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April 12, 2012

April is such a great month and the good weather
continues to surprise us ... fingers crossed that it is a precursor to a great summer. Have you got your taxes done? You only have a couple of weeks left!

Have you bought your tickets yet for the debut solo album release of
Quisha Wint? If you support Canadian talent or just want a fun night out with great music, then you'll see why I give this concert a two thumbs up. Quisha's a star in her own right who offers homegrown R&B with a dash of funk - see all the details below under HOT EVENTS.

In this weeks news: Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen climbs the charts; Drake releases a new video; Reelworld Film Festival hits Toronto with some highlights being Kardinal Offishall and Common, to mention a few; CBC TV goes through more big changes; the arrest of Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman; and so much more! Check it all out under TOP STORIES.

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!


April 25:: May 2:: Toronto’s Quisha Wint and her Debut CD Release and Concert

Quisha Wint is an accomplished songstress/performer/arranger/songwriter who is unleashing her debut CD entitled “My Journey” on Wednesday, April 25th and again on Wednesday, May 2nd . Quisha is a well-known and dynamic songstress for her extraordinary work as a session vocalist, performer and backup singer for the late Haydain Neale of Jacksoul, Maestro, Snow, to name a few.

Now it’s HER turn for the spotlight! You don’t want to miss this event!

“This CD will be a journey I will be taking people on into my life in the past 5 years.” says Wint. “I am proud of every song that I wrote and those with my co-writers. I can only hope that people can hear my heart through each song.” Quisha will also be performing songs from artists who have inspired her in her career – for example, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and Anita Baker.

Opening for the show is Toronto’s own Dwayne Morgan; well known for his poetry and sold out shows. (For more info: www.dwaynemorgan.ca).

The concerts will be held on two Wednesday nights; April 25 at The Art Gallery of Ontario and on May 2 at Unionville Alliance Church in Markham.

Quisha Wint’s Debut CD Release Concert

Wednesday, April 25:
Art Gallery Of Ontario (AGO)
317 Dundas Street W.
Toronto, ON
(Between University Ave. and Spadina Ave.)

8:00 pm

Wednesday, May 2:
Unionville Alliance Church
4898-16th Ave.
Markham, ON
(Between Kennedy and McCowan Rd.)

7:00 pm

Tickets: www.quishawint.com

$30.00 if purchased before April 15;
$35.00 if purchased after April 15th (each ticket purchase includes a FREE CD!)


Carly Rae Jepsen Overtakes Justin Bieber for #1 on the U.K. Singles Chart

Source: www.thestar.com - By Liam Casey

(Apr 11, 2012) Justin Bieber has fallen from his perch in the United Kingdom, overtaken on the charts by another Canadian, and his protégé, Carly Rae Jepsen.

Jepsen’sCall Me Maybe” debuted at No. 1 on the Official Singles Chart Sunday with first week sales nearing 107,000. Jepsen’s song is primed to hit No. 1 around the world, already having reached that status in Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

The song also reached No. 1 on iTunes, surpassing Bieber’s “Boyfriend” single.

so I get up today and #BOYFRIEND is #2 on ITUNES chart in the UK!! Incredible! who is #1?? My own artist @carlyraejepsen ....hmmmm,” Bieber tweeted tweeted Sunday.

“The fact that we are able to have that friendly competition is blowing my mind,” she said to MTV. "I wouldn't be here without his support and his help, and he is so great about it. He's just happy for me, which is nice to see."

Jepsen shot to Internet fame when Bieber and a gaggle of friends — including girlfriend Selena Gomez — lip-synced Jepsen’s now-No. 1 single, which went viral with more than 30 million views.

Jepsen is a little better known in her home country, having finished third in the Canadian Idol competition in 2007, now having leap-frogged winner Brian Melo in fame with recent appearances on Ellen, Good Morning America and The View.

In February, Jepsen signed with Bieber’s label, Schoolboy Records and Interscope. Ever since, the Biebs has used his fame to help promote Jepsen’s work.

The pair might share the number one title one day after Jepsen revealed to MTV that the pair has already recorded a duet.

VIDEO: Younger Drake Celebrates Bar Mitzvah In Video

: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Apr 09, 2012) Toronto’s hip-hop hero,
Drake, released two videos late Friday. “Take Care” is a minimalist affair that’s getting more plays on YouTube, likely owing to its co-star, Rihanna. The other, “HYFR,” is probably catching more eyes in the rapper’s hometown.

Screen text explains that Drake is re-committing himself to the Jewish faith in a “re-bar mitzvah.” The clip includes a few seconds of home video of young Drake at a bar mitzvah (presumably his) years ago, dancing and showing just a bit of attitude.

Bar mitzvahs come at age 13 and Drake does turn 26 this year, so if the Jewish coming-of-age ritual had a limited term and expired like a driver’s licence, we suppose that now might roughly be the time. This redo features cameos by Trey Songz and Drake’s producer and fellow local, Noah “40” Shebib.

Oh, and Lil Wayne in a panda mask. Great, Drizzy, now all the kids will want the same thing for their bar mitzvah.

Common And Kardi, Crime And Capoeira At ReelWorld Festival

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson

(Apr 05, 2012) REELWORLD: The spring film-fest season gets into full swing this week with eagerly anticipated opening events for TIFF Kids (April 10-22) and Images (April 12-21). But there’s plenty of room for ReelWorld, too. Featuring a five-day program of screenings and events highlighting the efforts of film professionals and emerging talents of colour, the 12th annual festival runs April 11 to 15 with screenings at Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Cinemas and Famous Players Canada Square.

The former venue hosts the opening gala on Wednesday at 7 p.m., which boasts the Canadian premiere of LUV, a Baltimore-set indie drama about a troubled 11-year-old’s relationship with a charismatic ex-con played by actor and rapper
Common. Among the other American movies new to Toronto is Hopelessly in June, a romantic comedy starring Keith David — the veteran actor also appears for an onstage discussion after the screening at Canada Square on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. Another of the fest’s guests, Kardinal Offishall will be on hand to present “The Invention of Truth,” a seriously cool hybrid of music video and short film created to promote the Toronto MC’s new album with producer Nottz. Kardi’s handiwork is part of a music video program at Canada Square on April 13 at 8:30 p.m. Nothing if not diverse in its selections and sensibility, ReelWorld continues with everything from a crime film out of Canada’s East Coast (Charlie Zone) to a capoeira action flick from Brazil (Besouro) to a Bollywood rom-com (closing night film Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu).

LOVE NEVER DIES: Plans for a Broadway run may have been indefinitely postponed after its mixed reception in London’s West End but Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera — in which the man in the mask tries to build a new life not in Paris but Coney Island — is still finding its way to audiences who long for a little more music of the night. Shot in high definition at its run in Melbourne last fall, a new film version of Love Never Dies plays Wednesday at 7 p.m. at 11 local Cineplex theatres including the Scotiabank Theatre and Silver City Yonge-Eglinton. An encore performance follows on April 21.

FREE WWI FILMS: In honour of the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the current Toronto production of War Horse and the Carlton Cinemas co-present a day-long festival of movies set during World War I. The program starts on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. with the 1963 musical Oh, What a Lovely War before continuing with the more recent likes of A Very Long Engagement at 4:15 p.m. and Passchendaele at 7 p.m., and closing with the superb Australian drama Gallipoli at 9:30 p.m. All screenings are free, but the suggested $5 donation gets you a Vimy pin.

BLOOR GOES RETRO: The newly renovated Bloor Hot Docs Cinema adds its first fiction-friendly series to its program with this weekend’s launch for Back to the Bloor, a slate of cult movies set for Sunday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. The inaugural selection is Monty Python’s The Life of Brian and upcoming picks include The Big Lebowski (April 15) and Labyrinth (April 22). Meanwhile, the Essential Docs series on Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. continues with the classic boxing doc When We Were Kings. Allan King’s A Married Couple (April 14) and a new HD version of Ron Mann’s Comic Book Confidential (April 21) close out the month’s events before Hot Docs begins on April 26.

HARD CORE LOGO: Just ahead of the April 13 run for its sequel, Bruce McDonald’s hard-rocking mock-doc gets a screening of its own at TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the Canadian Open Vault program. Adapted from the novel by Michael Turner and featuring rarely bettered performances by Hugh Dillon and Callum Keith Rennie, Hard Core Logo screens Friday at 9:30 p.m. from a recently struck 35mm print. It’s accompanied by Issues, a new short that stars Dillon as a very ill-tempered clown and was directed by the actor and singer’s Flashpoint castmate Enrico Colantoni.

KUBRICK COURSE AT THE JCC: As dense and imposing as that pesky monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the cinema of Stanley Kubrick continues to fascinate and mystify movie fans far and wide — Room 237, a film about the many meanings of The Shining, was one of the hottest docs at Sundance. The late Brooklyn-born auteur and his films come under further scrutiny when local critic Adam Nayman begins his latest course for interested cinephiles at the Miles Nadal JCC. The eight-week series of lectures runs on Mondays starting April 16 and will cover Kubrick’s oeuvre from his little-seen 1953 feature debut Fear and Desire through to his critically divisive swansong Eyes Wide Shut. Tickets for the whole series are $90 or $12 for drop-ins ($6 for students). And as per Kubrick’s stark aesthetic for Barry Lyndon, the classroom will presumably be only lit with candles.

CBC To Cut 650 Jobs In Fighting $200-Million Shortfall

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon

(Apr 04, 2012) The CBC will make sharp cuts, eliminating 650 jobs, among other measures, to make up for what amounts to a $200-million shortfall over the next three years.

"As I said to our employees today, we can't get lost in this bad news. We've been handed a number. It's going to mean a very different broadcaster," said Hubert Lacroix, the CBC's president and chief executive officer.

That bad news - the $115-million reduction in funding over three years announced by the federal government in its recent budget - comes as the CBC is also trying to better service regions across Canada with expanded broadcasting signals, local news and more of a local Web presence.

These costs along with the government's cut add up to roughly $200-million, meaning that the broadcaster had to find major reductions in its operations. The CBC will also be forced to slow its move into local markets and further streamline its news operations, where some of the job cuts may be felt hardest.

"Mostly, our members work in news. It's what the CBC does most of with the staff it has. So it's going to have an impact, but we're expecting more details on that stuff in the days to come," said Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the CBC/Radio Canada branch of the Canadian Media Guild, representing most CBC employees outside Quebec.

The brunt of the loss will be in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, and Halifax operations will move to a new building without a full television studio. In total, 475 jobs will be eliminated this year, with further jobs lost over three years. Employees will begin receiving layoff notices by the end of April, and all staff cuts for this year take place by late July, the CBC said. Lacroix said there will be an additional one-time cost of $25-million in severance pay due to the layoffs.

The public broadcaster is also shutting down its expensive analogue transmission service faster than planned, eliminating the shortwave and satellite transmissions of its Radio Canada International service, and selling and leasing out more of its office space.

The CBC will be broadcasting fewer original TV dramas and comedies and running more repeat programming, as well as reducing the amount of radio productions and putting ads on its previously commercial-free Radio Two and Espace Musique networks.

"With the budget reductions, there was no way to reach that target by just efficiencies. So, unfortunately, programming will be affected in English services to the amount of about $43-million," said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president who runs all of the CBC's English side.

"That invariably affects the amount of programming we can commission on television for prime time. It will increase the repeats we have on prime time. And it will to a lesser extent affect some radio programming. But television is definitely taking the brunt of this cut," she said.

The choices of which shows to be hit will be finalized by the end of April. Stewart indicated that the shows that have become institutions on the CBC, such as The Current on Radio One or the fifth estate on CBC-TV, for instance, have a better chance of remaining on the air.

"They will be the first and foremost to be protected. However, we couldn't protect them all," Stewart said, adding that for viewers concerned about the public broadcaster, "we can commiserate with them about the fact that we will not be able to deliver as much as we have in the recent past."

George Zimmerman Arrested, Charged With 2nd Degree Murder

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 11, 2012) *George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has been arrested and will be charged with second-degree murder, according to special prosecutor on the case, Angela Corley.

Corley, who held a press conference an hour ago on the arrest and charge of Zimmerman, said at the Jacksonville State Attorney’s office in Jacksonville, Florida that she will not disclose where Zimmerman is in custody.

The charge of 2nd degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The charge is usually used in cases where a fight or other confrontation results in a death.

When asked if these charges were brought on by public pressure, Corley responded swiftly.

“We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition,” said Corey. “We prosecute based on the facts of any given case.”

She also said: “We don’t discuss the evidence of the case. It would be improper to do so.”

The 28-year-old Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, said the teenager attacked him. Martin’s family argued Zimmerman was the aggressor.

Zimmerman has also hired a new attorney, former prosecutor Mark O’Mara, after his previous attorneys resigned. O’Mara said: “I’m expecting a lot of work and hopefully justice in the end.”

Read more at CBS News


Canada Lends A Voice To Israel

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nancy J. White

(Apr 07, 2012) Montrealer Kathleen Reiter moved to Tel Aviv just this past summer, and now when she’s out on the street, people come up to greet her. Cars honk, and drivers yell, “Hey, Kathleen.”

And when Reiter, 23, arrived at the airport this week for her flight back to Montreal for Passover, who laid in wait? Paparazzi.

“I just stood there. It’s very weird,” laughs Reiter. Last weekend she won the first season of the Israeli version of The Voice, the popular television series singing competition. The trilingual pop-soul vocalist was voted the winner by the fans.

“I feel like the entire country is hugging me,” says Reiter. “It’s beautiful.”

“I am very grateful for this opportunity, and I want to ride this wave as far as it can take me,” says Reiter, who tried out for Canadian Idol when she was 17, but didn’t pass the audition. “I came to The Voice with more experience and confidence.”

And, she believes, being Canadian helped. She sang in English, French and Hebrew, which she knew from her Israeli-immigrant parents.

For one episode, contestants were told to pick a song that reminded them of home. Reiter sang “Je Suis Malade.”

“I wanted to show people I come from Quebec,” she explains. “I think the audience embraced that. In Israel everyone comes from different backgrounds.”

For the final live episode, a group of about 15 Canadian friends also newly moved to Israel and some other expats sat in the audience waving Canadian flags and wearing Habs shirts. They cheered “Olé, Olé, Olé” as if they were at a Canadiens game, she says.

“I saw them the entire time I was on stage — you can’t miss those flags,” she says. “It gave me a lot of courage, and I think made me have more fun up there.”

Growing up in Montreal, the youngest of three, Reiter always sang, encouraged by her beloved grandfather, Samuel Dayan, who passed away a few years ago. “Everyone says I got my voice from him. He was amazing. He sang the prayers in Hebrew during holidays and at Shabbat dinners. And he loved listening to music. He’d sit down on Friday nights after dinner and say, ‘Come, Kat. Sing for me.’ ”

Reiter started private vocal lessons at age 12 and took classes at the McGill Conservatory. At age 15, she won Montreal’s first Jewish Idol competition sponsored by Centre Hillel.

After graduating from the Herzliah High School, she attended music school in Montreal and was the lead singer in a rock band that played small clubs and bars around Montreal.

Every summer since childhood, though, she visited Israel; “it was like my home away from home.”

For a few years, she’d been debating moving there, and then this past summer decided to stay. She was considering enrolling in university there when she found out about The Voice auditions. “I saw it as a sign, I was meant to stay.”

The star she’d most like to emulate is Adele, so for her audition song, she chose that singer’s monster hit “Rolling in the Deep.” As in the show’s U.S. version, for that first episode back in October, four popular Israeli artists sat in swivel chairs, backs to contestants. If they liked what they heard, they’d swing around to face the singer and then try to convince the person to join their team.

All four wanted Reiter. “What an adrenalin rush,” she remembers. “I was in heaven.”

Through the season’s episodes, she advanced through audience votes. Reiter describes her singing style as a mix of soul, pop and rock.

For the final episode, she won with another Adele song, “Set Fire to the Rain.” “I like the lyrics, which have a lot to do with washing clean and starting fresh.”

And that’s what she’ll be doing when she heads back to Tel Aviv in a few weeks, starting life as a recording artist.

She won a recording deal for three albums with Helicon Records, an Israeli label affiliated with Universal Music. She will also be on a concert tour of Israel this summer. And then, who knows — but she suspects she’ll be back and forth to Montreal a lot. “Canada will always be a part of who I am.”

Janelle Monáe, Esperanza Spalding Top Jazz-Festival Bill

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Apr 11, 2012) Fast-rising eccentric soul star Janelle Monáe — currently sharing a spot atop the Billboard singles chart — will kick off this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival, whose lineup was unveiled Wednesday.

A concert at Nathan Phillips Square by Monáe, whose collaboration with pop band fun. on “We Are Young” is the first No. 1 hit for each, launches the fest (which runs until July 1) on Friday, June 22.

Big, familiar names from the jazz world dot the lineup — Roy Hargrove, George Benson, Trombone Shorty and 2011’s Grammy winner for Best New Artist,
Esperanza Spalding, among them.

However, also included are, as usual, acts that don’t fit a narrow definition of the genre: Vancouver indie-rockers Destroyer, reggae veteran Ziggy Marley and blues-rock’s Tedeschi Trucks Band foremost among them.

“The festival will always stretch the boundaries of jazz,” said Pat Taylor, executive producer for the festival, entering its 26th year. Last year, rapper Shad and funk band the Roots were among featured artists, and “Destroyer is one of the fastest selling shows we have,” he said.

Along with the boundary-pushing tradition of the event, the festival’s bookers were guided by this year’s theme: Tomorrow’s Jazz Today. Given that mission statement, the 27-year-old wunderkind Spalding would seem almost a must have; Taylor agreed and said organizers have “been working on her since that day” she won the Grammy.

The shows will be scattered around 11 venues ranging from the Opera House to Koerner Hall to the Harbourfront Centre. But here’s a quick list of the artists performing each day:

June 22: Janelle Monée, Kurt Rosenwinkel

June 23: Destroyer

June 24: Hiromi: The Trio Project, The Bad Plus with special guest Joshua Redman, Ig Henneman Sextet, Karrin Allyson, Mike Stern Band

June 25: Los Amigos Invisibles, François Houle Benoit Delbecq Duo, François Houle 5, Natalie Cole, Mario Romano Quartet, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Roberta Gambarini Quartet, Robert Glasper Experiment featuring Bilal

June 26: George Benson, Treasa Levasseur, Bill Frisell, Peter Appleyard & The Sophisticated Ladies, Soul Rebels

June 27: Phil Dwyer featuring Laila Biali, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Saidah Baba Talibah opening, Ziggy Marley, Spectrum Road featuring Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, John Medeski & Cindy Blackman-Santana

June 28: Benny Green, Angelika Niescier, Chris Tarry, Esperanza Spalding, Gretchen Parlato

June 29: Karl Jannuska, Sienna Dahlen, Kneebody, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Radio Deluxe, John Pizzarelli Quartet featuring Jessica Molaskey and special guest Emilie-Claire Barlow

June 30: Joan Osbourne Duo, Matt Anderson, Hobson’s Choice, Becca Stevens Band, Nellie McKay

July 1: Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars

Full information on the schedule and tickets are at torontojazz.com, or buy tickets directly via Ticketmaster.

Elvis Costello Spins His Hits To A Captivated Audience

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Fiona Morrow

(Apr 11, 2012) Embracing the cornball spirit deep in his heart, Elvis Costello brought a splash of old vaudeville to Vancouver on Tuesday, with a giant wheel of fortune, a go-go dancing cage and a string of anecdotes that namedropped everyone from Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry to Barney, that annoying purple dinosaur.

Costello couldn't have looked more comfortable bouncing though his back catalogue with the able assistance of his long-time crew, the Imposters (Steve Nieve, Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas) as he kicked off his Spectacular Spinning Songbook tour on his adopted home ground.

Taking interactivity back to its music-hall origins, Costello - and a demurely burlesque assistant - invited audience members onto the stage to spin the wheel and thus decide the next song the band would play. A nifty way to keep himself on his musical toes, the random set added a definite collaborative frisson to the evening, with the room becoming increasingly invested in where the wheel would stop.

Of course, Costello plays by his own rules and regularly diverted off on a musical tangent to throw in as many extra tracks he felt like performing as he could. (This was a hearty set with no opener that broke the two-and-a-half-hour marker with ease.) "Some of these songs are my friends," he said, gazing up at the flashing wheel. "Some of them have, frankly, betrayed me."

But it would be hard to pick the duds on this night's evidence: Clubland, Chelsea, Watching the Detectives, Alison, New Lace Sleeves, Everyday I Write the Book. And then there were the covers: Berry's No Particular Place to Go, Cash's Cry, Cry, Cry, not to mention bursts of Tears of a Clown and Tracks of My Tears.

Costello can rock with the best of them - and on Tuesday he was no less fully charged than one would expect - but it's when he dials it down for the ballads that the true beauty of his voice and the sincerity of his passion are laid bare.

A heartbreaking rendition of his anti-Falklands War ode Shipbuilding, for instance, was made more poignant with the backdrop of current events revisiting the islands' sovereignty, while an acoustic interlude of songs from the T-Bone-Burnett-produced 2010 album National Ransom was captivating.

Ever the showman, Costello drew the night to a close by walking through the rows of seats to drag wife Diana Krall to the stage to spin for the final song. Even that - King's Ransom - wasn't the end, however, as he couldn't resist launching into Pump It Up before persuading Krall to jam on the keyboards for (What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.

The Brits in the audience were tickled even further: After the house lights went up, Bring Me Sunshine by beloved U.K. comedy duo Morecambe and Wise played us out into the street. Now that's entertainment.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Black Keys headline Lollapalooza 2012

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Kot

(Apr 11, 2012) CHICAGO — The 2012 Lollapalooza lineup announced Wednesday reaffirms that the culture of DJs and electronic artists is catching up with rock as a live attraction on the lucrative summer festival circuit.

Two of the rock headliners for the Aug. 3-5 festival in Chicago’s Grant Park — the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a reunited Black Sabbath — have a retro feel. Also playing closing slots on the main stages will be the Black Keys and Jack White, two acts that update classic, guitar-based blues and rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

But for an increasing number of fans in a key Lollapalooza demographic — those in their late teens to mid-20s — the dance music acts are the primary draw. Continuing the increasingly heavy dance-music theme of past summers, two electronic acts for the first time will headline the main stages: 22-year-old Swedish DJ/producer Avicii (Tim Bergling) and French electronic duo Justice.

The big music story at last year’s festival was the explosive growth of dance-music acts such as Skrillex and Deadmau5, and this year the Perry’s electronic stage will once again be moving to a bigger location in Grant Park to accommodate the burgeoning fan base, Texas-based promoters C3 Presents have said. Among the headliners at Perry’s will be DJ/producer Bassnectar and singer Santigold, who is scheduled to release the follow-up to her acclaimed 2008 debut album in a few weeks.

Nostalgia remains a big theme on the rock side of the Lolla spectrum. Besides the Sabbath set, which (according to C3) includes original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, two other notable reunions are being staged: Texas avant-punk group At the Drive In, which broke up in 2001, and the Afghan Whigs, the Greg Dulli-led Cincinnati band that also imploded in 2001.

Think you’ve seen and heard some of this lineup before? You have. The Chili Peppers return to headline Lollapalooza for the third time, having done it previously in 1992 and 2006. Also making at least their second visits to the festival are the Black Keys, Jack White (who appeared previously with the Raconteurs), Miike Snow, Bloc Party, the Temper Trap and Delta Spirit.

Only a smattering of world-music acts are represented, including Brazil’s O Rappa, Chile’s Los Jaivas and Mali’s Amadou & Mariam. You’ll also have to dig pretty deep to find hip-hop, represented by Childish Gambino, Doomtree and Macklemore & Lewis.

In its early years during the ‘90s, the festival became a stepping stone for a large number of cutting-edge rock acts toward wider recognition. That role has diminished in recent years as Lollapalooza has reinvented itself as more of a mainstream festival for rock, while the electronic component has restored some of its youthful vitality.

This year’s lineup boasts at least a dozen up-and-comers aiming to broaden their audience. These include Canadian artist the Weeknd, alternative R&B vocalist Frank Ocean, British folk-soul singer Michael Kiwanuka, blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., soul-rockers Alabama Shakes, Merrill Garbus and her band Tune-Yards, and singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten.

Also on the bill: Florence + the Machine, Passion Pit, the Shins, Sigur Ros, Fun., M83, Franz Ferdinand, Metric, Dawes, the Temper Trap, Die Antwoord, Mona, the Growlers, the Gaslight Anthem, Hey Rosetta!, JEFF the Brotherhood, Band of Skulls, Anamanaguchi, SBTRKT, First Aid Kit, Tame Impala, Wax, the Walkmen, FIDLAR, JJ Grey & Mofro, LP, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound.

Milo Greene, Neon Indian, Dum Dum Girls, Kopecky Family Band, Washed Out, the Jezabels, Aloe Blacc, Trampled by Turtles, Yuna, Bear in Heaven, Walk Off the Earth, Blind Pilot, Animal Kingdom, Chairlift, Dev, J. Cole, the Black Angels, the Sheepdogs, Yellow Ostrich, the Dunwells, GIVERS, DJ Mel, Polica, Empires, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kevin Devine, Wale.

Dry the River, White Rabbits, Helena, Haley Reinhart, Imaginary Cities, the Head & the Heart, the Devil Makes Three, Overdoz, the Big Pink, Oberhofer, Ambassadors, Twin Shadow, the War on Drugs, DJ Zebo, the Tallest Man on Earth, Chancellor Warhol, Toro Y Moi, O Rappa, Laura Warshauer, Dr. Dog, Bowerbirds, Red Oblivion, Of Monsters and Men, Orchard Lounge.

Perry’s stage: Bassnectar, Santigold, Skream & Benga, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Kaskade, Little Dragon, Star Slinger, Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, Nadastrom, NERO, Sub Focus, DJ Nihal, Madeon, the White Panda, Knife Party, Zedd, SALVA, Zeds Dead, Paper Diamond, Kid Color, Big Gigantic.

Tickets ($230 for a three-day pass) are on sale at lollapalooza.com. Specific days for each act will be announced at a later date, at which point single-day tickets will go on sale. Last year, 270,000 fans attended over three days, a Lollapalooza record.

Former Barenaked Ladies Singer Steven Page Comes Home Alone

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Apr 11, 2012) On Steven Page's website, there's a calendar with a red circle around the date April 13. It's the night the former Barenaked Ladies singer-songwriter plays Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre, his first proper hometown concert since his split with one of Canada's most successful pop bands and the 2010 release of his stylish album Page One.

The singer chats with The Globe and Mail over the phone about smaller audiences, humbling experiences and funerals not his own.

You've played a number of shows in Toronto since your split from Barenaked Ladies, including performances with the Art of Time Ensemble. But the show at the Winter Garden, with your band, is your first proper solo concert here. How are you feeling about it?

Toronto is always a big deal. When I was with the Barenaked Ladies, we always tried to figure out when exactly in the tour the Toronto show was going to be. You're playing to friends and family and fans who've known you for a long time. We always hoped the show wouldn't be at the beginning of the tour, so we could work out some of the kinks and so on.

I guess your last performance here was at Jack Layton's funeral, at which you sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Given that he was a friend of yours, how were you able to keep it together?

It was really tough. I wobbled a bit. Any performance is most effective when the performer doesn't lose it. There's a sense that that's part of what performance is - that the person onstage is communicating what people in the audience don't have the ability to do, or the opportunity. So, I had to focus. It was emotional, standing feet away from Jack's coffin and looking into an audience, seeing his kids and his wife and lots of people from different parts of my life.

You faced a different sort of audience when you opened for the reunited pop-rockers Goo Goo Dolls on their tour last year. Was it humbling, singing to people who weren't necessarily there to see you?

I think, at that point, I was already sufficiently humbled. I've been learning more and more how well known I was or wasn't, and what people knew about me or liked about me.

How did those shows go?

It's interesting going out in front of an audience that isn't innately your own, and to watch them respond. Opening for other artists was something that we in Barenaked Ladies enjoyed doing. It gives you an opportunity to win over an audience that might not be yours. But the match with Goo Goo Dolls worked in a way because some of the audience who remembered their stuff from the nineties might have had fond memories of the Barenaked Ladies hits from the nineties as well.

But you're not Barenaked Ladies any more.

I noticed people who walked in as I was playing. It would take them a song or two, and then they'd realize, "Oh, it's that guy." Perhaps that's where the humbling came in. So I thought, "Okay, so they don't know who Steven Page is." They might have seen the name on the poster or the ticket, but it hadn't clicked that it was the guy who sings the songs that they know. There's still work to be done in that department.

How has your solo material clicked with people who do know you well?

People didn't know what to expect when Page One came out. Some were afraid it was going to be purposely inaccessible. But it's almost the opposite in a certain way.

Page One didn't sell as much as the Barenaked Ladies albums. Did that have something to do with your humbling?

I didn't set out to make a record that that was pop or not pop, or anything else. I pressed "record and play," and what came out came out. It was very freeing to be able to do that, without having to think about radio formats.

How did that work out?

If I'd been shrewder, perhaps I should have thought a little about radio formats. But I don't know who plays what I do any more anyways. Adult album alternative I guess is where I needed to have success. Hopefully we'll see more of that format here in Canada.

The album has been out a while. What kind of feedback are you getting now?

The one-on-one interaction I get with people is really positive. I still see people on Twitter and so on saying that they just picked up the record and they're falling in love with it. The record business is different than it was, and I like that the new paradigm allows people to come late to the party.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Steven Page plays Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre on April 13.

Strike Out The Band: A Cappella Festival Takes Over Harbourfront

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Apr 11, 2012) Musicians from across New York and London will be coming to Toronto for its newest music festival — and they’ll be travelling light.

No instruments will be needed at
The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, the city’s inaugural a cappella music festival, aiming to “give voice to the voice,” say organizers.

The event has attracted gospel choirs, barbershop quartets and more, says artistic director Aaron Jensen, an a cappella singer currently singing with Retrocity. He adds that he considers the festival — which sprang from the brainstorming of Jensen and general manager J-M Erlendson, co-founder of the Toronto group Countermeasure — long overdue.

“Toronto is such a strong base of vocalists, with so many high-calibre artists, to not have a meeting place seemed crazy,” says Jensen.

Events take place from April 13 to 15 at Harbourfront including a mass choir lead by singer John Burgess who will lead the crowd in his signature song “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. Song sheets will be provided and people intending to attend can visit the festival website to download and print the music of an original song being premiered at the festival. www.torontovocalaratsfestival.com

Headliners include
New York Voice, Canadian veterans The Nylons and London-based Swingle Singers. There are many free concerts.

Jensen gives us the low down on a cappella:

Why have a festival now?

It seems the time is right. We are seeing a renaissance of singing with The Sing Off and Glee. They have put the voice back on the front burner. A lot of it is excellent. The same is true of the Got Talent shows. New arts schools are springing up to accommodate this new interest.

Is it harder than singing with instruments?

There’s no doubt it requires different skills. You have to hold the pitch without the benefit of a band. You have to provide the groove and time. You have to be conscious of the blend so that the voices aren’t fighting. The a cappella voice has to multi task in a particular way.

What’s the hardest part to sing?

In a lot of pop and jazz groups, the bass is a strong vocal presence but the sopranos have the melody and are most exposed. Then those that do the inner parts, such as altos, add to the total. It’s very much a group thing, a team sport. It’s very rare to have fewer than 3, quartets are more common.

How did the festival start?

It’s our vision to showcase choral, pop, jazz, world, barbershop and everything in between. It all came together because we have a fantastic board and the vocal world was ready to jump on board.

What are the myths?

The biggest myth about a cappella is that it is barbershop. The second thing, being a member of a vocal group, you have to fight for legitimacy. A lot of audiences think of you as a novelty group. But the calibre of performance in a cappella is very high.

Just The Facts

What: Sing! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival

When: April 13 to 15

Where: Harbourfront Centre

Tickets: From free to $40, depending on performer. Details and ordering at www.torontovocalartsfestival.com

The Jacksons Reunite For ‘Unity’ Summer Tour?

Source: www.thestar.com - By Gerrick D. Kennedy

(Apr 05, 2012) LOS ANGELES — Almost three years after the death of Michael Jackson, his brothers are set to go back on tour together for the first time in nearly three decades.

The Jacksons have announced plans for a summer trek, dubbed the Unity Tour 2012, that will mark the first time Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito Jackson have toured together since their Victory Tour in 1984. Kicking off June 18 in Louisville, Ky., the 27-date jaunt will wrap up July 29 in Snoqualmie, Wash.

“This is a dream coming true,” Jackie Jackson said in a statement. “I can’t believe this is finally happening. There’s nothing like having all the brothers on stage at the same time. This will be exciting for our fans around the world — and I know at each concert, MJ’s spirit will be in the house with us.”

Rumours of a reunion began long before their former lead singer died of a fatal overdose of propofol in June 2009 — his doctor Conrad Murray is currently behind bars after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The brothers’ desire to reunite onstage was the focal point of their A&E docu-series, The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty. The show had initially been filmed as a one-off hour-long special about the Jacksons — minus Michael and younger brother Randy — and their desire to release an album and launch a tour in celebration of the band’s 40th year in showbiz. Following Michael’s death, the show took a more sombre tone, but was commissioned as a series.

Jermaine Jackson has been vocal in his resistance to other themed tributes, but he has embraced the idea of honouring the late King of Pop on the new tour. “I am so happy and excited to perform again onstage with my brothers,” he said in a statement. “I can’t wait to sing all the songs that were so much a part of all of our lives. We are ready and committed to keep the family’s legacy alive and perform once again with the highest level of excellence, creativity, and most of all, integrity.”


VIDEO: Trey Songz Talks About His Favorite Topics: Sex & Love

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 7, 2012) *Sexy soulful singer Trey Songz is hitting his fans with a new album, “Chapter V.” He stopped by “The Breakfast Club” to talk about the new music, relationships, sex and love. Trey told the audience he’s got a method to his music madness, explaining that he and his record label have an agreement to release mixtapes to build reputation and fans. So now his album is about to be released. As far as love and sex is concerned, the singer figured out that love is much more magical and wonderful than sex. On to more important topics like Trayvon Martin, he explained that his situation, tragic as it is, is something that afflicts the Black community on a regular basis. But this time the excitement and outrage can’t be a trend. “If we take a stand for something we have to be committed.” Check out the full interview below.

Mary Mary Debuts New Single: ‘Go Get It’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 10, 2012) *Secular’s favorite gospel sister group,
Mary Mary just released exciting new single, “Go Get It” for their new album set to be released May 8th. In addition, an exciting new television series, “Mary Mary,” debuted on popular cable network WE tv on Thursday, March 29, to the delight of fans everywhere. The new show follows the lives of sisters Erica and Tina Campbell onstage as successful recording artists and performers, and offstage as siblings, mothers and wives, striving to balance their superstar lifestyles with raising their own families. The show airs on Thursday nights at 9 pm, ET/PT.

Go Get It
God Bless
Little Girl
Can’t Give Up Now
I’m Running
Good to Me (featuring Destiny’s Child)
Sunday Morning
He Said
And I (featuring Kirk Franklin)
God In Me (featuring Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard)

Jill Scott Launches New Season of ‘VH1 Storytellers’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 10, 2012)
Jill Scott will kick off the 16th season of “VH1 Storytellers,” the network has announced. The critically-acclaimed music franchise, which allows artists to share intimate stories during live performances, returns next month will Scott anchoring a new lineup that includes multi-platinum selling artist Jason Mraz, chanteuse Norah Jones and roots rockers Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. “We’re so proud to announce these exceptionally talented artists as part of our 16th season of VH1 Storytellers,” said Tom Calderone, President, VH1. “Our audience is hungry for the kind of deeper musical experience and connection to artists that Storytellers brings. That connection has cemented the series’ status as a jewel of the entertainment world where artists intimately share their music and the often revealing and poignant stories behind their songs.” Below are the premiere dates for the upcoming season of “VH1 Storytellers”:

Jill Scott – May 21
Jason Mraz – June 1
Norah Jones – June 8
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals- June 15

::FILM NEWS::    

Why This Canadian Porn Star's Past Isn't Holding Her Back In Bollywood

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Stephanie Nolen

(Apr 07, 2012) When a family thrust an infant into her arms a few months ago and asked her to pose for a picture, Sunny Leone knew that everything was changing: her life, definitely. And India, too.

Leone is used to a certain level of fame. For a decade, fans have asked her for autographs and pictures. But they never brought their children. "Whoa," she recalled a few days later, in an interview in the swank Mumbai hotel where she is now living. "That's just weird."

Leone, born and raised in Sarnia, Ont., is one of the biggest stars in the North American adult-entertainment business. She's been a Penthouse Pet of the Year, starred in high-grossing hits such as Not Charlie's Angels XXX, has her own line of sex toys and a production company.

Her Punjabi parents left India more than 30 years ago to find a new life in Canada. Now Leone is back in the land she calls her "birthright," seeking a new life of her own - and she's a whole new kind of famous.

Last fall, she travelled from her home in Los Angeles to join a smash hit reality-TV program made here in Mumbai; called Bigg Boss, it follows the Big Brother, unlikely-group-of-people-trapped-in-a-house theme. Leone, the first South Asian star in the North American porn industry, seems to have been a bit of viewer bait chosen by a savvy producer. She tripped around in stilettos, smiling sweetly and speaking broken Hindi. On her first day, she was almost entirely unknown in India, but she quickly charmed millions of viewers.

Some of them didn't know she was a porn star. But as "Sunny Leone" shot to the top of the list of most-Googled celebrity names in India, and stayed there month after month, it became apparent that many Indians were in fact getting to know plenty about Leone's other acting life.

She "came out" to her fellow residents after a few weeks, although the censors beeped out the words "Penthouse" and "adult." Yet India, it seems, made a collective decision to get over it. Before Leone was voted out of the house at New Year's, she was hired by one of Bollywood's leading filmmakers, Mahesh Bhatt, to star in his next movie.

Combative at the press conference where he announced the plan, Bhatt seemed braced for criticism. This, after all, is a country where the production and purchase of pornography is entirely illegal; where mainstream films never show or use the word "sex," and usually stick to air-kissing; where morality squads of police arrest (or demand bribes from) canoodling couples in public parks; where more than half of all marriages continue to be arranged for two young people who have barely laid eyes on each other.

The outspoken head of India's Press Council, Justice Markandey Katju, also leapt to Leone's defence. "My opinion is that Sunny Leone was earning her livelihood in the U.S. in a manner acceptable in that country, though it is not acceptable in India. Hence, if she conducts herself in India in a manner which is socially acceptable in India and does not breach the social moral code in India, we should not treat her as a social outcast." (He also helpfully pointed out that many historical figures, from Buddha to Jesus, have accepted "fallen women" who went on to live lives of virtue.)

Yet Katju received a grand total of 38 complaints about Leone's presence on a show that routinely had more than 25 million viewers. Not exactly a hue and cry - just people who couldn't get enough details about what Leone was up to: learning to cook Indian food? practising Hindi? taking up yoga? oiling her hair? She tweeted, and the gossip magazines reported every detail.

"It's a huge attitudinal shift," said Varkha Chulani, a clinical psychologist who writes a sex-advice column for the popular women's magazine Femina. "Indians - those in the cosmopolitan areas - are being open-minded, less judgmental, about what can be provided in terms of sexual gratification. They don't mind experimenting, don't mind exploring their bodies."

Media have played a key role in the shift, she said, both in pushing the boundaries of what's shown here, and in bringing in Western influences. Young people 17 to 30, who are also the most exposed to technology, are the ones who have really changed, she added. "Anything above 30 is a little more restricted and restrained and a little more orthodox."

Leone, herself 30, says she senses the shift in people her age. "Our parents' generation isn't ready. But ours is." Clearly conscious of the uncertain cultural waters she is navigating, she is being careful with her message. "It's not something I'm changing. I'm not saying: Do what I'm doing. I say: Do what you want to do."

In her case, that's make money. Leone was a C student in school, she says, but always an entrepreneur: selling candy, lemonade, and organizing her brother and his friends to shovel snow for $3 an hour.

She was 19 and in nursing school, aspiring to model, in California (where her parents had moved when she was a teen) when a photographer pointed out that she could earn plenty more modelling without clothes on. He sent around her portfolio; her first-ever nude shoot was for Penthouse.

At first, she didn't tell her conservative Sikh parents about her new career. But before long, she came to the attention of Bob Guccione, publisher of Penthouse. (He gave her the name she uses now; she was born Karen Malhotra, or Karenjit Kaur Vohra - her "people" won't confirm which, for security reasons, they claim.) It was in 2003 that she won the title of Penthouse Pet of the Year, which put her on the cover of the magazine and led to appearances around the globe. She could no longer put off that awkward conversation with mom and dad.

"I wanted to tell them before the rest of the family told them. This was the least I could do," she says.

How did that conversation go? "My mom didn't get it. At all. She had no idea what I was talking about at first. And then - she did. Then she was upset. But I don't know any mother who would say, 'You're naked and you're in a magazine - yay!'" Her father was distressed, she says, but soon reiterated the maxim he had always told his children - Do your best.

In a way, she says now, she was living up to the immigrant ideal: She took home a $100,000 (U.S.) cheque as Pet of the Year. When she started making adult films a few years later, there were bigger cheques. And before long, she had her own production house; SunLust Pictures earns about $1-million in annual revenue, says her partner, Daniel Weber.

