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Updated:  May 26, 2005

It's almost June - can  you believe it?  Reality TV series are almost over - until the next instalment.  The NBA celebrates another exciting final series and there are tons of exciting things going on in the entertainment world.  Please have a read below!   Sony/BMG offers some scoop on the divine BeBe Winans.   Laser Rejuvenation gives us their hot new May specials so ensure that you check them out - ladies, you won't be sorry! 

I've moved again - this time once and for all!  My new address is under CONTACT US.
This week is chock full of entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  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.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS






BeBe Winans’ Dream

Source:  Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc.

BeBe Winans has long been one of gospel music's brightest stars.  Now, with the release of his brand-new CD titled Dream, the multi-talented performer feels he has finally become himself.  "This one feels  different. This is who I am. And I'm not afraid to be who I am."

After a four year hiatus since his last studio release, DREAM is presented as a very special musical offering – his personal testimony informed by personal challenges and changes over the past few years--including a painful divorce, a slimmer physique, and a burgeoning acting career.

The music of Dream is all BeBe, striking  out in a new direction, fusing pop, inspirational Christian, and stripped-down soul straight from his heart….meditative, reverent music that is tenderly overlaid with messages of love in all its earthly and heavenly forms and how that love informs life as it is truly lived.









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Motivational Note:  Stuck in a Rut?

Excerpt from - Motivation123 Newsletter by Jason M. Gracia,

4 Simple Tricks to Kick Starting a Comeback! Feeling like you're just running through the motions every day? Doing the same old things that you've always done? Get up, go to work, eat, sleep, repeat... Don't feel bad, you're not alone. Most people get sucked into letting routine run the show. And it's easy to see why. It's not that everyone is lazy; routine is very, very strong, and even the best of us get trapped by it. Fortunately, there's a quick and easy way to beating this problem. These simple tips will help you break free of habit and kick-start an exciting and successful comeback! 3. Hey, I Can Do That Too!  One of the best ways to get excited about changing your own life is to learn about the life of someone else. Many of the great men and women we learn about in history class found their inspiration through the stories of those who came before them. They scratched their heads thinking, 'If one person could do all that, couldn't I do the things I want to do?' Yes! Consider the things you want to do with your life and then get out there and learn about people who followed a similar path. Better yet, uncover the stories of people who went much farther than you are planning on going. It will motivate you to think about a bigger and better picture of tomorrow.







CMPA Appoints New Executive Director

May 18, 2005—Jodie Ferneyhough, President of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Catharine Saxberg as CMPA’s new Executive Director effective May 24, replacing Peter James who is retiring.  “CMPA has made tremendous progress.  We appreciate Peter’s contribution and wish him well on his retirement to Mexico,” says Ferneyhough.  “Catharine Saxberg has a background in the music industry and association management and is well qualified to move CMPA forward.”  James agrees, noting that Saxberg’s experience in marketing will be useful in her new role as CMPA Executive Director.

“Catharine is an excellent choice and I am confident she will receive the same positive support from CMPA’s Board of Directors that I enjoyed,” James adds.  “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the music publishers and know that CMPA will continue to flourish under Catharine’s leadership.”  Saxberg was recently Executive Director of The Radio Starmaker Fund, an initiative of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.  She has also held senior positions with Balmur Corus Music and Canadian Broadcast Sales.  “It’s an exciting time for the music publishing industry and I am pleased to being a part of it,” Saxberg says.  “I look forward to working with Canada’s music publishers to promote an understanding of this important facet of the music business.”

For more information contact: Catharine Saxberg, CMPA Executive Director 416-926-7952,




Soul Clap Records Ushers In A New Era With JD Era’s Black Market Mixtape CD

Source:  Soul Clap Records

On May 26, 2005 at The Richmond Lounge (129 Peter Street), Soul Clap Records and The Product Management will formally introduce veteran battle star JD Era to music lovers at his Black Market Mixtape CD Release Party.  Admission to the CD release party is $10.00 or free with the purchase of the Black Market Mixtape.  The Black Market Mixtape also features performances by many Toronto rappers and producers including Rich London, Fever, Messiah and many others. CD’s will be available online at and will line the shelves of your local record and urban wear stores on May 31, 2005.

Clever lyricist JD Era plans to break down poetic borders in the hip hop music scene with help from other members of the Soul Clap family; MC Rich London, Producer/Rapper Fever as well as special guests make appearances.  The Mixtape includes two previously released tracks by JD Era:  Ride Clean, a funky club track that has hit Toronto’s airwaves and sound systems in clubs across North America and The One, which is heating up airwaves both in the U.S. and the U.K.  JD Era’s debut album will be released later this year and will take Canadian rap music on a journey to a new era in hip hop music.

JD has gained a reputation as a battle rapper through performing in underground battles including Last Man Standing in Ottawa and at the University of Windsor’s sports weekend.  The time has come for JD to take his talent to the next level.  “The Black Market Mixtape is just a taste of what’s to come from this talented young artist,” says The Product Management’s Michael “Major” Malabre.  “I don’t believe Canadian rappers are being represented properly at the present time, and I’m here to change that,” says JD Era. “I want to give Canadian Hip Hop a new identity - a makeover. “

Black Market Mixtape CD Release Party:  May 26th 2005 at The Richmond Lounge (129 Peter Street).




Jump and Wave at the 9th annual Barbados on the Water festival

Source:  Harbourfront

TORONTO, May 19, 2005– Canada's largest celebration of Barbadian culture gets even bigger this year with music concerts on the CIBC Stage by legendary Calypso stars The Mighty Gabby with Andy Earle, JEGNA featuring John King performing in the Brigantine Room as well as smooth jazzers NEWA with special guest Eyan Alleyne. Unique theatrical dance performance by Israel Lovell Foundation's amazing 25-member dance, music and theatre company is complemented by the return of the Laff-it-Off comedy troupe who bring the Toronto premiere of their new show AAAAAAmen. Culinary and cricket demonstrations, dancing,  music, comedy and kite-making, and more can also be expected throughout the weekend! Some events are ticketed. For tickets and information, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit  (complete listings, dates and times follow)

Be prepared to sprinkle lightly with lemon on Friday evening at A Taste of Barbados Fish Fry cooking up hot plates of Bajan food to satisfy your appetite. Rhythm poet, UN Spokesperson, and author Aja opens a double-bill evening with a set of spoken word in the Brigantine Room on Friday. Classic jump-up soca and calypso from JEGNA featuring versatile vocalist John King follows, in the first of two nights of sizzlin' performances. (June 17 & 18, 10 p.m., Tickets $20 advance/$25 day of). Returning from last year’s sold-out run, Comedy troupe Laff-It-Off engage in Barbadian satirical humour at the Studio theatre for the Toronto premiere of their new show AAAAAAmen beginning Friday night (June 17 at 7:30 p.m., June 18 at 8 p.m., June 19 at 2 p.m., Tickets $12 for all performances).  

Kids can to channel their creativity at Chris Chandler’s Mural Making near the Toronto Star Stage (June 18 only, noon to 4 p.m.) or participate in a traditional Barbadian Kite Making workshop with Walter Broomes in the Kids Zone Tent (June 19 only, noon to 4 p.m.). Storytellers Gregory Fitt and Itah Sadu weave tall tales inside in the Zoom Room in the afternoon (June 18 & 19, 1 p.m. and June 18, 3:30 p.m.). Adults can once again enjoy rum tasting and tasty fried fish morsels through the weekend afternoons in the World Café. Chef Peter Edey demonstrates his world class culinary skills. (June 18, 2 p.m & 3:45 p.m. and June 19, 3 p.m.)

Saturday and Sunday,  celebrating his 30th year as a Calypsonian, The Mighty Gabby (the official Cultural Envoy/Ambassador of Barbados) performs free concerts with Blues inspired Andy Earle (June 18 at 2 p.m. and June 19 at 4:30 p.m.). The Israel Lovell Foundation Dance Company launch into a mesmerizing theatrical dance performance on the CIBC Stage (June 18 & 19 at 5:30 p.m.) as well as leading a dance and drumming workshop in the Lakeside Terrace (June 19 at 3:30 p.m.) Trevor Walcott & The Tropical Islanders Steel Pan Band and violinist Susan MacIntosh each perform on the Toronto Star Stage (June 18 at 3:30 p.m and  at 5 p.m.) Aja returns to the Studio Theatre stage on Saturday to launch his e-book on the fight against poverty.
(June 18 at 4 p.m.)

Rounding out the weekend fun on Sunday afternoon, a West Indian cricket pitch will be set up for a Cricket demonstration with the narrative provided by the world's greatest opening pair Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge. One of the world’s leading cricket sociologists and author Keith Sandiford reads from The Imperial Game: Cricket, Culture and Society immediately following the demo in the Lakeside Terrace. Roger Gibbs performs calypso on the Toronto Star Stage.

The ninth annual Barbados on the Water festival is presented by Harbourfront Centre in partnership with the Barbados Tourism Authority, the Consulate General of Barbados and the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados.




A Boyish Bublé Leaves 'Em Bubbly

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(May 25, 2005) You know it's a hot show when a scalper buys a ticket for his own use.  Such was the case at the Hummingbird Centre last night where Michael Bublé kicked off the first of three consecutive nights of sold-out concerts.  As the throng of 20-somethings, grandparent types, a smattering of 8-year-olds and Anne Murray made their way into the venue, a gaggle of street merchants were hawking tickets outside at twice the face value.  "This is bigger than Madonna," said one of the brisk sales. "I bought a ticket for myself," said another, predicting that after last night's performance, word of mouth would triple street prices for the remaining shows.  That was a lot of hype considering Bublé hadn't yet uttered a note. He played Massey Hall for one night when he last performed in Toronto 18 months ago.  But that was the giddy anticipation flowing through the crowd for the 29-year-old B.C. native, who marked time in this city on the theatre circuit before embarking on successful recording career.  And it was a triumphant return. He had 'em dancing in the aisles, even though he had to beg a little.  Screams and applause erupted at the first glimpse of Bublé's silhouette behind a giant screen and continued as he stepped out singing "Feeling Good."  That was his theme for the night. Whether cracking wise, gyrating Elvis-style, or emoting earnestly about national pride, he brought a real joy and vigour to the stage.  Was it the plaque he received from his record company prior to the show marking Canadian sales of 300,000 copies of his sophomore record It's Time? Was it the fact that a track from that album, his first original composition "Home," is currently the No. 1 single on Canadian radio? Or, was it that he'd just seen Revenge of the Sith?  In any case, the dude was smoking. Clad in dapper black and looking like a 15-year-old at his sister's wedding, he belted out standards like a master, yet displayed a goofy irreverence that made it fresh.  He smoothly segued from a Darth Vadar impression to a tenderized version of Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness," which he followed by laughing through the beginning of "Fever" and then jumping into the audience to pose for photos — which are supposed to be a no-no in the venue — and on and on it went.  "When I was a kid I didn't expect the world to suck this bad," he offered as explanation for his shtick and commitment to hopeful songs about "love, passion, and dirty, dirty sex."  When the audience took him up on his prodding to dance their "little butts off," he rewarded them with a three-song encore, exclaiming "Wow! You rock!"  No, you rock.




Onward Christian Rockers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critic

(May 23, 2005) It is halfway through Saturday's heavy-duty rock event at the Kingswood Music Theatre in Paramount Canada's Wonderland and the band Audio Adrenaline is pumping out a deafening barrage of rap-flavoured rock in the style of commercial heavyweights Linkin Park.  A predominantly adolescent audience of about 5,000, many of them jammed in front of the stage, are jumping up and down, jubilantly raising one and sometimes both hands in the air, as they shriek along at the top of their lungs.  Near the back stands a man whose folded arms and bemused expression immediately cast him in the familiar supporting role of supervising elder.  It wouldn't be any clearer if he had a T-shirt that said, "Adult chaperone." Instead, he is wearing a ball cap stamped with, "Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames."  The hat refers to the title of a church theatrical production. The placid-looking man under it, 47-year-old Barry Elliott, has ferried a busload of Christian rock fans down from Orillia.  The noncommittal look on his face doesn't suggest anything like displeasure.  "There's a message here for the kids," he says. "Sometimes, you can't hear it above the music. But it's there. And they get it. That's what matters to me."  The message, while not always entirely intelligible under the wailing of guitars and pounding of drums, is never far from the surface.  "We're looking for some believers who are willing to get their hands dirty for Jesus," says Audio Adrenaline lead singer Mark Stuart, alluding to Christ's Crucifixion in his between-song banter. "Tonight we're looking for volunteers who don't care if they get pierced or persecuted."

The piercing is metaphorical. It is not an invitation to run out to the tattoo parlour.  The event, dubbed Spring Celebration '05 and presented by California-based Sonshine Concerts, is a small part of the growing multi-billion-dollar business of Christian rock. Most of the day's acts, for instance, will join crossover stars Switchfoot and Relient K at Creation Fest, an annual, four-day, camp-out event expected to draw more than 100,000 fans to Mt. Union, Penn. at the end of June. Many of the same bands will reconvene a month later for Kingdom Bound '05, another four-day marathon at Six Flags Darien Lake in western New York state.  Superficially, Saturday's five-band, six-hour event headlined by marquee Australian Christian rock vets Newsboys, is indistinguishable from any other rock event targeted mainly at teens. When you aren't paying attention to the words — and there are times when you can't make them out, even if you are — you might think you are at Edgefest or Vans Warped.  The musical styles are instantly recognizable. Opener Lucerin Blue, a group of Goderich upstarts, might be the Christian Korn. They were followed by the Creed-like post-grunge of U.S. Midwesterners Kutless, the anthemic U2-meets-Coldplay rock of U.K.'s Delirious?, Audio Adrenaline and, Newsboys, who, befitting their standing as headliners, wrapped things up with a big, theatrical spectacle.  Also familiar are the large banners for sponsoring radio stations that flank the stage, although in this case it's the deejays for Life 100.3 and not Q107, which has the privilege of introducing the bands.  "We look very carefully at the lifestyle of the artists and choose songs by artists whose music has spiritual significance," says Ben Davy, 31, program director and morning host for Life 100.3, which is based in Barrie and has towers in Orillia and Peterborough.  Present, too, are merchandise tents where you can load up on CDs, books, T-shirts, buttons and other paraphernalia, alongside various information booths, including one for Tyndale University College and Seminary, a degree-granting, post-secondary institution located near Steeles and Bayview Aves.

"The big thing for us is to let people know the value of a Christian education compared to what you'd get at a public university," says enrolment director Sheldon Grabke, 38.  "We just had someone come up who wants to do psychology. At Tyndale, you can do a degree in psychology from a Christian perspective."  The Christian perspective is essential to the sounds, too. Many mainstream bands, most notably including U2, have Christian members, but their music doesn't qualify as Christian rock to purists.  "It's not about the music, it's about who wrote it," says Ottawa's Brock Entwistle, a 46-year-old Seventh Day Adventist, who has dropped by the Life 100.3 booth hoping to find some earplugs for his 10-year-old son.  "Are they in it for the money? Or are they in it for God's name?"  U2's failure to meet that exalted standard doesn't necessarily quality as grounds for shunning.  "They are delivering a positive message of hope and redemption, unlike a lot of secular bands," says Entwistle, before adding he wishes Bono wouldn't swear on TV.  "I probably wouldn't choose to listen to music with profanity, but I'm not shielded from it either," says Chris Laing, 22, a second-year student at Master's College and Seminary, a bible college in Toronto.  Laing, taking time out from the brisk business being done by the merchandize booth operated by his part-time employer, Mitchell Family Books in Etobicoke, is a big fan of Kutless and Delirious?, but is also fond of Beck and Radiohead.  "I don't know if I'd go so far as to say Radiohead's music is spiritual, but it's something I like to put on when I'm lying on my bed thinking."

Brenda Slomka, 25, an enrolment counsellor for Tyndale, even allows to an interest— if not liking — for rapper Eminem's curdling narratives.  "Some of it is interesting because he has lived a significantly different life than I have," she says. "There's a story to the songs.  "I would be more open to listening to Eminem than I would be to listening to Britney Spears, who doesn't have anything to say."  Not all Christian rock listeners are as catholic in their listening habits.  "I'm not really a fan of non-Christian music to be honest with you," says Davy of Life 100.3. "I want to listen to the kind of music that mirrors my own life."  Huntsville's Tim Beckett, 32, recently went so far as to throw out all of his non-Christian albums, including discs by Van Halen and AC/DC.  "We just found it was a negative influence," says Beckett, who is married and has a 6-year-old. "My son will eventually make his own choices. But for now he won't listen to anything we don't put on."  It isn't surprising, perhaps, that no one at the concert is prepared to say — as was routinely preached 40 and 50 years ago — that rock music is intrinsically evil. Google "Christian rock," however, and two of the top three sites are devoted to questioning and/or denouncing the moral probity of Christian rock.  "It does not matter whether I listen to secular or `Christian rock,' when the songs are over, I feel the same," reads a posting from a 21-year-old student from Michigan. "I feel an emptiness in my soul, a heavy burden. Even `Christian rock' sometimes makes me feel like going out and getting rowdy or even hurting someone else if they provoke me, and that is against all of God's teachings, and everything God stands for. So get rid of all rock!!!"  That kind of sentiment doesn't cut any ice with Abbey Nielsen, a 16-year-old from Hamilton attending the concert with her two friends, Karra Overholt, also of Hamilton, and Kris Heiple, who has made the trek up from Michigan.  "It's the spirit that you come to the music with, not the music itself, that matters," Nielsen says.  Overholt, in addition to identifying herself as a P.K. (Christian slang for pastor's kid), said she was susceptible to getting songs stuck in her head.  "If a song is going to go around in my head all day, I want it to have a positive influence," Overholt says. "Christian rock has God in it. And when you sing along it's like you are actually singing to God. Blasting Christian hard rock feels so good."  Her friends nod their heads enthusiastically in agreement.  Nielsen says: "Sometimes my mom comes into my room when the music is really loud and says, `This is Christian music?' And I say, `Yeah, mom, it is.'"




Music's Copyright Defenders Face An Unstoppable Force

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
By Joshua Ostroff

More than a dozen years into the war on sampling, postmodern music is proving impossible to turn off. Copyright crackdowns on the sound collages of hip-hop and electronic music have simply moved unauthorized sampling onto the black market. Commercial acts without major-label cash, such as Canadian producers Sixtoo and Caribou, often now record live musicians rather than digging through records. But creative copyright infringement -- done for love and respect not necessarily money -- is thriving on-line as mash-ups and at street-level on mixtapes. Don Joyce of Bay Area audio-activists Negativland notes the music industry's technophobia dates back to radio. "The same idiotic argument came again with VCRs, it came with cassette tapes, with CDs and with all the samplers," he says disdainfully. "Gee, I don't when we're ever going to learn that you can't kill music. We're fearful little mammals." Currently celebrating their 25th anniversary of sonic disobedience with yesterday's release of the CD/book/anti-copyright manifesto No Business -- an anti-copyright manifesto summing up the group's "current take on issues of file-sharing, downloading, appropriation, and the supposed collapse of the music business, circa 2005 -- Negativland recently launched Toronto's month-long Deep Wireless radio art festival at the Drake Hotel. Performing their long-running radio show Over the Edge to a sold-out crowd including David Byrne, they spent two knob-twiddling hours contemplating religion through sampled soundbites and snippets of gospel, Gershwin and a Canadian schoolchildren cover of the Beach Boy's God Only Knows. It would seem hard to argue the group's remixing of culture has intentions other than artistic commentary, which is permitted to some degree under the U.S. "Fair Use" doctrine. But though Negativland's on-air audio collages are safe from lawsuits, the group is infamous as one of the first artists to have their sample-based songs declared illegal after being sued over unauthorized use of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Settling out of court, they've avoided further suits without toning down their act. No Business is jam-packed with uncleared samples from Disney films, Ethel Merman, Beatles bootlegs and even the Grammys. In fact, the group makes a bold point of listing off their sample sources on the album liner notes. "From a voracious, litigious viewpoint it's sue-bait," Joyce concedes. "Michael Jackson could sue for using The Beatles, though I tend to think he's got enough problems. Technically, what we're doing is infringing on copyright but we're trying to make a point that it's a silly, destructive and inhibitory law. It's anti-art, in effect." Though the Beatles were sampling pioneers with Revolution 9, their popularity as source material have made them major players in the copyright wars.

Last spring, Danger Mouse's Grey Album famously combined the White Album with the vocals from a special a cappella version of Jay-Z's Black Album. Though the Grey Album earned the most attention -- and threatening letters from The Beatles' label EMI -- it was but one of many illegal album-length remixes, including The Black Jays Album by Toronto rappers/producers Kardinal Offishall and Solitair. "Being that Jay-Z has never released a whole a cappella album, it was pretty much done specifically for producers to [remix]," Solitair says. "We thought we'd get a lot press out of it, which we did." Winning the attention of media like The New York Times, they were also continuing hip-hop's long tradition of copyright infringement. Early tracks like Rapper's Delight swiped disco instrumentals but by the late eighties, innovative producers were layering hundreds of samples to create collage classics like the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet until a 1992 precedent-setting court decision against rapper Biz Markie ended this era. Today's sampling can seem unimaginative because contemporary producers use fewer sources. A recent U.S. ruling against an old N.W.A. track means that even a two-second sample must be paid for. "As an independent you might not have the money required to clear the samples," Solitair says. "Artists like Jay-Z and Kanye can get whatever samples they want cleared; the average smaller-scale artist would never get away with that unless it's on the mixtape hand-to-hand hustle." Solitair rarely uses samples on his commercial work -- he makes more royalties writing his own music -- but has taken advantage of the mixtape scene. Mixtapes, actually CDs, started in the late seventies as cassette-recorded mixes from DJs like Grandmaster Flash. It evolved into an underground industry where up-and-comers like 50 Cent showcased their skills, often using borrowed beats or vocals. Mixtapes also provide homes for uncleared samples -- Ghostface and Talib Kwelli both used them to release Beatles-based tracks. For Solitair's debut The Return of the Silver Surfer --which follows Kardinal's Juno-nominated mixtape Kill Bloodclot Bill -- he placed rhymes from Mobb Deep, Lloyd Banks and Missy Elliott over his self-produced beats, one of which samples an obscure Marvin Gaye calypso cover. "Those are things I wouldn't have been able to do and release [commercially] because obviously the copyright of the vocals is theirs," he notes.

But since mixtapes are done primarily for promotional purposes, not money, and sold off the radar, they're difficult to shut down. The same is true of mash-ups, where two or more disparate tracks are combined and then shared freely over the Internet. Since works rarely appearing in brick-and-mortar stores, lawyers have had little luck containing the scene. Last fall, Disney tried quashing The Kleptones' A Night at the Hip-Hopera, which combined Queen songs with hip-hop. But the Brits were undaunted and this year's Motown-themed From Detroit to J.A. mixes Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Kelis and Snoop. Meanwhile, attacks against the Grey Album succeeded only in mobilizing the anti-copyright community -- one year later a grassroots "Free Culture" movement has sprouted on U.S. campuses. Artists like Solitair believe copyright should protect them from exploitation, but also realize the benefits of mixtapes and mashes. However, the long-standing laws -- originally established to prevent counterfeiting, not sampling -- don't recognize that dichotomy. To rectify this, the Creative Commons organization has created flexible copyright licences. Traditional copyright is "all rights reserved" whereas the liberalized CC licenses allows for "some rights reserved" enabling artists to specify how their music is subsequently handled. Marcus Bornfreund, head of Creative Commons Canada and University of Ottawa law professor, helped port the U.S. master licence to make it applicable here. He says there are 10 million creative works under CC licences with seven million in the past year alone. Just this spring Yahoo launched a search engine to locate CC-licensed works. "[Mash-ups and mixtapes] are the state of the art, but the art is often out of the law. Artists have to recognize that they are influencing the law but it is a slow-moving creature," Bornfreund says. "So be patient, be hopeful. Keep up the good work."




Jazz Festival Upstart Beats The Oldies

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(May 23, 2005) The credo of Toronto's major jazz presenters -- the Downtown and Beaches festivals, the Montreal Bistro, the Top O' The Senator in its day, JAZZ.FM91 -- seems to be "Give 'em what they've heard before." No one wants to take any chances. Not so, thank goodness, the Distillery Jazz Festival. Now midway through its third year, this upstart event under the artistic direction of producer Larry Rossignol makes a point of tempering the familiar with the unfamiliar, or at least the fresh. The Downtown and Beaches fests could both use even a little of its initiative. (It in turn could use more of their mid-summer weather; while Friday night was as pleasant as May evenings get, Saturday turned quite chilly.) The familiar on the Distillery festival's five indoor and patio stages during its first two nights included the Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), Kollage, singer Emilie-Claire Barlow and pianists Brian Dickinson, Hilario Duran and Doug Riley, all younger or older standbys of the local scene. The unfamiliar numbered the vocal pairing of Christine Duncan and Paul Dutton, the freewheeling trio Open Loose, a duo of guitarist David Tronzo and bassist Andrew Downing and the solo piano of Deanna Witkowski. And the fresh? Well, NOJO may be familiar enough, but not in Friday night's incarnation, which found unexpected congruity between its guest string section and Phatt Al, its guest rapper. Ditto Hilario Duran, whose new and mighty Havana-styled big band made its world premiere on Saturday. Certainly no one at a Toronto jazz festival has ever heard anything exactly like Duncan and Dutton before. She's the singer of the two; he's more interested in sound for sound's sake.  They carried on Friday night at the Dancemakers studio like two old cronies who'd long since stopped listening to each other but continued to talk anyway, all blather and bluster. Or maybe two very young children, who hadn't yet acquired an adult's inhibition when it came to making noises with their mouths. Of course their points of reference, a veritable world atlas of folk styles from throat singing to yodelling, suggested something different -- something quite knowing and virtuosic.

The New York trio Open Loose, led by bassist Mark Helias, was no less mercurial, though rather more traditional, with its skeletal tunes fleshed out both melodically and emotionally by the eruptive tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. Another New Yorker, slide guitarist Dave Tronzo, has struck up an amiable working relationship with Toronto bassist Andrew Downing; neither musician was pushing himself, or the other, to any great degree on Saturday night at the Dancemakers site, but their duets were full of little ingenuities and bluesy asides. Deanna Witkowski, also in from New York, introduced herself to Toronto as an improviser with an orchestrator's ear. Rather than streamlining her solo pieces as a bebopper might, she fills them up rhythmically and harmonically. They swell as much as they swing, all warmth and comfort; two of the first four items in her early show Saturday in the Gibsone-Jessop Gallery were in fact affectionate dedications to fellow pianists, one to the late Mary Lou Williams and the other -- a rather literal, soft-edged danzon - to Hilario Duran, whom Witkowski visited in Toronto some years ago for guidance in Cuban music. Speaking of Duran, his own orchestra was in incisive form for its first public performance at the Stone Distillery Building. Most of Duran's musicians are among the usual suspects on the local big band scene -- gringos, in other words -- but they were undaunted in the face of the complexity, power and great spirit of the pianist's writing. And when Duran and company play the Downtown Jazz and Beaches festivals some day down the road, as surely they must, remember this: The Distillery Jazz Festival had them first. The Distillery Jazz Festival continues this afternoon, resumes on Friday night and concludes the following Sunday afternoon.




Faith Is 'Mesmerized': Singer Releases New Single From Capitol CD 'The First Lady'

Source: ICED Media, Tynicka Battle,

(May 20, 2005) This is Faith Evan’s time. You can see it in her toned physique, sense it in her confident manner and hear it on her fourth CD (and debut on Capitol Records) "The First Lady." Featuring songs written and arranged by Faith, and production from the Neptunes, Chucky Thompson, Mario Winans, Brian Cox, Jermaine Dupri and Carvin and Ivan, "The First Lady" is the platinum selling, Grammy winning Faith Evans, as you’ve never experienced her. Direct. Dramatic. Playful. Passionate. Rich with wisdom, sexy, and brimming with an undeniable passion. 10 years into a career that’s had its share of tribulations and triumph, "The First Lady" is the record Faith was born to create.  The title’s significance? “When you think of a “first lady”, you might not hear her speaking but she always seems to handle everything with a certain dignity. I feel that way about myself. In the past I haven’t made it a habit to deliver sound bites or verbalize everything I’m going through, because it’s about seeing things for what they are and sorta tucking a feather in your cap. Watching. Observing and growing,” Faith smiles,” and I’m still standing.”  That she is. Ask her what makes “The First Lady” special and Faith enthuses. “Liberation! Being in a different place mentally and physically, because I have gone through a lot of changes. Being on a new label is really a new start; one many artists don’t get. It’s refreshing to be able to start again and have the creative freedom I’m now enjoying.”

That freedom is evident on the first single “Again”, produced by Carvin and Ivan (Jill Scott, Musiq). Set to a retro, mid tempo groove “Again” is Faith’s “testimony;” an intimate look at the drama of the past few years. ”I know when you come back out people want to talk about what you’ve been through and being in the news (e.g. a 2004 arrest on drug charges), I’ve seen how things can get blown out of proportion. “ No stranger to media scrutiny, Faith was nonetheless stunned by the intensity of the coverage following the incident -to avoid a trial Evans and her husband entered a spiritual based diversion program. Faith was inspired to work her issues out through her music. “Again” is how I want that situation to be understood but it’s not what the whole album is about. I’m just getting the information out and then we’re gonna jump into another song and have some fun.”  That song is the high energy “Going Out” produced by the Neptunes and featuring Pharell and Pusha. “It’s different, unexpected; The Neptunes always do something left field. I love this song because it’s young, open and fun. I’m about to live life and no matter what happens I know God’s got me covered. I’m not going to stay sad, I’m at a great place in my life and “Going Out” is my way of summing that up.”

Delivering a classic soul vibe is “Mesmerized,” co-written with husband Todd Russaw and produced by Chucky Thompson (Faith’s 1995 debut), AJ and Russaw. “I love that song! I had the track for 2 years and started messing around in my studio and came up with the hook, just me in the basement with Todd. Then when Chucky and I got back together he was like, My God! The chemistry is still there; nobody could have done that track but you. It’s just raw. I’m really channelling my inner Lyn Collins.” Laced with lushness is “Ever Wonder” a duet with another old friend, Mario Winans. "That song is just a radio hit and it’s honest and simple. It reminds me of (2002’s Grammy nominated) “Can’t Believe” which Mario produced. “Ever Wonder” is also collaboration with her husband. Working with Todd is something Faith describes as “beautiful” adding; “he inspires me in every way. He’s very encouraging and wants me to be the best I can be in every possible way. “  Born in Florida Faith grew up in Newark, New Jersey, raised by her grandparents and her mother, who was a singer. At 2, Faith was already performing in church and as a high school honour student sang in school before winning a full scholarship to Fordham University. After a year, Faith left college to see if her jazz and classical voice training could pay off.

She got her answer, and by the early 90’s Faith was a session singer and songwriter for, among others Christopher Williams, Usher, Pebbles and Mary J Blige. Faith’s contributions brought her to the attention of Sean “P.Diddy” Combs who signed Evans to Bad Boy. In 1995 Faith dropped her debut Faith, which on the strength of “You Used To Love Me” and “Soon As I Get Home” went platinum. That same year Faith met label mate The Notorious B.I.G and after a whirlwind courtship married him, capping off the relationship with a guest spot on a hit remix of Biggie’s “One More Chance.”  In 1996 she and Biggie had a son yet the marriage was strained and the couple separated. In March 1997 Faith was thrust unwillingly into the news when Biggie was gunned down in Los Angeles. Her grief was expressed via a moving vocal performance on the #1 single “I’ll Be Missing You,” produced by Combs.  That same year saw Faith’s sophomore CD “Keep The Faith.” Like its predecessor, the CD went platinum, and featured “Love Like This”, and the Babyface produced #1 “Never Gonna Let You Go”. Faith juggled solo work with high profile cameos ala Whitney Houston’s 1999 single “Heartbreak Hotel” and Eve’s “Love Is Blind” (2000). Her third platinum CD “Faithfully” (2001) showcased a more up-tempo sound via hits like “You Gets No Love.” In 2003 Faith made her feature film debut, along side Beyonce and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in “The Fighting Temptations” and in 2004 signed with Capitol.

When asked what people will hear on “The First Lady,” Faith is reflective. “Growth. I know I have fans that believe in me and who have been with me since that first album. Having that support is wonderful. This time, perhaps more ever before, I’m trying to show a real range of emotions. I’ve been through so much. I lost a husband, a label, I’ve gained weight, lost weight, been arrested, won awards, there’s so much. These are all things that are a part of my life and my music, but I'm able to take all of it and grow. After three albums I know that nobody can do what Faith Evans does like Faith Evans. ”

Check out the Mesmerized AUDIO here:





Singer Faith Evans Promotes, Protects Slain Husband Name

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(May 25, 2005) R&B singer/songwriter Faith Evans has forged a respectable career over the last decade, though not necessarily one reflecting her new album's title, The First Lady. An enchanting voice and decent sales of three previous albums notwithstanding, that moniker has more to do with her position as the widow of rapper Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G" Wallace, who was gunned down in 1997.  "A lot of my female fans always comment on how they appreciate me exuding a certain class and dignity throughout my career in comparison to Jackie O., my favourite first lady," explained Evans during a recent promotional visit to Toronto.  "She very much was a strong woman in her own right, but yet connected to a lot of powerful men and probably even overshadowed by them, but still had to deal with her fair share of scrutiny, but still exuded a certain class that you respected. That's why I chose to call the album that."  Apparently class is relative because unlike Evans, who was estranged from Wallace when he was killed, Jacqueline Onassis, widow of assassinated U.S. prez John F. Kennedy, was never busted for dope and probably didn't have her children's names tattooed on her bicep.  But, that's the dichotomy of Evans, who evokes the sweetness of R&B, while flirting with hip-hop's hard edges. One-on-one, clad in close-fitting jeans and vintage Zappa tee, the petite 32-year-old mother of three is girlish, but guarded, soft-spoken, but steely eyed.  In the four years since her last disc, she has relocated to L.A. from Atlanta, joined a new record label and dropped five clothing sizes.  "It's a very competitive industry and it's hard to try to figure out the right way to stay on top, or to stay interesting to people," she acknowledged. "And I'm not getting any younger."  Nor, Evans admits, is it easy to juggle the demands of motherhood in an image-driven industry. She has a daughter, Chyna, 12, and two sons, C.J., 8, (with Wallace) and Joshua, 6, (with husband/manager Todd Russaw).  "I certainly never made the decision to have children based on how it would affect my career. I was supposed to be working on my second album when I got pregnant. I know that was a shock at the label, but in my contract it didn't say `You can't be a woman and get pregnant.'  "It affected how long it took for my record to come out and it affected my appearance when it did, because I had to rush to do a video and I really wasn't ready. I remember being at the video shoot when my son was two months old and taping my waist with duct tape.

"Even now that I'm a lot more comfortable with my body I do certainly factor in the fact that I do have kids. I'm constantly checking my daughter — `That skirt is too short, the shirt is too low, we need to put on a tank top under that, sweetie' — so how I could I teach her these things and do the opposite?"  The move to Capitol Records from P.Diddy's Bad Boy label — where she was the label's first female artist signed (more First Lady imagery) — has Evans the most amped about her career since her 1995 self-titled debut.  "Bad Boy was a boutique label, so it was much smaller staffed, a lot more was designated to one person; this company is very departmental. There are pros and cons in both situations, but the best thing for me now is that there's an excitement in every department about Faith. It's a campaign for Faith; not Faith under the wing of ..., or in the family of ... It's all about Faith and that's certainly what I've wanted my entire career."  She co-wrote most of The First Lady, an engaging, though unspectacular collection of retro-soul and hip hop inflected songs.  On the empowering first single "Again," Evans sings of learning from mistakes and takes a swipe at the media over reportage of her and Russaw's arrests last year by Atlanta police, who said they found marijuana and cocaine in their car during a traffic stop. (The charges were dropped after the couple completed a voluntary rehabilitation program).  "One of the downsides of being a celebrity is that anything that gets out is open to billions of people's opinion; that song was to remind the public to read with open mind."  And one of the downsides of being the widow of a hip-hop icon is constantly fielding questions about him. But Evans takes it in stride, even paying homage to B.I.G. during her shows. After all, it's one of her selling points and she's raising their son.  "He's very much aware that he is the product of hip hop royalty," she said of C.J.  "He gets different questions than my other kids. I think he's really good at handling it. My husband is constantly educating him. We play records for him, we point out when other rappers take lines from his dad."  Evans and Wallace's mother oversee his estate (his posthumously released recording Life After Death sold more than 10 million copies).  "I want us to be a lot more creative in keeping his legacy alive, treat him like the Elvis of hip hop. It hasn't been taken as seriously as I would like. We entrusted it to other people to make those decisions and there were times when people got permission to use his lyrics before we knew about it and we would never have approved it.  A wrongful death suit filed against the Los Angles Police Department by Evans and his mother Voletta Wallace finally goes to trial next month.  "Now, we're not even in pursuit of the murderer, because by the LAPD has told us over the last eight years that obviously they're not really trying to find that person; so our case is more against them for the lack of investigating it. Definitely, the outcome is not going to be financial, because we've been paying lawyers for eight years.  "I don't think we're going to find who killed him, however it will lead people to understand that we take it seriously."




Jazzing Up Iconic Hits

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(May 24, 2005) If the story in jazz these days is singers, singers and more singers, then the subplot concerns their choice of songs. Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Kate Hammett-Vaughan and Karrin Allyson are just a few of the vocalists who have been poking around contemporary pop music in search of fresh material. After all, how many versions of My Funny Valentine do we really need? (Far fewer than we already have. Rim shot, please.) Allyson, who's up from New York this week for club appearances in Montreal and Toronto, has been talking a lot about her choice of material since the release last year of her ninth CD for the California label Concord Jazz, Wild for You, which includes songs written by or associated with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Carole King, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack and others. "It's a jazz album, of course," she says with certainty, in a telephone conversation from her home on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "It's just not jazz repertoire." Inevitably, eyebrows have been raised. Allyson's eighth CD, In Blue, was devoted to the blues, while her seventh, Ballads, paid tribute to the romantic side of saxophonist John Coltrane. What could be more faithful to the essence of jazz? So then, "Why these tunes, why now?" Allyson asks the question herself, rhetorically, referring to the songs on Wild for You and setting up what by now must be a well-practised answer. "Why any tunes, any time? We've been trying to make interesting choices from the beginning. These tunes were some of the tunes that made me want to start singing in the first place, so it just seemed natural. And we've been doing pop tunes or, if you will, singer-songwriter tunes, ever since my first recording. So it's not really that much of a departure." Sure enough, a glance at her debut on Concord Records from 1992, I Didn't Know About You, reveals the inclusion of Janis Ian's Jesse and Randy Newman's Guilty.

But Allyson is a jazz singer; of this there can be no doubt. Only a jazz singer would also have recorded tunes by Gigi Gryce, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. And only a jazz singer would admit, with respect to her version of Powell's Parisienne Thoroughfare in particular, "I love to improvise when I sing. I don't do it all the time, but it's one way to have some fun and get involved with the band -- doing vocalise without lyrics, or even singing with lyrics and singing fast and interacting with the musicians. That's one of the ways I'm part of the band. "I'm the leader, but I'm definitely part of the band, not just a singer having these guys back me up." Of course, Allyson hasn't always been a jazz singer. Back in her hometown of Omaha, Neb., she studied classical piano and sang the very songs that she has revisited on Wild for You. Her conversion to jazz, when it finally came in college, was quick. "As soon as I heard Thelonious Monk, and Bill Evans, and Nancy Wilson, and Cannonball Adderley and Carmen McRae," she remembers, "it was, 'Okay, I want that stuff in my repertoire.' So I started to add standards and to emulate some of my favourite singers. Of course that's what all young musicians do." Clearly, though, she didn't forget those 1970s pop hits of her teens. Indeed, unlike the jazz classics that have been recorded by so many singers over the years, Joni Mitchell's Help Me, Elton John's Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word and Carole King's It's Too Late -- to cite three of the 13 songs on Wild for You -- have to date had singular histories in which their first recorded versions are iconic. As such, it must have been hard initially for Allyson not to hear them the way Mitchell, John and King et al., sang them, just as it remains difficult for anyone listening to the CD not to make his or her own comparisons. "We've been doing some of these tunes for years in live gigs," she agrees, "but not so far removed from the original version, which wasn't a bad thing at the time, but I didn't want to record them that way, obviously. "Now, I hear them the way we do them."

Their transformation has actually been quite subtle, thanks to the arrangements created under Allyson's direction by keyboard player Gil Goldstein. "I wanted to be taken away from the original arrangements," she explains of her instructions, "but I didn't want them to be unrecognizable." And her fans' response? In truth, sales figures for Wild for You haven't been notably greater than for Allyson's previous CDs. "I wouldn't say it's a commercial breakthrough," she notes, "although something like this might take a little more time. You never know what could happen down the road with it." Except that Allyson's 10th CD will again be different -- she's cagey when asked about it -- and even now those Wild for You songs are just one part of her repertoire for her two Canadian stops with guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe LaBarbera. Indeed, from the blues to Coltrane, to Carly Simon to who-knows-what's-next, Allyson has made it a point of principle to keep moving -- something else only a jazz singer would do. Karrin Allyson sings at Club Soda in Montreal tomorrow, and at the Top o' The Senator in Toronto from Friday to Sunday.



On 'Bluestars' Pretty Ricky Shines

Source: LaTrice Burnette, Atlantic Records

(May 24, 2005)  Blue Star Entertainment International and Atlantic Records have announced the release this week of the eagerly awaited debut album from the Miami-bred quartet known collectively as Pretty Ricky. Entitled "BLUESTARS," the album features the smash single, "Grind With Me." Executive Producers of the set are Craig Kallman and Joseph "Bluestar" Smith. Real-life brothers, Pretty Ricky consists of rappers Slick 'Em, Baby Blue, and Spectacular, and singer Pleasure. "Grind With Me" exploded onto the Florida music scene in late-2004, when it became the most requested song in the history of Miami radio station Power 96. Subsequently signed to Atlantic by Co-Chairman/COO Craig Kallman, Pretty Ricky has seen "Grind With Me" become a cross-country smash. The song has bulleted into the top ten at both Rhythmic Top 40 and R&B/Hip-Hop formats nationwide. The "Grind With Me" companion video is the #3 most-played clip on BET, has been added to MTV, and is in "Sizzlin'" rotation on MTV Jams. Pretty Ricky is slated to appear on BET's "106 & Park" on May 27th. In early June, the brothers will be paying a visit to MTV's Beachouse in Las Vegas and will make appearances on various MTV programs, including "Hits" and "DFX." In the online world, "Grind With Me" is the #1 Urban video on Yahoo! Music, and the #3 most-requested video across the entire service. Yahoo! Music visitors have also voted Pretty Ricky as their #1 Urban act "poised for superstardom" in the weekly "Dig It Or Dis It" user poll. Pretty Ricky is also making music on cell phones nationwide. The "Grind With Me" ringtone is a top-seller across all U.S. wireless carriers and third-party wireless aggregators.

Under the tutelage of their father, Blue Smith, Pretty Ricky has been performing throughout Florida and the southeast since 1997, earning acclaim for their charismatic style and spectacular stage presence. Teaming up with the Unusual Suspects production team (responsible for Trick Daddy's recent smash, "Let's Go"), they set to work making records which would capture their unique approach and compelling energy. By 2002, Pretty Ricky began tasting greater success with their song "Flossin'," which began buzzing on Power 96. The brothers continued grinding and hustling - writing songs, building relationships with their fans, and doing lots of shows. They have opened for some of hip-hop's heavyweights, including Run-DMC, Lil Jon, Trick Daddy, Trina, and newcomer, fellow Miami comrade Pitbull. Keeping their entrepreneurial spirit alive, Pretty Ricky's "BLUESTARS" is being released tomorrow by Atlantic in association with the group's own Bluestar Entertainment International imprint.



Ernestine Anderson: Singing the Blues in Honour of Billie Holiday

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(May 24, 2005) Quincy Jones is purported to have said that Ernestine Anderson’s voice is like honey at dusk.  If that is the case, then at dawn, her voice must be pure ambrosia.  She proved her vocal prowess most recently when she made a rare appearance at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola on the 5th floor of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located at 10 Columbus Circle in New York City.  Her show bill featured the Music of Billie Holiday from Friday, March 31 through Sunday, April 3.  The sassy and sultry stylist was accompanied by the Frank Wess Quartet.  Wess’s Quartet couldn’t have been a more splendid and harmonious musical adjunct to Ms. Anderson’s soulful, bluesy style of vocal pyrotechnics. Born in Houston, Texas, to a musical family, on November 11, 1928, Ernestine was surrounded by music at an early age.  “When I was 12, I went to an audition and one of the musicians in the band asked me what key I sang in.  I had no idea.  I had sang gospel pretty much up until that time and was too young to think in terms of singing in a particular key.  So, I answered “C” just because that key popped into my mind.  The musicians started playing in “C” and it was then I realized that “C” was the wrong key for me.  I was feeling stuck, but my mother told me there is no such thing as the wrong key.  She told me to just keep singing.  So, I improvised.  After I finished, one of the musicians informed me that the style I was singing was jazz and told me I was a jazz singer” explained Ms. Anderson.   Anderson later toured with the Johnny Otis band and then in 1955 with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra.  Her tour through the Scandinavian countries made her a huge success.  “I have been all over,” says Ernestine onstage.  “I sang in Africa. I have sung in Sweden and I have sung in Tokyo.  I am a trouper who knows the show must go on.”   While in Sweden, Anderson recorded her first solo album.  Released by Mercury Records it was entitled “Hot Cargo.”  By 1958, her star had risen so rapidly she was named “Best New Vocal Star” in Down Beats 1959 Critics Poll and was featured in Time magazine.  In the 1960s, with the arrival of the Beatles and the changing musical scene in America at that time, Anderson, like other jazz musicians, sought out work in Europe.  Although, Anderson had a lengthy sojourn in Europe, America remained close to her heart.

Sitting on the Dizzy Club stage dressed in a black sequined outfit, Anderson regaled her beloved American audience with songs like “A Song For You,” “This Can’t Be Love” “Fine & Mellow,” “Going to Chicago,” “Sunny Side of the Street” and “Night Life.”  Listening to her sing, it became clear that Anderson, who has been singing for over 5 decades, is a true jazz performer.  She is a consummate artist who is known for her jazz, swing and blues virtuosity as well as for her superb balladry style.  Such talent could not go unnoticed and thus she was acknowledged for her musical mastery with Grammy nominations for her two recent CDs from Qwest, “Blues, Dues & Love News” (1996) and “Now and Then” (1993).   There is nothing, it seems, the lady can’t do, as she transports her incredible talents from intimate trio formats to big band, from small club settings to the festival showground, from the national stage to the international arena, all with the verve, panache and sophistication that depicts her love for the music she sings so well.  Anderson sings with great heart.  She sings from within a depth of feel that goes all the way to her soul.  Is it any wonder audiences are enraptured by each trill, scat and melodic sound that Ernestine warbles?  The woman sings with such purity it is simply genius.  The proliferation of this searing performer’s musical cache has been white hot.  A fact, evidenced by her more than 30 albums, performed at most of the major jazz festivals and by her receipt of 4 Grammy nominations.  She was also included among some of the world’s most renowned African American women when she was featured in the book “I Dreamed A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.” With her new CD “Love Makes the Changes” topping the charts (High Note 2003), it is said about Ernestine that whether she sings Ellington or whether she sings Sting, her interpretation of a song is infectious.  And indeed, those who have heard her latest CD are infected and just can’t seem to get enough or stop the music.

After spending years in Europe, the talented performer returned to the States and went into semi-retirement, performing at the occasion local club.  A Buddhist, Ernestine, who recharged herself during her semi-retirement, with the urgings of bassist Ray Brown, once again resumed her career.  She signed with Concord Records in 1976, making close to 20 albums with them.  Two, “Never Make Your Move Too Soon,” recorded in 1981 and “Big City” (1983) received Grammy nominations.  In 1998, Koch Jazz released a collection of her jazz standard to great acclaim. “I have spent the majority of my life performing” quipped Ernestine.  “I have sung many styles of music and spent a lot of time with my music.  The one thing I have learned is -- the older you get, the more you know what to do with your time” states the indelible singer.    From this writer’s point of view, time spent listening to the music of Ernestine Anderson, is time well spent.  Interested parties can learn more about this melodious master of her craft at




American Idol Goes A Little Bit Country

Associated Press

(May 26, 2005) Los Angeles — Carrie Underwood, the country sweetheart who beguiled national television audiences with her strong voice and bright smile is this year's American Idol, defeating Southern rocker Bo Bice in the show's finale Wednesday night. The Oklahoma native received more viewer votes than runner-up Bice, of Alabama, after Tuesday's final round, snaring the title and a record contract. Underwood, a 22-year-old college senior, became the talk of her hometown of Checotah — and the choice of fourth-season “Idol” voters — as she delivered almost uniformly consistent performances each week. She couldn't compete with rock 'n' roller Bice on his style of music (“I'm not sure I'm loving the rocked-out Carrie,” judge Randy Jackson said after one attempt) but shone on her favourite genre, country. She cinched the victory with her performance Tuesday of Martina McBride's “Independence Day” and a soaring version of “Angels Brought Me Here.” Friends and family describe Underwood as a polite, quiet, small-town girl who is dedicated to music. On a show used to controversy, this season brought a doozy with ex-contestant Corey Clark's allegation of an affair with judge Paula Abdul, which she denies. American Idol, however, remained a ratings leader.




Mughal” Secures a U.S. major producer management deal with Clear Vision Management, Inc.

Source:  Shakedown Entertainment Group

(May 18, 2005) Canada’s own, Nadeem Mughal AKA “MUGHAL” CEO and producer of Shakedown Entertainment Group, has secured a U.S. major producer management deal with Clear Vision Management, Inc.  Andre Aarons, Head of Clear Vision, will be managing all music producer related affairs for MUGHAL.  Andre Aarons has worked with some of the biggest names in Urban Music, such as DMX, David Banner, Swizz Beatz, DaBand and more.  His most current major artist under direct management is rapper Yung Wun, with the J records imprint, Full Surface Records (A Swiss Beats Label). 

“I am really excited about the new management deal with Clear Vision Management and myself.  This deal will allow me to bring a new wave of sound into the market as its time for a major change.” – Statement by Mughal

Current Projects in the works are with Labels, The Inc Records, Sony BMG (NY), J Records, MBK Entertainment and More, soon to be announced upon completion of projects.  Keep updated on Mughal’s developments by logging on to for future updated info.




Ashanti And Irv Gotti Head To Jamaica For Dancehall Recording

Excerpt from

(May 19, 2005) Ashanti and her producer/manager Irv Gotti were in Jamaica earlier this week. Sources have informed this writer that Atlantic Records head honcho Craig Kallman was also in Jamaica, apparently working with Irv and Ashanti on a production.  "The possibility of Ashanti doing collaboration with Sean Paul is very strong right now.  Quite possibly it might be a dancehall song. But its something that the label (Atlantic) is looking at making happen," a source close to Sean Paul who requested anonymity told this writer. This is not the first time that Ashanti has been to Jamaica. A few years ago she performed on the annual reggae festival, Reggae Sumfest and Fully Loaded.




Chingy Talks New Album, His Label And New Single

Excerpt from - By Erin Whitlock

(May 16, 2005) Former Disturbing Tha Peace artist Chingy is preparing to drop his 3rd album and the self-proclaimed baller has tapped into his inner-hustler to create a new label.  “I'm grindin', I got my record label Slot-A-Lot, I got some artists,” Chingy told “I'm grindin' doing the same thing everybody else is doing, and I'm a make it god damn it.” His second release Powerballin' earned gold status, successfully avoiding the sophomoric curse. The rapper dismissed chatter that he wouldn’t last without the backing of DTP, the powerhouse label, helmed by the platinum plus rapper Ludacris. “When I got with Disturbing Tha Peace it wasn't even really about being so much connected with Disturbing Tha Peace,” he said. “I was my own man. I did what I did on my own. It wasn't about me being with them to sell no records or nothing like that.” Like so many before, Chingy is using his status to help put others on. Groups on his new label include close friends the Get It Boyz, the first act to be released on Slot-A-Lot, and Hood Stars.  Other acts on the label’s roster include his cousin Spiffy and little sister, Ziggy. Moving between the worlds of artists and label head, Chingy finds a way to balance both, while in the studio preparing for his next set of releases. “Actually I'm working on my third album and I'm about to drop this song called ‘All We Do Is This’ but it's not the single, I'm just gonna drop that and put it out there. Then I'm gonna drop the single after that, it's gonna come like in August or September. You'll be hearing from me though, in a hot second.”




Kanye West, 50 Cent, Fat Joe Lead Hip-Hop Nominations At BET Awards

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong

(May 16, 2005) Kanye West, 50 Cent and Fat Joe were nominated for multiple awards at the 5th Annual BET Awards, which is being hosted by husband and wife acting team Will and Jada-Pinkett Smith.  West was nominated for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, while his hit song “Jesus Walks” earned him Best Gospel Artist and Video of the Year nods.  50 Cent earned to nominations for Best Male Hip-Hop and Best Collaboration with former G-Unit cohort, The Game, who will also be on hand during the evening for a performance. Fat Joe and his Terror Squad gained multiple nods as well, as their massive hit “Lean Back” earned them Best Group and a nomination in the Viewers Choice category. R&B songstress Ciara earned four nominations, John Legend and Destiny’s Child earned three nominations each, while Omarion, Amerie and Fantasia earned two nominations a piece.  Stephen Hill, BET Executive Vice President for Music and Entertainment Programming, said the A list talent the awards show has assembled will make this year’s show one of the most memorable.  "Awards shows overall can be tough to keep fresh and creative,” Hill said. “But we've found a formula that not only attracts millions of viewers to BET, but also makes this an event that stars fully embrace and enjoy." Ludacris, Missy Elliot, Mariah Carey and Destiny’s Child will also give performances during the evening. The 5th Annual BET Awards will be broadcast live on June 28 from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre at 8 p.m. EST.




Twista Prepares For 'The Day After'

Excerpt from - By Erin Whitlock

(May 16, 2005) Chicago rapper Twista is preparing to release The Day After, the follow-up to his 2004’s major label debut, Kamikaze.  Marked with a September release date, the Grammy nominated rapper will offer fans 14 new tracks, complete with production by hit-makers Scott Storch, Timbaland, The Neptunes and Kanye West. The first single from the new album, “Girl Tonight,” is set to drop in July, produced by Miami duo The Usual Suspects, creators of the bass laden, rock-influenced Trick Daddy hit “Let’s Go.” Once only seen as the underground voice for the streets of Chicago, Twista catapulted his way onto the charts with Kamikaze after a years of legal wrangling delayed his major label release. The album moved over 2 million units and birthed #1 singles, "Slow Jamz" and "Overnight Celebrity," a top ten hit, "So Sexy,” and two Grammy Award nominations. He’s lended his trademark style on appearances with just about everyone in the business, including Ludacris, P. Diddy, Mariah Carey and is currently on the road as a featured performer with DUB Magazine’s Super Series Celebrity Car Show & Concert Tour. This week, he will be honoured by ASCAP with "The Most Played R & B Song in 2004" award for the hit "Slow Jams," his collaboration with Kanye West and actor Jamie Foxx.




Mixtape Awards Founder Justo Faison Dies In Car Accident

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong And Houston Williams

(May 14, 2005) Updated 5:13 pm-- Many within the Hip-Hop nation are shocked, saddened and even in denial about the death of Justo Faison. Tragically, Faison, the founder of the successful Mixtape Awards, was killed in a car crash sometime early morning Saturday (May 14).  Details remain vague, but sources confirmed with that Faison passed away in Virginia, while working doing promotions in the evening. According to some sources, Faison was departing Richmond and was extremely tired while driving to an undisclosed destination.  Faison founded the Mixtape Awards in 1996 and helped highlight and reward a previously unrecognized component of the music business - the mixtape.  "Justo was like a brother to me," DJ Kay Slay told "At one time he helped manage me for free. Justo was the only person we had standing up for the DJ's from the heart and he will be missed." At press time, a funeral fund, spearheaded by Kay Slay and Kid Capri, was already being erected for the pioneer. One source said it is time for the DJ's to return the favour to Justo. "The DJ's need to step up to the plate on this one. Justo gave his life to them." details of the fund were forthcoming. DJ Sickamore, like most, remained stunned at the sudden loss of Faison.  "Its terrible. I'm still kind of in shock. You can't really measure what Justo did for mixtapes," Sickamore said. "He really made a lot of mainstream outlets respect the mixtape grind and gave DJ's something to look forward to at the end of the year. Something just for us. I'll always respect that." Others like DJ Clue, DJ Kid Capri, 1st Lady El & DJ Lazy K of the Murda Mamis, Rah Digga, DJ Absolute DJ Butta Balled, DJ Ron G, DJ Whoo Kid, DJ Ace, DJ L-Gee, DJ Dub, Brandy Garcia of Power 93.3, Chris Landry of Sureshot Records, DJ Vlad, DJ Warrior and droves of others sent in their condolences. In March of this year, Faison released the DVD "Justo Presents: The Mixtape Documentary," which gives fan an inside look into the mixtape industry.  His forward thinking nature helped him excel in the competitive world of mixtapes.  "As a DJ striving to excel in the mixtape world, it is extremely disheartening to lose someone who truly elevated and legitimized the art form," mixtape DJ Mick Boogie of Cleveland said. "He will be missed."




RZA Talks 'Wu-Tang Manual,' Possible Follow Up

Excerpt from - By Mike Winslow

(May 20, 2005) Wu Tang Clan leader The RZA recently discussed his venture into the book world, with the release of his book "The Wu-Tang Manual."  The book is RZA’s first written work and contains his thoughts, a dictionary containing “Wu Slang,” a section devoted to an analysis of Wu Tang’s lyrics, never-before-seen photos of the group and other offerings.  RZA said he was pleased with the results of the first book and hinted that a follow-up was in the works.  “I can't tell you when the second part is coming out,” RZA said. “We're keeping that a secret for the moment." RZA, who is currently in the studio recording a new album with Method Man, said the response to the book was overwhelming. “I have little kids come up to me saying [The Wu-Tang Manual] changed their lives and perspectives on life,” RZA said. According to RZA, more people have shown up for his in-store booking signing than for album releases. “One girl came up to me and said she had bought ten copies of the book and gave it away to all her girlfriends to read,” RZA In related news, RZA and Busta Rhymes are overseeing the production of Raekwon’s highly anticipated release, Only Built For Cuban Linx 2.




DMX Back 'Again' With New Album

Excerpt from - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(May 20, 2005) Rapper DMX will return late next month with a new studio album, "Here We Go Again." Due June 28 via Ruff Ryders/Def Jam, the set is led by the single "Give Em What They Want," which recently premiered on AOL Music. A video for the cut was shot last week in Miami.  Although the track list for "Here We Go Again" is still under wraps, DMX has teamed with in-demand producer Scott Storch as well as longtime collaborators Swizz Beatz and P.K.  The set is the follow-up to 2003's "Grand Champ," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.15 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  Of late, DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) has been in the news as much for his brushes with the law as for his music. Last month, he was arrested after the car he was driving struck another vehicle on New York's Major Deegan Expressway, causing the second car to then hit an unmarked police cruiser.  In June 2004, he was taken into custody for driving his car into a gate at JFK Airport and telling the parking lot attendant he was a federal agent. He pleaded guilty in that case and received a conditional discharge, meaning that future violations could result in jail time.




DVD Chronicles Eminem's 'Anger' Tour

Excerpt from - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(May 20, 2005) Eminem's 2002 Anger Management tour is coming to DVD June 28 via Aftermath. In addition to performances of the requisite Eminem staples, the DVD will offer fans access to a free download of the uncut version of the artist's "Ass Like That" video.  Included are performances of "Stan," "The Way I Am," "Kill You," "Forget About Dre," "Don't Give a F***," "Sing for the Moment" and "White America," plus a mini-set with Eminem protégés D12 featuring "Pimp Like Me," "Fight Music" and "Purple Pills." The DVD also promises behind-the-scenes footage from the outing.  As previously reported, Eminem and 50 Cent are preparing to hit the road this summer on the Anger Management 3 tour, which begins July 7 outside Indianapolis. D12 will be along for the ride, as will Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, G-Unit, Obie Trice and Status Quo.




LaBelle Offers Up 'Classic Moments' On New CD

Excerpt from - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(May 20, 2005) Soul diva Patti LaBelle revisits a host of favourites on her upcoming album, "Classic Moments." Due June 21 via Def Soul Classics, the 13-track set is led by a duet with Mary J. Blige on Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way" and a cover of Elton John's "Your Song," a No. 8 Billboard pop hit upon its original release in 1970.  "Classic Moments" was produced by Babyface and Darryl Simmons. It also includes LaBelle's renditions of Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgetting," L.T.D.'s "Love Ballad" and a hidden track with Kristine W, "Land of the Living."  The album is the follow-up to LaBelle's 2004 Def Soul Classics debut, "Timeless Journey," which debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.  LaBelle will perform two shows with John in the weeks ahead: June 23 at the White Tie Ball in London and July 4 at John's previously announced Philadelphia Freedom concert.  The artist has a handful of other performances on tap through the fall, including an Aug. 20 stop at the Cincinnati Jazz Festival and a tentative tour of South America in late October and early November.




Anita On Tour

Excerpt from

(May 23, 2005) *It has been over twelve years since Anita Baker has gone on an actual tour (unless you count a smattering of 2002 shows).  Finally ready to give the people what they want, the original Songstress has put together a four-city trek in support of her September 2004 release “My Everything,” via Blue Note. Babyface will tag along as a featured guest for the tour, which so far has stops at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on June 25; the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan on July 16; Jones Beach in Wantagh, N.Y. on July 23 and Chicago’s United Center on July 30.




Omarion’s Throat

Excerpt from

(May 25, 2005) *Singer/actor Omarion, due to begin a co-headlining tour with Bow Wow on July 18, is undergoing throat surgery today and is seeking prayers from his fans to get through it. He told MTV: "I'll be taking a little downtime. You all pray for me so I can get back 100 percent. I will survive, but I do have to take the right precautions, because if I don't, then my throat could bleed and I could never sing again."




Heather Hunter Releases Solo Rap Album

Source: Zenobia Simmons, Zenobs Music Management,

(May 23, 2005)   Heather Hunter, the former, world famous, adult film star has always been a permanent fixture in hip hop culture. From her many appearances in rap videos with multiplatinum artist and iconic MCs to the rhyme references from today's biggest artist, and her guest appearances on remixes, Heather Hunter AKA Double H is ready to start another phase of her career ... as a rap superstar.  Already a legend and pioneer Heather is the first woman to combine the XXX adult industry with hip hop.  She's been down from the birth of hip hop working at Latin Quarters with Grand Master Flash, Afrikka Bambatta, DJ Kool Herc, Whodini and Big Daddy Kane. She has been out of the adult film industry for more than 13 years and during that time she has been working on a lot of new endeavours, including her solo rap album.   Her new album is a tribute to hip hop, "The Unexpected" features hip hop's finest producers and rappers.  Heather Hunter really made it happen pulling double duty as artist, executive producer and working with the hottest producers, Scott Storch, DJ Premier, Phantom of the Beat and A Freedom Lyles.  Heather Hunter AKA Double H's album also features guest appearances by Mister Cee, Akinelye The first single, "So Serious" is already creating serious street heat in New York City and has all the DJs talking!  Her debut album has songs for everybody from the serious hip hop fan to club bangers, smoothed out, rap songs, and of course, all delivered with a sexy, fun, unique, style that only Heather could create. To promote "So Serious" Heather has already filmed a video with some of the hottest dancers featuring Wyclef Jean and entertaining performance scenes.  Keep your eyes open for the crazy, Mixtape hosted by Mister Cee coming out this month. 





Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Kem, Album II, Motown
Maroon 5, Songs About Jane [Bonus Tracks], BMG International
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation: First London Invasion Tour 1987, Cornerstone
Raheem Devaughn, Love Experience, Jive
SHAGGY Clothes Drop (Universal)
The Jive Five, What Time Is It, Collectables

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Aaron Hall, Adults Only, Head Start Music GRP
Audioslave, Out of Exile, Interscope
Baby, Fast Money, Universal
Capone, Pain, Time and Glory, Fastlife
C-Murder, Truest **** I Ever Said [Chopped and Screwed], Koch
Collective Soul, From the Ground Up, El Music Group
Common, Be [Bonus DVD], Geffen
En Vogue, Hold On and Other Hits, Rhino Flashback
Jackson Browne, Running on Empty [Bonus Tracks], Rhino
J-Live, Hear After, Penalty (Ryko)
Lou Rawls, Very Best, Blue Note
Nikka Costa, Can'tneverdidnothin', Virgin
Pretty Ricky, Blue Stars, Atlantic
Queen Latifah, Hip-Hop Hits, Rhino Flashback
The Everly Brothers, Christmas With the Everly Brothers and the Boys To, Rhino Flashback
Various Artists, Funk Comes A-Live, Compendia
Various Artists, Motown Remixed, Motown
Various Artists, Motown Unmixed, Motown







NFB Film Gets Inside Unheralded African Mission

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Goddard, Toronto Star

(May 21, 2005) African warlords and their cold-blooded armies ultimately proved no match against two UN bureaucrats.  The eastern Congo was hovering on the verge of genocide. Gold and diamond traders were egging the Lendu people toward an all-out massacre of the Hema. But at the last moment in New York, Meg Carey and Jean-Marie Guéhenno saved the day with a manoeuvre captured on video by Montreal filmmaker Paul Cowan.  "Just email it to me," says Carey, deputy director for UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, hours after returning to headquarters from the crisis area. Her voice is measured but her face is tight. The phone keeps ringing. An assistant runs in.  "It's 11 pages," Carey says.  "He wants five."  "Tough shit," she says, laughing tensely, and in the next scene Guéhenno, undersecretary-general of peacekeeping operations, is shown running toward the Security Council chamber.  The sequence leads to the climax of The Peacekeepers, a National Film Board documentary to be screened publicly in Toronto on Thursday, and to be televised nationally next Sunday, UN Peacekeeping Day.  Filmmaker Cowan travelled four times to the remote eastern Congo to cover events there, but his greater achievement was to penetrate deepest, darkest UN headquarters, to capture behind-the-scenes action that prevented another Rwanda-style genocide.  Now the film is being added to training programs for peacekeepers in many countries, says Canada's UN Ambassador Allan Rock. And in Canada, a screening tour to five cities is being sponsored by the foreign affairs department.

"There is a lot of interest in the film here," the ambassador said by phone after hosting a recent New York screening attended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The Peacekeepers offers a chance, Rock also said, "to gain a greater insight into how the United Nations does its work."  As the film opens, a five-year civil war in eastern Congo has ended. More than three million people have died and a multilateral UN mission is monitoring a shaky ceasefire.  But the contingent is meagre. It numbers 4,500 lightly armed troops assigned to a vast jungle region, with no mandate to intervene if fighting erupts again, or to protect the civilian population.  In April, 2003, in Ituri province, the fighting reignites. What happens next sets Cowan's story in motion. Officials in New York know that if Bunia erupts in violence, the UN troops will be forced to withdraw, exposing the local population to slaughter and the UN to ridicule.  Haunting everybody is the 1993 genocide of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, in neighbouring Rwanda.  In the end, Guéhenno presents Carey's 11-page proposal to the Security Council and secures a multilateral force of 10,800 troops, with a mandate to protect civilians, intervene in fighting and shoot to kill when necessary.  A bloodbath is averted — a peacekeeping victory until now almost entirely unheralded outside the United Nations.

In some ways, the film is disappointing. Its story is poorly focused at times, and its narration is pompously intoned rather than spoken. But its footage is captivating.  "We're talking here of a conflict that has no fronts, where it's all irregular warfare and there is no real peace to keep," panellist John Cowan, principal of the Royal Military College, told a packed audience two weeks ago at RMC in Kingston, first stop on the national screening tour.  That's exactly why the UN shouldn't be there, said one distinguished audience member.  "(The eastern Congo) is the heart of darkness and will remain so well into the future," said retired Brig.-Gen. Christopher Kirby, a 40-year army veteran and former UN peacekeeper in Cyprus and Indochina. "To pour money into sinkholes I think is a mistake."  Similar complaints from member UN states, sometimes interpreted as indifference toward Africa, are taken seriously in the film.  "In peacekeeping, you are often confronted with a dilemma," undersecretary-general Guéhenno says in the documentary, "to look the other way and have to live for the rest of your life, with maybe the notion that, if you had really moved in, you would have made a big difference.  "Or to move in but maybe with the risk of failure."  One line in the film drew a laugh from the Kingston audience; Rock said people in New York laughed, too. "Could you speak to Canada today?" Meg Carey asks an assistant at one point. "Financial support would be helpful — although I don't think they have much money."  Rock said he approached Carey after the New York screening and was assured the comment was a joke to amuse the Canadian filmmakers, not a reflection of Canada's international reputation.  "I don't think we should be too sensitive about it," he said.

If Rock isn't, maybe nobody needs to be. One of his predecessors invented UN peacekeeping and his own father served in the first UN mission.  In 1956, when Britain, France and Israel stopped Egypt from seizing control of the Suez Canal, Canada's UN ambassador Lester Pearson proposed a UN force to "secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities."  Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize. A Canadian general, E.L.M. Burns, became commander of that first UN force and Allan Rock's father, a career soldier, also took part.  "He was there for about a year," the ambassador said, "part of the group responsible for getting materiel positioned for the force."  This past February, Rock embarked on a two-week mission to central Africa, travelling to Uganda, Burundi and several towns in eastern Congo, including Bunia.  No Canadian troops contribute to the UN force in Congo — it's mostly of Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Moroccans — but Rock said he was asked during the trip if Canada might command it.  Uncertainties remain in eastern Congo. In February, nine Bangladeshi UN troops were ambushed and killed in Ituri province. A week later, Pakistani UN troops killed about 50 rebel fighters, most of them ethnic Lendu.  Investigations are also ongoing into allegations of widespread sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, including sexual abuse of girls — in Bunia and elsewhere.  Genocide, however, continues to be averted.

The Peacekeepers screens 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park (south entrance). Admission is free. Call 1-800-542-2164 to reserve. The film also airs next Sunday at 10 p.m. on CBC Newsworld, with a repeat broadcast Sat. June 4 at 10 p.m.




The First Canadian At Cannes

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner

(May 21, 2005) Denys Arcand, David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan -- those are the filmmakers who come to mind when we think about Canadians who have taken work to the Cannes International Film Festival. But long before any of them had produced even their first short, there was a young man named David Secter, who made the first English-Canadian film ever selected at Cannes. In 1965, just 22 years old, Winnipeg-raised Secter was invited to screen his first feature, Winter Kept Us Warm, at Cannes's Critics Week. Secter had made the film as a student at the University of Toronto, on a budget of about $8,000. Taking its title from T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Winter was thematically ahead of its time, dealing discreetly with homosexuality. His achievement seems all the more remarkable when you consider that until then, Secter's experience in film was limited to an eight-minute short, Love with the Proper Guppy, shot in a day and a half on a budget of $31.88, including hamburgers for the cast and crew. On the strength of Winter, Secter wrote and directed a second feature the following year, The Offering. It was nominated in Canada for picture of the year and released commercially in the United States.

Inevitably, Hollywood made overtures. Secter signed with the powerful William Morris Agency, was under contract to produce and direct films, and seemed destined for great things. But then, just as suddenly as he emerged, the young prodigy disappeared. Spurning Hollywood and Canada, Secter moved to New York, founded a filmmaking commune on the Lower East Side, revelled in the flamboyantly sexual epoch of the seventies, and made underground films few people ever saw. So what happened? Why did a career that began with such promise seem to drift into self-indulgence and peter out? The answers to those questions are contained in The Best of Secter, the Rest of Secter, a new one-hour documentary (screening May 23 at Inside Out, the Toronto lesbian and gay film festival), produced and directed by his own nephew, first-time filmmaker Joel Secter. The younger Secter, 32, first stumbled upon his uncle's work as a teenager in Winnipeg. Renting a soft-core porn video for the amusement of his friends, he was astonished to discover that the movie, Feelin' Up, was written, directed and produced by his uncle David. A few years later, anxious to break into film himself, Joel moved to Los Angeles, where his uncle had resettled, to work as an apprentice producer on Cyberdorm, a comedy about a group of university students who create a website.

"I didn't see that production through," Secter recalled in a recent interview. "We ended up shutting down a day before principal photography. Our lead actors quit. The first AD [assistant director] quit. I had no experience making films, let alone a quarter-million-dollar feature. I was way over my head. So I left feeling like a failure, feeling like I had let David down." In part to make amends, he later embarked on a documentary of his own, one that would chronicle his uncle's remarkable life. Shot for a budget of about $250,000, much of it provided in donated services, The Best of Secter explores three distinct periods in David's life -- the young auteur in Toronto, making two ground-breaking features in consecutive years largely through force of will; his two decades in New York with Total Impact, the artsy commune that made a hard-core film, Blow Dry, to finance the soft-core Feelin' Up; and Secter's current life in Los Angeles, with his lover of 25 years, Patrick Montana. The documentary includes interviews with, among others, Cronenberg, who calls Winter Kept Us Warm "an incredible, shattering revelation" and formative filmmaking experience; composer Philip Glass, who says Secter didn't go Los Angeles "because he knew what was there and wanted something else;" and New Line Cinema founder Robert Shaye, who actually launched his independent film company in the same building that housed Total Impact. "So there were these two young guys, Secter and Shaye, both starting out at the same time in the same place," said Joel. The latter built a powerful independent film company; the former managed to stay true to his independent roots, but never really claimed the mainstream success he once seemed destined to enjoy. Ultimately, Secter lets viewers form their own conclusions about the 40-year arc of his uncle's career. And he gives the last word to David himself. "In his own eyes, David Secter sees himself as a success. He's only disappointed insofar as it's difficult for him to make films. But it's difficult for everyone."

"Always a shameless self-promoter," according to Joel, "David was thrilled that I wanted to invest my time energy and money on this project. That said, the first I thing I did was have him sign away editorial control. I did let him see a rough cut though, and not surprisingly, he had several very good suggestions."




Mike Epps On Playing Pryor In New Biopic

Excerpt from

(May 23, 2005) *Comic workhorse Mike Epps, who stars as Ralph Kramden’s bumbling best friend Ed Norton in the upcoming African-American remake of “The Honeymooners,” had a real life Nortonesque moment Saturday night when he felt hung out to dry by the organizers of an Alicia Keys/Isley Bros concert in Los Angeles. “They told me to introduce the Isley Bros, so I introduced the Isley Bros,” Epps told us Sunday in Los Angeles. “Then they said, ‘Go out and do 20 minutes.’ Twenty minutes. Okay, now I got a 20 minute set. Boom, I’m doing 20 minutes, everybody’s laughing. I done re-arranged my whole set because I’m only thinking I’m doing 20 minutes.  Now we all know how [concerts] can be sometimes – a little disorganized. You got bands, everybody gotta get in place and get ready.  Well they wasn’t ready.  Twenty minutes done went past, I’m looking for a light…no light. I’m like, damn. So I go on, and on, and on.” Epps said the organizers had also told him to keep his set clean because Keys attracts a PG crowd. “I’m trying to be clean, I tell a couple jokes. ‘Ehhhhhhh.’  [He feigns a luke warm audience response.] I said, ‘Aw, okay.’ This is one of these situations right here where I gotta bend the rules.  I’m either gonna go for it and make it happen, or I’ma sit here and lose. I might as well go for it. I just started cursing.  And there they go -  ‘Ahhhhh! Haaaaa! Haaaaa!’  I was looking and I was like, ‘Damn, there’s some kids in the audience.’ And I was like, ‘F*** the kids!’ The whole crowd, ‘Ahhhhh! Haaaaa! Haaaaa!’ I was like, ‘These lil mother f***ers be bringing guns to school and s***! I know they done heard this s*** before.’

“Now, I got ‘em. They laughing at every thing I say.  I look up, 40 minutes done went past.  The [organizers] done jerked me out of 20 extra minutes. They only paid for 20.”  Such is the life of an actor-slash-standup comic paying dues until the big breakthrough role comes along. Even with a number of memorable roles on his resume, (“Next Friday,” “All About the Benjamins,” “The Fighting Temptations”), Hollywood just hasn’t given the Indianapolis-born comedian a juicy role to really show folks what he’s made of. Until now. Epps has just been cast to play Richard Pryor in a feature film on the comedian’s life. Executive-produced by Pryor and his wife Jennifer Lee Pryor via their Indigo Productions banner, the film will follow Pryor’s early childhood growing up in a whorehouse, his journey from standup comic to Hollywood stardom, and the crack-cocaine road blocks that nearly took his life along the way.  Epps looks upon the role as a spiritual undertaking, much like Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles in Universal’s “Ray.”  “That [portrayal] was something sent from somewhere else because Jamie had been kicking it with Ray, and hanging with him, and playing the piano. And then Ray passed and then Jamie went on to do the movie. But Richard Pryor is a fighter, he’s probably gonna be here for the next 20 years. When I go see him, he looks at me like, ‘Man, I ain’t going nowhere. I’m coming to see the movie and it better be right.’” Jennifer Lee Pryor first met Epps when he turned down the role of Richard Pryor in a planned Showtime biopic entitled “Pryor Offenses.” The script – in Epps’ opinion – was corny.  After meeting face to face with the comedian to inquire about his arrogance in declining the role, Mrs. Pryor was impressed with Epps explanation and respect for her husband – a reverence that saw right through Showtime’s inadequate script. Mrs. Pryor remembered him when it was time to cast their new biopic and invited the comedian to their house to meet the master.

“Richard’s in a situation where he can’t talk, and I made him laugh,” Epps said with pride. “I done caught him giving me a smile, and his wife said, ‘Don’t none of them guys do that to him. He must like you.’” When Epps got the call that he was cast in the film, the actor said he suffered severe anxiety.   “I got so anxious that I started having hiccups for three days, they just wouldn’t stop,” he said. “My diaphragm shifted or something. I had to go get acupuncture and all kinds of s*** to calm down. Every comedian in Hollywood was trying to get that part. And to be honest with you, the reason why I think I got it – and it’s not to sound arrogant – was because I was not trying. I was like, ‘S*** man, I got my own damn problems. But that alone is just fear, because this is Richard Pryor man, it’s like wow. I gotta really break it down and dissect it and make sure that I’m representing him right.” Walter Hill, who directed Pryor in “Brewster’s Millions,” will helm the new biopic, which will also encompass the Peoria, Illinois-born comedian’s spiritual journey to Africa and his 1986 Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. On paper, it seems as if Epps was born to play Richard Pryor.  “I used to be a crackhead,” he said, in all seriousness. “I smoked some crack, I don’t know my daddy that good. I’m from the Midwest, I got nine brothers and one sister and we all got different daddies. My mama had us living in a one bedroom apartment – seven kids with hoes and dope dealers outside. I went through some torture, you know what I’m saying? So it was like I understood him.  I wasn’t looking from the outside on his life like, ‘Damn, I would love to play those experiences.’ It was more like, ‘Man, I done been through that s***. Not completely all of it, but I went through some things that he didn’t go through. He ain’t laid in the penitentiary. I laid in the penitentiary before. But, I didn’t grow up in a whorehouse.  See what I’m sayin’? But all of it is trials and tribulations. That’s why I feel honoured; that’s why I know that I can represent him right. He was like a real guy, a real person, inside Hollywood.  That’s why the people felt him so much.”   Ice Cube was really feeling Epps’ sense of humour years ago when he caught the comedian’s set at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and cast him in the comedy “Next Friday.” He went on to star in “3 Strikes,” “Bait” with Jamie Foxx for director Antoine Fuqua, and the weed comedy “How High” starring Method Man and Redman, steadily building a presence in Hollywood, while continuing to kill on the comedy circuit.

His next two projects before the Pryor jackpot are “Roll Bounce,” which stars Bow Wow in a coming-of-age comedy set in the world of 1970s roller-skate jams, and “42.4 Percent,” about a professional black woman who starts dating a white working-class man in her determination to get married.  But in the meantime, there’s “The Honeymooners,” due in theatres June 10 with Ced the Entertainer in the Ralph Kramden role made iconic by Jackie Gleason in the original 50s TV series.  Younger audiences won’t have Gleason’s co-star Art Carney in their brains doing battle with Epps’ take on Ed Norton, but it’s those very people who the comedian is hoping to lure into theatres. “This was a white sitcom that they now want two brothers to remake in a movie style,” Epps said, reflecting on being pitched to make the film. “I said, ‘Well, I’m already black, I can do my version of it, all due respect to Art Carney. His was hilarious. When I watched it man, it cracked me up.  To this day, I still watch it, and the filming of the movie is over. I picked up a few of his antics – ‘Hey Ralphie boy,’” he says in his best Carney imitation. “But I had to remain myself because there are some kids out there who don’t know nothing about “The Honeymooners” that we depending on to come and see this movie.  It’s PG-13, so babies and grandmas, granddaddies, uncles and aunties an’ all them gotta come see it.”




South Africa Meets Hollywood North

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(May 24, 2005) For as long as anyone in the film and TV industry can remember, Britain and France have been this country's best co-producing partners. Today, that's still the case in terms of overall co-production volume. But due to many factors (the chummy -- read, exclusive -- European Union and a major tightening of British tax shelters), cinematic relations between Canada and those countries has taken on a distinct chill. Recently, a new partner has stepped in to fill the void: South Africa, described by the folks who shoot there as a cinematographer's dream because of its varied topography, fabulous light and eternal summer. In the last 18 months, Canadians have teamed up with South Africa to produce several high-profile series for TV, including CBC's Gemini-winning Human Cargo, CHUM's sci-fi thriller Charlie Jade and the recent CBC doctor drama Whiskey Echo. More productions are in the works, including a feature film on retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire's experiences in Rwanda, by Barna-Alper Productions and Michael Donovan; another feature film from Barna-Alper called The Bang Bang Club (about the photo-journalists who recorded the rash of murders immediately following Nelson Mandela's release from prison); and a big-budget CBC medical drama called Jozi-H, set in Johannesburg's Public Hospital, from Inner City Films. The reason for the sea change in co-production is elementary, says Laszlo Barna of Barna-Alper in Toronto. "South Africa wants the business. The weather and the crews there are great. And the European Common Market has knocked us out. "I believe we've gone from being the second most important partner with France to number eight," Barna adds. "And tax loss changes in England have made us, in very many ways, persona non grata. That has put huge pressure on us to find new countries to work with. Our subsidy dollars haven't grown in years, and if they have, they've grown only marginally." Barna-Alper's Whiskey Echo, co-produced with Ireland and with some financial help from South Africa, was a "joy" to make, Barna says.

"I have to tell you, co-producing with a country that's our size was so fantastic. For once I wasn't getting the coffee." In the case of Whiskey Echo, which starred Joanne Kelly, Callum Keith Rennie and David Alpay, South Africa provided the location and the local talent. "Really the whole country was open to us," says Barna of what was his first experience working in that country. "It was an extraordinarily good experience. I was apprehensive and now I can't wait to go back for the Roméo Dallaire project." Others share his enthusiasm. Veteran TV producer Alyson Feltes (The Associates, Traders) is heading down in a few months to start production on Jozi-H. She's already been there three times scouting it out, and getting a feel for her co-producing partners, Johannesburg-based Morula Pictures. She says she's confident the end result will be a win-win for all parties. "South Africa has really good crews, it's a beautiful place, it's relatively cost efficient and we speak the same language," says Feltes, who is executive producer on the series, working with Toronto's Inner City Films. "Frankly, the only thing I'm nervous about is learning how to drive on the other side of the road." A recent report from Telefilm Canada showed Canadian participation in international co-productions has plummeted by roughly 50 per cent over the past few years. Canada co-produced just 60 titles in 2004, down 40 per cent from 2000, says Danny Chalifour, Telefilm's director of international operations and development. During the same period, production budgets slumped 59 per cent, to $367-million. TV has been hit the hardest. Only 45 shows were done in 2004, down 40 per cent from 2000, while budgets slid 73 per cent to $173-million in 2004. Spending on feature films dropped some 23 per cent in the same time frame. Like Barna, Chalifour blamed changes to Britain's sale-and-leaseback program as well as the increasingly tightly knit production community of the European Union. While the U.K. and France remain Canada's most active co-producing partners, the numbers are slipping. According to Telefilm, the budgets of French-language co-pros dropped 77 per cent from 2001 to 2004, while the number of shoots fell 55 per cent.

British-partnered features fell more than half since the sale-and-leaseback changes, to just 12 films worth $192-million in 2004. Amos Adetuyi, co-partner with his brother Alfons in Inner City Films, did his first South African shoot in 1997, called Ekhaya, A Family Chronicle, which aired on CBC-TV. "Ever since, we've been looking for the next authentic story to come out of South Africa," says Adetuyi. "When Jozi-H came around, we said, 'Hey, this is it. A medical drama with a twist. We call it ER on crack." (Jozi-H, in case you aren't aware, is the hip new phrase for Johannesburg.) The 13-episode series will cost more than $1-million per episode. South Africa's government, Adetuyi adds, offers government tax incentives similar to those available through Telefilm and the Canadian Television Fund, only theirs are called the Industrial Development Corp. (IDC) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). For Adetuyi and his brother, the motivation to shoot in South Africa is simple: "The language is there. The weather is there. You can practically shoot year-round, although there is a bit of a cold spell in June or July. There is no rainy season. Admittedly, though, it's not as cheap to shoot there as it was three or four years ago. "It used to be 10-to-1, or 8-to-1. Now the rand to the dollar is probably closer to 5-to-1." And, thankfully, the crime is slowing. "Seven years ago, Jo-Burg was literally the murder capital of the world," he adds. "Whereas now some American cities have taken that title back." Jozi-H is slated to air in January, 2006.

Diane Boehme, senior director of independent production for CHUM, says Charlie Jade, a 21-episode series now airing on Space, could not have been shot anywhere but South Africa. "South Africa is a distinct character in the series," she explains. "It's Cape Town for Cape Town. And there are benefits to shooting in and around that city, with its mountains, desert, oceans and huge urban landscape." Boehme agrees, however, that it's no longer as cheap. "It started out as a co-production five years ago, and there have been hiccups because of currency fluctuations and, well, costs have gone up everywhere. "But it was a very good, healthy collaboration," she adds. "I wouldn't hesitate to go back. . . . And we're trying to get a second season off the ground now. If South Africa is financially expedient, it will be our first choice because it has an exotic quality you would not otherwise see." Barna, who spent two months shooting Whiskey Echo in South Africa last summer, said the highlight was the people. "We were shooting on a game farm just outside Jo-Burg. When it got cold, I'd jump into one of the transport vehicles and chat up the drivers who were all from Soweto. It was like an entry into a history I had observed from a distance, and the door opened into lives that I had never imagined I'd be privileged enough to hear about." He pauses. "And then the lion attacked and bit me," he says. "No, I'm kidding."




Screening Room - The World

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(May 21, 2005) Here's a sign of hope for those convinced that movies are being blockbustered into oblivion: The World, Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhanke's extraordinary film about displaced youth on the outskirts of contemporary Beijing, has been holding its own for weeks now at the Carlton Cinemas.  Set almost entirely in a bizarre but visually arresting miniature theme park called The World (where one can visit an ersatz version of the world without ever going anywhere), the movie contrasts the digital-era alienation of its youthful protagonists — who work in various capacities at the park — with the meticulous phoniness of the attraction itself.  At the centre of the movie is the drama of young, post-Mao Chinese adrift in the synthetic flow of the 21st century. On the surface they seem to have everything — cell phones, message texts, music, TV — but closer examination reveals something else: their "world" is ultimately as disposable, fake and futureless as the park itself.




Revenge Of The Sith Slays Opening-Night Records

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(May 21, 2005) Los Angeles -- Moviegoers flocked to the dark side in droves, giving the final instalment of George Lucas's Star Wars tale a record-breaking midnight run. Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith raked in an estimated $16.5-million (U.S.) from 2,900 midnight screenings Thursday. That's double what the Oscar-winning film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King took in during its midnight showings in 2003.  Tickets for Revenge of the Sith went on sale last month. Soon after, legions of fans began lining up at theatres. The final chapter in Lucas's six-film saga chronicles Anakin Skywalker's transformation from hero to villain Darth Vader. AP




Freeman Schools Industry On Piracy

Excerpt from

(May 20, 2005) *Morgan Freeman fired a warning shot against the threat of downloaders and file sharers who are using the latest software and high-speed broadband connections to procure feature films illegally. In town for the annual Cannes Film Festival, the actor’s company Revelations Entertainment and chip maker Intel Corporation have transformed a hotel suite into a "virtual digital home" to demonstrate to industry hotshots the potential of new technology.  While digital technology can allow a film to be downloaded to a PC and played in different rooms throughout the house via an integrated system, it can also facilitate file sharing, which has already snatched a huge chunk of change from the music industry.  "One of the things that is terrifying the industry about digital content is that once it gets into the home, what happens to it?" Freeman told Reuters in an interview late Wednesday. "Some government entities say that if it's on the Internet and accessible, then how can we call it piracy?" Intel’s Kevin Corbett said that a proposed electronic key system would deny access to unauthorized users, but it would also give viewers the opportunity to pay for the film and watch it legally. "This technology can help us to stop the same chaos (as in the music industry)," Freeman said. "It is too late when the public is two or three steps ahead of you, and then you are playing catch-up."




Harper Lee Makes Rare Public Appearance

Source:  Associated Press

(May 22, 2005) Los Angeles — Harper Lee, who has been dodging publicity for decades since she published her only book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” made a rare step into the limelight to be honoured by the Los Angeles Public Library. Lee, 79, stopped giving interviews a few years after she won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1960 coming-of-age book exploring racial prejudice in the South. She has turned down most request for appearances. But she couldn't refuse an invitation from Veronique Peck, the widow of actor Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his starring role as lawyer Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of the book and became a lifelong friend with Ms. Lee. “Mockingbird” co-star Brock Peters, who played the black man falsely accused of rape in the film, presented the award to Lee.

After Veronique Peck whispered in her ear, Ms. Lee gave her only remarks of the evening: “I'll say it again. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.” Veronique Peck said Ms. Lee is “like a national treasure.” “She's someone who has made a difference with this book,” she said. “All the kids in the United States read this book and see the film in the seventh and eighth grades and write papers and essays. My husband used to get thousands and thousands of letters from teachers who would send them to him.” She said Atticus Finch was her husband's “favourite role, and he felt that in his professional life, it was probably the best performance he ever gave.” The awards dinner Thursday drew more than 600 supporters and raised $700,000 for computers, computer training and literacy programs.







Justin Louis Is Fired Up On Trump Biopic

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(May 23, 2005) He never does get to say, "You're hired!" Although he's heard it often enough.  With James Brown cutting back on his touring schedule, Justin Louis can now take his rightful place as the "hardest working man in show business."  Certainly, up to this point — with nine TV series to his credit ("Still four short of the George Clooney record!"), there were several years where it wasn't pilot season without at least one new Justin Louis show on the air.  And if few of those shows (though produced by the likes of John Wells and Gary David Goldberg) lasted more than a season, well, frankly, it's a miracle any show ever gets on the air at all. Let alone stays, given the current competitive climate.  The important thing is they keep making them. And that they keep casting Justin Louis.  Although now they're going to have to come up here to get him. Fed up with L.A., the Toronto-born actor has moved back home, to be closer to his kids, and to join the cast of the homegrown Missing as FBI guy John Pollock.  And soon, as things turned out, to take on the role of a lifetime — someone else's lifetime — Donald Trump.  The Toronto-shot biopic, Trump Unauthorized, airs tomorrow night at 9 on ABC and Citytv, with Louis indelibly portraying the egomaniac mogul from his earliest success as a pushy kid working for his dad, right up to the fateful pitch meeting with Mark Burnett that would lead to The Apprentice.  And, in between, erecting several large, ornate buildings, the failure of two public marriages, triumph and tragedy, rise and fall and rise again ...

It's a hell of a story. "His is a very strange, very unique kind of celebrity," suggests his actor alter ego. "We only know him from The Apprentice, really. I mean, I knew nothing about him at all."  Except that he was pretty sure they had nothing in common. "I'm a kid from the Jane-Finch Corridor," Louis shrugs. "What do I know about billion-dollar real estate?"  Nonetheless, he won the coveted role over hundreds of hopefuls. Even then, he wasn't sure why. "Personally, I didn't see (a resemblance). But then, I never saw it in the context of an impression. Once it got down to essence, and I understood that that's what it was, then it kind of became exciting for me.  "I'm a character actor. That's what I do. And this guy is nothing if not a character."  Louis delivers an uncanny evocation — all attitude, gesture and inflection, with some judicious deployment of the trademark pout, topped off by that infamous comb-over — all with only five days' preparation, much if it based on a recent A&E profile.  But Louis also credits the script (from the biographies by Gwenda Blair), and the director (episodic veteran John David Coles), and the virtually all-Canadian cast — among them Saul Rubinek, playing an amalgam of Trump associates, a Canadian actor with even more American credits than Louis ... although, incredibly, never before on the same project together.  "We had a ball doing this. An absolute blast."  THE 25th HOUR: Okay, Kiefer Sutherland, you've just saved the continental United States from certain doom at the hands of terrorists for the fourth time in as many years. What are you gonna do now?  Well, he's not going to Disneyland.  As the much-anticipated two-hour finale of 24 unspools tonight (8 p.m. on Fox and CH), its Toronto-raised star is back here at home, in the first weeks of shooting a new feature, The Sentinel, in which he portrays another kind of spy, a Secret Service agent of "questionable loyalties," opposite Michael Douglas and Kim Basinger.

He'll take time out on June 5 to accept a star on Canada's Walk of Fame, following in the footsteps of his father, Donald, in 2000, and his mom, Shirley Douglas, last year.  Then again, look at how much Jack Bauer manages to get accomplished in a single day.  Fox has just announced an unprecedented two-season pick-up for 24, with Jack's next Very Bad Day set to commence in January of 2006.  Prior to that, the Monday-night slot will be held by the similarly serialized Prison Break, produced and directed by Brett (Rush Hour) Ratner.  The first of the new season previews to cross my desk, I've already got it pegged as an early favourite.  It is a riveting series take on the classic bust-out thriller, a kind of Redemption of the Great Escape from Alcatraz, if you will.




Canadian Was The Voice Of Fred Flintstone

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(May 22, 2005) LOS ANGELES (AP)—Henry Corden, the voice of leopard-suited caveman Fred Flintstone's "yabba dabba doo!" for more than two decades, has died. The Montreal-born actor was 85.  Corden died of emphysema Thursday night at AMI Encino Hospital, his long-time agent Don Pitts said. Corden's wife of nine years, Angelina, was with him at the time.  Corden moved to New York as a child and came to Hollywood in the 1940s.  His first acting role was in the 1947 Boris Karloff film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Known for playing villains, he found small parts in movies, including 1952's The Black Castle and The Ten Commandments in 1956.  "As Henry said, he always played the cold-blooded creeps," Pitts said.  Corden moved into voice acting in the 1960s, and deployed his dialect skills in bit parts for Hanna-Barbera cartoons including Johnny Quest, Josey and the Pussycats and The New Tom & Jerry Show.  He took over as the lovable loudmouth Fred Flintstone when original voice Allen Reed died in 1977. Reed had been doing Flintstone since the character was created around 1960.  The cartoon's marriage themes echoed those of The Honeymooners, and Corden tweaked his role to approximate Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character, Pitts said.  Corden, who lived in Encino, had been working until his health suffered about three months ago. He can most recently be heard on ubiquitous cereal commercials yelling "Barney, my Pebbles!"  He left a wife and five children.







All The World's His Stage

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(May 22, 2005) When the Stratford Festival's hippie-era production of As You Like It opens next month, everyone will be listening for the debut of a new songwriting duo: Steven Page and William Shakespeare.  It may seem strange at first to match the driving force behind the Barenaked Ladies with the Bard of Avon, but elation and depression, light and darkness, hope and despair are as much a part of Steven Page as they are of As You Like It.  You'd never guess it from the way he walks into a neighbourhood tavern near the Riverdale home he shares with his wife Carolyn Ricketts and their three sons. He's instantly likeable, with a great smile and eyes that engage you behind his trademark glasses. He seems thinner than he has been at many points in his career and radiates a kind of quiet calm as he sits back and sips at a pint of Guinness.  When he stops to think about it, the fact that he's writing music in the style of "the Summer of Love" of 1967 makes perfect sense to him, because those are some of the first sounds he ever heard.  He was born in Scarborough on June 22, 1970, to teachers Joanne Simmons and Victor Page. "They were always playing records like Abbey Road," Page recalls. "Blood, Sweat and Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell — that's the soundtrack of my youth."  Page began his own songwriting career at the age of 5 with a song he wrote to help promote a Popsicle stand he and some kids were running. "We got orange, chocolate and fruit," he starts in a tuneful voice. Then he stops and grins. "That's all there was, but we kept singing it over and over. You need a good hook and populist roots; I discovered that early."  Though he took the obligatory piano lessons and sang in choirs from the age of 12 on, he looks down shyly as he confesses, "I always dreamed of being a performer, but I never thought I was good enough."

He went to the Claude Watson School for the Arts in North York in Grade 11, but "switching schools ultimately wasn't a good idea and I wasn't happy there. The kids were all more showbizzy than me. I wanted to learn about (playwright Henrik) Ibsen, but I'd go out in the hall and everybody was talking about shooting McDonald's commercials."  After a year, Page went back to Birchmount Collegiate in Scarborough, but found compensation in a singing group he formed with Geoff Pounsett. "We called ourselves Scary Movie Breakfast and we sang acoustic stuff. Very silly, very folk influenced, with a wicked sense of humour.  "Then Geoff went off to Queen's (University) and I didn't have a band anymore. I was at loose ends. Not a happy time. It took me years to learn that it's not good for me to sit around doing nothing. That's when I can start to get really depressed."  Fate intervened at a Scarborough summer music camp he attended. "I was walking around there one day and heard this guy singing some songs Geoff and I had written."  It turned out to be Ed Robertson, whose band had just broken up as well. The two hit it off immediately. "We enjoyed singing together. We enjoyed making each other laugh. It was as simple as that."  One night, they had a life-changing, career-starting moment. "We were sitting at a Bob Dylan concert during that incredible, unintelligible period of his life with (Saturday Night Live musician) GE Smith as his band leader. They were five minutes into a song and it was so boring that I didn't realize it was `Subterranean Homesick Blues.' To keep awake, Ed and I started dreaming up plans for a group of our own."  And they christened themselves the Barenaked Ladies.  Where did the name come from? Page shrugs. "It's what we used to say when we were 6. Now we were 18 and it reminded us of being young again."  Their embryonic group was forced into action sooner than planned when Robertson got reminded of a commitment he made with his previous band to appear at a food bank benefit on Oct. 1, 1988.  "Ed called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it. I said, `Why not?' and so we met up at Nathan Phillips Square ... which proved to be ironic in light of what happened later," he says, referring to the brouhaha that ensued four years later when then mayor June Rowlands refused to let the group play in the square, insisting that their name was sexist. "I remember we went behind the shed where they rent skates and stuff, rehearsed a few songs and went on. The people loved us, so we decided we'd better stick together."

The two guys played comedy clubs and opened for Corky and the Juice Pigs. Then in 1989, two buddies from music camp, the Creeggan brothers (Andy and Jim), joined up, followed a few months later by drummer Tyler Stewart, and the real era of the Barenaked Ladies began.  They funded their own five-song cassette called The Yellow Tape and waited for the phones to start ringing.  "We thought we would be big," remembers Page. "We were so naïve. We thought we'd make this tape and all the record companies would want to sign us. We sent it off to all of them and we'd get, `No thanks.'"  Then something amazing happened. Thanks largely to the underground success of "Be My Yoko Ono," that unwanted cassette of theirs suddenly became very popular, so popular it wound up being the only independent release ever to go platinum in Canada.  The record companies lined up and the juggernaut started. Their 1992 album Gordon took Canada by storm, selling 800,000 copies and staying in the national Top 10 for 10 months. "If I Had a Million Dollars" wasn't just their hit song, it was becoming their reality.  But in the middle of all this, Page found himself dealing with a debilitating attack of depression. "The mid-'90s were really horrendous for me," he confides softly. "Right after our biggest success was when I felt low. Really low. Seriously, not even getting out of bed."  So the lyric he wrote for "Brian Wilson" wasn't just a tribute to the screwed-up rock star, but a piece of autobiography: "Lying in bed/ Just like Brian Wilson did .../ Call it compulsive,/ Call it insane,/ But when I'm surrounded,/ I just can't stop."  Page takes a sip of his Guinness before continuing. "I've always had issues with ups and downs, but that was the worst time for me. I was at my most successful and I never felt more hated. You see, at the height of success, you feel people's anger, jealousy, judgment. If you're just in the middle of the pack, you can blend right in."  Although Page has penned songs about the depressed periods in his life, the creative impulse always happens after they're over.

"I can't write when I'm at my darkest. What do I do? I listen to music. I immerse myself in music. That's what `Brian Wilson' is about. There are times when consuming art can energize me, give me perspective and pull me out of myself."  Page got through that particular bout of depression and the band went on to greater heights, cracking the lucrative U.S. market. To date, they've sold more than 10 million albums.  And yet Page has a somewhat melancholy view of their future. "We've had our time and I don't suspect we're going to have it again. I don't feel we're washed up, we'll go on making music for our fans, but in the Top 40 world, we're done. Rock 'n' roll right now is a 20-year-old's business. It's all about youth."  That's one reason why he leapt at the opportunity when director Antoni Cimolino asked him to write the music for his Stratford production of As You Like It, which is now in previews and officially opens June 4.  "I always used to go to Stratford with my parents," says Page. "I remember seeing Richard II with Brian Bedford and being blown away by it. The seriousness of that always stuck in my mind."  Another production he vividly remembers is Romeo and Juliet, starring Megan Follows and ... Antoni Cimolino.  Cimolino, who is also executive director of the Stratford Festival, explains why he turned to Page and the Barenaked Ladies, who recorded the music. "I didn't merely want a clever send-up of the period. What I wanted instead was a group with their own voice that would speak to people today and would interpret the feelings of the 1960s for them. All of their songs are built around the word and storytelling, which is why they're such a perfect match for Shakespeare."  The fact that this particular version of As You Like It, which deals with people dropping out of society to escape an oppressive political regime, is set in the late 1960s proved a two-edged sword for Page. "For a while, I wished I had grown up in the 1960s — the cool clothes and the cool music. But by the time I got into my 20s, I was sick of it all. The revolutionary '60s and the disillusioned '70s became a way to glamorize the selfish '80s, and I didn't want any part of it."  Years later, Page says he can now distance himself and view the '60s period anew. "When I watch As You Like It and they start talking about the classless society, I get choked up. The possibility of trying to build a better world that drove the '60s is what drives As You Like It, and that's what Antoni has tried to tap into."

And as for his latest collaborator, Will Shakespeare, Page can only say "to write music around those really amazing lyrics is such a joy."  Asked to sum himself up, Page says, "I have lots of ambitions, but I think I'm a happy man. Sure, I still have a dark cloud around me sometimes, but I have a really good life. I wouldn't trade anything for it."  The winter wind may have blown through Steven Page's past, but his life today — as Shakespeare would have said — is most jolly.




Feore Expected In Three Stratford Plays

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(May 24, 2005) Maybe he'll bring Denzel with him. The Star had learned Colm Feore will, in all likelihood, appear in three shows at next season's Stratford Festival.  The 46-year-old Windsor native is currently enjoying excellent reviews for his performance as Cassius opposite Denzel Washington's Brutus in the Broadway revival of Julius Caesar.  The major news is that Feore, whose last Stratford appearance was as Henry Higgins in the smash 2002 production of My Fair Lady, will be headlining the 2006 big-ticket musical at the Festival Theatre.  The show in question is the ever-popular Oliver! and Feore will be playing the villainous Fagin.  Another interesting factor about the show is that it will mark the Stratford directing debut of Donna Feore, the actor's wife, who has already carved out a substantial reputation for herself as a choreographer, not only at Stratford and with the Canadian Opera Company, but for feature films such as Mean Girls.  Ms. Feore will be making her Toronto directing debut this August with the concert version of Annie Get Your Gun at Massey Hall, starring Louise Pitre and Paul Brandt.  Oliver! is based, of course, on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. It was adapted into a musical in 1960 by British songwriter Lionel Bart and became one of the biggest hits of its time in London Theatre, running for 2068 performances.  The North American version opened in Los Angeles in 1962 and toured extensively before hitting Broadway in January of 1963. One of its tryout stops was the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto, where Barry ("Dame Edna") Humphries had to appear as Fagin for several performances in place of the ailing Clive Revill.  It later became a highly successful motion picture in 1968, directed by Carol Reed and went on to be nominated for 11 Oscars, winning 5, including Best Picture.  Cameron Mackintosh produced a major 1994 revival in London, radically redirected by Sam Mendes. It eventually appeared here at the Princess of Wales Theatre as part of the Mirvish season in 1999 — its last major local appearance.

In addition to his musical stint, it also looks like Feore will be playing the title role in two major classical productions  The first is as the egomaniacal Roman military hero in Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which will be staged by Stratford's executive director, Antoni Cimolino.  The play isn't presented very often, but when it is, this demanding role attracts actors of the highest calibre. The three previous Festival productions were in 1961 (Paul Scofield), 1981 (Len Cariou) and 1997 (Tom McCamus).  Feore is expected to complete his hat trick next season by appearing as Don Juan in Molière's play of the same name.  This is another lesser-known work by a famous author. It was only presented once during the author's lifetime and then withdrawn because of its "scandalous" treatment of sex and religion.  There are actually no performances of it on record from the initial one in 1665 until 1841!  Since then, it has become a favourite in Europe and some of the world's greatest directors (Meyerhold, Brecht, Bergman) have presented their visions of it.  It has proved far less popular in North America, possibly due to the difficulty of finding someone who can grasp its various tragic-comedic levels.  Reports from Stratford indicate Lorraine Pintal, the highly acclaimed artistic director of Montreal's Theatre de Nouveau Monde will be staging the work at next year's Festival, which definitely sounds like the right choice.  Feore's return comes at an interesting time, because it is probably in 2006 when the final choice will be made regarding a successor to current artistic director Richard Monette, who leaves after the 2007 season.  And while Feore has denied he has any interest in the job, his presence at Stratford next year will certainly make him a strategic force to be dealt with when various candidates are lobbying for position.  Let's hope the onstage drama will prove as interesting as what's likely to be happening in the wings.







Sheila Johnson Becomes WNBA’s First Black, Female Owner

Excerpt from

(May 25, 2005) *Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television with her ex-husband Robert Johnson, made history Tuesday when she took control of the Washington Mystics to become the WNBA’s first African-American female owner. Johnson joined Ted Leonsis, owner of the NHL's Washington Capitals, in the business deal. Johnson bought into Leonsis' Lincoln Holdings LLC, which in turn purchased the Mystics from Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin for $10 million. "I hope that this is a signal that it's about time that a woman, and an African-American woman, is part of this whole scene of sports," said Johnson, who appeared at a press conference Tuesday with Pollin and his wife, Irene, Leonsis, NBA Commissioner David Stern and WNBA President Donna Orender.  Johnson, a former University of Illinois cheerleader whom Ebony described as America's first black female billionaire, says she plans to be a hands-on owner in her duties as team president, managing partner and representative of the Mystics at board of governors meetings. Johnson's ex-husband, Bob Johnson, became the first African-American majority owner of an NBA team



Be Popular Like Oprah

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(May 24, 2005) The line-up of tomorrow's American Idol finale was no surprise to Tim Sanders.  The California-based author and Yahoo! leadership coach advises Las Vegas bookies on the weekly exodus of would-be stars. Last season, he picked the top seven finalists in the correct order, 12 weeks in advance. And, with country-influenced Carrie Underwood and Southern rocker Bo Bice vying for this year's title, he's on track to repeat.  Sander's knack isn't recognizing talent, its discerning likeability, the subject of his new book The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-factor and Achieve Your Life's Dream.  Whether it's a singing competition, job interview or jury trial, Sanders says likeability, which he defines as "the capacity to create positive attitudes in other people through the delivery of emotional and physical benefits," may well be the deciding factor in every competition a person enters.  "There are three factors that go into play when you're choosing a candidate on American Idol and these factors have to do with any popularity contest in real life," said Sanders during an interview on the Toronto stop of his book tour.  "There's the talent factor, whether intelligence or singing ability; there's the IT factor, could be sexual appeal, could be charisma — very difficult to attain, you're usually born with it; and there's the likeability factor."  "I've predicted that Carrie would win because she has the best story to appeal to middle America voters. But I sincerely believe that Bo has a good shot at winning if he has a more shining personality (tomorrow) and cuts his hair.  "I think American Idol is the best reality show to help parents learn more about how to raise their kids and to help kids learn more how to survive adversity and stress; because you realize that if someone on the show is unlikeable — if they talk back to Simon, if they show arrogance — they are more likely to go home, than if they pick the wrong song or sing it poorly — and that's the way life works."

"There's a certain amount of talent or competence that you must have to be accepted in whatever role, but that's a commodity; if you want to rise above, personality will be the great tie breaker, just like on American Idol."  And likeability, a.k.a. "emotional attractiveness," is key for celebrities, determining the breadth of movie roles or endorsements they're offered, said Sanders who has designed a scale to measure likeability based on its four elements: friendliness, relevance, realness and empathy.  "When I meet people who have spent time with (the highly likeable) Bill Clinton, George Foreman, Ellen Degeneres or Bono, they always use the phrase `down-to-earth.' It's so important that celebrities remain connected with where they came from. Otherwise, you not only alienate your fan base, you put them to work against you.  "We used to think likeability was to be agreeable, to put on the smile even if you're not a happy person, never to disagree with you, to use your name a 100 times ... but people don't like that, especially in the reality culture we live in where genuine authentic people are the most liked."  We asked Sanders to opine on a few celebs that engender strong public sentiment.    Oprah: "Oprah built her likeability on empathy. Her ability to tease out and respect and just be with people and their feelings has been what's really glued her together with her viewing audience."


Dr. Phil: "I've never seen Phil attack someone as if he did not like them. It's tough love. But if he ever turns the corner and starts to have contempt for people, starts to think that he's better than them, you'll see his career go down like Morton Downey Jr.'s did."


Simon Cowell: "He won two-thirds of all votes in a recent popularity poll that asked `Which American Idol judge do you like?' He would not have won that three years ago, because he was sending the message `I don't like you' to certain contestants. This year you can see a compassion inside Simon — that he wants to help these kids grow. As his personality has softened a little bit, though he still maintains that directness, the public has really come to him."


Brad Pitt: "He feels into his role in such a giving, subtle and not an overacted way. Even in the horrific movie Troy I feel like he had empathy for the characters and that drives us in. I think it's been a big part of his success. As he gets older time will tell."


Courtney Love: "She's living in the doom loop. That's a vicious spiral that starts with negative thoughts about yourself; you feel like you're not good enough, you take it out on other people, then they give you negative feedback and you feel worse about yourself. Unlikeable people destroy their own self-esteem. She's going to have to rediscover that 5-year-old Courtney that was optimistic about people, that said, `I want to be a star someday' and had that gleam in her eye."


Sean Penn: "He may be the best actor of our time. His emphatic performance in I Am Sam won your heart over, but at the end of the day he is an angry guy. Anger is a very terrible thing for your personality to display to people, because when a person thinks you're angry they personalize it almost every time."


Robert De Niro: "He isn't angry, he's real. You get the idea that he's a happy person. He's still willing to play comedy. The diversity of his personality makes up for the directness of his approach."


Donald Trump: He has that realness factor. He's very direct, but you can tell he wants people to be better, to be successful. This season he warned different contestants that they had to get along with other people, they had to control their anger. He doesn't know it, but he fired some people because they lacked the likeability factor that a good leader needs to get the team engaged."


Michael Jackson: "There's always been that unbridled enthusiasm in Michael's work and we've always responded to that. If you like someone, you don't want to believe that they have done wrong. Don't think the sentiments of those people standing outside the courthouse supporting him don't invade the courtroom. Everyday, when he gets positive feedback from his fans right before he walks into the trial, he walks in with the same joy that caused his career to be successful. I predict he will be acquitted."

Ordinary folk reap rewards from an improved L-Factor, said Sanders citing data that shows, for example, that highly likeable men are 300 per cent less likely to have a divorce in their lifetime and that unlikeable mothers are less likely to see their adult children after they go away to college.  Imbued with a pleasant, forthright, slightly restless manner, Sanders revealed he didn't score as high as he'd expected on his own ranking system.  "The unlikeable things we do in relationships weigh heavier than the likeable things we do, maybe by a factor of 5 to 1," explained Sanders.  "If we were as interested in being emotionally attractive as much as we are in being financially and physically attractive I truly believe as a culture we would live longer and have less suicide, drug abuse, misery and suffering.  "Our priorities are so misplaced, because we'd rather be skinny, beautiful and rich than nice."




Black Men On Black Love: Is Chivalry Really Dead?

Excerpt from

  Sekou: Most of the men I meet do not want to take the time to get to know you, and are ready to jump in the sack.  This is disturbing to me in this day and age where AIDS is so rampant.  I would like to know, is chivalry really dead?  Men do not want to court you; they want to rush from first base to home run. ~Maxine

One of my grandmother’s contemporaries—who is still spry and cute—went out on a date with an older gentleman.  As dinner ended, he dropped a Viagra pill on the table.  “Do I need to take that,” he asked with a grin.  Hilarious, right?  This story also illustrates the point that there are always going to be men who want to jump in the sack with you, Maxine, so don’t take it personally.  It’s a blessing that these men are making their intentions known so that you have the power of choice.  If they toss a pack of condoms on the table, choose to not be offended.  Accept it as a compliment—clearly you’re an attractive woman—and then decline the offer without getting upset.  You could also give these brothers a gift by educating them.  Smile and say, “I appreciate the fact you find me attractive, but your approach is a bit demeaning.”  Even if they don’t step up their game immediately (and they might), they’ll probably step up their game for the next sister.  But back to you.  Be careful not to live in expectation of every man making a play to unhitch your garter belt or you run the risk of misinterpreting a decent man’s romantic overtures.  Judge each date, and each man, individually.  Also, try meeting men in other ways.  Ask friends for referrals.  Also, offers a "slow-flirting" mixer that allows you to flirt without pressure.  Protect yourself, but be careful not to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Dr. H. Jean:
I believe that people are impatient in all aspects of life, not just in the bedroom.  We live in an age of fast food, fast cars and, for some, fast sex!  Nowadays, we expect everything immediately.  But, it doesn't have to be that way.  Women (and men) need to understand that they are in charge of their bodies.  You must be patient in order to require patience from others.  You must be romantic in order to expect romance.  And if you want a man to be a gentleman, be a gentlewoman first.  Speak openly about what you want in a man and in the bedroom.  If the brother chafes, then guess what?  He may not be who you're looking for.  If he's rushing and you don't like it, slow him down.  Explain what you need, and when you need it.  Either he'll get the message, slow down, and hang in there with you, or he will hurry off to someone else.  If he does the latter, you likely made a good decision.
Korby Marks:
Women have to communicate with the men in their lives on how they expect to be treated.  To get chivalry a woman must demand chivalry, and if it’s not received she must move on.  Also, parents need to teach their children proper social etiquette when interacting with the opposite sex.  As a child, whenever I went somewhere with my grandmother she would wait at every door until I opened it for her.  So, for me, chivalrous behaviour is second nature.  Now, why do men rush to have sex with a woman before they get to know her?  I think that presupposes that all women want to “be known” before they have sex with a man.  This is not the case.  Sex has become more recreational over the years.  Both women and men sleep with whomever they want, regardless of how long they’ve known each other.  You should make your feelings known about the subject up front.  Tell the new man in your life your expectations early on.  If he can’t abide them, cut him loose and wait for the man who can wait for you.  Korby Marks is a co-author of the serial novel When Butterflies Kiss and the creator-writer of the upcoming comic-book/graphic novel Stormbringers (

About the column:
    SékouWrites is a New York-based novelist and performer. His relationship column, Black Men on Black Love, responds to queries from Black women by offering multiple Black male opinions. It runs on several websites. Dr. H. Jean is the column’s resident psychologist. Submit questions at:




Will Smith, Jay-Z, Other Exec's Invest In Beauty Company

Excerpt from - By Erin Whitlock

(May 18, 2005) Music and Hollywood elite have lined up to invest millions in the Brooklyn-based beauty products line, Carol’s Daughter according to CNN/Money.  Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jay-Z are amongst a few of the big-named investors who have invested a total of $10 million dollars in the new business endeavour and have plans to take the company nationwide. Additional investors include record executive and organizer Steve Stout, Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine, Andrew Farkas and Tommy Mottola and his wife, Latin recording artist Thalia.  Pinkett-Smith, wife of Will Smith, will serve as the face of the product through a nationwide advertising campaign. Carol’s Daughter opened the doors of its first store in Brooklyn in 1999, after owner Lisa Price created products out of her home for years. Specializing in hair and skin care products, it instantly became a favourite with celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry and Erykah Badu. The paper reported that a flagship store will open in Harlem this fall, with nine other stores slated to open in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta.




‘Top Model’ Naima Reflects On South Africa Experience

Excerpt from

(May 24, 2005) *It wasn’t too long ago when twenty-year-old Naima Mora was waiting tables in Detroit, dreaming about living the life of a famous supermodel.  Millions of people saw her dream come true when she was crowned the winner of last season’s “America’s Next Top Model,” the culmination of a journey that included a life-changing trip to South Africa.    "I had a lot of time during filming to spend by myself in South Africa," Mora told “The Early Show” co-anchor Julie Chen. "The country is so rich in culture and beauty. And when I saw how much they struggled, I was inspired to do better. I also went to Nelson Mandela's cell and saw the cell he lived in for more than my life. I was inspired. I wanted to inspire people." Naima, who had originally trained to be a dancer in New York City, built up a steady reserve of self-confidence through her experience on the Tyra Banks-hosted show. "It changed my life," said the Mohawked beauty, whose mother is Irish and black and father is Mexican and black. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I step away from it with so much more confidence, so much belief in myself, and I feel like a beautiful woman, like a blossomed flower." And the decision to sport a Mohawk on the show? "It actually helped," she said. "I was going through this really wild period, and I just wanted to become like a monk. So I shaved my head. Not completely - kind of stylistically. I thought the Mohawk was really funky, really cool, so I tried it out."




Steve Stoute Speaks To ‘Complex’ Magazine

Excerpt from

(May 24, 2005) *In the June/July issue of “Complex” magazine, industry heavyweight Steve Stoute speaks candidly about his various power moves within the business. Here are a few excerpts:

On why he connected Jay-Z with Reebok and not Nike:   

“It wasn’t Jigga and Nike because Jay-Z and I have a relationship that’s really strong. He knew if I was working with Reebok, I was going to make it really hot, make sure his image was protected and it was going to be something that was going to be important and different.  He bet on me and the company.  That’s the kind of guy he is.”

• On why the Justin Timberlake/McDonalds deal was his hardest ever:

“McDonald’s was used to guys becoming more product friendly—like holding the product and eating the burger.  And Justin wanted an organic relationship.  He didn’t necessarily have to eat the food on camera for you to realize that he was down with McDonald’s.  So that was hard to try to really make them understand that and for Justin to give in on some of his points as well.  But I knew that he would be good to carry what McDonald’s was trying to portray as their lifestyle.”

• On his biggest failure to date:

“The Pharrell/Reebok thing. I wish it would’ve worked out. That one slipped away.  I think Pharrell is a big act, and he’s going to be extremely successful in everything he does because I think he’s a very important aspect to youth culture.  We were working with him at Reebok, but then there was a bunch of legal things that we had to deal with and we ended up going our separate ways.  It really wasn’t a failure, though, because it didn’t happen.  It didn’t come out and have a chance to fail.”






3 Simple Solutions For Fitness

by Michael Stefano, Special for eFitness

(May 23, 2005) Help! Americans are getting fatter, with an estimated 30 percent of us considered obese.  According to an article published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a growing proportion of children, adolescents, and adults are overweight.  From 1960 to 2000, the percent of fat Americans rose from 44 to 64 percent, representing significant increases in all age groups. But is there any wonder why? We live in a world of fast food, overstocked supermarkets, and super sizes, while our ancestors not only had to prepare every meal from scratch (a job in itself), but actually gathered or slaughtered their dinner on a daily basis.  The main issue is one of caloric expenditure versus intake. In simpler terms, we eat too much food for the amount of activity that we participate in. Experts have coined the phrase, "Foot and Fork Disease," meaning, too much fork (food) without enough foot (activity).  So what's the best plan of action? Is our only recourse virtual starvation or endless lunch hours on the treadmill? I've got a much simpler solution that not only gets the job done, but can be sustained over the long haul, the true test of any fitness or weight loss plan.

In working with hundreds of clients, and my own personal experience, I've come to realize that starvation diets all tend to backfire in the end. Let me explain.  You go on a crash diet and lose 20 pounds. Unfortunately, half of that weight loss is usually muscle mass. Eventually, inevitably, you eat. The only problem is muscle doesn't return as easily it disappears.  The major muscles of your body are fat burning furnaces. Just a little less overall muscle means a lot less caloric demand. Your diet will eventually return to normal, with you consuming as much, if not more, food than before, only now there's less muscle to burn off the extra calories. Can you see a scary pattern developing?  Becoming a fixture at your local gym also won't last. The most well-intentioned novice almost always makes the mistake of starting off with doing too much, too soon. As a professional trainer, one of my main functions is to help a beginner spread his or her enthusiasm out over time, and not burn out the first month.  Studies show 25 percent of all fitness programs are doomed before the second or third week, while half of the beginners don't ever get past the second month without losing motivation.

A Simple Solution for a Complicated Problem

My plan is a compromise. It's a deal you make with yourself, and it can be summed up in one word: moderation. Enjoy some of what you love but don't overdo it. Simple advice to help tackle a complicated issue. It might not give you a solid six-pack overnight, but if you stick with it you may even get to enjoy a beer or two.

Mike's 3 Rules of Moderation

1. Improve upon current diet

a. Keep a food diary as a short-term tool to help guide you
b. Learn portion control and how to adjust serving sizes
c. Avoid extremes and fad diets that can waste muscle

2. Cardio two or three times a week

a. Mode of cardio is unimportant (walking, cycling, etc.)
b. Learn how to get into your fat burning heart rate zone
c. Spend 15 to 25 minutes exercising at the above level

3. Circuit train twice a week

a. Use a low to moderate resistance level
b. Work at high repetition ranges (15 to 20)
c. Keep rest short (under a minute between sets)
d. Do at least 8 to 10 total sets

Can it really be that simple? My answer to that question is, it has to be. In order for a program to be sustainable, it's got to fit into your life, not the other way around.  You still need to pay special attention to every aspect of each exercise, getting the most you possibly can from every movement. Recording meals and learning portion control, while allowing yourself to eat real food is also an essential element.  I hope this helped shed some light on what a true, long-term, fitness and weight loss program is all about.




EVENTS –MAY 26 – JUNE 5, 2005




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar  
574 College Street (at Manning)  
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE:  Welcome to Negril … Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out party on the new and hip patio.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  The party begins earlier next week – 9:00 pm.  Carl will be serving goodies from his bush grille for us to get some samples from his summer menu – not to mention the drink specials he’s got going on.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 




Revival Bar  
783 College Street (at Shaw)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment