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LE NEWSLETTER

August 16, 2007


Ah, the bliss of summer!  I love August in Toronto!  This week I've got my coverage of Crop Over in Barbados - TONS of pictures - some more racy than others!  A little somethin' somethin' for everyone!

Also this week, check out the pictures from
Honey Jam - what a great night with some heavy-hitting talent!  I didn't catch the entire show but some artists are represented in my PHOTO GALLERY.  

Haydain Neale Update.  I'm so sorry friends but I really do not have an update - only that Haydain is still in critical but stable condition.  The family's quest for privacy still stands but as soon as anything changes, I will let you know.  Continue the prayer chain!

 

::BARBADOS CROP OVER 2007::                                                        

What do you get when you mix scorching humidity with torrential rain?  Barbados Crop Over 2007Apparently the weather was not typical although the rain does usually fall during Crop Over - just not in these extremes.  Guess we got part of that tropical storm.  Anyways, I have written some tips below for rookie Crop Over attendees to keep in mind for 2008! 

Myself, David Pye (Meeting and Incentive Travel, Montreal) and Alex Waithe (CHIN Radio) were the Canadian journalists on this trip, along with FLOW 93.5 winners and their guests - Valerie Taitt, Clive Picardo, Wayne Singer, Marshall Richards, Jason Howard, Anne-Marie Ellis and Colin Czechowski (all pictured right). 

Scroll down to see the decorative costumes and more!

I stayed at the
Accra Beach Hotel in Christ's Church parish, which I highly recommend especially with their newly opened spa and wing of new rooms.  Just beautiful in a great location for easy access to the rest of the island.  Ask for Andre Downes, sales manager as he's a guy that gets things done and handles high maintenance people like me with ease!  A special thanks also to John Martineau, General Manager of Accra Beach for the gifts and genuine and special treatment. 

Thank you also to the Barbados Tourism Authority, for giving me this opportunity and of special mention is Ruth Phillips, for taking care of our needs no matter what and with integrity.  Pictured here with me is Ruth Phillips, BTA and Ciara Lavalle, freelance journalist from Miami as we attended the opening night welcome BBQ at Accra Beach Hotel. 


Crop Over – what is it you ask?  Well, what does your mind envision when you think “Caribana” or how about “Carnival”?  Barbados, as usual, serves up their festival with precise execution and a unique blend of events.  Overall, it is a five-week summer festival. 

Why is it called
Crop Over?  Its origins can be traced back to the 1780's, a time when Barbados was the world's largest producer of sugar.  At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest - the Crop Over celebration.  As the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so too did the Crop Over festival and in the 1940's the festival was terminated completely. However, the festival was revived in 1974 and other and more modern elements of Barbadian culture were infused to make the extravaganza that exists today - an event that attracts thousands of people from across the globe. Even today, the Crop Over King and Queen are those who've actually harvested the most sugar cane.

::Catamaran Cruise - Friday, August 3, 2007::                                                        

First order of business on Friday, August 3rd?  A
Tiami catamaran cruise with a crew of local ships men.  An afternoon of snorkelling with the gorgeous fishes, swimming and the turtles .... ohhh the turtles.  It was a mostly sunny day, which would be one of our only ones.

::Pic-O-De Crop Finals – Friday, August 3, 2007::                                                   

One of the most popular events during Crop Over, the Finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop is a tension-filled and exciting competition at the National Stadium when ten vocal finalists compete for the year's Pic-O-De-Crop crown and top prizes. The competition is strongly supported by locals and is the climax of weeks of tent performances by the calypsonians, who each sing two songs before a panel of judges who award points based on lyrics, content, performance, melody and diction.

This year’s host was MacFingall who was recently in Toronto for the World Comedy Clash representing Barbados, held the audience captive with his comedic antics and kept the momentum of the evening at high energy.  Calypso music and calypso competitions are a huge part of the Crop Over Festival. Every performer is judged on their social commentary or party songs for the Pic-O-De-Crop and Party Monarch competitions in Barbados.  A style of calypso music called 'picong' which is from the French word "piquant" meaning cutting or stinging means making jokes about someone in front of his/her face, was interwoven into many artist's performances.

This year’s winner of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition was the legendary,
Red Plastic Bag.  A definite audience favourite with revellers wearing Red Plastic Bags on their heads or wearing red in support.  Impressive to me that after a night of celebrating his victory, Bag showed up to press conference early the next morning to sing the praises of Bajan calypso talent pool and the needed funding to keep it alive.  He is clearly a spokesperson for the genre and despite his absence from the competition for three years, his return signifies that legends do survive, despite the mere 3 points that he won the crown by!  It has been said that the quality of the competition had dropped in his absence from the game but Kid Site was the reigning king meanwhile.  Bag has been an island favourite for years and had won the competition for 7 years.  He is known for his songwriting skills and the quality and consistency of his calypso.  With his veteran colleagues, namely, Gabby, John King, Serenity and Invader, among others, rumoured to be retiring, he stands tall with pride for the natural culture of calypso. (With notes from Martin Jay, Choice FM, U.K.)

::Bridgetown Spring Garden - Saturday, August 4, 2007::                                      

The famous Spring Garden Highway is the heart of the Festival for the final three days of its calendar. The entire stretch of road is converted to a bustling marketplace of art and craft, produce, fashion and foods of all kinds. Visitors to the market can also enjoy a wide variety of entertainment from tuk bands, steelbands, dance groups, folk and gospel groups and calypsonians.

::Dreamland Fete - Saturday, August 4, 2007::                                                       

Now you may have heard of 'fetes' which are the late night parties that surround the Crop Over festivities - a incredibly popular island favourite.  The one that we went to on Saturday night was entitled "Dreamland" sponsored by one of the mas camps, Power X Four.  A wonderful experience from beginning to end as we were greeted by scantily clad young men and women with free drinks - what more could you ask?  This as a night where the journalists from all over Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean and Europe could cut loose a little and enjoy a fete!  Dreamland was an island version of Cirque du Soleil of sorts with monkeys, angels, mermaids and lots more.  Given the theme name, lots of people were dressed in their sleepwear - and lack thereof! 

Well, see for yourself - what a gorgeous group of people!  And a surprise guest came in the door - see the last picture.  A little something for everyone in these pics!

::Island Safari - Sunday, August 5, 2007::                                                              

Only a few hours sleep and we were off to do the 4 x 4 Land Rover tour of the island to check out some of the secret beauty of Barbados.  I highly recommend this tour for some folklore tips and some real 4x4ing through the woods and unbelievable scenery!  Just like a postcard.

::Cohobblopot - Sunday, August 5, 2007::                                                              

Back to the National Stadium for Cohobblopot, (a potpourri of cultural talent) which is an event that includes performances by some of the hottest musical bands and calypsonians. (Note: Slaves on plantations to describe a stew with a variety of ingredients used the word “Cohobblopot”).  It is also when the Kings and Queens of the costumed bands parade before a panel of judges.

Macfingall hosted again with his crazy antics but having the crowd in the palm of his hands the entire evening.  This was one of my favourite nights with a great live band and several artists bringing their talents to the stage - a big night with lots of local talent that included many icons of calypso including the winner of Pic-O-De-Crop Red Plastic Bag, John King, Observer and Serenader along with soca artists among them, Gregory Ayuen and Mr. Dale.

The anticipated arrival on stage by dancehall artist, Mr. Vegas (known for hits like 'Hot Wuk' and 'Nike Air') lit up the night and was by far the highlight of the night.  Feeling that he was too far from the stage and his fans (as did most of the artists who performed), he jumped off the stage, through the media pit and eventually over the fence and into the fans!  The crowd ate it up and it ignited an already hot night. 

Iwer George had the unfortunate position of taking the stage after Mr. Vegas but still managed to bring an excitement to the night with hit hot lyrics.  Mr. George sang his hit “Fete After Fete” which recently won the title of International Soca Monarch 2007.

::Kadooment - Monday, August 6, 2007::                                                                

The biggest event of them all for Crop Over - Grand Kadooment Day.  The colours of the rainbow were represented as the rain came down but did not diminish the spirits of the mas camps.  It's a spectacular daytime street carnival with a procession of thousands of Crop over costumed band revellers, partying from the National Stadium where they parade before a panel of judges. Each band that entered the stadium were not only announced but their themes and leaders were also announced in an informative narrative. 

They then take to the streets where it becomes a huge all day street party / jump up to the Spring Garden Highway.  All this in extreme weather and despite the torrential rain at times which are revealed in the pictures below, the revellers really didn't seem to mind and I was told that most hoped for rain as otherwise it can be scorching.  You'll see some
Canadian flags there as well!

We got soaked both by humidity and the rain but few were bothered but for me, the confessed rookie, it did put a damper on the festivities during and afterwards.  Perhaps if I go back, I will embrace it!

All in all this was a good trip despite the busy itinerary and timetable we were assigned.  But I was lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and hang out with great and funny journalists.  Would have liked to have attended more fetes and spent more time going to local hangouts though - I think it's the only way you experience Crop Over the way that the locals do. 


::Crop Over Tips for Rookies::                                                                                 

1.  Pack an umbrella and rain poncho and bring lightweight clothing.

2.  Drink a Banks, the local beer and definitely order 'mac pie', the Bajan version of macaroni and cheese - scrumptious!

3.  Embrace the word 'fete' and find as many as you can - the high price includes drinks and sometimes live music.

4.  Go on the Tiami catamaran cruise which includes snorkelling, jet skiing, swimming and an on-board lunch. 

5.  Go on the Island Safari on a day before going to a fete (unlike us who had very little sleep and then had to get in a jeep!) Very informative and lots of stops for photo ops.

6.  In grey or sunny weather, sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen!

 

::HOT EVENTS::

The Ice Cream Men Are Comin' - Saturday, August 25, 2007

Source: Ajahmae Live Entertainment

By popular demand, Ice Cream Fest's hosts, Jay Martin and Trixx are joining forces for one night only to bring you the hippest, funniest, and most insane comedy show!  If you enjoyed the Ice Cream Summer Fest with jagged edge SWV, KCI and Jojo, New Edition and more,  then you are going to love this show with all the best hosts Toronto has ever seen.  You will laugh you a** off!   Trixx and Jay Martin funnier than ever. Lots of prizes and surprises.  Musical acts also featured and DJ Starting from Scratch spins for the afterparty.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25, 2007
ICE CREAM PRESENTS: JAY MARTIN AND TRIXX'S 2 MAN COMEDY SHOW
Panasonic Theatre
651 Yonge St (between Wellesly and Bloor)
Doors open 8:00 pm
Info line 416-949-2766 or www.jaymartin.tv
Early bird tickets are just $20 plus taxes
Click HERE for Ticketmaster

HARLEM EVENTS**
Week of August 16-22, 2007

For information on the vibe of Harlem Restaurant and live music venue: Go to www.harlemrestaurant.com.
 

Date

Name of Event

 

August 16

Harlem Nights

DJ Carl Allen spins all night long

Doors: 9pm

August 17

A Hot Summer Night in Harlem


 

Juno Award winner Carlos Morgan aka Carll Parkes and guest D’Anise and Moondog perform

Doors: 9pm

Show: 10pm $10

August 18

Shades of Harlem – Comedy Night


Funnybone Production presents:

  •  Trixx (FLOW 93.5)
  • Dana Alexander (Video on Trial, Yuk Yuks)
  • headliner Kenny Robinson (host of Yuk Yuks Nubian show, had his own t.v.show called "AfterHours")
  • host Dred Lee -the funniest dread in Canada

DJ Kariz spins for the after party

Doors: 9pm $10

August 22

Vertigo

DJ David James (deep house deep tech garage)

Doors:9pm

**HARLEM
67 Richmond St. (at Church)
Tel:
416-368-1920

::SCOOP::

Have You Heard Keite Yet?

Bio Excerpted from www.myspace.com/keiteyoung

Note from Dawn: 
**RUN**, don’t walk to pick up this CD!  I’ve heard the entire thing and it’s HOT!  Ever wonder what it would sound like if you put D’Angelo, Maxwell and Prince together?  No?  Well, Keite is the perfect infusion of the soul ‘sound’.  His picture should be beside the definition of 'soul music' in the dictionary.  Believe me when I say … GET IT! Last time I endorsed someone, it was Robin Thicke - you can't go wrong!

In a crowd, he'd be easy to spot: He's the one standing just apart from the pack, inquisitive and meditative, his quiet interrupted by his own deafening thoughts. And, oh yeah: He'd be the one discreetly observing YOU. That’s who Keite Young is, a zealous voyeur awestruck by the parade of humanity called life. The burning interpretation of his sensitive, poignant annotations comes out in, as he wryly puts it, The Wash--which, in this case, is his music.

During "The Rise and Fall of Keite Young", his debut Hidden Beach CD set for release in early Spring 2007, the singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist channels the musical passion and adventure of Al Green, Muddy Waters, Sly Stone and the Beatles to artfully create his own singular, dynamic space of storied, gospel-tinged, soul barn-burning and unrelenting live rock and funkified grooves.  Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Youngs dichotomy is rooted in a large family ruled by spirituality and music. His mother and father both sang and toured in fellow Texan Kirk Franklins group The Family . Young himself sang lead vocal on Let My People Go, Franklin/Familys contribution to 1998s The Prince of Egypt soundtrack, and he joined his parents as a performer during Franklins Nu Nation Tour.

Listen up and bear witness to The Rise and Fall of Keite Young, current emphasis being the rise. As for the fall, don’t hold your breath.....Coming in August 2007!!

::OPPORTUNITY::

Open Casting Call For Role Of Slain Rapper

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 9, 2007) NEW YORK – The role of
Notorious B.I.G. for an upcoming biopic on the rapper will be found through an open casting call, the film's producers told The Associated Press on Thursday. The still untitled Notorious B.I.G. project, which has been in the works for nearly seven years, will seek its star by auditioning actors and non-actors alike who resemble the rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace. Anyone can submit audition videos beginning 3 a.m. (EDT) Sunday to www.foxsearchlight.com/notorious or www.biggiecasting.com. An official announcement of the online casting call will be made Friday by Fox Searchlight Pictures, which in 2005 secured the rights to a film about the slain rapper. Wallace's mother, Voletta Wallace, and his two former managers, Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, are producing the movie. "As it relates to the individual Christopher Wallace – his looks, his stature, what he represented, the swagger, the sensibility of the man – all those elements are very difficult to find, no matter where you go," Barrow said Thursday. "In the typical Hollywood world, no one came to mind outside of Forest Whitaker who could capture that essence genuinely.'' Barrow said the film's producers never approached Whitaker because – though he would have been ideal – at 46-years-old Whitaker is more than twice the age Wallace will be for much of the film. Wallace was gunned down at the age of 24 on March 9, 1997, after a music-industry party in Los Angeles.

"We thought it would be best to open it up to the world and ... give somebody the opportunity to step into his shoes and fulfill their own American dream," said Barrow. In a statement released to the AP, Voletta Wallace described the qualities the producers are seeking. "There will only be one Christopher Wallace, but I'm happy that his legacy will open a door for another to walk through," said Wallace. "I don't want you to just imitate him. I want to see his swagger, his style, his energy and smile come through.'' Though Antoine Fuqua (``Training Day,'' "Shooter'') was two years ago reported to be close to agreeing to direct, Barrow confirmed that Fuqua will not helm the Wallace biopic. In an interview earlier this year with the AP, Fuqua said he was apprehensive about the degree of control the producers had in developing the script. "They're in the record business, they're not in the film business," Fuqua said then. Barrow said he remains friends with Fuqua and that timing was the only issue. As of yet, no director has been named, but the producers expect to name someone soon. That casting has already begun could chafe potential directors, but Barrow believes whoever takes the reins of the film will see that the open casting call "was something that needed to happen.'' The script was written by Cheo Hodari Coker and Reggie Rock Bythewood. Coker, a hip-hop journalist, wrote the biography ``Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G.'' The film intends to focus on the Wallace not seen in his public life, zeroing in on "the humanity within Christopher himself,'' said Barrow. He added that no real-life character in Wallace's world will play himself, given the passage of time. The producers hope to begin production this fall.

::TOP STORIES::

GTA Man Dies At Actor's L.A. Home

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(August 14, 2007) Family and friends will hold a memorial later this week for a Mississauga-raised actor/screenwriter whose death at the home of a Hollywood celebrity still remains a mystery.
Jacob Adams, 40, was found dead on Aug. 3 at the home of Ving Rhames, a friend and mentor, after what appeared to be an attack by two of the actor's mastiff dogs. But police have determined Adams did not die as a result of injuries received from the dogs and an autopsy has failed to determine a cause of death. West Hollywood Police Lt. Ray Lombardo has reportedly described the cause of Adams's death as "undetermined," pending further testing. Howard Adams, the victim's brother, says the family is still having difficulty coping, especially as a result of the mystery that remains.