"It was what they taught me," Leone says about her parents: 'Don't rely on anybody. You'll have to do everything yourself. Be self-sufficient.'"

She speaks now about her parents - and the phone calls that poured in from horrified aunts and cousins - with a hint of regret in her voice. "It was a crappy situation for them." But the family soon agreed that they wouldn't discuss it, and stayed close, she says, meeting for dinner every week. Both parents died in the last few years; she and her brother brought their ashes back to India.

As a child, Leone says, she watched Hindi films with her mother, and they talked about how she might one day be in one. When she flew back to Mumbai to start filming her first Bollywood role, she was met by a crowd of several hundred photographers at the airport, and the attention has barely let up. Fresh-faced, friendly and homesick for Timbits and Coffee Crisps, she seems equal parts delighted and bewildered by this twist in her life. "I wasn't going to be famous in North America," she says. "But here I am."

Laws against porn notwithstanding, Leone's adult movies are in fact widely available here; pirated copies are sold in alleyways for about $4. The country has a comparatively low rate of Internet use - about 100 million people, less than a 10th of the population, access the Web at least once a month - but that's expanding at a ferocious pace. Google says that, globally, seven of the Top 10 cities for porn searches are in India.

Leone's girl-next-door demeanour slips slightly when she talks about the piracy; the flinty entrepreneur shows through instead. Eighty per cent of the traffic on her website, and 60 per cent of her revenue come from India, she says. "And the second it's legalized here ... that's gonna be a business opportunity."

Q&A: Mary Harron on The Moth Diaries

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Apr 05, 2012) Canadian director Mary Harron was intrigued by the intensity of teenaged friendships when she started working on the script and later began directing The Moth Diaries.

Based on the 2002 novel by Rachel Klein, it’s told from the point of view of Rebecca, a 16-year-old student at a boarding school, and her growing suspicion about Ernessa, a strange girl who arrives one night. Tragedies seem to follow in Ernessa’s footsteps. Chief among them for Rebecca is the sudden indifference of her best pal Lucie, who is suddenly obsessed with Ernessa and wasting away before her eyes. Could Ernessa be a vampire?

Harron spoke with the Star during last September’s TIFF, where the Irish-Canadian film had its premiere.

Q: What did you discover in The Moth Diaries that made you see it as a film?

A: I was very interested in the idea of teenaged friendship, the intense craziness of those friendships that I remember. When I read the book, it brought those back to me. It brought back the beautiful side of them you see in the first part (of the movie), that time when you are leaving your families behind and you create a world of your own with your best friends. There’s no word in English to describe that kind of young girl intense friendship love and I love the way the book caught that.

Q: You talk about (Roman Polanski’s) Rosemary’s Baby influencing you. How?

A: Where Rosemary’s Baby was an influence for me was with the idea of fear of pregnancy, and it’s the same here with puberty and sexuality. Reading (The Moth Diaries) brought a lot of things back to me and one was this thing of how everybody is dying to have sex but there was also a great fear that virginity was this dividing line, a river you were scared to cross, because when you did cross over you were in the adult world, and these girls are like that, standing on the (river) bank.

Q: For a vampire movie, we don’t see much blood, except for the one scene where it literally rains down on Rebecca and Ernessa. Why is that?

A: Most of the blood is not blood in the traditional sense; you see (red) nail polish, you see period blood, you see hallucinatory blood and her father’s suicide. It shows there are other kinds of blood.

Q: How was it to shoot the rain of blood scene, which is in the book as well as the movie?

A: That was horrible (to shoot)! I didn’t want to do it CGI, I wanted to do it practically. I just felt with CGI it would look fake. So here we have this chapel of white marble and blond wood (in a former monastery near Montreal) and I said, “I want to have two tonnes of fake blood pouring from the ceiling.” We got an enormous child’s swimming pool and had rotating shower heads pumping out washable blood. And that was it, and we had to try to do it all in one take.

Ben Kingsley Reportedly To Play Villain In ‘Iron Man 3’

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Apr 10, 2012)
Sir Ben Kingsley is to appear in Iron Man 3.

The Hugo actor is in final negotiations to star in the forthcoming Marvel Blockbuster as an enemy of Tony Stark/ Iron Man — who is played by Robert Downey Jr. — though the exact details of the character are being kept under wraps.

However, Variety reports the villain is expected involved in the spread of a virus through nanobots because the film is believed to be loosely based on the 2005 Extremis comic book series.

News of the story arc may disappoint some fans as it had previously been speculated the next movie in the series would see the titular character take on his original arch-enemy the Mandarin, a wealthy Chinese scientist and martial arts expert who backed the warlord who imprisoned Stark.

Jon Favreau — who directed the first two films in the franchise — had previously expressed an interest in exploring the character, but he has moved on from the series, with Shane Black at the helm of Iron Man 3.

Black is co-writing the script with Drew Pearce.

Joining Kingsley and Downey Jr. in the movie will be returning stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle.

Production is set to begin in May, and the film has a scheduled release date of May 3, 2013.

Bully Review: Five Portraits Of Pain, No Action

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

A documentary on victims of school bullying. Written and directed by Lee Hirsch. 94 minutes. Opens April 6 at the Varsity. PG

(Apr 05, 2012)
Bully presents five portraits of pain: vulnerable boys and girls across the U.S. who are treated so badly by their classmates, they resort to self-loathing, suicide or attempted homicide.

It’s heartbreaking, but Lee Hirsch’s documentary truly shocks by the two sets of outrageous bureaucrats it exposes: one cowers on-screen, and the other hides in the offices of the MPAA, America’s movie censor.

School, police and civic authorities in the film habitually take a “see no evil” or “kids will be kids” stance to simply wish bullying away.

Their shrugs are shared by MPAA censors, who have inexcusably slapped an “R” rating on the film stateside, due to a small amount of profanity in it.

Bully should be seen by as many students as possible, but the rating effectively limits access to all but high school seniors and older, keeping the film out of most schools. To fight the restriction, the Weinstein Co. is distributing the film without a rating, leaving it up to individual exhibitors to decide whether to admit those under 18.

(Bully gets a much more sensible “PG” rating in Ontario and other Canadian provinces.)

More than 18 million American students are bullied each year, the doc tells us. Many millions more experience similar abuse the world over, since bullying isn’t unique to the U.S. — in fact, Ontario MPPs are currently considering two bills that deal with this persistent problem.

Bully suggests that U.S. legislators aren’t anywhere near as diligent on the issue. This maddening lack of action cries out for Michael Moore’s guerrilla style of filmmaking, wherein bullies and their enablers are called out and dressed down.

Writer/director Hirsch takes a calmer approach, which is very good at illustrating the victims of bullying but is somewhat wanting for context and confrontation.

He makes case studies of five students in four states, cutting between them, and beginning with one of the most shocking: Georgia teen Tyler Long, first seen as a kid mugging for the camera, who at 17 hanged himself in his bedroom closet because he couldn’t stand being bullied a moment longer.

“He had a target on his back,” his grieving father says. “Everybody knew that.”

Everybody knew, just as everybody seems to know about the other subjects of Hirsch’s film: Alex, 12, of Iowa, who regularly gets knocked about on his school bus; Kelby, 16, of Oklahoma, who is run over and ostracized for her sexual orientation; Ja’Meya, 14, of Mississippi, an honour student who aims a gun at her tormentors and ends up in a reformatory; and Ty, 11, also of Oklahoma, who took his own life after years of school abuse.

Bully makes us feel for these young lives, and the devastation that has been brought to them and their families. The film also makes us shake our heads at how little is being done to help them, or to prevent similar tragedies.

Parents are concerned, and seek redress and action, but little gets done.

An assistant principal, viewing hidden-camera footage of Alex being bullied on his school bus, offers only tut-tuts.

“Buses are notorious bad places for a lot of kids,” she says. “Tell me how to fix this . . . I don’t have any magic.”

Translation: Just suck it up and tough it out, kid.

A law enforcer shows no interest in what prompted Ja’Meya to snap. Once she took out the gun, which she never fired, she lost any right to complain.

At another school, a superintendent acknowledges that bullying is a problem, but “is it a major, overarching concern? . . . No, it is not.”

Comments such as these prompt Ty’s stepfather Kirk Smalley to observe: “I guarantee you, if some politician’s kid was being picked on in a public school, there would be change tomorrow. There would be law tomorrow.”

It’s hard to disagree with such a sentiment, but it’s unfortunate that Hirsch wasn’t able to dig deeper. No bullies are interviewed for Bully, apart from one kid, now a victim of bullying himself, who says he stopped picking on other kids because “I realized what a jerk I was being.”

Some background on the problem would have also been useful, such as how the Columbine High teen shooters of 1999 claimed to be getting back at jocks who had tormented them.

What do psychologists say? Are there any places in the world where bullying has been effectively dealt with?

Bully, regrettably, doesn’t answer these questions or offer deep insights, which would make for an excellent follow-up documentary.

But the film remains a valuable document for exposing the toll that bullying takes, and for sparking discussion of a problem that is far too often swept under the rug.


Fightville review: Caged dreams of the MMA fighters

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

A documentary about MMA fighters directed by Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein. 85 minutes. Playing April 6 to 12 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. 14A

(Apr 05, 2012)
Fightville, which premiered at Hot Docs in 2011, directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein follow two small-town Louisiana mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, Dustin Poirier and Albert Stainback, who dream of cage-match glory and a ticket to the big time, paying their admission to the show with single-minded dedication. The process is bloody, raw and often emotional, and the fights themselves shocking in their brutality, as the cameras follow the young Turks who do battle for a few hundred dollars. Their training regimen is both admirable and foolish: one fighter has to drop 20 pounds in less than a week to make a weight division, and the process is torturous. Gil “The Thrill” Guillory is the promoter who pins everything on their success while Zen-like dude “Crazy” Tim Credeur trains them at the Gladiators Academy. It’s a glorious name for a strip-mall gym, but reality rarely intrudes in this world of laser focus and unwavering determination.

50 Cent Joins Stallone, Schwarzenegger in ‘The Tomb’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 9, 2012) *50 Cent has signed on to join Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Caviezel in director Mikael Hafstrom’s action film “The Tomb.” According to Variety, the Stallone plays an expert on structural security who is framed and put in a high-security prison of his own design. He must put his skills to the test to find out who put him there. Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio and Oscar nominee Amy Ryan were also added to the cast. Ryan will play Stallone’s business partner and potential love interest. D’Onofrio, who previously starred in the direct-to-video film “Fire With Fire” with 50 Cent, is in talks to play the deputy director of the Prisons Bureau who convinces Stallone to take one last job before he retires. Jones will play a ruthless guard with no moral compass who enjoys making life difficult for Stallone’s character.. There is currently no word on 50 Cent’s character in the film. His upcoming slate includes “Setup” with Bruce Willis, “Freelancers” with Robert De Niro and “The Frozen Ground” with Nicolas Cage. The Tomb is scheduled to hit theaters in Summer 2013.

Think Like a Man? Do Women Really Want to?

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 7, 2012) *With the new Steve Harvey book turned movie hitting the big screen in a few weeks, Dr. Boyce Watkins decided to ask his thousands of readers what he thinks of a book teaching women to think like men. Do women really want to think like men? There’s no gender specific line of thinking and we need to accept that. Check out an excerpt from Boyce’s piece below: No matter what point of view we all take on the state of Black relationships, we can all agree that there some serious, ugly issues. In fact, the depth of the dysfunction that has come to plague the Black family structure is sick enough to make you wonder if we should declare an indefinite moratorium on all reproductive activities. This saddens me, for we can look right to the prison industrial complex, broken educational systems and economic disparities as root causes of the sickness that has come to kill our ability to love one another. Added to these systematic obstacles, we can throw on a layer of Hip-Hop music that teaches us that all women are “b*tches and hoes,” and that the size of a man’s wallet trumps his character in making him the right baby daddy for you. Read more at NewsOne.

::TV NEWS::    

François Arnaud On Being Borgia

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Apr 08, 2012) In the Borgias world, everything is relative.

Literally. As the sumptuously sleazy period drama unfolds its second season Sunday night (10 p.m. on Bravo!), black-sheep son Cesare (
François Arnaud) is left to take care of family business when his holy father (Jeremy Irons) becomes increasingly distracted by, among other worldly considerations, his first ménage à trois.

Of course, his being the Pope and all, there is also the question of faith: his lofty station notwithstanding, one is constantly surprised by the fervour and sincerity of this corrupted pontiff’s true belief.

“You’ll see later in Season 2 that the Pope is relying only on his faith,” reveals the Montreal-born Arnaud, who returns in the pivotal role of Cesare.

“For example, when the French have cannon and gun powder to fight the Italians, all the Pope decides to do is pray for rain to soak the gun powder.

“And I’m like, ‘Are you serious? Is that all?’ But I’m not awaiting his approval anymore. I just go ahead and blow it up myself.”

Cesare’s fractious fraternal relationship with his favoured brother, Juan, also blows up in Season 2. “The rivalry between the two brothers is on a completely new level now,” Arnaud reveals. “It’s full-blown hatred. The whole second season is very much focused on that and the outcome of that.”

This is also the season, he says, where Cesare finally comes into his own. “I think he really comes of age during the second season,” he says. “When you first see Cesare in Season 1, he is very much a boy. Some of his personality is there . . . but by the end of Season 2, the transformation is complete. He’s grown into Cesare Borgia.”

The character’s learning curve has been echoed by the actor’s. “I’m getting to know him more and more . . . but not entirely. That’s what’s so great about it.

“I’ve read a lot of biographies; they all contradict each other. I did do a lot of research, but at one point I decided to leave that all behind and just trust the script. I know enough and the character knows much less than I do. I have to get back in his shoes.”

He’s learned to put his trust in Neil Jordan, the series’ visionary creator and writer, who oversees every aspect of the production. “He’s very hands-on, and (American co-producer) Showtime is really good about not interfering and giving him free reign.”

Good for the show; particularly good for Cesare. “I think I’m the closest character to Neil’s heart,” Arnaud grins.

As to what or who is closest to Cesare’s heart, that would of course be his soon-to-be even more infamous sister Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger), a relationship that, even unconsummated, would appear to be distinctly incestuous.

“I think it’s definitely there,” agrees Arnaud. “They’re just perfect for each other . . . and that sets the expectations really high for any other woman or man that comes into their lives.

“But I think it’s more about love than about sex with these two.”

If so, on The Borgias, that makes them the exception.

“Some people say we sex it up too much,” Arnaud allows, “but from what I’ve read, we’ve actually tamed it down.”

And Arnaud would know, having read up extensively on the subject and even visited the Vatican in Rome (The Borgias is shot in Hungary, on elaborately recreated sets).

“For the second season, I tried to do more research about the Renaissance and about the period in general,” he says,

It’s all recorded there, however contradictorily. So there’s not a lot of room left for spoilers.

It’s history,” laughs Arnaud. “Look it up on Wikipedia.”

Shannen Doherty Talks About ShannenSays

Source: www.thestar.com - By Chantaie Allick

(Apr 05, 2012) Beverly Hills, 90210 alum Shannen Doherty lets it all hang out for her fans in a new reality TV show, ShannenSays, debuting in the U.S. on Tuesday on the cable channel WE tv. It chronicles the weeks leading up to Doherty’s wedding to photographer Kurt Iswarienko. Clips circulating on the Internet have showed Doherty surprising Iswarienko with the idea of a pre-nup and going bridezilla on him when he wants to play football with friends instead of staying home and helping with wedding planning. But in a conference call with the media, Doherty said being authentic in the show meant “baring the good, the bad and the ugly.” Here’s an edited version of the chat:

Q: What would you say is the biggest misconception about you?

A: I guess the biggest misconception is that I only have one side to me. People don’t ever consider there is a softer and more vulnerable side, or they don’t consider what was behind some of the antics when I was very young.

Q: What compelled you to do this show? Whose idea was it?

A: It was mine and it was shared with my husband. It was one of those moments where we were on vacation, and maybe we had drank one too many margaritas and thought it would be kind of interesting to do something together.

Q: What were your initial concerns about filming the reality series?

A: I think the initial concern is always the same thing of how much privacy and how much of myself am I giving up. What goes hand in hand with that is that whatever you do, at all costs, you want to be authentic and truthful, and for us the only way to do it right was to be ourselves. That means baring the good, the bad and the ugly, and with that comes fear and trepidation.

Q: What was the most unexpected element of planning the wedding?

A: I think the craziest thing was two weeks prior to the wedding, my wedding dresses showed up and they were completely wrong. Wrong to the point of I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I just did both and was an absolute hysterical mess.

Q: What do you think are people going to be most surprised (about) by watching the show?

A: Although I’m known for being brutally honest, I don’t think anybody would assume that I would put my life out there and my emotions and my heart and my soul: they’re basically on a chopping block right now. I don’t think anybody would expect me to do something like that and the show is nothing if it’s not honest.

Q: What’s different about planning your third wedding, especially for television?

A: Everything. I don’t think it’s about what’s different about your third wedding; I think it’s what’s different about this wedding. It’s because this is for real. I met a man that just lights me up. I met someone who makes me laugh, who makes me smile, who makes me happy. It’s a totally different thing, so planning a wedding with him was meaningful and significant. It’s also the first time I declared my love for somebody in front of my family.

Q: How’s newlywed life?

A: Things couldn’t be better. Married life is amazing and I can only say that because of my partner. It’s the little things. It’s when he comes home and the first thing he does is comes into my office, wraps his arms around me and says I love you, missed you, even though he was only gone for two hours. It’s a relationship I’ve dreamed about my entire life and the closest thing that I’ve ever had to what my parents had, which was so unbelievably beautiful and special. So married life is phenomenal.

Glee, New Girl And Raising Hope Renewed By Fox

Source: www.thestar.com - By Yvonne Villarreal

(Apr 10, 2012) LOS ANGELES — Fox announced Monday that it is renewing
Glee, Raising Hope and New Girl.

That means New Girl is back for a second season, Raising Hope will return for a third and Glee makes a go at a fourth.

The Glee renewal is hardly surprising. One of the network’s most prized possessions, the musical dramedy has averaged 8.9 total viewers and a 3.8 rating in the ages 18 to 49 demographic. And the buzz surrounding the show extends behind the scenes as well, especially this season as some of McKinley High’s chirpers (Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith) gear up for graduation. New episodes of Glee will begin Tuesday, following the series’ brief hiatus, and it will likely lay the groundwork for what viewers can expect in the fourth season.

And it’s just as unsurprising that Fox is bringing back freshman comedy New Girl. Starring Zooey Deschanel, the Tuesday series is averaging just over 8 million viewers and a 4.2 rating in the 18-49 demo. Meanwhile, fellow Tuesday comedy Raising Hope is standing steady with an average of 5.6 million viewers per week this season and a 2.6 rating in the young-adult demo.

The renewals come a week after the network announced it would be bringing back Bones for an eighth season. But still no announcements on the status of Fringe, Alcatraz and The Finder.


Keshia Chante, Tara Oram sign on to YTV's 'The Next Star'

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Apr 05, 2012) Toronto—R&B/pop singer Keshia Chante and country star Tara Oram have signed on as judges and mentors for the upcoming season of YTV's talent show The Next Star. Record label executive Mark Spicoluk will also be on the judging panel for season 5 of the show, which YTV says is its top-rated series. Hosted by Adamo Ruggiero of Degrassi: The Next Generation fame, The Next Star sees Canadian singers ages 15 and under vying to become “Canada's next singing sensation.” Previous contestants have included Ontario-based Alyssa Reid, who was recently nominated for a Juno Award for new artist of the year. Last season's judges were singer Suzie McNeil, music marketing veteran Steve Cranwell and songwriter and former MuchMusic VJ Christopher Ward. A six-city, cross-Canada audition tour for season 5 of The Next Star begins April 28 in Halifax. The new season is due to premiere this summer.

VIDEO: Eva Marcille Discusses New Reality Show

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 6, 2012) *Last week, while on the red carpet for the new comedy series titled “The Comedy Underground” (which will be hosted by Tony Rock) Frank Holder’s Humor Mill Mag happened upon former “Top Model” and now actress Eva Marcille and pals. They talked about her new reality show which is about to debut on Oxygen. The show is said to be titled “Taking Hollywood” and will follow Eva, music manager Kelly Marie Dunn, Designer Nikki Chu, and actress Denyce Lawton (“House of Payne”). If you’re wondering if show is about life in Hollywood and partying, and most importantly, why you should we watch it, check out the Frank and the ladies below.


Marina Nemat Relives Her Pain For Stage Version Of Prisoner Of Tehran

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 09, 2012) Marina Nemat was a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Iran in 1982 when she was tortured and sentenced to death for her political beliefs.

It took her 25 years to confront the pain of her past, which she did in her 2007 book,
Prisoner of Tehran. Now, five years later, she’s going through it all again for the stage version, which has its world premiere at Theatre Passe Muraille on April 11.

“Why am I doing this? Because recovery through telling and sharing is one of the most important things we can do, no matter the nature of the event.”

She’s dressed smartly and smiles warmly, but there’s no denying the pain that behind her eyes when she revisits her story.

“I had stopped going to school in September because I knew I was on the blacklist. I had attended every protest rally against the government because we were ‘the generation of the revolution.’

“The government said, ‘You have a good life now, so shut up,’ but they had not delivered the liberties they promised.”

Some of Nemat’s friends had been arrested and she hadn’t heard from them again, “but still, we all wondered how bad it could be. I soon found out.”

On a January morning, Nemat was arrested and placed in the dreaded Evin Prison, “and the torture began a few hours after my arrest. I was sentenced to die, but I wasn’t even allowed to be present at my trial.

“There were executions every night and many of friends were thrown into mass graves. It all depended on the roll of the dice whether you lived or died.”

After a while, one of the guards fell in love with Nemat and offered to marry her. “You are in a place that is the equivalent of hell and the devil is the boss. So when he says he wants you, you must agree.”

When asked what the marriage was like, she replies bluntly, “Use your imagination.”

After two years and two months, she was finally released, in the aftermath of her husband’s politically motivated murder, but that was when the real suffering started.

“My parents would not accept what I had been through, they would not discuss it. The whole country did not accept it. An entire nation was in denial. So why shouldn’t I be in denial, too?

“I created a fictional world in my head in which I was a normal girl who was never tortured and never saw the things I had seen, or undergone the pain and humiliation that I had known. I have since learned that is what victims of post-traumatic stress do but, at the time, I felt I was living in my own personal world of insanity.”

She soon immigrated to Canada, “because my brother had lived here since 1979 and I thought it was a safe place that would welcome me.” It did. Her parents soon followed “and we worked hard, we built a new life from scratch.”

But the demons were still locked inside Nemat’s head.

At her mother’s funeral, her father leaned over and softly whispered to her, “She forgave you before she died, Marina.”

She pauses. “That was when I started screaming. My first full psychotic episode. The silence I was drowning in had followed me to Canada.”

Nemat sought psychiatric help and discovered she was far from alone in the world of repressed memories, “and, in fact, I had so many accomplices around the world, all these people who felt as I did. I was no longer alone.”

She finally began to commit her story to writing and a 2005 article in the Star set on the path that resulted in the publication of Prisoner of Tehran. Now writer-director-actor Maja Ardal has convinced Nemat to bring her story to the stage.

Nemat was in the headlines again recently when Prisoner of Tehran was one of the finalists in the 2012 Canada Reads competition on CBC, during which judge Anne-France Goldwater, a Montreal liar, called Nemat a liar, an allegation Nemat has refuted.

“Once you put your story out there, it is not just yours anymore and you must be prepared for what happens,” says Nemat. “I can live with these attacks on my character because I know the good I am doing.

“I deliver speeches all over the world and, many times, a young girl will wait till everyone is gone and then tell me of family abuse or sexual abuse that had happened to her, and how my story had given her the courage to speak out and to continue.

“That is why I go on.”

Alberta Ballet To Base Dance Work on k.d. Lang's Music

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Apr 5, 2012) After creating pop ballets featuring the music of Joni Mitchell, Elton John and Sarah McLachlan,
Alberta Ballet artistic director Jean Grand-Maître is teaming up with a native of the province for his latest contemporary collaboration. Balletlujah!, set to the music of k.d. lang, will have its world premiere in May, 2013.

"I thought it would be fantastic to really have someone who hits home in Alberta, and k.d. lang is someone who's been on my list for a long time," Grand-Maître said on Thursday after announcing his 10th season with Alberta Ballet. "I had her very high on my list as a collaborator and someone that would inspire me very much."

According to Grand-Maître, the idea for the title came from Alberta-born lang, whom he met with briefly while working on the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics. "She stole the show," he recalled. "I was just so blown away by this extraordinary voice."

Two months ago, he travelled to Los Angeles to meet with her about the ballet. She had been up all night for the Buddhist New Year, he recalls, but on no sleep talked for two hours about the collaboration.

"It was amazing," he said. "That's the difference between just getting the rights to choreograph ballets to these people's music and meeting them. It's like they open their personal diaries to me."

The full-length ballet is still in its early stages, he said, but Grand-Maître envisions it as a series of sketches about a young girl growing up on the Prairies.

"[Lang] told me that when she was younger, her dad bought her a motorcycle and she would drive out to the Prairies until there was nobody [around]. And she says for her, that was one of the greatest sensations of freedom she ever had," said Grand-Maître, himself speaking from the Prairies, somewhere between Calgary and Red Deer. "As I listen to her music ... that voice, that languid voice, seems to echo loud into nowhere. It's like the feeling of the Prairies."

Lang is coming on board as a collaborator, and will provide "intimate assistance" in the early stages of the creative process on the production's soundtrack, costume and set designs.

While he has written a first draft, Grand-Maître said he's still working on song selection. He does reveal lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah will definitely be included, as will her pop hit Constant Craving, along with a number of tracks from last year's release Sing It Loud.

Grand-Maître's previous pop-star collaborations include The Fiddle and the Drum (Mitchell), Love Lies Bleeding (John) and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (McLachlan).

As for his other contemporary works, Love Lies Bleeding will travel to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa next season and to Montreal as part of Les Grands Ballets's season. Grand-Maître said there has been interest from Germany and Australia in mounting the production, likely in the 2013-14 season. He's also planning tours for Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and is in talks with Cohen's son, Adam, about creating a ballet set to his father's music.

Balletlujah! will have its world premiere on May 3, 2013, in Edmonton, followed by dates in Calgary.

Clybourne Park: Two Generations Of Race, Class And Real Estate Angst

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By J. Kelly Nestruck

(Apr 06, 2012) From Willy Loman trying to pay that last instalment on his mortgage in Death of a Salesman to the unscrupulous hustlers attempting to unload worthless parcels of Florida land in Glengarry Glen Ross, so many of the best American plays have been about real estate, in one way or another.

Clybourne Park, a nasty and brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy by Chicago-based playwright Bruce Norris, tackles this North American obsession head on - but also digs into the politics of race and class buried beneath housing bubbles and bidding wars. Could it arrive in Canada at a better moment?

Audaciously, Norris's play tells the story of Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 classic A Raisin in the Sun from the perspective of its sole white character.

In Hansberry's famous drama, the first by an African-American woman to open on Broadway (where Norris's play also opens this month), the Younger family of inner-city Chicago is visited by Karl Lindner from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, who offers the black family money to not buy a house in his all-white neighbourhood.

Clybourne Park begins in the house in question, where Bev (Maria Ricossa) and her gloomy husband Russ (Michael Healey) are packing up for a move to the suburbs. They've sold their place to the Youngers for less than it's worth, the price being depressed - like Russ - due to a tragedy that took place within the house's walls.

Soon, Lindner (an awkward Mark McGrinder) shows up with his deaf wife Betsy (Kimwun Perehinec) in tow, to try to convince the couple to back out of the sale.

