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NEWSLETTER

Updated:  March 2, 2006


Please let spring be right around the corner! You may find that the newsletter is a little more brief than usual as I was in New York for a few days - see reason why under RECAP. Plus check out the PHOTO GALLERY for shots from Irie's party on Monday night. Also, check out the PHOTO GALLERY for lots of pics from New York!

Mark your calendars for a special night - the Harlem Gospel Choir on March 6th! All details below under EVENTS.

Check out all categories - tons of Canadian content in 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 EVENTSWant to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.

 

 

::HOT EVENTS::

Harlem Gospel Choir at Hummingbird Centre – March 6

 Source:  Hummingbird Centre
 
 
The renowned Harlem Gospel Choir, one of the pre-eminent gospel choirs in the world, is coming to the Hummingbird Centre of the Performing Arts for one show only on Monday, March 6, 2006!  Featuring some of the finest singers and musicians from various churches in Harlem, the Choir shares their message of love, peace and harmony with people of all cultures.  The theme of every performance is about bringing people and nations together.  Their songs of inspiration touch the depths of the soul and raise the spirit to angelic heights.  Founder Allen Bailey sums up the experience – “Regardless of the language and the country, everyone who comes to our concerts has the spirit.”  Established over 20 years ago, the Harlem Gospel Choir has performed around the world. They have performed with U2 on their concert film “Rattle and Hum,”  Diana Ross, The Chieftains, Harry Belafonte and they have performed for the Pope, Nelson Mandela and Paul McCartney.
 
 To see the Harlem Gospel Choir during a live performance is an opportunity that should not be missed.  Audiences will be treated to jazz, blues and gospel spirituals while having a moving and rockin’ good time. 
 
 MONDAY, MARCH 6
 
HARLEM GOSPEL CHOIR
 The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts
 1 Front Street East
 8:00 PM
 Ticket prices range from $25 – $55
 
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 416-872-2262 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.ca, or in person at the Hummingbird Centre Box Office
 GROUPS of 10 or more call:  416-393-7463 or 1-866-737-0805
 Presented by the Toronto Star
 Sponsored by Tyndale University College & Seminary

::TOP STORIES::

FLOW 93.5 Announces 2006 Soul Search Hip Hop Winner!

Source:  FLOW 93.5

(Feb. 27, 2006) – FLOW 93.5 is pleased to announce that 22-year-old
Plus Mo is the Hip Hop winner for the 4th Annual FLOW 93.5 Soul Search. Over the past week, FLOW 93.5 listeners cast nearly 120,000 votes online at www.flow935.com and via text message for their favourite Top 5 Hip Hop Finalist.  Plus Mo received 34,103 votes from FLOW 93.5 listeners to earn the 2006 FLOW 93.5 Soul Search Hip Hop crown.  “The FLOW 93.5 Soul Search competition has been the most amazing, life changing experience!” said an overwhelmed Plus Mo. “I wanted this so bad. Thanks to all my people who supported me, and to the FLOW listeners for making my dreams come true!”  The Grand Prize for the FLOW 93.5 Soul Search R&B Winner and Hip Hop Winner includes the following amazing items:

· $2,500 cash

· Songs produced by Rashad Smith (who has worked with superstars such as LL Cool J, Erykah Badu, Lil Kim, Nas and Aaliyah) and Saukrates (winner of the 2005 Canadian Urban Music Award for Producer of the Year)

· 2,500 units of CD manufacturing

· Professional photo shoot by Alexis Finch Photography

· The opportunity to represent Toronto at the national Urban Star Quest showcase that takes place during Canadian Music Week (Saturday, March 4, 2006).

 
Plus Mo and Janey (the FLOW 93.5 Soul Search R&B winner, who was announced on February 6), will showcase alongside talent contest winners from The Bounce 91.7 (Edmonton) and The Beat 91.5 (Kitchener) at the official Canadian Music Week (CMW) urban showcase this Saturday, March 4 starting at 8:00 pm. CMW takes place at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel.  The 4th Annual FLOW 93.5 Soul Search is presented by Subway Restaurants, in association with MuchVIBE. For full contest rules and further details on the FLOW 93.5 Soul Search, please visit www.urbanflowcase.com.
 

Pocket Dwellers Come Into Their Own
 

 Source: By MARK DANIELL -- For JAM! Music
 
 
(Feb. 28, 2006) TORONTO -- Still weeks away from their recent nomination as New Group of the Year at next month's Juno Awards, Pocket Dwellers' Dennis Passley Jr. hailed the band's latest album, "PD-Atrics," a philosophical rebirth for the Toronto-based outfit.  Sipping from a cup of tea on an unusually mild January afternoon in downtown Toronto, the dependably hip looking tenor sax is happy that the group is finally coming into its own. "Everything fell into place with this record (the band's third). We started honing our own sound, which isn't quite like anything else, realizing that with the makeup of this band we can do so many different things. We don't necessarily have to make the same sounds on every song. We can change things up."  A challenge for a three or four-piece band, but when you're part of a septet, not sounding repetitive gets a little easier.  Comprised of seven "equal" players - NiGel (MC/ Vocals), Sheldon Moore (DJ), Christian Mckibbon (guitar), Johnny Griffith (alto/ soprano sax), Gordon Shields (bass), Marco Raposo (drums), and Passley (tenor sax) - the Pocket Dwellers craft a unique slice of funkabilly, referencing everyone from the Black Eyed Peas and the Roots to Fishbone and Quantic Soul Orchestra. Anything, it seems, can inspire Passley and his bandmates. And when they headed into the studio to start recording "PD-Atrics," everything the boys were listening to left an imprint on the band's groovy mix of R&B, funk and hip-hop.  "When we were still getting to know each other, it wasn't always the case that we found ourselves on the same page musically," he admits. "But when it came time to make this album, we were all listening to the same stuff."  While they were happily swapping music in the record's early goings (Passley says he brought a lot of "jazz and funk" into the band's element), there were clashes. "Like any creative endeavour, people aren't always going to agree. When it comes to us, those differences weren't bad because we knew that if someone had an idea that all seven of us didn't agree with, something wasn't working. Because everyone plays an equal part, we all needed to feel something in order to move forward with an idea."
 
 "A lot of the record was built in smaller groups. Nigel, Sheldon and I would be working on a track and Gordon, Marco, John and Christian would be writing something. Then they'd give us what they had, and we'd play them what we came up with. As a collective we worked on everyone's ideas."  Though Passley is quite happy to talk about the new record, how the Pocket Dwellers translate live is the real story behind the music. How they developed their sound, and gelled as a band, has its roots onstage.  "Most of the new record is based on what we do live," he says. "When we first started out, we liked the energy that we all emitted onstage. It wasn't so much a sonic melding of styles, it was more us vibing off one another."  "We basically recorded once and then we started getting gigs. From there we built our sound around what we did live. Now it's taken on its own action."  Channeling Will.i.am's high-speed raps, singer-lyricist NiGel and guest vocalist Phatt Al, conjure the Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It" (minus the "Misirlou" sample) on "Play This Music!" Elsewhere, arrangements on tunes like "Circus," which mixes hiccupy drums over a Spanish-flavoured acoustic guitar, mirror the Peas' successful marrying of beats and strums (on the Jack Johnson-flavoured, "Gone Going," for example).  Occasionally, its beefy, multifarious sound adopts a spare three-piece-like groove (on the wildly guitar 'n' drum heavy, "Want To Be"), while on tracks like "Critical Acclaim" the boys are able to pair relaxed, soulful stylings with attention-grabbing bass lines.  Responding to the album's genre-tripping qualities, Passley says the band wanted the record to appeal to people on a universal level.
 
 "Maybe in the '80s there were people who said, 'I only listen to hip-hop,' but that isn't the case anymore because we're being exposed to so many different styles. It's very rare now that you meet someone who says, 'I just listen to hip-hop' or 'I just listen to R&B.' Music is more diverse these days."  The Pocket Dwellers, who just wrapped up a west coast U.S. tour with The Wailers, are taking a few months off before they attempt to make a real dent in the American market.  "So far, we've really just stuck to Canada (Pocket Dwellers have opened for Maceo Parker and Charlie Hunter and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, among others, however)," he says. "We knew what we had was a good package so most of our focus has been on going out on the road, making sure we can be a killer live band. Now that that's together, we're ready to make some inroads in the States."  With the popularity of bands like the Black Eyed Peas surging, one wonders if the Pocket Dwellers should have sown their musical oats south of the border.  Passley shakes his head. "I hate hearing people say they have to go somewhere else to make it. If you can't make it at home where you going to make it?"  Though he admits that the infrastructure hasn't always been there for urban musical acts in Canada, the twentysomething says the band has never thought it needed to go anywhere but home to find an audience. "The only thing that made sense was to tour Canada. Build up our home base before trying to go abroad."  "Besides," he adds, "it was a good way for us to help get our road legs going."  "PD-Atrics" is in stores now.  The 2006 Juno Awards airs Sunday, April 6.

::RECAP::

Apollo Recap
 
 OK, so perhaps this recap isn't full of the news that some of us were hoping for but it is about the will and determination that it takes to advance in the music industry and the true grit that defines an 'artist'.  The end result of Kayte Burgess' appearance at the Apollo was that the crowd ousted her within seconds of starting her rendition of Chaka Khan's "What cha Gonna Do For Me".  The now famous 'wop wop' took Kayte through most of her song before being escorted off.  No rhyme or reason to it - the young audience just felt like it.   But she really did still shine during her performance!  She kept belting out the lyrics, unshaken, despite the crowd's reaction.
 
 But Kayte's reaction to being 'wop wopped' off?  She said that she knew that there was a chance of it and that you have to take yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to stay sharp and to get ahead.  It's all about taking a chance.  I mean, if the now famous Lauryn Hill and Luther Vandross can get booed off four times at Amateur Night, then that is not bad company to be in! 
 
 But the crowd reaction was not unanimous.  We had many people come up to Kayte afterwards and told her that they loved her performance and that the younger audience just did not recognize the vintage song.  Many told her not to be discouraged and that many talented people had been ousted before her.  One man in particular went into great detail about how she made the Chaka song her own and that he was very impressed.  The main consensus was that a lot of the older, veteran crowd said that they were shocked when the 'wop wop' started, including Mike Jones, manager of Ali Shaheed Muhammad of Tribe Called Quest.  He told us that his jaw hit the floor!
 
 So, the quest continues to boldly move forward, head held high.  To all the up and comers out there, you can learn from Kayte Burgess - dare to be bold!

Irie Food Joint – Urban Vanguard Art Showing

Carl Cassell brought his brand of magic again for his Urban Vanguard series this past Monday.  I told you that you might recognize some faces so check out the PHOTO GALLERY and you will see what I mean!  The party was well-attended by some of Toronto's elite.  Carl Allen brought the goods as far as the turntable and the party-goers danced until the wee hours!

Carl is definitely an incredible artist so stop by Irie and see all the pics of some of your favourite icons and friends in person!

The Launch of Carl Cassell's Art Show: The Urban Vanguard II Series: I AM

Source:  Saada Stylo, Freelance Writing Services; SaadaBranker@saadastylo.com

Toronto, ON, February 23, 2006 -- True to form, the Irie Food Joint Restaurant at 745 Queen Street West is set for a gathering of Toronto's critical mass.

Loyal patrons will confirm it took 2.5 degrees of separation to bring everyone together. At the centre of the celebration is Irie's owner Carl Cassell -- an artist poised to unveil his much anticipated Urban Vanguard II Series: I AM, on Monday, February 27, 2006 at 7pm.  The Urban Vanguard Series II is a succession of 19 portraits, a continuum displaying Cassell's art formed exclusively in acrylic hair; it's a medium which has become his signature style. The images offer his portrayal of Canada's unsurpassed vanguards. They are, in Cassell's opinion, emerging producers of critical innovation in arts and entertainment.

Many of these groundbreakers have passed through the popular Toronto restaurant, often reasoning with its owner over a plate of food. Through their creative building, Cassell finds his inspiration.  "That's why I started the Vanguard Series," said Cassell. "You keep hearing about creative class, creative class. No one is looking to us and really we're the ones doing it. The industry that defines North America right now is entertainment."

Known for generating his own attractive energy, Cassell's unique medium was discovered from a moment of frustration in a hair salon in 1997. That day, what Cassell saw scattered at his feet triggered the conception of his "Hairing" creations. From the chaos of hair, Cassell brings to light his subjects' varying dimensions.  The series features: Musicians K-os, Shamakah Ali, Adrian Eccleston, and Wade O. Brown; Photographer Michael Chambers; Filmmaker Clement Virgo; Filmmaker and Poet Seth-Adrian Harris; Sprinter Donovan Bailey; Chef Anthony Mair; Opera Soprano Measha Brueggergosman; Entertainment Newsletter Editor Dawn Langfield; Toronto Police Staff Superintendent Peter Sloly; Festival Producer Pratik Ruparell; Magazine Publishers and Festival Organizers Donna McCurvin and Phil Vassell; Journalists and Writers Dalton Higgins, Jude Kelly and Saada Branker; and Poet and Producer Dwayne Morgan.

The Urban Vanguard II Series: I AM is slated for showing February 27, 2006 at the Irie Food Joint at 745 Queen Street West (west of Bathurst) at 7pm. Hope to see you there.

For information call: The Irie Food Joint at 416-366-4743 or email carl@iriefoodjoint.com.

 Penned by Saada STYLO

::MUSIC NEWS::

Buck 65 To Create Music For Junos
 

 By Karen Bliss for Lowdown
 

 (Feb. 28, 2006) "I'm the music this year," confirms Rich Terfry, a.k.a.
Buck 65, of his house band role of sorts at the 2006 Juno Awards broadcast live on CTV on April 2 from the Halifax Metro Centre, in Nova Scotia, where he was born.  Buck 65 is also nominated for video of the year at the Junos for "Devil's Eyes" off his 2005 album "Secret House Against The World," which he co-directed with Micah Meisner. In 2004, he won best alternative album for his 2003 breakthrough "Talkin' Honky Blues."  The MC, musician and turntablist who creates an arty mix of hip hop, rock, folk, jazz and the kitchen sink with a deep throaty spoken-word delivery bordering on rap, hails from Mount Uniacke, NS, a tiny rural town of a few thousand residents about 45 km west of Halifax, where he later lived and cut his rap teeth.  Terfry first heard rap in the mid-'80s on Halifax's Dalhousie University station CKDU, whose then 33-watt signal he was able to receive by climbing a tree in his yard. He later hosted his own hip hop show there, initially under the name The Bassment, then The Treatment, while working on his music career. He's since become internationally recognized for his eclectic songs and clever wordsmithery, touring all over the world, and counting Radiohead and Vincent Gallo among his fans.  "(The Junos) are happening in my hometown this year which may have been something that they considered. Maybe not. I'm not sure," says Terfry of the opportunity presented to him by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and Toronto-based Insight productions to do the incidental music.  "But also I think they wanted to do something new and maybe something that you could see as, I know if 'edgy' is the word, but there seems to be an awareness that the international perception of Canadian music is really changing and it's an exciting time right now and they want the show to reflect that. I think there's a little more of an eye to being hip and putting together a great show than maybe ever before."
 
 Terfry will create the main music for the awards ceremony, including the opening theme and any incidental music between performers and award presentations.  "That will all be me. I still have to get to work on that. We've been toying with some ideas but we really haven't come up with that music yet," he says from his home in Paris, France. "They'll be the opening theme and that will serve as the template probably for the entire program, so you'll hear variations on that theme throughout, but they'll also be the need for some other pieces of music here and there."  He's pretty positive the opening will have vocals. "I guess it was (2002) when Bakenaked Ladies hosted and they did a musical intro kind of thing and, vaguely speaking, it could be something along those lines."  Terfry, who has been known to perform solo with his turntable and a light bulb over his head as well as with a full band, says he is going with "a small group of us" for this opportunity. And he thinks they will be on the stage, not in some kind of pit like at a theatre production.  "I think off the top of the show, we'll be in one position and then move somewhere else after and we'll probably be somewhere there on the floor, but even a lot of those details that are still being hammered out," he says.  Once quite a tame affair that catered more to an older viewer, recent years have seen Juno Awards appeal to the very demographic the record labels gear most of their marketing campaigns all year (by having performances by acts like Feist and Billy Talent and this year Broken Social Scene and Bedouin Soundclash). Inviting Terfry to create the music for the show is quite an adventurous, cool move for CARAS, the organization which presents the Junos.  "It is hard to get people to take risks in high places, but when the Barenaked Ladies were hosting, these are guys that are very witty and there were some good laughs there. So they (CARAS) do have a bit of a sense of humour."  Terfry expects to be asked to submit his music in advance to CARAS, but would like to be able to do some improvising on the show.  "I anticipate that every step of the way there will have to be some kind of approval for things," he says. "I'm hoping that there will be some good room for some freedom there and to have some fun and so on, but when you're looking at this huge thing on national television, as you can expect -- and I've got a little bit of experience doing this kind of thing before -- everyone wants to run a very tight ship."  His little bit of experience was at the 2003 NHL Awards at Toronto's John Bassett Theatre. He opened the show with a live rap/spoken word performance set to a retrospective on the hockey season, then scratched and emceed from a balcony. "(It was) such a humourless event that anytime I tried to do anything that seemed at all like fun, it was shut down right away - 'No you can't do that,'" he says.

Nova Scotia's Matt Mays & El Torpedo Win Four East Coast Music Awards
 

 Source:  Steve Macleod, Canadian Press
 

 (Feb. 27, 2006) Charlottetown — Matt Mays & El Torpedo walked off with the most pewter and The Trailer Park Boys triggered an avalanche of F-bombs. The annual East Coast Music Awards were handed out Monday night in front of a capacity crowd at the Charlottetown Civic Centre that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “I know you,” boomed Trailer Park Boy Ricky as he pointed at a wide-eyed Harper seated in the front row with his wife, Laureen. “University of Alberta. 1982. Helix.” Island newspapers were flooded in the days preceding the show with letters from people who felt Ricky and his foul-mouthed, pot-smoking cohorts Bubbles and Julian were inappropriate choices as hosts of the annual showcase of Atlantic musical talent. The fuss was lampooned when the nationally televised broadcast opened with the myopic Bubbles urging Ricky to keep it clean. “Geez, Ricky, this isn't Showcase, it's the CBC,” he fretted as the three lounged in a small trailer parked on the arena floor. “You might be able to stop swearing for a few minutes, but not for a whole show.” Sure enough, their conversation included a number of bleeped F-bombs that became the show's running joke. Ironically, the Newfoundland band The Novaks performed a song that included three unbleeped expletives. “We came out and rehearsed it and nobody said anything to us,” singer Mick Davis told reporters after the St. John's rockers won the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award.
 
 “It's in the English language,” he added with a shrug. Mays and his Dartmouth, N.S., bandmates finished the night with four awards. The shaggy rockers won for rock recording of the year, group of the year, FACTOR album of the year and single of the year for Cocaine Cowgirl, which they performed during the show. Afterwards, Mays was asked about the band's scruffy, thrift-shop look. “People see us coming a mile away,” he replied, a battered wool cap pulled low over his eyes. “You can't polish a turd.” Mays figures he's put over 200,000 kilometres on the band's battered van, The Night Owl, in 2½ years of relentless touring and blistering live shows. The band opened last year for Blue Rodeo and Sam Roberts on national tours that helped grow their audiences from almost nothing when they started to full houses now. “What we're trying to do is establish a real fan base, not like an overnight fan base, because the ones that you work for stay forever,” said Mays. Celtic singer Mary Jane Lamond of Cape Breton went home with two awards -- female artist of the year and roots/traditional solo recording of the year for her latest album, Storas. Halifax singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett also won twice, for male artist of the year and for SOCAN songwriter of the year for his song Happen Now. “I wrote Happen Now on my father's tenor guitar, so I have to thank him for buying it,” Plaskett told the crowd after receiving the songwriting award. Country artist George Canyon was named entertainer of the year for the second consecutive year. It was the only award voted on by the public. “I figured Matt and the boys would win this -- they've been cleaning up,” said Canyon, who grew up in Nova Scotia's Pictou County but lives now in Alberta. “It doesn't matter where I live. I'm a Maritimer.” The Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to legendary Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster. His niece, Natalie MacMaster, performed a medley of his tunes, then gave her elderly uncle the award. “I started when I was 11 years old and that was 70 years ago,” the 81-year-old told the crowd. “Once I started, I never gave it up. I just loved the music.” The show also included live performances by Canyon, Lamond, Lennie Gallant and Bubbles, who sang a song called Liquor and Whores. J.P. Cormier of Cape Breton won for folk recording of the year for his album The Long River: A Personal Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot. Cormier said he's been a long-time fan of the Canadian icon and received approval from the man himself for the recording. “He is the bard by which I measure my writing,” Cormier said. “All songwriters look at him as the grandfather of Canadian songwriters.”

Arctic Monkeys Set Sights On North America
 

 Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic
 

 (Feb. 28, 2006) Whether their runaway success is traceable to indomitable rock `n' roll greatness or an astonishing herd mentality amongst critics and record shoppers, the Arctic Monkeys have arrived and there's nothing we can do about it.  The youthful Sheffield phenoms — all aged 19 or 20 — already seem destined to have the biggest album of the year in Britain with Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, which in January became the fastest selling debut record in U.K. history after selling more than 360,000 copies in one week. In the month or so hence, it's gone on to nearly double that sales figure.  Domino Records cautiously shipped only 100,000 units to North America when it unleashed the disc upon these shores a couple of weeks ago, but the Monkeys' ascension to a status in North America at least comparable to that of their labelmates Franz Ferdinand seems almost a foregone conclusion. They already sold out a tour of the continent last December before most people on this side of the Atlantic had heard them (they return to Toronto to open for Oasis at the Air Canada Centre on March 20 and play a solo show the next night at The Phoenix.)  Saturation hype tends to reap its own rewards.  "It's pretty amazing," concurs bassist Andy Nicholson from a tour stop in Amsterdam, albeit taking care to point out that the band's rise hasn't been quite the whirlwind the press has made it out to be.  "It seems like it is, but it's not really to us. I think everyone else around us feels it a bit more than we do.
 
 "I'm sure it'd be strange to someone who's in a different position and it's not happened to them — like, if they'd done an album and it's not done as well as they'd hoped," he muses, "and then this had happened on the second album. But, for us, this is our first album and we don't know any better than what's already happened. This is normal for us. This is just how it works."  A fine position to be in, for sure, for four school chums — Nicholson, front man/guitarist Alex Turner, guitarist Jamie Cook and drummer Matt Helders — who started playing just three years ago after a collective Christmas windfall of musical instruments.  After practising diligently for a year, they started gigging further and further a field from home as their frantic punk-pop pub jams caught on around the country through word of mouth and early recordings given away free at shows and then widely disseminated on the Internet.  By the time they signed to Domino last June, they were already selling out 1,000-seat venues without an actual record to sell. And when they finally had one, last fall's rambunctious singalong "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," it tore a blazing swath to the top of the U.K. singles chart.  "It seemed like every time we went somewhere there wasn't many people, but the next time we went back it was like everybody there had brought a friend so it just kinda doubled every time," shrugs Nicholson. "And then they started singing along and knowing all the words — more words than we knew — and it just started getting better from there, y'know. Now, it's a bit crazy. There's a lot of people coming now."
 
 The Arctic Monkeys are young enough to count such fellow young'uns as the Strokes and the Vines as major influences, but their giddy guitar-rock odes to beer, bouncers and bawdy nights on the town have succeeded by commendably ignoring the current U.K. fashion for angular New Wave revisionism, and picking up a more meat-and-potatoes Brit-rock continuum that extends from the Who through the Jam through the Libertines.  Pronouncements that the band will change the face of rock as we know it seem a bit premature, but the Monkeys — and the dauntingly talented lyricist Turner, in particular — have arrived at a heightened enough state that they might prove a force to be reckoned with over the long haul. If they can hold it together through such a meteoric rise.  "We control it and we've got good management and a good team around us," says Nicholson, already studied in the art of the Aloof British Pop Star. "If anything's happening and we don't want to do it at all, we'll just not do it. They've always supported us like that and that's the way we've always been from the beginning.  "There's nothing worse than trying to do something with a smile on your face when you don't wanna do it at all. So why waste anyone's time? We just do what we wanna do. Like interviews and things like that, sometimes we need to do 'em but sometimes we don't need to do 'em so there's no point in doing eight hours of press every day.  "We don't enjoy it and we just get bored, and then no one's getting anything out of it. We don't want to be there and they don't wanna be there. It's just a waste of time."

Christina Milian So Amazin' In Stores April 25
 

 Source: Amina Elshahawi, ThinkTank Marketing, amina@thinktankmktg.com, http://www.thinktankmktg.com
 
 
(New York, NY)  Island Def Jam recording artist and actress Christina Milian makes her long-awaited return to the front line with the upcoming April 25th release of her third album, SO AMAZIN’, produced in Miami by Cool and Dre.   In advance of the album release, the first single “Say I” featuring platinum rapper Young Jeezy impacted Urban radio on February 20th, and at Rhythm and Pop formats on March 13th.  The video shoot for “Say I” took place in Los Angeles on February 11 & 12, directed by Ray Kay (whose credits include Christina’s “Whatever U Want” and “Soldier” by Destiny's Child).  BET has announced their support of Christina and “Say I” with an ‘Access Granted’ special, airing March 1st.  ‘Access Granted’ is a ½ hour program, offering behind-the-scenes glimpses from the “Say I” set. SO AMAZIN’ is the follow-up to It’s About Time (June 2004), a breakthrough for Christina with more than half the songs co-written by Christina, and produc­tion by some of the heaviest hitters in R&B including Warryn Campbell, Corey Rooney, and Bryan Cox.  It’s About Time debuted at #14-bullet on the Billboard 200 on the strength of its first hit single, “Dip It Low” featuring Fabolous, produced and co-written by Poli Paul. “Dip It Low,” which peaked at #1 on the Dance Club Singles chart, and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award as Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, while It’s About Time was nominated as Best Contemporary R&B Album.  With her album bulleting up the charts through the summer and fall of 2004, Christina hit the road to open the North American tour schedule for Usher and Kanye West.  With SO AMAZIN’ on the horizon, Christina is also gearing up for the release of her next movie project.  Pulse, (Weinstein Company) a horror mystery thriller directed by Jim Sonzero (War Of the Angels), and based on Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Japanese film Kairo, is scheduled for release in July.  Pulse marks Christina’s 8th major film role since 1990, the most recent of which were Elmore Leonard’s Be Cool (2005, with John Travolta and Uma Thurman), Man Of the House (2005, with Tommy Lee Jones), video director Joseph Kahn’s Torque (2004, with Ice Cube and Dane Cook), Troy Beyer’s Love Don’t Cost a Thing (2003, with Nick Cannon), and Ashton Root’s Durango Kids (1999, with Larry Drake).  “Singing and acting are both my passions,” she has said of her twin career paths, “and they go hand in hand.”

Earth, Wind & Fire Remain As Timeless As Ever
 

 Source: KSA Public Relations, Sanctuary Records
 
 
(Feb. 28, 2006) New York, NY- February 15, 2006 - Coming off the heel’s of a GRAMMY Award nomination for Best R&B Album for their chart topping new release, Illumination, Earth, Wind & Fire have been nominated for a 2006 NAACP Image Award in the category of Best Duo Or Group and for a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album – Group, Band or Duo for Illumination.  In addition, Earth, Wind & Fire’s newest single, “To You,” featuring Brian McKnight continues to climb the Urban Adult Contemporary charts receiving major spins in top markets including WBLS in New York, WDAS in Philadelphia, WHUR in Washington DC, KJLH in Los Angeles and KBLX in San Francisco.  Earth, Wind & Fire is confirmed to perform the song on LIVE With Regis and Kelly on March 1st with special guest Brian McKnight.   2005 was an incredible year for Earth, Wind & Fire. Their 23rd career album Illumination hit stores on September 20th and debuted at # 32 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, marking a career best for the group. EWF’s influence and timeless signature sound is clearly felt on the album and was hailed by fans and critics alike for their creative collaborations with a new generation of soul artists such as Brian McKnight, Will.I.Am, Raphael Saadiq, Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, Kelly Rowland, Floetry, and Kenny G. USA Today proclaimed that “Earth, Wind & Fire is as vibrant as ever” and Billboard Magazine said that the “collaborations eloquently capture EWF’s classic horn-and-harmony sound.”  
 
 The group’s previous single off of Illumination “Pure Gold,” also garnered a 2005 GRAMMY nomination honouring its producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in the Best Production Non-Classical category. The first single off of Illumination, “Show Me the Way” featuring Raphael Saadiq, was nominated for a 2004 GRAMMY for Best Collaboration by a Duo or Group.  Earth, Wind & Fire continues to be simply one of the most important, influential, innovative and commercially omnipotent contemporary pop music bands of the 20th century. Their 35-year history has produced millions of albums sold worldwide including eight double-platinum albums, two platinum albums and three gold albums. Earth, Wind & Fire and the founding members have eight GRAMMY Awards, four American Music Awards, honours from the NAACP and BET, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the coup de grace: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000.   Confirmed tour dates for this spring are:
 
 March 2006:
 3, 4 - Rama, Ontario - Casino Rama
 
7, 8- Rams Head - Baltimore, MD
 10 - Washington, DC - Dar Constitution Hall
 12 - House of Blues, Atlantic City
 14 - Bergen PAC - Englewood, NJ
 17 - Boca Raton, FL - Mizner Park Amphitheatre
 18 - Orlando, FL - Universal Orlando
 20 - Sarasota, FL - Van Wezel Performing Arts Center
 22 - Clearwater, FL - Ruth Eckerd Hall
 23 - Ruth Eckerd Hall - Clearwater, FL
 25 - Kinder, LA - Coushatta Casino
 26 - Corpus Christi, TX - American Bank Center Arena

New Clark Sheard album; Christopher 'Play' Martin's gospel/rap DVD
 

 Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
 
 
(Feb. 28, 2006) *Gospel artist Karen Clark Sheard spoke to Billboard.com about her latest album “It’s Not Over,” recorded for Word/Curb/Warner Bros. at her home church, Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of Christ in Detroit.  "I wanted to stick with praise and worship music, and Israel is just awesome," she says.  The daughter of gospel music pioneer Dr. Mattie Moss Clark is thankful to still be performing after developing a blood clot several years ago and lapsing into a near-fatal coma. “The doctor had given me a two percent chance to live," she says. "Afterwards, I was trying to sing and play, and it was hard because of what my lungs went through. That's when I started thinking it was over for me and I wouldn't be able to sing. That's when God spoke to me and said, 'It's not over until God says it's over.’”
 
 *
Christopher “Play” Martin, best known as one half of the old school rap duo Kid ‘n Play, is releasing “Holy Hip-Hop,” an 82-minute DVD loaded with various rappers from the gospel music genre.  "When I got introduced to this world about ten years ago, I had no idea it was around," Martin told AllHipHop.com. "I've been blessed to get a second time around and it's very special to see the packed concert halls to basements, watching crowds of all kinds going bananas over hip-hop tracks and flows like it used to be."  Martin, currently CEO of HP4 Digital Works, became a born again after getting involved in the gospel rap scene during the mid-1990s. Soon, he realized that his true calling was in the film realm.   "After I realized my purpose and true love for film making, I pitched the idea to my partners," Martin said. "I was given all access into the lives of most of these incredible artists [on the DVD] and now I hope I have contributed in sparking a new life into the Hip-Hop culture.    Martin produces, directs and hosts the DVD, which arrives in stores on March Mar. 21 with 5.1 surround sound, interactive menus, scene selections and trailers.

Roy Ayers: His Sunshine is Ubiquitous
 

 Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Deardra Shuler
 

 (Feb. 28, 2006)
Roy Ayers was relaxing after a wonderful night of smooth jazz and eclectic melodies at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York.  Mr. Ayers was upbeat and feeling good about his show. Accompanying Roy on his vibraphone was Mark Adams on keyboard; Ray Gaskins on saxophone; Donald Nicks on bass and Troy Miller from England on drums. Two delightful singers, John Presley and Richard Shade, completed the evening.  Between sets, we sat backstage at the Iridium discussing Ayers lengthy show business career which has spanned over 40 years, a career that is still going strong.  Originally from California, Ayers is now a New Yorker. As a child, Ayers played piano but took up the vibes after seeing Lionel Hampton perform.  “My parents played Lionel’s music all the time so when they finally took me to see him, I went crazy.  He had a big influence on me.” Stated Ayers.  Ayers formed the ‘Latin Lyrics’ in High School and later worked with flautist/saxophonist Curtis Amy.  “I think basically my talent comes naturally, although I studied with a concert percussionist in Los Angeles.” Roy dropped out of City College and began to work professionally with Herbie Mann.  “Prior to Herbie, I worked with Gerald Wilson’s Big Band and artist Nancy Wilson, among others” stated the enduring artist.   “I joined Herbie Mann’s band in 1966 and worked with him for 4 years.  In 1970, I formed my own band.  I called it Roy Ayers ‘Ubiquity.’  Ubiquity means the state of being everywhere at the same time.” explained the jazz vibraphonist. At 65, Roy Ayers is ebullient and content.  He commands the stage. He charms both his audience and his mallets, adeptly stroking each with a showmanship that has come through years of honing his craft.  His mallets caress the vibraphone, coaxing out of it silky jazzy refrains which only a soulful jazz master at the top of his game can do.  He smiles and giggles as he teases and delights the audiences with his comic tales and soulful musical stylings.  Songs like “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” which is his trademark signature. “I try to play many different sounds and styles,” stated Ayers. “I play Latin Jazz, a little funk, a little R&B and even a little rap.  I play everything.  I mix it all up.  I think that is the keystone to my popularity and longevity.  Although I have been a professional artist since 1941, I change with the times as musical styles continue to change and become more popular. 
 
 For instance, the emergence of rap is so strong it is almost phasing everything else out” commented the charismatic artist.   “I have been very fortunate. A lot of people have sampled my work.  Mary J. Blige was my real big sample.  She sold in excess of 3 million albums of my song “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” but on her own album, she called it “My Life.”  It was a big hit for her.  Rapper 50 Cent also sampled the same song in his movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin.’  I have worked with and written for artists like: Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders, Rick James, James M’Tume (who is a prolific speaker, composer, and host of the radio show Open Line on Kiss-FM). I have recorded with Vanessa Williams, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, and Whitney Houston” remarked the fertile songwriter and musician.  Ayers recently released “Roy Ayers: All Over the World” on DVD and on CD “Roy Ayers: Sunshine Man.”  “I have discovered that oftentimes when artists record on a major record label, the label eventually drops everybody.  This causes artists to have to find another record label where oftentimes, nothing else happens.  In my case, I record on the AFI CD Record label, which is my own label.  I also record with Ono Melodic Records.  The year before last, I recorded an album called “Mahogany Vibe.”  The problem I am having is getting my records in record stores.  There are so many artists recording their own music and trying to get it into the marketplace.  Initially, I didn’t have problems getting my music directly into the record stores,” explained Roy.  “I was selling the records so fast that the major recording companies informed the stores that I should go through a distributor.  That slowed down the sales.  Sometimes these recording companies are greedy.  Rather than pay an artist their due, they will let the artist go. They wait until after the artist has signed with another label.  If the artist then gets a hit while at the new label, the former record company simply releases product they were holding on the artist and may label it something like “The Best of Roy Ayers” surmised Roy. 
 
 Ayers also formed Uno Melodic Records with Nigerian Fela Kuti, with whom he recorded while touring in Africa. “Africa was a wonderful experience.  I learned about some of the African ways and music and was very excited about that.  I recorded “Music of Many Colors,” in Nigeria.  I learned from Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician who had 27 wives.  Fela said the Elders of the Tribe would allow a man to marry more than one woman if the man had a lot of land.  Fela had a lot of land,” chuckled Ayers.    Though people have given Ayers’s music many labels, Ayers calls it Smooth Jazz.  “People call my music Jazz Fusion, Smooth Jazz, and “Acid Jazz.”  When I first heard the term “Acid Jazz, I thought they meant LSD, but later, I realized they meant my music was like acid because it eats right into your brain.” Grinned the amused performer.  Ayers ushered in the New Year performing at the Jazz Café in London.  He plans a European tour in February and will perform at the 2006 ‘Superstars of Jazz Fusion’ alongside jazz flautist Bobbi Humphrey, Jon Lucien, Lonnie Liston Smith, Jeanne Carne, and Wayne Henderson, et al.  From June through September, 2006 he will tour the U.S. and Europe.     Mr. Ayers’ website is: www.RoyAyers.com.

Tupac and the Smithsonian
 

 Source: Marcus Franklin, Associated Press
 

 (Mar. 1, 2006) NEW YORK -- For nearly three decades, hip-hop relics such as vinyl records, turntables and boom boxes have collected dust in boxes and attics. Yesterday, owners of such items -- including pioneering hip-hop artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Fab 5 Freddy -- blew that dust off to take them to a Manhattan hotel to turn them over to National Museum of American History. The museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, is announcing its plans to embark on a collecting initiative, Hip-Hop Won't Stop: the Beat, the Rhymes, the Life. The project, the beginnings of a permanent collection, will gather objects that trace hip hop's origins in the Bronx in the 1970s to its current global reach. It is expected to cost as much as $2-million and take up to five years to complete. Museum officials have yet to raise the money, which will come from private donors. They will use the funds to pay for artefacts, record oral histories, hold consultations with advisory groups and mount an exhibit telling hip hop's story. Hip-hop culture, whose main elements include rappers, DJs and break-dancers, is considered one of the most powerful cultural explosions ever. Today, it's incorporated into marketing for everything from cars and clothing to furniture.
 
 "Hip hop was born in New York but it's now a global phenomenon," said Valeska Hilbig, a National Museum spokeswoman. "It's here to stay, and it's part of American culture just like jazz is part of American history. It's part of the narrative we tell at the museum." The idea for an exhibition grew out of conversations between Brent D. Glass, the national museum's director, and his childhood friend Mark Shimmel, of Mark Shimmel Music, museum curator Marvette Perez said. "It's American music," Perez, who staged an exhibition on Latin music singer Celia Cruz, said of rap. "It shows the creativity that exists in urban environments." Besides records, boom boxes, mikes and turntables, Perez requested photographs, posters, handwritten lyrics, clothing and costumes, videos and interviews and business and personal letters from hip-hop's early artists.  Hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, scheduled to attend yesterday's announcement at the Hilton New York, wouldn't say what he planned to donate. But he called the Smithsonian's recognition a "great statement for hip hop." "It's not a signal to the end of hip hop," Simmons, co-founder of the Def Jam label, said of the Smithsonian's undertaking. "We know it will be a lasting fixture. All over the world, hip hop is expression of young people's struggles, their frustrations and opinions." Simmons's brother, Joseph (Rev. Run) Simmons, a member of the seminal rap group Run-DMC, also was scheduled to appear at the announcement. The Smithsonian isn't the only museum with an interest in hip-hop culture. In the fall of 2000, the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York put on Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes & Rage. In June, the museum plans to feature an exhibition of graffiti art, spokesman Adam Husted said. The Museum of the City of New York plans to hold Black Style Now in September on hip hop's impact on fashion and black fashion designers. And the Experience Music Project, an interactive music museum in Seattle, has featured exhibitions on hip hop, Perez said.

Grammy-Nominated Rapper T.I. To Debut New Album And Film
 

 Source:  Warner Music Canada
 

 (Feb. 27, 2006) Grand Hustle/Atlantic recording artist
T.I. has announced details of his highly anticipated new album, "KING," set to drop March 28, as well as his big-screen debut in "ATL," set to open March 31.  "KING" follows the breakthrough success of 2004's RIAA platinum-certified "URBAN LEGEND," which spawned such smash hits as "Bring Em Out" and the Grammy nominated "U Don't Know Me." "What You Know," the first single from "KING," was #1 most-added track at both CHR/Rhythmic and Urban radio nationwide.  The single's companion video, shot earlier this month in L.A., features cameos by actor Mike Epps and Blink- 182/Transplants Travis Barker of Blink-182/Transplants fame.  Veteran hip-hop video director and Atlanta native Chris Robinson not only directed the music video, but also the upcoming Overbrook/Warner Bros. Pictures film, "ATL," starring T.I.  The music video shows a day in the life of T.I., where he attends the premiere of "ATL," joins the film's cast at the theatre, and then attends the after-party.
 
 T.I. (Tip Harris) will make his acting debut in "ATL" as lead character Rashad. The film tells the story of a group of four friends who have just graduated from high school in Atlanta. "ATL" spotlights the city's famed Jellybeans skating rink, a popular hangout not only for the teens in the film, but for both T.I. and Robinson as real-life teens growing up in Atlanta.  Songs from "KING," including "What You Know," "Front Back," and "Ride Wit Me," which is the featured song in the film's trailer, will appear in "ATL."  The film is set for release March 31.  Atlantic Records and Warner Bros. Pictures are working closely together on both projects, partnering in field marketing, advertising, publicity, and screenings. In conjunction with both the release of "KING" and "ATL," T.I. will make appearances at exclusive movie premieres in Houston, Dallas, Chicago, and Detroit the week prior to the projects' release dates.  The rapper also plans to make appearances at larger premieres in Atlanta and Los Angeles the week of March 27.   T.I. was recently nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for his song "U Don't Know Me." He also walked away from the Second Annual VIBE Awards with a win in the Street Anthem category for the same song.  This summer, T.I. will exclusively sponsor two teen girls on the first T.I. Music Sponsorship with It's Cool To Be Smart "Single Parent Initiative" as part of his ongoing commitment to support the local Boys & Girls Club in Atlanta.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Pamela Anderson To Host Juno Award Telecast

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Feb. 27, 2006)
HALIFAX (CP) — The Juno Awards will undoubtedly be a sexier affair than in previous years with the announcement Monday of Pamela Anderson as host of the April 2 bash.  The actress will pilot the two-hour show, which will feature performances by Nickelback, Michael Buble and Broken Social Scene. It'll air on CTV.  "Canadian music rocks," Anderson said in a statement.  "No matter where I am in the world I can listen to Canadian music and feel like I'm at home. This is going to be one kick-ass awards show."  Anderson is no stranger to the world of music, having been married to Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and later engaged to country-rocker Kid Rock.  She's also dabbled in singing. The former Baywatch babe joined Bryan Adams on his latest CD for a duet of his 1998 hit "When You're Gone".  Adams has already signed on to perform on the show, during which he'll be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.  "She's pretty rock 'n' roll," Adams has said of Anderson, who grew up in Ladysmith, B.C.  No word on whether singing will be part of her hosting duties.

India.Arie Testifies On New Album

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Feb. 28, 2006) Neo-soul artist India.Arie will release her third album, "Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship," May 9 via Universal Motown. First single "I Am Not My Hair" reached No. 6 earlier this month on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales chart; it can be streamed from Arie's official Web site.  The artist told Billboard in June 2005 that "Life & Relationship" would be the first half of a two-volume project, with the second instalment covering love and politics. It is unknown if that project is still in the works.  The new album will be the follow-up to 2002's "Voyage to India," which debuted at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.   Arie also co-wrote the title track of Stevie Wonder's 2005 comeback album "A Time 2 Love" with the legendary artist.

Actress Juliette Lewis Committed To Her Band

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Feb. 28, 2006) Hong Kong -- Actress-turned-rocker Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers, Cape Fear) says she'll continue to act, but it would take an outstanding script to pry her away from touring with her band, Juliette and the Licks. "For something to take me away from the music right now, it has to be spectacular. I don't want to settle for something less than a really interesting film director," she said in an interview in the March issue of Prestige Hong Kong magazine. Lewis said her band has toured on and off for about seven or eight months in the past year. AP

Prince Counts Down To ‘3121’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Feb. 28, 2006) *The promotion machine behind Prince’s March 21 release of his “3121” album has picked up steam since beginning Feb. 4 on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”  His appearance gave the long-running sketch comedy series its highest ratings since 2004.  The artist formerly known as The Artist performed the “3121” tracks “Fury” and “Beautiful, Loved & Blessed,” featuring his R&B protégé Tamar.  Prince’s new video for the track “Black Sweat,” directed by Moroccan director Sanaa Hamri, is currently in rotation on MTV and BET.  "This is a return to vintage Prince," stated BET's Stephen Hill, Executive Vice President for Music and Entertainment. "BET viewers, both longtime fans of Prince and new admirers are primed for this video, the perfect showcase for a true national treasure once again delivering like no other artist can." As previously reported, Prince’s “Purple Ticket Campaign” allows fans lucky enough to come across a special purple ticket to attend what is being billed as An Evening With Prince - A Private Performance At Prince's House.    Digital tickets may also be scored through a sweepstakes on Apple's iTunes online music store. If you don’t have computer access, a limited number of purple tickets will be included in specially-selected “3121” albums beginning on its March 21 release date.

Juvenile Mourns New Orleans In New Album

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Feb. 28, 2006) *Juvenile’s Atlantic Records album “Reality Check,” the rapper’s first since leaving Cash Money Records, is a beloved ode to his hometown of New Orleans and the people affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  He tells USA Today of the storm’s arrival: "Fortunately, I wasn't there, but my family was there, and I had to get all of them up out of there. I was coming from Kentucky, trying to get back down to New Orleans, and the hurricane was on its way, and the highway was already full with people trying to get out."  In October, Juve (Terius Gray) returned home to find his brand new home had been destroyed.  It looked as if "somebody had dropped a bomb on New Orleans," he said. In December, he returned to the decimated region again to film a video for the album’s first single, “Get Ya Hustle On.” The four-day shoot took place in the Lower Ninth Ward near where the levees were breeched. It follows three kids who find masks with the words "Help Is Coming" on one side and the faces of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Mayor Ray Nagin on the other as they pick their way through the rubble.         "What I'm trying to show is what they should have done from Day 1, when all of these helicopters started pulling up filming," he tells USA Today. "They could have been dropping these people food and water and flotation devices and life jackets, and a lot of people's lives could have been saved." “Reality Check,” due March 7, features production by longtime collaborator Manny Fresh, as well as tracks by Scott Storch, Jazze Pha, Jermaine Dupri and Lil' Jon. Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, R. Kelly and Brian McKnight.

Ray Parker Jr. On The Comeback Trail

Source: Barbara Shelley; 323-658-6909; babspr@aol.com; www.rayparkerjr.com

(Feb. 25, 2006) LOS ANGELES -- Raydio Music announces the release of I'M FREE from Ray Parker Jr who is best known for his many hits during the '80s.  Parker first gained fame as leader of Raydio with such hits as "Jack And Jill," "You Can't Change That," "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)," and later as a solo artist, with "The Other Woman" and the #1 smash, Grammy and BAFTA Award winning, Oscar nominated "Ghostbusters!." A more mature artist with a new sound, I'M FREE truly reflects Ray's newfound freedom.  "I composed the songs around my favourite instrument, the guitar. It played a central role in all of these compositions," says Parker.  "I've always wanted to make a record with no restrictions on my creativity... one that would allow me to play my nylon stringed acoustic as well as my electric guitars. Also an album that would allow me to lyrically express what life holds for me and my friends at this moment in time."  With a fresh perspective that has resulted from many of the same personal life stories that his listeners have experienced, Ray is back with a new sense of purpose.  "I took a break mainly because both of my parents became ill, and I found myself taking responsibility for the people that brought me into the world," Parker says in a hushed voice. "I also felt it was important for me, to spend time with my kids watching them grow up. And I'm proud of that decision." Ray wrote every song on the album with the exception of the David Gates/Bread hit  "The Guitar Man."  From the beautiful acoustic guitar opening on "Mexico" to the closing instrumental "Gibson's Theme," Parker takes the listener on a heartfelt journey that is both musically stunning and lyrically moving. I'M FREE is available at www.rayparkerjr.com and 888.606.Music (6874) and all major online music accounts.  Raydio Music will soon be offering the CD at a discount to bulk buyers at www.raydiomusic.com.  Ray is enthusiastic to tour, visit radio stations, record stores, make TV appearances, and talk with the press. Ray will also create an online fan club.  He's also reaching out to music supervisors for film and television.

