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LE NEWSLETTER

April 5, 2012

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it! Regardless, celebrate the long weekend with friends and family and have fun! I'm still adjusting to it being April ... and we still haven't really seen Mr. Winter in Toronto! Wahooo!

I've got some exciting news for your social calendar! Toronto's
Quisha Wint releases her debut solo album. You've seen Quisha as recent as this past weekend on TV performing at the Junos - she's a star in her own right and if you love homegrown R&B with a dash of funk, then you'll turn out to one of her two performance dates - see all the details below under HOT EVENTS.

Also in more fun news, I finished my write-up on the
2012 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. You should really put the 2013 dates on your travel calendar - March 7 - 10. It's a real blast, not to mention the gorgeous island with great food, parties, concerts and with amazing headliners. This year it was the iconic Beres Hammond. Read it and enjoy! Check it out under SCOOP. Don't forget there are LOTS of new photos of performances and of the island St. Maarten.

In this weeks news: a couple of articles on this year's Junos and the winners; a remarkable story on the original Measha Brueggergosman; and a truly real story on Saidah Baba Talibah; more news on Whitney Houston; 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!

::HOT EVENTS::

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!)

::SCOOP::

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.

::TOP NEWS::

Juno Awards 2012: An Unpredictable Night

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Patch

(Apr. 1, 2012) OTTAWA—The typically conservative Juno Awards went radical in the nation’s capital on Sunday, with William Shatner presiding over an awards telecast that boldly upended the audience’s expectations again and again by celebrating some unlikely candidates.

Shaggy-haired Saskatoon southern-rock throwbacks the Sheepdogs — toiling in anonymity only a year ago — and Toronto-based indie songstress Leslie Feist won three awards each in a splashy gala where few of the supposed “locks” actually snapped into place.

Feist’s response to winning artist of the year characterized the unpredictable atmosphere. Flushed, she staggered to the stage gingerly after spending a minute sharing her surprise with her entourage.

“I just need a second,” she marvelled as she finally stepped to the microphone, covering her mouth with her hand and shaking her head from side to side.

“I’m just in shock.... I guess all I can really do is try to express some genuine gratitude. I can’t believe I’m standing
here.”

“I’m straight up grateful,” she added. “Thank you.”

Anyone familiar with the Junos’ usual rhythms was similarly gobsmacked. Even with only seven awards handed out Sunday (the rest were distributed at a dinner gala earlier in the weekend), few of the evening’s outcomes could have been predicted.

RELATED: Full list of winners

Among the surprising results? The Sheepdogs, who rose to fame after winning a contest initiated by Rolling Stone magazine, beat out Nickelback, Johnny Reid, Hedley and City and Colour — four outfits with 19 Juno wins under
their collective belt — to claim the prize for their bluesy amble “I Don’t Know.”

While Feist is a veritable Juno favourite (she’s now got 11 of the little crystal statuettes), her top artist award was a shock because her contemplative fourth disc, “Metals,” wasn’t nominated for album of the year, and the 36-year-old had already lost out to City and Colour’s Dallas Green for songwriter of the year.

And electronic producer Deadmau5, thought to be a titanium lock for dance recording of the year after winning the category four years in a row heading into this show, also lost. Toronto’s Dragonette and Paris house DJ Martin Solveig edged the Niagara Falls, Ont., product out with their deep-burrowing earworm “Hello.”

As a result, Deadmau5 went without a Juno this year despite three nominations.

“Oh my God! Holy oh my God. Oh boy,” said singer Martina Sorbara, obviously struggling to find words. “Thanks for everybody who supported us, all our fans, to know that you’re listening makes us so proud and we’re so grateful.”

Even Michael Bublé’s victory for album of the year for his yuletide smash Christmas raised eyebrows. Although
Bublé has won the prize twice in the past (in 2006 for It’s Time and 2010 for Crazy Love) and his latest disc’s retro fireside vibe warmed millions of family gatherings this past holiday season, Drake’s moody opus Take Care — which won rap recording of the year on Saturday — attained drastically more critical plaudits while also somehow becoming a downcast smash in its own right.

Bublé also beat out Nickelback for that top album honour, meaning the reception greeting the divisive Hanna, Alta., rockers at this year’s Junos was as chilly as the grey, drizzly climes outside Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place.

The 12-time Juno winners didn’t nab a single award this year out of four nominations, a shutout that should surprise even their myriad critics since the group’s last collection of radio-ready sludge-rockers — 2009’s Dark Horse — earned three Junos, including album of the year.

Of course, on a night packed with surprises there was one exception to prove the rule: 18-year-old pop sensation Justin Bieber claimed the fan choice award for the second year in a row. In a pre-recorded message, even Bieber seemed unsurprised by the efficiency of his army of highly mobilized fans.

“What’s up everybody? This is Justin,” he said, a tad redundantly given the shrill screaming ricocheting through the arena.

“As we all know I have the best fans in the world, so this award is basically for all my fans. This is just yours.”

Bieber wasn’t the only marquee artist missing in action. Drake, Bublé and triple-nominated punk-pop princess Avril Lavigne (a product of nearby Napanee, Ont.) were similarly absent.

Shatner — over the top at the best of times — had to work extra hard to offset the show’s relative lack of, ahem, star power.

The 81-year-old Shatner opened the show with boundless energy, or at least volume.

After introducing himself as “recording artist William Shatner,” the actor poked light-hearted fun at Deadmau5 — intentionally mispronouncing his moniker — as well as Hedley, Carly Rae Jepsen and Sarah McLachlan.

“I’ve been to three Lilith Fairs,” he barked at the Vancouver-based chanteuse. “I came for the music, I stayed for the wheatgrass smoothies.”

Soon afterward, he strapped on a sunburst Les Paul and made no effort to pretend as though he was really playing it while sing-shouting a few bars of several well-worn Canuck classics, including Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ‘69,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business” and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.”

He also gamely participated in comedy sketches with Nickelback and Hedley, playing the role of the delusional hanger-on, deadpanning his intention to become Nickelback’s fifth member.

“We change the name of the band to Shatner and Nickelback,” he tells the band, straight-faced. “Or Shatner and the Dimebags. After all, I’m upping your value.”

While Shatner also managed to make off-colour references to a steady string of revered Canadians (whether claiming to have knocked back absinthe with Margaret Atwood or “Jagerbombs” with Rita McNeil), he mostly made fun of himself, playing up a cartoonish version of his persona — a hard-partying, swaggering, staggering egomaniac desperate to appear young and hip.

Yet given that Shatner really is more than a half-century older than last year’s host — 25-year-old Drake — the Junos seemed to try to compensate with youth in other ways.

A medley of dance and R&B numbers gave a group of emerging pop artists including 19-year-old Alyssa Reid, Mia Martina and Anjulie the chance to ever-so-briefly strut their stuff by performing a fragment of each of their hits, a musical tour that might have incited aural whiplash if not for how instantly recognizable each of the tunes were.

And while Deadmau5 left a Juno Awards bash without an award for the first time since 2007, he closed the show with a performance that featured the icy vocals of 24-year-old electro-pop singer Lights — fitting given the kaleidoscopic flashes popping out from the stage — and rapper MC Flipside.

Then there was the 28-year-old Mangan, meanwhile, one of the show’s big winners.

On a night characterized by upsets, Mangan’s victory for new artist of the year was one of the most predictable results — after all, he entered with a quartet of nominations and considerably more industry goodwill.

Yet the affable and relentlessly modest Vancouver singer/songwriter still wore a look of shock as he rose to claim his trophy.

“I feel like there’s a certain amount of chatter around the best new artist award every year going to ... artists on their second or maybe third albums,” said Mangan, whose Oh Fortune was, yes, his third album.

“I would like to look at like this ... it takes time to do anything that’s worthwhile.”

Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Blue Rodeo shared a similar sentiment. After a moving performance of “Lost Together” with a capable assist from Sarah McLachlan — prompting a richly deserved standing ovation — co-frontman Jim Cuddy made reference to the decades of hard work that led to the distinction.

“We have travelled a very long and beautiful road and this country has given us so much,” said Cuddy, struggling to remain composed. “We’ve met and played for amazing people, seen some beautiful things, and we’ve had so many unforgettable experiences.

“But the true measure of our success is in this room, all the friends I see out there, all the friends I know are watching. We’ve always, always from the beginning felt supported and appreciated in this country and we are extremely grateful to be able to make music together with all of you. Thank you.”

Measha Brueggergosman's Second Act

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon

(March 29, 2012) What makes a diva? With Measha Brueggergosman, it's a presence that captivates, yet still has the allure of understatement. She's as much of a vision as any opera star could be, but is quick to extend her hand and smile personably. And then she starts describing a year that would have left most people in tatters.

"If I ever wrote a biography, I think it would be called 'This Isn't What I Thought Life Would Be,'" she says.

After she cleared her 2011-12 opera season so that she and her husband could have a child, her prenatal twins died during her pregnancy at the end of last August. Brueggergosman speaks of this openly and succinctly, adding that many people may not realize this is why she has had fewer performances on her calendar this year.

She was, however, already signed up to be one of the celebrity judges on CITY-TV reality talent contest Canada's Got Talent, which began airing this month. In fact, she describes the show as "a real blessing for me. Although I'm not working in my day job, I do have a job. There's a financial burden that is lessened there."

As the series continues, she predicts she may be a little harder on singers than the other judges, but laughs at the idea that she might come across as the stereotypical "mean judge." While it's obvious the show is a lot of fun for her, it hasn't kept her as busy as her usual hectic schedule. Used to a packed calendar, she was itching to perform and have more on the go during this slower year.

So, she recorded an album of pop standards, to be released April 17 by Ottawa-based Kelp Records, a label far smaller than the international Deutsche Grammophon and CBS, which she has previously worked with. The attraction to lighter musical fare this time around, she says, was to work far less intensely than most classical sessions, which are "just such an expensive endeavour that it can be very pressurized."

This allowed her to get deeper into the recording process itself. She says she's a little surprised by the attention the album is getting ahead of its release. "I think I always underestimate people's interest in what I'm doing," she adds with a laugh. "When I go to embark on a project, it's rarely motivated by anything besides what interests me."

Based on a repertoire of songs that she worked up with arranger and composer Aaron Davis, the album ranges from pop standards such as the Gershwins' I've Got a Crush on You and Embraceable You, to contemporary songs such as Feist's Cicadas and Gulls and traditional material, like the Spanish cancion Nana.

In order to do the album how and when she wanted, she paid for its production herself and recorded it live in front of small audiences in Halifax and her native Fredericton. The songs represent, she says, a musical side of herself that she wanted to tap into more.

"Even though I am an opera singer, and my day job is a classical singer, one of my vocal icons is Ella Fitzgerald, because she had such precision and adherence to intonation, and such a close relationship to the composers and interpretation," Brueggergosman explains.

Releasing the disc through the tiny Kelp Records was also partly due to the fact that she had gone to school in Fredericton with label founder Jon Bartlett. "I don't think I really knew that much about Kelp Records or Jon's work on his label. I just knew that he was from Fredericton, and that if things didn't work out, I'd be able to call his parents and say, 'What's going on?'" she jokes.

"Let's face it, I want to be able to use my work as a vehicle for other people to grow their businesses as well. So why not go with a small label? It's the reason I wear Canadian designers. It's the reason the people I work with are helped by whatever I've built here," she says. It's also why she welcomes helping new acts on Canada's Got Talent.

"I was free to do whatever I wanted and go with whomever I wanted. And I have not really enjoyed that since the beginning of my career," she adds.

Still, for an international opera singer used to having her years planned for her, this has been an unusual, at times difficult period. She is now letting new projects carry her through. "With all of these things, I just kind of allow them to take natural shape and don't feel the need to put a cap on how big they get," she says, as she sits in her diva finery, as casual as can be.

Think Outside The Box With Talibah

Source: www.torontosun.com - By Errol Nazareth ,QMI Agency

(Mar. 22, 2012) This year marks the Black Rock Coalition’s 27th anniversary, and while this milestone may not be on your radar, it certainly is cause for celebration for Saidah Baba Talibah.

And it’s not just because she loved the funk-rock blast that bands like Living Colour, who pledged allegiance to the BRC, unleashed.

For Talibah, the organization’s political relevance packed an equally powerful punch.

“I was in Blaxäm (which was one of Toronto’s only black alternative bands) when I first heard about the BRC and I got excited and felt like, ‘I’m not weird, I’m not doing something wrong, I’m not doing something that black people don’t do or don’t like. There are more of us out there.’

“It was an affirmation and inspiration for me definitely!”

As stated in its bold manifesto, the BRC wanted to set the record right regarding the roots of rock. Not surprisingly, its pointed critique of discrimination in the music industry did not go down well with a lot of folks.

“The BRC opposes those racist and reactionary forces within the American music industry which undermines and purloins our musical legacy and deny black artists the expressive freedom and economic rewards that our Caucasian counterparts enjoy as a matter of course,” it says on its site.

Twenty seven years later, Talibah feels the BRC’s mission is still valid.

“It’s still a struggle and us women have to constantly prove we’re just as hard or just as worthy of respect as our male counterparts,” she says. “Please, name me a black woman in rock in Canada. It’s f---ing pitiful and can really kill a spirit!

“I don’t fit into any box of what a black woman in music should be doing, and even the ones who are fitting that so-called box are just as frustrated,” Talibah adds. “Oh, Canada! I love my birthplace, but like a parent, sometimes mommy and daddy try to impose their ideals on how they think you should be.”

Fortunately, the ever-positive Talibah isn’t letting things get her down.

She credits her fans and family of genius music makers (singers Salome Bey and Andy Bey) who persevered regardless of the obstacles they encountered. To that list, I’ll add her charisma, her ability to own any stage she steps on, and her versatility. All these were evidenced when she performed Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog and her song, Revolution, during a 20-minute set at Harbourfront last month.

Packed with searing hard rock and funk, Talibah’s debut disc, (S)cream, is a cathartic listen, but as she proved at Harbourfront, she’s not a one-trick pony. So, prepare for a wildly inventive set when she and her ace band play Wrongbar on Sunday as part of Canadian Music Week.

Chris Butcher, who invited Talibah to sing on Heavyweights Brass Band’s debut album, Don’t Bring Me Down, says he loves how fearless she is.

“She isn’t afraid to really play with the listeners’ emotions when she sings,” he said. “She has the ability to really make you feel something, she tells a story.”

Which brings us nicely to the risqué content of most of the songs on (S)cream.