Russ and Bev refuse to back out of the sale, but Karl thinks he's right, that racial mixing will be bad for both blacks and whites. Indeed, he tries to convince Russ and Bev's African-American maid Francine (Audrey Dwyer) and her husband Albert (Sterling Jarvis) on this point in a discussion that eventually leads to an all-out explosion of tempers in the household, but perhaps not for the reasons you'd expect.

Flash forward from 1959 to 2009 and, as it turns out, Lindner was correct about part of his argument at least. The arrival of African-American families in the inner suburb of Clybourne Park led to "white flight" and the neighbourhood's property values went into decline in the 1960s.

Now, however, house prices are back on the rise as Clybourne Park gentrifies - and the local Property Owners' Association is meeting to discuss proposed plans to tear down the Youngers' old homestead and build a new house on the same spot.

This time, it's a white couple named Steve and Lindsey (played by McGrinder and Perehinec) whose real-estate dreams are being stymied by a black couple named Kevin and Lena (Dwyer and Jarvis). Since we're in 2009 and in the United States, naturally there are lawyers involved too, which allows Ricossa and Jeff Lillico to give a pair of hilarious supporting performances.

At first, the conversation is about frontage and height with digressions about holidays in Prague, but eventually the subject of race surfaces (even as the builders find something else buried in the back yard). As the initially friendly meeting devolves into a shouting match, the two couples unleash a barrage of racist and sexist jokes in an attempt to prove who is least easily offended. (If you want to know what the difference is between a white woman and a tampon, well, you'll have to buy a ticket.)

Norris is a satirist who's particularly adept at poking through the surface of white liberal guilt, but director Joel Greenberg's production only gets half of his play right.

In the section set in 1959, much of the politically incorrect humour surrounding the treatment of the minority characters falls flat. Greenberg runs away from the material, directing it in a broad style that makes it seem like a bad sitcom instead of delivering the perfectly pitched insensitivity of a cable drama like Mad Men.

Even the comedy that isn't politically charged, like the opening banter between Russ and Bev about Neapolitan ice cream, comes off as excruciatingly unfunny due to the mismatched tone.

Thanks to a deeply felt performance by Healey as the troubled Russ, however, at least the drama of this opening act lands somewhat effectively.

In the second act, however, Clybourne Park springs to life and the production soars. Director and actors clearly find skewering contemporary culture more comfortable, the exception being a huffing and puffing McGrinder, who misses the meat of some of his best angry-white-male lines like: "How can the majority be marginalized?"

In the end, Studio 180 may not be giving Toronto the ideal production of Clybourne Park, but for those who want to see what the international buzz over this play is about, it's cheaper than a flight to New York.


‘Lion King’ Leaps ‘Phantom’ To Become Broadway’s Top Earner

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(Apr 10, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Very quietly, almost stealthily, a new king has been inaugurated on Broadway.

Box office figures released Monday show that
The Lion King last week swiped the title of Broadway’s all-time highest grossing show from The Phantom of the Opera.

The cumulative gross for The Lion King is $853,846,062, according to the show’s numbers. Its chandelier-swinging rival’s cumulative total is $853,122,847, according to the musical’s publicist. The Lion King surged past Phantom after netting over $2 million at the box office for the week ending Sunday, while Phantom pulled in about $1.2 million.

What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that The Lion King chased down and grabbed the title despite Phantom having almost a full 10 years’ head start. The Disney show opened in November 1997, while Phantom debuted in January 1988.

The upstart’s victory is due in large part to its higher average ticket prices and a slightly larger theatre. Monday’s data shows Phantom had an average paid admission of $98.97, while The Lion King fetched $155.09.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Cary Ginell, a music historian and biographer who edited the seventh edition of Broadway Musicals: Show By Show. He compares The Lion King to a Disneyland ride.

“It’s a spectacle that satisfies on many different sensory elements — audio, visually, emotionally. It’s also good for all ages — just like Disneyland is. For the kids, it’s the visual elements — the colours, the costumes and the puppetry. For the adults, it’s Hamlet, basically. And the music is not geared to one age or gender or race. It’s as universal a show can get.”

Disney Theatrical Productions was gracious when contacted about reaching the milestone, saluting Phantom song writer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Phantom producer Cameron Mackintosh, who also co-produced Disney’s hit Mary Poppins, and calling their show “a global phenomenon of historic proportions.”

Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, also gave credit to Julie Taymor, the director, costume and mask maker of The Lion King. “Her vision, continued commitment to the show and uncommon artistry account for this extraordinary success,” he said in a statement.

“This accomplishment belongs to our audiences, millions of whom are experiencing their first Broadway show at The Lion King,” Schumacher added. “Surely, introducing so many to the splendour of live theatre is our show’s greatest legacy.”

The Broadway League, a trade group that collects revenue from theatre owners, has slightly different numbers, putting the cumulative grosses of The Lion King at $854,038,152 and Phantom at $853,122,847 as of Monday. The League in 2009 changed the way it calculates grosses, which may explain the discrepancy. None of the figures are adjusted for inflation.

To be sure, Phantom, now in its 24th year, is still the longest-running show in Broadway history, with more than 10,000 performances and it has sold many more tickets than its Disney rival on the Great White Way, a staggering 14.8 million so far.

In comparison, The Lion King looks like a pup: It is the sixth longest-running show on Broadway with over 5,900 performances over 14 years and has sold just over 10 million tickets.

The Lion King may now have won on Broadway, but Phantom is still a juggernaut elsewhere. Its producers have even declared it the most successful entertainment venture of all time, with revenues higher than any film, including Titanic, Star Wars and Avatar.

The total worldwide grosses for Phantom are estimated at over $5.6 billion, while the worldwide haul for Lion is $4.8 billion. Phantom has also been seen by 130 million people worldwide, while Lion puts its number at 64 million. Those gaps may also close: The Lion King has seven — soon eight — productions worldwide, while Phantom has seven productions around the world: London, New York, Hungary, Japan, South Africa, Las Vegas and a UK tour.

Ginell points out that about 40 per cent of Phantom tickets are sold to repeat customers, an extremely high number. Plus, 68 per cent are women. “Phantom is kind of a live-action romance novel,” he said. “I think that’s what’s attracting a huge percentage of women to the show.”

H. Todd Freeman, vice-president of operations at ticket broker Applause Theatre & Entertainment Service, Inc., said the success of The Lion King is due to its family draw, big visuals and ticket prices that were double those for Phantom when it started.

Both shows now use premium pricing — offering deep-pocketed theatregoers the best seats for a hefty mark up. On Monday, both shows had top premium tickets of about $200. Even so, The Lion King still commands a higher average ticket price and shows no signs of softening.

“Will it make 25? I don’t know,” said Freeman, who admits he never thought rival Phantom would last this long. “It holds up pretty well all year long but the times when it is the strongest is the Christmas breaks, the Easter breaks, the Spring breaks and the summertime.”

The two share some attributes: Both have musical giants behind them: Phantom has songs by Lloyd Webber and is directed by Harold Prince, while The Lion King features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice and the vision of Taymor.

Both have multiple Tony Awards, movie tie-ins, simple-to-understand stories and are spectacles — important for attracting tourists whose command of English might be weak. Both are not dependent on having stars on stage. And both call home in similar-sized theatres, Phantom at the 1,605-seat Majestic and Lion at the 1,677-seat Minskoff.

The staying power of each is remarkable. Over their first 750 playing weeks — which The Lion King has recently reached — they’ve played to roughly the same number of people: The Lion King at 10,092,235 and “Phantom” at 9,241,333.

Most shows that have achieved a ripe old age never appear in the top 10 by this point in their ages, but both Lion and Phantom are still routinely among the top earners, week in and week out. On the other side of the ledger, over 500 shows have opened and closed on Broadway during lifetime of The Lion King.

Ginell tips his cap to the new box office king and doesn’t see a time soon when it abandons its kingdom. “Lion King is the perfect family musical and I think it always will be as long as expenses don’t go so far up that they won’t be able to afford to put it on anymore.”

Anguilla Hosts ‘First Annual Literary Fest’ with Terry McMillan, Other Authors

Source: The Britto Agency, Shaun@thebrittoagency.com

(Apr 11, 2012) *(New York, N.Y.) – The Anguilla Tourist Board will host its first annual literary festival May 24th through May 28th at the statuesque, Paradise Cove Resort.

Best-selling authors, publishing industry power brokers, celebrity notables and book enthusiasts will converge on the peerless Caribbean destination, known for its buttery soft vanilla sand, beautiful people, rich history and seductive water in shades of blue – turquoise, aqua and marine.

Officially billed as ‘Anguilla Lit Fest: A Literary Jollification,the auspicious five-day event will be a celebration of literature, arts and culture featuring an eclectic variation of noteworthy authors from the Caribbean and Abroad. Best-selling author, screenwriter and professor Terry McMillan (‘Waiting to Exhale’) will join esteemed lawyer, activist and author Randall Robinson (‘The Debt’) in headlining the festival, which will also include exclusive author readings, informative workshops, empowering panel discussions and other specially-tailored activities. Award winning author and actor Hill Harper (‘The Conversation’) and Crystal McCrary (Inspiration) have also been added to this stellar lineup). The festival will present the first annual, Fountain Award, to an individual who, like its namesake, represents a valuable, lasting literary expression of pride, courage and independent spirit.

Special packages for the event are being offered by Anguilla’s world renowned accommodation establishments, including Paradise Cove Resort’s “Lit Talk Anguilla” package; Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa’s “Invitation to Exhale with Terry McMillan” package; Little Butterfly’s “Lit Talk Anguilla” package, Anguilla Great House presents “Great Anguilla Lit Talk” and Anacaona Boutique Hotel’s “Book Binder Girls Getaway” package.

The Travel Channel praises Anguilla for having one of the ‘Top 10 Caribbean Beaches,’ of unrivaled sandy shores and picturesque burnt-orange sunsets while Vogue magazine calls Anguilla “Perfect.”

To attend this festival to unearth, explore and discover literary wonders in Anguilla and for more information and Festival Getaway Packages, click here.

The Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is responsible for the development and management of the island’s tourism industry, charged with the promotion of tourist travel, and the establishment, maintenance and improvement of high standards of product and service quality in the tourism sector. Working in tandem with its overseas Marketing Representatives in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, Puerto Rico and South America, the board promotes Anguilla as the Caribbean’s premier, exclusive, quality destination experience, where “feeling is believing.”


Is Texting Making Us More Creative? Canadian Researchers Think So

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Keven Drews, The Canadian Press

(Apr 09, 2012) Vancouver—Some call it a universal form of English. Others argue it’s most definitely ruining the language and producing a generation of illiterates.

But researchers at three Canadian universities studying
text messaging think we may have become more creative because of this new form of communication.

The academics from Simon Fraser University, Université de Montréal and University of Ottawa have been looking at how texting is affecting the way Canadians write.

Christian Guilbault, an associate professor in SFU’s French department, said the project, called Text4Science, is part of a larger, ongoing international study called sms4Science, that began in Belgium a few years ago.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions going around regarding the way people use language when they text,” said Mr. Guilbault.

“A lot of people think that language is degrading over time, and it’s just getting worse, and young people just don’t know how to spell anymore.

“Well, we don’t think it’s true.”

Mr. Guilbault said researchers want to analyze the texts to show people’s creativity with the use of language.

“We think it’s important to go take a look at it, in text message, so we can actually prove how creative people are, and we can prove that they are using English in a very specific way, in a constrained environment, which is texting.”

The project began in December, and researchers have already collected more than 8,000 text messages.

Preliminary research findings show that contributors have used 10 different ways to text laughter, including three variants of “LOL.”

OK has been texted 12 different ways, including “okay,” and “k,” and “see you” was four times as common as “c u.”

Mr. Guilbault said Text4Science is focusing on English, the only part of the larger international study to do so.

“We’re hoping to make claims about the way people text over in Great Britain, maybe, and even the U.S. to see how differently they text,” he said.

Mr. Guilbault said the researchers will collect data until the end of June and begin their analysis at the end of the summer.

Wii 'Exercise' Doesn’t Make For Active Kids: Study

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chris Bolin, Reuters

(Feb 28, 2012) Virtual boxing, tennis and dancing along with video game systems may not be helping children meet daily exercise requirements, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas found that children who were given so-called
active video games to play on a Nintendo Wii didn't end up logging any more moderate or vigorous physical activity than those given games they could play sitting on the couch.

Some public health researchers have hoped that active video games might be an alternative to outdoor play and sports for at least some of the physical activity children need, especially for those who live in unsafe neighbourhoods where playing outside isn't always an option.

“We expected that playing the video games would in fact lead to a substantial increase in physical activity in the children,” said Tom Baranowski and colleagues at Baylor.

“Frankly, we were shocked by the complete lack of difference.”

For the study, they passed out Wii consoles to 78 children who didn't already have one. Half were given their choice of an active game, such as Wii Sports or Dance Dance Revolution-Hottest Party 3, and the other half their choice of inactive game, such as Disney Sing-It Pop Hits or Super Mario Galaxy.

Halfway through the study, which was published in Pediatrics, the children – all 9 to 12-years-old and above average weight – got their choice of a second game from the same category as their first.

Mr. Baranowski and his colleagues tracked the children for 13 weeks, testing their physical activity levels with a motion-measuring device called an accelerometer.

Participants wore the devices on a belt during four different week-long periods throughout the study, which allowed the research team to determine when they were sedentary, lightly exercising, or engaged in moderate-to-vigorous exercise.

Accelerometer logs showed that throughout the study period, children with the active games didn't get any more exercise than those given inactive video games.

At weeks one, six, seven and 12, children in the active game group got an average of 25 to 28 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day, compared to between 26 and 29 minutes for those in the inactive video game group.

There was also no difference in the time spent doing light physical activity or being sedentary during any week the researchers monitored.

Mr. Baranowski said his team couldn't tell if children just didn't exert much energy playing the active games, or if they compensated for exercise they got playing Wii with less exercise at other points in the day.

Nintendo was not available for comment and other researchers said that while the games were no substitute for the real thing, they might be better than no exercise at all.

It's possible that children playing active Wii games burned a few extra calories that the movement device didn't pick up on – for instance, if they were moving their arms a lot in a boxing game, said Jacob Barkley, an exercise scientist from Kent State University in Ohio who didn't take part in the study.

“Maybe the Wii isn't going to increase physical activity a whole heck of a lot,” Barkley told Reuters Health.

“But it might increase caloric expenditure a bit more than a traditional sedentary video game, and if you do that on a daily basis that could have a cumulative effect that might be beneficial.”


32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - March 1 - 4, 2012

Source: Dawn Langfield

I was blessed another year to be asked to cover the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. It's
simply not a difficult decision to make given the magic that overcomes the island of St. Maarten, infused with the soft breezes of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the excitement of those participating in one of the biggest regattas of the Caribbean plus the hot choices of live music entertainers that invade the beaches on the island. The big headliner this year was the reggae icon, Beres Hammond.

St. Maarten is an island full of natural beauty, cultural diversity and modern
conveniences. The experience on this island of two cultures, French and Dutch, attracts people from all over the world because of it's multicultural charm and multilingual people, not to mention it's stunning beauty and tax-free, duty-free shopping!

My accommodation this year was the Holland House which is one of the IT places to be during the regatta season as it is perched right on the boardwalk on Philipsburg, which is situated on the waters of Great Bay, akin to the Atlantic Ocean. It offers some of the most gracious service on the island with Carmella tending the popular hotel bar and Vernon tending to your every whim at the private beach.

My first night included going to a club called Privé. An indoor lounge with an open terrace offers stunning views of the vibrant Simpson Bay strip and lagoon.

With an experienced bartender serving the patrons, the bulk of the crowd was gathered around two tall Hookahs for a taste from the varied menu of options.

Then we made a visit to Soggy Dollar where one of the first regatta parties was taking place. Full of partiers, sailors participating in the regatta and those just in St. Maarten to party; the vibe was casual with an 'anything goes' theme.

Of particular note that I don't believe I've mentioned before is that all the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta parties are free and open to the public.

Friday, March 2nd started with dinner at the busy Greenhouse featured yummy crab legs and lots of them. The Boardwalk transforms on regatta Friday and is one of my favourite regatta parties as it lands on the doorstep of the Holland House in Philipsburg. Don't forget that the boardwalk is parallel to the ocean and serves as a breezy backdrop to the busy and festive night.

This is a party that is as long as the boardwalk (one mile) with one main stage (a scaled down version this year) and lots of games, food, DJs, live music and general festivity. The hub of the party is held at Holland House - party central.

Performing on the boardwalk that night was Tessanne Chin and her sister Tammar Anika Chin, popularly known as Tami Chynn. While sisters, they have both had a varied career and it was a rare opportunity to see them perform together. Tami’s hits floating the airwaves are “Hyperventilating”, “Over and Over Again” and her Top 10 hit “Frozen” with R&B Superstar Akon. Tessanne has hits “Hideaway”, “Broken Melody” and “Loving You” and she has won the hearts of numerous music critics.

Sunday, March 4th started eaaaaarly at 9:00 am at the Sint Martin Yacht Club for a press conference with Beres Hammond. While waiting for Mr. Hammond to arrive, I had the chance to check out some of the massive yachts in St. Maarten as well as some of the boats heading into Sunday's competition.

Beres Hammond, who, while gracious, quietly grumbled at the early hour at the start as well. His demeanour is something that I would call 'a cool dude'. He's eloquent, funny, humble and that is always refreshing with someone with such a successful career as his. John Leone was a gracious host for the interview session and quite obviously an avid fan as well. They shared a few humorous stories of Beres' career.

My first order of business was to tell Mr. Hammond a warm hello from all his Canadian fans. His face lit up as he asked, "Where in Canada?". When I answered "Toronto", he smiled, laughed and said "Ahhhhh Jamaican town" in his rich Jamaican accent. He was asked a few times about his set list for that evening and he said that he never creates a set list, that he has to vibe with the audience first and takes it from there. His performance was scheduled for that evening at Kim Sha Beach.

As usual, the crowd at Kim Sha Beach on Sunday evening was electric with excitement as the skilled DJ filled the outdoors with great mixes as annual host, Gee Money, worked the crowd with his magic. The stage was fully of dancers, beautiful island women dressed in carnival garb and an entourage dressed in Capt. Morgan costumes who regularly tossed out Heineken regatta memorabilia.


Soca music star Terry Seales teamed up with St Maarten’s Shadow Man as the opening act on Sunday night. Terry is now focusing on reinventing himself and making a change. Currently he is working on some charity program's to promote positivity within our society but that set aside, 2012 will be the year of the Entertainer.

Shadow Man tags his genre as ‘Contemporary Caribbean’. He believes music should move from the explicitly sexual content that currently dominates the scene to more positive themes that tell clean positive stories. His biggest album to date “Me & My Music” features a combination of 11 of his hottest jams.

What can I say about the presence that Beres Hammond brought to the closing party? He is a seasoned veteran of the stage and more specifically, of knowing his audience. While the crowd was growing anxious waiting for him to reach the stage, they greeted him with great enthusiasm and cheers. He first sauntered on to the stage and within minutes was jumping and springing across the stage thrilling his audience. His band is equally as seasoned as, like I mentioned above, he doesn't prepare a set list, so they simply wait for a note or nod or gesture from him and smoothly transition into the next song.

Beres performed some of his older hits as well as newer in that soulful voice which has been dubbed as romantic lovers rock. The audience swayed, sang and danced the night away into the wee hours as Beres performed a long set, over 90 mins. long. Not bad for the iconic artist whose career has spanned over 30 years!

Believe me there is nothing like listening to Beres' soulful reggae on a beach with thousands of people who are simply having a good time.

The following day brought another glorious sunny and breezy day so I took an island tour by jeep that allowed me to see so many more rich and lush parts of the island. And yes, that included the Nude Beach at Orient Bay, where no cameras were permitted. We ate sushi at Kontiki right on the beach looking on to the ocean. A great day!

That night I went with friends to Le Shore which is in Grand Case on the French side of the island. Grand Case is this little boutique niche that is full of a bohemian vibe. Le Shore by day is a restaurant and beach club. At night it transforms into a nightclub with cocktails (served by bartenders who juggle bottles aka the movie "Cocktails" and also light the bar on fire). Music streams from some of the top island bands and DJ's while go-go dancers seduce patrons on platforms that are also on fire. Even the drinks in buckets come aflame.


I think that this was one of my favourite trips to St. Maarten - whether it was the spirit of the people, unbelievable weather, the swift boats in the regatta, the fun-filled parties, the incredible food or the soulful reggae tunes of Beres Hammond on the beach, but the magic of this island has definitely cast its spell on me.

If you're smart, you will put it at the top of your travel destination list to visit during the 2013 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!

Budget Travel: Book Hotels At The Last Minute And Save

Source: www.thestar.com - Carol Pucci

(April 09, 2012) Does anyone ever pay full price for a hotel room?

Savvy travelers have been using Priceline.com for years to bid for rooms that hotels would rather heavily discount than leave unfilled.

Backbid.com, a Canadian startup, put the process in reverse, letting hotels bid for your business once you’ve already booked with a competitor, assuming you’re up for canceling your reservation and starting over.

One thing is certain: You’ll always find the best deals closer to the time of travel as hotels look for any way possible to put heads in beds.

For those willing to wait until the last minute, there’s HotelTonight, a free app for the iPhone, Android market and, as of March, the iPad. Think of it as the digital equivalent of walking up to the front desk at noon and seeing what kind of a deal you can strike.

The app displays discounts for same-day stays at a rotating selection of hotels each day (three per city or neighborhood) in 37 locations, from Seattle and Portland to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and Boston.

HotelTonight names the hotels, labels them as “hip,” “solid” or “basic,” and shows the price next to a crossed-out rate offered by hotels for comparable rooms. The discounted rate is available at noon or after for that night and sometimes longer.

Priceline, which lets you name your own price for hotels but doesn’t disclose the hotel name until after your bid is accepted and credit card charged, also offers same-day deals as well as alerts on winning bids accepted within seven days of departure.

All of this had me wondering what the hotels themselves might be willing to offer directly to last-minute bargain hunters, so I made a few calls.

The Maxwell Hotel, near the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offices in Seattle, quoted a best-available rate of $139 on its website and on the phone for a same-day reservation. HotelTonight had rooms for $99, a rate the reservation agent said the hotel could not match.

The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas quoted $199 on its website and by phone. No luck there either getting a reservation agent to match HotelTonight’s rate of $159. Instead, she offered me a room for $151 at the Encore, its sister hotel next door.

I did better calling the Villa Florence hotel near Union Square in San Francisco. The agent offered me a best-available rate of $129 vs. $135 on the website. When I mentioned that HotelTonight had rooms for $119, he agreed to match it.

Room Mate Grace, a boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan, agreed not only to match HotelTonight’s rate of $159 (vs. $229 on its website and $189 quoted on the phone) but offered an upgrade to a deluxe room that normally sells for $259.

Bottom line: There are lots of ways to score a better-than-expected rate on a hotel room. Prepaying too far in advance probably isn’t one of them.

HotelTonight’s discounts aren’t always huge, and hotels sometimes will have less expensive rooms available (you don’t find out the type of room until you book), or offer you the same discount if you call. But for travelers on the go, looking for a good price on a last-minute room they can book without phoning or using a website, the app is fast, clear and easy to use.

One quibble: Hotel websites usually don’t include taxes and fees in their initial price displays, and neither does HotelTonight. Those are listed in small print when you tap on the offer.

Caribbean Travel: How To Have Fun On The Water

Source: www.thestar.com - Mark Stevens

(April 05, 2012) You don’t have to live on a sailboat for a week to make friends with Neptune on your next Caribbean getaway. Here are some suggestions.


A sailboat flies past us toward the finish line at Charlotte Amalie. They’re pros participating in the Rolex International Regatta. We’re amateurs who have booked the ultimate adventure excursion on a performance race boat. Us and four ringers. It’s yacht racing up close and personal. ( www.ondeck.co.uk)


The see-through kayak glides through a mangrove lagoon in Christiansted, St. Croix. We duck through a green tunnel. Huge iguanas sun overhead. Mangrove jellyfish laze below. We power into the sea, staring down at reef fish a foot from our feet. Only way to get closer to the sea is to swim in it. ( www.seathrukayaksvi.com)


For that, try St. Croix’ Buck Island Reef. Caribbean Travel and Life ranks it second best Caribbean snorkel spot. Swim through grottos of elkhorn coral, traverse the underwater trail, float through a school of surreal blue tang and grin at a multitude of parrotfish. You’ll rate it number one. ( www.jollyrogervi.com)


Grand Cayman, North Sound. Fishermen once cleaned their catch on this sandbar. The stingrays caught on – now they let us swim with them. There are ten, twenty, wheeling and soaring like gigantic birds. You touch one, mesmerized. Truly unique experience. ( www.stingraysailing.com)


Same for Dolphin Discovery At Tortola. Always been on my bucket list but I’m not ready for this. One comes up, nuzzles my chest, seems to grin at me. I hug him. I feel a sudden impulse to weep. I am filled with a feeling of gratitude and awe. ( www.dolphindiscovery.com/tortola)


For a different feeling – terror and exhilaration combined – hang ten at Barbados’ Bathsheba. Here lies Soup Bowl, one of the world’s top surf waves. I have no wish to die. I book my surf lesson in the beginner-friendly waters of Surfer’s Point. ( www.zedssurftravel.com)


Freestyle Skiing Pioneer Sarah Burke Remembered In Service At Whistler

Source: www.thestar.com - Dan Ralph

(Apr 11, 2012) WHISTLER, B.C.—Admirers of Sarah Burke gathered in Whistler, B.C., on Tuesday night to bid a sad farewell to the late free skiing pioneer.

Burke, who was born in Ontario and lived in Squamish, B.C., passed away in January, after a fall while training in the Superpipe at Park City, Utah. Burke, 29, sustained severe irreversible brain damage due to lack of oxygen and blood when one of the arteries to her brain ruptured.

The public memorial service was delayed until near the end of the ski season so freeskiers around the world could attend and pay their respects. Family, friends and fellow athletes held a private memorial on the Blackcomb Mountain earlier in the day at the halfpipe, a place Burke loved best.

“Today in the halfpipe it was unbelievable how much Sarah’s memory has pulled us all together,” said Trennan Paynter, coach of the Canadian freestyle halfpipe team. “Things will never be the same without her but I can tell you that when we walk into the Sochi Olympic stadium, Sarah is going to be the one leading the team.”

A normally raucous Whistler crowd fell silent while watching images and videos of the multiple X Games gold medallist. Fellow athletes, friends and family members shared memories of Burke’s accomplishments in sport and life. With tears, laughter and a lot of noise, Whistler brought the memory of a local athlete back home.

“Whistler was a special place for Sarah,” said freeskier and friend Mike Douglas. “More great things happened to her here than anywhere else. She had such strong feelings about this place.”

Burke is celebrated as one of the most influential athletes in winter sport. Her success is unparalleled in the sport of free skiing.

Burke was the first woman to land a 720, then a 900, then a 1080-degree spin in competition. She was also instrumental in helping to get her sport into the Olympics for 2014 in Sochi.

Along with her success as an athlete, Sarah is also remembered for her humility and energy. Rory Bushfield, Burke’s husband, referred to his late wife as his best friend and inspiration in life.

“She was so kind and fearless. It wasn’t the gold medals that made her a champion, it was the little things she did for others,” Bushfield said. “It’s hard for me to put into words how much you mean to me, Sarah.”

The story of Burke’s death received global attention. A fund was set up to help cover hospital bills, which raised well over $300,000 within days of going live on the Internet. “Remember Sarah” and “Believe In Sarah” stickers contributed over $15,000 to the total, and have been seen on athletes’ gear at every major ski event this year.

In honour of her legend, the overall champion trophy, one of the biggest awards in pro skiing will now be named for Burke and presented for the first time at the World Skiing Invitational/Association of Free skiing Professionals world championships at the end of April.

Burke’s impact on the sport won’t be forgotten in Whistler as her words flickered on the screen and echoed through the crowd.

“It was never my goal to be recognized. I love the sport, I love doing it and I want as many girls as possible to do it too. That has always been my goal.”

Bubba Golf: Masters Champ Watson Always Goes For Broke

Source: www.thestar.com - Jim Litke

(Apr 09, 2012) AUGUSTA, GA.—His dad was hoping for a baseball player. The baby boy who popped out was football-sized instead, so chubby and pink that Gerry Watson needed all of 10 seconds to nickname his newborn son “Bubba.” Instead of crashing into running backs, he grew up to overpower one of the most iconic golf courses in the game.

The newest Masters champion isn’t much for subtlety.
Bubba Watson has never taken a lesson or watched his quirky southpaw swing on video, and he can barely putt. Watson arrived ranked 152nd out of 185 players on the PGA Tour and not surprising, he finished tied for 37th in that department here, needing 10 more strokes on Augusta National’s slick, contoured greens than Louis Oosthuizen, the guy he beat in a playoff.

But nobody anywhere hits it farther. Or so relishes the adventures that begin every time he hunts down one of those wayward drives in the trees — which is often.

PHOTOS: Final round of the Masters

Watson hadn’t even reached his tee shot deep in the woods on the right of the second playoff hole when he began charting a course toward the 10th green. He saw the crowd already outlining a tunnel back to the fairway, and a TV tower in the distance he figured would be directly between his ball and the flag. He was right.

“We had 135 front, which is the only number I was looking at. I think we had like 164 (yards to the) hole, give or take, in that area, maybe a little less,” Watson recalled in the interview room afterward. “And I hit 52 degree, my gap wedge, hooked it about 40 yards, hit about 15 feet off the ground until it got under the tree and then started rising.”

He looked out at the blank stares on the faces of the reporters in front of him.

“Pretty easy,” Watson said a moment later to laughter.

“Even though the tower was in my way, I didn’t want to ask if I get relief or anything, because it just set up for a perfect draw,” he added, “Well, a hook.”

Like the back nine that preceded the two-putt par that won it, just about everything else was a blur.

“I know I made bogey on 12 and then I birdied four holes in a row. Nervous on every shot, every putt. Went into a playoff. I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head and somehow I’m here talking to you,” he said, “with a green jacket on.”

RELATED: More Masters coverage

Watson began sobbing even as he pulled his ball out of the cup, then hugged his caddie, Ted Scott, before falling into mother Molly’s arms. The father Watson was named after died two years ago. His own newborn son, Caleb, adopted barely two weeks ago, and wife Angie were back home. He couldn’t wait to get there, save for one thing.

“I don’t want to change a diaper. Hopefully this will give me a week or two,” Watson said, then quickly added, “Maybe not, though.”

What he vowed to never change was his go-for-broke playing style, which his pals — among them former Milton (Fla.) High School teammates and current PGA pros Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum — have dubbed “Bubba golf.” That’s shorthand for hitting his azalea-pink driver as hard as he can, finding the ball, and then hitting it under, over or around all the obstacles that get in his way. He hits more greens in regulation than you’d think, mostly because the 6-foot-3 Watson needs a club or two less than his rivals to get where he’s going.

VIDEO: Bubba Watson before the Green Jacket, in music video with Ben Crane et al

“Truthfully,” he explained, “it’s like Seve (Ballesteros) played. He hit shots that were unbelievable.

“And if you watch Phil Mickelson, he goes for broke. That’s why he wins so many times. That’s why he’s not afraid. So for me, that’s what I do. I just play golf. I attack. I always attack. I don’t like to go to the centre of the greens. I want to hit the incredible shot. Who doesn’t?”

He had a front-row seat for one of the most amazing shots the Masters has ever seen, a 253-yard 4-iron by Oosthuizen, his playing partner throughout the day, that landed on the front of the par-5 second hole and rolled 80 feet before curling into the cup for a double-eagle. It was all Watson could do to keep himself from racing across the green to give the South African a high-five.

“Then I saw the leaderboard on the next hole,” he said, “and I thought, that double-eagle, he’s leading now.”

Being Bubba, it didn’t change a thing Watson did. He kept bombing away, firing at the pins from every crazy angle, just like he did in a losing playoff effort against Martin Kaymer in the 2010 PGA Championship.

“I mean, I can hit it straight. It’s just it’s easier to see curves, get the ball working towards the hole,” Watson said.

“I remember this good player, maybe great player, y’all, Jack Nicklaus. He said he wanted to aim at the centre of the green and get the ball drifting towards the hole when he played Augusta. That’s what he did here. That’s the way I like to play all the golf courses, not just Augusta. ...

“So I can do it. It’s just not something I really want to do. It’s easier in the trees,” Watson said, “like I did on the last playoff hole.”

It’s such an improbable recipe for success, that even though Watson finished up his college golf career at Georgia some 100 miles down the road, he couldn’t quite picture himself wearing the green jacket that fit snugly on his shoulders.

“I dreamed about it,” he said. “I just never made the putt.”

Argo Fans Will Be Cool Again, Promises CEO Chris Rudge

Source: www.thestar.com - Bob Mitchell

(Apr 8, 2012) He calls himself the “Chief Delegator,” but as the No. 2 man behind owner David Braley, Chris Rudge, 66, is the pulse behind the running of the Toronto Argonauts as the team’s executive chairman and CEO.

The Star recently sat down with the former head of the Canadian Olympic Committee to answer questions about the team and its future.

Q: Some observers would say the team has become irrelevant on the city’s sporting landscape. Is it possible to make the Argos a very big deal again in Toronto?

A: When we were much bigger in the hearts of the people there were no Jays, no Raptors and less entertainment. But that doesn’t mean we can’t rise to prominence again and be on the A-list. We don’t need to dominate, but we must provide a compelling entertainment experience. Our fans must have hope that we can be in the Grey Cup every year. If we can do that, we can attract 30,000 to 40,000 fans to every game and move forward with a sustainable cash flow. That’s not a lot to ask. There are 5 million people in the GTA. I only want 40,000 every two weeks. That’s not insurmountable.

Q: The average Toronto sports fan probably recognizes the name of Phil Kessel. They might have trouble naming one Argo. How do you change that?

A: If we provide our fans with an exciting brand and the hope of always being in the Grey Cup, even lesser known players like our lineman can become household names. It’s like advertising a product; if you’re exposed to players on a regular basis, their names become part of your lexicon in your sports discussions.

But we can’t use hockey as an example. It’s part of what we are as Canadians. But if we could ever arrive at that level, then we would have really hit it out of the park. Ricky Ray can become a huge star in this town just like Doug Flutie and Pinball Clemons.

Q: The Argos have missed the playoffs three of the last four seasons. With the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto this year, can this season be successful without the team being in the game?

A: Appearing in the Grey Cup would be a bonus for us and our fans but it would be a mistake to build by just focusing only on winning the Cup. It can’t come at the expense of our long-term business plan. Getting Ray and go-to receiver Jason Barnes and our new coaching staff, we have the potential to raise our game from last season. It will still be a spectacular event but we will have lost an opportunity to excite this city if the Argos aren’t in the game.

Q: In 1991, more than 55,000 people jammed the Rogers Centre for the East final against Winnipeg. The atmosphere was electric. Can that ever happen again or would the team’s future be better served in a smaller stadium?

A: When the Rogers Centre is filled, it’s a very exciting and intimate place with a terrific environment. It has a roof to keep bad weather out and great technology. The big screen has been upgraded to HD for this season. It has a lot more amenities than a smaller stadium. Our biggest challenge is to make sure we create an experience for people to want to be there. But we would never discount looking at whether we could or should move to a smaller stadium. We will continue to explore our options.

Everybody points to Montreal’s success with McGill. But they caught lightning in a bottle when they had to move (from Olympic Stadium) for a game. But we also have what happened in B.C. when they were forced to move to a smaller, more intimate stadium. People tell me that it wasn’t a huge success. They never sold out. A couple of thousand season ticket holders never renewed. So smaller doesn’t automatically mean better.

Also, if we were to move, where would we go? Varsity would have possibly been a tremendous success with its location and history. Maybe BMO Field? Or York University? You might have to go to Vaughan because of the cost of land. That would be quite a gamble to take. For now, we’re at the Rogers Centre (for next five years). We have to make sure it’s filled by creating an exciting team.

Q: Last season, coach Jim Barker was basically the face of the franchise. Who fills that role this season?

A: Certainly as a star in this league and somebody capable of transforming the fortunes of this team, we probably couldn’t ask for a better face of the franchise than quarterback Ricky Ray. He’s a natural leader. GM Jim Barker and coach Scott Milanovich will also speak for the team as will players like Cory Boyd, Willie Pile and Chad Owens. Everybody needs to be engaged, accessible and promoting our brand. We have to be proud of the organization we represent. We have to be open, honest and candid. We have to deliver on our promises. Talk is cheap. Results matter. At the end of the day, we’ll be measured on what we accomplish.

Q: Football coaches say defence wins games. But you’ve gone on record that you think Argo fans want exciting football, even if they lose, and it’s better than simply winning 12-7. Explain what you mean.

A: The average fan would rather see us with a .500 record at home and the average score 38-35 than 9-0 at home with an average score of 12-7. The hard-core fans, coaches and players would rather be 9-0 at home regardless. But we need to have an exciting product. I don’t think 9-0 at home with an average score of 12-7 is going to fill the stands. The reality is, that for football, and in North America in general, people like to see scoring. That’s why North Americans haven’t embraced soccer where 1-0 is a win and 2-0 is a whitewash.

What I’m really saying is that we have to focus more on offence. We can’t be satisfied with a winning team that plays dull football and keeps the ball between the 25-yard lines all the time. We’ve had a history of having a defensive-oriented franchise. The Argo defence bent but didn’t break. Now we have a strong quarterback and an offensive-focused coach. We even have a defensive coordinator, who is going to be a bigger risk-taker and play a more exciting kind of defence. We have to excite our fans. We have to put points on the board.

Q: Have the Buffalo Bills helped or hurt the Argos?

A: I think they’ve been neutral. The Bills in Toronto hasn’t been a robust success. Toronto fans have always loved the NFL. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Just as the Detroit Lions and Michigan State don’t worry about each other or the Atlanta Falcons and George Tech worry about each other. Fans can enjoy both. That’s what would happen if an NFL team came here permanently.

Q: By this time next season, what would you like to see have happened with the Argos?

A: I would like to see the losses reduced by the same amount that we reduced them considerably by for this season. I would like to see us coming off a strong winning season. I would like to say we made the right strategic decisions. If we had a paid attendance of at least 25,000 a game and over 15,000 season ticket holders and marry that to a potential increase in revenue when a new television contract is signed, then we could be in the black by 2014. We also need to be well down the road in establishing a proper practice facility.

Q: Any changes in the logo for this season?

A: The logo will remain the same but we’re going to have new uniforms (revealed May 1) that recapture the double blue concept.

Blue Jays Beat Red Sox 3-1 To Win First Home Series

Source: www.thestar.com - Dan Ralph

(Apr 11, 2012) Ricky Romero went a strong 8 1/3 innings to lead the Toronto Blue Jays past the Boston Red Sox 3-1 on Wednesday afternoon.

The left-hander surrendered an earned run and three hits as Toronto (4-2) won the rubber match of the three-game set with Boston (1-5). Romero got stronger as the game wore on, retiring 17 straight Red Sox hitters through the middle of the game.

After allowing a run and three hits the third inning, Romero, who led Toronto last season in starts (32), wins (15), innings pitched (225) and earned-run average (2.92), really settled into a groove before opening the ninth with consecutive walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Petroia. They moved to third and second, respectively, on Adrian Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly, which spelled the end to Romero’s outing.

Closer Sergio Santos, who blew two save chances earlier this season, struck out Kevin Youkilis and got David Ortiz to hit into a game-ending groundout to cement the victory.

Romero (1-0) outduelled Boston left-handed ace Jon Lester in a superbly pitched contest before 25,285 spectators — many of them school kids — at Rogers Centre, the lowest attendance of the three-game series after more than 48,000 took in the Red Sox’s 4-2 win Monday before 26,251 witnessed Toronto’s 7-3 victory on Tuesday night.

Lester (0-1) wasn’t too shabby, either, as the hard-luck loser, allowing three runs and three hits in going the distance for Boston. He set down 15 straight Jays hitters before surrendering a two-out walk to Rajai Davis in the eighth. Yunel Escobar gave Toronto a two-run cushion with a run-scoring single that brought home Davis after he stole second on a failed pickoff throw.

Romero came in with a career 4-6 record against Boston and a bloated 7.12 ERA. Last year he was 2-2 in four starts against the Red Sox with a 6.56 ERA, giving up 28 hits, 17 earned runs, four homers and 12 walks in 23 1-3 innings while striking out 17.

Lester, on the other hand, was 10-4 against Toronto lifetime with a 3.06 ERA. Last season, he posted a 3-0 record versus the Jays with a 2.08 ERA and pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out a season-high 11 in his last start against the club, a 14-0 win Sept. 6.

Boston opened the scoring in the third after Romero retired the first six batters he faced. Ellsbury’s run-scoring single scored Mike Aviles, who singled and went to second on Kelly Shoppach’s fielder’s choice. That still left two runners on base for Romero, who got out of the jam by striking out Pedroia and getting Adrian Gonzalez to ground out.

Toronto went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third on Yunel Escobar’s sacrifice fly, which scored Davis. Davis drove in the Jays’ opening run with a triple that scored Eric Thames, who had singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Kelly Johnson walked and reached second on a passed ball but was stranded there on Jose Bautista’s inning-ending groundout.