::TV NEWS::

Rogers OMNI.2’s New Weekday Court Show Delivers Tough Brand of Justice
 

 Source:  OMNI.2
 

 (Feb. 23, 2006) Toronto, ON –
Judge Alex E. Ferrer has seen it all – he is the only television judge with former experience as a police officer, trial attorney and criminal court judge – and now viewers in Ontario can catch his straight forward style of justice on Rogers OMNI.2, beginning Monday, March 6th at 5:30 p.m.  For 30 minutes each weekday Judge Alex will preside over an emotionally charged courtroom, resolving an array of complex issues with his insight and humour.    “We’re pleased to bring Judge Alex to viewers in the Ontario market; it’s more than ‘just another’ courtroom drama,” says Malcolm Dunlop, Vice President of Programming and Marketing.  “With Judge Alex positioned to lead into two more hours of reality-based, high-power programming -- Law & Order Criminal Intent and SVU -- OMNI.2 offers a solid alternative during the dinner hour.”    With more than 20 years of experience, Judge Alex is well respected and well equipped to handle whatever is thrown his way. Throughout his high-profile tenure on the bench, Judge Alex has handled thousands of cases, ranging from first degree murders and drug related offences to family and financial matters.    
 
 While his rulings will strictly follow the law, viewers will be able to follow the action closely and find Judge Alex (both the man and the series) engaging and entertaining.     Rogers OMNI Television is a free over-the-air system consisting of four regional broadcasters covering nine markets in British Columbia (Victoria, Vancouver, and Fraser Valley), Manitoba (Winnipeg), and Ontario (Ottawa-Gatineau, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area). All Rogers OMNI Television stations are owned and operated by Rogers Communications in the Rogers Media division, and have the collective mandate to reflect Canada’s diversity through the airing of inclusive and accessible programming. In addition to specializing in Canadian multicultural, multilingual and multi-faith programming, OMNI TV also carries well-known American and International series and films.  OMNI.2 is currently available across Canada to Starchoice subscribers on channel 395, and to ExpressVu subscribers on channel 216. LOOK carries OMNI.2 on channel 70 in Ontario.

Cable-TV fee fights seen looming over CRTC decision
 

 Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Grant Robertson And Catherine Mclean

 

 (Mar. 1, 2006) Sweeping regulatory changes in cable television have set the stage for a potentially bitter fight between specialty channels and cable companies over how much the channels will be paid for their services. The CRTC says it wants to stop regulating the fees that many analog specialty-TV channels charge to cable distributors that carry their programming.  At the same time, however, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wants the cable operators to keep selling services in groups of channels, known as tiers, until 2013. That is intended to ease the concerns of the specialty channels that they will lose subscribers as the cable world embraces the so-called à la carte model.  The advent of digital TV allows customers to buy channels either in theme packs or individually, which the industry refers to as à la carte or pick-and-pay. It also paves the way for the introduction of new services that analog can't handle, such as high-definition TV.  The CRTC made the proposals in a lengthy policy paper this week that outlines how analog specialty channels will be treated as the world moves to digital. Many players called it very complex. The regulator says it wants to get out of regulating rates for the specialty channels just as it now has no role in determining what cable companies charge their customers.  If the regulator is no longer setting the prices, the cable companies and channels will have to negotiate what they believe each channel is worth.
 
 Channels with larger audiences, such as The Sports Network or The Score, would have more bargaining power and might try to command higher rates. In contrast, channels serving smaller audiences, such as Vision TV, which airs multicultural and faith-based programs, acknowledge they may be bargaining from a weaker position. "There is that little bit of disadvantage in negotiations being a smaller player," said Mark Prasuhn, chief operating officer of Vision TV. "The concern is not limited to Vision; it's any smaller or unaffiliated service. The leverage [some channels have] with distributors is going to be less significant." An official with the CRTC expects several bigger channels will seek higher rates now that there will be no CRTC-mandated starting point for the negotiations, but predicts they will run into opposition from the cable companies. Shaw Communications Inc. president Peter Bissonnette believes it's too early to measure the impact. Still, he says, "it's always interesting when you get into negotiations and you have to carry somebody; the negotiations for rates become more difficult."  The CRTC wants the tiered system on digital, which mirrors the analog channel groups, kept in place until 2013. But it proposes that that system can be dropped after 2010 if the cable operators transfer more than 85 per cent of their subscribers to digital.  Cable operators say the move to digital TV gives them the opportunity to sell more services, such as video-on-demand and high-definition TV channels. But the digital age is also creating new rivals for the cable companies. Telecommunications companies, for example, are using Internet protocol (IP) technology to send TV signals over phone lines, while TV networks are starting to sign deals to offer their shows via Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod devices and through Google Inc.'s new on-line video store.  Ken Engelhart, vice-president of regulatory affairs at Rogers Communications Inc., said its customers need to be able to pick and choose the channels they want, or else they'll turn to the Internet.  "People can get TV over Internet, downloads over iPod; there's a whole range of new options," Mr. Engelhart said. "The TV industry has got to be competitive with customers who are increasingly wanting to watch what they want, when they want. We have to move with the times. [The] decision went a long way helping us to do that." But Shaw believes the CRTC needs to speed things up. "If you look at the way that things are moving and as rapidly as they're moving . . . 2010 or 2013, where there's the fully unfettered ability to move services from analog to digital, that's a long time," Mr. Bissonnette said. "A lot can happen in seven years."

TV's McCloud, Chester dies
 

 Source:  Associated Press
 

 (Feb. 28, 2006) LOS ANGELES—Dennis Weaver, an actor with a Midwestern twang who played stiff-legged Chester the deputy on Gunsmoke and the cowboy cop hero in McCloud, has died. He was 81.  Weaver died Friday from complications of cancer at his home in Ridgway, Colo., his publicist said yesterday.  "He was a wonderful man and a fine actor, and we will all miss him," said Burt Reynolds, who appeared with Weaver in Gunsmoke in the early 1960s.  Weaver's 50-year career included stage plays and movies. But his real success was on TV, where in addition to his cowboy roles he shared the screen with a 270-kilogram black bear on Gentle Ben and faced down a murderous big rig in the early Steven Spielberg movie Duel.  Weaver starred last year in ABC Family's Wildfire as the eccentric owner of a thoroughbred racing ranch.  "His performance never ceased to dazzle us," the cable channel said in a prepared statement. "He was an American legend not only for his contribution to the acting community but for his extensive and inspirational environmental work."  The tall, rangy actor was born June 4, 1924, in Joplin, Mo., where he excelled in high-school drama and athletics. After navy service in World War II, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma and nearly qualified for the Olympic decathlon.  He studied at the Actors Studio in New York and appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Shelley Winters and toured in Come Back, Little Sheba with Shirley Booth.  In 1955, Weaver was doing freelance features and TV spots and delivering flowers when he was offered the Gunsmoke role for $300 a week.  Weaver wasn't immediately taken with Deputy Chester Goode, his character in Gunsmoke, he wrote in his 2001 autobiography, All the World's a Stage. Weaver considered the role "inane" but told himself "I'll correct this character," using his training and experience.  His odd gait and his drawling "Mis-ter Dil-lon" gave him a memorable on-screen presence — even in the shadow of 6-foot-7 James Arness, who played Marshal Dillon.  Weaver won an Emmy for his role in the 1958-59 season.  Weaver appeared in several other shortlived television series, but it was Sam McCloud that Weaver called "the most satisfying role of my career." The show, which ran from 1970 to 1977, featured him as a New Mexico lawman cast on the streets of New York City with a horse, a sheepskin coat and a folksy manner that belied his shrewd crime-solving talent.  Off-screen, Weaver served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and involved in environmental and charitable causes. He leaves his wife, Gerry, three sons and three grandchildren.

TV TIDBITS

Grey's Anatomy Star Reveals Dyslexia

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press


(Mar. 1, 2006) NEW YORK — Grey's Anatomy star
Patrick Dempsey said his childhood wasn't so McDreamy: he wasn't diagnosed as being dyslexic until he was 12 years old.  "I think it's made me who I am today," said Dempsey, who plays neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd on the hit ABC series, in an interview on The Barbara Walters Special airing Wednesday night at 10 p.m. EST.  "It's given me a perspective of — you have to keep working," Dempsey told Walters.  "I have never given up."  Dempsey, 40, said he struggles while reading scripts and memorizing his lines.  "I think that's when I get the most insecure...it's very hard for me to read it off the page," he said.  "I need to memorize it, in order to go on."  Dempsey, now experiencing a career comeback since dropping off Hollywood's radar screen after his 1980s romantic comedy days, said he was once prone to difficult behaviour.  "You can't have temper tantrums," he said.  "You have to be professional and I don't think I understood that at the time."  On Grey's Anatomy, Dempsey's character is nicknamed "Dr. McDreamy" by the hospital's female interns, including Dr. Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo.  Walters also interviewed Matthew McConaughey, George Clooney, an Oscar nominee in multiple categories and Mariah Carey, for the 25th edition of her Oscar special.  The show, which previously aired before the Oscars show on the East Coast and immediately following the show on the West Coast, was moved back this year to the last night of sweeps and following an original episode of Lost.  The Oscars are slated to air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

MTV Canada To Launch In March

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Grant Robertson

(Mar. 1, 2006)
MTV Canada will launch on Canadian airwaves March 21, the CTV network announced Wednesday. The station, which will compete with CHUM Ltd.'s Much Music station with music-related, celebrity and talk programming, will make the announcement at 1 pm EST, CTV said. The launch date for MTV Canada had been a closely-guarded secret within CTV, which secured the rights to operate a Canadian version of the U.S.-based pop-culture network last year. The announcement comes a week after CTV said the network would be housed at Toronto's historic Masonic Temple, where it has installed a three-metre by four-metre MTV Canada logo. The building has housed performances and rehearsals of several music acts in past years, including bands such as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. CTV and The Globe and Mail are part of Bell Globemedia, which is controlled by BCE Inc. The MTV Canada license was held by Craig Broadcasting, but became available after that network was bought by CHUM. MTV was allowed to pull out of the deal because of the ownership change. The TV launch of MTV is expected to coincide with a roll out of the networks on-line strategy, which will include downloadable content. However, the CTV incarnation of MTV requires the network to operate the station under a Talk TV licence, meaning it will focus on lifestyle shows through its cable channel, rather than running music videos, the network has said.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Short Still Stands Tall
 

 Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

 
 (Mar. 1, 2006) When
Martin Short dances through the aisles of the Royal Alexandra Theatre, you know it's no ordinary morning.  And indeed, the crowd of media and subscribers who sat in delighted bafflement yesterday as the Hamilton-born comedian careened around them weren't witnessing your average Mirvish subscription season launch.  Four of the seven shows were previously revealed in the Star: Monty Python's Spamalot, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Legends and Orpheus Descending.  The three surprises were the return to Toronto of the longest running show in this city's history, The Phantom of the Opera; a revival of the 1972 Stephen Schwartz/Bob Fosse musical Pippin, and a presentation of Theatre Gargantua's provocative look at life in the Internet age, E-Dentity.  Joan Collins and Linda Evans swept on stage to the music from Dynasty, serving notice that big glamour and big hair would both be part of Legends, the James Kirkwood comedy they'll star in this September.  On the other hand, Orpheus Descending stars Seana McKenna and Jonathan Goad were consummately Canadian, swapping jokes about how they had to purchase the clean undergarments they were wearing at the drugstore because of their crazy work schedules.  Cameron Mackintosh and Stephen Schwartz appeared on film to flog (respectively) Phantom and Pippin, while the cast of E-Dentity acted out a small scene from their highly physical theatre piece.  That left the stage ready for Short. With Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman looking like a piano-playing hobbit who had escaped from a Lord of the Rings rehearsal next door, the "Ritalin-deprived" Short burst from the wings to grab the audience by the scruff of their necks and shake them into hysterical laughter.  He performed two of the outrageously funny numbers Shaiman (and his partner Scott Wittman) had written for him: a mock-Godspell ditty called "Stepbrother De Jesus" (complete with leper jokes) and an Elaine Stritch-ian ballad of rehab survival called "Twelve Step Pappy."
 
 During the last number, Short literally danced through the audience while seeming to hold a note longer than Ethel Merman in her heyday.  Afterwards, Short unwound in the theatre's lounge as he told the Star more about his piece.  "Our timing is great," he enthused, "now that James Frey has come along and got everybody doubting everything. It's all about sleaze and revelation and self-humiliation," shouted Short like a demented revivalist, before breaking into a grin: "Of course it helps if you sing it."  He breaks into an a cappella version of another song from the show:  "The days of Brice and Jolson are long gone, alas!  Just show them all your mug shot and the crack pipe up your ass."  Things were just as outrageous at the other end of the room, where Joan Collins, resplendent in a cleavage-baring red dress, was holding forth about her role as Sylvia in Legends.  "Yes," she throbbed in that made-for-phone-sex voice of hers, "I'm playing Sylvia, the bitchy, witchy one. What a surprise! Tell me, darling," she asked, leaning forward, looking about half of her 72 years, "why do I always play tramps and hookers and tarts?"  She didn't wait for an answer but went right into a discussion of how the big Act II catfight between her and Evans should be staged.  "I know they originally ripped each other's wigs off, but I think that's been done to death. Let's try ripping off something else." Her eyes sparkled. "Like our clothes."  When Martin Short dances through the aisles of the Royal Alexandra Theatre, you know it's no ordinary morning.  And indeed, the crowd of media and subscribers who sat in delighted bafflement yesterday as the Hamilton-born comedian careened around them weren't witnessing your average Mirvish subscription season launch.  Four of the seven shows were previously revealed in the Star: Monty Python's Spamalot, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Legends and Orpheus Descending.
 
 The three surprises were the return to Toronto of the longest running show in this city's history, The Phantom of the Opera; a revival of the 1972 Stephen Schwartz/Bob Fosse musical Pippin, and a presentation of Theatre Gargantua's provocative look at life in the Internet age, E-Dentity.  Joan Collins and Linda Evans swept on stage to the music from Dynasty, serving notice that big glamour and big hair would both be part of Legends, the James Kirkwood comedy they'll star in this September.  On the other hand, Orpheus Descending stars Seana McKenna and Jonathan Goad were consummately Canadian, swapping jokes about how they had to purchase the clean undergarments they were wearing at the drugstore because of their crazy work schedules.  Cameron Mackintosh and Stephen Schwartz appeared on film to flog (respectively) Phantom and Pippin, while the cast of E-Dentity acted out a small scene from their highly physical theatre piece.  That left the stage ready for Short. With Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman looking like a piano-playing hobbit who had escaped from a Lord of the Rings rehearsal next door, the "Ritalin-deprived" Short burst from the wings to grab the audience by the scruff of their necks and shake them into hysterical laughter.  He performed two of the outrageously funny numbers Shaiman (and his partner Scott Witman) had written for him: a mock-Godspell ditty called "Stepbrother De Jesus" (complete with leper jokes) and an Elaine Stritch-ian ballad of rehab survival called "Twelve Step Pappy."  It was during the last number that Short literally danced through the audience while seeming to hold a note longer than Ethel Merman in her heyday.  Afterwards, Short unwound in the theatre's lounge as he told the Star more about his piece.  "Our timing is great," he enthused, "now that James Frey has come along and got everybody doubting everything. It's all about sleaze, and revelation and self-humiliation," shouted Short like a demented revivalist, before breaking into a grin: "of course it helps if you sing it."  He breaks into an a cappella version of another song from the show:  "The days of Brice and Jolson are long gone, alas!  Just show them all your mug shot and the crack pipe up your ass."  Things were just as outrageous at the other end of the room, where Joan Collins, resplendent in a cleavage-bearing red dress, was holding forth about her role as Sylvia in Legends.  "Yes," she throbbed in that made-for-phone-sex voice of hers, "I'm playing Sylvia, the bitchy, witchy one. What a surprise! Tell me, darling," she asked, leaning forward, looking about half of her 72 years, "why do I always play tramps and hookers and tarts?"  She didn't wait for an answer but went right into a discussion of how the big Act II catfight between her and Evans should be staged.  "I know they originally ripped each other's wigs off, but I think that's been done to death. Let's try ripping off something else." Her eyes sparkled. "Like our clothes."

Play's Imperfect But Actors Excel

 Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

 
 Past Perfect
 

 By Michel Tremblay. Directed by Leah Cherniak. Until April 2 at Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave. 416-531-1827
 
 
(Mar. 1, 2006)  If acting were an Olympic sport, then
Caroline Cave would probably have added even more medals to Canada's impressive total in Turin this year.  In Michel Tremblay's play Past Perfect, which opened at Tarragon Theatre last night, she displays the kind of fearless courage and willingness to go the distance that marks all the greats — whether in athletics or the arts.  She plays Albertine, a woman so wrapped up in her own emotions that she becomes a spinning top whose centrifugal force blinds her to the fact that the rest of the world watches her with a mixture of tranquility and horror.  The end result isn't necessarily the best or most coherent script you've ever encountered, but it does provide the opportunity for some highly effective acting, not just from Cave but from the four other members of the cast.  This character, based on Tremblay's own aunt, is a prominent figure in a dozen of his plays and novels but, although he's been writing about her since 1966, it's only in this last work, originally produced in 2003, that he comes to the crux of her problem.  We're in Montreal, in 1930, and Albertine is 20 years old. She's still recovering from the loss of her "beau" Alex. He's a young man she dated for over a year, before he dropped her via a "Dear Albertine" letter that sent her into a two-month nervous breakdown. To add insult to injury, he began dating her 18-year-old sister, Madeleine, only a short time later.  It sounds like fairly simplistic stuff: Quebecois chick-lit from the Depression Years. But Tremblay has a lot more on his mind.
 
 If you've watched his plays over the years, you know what a profoundly unhappy woman Albertine turns out to be and he wants us to see where it all came from.  No, the problem isn't that a guy threw her over for her sister. It's the fact that she holds on to the pain the way some kids clutch their teddy bears. What we see here is an exercise in sheer psychotic obsession. Add a boiling bunny and we're into Fatal Attraction country.  The trouble is that the script grows awfully schematic. Albertine has a "big" scene with each of the major people in her life: her mother, her sister, her brother and her ex-beau. They all tell her what's wrong with her and she lashes out with ever increasing ferocity.  Each scene has real punch, but their ultimate sameness stops the play from achieving any kind of a cumulative effect. And while Cave acts her heart out as Albertine, the author never really makes us care for her.  Nancy Beatty is magisterially touching as her suffering mother, Claire Calnan beautifully restrained as her sister, Jeffrey R. Smith flamboyant but poignant as her gay brother, and Brendan Gall makes Alex the most empathetic person in the play. We know just why he ran away from this loose cannon of a woman, fully loaded and ready to fire.  Director Leah Cherniak has framed the whole thing with a lot of silent movie clips, both real and simulated (Cave alternates with Garbo). They drive home the theatricality of Albertine's grief, but make us wonder whether or not we're supposed to care for this woman.  Cave never asks for our sympathy, but she earns our admiration. The play is more perplexing. Why does it ask us to feel negatively about a woman who is more interesting than anyone else on stage? The answer may be clear to Tremblay, but it remains distressingly murky to us.
 

::THEATRE NEWS::

We Remember Octavia Butler

 Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
 
 
(Feb. 28, 2006) *Author Octavia E. Butler, renown as the first African American woman to receive notoriety as a science fiction writer, died Sunday at her home in the north Seattle suburb of Lake Forest Park. She was 58. Butler fell and hit her head on the walkway outside of her house, where her body was found Friday (Feb 24) according to Leslie Howle, a longtime friend and employee at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Butler, who moved to Seattle in 1999 from her native Southern California, suffered from high blood pressure and heart trouble and could only take a few steps before having to stop and catch her breath, Howle told the Associated Press. The reclusive Butler, who referred to herself as “a happy hermit,” was the first science fiction writer granted a 'genius' award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which paid the author $295,000 over five years beginning in 1995. The windfall carried Butler out of years of poverty and personal battles with shyness and self-confidence.  Butler was 10-years-old when she began writing, inspired by a cheesy B-movie called 'Devil Girl from Mars.' After the screening, she thought, 'I can write a better story than that.' In 1970, she boarded a bus from her hometown of Pasadena, Calif., to attend a fantasy writers workshop in East Lansing, Mich.   Butler's work wasn't did not consist of the stereotypical robots and ray guns associated with science fiction, Howle said. She employed traditional devices of the genre to explore  race, poverty, politics, religion and human nature.  
 
 Her first novel, 'Kindred,' followed a black woman who traveled back in time to the South to save a white man. Butler’s attempt to find a publisher for the book was a struggle, as publishers repeatedly rejected the manuscript. The time-travel novel that saw a black woman from 1976 Southern California transported back to the days of slavery didn’t seem to fit the science fiction mold followed by publishers.  However, Butler kept submitting the novel, and finally landed a publisher who paid her a $5,000 advance for the work.   Published in 1979, “Kindred” became a popular staple of school and college courses and now has more than a quarter million copies in print.  Butler went on to write about a dozen books, plus numerous essays and short stories. Her most recent work, 'Fledgling,' an examination of the 'Dracula' legend, was published last fall.   'She stands alone for what she did,' Howle told the Associated Press. 'She was such a beacon and a light in that way.'

::SPORTS NEWS::

Canada Already Looking Onward And Upward
 

 Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - James Christie
 
 (Feb. 28, 2006) There is an afterglow from Canada's record 24-medal achievement at the Winter Olympics in Turin, but no lull in the hectic pace of getting athletes ready to top the medal standings at Vancouver four years from now. "We're already up to our eyeballs in 2010," said Ken Read, the president of Alpine Canada and leader of the association of 14 national winter sports organizations. "There are World Cups and world championships to finish out this season, some of them here in Canada, where Canadians can see the next set of Olympic athletes, and our athletes can get used to performing at home." There's no pause in the action, no pause in the spending. Positive feedback on Canada's Olympic performances has been flowing in to Read and officials of the Own the Podium 2010 program, the $22-million-a-year bankroll to give elite Canadian athletes with medal potential everything they need to maximize their chances, including coaching, nutrition, counselling and the latest high-tech equipment for training and competition. The five-year Own the Podium is being funded half by governments and half by major sponsors of the Vancouver Games. "We've been getting continuous feedback from the public and sponsors that say, 'Clearly the team is doing great and you guys [planners and administrators] are, too,' " Read said. "Canadians don't want to go to major events half-prepared. This [record medal performance] is something the winter sport organizations have known to be possible for Canadians for decades. Winning is very much part of what Canadians want, but in the past we just haven't been able to do it, for reasons of support or whatever."
 
 Own the Podium is "the icing on the cake" for Canadian athletes, he added, over and above the core funding of their sports by Sport Canada. The broad partnership that develops athletes includes the national sport bodies, Vancouver Games fundraisers, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Calgary Olympic Development Association.  Own the Podium can be an important finishing touch that puts a good athlete over the top, Read noted. For instance, the program paid the cost of testing sleds and suits of Canadian skeleton racers in an Ottawa wind tunnel at a cost of $15,000 a hour. The return on that investment was a men's gold medal and a silver and a women's bronze. There were no bleats of envy from Canadian athletes in Turin, wishing they had the conditions and equipment that others enjoy. Canadians won medals in 10 sports, a wider spread of talent than any country, and female athletes accounted for 16 of the 24 medals, more successful than the women of any country.  "We've been getting postcards from athletes who want to say thanks," said Claire Buffone, the director of operations for Own the Podium. "One card was signed by all of Canada's biathletes, and there have also been e-mails and phone calls." The COC's projection for Turin was 25 medals if Canada wanted to be on track for a world-topping 35 medals in Vancouver. The previous best was 17 at Salt Lake City in 2002, and the interim goal of 25 this year was met with some scepticism. "When the goal of 25 medals was put out, the context was what had been done in the past," Read said. "But those in sport know that Canadians have gone into past Games half-prepared. . . . "This is a team that will capture the imagination of Canadians, that will do what people want them to do, and demonstrate that Canadians can and will win." Canadians won't have to wait long to see the possible athletes of 2010.
 
 Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que., will stage the world junior alpine championships this week -- 250 athletes from 30 countries under the age of 20. Read said two athletes to watch there are Shona Rubens of Canmore, Alta., who was on the Olympic team, and Stephan Guay, younger brother of Erik Guay. "A good third of our team [are potential 2010 Olympians]. It's an extremely important benchmark for us." The World Cup ski tours pick up as well, with the Canadian men going to South Korea for giant slaloms and freestyle moguls and to Japan for two slaloms. The women head to Sweden for alpine speed events and cross-country. There's snowboarding World Cup action this week in Russia and next week at Lake Placid, N.Y., while freestyle aerialists are in Davos, Switzerland. Closer to home, Read said the Canadian championships at Whistler, B.C., will be the first tests of those facilities as an Olympic site, and the world figure-skating championships are scheduled for March 20 to 26 in Calgary.

'Everyone Has Clean Slate,' New Raptors GM Says

 Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Doug Smith, Basketball Reporter
 

 (Feb. 28, 2006)
Bryan Colangelo has assumed control of the Raptors basketball organization, vowing to make no significant changes right away.  “Everyone absolutely has a clean slate,” Colangelo, 40, said after being introduced as the team’s president and general manager this afternoon.  “I told Wayne (Embry), I’ve told Sam Mitchell, I told the team that every one starts with an absolutely clean slate.  There are going to questions about my guys coming in and different things that might happen but it’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be about building relationships, learning the culture of this organization as quickly as I can; about integrating myself into this city.”  Colangelo had been the president and general manager of the Phoenix Suns until resigning Tuesday to take the Toronto job. He said the unique situation in Toronto made it an easy decision to jump in the middle of a season.  “You need to look at other opportunities and continue to grow in your life and it was an opportunity to grow,” Colangelo said at a news conference.  “It’s a challenge . . . the timing worked out and the opportunity was afforded me to talk to this organization and I made the most of it.”  The son of iconic NBA executive and former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo spoke highly of Embry’s continued role in Toronto and also vowed to give coach Mitchell every chance to continue the work he’s done so far..  “I would not have taken this job, I would not have spoken to the board of directors without the inclusion of Mr. Embry,” said Colangelo.
 
 “It’s a young team, it’s poised to make a run, there is a coaching staff that is in place that Wayne assures me . . . is a very capable staff. . .  “It’s not unlike the team we had in Phoenix a couple of years ago.”  The 40-year-old Colangelo spent 17 years with the Suns, the past 11 as general manager. In the 2004 off-season, he lured Canadian guard Steve Nash away from Dallas, and Nash went on to earn Most Valuable Player honours that season.  "I'm ready to branch out," Colangelo said during a news conference Tuesday. "I've got 15 very good years behind me with respect to what's gone on in Phoenix and my participation there ... This is just the next step in what I hope to be a long and fortuitous career."  Colangelo steps into a favourable situation in Toronto. He will have salary cap room, a decent draft pick and a budding young star in Chris Bosh.  Colangelo succeeds Rob Babcock, who was fired Jan. 26 by the Raptors.  Embry, who was not interested in the GM's job long term, is a long-time friend of the Colangelo family. Colangelo said he wouldn't have considered the job had Embry not been in the mix.  "Wayne has been a big part of my life in that my father Jerry had a great relationship (with Embry)," said Colangelo. "He will serve as a mentor for me. We can never lose sight of the fact that there's people in your lives who guide you."  Toronto has been competitive since a 1-15 start but is still fourth in the Atlantic Division. The Phoenix team built by Colangelo leads the Pacific Division and has the NBA's fourth-best record.  Colangelo's contract with the Suns was reportedly worth $1 million (U.S.) per year and expired at the end of next season. He also has an ownership stake in the Suns that he'll have to sell.  The Raptors reportedly offered Colangelo a multiyear deal worth $3 million (U.S.) per year. The job gives him more power over basketball operations than he has with the Suns.  "I can truthfully tell you, this was not a decision about money," Colangelo said.
 
 With files from Canadian Press