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June 14, 2012

On this special
Father's Day weekend, I am celebrating and dedicating this week's edition to a friend (and father) who has made an impact on my life, Doran Major, who left this world this past Monday. Please take a minute to read my dedication to him, as well as full details on his funeral this Saturday. Let's celebrate this father together. See all details under SCOOP.

In this weeks news: inductees into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame; the Stanley Cup is won by the L.A. Kings; legendary In Living Color returns; the incomparable Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team and much more. Check it all out under TOP STORIES.

Click on your favourite subject under the TABLE OF CONTENTS and see the latest in news under your favourite subject.

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!


Doran Major Leaves a Legacy in Toronto's Entertainment District

Source: Dawn Langfield, Langfield Entertainment

On a sunny and warm Monday morning, June 11th, a dear friend, and mentor to many, Doran Major passed away.

He battled cancer for one year with a brave and very private fight. Doran didn't want the
sympathy or attention that comes with this type of illness. He was able to see some old friends, former teammates and family a couple of weeks ago and celebrate his life while he was still with us.

However, many of us are shocked by the sad news of his passing.

Memories of Jaguar, Muse Bistro, Studio 69 flood my mind as well as all the friends and relationships I've made as a result of knowing Doran (not Dorian, by the way - but he would rarely correct anyone on the pronunciation).

After playing with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL from 1983 to 1985, Doran had a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL before signing with the Toronto Argonauts in December of 1986.

A love affair with Toronto took hold.

From there Doran founded
Major League Sports & Entertainment, which was a fixture in Toronto’s entertainment scene in the ‘90s with Network, Jaguar, Studio 69 and Muse Bistro, to name a few. Partnering with Carlos Oberoi, Lloyd Exeter and Lebert Williams, Major League became synonymous with fusing celebrity with nightlife.

Long before many other's attempts at bringing and attracting celebrity to Toronto, especially in the Black entertainment community, Doran's long and nurtured relationships, his effortless way of putting celebrities at ease and his quest for excellence, provided a place for all to enjoy a good night out. Muse Bistro was the hub of the activity.

It was also the perfect spot for Torontonians to turn up and have an after-work meal and drink. The food, ambience and clientele filled a niche that has yet to be outdone. On any given night you could see your favourite athlete, actor or artist of all ethnicities who frequented Muse for dinner and drinks and who were loyal patrons. Regardless, the place would always be jumping!


Fallen Ski Champ Sarah Burke To Enter Canadian Olympic Hall Of Fame

Source: www.cnn.com – Jason Hanna

(June 12, 2012) Canadian freestyle skier
Sarah Burke never did reach the Olympics. But her efforts to get her event into the games before dying in a training accident this year have helped her achieve a high honour from her country’s Olympic committee.

Burke will be inducted into the
Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in September, the Canadian Olympic Committee said Tuesday.

Burke, a pioneer of freestyle skiing and a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, was a major force in getting the ski half pipe event added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, both the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and the COC have said.

She was considered a medal contender for the event’s 2014 Olympic debut. But she died at age 29 on January 19, days after falling and rupturing a vertebral artery during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe in Utah.

In a statement released by the COC, Burke’s mother, Jan Phelan, said that “Sarah was one of those extraordinary women who believed that anything was possible.”

“I think that her belief not only helped her succeed, but inspired others to be the best they could be. I know that Sarah would be happy that all she worked for and sought to achieve is being honoured with her induction into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame,” Phelan said.

Besides her Winter X Games exploits, the Ontario native and British Columbia resident won gold at the 2005
World Championships in Finland and received ESPN’s best female action sports athlete award in 2007. She also was the first woman to land a 1080-degree spin in competition.

Joining Burke on September’s inductee list are the
2010 Canadian men’s hockey team and the 2006 Canadian women’s hockey team, both of which won gold. The inductees also will include Daniel Igali, a 2000 gold medalist in freestyle wrestling; Beckie Scott, a gold and silver medalist in cross country skiing; Jean-Luc Brassard, a 1994 gold medalist in freestyle skiing; and Julie Sauve, Canada’s longtime synchronized swimming coach.

The induction ceremony will take place September 21 at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

L.A. Kings’ Stanley Cup Win Makes ‘20 Million Dreams’ Come True

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Eric Duhatschek

(June 12, 2012) In the grand Hollywood tradition of the overnight sensation, the Los Angeles Kings spent the better part of two months playing the part of the ingénue, perched on the soda fountain stool at Schwab’s, waiting to be discovered.

The Kings are a hockey team, or, more precisely, an ice-hockey team, which is how they are still occasionally referred to in these parts.

Maybe that will change now.

Some 45 years after Jack Kent Cooke, a Canadian publishing scion, paid $2 million to place an NHL expansion team in the City of Angels, the Kings won the first
Stanley Cup in franchise history on Monday night, defeating the New Jersey Devils 6-1 to win the best-of-seven series 4-2.

Los Angeles came close to winning a championship once before – in 1993, during the Wayne Gretzky era, with a team that oozed star power, and perfectly fit the local sensibilities.

The 2012 edition of the Kings was a different and far more anonymous group, led by the NHL’s one-and-only
Slovenian star, Anze Kopitar; and coached by Darryl Sutter, who had previously led the Calgary Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup final, but had been out of hockey for more than a year when he got the call as a mid-season replacement.

Twenty years earlier, Sutter had received his first head coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks. Now, he was hoisting the Cup for the first time in his life, after just missing out with the Calgary Flames in 2004.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Sutter. “Obviously when you have a three- or four-goal lead with five minutes left, you know what these guys are capable of doing. Then you start seeing it on the bench. It’s the feeling of seeing them so happy, the work that you go through.

“The first thing you think about as a coach, these guys are all young enough, they’ve got to try it again.”

Their goaltender and most valuable player was an American, Jonathan Quick, the latest in a long line of quirky personalities to play the position, a player so deliberately bland that he makes the Tim Robbins’ character in Bull Durham seem like a charismatic Magic Johnson. Quick sat at the podium, after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, with his daughter Madison in his lap.

Quick kept the Kings in the playoff race with an exceptional regular season that earned him a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, as the NHL’s top goaltender. Without him, they might have missed the playoffs altogether. The Kings were 12th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference when Sutter took over from Terry Murray as the Kings’ coach.

However, Quick said there was no panic, even when the club was adrift earlier in the year.

“You know what, it was December,” said Quick. “There’s four months left in the season. I think everybody in the locker room knew what kind of players we had in there.

“At our lowest moments, I think the biggest thing is nobody ever turned on someone else. Everybody stuck with it. Go through five-, six-game losing streaks, whatever it was, and guys are still encouraging, still competing in practice.

“You just can’t say enough about resiliency that it took to get through those times during the season and still make the playoffs.”

No team lower than a fifth seed had ever won the Stanley Cup since the current playoff format was introduced in 1994. In October, Las Vegas oddsmakers actually thought highly of their chances that they were installed as a modest 14-medium shot, and the fourth choice in the Western Conference. But the Kings quickly fell into a win-one, lose-one pattern that in December, general manager Dean Lombardi replaced coach Terry Murray with Sutter, with whom he’d had a previous association when both worked for the San Jose Sharks.

It was 28 years between Stanley Cup championships for the Sutter family, or back to 1984 when his brother Duane won for the fourth time and Brent for the second with the New York Islanders.

“Dog and Brent got their name on it six times,” said Sutter. “I wish each one of my brothers could have been on there. Take a run at it again, that’s the next thing.”

Sutter, from one of Canada’s first families on hockey, installed a more aggressive fore-checking system which permitted the Kings, one of the most physically intimidating teams in the league, to take full advantage of their size. Eventually, Lombardi tweaked his roster to promote two more hulking wingers from the minors, Jordan Nolan and Dwight King, and then capped off his in-season remake with a major deal at the NHL trading deadline, adding Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the final month of the season, the Kings started to score, on average, about one more goal per game. Combined with their already stingy defence, they finished on a 9-2-3 run in the final 14 games and were seen as an intriguing dark horse heading into the playoffs.

The Kings raced out to 3-0 leads in all four of their best-of-seven series, something that had never happened before in NHL history. They also went 10-0 on the road in the playoffs, another record, before losing last Saturday night in Newark to the Devils. In doing so, they became the first team to win on home ice since the 2007 Anaheim Ducks, a team that included Kings’ forward Dustin Penner, who now has two championships to his credit.

“It’s one of those things you dream all your life for as a player,” said Kings team captain Dustin Brown. “The city of Los Angeles has been dreaming of this for 45 years.

“There were about 20 million dreams coming true tonight.”

EUR Perspective: The Color Returns

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 12, 2012) *We’ve got some good news for fans of sketch comedy – the great “In Living Color” is coming back to Fox this fall, shepherded once again by Keenan Ivory Wayans.

There couldn’t possibly be a better time for a new incarnation of this show; with Saturday Night Live suffering through another down year and losing most of its talent to the movie industry, the time is right for a new, fresh sketch comedy show.

Here’s hoping the new “In Living Color” can fill that void, just as it did during the show’s first run in the early 1990s. We forget how revolutionary that show was over its too-brief run, introducing the world to comedic talents like Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Damon Wayans – talents on the level of anything “Saturday Night Live” ever produced.

So, before the new “In Living Color” comes on the air, we remember the first version with our picks for the greatest “Color” sketches of all time:

· Damon Wayans as Richard Pryor – In Living Color’s most hilarious moment from one of its most talented performers, as Damon Wayans perfectly captures Richard Pryor’s scaredy-cat film career mannerisms in this “Scared for no Reason” sketch. Impersonation doesn’t get any better than this.

· Jim Carrey as Vanilla Ice – Carrey helped to push the stake into the heart of Ice’s short lived career with this over-the-top image parody. His unparalleled gift for physical comedy – the kicked shoe, the I’m-a-little-teapot dance move – portrayed Ice as the joke that he was.

· Karate instructor – Pure, goofy, bloody fun in this sketch, as Jim Carrey’s arrogant karate instructor proves to be absolutely terrible at his job.

· Keenan Ivory Wayans as Arsenio Hall – Keenan’s uncanny imitation of Arsenio viciously captured and exaggerated all of the traits that made the talk show host into a shooting star that flamed out as quickly as he rose – from the name-dropping good-buddy manner of his interviews to the oversized index finger and posterior.

· Homey D. Clown – The funniest recurring character on the show was Wayans’ cynical, street-wise clown, fond of beating people with a sock filled with tennis balls.

· Tommy Davidson as MC Hammer – A sketch specifically satirizing Hammer’s oversized pants, so big that Davidson falls into them. Surprisingly, it ages pretty well.

· Louis Farrakhan in Star Trek: The Wrath of Farrakhan – Carrey’s Captain Kirk is brilliant, but it’s Wayans’ spot –on Farrakhan that makes this sketch.

Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team Greeted As Heroes

Source: www.thestar.com - Joseph Hall

(Jun 13, 2012) The home page for their team’s website sports a picture of a Purple Heart, the U.S. military medal given out to soldiers injured in combat.

And virtually all of them have well and truly earned the citation, having lost limbs while in the service of their country.

Now, the members of the
Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team are earning recognition across the continent for their one-of-a-kind diamond exploits, where they play and often defeat able-bodied teams.

PHOTOS: See pictures of the Wounded Warriors on the field

The team, the subject of a cover article in Sports Illustrated last summer, is deluged by media coverage as they barnstorm towns and cities across the United States, says coach David Van Sleet.

“While they enjoy that — reading their names in the paper, seeing their pictures all over the world — they’re not doing it for that reason,” says Van Sleet, an army veteran who for 35 years has helped build and improve prosthetic limbs.

“These guys didn’t think they were going to live, much less play on a sports team again . . . and they wanted to get back to doing what they did before. They wanted to get back to a normal life.”

That’s certainly the case for first baseman Josh Wege, 22, who lost both his lower legs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2009.

“It makes you feel normal again . . . because looking from the outside you are abnormal, you’re missing a part of your body,” says the Wisconsin native, who was a competitive baseball player before his injury. “Being part of a team, it almost makes you feel whole again.”

Like Wege, the vast majority of Wounded Warriors players lost limbs while in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan as army troops or Marines, victims of rocket-propelled grenade or IED attacks.

“But they were all athletes before, and they’re all in very good shape,” Van Sleet says. “They’re just learning to play the game with a prosthetic device, that’s all.”

They’re learning well, Van Sleet says, regularly defeating strong, able-bodied teams and celebrity pickup squads. Wounded Warrior supporters include NFL Hall of Famer Darrell Green, actors Alec Baldwin and James Gandolfini and rocker Joan Jett.

This weekend the Warriors are in Springfield, Ill., for games against teams from the city’s police and fire departments.

And they’ll have flown in from across the country for the games, with heavyweight sponsors like Louisville Slugger, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and prosthetics giant Ossur picking up the tabs.

Van Sleet, a longtime softball player, envisioned the team a year and a half ago after working for years with returning amputees.

“When I saw what was coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I thought I saw a lot of good-looking athletes here who could probably be pretty active,” he says. “And it turns out these guys were athletes and they were starving for this attention and competition.”

Prosthetic limbs of every imaginable kind accompany the team when they take the field, Van Sleet says.

“We have two guys on our team missing both lower legs . . . then we have other guys who are single-below-the-knees amputees and we have two guys that are missing just their foot,” he says.

“We have a guy missing his hand, we have a guy missing below the elbow . . . then we have someone who has lost his whole shoulder and his arm.”