Talibah says she likes “going into pretty, hard and naked places.”

“I speak from a woman’s point of view, about what we like and may be told not to say because that’s not what a woman should be asking for or saying or admitting to liking,” she says.

“I talk about sex and lust, sex and love, and I like to be descriptive so that the listener can be there right with me and relate.”

Proof of this no-holds-barred approach to songwriting can be heard on tunes like Bang It Back and Good Morning Baby. And if you’re dying to know what those are about, you’ll just have to buy (S)cream.

You can expect Talibah to continue challenging perceptions while making genre-bending music. She tells me that when she began writing (S)cream, she heard a full symphony in her head.

Tympanies, French horns, strings, flutes, harps ... hell, a full 70-piece orchestra digging into some sexy, sassy and bold music!” she says. “I love the idea of challenging sound and perception of where things should be versus where they shouldn’t.

“For instance, I don’t have a bass player and I wanted to have a tuba player rock the basslines, and I remember the first time I heard it on one of my songs, I almost cried.

“I didn’t get the full 70-piece on the album,” Talibah says. “I’m still working on it, I’ll get there.”

I know you will.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Juno Awards 2012: Junos Fête Feist Again

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Apr. 2, 2012) OTTAWA—The Juno Awards reaffirmed their affection for one of the nation’s best-known indie-pop ambassadors, gave their stamp of approval to a couple of budding new CanCon stars, blanked a lot of big names and generally flaunted an impressive amount of “cred” for an orgy of music-industry back-patting in Ottawa on Sunday evening.

Toronto chanteuse
Leslie Feist and rowdy, Rolling Stone-approved Saskatoon bar band the Sheepdogs were the weekend’s somewhat unexpected — but altogether likeable — big winners as the similarly likeable 41st annual Juno ceremony from Scotiabank Place ushered a week of music-industry celebrations in the capital to a close.

Feist and the Sheepdogs each added one more trophy to their haul during CTV’s irreverent, William Shatner-hosted Juno broadcast last night, giving them a total of three apiece over the weekend.

Sometime Broken Social Scene associate Feist was declared Artist of the Year over the far more commercially potent likes of City and Colour, Deadmau5, Drake and Michael Bublé on Sunday’s broadcast after snaring Adult Alternative Album of the Year for Metals and Music DVD of the Year for Feist: Look At What the Light Did Now during the pre-broadcast gala at the Ottawa Convention Centre on Saturday night.

RELATED: Full list of winners

The victory seemed to genuinely take Feist by surprise on the program, and she would later assure the press corps gathered backstage that she hadn’t been faking the look of shock on her face — even though her Juno tally over the years now stands at 11.

“I’ve forgotten all the ones in between,” she said. “I really just remember the first one and this one, for sure.”

Since the difficult Metals enjoyed a far lower profile, sales-wise, than many of the other records up for hardware at this year’s Juno Awards, Feist assumed she’d only been invited to Ottawa to perform on the show. Her time in the spotlight, she figured, was behind her after she won five Junos in Calgary in 2008 at the height of “1 2 3 4” fever.

“I was completely, 100 per cent convinced that I was absolutely not going to win an award,” she said. “I felt like those days were over and I was content to just come and play, because that’s what I do. I was glad to be at something like this and do what I do and just hang out.

“But this is just exponentially more shocking than it was in 2008. That year, there were so many wonderful things happening that nothing felt shocking because I was over-shocked. Now, this is the shock.”

The Sheepdogs, meanwhile, took Single of the Year honours for “I Don’t Know” during the Juno show after picking up New Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year for Learn & Burn the night before. In keeping with its infamously dogged work ethic, the Prairie quartet was unable to attend either ceremony because it’s currently on tour in Australia with John Fogerty.

Vancouver folk-popster Dan Mangan — who, like Feist, records for Toronto’s Arts & Crafts label — made an impressive dent at his first trip to the awards. He snagged New Artist of the Year on Sunday and Alternative Album of the Year for Oh Fortune on Saturday.

“I came into this with a very open-minded view,” said Mangan backstage. “I’d never been to the Juno Awards before . . . and I would have been totally fine with my year with no awards. But I’ve got to say that it’s really, really fun when you win.

“There’s a certain palpitation of the heart. It’s amazing and I’m really excited and happy right now.”

Fellow West Coasters Hedley were the closest this year’s Junos otherwise came to another multiple winner. The ballad-prone pop-punk outfit, led by former Canadian Idol runner-up Jacob Hoggard, wound up with a Pop Album of the Year award for Storms, while their producer, Brian Howes, was handed the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year title for his work on Storms and Nickelback’s Here and Now.

Hedley victories aside, on the whole it was a great weekend for Canadian artists who’ve risen to prominence outside the traditional major-label system. Arkells taking Group of the Year from Nickelback on Saturday was only the start.

Sure, a Christmas record, Michael Bublé’s Christmas, walked away with Album of the Year over Drake’s acclaimed Take Care (and another Christmas album by Justin Bieber), but Bublé himself would probably be embarrassed by that.

And while the CTV broadcast opened with a pyro-drenched performance by Nickelback and gave space to such disposable corporate fare as Simple Plan schlepping through a faceless number with K’Naan, it also let Feist perform “The Bad in Each Other” with an enormous band that included ex-Constantine Bry Webb, BSS’s Charles Spearin and all-gal bluegrass trio Mountain Man and some pyro of her own and then closed with Deadmau5 and Lights drenching the arena bowl in 21st-century dance music.

The Junos this year were a democratic hodgepodge, perhaps, but they erred on the side of the underdog, Bublé aside, and that’s something to be commended.

Eighty-one-year-old Shatner was a pretty fine host, too, oozing “don’t give a damn” attitude from the moment he took the stage for a droll, monotone reading of CanCon classics past, including Bryan Adams’s “Summer of 69,” Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” Trooper’s “Raise a Little Hell” and Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” His quip about combining “the two pillars of Canadian rock,” Nickelback and William Shatner, into a supergroup called “Nickelshat” will also live with us for some time to come.

Even the terminally irascible Deadmau5 appeared to have had a good enough time that he refused to run down the Junos for picking a Christmas record as Album of the Year during his trip to the press room.

“Well, is it any good?” he asked. “It better be one hell of a Christmas album.”

Chick Corea’s Newest New Thing

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(Apr. 2, 2012) Chameleon. That’s been Chick Corea’s label for better or worse — for better, mostly — for his some 50 years in jazz. The thing is he’s rather proud of it.

“Whenever I put a record together or a new project it takes on its own character,” the pianist says on the phone from his Florida home. “When I play solo I have a different identity than when I play with other musicians.”

Born Armando Corea in Chelsea, Mass he began his career as a bebop pianist. But by the ’70s he was spearheading the electrified jazz fusion scene with the band Return to Forever. He’s played atonal free jazz and written tunes for kids. His Markham Theatre solo appearance April 3 comes on the heels of this year’s release of two albums which couldn’t be less alike conceptually or stylistically.

The Continents, with a concerto for jazz quintet and chamber orchestra was written “in the spirit of Mozart,” he says. The other, Further Explorations, is in the classic jazz trio format. Recorded live May 2010 at the Blue Note club in New York with drummer Paul Motian and bassist Eddie Gomez, it uses mostly compositions by the late pianist Bill Evans as a starting point.

Evans was already a jazz star when Corea, now 70, first came to live in New York in 1959. “His spirit surrounds this album,” Corea insists.

The Markham concert is one of five consecutive solo performances. “And they’re the kind where I can take a lot of liberty,” he continues. “Playing solo is the one time I can explore the moment. I might play written music or bebop tunes. I might talk to the audience. These shows give me an opportunity to get a clear assessment of myself, to hear how I make music without anyone else.”

Corea’s own prodigious multi-tasking — he seem to be always forming a new band every some perhaps better left unformed — has earned him accusations of spreading himself too thin. A New York Times critic once described Corea’s Elektric Band (as distinguished from his Akoustic Band) as “occasionally a Day Glo embarrassment.”

But Corea continues to be forward thinking. “I do only one thing at a time,” he explains. “But I’m also always putting together one project or another that will appear in a year or two.”

Listeners are rewarded by this kind of thinking with Orvieto, an extraordinary collaboration between Corea and the lyrical Italian pianist Stefano Bollani released last year. The pair’s of on-the-spot improvisations rank among the best in modern jazz history. Their twisty version of Fats Waller’s “The Jitterbug Waltz” has all the clarity, complexity and comic elements of an Alexander Calder sculpture.

“My Italian promoter thought we’d make a good match,” says Corea. “And we clicked easily. Sometimes you share an agreement with another musician that’s not something you’ve talked about but something that you notice during the playing you do together. ‘Wow, this is good communication,’ you think.”

Musicians Streaming And Dreaming

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jennifer Pagliaro

(Apr 04, 2012) When high school buddies Greg Lemon and Aaron Lang started rocking out in a crammed Pickering garage, they never dreamed they'd be lined up next to Adele and Coldplay.

But in the digital space, a band that's never even played a show can effortlessly rack up tens of thousands — sometimes millions — of views with a few clicks.

In the past week, the suitably named
Lemonlang's debut alt-rock album Self Implode Deadline has moved to second spot of the top charts on Rdio, a digital music subscription service, with over 50,000 plays and climbing. “I'm not exactly sure how it happened but it's been kind of an interesting week watching it happen,” said Lemon. “The Internet's a powerful tool.”

When Lemon, 33, and Lang, 30, formed the band over two years ago, playing music was a hobby for the Pickering natives — something to do after a full day's work in the automotive and aircraft industries and, in Lang's case, raising two kids.

After recording and editing the album between their two homes, Lemon said he signed up for the $50 ReverbNation distribution package, which assists artists in getting their music played on various subscription services and sold online on iTunes and Amazon.

It could easily be lost amid Rdio's 15 million songs — including the latest top 40 hits — available for streaming. “I told a lot of people I know to play it,” Lemon said — them and the eight people who subscribe to the band's Facebook page and fans on a Soundgarden fan site.

Lemon, who played music long before being a YouTube sensation was a route to superstardom, seemed genuinely shocked the album was doing so well, sharing the latest numbers with followers. “It was a bit of a fluke,” he said.

But Marisol Segal, executive director of content and marketing for Rdio, said their site is actually designed for bands like Lemonlang to get noticed. “It's definitely not a fluke,” Segal said. “Every day on Rdio, I find albums by artists I've never heard of.”

Local artists like folk rock singer Ryan Van Sickle, who grew up in Dundas, Ont., are also trying to reach out to potential fans through online means. One method is to stage simple concerts — “Now you're your own producer,” he said — and share them live through Google's social-media site, Google Plus. (Specifically, its Hangouts video-chat service.)

He said he's seen increased album sales since starting to play online; he's also started offering to book live house shows, to drawing on his online fans. “Doors have been opened, so it's been great,” he said.

But for Van Sickle, playing online is the jumping-off point to the kind of “real world” success every artist dreams of. “I'm actually hoping that I can build a large enough fan base that I can go on the road and play venues and bring in a crowd.”

Van Sickle's plan would see him follow in the path of Connecticut-based Daria Musk. When she pressed the start button on Hangouts for the first time last year, her music was instantly delivered all over the world, though Hangout's normal limit is 10 people participating at one time.

“All around the world, you move me,” she sang as part of a seven-hour concert. All around the world, they applauded.

With the help of the Google team to open up the event, her second concert had an audience of 9,000 in 100 countries. Her third was watched by more than 200,000 people, more than 10 times the seating capacity at the Air Canada Centre.

Musk said putting her music online in an interactive way has led to in-person concert gigs in venues she was never able to fill before, and even landed her a music video shot by an L.A. producer who she met in a Hangout.

“One of my favourite parts about it is how effortlessly global it is,” she said.

How big an audience an artist finds is hard to predict. Though Rdio doesn't publicly release subscription numbers, U.S. competitor Spotify, one of the biggest subscription services, reportedly has 10 million active users worldwide.

Segal says trending albums grow organically amongst users' networks of friends. Albums getting lots of plays will show up in your network's “heavy rotation” and a lot of plays in a short period will get the album trending.

“This is really one of those great examples of how the social discovery aspect can work,” Segal said. “If the record is something that people like, then it's going to pick up steam.”

Most of Lemonlang's listeners are based in Ontario and all of them are from Canada, Segal said. Many are new users of Rdio and it's not clear if the album's trending success is translating into album sales or further opportunities yet.

Rdio pays royalties per stream, but would not reveal their price scheme. Comparable services pay a fraction of a penny per play online — a sore point for some artists. (The Black Keys, for example, have kept their music off such streaming services, and drummer Patrick Carney stated, “If it was fair to the artist we would be involved in it.”)

But the path to fame (if not fortune) for local bands is transforming nevertheless. For Walk Off The Earth (the once-unheard-of Burlington band whose five-members-one- guitar video garnered more than 80 million views on YouTube) Internet fame yielded a spot on Ellen and a major-label record deal.

“It is every person's dream to get to do what they love for a living,” said band member Sarah Blackwood in an email. “Because of the recognition we are receiving, we will have the chance to tour a lot more, make more records, songs, videos etc. So this has given us the freedom to do more of what we had already been doing, and on a bigger scale.”

But Blackwood said just because one video can launch your career, doesn't mean you don't have to work to stay relevant.

“You still have to put your blood and sweat into your craft,” she said.

As the publicist for Canadian acts like City & Colour and The Sheepdogs and now Walk Off The Earth, Cristina Fernandes said viral fandom helps get bands in the spotlight fast — but can end just as quickly: “If an artist doesn't have the chops to back it up, I feel their success is short-lived. There is definitely a threshold to the success a band can achieve on their own in the music industry.”

But if you're still below that threshold, even a modest boost is felt. Google Canada spokesperson Aaron Brindle said Hangouts change the game for a small-time musician without much cash. “What you need to go on tour or to find a venue that's willing to take you on . . . is so beyond what any kind of musician starting up could ever hope for. But what this technology does (is) level the playing field.”

Lemon agrees new technologies have at least helped him be heard. “I thought one day the Internet would be useful.” But for now, Lemonlang's still working and waiting for someone to call, or at least fans to comment.

“We're wondering what can actually happen now,” he said. “There's something brewin'.”

Cissy Houston Gives First Interview Since Whitney’s Death

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 2, 2012) *The mother of late Whitney Houston conducted her first interview since she passed.

Though
Cissy Houston turned down Oprah Winfrey, requesting more time to grieve, she agreed to an interview with Brenda Blackmon from local New Jersey FOX affiliate, My9.

“I miss her,” Cissy said. “She was very special to me.” She adds that she does not blame anyone for Whitney’s death. “Nothing I can do about it. Nothing nobody else can do about it. If I thought I could do something to bring her back, that’s exactly what I’d do, but I know that’s impossible.”

She also expressed her disappointment in the media for being “awful” to her family

“All they know is what they hear — bad things. She’s had her ups and downs. Who hasn’t?” Cissy notes. “Let them think and know what they want to say. I just hope they never come and say it to me.”

Cissy also asserts that rumors that Whitney was broke at the time of her death are “crap.”

Cissy’s interview is scheduled to air tonight.

Singers Who Wrote Some Of Our Favorite Songs

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 2, 2012) *Have you ever looked at the songwriting credits on a song and didn’t see the name of the singer who sung it? Well, that’s normal folks and happens often in the entertainment industry. But what many also forget is that if you were trying to guess who wrote the song, you better know the government names of a lot of the artists who lend their pens to others. Here’s one example of a singer who is also a songwriter for some of the industry’s finest.

“Justify My Love” written by Lenny Kravitz & performed by Madonna Oh Lenny, what a beautiful and talented man you are. Yes, back in the day he wrote this HIT for Madonna. We imagine Lenny sitting in the house or studio…nevermind. This was quite the era and I bet he and Madonna had good times. Read more at MadameNoire.

Country Music Awards: Taylor Swift Wins Entertainer Of The Year

Source: www.thestar.com - By Chris Talbott

(Apr. 2, 2012) There was little surprise when Taylor Swift won entertainer of the year at The Academy of Country Awards on Sunday night — except maybe in how little surprise the 22-year-old sensation showed when her name was called.

Swift displayed none of her normal expressions of astonishment after winning the academy’s top honour for the second year in a row. And, in fact, neither did her competitors, who gracefully if grimly acknowledged her as she hugged her way to the stage. With millions of albums sold and millions of new fans turned on to country music — and turning out to vote for her — the award had the feel of a coronation.

“She deserved it,” fellow nominee and show co-host Blake Shelton said. “When those announcements came out who was nominated, I remember saying right then — I don’t think I said I hope Taylor wins because I hoped I would win — but Taylor deserves it. I don’t think there is anyone with half a brain that would say otherwise. She has done a lot for us in country music. We are lucky enough in country music to call her one of us. But I am always going to make fun of her in my monologues so she might as well get used to that.”

Miranda Lambert and the duo of Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson were the top winners with two trophies each and their early victories overshadowed Swift initially. Lambert took her third consecutive female vocalist award, and was matched by husband Shelton, who ended Brad Paisley’s five-year run in the male vocalist category. She also won album of the year for a record-tying third time for “Four the Record.” Aldean and Clarkson won single record and vocal event of the year for their steamy duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

Swift was a mostly silent presence for much of the show. Shelton and co-host Reba McEntire poked a little fun at her, wondering about that rumoured date with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. She eventually lost in the female vocalist and video categories and didn’t perform.

When it came time for Lionel Richie to announce the entertainer winner, though, a feeling of inevitability had taken over. By then, the night’s top nominee and Swift’s main rival in the category, nine-time nominee Kenny Chesney, had been shut out of the awards. The other entertainer nominees were Aldean and Brad Paisley.

With the win she becomes the second woman to win two ACM entertainer of the year awards, following Carrie Underwood’s wins the two previous years. Receiving the fan-voted trophy capped an incredible 24 hours that was nonetheless tinged with melancholy.

She spent Saturday in Los Angeles where first lady Michelle Obama presented her with The Big Help Award at The Kids’ Choice Awards for her charitable work, something she said made her nervous because she considers Obama a role model.

“She was so cool,” Swift said.

After that great experience, however, the ACMs were tempered by the fact her date couldn’t make it. Somerdale, N.J., high school student Kevin McGuire, who has leukemia, was hospitalized on Friday with a virus.

“But I called him yesterday and told him that the next award show that he is well for we are going,” Swift, wearing an elegant white floor-length dress with gold accents, said backstage.

While it comes as little surprise that Swift won, the ACMs did offer a few interesting developments this year.

Eli Young Band knocked off Chesney’s take on “You and Tequila” with Grace Potter and other top stars in the song of the year category. It was a long time coming for the Texas quartet, whose lead singer Mike Eli exhorted watchers to follow the band by following their dreams. Eli told reporters their career has morphed in incredible ways. A few years ago they were excited to score an interview in a college newspaper. Sunday night, they were dedicating the win to their wives for their patience.

“They were crying more than we were,” Eli said. “And we were crying a lot.”

Husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square also pulled off an upset, winning vocal duo of the year over Sugarland. Everything else might have been predicted: Lady Antebellum won its third straight vocal group trophy, Toby Keith’s riotous “Red Solo Cup” won video of the year and “American Idol” champion Scotty McCreery took new artist of the year.

Underwood kicked off the night with a hard-charging blast of rock ‘n’ roll and a sexy black and magenta mini-dress for hew new single “Good Girl,” a warning shot to those looking for a lot of twang out of the show.

From Underwood’s rockin’ new single to U2 singer Bono’s introduction of Dierks Bentley via video from Ireland to KISS in full makeup awarding Lady Antebellum with yet another trophy, the ACMs showed off the modern flavour of country with all sorts of multi-genre mashups.

LL Cool J and Keith Urban banded together to salute veterans and Toby Keith walked through the crowd as he sang “Red Solo Cup” with the help of Carrot Top. Actor-comedian-banjo player Steve Martin joined Rascal Flatts on “Banjo” after a brief tribute to country pioneer Earl Scruggs, who died last week.

Martina McBride and Train’s Pat Monahan teamed up to help New Jersey couple Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci get married on stage while they sang McBride’s “Marry Me.” Davidson and Tucci’s ceremony — quick even for notoriously quickie Vegas weddings — went on behind the singers during the performance and fans could hear the bride and groom say “I will” before their first kiss as a married couple, bringing the crowd to its feet.

And in one of the night’s oddest juxtapositions, “Two and a Half Men” star Ashton Kutcher in cowboy hat sang George Strait before awarding Lambert female vocalist of the year.

For Swift, though, the night will be remembered as the bow on top of the “Speak Now” portion of her career. That multi-platinum album was the second-best selling LP of 2011. She filled stadiums and arenas around the world, and Billboard recently named her its top moneymaker last year with an estimated $35 million earned. She also won two Grammys earlier this year.

“It was an amazing thing and for me I am always looking forward, I am always looking at what’s next,” Swift said. “And I’m writing my next record right now as I have been for the past two years, but intensely writing my next record right now. I hope it’s good. Keep your fingers crossed. I would love it if it was good.”

Lionel Richie’s ‘Tuskegee’ Debuts at No. 2 behind Madonna

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 04, 2012) *It’s the 80s all over again atop the Billboard 200 chart this week.

Madonna’s new album “MDNA” sold 359,000 copies in its first week to earn her fifth straight No. 1, while another 50-something 80s icon,
Lionel Richie, saw his latest set “Tuskegee” place No. 2 with his best sales week since 1986.

The album – which features country versions of Richie’s classics via duets with such artists as Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, and Shania Twain – sold 199,000 copies in its first seven days. To put that in perspective, consider this: Richie’s last album, 2009′s “Just Go,” sold 95,000 copies total to date.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the country community backed Richie 100 percent in the months leading up to “Tuskegee‘s” release. Back in November, the CMAs put together a Lionel Richie medley, in which the star joined fellow African-American country star Darius Rucker on stage. This past weekend, Richie sang with Blake Shelton at the ACM Awards.

In between those two shows, he’s been on a nonstop publicity tour: Richie has appeared on Today, on The Voice alongside Christina Aguilera, on his own CMT special, and he has performed on both “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Late Show with Dave Letterman.”

He has also been announced as a mentor on ABC’s upcoming singing competition “Duets” alongside Jennifer Nettles, with whom he also duets on Tuskegee. As Richie says in this week’s edition of EW, on stands Friday, “When I walked in the door [to make a country album], Nashville showed up.”

View the full Top 10 below:

1. Madonna, MDNA – 359,000

2. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee – 199,000

3.
Adele, 21 – 121,000

4.
Shinedown, Amaryllis – 106,000

5.
Various Artists, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond – 64,000

6. One Direction, Up All Night – 46,000

7.
Katy Perry, Teenage Dream – 33,000

8.
The Used, Vulnerable – 32,000

9.
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – 28,000

10.
Various Artists, Now 41 – 25,000

::FILM NEWS::    

Bully Director Says Canuck Censors’ Decision Pushed U.S. Theatres To Show Film

Source: www.thestar.com - By Cassandra Szklarski

(Apr 04, 2012) Bully director Lee Hirsch says a bold decision by Canadian censors is opening doors for his controversial documentary in the United States.

Hirsch says he’s grateful to film boards in Canuck provinces that bestowed a PG rating after the Motion Picture Association of America slapped it with an R rating, which requires parental accompaniment for those below the age of 17.

U.S. distributors ended up releasing Bully without a rating in the United States, a move that leaves it up to individual theatre owners to decide whether to screen Hirsch’s troubling look at schoolyard abuse.

The fact that Canada has deemed it suitable for young audiences sends a powerful message, says the writer-director.

“It’s given them a lot of courage,” Hirsch says during a recent media stop in Toronto, crediting the Canadian move with encouraging U.S. theatres to screen the film.

“I think that they’ve looked to that leadership because people are so frustrated with the MPAA. But theatres are showing it and they’re letting kids in ... It’s kind of been great. It’s been fascinating.”

Much of the ratings controversy in the U.S. has centred on a handful of certain swear words, which warrants automatic age restrictions according to MPAA rules.

But it’s the devastating accounts of student humiliations that pack the biggest emotional wallop for audiences, says Hirsh, who never expected to get caught up in a brawl over language.

“As I made this movie I never thought it would ever get an R rating. It’s like a gut punch to get that R and to realize that there’s so many violent films that get PG, PG-13 (and where) they’re glorified, the violence is almost sexified. It sends a message that that’s OK but to see real-life, real kids using language is totally like, ‘Oh, that’s way too unacceptable,’ “ says Hirsch, whose film opened in the U.S. one week after the PG-13 teen adventure The Hunger Games.

“I think it’s sparked a lot of outrage and I think it really got people talking ... And in the middle of all of that I started getting calls telling me that B.C. gave it a PG and then Saskatchewan and Manitoba and Ontario. It was so affirming and gave us all a lot of courage to keep fighting.”

Bully centres on five U.S. kids and families struggling with the impact of schoolyard misery and charts repeated failures by parents, teachers and administrators to address it.

At its heart is 12-year-old Alex of Sioux City, Iowa, a rail-thin boy with protruding lips who yearns to fit in but admits to having trouble making friends. Cameras follow him from the day he starts Grade 7, capturing abuse, taunts and harassment that start at the bus stop — before Alex even boards the school bus where he often faces his most intense threats.

One incident is so alarming Hirsch showed the footage to Alex’s parents and administrators, prompting a frustrating meeting between both sides in which a school official nevertheless insists that bus safety is as “good as gold.”

Then there’s Ja’Meya Jackson, a 14-year-old girl who pulled out a gun on a crowded school bus after being tormented by her peers; Kelby Johnson, an Oklahoma high school student taunted by teachers and fellow students after coming out as a lesbian; and the stories of two families who lost children to suicide after relentless physical and emotional abuse.

“In each case I was thinking: What is the lever that could move for this family, for this student?” Hirsch says of what he hoped his film would do for his subjects.

“But (I was) also thinking about: What’s the bigger conversation? What does it mean to sort of inspire broad change? What does that look like? Where do we take people after they’ve seen the film? What’s the take-away?”

Hirsch says he’s heartened to see the movie take on a life of its own, noting that a movement is afoot to recognize bullying as a social problem and not just “kids being kids.”

“At the larger level you’ve seen a national, international conversation that’s started. We’ve trended on Twitter. People are talking about bullying more than they have before, they’re asking, ‘Is there a problem?’,” says Hirsch.

“For a couple years it’s been tragedy after tragedy after tragedy — cyberbullying, this suicide, another suicide — we’ve been so alarmed and terrified by this sort of story as its percolated and I think it’s sort of crested into the zeitgeist.

“Now I think it’s about change. I think people are talking about: Let’s move. We’ve had enough now let’s start making a difference, let’s come together as educators, as unions, as bus drivers, as parents, as kids ... I think this generation of teenagers is going to be the generation that turns the corner.”

Although Hirsch says the themes are universal, he notes that Bully almost included a Canadian perspective. He says he found a Halifax family that was struggling with similar issues to Alex’s family but that costs kept him from being able to pursue their story.

Hirsch says his own experiences as a bullied boy are what pushed him to delve into such difficult territory.

“It’s not easy to make these movies and so you look for something that is meaningful, that you have an emotional connection to, that is going to drive you hard enough to go through what it takes to birth one of these things and that’s what it was for me,” he says.

“I couldn’t believe that there really wasn’t a film that addressed this. In the documentary world we see everyone’s films, all of our colleagues’ films that we support and there’s lots of themes that have been repeated over and over and over but there really hadn’t been a lot on bullying so I thought, ‘This needs to be done, that there’s people that will appreciate this, that have been through this experience, that will feel like we gave them a voice.’”

Bully opens Friday in select cities.

Ashton Kutcher To Play Steve Jobs In Biopic

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Apr. 2, 2012) Ashton Kutcher is set to play Apple founder Steve Jobs in a new movie.

The Two and a Half Men star — who is a renowned lover of gadgets — will play the late technology guru in an as-yet-untitled picture written by Matt Whiteley.

Filming is set to star in May, and the film tells the tale of Steve’s life “from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple, where he became one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of our time,” according to Variety.

Ashton posted on Twitter when Steve died last year, using one of his own quotes to pay tribute to him.

He wrote: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. - Steve Jobs RIP.(sic)”

The 34-year-old hunk — who split from wife Demi Moore late last year — last made a big-screen appearance in the critically panned New Year’s Eve, and is best known for roles in romantic comedies such as No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman and A Lot Like Love.

An Epic Journey For Two Indie Filmmakers

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Apr 04, 2012) This story needs a girl. That’s what Toronto actress May Charters told her Creston, B.C.-born boyfriend, model-turned-filmmaker Mark Hug, about the indie film he wanted to make about brothers coming to terms with hockey stardom for one and an unfulfilled life for the other in their small hometown in British Columbia.

Turns out, she was just the girl for the job. The Canuck couple, who met in an L.A. acting class in 2002, co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in the dramatic comedy. It took on a new focus about a man and woman, former childhood best friends, who meet again at their high school reunion. They called it
Lovers in a Dangerous Time, named for the Bruce Cockburn song.

Charters’ younger brother Robin Charters handled the cinematography. Hug’s high-school pals and even his dad rounded out the cast. They “commandeered” Hug’s younger sister’s high-school reunion for a pivotal scene and worked on the movie when time and their bank accounts allowed, finally finishing it in time for entry in some Western Canadian film fests where it won three best-picture prizes, including the audience award at the Calgary International Film Festival.

The movie did well, but this being a Canadian film story, success was measured in small doses. Now, three years after Lovers in a Dangerous Time premiered, it opens in Toronto on Friday on one screen at the AMC Yonge-Dundas.

Lovers is the result of two years of intermittent filming that cost the pair $50,000 in savings and led to long stretches of uncertainty punctuated by occasional triumphs. But they never lost faith in the film they’d made when they were 31 with the help of friends and family about life in the town here Hug grew up.

“We made this completely on our own without any support from any company. We worked and put all we had into making the film,” said Hug, chatting with the Star via Skype along with Charters from San Diego, where they were working their “day” jobs as model talent scouts for American photographer Bruce Weber.

Still close friends, Charters and Hug are no longer a romantic couple. “The film is not to blame,” Hug said with a laugh.

“When you watch the film there’s something that these two characters have that’s bigger than the romance,” he added. “May and I feel like we have that.”

“It’s the next chapter in our lives. It’s just not together,” said Charters.

The movie took so long to make because they wanted to show all four seasons in the story of Todd (Hug), who works at his father’s apple orchard, and Toronto-based children’s book illustrator Allison (Charters), childhood friends who meet again at their 10-year high school reunion.

Hug said his dad did well in his screen debut, especially in a scene where he yells at his son for sleeping in when he’s supposed to be working in the orchard.

“My dad had to learn to get over this a long time ago with me,” Hug laughs about his father’s acceptance of his decision to be an actor and filmmaker (he was also an Abercrombie & Fitch model). “My mother would tell my dad, ‘He’s doing this and it’s good for him.’ When I came back to do the film my dad accepted it.”

Hockey was a big part of the movie “because hockey is awesome!” said Charters.

“It’s all about letting go of childhood that all these characters are going through and for Todd it was hockey and I think it’s that way for a lot of Canadian men,” said Hug. “For males in Canada, it’s such a big thing to be a hockey player. It’s the closest thing we have to that Superman thing.”

Todd’s problem goes beyond not fulfilling his hockey dreams. His younger brother, Bobby (Sweet Karma’s Mark Wiebe), is a star with the Boston Bruins. When he comes home with his pockets full of NHL cash, it’s all too much for Todd to endure.

A standoff scene between the two of them mirrored a real-life situation for Hug. He had his pal Jon Haberstock, who appears in the movie, got the idea into their heads to brand each other’s butts with a red-hot fireplace poker one night.

After Charters and Hug finished screening the film on the festival circuit in 2009, they had to find a way to get the movie into theatres. Without a distributor or publicist, it wasn’t easy. Charters, who went to the Toronto International Film Festival each September, would try to shop the movie, but she didn’t have the contacts to get her into meetings. Finally, she got some time with Robin Smith, president of Toronto indie distributor KinoSmith, and he agreed to show the film here, although it took a year to get it into a theatre.

“I think maybe initially you feel frustrated, but we got over that feeling,” said Charters when asked how she dealt with the uphill battle of reaching audiences. “We understand the emotion of what goes around distribution and we know the situation with big-budget movies and how easy it for them to get into theatres.”

Lovers in a Dangerous Time opened in British Columbia and Alberta last year and had modest success. Streaming sites Netflix and Hulu are offering it in the U.S. and they hope for a similar web deal for Canada. But first, the long-awaited Toronto opening.

“It’s been a long journey so it’s evolved, but opening in Toronto was a goal for me,” said Charters. “It’s intrinsically B.C. and my dream has been for it to open in Toronto.”

“We hope this film turns into a cult film,” added Hug. “We think it is a film that is very Canadian, very honest in a small-town Canadian way. I hope people keep discovering it. It’ll be our basement tapes in a way. We’re very proud of its authenticity.”

May Charters and Mark Hug will be attending screenings of Lovers in a Dangerous Time at the AMC Yonge-Dundas Friday and Saturday.

Sparkle Trailer Offers Glimpse Of Whitney Houston's Last Film

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(Apr. 2, 2012) Although her life was a series of bad decisions and her voice was faltering, Whitney Houston sings and delivers cautionary career advice in her final movie role.

The late singer plays the mother of aspiring pop stars in the upcoming film Sparkle, which was supposed to launch her big-screen comeback.

The trailer for Sparkle debuted Monday morning on NBC's Today Show, with a longer clip later released to Yahoo! Movies.

Scheduled for theatrical release on Aug. 17, Sparkle is a remake of a 1976 film that starred Irene Cara.

Houston is listed as an executive producer of the remake, which marked her first movie role since The Preacher's Wife in 1996. Houston garnered her best acting role with the 1992 feature The Bodyguard.

The Sparkle remake casts Houston in the pivotal role of Emma, a once-famous singer turned single mother whose three daughters form a singing group and struggle with fame, drug addiction and unwise choices in men. In her own life, Houston was married to singer Bobby Brown from 1992 to 2005, and the marriage was beset with rumours of physical abuse and drug addiction.

In the Sparkle trailer, Houston is shown imparting sage career advice to her offspring. "I always knew you had the gift," she says to eldest daughter Sparkle, played by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. "It makes me feel like I did something right. Don't lose it."

Houston also sings in the film and the trailer includes a clip of her performing the classic gospel song His Eye Is on the Sparrow.

Filmed primarily in Detroit, Sparkle wrapped shooting several weeks before Houston died in a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room on Feb. 11 at age 48, on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

An autopsy last month revealed that the singer accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors.

Titanic 3D: The Old, The New And The Deep, Deep Blue

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Liam Lacey

(Apr 04, 2012) Some things not to expect when you see the new 3-D version of James Cameron's 1997 Titanic: The prow of the Titanic does not threaten to cleave your forehead; the night-time flares do not burn your eyeballs; nor do Kate Winslet's naked breasts leap off the screen in the sketching scene.

Overall, for a blockbuster movie about one great big thing hitting another great big thing, the new film shows distinctly upper-deck restraint.

Titanic 3D is not a new Titanic, just the same old one with a new coat of sparkle paint and with perhaps a half-dimension of new visual complexity.

Unlike those first wintry showings back in 1997, the audience at Monday night's less-than-capacity sneak-preview screening, behind their dark glasses, seemed respectfully interested rather than emotionally overwhelmed.

They all seemed familiar with the melodrama about Jack the vagabond painter (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose the runaway fiancée (Kate Winslet), on the famed ship carrying a massive cargo of early 20th-century hubris.

What does the 3-D up-conversion do? Most obviously, the 3-D enhancement heightens the awareness to simultaneous actions in the foreground and background planes of the screen, notably during the long sequence of panicked crowds trying to get off the tilting ship.

More subtly, the 3-D emphasizes the scale and space within the ship, and reminds us how the romance between Jack and Rose is really a stand-in for the love affair between Cameron and the legendary sunken ship.

No doubt, the characters are clichéd (the pauper, the princess and the wicked overseer might have been lifted from Disney's Aladdin), and the dialogue is often rough sailing. (Jack, on seeing a Monet, says: "Look at his use of colour here. Isn't he great?")

But Cameron's screenplay is brilliant in one way: The upstairs-downstairs romance, with the two milk-fresh young stars, is a terrific way to bring the catastrophe to life, by allowing us to tour, and re-tour, the ship's interior, both in its pristine and destroyed states. Unlike, say, Michael Bay, Cameron is a fiend for clarity and we always know where we are on the Titanic.

At the beginning of the film, a scientist (Lewis Abernathy) does an illustrated drawing of the ship's sinking for the benefit of the 101-year-old Rose (Gloria Stuart). Then she narrates her story, with the salvage crew providing a surrogate audience. The use of this enfolded narrative structure echoes the experience of the ship itself, with its nesting inner spaces, from the stygian depths of the boiler rooms where the coal shovellers work, to the claustrophobic corridors in steerage to the back of the car where Rose and Jack make love.

While real 3-D might have made the ship's presence even more important, the up-conversion is meticulous, more suggestive of the use of interiors in Martin Scorsese's Hugo than the fishbowl approach used in Cameron's 3-D milestone, Avatar.

The lens of retrospect also changes the experience of Titanic in a couple of significant ways. The scene of people taking the long leap to their deaths from the vertical stern of the ship has a different resonance after Sept. 11, 2001.

So does the scene of Jack and Rose, clinging to their door in the icy North Atlantic seas, where the actors' skin tones are, unmistakably, Avatar-blue.

Titanic 3D
Written and directed by James Cameron
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet
Classification: PG
3 stars

FILM TIDBITS

Breaking: Will Ferrell To Return As Anchorman

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(March 29, 2012) New York— Will Ferrell's swashbuckling newscaster Ron Burgundy had his own breaking news to announce Wednesday night: A sequel to Anchorman is finally happening. Ferrell made a surprise, in-character appearance on Conan to regale the audience with a flute solo and declare a deal with Paramount Pictures. A sequel to the 2004 hit comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, has long been discussed. Ferrell informed host Conan O'Brien: “It's official, there will be a sequel to Anchorman.” Earlier, Paramount had declined a musical plan put forth by Ferrell and director Adam McKay that also included a proposed Broadway stage show. No details on the project were immediately available but McKay, producer Judd Apatow, and co-stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are expected to return.

NFB Trims Production Funds

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon

(Apr 04, 2012) The National Film Board of Canada is trimming back its funds for production, decreasing its popular street-level viewing stations and cutting 73 jobs - all because of the nearly $6.7-million in budget cuts imposed by the federal government. In September, the board's storefront viewing venues in Montreal and Toronto, which were popular downtown diversions allowing the public to watch NFB films, will be closed, as will its cinemas in both cities. Some funding assistance to filmmakers will be reduced and back-office duties streamlined. Despite the 73 job cuts, the reorganization is expected to create 12 new positions. The NFB has tried to spare funding for the animation, documentary and experimental films in which it specializes. Funds allocated directly for new productions will be reduced by only 1 per cent, a board spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

::TV NEWS::    

Martin Short’s I, Martin Short, Goes Home

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Apr 03, 2012) He won’t be endearing himself to any public-school grammar teachers, but then I, Martin Short, Goes Home, is not about correctness, scholastic or political. And neither is Martin Short.

Short’s new homegrown CBC special, airing Tuesday night at 9, is quintessentially Marty, mixing parody, character and live performance, high and low humour, snickering self-deprecation with preening faux ego.

Short is the eternal man-child, an ageless imp, looking nowhere near his full 61 years and acting even less so.

He wears his showbizzy excess on his sleeve and makes us love him all the more for it.

And if there weren’t already enough wacky people living inside that tousled head, he sends out for more, courtesy of his funny friends, like SCTV collaborators Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty and Robin Duke.

There is a spit-up-your-milk funny segment early on, when Short is supposedly paying a call on his revered old high-school music teacher, who is in fact fellow Hamiltonian Eugene Levy, clearly having the time of his life as the seminal inspiration for spit-curled Short creation Ed Grimley.

“I somehow don’t remember him being that odd,” Short remarks to the camera. He does that a lot.

There are cameos, too, from other comedy colleagues, notably the journeyman straight man Fred Willard, here playing the erstwhile second subject of the show, a former kiddie-show host, à la Friendly Giant, fallen on tough (if largely self-created) times.

Short knows when to curb his worst instincts and pull back from the brink, as when Willard’s pageboy’d hack puppeteer teeters dangerously close to Holocaust denial.

Again, that’s Short all over, with his uncanny gift for walking — and indeed, prancing — the line between effusive and offensive, the shameless and the slyly subtle.

Welcome home, Marty.

A little Short goes a long way

For Short to have truly come home he would have had to leave in the first place. And even if he long ago physically relocated to California, Hamilton’s native son has never strayed too far out of sight.

Setting aside his Tony Award-winning stage work and prolific movie career — and voice roles in Madagascar 3 and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie are imminent — Short has lately broadened his TV imprint with major guest arcs on Damages, Weeds and Law & Order: SVU.

And these are the shows he can currently be seen on:

Canada’s Got Talent(Citytv, Sundays, 8 p.m., and Mondays, 9 p.m.; this week only, results air Tuesday at 8 p.m.): Between the live results episode of this Short-anchored talent show, the nightly SCTV rerun on Comedy Network and the new CBC special, it is possible to spend almost all of your Tuesday night in the televised company of Short. The man could be his own channel.

David Letterman To Hold On To Late-Night Post Through 2014

Source: www.thestar.com - By Frazier Moore

(Apr 03, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Relax, all you fans of David Letterman and Craig Ferguson. They’ll be staying put in late night awhile longer.

CBS announced Tuesday that both Dave and Craig have re-upped to keep hosting their respective hours — Late Show and The Late Late Show — through 2014.

During the run of this agreement, Letterman will clinch his title as the longest-running, late-night talk-show host in TV history (although on two networks), the network noted. He surpasses Johnny Carson’s record of a few months less than 30 years at NBC’s Tonight Show. Letterman, who turns 65 next week, began on NBC in 1982 with Late Night, before switching to CBS in 1993 after Jay Leno edged him out for the Tonight Show crown upon Carson’s retirement.

No salary figures were disclosed. But as part of the new deal, The Late Late Show will be upgraded from its famously matchbox-size studio to a larger stage at Los Angeles’ CBS Television City, the network said.

“David Letterman is a late-night legend with an iconic show and Craig Ferguson continues to evolve the genre in exciting and innovative ways,” said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler in making the announcement.

The Scottish-born Ferguson, 49, had been a musician, actor, writer, director and comedian when he took over The Late Late Show in 2005. He has been guaranteed the earlier slot when Letterman decides to retire.

Originating from Manhattan’s Ed Sullivan Theater, Late Show has won nine Emmy Awards. In addition to an Emmy nomination, The Late Late Show won a Peabody Award in 2009.

The Late Show With David Letterman airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. EDT. The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson follows at 12:37 a.m. EDT. Both series are produced by Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants.

New Girl: A Show So Nice It Could Be Canadian

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By John Doyle

(Apr 01, 2012) This column is not easily shocked. Surprised, sometimes, but not running-around-with-its-bit-of-hair-on-fire shocked.

I was indeed shocked by the volume of vitriol aimed at Little Mosque on the Prairie as it ended its run Monday night. Such was the hatred in the mail that you'd think the CBC was engaged in a massive robo-call campaign to force people to watch it. The hatred seemed, you know, un-Canadian.

On the other hand I was merely surprised to read about the shenanigans on the U.S. network morning shows this week. There's The Today Show, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning. Oprah Winfrey was on one of them Monday moaning about the difficulty of launching her OWN channel. Today, Sarah Palin is a guest host on Today, and Ryan Seacrest shows up to talk about how many gazillion dollars he earns. Meanwhile, Palin's old nemesis Katie Couric is guest-hosting Good Morning America. OMG! Morning-show wars!

Other high-profile guests on Today this week, along with Palin, are Kim Kardashian, "Octomom" Nadya Suleman, Tori Spelling and singer Nicki Minaj. That's terrific but it's not surprising that nobody in Canada watches U.S. network morning shows.

Moving along to pleasant surprises -
New Girl (Fox, CITY-TV, 9 p.m.) has emerged as an adorable, absolute enjoyment to watch. It has evolved beautifully. It's now a show about being good and kind and people taking care of each other. It's so drenched in amiable nurturing that it could be mistaken for a Canadian series.

The show had a killer pilot. Zooey Deschanel arrived as Jess, a young woman in a bad spot. Dumping her love-rat of a boyfriend, she impetuously moved in with three guys. Things then had a boilerplate sitcom plot - the guys tried not to be male-crude and ended upon being kind to her when she was a mess.

Then things seemed to go awry. The adorableness of Deschanel appeared to be parked somewhere, off-screen. But, it turned out, as the show found its feet, this was not a conventional vehicle for a funny and charming young lady star. The male characters came into focus, and gloriously so.

There's Nick (Jake Johnson), a bartender and law-school dropout. A sad-sack initially presented as a cynic, he is the sentimental one now, the guy who cries over an old romance. Jess helps him with that, declining to scoff at a grown man in tears over a lost love.

The most intriguing character to become fully formed, though, is Schmidt (Max Greenfield), a guy who will show off his six-pack abs at every opportunity. He thinks of himself as a Casanova and the coolest, most fashionable dude in L.A. As it happens, he's a bit of an idiot. His speeches about women are priceless and the gentle mocking of a stereotypical ladies' man is hysterical. In recent episodes, his romance with Cece (Canadian Hannah Simone) has been a thing to behold. She likes sex with him but is mortified by his presence. She hides him. Thus he's the male equivalent of the female, bubblehead popsy that powerful men stash somewhere. And Greenfield is very, very fine in the role.

Still largely unfocused is Winston (Lamorne Morris), a former pro-basketball player who tends to see the world as a jock. He's as easily bored as a four-year-old, which nicely undermines the jock-competitiveness of the character, but there's room to grow there.

What usually happens, mind you, is that the Jess character initiates some collective caring. These people, a society in microcosm, don't merely deliver one-liners at each other. They learn to help each other. To sympathize. Nick had a medical scare and everybody helped pay his medical bills. Schmidt was getting so uptight that he was gently pushed into being mellow for a bit. Then he was allowed to go back to being his maddening self. There are few shows that are as much about tolerance as this seemingly flimsy sitcom.

Of course Zooey Deschanel remains at the core, but not as a babe or a flake. Just regular. I was taken aback by a recent episode in which she spent almost all her time dressed in leggings, boots and a nifty bolero jacket. It was notable, not for some salacious reason, but because she looked like a lot of women on the streets of Toronna. And, oddly, as absurd as the show is, there is considerable wit and warmth to Jess's adventures at work and in romance.

It is a pleasure to report surprise at the strength of New Girl. It's a good surprise, in the way that discovering Wendel Clark is on TV promoting Dove Men-Plus-Care products is a surprise. Once one of the NHL's toughest guys, there he is now, presented as a guy with a very gentle side. I know it's only a commercial. But, still ... Clark used to be the player known to be relentlessly tough. Now he could be a guy on New Girl.

All times ET. Check local listings.

Where are they Now? The Cast of ‘Martin’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 04, 2012) *Wasssssssssup!

That was one word you heard almost every time you saw the show “
Martin,” with Martin playing the role as main host on the radio station aptly titled, you guessed it, “WZUP.”

The show is syndicated today and can be viewed on various stations around the US and the world. It is one of the most hilarious comedy shows in the history of television. And we aren’t just talking black television, we are talking all television.

While we know what Martin Lawrence has been up to, we don’t much about the rest of the crew.

Here’s how they are doing:

Tisha Campbell-Martin

As Gina Waters-Payne, Tisha Campbell-Martin was both a successful businesswoman and the owner of a humongous head (remember when it got stuck in the new bed?). While Martin brought huge laughs on the show, Tisha and Martin had pretty amazing chemistry, which made the show all the more entertaining. However, a lot of rumors flew near the end of the show of sexual harassment and even stalking, and before you know it, around the fifth and final season, the character of Gina was rarely seen. She showed up for the series finale (in no scenes with her on-screen husband), but honestly, that last season was pretty random without all the characters getting along all friendly and what not. Afterwards, she was able to find pretty good work, doing the film Sprung, playing Jay on one of my other favorite shows, “My Wife and Kids,” and making guest appearances on “All of Us,” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” Her latest work was on the TV show, “The Protector,” which was canceled, and in a Mindless Behavior music video–”Hello.”

Read about the rest of the cast at MadameNoir.

Kerry Washington, Columbus Short, Shonda Rhimes Talk ‘Scandal’

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Cherie Saunders

(Apr 04, 2012) *“Scandal,” the newest drama from ABC’s go-to production machine Shonda Rhimes, premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. with Kerry Washington as the head of a crisis management firm based on real life DC insider Judy Smith.

“The way we sort of set the show up is we didn’t necessarily take actual cases that Judy has worked on because she’s very loyal to her clients and keeps their confidentiality, and we don’t know all those details,” Rhimes told TV critics about the involvement of Smith, who serves as an executive producer. “But I would call her up and say, ‘What if I have this conservative soldier who is secretly gay who just won a Congressional Medal of Honor? Like what would you do in this instance?’ Then she would tell me, ‘Here’s how I would solve this problem.’”

The gay soldier dilemma is j
ust the B-storyline in Thursday’s pilot. A bigger scandal involving the President of the United States (Tony Goldwyn) and an intern is the main focus of Olivia Pope (Washington) and her staff of loyal employees played by Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Henry Ian Cusick and Columbus Short.

“One of the things that about the show that’s fascinating and interesting is the pace in which we speak our dialogue,” said Short, who plays the impeccably-dressed Harrison Wright. “I think that speaks to the characters of who they are. They’re in a fast paced world, and I like to talk fast. And so that was something I clicked into right away.

Rhimes, who also wrote the pilot episode and somehow juggles this with her other dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” said “Scandal’s” fast pace was influenced by her love of “The West Wing,” yet another DC-based drama immersed in politics.

“I thought the writing on that show was great,” she said. “It was interesting because part of ‘Scandal‘s’ pace was born of me not wanting actors to linger in the moments, you know, in the sense it’s a world in which everyone is really incredibly busy, and there’s no time to feel your feelings.”

“So part of it was that. Part of it was that I wrote a pilot that was, like, 75 pages long.” [The norm is 50-60 pages for an hour-long drama.]

Shonda’s creative partner Betsy Beers adds, “It’s funny how much you can get in if you talk really, really fast.”

Below, “Scandal” star Kerry Washington talks about the joy of working with Shonda Rhimes, getting to know Judy Smith and the work experience she refers to as a “master class.”

TV TIDBITS

Oprah Winfrey Still Bullish On Her Cable Network

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Apr. 2, 2012) Oprah Winfrey says she still has faith in her troubled cable network. Appearing Monday on CBS This Morning, Winfrey told the show's co-host - and her best friend - Gayle King that she believes the Oprah Winfrey Network will fulfill its mission of transforming viewers' lives. But if viewers don't respond, Winfrey says: "I will move on to the next thing." OWN has struggled to build an audience since its launch in January 2011. Says Winfrey: "I'll always be OK." Meanwhile, her longtime boyfriend, Stedman Graham, was on NBC's Today show promoting his new book, Identity: Your Passport to Success. Noting the couple's clashing TV appearances, host Matt Lauer asked Graham if they share a competitive streak. He replied that he only wants the best for her.

::ARTS NEWS::

Wooster Group's Vieux Carré An Experimental Triumph

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

(Apr. 2, 2012) Once upon a time, if you wanted to remember what you ate for lunch yesterday, you might close your eyes, concentrate and try to retrieve that information from the recesses of your mind.

Now, of course, you can just check your Twitter feed to jog your memory. Perhaps you even posted a picture of your ham sandwich on Instagram.

If the way we remember is changing, then perhaps the theatre's approach to memory plays must change, too. That's the thought I took away from enduring New York experimentalists The Wooster Group's mad, media-filled version of Tennessee Williams'
Vieux Carré.

In this 1977 play, Williams drew on his memories of living as a young writer in a French Quarter flophouse in New Orleans.

Vieux Carré was a flop in its premiere on Broadway, but its history makes it a fascinating text for fans of the playwright of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Williams began writing the autobiographical show in 1939 - essentially transcribing what went on in the rooms around him - and then revisited it every decade before finally completing it in the 1970s.

That timeline means Vieux Carré is both a young and old play, and it's hard to say what influenced what. Beautiful, brutish neighbour Tye McCool, for example, is both a prototype for Streetcar's Stanley Kowalski and a second-rate copy of him.

Along with Williams's stand-in The Writer and Tye, the boarding house at 722 Rue Toulouse is home to: Nightingale, a hedonistic painter dying of tuberculosis; Mrs. Wire, a loopy landlady whose approach to quieting downstairs tenants is to pour boiling water through the floor; and Jane Sparks, a fashion designer from respectable stock who has fallen - in love, and in life - for the drugged-up delinquent Tye. ("I'm afraid pride's an easy thing to go past sometimes," she tells the landlady.)

Director Elizabeth LeCompte's production strips the character-rich, but plot-poor play out of its period; the action takes place on a pair of high-tech moving platforms surrounded by screens both facing away and towards the audience. The actors take many of their physical cues from the footage shown on these monitors, much of which, I gather, is from the 1970s films of Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol and contemporary video artist Ryan Trecartin.

In addition to mimicking the movement they see on the screens, the actors receive a steady stream of audio fed to them through earpieces.

All the while, of course, they are actually acting the play. Indeed, it's somewhat astonishing that the show manages to come out at all coherently and, at times, affectingly through the chaos.

Particularly effective is Scott Shepherd as both the flamboyant, phallus-clad Nightingale and the hypermasculine Tye. (In the scene where Nightingale molests Tye in his sleep, a body double enters the stage.)

On one level, the Wooster Group's approach to the material seems simply a fancy way of showing off by rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same. From an aesthetic point of view, however, I found the unorthodox process informed the play in surprising ways that that emphasized the fragility of our remembrances of things past in the era of the online taunt: "Pics or it didn't happen."

For instance, after The Writer - a sensitive, if occasionally panicked Ari Fliakos - recollects the night he lost his virginity to a paratrooper and innocently declared his love for him, a live feed of the actor's image is superimposed on sepia-tinged, slow-mo gay porn on a screen in the back.

The effect of this ghostly fellatio is more melancholy than titillating. It makes The Writer's sense of loss connect a very contemporary way - in a time when you might not just recall an ex-lover by conjuring his body in your mind, but by watching your old sex videos on your iPad. Well, that's what I got anyway.

Other aspects of LeCompte's staging criticize Williams's text instead of refreshing it. Played by the striking Kanesa Schaal, Nursie, an African-American maid, speaks in a valley-girl accent and her face is replaced with a racist cartoon every time she steps behind a video screen. Okay, sure, why not?

With this appearance as part of Harbourfront Centre's World Stage season, the members of the Wooster Group are making their stop in Canada for the first time in over a decade. It seems there's more to their reputation than movie-star alumni and past glories. Audiences who enjoy experimentalism should be over the moon.

Wooster Group's Version of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carré runs until March 31.

The Wooster Group's Version of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carré

Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte
Starring Ari Fliakos, Scott Shepherd, Kate Valk
At Fleck Dance Theatre in Toronto
4 stars

Factory Theatre, Acting Up Stage Announce Their New Seasons

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 03, 2012) Two of Toronto’s leading theatre companies announced their 2012-13 seasons on Monday, with both Factory Theatre and Acting Up Stage offering strong programming for the year ahead.

Ken Gass at Factory has put together a bill of plays featuring some of the country’s best writers, including George F. Walker, Judith Thompson and Michel Marc Bouchard.

Walker is offering the Canadian premiere of Dead Metaphor, the blackly comic saga of a sniper returned from Afghanistan, looking for work back home. Thompson’s Watching Glory Die is a world premiere in which she will also star, about three women bound by a tragic death. And Bouchard’s Tom and the Coyote is the story of how a family scene of mourning becomes a battleground of emotions.

The season will also feature the world premiere of Every LetterCounts, by Nina Lee Aquino, the biography of her uncle, Benigno Aquino, Filipino cultural and political icon.

On a lighter note, Factory unites with Acting Up Stage to present the East Coast premiere of Do You Want What I Have Got? A CraigslistCantata, by popular CBC personality Bill Richardson and Veda Hille. A huge hit in its premiere earlier this year in Vancouver, it’s a song cycle dealing with “our needs, wants and what we share online.”

The other major work in Acting Up Stage’s season will be the first Toronto production in 18 years of William Finn’s epic work Falsettos, two one-act musicals written a decade apart that, when united, tell the story of how AIDS destroyed the lives of so many individuals and families.

The production will be presented at the new Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre, which is scheduled to open this fall.

Mitchell Marcus, artistic director of Acting Up Stage, also announced the development of their first new work: Alexandria, with book and lyrics by Andrew Kushnir and music by Reza Jacobs. It’s described as the story of “two casualties of the information age,” a librarian whose non-digital job is now outdated and a young man who is involved in a potentially life-threatening online forum.

