont.

Melissa Mitro, 23, from Richmond Hill, also a contemporary dancer, was the runner-up.

Both women had been considered front-runners in the 10-week competition.

Besides the title, Clark won $100,000 and a Chevrolet Cruze.

Mitro won a car and $10,000.

The rest of the top six didn't go home empty-handed. Matt Marr, 20, of Quispamsis, N.B.; Lindsay Leuschner, 19, of Stouffville, Ont.; Shane Simpson, 24, of Thornhill, Ont.; and Christian Millette, 28, of Montreal, Que., will all receive $5,000 from the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Dance Fund.

“Thank you so much. I can't even breathe right now,” Clark said after her victory was announced.

More than 1.6 million votes were cast to choose a winner, host Leah Miller said.

Sunday's two-hour finale featured favourite routines from the season, several group numbers and a surprise performance by Denys Drozdyuk and Tara-Jean Popowich, who won the dance competition show in Season 3 and Season 2 respectively.

He Plays a Cop, But Shemar Moore Would Never Own a Gun

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 8, 2011) *Whether you like it or not, Shemar Moore is one fine … brother. He’s the kind of guy that gets the ladies going at just the mention of his name. And at 41, he’s still got it.

But apparently he doesn’t think he’s at his prime.

“I’m not in very good shape right now,” he declared, despite his obvious sexiness.

“As I get older it’s getting harder and harder, but it’s part of my image to look a certain way, so I’m holding on,” laughed Moore, whose often physically demanding role as special agent Derek Morgan on CBS’ “Criminal Minds” helps, writes bet.com’s Gerri Miller.

Speaking of the show, it’s going into its seventh season; its success Moore attributes to the show’s cast chemistry, good writing, and drama element.

“It’s like Silence of the Lambs meets Seven,” he revealed.

He added:  “I know it’s pretend … I’d never own a gun. I don’t like guns. My mother hates that I carry a gun. But I look like I know what I’m doing,” explains Moore, who relates a lot to his TV character.

“He’s a tough guy … you understand why he has the bravado that he has, but underneath all that [he] is a softie with a big heart, and vulnerabilities and insecurities that justify why he’s guarded. His passion comes from a good place but it gets him in trouble.”Moore considers himself just as passionate, physically capable, and slow-to-trust as his character.

“But I’m not as tough, not looking for the fight. I get along with everybody. Derek is a little more hot-tempered.”

He explained that while his role is a tough guy, he wants to be a good example to others and just get along. He said that others are watching him and it’s important for him to lead a righteous life.

“Criminal Minds” premieres on CBS on Sept. 21.

Jamie Campbell Bower - The Young Man Who Would Be King

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Sep 12, 2011) Despite the title of his latest movie, Jamie Campbell Bower isn’t going to be Anonymous for very long. In fact you could argue that, at the tender age of 22, he’s already appeared in enough pop culture phenomena to qualify as a fledgling supernova.

He began as the juvenile lead, Anthony, in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, when he was only 18, then went on to roles in the Twilight series (as Caius in New Moon), the final two Harry Potter films (as Gellert Grindelwald) and Tuesday at 9 p.m., he launches the new CBC miniseries called Camelot, playing a very young King Arthur.

“I know people have a preconceived notion of the role,” he says, messing his long blond hair even further as he stretches out on a hotel room sofa during the Toronto International Film Festival.

“They’ve seen Sean Connery, Clive Owen, all those older guys. But there’s no factual evidence this guy ever existed, nobody that can be exhumed, no DNA test we can do, so why not go back and discover the core of who this person was? I mean, what’s the point of doing 10 hours of the same linear bulls--t, when you can try to offer people a three-dimensional progression?”

Bower has already learned that getting to the essence of a character is what this business is all about, at least for him.

“For me, the moments I shine as a performer are the ones where I don’t have to do anything, just be there and exist in the moment. That’s why I found working with Joely (Richardson) so intense, but beautiful.”

He and his Anonymous co-star both play younger versions in flashbacks of the film’s leading characters, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford and Queen Elizabeth I (played later by Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson’s mother.)

Many people will see the film as a literary whodunit, working on the hypothesis that Shakespeare was a fraud and that de Vere really wrote the plays. But during the moments when Bower and Richardson are onscreen, it’s hard to think the film is about anything other than their love.

“Elizabeth loved him because he stood up to her. She was used to everybody bowing down and licking her arse all the time. Along comes this boy who’s well-read, well-travelled, well-dressed, but he doesn’t give a toss about any of it.”

That sounds so autobiographical, one has to ask Bower what he was like in his youth.

“What was I like as a kid? I’m still a kid. I always wanted to be the centre of attention. Mom tells me that once I interrupted one of her dinner parties because no one was listening to me. I stood up on the table, dropped my pants and mooned everyone.

“I was by no means the popular kid at school, but I was always passionate about performing for the exploration of myself, not the enjoyment of others.”

He was just out of school when he landed the role in Sweeney Todd, opposite the likes of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

“It was pretty terrifying. I’m not going to lie; it was scary, but it was a life experience I cherish today.”

He appeared in the second of the Twilight movies and has already filmed the fourth and fifth. Like most people involved with it, he finds it “a unique experience, where you’re laughing one minute and shuddering the next.

“And then there’s the fans. Let’s not forget that the word ‘fan’ comes from ‘fanatic’ and the Twilight devotees certainly fit that description.”

Asked for the most outrageous example of adulation he can recall, he gets a wicked twinkle in his eye.

“A girl once sent a bondage collar and some cheese, along with a very explicit note, to a hotel I was staying in. It was a wheel of brie. I do like a bit of brie, but I didn’t eat it for fear there was some glass or something in it.

“There are crazy people out there, but f--k it, I’m one of them.”


Sex And The City Prequel Firms Up

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bang showbiz

(Sep 12, 2011) It’s nearly official: A Sex and the City prequel is set to hit TV screens next year. Entertainment Weekly reports that the CW network is close to a deal for a series based on the book The Carrie Diaries, which was penned by Sex and the City writer Candace Bushnell and opens with Carrie starting her senior year in a small-town high school in the 1980s. The original series, which ran from 1998 to 2004 and focused on writer Carrie Bradshaw and her life as a New York singleton, was a huge hit and now producers are working on a new show based on the Bradshaw character’s life before she moved to Manhattan. The series will And the new project will not feature Bradshaw’s New York friends Miranda Hobbs and Charlotte York, but a young Samantha Jones will make an appearance. Sarah Jessica Parker — who played Carrie in the TV show and in the two movies — will not be involved, nor will series creator Darren Star and director Michael Patrick King. King told the magazine: “My Carrie Bradshaw started at 33, and I took her to 43. For me, the idea of going backwards and making her less evolved . . . is something that I don’t even imagine doing.” Parker has ruled out any involvement with any TV shows, saying: “There’s not a TV series that I’m part of. No film either — not for the near future. And it doesn’t feel sad.”

Rihanna to Guest Judge on ‘X Factor’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 12, 2011) *Rihanna is reportedly set to serve as a guest judge on “The X Factor” sometime this season. According to TMZ, the singer enjoyed her U.K. “X Factor” finale performance so much, that she — and series creator/star Simon Cowell — wants to hook up a second time. It helps that Rihanna is also signed to Island Def Jam, the Universal Music Group label that “X Factor” judge L.A. Reid ran from 2004 until March of this year. Rihanna’s reps won’t confirm a booking, but in speaking with The Hollywood Reporter for an August cover story, Cowell emphasized that Reid is “expected to bring in stars.” Reid is currently chairman and CEO of Sony-owned Epic Label Group, which counts Shakira and Sara Bareilles among its artists. Says Cowell: “L.A. is the most powerful music executive in the world right now. He brings star power with him.” It was reported last month that Carey was scheduled to shoot her guest segments but was grounded in New York due to Hurricane Irene. Says an “X Factor” source, “It was disappointing, but they’ll work something out.” Fox has not commented on any guest judge rumours insisting that viewers will find out soon enough. The show premieres on Sept. 21.

Larenz Tate Takes On Dual Identity Role in New BET Original Film

Source: www.eurweb.com - By

(Sep 8, 2011) *BET announced on Wednesday plans to begin production on a new original movie for television called “Gun Hill,” staring today’s birthday boy, Larenz Tate as well as Tawny Cypress and Aisha Hinds. The gritty cop drama plays up the old Bible tale of Cain and Abel on the backdrop of New York City. The story of identical twins, with opposite lifestyles, is filled with dramatic twists and turns. One who is a cop, is killed, and the other who is a criminal assumes his identity. Tate takes on the dual roles. “Gun Hill” is written. directed, produced and executive produced by Reggie ‘Rock’ Bythewood. No word yet on when the film will premiere on the network.


Susinn McFarlane, In Plays Of Older Women

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By Marsha Lederman

(Sep 8, 2011) Vancouver actor Susinn McFarlen was in the audience watching a play directed by one of the hottest directors in the country - who happens to be female - when she had an epiphany. Finally, the issue that had been plaguing her career was clear.

The play was Tear the Curtain! The director was McFarlen's good friend Kim Collier, who has since won the Siminovitch Prize.

And there wasn't a single older woman onstage.

"There were like four, maybe five older men and some young men and two young girls," McFarlen says. "She couldn't have an old battle-axe onstage in that newsroom? If it's supposed to be [set] in the thirties, she couldn't have a lesbian who never married?" (The play is set in 1929-30, and the protagonist is a newspaper theatre critic.)

"And I thought, 'Oh my God, even Kim Collier, who has got to be the classiest director in town, she's in her 40s and even she doesn't get it.' ... Even the young, really smart women aren't getting that they're creating work with no parts for older women.

"So I decided to count."

McFarlen went home, and went through the cast lists of every production in Vancouver at the time - which, she points out, did not include the male-heavy Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

"There were 20 men over the age of 50 onstage," she reports. "I'm not counting the men who were 48. But 20 over 50. And not a single woman. I was aghast."

McFarlen, now 55, says the discovery confirmed what she had always suspected: that she wasn't getting parts because of her age - and gender.

"For 18 years I was married to a Vancouver actor [Kevin McNulty] who never stops working. The phone never stops ringing. He gets 12 auditions a week whereas I get one audition every three weeks."

McFarlen is an accomplished actor. She has won two Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards and has had seven nominations, most recently for her role in this year's acclaimed Arts Club production of August: Osage County. But she says once she turned 50, the roles started drying up. Four years ago, two producers - who had employed her off and on for 15 years - told her they were letting her go because she was too old. One of them said they looking for the new Susinn McFarlen, "a younger version of you."

After her depressing head count, McFarlen was determined to tip the balance, even a tiny bit. At this point, she had already turned her sights from acting to writing and was working on her first play. But doing the gender math gelled for her what she should be striving for as a playwright: creating new works that feature great parts for older women.

Since You Left Us premieres at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival on Thursday, following a two-week workshop at this year's Banff Playwrights Colony.

It's the story of a reunion: A woman visits her family after a 15-year absence to tell her mother that she loves her - which gets more and more difficult as the weekend progresses.

"She's coming home to a family of absolute freaking party animals," McFarlen says. "Nobody else has sobered up. The party is still going on."

There are two parts for women in their 50s, and one for a 70-year-old. (All three parts at the Fringe will be played by women in their 50s: Wendy Noel, Denny Williams and Kathryn Kirkpatrick.)

"I think women are really interested in what our stories are," McFarlen says. "That's who's buying the theatre tickets in this country: older women and gay men."

How to explain the dearth of roles for older women, then?

"I have thought about it and can't figure it out," McFarlen said. "I think it's because our culture likes to look at beautiful young things."

Since You Left Us is at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, which runs Sept. 8-18 (vancouverfringe.com).

Four to watch at the Fringe

Giant Invisible Robot

Jayson McDonald has been lauded for his portrayal of a shy young man with a destructive robot.

Grim and Fischer: A Deathly Comedy in Full Face Mask

Death (Andrew Phoenix) comes to claim an old woman (Kate Braidwood) but she's not ready to go.

The Surprise

Brooklyn writer/performer Martin Dockery has been wowing audiences with this true story about a whopping lie.

This Is Cancer

Cancer survivor Bruce Horak plays Cancer, an arrogant jerk who is shocked by the fact he is so despised.

Surviving The Air India Tragedy Through The Arts

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By Marsha Lederman

(Sep 10, 2011) Dance saved Lata Pada's life, twice. Literally, the first time: She had travelled to India ahead of her family to rehearse for a performance there, so she was not with her husband and two daughters on Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, when a bomb exploded on-board. Then, dance rescued her again: She relocated to India and spent years working with her guru, dancing, she says, like a woman possessed.

"Dance was that one thing that kept me from being on the same flight as them, and I was literally in my teacher's dance studio when I got the news of the tragedy," Pada said recently from her Mississauga home. "So I just returned to it intuitively, instinctively, instantly, intensely. Because at that moment, that was the only thing I could return to."

So after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (which gave Pada unwanted visual imagery for her own loss), when she heard that artists were among the first back at work in Lower Manhattan, it reaffirmed her view of art as saviour.

"They were back in their studios painting, writing, dancing, creating music, because that is the nourishment that we get from the arts at a time like this. And I was so taken by that and it resonated deeply for me, because I know what it did for me."

It's been 10 years, and there has been a considerable artistic response to 9/11, ranging from literary fiction to country music. In Canada, on a much smaller scale, artists are exploring the Air India tragedy in their work: in opera, poetry and Pada's multimedia work, Revealed by Fire, which premiered a few months before 9/11.

"I never wanted the Air India tragedy to be part of my work," says Pada, 64. But slowly a developing piece about women in Indian society transformed into autobiography. "It became quite clear that the one gnawing question that remained at the back of my mind and sometimes rose to the surface quite consciously was my own condition. ... If I lose my husband, am I still a wife? If I lose my children, am I still a mother? Who am I?"

Renée Saklikar, a Vancouver-based poet, has been reading widely on the question of so-called grief literature. Her interest is professional and personal: She lost her aunt and uncle in the Air India bombing, and two years ago, began devoting herself full-time to poetry, much of it about Air India.

"There's a lot of crap that comes out in the name of self-expression," says Saklikar, 49. "And what I'm trying to do is marry an authentic voice - because these are traumas that happened to me - and not hoity-toity it up, but also create great art." She wants to be taken seriously as a poet, not just a grieving niece. "If you're personally involved, how do you straddle and negotiate that?"

One of her poems, Flying across Canada to Ireland (part of Saklikar's The Canada Project) was shortlisted by ARC Poetry Magazine for its poem of the year award. Another, Air India/Stanley Park, ponders the park's Air India memorial.

Art itself serves as a memorial potentially more powerful - and in some cases with more longevity - than any history lesson. It's the difference between hearing about the crucifixion in Sunday school, and encountering Michelangelo's Pieta. Or reading Elie Wiesel's Night, rather than a textbook account of the Holocaust.

"Whether it's a photograph, a music composition, a piece of dance, a book, poetry, a painting, they are permanent," says Pada. "They serve to continually remind us."

Most of Air India's victims were Canadian, but the tragedy struck Ireland too, as the Irish carried out the horrific recovery effort off County Cork. William Galinsky was running the Cork Midsummer Festival when he had the idea to create an opera based on the event. (He's now artistic director of the UK's Norfolk & Norwich Festival.) He is working with Irish composer Jurgen Simpson, in partnership with the Banff Centre and Vancouver's PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, where their opera is scheduled to premiere in early 2013.

"We're trying to find a language through music to communicate this tragedy in a voice that will speak to everyone," Simpson is quoted as saying in the Banff Centre's Winter 2011 Report to the Community.

Pada, a vocal advocate for the Air India families, says performing Revealed by Fire was a "gut-wrenching" challenge. "Every time I started the work, I would be at the side of the stage just trembling, trembling. Because I did not know how my emotions would unfold."

And yet, the show went on. Life, terribly altered, went on.

"I've had people say to me, 'How have you remained so strong, so positive, so generous?' And I've said, 'I've understood the value of dance in my life and hopefully I can transmit that to others.' And if everybody gets out of dance what I got out of it, let it be the one thing they can hold onto, should life ever throw them a curveball."


LeapPad's Latest Tablet Sure To Be A Hit With Kids

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chad Sapieha

(Sep 10, 2011) As a gadget reviewer and father of a tech-hungry little six-year-old, I’m both aware and wary of the myriad electronic devices manufactured for kids. I’m also frequently approached by friends and family wanting to know which of these gizmos I’d recommend for their children. My answer is almost always the same: Pretty much anything from LeapFrog.

Though only around for about 15 years, this American toy maker has established a reputation for consistently delivering the Holy Grail of kids’ electronics: durable, high-quality devices that both entertain and educate (hundreds of pedagogy professionals are on LeapFrog’s product development payroll). Unlike other gadgets that occasionally consume my daughter’s time, I never feel guilty about switching on and handing over a LeapFrog device to keep her occupied in the backseat while I navigate crowded freeways or try to meet a deadline while working from home.

And that holds true for the company’s latest product, the LeapPad Explorer.

As its name suggests, the LeapPad is basically a tablet for kids. Its five-inch finger-touch screen–just a little larger than those of most smartphones – is surrounded by thick and hardy layers of white, green, and black plastic designed to withstand tumbles. My daughter has already put the evaluation unit I was provided through ordeals that would have murdered my iPad, and all it suffered was a few scuffs.

A low resolution camera mounted on the back is capable of capturing both stills and video, while a stylus used for drawing and writing sits in a sheath on the right side. Headphone, USB, cartridge, and power jacks line the edges, while the front plays host to just four buttons – power, home, volume up, and volume down – and a directional pad. An internal accelerometer enables a motion control interface in some activities.

Two compartments in the back house a quartet of double-A batteries, which in anecdotal testing provided more than enough juice to get my daughter through a lengthy Labour Day weekend road trip.

Of course, as with adult tablets, the LeapPad’s hardware is simply a window to content, and all but forgotten once a child is engaged in an activity. To that end, the LeapPad already has more than 100 downloadable apps and cartridge-based games that can be purchased separately for $5 and $30 each, respectively. Plus, it’s backwards compatible with all previous titles developed for the Leapster Explorer, another LeapFrog device that launched last year (these games, originally designed for smaller screens and physical controls, appear in a window on the LeapPad’s larger LCD, with virtual buttons displayed beside them).

There’s also plenty to do right out of the box. A pet simulator lets kids play with, customize, and care for furry little creatures, a licensed Cars 2 storybook teaches younger children to recognize simple words while providing a few basic games to play, and a nearly feature-length animated video sees LeapFrog’s amphibian mascot Tad going on an alphabet adventure through his father’s letter factory.

My daughter was most taken, however, by the LeapPad’s creative functionality. The camera, mic, and touch screen are put to great use in a series of apps that allow kids to snap and artfully edit photos, capture video, and even create their own storybooks with pages populated by a mixture of photographs and hand drawn art. Everything your kids create can be accessed from a central folder on the home screen and transferred to a PC via USB to be saved or printed.

The processing speed for resource-hungry art activities is snail-like (lag is especially noticeable while drawing), but my daughter – despite having spent plenty of time doodling on her dad’s much quicker tablets – didn’t seem to mind in the least. She simply slowed her interactions to match the device’s capabilities.

Parents can monitor their kids’ performance in educational games by reviewing the badges they’ve earned when the device is connected to a PC. This can be useful under certain circumstances, and I’ve tinkered with it in the past with other LeapFrog devices, but I’ve found it more useful – and more rewarding – to simply take the time to sit down and personally observe how my daughter is doing in the games she plays and then help her out when she gets stuck.

Priced at $109.99 in Canada (a $10 premium over the American MSRP), the LeapPad Explorer is among the priciest gadgets yet released by LeapFrog and probably won’t be an impulse buy for most parents. However, moms and dads in search of a backseat toy with both legitimate entertainment and real educational value for kids between ages four and nine won’t do much better.

It’s certainly what I’ll recommend to anyone who comes knocking on my door for children’s tech gift ideas this holiday shopping season.

Netflix Should Face Same Rules As Canadian Broadcasters: Astral

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Sep 12, 2011) MONTREAL— Specialty media company Astral Media ACM.A-T says foreign Internet competitors like Netflix NFLX-Q should be subject to the same rules as Canadian broadcast providers.

In a speech Monday, Astral chief executive Ian Greenberg called it “unfair competition.”

Astral and most other Canadian broadcasters, have pressed the federal broadcast regulator for stiffer rules on Netflix operations in Canada so all movie providers face a level playing field – no matter whether they broadcast over the airwaves, on cable or via the Internet.

“The reality that currently exists with foreign Internet broadcasting competitors who reap the benefits and revenues of doing business in this country, yet are not subject to the same rules of engagement as Canadian companies,” Mr. Greenberg said in prepared remarks distributed before a business luncheon speech Monday.

The CRTC and the government need to ensure there is a level playing field for all, he said.

Astral has long-term deals in place with most U.S. movie studios, giving it exclusive content to help counter competition from Internet movie provider Netflix.

Astral also has lengthy deals with U.S. cable channels HBO and Showtime for exclusive programming to broadcast on its pay TV services such as The Movie Network.

Netflix is competing for licensing rights with TV networks and pay TV services for content. It had 23.6 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada at the end of March, double the amount from the same period two years ago.

Astral is part of a 40-member group from the telecommunications, broadcasting, cable and satellite and production sectors, along with unions, that has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to initiate public consultations on the matter.

In its recent financial results, Astral has said its third-quarter net income increased as advertising grew in both its television and billboard operations.

The company’s profits rose slightly to $49.3-million, or 87 cents per diluted share, from $48.5-million, or 85 cents per share a year ago. Revenue lifted to $268-million from $253.6-million.

Astral said its television advertising revenue grew 11 per cent in the quarter.


City Arts Grants At Risk

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Sep 9, 2011) A proposal drafted at Toronto City Hall to slash all funding to major arts organizations is sending shock waves through Toronto’s cultural world, the Star has learned.

The proposal, prepared by city manager Joe Pennachetti in response to a request from Mayor Rob Ford’s office, is intended to be presented at a meeting of the city’s executive committee on Sept. 19.

If passed by city council, the plan would eliminate more than $6 million of annual funding that goes directly to 10 of the city’s top arts organizations, including the Toronto International Film Festival, which opened Thursday.

The leaders of those organizations have scheduled a summit meeting on Friday morning at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, convened by the Toronto Arts Council. (The council hands out $10 million in arts grants from the city, but the $6 million for the major groups comes directly from city hall.)

“Nothing is official and I haven’t seen anything on paper, but the newest recommendation would most certainly affect major arts organizations in a dramatic way,” said Claire Hopkinson, executive director of the arts council. “It would involve alarming reductions to a number of arts organizations. . . . We feel it is important to let the people of Toronto know and appreciate the importance of funding for the arts from the city.”

For that reason, the art council, in collaboration with Business for the Arts, is organizing a news conference at Roy Thomson Hall next Thursday.

Representatives of TIFF, the National Ballet and the Canadian Opera Company said they would certainly feel the loss of the city money.

“We currently receive $800,000 from the city, and we have had a great working relationship with the city under current and past administrations,” said Jennifer Bell, TIFF’s vice-president in charge of communications.

“Our year-round activities bring in $170 million in independently measured economic impact. The city’s funding goes to great use supporting our year-round initiatives . . . with only a small portion going to the festival. A fair amount of our funding goes directly back to the city (through paid duty officers, permits, passes to the city, etc.)”

Kevin Garland, executive director of the National Ballet of Canada, said, “It would be a huge setback if the city pulled the rug out now.

“There was a tremendous commitment and investment to our cultural infrastructure from private donors as well as governments, and the result was we have built a cultural scene that we can be proud of, which makes this city a tourist destination and delivers major economic impact.”

“If we lost our grant from the city, we would have to become a different kind of company,” said Alexander Neef, general director of the Canadian Opera Company.

Hopkinson says there are other options under consideration and she hopes the city will be persuaded not to adopt the worst-case scenario, especially if the implications are made clear.

“I can’t imagine city council would approve drastic cuts,” says Jeff Melanson, who has been the mayor’s adviser on the arts since November 2010. “And if it did happen, I would feel betrayed.”

Ford agreed there would be no cuts to the arts to get Melanson to work as his adviser. And city council gave its blessing to a long-term culture plan calling for the city to increase its arts funding.

But these days Melanson has little contact with the mayor; at the end of this month he will leave Toronto and his job as co-CEO of the National Ballet School to take a job at the Banff Centre.

Calls to the mayor’s chief of staff and other city officials were not returned.


Canadian Opera Company: $1,317,015

National Ballet of Canada: $1,148,600

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: $1,134,036

TIFF: $800,000

AGO: $540,000

Caribana: $494,190

Luminato: $200,000

National Ballet School: $137,332

Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art: $135,980

Pride Toronto: $123,807

Movie Critic Roger Ebert Reviews His Life In New Memoir

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Sep 12, 2011) Film critic Roger Ebert may have lost his speaking voice, but his words ring true in his memoir, Life Itself (Grand Central Publishing, $29.95), due out Tuesday.

Ebert writes about his life with the same honesty that he’s brought to his reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and his 23 years in television as co-host of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. He covers everything from sex, to his battles with alcoholism, to the complications from thyroid cancer that left him unable to eat, drink or talk in 2006. There are remembrances of his time spent with favourite filmmakers, TV sidekick Gene Siskel, and his beloved wife, Chaz. His stories about the early days of his journalism career in the 1960s sound like scenes from The Front Page.

Ebert will be signing books Wednesday at Indigo Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor St. W. at 7 p.m., and Friday at TheatreBooks, 11 St. Thomas St. at 4 p.m.

He responded to these questions via email prior to arriving in Toronto for TIFF.

Q: There’s not much blinking or ducking going on in this book. You are very honest. You refer to your physical changes in good-humoured Phantom of the Opera terms, but I can’t believe it doesn’t cause you pain. Were there things you were loath to share, but felt compelled to?

A: I think I tried to be open. Of course I feel rotten about my appearance, but I feel worse about not being able to speak. I believed that since I was only going to write one memoir, I’d better be open and honest. Besides, if you’re familiar with the silent version of the Phantom, I do look like him. We should all look so good as the Phantom of the musical, with his designer face-wear.

Q: I have rarely read such devoted, loving words about food. You made me feel like getting my hands on a Steak ’n Shake burger would change my life. You write you don’t miss food and never feel hungry, but then you write about it with such passion (and you did pen a cookbook). Is not being able to eat the worst part of your post-cancer life?

A: Nope. It’s not speaking. It’s like one of questions kids ask: Would you rather be blind or deaf? What a choice.

Q: You clear up the myth about (not) dating Oprah and set the record straight about your unique relationship with Gene Siskel. What else did you want people to know about you that they may have not realized?

A: How my drinking days prevented me from being marriageable for many years.

Q: Did writing any part of this book bring tears or cause regret?

A: I realize now more than ever what good parents I had, and what a happy childhood. Today’s society has such a loss of innocence.

Q: You’re very candid about everything from sexual experiences to alcoholism. Did you ever worry you were telling too much?

A: Frankly, I think a good many people will be able to identify with many of my experiences.

Q: You describe your passion for books and reading, which begins from a young age. What’s the best book-to-movie you’ve seen? Which one utterly failed?

A: It’s not the “faithfulness” of the adaptation that matters so much as the resulting film. No Country for Old Men was a pretty great film. I felt Bonfire of the Vanities missed the mark.

Q: I was very touched by your words that you live in memory so much more now since losing your ability to speak. How has that changed your work as a critic?

A: Anything that places you more in touch with yourself makes you a better critic. You aren’t making an objective judgment. You’re having a subjective experience, and trying to describe it and figure out how and why.

Q: Are people surprised to know you wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?

A: They’re more . . . amused.

Q: You mention TIFF several times in the book. What are some of your best memories of the festival? What do you make of TIFF’s evolution as a film fest?

A: I was there in Year 2, when it was still inventing itself. Now it’s second only to Cannes. The people who basically “ordered” me to attend were Dusty and Joan Cohl, who lured so many guests in those early years and became my friends of a lifetime. Through them, I got to know dozens of Torontonians, and with many, (wife) Chaz and I are still close.


Improve Your Energy Flow In Thailand’s Seaside Playground

Source: www.globeandmail.com

(Sep 8, 2011) If the Pictionary clue was “tropical paradise,” you can bet I’d be drawing Anantara Hua Hin on my mental sketchpad. Part of the hotel’s allure is its hidden location; it’s fantastically private. It’s also achingly beautiful – epic beaches crowned by stunning Thai pavilions that merge seamlessly into the landscape. You could be forgiven for mistaking the resort for a jungle village, one belonging to a tribe with a fondness for walk-in wine cellars, Belgian waffles and bubbly Jacuzzis.

Tropical in every sense, I follow my hibiscus-haired therapist through vibrant, verdant gardens to the spa for a Merudanda massage. She applies Ayurvedic oil medicated with healing herbs onto my back, then lifts and stretches limbs with expert care, working blood flow toward the heart to improve circulation. By the end of this restorative treatment, she’s relaxed stiff or sore muscles accumulated from my red-eye flight from Toronto.

The benefits

The spine is the seat of chakras, from where all nerves spiral out to the periphery. Merudanda massage aims to release stress built up in the back, improving the flow of energy.

The spa

Perched on the sands of Thailand’s traditional royal seaside playground lies Anantara Hua Hin, a tranquil coastal retreat within easy reach of Bangkok. The spa is reason alone to check in here, with its stunning views of sparkling, lotus-fringed lagoons. Each of the seven spa suites is set in its own individual garden courtyard with dual outdoor “rain” showers suspended in bronze cages modelled on traditional Thai artefacts.

Treatments combine rich local ingredients, including plant infusions expertly blended to achieve delicate flavours, luxurious aromas and sweet serenity. Designed in the style of an ancient Thai village, lush gardens invite you to discover multiple leisure options outdoors, while in suite you’ll find all the amenities for an idyllic escape. Wooden and pebble walkways weave their way round water and rock features to the prized Lagoon Wing – each floor plan spacious, private and adorned with sun-trap terraces. Another reason well-heeled sun-seekers flock here is the food. With eight dining venues, running a delectable gamut of flavours from rock lobster on shaved fennel to spicy Massaman curry, even the most persnickety diner finds something to savour.

The Basics

Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa at 43/1 Phetkasem Beach Rd., Thailand; 66-32-520-250; huahin.anantara.com; 90 minutes for $140.

Special to The Globe and Mail


Greatest Pressure Paula Findlay Feeling Likely From Herself

Source: www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman

(Sep 12, 2011) Canadian triathlon phenom Paula Findlay's greatest asset is her biggest detriment right now.

As her coach Patrick Kelly said earlier this season, she's "hard wired to win," an incredibly driven athlete who's unwilling to accept anything less than her best and someone who puts huge pressure on herself.

She needs to back off on that right now in the wake of dropping out from Sunday's World Championship Series Grand Final in Beijing.

Not only does she need to take a break, she needs to give herself a break. Not an easy thing for such a young and intense athlete.

When the 22-year-old stormed the circuit with wins in five of her first six World Championship Series races, Findlay looked like an unstoppable force. But injury has undermined her form and understandably her confidence.

Her father Max told Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun in the wake of Sunday's race: “She is more than devastated. It’s another tough lesson in a very tumultuous year for Paula. She needs to get home, get away and allow herself time to recover. She’s emotionally and physically exhausted. She’s really sorry to let her city, country, fans and followers down. She needs her mom and her friends right now. She is so sad she wants to be invisible.”

But Findlay needs to realize she didn't let anybody down. She felt similarily bad – probably even worse – when she had to pull out of her hometown race because of injury earlier this season.

That's part of racing at that elite level – these athletes are always pushing themselves to the brink of injury.

Maybe this works to Findlay's advantage in the end. For one thing, she will get more rest. But it also shows people that she's human, that she's not a shoo-in for London because of her incredible streak. Maybe, that takes some pressure off.

There's no doubt the Olympic expectations were already beginning to wear on her. At a teleconference held by Triathlon Canada before the pre-Olympic London race in August, it was put to Findlay that she'll be one of the few Canadian athletes who will be a gold medal favourite next summer and she was asked if she was ready to embrace the pressure.

"It is a lot of pressure and I don't like thinking about it or reading about it," said Findlay, whose tremulous voice matched her words. "Last year before the London race, I wasn't even thinking I could make the Olympic team and now I'm being considered a medal hopeful. It is a lot of pressure but it's so far ahead and so much can happen between now and then."

As we've seen, that's true. The most valuable thing a break might give Finlay is some perspective. Given her talent and drive, she'll likely be anything but invisible come London.

Final Eight Set For Battle At EuroBasket Tournament

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(Sep 12, 2011) They are down to the Final Eight at the European basketball championships, with two berths in the 2012 London Olympics at stake, along with four spots in the last-chance qualification tournament next summer.

Spain vs. Slovenia

Wednesday, 11 a.m. EDT

The defending champion Spaniards are rolling; the only blip in eight games was a first-round upset loss to Turkey . . . Pau and Marc Gasol have been virtually unstoppable; Pau’s averaging 20.4 points per game on an astonishing 62 per cent shooting from the field . . . Jose Calderon gets the call when things need to be calmed down, as he’s the true veteran backcourt presence for Spain.

Slovenia made it to the semi-finals of EuroBasket 2009 but needed a win over Finland in the final group game to reach the quarters this year in Lithuania . . . They don’t score an awful lot of points — averaging just 67.8 per game in eight tournament games — and it’s hard to imagine them giving Spain much of a fight . . . Ex-Raptor Uros Slokar had a huge impact in a win over Finland, with 13 points and eight rebounds, after averaging only 4.5 points per game earlier in the tournament.

Spain by 15.

Macedonia vs. Lithuania

Wednesday, 2 p.m. EDT

There’s been no bigger surprise at the tournament than FYR of Macedonia, but they now find themselves in one of the most unenviable positions of anyone — they get the hosts in the quarter-finals and, if they steal that one, likely Spain in the semis . . . They’re led by U.S.-born Bo McCalebb, who has been one of the top point guards in the tournament . . . The one thing the Macedonians have to do better is rebound; they were dominated on the glass in a crucial loss to Russia to end the second round.

It’s difficult to describe how vocal and supportive the Lithuania fans are, and with so much at stake — a win guarantees at least a spot in the final Olympic qualifier next year — it might be enough to tip the scales . . . Raptor draft pick Jonas Valanciunas has been playing inspired basketball in his senior team debut, averaging more than 10 points a game while not getting into the anticipated foul trouble … At the other end of the spectrum is 35-year-old Sarunas Jasikevius, who has returned to the national team after a three-year absence and seems to have become the team’s spiritual leader . . . Lithuania also shoots better than 45 per cent from three-point range.

Lithuania by 11.

France vs. Greece

Thursday, 11 a.m. EDT

France went in the tank in its final second-round game, giving it — perhaps — an easier road to the final by avoiding Lithuania in the semi-finals . . . Tony Parker and Joakim Noah sat out their last game, ostensibly to rest, and France needs them to play well to have any shot to advance . . . Boris Diaw may be as big as a house but he’s been one of France’s top rebounders … The combination of Parker and young guard Nando DeColo gives France a decided backcourt advantage.

Greece, as always, is one of the lesser-known teams for fans outside of Europe, but remain a dangerous opponent, chock full of EuroLeague veterans . . . The Greeks have been all over the map, beating Slovenia and Serbia but losing to Russia and surprising Macedonia . . . The Greeks are one of the best defensive teams so far in the tournament, allowing fewer than 66 points a game — and that’s the way they can register the upset.

Greece by 4.

Russia vs. Serbia

Thursday, 2 p.m. EDT

Russia remains the lone unbeaten team in the tournament, even if it took a last-second banked three-pointer from Sergie Monya to beat Macedonia and clinch what’s likely an easier trip to the gold medal game . . . Andrei Kirilenko has been Russia’s top player, leading the team in scoring and rebounding through eight games . . . But the thing Russia does better than anything is defend; they’ve allowed a tournament best 64 points per game . . . They also shoot three-pointers (37 per cent) better than any quarterfinalist other than Lithuania.

Serbia barely snuck into the quarter-finals with a one-point win over Turkey in the final second-round game . . . Even so, it’s a dangerous side with a solid inside-out combination of former NBAer Nenad Krstic and the sublime guard Milos Teodisic, who might be the brightest emerging star of the entire tournament . . . Still, the Serbs lost to France, Lithuania and Spain in a disastrous second round, and might not be able to keep up with the big boys much longer . . . But they were finalists two years ago and experience counts for something in these event.

Serbia by 2.

Start Of The NBA Season In Doubt As Latest Talks Fail

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Sep 13, 2011) NEW YORK— The long looks on players' faces and the anger in deputy commissioner Adam Silver's voice made it obvious: There was no progress Tuesday in talks to end the NBA lockout.

And with less than three weeks until training camps, the latest setback may be a tough one.

“I think coming out of today, obviously because of the calendar, we can't come out of here feeling as though training camps and the season is going to start on time at this point,” players' association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said.

Still divided over the salary cap structure, owners and players decided to pass on talking again Wednesday, and no further meetings are scheduled at this point.

“Well, we did not have a great day, I think it's fair to say that,” Commissioner David Stern said. “On the other hand, we did say that it is our collective task to decide what we want on the one hand on each side, and two, what each side needs if we choose to work ourselves in such a way as to have the season start on time. That's still our goal.”

Training camps have been expected to open Oct. 3 and the regular season's opening night is scheduled for Nov. 1.

“We're a bit pessimistic and discouraged at one, the ability to start on time, and we're not so sure that there may not be further damages or delay trying to get the season started,” union executive director Billy Hunter said. “The owners are not inclined at this stage to move off the position where they've anchored themselves.”

Stern and Silver countered that the union insisted the current soft cap system remain exactly as it is before they would agree to discuss anything else.

“Frankly, we're having trouble understanding why the label of a hard cap is what's breaking apart these negotiations right now, and that's what we discussed for a long time as a committee and then discussed together with the players,” said Silver, his voice rising as he spoke.

After three meetings among small groups in the last two weeks, full bargaining committees returned to the table Tuesday. They could also have met Wednesday, but Stern said it was best the two sides step away and meet with their own membership groups on Thursday.

Though owners are seeking an overhaul of the league's financial system after saying they lost $300 million last season and hundreds of millions more in each year of the previous collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap appears to have emerged as the biggest obstacle to a new deal.

The current system allows teams to exceed the ceiling through the use of various exceptions if they are willing to pay a luxury tax, giving big-market teams such as the Lakers — who can take on added payroll — an advantage over the little guys.

But Hunter said a hard cap is “highly untenable,” referring to it as a “blood issue” to the players. He added the players were prepared to make a “significant” financial move, but they would only agree to give on dollars if they got a win on the system.

“For us, if we give on one, we have to have the other. It can't be just a total capitulation,” he said.

The league said players wanted owners to guarantee they would concede on the cap as a condition of talking about anything further, but Stern said “all of the owners were completely unified in the view that we needed a system that at the end of the day allowed 30 teams to compete.”

Added Silver: “That should be the goal of both the owners and the players in this negotiation, not to come in and say that that's off the table, and we won't discuss it and it's a precondition of us making an economic move.”

The recent meetings had been cordial, sparking hopes that progress was being made. Instead, Fisher and Hunter sat in the middle of a row of players who looked dejected, and now may have to wonder if they need to look harder at finding a job overseas.

A sign of how the day went: Owners spent the majority of about five hours behind closed doors caucusing among themselves.

“We can't find a place with the league and our owners where we can reach a deal sooner rather than later,” Fisher said.

Besides the cap, the other main issue remains the division of revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 per cent under the old deal and had offered to lower that to 54.3 per cent before owners locked them out on July 1. They say the league's proposal would have them a percentage in the 40s, and Hunter said if the owners are serious about a hard cap, he'll give it to them if players get 65 per cent.

Owners are scheduled to meet Thursday in Dallas, and Stern again said there won't be any decisions to cancel training camps at that session. But that would have to come some time later this month without a deal. The opening of camps was postponed on Sept. 24 during the 1998 lockout, which reduced the season to 50 games.

The union will update players Thursday in Las Vegas, and Fisher said he will tell them that “the way it looks right now we may not start on time.” He stressed that players are still committed to the process and “not walking away from the table,” but Hunter repeated that they “have instructed us that they're prepared to sit out” rather than accept owners' current proposals.

Progress should come eventually over finances. Settling the cap issue could take longer.

“We know how to negotiate over dollars when the time comes, but they so conditioned any discussion on our acceptance of the status quo, which sees a team like the Lakers with well over $100-million in payroll and Sacramento at 45,” Stern said. “That's not an acceptable alternative for us. That can't be the outcome that we agree to.”

Steve Nash Opens TSX, Says ‘No Good News’ On NBA Lockout

Source:  www.thestar.com - Adrian Brijbassi

(Sep 13, 2011) Just because the NBA is locked out doesn’t mean Steve Nash isn’t taking shots in a competitive environment.

The two-time MVP from Victoria, B.C., rang the opening bell at the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning as part of Liquid Nutrition Group, a maker of nutritional beverages. Nash is a partner in the Quebec-based chain that serves juices, smoothies and electrolyte-rich mineral water.

While he was excited about the prospects of the company, which plans to open nine franchises across Metro Toronto, he was downbeat about the chances of a quick settlement to the NBA’s work stoppage.

“I wish I had good news for you,” he said shortly after trading commenced on the TSX.

“I sense that it’s getting toward the place where it needs to get but I don’t think we’re there. Maybe next week people will start to say, ‘Okay, let’s cut the crap and get a deal in place.’ I don’t mean to be flip about it. This is a serious negotiation.”

Talks are expected to become more intense as the deadline nears for the season opener on Nov. 1. Both the players’ union and league owners resumed discussions with full bargaining committees at the negotiating table on Tuesday. Training camps are supposed to start on Oct. 3, but it seems unlikely they will.

“The players are unified but having said that we want to get back to work as soon as we possibly can,” said Nash, who arrived in Toronto at 3 a.m. from Winnipeg, where he received a humanitarian award from a hospital charity.

“At some point we have to come together, come to a middle ground. Right now, the owners are pretty adamant they don’t want to come to the middle ground. They want us to come down. That’s the main issue.”

Asked if the players might consider starting their own league, Nash said anything would be on the table if the lockout prolonged. “I don’t think there’s talk of anything that radical,” he said about a players-run league, “but if we start getting toward losing a whole season then certain discussions are going to come into play.”

Nash didn’t play for the Canadian national team, which flamed out of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics, and that decision to opt out drew heavy criticism from the media. He hasn’t played internationally in seven years, saying he needs to conserve his energy for the NBA season, even if the odds of there being one are poor. He spent much of the summer in New York and returned to Phoenix last month when his daughter started school. To keep in shape, Nash has trained with the Vancouver Whitecaps, the MLS team he co-owns, and kept up his renowned fitness regimen. Still, he said he couldn’t walk onto the hardwood tomorrow and be in MVP-calibre form.

“I think it’s a big leap to think that because I’ve had one Whitecaps training session that I can then go out on the court and play at a high level,” he said while sipping one of Liquid Nutrition’s “functional” beverages.

President Glenn Young said it was Nash who wanted to team up with the company. “When we approached him it was for your typical endorsement and sponsorship deal, but it was Steve who said he wanted to take an equity stake in the company.”

Young has also enlisted Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and East York-born Russell Martin of the New York Yankees as stakeholders who have accepted stock in the company lieu of money.

“To this date we haven’t paid any cash to the athletes we’re partnered with,” Young said. “When we went public, our stock became currency.”

Liquid Nutrition (ticker symbol LQD) was trading at 88 cents per share on the TSX Venture exchange midway through Tuesday’s session.

Prediction here is the stores, which are popular in Montreal, will be a hit in Toronto and especially fitness-crazed Vancouver. The drinks taste fantastic and, as Nash said, they’re loaded with healthy supplements. The functional beverages, marketed as “breakfast in a cup,” contain fruits, vitamins and whole foods. There’s no sugar and the company says it’s the best way to get the necessary nutrients before and after a workout. They cost between $2.95 and $7.95; you have to try the Early Bird ($5.95), which contains almond milk, berries and oatmeal.

“When I think about what I want to eat, this is it; getting whole foods, getting it in a drink where you can take it on the go,” Nash said. “It’s great for me and I think it’s great for a lot of people in society where we’re in a rush and time is of the essence.”

Brady Throws For Team-Record 517 Yards To Lead Patriots Past Dolphins 38-24

Source:  www.thestar.com - Steven Wine

(Sep 12, 2011) MIAMI—Tom Brady sat on the bench, his sweat-soaked hair hanging in his face as he fumed about his first interception in nearly 11 months.

A little later he was back in the same seat wearing a wide grin as teammates congratulated him on a record-setting performance.

Brady shook off a rare turnover to throw for a team-record 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yarder to Wes Welker, and the New England Patriots started with a victory for the eighth consecutive season Monday night by beating the Miami Dolphins 38-24.

Defensive end Jared Odrick picked off a deflected pass to set up a Miami touchdown and end Brady’s NFL-record streak of 358 passes without an interception.

Otherwise, Brady and the reigning AFC East champions picked up where they left off last season, when he threw for 36 TDs and his team led the league in scoring.

New England totalled 622 yards, the most in franchise history and the most allowed by Miami. Brady’s performance overshadowed Miami’s Chad Henne, who threw for a career-high 416 yards.

The 906 net yards passing by both teams was an NFL record.

“They made some plays on us,” Brady said. “We made a few more than them.”

Brady, who went 32-for-48, became the 11th quarterback to throw for at least 500 yards. Norm Van Brocklin set the record of 554 yards in 1951.

“We’re pleased to have him on our side,” teammate Danny Woodhead said with a smile.

The capper came with 5:44 left and the Patriots leading 31-17. After they stopped Miami on downs at the one-foot line, Brady lined up in the shotgun on first down and threw from his end zone to Welker, who had slipped behind Benny Sapp near the 30-yard line.

“When I saw the coverage as we lined up, I knew there was a strong possibility I could be getting the ball,” Welker said. “I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity.”

He did, catching the pass in stride and sprinting untouched for the score to complete the longest play in Patriots history.

“I only threw it 25 yards. Wes did all the work,” Brady said. “When I saw him break away, that was awesome. Coach never lets us run that route in practice.”

Brady also threw touchdown passes on consecutive plays. He hit Aaron Hernandez for a 31-yard score, and when a replay review determined the receiver was down at the one-yard line, Brady threw to him again for a TD on the next play.

His other scoring passes covered 10 yards to Rob Gronkowski and two yards to Welker.

“Some of their scores ended up looking like it was kind of easy,” Miami coach Tony Sparano said.

Said Brady: “I wouldn’t say it was easy at all.”

He was sacked only once, and good protection gave his receivers plenty of time to work their way open.

Newcomer Chad Ochocino had only one catch for 14 yards. But Welker made eight receptions for 160 yards, and tight ends Hernandez and Gronkowski combined for 189 yards on 13 catches.

“It wasn’t a one-man band out there,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We had a lot of contributions.”

The Dolphins’ defence returned virtually intact from last season and was expected to be the team’s strength, but Brady riddled them from the start.

He completed his first eight passes for 127 yards on the Patriots’ first two possessions, and both ended with TDs.

Brady’s first interception since Oct. 17 came early in the third quarter, when he tried to hit Julian Edelman in the flat. Sapp deflected the ball to the 304-pound Odrick, who rumbled 40 yards to the nine. Two plays later, Henne hit Brian Hartline with a 10-yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-14.

Brady was so rattled it took him 10 plays to put the Pats ahead to stay. They drove 73 yards and scored on his two-yard pass to Welker.

Miami’s problems with Brady were nothing new. He and the Pats beat the Dolphins twice last year while outscoring them 79-21. Losing at home was nothing different for the Dolphins, either, who have dropped 10 of their past 11 home games.

There was one change for the Dolphins. They promised a more aggressive, exciting offence under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and showed it from the start, scoring on a season-opening drive for the first time since 2000.

They lined up 355-pound nose tackle Paul Soliai in their goal-line offence, did damage with quarterback keepers by Henne and gave newcomer Reggie Bush 20 touches. Brandon Marshall gained 139 yards on seven catches, but he and Miami couldn’t keep up with Brady.

“Not the defensive performance we were hoping for,” Sparano said. “That’s an understatement.”


Djokovic Slams Nadal In Open Final

Source: www.thestar.com - Howard Fendrich

(Sep 12, 2011) NEW YORK—Novak Djokovic held on to beat defending champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1 Monday night in a final filled with lengthy, mesmerizing points to win his first U.S. Open championship and third Grand Slam trophy of the year. The top-ranked Djokovic improved to 64-2 with 10 tournament titles, one of the greatest seasons in the history of men’s tennis — or any sport. And he’s perfect against Nadal in 2011 — 6-0, all in finals, including at Wimbledon in July. Djokovic also won the Australian Open in January, and is the sixth man in the Open era to collect three major titles in one year. In the third set, Djokovic served for the match at 6-5 before Nadal broke, and after the tiebreaker, Djokovic was treated for an aching back. But Djokovic ruled the fourth set.


Ask Raphael: Get Rid of Flabby Thighs

Source:  Raphael Calzadilla

Hi Raphael: I have been doing resistance training and cardio at least twice a week for a couple of years, and have since toned my body muscles and reduced my body fat. I have maintained flat abs, toned biceps & triceps, hips and calves. Although my thighs have become stronger and firmer, they still look a little flabby. I have been doing squats and lunges with weights, leg adduction & abduction and leg curls & extensions with resistance and step-ups.  Thus may I know what kind of workout I should do to further trim the excess fats in my thighs? Thank you. — ST.

It sounds like you’ve done a very good job with your workouts but it’s very difficult for me to assess your situation without knowing your height, weight and ideally your body fat percentage. It would have also been helpful to know how many calories you consume daily and how often you go off your nutrition plan (e.g. dinner out a few times a week, etc.).

Your question is related to what type of exercise you can perform to reduce fat in your thighs, but in reality when we lose body fat we lose it all over the body – not just in one spot.

I suspect that you’re still carrying a bit too much body fat.

I’m not suggesting you’re out of shape or that you don’t look good. Just that if you want your thighs to slim down, then specific isolated exercises will not necessarily be the only solution. Isolating muscles will impact muscle tissue but not in and of itself reduce body fat.

I recommend the following plan of action:

1. Without knowing what you look like or your height and weight, I recommend that you get a body composition test from a certified and experienced personal trainer. This is a calliper skin fold test to determine amount of body fat percentage and amount of lean tissue (muscle, tendon, bone etc.).

2. If your body fat is above 22 percent, then reduce calories by 200 (assuming it does not take you below 1200 calories). Getting to about 20-21 percent body fat or even the high teens will get your thighs where you want them to be. Women who are fit are generally no higher than 24 percent body fat, but I find sometimes it takes coming down just a bit below that to see impressive changes. However, some of this is based on individual genetics.

3. Increase cardio by two additional days for 35-40 minutes.

4. Change your lower body workout so that you shift the exercise order, change your repetition scheme, time between sets and foot positioning. For example, try performing a closer stance squat, walking lunges with dumbbells, high rep leg extensions (20 reps), and take a bit less time between sets etc. Simply change the pattern of your training.

This is merely an example showing how to change a workout. If you’ve been performing the same workout for over 6 weeks, then a change will make a positive impact on the lower body muscles, not necessarily the fat. However, with a tweak of your nutrition and cardio you’ll like the changes you’ll see in your thighs from the workout change.

The plan above is sure to get you the results you seek. Best of luck, ST!


Modern education pays attention to the development of the brain and the intellect, but this is not enough. We need also to be able to develop warm-heartedness in our educational systems. This we need from kindergarten all the way through university.

Source:  Dalai Lama