That player, Greg Reynolds, patrols the outfield and functions “very good,” according to Van Sleet.

“He catches the ball and all in one motion he does a windmill operation,” the coach says. “He flips the ball in the air, and grabs it in mid-air while his glove is falling to the ground.”

The players are supplied with some of the most advanced prosthetics available, allowing many near-normal speed and range of motion.

“We have guys that can go from first to third and from second to home on a base hit,” Van Sleet says. “They run that well. And we’ve got some guys that can hit the ball, let me tell you.”

Wege’s injury has limited his lateral motion and slowed him on the basepaths. But it’s made him a more intelligent player, he says.

“I’m actually probably a smarter player than I used to be because I had to play the game a little more fundamentally sound,” he says. “I’m definitely not as fast as I used to be, but if the ball is in my general area, I’ll be able to make the play.”

Outside of softball, Wege is a motivational speaker and is contemplating a return to school.

“Right now I’m kind of the bum on the team,” he laughs.


North By Northeast Top Picks

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(June 12, 2012) So you’ve shelled out $50 for a North by Northeast wristband, available at NXNE.com or various outlets around Toronto. Now what to do with it? Don’t fret, we’ll get you started.


Army Girls at Supermarket, 9 p.m. Fast-rising boy/girl pop-punk duo from Toronto.
Carmen Elle plays guitar as well as she sings. Going places.

Cold Warps at Parts & Labour, 11 p.m. Scrappy lo-fi fuzz from Halifax. Damn good fun, lately produced by Dog Day’s Seth Smith.

Teenanger at the Garrison, midnight. Young-ish Toronto punks with a sneering old-school sensibility and snark, snot and bile to spare.


Bad Religion at Yonge-Dundas Square, 9 p.m. Yeah, they’re old, but they’re still better (and brainier) than the couple of generations’ worth of punk-rock wannabes out there stealing their shtick. And it’s free. What more do you want?

Cousins at Velvet Underground, 11 p.m. More lo-fi scrappiness from Halifax. Lead yelper Aaron Mangle writes tunes you won’t easily shake, The Palm at the End of the Mind is one of the year’s fabbest records and they have a special live “NXNE edition” cassette for sale at the show. Get on it.

Grass Widow at the Garrison, 11 p.m. All-gal Kill Rock Stars trio from San Francisco that often sounds like a sweeter, more harmonious Sleater-Kinney. Which, y’know, ain’t a bad thing.

Zulu Winter at the Rivoli, midnight. New Arts & Crafts signing from the U.K. Melodramatic, but in a non-icky way that finds common ground between Morrissey and Foals.

The Men at the Garrison, 1 a.m. Big buzz from Brooklyn. Tuneful rock classicism via American hardcore, or vice versa.


Dearly Beloved and Die Mannequin at the Mod Club, 8 p.m. onwards.
Two ass-whuppin’ Toronto ensembles from the heavier end of the spectrum, both touting awesome new records and just back from a joint cross-Canada tour so you know they’ll be extra ass-whuppin’.

DZ Deathrays at Wrongbar, midnight. Their sonic resemblance to a certain recently reunited Toronto hard-rock duo earned these youthful Aussies the nickname Death from Below during Canadian Music Week.

Odonis Odonis at Sneaky Dee’s, 11 p.m. Loud, evil, awesome. One of Toronto’s next breakout acts.

Andre Williams and the Sadies at the Horseshoe Tavern, midnight. The incomparable, septuagenarian R&B survivor and sleazo non pareil teamed up with Toronto’s hardest-working live band for another winner on this year’s Night & Day.

Bowly at Unlovable, midnight. Hot-to-trot Montreal DJ/producer with a penchant for twitchy, bass-oozing, breakbeat-fed house music.

Yamantaka/Sonic Titan at the Garrison, midnight. Prog-metal girl-on-girl kabuki theatrics from Montreal. On its own weird and wonderful planet.


Of Montreal at Yonge-Dundas Square, 7 p.m. The Flaming Lips aren’t the only garish spectacle gracing downtown Toronto this evening. They will hold their own.

Ceremony at Wrongbar, 11 p.m. Scorching California punk that sounds like it means it.

Revolver at Gladstone Hotel ballroom, 10 p.m. Haven’t heard much from these fey Parisien popsters, but I have a suspicion Phoenix fans won’t be disappointed.

The Mark Inside at Gladstone Hotel ballroom, 11 p.m. Although its forward momentum was interrupted for a few years by record-label screwery, this Toronto quartet bounced back hard with last year’s long-delayed, Anglophilic-in-a-good-way Nothing to Admit and seems well equipped to make its current run for the top count.

Christien Summers at Cameron House, 1 a.m. Smooooove electro-pop from one half of Toronto’s Cansecos and his very talented gal.

CATL at the Horseshoe Tavern, 1 a.m. Undisputed masters of the drunken bar gig, this Toronto blues-punk trio finally got it all right in the studio, too, on this year’s Soon This Will All Be Gone. Love them.

Online Music Retailers: A Leg Up For Artists Or A Step Back For The Biz?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(June 11, 2012) Pete Townshend represents one school of thought. For him, iTunes is a “digital vampire.”

Why doesn’t
Apple’s iTunes Store provide more career support to “artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire ... for its enormous commission, that it decides?” asked Townshend in a now notorious speech to a room of radio-industry reps last fall.

Pete Townshend wants Apple to help new artists

In his view, iTunes and by extension other digital-music services from Amazon to Spotify aren’t doing enough. They should take on the role A&R people at record labels once did: offer a little constructive guidance to bands, provide some “creative nurturance” – not just throw new music online and take its 30-per-cent commission. “A fledgling musician at the start of a career is a delicate thing,” Townshend said.

That’s one view. Jeff Price has a different take.

Price’s company TuneCore simply offers artists a service. It gets them onto the world’s major online stores with a few clicks of a mouse and a flat, annual fee of $9.99 per song or $49.99 per album. It’s all online and automated – the antithesis of Townshend’s recommendations. Yet unlike a record label, TuneCore doesn’t take any percentage of sales or claim any copyrights to the music. It effectively eliminates the barriers for selling one’s music.

It’s part of a trend among music companies toward a straight, fee-for-service industry, in which the important task of moulding artists and shaping consumer tastes has devolved from record labels and is left mostly up to the artists themselves.

“I’m not a record-label killer. I’m not. I just provided a new business model using existing technologies,” said Price, who knows the old industry well.

For 17 years, he ran the label spinART Records, which had its heyday in the 1990s. He then became one of the first employees of the pioneering online music retailer eMusic, based in New York. At that time, major labels were still reluctant about selling music downloads, so eMusic specialized in licensing the top independent labels, from Beggars Banquet to Matador. This was around five years before iTunes emerged in 2003. Interestingly, eMusic has many of the kind of curatorial features which Townshend said he’d like to see on iTunes. However, as major labels have come on board, eMusic has changed and some of the indies, such as Beggars, have left the service.

Now with TuneCore, which he founded in 2005, Price notes that artists using his service have sold 600 million units (that could be anything from a song sold on iTunes to a track accessed on Spotify). And they have earned over $300-million over the past two and a half years. The Grammy Award-winning folk band the Civil Wars is currently among the top acts using TuneCore. Sonic Youth, Keith Richards and the rapper Drake have all issued music on the service too.

A host of competitors, notably the company CD Baby, offer similar services for somewhat different fees. CD Baby also helps artists sell physical CDs, which TuneCore doesn’t do, and it helps host artists’ websites. However, these companies are also in the business of offering services, and services alone – not artistic or career guidance. For instance, TuneCore has another service for a one-time fee of $49.99, in which the company registers an artist’s songwriting copyrights worldwide and helps retrieve royalties owed. TuneCore keeps 10 per cent of what it collects specifically for songwriting royalties. Price sees a large well of money out there for songwriters worldwide, previously untapped due to inefficiencies in the way royalties are collected. He also sees it as a way for a greater number of artists to make a living.

“People seem to forget, it wasn’t like we used to have a world where artists would just trip over money as they walked down the street. There was U2, Madonna, Gordon Lightfoot. But it was very small. The majority of the world’s artists couldn’t even get in [that is, get a record deal] and they certainly weren’t making this money. So does it take a [support] machine [of record labels and A&R people]? It helps. Can you do it on your own? Yes. But that’s the point. You now have a choice,” Price said.

He added that roughly 1,000 artists using TuneCore made more than $1,000 in, say, the month of February. “I can feel pretty confident telling you that the traditional infrastructure isn’t mailing 1,000 artists cheques for a minimum of $1,000 in band royalties,” he added.

For Townshend, however, companies acting as a go-between like TuneCore, “are really just another form of banking.”

“What creative people want to know,” he added, “is that their music has been heard. They would prefer a response that was constructive, [rather] than a positive or negative review. They would prefer expertise to opinion. They would like to know that the public, if they are given a chance to hear the music, had a chance to make up their own minds.” The question is whether more of a fee-for-service record industry gets a musician heard, or just throws music out to consumers.

Tailgate Party Precedes Concert By TSO

www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Jun 07, 2012) Tailgate parties before sports events are tried and true crowd-pleasers. But before a
Symphony Orchestra concert of Shostakovich?

This June 9, as part of the Luminato arts festival, the TSO is showcasing a late-night concert that is preceded by burgers, beers and flip-flops in the parking lot outside Roy Thomson Hall.

The idea came from the young professionals the symphony has brought on board to widen its audience and bring fresh ideas into programming and events. It recently created the Young Leadership Council in 2009 and then the Impresarios club, which packages concerts and activities for 25-to-40-year-old crowd.

“We’re there to do something boundary-expanding,” says council member Dustin Cohen, 27. “That’s why we got the unorthodox notion to stage a tailgate party before the concert.”

The parking-lot party was first tried before last year’s late-night concert and was such a resounding success they decided to repeat it.

“I have been to many outdoor music festivals like Bonnaroo, and concerts by bands like Phish and former members of the Grateful Dead, where there is a substantial tailgate culture,” says Cohen, who runs this year’s event. Most 25-to-40-year-olds have taken part in tailgates before sporting events, he points out, and to them it signals a fun evening ahead.

Realizing the revolutionary nature of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony, subtitled “The Year 1905,” Cohen says he intends to liven up the Roy Thomson parking lot with rousing music as well as barbecued meat and booze.

“We will play everything from Led Zeppelin to the Black Keys,” says the executive assistant to an MPP. The symphony is allowing patrons to bring their drinks into the hall for the 10:30 p.m. performance and there’ll be another party for all the concertgoers after the show in the lobby with live music by BADBADNOTGOOD.

The party is $69 which includes a ticket to the concert for non-members.

The TSO has long wooed young blood through its Young People’s Concerts and the Tsoundcheck program which began offering $14 tickets to members age 15 to 35 in 2001. There are now 20,000 tsoundcheck tickets sold annual and they account for 10 per cent of all sales.

As a result, the symphony has always been a part of some young people’s lives like Cohen, who was taken to concerts by his grandfather when he was growing up and then joined tsoundcheck as a young adult.

The 13-member youth council is not so much about getting bums into seats as it is fostering leadership and creating strong ties with young professionals whose philanthropy and organizational skills will enhance TSO’s operations, say officials.

Denny Young, senior director of development, says, “They are passionate about the arts and interested in achieving leadership roles.”

Eileen Jurczak, who works on the trading floor of BMO Capital Markets, is the founding co-chair of the council. Holding both an engineering degree and an MBA, Jurczak says the council and Impresario club are directed at “those who have been out of school a couple of years and they want to do something for the community and get involved.”

Jurczak, who studied the violin, participates in many arts events in the city from opera to ballet and museums. Art, she says, “enriches people’s lives” and she wants to return the favour by helping with TSO philanthropic events. As an example, the Impresarios $500 concert-and-activity package includes a $100 donation to the symphony.

Fellow co-chair Lisa Robinson, who has a BA in business and practiced law before working as a sales person for Royal LePage, says the council seeks to “deepen the connection” between young people and the symphony.

Grammys Add Changes to R&B, Jazz, Latin Categories

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 8, 2012) *A year after the
Grammy Awards dropped 31 categories (from 109 to 78), sparking protests and a lawsuit by Latin jazz musicians, the music organization has switched things up again by adding three awards, including the reinstatement of best Latin jazz album.

The Recording Academy announced Friday in a statement to The Associated Press that the upcoming Grammys will feature 81 categories.

New entries include awards for best urban contemporary album — to honor R&B albums that may include elements of pop and rock.

Other changes include splitting up the best Latin pop, rock or urban album honor into two awards, now known as best Latin pop album and best Latin rock, urban, or alternative album. However, the best Banda or Norteno album and best regional Mexican or Tejan album have been combined into one award: best regional Mexican music album.

The new decisions were made at the Academy’s annual Board of Trustees meeting last month.

The Academy shook up the music industry when it announced in April 2011 that it would downsize its categories to make the awards more competitive. That meant eliminating categories by sex, so men and women compete in the same vocal categories. But it also eliminated other niche fields and created broader ones.

Some artists protested the change and others — including Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, and Bill Cosby — complained. The group that filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed in April, was led by Bobby Sanabria, the Grammy-nominated Latin jazz musician who accused the Academy of not following the proper procedures to implement the changes. Part of the class-action lawsuit called for the reinstatement of the best Latin jazz album award.

That award was consolidated, making Latin jazz musicians compete against a larger group of artists in the best jazz instrumental category at the 54th Grammys, which were held in February.

The 55th Grammy Awards will air on CBS on Feb. 10.

Carrie Underwood Takes Her 3rd Video of Year Win at CMT Awards

Source: www.thestar.com - By Chris Talbott

(Jun 07, 2012) NASHVILLE, TENN. — Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena is turning into quite a memorable place for
Carrie Underwood and her hunky husband, NHL star Mike Fisher.

Underwood won her third video of the year award at the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night, carving yet another great memory out for the couple in the home of Fisher’s Nashville Predators.

“I think we live here,” Underwood said backstage after winning the night’s top honour. “We need to like rent a room here so we can sleep here, too.”

Underwood’s two wins — she also won for collaboration of the year for “Remind Me,” with Brad Paisley — mean she’s now won nine CMT belt buckles since 2006. She matched Taylor Swift’s run in the fan-voted video of the year category over the same period.

The former American Idol winner was the night’s only multiple winner, and her fans did it for her again.

“They’re the ones in control,” Underwood said. “I have a really active fan base. The people who come to my concerts and support me, they really get out and they do stuff. They vote. Any polls or any awards show, anything that they have control of, they’re all about it.”

Luke Bryan pulled off the surprise of the night, taking male video of the year for “I Don’t Want This Night to End.” After beating out country’s top male stars, Bryan briefly covered his face with his hands, then pogo-jumped his way to the stage.

“When you’re at this level of what we do as singers, and your fans vote, it speaks huge volumes and it’s crazy to be fan-voted for an award and win it,” Bryan said. “I don’t really get caught up in trying to be cool, trying to play a part. I just freaking get so excited about this stuff and I will always enjoy it.”

Bryan rewarded his fans by mimicking his actions when he won his first CMT award two years ago. Back then he tossed a jacket into the crowd. This time he went cheaper, asking Tom Arnold to pull a pair of camouflage boxers wedgie-style out of his pants and tossed them into the crowd.

“I threw my jacket off the stage and it was really expensive,” Bryan said. “I think it cost something like $4,000, and a lot of people were like, ‘Why did you that?’”

It was far from the raciest moment of the night. Kellie Pickler pretended to motorboat an imaginary pair of breasts to introduce Little Big Town’s performance of “Pontoon,” complete with a full-sized pontoon boat and bikini-clad “swimmers” floating around the stage.

And co-host Kristen Bell made sure to spend a little quality time in the stands, sandwiching herself between Bryan and Jake Owen.

“I didn’t know I’d be sitting right in the middle of Hunksville, Tenn., population — two,” the actress joked.

As for the official business of the night, the rest pretty much held true to current award show trends.

Upon hearing their names in the collaboration category, Paisley leaped to his feet and wrapped his arms around Underwood’s husband in a long embrace that got the laughs started.

Miranda Lambert won her third straight female video of the year award for the emotional “Over You,” a song she co-wrote with husband Blake Shelton about the untimely death of his brother. The win marked another emotional moment involving the song and its video, which was shot just weeks after Lambert lost her father-in-law, a close friend and her childhood pet. Video director Trey Fanjoy also lost her father just four days before the shoot.

“Behind the camera and in front of the camera, the whole video was just trying to hold it together,” Lambert said backstage.

Rising duo Thompson Square was nominated twice for duo video of the year and won for “I Got You.” Former American Idol winner Scotty McCreery took home breakthrough video of the year for “The Trouble with Girls” just hours before his high school graduation ceremony in Raleigh, N.C. Lady Antebellum won group video of the year for “We Owned the Night.”

And Jason Aldean, a multiple nominee in the past, won his first belt buckle, taking home CMT performance of the year for “Tattoos on This Town.”

“This is actually my first one of these, so this is pretty cool,” Aldean said after double-timing it to the stage. “I’ve got to say a big thank you to CMT for still playing videos. Thank you guys so much. It’s such an important part of what we do, and how to get our face (out there), and still connect with our fans.”

The night started with President Barack Obama and his likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney making an appearance in taped video segments.

Like you might expect, neither was willing to offend voters on either side of the aisle in a “dirty politics” debate over who should host the show, Bell or country star Toby Keith.

“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make since I’ve been in office, but I decided I want them both,” Obama said.

Romney then also suggested they work as co-hosts and added, “See, I just put two people back to work.”

With the decision made, Keith and Bell arrived at the stage in a huge replica of a red solo cup, in deference to Keith’s hit song.

The night was filled with several strong performances, but none got quite the reaction of Willie Nelson’s rare appearance to play his new song, “Roll Me Up.”

Keith, Jamey Johnson, Darius Rucker and Zac Brown Band joined him on stage to sing the ode to marijuana as a smoke machine rolled on high in the background.

Lady A singer Charles Kelley sang along, holding his cup in the air, and the performance received a long standing ovation.

In a couple of other notable mashups, Paisley joined Hank Williams Jr. on a new outside stage to perform their collaboration “I’m Gonna Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams” and Journey joined Rascal Flatts on “Banjo” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” to close the show.

Lambert also performed “Takin’ Pills,” with her trio Pistol Annies. If references were counted, Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe would have been the big winners.

Bell even performed her own audition for the group.

“We’ve already named her Hollywood Annie,” Lambert confided. “We just haven’t told her.”

AUDIO: Will Smith Raps Again on ‘Summertime 3’ Remix

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 8, 2012) *
Will Smith has reunited with DJ Jazzy Jeff for a remix of their 1991 anthem “Summertime.”

A leaked clip of the new “Summertime 3” features just over a minute of the track, with Smith rapping over a slowed-down sample of Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness.”

The remix is part of a new mixtape by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick Boogie, to be released on June 11. It is the first time the pair have recorded together since 1993.

VIDEO: Ringo Starr: On John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Jun 13, 2012) NIAGARA FALLS—It was 50 years ago, Aug. 18, 1962, that Ringo Starr played his first gig with The Beatles, but he still remembers it vividly.

“It was a lunchtime session at The Cavern. I wasn’t with the band then. There was a knock at the door in Admiral Rd., where I was living back then, and it was Brian Epstein asking if I would sit in with the boys for a lunchtime session.

“He had a car, so that was great. I got up, rolled out of bed, went down there and that’s how it all started.”

Starr is sitting in a corner of the Avalon Theatre at the Fallsview Casino and Resort, where Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band start a two-night engagement Thursday, which kicks off their 27-city North American tour.

This is the 13th year Starr has put together a similar group. This year’s musicians include alumni Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera, Richard Page and Gregg Bissonette as well as newcomers Steve Lukather and Gregg Rolie.

“The criterion to be in the band is if you’ve had a hit in this or the last century,” quipped Starr. “We’re the best 1-800 band in the world. Our secret? No sidemen, all frontmen.”

Usually, Starr prefers not to talk about the past, but he’s in a mellow mood and goes back to 1960, when the group he then belonged to, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, shared a stage in Hamburg with The Beatles.

“They were just starting out and we were the biggest band in Liverpool, but John, Paul and George, oh my. What a front line they made!

“The bands would perform 12 hours a night, six hours each, dusk until dawn. That’s how you learned how to play, you had to put in the time.”

Starr is 71 now and when asked whether he ever thought he’d be where he is today back then, he laughs.

“We were 19, 20, we were having a lot of fun. It was like let’s go! We never thought that four years from now we’d be the biggest band in the land. And we certainly never thought about getting old. You never do when you’re young.

“I remember we were opening for some act and her band was like 40, and we thought, ‘What, you blokes are still out there, doing it?’ And now, look at me, in my 70s and I’m still out there doing it.”

Not all of his colleagues are. Levon Helm of The Band died in April and Clarence Clemons from the E Street Band died in 2011. Both were veterans of the first All Starr Band tour in 1989.

“I knew I needed a big guy to lean on that first year and they didn’t come any bigger than Clarence,” recalls Starr.

“And Levon? This stuff happens, man. The wheel keeps turning.

“Some of the really big turns it takes can hit you hard,” he said. “John. George. They were my brothers. I was an only child and suddenly I had three close brothers I loved. Then I lost two of them.

“I couldn’t believe it when John went. I was in the Bahamas at the time, when one of the kids called out, ‘Something’s happened to John.’ And then the phone call came that he was dead. I still think of it.”

Harrison’s death from cancer in 2001 hurt as well, but Starr was still focused on the marriage of Harrison’s son, Dhani, just last weekend, an event he attended with the other surviving Beatle, Paul McCartney.

“It’s what happens, too. You gotta go with that. That’s how it is. It was great for Dhani, because I’ve known him since he was born. It’s not like The Beatles were at the wedding, it was just Paul and Ringo.”

The two former bandmates seem to have an amiable relationship, but asked if he was going to join McCartney at his 70th birthday celebrations on June 18, as McCartney had joined his in 2010, Starr replied, “Well, I know where Paul is going to be that day and I know where I’m going to be, and they’re not the same place.

“But we’re great mates, so don’t read anything into that.”

Michael Kiwanuka Steps On Biggest Stage Yet

Source: www.thestar.com - By Chris Talbott

(Jun 07, 2012) NASHVILLE, TENN. — Michael Kiwanuka didn’t trust his voice.

For the increasingly large crowd of music fans familiar with the pure, soulful sound of the British singer’s
ageless voice, this is probably hard to believe. Yet it’s true. Kiwanuka thought he was a guitar player and nothing more.

“The people who were big when I was in my mid-teens were like Usher, and Justin Timberlake started coming out,” Kiwanuka said in his singsong lilt. “And there’s R&B singers who are amazing. And I would sing and it would sound not really like that at all ... so people just found it weird. When I listened to it back on speakers for demos and stuff, it just sounded like nothing else that was around.”

We can all be thankful for that. Kiwanuka eventually found confidence in his voice, and as he prepares to play his first Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, he arrives with plenty of advance hype, joining top acts like Radiohead, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, the Beach Boys and more on the bill in Manchester, Tenn.

Kiwanuka was voted in BBC’s Best of Sound 2012 as Britain’s top act to watch this year. Long before his debut album Home Again went gold in his home country, the 25-year-old was already earning attention on both sides of the Atlantic with a series of EPs that showcased his songwriting ability, his understated guitar playing and that voice, which recalls soul singers like Otis Redding and Bill Withers.

“I think obviously the first thing that stands out is his voice,” The Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach said. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s got a lot of character.”

Auerbach was so taken with Kiwanuka’s vibe, he reached out and set up a recording session in London on a rare day off. The resulting song, the slow-grooving “Lasan,” made the U.S. version of the album, which was recently released digitally and will be available as a physical release in the United States on July 17.

“He sent me just this little demo he had with just his guitar and his voice,” Auerbach said. “And we decided we’d just go in the studio and record it. ... It was this weird synchronicity thing. We came up with the arrangement on the spot. It was nice.”

Things didn’t always come so easily for Kiwanuka, a child of Ugandan parents who grew up in north London. In fact, he admits to struggling some in his first recording sessions with producer Paul Butler (also lead singer of The Bees).

“The longest studio session I had with him was two weeks, and I was like, ‘Great, I’ve got two weeks to come up with something solid if anything else,’” Kiwanuka said during a recent interview at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas. “So we got there and all the songs I had tanked, they just didn’t work in the studio. I felt the session kind of falling apart. I had one day off to do what I wanted and I just stayed in my room.”

It wasn’t until he came up with his breakthrough song “Tell Me a Tale” that things really got rolling. He emerged with not only words and chords for “Tale,” but also a Fela-esque retro groove that propelled the song in an exciting way and seemed also to break down the barriers he faced in the studio. Butler could see Kiwanuka’s confidence growing daily.

“The thing about ‘Tell Me a Tale,’ it kept its rawness,” Butler said in a phone interview. “It has the grit and the dirt in it. It just has like a good intention with it that wasn’t necessarily what he was playing. I hope he keeps that for future recordings, the rawness. Also he’s blessed with this amazing African rhythm. You can’t really learn what he’s doing. It’s a lovely thing that first came out in his guitar playing. You’ve either got it or you haven’t.”

Although Kiwanauka’s sound is not typical of pop, his music has garnered him surprising mainstream support in Britain.

“He got a lot of radio play on (BBC) Radio 1,” Butler said. “It was going in between Jessie J and all the big pop stars, and then ‘Home Again’ would come on, this really mellow, gritty, earthy sound, and a lot of people really loved it.”

Which means after years of looking for his place, Kiwanuka has found it.

“When you’re a teenager all you want to do is fit in,” Kiwanuka said. “You don’t want to be unique, which is bad and wrong. Actually that’s what’s so cool about life — everyone’s different.”

5 Acts to Watch

While major acts and headliners like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys and Phish always draw the masses out to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, it's discovering new acts that's the true joy of the four-day festival down on the farm in Manchester, Tenn.

British singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka is one of Bonnaroo's more buzzed-about down-list acts, but he isn't the only rising performer worth fighting the crowds, heat and dust (or downpours) to check out. Here's a look at five more (in alphabetical order) as the festival kicks off Thursday:

— Alabama Shakes: Though not officially a headliner, the live dynamos from North Alabama have been given a primo late-night set time Thursday that should sync up nicely with the thousands of fans who've not yet even begun to party. Expect volcanic singer Brittany Howard to emerge a star.

— Danny Brown: With his Flock of Seagulls hair style and slightly psychotic vocal delivery, the Detroit rapper is weird — and no one likes weird more than Bonnaroovians. With an early evening time slot before Kendrick Lamar and Yelawolf, expect many thousands to dig Brown's oddball vibe.

— Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires: The old-school survivor is finding success in his 60s and leading a regular soul revival at Bonnaroo, where Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Darondo, Soul Rebels, Little Dragon and more will lift your spirits. Bradley plays Saturday.

— Robert Ellis: The Texas singer-songwriter is playing in front of large crowds for the first time this summer with slots opening for Willie Nelson and Paul Simon along with Friday and Saturday performances at Bonnaroo. His blend of upbeat honky-tonk and deep folk should earn him a bigger stage next year.

— Flying Lotus: Already well known in electronic circles, the California producer of mind-bending, spacey beats is a Thom Yorke favourite. Could the Radiohead front man stick around after his band's Friday night headlining slot for his friend's early Saturday morning set, bringing thousands of new listeners with him?

::FILM NEWS::    

Cosmopolis Actress Sarah Gadon: Mystery Woman Times Two

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(June 08, 2012) CANNES, France – Toronto’s Sarah Gadon may seem like an overnight sensation, although her resume goes back to 1998, for a small role in TV’s Nikita series.

And paradoxically, the more we see of her, the more enigmatic she becomes – especially when she teams with the two Cronenbergs, David and his son Brandon.

In David’s
Cosmopolis and Brandon’s Antiviral, the two films that brought her to the recent Cannes Film Festival, Gadon, 25, plays women who attract the camera but also baffle it. Her on-screen motives seem inscrutable, but does she understand what her characters are about?

“Of course,” Gadon says, munching on a handful of cherries as she sits for a roundtable session with journalists.

“How could you pay a character you don’t understand?”

Fair enough. But Gabon, whose real-life alter-ego is a U. of T. Cinema Studies student, admits that Elise of Cosmopolis (the icy wife of Robert Pattinson’s unhinged tycoon) and Hannah of Antiviral (the iconic object of obsessive fan worship) are anything but uncomplicated:

Q. You play mysterious women in both Cosmopolis and Antiviral. Do you enjoy this type of character?

A. When I first got the material I was so excited, because … all the ideas about them are projected onto them by other characters in the film. They’re expected to be sunny and happy and smiley and solve all the male characters' problems with their charm. And it was wonderful to play a woman who was really sexually conservative (in Cosmopolis) and who emotionally was relentless in terms of not allowing her male counterpart close to her. That was really interesting and I thought it was very brave of David to give that to me.

Q. You call Elise conservative, but Pattinson’s character, Eric Packer, seems to think of her as cold.

A. I just think that she is someone who has never had any sort of passion in terms of sexuality in her life. She had just put it into a place where sexuality is a financial commodity. Interactions, our life ... they're just talking about power relationships and sexuality in very blatant static terms.

Q. Was it hard to play this kind of person?

A. No, I think it was really easy. The characters weren't really supposed to know each other and Rob and I didn't know each other. It was easy to be aloof and act as if I didn't know him. I think that in a way is easier to play than having to meet someone for the first time and be overtly sexual with them or be really flirtatious. IT was actually to me a little more realistic. Even the dialogue was so specific.

Q. It doesn’t sound like you like Elise as a person.

A. Hmm … I wouldn't be friends with my character in real life. But it was a joy to play her because as I said you don't often get the opportunity to play a woman who is willing to be emotionally detached. So often the way women are written, they are only driven by emotion and that's it.

Q. You said you couldn’t be friends with your character -- could you imagine being married to Pattinson’s Eric Packer?

A. No. He's a blatant narcissist. Don't marry for money! I don't know who I'm going to marry! I'd like to marry someone who is nice and is a good person.

Q. This your second time working with David Crone berg. How has that been, and how was it working with Brandon?

A. I worked with David first on A Dangerous Method and I was very familiar with his work. I was really nervous to be working with him, but once you speak with him all of that melts away. It all becomes about the project. So when Cosmopolis came around he asked me to be a part of the project I was really excited that he wanted to work with me again, because I think the kinds of projects he does have so many layers. You don't always get the opportunity to work with a great director as a young actor.

Then when Brandon called me … I was really impressed with his vision and his intelligence and passion and his drive to make his film. It was really organic, but it wasn't as if David introduced him to me and said, ‘This is my son! You will meet him and you will work in his film!’”

Oscars Venue Reopens In Hollywood As Dolby Theatre

Source: www.thestar.com - By Derrik J. Lang

(June 12, 2012) LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The venue for the Oscars has a new name — and sound.

The posh 3,400-seat theatre formerly known as the Kodak Theatre reopened Monday with a new audio-visual system and new signage as the
Dolby Theatre. Dolby Laboratories Inc. announced a 20-year deal with Hollywood & Highland Center owner CIM Group last month to rename the theatre, which has hosted the Academy Awards since 2002.

The audio-visual technology company outfitted the four-level venue with its Dolby 3D and Dolby Atmos projection and audio systems. Besides the Oscars, the Hollywood theatre is home to the Cirque du Soleil production Iris and will host the world premiere next Monday of the Disney-Pixar film Brave, which will be the first feature film released utilizing the Dolby Atmos technology.

“It’s an incredible day for us,” said Dolby President Kevin Yeaman after a demonstration Monday of the theatre’s new audio-visual systems. “We’ve been hard at work coming up with Dolby Atmos and Dolby 3D and looking for a way to tell that story and connect with audiences around the world. When this opportunity came up, we couldn’t pass it up.”

Unlike Dolby Surround 7.1, which uses different audio channels, Dolby Atmos can render sounds in space by harnessing individual speakers instead of entire speaker arrays. Dolby Atmos also adds overhead speakers, which were installed in the Dolby Theatre on two 50-foot-long trusses that must be removed for the acrobatic acts in Iris.

CIM Group dropped the Kodak name from the theatre ahead of the Oscars earlier this year after a bankruptcy court judge approved the early exit of 131-year-old Eastman Kodak Co. from a 20-year naming rights deal it signed with them in 1999.

The 85th annual Academy Awards are scheduled to be held at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24, 2013.

Seven Film Festivals In Seven Days: Projections

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson

(Jun 07, 2012)
Film Fest Central: The next seven days and nights are busy even by the standards of our fest-crazed city. Launched earlier this week at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, the Worldwide Short Film Festival continues to showcase dozens of admirably concise new films through to June 10. This weekend also features the final days of the Toronto Russian Film Festival at Innis Town Hall and the beginning of Luminato’s film program at TIFF Bell Lightbox (see more info below). Then comes the latest edition of North by Northeast’s companion fest of music-centric movies (June 11-17) and the Female Eye Film Festival (June 20-24), plus new showcases of Italian and Korean cinema.

Two more events compete for the attention of the handful of viewers who aren’t already overwhelmed. Returning for its fourth edition, the Canadian Sport Film Festival presents some unusually athletic big-screen fare at TIFF Bell Lightbox on June 8, including Men Who Swim, a charming doc about the travails of a male synchronized swimming team in Sweden (it screens at 9:30 p.m.). The festival also conducts a sports and filmmaking workshop for kids at the NFB Mediatheque on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For details, see www.sportfilmfestival.ca.

Downtown cinephiles should also consider heading north to check out more of the Toronto Japanese Film Festival, which continues its inaugural run at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond Ct., near Eglinton and the DVP). Of particular note is the Canadian premiere of the final film by Kaneto Shindo, a master of Japanese cinema who died at the very ripe age of 100 on May 29. Among the 48 films he directed during his seven-decade career are Onibaba and Kuroneko, two of the 1960s’ eeriest and most elegant tales of the supernatural. Originally released in 2010, Shindo’s swansong Postcard was a semi-autobiographical postwar drama that was Japan’s most recent submission for consideration in the foreign-film category at the Oscars. It plays for the first time in Toronto on June 14 at 7 p.m. at the JCCC’s Kobayashi Hall.

WINDFALL + SWEET CRUDE: Environmental worries and woes dominate the schedule at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema this month. Along with more screenings of Last Call at the Oasis — director Jessica Yu’s effort to sound the alarm about threats to the global water supply — this week includes premieres of two more movies about the dire state of the world. In Windfall, a community full of well-meaning folks in a picturesque corner of upstate New York contends with the downside of wind power. It runs June 11-14 (Skype conversations with director Laura Israel follow the evening showings on June 11 and 13). Then the Bloor’s monthly Cinema Politica series presents a PWYC screening of Sweet Crude, a dispiriting look at the impact of 50 years’ worth of oil extraction on the Niger Delta in Nigeria. It plays June 12 at 6:30 p.m. Two grave accounts of the effects of global warming — The Island President and Kivalina Vs. Exxon — start runs on June 15.

RAY BRADBURY TRIBUTE: If not for Ray Bradbury, we’d have no Fahrenheit 451, no Illustrated Man, no Martian Chronicles and no Something Wicked This Way Comes. Nor would we have The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the 1953 movie that was based on a story by the American science-fiction great, who passed away last Tuesday at the age of 91. As a tribute to Bradbury, the Projection Booth presents the classic creature feature in a free screening on June 9 at noon. The Projection Booth is located at 1035 Gerrard St. E.

WILSON AND WAINWRIGHT DOCS AT LUMINATO: The citywide arts festival bulks up its movie component with a series at TIFF Bell Lightbox that runs June 8-17. Many films are related to artists represented elsewhere at Luminato, including the Einstein on the Beach duo of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. Two documentaries on their landmark opera screen June 8 and episodes of Wilson’s Video Portraits series play ahead of every screening. On June 10 at 4:30 p.m., author Annie Proulx will also introduce a screening of Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s adaptation of her short story. And various Wainwrights and McGarrigles will attend a Q&A after Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You, a new documentary about last year’s tribute concert to the musical clan’s late matriarch Kate McGarrigle: Lian Lunson’s film makes its Canadian premiere on June 13 at 9:30 p.m. The program also includes rare screenings of Robert Lepage’s Le Confessional, Paul Schrader’s Mishima and Jean Cocteau’s ever-lovely 1946 version of Beauty and the Beast.

GIRLS OF FILM: The total lack of women among the directors competing for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes festival brought a huge amount of attention to the issue of gender equality in the movie business. A discussion of the challenges facing women filmmakers follows a special “Girls of Film” edition of Packaged Goods, TIFF Bell Lightbox’s periodic roundups of the best and most innovative new short films, music videos and commercials. Directors of many of the works to be screened — including Claire Edmondson, maker of cool clips for Broken Social Scene, Austra and Diamond Rings — will weigh in on the topic on June 13 at 7 p.m.

CAGES OF SHAME: Once unkindly described by Rudyard Kipling as “the most bizarre of the ursine species,” the Asian black bear (or moon bear) routinely suffers far greater indignities at farms in China and Vietnam. There, they are kept in brutal conditions so that their bile can be extracted for use in traditional medicines. A documentary that makes its Canadian premiere at the AMC Yonge-Dundas on June 12 at 7:30 p.m., Cages of Shame depicts the efforts of Animals Asia to rescue them from their plight. Alice Ng, a member of the international animal-welfare group, and Toronto photographer Jo-Anne McArthur will also speak at the event. Tickets are available for a suggested donation of $10.

12 Reasons why Women Find Idris Elba Irresistible

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 9, 2012) *Actor
Idris Elba has taken the title of most sexiest man in the eyes of black women.

Let’s just be honest, he already took the title from Denzel Washington.

Our partner site, Essence, has recently taken the time to create a list of why he is irresistible.

He came up with 12 of them. Here are two of them:

1. He’s Confident

Confidence and high self-esteem are sexy, no question. In six studies from the Evolutionary Psychology journal, men with ostensibly higher levels of self-esteem were rated as more attractive and as more desirable relationship partners than those with lower levels of self-esteem.

2. He’s Good At His Job

In all of his hit roles, from playing a drug lord on The Wire to a detective on the hit BBC series Luther, he always appears to be very competent at his work. Success at your job, whatever it is, conveys you have the skills to “get things done,” and an achiever means a winner.


Mary J. Blige to Become Betty Shabazz, the Wife of Malcolm X

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 12, 2012) *The Queen of Hip Hop soul landed a huge gig to play the role of the wife of Malcolm X.

She’ll portray Dr. Betty Shabazz in the upcoming TV film, “Parallel Lives,” which captures the lives of Shabazz and Coretta Scott King and the relationship they shared as the wives of two slain civil rights icons.

The singer is serious about her developing job in drama and told the press that she’s studying Mrs. Shabazz.

Beginning her acting career in Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,”
Blige has grown significantly on screen. Since deciding to become competitive in the drama industry, she’s taken acting lessons, and has equipped herself with an acting coach, piano coach, and dialect coach.

In a recent interview with Chelsea Handler, Blige spoke on putting the work in to grow as an actress.

“Even though I was given the part in ‘Rock of Ages,’ I wanted to prepare myself so I went to work for it,” said Blige. “I just didn’t want to get the part because I was Mary J. Blige. I went and did the work, I got an acting coach.”

In addition to “Parallel Lives” which will begin filming in September, Mary J. Blige is also scheduled to play jazz and blues legend Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic.

Documentary Shows How Grammy Awards Responded To Whitney Houston’s Death

Source: www.thestar.com - By Sandy Cohen

(June 12, 2012) LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — When Grammy Awards producers learned of Whitney Houston’s death less than 24 hours before the live telecast, they scrapped parts of the script, added performances and puzzled over how best to honour the Grammy-winning singer who died unexpectedly at age 48.

LL Cool J said addressing the Grammy audience at Staples Center after Houston’s death was “definitely the most challenging moment I’ve faced in my career.”

He decided to open with a prayer, and producers agreed, though none could recall another network TV event that began as such.

This and other last-minute changes made to the 54th annual Grammy Awards are chronicled in a new documentary,
A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On, which premiered Monday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The screening of the 25-minute documentary and 14-minute highlight reel of past Grammy performances was also a not-so-subtle push for Emmy votes.

“We’d love to have you consider us when you vote,” said Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammy Awards for the past 32 years. “We’ve been nominated before and not won.”

He added that executives at CBS, which broadcasts the Grammys, suggested Ehrlich’s team produce the documentary, which can be seen on the Grammy.com website and at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Emmy ballots are due at the end of the month.

The documentary, though it deals with show changes made after Houston’s death, isn’t a downer.

Ehrlich said that about an hour before he heard about Houston, he’d experienced a career high: Paul McCartney, who was set to close the show, asked if he might perform a Beatles medley from “Abbey Road,” and maybe it could include a guitar jam with the likes of Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh and Bruce Springsteen.

The number came together just before Houston’s death.

Ehrlich said the magic of that McCartney moment made him feel “like maybe there is a God.”

“God said, I’m going to give this to him, but I’m not going to let him get too cocky,” the veteran producer said in an interview before the screening.

After Houston died, the challenge was to “do something that was respectful to Whitney,” Ehrlich said, “that set a tone that also didn’t lose the fact that there were thousands of people who were coming to this event because they had done something remarkable this year on their own, and they needed to be treated with respect as well.”

The documentary includes interviews with LL Cool J and Jennifer Hudson, who performed a heartfelt tribute to Houston. It also includes rehearsal footage and interviews with Springsteen and Grohl, who said performing alongside McCartney was unforgettable.

Springsteen joked that he had “been waiting since 1964” for the opportunity to play with the former Beatle. Grohl said sharing the stage with such icons was like “looking at Mount Rushmore.”

February’s Grammy Awards drew nearly 40 million viewers, its second largest audience ever. The biggest Grammy audience — more than 43 million viewers — came in 1984, when Michael Jackson won a record eight awards for Thriller.

Will Smith Talks of ‘I Am Legend’ Sequel

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 9, 2012) *The success of
Will Smith’s 2007 apocalyptic flick, “I Am Legend” was such a blockbuster that the filmmakers have decided to pursue a sequel.

The actor told BBC News the movie is being worked on right now, but without him.

“Producers are working on it,” Smith told BBC News. “I’m not actually working on it. If it’s great, I’m into it.” When asked if there was a good chance he’d reconsider, Smith confesses, “Probably not.”

Besides the fact that he unassumingly dies at the end of the movie, he’s not interested in making any more sequels.

“I don’t want to be the sequel guy,” he recently said. “I figure I’ve got about six or seven more years where I can run and jump a little bit and then I’m going butt and gut for the rest of my career. Butt and gut,” he joked

That said, Smith isn’t ruling out a “Men in Black 4″ (or “Bad Boys 3″ and “Hancock 2,” for that matter). He would consider the projects only if there was a “groundswell of support” from fans and if, in the case of “MiB 3,” “people love this one.”

Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman talks Tom Cruise

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Jun 13, 2012) Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman didn’t let a little thing like a having a plastic kiddie chair stuck to his backside ruin his first meeting with Tom Cruise, future star of his movie version of the Broadway hit, which opens Friday.

“I had met Tom at Adam Sandler’s daughter’s first birthday party and I was in a little arts and crafts area in the backyard sitting on a toddler seat drawing with my niece,” Shankman recalled. Cruise also pulled up a kiddie chair, introduced himself and told Shankman how much his family loved the director’s made-in-Toronto movie musical Hairspray.

“My head almost blew up!” Shankman laughed as he sat in a decidedly more comfy chair in a quiet corner of the spa at the Trump International Hotel on a brief publicity stop in Toronto.

“I couldn’t believe I was sitting in a plastic toddler chair talking to Tom Cruise about filmmaking. I got up, the chair stuck to my ass and he started laughing and said, ‘When are we going to make a musical together?’”

Turns out the answer was 2012 and Rock of Ages, where Cruise plays burned-out late-’80s rocker Stacee Jaxx who belts out power ballads as easily as he beds groupies.

Shankman said he’s thrilled to have stars like Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin (they met when he co-produced the 82nd Academy Awards, which Baldwin hosted with Steve Martin), Malin Akerman and Paul Giamatti attacking power tunes in Rock of Ages.

Relative movie newcomers Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta star as Sherrie and Drew, the young dreamers who yearn for stardom while toiling on the Sunset Strip, circa 1987.

Hairspray got me a lot of credibility with actors,” Shankman added. “The movie was successful and the actors enjoyed what I did. Nobody else is doing musical comedy. I’m kind of the only one in the game right now.”

Rock of Ages has plenty of star power, but it wasn’t a huge payday for the big names, Shankman said. Everybody, including him, took a pay cut.

“This had the same budget as Hairspray and less shooting days. This was not a super-expensive movie and luckily all my special effects are my actors,” he pointed out. “Everybody takes a pay cut on a musical.”

Not only did Shankman direct, he also did some of the choreography, along with Mia Michaels. It’s familiar territory for Shankman, 47, who besides directing comedies including Bedtime Stories, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and The Wedding Planner, has done choreography on dozens of films. He started out as a dancer himself, doing music videos in the 1980s, and has been a judge on the TV program So You Think You Can Dance.

Like Hairspray, where John Travolta played desperate housewife Edna Turnblad and impressed audiences not only with his singing, but his return to dancing (with Christopher Walken playing Edna’s hubby and dance partner), moviegoers will discover a whole new version of Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages, said Shankman.

For one thing, who knew he could sing?

“He didn’t know he could sing!” said Shankman. “He just has this voice. He has a four-octave range. He’s the guy who wants to do everything and there’s nothing he loves better than a big challenge.”

There’s no trickery or dubbing, said Shankman, adding the star worked “very hard” for months with vocal coaches. That really is Cruise, covered in fake tattoos and poured into leather pants, singing onscreen. “He was very, very committed to the reality that under no circumstances would we alter his voice. It’s like him doing his own stunts. He has no interest in trying to trick the audience. There’s no 100 per cent with Tom Cruise; there’s only one million per cent.”

In fact, Shankman knew Cruise could play Stacee when he saw his “mind-blowing” transformation into foul-mouthed studio exec Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. He calls that role his “audition” for Rock of Ages.

He was also knocked out with Catherine Zeta-Jones. She plays the mayor’s wife, an uptight anti-Sunset Strip crusader, a cross between Tipper Gore and Michele Bachmann in a part that was written for the movie.

“She was chewing up the scenery,” Shankman said happily.

He wants moviegoers to abandon their inhibitions and get into the late-’80s vibe at Rock of Ages. “Just have fun!” Shankman said. And to prove his point, he said he’s working on movie studio Warner Bros. to add sing-along midnight showings.

“It’s supposed to be fun. Don’t stop believin’ — that’s the message.”


Laurence Fishburne and Tatyana Ali Star in Upcoming Canadian Films

Source: www.thestar.com - Joseph Hall

(Jun 13, 2012) *Laurence Fishburne is set to star in a Canadian sci-fi thriller that will begin shooting next March. Entitled “The Colony,” the flick will be directed by Jeff Refore, who also co-wrote with Patrick Tarr, Pacal Trottier and Svet Rouskov. It centers around a group of underground survivors fighting to get through the next Ice Age, while fighting off cannibalistic enemies. Another Canadian project set to begin filming soon stars Tatyana Ali. “Home Again” is about three adults whose childhood was quite lonely since they were outcasts. They were deported from Canada, the U.S., and England, back to their birthplace, Jamaica. But life at home isn’t easy and they’re forced to fight for survival.

::TV NEWS::    

VIDEO: Arsenio Hall in Talks with CBS for Syndicated Show

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 9, 2012) *Comedian
Arsenio Hall, who was recently crowned this year’s “Celebrity Apprentice” champ, in talks with CBS Television Distribution to launch a syndicated talk show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

If the deal goes through, Hall’s return would reteam him with CBS Television Distribution, the company that produced “The Arsenio Hall Show” from 1989-94.

Hall, who earlier this month defeated former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken to be crowned the winner of NBC’s Donald Trump-hosted “Celebrity Apprentice,” has been vocal recently about his desire to return to the talk show circuit.

Earlier this month, he told the ladies of “The View” earlier this month that it was like seeing an old girlfriend:

Reviewing The New Dallas

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(June 12, 2012) “Da-daa, da-daa, da da da-da daa da . . .”

It’s stuck in my head. I can’t get rid of it. And if the mere
Dallas theme is that irresistible, surely the same will apply to the resurrected series.

There was a time, in the late 1970s and early ’80s, when everybody watched Dallas. And I do mean everybody, all over the world.

But will they watch again? Based on Wednesday night’s pilot — the first of two episodes airing on Bravo! at 9 p.m. — I’d venture a cautious yes.

The “new” Dallas is basically the same old Dallas and, let’s remember, both old and new potential Dallas viewers are in roughly the same economic condition as we were back then: in a word, “broke.”

The only question now is has our resentment of the rich become stronger than our desire to vicariously wallow in these characters’ privileged lifestyles? Here I would offer a qualified no.

Just because we hate them doesn’t mean we don’t want to be them. Or better still, to see them hopefully suffer the consequences of all their greedy deeds.

But conspicuous wealth was only part of the original appeal. Dallas caught on the first time largely due to its Machiavellian plotting and dysfunctional dynastic dynamics.

And those remain quite gloriously intact, as buff second-generation Ewing cousins John Ross III (Josh Henderson), J.R.’s boy, and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), Bobby’s adopted son, inherit their fathers’ enmity — now over drilling rights within Southfork itself.

Additional plot points to follow, so a spoiler warning is now in effect.

All the attractive young people — and there are an army of them — may indeed help to draw younger viewers. But it just wouldn’t be Dallas without at least a few of the originals and particularly Larry Hagman’s ruthless J.R., who initially appears here to be barely aware but turns out, typically, to be playing possum.

Indeed, the only thing about the man that seems to have changed is the white hair and tufty old-man eyebrows that now extend like gull-wings from his brow.

Patrick Ewing’s Bobby seems to hardly have aged, though we learn early on in the episode that he may be closer to death than he looks.

Linda Grey, as J.R.’s long-suffering Sue Ellen, looks . . . well, exactly like any rich Texas matriarch would look 20 years down the road, which is to say, somewhat cosmetically enhanced.

Victoria Principal, once Bobby’s ex-wife Pam, would appear to be too busy with her various signature product lines to deign to participate. Ever. (Bobby is now married to Brenda Strong, who was the original Desperate Housewife, Mary Alice.)

Charlene “Lucy” Tilton, on the other hand, apparently had nothing better to do than show up for the pilot’s big wedding scene and is scheduled for other episodic appearances, as are Ken Kercheval as Cliff Barnes and Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs.

These names will mean nothing to the newer viewer, though that will hardly matter. It takes all your concentration just to keep track of who is who and why they all hate each other so much.

(You can’t tell the players without a scorecard. If you still have a Sunday Star kicking around, you’ll find the Ewing family tree we included to be very handy. You can also find it online at http://bit.ly/dallas20yearslater.)

Is the payoff worth it? We’ll have to wait and see. Judging again on the basis of the pilot, the melodrama runs as thick as it ever did and is rife with possibilities. These people will fight over who gets the last cookie, let alone the larger issues of running a vast family empire.

Indeed, from what I understand, Sue Ellen will ultimately run for political office, which adds a whole other layer of juicy intrigue.

One final factor can make or break this show, and that is its intrinsically serialized storytelling. More often than not, this works in a show’s favour, assuming the audience gets emotionally invested.

This show has so many characters I defy you not to identify with at least one.

And if it is the evil-as-ever J.R., or the fallen acorn, J.R. III, then I can only imagine what your own family dinners are like.

But I bet I know what you’ll be watching after.

Hot In Cleveland Is Hot As Ever

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(June 12, 2012) As Hot in Cleveland returns for its third season (Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CTV), Betty White’s Elka has a decision to make.

When we last left the girls, Elka’s wedding to Fred (Buck Henry) was interrupted by the arrival of ardent former suitor Max (Carl Reiner), and then — now here’s the unexpected one, both fictional and real — Don Rickles, back from the dead as her mobster ex-husband, Bobby.

That’s three of my all-time comedy favourites. Henry and Reiner, both accomplished feature writer/directors, are also the creators of two of the great 1960s sitcoms, respectively, Get Smart and The Dick Van Dyke Show.

And then there is Rickles, who guest-starred on both, and who is, well, Don Rickles. There never was and never will and never could be another quite like him.

This kind of casting is standard operational procedure for Hot in Cleveland, which was initially designed as a kind of “best of” ensemble piece, teaming White (Mary Tyler Moore, Golden Girls), Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me) and Jane Leeves (Frasier).

Prior guests have included former cast co-stars Mary Tyler Moore and Bonnie Franklin, and Malick’s “nemesis,” Susan Lucci, trading off with All My Children in a second-season sitcom/soap crossover.

In the ’80s, you’d have to watch Love Boat to find so many former favourites all on the same show.

As befits the first sitcom launched by retro TV Land, Hot in Cleveland is one-stop shopping for TV comedy heroes of yore. And of mine.

The draw? Well, for one thing, Cleveland is generally well-written, delivered and directed; though there were a few clinkers last season, their batting average remains impressive.

But when you come right down to it, especially after her renaissance last year, who could resist the undiminished comedic allure of trading barbs with 90-year-old laugh machine White?

“I think it’s probably a combination of both,” allows series creator Suzanne Martin. “I don’t think there’s anyone that doesn’t love to work with Betty, and want to work with Betty, so that makes it a lot easier when we make the phone calls to people.

“But I think the show’s fun and people can sort of tell that it would be a fun show to be on, and we’re very welcoming. So I really think it’s both things.”

If you don’t want the episode spoiled, stop reading here.

Tuesday’s show, as with so many of their best, spins around Elka but is funniest when it focuses on its “B” plot, the repercussions of the faux same-sex Canadian marriage (yay us) between Victoria (Malick) and Joy (Leeves), who were stoned on doggie drugs at the time.

The reaction is so positive it may actually win the “lesbian thespian” her faded career back — as long as she can convince Joy to keep up the pretense, particularly once she publicly “comes out” on a cheesy new View/Talk ripoff, The Chatter, co-hosted by a gamely self-spoofing Kathie Lee Gifford.

Elka, meanwhile, has made her choice and runs off with the not-dead Bobby, though not before sharing a two-day bath-sex marathon, prompting two of the best lines of the episode:

“I guess when you’re as wrinkled as Bobby, you don’t know how long you’ve been in the water.”

And later, when asked about her fascination with baths, Elka responds: “I like to be clean . . . and dirty at the same time.”

But as I said, the meat of this particular episode is the fake marriage, which starts to become increasingly real as the two start bickering like, well, like an old married couple.

It comes to a head — and the best-line winner — when they are leaving for New York for an audition with Martin Scorsese, and Victoria takes exception to Joy’s revealing ensemble.

“You’re wearing that?” she snorts. “It’s Scorsese, not ‘scores easy.’”

New Girl’s Jake Johnson Says Man Hugs The Most Surprising Part Of Fame

Source: www.thestar.com - By Alicia Rancilio

(Jun 07, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. —
Jake Johnson says the strangest thing about fame so far isn’t seeing himself on TV in Fox’s New Girl, or getting recognized in the street. It’s the number of men his own age who will ask for a photo with him alone.

“It confuses me a little,” he said in a recent interview. “We’ll have our arms around each other and I’ll think, ‘Our ears are touching.’ It’s not offensive. It just doesn’t need to happen. My brother is my best friend in the world and in our lives we’ve hugged 15 times. With fame, you can’t be that guy who says no. So, the surprising thing of fame is the amount of man arms that have been around my shoulders for photo opportunities.”

With anecdotes like that and exposure as Nick Miller, the unmotivated and surly roommate of Zooey Deschanel’s Jess, Johnson might have to live with more man hugs. The 33-year-old actor also has an independent film out Friday called Safety Not Guaranteed with Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation.

The film is based on the true story of a guy who posted a classified ad looking for love that also said he could time travel. Johnson plays a magazine writer who decides to write a story about the man who posted it.

He also has a film in development that he pitched with a writing partner which Steve Carell has attached himself to. If all goes as planned, Carell and Johnson could play brothers in the movie.

Johnson says he started out wanting to be a playwright like Sam Shepard or David Mamet. He recalled one of his first attempts at writing that taught him a big lesson about taking ownership of his work. He wrote “a very serious little one act play about drugs and children” that a theatre picked up to produce as part of a series.

“The director said, ‘We don’t need you around. Just come the night of the show and enjoy your work’ and I thought like, ‘Sounds perfect. If I don’t have to work, my man, I’m not gonna.’ So, my girlfriend and I, you know, showed up and the show starts and I’m like, ‘Oh, what a drag.’ So I turn to my girlfriend and I go like, ‘This one sucks’ and she looks at me like, ‘You’re an idiot’ and I realized it was mine. I went home, cried my eyes out and was devastated.”

He jokes about pitching ideas on New Girl to the show’s creator and executive producer, Liz Meriwether: “She’ll go, ‘What, Jake? I’m so tired.’ And I’ll go, ‘This is how it has to be.’ And she’ll go, ‘No, just say the lines.’”

5 Things Oprah Learned From Her 50 Cent Interview

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 10, 2012) *
Oprah and rapper 50 Cent have never been the best of friends … until maybe now since their recent interview pow wow thingy.

Anywho, the rapper once told the ladies of “The View” that he named his dog after the talk show host.

Oprah says her sit down with 50 Cent was “surprising.” Fans will see their intimate conversation in two parts starting tonight (09-10-12) on OWN.

Here are five things Oprah reveals that she learned about “Fiddy” that she thought were noteworthy:

1. He meditates regularly.

2. He received his mantra from Deepak Chopra, whose book he’s currently reading.

3. He was not allowed to use curse words in his grandmother’s house and still follows that rule.



Josh Young of Jesus Christ Superstar

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Jun 07, 2012) The entire cast of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production of
Jesus Christ Superstar are going to have an exciting Sunday night. They get to appear live on the Tony Awards (airing at 8 p.m. on CBS), performing the song “Superstar” from their show, which has been nominated for Best Revival of a Musical. But it will be an even bigger thrill for Josh Young, who plays Judas in the production, who’s nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. The Star interviewed him from his Manhattan apartment, fresh from walking his dog, about the highs and lows of being a Tony nominee.

Q. Josh, how are you feeling?

A. I am nervous. I am so nervous. Not about the award, but being on national television and singing. That freaks me out.

Q. Do you have a philosophy about the award itself?

A. I’m just going to assume I’m not going to win. I went in assuming I wasn’t going to get nominated and look what happened!

Q. What’s been the best part of the whole circus for you?

A. Meeting so many actors I’ve admired for years. The first Broadway show I ever saw was Des (McAnuff)’s production of Tommy and it starred Michael Cerveris, who’s nominated opposite me. The night the nominations were announced, he sent a handwritten letter to my dressing room congratulating me. Imagine how that made me feel!

Q. Is there a lot of pressure surrounding the whole weekend?

A. I don’t think it could be any worse! We have a two-show day on Saturday, then a Sunday morning rehearsal for the TV show. Then a matinee onstage, then back for the performance and the awards.

Q. Who’s going to be your support system that night?

A. My parents are going to be in the audience, of course, but my date is going to be my fiancée, Alia Rosenstock.

Q. What are you going to be wearing?

A. I’ve got a custom-made tux from Joseph Abboud. Shawl collar, two-button. No cummerbund. I’m told they’re out. I wanted to wear a long black tie, but they told me I should wear a bow tie. A real one. So now I’ve got to learn how to tie one!

Q. I know some people think it’s unlucky, but do you have a speech prepared in case you win?

A. Yesterday was the Theatre World Awards and I guess I missed the part of invitation that said I had a two-minute time slot for a speech. So I made one up on the spot and it went pretty well. It was heartfelt and it came right from me. If by some crazy chance I win, that’s what I’ll do again.

Q. Anybody you want to thank in particular?

A. I’ve got a list that goes back 10 years! But I remember my middle school music teacher, Bill Noce, who was the first person to tell me I should go into the business, and Claudia Carlson, who taught me so much at the Young People’s Theatre Workshop in Pennsylvania.

Q. Anybody from Stratford?

A. Everybody from Stratford! I owe everyone from Des on down such a giant vote of gratitude for taking a chance on me. I feel that my being here is kind of miraculous and it’s thanks to so many people.

Q. Any advice to the young actors sitting at home and watching you?

A. Focus and capitalize on what makes you different from everybody else.

Zdenek Konvalina Returns To National Ballet For Song Of A Wayfarer

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(June 11, 2012) Among the four men who’ll perform Song of a Wayfarer next week, former National Ballet principal Zdenek Konvalina is the only one who’s danced it before — but just once.

Konvalina’s many fans were disappointed when he left to join the English National Ballet in London last fall, but he and artistic director Karen Kain agreed to maintain a connection.

Konvalina returned to dance in the National Ballet’s Western Canadian tour last fall, appeared as the Prince in the Toronto run of Sleeping Beauty in March and is now back for Chroma and Wayfarer.

(The other men dancing Wayfarer include National Ballet principal dancers Aleksandar Antonijevic, Piotr Stanczyk and Guillaume Côté.)

Before he joined the Canadian company in 2006, Konvalina was a principal with the Houston Ballet, where Maina Gielgud was associate director.

Gielgud, who is staging Wayfarer for the National Ballet, was sure Konvalina would be perfect for the ballet’s Blue Man role and proposed it for a 2004 company gala. But first she had to convince choreographer Maurice Béjart, who guarded the work closely for his own company, to let Konvalina do it.

Having staged the work during her years as director of the Australian Ballet, Gielgud taught Wayfarer to Konvalina and fellow Houston principal Andrew Murphy, taped a studio run-through and travelled with it to Lausanne to plead with Béjart personally. He gave his blessing and recorded a video message of guidance.

“What I remember most clearly is Béjart emphasizing that although it’s a technically demanding work, the effort is not supposed to show,” says Konvalina. “What’s important is not the steps themselves but transmitting feeling.”

Béjart used the poetic angst of Gustav Mahler’s much-loved song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen to fashion a duet for two men.

Wayfarer was a National Ballet staple throughout the 1980s. Rudolf Nureyev himself danced it here with Frank Augustyn in 1987, but it’s been out of the repertoire for more than two decades.

As for Konvalina, he still has two months of the English National Ballet’s current season to complete, including July appearances as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake during the cultural component of the 2012 Olympics.

Kain has already invited him to appear in the revival of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in November and to dance one of his most acclaimed roles in December as Albrecht in Giselle.

“I don’t regret resettling in London, but I always hoped I could maintain a special relationship with the National Ballet of Canada,” Konvalina says.

Willow Smith to Play the Next ‘Annie’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 10, 2012) *
Willow Smith is budding as a young star.

The progeny of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith is expanding her horizon and will star in a modern day version “Annie.”

Will Smith, who is slated to produce the Sony Pictures project, also confirmed to Good Morning America that his “Men In Black 3” co-star, Oscar winner Emma Thompson, wrote the script for the contemporary “Annie” film.

A black Annie?

RELATED: Watch: Willow Smith’s New Video for ‘Do It Like Me’

Yes. The story will be set in modern-day New York and will feature music totally headed by Hip Hop mogul, Jay Z. This project is right up the rapper’s alley, being that he remastered the old “Annie” classic in “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).”

Last year Willow told People magazine that she wanted Brad Pitt to be her adoptive father, “Daddy Warbucks.”

Filming will begin in 2013.


Let Your Spirit Run Wild At The 100th Calgary Stampede

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Zosia Bielski

(June 12, 2012) CALGARY —As I heave my luggage off the carousel at YYC, I spot my first Calgary white hat. “It’s well-worn in,” says the owner, Lyla, an airport greeter nicely bronzed by Alberta’s gleaming afternoon rays.

I start my journey by leaving the city, speeding past the taupe burbs that have mushroomed all over Calgary’s foothills, to where the jagged Rockies pierce the horizon. I’m headed for Boundary Ranch, which offers horse rides through the Kananaskis Valley two hours outside Calgary. The vista’s all sunshine, moss-green pines and limestone mountains creased with lines of coal as the Kananaskis River rolls beside the highway. Deer and big horn sheep graze by the side of the road; the valley’s also loaded with grizzlies, coyotes and wolves whose howls you can hear at night – as well as elks’ cries as the wolves set upon them, one local tells me.

Pulling in to Boundary Ranch, I’m greeted by third-generation cowgirl Haylie Guinn. Her grandfather corralled wild horses in the valley and the original coral still sits on the property. He was also a Stampeder, competing in saddle bronc in the 1930s; Guinn’s father did the same in the 1970s. Put on a horse at an unfathomable one week old, Guinn was riding by the age of 4.

“It’s our heritage, so I think it’s neat for people to be able to experience that again,” Guinn, 30, says of the family ranch, which stables about 90 horses from May to October.

In her black cowboy hat, western shirt, jeans and boots, Guinn’s a bona fide cowgirl, but with a modern twist: When she’s not turning back to gab during my two-hour ride, she takes business calls on her BlackBerry.

The ride weaves up and down through the valley along wide trails cut by prisoners of war during the Second World War. The pines that surround us are more than 70 years old and hung with black and green lichen – “witches’ hair” Guinn calls it.

The perfume of thawing pines blends with the scent of the warm leather saddle, and it’s intoxicating.

Two hours later, I’m bowlegged and thirsty for a beer. I head into nearby Canmore, which exploded in 1988 after that winter’s Olympics. An affluent community of buff retirees, professional athletes in training and golden-skinned Australians working seasonal jobs, everyone appears to be in perfect shape. I watch them on a packed patio at the Woods, which also boasts a ridiculous view of the Three Sisters mountain range, still capped with snow. To complete the portrait, magpies swoop about, all azure markings and majestic pleated wings. Locals complain they’re the “seagull of Alberta,” but to an outsider, they’re magic.

Heading into Calgary the following day, I decide on a cowgirl self-dare for lunch: prairie oysters at Buzzards and Bottlescrew Bill’s, which hosts the “Testicle Festival” throughout the Stampede, luring people to line up around the block for the balls of castrated male calves.

“In Southern Alberta in calving season in the spring, part of the tradition is you fry up the testicles over the same fire that you use to heat up the branding irons,” explains Stewart Allan, owner of the restaurant, which uses an oven.

“When you’re blanching them, it smells like a wet dog trapped in grandma’s house. It’s brutal,” gripes chef Aaron Scherr, who goes through about 60 kilograms of the stuff every Stampede, which he likens to Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. This year, Scherr will do a “bacon-wrapped tender-groin” with whipped Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet corn succotash. Served up, the prairie oysters are sliced up into coins and taste like liver, only blander.

Having surmounted blanched testicles, the cowgirl treats herself to some shopping. Alberta Boot Company is the go-to for Stampeders, as well as cowboys like Robert Duvall, Brokeback Mountain-eer Jake Gyllenhaal and Brad Pitt, circa Legends of the Fall. The warehouse smells of leather and the walls are plastered with Stampede posters, some of which look like Harlequin romance novel covers. Behind rows of cowhide, kangaroo and alligator boots sits the factory, where women sew patterns and men hammer in soles. Some have worked for Alberta Boot for decades, and some of their machines, like the “leg and heel nailer,” are industrial beauties nearing 100 years old.

Ben Gerwing, grandson of founder Clement Gerwing, explains the perfect fit: They should be snug in the toe, lift in the heel and, most crucially, be comfortable in the width (some boots are available in seven widths). Today, Stampeders want a boot that looks beat up, “like you’ve had a Stampede or two already in it,” Gerwing explains. My eyes are drawn to a sandy, mid-calf suede pair, price tag $260.

I tuck my grey jeans into my new boots, a serious cowboy faux pas until last year, when the Stampede princesses successfully lobbied officials to let them wear their skinny jeans slid in. “That’s what girls are doing now,” says Gerwing, satisfied since the look showcases more of his boots.

Next up is Smithbilt Hats, where a cowbell on the door announces my arrival with a jangle. This is where the white hat, now a symbol of Calgary, earned its fame in 1948, when Smithbilt’s founder, a Belarussian named Morris Schumiatcher, outfitted a caravan of locals travelling to Ottawa for a Grey Cup in the signature felt cowboy hats. For the centennial, Smithbilt is offering a limited edition taupe hat made of pristine beaver felt; it sells for $1,500.

While the hat bodies arrive from countries like Portugal, the hats are crafted on-site in Calgary. Coarse hairs are sanded off with a Black and Decker sander (this is dramatic and involves sparks and fire), brims are pressed with machines dating back to 1889, linings are sewn in, and hat buckles are trimmed with felt discarded from the brims. Larry Glasgow then shapes the hats with steam, as he has done for 24 years.

“You come here, you can smell the steam. The whole romance of the hat business is kind of fun,” co-owner Bryce Nimmo says. He takes a tape measure to my head and tells me, “That’s on the small side. I’ve seen smaller.” I get a white wool felt hat rounded by a red buckle for $80.

Properly outfitted for Stampede, I head to the Palomino, a live music and barbecue hot spot that draws a deluge of tourists from the States, Britain, Germany and Australia. “We’re, you know, the token cowboy bar downtown so busloads of tourists come in to lose their minds. It’s what they want to see,” the Palomino’s Spencer Brown says.

The cavernous, exposed-brick building housed a furniture store for 90 years and is now filled with vintage salvage, including JD barrels and a tin-lined bar. The centrepiece is a one-tonne smoker: Shipped from Missouri, it was lowered through the roof with a crane. About 750 pounds of meat gets smoked in here nightly, including the Alberta beef brisket and pulled pork that fill the invitingly named “fat ass platter.” It delivers, piled high with meat, smoked grits, baked beans, coleslaw, Yukon Gold potato mash, Jack Daniels-doused apples and bacon-wrapped deep-fried corn.

High above our table, a pink thong dangles off the head of a carved wooden mallard, a testament to the booze-soaked bedlam approaching this July. “You do get the odd guy who asks you to hold onto his wedding ring behind the bar, things of that nature,” Brown allows.

Calgarians will wearily assure you that birth rates shoot up nine months post-Stampede. (Divorce numbers are healthy too.) Which brings me to Ranchman’s, “the place to be for dining, dancing and glancing.

Opened in 1972, it looks about right, a dank hall lined with neon signs advertising Captain Morgan and Bud. Past the bar sits an unnamed mechanical bull, built to buck 230 pounds of human flesh off his fuzzy back for $10 a ride. “He’s got these really brown eyes that are going to stare at you,” says Steve D’Arnot, a dance instructor who, along with Debbie MacKnight, a blond, 6-foot-1 stunner, have taught lessons at Ranchman’s for a decade, after they learned the steps here as patrons.

Tonight, the bull is stationary, and all eyes are turned toward a two-step lesson that is about to start. In a dance hall bathed in orange light and hung with disco balls and trophy saddles donated by rodeo winners, about 50 couples fill the floor. They’re all ages, and while a handful don cowboy hats, boots and western shirts, the rest look like they could have just ducked in from the office.

Two-step seems simple enough, but it’s a lot of timed shuffling and spins; D’Arnot moves my stiff frame around the room as I count out the steps, surveying my feet in my new boots. “Ladies, you should not feel like you’ve been in a washing machine,” he suggests helpfully. His advice for the gents? “It’s your job to make her look even more beautiful than she already does.”

The younger lovebirds stroke each other’s backs and joke about their missteps while the older couples focus on getting it right. As the lesson progresses, D’Arnot and MacKnight start sounding more like relationship therapists than line-dancing experts. “He may not have a sense of rhythm. Don’t listen to him,” D’Arnot cautions. “If you don’t feel it, don’t fake it,” MacKnight chimes in, as Clint Black’s Nothing But The Taillights pumps through the speakers.

Come Stampede time, there’ll be too many folks wedged in here to fit in any dance lessons – the bar is usually full by noon. For now, a herd of young, tanned and possibly grass-fed waitresses mill about in their Ranchman’s-issued black cowgirl hats: They’re training for July 6. Women will come in from all over Canada for the 10-day party, with waitresses and “tub tarts” – short shorts-donning bartenders slinging cold beer from tubs – known to make a grand in tips a night, easy.

“This gains momentum by the day – people get ramped up,” says MacKnight, herself a cowgirl transplanted from New Brunswick. “You go to Wal-Mart, there’s not a country western shirt left on the rack. It’s like cowboy Christmas.”

With Calgary’s blowout a month away, I leave the city a little more rotund (thanks, Palomino!), faintly bowlegged and ready to break in my new boots.


Hôtel Le Germaine Calgary: It’s Austin Powers-goes-Zen in the lobby with R&B, a spiral staircase, purple moulded couch and spacy chairs (Lemay Michaud design). The Superior Room offers Egyptian silk sheets under pure laine d'agneau blankets from France, big body pillows, Tivoli audio and a bathroom stocked with Molton Brown London bath products, a massive rain shower head and glasses printed with your room number, should you forget. Opened in April, the hotel’s Santé Spa is another draw: Canisters of jelly beans and almonds sit alongside orange-infused water outside a pane of black-out glass, which opens to a candle-lit corridor to the treatment rooms. Each of these is appointed with heat-adjusted, extra-long (and cowboy approved) massage beds shipped from Germany. One-hour relaxation massages ($125 for 60 minutes) do the trick; ask for the tangerine rose oil. A couple’s room is available, but the spa is also popular with achey business men, who want facials, foot and scalp massages. (899 Centre St. SW; 877-362-8990; germaincalgary.com. Rooms from $279.)


Argonauts Lineman Wayne Smith Sees Pre-Season Opener As Job Interview

Source: www.thestar.com - Bob Mitchell

(June 12, 2012) As far as Argonauts offensive lineman Wayne Smith is concerned, Wednesday’s game in Hamilton isn’t the time for him to get emotionally charged and look for some redemption against the team that cut him.

“I’ll save that for July,” Smith, 31, said this week at practice as he gets set to start at offensive left tackle against the Tiger-Cats in the pre-season opener for both CFL teams.

“I could care less who we play. It’s pre-season so you have to put things in perspective. It’s all about getting primed for the regular season and competing for a job. When you start looking at it bigger than that, you can get distracted. My focus is just going out there and executing and competing at a high level.”

But make no mistake — after several seasons of being a backup, the former CFL all-star has been given a chance to regain a starting spot with the Argos as the blindside protector of quarterback Ricky Ray.

He’s worked hard at training camp but the 6-foot-4, 305-pound veteran is being pressed by rookie import Stephen Good, 22, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound Texan who played college ball for the Oklahoma Sooners. His other competition, Chris Patrick, was traded this week to Saskatchewan.

Smith is versatile enough to play any position on the offensive line and starting the season there gives the Argos their much-desired all-Canadian O-line but he’s not taking anything for granted.

“The second you relax, there’s a million different things that can happen,” Smith said. “Good has come a long way. The second you relax, either you get cut or you get hurt. So you can never take your foot off the gas pedal.”

Head coach Scott Milanovich is also anxious to see Smith in game action.

“He would be in the lead (to start at left tackle) but the competition is still open,” Milanovich said. “He hasn’t proven anything to us yet in game situations. We need to see him under the lights when it matters against another team. But he’s done a nice job.”

Smith played all 18 games last season for the Tiger-Cats in a backup role in his second go-round with the team that made him their 2004 first-round draft pick. He had been a starter, previously in Hamilton and in Saskatchewan (he was traded there in 2007), until suffering two serious injuries. He ruptured an Achilles tendon in training before the 2009 season with the Roughriders and then suffered a knee injury in the first game of 2010 and sat out the rest of the season.

Smith insists he feels no added pressure dressing as Ray’s blindside protector.

“Wherever I play, I approach my job the same way,” he said. “My objective is to keep my man off the quarterback. My guy doesn’t touch the quarterback.”

As for his two serious injuries, Smith said he’s training much smarter now and not getting overzealous.

“Lightning just struck twice. Hopefully it won’t strike a third time,” he said.

Manny Pacquiao’s Loss To Timothy Bradley ‘Unfathomable,’ Promoter Says

Source: www.thestar.com - Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Jun 10, 2012) LAS VEGAS, NEV. —Much of the boxing world was still reeling on Sunday as the smoke began
to clear after Manny Pacquiao’s shock defeat at the hands of American challenger Timothy Bradley the previous night.

There was hardly a person watching inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena who did not believe that Filipino Pacquiao had won the fight, promoter Bob Arum describing it best when he said the split decision was “crazy” and “unfathomable.”

The faster and more powerful Pacquiao seemed to be in cruise control for at least nine of the 12 rounds, and Bradley himself made comments immediately afterwards suggesting he had not done enough to win.

“Can you believe that?” Arum fumed during the post-fight news conference, at one point describing the three judges as “The Three Blind Mice.”

“I had it 10-2. After I got into the ring after the fight, I went over to Bradley and said, ‘You did very well.’ He said, ‘I tried hard, but I couldn’t beat the guy.’

“This is crazy. You talk about killing boxing? All three scorecards you throw out. It’s not good for the sport of boxing.”

Judge Jerry Roth (115-113) awarded the fight to Pacquiao while C.J. Ross (115-113) and Duane Ford (115-113) gave it to the American, but the crowd erupted in boos after a contest the Filipino had appeared to dominate.

Ross gave Bradley the final three rounds and five of the last six. Ford scored five of the last six for the American. Pacquiao, who has claimed world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, ended a run of 15 consecutive wins.

While Pacquiao was stunned after suffering his first defeat since he lost to Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005, he took the decision with good grace and looked forward to a rematch on Nov. 10 at a venue yet to be decided.

“Don’t be discouraged about boxing,” the Filipino said after his career record slipped to 54-4-2 with 38 knockouts. “There’s always next time.”

However his trainer, Freddie Roach, was totally dumbfounded.

“I think they (the judges) had their eyes closed,” said Roach. “Something wasn’t right because what everyone else saw and what they saw were two very different things.

“I didn’t see that many close rounds. I thought we clearly won the fight. I am very proud of Manny. I thought that was one of the best fights he fought since the (Miguel) Cotto fight. I thought he boxed well.”

Roach was then asked whether he felt Pacquiao had perhaps paid a “payback” price after winning his previous fight, against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, on a highly a controversial majority decision.

“I’m not sure if our last fight had something to do with that,” he replied. “That was a very close fight and maybe controversial but I thought Manny won that. Did they hold that against us? I’m not sure.”

Arum scoffed at the suggestion, while adding that Saturday’s decision was much more of a shock.

“It was close, everybody said it was close,” Arum said of Pacquiao’s win over Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena seven months ago. “This wasn’t really a close fight.”

For all the controversy, though, the November rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley is certain to whet the appetites of the fans much more than their initial encounter, which failed to attract a sellout crowd.

Lewis Hamilton Races To Victory At Canadian Grand Prix

Source: www.thestar.com - Norris McDonald

(Jun 10, 2012) MONTREAL—Five years ago,
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain won the first Grand Prix of his career when he won the Canadian GP at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

Sunday afternoon, in brilliant sunshine and in front of a huge crowd estimated at more than 100,000, Hamilton drove his McLaren-Mercedes to his first victory of the 2012 season.

But the victory was much more than a checkered flag.

It was the third time he’s won the Canadian race — he won previously in 2007 and 2010 — and the points he earned Sunday put him into the lead for this year’s world championship, a title he first won in 2008.

He also became the seventh different winner in the first seven races of the F1 season, something that has never happened before.

Romain Grosjean of France, driving for Lotus-Renault, finished second and Sergio Perez of Mexico, driving a Sauber-Ferrari, was third. It was the second podium finish this season for each of those two young drivers.

The pole-position winner, defending world champion Sebastien Vettel of Germany, finished fourth in a Red Bull-Renault and Fernando Alonso of Spain was fifth in a Ferrari after starting third.

Nico Rosberg of Germany was sixth for Mercedes, Mark Webber of Australia seventh for Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland eighth for Lotus, Kamui Kobayashi of Japan ninth for Sauber and Felipe Massa finished tenth in his Ferrari.

Massa was as high as fourth early in the race but he lost control and spun out, dropping back to twelfth. He later called his tenth-place finish “a success.”

Both Alonso and Vettel tried to make it to the finish of the 70-lap contest, which took an hour and 32 minutes to complete at an average speed of 198.027 km/h, with only one stop for tires while Hamilton stopped twice.

It was the second stop that made the difference. Alonso and Vettel lost speed as their traction went away and Hamilton was not only able to catch them but to leave them in his dust with Vettel eventually surrendering and making a late stop for tires.

“What a feeling,” said Hamilton, who had taken two pole positions this season, at a media conference afterward. “This is where I won my first Grand Prix. I knew it would be tough (to win) but I loved every single minute and I am really grateful.”

The winner, who joins Nelson Piquet as winner of three Canadian Grand Prix races — only Michael Schumacher has won more of them with seven — said it was one of the most enjoyable races he’s ever driven.

“I could not believe it when I crossed the line. The feeling inside was like an explosion ... and that is what I like about racing.”

He praised his team for the two-stop strategy and said one stop would have been a mistake.

“I think the team did a great job with the pit stops and the strategy,” he said. “I was not able to do one stop; I think I would have fallen back. I think a two-stop was just right.”

Hamilton said a combination of things is at the heart of why he does so well in Montreal.

“It’s the weather, it’s the city and it’s the fans,” he said. “The fans are incredible here. There are very few places like this that we go to throughout the year. The support here has been incredible.”

Although it was Grosjean’s first race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve — he was in F1 briefly two years ago but only drove a handful of races — he cheerfully admits that it’s his favourite track because of the video games he likes to play.

“But it’s more bumpy in real life than on the X-Box,” he laughed. “But it’s pretty interesting and I already liked it before I got here.”

Perez was delighted to be back on the podium — he had a storming drive earlier this year in Malaysia to finish second — and said it wasn’t something he’d anticipated after qualifying 15th.

The winner of last year’s race, Jenson Button of England, had a terrible day and finished 16th in his McLaren, a lap down.

And Schumacher, a sentimental favourite because of his previous success here, dropped out on the 43rd lap when a flap in the rear wing on his Mercedes, which can increase straightaway speed when activated at certain approved places on the race track, stuck open and his mechanics couldn’t get it closed.

The team issued a public apology to the champion later — something that is extremely rare in the world of motor racing.

The race this year was a marked change from a year ago when it also set a record — for the longest Grand Prix ever run, a mark that will likely never be challenged.

A two-hour rain delay in 2011 meant the race went into the record books at four hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds, prompting the FIA (auto racing’s international governing body) to change the regulations to limit a Grand Prix to four hours maximum, regardless of the circumstances.

Although there were threats of disruptions and demonstrations at the Grand Prix, everything went off without a hitch. Montreal police did say, however, that roughly 30 people had been detained at Metro stations leading to Ilse Notre Dame, where Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located, because of what was described as suspicious behaviour.

Three Added To Canada’s Olympic Triathlon Team

Source: www.globeandmail.com - James Mirtle

(June 12, 2012) With the 2012 Olympics now only a little more than six weeks away, Triathlon Canada announced on Tuesday the final three athletes who will compete for a medal in the sport in London.

Triathlon athlete Paula Findlay on bearing the maple leaf at first Olympics

The additions to the team are Kyle Jones, Brent McMahon and Kathy Tremblay. They join Simon Whitfield and Paula Findlay, who had been preselected for the team last fall.

Headlining that group will be Whitfield, the 37-year-old from Victoria who is going to his fourth Olympics after winning gold in the event in 2000 and silver in 2008.

McMahon, from Kelowna, competed at the 2004 Olympics and has won two medals at the Pan American Games while Jones, from Oakville, Ont., was an alternate for Canada at the Beijing Games.

The women’s team, meanwhile, will consist of Edmonton’s Findlay and Quebec City’s Kathy Tremblay, who was on the Beijing team.

Findlay, 23, is a rising star in the sport but has been battling a serious hip injury the past year that has limited her ability to compete in the lead up to the Games.

“It’s been difficult, but I am progressing,” Findlay said. “It’s not ideal not being able to race very much. I’m doing the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt.”

The women’s event will take place on Aug. 4 and the men will follow three days later in London’s Hyde Park.

Olympics Struggle With ‘Policing Femininity’

Source: www.thestar.com - Stephanie Findlay

(June 08, 2012) PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA— There are female athletes who will be competing at the Olympic Games this summer after undergoing treatment to make them less masculine.

Still others are being secretly investigated for displaying overly manly characteristics, as sport’s highest medical officials attempt to quantify — and regulate — the hormonal difference between male and female athletes.

Caster Semenya, the South African runner who was so fast and muscular that many suspected she was a man, exploded onto the front pages three years ago. She was considered an outlier, a one-time anomaly.

But similar cases are emerging all over the world, and Semenya, who was banned from competition for 11 months while authorities investigated her sex, is back, vying for gold.

Semenya and other women like her face a complex question: Does a female athlete whose body naturally produces unusually high levels of male hormones, allowing them to put on more muscle mass and recover faster, have an “unfair” advantage?

In a move critics call “policing femininity,” recent rule changes by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body of track and field, state that for a woman to compete, her testosterone must not exceed the male threshold.

If it does, she must have surgery or receive hormone therapy prescribed by an expert IAAF medical panel and submit to regular monitoring. So far, at least a handful of athletes — the figure is confidential — have been prescribed treatment, but their numbers could increase. Last month, the International Olympic Committee began the approval process to adopt similar rules for the Games.

South Africa is ground zero of the debate. An estimated 1 per cent of the 50 million people here are born “intersex,” meaning they don’t fit typical definitions of male or female.

For female athletes, this may mean they were born with hyperandrogenism, a disorder in which they have hormone levels similar to those of a man.

Sometimes, the distorted levels result from conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes a hormonal imbalance in the body, while other cases are pure hermaphroditism, where women are born with some male reproductive organs.

Nowhere is the issue more taboo than at South Africa’s High Performance Centre, a world-class sport facility located on the pastoral grounds of the University of Pretoria.

Few in and around the tight-knit community will talk on the record, although one scientist at the centre, who requested anonymity for fear of losing her job, says multiple players on one female team have had their undescended testes removed.

Lindsay Perry, another scientist, says sometimes whole teams of African women are dead ringers for men. “In football, some of the other girls were on the other end of the spectrum, you’re like, ‘No way that’s a girl,’” he says.

Caster Semenya, 21, who lives and trains at the centre as unobtrusively as possible, remains the unwilling poster girl for the issue.

In 2009, she was at the centre of an international controversy after winning the 800-metre world championship with a scorching time of 1:55:45, by an astounding two-second margin.

Her competitors were quick to point fingers at the boyish teenager, whose muscular biceps and husky voice inspired snide remarks. “These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she’s not a woman. She’s a man,” said Elisa Cusma, an Italian who placed sixth in the race.

The gender investigation began after officials received an anonymous complaint. “I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being,” Semenya said in comments released by her legal advisers at the time.

The results were never made public, but Semenya kept her medal and was eventually cleared to race. She continues to prepare here for her first Olympics.

“She’s truly a hero and a leader and a role model in this country. I don’t think we celebrate her enough,” says Elaine Salo, an anthropology professor at the University of Pretoria who has a poster of Semenya on her office door. “What is athletics if not the ability of the biological body to extend itself?”

Today, Semenya is cheering on her teammates at the South African open championships — for many, their last chance to qualify for the Olympics. There is no need for Semenya to race. She easily qualified weeks ago.

Instead, she stands in the stadium aisle, posing for the camera. In the background, Rihanna is on heavy rotation. “It happens all the time, all the time,” she says of the photo requests, laughing. “I’m used to it.”

She wears a tight turquoise polo over her fit, feminine body. Relaxed, poised and, it must be said, pretty, the young woman with an irresistible smile is almost unrecognizable from photographs taken during the height of the controversy.

“I know she gets treatment. What the treatment entails, I can’t give the details,” says Danie Cornelius, a track and field manager at the university.

“We all accept . . . and she accepts . . . within sports you have to perform within certain guidelines, or else it will be chaos,” says Cornelius.

“She feels it’s something she has to do.”

When asked about her treatment, Semenya demurred. “I can’t really say anything,” she said, looking at the ground.

Since women began competing in the Olympics in 1900, their femininity, or lack thereof, has inspired the creation of gender verification tests.

In the 1960s, female athletes had to walk nude in front of a panel of experts who assessed their sexual credentials.

The so-called “naked parades” were abandoned and gender verification was eventually done using chromosome tests, until the IOC called for their discontinuation in the late ’90s, saying the tests constituted an invasion of privacy.

For a decade, intersex athletes were dealt with relatively discreetly on a case-by-case basis. Then came Semenya, whose phenomenal win forced an entire bureaucracy on the issue.

Dr. Stéphane Bermon, coordinator of the IAAF working group on Hyperandrogenism and Sex Reassignment in Female Athletics, says the prevalence of women with higher levels of male hormones is greater than most believe.

They have an “unfair advantage,” he says: “more muscle mass, easier recovery and a higher level of blood red cells.”

Dr. Myron Genel, an endocrinologist who serves on the IAAF’s expert medical panel, says the hormone test is complicated.

Some athletes may have excessive levels of hormones, but their bodies do not benefit from them — most are insensitive to the extra hormones circulating in their system — so the expert medical panel must conduct a clinical examination.

The tell-tale signs are illustrated graphically in the IAAF rulebook, a sliding scale on everything from sexual organs to lower back hair and breast shape.

“What’s been going on here, for over 50 years now, has been an attempt to modify and refine the rules so as to be fair but also to be scientifically accurate and appropriate,” says Genel. “We’ll get it right.”

This summer the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport is expected to release a paper on the IAAF’s rules and mandatory treatment.

Top-ranking Canadian sport officials are speaking out about their opposition to what they fear is another chapter in the checkered history of Olympic gender policing.

“We have a longstanding stance against gender testing,” says Paul Melia, the centre’s president.

“At some point we’re faced with the intrusiveness and degradation of privacy — the public outing of someone at a high-profile athletic event — and that doesn’t seem right,” he says.

Bruce Kidd, a prominent Canadian sport policy adviser who has worked with the cross-country expert committee on the advisory paper, says the IAAF’s test is “policing femininity.” He believes it should be abolished.

“It’s still the old patriarchal fear, or doubt, that women can do outstanding athletic performances. If they do, they can’t be real women. It’s that clear, it’s that prejudicial,” he says.

“Personal household and national income is far more relevant to performance than hormonal makeup,” he says. The countries with the highest GDP produce the most gold medals. The richer the athlete, the higher the likelihood of a winner, says Kidd. In other words, the salaries of your parents are a more accurate success indicator than testosterone.

“We don’t require this kind of radical equality for other factors that make a difference, so why should we single out this one?” asks Kidd.

Kristen Worley, a Canadian cyclist who failed to make the 2008 Beijing Olympic team, sits on the expert panel, advocating a more radical solution.

“What we’re trying to do, instead of having sport based on sex, we’re basing it on ability,” says Worley, who is also a transgender activist. “We’re moving away from the idea of sex-based sport.”

To most, dissolving the male and female categories is not a realistic option. “A lot of the discussion is wishing people could come as they are and be involved in sport,” says Karin Lofstrom, executive director of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.

On the other hand, she added, “it’s easy to say this (testing) isn’t right. But what do you put in place?”

Including more women on decision-making panels might help, says Lofstrom. They might fight what she calls a preoccupation with the “stereotypical feminine athlete” — the Anna Kournikovas of the world.

“If you don’t look like the perfect little tennis player, then you’re less a woman, and there’s potential to find some reason they shouldn’t be involved,” she explains.

“We haven’t conquered all the battles about women playing sport.”

Semenya is one of South Africa’s best hopes for a medal at London’s Olympic Games. Though she won silver at last year’s world championships, she is not clocking her gold medal time of the past. Two weeks ago, she placed eighth at a high-profile race in Rome with a time of 2:00:07.

The country needs a win to provide closure to a particularly traumatic three years for South Africa’s athletic community.

Following her investigation, officials at Athletics South Africa were found to have lied about her case, withholding important medical information from her and international authorities. Top executives were fired, sponsors pulled out and meets were cancelled.

“We’re a sport on the mend and we’re going to go places again; people are excited,” says Frik Vermaak, the new CEO of Athletics South Africa.

Doing right by Semenya is one of Vermaak’s priorities. “The correct message is she is a terrific athlete. That is the correct message. No more than that,” he says.

She is a female athlete, and is preparing to be judged as such, says Vermaak.

“Caster is not something out of the ordinary,” he says. “She’s a normal athlete.”


Given the scale of life in the cosmos, one human life is no more than a tiny blip. Each one of us is a just visitor to this planet, a guest, who will only stay for a limited time. What greater folly could there be than to spend this short time alone, unhappy or in conflict with our companions? Far better, surely, to use our short time here in living a meaningful life, enriched by our sense of connection with others and being of service to them.

Dalai Lama