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June 7, 2012

June enters with ... rain ... and more rain. Ironic since March, April and May were balmy and (mostly) warm. Would you rather the warm and sunny weather be lauded more appropriately now, in June? Yeah, I know - I'd rather that Toronto had longer, warmer and sunnier days period!

*SPECIAL OFFER FOR LALAH CONCERT: For my distribution ONLY, I have an offer of half price tickets - $20 each!! Please email your name to the promoter directly for the discounted tickets HERE to be put on the discount list - *IMPORTANT: You MUST bring 2 pieces of ID to get the tickets at the discounted rate. Lalah here we come!

Lalah Hathaway
is coming to Toronto this Sunday, June 10th at the Courthouse! Don't wait to get your discounted tickets because this hot concert is also at one of the most majestic venues in Toronto - don't wait! All details under HOT EVENTS.

And don't forget to go for dinner and a performance of
John Campbell whose CD release concert is on Wednesday, June 13th with some of your favourite soul tunes! Get on the soul train now and plan a night out with John at the Lula Lounge (come a little early and have dinner too!). See HOT EVENTS.

Of particular note this week, TONS of music news in MUSIC TIDBITS so don't just scroll by!

In this weeks news: Copyright is now charging fees to anyone who uses recorded music as part of a public event; Sophie Milman performs; the Dora Awards heat up in competition; and in the category of 'what was she thinking' is Erykah Badu's latest video (WARNING: ADULT CONTENT); 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.


JUNE 10:: Lalah Hathaway In Concert

Her name is legendary.
Her music is timeless.

Her lyrics touch you at the core.
Her voice possesses rich warmth that soothes your ears and holds you close.

She is
Lalah Hathaway. And she's coming to Toronto! Her tour has received rave reviews globally so don't miss your chance to get on board this soul train on Sunday, June 10th at the Courthouse (details below).

The daughter of the great Donny Hathaway, Lalah Hathaway made a good impression with her debut recording Lalah Hathaway in 1990. She not only displayed poise, confidence, and good technique, but was also versatile enough to do more than just light urban contemporary ballads. Her stage shows included jazz, pre-rock pop, and even gospel, and Hathaway later appeared on Black Entertainment Television doing jazz and fusion.

A trained pianist and vocalist, she is a graduate of the
Berklee School of Music and her career has spanned two decades. 21 years after the release of her first LP, her career continues to thrive. Lalah kept, and continues to keep busy by recording and touring with several acts including George Benson, Take 6, Marcus Miller, Rahsaan Patterson, Mary J. Blige, The Winans, Gerald Albright, David Sanborn, Carl Thomas, Angie Stone, Robert Glasper, Donald Lawrence, Eric Roberson, Grover Washington, Esperanza Spalding, and just recently, Prince.

In 2008, Lalah released her 4th solo album Self Portrait on the renowned Stax label, which debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s R&B charts, and to date is her most successful CD. Opening with lead single “Let Go,” the 12-track set is best described as a journey from heartache and pain to awakening and renewal. Self Portrait garnered Lalah her first
Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance with mid-tempo slow jam “That Was Then.”

Lalah understands who she is as an artist and continues to remain consistently true to her vision in song and lyric. Lalah looks to the future of music by embracing the zeitgeist of her present. "My hope is to continue to make timeless art for people…in a way I feel like my dad came here in part so that I could get here- and I am here so that he can stay here. I was born for this."

Danny Marks

Danny Marks is the current holder of the Toronto Blues Society's Blues with a Feeling Award for lifetime achievement in music and broadcast. This iconic rocker's roots go back to the sixties as a founding member of Capitol Records' group, Edward Bear. After a span as a journey man session musician throughout the seventies, Danny settled in to the club scene, establishing a cult following as a genre bender in music and humor.

A house band gig at Toronto's famed Albert's Hall led him to host his own nation-wide TV show, Stormy Monday. Through the eighties, Danny starred in CBC radio's hit series the Hum Line. Most recently, Danny Marks recorded two original music albums, Guitarchaeology and True, before paying tribute to Toronto's R&B roots with Big Town Boy in 2005. Danny's in his fifth year as the radio host of JAZZ.FM91's Saturday night blues show, bluz.fm.


JUNE 13:: John Campbell ‘Soul Impressions’ CD Release Concert

Adult contemporary soul singer/pianist
John Campbell releases his sophomore album "Soul Impressions" showcasing soul/jazz versions of covers from Phil Collins to Lady Gaga, from Pink Floyd to Bob Marley. With a voice like Seal and a delivery like Luther Vandross this album is already receiving rave reviews and the show is not to be missed.

Fall in love with new and timeless classics all over again with his unique and sophisticated arrangements of
Pink Floyd’s, Wish You Were Here, Lady Gaga’s, Bad Romance, In the Air Tonight, Superstition and many more. Joined by German-born, New York–based Anne L. (bass) and premier Toronto drummer Vito Rezza, audiences will experience soulful musical enchantment. Performing songs from his new CD Soul Impressions, John and his gifted trio will take you on a musical journey you won’t soon forget!

John says, “
I’m excited to announce the release of my latest CD “Soul Impressions”. It has been a long time coming and I’m thrilled to share it. I thought I would share with you my take on a few the hit tunes that have moved me and others. Songs that over the years of performing live have made “soul impressions” on me and those I’ve had the privilege to perform for. It was a joy to make, and now a joy to share. Much love.”

John Campbell has been working his magic for Toronto audiences for over a decade at the city’s premier entertainment venues. Putting his own spin on everyone’s favourite songs, fans have compared his rich baritone voice to those of Seal, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and Donny Hathaway and his piano skills to those of Ray Charles.

"It sounds amazing John!!! Wow! I just love it. Your voice is just stellar....great great job!!"
-Jann Arden, singer/songwriter

To LISTEN to some of John's music click HERE.

1585 Dundas Street West
Toronto ON, M6J 1T9
Door time: 7:00 pm
Show time: 8:00 pm
Admission: $20 at the door $25 with the CD
Click here to buy advance tickets
Green P Parking
For more information visit: www.johncampbellmusic.ca


Music Played At Public Events To Be Subject To New Copyright Fees

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Steve Ladurantaye

(Jun 01, 2012) Your funky wedding (and musical garage sale) just got a little more expensive.

Copyright has, for the first time, decided to charge fees to anyone who uses recorded music as part of a public event. That means anyone who plans on using tunes to get the party started will need to dig a little deeper before hitting play on the iPod.

The new rules include any event in which music is played – weddings, ice shows, street parties, circuses, parades and karaoke bars are all named in the official notice from the country’s copyright board.

“Recorded music is a vital part of the business model for many live events and, indeed, it is impossible to imagine a fashion show, festival, parade or karaoke bar without music,” said Martin Gangnier, Re:Sound's director of licensing. “[It]ensures that the recording artists and record companies who create this music are fairly compensated when their work is used at these events.”

While many of these events pay fees already, those fees compensate those who own publishing rights to songs. The tariff announced today is new and on top of what already exists, and will go toward compensating those who actually perform the music.

The notice from the Copyright Board sets out how much is to be charged for each sort of event.

- Fees for receptions, conventions, conventions, assemblies and fashion shows are determined by attendance. Less than 100 people costs, $9.25 per event. More than 500 is $39.33. Party animals be warned: if there’s dancing, the fee doubles.

- Any business that offers karaoke must pay $86 for fewer than three days a week, or $124 for the entire week.

- Festivals, exhibitions and fairs will pay up to $42 a day if there are fewer than 100,000 attendees. Any more than that, and the cost rises incrementally per 100,000.

- Circuses, ice shows, fireworks displays and light shows are on the hook for at least $61 a day, or .8 per cent of all ticket sales.

- Parades will want to count their floats carefully – each one that plays recorded music will cost organizers $4, with a minimum fee of $32.55 per day.

- Anyone playing music at an event on a street or in a park must kick out $16 a day, up to $111 every three months.

- There won’t be any music police wandering through wedding halls and critically eyeing St. Patrick’s Day parade floats as they slowly make their way up the street to the strains of the Clancy Brothers – the system relies on the honesty of those playing the music.

Re:Sound does employ inspectors, but would only undertake an inspection if complaints were received.

"This is a self-reporting process but we have a team of licensing professionals who work with businesses across the country to answer questions and conduct outreach. This includes field inspectors who help to ensure understanding of and compliance with the tariff," said spokesman Matthew Fortier.

Sophie Milman Can’t Hold Back

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(May 30, 2012) When it comes to her feelings Sophie Milman has no choice. She gives in to them.

Jazz divas are built this way of course. Streisand, Billie Holiday, Lee Wiley. They live the lyrics they sing. It’s what the crowd at Milman’s June 1 Massey Hall concert will expect from her, “that I’m connecting with my emotions,” she says. “So whenever people say, ‘please calm down,’ it’s impossible.”

With Milman this is more than an occupational prerequisite. It means survival as well. Losing herself singing sultry jazz romances set in plush imaginary penthouses helped get her through a restless, uncertain childhood as her parents immigrated from Russia’s Ural Mountains where she born in Ufa to Israel when she was just seven. Security concerns brought the family Toronto and Sophie to Forest Hills Collegiate Institute.

“When I first came to Forest Hills they saw a very scared five-foot-two blond girl walk in,” Milman, who was 16 at the time, says quietly. “Music was the outlet that perhaps helped me survive Forest Hills. Two months after I went there I was singing on stage. I began living from one music night at school and one exam to another. Otherwise there’d only be loneliness.”

Our conversation pauses at that point. Milman, now 30, had reached me by phone from her chic Yonge/Davisville home, already attracting media attention where she lives with husband Casey Chisick an entertainment lawyer. Her first CD, Sophie Milman, sold more than 100,000 copies. Her fourth, the recent In the Moonlight, is receiving positive reviews. Even Will, her huggable puppy, has received press attention. So things are good.

“In my personal life I’m loved,” she says. “Things are wonderful and beautiful. I’m playing Massey Hall for the third time. But,” she adds, “we all have demons which we’re dealing with.”

She points out that Miriam Makhniashvili — whose body, the result of the teenager’s suspected suicide, was found in February after being missing for two and a half years — was also an apparently lonely student at Forest Hills, just arrived from the Republic of Georgia, with a family trying to adapt.

“There are things you can’t bring up with your parents who’ve come home and are tired after working all day,” Milman adds. “With me, I’d go to the public library and take out jazz records. But with Miriam there had to be complete loneliness.

“You can’t understand what immigration is like if you haven’t immigrated yourself or haven’t studied immigrants. You can’t understand what it’s like when you are moving from one country to an entirely different country and you don’t have the money; when one day you’re here and the next day you’re thrust into a new culture. . . All those things stay with you. They’re what I sing about.

“A lot of the standards I sing throw me back to my childhood. They were the soundtrack of my life. Last month I played my first public show in Moscow and for an encore I sang the song (“The Prayer of François Villon” by Bulat Okudzhava) my mother sang for her mother, a song laden with feeling for the place we were all born. I find a lot of the material written today is disposable. I’m talking about a lot of pop, the new R&B. It’s all so thin. That’s why so many singers like Rod Stewart or Brian Wilson are singing old standards.”

The Milman image has been polished to a luxe gleam by others but the singer, who earned a commerce degree at the University of Toronto last year, has played a major role in this career-crafting. She gets to choose her material. On CD covers or publicity shots she’s the cool blonde with perfect, creamy skin, glistening red lips parted over brighter-than-white teeth. Conflating “dreamy” with “determined” here’s a look signalling a talent ready to fly in the same orbit as Michael Bublé or Diana Krall.

Such perfection is the result of a good many rough edges smoothed out, of course. After first attracting notice back in 2004 while appearing in the Real Divas series organized by Toronto pianist/radio host Bill King, Milman’s rapid-fire career stressed her untrained vocal chords requiring the entirely self-taught singer to seek out vocal training in 2011.

“I’ll also admit that on my first album I was mimicking,” she says. “I sang the songs in a way that was reminiscent of other singers.

“The way I now sing ‘Speak Low’ (on In the Moonlight) in different from the way Carmen McRae sings ‘Speak Low.’ ”

Starting with some vampish “ooo-ing” on “Do It Again” Milman puts her stamp on every note on Moonlight’s low key lineup of insinuating standards, bringing some extra oomph to the word “breath” in the song “Moonlight” and drifting tantalizing off-key on “wrong” in “So Sorry.”

McRea, who died in 1994, remains Milman’s mentor in a way. Ella Fitzgerald may have had the perfect jazz voice, but McRea invested drama in everything she sang on stage or did in life. “That’s what the singer is there for,” McRea once told me at her place in Beverly Hills years and year ago. “To interpret in her own way.”

Milman champions interpreters; in an age of singer/songwriters they “lack a lot of respect,” Milman feels. Each of her albums is an interpretation “of where I am at a time in my life,” she goes on. “I don’t put much analysis into doing an album. I go with my gut feeling, where my heart takes me.”

Castmates, Smash Hits Face Off At Dora Awards

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

(Jun 06, 2012) Director Robert McQueen's critically acclaimed, sold-out production of the sung-through musical for
Acting Up Stage Company has ten nods heading into Toronto's annual theatre awards

McQueen is up for Outstanding Direction, while six members of the cast will be largely competing against their castmates in the acting categories.

As there are no separate supporting actor categories for musical theatre at the
Doras, both Arlene Duncan, who played the titular frustrated African-American maid, and Deborah Hay, who played her Jewish boss, are nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor. (Both recently won Toronto Theatre Critics Awards for these same performances.)

Caroline, or Change faces just two competitors for Outstanding Production of a Musical, however: Seussical at Young People's Theatre, and I Love You Because at Angelwalk Theatre.

In the play categories, the front-runners are Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre) and Pamela Mala Sinha's Crash (Theatre Passe Muraille), which both lead the pack with six nominations each.

These two dramas are up for Outstanding Production, where they will be up against Obsidian Theatre Company's two-hander Topdog/Underdog, Tarragon Theatre's production of German play The Golden Dragon and Mirvish Productions' spectacular hit, War Horse.

Crash, Sinha's solo show about the aftermath of a brutal rape, is up for Outstanding New Play, where it will compete against Ins Choi's Fringe-hit-turned-Soulpepper-smash, Kim's Convenience.

The three other works up for Best New Play this year are: Erin Fleck's Those Who Can't Do, about a middle-school sex scandal; Evan Webber's Sophocles-inspired double-bill, Ajax & Little Iliad; and Tim Supple and Hanan al-Shaykh's One Thousand and One Nights, which played at last year's Luminato Festival.

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who recently won Best Actor at the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards for his performances as a Korean-Canadian convenience store owner in Kim's Convenience, is up for the same award here. He'll be up against Jim Mezon, who portrayed artist Mark Rothko in Red; playwright Michael Healey, for his two roles in comedy Clybourne Park; as well as Nigel Shawn Williams and Kevin Hanchard as battling brothers in Topdog/Underdog, which transferred to Toronto after an acclaimed run at the Shaw Festival.

In the Doras' indie theatre division, three productions tied for the lead in nominations. Theatre Smash's The Ugly One, Ahuri Theatre's A Fool's Life and Theatre Columbus's Christmas show, The Story, are all up for six awards.

VIDEO: Erykah Badu’s New Video: Art or Exhibitionism? (Nudity)

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 4, 2012) *The first time we saw Erykah Badu’s new video for her quirky version of the classic Roberta Flack song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” all we could say was “What tha …?”

Of course Madame Badu is no stranger to getting bucky naked. We all remember her nude stroll through the streets of downtown Dallas a couple of years ago for her video for “Window Seat.” If you thought she showed it all then, wait ’till you see what she’s showing now. Well actually wait ’til you see what her SISTER, Nayrok Badu is showing. It’s obvious Nayrok is very comfortable being filmed naked. And sister Erykah is very proud of her for doing so.

While, the intense video, from the rock band Flaming Lips’ new CD “Heady Fwends,” shows lots “tasteful” nudity, it’s not even remotely in the same class as Brian McKnight’s latest creative binges, but it’s also very NSFW!

So, if you’re ready, take a peek below and let us know whatchoo think.


Corey Hart To Play First Canadian Show In A Decade

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Patch

(May 31, 2012) When Corey Hart included “Truth Will Set You Free” on his 1988 album Young Man Running, few among his legions of fans likely realized that the song was intended as a gay-positive anthem of affirmation for anyone struggling with his or her sexuality.

For one thing, the Montreal-born pop star wanted it that way. He was intentionally cryptic in the lyrics of the soaring tune, couching the true meaning of its be-yourself-at-all-costs mantra in subtext.

The reason for the secrecy? Hart wanted to protect the close friend who had inspired the song, someone whose sexuality was a source of self-doubt and pain.

Now, Hart is issuing a dance floor-friendly remix of the tune, one which swaps the contemplative soft-rock of the original for an icy club groove and pulls those themes that coursed under the original’s surface to the fore with new lyrics inspired, in part, by the 1998 murder of gay university student Matthew Shepard.

And to make positively sure those newly prominent themes resonate, Hart — who willingly receded from the musical spotlight to raise his children — will mark his first Canadian performance in a decade during Toronto’s Pride festival.

“A lot of people on my first couple of recordings that I worked with closely were gay,” Hart told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from Norway this week. “I developed very close friendships with these people, and I saw a lot of pain, and a lot of suffering, and a lot of hiding.

“The gay aspect of this song was an important message that I wanted to send out there, especially being a straight man — I thought it was important to say this,” he added. “It was important for me to be at a gay pride event and to go out there and sing the song, and spread the message of the song because it’s a message of empowerment.”

But it certainly wasn’t a typical journey to get to this point.

The idea to re-record his 24-year-old song began with a modest, unsolicited email request from a DJ whom Hart had never heard of. Since launching an official website last year, Hart receives dozens of pitches each week from hopeful artists who want to remix or sample his tunes, and he almost always says no.

This request was different. For one thing, 1Love — whose real name is Paul Todd — wasn’t writing in regard to either “Sunglasses at Night” or “Never Surrender.” Hart was intrigued, but it wasn’t until he got to know Todd that he became persuaded to revisit the track.

While Hart remembers vividly that the request came in from an outfit called “Diamond Productions” that listed Todd as CEO, Hart met a different person once they began corresponding. Todd wasn’t a “successful Donald Trump-type” running some big production company, as Hart puts it, but a music lover from Kingston, Ont., who was driving a cab at night to support his four kids.

Todd told Hart how much the song had meant to him. When Todd was a small child, his father was killed by a drunk driver. His mother became addicted to drugs and alcohol and Todd — tormented at school, miserable at home — dropped out of high school at 16 and began a string of odd jobs.

Even though Hart was initially a “little put off” with Todd’s first attempt at tackling a new version of the song, their personalities clicked.

By then, Hart had pretty much made up his mind to issue his first single in 12 years.

“I became attached to wanting the song to come out, wanting the song to be heard — and also wanting to help him.”

Hart felt that Todd’s early remix didn’t have enough musicality to it, so he sent it to musician friends in Toronto and Montreal who added guitars, keyboards and other textures until the gleaming song found its pulse.

Perhaps more important to Hart was the opportunity to re-record his vocals with new lyrics, a necessity forced by a missing master recording.

“I felt (it was) necessary to take the song much further than I had in 1988,” Hart said.

He had been “very affected” by the death of Shepard, a gay Wyoming 21-year-old who was beaten and tortured before being tied to a fence and left to die. The public outcry that ensued eventually led to the revision of hate-crime laws in the U.S. in 2009.

“It really upset me,” Hart said of the incident. “It really was a sad statement of how we think we’ve come far, but when we really look at it, we haven’t come that far.”

Where the original song’s lyrics were intentionally elliptical, this version includes an all-new verse that renders Hart’s mission statement in perfect clarity: “Dream a place/ Where there’s no more crying/ Where there’s no more hiding/ No cruel maligning/ Shepard’s star surviving/ Set you free.”

Hart hasn’t released a solo album since 1998’s Jade, and while he acknowledges a self-critical streak — Hart says he’s “not a great singer,” citing his self-proclaimed tendency toward mumbling his vocals as his top complaint — he actually emerged satisfied after recording the new song in Barcelona in February.

“The truth is, when I listen to that song, I think I did sing it well,” says Hart, who seems to speak with an unguarded earnestness uncommon for an industry vet, particularly one who endured the rise and inevitable backlash of an erstwhile teenybop icon.

“I think you can hear empathy in my voice. And I was very emotional when I was singing it. And there’s a lot of — without sounding cliche — there’s a lot of truth to my vocal.”

Hart’s Toronto show will take place June 30, a free, open-air festival gig with the capacity to squeeze in 3,000 fans. More shows at more Pride festivities will follow, though Hart concedes some nerves about taking the stage after such a long time away, even allowing a little doubt to seep through as he affirms himself — “I know once the music starts, I’ll be fine. I hope.”

Hart might be more aware of the passage of time in his career than usual. Thursday marked his 50th birthday, a meaningful milestone for the singer.

“It’s definitely the new 30,” he joked. “It has to be. Because when I was a kid, if I thought about that age — that was like geriatric home.”

But “Truth Will Set U Free” is not meant to signal a Corey Hart comeback. In a note to fans on his website last month, Hart even warned that it could be his final single.

Hart originally stepped away from music primarily to focus on being a father to the four kids he shares with wife Julie Masse, the youngest of whom is eight. Even on this day, Hart — who says the pain he felt from never knowing his own father was another influence on “Truth Will Set You Free” — calls from Oslo, where his daughter, River, is participating in a tennis tournament. (He ruefully reports that she fell in three sets to a “tall Russian girl.”)

So while Hart clearly seems liberated by the new version of “Truth Will Set U Free,” his priorities haven’t changed.

“I’m devoted to my children and to raising them, still,” said Hart, whose family splits time between the Bahamas and Spain.

“So when I said that (on my blog), I may have been in a mood or a moment letting my fans know that this does not herald a Corey Hart comeback with a new album and a new tour. It’s isolated.

“Truthfully, I’m still Corey Hart, Dad, first.”

Kanye West Wants To Build A Theme Park

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(May 30, 2012) Kanye West wants to build a theme park.

The ‘Stronger’ rapper — who has previously ventured into film making, creating a women’s fashion line and opening a restaurant chain — wants to use his Donda design company to create a leisure resort that will “change entertainment experiences.”

He told GQ magazine: “What I want to do post-Grammys is I want to work on cities, I want to work on amusement parks, I want to change entertainment experiences or life.

“Something like if [late designer Alexander] McQueen or [filmmaker] Tarsem Singh was to meet the entertainment value of a Cirque du Soleil or a Walt Disney. With the Donda company, this is our first installation.”

The 34-year-old musician recently admitted he hopes his film Cruel Summer — which has little dialogue, a musical score and seven screens depicting different images — will revolutionize the cinema going experience.

He said: “When I was 17 and at high school, I made a painting that had seven angles to it, to create a 360-degree picture and now I’m 34 I created something similar.

“The way we work these days is like sensory overload. Normally when watching a movie we are on the phone or texting.

“Normally we have so much going on at us, this film represents that, as there is so much going on all the time.

“We constantly need more things to look at and the seven-screen experience represents the next generation.

“I was very particular about having the screens separate, where your mind puts the screens back together, the way you put memories together.

“I’m not the best director in the world, but I had an idea that I thought would be amazing to inspire people, like a dream of one day this being the way people watch movies.”

Yo-Yo Ma Delights Again With Depth Of Musicality

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(May 31, 2012) The world’s favourite cello player, Yo-Yo Ma, made a fine show of his prodigious talents with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall on Thursday night.

The showcase piece on the program was Edward Elgar’s 1918 Cello Concerto, the same piece he played at his first concert with the orchestra in 1979.

Despite hundreds of performances of this much-loved concerto over the intervening years, and the passage of more than six dozen albums filled with a wide range of classical and crossover music, Ma made the Edgar sound fresh and spontaneous.

The TSO, led by music director Peter Oundjian, made a fine accompanist, with Ma clearly in full engagement.

The capacity crowd lapped it up, pretty much guaranteeing the cellist who inspired the Music Garden on Queens Quay yet another return visit to Toronto.

The concert opened with Main Night Music: Voice in the Leaves, a work he commissioned 12 years ago for his Silk Road Ensemble from Uzbek composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky.

The atmospheric piece, redolent with exotic sounds inspired by the folk music of Uzbekistan, was a brave bit of programming.

Where usually the Toronto Symphony fills the stage, here were only nine members of the orchestra — all but one a principal — along with the cellist and conductor. But the nuanced intensity of the performance put a lie to the small forces.

Ma, playing as one of many, not as a star soloist, again revealed the depth of his technique and the breadth of his musicality.

The central piece of the evening was Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, born in 1940, during the second big European war. Its three dance-based movements showcase every section of the orchestra.

Where the Elgar is laced with shades of melancholy, Rachmaninov’s final big composition is tinged with menace. Oundjian shaped the music elegantly, giving it soft contours and teasing out gorgeous, burnished sounds from the orchestra. But the menace was notably absent.

This was a kinder, gentler Rachmaninov, in line with the overall theme of a golden musical evening.


Grammy Awards To Be Held Feb. 10

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(May 31, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — If you’re a fan of the Grammy Awards, mark your calendar for Feb. 10 — that’s when the annual event will be held next year. The Staples Center in Los Angeles will again be the stage for what’s billed as “music’s biggest night.” The nominations will be revealed about two months earlier on Dec. 5 during a live prime-time concert on CBS. This year’s Grammy broadcast was seen by almost 40 million viewers, making it the second most-watched Grammys in history. The broadcast was highlighted by Adele’s Grammy sweep and a tribute to Whitney Houston, who died a day before the event.

VIDEO: Lenny Williams is ‘Still In The Game’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 3, 2012) *EURweb’s Black Music Month Artist Spotlight casts a glow of approval on Lenny Williams, a man who is “Still In The Game.” Lenny’s unforgettable voice is the signature sound of ”So Very Hard To Go” from his days with Tower Of Power, and the soul classic “Cause I Love You” from Lenny’s solo album. Lenny Williams’ new single is titled “Still” and he’s delighting fans old and new. Lenny Williams is the past, present and future of African American music, and our appreciation grows for him, not only this month but for always. Any purchase of Lenny Williams’ music is a worthwhile investment, his voice is one of soul music’s natural treasures. “Love is what has gotten me through all of these years. I look for love and I surround myself with it. When it comes to singing love songs, one must go there, to know there. ” - Lenny Williams . Check out Lenny Williams’ super soulful and smoothed out new jam called “Still”: www.LennyWilliams.com Follow Lenny Williams on Twitter @LennyWilliams on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/OhOhLenny.

Rocsi Diaz and Terrence J Officially Say Goodbye to ‘106 & Park’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 2, 2012) *After seven years as hosts of “106 & Park,” Rocsi Diaz and Terrence Jenkins have officially announced their departure. For a few weeks now, only rumors prepared fans for a possible change with the program. But now it’s totally official. Terrence told the audience in a very emotional moment that the dynamic duo has decided to part ways from the show and pursue other career paths. “We have decided together that we will soon be leaving ’106 and Park’ as your hosts. This by no stretch of the imagination was an easy decision. But it’s the right one. It’s come after a lot of prayer, a lot of thought, and a lot of consideration,” Terrence said. “We had no idea–we can’t even express how amazing these seven years have been and how life changing they’ve been. We appreciate you guys so much,” said Rocsi. A final show date has yet to be announced, but like any great host, they’ll have a huge going away ‘party’ on the show.

Usher to Live Stream London Concert on Vevo

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 1, 2012) *Usher will launch his new album by live streaming his June 11th concert from London. The Grammy award winning artist will perform songs from his seventh album “Looking 4 Myself” at the Hammersmith Apollo. The live stream will be directed by Hamish Hamilton and shown live around the world on his YouTube /Vevo channel as part “American Express Unstaged.” ”I am excited to introduce my new album ‘Looking 4 Myself’ with a worldwide performance in such an innovative way,” Ursh stated. “It’s very exciting to interact with my fans from a global stage through ‘American Express Unstaged’s live stream. Be there on June 11.” This will be the ninth installment of the “Unstaged” music series and its first performance in the UK. Last October, Coldplay kicked off their European tour by streaming a concert live from the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid, directed by Anton Corbijn and watched by millions around the world. Tickets for Usher’s concert are now available for Amex cardmembers at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/amex and it will be livestreamed at 9 pm (GMT) on Monday, June 11 at www.youtube.com/UsherVEVO.

Measha Brueggergosman Announces She’s Six Months Pregnant

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Jun 04, 2012) Measha Brueggergosman is aglow with her good news — she is six months pregnant. Fresh from a season of Canada’s Got Talent and having just released her new jazz/pop album I’ve Gota Crush on You, Brueggergosman currently has her hands very full. On May 3, she filled in with one day’s notice for Adrianne Pieczonka who became ill and had to step aside for the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s performance of Verdi’s Requiem. Then she dashed back to Toronto where she’s been taking singing lessons before heading to Cincinnati to sing her debut in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess from June 28 to July 8. Well, Bess will be sporting a bump, Brueggergosman told The Star in an interview, something she had difficultly hiding during the last episodes of Canada’s Got Talent. “Thank goodness for empire dresses,” she laughed, adding she didn’t want to spread the good news until she had passed the early months of pregnancy. Last year, she had a miscarriage at the fifth month and lost twins. She’ll be giving birth at the end of the summer and the Cincinnati engagement will be her last for this year. Brueggergosman, who turns 35 on June 28, confirms the baby is a boy but will not divulge any names. She recently moved to Ottawa with husband Markus who is training to be a paramedic. She says, “Life this far has certainly been interesting.”

Drake invites Weeknd, A$AP Rocky and 2 Chainz To His Third Annual OVO Festival

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Jun 04, 2012) Hometown hip-hop hero Drake has nailed down a couple of the most sought-after young acts of the moment for his third annual OVO Festival.in Toronto. Local creepo-R&B auteur/Internet sensation the Weeknd and youthful Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky will shore up Aubrey Drake Graham’s headlining set at the Molson Amphitheatre on Aug. 5. Georgia MC 2 Chainz is also on the bill. Tickets for OVO Fest go on sale Saturday, June 9 through Live Nation. A price has yet to be announced. Although he’s notorious for turning up at other people’s shows whenever he’s in town, Drake — currently on the road in the States supporting last year’s Take Care with his 27-city Club Paradise Tour — hasn’t staged a hometown gig since last summer’s OVO Fest with Rick Ross and perennial pal the Weeknd. Eminem, Jay-Z and Stevie Wonder have turned up in the past, so it won’t be surprising if a big name or two show up on Aug. 5 out of the blue. Check www.livenation.com for details.

Ed Sheeran, Flo Rida, Kelly Clarkson to perform at MMVAs

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Jun 05, 2012) The 2012
MuchMusic Video Awards have added a quartet of performers, including former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, rapper Flo Rida, U.K. singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran and Canada’s own Hedley. The awards, which air live on Sunday, June 17 at 9 p.m., has already confirmed performances by Canadian stars Justin Bieber, Nelly Furtado and Carly Rae Jepson and Marianas Trench as well as American singer/songwriter Katy Perry. Electropop duo LMFAO are among the show’s co-hosts. Wristband giveaways for the show begin on Friday, June 8 at 6 p.m. at MuchMusic headquarters at 299 Queen St. W. Fans can also follow news on muchmusic.com and on Twitter @muchmusic.

Herb Reed Of The Platters Dies At 83

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Jun 05, 2012) BOSTON —
Herb Reed, the last surviving original member of the 1950s vocal group the Platters, has died. The group’s hits like “Only You” propelled them to stardom. His manager says Reed died Monday in a Boston area hospice after a period of declining health. He was 83. Reed was a Kansas City, Mo., native who founded the Platters in Los Angeles in 1952. Reed sang bass on the group’s four No. 1 hits, including “The Great Pretender,” “My Prayer,” “Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Reed was the only member of the group to appear on all of their nearly 400 recordings. He continued touring, performing up to 200 shows per year, until last year. The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Paul McCartney Confirms He’ll Close London Olympics Opening Ceremony

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 05, 2012) LONDON —
Paul McCartney has confirmed an Olympic-sized rumour, saying he’ll be the closing act at the London 2012 opening ceremony. Earlier this year the former Beatle disclosed that he was in talks to play a role in the celebrations. On Monday, he confirmed: “I’ve been booked.” He told BBC radio station 5 Live that he would be “closing the opening” of the games. The lineup for the ceremony, overseen by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle and themed Isles of Wonder, is a closely guarded secret, but many had suspected McCartney would be involved. The Olympic Games take place July 27 to Aug. 12.

Eric Benet’s New Release is ‘The One’

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 05, 2012) *The EURweb Black Music Month Artist Spotlight trains it’s gaze upon
Eric Benet, an enduring artist with a mesmerizing style. Eric’s new album signifies his transition as an artist who fluently segues into the next stages of his life and career. 2012 welcomes the project titled “The One.” ‘This time Eric introduces fans to his new music via a web series called “Track By Track.” Anticipation is through the roof over this release that drops June, 5th. Orders for CD’s and downloads are available now at amazon and itunes. Visit www.EricBenet.netfor details.

Fresh Festival’s Toronto Show Cancelled

www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Jun 06, 2012) Sad news if you’re a Toronto music fan nostalgic for New Jack Swing: That energetic wave of R&B hit big in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but a package tour built around the stars of that era — Keith Sweat chiefly among them — has cancelled its June 9 date at the Air Canada Centre. The
Fresh Music Festival promised Sweat, Guy, SWV and K-Ci and Jo-Jo along with comedians, dancers and rappers. Twenty-two upcoming U.S. dates — the nearest being July 20 in Detroit if you’re determined to catch these acts — are still on the schedule for now, but Duane Farley, the promoter and event director, said Wednesday that the Saturday Toronto date is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, including low ticket sales. Refunds available at point of purchase.

Lionel Richie Joins Boots And Hearts Music Festival Lineup

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 06, 2012) BOWMANVILLE, ONT. — Hello, country music fans — Lionel Richie has been added to the lineup for the inaugural Boots and Hearts Music Festival. The 62-year-old, currently enjoying a comeback after the release of his chart-topping country disc Tuskegee, is the latest addition for the festival, which takes place August 10-12 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Three-time Juno winner Terri Clark has also been added to the lineup, along with fellow new additions Danny Michel, Jaydee Bixby and Jason Jones. They join an impressive lineup that already included Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Alabama. Oscar winner Kevin Costner and his band are also scheduled to play. Three-day passes for the festival cost $219 while single-day tickets are available for $114.99. Kids aged 10 and under are free, while camping permits for the festival are also available.

Elvis Gets The Hologram Treatment Too

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 06, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. —
Elvis is back in the building — the hologram version, that is. Like the much-hyped Tupac Shakur hologram that debuted at the Coachella music festival, Elvis Presley will get the virtual treatment by the same company that made the late rapper’s lifelike hologram. Digital Domain Media Group announced it is creating a Presley hologram for shows, film, TV and other projects worldwide, including appearances. They’ve gotten the OK from Elvis Presley Enterprises. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll remains one of the most popular figures in music despite his death in 1977. No word on when hologram Elvis will make its official debut. Digital Domain is linking with Core Media Group, which handles various brands, personalities and properties.

::FILM NEWS::    

How A First-Time Filmmaker Captured Guillermo Del Toro

www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson

(Jun 06, 2012) You don’t have to be a Renaissance painter to understand the value of hooking up with a
powerful patron. And so when it came time for Jovanka Vuckovic — the former editor of Toronto horror-culture magazine Rue Morgue — to make the shift from movie fan to movie maker, it was only natural for her to seek out the right benefactor.

“My script was very ambitious,” she says of her first directorial effort,
The Captured Bird, which makes its world premiere this weekend at the Worldwide Short Film Festival. “It was my first film and I really wanted to make a splash coming right out of the gate. So I knew that the only way I could do it was if I got one of my famous filmmaker friends to get on board.”

Even in the horror-movie scene, it helps to know the right people. And since Vuckovic was out to make a dreamy but decidedly creepy tale of a young girl who makes some strange discoveries in a decrepit mansion, The Captured Bird would likely have invited comparisons with the eeriest films of Guillermo del Toro even if the Mexican director hadn’t agreed to serve as her executive producer.

“Of the filmmakers I knew, I thought he would be the one who was most receptive to something that was more like a moving poem than anything else,” she says. “I know Guillermo and many years ago I told him I want to make films someday — it’s the whole reason I do everything I do. I asked if he would help me and he said, ‘Of course.’ Fast forward seven years and I was ready to make this movie and I called him and sure enough he said, ‘What do you need?’”

Having his imprimatur on The Captured Bird allowed the film to be made on a scale that might have otherwise been impossible to achieve. The result is a $70,000, eight-minute film whose 40-plus visual effects involved six different companies in four countries. Among their handiwork was an eight-foot animatronic creature puppet and original paintings by legendary matte artist Deak Ferrand. The creative team would come to include three Oscar nominees, including Anastasia Masaro, a production designer renowned for her work with Terry Gilliam.

Nevertheless, Del Toro’s endorsement was a “double-edged sword,” according to The Captured Bird’s producer, Jason Lapeyre.

“Besides all the wonderful benefits, the other thing it does is really put pressure on you to make something that lives up to the standards associated with his name,” says Lapeyre, also a Toronto director with two recent features to his credit. “That’s something we felt continually so we pushed ourselves relentlessly. We know that if somebody comes to a film because his name is on it, they’re going to have certain expectations, not the least of which is an extraordinary vision.”

The last thing either of them wanted was a viewer to shake their head and ask, “Why would Guillermo associate himself with this?” Having gone through the “enormously time-consuming” process of ensuring The Captured Bird is as sumptuous and sinister as it could be, Lapeyre is confident that “it doesn’t seem like a mismatch.”

Others are apparently inclined to agree. Following its hometown premiere in a
late-night program on Saturday at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, The Captured Bird is slated to screen at seven more festivals.

Even so, Vuckovic was hardly feeling relaxed when she delivered a copy of the finished film to Del Toro on the set of Pacific Rim, the feature that has kept the director busy in Toronto for much of the last year.

“He asked me, ‘Can I show it to my daughters tonight?’ I said okay very nervously. When he texted me that night and told me he thought I did an amazing job and the movie was beautiful, I felt an enormous sense of relief. I think I slept for the first time in months!”

The Captured Bird plays the Worldwide Short Film Festival’s Night Shift movie marathon on June 9 at 11:30 p.m. at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.


There are plenty more good things in small packages on offer at the Worldwide Short Film Festival, which runs until June 10 at various venues, including the CN Tower. Here are some more highlights from the program.

Scene Not Herd: The WSFF’s annual survey of the coolest new music videos ranges from the ubiquitous likes of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” to lesser seen but equally ingenious clips for Grimes and Battles. (June 8, 9:30 p.m., at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)

Master Class with Jean-Marc Vallée: With last year’s dazzling Café de Flore, the Quebecois director established himself as Canadian cinema’s premier visual stylist. He’s set to discuss the art and craft of filmmaking with Richard Crouse. (June 9, noon, at the Isabel Bader Theatre)

Festival Award Winners: Unable to see every one of the 244 films at the WSFF? Then you can still catch the crème de la crème in this closing-night program of winners in eight categories. (June 10, 7:15 p.m., at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)

Denis Villeneuve Film Starring Jake Gyllenhaal Among 9 To Earn Telefilm Funding

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Jun 04, 2012) MONTREAL — A new Denis Villeneuve film starring Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal is one of nine new feature films to receive funding from Telefilm Canada.

The federal agency has allocated a total of $14 million in funding to the projects, which include eight English films and one French.

Villeneuve’s An Enemy, based on Jose Saramago’s novel The Double, tells the story of a teacher who discovers he has a double and seeks out the man.

The last film from the Gentilly, Que., native was 2010’s Incendies, which earned an Academy Award nomination for best foreign language film.

Other films to receive funding include director Jeff Renfroe’s The Colony, starring Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton; Ruba Nadda’s Inescapable, about a man who returns to Damascus in search of his missing daughter; and Jerome Sable’s Stage Fright, a horror musical about a masked slasher terrorizing a musical-theatre camp that is being billed as Scream meets Glee.

Director Sudz Sutherland’s Home Again, James Genn’s Old Stock, David Hayter’s Wolves, Tony Pemberton’s Buddha’s Little Finger, and Severine Cornamusaz’s Cyanure were the remaining projects to earn Telefilm funding.

8 Facts About Actor Boris Kodjoe

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 1, 2012) *One of black Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs is actor Boris Kodjoe. And while he may not have the career of others like Denzel Washington or Idris Elba, he has accomplished in his short time aside from being a heartthrob. But, aside from his marriage to Ari Nicole Parker, many don’t know much more about the former model. Here are 8 things you didn’t know about Boris Kodjoe: Read more at Essence:

1. Boris Kodjoe, 31, was born in Vienna, Austria to a German mother and Ghanaian father. After becoming one of the best tennis players in the country, he accepted a tennis scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992. He earned a degree in marketing in 1996.

2. Kodjoe’s career skyrocketed after he became a model for Ralph Lauren, where he booked 12 campaigns in his first seven months as a model. Read the rest of the list at Essence.

Intouchables: Touching On The Legacies Of French Colonialism

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Kate Taylor

(Jun 02, 2012) How many filmmakers can boast their work has been castigated by both the mighty American showbiz publication Variety and the ultra-nationalist French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen? Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano are surely the only two: Their hit movie The Intouchables (Les Intouchables), which arrives in Canadian cinemas this month, is a project both wreathed in accolades and surrounded by controversy.

The Parisian directors based the film on the true story of the relationship between the paraplegic French businessman Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his Algerian caregiver, reincarnating the servant as Driss, a happy-go-lucky Senegalese immigrant and petty criminal from Paris’s notorious high-rise suburbs who only applies for the job to get a stamp on his unemployment insurance form. In the film, the mismatched pair change each other’s lives as the demanding and depressive Philippe learns to lighten up while the irrepressible Driss learns to take responsibility for himself and others, but the depiction of the relationship has divided critics from audiences.

The film has been a massive hit with Europeans – 20 million people have seen it in France since it came out in 2011 – and earned actor Omar Sy a César, making him the first black ever to win France’s Oscar. Some observers have seen the movie as a metaphor for the country itself, with an immobilized France, old and white, reinvigorated by the ethnic youth of the suburbs. When asked about that interpretation by a journalist, the anti-immigrant Le Pen rose to the bait and denounced any notion of France as a handicapped nation needing rescue through immigration.

On the other hand, American critics have been very uncomfortable with the depiction of Driss as someone utterly lacking in cultural knowledge and basic manners – he disrupts an opera performance with loud, derisive laughter – and especially with a scene in which Driss entertains Philippe by changing the music at a staid party and dancing wildly to some funk. Variety called the movie offensive, saying it “flings about the kind of Uncle Tom racism one hopes has permanently exited American screens.”

Nakache and Toledano can swat away Le Pen as one would a fly, but they are clearly stung by the American reaction and spent much of a recent interview in Toronto explaining how the film should be seen in a European rather than American context.

C’est du politiquement correct,” Toledano said. “It’s political correctness with these Americans. You shouldn’t say this; you shouldn’t say that.... It’s true Driss has less culture; he has less access to culture. That is what the film denounces, with humour.… We were a bit shocked that a film that defended tolerance would be treated like this. There is an American naiveté, to see everything thorough the lens of their own culture. They had slavery, but can’t we ask them to see that we had a different history, a history of colonialism?

“And it’s the scene where he dances that won Omar his César,” he adds, “It’s an act of friendship, the guy has no arms and legs, so Driss is his arms and legs.”

Nakache and Toledano intend the movie as a statement about cultural co-existence, and found their story in a documentary about the wealthy Pozzo di Borgo, a French aristocrat who was rendered paraplegic by a hang-gliding accident in 1993 and then lost his wife to cancer three years later. He was rescued from despondency by an Algerian immigrant caregiver, Abdel Yasmin Sellou.

“We saw an incredible story between two men who never should have met. It was a story you never would have dared invent,” Nakache said. When the pair approached Pozzo di Borgo for the rights to his story, which he has also published as a memoir, he made one stipulation.

“He didn’t want to be viewed with pity, seen as less than human: He said make a comedy,” Nakache said. “It was a good thing, because we only do comedy.” (The pair work together writing and directing family comedies, including Tellement proches in 2009 and Nos jours heureux in 2006, both of which also featured Sy.)

They say they cast Sy as Driss because they wanted to work with the actor again, but the decision to turn a caregiver of Algerian origin into one who is Senegalese – effectively making the character blacker – has also been controversial. Again, Nakache and Toledano suggest that is an American reaction.

“In France, nobody even noticed. There’s no distinction there between an Arab and an African,” said Toledano, who adds that both he and Nakache are of North African heritage themselves. “They are at the same social level, living in the projects.”

North American audiences can now judge the French story themselves; a Hollywood adaptation is also in the works. Europeans meanwhile are still flocking to the original: the directors figure its appeal has to do with the freshness of a comedy about a disability on the one hand, and with the familiarity of Driss on the other.

“It speaks to people,” Toledano said. “They know a Driss, they see these big black guys in the street in Paris or Rome, but behind the stereotype the film shows his mother, his little brother, his neighbourhood, his context. We humanize him.... When they call us racist, they haven’t understood a thing we have said.”

MTV Movie Awards Emphasize Outrageousness

Source: www.thestar.com - By Cindy Clark

(Jun 04, 2012) Oh, yes, he totally went there.

Russell Brand got right to the point during his opening monologue as host of Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards. “I know the last time I did an MTV Movie Awards show I did end up marrying someone that was there,” Brand said, referring to meeting estranged wife Katy Perry at the 2009 awards show. “So I will keep my eyes peeled for my next wife.”

To kick things off at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, Brand joked about “vital issues,” including Justin Bieber, who “beat up the paparazzi. Well done!” He also took on new couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. “I admire Kanye a lot. His drunken stage invasion of the last MTV Awards show I hosted took a lot of pressure off me.” As for Kardashian, she “took a load of pressure off me with her world-record quick marriage. Cheers, Kim!”

And, in case the British comic does something to “jeopardize his green card,” he said, he was grateful to have someone “more unstable and reckless than me to do something crazy ... That someone is obviously Charlie Sheen.”

Sure enough, Sheen stood up to much applause.

“Of course, I’m actually here to promote Rock of Ages,” Brand said, giving a shout-out to his upcoming film’s co-stars, including Julianne Hough.

Jennifer Aniston, sleek and sexy in a leather minidress, took home the first golden popcorn of the night for “best dirtbag” for her performance in Horrible Bosses.

The Amazing Spider-Man stars Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield presented Shailene Woodley with the award for breakthrough performance for her role in the Academy Award-nominated film The Descendants.

For the fourth year in a row, the coveted award for best kiss went to Twilight stars and real-life couple Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. “Rob’s not here, you guys. I don’t really know what to do!” said Stewart upon accepting the award. She tried to coerce Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Taylor Lautner to the stage, but when no one took the bait, Stewart said she does “really well by myself.” She was also among cast members who accepted movie of the year award honours for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 at the end of the show.

Johnny Depp took home the highest honour: the MTV Generation Award. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry presented the prize to Depp, who “has reinvented himself countless times,” noted Tyler. He called the actor a “rock star in movies.”

The award honoured Depp for his contributions to the film industry and for entertaining generations of the MTV audience throughout his career.

The Black Keys performed a special rendition of their hit Gold On the Ceiling — and Depp himself got into the action, playing his guitar with the group.

Jada Pinkett Smith on Gloria the Hippo (‘Madagascar 3′) and Her Aura

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Marie Moore

(June 6, 2012) *It’s rare when a sequel can capture an audience and deliver that same element of
entertainment as its predecessors. But “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” does that and more. Not only are the same adorable characters Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), and Melman (David Schwimmer) are on hand but there are other fascinating characters such as the adorable circus bear Sonya and the relentless Capitaine Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand).

Gloria has always been my favorite so I began by asking Jada Pinkett Smith, who was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City to promote the movie, how she felt embodying this character?

“I love Gloria. The idea that you know she’s a lotta girl. And she loves it! And I try to give her that sass and that swag. You know it’s not necessarily talking about it but sometimes just showing it. That it’s about how you look at yourself and how you carry yourself. See I’m dealing with this issue very
deeply right now in dealing with romanticism in this next video that I’m doing that’s coming out June 19th in regards to human trafficking. Because it’s how most women and girls get caught up in this is the dream.

“[It’s] about the romantic dream that you’re going to find the perfect person, you’re going to find the perfect situation, right? A lot of times we give away our power in thinking we have to look to someone else to have acceptance for who we are. Right? And that our images of ourselves are based on how other people see us. And any time that you do that you’re going to be a very unhappy person because it varies too much. He might be happy with something that she might not be happy with. So now you’re stuck in the middle with trying to figure out who am I supposed to be? First is focusing on who are you happy with? What are you happy with? Because I think at the end of the day what she thinks and what he believes is nothing to do with your existence. And I tell you what: The moment that you understand your power, your beauty, your life changes. When we get out of expecting him to accept you, her to accept you, or anybody else to accept you, okay, because it’s too varied. It’s too varied but I tell you what is not varied is how you feel about yourself. And if you can carry that with you, you’re going to be Ok.”

It was now Smith’s turn to reveal her favorite character.

“I love the bear,” she enthused. “That is probably the most adorable aspect of the story line to me. I just I love it. I don’t get enough of it. That bear is hilarious.

Smith was then asked to explain to EURweb how she manages to so successfully balance career and motherhood?

“Because it’s not separate. I never stop being a mother and I never stop being an artist. Which is probably why my kids are so creative, because it’s not separated. You see, when I’m with my kids I’m creating, and I’m still a mom. And when I’m creating I’m still a mom. You know, it’s not like … I don’t wear two different hats. My kids will be on the set with me. That’s one of the reasons that I had my mom [on the set for ‘Karate Kid’]. I had that segment where my mother was on that because I was breastfeeding so she had to sit on that set. Like literally, like on a chair while I’m sitting up there doing karate she’s sitting up in that chair with Willow in her lap and walking Willow around because she can’t go anywhere because I’m breastfeeding. And none of my kids took a bottle. They would not take a bottle. Do you hear me? So they couldn’t leave my side for a very long time. And so I’m sitting up there doing Kung Fu, movie Kung Fu, but I still have to do the mommy thing. There’s no separation. You know, and if I’m at home with my kids and I’m feeding them, I remember talking to Latifah and she’s like, ‘Girl I remember coming to your house and seeing you dancing in front of them kids. Feeding them kids, rapping, and signing, and all that.” And I said, “That’s why, that’s how they got all that.’ I was like, ‘Nah, that’s just what you call good genes. You know what I’m saying?’ You get with the artist, you make artists. You know? So. Yeah. [Laughs]”

And the artistic aspect of it, Jada?

“I think that even now I’ve learned how to separate art from commerce. There are certain things I do creatively for commerce. And there are certain things I don’t do for commerce, like my music. I don’t do my music for commerce at all. I do that just to be creative. I separate that from business completely. That is strictly art creating. So depending on what I’m trying to achieve really depends on how I will approach something from a business standpoint. So it’s like ‘How do I get masses of people to gravitate to this particular project?’ So then you have to strategize creatively and you have to strategize business wise also. Like what A partnership gives you. Take for example ‘Fela.’ Jay-Z came to us about that particular project. So here you have three very recognizable African Americans that are behind this Broadway show, you know what I mean?

“When you look at it from a business point of view, for us, that’s something that we did creatively and something we did for business as well. So we joined forces. And I have to say, one of the things that I love about Jay-Z and the relationship we have with him business wise, I think Rock Nation and Overbrook Entertainment are probably the only two African American entertainment groups that I know of that merge together all the time on all kinds of different projects. And we always have such wonderful success. And I’m hoping that will set an example for African Americans; we don’t always have to be in competition. You know what I’m saying? There’s more power in numbers. That goes for everybody. I’ve learned that in my experience over the years to be really able to create alliances on the business side, to encourage growth and prosperity for everybody.”

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” opens this weekend in theaters throughout North America.

AUDIO and VIDEO: Macy Gray Lauds Lee Daniels for Expanding her ‘Paperboy’ Role

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 6, 2012) *
Macy Gray makes her first big screen appearance since 2010’s “For Colored Girls” in the forthcoming Lee Daniels’ film “The Paperboy.” The movie follows reporter Ward James (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother Jack James (Zac Efron) as they travel to the deep south to investigate events that may have sent the wrong man to death row.

The film, opening nationwide this fall, is based on Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel “The Paperboy,” but as previously reported, Daniels took a few liberties with the adaptation. He cast a black man in the role of a character written as a white man in the book, and he stretched out the role of Anita — the James family’s maid played by Gray.

Unlike the book, Anita serves as the narrator, opening the film by recounting the James brothers’ story to an interviewer. She tells how Ward James is digging into the case of death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), and the shenanigans of his trashy fiancé Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman).

Because Ward James’s assistant Yardley has been written as a dapper black Englishman played by David Oyelowo, Yardley’s skin color predictably agitates the backwater locals.

“It’s so many things in the movie that are under the surface,” Gray said during “Paperboy’s” press conference at the recent Cannes Film Festival. “It’s one of those movies where you’ll watch it the fifth time and you’ll see something that you didn’t see before.”

Below, Gray praises her director for adding the element of race to his adaptation of “The Paperboy,” and for
addressing the lack of substantive roles for African Americans by simply creating more.


George Lucas Names Kathleen Kennedy Successor At Lucasfilm

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(Jun 01, 2012) SAN FRANCISCO — Filmmaker George Lucas has named veteran producer Kathleen Kennedy as his co-chair and successor at the iconic film studio he founded. Lucasfilm Ltd. said Friday that Kennedy and Lucas will serve as board co-chairs as the Star Wars creator moves forward with his retirement plans. Officials say Lucas will continue as CEO and work with Kennedy as she transitions into her new role at the San Francisco-based company. Lucas says he chose Kennedy as his successor because he was looking for “someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies.” Officials say Kennedy will step down from her role at The Kennedy/Marshall Co., where she has worked with Steven Spielberg to produce many blockbuster films, including the Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park movies.

::TV NEWS::     

VIDEO: Paris Jackson Interviews with Oprah About Father’s Death

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 6, 2012) *Three years after his death, the 14-year-old daughter of Michael Jackson is sharing some
intimate moments about her life with him in an interview with Oprah.

Paris Jackson will be the next big feature on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” this Sunday.

The pair discusses how the teen has coped with the grief of her father’s passing.

“It never gets easier,” Paris says in a promotional spot aired by OWN, which also shows Winfrey asking if Michael Jackson wanted her to have “a quote ‘normal’ life.”

“Oprah’s Next Chapter,” which also will include an interview with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, will air at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday on OWN.

Check out the promo for the show:


David Mainse, Host Of 100 Huntley Street, Celebrates 50 Years On TV

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Jun 02, 2012) A five-year run on television is considered a miracle. David Mainse has reached TV’s exclusive 50-year club and says he can thank somebody upstairs — way upstairs.

The televangelist and founder of
100 Huntley Street is marking 50 years this month with a return to Burlington broadcast centre Crossroads, home of the CTS network. The television facility, adjacent to Mainse’s ministry centre, is marking the occasion with a summer-long open house, on now through mid-September.

In an era where TV specialty channels multiply like loaves and fishes, a faith-based broadcast ministry sounds almost quaint. Mainse has seen religious programming in Canada span from 15-minute “Moments of Meditation” to the religious fervour of American right-wing Christian broadcasts. He suffered through the ’80s scandals of PTL Club founders Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker as well as Jimmy Swaggart’s descent into TV hell.

“I’m tired of talking about the two Jimmys,” says Mainse, who long ago learned to parse preacher speak into sound bites. “What I want to talk about is Jesus.”

It all began for Mainse, not at a small, 5000-watt radio station in Fresno as it did for Ted Baxter, but at a long-defunct Pembroke, Ont., TV station call CHOV.

Mainse, whose father was a minister, was looking for a way to promote the family ministry as well as his wife’s brothers’ gospel group, The King’s Men. The station owner told him, “David, I don’t want any religion on my television station,” instructing him to showcase the singers but “no preaching.” Mainse snuck it all in anyway (“it’s amazing what you can get into an introduction of a song”), offering small parables in a folksy, neighbourly style. Called Crossroads, the 15-minute broadcast fell between the Saturday news and the late movie.

The show cost Mainse $55 a week, which doesn’t sound like much but, as he points out, it was two weeks’ wages at the time.

Mainse overcame the jitters of early TV by convincing himself he was simply having a conversation with a member of his flock. He’s been doing the same ever since.

By the mid-’60s, Mainse took his act to the CTV affiliate in Toronto where he hosted the “first ever explicitly Christian program that was carried on a Toronto station.” He credits CFTO boss Murray Chercover with singling Mainse out after scanning videos of Christian shows across Canada.

The only other religious shows in Canada at the time were on Sunday mornings on CBC, recalls Mainse, who felt “Christians aren’t just a Sunday morning people.”

A lack of religious programming on the public broadcaster is disappointing, says Mainse, especially considering CBC’s original mandate was almost to act as God’s media referee. “They were created because the Roman Catholics, Jarvis Street Baptists and Jehovah Witnesses all had radio programs in the ’20s, and they were always saying nasty things about each other,” insists Mainse. The name-calling gave the federal government the political will to shut them down and create the CBC, which Mainse maintains was “created to take care of the religious needs of Canadians. Unquote.”

Mainse, however, stuck to the secular world of Canadian private television. In 1977, he switched pews again with Global, then a floundering broadcaster barely surviving a rocky launch. He was offered a morning block of programming but at a steep price: $1 million annually. Mainse turned to his flock (donation envelopes are still tucked into Crossroads’ Compass magazine) and raised the money and more. He jokes that he saved Global in the process and there may be some truth in that; the broadcaster still airs 100 Huntley Street weekday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m., where it remains Canada ’s longest-running daily talk show.

Huntley Street has been a 20-year staple of her network, Global senior vice-president Barbara Williams says, “because it connects on a personal level through its content but, more importantly, through the congenial efforts of David Mainse.”

Friends in high places came in handy in 1998 when Mainse launched his most ambitious venture, CTS. The Christian broadcast channel airs Huntley Street as well as a mix of family sitcoms and mission programming.

Canadian cable magnet Ted Rogers’ mother was a big fan of Mainse’s Huntley Street shows, which is how Mainse landed the coveted channel 9 spot on Rogers Cable. “We’re even now and you can thank my mother,” Rogers told Mainse.

The CTS broadcast centre is a mini theme park, with an outdoor Old Testament Tabernacle, a replica of the Shroud of Turin and a brick facade that resembles the old Huntley Street neighbourhood. Old photos of Mainse with various guests and celebrities hang on the walls. One features Colonel Sanders with the caption stating he “made finger lickin’ good chicken. He also made his witness to Jesus.”

“We’re updating some of these photos,” explained the young missionary who will be among those leading visitors on tours this summer.

If the message and the environs needs freshening up the Mainse family are on it. The main studio is getting a complete makeover, upgrading the living room look that has been familiar to viewers the past two decades.

Mainse long ago relinquished control of his media empire to his family, in particular youngest son Ron. He winces when asked about allegations of a Ponzi scheme levelled at two of his sons a few years back. Mainse maintains they were victimized by a hustler and, while the incident was embarrassing, the family was legally exonerated.

A leukemia diagnosis has left him weakened and facing a summer of aggressive therapy, but Mainse says the 50th anniversary celebrations have helped lift him through it.

Asked about ratings today, Mainse says “I don’t have a lot of faith in polls.” He cites articles suggesting advertisers find CTS an effective buy. A check of last Tuesday’s overnight ratings estimates shows Global’s 9 a.m. Huntley Street broadcast pulling 54,000 viewers.

“We’re still a significant player according to the Global network,” says Mainse.

Richard Dawson, Former Family Feud Host, Dead At 79

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 03, 2012) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Richard Dawson, the wisecracking British entertainer who was among the schemers in the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes and a decade later began kissing thousands of female contestants as host of the game show Family Feud has died. He was 79.

Dawson, also known to TV fans as the Cockney POW Cpl. Peter Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes, died Saturday night from complications related to esophageal cancer at Ronald Reagan Memorial hospital, his son Gary said.

The game show, which initially ran from 1976 to 1985, pitted families who tried to guess the most popular answers to poll questions such as “What do people give up when they go on a diet?”

Dawson won a daytime Emmy Award in 1978 as best game show host. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called him “the fastest, brightest and most beguilingly caustic interlocutor since the late great Groucho bantered and parried on You Be Your Life.” The show was so popular it was released as both daytime and syndicated evening versions.

He was known for kissing each woman contestant, and at the time the show bowed out in 1985, executive producer Howard Felsher estimated that Dawson had kissed “somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000.”

“I kissed them for luck and love, that’s all,” Dawson said at the time.

He reprised his game show character in a much darker mood in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man, playing the host of a deadly TV show set in a totalitarian future, where convicts try to escape as their executioners stalk them. Saturday Night Live mocked him in the 1970s, with Bill Murray portraying him as leering and nasty, even slapping one contestant (John Belushi) for getting too fresh.

The British-born actor already had gained fame as the fast-talking Newkirk in the CBS comedy about prisoners in a Nazi POW camp who hoodwink their captors and run the place themselves.

Despite its unlikely premise, the show made the ratings top 10 in its first season, 1965-66, and ran until 1971.

Both Hogan’s Heroes and Family Feud have had a second life in recent years, the former on DVD reissues and the latter on GSN, formerly known as the Game Show Network.

On Dawson’s last Family Feud in 1985, the studio audience honoured him with a standing ovation, and he responded: “Please sit down. I have to do at least 30 minutes of fun and laughter and you make me want to cry.”

“I’ve had the most incredible luck in my career,” he told viewers.

“I never dreamed I would have a job in which so many people could touch me and I could touch them,” he said. That triggered an unexpected laugh.

Producers brought out The New Family Feud, starring comedian Ray Combs, in 1988. Six years later, Dawson replaced Combs at the helm, but that lasted only one season.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm in 1932 in Gosport, England. His first wife was actress Diana Dors, the blond bombshell who was Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe.

Cat Deeley Plays Cupid On Fox Dating Show ‘The Choice’

Source: www.thestar.com - By Alicia Rancilio

(Jun 06, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. —
Cat Deeley is so convinced that a love connection could result from the new Fox dating show The Choice that she jokes she’s ready to buy a fancy hat to have on standby for a wedding.

“We meet people in all different ways nowadays, on the Internet, through friends ... there has to be a possibility for something to happen,” Deeley, an England native, said in a recent interview.

The Choice, which premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Fox, essentially pairs real people with celebrities.

It’s like The Dating Game meets The Voice. Four stars sit in chairs with their backs turned to a non-celeb who tries to pique their interest. If the celebrities like what they hear, they turn around. The show has three rounds where the contestants are narrowed down until each star has chosen a date.

Cameras follow the pairs on their dates so viewers will be able to see what happened next.

Some of the celebrities who took part are Jersey Shore stars Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, reality star Rob Kardashian, actress Carmen Electra, model Tyson Beckford and singer Joe Jonas.

The chemistry between Electra and her date “was thunderbolt city,” Deeley said. “The chemistry was palpable.”

The 35-year-old Deeley says her ideal casting for the show would be George Clooney.

“He’s the most eligible bachelor of all time! He still hasn’t gotten married,” she said. “Also, it’s a way of me getting to the wedding.”

Besides The Choice, Deeley also hosts So You Think You Can Dance, which is in its ninth season and airs Wednesdays on Fox.

Both Dance and Deeley were nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Reality Series and Best Reality Series Host. Those awards will be handed out June 18.

Deeley said her success on camera is a surprise because she was “very geeky” growing up.

“I was told to be a lawyer or a doctor or an accountant and be sensible, have a sensible career. And I didn’t listen to anybody,” she said, laughing.

Now that her career has brought her to the U.S., Deeley said she misses her friends and family in England but loves the opportunities in America.

“I like the whole idea of the American dream and the fact that it’s alive and kicking, and if you’re successful, you guys are so enthusiastic,” she said. “I love being here, actually.”


Nelly Joins Queen Latifah’s New CW Show ‘The Next’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 4, 2012) *Rapper Nelly will join singer Joe Jonas as the final two celebrity mentors to join The CW’s upcoming singing competition series “The Next: Fame is at Your Doorstep,” from executive producer Queen Latifah, along with executive producers Dave Broome (“The Biggest Loser”) and Shakim Compere. Formerly titled “The Star Next Door,” the series will go on a nationwide search for undiscovered artists on the verge of stardom. Mentors Jonas, Nelly, pop legend Gloria Estefan, and country star John Rich will travel to where the talent is, immersing themselves in the lives and towns of these local performers and preparing them for the chance to represent their home city on stage, live, in front of America. “The Next” is produced by CBS’s Raquel Productions Inc., in association with 25/7 Productions, LLC and Flavor Unit Entertainment, Inc. The premiere date and time will be announced at a later date.


Stratford's Cymbeline: Like Game Of Thrones, But Slower

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

(Jun 02, 2012) No doubt, if William Shakespeare were writing today, he'd be signed to HBO.

Cymbeline has enough beauties, battles and beheadings to be adapted into a fine cable television series, a potential cross-over hit that could tap into the audiences of both Game of Thrones and Rome.

Indeed, the only problem with watching this late play of Shakespeare's onstage is that its labyrinthine, fantasy-novel plot might actually be better served out that way – an hour a night with occasional recaps – rather than as a three-hour marathon.

Antoni Cimolino, incoming artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, has taken on the challenge and staged a clear and coherent, if somewhat exhausting production on the catwalk stage of the Tom Patterson Theatre.

Cymbeline (played by reliable festival stalwart Geraint Wyn Davies), an early British king who reigned around the time of the birth of a superstar named Jesus Christ, is a secondary character in the play, but he gets the opening moment onstage here. “You do not meet a man but frowns,” he says, stealing the first line of the play from an unnamed gentleman.

Then he hops into a four-poster bed, is mobbed by all the characters of the play, and pulled backstage as he cries for his daughter Innogen.

It's a striking opening image in a story full of bed tricks and bizarre dreams – but if Cimolino means to suggest that what follows is all the king's nightmare, it is never followed up.

The play's heroine shows up shortly thereafter: Innogen, played here by an alternatively steely and swooning Cara Ricketts. This virtuous and loyal princess is in love with Posthumus (a quivering Graham Abbey), who at the start of the play is banished from the kingdom due to machinations by Cymbeline's scheming Queen/Innogen's evil stepmother (Yanna McIntosh).

Flash forward to Rome, where Posthumus makes a wager that Innogen is the truest lady in the world with an Italian seducer named Iachimo, played by Tom McCamus, essentially reprising his rakish role from Dangerous Liaisons.

When Iachimo returns from a trip to Britain with convincing circumstantial evidence that he has bedded Innogen, a heartbroken Posthumus sends his servant Pisanio (Brian Tree) to murder his once true love – which makes him just an inch more fickle and cloddish than Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing.

Pisanio, like the huntsman in Snow White, simply can't follow these orders, however – and he ends up helping Innogen fleeing into the wilderness disguised as a boy.

If this all seems a tad complicated, well, Cymbeline only gets more plot-heavy from there on in with secret potions imbibed, the discovery of princes living in a cave and an climactic battle between shirtless Britons and a legion of well-armed Romans come to tame the rebellious colony (thrillingly staged by fight director Todd Campbell).

The limitations of the Tom Patterson stage make most Shakespeare productions there look pretty much the same, especially since designers always try to make up for a lack of sets by weighing the actors down with period costumes.

Cimolino does make a couple of adventurous experiments with sound – Iachimo's whispers are amplified for his scene in the bedchamber, for example – and he paints an impressive picture in the second half near the end.

An aquila, the Roman standard shaped like an eagle, is carried down the stage by a legion just moments before the god Jupiter appears in the sky (in a dream of Posthumus's) astride a giant, animatronic eagle pointing in the same direction.

Cimolino's production could use a few more such enlivening visual moments. For the most part, he takes the text at face value, does little to smooth over its strange twists in style and lets his cast go about their business.

The true ensemble work that results is a mixed blessing – there are no standout, adventurous performances, but no weak ones either.

Rickett's Innogen becomes interesting once she loses her illusions and acquires an edge, but the bad guys are the most fun to watch. McIntosh gets to show her claws as the bad queen, while a grinning, neanderthal Mike Shara hams it up enjoyably as the moronic prince Cloten.

In smaller parts, long-time company member Peter Hutt brings Doctor Cornelius to dotty life, while relative newcomer E.B. Smith makes an impression as the earnest, noble caveman Guiderius.


Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Antoni Cimolino

Starring Cara Ricketts, Graham Abbey

At the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ont.

Cymbeline runs at Stratford’s Tom Patterson Theatre until Sept. 30.

What Lucie Arnaz Learned From Lucille Ball, Her Mom

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Jun 01, 2012) I love Lucie. No, that’s not a typographical error. I’m talking about Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of the great Lucille Ball, whose television series I Love Lucy remains one of the landmarks of modern popular culture.

Arnaz is going to be appearing at Roy Thomson Hall on June 4 as part of the
Unique Lives and Experiences series, on the topic of “Celebrating 100 Years of Lucille Ball,” because we’re nearing the end of the centennial celebration of the woman who was born Aug. 6, 1911, in Jamestown, N.Y.

But just as her father, Desi Arnaz, used to constantly tell her mother on the air, “You’ve to some ’splainin’ to do,” Arnaz has to tell us how she’s using her time for more than a session of biographical show and tell.

“I learned so much from my mother,” says Arnaz on the phone from her home in New York. “Not just about show business and how to survive in it, but about what really matters in the way you live your life.”

The Ball centennial has suddenly brought out all kinds of long-hidden biographical material on the comedian,
who died April 26, 1989, and Arnaz finds it fascinating.

“I just finished reading a bunch of letters from Marian van Black, her best girlfriend in Jamestown, N.Y. They were school chums and later modeling chums. She sent her over a hundred letters and Marian saved all of them.

“My mother was way more metaphysical than I ever thought she was. She kept saying, ‘I stop all day long to say I am so grateful for my life and my career.’ She seemed so happy in those letters. I didn’t see that woman. Too many years of the business.”

But don’t think Arnaz is one of these celebrity children who wallow in angst and point fingers at their parents for what went wrong.

Even though the Lucy-Desi marriage ended very publicly and painfully at the height of their fame, Arnaz won’t paint the past in shades of grey.

“It was a fabulous romance and a fabulous marriage that was destroyed by many things. The stress of success. My father’s wayward eye.” She laughs. “My father was Latin and had a lot of ladies on the side. They can be so charming these Latin men. Dad would come home and say, ‘Lucy, what’s the problem? They mean nothing. You know I love you the best.’

“And so my mother learned to live with it. That is, until it got into the papers too often.”

Another problem was her father’s drinking, but Arnaz says that only became an issue later on in the marriage.

“All Cubans drink and they can hold their liquor like crazy, until they suddenly cross a line when it’s too late to do anything about it.

“A lot of people thought my father drank because of trouble with my mother, or career pressures, but I think it was because of his own mother. He took very good care of her and she didn’t give anything back to him. It made him very unhappy.”

Arnaz appeared on one of Ball’s later TV series, Here’s Lucy, but during her summer hiatuses, took the advice of her mother’s former sidekick, Vivian Vance, and began a theatre career that she’s succeeded in all her life, most notably opposite Robert Klein in the original production of Neil Simon’s They’re Playing Our Song.

“You get your own career together and then you get your own life together and before you know it, you’re raising your own children. Was I as close to Lucy as I am to my own daughter? No. The times were different then. You’ve got to start early and get in the habit of opening up to each other. I have and I’m happy I did.”

But finally, why does Arnaz think the memory of her mother and I Love Lucy have such an enduring legacy?

“She left behind laughter. Why is a funny show something that people remember 60 years later and want to talk about? Because it was also about unconditional love.

“You can get into all the trouble you want but at the end of the day, someone is going to give you a hug and say, ‘That’s alright, I love you anyway.’”

Such Sweet Sorrow - Lots Of Tension, Too

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Kate Taylor

(Jun 02, 2012) In a studio at the National Ballet of Canada, a young Juliet struggles to time her glissade so that she arrives at the right moment in the arms of her patient but bemused Romeo. In the background, hovering watchfully, are the more seasoned ballerinas she beat out in the competition to dance the role on opening night.

That stressful scene is a moment from
Romeos & Juliets, a CBC documentary about the creation of a new Romeo and Juliet for the ballet’s 60th anniversary this season. Going behind the scenes with his camera last year, filmmaker Moze Mossanen encountered the career-making competition among five separate couples for opening-night casting. And, when Elena Lobsanova won that honour, he witnessed the tense story of a less-experienced dancer struggling to conquer a major role while a demanding director was creating new choreography up to the last minute.

“Their whole lives are devoted to perfection, to chasing beauty. My whole thing is to look for the underside,” Mossanen said, noting that he went into the dance studio with the very opposite agenda from the dancers. “They were trying to make everything perfect, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to see how they did it.”

No, he didn’t shoot a Black Swan at the National, but the first third of his documentary has a reality-TV flavour to it, as the five couples await word on whom Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will pick for the opening night. “Someone’s heart is going to get broken,” observes artist in residence and former principal dancer Rex Harrington, while Ratmansky himself states frankly that Romeo and Juliet need to be young and good looking.

After Lobsanova and her more seasoned partner, principal dancer Guillaume Côté, get the nod, we don’t see tears onscreen but we do see the increasing stress on the dancers – Lobsanova sprouts zits; Côté looks exhausted – and their choreographer. With only eight days to go before the premiere, Ratmansky tells Lobsanova and Côté quietly but bluntly that their death scene is “not very dramatic.” In another scene, Ratmansky appears unable to find steps to fill one sequence and asks Mossanen to stop filming.

“There were periods at the end when it was terrifying. It didn’t look like he would finish. He never lost his cool,” said Mossanen, who shot 65 hours of rehearsals and interviews to create the one-hour doc.

Artistic director Karen Kain had taken a risk when she commissioned Ratmansky, the most sought-after choreographer in ballet today, to create a new Romeo and Juliet for her dancers. Daring to replace the beloved John Cranko version of the 1960s, she also hoped to vault the company back onto international stages.

That gamble paid off with good Toronto reviews when the new ballet opened last November and an invitation to take it to the famed Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 2013, bringing the company back to London after an absence of 26 years. But Kain also took a risk when she invited the CBC to mark the ballet’s 60th with a film about the whole process, thinking this was a way to share the new Romeo and Juliet across Canada. Of course, she did not have television images of exhausted dancers and a frustrated choreographer in mind.

“I know how demanding the process of creation is. I was not afraid of letting people see that, but comfortable is not the word I would use ... I knew what we were about to undergo,” she says of that decision. She adds, now that she has seen the film, “I have to recognize what is good television and what springs a tale ... As an artist, of course I would prefer something that focuses less on the competitiveness, but it does portray the dedication and the struggle.”

Lobsanova was more surprised, and finds the final film, in which she sometimes appears painfully withdrawn, embarrassing. She preferred not to sit through a recent invitation-only screening at a theatre.

“I just wish they hadn’t shown the embarrassing parts,” she said of the tense rehearsal moments depicted onscreen. “I did feel that was happening, but I tried not to be affected; I tried to distance myself and therefore maybe I am more subdued ... [The documentary]captured my most uncomfortable moments.”

Côté is much more sanguine, agreeing with Kain that what emerges very powerfully are the highs and lows of creation, a painful but necessary process. (In the film, Ratmansky makes the same point – as he enters an opening-night party, his face flushed with relief.) “There were times that were hard during creation and they captured that,” Côté said. “ A year later, with some distance, it’s a beautiful process with all the ups and downs.”

For his part, Mossanen hopes that, in weeks or months to come, the dancers will recognize that if they seek perfection onstage, it is the revelation of their less-than-perfect struggle that will make a national television audience love them. “Some of the dancers were overwhelmed by how much the film shows about the process,” he said. “But the very things they see as problems are the things that make the audience put their arms around them and take them into their hearts.”

Romeos & Juliets airs on CBC, June 7 at 8 p.m.

Snow White: A Bold Reworking Of A Classic Tale

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Rick Groen

(Jun 01, 2012) There is fear and there is enchantment, the cornerstones of any classic Grimm’s fable. There is a compelling and even poignant villain who wraps her sins in a bodice of style. There is a flamboyant director who can’t stop showing off and has the talent to back up a goodly share of his boasts. Yes, there are many splendid reasons to see Snow White and the Huntsman – enough, maybe, not to care that neither Snow White nor the Huntsman rank high among them.

After the recent Mirror Mirror, which reduced the fable to a gormless accumulation of low camp, the title here testifies to a more aggressive take – wiping clean any trace of Disney’s “Heigh-ho” charm and cranking up the action to attract young males. To that end, the main casting is made to measure: Just recruit Thor, a.k.a. Chris Hemsworth, to play the huntsman, then entice Kristen Stewart off that Twilight gig to get all snowy and white. The formula seemed banal and the intention suspect. Surprise – it’s a whole lot better than that.

Indeed, Britisher Rupert Sanders (another director who came to features via the flashy TV commercial route) opens with a lightning-fast intro that owes more to James Frazer’s The Golden Bough than anything from the Marvel bible. It starts with the birth of the saviour child, destined to “heal the land,” quickly followed by her mother’s death from natural causes and her father’s from a dagger plunged deep to his heart. The blade is wielded on the wedding bed by his new wife, the blond and beauteous Ravenna, which gives Charlize Theron her first chance to purr with venomous purpose. Her purr is magnificent. “Men uuuuse women,” she whispers, just before putting that knife to its own lethal use. Point taken.

Quickly, the child grows into Kristen Stewart, who finds herself imprisoned in the castle tower – perhaps for her woefully failed attempt to forge a British accent. Of course, she escapes, prompting Ravenna to convert that whisper into operatic ire, all directed at her even blonder brother Finn. Her shout, “Have I not given you everything?”, hints darkly at one thing. The blonde on blondness, plus that incest allusion, rings a familiar bell, and when Ravenna dips her naked body into a bath of milk, the bell tolls louder: Suddenly, intriguingly, we’re in Game of Thrones territory.

Admittedly, at times, the medievalism threatens to tip into outrageous theatricality, but Sanders has a happy knack of righting the balance, of dipping into his bag of high style to impress us with wonders dark and light. Like the sequence in the dark forest when he disinters a terrible troll from beneath a stone bridge, only to have the monster tamed by beauty’s half-smile. Or like his travelling shot across a mist-filled lake to a village peopled entirely with self-mutilated women, their faces bearing the scars of their sacrifice – for them, beauty was a burden traded for male-less freedom. Or like the cathedral-light of the dawn in “fairy land,” when blue-eyed sprites awaken from the belly of a dove and Snow White ruffles the fur of a snow-white stag. Gorgeous.

As for the dwarfs, they’re portrayed by an impressive crew of veteran and full-sized actors (Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones) miniaturized by cinematic trickery. More important, the little ones are deployed less as a comedic troupe than a tragic chorus – when one of them dies, their dirge is a touching lament. Also, throughout, Sanders moves his camera deftly from sweeping panoramas to extreme close-ups, including one of our busy heroine’s dirty fingernails – a Snow White that Caravaggio would have loved.

Alas, the climactic battle scene, the storming of the castle by the forces of good, is a signal disappointment. But the figure of evil never is. Even when Ravenna is sustaining her beauty by inhaling the dying breath of virgins – apparently the Botox of the time – Theron somehow manages to humanize her. And when she doesn’t, Sanders races to the rescue. Watch for a stunning sequence where Ravenna morphs from an alluring woman in a feathered gown into a dark cloud of scattering birds and then back to a woman again, but bedraggled now, like the Black Swan tarred by an oil slick – her cursed beauty gone, and snow white winter night.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Directed by Rupert Sanders
Written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth
Classification: PG


All U.S. Teens Know Dangers Of Text And Drive, But Do It Anyway: Survey

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chris Michaud

(May 14, 2012) Virtually all U.S. teenagers agree that texting while driving is dangerous but nearly half admit they have done it anyway, according to a new nationwide survey released on Monday.

Three-quarters of teenagers also said in an online poll that texting while driving was common among their friends, and reported that their parents text at nearly the same rate as they do while driving.

The poll, conducted by an independent research firm for AT&T, was the second survey in a week to show teens agree that text messaging while driving was dangerous, even as many admit to doing it.

Consumer Reports said last week its survey showed that while eight in 10 said they knew the risks, some 29 per cent of drivers aged 16 to 21 had text messaged while driving in the past month.

With texting as teens’ main mode of communication, at an average rate of more than 3,400 per month according to Nielsen research, the implications are alarming, said Andrea Brands, AT&T’s director of consumer safety and education.

“We know that underreporting is always an issue, and even so we’re seeing staggeringly high numbers of teens who admit to texting and driving,” Ms. Brands said.

Some 97 per cent of the 1,200 teens surveyed said texting while driving was dangerous, with about two-thirds saying it was very dangerous. Yet 43 per cent said they had done so in the past three months.

Compounding the issue was the finding of what teens thought constituted texting while driving.

“The findings indicate reading a text is somehow (seen as) less dangerous than typing a text,” she said.

Sixty-one per cent of teens said they glanced at their phone while driving in the past three months.

Some 41 per cent also said they had seen parents driving and texting in recent months. Seventy seven per cent agreed with the statement that adults text while driving “all the time.”

Ms. Brands said that findings have helped the company respond with an it’s ‘It Can Wait’ initiatives. One aspect is a 30-city tour of a texting-while-driving simulator which was launched, mainly in schools last week. A computerized car allows users to text and drive virtually, providing a realistic look at what can happen.

The survey showed that 89 per cent of teens expect a reply to e-mails or text messages right away, or within five minutes.

Other findings included higher texting rate among Hispanic drivers, both teens and parents, versus Caucasian or African-American drivers.

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some 3,092 people were killed in 2010 in “distracted-affected crashes,” or 9.4 per cent of road deaths.

A NHTSA survey this year found that drivers 18-to-20 showed the highest level of phone involvement in crashes or near-crashes, with drivers that age three times more likely to read or send emails or texts while driving, than those 25 and older.

Thirty-seven of the 50 U.S. states have banned using mobile device keyboards while driving and 10 states have outlawed the use of handheld phones.

Tech On A Trip Should Be Easy. Especially In The Virgin Islands

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Tim Fraser

(Jun 02, 2012) ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS —I should be taking notes. I should be shooting video or photos or fiddling with gadgets and laptops. Yet the evening’s perfect breeze, the rum and the natural euphoria that goes hand in hand with the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands are doing their work on me.

The last place I should be is standing atop a waterside restaurant table, next to the only other Canadian in the group, howling O Canada to the half-moon directly above me. This is supposed to be a trip about technology and how it meshes with travel, not about me responding to someone questioning the authenticity of my Canadian-ness.

Almost three days ago, I arrived at the Concordia Eco-Resort, nestled on the southeast outcropping of St. John, overlooking Salt Pond Bay. Intimate and environmentally friendly, the resort boasts both tasteful luxury suites and rugged tent-like cabins. It’s a natural fit here on an island where nearly 75 per cent of the land mass is a mountainous and forested paradise of national parkland.

Once home to native Americans, following Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus’s discovery in 1493, St. John slowly transitioned over the next 200 years to an island sordidly tied to piracy and slavery. Many traces of the island’s history are still scattered along hiking trails through the ruins of sugar mills and rum distilleries built with coral bricks.

But it’s not history that brought me here, nor my ambition to sing the Canadian national anthem in all of the 50 U.S. states and its territories (three down!). In many ways, I’m here because of the future. A professional photographer and avid video gamer, I’m here along with eight other journalists at the invitation of Microsoft to field test a variety of Windows laptops and other technologies. The inherent conflict? I’m what you’d get if a Mac and a PC mated. I like and use both: Mac is my work, PC is my play, and I’d never really given much thought as to which I’d bring on my travels.

On holiday, I want to relax. I want to use Skype to call family. I want to shoot pictures and video, edit them and upload them to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. I want to play video games on the plane to and from my destination. And I want it all to be really easy.

On this trip, I’m testing the Asus Zenbook. It’s a lightweight brushed-steel notebook computer about the size of a tablet device when closed, and nearly as thin (measuring nine millimetres at its thickest point). In any light, it looks to be devilishly handsome and a direct competitor to the popular MacBook Air.

Aesthetics aside, it’s a speedy little thing packed with a Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 120-gigabyte solid-state hard drive. In other words, multitaskers, there’s a bit of heft under the hood.

And multitask we did. Whether hiking on the Reef Bay Trail or snorkelling around Booby Rock, all of us journalist types kept busy capturing photos and videos of our excursions and the nutty stuff that people do on them.

On the second day of the trip, I’m underwater and see a man with nothing but swim trunks and a spear pounce on a group of lionfish, an invasive species in the Caribbean known for their spiny venomous fin rays. I can’t help but think, “This guy is out of his mind.” At the same time, I want to be ready with a waterproof camera to see who will win the war of the poker (the guy with the spear or the fish with the spikes).

At the end of a short war, the lionfish population is decreased by one.

The following day, I’m racing ahead on the thin rocky trail that runs along the edge of Salt Pond Bay. It’s a sunset hike, and to a photographer’s ears, “sunset hike” sounds like Beethoven. This proves to be especially true when 45 minutes of both steep inclines and a few declines end at the top of a small mountain overlooking most of the south side of St. John.

Having taken plenty of photos, I’m excited to get back to the resort to edit my pictures on the Zenbook, which is preloaded with Windows Live Essentials, Microsoft’s free multimedia suite of applications. Using the photo-editing application packaged with the suite was a bit of a revelation to me: While considered consumer-end, Windows Live Photo Gallery has some pretty professional options for fine-tuning colour, tone, shadows and highlights. In fact, there are a variety of adjustment sliders on this free software that work just like ones I use regularly in Adobe Photoshop CS5 (a $700 program).

Lacking a reliable Internet connection at the island resort, I was unable to upload my pictures on Facebook which could integrate, along with other social sites, to Windows Live, or upload photos to SkyDrive, Microsoft’s online Cloud storage.

Friends and family were at least spared the intentional insincerity of me posting “Wish you were here, suckers!”

The video editing portion of the suite is Windows Live Movie Maker. I peek over the shoulder of another travel journalist as he easily pieces his photos within a half-hour into a 60-second video slide show with music and text. Not a bad turnaround time, considering this was his first go at the software.

In the past, I’ve used Apple’s iLife suite; I had never tried Window’s Live Essentials, and was surprised to find it fluid and lacking complication. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, considering how successful Apple has been at pushing the simplicity message, if Microsoft is too late to the game, if it missed the flight.

It’s my final day and I’m sailing on a catamaran to the island of St. Thomas, from where I’ll be flying back to the approaching Canadian winter. It’s hot, slightly overcast and serene. The Caribbean breeze begins to do its work on me again. I should be taking pictures, or shooting video or testing some gadget I haven’t had the chance to test yet. I shouldn’t be putting my camera away.

The last place I should be is relaxed and sprawled out on the edge of the deck enjoying a vacation … technology-free.



Price: $ 2,033.00

Tech Specs: Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB solid-state drive, 34-cm display, 1.6 kg, 20 mm thick

Description: What it lacks in style it makes up for in its military ruggedness, lightweight portability and power under the hood. Not only that, but it’s spill-resistant and thin.

Best Travel Fit: Versatile for nearly any travel situation, business or otherwise.


Price: $999.00

Tech Specs: Intel Core i7 processor, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB solid-state drive, 29-cm display, 1.09 kg, 9 mm thick

Description: Super-thin, stylish and powerful. The brushed-steel body not only looks good, but is surprisingly light. The lack of a DVD drive may be a bit of a bother, but it’s a laptop meant for cloud-based computing.

Best Travel Fit: For the stylish traveller who likes to pack light and keep their device discreet.


Price: $899.00

Tech Specs: Intel Core i5 2410m 2.3 GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 500 GB hard disk drive, AMD HD 6630M dedicated graphics, 34-cm display, 2.17 kg, 23 mm thick

Description: Ultra-powerful with a range of colours to suit your style, this laptop can handle nearly anything you throw at it, including gaming. An optional sheet battery extends battery life up to 15 hours and barely adds to the size of the laptop.

Best Travel Fit: A great laptop for the business traveller or to take on the family vacation. Entertain the kids on a long road trip with its gaming capabilities.


Price: $1,099.00

Tech Specs: Intel Core i5 2.3 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 640 GB hard disk drive, 34-cm display, 1.45 kg, 28 mm thick.

Description: Spill-resistant with a reinforced case. Great home theatre capabilities with a robust LED backlit display.

Best Travel Fit: For those who like to keep themselves entertained on the go.


Price: $4,327.00 (U.S.)

Tech Specs: Intel Core i5-2520M 2.5 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB hard disk drive, 34-cm display, 3.72 kg, 67 mm thick

Description: It doesn’t get any more durable than this with a full magnesium alloy case and sealed keyboard and touchpad and ports. Slam it, spill on it, or drop it, this laptop can take the licks.

Best Travel Fit: In only the most extremely rugged travel circumstances is this laptop a must-have

Special to The Globe and Mail

How To Stop Losing Your Keys, Or Car

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chad Sapieha

(Jun 02, 2012) Have you ever forgotten your phone or keys somewhere, never to be seen again? You probably wouldn’t have if you had ZOMM’s Wireless Leash Plus.

It’s a black keychain fob about the size of a peppermint patty. A trio of gently glowing LED panels line its rim, a micro-USB connector for charging and receiving updates sits on the bottom left edge, and a big black Z-button fills its middle.

It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and you can interact with it using the free MyZOMM app. I used it with an iPhone 4S, but the Wireless Leash Plus works with pretty much any phone or iOS device. The original Wireless Leash (no “Plus”) was designed just for Android devices.

Both phone and fob begin to act up when they detect a diminishing Bluetooth connection. In my tests, the Leash began vibrating, flashing, and making sounds if I moved my phone more than 10 metres or so from the Leash (range can be lengthened slightly in the app’s settings menu). Had I left my phone on a table in a restaurant, the Leash would have notified me before I even walked out the door.

Your phone, meanwhile, will vibrate and alert you that it has lost connection with the Leash. If you happen not to notice the alert until you’ve traveled some distance, the app will call up a Google map showing you the last known location of the Leash – and your keys – and offer directions to guide you back.

It’s a neat little trick, and it works well enough. However, bear in mind that the Leash isn’t a turn-it-on-and-forget-about-it kind of gizmo. It requires a bit of management, and perhaps more than some users will be willing to contend with.

For example, if your phone and keychain are regularly separated – as might happen should you leave your keys on a stand by the door and take your phone with you upstairs to your bedroom – you’ll need to adjust and readjust settings on a daily basis. You can quickly create profiles for different situations, altering alerts and active features, but spending time creating and switching profiles for a gadget that – if fortune is good – you may never even need, can seem like a nuisance.

Plus, it’s one more device that needs to be plugged in at regular intervals. The fob maintains a charge for about a week on standby, at which point it will tell you that it needs more juice. But there will be times when you aren’t near an outlet or don’t have four hours to wait for it to charge. Forgetful or lazy users may find their leash dead when they need it most.

Still, these minor annoyances might be worth enduring for some, especially considering that the Wireless Leash Plus has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

It also serves as a Bluetooth speakerphone. This feature can prove useful for taking hands-free calls while driving, especially since the fob is attached to your keys, which will likely be plugged into the ignition and close to hand. Just tap the Z-button to receive a call, then tap it twice to end it. Audio is kind of dirty, but it works in a pinch.

What’s more, the Z-button doubles as a panic button, which may come in handy during late night strolls. Hold it down for a few seconds and the fob will issue a piercing sound. Your phone, meanwhile, will automatically dial whatever number you decide to program for emergency assistance (likely 911). Since the Leash doubles as a speaker phone, you can just start talking to the emergency dispatcher without fumbling for your handset.

The MyZOMM app comes with an added perk, too, in the form of a simple geo-tagging system. Snap a picture of something – like your car – and it will remember where the object is located and provide directions back.

To be sure, there are those for whom The Wireless Leash may save much grief and money. I have a friend who’s lost one phone per year for as long as I’ve known him, and he’ll definitely receive a Leash from me this Christmas.

However, as someone who has never lost a phone or his keys and who already has enough technology to contend with on a daily basis, I’ve no interest in managing another app and charging another device. I think I’ll just continue to rely on my OCD-like tendency to pat my pockets for personal possessions when getting up from tables.

The ZOMM Wireless Leash Plus is available from ZOMM’s website for $89.99.


India's Seven-Star Sensation (Every Room Comes With A Butler)

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Si Si Penaloza

(Jun 02, 2012) HYDERABAD, INDIA —The theatrics of Falaknuma Palace begin at the gatehouse as I step into an open horse carriage complete with liveried coachmen. We trot up a hill to a staircase lined with ceremonial guards. As I ascend, a surprise shower of pink rose petals softly rains down, carpeting the exterior steps. High up above Hyderabad, the restored Falaknuma Palace is a true beauty, by far the most impressive restoration in the Taj Palaces portfolio.

Built in 1893, Falaknuma was home to the seventh Nizam, the world's richest man in his heyday, ruling over a kingdom the size of France. A stay here gives rare insight into the king who once used the Jacob Diamond as a paperweight. It's the only seven-star hotel in India and is tipped to be the grandest of all palace hotels in the country, having hosted dignitaries such as King George V and Czar Nicholas II.


Piecing together Falaknuma's past glory – restoring the eclectic blend of Italian Renaissance and Tudor architecture, yet retaining the family's mystique – proved the biggest challenge. The palace was a fantasy of 19th-century European style, all the rage in aristocratic India at the time. The suspended staircase, made from cantilevered Italian marble, is lined with goddesses. Heavenly maidens flank the arms of leather sofas and mouldings coated in 24-karat gold. But amid the swirl of rich brocade and cut crystal, what makes you gasp is the colossal 101-seat dining hall. My butler helps me verify the hall's infamous acoustics; we converse from opposite ends of the table, and it's stupefyingly clear.


Falaknuma was built in the shape of a scorpion with two stings spread out as wings to the north. Behind the lavish public rooms lie 60 refreshingly simple guest rooms and suites. Rooms are fitted with contemporary comforts (free WiFi and flat-screen TVs) and classic Taj touches (such as a private butler for every room, silk dressing gowns, vases of jasmine flowers and gold-foil-accented chocolates at turn down). Many rooms have French doors that open onto a lush courtyard overlooking the 400-year-old city from the palace's 610-metre-high perch.


On a windy night, my butler (unprompted) hands me a cup of soy hot chocolate, remembering that I'm off dairy. When in the throes of a seven-star stay, many guests let their inner child rule; they need to feel validated, respected, adored even. Here, the butler-guest connection is more cohort than gopher; my butler became my enabler, bringing me to the pleasures of the palace rather than merely fetching slippers and such.


While Falaknuma may look like a museum, guests are encouraged to enjoy it as their own, albeit under subtle surveillance by palace attendants. Sip rare teas over gossip sessions as they did back in the day in the Jade Room, a mind-blowing matrix of geometric parquet floors and Key-lime-pie-tinted walls. Downstairs, put your digital reader aside and flip through a 1910 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica while sitting in the sixth Nizam's special chair, which was apparently King George V's favourite seat, too. The library, lined with more than 5,000 rare books, is a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. For ultimate high-altitude relaxation, the lagoon swimming pool and Jiva Spa treatment suites overlook cascading gardens and offer an ambience of solitude.


Recreating the amorous relationship between monarchs and their appetite, Falaknuma offers two restaurants featuring gastronomic recipes culled from state-banquet menus. Each dish has been painstakingly replicated. Celeste serves eclectic Mediterranean cuisine, but I much preferred Adaa, with its well-executed variations on local delicacies like patthar kar gosht (lamb marinated for 48 hours) and Hyderabad's famed biryani (spiced rice cooked in a clay pot).


One of the best hotels in the world, Taj Falaknuma Palace exceeds my high expectations, setting a new standard in luxury for India. Despite the over-the-top heirloom surroundings, the highly personalized service makes one feel quite at home.

Special to The Globe and Mail


Jamaan Webb Just 19 But Making Strong Bid To Make Argos

Source: www.thestar.com - Bob Mitchell

(Jun 04, 2012) He’s 19 and the youngest player at the Argonauts training camp, but Jamaan Webb has been turning heads as he makes a bid for a spot in the new-look secondary.

On Monday, he knocked down a pass to wide receiver Jason Barnes to prevent quarterback Ricky Ray from connecting for a long TD with his early-season favourite to be his go-to-guy when the CFL season opens.

It was just another big play that the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior from Bethany College has been making, both at last week’s rookie camp and now at the main camp this week.

It would be easy to write off the youngster because he’s fighting for a spot against players with far more experience, including several rookies. But Argos head coach Scott Milanovich, and defensive coordinator Chris Jones have definitely liked what they’ve seen so far from the speedy defensive back.

“Nobody out here has got a lock down on their jobs,” Jones said after practice at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. “The best guy plays. We’re grading everybody.

“He’s done a good job. I didn’t actually know how old he was until he got to the rookie camp but he’s done a nice job. He’s making contact within the first two yards of scrimmage and then sticking to the receiver. That’s the name of our game; being able to play man-to-man coverage.

“He’s extremely coachable. He’s got good top-end speed and finishes his routes.”

Webb, whose cousin Dee Webb played for the Argos until his trade to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last season, caught the eye of the team at a tryout camp several months ago in Depew, N.Y.

Training camp so far has been everything he expected.

“If I make this team, it will change my life entirely,” said Webb, who hopes to be celebrating his 20th birthday as an Argonaut when the team plays the B.C. Lions at Rogers Centre on Aug. 6. “I got this opportunity and I’m seizing it.

“I don’t feel out of place here. I’m competing for a job. You have to have confidence or you’ll just get run by out here.”

In 10 games last season for the Division III Bethany (W.Va.) Bisons, the Jacksonville resident made 71 tackles, had two interceptions and knocked down five passes. He had a career-high 13 tackles against Westminister. In his freshman season, he had 49 tackles, including 11 in a game against Grove City.

He said Jones’ defensive systems suit him

“I like to get my hands on people,” Webb said. “I like being physical. Coach Jones likes to play bump and run that’s what I like. I feel like I’m definitely in the mix. There’s a lot of competition.”

Milanovich said younger players generally don’t make football teams in their first go-round but Webb appears to have what it takes if he continues to progress.

“We’ve had a number of DBs who have looked good but he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t have a shot,” Milanovich said. “He’s very mature. He’s had a great upbringing.

“He made a nice play on the corner (against Barnes). But our defence dominated practice. That looked like a Chris Jones defence out there. They were aggressive. They were blitzing. They were physical with the receivers. They won the practice. It was no contest.”

Chris Bosh Back In Lineup For Heat In Game 5 vs. Celtics

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

(Jun 06, 2012) MIAMI —
Bosh was not in the starting lineup. The Heat said he would play off the bench, something Bosh has done only 12 times in his career, all those during his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors.

“He’ll come in at some point in the rotation in a short burst,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game.

Bosh began light on-court workouts about a week ago and participated with teammates in Miami’s shootaround practice on Tuesday morning. His return comes at a crucial time, with the East title series knotted at two games apiece.

Spoelstra said he wasn’t worried about the notion that weaving Bosh back into the rotation would be problematic, even with the stakes so high. And Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t think Miami would struggle with that, either.

Rivers said if the Celtics had a situation where some of his key players, like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or Rajon Rondo, had missed time but could play in a Game 5 of a tied-up playoff series, it’d be an easy call.

“I would do it. I think I would always do it,” Rivers said. “I mean, listen, if Kevin, Paul, Ray, Rondo were out and they could play tonight and they hadn’t played, I’d play ‘em. I wouldn’t even hesitate. I don’t think really coaches hesitate on that. And number one, Bosh hasn’t been out that long. It’s not like he’s been out two months and he’s just coming back. He’s missed, what, seven, eight games, nine games? That’s not that long.”

Bosh got hurt late in the first half of Game 1 of a second-round series against Indiana on May 13. He did not play in the second half of that game, and in the nine post-season games since, Miami has gone 5-4.

Bosh averaged 18 points and 7.9 rebounds in the regular season. He averaged 14.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in six playoff games before getting hurt.

“It was encouraging this past week,” Spoelstra said. “He’s able to do some more activity on the court. The last two days he’s been able to do real basketball work.”

The final audition came about 90 minutes before game time, when Bosh went through his usual game-night warmup session. Spoelstra’s decision was announced by the team not long afterward.

Miami’s offence is far more effective when Bosh plays, and the Heat said they were hoping his mere presence would at least somewhat occupy Garnett and other Boston defenders. Heat guard Dwyane Wade said without Bosh on the floor, the Celtics have been able to do things against him that they wouldn’t typically attempt.

“He’s looked great the last couple days that we’ve gotten to see him,” Heat forward LeBron James, the NBA’s reigning MVP, said Tuesday before the word came that Bosh would play. “He looks comfortable with what we’ve been able to do. But I think we all know that a shootaround or a walk-through practice is totally different than game time.”

The Celtics were not being caught off-guard. Bosh has been in their scouting report since the series started.

“He’s another big scoring threat for them, a guy who can really put up some good numbers on any given night,” Pierce said. “He stretches the floor with his shooting and he can drive the ball, so it’s definitely something you’ve got to be aware of.”

Lebron James, Miami Heat Face Do-Or-Die Situation In Boston — Again

Source: www.thestar.com - Tim Reynolds

(Jun 06, 2012) MIAMI—
LeBron James appreciates the irony.

Matching up against the Boston Celtics, on the road, with the season on the line. He faced it in 2008 and lost. He faced it in 2010 and lost, removing his Cleveland Cavaliers jersey for the final time as he left the floor that night.

And now, in a championship-or-bust season for the Miami Heat, James heads back to Boston for another win-or-else game.

“It is fitting,” James said.

The Celtics lead the Heat 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals, and on Thursday night will look to clinch a third trip in five years to the NBA finals. If they succeed in Game 6 — or Game 7, if it comes to that — all three of those most recent Boston trips to the title round would come at James’ expense.

His first five games at Boston resulted in three wins. His 19 games there since have also resulted in three wins.

No team, maybe no other building, has befuddled James as much as the Celtics and the arena they call home. He’s had a 45-point effort there in a loss, a 42-point effort there in a loss, a 27-point, 19-rebound, 10-assist effort there in a loss. Another loss on Thursday, and his ninth season will end as the previous eight did — without a championship.

“I know how much pain this team has given me over the years,” James said. “So I guess it’s only right that we would be going up there in an elimination game. In order for us to keep our season going, we’ve got to win in their building. So that’s what it’s about.”

It’s no secret that the expectation — both internally and externally — for the Heat is to win championships. That’s what James famously vowed to get when he came to Miami in July 2010, and after losing in last season’s finals to Dallas, it’s been the only goal for the Heat in what the team has steadfastly referred to as a no-excuse season.

James won his third MVP award this season. He’s averaging 29.9 points in the playoffs, six points better than his pace from a year ago and one-tenth of a point away from Kobe Bryant for the league’s post-season lead in that department. And if Miami loses on Thursday night, the Heat’s season — and James’ — will go down in most circles as a failure.

“We have to do this together,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “He’s going to do what he’s supposed to do, and we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do. We’re going to do it together. We live and die together. You can’t just single him out. People have to stop doing that. It’s a team sport. If he performs, he’s going to perform, and he’s going to do his job.”

Even with the Heat down in the series after a 94-90 home loss the previous night, Wednesday’s practice in Miami did not have a funereal mood.

James was chatting and laughing as he shot free throws with some teammates toward the end of the workout, not far from where Heat president Pat Riley sat at his customary table to watch the proceedings. Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem teased each other about how much the other read, or didn’t read, while enrolled at Florida. Mario Chalmers and assistant coach David Fizdale were talking about the nuances of Boston guard Ray Allen’s game.

“I think we’re all disciplined enough to compartmentalize and focus on the challenge that we have ahead of us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It never is easy on your journey to try to be an NBA champion. You’ll always have these tough moments where you have to come together and go through that moment together. You can’t skip it. There isn’t an easy way.”

There usually isn’t an easy way against Boston, which is why this core of James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade came together in the first place. James wanted to increase his odds of winning a championship. Bosh wanted to get in the mix for one. When the Heat lost a first-round series to Boston in 2010, Wade vowed that Miami would get back to title-contending or he would go elsewhere.

“We got together, we want to compete for a championship, we want to win a championship every year,” Wade said. “To us, it’s not about outside expectations. It’s our own expectations. You think if we lose, you guys are hurt by it? No. We are hurt by it.

“This is what we love to do,” Wade added. “This is what our families love us to do. It’s what we work all year for. We put a lot into it, obviously, as well as the other teams in the NBA. This is our job. So we’re going to try to go out there and do our job and try to get a win.”

That burden will largely fall on James, of course.

“No one said it was going to be easy,” James said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge, me personally. I’m looking forward to it more than probably anyone on the team. So I’m going to lead these guys in the right direction, and hopefully it results in us winning.”

Otherwise, it’ll be another long summer.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to come through for our team,” James said. “(Tuesday) night I felt like I could have made a couple more plays, and I didn’t. But at the end of the day, if you play hard, you go out there and lay it on the line, the numbers will take care of itself. And you can be happy with it.”

Women’s Commentary On Hockey – Without The Hockey

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Ivor Tossell

(Jun 06, 2012) Midway through a conversation that had taken an unexpected turn into the mechanics of New
York’s expropriation laws, I mention that this was not the direction I’d expected this interview to take. Micaela Birmingham, on the other end of the phone, laughs amiably.

“Did you expect to be talking to the bimbo of Canada?”

In truth, I replied, I didn’t know know what to expect.

I was on the phone with her in an attempt to suss out the story of “Lena Sutherland,” one of the co-hosts of
While The Men Watch, a controversial new offering from the CBC. Offered online, the show is an alternative commentary to Hockey Night In Canada, a long-ad libbed conversation between Sutherland and her best friend Jules Mancuso as they chat through the game. The banter is heavy on boyfriends-and-shopping schtick, and light on, well, sports.

“Here comes Rupp!” said Sutherland, giving some sample commentary during an appearance on CBC News Now. “He looks like a woman who’s caught sight of a 50-per-cent off sale! He’s not letting anyone near his size in his shoes!”

When the CBC picked up this act and put it in the Hockey Night in Canada stable as an offering for women, it unleashed a firestorm of criticism about the stereotypes it was perpetuating: Women as shopaholics, men as sports nuts; men as the ones who understand what’s going on on the ice, women as uninterested in the technicalities of sports.

“The show is essentially the traditional four Fs of pink ghetto journalism – food, family, fashion, and furniture – tangentially tied into hockey,” noted Ellen Etchinham, a Toronto sportswriter, in a critical blog post that was widely circulated. Sutherland and Mancuso responded that it was all in fun, and never meant to be a political statement.

Which brings us to the interesting thing about “Lena Sutherland:” She doesn’t actually exist.

Lena Sutherland is actually a pseudonym for Birmingham, a real entrepreneur who’s got a lot more on her résumé than her alter ego. Search the web for Lena, and you’ll find news reports and promotional material for a controversial girl-talk sportscaster. Search for Micaela, however, and you’ll discover an enterprising urban planner who fought the construction of the new Yankee Stadium, an entrepreneur who manufactures baby-carriage shades, and a community activist on a mission to promote sports for low-income youth.

Birmingham says the pseudonym is no secret, despite the fact there’s virtually no connection between the two names anywhere online, nor does the CBC mention it. She says she kept the nickname for consistency as her Internet show, formerly self-produced, became more and more popular.

“Eventually, it just got to the point where everyone was knowing me as Lena, so I just had to accept it and go with it,” she told me. (The name was originally an in-joke between herself and Mancuso.)

The host’s muddled identity gets to the heart of a show that’s seems deeply conflicted about what it’s about. On one hand, the CBC is advertising it as a fun take on hockey that’s aimed at women, a way of getting an ostensibly disconnected audience into the show. However, during the broadcasts themselves, the hosts seem to be deeply ambivalent about whether they’re interested in hockey at all.

On Monday night, the pair broadcast their second playoff game live from an ad-hoc set in the CBC’s lunchroom. True to their title, they left the heavy-duty watching to a man, co-host/headset wearing off-camera type named Sonny, who had to explain basic rules, and occasionally cue the hosts when something significant happened in the game, just to get their attention. Scripted bits added some liveliness, but the commentary was more often a series of listless statements and questions.

“Six minutes left. This period is flying by. For some of us.”

“Broken stick lying around.”

“I feel like they’re all over each other. Is that the correct body-checking?”

It felt like two friends trying at length to kill the penalty of having to watch sports. Since this is the very premise of the broadcast, you could say its problems are baked in: People who are excited about something are compelling; people who are ambivalent aren’t.

On the phone last week, Birmingham spoke enthusiastically about her life’s work, lapsing almost immediately into urban-planner speak. A Brampton native who went to school at McGill, Birmingham started a career in planning in New York City, while nurturing a zeal for side projects. She sparked the production of a post-9/11 public service announcement featuring celebrities from Yoko Ono to Kevin Bacon. (The production netted her a New York Emmy.)

Later, working for a planning advocacy group, she led the charge against the construction of a new Yankee Stadium across the road from the original in the Bronx, a project that destroyed parkland and community playing fields. Affidavits she wrote in the process wound up in the Supreme Court. After the birth of her two children, she launched CityMum, a line of stroller sun-shades she has manufactured at a small New York factory.

Birmingham is emphatic that While The Men Watch isn’t an act.

“I may use an alias, but I’m totally being myself when we’re doing this,” she says, and I believe her. For its part, a CBC spokesperson says its policy on anonymity “allows for pseudonyms to be used when someone is at risk or it's editorially irrelevant to the story, as was the case with interviews pertaining to While The Men Watch.”

I’m not convinced it’s totally irrelevant, and not just because I like the idea of newscasters not naming people arbitrarily. The alias that shields Lena Sutherland from Micaela Birmingham’s career, and vice-versa, reflects the disengagement that dogs the show. That’s the spirit beneath the banter about not understanding the technicalities of hockey’s rules: Evidently, it’s not that they can’t, it’s just that they can’t be bothered. A dash of real-life enthusiasm could go a long way.

Vladimir Krutov, Russian Hockey Legend, Dead At 52

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 06, 2012) MOSCOW—
Vladimir Krutov, one of the Soviet Union’s all-time great ice hockey players and part of the national team’s formidable KLM Line, has died. He was 52.

The Russian Hockey Federation said Krutov died Wednesday. It did not give a cause of death, but the ITAR-Tass news agency said he had been taken to a hospital several days earlier for stomach bleeding.

“Volodya was such a dependable and steadfast man that I would have gone anywhere with him — to war, to espionage, into peril. There are fewer and fewer guys like him in every generation of hockey players,” federation president and former Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak told the Sport-Express newspaper.

Born in Moscow, Krutov gathered attention for his play with a local factory team Meteor and was then invited to the hockey school of the CSKA Moscow club. He played with the team between 1978-89.

Krutov and his CSKA teammates Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov formed one of the most potent scoring lines that hockey has ever seen, and led the Soviet team to gold in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. He was also part of the team that lost to the United States at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and won five world championship titles in the 1980s.

Along with defencemen Vyacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov, they became known as the “Green Unit” for the colour of their practice jerseys.

Krutov was one of the first Soviet players to play in the NHL, but spent only one undistinguished season with the Vancouver Canucks.

He played 61 games, scoring 11 goals for Vancouver in the 1989-90 season.

After playing a few years in Switzerland and Sweden, Krutov retired in 1996. He later briefly coached CSKA and also worked for the Russian youth training centre in Moscow.

In 2010, he was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation’s hall of fame.

Krutov is survived by his wife and two sons Denis and Alexei, who plays for Yekaterinburg in the Continental Hockey League (KHL).


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