Alexandria will receive a reading in the summer of 2012, with a workshop in the fall and a possible production in the future.

Neil Patrick Harris Returning To Host The Tony Awards

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(Apr 03, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Neil Patrick Harris will be back for his third turn hosting the Tony Awards.

Producers of the show announced Tuesday that the star of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother and a stage veteran would be back at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre for the ceremony honouring Broadway’s best. It will be broadcast on CBS on June 10.

Harris hosted the Tonys last year and in 2009 — the same year he hosted the Emmy Awards. As he did in 2011, Harris will also serve as a producer.

In a statement, Harris said he was thrilled. “Not only will I be shining a spotlight on the best that Broadway has to offer, but hopefully I’ll score some free house seats to a show — or five!”

The 38-year-old Harris has starred in three Broadway productions, including Assassins, Proof, opposite Anne Heche, and as the exuberant master of ceremonies in Cabaret. He currently stars as dapper ladies’ man Barney Stinson on CBS’ sitcom hit How I Met Your Mother.

Last year’s Tony telecast was seen by 6.9 million viewers and posted a 9 per cent year-to-year gain in the ratings for the 18-to-49 demographic. The boost came even though it aired opposite Game six of the NBA Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks clinched the championship against the Miami Heat.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Apple's new iPad tops Consumer Report’s Ratings

Source: www.globeandmail.com

(Apr. 2, 2012) Apple’s AAPL-Q new iPad continues to win plaudits, with the device topping Consumer Reports’ tablet rating, thanks to its crisp performance and impressive high-resolution display.

Shrugging off recent concerns about the iPad’s heat generation, Consumer Reports described the tablet as “new benchmark in excellence, providing the best rendering of detail and colour accuracy we’ve ever seen on a tablet display.”

The influential research firm lauded the “remarkable fidelity” of the new iPad’s display, which helped the gadget achieve Consumer Reports’ highest ever score for colour accuracy on a tablet.

“Colors are more saturated than on the iPad 2, making deeper shades more vibrant,” it explained, in a statement. “And the new iPad’s screen lacks the slight bluish hue of the iPad 2’s screen, and has a warmer and more natural ‘colour temperature’ that becomes apparent when comparing white backgrounds displayed on the new and old iPads.”

Apple extended its retina display technology from the iPhone to the iPad with the launch of the new tablet. Retina display gives the new iPad four times the number of pixels of an iPad 2. Apple also increased the colour saturation on the next-generation iPad by 44 per cent.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant has enjoyed stellar demand for the latest iPad, selling more than 3 million of the devices during the first weekend of sales.

Consumer Reports also addressed the new iPad’s heat generation in its report. “Responding to consumer comments on the new device, and to coverage from other reviewers, we also carried out further tests that confirmed the new iPad is warmer in its hottest spots than the iPad 2,” it said. “But we didn’t find those temperatures to be cause for concern.”

The research firm also highlighted the new iPad’s 5-megapixel camera, fast 4G connectivity and battery life as positives. Like its predecessor, the new iPad offers up to 10 hours of battery life.

Other tablets rated in Consumer Reports included Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7, the Sony (SNE) Tablet P, the Toshiba Excite 10LE and the Pantech Element.

Another research report on the new, third-generation iPad, found that the tablet is proving more popular than its predecessor. User satisfaction with the new iPad is even higher than the iPad 2, according to ChangeWave Research, which surveyed 200 new owners between March 22 and 28. Some 82 per cent of new iPad owners say they are very satisfied with the device, compared to 74 per cent of iPad owners in a Feb. 2012 survey.

ChangeWave Research also surveyed new iPad owners about their favorite features on Apple’s latest tablet. The device’s high-resolution “retina” display was cited by 75 per cent of respondents as their favorite feature, way ahead of battery life, 4G LTE capability, and the device’s faster A5X processor.

Shares of Apple, which has recently been hitting new all-time highs, rose $11.86, or 1.98 per cent, to $611.41 shortly after market open on Monday.

Boss Battles Liven Up New Mario Party

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Chad Sapieha

(March 9, 2012) Mario Party returns this Sunday after an unanticipated five year hiatus.

Why so long between games? Judging by the series' steadily declining metacritic scores, Nintendo likely figured fans were getting a little tired of the same old formula. One also imagines the Japanese company's gamesmiths may have been suffering from designers' block, having dreamt up dozens of themed game boards and hundreds of mini-games while adhering to a tough one-game-per-year schedule from 1998 through 2007.

It should come as no surprise, then, that changes abound in Mario Party 9, a game that my nearly seven-year-old daughter and I have been playing just about non-stop after school the last few days.

Mario Party games of the past were essentially gussied up board games. Each player had his or her own token in the form of an iconic Nintendo avatar. We circled a game board several times via rolls of a die, passing and being passed by our opponents while landing on spaces that either improved or worsened our fortunes.

In contrast, the new game has players riding in a vehicle together, each taking the helm as captain during their turn. If you're captain of the car when you reach an event space - which might see you, say, salvaging loot from the bottom of the ocean by rolling three dice of different values to raise the treasure - you have the ability to orchestrate the event to your advantage by selecting player and die order.

The changes don't stop there. The board is no longer circular, but instead a long, linear path with several set events, like a cliff that players must jump together on the Toad Road board, and haunted paintings that release car-chasing ghosts on the Boo's Horror Castle board.

Plus, we no longer collect both the stars once necessary to the game and the coins used to purchase them, but instead a new currency dubbed "mini-stars." The player with the most mini-stars at the end of the game wins.

The upshot of all these changes is that much of the (sometimes frustrating and often unfair) chaos that marked previous Mario Party games is gone. It used to be that players commonly jumped from first to last and back again in the space of a single round of turns. That can still happen, but it's far less likely. There's no surprise switching of spots with other players just as they were about to collect a star, and no pilfering of stars already earned - or at least not quite on the same scale.

And the board's linearity means all players can anticipate which spaces and events are coming up next and attempt to plan accordingly. For example, special dice of varying values earned by landing on certain spaces can be used to make the vehicle hang back (so as to avoid detrimental spaces like purple ztars, which deduct from your mini-star total) or zoom ahead to get to beneficial spaces, such as a captain event, boss battle, or a cloud of mini-stars.

Unfortunately, this style of play also introduces a new problem. The only opponent you can properly imperil is the player immediately following your turn, which is a bummer if he or she is not the one with the most mini-stars. Still, the order of play is frequently altered, and you can bet that other players will do their best to sabotage the leader for you, given the opportunity.

The mini-games have a slightly different flavour, too. Boss battles are a particularly nice twist. They have players working together while simultaneously competing against each other. One battle has all players shooting cannon balls at a blooper boss to damage it while redirecting incoming fire toward fellow players.

There are also fewer of the franchise's overused last-man-standing-on-a-dangerous-platform games. These have been replaced with more original challenges, like tugging on vines to collect fruit and racing to find doors that lead to the bottom of a five-story haunted mansion.

But even with its many modifications Mario Party 9 is still very much a Mario Party game, all the way down to the way it cleverly levels the playing field for players of varying abilities. We can still handicap better gamers by giving less experienced players some extra mini-stars at the start of the game, and random bonuses awarded at the end of a match help keep hope alive for trailing players even after the final boss battle has concluded.

Most important, though, is that most of the mini-games are still of a kind that ensures younger children have a chance to perform as well as older family members. My daughter knows if I let her win a game, and the genuine glee she experiences when she takes first place fair and square is a delight to behold.

I don't think Mario Party 9 shakes things up enough to win back folks still exhausted by previous entries, and it isn't essential in the way many games headlined by Nintendo's red-capped superstar tend to be. However, it's a fine entertainment for families who want to play together.

It's also likely the final Wii game in which Mario and friends will appear (remember: the Wii U arrives this fall). That alone may be enough to send the Japanese company's loyalists flocking to their local game shop this Sunday.

Mario Party 9
Platform: Wii
Developer: ND Cube
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: March 11, 2012
ESRB: Everyone
Score: 7.5/10

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Travel Bargains: As Our Winter Wanes, Deals Heat Up For Tropical Vacation Spots

Source: www.thestar.com - Arthur Frommer

(Mar. 26, 2012) May is a fine month for vacationing in the tropics (in both the Caribbean and Central America), with rates sharply down from their winter levels. To all other destinations, airfares are high, but the opportunities are many to reduce accommodation costs and thus bring the overall vacation expense down to a reasonable level.

I start by describing sources for obtaining good-quality, low-cost apartments in Europe and Asia, and then go on to the standard air-and-land packages available in May from Toronto.

1. Spacious Apartments in major cities for less than you’d spend for a hotel room: Provided that your stay is for at least a week, you will find that housekeeping apartments are available in major international cities for less than the cost of an equivalent hotel, and in a more spacious setting equipped with a kitchen for making occasional meals. Several local real estate brokers supply such accommodations (look them up in search engines), and six major websites provide reliable and cost-saving apartments in all major cities: Wimdu.com, Airbnb.com, Homeaway.com, VRBO.com, EVRentals.com and Rentalo.com. The continuing rise of international airfares now requires that cost-conscious travellers offset that transportation cost with less-expensive apartment accommodations, whose value is enhanced by the opportunity to prepare some of your own meals. Apartment accommodations are often a major travel bargain.

2. Rock-bottom-priced Cuba, from Toronto: $655 to $675 per person, and yet at popular Varadero Beach in the month of May, including round-trip airfare (and all fees and taxes) between Toronto and Varadero, and seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, all meals, all drinks) at the three-star, 248-room, Islazul Villa La Mar, candidly described by the tour operator as “a basic hotel for the budget-minded traveler.” It is located across the street from Varadero Beach. Departures are on Fridays, May 11 and 18, at the above prices, and for slightly more on Fridays May 4 ($745 per person) and May 25 ($785 per person). This package, operated by Sunwing of Canada, probably is the lowest-price, all-inclusive, air-and-land trip of seven nights to Cuba. Air transportation is by Sunwing Airlines, and the tour operator is Sunwing of Canada, reached at sunwing.ca or by phoning 416-620-5999 or 800-668-4224.

3. Budget-priced Cancun from Toronto: $931 to $991, in three scattered weeks of May, per person, including round-trip air (and all fees and taxes) to Cancun on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, meals, drinks) at the beachfront (it has two beaches, actually) Celuisma Dos Playas hotel, a budget property but comfortable and well-maintained. Departures from Toronto cost $931 for the Saturday departure of May 26, $981 on Saturday, May 5, and $991 on Saturday, May 12. The Saturday departure of May 19 is too high for our budget standards. Although a charge in the mid-$900s may not seem of budget level, prices in Cancun have risen greatly for the spring months, and even $931 is $100 to $200 less than you would pay for an air-and-land package using most other resorts in Cancun’s hotel zone (where Celuisma Dos Playas is found). The tour operator is Sunquest Vacations ( www.sunquestvacations.ca), phone 877-202-1600 or 800-387-8438) using the airline of Thomas Cook of Canada.

4. Standard Cuba (Varadero Beach) from Toronto: $865 to $955, in May, per person, a package consisting of round-trip air from Toronto, and including accommodations for seven nights, three meals daily and unlimited drinks, at the long-established Be Live Turquesa (which was formerly the Oasis Turquesa) on a long and wide beach off crystal-clear waters. A hotel smaller than most (268 rooms) but with many amenities, and a location only 8 km from downtown Varadero, the Be Live Turquesa is a key player in air-and-land packages, costing $865 per person for the departure of Saturday, May 12; $925 for the departures of Saturday May 5 and May 19; and $955 for the departure of Saturday May 26. Contact Sunwing Vacations.

5. Upscale Cuba, in May: $911 to $960 per person. A special promotion of Air Canada Vacations places you for seven nights of accommodations, all meals and beverages, at the glamorous, five-star Melia Las Dunas Resort, with its six restaurants, two cafeterias, five bars and a breathtaking beach near Santa Clara, Cuba. Normally too expensive a hotel to be the subject of a bargain-priced package, this one is priced at $911 per person (including all taxes and fees) for the departures of May 12 and 19; at $916 for the departure of May 26; and at $960 for the departure of May 5 — all remarkable rates for quality of this level. Contact Air Canada Vacations at www.aircanadavacations.com or phone 866-529-2079.

6. The Riviera Maya (South of Cancun, Mexico): in three weeks of May, for $892 to $922 per person, including round-trip air (and all government fees and taxes) to Cancun. The total price is a low $892 for the departures of Tuesday, May 9 and Friday, May 11; and $922 for the departure of May 25. Departures to resorts of the Riviera Maya are considerably more expensive on most other days of the week. Participants, in addition to air, receive seven all-inclusive nights (with three meals daily and unlimited drinks) at the four-star, 480-room Viva Wyndham Maya resort in the popular Playacar area south of Cancun. The tour operator is Sunwing of Canada, flying Sunwing Airlines. (In addition to every amenity, the Viva Wyndham Maya is on a particularly pleasant white-sand beach.)

7. Budget-priced Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic), in May: $895 to $995 per person, including round-trip air from Toronto (and all government fees and taxes) on Sunwing Airlines, on the following scattered departures: Sunday, May 6 for $895, Wednesday, May 30 for $925, Tuesday, May 15 for $975, and Tuesday, May 22 for $995. Packages also include seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the 170-room Celuisma Cabarete (with four restaurants and two pools), which accepts adults only (over the age of 18). Contact Sunwing Vacations.

8. A second, budget-priced package to Puerto Plata with May departures: $996 per person including round-trip air from Toronto (and all government fees and taxes), departing on Fridays and Saturdays: Friday May 4 and May 11, Saturday May 19 and May 26, always at the same price of $996 for round-trip airfare, including all taxes and fees from Toronto and seven all-inclusive nights (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the large and sprawling beachside Barcelo Puerto Plata, with its two swimming pools, eight restaurants (including Brazilian, Asian, Mexican and Italian varieties, in addition to its standard continental restaurants), as well as round-trip airport-to-hotel transfers. Tour operator is Air Canada Vacations.

9. London in May: Air and six hotel nights in London for $1,417 to $1,521 per person, including round-trip air on Air Canada and all government fees and taxes. Departing on Saturdays throughout May, Air Canada Vacations will fly you round-trip to the British capital and put you up for six nights at the centrally located (an easy walk from the British Museum, a longer but moderate walk from the theatre district) Hotel Royal National, a giant hotel of hundreds of small but comfortable rooms near Russell Square, including breakfast each morning, all for the price of $1,417 for the departure of May 5; $1,466 for the departure of May 26; $1,480 for the departure of May 18; and $1,521 for the departure of May 12 (including all government fees and taxes and fuel surcharge). Considering the high taxes and fees on trans-Atlantic flights to London, and the high cost of London hotels at that time, this is an unusual value costing less than on most other departure dates in early spring. Go to AirCanadaVacations.com or phone 866-529-2079.

10. An upscale one-week vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, throughout May: $1,202 to $1,528 per person, including round-trip air transportation on Air Canada (with all government fees and taxes included) and seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (junior suite, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the 865-room Occidental Grand Punta Cana Resort, with its nine themed restaurants and three swimming pools, all on a 700-metre-long beach. A total of $1,202 per person, including all taxes and fees, is charged for the Sunday departures of May 6 and May 13, while $1,528 is charged for the Sunday departures of May 20 and May 27. Contact Air Canada Vacations.

11. Costa Rica independently throughout late April and May 2012: $1,019 for 10 nights in Costa Rica (not including airfare), travelling by Adventure Bus from place to place. An immensely popular, free-spirited approach to touring Costa Rica, as packaged by Toronto’s G Adventures (GAdventures.com, 888-800-4100), these well-priced arrangements place you for one hotel night in the capital city of San Jose, three nights in Cahuita on the country’s Caribbean coast, two nights near the Arenal Volcano, three nights in Guanacaste on the Pacific coast, and one remaining night back in San Jose. Meals other than breakfast are not included (you are advised to budget $315-$415 for your meals); and the price of $1,019 is per person for each of two people traveling together (single people traveling alone pay $1,619) and for daily departures in late April and throughout the month of May. In the G Adventures website or catalog, look for “Costa Rica Pass — Route 5 Adventure Bus.”

12. Escorted Costa Rica in May of 2012: $1,095 per person. On weekly departures May 4, 11, 18 and 25, the long-established Caravan Tours will take you by escorted motorcoach on a 10-night tour of every important sight of Costa Rica, for a total of $1,095, including quality accommodations, three meals daily, daily escorted sightseeing and entrance fees. Airfare to Costa Rica, for which you make your own arrangements, is not included. Go to Caravan.com or phone 800-CARAVAN.

13. Orlando for seven nights, in May 2012: $574 to $668 per person for round-trip airfare from Toronto on Westjet Airlines (including all government taxes and fees) and seven nights of accommodations (but without meals) in Orlando, for as little as $574 (including all government taxes and fees) per person at the Seralago Maingate East for the Saturday departure from Toronto on May 26. Prices are only slightly higher for the departures of Saturday, May 12 ($616 per person) and May 19 ($668 per person). The rate spikes to $700 per person for the departure of May 5. You’ll enjoy free shuttle transportation to the Orlando theme parks — and on Westjet, you can check your first suitcase for free. Note that the Seralago has two swimming pools, a kids’ pool, tennis court and several other amenities, making of this package one of travel’s great values. Contact WestJetVacations.com or phone 877-733-9724.

14. Cruises of the Mediterranean for $88 to $120 a day, in May 2012: Go to VacationsToGo.com, click on “Mediterranean,” then on “7-night and 9- to 11-night cruises,” and you’ll discover that cruise prices for those European waters have sharply fallen because of inadequate demand. The main reason? High airfares across the Atlantic, the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy, and a lingering belief that recent violence in the Middle East has made such cruises dangerous, which is not the case. Cruise prices in the Mediterranean in spring are among the great bargains of travel, and are particularly attractive on cruises of nine and 11 nights’ duration, when prices can be as low as $799 for a nine-night cruise ($88 a day) and $999 for a 10-night cruise ($99 a day). Minimum prices are somewhat higher on seven-night cruises, when they can be found for as little as $799 ($114 a day) or $849 ($120 a day). Note, of course, that you’ll need to pay at least $1,300 (including taxes, fees and fuel surcharge) for a round-trip, trans-Atlantic flight to the port of embarkation.

15. China — four cities in eight nights: $2,299 in May, per person, including round-trip air from San Francisco to Beijing and Shanghai (and all government fees and taxes), hotel accommodations with three meals daily (except on one “free day” in Shanghai), and daily escorted sightseeing including all entrance fees, for departures on May 8, 15 and 22 (for $2,299 per person) and on May 29 (for $2,499 per person). Reflecting the steady appreciation in value of the Chinese Yuan, this signature tour of China Focus Travel ( www.chinafocustravel.com, phone 800-868-7244) has risen considerably in price since the winter, but still is a remarkable value. It places you for two nights in Shanghai, three nights in Tai’ An (to which you’re brought by bullet train from Shanghai, a 690-kilometre trip accomplished by train in three hours), and three nights in Beijing. You also visit a fourth city, Suzhou (the so-called Venice of the Orient), but do not stay overnight there.

NOTE: The prices cited are per person for each of two people traveling together, and do not include government taxes and fees (unless those taxes and fees are specifically listed as included). Airfare is often included in the price, but only when specifically mentioned. Prices are subject to change, and new listings will periodically be substituted for those that are no longer valid.

TRAVEL TIDBITS

Enjoy Jazz For Less In Saint Lucia

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Patrick Dineen


(Apr. 2, 2012) Bay Gardens Hotel and Bay Gardens Inn are offering a Saint Lucia Jazz Festival package with up to 30 per cent off regular room rates. Packages start at $799 a couple for a five-night stay and are available for travel from April 31 to May 13 and include daily buffet breakfast, dinner at Trios Caribbean Fusion Restaurant, transfers to Pigeon Island for performances and a jazz festival souvenir. Jazz festival tickets are extra. Performing this year are Keri Hilson, Ziggy Marley, Gypsy Kings and Lionel Ritchie. For more information, visit baygardensresorts.com.

Hop To It And Get A Sweet Easter Deal At Porter

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Patrick Dineen

(Apr. 3, 2012) Porter Airlines is in the midst a seat sale with 50 per cent savings off base fares if you book by April 5 and travel by Sept. 4. Return fares from Toronto, including all taxes and fees, range from $246 to Ottawa, Sudbury and Windsor, to $338 to Boston, Chicago and New York. Montreal fares start at $248 and flights to St. John’s start at $430. The airline begins serving Washington Dulles April 16 with return fares of $312. To book, visit flyporter.com, call 1-888-619-8622 or see a travel agent.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Canada Wins Twice To Stay Unbeaten At World Men’s Curling Championship

Source: www.thestar.com - Gregory Strong

(Apr 03, 2012) BASEL, SWITZERLAND—Canada’s Glenn Howard has won in blowout fashion and had a few close calls at the world men’s curling championship.

He has come through every time and remains a favourite to play for his fourth career world title on the weekend.

Howard preserved his unbeaten record Tuesday by winning a 7-6 nailbiter over Switzerland before posting an 8-5 victory over Denmark. Both opponents are playoff longshots, but still gave Howard a stiff challenge ahead of upcoming games against powerhouses Sweden and Scotland.

The three-time world champion said the quality of opposition is so high that every game is a real test.

“When other teams play well, you can only do so much,” he said. “Everybody keeps thinking you’re supposed to blow people out. You can’t — if the other team makes a lot of shots, that’s the way it works.

“The bottom line is, you just try to make one more than the next guy and get those wins.”

Entering with a 1-4 record, Switzerland’s Benoit Schwarz had nothing to lose against Howard. The 20-year-old vice-skip played like it and came tantalizingly close to an upset.

Fuelled by a vocal contingent of about 1,000 local supporters at St. Jakobshalle, the host team forced an extra end before Howard won it with a final draw to the button.

Howard shot just 74 per cent, but teammates Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill each shot over 95 per cent.

“That’s always been the key to our success,” Howard said. “I really believe that. Very rarely will we ever have two guys falter.”

The Canadian rink then defeated Rasmus Stjerne of Denmark to improve to 7-0.

Schwarz, who threw fourth stones after Swiss skip Jan Hauser, said it was quite intimidating to play one of the sport’s all-time greats.

“I tried not to think about it,” he said. “That almost worked.”

A matchup that looked like a gimme for Canada turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the tournament.

The young Swiss side almost pulled out a win in the 10th end when a triple takeout nearly scored two. The single point tied it, but Howard used the hammer to his advantage in the extra end.

“I thought we outcurled them the whole game, but still I missed a couple of key ones and they made some great ones coming home,” Howard said. “It ended up being a good, good finish.

“Fortunately we had last rock in the extra end and we capitalized.”

The daunting task of facing the veteran Canadian rink didn’t seem to faze Schwarz. The slight youngster, who won world junior gold in 2010, was remarkably composed throughout. If a shot didn’t go his way, he’d simply flip his shaggy mop of dark hair to the side and carry on.

Even the prospect of a game-ending time-clock violation didn’t ruffle him. Schwarz was surveying the house before his final shot of the 10th end when his teammates frantically shouted at him to return to the other end of the sheet. He had a scant 25 seconds to get down the ice, grab the stone and throw one of the biggest shots of his life.

A teammate furiously cleaned the rock while Schwarz raced to the hack. With the fans on edge, Schwarz took one last glance, got in position and released the stone with exactly three seconds left.

He went for the victory and came about an inch away from getting it.

“They called the style of game that they had nothing to lose,” Howard said. “Very aggressive and I didn’t see that coming.”

Switzerland took advantage of a poor Howard draw in the fourth end to score a pair and added a single in the eighth for a 5-4 lead. Canada fought back with two points in the ninth end before the late drama.

“To lose by 10 points or in an extra end is the same,” Schwarz said. “So for sure, we’re a bit disappointed.”

Canada moved into sole possession of first place on a day when two of the contenders suffered losses. The United States crushed previously unbeaten Sweden 10-1 and France upset Scotland 5-3.

But Scotland rallied to edge China 7-6 in 10 ends in the late draw to create a three-way tie for second with a 5-2 record. The Chinese and Sweden also have five wins, with the Swedes having lost two straight after dropping an 8-3 decision to Norway in late action.

Norway and New Zealand are tied for fifth with 4-3 records.

Round-robin play continues through Thursday night. The medal games are Sunday.

There were pockets of flag-waving Canadian fans throughout the 9,000-seat venue. A group of beaming Howard family members and friends let out a cheer from the top of the grandstand after the victories.

Howard scored two points in the ninth end against Denmark and won it with a single in the 10th. His shooting improved to 86 per cent in the afternoon game, a significant jump from his Switzerland percentage.

“I wasn’t sharp today. I was a little fatigued,” Howard said of his early effort. “I don’t know if the jet lag was getting to me or not. The best news is, my guys made everything in front of me.

“They didn’t waver and fortunately I made my last one, but the Swiss boys played really well.”

Canada shot 91 per cent as a team to 80 per cent for Switzerland.

“I think every team can beat every other team,” Schwarz said. “For sure, there are some favourites like Sweden, Canada and Scotland. But in the end, in one game anything can happen.”

Toronto Raptor Gary Forbes Refuses To Let Diabetes Ruin His Dream

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(Apr 01, 2012) Forever it will be a companion but not a crutch, a daily reminder of the frailties of the human body but not something that should stop a man from pursuing his dream.

Five times a day,
Gary Forbes takes a tiny needle and plunges it into his body; every day he goes out and pushes himself to the limits of his endurance against some of the greatest athletes in the world, oblivious to the illness, the injections, the routine that is little more than, well, routine.

Forbes, an emerging late-season key piece with the Raptors, is a Type 1 diabetic, the injections are insulin, the monitoring of his condition is practically constant but a nuisance more than anything.

“It’s a manageable disease,” the 26-year-old Forbes said. “I’ve had it now for eight years, went through different ups and downs and learning and stuff like that but I’m still coming out here every day and competing with the best players in the world.”

Forbes has become a tireless worker for diabetes awareness and promoting the idea that it’s not an impediment to athletic excellence. Forget looking at his 6-foot-7, 220-pound body to see the evidence — he’s taking his message as public as he can.

He runs a camp for kids in his hometown that promotes diet and lifestyle as much as basketball; he works with the tireless Raptors community relations staff and the Canadian Diabetes Association, spreading the word.

Forbes knows firsthand how relatively easy it is to deal with diabetes, but he feels it’s part of his job to get the message out.

“It’s a large, large issue, especially in the New York, the city where I’m from. The Latino community and African-American community are at risk from different factors, whether it’s nutrition-wise or the family-based things.

“I’ve been trying to do a lot about educating kids and families about healthy eating and things like that to stay away from this.”

The Raptors medical staff offers support any way it can for Forbes, who joined the team as a free agent at the start of the season.

There are glucose tablets and candy available if necessary; so far nothing’s been needed and there’s no suggestion it ever will be.

“It’s a lifestyle for him, he takes care of it himself,” said Scott McCulloch, the team’s head athletic trainer. “I have stuff available just in case and I carry stuff in my kit for emergency purposes but this is something he has monitored his whole life and something he’ll have to monitor when he’s done his career.

“It’s one of the things where he has to be responsible for himself. We’re here as a medical staff to help him in any way we can if there are any issues but it’s his responsibility.”

Diabetics are rare in the NBA but not in professional sports.

Pitcher Brandon Morrow of the Blue Jays deals with it; the highest-profile basketball player of late was former first-round draft pick Adam Morrison. Golfer Scott Verplank, NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, former NBAer Chris Dudley — there is a long list of diabetic athletes, many of whom are like Forbes, constantly aware of the need to test glucose levels but able to play to the best of their abilities.

That’s the message Forbes wants to get out, loudly.

“I met a kid the other day, I told him, ‘You can do anything, don’t let this be a crutch, don’t let this hold you back, it’s manageable,’” he said. “My nephew actually has it and he’s out there playing flag football and enjoying life.”

The family aspect of Forbes’s condition cannot be understated. His father, Roberto, has diabetes; his grandfather, Winston, died of the disease. When he was first diagnosed (“I lost 20 pounds in one week, all different types of symptoms,” he said) it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on.

“Once they said it was a possibility of diabetes, I kind of knew I had it; I’ve always seen my father taking needles,” he said. “It’s hereditary; my father has helped me greatly, and every staff I’ve been with, the medical people, have helped me to manage it and learn about it and be able to do what I do.”

The managing part has become routine. The five injections a day, the checking of blood glucose levels before each game, at halftime of each game and after each game is something he does as a matter of course. He eats well, get his rest and if there’s one little issue, it comes with sticking himself with that needle. But, like dealing with diabetes itself, that’s become normal.

“I’m petrified, petrified of needles, so, so scared of needles,” he said. “I trust myself, I don’t trust doctors but it’s routine now. I don’t think about it; I could do it with my eyes closed.”

Not thinking about it, just as he doesn’t think about the condition.

Team Canada Starts World Hockey Recruiting Drive

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chris Johnston, The Canadian Press

(Apr. 2, 2012) The conversations will be a little different this time around.

Kevin Lowe has started making calls on behalf of
Hockey Canada, hoping to bring the best team possible to the IIHF World Hockey Championship next month. While that goal remains unchanged from previous years, the message being delivered along with the invitations is.

“Canada's reaching out to them this time,” Lowe, the Canadian GM, said in a recent interview. “Not only in preparation for Sochi, but we've got to have a good finish here for our placing (at the Olympics) in 2014.”

Canada sits fourth in the IIHF's world rankings after consecutive quarter-final exits at the world championship.

Another poor finish won't be tolerated. The world rankings in place at the end of this year's tournament will be used to determine everything from groupings to practice times to quality of dressing rooms at the upcoming Olympics.

Lowe and members of the management staff held a conference call Monday to discuss the available player pool and had a good idea what they were dealing with because 11 NHL teams had already been eliminated.

The need for a strong finish will be conveyed to invitees.

“We encourage the players, if we reach out to them, that they really give it strong consideration,” said Lowe.

After last year's 2-1 loss to Russia in the quarter-finals, Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson sounded off about a “few key players” who declined invitations to the event in Slovakia. Without naming names, he expressed frustration about the group of no-shows he felt owed something to the program.

In a bid to avoid a repeat of that situation, an emphasis has been placed on the tie between this year's world championship and the 2014 Olympics — providing an obvious carrot for players.

On Sunday night, Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf told the Orange County Register that both he and teammate Corey Perry were interested in attending. They were part of Canada's gold-medal win at the Vancouver Olympics.

Other possible world championship invites include Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos; Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes; New York Islanders forward John Tavares; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf; and Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, among others.

Of course, any of those players might be secretly nursing an injury or have another valid reason not to go. For example, Hockey Canada had its eye on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, but it was revealed Monday that he's suffering from headaches which could affect his availability.

Assembling big name talent is only part of the challenge.

Lowe has yet to name the coaching staff that will be tasked with bringing the group together. The organization has learned first-hand about the importance of peaking for the medal round, which features three straight must-win games.

“You have to have the team prepared for that single-game knockout,” said Lowe. “The team has played well and they just haven't got it done.”

Canada appeared in six of seven finals between 2003 and 2009, but hasn't won a gold medal since the 2007 tournament in Moscow.

This year's event will be split between Sweden and Finland, with Canada scheduled to play all of its games at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. It opens the tournament against Slovakia on May 4.

Lowe expects to build a strong team with golden aspirations.

“If you're a first-round casualty in the NHL or you don't make the playoffs, it's always disappointing,” said Lowe. “But you've got to think short of injury, that guys want to play hockey.”

Down And Out Maple Leafs Pin Hopes On Youth

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Mirtle

(Apr. 2, 2012) Another game, another injured veteran for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The casualty this time was Mikhail Grabovski, who suffered a deep cut to his leg late in Saturday's win and is day-to-day.

His replacement? Young Joe Colborne, he of only two points in his last 19 games in the minors, hardly the kind of production expected to earn a recall.

"Yeah, I was, actually," Colborne said when asked if he was surprised to get the call. "There are a lot of guys who are producing more on the score sheet than me."

Maybe so. But with three games left, the Leafs are hardly worried about icing a veteran-laden roster.

This last week of playing out the string is more about evaluation than anything, even with coach Randy Carlyle making noise on Monday about how important wins will be.

It's also about selling some hope, as one of the few things that has gone right organizationally under Leafs GM Brian Burke has been a slow and steady improvement in the minors.

After three wins over the weekend, the American Hockey League Toronto Marlies have more points than all but two other AHL teams. Meanwhile, the Leafs are looking much like the Toronto Maple Marlies, with no fewer than six players in the lineup who will be heading back to the AHL in time for the playoffs.

While Toronto lacks much high-end talent - due in large part to the Phil Kessel trade that shipped out three high picks in 2010 and 2011 - there's some depth there.

That's a welcome change from former GM John Ferguson's reign, when the AHL team was an afterthought and the likes of Justin Pogge and Jiri Tlusty were considered the organization's top prospects.

Now, even with their team in the league basement yet again, Burke and Co. can point to their youngsters like Jake Gardiner, Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri and Carter Ashton as signs of some modest progress.

(Recent research by hockey analyst Jonathan Willis suggests that since the 2004-05 lockout there's been a correlation between having a strong AHL team and NHL success two or three years down the road.)

Part of the problem with selling hope in Toronto, however, is that it often gets oversold, even to the point of being a detriment to the player. Joe Colborne's a good example.

A 6-foot-5, 21-year-old centre, Colborne's been hyped as a potential answer to the Leafs' woes down the middle since coming over in the Tomas Kaberle trade from the Boston Bruins midway through last season.

The reality is that the former first-round pick has laboured in the minors after a strong start, dropping essentially to third-line duties as the Marlies have made their playoff push.

On the season, Colborne has only 37 points in 60 games, a far cry from what an NHL-ready prospect would produce in the AHL at his age.

At best, that type of production would put him in line for a third or fourth-line role down the road, but with expectations being what they are - and this plum assignment in Tuesday's game in Buffalo - Colborne will be hailed by some as a solution to some of the uncomfortable questions facing Burke this off-season.

That said, there's no harm in a late-season call-up and a quick look under a new coach, especially when a loss is more beneficial than a win. So they'll let the kids play - right now for the Leafs and then in a week for the only Toronto team headed to the playoffs this season.

"I'm going to take this opportunity and run with it," Colborne said. "I'm looking forward to showing everyone what I can do."

"Coming up at this time of year isn't really all that auspicious of a time to come up," Scrivens said, becoming the first NHLer to use auspicious in a sentence. "You've just got to give it your best effort."

Kentucky Shuts Down Kansas For NCAA Basketball Title

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Eddie Pells, The Associated Press

(Apr 03, 2012) No matter where Anthony Davis and his buddies go to make their millions, their ol' Kentucky home will long remember this championship season.

The Wildcats hit the jackpot with their lottery picks Monday night, ignoring Davis' bad shooting night and parlaying a roster full of NBA talent into a 67-59 victory over Kansas for the team's eighth national title - and its first since 1998.

The one-and-oners did it in a wire-to-wire victory - a little dicey at the end - to cap a season in which anything less than bringing a title back to the Bluegrass State would have been a downer. They led coach John Calipari to his first title in four trips to the Final Four with three different schools.

"This is not about me. This is about these 13 players," Calipari said. "This is about the Big Blue Nation."

Doron Lamb, a sophomore with first-round-draft-pick possibilities, led the Wildcats (38-2) with 22 points, including back-to-back three-pointers that put them up by 16 with 10 minutes left.

The Jayhawks (32-7), kings of the comeback all season, fought to the finish and trimmed that deficit to five with 1:37 left. But Kentucky made five free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Davis' fellow lottery prospect, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, was another headliner, creating space for himself to score all 11 of his points in the first half.

Davis, meanwhile, might have had the most dominating six-point night in the history of college basketball, earning the nod as the most outstanding player. He finished with 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals - and made his only field goal with 5:13 left in the game. It was a surefire illustration of how the six-foot-10 freshman can exert his will on a game even on a rare night when the shot isn't falling.

"Well, it's not me, it's these guys behind me," Davis said after his 1-for-10 performance. "They led us this whole tournament. This whole game I was struggling offensively, and I told my team, every time down, you all score the ball; I'm just going to defend and rebound."

So much easier when you've got teammates like this. Davis is the likely first pick in the draft should he choose to come out, and Kidd-Gilchrist won't be far behind. Another first-round prospect, freshman Marquis Teague, had 14 points. And yet another, sophomore Terrence Jones, had nine points, seven rebounds and two of Kentucky's 11 blocked shots.

"We've got a lot of great players on this team,"' Teague said. "Other players stepped up and made plays. He had confidence in us to make plays and that's what we tried to do."

Kansas also has a lottery pick in AP All-American Thomas Robinson. But he was harassed all night by Davis and Jones and finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds on a 6-for-17 shooting night.

Canadian-American forward Kyle Wiltjer played for three minutes and missed his only shot attempt.

The Jayhawks won the "B" League this year, as Calipari avenged a final-game loss to Bill Self back in 2008 when Cal was coaching the Tigers. Not a bad season in Lawrence, though, considering where KU began.

Kansas lost four of its top five scorers off last year's roster. There were times early in the season when Self and his old buddy and mentor, Larry Brown, would stand around at practices and wonder if this was a team that could even make the tournament. It did. Won its eighth straight conference title, too.

None of this, however, was for the faint of heart. The Jayhawks trailed by double digits in three of their five tournament games leading to the final and played every game down to the wire. They fell behind by 18 late in the first half of this one and this time, there was no big comeback to be made; not against these guys.

"We came up short, but I don't think we lost. I think they just beat us," Self said.

Davis realized early this was no shoot-first night for him at the Superdome. Sporting his near-unibrow, which the UK Wildcat mascot also decided to paste on, he endured the worst shooting night of a short college career in which he makes 64 per cent. No big deal. He set the tone early on defence, swatting Robinson's shot twice, grabbing rebounds, making pretty bounce passes for assists.

Early in the second half, he made a steal that also could have been an assist, knocking the ball out of Robinson's hands and directly to Jones, who dunked for a 46-30 lead.

Then, finally. With 5:13 left in the game, he spotted up for a 15-foot jumper from the baseline that swished for a 59-44 lead, putting a dagger in one of Kansas' many comebacks.

"He was terrific," Self said. "The basket he made was one of the biggest baskets of the game."

The crowd, a little more full of Kentucky fans than Kansas, went crazy. If this guy only stays one year and only makes one shot, they're fine with that.

It's the new normal at Kentucky, where Adolph Rupp set a standard, Rick Pitino lived up to it for a while, then Calipari - hardly the buttoned-down type - was hired to bring back the glory.

He goes for the best player, no matter what their long-term goals.

Normally, the prospect of losing all those players in one swoop would have people thinking about a tough rebuilding year.

But Cal has mastered the art of rebuilding on the fly.

He's the coach who brings in the John Walls, Brandon Knights and Derrick Roses (at Memphis) for cups of coffee, lets them sharpen up their resumes, then happily says goodbye when it becomes obvious there's nothing left for them to do in school.

Last year, the formula resulted in a trip to the Final Four that ended with a crushing loss to Connecticut in the semifinals.

This year, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist came to Lexington with big-time bona-fides, and they didn't disappoint. Kentucky lost only twice all season - once on a buzzer-beater at Indiana, the second time last month in the SEC tournament title game to Vanderbilt.

The Vandy loss might have been, as Calipari put it, just what the doctor ordered for a team that could sometimes border on arrogance.

They rebounded nicely for the real tournament, and through it all, the coach refused to apologize for the way he recruits or how he runs his program. Just playing by the rules as they're set up, he says, even if he doesn't totally agree with them. Because he refuses to promise minutes or shots to any recruit and demands teamwork out of all of them, he says he comes by these players honestly.

He has produced nine first-round picks in the last four drafts with a few more coming. This latest group will have an NCAA title in tow and the everlasting love of a fan base that bleeds basketball.

"I don't know of any team that has sacrificed for each other like this team and they deserve this moment, they really do," Calipari said.

Venus Williams Advances At Family Circle Cup

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Bruce Smith, The Associated Press

(Apr 03, 2012) Venus Williams defeated qualifier Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3 Tuesday in the Family Circle Cup, her second tournament after a long layoff.

"This is great for me to be in another match and to be in the second round," said Williams, who has been idle most of the past seven months because of an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain. She was back in action last week in Miami and Tuesday was her first match on clay in months. "It was a good start," she said.

She said she takes a lot of ice baths and after she was eliminated in Miami she took three days off just to rest.

"For me it's just about having energy at this point. I try not to worry about tomorrow," although she said she is thinking about the Olympics and getting her ranking up.

"I'm very happy I'm on the right road, but I'm very unhappy I didn't do more" in Miami, she said. There she won three consecutive three-set matches to reach the quarterfinals, but lost 6-4, 6-1 to Agnieszka Radwanska.

"That's the past. There's so many opportunities going forward and I try to focus on the forward and focus on every day and today's win takes me closer," she said.

Tuesday's win was Williams' fourth straight against Benesova, who is ranked No. 44. Williams has won seven Grand Slam tournaments but is now ranked 87th after her time off the tour. She won the Family Circle Cup eight years ago and is unseeded this time.

One thing that seemed to be back to normal was Williams' serve. She notched six aces in the match and her first serve consistently topped 110 mph, one hitting 117.

Sister Serena is seeded fifth for this week's clay-court event in Charleston. She plays in Tuesday night's featured match against Elena Vesnina of Russia. The Williams sisters could meet in Saturday's semifinals.

Also Tuesday, 12th-seeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium defeated Vania King of the U.S. 6-4, 6-3.

Nadia Petrova, the No. 13 seed, defeated Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1,6-2, while Marina Erakovic of New Zealand defeated Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 62, 6-4. American Jill Craybas eliminated Akgul Amanmuradova 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) while Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Alexandra Panova 6-0, 6-4.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Brittney Griner, Baylor Lady Bears Wrap Historic 40-0 Season

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 04, 2012) *Brittney Griner again came up big for Baylor, scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to help the Lady Bears cap off an undefeated season with an 80-61 win over Notre Dame in the national championship game Tuesday night. Baylor became the first team in NCAA history (men’s or women’s) to win 40 games. Even more important to the Lady Bears, the team cut down the nets for the first time since 2005. For the Fighting Irish (35-4), a second straight trip to the title game ended in heartbreak. They lost 76-70 to Texas A&M last season. Odyssey Sims chipped in 19 for the Bears, while Destiny Williams added 12. All season long, both Baylor and Notre Dame have focused on the slogan “Unfinished Business.” Griner & Co. even have wristbands with the phrase on it. Coach Kim Mulkey said the team used the same motto the year the Lady Bears won their only championship. Baylor is the seventh women’s team to go through a season unbeaten, but the first in the NCAA-era to go 40-0.