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LE NEWSLETTER

May 3, 2012

One of these days I'll be able to write that we've experienced less than two seasons of weather within one week. Balmy Thursday and Friday though ... can't complain about that!

Check out the scoop on the new
Maroon 5 album - perhaps a little different than you expect so read about it under SCOOP. Free copies coming your way soon so stay tuned!

In this weeks news: some exciting news with all proceeds going to our Olympic athletes at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony in September; Canadian Philip Blake drafted to the NFL; HotDocs hits Toronto; Phil Hartman gets his Hollywood star; the tragic death of a young swimmer, Alexander Dale Oen, from Norway; and so much more. Check it all out under TOP STORIES.

This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings. Welcome to those who are new members!

::SCOOP::

Maroon 5 Announce New Album, Overexposed, To Release June 26

Source: Universal Music Canada

Adam Levine acknowledges that the title of the new
Maroon 5 album is something of an inside joke—a wink at the Los Angeles-based band’s seeming omnipresence, particularly in the wake of the frontman’s joining the cast of NBC’s The Voice and of “Moves Like Jagger,” the 2011 smash that topped charts in 18 countries across the globe and became one of the most paid downloaded songs in history.

“It’s like, ‘We get it—we’re overexposed,’” Levine says with a laugh. “We’re just trying to preemptively go where the conversation is headed anyway. We figured we’d get there first.”

Check this out, though: If Overexposed gets at the truth of Maroon 5’s sky-high visibility—perhaps you’re reading these words in preparation for spreading the word a little further yourself—the title carries another meaning, as well, one that runs a few inches below the surface of things. After a decade of activity in which the 3 time Grammy-winning quintet has gone from playing tiny L.A. clubs to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, this album captures Maroon 5’s decision to open itself up to risk.

“I feel like we’ve been standing on the edge of a cliff for a long time,” Levine says. “We’re a band that’s always been close to being full-on pop, but that’s rooted in a lot of other things: rock, soul, funk, the list goes on. Overexposed is the first time we’ve ever completely embraced the idea of making pop music—of making songs for the radio. We just said, ‘Let’s not be afraid to do what we basically are.’”

The decision was more than a matter of mindset. “Moves Like Jagger” marked the band’s entrance into the waters
of co-writing; until then Levine and his bandmates—guitarist James Valentine, bassist Mickey Madden, drummer Matt Flynn and keyboardist PJ Morton (currently filling in for Jesse Carmichael, who’s on hiatus)—had prided themselves on the fact that they handled all of the oufit’s music in-house. “But ‘Jagger’ was an amazing experience,” says Valentine, “so we figured we’d try it again.”

The result, Maroon 5’s fourth studio set, contains collaborations with longtime hitmaker Max Martin served as the album’s executive producer, with additional tracks produced by Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Gym Class Heroes) and Ryan Tedder (Beyoncé, OneRepublic).

“We gravitated toward certain people for various reasons,” Levine says, pointing to Maroon 5’s 2010 tour with OneRepublic as an example. “But when you get down to it, there’s a reason that the best writers in the world are as successful as they are. And there’s a lot of people on this record who had never been in a room together until we put them there. We were into making these strange concoctions that don’t exist in the rules.”

Indeed, cuts like the electro-reggae “One More Night” and lead single “Payphone,” with a guest verse by rapper Wiz Khalifa, demonstrate how difficult it is to categorize Maroon 5’s; the same goes for the funked-up ballad “Beautiful Goodbye” and “Doin’ Dirt,” a propulsive disco-rock jam with harmonies that Valentine says reveal the influence of Hall & Oates.

“I love how ‘Payphone’ seems like a such sweet song until the chorus comes in,” Levine says, referring to the part of that tune where he declares, “All those fairy tales are full of shit / One more fucking love song, I’ll be sick.” “It’s totally subverting the song in this way that makes you lean in and listen,” he adds.

“I think I might be most stoked on ‘Fortune Teller,’ which started on my laptop while we were in the lounge at Conway Studios in L.A.,” says Valentine. “We’re literally feet away from millions of dollars of the world’s finest recording equipment, and I’m in there working on this 10-dollar Korg mini-keyboard.” He laughs. “And yet we came up with this track that we just loved.”

As Valentine’s comment suggests, Maroon 5 worked surprisingly quickly on Overexposed, which despite the A-list hook-ups arrives just 21 months after Hands All Over, the band’s 2010 collaboration with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. “We’ve taken a really long time to make our albums in the past,” Levine admits. “But I’m done overanalyzing and making things more complicated than they need to be. If a song is great, it’s great. Be done with it.”

There’s a new focus that’s set into us both personally and as a band,” Valentine adds. “We had such amazing experiences the first 10 years of this group, and I think we spent a lot of time enjoying it, which was great. But now it’s like, ‘Well, what do we do? We make records.’” The guitarist laughs. “Put it this way: In 2007 after the show we were definitely finding out where the party was. Now it’s more like, ‘Hey, let’s go finish that song.’ That’s what’s more exciting to us.”

Levine says that of all the band’s albums, Overexposed feels “both most and least like Maroon 5. There’s lots of traces of the past, but it also hints at a new idea,” the singer explains. “More than anything I think this record says that it’s always cool to try—that you should always be willing to take a step beyond whatever feels comfortable.”

::TOP NEWS::

Toronto to host 2012 Olympic Hall of Fame Events

Source:
www.olympic.ca

(May 1, 2012) TORONTO – The Canadian Olympic Committee unveiled plans today for an entire week of events, culminating in the
2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony Friday, September 21, 2012 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Former Ontario Premier David Peterson and RBC Regional President for the Greater Toronto Area Jennifer Tory will act as Co-Chairs of the event.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will act as honorary Chair, presiding over an exceptional week of public events, celebrating the heroes of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team as well as heroes being inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. The festivities will begin as Prime Minister Harper hosts 2012 Olympians in the House of Commons on Wednesday September 19.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime celebration and it’s going to be one of those events we tell our grandkids about,” said Co-Chair and former Ontario Premier David Peterson. “That amazing night in Toronto, in September 2012, when we all crammed into the Air Canada Centre and revelled in the outstanding pride of being Canadian.”

“The 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame gala isn’t just about having a fabulous party in celebration of our athletes,” said Jennifer Tory, Co-Chair of the event and RBC Regional President for the Greater Toronto Area. “It’s also a way for Canadians to step up and make a direct, proud and impactful contribution to those who proudly wear the symbol of the Canadian Olympic Team.”

“With a crowd of 1,000 strong, we will bring down the house in a celebration befitting the incredible calibre of athletic prowess and leadership that Canadians can call their own,” said Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut. “Capping off a week to remember, this gala evening will be the stuff of legends.”

“The Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame week is the ultimate celebration of Canadian Olympic achievement, and the journey athletes and fans have taken to get there – together,” said three-time Olympic trampoline medallist Karen Cockburn. “It’s also a way for the Canadians who’ve captured the Olympic spirit to help support the athletes.”

Members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team will be reaching out to the public in this, their official ‘Welcome Home’ from London. 2012 Olympic heroes will visit Toronto area schools and hospitals in the days leading up to the Gala Induction Ceremony. The men and women who will represent Canada on the world’s biggest athletic stage will travel all over the Greater Toronto Area, sharing their experiences in London with Torontonians.

September 21 will be a day to remember in Toronto, as our 2012 Olympic heroes will participate in a parade in downtown Toronto before the Gala event at the Air Canada Centre.

The biggest event in the Canadian Olympic Committee calendar, short of the Olympic Games, the Gala Induction Ceremony will feature first-class entertainment and a gourmet meal.

Contact Danielle Hrehirchek at dhrehirchek@olympic.ca or (416) 324-4303 to book tables for this once in a lifetime event.

Meet The Canadian Drafted To Snap The Football To Peyton Manning

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Apr 29, 2012) For a Canadian kid who grew up getting his NFL fix playing the John Madden football video game, Philip Blake is about to get up close and very personal with one of the sport's biggest stars.

The centre from Toronto was selected in the fourth round of the draft by the Denver Broncos on Saturday, which means there's a chance he'll be snapping the ball to four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning when the season opens later this year.

Of course, the job won't just be handed to him, but the Baylor University product will go into training camp with every intention of taking the starting job from incumbent J.D. Walton, a player Blake knows only too well.

Blake actually shifted over to centre for the Bears after Walton was taken by the Broncos in the third round of the 2010 draft. Before he left, though, Walton gave Blake some valuable pointers on playing the position.

For that, Blake will be forever grateful.

“J.D. Walton is a real good guy,” Blake said.

This could be quite a transition for Blake as he goes from hiking the ball to speedy Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III to Manning, one of the best NFL QBs to ever line up under centre.

“It will be different,” Blake chuckled. “It will be a good experience.”

There's another option as well: Blake can slide over and play guard if necessary. That versatility might come in handy, especially with right guard Chris Kuper mending from a broken left leg.

“I'm very comfortable at guard and at centre,” said Blake, who's from Toronto and became interested in football after his mom brought home the John Madden Football video game when he was a teenager. “I played guard at the Senior Bowl, and I played center at Baylor, so I have the versatility to help out on the line.”

The Broncos acquired the pick in which they selected Blake as part of the deal that sent Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. The trade also netted Denver a sixth-rounder.

The team also took cornerback Omar Bolden of Arizona State earlier in the fourth round and defensive end Malik Jackson of Tennessee in the fifth.

Bolden sat out last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during spring practice. Still, he was such a valuable member of the Sun Devils that his team voted him a captain.

He also returns kicks, which is an area of need after the Broncos lost Eddie Royal to free agency.

“I love returning the ball,” said Bolden, who earned the program's “Hard Hat” recognition award for his offseason dedication to the weight room. “I played running back in high school, so anytime I can get my hands on the ball, then I enjoy it. I take pride and joy in it.”

Bolden's immediate role will more than likely be special teams and possibly playing in the nickel package. The Broncos already have two veteran cornerbacks in Tracy Porter and perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey.

As for the knee, Bolden said it's coming along just fine.

“It's been a lot of hard work leading up to this and I'm just happy that it's over,” said Bolden, who also missed time in 2009 with an injury.

Since trading out of the first round on Thursday, the Broncos have been quite busy. They took defensive lineman Derek Wolfe and quarterback Brock Osweiler with their second-round picks, and traded up to nab running back Ronnie Hillman in the third.

Asked about Osweiler, his teammate at Arizona State, Bolden couldn't help but gush.

"He's a team guy,” Bolden said. “He's going to do everything that you ask him in order to make the team better. He's a great locker room guy, and he's a great guy to be around. I'm excited to be reunited with him again.”

Blake felt the same way about joining Walton, even if they are competing for the right to snap to Manning.

“I've played with him, and I'll learn from him again, so I know that's a great experience,” Blake said.

Hot Docs 2012: 29 Reviews And Counting

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 26, 2012) The 19th annual Hot Docs festival kicks off April 26 but seats are selling fast. How do you decide what to see? Star writers and critics have pre-screened some of the offerings. Those marked with a are recommended. For screening times see hotdocs.ca.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry: The festival opener is a captivating portrait of big-bellied dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, by American filmmaker Alison Klayman. The Sundance-endorsed doc explains much about her subject’s controversial activism, his blog- and Twitter-enabled campaigns against the Chinese regime’s brutal intolerance of criticism, and the impact his rebel celebrity has had on his nation’s emerging culture and legions of followers, but not nearly enough about the art and ideas that have earned him heaps of global accolades. Stubborn, witty, insightful, fractious, and empowered by a decade-long dance with American democracy in New York during his student years, Ai is presented in the movie as a fait accompli, a rock star of the art world who has enough time on his hands, clout, money and independence, to give the finger — literally — to his overlords, only to be stunned into silence when he becomes too big a target to evade their wrath. Greg Quill

An Affair of the Heart: Director Sylvia Caminer doesn’t let pop star Rick Springfield off the hook in her documentary about the “Jessie’s Girl” singer and General Hospital star. He admits to some serious character flaws, but they’re lapses his fans clearly forgive him for. Overwhelmingly female in number, the teary throng credit Springfield with making their lives better — even if some of their husbands aren’t completely convinced. It’s a fascinating look at the limitless fan devotion for a singer who hasn’t been on the charts in decades, from giggling middle-aged gals on weekend jaunts to headbangers at a Swedish rock festival. They’re all Rickaholics. Linda Barnard

Back to the Square: “Mubarak = Sadness,” reads Cairo wall graffiti scrawled before last year’s Arab Spring uprising that ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, and it was a popular sentiment. But what comes after the cheering, if there is no transition plan and another set of fascist thugs are at the gate? Petr Lom’s unsettling doc looks at the lives of five people in post-revolution Egypt, who are struggling to find freedom and happiness in a new world that still seems a lot like the old one. Peter Howell

Ballroom Dancer: The faux, over-the-top dramatics of ballroom dancing collides with genuine heartbreak this moving doc from Danish filmmakers Andreas Koefoed and Christian Bonke. They follow former world champion Slavik, who at age 33 is plagued with injuries and nearing the end of his career. A driven perfectionist with an arrogant streak that could cost him everything, Slavik hopes to stage a comeback with Anna, a young unknown who is also his partner off the dance floor. L.B.

Big Boys Gone Bananas: Sweden’s Fredrik Gertten has to be a bit bananas himself to go up against the world’s biggest producer of fruits and vegetables. But he also shows considerable cojones in his persistent fight to get his previous documentary Bananas* out to the world. This despite an escalating campaign by Dole to prevent its distribution — indeed, the Los Angeles Film Festival was so fearful of litigation that, to its shame, it only agreed to show the film with an embarrassing disclaimer. This doc-within-a-doc has visual and budget challenges — e.g. overseas conversations with lawyers via shaky, split-screen Skype chats — mostly mitigated by the filmmaker’s willingness to go down a rabbit hole. Ariel Teplitsky

Brooklyn Castle: I.S. 318 is an inner-city school where some 70 per cent of students’ families are living below the poverty line, yet they dwell among kings and queens, boasting the most winning junior high chess teams in the U.S. Director Katie Dellamaggiore’s doc, which picked up the audience award winner at SXSW in January, is the kind of uplifting exploration of kids rising above that inspires as it follows a handful of kids, some prodigies, some struggling just to win a game. As schools face cutbacks and slashing of after-school programs, the kids of I.S. 318 are determined to go on and defend their school’s titles and national reputation, learning lessons along the way that they apply to a variety of off-the-board challenges. L.B.

The Boxing Girls of Kabul: Ariel Nasr’s uplifting film about a small group of young Afghan women who dream of being Olympic boxers opens with a chilling scene of a woman in a burqa crawling on the field at the Olympic stadium before being executed. The self-assured young women we meet as they train with their wiry ex-Olympian coach insist life is changing for the better; one girl’s father insists daughters and sons must be treated equally and encouraged to excel. But winning a competition calls attention to the female boxers and with that comes the threat of violence. The young athletes come out swinging, but will they pay a price for demanding freedom to compete for their country? L.B.

China Heavyweight: As he did with Up the Yangtze, director Yung Chan shows us a corner of Chinese life Westerners would never explore without his questioning camera. This time he follows onetime boxing champ Qi Moxiang, now a talent scout for the nation’s Olympic boxing squad, as he travels around rural Sichuan province. He’s looking for the next great fighters among the poor, skinny kids who live there, offering them a chance to attend a special school and, perhaps one day, bring glory to their village. As the kids fight for a better life while struggling to uphold Party ideals, Qi does likewise, training in the hope he can prevail in one last bout himself. L.B.

Detropia: Once the shining example of U.S. industrial might, Detroit now can barely keep the lights on and the police force operating. Decades of factory shutdowns, outsourcing of production to China and Mexico, and the decline of the Big Three carmakers are among the official reasons, leaving the hard-pressed residents of Motor City to pick up the shattered pieces of their city and of their lives. Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing aim a compassionate lens. P.H.

The Final Member: Expect plenty of awkward shifting in seats among male moviegoers during screenings of Toronto directors Jonah Bekhor’s and Zach Math’s delightfully droll doc about an Icelandic museum curator’s quest to obtain the only missing exhibit from his display of mammal penises — a human being. Sigurdur Hjartarson has two game guys who are set to make the donation: Páll Arason, a 95-year-old Iceland adventurer and legendary lover, and Tom, a Californian who wants to inspire chants of “U.S.A.!” with the donation of his stars-and-stripes tattooed best pal he has affectionately named Elmo. Against a stunning Iceland backdrop, Hjartarson shows off the collection he has spent 37 devoted years building, from the massive sperm whale to the miniscule hamster. Fascinating. L.B.

Francophrenia (Or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where The Baby Is): Called a “humorous psycho-thriller” by actor James Franco and his co-director Ian Olds, this mash-up of footage from Franco’s guest stint on daytime soap General Hospital as a homicidal art world loon is more of a head scratcher than a revelation. There’s a lot of voice-over paranoid whispering from Franco and a pair of wisecracking men’s room door symbols — but what does it all mean? Maybe that’s the point. L.B.

The Frog Princes: Director Stephen Snow, a member of Concordia University’s department of creative arts therapies, has five months to mount a production of the children’s story The Frog and the Princess with a cast of developmentally challenged adults. Though this is drama therapy, Snow bombastically promises throughout that the finished production will be legitimately “good” theatre. It isn’t. Along the way, we get to know a few characters, like 24-year-old Rayman with Down Syndrome determined to leave the family nest. There are a couple of powerful moments and the film raises a genuine issue — i.e., the right of the intellectually challenged to seek truly independent lives. Though well-meaning, Omar Majeed and Ryan Mullins’ film feels manipulative and exploitive, eliciting more cringe-worthy than heart-warming moments, and Snow comes off as a bit of a huckster. Bruce DeMara

Herman’s House: “Art is not my thing,” says Herman Wallace, 40 years into Angola Prison solitary confinement for his Black Panther activism. But dreaming works, and so begins his unique collaboration with Jackie Sumell, a befriending New York artist. Intrigued and appalled by the decades he’s spent in a 6-by-9-foot cell, convicted as an accessory to a prison guard murder, she seeks to “free” Wallace by building the house of his mind’s eye, a home he may never live in or even see. A unique life story, directed by Toronto’s Angad Singh Bhalla, that reveals how walls can contain the physical body, but never the spirit. P.H.

Indie Game: The Movie: Fresh from their triumphant world debut at Sundance, Winnipeggers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky bring their fascinating study of the driven minds behind the world of indie game creation to Hot Docs. A crowd favourite at the Park City, Utah, festival, Indie Game: The Movie took the best editing prize in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. By turns funny and quite dark, the doc shows this is much more than a game to these dedicated artists of the coded word, by profiling the passionate designers and programmers who devote their lives to creating games while battling self-doubt and seemingly endless challenges. L.B.

The Invisible War: Intrepid investigator Kirby Dick and co-director Amy Ziering take on sexual assault in the U.S. military, using official stats and first-person accounts to reveal a shocking amount of abuse and cover-up within this so-called “band of brothers.” As awful as the case histories are, and the victims include both women and men, more terrible still is the lack of official action to stop a crime epidemic that has been widely reported since at least the 1990s. The situation is completely FUBAR, to use military lingo. P.H.

Jeff: To most people, Jeffrey Dahmer was the “Milwaukee Monster,” so named for his 17-victim murder spree from 1978-91 that included necrophilia and cannibalism. But to others, including his next-door neighbour and the arresting cop who became famous by association, he was simply “Jeff,” a weird but friendly loner with troubles beyond easy reckoning. Chris James Thompson’s riveting doc seeks not sympathy for Dahmer but rather insights into his crimes, which affected many more people than the ones he killed. P.H.

Legend of a Warrior: This time it’s personal for filmmaker Corey Lee as he uses a documentary project to help him reconnect with his dad, martial arts master Frank Lee. Estranged from his dad for years since his parents’ divorce, Lee decides to train with his father again at his Edmonton gym, coming back to the discipline of the ring he experienced as a youngster before his father began leaving his family for long stretches to train a champion fighter in Hong Kong. The elder Lee finally admits his errors and the depth of his own anguish over losing his family, admissions that come as his son grows more elegant and proficient in the elite brand of martial arts his father is known for. L.B.

Marley: A leisurely but thorough biodoc of Jamaican reggae great Bob Marley, showing how the humble man became the superstar artist. Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September) canvasses every aspect of Marley’s brief life (he died of cancer at age 36), leaning more towards the personal than the political. Despite a paucity of photos and performance material prior to Marley’s rise to global acclaim in the 1970s, the film sketches a complete portrait of his early struggles in the slums of Trenchtown and his evolving lineups of the Wailers and I-Three backing groups. Everyone’s heard from, including Bunny Wailer, Chris Blackwell, Marley’s widow Rita and a couple of his former mistresses. “You don’t know Bob,” one of them says, smiling at memories. You do now, thanks to this film. P.H.

Mom and Me: Quebecois filmmaker Danic Champoux explores the influences on his life growing up across the street from a biker hangout in Sorel, Que., and the very tangential role that Hell’s Angels leader Maurice “Mom” Boucher had on his development into adulthood. (Champoux and Boucher’s son, Francis, were friends.) It’s told in a slyly amusing way, using wildly imaginative animation (some of it quite risqué) and supplemented with live interviews, including renowned Quebec journalist Michel Auger (who narrowly escaped death at the hands of a biker hitman) as well as Champoux’s real mom, his therapist, and so on. It’s a risky and unusual approach but one that pays off, richly funny but also unexpectedly engrossing and insightful. B.D.

My Name is Faith: Adoptive parent Tiffany Junker co-directs this poignant documentary about her efforts to heal her daughter, Faith, suffering from “attachment disorder” — an inability to bond or feel empathy — after a young life filled with sexual and physical abuse. The stakes are high for Faith and the other children in the film, many of whom are potential powder kegs of violence without treatment. The film has many uncomfortable moments but the dedication of the parents and therapist Nancy Thomas is both laudable and remarkable, and the film offers a hopeful message. B.D.

My Thai Bride: Australian director David Tucker doesn’t take sides in this exploration of the relationship between former Bangkok bar girl Tip and middle-aged Welshman Ted Rees, who sells everything back home and moves to rural Thailand to marry her and start a new life. But the admitted romantic doesn’t get the happy ending he was hoping for. L.B.

One Day After Peace: A mother’s quest for peace and peace of mind, this film is jam-packed with raw emotion and complex geopolitical issues. In the aftermath of her son David’s death at the hands of a Palestinian sniper, Israeli resident Robi Damelin returns to her South African homeland to examine the role of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission in allowing that country to overcome its violent past. The question she asks: would this process be useful in the event of an eventual peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian people? While the film leaves the issues largely unresolved — how could it not? — it’s nonetheless a powerful and moving testament to a woman’s courage and the potential for healing in one of the world’s most intractable conflict zones. B.D.

Pushwagner: With his obsessive fidgeting, bone-rack physique and face like a crushed pop can, Norweigian artist Pushwagner makes a picture-perfect subject for the standard-issue eccentric artist documentary. This film, though, is anything but. Pushwagner, a painter of almost obscenely detailed, vast tableaux of bureaucratic society run amok, goes along with the film in the firm belief he’s less subject than filmmaker himself. He dictates shots, topics of conversation and even props (“We could have had a quiver, with brushes,” he grumps in one interview scene, before settling on a mini camera, which he deems to be “relevant.”) In the background, the possibility of popular recognition now, finally looms (he’s 72). A watchable, lovably tragic take on the price of artistic commitment. Murray Whyte

The Queen of Versailles: Hubris with a capital “H” in this comically horrifying “riches to rags” portrait of Florida’s Jackie Siegel, a former model and forever bimbo on the downslide from excessive living. She married a real estate billionaire and the two started building the largest home in America, modeled after France’s Palace of Versailles. Then the 2008 crash happened, and now she’s down to her last tin of $2,000 caviar. You could call Lauren Greenfield’s doc a cautionary tale, except no sensible person would covet the lifestyle of this shameless couple, who live like monarchs but act like fools. P.H.

Radioman: “This is Radioman. He’s world famous,” says Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks as he introduces the scruffy looking, bearded man with a boom box slung around his neck. Radioman is indeed famous and that’s the point of Mary Kerr’s documentary. A former homeless alcoholic, Radio now has more than 100 cameos in Hollywood movies shot in New York City to his credit — along with a free pass to dine at the on-set craft service tables. L.B.

The Waiting Room: Oakland’s Highland Hospital is a microcosm of what’s wrong with health care in the U.S., the dumping ground for “private” hospitals that only provide service to the well-insured. The film paints a dark picture of crisis as health care professionals and patients struggle in a system that often reaches gridlock because of the lack of beds and doctors. But it does so with traces of humour and huge dollops of humanity. B.D.

Welcome to the Machine: The decision by filmmaker Ari Weider and his wife to turn to in-vitro fertilization in their quest to start a family sparks a far-ranging discussion about the increasing role of technology in human civilization, especially a future in which people and machines become ever more intertwined. The anti-technology manifesto of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and intelligent voices on both sides of the debate provide plenty of food for thought, making the film a worthwhile journey. B.D.

Wildness: The Silver Platter has welcomed the gay community in Los Angeles’s primarily Latino MacArthur Park area for nearly 50 years. The older transgender and cross-dressing patrons welcome a young crop of upstart performance artists — just as they were welcomed initially by the previous generation who got used to their glam-rags after being told to arrive dressed as males. But change may not be in the best interests of the tiny bar. Performance artist Wu Tsang directs this earnest, passionate look at a neighbourhood gathering place that’s much more than a bar. L.B.

The World Before Her: Extreme attitudes towards women in India are laid bare in Nisha Pahuja’s quietly shocking doc. On the one hand, there’s the extremely popular Miss India contest, which turns dirt-poor girls into national superstars overnight — but only a handful of hopefuls ever get to try out, as we see in a beauty boot camp in a Mumbai hotel. On the other hand, there are the fashion-averse teachers of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of Hindu fundamentalism, who have their own indoctrination sessions designed to make women subservient to men. Both camps believe they’re creating the women of a new India. Pahuja never judges but she doesn’t need to, since her camera reveals all — including a father’s casual admission that he branded his rebel daughter’s foot with hot metal, to teach her a lesson. P.H.

Hot Docs, a how-to

Think of Hot Docs as an all-you-can see cinema buffet with something for every taste with 189 movies from 51 countries in 11 screening programs ranging from Special Presentations to the edgy choices of Nightvision.

Tickets are still available at the online box office at hotdocs.ca, by calling 416-637-5150 or at the box office at 783 Bathurst St. The website will tell you which screenings have gone rush, meaning they are technically sold out — but you still have an 80 per cent chance of getting in, Hot Docs staff say.

Show up at the theatre an hour before the screening and join the rush line. Fifteen minutes before showtime, tickets are sold to fill empty seats in the house.

Students and seniors (age 60 and up) with valid ID can see movies starting before 6 p.m. free. Pick up tickets the venue box office the day of screening. First come, first served.

Besides the fest’s new home and the refurbished Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, movies will screen at nine other venues, from the Fox in the Beach to The Revue in the west, plus the TIFF Bell Lightbox and others downtown.

A Star For Phil Hartman

Source: www.thestar.com - By Tony Wong

(Apr 28, 2012) Paul Hartmann first heard the gruesome news that his brother had been murdered when he pulled into the driveway of his California home.

His wife was waiting for him outside. She was in tears.

“I just remember feeling that whatever happened I don't want to hear about it,” says Paul, the brother of renowned Canadian comedian Phil Hartman. “Earlier in the day, I was thinking how phenomenally beautiful it was. At the time, I owned an organic farm and I had gone into town to buy stuff. And then I returned home to hear that his life had been stolen from him.”

In a tragedy that could have been scripted right out of Hollywood, Phil Hartman was killed by his third wife, Brynn Omdahl, in May of 1998. Omdahl shot Hartman as he slept in their Encino, Calif., home. She committed suicide hours later.

More than a decade later, Hartmann, 58, who was born in Brantford, Ont., along with older brother Phil, is campaigning to have his brother remembered in a more permanent and positive way. He wants Phil Hartman's name (the comedian dropped the “n” when he started performing) in a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto's Entertainment District.

“I think it would be an incredible honour,” says Hartmann.

Phil was 49 when he died. He would have been 64 this year.

Somewhat surprisingly, his brother bears little ill will toward Omdahl.

“I didn't know Brynn very well. But she did have a real level of compassion and she was a genuine loving person,” says Hartmann. “But obviously when you start mixing anti-depressants with alcohol and drugs it's not a good thing.”

The Walk of Fame honours notable Canadians such as hockey player Gordie Howe and King Kong actress Fay Wray with distinctive maple leaf-like stars. There are 13 blocks designated for the walk, mostly in the Entertainment District on King St. W.

“Phil was a phenomenal comedian. He was like Magic Johnson on the Lakers, he could play any position and make everyone look better,” says Toronto comedian Ben Miner.

Miner, 31, says he was too young to stay up watching Saturday Night Live, so he would tape the show and watch it Sunday mornings.

His favourite Hartman characters were Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and Troy McClure (the cowboy on The Simpsons). Hartman was also known for the brilliance of his Bill Clinton and Charlton Heston parodies on SNL, where he stayed for eight seasons and won an Emmy. After leaving SNL, he starred as Bill McNeal in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio.

Brother Paul's campaign got a shot in the arm with SiriusXM Canada declaring April Phil Hartman month. The station's Laugh Attack channel 160 is playing many of his greatest hits as well as testimonials from family, friends and fans.

“When I first met Paul I couldn't believe that Phil Hartman didn't already have a star on the Walk of Fame,” says Miner, a host on Laugh Attack.

Canadians get a say in who gets inducted into the 2012 walk through submissions to the official website ( www.canadaswalkoffame.com) or Facebook fan page ( www.facebook.com/canadaswalkoffame). Nominations close Monday at 11:59 p.m.

Nominees must be born in Canada or have spent their formative years here. They must also have had a national or international impact on Canadian heritage. So far, 137 Canadians have been inducted.

Of the seven Canadians to be inducted this year, only one will receive the award posthumously, so the competition is fierce.

“It's the most competitive of all the categories,” says Peter Soumalias, CEO and founding director of the walk.

Soumalias will have one vote on a committee of seven. The committee meets in May and he expects to announce the winner in June.

“You've got Al Waxman, Jeff Healey, Oscar Peterson, Barbara Frum and Yvonne De Carlo, who are also very worthy. And they don't have stars either, so it will be a tough decision,” says Soumalias. “But my heart certainly goes out to Paul: this is his third year that he's been lobbying so hard. And I know that when we look around the boardroom we're going to be very sensitive to his efforts.”

Hartmann isn't the only one lobbying hard with the help of a major media organization this year.

This month, Thescore.com launched a campaign to have Canadian wrestler Bret “Hitman” Hart on the walk.

“In its 14-year history, Canada's Walk of Fame has yet to honour a professional wrestler,” says Score on-air personality Arda Ocal. “There have been many efforts and attempts and, unfortunately, each year the cards just did not fall in place. This year, we would like to attempt to change that.”

After three years of trying to get his brother on the walk, Paul Hartmann knows how difficult the road to recognition can be. In 2010, he first campaigned along with fan Alex Tsougrianis. He did 198 interviews for radio, print and TV. He thought it was a sure thing. It wasn't.

“There is certainly a lot of competition out there. And you never know what can happen, but every vote counts,” says Hartmann. “I'm hoping this is the year.”

Swimming Champion Dale Oen Dies During Training Camp In Arizona

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Louise Nordstrom, The Associated Press

(May 01, 2012) STOCKHOLM—Alexander Dale Oen, a world champion swimmer who was one of Norway's top medal hopes for the London Olympics, has died during a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was 26.

The president of the Norwegian swimming federation, Per Rune Eknes, told The Associated Press via telephone that Dale Oen died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

In a statement, the federation said the 100 metre breaststroke world champion was found collapsed on the floor of his bathroom late Monday. He was taken to the Flagstaff Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“We're all in shock,” Norway Coach Petter Loevberg said. “This is an out-of-the-body experience for the whole team over here. Our thoughts primarily go to his family who have lost Alexander way too early.”

Hospital spokeswoman Starla Collins confirmed the death, but did not provide further details.

Dale Oen earned his biggest triumph in the pool at last year's worlds in Shanghai when he won the 100 breaststroke, a victory that provided some much-needed joy back in Norway just three days after the massacre by right-wing extremist Anders Breivik that killed 77 people — including children at a summer camp.

Dale Oen dedicated the win to the victims of that massacre, pointing to the Norwegian flag on his cap after the finish to send a message to his countrymen back home.

“We need to stay united,” he said after the race. “Everyone back home now is of course paralyzed with what happened but it was important for me to symbolize that even though I'm here in China, I'm able to feel the same emotions.”

His death dominated the news in Norway on Monday, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter that “Alexander Dale Oen was a great sportsman for a small country. My thoughts go to his family and friends.”

The Norwegian team is holding a camp in Flagstaff ahead of the Olympics, and the federation said Dale Oen had only underwent a light training session on Monday, and also played some golf that day. But teammates became worried when the swimmer spent an unusually long time in the shower, and entered his bathroom when he failed to respond to their knocks on the door.

The federation said “they found Dale Oen laying partly on the floor, partly on the edge of his bathtub.”

Team doctor Ola Roensen said he immediately began performing CPR until an ambulance arrived.

“Everything was done according to procedure, and we tried everything, so it is immensely sad that we were not able to resuscitate him,” Roensen said. “It is hard to accept.”

In his last tweet on Monday, Dale Oen said he was looking forward to going back home: “2 days left of our camp up here in Flagstaff, then it's back to the most beautiful city in Norway.. (hashtag)Bergen.”

Dale Oen was born in Bergen, Norway's second largest city, on May 21, 1985. He was the second son of Mona Lillian Dale and Ingolf Oen.

He started swimming at the age of 4, and said on his website that the sport “came very easy and natural for me.”

He is the second high-profile athlete to die from cardiac arrest recently, after Italian football player Piermario Morosini collapsed on the pitch during a Serie B game for Livorno last month. That incident came just a month after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba also collapsed during a game, but survived.

“It feels unreal that Alexander Dale Oen is no longer with us,” Norwegian skiing champion Aksel Lund Svindal, the two-time overall world Cup champion, said on Twitter. “My thoughts go out to his family, friends and his whole team in Flagstaff.”

Keri-Anne Payne, the 10-kilometre open water world champion from Britain, said: “Such sad news for swimming.”

::MUSIC NEWS::

Bernie Finkelstein: Smarts And Magic Led Yorkville Hustler True North

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(May 02, 2012) Q: Most of what you accomplished in the way of helping establish a national identity in music has been forgotten, taken for granted or swept into the corners of history. Why does this memoir matter?

A: There’s an old expression: A country that can’t remember its past has no future. And Margaret Atwood once said Canada suffers from cultural amnesia. I believe that’s true. When I heard someone on radio not too long ago congratulating Leslie Feist for being the first female Canadian artist on an independent label to have a No. 1 record, I was appalled. These people can’t even remember Sarah McLachlan, who achieved the same status just a few years ago, to say nothing of Patsy Gallant back in the 1970s.

That gave me pause. I’m not convinced people need to remember me particularly, but it is important that a version of how we got here, written by someone who was a witness and a participant, is available if anyone wants to check the record sometime in the future. That was my motivation.

Q: Apart from some humorous and surprisingly candid accounts of your own embrace of the Yorkville drug culture in the 1960s and ’70s, you steer clear of the usual scandalous revelations and back-room shenanigans that people have come to expect from a memoir about the music business. Were you tempted to tell tales?

A: I was more interested in the cultural politics of those years . . . When Murray McLauchlan was banned from the CNE in the early 1980s because the organizers had mistaken him for (Nova Scotia’s raunchy musical comedy duo) MacLean & MacLean, the real story was that the people running one of the country’s major concert series didn’t even know who Murray was. Canadians were considered back-of-the-bus acts. That offended me.

I just found that the book was more alive when I was writing about the music I was trying to break, rather than the back-room stuff.

Q: You’re known in the business for your intense allegiance to your artists and your relentlessness on their behalf. But in the book, much of your success seems to have been good fortune rather than cunning and strategy. Aren’t you being too modest?

A: I was serendipitous a lot of times. But I had become smart, working my way up in Yorkville. I may not have been certain about what was going on, but I could sense when something was coming together. I knew how to be there when it did, and I knew how to work hard.

Before True North was even an idea, I went to New York for the first time at age 19 with the single purpose of getting a record deal for the band I was managing, The Paupers.

I did that in the morning, and in the afternoon I was sitting in the Café Au Go Go in Greenwich Village — the temple of New York’s hip live music scene — turning down an offer for the band to open for Ian and Sylvia, who were huge at the time, and asking instead for a slot opening the first New York show by Jefferson Airplane.

I just knew, from the buzz among the underground network and the drug dealers in Yorkville, that they’d draw the right audience for The Paupers. And I was right. The Paupers rose to the challenge. They blew Jefferson Airplane off the stage.

Twenty-four hours later I was standing in the doorway of (Bob Dylan and The Band manager) Albert Grossman’s Manhattan apartment, staring at his wife, Sally, who was on the cover of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, which I’d listened to maybe 500 times.

Is that strategy? You tell me.

I believe that when magic happens, you shouldn’t claim it’s yours.

Kid Koala’s Space Cadet Headphone Experience

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(May 02, 2012) Kid Koala’s stunning new graphic novel, Space Cadet, is one of the saddest things you’ll ever read, even sadder when experienced in tandem with the elegiac instrumental soundtrack tucked into the front cover.

The Montreal turntable wizard thus thought it a bit disingenuous to tour behind such a sombre multimedia work in normal, block-rockin’ fashion and came up with a novel way to present it on the road dubbed the “Space Cadet Headphone Experience.”

At his two shows at 918 Bathurst this Thursday and Friday, attendees will get their own set of headphones at the door and an inflatable “space pod” upon which to recline while Koala, himself clad in headphones, performs some of his heart-tuggingly atmospheric new soundscapes on decks and piano. All the while, etchings from the Space Cadet book — a tragic but beautiful tale of a young astronaut and her guardian robot — will be projected on screens, creating an immersive experience that the Kid hopes will catapult adults back to magical childhood storytimes.

Children are welcome, too. These are totally family-friendly gigs, complete with a science-centre-ish “Exploratorium” where you can mess around with some of his old gear and look at vintage space-themed album covers. Koala — 36-year-old Eric San — has a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old of his own, and composed and conceived the entire Space Cadet experience heavily under the influence of parenting.

Q: From whence does the “family-friendly” nature of this tour arise?

A: Well, most of the music happened shortly after my first daughter was born, which I think had a direct impact on how lullaby-like all the music is. She would be in the studio with me three feet away from my turntables and piano or whatever, so I was trying not to wake her up. I was in full bubble mode. And because I was trying not to wake her up, I was wearing headphones while I was recording it so it made most sense that the audience would experience it that way, too. But because of it, you can dial the volume to your own comfort and people aren’t afraid to bring their toddlers. They’re not gonna be in a standing room with 100-decibel speakers blasting. It’s completely up to them how much sound they need.

Q: It can’t be cheap to take this set-up on the road.

A: No, not at all. This is, by far, our most ambitious and expensive touring production. But it was me trying to find a contextual way to present this story and the tone of the music, to create a concert experience that made sense with the tempo and volume of the music, and the detail in the music. I thought it would be kind of lying to people if I just rocked the party and played a bunch of hip-hop records and then everybody brought the book home and cried themselves to sleep. Other than that, it was just trying to do something different that was a departure from my normal style of show, just to keep our crew interested as a touring party.

Q: It must be weird looking out over that crowd.

A: For me, as a performer, it actually feels more dangerous in a way because it’s so quiet in the room. You can hear everything. It’s a cocooned music experience, that’s the best way I can describe it. We do have a quad system in the room, but really what we’re using that for is just space ambience. So if, at any point, you take your headphones off, you’re just gonna hear Dr. Who lunar-landscape noises. It’s pretty trippy that way. If you look at any of the bootlegs of the shows to date, they don’t make any sense because it just looks like a pantomime show.

Q: You’ve got a new album (12-Bit Blues) and new releases by Deltron 3030 and the Slew on the way. How do you manage all this work with two kids?

A: I’ve found having children incredibly focusing. Where I used to toil over getting a snaredrum sound or finding a way to tweak something in the studio for a week, now I kinda go from the gut more. Your kids are growing up so fast, you don’t want to miss anything. So if it’s, like, “All right, this beat’s not hitting,” I’ll hit “exit” and go catch my daughter’s first steps.

Willis Earl Beal Digs Deep At The Drake

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(May 01, 2012) "If there is light, it will find you." The concept, soul singer and unusual new person began his performance Monday at the Drake Hotel Underground by reading Bukowski's The Harder You Try. After, he took off his jacket, keeping with the Blues Brothers sunglasses and the black glove on his right hand. He's a compact man - brown and handsome like a young Wesley Snipes. He sang a cappella at first, set to a slow boot-heal rhythm: "I got the low rinse solitary cool like a fool in the summertime." Then, nervous applause.

And this was
Willis Earl Beal.

The self-styled incomplete unknown from Chicago arrived for his second Canadian appearance - he played Montreal on Sunday - with a backstory. Seeking attention, he would post hand-drawn fliers on the streets of Chicago ("write to me and I will make you a drawing" or "call me and I will you sing you a song"). His curious debut album Acousmatic Sorcery, a crude but charismatic effort of sweet blues and louder street-corner exclaim, was issued on XL Recording, the home of Adele and Radiohead. The unrefined songs document Beal's hardscrabble stint in Albuquerque.

"Let's see," he said, considering his guitar for song No. 2. It doesn't go far enough to say that Beal is no virtuoso. Rather, he is resolutely untrained. Seated now, he placed the instrument on his lap, moving his thumb across the fret board while he plucked at the easiest arpeggios with his other hand. Later, he would use a toothpick on the top two strings to achieve a simple, clean drone.

For his next trick, Beal took the white sheet off a reel-to-reel tape machine which would play his lo-fi backing tracks for most of the night. Against thudding, dirty beats he seriously shouted. He struck a James Brown pose or two. He hardly ever let go of his rum and Coke, even as the rest of his body shook electrically.

For the last number, he asked the audience to clap the field-holler beat to Same Ol' Tears. "I neglected to get me more talent," he explained. That was absolutely true.

Sweating profusely, this lost tribe of one worked in a cathartic, self-bruising style. Before he left, he described his CDs for sale as his "collection plate." It wouldn't have been out of the question for him to ask his young audience to give until it hurt. In his performance-art, self-consciously idiosyncratic way, Beal had done as much himself.

Willis Earl Beal

At the Drake Hotel Underground in Toronto

Monday, April 30

Willis Earl Beal plays Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret, May 5.

Itzhak Perlman, Peter Oundjian with TSO: Review

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(Apr 29, 2012) There was a special warmth in the air at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday night as violin legend Itzhak Perlman and his onetime student Peter Oundjian raised violins together onstage.

Oundjian, whose usual job is to be music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, had ceded the conductor's podium to Perlman for the last of three concerts honouring the great violinist.

But Oundjian came out, mid-program, to play J.S. Bach's well-worn D minor Concerto for Two Violins, BWV 1043, with Perlman, telling the capacity house that this was his first public violin performance in 17 years.

The audience leapt to multiple standing ovations during this concert, which also included the Overture to Mozart's opera Escape From the Seraglio, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.

As a love-in, the evening was a smash. As a symphonic event, it showcased the Toronto Symphony's remarkable skills and discipline but fell short of any sort of musical magic.

It's wonderful to hear Bach on modern instruments, especially when played with the careful attention displayed by the 20 string players and Pat Krueger on harpsichord.

But Perlman and Oundjian paid so little attention to the orchestra around them that it sometimes seemed a miracle that everyone made it to the end together, and in one piece.

In a demonstration of how a conductor does not need to turn a symphony into an aerobic workout, Perlman took decisive charge of Tchaikovsky's Fifth, shaping a clear, dead-conventional reading of a four-movement score laden with shifting colours and moods.

This gave us the opportunity to hear not what Perlman thinks of the music, but to focus on what Tchaikovsky had laid out in his recurring themes and masterful orchestration in 1888.

The minimal interventions by the conductor could have been one more example of Perlman's generous spirit.

He has spent most of his 66 years inspiring youngsters to pick up the violin, and a lot of time over the past decade finding new ways to turn that sort of inspiration into reality – and Peter Oundjian is a fine example of that.

Norah Jones Makes The Best Of A Broken Heart

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Apr 27, 2012) It is the definition of bittersweet. Norah Jones confronts her lover at dawn and whispers that she's leaving - leaving for a Danger Mouse, darling, sorry to break it to you this way.

Good Morning is the opening track on Jones's gorgeous new record, which is produced and co-written by Brian Burton, that wunderkind collaborator with the cartoon-character sobriquet. The song - some hazy, languid Lee Hazlewood morning - signals the album's darker, icier tones. Yes, that's a cello. Breezy it isn't.

"More loving is all I was after," she explains, "but you couldn't give it, so I'm moving on." And is she ever.

In 2002, the singer greeted us in a Grammy-winning way: Come Away With Me was her irresistible debut album. It's been something of a trip ever since, with the ear-catching single Don't Know Why seeming so far in the past now. The path, which began slowly, has picked up speed lately. Earlier this year she released a second LP with her roots-country group the Little Willies. The year 2011 saw her involved with Burton, the rock 'n' roll Renaissance man Jack White and the Italian composer Daniele Luppi for Rome, a work of high concept and Morricone-styled cinema music.

Little Broken Hearts, you could guess, is about a relationship split and moving on from the wreckage. We hear Jones's calling card, that smoky, sweet and sultry voice. It is one of the most listenable and supple natural instruments of our time. Burton beds it with contemporary production - strings, synths, dryly strummed guitars and modern, measured beats. Tranquil, downcast psychedelia is also at work.

There's a queer pertness, quivering vocal effect and Wurlitzer wobble to Say Goodbye, which could have been just another melodic Jones piano tune without Burton in charge.

The title track uses a reverberating guitar shudder to accent chilly thoughts on a restless couple: "Beautiful soldiers in their bed, makin' love inside their heads." This is sex together and apart.

I'm not sure about Jones as a lyricist. That last Little Willies record (For the Good Times) was a covers disc, and The Fall, her previous solo album, addressed similar themes as Little Broken Hearts. Two breakup records in a row? Really?

That being said, the sounds, singing, arrangements and melodies carry the day. On the liquidly forlorn She's 22 - oh, that younger harlot - the readable emotion in Jones's voice stops you in your tracks. On the chorus to the twinkle-and-twanged 4 Broken Hearts, one swears Neko Case had pushed aside Jones in the studio - the latter's vocals never having sounded so steely before.

So who is this record for? Do the indie kids flock to this stylish new Jones? Do the soccer moms blanch at the sophistication? It's hard to say. The bouncy lead single Happy Pills, with its playful synthesizer riff and radio-ready chug, is something to which the singer's long-time fans would bop heads. The stately ballad Miriam courts Adele appreciators. And All a Dream sounds like a malnourished Black Keys track (I mean this in a good way).

On Out On The Road, the most unremarkable of the dozen selections, Jones sings "on the way to paradise, a little voice says, 'Don't think twice, and don't look back if you want things to change.' "In more ways than one, that's what this album is about. Norah Jones moves on. Who will come away with her now?

Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones

Blue Note

Other new releases

INDIE

Master of My Make-Believe

Santigold

Warner

Three stars

Even though she's no crooner, Santi White has a powerful voice. She cops a punky reggae shout for her de rigueur second-album broadsides against the music industry, a truth-to-power holler that makes your head neck snap around as you cruise past it. That arresting quality isn't much use when her complaints are lazy, or when her beats veer toward ersatz "ethnic fusion" - The Riot's Gone and This Isn't Our Parade could both be sampled from the Lion King soundtrack. But when White gets her swagger on, spitting insults like an automatic pistol on Look At These Hoes or cracking wise about competitors ("now we buy you by the pound") on Freak Like Me, she's electric. Dave Morris

COUNTRY

Blown Away

Carrie Underwood

Sony Music

Two stars

Underwood is a country singer out of the Linda Ronstadt school - that is, one who prefers the crunch of Marshall stacks to the whine of a pedal steel, and who believes any song melody worth singing deserves belting. In that sense, what the title of her fourth album most evokes is the guy from the old Maxell ads, pinned to his chair by the sound. Although she'll happily tax your speakers with the likes of Good Girl, all sound and fury and signifying nothing, it's bothersome that even the quiet numbers such as the Alzheimer's weeper Forever Changed seem oversold. Next time she should turn down the volume and crank up the sincerity. J.D. Considine

BLUES

Stronger For It

Janiva Magness

Alligator

Three stars

Somebody messed with the deep-throated blues shouter Janiva Magness, yet she survives. A dozen songs - originals and covers of Tom Waits, Gladys Knight, Ike Turner, and Buddy and Julie Miller - speak to defiance, pain, vengeance and rising above. Sometimes her gutsy vocals come too close to the belting-broad manner of Sass Jordan, but Magness finds her right spot with Shelby Lynne's I'm Alive, a bit of Memphis soul there. The finale is Ray Wylie Willie Hubbard's Whoop and Holler, which is exactly what she does - a revitalized and joyous exhale, taking it on home. Brad Wheeler

FOLK

Older Than My Old Man Now

Loudon Wainwright III

2nd Story Sound

Three stars

"I had a few children, wrote a few songs; I got some of it right, and a lot of it wrong." With his spry, reflective new album, the underappreciated singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright considers family and mortality with frankness and wry jest. On the harmonica-riding Ghost Blues he's the guest at his own funeral, but elsewhere this is a tuneful affair of friends and family reunited. Guests include his four children, two of their three mothers, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and, on novelty number I Remember Sex, Dame Edna. The piano ballad In C is an affecting appraisal of a life and career - when worlds fell apart, "there's not a thing I can do, except to sing in C to you." This is very much your father's Loudon Wainwright - he hasn't changed his tune, just his view. B.W.

Loudon Wainwright III plays Toronto's Hugh's Room May 2-3, and Victoria's Hermann's Jazz Club May 21.

Q-Tip Joins Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 28, 2012) *Kanye West is adding a new, yet old face to his roster at G.O.O.D. Music (distributed by Def Jam).

Q-Tip just signed with the rapper and entrepreneur, and is expected to release his fourth solo album, “The Last Zulu” in 2013.

“I’m excited to be a part of the great iconic Def Jam label,” Q-Tip added in the statement. “I’m humbled to be a part of such a storied history. To reconnect with Barry Weiss is a great thing. As far as G.O.O.D. Music, I’m excited to solidify my working relationship with Kanye, and I look forward to all the opportunities that lie ahead in our partnership. I will do my best to present the most cutting edge music I can.”

Barry Weiss, Universal Republic and Island Def Jam CEO, said in a press release that he’s excited to have the rapper back on his team. The two worked together in the past, so this serves as a reunion.

“He is a respected voice in the music community as shown by his acclaimed solo albums and countless contributions to the work of other artists,” Weiss. “His creativity continues to surpass all boundaries of hip-hop, R&B, pop, and jazz. We welcome Q-Tip to the G.O.O.D. Music / Island Def Jam family.”

Lenny Kravitz to Reissue 1991 Album ‘Mama Said’ with Extras

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 1, 2012) *Lenny Kravitz will release a Deluxe Edition of his platinum 1991 sophomore album “Mama Said” on June 5, reports Billboard.com, who spoke with the singer and “Hunger Games” star about the time period in which the CD was crafted.

Just off touring to support his debut album, “Let Love Rule,” Kravitz told Billboard, “It was a crazy time. My ex-wife (actress Lisa Bonet, who he divorced in 1993) and I were going through issues. I just had my child the year before (‘Let Love Rule’ came out). I was adjusting to success and…fame. It was a lot to deal with. I ended up kind of going into hibernation, ’cause at that point I went through a pretty serious depression. I just let all these feelings out onto the songs. It was very cathartic for me.”

“Mama” peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard 200, but gave Kravitz a No. 2 Hot 100 single in “It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over” and a Top 10 Alternative Rock hit in “Always on the Run,” with guitar by high school pal Slash.

“That changed things,” he notes. “That was the first time I would walk outside and hear the songs coming out of people’s cars and out of stores in New York City. I was happy about that; I grew up wanting to get a record deal and make records people listened to, and now it was happening. But it did change the perspective.”

For the Deluxe Edition of “Mama Said,” Kravitz raided his vaults to create a two-disc package that features 21 bonus tracks, 15 of which have been previously unreleased. The treasure trove features home demos of “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,” “The Difference is Why” and “What the…Are We Saying?,” remixes, instrumental takes of several tracks and eight songs recorded live in Japan and in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The set also includes two previously unreleased (and unfinished) songs, “Riding on the Wings of My Lord” and the instrumental segue “Framed, Lying, Crying.”

The full track list for “Mama Said: Deluxe Edition” is listed below. (*) Indicates previously unreleased:

DISC 1
1. Fields of Joy
2.
Always on the Run
3.
Stand by My Woman
4. It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over
5. More Than Anything in This World
6. What Goes Around Comes Around
7. The Difference Is Why
8. Stop Draggin’ Around
9. Flowers For Zoe
10. Fields of Joy (Reprise)
11. All I Ever Wanted
12. When the Morning Turns to Night
13.
What The …. Are We Saying?
14. Butterfly
15. Light Skin Girl From London
16. I’ll Be Around
17. Always On The Run (Instrumental)
18. It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over (12″ Remix Instrumental)*
19. It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over (12″ Extended/Dub version)*
DISC 2
1. Riding On The Wings Of My Lord (Rough Demo)*
2. It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over (Home Demo)*
3. What The …. Are We Saying (Home Demo) *
4. The Difference Is Why (Home Demo)*
5. Riding On The Wings Of My Lord (Funky Vocal)*
6. Riding On The Wings Of My Lord (Instrumental)*
7. Framed, Lying, Crying (Instrumental)*
8. Stand By My Woman (Instrumental)*
9. Stop Draggin’ Around (Live in Rotterdam)*
10. Always On The Run (Live in Rotterdam)*
11. Fields Of Joy (Live in Rotterdam)*
12. Stand By My Woman (Live in Rotterdam)*
13. More Than Anything In This World (Live in Rotterdam)*
14. Always On The Run (live in Japan)
15. Stop Draggin’ Around (live in Japan)
16. What The… Are We Saying? (live in Japan)
(*) Indicates previously unreleased

VIDEO: Britain’s Got Talent Does It Again with Malaki Paul

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

(Apr 30, 2012) Malaki Paul, 9, suffers a little stage fright on Britain's Got Talent, but proves himself later.

Britain really does have talent. It is evident in some of the most brilliant singers they’ve discovered over the years. The popular show has found a real diamond in the rough this time with a boy that probably thought his dream would never be realized in this competition.

Malaki Paul, 9, came to the show with a big voice, but a timid child’s heart. He probably stared out into the audience and saw all those faces expecting his talent to be bigger than his small frame, but his performance would fall short. He was overwhelmed.

Paul’s mom was there to support him and renewed his strength with comforting words and hugs. But not only did his mom believe in him, one of the judges ran from her chair to assure him that he would be given another chance. The rest…is what they call…history.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Mary Mary and Fred Hammond to be Honoured at Essence Music Fest

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 29, 2012) *The dynamic Gospel sister duo, Mary Mary has made waves in the Gospel music industry and now they are being recognized for their work. Both Tina and Erica Campbell are to be honored during an all-star salute at the Essence Music Festival. But the celebration could not be complete without a little love to ever evolving Fred Hammond. This celebration isn’t something to miss. Other appearances include Yolanda Adams, Maurette Brown Clark, Kim Burrell, Byron Cage, Tyronne Foster & The Arc Singers, Tramaine Hawkins, Israel Houghton, Bishop Lester Love and Pastor Marvin Winans. The salute will take place Sunday, July 8 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Tickets are currently available for the annual music festival via essence.com/festival.

London Olympics To Open With Duran Duran

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(May 01, 2012) There will be a retro feel at a concert to mark the start of the 2012 London Olympics, with 1980s heartthrobs Duran Duran among the headliners. Organizers said Tuesday that the band, which had hits three decades ago with songs including Rio and The Reflex, will represent England at the July 27 concert in London's Hyde Park, which features acts from each of the four parts of the United Kingdom. Lead singer Simon Le Bon said the show would be "one of the highlights of the last decade for us." The other headliners are Snow Patrol from Northern Ireland, Stereophonics from Wales and Scotland's Paolo Nutini. The games' opening ceremony, taking place across town at the Olympic Stadium, will be broadcast on giant screens at the gig. Tickets go on sale Friday.

::FILM NEWS::    

Deepa Mehta's ‘Midnight's Children' Set For October

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(May 01, 2012) Toronto—Deepa Mehta's long-awaited film adaptation Midnight's Children will hit Canadian theatres in October.

Producer David Hamilton says the movie is slated to screen for Canadian audiences Oct. 26 and he's hoping for a debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Mehta, the film's Toronto-based director, co-wrote the script with author Salman Rushdie, who published his acclaimed novel Midnight's Children in 1981.

The film centres on a pair of children born within moments of India gaining independence from England.

Hamilton said the feature has been sold in 60 territories so far but he didn't know the release plan in other countries.

He hoped Canadian audiences would be the first to lay eyes on the film, which he called ambitious “in every single way.”

“It's a rich cinematic experience, there's no question about that,” said Hamilton, who also produced Mehta's Oscar-nominated Water, Heaven on Earth and Bollywood/Hollywood.

“Whether they like the film or not, I don't think anyone will leave the theatre feeling, ‘Oh that wasn't a cinematic experience.’ Everyone will leave knowing that they'd seen something that's quite special, unique.”

Hamilton said shooting Midnight's Children involved more than 60 locations, featured more than 100 different roles, and boasted a wild mix of production challenges.

“We had everything happening in it — we had snakes, cobras, live cobras, we had tanks, military equipment, bombers, things blowing up, people dying, people being born,” he said of the film's myriad stunts, visual effects and plot points.

But one of the toughest days on set was a hospital scene that showed the hero's birth. Hamilton said that shoot involved more than a dozen babies less than two weeks old.

“There was no ‘Quiet on the set,“’ Hamilton said laughing.

“We could have just had the one baby in focus but to make it real, we wanted to actually have the babies there and they have to be within that two-week (age span). They change. A month-old baby doesn't look like a newborn. So we had to have them under two weeks old and so we had this holding room for the ... mothers and some of the fathers and all their babies. It was quite extraordinary, it was beautiful, actually.”

The Competition For Films Among Toronto’s Festivals Grows Fierce

Source: www.thestar.com - By Chantaie Allick

(Apr 27, 2012) Toronto’s abundance of film festivals might finally be reaching its saturation point.

With more than 70 festivals a year, the options for cinephiles of all stripes are near endless. But as the city’s two flagship festivals — TIFF and Hot Docs — continue to grow, with new homes and a demand for year-round screenings, they have put a competitive squeeze on the second tier, some programmers say.

“We’re so lucky to have so many festivals, but there are downfalls,” said Chris McDonald, the executive director of Hot Docs, which runs to May 6. Toronto has more film festivals than any other city in the world and is the third largest commercial market for films in North America after Los Angeles and New York, said McDonald.

There has always been friendly competition, but it has gotten fierce in recent years, according to Scott Miller Berry, executive director of Images Festival, a midsize experimental and independent film fest — the second oldest in the city — that just wrapped its 25th edition.

Berry blames the exponential growth of Hot Docs. The documentary festival had an audience of 32,000 in 2003. This year it is anticipating 160,000.

To feed that growing audience, Hot Docs has demanded more titles, which at times has meant competing with smaller festivals. Images expected to screen The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye and three other titles last year, but lost them to Hot Docs, Berry says, because of the latter festival’s policy of only showing Toronto premieres.

After a series of back-and-forth negotiations, Hot Docs held firm about the policy and Images had to give up the films and change its catalogue.

“It was very disappointing and quite shocking, in that the timing was hard,” said Berry. Critical of the policy, he feels it punishes the filmmaker because they have to choose between fests, sometimes missing an opportunity with one while holding out for another later in the year. Audiences, who get fewer opportunities to see select films, also lose, he said.

Hot Docs follows Images in the spring, so most films that play at Images are barred from screening at Hot Docs or, later in the year, at TIFF, which has a North American premiere policy.

“I guess it’s economic more than anything,” explained McDonald. “In most cases a film that has already had exposure in this market will not find an audience.” Hot Docs also puts resources such as marketing and publicity behind the films and filmmakers they bring to the event, he added.

“The Toronto scene is very competitive in terms of the number of festivals, especially the spring festival season,” said Scott Ferguson, executive director of Inside Out. The LGBT festival benefits perhaps from its spot on the calendar, soon after Hot Docs ends. Six films on its schedule this year screened previously at Hot Docs.

He says some fest-goers prefer to see films among their peers, which is why Inside Out is able to replay films that have already screened.

Toronto has the audience for its multitude of festivals — Inside Out and others have seen their attendance grow consistently in the past several years — but are there enough good movies to go around?

Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, thinks so. “As more festivals have grown in Toronto there have been more films available to all of us,” he said. With the advent of digital technologies, it’s easier to make films and there are a lot more out there, Bailey explained.

Bailey added that many festivals share programming staff. Some, who work seasonally for TIFF, work for other festivals earlier in the year.

“We share staff, we’re sharing ideas, we share programmers in some few cases as well,” he said. “So I don’t think we can afford to be too competitive with each other because we’re really all trying to do the same thing, which is to bring non-commercial, non-multiplex kinds of movies to audiences in Toronto.”

Indeed, the increase in competition calls for collaboration. Berry, of Images Festival, says that this year the programming process with Hot Docs was a lot more communicative than in the past. Hot Docs agreed to fast-track decisions on films that were submitted to both festivals.

The main benefactor of this collaboration is the Toronto filmgoer.

“The competition and cooperation between us has had a lot of impact, but one of them has certainly been on the quality of the experience. There aren’t a lot of disorganized festivals in this city,” said McDonald. “People love movies in this city and they’re great audiences. It’s that interest that has helped all of these festivals grow.”

Rishi Kapoor Reflects On A Bollywood Dynasty

Source: www.thestar.com - Aparita Bhandari

(Apr 30, 2012) Born into the third generation of Bollywood's most famous dynasty, it was inevitable that
Rishi Kapoor would become an actor. His grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor acted in India's first “talkie,” Alam Ara (1931). His father Raj Kapoor has been called Indian cinema's Victor Hugo. He established RK Films in 1948 and was the subject of a Toronto International Film Festival retrospective last year.

Now 59, Rishi Kapoor was barely in his teens when he appeared in his father's magnum opus Mera Naam Joker (1970). Then came Bobby (1973), a teenage-runaway romance. A huge hit, it launched Kapoor's career as a romantic heart-throb through much of the seventies and eighties. He eventually married his reel- and real-life sweetheart Neetu (Singh) Kapoor, and their son Ranbir Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s hottest young stars today.

Lately, Rishi Kapoor has played character roles in big-budget Bollywood productions such as Agneepath and Housefull 2. Released earlier this year, both films did brisk business at the box office, collecting close to $20-million (U.S.).

You’ve been acting in Hindi films for more than 40 years. If you had started now, how would your experience of Bollywood be different?

My first role fell into my lap. I remember one day, my father asking my mother if it would be okay for me to play the part. And my mother said, ‘All right, as long as it does not disturb his studies.’ I immediately went into my room, took out a foolscap sheet of paper and began practising my autograph. I was maybe 15, 16.

My father would mortgage everything to make his films. He owned a studio but we never owned a house until Bobby. Today banks finance films, there is corporate financing, films are insured.

As for actors, they get in on their own merits. My own son Ranbir is there because of his talent, not because he is Rishi Kapoor's son or Raj Kapoor's grandson.

How would you define what the current generation of filmmakers is doing?

In our times, the audience was more forgiving. We often made what we call “lost and found” cinema. Brothers got lost at birth, and then reunited by the end of the film.

Today our movies are more innovative because we are competing with world cinema, the Internet, TV, video games for the audience's attention. There are new voices who are thinking outside the [Bollywood] box.

Having said that, the movies that ultimately do big business are our run-of-the-mill films. People like their popcorn to last through the songs, fights and melodrama. Housefull 2 [a raunchy comedy about mistaken identities and a four-wedding finale] is the biggest blockbuster overseas this year.

One of your recent films Do Dooni Chaar (2010) was distributed by Disney in North America. How is their presence changing the Indian market?

Do Dooni Chaar was a very small film. I played a school teacher, and my wife Neetu played a homemaker. The film addressed a large problem in India – the teacher wants to buy a car, even though his salary can barely cover his house and kids.

It was an offbeat film, and people identified with it. I don't know if Disney is doing any more films in India. Of course, other studios like Fox are in India. They all recognize the growing market for Indian films. I say why not? The more the merrier.

How is your son Ranbir Kapoor's approach different from yours?

He is a on a different curve all together. The characters he opts for – whether it's Wake Up Sid, Rocket Singh or Rockstar – they are very different from roles other actors his age take. He doesn't want to be a romantic hero with 40 backup dancers. He wants roles of his age, to tell stories of his age. And he is winning accolades for it.

If your dad was in Bollywood today, would he be impressed by it?

I don't think so. He lived in a different time, and his sensibility was very different. For example the songs, they would not make any sense to him. In those days, they addressed an issue, they had some lyrical value. Not much of that exists any more. Nobody understands the beauty of dialogue, what is being said on screen. My father would have disowned me if he found out I worked in a film like Housefull 2.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Rishi and Neetu Kapoor will kick off a five-part series called Indian Cinema in Conversation on May 6 at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Ont. For information on tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000).

Special to The Globe and Mail

Michael Ealy: The “Think Like a Man” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

Born in Silver Spring, Maryland on August 3, 1973, Michael Ealy majored in English at the University of Maryland
before heading to New York City where he performed in several stage productions, including the off-Broadway hits Joe Fearless and Whoa Jack. After finding his breakout screen role as Ricky Nash in Barbershop and Barbershop 2, Michael rapidly rose through the ranks as one of Hollywood’s emerging young actors.

Since then, he’s starred opposite Kate Beckinsale in Underworld Awakening and opposite Matt Dillon, Idris Elba and Hayden Christensen in the action flick Takers, and he was personally picked by Will Smith to play his younger brother in Seven Pounds. He’s also portrayed a Buffalo Soldier in the Spike Lee World War II epic Miracle at St. Anna, and appeared in For Colored Girls with Kimberly Elise, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg and Phylicia Rashad.

On television, Michael is set to co-star in the new detective series, “Common Law,” which debuts on the USA Network on May 11. His other TV credits include stints on “The Good Wife,” “Californication” and “FlashForward.” As for accolades, a stellar performance on the Showtime miniseries “Sleeper Cell” earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

In addition, he was cast by Oprah Winfrey to star opposite Halle Berry in the made-for-TV movie “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” landing the first of his three NAACP Image Award nominations for his sterling performance in the picture. Here, he talks about playing Dominic in his latest picture, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey’s battle-of-the-sexes comedy which is currently #1 at the box office .

Kam Williams: Hi Michael, thanks for the time.

Michael Ealy: Hey, Kam, how’s it going, dude?

KW:Great, thanks. What interested you in Think Like a Man?

ME: Honestly, it was the first romantic comedy that I liked. I’d kind of avoided them for a while because I never felt that any of them were really smart enough. But when I read this script, I genuinely fell in love with the characters, especially my own. So, I just wanted to be a part of it.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: How flattering or unflattering to the image of the black male are the “types” that the actors are asked to portray in this film?

ME: That’s another great thing about this picture. Yes, the cast is predominantly African-American, but color is never really an issue in the film. It’s rarely brought up since, at the end of the day, these guys are going through universal relationship issues that anybody can relate to. So, while the characters like “The non-committer,” “The Player,” and “The Dreamer” might be recognizable as common stereotypes, color isn’t involved.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Did you do any preparation for your role as a food service worker by spending time in restaurants?

ME: The irony is that I spent five years as a waiter at a restaurant in New York City at the beginning of my acting career. So, I had a little bit of experience in food service. Fortunately, I didn’t actually have to prepare anything on camera in the movie, which saved me from having to take any cooking classes. [Chuckles] But I always appreciate a good chef.

KW: How did your parents feel about your becoming a struggling actor after help putting you through college? Did they ever pressure you to abandon acting for a more practical profession?

ME: No. my parents, God bless ‘em, were very supportive of me and my decision to pursue acting. Their dream for me and my sister was that we graduate from college. And as soon as I fulfilled that, they were extremely supportive of what I wanted to do next. I will always be grateful to them for that, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and encouragement.

KW: How hard was it working with an ensemble cast with so many big stars? Was it hard to get a little elbow room to do your thing?

ME: No, it felt a lot like my first movie, Barbershop, which was also an ensemble film, and which was also directed by Tim Story. So, it was sort of like a ten-year reunion.

KW: Tell me a little about your new TV series, Common Law. Since it’s a cop series revolving around black and white partners, it sounds a little like Psych, which is also on the USA Network?

ME: [Chuckles] It’s nothing like Psych. It’s an action comedy about two detectives who are really good at what they do. But they have different approaches to the work and to life in general, and that creates conflict and bickering and fights, sometimes. What happens is that their captain decides to send them to couples’ counseling in order to keep them together, because they always get their man. They basically just need a little help in getting along. What makes it funny is that the characters end up having a lot of the same issues as the married couples they’re in therapy with.

KW: Editor/legist Patricia Turnier asks: If you weren't acting, what career path would you have chosen?

ME: I’d have been a teacher.

KW:Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

ME: Wow! That’s a good question. [Pauses to reflect] I’m sure there is, but I don’t know what that question is right now. [Chuckles]

KW: If you can come up with a good generic question I can ask everybody, I’ll call it the Michael Ealy question.

ME: If you don’t mind, I’m going to give that some thought and I’ll send you one later. I really will.

KW: Much appreciated! The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

ME: Sometimes, yeah.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

ME: Yeah.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

ME: B

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

ME: Ooh, sweets.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

ME: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. (for more see HERE)

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you heard?

ME: An old school classic they played on a radio show I was on earlier today. Sorry, I can’t recall the name of the tune.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

ME: I love breakfast. I can make a mean omelet.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?

ME: Passion, ambition and talent.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favourite clothes designer?

ME: [Laughs] Man, I could get in trouble if I answer that one.

KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets,” asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?

ME: [LOL] When I bought my house in L.A., that was the best business decision I ever made, until the housing market crashed, and it became the worst business decision I ever made.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

ME: I’m aging.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

ME: Healing for the people in my family with medical problems. Definitely…definitely…

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

ME: A lion!

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

ME: My third birthday party.

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?

ME: This is such a great question. For me, my first big heartbreak is actually sports-related. My senior year, I became the starting wide-receiver on my nationally-ranked, high school football team as a walk-on. We have a good season, make it to the playoffs, and are on the verge of three-peating as state champs, when the coach decides to go to a two tight-end offense which suddenly makes me a non-factor. Then, the team went out and got spanked on our home field. I’ll never forget how I cried after the game, because I’d been denied the opportunity to help the team in the championship game, even though I had played a big role up to that point. It was like the coach forgot what had gotten us there. So, I never got to hold the trophy or savor a state championship. And I’ll never forget that first bitter heartbreak. I remember feeling devastated and going to church the next Sunday. My mom spoke to the pastor about it and, from the pulpit, he asked the congregation to pray for me. That did make me feel better, like I wasn’t alone. That was my first heartbreak. So, to answer your question, my first heartbreak devastated me, but it was the support of my family and my second family, my church family, that helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault, and that everything was going to be alright. That helped me tremendously later in life because in this business, as you surely know, Kam, there are a lot of things beyond your control.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

ME: [Reflects for a long time before responding] I’d say two qualities: perseverance, because you cannot be successful without confronting rejection and, second, studying. You have to know your craft. I find that most people who are very, very successful know their craft and have done the research.

KW: Two Pastor Alex Kendrick questions: When do you feel the most content?

KW: Between “Action!” and “Cut!”

KW: Secondly: What do you wish other people would note about you?

KW: That I don’t think as highly of myself as some people make me out to be. I am so far from arrogant, because I have been through enough to know that everything can go away in a moment. You know, I really don’t understand why anyone would want to put me on a pedestal.

KW: Bernadette also asks: What is your favourite charity?

ME: I have a number of charities I work with. I’m a big advocate of two in New York City, the Urban Arts Partnership and the Harlem’s Children’s Zone. What Geoffrey Canada has built in Harlem is something special. Honestly, he’s a hero of mine in a lot of ways. Really!

KW: I’ve tried to interview him, but have never been able to get him on the phone. Can you hook me up?

ME: Yes, that man’s very, very hard to get in touch with. But he’s a good friend, so I may be able to help.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

ME: Study your craft, first. Then explore the business side. If you can commit to mastering both, then you’re ready to pursue acting as a living. I really want people to understand that you can’t take shortcuts.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

ME: One of my heroes is Mr. Sidney Poitier. In his autobiography, “The Measure of a Man,” he talks about the difference between being a great person and being a great actor. I’m happiest when I’m acting, and I’ve dedicated my life to it. Still, as much as I love acting, at the end of the day, I want to be remembered as a great person, first, and as a great actor, second. I believe that acting is a talent while being a great person encompasses so much more: being a good father, a good husband and the ability to show compassion for others. There’s nothing more rewarding than making a difference doing charity work or being able to be there for a friend.

KW: Thanks again for the interview, Michael. It’s been an honour. Good luck with Think Like a Man and with Common Law.

ME: Thank you, Kam. This was special. Your questions were phenomenal. A lot of people clearly don’t do the same amount of preparation as you. So, I really appreciate it.

To see a trailer for Think Like a Man, visit HERE.

Summer Movies 2012: Revenge Of The Blockbusters

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Liam Lacey

(Apr 28, 2012) Ever since Steven Spielberg's Jaws ate up the box office back in 1975, summer blockbusters have been the bedrock of the Hollywood economy. Did last year's slump - attendance numbers were the lowest in 16 years - cause any doubts about stacking the chips on just a few summer weekends? On the contrary.

The 2012 lineup looks like a franchise-movie fire sale, with a train of $200-million special-effects-driven megamovies barrelling toward a global audience. With the debacle of John Carter apparently already forgotten, and the worldwide success of The Hunger Games setting the pace, this is shaping up as a record Hollywood summer. Here are the season's 10 biggest movies, designed above all to convince the tablet watchers and downloaders that, when it comes to impact, the big cinema screen is still where the action is.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)

At least until Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is released in December, this will be the biggest movie of the year. At 72, the Batman character is more culturally pervasive than ever, and almost obliged to surpass 2008's The Dark Knight, which topped a billion dollars at the box office and earned the late Heath Ledger an Oscar. A vertigo-inducing extended trailer, released along with last year's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, revealed an airplane hijacking another airplane. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman; English actor Tom Hardy (Inception) plays the mumbling, muzzle-masked villain Bane; and Anne Hathaway slinks it up as Catwoman.

2. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)

This reboot of the Spider-Man franchise should help people forget the problem-plagued Broadway show - and the underwhelming if money-making Spider-Man 3 - and maintain the Spidey franchise as one of the most lucrative in movie history. Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) steps into the director's chair, promising a more intimate approach, with Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as the new Peter Parker. Martin Sheen and Sally Field play Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Emma Stone is Peter's romantic interest. The villain? An old time Spider-Man fan fave, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a.k.a. Lizard, a former battlefield surgeon turned humanoid reptile.

3. The Avengers (May 4)

The Avengers may be the ultimate franchise-movie marketer's dream, a smart-bomb comic franchise that can be continually spun out from its characters. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) writes and directs. If anyone can keep some humour and soul in this gang of supermisfits, it should be him. There's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). With any luck, Marvel/Disney can keep the various Avenger permutations going to about 2030.

4. Men in Black III (May 25)

A decade after the last film, the Ray-Ban wearing alien-hunters are back, with Will Smith as Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K in director Barry Sonnenfeld's comic sci-fi series. Though the second film in the series lost much of its comic sharpness, the third incarnation looks promising: It involves time travel, with Josh Brolin as Jones's younger self back in the summer of '69, and The Flight of the Conchords' Jermaine Clement as an alien assassin.

5. Prometheus (June 8)

This is Ridley Scott's not-quite prequel to Alien, the 1979 sci-fi classic that made erupting bodies the favourite horror effect of the eighties. Only this time, the eruptions take place in 3-D. Once again, a spaceship is heading off to a distant planet, when trouble starts. The cast includes Charlize Theron as a corporate type, Michael Fassbender as the ship's cyborg, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, and Noomi Rapace ( Liz Salander in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as a kick-ass archaeologist to rival Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

6. The Bourne Legacy (Aug. 3)

Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass have said at least temporary good-byes to the propulsively moving franchise after three movies. Obviating the need to cast a new actor as the amnesiac agent Jason Bourne, writer Terry Gilroy created an entirely separate story about agent Aaron Cross, played by the ubiquitous Jeremy Renner. (Along with his Avengers appearance, he's rumoured to succeed Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies.) Presumably the thinking was that The Cross Legacy would have had entirely different connotations.

7. Total Recall

There was strong reaction at CinemaCon (the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners south of the border) to footage from this one, director Les Wiseman's remake of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 science-fiction tale starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Based on writer Philip K. Dick's story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, it's a mind-bending tale of virtual travel, memory wipes and identity theft. Colin Farrell stars as a factory worker who discovers he once had a different identity. Director Len Wiseman (Underworld) says the new version will be more psychological; the $200-million budget suggests otherwise.

8. Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)

The first non-sequel/prequel blockbuster of the 2012 summer finds a new role for Twilight's Kristen Stewart as the pale princess with an Evil Queen problem. Forget Disney's animated version. This one is a full live-action epic treatment with monsters, CGI, and massed medieval battles. When Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) gets bad news from her mirror (sounding like Darth Vader), she commands a hunter (Chris Hemsworth) to knock off the upstart beauty. Instead, the two outsiders bond, go into training and plan a revolution.

9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)

A product of contemporary mash-up culture, this film has a premise that wears its ridiculousness as a badge of honour. Georgian director Timur Bekmambetov made a couple of impressive Russian vampire war movies before his success with Angina Jolie's action film Wanted, so he's familiar with blood-sucking, if not American history. That part will be provided by novelist Seth Grahame-Smith, also the co-writer of the script, in which vampires start the Civil War so they can enslave us all and suck us dry. Wait until Fox News gets hold of this one.

10. Battleship (May 18)

The source is, nominally, a decades-old Hasbro war game in which competitors stick pegs into holes on either side of a screen, guessing where their rivals ships are placed. But the real source seems to be the maximum-mayhem approach of Roland Emmerich's 1996 alien-invasion fantasy Independence Day, with its screen-filling explosions, collapsing cities and bizarre alien machinery; it's already done $100-million plus in foreign release. Peter Berg (Hancock, Friday Night Lights) directs, with Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson and Rihanna as some of the earthlings ready to shoot back.

Michelle Yeoh Tames Her Action Star Self For The Lady

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 26, 2012) Long before she rose to mainstream stardom with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, Michelle Yeoh was searing eyeballs with her kinetic movie roles.

She’s understandably thought of as an action star, in movies that include the 1997 James Bond picture Tomorrow Never Dies.

But with the docudrama The Lady, opening Friday, the Malaysian-born and Hong Kong-defined Chinese actress seeks to change that limited view of her talents.

She plays Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader of Burma who has since 1990 been denied her title and subjected to house arrest by order of a military junta.

Yeoh, 49, spoke to the Star last fall, when The Lady premiered at TIFF:

Q. This is a different kind of role for you. People are used to seeing you as an action star.

A. I know. I’m glad I could show them something different.

Q. Were you seeking to change the public perception of you?

A. I don’t choose it like that when I read the script. I don’t say, “Okay, if it’s an action movie, it gets less priority” or whatever it is. When I read it, I just read it, and see if it gets me. If I want to be part of it, that’s how I choose.

Q. There are several references to Gandhi in the film, but I was thinking more of Sir Thomas More. Suu Kyi is a female “man for all seasons.”

A. I think you’re right, in that sense, because she’s very strong, disciplined and principled. That’s what she lives by. I think she’s heard it said about her that she’s stubborn or rigid or non-conforming. But she always turns around and says, “It’s not that, it’s about discipline.” She says, “I’m willing to listen, but I’m not willing to just do it because you have said I have to do something.”

Q. How familiar were you with Suu Kyi’s story before making the movie?

A. Before I started the movie, I was not familiar with Suu Kyi’s story. I wouldn’t dare say I was. It’s been a long time, since 1988, and all the things we knew of her come from Asia, so occasionally we’d get blurbs here and there. When I got the script (from director Luc Besson) I was like, Oh, wow, I’ve been a producer and I’m always looking for these amazing roles for selfish reasons as well, and I think, why didn’t I ever think of her?

But sometimes you are more wary of approaching subjects who are very much alive. There’s a lot of entanglement, whether you have blessings from the person or the family or whatever it is. I guess I always felt that there was no way to reach her, because her family couldn’t reach her for the longest of times . . . when I read stories about her, it takes my breath away.

Q. What did she tell you when you finally met her?

A. She talked about how her house arrest compared to the long prison confinement of Nelson Mandela, and how her situation was different: “I had more freedom.” She believes that when you are in prison, your mind is in prison. She was free of all that. She had no guilty conscience; she was doing what she believed was the right thing to do, and she used her time very wisely. She never let go of what was happening around her.

She also told me that one thing she achieved while under house arrest for the first time was learning meditation. Because you know in ordinary life, you are so full of things going on. When she was first released, she said she suddenly has no time any more. Too many things to do. It was a little chaotic. Which is true. But it takes someone with great inner strength to be able to go that step.

There’s an irony to the story: the Burmese General, after his regime, his daughter was put under house arrest, and she went mad. She couldn’t deal with this. That’s what isolation tries to do with you, if you can’t find the discipline, the will, to find a way to overcome it. Suu Kyi did it.

Q. Do you think people will accept you not flying through the air?

A. (Laughs) I think so. I think it’s time. Sometimes I have to be on the ground!

Two Canadian Filmmakers Take Top Honours At Tribeca Festival

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Apr 27, 2012) The African child soldier drama War Witch won best film and its 15-year-old star earned best actress Thursday night at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Tribeca announced its winners as the 11th annual edition of the New York festival wound down.

Montreal filmmaker Kim Nguyen shot War Witch in the Congo, where his young lead, Rachel Mwanza, was previously living on the streets. Mwanza, who earlier won best actress at the Berlin Film Festival, plays a pregnant teenager swept up in an unspecified revolution.

"I realized quickly that she has an immense talent," Nguyen said in an earlier interview. "When I asked her how she does it - how she bursts out in laughter, how she starts crying so normally - she just told me that she thinks of her past."

The festival jury said War Witch "balances scenes of crazy enemy hatred with moments of luminous private love."

Best documentary went to Toronto filmmaker Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her, a film that juxtaposes the lives of Indian girls pursuing pageant glory as Miss India with those participating in a Hindu fundamentalist movement.

The Dutch filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen, whose Wavumba depicts fishermen on the coast of Kenya, was named best new documentary director.

Best actor was given to both Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nunez Florian, who star in Lucy Mulloy's Una Noche. The film is about Cuban teenagers, struggling in poverty, who decide to flee to Florida.

It's a fiction that became reality when Nunez Florian and another actor from the film, Analin de la Rua de la Torre, disappeared in Miami en route to Tribeca from Havana. They are presumed to have defected from their native Cuba, where the film was shot.

Una Noche also won best cinematography for Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder's photography, and Mulloy was cited as best new narrative director.

The Tribeca Film Festival concludes Sunday.

Just Go Ahead, John Cusack, And Say Anything To Me

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Leah McLaren

(Apr 27, 2012) Lloyd Dobler, light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul, my … interview subject.

Okay, to be fair,
John Cusack has come a long way since the days when he won the hearts of a generation by blasting Peter Gabriel on a boom box over his head in the rain wearing a trench coat and karate pants. (Just in case you were born after 1985, that’s a reference to the movie Say Anything.)

In addition to coolly refusing to get married and becoming a member of the Twitterati – 860,811 followers at press time and counting – he’s made a bunch of movies, many of them excellent. (The Grifters, High Fidelity, Grosse Point Blank and Being John Malkovich spring immediately to mind.) While there are admittedly some duds in the bunch (let's not dwell on Must Love Dogs or Hot Tub Time Machine), for the most part Cusack has managed to maintain his dignity over 23-plus years of working in Hollywood.

If you think that’s any small feat, just compare his oeuvre with his fellow John Hughes movie pin-ups – Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez (how would you like to be best known as “Charlie Sheen’s brother”?) and Jon Cryer (worse yet, his “former sitcom co-star”?).

No doubt about it, Cusack emerged from the 1980s more unscathed than most of the so-called brat pack, and now, 2½ decades later, he’s sitting across from me in a suite in London’s Dorchester hotel, drinking a calorie-free morning Red Bull and attempting to win me over the way he’s been waiting to all these years. Okay, the truth is he’s here to promote his new film The Raven, a highly fictionalized horror biopic of Edgar Allen Poe, in which he stars as the drunken washed-up 19th-century poet himself.

The plot places the real-life Poe at the centre of a fictional thriller loosely based on the movie’s titular poem. Intrigued? So was Cusack, who describes his initial reaction to the script in ecstatic terms. “I thought it was an incredible conceit – a sort of highbrow popcorn thriller with this incredibly juicy literary character at the centre of it.”

The challenge, he says, was in getting the words just right. “Not many people today, or even back then, are as articulate as he was. These days we all have a collective agreement we’re all going to speak in fractured sentences and understand each other. But it wasn’t like that in Poe’s time. There was a real form and voluptuousness to language that I was determined to capture.”

Cusack did that by researching and playing with his performance and lines. “I wanted to max out the character. So I’d go back into one of his short stories and pull out a character’s line and put it in his mouth at one point in the script. I just really got into finding the idiom of the time.”

Director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) later tells me about one scene, now cut from the movie, in which Poe gets tossed from a barroom and rolls into the gutter muttering to himself. With each take, Cusack ad-libbed a different quote. “Most were from Poe’s poems, but one was in French, another was in Latin. I think he even threw in some Hunter S. Thompson for fun,” he says, laughing. “He was playing around but he was really serious about embodying the spirit of Poe.”

Taking things seriously is both Cusack’s raison d’être and weakness, emanating as he does from a pre-ironic age, before blasé cleverness trumped earnestness as the key to the thinking gal’s heart. There is, after all, nothing slackerish or tongue-in-cheek about Lloyd Dobler and his ghetto blaster.

The real-life Cusack, on the other hand, seems a bit … not prickly, exactly, but on the defensiveness spectrum. There is a lot of anxious, actor-generated eye contact as we chat. He leans forward, elbows on knees, brow furrowed and looks deep into my eyes in a way I find slightly unnerving, suggesting as it does hours spent in coffee houses and the company of expensive shrinks. He has a charming, scattershot sort of intelligence and a compelling need to connect, but you also get the sense that, if wounded, he could turn very cold very quickly. I bet those soft brown eyes do harden up, and fast.

I’m projecting on Cusack, of course, which is what celebrities are there for – but which is also slightly unfair, especially with an actor who’s done nothing worse than start off as a lightning rod for his generation and proceed to some pretty fine films after that.

His “choices,” as they say in the business, have for the most part been both artistically interesting and strategically canny. You get the sense he’s an actor in it for the long haul, and his stated philosophy backs this up.

“I sort of have a standard of cultural debasement I try not to go below, and then I have long periods of self-flagellation when I decide I’m going to sell out, and then I get lucky and get something like Poe,” he says, adding that, even for a famous actor in command of his craft, there are many factors beyond his control – and he’s okay with that.

“Sometimes you’re hot, sometimes you’re not. I’m not talking about with people in general but the ones who write cheques for movies. You go up and you go down.” He gives a cheeky, Lloyd Dobler smirk. “You know what, though? I think I’m coming into vogue again.”

::TV NEWS::    

Shaun Majumder: Every Word Is Absolutely True Comes Home To Newfoundland

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Apr 28, 2012) Shaun Majumder is coming home.

In his new HBO Canada stand-up special, Shaun Majumder: Every Word Is Absolutely True (Monday at 7:30 p.m.), the actor/comedian hits the road with two pals on his first cross-country comedy tour, from Newfoundland to B.C. . . . and back.

That’s the important part. Though abundant work has taken him from L.A. (24) to Detroit (Detroit 1-8-7) to St. John’s (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) to Montreal (Just for Laughs) to Toronto (The Firm), home is where his heart is, and where a project very dear to that heart is gradually taking over his life.

The special is what it is — part stand-up, part road movie — but it also includes a kind of advance preview of Majumder Manor, an entire series he has in the works that chronicles a mammoth undertaking in his tiny hometown of Burlington, N.L., population 350.

“Maybe 400,” Majumder allows, “depending on the availability of work in Alberta.”

The whole thing started about eight years ago, when Majumder was at home and looking to buy some land. Then he found out the school he had attended as a kid had been sitting empty and abandoned for years.

So he bought it.

“I got the school and the land for $2,700,” he laughs.

Then he just sat on it (not literally). “I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. But then I thought, ‘I’ll build a house.’ That became my dream, to build a house, maybe even with my own hands. Something green and holistic and environmentally responsible. Then I’d get David Suzuki to come and hang out . . . I thought it might make a good Nature of Things.”

The dream got bigger. “I thought, ‘Nobody’s going to give me money to make a TV show about me building my own house.’ And I started thinking about doing something for the community.

“I’ve always tried to lure as many people to Newfoundland as I possibly can. Every time I come home, I’m always saying to people, ‘You’ve got to come visit. This place is so cool.’

“But honestly, there is nowhere to stay and nowhere to eat, in this community or in the three communities that surround it. There’s chuck-wagon chicken and deep-fried squid rings and deep-fried fat balls . . . it’s brutal, and it’s the only food that’s available there.

“So the idea became, ‘Let’s build a guest house, an eco-lodge, just four or five rooms with a high-end kitchen and that way the money goes back into the community.’

“And that became the crown jewel of a larger project. It has evolved outward from that to involve so much more. Now it involves the whole community, all the communities. I’m setting up a not-for-profit business to pump the money back into the community.

“We’re going to start with a greenhouse; we’re just about to start planting for the spring. The greenhouse then becomes part business, to sell vegetables to become part of the revenue stream, as well as a community greenhouse so that people can have vegetables all year round.

“Then we’re going to build some small satellite cabins, out and around the bay, hidden away in these spectacular spots.

“I know where they are. I grew up on these shores.”

And as the project gets underway, so does the Majumder Manor series, which is set to debut on the W Network next winter. Production has already begun.

“The hope is that it’ll be ready to go to air by January,” he says. “It’s a lot of work, because it’s a documentary series, and it has to have its own voice and vision.

“I have a very clear vision for the show, it’s just a matter of making sure that all hands on deck get that vision, and that we’re all on the same page and that it’s still entertaining.

“My big fear is that in reality TV, there’s always a need and desire to go for maximum effect. There’s so much out there that sells that, in order to compete, you need to invent circumstances and so on.

“And my heart and soul screams to never let that happen. Especially on a show like this.”

Footballer Brad Smith To Star On 'Bachelor Canada'

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(May 01, 2012) Toronto—Canadian Football League wide receiver Brad Smith will seek his soulmate as the star of The Bachelor Canada when it premieres in the fall.

The program will be modelled after the popular U.S reality show The Bachelor.

A statement from Rogers Media describes Smith as “driven, confident, candid and comfortable in his own skin.”

It goes on to say he is attracted to women “who are independent, intelligent, and just as confident in a ponytail, sweatpants and sweatshirt as they are all dressed up for a night out on the town.”

The 28-year-old athlete says he's “extremely honoured” to be chosen, adding that he takes the experience very seriously and believes in the process.

He has played for the Montreal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts and most recently the Edmonton Eskimos.

Smith, the son of Senator Larry Smith, a former CFL Commissioner and former president and CEO of the Alouettes, is currently a free agent.

“Brad is the full package — a quintessentially Canadian, down-to-earth man,” said Claire Freeland, director of original programming at Rogers Media and executive producer of The Bachelor Canada.

“He is completely committed to this experience and in it for the right reasons. It's Canada's turn to find love with The Bachelor Canada and we could not have hoped for a more well-rounded and genuine person to kick off the first season.”

Additional details, including the identity of the host and the 25 bachelorettes, are still to be revealed.

Flashpoint Ends After Five Seasons

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(May 01, 2012) The men and woman of the Strategic Response Unit are hanging up their sniper rifles after an upcoming fifth season of Flashpoint.

CTV says production is now underway on the final 13 episodes of the hit show about a team of police emergency response officers in Toronto. The episodes will begin airing in the fall.

“Producing Flashpoint over the last five seasons has been an exceptional adventure,” producers Anne Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos said in a news release. “We’ve decided to end the series on a high note and give (the) fans the satisfaction of a fitting series conclusion in our 75th episode.”

Tweeted cast member Sergio Di Zio, “Next year we go out with a bang.”

When Flashpoint debuted in July 2008, it was the first Canadian series since Due South to air in prime time on both Canadian and American networks. It premiered to 1.13 million viewers in Canada and 8.72 million on CBS in the U.S.

CBS later dropped the series. It is now licensed to U.S. specialty network ION Television.

Flashpoint has won 11 Gemini Awards, including Best Drama, Best Writing, Best Direction, Best Actor for Enrico Colantoni and Best Supporting Actor for Di Zio.

The series also stars rocker turned actor Hugh Dillon.

‘30 Rock’ To Perform Live Episode Thursday

Source: www.thestar.com - By Frazier Moore

(Apr 26, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — In a move to inject new life into its kookiness, 30 Rock is going live this week.

It will be the second such outing for the NBC comedy, which is normally a polished, single-camera filmed affair. It went live for a night in October 2010 with an episode performed during the show’s normal time slot, then re-staged for West Coast viewers.

The same plan will be followed this Thursday: Originating from NBC’s Studio 8H (fabled home of Saturday Night Live), 30 Rock will air live for viewers in the Eastern and Central time zones at 8:30 p.m. EDT, then be reprised at 8:30 PDT for the rest of the country.

The theme of the episode plays into the idea of Live vs. Filmed. The Kabletown corporate bosses announce they will no longer pay for live production of TGS (the fictitious show-within-a-show produced by Liz Lemon, played by 30 Rock star Tina Fey). After first resisting, Liz and NBC exec Jack Donaghy (co-star Alec Baldwin) realize their lives would be simplified by shooting TGS episodes on film, fast and cheap.

But Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer) objects, arguing that nothing can replace the excitement of live television.

Time will tell.

30 Rock could use a little excitement. Although highly acclaimed and richly awarded during its six seasons, it has begun to lose the comic edge that set it apart. And, while never a ratings juggernaut, it has seen its audience further soften this season (just three million viewers tuned in last week).

Clearly, 30 Rock could use a jolt. A stunt like going live is one way to score renewed attention and, perhaps, a boost in viewership.

In TV, live is a favourite way to shake things up.

The Drew Carey Show aired a live, improv-laced episode in 1999. Two years before that, ER staged an ambitious live hour of that medical drama.

Will & Grace kicked off its season in September 2005 with a live episode whose guest star was none other than Alec Baldwin.

And 20 years ago, the Fox sitcom Roc, starring Charles S. Dutton as a garbage collector, aired a full season of episodes live.

The initial stab at live-ness by 30 Rock, while whipped into something of an event, was a mixed blessing: For better or worse, the episode revelled in the sort of sitcom clichés and cartoonish excess that 30 Rock so brilliantly resists any other week.

Meanwhile, there were no memorable glitches or flubbed lines, which surely disappointed viewers who came hoping for a train wreck.

Live isn’t just performing without a net. It can be a license for sloppiness in ideas and execution: Consider Saturday Night Live, which too often comes across as the rough draft of a polished final product that will never be performed.

But live TV has taken on a mystique for both performers and viewers ever since video tape was invented during TV’s infancy in the 1950s. The arrival of video tape made live production a bold choice and an exercise in daring — rather than the bothersome necessity it had been before, when no alternative existed.

The arrival of video tape brought new convenience even to live broadcasts: A show that aired live in the East could be taped and replayed for later time zones.

This, of course, remains the practice for most live programming today, including most news shows (such as the morning programs and the dinner-hour newscasts) and even Saturday Night Live. (The SNL cast is frolicking at the after-party by the time West Coast viewers catch the show, “live from New York,” on tape.)

But 30 Rock will play it old school on Thursday, with a fresh performance of the episode for the West Coast.

Just how fresh the episode is remains to be seen.

John Legend to Replace Lionel Richie on ABC’s ‘Duets’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 30, 2012) *
John Legend is in and Lionel Richie is out of ABC’s upcoming musical competition series “Duets,” which pairs contestants with established singers.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Richie has dropped out of the program due to scheduling issues. It was announced in early March that the former Commodores front man would join Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they search the country for undiscovered musical talent to be featured on the summer show. The mentors will ultimately choose two singers to be their partners, and in the end, one partner will receive a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

Legend said of his sudden gig, “I’m thrilled to be part of ‘Duets,’ and I’m looking forward to finding an undiscovered gem out there. This is going be a lot of fun.”

Former “Total Request Live” host Quddus will lead the series, set to debut at 8 p.m. May 24.

Legend has won nine Grammys since breaking out his 2004 debut Get Lifted. All three of his albums have made the top 5 of the Billboard 200 and topped the R&B chart. His most recent disc, 2008′s Evolver, peaked at No. 4 and went gold. He also has collaborated on songs by dozens of acts including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and T.I.

As of late, Richie — whose country duets album Tuskegee has been No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the past two weeks — has made appearances on NBC’s “The Voice” as a mentor and had a two-hour CBS concert special, “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends — In Concert,” that aired April 13.

John Legend to Replace Lionel Richie on ABC’s ‘Duets’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 30, 2012) *
John Legend is in and Lionel Richie is out of ABC’s upcoming musical competition series “Duets,” which pairs contestants with established singers.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Richie has dropped out of the program due to scheduling issues. It was announced in early March that the former Commodores front man would join Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they search the country for undiscovered musical talent to be featured on the summer show. The mentors will ultimately choose two singers to be their partners, and in the end, one partner will receive a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

Legend said of his sudden gig, “I’m thrilled to be part of ‘Duets,’ and I’m looking forward to finding an undiscovered gem out there. This is going be a lot of fun.”

Former “Total Request Live” host Quddus will lead the series, set to debut at 8 p.m. May 24.

Legend has won nine Grammys since breaking out his 2004 debut Get Lifted. All three of his albums have made the top 5 of the Billboard 200 and topped the R&B chart. His most recent disc, 2008′s Evolver, peaked at No. 4 and went gold. He also has collaborated on songs by dozens of acts including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and T.I.

As of late, Richie — whose country duets album Tuskegee has been No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the past two weeks — has made appearances on NBC’s “The Voice” as a mentor and had a two-hour CBS concert special, “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends — In Concert,” that aired April 13.

TV’s House Gone For Good May 21

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(May 01, 2012) We got halfway through the month on Tuesday in our May Sweeps season finale preview. To prevent any confusion, these are season finales, not series finales, unless otherwise noted. In which case do not blame me or ask me to do anything about it.

And now, Part 2:

MAY 15:Rumours to the contrary,90210 has not been cancelled, so that’s good news for some.

NCIS and NCIS: LA aren’t going anywhere, except on summer vacation. The latter, marginally my favourite of the two (best banter on television) gets a two-hour summer sendoff.

Also ending their seasons: Private Practice (safe for now) and Fashion Star.

MAY 16:Suburgatory and Criminal Minds end their respective first and seventh seasons. Minds has two back-to-back episodes, punnily entitled “Hit” and “Run,” about a ruthless gang of serial-killing bank robbers. Also, yet another wedding: the third nuptial season finale this month (following Big Bang and Mike & Molly).

MAY 17: A big night for finales, the most this month, tied with the 14th at eight.

You can say goodnight to Awake. This is one of those times I regret being right, but I did tell you so. Too smart for the room. Missing (which will resolve its chase), Rules of Engagement and Person of Interest are in serious danger of cancellation, as is Shonda Rhimes’ only just started Scandal.

Showrunner Rhimes’ other series, the long-running Grey’s Anatomy, will be back next year . . . but without at least one of its major players. She has confirmed that there will be a death (or deaths) among the series’ regulars. Word is, none of them has yet signed off on their new contracts.

The Mentalist is safe, as is 30 Rock . . . for now. If Alec Baldwin follows through on his yearly intent to quit, next year will be the last season. Maybe even if he stays.

MAY 18: The local industry will no doubt miss the Toronto-shot Nikita, which seems unlikely to last a third season. Tonight’s other CW season finale, Supernatural, seems safe for now despite a ratings drop.

Also ending for the season: Shark Tank, Who Do You Think You Are? and Grimm (which has already been renewed).

MAY 19:Alumnus Will Ferrell returns to host Saturday Night Live’s last live show of the season.

MAY 20: It’s goodbye for the summer to the Fox Sunday cartoon block: The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy.

Harry’s Law is all but over: the time slot change and setting reboot apparently didn’t take.

Other season finales: America’s Funniest Home Videos and Celebrity Apprentice, two shows you couldn’t kill with a stick.

MAY 21: It’s the performance part of Dancing With the Stars two-part season finale (concluding the following night).

Let’s see . . . what else? Oh yeah, House. Apparently, it’s the last episode. Ever. Two hours of Housey diss and drama, with an hour-long retrospective to remind us how consistently good this show has been, and particularly star Hugh Laurie, for all of its eight seasons.

Laurie directs the episode, in which House examines his own life while treating a fellow drug addict. And then there’s the whole Wilson cancer thing. Expect to see some old friends return.

MAY 22:Glee says goodbye to its graduating class with yet another run at the Regionals. Someone put this thing out of my misery.

I may have to resort to performance night of the two-part American Idol finale to remind me of how talented people really perform. And by the way, Ryan Seacrest, the busiest man in show business, is sticking around for another two seasons.

MAY 23: Like we’d ever have to worry about Modern Family. Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope isn’t the only one running for city council. Claire braves the election in the season closer, directed by the multiple Emmy-winning Breaking Bad meth-maker Bryan Cranston.

The only surviving Law & Order, SVU, will survive another season. So will Revenge and the new Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. So apparently will The Middle.

MAY 24:Community returned from the dead this season . . . only to have Chevy Chase kill it all over again. The much-publicized and uncommonly nasty on-set altercations (we’re talking Charlie Sheen nasty) may have put that final nail in the coffin. There are people who will be very upset by this. I am not one of them. But fans will get double episodes tonight.

MAY 29:Cougar Town is toast. It isn’t official yet, but seriously . . . Plus I happen to know that showrunner Bill Lawrence has a new sitcom pilot, Like Father, starring our own Colin Ferguson.

MAY 30:America’s Top Model will have to get along without its Jays. And I don’t mean the baseball team.

Lorne Michaels Talks About SNL Cast Changes

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(May 02, 2012) With three new episodes left in the Saturday Night Live season, it is clear that people are already fixated on what might happen next season.

The rumour mill has been churning that high profile cast members Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg might not return next year. The first two already have successful movie careers.

On a conference call on Wednesday, executive producer Lorne Michaels, who was joined by this week’s host, Super Bowl-winning New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, carefully addressed the questions about cast changes.

“I’m not really certain myself (what will happen). I know there will be some, but it’s just sort of the nature of the way that we work that no one talks about it until the season is done. Needless to say, I’d like everyone to stay,” he said.

He followed up with: “Did that avoid that question successfully?”

Asked about adding new cast members, Michaels said that is the nature of the show.

“Every summer we go out and make the rounds of Chicago and L.A. and New York and various other places,” Michaels said. “Invariably, that leads to somebody joining. The show has always been about bringing new people in.”

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has also been rumoured to be making a cameo, but Michaels said that the final three shows are pretty full, so it is unlikely to happen this season.

Manning hosts this week, joined by musical guest Rihanna, following his brother and fellow NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who hosted in 2007 and acquitted himself well. The younger Manning was first asked to host after he won his first Super Bowl in 2008, but didn’t because his brother’s performance gave him some trepidation.

“I thought it would be a little fresh in everyone’s mind so I didn’t want to have to go up against tough competition and the great job he’d performed,” said Manning. “I kind of remember saying, ‘I do want to do the show at one point. I just want to do it maybe after my next championship.’ So when this opportunity came up again and we won a championship again, I knew if they asked I would definitely want to jump on that opportunity if the timing worked out. It all worked out and I’m looking forward to this week.”

Michaels praised Manning as charming and said athletes have done well on the show in the past.

“The good part about athletes is that they are used to being in front of large groups of people and not knowing how it’s going to turn out,” he said. “He’s both charming and radiates a certain kind of intelligence, and a kind of — I don’t know how to say this, but — you sort of believe he doesn’t take himself too seriously. I mean, I think he takes his work very seriously, but there’s a sort of essential modesty to him and that plays well with what we do. If the host is spending a lot of time protecting an image, it’s exhausting for us.”

While this week’s lineup was still being finalized, Michaels said there is hope of also getting Rihanna to perform in a sketch, besides her musical duties.

Former cast member Will Ferrell is hosting next weekend, joined by musical guest Usher. It is unknown who will host the season finale.

TV TIDBITS

Genie And Gemini Bashes To Merge Into One Awards Show

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 01, 2012) Canada’s top film and television awards bashes are being combined into a single televised ceremony. The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television says it is merging annual broadcasts of the Genie Awards, which salute the best in film, and the Gemini Awards, which celebrate homegrown television. Academy chair Martin Katz says the move follows “extensive industry consultation and outreach.” The next gala will be a two-hour event on March 3, 2013 airing on CBC-TV. The annual Gémeaux Awards will celebrate French-language television and digital media on Radio-Canada on Sept. 16, as previously announced. Shows currently eligible for the 2012 Gemini Awards will be part of the academy’s new awards show in March 2013.

::ARTS NEWS::

From The Favelas Of Rio, Hip Hop As High Art

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(Apr 27, 2012) Mourad Merzouki has made it his life’s ambition to transform hip-hop dance into a mainstream art form. The French choreographer’s success is manifested in his acclaimed Compagnie Käfig and its worldwide reputation for innovative choreography. The French troupe first toured to Canada in 2004 and earned rave reviews and adoring audiences. They now include Brazilian dancers in their company.

The Biennale de la Danse de Lyon is one of the most prestigious dance festivals in the world. Lyon also happens to be Merzouki’s hometown. For the 2008 festival, the choreographer invited 11 dancers – in their teens and early 20s, from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro – to create a work. The young men have been touring ever since, becoming, as it were, a second Compagnie Käfig.

The work Agwa, which Merzouki and the dancers made for Lyon in 2008 – and which caused a real sensation is on the Canadian program. The dancers also perform Correria, a creation from 2010.

Merzouki’s secret to rendering hip hop into high art involves creating a solid context for the dance style. Entrances and exits become important and are carefully crafted, as are lighting effects. Video is used in key moments; props are cleverly included. The works are closely choreographed, giving them a sense of polish and refinement.

The choreographer also surrounds hip hop with other dance forms, such as the samba and bossa nova, and martial arts, including Brazilian capoeira. And then there are the choreographic surprises, including some very inventive partnering carried out by the men. The scores are a pastiche of music – and fit each section of the dance to perfection: Hip hop’s showy tricks are only one element of a Compagnie Käfig show.

Agwa means water, and this dance is a tribute to that life-preserving element. When the curtain opens, the stage is festooned with towers of plastic cups. (In fact, it can take a little while to figure out what the towers are made of if you are sitting at the back of the theatre.) The men dance around these towers to shifting beats of music until they suddenly knock them over with a bang. The lighting is such that the fallen cups glisten on the stage like ice floes or glass shards.

What follows is one of the best coups de théâtre that I’ve seen in a very long time. The spotlight shines on one dancer, leaving the rest of the stage in total darkness. He moves rhythmically to the music, showing off his nimble footwork, his multidirectional knees, his deft use of gestures, his undulating torso. It’s a great presentation of urban street dance. And then the full stage lights come on.

The audience gasps: While their colleague has been holding us enthralled with his solo, the other dancers have been crawling on the floor in the darkness, setting up the plastic cups, now filled with water, into neat rows running from the lip to the back of the stage. It’s a stupendous visual moment.

These cups are then manipulated in many ways: The dancers pour water from one cup to the next; they join empty cups together to become one long plastic snake, sensuously moving through the air. One adventurous dancer even does back flips, landing between the rows, a fantastic feat in itself. Agwa is a stunning duet for dance and props.

The choreography of Correria – the tile means “running” – attempts to capture the flow of daily life. The tone of the piece is loose and easy, as the men run from position to position, showing off their prowess as dancers in solos, duets, trios and more.

The most spectacular moment involves a video-projected figure on a screen who runs and, as he does so, develops more legs. A live dancer running in front of him has to keep up to his pace. To the side, the rest of the dancers are on their backs, their elevated feet running in the air – except there are too many legs for the people. The next vignette involves a dance with those false legs, which look like oversize golf clubs.

In the final analysis, the young men are charming, the dances are eye candy, the choreography is clever. Compagnie Käfig puts on a very likeable show.

Correria and Agwa

Compagnie Käfig

At the Burlington Performing Arts Centre

In Burlington, Ont., on Thursday

Compagnie Käfig tours to Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre, May 2 to 5; and Banff, Alta.’s Eric Harvie Theatre on May 12.

After A Chill, Meg Tilly Is Ready For Her Comeback

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Kate Taylor

(Apr 27, 2012) When we last saw the Canadian actress Meg Tilly she was a busy Hollywood ingénue and surprisingly young mother. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1986 for playing the title role in Norman Jewison's Agnes of God; in her early 20s, she married Tim Zinnemann, a director and producer 20 years her senior, and had two kids. She starred in The Big Chill and the 1989 Dangerous Liaisons adaptation Valmont, where she met the British actor Colin Firth, father of her third child.

Today, the 52-year-old lives in Victoria with her husband, writer Don Calame, and is appearing at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre in The Real World?, a play by Michel Tremblay.

I really only have one question: How did you get here?

I had stopped acting for many years....

Why did you do that?

My daughter was in Grade 3. I had always taken my children out of school to go on movies. When we came back from doing Leaving Normal [in 1992], her best friend had become best friends with someone else and she had no one to eat lunch with. I had this flash-forward thing, seeing things spin out to the worst possible scenario. For the last year I worked at whatever would pay me the most for the least time away from my children, and then I stopped.

It was hard at the beginning. It was like I had a contagious disease that friends thought they would catch. You don't stop acting when you are in your early 30s.

I threw everything into home life, and I wrote [novels and books for young adults] to keep my creative side up. And then my children grew up and left home. Everyone said, "Now you can do what you want," and I did not know what that was. Did I take up knitting. Did I do more volunteer work?

My sister [actor Jennifer Tilly] gave me a bracelet that said, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." I had never even thought about going back to acting. Then this voice dropped in and said, you have always wanted to do theatre.

So you came back as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Blue Ridge Repertory Theatre in Victoria last year. What a place to start, all those recriminations and screaming....

She's my favourite character I have ever played, but she was scary. When you finish every night you feel light, almost giddy. Then at 2 o'clock in the afternoon you start to get this feeling in the pit of the stomach.

The Real World? is not one of Tremblay's better known plays. What's it about?

It's about authorship, who has a right to say what. You have him in his world with his mom, dad and sisters but then - you know how you are writing in your head - so he is doing that too. His mom says, "Your version is the one that will survive because it is written on paper."

I am the [fictional] mom who says what he wants her to say; I am the mom who takes the dirty laundry and spreads it all over living room and then you have Jane [Spidell] who is the real mom, who says, "This my life; I would never say that."

You also did some Canadian TV recently, the miniseries Bomb Girls. Does working in Toronto take you away from your home and husband?

We are going to move here. The nice thing about Toronto is you don't have to have plans, you can just walk in somewhere. "There's a concert, let's get a ticket." We are loving it, but talk to me in the dead of winter.

It is notoriously hard for an actress to get parts after 40. Is this an awkward age?

I find it off-putting when I see an actor in his 60s with the romantic interest in her 30s but you have a lot of older men running the studios, the directors, they fancy themselves. I think women of all ages are interesting. In England you see it: Look at Judi Dench, someone like that. I love seeing all the layers and textures of women as they age. I love aging myself. There are challenges, there are sorrows, but they roll over you in a different way.

People might say it was impossible to do what I did but I have had real luck - twice.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

The Real World? runs at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto from May 2 to June 3 (it is now in previews).

Dated, Yes, But Delightfully Performed

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

(Apr 27, 2012) God bless Eric Peterson's anarchic energy. The former Corner Gas star has been a real loose cannon, lately - existing simultaneously within his characters and outside of them. He clearly relishes being onstage and always seems like he's on the verge of pulling down the pants of whoever happens to be standing next to him.

It's not an approach for every play, but his Grandpa Sycamore makes Soulpepper Theatre Company's otherwise safe production of
You Can't Take It With You into a ticking time bomb. He gives a performance that had me cackling with glee.

This old-fashioned 1936 comedy by the writing duo of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman set the formula for an endless succession of plays and movies about wacky, but ultimately loveable in-laws, from La Cage Aux Folles to Meet the Fockers to the recent Addams Family musical.

Alice Sycamore (Krystin Pellerin) is proposed to by Tony Kirby (Gregory Prest), the son of a Wall Street tycoon. She's worried, however, that Kirby's rich, conservative parents won't match up with her zany family.

Grandpa, who gave up work 35 years earlier, preaches a follow-your-bliss philosophy that's been adopted by his offspring. Alice's mother Penny (Nancy Palk) has spent eight years writing mildly titillating plays, after a typewriter was delivered to the house by accident. Meanwhile, father Paul (Derek Boyes) spends his days building fireworks in the basement with his pal Mr. De Pinna (Michael Simpson), an ice man who came in out of the cold eight years ago and never left.

Alice's sister Essie (Patricia Fagan) makes candy when not practising ballet, while Essie's idiot-savant husband Ed (Mike Ross) plays the xylophone and prints seditious-sounding pamphlets for kicks.

Naturally, there is a dinner party at the Sycamore residence with Mr. and Mrs. Kirby - John Jarvis and Brenda Robins, dressed up like the Monopoly man and the Statue of Liberty. Equally naturally, everything goes wrong, leading Alice to exclaim: "Why can't we be like other people? Roast beef, and two green vegetables, and - doilies on the table!"

Director Joseph Ziegler takes Hart and Kaufman's play at face value and delivers a sentimental production that is superficially satisfying; he's an expert with this type of material, the Frank Capra of Ontario stages. (As it happens, Capra made the film version of this play.) It goes down smoothly, but the smugness of the bourgeois bohemians that populate You Can't Take It With You ultimately leaves you with indigestion.

The family lives in a lovely house around the corner from Columbia University in New York, toying around with hobbies, with no apparent need for income. Their eccentricities are never genuinely threatening to the social order, and they all exist in heterosexual pair bonds and say grace before eating their frankfurters.

There's even a happy African-American maid, Rheba (Sabryn Rock), whose welfare-drawing, dull-witted boyfriend Donald (Andre Sills, who gives an enjoyably offbeat interpretation of this thankless, mildly racist part) stops by to run errands gratis.

Naturally, the Sycamores - and probably Moss and Kaufman - would say they treat the black servants just like family, a liberal posture that gets skewered in the recent satire Clybourne Park. Ziegler simply decides to buy into the family's self-proclaimed enlightenment on all issues, cutting a problematic line like Mrs. Sycamore's condescending observation that Rheba and Donald "are really cute together, something like Porgy and Bess."

Just what is the Sycamore philosophy anyway? Grandpa - the purportedly wise one in the show, who says the title of the play - doesn't pay his income tax, advises everyone to selfishly pursue their own happiness and is politically apathetic. "Used to worry about the world, too," he lectures Mr. Kirby.

When an IRS man stops by to demand Grandpa's back taxes, he inquires as to what the government plans to do with his money. The tax man says the government will protect him - from an invasion by foreigners, for example.

"Oh, I don't think they're goin' to do that," replies Grandpa. "I wouldn't mind paying if it were something sensible."

This is a line that rings well today, in light of a series of controversial American-led wars in the Middle East. But given that it was written in 1936, five years before the attack on Pearl Harbor would finally drag a reluctant United States into the Second World War, Hart and Kaufman's play seems an embarrassing artifact of an avert-your-eyes American isolationism.

Damned if it isn't joyful, however, thanks to Soulpepper's wonderful acting company working at a high level with delightful performances from pretty much everyone. As Alice, who says she fell in love with Tony when she saw the back of his head, Pellerin manages to not be annoying, which is, in its way, a triumph; she also models a pair of white sailor pants that suggest Tony might have also lost his heart while observing her from behind. Thanks there go to designer Christina Poddubiuk.

And as Tony, Prest manages to put a little zip - almost Peterson-esque - into a part that could also be dreadfully bland; he has a particular way of asking Alice to take dictation that suggests there's more to this world than is being shown by Hart and Kaufman.

You Can't Take it With You

Written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
Directed by Joseph Ziegler
Starring Eric Peterson
At the Young Centre in Toronto

Spent: Canadian Financial Satire Tackles Wall Street

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 30, 2012) In the fall of 2009 as the world economy seemed to be self-destructing, Michele Smith, Dean Gilmour, Adam Paolozza and Ravi Jain brought forth a comedic theatre piece called
Spent, which Robert Crew in these pages called “splendidly satirical.” Audience here agreed, as did those at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011.

Now, the show’s performers, Paolozza and Jain, have taken the work into the belly of the beast, or maybe its small intestine. They’re running from now through Sunday in New York City, at the Queens Theatre, just a short subway ride from Wall Street, where Mammon holds a permanent seat on the stock exchange.

We caught up with them on their farcical fiscal journey.

Q. Have you changed the show much since its creation?

Paolozza: Not a lot, except we originally set it on Bay Street and now, of course, it’s Wall Street, which makes it more immediate for the people here. And it does. They, uh, kind of go ballistic over the material.

Q. What do you mean by that?

Jain: It works at both ends of the spectrum. People really respond wildly to the humour of the experience, but when we get to the dark side and talk about people waiting on line for soup kitchens, it used to get a bittersweet chuckle, but here, it’s a palpable silence.

Q. Do the audiences feel they’re still in a recession?

Paolozza: Oh for sure. The humour has a darker hue now that they’ve gotten through what is perceived to be the worst of it, but everyone knows it’s not all over.

Q. Are they willing to take that message from two Canadians?

Jain: Absolutely. Our humour comes from the basic human instinct for money-grubbing and how interconnected we all are.

Q. What’s the trickiest thing you accomplish with the piece down in New York?

Paolozza: We always poked the most fun at the frenzy of the crisis, when it got the worst, and that’s still a painful thing for people here to recall, but you know what? They wind up laughing anyway.

Q. Ravi, you had a big hit with your mother last season in Toronto, with A Brimful of Asha. Did you think of adding her to the show in New York?

Jain: Don’t think she didn’t want to come along! But I just didn’t think she could make samosas the same way down here.

Q. Adam, is this gig in Queens a hopeful launching pad for a longer run off-Broadway?

Paolozza: Of course! Our fingers are crossed. After all, we’re just as greedy as anybody else.

Big Interview: Sissy Spacek

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 27, 2012) Sissy Spacek has played a coal miner’s daughter, a telekinetic changeling and a mass murderer’s girlfriend, among many other roles, in a film career that’s earned one Oscar, five more nominations and more than a billion dollars at the box office.

And yet, the woman who emerges from the pages of her just-published autobiography, My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, is simply a good ol’ girl from Quitman, Texas.

“But that’s what I am, what I’ve always been and what I always will be,” she protests in that sweet, smoky voice that sounds like someone has just set fire to a bunch of cornsilk.

“Texas is so big and the place where I grew up was so little, and I was such a little thing growing up in the middle of it. I had two choices, I could either spend my life feeling insignificant or I could look on the life I lived as a microcosm of the universe.”

The world of modern film acting would be a lot poorer if she hadn’t made that choice, but performing wasn’t something that occurred to Mary Elizabeth Spacek (“Sissy” was a brotherly nickname, not implying cowardice, but her place in the familial ecology) at any point soon after her birth on Dec. 25, 1949.

“I remember I would lie in bed at night and hug myself, and thank God I lived in that house in that town with that family and that I’d never want to go anywhere else in the world.”

But that all changed when her parents took her one day to see The Coquettes, a local cheerleading troupe. As soon as young Sissy saw them “twirling their batons, dressed up in shimmery silver cowboy outfits, hats and white majorette boots, I knew show business was for me.

“‘I could do that,’ I thought. ‘I should be up there.’”

A few years later, her desires turned toward film acting. She laughs as she recalls her cinematic “epiphany”.

“I remember watching a film called Come Blow Your Horn at the Select Theatre.” The 1963 movie adaptation of Neil Simon’s first comedy starred Frank Sinatra, but neither of those two men captured her imagination: it was juvenile lead who played Old Blue Eyes’ younger brother.

“When Tony Bill walked on the screen, I thought he was one of the most beautiful men I’d ever seen and I sort of mentally catapulted myself up onto the screen next to him,” declares Spacek with full solemnity.

“My cousin Rip (Torn) was already making a successful living as an actor and, whenever he’d come home, I’d ask him everything about what it was like that I could possibly imagine.”

Still, she wasn’t anxious to run away from her country paradise until what she now calls “the defining event of my whole life,” the dark time during which her beloved brother, Robbie, came down with leukemia and died when she was 17 and he was 18.

“I had great trepidation about opening up that chapter of my life,” she admits, “but losses are all part of the human condition, and part of the power of that experience for me was the way our family dealt with it.

“My mother made us accept it and mourn for Robbie and then come out the other side, where we would be better and more fearless because of it.”

Even now, more than 40 years after the event, her voice grows huskier with emotion.

“That’s what I love about acting and love and drama and art. That humanness we all share. Right now, I’m telling you about the most meaningful event in my life, but it’s not a confession or a bid for sympathy. I’m simply saying to you, ‘This is who I am.’”

And in that moment, one understands the secret of Spacek’s success. She’s not a virtuoso technician like Meryl Streep or a luminous charmer like Diane Keaton, two of her equally skilled contemporaries.

When Spacek plays anyone from the victim-turned-avenger Carrie to the eternally resilient Loretta Lynn, she steps so honestly into the characters’ skin that you can’t tell them apart.

“You’ve got to tie your own life in with theirs. You’ve got to cry your own tears,” she says.

That’s what Spacek did in the years following Robbie’s death. She set out for Manhattan and lived with her cousin Torn and his even more successful wife, Geraldine Page.

“He had blazed the trail and that helped give me the courage to follow. I blush now to realize how naive I was, how little I understood at the time, but that’s why I could try so many things.”

She was a coffee house folksinger, a photographic model, even briefly a member of Andy Warhol’s Factory, showing up, uncredited, in his 1970 film Trash.

She followed her cousin into classes with theatre guru Lee Strasberg, appeared in episodes of The Waltons and got her first credited onscreen role in Prime Cut as an underage sex slave.

“That was probably the most unpleasant movie of my career and not because of the subject matter but because of the way everybody treated each other.”

She was soon to find herself on the other end of the spectrum, when cult director Terrence Malick cast her as 15-year-old Holly, the white trash girlfriend of Martin Sheen’s killer-on-a-rampage in the 1973 film Badlands.

“Terrence is an artist and a perfectionist, and one of the most amazing men I have ever known. The whole experience of making that movie is with me to this day.”

Working on Badlands is also where she met the love of her life, Jack Fisk, who was the film’s art director. They have been married since 1974.

I ask about her ability to work successfully with some of cinema’s most idiosyncratic directors, like Malick, Brian De Palma (Carrie), Robert Altman (3 Women) and Oliver Stone (JFK), but she doesn’t see the depth of that achievement.

“They’re all brilliant men, and I came to each project and just asked what they wanted. That’s all you have to do. That and tell the truth.”

If there’s one role Spacek is most remembered for, it’s as country singer Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, which won her a Best Actress Oscar in 1981 but was a film she didn’t initially want to make.

“I had never even met Loretta, but she was going on every TV show telling people I had to play her in the movie. Well, you know what people are like. We like to believe we are in control of our destinies, even though we never are and we never have been. So I let the word out I wasn’t so sure I was interested.

“But then I met Loretta and, from that second, I was dumbstruck by her personality and knew I had to make the film. But they had hired a director who didn’t want me and I had to practically beg for the part. That was a great lesson and I was humbled.”

An inquiry about regrets over roles she didn’t play gets another typically forthright answer.

“I feel like if I don’t get a film and somebody else does, then that film never belonged to me. The ones I get belong to me. I never felt competitive with my fellow actresses. I always just wanted to be the best I could be. The only one I competed with was myself.

“We’re all a product of our choices and I own all the choices I’ve made, even if they weren’t all perfectly right at the time.”

FIVE FAVE ROLES OF SISSY SPACEK

BADLANDS

“Nothing has ever matched the magic of discovery we all felt that summer in the Colorado desert when we learned how a film could be a living, breathing, collaborative work of art.”

CARRIE

“Not long ago, I met a girl who had a full colour tattoo of me as Carrie in the prom dress running the entire length of her arm. That’s success today: having one of your characters tattooed on someone else’s body part.”

COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER

“I followed Loretta around like a puppy, learning to speak just like her and, once I got it, I stayed in character until we finished shooting. I didn’t want to lose it.”

CRIMES OF THE HEART

“We never stop learning things. I had never played a character as funny as Babe and I asked (director) Bruce Beresford how to do it. He told me to play it as if it were the most serious role I’d ever had and she was a riot!”

IN THE BEDROOM

“It was almost like going back to Badlands. We all worked together on a low budget to make things happen and we created a masterwork that paid off for us in every way.”

Charles S. Dutton: From Jail to Yale

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 1, 2012) *Charles S. Dutton, now 61 years old, is a Tony Award winning actor, as well as a celebrated TV and movie star. But, the renowned thespian wasn’t always critically acclaimed.

Once upon a time he was a ne’er do well. He was called ‘Roc’ when he hung out with the proverbial wrong crowd on the streets of Baltimore. Dutton chose not to finish high school. Instead, he became learned in the school of hard knocks.

He hasn’t shied away from talking about his unsavoury past. In fact when in Pittsburgh on April 25 at the August Wilson Center he spoke at length about how he was able to turn his life around. The A. Philip Randolph Institute Pittsburgh Chapter and the United Steelworkers brought him to town for their awards reception. After the reception he delighted everyone with a theatrical performance of “From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage.” It was an entertaining and enlightening blend of straight talk and humour about his life mixed in with commentary on hot button issues.

On stage Dutton talked about how he first went to prison at 17 years old for a manslaughter conviction. He claimed he got into a fight to defend himself. Unfortunately, the young man he fought died. A judge sentenced him to two years behind bars.

Dutton had the audience spellbound by his story. After being released from prison for only just a few months, he was convicted of possessing a deadly weapon. That conviction put him back in prison for three more years.

This time imprisonment turned his life around. He received his high school equivalency degree or GED in prison and started a drama group there. When he left prison he went on to become a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

After his presentation, Dutton talked to EURweb correspondent TeneCroom. When asked what advice he would give to young people to stay out of jail and not have to learn lessons the hard way like he did, Dutton said:

“Simply listen to good advice. Simply listen to positive people. The minute you start listening to positive people all of that negative karma goes away. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in the penitentiary then don’t do the things that get you there. Now I know that’s easy to say. You know what. That’s the struggle you have.”

He looks back at his life and what he’s achieved and pulls no punches about how he’s gotten where he is today.

“My success was not easy by a long shot. I had to work for it every day of it. So, you know for all of the young guys who are in jail, my main thing particularly the 16, 17, 18 year olds, don’t look up when you’re 35 still in the penitentiary and then decide you know I should have listened to my mom. I should have listened to my uncle. Do it when you’re 16. Once you go to prison, believe it, particularly in this day and age, when you get a prison record your life is kind of ruined. With the work force with everything else, there are so much negative energy; people’s ideas about ex-cons, you’ve got to avoid it.”

He’s perhaps best known for portraying Baltimore garbage collector Roc Emerson in the popular TV series “Roc.” He’s also wowed audiences on Broadway with his collaborations with playwright August Wilson, whom he spoke fondly about that night.

He was nominated for a Tony Award portraying Slow Drag in Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and then garnered another Tony nomination as Lymon in the Wilson play, “The Piano Lesson.” He revived the role of Lymon for a teleplay.

Dutton has also been busy making movies for the big screen. In 2012 he appeared in, among other films, LUV,” starring rapper/actor Common and “Least Among Saints.”

Pittsburgh based TeneCroom is president of TeneCroom Communications. Reach her at tene.croom.tc@gmail.com or www.tenecroom.com.

Two Tony nods for Stratford's Jesus Christ Superstar

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

(May 01, 2012) The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's struggling New York production of Jesus Christ Superstar got some well-timed and much-needed good news Tuesday morning, in the form of two Tony Award nominations.

The Broadway transfer is up for best revival of a musical, while actor Josh Young - the show's handsome, youthful Judas - is up for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical.

The first nomination may help boost the middling box office, while the second will improve morale in a production that arrived in New York riding raves and high expectations and has been hit by mixed reviews and cast illnesses.

Now Jesus Christ Superstar is highly unlikely to actually walk away with the Tony for best musical revival on June 10. The Stratford production is the least nominated of the shows in contention, up against Diane Paulus's rejig of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (10 nominations); a star-studded revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies (eight nominations); and Evita, another early Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, imported from the West End (three nominations).

But what the nomination means is this: the chance to showcase a number from Jesus Christ Superstar in front of seven million television viewers.

"It's a big deal, because you get an awful lot of people who are dedicated to the theatre tuning in," says Stratford artistic director Des McAnuff, who has yet to decide what song the cast will present.

If the Jesus Christ Superstar song hits it out of the park on live TV, the production's investors may have a chance of earning back the estimated $7-million (U.S.) it took to take the show to Broadway.

Since hitting a high of $904,660 during Easter week, the show's weekly gross has been on a downward arc. Last week, the show grossed just $626,676, 47 per cent of its potential at the Neil Simon Theatre.

That's more than twice as much as the revival of Godspell (shut out of the Tonys), but less than half of what Evita is pulling in thanks to the star power of (Tony snubbed) Ricky Martin playing Che.

(There, in a nutshell, is what a big name is worth on Broadway - about $800,000 a week. After all, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita are by the same composer/lyricist team and received roughly similar reviews; they are both ranked as a B on online critical aggregator, Stage Grade.)

Whether or not Jesus Christ Superstar is currently covering its bills is an open question - insiders have estimated the weekly costs for me at anywhere between $500,000 and $700,000, but the actual number is tightly kept secret.

As for Young's nomination, it is a pleasant surprise given that the 31-year-old was ignored by the less prominent awards (Drama Desks, the Outer Critics' Circle) that announce their nominees before the Tonys. "I expected for this not to happen," a clearly shocked Young said.

A native of Pennsylvania who has been at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for the last two seasons, Young arrived in Gotham with strong Tony buzz, but then was hit by a respiratory infection in the week before opening, meaning his understudy was reviewed by many critics.

Young croaked his way through opening night in order to be eligible for the Tonys, but then got sicker and had to leave show for a short spell. "It was so nice of the Tony committee to come see me when I was healthy," he says.

Young is up against Broadway regular Michael Cerveris, who plays Peron in Evita; Michael McGrath in the new Gershwin musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It; and two actors in an old Gershwin musical, Porgy and Bess, Philip Boykin and David Alan Grier. Here, the race is tighter with no obvious front-runner.

Winners will be announced on June 10 on CBS.

By the numbers: Highlights from the rest of the Tony nominations

11: Pack-leading number of nods for Once, Irish playwright Enda Walsh's superlative stage adaptation of the Oscar-nominated indie movie of the same name.

20: Nominations for musicals with songs by Ira and George Gershwin - 10 for Diane Paulus's revival of Porgy and Bess; 10 for Nice Work If You Can Get It, a new musical built around old hits.

4: Number of American scripts up for best new play - Clybourne Park; Other Desert Cities; Peter and the Starcatcher; Venus in Fur.

0: Number of British scripts up for best new play; despite the snub, British playwright Richard Bean's comedy One Man, Two Guvnors is nevertheless up for seven other awards.

2: Number of nominations for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (best scenic design; best costume design).

1: Number of nominations for Spider-Man - that is, Andrew Garfield, who plays the superhero in the upcoming movie and is currently starring in Death of a Salesman.

7: Total number of nods for Mike Nichols's revival of Death of a Salesman, including a best-actor nomination for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

0: Number of nominations for Evita's Elena Rogers and Ricky Martin; Follies's Bernadette Peters and Elaine Paige; The Best Man's Angela Lansbury; and the Olivier-winning play about Martin Luther King, The Mountaintop.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Yahoo Doubles Olympics Presence In London

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ryan Nakashima, The Associated Press

(Apr 27, 2012)
Yahoo plans to double its Olympics presence this summer, aiming to be the top website for the fourth straight Games.

Yahoo is sending 25 people from around the world to cover the Summer Games in London - about "twice as big" as it had in the Winter Games - including U.S. gold medal winners Shannon Miller and Dan O'Brien and many of its sports columnists and reporters. It also plans to cover the games in dozens of languages.

The move is an effort to outshine competitors. Despite not paying for exclusive rights to cover the games, Yahoo says it has been the No. 1 global destination for Olympics coverage for the past three games.

In February 2010, Yahoo Sports had 32 million unique visitors and 254 million page views for the Vancouver Games, it says. Second-place NBC, which paid for exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to cover, had 19 million visitors and 251 million page views.

NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp. that has agreed to pay $4.4-billion for the U.S. rights to carry the Games through 2020, lost $200-million on the Winter Olympics. By contrast, Yahoo's Olympics coverage is profitable, says Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo's head of global media.

"These games will be the biggest revenue driver we've ever had for an event by a long shot," he says.

The Summer Games will represent a test of Mr. Levinsohn's broadened role of overseeing Yahoo's global media efforts. Previously, he oversaw media for the Americas.

The event also represents Yahoo's bigger push into video. Mr. Levinsohn said the site will have five times the video coverage of the previous games. Proctor & Gamble Co. is a key sponsor for various projects, including one that features the mothers of Olympians.

Blood, Butchery And A Delightful Dearth Of Subtlety

Source: www.thestar.com - Chad Sapieha

Prototype 2
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Activision
Classification: M
REVIEWED BY CHAD SAPIEHA

(Apr 27, 2012)
Prototype 2 is the sort of game in which one can rip off an enemy’s arm in a deluge of blood and gore and then use it to beat its former owner to death.

To say Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment’s latest open-world adventure lacks subtlety is an understatement.

But that’s sort of the point.

The action is set in a modern day New York that’s come under quarantine after the spread of a man-made virus that turns its victims into murderous mutated freaks. Our hero is Sergeant James Heller, a burly soldier whose wife and daughter were killed in the outbreak. He’s looking to take revenge on the mutant suspected of starting the epidemic, a shape-shifter named Alex Mercer (protagonist of the original Prototype).

However, things go sideways when Heller is himself transformed into a mutant and armed with a range of super powers that evolve over the course of the game. He soon begins questioning the origin of the virus, and where his loyalties lie.

That’s all one really needs to know about the story. Its purpose isn’t to realistically examine the perils of weaponized viruses or gaze into the soul of a grieving father and husband, but instead act as a skeleton over which to drape the game’s meat: A relentless parade of wildly over-the-top action sequences in which players run straight up the sides of buildings, pick up and toss vehicles like cardboard boxes, and bloodily “consume” enemies to restore health and gain new powers.

As I said, it’s not exactly a study in nuance.

However, it can be entertaining in a manner akin to brazenly brutal Hollywood action movies.

The merits of watching a set of thick, bloody tentacles spawn from a man’s body to create a deadly web of dismemberment may seem dubious to some, but the game’s philosophy of spectacle over substance will likely work for its intended audience of hard-core players (myself included), the members of which are likely long since desensitized to the visceral ferocity of Mature-rated interactive entertainment.

That said, even these players may take issue with the game’s repetitive nature.

It seems each new task set before us is essentially the same quest of epic death and destruction, the only variable being the villains and structures that become the subject of our aggression. Wanton violence of the safe, virtual variety can be a blast, but the trick is to keep the devastation fresh and surprising.

If there’s anything about Prototype 2 that is understated, it’s that our hero is a black man – a rarity in a medium that’s at least a little notorious for offering naught but fair-skinned champions. Radical Entertainment draws little attention to his skin colour, save perhaps one early scene in which an antagonist taunts him by emphasizing the word “bro.”

And that’s fine. It’s enough that our leading man isn’t yet another cookie-cutter Caucasian. That he’s an equal-opportunity avenger who merrily murders every foe he encounters, regardless of race, gender, or creed, is a bonus.

Special to The Globe and Mail

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Like It Hot? Dive Into The Perennially Cool Palm Springs

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Bonny Reichert

(Apr 25, 2012) PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.— When Don Draper flew out to California in Season 2 of Mad Men, it was like he landed on a different planet. Standing poolside in his city sport coat, he was an entirely different species from the lolling sunbathers surrounding him. When he was whisked to a hideout in Palm Springs, the dreamy sense of displacement escalated. He knew he was in a place where the pace, rules and even language were a little bit different. Resistance, he realized, was futile, and before long, Don was lounging in the pool in a pair of trunks, trying on a new identity.

You don’t have to climb inside your TV to get a taste of mid-century Palm Springs. You just have to buy an airline ticket. Nestled in the Coachella Valley and surrounded by the San Bernardino, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains, Palm Springs feels just a little bit cut off from the rest of the world. Driving in from Los Angeles on Highway 10, you know you’re almost there when you get to the fields of wind turbines silently rotating in the heat like enormous prehistoric birds. It’s weird and beautiful, but if you’d rather skip the 2½-hour drive, you can fly WestJet right into the Palm Springs airport. That’s easier, and easy is a big part of the Palm Springs charm.

From there, you have to answer just two more questions before you can let the desert heat go to your head: Where are you going to stay and how are you going to get around? We choose the Colony Palms Hotel for its great location and its laid-back luxe vibe. As for getting around, if you’d rather not rent a car, you can get away with walking and cabbing.

But having a car here is no hardship – parking is always free, and you can drive from one end of town to the other in about 15 minutes. No wonder people flock here from L.A.

Our first morning, I make like an Angeleno and learn how to properly camp out at the hotel pool. Even at 6:30 a.m. (jet lag), guests dot the comfy loungers reading the paper, Googling on their laptops and, yes, canoodling. The desert is chilly this early in the morning, and a small group has gathered at the outdoor fireplace. Everyone is wearing hotel robes. I’ve heard this place is a celeb favourite, so I look at people while trying to act like I’m not looking at people. Could that be Ryan Gosling? Maybe not but Jessica Simpson, Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Lawrence and Zac Efron have all stayed here. Everyone is super low-key, even the group drinking Champagne in a poolside cabana.

By afternoon, it’s time to move around a bit (not too much), so we explore the design district around the corner. The heat comes off the pavement and makes everything look wavy, but there’s no need to break a sweat. The stores are clustered over four blocks, and you can wander in and out of every low-slung building in less than two hours. If you like new clothes and shiny things, check out the Trina Turk Boutique and Wil Stiles sportswear next door. For good vintage, there’s Déjà Vu, and for decor, there’s everywhere else. Sixties furniture lovers shouldn’t miss A La Mod, Modern Way or Christopher Anthony, among others.

Back at the hotel, the pool scene has gotten livelier, but there’s no time to linger. Friends from L.A. have told us about a not-to-be missed place for dinner. Kiyosaku is in a humble strip mall, in a part of Palm Springs you would drive through but never notice. The Japanese couple who run this simple restaurant take their sushi very seriously. Don’t ask for unorthodox sushi; do order Kiyo’s grapefruit special. It’s a memorable combination of flavours and textures, with big chunks of scallops, tuna, salmon, crab and shrimp, tossed with juicy pink grapefruit pieces and dressed with the grapefruit’s juices. You’ll dream about it later.

At 7 the next morning, we’re heading toward Indian Canyons for a little hiking. Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour away, but this is right in Palm Springs so, yes, it’s easier. For a short hike, pick the Andreas Canyon trail; Palm Canyon is a bit longer. Both are peaceful and gorgeous and free you up by lunchtime.

The lineup at Tyler’s Burgers tells you this is the hottest lunch place in town, but you have to be patient. Or if you like to live on the edge, put your name on the clipboard, do a little speed shopping at See’s Candy next door, run the chocolate back to the hotel and get back in time to claim your table. Afterward, you might feel like strolling through downtown Palm Springs; its cozy charm somehow reminds me of Banff. Or maybe you want to pick up your tennis racket. Or play a round of golf. You can ride a horse, go on an Old Hollywood tour, get a massage or go to the outlet mall. If you’ve come for festivals such as Coachella, Dinah Shore or White Party, you’ll have places to go and people to see.

Personally, my idea of fun is to sample the vibe at other hotels by having a drink and a bite at the pool bar of each one. It’s the perfect cap to a few days of seriously easy relaxation. Just don’t expect to fit into your skinny jeans.

WHERE TO SWIM

The swimming pool is the centre of social life in Palm Springs. Of course, you’ll enjoy the one at your hotel, but if you want some variety, you really should swim around. Here are three greats to put on your list.

Ace Swim Club

For only $20, you can have access to the loud and lively scene at the Ace Hotel pool, as well as the gym and weight room. Spa services are also available (for an additional fee). 701 East Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-325-9900; acehotel.com/palmsprings/!swim-club

Parker Palm Springs

The Jonathan Adler-designed Parker is worth a visit just to see the lobby. If you want to get wet, you can buy a pass to the spa’s indoor pool ($50 for a whole day; $25 after 2 p.m.; spa services are extra). The outdoor pools are for hotel guests only, but you can enjoy the lovely grounds and chic restaurant for the price of a drink and a bite. 4200 East Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-770-5000; ! theparkerpalm-springs.com

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Technicolor Saguaro is an old-style motel done up in every colour of the rainbow. Rooms encircle the Olympic-size pool, which will be accessible by day pass next month. Until then, enjoy the local colour at a poolside table at Tinto, the hotel’s Spanish-themed restaurant and bar. 800 East Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-322-1900; jdvhotels.com/hotels

WHAT TO DO

Palm Springs is about more than just the pool-side scene. Get off your chaise longue and check out these colourful diversions.

Trina Turk Palm Springs Boutique

Housed in a 1960s Albert Frey building, Trina Turk Palm Springs is all shag carpet, mirrors and foil wallpaper. The colourful resort sportswear for men and women typifies PS desert style. 891 North Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-416-2856; trinaturk.com/boutique/palm-springs

Cheeky’s Palm Springs

Hip breakfast joint featuring local and seasonal ingredients. Adored by Angelenos; closed Tuesdays. 622 North Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-327-7595; cheekysps.com

Tyler’s Burgers

Order a couple of sliders, a bottomless Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea) and relax under the outdoor canopy until you are fully rested and hydrated. 149 South Indian Canyon Dr.; 760-325-2990; tylersburgers.com

Indian Canyons

You can easily explore the canyons – first settled by ancestors of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians – on your own, or you can sign up for a ranger-led tour. Fun fact: Palm Canyon boasts the largest natural palm oasis in North America. 38500 South Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-323-6018; indian-canyons.com

Swank Interiors

Fabulous mid-century-modern shop outside the uptown design district.
Beautiful furnishings and accessories in a fun and friendly atmosphere. 462 South Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-327-1731; swankpalmsprings.com

Kiyosaku

Cherish the fresh and simple dishes.
1555 South Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-327-6601; kiyosakusushi.menutoeat.com

Special to The Globe and Mail

The Melbourne Mystique: Think Of It As Australia's Montreal

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Genevieve Paiement

(Apr 18, 2012) MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—Tell any local that you've just lunched at Golden Fields in Melbourne and you will get the same question: “Did you have the lobster roll?” A toasted and buttered Cantonese-style white bun enfolding poached crawfish (yes, crawfish, not lobster – just roll with it), lashings of Japanese Kewpie mayo and a few sprigs of cress, it has reached Momofuku pork bun-style cult-status in this town. But enough about the roll: There's soft shell crab with fried egg aioli and holy basil to rave about, and Tasmanian Kreglinger sparkling wine with as much depth and complexity as anything from Champagne.

Bubbles at lunch – yes, please. I've left my husband and toddler son in Sydney to reunite with a girlfriend in Melbourne for one sweet weekend of eating, drinking and (best of all?) sleeping past 6 a.m. When I lived in Sydney in the early 2000s, I visited Melbourne every chance I got. Since I'm from Montreal, Melbourne's approachable size and Euro sensibility always felt familiar to me, ditto its dishevelled cafés and dimly lit laneway bars. My pal Victoria is the perfect person to help reacquaint me with the city, epitomizing what I think of as the smart, arty Melbournian renaissance woman: an actor, writer and part-time sausage maker (her boutique wiener-making operation is called the Sausologist).

We've got a room at the Crown Metropol, Melbourne's sprawling, modern Crown casino complex on South Bank, a short walk from all the restaurants and bars in the CBD, or Central Business District. Sitting in the hotel's 28th-floor bar, with views stretching clear across the city to Port Philip Bay, Victoria and I take in the city and review our eating and drinking itinerary. Good thing both of us are food and planning nerds or we'd get on each other's nerves.

Our lunch at Golden Fields, the latest venture from top Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell, sets the tone for the weekend. It's what abbreviation-mad Aussies like to call mod-Asian: mod as in modern, it means the commingling of Asian and Western flavours, ingredients and techniques.

Another chef dabbling in Asian flavours (and Middle Eastern and American, among others) is Daniel Wilson, whose growing empire includes Huxtable, Huxtaburger (its hamburger offshoot across the road), and now brand new Bill's Bar, hidden behind a shiny steel door at the back of Huxtaburger. During my visit, Bill's is still a few weeks shy of opening so we head to Huxtable because, though burgers are supertrendy at the moment, Huxtable is Wilson's flagship eatery, where you can watch the chef work on such creations as jalapeno croquettes or Korean BBQ pork ribs with spicy slaw and chili gherkin.

We sidestep the hulking 1970s leather office chairs for a seat at the bar, with a close view of the minuscule open kitchen. Nibbling lovely soy-cured trout with black vinegar and daikon, and sipping Medhurst rosé from the nearby Yarra Valley, we strike up a conversation with Mr. Wilson. Before I know it, Victoria is holding up her iPhone showing a picture of Sideways star Paul Giamatti. “Anybody ever told you that you look like a more handsome version of him?” she asks, giggling. Mr. Wilson glances up from his plating, a somewhat perplexed smile on his face. “I'm not even sure that's a compliment,” I whisper to my tipsy friend, smiling back at Mr. Wilson and wondering if moments like this make chefs second-guess the whole open kitchen thing.

At modern Thai joint Chin Chin on Flinders Lane in the CBD, Victoria is friends with our tattooed waiter, who recommends garlicky, chili and tamarind-flecked crispy sardines with tamarind-heavy nahm prik pla yang sauce. We're lucky to have snagged the last two seats in the place, at the chef's bar, and it's not even 6 p.m. There's a New York-style buzz and energy here with brisk service and bright, Asian-influenced pop art to match. Those who can't bear to wait for a prized seat can now head downstairs to Go Go, a new, industrial-chic basement bar where a condensed, snack-heavy version of Chin Chin's menu is on offer.

Bar Americano wins the prize for smallest laneway hole-in-the-wall (there are exactly three stools) in a town shot through with such establishments. We'd heard good things about this popular new espresso and cocktail bar in a hard-to-find CBD laneway, but are greeted by a scowling, mustachioed barman in a lab coat and a waitress who's friendly enough, but doesn't know what's in any of the cocktails. The drink names are on a board on the wall, but no ingredients are listed. Us: “Sir, pray tell what's in an Airmail or a Blood & Sand so that we may pay $21 for the pleasure of drinking it?” Him: sighs, rolls his eyes, counts off ingredients in a droning monotone. The cocktails are indeed good, but they come in the tiniest antique glassware and therefore go down quick. Ten minutes, two drinks and $40 later, we're back on the street again, feeling slightly disgruntled.

We fare much better the following day at the Attic, the new sister bar to well-known Melbourne cocktail den the Black Pearl in slightly scruffy, artsy Fitzroy. Halfway through our first drink and we've nicknamed our bartender Kevin “Heaven.” It's not just that the drinks are good (they are) or that Kevin is being an awfully gracious host (he is). It's also because at this dusky, magic hour, the sun's light is golden and diffuse, making the Attic's old time saloon decor look like a 19th-century sepia-toned photograph come to life. I sip my Savoyard (a white vermouth, gin and génépi liqueur concoction with a rosemary sprig) and Victoria her Flapjacket (an almondy, orange-scented mix of red vermouth and Laphroaig whisky over smoked ice) to the sound of washed out, crackly blues and exchange knowing glances. Like with a fun-loving, slightly elusive and sometimes petulant lover, you can't stay mad at Melbourne for long.

IF YOU GO

Golden Fields.
The latest effort from top Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell won Best New Restaurant. One bite will confirm why the “lobster roll” has a cult following. 157 Fitzroy St., St. Kilda, 61-3-9525-4488, goldenfields.com.au/home

Chin Chin.
Arrive early to snag a seat at this popular modern Thai restaurant in historic Flinders Lane, or head downstairs to order off the bar menu at Go Go (the “son-in-law eggs” may be the perfect happy-hour snack). 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 61-3-8663-2000, chinchinrestaurant.com.au

Bar Americano. The hipster factor is off the charts at this tiny, hidden hole-in-the-wall. Too bad drinks are just as tiny and service so indifferent. 20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne, 61-3-9428-0055, baramericano.com

The Attic. Head upstairs from the established Black Pearl cocktail den and ring the bell to get into its new saloon-style sister bar. Inventive signature drinks are served at your table by friendly roaming bartenders. 2nd floor, 304 Brunswick St., Fitzroy, 61-3-9417-0455

Huxtable.
Chef Daniel Wilson’s flagship restaurant serves shared plates of food spanning Asian, European and Middle Eastern flavours. Wilson’s growing empire now includes a burger joint (Huxtaburger) with a new hidden bar (Bill’s Bar) just across the street. 131 Smith St., Fitzroy, 61-3-9419-5101, huxtablerestaurant.com.au

THE INSIDER

Noël Skrzypczak is a Canadian born but Melbourne based visual artist in hot demand.

“My perfect day would start with delicious coffee and cake at Beatrix Café in North Melbourne. Nat, the pastry chef-owner is superpassionate about cakes, like her Elvis cupcakes: banana cake with peanut-butter icing and slivers of bacon. Yum! Next, I'd visit some galleries, like Neon Parc in the city, because it represents me and always has edgy, contemporary stuff, and to the Heide Museum of Modern Art out in Heidelberg because it's beautiful and set on a large, native-Australian bush-garden property. Then I'd wander around the [Central Business District] where there are so many interesting shops, artworks, bars and cafés in small laneways. As for dinner, I'm into cheap and cheerful. I like to have dumplings at Good Luck Tea House on Chapel Street in Prahran before catching something at the Astor, a gorgeous art deco cinema that screens art-house films and has a friendly resident cat. Then the Alderman in East Brunswick for late-night drinks: It's a laid-back, arty bar with a lovely beer garden out back, a fireplace in the winter and some naughty murals in the bathrooms.

Special to The Globe and Mail

::SPORTS NEWS::

Jamaal Magloire: Raptors Will Make Playoffs Next Season

Source: www.thestar.com - Lori Ewing

(Apr 27, 2012) Toronto native Jamaal Magloire took centre-court for the traditional season-ending shout-out to the fans Thursday, and promised a post-season appearance next year.

“We’d like to thank you guys for hanging with us through thick and thin I know it’s been a turbulent year . . . ” Magloire said prior to the game against the New Jersey Nets. “I promise you we will get better . . . thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and continue continue continue to stick with us because we are going to improve and we are going to make the playoffs next year.”

The Toronto Raptors wrapped up another campaign to forget with a victory on Thursday — something they couldn’t get nearly enough of when it mattered this season.

Ben Uzoh recorded Toronto’s first triple-double in 11 years in the battle between bench players, with 12 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds as the Raptors beat the New Jersey Nets 98-67.

The Raptors (23-43) head into the off-season to be playoff spectators for the fourth year in a row.

Despite that, head coach Dwane Casey says the Raptors are headed in the right direction.

Casey told his season-ending news conference Friday that his players wanted to be coached and be held accountable.

Casey says as far as statistics went: “Defensively we were off the charts. As far as what we accomplished offensively, we didn’t get there where we wanted to go.”

He was rewarded for his first year at the Raptors’ helm with a contract extension.

Former San Diego Chargers Great Junior Seau Found Dead, Suicide Suspected

Source: www.thestar.com - Toronto Star staff

(May 02, 2012) Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau was found dead of an apparent suicide at his southern California home on Wednesday. He was 43.

Oceanside police chief Frank McCoy said Seau’s girlfriend reported finding him unconscious with a gunshot wound to the chest and alerted the authorities.

Lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful and a gun was found near the body, McCoy said.

Seau’s mother appeared before reporters, weeping uncontrollably at the scene.

“I don’t understand ... I’m shocked,” Luisa Seau cried out.

Her son gave no indication of a problem when she spoke to him by phone earlier this week, she said.

“He’s joking to me, he called me a ‘homegirl,’” she said.

The San Diego native leaves four children with his ex-wife.

“He was a local hero — he certainly gave back to the community and to the youth through his Junior Seau Foundation,” Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood told The North County Times.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

A first-round pick of the Chargers in 1990, Seau played 20 years in the NFL, earning 12 Pro Bowl nominations and was a first-team All-pro six times. He played 13 seasons with San Diego before getting traded to the Miami Dolphins and then signing with the New England Patriots as a free agent. He retired in 2009.

“Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family,” the team said in a statement.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, noted Seau’s passion for the sport.

“Junior was a fierce competitor whose passion and work ethic lifted his teammates to greater heights. His enthusiasm for the game was infectious and he passed that on to everyone who was around him. He loved the game so much, and no one played with more sheer joy,” Dee said in a statement.

“Junior was one-of-a-kind. The league will never see anyone like him again.”

Seau, who amassed 545 tackles in his last nine seasons — when tackles became an official statistic, 56½ sacks and 18 interceptions in his career, was the face of the Chargers’ franchise, an unusual role for a middle linebacker but one that credited his importance to the organization.

“Twenty years, to be part of this kind of fraternity, to be able to go out and play the game that you love, and all the lessons and the friends and acquaintances which you meet along the way, you can’t be in a better arena,” Seau said last August after the Chargers announced he would be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

In October 2010, Seau survived a 100-foot plunge down a seaside cliff in his SUV, hours after he was arrested for investigation of domestic violence at the Oceanside home he shared with his girlfriend. The woman had told authorities that Seau assaulted her during an argument.

There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol involved in the crash and Seau told authorities he fell asleep while driving. He sustained minor injuries.

Seau’s death follows the suicide last year of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest.

More than 100 people gathered outside of Seau’s home, only hours after he was found dead. Families showed up with flowers and fans wearing Chargers jerseys waited to get more news.

Seau was beloved in San Diego, where he created a foundation and had a popular restaurant that bore his name.

Louie Lieras, 54, of Oceanside was driving through the area when he saw a number of cars parked outside Seau’s house. Once Lieras heard the news about Seau’s death, he went home and put on an old Chargers jersey with Seau’s name on the back.

“I don’t know how you could give this up. This was his backyard. He’s never going to see it again,” said Lieras, gesturing toward the Pacific Ocean just yards from Seau’s front door. “I feel for the family and his children.”

With files from Associated Press

 

Lopes-Schliep Ready To Take On Next Olympic Hurdle

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Christie

(Apr 29, 2012) Priscilla Lopes-Schliep says she's back and as fast as ever.

But the hurdling game facing the 29-year-old from Whitby, Ont., has changed. There used to be three world class athletes bidding for Canada's Olympic berths - Priscilla, Perdita Felicien of Pickering, Ont., the 10-time Canadian hurdling champion and Angela Whyte of Edmonton who has been both an Olympic and world championship finalist.

Now, there are at least five says the new mother. Add in Lopes-Schliep's training mates, Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George, who ranked in the top 11 internationally in 2011. They will likely meet up at the Canadian Olympic track and field trials in Edmonton, June 30.

"Coach Anthony [McCleary] has brought some more hurdlers into the game," Lopes-Schliep says. Her 2008 Olympic bronze medal and Felicien's indoor and outdoor world championships have made the barrier event attractive for women. Thanks to Lopes-Schliep and Felicien, Canadians have role models for success.

George won the inaugural National Track League title in the hurdles and finished seventh at the world championships. Holder finished sixth at the worlds and fifth in the Grand Prix Diamond League competition. Both started the season with 100-metre personal bests in the mid 13-second range and lower their times significantly by almost a full second.

"With Nikkita and Phylicia it's nice that you don't have to worry about 'Oh, I can't let this person know (of an injury). Everything's out on the table. We all work hard, everyone's on top of what they're supposed to be doing... If there's something I'm not doing Nikkita and Phylicia will cheer at me or yell at me... It honestly keeps us on point for the track season. What better way to prepare yourself than to be training with the people you're going to be competing against? We all have training camp in Arizona (early in April) where we'll see how everyone's doing and touch base....

"It seems like Beijing was just the other day... but a lot for me has happened between '08 and now."

Unanticipated motherhood was a big one. Lopes-Schliep had a cystic ovary removed in 2007 and wasn't sure she'd even become pregnant. But in September, Lopes-Schliep and husband, dentist Bronsen Schliep - whom Priscilla met when she was studying at the University of Nebraska - became parents of an eight-pound girl, Nataliya.

Lopes-Schliep had gestational diabetes during the pregnancy and had to watch her diet but put on 15 pounds and developed a large baby bump. Nevertheless, she kept up a non-jumping training regimen while pregnant. She resumed racing only a couple of months after the birth.

She had a complete support system. Coach McCleary and Canadian Olympic team doctor Dr. Julia Alleyne have supervised her comeback to make sure Lopes-Schliep doesn't take on too much too soon, as she tries to resume the world No.1 mantle she had in 2010. Mother Sharon Lopes took time away from work to look after her granddaughter while Priscilla pursued the dream of going after a second Olympic medal. Husband Bronsen, who is studying to be an orthodontist, also provides child care and moral support.

"I opened up indoors in Sherbrooke [March 2012] with 8.28 seconds for 60 metres," she said of a second-place finish in her comeback race. "That was amazing ... it was basically the time I opened up with the season before, before I got pregnant," she said.

"Being a mom and what that does to the body, and then to come back and get ready for an Olympics, my body underwent some serious transformations. But it's amazing what the body can do. I'm definitely feeling strong and excited about what's coming up.

"What pressure there is I put on myself, but I keep working hard... and what I feel is going to happen is really, really good," said the ambitious Lopes-Schliep. She said being a mother has helped feed the fire and desire in her. She wants to firm up ligaments loosened during pregnancy, lower her best time of 12.49 seconds for the 100-metre hurdles and even rewrite Felicien's Canadian record of 12.46.

"It's pretty neat the way the body and the muscle memory connect together, it's like riding a bike. The body's used to hurdling, I know what to do. It's just to get sharper and cleaner over the hurdles.

"If anyone can do it, I have the drive. I heard guys say 'she can't bench 225 in the weight room.' I want to prove them wrong. I want to better myself and go after big goals. ... Why sell yourself short with the attitude 'Oh, I just want to make the team.' Why even bother? Go after the biggest thing you can and see what happens..."

Getting enough sleep for high performance workouts has been helped, she says, by her mother Sharon's sacrifice.

"I was always close to my mom, but what she's doing now for me, it's like a whole new kind of love for your grandchild," says Lopes-Schliep.

"I still want to run and make Canada proud and be a great role model for moms and athletes and kids who are coming up... I'm hitting a whole new area - mothers. You can do something if you really want to do it.

"For my mom to sacrifice her job to help me get ready for the Olympics and look after Nataliya so I can train hard, work hard and get the rest is definitely helping to make this possible.

"She showed me what a great strong woman she was before, and now she makes changes in her life to come and stay with me Monday to Friday. It's a huge sacrifice."

Before Lopes-Schliep won her Olympic medal in 2008, she saw heartbreak firsthand as Felicien's roommate in Athens. Felicien, a world hurdling champion, had been favoured to win the race in the Olympics and appeared to be comfortably on her way to capture the final when she inexplicably fell at the first hurdle.

"There was a lot of pressure... it could have been anything. All I know is that it was really tough," said Lopes-Schliep, who was eliminated before the final.

"I was her roommate there, and my heart went out for her. It was sad. It was really hard... It's the Olympics, wouldn't you take it hard?

"I gave her space. You can't really talk to someone about it, say 'tell me how you feel'. But it is what it is... and you do what you can to come back from it. She's a great girl and it's sad it had to happen there...

"The hurdles can be a great thing or it can be a mean thing... and I've taken my spills, too. I fell down in the indoor worlds before Olympics... I busted the fat pad in my right heel, I scraped up my chest, my chin everything. It wasn't fun... but you've got to dust off and go again and do the best you can."

One thing Lopes-Schliep knows will stand her in good stead is her work ethic. She won't skip out on workouts. It would be cheating herself, she says.

"There's workouts that Anthony gives us and you might feel tired and be tempted to say 'we've done the runs already.' You say 'No', because your opponents are lining up on that line, too. When you're at the Olympics or at the worlds, and that starter says 'on your mark' and you'd better have put the work in... I'm not handing anything over on a silver platter..."

Canada's Olympic Marathon Record Ready To Tumble In London

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Christie

(Apr 29, 2012) If warm-up races point the way to the future, the 36-year-old Canadian marathon record is poised to fall at the London Olympics.

Canada has not had an Olympic marathon runner compete at the classic distance since 2000, but Canada has qualified three men for London - and they've all posted big wins in their most recent outings.

Sunday, it was the turn of Eric Gillis to take the spotlight. The native of Antigonish, N.S., who trains at the Guelph, Ont., Speed River club, came charged through tape at the Canadian half-marathon championship in Montreal's Parc Jean Drapeau in a quick one hour, four minutes 37.7 seconds (1:04:37.7), beating Matt Loiselle of Windsor (1:04:45.). Third was Rejean Chiasson of Toronto (1:04:54.0). The women's race was won by Kate Bazely of St. John's in 1:16:34.0. She was 9.4 seconds ahead of Leslie Sexton of London, Ont., on a sunny but breezy day - 35 km an hour winds - on the old Expo islands.

Gillis, 32, will take two weeks off before he immerses himself in training for the 42.195-km marathon test with Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton and Kingston, Ont., native Dylan Wykes. But he calls Sandays victory "a confidence booster."

The four-lap Olympic marathon, beginning and ending on London's Mall, takes place on the last day of the Games, Aug. 12.

"I was a bit nervous going into the [Sunday] race. I hadn't been feeling biomechanically sound recently," said Gillis. While training at altitude in Arizona, he had developed iliotibial band syndrome in his right leg, and irritation that can cause knee pain. It's the kind of injury that makes you avoid running, stair-climbing and squat lifts.

The condition limited Gillis's workouts, but physiotherapy has since corrected the problem.

"I had a poor race (in Vancouver, where Loiselle beat him); and it has been a busy week with the Olympic announcement [of Canada's marathoners)]and a photo shoot. I was content to just sit back in the pack, and as the race went on I started to feel really good.

"About 17K, Matt and I started to test each other. I felt really good and took off on him with about 800 metres to go.

"We start our London training on May 7th, so this was a really good confidence booster."

Last week, Gillis was an observer as Coolsaet, 32, won the Toronto 10-km race. A week earlier, Wykes, 27, set the best time by an active Canadian marathoner in finishing seventh in the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:10:47. Jerome Drayton's Canadian best, set in 1975, is 2:10:08.

Gillis's half-marathon is less than half that, but it's not simple mathematics to extrapolate a marathon time from that. He had raced only once in 2012 (fourth over 10 kilometres in Vancouver, April 15th in 29:30.0) finishing more than 12 seconds behind Loiselle.

But Gillis is confident in his general fitness level and ready to tackle the London workload.

"I feel like I have a better base than last year," he said. Both he and Coolsaet will sharpen tactics and speed one final time in the Canada Running Series in the Vancouver half-marathon on June 24th.

"I do have the confidence but a different confidence; less sharpness going into 10Ks and half marathons, but more consistent training under my belt. I had a good race in Toronto, stayed injury free for the most part afterwards, and got in my training. I do feel confident going into London," he said in a statement.

Two years ago, Loiselle won the 21K race in Montreal, and in 2011 he pushed Gillis's training partner and Olympic stablemate Coolsaet to the finish on a windy course. Last year, Coolsaet beat Loiselle when the wind was 50 km an hour. Sunday, under sunny skies, the wind was at 35 km an hour.

Gillis said he had no time expectations. He was fourth overall in the 2011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. His time of 2:11:28 there beat the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:15:00. But Athletics Canada set a more stringent standard of 2:11:29 for Canadians. He just made it. Four years ago he was added to Canada's Olympic 10,000-metre roster as a "Rising Star."

WRESTLING

Canadian freestyle wrestlers John Pineda of Vancouver and Jeff Adamson of Saskatoon fell short in their qualifying bids for the Olympic freestyle draw at Taiyuan, China. In the 84-kg category, Adamson won his first match on technical points against Sergei Kolesnikov of Israel but lost the second against Soslan Gattsiev of Belarus. The 60-kg Pineda lost his first match to eventual bronze medalist Shawn Bunch of the United States. Both Canadians will travel to Helsinki, Finland for the last opportunity to qualify for the Games, May 4-6.

Olympic medalists Carol Huynh and Tonya Verbeek have already qualified for the women's draw.

JUDO

Sasha Mehmedovic of Montreal won the silver medal in the 66- kg class and Kelita Zupancic of Whitby, Ont., took bronze among the women at 70 kg in the at the Pan American judo championships at Montreal. They locked up spots at the London Games, this summer.

Also qualifying were Pan American champion Alex Emond of Montreal at 90 kg and mathematically assured (by points) are Antoine Valois-Fortier (81 kg), Nicholas Tritton (73 kg), Sergio Pessoa Jr (60 kg) and, among the women, Amy Cotton (78 kg).

EQUESTRIAN

Britain's William Fox-Pitt, aboard Catherine Witt's New Zealand thoroughbred Parklane Hawk, won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at Lexington, Ky., the third leg of six qualifying events for eventing at the Summer Games.

Fox-Pitt, the leader after cross country, matched American Allison Springer and Arthur in the jumps, each with a single knockdown. Canadian Peter Barry of Dunham, Que., and Kildoran Abbott were 11th in the 12-horse field. Canada won an Olympic berth with a silver in events and last year's worlds.

Shooting Is A Breeze For Olympic Archery Hopeful Jay Lyon

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(Apr 29, 2012) For those assembling a list of physically demanding sports, archery is unlikely to shoot to the top of mind.

And, Winnipeg’s
Jay Lyon is quick to say “80 per cent of it is mental.”

But the 25-year-old still manages to log a lot of calorie-burning time on the practice range and in the gym every week as he pursues his Olympic dream.

In addition to shooting an average of 250 to 300 arrows almost every day — at 50 pounds of draw weight on the bow with each pull — Lyon also runs up to five kilometres four or five days per week. In addition, he’s in the gym with a trainer for up to 90 minutes three times a week, focusing half his time on cardio and the rest on building his core, back and leg muscles, which are vital in helping an archer remain still and firmly in place while aiming.

“You pretty much have to have a stable base of support or else you’re not going to be able to hold steady,” says Lyon, who at the 2008 Games in Beijing was 10th in the individual competition, the best-ever placing by a Canadian in the event, and was part of Canada’s 10th place team. “Especially on the windy days you don’t want to be moving around a whole lot.”

Lyon, a kinesiology student at the University of Winnipeg, admits his academic background benefits his archery, which has also seen him win silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, silver at the team event at the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro and place fourth in the team competition at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“When you understand physiology and the anatomy and everything else, it helps a lot because you know a lot more what’s going on with the body,” says Lyon, named the 2008 Manitoba Male Athlete of the Year, an award typically reserved for those in hockey, football and higher profile sports.

For the mental aspect of his game, Lyon relies on a sports psychologist as well as coach Jay Barrs, gold medallist at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, “who’s very good at keeping me focused.”

Lyon, who admits he’s not a big fan of all the travel required to compete at an elite level, says one of the keys to success is dealing with the pressure of international competitions such as the Olympics or world championships.

“Just having the experience in those competitions helps a lot,” says Lyon, who is looking to improve on his 10th place finish in Beijing by securing the lone Canadian individual spot at the national trials in Montreal in late May. He’s also hoping to be part of the three-member contingent after a spot in the London team event to be decided at a World Cup meet in Utah in June.

With the physical training well in hand and his mental game where he likes it, Lyon believes he can draw on all his past experiences at the key time.

“You can learn something from any tournament, from something local to something as big as the Olympics,” Lyon says. “How you handle the pressure is probably the most important thing I learned at the last Games.

“Just trying to be numb to the fact that the Games are on is key, so you don’t get too excited about where you are or anything like that.”

Eberle Scores Shootout Winner As Canada Edges Switzerland 2-1 In Exhibition

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(Apr 29, 2012) FRIBOURG, SWITZERLAND—Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle scored with 0.8 seconds left in regulation and then added the shootout winner Sunday as Canada downed Switzerland 2-1 in an exhibition game ahead of the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Daniel Rubin scored in the third period to give the Swiss a 1-0 lead before Eberle tied it late.

Devan Dubnyk, also of the Oilers, was solid in goal for the Canadians.

Canada coach Brent Sutter said he was happy with his team’s performance but added there’s still a lot of work to do.

“I thought especially in the first two periods it was a really high-paced game. Both teams had some quality scoring chances, both goalies played well,” Sutter said. “For our first game and only having been together for 48 hours as a group and having only had two practices I thought we handled it all pretty well. To get a win is a confidence boost.”

Sutter coached the Calgary Flames for the last three seasons and is seeing Eberle, Dubnyk and fellow Oilers teammate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from a different perspective behind Canada’s bench.

“No question Eberle played really well. I thought both him and (Nugent-Hopkins) were both really good and you can tell they’ve obviously played together,” Sutter said. “They make things happen but they’re also dependable players defensively too and it’s always nice to have that from your top players.

“I thought Dubnyk made some big saves at key times and overall as a group I was happy with the work ethic and the competitiveness. Now it’s just about working on our details.”

Sutter acknowledged that any player or coach at the world hockey championship representing Canada has had a disappointing end to their NHL season.

“Any player who doesn’t make the playoffs or gets beat out in the first round, you’re always disappointed,” Sutter said. “But then you get the opportunity to represent your country in a tournament like this — it’s like a second chance.”

The same holds true for Sutter, who parted ways with the Flames at the end of the regular season after missing the playoffs for the third straight campaign.

Despite not having a job in the NHL, he doesn’t see this tournament as an audition for future employment.

“For myself I don’t look at it as though I’ve got anything to prove. I’m here to coach this team and trying to succeed and I was selected by Hockey Canada to be the head coach and very proud and honoured to do that,” Sutter said. “I don’t get caught up in the fact that this is something that’s going to make or break my career with coaching. I know that I’m unemployed in the National Hockey League and that’s just the way it is.

“That’s coaching and that’s the way it goes when you don’t have success. That happens and you have to hold your head up and move on.”

Canada and Switzerland will meet in another exhibition game Tuesday in Kloten, Switzerland.

Canada opens the tournament May 4 in Helsinki, Finland, against Slovakia.

Oake's Addiction Story Brings Tales Of 'Hell' And Hope Into The Spotlight

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Caroline Alphonso

(May 01, 2012) "We went through a decade of hell," says Mark Simkin, a retired teacher, from his home just outside of Kenora, Ont. "As a parent of a child who's had serious addiction problems - starting with marijuana in high school, and as soon as he went away to university finding cocaine, heroin and crystal meth - Scott Oake's story really tugged at my heart."

When Mr. Oake, host of CBC's
Hockey Night in Canada, stepped forward to tell The Globe and Mail of his son Bruce's fatal addiction, it resonated with parents across the country. Mr. Simkin, the father of a 32-year-old-addict, was one of them. He has always feared that same outcome for his own son.

Addiction was once a taboo subject that families kept under wraps. Many still do. But Mr. Simkin felt compelled to share his story - as did others - in the hopes that parents and children know there is help. Mr. Oake's tragic tale attracted hundreds of online comments, as well as tweets and Facebook posts. His son, Bruce, died 13 months ago of an accidental overdose at the age of 25 after spending months in and out of rehabilitation facilities. Drug overdose killed more than 36,000 people in North America last year alone.

While Aaron remains an addict, his father says that his son is making progress. And he sees a doctor once a month for related mental-health issues. But it took years and a few trips to rehab centres to reach this point, and it will take many years more to completely turn things around. "An abstinence-based lifestyle is not practical for me," says Aaron, who now lives in Toronto and holds down a part-time restaurant job. "But I can reduce the harm that kind of lifestyle inflicts on me."

Aaron's father says that the Simkin family has learned some harsh lessons about drugs and rehabilitation facilities. They learned, he says, that there is no simple fix, and that they were in for a long struggle with the youngest of their two children. Mr. Simkin still keeps close tabs on his son, and says he's no longer afraid to tell Aaron's story to anyone who asks: "People have to know about it and understand what families are going through. If only people understand what kind of damage is being done here, then perhaps there will be more pressure to bring in effective treatment programs."

Mr. Oake, the day after his story went public, is still being inundated with supportive e-mails from across the country. Colleagues and strangers have told him they were encouraged by his words as they struggle to help their own loved ones.

"For us, it's all about trying to make Bruce's life mean something," Mr. Oake says. "And we can't do that by not talking about it. Our son's struggle ended tragically. But there are so many kids in Bruce's situation who are falling victim to powerful street drugs, like OxyContin, crystal meth. Any awareness, anyone thinking for a moment that maybe there's a better way because of Bruce's struggle, makes it all worthwhile to have gone public."

One father wrote on globeandmail.com about how he debated for a moment about posting a comment on Mr. Oake's story. He also had a child who was addicted to drugs. "Then," he wrote, "I thought that you had the wherewithal to share your story, I should have at least the wherewithal to say thanks for sharing in the hope that your willingness to share your story and work towards treatment for our youth will reduce and save the pain for many parents still coping."

Another parent, Laurie de Grace of Edmonton, shared her story of first becoming aware of her daughter's addiction in Grade 9. Her daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability and suffered from attention deficit disorder. She did drugs, and her parents would often find empty bottles under her bed, Ms. de Grace said.

Now, at the age of 23, her daughter has just completed her first year of sobriety. Ms. de Grace thinks Mr. Oake's story can only serve to benefit others: "I just think there's somebody out there that can be helped by it."

SPORTS TIDBITS

Celtics Without Ray Allen For Series Opener

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Paul Newberry, The Associated Press

(Apr 29, 2012) Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen won't play in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. As expected, coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday's game that Allen won't be in uniform because of an ailing right ankle. He had a cortisone shot last week and says the ankle is feeling better, but not enough to go in the playoff opener. Rivers says the status of the 36-year-old guard will be determined before each game. The coach isn't ruling out the possibility of Allen playing sometime in the series. Allen missed the last nine games of the regular season and says he already would've undergone surgery on his ankle if it wasn't the playoffs. Rivers expects Mickael Pietrus to take most of the minutes that Allen would've gotten.