"The biggest thing for us all right now is we still don't know what the cause of death is. All we know at this point is that the dog bites weren't sufficient to cause the death. But there is no apparent or obvious cause of death," Howard Adams said. Jacob Adams was born in Jamaica but came to Canada in 1979 after he was adopted by a Canadian family. His brother says he showed an early interest in writing and film. "The film industry has always been a passion of his (Jacob's). This is something he always wanted to do and was very much involved in," Howard Adams said. Jacob got his first break in 1991 with The Sharon, Lois and Bram Christmas Special before moving on to Babylon, Blues Brothers 2000, the remake of Dawn of the Dead and, in 2005, the USA Network's movie version of the former TV crime drama, Kojak, in which Rhames played the famed lollipop-loving police detective.

He also did some stunt work and acted as Rhames's double in films.  Adams, who also lived for some time in Vancouver, resided at Rhames's Brentwood home for the past two years as a caretaker for the actor's four dogs. Oral McPherson, his Vancouver agent, released a statement in which he described Adams as someone who "loved the film industry and was always there to help – paid or not." Rhames, who was out of the country at the time of the incident, has since been in contact with the Adams family to express his shock and condolences, Howard Adams said. "It's a tough time for (Rhames) and his family as well," Adams said. Most recently, Jacob Adams had penned the screenplay for Animal II, the soon-to-be-released sequel to the 2005 film starring Rhames, and had several other projects in the works, Howard Adams said.

Adams said Jacob returned to Mississauga frequently to see his adopted mother, Dawn, his brother and sister, Dawn Adams-Louis, and their families. He also had family – including his birth mother – living in Jamaica. "The family was very important to him, especially the kids in the family," Howard Adams said.  The memorial service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at World Vision Canada at 1 World Dr. in Mississauga.

Toronto's Waterfront Engulfed By Caribana Parade

Excerpt from www.toronto.ctv.ca

(Aug. 4, 2007) As many as a million people braved the heat and flocked to the waterfront for Toronto's 40th annual
Caribana parade Saturday.  The event, featuring spectacular dancers in shimmering costumes and elaborate headdresses, began  at 10 a.m. at Exhibition Place and moved west along Lakeshore Boulevard until it reached Colborne Lodge Drive.  About 25,000 people paraded during the flagship celebration of the largest Caribbean festival in North America, CTV's Naomi Parness reported.  Many of them, parading along the 3.6-kilometre route, were wearing elaborate, expensive, and sometimes heavy costumes.  Some of the flamboyant ensembles were reported to have cost anywhere from $10,000 to a whopping $30,000. One Caribana enthusiast told CTV their costume weighed about 300 pounds.  When asked how she managed to tow her feathery pink and purple ensemble, Natasha Waithe said the festival's vibe fuelled her feet.  "With energy and a little extra adrenaline rush ... it just takes you over," the parade participant said, catching her breath.  As crowds swelled, police were out in force, using cameras to monitor the celebrations.  Lakeshore will remain closed between Strachan Avenue and Colborne Lodge for hours after Caribana fans disperse so crews have a chance to clean up after the party -- it will re-open to traffic on Sunday at 6 a.m.

Caribana Brings Tourism Bucks For Toronto, But Has Struggled To Profit

The Caribbean Cultural Committee organized the festival for 38 years, but accusations of fiscal mismanagement leveled by city hall forced a change in how Caribana is planned in 2006.  The City of Toronto stepped in and replaced the CCC with the Festival Management Committee.  Mayor David Miller, who was on-hand for the celebration, said he could see the once-fledging event beginning to flourish.  "It's grown so much -- it needed a professional hand ... it's on the right track," Miller said.  Although Caribana has struggled with its finances in the past, Naomi Parness reported organizers are optimistic the event will turn a profit this year.  One of the reasons is the festival has received increased funding and more corporate sponsors, who had shied away from the event in years past because of shootings and other crimes that occurred during the celebrations.  CTV, one of the proud sponsors of this year's event, had a float in the parade.  Tourists flocking to Toronto for the gigantic celebration also pump about $300 million into the local economy during the event.  CTV's Naomi Parness talked to one family who came all the way from Trinidad, the birthplace of the original Caribana, for the event -- and said the Lakeshore parade was incredible.  Although the traditional festival focuses on Trinidadian culture, Toronto's Caribana is a mesh of unique backgrounds from all the Caribbean islands.

Caribana Beyond The Parade

On Sunday, the Molson Amphitheatre will host the five-hour Caribana Imagine Music Concert, starting at 6 p.m. The event features Grammy-winning reggae artist Sean Paul and R&B singer Ne-Yo.  The last four days of the festival will be filled with more music during the Jazz by Genre Summerfest, which runs from August 9 to 12 at The Docks.  A Caribana mask exhibition will also stay on display at the Blue Dot Gallery in the distillery district until Aug. 12.

New Heritage Minister Inherits A Full Plate

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Val Ross

(August 15, 2007) When
Josée Verner, 47, was named yesterday as Canada's latest Minister of Canadian Heritage, she inherited rocky and contested terrain. While many red-meat Conservatives, especially from Stephen Harper's Alberta heartland, want to see culture turned over to the market, polls show that plenty of voters in Quebec and urban Canada still like the idea of federal support for the CBC, museums, ballet tours and galleries. In contrast to Bev Oda, her stolid predecessor, Verner is telegenic. A former Quebec provincial Liberal, then involved with the Action Démocratique du Québec, she has, since last year, been Minister of International Co-operation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages.  Verner's file is bulging with priorities. Oda made two major commitments when she came into the job in February, 2006: a CBC mandate review, and a long-overdue update of copyright legislation. She accomplished neither.

CBC is now an even hotter issue. The search is on to replace president and chief executive officer Robert Rabinovitch, due to step down later this year, and to fill two of CBC's top news and current-affairs jobs. (As The Globe and Mail reported last week, Egon Zehnder International, the headhunting firm working on filling these latter positions, defines them in strange terms. The jobs involve "a significant shift in decentralizing decision rights ... and [organizing] a reallocation of resources to support these changes" -- which sounds as if someone high up already has the CBC's new mandate all mapped out.) Copyright reform is also pressing, thanks to strident American complaints. Canada is seen as such a haven for pirates of video games, movies and music recordings, the U.S. Trade Representative has put Canada with China on its "watch list." Washington wants Canada's new laws to mirror U.S. copyright.  "But the Washington legislation doesn't work, and that's from some of the guys who designed it," says NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus. "It leaves it to the courts to sue 14-year-olds for downloading Avril Lavigne. That's like King Canute forbidding the tide to wash over his feet. The real issue is, how in the 21st century can we monetize peer-to-peer sharing?"

Developing mechanisms to do that is a priority for the new minister, Angus says. It will be tricky. Canada's 16,000 visual artists seek steadier and bigger payments for use of their works in art galleries. Art galleries, already short of money, say they can't bear the extra cost. Universities are stuck on both sides of the debate. They want to encourage research and protect their staffers' intellectual property rights.  Says Alain Pineau, national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the country's largest cultural lobby group: "Until we get legislation, we don't know where we're heading in the digital age." The CCA wants to see the Canadian Television Fund on the new minister's agenda. The CTF is under pressure from broadcasters to broaden its definition of Canadian content. Cable giants Vidéotron and Shaw Communications tried to opt out of the programming fund that helps finance Canadian shows such as Little Mosque on the Prairie, but were told by the courts they could not. Still, they won't stop pushing for a more lax and commercial definition.

As well, Pineau says, the new Heritage Minister must "sort out the $30-million festival money mess." The March, 2007, budget pledged $30-million a year for two years to support festivals left scrambling after the withdrawal of tobacco funding and Gomery "sponsorgate" money. It was assumed the $30-million would be rushed into their needy hands, because 80 per cent of Canada's festivals take place in the spring and summer. Instead, festivals were told to cool their heels while Heritage figured out what the fund's application criteria actually are. But their angst pales beside that of Canada's 2,500 small and regional museums, which have waited more than three decades for a beefed-up funding program to help them repair their buildings and upgrade their exhibitions. Instead, last year, the feds cut $4.6-million to the Museums Assistance Program.  True, the government has given money for specific museums and galleries in ad hoc spurts. But the Portrait Gallery of Canada is still in limbo. And in a year that has seen a fire at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon and a roof collapse at the Prairie Art Gallery in Grande Prairie, Alta., the need for a predictable, well-funded process is urgent. Says Pineau: "Haphazard measures - some of which are welcome - have happened without rhyme or reason. Especially going into an election, we need to know what the Conservatives stand for."  The Heritage Minister's job is less about money, however, than about political leverage. Oda's job was made more difficult by the Prime Minister's habit of announcing key decisions himself (funding the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, for example) and of going over his cabinet colleagues' heads to block others (Harper is said to have removed from the last budget money earmarked to finish Toronto cultural projects).

What arts communities want above all is that the new minister will be strong, an advocate and a communicator.  "We need to feel that culture is a priority in cabinet," says April Britski, national executive director of Canadian Artists Representation.

Merv Griffin, 82: Talk Show Host

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bob Thomas, Associated Press

(August 12, 2007) LOS ANGELES –
Merv Griffin, the big band-era crooner turned impresario who parlayed his "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" game shows into a multimillion-dollar empire, died Sunday. He was 82. Griffin died of prostate cancer, according to a statement from his family that was released by Marcia Newberger, spokeswoman for The Griffin Group/Merv Griffin Entertainment. From his beginning as a $100-a-week San Francisco radio singer, Griffin moved on as vocalist for Freddy Martin's band, sometime film actor in films and TV game and talk show host, and made Forbes' list of richest Americans several times. His "The Merv Griffin Show" lasted more than 20 years, and Griffin said his capacity to listen contributed to his success. "If the host is sitting there thinking about his next joke, he isn't listening," Griffin reasoned in a recent interview. But his biggest break financially came from inventing and producing "Jeopardy" in the 1960s and "Wheel of Fortune" in the 1970s. After they had become the hottest game shows on television, Griffin sold the rights to Coca Cola's Columbia Pictures Television Unit for $250 million (all figures U.S.) in 1986, retaining a share of the profits.

"My father was a visionary," Griffin's son, Tony Griffin, said in a statement issued today. "He loved business and continued his many projects and holdings even while hospitalized." When Griffin entered a hospital a month ago, he was working on the first week of production of a new syndicated game show, "Merv Griffin's Crosswords," his son said. In recent years, Griffin also rated frequent mentions in the sports pages as a successful race horse owner. His colt Stevie Wonderboy, named for entertainer Stevie Wonder, won the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2005. Griffin started putting the proceeds from selling "Jeopardy" and "Wheel" in treasury bonds, stocks and other investments, but went into real estate and other ventures because "I was never so bored in my life.'' "I said 'I'm not going to sit around and clip coupons for the rest of my life,'" he recalled in 1989. "That's when Barron Hilton said 'Merv, do you want to buy the Beverly Hilton?' I couldn't believe it.'' Griffin bought the slightly passe hotel for $100.2 million and completely refurbished it for $25 million. Then he made a move for control of Resorts International, which operated hotels and casinos from Atlantic City to the Caribbean. That touched off a feud with real estate tycoon Donald Trump. Griffin eventually acquired Resorts for $240 million, even though Trump had held 80 per cent of the voting stock. "I love the gamesmanship," he told Life magazine in 1988. "This may sound strange, but it parallels the game shows I've been involved in."

In 1948, Freddy Martin hired Griffin to join his band at Los Angeles' Coconut Grove at $150 a week. With Griffin doing the singing, the band had a smash hit with "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts," a 1949 novelty song sung in a cockney accent. Doris Day and her producer husband, Marty Melcher, saw the band in Las Vegas and recommended Griffin to Warner Bros., which offered a contract. After a bit in By the Light of the Silvery Moon, starring Day and Gordon MacRae, he had a bigger role with Kathryn Grayson in So This Is Love. But after a few more trivial roles, he asked out of his contract. In 1954, Griffin went to New York where he appeared in a summer replacement musical show on CBS-TV, a revival of "Finian's Rainbow," and a music show on CBS radio. He followed with a few TV game show hosting jobs, notably "Play Your Hunch," which premiered in 1958 and ran through the early 1960s. His glibness led to stints as substitute for Jack Paar on "Tonight.'' When Paar retired in 1962, Griffin was considered a prime candidate to replace him. Johnny Carson was chosen instead. NBC gave Griffin a daytime version of "Tonight," but he was cancelled for being "too sophisticated" for the housewife audience. Westinghouse Broadcasting introduced "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1965 on syndicated TV. Griffin never underestimated the intelligence of his audience, offering such figures as philosopher Bertrand Russell, cellist Pablo Casals and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer-philosopher-historians Will and Ariel Durant as well as movie stars and entertainers. He was also a long-time friend of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy. When the Reagans returned to California in 1988 after eight years in the White House, Griffin and Hilton threw a $25,000-a-table homecoming gala for the couple.”

With Carson ruling the late-night roost on NBC in the late 1960s, the two other networks challenged him with competing shows, Griffin on CBS and Joey Bishop (later Dick Cavett) on ABC. Nothing stopped Carson, and Griffin returned to Westinghouse. A lifelong crossword puzzle fan, Griffin devised a game show, "Word for Word," in 1963. It faded after one season, then his wife, Julann, suggested another show. "Julann's idea was a twist on the usual question-answer format of the quiz shows of the Fifties," he wrote in his autobiography Merv. "Her idea was to give the contestants the answer, and they had to come up with the appropriate question.'' "Jeopardy" started in 1964 and the more conventional game show ``Wheel of Fortune" was begun in 1975. Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. was born in San Mateo, south of San Francisco on July 6, 1925, the son of a stockbroker. An aunt, Claudia Robinson, taught him to play piano at age 4, and he soon was staging shows on the back porch. "Every Saturday I had a show, recruiting all the kids in the block as either stagehands, actors and audience, or sometimes all three," he wrote in his 1980 autobiography. "I was the producer, always the producer.'' After studying at San Mateo Junior College and the University of San Francisco, Griffin quit school to apply for a job as pianist at KFRC radio in San Francisco. The station needed a vocalist instead. He auditioned and was hired. Griffin attracted the interest of RKO studio boss William Dozier, who was visiting San Francisco with his wife, Joan Fontaine. "As soon as I walked in their hotel room, I could see their faces fall," the singer recalled. He weighed 235 pounds. Shortly afterward, singer Joan Edwards told him: "Your voice is terrific, but the blubber has got to go." Griffin slimmed down, and he spent the rest of his life adding and taking off weight.

Griffin and Julann Elizabeth Wright were married in 1958, and their son, Anthony, was born the following year. They divorced in 1973 because of "irreconcilable differences.'' "It was a pivotal time in my career, one of uncertainty and constant doubt," he wrote in the autobiography. "So much attention was being focused on me that my marriage felt the strain." He never remarried. Besides his son, Griffin is survived by his daughter-in-law, Tricia, and two grandchildren. The family said an invitation-only funeral Mass will be held at a later date at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.

::MUSIC NEWS::

R&B Hitmaker Babyface Serenades His Folkie Heroes

Source:  Reuters - By Franklin Paul

(August 12, 2007) NEW YORK (Reuters) -
Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, the architect of thumping R&B tunes for Whitney Houston, TLC and Bobby Brown, has surprisingly softer inspirations: guitar-strumming troubadours such as Bob Dylan and James Taylor. What's more, the 49-year-old singer/songwriter/producer says that despite the pervasiveness of dance and rap-driven tunes on the pop charts, young musicians can learn from melodic compositions -- more folk than funky -- painstakingly crafted by such old masters. "My influence in music has always been in picking up my acoustic guitar, and . . . from listening to these songs to begin with," he said in a telephone interview. Babyface covers his favourites on "Playlist" (Mercury), due in September. He hopes that performers who feel they must mimic the up-tempo hits of Kanye West or Justin Timberlake will share his affection for more modest songs by composers unknown to them, like Dave Loggins or Jim Croce. "There are young musicians who make this kind of music and don't know that the door is open -- we need to try and open those doors," Babyface said. "A major success for this album might inspire some kids to say 'Hey, I want to do that."'

He laments that a generation has grown up making tunes built upon electronic keyboards and computer-derived beats, rather than drums, guitars and pianos, the kind of instruments he played everyday in high school. "When they think of music, they think hip-hop, they don't think of a 'musician' whatsoever," Babyface said. "They don't seem to see the real purpose of it. They are making beats (on drum machines), instead of being on the drums. It's a battle to be real and be heard."

Saving The Music

But with local education budget cutbacks often targeting music and arts programs, such basic skills may be lost to many kids. Long a champion of music in schools, Babyface became the largest individual benefactor of cable channel VH1's Save the Music Foundation in 1999 when he donated $60,000 to his home state of Indiana to restore and support music programs. Babyface has won 10 Grammy awards, including producer of the year three years in a row, and crafted Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" and "I'll Make Love To You," which set records for the longest stay on top of the Billboard charts. His name is on records that have sold 100 million copies. But his impeccable track record may not help him much with his new album. Even his most devoted fans, he acknowledges, expect him to crank out snappy solo cuts like his hits "Whip Appeal" and "Tender Lover," or perhaps "Take a Bow," which he wrote for Madonna -- not sentimental overtures like Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" or Croce's "Time in a Bottle." "It is going to take some work to try and make this record bust through. It's beautiful music -- those that may be shocked when they hear the music, they too may become fans," he said. "But I believe in the idea of a black artist, an R&B artist, not being pigeonholed into being just R&B. We can and should do other kinds of music and open doors for others to follow."

In putting together the album, he had to drop plans to sing some of his favourite songwriters' songs, since he wanted to stay true to his inspirations' musical vision. "If I had the voice and the vibe was just right, I would have done (John) Mellencamp, some (Bruce) Springsteen. I attempted to do (Harry Chapin's) "Cats in the Cradle" and "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan," he said. "I did the songs that I thought that I could pull off. Every record that I did felt like it was natural and an uplift. I didn't want to hurt the original idea." (Reporting by Franklin Paul)

Kelly Rowland Discusses New Album

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – Associated Press

(August 10, 2007) *
Kelly Rowland says she’s still getting used to basking in the entire spotlight, rather than just one third as part of Destiny’s Child. In a Q&A session with Associated Press, the 26-year-old solo artist discusses her professional life apart from DC members Beyonce and Michelle Williams, the release of her sophomore solo album “Ms. Kelly” and more.

AP: Now that Destiny's Child is behind you and you're on your second album, who is Kelly Rowland today?

Rowland: I'm comfortable in my skin and quite honestly, I feel older. (Laughs.) I rushed through my first album, "Simply Deep" (released in 2002), but with "Ms. Kelly," I was able to take my time. I'm very proud of the first one, though. I sold almost 2 million albums, so I still dust my shoulder off for that one.

AP: Let's talk about the track "Still in Love With My Ex." Who is this guy?

Rowland: We don't talk about him. He doesn't even have a name; he's just "the ex." I got a great song out of (that experience). Thanks, buddy!

AP: So, tell us about your fans.

Rowland: Well, I still have Destiny's Child fans who've grown up with me, and I've also talked to people on MySpace and on my Web site who are listening to the new album and liking it. That's a good feeling.

AP: What's it like now that you're on your own?

Rowland: I feel like I've come into the fact of being comfortable, just being by myself, which is a really good feeling. It's good to finally say goodbye to that fear.

AP: You and your Destiny's Child bandmates seem to be supportive of each other's solo projects. How did that happen?

Rowland: It was instilled in us, just the spirit of camaraderie. I think it's really important to me. I'm so happy that my parents taught me that, you know, the fact there's room and there's space for everybody and that we're supposed to support each other and be secure within ourselves as women, as sisters.

AP: You've got Snoop rhyming on your next single, and then there's Tank singing with you on a sexy ballad. Do tell.

Rowland: I've loved Snoop since he released "Doggy Style," so I'm glad he said yes to my song. And Tank? The man is an R&B crooner. He wrote and produced "The Show" and I loved working with him.

AP: So, let's talk about the album's first week's sales.

Rowland: Yes, I came in at No. 6 and sold 86,000 records — in a declining market, might I add. I'm very proud of that. Not everybody's selling records like they used to. Even the biggest artists don't come out and go platinum in a week anymore. It's a different day and age in the music industry.

AP: How's your ringtone game coming along?

Rowland: Every time I walk through an airport, someone's phone will ring with "Like This," which is pretty cool.

AP: How have you managed to deal with the ups and downs of the entertainment industry?

Rowland: There's no easy way to get what's worth working and waiting for, so whenever I get thrown a curveball, I know it's just a challenge. You just have to keep going.

UK Music Phenomenon Livin Out Loud Launches Album In The US

Source: Juliette Harris: Juliette@itgirlpublicrelations.com or Sarah Allen: Sarah@itgirlpublicrelations.com

(August 9, 2007) *Los Angeles, CA -
Livin Out Loud, initially made famous in the United Kingdom, is set to become one of the most buzzed about R+B groups in America.  The group's constituents, Reuben MacCalla, Sylvia MacCalla, Lisa LaShawn, and J. Martini, have already relished #1 widespread success across the UK as not only are their beats regularly at the top of the music charts but their rhythms continue to dominate the UK club scene.  Currently on the radio and iTunes, "All that Really Matters," held the #1 spot on the UK charts for 3 weeks straight. Reuben MacCalla and Sylvia MacCalla are the groups founding members.  Reuben is the creative producer and is credited for writing the majority of the group's tunes.  Sylvia, had success prior to the group , performing in the United States tours of the Broadway smash hits of  "Rent" and "Hairspray."  Reuben and Sylvia led the Livin Out Loud tour in November 2006 opening for Grammy nominated R+B artist Ne-Yo and playing the UK Southport Weekender (one of the UK's top recognized music events).   The groups' additional two members Lisa LaShawn and J. Martini have also experienced tremendous successes in the record industry. Lisa has worked with the business's top producers including Diane Warren and Derrick Bramble. J. Martini, the offspring of four generations of musicians, was previously a backup singer for the legendary Paul Simon and performs on national tours for the infamous Frankie Valli.  Creative Producer Reuben MacCalla utilizes originality, blending, and authenticity to produce their music. Livin Out Loud amalgamates original song writing, live musicians, production and a combination of their unique voices to generate their signature sound.  Their music is rooted in story telling, expressing feelings and experiences. Most notably, Livin Out Loud remains authentic in each genre which is dictated by their moods, hence the group's title Livin Out Loud.

Notwithstanding previous successes across Europe, Livin Out Loud is very much looking forward to infiltrating airwaves across the Unites States with their debut album "What About Us," due out on July 17, 2007 and distributed by Universal Music Group's, Fontana Distribution. The album's single "All that Really Matters," has already blown up the UK charts.  "Do Your Thing," an upbeat track, will be the first single to be released from the album.  As part of their US launch they have secured a business deal with Robbins Brothers.  Livin Out Loud has teamed with the world's largest engagement ring retailer and Fluid Media Networks (American Idol Underground) to produce a compilation album entitled "Perfect Proposals: 10 Perfect Love Songs." The CD was fostered to provide couples with unique and interesting ways to propose. Ultimately, this unique compilation CD will provide couples with another means of making a special moment even more memorable.

Neil Young To Release Anti-War, Pro-Planet Graphic Novel Based On "Greendale" Disc

Source:  By Cassandra Szklarski

(Aug. 9, 2007) TORONTO (CP) - Outspoken musician and political activist
Neil Young is putting his anti-war and environmental convictions into a graphic novel.  The book will be an adaptation of Young's 2003 disc "Greendale," a 10-song concept album that was turned into a film of the same name in 2003 and also spawned an art book and multi-media tour.  The legendary artist, renowned for his strong anti-George W. Bush sentiments, has made it clear that the project will be just as biting politically as the rest of his artistic catalogue, said writer and collaborator Joshua Dysart.  Dysart, who describes his own political leanings as "left of Lenin," says the graphic novel's theme is decidedly anti-war and pro-planet. The story is set in the fictional town of Greendale on the eve of the Iraq invasion in 2003.  "It's just sort of a smorgasbord of the political reality of that moment of 2003 when we went into Iraq," Dysart said Thursday in a telephone interview from his home Los Angeles.

"Greendale is a fictional town but it's in northern California and the politics and concerns of northern California are going to be very prevalent and that's: anti-war, environmentalism and the raping of the California resources by major corporations in the pocket of the Bush administration."  The novel has been two years in the making and will be published by the DC Comics subsidiary Vertigo. Dysart said he's only completed a sketch of the storyline so far and hopes the book could be completed next year.  The idea for the novel came from Young himself, he adds, but so far the Canadian rocker has taken a largely arms-length approach to directing the narrative.  Major elements, however, are drawn directly from his disc "Greendale," said Dysart, also behind an Avril Lavigne graphic novel released earlier this year called "Make Five Wishes."  Young's album "Greendale" told the story of a tragic event and its effects on three generations of an American family.

The graphic novel focuses on the story of Sun Green, a teenager and burgeoning activist whose life is changed when a mysterious stranger pays a visit to her small town.  It also places great significance on her family's unique ability to connect with nature, an aspect referred to only casually in the art book, said Dysart.  "I just clued into that because it hadn't been explored in other mediums and the last thing I wanted to do was just kind of regurgitate the storyline," Dysart explained.  A big challenge for Dysart will be just how to capture Young's unconventional persona.  "There is this sort of low-fi, loose E-string humming Americana rock-n-roll about that album and about a lot of his work," he notes.  "I want to find that (feeling) inside of our medium. And part of that is going to be what (artist) Sean (Murphy) brings to it, obviously. I think, for instance, the way he uses ink is going to very much have that sort of a strong intensity. He can be a splatterer when encouraged with his ink and I think that will help a lot."  Those who know the album well will likely recognize a few song lyrics Dysart hopes to insert into the text.

"I'm sure there will be many because there are some great storylines in there," he said. "I will probably be altering them so they do not rhyme. That's not really the kind of piece we're going for. It's not a music video on paper."  As for Young himself, Dysart was coy about whether the music great would make a cameo.  "In the film, a sort of a supernatural entity arrives in town who is like a white blues man, basically all dressed in a red suit and a red fedora and patent leather shoes," he says. "Now, that character is going to be in the piece and if that character looks strikingly similar to Neil Young, then I don't know what to say."

On the Net: http://www.neilyoung.com/; http://www.dccomics.com/

Vivaldi Gets Multicultural Flair

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(August 10, 2007) In recent years, funding cuts have made it harder than ever to showcase Canadian artists abroad. But the
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra – which has used touring to build an international reputation – is getting ready for a major fall trip to China and Korea. And the acclaimed Toronto-based group, known for its superb use of period instruments, will be wooing audiences in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai with a startling work that is bound to intrigue music-lovers who live there. The bill of fare for four concerts in late October: Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, an 18th-century baroque classic, as reimagined for the multicultural planet of today.  This version, devised by Toronto-born composer Mychael Danna, had its world premiere in Toronto four years ago, and has since been turned into a CBC-TV special.

The goal, according to Tricia Baldwin, Tafelmusik's managing director, was to pay homage both to Vivaldi and to the spirit of diversity represented by the city where the orchestra is based. That's why in this Four Seasons, spring is a Chinese affair, featuring the pipa, a Chinese string instrument played in the Far East during Vivaldi's lifetime. A section about India features the sarangi and a Canadian part spotlights Inuit throat-singing. With the help of $95,000 from Ottawa (about 25 per cent of the total budget for the tour) and additional funding from Sun Life, the orchestra's major sponsor, about 20 musicians will fly to Hong Kong in mid-October. After the Chinese segment – which includes a night at the Forbidden City Concert Hall – the gang will go on to Seoul, South Korea, to participate in a Bach festival.  As usual, Tafelmusik next season will have an extensive series of concerts in Toronto, mostly at its base, Trinity-St Paul's Centre on Bloor St. W., with other dates at the Elgin Theatre, Massey Hall and the Weston Recital Hall. But according to Baldwin, it is the chance to perform abroad that leads to prestigious recording deals and international prestige. "It would be our worst nightmare if we had to stop travelling and become known just as the Annex Baroque Orchestra," she quips.

In fact, conductor Jeanne Lamon, who took over in 1981, just two years after the orchestra was born, has built Tafelmusik into a one-of-a-kind mini-empire. Under a partnership with the University of Toronto, it enjoys orchestra-in-residence status and offers an advanced-certificate program. And its annual summer institute draws musicians from all over.  You could get the impression that Tafelmusik won't settle for anything less than world domination.

FILM FESTIVAL UPDATE

Ever since the Visa Screening Room emerged as a major factor at the Toronto International Film Festival, veteran festival-goers have discovered a secret.  The Special Presentations screened at the Elgin in most years offer more satisfying fare than the frenzied gala program at Roy Thomson Hall.  And for many festival-goers, the Elgin offers many of the same perks as the galas: a large, classy theatre, famous directors and a glamorous red-carpet event.  At the same time, Elgin audiences get these benefits without some of the more tiresome aspects of the Roy Thomson gala experience, such as excessively commercial, over-hyped Hollywood studio movies and an audience that is heavy on corporate folk dressing up and light on discerning film addicts. Until now, you could have the Elgin experience for a bargain price. Last year, a gala pass (good for eight films) went for $300 while a Visa Screening Room pass cost only $185. This year, alas, the festival has closed the gap. Both passes now cost the same: $325. But it is too late to buy a gala pass; they're sold out, even though many gala titles have yet to be announced. A few Visa Screening Room passes are available.

YouTube Sensation The Latest To Receive Mainstream Attention

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Tim Lai, Entertainment Reporter

(August 12, 2007)
Adam Bahner is a Web sensation who moves away from the mic to breathe in, silencing his baritone voice momentarily while his keyboard riff repeats itself.  Every few lines, he turns his head to his right, just like a swimmer.  His song, "Chocolate Rain," may trump Rihanna's "Umbrella" as the most popular, catchiest and annoying of the summer.  But it isn't at the top of the Billboard chart. It's on YouTube, where it's been viewed more than 4.5 millions times on the video-sharing site since posted in April.  And the man behind the song doesn't even go by his legal name.  "I am Tay Zonday and I'm Adam Bahner. It's confusing for me, too," says the 25-year-old. "I chose (the name Tay Zonday in January) because it was catchy and it didn't have a search results. It's more memorable than my real name."  This University of Minnesota PhD student who – in his own "three-second explanation" – "researches performance and social change in a relationship between theatre and social movements," is the latest viral video sensation to receive mainstream attention.

Not only has "Chocolate Rain" been parodied by dozens of people from John Mayer and Green Day drummer Tré Cool to McGruff the Crime Dog, Bahner made his TV debut last week when he took his keyboard to Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Kobe Bryant, the lead guest on Wednesday's show, said he wouldn't mind having the nickname Chocolate Rain.  Bahner is an articulate and cerebral speaker, but who wouldn't seem to be with a deep voice like that of James Earl Jones.  "I think it's natural for people to sing," he says when asked whether he always had a passion for performing, since his Kimmel concert was only his second live show. "I think the larger social question is, what inspires us to be silent?" While Bahner was featured on YouTube's main page, he credits the 4chan.org, an image-sharing forum, for spreading the gospel that is "Chocolate Rain." He doesn't know why the song has exploded – he even questions whether it has. While "Chocolate Rain" is popular on YouTube, there have only been 100,000 listens on his MySpace page.

One little mystery about the song, however, will continue to bedevil listeners. He won't explain the meaning behind "Chocolate Rain" (sample lyrics: "History quickly crashing through your veins/ Chocolate Rain/ Using you to fall back down again").  Some have said it's about politics, race and inequality; his mom thinks it's about Utopia.  "I think it's a very cryptic song. it's meant not to be dogmatic, not something that people can explain in one sentence. It's not the directions for putting together your kitchen table," said Zonday. "I feel like if I enter that debate, it'll ruin it for everyone else."

Reggae Music Promotes Awareness Against Gun Violence Featured At “Worldfest 2007”

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – Associated Press

(August 10, 2007) Toronto, ON, August 10, 2007 – The growing concern over gun violence has plagued many international cities, including the “
Worldfest 2007” host city of Toronto.  The organizers, in conjunction with a core of Canadian Reggae artists, will use the profile of the festival to help bring to the forefront that all cultures are affected by the horrific losses that are the result of gun violence.  The message that is being advanced through “Worldfest 2007” is that everyone must take a stand against gun violence and that “violence has no borders”.     “Worldfest 2007” is an annual, three-day cultural event showcasing International heritage, music, dance and cuisine.  Each year the festival focuses on an international community and this year one of the spotlights is on Jamaica.  Why Jamaica? Canada is home to over 200,000 Jamaicans, many of whom make their home in Toronto! 

Throughout the weekend there will be a special event hosted by Roots Rock Reggae Specialists Johnny Slackings and Johnny Kzar, featuring the music of legendary Reggae artists Leroy Brown , Stranjah Cole, Leroy Gibbon, John Forbes and world renowned Jamaican rhythm section, “Sly & Robbie.   Canadian Reggae and Juno Award winner Leroy Brown is proud to be apart of the festival and cause, “It saddens me especially being a father to see so much violence within our youth.  We must use every means possible to correct this grave problem. It is time for all communities to band together and lead through example and at all cost, find the root of this problem and make our cities safer places to live.”      The organizers are producing a CD featuring some of the world’s biggest Reggae artists which will be on sale world-wide and at the festival. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a scholarship fund in the names the youth victims who have been killed in Toronto because of gun violence.   “Worldfest 2007” (www.worldfesttoronto.com) will take place Friday, August 17 to Sunday, August 19 from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. daily at Ontario Place (955 Lakeshore Blvd). The “Worldfest 2007” mission is ‘to bring together and promote the mosaic of people that makes Canada a great place to live.’ Tickets are now available for “Worldfest 2007” for $17.00 at: www.worldfesttoronto.com or at www.ontarioplace.com -- link to Events & Entertainment and click on August. Or tickets are available at the gate on the day of for $33.50.

Keyshia Cole Headlines 20 City House Of Blues Tour

Source: Geffen Records, Tresa Sanders, tresa.sanders@umusic.com

(August 14, 2007) Santa Monica, CA - Award winning R&B star
Keyshia Cole has kicked off her highly anticipated House Of Blues concert tour.  Meanwhile, Cole's latest hit "Let It Go" produced by Missy Elliott and featuring Missy and Lil' Kim has vaulted into the top five on the Billboard and Radio & Records R&B/Hip-Hop charts.  Keyshia will headline shows in twenty cities through September 9th where she ends the tour in Seattle, Washington. Kon Live/Geffen Records comrade and R&B vocalist Ray Lavender (Akon's artist) and Capitol Records J. Holiday perform as her opening acts.  Keyshia will follow-up up her debut platinum-selling CD The Way It Is and four #1 singles: "Should Have Cheated," "Love," "Give It Up To Me," with Sean Paul and "Last Night" with Diddy with her second album Just Like You on Geffen Records which is scheduled to be released on September 25th.  Once again she's collaborated with several A-list producers including Geffen Chairman Ron Fair, Rodney Jerkins, Baby Face, Scott Storch and Bryan Michael Cox. In addition to features by Missy Elliot and Lil Kim, Keyshia's Oakland homeboy Too Short and R&B soul singer Anthony Hamilton grace the album as well.

The Benny Boom-directed video for the first single, "Let It Go," featuring Missy and Lil' Kim premiered one month ago and is in heavy rotation on BET, MTV and VH1 and is a dazzling combination of three dynamic and entertaining women in music today. As Keyshia puts the finishing touches on her sophomore release, she's also very busy working on season two of her BET reality show "The Way It Is 2" which she is executive producing with her manager Manny Halley. She will also make her movie debut in the upcoming MTV film "How She Moves" due to be released in January 2008. The Oakland native established herself as a fan and critic favourite with one of the biggest hits of 2005, "I Should Have Cheated," followed by one of the most played songs of 2006, "Love"- both from The Way It Is. She earned the Vibe Next Award and also received numerous nominations at the BET Awards, Soul Train Music Awards, American Music Awards and NAACP Image Awards. Earlier this year "Love" was honoured with a 2007 ASCAP Award for R&B/Hip-Hop Song. Keyshia is also up for a 2007 Teen Choice Award for her collaboration "Last Night" with Diddy.

Dr. Cornel West Presents ‘Never Forget’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough

(August 14, 2007) *
Dr. Cornel West is a man of many missions encircling the black culture.  The Princeton professor and cultural activism frontman has been heralded and disputed for his unorthodox and controversial methods of teaching and melding social studies with urban realities.  But yet and still, the scholar has produced a contemporary project that teaches – a commercial-produced hip-hop rooted CD. West is no stranger to putting out a disc or two. His first, 2001’s “Sketches of My Culture,” sparked a battle at Harvard where he was formerly a professor. The disc led to another release in 2004 called “Street Knowledge.” The intention was to present the strength of Black music. West is taking it to the next level with his new disc, “Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations,” released today (08-14-07) on Hidden Beach.

This latest offering features a host of hip-hop, soul, and pop artists like Prince, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, Dave Hollister, Jill Scott, and the late Gerald Levert, taking on some of the issues of Black America, as well as gems of commentary from West and prominent activists like Tavis Smiley and Michael Eric Dyson. “I would like to think that it has historic significance,” West said of the project, “to the degree to which it is a significant awakening with a variety of different voices across generations coming together and saying, ‘The black musical tradition is too rich and deep and refined to be bastardized in this way.’ Hopefully that awakening will generate a whole host of CDs. I would like to see 50 CDs in the next year and a half all wrestling with these same issues; taking it to higher levels – because the artists have their own voices and views. So I think it has a chance to be quite historic.” And though "Never Forget" is loaded with musical star power, fans of scholar West still might subscribe to the theory that the disc is simple production of spoken social commentary over beats. Those theorists would be wrong. The project’s production rivals any mainstream hip-hop disc on the market.  “The artistic excellence is amazing…,” West said of the disc’s production outcome. “It is highly competitive in terms of present-day commercialism and at the same time it’s an evergreen project. It’s the kind of project that people will come back to over and over again and we hope from generation to generation because it’s a historic moment in which all of these voices came together to act in the progressive and prophetic potential of hip-hop.”

Like the ones before, West put together the disc with a crew called BMWMB, which stands for Black Men Who Mean Business. The men who make up the men behind the projects are West, his brother Clifton West, Mike Dailey and Derek Allen, who came up with the idea for the discs that have come to make a statement about the state of black music while speaking on the state of blacks. The disc is a combination of songs written by the artists and his brother. “Cliff wrote four of five of them…and a number of the artists wrote their own songs,” West told EUR’s Lee Bailey. “And then often times I would speak in the pocket of the songs that they wrote.” Mostly rooted in rap and rap culture, the disc challenges the climate in the genre. To that, West spoke about comments of Nas and KRS-One that hip-hop is dead, but explained that the issue is deeper than a style of music. “We know that hip-hop is such a complicated phenomena with so many different tendencies and a lot of strings and strands within it, and I think that what [Nas] was saying is that the dominant strands is such that it has betrayed the origins of hip-hop. In that sense it is dead,” he said. “To agree with what he’s [saying] and where KRS-One is going, hip-hop is not dead, but there’s a dulling and deadening that has set in the dominant tendency of hip-hop. That’s very much what our CD is trying to call attention to, but especially to link it to the hearts and minds of young folk.”

West continued that in the end the music is not just about the music, calling music "a way of life for black folk." “So much more is at stake than whether a particular genre is dead,” he said. West hopes the disc will revive hip-hop in its own way and revitalize both the generation that created it and the generation that is its current caretaker. “The Lord is using us in a mighty way,” he said, “and it’s a beautiful thing.” To hear songs from “Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations,” click here: http://www.myspace.com/drcornelwest4bmwmb   

MUSIC TIDBITS

Universal Music Backs Hip Hop Web Site

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2007) *
Universal Music Group said Wednesday it has acquired a stake in the operator of urban social networking Web site Loud.com, a location that allows hip-hop fans to upload their own raps and compete for a record deal with Universal-distributed SRC Records. The partnership is part of the company's overall move to gain new sources of revenue and media outlets for its stable of recording artists, according to the Hollywood Reporter.  Earlier this year, Universal acquired companies that have record labels and operate merchandising, touring and artist management businesses in Spain, Great Britain and Brazil. Universal wouldn’t disclose the amount of money it has invested in the ad-supported Web site, which also operates under the domain name Battlerap.com and sells audio files of hip-hop beats for 99 cents.

Watley, Hathaway, James To Work LB Jazz Fest

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2007) *
Jody Watley, Lalah Hathaway and Leela James are among those scheduled to perform at the 20th annual Long Beach Jazz Festival, which runs tonight through Aug. 12 at Rainbow Lagoon Park.  Watley, who had a successful solo career in the 80s after leaving the R&B group Shalamar, will join Everette Harp and Chris Standring on Aug. 12 for the "Soul Express" show.  "Chris goes on first, Everette comes on after and does his set and I come on last," Watley tells Billboard.com. "We use one band and they all join me on the stage in the end. But, I do the longer set; it seems like I'm the artist to get everyone up and out of their beach chairs." Other acts on the bill include Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub, Tim Bowman and Warren Hill performing tonight as "Guitar & Saxes" and Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot and Peter White performing Saturday as "Jazz Attack."

New Wu-Tang Album Due In November

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2007) *The
Wu-Tang Clan has chosen Nov. 18 for the release of their anticipated new album, “The 8 Diagrams,” reports Billboard.com. "We're rekindling flames," RZA recently told Billboard. "There's a strong potential this could be a long campaign, so this will keep us on the road together, on TV together and keep us working together." The set will arrive via the recently resurrected Loud Records, which was founded by their longtime associate Steve Rifkind. The executive is now in partnership with SRC/Universal. In the meantime, Wu-Tang is touring the country with the Rock the Bells event through Aug. 30 in Toronto, and will also play Seattle's Bumbershoot festival on Sept. 3.

Timbaland Promises ‘Hot’ Madonna Album

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2007) *After delivering his Midas touch to the careers of pop singers Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake, super-producer
Timbaland hopes his work on Madonna’s forthcoming album will be just as golden.  "We just did Madonna's record," the artist told MTV Tuesday while in its New York studios to announce the VMA nominees. "Me and Justin did the records" for the album, he continued, saying Madonna is near the end of recording. "She's great. ... She's got a hot album. Her album is up there with Justin's album."  Timbaland and Timberlake wrote and produced 10 songs for the new Madonna project, most of which Tim assures are certified club bangers.  "Ah, man," Tim gushed. "There's this one song, we taking it back to 'You must be my luck-eee starrrr!' ... Remember 'Ugly' by Bubba Sparxxx? I got a beat similar to that. The hook is no words. It's saying stuff named after coffee — all these different names for coffee — is the hook. ... The name of the song is 'La, La.' Pharrell did a hot one for her too called 'Candy Shop.' She's off the chain."

Four Tops Plan New Album For 2008

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – Associated Press

(August 10, 2007) *The
Four Tops have are excited about their new single, “East Coast, West Coast,” which was just released through the Jenny Jenny Records label owned by Little Richard's goddaughter Jenice Smith, reports Billboard.com.   The legendary Motown group is planning to release several more singles before following up with a full-length album sometime next year.  "We would like to get a lot of momentum on singles, 'cause people are buying singles digitally now, and we want to create something before we just put an album out there," said group member Abdul "Duke" Fakir.  The Four Tops plan to record a song this fall with Aretha Franklin called "If We Can't Be Lovers, Let's Be Friends," which was co-written by the Tops' Lawrence "Roquel" Payton, Jr., and producer Michael Powell.  "She's expressed that she'd like to do a song with us," Fakir says, "and this is a really great one for the two of us."

Country Music Sensation Miko Marks Breaking Down Barriers

Source: Evette Fergerson, The Courtney Barnes Group, 323-466-9300, evette@cbgpr.com

(August 10, 2007) *Mirrome Records recording artist Miko Marks is making history in country music as one of the first commercially successful African American female country music singers.  Miko's breakout year stems from the success of her debut album Freeway Bound, which earned her the "2007 Country Album of the Year" award at the Independent Music Awards where Wynonna Judd and Patty Loveless were among the panel of judges.  In 2006, Marks was named "Best New Country Artist" by New Music Weekly Magazine. Indie World Country Record Report based in Nashville, Tennessee also awarded this multi-talented artist "2006 Female Vocalist of the Year."  Miko continues to create music from the heart. "I work passionately to make good music to share with the world," says Miko. Her new CD It Feels Good is set to release on August 21st.  The first single, "The Son My Daddy Never Had" has just hit radio and is already making an impact on the charts. Miko kicks off her national television campaign by performing The National Anthem live at the San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos game airing on ESPN's Monday Night Football, August 13th at 5:00PM (PST).  Currently on tour with the Bill Pickett Rodeo, Miko spends lots of time on the road promoting her sophomore release, It Feels Good. "This is a CD that everyone can relate to," states Miko. The first single, "The Son My Daddy Never Had" is a lyrically amusing, hard drivin', up-tempo, tongue twister that will catch unsuspecting listeners, as well as hardcore country music enthusiast bobbing their heads to its frisky beat. "The Son My Daddy Never Had" features "A list" Nashville session players CMA Award winners Brent Mason on guitar and Eddie Bayers on drums.   Miko has a voice that shines so crystalline without studio gadgetry. Her influences cross the barriers of generation, genre and race and her live performances satisfy the toughest critics. Its no wonder the world has taken notice of this talented artist. For more on Miko Marks log on t www.mikomarks.com.

Common & Target's Hollywood Hook Up

Source: Garner Bass, garner.bass@fleishman.com

(August 10, 2007)
Common and Target teamed up last week to release Common's new album, Finding Forever which has already earned the rapper/actor a No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 album chart.  This partnership is part of Target's ongoing initiative to celebrate today's urban music.  Hollywood's elite came out to support Common's latest album: Kanye West, Will.I.Am, Serena Williams, Chris Rock, Tracey Ellis Ross, just to name a few (see photos below). Actor, Rockmond Dunbar, from Showtime's hit series Soul Food, probably summed up the Target connection best: "It just makes common sense," he said before pausing to laugh. "Did I just say that?"   Finding Forever, Common's 7th album, released July 31 in conjunction with the party.  "Finding Forever really means to find a place in music where you can exist forever," according to the Chicago native.  Common's 7th CD and a Target exclusive DVD is available at Target stores nationwide as well as www.Target.com

Elephant Man And Sean Kingston Soar To The Top Of The Billboard Charts

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(August 9, 2007) • Jamaican born artistes
Elephant Man and Sean Kingston soar to the top of the Billboard Charts *Sean Kingston has rocketed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his smash summer hit Beautiful Girls. The song leaped from number 23 to number 1, bringing an end to the two-week reign of Plain White T’s Hey Delilah. Over on the Billboard Dance Music Club Play chart, Elephant Man’s collaboration 'Whine Up' featuring Latin hip hop princess Kat Deluna, bullets from number three to number one. Although he is a featured artiste on 'Whine Up,' its clearly Elephant Man’s most successful single to date on the Billboard chart. The song which peaked at number 29 a week ago, has slipped to number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Still on the Billboard charts, Korean dancehall deejay Skull soars from 94 to 84 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart with the single Boom Di Boom. The accompanying video clip is rotating heavily on Tempo and locally on RETV.

Gamble & Huff’s PIR Songs Finally Under One Roof

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 13, 2007) *Sony BMG Music Entertainment has struck a deal with Philadelphia International Records [PIR] to license the complete catalogue of music from the famed label formed in 1971 by
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, reports Billboard. The move finally brings hits by such artists as MFSB, Patti LaBelle, the O'Jays, Billy Paul and others under one roof. The PIR music slate was previously divided between Epic/CBS and EMI. Now that it's "back together again, we can promote and market it on a global level," Huff says. Under the terms of the multiyear arrangement, Sony BMG Music Entertainment's Commercial Music Group and Legacy Recordings will issue physical and digital recordings of PIR material. The deal also extends to ringtones (another PIR first), PDA applications, synch licenses and branded entertainment, according to Billboard. The first fruits of the partnership are due in October with the release of two double-disc compilations, "The Essential Lou Rawls" and "The Essential Teddy Pendergrass." Additionally, 50 digital releases (original albums and collections) will be ready for download by the end of the year.

The Method To Musiq's Melody

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 13, 2007) *
Musiq Soulchild is not even trying to hear about going away for a little while and resting on his laurels.  The man is back again with yet another summer album to help groove things up or slow things down in the adult living quarters of your humble abode.  EURweb, always hustling for that piece of sound that pays, happened upon the Philly funkster at a recent industry mingling. We asked him about his continued success album after album.  "You gotta make progress," Musiq told our reporter. "I'm not about going backwards, but forwards. My inspiration is always about enhancing and reminding people where real soul music comes from." One of the primer hits from Musiq's most recent album is titled "Teach Me To Love." Our reporter asked him what is the message behind the apparent message of the hit single.  "That's basically asking women, 'instead of badgering us, teach us how to love you,'" Musiq answered. "Instead of expecting us to know already, teach us how to love you." The answer was delivered with a considerable amount of emotion, noticeable in a media gathering in which celebrities try to be as bland as possible as not to end up on the National Enquirer's front page. We wanted to know from where that fire sprang. Anger perhaps?  "There's no anger or bitterness, just some frustration because we all want to do better, but we're being attacked rather than being helped," the crooner answered honestly. "As a man we gotta battle with our pride and we may not always know how to ask. That's why it's up to you, my ladies, the sensitive ones to reach out, grab us and show us. Just reach out and grab us." We wanted to ask Musiq what's a lady to do when a man doesn't want to be grabbed but, alas, we'll have to save that for next time.

::FILM NEWS::

Cuba Gooding Jr. - Show Me The Talent

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(August 11, 2007) It can't be easy being the poster boy for a botched career. Ten years ago,
Cuba Gooding Jr. seemed to be heading straight up: He'd wrenched hearts in John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood, played gay and uptight in As Good as it Gets, and cavorted through Jerry Maguire as football star Rod Tidwell. His kinetic performance animated Tom Cruise, and earned Gooding a best-supporting Oscar. His acceptance speech, with its heel-clicking jumps, brought the audience to its feet. Then without warning, he plummeted like a dead bird. Almost two years passed before he appeared again, in movies that, however sensible on paper, flopped with critics. He starred opposite Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come, set in an overly art-directed afterlife; and with Robert De Niro in Men of Honor, at the nadir of De Niro's dull period. His comedies turned out to be clunkers ( Rat Race, Boat Trip). His family films fizzled ( Snow Dogs, Radio).

For a while, people whispered about him: Gooding was arrogant. He shied away from roles specifically written as black. He turned down Steven Spielberg's Amistad, which launched Djimon Hounsou's career; and Hotel Rwanda, which put Don Cheadle on the A-list. Then things got worse: People stopped talking about Gooding, now 39, altogether.  His current film, Daddy Day Camp, is the sequel to 2003's Daddy Day Care that its star, Eddie Murphy, didn't want to make. It's relentlessly unfunny.  So now is the time for a new Cuba Gooding Jr. to appear: still energetic, but humbler, wiser, more reflective. (Actually, he was due to appear 20 minutes ago, in an interview suite in Toronto's Royal York Hotel that's loaded with sandwiches and yawning publicists, but he's still at lunch with hockey star Tie Domi.)  Sure enough, when Gooding shows – in a T-shirt and brown cords, his hair close-cut, his face mobile and expressive – he's all about context. “I started in this business with the Coralie Jr. Agency,” he says. “She handled sword swallowers, little people, female impersonators, and like, three actors, one of whom was a young, black kid: me. Whenever she had anything, 50-year-old white cop, she'd send me out on it. One day she said to me, ‘This big agency is going to take you away – this is how it happens.'

“So when I won the Academy Award, I had the weirdest relationship with my new agents: I questioned everything they presented to me. I was working out this image of myself – what the next strokes were gonna be on my canvas.” But his reps didn't even show him Monster's Ball (too low-budget). He made a thriller, Murder of Crows, that went straight to video. “The producers were a little shady,” Gooding says. “Elie Samaha [head of Franchise Pictures] had some court issue and our movie got lost in the shuffle.  “Then the offers started to slow down, because the years were piling on,” he acknowledges. “Then it was like, I have to just work. So I started to take roles indiscriminately.” At least his career snags were offset by a happy family life. Gooding and his wife, teacher Sara Kapfer (together since 1987, they married in '94), have three children: sons Spencer, 12, and Mason, 10; and daughter Piper, who will be 2 in October. “She's running the house,” Gooding says. “I was the iron arm of the law with my boys. I'll stop what I'm doing for her.  “At our place,” he continues, about their home in L.A.'s Pacific Palisades, “we have a roller rink, a batting cage, a boxing gym, a sunken trampoline, a pool and Jacuzzi. … so all the kids wind up at our house. It's great. I've always been a kid guy. Coming from a movie shoot, picking up dog poop and hanging out in the backyard is what reconnects me.”

He doesn't buy the excuse that Hollywood is hard on marriages. “Look at the military: Those people go five, six months without seeing their families,” he says. “There's just as much temptation for a sailor in Guam walking down a street for six months seeing the two same women smiling at him as there is being on a movie set with Jennifer Lopez. My wife and I made that pact a long time ago. You have to have face time. It's human behaviour to protect yourself: If I don't see you, I'm going to start feeling insecure that maybe I'm not loved, and I'm going to gravitate toward someone else, especially someone who says ‘Hi' in the nice way. “Sometimes I fly in, argue with my wife, and fly back – but I spend the rest of the week thinking about her.” He laughs. “Not thoughts she wants to hear, but it's a connection. You can't get comfortable with your separation – that's what destroys marriages.” This is the time for waxing philosophical, and right on cue, Gooding does. “I think everything that happened in my career was for a reason,” he says. “I did a film, Shadowboxer, with this guy Lee Daniels. Who is a nut. I don't know if I'd ever work with him again, he's just crazy. But technically as an actor, I learned so much from him about stillness on camera. I have a very expressive face, I wear my emotions externally, and I don't even realize it. So I would never have had that experience had I not been in the position to do these no-budget films. I think that's God's will. That's the biggest blessing I've gotten out of this.

“I don't regret any decision I made,” he sums up. “If I were to do anything differently now, it would be to just work after the win. You have to continually hone your craft, as opposed to saving it. Now it's about the work, as opposed to positioning my celebritydom.” Of course, it's easier to believe in blessings with three promising films in the can: Line Watch, about border-patrol officers; Hero Wanted, a thriller opposite Ray Liotta (“my Charlie Bronson picture,” Gooding calls it); and the hotly anticipated American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Denzel Washington as real-life crook Frank Lucas. Gooding plays Nicky Barnes, a Harlem legend and the model for Superfly. “I asked [producer] Brian Grazer, ‘Is Nicky alive?' He said, ‘No, he was killed,'” Gooding says. “Then I met the real Frank Lucas, who was on the set. I asked him, ‘How did Nicky die?' He said, ‘Nicky ain't dead, he's in the witness-protection program.'  “I was like …” His jaw drops. “…That's heavy stuff, this guy's still out there roamin'.” Just like Gooding – his career ain't dead. He's still out there roamin'.

Phenomenon Getting Kids Back On The Stage

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Television Critic

(August 11, 2007) LOS ANGELES, CA–It is, let's face it, more like an overproduced beach-party movie than it is an actual, traditional musical. But it may have done more to revitalize interest and participation in musical theatre at the high-school level than a dozen Annies and Greases combined.
High School Musical is not just a small-screen phenomenon. There are currently about 1,500 licensed amateur and high-school stage productions of the original show in the U.S. alone, with another 500 expected before the end of the year. "We have just been blown away by the fact that this movie has gone to such a grassroots level and kids want to be in the show," marvels Adam Sanderson, senior vice-president of brand marketing for Disney. "The kids are demanding their school teachers, their music teachers ... they want to do this production." Which is all well and good, as far as it goes. Getting today's easily distracted student involved in and excited about the musical experience is no easy task, and they are apparently turning out in droves to audition for each of these local productions. But with arts funding at an all-time low, the enthusiasm for High School Musical can be put to an even more essential and enduring purpose.

"The reality is that a lot of kids in our country are not having this experience at all," says Mary Luehrsen, director of public affairs and government relations for NAMM, a.k.a. the International Music Products Association, a 160-year-old trade organization that has partnered with Disney to underwrite some of these school productions.  "It raises a public affairs and government relations issue that we're happy to talk to leadership, federal and state-level leaders, education leaders (about)... one by one, we're going to knock them over.  "We're going to make them pay attention to allow these things to happen in our schools." And it's not just about developing performance skills. "This is a life-changing, life-altering, self-expression-developing, self-actualization experience," insists Luehrsen. "We can use all those education terms. The kids tell us the best what it means to them." A case in point: A recent high-school High School production in Fort Worth, Tex., as chronicled by veteran documentarian Barbara Kopple in an accompanying Disney special, High School Musical: The Music in You. "We've all been looking for something like this, because it's really hard to interest this generation in Fiddler on the Roof,' allows Ann Hunter, the drama teacher at the documentary's featured Arlington Heights High.

"That's a three-hour show. And let's be honest, even audiences won't sit for three hours anymore. So you have to look at the fact that this show just instantly energizes your theatre department. All your kids talk about it. They send it out. I saw text messages – you're not supposed to have phones in school, but I bet the bills were outrageous. They were texting people in other towns: `We're doing it! We're doing it!' "They're crazy about it, and they love it. And they're so excited to do it. We're missing in high school a lot of musicals that kids can do because it's just ... it's old style. I'm not saying that's not important, because it is. It's what American musical theatre was based on. But when you're dealing with high school, you've got to get them in the door." Getting them in the door was equally important to Kenny Ortega, High School Musical's director/choreographer – no doubt with a canny eye toward recasting the franchise once the current youthful cast gets too old for Rest Home Musical. "The thing I was most excited about, and that I'm hoping for High School Musical 2, is that it has turned on a whole new generation ... and that whole new generation has said to us, `We like musical storytelling.' "That is a thrill. This is the most successful original musical in, like, 25 years, and the kids have made it that. And I think that they are saying, you know, is `We like this. We want more of this.' And that's a wonderful thing for our industry, a wonderful thing for people that enjoy working in musical film, and a great legacy.  "That, for me, is the most thrilling part of the success."

Multi-Tasking Movie Star

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Stephen Cole

(August 10, 2007) When actress Julie Delpy first discussed promoting her directorial debut, 2 Days in Paris, with publicists, she advised them to compare her native city to the monster in Ridley Scott's Alien. "The movie poster would say, 'In Paris, no one can hear you scream,' " Delpy giggles over the phone from Los Angeles. "It was a joke of mine, but I was serious in a way. In the film, I wanted Paris to be a living organism that lashes out at this French and American couple, Marion and Jack. I thought that would make a great comedy." Who knew that the great French screen actress was so funny? After all, rib ticklers are few and far between in Delpy's most memorable films, Europa, Europa, Jean-Luc Godard's The Detective, Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours trilogy and the American indie hits Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Delpy would have you believe that the dark humour evident in her latest film, which opens today in Toronto, has kept her sane. For it turns out the 37-year-old actress has been pitching feature screenplays without success for 19 exasperating years. "I have written nine scripts and pitched many more ideas," Delpy groans. "No one took me seriously; I was just an actress - puh!" Even after garnering a best screenwriting Academy Award nomination for the 2004 film Before Sunset, Delpy couldn't get fast and cheap digital film producers in Hollywood interested in making her Paris comedy. Finally, with German-French financing, she managed a 20-day shoot. To cut costs, Delpy wrote, starred in, edited and composed the soundtrack for the film. She also got her parents, veteran Paris theatre actors Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, to play her character's mother and father in the film. The only splurge was hiring character actor Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) to play perplexed New York boyfriend Jack.

That last part almost didn't work out. "Adam's agent thought the film was a waste of time, that he was doing me a favour," Delpy sighs. "Adam showed up 12 hours before filming. We had no time to rehearse." The actress goes on to say Goldberg made a classic American tourist's blunder. "He didn't have a passport three days before the shoot," she sighs. "Can you imagine?" The story of an odd-socks couple who spend a weekend in France before returning home to New York, 2 Days in Paris is ostensibly the story of incompatible lovers. However, Delpy, who is a citizen of both France and the United States, acknowledges that it's also the story of how two countries get on each other's nerves. "It's so funny what France and the United States think about each other," Delpy says. "I don't know how many times I've heard an American say [adopting a gravelly voice], 'Hey, if it weren't for us Am'ricans, you'd be speaking German now.' At the same time, the French don't get Americans at all. They're still laughing about how Clinton almost lost his presidency over a blowjob. In France, presidents and kings have had mistresses for centuries. The kings gave their lovers official titles." What makes 2 Days in Paris so intriguing is that the film challenges cultural stereotypes. It's Jack, the American, who chain-smokes, while Marion is prone to violence. In fact, when we first see Marion with Jack snoozing in a train sleeper, a pistol on her T-shirt is aimed at her lover. "It would be fun if audiences notice the gun," Delpy says. "It took me a lot of shopping to find the perfect T-shirt. I like those little hidden jokes in movies. And in a film about Americans and French you have to hide a few jokes, otherwise it would be too much." Some of the digs at the French are made with sharp elbows. One memorable scene has Marion and Jack in a taxi with a crypto-fascist driver. Delpy's character gives him a Sieg Heil salute, shouting, "Welcome to France!" before suggesting that his wife is sleeping with an Arab. Marion uses a more forthright verb, however.

"Oh boy, when the French distributor saw that he said, 'You must cut that scene.' I said, 'That isn't a possibility.' 'Very well,' he said, 'your film will open in two theatres in Paris.' " As it happens, the uncut film opened in Paris in 90 theatres, after creating a favourable critical stir at the Berlin Film Festival. "The distributor wasn't a bad man, he was just frightened about losing his money," Delpy allows. Men, she says, are more conservative about money and, in some ways, about sex. "Many men who interview me say, 'Julie, I'm really surprised, there are so many sex jokes in your movie,' " Delpy says, her voice rising in surprise. "Actually, the sex jokes were the first things I put in. That's how I talk to my girlfriends in Paris and in America." In 2 Days in Paris, Jack is intimidated by Marion's sexual past. Delpy says she has witnessed the same phenomenon in her own life. "I'm not a slut, I don't fool around when I'm in a relationship,' " she says. "Women, they expect their partner to have had experience. Men, you know, they always like to think they were the first one in there." Critics who suggest that Goldberg's character has a castration complex amuse Delpy. (At one point in the film, Jack complains about an Italian condom being too tight. Elsewhere, he gets upset because Marion is flashing around nude photos of him to her parents.) "That's ridiculous. Are people saying I have penis envy?" Delpy laughs. "It was just fun. The film is a comedy, right?" Later in the conversation, however, she allows that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and that she herself is maybe too close to the movie. "Oh, it is hard to get a movie made," she says. "The money, the agents, distributors and everything. The horrible surprises: Someone in the film had a heart attack - I can't say who it is - right before we began shooting. I almost went crazy. And now people ask me about castration. What can I say? I wrote the film quickly. The shoot was over so fast. It's strange that I don't have the answers to questions about my own movie." Delpy is asked whether she took on too much responsibility in making her new film. Writing, directing, starring in, scoring and editing a movie co-starring your parents would seem a sure way to ruin 20 days in Paris. "Oh no," Delpy is quick to answer. "I loved having my parents in the film. They are actors. They made me who I am. Don't get me wrong. The business is hard. But the acting, filming, music, editing, singing. You see kids playing in a park. That's me when I'm making a movie. I just hope, maybe if this film or the next film is successful, the business will become easier."

John Malkovich: The Invisible Man

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Movie Critic

(August 10, 2007) When
John Malkovich emits a sigh over the phone line from Montreal – which he does more than once – it's of sufficient duration to have made the entire trip by Greyhound bus. It's not that Malkovich – in Canada to promote the belatedly opening, internationally co-produced portrait-of-the-artist, Klimt, and to finish shooting a French production called Afterwards – is especially unhappy. It's because sighing is his way of stalling while attempting to dredge up responses to questions he's not really sure how to answer. Roughly speaking, that's a one-to-one sigh-to-question ratio. Just ask him about Klimt. It's not only a highly unconventional biopic about the once-notorious, fin-de-siècle Austrian painter of forbidden desires and unbridled Eros, it's the latest film by the staggeringly prolific, fiercely unconventional art-house auteur Raoul Ruiz, a director Malkovich has already worked with three times – and is signed to work with again. What is it about Ruiz anyway? "Raoul?" he counters in that indelible nasal whine of his, as his sigh boards the bus and settles in for the long trip down the 401. "I just enjoy enormously working with Raoul. I think he's incredibly bright and cultivated and interesting and has a very independent view of things and of the world. And he's terrifically poetic."

Almost as independent as Ruiz, Malkovich has only recently returned to the U.S. after spending several years in Europe directing plays and making movies far from what he calls "the cultural cacophony" of contemporary America. But if the life of the expatriate Yankee artist yielded much by way of fruitful offshore collaborations, it has acted as an impediment of sorts to his visibility back home.  Indeed, the average North American moviegoer would be forgiven for thinking that Malkovich – the unmistakably gifted and intensely idiosyncratic 53-year-old star of Dangerous Liaisons, In the Line of Fire, Con Air and (most sportingly) Being John Malkovich – had gone into some form of early retirement. Which is close but not exactly true. He only went to Europe to make movies. But while he's made a lot of them – the Internet Movie Database credits him with 26 completed films since 2000 – many will never wash up on these shores other than at occasional festival screenings and semi-obscure DVD releases. Ripley's Game, for instance, an acclaimed adaptation of one of Patricia Highsmith's early novels, went straight to disc. Colour Me Kubrick, which featured Malkovich in the role of the man pretending to be the reclusive director, has yet to book international passage. The Dancer Upstairs, Malkovich's 2002 Spanish-language directorial debut, took years to make only to barely surface when it was finally finished.  So how does he feel about spending all this time on films he clearly cares about, only to see them make barely a ripple in the market where he first made his name? Is that frustrating?

"You know what? Not really," he says after yet another sigh has cleared the terminal.  "I could whine about it because I'm so good at it, but it doesn't really frustrate me because that's not why I do it.  "Unfortunately, when you do the things you want to do there is always a price to pay and that's just the way it is. And somebody who doesn't understand that is truly cruising for a bruising. Just because I think it's funny to play this kind of vamp diva who goes around pretending he's Stanley Kubrick doesn't mean that anyone else in the world will find that entertaining. They may very well and I'm glad they do." Sigh. "If they even get the chance to see it." Aptly then, what he loved about playing Gustav Klimt was the movie's vision of the artist as a guy who doesn't care, who's as baffled and amused by the meaningless culture-vulture feather-ruffling he generates as Malkovich is by the "tendentious and ultimately boring" tone of public discourse in the home country he's just returned to. "I'm not in any way saying I like my portrayal, that's not for me to comment on," says the actor. "But I like the way he's portrayed in the film. In the end it's really you with the brush and some bits of pigment. And your regard – what you see. And that seems to me all that really matters."

Getting Noticed: The Spooky Side Of Celebrity

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Geoff Pevere

(August 10, 2007) When questioned by an interviewer a few years ago about getting old,
Paul Newman responded: "Twenty-five years ago I couldn't walk down the street without being recognized. Now I can put a cap on, walk anywhere and no one pays me any attention. They don't ask me about my movies and they don't ask me about my salad dressing because they don't know who I am.  "Am I happy about this?" he added. "You bet." For untold millions of us, this statement is probably perplexing. Who doesn't want to be famous? Who doesn't want to be recognized and desired and admired wherever they go? Who doesn't want what Paul Newman is so happy to finally be rid of? Well, plenty of famous people for starters. When she was in town a couple of weeks ago to promote her new movie Stardust, Claire Danes commented on the perennially "spooky" nature of being constantly stared at. And when I spoke to John Malkovich over the phone a few days earlier, he might as well have been talking about himself when he was talking about playing Gustav Klimt, the sensation-generating Austrian painter who was the talk of the continent a century ago.

I told him I found it particularly fascinating that the movie portrays Klimt as a man baffled by his own reputation. "I think normal people are baffled their reputations," he said. "You go, `What is this about? Okay, I draw well. I paint well. I have a way of seeing – a regard. I'm a good musician. I'm pretty. I'm...' whatever it is they are when they get known. But I think profoundly any normal person would have to be baffled at anything beyond that. "In the end," Malkovich added, "it's really you with the brush and some bits of pigment. And your regard. And that seems to me all that really matters."  Malkovich recently returned to the U.S. after living for years in France, an act of self-exile he imposed on himself largely so that his children could grow up far from that spookiness. Fame is such a ubiquitous element in our cultural atmosphere it's all too easy to mistake it for something spontaneous or organic, the purely natural by-product of individual talent sparking off the rock of popular demand. But it's not – except in very rare cases. On the one hand, fame is a product, a hugely profitable commodity that is nurtured, distributed and exploited by an industry that's as sophisticated and competitive as any global economic enterprise.  For a local lesson in the economics of celebrity, just watch the forthcoming Toronto International Film Festival as it rumbles across the city's entertainment media, flattening all other events in its path. And how does it level the field? With the steamroller of celebrity. At the same time, fame has proven singularly detrimental to so many who have been swept up by that machinery.

Next week in Memphis, hundreds of thousands of people will converge to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, a man whose struggles with his own notoriety have become so deeply engrained in the popular consciousness they've taken on the contours of a kind of pop-cult mythology. That's why we all know the story, whether or not the specific subject is Elvis, Marilyn, Jacko, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Brando or Judy Garland. It goes like this: Fame comes early to the conspicuously gifted one, too early for such a sensitive soul to bear. The pressure warps the frail creative vessel, resulting in seclusion, addiction, madness and (often) early death.  But while we – whose devotion (and consumption) makes fame possible – know this, we remain almost as enthralled by it as by the talent that made the famous that way in the first place.  It's as though we know that fame and normality are somehow mutually at odds, and half the drama is watching that struggle play out. It may be predatory on our part, or it may be a healthy interest in observing the limits of human endurance, but it's hard-wired. And hard to survive. What it requires is the tenacious wisdom and common sense to put it in its place and wait it out.  By that time you might be over 80, but take it from Paul Newman: There's nothing quite like finally being a nobody again.

Toronto Development Designed To Lure Hollywood

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Tim Shufelt

(August 9, 2007) A cluster of huge sound stages being built on a formerly contaminated site in the Port Lands will help revive the city's sluggish film industry, supporters say.  Mayor David Miller was at the site yesterday to unveil designs of the project's cornerstone - a dramatic $50-million office building designed by avant-garde architect Will Alsop, best known in these parts for his shoebox-on-stilts building at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Construction of the new building, which will mainly comprise offices for production companies, will begin next spring and is scheduled to be completed the following year. The company spearheading the project, Filmcorp, is already building production stages, including a 45,000-square-foot megastage, the largest of its kind in Canada. Mr. Miller said as co-chair of the Toronto Film Board, he was aware of a significant gap in Toronto's media production infrastructure.  "That meant we were losing the opportunity to do what I call 'export production' - big Hollywood blockbusters," he said. "That gap is being closed by Filmport and couldn't be more important to the success of our film industry."

Filmport president Ken Ferguson said that gap has been the main culprit in dragging down the local film industry, despite all the blame heaped on the rising dollar.  The Port Lands project, which will eventually offer one-stop studio services, is just the type of facility Hollywood studio executives look for, he said.  Filmport says over the next seven to 10 years, it will continue to devise new development plans for the site, which will ultimately house three million square feet of production space for film, music and digital media at a total cost of $700-million. The project is being supported by high-profile backers Paul Bronfman and Sam Reisman, and this week Filmcorp received a $28.5-million construction loan from GE Real Estate for the first phase.  While there is no taxpayer money going into the project, the 30-acre site is owned by the Toronto Economic Development Corp., an arm's-length city agency. The land was acquired from Imperial Oil. Like many brownfield sites, it was so badly polluted the company actually paid TEDCO to assume ownership and clean the soil.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Green Before It Was All The Rage

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Bob Strauss

(August 15, 2007) LOS ANGELES — A star of
Leonardo DiCaprio's magnitude isn't used to limiting his screen time. But in the new documentary The 11th Hour, the actor, who was also one of the movie's producers, does his best to stay out of the way of the people he considers its true stars: dozens of scientists, activists and authors who are trying to prevent mankind from destroying Earth's environment.  "I was very specific with everyone involved in this film that I didn't want to pretend to be an expert," says the 32-year-old actor, most recently seen in The Departed and Blood Diamond (his performance in the latter was nominated for an Oscar). "I think there is a certain stigma - that I would have, too - in listening to somebody who hasn't devoted their life to a subject like this preaching to me about environmental issues." Actually, DiCaprio has been deeply involved in the green movement longer than some celebrities who are still driving their first Prius. He's been interested in conservation since his Hollywood childhood, and started a foundation that bears his name in 1998 to support eco-causes. DiCaprio is also a board member of the National Resources Defense Council and Global Green USA.

That noted, he understands that, while movie stars can draw people to their pet causes, they can also attract derision. But the former teen heartthrob figures that, historically, the plusses of celebrity advocacy outweigh the minuses. "The civil-rights movement, the peace movement in the past, Hollywood has traditionally supported a lot of these movements," DiCaprio notes.  "I don't think it's our responsibility, but some individuals choose to do that and some individuals don't. I just happen to be one that does." Celebrities also have a reputation of jumping on and off the latest-cause bandwagon. DiCaprio figures, however, that the very nature of the multiple problems of pollution, resource depletion, rising temperatures and other interconnected environmental issues demand a lifetime commitment.

"It can't, unfortunately, be something that's just hot now for a few years and then just sort of dissolves," notes the actor, sporting the hip summer fashion of wispy goatee and Lacoste polo shirt. "This is something that needs to be done on a massive level and worldwide level for decades to come ... so hopefully, no, it's not a passing fad." Of course, there are those who don't want to believe that there's an environmental crisis - or maybe do, but are profiting from it. And there are others who simply don't want to follow rich Hollywood liberals' advice on anything (some accused DiCaprio of hypocrisy when he flew into last spring's Cannes Film Festival on a private jet).  "My response to that has always been how could we, as a country, not be for wanting to be energy independent and not reliant on foreign oil?" says the actor, who usually travels on commercial airlines. "[Even] if you don't believe the overwhelming majority of the scientific community that is in agreement that mankind is playing a major role in this, how could you still not want cleaner air and cleaner water? So I think it crosses political boundaries in a huge way. That's my response to the sceptics." DiCaprio hopes 11th Hour will be part of a continually growing trend in both documentary and feature films to engage with current events. But he knows that, as with so much that has affected the environment, economics will dictate whether films like his and such upcoming titles as Rendition, The Kingdom, In the Valley of Elah and Lions for Lambs will continue to thrive. "I think it's encouraging. It's a throwback to a lot of political films that I enjoyed from the seventies, certainly, like Parallax View or Three Days of the Condor," he says. "And I'd love to be a part of more films like that ... If it's a good enough story and it's going to be a great film, first and foremost, I'm a huge advocate for making those types of movies. That's why Blood Diamond was huge on my radar, and this film about the CIA that I'm making with Ridley Scott [Body of Lies]. I would just hope that enough people will go to see them so the studios will make more films like that in the future."

Cronenberg Delivers, Again

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Liam Lacey

(August 15, 2007) A new film by
David Cronenberg is always an event, and perhaps more so following the commercial and critical success of A History of Violence, his 2005 hit starring Viggo Mortensen as an apparently ordinary family man with a very dangerous past. Since that film (which went on to two Academy Award nominations) had its debut at Cannes, Cronenberg's name has been linked to a number of other projects, including a sci-fi story called Painkillers, which he was to write. He was also supposed to be involved with an adaptation of Martin Amis's novel London Fields and a Hollywood-set film, Maps to the Stars, written by Bruce Wagner (Wild Palms). But instead of these, we have Eastern Promises, a London thriller involving Russian mobsters dealing in sex-slave traffic.  Mortensen returns as a smooth underling to a crime boss (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his out-of-control son (Vincent Cassel), who is charged with making sure an innocent midwife (Naomi Watts) does not reveal secrets she has inadvertently learned about the ruthless crime family.

The 64-year-old Canadian director, dressed in a black jacket and T-shirt, with grey hair styled in a characteristic Samuel Beckett-like stand, is, famously, an amiable, calm man who makes movies that often show extreme portrayals of sexuality and violence. With Eastern Promises, Cronenberg has delivered what appears to be a second almost-conventional thriller in a row. Not only will it play the Toronto International Film Festival in September, but it will open two other major international film festivals, The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival and the 55th annual San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. As for the other projects, they've all gone away. He "fell out of love" with his own screenplay, Painkillers, and one way or the other, all the other projects have faded away. In some cases, he says, rumoured projects have been news to him. "It's sort of an IMDB [Internet Movie Database] problem, you know. Things have a reality on there and it's very difficult to get them off."

Eastern Promises was written by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) and was developed by BBC Films, where it had been hung up in development for some time before Cronenberg received the script through an agent. Robert Lantos's Serendipity films also became involved, making this a British-American-Canadian production. Cronenberg immediately suggested Mortensen for the role of the Russian gangster "because I always felt he had a very Russian face." But first, he felt there had to be more work paring down Knight's script: "What it was, was a first draft - and he tried a whole bunch of different ideas in the same script and not all of them worked ..." Neither British, nor Russian, Cronenberg may not have been the most obvious choice for the film, but he says an outsider has advantages: "You can look at it with a pretty cold eye, which I think is a good thing. There's a lot of political correctness in England, and I don't care about that. It rolls off my back. And, of course, there's the class thing, which is always present. London is very segmented and people have strong ideas about different areas, but this was not going to be a posh movie. This wasn't Notting Hill. We shot in a lot of areas like Harlesden and Hackney where films aren't usually shot - immigrant places, dangerous places, not glamorous places, but they're full of history and full of life."

Mortensen, who travelled to Russia to live for a while to prepare for the role, sent Cronenberg a book about Russian criminal tattoos, which inspired Cronenberg to work them into a subplot. For Cronenberg devotees, it will be a classic example of the kind of body transformation themes have characterized his work for more than 35 years. But the scene that will undoubtedly prove the major talking point of the film is a bathhouse fight between Mortensen and two other men that is loaded with extreme violence along with nudity. Initially, Cronenberg and his set designer had found what they thought was a perfect London bathhouse with lots of small rooms and corridors that was "creepy and great," but when the owners decided to renovate and modernize it, the filmmakers had to build their own. Working initially with models, he told the stunt co-ordinator what he wanted. The stunt co-ordinator spent a couple of hours a week with the three actors involved, with Cronenberg dropping in to monitor the action. Then the actors performed it in slow motion while Cronenberg worked out his camera moves: "I didn't want Bourne [Ultimatum]-style impressionism where you don't actually see what's going on. People go to the movies to transform, or live another life, and I wanted them to feel that they were there, that they were vulnerable." Somewhere in there, he says, there was the question of what to do with the towels. "I'll fight naked. That's how it would happen," Cronenberg says of Mortensen's reaction. "There wasn't even a discussion about what else we do because Viggo knows I'd be too restricted if I couldn't shoot him from the waist down."

Cronenberg says he's already got feedback commenting on the bravery of the scene. "These days with DVDs and screen grabs and so on, we know there will be naked shots of him on the Internet, so the naturally vulnerability of the actor is increased, but we also know that's how the scene must be played."

FILM TIDBITS

Screen Beauties Liv And Emmanuelle Heat Up Summer Film Sets

Source:  Canadian Press

(Aug. 9, 2007) As summer temperatures soar in Toronto and New York this week, brunette beauties
Liv Tyler and Entourage star Emmanuelle Chriqui have been looking just as hot while getting down to work on their latest big screen offerings in the two places.  Mum-of-one Liv is currently on location in Canada's biggest city lensing The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton. And when she's not in character as the green-skinned superhero's love interest Betty Ross, the 30-year-old actress has been making the most of what the area has to offer. She's been spotted indulging in some retail therapy on Yonge Street while on a filming break.   Meanwhile in Liv's home town - the Big Apple - Montreal-born Emmanuelle was clearly having a ball working with Adam Sandler on romantic comedy You Don't Mess With The Zohan. As the cameras rolled, the pair got down to the serious business of picnicking and playing softball in Manhattan's scenic Central Park.  The 29-year-old actress had just finished wrapping up filming of crime thriller Tortured alongside Laurence Fishburne in Vancouver before jetting into New York.

Romany Malco Books Film Role

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2007) *“Weeds” star
Romany Malco joins Mike Myers, Jessica Alba and Verne Troyer in the new Paramount comedy "The Love Guru," about an American  who was left at the gates of an ashram in India as a child and raised by gurus. Myers will play the lead role of Pitka, who moves back to the U.S. to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality, specializing in settling intimacy issues between couples, according to the Hollywood Reporter. His unorthodox methods are put to the test when he must settle a rift between star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Malco) and his estranged wife. After the split, Roanoke's wife starts dating the star member of a rival team, sending her husband into a major professional skid -- to the horror of the team's owner, Jane Bullard (Alba), and Coach Cherkov (Troyer). Production begins next month in Toronto for a June 20th release.

Mr. Big Back In 'Sex And The City' Movie

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 10, 2007) NEW YORK – Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw will be together again, this time on the big screen. Chris Noth, who played Sarah Jessica Parker's love interest on HBO's
Sex and the City, is slated to reprise his role in a feature film spun from the long-running TV series. Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon will also reprise their roles for the romantic comedy, to be distributed by New Line Cinema in association with HBO. "There is no need for funeral arrangements," said Michael Patrick King, who will direct the film. "I assure you that Mr. Big is a very `big' part of the Sex and the City movie." "While I have not spoken to him myself, Chris Noth assures me that Mr. Big is alive and well and ready to report to the set in September," King said in a statement Wednesday. King was one of the executive producers of the TV series, which ended in 2004. Noth, 50, plays police Det. Mike Logan on NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Bernie Mac Grows ‘Old’ With Travolta, Williams

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 15, 2007) *
Bernie Mac has signed on to star opposite John Travolta and Robin Williams in the Walt Disney buddy comedy “Old Dogs,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film revolves around two best friends and business partners whose lives are thrown off course when they must suddenly take care of 7-year-old twins.  Mac will play Johnny Lunchbox, described as a superstar puppeteer among the kiddie crowd. The comedian and Original King of Comedy most recently appeared as a car dealer in the box office hit "Transformers" as well as "Ocean's Thirteen."

 

::TV NEWS::

Rock Harper Talks About ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Victory

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 15, 2007) *Even though curious activity at several betting Web sites revealed
Rock Harper as the apparent winner of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” back in June, Monday night’s season finale was still a satisfying conclusion to the drama-filled season. It came down to Harper, 30, and Bonnie Muirhead in the final round. Each was given the task of designing their own dining room and leading a team of former contestants in preparing their chosen menu.  Chef Gordon Ramsay described Bonnie's side as “nice, clean and elegant.” But her food was another story.  Ramsay said the prawns were overcooked and the dessert was too small. Rock’s room was described by Ramsay as “rich, sumptuous, elegant and smart,” while his menu was labeled “robust” with samples of crispy crab cakes atop fried chicken, a rib eye, and a vanilla bean milkshake with cookies.   “I think that from top to bottom my concept was in tune,” said Rock during an interview after the show. “My concept was all about the customer, everything worked from things as small as the font on the menu, to the bread basket, to even the purse rests I had for the ladies.  Dining is probably 80 percent about the food or 90 percent about the food but the other 10 or 20 percent is about the little things that you might not notice but really make you feel great.” 

As the winner of “Hells’s Kitchen 3,” Rock becomes the new head chef of the Green Valley Resort and Spa in Las Vegas.   “This is huge,” says Rock, who admits to being more nervous about the sudden onslaught of media attention surrounding the new gig than the gig itself.  “I've heard the rumours about the PR that you have to do and how everybody knows you in the town and your life changes,” said the husband and father of two. “I think that's more nerve-wracking than when I get in the kitchen. Or, when I get in the restaurant, that'll be my sanctuary.  It'll be fine.  I'm ready to learn some Italian.  I mean I'm trying to be the best black Italian chef in the country.”

Duchovny Gets His Groove Back

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Vinay Menon

(August 13, 2007)
David Duchovny returns to series television with a bang. (Several, actually. But more on these carnal exploits in a minute.) In his new dramedy, Californication (TMN, 9 tonight), Duchovny plays Hank Moody, an aptly named novelist who is freefalling through a personal crisis. Meaning, Hank is indulging in the kind of reckless, self-destructive actions we've come to expect from the morally ambiguous characters that populate cable. Hank smokes. He drinks. He drugs. He insults. He brawls. And, yes, he beds a parade of keen women, including one Lolita who turns out to be all of 16 (though Hank doesn't know this at the time). So what's up with the angst and wretched impulses, Mulder?  Well, after relocating to Los Angeles from New York, Hank has developed a paralyzing case of writer's block. His weighty tome God Hates Us All was optioned and then fluffed into a romantic comedy titled A Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

So there's that. Also, Hank's ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) is now engaged to another man. This could be tolerable if Hank wasn't still in love with her. Then there's Becca (Madeleine Martin), the estranged couple's precocious and sullen 12-year-old daughter. Becca, alarmingly, shows signs she may be incubating the same inner demons that are now jabbing pitchforks into her father's conscience. In the opening scene, as the Rolling Stones fill the soundtrack, Hank drives his black Porsche toward a church. He steps out of the convertible and squints uneasily into the sunlight, a cigarette dangling from his pale lips. He ambles inside where he meets a nun. Soon, Hanks says and does things that can't be repeated in a family newspaper. The scene turns out to be a fantasy sequence. No matter. It establishes the show's indifference to controversy, darkly comic tone and operating philosophy: the truth is in here. It's been five years since The X-Files departed. That show turned Duchovny into a pop-cultural icon as FBI agent Fox Mulder. Along the way, Duchovny also became the thinking woman's heartthrob: brooding, enigmatic, cerebral, deadpan, bottled. There was a UFO poster that hung in Mulder's subterranean office emblazoned with the declaration: "I Want To Believe." If Hank Moody had a poster in his den, it would undoubtedly read: "I Want To Feel."

Californication is a gripping portrait of a broken man struggling to put himself back together before he disintegrates and vanishes inside the "one-hit wonder" quicksand of shallow Los Angeles. It is a voyage into the choppy tide of despair and self-loathing, gloom and male capitulation masquerading as a midlife crisis.  It is a cautionary tale that is as funny as it is disheartening. But more than anything, it's the perfect return vehicle for Duchovny. As for the carnal exploits, if you're offended by nudity and simulated coitus, Californication is not for you. But for everybody else, take note of the fundamental unsexiness of tonight's sex scenes. (Hank is invariably on the bottom and the trysts are mostly shot in dingy shadows. They are by turns bleak, anonymous and mindless, with pillow talk that is drolly amusing.) Californication also stars Madeline Zima and Evan Handler as Charlie, Hank's agent and best friend. The series was created by Tom Kapinos, who wrote tonight's pilot. It was directed by Stephen Hopkins, who does an admirable job framing an unglamorous side of L.A. rarely seen on shows such as Entourage. Duchovny, also an executive producer, has always shown an indie sensibility when it comes to picking his roles. With Hank Moody, he has created a new character worthy of his résumé and reputation.  In turn, we have a new reason to admire the man.

MTV - They're Heading For The Hills

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

(August 11, 2007)
MTV Canada's quirky after show duo, Dan and Jessi, is heading south.  No, they're not leaving the friendly confines of the Masonic Temple for the glamorous (and drama-filled) life in the Hollywood Hills or the beaches of Orange County. But the pair is taking their wacky and popular version of The After Show to MTV.com in the U.S., in addition to broadcasting live on MTV Canada to their devoted fan base here.  It debuts south of the border on MTV.com following the season premiere of The Hills on Monday at 10 p.m., with the possibility it will also one day air on the network. The pair will be up to their old antics of sniping about storylines, using telestrators on the cast and chatting with some of southern California's most privileged.  "I think (The Hills) is something people watch in their homes, don't necessarily talk about, and I think the success of The After Show is that we've given people an excuse to acknowledge that they watch it," says 23-year-old Dan Levy. (Yes, he's the son of Eugene).  The idea to take The After Show to the U.S. happened following a visit from Adam DiVello, creator and executive producer of The Hills, and cast members Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port and Audrina Patridge to the season finale wrap-up in April, which attracted thousands of screaming fans to the Yonge St. landmark. The finales in New York didn't come close to attracting the same number of people.

"The fact (Dan and Jessi) know the show so well and they're such huge fans of the show, they connect with their audience," says DiVello, who adds his favourite segment is the slow-motion remixes, which are included in the season two DVD of The Hills. "They're so welcoming, it's like walking into their home." There wasn't any sense of added pressure for the two as their personalities mirror their on-air personae. They credit theirs and the show's success to having the ability to speak their minds and not copping out of asking the questions on the viewers' mind. "It turns out the girls themselves liked talking to us better because we were genuine fans," says Jessi Cruickshank, 24.  There should be no shortage of gab this season with the ongoing Lauren vs. Heidi-Spencer hostility and the return of Jason Wahler, fresh from rehab, later in the season.  The giant leap into a larger market is an unforeseen bonus for the pair, who just clicked when a revolving door of hosts put the two together for an episode. It's almost as if it was meant to be, since Levy – who already had a hosting gig – was the only person to speak to Cruickshank during her terrifying audition day.

Fresh out of an English and Drama degree from the University of Toronto, Cruickshank says she, like many closet fans, thought she was above a teen soap opera like Laguna Beach and the subsequent spin-offs when the original debuted in Canada about two years ago. "I was very high on the idea of using my education and bettering the world, and then they sit me down in front of these teenagers who are talking about boys," says the stylish redhead. "But three episodes in, I could not stop watching." The number of people who have "crawled out of the woodwork" and admitted their allegiance to L.C. and the girls has astonished Levy. It's not surprising The Hills is the No. 1 show on MTV in Canada and The After Show retains much of the audience.  "Is it life-changing, mountain-moving television? No," chimes Levy. "But is it one of the best guilty pleasure shows on TV? Absolutely."  The Hills phenomenon has created a weird life-imitating-art-intimating-life trend that both hosts find fascinating. The on-air relationships, such as the one between Conrad and ex-beau Wahler, have intensified storylines in which real gossip – an alleged sex date –has led to golden footage for the show in the upcoming season.  Cruickshank says she was extra conscious about her actions at Les Deux, a Hollywood hangout the cast of The Hills frequents on and off the show when they sat down for interviews with the girls in Los Angeles. MTV hasn't shied away from embarrassing the two hosts – to keep them humble, they say – with stories and gossip that are permeating cyberspace.

Both Levy and Cruickshank also haven't held back when they discuss the cast on The After Show. In an astonished tone, the question "What were they thinking?" has become very common, especially when addressing Conrad, whom Cruickshank says is the epitome of the "everywoman." "She's made some big mistakes – Jason. There are definitely storylines there that I see (a bit of) myself in Ms. Lauren Conrad, as embarrassing as it is," she says. "(Yet) Jason makes riveting television because there's nothing there (she points between her ears) and I don't know what anybody sees in him and why all these girls have dated him." The drama and unintentional comedy cemented into The Hills and The After Show could also have a home in certain parts of this fair city as well, according to the effervescent hosts. Perhaps it would be called "(insert area): The Real Toronto." Not in the Annex, though, where Cruickshank resides, as "everyone's too chill there."  But the Rosedale, Forest Hill private school crowd would be an obvious choice, says Levy, adding the Queen St. W. hipster scene is also chock-full of drama.  "People spend just as much time getting ready just to look low key," says Levy. "But at the root of it, they're all based on the same thing. Everyone is high maintenance."

Microsoft Slashes Prices On Xbox 360 Consoles

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Special To The Star

(August 11, 2007)  Coinciding with the launch of EA Sports' eagerly anticipated
Madden NFL 08 – one of the biggest-selling video-game franchises over the past decade – Microsoft has just announced a $100 price drop for its Xbox 360 console (all figures Canadian). Effective immediately, the Xbox 360 is now $399.99 for the premium bundle (which includes the 20GB machine, wireless controller, headset and game), while the black Xbox 360 Elite (120GB hard drive and HDMI audio/video output for 1080p resolution) has dropped down to $499.99 from $549.99. The entry-level core system (no hard drive, wired controller and composite A/V cables) is now $299.99 as opposed to $399.99. Um, confused yet? Wait, there's more. Next month you can also buy the Xbox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition Console for $449.99, featuring a green-and-gold finish and matching Xbox 360 wireless controller, along with a 20GB hard drive, headset and more. Oddly enough, however, this "Halo 3 Special Edition" Xbox 360 console does not ship with a copy of Halo 3, which will cost you an additional $69.99, $79.99 or $149.99, depending on the version you want.

BEST OF E3 ANNOUNCED: The results for the "Best of E3 2007" were announced last week by the Game Critics Awards, a consortium of 36 journalists and editors who specialize in interactive entertainment (including yours truly). For the tenth year in a row, the panel of judges spent some thumb-numbing hands-on time with tomorrow's video games at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which recently wrapped up in Santa Monica. Leading the pack of winners is Rock Band (Harmonix/MTV Games/Electronic Arts), a hotly anticipated music game due out this fall for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, that lets players jam along with hit rock songs by playing on guitar-, bass- and drum-shaped controllers, or by singing into a microphone. Players are graded on pitch and rhythm.  The game, which allows up to four band mates to play together in front of the television or over the Internet, won the coveted Best of Show nod, as well as Best Hardware/Peripheral and Best Social/Casual/Puzzle game. Microsoft Game Studios' Mass Effect, an ambitious sci-fi thriller for the Xbox 360, earned two awards, including Best Console Game. Speaking of the Xbox 360, Microsoft's console was the leading platform with 11 wins, followed by eight wins for games playable on the PlayStation 3.  In terms of publishers, Electronic Arts won the most awards with six in total, followed by Microsoft with three. For a complete list of all the categories and winners, visit gamecriticsawards.com. P.S., while I'm not a "I told you so" kind of person, The Game Guy already told you the best games at E3 (published in the Sunday Star on July 15). My top two picks were Rock Band and Mass Effect.  Am I on top of my game or what?

TV TIDBITS

Ced The Entertainer Stars In ABC Pilot

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2007) *Comedic-actor
Ced the Entertainer returns to series television in a new as-yet-untitled pilot for ABC.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ced will play a man who has always been the proud breadwinner for his family and has difficulty adjusting when his wife's hobby turns into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. The pilot marks Ced’s return to the small screen after his brief run on Fox with the sketch comedy series "Cedric the Entertainer Presents." If picked up, the show will be ABC’s first comedy starting a predominantly African American cast since “My Wife and Kids,” featuring Damon Wayans. Ced is currently in theatres playing the baritone after-hours radio jock Nighthawk in the critically-acclaimed film, "Talk to Me."

::THEATRE NEWS::

Cirque du Soleil's Kooza Simple, Spectacular

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic

KOOZÅ
(out of 4)
Written and directed by David Shiner. Until Oct. 7 at the Grand Chapiteau, at Cherry and Commissioner Sts.
1-800-361-4595

(August 10, 2007) After all these years,
Cirque du Soleil knows that if it wants to hold our interest, it must astonish us. And it's to the Cirque's credit that its latest show, Koozå, accomplishes that magical feat time and time again. What makes this even more amazing is the fact that Koozå is, in many ways, one of the simplest shows Cirque has offered us in a long, long time. That's not to imply it is dull, or chintzy, or lacking in the hyper-theatricality that has made this troupe's reputation. No, the astonishing thing about Koozå is how magnificently focused it is. Cirque veteran David Shiner wrote and directed Koozå and it is obvious from start to finish that he had a strong sense of what he wanted the show to be. The title comes from the Sanskrit word that means both "box" and "treasure," and Shiner has played on both meanings of the word.  Unlike many Cirque shows in recent memory, Koozå isn't a whimsical journey into an imaginary world of elegiac clowns moving wistfully to melancholy music.

No, this is a simple case of a "circus in a box," where everything is upfront, brightly hued and clearly there for our enjoyment. If you were so inclined, you could find themes of empowerment and growth lurking underneath the surface of this fantastical entertainment, but it's probably in everyone's best interest to take things more or less at face value. You will be delighted by the rapid pace that Shiner has imposed on the proceedings and exult in the brightly hued spectacle that unfolds with never-ending bursts of colour. It's hard to single out individual acts from the array of talented artists on stage, but there are two sequences that are simply magnificent. In one, two men hurl around on the dual Wheel of Death, challenging mortality with every leap as the giant, 700-kg metal spheres spin relentlessly, tempting fate with every move. And then there's the seemingly simple act in which eight chairs are positioned to form a seven-metre-high tower in the air, on which one individual tests the limits of his strength in a precarious balancing act that constantly keeps changing. But all of Koozå isn't made up of moments of heart-stopping anxiety. There is a freewheeling vitality to the show that reminds us of the lighter side of Cirque. One delectable sequence summons up the essence of voodoo rituals, as the entire cast cavort in skeletal garb that makes each one look like the offspring of Baron Samedi.

And, as one might expect with someone like Shiner in charge, there are also inspired bits of clownish hilarity, including a pair of sequences that actually make audience participation an occasion for merriment, rather than a cause for embarrassment. Koozå has been billed as "a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil," but this is no mere exercise in revisionist history. The canny folks in charge of this worldwide franchise are smart enough to revisit the impulses that drove them more than 20 years ago, but sophisticated enough to layer on all that they learned in the decades in between. The end result is totally winning.

The above is an edited version of Richard Ouzounian's review of May 4, on the occasion of the show's premiere in Montreal. Email: rouzounian@sympatico.ca
 

He's Been There, Done That, Got The Fake Blood-Splattered T-Shirt

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Canadian Press

(August 13, 2007) It's been billed as the next Rocky Horror Picture Show – a tongue-in-cheek, laugh-out-loud stage sendup of the 1980s
Evil Dead movie trilogy that's so soaked in stage blood, rain slickers are handed out at intermission. On Saturday, no less an authority than Bruce Campbell, the star of the campy, Sam Raimi-directed zombie classics, was in Toronto to answer questions and fling fake blood at fans of Evil Dead: The Musical. "I laughed my ass off," Campbell said of the first time he saw the show. Best known for his over-the-top performance as Evil Dead's chainsaw-wielding hero Ashley J. Williams, Campbell, 49, was in Toronto to participate in two raucous question-and-answer sessions with rabid fans of both the horror films and their wildly popular off-Broadway offspring. "To be able to amalgamate all three Evil Dead movies together is a pain in the ass, I'm sure," he said in an interview. "I liked the style of it, I liked the tone of it. I think they captured that sort of devil-may-care feel to it. I think it was very cleverly done, because that kind of thing can really suck." Adapting the story into a musical that has earned rave reviews in Toronto and Montreal, as well as an off-Broadway run, would have been no easy feat, Campbell said.

Nor is it a simple matter to play the role that launched his career, said Campbell, who admitted feeling a little sorry for stage star Ryan Ward, a dead ringer for a young Campbell. "It's a hard role to play: it was hard in 1979, it was hard in 1986, and it was hard in 1991. Now the poor bastard's doing it every night," Campbell laughed. "He's not running on imitation, and I appreciate that." Evil Dead: The Musical runs until Sept. 8 in Toronto.

Caribbean Flavours Spice Up This Classic Tale

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Kamal Al-Solaylee

The Odyssey
Directed by Peter Hinton
Written by Derek Walcott
Starring Walter Borden, Allegra Fulton, Nigel Shawn Williams At the Studio Theatre in Stratford, Ont., until Sept. 28
***½

(August 10, 2007) Peter Hinton could probably recite Homer's
Odyssey by now if asked. As the artistic director of English theatre at Ottawa's National Arts Centre, he has been instrumental in bringing The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood's rewrite of the Greek epic from a female perspective - to the stage in a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company. That opened last week in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, to generally positive reviews. Over here in that other Stratford, he has just unveiled a staggeringly beautiful and politically incisive production of Derek Walcott's Caribbean-flavoured version of the ancient tale. As double whammies go, Hinton is doing very well, but he must share the glory in this instance with Walcott, who hereby makes his very belated Stratford Festival debut. First produced in 1992 (by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in fact), this version of The Odyssey, from the Nobel Prize-winning West Indian poet and playwright, has had post-colonial scholars in a tizzy ever since. No wonder. Walcott's Odyssey may follow the main structure of Homer's epic - Odysseus's 10-year journey home from Troy to Ithaca, where he has left his wife and son behind - but its ideas of geography, racial politics and cultural identity defy categorization. The setting changes from the Greek isles to the Caribbean ones, via mainland Europe, as if by magic. The language captures the formal splendour of Greek verse, but is infused with the rich rhythms and, for lack of a better expression, street cred of patois. Colonial histories, myths and archetypes travel well in a land that is neither strictly black nor purely white.  It's a heady, demanding but powerful mix. At first, the very small Studio Theatre seems an odd choice for such a sprawling epic. Hinton, however, knows that space like no other director in the land: It's where he has staged his own epic trilogy, The Swanne, from 2002 to 2004. He gives full rein to his designers' inventiveness - Carolyn M. Smith did the set and Katherine Lubienski the costumes - without turning the production into a spectacle. There are visual flourishes aplenty, but the focus is emotional, mental and political.

Anchoring the production in a narrative sense is a vocally towering performance from Jeremiah Sparks as Blind Billy Blue, a narrator who singsongs the blues away. Anchoring it in both a physical and emotional sense is Nigel Shawn Williams in a career-defining turn as Odysseus. Williams conveys Odysseus's sense of nobility, virility and entitlement, while also playing him as an outsider, a racial other and a shell-shocked fighter. He introduces the burden of race into this postcolonial epic without letting it overwhelm other narrative strands. After all, what would The Odyssey be without the usual suspects of semi-gods, sea monsters and other party animals? We meet them all, from Circe and her revellers to the Cyclops as a study in contemporary fascism, in the long, entertaining if still-rough first act.  But it's in the second act, once Odysseus has completed his journey, that Walcott and Hinton deliver the tale's explosive emotional content. The archetypes that dominated the first act give way to very human and very recognizable encounters. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus now watches his wife Penelope (a strong Allegra Fulton) doing her best to ward off 100 sexually and politically hungry suitors.  Odysseus can hide but he can't run from an old servant, gracefully played by Walter Borden, who will not be fooled by a clever disguise. A scene where the two meet after a 20-year separation is heartbreaking. Critics, myself included, have taken Hinton's recent work to task for emphasizing the visual over the emotional, but he's more than shut us up with this scene. He follows it with another one between Penelope and Odysseus that instantly reminds us of the tricky nature of this adaptation. Yes, Walcott takes up some strong positions on the folly of war, the legacy of colonization and the power of literature written by and for dead white males, but he also recognizes The Odyssey as a story of a husband and wife separated for two decades. This war epic is in essence a family tragedy. The beauty of this production is that Hinton adroitly mines Walcott's text and subtext. That he delivers what's on the author's mind and heart in one provocative package, and does it with a large multicultural cast, makes this Odyssey a culturally significant journey in its own right.

::OTHER NEWS::

Lest We Forget, Arc Remembers

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(August 13, 2007) His life story alone would make for great reading. Part of the Montreal literary circle that included Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen and Louis Dudek, award-winning poet Avi Boxer stirred things up with his forceful, almost-to-the-breaking-point writing style. His poetry reads like barbed wire and Molotov cocktails compared with Cohen's archaeological attention to detail or Layton's sparseness. It's fascinating to think of Boxer and his hard-hitting words ("I was sure she was chewing/on some rusty razorblade,/so I kept watching/waiting for the blood to come") co-existing with the works of his famous colleagues. Then there was the time Boxer left, with Layton's wife Betty Sutherland and his own wife Val, for a short-lived bohemian existence in San Francisco, according to an essay written by Boxer's son Asa. But despite being part of such a pivotal literary group, Boxer is all but forgotten, a fact that the influential, Ottawa-based
Arc Poetry Magazine hopes to remedy.

With its summer issue, Arc drops its usual format of publishing new poetry and instead devotes itself to lost and neglected Canadian poets of the past. The special issue has been attracting attention outside the usual poetry crowd, not only because of the trove of poets it uncovers, but also because of the hidden corners of the country's cultural history that it touches. "When you look at Avi Boxer's writing, it's great. It's so full of vitality," said Matthew Holmes, co-editor of the issue. "And the circle of friends that he had, Leonard Cohen and these people in Montreal at the time, it's fascinating. It's so incomprehensible that we've totally left him behind, when we revere everybody else in his circle. Just historically speaking, he adds so much to our understanding." In addition to Boxer, the magazine discovered other forgotten poets: Take Paul Potts, a B.C. native, who was a close friend of George Orwell and was embraced by Britain's literary set, where he added his abrasive, unfashionable and straightforward style to the mix. Potts lived in squalor in London and depended on the help of Orwell and other friends to survive. Yet another intriguing figure was Cheng Sait Chia, a Chinese-Canadian poet who lived on the East Coast and experimented with the same kind of sparse imagery found in the work of American poet William Carlos Williams. She might be seen as a leading light if she were read more widely. Instead, most Canadian poetry experts have never heard of her.

"She wrote quietly and privately. She didn't publish until after she died, and she was Chinese and kind of on the wrong coast to be noticed as a Chinese author," said Arc editor Anita Lahey. "She's just a find out of the blue. The poetry is so bizarrely there. And we never would have heard of this woman." The fact that Arc even found many of these poets was often a matter of chance. The editors simply sent out a call for essays about dead and forgotten greats. A number of poets eventually included in the issue were widely praised in their day, winning prizes, Governor General's awards and the Order of Canada. "When you look at [poet] Audrey Alexander Brown, she was revered," Holmes said. "Prime Minister Robert Borden sent her an inscribed book with his regards. These weren't people that were failed writers. They failed to be honoured and remembered as writers." But there's a larger issue here, Holmes added, noting an essay in the journal by writer Aislinn Hunter about Louise Morey Bowman, who was one of the earliest modernist poets publishing in Canada.

"Yes, it's about poetry and how we've forgotten some and left others behind," Holmes said. "But it's really about how we identify ourselves culturally and historically, how we trace a path that leads us to the scene where we are now. "And so [Hunter's] call is a really powerful one in the journal. It's really saying that we need to know. We need to have those collections of letters in our libraries. We need to know where the person lived. We need to know that we can go and find their journals somewhere and read about their lives. That is really important and it goes way beyond just poetry." Arc's editors also found a pattern with the forgotten poets. Some weren't writing according to fashion. Some lived abroad. Typically, there was some extra factor working against their continued memory. "We weren't choosing ethnicity and gender and sexuality," Holmes said. "We weren't trying to tick off any boxes. But that's what we started to see in front of us, that there was often something else about these writers that would maybe encourage the neglect or make it a little easier to neglect them. That included immigrants and minority Canadians. It included people that went out of Canada, ex-patriots. So people that were living in the States or the U.K. would not really get any attention back home. And it included in certain instances sexuality and other elements like that. "I wouldn't say necessarily they were the reasons these poets were neglected," Holmes added. "We just started to see a pattern. There was often a certain minority status that had these people on the periphery of the central cultural society."

But not always. Established, historic figures of the 19th century such as Thomas D'Arcy McGee and Joseph Howe, who strove to establish a Canadian literary identity, even fell into the neglected category. McGee and Howe were big players in Confederation. They were both newspapermen, as well as published poets, Holmes noted. "They had a very specific idea of what they were doing. It was very intentional. They said outright: We want to create nationality, and the way to do that is to establish literature and culture right at the centre of our government and our politics and our economy." So forget the artists and their works, and we forget ourselves. But as Holmes also said about the impetus for the special issue, "We weren't doing it to be corrective. We were doing it because we felt there is this stuff out there and it would be really interesting to get into it, let the whole issue be taken over by it."

::SPORTS NEWS::

It's Lucky No. 13 For Tiger

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Dave Perkins, Sports Columnist

(August 13, 2007) TULSA, Okla.–Woody Austin snaked in a long birdie putt and cupped an ear and urged the crowd to scream and yell and send a message back to
Tiger Woods. Woods got a message at Southern Hills Country Club, all right. He got it from yelling at himself on the 15th tee to go back to playing his game. This came after a messy three-putt bogey that had shaved his lead, once five strokes, down to one. Woods played his game the rest of the way, which means they got no closer to him and couldn't stop him from winning the 89th PGA Championship, his 13th professional major title and the 13th time he has turned a 54-hole lead into a trophy. With Canada's Stephen Ames never in the game after bogeying his first two holes on his way from second to finishing 12th, Woods overcame some shaky holes in the middle of his round to go on to a two-stroke win over Austin and three over Ernie Els. "I heard it. How could you not hear it?'' Woods said of the crowd whooping it up after the emotional Austin got on a birdie run to breathe down Woods' neck. "But I kept telling myself I had the lead. Whether he makes birdie there is fine. He has to come and get me. The whole idea is not to go back to them. And I did that at 14, but I got it right back at 15.''

That hole, he laced a 7-iron to 15 feet and drilled in the birdie putt to move two shots in front, a margin he rode to the wire with three solid pars. His final-round 69 left him at eight-under 272. Austin's 67 for 274 lifted him past Els (66 for 275). Ames shot six-over 76, making eight bogeys and two birdies, and finished at 282. The Calgarian congratulated the champion, saying, "Tiger played fantastic, did what he needed to do and had a little pressure from some other players, which was good.'' No pressure from Ames, though, That came from Woods himself. "That 14 was a little mishap there. I three-putted that one and felt like I gave all the momentum back to Ernie and Woody,'' he said. "I did some serious yelling at myself going to the 15th tee, just to get back into what I do, (to) position the golf ball, put it where I need to put it and just bear down, get it done somehow.'' Ames took himself out of the conversation early, with hooks off the first two tees that led to bogey. He hit a solid drive and rolled in a 15-foot birdie at the third to stop the bleeding, but three-putted the par-five fifth from 35 feet to fall five off the pace. He was through before bogeying the ninth for a front side of 38 to fall seven behind. On the back side, he bogeyed four in a row at one point.

Austin and Els took up the chase, the South African making three birdies in the first eight holes to get to four-under and draw within three of Woods, who responded with a 12-foot birdie confidently stroked at the seventh to move to eight-under. When he curled in a 30-footer from the back fringe for birdie at the eighth, launching a fist pump that nearly resulted in a turned ankle, he was five strokes clear. (He later said he hadn't injured himself at all, as TV talkers indicated he had.) Els made birdie with an aggressive play at the 10th, using a driver on the short hole, while Woods was bogeying the ninth, to cut the gap to three shots. Els missed an eight-footer for birdie at the 11th, but Austin moved closer with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 13th, the second of those a long bomb from the front fringe with which he whipped up the crowd. Arron Oberholser (69) and John Senden (71) shared fourth at 276 and England's Simon Dyson came out of the pack with a six-under 64 to lead a trio in sixth place at 280.

::FITNESS NEWS::

Fab Abs: 10 Best Exercises

By Jason Knapfel, eDiets Senior Editor

There are many things that men and women disagree on. When to take the garbage out. Toilet seat, up or down? Action flick or Romance? But there's one thing we all want -- a slim midsection.  While you can't wake up to a washboard stomach at the end of this week, after you finish this article, you'll be happy to know that you're doing the most effective exercises to get you to that point some day very soon!  eDiets Chief Fitness Pro Raphael Calzadilla is here to share his 10 best ab exercises to get the washboard stomach you've always dreamed about.  Follow Raphael's lead and you'll see a transformation in your tummy in just a few short weeks. The first step you need to take is changing the way you view your ab work. It's a common misconception that you are going to trim the fat in your midsection. Ab exercises aren't going to reduce the area. But they do develop the muscles. You need to improve your diet to reduce the fat.

Another common mistake many people make is doing too much, too often, Raphael says.  "One of the biggest misconceptions people have is the belief that they need to work five or six days a week to get their abs looking good. They also think they have to perform 15 sets. In reality, the muscles are like any other muscle group that needs to recover from any type of workout in order to make progress. Your ab workout shouldn't take you more than 12 minutes, three days a week."  If you don't know what you're doing, you can actually do more harm than good. Take sit-ups for example. This popular move can lead to back and neck injuries if you don’t have proper form. Sit-ups also work more of the hip area than the abdomen, Raphael points out.  There are good reasons for building strong ab muscles other than "looking hot." The core of your body is the abs and the lower back.  "All of the strength of the rest of the body stems from the core," he says. "It also helps as far as improving balance and flexibility and reducing injury. Having weak abs and a weak lower back is an invitation for injury."

In addition to working the abs, Raphael stresses the importance of healthy diet and regular cardio exercise. Before you can achieve a flat stomach, you need to reduce overall body fat.  Here the 10 most effective abdominal exercises. Raphael suggests that beginners start with the Ab Crunch and Reverse Ab Curl.

1. Bicycle Manoeuvre (studies actually prove this to be one of the most effective)

Starting Position:
  Lie on a mat with your lower back in a comfortable
· position.
  Put your hands on either side of your head by your ears.
·
  Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle.
·
Movement:
  Slowly go through a bicycle pedaling motion alternating your left
· elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.
Key Points:
  This can be a more advanced exercise. Do not perform this
· activity if it puts any strain on your lower back.
  Do not pull on
· your head and neck during this exercise.
  The lower to the ground your
· legs bicycle, the harder your abs have to work.
2. Ab Crunch
Starting Position:
  Lie on a mat on your back.
·
  Make sure that your
· lower back is relaxed against the mat during this exercise.
  Bend your
· knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle.
  Keep both feet on the
· floor.
  Place both hands behind your head.
·
Movement:
  Contracting the upper abs, raise your head and upper torso off the
· floor until your shoulders are slightly lifted.
  Slowly return to the
· starting position, stopping just short of your head touching the floor.
Key Points:
  Exhale as you contract the abs.
·
  Inhale
· while returning to the starting position.
  Keep your eyes focused on
· the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck.
  Your hands should not be
· used to lift the head or assist in the movement.
3. Reverse Ab Curl
Starting Position:
  Lie on the floor with your back relaxed and your hands on
· the floor by your hips.
  Keep the upper back pressed into the floor
· throughout the exercise.
Movement:
  Contracting your abs,
· raise your butt and gently roll your hips off the floor, stopping when you feel a full contraction of the abdominals and can no longer lift your hips.
  Slowly return to the starting position.
·
Key Points:
  Exhale while lifting your hips.
·
  Inhale while returning to
· the starting position.
4. Double Crunch
Starting Position:
  Lie on the floor face up.
·
  Bend your knees until
· your legs are at a 45-degree angle with both feet on the floor.
  Your
· back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor.
  Place both hands
· behind your head.
Movement:
  Contracting your abdominals,
· raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another.
  Slowly
· return to the starting position, stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor.
Key Points:
  Exhale while raising up.
·
  Inhale while returning to the starting position.
·
  Keep your
· eyes on the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck.
  Your hands
· should not be used to lift the head or assist in the movement.
5. Cable Kneeling Rope Crunch
Starting Position:
  On a mat, kneel in front of the cable machine with your
· body facing the machine. Hold a rope attached to the upper cable attachment keeping your elbows in toward your ears.
Movement:
 
· Contracting the oblique muscles, curl your body downward on an angle rotating your right elbow to the left knee, stopping when you have reached a full contraction of your obliques.
  Slowly return to the starting position,
· stopping just short of the weight stack touching.
  You can either
· alternate side to side or do 8-12 repetitions on one side and then repeat on the other side.
Key Points:
  Exhale as you lift the weight.
·
  Inhale while returning to the starting position.
·
6. Machine Hanging Knee Raise (should use spotter or have someone watch you)
Starting Position:
  Grasp a chinning bar with hands shoulder-width apart and
· palms facing forward. Keep your upper body motionless throughout the exercise.
Movement:
  Contracting the abdominal muscles, raise your legs
· with bent knees while gently rolling your hips under, stopping when you feel a full contraction of the abdominals and can no longer lift your hips. You may get your knees to 90 degrees or higher depending on your strength and flexibility.
  Slowly return to the starting position.
·
Key Points:
  Exhale while lifting your legs.
·
  Inhale while returning to
· the starting position.
7. Fitball Advanced Reverse Crunch (not for those with back injuries)
Starting Position:
  Lie on the ball with your upper back supported by the ball
· and hands above your head, holding onto a solid support, such as the support for a cable machine in the gym or the footboard of your bed at home.
 
· Bring your legs up until your hips and knees are each at a 90-degree angle.
Movement:
  Contracting the abdominals, curl your legs up
· toward your body.
  Slowly return to the starting position.
·
Key Points:
  Exhale while lifting your legs.
·
  Inhale while
· returning to the starting position.
  Lower your legs only as far as
· you can while maintaining control.
8. Lying Bent Knee Leg Lift (care needed for those with back injuries)
Starting Position:
  Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees
· slightly bent.
  Place your hands under your head for comfort, not
· support.
Movement:
  Contracting your lower abdominal muscles,
· draw your knees toward your chest until they form a 90-degree angle with the floor.
  Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of
· the feet touching the floor.
Key Points:
  Exhale while lifting
· your legs.
  Inhale while returning to the starting position.
·
  Your back should remain comfortably against the floor during the
· entire motion.
  Avoid this exercise if you have any back conditions.
·
  Eliminate this exercise if you experience any discomfort.
·
9. Machine Angled Leg Raise
Starting Position:
  Support your body on your elbows in a Roman Chair or by
· hanging from a chin-up bar.
Movement:
  Contracting the
· abdominals and obliques, draw your knees up on an angle so that they move toward your right elbow. Stop when you get a full contraction of the obliques and abdominals.
  Slowly return to the starting position, stopping when the
· hips are almost fully extended.
  Alternate side to side to complete
· the set.
Key Points:
  Exhale while lifting your legs.
·
  Inhale while returning to the starting position.
·
  Keep the
· upper body stationary throughout the exercise.
10. Incline Bench Leg Raises (care needed for those with back injuries)
Starting Position:
  Lie on an incline bench and stabilize your body by gripping
· the bench above your head with your legs extended out.
Movement:
  Contracting the lower abs, raise your legs up until your hips form a
· 90-degree angle.
  Slowly return to the starting position, stopping
· just short of your legs touching the bench.
Key Points:
 
· Exhale while lifting your legs.
  Inhale while returning to the
· starting position.
  Point your chin toward the ceiling to avoid using
· your upper body.
  To increase the difficulty, cross your arms over
· your chest.

::MOTIVATION::

Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - — Bill Gates: Entrepreneur, chairman of Microsoft, and philanthropist

"If you give people tools, [and they use] their natural abilities and their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected."