20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                (416) 677-5883
                langfieldent@rogers.com
                www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

August 23, 2007


As in typical Toronto fashion, fall hit us this week!  No warning, no nothing - just BAM!   

This week, check out the pictures from the Belinda Brady CD/Video release - a good night with the long-awaited return of Ms. Brady!  PHOTO GALLERY.   Also in the gallery are pics from Timbaland's afterparty at Level Nightclub.  Look for my interview with Denosh next week as well who was in town touring with Justin Timberlake


 

 

::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 23-29, 2007

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

Date

Name of Event

 

August 23

Solari, Clara Lofaro, Marinda

Solari, Clara Lofaro and Marinda perform a night of Latin Soul, Pop Indie Soul, and Neo Jazz Fusion

Show: 10pm

$6

August 24

Underground Sounds

Hosted by Lisa “Luscious” Tai, a night of spoken word poetry and house music. Open mic for all types of artists.

DJs Pablo Hernandez, Carl Allen, & Roberto Brito

Show: 9pm

Afterparty: 11pm

$5

August 25

Black Kat

DJ Black Kat

Doors: 10pm

$10

August 29

Vertigo

DJ David James (deep house deep tech garage)

Doors: 10pm

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

 

::SCOOP::

Jacksoul Singer In Coma

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Pop & Jazz Critic

(August 19, 2007)  
Haydain Neale, lead singer of the award-winning band jacksoul is in a coma, two weeks after a vehicle collided with his scooter. The 36-year-old Hamilton native's family has been tight-lipped about his condition, characterizing it as "critical but stable" in a brief statement about the Aug. 3 accident that landed him in hospital with head injuries. "That's my understanding," said Toronto Police Detective Paul Higgins of reports that Neale has not regained consciousness since the mishap. "He's still in very critical condition." Although police have said charges are likely against the 27-year-old male driver of the Honda Civic that knocked the musician off his Vespa, the proceedings are at a standstill because of Neale's condition.  "The accident is still under investigation; it is being reconstructed, (but) out of respect for the family, we have put the investigation on hold," said Higgins.

"We have witnesses, we have a clear direction, this isn't a whodunit; there's no rush to judgment. At this point, hopefully he recovers."  Neale was travelling south on Kennedy Rd. near Eglinton Ave. about 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, when a northbound car turned left into his path.  Neither alcohol, speed, mechanical failure, or intent were factors, police said. And the singer, who lives in Toronto's east end with wife Michaela and their teenage daughter, was wearing a helmet. Higgins said his family has been inundated with inquiries.  The five-member band Neale fronts is best known for the hits "Can't Stop" and "Still Believe in Love." Their latest effort, mySOUL, garnered a Juno earlier this year for R&B/Soul Recording.

 

::TOP STORIES::

65% More New FLOW 93.5 Makes You 91% More Likely To Tune In

Source:  FLOW 93.5

(August 21, 2007) FLOW 93.5 is proud to announce enhancements to the station’s programming and a name change to the
NEW FLOW 93.5.  The NEW FLOW 93.5 is a hotter, faster, more vibrant station. FLOW has always been about playing the latest and best music. Today’s most popular music is still being produced by Urban music’s best talents like Timbaland, Jay Z, and Kanye West, but the music itself has a wider appeal.  Always responsive to the demands of its listeners, the station has broadened its musical play list by playing more hit artists like Fergie, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Rihanna, Nelly Furtado and Beyonce, thereby delivering more hits in its 45 Minute Non Stop Music Flows. The NEW FLOW is a closer reflection of radio listeners’ tastes. Nine of the Billboard Hot 100 top ten can currently be heard on the NEW FLOW 93.5.

Changes to the DJ line up further enhance the sound of the NEW FLOW 93.5. A new morning show, JJ and Melanie In The Morning, is growing in popularity. Feedback on the show has been incredible with listeners connecting to their real, fun and energetic style.  “The radio landscape in Toronto has changed so much in the six years since FLOW 93.5 launched, as has the way we listen to music. We’ve always tried to be ahead of the curve and anticipate what our listeners want, then deliver it in a style they appreciate. In making these enhancements, and creating the NEW FLOW we’ve created a package that has already started to resonate among radio listeners in Toronto,” says Wayne Williams, FLOW 93.5 Program Director.

About the ad campaign:

The NEW FLOW is being launched with a bold new advertising campaign created by Toronto’s Lowe Roche. Lowe Roche acquired the business in April of this year.   Says Nicole Jolly, FLOW 93.5 VP, Operations, “people knew that FLOW played a lot of hot music, but I don’t think they realized how much of our playlist is focused on hits. We wanted to grab the attention of people who thought they knew what FLOW was all about, but didn’t. We were impressed by the talent at Lowe Roche and had admired some of the outstanding work they had done for their other clients. I really appreciate their strategic approach. I’m thrilled because the new campaign is an amazing representation of the direction in which we’ve taken the station.”  With eye-catching colourful graphics, the launch campaign focuses on the artists that are featured on the NEW FLOW. Brightly coloured graphs and flow charts feature cheeky headlines that use made up percentages to let listeners know what artists they will hear on the NEW FLOW 93.5 and the effect it will have on them. One billboard reads “43% more Nelly Furtado makes you 8% more promiscuous”.  “It was really important for us to ensure that FLOW had a distinct identity and point of view to set them apart from the competition.” says Christina Yu, Vice-President, Creative Director. “The vibrant graphics and irreverent headlines achieve this in a humorous way.”   Outdoor and interior transit launch this week. This campaign will be supported by an interactive online component, radio, print and T-shirts branded with the NEW FLOW’s graphic look.  The enhancements made seem to be the right move for FLOW. Market share is already up 27% over the same time last year.

About the NEW FLOW 93.5
FLOW 93.5 is owned and operated by Milestone Radio Inc. FLOW 93.5 has been on air since February 9th, 2001.

About Lowe Roche
Lowe Roche is a Toronto-based communications company that specializes in developing innovative 360 degree campaigns that get results. It is part of Lowe Worldwide, headquartered in London. Founded in 1991 by Geoffrey Roche, the agency was named one of Canada's top three agencies by Strategy Magazine for 2006. To date, Lowe Roche has won over 850 Canadian and International Advertising awards including Cannes, The One Show, Clios, Communication Arts, Marketing, Cassies, Bessies, ADCC and Applied Arts. Clients include: Audi Canada, Home Outfitters, Johnson & Johnson, Mackenzie Financial, Nestle Purina, Nestea, Nokia Canada, Stella Artois, Toronto Zoo, and most recently Bel Cheese.

It Was All FutureSex, With A Few LoveSounds, At The ACC

Source: By Jason Macneil -- Special to Sun Media

(Aug. 21, 2007) TORONTO - Say what you want about
Justin Timberlake, he certainly can get a lot out of two solo albums.  The former 'NSync heartthrob and now uber pop star made another trek to Toronto's Air Canada Centre last night before a sold-out crowd. And while the set itself was identical to damn near every other show he's done on his current world tour, the two-hour-plus show has plenty of eye candy to keep even the casual fan interested.  Timberlake, who recently taped two shows at New York's Madison Square Garden for an upcoming HBO special, opened the show with FutureSex/LoveSound off his 2006 sophomore effort FutureSex/LoveSounds, backed by seven musicians and nearly a dozen dancers. Looking quite dapper despite the white sneakers, Timberlake made a grand entrance as he rose from the centre of a rather impressive, multi-layered stage to the shrieks and shrills of females dominating the audience.  

Played Guitar

"How you doing tonight, Toronto?" Timberlake asked following the upbeat Like I Love You, which he initially strapped on an acoustic guitar for before raising a toast to the crowd soon thereafter. "There's something I realized about Canadians..." he said, prior to subtly but humorously tipping his elbow.  While the songs themselves often lean towards slower, dim-the-lights romance at times, Timberlake also has an ample supply of funk in some of his material. Following the Latin-laced Senorita, which the crowd ate up, the performer quickly went into the groove heavy Sexy Ladies that had Timberlake donning a "keytar" after showing off more dance steps.  Perhaps the biggest asset Timberlake had going for him was the state-of-the-art stage design. Although looking from high above like some dyslexic attempt at the symbol Prince used to go by, the sheer screens which showed video footage, the various risers around the stage and the bar counters around the perimeter on the floor gave it a distinct club feel.  Timberlake also worked the stage quite well, although the latter part of the first half was more of a slower affair with the ballad-ish Until the End Of Time, which led into What Goes Around...Comes Around, with the performer content to sit and play an upright piano.  Although the show was stifled somewhat by a roughly 20-minute intermission, the concert's first highlight was Chop Me Up, as producer Timbaland made an appearance prior to doing a DJ set during the downtime, which featured clips of Michael Jackson, Nelly Furtado and The Fray among others.

Scantily Clad Ladies

The second half again had some low points, including the rather stale medley he began with Gone. But all was soon forgiven when two scantily clad ladies did some burlesque-like dancing during Damn Girl. Fortunately Timberlake was wise not to touch any upper body area after what happened a few years ago with Janet Jackson at that football game.  Following Losing My Way, which could have initially been mistaken for some homage to Pink Floyd's Time, Timberlake began to churn out the hits with Cry Me a River and the catchy Lovestoned. However, even they paled next to the big highlight of the evening, Sexyback, which again had Timbaland coming out.  Opening for Timberlake was punk popsters Good Charlotte. The Maryland group, touring behind their latest album Good Morning Revival, played primarily new material as well as Girls and Boys and I Just Want To Live.

ole's First Songcamp Unites Pop/Urban Music Community

Source:  ole

When
ole Creative Manager Jennifer Hyland envisioned a creative haven for pop and urban music songwriters, she set a rather ambitious agenda for the first Pop Urban ole Songcamp, a five-day event, held July 30 to August 3 at Toronto's Phase One Audio.  Inviting an impressive crop of hit-makers from around the world to attend this event presented by ole and supported by, The Ontario Media Development Corporation's OMDC Music Fund and performing rights organization SOCAN (The Society Of Canadian Composers, Authors and Music Publishers), Hyland's six-point plan was to:

1. Bring together greatness in songwriting from around the world
2. Showcase Canadian pop and urban songwriting talent
3. Generate new revenue for the Canadian Pop/Urban songwriting community
4. Build a local and international infrastructure for pop/urban writers
5. Establish Toronto as a creative and cost-effective city for music creators
6. Provide an exciting annual event allowing writers to network and expand creative ideas.

"The original idea stemmed a couple of years ago when I was in A&R at Sony BMG (Music Canada) and I organized the 2005 Canadian Idol Song Camp," ole's Hyland explains.  "Staging that event and seeing how all the writers thrived, networked and enjoyed themselves, I realized that the Canadian urban music community didn't really have an infrastructure. They don't really network or talk to each other as much as they should.  "Once I came to ole and I saw the need to grow the urban music side of our catalogue -- plus the fact that we have some songwriters who really needed to network with local, U.S. and foreign writers in their genre -- I thought this was an ideal opportunity to implement the idea."  So Hyland extended an invitation not only to ole writers for "a really creative, focused week," but outside tunesmiths as well: writers signed to EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Peermusic also attended.  The ole contingent included Derek Brin (Che'Nelle, Jaheim, In Essence); Ben Dunk (Eva Avila, Melissa O'Neil); David Kopatz (Corbin Bleu, Westlife, O-Town); ole newcomer Rebecca Everett; the ole/ib Entertainment triumvirate of Dru (In Essence), Alonzo (Eva Avila, Melissa O'Neil, Rex Goudie) and recent signing Haydain Neale (Jacksoul), as well as Mad Love Music's Dr. Alex Tsisserev (Kevin Lyttle, Xiao Xiao, Tarkan).

Special guests included Shawn Desman (Keshia Chanté); Divine Brown; Rupert Gayle (Keshia Chanté, Shawn Desman, George), Jeff Dalziel (Kalan Porter, Melissa O'Neil, Prozzak); Tebey Ottoh (Big & Rich, Rex Goudie, Cory Lee); Aileen de la Cruz (Coco Lee, Satomi, Kayle); D10; Max Preece (Fat Cowboy), Boi-1da (Saukrates, Divine Brown, The Clipse, Trey Songz); Robbie Patterson (Billy Klippert, Snow); Natasha Waterman (Kalan Porter, Melissa O'Neil); and Levi (George).   The camp also provided a rare chance for such beat generators and producers as KUYA Productions , (Nelly, Ginuwine, Mase), Tone Mason Inc. (Fantasia, Busta Rhymes, Taleb Kweli) and Beat Merchant (Belly) to hook up with melody and lyric providers.  "The production guys are amazing at making beats, but they don't have a lot of opportunities in Canada to work with established songwriters, and have people write to their beats on a regular basis," notes Hyland.  Writing sessions in the eight studios began daily at noon, with the proviso that a song-per-day be created and demoed from scratch. Hyland and fellow coordinator Daniel Mekinda informed participants who they'd be teamed with each day upon their arrival at Phase One Audio.

By the end of the week, more than 35 future hits were generated by the initiative for the ole catalogue.  "I think I have some hit songs on my hands. I've networked my writers. I've helped develop some up-and-coming writers that aren't even mine. And everybody has their own separate connections and network, so we may see potential cuts come from this.   "ole got great exposure, the OMDC Music Fund got great exposure and so did SOCAN. I think it was a great initiative all around."  While some songwriters had previously attended similar camps specifically dedicated to such ventures as Canadian Idol, others were slightly apprehensive about the challenge of spontaneous collaboration.   David Kopatz admits he was a little anxious about attending his first songwriting camp.  "It's exciting and it's intimidating," admits Kopatz. "It makes you bring your game up as far as trying to come up with good stuff quickly and it's definitely motivating.  "All these writers pull you in different directions. You walk into a room and you might come in with an idea that you think you're going to go with, and then something else is happening at the time.   Others had no reservations.  "I always feel great about song camps," says Alonzo. "There's a bunch of focused, dedicated, professional people that are coming to work -- and that's what I love about it.  "Plus it gets very competitive when you have this many people. We all want to write the best song - so it does add fuel to the creative fire."  Alex Tsisserev says songwriting camps are useful not only for networking opportunities, but as a personal litmus test for your own creative process.  "Every day you're learning to collaborate in different ways. Every day you're contributing something different, sometimes as a writer, sometimes as a producer, sometimes as a lyricist. It makes you more valuable and shows you your skill set."  Co-sponsors the OMDC Music Fund and SOCAN were both pleased to be involved.

"We helped fund part of it through the OMDC Music Fund, and we were very pleased to be able to do so," says Keely Kemp, Consultant, Industry Initiatives (Music) for the OMDC Fund, designed to strengthen independent Ontario-based record companies and music publishers.   "It was a very exciting initiative."  According to SOCAN's Dan Kershaw, “ While there’s a good amount of urban music on our airwaves, the number of Canadian copyrights in that mix lags behind other genres."   "This initiative goes some distance toward correcting that.”  Mo' Jointz, whose New York City-based Relentless Management roster provided Canadian production success stories KUYA Productions, Tone Mason Inc. and Beat Merchant praised both Hyland and ole for the groundbreaking initiative.  "My hat is off to ole for putting together a camp like this that gives these talented writers, producers and vocalists a chance to work together," Jointz said.  "At the end of the day, connecting creative people together is the most genuine way to make hit records.”   Echoing the sentiment, ole Managing Partner Robert Ott says events like the ole Pop Urban Songcamp are necessary in establishing a Canadian foothold and an international presence in a globally popular medium.  “ole is very excited about this first annual ole Songcamp focused on urban and pop," he stated.  "We have amazing songwriting talent in Canada and that talent requires a network and market access to flourish."  He also applauded the efforts of Hyland and expressed his gratitude for the involvement of the event's co-sponsors.

"Jennifer Hyland has done a stellar job in founding this forum for songwriters and we thank Daniel Mekinda, all the staff at Phase One Audio, our U.S. and foreign guests, the OMDC and SOCAN for their support.”  For ole's Hyland, who is planning "a bigger and better" Year Two for the ole Pop/Urban Songcamp, the rewards came not only in the songs, but also the goodwill that was generated over the week.  "The ole Pop/Urban Songcamp proves there are ways to build on the genre in this community within Canada."  For more info, please visit the ole website at www.majorlyindie.com.

::MUSIC NEWS::

By George, We Think He May Be Getting It

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Entertainment Reporter

(August 18, 2007)  It was a nervous, shy smile, with almost a hint of a blush – not an egotistical, pseudo-playboy one.  Sitting on a couch overlooking the entertainment district,
George (Nozuka is his last name, but he only goes by his first) starts talking about risks he's recently taken and ones he's about to assume.  The buzz on his MySpace page refers to an "incident" last week at a show in Vancouver in which he took a girl onstage, sang for her and then kissed her. George had never done that before – he'd seen some of his influences, such as Usher, do it, so he thought he'd try something new to broaden his performing arsenal. "I feel with radio and TV, there's this image of me," says the down-to-earth 21-year-old Toronto singer, who seems a bit self-conscious talking about his smouldering appeal to his predominantly female fan base.  George hopes to show off his vulnerability in addition to his heartthrob status when he plays two acoustic sets of mainly mid-tempo ballads at 4 and 8 p.m. at the Drake Hotel tomorrow. He also performs at the Palazzo Nightclub on Aug. 24.

"It's hard for people to see a musician or the artist," he says. It's all part of George's growth. A year ago, he didn't have a single on the radio or a video on TV. He was waking up every morning hoping his career would take off. With No. 1 hits in Canada and a Backstreet Boy guiding him, George is now focusing on making it big outside the land of the maple leaf.  "What's the next risk? Moving away and getting out of my comfort zone is a big risk," says George about the city he's called home since he was 8.  George will be leaving the GTA for the bright lights (and smog) of L.A. in February. He spent time there learning about the business under the mentorship of BSB member Howie Dorough before his debut album, Believe. But the permanent move is meant to get the one-named artist a bigger voice south of the border.  "I want to go back to ground zero. I want to be hungry. I want to build up my name in the U.S.," says the New York-born singer, who is half Japanese.  He's had recent interest from Hilary Duff's camp to open on some of her shows, but had to turn it down to promote his album with Dorough in Tokyo, which comes out next month.

George is hoping to use his Backstreet connection to secure some gigs opening for the reunited boy/man band, sans elder statesmen Kevin Richardson. George's maturity isn't only happening with his music, as his humanitarian side is evolving after traveling to Haiti earlier this summer to film a documentary with Plan Canada about child slavery.  "Most people in the countryside are so poor that they're giving up their children to the people in the city in hopes that they have a better life," says George. "A lot of the girls and young women are becoming sex slaves. The awareness isn't there – it's socially acceptable." The documentary is scheduled to air on TV and in schools starting in October.  "George says he was overwhelmed by the experience and the raw atmosphere he saw. The devastating poverty upset him, but the pure joy of music expressed by local children showed signs of hope.  With all of these levels to George, he doesn't just want to be the guy who makes the ladies swoon.  "I'm looking to build a career," he says. "Major artists like Prince, Michael Jackson or Usher, they have an image, but over time you connect to the artist. Even with Madonna, she had an image, but the reason why she had a big career is that she didn't let her image control her art."

Angie's Stone Cold Comeback!

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 16, 2007) *Angie Stone was once called the most prolific writer in music ten years ago, but that was ten years ago.  The Columbia, SC native has been on the extreme low from a musical perspective, but she has been out and about recently to get the word in circulation regarding her new set.   Our Lee Bailey happened across Stone recently and she gave us the heads up on her upcoming Stax Records release titled "The Art of Love and War," a catchy title if we do say so ourselves.  "It's an old brand," said Stone of the revamped Stax imprint. "They approached me about doing a deal and I thought it would be an amazing union because they actually understand my music.  I think in order for something to really go well, there has to be a marriage. You can't have 13 things going on in one company.  I sat down and talked with them and let them know what my vision was." "The Art of Love and War" is a moniker that's not just there for flash.  Stone says, when it comes to her albums, there's always a method to the madness.

"Because it's a war out here and you have to have a lot of love (for music) in order to stay in it for as long as I have," said Stax Records' newest legend.   EURweb asked Stone to elaborate on the significant of this title. "I never enter into a project without a title first.  The only time that happened was when I was on J Records.  The title of my album was called 'Diary of a Soul Sister,' then Clive Davis came to me and said I had to change it because Alicia Keys had 'Diary of Alicia Keys,' so I said 'Well, I had my title first' and they said 'Well, we gotta change yours.'  So then I came up with 'Stone Love' and that title was not indicative of that album which is probably why that was my weakest selling album.  I felt the trust had been broken and I was very upset that I had to change the theme.  The album was supposed to have Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Roberta Flack and was supposed to be a diary of my life but we had to abort the concept of doing that kind of timeless piece of work.  Right after that Jill Scott came out with her duet album.  So, I'm a little tight." Sometimes success in the music industry is all about timing and it appears as though Ms. Stone missed her timing on that project.  Flash forward to 2007 and Miss Stone is now at Stax Records where, right now, at least, the spotlight is squarely on her.  Stone's move to Stax appears to be paying off. Her single with Betty Wright, "Baby," is in high rotation at urban radio. Her album "The Art of Love and War" is scheduled for release on September 18.

Toronto Gets The Beyoncé Experience

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic

(August 16, 2007) The Mighty
Beyoncé. That's how R&B singer Robin Thicke referred to the pop songstress recently. And after catching the Texas native's show at the Air Canada Centre last night, I concur. As Beyoncé's opening act, Thicke has a nightly view of the tireless wonder. He's no slouch himself having overcome a tepid 2003 debut to become Soul Brother No. 1 on the strength of an acclaimed sophomore disc of dreamy love songs. Though an adequate party starter, he could use a more inspired backdrop than his album cover and it's time to change up the black-and-white and Adidas uniform. But I digress. Back to Herself. In the 10 years since Destiny's Child released its first single, Beyoncé has become a multi-media conglomerate: solo artist, actor, product hawk, fashion designer. And that ubiquity has engendered a dismissive "Oh, not her again" attitude that credits the machinations of her manager-father.

That's a shame, because the two- hour extravaganza billed as "The Beyoncé Experience" is a testament to this 10-time Grammy winner's talent and willpower. From a cloud of smoke, the 25-year-old singer rose out of a stage floor trapdoor in a long silver gown and posed before a curtain of pyrotechnics before launching into "Crazy In Love." She twisted and stretched the tune – at one point neatly segueing into Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" with a display of vocal gymnastics that yielded the startling realization that her tinny, overpolished recordings don't do her justice. Live, with novel arrangements and a sizzling band, Beyoncé is a vocal marvel.  Her village was comprised of two drummers, three horn players, two keyboardists, two guitarists, three backup singers and 10 dancers (four of whom were the only men on stage).  There were the requisite half-dozen costume changes and a dazzling set which included stairs, chairs, and a moving walkway. With stellar sound and lighting, the whole package showcased the healthily proportioned, big-haired beauty at her finest.

The all-female band and plus-sized vocalists (reminiscent of comedian Mo' Nique) were a nod to the feminist bent that defines Beyoncé's lyrics, in conjunction with a materialistic outlook that also finds her name-dropping luxury brands like a rapper. The singer drew from both solo albums for tunes like "Baby Boy," "Ring The Alarm" and "Upgrade U," but it was the nine-song Destiny's Child medley that drew the biggest cheers from the full, but surprisingly not sold-out arena. As she shook and shimmied her way through the set in the highest of heels and with the biggest of smiles, the comparisons that came to mind were Prince (for versatility and musicianship) and Tina Turner (for sass and sheer power).  She utilizes more props than those artists, and I can't imagine either crying on cue as she did at end of "Flaws and All" (and has done throughout the tour), but what she does, she does well.

Kings, Kingston Wear Billboard Crowns

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 17, 2007) *Royalty is running rampant atop the
Billboard charts. UGK scores its best sales week ever with the No. 1 debut of their new album “Underground Kingz,” while Sean Kingston continues to lead the Hot 100 singles pack with his debut smash, “Beautiful Girls.”  “Underground Kingz,” from Jive, sold 160,000 copies last week to secure its top spot, according to Nielsen SoundScan. UGK's previous best was 2001's "Dirty Money," which opened at No. 18 with 98,000. After scoring a hit with “Shawty” featuring T-Pain, new rapper Plies’ ranks second on the Billboard 200 with his debut album, “Real Testament.” Elsewhere on the album chart, Common’s “Finding Forever" fell from No. 1 last week to No. 7 on sales of 58,000. Black-Eyed Peas singer Fergie's "The Dutchess" rose one to No. 8, perhaps fuelled by a remix of her current single “Big Girls Don’t Cry” featuring Sean Kingston.

Fergie’s original version of the single follows Kingston on the Hot 100 for a second week, while Timbaland's "The Way I Are" featuring Keri Hilson sits at No. 3. Also in the Hot 100 top 10, Rihanna's "Umbrella" featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West's "Stronger" and T-Pain's "Bartender" featuring Akon all stay put at the No. 5-7 positions, respectively. Fabolous' "Make Me Better" featuring Ne-Yo" rebounds 9-8, trading places with Hurricane Chris' "A Bay Bay." Plies' "Shawty" featuring T-Pain rounds out the top 10 with a 12-10 jump. Kingston’s second single, "Me Love," is the Hot 100's greatest digital gainer, prompting a 28-15 jump in its second week on the chart. 50 Cent enjoys the chart's top debut at No. 22 with "Ayo Technology" featuring Justin Timberlake. The track from his Sept. 11 release, "Curtis," surpasses his prior best start with "Straight to the Bank" at No. 32 in May. UGK enters at No. 74 with "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)" featuring OutKast. Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am's "I Got It From My Mama" debuts at No. 93, followed by Daughtry's "Over You" at No. 94 and Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call" at No. 99. Fantasia's "When I See U" begins an eighth week at No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, where Chaka Khan scores her highest debut since 1996 with "Angel" at No. 58. Her new album, "Funk This," is due Sept. 25 via Burgundy.

Foxy Brown Leaves Def Jam, Signs With Koch

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 16, 2007) *Foxy Brown’s management has announced that the trouble-prone rapper has left Def Jam after 13 years and inked a fresh deal with Koch Records, which has also agreed to house her label, Black Rose Entertainment. "Def Jam was really an artist situation with Foxy under Jay-Z," says Chaz Williams, Foxy's manager and CEO of Black Hand Entertainment. "She's moved onto monetarily greener pastures by signing her record label, Black Rose Entertainment to Koch.”  “She is the first artist and she wants to connect with her dancehall reggae roots,” Williams continues. “Foxy's looking to sign up-and-coming Caribbean and U.S. artists. But she's definitely the first and biggest artist on her label." Under terms of the deal, Black Rose Entertainment is obligated to drop three albums per year – the first being her own CD, “Brooklyn’s Don Diva,” on Dec. 4. Brown’s long-delayed Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam album “Black Roses” will be released through her label next year. “I have always been a symbol of independence as a female in music," said the rapper in a statement. "My brand is already established, millions of my records have already been sold, and I have a fan base already loyal. After 13 years at Def Jam, I felt it was time as a matured business women to move on and continue my brand under the roof of something I own."

Meanwhile, TMZ.com is reporting that the Ill Na Na has “channelled her inner Naomi” and smacked a neighbour with her Blackberry phone. According to police, the artist was arguing with her 25-year-old neighbour on July 30 when she struck the woman in the head with her cell phone. Police said the victim had some teeth knocked loose and suffered a swollen lip and eye as a result of Foxy’s alleged assault.  The rapper, whose real name is Inga Marchand, reportedly turned herself in to New York police Tuesday afternoon following a report filed by the victim. Brown was arraigned, released on $5,000 bail and is due back in court on Sept. 26.

Nu-Metal Stalwarts Linkin Park Are Keeping Their Fans Even As They Chase A Gentler Sound

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Pop Music Critic

(August 19, 2007)
Linkin Park sings long and loud of its own displeasure, but it remains a band very eager to please. Indeed, the peculiar triumph of the suburban-California sextet's latest album, Minutes to Midnight, is that it has engineered a move even further into the rock mainstream by a group whose mercurial rap/metal fusion was entirely mainstream to begin with, while allowing the band the luxury of proudly throwing such concepts as "experimentation" and "integrity" around during interviews. This isn't to say the band wasn't taking any risks when it emerged from 15 months in the studio this year with several new beards and a third album that values power ballads and stadium-seducing sweep and swell over the upfront, angst-ridden (if always resolutely radio-friendly) roar rendered internationally familiar by 2000's Hybrid Theory and 2003's Meteora. Messing with the sort of formula that sells 35 million records worldwide can yield unpredictable results. Still, at this point in music history, the riskier bid would have been for Linkin Park to shackle itself to the festering carcass of nu-metal – the oft-pilloried hard-rock genre with which Linkin Park is as synonymous as Limp Bizkit – rather than cozying up to the U2/Coldplay/Death Cab for Cutie crowd. Co-frontman Mike Shinoda raps on just two songs on Minutes to Midnight, while only the reasonably rampaging album opener, "Given Up," could be considered heavy metal. Singer Chester Bennington, meanwhile, holds his clenched scream largely in check and lets the more feminine side of his register burble emotively over strings and percolating drum programming.

"The next record could be a hip-hop album. Who knows?" offers Bennington from backstage at one of Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution festival-tour stops in Cleveland. "It wasn't downplayed, in that we consciously didn't put hip hop on it. We made a decision very early on that we were going to write what we were inspired to write, and melodies were what Mike and I were coming up with. The last thing Mike wants to do is rap over a song because that's what people want to hear from us. I think that would be cheapening and come across clichéd and fake and forced." Linkin Park certainly didn't rush into Minutes to Midnight. The band wrote around 150 songs for consideration for the record, democratically grading them all based upon member approval and voting out the ones they were least excited about as time went on.  Studio god Rick Rubin was brought in to act as a seventh set of ears and to co-produce the album with Shinoda, who's cultivated a stable musical sideline as a beatmaker and remixer with his hip-hop side project Fort Minor, and work behind the boards for Lupe Fiasco and Styles of Beyond. "Rick has hands-on experience in many genres we love and also in taking bands that are kind of known for one thing outside of that box," says Shinoda. "But I think the thing we realized in doing it was that kind of change can't come from an outside force.

"If your band is gonna change its sound, the meat of that change really needs to come from the band." Rubin, Shinoda says, is "generally pretty hands-off (but) hands-on at the best possible times. He'd tell us he was going to be away and, if we needed him, to call him, and our default position would be to work it out on our own. "But if we ran into a point where we had some trouble or we needed an extra, outside ear to help us make a decision, those times were the most important times." There were worries within the Linkin Park camp that the band – one of a seemingly dwindling breed of acts that actually sell millions of records in multiple territories – was on the verge of alienating its fan base. But, says Shinoda, it was the sheer size of that fan base that let the crew "basically go in the studio and do whatever we wanted" free from the intervention of its label, Warner Bros. The lads were careful enough to provide their handlers with another hit. Minutes to Midnight stormed out of the gates in May with a No. 1 debut and first-week sales of 623,000 copies, while the single "What I've Done" is, Bennington proclaims, "our biggest ever." Crowds on the Projekt Revolution tour – a 10-band road show featuring My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Him and Placebo that hits the Molson Amphitheatre on Tuesday – have also thus far been appreciative of the "ride" provided by a set list that ebbs and flows much more than it once did, he says. "We want to rock out just as much as our fans want to go to a concert and get kicked in the face. At the same time, though, we're about writing songs," shrugs Bennington, concurring with the observation that Linkin Park remains a populist entity at heart.  "I like being in a group that does hip hop and heavy, hard metal songs and pop songs. If the song is good and we can make it sincere and make it an honest song, we're gonna make that song. But we wanna make a song that people will listen to.  "As artists, we want as many people as possible to enjoy what we're creating. The way that we find we can do that is by giving people a lot of different things. And we touch a lot of different kinds of people in that way."

Master Jazz Drummer Max Roach Dead At 83

Excerpt from www.globeandmail - Larry Mcshane, Associated Press

(August 16, 2007) NEW YORK — Max Roach, a master percussionist whose rhythmic innovations and improvisations provided the dislocated beats that defined bebop jazz, has died after a long illness. He was 83. The self-taught musical prodigy died Wednesday night at an undisclosed hospital in Manhattan, said Cem Kurosman, spokesman for Blue Note Records, one of Roach's labels. No additional details were available, he said. Roach received his first musical break at age 16, filling in for three nights in 1940 when Duke Ellington's drummer fell ill. Roach's performance led him to the legendary Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where he joined luminaries Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the burgeoning bebop movement. In 1944, Roach joined Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins in one of the first bebop recording sessions. What distinguished Roach from other drummers were his fast hands and his ability to simultaneously maintain several rhythms. By layering different beats and varying the meter, Roach pushed jazz beyond the boundaries of standard 4/4 time. Roach's innovative use of cymbals for melodic lines, and tom-toms and bass drums for accents, helped elevate the percussionist from mere timekeeper to featured performer — on a par with the trumpeter and saxophonist.

“One of the grand masters of our music,” Gillespie once observed. In a 1988 New York Times essay, Wynton Marsalis wrote of Roach: “All great instrumentalists have a superior quality of sound, and his is one of the marvels of contemporary music. ... The roundness and nobility of sound on the drums and the clarity and precision of the cymbals distinguishes Max Roach as a peerless master.” Throughout the jazz upheaval of the 1940s and '50s, Roach played bebop with the Charlie Parker Quintet and cool bop with the Miles Davis Capitol Orchestra. He joined trumpeter Clifford Brown in playing hard bop, a jazz form that maintained bebop's rhythmic drive while incorporating the blues and gospel. He was survived by five children: sons Daryl and Raoul, and daughters Maxine, Ayl and Dara. Funeral arrangements were incomplete, said Kurosman.

What a $200 CD Single Sounds Like

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - David George-Cosh

(August 21, 2007) It's an argument that has plagued the music industry since the Internet began being blamed for the decline in CD sales: How much should a company charge for a song? Some would say $5 or the average cost of a CD single sounds right, while users of iTunes, the Web's largest music store, would say 99 cents is as much as they're willing to shell out for a track. And then there's the niche group of tech-savvy online pirates who say they won't buy anything with a price tag on it. They like their music absolutely free, thank you very much.  But aspiring Vancouver musician
Dan O'Connell feels that his music is worth much more than a pocketful of change. Try a few hundred dollars more.  Along with a small group of music-industry insiders in the United Kingdom, O'Connell will be releasing 100 copies of his debut single, a 12-inch vinyl record of Somewhere There's An Angel, for £100, or about $210 - quite possibly the most expensive debut single ever.  It may be high, but O'Connell, who performs under the moniker the Thurston Revival, argues that charging an extrav-agant amount for one song is more of a statement on the value of art itself.

"The industry has done a lot to foster the idea that their product is worthless and this is basically a wake-up call to say that art actually has a value, whether it's as a commodity or as an artistic piece onto itself," he said.  Relatively unknown in his native country, O'Connell decided that he would be better off making a name for himself across the pond, tirelessly performing alongside a thrift-store drum machine across Britain since he started the Thurston Revival two years ago. After being invited "out of the blue" to perform a set at the In the City Festival in Manchester last October, O'Connell found himself playing in front of a who's who of the British music industry. After the set, a handful of employees from Record of the Day, a British-based music-news subscription service, saw something special in O'Connell and knew that more people had to hear his music.  "It really was one of those times when each of us [at Record of the Day] thought that this was very special," said the company's managing director and publisher, Paul Scaife. After unsuccessfully pushing it to a radio DJ and getting a quick lesson in how the economics of the British music business aren't conducive to an independent musician, Scaife and O'Connell decided to work together to release a record that would eschew normal business practices and put a fair market value on the song.

Record of the Day even decided to launch its own label, Victorious Kiam Records, to support the release of the track. "They called me up and said, 'Look, we've come up with this idea. We want to put out a record with you and we want to sell it for £100.' "I was laughing so hard, I almost drove off the road when they told me," O'Connell said.  "That's so outrageous, it's brilliant." The song, a five-minute long piece of Nick Cave-inspired blues with a catchy pop hook, will be released in 10 different limited editions of 10, with the cover of each edition designed by a different British artist. All the copies be displayed at the record's release show on Aug. 28 at London's Sartorial Gallery.  "Some people have described it to me as a song good enough to play at your funeral," Scaife said. "It just goes to show that great music can come from anywhere." Still, the concept behind Somewhere There's An Angel has piqued the curiosity of British labels, which have begun to distribute music for free in an attempt to stay ahead of online pirates, notably giving away three million copies of Prince's latest album Planet Earth in London's Daily Mail.  "This is the first time in a long time that someone has come along with something worthwhile that isn't saying 'We have to sell cheaper.' I don't think it's a valid way to do business to sell things at 100 quid a pop, but it is being discussed in the industry in England as to what they can do with ideas like this," O'Connell said.

So far, Somewhere There's An Angel has captured the attention of British media outlets such as The Guardian, The Sunday Times and the BBC, but O'Connell insists that charging so much for one song is not the media stunt people would make it out to be.  "This isn't as much about marketing or charging so much for a single as it is a public statement ... of artistic intent. I'm not writing the soundtrack for a commercial and I don't want my music to sell mobile phones. Modern music has become so fixated on business that it's become a great detriment to the actual music," he said.  A third of all copies of the record have already been sold, and O'Connell stands to make a tiny profit if the run sells out. Not bad for an indie artist whose major accomplishment to date had been a supporting act for Canadian indie pop bad Stars on a cross-Canada tour.  But amid all the hoopla across the pond, O'Connell remains an unknown within Canada. Labels here have kicked the tires, but so far, none have decided to sign a deal with the Thurston Revival.  "It's really ironic to have to go [to England] and get interest from Canadian labels," O'Connell said. "But as of now, I don't know if I'd call it interest. Maybe warm wishes or fascination." For more information on the record and to hear what $200 sounds like, visit http://www.victoriouskiam.com.

Long Live Prince's Purple Reign

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Jian Ghomeshi

(August 17, 2007) LONDON — ‘How old is he?” The blond girl to my left is looking straight ahead, eyes trained on the priapic purple enigma. He's in a trademark salacious mood, prancing around the stage and flirting with his microphone stand, his dancers, his band and his fans. He is coaxing extraordinary sounds out of his guitar (also purple). He is in complete control. It is the second Saturday-night show of his unprecedented 21-date, sold-out run at The O2 in London. There are 20,000 punters again this night, and they've all been standing since he hit the stage. It is an historic and ambitious residency. He claims it is the final time he will play his big songs (“per4ming his greatest hits 4 the last time” is the billing). And this nearly two-month-long finale is rolling out in a global city that mirrors his remarkably diverse audience. A quick glance around the arena reminds us that he is the ultimate crossover artist, mixing R&B, soul, rock and pop fans. Hip-hop mogul P Diddy is in the front area just ahead of me, wearing his obligatory shades. Diddy is unable to contain his enthusiasm and is standing as well, albeit behind a small rope. The rope is purple.

“He's about to turn 50,” I scream back at her, pleased with myself at this quick response to a trivial pursuit and simultaneously impressed that the focus of our attention has conquered near half a century. The blond girl barely looks at me. She's now loudly singing along to Let's Go Crazy. The song is certainly older than she is, but she doesn't care.  Yes, he's 49, but it feels as though he ought to be older. He's been a star for as long as I've bought music – forever, in the ephemeral world of popular culture. Yet right now he looks ever the youthful, sexy beast, singing like an angel and dancing like the devil – blending the nobility of a veteran with the nubility of a teenager. Ageless. Whoever this diminutive mystery really is, he's performing one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Better than I've seen him in the past. He's loose and clearly having fun. It is a creative extravaganza of musicianship, improvisation, entertainment and exhilaration. It is hard to imagine him being any better. To reference his own characteristically modest lyric: “In the beginning God made the sea. But on the seventh day he made me.”

So let's introduce what may seem like a strange assertion: This is the year of
Prince. Yes, odd. Thirty years into his career and two decades removed from his most famous material, 2007 is increasingly the dominion of the artist formerly known as formerly. With stellar live reviews, major awards, positive reaction to his fine new record and more attention than he's gotten since Purple Rain, it's like the whole world is waking up to just how talented he is. Finally. While eighties megawatt counterparts The Police are on a pricey international tour that is inviting questions from a few critics about whether they are still worth the ticket price (some of the questions being posed by their own drummer), Prince is universally accepted to be at the top of his live game and has more respect than ever. To put it colloquially, Prince is kicking ass. So how did this happen? It might be argued that in recent years too many of us have forgotten Prince's musical footprint and legacy. It's been hard not to focus on his peculiar idiosyncrasies rather than his creative output. Let's see, there was the long-standing battle with his former record label that led to various bizarre name changes, culminating in an impossible-to-pronounce androgynous squiggle. Then there was the somewhat offensive spectacle of an artist signed to a $100-million (U.S.) contract with Warner glibly equating the deal with “slavery.” And finally, the hubris and cynicism of a man willing to release subpar records to burn off the obligations of a multialbum contract. Somewhere along the way, Prince lost our patience. And we collectively forgot that he produces, composes, arranges and performs almost every song on all of his albums. That besides his own multimillion-selling catalogue of hits like Kiss and When Doves Cry and Sign O' The Times, he has been responsible for writing myriad classic songs made popular by other artists: Sinead O'Connor's version of Nothing Compares 2 U; Chaka Khan's I Feel for You and The Bangles' Manic Monday.

Even now, the musical imprint of Prince and his sound can be found on numerous contemporary recordings. Ask fans of Justin Timberlake to sample any of Prince's first three records and they may discover something strangely familiar. And P Diddy could stand to throw a few royalty dollars to the man who has clearly provided inspiration. Not that Prince is unaware of any of this, or in any apparent need of affirmation. His recent return to the limelight can partly be attributed to his legendary cockiness. A 21-date stand at one of London's largest concert venues is an audacious act of self-confidence that would've scared off the most reckless of gamblers. Each concert begins with a video testimonial to Prince's career by the likes of Selma Hayek and the aforementioned Diddy. Once the show begins, he emerges from underneath a curtain and uses any spare moment to remind us of his legacy. “I got too many hits! Y'all aren't ready for me!” he repeats with playful sass throughout this night. The massive congregation is willing to take whatever he will give them – and he knows it. But the point of all of this is more than just long-deserved recognition. Prince is on a mission. He appears intent on warning all of us about the music industry and the ascendance of manufactured pop artists abusing new technology. “Real music by real musicians!” he screams throughout his O2 show.  His declaration is underscored by the presence of a brilliant backing group including former James Brown sideman Maceo Parker on saxophone. The band jams and jousts and musically jumps from genre to genre, led by its guitar-wizard conductor. It is the embodiment of everything unrealized in prefabricated modern pop. At a later point in the concert, he solemnly tells the audience, “You all got your computers and all that, you ain't ready for the real music.” He then launches into another protracted but beautifully melodic guitar solo, leaving no doubt as to what he considers real music.

He is not wrong. That is what is resonating with fans and critics around the globe. It is this authenticity that marked the beginning of the year of Prince. On the heels of winning the best-original-song award at the Golden Globes in late January for his contribution to the hit film Happy Feet, Prince was booked to play the halftime show at the Super Bowl, the annual overblown NFL showcase, in Miami in early February. Then something quite remarkable happened. In front of an estimated worldwide audience of one billion, Prince transformed what is usually an excessive and inane, pre-packaged musical intermission (notwithstanding wardrobe malfunctions) into an outstanding concert event. Appearing virtually alone onstage and entirely live, he was dazzling. He performed a moving and note-perfect rendition of his ballad Purple Rain as rain began to poetically pour down on him. Seemingly energized by adversity, he then shot through a blazing version of All Along the Watchtower as if he was channelling the spirit and fingers of Hendrix. He was confident, he was mature, he was moving, and he was doing it all without taped backing tracks. In that 15-minute performance he silenced critics and reminded the world about the power of live music and his unparalleled blend of talents as a vocalist, guitarist, writer, dancer and ageless wonder. As if to emphasize the lessons he intends to teach the music business, Prince is bringing a notable generosity to his current affairs. You might think him self-indulgent, but you cannot accuse him of being greedy. He cut a controversial deal with a national newspaper in the U.K. to deliver his new album free with the Sunday edition a few weeks back. In addition, copies of Planet Earth are handed out to each customer with a concert ticket at the O2.

The seats themselves are being sold for a face value of approximately $70 for any section in the house. Contrast this with the astronomic prices charged by Barbra Streisand or the Rolling Stones and Prince comes off as positively philanthropic. And he is treating those who attend his arena run to programs at least two hours in length and sometimes three hours or more. Free albums, cheap tickets and lengthy improvised shows are not exactly the current conventions of the music aristocracy.  But none of what Prince has been doing this year would resonate the way it has without his unassailable musicianship and spectacular live presence. He can play every instrument better than the stars in his band (as Pharrell Williams once put it), and his voice appears to have only gotten better with age. On this Saturday night, he opens with a fiery extended version of Purple Rain that most performers would save for the end of the program. It is like an inverse trajectory. He is starting his spectacle with the encore. But the show reveals a series of climaxes, each one besting the last. Less than half an hour into the concert, the band is engaged in a furiously satisfying improvisation of Play That Funky Music. Throughout, Prince shakes like Little Richard and then sings in a sultry falsetto. He tears into a lightning-speed solo like Eddie Van Halen, and then gently caresses his guitar notes into musical elegance like George Benson. He is an energetic blur through Crème and U Got the Look and Little Red Corvette. And two hours into the show, it is clear that he cannot possibly play all of his hits without playing into tomorrow. In all, it feels like a celebration of music itself. During one of his last moments of the evening, a performance of Sometimes it Snows in April from the 1986 Parade album, he sings the lyric, “All good things, they say, never last.” He pauses. There is a moment of pathos and nostalgia. Then he continues. He is on a mission. He has proven his point. It is the year of Prince. Again. Jian Ghomeshi is a writer, musician and host of the daily program Q on CBC Radio One and Sirius 137.

Canadian Opera Company's Richard Bradshaw dead at 63

Excerpt from www.globeandmail - Sandra Martin


(August 16, 2007) TORONTO —
Richard Bradshaw, the British conductor who waged what he often called "the thirty years war" to build an opera house in Toronto, died Wednesday evening of an apparent heart attack at Pearson airport after returning from a holiday with his wife in the Maritimes. He was 63. Born in Rugby, England in 1944, Mr. Bradshaw graduated from the University of London in 1965. After a career in England as a choral and opera conductor, he became resident conductor at the San Francisco Opera from 1977 to 1989 before he was hired by the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto as general director. During his tenure he developed the company's reputation and repertoire so that it consistently drew sell-out crowds. His greatest achievement was the building of the opera house, designed by architect Jack Diamond, which opened its doors to rousing applause in June 2006.

"I had moments of great anxiety," Mr. Bradshaw told the Globe in late 2006 about the challenges he faced building the new opera house. "I'd wake up in the night with a certain terror. But I don't think I ever believed it wasn't going to happen. I don't think I ever absolutely despaired because I don't think the most important thing in life to me is the opera house. The most important thing in my professional life is whatever the company is doing. That's where I'm lucky to be a conductor." He is survived by his wife Diana and his two children Jenny and James. The funeral is Tuesday Aug. 21 at 11 am St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

Rhythm Kings - Sly and Robbie

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic

(August 16, 2007) Were one to scour the planet for the ideal rhythm section,
Sly and Robbie would wind up in the running for first place.  The pair’s versatile playing and forward-thinking production style more or less cornered the market on modern Jamaican music from the late 1970s on. They brought a simultaneous toughness and unprecedented studio sheen to contemporary reggae and are inseparable from crucial ’70s and ’80s work by Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs and Culture.  They also introduced dancehall to the synthesized rumble of electronic dance music, and in recent years they’ve boldly and memorably (and sometimes rather challengingly) taken their frequent dub excursions wherever the technology they rabidly accumulate can lead them.

All of these accomplishments — not to mention their joint appearances on what some archivists peg as 50,000 or even 200,000 (!) records — haven’t led to a lessening of drummer Lowell “Sly” Dunbar and bass guitarist Robbie Shakespeare’s dogged collective work ethic in middle age.  (They would appear to have a rather relaxed, if undeniably amiable attitude toward interviews, however, if the five-day comedy of errors this writer just experienced was any indication. I did get Sly on the phone once for a few minutes on Monday night, but the din of voices and booming reggae music behind him rendered the drummer almost completely inaudible.)  Sly, 55, and Robbie, a month away from 54, turn up at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Tuesday with their Taxi Gang posse (named for their record label, Taxi), featuring legendary reggae tenor and frequent Massive Attack collaborator Horace Andy and Cherine Anderson, the “Princess of Dancehall Soul,” on the microphones.

This North American tour comes shortly after a U.K. swing with their latest young protégé, British reggae singer Bitty McLean, and work on both a new Andy disc and a Sly and Robbie record of their own to follow up last year’s Rhythm Double. Such frenetic multitasking is par for the course. If these guys have taken a break since they first forged their working partnership whilst playing together in the Revolutionaries during the mid-`70s, it hasn’t been long enough to make a dent in their output.  Dunbar and Shakespeare, critic James Hunter once wrote, “are so enormously accomplished and prolific ..... that for a while they seemed to appear on all reggae records; they were like Gérard Depardieu and French movies.”  It was this unflinching work ethic plus Sly and Robbie’s open-minded ears that first turned them into Jamaica’s indisputable go-to production team — they were the Neptunes when the Neptunes were in diapers. Those ears have also been essential to keeping them in the game this long. Sly and Robbie are no more locked into reggae as Sly Stone — who provided ardent fan Dunbar with his nickname — was locked into R&B.

They’ll work with mainstream stars Maxi Priest, Sean Paul or Bounty Killer one day and avant-gardeists Bill Laswell or Howie B. the next. For every collaboration with the likes of Tricky or Michael Franti that makes sense, they’ve done one that outwardly makes none. They toured and made a record, Aux Armes et Caetera, with Serge Gainsbourg in 1975, for instance, and worked on Bob Dylan’s curious 1983 album Infidels. They’ve worked with the Rolling Stones.  They’ve also made a jazz record with Monty Alexander. More recently, they ushered Gwen Stefani and No Doubt into the stratosphere by giving the band their hits “Hey Baby!” and “Underneath it All” and allowed Sinead O’Connor an intriguing mid-career rebirth as a credible reggae singer on 2006’s Throw Down Your Arms. The next Sly and Robbie album threatens to bring a similarly motley cast of characters together. It features a track that guests Paul McCartney, Lady Saw, Sizzla and Cherine Anderson. At once. “The song’s very interesting — not their greatest work, but surely the reggae conversation piece of the month!,” says local dub/reggae selecta Lauren “DJ Chocolate” Speers, one of the folks bringing Sly and Robbie to town next week and someone full of praise for the duo’s unapologetic, anything-goes approach to making music.  “Incidentally, they put Keith Richards into Black Uhuru’s `Shine Eye Gal,’ proving that the crossover can work both ways. The most unusual audience I’ve ever seen at a reggae show was when they were touring with Sinead O’Connor and the sold-out concert at the Kool Haus was happily inhabited by an audience comprised of one-third lesbians, one-third rastas and one third pop-music fans waiting for her to sing `Nothing Compares 2 U.’ Which she didn’t bother with.”

Chrisette Michele Presents ‘I Am’

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

(August 22, 2007) Chrisette's speaking voice is sultry, mellow, and low. At first it's kind of startling and a bit intimidating because it's the polar opposite of her sweet singing voice. And she’s the first to tell you that it’s always been that way. She said that even as a young child, she always had a very deep voice. Newcomer
Chrisette Michele is introducing a sound that is redefining the genre of her generation. The 24-year-old singer’s debut disc, “I Am,” hit record shelves this summer with a refreshing and sultry collection of songs she hopes will envelope the young and old.  “It’s a fun album, it’s a sultry album, it’s a melancholy album,” Chrisette described. “I try very hard to be everything that I am, which is why the CD is called ‘I Am’ so I didn’t want to shy away from being excited about life and how we live life, but I also didn’t want to shy away from dancing, but when the dancing is over, you say, ‘Life is not always about a dance. Life is about doing things on earth.’” The earthly things she refers to include giving attention to world issues and concerns such as major catastrophes like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

“There’s a song called ‘I Am One’ on the album. It’s a hidden track,” Chrisette said. “I chose to hide it because a lot of times we hide the things that are most beautiful inside. ‘I Am One’ challenges you to let those things out. It talks about the world and just reaching out and helping people in their need.” Her inspirational attitude and mature melodies may come as a surprise to some because of her young age, but Chrisette explained to EUR’s Lee Bailey that she’s never really surrounded herself in things Generation Y. “Culturally, around me there was definitely a lot of hip-hop and R&B, but we didn’t have a lot of hip-hop CDs,” she said. “We had a lot of instruments, and we were always busy in dance class or choir rehearsal or something. I was into alternative rock, jazz, and gospel. Hip-hop just didn’t play a major role in my upbringing. I was definitely introduced to a lot of classic music. Not so much soul and R&B, but gospel and jazz, and those influences are recognizable in my sound.” Chrisette played and sang in jazz bands and choirs and studied musical theatre and vocal jazz performance before getting her major label deal from record industry giant, Island/Def Jam CEO L.A. Reid. “I recorded a demo and sent it out to every major record label in New York City. [An executive at] Island Def Jam heard my demo and had me audition for L.A. Reid. He told me that I gave him goose bumps and he signed me that day. He is a musician so he knows music and I respect his expertise and obviously he respects mine as well,” she said.

Chrisette's speaking voice is sultry, mellow, and low. At first it's kind of startling and a bit intimidating because it's the polar opposite of her sweet singing voice. And she’s the first to tell you that it’s always been that way. She said that even as a young child, she always had a very deep voice. “My voice is one of my plights and I’m a singer!” she grumbled. “So I’m sure that makes no sense. That’s like a dancer saying she doesn’t like her feet. It’s so deep and so raspy. It’s been low and raspy my whole life. It’s definitely unique.” Just as her age may give people an impression about her music, Chrisette said, so does her voice give people an impression of her. Music fans may recognize her soulfully mature stylings on Jay-Z’s “Lost Ones” and Nas’ “Can’t Forget About You.” “I laugh a lot, I smile a lot, but once I start talking, people get scared. I never want to be pigeon-holed into any type of person just because of the voice. People hear my voice, all of a sudden I write poetry and I like coffee, but actually I like nail polish and shoes and cars – but you can’t tell that when you hear my voice.” “I Am” is pretty much as complex and diverse as Chrisette herself. The first single, “If I Had My Way” has maintained its place in the Top 10 for Urban Adult Contemporary, while the singer gets anxious to do college tours. “I Am” features production from Babyface, and guesting from the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am.

“There are a lot of upbeat songs. There are some moving songs and a lot of spice on the album. I think that it meets a few different genres,” Chrisette described. Next up - just off dates with Musiq - Chrisette takes her multi-genre style to the stage, heading out on tour for the first time solo, to promote the new disc “I Am,” and also to reveal just who she is. ““It’s what I’ve always done; now it’s at a larger calibre. It’s a really big deal and I’m extremely excited.”  For more on Chrisette Michele and her debut disc, visit www.chrisettemichele.com.

Sheryl Lee Ralph Presents: The 17th Annual Divas Simply Singing!

Source: Tom Estey, Tom Estey Publicity & Promotion, TJE6464@aol.com, www.myspace.com/tomestey

(August 22, 2007) In its 17th installment
Divas Simply Singing!, will establish itself as the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in Los Angeles.   Brain child of Actress/AIDS Activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, the evening of song and entertainment will spot light the talents of Divas of every genre.   Making a rare appearance will be Supermodel RuPaul, American Idol Finalist (06) Paris Bennett and her grandmother, Ann Nesby (Sounds of Blackness), Jenifer Lewis (Bipolar and Beyond), Grammy Award Winning vocalist Deniece Williams, (07) American Idol Finalist, Lakeisha Jones, renowned violinist Karen Briggs, High Maintenance 90210 star, Norwood Young (Pieces of a Dream), and sharing the stage once again original Dreamgirls, Jennifer Holliday, Loretta Devine and Sheryl Lee Ralph. Staged once again at the beautiful Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, Saturday, October 6, 2007, 7:30pm, Divas will unite to raise their voices and awareness about HIV/AIDS. 

This year's show will benefit Women Alive Coalition and Balm in Gilead.  Tickets can be purchased at the Wilshire Ebell Box Office or any Ticketmaster Outlet.  When asked why she still produces DIVAS Simply Singing! when AIDS seems not to be the disease it once was, Ralph stated: "In seventeen years of DIVAS, the rate of  HIV infection has never gone down or plateaued it has silently continued to rise, now targeting young people of all colors and classes   We must continue to break the silence and stigma that still  surrounds this disease."

MUSIC TIDBITS

Russian Court Acquits Music Website Owner

Excerpt from www.globeandmail - Gayle Macdonald

(August 16, 2007) A Russian court found the former boss of music download website
http://www.allofmp3.com not guilty yesterday of breaching copyright in a case considered a crucial test of Russia's commitment to fighting piracy. The allofmp3.com website, now defunct, angered Western music companies by undercutting the price of downloads in deals they said breached copyright law. Denis Kvasov, head of MediaServices which owned the site, was put on trial after entertainment companies EMI Group PLC, NBC Universal and Time Warner Inc. pressed for a prosecution. "The prosecution did not succeed in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright law," Judge Yekaterina Sharapova said.

She Just Wants To Be A Shanghai Girlfriend

Excerpt from www.globeandmail

(August 16, 2007)
Avril Lavigne, who made headlines when she recorded the chorus of her hit song Girlfriend in Mandarin for Chinese audiences, made her concert debut in that country yesterday. She performed at the Shanghai Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Centre, a 6,000-seat sports venue that has never been used for concerts. According to the Shanghai Daily, Lavigne won praise because more than 80 per cent of the tickets sold for yesterday's concert ranged in price from 200 yuan (about $28) to 400 yuan, which is cheaper than most foreign acts in the country. Lavigne told a press conference in Hong Kong earlier this year that she recorded the chorus in eight languages - French, Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin and English - but Mandarin was the toughest to master. "The hardest one was actually Mandarin. Japanese was easy, sort of. French was easy, but German was difficult," Lavigne said.  Lavigne will play Hong Kong on Saturday, and will return to Canada to perform on Canadian Idol on Sept. 11.

Jordin Sparks Signs Deal With Jive

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 20, 2007) *
Jordin Sparks, winner of the latest “American Idol,” has signed a deal with Jive Records in conjunction with 19Recordings, the label headed by the show’s creator Simon Fuller. The 17-year-old will release her debut album in November. Its first single, “Tattoo,” is scheduled to arrive at radio on Aug. 27.  "`American Idol' has truly been a life-altering experience," said Sparks, the daughter of former NFL star Phillippi Sparks in a statement. "I can't wait to share this next chapter of my story with all the fans that have supported me so far." The Glendale, Ariz. native is the youngest winner in the Fox show's six seasons. Sparks and the rest of her fellow Top Ten finalists on the current “American Idol” tour will next stop in Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena on Wednesday. The trek is scheduled to wrap Sept. 22 in Manchester, NH. In between tour dates, she's scheduled to appear on The Teen Choice Awards which airs live on FOX on Aug. 26.

Eagles To Release First Album In 28 Years

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Reuters

(August 22, 2007) LONDON – U.S. rock group the
Eagles will release Long Road Out of Eden their first full studio album for 28 years, in October, Universal Music Group said today. The top-selling band, whose hits include "Hotel California" and "Life in the Fast Lane", split in 1980 but reunited 14 years later and have toured intermittently since. Universal will distribute the new album outside North America, while in the United States the record will be released through Wal-Mart stores, warehouse retail chain Sam's Club and the band's Web site www.eaglesband.com. It will hit the shelves internationally on Oct. 29 and in the United States one day later, Universal added. The first single from the album, How Long, has already had its video and radio premiere. "It's rare to have the opportunity to be involved with a band of their stature, as they define popular music in so many ways," said Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group International. The Eagles, comprising Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, last released a studio album of new songs – The Long Road – in 1979. The band's Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 is the best-selling album in recorded music history in the United States, with sales of more than 29 million copies, according to Universal. The Eagles have sold around 120 million albums worldwide.

Jon Lucien, Jazz Singer: 65

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 21, 2007) POINCIANA, Fla.– Singer
Jon Lucien, whose deep baritone and soulful love songs made him a respected jazz artist for more than 35 years, has died, his wife said. He was 65. Lucien died Saturday from respiratory complications after surgery, his wife, Delesa, said Tuesday. Lucien, who was born in the British Virgin Islands' main island of Tortola and raised in St. Thomas, began performing in his teens. His 1970 RCA album, "I Am Now," launched a recording career that earned him a loyal following, although his hard-to-categorize style never led to breakout success. Among his songs were "Rashida," "Lady Love," "Dindi," "You Don't Need Me," "Hello Like Before," and "Sweet Control." His recordings of "Rashida" and "Lady Love" got Grammy nominations for arranger Dave Grusin in 1974 in the category of best arrangement accompanying vocalist(s). Lucien's 17-year-old daughter, Dalila, was among the 230 people killed in the crash of TWA Flight 800 off New York in July 1996. He sought solace in the studio and recorded the album "Endless is Love," which was released in 1997. In recent years, he performed live with a jazz fusion group at jazz festivals around the United States and managed his own record label, Sugar Apple Music. He is survived by his wife, two sons, an adopted daughter and a stepson.

::FILM NEWS::

Jacob Adams, 40: Screenwriter, Friend

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Michele Henry, Staff Reporter

(August 19, 2007)
Jacob Adams was remembered yesterday by more than 100 friends and relatives who crowded into a Mississauga community centre to pay tribute to a man who was always there for his family. The memorial service, organized by Grace Methodist Church, was an homage to the part-time actor and screenwriter, who appeared in several films including Blues Brothers 2000 and the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and television shows such as Babylon and Earth: Final Conflict.  Adams, 40, was found dead at the Los Angeles home of actor Ving Rhames on Aug. 3, covered in blood and dog bites. He had been hired by the Mission: Impossible co-star to care for his dogs – three mastiffs and an English bulldog – after the two became friends on the Toronto set of made-for-TV movie Kojak. Adams's brother Howard described his brother as someone with a "sixth sense," who knew to call whenever a friend was down.  While this is a time of great sadness, Howard said, it's even more difficult because of the circumstances surrounding Adam's death.

"The toughest thing for all of us is not knowing what really happened," Howard said yesterday.  Police initially said Adams was mauled to death, but an autopsy found neither the "superficial" dog bites nor a heart attack were to blame. Police have since suggested the dogs may have sensed Adams was in trouble and tried to pull him toward the house. Howard said it could be months before blood and tissue samples are analyzed for clues that might explain what happened. For Adams, whom friends nicknamed "Billy," it seemed things were just starting to turn around, Howard says. He moved to L.A. two years ago to pursue his dream of becoming a bigger star and it looked as if his efforts would bear fruit. He recently finished a screenplay called Animal 2, which will be released posthumously, his brother says. "We want people to understand that Jacob is a star to his family and friends, and we want people to remember him for the type of person that he was and for the kind things he did for others."

With files from Canadian Press

Lopez, Anthony Partner On Biopic

Excerpt from www.globeandmail - Gayle Macdonald

(August 16, 2007)
Marc Anthony tells a hilarious story about the first time he met salsa sensation Hector Lavoe, whom he portrays in the feature film El Cantante, which opens in Canadian theatres tomorrow. It was a decade ago, and Anthony's good friend, record producer Louie Vega, had invited the singer to tag along to visit his famous, though now down and out, Uncle Hector. Anthony remembers entering a dimly lit Bronx apartment, where Lavoe - a drug addict who put the proverbial nail in the coffin of his already flagging career by jumping from a ninth-floor balcony in the late eighties (but miraculously surviving) - was slumped in a chair watching TV. "When I first started, I had long, curly hair," Anthony recalls. "Lou brings me in, and says, 'Uncle Hector, this is Marc, the kid I was telling you about.' He didn't look my way. And suddenly he turns, and goes, 'Oh my god, that's the ugliest girl I've ever seen in my life!' " chuckles the singer/actor. "He was a jokester, a prankster and he kept me off balance." The anecdote was related last fall, when Anthony, his wife Jennifer Lopez and the film's director Leon Ichaso were conducting interviews to promote El Cantante at the Toronto International Film Festival. Lopez, who produced the independent film, plays Lavoe's strong-willed wife Nilda Rosado, better known as Puchi.

As a couple, Lavoe and Rosado were a lethal combination alternately pulling each other down - and propping each other up - as they battled addictions to pretty much anything they could get their hands on - booze, crack, heroin, painkillers. Lavoe died in 1993, penniless, of AIDS-related diseases. A few years later, Puchi died after she fell off a balcony trying to climb back into her locked New York apartment. Nevertheless, Lavoe left behind a musical legacy that Lopez and Anthony said compelled them to make this biopic. It's about a hugely talented but deeply troubled man who is revered through Latin America but often overlooked by music fans and critics in the rest of the world. "I was tired of people addressing him as - oh yeah, that guy who had AIDS, right? The drug addict, right? The one who jumped, right?" says Anthony who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lavoe (both were short, whippet thin, with delicate cheekbones and piercing dark eyes).

"He's a lot more than that. He's a human being. I was raised in the music business. I've been doing it 27 years. And I was tired of the nut-shelling." His wife agrees: "We had an agenda. We knew what we wanted to say. We knew what a huge responsibility this movie was to our community. "I did it because this man's story is an important part of our history," adds Lopez. By his fans, Lavoe was called "El Cantante de los Cantantes," which means the singers' singer. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico he came to New York in his teens. He eventually hooked up with the Willie Colon band as vocalist and recorded such hit songs as El Malo and Canto a Borinquen. Frustrated with Lavoe's drug problems (which had him showing up hours late for performances), Colon eventually parted ways with him. In the seventies, Lavoe formed his own band, racking up more hit singles including El Cantante and Bandolera. But his dependencies, innate insecurities and a string of tragedies (his house burned down, his mother-in-law was murdered, his son was killed accidentally playing with a gun) got the better of him. By the late eighties, Lavoe was a shell of a man and of a performer. In Puerto Rico, he jumped from a hotel balcony in 1988, leaving him barely able to walk. He died in 1993 at the age of 46.

"I remember walking into his apartment [where he lived with his sister] and seeing all his albums up on the wall," says Anthony. "But it was just the 12-inch cut-outs. I don't know what he had done with the gold records. He kept saying, 'You know I was a millionaire five times.' "He was a tragic character. A sacrificial lamb." The film's director Ichaso also met Lavoe at a nightclub many years ago in New York. In fact, he was invited to party with the couple in a back room but declined "because I wasn't sure I'd come out alive." But despite all of Lavoe's demons and flaws, Ichaso says, he was beloved by his fellow musicians. "The person they loathed was Puchi. They couldn't stand her. She'd humiliate Hector publicly. She was very bossy, hands on, controlling, and for a Latin guy that was very unusual because it's not really the way that we would allow it. But somehow - for better or worse - they became a couple and never separated.  "It's like Yoko [Ono] and John [Lennon]. Who liked Yoko? Nobody, that's the truth. But they stayed together, and maybe the more they were disliked, the more lonely and insular their world became. And they couldn't escape one another." Lopez agrees Puchi was one tough broad, but has more empathy for her. "I think together they were just not good, but that they still needed and loved each other. The other musicians didn't like her because she had a big mouth and she dropped bombs. She was always there, and she was strong enough to impose herself and not be taken advantage of, in any way. She always carried a gun, and she was the one would charge into the crack houses and drag her husband out.”

"But I admire her. Anyone who can hang in there at that level and pace for so many years ... well, that takes commitment and strength and courage." Already in theatres in the United States, the film has had mixed reviews. And there have been countless mentions of Lopez's track record of filming with former love, Ben Affleck, in the ill-fated Jersey Girl and Gigli. So far with El Cantante, the critical backlash has not been nearly as severe. And Anthony points out he signed on to do this project long before they were a couple. "When she called me five years ago, asking me to play the role, we were in totally separate worlds. She said I was the only one who could play the role, and I attached myself to it immediately." And how did their relationship turn to marriage? "Jennifer and I have been friends for many years," he explains. "I was on Broadway doing [Paul Simon's 1998 musical] The Capeman when we met. She then did a video with me. And I recorded a song [No Me Ames] with her on her album [On the 6], which became No. 1. We performed all over the world together and we were very close friends for many years, which is a good basis for marriage. So finally I called her and said, 'You know what? Let's do this. Let's get together.' " Lopez knows she took something of a risk casting the singer/actor in his first leading role, but insists he was the "perfect person." "He is a salsa singer and he knows that world like nobody else. It didn't matter that he hadn't had a leading role before. He was the right person to play the part. I knew he had the talent. I knew he could do it. And his performance in this obviously proves I was right," says Lopez, now sounding very much like Puchi, the tough-talking salsa junkie.

Canadian Movie Distributors Strike Deal

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(August 20, 2007) Less than a week after
Alliance Atlantis was divvied up, two smaller Canadian movie distributors are coming together in a deal that forms an ambitious new competitor. Toronto-based film distributor Entertainment One Ltd. (LSE:ETO), which trades on the London Stock Exchange, says its Quebec subsidiary Videoglobe 1 Inc. has agreed to buy Seville Entertainment Inc., owner of Seville Pictures Inc., for an undisclosed price. The acquisition will pull the company into the Entertainment One Filmed Entertainment division, headed by former Alliance Atlantis chief executive officer Patrice Theroux. Seville's theatrical division distributes about 30 new films each year within Canada and up to 10 internationally. It owns the rights to the highly anticipated Shake Hands with the Devil based on retired general Romeo Dallaire's book, which screens at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. "We are coming into the Toronto Film Festival with strong financial backing and an eye to buying films with our U.K., Canadian and U.S. companies," said Theroux in a release. "There is a tremendous organic growth opportunity now in Canada. We will expand Seville's operations in Toronto, add a minimum of 24 films to Seville's release slate, and will seek to acquire other filmed entertainment assets in Canada."

Seville has a back catalogue of over 500 titles including a variety of international films like Seven Swords, Run Lola Run, and several films by famed Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. The company was founded in 1999 and has built itself on the acquisition of domestic distribution rights for smaller budgeted titles, art house and foreign language films. "Entertainment One's strategy to build a global distribution business is perfectly in line with our own business plan With the weight of Entertainment One behind us, Seville is positioned to become an increasing presence in Canadian distribution, allowing us to exploit rights across Canada more aggressively," said David Reckziegel, co-president of Seville alongside John Hamilton. Entertainment One, formerly ROW Entertainment and before that Records on Wheels Ltd., is Canada's largest distributor of DVDs, CDs and video games to retailers and last year purchased Koch Entertainment, a large U.S. music and video distributor. Earlier this year it delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange after shareholders approved a takeover Marwyn Investment Management LLP, valued at $188 million including $68 million in assumed debt. The London-based private equity firm was once rumoured to be interested in scooping up Alliance Atlantis.

Ah, Hollywood, Where Men Will Be Boys

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(August 18, 2007) It was the moment Adam Sandler stuck his hand down his pants that did me in. Well into the stupefying I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Sandler stands in the bedroom of a woman he's in love with but can't have - Jessica Biel, playing his attorney - and watches in agony as she strips down to a teensy bra and panties. He can't jump her, because she thinks he's gay. He's not; he's a strapping fireman. But he's pretending to be gay to secure benefits for the children of his best friend, a widower, and she, while handling their case, has become his pal. A pal comfortable enough to insist he feel her breasts to prove they're real. I've never been a fan of Sandler's movies - I've always found them an odd blend of infantile humour and frightening rage. But he's capable of physical comedy, and at first, the agony in his eyes as Biel proffers her luscious but off-limits body is funny. The fact that he quickly has to tie his sweatshirt around his waist is funny. Yet Sandler can't stop there - that wouldn't be literal enough.  He has to jam his hand down his pants and fish around in there, fidgeting and readjusting so assiduously that he stops looking like a man wrestling with an erection, and starts looking like a toddler who has to go pee-pee.

The little boys of summer are out in force. Before Chuck and Larry, of course, there was Knocked Up, perhaps the seminal movie - in both senses of the word - of the current generation of romantic comedies that pair aged boy doofuses with women who are far more mature and responsible. Knocked Up's hero, played by Seth Rogan, is a bong-sucking, porn-addled, baby-fatted slacker living off the last few cents of the insurance money he received in a car accident.  The film's heroine, played by Katherine Heigl, is a sleek, golden goddess with a burgeoning job hosting a television show. During a sozzled one-night stand, he gets her pregnant, and she spends the whole movie alternately waiting for and nagging at him to grow up. It's not that he can't -- he just doesn't wanna. He and his stoner buds are the kind of guys who know 5,000 words for "penis," but can't bring themselves to utter the word "abortion." The Knocked Up gang has lots of company in their perpetual playpen. In The Break-Up, Wedding Crashers, Failure to Launch, About a Boy and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, man-boys with after-school-calibre jobs - played by, respectively, Vince Vaughn (the first two films), Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant and Steve Carell -- are hauled into adulthood by women mature and well-employed: Jennifer Aniston as an art dealer, Rachel McAdams as the brainy daughter of a U.S. treasury secretary, Sarah Jessica Parker as a family "interventionist," Rachel Weisz as a single mom. (The tagline for About a Boy is, literally, "Growing up has nothing to do with age."). Related films include Hot Rod, Old School, Fever Pitch, Big Daddy, Shallow Hal and School of Rock.

In them, the man-boys take smelly poos, vomit, play video games, surf Internet porn, guzzle beers, watch countless hours of TV, and masturbate. A lot. They are more childlike - more id-driven - than actual children. Yet they also manage to get those sublime women to have sex with them, and even to fall in love with them. Unlike previous generations of romantic comedies - which are beautifully explicated in David Denby's essay, A Fine Romance, in the July 23 issue of The New Yorker - in this generation, sex comes way before love. Now, I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh during some of these films, especially Knocked Up. The interplay between the male friends - which is the true emotional relationship in these films - is hilarious. The relationships the men have with women, however, depressed me. Is this really all that a postfeminist woman can expect from love: to bully a recalcitrant man-child into the house she pays for with her steady job, and pin him there long enough to have actual children with him?  I feel like I'm watching the de-evolution of our species into praying mantises, where the next step can only be that the females bite off the males' tiny heads when they're through with them. In the Aug. 17 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Rogan and his Knocked Up director, Judd Apatow, defend their place in the comedic pantheon, comparing themselves to Jack Klugman, Phil Silvers, Woody Allen, Albert Books, W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. But I grew up with those guys, too, and while I agree that men in romantic comedies don't need to be conventionally handsome to win a woman's heart, those comedians weren't petrified of being adults. Nor were the comedic leading men: Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, even Woody Allen, neurotic as he was. Can you imagine any of them readjusting their penises to get a laugh? The greatest romantic comedies, Denby asserts -- from It Happened One Night to Manhattan - rely on banter between the sexes that is "aggressive but not coarse, angry but not rancorous, silly but not shamed, melancholy but not ravaged."

Today's, of course, are the opposite. And in previous generations, the men don't run away from the women - they cavort, stumble, falter, but eventually they run toward them. Are today's women so alarming that men prefer to stay adolescent forever? It's especially poignant that Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, two giants of film directing who devoted their careers to exploring the emotional lives of adults, both died on July 30, at the peak of man-boy mania. They didn't make light romantic comedies, obviously, but they made movies for and about the full-grown, and as a young filmgoer I was fascinated, jealous, eager to grow up and enter their world.  Despite its mysteries and complications, those directors made becoming an adult look like something to aspire to rather than avoid. These boys today just look terrified to me. Why have adult moviegoers ceded all the screens to their stories - especially when it's the same story, told over and over, ever more crassly? Apatow (as producer) and Rogan (as writer and co-star) are back with a new film this week, Superbad. It, too, is about wisecracking buddies who make motions toward chasing girls, but really prefer hanging out with each other. It, too, is full of bodily humour and foul language. It, too, is funny as hell. The final scene, in which the friends separate to go off with females, even moved me.  But unlike the films above, it didn't depress me. Because the heroes aren't man-boys, they're actual boys - 18-year-olds about to separate for college. Their anxieties about women and adulthood are legitimate. And age-appropriate.

The EUR Q & A With John Singleton

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 16, 2007) *Filmmaker John Singleton has been directing films about urban culture for over almost two decades. Among his successes are "Boys In The Hood," "Poetic Justice" and "Baby Boy."  Recently he has made his producing debut with the box office success "Hustle And Flow" which garnered an Oscar win for the Three Six Mafia song "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" as well as an Oscar nomination for Terrence Howard.  Singleton returns the producers chair once again with the film "Illegal Tender" which is directed by Franc  Reyes. It stars Rick Gonzalez and Wanda DeJesus. "Illegal Tender" is the story of a young Latino man and his struggle to make it in an Ivy league college while confronting the demons of his past which includes drugs and prostitution.  The film will be released on August 24 in theatres nationwide.  We recently sat down and talked with Singleton about the film.

EUR: John, what about this film made you want to produce it?
John Singleton: I felt that there hadn't been a mainstream film that had the vast Diaspora of Latinos (in mind). They have ignored Latino movies. Black people have had pop movie after pop movie, which I have done, but they haven't had that. The ironic thing is if you look at this picture, it is in keeping with everything else that I have done; in the movie and poster you can see that they are afro-Latino. We never would have said that, but that's the way that it is; it's in keeping with what am. The director is Puerto Rican but he's a black Puerto Rican.

EUR: Is the film from your experience?
JS: No, it is from the director's experience.

EUR: How did the script come to your attention?
JS: He (the director) had an idea and said that he wanted to do it, and he presented it to me. I told him, "If you can produce a screenplay in three weeks, then I will gladly produce the project.'

EUR: Why three weeks?
JS: Because I was coming off of "Hustle and Flow" and I just wanted to get started working on another movie.

EUR: Is it easy for you to step away from directing and strictly stick to the producing side of another movie?
JS: Yes, especially when I am green-lighting the movies myself. This is the second movie that I've green lit; "Hustle and Flow" was the first. That worked out pretty well for me so I decided to do it again.

EUR: How did your producing films come about?
JS: With the experience of doing "Hustle and Flow" we couldn't get any studios to finance it, so I said I'm going to go ahead and find the money and put it up myself. That turned out pretty well, so I was looking for a similar picture deal when this film came up and Universal agreed to back it, which was cool. My company is doing several other pictures also.

EUR: Do you find that is a challenge even at this stage of your career?
JS: Very much so. Even though my films have made like a billion dollars, they have made those billions for corporations and not me. I've felt that whatever I've done people will come see, someone will come see it. I'm willing to do that and find the money and go for it; the studios will trust me with money.

EUR: Was there any concern about this movie being stereotypical?
JS: No not at all, because the lead character is a college student, who lives in Connecticut in a middle class neighbourhood. I think that you have to adjust the position of forces in order for you to have really good storytelling. It is interesting that you said that; let's take this movie out of the context, because this is something that I wanted to talk about. I get this question all of the time from journalists. I got this on "Baby Boy," on "Shaft,' on no matter what film that I do. People ask, "why do you have so much violence in the films that you do?"  Nobody who has ever asked me about that has ever complained about the successful movies that are coming out that feature men with dresses on. I applaud Tyler Perry for his independence, but when it's Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence and nobody is telling them anything bad about it or telling young boys "you know that this is just a joke" and they call those movies family movies. Most of the movies that are comedies are coon shows. But people give me beef when I make a movie dealing with the hood or whatever. When I make a hood movie, it's Shakespeare. you watch "Baby Boy," and that film is real ghetto but the way that I'm doing it, unless you had a background in literature you wouldn't know that there's Greek tragedy in there. You wouldn't know that there's a hint of Shakespeare in there, but it's just uniquely us, that's what makes it universal. I want to put you all to task and say, "hey listen, you have to understand that there is a difference between films like 'Who's Your Caddy?' and 'Talk To Me.'" "Talk To Me" was a great comedy, I'm not attacking either film because we are all in the family, and I wish them success, but I just think that it is a shame that "Who's Your Caddy?" got a thousand screens and "Talk To Me" only got 50, that movie was such a good movie. People are hungering for a great movie. "Illegal Tender" is a universal story.

EUR: What makes "Illegal Tender" a universal story?
JS: Because it is about a mother and her son and the struggles that they go through. But yet it is also a gangster movie. I am proud of that. I'm not trying to make a commercial movie; I'm trying to make a good movie with flavour and culture and heart. For black people it is a black movie because they see nothing but black people in it. For Latinos it is a Latino movie.

EUR: What are your future plans?
JS: I'm directing a film that we will begin in September titled "Tulia." It's about an attorney played by Halle Berry who works on behalf of a group of local black men who are wrongly convicted of their involvement in a drug ring. It should be completed in 2008. I am also working on a film called "Luke Cage" which is a comic book adaptation about is about a former gang member who is framed for a crime he didn't commit. In prison, he volunteers for a medical experiment that goes awry, giving him super strength and bullet-proof skin. Using his newfound powers, Luke Cage escapes and becomes a hero for hire.

Filmmaker In Iran Injured In ‘Suspect' Accident

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Alan Freeman

(August 20, 2007) OTTAWA — Friends of
Mehrnoushe Solouki, the Montreal-based documentary filmmaker arrested seven months ago in her native Iran, are worried about the safety of the 38-year-old woman after she was struck and injured by a motorcycle in what they described as a suspicious accident as she was walking on a Tehran street. “The incident is suspect. The person didn't stop and run away. It was a hit and run,” said Denis McCready, a Montreal filmmaker, who has organized an online campaign to free her. Ms. Solouki, a doctoral student at Université du Québec in Montreal who has French citizenship, was arrested in February while filming a documentary on the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. She spent a month in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin prison before being freed in March. (Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Iranian-Canadian photographer, was beaten to death at Evin prison in 2003.) Since being freed, Ms. Solouki has since managed to obtain the return of her French passport but remains barred from leaving the country. But she has yet to be charged with any crime.

“There have been no formal allegations,” said Mr. McCready, a friend of Ms. Solouki. “If she was accused of something concrete that would be tangible and she could fight her case. But there are no accusations.” Mr. McCready, who spoke with Ms. Solouki at least twice in recent days, said the accident occurred on July 29 as she was walking near her parents' home in Tehran. A motorcycle appeared out of nowhere, knocked her down and sped off. Ms. Solouki suffered an injury to her head and a deep gash on her cheek, which has had to be treated for an infection. She also has been required to wear a leg brace. “She is traumatized,” Mr. McCready said. As a result of the incident, Ms. Solouki has begun staying at different hotels rather than with her parents. She also has spent several nights in the safety of the French embassy, but French authorities are unable to provide her with political refuge because Iranian officials only recognize her as an Iranian citizen, Mr. McCready said. Without obtaining clearance to leave the country, Ms. Solouki fears arrest at the airport if she attempts to leave, and her parents could face confiscation of their house, which they used as a bond to secure their daughter's release from prison in March. French government officials are still attempting to secure permission for her to leave the country, and Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders), which defends the rights of journalists, has been campaigning on her behalf. In a similar case, Parnaz Azima, an Iranian-American journalist for Radio Free Europe, is awaiting trial on charges of spreading anti-Iranian propaganda and of working for a “counter-revolutionary” media outlet. She travelled to Iran in January to visit her ailing mother and had her passport seized. Ms. Azima is one of at least four Iranian-Americans grabbed by their native country's security apparatus. The others are Middle East expert Haleh Esfandiari, sociologist Kian Tajbakhsh and peace activist Ali Shakeri.

Seth Rogen - Success Becomes Him

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Bob Strauss

(August 16, 2007) LOS ANGELES — When we checked in with
Seth Rogen a couple of months ago, he was hoping that his movie-starring debut, Knocked Up, might sell a few tickets. Nearly $147-million (U.S.) later, he's trying to keep it all in perspective. "Career-wise, things have definitely changed," the 25-year-old comedian reports. "But my actual life has not changed all that much. I bought a house, that's nice. But I don't all of a sudden have a mink car. I like complaining about other people being a-holes. And if I'm an a-hole, I can't do that. I've realized that if I want to keep my high and mighty outlook on life, I'd better be nice." It's worked so far. No doubt because he's now a hot commodity, but also because he is such an approachable guy - better dressed and a little less chunky now than he appeared in the blockbuster pregnancy comedy, but still prone to nervous chuckling and saying "awesome" to any compliment - Rogen's new movie, the raunchy comedy Superbad, rolls into theatres this week on a wave of good will.

Based on a script Rogen and his lifelong friend Evan Goldberg wrote when they were young teens in Vancouver, Superbad follows the attempts of two sex-obsessed high-school dweebs Seth (Jonah Hill, who had a small part in Knocked Up) and Evan (Ontario's own Michael Cera of Arrested Development) to score beer and girls. Rogen, who's obviously outgrown the role that bears his name, and Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader play a pair of immature policemen who keep impeding the boys' efforts. It's taken producer Judd Apatow, who gave Rogen his Hollywood start on the TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and directed Knocked Up, years to get Superbad financed. That delay gave the writers ample time to refine their script into something that wasn't just kids saying the filthiest things. "Yeah, there were many, many, many revisions," Rogen confirms. "As we got older, we gained more insight into why we wrote what we wrote. We weren't aware, at first, that all of the dirty language was really covering up for the insecurity. That was something that we were able to look back on and say, that's the actual story." Rogen says that he urged his pal Hill to make the character Seth his own man. Or, more accurately, boy.

"I told Jonah specifically not to act like me because I was going to be in the movie, too," Rogen says. "We can't have two guys acting like me. I'm going to act like me." But not too much like him, or at least the impression we've gotten of Rogen from Knocked Up. He says the new movie's professionalism-impaired Officer Michaels shares only a certain partying instinct with Knocked Up's descriptively named Ben Stone. "I was aware that this and Knocked Up would be coming out the same summer, so there was some thought of trying to do something kind of different," he says. "I didn't want it to seem like Ben Stone becomes a cop. But other than that, I didn't have to do too much - just try not to act like the same chubby Jew." The first project Rogen is developing in the wake of this year's success, if it reaches the screen, will be a much greater change of pace: a movie version of the old radio and TV show The Green Hornet. Long-time comic-book fan Rogen insists that he'll be playing the masked crime fighter seriously, not in some kind of jokey manner, despite his well-known aversion to most forms of physical exertion. "People are acting as if I'm the first actor in the world ever to get in shape for a movie," he laughs. "Which is flattering. I'll take credit for it. I'm going to do something unheard of in Hollywood, lose weight for a movie. I know it sounds crazy and it'll probably get a lot of attention, but someone needs to be the first," he says, adding in a more serious tone: "I have no intention of making the same type of movie my whole career, and this is really our attempt to establish early that we don't want to just make pothead comedies."

Rogen admits that he's astonished that the popularity of Knocked Up has given him the chance to consider doing anything that he wants. "Really surprised. Honestly. We thought The 40-Year-Old Virgin [Apatow's first movie directing effort, which Rogen appeared in and grossed $109-million] was miraculous. Me and Judd are not used to success. We were saying that if Knocked Up made $90-million in the end, we would have been really psyched. We didn't expect to make as much as 40-Year-Old Virgin, but the fact that it's made way more is flabbergasting." What didn't come as a shock, though, was how much women seemed to enjoy watching his bungling, up-knocking efforts. Not that Rogen wants to sound like an a-hole about it or anything, but ... "I thought it would be a good date movie, actually," he explains. "Going in, we were very aware that it should have really strong female characters in it. I know that's more than most movies start with. Most movies do not start with a bunch of guys sitting around a table thinking, okay, we need to make sure this woman's a good character. Inherently, by doing that, I assumed women would like it." Ask if he's been propositioned for baby-daddy services since becoming a star, Rogen suddenly appears stricken by that old adolescent insecurity. "Someone asked me if I would knock them up," he says uneasily. "But I have a girlfriend [writer Lauren Miller]. I've lived with her for over two years, so I really don't go out any more."

It's Not Easy Being Bean

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Tony Wong, Toronto Star

(August 22, 2007) For the fourth instalment of Die Hard, Bruce Willis spent punishing hours in the gym to get in shape playing hero cop John McClane. In Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone shed major pounds to star as the boxer coming out of retirement. But no comeback sequel this summer is likely more gruelling on an actor than playing the rubbery, disaster-prone
Mr. Bean. After all, it has been 10 years since the first Mr. Bean movie – one of the most physically demanding movie roles anywhere.  At 52, Briton Rowan Atkinson must play a child-man whose spine is as squishy as Jell-O pudding. In Mr. Bean's Holiday, opening Friday, he is the summer's ultimate action hero, whether frantically racing through the French countryside on a bike to overtake a truck or playing an invading soldier in an over-the-top yogurt commercial. "I certainly wish I had done some training before going in," says Atkinson during a recent interview in Toronto. "The movie is the most physical thing I've ever done."

Atkinson actually pulled a shoulder muscle early in the shoot, but in a typically Mr. Bean kind of way. "I was rehearsing a Nazi salute," Atkinson says. "It's kind of strange explaining to your osteopath that you were practising your Nazi mannerisms a little too enthusiastically and hurt yourself." Atkinson's Mr. Bean character is so much a part of the public consciousness that you half-expect him to respond with incoherent mumbles when he first greets you inside his Toronto hotel room. But the Oxford-educated engineer is articulate and thoughtful in his responses.  Impeccably attired in a fitted pinstriped Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit and tie with a pink custom-tailored shirt, Atkinson seems nothing like the Mr. Bean character most people are familiar with.  While Mr. Bean lives for the moment, Atkinson is reflective and thoughtful. "This is a character who has grown from within me.  "It started off as this persona I seemed to acquire when I was first called on to perform a comedy sketch without words. And as soon as I was denied a means of verbal expression, I became this naive, immature, selfish person," Atkinson says.

"Why I naturally default to this child-like figure I can't explain. It's really a result of my own life experiences and what I must have felt like as a child at some point." It's surprising the sequel took this long to make, since the first movie Bean grossed around $260 million (U.S.) in 1997, making it the third highest-grossing U.K. film worldwide, next to Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill. But after doing the first film, Atkinson says he needed to give the character a rest after playing him for eight years. In the meantime, he made the James Bond spoof Johnny English in 2003. "At some point, we thought of doing a second Johnny English. And then we thought, why not a sequel to Mr. Bean?" Atkinson says. A second Mr. Bean, it turned out, would also allow Atkinson to improve on the first.  "We all slightly regretted the first film, where Mr. Bean speaks more than normal," he says. "Which is one of the reasons we came back a second time and put him in France, where speech isn't needed." But telling a story visually with a mute character can be a frustrating experience, he concedes. "I don't want ever to speak as Mr. Bean. I think he is funnier and more endearing that way. But when you're at the script stage, it would be nice to have him say things like, `I'm off to the castle' instead of going around in a weird trajectory," Atkinson says.

As for a third Bean film, Atkinson says this sequel may be his last. "I think I've given it my best shot. If I made another movie, Mr. Bean might start to look old and restrictive. I think I'm a bit old to be doing it, to be honest," he says.  "I'm very keen that he be remembered as an ageless, timeless figure."

FILM TIDBITS

Aniston Into New Movie

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Hollywood Reporter

(August 17, 2007)  HOLLYWOOD–
Jennifer Aniston is in final negotiations to star in He's Just Not That Into You, New Line Cinema's ensemble comedy being directed by Ken Kwapis. Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen are producing via their Flower Films banner. Aniston joins Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin and Barrymore. Aniston will play a woman in a long-term relationship with a boyfriend who will not commit to marriage. He's Just Not That Into You is based on the best-seller about modern-day relationships and how men and women often misconstrue the intentions of the opposite sex. The book was written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, who worked together on Sex and the City.

Jamie Foxx Going 'Solo'

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 17, 2007) *Never let it be said that
Jamie Foxx doesn't know what side his bread is buttered on.  The actor/singer/comedian is returning to the genre that won him an Oscar.  The star of "Ray" has signed on to headline the musical biopic "The Soloist" for DreamWorks. The story centers on a homeless musician with schizophrenia who dreams of playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich") adapted the screenplay, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "The Soloist" is based on a 12-part series of articles by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. The project will be directed by Joe Wright, who recently wrapped "Atonement," starring James McAvoy-Keira Knightley.

Oprah’s ‘Raisin In The Sun’ Gets An Airdate

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 20, 2007) *“Oprah Winfrey Presents” has finally set a date for its production of “
A Raisin in the Sun,” a made-for-TV adaptation of the Broadway revival that starred Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, and Sanaa Lathan.   The film will premiere Feb. 25 on ABC, the night after the network's live broadcast of the 80th Annual Academy Awards. The aforementioned stars of the play are also featured in the TV film, along with “ER” actor John Stamos. Based on Lorraine Hansberry’s play, the story centers around a family living and struggling on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s.     

Djimon Hounsou Gets ‘Push’ Into New Film

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 20, 2007) *
Djimon Hounsou will star with Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning and Camilla Belle in the supernatural thriller “Push,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The story revolves around a group of young American expatriates with telekinetic and clairvoyant abilities who hide from a U.S. government agency in Hong Kong. They must use their different talents and band together to try to escape the control of the division. The project is independently produced and will be directed by Paul McGuigan ("Lucky Number Slevin"). Hounsou was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting performance in "Blood Diamond."  The 43-year-old actor is currently in production on “Get Some,” where he plays a mixed martial arts veteran who mentors a young, rebellious teen (Sean Faris) in an underground fight club.

TIFF Helping Film Execs Network

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(August 21, 2007) It's a sad truth: Film producers and executives tend to see few films at the
Toronto International Film Festival. They're too busy doing deals and attending the industry functions announced yesterday. Most of the events exist around one common goal: networking. Take the cocktail schmooze accompanying the handing out of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association's award for film producer of the year. The whole point is to create an industry gathering point, which is vital because TIFF doesn't have an official marketplace.  But to bridge the gap between top-level executives and up-and-comers, many of the events also have a mentoring aspect. New this year are informal "Meet With..." sessions in which agents and producer reps give industry delegates insights into their specialties. There's also the Match Club, in which delegates can sign up to speak one on one to industry consultants. Other programs include Telefilm Canada's News & Views, a series of panel discussions on topics ranging from new media to marketing; Talent Lab, a series of master classes for emerging filmmakers with artists such as director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Not Smoking); and Telefilm's Pitch This! contest for filmmakers looking for funding. There's also the festival's Marketing Assistance Program, in which festival staff help guide films through the maze of marketing that goes on at TIFF. Finally, the Ontario Media Development Corporation's day-long International Financing Forum on Sept. 10 is entirely set up for agents and film financiers to network. If ever there was ever an experiment in the true value of social capital, TIFF is it.

Tupac Murder Examined In New DVD

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 22, 2007) *Eleven years after the murder of rapper
Tupac Shakur, a new DVD documentary attempts to shed new light on the events leading up to the fatal shooting and the conspiracy theories that surround the tragedy.   “Tupac: Assassination,” in stores Oct. 23, explores how the shooting happened, what may have led to it and the disconnect between those facts and what the public has been told. Secondly, Tupac’s bodyguards, who were never questioned by the police, are also interviewed in the film.  The official Web site for the documentary is www.Tupacassassination.com.  A special limited edition, pre-order “Tupac: Assassination” DVD with a bonus gift of a Tupac poster can be ordered from the Web site until Sept. 25.

 

::TV NEWS::

Christopher 'Kid' Reid's Resurgence

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 17, 2007) *When it comes to the entertainment industry, when someone says 'Whatever happened to that guy?' more often than not that is an indicator of the direction that person's career has gone ... to the point at which no one can ascertain his whereabouts.   Those that may not have been paying attention, may have relegated
Chris 'Kid' Reid into that category.  There were many people that tried to clown him because he was the backstage interviewer on 'Showtime at the Apollo', but apparently that was all apart of his master plan.  EURweb's Lee Bailey ran into Kid, minus Play, at the recent "Jazz Under the Stars" affair in Valencia, CA and asked him what's been up.  He was more than happy to give us the lowdown, but first he had to shoot a few jabs toward Lee Bailey.   "First I've been, as I do every year, working diligently on my Lee Bailey impersonation," joked the former clown prince of hip-hop.  He is still clowning these days, but not on records.

"A lot of stand-up comedy, touring around the country.  Just did the Craig Ferguson show the other night, it'll air on (August) 25th," Kid revealed to us.   We see some of you sneering, but the stand up thing has been leading Kid back to popularity faster than one might think. "Shot a talk show pilot a couple months ago for Telepictures.  You know, the people that do the Ellen (DeGeneres) show and the Tyra Banks show, to try to update the Maury/Montel kind of vibe because there's not any young guys on daytime television. And also new music. Me and my collaborators got a music video that'll probably be out by the end of this month. We're also talking about a couple things like a new Kid 'N' Play movie project and even a Kid 'N' Play reality show that might be coming out on MTV." Well, dang, it appears as though brotherman is on a slow, yet rapidly increasing, roll. He's even got some play for a recent surgery he had undertaken.  "I just recently had this eye surgery, you know that Lasik surgery?  Well, I had something even more serious than that.  I had this thing where they just implant the contact lens in your eye.  The E channel was there and the whole thing.  Right now, I'm seeing things I haven't seen in years.  Like you, Lee, you look like a young Yaphet Koto." Though the line was hysterical, Lee Bailey didn't appreciate it all that much.  At any rate, we wish Mr. Reid all due success in his endeavours.  Keep an eye out, no pun intended, for upcoming projects and perhaps even some stand-up comedy from a dude that's alright.

Hollywood Mourns Merv Griffin

Source: Associated Press

(August 19, 2007) BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Hollywood stars fondly remembered
Merv Griffin at his funeral Friday, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who credited the creator of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” with jump-starting his own acting career. Among mourners who filled the Church of the Good Shepherd were former first lady Nancy Reagan, Pat Sajak, Vanna White, Alex Trebek, Dick Van Dyke and Griffin's son, Anthony, and his family. Schwarzenegger, who attended with wife Maria Shriver, gave one of the eulogies. “I can say today I wouldn't have gone as far in my career if it wouldn't have been for Merv Griffin,” Schwarzenegger said, recalling his appearances on “The Merv Griffin Show,” which date back to 1974. “He had me on many times, and I was on his show to teach him about fitness and he would be teaching me about acting. Well, neither worked,” the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-governor said to laughter. Griffin's son followed with a mix of humour and affection: “I never knew anyone who loved life as much as my father,” he said.

Griffin, who created “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” was 82 when he died Sunday of prostate cancer. He began his career as a radio vocalist, then began to appear on TV. In 1965, Westinghouse Broadcasting began “The Merv Griffin Show” on syndicated television. Griffin was already working on developing game shows. “Jeopardy” began in 1964 and went on to become a huge hit, followed by “Wheel of Fortune” in 1975. He sold their rights to the Columbia Pictures Television Unit for $250 million, retaining a share of the profits, and went into real estate and other business ventures. He bought and refurbished the Beverly Hilton and then acquired hotel and casino operator Resorts International. Griffin was in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, where Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Natalie Wood and other Hollywood notables are interred.

TV TIDBITS

‘Everybody Hates’ Shar Jackson

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 17, 2007) *
Shar Jackson, the mother of two children by Kevin Federline, is currently filming a guest-starring role on the CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” according to People magazine. "I am having a blast," she says. "The cast is absolutely amazing."  The actress, who got her start opposite Brandy on UPN’s “Moesha,” has been cast in the role of a young mother (Alyson) whose teen daughter uses Chris's sister as a cover to sneak into an R-rated movie and visit a boy's house. Chris's mother Rochelle, played by Tichina Arnold, takes Alyson aside to confront her about being a better role model.  Choreographer and current “So You Think You Can Dance” judge Debbie Allen is directing the episode, which is scheduled to air sometime after the third season's Oct. 1 premiere.  Jackson’s last television appearance was on the ABC reality show “The Ex-Wives Club” alongside Marla Maples and Angie Everhart.

Sabra Johnson Now Knows She Can Dance

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 20, 2007) *
Sabra Johnson danced her way to victory and a $250,000 check on Thursday’s third-season finale of the Fox talent show “So You Think You Can Dance.”  The 20-year-old from Roy, Utah was one of four finalists who were left standing at the beginning of the show. However, Neil Haskell, Lacey Schwimmer and Danny Tidwell did not get enough of the 16 million votes from viewers to stick around. "I can't take the smile off my face, and it's hurting so bad," said Johnson after the show. "I'm just hoping that now it kind of puts me where I want to be with choreographers knowing me and maybe getting shows that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten, because now people have seen what I can do," Johnson said. Up next for Johnson: the 50-city “So You Think You Can Dance” tour with her fellow top 10 finalists.

K-Fed Climbs Into Role On One Tree Hill

Excerpt from www.thestar.com

(August 21, 2007) WILMINGTON, N.C. –
K-Fed is going `Tree' climbing. Kevin Federline will guest star in a series of shows in the upcoming season of the CW's One Tree Hill. The aspiring rapper will portray a cocky rock singer, said a publicist for the show. The ex Mr. Britney Spears is scheduled to begin filming later this week in Wilmington, where the series is filmed. He'll appear in a multi-episode story arc. A spokeswoman for Federline did not immediately return an after-hours message seeking comment. The Web site TMZ.com first reported that Federline would appear in One Tree Hill. This season, the show's fifth, the characters will age more than four years from last season. The show stars Chad Michael Murray as Lucas Scott and James Lafferty as his half brother, Nathan Scott. Other stars are Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Galeotti. The new season is scheduled to begin in midseason, although an exact start date hasn't been set.

Ryan Seacrest To Host Emmy Awards

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lynn Elber, Associated Press

(August 20, 2007) LOS ANGELES –
Ryan Seacrest of American Idol is hosting next month's Emmy ceremony, but viewers still won't be able to call in and pick the winners. Seacrest's appeal is expected to be a "magnet" that pulls viewers, especially younger ones, to the awards show on Fox, Dick Askin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, said Monday. The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 16. Last year's Emmys, hosted on NBC by Conan O'Brien, drew about 16.1 million viewers, the second least-watched Emmy telecast since 1991. It aired unusually early, in August, to make way for NBC's National Football League telecast. The awards ceremony rotates among the four major broadcast networks. The Emmys were to have even more of an Idol touch, with two of the talent show's executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, producing. But they withdrew from the job earlier this year, citing their demanding schedules, and veteran producer Ken Ehrlich stepped in. HBO's recently departed The Sopranos is the most-nominated series with 15 bids, while the made-for-TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has the most nominations, 17, for all programs. Cutting-edge shows such as 30 Rock dominated the comedy series category, with Ugly Betty leading the charge with 11 nominations. Fox may also be hoping that another hot new show, NBC's Heroes, proves an Emmy draw for advertiser-favoured young adult viewers.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Fantasia Adds Own Magic To The Color Purple

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

(August 21, 2007) NEW YORK–After it was announced that
Fantasia would take over the lead role in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, she recalls her co-stars as being warm, friendly and supportive. Still, she knew in the back of their minds that they had doubt about her casting. Perhaps for good reason. The former American Idol champ was taking over for LaChanze, who won a Tony for her portrayal of the downtrodden Celie, and the 23-year-old's acting experience had been limited to a saccharine TV biopic in which she played herself – not exactly the most challenging of roles. And then there was the whole celebrity factor that's permeated Broadway in recent years – putting stars such as Usher, Brooke Shields, Deborah Gibson and other assorted A- to D-listers in stagnant productions to boost box office. That made Fantasia even more determined. "I was like, `I have to go in here and do my best for them. It's not only me, but it's a whole cast who's been doing it for two years, and I have to hold the show up so that we will have a good show,'" she explains.

Since her arrival in April, she has done more than hold up the show. She's revitalized it. Fantasia has received rave reviews, boosted a box office that had started to slump and, some say, improved a successful commercial production that was lacking critically. Associated Press drama critic Michael Kuchwara said Fantasia "gives the production new heart, soul and star power." And The New York Times called her "so terrific that this earnest but mechanical musical is more effective and affecting than it was when it yawned open a year and a half ago at the Broadway Theater." "I think she's clearly given the show a new burst of energy that everyone is enjoying the benefit of," says Scott Sanders, one of the show's producers. But it hasn't come without sacrifice for Fantasia. A few hours before show time, the doe-eyed singer, clad in sweats with her hair closely cropped, lounges in her midtown apartment, looking weary – far from her usual animated, gregarious self. As she walks around gingerly, she blurts out: "This show is kicking my butt!" Part of what makes her so tired is the gruelling schedule. She performs eight times a week and is onstage almost the entire production, singing with such a fiery passion that you get exhausted just watching her. After curtain calls and on her days off, she sleeps and sleeps.

The content of the show has also drained her. "Miss Celie takes a lot of out of me," Fantasia says. "I'm being told everyday that I'm ugly ... you can't play the part if you don't kind of put yourself in her shoes and live her life. So it's like, I carry that stuff with me." The show's producers have talked her into extending her engagement by four months, until January. But she hesitated before signing: not only was she drained, but she worried about taking more time away from her recording career. (She recently had a No. 1 hit on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart with the ballad ``When I See You.") It wasn't until she had a chat with Oprah Winfrey, the show's most prominent producer (she calls her "Miss Oprah") that she began to warm to the idea of playing Celie a bit longer. "She just began to tell me how much I touched her and all the things that she felt," Fantasia recalls.

More Funny Business Afoot

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(August 16, 2007) Something funny is going on in Toronto show business these days. A trio of young producers barely in their 20s have created a show that knocked the
Fringe on its ear and are now getting ready for a commercial run starting Saturday at the Diesel Cabaret. Meet Daniel Abrahamson, Rachel Brittain and Daniel Falk, the ambitious trio who wrote and directed Funny Business, a satirical look at the corporate world today. The cherubic Abrahamson is the spokesperson for the group. Only 22, just a few years ago he was playing Harold Hill in The Music Man at Sheridan College. In many ways, he's still Harold Hill, turning on the charm to make everybody believe in what could well be an impossible project: a profitable mid-scale commercial venture in Toronto theatre. "There used to be a huge, thriving cabaret scene in this town," says Abrahamson, recalling a period long before he was born. "Why can't we have one again? We've got the big commercial shows and the little burgeoning ones, but we need something in the middle."

Ask Abrahamson why he and his colleagues are so quick to dive into the bloodbath that can be commercial theatre at such a young age, and his answer makes sense. "Look, we're all only a couple of years out of Sheridan, but we've been working steadily in the industry. On every show, we've worked with great people and people who, well, weren't so great. "We thought it would be ideal if we could assemble all the wonderful people and all get behind the same project." But couldn't they have waited just a few more years? "Look, I know we could have waited until we were 30 and paid our dues, but we wanted to do this before we got too embittered. "Because that's what happens with theatre in this country. After a few years, a lot of the good young people get bitter and just give up. We didn't want that to happen to us." For novices, they've proceeded wisely: raising money from a wide assortment of family, friends and well-wishers, then trying their show out at the Fringe (to tremendous critical and popular response). Then they took some time out to refine it and now they're hoping for a successful run. Actually, they're doing more than hoping. Realizing that they don't have money for big ads, they've been hiring out-of-work actors to dress up in business gear and pass out their flyers all over Bay Street. And as for the future? "What our company wants to do," declares Abrahamson, "is generate original Canadian shows that are commercially viable and will eventually get known around the world." Nice work if you can get it.

Funny Business plays at the Diesel Cabaret Theatre, 56 Blue Jays Way, through Oct. 7. For tickets, call 416-971-5656.

THEATRE TIDBITS

Dreamgirls Star Rose To Play Cleopatra

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Staff/Canadian Press

(August 22, 2007) Dreamgirls star Anika Noni Rose will play opposite acting legend Christopher Plummer in Caesar and Cleopatra at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival next year. Rose, 34, a classically trained actor who won a Tony award in 2004 for her role in Broadway's Caroline, or Change, starred opposite Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer Hudson in the Dreamgirls movie last year.  Toronto-born Plummer, 77, as revealed earlier in the Star, will play Julius Caesar in the play written by George Bernard Shaw. Des McAnuff, co-artistic director of the production, calls Plummer "an international treasure" and says the veteran actor gets on "like a house on fire" with Rose. Caesar and Cleopatra will mark only the third time that a Shaw play has been performed at Stratford. The playwright's works are prominently showcased at another Ontario theatre institution, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Plummer – whose film credits include The Insider and A Beautiful Mind, and who is perhaps best known for playing Capt. Georg von Trapp in the Sound of Music – has appeared at Stratford before, including turns in Barrymore in 1996 and King Lear in 2002. Other Stratford productions announced for next year include The Music Man and Cabaret.  Officials say they want to give audiences a variety of plays but still remain committed to Shakespeare works. The company is changing its name in November from the Stratford Festival of Canada to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

::OTHER NEWS::

Local Marketing Firm Serves Up Its Cocktail – The Redpoint – To Workers Every Friday

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Toronto Star

(August 19, 2007) Your company may have a mission statement or a few guiding principles. But does it have a corporate cocktail? At incentive marketing firm
I Love Rewards, they not only have a cocktail – the RedPoint – they have a place to drink it. So when the rest of Toronto's 9 to 5ers are bolting for the door on Friday evenings with a Fred Flintstone-like cry of liberation, these employees head to a room in their funky Liberty Village office to chill on a huge white leather sectional, listen to tunes, play a little Pictionary and have a cocktail. Dubbed the RedPoint Company Lounge, it's home to a weekly ritual called "First Round Fridays." As in, the first round is on the company. Is this why I Love Rewards made the list of Canada's Top 100 Employers and the Greater Toronto's Top 50 Employers? Couldn't hurt.

You'd think serving booze to a bunch of work-weary staff in their place of business would lead to Christmas office party hijinks. Not so, says CEO Razor Suleman. "I think we like to do things that are a little different," Suleman says. "We like to incorporate work and play ... we work really hard all week. First Round Friday is our little reward at the end of the week." Beside him, marketing director Jason Fisher is mixing up another pitcher of RedPoint cocktails for the staff. Laughter fills the room. The gang is clearly having a good time. So what's with all the red references? So glad you asked, Fisher says, filling my etched RedPoint glass with the crimson drink. It's all named for the cocktail born at a company retreat in Collingwood last October. There was a mixology course and various company committees were challenged to create a winning corporate cocktail. The PR committee – Zakir Hemraj, Rob Catalano, Matt Lewis-Strauch and Fisher – came up with the winning recipe.  "In order to win the event, we created a story," explains Fisher. Each ingredient has a corporate message: Sour Puss Sour Raspberry liqueur to remember the sour days without vision, Red Bull to instil energy to achieve new goals and Crown Royal to represent the crowning achievement the company is realizing. Corny? You bet. And how's the drink? Pretty vile to this civilian. But then I think Sour Puss is what they make them drink at Gitmo. And what did Crown Royal do to these folks to be subjected to a glass of Red Bull?

But to the I Love Rewards crew who are happily sipping their RedPoints on this Friday before heading out to celebrate a co-worker's birthday, it all tastes sweet indeed. "It's all part of our culture," explains PR coordinator Amy Cole. And, besides, there's beer and wine in the fridge for the next round.

The RedPoint

Fresh ice

1/4 to 1/2 oz. Sour Puss Sour Raspberry

3/4 of one 250 ml can Red Bull energy drink

1-1/2 oz Crown Royal

Add ice to a rocks glass. Add other ingredients. Stir. Makes 1 drink.

Distillery Wants To Be Artistic District

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Peter Goddard, Visual Arts Critic

(August 16, 2007) Anyone strolling through the
Distillery District any evening last week might have come upon a barrage of images fluttering across a screen suspended down much of a seven-storey Victorian brick wall. To the Fido phone folks this is all about the "Fido Spot," billed as "the largest permanent exterior projection system" in Ontario. To the Distillery District the installation is a harbinger of a series of artists' site-specific projections and light shows planned over the next year.  To me, it's about time.  The Distillery, with its endless crooks, crannies and shadow-making overhangs, is ready-made for light art and projection art. The same is true with its landmark, stubby, flat-sided smokestack. "Artists could project on any one of its sides," says Matthew Rosenblatt, a partner in district owners Cityscape Development, as we walk briskly across the cobblestones.  "The point is we could have a number of artists working in a number of different areas," he continues. "Or we could turn the entire place over to one artist."

The district already has a connection to the Sept. 29 Nuit Blanche, with 10 of its galleries and art-related business involved in the second annual all-nighter. Rosenblatt wants to create another Nuit Blanche event to include a number of the site's 40 historic buildings. And before the year's out, the area will likely be hosting a Luminato-style light installation.  Another looming partnership is with the Toronto International Film Festival, although nothing appears to be in the works for next month. If Fido's projection works out, the area would be ideal for TIFF outdoor screenings. There's even a beer garden in place facing the screening surface.  If and when the Fido Spot maximizes its potential, "we should have about 1,000 short films to work with," says Rosenblatt. Screening times will be determined at random by computer program.  Not all of the glitches have been worked out in the Fido Spot, though. The first screen used was deemed not sufficiently secure to withstand a strong wind. Using the wall bricks as a screening surface didn't work, either. The bricks, dark and richly reddish in colour, overwhelmed anything shown on them except the most vibrantly colour-saturated image. So officials are now scrambling to get a replacement screen up.  In tapping into a number of film schools across the country – so far students provide content for free – Fido has a long-term strategy involving future content providers for its system.

Partnering with the Distillery plays into the company's short-term plans. Fido, owned by Rogers, wants to fashion its own un-Rogers identity by tapping into the 20-something, upscale market interested in "art, design fashion and culture," says marketing director James Powell. "These people know where they want to go on the weekend."  Check out our slideshow on the arts scene at thestar.com/entertainment

Getting Noticed Is Half The Battle

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

(August 16, 2007) At first glance, a festival titled
Filipinos MakingWaves causes an arched eyebrow of curiosity. But to Teresa Torralba, the name couldn't be more appropriate as a metaphor for the cultural groundswell of Filipinos in the city and around the world.  The name of the festival is very applicable, says the president of the Philippine Arts and Cultural Experience, because her native archipelago country – made up of more than 7,100 islands, at least during low tide (a common Filipino joke) – is home to more than just good adobo, braised chicken, or puto, sweet steamed rice muffins. "As Filipinos, our lives surround festivals and entertainment," says Torralba. "Filipinos now are coming out of their shells, so we thought, why not, since Filipinos are making waves everywhere."  For Torralba, there's no better location for the first Filipinos Making Waves festival than on Lake Ontario at Harbourfront Centre.

One of the highlights of this weekend will be when a large group will literally make waves during a "fluvial regatta." Back in the Philippines, it's a traditional river parade to honour certain saints, normally in September. Not saints this time, just a demonstration. It will be followed by a parade on the boardwalk. Filipinos love their parades, says Torralba.  Both processions will be accompanied by melodic gongs that normally resonate along the banks of rivers bustling with onlookers. The gongs will be provided by the Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble, a Muslim group from the southern Philippines.  The pageantry of the weekend shouldn't be a surprise to any visitors since Filipinos hold many festivals throughout the year.  "We're a festival-loving people," Torralba puts it plainly. While the culture of the Philippines is usually off the radar in North America, Torralba thinks it's time the country shows off more of its vibrant traditions here. Artists from as far as Manila will perform, including jazz musician Boy Katindig and Banda Kawayan, an 18-piece bamboo orchestra from the mother country, and 20-year-old pop sensation Passion. Local musicians will be partaking in the Idol-esque talent showcase, while Retro Manila: Soundwaves from the Past will kick it old school.  For more information, visit harbourfrontcentre.com.

Jay-Z Tops Forbes.Com's List Of 'Hip-Hop Cash Kings'

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com

(August 17, 2007) NEW YORK –
Jay-Z wins all around, says Forbes.com. He's got Beyoncé on his arm – and more millions than 50 Cent and Diddy. The rap icon, a.k.a. Shawn Carter, is No. 1 on the site's list of "Hip-Hop Cash Kings," based solely on 2006 income. He banked an estimated $34 million (all figures U.S.), Forbes.com said yesterday. Jay-Z released his 11th studio album in '06, Kingdom Come, which sold around two million copies. But he earned much of his income as chief executive of New York-based Def Jam Recordings, owner of a sports bar franchise, and holder of endorsements deals with Budweiser, Hewlett-Packard and General Motors, Forbes said. In March, Jay-Z, 37, sold his Rocawear fashion label for $204 million, a sum that will place him high up in music world earnings for 2007. Other hip-hop kings include:

2. Rapper 50 Cent, a.k.a. Curtis Jackson: He earned $32 million from his music and businesses such as a record label, video games and a line of books, the survey said.

3. Diddy, a.k.a. Sean Combs: He owns the Sean John clothing label and a cologne that he licensed to Estée Lauder. He is also an MTV television producer.

4. Timbaland, real name Timothy Mosley, earned $21 million.

5. Dr. Dre: $20 million

6. Eminem: $18 million

7. Snoop Dogg: $17 million

8. Kanye West: $17 million

9. Pharrell Williams: $17 million

10. Scott Storch, a Canadian and former Roots keyboardist turned hip-hop and pop writer/ producer, also earned $17 million.

A View From The Front Lines

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner, Publishing Reporter

(August 21, 2007)
Paul Watson, the award-winning newspaper reporter who has covered almost every war-torn hell hole from Somalia in the early 1990s to post-9/11 Afghanistan, has a few questions for his former high school chum Stephen Harper. The foreign correspondent and Canadian Prime Minister haven't been in touch since attending Etobicoke's Richview Collegiate together in the 1970s. Nor has Harper sought out the opinions or insights of Watson, who has seen enough death and destruction over the years to have his own theories on why UN and NATO interventions fail to produce the intended result, no matter how noble the original intentions. "I would beg him, as a former friend and someone who has access to intelligence that I don't, to explain to me why we're putting soldiers' lives on the line and asking them to kill civilians to defend themselves when all the military people I've spoken to admit that there is no military solution in Afghanistan," said Watson, in Toronto yesterday to promote his memoir, Where War Lives. "There's a political solution and the political trail leads into Pakistan. Why are we fighting a war when our main ally in the region, Pakistan, is pursuing its own security interests against our interests? As someone with access to intelligence, I would ask him to explain this to me. And I would give him a former friend's commitment that I would keep it to myself and not put it in the newspaper because I lie awake at night trying to resolve that one fundamental problem."

The chapter in Where War Lives that touches on the somewhat unlikely teenage acquaintanceship between the pot-smoking, academically indifferent Watson and the studious, sober-minded Harper lends a humorous, leavening dimension to an otherwise dark, grim and at times even harrowing tale. Watson, a former reporter for the Toronto Star who now writes out of Jakarta, Indonesia, for the Los Angeles Times, is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1993 photo of a dead U.S. soldier, Staff Sgt. William David Cleveland, who was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by a jeering crowd after his Black Hawk helicopter was downed. As much as his coverage of the incident made Watson's career, it left him emotionally scarred to the point where he needed psychiatric help. He also sought absolution at one point by attempting, unsuccessfully, to get in touch with Cleveland's mother. "As a journalist I can do things that I couldn't as an ordinary human being," he said. "I can scream in a cop's face to let me through a roadblock, but as an ordinary human being I wouldn't have the courage. As an ordinary human being I wouldn't have gone anywhere near (the mother), but as a journalist trying to figure out my own story I was compelled to do it. And I regret doing it." A witness to some of the world's most gruesome atrocities, including the ethnic cleansing carried out in Rwanda and Kosovo, Watson casts a jaundiced eye at both the hypocritical policies of Western governments and the failings of his own profession to get out the word. The harshest criticisms, however, are often reserved for the author's unvarnished portrait of himself.

"It was the lies, as much as the killing, that drove me over the edge," said Watson. "So when it came time for me to write this, I wanted to probe as deeply as possible into my own truths. You can't understand the larger wars without understanding the conflicts within yourself. "The book includes as much of the truth as I could get on myself, good or bad. If readers say, `I don't really like that guy' – at least in the middle part of the book – then I've succeeded. "I hope they like me a little more toward the end. But I don't think I was a very good person. I don't think anyone involved in these kinds of conflicts can be good people. There are no heroes in war."

::DANCE NEWS::

Dance, Music, Theatre, Spoken Word And More All Part Of Free Evening At Historic Toronto Site

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter

(August 20, 2007) Dancer and storyteller
Lisa Pijuan-Nomura will tiptoe through the wildflowers. Inpulse Dance artists will trip the light fantastic over the railway tracks. And playwright Sean Dixon will play banjo under a bridge, when art meets nature Saturday night in Toronto's newest entertainment district at the historic Todmorden Mills site. Meanwhile, on the stage of the newly renovated Papermill Theatre, opera singers, playwrights, players, comics, musicians and a poet will perform.  Marjorie Chan, associate artistic director of Cahoots Theatre Projects, has programmed some 50 artists to light up the night at the Pottery Rd. site for Dark, a free performance festival sponsored by the City of Toronto's Live with Culture operation. "This is the first year of operation for the Papermill Theatre. In a way, Dark is a way to celebrate that opening (last October) and enjoy the space," says Chan. She emphasizes the site's accessibility – close to Broadview subway station with TTC bus service – where the Todmorden Mills Museum, the Brewery Gallery and the Don train station are located. Close by are the Brickworks, where a farmer's market is held every weekend, and revitalized natural areas for walkers and cyclists.

Todmodern Mills, with its familiar tall brick tower, dates back to 1796 when John Graves Simcoe, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, ordered the erection of a grist mill for the York colony. Later, a sawmill, brewery, distillery and, by 1827, a paper mill, were built in what became the town of York's industrial heart. Now, after decades of neglect, the site has been restored by the city as a recreational attraction. For Toronto theatre producers, the 160-seat Papermill is a place for popular shows that have ended their run in the city's small theatres. "It's a beautiful mix of modern and historic," says Chan of the space. The mill was converted into stables in the 1930s and was refurbished in the 1960s. The theatre boasts a spacious lobby, a baby grand piano and a good complement of lights, says Chan. And there's parking. "A lot of this festival for me is creating a context," Chan adds. The playwright (China Doll), director and actor commissioned Pijuan- Nomura to create a site-specific piece. "She'll be lighting up the wildflower preserve."

Pijuan-Nomura's one-woman shows, under the banner of Girl Can Create, draw on her background as a physical theatre performer, storyteller and puppeteer. Inpulse Dance – contact dancers Diana Groenendijk and Suzanne Liska – will perform Off-Track, on and off the railway tracks.  Near the train station, writer and musician Dixon (Billy Nothin', Sam's Last Dance) on claw hammer banjo will join bass player James Thomson to sing songs and ballads while sitting on an old couch like a couple of hobos.  These events in the outdoors will contrast with stage performances in the Papermill Theatre. Onkwehonwe dancer and choreographer Santee Smith will perform a new work, and spoken-word artist BellaDonna (a.k.a. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard) will stir the audiences with her outrage. Comedy comes in the form of "bawdy immigrant" Melissa D'Agostino playing Lupe Under the Latin Moon and comedy improv troupe The Wrecking Crew with Jane Luk and Gord Oxley. The Fu-Gen Asian Canadian Theatre Company is presenting The Hunting Story by David Yee. And Hyun Liya Choi will do a performance piece entitled Miss Asiana.  Claire Calnan and Weyni Mengesha of The Amy Project direct I am Her, a short multidisciplinary piece performed by young women in a mentoring project. From the Actors Repertory Company comes Luigi Pirandello's I'm Dreaming, But Am I?, a wonderful play that weaves memory and dream to recount the story of a turbulent love affair by the master of the one-act play.   Wayne Strongman of Tapestry New Opera Works will present excerpts from new opera and the five-member Korean drum ensemble Samul Nori Canada will do two traditional drum works.  And playwrights Lisa Codrington, Marcia Johnson, Elyne Quan, Mark Brownell, Mike McPhaden, Edwige Jean-Pierre and Joseph Jomo Pierre will each give a 15-minute reading from a new work. Dark runs from 7 until 11 p.m. and encompasses a wide range of Toronto talent, with emphasis on the innovative and work-in-progress. Admission is free.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Clemons Starts Own Foundation

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Rick Matsumoto, Sports Reporter

(August 22, 2007) Anna Maria Bryant was a single mother in the poverty-plagued section of Dunedin, Fla., beyond the view of the snowbirds who frequented the spring training camp of baseball's Toronto Blue Jays.  However, she would not allow the situation to detract from her responsibilities to her community or her immediate family – which included her son, Michael, and her blind great-grandmother.  That dedication and duty has been passed down from mother to her son, known to many in Toronto as Michael (Pinball) Clemons.  The Argonaut head coach and former all-star running back has been front and centre in a number of charitable causes in the Greater Toronto Area, including the team's well-known anti-violence program. But now he is establishing the Michael Pinball Clemons Foundation aimed at helping youngsters. The foundation will be launched with an evening gala on Sept. 19 at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Pavilion, Exhibition Place. Clemons said he was at first reluctant about the endeavour. "I don't like my name on things," he said. "When you are involved in charity it's not about you. Sometimes when people start foundations it's about, `I've got my own foundation.'" Clemons' initial thought was to simply link up with an existing program and lend his name, time and boundless energy.  But he changed his mind when he saw more and more young people without hope for the future.

"If you look in the eyes of some young people they just sparkle. They really feel they can conquer the world. Then you see other young people who feel they just have no hope. "Nothing hurts my spirit more than that ... it's something I want to impact. The vision (of the foundation) is to see hope in the eyes of every child." Clemons said he feels a responsibility to his community and the country, which has now become home for his wife, Diane, and their three young daughters Raven, 10, Rylie, 4, and Rachel, 13.  "As part of being a citizen of Canada this country has afforded me certain privileges – not rights, but privileges – and with those privileges come responsibility," he said.  The need to care was instilled in him by simply observing his own mother, who lost her mother at age 5 and was raised by her great-grandmother. "She not only raised me, but looked after her great-grandmother," said Clemons. "But as a single parent she didn't have someone else's father drive me to my football practice or baseball, soccer, basketball and whatever else I was doing. Or for that matter pick me up at school. "But she didn't have that sense for only her own. While she took care of me and my great-great grandmother ... she didn't lose any steam in the community. "She was absolutely tireless."  As, it seems, is her son.

Crosby Launches Clothing Line

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Rosie Dimanno, Columnist

(August 22, 2007) Some day, Sidney Crosby might very well have his own eponymous fragrance, the celebrity cachet/sachet of a self-titled cologne. We're thinking, Sidney's Sin or Kid Obsession. So everybody can smell like a hockey player, funk in a bottle. Marketing possibilities are endless for the just-turned-20 phenom, brightest étoile in the NHL firmament, and endorsement agent's dream stud. For now, though, the modest young fellow – who blushed furiously with a nubile model on each arm yesterday – will settle for a pair of pants. And some Ts, some hoodies, some hats. The obligatory sports shoe, of course, because what's an athletic star without his own line of overpriced sneakers? Crosby, his contract with the Penguins recently renegotiated via a five-year extension rounding out at a tidy $43.5 million (U.S.), hardly needs the money from extracurricular merchandise branding. But it's the done thing and Crosby is game.

Enter the hockey dude as fashionista. "A lot of companies, maybe they wouldn't respect the opinion of a hockey player for a clothing line. But they've been really interested and it was a lot of fun.'' Looked hugely self-conscious, though, as the collaboration with Reebok and Sport Chek was unveiled at a Mississauga store with a truncated runway display and TV commercials on the loop, while salesgirls fussed about in their snug "I (heart) Crosby" tops. Inside a dressing room, facing a phalanx of sports scribes, Crosby was all poise, groomed to the role since childhood. But this was an alien environment, puzzlement and bemusement on both sides of the Q and A, Crosby fielding inquiries about fabric and tailoring, a little stumped when asked what he was hoping to convey in the retail package, fall line, codenamed "Rbk SC87.'' Casual and simple, he suggested, a seamless transition from trainer's room to street. It's not entirely virgin territory because Crosby has been shilling Reebok product for a couple of years. This, however, is his first venture beyond strictly sports equipment. "Obviously, I'm not going to change profession,'' Crosby chuckled of his quasi-designer turn and diversifying endorsement portfolio. "But it's a change of pace from the hockey talk.''

Planning the line began during the season and continued into summer as Crosby otherwise concentrated on mending that broken foot, an injury disclosed only after the Penguins were lickety-split eliminated in the playoffs. "We'd go over designs. It was funny because I was getting these prints and designs sent to me at home. I'd be with my parents and we'd be discussing what's in style, what's out of style.'' Sitting around the dinner table looking at sketches, considering fads. "It was the last thing I'd imagine myself doing. But we had fun with it, talking about colors.'' Crosby cracked up, just recalling those sessions. But he's no naïf, hip to the vagaries and blessings of fame, aware of his own branding prowess, head-to-toe Reebok configured for this appearance. It's been an eventful summer in other ways, what with the Hart Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy and voted most outstanding player by his NHL brethren, well on his way to demolishing league records just two seasons out of the chute, putatively the Wayne Gretzky of his generation. And being named the Pittsburgh captain, that's way special, best part, he said. "You always dream of one day playing in the NHL and hoisting that Cup. Everyone knows the captain is the one who gets the first opportunity to do that. To be given this responsibility is a huge honour.'' He talks like that, half the kid and half The Kid. A fine boy and clothes don't make the man.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Lacroix Earns Bronze Against World's Best

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(August 22, 2007) CHIBA, Japan – Audrey Lacroix of Pont-Rouge, Que., won a bronze medal in the women's 200-metre butterfly at the International Swim Meet 2007 on Wednesday. The race featured five of the top six racers in the world. World No. 1 Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland won the gold medal in two minutes 06.15 seconds. World champion Jessica Schipper of Australia was second in 2:06.68 and Lacroix third in 2:06.93. The time was just off the Canadian record Lacroix set in a gold medal performance earlier this month at the World University Games in Bangkok. "I really wanted to capitalize on this opportunity to measure myself against those big names," she said. "I was really happy with what I accomplished. I had enough of a break between the Games and this event to be fully prepared for this race." Competition continues through to Friday.

Shooting Coach Leaves Raptors For Washington

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Doug Smith, Sports Reporter

(August 22, 2007) The Raptors are minus a staff member. Dave Hopla, who joined the team as a basketball development consultant last season, is leaving to become an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards, NBA sources told The Star. Widely known as one of the better shooting coaches in the NBA, Hopla joined the Raptors staff last November after earning a reputation by working with such star players as Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Sue Bird of the WNBA Seattle Storm. While he was a key member of the Raptors staff, he was never elevated to a full-fledged assistant coaching position like the one he'll have with Eddie Jordan in Washington. Assistants to head coach Sam Mitchell on Toronto are Alex English, Jay Triano and Mike Evans, who replaces Jim Todd, now with Milwaukee. It's unclear whether the Raptors will fill Hopla's job with someone to work specifically on shooting or whether they'll fold the job into training and strength and conditioning.

::FITNESS::

Better Abs Without Crunches!

By Raphael Calzadilla, B.A., CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

"Endless abdominal machines, crunch boards, sit-up devices and tortuous torso routines promise flat bellies and chiselled abs. Hardly a one of them works worth a damn, mainly because their makers show little understanding of human anatomy."
-- Dr. Michael Colgan, Renowned Fitness Expert and author of The New Power Program

Having studied human anatomy, nothing disgusts me more than watching one of those dumb ab machine infomercials make promises that their product will give a person a flat stomach. A lying abdominal machine will not give you a flat stomach, a seated abdominal machine will not give you a flat stomach and 1,000 crunches per day will not give you a flat stomach.  It's not my opinion. It's based on human anatomy. I'm not suggesting that crunches or intense abdominal work isn't important! It's absolutely vital for athletic performance and core strength, but make no mistake about it, traditional ab exercises will not give you a flat stomach.  I want to provide effective exercises to give you a flat stomach.

First, we need a brief anatomy lesson. I won’t make this long or boring, but stay with me on this. If you understand this information, you’ll be light years ahead of the pack and will laugh out loud when you see the next "latest and greatest" ab machine that promises to flatten your stomach.  The abdominals are composed of four major muscles: the rectus abdominis, the transversus abdominis and the internal and external oblique. Let’s take a brief look at each.

RECTUS ABDOMINIS -- This is the infamous but improperly named "six-pack." It’s actually an "eight-pack." It’s a long, thin muscle that runs vertically down the body from the breastbone and fifth, sixth and seventh ribs to the top of the pubic bone. Worked efficiently and with supportive nutrition, it can help create the much desired "ripples" that poke out detailing the "eight-pack." However, it can't create a flat stomach. The muscle fibres simply run the wrong way for that to happen.

TRANSVERUS ABDOMINIS -- The transversus muscle holds your gut tight and flat. It’s a thin sheet of muscle running along the sides of the abs, which joins connective tissue behind it. Its fibres run across the stomach, join into the rear area of the abs and wrap around the sides of the body. It attaches along the rib cage and into the back muscles. It's your body’s natural corset! When you suck your gut in, you have just used your transversus. This is the only muscle that can help create a flat midsection!

INTERNAL and EXTERNAL OBLIQUES -- The internal obliques are diagonal fibres that fan out from the pelvis and ribs to the rear of the "eight-pack." They provide a layer of support over the transversus. The external obliques, also referred to as the "love handles," are composed of fibres that run from the front of the pelvis and "eight-pack" back to the ribs.

TWO GREAT EXERCISES FOR FLATTENING THE STOMACH

By this point, you know I’m going to focus only on the transversus. Don’t forget, you have to work all four areas of the abdominals for maximum effectiveness and core stability. But my focus is only about how to get a flat midsection.  The following exercises are the most efficient for flattening. They may seem unorthodox to the novice, but highly effective. Practice these exercises three to four days per week and perform two to three sets of each.

1. ABDOMINAL VACUUM ON ALL FOURS -- Position the heel of your hands under your shoulders and the knees directly under your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position and maintain this position throughout the contraction.  Start by exhaling all the air from your lungs. Then, relax your abdomen and let it hang like a loose sling, but don't increase the arch in your lower back. Next, pull the belly button up and in toward the spine, without motion at the rib cage or pelvis.  If your pelvis or rib cage moves, you aren't isolating the transversus. It helps to watch yourself in a mirror and have someone put a hand under the belly button. Let your belly relax onto the person's hand and then contract and pull your belly off the hand. Try to hold the contraction for at least 20 seconds. If you can't do this contraction correctly, you are either weak in your transversus abdominis or your other abdominals may be dominant.

2. ABDOMINAL VACUUM -- This is a lot like the exercise above, but you're just sitting up straight. In a seated position, exhale all the air from your lungs. After completely exhaling, pull the abdomen inward and hold for 20-30 seconds. Continue to breathe lightly through your nostrils, but make sure you are pulling your abs in as if you are attempting to make your abs and back touch. You may find this one a little easier than #1 due to the positioning.  If performed with consistency, these exercises, added to your regular abs workout, will yield outstanding results. Within three to four weeks, you'll find your abs pulling in and feeling tighter. Just remember to supplement it with a healthy nutrition, weight training and cardio program.  Why not take the guess work out of it and let the experts at eFitness.com design that program for you? We will construct a realistic and enjoyable meal plan that fits into your lifestyle and that's pleasurable to the taste buds! We do all the homework for you, all you have to do is eat!

::MOTIVATION::

Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com — Virginia Woolf

(August 17, 2007) "Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself."