Updated: November 10, 2005
Happy Remembrance Day! Let's try to take a minute in our busy schedules to remember
those that sacrificed on our behalf, as well as those that daily fight for
freedom. Kanye's concert was really great last night! Check
out the pictures in my PHOTO GALLERY. Have you ever thought to
yourself that there must be a better way to meet people worth dating?
Well, At First Sight offers you just that - see below!
More gospel - Sony/BMG offers us Israel & New Breed - check it out below. Check out one of the episodes Canadian documentary that airs in November on TVO - Black Coffee - see the details below.
Check out all categories - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, THEATRE 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. Want to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.
At First Sight presents The Lock and Key
Ever wish for an alternative to the club scene to meet people? Well, now it's here! Come and check out At First Sight’s Lock and Key Launch Party on Saturday, November 12 at Tantric Martini Lounge! Our mission statement At First Sight is to offer a casual and relaxed alternative to the traditional dating scene. Our goal is to provide Canadian Black Singles the best way to establish relationships that add meaning to their lives. At First Sight Events provide a quick, fun, safe and comfortable way for singles to meet one another. At First Sight hosts Speed Dating Events and Social Gatherings in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Scarborough.
In this casual atmosphere, we offer upscale Canadian Black Singles aged 30-45 male and female (limited spots available) interactive games, light starters, a cash bar and there are lots of prizes to be won! As well, we offer the smooth grooves of: DiJital Productions.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12
The Lock and Key Launch Party!
(Followed by Tantric 25 Plus Saturdays)
Tantric Martini Lounge
422 Adelaide St (1 block west of Spadina)
Registration: *$19 (limited spots available)
*$15 when you register two more friends!
Available Online: www.atfirstsightonline.com or
Sign in at 9:00 pm. Mingling begins at 9:30 pm sharp!
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
**Also coming up**
Speed Dating - Register NOW for any and receive 10% off regular admission! Go
to www.atfirstsightonline.com for further
Come out and meet other Afro Canadian singles at the best speed dating party in Toronto! This event takes place at Irie Food Joint (745 Queen Street West). The evening features one age group and will include up to 15 - four-minute dates, light starters, prize giveaways! Sign-in begins at 7:00 pm, dating at 7:30 pm sharp! Please note - Advance registration is required for events.
Israel & New
Breed - New Release
Source: Sony/BMG Music Canada
The most-awarded Gospel Artist of 2005 returns with a live worship experience captured in an amazing 2 nights in Capetown! Alive In South Africa is the inspiring follow-up to the exploding Live From Another Level and takes the musical passion of the genre to a whole new level. Get ready for the voyage of a lifetime as ISRAEL & NEW BREED take you on an international journey of Worship with no limits or boundaries! This ground-breaking recording was captured over two nights of powerful and moving worship in Cape Town, South Africa. As ISRAEL & NEW BREED minister to the masses, you’ll get a first hand experience at what makes this group true worship leaders from deep within their hearts! You’ll get caught up in bountiful songs of praise such as the song for the nations “Not Forgotten,” the worshipful sounds of “It’s Raining,” and a song of healing and deliverance, “Favor of the Lord.” Get ready to feel the true power of Worship as you experience ALIVE IN SOUTH AFRICA with ISRAEL & NEW BREED, to be released on November 1, 2005!
Coffee" – Three-Hour Documentary Caffeine Fix On TVO
Airs In Three Parts Beginning Wednesday, November 16, 2005 At 10:00pm EST
October 31, 2005 (Toronto)—Cuppa joe. Java. Coffee. Millions of java-addicted consumers make a beeline for local coffee shops every morning, willingly shelling out as much as $4 for one of the "specialty coffees," such as a tall, non-fat latte. Coffee represents the second-most-traded legal commodity in the world, after oil. But what lies behind our romance with the bean?
BLACK COFFEE, a new Canadian three-hour documentary on the social and cultural history of coffee, airs on TVO's "The View From Here" in three parts, beginning Wednesday, November 16 and continues on the following two Wednesdays. BLACK COFFEE was written and directed by Irene Angelico and produced by Ina Fichman, both Montreal-based. Fichman produced the 2004 YTV series "My Brand New Life," as well as the acclaimed documentary about Dorothys in Oz, Kansas, "Being Dorothy," seen on CBC in 2004. Angelico is best known for her other caffeine-fuelled trilogy, "The Cola Conquest." "These films took us around the world," said Fichman, "to meet those involved in both the production and consumption of coffee and production. It was extraordinary to see how coffee truly reflects the complex relationship between North and South."
The cost of a caffeine fix equals a day's wages for millions of workers of harvest workers around the world. From a $2 cup of coffee, only one cent goes to the grower. Many farmers have never tasted their own coffee. Since its alleged discovery by goats in the Ethiopian hillside in the sixth century, the beloved green bean hidden in the red cherry of the coffee bush has represented a dominant force in shaping the economic and social structures of entire nations. BLACK COFFEE provides a revealing portrait of the dark side of the brew that was instrumental in promoting romance, revolution and the slave trade. The series also sheds light on a human rights and ecological record that remains tenuous at best, and links the morning ritual to the rise in café culture as well as the Fair Trade movement’s efforts to guarantee small growers a decent price.
BLACK COFFEE was produced by Ina Fichman and Productions La Fête (Coffee) Inc. in association with TVOntario with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund created by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Cable Industry, Telefilm Canada: Equity Investment Program, CTF: Licence Fee Program, Government of Quebec Tax Credit Program, Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit Program, National Film Board of Canada, The Harold Greenberg Fund, Historia, TFO.
CARAS Announces Call For Submissions For The
2006 Juno Awards
TORONTO -- The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announces that submissions are now being accepted for the 2006 JUNO Awards, Canada’s Music Awards.
The final submission deadline for juried categories (including Reggae Recordings) is November 16, 2005. Submissions for categories based on sales will be accepted until January 9, 2006. All forms can be accessed at www.junosubmissions.ca or by calling 1-888-440-JUNO (5866) (toll-free in Canada). In CARAS’ ongoing commitment to review all category criteria, including voting methods and processes, the following improvements have been made for 2006:
CARAS members and JUNO Awards judges are now able to cast their votes online for both the first round to determine nominees and then the second round to determine winners.
Francophone Album of the Year has been changed from a sales based category, to a jury voted category. Two rounds of jury votes will determine nominees and winners. Albums must be released between September 1, 2004 and November 16, 2005.
New CARAS member and non-member submission rates have been introduced to encourage CARAS membership and to further engage Canadian artists in the Nominating and Voting process.
All submissions must be completed on-line. In an effort to keep the submission costs down, a penalty fee will be levied for incomplete submissions received.
While certain categories such as International Album of the Year are determined by sales, most category winners are determined by CARAS membership ballot vote or by a panel of expert judges. For specific details on JUNO Awards nominations and procedures, please visit the Juno Awards Web site at www.junoawards.ca.
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences/L'academie canadienne des arts et des sciences de l'enregistrement (CARAS) is a not-for-profit organization created to preserve and enhance the Canadian music and recording industries and to contribute toward higher artistic and industry standards. The main focus of CARAS is the exploration and development of opportunities to showcase and promote Canadian artists and music through television vehicles such as the JUNO Awards. For more information on the 35th annual Juno Awards, visit the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) Web site at www.junoawards.ca. The 2006 Juno Awards will air on CTV, on Sunday, April 2, 2006.
Sponsors for the 2006 JUNO Awards include FACTOR and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage's "Canada Music Fund", the Province of Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Municipality, and Events Halifax.
Arden Practised At
Barbs And Blues
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critic
(Nov. 9, 2005) If CBC-TV executives were casting around for a way to get back into the good graces of Canadians, they could do worse than to create a daytime variety show hosted by Jann Arden. For starters, the Alberta singer comes with her own band. And, as she demonstrated at Massey Hall last night, the musicians are as practised as foils for her barbs as David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer. Arden was barely a half-dozen songs into her set, the first of five this week at the Shuter St. hall, before she started needling guitarist and co-writer Russell Broom, who has been with her for more than 11 years. "The reason we've been together that long is that we've never been nude," was the offered rationale. Later, she turned her attention to the band's other guitarist, Graham Powell, identified as a relative newcomer to the backing four-piece. Invited to give a demonstration of his talents, Powell offered up a passable Joe Jackson cover that had the audience cheering. "If my mother was here," Arden quipped, shifting into her best church-lady voice, "she'd say, `The people in Toronto seemed to enjoy Graham more than they enjoyed you. Dad and I keep telling you you've got to have a beat.'" The obligatory monologue would also be a snap.
Anyone who has seen Arden perform — and her visits here seem to get longer each time around — can testify that she appears to relish the opportunities for between-song banter as much as she does belting out the tunes. True, some of her material might be a bit blue for midday viewing, but the lengthy anecdote about the hour-long car trip home after consuming too much popcorn and diet soda at the movie probably would have survived the Mother Corp.'s currently relaxed standards. Not to forget the music, of course. Between dishing the dirt with guests, Arden could bring a heavy dose of heartbreak to the proceedings by plumbing a catalogue that has produced six studio albums in the past dozen years. The current tour leans toward a typical balance of songs from her eponymous album of this year, including "All of This" and "I'll be Glad" and older favourites "I Would Die for You," "Will You Remember Me" and "Unloved." The ever resourceful performer even managed to slip in an impromptu parody of Leonard Cohen, as well as delivering a song from a children's ditty she's working on: "I got a bunny. My bunny's name is Ed. I put him in the toilet. And now my bunny's dead." Okay, so maybe Viewer Discretion Advised.
The Tragically Hip May Be Pushing A New Compilation
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail- By Brad Wheeler
(Nov. 8, 2005) Nobody likes to be boxed into corners or tight spaces, and Gord Downie is no exception. Watching the wriggling, bursting singer on the concert film That Night in Toronto, there is a strong sense that he would not make a tame prisoner. The film, a DVD component of The Tragically Hip's new box set Hipeponymous, documents what the title suggests -- a single performance at Toronto's Air Canada Centre in November, 2004. "Do you want it fully?" Downie asks the audience. "Completely?" It's what the fans want, and the band inches into Fully Completely, the second of 24 songs. Downie, who is also the band's lyricist, sings about shackles and the measures for ending things ("You're gonna miss me, just wait and you'll see"). The song ramps up to a furious pace before collapsing, exhausted. Almost a year after the concert was filmed, Downie sits at a downtown Toronto café, discussing the box set that he's not so sure about. This kind of compilation tends to arrive when a band is winding down, and Downie's not there yet -- not full, not complete. "A friend of mine once said if you're a farmer, every once in a while you have to stop your tractor and look over your shoulder and look at the fields that you plowed," says Downie, 41. "But that's not my inclination." In front of him sits a package that holds 48 pages of poetry and artwork, a double-CD best-of collection (Yer Favourites), the aforementioned concert film and another DVD of videos, vignettes and a short film. The box set is available now, and today Universal releases separate versions of Yer Favourites and That Night in Toronto. (Yer Favourites is so named because the track line-up was chosen by fans who participated in an on-line poll. Two previously unreleased songs fill out the collection).
When discussing the box set, Downie speaks slowly, as if half his brain wants to promote the thing, while the other half warily considers the product's message. "It's something that someone felt like we needed to do," he says, indicating that the project's initiative came from the band's label. "It's not a career retrospective. When we do one, I'll guess you'll know it." But if he's concerned that the box could be seen as a career-capping send-off for the band, which formed in Kingston two decades ago, he's not ready to buy all the copies and bury them in his backyard, either. He's enthusiastic about the concert DVD: "As a music fan, I'm excited when I watch it." That is interesting, because an excited Downie is certainly something to see. In addition to his quirky physicality, there are the stream-of-consciousness raps -- words that come between verses, not just between songs. A career retrospective seems alien to a performer so utterly in the moment. Physically and mentally, Downie is flexed for the concert's length, and that can't be an easy chore. "I'm exhausted at the end of every show, to the point of where I'm staggering away," Downie says. "That doesn't make me a heck of a guy, but ultimately I don't think I ever feel closer to Howlin' Wolf than I do at that moment." Downie refers to a blues artist -- a gigantic Mississippi-born legend who was already over 40 years old by the time he first recorded for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in the early 1950s. Wolf, whose real name was Chester Burnett, was known for his voice -- a hellish, commanding instrument -- but it is the bluesman's astounding determination that earns Downie's respect. "He was in his 60s, climbing up the curtain in the auditorium and perching 30 feet above the stage with a microphone under his arm, singing." What the blues crowds didn't know was that Wolf was quite ill towards the end, and that the performances were punishing. When Downie speaks of an affinity to Wolf, the pain is what he's thinking of. "Going on stage, there's a lot of trepidation, a lot of fear, concern, anticipation," he says. "Because it's going to hurt, I suppose, and I couldn't experience that anywhere else, with any other group of guys. "I think that's what keeps us all interested and moving forward. . . just sort of plugging into that idea that blues have to hurt." What also keeps the Hip propelled, according to the band's singer, is what's around the next corner. Currently, the group is working on a new album with Bob Rock, a producer whose name can be found on the credits of top-selling albums by Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Bryan Adams and Cher. The partnership with Rock might indicate an attempt by the band to halt its commercial downturn -- while earlier albums Up to Here and Fully Completely sold more than a million copies each, the Hip's last three releases registered sales of less than half a million combined. Despite slumping numbers at the record stores, the band is still a formidable draw on the road in Canada. It's hard to imagine that changing any time soon, but for Downie nothing is assured. "We've played to three people in Hoboken -- we've played to every crowd imaginable. That kind of thing can go on as a band for a long time, when you're outnumbering the crowd." You wouldn't think that a band that uses the home-side dressing rooms of hockey arenas across the country would be worried about single-digit crowd counts, but Downie still remembers the slow days. "You're never past that," he says. "I have no illusions of the future -- or maybe it's all illusion, I don't know. I've always been ready for it."
When asked if he's prepared to play in front of the Hoboken three again, Downie offers his quickest reply of the interview: "Sure." With that, he scans the room for sugar for his coffee, finally tracking down a near-empty container. With a minor look of disgust, he shakes his head while considering the paltry supply. "Look at this," he says. "Think I can get a spoonful?" That is always the question. Howlin' Wolf sang about spoonfuls -- of diamonds, of gold, and everybody fighting for just a little taste more. The great blues artists performed to their end, and Downie is strongly taken by their ethic. "I love that," he says, mulling the idea over. "Performing to our end -- that's something we haven't done yet."
Kate Bush: Lost and
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(Nov. 5, 2005) In the weird cast of eccentric, renegade geniuses credited with having influenced the course of late 20th-century pop music, Kate Bush is perhaps weirder, more eccentric, more of a renegade and more influential than most. Not that she cares. "I've never been aware of inspiring others," she says over the phone from her home in Reading, England, on the eve of the release this Tuesday of Aerial, her first album in 12 years. "That was never my intention. You do the best you can ... that's all I care about." A child prodigy who burst into public view in 1978, Bush churned out seven extemporaneous, genre-defying albums in the following 15 years. She also released a string of groundbreaking videos, undertook one strange and fantastic tour before retreating, apparently forever, to her home studio, and in 1993, disappeared completely, leaving a legion of mythically devoted fans puzzled and gasping for more. Bush might have remained one of the curiosities of the 1980s Britpop explosion had it not been for a steady stream in subsequent years of performers who clearly owe much to her vision and style. Hip-hop star Antwan "Big Boi" Patton of OutKast has called Bush his "No. 1 musical influence next to Bob Marley." And if that's hard to believe, try listening to Björk, Sarah McLachlan, Dido, Fiona Apple or Tori Amos without conjuring Kate Bush. Her passion, frankness and musical daring with electronic and symphonic structures has its roots in 1970s British prog rock, but Bush, who's now 47, is one of those rare and preternaturally gifted artists whose work stands outside time, impervious to musical trends and changes in social, economic and political patterns. In fact, the time away from the music biz whirl has passed so quickly for her that she barely feels it, she says.
"I've been having a good time. I've been raising my son (Bertie, aged 7), and living a quiet life, shopping, cleaning my house, going to movies with friends. And I've been recording, taking my time. Once I start recording, I have to make it as good as I can. This album didn't start out to be as big as it is, but by the time it was finished, I'd been at it for almost five years. I have a reputation for being overambitious." Cheerful and talkative — except when it comes to details of her personal life — Bush sounds genuinely at a loss to explain her reputation in the media as a wacky recluse. "Reclusive, mysterious and weird — it's ridiculous, isn't it? Just because I've chosen to live a normal life, and not in the public eye. I've never promoted myself, I'm not a celebrity, I'm a worker, and I don't see a reason to do interviews unless there's something to talk about, a piece of work. "I don't hide from people. I go shopping, I go to restaurants and movies ... yet somehow I'm made out to be some mad hermit. It's too much. "I think my cult following got grumpy waiting so long," she laughs. That all sounds a bit disingenuous in light of the number of high-end European art and fashion photographers whose ubiquitous images of Bush created at least the impression of a showbiz diva between 1978 and 1990, when an eight-CD anthology appeared in the box set This Woman's Work — complete with a colour booklet containing nothing but these extravagant portraits.
In lieu of personal appearances — erroneous reports of stage fright that have apparently prevented her from touring after 1979 are another bone of contention with her — fans have had nothing to fuel their addiction other than Bush's wild, rich and allusive music, and magnificent, stylized graphics. "I never consciously gave up touring," she explains. "I only did just one, in 1979 and 1980, and I think other people gave up on me. I remember it as a fantastic experience, like being on the road with a circus. We're working on some ideas about doing some shows to promote this album, but it's early days." And she says she has no regrets about the image she helped create, though Aerial comes unadorned with large and ornate likenesses of her, and instead features realistic images of the ornaments of an ordinary village life — washing on the line, a view from the kitchen window, a placid seashore, pigeons in the yard. "Graphics are important," she adds, by way of explaining the effort that went into designing the honeyed landscape artwork for Aerial. "This may sound pompous, but I'm uncomfortable working with the CD format. I used to work in vinyl, when the artwork was big, and said something significant about an artist. "And I loved double albums. They indicated that the music was conceptual, too important to be reduced, and you could open up the covers and get lost in the pictures and information inside. "I liked it when an album was 20 minutes of music a side, with a breathing space in the middle. I think CDs are too long for people with short attention spans, people who are distracted by all the technological tools we have these days." The Aerial format, she explains, is a respectful nod to the great days of vinyl. The package contains two discs, both around 40 minutes in length, the first a collection of single songs, the second a conceptual piece that unfolds as a musical panorama encompassing the span of a single day, with vast dreams and powerful reminiscences inspired by simple sounds of nature, the words of passers-by and routine chores.
The album lacks the frenetic pace and bluster of her last conceptual effort, 1985's Hounds Of Love, and achieves an almost elegiac, English pastoral grace. Several songs feature just vocals and piano, and expose matters closer to her heart than the turgid melodramas of her earlier work: the joy childhood brings in "Bertie," memories of her late mother in the eerie but strangely comforting waterscape "A Coral Room," the bucolic "Sky Of Honey" with its compelling echoes of Vaughan Williams. Orchestral charts were written by award-winning composer Michael Kamen, who died of a heart attack at age 55 in 2003. They were recorded just weeks before his death. "He was a lovely person, very talented and brave," Bush recalls. "I'd worked with him on other albums, and he was never offended if I suggested changes — he'd rewrite arrangements on the spot, even with the orchestra waiting in the studio. I admire his work for its visual qualities." While it's debatable, as acolytes claim, that Kate Bush's impact on Western music and female artists in particular is as profound as Joni Mitchell's, it can't be denied that Bush has attracted more than a fair share of serious attention from new artists in the years since her so-called self-exile began. This includes R&B singer Maxwell, whose reworking of Bush's childbearing chronicle "This Woman's Work" was a hit in 2001, as well as male-dominated British rock acts Placebo and The Futureheads, who scored a hit last year with a version of her "Hounds of Love." Her beginnings were more than auspicious. Bush was "discovered" at age 16 by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. He who paid for an orchestra to back her distinctive, hyperbolic soprano on demos of several elaborately theatrical, sexually loaded romantic fantasies that would become the core, three years later, of her hair-raising debut, The Kick Inside. Though she had nothing in common with the post-punk, new wave acts with whom she shared the high end of the charts — she was genteel, well educated, and possessed of aesthetic and artistic sensibilities that had less to do with rock than with the progressive side of opera, world music, jazz, musical theatre and epic cinema — she became the darling of British prog-rock. Peter Gabriel gave her a nod by recording the moving duet, "Don't Give Up" with her in 1986. Procol Harum member Gary Brooker's organ and vocal contributions anchor Aerial, an exotic two-CD set. Some pieces on Aerial will remind fans of the daring Kate Bush of old: "Pi" is little more than a series of numbers sung with dramatic extremes of emotion; "King Of The Mountain," the first single, is a contemplation on celebrity and its cost, with direct references to Elvis; in "Mrs. Bartolozzi," a washing machine becomes a sexual allegory in the romantic fantasies of a cleaning woman. "After seven years with Bertie, I know a lot about washing machines," Bush chuckles. "He keeps me normal. I never wanted to be famous. I just want to create nice music, and I believe celebrity threatens creativity. "What's important to me is to have a soul — and my lovely little boy."
Radio Stations Fight Song-Fee Increase
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Grant Robertson
(Nov. 6, 2005) Canada's commercial radio stations are fighting a multimillion-dollar decision by the federal copyright regulator to increase the amount broadcasters must pay musicians for the right to play their songs. At a closed-door meeting in Winnipeg on Sunday, more than 15 of the country's radio networks agreed to seek a judicial review of a ruling last month that saw royalty payments increase 30 per cent, according to the broadcasters. While the decision answers a call from musicians for a bigger piece of the profits from radio airplay, several of Canada's largest broadcasters say they've taken a substantial financial hit. CHUM Ltd. and Corus Entertainment Inc., which have stations across the country, each recorded a $2.6-million impact in their third-quarter results. Corus said the unexpected additional expense could force layoffs at its stations, although the company did not elaborate. Glenn O'Farrell, president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, said the industry will ask a judge to overturn the decision and send it back to the copyright board to be reworked. The industry will argue the regulator stepped outside its legal boundaries to make a “renegade” ruling, Mr. O'Farrell said. “We feel that the copyright board has taken a number of liberties that are not consistent with its role,” Mr. O'Farrell said after the meeting, which was held at the broadcast association's annual conference. Officials with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), which collects royalties on behalf of artists, could not be reached.
However, Paul Spurgeon, general counsel of SOCAN, said in a recent statement that the royalties had gone unchanged for 25 years and “the previous rates undervalued music's contribution to the radio industry.” Under the new system, music stations will pay 3.2 per cent on the first $1.25-million of their annual revenue to SOCAN, along with a slight increase on royalties for another, smaller artists' organization. After the first $1.25-million, the rate jumps to 4.4 per cent of revenue. Previously, broadcasters paid a 3.2-per-cent flat rate to SOCAN, which had asked the board to set the royalties at 6 per cent of each station's advertising revenue, but was turned down. The battle could prove to be a messy one between the broadcasters and the copyright board, since the industry also decided yesterday to push the federal government to rewrite the rules dictating how the regulator operates. Mr. O'Farrell said the regulator was acting as an advocate of the musicians, which is not allowed. “Its role is not to provide social engineering and social policy, but to be a rate-setting organization,” he said, adding the payouts have been climbing steadily over the years as revenue rose. The ruling is retroactive to 2003 and extends to 2007. Corus chief executive officer John Cassaday told analysts two weeks ago the firm is looking for ways to offset the costs. The increase comes at a time radio networks are under intense competitive pressure from each other. “What we'll be doing is essentially scrubbing all our costs and looking for ways of offsetting this,” he said. “And we'll look at everything that moves and hopefully find a way to do it without impacting jobs.”
On The Road With Metric
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Nov. 6, 2005) From Omaha to Vancouver, singer Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw offer a band's-eye view of devoted fans, big and small stages and the life of a Toronto act on the verge of hugeness (with footnotes added for the unhip)
Introduction By James Shaw
Boredom, I think, is the killer on the road for a potentially successful indie rock band like Metric. It leads to questionable sexual encounters, unmentionable excesses and futile pursuits, chasing that elusive high that happens naturally for only 75 minutes a day when we actually play. We've been on the road for a couple of months now, with six more weeks to go. I'm trying like hell not to self-sabotage. As a group, we're a little less self-obsessed than we used to be, a little better off and better staffed, so we have a lot less to do out here. The old days consisted of one of us at the wheel, another with map in hand, a third making sandwiches and angry phone calls from the second bench of a Ford 15-passenger van, and the last passed out in the back from the heavy whisky intake the night before. Now we have a nice bus, a great driver named Rick, our tour manager Sean, Montreal sound technician Drew, and our super zealous and excitable merch (1) guy, Gary. These people are here to load our equipment, set it up and tear it down, collect the money, and essentially baby-sit a group of fully grown, more than capable people. This is progress, so they tell me. Sometimes it feels like it and others it feels like walking head first into a pre-existing system that leads directly to self-destruction.
Emily Haines writes:
Wow, it feels strange to be back at Exit/In. We played here last year around this time and almost started a riot. I remember noticing during sound check that there were an inordinate number of plastic banners advertising beer throughout the venue, hanging on every wall and above the stage. I didn't think of it again until later that night when we started playing. As is often the case at Metric concerts, I got to talking with the audience between songs. This time, the gratuitous beer advertising was the hot topic. The crowd shared my view that the enormous beer flags had to go, and within moments, right before my eyes, the idea became a movement. To my amazement, hundreds of hands simultaneously reached up to tear down the offending ads. The entire lighting rig above the stage was shaking as they pulled with all their might on the structure. What the hell had I done? "WAIT!" I yelled into the microphone. "We need to think this through!" Everyone slowed down. Here was a concrete example of what I now refer to as conscientious paralysis: we all know there are things that we can change, but even if we are brave enough to act on our beliefs, the consequences always deter us. What are we proving by damaging property at a club many of our musical heroes have played, a club where we have always been treated with respect? I said as much to the crowd, and judging from the reactions of those whose faces I could actually see, we were in agreement. We abandoned our mission and continued playing our set. By all accounts it was a great night, but the lesson depressed me. Tonight after the show, just as I was about to leave, the promoter called me into his office. I followed him into a small room where he started rummaging in the corner. "I wanted to show you this," he said, pulling out a dusty roll of ... plastic beer banners! "A couple days after your show here last year, we took all of these down. I thought you'd be happy to know that this place has been free of those ads ever since."
Tonight — on top of being a fantastic, sold-out show — the sweetest boy I have ever seen gave me a T-shirt he made for me. He was there when we played in Providence and promised me he would make me one, then he showed up in Detroit and gave it to me. All the letters are embroidered on, and it fits me perfectly. I love it. P.S. A couple of weeks later I was looking online at the new issue of the Los Angeles magazine Under the Radar, which features all these Canadian bands ... Murray and Natalia, Kevin, Amy, (2) k-os, Feist and more ... we're all on the cover! Anyway, I noticed their main photographer, Wendy Lau, has a link to her photo gallery on the site and I stumbled upon a photograph she took of Elliott Smith (3). Whoa! HE'S WEARING THE SAME EMBROIDERED T-SHIRT THAT KID IN DETROIT GAVE ME! He must have made one for Elliott, too. It took me by surprise. I was heart-broken when he died, and the image on the shirt is of a broken heart. Now I feel this childish connection between me, the kid and the late Elliott Smith.
We played two shows at the Empty Bottle today. I feared it was going to be rough and I was right. The first show, everything kept feeding back and I couldn't get a sense of the audience, and despite a lot of encouraging cheers, I felt like the whole room was full of Pitchfork (4) writers who hate our music. (As far as I know, there was only one, but that turned out to be enough.) The second show was much better, mostly because we worked out the sound issues and the band got drunk enough not to care about critics. My friend Marcel was at the second show, too, a sound guy I met through the Secret Machines. (5) He's on tour with the Decemberists now; they played an early show that night and all came down to the club with him. It's a good place to hang out, and we talked to a lot of people who all really enjoyed the concert. I figure I should trust them — why would they stick around to lie? Why does it always seem like one negative opinion cancels out thousands of positive ones and makes me feel as though the people who like us are stupid?
Welcome to the Creepy Crawl; we can't load in because they are bombing for roaches. I ask Josh, the promoter, to kill some time with me. He offers to drive James and I to a little neighbourhood near the university and show us around. Anything is better than standing in the parking lot, so we go. It turns out to be a nice, small-town strip of shops, notably a movie theatre with a beautiful old sign and a black activist bookstore. We wander into a vintage clothing store and they're playing the new BSS (6) record, so we get to talking to the kids who work there, and they're really freaked out to see us standing in front of them, especially when "Swimmers" (7) comes on. It occurs to me that anyone in a pair of faded jeans with a big heart could claim to be a member of the band, and it makes me happy. We started something good! We continue on to the record store; it's so nice to actually see our album prominently featured on the shelf after so many years of people complaining that they can't find our music anywhere. We put a couple of guys on the guest list, spend a bunch of money on obscure movies to watch on the bus, and head back to the car just as the Suicide Girls (8) are arriving to do an "instore." In my mind the Suicide Girls and the Pussycat Clan (9) or whatever they're called are interchangeable, but as far as I know the Suicide Girls are "performers" (i.e. strippers), not musicians, and it does fill me with a certain dread when I realize they are "playing" at music venues (for the most part bigger venues than us) on the same nights as we are for the next week of the tour. (Later on we get word that the kids from TMSR (10) tried to go to the show but they all got carded, ha ha ha.) Josh drives us back to the club and I can't believe how incredibly small the stage is. We've played in plenty of tiny punk-rock rooms but never on a stage so small. Still the people show up in record numbers, requesting songs by name, exclaiming that this is the most crowded they've ever seen the place and insisting that we are going to be HUGE. Lucky for me, there is a fence keeping the rowdy crowd back. Nevertheless, a young frowning girl standing beside my keyboard gets close enough to put her business card on my Pro-One (11) while I'm playing. Between songs I take a look at it, and it says she is in music management. I suddenly feel as though we all have a very long way to go. After the show, I go back to the bus and watch the Ramones documentary alone in the back, under a blanket in the dark.
Parked the bus in front of the Sokol Underground. We're playing in the basement, and upstairs an Elvis impersonator is already wowing a room full of senior citizens. Called our friend Nick, from Bright Eyes (12); the rest of the band is in California but he's around, working on his record. He brought a friend of his from Saddle Creek. We sat in the dark drinking beer before the show and they took us to a party across town afterwards. The show was packed, even though we've never been here before. The front row was all teenage girls in high fashion photographing me with their camera phones whenever I approached the front of the stage. It made me feel cheap, like they were collecting me. By the end of the show the audience had flooded the stage and I couldn't see any of the guys in the band. When I left, Josh was still playing and there was a swarm of people standing all around him, staring. When I got back to the bus this really heavy kid handed me a really heavy book of his poetry through the window, and it filled me with a sense of useless responsibility.
Whoa, we are playing three sold-out nights in Edmonton. The last time we played here was at the Starlight, too, but it was just one sold-out night. I remember being so exhausted that I was still asleep in bed at the hotel across the street 10 minutes before we were going to play. I put on my clothes and walked straight onto the stage. It ended up being a really nice state to perform in; the crowd was excellent. What's with the love in Edmonton? Whatever it is, it's reciprocal. We genuinely look forward to playing here. We always end up meeting really eccentric people before and after the shows. This time it was a lesbian bootlegger, among many others. On the afternoon of the first show, Joules and Jimmy were approached in a restaurant by a dad from Thunder Bay who had driven his young daughter to Edmonton to see the show, only to find there were no more tickets available. The guys gave him guest-list spots and watched him tell his daughter the good news. It sounds stupid but it was heart-warming. In the end we're just a bunch of saps, so we all felt good about the world turning, knowing those two were in the audience the first night. Of all three nights the second night was the most unhinged, the night we debuted "The Police and the Private" in the encore. Judging from the response, quite a few people had been waiting to hear that one live. We had time to rehearse it in sound check and it sounded pretty good I think, although they were all singing so loudly it was hard to tell. By the end of the third show we're ready to hit the road again, got to keep moving before any of our chance encounters develop into real relationships. On the last night we stick around for a little while to catch Tangiers and The Deadly Snakes. It turns out they're playing in the downstairs bar. I catch a few songs, give them vitamins and leave without saying goodbye.
Woke up when we pulled up in front of the Wall Centre Hotel this morning. We get two days off the bus in a nice hotel to prepare ourselves for the next three-week leg of the tour. Walked around in the rain drinking coffee. Everyone we talk to is freaking out about the two sold-out shows in one day, and the CBC wants to follow us around to capture our emotions. On the show day, our sound check is at noon; it feels really strange being under the lights that early. The Commodore is a world-class venue — on par with the 9:30 Club (13) in D.C. — so everything goes really smoothly. The first show, the all-ages one, is at 5:15. Backstage, we can hear these kids going nuts and I'm reminded of when we played here with Death From Above 1979 last year, seeing this girl leaving the room at the end of the concert, carrying a trash can in front of her, walking and vomiting. When she got to the merch table by the exit, she started browsing for T-shirts between retches. Somehow she missed her bucket and vomited all over DFA's posters. Jesse (14) complained of smelling onions under his fingernails for the next three days. Ahhh! It's so hard to picture him standing at the merch table now, we've seen ads for their huge stadium tour everywhere.... Anyway, I tell myself Metric fans know how to keep it together, knowing it isn't true, they're crazy ... we walk out on stage and they lose it! They know all the words to the songs, and sing along at top volume, right off the top of "Empty." We're aware that for many, this is their first concert ever, and we take it seriously. This is education! At the second show the crowd is just as responsive but in a more thoughtful way — it's amazing how clear the difference is between all-ages shows and older crowds. The younger kids are still capable of forgetting themselves without getting wasted. They're with all their friends having the time of their lives, and they let us know. To their credit, they also let us know if they think we suck, which is why we respect them, and value their loyalty.
I feel like older listeners are more attentive, and we can convey to them some of the darker themes that come in and out of the music. People always ask us to compare our Canadian audiences to our U.S. ones, but the differences lie more in the age group than the citizenship. The kids who showed up in Vancouver had the same explosive energy as the ones who showed up in Philly. And after the show, they asked me similar questions designed, it seems to me, to determine whether I am a fake or not. When they find out I'm real, they give me sweaty hugs and tell me about their own bands and art projects. The older crowds, they're our peers, and we all have more on our minds, more responsibilities and concerns. I know when I go to shows, for instance, I rarely move around at all, especially when I'm really listening to the music. Metric, still on the road, play the Big Fish Sports Pub in Tempe, Ariz. tomorrow night. Their North American tour ends this month in Florida; then they pack for Europe.
Singer Sings A Different Tune
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 8, 2005) Sel’sum Records artist, Tré a/k/a Lil’ Tré, is still hitting em’ hard on the Billboard charts, in the record stores and on stage as he continues to make big strides on all three fronts. His second single release, “Baby Girl,” from the forthcoming CD “Music In Me,” is proving to be the right follow up to his first single release “That Girl.” According to the October 29, 2005 issue of Billboard Magazine, “Baby Girl,” Tré’s second single debuts on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Single Sales charts in the #47 position, while “That Girl,” still remains on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Single Sales charts at #34 and on the Top 100 Single Sales at #22 after 17 weeks. Tré, who has opened shows for teen acts B5, Mario, Marcus Houston and headlined at New York’s Apollo Theater at the onset of summer 2005, also met and took photos with Bow Wow (who he has strongly admired for years) as he continues to tour throughout various cities all over the US Having performed on the Coca Cola sponsored “Summer Jam” earlier this year and most recently completing performances on the Health Jam Edutainment tour (which consisted of high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York) among other live performances, to more than enthusiastic and welcoming audiences. In addition, he continues to make in-store appearances at countless record stores and radio stations throughout the country. Naturally gifted, this pre-teen sensation has a show business background, as his father “Simply” is a songwriter/producer; while his mother Tangela heads the label for which he records. Since first appearing on the national music scene (only a few short months ago), Tré has been featured on many entertainment websites and in various international newspapers and magazines including on-going issues of Word UP Magazine. He continues selling out records at the FYE and other record store chains with both single releases. In an interview Tré was asked, “How do you feel about the success you’re having? Tré responds, “Ah! Well, I am getting to do the things I never did before, I get to live out my dreams. Also I get to meet a whole bunch of good people; this is really a great experience for me!” Check out Tré: www.itstre.net
Lauper's New Acoustic Album Released
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic
(Nov. 8, 2005) After all these years, you'd think Cyndi Lauper would want to run screaming from "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," but 25 years in show business teaches you a thing or two about giving the people what they want. Thus, while the former queen of kooky '80s pop is trying once again to sell the record-buying public her serious side on her new "unplugged" album, The Body Acoustic — which arrives in stores today — she's graciously meeting her past halfway for the benefit of lapsed fans who haven't picked up a Cyndi Lauper disc since 1984's classic She's So Unusual or 1986's True Colors. The Body Acoustic is a curious mish-mash of acoustic versions of such Lauper standards as "She Bop," "Time After Time" and, yes, "Girls," lesser-known ditties from the half-dozen other records she's released over the past two decades and a couple of melancholy newer tunes that haven't yet found a home in her catalogue. The acoustic retrospective is a gambit employed recently by slightly under-the-radar stars from Alanis Morissette to Def Leppard to try to renew interest in their doings, but Lauper has actually been doing this sort of thing on and off for years. And besides, no one believes her when she tells them she plays and writes on the dulcimer, so she wanted to show the world the goods in recorded form. "I don't play anything well. I just like to play. It's about timing and texture and just the sound," says the Long Island-accented Lauper, still striking at 52, during a recent promotional visit to Toronto. "I would do these benefits and, when you're doing benefits, you gotta keep the price down, so after a while I had a whole acoustic set down.... "Somebody finally said, `Why don't you make an acoustic record?' And I thought, yeah: `William Shatner sings, Cyndi Lauper plays dulcimer.'" Mercifully, the Shatner idea never came to fruition, but Lauper's idea to "have a party" with The Body Acoustic did mean a ragtag assortment of guest vocalists — Ani DiFranco, Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara, Japanese pop duo Puffi Ami Yumi (recruited for the record's giddy ska version of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun") and, er, Shaggy — joined her in the studio while she revisited her songbook. The scene-stealers, however, are Jeff Beck, who contributes a rather lovely new ballad called "Above the Clouds" for Lauper to sing, and Sarah McLachlan, whose gossamer voice blends nicely with Lauper's more weathered rasp on two songs, "Time After Time" and the newer "Water's Edge."
"Sarah McLachlan sings like an angel," says Lauper. "And to hear her sing `Time After Time,' even I'm in awe. You know, I was, like: `Holy cow! I've heard this song a million times and I've heard a million people cover it, but oh, my god, she sings like an angel.'" Although "Time After Time" has never really left the public consciousness, the new duet has been garnering strong radio play in the weeks leading up to The Body Acoustic's release today ("They just replaced the old version with the new one," laughs Lauper), suggesting the singer's overdue return to the spotlight may be at hand. She next graces Toronto with a gig at Massey Hall on Dec. 6. "The record is starting to go on its own, so that's good. I knew how audiences received them, so I knew it would work," shrugs Lauper, a devoted mom and sometime women's and gay rights activist who's not all that interested in returning to a She's So Unusual-era level of notoriety, anyway. "I have an interesting career and an interesting life. I can be free. I don't have this hysteria around me. I can just be, like, one of the guys, which is fantastic. I get to walk around. I get to do what I want, and that helps me to write."
An Operatic Ending?
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Everett-Green
(Nov. 5, 2005) The restaurant is about to close, and one of its most treasured customers appears at the door. Do they turn him away? No. The cooks get back into apron and do their best work of the day, just because they don't have to. That's roughly the story behind EMI's new studio recording of Tristan und Isolde, with Placido Domingo singing a heroic tenor role he has always wanted to do. The three-CD set wasn't even in stores when the company announced that it was finished with big-ticket studio opera recordings (this one cost over $1-million), implying that even this one wouldn't have happened if Domingo hadn't been so keen. That's the way it should work, isn't it? A great musician wants to record something, and it gets done, in the nick of time by everyone's clock. Domingo turned 64 while this recording was being put together. He's talking about retiring from singing by 2008, and has no plans to play Tristan in a theatre, so this was the only way to get his performance on disc. EMI has cloaked itself in history's mantle, saying that it's just fulfilling its obligation (ethical, not commercial) to capture the last major part of Domingo's recorded legacy. Like most big classical recording projects these days, the project was privately subsidized, in this case by an anonymous group of donors.
The Tristan set has cued a predictable chorus of hosannas and lamentations in the classical community. In this milieu, a piece of the sky falls every day, and the pleasure of a full Tristan from Domingo is balanced by the pain of knowing that the next Domingo may have a much tougher time getting into a studio with his big roles. The objects blocking the studio door are large and not easily movable. Classical recordings represent less than 2 per cent of CD sales, and while Wagner buffs aren't likely to be skimming free recordings of Isolde's Liebestod from the Internet, their numbers don't justify many more $1-million recordings. The bounty of the CD era, and of the cheap reissue of yesterday's great recordings, has already choked the marketplace. There are over 60 complete commercial recordings of Tristan alone. The new math of studio recording was an issue in the recent five-month strike by the musicians of l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, who objected to management's plan to revive the orchestra's stalled career on disc by switching to live sessions. In the end, management prevailed, albeit with a provision for studio dates in case something on the live tapes needs patching up. But before we all get out our handkerchiefs, what are we really losing? Is a studio recording, especially of a complete opera, so much better than a live performance captured on tape? Is an edited sequence of perfect takes worth all the losses in continuity and physical atmosphere? And is the studio recording really finished, or is its rumoured demise just clever promotion?
At the very least, EMI's declared abandonment of the form marks an important symbolic retreat. EMI was one of the earliest companies to make a sustained case for recording opera away from a public stage, with the leisure of retakes and multiple sessions (its new Tristan required 15 dates over eight weeks). The earliest classical recordings (mostly operatic, as it turned out) were made according to a snapshot principle: What you got was what the performer would normally do in a public performance. It was Walter Legge, EMI's main talent scout and producer in the postwar period, who pioneered the idea that recording should be a more ideal realization of the music than any concert could provide. "I wanted better results than are normally possible in public performance," Legge said. "I was determined to put onto disc the best that artists could do under the best possible circumstances." The prime examples of Legge's output in this line are his opera recordings with Maria Callas and Herbert von Karajan, and the Tristan he produced in 1952 with Wilhelm Furtwangler. Legge's like-minded rival John Culshaw spent seven years in the early sixties getting a dream cast together for the first stereo Ring cycle on Decca, and used sound effects and aural perspectives unlike anything available in an opera house. Cushaw's sound-stage innovations brought a whiff of Hollywood into classical-music production and prompted Glenn Gould to start thinking about recording in frankly cinematic terms.
"How would you design [a piece] for sound cameras?" he asked, while musing over the "long-shots, two-shots, dissolves, hard-cuts and jump-cuts" available with four microphones recording a single piano from different distances. Gould's enthusiasm for that kind of sonic design has few followers in the classical world, but his main point remains valid: Studio recording is to live recording as film is to theatre. To that extent, it's not really possible to say one is better than the other. A live opera recording measures so many things, including the performers' trajectory in their roles over two or three hours, their chemistry with each other that particular evening, and the influence that the physical enactment of the part has on the way they sing. Tristan lying on the stage, waiting for love and death to arrive, may sound quite different than the same singer sitting in front of a microphone in a cozy studio. The studio version may be more relaxed, but it won't necessarily be better music drama. Of course, a great singer-actor can inhabit a role wherever he needs to. Domingo's invisible Tristan is a compelling one, full of power and subtlety, and sung in a warm, ringing voice that sounds several years younger than 64. Domingo reclaims and emphasizes his role's lyrical qualities, with his Italianate sense of line and vocal production. Swedish soprano Nina Stemme makes a very satisfying Isolde, who can be emotionally engaging even when confronting something as abstract as the power of Frau Minne (Wagner's ponderous name for the spirit of Love). The lovers' grand duet in Act II is a showpiece of intelligent feeling and sensitivity, and of terrific singing ability.
Conductor Antonio Pappano is a nimble accompanist with a good sense of the great arcs of sound and form this piece describes. But he and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, are somewhat constrained by the boxy, retro-stereo sound of this recording. In that central duet, for instance, you really can't hear the offbeat internal rhythms in the strings, with which Wagner subtly stokes the dramatic tension. In other scenes, however, the subdued plenitude of the orchestra achieves in music the kind of dream-like, intoxicated effect Wagner attributes to the potion in Brangane's goblet. René Pape's King Marke is all majesty and eloquent injury, and Mihoko Fujimura works out Brangane's crisis of conscious in three vivid dimensions. It's a measure of this project's high ambition that Archiv hired two hot young tenors for minor roles: Rolando Villazon for the Steersman, and Ian Bostridge for the Young Sailor. In sum, the Tristan box (which includes a Surround Sound version on a video-less DVD) is a good last outing for EMI, if this is truly its final studio opera. No doubt there are a lot of live recordings yet to come, many of them on DVD, though the problems of opera on the small screen (including outsized gestures and stage blocking as if for Cinerama) still haven't been solved. But I'm not convinced, on the studio side that never means never. Archiv, a label owned by EMI's rival Universal, said nothing about last call when it released the first complete studio recording of Handel's Rodelinda last summer, with a fine cast and an exceptionally knowledgeable conductor, Alan Curtis. Typically, it was a co-production with an Italian music festival. It's hard to imagine that an equally exciting project, involving the next Domingo or his equivalent, would prompt EMI to barricade its front door. My guess is that the company would rediscover the entrepreneurial drive of Walter Legge and get those microphones working again.
Maestro Pinchas Zukerman: Conducting
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Colin Eatock
(Nov. 5, 2005) LONDON -- Over coffee in a hotel just off London's posh Knightsbridge Street, violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman is quick to proclaim his loyalty to his adopted home of Ottawa. "Did you hear the score of the hockey game yesterday?" he asks as he sits down to a cappuccino. "The Senators beat Toronto 8 to 0! I watched the highlights on the Internet. It was great!" Last Saturday, even as the Maple Leafs were taking a drubbing in Toronto, Zukerman was playing a recital in Birmingham, about 200 kilometres north of London, with his piano accompanist of three decades, Marc Neikrug. There, an appreciative audience listened to a program of Bach, Shostakovich, Mozart and Brahms, played on both violin and viola. This was his first recital in a whirlwind European tour that has been taking him this week to Munich , London, Paris, Edinburgh, Milan, Sardinia, Naples and Bologna. In Canada, the 57-year-old Zukerman is first and foremost the music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, which he's conducted for eight years. It's a position that's made him known across the country, as the Ottawa-based ensemble tours frequently. In fact, on Wednesday -- just two days after his last recital in Italy -- he'll be in Western Canada, to kick off a tour that will take his orchestra to Saskatoon and Regina, and the Albertan of cities Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Banff. But away from Ottawa and his orchestra, there's another Zukerman: a concert soloist with an international career. Years before he first led the NACO -- even before there was a NACO to lead -- "Pinky" was a prodigious Israeli teenager, studying at New York's Juilliard School. Back in the early 1960s, he played his first recital, although today he has trouble recalling just when and where it took place.
"My first formal recital?" he muses. "It must have been when I was 15 or 16, I suppose. When I was studying in New York I played for different occasions, for benefits and things like that. So it would have been in the United States." In 1967, Zukerman won the prestigious Leventritt Competition and also filled in for an ailing Isaac Stern on a series of concerts across the U.S. He was associated with other Stern protégés -- violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Daniel Baren-boim, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and conductor Zubin Mehta (the so-called "Kosher Nostra") and won back-to-back Grammy awards in 1981 and 1982. (He's made more than 100 recordings.) In 1980, he got into conducting in a serious way when he assumed the directorship of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota. In 1998, he moved to Ottawa, where he now spends about half of the year, conducting, performing and also running the National Arts Centre's Summer Music Institute. However, in the cosmopolitan, highly centralized world of classical music, both St. Paul and Ottawa are small dots on the edge of the map. "When I went to Minnesota," he recalls with a smile, "people said, 'Where's St. Paul?' And when I first went to Canada they said, 'Where's Ottawa?' I told them that it was near Montreal -- and that it happens to be the capital city." He may well have paid a price for his years in the hinterland: Today he's probably one of the less-prominent members of the circle that once gathered around Stern. Others, such as Barenboim and Ma, have had bigger careers, and a greater share of the limelight. Last year, when Zukerman played at London's BBC Proms concerts, a critic for The Sunday Mail praised his "rapt, intense playing," but then remarked: "Thirty years ago, Zukerman was one of music's brightest stars. He's faded a bit since then, though on this evidence, it's hard to know why."
"I think I'm playing pretty well," he states bluntly. "It's not my problem if that's the way I'm perceived. I'm playing more, and going to more places in the world." A much greater issue than his own career, in his opinion, is the state of classical music in the world today. "The recital audience has diminished greatly," he explains. "Last night there were only about 1,100 people in the hall, and I can remember when there would have been twice as many. We've lost a whole generation of listeners." The situation may be bleak, but, as Zukerman sees it, it's not hopeless. He has a plan -- and central to it is music education. "I hope we can bring back music as a compulsory subject in schools, as it is in the Far East. Because we know that if someone studies music very early in life, that person is better at everything they do." Commendably, he backs his words with action, and has made education a high priority at the NACO. "We work with about 60,000 kids a year, both in Ottawa and around the country," he says with pride. "A lot of these kids are first nations and they're talented in many ways. It will bear fruit, four or five years from now. The next step is to get to the teachers, and give them a better sense of how to work with kids. That's difficult, there are a lot of turf problems there and they're afraid. They think I'm going to take their job!" For information on the NACO Western Canadian tour, see http://www.nac-cna.ca
A Dare To Be Different
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - William Littler
(Nov. 5, 2005) More than half a century ago, the distinguished composer-critic Virgil Thomson heated up the pages of the New York Herald Tribune by declaring "the civically supported symphony orchestra is the most conservative institution in the Western world. Churches, even banks, are more open to experiment." Much has changed over the ensuing decades, not least in the way symphony orchestras operate. Conductors have lost some of their power, players have increased theirs, and the relationship with the audience has democratized considerably. What has not changed nearly so much is the symphony orchestra's approach to its repertoire. It remains conservative, not only by Virgil Thomson's standards but even by those of half a century earlier. On a wall of my study otherwise devoted to bulging shelves of scores resides a framed Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra program for a concert presented Jan. 8, 1900. On that occasion, the legendary conductor Arthur Nikisch opened the program with Alexander Glazounov's then new Sixth Symphony and followed it with Camille Saint-Saëns' Third Violin Concerto (the equally legendary Eugène Ysaye was soloist) and Heinrich Hoffmann's Irrlichter und Kobolde (Will-o'-the-wisp and Goblins), before Ysaye returned for a couple of solos by Bach and Beethoven and the evening concluded with three excerpts from Hector Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust. Talk about variety! Talk about novelty! Talk about broadening the audience's listening experience! The Berlin Philharmonic of today would be hard-pressed to come up with a less hackneyed program.
Perhaps unfairly, Virgil Thomson used to characterize the standard symphonic repertoire as The Fifty Pieces. Although the active list may be longer now, mainstream musical organizations in general and symphony orchestras in particular still prefer — allegedly for box office reasons — to comfort their listeners with the familiar rather than challenge them with the new. Choirs sometimes represent an honourable exception to this generalization. Robert Cooper, whose Orpheus Choir opens its season tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Metropolitan United Church, recalls a music conference he attended at which the late Toronto composer Harry Somers praised the choral community for leading the way in championing new repertoire. It isn't so easy to find orchestral conductors equally willing to venture regularly into audience terra incognita, although Errol Gay, music director of Orchestra Toronto, opened his season at the Toronto Centre for the Arts a couple of weeks ago with a far from hackneyed program conducted by Joaquin Valdepeñas featuring Felix Mendelssohn's seldom-played Fair Melusine Overture and Bernard Herrmann's even less familiar Macabre Concerto. Herrmann, you may recall, was the composer of the scores for several of Alfred Hitchcock's films, including Hangover Square (1947), from which he drew the musical ideas for this piano concerto. Gay discovered the concerto in the repertoire of Sara Buechner, a pianist on the faculty of the University of British Columbia. Buechner not only flew to Toronto to perform the work with Gay's orchestra, she considers it "an important piece," ignored by her colleagues in part because of its association with a film composer. Buechner doesn't ignore the standard repertoire. Her next Ontario appearance, with Orchestra London in January, will be as soloist under Mario Bernardi's direction in Mozart's Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503. What differentiates her from so many of her colleagues is the curiosity to explore and share with her listeners so much of the non-standard repertoire.
There are, of course, artists and ensembles who specialize in taking the path less travelled. Alex Pauk's Esprit Orchestra recently won the first Vida Peene Prize for its championing of contemporary Canadian music, and the Royal Conservatory of Music's ARC Ensemble is currently preparing an entire program of chamber music by the virtually unknown (in Canada) Dutch composer Julius Röntgen, to be presented Thursday at the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio. Neither Esprit nor ARC presumes to be offering competition to Beethoven. But does that invalidate its concerts? Does constant repetition of the acknowledged masterpieces have to crowd out the works of lesser composers with interesting things to say? Repetition tends to stifle curiosity and it is curiosity that needs to be encouraged in the listening public if our concert halls are to be more than museums to past greatness. It may not be time to resurrect Heinrich Hoffmann's Irrlichter und Kobolde. But it should be interesting to encounter the music of Julius Röntgen, whose program note for the Glenn Gould concert states that "our obsession with finding new stars, rather than discovering new repertoire, means that additions (or replacements) to the firmament usually record yet one more version of a stock work, which is typically lavishly marketed and promoted with live concerts that further narrow repertoire choice."
There are, to be sure, encouraging signs that the classical record market, now saturated with multiple versions of "stock" works, is recording more non-standard repertoire, with Naxos and its affiliated label Marco Polo leading the way. In the concert hall, however, there are still too few Sara Buechners and Alex Pauks. For every concert pianist like Buechner with a taste for exploration, there are dozens with an appetite for repetition. For every orchestra like Esprit with the imagination to program the sounds of our time, there are dozens stuck on tired overture, concerto plus standard symphony formatting. Surely it isn't asking too much of our musical institutions and artists to do a little more repertoire research. You never know what they might find, even at the movies.
Canada's Newest Awards Honour Folk Musicians
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Nov. 5, 2005) Toronto -- There are jazz awards, urban-music awards, blues awards and even Canadian indie awards. Now folk musicians are celebrating with their very own party. Cape Breton's Gordie Sampson, Winnipeg's Nathan and Vancouver's Clumsy Lovers are among the acts nominated for the inaugural Canadian Folk Music Awards. Organized by a group of folk enthusiasts, the awards hope to find some mainstream attention for the growing community. "It's long overdue," said musician Grit Laskin, who is helping organize the awards. Organizers received 306 submissions. The trophies will be distributed on Dec. 10 in Ottawa. CP
Barry Shiffman Becomes Banff Music Director
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Nov. 7, 2005) Banff -- Escalating an association that has extended his entire career, violinist Barry Shiffman was appointed director of music programs at the Banff Centre. Shiffman co-founded the acclaimed St. Lawrence String Quartet, a Canadian ensemble that first gained national attention in 1992 as winners of the first Banff String Quartet Competition. Following that achievement, he returned to the arts and cultural facility as a member of the music faculty on several occasions. Shiffman, currently on a European tour with the quartet, joins the Banff Centre as a consultant, taking up his director's position on a full-time basis in September, 2006. Staff
McLachlan Gives Tour Set To Yukon Music Fest
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Nov. 5, 2005) Whitehorse -- Yukon's annual Blue Feather Music Festival is getting a boost from high-wattage Canadian star Sarah McLachlan. The Vancouver-based singer is donating much of the $400,000 set from her recently completed Afterglow tour to the festival society. The set arrived in Whitehorse earlier this week. CP
Jigga Buying The Source?
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 7, 2005) *Women’s Wear Daily is reporting that Jay-Z has expressed interest in buying The Source magazine. The famed hip hop publication has been crippled with money problems and faces legal action from its landlord and major financial backer for failure to pay rent and loans. Jay, born Shawn Carter, would likely team up in the bid with two top music executives, Warner Music Group's Lyor Cohen and Interscope's Steve Stoute, according to two former employees of the magazine and a source at Def Jam records. It's unclear whether they would try to acquire the magazine directly from owners David Mays and Ray "Benzino" Scott, or try to buy out the $16 million in debt claimed by Textron Financial Corp., The Source's biggest creditor, in hopes of taking control in the event of a bankruptcy proceeding. A rep for The Source declined to comment on specific parties interested in buying The Source, but said, "Dave and Ray own 82 percent of The Source. Anybody who would want to make a deal would have to come to them." Harris Publications, the owner of XXL, is also rumoured to be interested in acquiring the troubled magazine.
Jackson Soon To Wrap Up His Katrina Relief Song
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Nov. 5, 2005) Los Angeles -- Michael Jackson is close to completing his charity single for Hurricane Katrina relief and hopes to release the song this month, his spokeswoman says. From his new base in the Middle East, Jackson has been working through global satellite and phone connections with the 12 recording artists who are participating, the spokeswoman said. "All that remains is for two or three more artists to do their tracks, and Michael will then add his vocals," she added. Last week, Jackson co-ordinated recording sessions with artists who were visiting Los Angeles for the Black Entertainment Television awards and went to studios to record their parts. Meredith O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for rapper Snoop Dogg, and Sonia Muckle, who represents singer R. Kelly, said those artists have participated in the recording sessions. AP
Robbie Williams: Brit King Of The New Millennium
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Nov. 7, 2005) London -- Robbie Williams claimed the title of Britain's biggest-selling pop act of the still-very-young 21st century, selling 6.3 million albums since 2000. The heartthrob, who clinched the best male performer prize at the MTV Europe Music Awards last week, is currently riding high atop the British album charts with his sixth studio solo effort, Intensive Care. Chris Martin's band Coldplay was close behind with 6.2 million for their three albums, all released since the start of the millennium. Singer-songwriter Dido held third place, having notched up 5.7 million sales for her two albums in the last five years, followed by rapper Eminen with 4.7 million albums and Westlife with 4.2 million. AFP
New R&B Sensation Na'sha Makes Moves
Source: Ben-David Fenwick, KSA Public Relations, email@example.com
(Nov. 7, 2005) MIAMI, FL - Up-and-coming R&B sensation Na'sha (pronounced Nay-sha) will be featured in the soon to be released Lion's Gate film In The Mix. She has contributed two songs - "Fire" and "Saturday" - for the romantic comedy that features Usher in his first starring role. The movie bows nationally November 23rd. Na'sha made her national solo television debut on Soul Train last Saturday, November 5th. She performed her first single "Fire," an ode to the dance floor and the party atmosphere her music inspires. Blending R&B, hip hop and outright soul, Na'sha is turning heads with her September 20th debut release My Story on Miami-based Pure Records. The fifteen-track ride, 14 of which were penned by Na'sha, is called "stunning- a seamless assimilation of 30 years of pop, R&B, gospel & soul," by the Miami New Times. My Story brings out a cast of all-star talent. The album is produced by an array of hitmakers including Grammy Award winners Scott Storch (Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Terror Squad) & James Poyser (Common, Jill Scott, Leela James), Sting International (Shaggy) and R&G Productions. Na'sha is joined by Shaggy on the sexy track "What U Waiting 4" and features Cash Money alum B.G. on "No Good." The lead track "Get To Go Home" was co-written with newcomer Ne-Yo. Na'sha made her national television debut with Shaggy on The Tonight Show on September 23rd filling in for Olivia on Shaggy's latest single "Wild 2Nite." www.na-sha.com; www.purerecords.com
Richie Spice Hits The Billboard Charts
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson
(Nov. 7, 2005) Fifth Element recording artiste Richie Spice who has been enjoying a good measure of success since his Earth a Run Red single catapulted him into the spotlight, scores his first entry on the US Billboard charts. His single Youth Are So Cold produced by Bobby Konders’ Massive B label, debuted at number 66 on the R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart last week. This week the single moves up to number 65. Youth Are So Cold is the second Billboard R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart entry for the Massive B label. Last year the imprint scored a hit with Gal Yuh a Lead which was recorded by TOK. That song stalled at number 36 on the R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks tally. Spice, who released his most recent album Spice In Your Life late last year, recently topped the charts with Righteous Youths and Operation Kingfish. Macka Diamond teams up with soca artiste Denise Belfon for What Girls Like. The Hard Hitter rhythm produced by Katana House Records (KHR) an independent label based in the UK, gets the attention it craves with the collaboration What Girls Like recorded by Macka Diamond and soca artiste Denise Belfon. The song is featured on the Hard Hitter rhythm. The hard hitter rhythm is described as a combination of soca, dancehall and UK Grime. It was produced by "JA Katana" and co-produced by arranger, producer and engineer Kenny Phillips. In a recent interview on Synergy TV (Trinidad and Tobago's music channel) Macka Diamond was asked what the feeling was like working with a top soca artiste such as Belfon. She told the interviewer ‘I think she's a very strong woman and she has a vibe, it's like, same as mine, its fun. I think it will really go far because women are really getting their fair share all over in dancehall and calypso. I think it's going to do well". Belfon was asked the same question regarding Macka Diamond and her response was ‘People were asking me why you doing stuff with Jamaican artists and outside people, why you don't do stuff with your own local artists and stuff? I believe that in order for any music to go anywhere you must fuse and you must come together, put your culture and my culture together to make something a big culture than none, so that’s why were here today’.
Phil Collins Opens Door To Genesis Reunion
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Nov. 8, 2005) Jerusalem -- Phil Collins says he's open to the idea of a Genesis reunion. Nothing has been announced, but the 54-year-old British singer, who is touring the Middle East, says: "There's a possibility. I'm open for it. If it doesn't happen, it won't be because we don't want to. It will just be because there are too many things in the way." Genesis formed in 1967, performing for more than 30 years before disbanding in 1998. Collins fronted the band after lead singer Gabriel left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. Collins went solo in 1996. "We're all still good friends . . .," Collins said. AP
More ‘Emancipation’ For Mimi
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 8, 2005) *Mariah Carey’s album “The Emancipation of Mimi” will be repackaged with four new songs and the phrase “Ultra Platinum Edition” added to the title for a re-release on Nov. 15. “The Emancipation of Mimi -- Ultra Platinum Edition” includes the single "Don't Forget About Us," co-produced by Jermaine Dupri; a remix of "We Belong Together," featuring Jadakiss and Styles P.; the Twista collaboration "So Lonely (One and Only Part 2)," with a new verse by Carey; and the midtempo "Making It Last All Night (What It Do)" featuring Dupri. "We came up with a couple of songs that I wanted to put out," says Antonio "LA" Reid, chairman of Carey's label, Island Def Jam. "My idea was to continue to create demand for the music." A limited-edition version of the album is also available with a bonus DVD of videos. The revamped ‘Mimi” is the latest in a long line of Extreme Makeover – Album Editions undergone by the likes of 50 Cent, Nelly and a number of rock acts, including The Killers, and in the coming weeks, Elton John and Beck. The move to get more mileage from existing albums reflects the music industry’s emphasis on earning quick sales boosts as CD sales have been dropping steadily for the past several years. 50 Cent’s re-release of “The Massacre” pushed the set from No. 35 to No. 2 on the Billboard Album Chart, but time will tell if Mariah Carey fans will have that must-have attitude toward her new and improved “Mimi.” Todd Cavanah, program director for Chicago's B96.3 which put Carey's new "Don't Forget About Us" into heavy rotation, told Rolling Stone: "If they can take an album that's been successful and add a couple of songs to it, there's a chance there's a Mariah Carey fan going, 'I've got to get this one too.’”
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 8, 2005) *Mary J. Blige’s next studio album, “The Breakthrough,” will arrive in stores on Dec. 20 via Geffen. Originally planned for release in February, the set will include the lead single “Be Without You,” a track originally tipped for inclusion on the greatest hits collection “Reminisce.” Geffen has again pushed back the release of “Reminisce” to next spring from previous release dates of Nov. 22 and Dec. 6. A video for “Be Without You” will be shot this week in Los Angeles.
Bootsy Funks Up The
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 9, 2005) *It’s not out of the ordinary for funk legend Bootsy Collins to dress up in an orange leather hat, jacket and wide-legged pants, but in this case, the colour scheme had a purpose. The famous 54-year-old bassist was dressed in Cincinnati Bengals colors Friday to shoot a music video for “Fear Da Tiger,” a tribute song to the 7-2 team that currently sits atop the AFC North. The song also features original raps from three Bengals players, Duane Clemons, Ben Wilkerson and Stacy Andrews. The video, scheduled to premiere during the Bengals' next home game on Nov. 20, will feature several players dancing with orange tackling dummies. Collins, who wore the jersey of quarterback Carson Palmer under his leather outfit, said he hopes the video will put the city in a positive light. "The Bengals are doing their part," he told AP. "I'm just trying to do mine."
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
ALANIS MORISSETTE The Collection (Maverick)
AZ, A.W.O.L. [Version 1.5], Fast Life Music
BEASTIE BOYS Solid Gold Hits (Capitol)
Big Boi, Got Purp, Vol. 2 [Clean], Virgin
Big Crime, Big Crime, EMI
Bob Marley, Africa Unite: The Singles Collection, Island
CHRIS BROWN Chris Brown (Jive)
Chubby Checker, K-Tel Greatest Hits, Brentwood
Conquest, Quezzy Baby, Sugar Water
CYNDI LAUPER The Body Acoustic (Epic)
Dem Rock, Ghetto Concerto, Centerline Music
Dionne Warwick, Prime Concerts: In Concert with Edmonton Symphony, Amalgamated
DJ Screw, 11-12-00, Screwed up Click
DJ Stack, Birth of a King, Universal Latino
FLOETRY Flo'Ology (Geffen)
JUELZ SANTANA What the Game's Been Missing (Def Jam)
Kanye West, Heard 'Em Say/Touch the Sky, Roc-A-Fella
KATE BUSH Aerial (Columbia)
Kool & the Gang, Live 40th Anniversary Greatest Hits, Nutech Digital
Lou Rawls, Prime Concerts: In Concert with Edmonton Symphony, Amalgamated
Martha Reeves, K-Tel Greatest Hits, Brentwood
Meli'sa Morgan, I Remember, Orpheus
Nelly, Grillz, Universal
Old School Players, Party Rap Hits, DM Music
Onry Ozzborn, In Between, Camo Bear
Public Enemy, Beats and Places, Koch
Roberta Flack, Prime Concerts: In Concert with Edmonton Symphony, Amalgamated
Smooth E, Kosher Kuts, Uproar
Talib Kweli, Talib Kweli, KR Urban
The Stylistics, The Very Best of and More, Amherst
TRAGICALLY HIP Hipeponymous (Box set) (Universal)
Twista, The Day After [Chopped and Screwed], Atlantic / Wea
Urban Mystic, It's You, Warner Bros.
VARIOUS ARTISTS Live 8 (DVD) (Capitol)
Various Artists, Come Together: A Soul/Jazz Tribute to The Beatles, Koch
Various Artists, Essential Hip Hop, Vol. 1, Tommy Boy
Various Artists, Solid Gold Soul [Solid Gold], Solid Gold
Various Artists, Street Level: The Mix Tape, Vol. 1, 40 West
Various Artists, Ultimate 16: Ultimate Reggae Rocks, Madacy
YOUNG BUCK T.I.P. (Mass Appeal)
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
2Pac, Words Never Die,
Beenie Man, Jamican Explosion,
BOB DYLAN The Very Best of Bob Dylan (Columbia)
Brown James, Plain Brown Rapper,
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN Born To Run 30th Anniversary Edition (Columbia)
D12, Live in Chicago,
Destiny's Child, Collectors Box,
Ginuwine, Back II da Basics,
GREEN DAY Bullet in a Bible (Reprise)
Kem, Album II [DualDisc],
Lil Jon, Unauthorized,
Luther Vandross, The Collection [Cube Version],
MADONNA Confessions On a Dancefloor (Maverick)
Mariah Carey, Maximum Mariah Carey,
Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi [Bonus Tracks],
Michael Franti, Live in Sydney,
Olivia, So Sexy,
PETER GABRIEL Still Growing Up: Peter Gabriel Live & Unwrapped (DVD) (Rhino)
Pharrell, In My Mind,
PHILOSOPHER KINGS Castles (Sony/BMG)
Pitbull, Money Is Still a Major Issue,
R. Kelly, Remix City Vol. 1,
R. Kelly, The Classic Remixes,
Ray J, One Wish,
REDMAN Red Gone Wild (Def Jam)
Redman, * Red Gone Wild,
Sean Paul, Temperature,
The Cleftones, Heart and Soul/For Sentimental Reasons [Collectables],
The Isley Brothers, The Collection: The Heat Is On/Go for Your Guns/Between the Sheets,
The Roots, Home Grown! Guide to Understanding the Roots, Vol. 1,
The Roots, Home Grown! Guide to Understanding the Roots, Vol. 2,
U2 U2//Vertigo//2005 Live from Chicago (DVD) (Interscope)
Various Artists, Reggaeton's Greatest Hits,
Vybz Kartel, J.M.T.,
Tonya Lee Williams to Receive ACTRA Award of Excellence
(Nov. 7, 2005) TORONTO – ACTRA will honour internationally recognized actor, producer, director, writer, and activist Tonya Lee Williams with an ACTRA Award of Excellence. Richard Hardacre, ACTRA’s National President, will present the award on November 15, 2005, at a special afternoon reception at the Canadian Residence of Alain Dudoit, Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles. Ms. Williams enjoyed a successful career in Canada before moving to Los Angeles in 1987 where she appeared on shows such as Hill Street Blues, Matlock, Gimme a Break, What's Happening Now, and movies including Disney’s The Liberators, A Very Brady Christmas, Spaced Invaders and Hearts of Fire. Ms. Williams is best known for her starring role as Dr. Olivia Winters on the daytime drama The Young and The Restless, which has earned her two NAACP Image Awards and two Emmy nominations.
In 2003, she founded the Toronto-based Wilbo Entertainment and produced the Tonya Lee Williams Gospel Jubilee, which aired on CBC and garnered a Gemini nomination. In 2004, Ms. Williams made her directorial debut and executive produced a pilot for Vision TV – Kink in my Hair, based on the nationally acclaimed play and picked up by Vision and CBC. Ms. Williams is a relentless activist with a deep commitment to building a stronger, more independent Canadian film and television industry that reflects the country’s rich diversity.
She is Founder and President of ReelWorld Film Festival and Foundation, and was recently appointed by Mayor David Miller to the Toronto Film Board. She has been an ACTRA member for 27 years and is an active member of ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee.
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is a national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community. ACTRA celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2003.
How To Melt A Parisian Ice Queen
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Simon Houpt
(Nov. 5, 2005) NEW YORK -- Isabelle Huppert is in the early stages of an interview when she is interrupted by an Isabelle Huppert moment. If the 52-year-old French actress is known for one thing it is this: Even when charting the most extreme experiences of the human psyche, she is almost impossibly impassive. Icy. "I think sometimes here in this country people like to think about European people being iced, or cold," she is saying now, in English, over the remains of her breakfast in the deserted salon of a Victorian-era townhouse hotel. Dressed in dark-blue corduroys, a colourful ribbed sweater and house slippers, with her radiant strawberry-blond hair framing cat's-eye glasses, she seems not very cold at all. She is chatty, even friendly, seeming at ease in her homey surroundings. The image of an ice queen, as she has been called, "is a bit of a caricature of the French woman. But of course it's true compared to the way of behaving which is very American, especially the way of acting. I can understand it seems iced, compared to the way most people are here: so much exteriorized and so much obvious, so much underlined." She continues. "I think that most of the time people in life don't express as much as we do on screen. They express less. People hide their feelings most of the time. And the camera allows you to be so minimalist, you know.
So you have to take advantage of that." She is about to expand on this thought when her eight-year-old son Angelo, a curly-blond-haired cherub in a smart blue dress shirt, mopes into the room and addresses her loudly, taking no notice that she is deep in conversation. He arrived yesterday at the beginning of a 10-day school break from Paris and is already bored. She tries to ignore him, but eventually gets up and escorts him back to the care of his nanny in another room, reminding him of her professional obligations and the exciting activities she has planned for him. She pads back in, but a moment later he follows, sullenly plopping himself down at the next table with his back to her and toggling away on a hand-held electronic game while trying to attract her attention. She takes this in stride and continues to articulate her approach to acting, betraying no sense of social disruption from Angelo's presence. As he needles her with cries of, "Maman! Maman!" like any dissatisfied eight-year-old, Huppert tries to explain that she is "very far and very close" when she acts. "It's very strange, you know? I'm very far out in my inner thoughts, but very close because I'm just inside myself."
Angelo yelps again, "Maman!" At which point the inside abruptly bursts out: She has had enough of his antics. Grabbing Angelo's arm, she yanks him out of the room. For perhaps three or four minutes, his frustrated screams are the only sound piercing the hotel's quiet first floor. When they finally subside, she slips back into the salon alone, flashes a beleaguered smile and offers a brief apology. By the time she sits down again, her face suggests nothing of what has just gone on. So is this the harsh manner of an ice queen or the pragmatic approach of a working mother? She picks up the thread of the conversation. "I was saying that I seem to be very much far out, and I think that's more or less how I am all throughout the interview." She stops, regroups from the apparent Freudian slip. "Um, throughout the show. Apparently disconnected." The show she is talking about is 4.48 Psychoses, which she had been performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and in which she is now appearing in Montreal at Usine-C theatre until Nov. 12. Toronto's Cinematheque Ontario is also in the midst of a 20-film retrospective of Huppert's career, and Vancouver's Pacific Cinematheque features a 13-film retrospective next month, both of which are excerpts of a 25-film program of her work currently showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
4.48 Psychoses is perhaps best known as the last full-length work of the British playwright Sarah Kane, who completed the play shortly before killing herself at age 28. It is a mesmerizing and non-linear near-monologue (Huppert shares the stage with a man who speaks on occasion and stays hidden behind a scrim), delivered in poetic shards, that captures the state of a suicidal mind. Under the direction of Claude Regy, the production at Usine-C features Huppert dressed in a tight blue T-shirt and black-leather pants, wearing little makeup, fists clenched at her side, standing in one spot at centre stage for the entire 100-minute running time. It is an extraordinary technical achievement. As the evening progresses, the inevitability of the character's horrible fate seems to crack Huppert down the middle, and she blinks away a tear or two, but remains fiercely clear-eyed. Despite being presented in French with very limited supertitles, the play all but sold out. The Cinematheque retrospective reminds us that many of her film characters exist on such a knife-edge that they, too, choose to kill themselves. "They all apparently have some difficulties in dealing with reality and life. They all miss something," she says after some thought. "In the end, one can say they have a very simple feeling of missing something about love, you know? Whether it's in Hedda Gabler or Psychoses." In 4.48 Psychoses, she plays a woman who might be clinically termed psychotic, but then she often plays characters who are easily labelled and, therefore, held at arm's length. She mentions her character in The Piano Teacher, the 2001 film in which she played a sado-masochistic music instructor still tied to her mother's apron strings who develops a violent relationship with a student.
"People always talk about the character being perverse, or manipulative, or whatever, and I'm sure that inside they feel something else. They relate more honestly to the character, more emotionally, but they don't want to accept it, so they prefer on the exterior to give this kind of definition," she suggests. "If they really believed what they said, they wouldn't go to see the film, do you know what I mean? I know that they related differently to the film but on a more unconscious and obscure way, so they can't really explain it so clearly. They do understand something is going underneath, I'm sure about that." At the curtain call of 4.48 Psychoses, Huppert appears utterly drained, as if she has spent 100 minutes donating blood. But she says the experience of acting in the play, as in acting in any of her films, has no lasting effect. "I just act for myself. Everything changes you, including acting, or nothing changes you, including acting, you know what I mean? "Sometimes acting can be an extension of what I am or what I feel, but it's more detached from me than one would think, you know. It's a personal statement, of course, because acting is mysterious, you play with your own psyche and body and emotions and what you are. "It's hard to explain, but it's also a detached exercise from yourself, and that's how it becomes a pleasure. It's like dancing or singing: You do it but you also have the pleasure of doing it." In time, the interview winds down, and Huppert excuses herself from the table. On the way out, she passes a sideboard still laden with a breakfast buffet. She reaches into a serving bowl and, snatching a clump of homemade granola, pops it into her mouth, looks back with a complicit, girlish expression, and pads off to the rest of the day.
Hot Actress Awaits Her Darcy
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Nov. 6, 2005) Keira Knightley is a firm believer in Austen Power. But you wouldn't expect anything different from the star of the new version of Pride and Prejudice, opening this Friday. "Jane Austen writes so brilliantly that you can just see the whole thing in your mind when you're reading it," enthused the 20-year-old actress during an interview at the recent Toronto International Film Festival. But could Knightley picture herself as Elizabeth Bennet? "I think everybody who reads and loves the book believes that they are Elizabeth Bennett, so my answer would be yes ... even though I'm probably not really like her at all." The fetching British starlet normally speaks rapidly, but when she starts describing the character she played in Joe Wright's version of the Austen classic, the words tumble over each other in sheer, unfettered enthusiasm. "Lizzie Bennet is everything that you want to be: really clever and really funny and really passionate, as well as everything that everybody actually is — making ridiculous mistakes and being hugely annoying and sometimes needing a really good shake." She pauses for breath, just for a second. "That's why she's such a loved character, because she's flawed and you identify with her." Another reason she says Ms. Bennet is so attractive to so many women is that she gets to fall in love with the initially infuriating, but ultimately dreamy, Mr. Darcy. "I think the reason Lizzie and Darcy are so romantic is that theirs is a story about mutual minds finding each other. You know that they'll argue and argue and argue but that the making up will be completely fantastic."
With that, she claps her hands with glee and falls back against the sofa in her hotel suite. The fresh-faced, doe-eyed lass has become such a recognizable star in recent times that it's hard to believe it was only 2003 when she burst onto the North American market as one of the soccer-crazed girls in Bend it Like Beckham. In a blink, she was on every screen — Pirates of the Caribbean, Love Actually, King Arthur — all before her 20th birthday. It's no wonder she recognizes one aspect of Lizzie Bennet in her personality. "Her journey throughout the film is that when you're young, you think you know absolutely everything, you've got all the answers. And then that one moment comes along when you realize you know absolutely nothing and the entire world shatters around you and you have to rebuild it. Oh, I can completely identify with that." The last statement calls for investigation. Has she ever known a Lizzie-Darcy kind of love? "Never," she says. "But I think that's what everybody wants." Knightley seems to have always known what she wants. The daughter of actor Will Knightley and playwright Sharman Macdonald, she asked her parents at the age of 3 if she could have an agent. They wisely waited until she was 9 to let her start making films on her summer holidays. Her first really notable part was her 1999 turn as Sabé, the Queen's Decoy, in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
But after Beckham broke big, everything changed and quickly. Knightley became the object of obsessive press interest, especially in the British tabloids. Every casual date was reported with a breathless hush or a gossipy whisper. She kicks her shoes off and loosens her tongue discussing the media pack. "Most of it is such bollocks that it seems like they're writing about someone else. It's not something I will play into. If you want to take a picture or write something, then that's your decision. It has nothing to do with me. "In my own head, my personal and my professional life are completely different. There is no crossover. You have to live to be able to act. You have to be able to make mistakes to be able to live." Suddenly, she leans forward eagerly as an idea strikes her. "I did The Crucible at school and there was one thing I couldn't understand. It was the point where John Proctor wouldn't sign and say he was a part of the witchcraft, because he kept insisting, `It's my name.' I used to think that was ridiculous. "But now I get it. When I read my name and something completely untruthful is attached to it, I get really fired up about it. I'm trying to learn how to cope with it all." She shrugs. "Just go with the flow."
From Toronto, she was heading off to finish the second and third instalments of The Pirates of the Caribbean, which were being filmed back to back. After the first film, she complained about not getting to do any swordplay. "But now," she beams, "I swash and buckle with the best of them." Thinking back on Pride and Prejudice, one of her favourite experiences was working opposite Judi Dench, who played the imperious gorgon, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. "I had the best day doing our scene," she chuckles wickedly, "because Judi was having trouble remembering her lines. When you're a young actress like me and you can't remember a line, you think you're so unprofessional you don't have a right to be in the business. "Then suddenly you see Dame Judi Dench, Oscar-winning f--king legend having trouble and you think, `Wow, this is okay. It's alright to fumble every now and then as long as you deliver the goods,' which she certainly does." Knightley gets a tiny bit misty as she thinks back on the Lizzie-Darcy pairing. "It's the ultimate romance, isn't it? The characters are so perfect because of their imperfections. That's why people have adored them and will continue to. "If you have a heart, you've got to love them."
Lost's Lilly Blossoms
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald
(Nov. 9, 2005) As budding actresses go, they don't get much greener than Evangeline Lilly. The tomboy/sexpot, who stars as the enigmatic Kate Austen on ABC's Lost, says she'd never had a "speaking" role before being asked by series co-creator J.J. Abrams to join the 48 other survivors of the doomed Oceanic Air flight 815. Lilly -- who was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and grew up in small-town British Columbia -- laughs that she was such an acting novice that she'd also never heard the word "pilot" (except, of course, the uniform-wearing kind who sit in cockpits). So when her agent suggested she do an audition tape for this new quirky show, she assumed "I didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell." But Lilly nailed it. Abrams, who had been looking for weeks for the ideal Kate, loved her freckles, her smart mouth and her drop-dead gorgeous looks. On a leap of faith that she would learn to act -- and fast -- he hired her. Overnight, the 26-year-old became a household name, recognized by fans everywhere as Kate, a fugitive on the lam, a girl who unwittingly caused the death of her teenage love, knocked off a bank, and likely has a whack more nefarious secrets up her sleeve. "I was flown down to L.A. to meet J.J. and the others two weeks before shooting the pilot was set to begin," says Lilly, speaking over the phone from the Lost set on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. "They were on such an incredible time squeeze. It was a whirlwind two or three days and a total head-spinning kind of experience," she adds. Her only other trip to California was years earlier on a family holiday to Disneyland.
Lilly got the definitive phone call shortly after, back home in her Vancouver apartment. "I started jumping around the room. But a part of me was terrified. When I decided to audition, I wasn't thinking I wanted this to be my life goal. I did it on a whim. The way I came to grips with it is that I told myself it was just a pilot -- not a lifetime commitment -- and if I hated it, I could just leave." Soon enough, it was goodbye to her days hanging out with her two sisters and close circle of friends. Lilly was a student at the time at the University of British Columbia, where she studied international relations. To pay the tuition, she waited tables at Earls, picked up the odd commercial (Lilly can still be caught on late-night TV as the face for a "fun" and "flirty" dating chat line called Livelinks), and worked as a lowly extra on Vancouver-shot TV shows such as Smallville, The L Word and films like White Chicks. She had no inkling that the desert-island drama would turn into a ratings phenomenon. "I remember Matthew [Fox, the former Party of Five alumnus who plays Lost's Dr. Jack Shephard] said it's going to be a Lord of the Rings type of thing, meaning it'll either completely bomb or it'll be huge," she recalls. "He predicted it would either go over everyone's head, or be the next big cult following. "I'm a pretty sceptical person and I'm a realistic person. In the early days, the buzz built around it, but I was still hesitant to wager on it. Even after the first show aired and we had 20 million viewers, I was still convinced it was just hype." But now Lost holds firmly to its status as a powerhouse. (In Canada, over 2 million viewers have tuned in this season.) Lilly figures the reason it resonates with viewers is this simple: "North America has been crying out for intelligent TV for so long. People were fed up with reality shows about midgets getting married and weird Jerry Springer talk shows. There had been a real dry spell of intelligent family-oriented viewing, the type of program that mom, dad and the kids can all watch together.
With Lost, there are just so many characters for people to invest in. So everyone can find at least one person they can relate to." The premise is unabashedly far-fetched: Four dozen survivors, all possibly connected to one another in some yet-unexplained way, roam an island full of deadly threats and secret hatches -- the origins of which are being gradually revealed. Lost fans hang on every twist, and in anticipation of tonight's episode, they're in a frenzy: The network let slip that one of the central characters is about to be killed. Such plot points, Lilly says, are a closely guarded secret; and she and her fellow actors only get a preview of the scripts shortly before they shoot each new episode. It's unlikely, though, that Kate will be the one to go down this evening. After all, it would be damn near impossible to fill her place on the island -- she's a gal who hikes and fights with the best of the guys, sweats profusely but never looks too mussed, helped deliver a baby in the middle of the jungle, and at the end of a tough day, can emerge from the ocean's froth in a teeny bikini that leaves male viewers weak-kneed. (Lilly, who is rumoured to be dating her Lost co-star Dominic Monaghan, was voted second on Maxim Magazine's sexiest women in the world list.) Born Nicole Evangeline Lilly, the five-foot-five brunette was raised Baptist and Mennonite and moved with her family to Abbotsford, B.C., where she went to high school. After graduating, she says she worked for a "rinky dink" airline and later waitressed in Kelowna, B.C. It was in that picturesque town that a rep for the Ford modelling agency spotted her on the street and handed her a business card. Lilly pocketed it, and only pulled it out three years later when she was back at university finding it difficult to make monthly ends meet. She called the rep, who linked Lilly up with commercials and extra work, like playing a dead body in Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital. "I liked doing those things because I could hang out, do my homework, and basically get paid to study," she says. Relatively new to the whole celebrity thing, she says the only thing she misses about her old life is anonymity. "I was a very, intensely private person before this all began," she says. "I've never wanted to be famous, and I still don't. I don't really like it very much, but I know it's the price you have to pay to do the job I want to do."
The biggest perk? She laughs and says the money. She also now has the financial freedom to support missionary charities she could not have before. "I have some clout now, and I like that," says Lilly, who founded and ran a world-development and human-rights committee at UBC. She also browbeat Lost's cast and crew to start recycling. "I'm always biting people's heads off." With celebrity, you lose privacy, adds Lilly. "But you gain the means to have freedom and fun. "I've been able to do things with my friends and family that I'd never be able to do. Right now my sister's [in Hawaii] visiting me from Canada. My family isn't well off, and she would never have been able to come out to Hawaii on her own. To fly my sister out is a gift for myself."
Shania Doesn't Sing: Unauthorized Bio Misses The Real Story
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem
(Nov. 7, 2005) The most obvious flaws in the new CBC biopic, Shania: A Life in Eight Albums (tonight at 8) are contained within the title. For one thing, they are not real albums; they are chapter headings disguised as mock-up album covers, an awkward conceit undermined by the fact that portions of the life they attempt to describe are not up to such intense and intimate scrutiny. But then, this is not, strictly speaking, the life of "Shania" at all. The unauthorized TV biography tracks the tortuous rise of a precocious young singer and aspiring songwriter named Eileen (or "Elly" and, briefly, Sofia) Twain — she does not in fact even consider the switch to Shania (borrowed backstage from a costume seamstress) until the film's next-to-final act. And it ends just one phone call shy of the quintessential happy ending: the voice on the other end belonging to future producer and husband Mutt Lang. Of course, Eileen: A Life in Search of a Recording Contract does not have quite the same ring. Nor, for that matter, does A Life with Eight Men — if anything, as depicted here, the various phases of Twain's formative years are defined by whoever the nascent superstar happened to be sleeping with at the time. Now, these are admittedly fairly flippant observations, but they are close as I can come to explain why Shania is such a disappointment. What is it about this textbook rags-to-sequins story that defied even the celebrated skills of director Jerry Ciccoritti (the brilliant original Trudeau bio) and veteran series scribe Shelley Eriksen (Traders, Cold Squad)? The young Twain's early life was anything but uneventful and would certainly seem to have all the requirements of compelling biographical drama: the dirt-poor rural Ontario upbringing, the obsessive stage mom in a mixed-race marriage, the ambitious young talent aching to be taken seriously ... The rebellious digression into '80s headband pop, the false starts in Nashville, the first bad reviews in Toronto, the frustrating years as a back-row chorine at a northern resort ...
And then, of course, the life-shattering family tragedy that brought her back home to regroup and re-embrace her roots. And yet, only 24 hours after screening Shania, the only thing that really sticks in my mind is the endless succession of really bad wigs. That, and the nuanced performance of former moppet Megan Follows as Twain's loving, if troubled, mom, who does not get nearly enough time on screen — herein lies a TV movie unto itself, at least as viable as the Walter Gretzky bio that ran in the same CBC time slot last night. But then, this is Shania's story, or rather, Eileen's. I am anything but a fan, and could not name more than a couple Twain hits — but then, presumably because it is unauthorized, neither can A Life in Eight Albums. Instead, we must endure endless reprises of country classics like Hank Williams’ "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Of the three young actresses who portray her throughout her early life, the most evocatively Shania-like, at least to my untrained eye and ear, is the teenaged Shenae Grimes, sandwiched between the perky, precocious 8-year-old Reva Timbers and the 21-year-old Meredith Henderson, who I found myself unable to separate from her 13-year-old incarnation as TV's sleuthing Shirley Holmes. To their shared credit, and that of pre-eminent local vocal coach Elaine Overholt, all three girls do all their own singing, something even the real Shania herself would likely find a daunting challenge.
Gloves Come Off In Live West Wing Debate
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Frazier Moore, Associated Press
(Nov. 7, 2005) New York — Who won the debate? That was up to each viewer of The West Wing to decide. No pundits came on afterward to spin the results. But this fictional face-off Sunday night had everything else, including a wishful vision of what a presidential debate might look like if its participants were willing to take off the gloves. In this live episode of NBC's The West Wing, make-believe Republican candidate Arnold Vinick startled his pretend Democratic rival, Matt Santos, by suggesting at the outset that their carefully negotiated rules of engagement be thrown out. “When the greatest hero in the history of my party, Abraham Lincoln, debated, he didn't need any rules,” declared Vinick (played by Alan Alda). “We could junk the rules.” “OK, let's have a real debate,” said Santos (Jimmy Smits). However unlikely it might be that political opponents would agree to such a high-risk, no-holds-barred format, the trappings of the debate sure looked real enough: In their dark business suits, both candidates were stationed at lecterns in front of the customary blue background (that is, until midway through the hour, when both men called for hand microphones so they could roam the stage). To add to the realistic feel, real-life TV news veteran Forrest Sawyer was on hand to moderate. His first question went to Vinick: “What would you do to seal the Mexican border [to illegal immigration]?” “Enforcement first, that's my policy,” said the California senator. “I would double the border patrol.” “I don't know how you're going to find room in the budget to double the border patrol with the tax cut you're proposing,” fired back Santos, a Texas congressman. A bit later, Santos promised a million jobs would be created in his first term.
“How many jobs will you create?” Sawyer asked Vinick. “None,” he replied. “Entrepreneurs create jobs. Business creates jobs. The president's job is to get out of the way.” Inevitably, the term “liberal” was contested, as well. “Republicans have tried to turn ‘liberal' into a bad word,” said Santos. “Well, liberals ended slavery in this country.” “A Republican president ended slavery,” Vinick retorted. “Yes, a LIBERAL Republican, Senator. What happened to THEM?” But there was much more to their give-and-take, which fell into a pattern of lively exchange, even heated confrontation -- the sort of telling clash that actual presidential debates never permit. It was substantial, at times downright wonkish, and a remarkable contrast to the choreographed, antiseptic real thing. The performance -- a blend of scripted dialogue and improvisation -- was repeated three hours later in another live airing for West Coast viewers. The actors and Sawyer pulled off the latter half of the double-header smoothly and without major glitches. This special episode was hyped as a signal event in the ongoing campaign to determine which candidate will inherit the White House from Democratic incumbent Jeb Bartlet (Martin Sheen), whose administration has been the centerpiece of The West Wing since the drama's premiere six years ago. Exactly when election day will take place has not been announced, although it is expected some time this season. And who will be the victor? Both Alda and Smits claim not to know their characters' fate, while the series' producers hint the outcome may not have been decided. As for viewers, they won't be able to cast their ballots. Even so, the Vinick-Santos presidential debate supplied a lot to think about for would-be voters in the audience, who, among other things, might have been left wondering: Why won't real candidates debate this way?
Dying Shows Come Back To Live
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail- By Scott Deveau
(Nov. 8, 2005) 'Terrified doesn't begin to describe it." That's how Alan Alda's character on The West Wing, Republican Senator Arnold Vinick, described the feeling he had before the presidential debate Sunday night. That must have been how the show's actors -- and producers -- felt themselves just before the show went live. In an effort to put an end to its long ratings slide, NBC's The West Wing went straight to air, following another flagging franchise, Will & Grace, which tried the same trick earlier this season. NBC hadn't used the gimmick since ER back in 1997, but, now as then, live TV is a sure-fire way to create buzz. And early numbers seem to prove that NBC execs knew what they were doing -- The West Wing had 9.6 million viewers in the United States, up from a season average of 8.2 million viewers. (Of course, the show lost one-third of its viewership when it moved from Wednesdays to Sundays at the start of this season.) The live episode admittedly was more interesting than most presidential debates. Both characters came out from behind their podiums and presented ideas that wouldn't fly in a real televised contest. But in the end, the debate, moderated by real-life journalist Forrest Sawyer, was essentially what you would expect from the show that lives out policies and strategies that are the antipode to the real-life White House. And, aside from a couple of stumbles, the episode, pitting Democratic hopeful Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) against conservative counterpart Vinick, went off seamlessly on both coasts. With the buzz and positive returns, it's no surprise that NBC isn't the only network to recognize live television's potential. ABC tried it for The Drew Carey Show in the late nineties. And last month, George Clooney, who was instrumental in ER's live broadcast, let slip that he was in talks with another network, CBS, to produce a live remake of the classic 1976 movie Network. The actor/director was publicizing his new film, Good Night, and Good Luck, about CBS anchor Edward Murrow's assault on the U.S. communist witch hunts in the 1950s, when he revealed his plans for the new project. Network is a natural for Clooney: A critical look at the underbelly of ratings-driven news, the film carries on where Good Night, and Good Luck left off. (The tale is even more relevant after the live West Wing -- the network used its "Live NBC News" logo at the bottom of the screen throughout the fictional debate.)
At the best of times, remaking a four-Oscar-winning classic is a risky venture; to do it as a made-for-TV movie would almost guarantee a flop. Almost certainly, CBS is gambling that the live broadcast will draw an audience that would not otherwise watch. While network officials say the project is still in its early stages, they feel that their previous venture into live remakes with Clooney was both a ratings and a critical success. In 2000, he produced and starred in a CBS live-to-air version of the 1960s classic Fail Safe, a Cold War tale about a U.S. bomber accidentally ordered to attack Moscow. While it's fair to say that the remake was weaker than the original, taking it live brought critical acclaim, along with two Emmys and several other award nominations. The executive producer and author of Sunday night's live The West Wing, Lawrence O'Donnell, says the reason people tune into these shows is simple: "The capacity to make gigantic mistakes right before your eyes is very real." Will & Grace certainly saw a ratings boost for its live premiere in September, which, like The West Wing on Sunday, was performed twice, once for each coast. The show's audience went up by 47 per cent in the U.S. and was 10 per cent over its season average in Canada. After a steady viewership decline, Will & Grace needed the attention -- in Canada, it was even bumped off Global's national line-up for its eighth and final season. In Ontario, it's been forced to compete on an affiliate station, CH, against its replacement, Survivor: Guatemala. NBC spokesman Jamie French denies the live premiere was intended to be a ratings-grabber. "It was just a really good way of kicking off the final season," he says. The Canadian distributor of the show, CanWest Global, is more candid. "Television stunts are always done to drive ratings," CanWest spokesman Walter Levitt says. "It's safe to say [Will & Grace's] ratings were down." The West Wing, like Will & Grace, is going through a tough season, one of the most difficult in its six years. Apart from a ratings decline in recent seasons, the show is suffering a difficult transition to a new cast, replacing its star and president, Martin Sheen. There is also competition from a new White House drama, Commander in Chief, starring Geena Davis as the first female president. That series is not only receiving better ratings, it has also been a critical success. In Canada, things are worse for the former top-10 show. Frustrated fans of The West Wing realized quickly that CTV, which owns broadcast rights to the drama, is not even airing the current season. CTV spokesman Mike Cosentino says the network has yet to decide whether The West Wing will be included in the 2006 summer line-up.
But even with the series threatened by dismal ratings, The West Wing's producers deny the live episode was about driving audiences back to the show. "We chose to do this live episode back in June, before we even knew we were going to have a new timeslot and before we knew what the ratings for this season would be," O'Donnell says, adding that the success of Commander in Chief was not a factor in the decision. "If [Commander in Chief] were on Sundays at 8, we'd think about it," he says. "There's a lot of copycat television out there. I'm sure the people at Perry Mason felt a little bit funny when the second lawyer show came along. But they shouldn't have -- successful shows always provoke imitation. "I've worked on The West Wing since the first show of the first season . . .," he adds. "It didn't do anything to specifically become a top-10 show; it didn't do anything to try to stay high in the ratings. It has never done a single script that was done to pump up the ratings."
After 15 Seasons, Red Green Show Tapes Last Episode
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Bawden, Television Columnist
(Nov. 7, 2005) "This is the last time I'll put on Red Green's clothes," vowed Steve Smith. On Saturday night, before an invited crowd, Smith rang the curtain down on taping The Red Green Show, one of Canada's most successful TV comedy series. The farewell season is airing Fridays at 7 p.m. on CBC-TV. The last show is set for April. It was a night for tears, thank-yous and sentiment as the boys of Possum Lodge trotted out for the last time their merry mix of slapstick, one-liners and wacky situations. "Not bad for a series cancelled four times," a more subdued Smith said earlier in the week in his cubbyhole of an office at Showline Harbourside Studios. The record 15 seasons and 300 episodes "was due entirely to the fans. On a Saturday night taping, we get people driving in from the U.S. just to catch a glimpse of Possum Lodge." But Smith says, "I'm 60. I just need a break. It's been awful for my wife Morag. I'm never around. I figure after six months of solitude I might be doing something else for our company. Right now I intend giving Red as big a send-off as possible." Smith said he decided two years ago to end the series. "The cast and crew have been together a long time. They had to look for other jobs. So I signed a two-year deal with CBC for 18 shows last year and 19 this year, and the total would be 300. It's an amazing number for a Canadian show." Red Green first appeared as a solitary character on the old Hamilton CHCH TV series Smith and Smith (1978-87). "And Red didn't really work at first because I was then too young to play him. Also he was one-dimensional, he needed his nephew Harold beside him. He could be as nasty as all get out to Harold, but Harold would always reply with a real zinger." According to Smith, he needed something to do after his wife bowed out of their act to stay home and look after their teenage sons. "I begged CHCH for just a little money and I'd do Red Green as a show. I never thought it could last more than one season because it was so specific." To Smith's surprise CHCH's owners pulled the plug and he wound up making the second season at London's CFPL, "where we got cancelled again." The next stop, at Global, led to more cancellations.
Looking back, Smith says the CHCH cancellation was the best thing that ever happened to him. "I could have sued, but I finally made a deal where I'd get all the rights to Smith and Smith, the sequel Comedy Mill and Red Green for $145,000. It was a windfall for our company. "Finally George Anthony at CBC took pity on us and we went to CBC. How often has CBC picked up a Canadian show from another network? But the strange thing is the fans understood the show from the very first moment. "I couldn't have done it without Pat McKenna," Smith admits. "His creation of Harold became the heart and soul of the show. For a few years he was barely around, having moved with his family to L.A. We'd tape as much of him as we could, but he was sorely missed." McKenna says the hardest years were 1996-2001, while he was also co-starring in Traders as Marty Stephens. "I'd tape this show on Wednesdays and Saturdays and do Traders the other days. I felt pooped at the end and went to L.A. But I missed Harold." There's a deal brewing with CBC for Harold to be spun off next season in an animated series with McKenna and Smith contributing the voices. Says Smith: "Don't forget we were the first Canadian series in space." An American astronaut asked for a tape to be brought to the Russian space station Mir. Trapped in the Spektr module after a collision, the tape was never recovered and is presumed to be at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Co-creator Rick Green's slapstick "Adventures With Bill," presented home-movie-style, was another weekly highlight. Gordon Pinsent's compulsive liar Hap Shaughnessy remained a key laugh getter. Peter Keleghan's teary, lonely Ranger Gord was another. Other regulars have included Paul Gross as yuppie developer Kevin Black, Graham Greene as dynamite expert Edgar Montrose and Ian Thomas as monster truck owner Dougie Franklin. Smith says parts of the set will be reassembled in a used-furniture store in Hamilton. Other artifacts, including scripts, go to the National Archives. Red Green stuff is already being peddled by PBS stations in the U.S. Saturday night's finale was packed with such friends as Keleghan and Leah Pinsent, Greene, Anthony, former CHCH general manager Frank DeNardis (who first greenlighted the show) and hundreds of diehard American fans. The taping went smoothly, even though it was interrupted several times for standing ovations and a few tears. The last scene was Harold's marriage in Possum Lodge with Red as best man. The party that followed was fun and Smith quickly changed into regular street garb. Never again would he have to wear Red's flannel shirts and baggy trousers.
Rapper Trina Debuts New Sitcom
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 8, 2005) *Leaving behind the raunchy lyrics that made her a rap star, a new family-friendly Trina will debut in the new sitcom, “With Friends Like These,” tomorrow (Nov. 9) at 8:30 p.m. on The Black Family Channel. The artist also serves as a co-producer on the series, which closely follows the plot of the 2004 film, “Hair Show.” Trina plays Cleo Taylor, the owner of a modeling agency who soon finds herself running from the tax man. She inherits her deceased aunt’s beauty salon, Hair We Are, and must also deal with her aunt’s arch-enemy. Trina’s co-stars in “With Friends Like These” include Ki Toy Johnson (Outkast’s “I Like the Way You Move” video), Luz Whitney (“Bamboozled”), Prince Markie Dee (The Fat Boys, 103.5, Miami) The Black Family Channel currently airs in 25 of the top African-American television markets in the U.S., reaching 14 million households. Veteran actor, producer and director Robert Townsend serves as the network’s President and CEO of Productions.
Des McAnuff: Scarborough Boy's Next Stop: Jersey
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian
(Nov. 5, 2005) He may be a Scarborough kid at heart, but he knows what makes the Jersey Boys tick. Director Des McAnuff is enjoying breakfast in a theatre district hangout before heading off to a matinee preview of his latest musical, which opens tomorrow night. It's called Jersey Boys and it tells the story of the Four Seasons, that band best remembered today for the incredible falsetto of its lead singer, Frankie Valli. Think of songs like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man" and you'll instantly remember what they sounded like. But McAnuff is willing to bet that you really don't know much about them and that's what he's counting on to be Jersey Boys' secret weapon. "The Four Seasons were my first rock 'n' roll album back when I was 12," grins McAnuff, "but when I started working on this show I discovered the band I thought I knew had a lot more to them than that." The secret, reveals McAnuff, lies in the contradiction. "Their songs are so innocent but the story is so dark and twisted. We're talking about guys from Belleville, N.J., which is a really tough neighbourhood. They really dragged themselves up from the barrio. Two of them had even done 16 years in the pen before the band hit big. It's about organized crime, addictions, everything." And it's this authentically gritty substance that has kept audiences cheering the show from its record-breaking engagement at the La Jolla Playhouse in California last fall (where McAnuff is artistic director) right through the Broadway previews. "Sure we might wind up hitting the wall at 150 mph," shrugs McAnuff, "but right now it all seems golden."
The 52-year-old ex-resident of Scarborough knows what's he's talking about. Since making his Broadway debut 20 years ago with the Tony Award-winning Big River, he's had his share of smash hits (Tommy and 700 Sundays) as well as some highly forgettable flops (last season's Dracula, anyone?). But part of the reason he's so sanguine about Jersey Boys is that it taps into the rock 'n' roll world he's loved since he was a kid. McAnuff was actually born in Illinois in 1953, but his father was killed in a car crash before his birth and his mother moved back to Canada. "For a while, I stayed with my grandparents in Buttonville," he recalls. "Then we moved to Guelph and finally, when I was 12, we settled down in Scarborough at Markham Rd. and Ellesmere." When asked what he remembers of those days, he shivers. "It could be really bleak, especially in the winters. The wind tunnels were unbelievable." But he quickly bounces back with the happy memories. "I had the great luck — as a lot of us who grow up in Scarborough do — to work with some incredibly talented people. Bruce Barrow, Nat Abraham — wonderful musicians." "I started playing rock 'n' roll when I was very young, working in clubs I couldn't have even gotten into. Then I went to Woburn Collegiate, which was a really progressive place. If it wasn't for that school, I wouldn't have wound up in the theatre." It was Hair that really cinched McAnuff into the art form. "I auditioned for that show when it came to Toronto. I wanted to be a part of it so much. I looked at the stage and thought, `They're playing my music.'"
The precocious McAnuff didn't get into that rock musical, so he wrote his own, called Urbania. It started out at Woburn and wound up with a run downtown at the Poor Alex. He went on to Ryerson to study theatre and wrote a scathing satire of North American family life called Leave it to Beaver is Dead. "I don't even remember why, but I submitted it to a playwriting contest run by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. Paul Bettis picked it as best play and I won $150. But then the Council read the play and wouldn't announce it. "I thought, `How great! I've written a play that offends Christians and Jews and I'm only 20." McAnuff admits an enormous debt to Bettis, who died last year. "He was a brilliant, brilliant teacher. I attended the university of Paul Bettis and I learned so much from him. He could inspire you with seven ideas and then expect you to come up with the eighth on your own." It was Leave it to Beaver is Dead that helped McAnuff launch his New York career. It received a controversial 1979 production at the Public Theatre, starring Mandy Patinkin, Dianne Wiest, Saul Rubinek and Maury Chaykin. After that, he started on the long and successful career that has finally brought him today to Jersey Boys. But he still often thinks of his family back in Canada, which raises the question of his possible interest in the artistic directorship of the Stratford Festival, where he directed Macbeth in 1983. "I think Stratford is the most important cultural resource for theatre in North America without question. It's the greatest stage I've ever worked on. It's a privilege to work there. I'd love to have an association there for the rest of my life. "If the time came and situation was right, I'd love to get involved again." Or as the Four Seasons once sang, "Our Day Will Come."
Shebiscuit: Emma-Jayne Wilson
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Nov. 6, 2005) There's no — pardon this pun — farm system for would-be jockeys who want to ride thoroughbreds. Basketball has gym rats. Hockey has rink rats. So horse racing has barn rats. And that's what Emma-Jayne Wilson was, because if you want to be a jockey, you have to be. The 24-year-old started hanging around barns, breezing horses in the morning and networking with trainers after and learning about the business of horse racing always. And as this Woodbine season turns into the homestretch and races toward the finish line, Wilson is poised to become the first woman to win a riding title since Valerie Thompson led the pack at now-defunct Greenwood in 1980. "If that were to happen, that would be great," Wilson said before a recent card at Woodbine, an evening in which she had seven mounts and finished with a win and a third. Wilson doesn't much like being referred to as a female jockey — in her mind, she's simply a jockey — but it's undeniable that she stands out in a sport that, with notable exceptions like Julie Krone, is male dominated. Trainers, owners, spectators, jockeys: mostly men. So like Wilson, the now-retired Krone is special, becoming the first (and, so far, only) woman to win a Triple Crown race, the 1993 Belmont, and capturing 11 riding titles. When she left the sport in 1999, Krone didn't shy away from recognizing that her gender, along with her talent, made her a significant figure in the world of sport in general and thoroughbred racing specifically. "It's not only all my winners that were acknowledged," she told Sports Illustrated, "but my tenacity and the way that I think I mean to women in sports." But when Wilson says she doesn't want to be referred to as a girl jockey, it's because she's concerned people might consider she's less physically able than her male counterparts, explained her agent and mentor, Mike Luider.
"Pound-for-pound, jockeys are some of the fittest and strongest athletes there are," Luider said. "It requires agility, toughness and strength." And let's not forget that thoroughbred racing is a sport in which men and women are matched evenly, judged by the athleticism of their mount and the skill they display in getting that horse across the line first. There are separate races for colts and fillies; men and women ride alongside each other (even if they do have separate change rooms). Toughness and strength are qualities Wilson displayed in spades in early October when she experienced her first major in-race crash. Her mount, a sensitive filly called Count to Three, spooked and crashed through the temporary rail. Wilson was thrown, landed awkwardly and was taken to hospital. She still undergoes therapy before, after and even between races to recover. "If you watched it on the video, it was a nasty spill," Luider said. "And if she wasn't physically tough, she wouldn't have been riding four days later. But she is and she did." Wilson isn't the only female rider to do well at Woodbine. Chantal Sutherland finished third in 2002 with 124 wins and was the top apprentice both that year and in 2001.
"She's doing tremendously," Sandy Hawley, who is widely acknowledged as Canada's best jockey ever, said about Wilson. "She's getting a lot of attention, not only in Canada, but all over. People in California are already talking about her. "It's just amazing for her first year how polished she looks," he added. "She's a really polished rider and horses run for her. It's amazing how they go. It's really a God-given talent." Wilson is, unsurprisingly, a small person. She's 5-foot-2 and on her lithe frame carries 106 pounds. "Oh, don't worry," she said when asked. "Around here, that's not a rude question." And Wilson said she's not fanatical about her weight. "I went to Boston Pizza ... and ate a whole pizza," she said, laughing about a recent meal. "I've been blessed with a high metabolism. I do watch what I eat, in that I always try to eat healthy." As an apprentice, she's already got a weight advantage. Horses ridden by apprentices carry five pounds fewer than animals carrying journeymen in races. An asterisk in the program denoting an apprentice is called a "bug." Bug riders who haven't won five times are granted a 10-pound allowance, which encourages trainers to employ apprentices for the weight advantage. Wilson has won a lot more than five races. Through Friday, she had ridden in 905 races this year at Woodbine and won 145 times, an excellent success rate of 16 per cent. Her horses have earned more than $6 million. "It's pretty cool. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself," Wilson said. "When I was a kid, I wanted to be a jockey. So I don't come to work. This isn't work for me." She describes herself as coming from a horsey family. Her mom and dad are British and, as a kid she was always taking riding lessons and showing hunters and jumpers, although she never owned her own pony and always dreamed about racing.
"I loved the idea of being on these animals, going as fast as we could," she said. "The initial love is for the horses. I know every little girl in their riding lessons would love for their teacher to say, `Okay, now let's go full tilt.' But after that, the adrenaline is the attraction, the effort, the competition. And the winning." After high school in Brampton, she enrolled in the University of Guelph's diploma program in agriculture, specializing in equine management. There, she studied accounting and business, plus riding and horse care. But not racing. That change came when she told her mom she had to follow her dream and started hanging out at the racing stables. And that's where she met Luider. "A trainer said, `I have this rider galloping you should look at,'" Luider recalled. "The first time I saw Emma on a horse, I could see she had something." Luider said she had skills and instincts that more experienced riders didn't and they set out on a path to make Wilson a professional jockey. That was about 18 months before she rode her first race and Wilson "tried to watch as many races as I could, learn as much as I could by observing." And then, her second day on the job, she notched her first win. "It was pretty neat," Wilson recalled of the April 24 victory in the mud at Fort Erie. "My parents made the trek down, because it was the second day I'd ever raced. So they made the drive and they were in the winner's picture, as well." The plan, now, is to take the winter off in order to extend her apprenticeship and therefore keep her five-pound bug. The season at Woodbine starts April 1 and next year she'll also try one of the top American tracks. "Ideally, the goal is to just be a jockey. To ride races, to win races," she said. "When I was a kid, I said to my mum, `I don't care. If I ride five races and come last in every single one, I'll still have accomplished my dream.'"
Ottawa Bids Aloha To Paopao
'Gades 27 Argos 17
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rick Matsumoto, Sports Reporter
(Nov. 6, 2005) OTTAWA—Aloha means many things in Hawaiian. For Joe Paopao and his coaching staff, who all wore bright, red aloha shirts on the sidelines yesterday, it meant farewell to Ottawa. They had been fired in ignominious fashion less than 48 hours before the Renegades' final regular-season game against the Toronto Argonauts. It ended in a meaningless 27-17 Ottawa win before a diehard crowd, announced as 16,504, at Frank Clair Stadium. As the game clock wound down, Paopao's players doused him with a bucket of Gatorade and the fans chanted "Joe, Joe, Joe." Paopao took off his soaked shirt and tossed it to a fan. While aloha meant goodbye for Paopao it was hello to the playoffs for Argos head coach Mike Clemons. The Double Blue had already clinched first place and a bye to the East Division final a week earlier and will now wait at home for the winner of next Sunday's Montreal-Saskatchewan semifinal. "This is when the real season begins," said Clemons, who kept seven veteran starters out of yesterday's game. "Everything else was a warm-up." Clemons said his only concern after the game was over injuries to rookie lineman Jeff Keeping and receiver R.Jay Soward. Keeping, the prize of this year's rookie crop, can play on the offensive line, tight end and defensive tackle, where he started yesterday. He suffered ligament damage to his left knee and is likely through for the year.
Soward suffered a pulled hamstring and his status will be re-evaluated this week. Those injuries bolstered Clemons' decision to keep other key players out of the game, especially No.1 quarterback Damon Allen. Clemons started backup Michael Bishop and switched to third-stringer Charlie Peterson for the second half. Both showed their lack of experience as well as rustiness from seeing little action this season because the remarkable 42-year-old Allen remained injury free. The two quarterbacks threw three interceptions each, with Peterson tossing the lone Argo TD pass, a 14-yarder to Tony Miles, who had eight catches for 132 yards. At one point, Allen took off his jacket and ran up and down the sidelines as if warming up to go into the game. But Allen said he was simply trying to stay warm and Clemons, shaking his head, added that he had no intention of putting his bread-and-butter player in danger. "If we get him hurt, you can understand the situation we'd be in," Clemons said. "He's our leader. He's our starting quarterback." Allen said he had no concerns about going three weeks without game action before the division final. "It's a matter of getting back to work with aggressiveness and really pushing myself in practice," he said. "That's what I need to get myself back into rhythm." While few in number, the Ottawa fans were vociferous about the departure of the popular Paopao. A number of signs hung around the stadium bid him aloha in a number of ways. There was also a sign pointed at unpopular team owner and president Lonie Glieberman who, with his father Bernie, purchased the Ottawa franchise for the second time at the beginning of his season. It read: Lonie-tunes. That's all folks. The one bright spot for the Renegades was that quarterback Kerry Joseph became the third CFL quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He gained 64 yards to finish with 1,006. Allen and Tracy Ham (twice) are the only others to accomplish that feat.
Canada's New Olympic Look? Heritage Modern
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jennifer Quinn, Sports Reporter
(Nov. 9, 2005) This time around, the hot item may not be a hat but maybe a boot; the colours are still red and white, but with green and yellow accent colours; luckily, everything goes nicely with gold, silver, and bronze. HBC last night unveiled part of what Canada's athletes will be wearing at the Olympics in Turin, showing off their "Heritage Modern" collection, and there's not a stripey blanket-coat in sight. Those are so 1936 (and very 1968, which is the last time the team wore them.) "We started off by thinking, okay, what does HBC have in common with the Olympics? Where do we bind — besides the colours?" said Suzanne Timmins, the store's fashion director, noting that the red, green, yellow and black in HBC's famous blanket are the same shades as the Olympic rings. "It's heritage, not retro," Timmins said, "and because we thought it would be expected that HBC might just be heritage, we wanted to put a modern slant on it." So female athletes will have yoga-inspired trousers to wear when chilling out in the village instead of one-size-fits-all totally not-sexy sweatpants; men can kick back in hoodies and hockey-inspired jerseys. There's even a shearling coat and those cool, mukluk-like boots. Though last night was the big launch, it's not really opening night for the designers. That comes Feb.10, during the opening ceremonies, when Canada's parade gear will be seen for the first time. It was decided that outfit would remain a surprise until the 200-strong team marches in together.
"I can't miss it. I keep telling everyone it will be the biggest fashion show of my career," said Tu Ly, one of the seven designers on HBC's team, who intends to be in Turin to see them march in. "There's what, 100 million people watching the parade of nations? You can't find a better platform." The podium outfits will also remain a secret until a Canadian steps up to accept a medal. This time, HBC isn't making every item given to the athletes available to the public: The parade jacket and pant are only for athletes, as is the vest they'll wear on the medal podium and their formal function blazers and pants. Everything else is for sale, in Bay and Zellers stores across the country, and the prices range from $8 socks to a $575 shearling coat. The first time Canadian athletes really made a splash on the fashion scene was in 1998, when those red newsboy caps became the must-have item. Olympic uniforms are big business. The Bay paid $100 million for the rights to outfit Canada's Olympians through 2012 — which includes the Vancouver games in 2010. Athletes say putting on the uniform is a fashion moment. "It's important because when you go to the Olympics, you want to feel like a winner, even before you get there," said Brian Stemmle, who last competed in 1998 and so was a newsboy-cap wearer. "It makes a big difference. You want to feel good, and it's important to have that. And when these athletes go and put this gear on they'll feel good. And everyone will be looking at them, instead of them looking over their shoulders at someone else's gear." Still, the HBC designers realized that they would be measured against the success Roots had with their Olympic uniforms. There's the cool mukluk boots — price: $300 — and what else? "I think the shearling hat will come a close second," Ly said, " because it's so cool and it's so hip."
Winnipeg's Bergen Wins Giller Prize
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Philip Marchand, Books Columnist
(Nov. 9, 2005) David Bergen, whose novels have been hitherto set in south eastern Manitoba — familiar terrain for the son of a Mennonite preacher from a small town outside Winnipeg — won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize last night for his novel The Time in Between, set in British Columbia and Vietnam. As with all of his fiction, The Time In Between portrays the universal struggle of characters fighting for their souls. It is no accident that Bergen, 48, comes from a preacher's family. He betrayed emotion most deeply not in his acceptance speech but afterwards when he told a Toronto Star reporter that his father, who has often been troubled by Bergen's fictional exploration of sexuality, including adulterous relationships, was watching the proceedings on television. (The Scotiabank Giller Prize dinner was broadcast live on talktv.) "My father was calling the rest of the family and telling them to watch this on television, which was amazing, I thought, and so unusual," Bergen said. "Never been done before. I thought it was very generous of him." It was a night that highlighted the continuing contrast in Canadian fiction between exotic settings and the pull of small-town CanadaTwo of the nominees for the prize — Camilla Gibb in her novel Sweetness in the Belly, and Edeet Ravel in A Wall Of Light — wrote about Ethiopia and Israel. Two others — Bergen in his novel and Lisa Moore in Alligator — started out in the Canadian hinterlands and then shifted their focus to Vietnam and Louisiana. The fifth nominee, Joan Barfoot, in her novel Luck, stayed squarely in southwestern Ontario, where she has set almost all of her fiction. None of the finalists were as well known as the winners of the Giller Prize in the last half-dozen years: a roll call of Alice Munro, Austin Clarke, Michael Ondaatje, David Adams Richards, Richard B. Wright and M.G. Vassanji. (Their Giller-nominated novels also reflected the pull in Canadian literature between such settings as Kenya and Sri Lanka and Barbados, and more traditional arenas of Canadian life such as rural Ontario and New Brunswick.)
But regardless of their degree of fame, and regardless of where they have set their fiction, this year's Giller finalists appealed to readers in a highly traditional manner, with stories of extreme and sometimes violent conflict. Bergen, who has taught in Winnipeg high schools and written three previous novels, has long probed, with subtlety and insight, life in Manitoba communities where misunderstandings can have fatal consequences. In his latest novel, he used his experience as a teacher of Vietnamese refugees in Thailand under the auspices of the Mennonite Central Committee to evoke the unsettling climate of Vietnam. His main characters — a Vietnamese ex-soldier living in B.C. who is returning to his homeland, and his son and daughter — confront fatal misunderstandings in the way of previous Bergen characters, but this time in an alien country. In his acceptance speech, Bergen warmly thanked his translator in Vietnam, Tran Cau, and an artist who befriended him there, Hoang Dang. "He was a small man in stature and he was huge in our life," Bergen said of Tran Cau. "He was a producer of figs and light bulbs and mosquito nets. He was always there. He embodied this notion of the comfort of strangers." Hoang Dang, Bergen said, "gave me wonderful wisdom and words." Among the runner-ups were Barfoot, 59, who has lived for the past 20 years in London, Ont., where she worked as a journalist for the London Free Press. Moore, 41, studied creative writing at Memorial University in her native Newfoundland and also art at the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design. Gibb, 37, who was born in London, England, but grew up in Toronto, won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000 for her first novel, Mouthing the Words. Ravel, 50, was born on an Israeli kibbutz but moved to Montreal with her family when she was 7 years old. Returning to Israel in later years, she wrote about her native country in her debut novel Ten Thousand Lovers, which appeared in 2003 and was nominated for a Governor General's Award and an Amazon/Books in Canada prize. With Scotiabank on board as an award co-sponsor for the first time, the purse was increased from $25,000 to $50,000. Of that, the winning author received $40,000, and runners-up $2,500 each. The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in memory of his wife Doris Giller, who died in 1993 and who had worked for many years in journalism — latterly at the Star. As in past years, the short listed books were chosen by a three-person jury. This year's jurors were writers Elizabeth Hay, Richard B. Wright (who won the Giller in 2001 for his novel Clara Callan) and Warren Cariou.
Turning Down GG Award Proves Lucrative
Source: Canadian Press
(Nov. 4, 2005) Montreal — Quebec singer-songwriter Raymond Levesque's decision to turn down a $15,000 Governor General Performing Arts Award has proven to be a smart financial move. On Friday, Mr. Levesque received a cheque for $33,000 from a group of prominent separatists who organized a fundraising drive in the wake of his decision. After Levesque, 77, announced he would not accept the award, Bloc Quebecois MP Caroline St-Hilaire — along with the Societe St-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal, which promotes Quebec culture and sovereignty — launched an effort to match the $15,000 that comes with winning a Governor General Performing Arts Award. The awards recognize lifetime achievement in the arts. Mr. Levesque said he could not accept the prize because he was unable to reconcile his separatist beliefs with the federalist nature of the award. Mr. Levesque, who is also a poet, had initially indicated he would accept the prize when he was named among this year's winners in September.
In accepting the substitute cheque, Mr. Levesque couldn't resist taking a few additional jabs at the new Governor General. “Kneel down before the Governor General? Never,” he told a crowd that included former premier Jacques Parizeau and Parti Quebecois leadership candidate Pauline Marois. Mr. Levesque criticized Michaelle Jean, saying the new Governor General changes political allegiances when it suits her career.
Art Translates Language Of Beauty For U.N.
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Daniel B. Schneider, New York Times
(Nov. 5, 2005) UNITED NATIONS—The United Nations has rarely allowed its once-sleek lobbies, plazas, ramps or rooftops to become exhibition spaces for large-scale, independent works of art, let alone personal, site-specific installations. That changed on Tuesday night, when Uniting Painting, by the noted political cartoonist Ranan R. Lurie, was formally introduced by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the visitors' entrance to the General Assembly building. The entire project was organized, administered and financed by Lurie. Its cost approached half a million dollars U.S., he said, and he has spent about a year and a half working on it. Uniting Painting is a procession of 37 multi-hued squares and rectangles of various sizes and materials that cascade down from the ceiling at the western wall of the lobby, descend the General Assembly stairs, snake out the doors and across the plaza, go down through the gardens before halting at the edge of the East River, at the lip of the eastern promenade. The colour scheme changes from undulating blues and greys in the lobby to bright oranges and yellows outdoors; a twisting band of black flows from the centre of one panel to the next, uniting the block-long array and suggesting an overhead view of a river twisting through gentle hills. Halfway across the river, at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, a 100-square-foot sheet of perforated nylon, painted with the same abstract, sinuous pattern, is anchored to the earth. The painting, Lurie said, is then intended to continue, in the viewer's imagination, to distant shores.
Lurie's accomplishment rests, as much as anything else, on his ability to trumpet the United Nations' familiar brand of soothing humanism without offending or challenging its cautious bureaucracy. The exhibits committee is composed of about a dozen officials from various branches, including the political affairs, security and legal departments. Budget constraints prevent curators, critics or art historians from serving on the committee or on the U.N. staff. "It's a different sort of committee," said Shashi Tharoor, the U.N. undersecretary-general for communications and public information. "We are more likely to have, say, the representative of a political department objecting to a particular offering because it was going to violate a staff rule, or offend a member state, or be at variance with some political policy of the United Nations, than we are to have someone say, `Look, as an art historian, I don't think this is where it belongs.'" Some might find Lurie a vexing choice for such a prominent area, one that he calls a "shrine of the human moral authority." He has little background in the international art world, gives voice to no school or philosophy, and hews to no easily discernible style or approach in his art. He said he admired Christo and Jackson Pollock for "their guts," but his own work would not seem out of place in a school library or a corporate lobby. "It was a perfect marriage, if you like, of artist and entrepreneur, since he was willing to go around and make the arrangements himself," Tharoor said. "There is simply no budget, either for individuals, or for their actual work, at the United Nations. All we are offering is the space." Photomontages hanging in the lobby show planned extensions of the Uniting Painting to other cities around the world, where it is to be rendered in different materials, colours and textures. Lurie has begun formal arrangements to continue the work at museums in Cyprus, Greece, Britain and Israel, and administrators in South Africa and South Korea have expressed interest.
"I speak as a man who has lived in seven or eight different countries in my life," said Lurie, who was born in Egypt in 1932 and grew up in Israel. "If people speak the same language, things are always much better. If you have the same painting, the same motif, in China, in France, in Egypt, that is like a common language." By Wednesday morning, a handful of tourists had gathered thoughtfully before Lurie's panels in the lobby, some posing for photographs. Curiously, both the plaza and gardens were closed to visitors while repairs were being done. The Uniting Painting will be on display at U.N. headquarters until it closes for renovations in early 2007. "We tend to put the aesthetic considerations second, and we were taken with the notion of a painting starting at the United Nations and then flowing around the world," Tharoor said. "That was really the spirit behind our endorsement. I don't consider myself, and I daresay most of the other members of the committee, competent to pass aesthetic, artistic judgment. We are, after all, the United Nations and not the Guggenheim." For more information on the Uniting Painting project, see http://www.rananlurie.com
Rosebud: Rare Bloom In Concrete Jungle
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Amy Pataki, Dining Out
Address: 669 Queen St. W.,
Chef: Rod Bowers
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight
Price: Dinner for two with wine, tax and tip: $120
(Nov. 5, 2005) It's just your average Saturday night at the intersection of Queen and Bathurst Sts. The beer store flaunts its usual police presence. Over-refreshed citizens weave along the sidewalks, ignored by passing Goths in black vinyl splendour. Then, for no apparent reason, an angry young man smashes in the glass window of a pita restaurant before stalking off, causing even jaded locals to shake their heads. "That's what you get for opening a business at this corner," says a woman as she steps gingerly through the shards. Yikes. To all the risks of opening a restaurant — no customers, suppliers unwilling to extend credit, bankruptcy — add threat of vandalism. Yet at this downtown corner, amidst the broken glass and rowdy drunks, a success story blooms: Rosebud restaurant, a six-week-old modern bistro that does a lot of things right. "The neighbourhood's a little bit on the rough side," concedes co-owner Jason Cameron. "Somebody has to be the first in every area, and we're the first."
Here's another first. The restaurant has to be the nicest thing that ever came out of Mr. Pong's, the greasy takeout joint now gone and gladly forgotten. The Rosebud inherited a surprisingly elegant dining room, long and narrow but tall and richly panelled in dark wood. With a few coats of paint, some gauzy curtains and myriad flickering candles, the room radiates classic good looks. The old-school approach to décor is a welcome change in a city where it seems every serious new restaurant exudes all the warmth of a stainless-steel refrigerator. Chef Rod Bowers and manager Cameron have never owned a restaurant before Rosebud, but have drawn upon their combined 26 years of industry experience and learning from other people's mistakes in order to skip the usual novice blunders. The duo has hit on the shockingly rare idea to treat customers the way they want to be treated, and it works. Imagine. By way of example, I'll mention the wine. It is Cameron's passion. Rather than forego his 2001 Cedar Creek Platinum Reserve Meritage, a silky blackberry British Columbian beauty, he'll open the $104 bottle just to pour you a glass. Most of the well-chosen list, though, is priced from $30 to $60, with a few Vintages bin ends for splurging. All are marked up by a reasonable 100 per cent, about half of what other restaurateurs charge for far less interesting bottles. Then there's the food. Bowers, an alumnus of Auberge du Pommier, was a big fan of classic French cooking until he moved over to Mistura restaurant, where he discovered a taste for rustic Italian food. He's blended the two into a seamless whole of big flavours and solid technique. A fan of organic ingredients and the slow food movement, Bowers boasts that nothing in his kitchen comes "from a jar or a bottle." He even makes his own mustard, along with the tartly pickled vegetables that pair wonderfully with a dense, pistachio-studded pork pâté ($10) that is also homemade. The menu starts with a few oddities, such as retrograde garlic bread ($2) and the bowl of olives ($3) perfumed by a branch of burning rosemary, but the list quickly gets down to business. Calamari ($11) does a proper turn on the grill before bathing in an earthy purée of oven-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions and herbs. Salmon ($11) is cured in-house with the welcome addition of lemon peel. Spinach-mushroom crèpes ($12) are a gratifying blast from the past, blanketed in melted gruyère and oozing more of the same.
Only a confident chef offers a risotto of the day, since it requires at least 16 minutes of dedicated stirring to coax the starch from the rice into the desired creaminess. Unfortunately, one night's risotto hits the table a few minutes shy of its optimum cooking time, and the grains are distinctly chalky. The next time we try it, the timing's bang on, yielding creamy mouthfuls of rice enriched with heirloom tomatoes, sweet shrimp and knobs of butter. Further in the Italian vein is Bowers' take on gnocchi ($17). He mixes lashes of ricotta into the usual mashed potato-egg dough, resulting in nuggets of such astonishing weightlessness that only the accompanying shreds of braised oxtail keep them anchored to the plate. The Rosebud's version of Cornish hen ($22), wonderfully moist flesh hiding under crisp skin permeated with sweet spices, is another example of what happens when you take a fresh look at an old standby. Not everything works. A deconstructed caesar salad ($11) proves the parts are lesser than the whole. The rosti alongside our salmon appetizer is cold and hard, closer to a potato chip than a potato pancake. The sticky sweetness of root beer, used to braise pork ribs ($19) according to a Texan recipe, desperately needs more vinegar to balance. The chef displays his Newfoundland roots in a dish of cod ($19) pan-fried with molasses and pork scrunchions, reminding me why Newfie cuisine remains unheralded. Everything sure looks pretty, though, as unpretentious as the photographs in a Donna Hay cookbook. Desserts are the kitchen's weak suit. Hard to find fault with the chocolate mousse, a miracle of air plus the 72 per cent cacao content of Michel Cluizel chocolate. But poached peaches are sent back, the fruit alarmingly fizzy and the mascarpone gone off; the item is graciously removed from the bill. As for the punishingly tart lemon bread pudding, the waiter warns us: "People either love it or they hate it." Count me in the latter camp. And what to make of the salty crust on our crème brûlée? I suspect someone used the wrong crystals. The room fills up on a Saturday night, and service barely falters. Yes, there's no bowl to collect the shells of steamed mussels ($10) nor spoon for the saffron cream sauce underneath. Yes, it would have been nice to order more wine with our main courses instead of having our empty glasses whisked away, but these slips are due to growing pains rather than attitude.
The Rosebud is a new restaurant, occasionally barking its shins as it feels its way. Bowers plans to change the menu in a few weeks, adding game birds and dishes influenced by the Far East and the East Coast. Meanwhile, Cameron has to replace the tiny flashlights needed to read the menu in the candlelight. Seems diners like to take them home, and not always with permission. Sure beats a broken window.
Rockettes Coming To Canada
Source: Canadian Press
(Nov. 8, 2005) Toronto — Santa Claus came to town early Tuesday and he brought some Christmas stockings with him. And the stockings were stuffed with legs. And the legs were attached to six Rockettes, the famed high-kicking dance troupe that has been a staple at New York's Radio City Music Hall since 1933. It was all part of a media event to announce that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring both Santa and the Rockettes will be making its first road-show appearance in Canada next Christmas — that's right, Christmas 2006 — at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts. "Ho, ho, eh?" Santa bellowed as he posed with the leggy dancers and with a group of local public school children who sat at his feet on a makeshift stage in the theatre lobby. Dan Brambilla, CEO of the Hummingbird, conceded that importing the lavish production was part of the effort to reinvent the theatre which is about to lose its opera and ballet. It's the final season there for the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada, which will both move next year to the Four Seasons Centre. "I think the rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated," Brambilla said. The 84 performances of the Christmas Spectacular will run from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31, 2006. The show includes marching wooden soldiers, dancing teddy bears, snowmen, reindeer and elves. "We anticipate that we will attract audiences from not only Toronto's GTA but also from regional markets throughout Ontario and Quebec as well as northern border markets from the United States," said Brambilla. In 1984 the show began out-of-town performances across the United States. It requires a cast and crew of more than 100 to stage, including 20 Rockettes, 22 singers and dancers, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
Rusesabagina, Winfrey, Dee & Davis Honoured
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Nov. 7, 2005) *Talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Paul Rusesabagina, whose bravery in the face of genocide inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda," were honoured in Memphis Thursday as recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum's 2005 Freedom Awards. Winfrey received the National Freedom Award for working to improve the lives of poor children in Africa and helping create a U.S. database of convicted child abusers. Previous recipients include Coretta Scott King, and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. In a speech to thousands of young students and others gathered at a local church, Winfrey praised Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and other civil rights leaders for paving the way for her success. "Your crown has been paid for," she said. "Put it on your head and wear it." She also urged the kids to "be the star of your own life" no matter how poor they are or what they do. Rusesabagina, meanwhile, received the International Freedom Award, which has previously been given to former South African President Nelson Mandela and U2 front man Bono. Portrayed by Academy Award-nominated Don Cheadle in "Hotel Rwanda," Rusesabagina helped to save over 1,200 refugees during the mid-'90s Rwandan genocide in which nearly 1 million people were killed. He was given a standing ovation Thursday when he told the crowd his name means "the one who disperses his enemies." Actress Ruby Dee and her late husband Ossie Davis were honoured with the new Lifetime Achievement Award. Dee and Davis risked their careers resisting McCarthyism in the 1950s and were close friends of King, whom they served with as masters of ceremonies for the historic 1963 March on Washington. The annual awards ceremony is the largest fundraiser for the National Civil Rights Museum, which is housed in the former Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated in 1968.
10 Fitness Tips For Beginners
By Raphael Calzadilla B.A., ACE, RTS1, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
-- Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame Baseball player in his 1996 address to the graduates of Montclair State University
(Nov. 6, 2005) I'm dedicating this article to the beginner. To the person who is mentally preparing themselves to get in shape. The individual who suddenly has realized after many years that they simply cannot continue being overweight, tired and listless with muscles that resemble a bowl of Jell-O. You want to begin eating right and exercising, but you have absolutely no idea where to begin. You’re sort of scared. It is possible that you have never set foot in a health club and would almost rather not pursue this endeavour -- because it just seems so daunting. But you know you must! I’ve always taken great pleasure in training the man or woman who walks into the gym for the first time. I’ve always viewed it as a courageous, intelligent act of taking responsibility for one's own health. I enjoy training beginners, because they get to learn things correctly from the start as opposed to relearning ineffective habits they picked up from an infomercial.
Here are my top 10 tips for the beginner:
1. DON'T WORRY ABOUT FEAR -- Understand that it's OK to feel somewhat unsure of yourself prior to starting an exercise and nutrition program. The psychological aspect is the first thing to accept. There will be a lot to learn concerning weight training, cardiovascular exercise and nutrition. However, recognize that as you begin the process, you will continually learn, get more comfortable and, most importantly, make progress.
2. DECIDE -- In most articles, this point is referred to as goal-setting. However, I prefer DECIDE, because I see too many people fail with goal-setting. I realize it’s a play on words, but it seems to work. You’ll need to write down and DECIDE what it is you want to accomplish. For example, you may decide you want to lose 30 pounds of body fat and gain 2 to 3 pounds of muscle. Maybe you’ll decide you want to be able to walk 5 miles without losing your breath, or possibly fit into that size 8 dress or 31" inch waist pants. Write it down and make it quantifiable. Just saying, "I want to get in shape and lose weight" is not quantifiable. There’s no target.
3. GET A CHECKUP -- Having a physical is a wise decision, because it will help assure you’ll attain the most benefits with the least amount of risks. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or are overweight, it’s doubly important. Remember, this is about starting right.
4. STRUCTURE -- You will need guidance. That’s where eDiets comes into play. Our site is marvellous for beginners. When registering, you are asked to input your goals, current activity level, health history and several other measurements. We then provide a program that matches your goal and your current fitness level. You receive a nutrition program and complete exercise descriptions. I know what you’re thinking, "Yes, but how do I know if I’m really doing things correctly?" Don’t worry. If you ever have a question related to your program, we have a team of personal trainers and dieticians ready to assist you. You will not be left alone.
5. GET REAL -- Take a close look at your schedule and be realistic concerning how many days and how much time you can realistically devote to exercise. This is going to be long-term, so it has to be based on reality. Too many people start working out every day and think that’s the best approach. Wrong! Maybe you only have two to three days to devote to exercise and only 45 minutes for each session. It's the combination of efficient nutrition and exercise that will yield the greatest benefit, not simply excessive exercise. That's a sure way to experience burn out.
6. EDUCATE YOURSELF -- You'll need to develop an understanding of concepts such as repetitions, sets, cardio, etc. Again, we can help. When you get to the eDiets fitness program, you’ll be lead to a glossary of fitness terminology that will help get you started in the right direction. This will give you a good, overall understanding of many fitness terms you may have heard in the past.
7. EAT -- Begin to get an understanding of how food affects the body. I’m not asking you to become a nutrition guru. Simply try to understand, for example, what happens to your body when you have a big bowl of pasta compared to a smaller amount of pasta combined with chicken and a small Caesar salad. Become familiar with the affect elevated blood sugar has on storing fat. You can receive additional education on this subject matter when you join. Just email one of our dieticians or access one of the great support boards available to members. The best part? When you join eDiets, we'll customize your nutrition based on your food preferences. It's based on reality.
8. MOVE -- No, not geographically. Start to work out, start to move. Your weight training won't take a lot of time as a beginner, nor will your cardiovascular exercise. You’ll focus on form, technique, precision and breathing correctly during your workout. You'll find the site all-encompassing and able to answer many of your questions. Not sure about a specific weight-training move? Just access my Fitness For You support board, and I'll answer your question. I won't stop explaining until you’re clear.
9. BEWARE OF MAGIC POTIONS -- Don’t get hooked into supplements that can magically reduce body fat or infomercials that sell ineffective products to get your stomach flat. Remember, these companies are just trying to make a buck, and most of them don’t provide all the information you require to make a wise decision. They prey on emotion and impulse buying. Stay far away.
10. COST EVALUATION -- It's important to get the most effective nutrition-and-workout plan for your needs. In business, it’s called cost versus benefit, but I like to call it "What the heck do I get for my money?" It’s also important to get ongoing education that doesn’t require this to be a full-time endeavour. You need quick and timely information that won’t "break the bank." Joining eDiets is a fraction of the cost of hiring a nutritionist or trainer at a health club.
I hope these 10 tips have helped. If you knew first-hand the fantastic resources we have here, you wouldn’t think twice about joining. Commit to starting your nutrition-and-fitness program and reap the benefits of less body fat, becoming lean and having tons of energy.
A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and 2005 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.
Motivational Note: Nothing you have done has been a waste of
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Jewel Diamond Taylor by Motivational Speaker and Author, Jewel Diamond Taylor www.DoNotGiveUp.net e-mail - JewelMotivates@aol.com
Everything you have been through is a stepping stone to your next level. Don't let boredom, depression, fear or procrastination steal your joy or success. Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another. Patience and tenacity pays off. If you have a goal or task that can take your life to the next level, don't give up. If for some reason you have slacked off working towards your goal, forgive yourself and get back on track. Put on your faith walking shoes. Speak your word. Don't sweat the small stuff. Overcome procrastination. Trust God for your guidance, strength and provision. Visualize your outcome. Be optimistic. Let go of negative habits and negative people. Pursue your purpose and passion persistently and prayerfully with patience. The best is yet to come