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LE NEWSLETTER

September 22, 2011

Another typically chilly week goes by in September and are we really only one week away from October.  And just a few days from that and before you know it, it's Canadian Thanksgiving!  This year is just slipping by!

Well there's always lots to do - check out the details and schedule for the big
manifesto1_smallManifesto Festival that ends on Sunday.  Check out all the shows listed - proudly Canadian!  Then Gregory Vitale, K'Naan, Sol Guy and Bono bring the world's attention to the famine in Somalia, ex-Eskie James Bell throws up a hail mary after surviving a spinal injury and the threat of permanent paralysis, and Interscope Records is accused of running a drug-trafficking ring.  Check it all out under TOP STORIES

 Are you a
rapper?  Well the Maple Leafs hockey team is looking for YOU!  Check it out under OPPORTUNITY!

I hope you do more than just scroll to your entertainment news, but click on the articles too - you won't get the juice of the entire stories that I've carefully chosen for you otherwise!  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!

::TOP STORIES::

The Manifesto Festival – September 19-25, 2011

Source: www.thestar.com

(Sep 19, 2011) Manifesto Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary of hip hop, breakdancing and film. Organized by Toronto's multi-faceted arts community and put together by non-profit organization Manifesto Community Projects, the 11-day festival has art exhibitions, competitions, workshops, film screenings and free outdoor concerts.

This year's festival includes the ArtReach Pitch Contest, FRESH New Artist Showcase, the 106 & York Urban Arts Festival, Wombmanifesto, Manifesto Movie Night, the Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash, a Street Dance Tribute and culminates in a free concert at Yonge-Dundas Square with
Rakim & Kid Capri, 9th Wonder & Phonte and more.

Check out the full schedule HERE.
Toronto Street Corner Billboard Ad To Bring Awareness Of Famine In Africa Closer To Home

Source: Lowell Hall, Metropolis Agencies

(September 15, 2011) TORONTO – Gregory Vitale, lead singer of band Flowerchild (www.flowerchildmusic.com) and founder of new record label Ossington Rose Records, brings awareness to the 'Horn of Africa’ famine with a two month billboard ad campaign at the corner of John and Adelaide, running from September 15th through November 30th.
 
The billboard ad came to life through the joint efforts of Vitale’s friend,
Sol Guy, manager of renowned Somali born Canadian artist and singer K’Naan, along with the creative development and management of the project being handled ‘pro bono’ by Cheil Worldwide (www.chielcanada.com) and Metropolis Agencies (www.metropolisagencies.com).
 
“I was personally deeply touched and inspired by what I saw on television over the summer from the Horn of Africa, and it was reassuring to see
K’Naan and Bono, making a shared effort to shed significant light on the worsening situation, says Vitale. The masses in Somalia have no food or medicine and hundreds of thousands may die.  I truly fear we have become numb to other people’s sufferings and I had to do something personally, to wake people up to this tragedy.”
 
The billboard ads were created in support of the relief efforts of Vitale’s friends, K’Naan, and K’Naan’s manger Sol Guy.  There are two billboards, one standing at 288 square feet and the other at 350 square feet.  The captivating prints will wrap around the very highly trafficked area and buildings in the central corner of Adelaide and John, right in downtown Toronto’s Entertainment District.
 
The photography used in the billboard ad will feature actual photos from K’Naan’s recent trip to Somalia last month (August 2011). The image chosen for the billboard was taken by accompanying world famous music industry photographer, Nabil Elderkin (www.nabilphotography.com).
 
Vitale added: “Using these very recent and authentic images, I hope to provoke thought and bring needed attention to a famine that is gravely wrong.  The billboards are a strong call to action for people to remember to give or at least, to take a moment to actually feel the urgency and desperation.  That is all I wanted to accomplish.”

“We believe in good corporate citizenship, and giving and caring for others in a time of tragedy or misfortune remains the cornerstone of our corporate culture,” says Robert Lewocz, General Manager,

James Bell - Devastated By Injury, Former Eskimo Just Wants To Be Remembered

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Allan Maki

(Sep 19, 2011) He could never play football again. That was a given. He would probably never walk again. That was next to a certainty. As James Bell lay paralyzed in his bed on the third floor of Edmonton's Aberhart rehabilitation centre, all he wished for was to be back among the moving. Chasing dreams, feeling vital.

Somehow, he made that happen. He was able to climb into a wheelchair before being able to hobble about with a cane. It was hailed a medical miracle.

But that was a long time ago, and in the 25 years since his limp body was carted off the field at B.C. Place, Bell has faded from sight. From our memories, too, and that has been just as difficult for him.

"A lot of people have probably forgotten about what happened and that's hard for me to take," he said softly. "I don't want to be forgotten."

So many players pass through the CFL in a year. One minute they're here, they play, some star, then they're gone. Multiply that over 25 years and the odds are some have fallen on hard times, too proud or unwilling to ask for help. James Bell had hoped to finish his football career in Edmonton, then forge a new life either in Canada or his native United States. He wasn't that lucky.

Although he can walk again, Bell has forever been struggling. At 50, he lives in Port Arthur, Tex., because his wife is from there. He used to work in real estate but the recession helped ruin that. In 1987, the year after he was told by doctors he'd likely be a quadriplegic for life, Bell was awarded a special Grey Cup ring by his Eskimo teammates. He sold that ring two years ago to get by. What he wants is an opportunity to make contacts and friends because these days Bell admits he can use all the friends he can get.

"What I'd like is to come back to Alberta and be able to do speaking engagements, represent the positive will and what to do when adversity sets in," he explained. "I'd like to show people there's a silver lining in this."

It happened late in a game on Sept. 19, 1986, a game already won by Edmonton. B.C. Lions slotback Jan Carinci caught a pass over the middle and was about to be hit from behind by an Eskimo defender just as Bell stepped up to make a tackle. The force of the two players slamming into the 205-pound Bell did the damage, twisting his C4 and C5 vertebrae as if they were made of Playdough. Edmonton defensive coach Don Sutherin remembers watching Bell make hits and worrying over his safety.

"James had good speed, but the one thing I noticed, he always tackled with his head," Sutherin said. "I was taught to tackle using your shoulder pads. You pull your neck into your shoulder pads to protect yourself."

Bell said he was going to tackle Carinci using his shoulder but that the speed of the two players falling forward caught him off guard. He was taken to Vancouver's Shaughnessy Hospital with no feeling below his neck. There was so much spinal swelling doctors couldn't operate. (They never did.) Weeks later, they said there was nothing more they could do and suggested Bell be transferred to Edmonton's Aberhart rehab centre.

Privately, Bell cried himself to sleep at nights thinking his life was over. Publicly, he relied on his athletic background to do all he could to get better. Within five to six months, he had regained some feeling in his limbs. Soon after, he was holding himself up on railings, taking a first step.

Edmonton rallied around Bell. A fund was established to cover his medical costs. Then all the rosiness began to fade. Bell and his Edmonton girlfriend broke up and he decided to return to Albuquerque, N.M., where he had starred in high school and university. He worked at several jobs until money became tight. In 2009, he sold the 1987 Grey Cup ring given to him by his former teammates for $5,704. It was like unloading a piece of his soul.

"Can you believe that?" he said. "I was so broke, everything of value I had to try and make money from it. It's been heartbreaking."

These days, Bell is in need of another comeback. He is quick to say he doesn't want a handout, only a chance to feel vital again. Ask him what he means by that and he paints a familiar picture.

"I'd love to go back [to Edmonton] and wave to the crowd, give the players an old-fashioned pep talk," he said. "I think I have a story to tell."

One worth remembering, he hopes.

Interscope Offices Used by Cocaine Ring, Federal Documents Say

Source:  www.billboard.com – By Phil Gallo, Los Angeles


(September 15, 2011) Federal prosecutors say that the offices of
interscope_records__logo_-150x150_small Interscope Records were used by a drug-trafficking ring as a transit point for cases filled with cocaine and cash, according to a report in the Smoking Gun published Thursday.

The allegation was included in a letter containing evidence against James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, the CEO of Czar Entertainment and manager of rapper the Game, who was indicted on 18 felony charges this week for his role in drug trafficking ring. Rosemond is being held without bail in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

A yearlong Drug Enforcement Administration investigation states that the Los Angeles offices of Interscope Records were used for pickups and deliveries of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in 2010 and 2011. Shipping company Rock-It Cargo, which has a lengthy list of musical clients, shipped music cases that allegedly contained drugs to New York studios.

A spokesperson for Universal Music, of which Interscope is a division, had not responded by Billboard's request for comment at press time.

Using 65 pages of records from Rock-It Cargo, prosecutor Todd Kaminsky said the documents were "specifically referencing pickups and deliveries at … Interscope Records" and a recording studio on Manhattan's West Side.

The Smoking Gun reported that the road manager for Game, who records for Interscope, was also implicated in Rock-It Cargo's records.

According to the indictments, road cases containing cocaine would arrive at music studios in New York City for sale by Rosemond's associates. The cash proceeds would then be loaded in the cases and shipped back to Los Angeles. They used the alias "Peter Davis" for shipping and renting studios.

After a road case was seized in early 2011, Rosemond allegedly switched to using automobiles with hidden compartments to ship drugs.

The Smoking Gun reported that Khalil Abdullah, a Rosemond associate who recently pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking and obstruction of justice charges, struck a cooperation deal with prosecutors. Late last year, Abdullah tipped DEA agents that a case containing nearly $800,000 was about to be shipped to Los Angeles from New York, which they then seized.

Billboard.biz will have more on this story as it develops.

::OPPORTUNITIES::

Send Us Your Best Rap, Leafs Fans

Source:  www.thestar.com – Lesley Ciarula Taylor


(September 16, 2011) With goalie/rapper Mark (In Da Park) Owuya on
Mark%20In%20Da%20Park%20Owuya_small the Leafs’ roster, thestar.com is asking Leafs fans to send in their best rap about the team, in written, audio or video form.
 
Email webpoll@thestar.com for written submissions, with Leafs rap in the subject line, or upload your video or audio submissions here.

If your video is on YouTube, just email the link here.

We'll publish a selection both online at thestar.com and in the Toronto Star.
 
Owuya, who appeared on Swedish Idol in 2006, also has his own website that features his music and where fans can download his latest CD, C-Leberty Da Mixtape. 

::MUSIC NEWS::

Video - Avril Lavigne 'Cried For Real' In Raw 'Wish You Were Here'

Source: www.billboard.com - by Justino Aguila, L.A.

(September 19, 2011)
Avril Lavigne is known around the globe for her musical chops and unapologetic bravado. But the Canadian songstress in recent years has expanded her resume by tapping into fashion with her own clothing lifestyle brand, a fragrance line (Wild Rose) and a foundation to help youth with disabilities and illnesses.
 
In an interview with Billboard.com, the multifaceted entertainer dished about her career, touring and how music has inspired her to branch out beyond the recording studio.
 
The superstar's fourth studio album, "Goodbye Lullaby," was released in March and continues to resonate with fans with songs such as "What The Hell" and "Smile." The most current single, "Wish You Were Here," showcases Lavigne's more vulnerable side.
 
"It's a song written about missing someone and looking back and remembering all the good times and all those awesome moments," Lavigne says. The song is "stripped down. It's kind of raw, but also emotional. I cry in the video and that was something that I did on purpose, but it was something that was real."
 
Lavigne, who made a cameo on Rihanna's music video "Cheers" earlier this year, next takes her Black Star Tour to her native country for 16 dates throughout October.
 
"I'm having the most fun I've ever had," says Lavigne about the upcoming leg of her tour. "Every night you have a different crowd. Some are more rowdy than others and you want to get their energy up and get them to have a good time."
 
When she isn't touring she spends her time supporting The Avril Lavigne Foundation through a partnership with Easter Seals to fund programs for children with disabilities. Her time is also spent creating everything from T-shirts to accessories for her clothing line Abbey Dawn which, she says, is always tied to the music she writes about.
 
"As I got older I really started appreciating fashion more because it's really a big part of what I do with my music career," Lavigne says. "I'm pretty much designing for myself and it's a rock 'n roll brand. It's another way for me to create."

2013 Juno Awards To Be Held in Regina, Saskatchewan

Source:  www.billboard.com – By Karen Bliss, Toronto


(September 15, 2011)
Canada's Juno Awards, now heading into itsneil-young-juno_small 41st year, have been moving city to city each year since 2002, and even with the next one scheduled for Ottawa, ON, on April 1, The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced the winning bidder for 2013.

Regina, Saskatchewan, with a population of less than 200,000, will play host for the first time to the biggest awards show in Canada. Preceded by a week of Juno-related events from concerts to fan-fest, April 15-21, the televised ceremony will take place at the Brandt Centre on Sunday, April 21.

In 2007, the province hosted the awards in Saskatoon.

The host city is awarded each year after municipal governments put bid committees together to lobby the CARAS board to host the awards show and companion events in their city.  Regina's successful bid was a combined effort of the Government of Saskatchewan, the City of Regina, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, the Regina Hotel Association and the City of Moose Jaw, in partnership with SaskMusic and the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission (RROC).

"Regina and Moose Jaw are excited and ready to welcome the Juno Awards back to Saskatchewan," said host committee chairman Michael MacNaughton in a press statement. "Everyone across Canada is invited to come and experience our province, our culture, and have a great time at the 2013 JUNO Awards. We hope to see you here."

Regina, known as Canada's Queen City (Latin for queen), is the capital of Saskatchewan with an urban forest of more than 350,000 hand-planted trees, home of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and football team Roughriders. In 2004, Heritage Canada designated Regina as the country's cultural capital, based on its century-year-old symphony orchestra, festivals, museums, galleries and science centers.

Sponsors of the 2013 JUNO Awards include FACTOR, Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters and The Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage's "Canada Music Fund," Radio Starmaker Fund, the Government of Saskatchewan, the City of Regina, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, the Regina Hotel Association and the City of Moose Jaw.

To date, the Juno Awards have been held in St. John's (2002), Ottawa (2003), Edmonton (2004), Winnipeg (2005), Halifax (2006), Saskatoon (2007), Calgary (2008), Vancouver (2009), St. John's (2010) and Toronto (2011). The 2012 Juno Awards and Juno Week will be held in Ottawa March 26 - April 1.

The Economy of Mixtapes: How Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T. Figured It Out

Source:  www.billboard.com – by Steven J. Horowitz
  

(September 16, 2011) On Feb. 13, 2009, the mixtape paradigm shifted.
 
Aligned with Lil Wayne, the then-unsigned
Drake, who'd spent the few years before releasing buzzy mixtapes (rapping over hits), unleashed his almost entirely original mixtape "So Far Gone." He did so on his website, October's Very Own, which quickly went into bandwidth overdrive. Reportedly, to date, there have been millions of downloads.
 
Drake -- whose platinum debut, "Thank Me Later" (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic), bowed atop the Billboard 200 the following year (July 3, 2010) -- had redefined the mixtape model for the digital era. (He released three free songs through October's Very Own as recently as last week, with second album "Take Care" due Oct. 24.) Far from its adolescent iteration, the mixtape-a compilation of music generally distributed outside of label purview-had evolved from a mere display of DJ skills to a promotional tool packed with exclusive freestyles to an actual album-before-the-album, one that could spawn chart-topping singles like "Best I Ever Had," without labels at the helm.
 
Drake Releases Two New Songs & Remixes Waka Flocka Flame: Listen
 
In hip-hop today, free, original mixtapes have become standard. They're offered on websites like DatPiff.com and LiveMixtapes.com, which have erased CD-peddling bootleggers from city street corners. DJs -- like Doo Wop and DJ Clue -- who once shouted over tracks on popular tapes like '95 Live and Springtime Stickup, have been almost entirely weeded from the equation. And where MCs once hijacked beats from others to serve as the sonic quilt for their release, mixtapes have become a creative survival of the fittest. Rappers who dropped freestyle mixtapes can no longer show-and-prove through lyrics alone-original beat selection, artwork and overall artistry determine worthiness.
 
The original mixtape approach has also crossed genre lines. Artists in the R&B realm have likewise adopted the format, most recently The Weeknd and The-Dream with "Thursday" and "1977," presented as a "free album." Pop singers have even dabbled in mixtape releases. JoJo, whose label disputes have been made public over the past few years, dropped her debut mixtape "Can't Take That Away From Me" in September 2010, while dance diva La Roux teamed with Major Lazer for May 2010's "Lazerproof," a collection of artist-approved original remixes.
 
The-Dream Talks '1977,' Public Heartbreak and His Def Jam Future
 
"The game favours people that can produce quality music and then turn right around and produce more quality music-which is not a given," Atlantic Records VP of A&R Zvi Edelman says. His signee, Wiz Khalifa, leveraged free, original mixtapes like 2010's "Kush & OJ" and 2011's "Cabin Fever" into the building of a dedicated fan base that helped, along with an intensive touring strategy, make his Atlantic/Rostrum Records debut, "Rolling Papers," one of the few hip-hop debuts to sell more than 500,000 copies (it's now at 570,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan) in 2011.
 
A batch of newcomers -- such as J. Cole, Big Sean, Dom Kennedy, Mac Miller and Smoke DZA -- has adapted to the consumer demand for free, original rap music. The philosophy is often described this way: As a reward for artists remaining loyal to them (by giving away original music), fans return the favour by buying concert tickets, merchandise and "real" albums from record labels. The result is a give-and-take relationship that keeps rappers in control of their brand and marketing, and iTunes playlists full of free albums disguised as "mixtapes." The payoff is an active fan base, which labels and management hope stimulates retail purchases.
 
"Active consumers will support [you] and go out and buy your album, buy your concert tickets and your merch. The passive consumer will download it for free, talk about it and that's it," says Al Branch, GM of Hip-Hop Since 1978, which manages Drake, Nicki Minaj and others. "The active consumer is very reactionary, and you can get that consumer to respond quite quickly."
 
What exactly distinguishes an album from a mixtape? "These days, mixtapes are really albums," Rostrum Records founder/president Benjy Grinberg says. "The difference, is that you don't make any direct money off of it. But the benefits of building the reputation of the artists are pretty amazing."
 
From many artists' standpoint, the freedom of creating an original mixtape is limitless. Big K.R.I.T., who was scheduled to release studio debut "Live From the Underground" (Def Jam) on Sept. 27 (it's now due early 2012), built his career with free mixtapes including "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here" (2010), "Return of 4eva" and "Last King 2 (God's Machine)," the latter two released this year. All of the self-produced tapes employ samples and audioclips from films-two major hoops to jump through, as far as clearances, with a retail release.
 
"When you're talking about an album, some samples you can't clear. And it causes you to get more creative," the Meridian, Miss.-born K.R.I.T. (real name: Justin Scott) says, noting also the pleasures of working within the system "Drawing deep in myself and coming up with content and subject matter-and as far as writing lyrics, really taking out more time to piece together a story, making hooks more melodic. It's a growing experience."
 
Video: Big K.R.I.T. on 'Return of 4eva' and Dream Collaborators
 
Some established acts lean on mixtapes as marketing tools for pending retail albums. Lil Wayne is an example. He dropped freebie "Sorry 4 the Wait" through WeezyThanxYou.com six weeks before "Tha Carter IV" as an apology for the latter's delay. Wale, whose second set "Ambition" (Maybach Music Group/Warner Music Group) is scheduled for release Nov. 1, offered his most recent mixtape, "11-1-11," through Hulkshare.com, a file-sharing site that immediately buckled under the weight of posting the link to his million-plus Twitter followers. The tactic of crashing servers by releasing tapes on low-capacity sites-a growing trend among artists like J. Cole and the Weeknd-appears to only ramp up demand.
 
"It's like a never-ending commercial," Wale says. He estimates that 1.2 million people downloaded 11-1-11 in the first three days-a feat flaunted in label press releases, and retweeted all over. But he's realistic about the residual effects. "I'm definitely not going to get 1.2 million album sales in the first week. That's just the reality of it," he says. "I just hope that the majority of the people who love the mixtape go out and support 'Ambition.'"
 
Even on smaller scales, the model can shine. New Orleans' Curren$y released his third studio album, "Pilot Talk" (Roc-a-Fella/DD172/Def Jam) in 2010, avoiding the sample clearance issues of his mixtapes by employing live instrumentation and production from Ski Beatz. The now Warner Bros. Records signee utilized online mediums like Ustream and Twitter to build a relationship with fans and deliver free mixtapes such as 2008's "Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly" and 2009's "How High with Wiz Khalifa," helping the non-mixtape "Pilot Talk" sell 52,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
 
McKenzie Eddy, a singer/songwriter and president of BluRoc Records who handled A&R for Curren$y's album and its sequel ("Pilot Talk II"), says, "Free records and selling records-it's all about having something to drive the building of your brand. Giving away albums is equally as important as selling them."
 
Some major labels have begun to embrace the format by repackaging the giveaways as retail EPs. Universal and Young Money/Cash Money pared down "So Far Gone" to a seven-track EP with two new cuts. It was released in September 2009 and has sold 608,000 units, according to SoundScan. Last year, Def Jam monetized its first mixtape with Fabolous' "There Is No Competition 2: The Grieving Music EP," an adaptation of its free companion.
 
Def Jam senior VP of A&R Sha Money XL, says that major labels' adjusted attitude toward mixtapes isn't only rooted in compensatory motives, but also in the emphasizing of talent-to build careers with longevity. "We're doing this because rappers want their artistic abilities to be displayed," he says. As president of G-Unit Records, Sha helped 50 Cent craft his career through steal-your-hit-style mixtapes in the early '00s. And Sha signed Big K.R.I.T. to Def Jam. "You can rap over someone else's beats, but it's not as impactful as giving them a song you created."
 
The mixtape revolution began as a presentation of turntable skills by such DJs as Lovebug Starski, DJ Hollywood, Brucie B and Kid Capri. By the mid-'90s, it became the battle of the strongest Rolodex, with turntablists like DJ Clue and Funkmaster Flex netting exclusives for their own street and retail releases.
 
But around the turn of the millennium, artists had begun to assimilate the mixtape model. Instead of offering new tracks and freestyles for DJ-administered mixtapes, prolific groups like G-Unit and Dipset strategized on how they could use the model as a full-length promotional vehicle for studio albums. DJs were elbowed into secondary roles, and became known more for facilitating underground distribution to bootleggers and corner stores.
 
Flex, a DJ at WQHT (Hot 97) New York and host of MTV's Funk Flex Full Throttle who released four gold-certified retail mixtapes between 1995 and 2000, put his career as a mixtape DJ on ice when he noticed the shift. "The artist started to want better control," says Flex, who has refocused his non-Hot 97 energies on his InFlexWeTrust.com. "Some DJs were only as big as the exclusives they got."
 
Mixtape culture reached critical mass in January 2007 when DJ Drama, one of the few DJs to persevere with his Gangsta Grillz brand, was arrested along with DJ Don Cannon and 17 others in a police raid on their Aphilliates Music Group headquarters in Atlanta-a part of the RIAA's quest to put an end to mixtape profiteering. "A lot of us, including myself, had to find other avenues," DJ Drama says. "After that raid, it got a little scary and nerve-racking." He has since abandoned mixtapes as a revenue stream, instead releasing them for free in a tastemaker role.
 
Indeed, for artists who have constructed careers on a mixtape foundation, signing with a major may not always be the end-goal. Acts like Odd Future and Tech N9ne have sidestepped major labels, releasing albums on their own imprints and distributing through companies like RED or Fontana. "You don't have to put out a commercial album to build your fan base," Grinberg says. "You could have an artist who's on a major and an artist who doesn't have a label or a manager-they can both get a mixtape out there and compete. It really levels the playing field."

Johnny Reid Soars Way Higher

Source:  www.thestar.com – Michael Crabb

(Sep 14, 2011) Johnny Reid set the stage for an outstanding night of performances by Canadian country artists with his opening number, “Let’s Go Higher” at the star-studded 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton.

His most recent album, A Place Called Love landed the title of Top Selling Canadian Album of the Year at the gala awards and Reid also picked up three 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards for CMT Video of the Year (Today I’m Gonna Try And Change The World), Male Artist of the Year and the coveted Fans’ Choice Award.

Dean Brody took home two 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards, Single of the Year for “Trial of Life” and Album of the Year for Trial of Life as well.

Terri Clark went home with Female Artist of the Year and trio Hey Romeo took Group or Duo of the Year. Last year’s New Artist Showcase winner Chad Brownlee won his first Canadian Country Music Award for Rising Star.

Presenters included Deric Ruttan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Ronnie Dunn, Ron James, Howie Dorough and Michelle Wright as well as a rare duet with Doc Walker and Luke Bryan, collaborating on a performance of their songs that share the same name, “Country Girl”.

Wires and staff

Several of Canada’s most seasoned choreographers are joining forces to offer a program of chamber dance — mostly solos and duets — to remind audiences that the values of modern dance they’ve always espoused as artists still have relevance.

Patricia Beatty, co-founder in 2002 of Toronto Heritage Dance, producer of this week’s show, believes the Toronto dance scene’s preoccupation with new work is short-sighted. The ballet world, in contrast, typically offers a full spectrum of historic and contemporary repertoire.

“It’s adolescent to reject the past,” says Beatty. “You can’t throw it out. It’s part of a thread.”

She contends that “classic” modern dance — the kind Beatty studied more than 50 years ago in New York — with its emphasis on form and, most importantly, human values still has lessons to teach today’s young choreographers.

Beatty, Danny Grossman, Lawrence Gradus and Terrill Maguire contribute new or recent works to the program. Revivals include the “Miserere” section from David Earle’s 1980 work, Exit, Nightfall, and Peter Randazzo’s lyrical “Pavane” duet from 1977’s A Simple Melody. Beatty, Earle and Randazzo co-founded Toronto Dance Theatre in the late 1960s but Beatty insists with its emphasis on new work the show is not “an evening of nostalgia.” But as Earle points out, “To know what is new, you have to know what has been.”

(Sept. 15 – 18; Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St., Toronto; info@danceworks.ca or 416-204-1082.)

Adele's '21' on Track to Be 2011's Best-Selling Album -- Can Anything Top It?

Source:  www.billboard.com – By Keith Caulfield (@keith_caulfield), Los Angeles


(September 15, 2011) With 3.4 million sold since its debut in February
adele_small_small according to Nielsen SoundScan, Adele's XL/Columbia album "21" is the fastest-selling release of any year since 2005. The last set to sell at a quicker clip was 50 Cent's "The Massacre," which had sold 4.5 million through the week ending Sept. 11, 2005.

Plus, "21" is by far 2011's biggest-selling album and seems a lock to take home the honour once the year ends.

Adele's '21' Scores 12th Week at No. 1 on Billboard 200 -- Most Since 2000

Currently, 2011's year-to-date top five selling albums in the U.S. are "21," Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" (1.77 million), Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" (1.18 million), Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More" (1.16 million) and Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party" (1.13 million).

Columbia expects "21" to sell a cumulative 4.5 million by Dec. 31, with its sales climbing to between 5 million and 6 million by next March. The latter figure will include the sales bump the album will likely gain from next year's Grammy Awards (Feb. 12) -- where Adele seems poised to take home at least a few trophies.

Adele Makes U.K. Chart History: First Artist To Sell 3 Million Albums In Same Year

Statistically speaking, it's almost impossible for any upcoming album release to pose a threat to "21's" likely year-end dominance.

How Adele's 'Someone Like You' Became First Ballad in More Than Three Years to Top Billboard Hot 100

Since 2000, the only time a year's top seller was released in its last five months was in 2007: Josh Groban's "Noel" sold 3.7 million units in three months' time. The Christmas collection was released Oct. 1 and surpassed the "High School Musical 2" soundtrack (3 million) as 2007's top seller.

Diving deeper, it's rare for a late-in-the-year title to surpass 3 million copies. There simply isn't enough time to rack up those kinds of sales.

There have been only 11 albums since 2000 that were released after Aug. 1 that sold 3 million by year's end. And since 2005, it has happened only twice: "Noel" with its 3.7 million and Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" with 3.1 million (2009) following its Nov. 24 street date.

However, that's not to say "21" will absolutely, positively end up as the year's biggest-selling album. There could always be a left-field hit (Boyle, anyone?) that takes everyone by surprise. Or perhaps, far worse, a tragedy that sparks a massive sales surge for a beloved act. Finally, we may see "Noel"-sized sales from Michael Buble's holiday set, "Christmas," due out Oct. 24.

Every year since "Noel," we've been looking for, well, the next "Noel." There have been Christmas contenders from Enya, Sting, Chris Botti and Boyle, but Buble certainly seems a sure bet for blockbuster sales. His last studio set, 2009's "Crazy Love," has sold 2.1 million, while his holiday EP "Let It Snow" has moved a handsome 1 million since its bow in 2003. Collectively, the pop singer's catalogue of albums have shifted 12.9 million since his first release dropped in early 2003.

Is Colin Stetson's Music Canadian Enough For The Polaris?

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

(September 16, 2011) The deciding round of this year's $30,000 Polaris Music Prize is at hand, and as usual the jurors are pledged to base their deliberations "solely on artistic merit." A few other non-artistic filters have already been applied: Each album must have been released during a certain period, and its makers must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Stetson, who wrote and recorded one of the 10 nominated albums, was born in Michigan and moved to Montreal four years ago. His New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is a tour de force of solo instrumental pieces for bass saxophone. It deserves some kind of prize, but the Polaris? Maybe not.

The album came out in February. Stetson, a permanent resident, told a Globe interviewer he was "still writing" the songs in 2009, suggesting the process had begun even earlier. At best, he may have lived in Canada for not much more than a year when he started on the music that now stands to be feted as the best Canadian album of the year.

That doesn't seem to me like time enough for anything about Canada to have permeated Stetson's artistic practice. I'm glad he made the record, it's nice that he did it here, but there must be more to being a Canadian musician than having a piece of paper from Ottawa.

I raised this issue with some of my colleagues on the big Polaris jury - the 200-odd critics, broadcasters and bloggers who vote for the long and short lists. A few of them thought it was a worthwhile question, but many said that Stetson was clearly eligible, and we're all ultimately immigrants anyway, so why discuss it?

I think that would be a common reaction in Canada these days. Somehow we've all tacitly agreed that Canadian-ness, as a cultural quality, is too vexing and exclusionary to define when the ethnic diversity of the country is increasing every day.

Compare that to the prevailing attitude when Margaret Atwood published her landmark CanLit study, Survival, which is coming up for its 40th anniversary next year. For Atwood, defining Canadian-ness was the central question of our cultural criticism. She wasn't alone in thinking so, and her best-selling book became a flashpoint in a somewhat obsessional debate about Canadian identity.

Survival told us we had a national literature full of pervasive themes and shared outlooks, most of them pretty grim. The book assumed a population that was either assimilated to this country and its ways, or struggling to become so. For Atwood, Canadian culture wasn't just a pale copy of imported models - the pervasive worry of that time - but a distinctive endeavour that we sweated out in this place and no other.

The music community and its prize-giving organs have often paid tribute to this home-front view, by snubbing eminent Canadians who don't stick around. Neil Young didn't win a single Juno Award till 1994. Joni Mitchell got one in 1976, and then nothing for another 25 years. The Juno jurors just couldn't bring themselves to hand the trophies out to permanent residents of California. The Polaris juries haven't yet put a Young album on the short list.

Conversely, I asked some of my fellow jurors if they'd vote for a disc by Elvis Costello, who married a Canadian, lives in Vancouver and could have become a permanent resident (but hasn't). The consensus seemed to be that Costello's already too famous as a foreign musician to become one of ours, even if he did the paperwork.

But in other ways, our ideas of what Canadian music is and who makes it could hardly be more elastic. It's hard to imagine anyone trying to define a "Canadian sound," as some critics did in the sixties and seventies. In this postmodern, multicultural Canada, there's little place for a cultural discussion that grants some things a natural place in the centre and confines others to the margins. And so we take refuge in the deputy-ministerial point of view: If your papers are in order, then whatever you're doing must be Canadian.

Stetson's Polaris nomination is a logical but unfortunate outcome. A very good album is being celebrated in the wrong forum. I can't point to a passage on the record and say, "Hear that? That's not Canadian music" (though I have to wonder about the title of the first track: Awake on Foreign Shores). I will say that having your work recognized as the best Canadian album of the year ought to mean something, and that the meaning of a Stetson victory would be ambiguous, to say the least.

The Polaris nominees: A handicapper's guide

Call it the Run for the Noses. Polaris Prize jurists, the tastemakers who traditionally turn their snouts up at mainstream music, gather on Sept. 19 at Toronto's Masonic Temple to select this year's winner of the annual Canadian music award, worth $30,000 to the first-place finisher. We offer a betting guide to the eclectic short list of contenders, just one major-label nominee (Ron Sexsmith) among the field.

The Suburbs, by Arcade Fire (3-2): You'd think the conceptual rock album that nabbed a Grammy would be too big to fail, but Polaris traditionally shuns the overdog. So, no sure thing.

Feel It Break, by Austra (5-2): Led by a sexy lesbian former opera singer in Katie Stelmanis, the Toronto electro-popsters are weird enough to win.

Kaputt, by Destroyer (7-2): The Al Stewart-loving effort from the Vancouver oddball Dan Bejar likely will have both haters and championing ironists in the jury room. Remember who won in 2009? Polarizing discs are valid contenders.

Native Speaker, by Braids (9-2): Dreamy indie music from Calgary. Likely no one's absolute favourite album, but it'll score high across the board and possibly squeak away with the prize while no one's looking.

New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, by Colin Stetson (5-1): While there are those who think the man's avant-garde bass-saxophone music is out of this world, some argue the Montreal-based reed-man is doing nothing groundbreaking. A wild card.

House of Balloons, by the Weeknd (7-1): An Ethiopian-Canadian who gives his music away for free? The intriguing Toronto R&B artist will have support, but will likely fall just short of finishing in the money.

Long Player Late Bloomer, by Ron Sexsmith (8-1): Everybody loves the underdog, but sentimentality doesn't get you cross the finish line first. Also, a singer-songwriter has never won in Polaris's five years of existence.

Tigre et Diesel, by Galaxie (10-1): Garage-dance magnifique. Nice energy to the disc, and the Montrealers will dazzle on stage at the gala, but just can't see it happening for them in the voting.

Seeds, by Hey Rosetta! (15-1): A step up from Into Your Lungs (short-listed in 2009), but the St. John's six-piece has a breathless earnestness about them that just won't fly with the jury.

Creep On Creepin' On, by Timber Timbre (22-1): Graveyard indie-rock hasn't a ghost of a chance.

The sixth annual Polaris gala, on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m., will be broadcast live in Canada by SiriusXM Canada on Sirius channel 152 and internationally on CBC Radio 3. It will be webcast live on MuchMusic.com.

- Brad Wheeler

Adele's '21' on Track to Be 2011's Best-Selling Album -- Can Anything Top It?

Source:  www.billboard.com – By Keith Caulfield (@keith_caulfield), Los Angeles


(September 15, 2011) With 3.4 million sold since its debut in February
according to Nielsen SoundScan, Adele's XL/Columbia album "21" is the fastest-selling release of any year since 2005. The last set to sell at a quicker clip was 50 Cent's "The Massacre," which had sold 4.5 million through the week ending Sept. 11, 2005.

Plus, "21" is by far 2011's biggest-selling album and seems a lock to take home the honour once the year ends.

Adele's '21' Scores 12th Week at No. 1 on Billboard 200 -- Most Since 2000

Currently, 2011's year-to-date top five selling albums in the U.S. are "21," Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" (1.77 million), Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" (1.18 million), Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More" (1.16 million) and Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party" (1.13 million).

Columbia expects "21" to sell a cumulative 4.5 million by Dec. 31, with its sales climbing to between 5 million and 6 million by next March. The latter figure will include the sales bump the album will likely gain from next year's Grammy Awards (Feb. 12) -- where Adele seems poised to take home at least a few trophies.

Adele Makes U.K. Chart History: First Artist To Sell 3 Million Albums In Same Year

Statistically speaking, it's almost impossible for any upcoming album release to pose a threat to "21's" likely year-end dominance.

How Adele's 'Someone Like You' Became First Ballad in More Than Three Years to Top Billboard Hot 100

Since 2000, the only time a year's top seller was released in its last five months was in 2007: Josh Groban's "Noel" sold 3.7 million units in three months' time. The Christmas collection was released Oct. 1 and surpassed the "High School Musical 2" soundtrack (3 million) as 2007's top seller.

Diving deeper, it's rare for a late-in-the-year title to surpass 3 million copies. There simply isn't enough time to rack up those kinds of sales.

There have been only 11 albums since 2000 that were released after Aug. 1 that sold 3 million by year's end. And since 2005, it has happened only twice: "Noel" with its 3.7 million and Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" with 3.1 million (2009) following its Nov. 24 street date.

However, that's not to say "21" will absolutely, positively end up as the year's biggest-selling album. There could always be a left-field hit (Boyle, anyone?) that takes everyone by surprise. Or perhaps, far worse, a tragedy that sparks a massive sales surge for a beloved act. Finally, we may see "Noel"-sized sales from Michael Buble's holiday set, "Christmas," due out Oct. 24.

Every year since "Noel," we've been looking for, well, the next "Noel." There have been Christmas contenders from Enya, Sting, Chris Botti and Boyle, but Buble certainly seems a sure bet for blockbuster sales. His last studio set, 2009's "Crazy Love," has sold 2.1 million, while his holiday EP "Let It Snow" has moved a handsome 1 million since its bow in 2003. Collectively, the pop singer's catalogue of albums have shifted 12.9 million since his first release dropped in early 2003.

Is Colin Stetson's Music Canadian Enough For The Polaris?

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

(September 16, 2011) The deciding round of this year's $30,000Colin%20Stetson1_small Polaris Music Prize is at hand, and as usual the jurors are pledged to base their deliberations "solely on artistic merit." A few other non-artistic filters have already been applied: Each album must have been released during a certain period, and its makers must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Stetson, who wrote and recorded one of the 10 nominated albums, was born in Michigan and moved to Montreal four years ago. His New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is a tour de force of solo instrumental pieces for bass saxophone. It deserves some kind of prize, but the Polaris? Maybe not.

The album came out in February. Stetson, a permanent resident, told a Globe interviewer he was "still writing" the songs in 2009, suggesting the process had begun even earlier. At best, he may have lived in Canada for not much more than a year when he started on the music that now stands to be feted as the best Canadian album of the year.

That doesn't seem to me like time enough for anything about Canada to have permeated Stetson's artistic practice. I'm glad he made the record, it's nice that he did it here, but there must be more to being a Canadian musician than having a piece of paper from Ottawa.

I raised this issue with some of my colleagues on the big Polaris jury - the 200-odd critics, broadcasters and bloggers who vote for the long and short lists. A few of them thought it was a worthwhile question, but many said that Stetson was clearly eligible, and we're all ultimately immigrants anyway, so why discuss it?

I think that would be a common reaction in Canada these days. Somehow we've all tacitly agreed that Canadian-ness, as a cultural quality, is too vexing and exclusionary to define when the ethnic diversity of the country is increasing every day.

Compare that to the prevailing attitude when Margaret Atwood published her landmark CanLit study, Survival, which is coming up for its 40th anniversary next year. For Atwood, defining Canadian-ness was the central question of our cultural criticism. She wasn't alone in thinking so, and her best-selling book became a flashpoint in a somewhat obsessional debate about Canadian identity.

Survival told us we had a national literature full of pervasive themes and shared outlooks, most of them pretty grim. The book assumed a population that was either assimilated to this country and its ways, or struggling to become so. For Atwood, Canadian culture wasn't just a pale copy of imported models - the pervasive worry of that time - but a distinctive endeavour that we sweated out in this place and no other.

The music community and its prize-giving organs have often paid tribute to this home-front view, by snubbing eminent Canadians who don't stick around. Neil Young didn't win a single Juno Award till 1994. Joni Mitchell got one in 1976, and then nothing for another 25 years. The Juno jurors just couldn't bring themselves to hand the trophies out to permanent residents of California. The Polaris juries haven't yet put a Young album on the short list.

Conversely, I asked some of my fellow jurors if they'd vote for a disc by Elvis Costello, who married a Canadian, lives in Vancouver and could have become a permanent resident (but hasn't). The consensus seemed to be that Costello's already too famous as a foreign musician to become one of ours, even if he did the paperwork.

But in other ways, our ideas of what Canadian music is and who makes it could hardly be more elastic. It's hard to imagine anyone trying to define a "Canadian sound," as some critics did in the sixties and seventies. In this postmodern, multicultural Canada, there's little place for a cultural discussion that grants some things a natural place in the centre and confines others to the margins. And so we take refuge in the deputy-ministerial point of view: If your papers are in order, then whatever you're doing must be Canadian.

Stetson's Polaris nomination is a logical but unfortunate outcome. A very good album is being celebrated in the wrong forum. I can't point to a passage on the record and say, "Hear that? That's not Canadian music" (though I have to wonder about the title of the first track: Awake on Foreign Shores). I will say that having your work recognized as the best Canadian album of the year ought to mean something, and that the meaning of a Stetson victory would be ambiguous, to say the least.

The Polaris nominees: A handicapper's guide

Call it the Run for the Noses. Polaris Prize jurists, the tastemakers who traditionally turn their snouts up at mainstream music, gather on Sept. 19 at Toronto's Masonic Temple to select this year's winner of the annual Canadian music award, worth $30,000 to the first-place finisher. We offer a betting guide to the eclectic short list of contenders, just one major-label nominee (Ron Sexsmith) among the field.

The Suburbs, by Arcade Fire (3-2): You'd think the conceptual rock album that nabbed a Grammy would be too big to fail, but Polaris traditionally shuns the overdog. So, no sure thing.

Feel It Break, by Austra (5-2): Led by a sexy lesbian former opera singer in Katie Stelmanis, the Toronto electro-popsters are weird enough to win.

Kaputt, by Destroyer (7-2): The Al Stewart-loving effort from the Vancouver oddball Dan Bejar likely will have both haters and championing ironists in the jury room. Remember who won in 2009? Polarizing discs are valid contenders.

Native Speaker, by Braids (9-2): Dreamy indie music from Calgary. Likely no one's absolute favourite album, but it'll score high across the board and possibly squeak away with the prize while no one's looking.

New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, by Colin Stetson (5-1): While there are those who think the man's avant-garde bass-saxophone music is out of this world, some argue the Montreal-based reed-man is doing nothing groundbreaking. A wild card.

House of Balloons, by the Weeknd (7-1): An Ethiopian-Canadian who gives his music away for free? The intriguing Toronto R&B artist will have support, but will likely fall just short of finishing in the money.

Long Player Late Bloomer, by Ron Sexsmith (8-1): Everybody loves the underdog, but sentimentality doesn't get you cross the finish line first. Also, a singer-songwriter has never won in Polaris's five years of existence.

Tigre et Diesel, by Galaxie (10-1): Garage-dance magnifique. Nice energy to the disc, and the Montrealers will dazzle on stage at the gala, but just can't see it happening for them in the voting.

Seeds, by Hey Rosetta! (15-1): A step up from Into Your Lungs (short-listed in 2009), but the St. John's six-piece has a breathless earnestness about them that just won't fly with the jury.

Creep On Creepin' On, by Timber Timbre (22-1): Graveyard indie-rock hasn't a ghost of a chance.

The sixth annual Polaris gala, on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m., will be broadcast live in Canada by SiriusXM Canada on Sirius channel 152 and internationally on CBC Radio 3. It will be webcast live on MuchMusic.com.

- Brad Wheeler

Exclusive: Backstage With J. Cole

Source:  www.billboard.com
– by Erika Ramirez, N.Y.  

(September 16, 2011) 'Till Sept. 20,
J. Cole is dropping footage toJ-Cole-Press-617x409_small count down to the release of his debut album, "Cole World: The Sideline Story" (Sept. 27). In the exclusive clip shared with Billboard.com's The Juice, J. Cole takes us backstage at this summer's second annual OVO Festival, held July 31.
 
"This is the most amount of people he got at one time screaming from the top of their lungs for Cole… It was just a moment," J. Cole's close friend Ibrahim Hamad said.
 
Four-Play: J. Cole, Frank Ocean, Monica and Lloyd
 
The sold out crowd cheered when The Roc Nation artist joined Drake to perform their collaborative track, "In the Morning." Nas, Stevie Wonder, Lil Wayne, The Weeknd and Rick Ross also joined Drake on stage that night. 

Kelly Clarkson's 'Know It All' Debuts on Hot 100, Rihanna's 'Cheers' Rises

Source:  www.billboard.com – by Gary Trust, N.Y.

(September 14, 2011) As Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger," featuring
kelly-clarkson-single-art-617-409_small Christina Aguilera, rebounds to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, Kelly Clarkson's "Mr. Know It All" launches on the chart as the list's highest debut at No. 18. Rihanna, meanwhile, banks another Hot 100 top 10, "Cheers (Drink to That)," from her album "Loud."
 
Clarkson previews her fifth studio album, "Stronger," due Oct. 25, by notching the second-highest debut among her 17 Hot 100 chart entries. She began at a higher rank only with "Never Again," which arrived (and peaked) at No. 8 the week of May 12, 2007.
 
Kelly Clarkson's 'Mr. Know It All' Single: What Do You Think?
 
"Know" enters Digital Songs at No. 9 with 107,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The track is likewise the top new entry on Radio Songs, where it starts at No. 65 with 17 million in all-format audience (up 79%), according to Nielsen BDS. The song rises 30-20 as the Greatest Gainer on the Adult Pop Songs radio airplay chart and launches at No. 29 on Pop Songs.
 
Clarkson premiered "Know" Aug. 31 via webcast on her official website ahead of its Sept. 5 release to retail.
 
As the original "American Idol" queen charges onto the Hot 100, the chart's top song is again by two of the coaches - Adam Levine and Aguilera - of rival music reality competition program "The Voice."
 
After dropping to No. 2 last week, "Jagger" returns for a second frame atop the Hot 100, similarly rebounding (3-1) for a second week at No. 1 on Digital Songs (220,000, up 6%). The song claims Airplay Gainer honours on the Hot 100 courtesy of its 8-5 push on Radio Songs (104 million, up 20%).
 
Adam Levine Calls 'Moves Like Jagger' a 'Risk' for Maroon 5: Video Interview
 
Last week's Hot 100 No. 1, Adele's "Someone Like You," retreats 1-2 after soaring to the summit from No. 19 a week ago, a coronation fuelled by reaction to her performance of the song on the MTV Video Music Awards Aug. 28. The piano-and-vocal-only ballad - the first such No. 1 in the Hot 100's 53-year history - slides 1-2 on Digital Songs (213,000, down 22%). "Someone" climbs 19-13, however, on Radio Songs (61 million, up 33%). The song is the Greatest Gainer on Pop Songs (19-16) and Adult Contemporary (16-14), while pushing 5-4 on Triple A, 10-6 on Adult Pop Songs and 35-28 on Rock Songs.

 
Adele Makes Billboard Hot 100 History With 'Someone Like You'
 
Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" holds at No. 3 on the Hot 100 for a third week. The track drops 2-3 on Digital Songs (193,000, down 11%), while bulleting at No. 10 on Radio Songs (79 million, up 13%).
 
LMFAO's former No. 1 "Party Rock Anthem," featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock (4-4) and Bad Meets Evil's "Lighters," featuring Bruno Mars (7-5), close out the Hot 100's top five.
 
As Maroon 5 revisits the Hot 100's apex, the group's lead singer Levine returns to the top 10 (12-6, after rising to No. 10 two weeks ago) as a guest on Gym Class Heroes' "Stereo Hearts." The song advances 9-5 on Digital Songs (145,000, up 4%) and 18-16 on Radio Songs (56 million, up 15%).
 
Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" descends 5-7 on the Hot 100 and Lady Gaga's "You and I" falls 6-8. The latter title had, like Adele's "Someone," benefited last week from a buzzworthy performance on the VMAs. "You and I" drops 4-6 on Digital Songs (141,000, down 19%), while edging 23-21 on Radio Songs (48 million, up 18%).
 

Lady Gaga, Bono Playing Hollywood Bowl to Honour Bill Clinton Foundation
 
Lil Wayne's former No. 5-peaking "How to Love" rebounds 14-9 with Digital Gainer accolades, surging 20-10 on Digital Songs (90,000, up 33%). Parent album "Tha Carter IV" spends a second week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
 
Rihanna rounds out the Hot 100's top tier by scoring a fourth top 10 from her fifth studio album "Loud," as "Cheers (Drink to That)" ascends 11-10. The song reaches the top bracket by gaining 10% in airplay to 58 million, despite its 11% digital sales decline to 126,000. Rihanna's 19th Hot 100 top 10 follows three leaders from "Loud": "Only Girl (In the World)"; "What's My Name?," featuring Drake; and, "S&M." Two other cuts from the set have also graced the chart: "California King Bed" (No. 37 peak) and "Man Down" (No. 59).
 
Below Clarkson's arrival, six other new titles debut on the Hot 100, including one from a fellow "American Idol" champion, plus yet another Fox TV star.
 
Lady Antebellum charts a fourth Hot 100 title from its third studio album, "Own the Night" - expected to charge onto next week's Billboard 200 - as "Wanted You More" starts at No. 34 (74,000 downloads). Predecessor preview track "Dancin' Away With My Heart" debuted last week at No. 50 (57,000). The set's first proper radio single, "Just a Kiss," peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100 (this week ranking at No. 30), while current country focus track "We Owned the Night" climbs 96-80.
 
Lady Antebellum Talk Album's Huge Expectations, 'SNL' and Tour
 
Hugh Laurie, aka, Dr. Gregory House of Fox's "House, M.D.," earns his first Hot 100 hit, as "Police Dog Blues" enters at No. 58 (46,000 downloads). Parent album "Let Them Talk" bows on the Billboard 200 at No. 16 and Blues Albums at No. 1 with 20,000 copies sold.
 
In more Fox news, Scotty McCreery debuts on the Hot 100 at No. 84 with his second single, "The Trouble With Girls". The track by the reigning "Idol" king enters Digital Songs at No. 59 (27,000, up 12%) and rises 54-47 in its second week on Country Songs. McCreery's "Idol" victory song "I Love You This Big" reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 (and No. 15 on Country Songs).
 
All charts, including the Hot 100, Digital Songs and Radio Songs, will be refreshed tomorrow (Sept. 15) on Billboard.com.

New Rihanna Album Due 'This Fall'

Source:  www.billboard.com – by Keith Caulfield, L.A.
  

(September 13, 2011) When
Rihanna tweets, people listen.rihanna-laughing-617x409_small
 
On Sept. 15, the diva tweeted a response to one of her followers asking "When's the next album due?" with "THIS FALL!!!!!" which must have been music to the ears of her fans.
 
Sources confirm that a new album is indeed coming soon -- and it will likely be a proper full-length studio effort.
 
If so, it will mark Rihanna's sixth studio album since her "Music of the Sun" arrival in 2005 and will come nearly a year after her last set, "Loud," was released in November of 2010. This sort rapid-fire release pattern isn't new for the star: since 2005, she's dropped a new album every year except for 2008.
 
"Loud" debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and has sold 1.5 million copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. It has spawned six Billboard Hot 100 hit singles, and of those, three were No. 1s: "Only Girl (In the World)," "What's My Name?" (featuring Drake) and "S&M" (featuring Britney Spears). "Loud" is her second-biggest selling album next to only 2007's "Good Girl Gone Bad" (2.7 million).
 
"Loud's" most recent hit, "Cheers (Drink to That)," became the album's fourth top 10 this week, as it climbed 11-10 in its seventh week on the tally.

‘Idol’ Alum Trenyce in London’s ‘Thriller Live’ Musical

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(September 16, 2011) *The Hollywood Reporter caught up with
Trenyce Cobbins, the singer who battled against the likes of Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke on season 2 of “American Idol” more than eight years ago – when she was known simply as “Trenyce.”

Today, she follows in the footsteps of fellow “Idol” standouts Fantasia, Diana DeGarmo, Ace Young, Justin Guarini, Jordin Sparks and Constantine Maroulis who have starred in theatrical musicals. While they have all appeared on Broadway, Trenyce is about to light up London’s West End as the female lead in Thriller Live, a musical that pays tribute to the late Michael Jackson.

Below is an excerpt from her interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

THR: You’re one of the lead singers performing Michael’s songs in the show. But you’re the only woman. How does the audience react to a female singer singing MJ’s songs?

Trenyce: Most people immediately hold their breath, and I don’t blame them! It’s MJ! But knowing that, it gives me that extra push to be as great as I know I can be and win them over. And when I get a roaring applause at the end of the night, I know that they have approved! The good part about performing his songs for me is that I get to be the part of Michael that was bold, sexy, and in your face, as well as sensitive. I feel very powerful knowing I have the opportunity to stand there with three guys and hold my own.

THR: You’re the only American lead in the show. Lots of Idols have starred on Broadway or have done national tours in the U.S. How did you find yourself in London?

Trenyce: The opportunity first came up a while ago when I was doing Ain’t Misbehavin’ with Ruben Studdard and Frenchie Davis, but at the time I was committed to that show. A year later I was asked again to do Thriller Live but my manager wasn’t happy about sending me away when we were focused on me getting work in the States, so I passed. In June 2010 I was asked again and this time the casting director convinced me it was a good idea and would give me the chance to see the world and establish myself as an artist in another country, so I took the opportunity. I’m glad I did because I’ve seen and learned a lot!

THR: What is your life like here in London?

Trenyce: Quite enjoyable. It took me a while to settle in. Patina Miller, who is starring in Sister Act on Broadway, told me it would. But now I have my bearings and I’ve created a really nice life, one that will follow me for years because I have established friendships and professional relationships that will last a lifetime. I work every day except Monday, our dark day, and do two shows on Saturday and Sunday. I go to see other shows, usually matinees, with our cast. We hang out together for drinks and meals at Balans in Soho, right around the corner from the Lyric Theatre. I explore different neighbourhoods and culture in London and still have so much more to see and do. I’ve done the touristy thing like the London Eye, the Thames, the museums and the tube. But what I enjoy the most is — shopping! The fashion culture here is an art. I love it! My absolute turn-off about London is the weather.

THR: Do British audiences recognize you from “American Idol”? Do a lot of tourists from the U.S. come to see you?

Trenyce: Lots of people here have recognized me! I wasn’t aware of the impact of  American Idol in the U.K. until I got here. Many people wait after the show to say “I recognize you,” “Glad you did this show,” “You’ve grown so much since Idol,” “You look better in person” – it’s quite funny sometimes, because I forget that Idol was ever shown anywhere outside the States, so when people recognize me I say, “Wow, what a great memory you have!” And of course it is always a pleasure to have people you know visit from the States! A little dose of home always makes a show that much better.

THR: What’s next for Trenyce?

Trenyce: I am always aiming for the next big thing, but God has a way of showing me a better picture than I could ever paint. I will never stop aspiring to make an album, but other than that, who knows? I wear so many business hats and they all fit quite nicely. My mom wants me to have a family next — we’ll see!

R. Kelly and Ron Isley Working on an Album?

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Sep 18, 2011) *Ron Isley never gets old, figuratively speaking thatron-isley_small is. His music seems to blend right in with the going trends with ease and even with his classic style, he gets the party going. And over the decades he’s inspired a slew of other artists who only try to reach the level of his greatness.

Every single time he comes out with something new, it’s basically a hit, but his most recent project seemed to be a bit of a flop.

About “Mr. I” he commented to TheUrbanDaily about the unsuccessful stint.

“It was great until the record company, Def Soul/Island/Def Jam Records, was dismantled. The company was dismantled right at the beginning of the release. L.A. Reid was no longer there and everybody in the company was either laid off or fired. Some of our albums got caught up in that tangle there. L.A is going to Sony Records. Myself, I’ll probably wind up doing my next record with him. All our plans for the record were caught up in the changes. All of the sudden, L.A. Reid didn’t work at my label anymore.”

He also added that the promotions and marketing plan were not too good and a bit backwards. He explained that “Take It How You Want It” was supposed to be released first, but he got sent to jail for that tax problem he had. Aretha Franklin and the singer also did a duet, but she got sick. So everything went bad at the wrong time.

He commented that he’d like to work with Beyonce in the future and maybe Alicia Keys. There’s also talk about doing some work with R. Kelly again.

“Yes, I’m working with R. Kelly on the next album right now!”

Is it a collaborative album or just a solo record?

“Uh, I don’t want to tell you all of that. I kind of want to keep it a secret. We don’t want to give anything out. I can tell you it is going to be dynamite. You can tell the world that.”

VIDEO - Blues Musician Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith Dies at 75

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

(Sep 19, 2011) *Grammy-winning blues musician Willie “Big Eyes” willie-big-eyes-smith_smallSmith, who was a longtime sideman for Muddy Waters, died of a stroke on Friday in Chicago at age 75, according to a statement on his website.

Smith’s death comes less than six months after the passing at age 97 of blues master Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins, with whom Smith shared a Grammy win this year in the best traditional blues album category for their 2010 release “Joined at the Hip.”

Smith said backstage at the Grammy Awards that he first met Perkins as a boy and was glad to have found success recording with his elder. “To tell you the truth, right now I’m one of the happiest men on earth,” he said at the February event.

While the Grammy win at age 75 was Smith’s first, he had previously had a long career playing with the late blues legend Muddy Waters.

Born in Helena, Arkansas, in 1936, Smith went to Chicago at age 17 and heard Waters playing for the first time. He later joined Waters’ band as a drummer in the early 1960s.

In 1964, Smith was forced to pack up his drum kit for a time and he supported himself with odd jobs such as driving a taxicab in Chicago, according to a profile on his website.

But Smith rejoined Waters’ band in 1968 and played with him through the 1970s, the period when Waters won his six Grammys.

Aside from the drums, Smith also played the harmonica and sang. In the 1980s, he performed in the Legendary Blues Band with Perkins, Louis Myers, Calvin Jones and Jerry Portnoy.

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy, said in a statement that Smith was a “great, versatile Chicago bluesman” who “made an indelible impact” on the blues genre.

“Our sincerest condolences extend to his family, friends, fans and all who will continue to appreciate his rhythm and riffs for generations to come,” Portnow said.

Post-Polaris Thoughts On Arcade Fire Win

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

(Sep 20, 2011) A few highly subjective observations:

1. By consensus, the right album won. Joshua Ostroff of Spinner had
Arcade%20Fire1_small even said that the Polaris Prize's credibility would be damaged. I don't know as I would go that far, but we must face facts: having won the Grammy for Best Album, the Juno for Best Album and the BRIT Award for Best International Album, if The Suburbs doesn't win the Polaris it's either (a) the jury here implicitly criticizing the opinions of everybody else or (b) not really about honouring the best.

2. That said, this wasn't a year when the 11-member grand jury (which picks among the ten finalists) could really make a shocking, left-field choice. It would either make the obvious call (The Suburbs) or honour the slightly avant garde, as it has a history of doing.

Though the prize insists it's about honouring the best album "without regard to musical genre," heaven help you if you're making, say, a blues album, or country, or uncompromisingly hard hip hop; this is about indie rock and other SWPL; given the jurors who determine the long list and the resultant short list of finalists, it couldn't really be otherwise.


3. Regional rumblings, everyone's least favourite (but still legitimate) aspect of Canadian voting, might now begin to rear their ugly head. The entire list of winners to date: Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, Caribou, F---ed Up, Karkwa, Arcade Fire. Hometowns: Toronto, Montreal, the Toronto environs, Toronto, Montreal, Montreal. The system's participants (I've never been one) can make the case that these cities are, in fact, where the best Canadian music gets made. That doesn't have to be taken as  dismissive of Calgary's Chad VanGaalen, or Vancouver/London, Ont.'s Shad, or Halifax's Joel Plaskett - all of whom have been nominated in the past - but in this country, that's probably how it will start to be taken.

R.E.M. Rides Off Into The Sunset

Source: www.thestar.com -
by: Ben Rayner

(September 21, 2011)  It’s the end of the world as we know it for
REM_JPG_1322270gm-a_small R.E.M. fans: the venerable alt-rock institution from Athens, Ga., has split up after 31 years together.

It’s an amicable breakup, by the looks of things, although that doesn’t make the news any less sad. R.E.M., whose final album will now be this year's passable Collapse Into Now, might have lost a little of its zing during the latter years of its career, but popular music is immeasurably richer for having known the band. This was one of those rare acts that found success by bringing the mainstream into its world rather than actively pursuing mainstream success when Document and Green first blew up towards the end of the 1980s.

“To our fans and friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-
Rconspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” the trio – which began as a quartet in 1980 but parted ways with drummer Bill Berry in 1997 – wrote in a collective statement posted on its website on Wednesday.  “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.

Each of the band members weighed in with their own comments, none of which paint the split as a particularly capricious decision after three decades, 15 albums and tens of millions in international record sales.

“A wise man once said ‘The skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave,’” wrote frontman Michael Stipe. “We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it.

“I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.

“We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.”

Ethan Kaplan, who runs the R.E.M. fan site Murmurs, told RollingStone.com that he suspected shakeups at the band’s label since 1987, Warner Brothers Music, were what prompted Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck to finally call it a day.

“I think the demands on a band now to get a record out were more than they might have wanted to commit,” he said. “I can understand that after how hard they worked for how long, the thought of going back to 'paying dues' with new label staff, in a very weird industry, was too much.”

Stipe, at least, seems to be keeping busy. The announcement of R.E.M.’s breakup coincided with the online release of photos of him going full-frontal. Yes, you can now see his “Little Stipe” if you so desire.

Once you recover, here’s some music by which to properly remember the band.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Nas to Publish Memoir in Collaboration with Touré

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Sep 17, 2011) *Rapper Nas is ready to share his personal story in annas1_small memoir to be published next year in the Fall. According to reports, he signed a deal with publisher Simon & Schuster to release a book titled “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” named after a song from his debut 1994 debut “Illmatic.” The news broke Monday when Touré tweeted on Monday: “I’ve been talking to Nas about writing his autobiography for 16 years … we’ll tell his life and deconstruct some songs.” The book will also explore the long misunderstood feud between Jay-Z and the Queen’s native, as well as his marriage with Kelis, his mother’s battle with cancer and his relationship with the mother of his first child. “A memoir is about a certain period in your life. An autobiography is about your whole life,” Touré tweeted. “Writing a book & a rhyme are different but still it’ll be Nas’ story & his voice. His great writing ability will be clear.”

J.D. Fortune splits with INXS

Source: www.thestar.com - By The Canadian Press

(Sep 20, 2011) Canadian singer J.D. Fortune says he's no longer a member of the band INXS and that the split is amicable. In a post on his blog Tuesday, Fortune says he was not fired and didn't quit, but that the band will continue without him. He says he and band members decided earlier this year to no longer play together after their most recent tour, which ended this summer. Fortune says a "deep friendship and respect" lives on after six years of working together. He says he's now developing "several exciting projects as a solo artist." Fortune rose to stardom after winning the TV reality show, Rock Star: INXS in 2005 and becoming the new frontman for the band. Later that year, he sang on the group's record, "Switch," which reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. About two years later, Fortune said the band dumped him at a Hong Kong airport, leaving the Mississauga, Ont.-born rocker to live out of a truck. He says they reunited in late 2009.

::FILM NEWS::    

Quebec Film Chosen To Represent Canada In Oscar Race

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(September 21, 2011) Will history repeat itself with TIFF’s Best
Canadian Film winner heading to the final round of the Oscars?

That’s the golden question as Quebec’s
Monsieur Lazhar, winner of the Best Canadian Feature prize this past weekend at TIFF 2011, has been chosen to represent Canada at the Feb. 26 Academy Awards in the race for the Best Foreign-Language Film.

Philippe Falardeau’s schoolhouse drama takes place in a Montreal elementary classroom, as a new teacher struggles to assist students in the aftermath of a tragedy. Algerian actor Fellag stars in the title role.

Falardeau is following the same path fellow Quebecer Denis Villeneuve took last year, as Villeneuve’s Incendies scored TIFF’s Best Canadian Feature award and went on to compete at the Oscars.

Incendies made it to the final round of five nominees in the two-stage voting process, but it lost the Oscar to Denmark’s In a Better World, directed by Susanne Bier.

Monsieur Lazhar will have to go through the same gruelling winnowing process: 65 films from around the world, one per country, will compete for five slots in the Best Foreign-Language Film nominees in the first stage of balloting.

But Canada’s new contender has other honours confirming its popularity. It arrived at TIFF with two prizes from the Locarno Film Festival, where it premiered it August, including the audience prize.

“My film never ceases to amaze me; since Locarno it has taken on a life of its own,” Falardeau said, via a release by Telefilm Canada, which announced the selection of Monsieur Lazhar as Canada’s Oscar flag carrier.

“It’s a proud moment when your movie is chosen to represent Canada from among all the high-quality productions that were in the running for this honour.”

Monsieur Lazhar was produced by Luc Déry and Kim McCraw, who also produced Incendies.

Canada has competed five times for Best Foreign-Language Film in the 84-year history of the Academy Awards.

Besides Villeneuve’s Incendies, which was Canada’s Oscar pick last year there was Deepa Mehta’s Water (2006) and three films by Denys Arcand: The Decline of the American Empire (1986), Jesus of Montreal (1989) and The Barbarian Invasions (2003).

The sole Oscar winner from that list was The Barbarian Invasions.

Lebanon Comedy Wins TIFF People’s Choice Award

Source:  www.thestar.com

(Sep 18, 2011) TORONTO — “Where Do We Go Now?” a bittersweetNadine%20Labaki_small comedy set in war-torn Lebanon, bested two well-received entries starring George Clooney to win the people’s choice award Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Cadillac People’s Choice award, which also includes a C$15,000 cash prize, is voted on by festival audiences and has typically been regarded as a bellwether for Oscar success.

Lebanese-Canadian director-actress Nadine Labaki’s feminist film about village women bent on keeping their hotheaded men out of a religious war was chosen earlier this month as Lebanon’s 2011 entry in the best foreign language film category for the Academy Awards.

Labaki, who also stars in the film, was traveling in Europe when she heard the news, which was announced Sunday at a closing brunch for the 11-day festival.

Festival programmer Rasha Salti accepted the award on the filmmaker’s behalf, reading a statement sent by Labaki from an airport in Germany.

“I’m thrilled, I’m happy, I’m ecstatic, I’m excited — my day that had just started on the wrong foot because of a flight cancellation has just been turned upside down,” the 37-year-old Labaki said in her statement.

“I’m running around jumping up and down at the Frankfurt airport. Tomorrow we’ll be screening ‘Where Do We Go Now?’ for the first time in Lebanon and I will be proud and happy to announce the news in front of my crew, my family and the Lebanese audience.”

Festival director Piers Handling noted it was a surprise triumph for a film that was overshadowed by heavily promoted, star-studded Hollywood films. These included Clooney’s two films, “The Descendants” and “The Ides of March.”

“We have some very, very high-profile films here at the festival and ones that a lot of people are talking about and I’m sure will go on to awards,” said Handling. “But Nadine’s film obviously connected with the public in a significant way because it was a clear, clear winner.”

Last year’s fans’ pick, “The King’s Speech,” went on to take four Oscars, including best picture, and the 2008 people’s choice winner, “Slumdog Millionaire,” took best picture and seven other Oscars.

Quebec director Philippe Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar,” about an Algerian schoolteacher in Quebec and his relationship with two students, won the award for best Canadian feature and a C$30,000 prize.

The best first Canadian feature award, which includes a C$15,000 prize, went to director Nathan Morlando’s period piece “Edwin Boyd,” starring Scott Speedman as the notorious Canadian bank robber.

“Where Do We Go Now?” garnered rave reviews at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it screened on the margins of the official competition. It follows Labaki’s feature “Caramel,” a sweet love story set in a Beirut beauty salon, which was Lebanon’s entry for the 2007 best foreign language film Oscar.

Set in a remote village where the church and the mosque stand side by side, “Where Do We Go Now?” follows the antics of the town’s women to keep their blowhard men from starting a religious war. Women heartsick over sons, husbands and fathers lost to previous flare-ups unite to distract their men with clever ruses, from faking a miracle to hiring a troop of Ukrainian strippers.

Labaki wrote the screenplay for the film which was shot on location in three remote Lebanese villages with a cast made up almost entirely of nonprofessional actors. Labaki, who is married to the film’s composer, Khaled Mouzannar, also included a handful of old-school song-and-dance numbers that buoy the mood.

Video On Demand: The Living-Room Box Office

Source:  www.thestar.com – By Wendy Gillis

(Sep 15, 2011) As thousands of TIFF-goers lined up to experience film on the big screen, industry professionals were discussing a dramatically different film future, one where premieres would happen in living rooms, not theatres.

There’s a controversial new business model emerging from declining DVD and theatre ticket sales, and it quickly prompted a heated debate between theatre owners and film distributors at a TIFF panel discussing the state of the film industry earlier this week.

The big idea? Making movies available through VOD (video on demand) shortly after hitting the theatres, dramatically reducing the time a movie is available exclusively on the big screen (the industry term for the reduced time is a “collapsed theatre window”). In some scenarios, films would go to TV before hitting the big screen.

The experiment began in April, when four major film studios (20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros.) began offering so-called premium VOD through DirecTV: For $30, consumers were able to watch Paul, Battle: Los Angeles, The Adjustment Bureau and a few others two months after they went to theatres and at least a month before they were released on DVD.

So far, the response has been tepid — according to the Los Angeles Times, there’s been little demand for premium VOD. But John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, believes the idea could have disastrous consequences that would go further than bankrupting theatres.

“A VOD, straight-to-the-home world is not a cinematic world; it’s a world that could kill the cinematic business,” he said during the panel discussion. “I’m biased, don’t listen to me. Listen to producers and directors who stood up this summer and said: ‘Collapsed windows are a disaster for my art form,’” adding that James Cameron is among those expressing outrage.

Part of the concern is that the full movie experience will fail to exist. As Neil Campbell, of Landmark Cinemas Canada, said, movies “weren’t made to be seen on BlackBerries and iPhones.”

There’s also a fear that reducing the theatre window could mean momentum wouldn’t build around movies that aren’t automatic blockbusters. Panellists pointed to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Hangover and The King’s Speech as movies that all benefitted from a long theatre run.

Campbell’s main fear, though, is the financial ruin of movie theatres, especially after most have invested in new technology.

“We’ve spent tens of millions of dollars to build those complexes, and we’re putting in state-of-the-art technology right now because our whole industry is completely changing and going to digital,” he said.

Others on the panel were blunt: people are increasingly watching films online (through movie rental sites like Netflix, or illegal downloads), said Todd Wagner, CEO of 2929 Entertainment. The company specializes in distributing digital content and was the first in the world to stream audio and video over the internet.

Wagner said initiatives like “ultra VOD” — where movies go to cable first, then to theatres, then back to cable — can help make up revenue lost when consumers watch online instead of going to theatres. The “impulse buy” aspect of VOD would be attractive to people who like to watch movies at home.

Ultimately, it’s about being open to the changes technology brings, he said.

“Technology is like a big gust of wind. It’s gonna come and it’s gonna knock you around. You can either stand there and say, ‘Status quo, I’m gonna hold onto the rail,’ or you can let it take you somewhere.”

Geoff Gilmore, chief creative officer of Tribeca Enterprises, a media company started in part by Robert De Niro, says the model gives independent filmmakers an audience they otherwise would not have; getting into theatres can be extremely difficult for small projects.

“Independent films are failing in the theatrical box office all over America right now — 80 per cent of them don’t make $100,000,” he said. “We have to find new ways of marketing this work that involves a range of different things that are not just the traditional theatrical system.”

The Global Meltdown Told Through The Eyes Of One Woman’s Battle

Source:  www.thestar.com – By Tony Wong

(Sep 16, 2011) Bryan Wizemann didn’t set out to make a story aboutBryan%20Wizemann_small the most pressing problem in America today.

But he did.

Wizemann’s
Think Of Me is a small film about a big problem. The joblessness and despair amidst the global economic meltdown, told through the eyes of single mom Angela (Lauren Ambrose of HBO’s Six Feet Under) and the choices she has to make to survive.

“I really set out to write a work of fiction that was also a very personal story,” said Wizemann.

In the movie, single mom Angela works as a cleaner at night at the offices where she also has a full time job.

So did Wizemann’s mom.

“It was the secret janitor job. She never really told anyone,” said Wizemann. “It was difficult being a single mom then, and it’s difficult being a single mom today.”

The scene where the kids fish money out of the mall fountain to get pocket change also rings true, because that’s what Wizemann and his brother used to do.

He also had it set in Las Vegas where he grew up, despite the protestations of his backers because of a lack of tax credits.

Vegas, it turns out, was also the epicentre of the housing bubble that helped to freeze the global economy.

“I guess things just happened that way. But this movie has been in development for more than five years. And every year my wife would say this is a great movie if it could only come out this year. And years later, it’s still a huge issue. Things haven’t improved.”

Just last week when U.S. President Barack Obama made his keynote speech on job creation, the Canadian Payroll Association released a survey saying that 74 per cent of single parents would experience difficulty if they missed a weekly paycheck.

“I don’t know what kind of impact this movie will have. Maybe it will bring some kind of awareness. But this really isn’t a movie that is political. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the left or the right. The antagonist is poverty.”

Wizemann says Ambrose was at the top of his list for actors and remained committed to the script from day one.

“She was in tears at our first meeting. She really loved the material,” said Wizemann.

But as an independent producer, finding funding wasn’t easy.

“The topic wasn’t an easy sell,” says Blythe Robertson, the producer of Think Of Me. “But we felt it was an important discussion to have.”

As a result, some of the sets, including Angela’s apartment were also used as sleeping quarters for crew. Every penny went to production. The movie was shot in a fast-paced 20 days.

Wizemann says some people have described the movie as a horror movie or thriller. But the director proves that no zombie can produce a bigger scare than a mother who has few choices in which to make ends meet for her child.

Shows: Saturday Sept. 17, 6:15 pm, AMC

Surviving Katrina’s Aftermath

Source:  www.thestar.com – By Martin Knelman
Jonathan%20Demme_small
(Sep 16, 2011) “I don’t like super big budget movies,” confided Jonathan Demme, prowling around the green room at TIFF Bell Lightbox a few days ago.

That might come as a surprise to those who know Demme’s work from such Hollywood studio pictures as The Silence of the Lambs.

But if you want to see the flip side of Demme’s talent, then on Sunday evening, as TIFF winds up, you should try to catch his marvellous documentary
I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad and the Beautiful at its final screening (7:30 p.m. at AMC).

This is the story of one New Orleans woman who refuses to be defeated by Hurricane Katrina and its troubling aftermath. It’s a small film with big emotional impact, shot intermittently over five years.

It doesn’t have any of the star performers who have been featured in other Demme movies, such as Tom Hanks (Philadelphia), Goldie Hawn (Swing Shift), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) or Anne Hathaway (an Oscar nominee for Rachel Getting Married).

Instead it puts the spotlight on an ordinary person, not the kind of celebrity we’ve seen walking the red carpet every night for the past week.

Her name is Carolyn Parker. You’ve never heard of her before. She’s not an actress, and the part she plays so memorably in this film is herself.

But she’s magic on camera — eloquent and stirring as a community activist, funny and engaging in one-on-one chats with the filmmaker she has invited into the house she is determined to reclaim.

Parker grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and is rooted in the community. Born into a world of segregation, she came of age during the civil rights struggle and made a career for herself in the catering part of the hotel business.

The symbol of her success was her charming and historic little house, where she raised three children. Miraculously, it was not totally destroyed by Katrina, but it was seriously damaged.

Despite tremendous obstacles, Carolyn Parker was determined to restore her house to its former condition and move back into it.

It took five years and more trouble than most of us would be prepared to endure, but eventually her dream came true.

Thanks to Demme, we have a wonderful diary of the whole saga. After Katrina, he was drawn to New Orleans partly out of a desire to do whatever he could to help its victims, and partly because instinct told him there was a great subject for a film here.

He had no idea at first what story he might wind up telling or how. But then he happened to meet Carolyn Parker. She invited him into her house and into her life. And then as years went by, he returned with his small crew every few months to continue filming.

As they talked, she shared with him not only the struggles involved in trying to fix her house, but also many anecdotes about her amazing life.

Demme also became a witness to Carolyn’s inspiring power as a community leader when she led a campaign to restore a church that meant a great deal not just to Parker but to all the people who had spent their lives in the Ninth Ward.

And he became so close to Parker’s visiting daughter, Kyrah Julian, that he cast her for a small role in Rachel Getting Married.

When you are under the spell of Carolyn Parker, you start to believe that sometimes broken things can be fixed and disasters can be overcome.

As well, there’s the elation of discovering that, given the right subject, a famous and successful director of Hollywood hits can find true artistic and emotional satisfaction working on a very small and intimate movie.

Demme hoped Parker would come to Toronto. She hates flying, but he had a plan to have her driven here. She said thanks but no thanks.

“Why would I want to leave New Orleans?” Parker asked Demme.

“So you can be there in person and talk to the audience,” Demme said.

“I’ll be there on the screen,” she replied.

And indeed she is.

Ryan Gosling Leaves Hollywood Conventions Behind

Source:  www.globeandmail.comJohanna Schneller

(September 16, 2011) If you wanted to see the power of a Hollywood star made manifest during the Toronto International Film Festival, all you had to do was visit the fourth floor of the Ritz-Carlton. Journalists spent most of our week prowling the corridors of other hotels, thrilled to be offered a free pack of gum. But last Saturday I did interviews for Drive, the moody drama that opened yesterday, and the star of Drive is London, Ont.’s own Ryan Gosling. Gosling’s interview was at the Ritz.

As the elevator doors opened onto the executive floor, I was bathed in a blaze of warm light. It was like entering heaven, with five-star catering. Silver serving dishes held filet mignon on polenta with porcini mushrooms, asparagus and fresh-pea risotto, and orange bittersweet single-origin chocolate tarts. The ladies’ room smelled expensive: Small wooden maple leaves, impregnated with scent, were tucked discreetly into each stall. The U.S. movie studios were running the show, and the Ritz was putting out for them, proving that downtown Toronto could handle the Clooneys, Pitts and Goslings just as well as Yorkville ever did.

But Gosling’s power extends far beyond the lavishness of his film’s
junket. He’s a hot commodity in Hollywood right now, and a rare one – a heartthrob with acting chops who can open a film. Clooney and Pitt are stars, but they’re not always box office. Tom Cruise’s movies have collectively earned $6-billion; Hollywood is hoping Gosling, 30, is the next Tom Cruise.

With that kind of heat comes coddling, both of the kind that doesn’t matter (crab-and-quinoa salad), and the kind that really, really does: getting to make your movie, your way. Gosling is very much the driver of Drive, both on screen and off. In making it, he used his power to a near-miraculous effect that bodes well for his future.

Eight years ago, Universal bought a slim novel about a loner stuntman in Los Angeles who becomes a crime getaway driver. It was poised to be a typical Hollywood car movie, a possible franchise à la The Fast and the Furious. The studio liked Gosling for the lead, and producer Marc Platt told him, “I’ll get behind any director you want.”

This is where the miracle kicked in: Gosling wanted Danish art-house director Nicolas Winding Refn, the self-described “fetish filmmaker” of the Pusher trilogy, Bronson and Valhalla Rising. The two bonded while driving around L.A. by night listening to music. One night, REO Speedwagon's pop hit Can’t Fight This Feeling came on the radio, and Refn started crying.

“Nicolas and I creatively copulated, this movie-idea baby was born, and now we had to raise it,” Gosling recalls, sitting at a round table and leaning forward earnestly. He is wearing a cream-colored fisherman’s sweater and a thin gold chain around his neck, and speaks softly but quickly, in anecdotes rife with details.

“When I was a kid, I saw First Blood,” Gosling continues, his words gaining momentum. “The movie put a spell on me. I thought I was Rambo. I filled my Fisher-Price Houdini kit with steak knives, and I took it to school the next day. I threw them at all the kids at recess. Thank God I didn’t hit anybody, but I was suspended. My parents wouldn’t let me watch violent movies any more. So I understood this character on a certain level when I read it. I thought: This is a guy who’s seen too many movies. He’s confusing his life for a film. He’s mistaking himself for an action hero. He’s lost in the mythology of Hollywood.”

Refn’s goal was to fuse his own European sensibility onto an American genre picture. He’s an eccentric – imagine Dwight from The Office as a Dane. In a separate interview, he said things to me like, “My influences for Drive were the Grimm’s fairy tales and the movie Pretty Woman,” and, “When I make a film, I try to figure out which piece of music it would be. It gives me ideas, because I don’t do drugs any more.”

He was nervous about making his first Hollywood movie, he said, in a clipped Danish accent, “because I didn’t have the creative control that I’m used to. Or at least, I had to deal with more people around it. But I always knew Ryan would protect me. The same way Lee Marvin protected John Boorman on Point Blank, or Steve McQueen with Peter Yates on Bullit.” (If you think the comparisons to Marvin and McQueen are accidental, think again.)

Protect Refn, Ryan did. “Nicolas is unique,” Gosling says. “There’s nothing conventional about the way he makes films. It took a lot of explaining to the crew, and to the people involved with the film” – the money men – “that there was a method to this madness. And sometimes it was madness.”

Before, during and after the shoot, Gosling, his co-stars Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and Carey Mulligan, and screenwriter Hossein Amini, camped out in Refn’s house in the Hollywood Hills, ordering in food, pitching out character ideas and lines of dialogue. “There were toys and shoes all around. Nicolas’s kids would be upstairs. He’d excuse himself to give his daughter a bath,” Cranston remembers. “It was unorthodox, certainly, but freeing.”

Mulligan moved in for a few months. Gosling came and went with his own key. His idea for his dialogue was always the same: less, less, less. He felt he could “say more by saying nothing.”

He did need to reassure the money men, though. “Suddenly, people are coming to set and no one’s talking, we’re just looking at each other. For hours,” Gosling says. “And Nicolas is going around with headphones on, crying all day. We’re doing 50 takes while he adjusts some tiny detail in the corner of the frame. He’s hugging me for 10 minutes before we shoot, because he doesn’t feel that I’m relaxed enough. And you have to explain all that at some point. You have to reassure everyone that it’s going somewhere.”

Refn shot in chronological order, so he could keep “evolving” the script as he went. He cast Brooks as a villain – something no other director would do, Brooks said to me this week – and then had him do so many takes of a scene where he chokes a neighbour that the victim actually lost consciousness. “I thought he died,” Brooks recalled. “When he came to, Nicolas said, ‘Are you okay?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ Nicolas said, ‘Let’s do it again!’ ” The scene didn’t make the final cut.

They’d edit each day’s rushes until the editor would fall asleep, and then Gosling and Refn would get in the car and drive around some more, “go to a diner, talk about movies and life,” Gosling says. “And that would affect what we shot the next day, somehow. It was a constant process of discovery. We were always chasing that moment in the car where the movie was born.”

“The film became a reflection of what the process of making it was like,” continues Gosling, who has two more films on tap with Refn, including a remake of Logan’s Run set in Bangkok.

“People who’ve seen it are saying, ‘There’s silence in this movie!’ They’re applauding something that shouldn’t be abnormal, but it is,” Brooks says. “Great art is supposed to be weird. But when things cost $150-million, they don’t want them to be weird.” He pauses. “This could have turned out to be a mess. But you take your chances.”

Vanilla-bean pannacotta with fresh blackberries is very nice. But Gosling’s use of his power is a lot more interesting.

Snoop Dogg to Star in Biopic of Fillmore Slim

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(September 15, 2011) *
Snoop Dogg is headed to the big screen tosnoop-dogg1_small star as – what else – a pimp.

The rapper has scored the lead role in the biopic “The Legend of Fillmore Slim,” reports Deadline.com

Announced Wednesday by Ames Universal and SRI Entertainment, Snoop will play the famous blues singer and guitarist, real name Clarence Sims, who was also a well-known pimp during the 1960s and 70s in San Francisco, referred to as “The West Coast Godfather of the Game” and “The Pope of Pimping.”
Fillmore-Slim-540x2871_small
Shelly Liebowitz is executive producing. Alan Ames, who is co-producing with Wayne Anderson and writing the screenplay with Carole Parker, produces the syndicated TV series “Texas Roadhouse Live.” He was approached by Sims’ daughter Rebecca, who helped put the project together.

“This film will span decades,” said Ames, “from Slim’s emergence as a musician, to his fascination with the fast life, through his years of incarceration and his redemption.”

Sims, now 77 years old, is currently touring. Hawthorne James will direct the film. Pre-production is to begin in December, with a March start date targeted.

Filming For Next Superman Movie Heading For Vancouver, Vancouver Island

Source:  www.thestar.com – By Keven Drews, The Canadian Press

(Sep 16, 2011) VANCOUVER - The Man of Steel will be heading up, up and away to Vancouver Island and the Vancouver area this fall to film what's believed to be the next Superman movie.

Casting calls and filming for
Autumn Frost — widely reported to be the code name for Man of Steel, the next Superman film — have already taken place in Chicago.

But according to a letter received by municipal council in Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, filming will take place there and in the Vancouver area, too.

Autumn Frost will film in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island from early September through to the end of January 2012," Rino Pace, locations manager for production company Third Act Productions Inc., wrote in a letter to Ucluelet council.

"We have been preparing the film since early spring, which includes building 'sets' in the various 'stages' in and around the Vancouver area..."

Pace said Ucluelet has the "look" the directors and production designer envisioned.

While in Ucluelet, filming will take place on land owned by a local First Nation and on a municipal street and the town will play the role of a small, Alaskan fishing village. Filming will also take place on the ocean and at an industrial dock.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures have already announced that British actor Henry Cavill will play Superman. Cavill co-starred in The Tudors.

A media release states the movie will also star Amy Adams, a three-time Oscar nominee, who will play Lois Lane, and Laurence Fishburne, an Oscar nominee who will play editor-in-chief Perry White of the Daily Planet newspaper. The same media release states Diane Lane and Kevin Costner will play Clark Kent's adoptive parents.

Already, casting calls for movie extras have taken place in Ucluelet and Nanaimo, B.C. Sought especially were older men and women with "character faces" and some "commercial fishermen types," states advertisements placed on the Vancouver Island North Film Commission website.

The movie is based on characters published by DC Comics.

"I think this is the first one to really plunk us on the map," said Ucluelet Mayor Eric Russcher, of the filming.

He said film crews have normally headed to Tofino, a popular tourist town located about 40 kilometres north of Ucluelet, but the movie company stated it needed something more that looked like an Alaskan community.

"We still have that far-flung look of a small community," he said.

Russcher said locals are excited and hope to catch a view of some of the filming.

Wendy Stewart, a spokeswoman for the City of Vancouver, said officials are hearing the same rumours that filming could take place in the city but nothing has come through the office yet.

Man of Steel is slated for release in June 2013.

Michael Fassbender And More: TIFF's Top Acting Surprises

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

(September 16, 2011) The Globe's film festival reporters and criticsMichael%20Fassbender_small weigh in on performers who really made them sit up and take notice.

WOODY HARRELSON

As a barely hinged, highly literate thug of a policeman in the pitch-black L.A. cop drama Rampart, Harrelson will beat the Oscar's best-actor field like they were drums, Rodney Kings and red-haired stepchildren. - Brad Wheeler

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

As the sex addict in Shame, then as Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, Michael Fassbender delivers not one but two note-perfect performances - similar in their primal appetites but so vastly different in style. - Rick Groen

JEAN DUJARDIN

The 39-year-old French comic actor is a break-out star in The Artist: As handsome and brash as a young Gene Kelly, he also has a grain of self-deprecating silliness worthy of Steve Martin. - Liam Lacey

SHAILENE WOODLEY

Is she the next Clooney-linked young star (like Anna Kendrick in 2009's Up in the Air)? My hunch is that relative unknown Shailene Woodley, who more than holds her own against leading man Clooney in Alexander Payne's family drama The Descendants, could be in the running for a best supporting actress Oscar. - Gayle MacDonald

ADAM SCOTT

He may be best known from television roles such as his part on Parks and Recreation, but in Friends With Kids Adam Scott proves he's on his way to movie stardom. - Dave McGinn

HÉLÈNE FLORENT

She has a supporting role in Jean-Marc Vallée's Café de flore, but Hélène Florent's turn as a jettisoned ex-wife holds down the film's extraordinary mélange of storylines with a thoroughly real performance. - Guy Dixon

SCOTT SPEEDMAN

At 35
, Speedman has been a mainstay at TIFF for several years, but always in a supporting or second-banana capacity. In Edwin Boyd he's the lead, playing the handsome, charismatic bank robber whose gang terrorized and entranced Toronto in the late 1940s and early 50s. Speedman aces the role, all but guaranteeing himself a Genies nod. - James Adams

Jon Hamm Mad About His Director

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Sep 15, 2011) When Mad Men’s Jon Hamm says he loves the director of his latest movie, Friends with Kids, he means it literally.

His longtime romantic partner, Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein), directs and stars in the sharp comedy about what happens to a group of 30-something New Yorkers — two couples and two best pal singletons and their various romantic partners — when babies enter the picture.

The cast includes three actors Hamm worked on with on the comedy smash Bridesmaids: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd. A longtime pal of Hamm’s and Westfeldt’s, Adam Scott, rounds out the cast, along with Megan Fox as his character’s girlfriend.

As the couples find, babies mean big changes and Jason (Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) are horrified that they’re not for the better. They decide to skip the drama and just have a kid, co-parenting the little one while living separate lives.

Hamm and Wiig play a sexually charged husband and wife who are the envy of their group — until a child changes their lives, leading to a crumbling marriage. The two start in comic roles that turn dark and dramatic. Was Hamm hoping it would balance out his very funny, well-reviewed work as cad Ted in Bridesmaids?

“I wish I could say I have some big, grand plan in the way I pick my
Jon%20Hamm%20and%20actress%20Jennifer%20Westfeldt_small movies,” Hamm said as he sat in a Yorkville hotel suite the morning after Friends With Kids had its world premiere at TIFF. “But mostly I just want to work with people whose work I really respect and find inspiring. Kristen is like that.”

In real life, Hamm, 40, looks different from his 1960s-inspired Mad Men character, ad exec Don Draper, but is no less handsome. Despite a busy schedule at TIFF and being surrounded by screaming fans, he looks only slightly tired and is quick to smile and laugh, getting up to serve me a bottle of water as soon as I sit down.

“Cin cin,” he says, toasting with his bottle of Perrier.

Dark hair falls across his forehead and his thick stubble heightens the blue of his eyes. His light charcoal suit jacket is slung on the back of the chair and his purple windowpane-checked shirt bears telltale folds from a dry cleaner.

Hamm and Westfeldt were pleased and relieved with the crowd response to the premiere at the Ryerson Theatre. There’s no doubting the star power of the Bridesmaids-heavy cast — although when they shot the film, Bridesmaids had yet to hit theatres. Westfeldt cast Wiig and Rudolph based on their friendships — they met when Hamm hosted Saturday Night Live — and Scott goes way back with the couple.

“We thought about Kristen for that part because it was something she really hadn’t been given a chance to do yet, which was land a dramatic role,” said Hamm. “We both felt very confident in the fact she could do that.

“We’ve both been victims in our careers of people thinking that, well, you can’t do that because we’ve never seen you do that,” he continued. “That was part of the thing of many people not wanting to hire me for Don Draper. ‘That’s not something we’ve seen that guy do.’ Well, there’s a first time for everything.”

Hamm and Westfeldt are childless and she said she was inspired to write the script when their friends started having kids.

“Everybody moved to Brooklyn!” Hamm said with a chuckle.

He sees Friends With Kids as the same kind of smart comedy as Bridesmaids, using plenty of raunchy language and adult humour. Audiences are craving that kind of entertainment, Hamm added, and he thinks “the kind of movies Jen makes, an independent sensibility with mainstream appeal,” fit that bill.

“If you look at the success of Bridesmaids or even The Help, it’s definitely pitched to an older demographic. So was The Town (the movie he made with Ben Affleck last year). I think there is a market for movies that make people think about what it is they’re watching. It’s not a force-fed story.”

‘Sweet’ Jessica Paré

When we last saw Don Draper (Jon Hamm) on the Mad Men Season 4 finale in October 2010, he had just proposed to his secretary Megan Calvet, played by Canadian actress Jessica Paré. It dramatically changed the dynamic at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, to say nothing of his relationship with ex-wife Betty (January Jones). As fans wait for the oft-delayed fifth season of Mad Men to finally start in early 2012, the fate of the Don-Megan romance remains a big question.

So will Hamm give us some hints about the upcoming storyline?

“Ah, no, I can’t,” he says, laughing, although he allows “Jessie Paré is very sweet.”

“It’ll be available when it’s made available,” he said of the plot. “But suffice to say Ms. Paré is back and it’s very nice to work with her. She’s a lovely gal.”

Q&A with Director David Hare

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Sep 18, 2011) David Hare, the British author/director best known in Toronto for Stuff Happens, his take-no-prisoners examination of the events leading up to the war in Iraq, has given TIFF a stylish and thought-provoking political thriller called Page Eight for its closing gala on Saturday night.

Originally made for the BBC, it aired in England on Aug. 27 to ratings that marked it as the most watched television drama in the past five years. On one level, it’s about a security breach in the ranks of MI5 and how it affects the lives of all those working there, but — as with all of Hare’s work — there is more there than first meets the eye, as we discussed on Friday afternoon.

Q. Many people who have nothing to do with government security says this film represents their lives. How so?

A. It’s really about any organization where reasonably honourable and decent people are trying to do a sensible job and are interfered with all the time by political or financial or managerial.

Q. Is that kind of situation really so widespread in your country?

A. What’s happened in Britain now is that the political elite no longer represent the people of the country. We have what we now call a feral elite . . . only interested in doing what they want to do for . . . These are politicians who only exist to serve the financial markets.

Q. But it’s not just a British problem, is it?

A. Serious politicians around the world today know there is a real problem. How do you now define politics when it appears that the only thing a country can do is arrange its behaviour to suit the IMF (International Monetary Fund)? What room does that leave for democracy? We know what the IMFs prescription always is: sell off public assets, privatize, sack, cut down the public sector. What wiggle room is there now for democratic countries that want to govern themselves differently?

Q. I’m afraid we’re dealing with that on our very doorstep.

A. Indeed, I heard that the mayor of Toronto is now saying, “Let’s cut back on the arts.” Well, if you cut back on the arts, what will Toronto be known for? We know it as one of the cultured cities of the North American continent. That’s what distinguishes Toronto from Calgary. If you wish it to be Calgary, not only are you taking away what is most attractive, likeable and best known about this city, but the second thing you’ll be doing is committing economic suicide.

Our Favourite Films, And Early Oscar Bets

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Sep 17, 2011) The Toronto International Film Festival not only signalsBattle%20Los%20Angeles_small1 the end of summer but also the start of the Oscar race.

TIFF has become the launch pad for Academy Awards contenders, as verified last year by The King’s Speech (Best Picture, Actor, Director, Original Screenplay) and Black Swan (Best Actress), both of which made their marks here.

There were 336 films at TIFF’s 36th edition, now drawing to a close: 268 features and 68 shorts. That’s a lot of celluloid (and pixels), and only a fraction will receive Academy attention.

The same holds for the hundreds of celebrities who accompanied their films to Toronto.

But TIFF’s influence is sure to be felt amongst the nominees for the 84th annual Academy Awards on Feb. 26.

With this in mind, we offer our fest faves while also rating their chances at getting at least an Oscar nomination, anything from a screenplay nod to Best Picture. These are very early impressions and subject to change — as is the entire Oscar race, which is still wide open.

We’ve included only the films we’ve discovered at TIFF, the ones coming by their buzz honestly. We haven’t included faves from Cannes or Sundance like The Artist, Drive, Le Havre, Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene, all of which could also be in the Oscar hunt.

Howell’s picks

The Descendants: Alexander Payne’s latest is quite possibly the King’s Speech of this year’s TIFF, with its tragicomic narrative of family trouble in paradise and across-the-board appeal of talent both familiar (George Clooney, Robert Forster) and fresh (Shailene Woodley). Clooney’s self-doubting portrayal of a put-upon dad exceeds his political smoothness in The Ides of March, another Oscar possible. Oscar chances: great.

Moneyball: Swing . . . and a hit! Inside baseball, but full of heart. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill make an unlikely but great combo, demanding awards consideration, as a bullpen boss and number nerd setting out to rewrite the rules of baseball. Moneyball is a sports movie where the final score is the least interesting thing about it. Oscar chances: great.

Shame: Major TIFF buzz due to its orgasm-addicted protagonist and X-rated content, but it would be a mistake to view it as simply a movie about sex. British director Steve McQueen’s commanding sophomore work, again with the dynamic Michael Fassbender, is more about how human connections are frayed by the always-on electronic connectivity of the modern world. Adding Carey Mulligan in a game-changing role, the film will hopefully prompt everyone — especially Academy voters — to look deeper than skin surface. Oscar chances: good.

Monsieur Lazhar: There are no heroes or villains in Philippe Falardeau’s masterful Montreal classroom drama, just adults and kids struggling with a reality shaded by euphemisms and secrets. Algerian actor Fellag is outstanding as the immigrant teacher wounded by life but determined to help others. Equally impressive are the young actors whom Falardeau guides to poignant performances. A deserved candidate for Best Foreign Language Film consideration. Oscar chances: fair.

Damsels in Distress: Whit Stillman’s characters wear their pretensions proudly, like a big smiley button. Never more so than in this exhilarating and occasional exhausting college comedy, which finds Stillman firmly behind the camera for the first time since The Last Days of Disco in 1998. Greta Gerwig excels as a motor mouth Mensa type, leader of a troupe of meddlesome girls who want to make the world a better place, and also teach it how to dance. One of the year’s best screenplays. Oscar chances: fair.

Barnard’s picks

Albert Nobbs: Glenn Close is quite good as a gender-bending woman who must dress and act as a man in order to survive economic hardships in 19th-century Dublin, but stage actress Janet McTeer steals the picture as another woman who takes on the guise of a man, doing so with hardscrabble street-tough swagger. Oscar chances: great.

Take this Waltz: Sarah Polley’s colourful look at a wet, hot Toronto summer stars Michelle Williams as a tempted young wife and Seth Rogen in a surprisingly underplayed dramatic debut. Oscar chances: good.

50/50: This festival’s Easy A, it’s based on the true story of writer Will Reiser’s cancer diagnosis and his pal Seth Rogen’s unusual approach to coping. Very funny and also touching, it brings an occasional tear honestly and without sentiment. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is brilliant and spot-on as Adam, the 27-year-old with cancer based on Reiser, and Anjelica Huston shines as his mother. Oscar chances: good.

The Hunter: Willem Dafoe stars in this Aussie morality play/thriller filmed on location in the wilds of Tasmania about a mercenary who is searching for an elusive Tasmanian Tiger, despite assertions the beast is extinct. Oscar chances: poor.

Your Sister’s Sister: The audience at the Ryerson Theatre revelled in being in on this very funny fest gem from Humpday’s Lynn Shelton. Largely improvised, it stars Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as sisters and Mark Duplass as the man in their lives. A perfect little indie movie with plenty of heart and lots of truths amid the laughs. Oscar chances: poor.

FILM TIDBITS

Denzel Washington to Star in Remake of Argentine Thriller

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Sep 16, 2011) *Denzel Washington has a new offer on his handsdenzel-washington-0_small for an upcoming remake of Argentine crime thriller, “The Secret In Their Eyes.” The Oscar-winning film was based on “La Pregunta de Sus Ojos (The Question in Their Eyes),” a novel by Eduardo Sacheri. The remake will center around “a retired legal counsellor [who] writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases, and for his unreciprocated love with his superior – both of which still haunt him decades later.” Of course Washington will be the main star.

Zombies Go Bollywood

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


(September 21, 2011) The living dead's quest for worldwide
Bollywood%20zombie_small domination has finally expanded to India as Bollywood prepares to release a pair of Hindi zombie comedies in 2012 with more in the hopper, reports AFP and various entertainment websites. Shaadi of the Dead (Wedding of the Dead), about brain eating wedding crashers and starring Abhay Deol and Genelia D'Souza, is due for release next year. Also expected out next year is director Saif Ali Khan's Go Goa Gone, about young zombie hunters who take on the undead in the Indian resort state. Shaadi of the Dead director Navdeep Singh told AFP, "We feel this idea of a zombie film is very fresh. It is something that has never been tried in the Hindi film industry and so we feel it will work." A graphic novel about zombies in Bollywood is also in the works.

Will Smith Produces Video Tribute for Jada’s 40

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 21, 2011) *For his wife
Jada Pinkett Smith’s 40thwill-smith-jada-pinkett-smith1_small birthday, Will Smith orchestrated a trip down memory lane for the actress by putting together a special video tribute tracing her family roots. The actor organized a small bash on Saturday (Sept. 17) and surprised her with an hour-long film featuring photos from her childhood, as well as anecdotes from her old friends in Baltimore, Maryland. An insider tells Us Weekly magazine that the party “was just for close friends and immediate family. Will treated (the video) like a Hollywood production and had the best people work on it for months. Jada was shocked!”

::TV NEWS::    

Battle Of The Blades Pays Tribute To Belak

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Sept 18, 2011) Toronto— Wade Belak's former teammates andBelak19_jpg_1321253cl-8_small opponents paid a heartfelt tribute to the late NHL tough guy on the season-opening episode of CBC's Battle of the Blades.

“Losing Wade is a huge loss,” said Todd Simpson, the former Calgary Flames captain who formed a defensive tandem with Belak with the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades. “I can't make sense of it. I'm still in shock. It hasn't really set in yet.”

Entering its third season, Battle of the Blades teams up hockey players with figure skaters in a pairs skating competition, with $100,000 donated to charity as the prize.

Belak, who was to appear on the show, was found dead in a downtown Toronto hotel and condo building late last month in what a source told The Canadian Press was an apparent suicide.

“The Wade Belak that I first was introduced to was a guy who intimidated most hockey players in the National Hockey League,” said Brad May, himself an accomplished NHL fighter.

The show began with a message dedicating the show to the memory of Belak, as well as to his wife Jennifer and daughters Alex and Andie.

“This one's for you Wade,” said host Ron MacLean as the camera moved out to show his No. 3 painted on the ice.

The episode, called ‘Game On,' documents some of Belak's last moments as he and the other contestants prepare for the show. His sense of humour is on display as he tries to adjust to figure skates, laughs at May's frequent tumbles and jokes about competitor Cale Hulse's hairstyle.

“Every time I fell I'd hear Wade's little yell, and somewhat of a chuckle at me,” May said. “It was a lot easier having a guy like Wade Belak with you, laughing at yourself.

“He didn't take himself too seriously and he made everyone else feel comfortable around him.”

The Quebec Nordiques's first draft pick in 1994, Belak is self deprecating in an interview segment near the end of the show.

“Being drafted in the first round, I think I was probably more shocked than anybody,” he said. “First round, really? Have these guys seen me play?”

Former NHL player Russ Courtnall, who appeared on Battle of the Blades last season, will take Belak's place. Courtnall will pair with American ice dancer Kim Navarro and skate for Belak's chosen charity, the Tourette's Syndrome Neurodevelopmental Clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital. Belak chose the charity for his daughter Andie, who has been diagnosed with Tourette's.

Don’t Change Deschanel

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Sep 19, 2011) Do a Google search on the word “adorable,” you will very quickly — currently only 12 items down — come across the name Zooey Deschanel.

“I don’t know if I’m adorable,” Deschanel demurred, reddening, when the point was made recently at the press launch of her new sitcom, New Girl (premiering Tuesday night at 9 on Fox and Citytv).

“I don’t think of myself that way, but I will take the compliment.”

And so she takes it . . . adorably. “My mom told me when I get compliments to cover my ears,” Deschanel said, covering her ears. “But thank you for saying that.

“I mean . . . I’m sorry. I’m so embarrassed now.”

“You are adorable,” reiterated Dave Finkel, one of the New Girl producers.

It was more than she can take. “Stop, stop! No, no, no, no, no. Now I’m really flustered.”

“Adorably flustered,” quickly countered Finkel. Now he was just being mean.

At least, as mean as it is possible to be to Deschanel. She’s just so . . . you know.

Up till now, Deschanel’s indisputable adorability has been most evident on the big screen, in movies like Almost Famous, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and, most significantly, the indie hit (500) Days of Summer.

Tuesday night she follows big sister Emily Deschanel of Bones into the lead of her own Fox series — indeed, the entire family seems to be taking over the tube, with Emily’s husband, David Hornsby, crossing over from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to produce, write and star in his own new show, How to Be a Gentleman, on CBS.

(Technically, another generation of Deschanel has now debuted on Bones, in the form of pregnant Emily’s real-life baby bump, but we digress . . .).

It took very little convincing for the younger Deschanel (Zooey, not the baby) to make the long-term commitment to TV.

“I felt like, you know, they don’t make as many movies now as they used to,” she says. “I know there’s just been a huge change in the movie industry and I don’t know if I’ve ever read a role this good for myself. This opportunity became really appealing to me because the material’s so great.”

Deschanel plays Jess, a twenty-something schoolteacher who, in the pilot, catches her boyfriend cheating and, broken-hearted and desperate, moves into an apartment she has to share with three guys. Former MuchMusic host Hannah Simone plays her fashion-model best friend.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a part that was as charming and exciting and made me think,” Deschanel bubbled. “Literally, reading the pilot script, I was laughing out loud, having such a good time.

“I have so much fun. And just the thought of doing it for a long time is actually really exciting to me, and I just feel really lucky to be involved in the show.

“And if there’s any character I want to play forever and ever and ever, it’s this one.”

It is, to an extent, a character she has been playing all her life.

“I remember the first time that she came in,” recalled show creator Liz Meriwether. “I remember the feeling in the room . . . the second she opened her mouth to do this scene, everybody was like, this is a perfect match of character and actress.

“I thought when I read it,” said Deschanel, “I was like, ‘I obviously need to play this part. This is me.’

“I mean, not actually me, but it is a part of me. A secret part.”

Not so secret. A primary characteristic she shares with her fictional alter ego is the irresistible urge to constantly break out in song.

The difference is, Zooey can sing: she has three albums out as the “she” of the pop duo She & Him.

Jess, not so much.

“She sings when she doesn’t know what to say,” explained Meriwether.

“Jess is not a singer because she wants to sing (or) because she thinks she’s, like, a great singer,” agreed Deschanel. “It’s just part of how she expresses herself.

“When there’s an awkward moment, she sings. But we kind of play with it. Like, she likes to kind of sort of sing in different styles, depending upon her mood and the moment. Ethel Merman, a little jazz standard, a little heavy metal . . .

“I feel like, actually, they are really well peppered in, the singing moments. Because you don’t want to overdo it. Like you would be singing the whole thing. That would be crazy.”

Yeah, crazy. But adorable.

Two And A Half Men: Premiere Attracts 28 Million Viewers

Source: www.thestar.com - Danny Feld

(Sep 20, 2011) LOS ANGELES — A record audience of 27.7 millionTwo%20and%20a%20Half%20Men%201_small watched Two and A Half Men bury Charlie Sheen and introduce new star Ashton Kutcher in an all-time series high audience for the lucrative CBS comedy.

After months of headlines following Sheen’s bitter exit from the most-watched comedy on U.S. television, Americans tuned in Monday in bumper numbers to see the funeral of Sheen’s womanizing bachelor character Charlie Harper, according to viewership figures from audience tracker Nielsen.

The figure was more than double the audience for the 2010 season opener and more than any episode in the show’s first eight seasons with Sheen in the starring role.

Monday’s season premiere of Two and A Half Men crushed the opening of Dancing With the Stars on rival ABC despite a celebrity cast that gave viewers their first glimpse of the ballroom contest’s first transgender contestant, Chaz Bono, and TV legal analyst Nancy Grace both doing the cha cha.

Early Nielsen figures showed that 18.4 million people watched the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars —a 24 percent drop from last year’s opening show.

Reviews for Kutcher’s debut on Two and a Half Men, playing a heartbroken Internet billionaire with a penchant for walking around nude, were kind and suggested that the series—a cash cow for both CBS and program makers Warner Bros television—was far from dead.

“Kutcher’s performance was good, nearly as poker-faced fine as Sheen’s was ... Kutcher will probably prove just as skilled,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker.

TV Guide’s Matt Roush said that judging by first impressions the revamped Men will “will survive both Charlies just fine for at least a little while longer.”

The Los Angeles Times called the premiere “a promising beginning” adding that “Kutcher brings a softness to a series that could be brittle and sour, misanthropic and misogynistic, and temperamentally middle-aged.”

Sheen had been the highest-paid actor on U.S. television before being fired in March after an insulting tirade against the show’s creators and producers that followed months of partying and attempts at rehab.

Sheen and Warner Bros are said to be close to a settlement of the actor’s $100 million lawsuit over his firing. Sheen has also made a number of contrite appearances in the past week, including delivering an awkward mea culpa at the Primetime Emmy Awards show Sunday.

Ex-Geffen Chairman Ron Fair on Judging 'Cover Me Canada' TV Show

Source:  www.billboard.com – By Karen Bliss, Toronto


(September 13, 2011) Former Geffen chairman
Ron Fair has beenRon%20Fair_small recruited for a Canadian television show "Cover Me Canada" in which eight artists perform classic Canadian cover songs each week. The 30-year music industry vet, who discovered Christina Aguilera, oversaw and produced The Pussycat Dolls and suggested Fergie to The Black Eyed Peas, has been involved in TV before, namely the "Pussycat Dolls Present" series and the recent Israeli show "Living In La La Land." For "Cover Me Canada," Fair's fellow judges are New Kids On The Block's Jordan Knight and R&B-pop singer Deborah Cox. For the record, two of his favourite Canadian songs are Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" and The Guess Who's "Undun."

Billboard.biz: How did you come to be a judge on a Canadian music talent competition?
Ron Fair: When I was chairman of Geffen the last 10 years working at Interscope, I became very good friends with Jeremy Summers, my counterpart at Universal Canada, and Sarah Scott [producer, Temple Street Productions], who is married to Jeremy, was head of business affairs. She has since moved on. She called me up and wanted to know if I would be interested in this position because I have somewhat of a track record in Canada. Our show 'Girlicious,' the second season of the Pussycat Dolls show, had a lot of traction in Canada, so I was somewhat familiar to the Canadian television audience. At the same time, I think that CBC [Television] and Sarah were interested in having one of the judges have an overtly international perspective and I was fortunate enough to fill that roll. I'll be commuting from Los Angeles to Toronto [each week] and I'm also going to be sticking around a bit and working on various music projects."

For Universal Canada?
Not for Universal specifically, but Jeremy and I have talked about, 'Let's do great stuff together while I'm in Canada.' It's a new chapter for me. I have a great relationship with the UK music industry, but never in Canada -- other than having a few hits up there.

What did you think of the show concept?
I love covers. Musical arrangement is one of my passions and this is a really great angle on people's ingenuity on how to take the message and the DNA of the song and reinterpret it.

You're going to be producing the winner's original song. What is the likelihood of making that transition from being a great cover act to being a great original act?
Always comes down to the song. Whoever wins this show, we're going to figure out the mightiest, most appropriate, piece of material and we're going to fulfill the promise of the winner. And we're going to do it in a really record amount of time because part of the fun of this type of show is there's so much emotional investment in the winner -- from the point of view of the public -- that when the right song comes quickly after the finale, it can change the life of that artist. My goal is whomever wins, if they have a song that's not all the way there, we'll get it all the way there, quickly, passionately and have a smash right away.

The A&R world has changed so drastically since the Idol franchise began. Recent stats show that the top 3 TV shows in 2010/2011 for the 18 to 49 demo were music-related, "Idol" and "The Voice." Where does this leave the labels in terms of A&R?
That's probably a whole other article. I was fortunate to find the great artists that I did without the benefit of the Internet or television. There are a lot of windows that open where artists can step through and become noticed and have careers. There are artists like Lady Gaga who resonate in such a huge way and there are hundreds of others that aren't as fortunate, but they do get heard. The fact that the television shiny floor music competition show has brought in a wave of artists in the past few artists, it doesn't change the dynamic of A&R where somebody can come in with torn jeans and a hole in their shoe and turn out to be the next Bob Marley, whether they're on TV or not.

L.A. Reid is going to be on "The X Factor" too. People behind the scenes are now getting a taste of celebrity.
I have a funny line for that, which is 'I'm the real cop. I'm not the guy who plays the cop on TV.' My life's work is in a recording studio with an artist and a song and beat and an idea and a lyric and a guitar player and it will always be that. What's fun about doing something like this is I'm at a place in my life, and at an age where I consider this almost like teaching, where I want to give back. I want to speak about songs. I want to chop it up and analyze music and break it into little fragments. I'm kind of like a vegematic of music, slicing and dicing and analyzing.

How has not being at a label allowed you to do things you didn't before?
It's only been about 90 days since I left the position of chairman of Geffen Records. The label is an idea; it's not necessarily a structure.  Part of what the music industry is going through right now is 'What's the relevance of record companies in a time when you don't need physical distribution and not all music appears on the radio?' It's a great time for music and I'm emboldened by the technology and by the way that people love the music and things like Spotify. In Israel, I just saw something called TuneWiki, which is an amazing application. I've never seen anything like it. You can actually have the lyrics to a Beatles song playing in Chinese on a handheld device. So whether or not I return to the label or go it alone and forge my own business, it's an incredible time in music.

What is your ideal next position?
The job that I had was a great fit. My ideal next position is to be in a situation where I get a crazy idea -- whether it be a song, an artist, a teddy bear, a musical toy, it doesn't matter -- to be able to bring musical ideas and innovation to fruition all the way.

Would that have to be a tech company or could it be at a label?
After 30 years of being at major labels, that's the environment that I know the best. I can be of great value wherever I am, but it's all the stuff that I'm figuring out right now.

Your bio says you're "currently in negotiations for a high-ranking position with an international major music corporation."
I am, but that was an internal thing. I don't think it's for the story.

What were the circumstances that led to your leaving Geffen?
That's a little bit off the subject here -- 'Cover Me Canada.' I'd probably like to treat that in a different manner.  When I'm ready, we can address that.

Sheen’s Death And Rebirth On Same Night

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Sep 18, 2011) They come to bury Charlie Sheen, not to praise him.

I suspect it’s probably too little too late, but Monday night is all about Charlie Sheen’s redemption. Even more so the lead-up to Monday, with Sheen making yet another round of talk-show appearances, this time to mitigate and recant the manic, vitriolic spewing of several months past.

The time has come for the fallen sitcom superstar to pay the public piper. The all-star Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen, simulcast here on Comedy Network at 10 p.m., promises to rake the ostensibly reformed bad boy over his own, self-ignited coals.

Mind you, a lot of the best bits have been circulating around the interweb for days. But there’s much more to come from the eclectic dais, from ingenuously irreverent emcee Seth “Family Guy” MacFarlane and go-to roastmaster Jeff Ross to the likes of Mike Tyson and William Shatner (whose own roast five years ago set the bar for barbs).

Sheen gamely takes a few shots at himself in some pretaped spoof spots, notably an Apocalypse Now parody featuring his dad and primary apologist, Martin.

In comedy, timing is everything, and what better time to savage Sheen than an hour after the debut of the first Charlie-less Two and a Half Men, on CBS and CTV Monday night at 9?

Of course, no one has seen any of that pivotal first episode in advance, aside from the new, also widely Internet-circulated opening credits. But it’s pretty apparent from the off-the-set scuttlebutt that it will be as much about maligned producer Chuck Lorre’s revenge as it will be Ashton Kutcher’s debut as the new housemate, an Internet billionaire with a broken heart.

Early leaks suggest a funereal opening, with the explanation that the Charlie character had been killed by a runaway train; the phrase “meat explosion” has been bandied about. Gee, no residual rancour there. Or maybe it’s just wish fulfilment. Take your pick: It will not be pretty.

And neither will the roasting Sheen will have to mutely endure, like a rotisserie chicken awaiting its fate, to be quartered and served up at a Swiss Chalet.

GETTING LEI’D It might be simpler to list all the actors who aren’t appearing on Hawaii Five-0 this season than it would be to list the ones who are.

The sexed-up tropical crime-drama remake, which starts its second season Monday night, has been issuing updates for weeks on the ever-growing guest cast list:

Terry O’Quinn, returning to Hawaii for a reunion with his old Lost island-mate, H5-0 regular Daniel Dae Kim, will play Lt. Commander Joe White, team leader Steve McGarrett’s former Navy SEAL superior. The season debut brings him in to help spring McGarrett from jail and he’ll apparently be sticking around for a while.

Wonder if his old Lost condo is still available?

Greg Grunberg will reunite with his Heroes co-star Masi Oka, also now an H5-0 regular (and a very funny one), as an Immigration and Customs agent investigating the death of a colleague.

Autumn Reeser, who briefly acquired superpowers on the late, unlamented No Ordinary Family, shows up in a possibly recurring role as a potential love interest for Scott Caan’s Danno. So much for the ex-wife.

Celebrity Rehab repeat offender Tom Sizemore will apparently recur this season as an Internal Affairs weasel after McGarrett. Though you would think that by this point Sizemore would be uninsurable, in a world where Charlie Sheen is still even alive anything is possible (I wasn’t invited to the roast, so consider this my shot).

Richard T. Jones (Sarah Connor Chronicles) joins the cast as the new governor, replacing Jean Smart, whose character Sizemore suspects was killed by McGarrett.

Annie Wersching, who had such a rough go of it on two seasons of 24, will drop in to play a murder victim’s sister . . . and her suspected murderer.

Meredith Monroe (Dawson’s Creek, Criminal Minds) will also play victim/suspect as a woman who rips off her wealthy husband and then gets herself kidnapped and held for ransom.

I am particularly thrilled about the upcoming crossover between H5-0 and the underrated NCIS: Los Angeles, with Daniela Ruah as Kensi Blye visiting the island to help out on a case.

All of this is welcome news for second-generation Hawaii Five-0 fans: the uneven first season started and ended well, but faltered so badly around the middle it often seemed like the scripts had been written in crayon.

This year, in the unlikely event it ever gets that bad again, at least we’ll having something pleasant to look at besides those fabulous airborne camera pans across the lush Hawaiian landscape.

Kathy Bates: Playing Lawyer Harry Korn 'Has Been A Wonderful Pretend For Me'

Source:  www.globeandmail.com – By Andrew Ryan

(September 13, 2011) Shifting from the big screen to TV has worked
Kathy%20Bates_small out brilliantly for Kathy Bates. The Oscar-winner currently stars on the legal drama Harry's Law, which has already earned her an Emmy nomination for best actress.

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Bates majored in theatre at Southern Methodist University before moving to New York to pursue acting. Following a stint on the daytime soap The Doctors, she moved to the Broadway stage and earned a Tony nomination in 1983 for the Pulitzer-winning play 'night, Mother.

Bates spent several years playing guest characters on network shows such as Cagney & Lacey, St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law before her career took a leap with the 1990 film Misery. Her portrayal of the obsessive literary fan Annie Wilkes earned her both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. She followed up with roles in the features Fried Green Tomatoes, Dolores Clairborne and Titanic. Bates also earned Oscar nominations for her work in Primary Colors and About Schmidt. She tested the television waters last year as the ruthless corporate boss Jo Bennett on The Office.

Launched in January, Harry's Law was created by TV auteur David E. Kelley and casts Bates as the indomitable Harriet "Harry" Korn, a former patent lawyer who literally opens her own storefront law practice -in a shoe store. Bates spoke to us from Los Angeles last week.

Does the fact that Harry's Law earned several Emmy nominations - based on only 12 episodes - give you momentum going into this season?

Absolutely. It was a real surprise and I realize that it means people aren't just watching the show to see me, they're seeing the other characters on the show as well. And as you say, we just had the 12 episodes. I'm hoping this year we'll have a chance to do a back nine and stick around for a while.

How does Harry differ from other roles you've played?

I love playing a character who's blunt, who's irritable, who doesn't get along with everybody, who doesn't make any secret of her feelings, and yet at the same time she's complex. She has that ability that we all wish we had to say - in the moment, eloquently and forcefully - exactly what's on her mind. It's fun to be able to play someone with that almost superhuman ability to express themselves that way.

Is she a role model for women in the legal profession?

Certainly she's a woman who speaks her mind and stands up for causes she believes are right. Harry speaks eloquently in the courtroom, and she's smart. She's made her own way in the law world, which is very difficult for women. She's given a lot for her profession.

How does the production of a TV show compare to work on a feature film?

My biggest challenge is learning lines every day. It takes up a lot of time and energy and focus. You just make peace with that and realize it comes with the job. And not just learning the lines, but absorbing and digesting them so that the lines disappear and Harry takes their place. I'm not complaining, but it is quite a workout physically, mentally, emotionally, to be ready to work every day at 7:30 a.m. I'm not a morning person at all, so it's a challenge for me.

The first season of Harry's Law touched on several sensitive legal issues. Is there more controversy to come?

Our fourth episode is a very interesting case about a young woman charged with homicide because she outed a girl at high school for being gay on her blog. The girl committed suicide and so the young blogger is being charged with her homicide. It's a very timely subject.

There were also some tantalizing hints about Harry's background. Will we learn more this season?

I'm very curious myself about Harry's background. I know she's been married a couple of times and with David you never know whether a prodigal child will show up at some point. David's very much in the driver's seat for the show.

Any chance you'll return to The Office this season?

No, I'm all done. You know, they've got James Spader now. And I think they realized with my schedule with Harry that I just wasn't able to be there as much as I wanted to.

Has making Harry's Law in any way changed your perception of the legal profession?

Well, it certainly has been a wonderful pretend for me. You know, my mother, God rest her, born in 1907, wanted to be a lawyer, but there were so very few choices available to her then. It's a bit of a nostalgic trip for me, imagining what kind of lawyer she would've been, because she was awfully smart and blunt herself. And so I feel like she's the Harry in my life.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Harry's Law returns Sept. 21 on NBC and Global.

Big Bang Theory Explodes, So You Think You Can Dance Canada Fizzles

Source:  www.thestar.com – by: Bill Brioux

(September 14, 2011) It’s not even the new season yet and already The Big Bang Theory is exploding. The CTV/CBS sitcom took the top two spots on the week and powered through a 12-hour Labour Day marathon on the Comedy Network. Canadians just never seem to tire of these nerds.

The news wasn’t as good for So
You Think You Can Dance Canada, which joins Hiccups and Dan For Mayor on CTV’s cancelled CanCon list.

Here’s how most everything played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of Sept. 5 to 11 according to overnight estimates:

MONDAY

CTV celebrated Labour Day with a 90-minute So You Think You Can Dance Canada (817,000), Mike & Molly (620,000) and Castle (649,000).

 A two-hour Bachelor Pad on City drew 589,000 followed by — say it with me — another Murdoch Mysteries repeat (179,000).

Global kept the lights on with In Plain Sight (601,000) followed by House (401,000) and Hawaii FIVE-0 (712,000).

A Big Bang Theory Labour Day marathon on the Comedy Network was a big success. The sitcom scored an incredible 21 half-hours over the half million mark - almost an entire season’s worth - peaking with 725,000 viewers at 8:30. Less effective were marathons of Pawn Stars at History (peaking at 377,000), House Hunters on HGTV (290,000) and Diners/Drive-ins on Food (190,000).

There were plenty of sports on this holiday Monday, including Edmonton/Calgary (726,000) and Montreal/Hamilton (523,000) on TSN and Jays/Red Sox (523,000) on Sportsnet. Haven remained at 209,000 on Showcase.

CBC clung to Little Mosque (311,000), 18 to Life (189,000) and Being Erica (269,000). Midsomer Murders (243,000) leads all shows at TVO.

TUESDAY

City took top show of the night honours with a two-hour America’s Got Talent (1,258,000). That only left one other hour of prime for another Murdoch Mysteries repeat (230,000). Does Yannick Bisson get paid extra every time one of these things airs?

Global stayed strong with NCIS (1,196,000), NCIS: Los Angeles (1,183,000) and Combat Hospital (1,210,000).

CTV had a quiet Tuesday before the new season kicks in with a repeat of The Listener (613,000) followed by the finale of Take the Money and Run (596,000) and CSI (887,000).

Give it up, Space. History is by far Canada’s most-watched non-sports specialty channel with another solid night of Pawn Stars (426,000, 549,000) and American Pickers (372,000). Jays and Red Sox drew 488,000 on Sportsnet.

CBC went Mercer (457,000), InSecurity (201,000), Pillars of the Earth (208,000).

WEDNESDAY                         

An estimated 402,000 witnessed the debacle that was The Gemini Awards (CBC). Fortunately, only 113,000 25- to 54-year-olds will have to scrub the memory of it out of their eye sockets.

Last year’s Geminis, which aired in-season (October) on Global opposite a killer Hockey Night in Canada Leafs/Canucks tilt, drew 363,000.

The Geminis were thumped this year by Global’s Big Brother (1,674,000). I wonder if folks at the private network took some satisfaction from that. Even the Canada Sings tally (480,000) topped the annual CBC…er…Canadian TV industry salute.

City’s America’s Got Talent (1,114,000) slipped another notch. Minute to Win It (448,000) and the season finale of Murdoch Mysteries (353,000) were both also down week-to-week.

The Listener drew 694,000 in repeats on CTV followed by a big audience for Criminal Minds (1,415,000) and CSI (1,093,000).

Again, look at History: Pawn Stars at 7:30 (301,000) followed by back-to-back American Restoration (512,000, 580,000), Ice Road Truckers (387,000) and Swamp People (344,000).

In its second week back, Royal Pains dropped to a still respectable 202,000 viewers on Showcase.

                                                                                 

THURSDAY

Canada got its geek on as back-to-back reruns of The Big Bang Theory topped the ratings for the week with 1,914,000 and 1,916,000 CTV viewers. Back-to-back repeats of The Mentalist were watched by a further 1,173,000 and 1,089,000.

CTV’s National News isn’t doing too badly a week after Lloyd left; Lisa Laflamme pulled 1,455,000 at 11 Thursday.

Strong numbers again for Global’s Thursday Big Brother (1,574,000) and Rookie Blue (1,465,000); a Rookie repeat at 8 arrested 940,000.

Blue Jays/Baltimore batted 681,000 on Sportsnet.

CBC’s Nature of Things did 294,000 with a repeat of their 50th anniversary special. A Doc Zone look at 9/11 pulled 377,000. Holmes Inspection was at 212,000 this week on HGTV. Warehouse 13 dropped a ton in Week 2 to 183,000 on Showcase.

FRIDAY

CTV’s Friday went Flashpoint (956,000), CSI: New York (1,053,000), Blue Bloods (886,000).

Calgary/Edmonton was the big draw over on TSN’s CFL coverage (727,000). Blue Jays vs. Baltimore drew 507,000 on Sportsnet. 

Ron James did a weaker than usual 263,000 on CBC at 8 followed by Men With Brooms (138,000) and a look at the last days of Osama bin Laden on the fifth estate (599,000).

Global and City also air programs on Fridays.

SATURDAY          

Toronto/B.C. drew 521,000 CFL fans on TSN. Blue Jays batted 457,000 on Sportsnet. The finale of Torchwood drew 406,000 viewers on Space. Doctor Who slipped for the second week in a row to 314,000.

SUNDAY            

The So You Think You Can Dance Canada season finale — which turns out to be the series finale — closed to 903,000 viewers. The demise of this show should not come as a shock. Ratings have slid year to year and, this summer, week to week, with numbers in the 800s for a show that used to routinely pull 1.2, 1.3 million.

Comparing overnight estimates year to year, the 2010 finale drew 1,148,000. CTV’s PR dept. says the total take was actually 1,236,000. That’s a 30 per cent drop for a series that does not repeat.

The two-hour Global special 9/11: Ten Years Later drew 1,320,000.

It was a big day of football on TSN, starting with an afternoon Hamilton/Montreal tilt (356,000) followed by Saskatchewan/Winnipeg in the second half of a CFL doubleheader (837,000). The NFL Sunday Night Football premiere between the Jets and Cowboys, a record-breaking draw Stateside, did 506,000 on TSN.

Early afternoon NFL football on CTV drew 471,000 fans. Sportsnet tackled 140,000 with Seahawks vs. 49ers.

Heartland repeated to 399,000 on CBC, followed by the movie Diverted (476,000)

American Pickers on History picked up 523,000. Lost Girl is becoming quite a story at Showcase, finding 358,000. Covert Affairs followed with 278,000.

X Marks The Sweet Spot For Simon Cowell

Source:  www.thestar.com – By Rob Salem

(Sep 16, 2011) He glared down, smugly, as only Simon Cowell can,Paula%20Abdul%20kisses%20the%20cheek%20of%20Simon%20Cowell%20as%20Nicole%20Scherzinger_small from a projection screen mounted high above us, a giant smirking media deity beneficently granting audience.

Cowell was beamed in by satellite — he would not say from where — to answer questions from critics at the fall-season network previews about his new TV talent show,
The X Factor, which makes its two-hour debut Wednesday night at 8 on Fox and CTV.

“Now, I know there’s a lot of speculation as to where Simon is,” offered Steve Jones, British model-turned-presenter, whom Cowell has brought stateside as X Factor host.

“I can reveal he’s in one of three places,” Jones cracked, “his lair on the moon, aboard the Death Star or in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. We’re not a hundred per cent sure.”

Cowell, on the other hand, is absolutely sure of himself: the new X Factor, his latest exported U.K. format, is going to blow away the other competition.

Which would of course be American Idol, the blockbuster TV singing contest over which he presided for nine hit seasons, all but one alongside his nemesis muse, Paula Abdul.

When Cowell left, a year after Abdul, Idol was already losing viewers and was expected to lose even more in their absence. But then along came the even odder couple of Jennifer Lopez and Steve Tyler, and a kinder, gentler Idol was born.

X Factor, if the preview clips are any indication, would seem to be a return to a more contentious kind of competition.

“Well,” Cowell hedges, “we didn’t make an intentional effort to be mean. That’s just in us. You know, it’s just what happens on the show. But we didn’t want to make a deliberate, you know, ‘They’re a warm show, so we’re a cold show.’

“And I genuinely do believe that when people see this show, it doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before.”

Anything except . . . the old American Idol.

Once again, we have bickering Simon and Paula, buffered by their more moderate counterparts, veteran record executive L.A. Reid and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.

“It was kind of like mommy and daddy had a trial separation,” offers new host Jones. “Now they are back together, but they still argue all the time.

“It’s tough for us kids.”

“We’re an old, married couple,” Abdul confirms.

“More like The Exorcist II,” counters Cowell.

And here we go again.

“It’s been three years since we sat next to each other,” Abdul continues, blithely undeterred, “and Simon is a completely different species on this show. He’s turning into me.”

The expression on Cowell’s projected face — that of someone who has just swallowed a large hairy bug — pretty much says it all.

Still, some things, he insists, have changed. “I wouldn’t have made the show unless I thought it was going to be different.

“We see this as a game-changer. We’re going to try and change the rules. We’re going to try and find a completely different kind of contestant. Our job as judges is to find people who’ve got star quality and turn them into stars.”

And this is different . . . how?

Let’s try to remember here that, with very few exceptions, the only actual “stars” to emerge from American Idol are often those who didn’t win.

X Factor would seem to be specifically structured to more effectively exploit that inevitability.

“I’ve never witnessed so much talent,” Abdul gushes. “In each of the four categories there are stars, not just one winner. There are stars that are going to emerge. I truly believe that.

“This show is completely feeling different. It’s on a very grand scale. It’s an epic feeling.”

In other words, size really does matter.

“You’re going to see a scale of production you’ve never seen on any of these shows before,” boasts Cowell.

“Not just Idol, any show. You don’t enter something for the silver medal. You do it because you want to be No. 1. And for the next few months, we’re going to shove everything at this to try and make it the best show on TV.”

Audio: Jenifer Lewis on Being ‘Playboy Club’s’ Mother Hen

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Cherie Saunders

(Sep 19, 2011) *When the cast of NBC’s “The Playboy Club” faced a room full of TV critics in Beverly Hills last month, cast member Jenifer Lewis took the lead in defending the series against allegations that the show – set in 1963 – glorifies the exploitation of women.

One of the clear talking points the cast used to defend the show was that the bunnies are not exploited, but rather “empowered.”

“Listen very carefully,” Lewis snapped at critics. “You take my character Pearl. Pearl is the seamstress in The Playboy Club. She’s the mother hen to these girls. They come to me with their problems. And Pearl herself is representing many African-American women at the time who were coming off welfare, who were coming out of the domestic word into empowering themselves, and educating themselves, and getting jobs. So, yes, the sex will be there, as it is everywhere, in every show. But it is about these women. It’s character-driven.  So I just think that it’s going to be fun. And I think that I’m going to be fabulous in it.”

When EURweb caught up with Lewis later for more details about Pearl, the veteran Broadway and film actress told us just how seriously she takes this role.

“You do as much research as you can, everything from the hair, to the makeup, to the wardrobe,” she said. “I’ve been looking in Ebony magazines for the look and the style and how they were interviewed in those days and what they had to say. And of course, what was going on historically in the country, that all impacts how you deliver a line.”

(Top L-R) Actors David Krumholtz, Leah Renee, Naturi Naughton, Jenna
jenifer-lewis-cast-of-playboy-club_small Dewan-Tatum, Wes Ramsey and Jenifer Lewis (Bottom L-R) Executive Producer Chad Hodge, actors Eddie Cibrian and Amber Heard and Executive Producers Ian Biederman and Francie Calfo speak during 'The Playboy Club ' panel during the NBC Universal portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 1, 2011 in Beverly Hills

Watch Jenifer Lewis and co-star Naturi Naughton in the season premiere of “The Playboy Club” at 10 p.m. Monday (Sept. 19) on NBC.

In the bonus audio below, Lewis tells us how her outspoken character deals with the limits of African American women at the dawn of the civil rights movement, and whether the outside world of racial discrimination ever impacted Pearl’s willingness to speak her mind inside of the Playboy Club.

  The Playboy Club's Jenifer Lewis on playing Pearl at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement by CherieNic

TV TIDBITS

CBS Puts a Lock on Martin Lawrence

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(September 16, 2011) *
Martin Lawrence is returning to the smallmartin-lawrence-2_small screen. The actor, who has been busy doing feature film projects including “Big Momma’s House” and its sequels, has inked a talent deal with CBS and its studio, CBS Television Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The deal calls for the network and studio to develop a show for the comedian to star in. A series TV gig would mark Lawrence’s first regular small screen work since he starred as Martin Payne – and assorted other characters – on Fox’s Martin. His big-screen credits also include the Bad Boys films, Death at a Funeral and Wild Hogs.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Six Modern-Dance Pioneers Strut Their Stuff, Beautifully

Source:  www.globeandmail.com – Paula Citron
Toronto%20Heritage%20Dance_small
(September 16, 2011) Call it the attack of the modern-dance geriatrics.

Toronto Heritage Dance is presenting a concert of new and old choreography by Patricia Beatty (age 75), David Earle (72), Peter Randazzo (69), Danny Grossman (69), Lawrence Gradus (75) and Terrill Maguire (64).

The company was co-founded by Beatty and Nenagh Leigh (68) to present modern dance. Beatty is a founder of Toronto Dance Theatre along with Earle and Randazzo. Leigh presented her modern dance series Spring Rites for over a decade. Grossman had his own company for over 30 years. Gradus was artistic director of both Montreal’s Entre-Six and Ottawa’s Theatre Ballet of Canada. Maguire directed the Inde Festival of New Dance and Music.

These pioneers have seen postmodern dance throw technique to the winds, complicate choreography with text and multimedia, and generally convert dance into a contemporary “anything goes” art form. An Evening of Chamber Dance is not, however, an exercise in nostalgia.

As Beatty carefully explains in her program notes, the raison d’être behind the concert is to ascertain whether modern dance still has relevance. It is an art form anchored in technique. It is dance expressed through economy of movement. The risk-taking comes from the dancer’s body being exposed in space. At its heart, modern dance is always about the human condition. The dancer is the dance.

Beatty answers her own question with her exquisite new solo The High Heart, performed by the equally exquisite Danielle Baskerville to stately music by Arvo Part. Costumed in a gorgeous red dress by Kim Fioca, Baskerville negotiates through vintage Beatty movement of carefully crafted control.

Always looking off to the side as if lured by something, the Junoesque Baskerville dominates the space. Her head, arms and legs are always perfectly placed. She moves with lyrical precision through arches, bends and swoops as if her body were made of finely wrought steel. This is a woman of dignified maturity in all her glory. When she exits the stage, trailing a long red sash in her wake, the world is hers to command.

Maguire’s elegant and subtle Pond Life ll, accompanied by pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, is set to a score by the late composer Ann Southam. The music is a reflective series of gentle piano notes and chords.

Maguire’s choreography of isolated movements reflects the tranquillity. In her long stretches, deep pliés, undulating fingers and vibrating legs, she captures the graceful aquatic life in a pond, a metaphor for the peace we all seek.

The other two new works take huge chances because they swim against the current of contemporary dance’s sophisticated aesthetic. One is emotional, and one walks the fine line between serious and whimsy.

Grossman’s Cut reunites two of his company dancers, Eddie Kastrau and Meredith Thompson. The choreographer has always worn his emotions on his sleeve, and this dark piece pulsates with angst. The couple, garbed in black, and performing to the melancholy music of Ross Edwards and the edgy soundscape of Darren Copeland, are in deep grief.

The push and pull movement is fierce and dramatic, portraying the agony of the soul. They cling and they separate. He stands alone with clenched fists. She huddles in another corner. The shocking conclusion gives the title its meaning. With a knife, he slashes a wrist, and is cradled by the woman, whom we realize, is a metaphor for death.

Gradus’s Castaway, a solo for Kastrau, and set to Debussy’s impressionistic sea music, portrays a man washed ashore after a shipwreck. The opening image has him lying against a piece of driftwood. Danger lurks in the form of a motorized shark fin that circles the man. A large white balloon is rolled in and, perhaps, signifies life.

The first instinct is to laugh, particularly at the balloon. Kastrau performs with it like a gymnastics routine. The shark fin is ridiculously overlarge. The movement for Kastrau, however, is suitably energetic and spasmodic, evoking a man clinging to life and struggling to survive. Nonetheless, is Gradus having us on, or is he serious?

The remounts are all famous and gorgeous. Randazzo’s Pavane (1977), performed to Ravel’s lyrical score by Georgia Simms and Anh Nguyen, is sumptuous living sculpture evoking Greek statuary. Earle’s Baroque Suite Duet (1972), which captures the stately formality of Corelli’s music, is elegantly performed by Julia Garlisi and Nguyen.

And finally, Earle’s magnificent Miserere (1981), a Canadian modern-dance classic, embodies the agony and the ecstasy of Christ’s earthly mission explicit in Allegri’s reverential music for the mass. Earle’s passionate movement recreates the Stations of the Cross and other religious images through the dancers’ eloquently, entangled bodies. Baskerville, Nguyen, Simms, Michael Sean Marye and Suzette Sherman perform with majesty. And kudos to Sherman, who at 59, is still going strong.

In short, well-crafted dance that is beautifully performed will always have relevance because it glorifies the art.

An Evening of Chamber Dance

Toronto Heritage Dance
Choreography by Patricia Beatty, David Earle, Peter Randazzo, Danny Grossman, Lawrence Gradus and Terrill Maguire
At Winchester Street Theatre in Toronto on Thursday

Toronto Heritage Dance continues until Sept. 18.

A Joyous Walk Up The Aisle And Beyond

Source:  www.globeandmail.com – Paula Citron

Machina Nuptialis
CORPUS
At the Casa Loma Stables In Toronto on Tuesday

(September 14, 2011) Corpus is throwing the biggest wedding in town
Machina%20Nuptialis_small. In fact, there are three weddings taking place simultaneously.

The Toronto-based dance-theatre company that is usually touring the world has returned to its home base to premiere
Machina Nuptialis, conceived and directed by artistic director David Danzon.  While not as rich in satire and subtext as other Corpus offerings, this show about weddings, subtitled A Whirlwind of Brides and Grooms, is still a lot of fun.

The venue is the carriage house in the stables complex of Casa Loma. Corpus has created a theatre in the round with chairs lining the walls.

In the centre is set designer Jacques Fortier’s orange and black kiosk creation. The six-sided wooden structure with 12 narrow doors is reminiscent of a European circus. There are platforms outside the doors, and hatches in the roof that open up from the inside.

The kiosk also rotates in a circle, courtesy of Danzon. Dressed as a French workman from an earlier age, in cap, vest and rolled shirtsleeves, Danzon uses a retractable lever to push the kiosk around. Overhead is lighting designer Kimberley Purtell’s huge chandelier made up of swaged lines of bulbs that cover the entire ceiling.

We first meet the brides and grooms as they step out of the kiosk doors, brides first (Monica Dottor, Amy Hampton and Emily Poirier) in costume designer Gulay Cokgezen’s short white taffeta dresses. The grooms in tails (Indrit Kasapi, Andrew Robinson and Timothy Spronk) are holding the long veils.

And so the weddings begin. In the following hour, the couples get married, switch partners, kiss, dance, fight, and make up, not to mention strip off their clothes as honeymoon hormones rage.

There is also audience participation galore. We are, after all, the friends and relations who dance at the wedding, pose for pictures with the happy couples, drink wine, clink our glasses to make the brides and grooms kiss, give gifts and receive favours (candied almonds).

Corpus is known for its physical images, and there are many visual delights. For example, the grooms travel from bride to bride, giving each a post-ceremony kiss, when suddenly, through a cunning change of movement, there are two male partners and two female partners, who also kiss.

The kiosk has holes in the walls, and there is a very funny sequence where single legs of both brides and grooms poke out and perform cancan steps. The assumption here is that these naked, dancing legs are a symbol of the joy of sex.

At another time, as Danzon moves the kiosk around at a dizzying pace, we get a whirligig of legs, arms and faces glimpsed through the various peep holes. It’s a clever metaphor, the brides and grooms depicted as scattered body parts, a deconstruction of a single life before becoming part of a united one.

The various dance/physical theatre sequences, devised by Danzon and Susie Burpee, cover a wide range of emotions. A formal, nervous minuet as they marry, an awkward, robotic first dance, a bored and desultory Charleston number indicating the bloom is off the rose, and a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Danzon’s clever soundtrack is made up of a potpourri of music, sometimes descriptive, sometimes satiric. Obviously, there couldn’t be a wedding without Mendelssohn, but it is the reverential Ave Maria that accompanies the fight. There are also hymns, waltzes, French accordion and classical music, and pounding disco rhythms.

In one fell swoop, Corpus presents a lifetime of experience that is implicit in the word “marriage.”

Machina Nuptialis continues until Sunday.

Rex Harrington Talks Tosca Cafe And So You Think You Can Dance Canada

Source:  www.globeandmail.com – By Marsha Lederman

(September 11, 2011) In Tosca Cafe, having its Canadian premiere at Rex%20Harrington_smallTheatre Calgary this week, history sidles up to the bar. Based on The Tosca Project at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) and set in that city's historic watering hole, the show takes the audience back in time from the end of the First World War to the computer age, with a score ranging from Puccini to Hendrix. Over the decades, the real-life Tosca Cafe has attracted many luminaries, political and cultural; among them, Rudolf Nureyev. The celebrated ballet star is just one of many characters Canadian dance star Rex Harrington takes on in this theatre/dance/musical hybrid. On a leave of absence from his role as artist-in-residence at the National Ballet of Canada, Harrington has been in rehearsals for weeks - in between guest judging So You Think You Can Dance Canada, which had its finale Sunday night.

We're talking Friday. The SYTYCDC finale is Sunday. Our conversation is running on Monday. So we obviously can't discuss the outcome, but any thoughts on the performers this season?

I especially am more fond of contemporary dancers because that's what I'm closest to. And I find that a contemporary dancer usually has a bit of an advantage because we have that base you can work off and do all the other stuff. And this season, I just loved Melissa [Mitro]. She's still in there and I'm hoping that she'll win. And Jordan [Clark] was beautiful. And I loved Joey [Arrigo], but he went home early. Sometimes the votes come in and you just don't understand what Canada's looking at.

I understand that Tosca Cafe has transformed somewhat from the San Francisco production.

It changes every day. What's so interesting working with actors and a director is that as dancers, we learn the choreography and we just do it. We don't really ask a lot of questions unless you form them yourself and you do what you need to do. But as actors, they challenge the director and there's a discussion about why they come in the room or why they cross over. I think all dancers doing story ballet should work with actors. It's a different process, but it's much more based on reality and finding the moment [in which] everything rings true.

Was Nureyev influential to you in your formative years?

When I was younger, when I first started dancing, I had a big thick book of his called The Nureyev Image and I would just pore over those pictures constantly and look at his lines and try to recreate the charisma that he had. He was such a beautiful man. He had such a power on stage. I was in the company when he was still dancing with us and guest starring. And I was in Paris just before he died. I saw him, he was very sick. It was very sad; he was very thin and frail. And I remember going to Hamilton Place, when he should have stopped dancing, and he was doing this tour Nureyev and Friends. And Karen Kain, Veronica Tennant, we all went and what do you say when you go backstage? I think he knew it was time to stop. It's kind of sad to live on your name that long.

Do you dance disco as Nureyev in the show?

He's there in the seventies era and the disco boys come in. And he starts cruising a bit. Then he gets left alone; he gets dissed. I was telling Kyle [Schaefer, fellow cast member]: Don't diss me too hard; you don't want to think I'm that ugly. Nureyev was bisexual, but he was just a sexual being. mean men, women. He had such a charisma about him.

Well, you are Sexy Rexy.

Gotta live up to the name.

Tosca Cafe opens Sept. 16 at Theatre Calgary (previews begin Sept. 13) and runs Oct. 8 - 29 at the Vancouver Playhouse.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Atelier’s Armide To Seduce France

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Sep 19, 2011) If you work in musical theatre, the ultimate accolade isArmide_small to be asked to Broadway.

But if you work in Baroque musical theatre, nothing could be sweeter than an invitation to Versailles.

That’s what happened to Opera Atelier, which presents works from the 17th and 18th century in the style of the period when they were written.

Its production of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s
Armide, which opens in Toronto in April, has been summoned to appear at the Royal Opera House at Versailles in May.

“What is so thrilling is that they came to us,” says Marshall Pynkoski, the company’s co-artistic director. “Although Armide is relatively unknown in North America, it’s a huge part of French cultural patrimony and for them to entrust us with it is a dream for us.”

The company has been to Versailles once before, in 1993, with what Pynkoski calls a “small production of Dido and Aeneas, but this will see us producing at our full capacity.”

It would seem that this production of Armide is living a charmed life; it is already scheduled to spend the summer at New York’s renowned Glimmerglass Festival. Artistic director Francesca Zambello has been a fan ever since she saw Opera Atelier perform at the Houston Grand Opera several years ago.

“That’s the magical thing about touring,” concedes Pynkoski. “You never know who is going to see your work and remember it.”

Opera Atelier has toured widely around the world from the very start (it journeyed to New York City in its second season, 1986-7), but the recent economic climate has made that less possible.

“It’s been five years since our last tour, which was to Korea,” recalls Pynkoski, “and we thought the money had all dried up, but now this happens to revive us again.”

This fall’s production of Don Giovanni (opening in Toronto on Oct. 29) will also tour to Opera Columbus in the U.S. and then lead to a residency at Penn State University.

Pynkoski looks on it all as a reward for his company’s persistence.

“When the going got tough, we were told that we had to retrench, but I said no, consistency is so important, and we pushed and pushed to maintain the level of quality we had been delivering.

“And now, we get to bring our Canadian artists to the home of the king (Louis XIV) who commissioned this very work. It all seems so right.”

Michael Greyeyes: ‘I’m Not Interested In Staging Ethnicity’

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(Sep 20, 2011) Michael Greyeyes has a restless nature. This could greyeyes21r_1321978cl-8_smallaccount for his peripatetic career: He has been a dancer, choreographer, actor, director and university professor.

All of this is taken into account in his epic dance-theatre piece from thine eyes, which opens the DanceWorks season at Toronto’s Enwave Theatre on Thursday. And all of those skills are put to use in the piece’s heavy theme – dealing with moving on from this life into the next.

“Because of Michael’s varied background, he treats the body as an instrument with exciting potential,” DanceWorks producer Mimi Beck says. “His robust movement vocabulary is linked with strong narrative ideas.”

Greyeyes, 44, is a Plains Cree who was raised in Saskatoon. The story
michael-greyeye_1321999cl-4_small of from thine eyes began in the 2008 Cree opera Pimooteewin: The Journey, for which he was both director and choreographer. The opera deals with a trickster and an eagle who visit the land of the dead to bring the spirits back to the land of the living.

He wanted to explore the topic in more detail. “Aboriginals believe that a new consciousness is required for a new journey. We need new eyes if we are to move forward,” he says. “What truth do people see at the moment of their deaths? The title is from the Koran, ‘Lift the veil from thine eyes,’ denoting that new understanding.”

Greyeyes’s dance journey began when he joined his sister’s ballet class when he was 6 – and at the age of 9, he was accepted into the National Ballet School.

The family moved to Toronto so that their son could be a day student. “My parents gave up a lovely home and an ideal life in Saskatoon for a condo in Scarborough,” Greyeyes says. “They had both gone through the residential school system, and they were not going to have their son leave the family.”

But Greyeyes felt that he was “looking for more from dance.

“I had too big a brain for pliés,” he quips.

It was Karen Kain, now the artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, who steered him to Eliot Feld’s company in New York, where he spent three years and met his wife, Nancy Latoszewski.

He became excited about acting when another Feld dancer suggested his name to a company that needed an aboriginal dance choreographed for a play. “I liked the way actors ask questions, and go deep into character, role and intention,” says Greyeyes, who now teaches in the theatre department at York University in Toronto.

The scenes, dialogue and character development for from thine eyes come from playwright, director and dramaturge Yvette Nolan. Of Algonquin descent, Nolan was artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts for eight years.

“The four stories that make up the dance theatre have different age dynamics and emotional states, but all the characters have to come to terms with this life,” Nolan says. “They remember things, which helps them to move on.”

The major characters are a murderous junkie, an abusive husband, a couple who have lost a child and a doctor who works with AIDS patients. Each story has its own elaborate set. The six performers (Michael Caldwell, Luke Garwood, Ceinwen Gobert, Sean Ling, Shannon Litzenberger and Claudia Moore), all carefully chosen by Greyeyes, are both strong dancers and strong actors. None are aboriginal.

The question then becomes: If Greyeyes’s dancers are non-aboriginal, and his choreographic métier is contemporary dance, where does his “Indian-ness” come into play?

His answer, in part, can be found in a scholarly article, Notions of Indian-ness in Contemporary First Nations Dance, that Greyeyes wrote for a conference in 2009. He came to the conclusion that there is no aboriginal dance per se, only dance by aboriginal artists.

“I’m not interested in staging ethnicity. Indian-ness as a concept is evolving and expanding. My Indian-ness is based on indigenous principles like the storytelling tradition,” Greyeyes says. “My theatrical exploration deals with what matters to first nations as a community. Governance, or the way we treat each other, is also important. I may be the director, but everyone has a voice.”

While Greyeyes and Nolan have different aboriginal backgrounds, in the rehearsal room they developed their own cosmology, or set of rules, that sprang naturally out of their joint native existence. “We share the same world view,” Nolan says. “We believe that we are all connected, and responsible for each other. Indian-ness is not just a beads and buckskin show or a powwow. The Indian-ness comes out of us. We don’t leave our Indian-ness at the rehearsal-room door.”

Greyeyes says: “My work embraces what the elders believe and the values I was taught.”

From thine eyes is the first live production in Canada to have its carbon footprint tested. “York University’s theatre department is keenly interested in bringing environmentally sustainable practices into theatre,” Greyeyes explains. “Last year, I was asked if from thine eyes could be used as a pilot project for exploring how to make greener productions.” The set designers have made ecologically sound choices in construction materials, glues and paints, recycled natural fabrics and dyes, and LED lighting technology, he says. “I was very excited by the project.”

From thine eyes runs at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre from Sept. 22 to 24.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Canadian Smartphone App Detects Scams, Zooms To No. 1

Source:  www.thestar.com – Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(September 16, 2011) When Sorin Mihailovici’s scam detector wins over the street-smart people, he’s knows he’s on to something.

On Friday, the numbers confirmed it. The Canadian journalist’s
smartphone application, Scam Detector, loaded with 500 searchable scams, became the top lifestyle app in Canada.

“With the advancement of technology, Internet scams are skyrocketing,” Mihailovici told the Star on Friday. “Everybody is trying to make money out of everything.”

Internet and travel scams draw the most interest, he said.

Type in travel and credit cards, for example, and details come up of this one: you call the pizza joint that left a flyer under your hotel-room door and find yourself giving them your credit-card number to confirm the order.

The result: no pizza and lots of fraudulent credit-card purchases.

“When people travel, they turn their brains off,” said the Romanian-born TV and movie producer. “They’ll tell you the jewellery they bought is real silver and so cheap they couldn’t believe it.”

In New York recently for a conference of mobile-phone-application developers, the OMNI TV journalist from Edmonton found himself walking right into his own app.

“All that I wrote about was happening to me. Guys pretending to be musicians, asking for two bucks’ donation for a CD, then you get the CD home and there is nothing.”

His passion for exposing scams started when a friend lost his life savings to a Nigerian scam, inspiring Mihailovici’s film 419: The Nigerian Scam.

The Scam Detector app breaks down scams into five big categories: Internet, face-to-face, travel, telephone and auto, with each of those defined further into specific groups, such as online auctions.

Ten months of research went into finding and detailing the scams. His training as a journalist helped, he said: not just to be sceptical but also to cross-check sources.

Downloaded in 62 countries, the app (in a free and a 99-cent version) still isn’t making Mihailovici enough money to live on, but sponsors are showing interest in the categories. The next stage comes Oct. 10, when he launches the free online version of Scam Detector.

Gears Of War 3 A Romp Through Familiar Territory

Source:  www.thestar.com – By Raju Mudhar

Gears of War 3
Xbox 360
$59.99
Rated M for Mature.


(Sep 15, 2011) Discussing the nature of sequels is going to get a
workout this videogame season. It’s always a tricky balance, maintaining what made us love a franchise and adding something new. That’s probably the best way to judge the several third instalments that are due this holiday season, and how to approach Gears of War 3, which hits stores on Tuesday.

The world of Gears is literally Sera, a human colony that has been ravaged by the all-encompassing wars over the series three games. With the plethora of shooters out there, they all come in different flavours, and Gears’ taste could best be described as tough, chewy and a little bit cheesy. Its innovation was the duck-and-cover mechanic requiring players to hide, peek out and shoot.

Beyond that, it’s a world of aliens, chainsaws attached to guns, meat shields (using an enemy as a shield), boomshots (rocket launchers) and curb-stomped fallen enemies. One of the hallmarks is giant set pieces, usually featuring huge creatures that the soldiers have to take down. Gears is best when it is a big, dumb action movie of a game and it remains a fun and wild ride, even though there are silly attempts at trying to make us care.

GOW3 starts two years after the last game, after the Gears flooded Sera in hopes of killing their enemies. The result is even bleaker, more barren world, with literal ghost towns filled with ashen remains of humans. The series star, Marcus Fenix, finds out his father is alive and may have concocted a final solution for the war. The game then consists of a road trip littered with fetch quests to rescue the elder Fenix and bring the story of Delta Squad to a close.

The best thing to say is the game remains as polished and balanced as ever. Fighting hordes of enemies, battles remains fun and exhilarating with some new weaponry and baddies. In terms of additions, there’s an underwater level and two new female members of the Gears squad, an attempt to balance the testosterone heaviness of the squad. Gears has always been a dark world, so the appearance of brighter locales near the end of the game is also a welcome addition.

What doesn’t really work are the somewhat ham-fisted attempts at making us care for these characters, exemplified by having Cole Train, a former athlete soldier experience a weird dream sequence near the beginning reliving his former glory days. It’s an attempt to give the character his own moment amidst the chaos, but it’s those similar attempts at depth and emotional heft that fall flat. Some can also be seen coming a mile away.

Another misstep is the obviousness of some of the game, to the point of almost walking you through areas at times. Gears is an exceeding linear game, funnelling players through varying corridors or open areas, where the always requisite firefight will ensues, so it really wasn’t necessary having AI characters — which like most shooter games, have repetitive and increasingly grating dialogue — point out where to go next, which is usually right in front of you.

Beyond that, I felt that the giant set-pieces were a little bit lacking compared to the previous games. (I’ll always remember the giant Riftworm from the previous game.) Gears 3 remains a fun romp but there is probably some mission-creep coming in, demonstrated by some padding — need to get a vehicle going? Oh, we need fuel. And parts. And snacks for the ride. Well, not the last one, but you get the picture.

Despite the quibbles, Gears has everything that made it a bona fide hit and it is an enjoyable ride. But it’s not for making us think. It is a fitting end to Delta Squad’s story, with some sacrifices made, big bugs killed and the lunkhead soldiers shooting and blowing things up real good.

Why Some Ache To Tweet, And Others Couldn’t Care Less

Source:  www.globeandmail.comIvor Tossell

(September 13, 2011) Last night, as we were trying to cook dinner, I asked a lawyer friend why he wasn’t on
Twitter.

He looked up from the laptop he was using as a cookbook with an expression that suggested I might as well have asked him why he hadn’t taken up shuffleboard.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I don’t have any particular desire to know what my friends had for lunch in eight words or less.”

I didn’t even bother to argue. I’ve done that too many times.

This week, the service announced it has 100 million active users – that is, users who log in on a regular basis, not the inflated (and frequently cited) number of users who have ever signed up. It’s a milestone. It’s not the 750 million-plus users that
Facebook boasts, but it’s still an awful lot of people.

Yet as ubiquitous as a mention of Twitter has become, it hasn’t made the leap to actually being ubiquitously used. As much as we hear about it, only a distinct minority of people use it. Perhaps more to the point, it seems like a plurality of people continue to actively begrudge its existence as either a purveyor of inanities or an enemy of thoughtful discourse.

And in the year 2011, that’s kind of remarkable. Twitter has been in existence since 2006, and had become a real cultural force by late 2008. By 2009, it was being credited with a role in the Iranian uprising. By the 2010 World Cup final, people around the world were issuing 7,196 tweets per second, even if most of them were “GOALLLL.” By 2011, Twitter had become a dominant channel for politicians’ public messaging and private parts (paging A. Weiner), a vector for the Arab Spring uprisings, a scapegoat for the London riots, a fount of friendship, fandom and engagement for 100 million people.

And still, wherever the topic comes up, people think that Twitter is a place to find out what people had for lunch. Will it ever rise above this stigma to become a truly commonplace service? Or is Twitter destined to occupy a niche as addiction to few and irritant to many?

The curious thing about the lunch conundrum is that despite the fact that it’s more perception than reality, the company has been either unwilling or unable to shake it off. The truth about Twitter is that you never, ever have to read about someone’s lunch if you don’t want to. Unlike Facebook, where untold millions have been guilted into declaring friendship for childhood acquaintances they’d sooner jettison, on Twitter you follow only people you like. If someone is inane, annoying or unpleasant, out they go. As I’m fond of saying, Facebook is about people you used to know; Twitter is about people you’d like to know better.

Rather than having to mount, at regular intervals, a spirited defence of the technology, most Twitter users would rather point outsiders at the site and say “see for yourself!” Yet Twitter remains painfully obtuse to people who aren’t immersed in it. From the inside out, it’s a rollicking conversation with a hand-picked collection of interesting people. For the first-time visitor, it seems like random noise.

Twitter has done much better in some industries than it has in others. It seems to specialize in fields where influence is traded like a commodity. For instance, a public-relations professional is hardly a public-relations professional unless they have a Twitter account. Journalists, especially the younger ones, are increasingly enmeshed in the medium. Politicians have flocked to it. Arts professionals, musicians, writers, students, celebrities, people who fashion themselves as celebrities, and generically creative types are all a part of the mix. But Twitter has been slower to catch on across the general population.

The reason why might have nothing to do with lunch meat. A recent study from the Harvard Business Review turned up some unsurprising, yet telling statistics about the way the service works. Declaring (perhaps a bit broadly) that “nobody tweets,” the study found that 90 per cent of the content on Twitter comes from the top 10 per cent of users. In fact, the median number of tweets issued by all users is precisely one. The conclusion that many have drawn is that Twitter isn’t a social network at all, but a broadcasting network.

Twitter is a place where people go to talk and be heard, to sell and to promote, to influence and be influenced. It’s a medium where the oxygen gets taken up by people who, for better or for worse, have a lot to say, whether it’s about economics or pastrami on rye. Saying things about stuff is not everybody’s bag. And people who aren’t itching to say things about stuff are tiring of the suggestion that they really ought to be.

Growth is a goal for every business. But I’m not convinced that ubiquity is necessarily a good goal for Twitter as a medium. It’s a marketplace for ideas and commentary. That’s going to appeal to certain people and less to others. The fact that a medium is useful doesn’t give it a manifest destiny. Twitter’s fans – and I’m among them – should chew on that.

::OTHER NEWS::

Arts Slashing Could Derail Toronto Economy

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Sep 20, 2011) Slashing support for the arts could set Toronto’sKaren%20Kain1_small vibrant economy back 25 years, experts are warning Mayor Rob Ford and other members of city council.

The warning comes in a letter being delivered Tuesday, the Star has learned. It is signed by members of the advisory committee who produced the Creative Capital Gains report, unanimously endorsed by council in May.

Internationally respected consultants Richard Florida and Gail Lord are among those signing the letter, along with National Ballet artistic director Karen Kain and two big players from the financial world — Robert Foster, CEO of Capital Canada Ltd. and former cabinet minister Jim Prentice, currently a senior vice-president of CIBC.

The letter comes in response to proposals from the city manager that the city could trim its budget by eliminating grants, including $6 million of grants to major arts organizations.

“The city has a crucial part to play by providing seed money so that other levels of government and the private sector can play their part,” the letter states. “We are deeply concerned that the budget alternatives being proposed will put the city back by 25 years at a time when the small level of investment recommended in the report and adopted by Council will moves us to the top of the global competitive stage.”

The Creative Capital Gains Report concluded that for Toronto to be economically successful compared to other competitive cities, it must be a global creative capital. And to be successful, it needs a thriving arts, culture and museum sector.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Caribbean Panache in Barbados

Source:  www.luvtrip.com – Melanie Reffes

(Sept 15, 2011) Ratcheting up its already sky high star power,
Barbados is honouring her own with a three-year partnership with superstar Rihanna. One of the best-selling artists of all time, the sultry singer signed the deal with the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) to promote Barbados as a tourist destination. “Barbados is a place like no other and one of the reasons for this is the spirit and national pride of our people,” she said, “I want each and every visitor to this beautiful island to experience what makes this destination different from all others and that is the spirit and warmth of my fellow Barbadians.

The most eastern island in the Caribbean, Barbados is affectionately known as “England in the Tropics” courtesy of its blend of British and African influences and ongoing love affair with afternoon tea and cricket matches Swanky resorts, Zagat-rated eateries, hip nightlife and plenty of flights from the US have earned the island enormous loyalty from discerning travelers and savvy love birds.

Suite Dreams

Courtyard by Marriott is the chains first property to open on the island. In Bridgetown, the modern hotel has 118 rooms with complimentary internet access, on-site restaurant, pool and gym. Marriott’s other Courtyard properties in the Caribbean are in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Port of Spain, Trinidad; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. www.marriott.com.

The 76-room Mango Bay is flip-flop friendly with a pool, beach barbecues and a spirited bar where the ‘Burning Flame’ cocktail is a time-honoured tradition. Close to the shops and bars in Holetown, the all-inclusive resort is tops with the romance crowd with glass-enclosed penthouse suites that boast spectacular views of the sea. www.mangobaybarbados.com. Owned by the Mango Hotel Group, the new Waterside Restaurant in St. Lawrence Gap celebrates the wizardry of chef Michael Hinds. “With main dishes like fire roasted tiger prawns with papaya relish, our customers are sure to have a dining experience that will leave them satisfied,” said Peter Odle, chairman, Mango Hotel Group. The gourmet eatery welcomes wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners. www.watersiderest.com

Making Waves

Cradling both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, coastlines range from gentle to rugged with idyllic backdrops for fairytale weddings. Beaches for swimming on the western side or Platinum coast include Mullins Beach, Church Point and Paynes Bay while windblown Bathsheba on the east side is popular with surfers and newlyweds who cherish seclusion. Carlisle Bay, Accra Beach and Casuarina Beach on the south coast are the go-to spots for body surfing, Dover Beach is better suited for snorkelling and Crane Beach is picture-perfect with pink sand and limestone cliffs.

Time Travel

The last remaining sugar windmill in Barbados, Morgan Lewis impresses as an engineering wonder with four giant arms and gears that rotate to face the direction of the wind. Visitors can climb nearly to the top for commanding views of the eastern hills.

Now amongst the ranks of the Pyramids, Statue of Liberty and the Great Wall of China, Bridgetown and its Garrison are the newest sites to make UNESCO’s World Heritage list.  An example of British colonial architecture, the Garrison includes a museum built in 1817 as a military prison. A National Trust building, Bridgetown’s Nidhe Israel synagogue was built in 1654 and restored by the islands Jewish community.  Open year round, Jewish weddings are encouraged and can be arranged in advance with the Synagogue staff. www.nationaltrustbarbados.com

Here’s the Catch

A stay in Barbados would not be complete without dinner at Oistins Fish Market.  Busiest on the weekend, traditional fare from flying fish and souse to Jug-Jug, made from green peas and guinea corn are dished up as old timers sway to the sounds of calypso. Arrive early for a meander through the craft booths that line the perimeter.

The first port in Barbados, Speightstown is an authentic slice of island life with plenty of shops, restaurants, Arlington Museum and the Gallery of Caribbean Art that spotlights local and regional artists. Sitting pretty in the heart of town, Cassareep Cafe serves platters of fiery curries on the beachfront deck.  On a lagoon with a staircase that leads into the sea, nibbles and libations are served at the Port St. Charles Yacht Club where honeymooners covet the deck lounges and stellar service.

Make a Date

October 31- November 10: Barbados Darts Festival is open to players and fans alike.

November 18-21: Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival is an epicurean bonanza with celebrity chefs and tastings galore. www.foodwinerum.com.

A Click Away

www.visitbarbados.org

Red, White & Barbados

Barbados was the only place outside of the US that was visited by George Washington. The plantation house that he rented is now a museum.

During a visit in 1913, Teddy Roosevelt thanked Barbadians for their contribution in building the Panama Canal.

Bill Clinton stayed at Bush Hill and Ronald Reagan slept in a villa owned by the actress Claudette Colbert.

The current US Attorney General, Eric Holder was raised in New York and his extended family lives in Barbados.

Peace And Preservation In Florida

Source:  www.thestar.com – Garth Woolsey

(September 16, 2011) ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—I’m sittin’ on the dockWeedon%20Island%20Preserve_small of the bay, watching the tide roll away and — with apologies to Otis Redding — I can’t help but wonder why more people aren’t sharing this superb experience.

There are only a couple of fellow loungers on this pier jutting out into Old Tampa Bay, at the end of the road that services the sprawling
Weedon Island Preserve. Nearby, a kayaker lazily casts lures into the shallow waters, which abound in oysters, sea trout, snook and sheepshead.

Weedon is a hidden wilderness treasure in the urban sprawl of the Gulf Coast of central Florida, a safe and tranquil haven in the sometimes frenetic tourism storm that often blows up clouds of frustration over the Sunshine State.

Located just south of the Gandy Bridge that links Tampa and St. Pete’s, bounded on the west by Riviera Bay, the preserve is just far enough off the beaten path that even many uninformed residents have never set foot here. Made up of a peninsula and several islands, there is a cultural and national history centre on the property, a popular destination for school trips. The price-is-right centre (it’s free) is fascinating for casual tourists, too, but the main attraction is the three-kilometre network of elevated boardwalks that meander through the tidal flats and mangroves. There’s a canoe/kayak route and a 14-metre high observation tower that offers distant views into downtown St. Petersburg and across to Tampa.

Under the veneer, never forget, Florida is a wild place. Down there in the swamps, the creatures abound. Glimpsing them is a primeval pleasure.

As natural and uninhabited by humans as the place may be these days, it has not always been that way. Colourful barely begins to describe a history that includes an ancient culture, bootleggers, movie stars, scandals, fires, airports and political intrigue.

The place takes its name from Dr. Leslie Washington Weedon, whose father-in-law, a Confederate cavalry officer, “gave” him the area as a wedding gift in 1898. A prominent Tampa doctor, Weedon’s grandfather was a physician, too. The elder Weedon’s claim to fame was that he attended to famed Seminole Chief Osceola after his surrender to U.S. forces in 1837. The good doctor arranged to have Osceola’s head surgically lopped off upon his passing and preserved it in fluids. Phrenology (the study of skull contours) was big back then. Alas, phrenology was discredited and, in any event, the chief’s head was destroyed in a fire.

Weedon was fascinated by the Indian mounds on his property and as an amateur archaeologist was instrumental in their preservation and study. Eventually the indigenous culture, dating more than 1,500 years, became identified with the Weedon name—many local artefacts have found their way into the Smithsonian Institution.

The property was sold in 1923 to a land developer, who had dreams of a “Riviera of Florida” — the name stuck with Riviera Bay but the community never really took off. To attract investors during Prohibition, Dr. Weedon’s house was converted into a speakeasy. Bootleggers fought to supply the joint, which burned to the ground (possibly not by accident) and was rebuilt as the San Remo Club, which featured a 15-metre tower overlooking the mangroves.

A portion of the land was used to build a power plant but by the time the state of Florida bought the property for $6 million in 1974, it had become a favourite destination for the illegal dumping of trash. It took years to clean up, until the preserve was finally opened to the public in 1980. The cultural centre, well worth an hour’s tour as it offers insight into the area’s history both natural and man-made, opened in 2002.

It, and the dock, might even get busy at times. Not this day, though.

Bliss.

Garth Woolsey is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

JUST THE FACTS

ARRIVING Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center is located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE in St. Petersburg. From Gandy Boulevard (US92/SR600, which connects St. Pete’s and Tampa south of the I-275 causeway) turn south on San Martin Boulevard and travel a little more than one kilometre to Weedon Drive NE and turn east.

DOING The preserve is open daily from 7 a.m. to just before sunset. The history centre is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sunday-Wednesday and on holidays. All admissions are free. Canoes and kayaks are available for rental. Guided hiking tours (about two hours long) are scheduled (to check for times visit www.weedonislandpreserve.org).

SLEEPING Parking spaces abound and are also free of charge, as are picnic areas and washrooms. There are no accommodations for travelers on the property, but all the usual motels and hotels and restaurants can be found within a few minutes drive, especially along Ulmerton Rd., near the St. Petersburg airport. Clearwater Beach and the other Gulf Coast communities are all within easy reach.

Vietnam’s Magical Ability To Forgive

Source:  www.thestar.com – Jim Byers

(September 15, 2011) HANOI–I was a teenager. And scared.fisherman%20Halong%20Bay%20in%20Vietnam_small

The Vietnam War was winding down in 1972, or so it seemed. There was no longer much of a draft in the U.S., where I grew up. But Uncle Sam still had a draft lottery system in place when I was 17, picking birthdays out of a giant hat or some such thing and giving young men lottery numbers based on when their birthday came up. I recall my lottery number being somewhere between 125 and 150; far enough down the list that I almost certainly wouldn’t get drafted.

Still, the images of burning villages and Neil Young lyrics about “four dead in Ohio” were burned into impressionable brain cells and I was uneasy about perhaps fighting what looked like a bizarre war in a strange land.

Flash forward nearly four decades and I’m making my first trip to a very
much altered Vietnam. One of the first signs I see on the trip from the airport to my Hanoi hotel is a giant sign that reads “English for Future,” and offers up a telephone number to call to learn the language of the former invaders.

Not long after checking into the Hotel Hanova, I stroll down the street and find a grinning man of about 60 with a grey shirt offering me a moped ride around town for an undetermined price. I shake my head “no” and start to walk away. I look down at the man’s shirt. In bold black letters it says “U.S. Army.”

I opt to follow the Lonely Planet walk through the old part of town north of Hoan Kiem Lake, the central gathering and cooling and showing off spot for Hanoi residents. I soon myself inside a store called Propaganda, where they sell coffee mugs etched with slogans about repealing the U.S. invaders and such. I buy a mug and chat with the young woman behind the cash register.

“I’m not old enough to remember anything about the war,” she says. “But everyone my age likes America. We all want to learn English.”

My wife, Barbara, who was in the country for a conference, noted that she had brought lots of Vietnamese currency.

“I didn’t want to assume they’d take U.S. dollars,” she said. “I thought it would be nice to use their own currency. But everyone kept asking for American money.”

Over four days in Vietnam, I got to watch folks of all ages stretch and dance about on the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake for their morning and evening tai-chi. I saw thousands of communal-minded Vietnamese gathered at 7 a.m. on a Monday morning, sipping soup and braising meats as they sat on tiny plastic chairs on the sidewalk, inches from buzzing mopeds and women with conical hats burdened with those long carrying poles layered with dozens of mangoes or pineapples. I rolled down the highway past endlessly deep green rice paddies and old tombstones that lay scattered in the fields.

I ate fabulous food at swanky restaurants, sipped cappuccino in cafes with photos of Italian cities and served by a young mother in a Montreal Canadiens jersey. Aside from one scowling youth on Halong Bay, who may simply have been bored, I don’t think I encountered a single person with anything other than a smile on their face.

I was at the Novotel Hotel in Halong Bay for breakfast one day and spotted some corn flakes and fruit. I asked a young girl if they had any bananas. She glanced around the room, looking this way and that as if she were Peter Sellers in a Pink Panther movie, deliberately doing the bad detective shtick.

“Let me see,” she said, motioning me to wait. A few seconds later she came back and slipped me four or five of the tiny, finger-sized bananas popular in Southeast Asia.

“Ssshhhhh,” she said with a grin bright enough to light up Hanoi. “It’s a secret.”

“Some older folks probably still resent the U.S. but most American people are very good,” said Truan, my tour guide in Halong Bay. “We Vietnamese can separate the people from the government of China or Japan or France (this country has a long history of invasion) and the U.S.

“The government is opening the economy, and Vietnamese people want to look forward.”

As we rolled out of Halong on the way back to Hanoi, I looked to the side of the road and spotted a garden centre selling statuary for people’s yards. There were the requisite, graceful Buddhas and ferocious-looking lions. Then, just as we were about to pull away I spotted one enormous, white construction on a pedestal.

The Statue of Liberty.

::SPORTS NEWS::

The Olympic Life: Freedom Fighter

Source:  www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman

(August 21, 2011) WIARTON, ONT.—For Canadian gold medal hopeful Mary%20Spencer_smallMary Spencer, the road to the 2012 London Olympics runs right through the Cape Croker Indian Reserve.

The three-time world champion, in heavy training for the Olympic debut of women’s boxing next summer, somehow finds the time to drive 10 hours here and back from Windsor — at least once a month — to hang out with “her kids” on the reserve.

On a recent visit, one perfect summer’s day, Spencer and the native children she mentors go out for a run, paddle canoes, play volleyball and tuck into a barbecue together. It’s as though Christmas has come early to Cape Croker, and not just because the champ has brought four cartons of new boxing gear.

From the moment she arrives, Spencer draws the kids like a magnet. They crowd around, vying for attention, peals of laughter echoing along the shores of Georgian Bay. The youngest literally hang off her as they splash in the water.

“I’m a leech!” cries Breanna Watkinson, who attaches herself to Spencer during a swim. But they all seem to get some quiet time with her, too, teens and younger ones alike, including 8-year-old Halle Johnston, who skips rocks with Spencer as they wait for the canoeing to commence.

Spencer asks Johnston about school: “I like it, but there’s bad kids there. They call me names.”

“But you don’t listen to them, do you?”

The visits have an extra meaning for Spencer because her father, Cliff, who is Ojibway, was a United Church minister at Cape Croker when Mary was younger.

“I feel like this is my own version of it, that I can come out and hang out with the kids and be there for them if they need advice or show them stuff, teach them stuff,” she says. “It’s almost the same thing. That’s the way I kind of see it, a ministry of sorts.”

A ministry it may be, but there is no preaching. Mary has an easy rapport with the children, many of whom she’s known for years.

“Do you ever swear?” Daisy Jones asks as they come out of the water.

“No,” says Spencer

“I don’t believe you,” says Jones. “You said the word sh-ts.”

“That’s because you guys were trying to drown me,” laughs Spencer.

While the visits are exhausting — for all involved — Spencer says she easily gets back just as much as she gives. Spending time at the reserve replenishes her spirit in a way little else can.

“I think about when I was a kid . . . little things that somebody probably didn’t think would make a big impression on me, but it did,” she said. “So, I’m hoping these are the kinds of days that these kids are going to remember. . . . They’re having a lot of fun while doing things that are good for them.”

Spencer says her obvious bond with the young ones here comes naturally.

“Coming back to Cape Croker is special for me just because some of these kids are my cousins, their parents knew my parents or know me. I feel like I’m at home when I’m here.”

It’s all a far cry from Spencer in the ring, a fearsome opponent who has been known to send a message with more than her fists. She won her third world title by dismantling reigning world champion Jinzi Li of China last fall in the Barbados 14-2 in the final — a feat made more impressive by the fact she moved up in weight class from 66 to 75 kilos, because there are only three women’s Olympic divisions.

Rather than go out and celebrate, Spencer had a plan. She made sure she woke up first thing the next morning to go for a run around the hotel complex where the athletes were staying, hoping opponents would see her.

“My whole reasoning for that is, I want them when they get in the ring with me to be okay with losing to me, to be okay with giving up when they should be pushing harder,” she told the Star at the time. “I want them to think I’m supposed to win.”

To the other boxers, Spencer is simply the reigning world champ and the one to beat. But there is another part of her identity she would like the world to know about.

“I remember every time I used to represent a native team, whether it was a basketball team or a volleyball team, there was just that sense of pride,” she says. “I think other native athletes need to feel that sense of pride when they see me competing, the same way other Canadians do. There should be something special for aboriginal Canadians.”

That something special is evident to 8-year-old Halle, who was on the receiving end of the pep talk about bullies at school. What’s so special about the boxer’s visits to Cape Croker?

“She’s fun, she’s cool and she’s awesome,” says Halle.

Jennifer Johnston, Halle’s mom, says what Spencer provides, apart from the laughs and chats, is inspiration.

“The kids really love her. I see a huge difference in the kids that do go. She’s a good inspiration to the children here. They look forward to having her,” she says. “Every month, they make sure they ask when she’s coming and they’re waiting for her, they’re waiting at the door with open arms and great big ‘I love you’s.’ ”

The boxer is slowly drawing more kids out to the group. On this day, 5-year-old Madeline Linklater turns up because she wants to meet Spencer after seeing her featured on TSN. She shyly hands Spencer a note and picture she has made in a handmade envelope. It wishes her good luck at the Olympics and shows a podium with a medal and boxing gloves.

Spencer keeps it real with the kids with an easy laugh and a self-deprecating sense of humour. They talk about anything and everything.

Some of the kids struggle with motivation and get into trouble, something that Spencer can definitely relate to having grown up in a housing project in Windsor. She’s reluctant to delve into her misspent youth too deeply, but admits she skipped more classes than she ever attended and even failed gym.

Her transformation happened the moment she stepped into a boxing ring.

“Boxing for me was almost supernatural,” she said. “I started boxing and it was like ‘Okay, this is what you’re going to do and you’re going to make sure you become a champion.’ Day one, I wanted to be a champion. I was serious about being a champion.

“Some things took time to change, like my group of friends. That took a bit of time. . . . If you’re doing something right, other things just won’t mix with it. Eventually things just turned around.”

It’s a powerful story, one that takes on more resonance for the kids here as they realize she is just like them. They are following her every step of the way, and recently went to watch her fight in Wasaga Beach. The community has started talking about trying to raise money to send some of the children to the London Olympics, although they say it’s unlikely to happen.

But the kids will be in London, anyway, just as they were in Barbados when Spencer went up against the reigning world champion from China.

“As I was walking up to the ring, I was imagining that these kids were in the stands, that they were watching this fight and I needed to win because they needed to see me win, they needed to know that I was going to win,” Spencer says.

“It just carries that extra weight when you’re trying to reach out to someone or trying to do something. . . . I remember thinking about them going into that final, so of course it fuels the fire.”

As this day draws to a close, Spencer reluctantly pulls herself away from “her kids.” After they’ve all jumped off a concrete pier into the cool waters of Georgian Bay, the fighter prepares for the five-hour-plus drive back home to Windsor.

The young ones and teens, exhausted after being put through their paces, are loathe to see her go.

But they know she’ll be back.

MARY SPENCER

Born Dec. 12, 1984, Wiarton, Ont.

Hometown: Windsor

Coach: Charlie Stewart, Windsor Amateur Boxing Club

IN THE RING

108 wins, seven losses

2005-08 66 kg world champion

2010 75 kg world champion

Eight-time Canadian champion

Five-time North American champion

2004 Canadian boxer of the year

OUTSIDE THE RING

Along with mentoring kids at Cape Croker, she’s president of the Boys and Girls Club of Windsor, which gets together once a week.

QUOTE

“I don’t feel pressure at all (to win Olympic gold), because I told myself I was going to do it a long time ago. The fact that other people think now I’m going to do it, that’s support, not pressure.”

NBA Lockout Could Mean Money In The Bank For Season-Ticket Holders

Source:  www.thestar.com – Doug Smith

(September 13, 2011) Hey, brother, can you spare a few thousand dollars?

It’s not exactly as if the Raptors and every other NBA team are now in the money-borrowing business full-time but their proposal on
season-ticket payments if the start of the NBA season is delayed by labour strife amounts to a loan.

Under a league mandate put forward long before the owners locked out the players on July 1, the Raptors are offering two different repayment plans after they get money for 2011-12 season tickets.

The first guarantees “investors” a 5 per cent annual return on an unused balance of season-ticket money, provided the total amount for the season is paid up front.

The second, a monthly refund, pays back money owed each month with a 1 per cent return.

What’s best?

“MLSE is paying a premium to entice season-ticket holders to leave their money with them,” said Mark Toole, a Niagara Falls-based financial consultant with The Investors Group.

And the wise idea might be for season-ticket holders to pay up and reap the benefits eventually.

“If a ticket-holder plans to put their refund back into a bank account for the short term, a 5 per cent interest rate is hard to beat in this current low-interest environment,” Toole said.

“They might be able to find a savings account or one-year GIC (guaranteed investment certificate) that yields around 2 per cent, but there aren’t any other short-term options out there that will guarantee you much more than that.”

The repayment plans are not unique to the Raptors, and Toronto season-ticket holders were advised of their options when it came time to renew.

As far back as March, it became apparent the league was going to try to assuage its season-ticket holders in the event a lockout ends up with cancelled games.

Unlike the NFL, which let individual teams decide what they’d do for ticket holders if its lockout had stretched into the regular season, the NBA told teams to make the refund-with-interest offer.

Raptors season-ticket holders are considering their options as NBA owners and players met Tuesday in New York to try to salvage the season. Training camps are supposed to open Oct. 3, exhibition games are slated to start Oct. 9 and the regular season is due to open Nov. 1 but that’s becoming less likely after labour talks broke off Tuesday with no resumption scheduled.

“We’ve advised (players) they may have to sit out half the season before we get a deal,” union head Billy Hunter said.

Spain Retains European Basketball Title

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Sep 18, 2011) Kaunas, Lithuania — Spain won their secondEuroBasket%202011%20final_small successive European basketball championship after beating France 98-85 in a spectacular final in the Zhalgiris Arena on Sunday.

Spain’s starting five scored a whopping 86 points, more than the entire 12-man French roster, as the champions demonstrated their class and finished the gruelling 24-team tournament with an impressive 10-1 record.

Spain, who were led by inspirational point guard Juan Carlos Navarro with 27 points, also became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the former Yugoslavia did it in the 1995 and 1997 tournaments.

Jose Luis Calderon and Los Angeles Lakers centre Pau Gasol added 17 points each for Spain, the latter also collecting 10 rebounds, Rudy Fernandez added 14 while Marc Gasol chipped in with 11 and six rebounds in front of 15,000 fans.

Tony Parker scored 26 points for France as the two teams, who have 11 NBA players between them, produced a match worthy of the tournament’s favourites.

Navarro also claimed the event’s Most Valuable Player award and it was no more than he deserved after yet another breathtaking performance, having overshadowed his opposite number Parker.

Navarro hit audacious three-pointers from almost impossible angles every time France, who trailed throughout the contest, threatened to catch up.

The Spanish were completely dominant in the paint, where Serge Ibaka dished out six blocks in defence while quick movement of the ball in offense allowed the Gasol brothers to score almost at will.

Outplayed by Navarro, triple NBA champion Parker still tried to inject
Eurobasket%20semifinal_small some energy into his team which had no answer to Spain’s fast breaks and pick-and-roll in offense, despite scoring nine three-pointers at the other end.

“BAD YEARS”

“We are very pleased, the team played a good game and we rose to the occasion because we knew we were playing in the final,” Navarro told Spanish television.

Calderon, who missed the 2009 tournament in Poland and last year’s worlds where Spain were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Serbia, added: “I have suffered two very bad years but I have always felt a part of this team.

“I’d also like to dedicate this victory to the fathers of Felipe (Reyes) and Victor (Claver) who both died recently,” said the Toronto Raptors point guard.

Reyes said: “(My father) is not physically here but we know that he was up there watching the final and for sure he is celebrating with me right now.

“I wasn’t expecting to be asked (to lift the trophy) and nobody said anything but it was a very nice gesture.”

Spain’s next objective is to win the 2012 Olympics and in order to accomplish the task they will in all likelihood have to beat the United States, who edged them in a thrilling final in the 2008 Games in Beijing.

“Obviously next year’s Olympics is our goal, we know it’s a very tough tournament to win but we have very high expectations,” Pau Gasol told a news conference.

“It’s very hard to beat a U.S. team, we know that for a fact but we are going to London to compete and we’ll see what happens.”

France emulated their 1949 success when they finished as runners-up, but failed to repeat their 2005 feat of beating a more heralded Spanish team to the bronze medal at the European championship in Belgrade.

“They played a great game and deserve their title but we will be back,” Parker told France’s Canal Plus television.

Forward Boris Diaw added: “They’ve been playing together for six or seven years while we’ve only been together as a team for two years.”

Earlier on Sunday, 2007 champions Russia won the bronze medal with a dramatic 72-68 win over the tournament’s surprise package Macedonia.

Spain and France qualified automatically for the 2012 Olympics in London along with hosts Britain, while Russia, Macedonia, Lithuania and Greece will enter an inter-continental 12-team tournament for another three berths next year.

Ron Artest Officially Becomes Metta World Peace

Source:  www.thestar.com – Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(September 16, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Ron Artest’s bid to becomeRON%20ARTEST%20World%20Peace_small Mr. World Peace was delayed, but not denied.

A court commissioner granted the Lakers forward’s request to officially change his name to Metta World Peace on Friday, three weeks after the bid was blocked because Artest had unpaid traffic tickets.

Artest, 31, did not attend a brief hearing Friday.

Superior court spokeswoman Patricia Kelly said that Artest’s new last name will be World Peace.

His publicist, Courtney Barnes, said the player chose Metta because it is a traditional Buddhist word that means loving and kindness toward all.

“Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world,” World Peace said in a statement released after the hearing. “After this short delay, my tickets have been paid and I’m glad that it is now official.”

He requested the change in June, citing only personal reasons. He is scheduled to appear on the next season of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Barnes wrote in an email that World Peace will now have to get a new driver’s license to reflect his new name, but the switch won’t affect his contracts with the Lakers or any endorsement deals.

Artest helped the Lakers win an NBA title in 2010 and in April he received an award for outstanding service and dedication to the community.

He has testified before Congress to support mental health legislation.

Artest isn’t the first athlete to adopt an unusual name.

Lloyd Bernard Free, a professional basketball player who played in the league from 1975-88, had his first name legally changed to World in 1981. A friend had given him the nickname because of his 44-inch vertical leaps and 360-degree dunks.

In the NFL, wide receiver Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to Ochocinco in August 2008 to reflect his jersey number. The name means “eight five” in Spanish. Ochocinco is now with the New England Patriots.

Bizarre End To Mayweather Championship Bout

Source:  www.thestar.com - Cathal Kelly

(Sep 18, 2011) It had been 16 months since Floyd Mayweather, theFloyd%20Mayweather%20Victor%20Ortiz_small best pound for pound fighter in the world (seriously, just ask him), had last stepped in the ring.

So on Saturday night in Vegas, he had a lot to work out of his system.

First, he spent three rounds slapping overmatched opponent Victor Ortiz around the ring.

Then, as they will do in Floyd’s orbit, things got strange.

In the fourth round, Ortiz head-butted Mayweather. It was less of a head-butt and more of a torpedo launch, as Ortiz pushed Mayweather into a corner and then shot his entire body up at him.

Referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight and docked a point from Ortiz. Ortiz approached Mayweather and appeared to apologize, going so far as to kiss the other fighter.

When Cortez brought the pair together a second time, ostensibly to restart the fight, Ortiz once again leaned forward to apologize. He tried to hug Mayweather. Then as he leaned back, his hands at his side, Mayweather stunned him with a short left and then knocked him out with a right cross. Cortez wasn’t looking at the pair during those crucial seconds.

Afterward, Mayweather defended his actions.

“We touched gloves and we were back to fighting and then I threw the left and right hand after the break,” Mayweather said. “In the ring you have to protect yourself at all times.”

It got weirder still.

Out of nowhere, Mayweather began giving the gears to HBO’s longtime in-ring interviewer, Larry Merchant.

“You never give me a fair shake,” Mayweather screamed at an amused-looking Merchant. “HBO needs to fire you. You don’t know s--- about boxing. You ain’t s---.”

“I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass,” Merchant said.

For the record, he’s 80 years old.

It wasn’t much of a fight, but Mayweather always brings the drama. Now the fight world waits anxiously to see if his next act will be the long sought-after tilt with the other entrant in the best-fighter-alive sweepstakes, Manny Pacquiao.

Pospisil Demolishes Israel To Give Canada Davis Cup Win

Source:  www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(Sep 18, 2011) It’s been so long since Canada had a true tennis star it seems rather unbelievable that two could have arrived in the same year.

Yet that would appear to be the case.

In the first half of 2011, it was all about Milos Raonic rocketing up the international men’s rankings before being injured.

That brought us to this weekend in the grinding heat of the Middle East. With Raonic unable to deliver, it became all about Vancouver’s
Vasek Pospisil, the 21-year-old with the cherubic smile and constitution of a marathoner, who almost single-handedly lifted Canada back into the top echelon of tennis nations.

What his hometown Canucks couldn’t do in June, this Canuck did in September.

The youngster they call “Horse” hoisted Canada’s Davis Cup squad on his broad back and carried it back into the World Group of this annual 132-country competition for the first time since 2004 — and only the second time in two decades.

On Friday, Pospisil outlasted Israel’s best singles player in a remarkable five-hour, five-set joust before one of the most boisterous and sometimes nasty tennis audiences you’ll ever see.

On Saturday, he teamed with ancient warrior Daniel Nestor to upset the crack Israeli doubles team. Finally, on Sunday, Pospisil delivered a Mediterranean exhibition of power tennis to bludgeon his way past Israel’s Amir Weintraub and give Canada a berth with the world’s big boys next year.

“Vasek beat the state of Israel on his own,” marvelled Team Canada captain Martin Laurendeau.

In all, Pospisil has a 6-1 Davis Cup match record in 2011, as Canada won consecutive ties on the road in Mexico, Ecuador and now Israel.

That should put him in the conversation for the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, wouldn’t you say?

It’s not just about Pospisil and this weekend and this victory, however. This is now a Canadian team with enormous possibilities, two sturdy young singles players in Raonic and Pospisil, and a chance to compete with the very best tennis-playing countries on the planet.

“That’s the most exciting thing, how much potential we have with these two young studs,” said the 39-year-old Nestor, who was there in ’04 when Canada lost to Holland in its last World Group appearance.

The next Davis Cup step will become known this Wednesday when the draw is held for the 16-team World Group in Thailand. Canada will play one of the top eight countries, either at home or away in mid-February.

“We’re there now with the best,” smiled Raonic afterwards.

In retrospect, perhaps we should have all given Raonic and Pospisil a little more notice 13 months ago, when they stunned the superstar tandem of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in a doubles match at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Then, it seemed like a meaningless, if fun, moment.

Now, it seems like it was a warning shot across the bow of the tennis world.

Canada went into Sunday’s final reverse singles without Raonic, who said he simply didn’t feel well enough to play even though his surgically repaired hip, he maintained, was just fine.

That left Peter Polansky to take on Israel’s No. 1, Dudi Sela, and Polansky fell in three sets.

With the two countries tied with two match wins apiece, Pospisil and Weintraub stepped on court just before the dinner hour on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, each hoping to play hero for their country.

Pospisil, ranked 124th in the world with a bullet, served brilliantly from the beginning and broke Weintraub in his first service game. He won the first set in 32 minutes, then got bogged down in the second set and fell behind by a break as Weintraub dug in.

With the Israeli serving for the set, Pospisil broke back, then won a tiebreak with a sizzling forehand passing shot to pull ahead two sets to none.

Pospisil kept hammering aces, 27 to Weintraub’s one, giving the Canadian “free” points on a hot, muggy night when his energy reserves were nearly depleted.

Serving for the match at 5-4, he fought off one break point, then ripped a forehand past Weintraub deep into the court to end it with a 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-4 verdict.

“I couldn’t believe it was over,” said an exhausted Pospisil. “Just a huge relief.”

As he stood talking, Pospisil’s legs began to cramp, the residue of nearly 11 hours on court in the brutal Israeli heat over three days.

“I’m done,” he smiled wearily. “I think I’ll take a few days off.”

Fair enough. After 12 gruelling sets of Davis Cup play in 72 hours, the kid deserves a break.

After all, Canada’s likely going to be seeing a lot of this young stallion in the coming years.

Argos Full Of Praise For Steven Jyles’ Leadership

Source:  www.thestar.com – Chris Zelkovich

(September 16, 2011) REGINA—Darian Durant says he’s seen a lot of Steven_Jyles13_1319447cl-8_smallgrowth in new Toronto Argonauts starting quarterback Steven Jyles.

Admittedly, the Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback is a little biased — he and Jyles have remained close since Durant won the starting job here three years ago. Nevertheless, Durant believes Jyles showed “tremendous growth” with Winnipeg last season.

“First of all, just protecting the ball,” Durant said Friday as both teams prepared for Saturday’s game at Mosaic Stadium. He said Jyles has matured and now understands that sometimes it’s smarter to hang on to the ball and let your team punt rather than risk a turnover.

But the biggest growth, Durant says, has been in his leadership abilities.

That was echoed by Argo slotback Jeremaine Copeland, who says Jyles showed great improvements in his second week of first-string reps and should be more at ease this game.

“He’s a great leader,” Copeland said. “That’s one thing that we were missing earlier in this season was a quarterback with a mentality of being a leader the way he is.”

Copeland says Jyles showed that leadership by meeting with the offensive line to discuss protection packages the first day after predecessor Cleo Lemon was released.

“That’s something I hadn’t seen done here,” he said.

Copeland might be biased, too. After all, the moment Jyles took the starter’s reins was the moment Copeland became an integral part of the offence.

Head coach Jim Barker also talked about Jyles’ leadership abilities, as well as his ability to open up the Argos’ league-worst offence. One of his greatest strengths, Barker said, is his ability to manage the running game.

“I think you’ll see Cory Boyd continue to grow as Steven does the things he can do,” he said. Barker also said Jyles’ input into the Argo offensive scheme has already resulted in some new formations that could be featured Saturday.

Of course, Barker is also biased because he’s the one who chose Jyles to replace Lemon and needs him to succeed, preferably right now.

But bias or not, the consensus is that Jyles gives the Argos a better chance of winning than his predecessor, mainly because of his agility, arm strength and willingness to stretch the defence.

The real question is whether there’s enough time for him to make a difference. Jyles believes there is, even though few would agree.

“If we win the majority of our (remaining games), the way the CFL’s looking now there’s no telling what can happen,” he said.

While the offence is looking better and could even score a touchdown for the first time in two games, the defence and special teams are getting a boost from the near-miraculous return of middle linebacker Jason Pottinger. He’s back after tearing his ACL on July 1.

“I definitely knew this day was going to come,” Pottinger said, even though doctors said otherwise. “I won’t be satisfied until I’m in there and have proved to everybody that I’m still capable of being the guy.”

His return will also boost the Argos’ kick coverage as it allows Ejiro Kuale and Anthony Cannon to get some relief at linebacker and return to special teams.

VIDEO - 10-Year Old ‘Workout Kid’ Fights Obesity with Exercise Program

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

(Sep 18, 2011) September is Childhood Obesity Awareness month andcj_sentertJ_holmes2011-med-wide1_small there is at least one young man fighting to be fit and helping fellow children everywhere do the same.  He admitted that young people just sit in the house and “watch TV and play video games”, so he is showing them how to make fitness fun.  Kids should listen to a kid, right?  Well, at least the little ladies will.  He already has muscles.

CNN’s T.J. Holmes was willing to let 10-year old
CJ Senter give him a quick workout this weekend.  He wanted to represent for the adults to show him he that we all can benefit from his fitness tips.  Senter already has a workout video that not only looks fun for kids, but shows them that fitness is for all ages. 

There’s too many parents that give their children junk food and think that they are going to burn it off watching re-runs of the Looney Tunes.  These days, children are facing real health issues because they don’t run outside and play till the street light comes on like we did.  So cut back on the junk food parents and slip in this young man’s video when they’re ready to snuggle up with the TV. 

SPORTS TIDBITS

Serena Williams is Newest UNICEF Ambassador

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 21, 2011) *Serena Williams is venturing into a new areas-williams_small of charity. Williams is UNICEF’s newest international Goodwill Ambassador. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake announced her appointment on Tuesday, saying she is also known as a philanthropist and champion of children. She’s been with the organization since 2006 when she traveled to Ghana for a huge health campaign. Volunteers immunized children against childhood diseases and distributed free mosquito nets. As the new ambassador, Serena will help promote the U.N.s mission to provide education and good health to children all over the world.

::FITNESS::

Benefits of Low Intensity Cardio?

Source:  Raphael Calzadilla

Is it possible to lose weight and get in shape if you can’t do intense
fitness13_small cardio? Due to a heart condition I’m not able to do physical things that affect my heart such as walking fast, walking at an incline, jogging, jumping rope, swimming, etc. However, I am able to walk slowly. I need to lose 40 lbs and get toned. I’m desperate. Any help will be very much appreciated.

It sounds as if you’ve been given specific guidelines and recommendations concerning exercise from your physician (slow walking). If not, you’ll need to discuss this in detail with him/her.

Let me put your mind at ease. Yes, you can lose body fat and not perform intense cardio. I’ve worked with several clients with heart conditions and they made great progress with a tailored nutrition program and very low intensity cardio. By very low intensity, I’m referring to slow walks.

The number of days that you walk and the maximum time will need to be addressed by your physician. Although slow walks are considered low intensity cardio, we still have to respect your health condition – so slow and steady progress is vital. Also, make sure you have a complete list from your doctor of any additional exercises you may be able to do.

The term getting in shape is relative because although you won’t get into the shape that an athlete reaches or even hardcore exerciser, you will achieve a good level of fitness based on what you can handle and what you’re allowed to do. So try to shift your thought process and focus on being the best you can be with the doctor recommendations provided. For example, if your doctor says you can build to 5 days per week of slow walks for 40 minutes, then start out slow and build to that level gradually. This way you have a plan and are progressing at a safe rate and still doing all within your power to reach your fitness capability.

The biggest component to your 40-pound weight-loss goal will be your nutrition program. I cannot over emphasize how important this is. I’m not sure if you’re on a specific heart-friendly plan or if you’ve received guidelines from a nutritionist, but I urge you to pursue that avenue if you haven’t done so already.

Once you’re on a consistent walking program combined with a consistent nutrition plan, you’ll see your weight drop and 40 less pounds of body fat will be very significant for your overall health.

Be confident that you can drop those 40 pounds and greatly improve your health. Do all the right things I mentioned above.

::MOTIVATION::

Leaving aside the perspective of spiritual practice, even in worldly terms, in terms of our enjoying a happy day-to-day existence, the calmer our minds are, the greater our peace of mind will be and the greater will be our ability to enjoy a happy and joyful life.
 

Source:  Dalai Lama