July 19, 2007
Hello my friends! Harbourfront Centre switches gears just in time for Toronto's Caribana - Island Soul comes to town with all things Caribbean. Come down and join the fun! Starting this week, I will feature a weekly event listing for Harlem.
Centre Announces World Routes 2007 - June 4 To September 3, 2007
Source: Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre is pleased to announce the dates for the 2007 Summer Festival season, as well as the dates for the festivals collectively known as World Routes 2007 presented by RBC. From June through September, Harbourfront Centre will be presenting top Canadian and International artists comprising all creative disciplines including music, dance, theatre, visual arts, readings and film each weekend. Visitors will also enjoy our 10-acre site once again for enriching family activities at multiple waterfront venues. All Summer Festivals are FREE admission.
Visitors to Harbourfront Centre can also experience the rich cultural diversity of each weekend's theme while enjoying rotating shopping and food selections at the International Marketplace and The World Café nestled alongside an expanded boardwalk.
FRIDAY JULY 13 TO SUNDAY, JULY 15
Harbourfront Centre unites the four corners of the globe together with the musical showcase of World Rhythms. Instruments and icons from around the world will be on hand to demonstrate and display how music is the universal language; also features food, dance and visual arts from around the world. Sound is the source of this festival as the major regions of the world showcase their rhythms in this global musical mix. Instruments from the farthest reaches of the world, icons of the world music community, and a captivating demo of how percussive movement has charmed the world over - this festival leaves no stone unturned.
Week of July 19-25, 2007
For information on the vibe of Harlem Restaurant and live music venue: Go to www.harlemrestaurant.com.
Name of Event
DJ Carl Allen and friends rock the house with their musical talents
Performances by K.A.S.H, Ginuwine Affection ft. EOP Brodie, music by DJ Frisco
$8 before 10:30pm
Performances by: TRU-PAZ, SHANTALL, AND CEE JEWELS, Guest DJ's: DTS (MASTERPLAN SHOW 89.5 FM, CROWN A THORNZ), DJ UNKNOWN (TRU-PAZ), GJ GLASS
Custom Celebrity Hair Launch Party
Discover the secrets of the stars. Come celebrate the launch of a fabulous line of hair wigs.
DJ David James (deep house deep tech garage)
67 Richmond St. (at Church)
Resident DJ Starting From Scratch Takes His Music Worldwide
Source: Sadharana Communications
(Toronto) July 12, 2007 - Canada's foremost club and radio DJ, DJ Starting from Scratch, ‘Doin' It Like No Other!’ is on fire, and taking his versatile music styles across the globe. Working with A list celebrities, including comedian Russell Peters, the legendary Buju Banton and Raptors' superstar Chris Bosh, Scratch is branching out to new listeners, while keeping his faithful supporters jumping. As resident DJ of radio station FLOW 93.5FM, Starting from Scratch can be heard weekdays on his signature shows, The Traffic Flow Mixshow at 5 p.m. and The Critical Mix at 7 p.m... Starting from Scratch has been a fixture in the Toronto music scene for over 17 years.
“I love music. I love playing it, and now I’ll be traveling around the world, continuing to do what I love, and have the opportunity to influence more people,” mentions Scratch. Starting from Scratch's reputation brings exclusive partnerships with some of the hottest celebrities around. Comedian Russell Peters' announced Starting from Scratch as his official DJ. He performed with Peters' during his cross Canada tour and will travel with Peters to England, LA, New York City and countless other cities across the world. He is also featured on NBA All-Star Chris Bosh's website (www.chris-bosh.com). The exclusive video podcast includes Starting from Scratch and Chris Bosh discussing the music industry and their history and love for music. As a club DJ, Starting From Scratch draws over 2,000 people weekly to his uniquely diverse events. Amnesia, created in August 1999, is the brainchild of three respectable DJ's who after recognizing that the club scene in Toronto had flat lined, they created an event focused on bringing back musical memories of all genres from the 50’s to the early 90’s. Sweet Tears features the best of Old & New House and Redemption brings back the good old days of reggae. All three events have savagely loyal followers, and are wildly successful having welcomed over 150 000 satisfied patrons.
Starting From Scratch joins Russell Peters at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, July 19 to July 21 and playing back to back shows during Caribana Week, including his float for the Caribana Parade.
For more information on DJ Starting from Scratch’s whereabouts visit: www.startingfromscratch.com.
DJ Starting from Scratch is Canada's foremost club and radio DJ. He can be heard daily on Toronto's FLOW 93.5 FM during the afternoon drive and evening show, as well as throughout the country at weekly club and concert engagements. Starting From Scratch, FLOW 93.5 FM's mix show magician, has been pleasing club crowds across the country for over 17 years. Among others awards, he was voted T.O.'s #1 DJ in Now Magazine's "Best Of Toronto" edition, Winner of Toronto Night Club Awards "Best Local (Toronto) DJ", he received the CUMA Award, for DJ of the year, for four consecutive years and named "Greatest DJ Of All Time" by Flavor Pool, "Best Radio Mixshow DJ", "Best Toronto DJ", and "Best Club DJ" at the 2006 Stylus Awards.
Appel, 87: Tireless Philanthropist
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Iain Marlow, Staff Reporter
(July 16, 2007) In a very subdued celebration of a remarkable love story last Wednesday, Bluma Appel – Canadian philanthropist, near-peerless patron of the arts, and recipient of countless honours and awards – marked her 67th wedding anniversary with her husband Bram. He acted in the "most gallant way imaginable," and swept into the room with an armful of yellow roses for his beloved wife, who had been diagnosed recently with cancer, her daughter-in-law Gail Appel said last night. Bluma Appel died last night at Princess Margaret Hospital. She was 87. Appel, who was an Officer of the Order of Canada, was a tireless advocate of the arts and donated to many arts organizations, including the Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Stage, the National Gallery of Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum. She was also founder of the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research. This year, in April, the Canadian Club of Toronto named her Canadian of the Year. She told the crowd her life had been spent "knocking on a series of doors" and walking through each one, CBC reported. At that event, she said she developed her love for the theatre in New York City, in the 1950s, "the best time for theatre."
"I learned to love the arts and understand the importance of the arts to a civilized society," she said. This love later led to a substantial donation for renovation of a theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto, which was renamed in her honour as the Bluma Appel Theatre. She said she had backed dozens of plays that were almost all financial failures, solely because of their artistic merit. Gail Appel said that up to the very end, Bluma continued to appear at these types of events – including two appearances in June, when she received an honorary doctorate at Brock University's convocation, and the opening of a laboratory at the University of Toronto to which she had donated more than $350,000. "She was in pain," Appel said of her mother-in-law. "But she just wanted to do what she's always done." Richard Ouzounian, the Star's theatre critic, worked closely with Appel during the mid-'80s.
"She was one of the most energetic women I ever met," he recalls. "At my first Toronto arts party, I was standing timidly in the corner and she grabbed my elbow. `Come on, kid,' she said, `Bluma's gonna show you how to work a room.' "And that's what she did. She opened every door she could, but then expected me to walk through them. That was how she viewed all of her charitable activities, I think. She didn't just help you; she helped you to help yourself." Ellie Tesher, a Star advice columnist, was a close friend of Bluma's for about 20 years and a frequent guest at Appel's home in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Tesher recalled her friend's irreverent humour and intense compassion. She remembers when they were on a flight to England and Appel jumped up and gave away their seats to an elderly woman with a walker; they ended up at the back of the plane, next to the washroom. Appel was always drumming up ways to promote her various causes, Tesher said. "She was a visionary thinker. She had guts, real guts," Tesher said, remembering when Appel convinced the "stuffy" presidents of 10 major banks to donate $100,000 each to AIDS in the 1980s, when the virus had a strong social stigma.
But as well as her public donations, Tesher said, Appel and her husband were extremely generous in a more private way, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to medical researchers and doctors whose work caught their eye. "She and her husband had been extraordinarily generous for the population of Toronto and Canada," Tesher said. Appel was also the recipient of a special honorary Dora Mavor Moore Award, "for her exceptional and lifelong dedication to the performing arts in Canada." She was one of only three people to receive this honour – the others were legendary actor William Hutt, who died in late June, and Urjo Kareda, the late artistic director of the Tarragon Theatre. Byron Bellows, a personal assistant to the family for the past 17 years, said last night from the family home that they were "absolutely devastated," and had just gotten the news. He was calling Bluma's friends and colleagues. He said word of her death had "spread like wildfire," and he had already received condolences from a friend of hers in Los Angeles. Gail Appel said Bluma's husband Bram was "extraordinarily bereft." There will be a public service tomorrow at Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel.
Unstoppable Tyler Perry
Source: Essence.com - By Denene Millner
For sure, Tyler Perry is no stranger to hard work. Consider the breakneck pace at which he was running back in late spring: The playwright turned wunderkind film director would arrive at his Atlanta production studio between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., run through lines and direct the cast of his TV show, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, and then, by 11:30 a.m., hop into his car and take a 15-minute drive to the set of his latest movie. There, he'd put his star Janet Jackson through her paces until well after the moon made its slow dance across the warm Georgia sky. Between all of that, he'd work the hell out of his cell phone, overseeing the production of his next TV show, Meet the Browns, supervising the finishing touches on his new 70,000-square-foot studio, and conducting endless interviews for his unprecedented 100-episode, multimillion-dollar deal with the TBS cable network. Does sleep figure into the equation? Not so much. Perry is his own army of one, doing more before noon than most people do all day.
"You're talking to a guy who does 330 shows in a year when he's on tour, so this is not really work for me," he says, while taking a break from filming to talk to ESSENCE. But as an outsider peeking into the House of Perry, you can't help but worry that the man just needs, well, a life-something other than TV and movie scripts to hold on to. Not like there aren't ladies willing to fill the void. Women pursue him backstage at his plays, slip notes into his praying hands at church, and tape scriptures and love letters to the gate of his posh manse in an upscale Atlanta suburb. Despite a 12-foot fence, one woman even managed to leave a love letter at his front door, while he was sleeping.
Perry, who gives a chuckle and an "Oh, God" reaction to the suggestion that somebody thinks-rather, a whole lot of somebodies think-he's hot and in a need of a girlfriend, does finally acknowledge that his fans can be, um, persistent, and, in the case of the fence scaler, a tad over the top (to this day, Perry hasn't been back to that mansion, and has since slapped a For Sale sign on it). Still, he insists, the kind of women who chase after him aren't your typical groupies. "I've got a friend in the NFL and another in the NBA, and when we go places, all the young, hot, aggressive women are all on them, while all my fans are sweet, little old ladies, saying, 'You should meet my daughter!' " Perry says, laughing.
Well, little old ladies do tend to know a good man when they see one. Check out these stats: At just 38, Perry has produced, directed, and/or starred in 11 hugely successful urban plays, three big-screen box office hits, a hot prime-time cable TV show, and his fourth film, Why Did I Get Married?, takes a bow this November. He has also written The New York Times best-selling tome Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings (Riverhead). And don't get us started on his wisecracking, pistol-packing matriarch, Madea, who has become an international sensation. In fact, according to his partner and coproducer, Reuben Cannon, Perry's production company's cultural and financial impact will be equal to other Atlanta brands like Coca-Cola, CNN and the Georgia Aquarium [the world's largest]. That Perry is 6 feet 6 inches tall with a muscular build and a megawatt smile certainly doesn't hurt his status with the ladies either.
But what's most special about him is his heart, says Tasha Smith, the actress who was featured as the ghetto-fabulous baby mama in Perry's Daddy's Little Girls. "He's so gracious, so giving, so open, so generous—he is a gift from God," Smith gushed recently on the set of Married, which examines three couples' struggles to stay together. Jill Scott also costars. "He fights for the underdog; he advocates for the one who looks like he's down," Smith adds. "He's walking by faith, and he's constantly trying to look for opportunities to be a blessing in somebody else's life." Perry, ever humble, does acknowledge that he's become the beloved celebrity next door. "I'm just one of us," he says. "I come from a real place, and I come from the realness in my heart. People can connect to what they know, and I feel like people think they know me and I feel like I know them."
But when it comes to love, the heart can be a tricky thing. Take, for instance, Perry's experience with one of his first serious girlfriends, a woman he met in a club. He chased her for years. And he says he loved her so much that when he started making a little money, he bought her a brand-new car.
"Afterward she called me up and asked me, 'Would you drive this?'" Perry recalls, adding that was just the beginning of—and a teaser for—the relationship drama that made him bid adieu to his first love. "After dealing with that, I said, 'I'ma be with my damn self!'" (He gave the car to his sister, who drove it happily for years and recently gave it to her son, who also climbs behind its steering wheel with a smile on his face.) Perry is still by his damn self, though there have been persistent rumours about his romantic life—everything from relationships with various African-American starlets, including Tyra Banks, Tracee Ellis Ross and Oprah's BFF, Gayle King, to the suggestion that he's gay. Perry, who will neither confirm nor deny the Banks relationship, says that his "friend" King is a hang-out buddy, and that he did go out on a date with Ross, "but if you go on one date, it's not dating." Beyond that, the notoriously private Perry refuses to say more. But he doesn't hesitate to address the gay rumours, acknowledging, first, that climbing into a dress and wig and packing his face full of Maybelline could very well lead people to question for which side he's hitting. "It used to bother me a whole lot in the beginning, it really, really did," says Perry. "But what it's done is give me firm seating in my manhood. And if some people can't separate the character from the man that I am, then that's their issue, not mine."
In case you were wondering, this is the man Tyler Perry is: He loves chicken and never leaves home without his Amex, some cash and his mouth guard (he grinds his teeth when he's stressed). The first thing he does in the morning? Pray. What makes him laugh the most, and worry the most too? "Black people," he says. "Every time." And as for the note-writing church ladies and the fence-scaling pursuer, you should know that Perry can't stand it when a woman chases him. "It's a total turnoff for me," he says simply. "I'm a go-getter, a fighter, a provider, and I feel like I need to chase."
He does finally admit that he doesn't really mean it when he says that he plans to be with just himself. He seems to be in love with the idea of being in love and living a fulfilled life as a husband and father. In fact, in the house he's building to replace the Atlanta mansion where he no longer lives, Perry is including a Jack-and-Jill bedroom suite-"one for a boy, one for a girl."
"I'm the kind of man who believes that you should see your future, see where you want to go, and prepare yourself," he says. "I want two kids, a boy and a girl. But I don't want to raise them without a wife. I'm too busy to do it alone. I need to make sure I have a solid relationship, so I know we'll be together to raise these kids, and they won't be somewhere with another man. That would be my undoing." It's possible Mr. Perry might already have a vision of the perfect partnership. "There is one I love to this very day and will always love," Perry says quietly. "If there is a woman who is perfect for me, it's her. If everything was in our favour, we would so be together. I'm a talker, a supporter; I'd challenge her, I'd try to make her better and stronger, because if I can do work that empowers millions of people, then in my family, it should be that way, too."
See? Those little old ladies really do know how to pick 'em.
Denene Millner is an ESSENCE contributing writer.
Prince Angers Retailers By Giving Album
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Paul Majendie, Reuters
(July 14, 2007) LONDON — U.S. rock star Prince gave his latest album away free on Sunday with a British tabloid, to the fury of music retailers. The Minneapolis maverick, renowned for his run-ins with the music establishment, will also give away copies of Planet Earth at a series of London concerts starting next month. Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said Prince's decision to give away the album, which is not scheduled to go on sale until July 24, with copies of the Mail on Sunday "beggared belief." "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores," said Quirk in reference to the 1990s when the star stopped using his name. "It's an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," he said.
The innovative funk artist, who has sold 80 million albums worldwide with ground-breaking works like Purple Rain, is unrepentant. "It's direct marketing and I don't have to be in the speculation business of the record industry which is going through a lot of tumultuous times right now," he said when asked why he was giving his music away. A spokesman for the singer told The Mail on Sunday: "Prince's only aim is to get music direct to those who want to hear it." "Prince feels that charts are just music industry constructions and have little or no relevance to fans or even artists today." In an interview with Reuters last month, Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron said: "No one has ever done this before. We have given away CDs and DVDs but this is just setting a new level." British retailer HMV clearly felt it was case of "If you can't beat them, join them" – it is offering The Mail on Sunday for sale at its stores. The News of The World, one of the Mail on Sunday's arch rivals in the competitive tabloid market, was not to be outdone. In what it billed as a world exclusive, the newspaper offered to give away 1,000 copies of Purple Rain in a mobile phone text competition.
Is Still A Wild Party
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(July 14, 2007) It was a case of déjà vu Kim Mitchell didn't expect to feel considering he once said he was done writing new music. The Canadian rock icon, who has been riffing for more than three decades, was sitting in the Q107 studio during his afternoon show when he first heard "Ain't Life Amazing," the title track of his new album, hit Toronto's airwaves. "It's been eight years since I've heard any new music on the radio by me," said the Sarnia native. "It reminded me of driving up Mount Pleasant around St. Clair and hearing "Here Among the Cats" for the first time from my first Max Webster album. I just pulled over. When I heard the new song the first time and it finished, I didn't talk. My producers were trying to get me to go. I was stopped in my tracks for about five seconds." That initial moment of bewilderment is now long gone and Mitchell is back to being his carefree self – though the next two months should be hectic as he gets some of his new material out to fans across the country. He barely has the time to clarify his salad order at a fast-food joint while doing this phone interview on the road out west. Mitchell is in the middle of a cross-country radio promotional tour during which he is playing acoustic sets. "I've never really done the acoustic stuff by myself before. I would have brought the band, but I'm the record company now and I'm not going to spend money on flights for those guys," he said with a laugh.
It comes with the territory when there's a creative void to fill. "There was no concept. I wasn't pissed, I wasn't bitter, I was just inspired to write," said Mitchell, who just had his 55th birthday earlier this week, but swears he hasn't celebrated one since his 39th. "It felt like a cane – you know those ones that pull you off the stage – but the cane was pulling me to the recording area." He would leave work, head home and put pen to paper. Or he'd hum some riffs into a digital record while driving around. The process began three years ago. Despite all the inspiration, he admits he wasn't a strong lyricist. That's when an old friend, Craig Baxter, came into play. Mitchell started noticing Baxter's writing on his website and he wanted to collaborate. Mitchell sent him some demos with some music and words here and there – a language he calls "Kiminese." The result was most of the songs on Ain't Life Amazing, which will be released July 17, the day after he opens for Def Leppard at the Molson Amphitheatre. "I'm pretty uninhibited on this record. I really let my guitar-playing fly. I wanted to keep all the weird clacks and noises," said the former Max Webster front man. "I've described the album as a bus going down the road with pieces falling off of it." Mitchell took a different approach in recording this eighth solo album. Instead of the traditional studio session, he recorded his singing and guitar in a studio above the Canary Restaurant on Cherry St. and sent them electronically to famed Nashville producer Joe Hardy, who also played bass on the tracks. They still had all the same conversations one would have, but they did it over email with days in between. It was a foreign, yet feasible process for the computer-savvy Mitchell, and he said that was the only way he could work with Hardy, who had produced albums for Tom Cochrane, ZZ Top and The Tragically Hip. He also had a hand in Mitchell's own 1994 record, Itch.
Even though the album is coming out at a time when he admits the record is "falling to pieces," Mitchell had to put out to satisfy his creativity. And this time, he said it doesn't appear like it will be his last offering. Mitchell said he wrote enough songs for two records, and thought about releasing it as a double album, but decided against it. This album is the more rock-fuelled one, while the next will be "pretty" and laid-back. "It's pretty aggressive in a day and age when Paul McCartney is starting to make lifestyle records," Mitchell said. He said Ain't Life Amazing sounds like he strapped on his guitar and went to town. He's proud of the fact a lot of the tracks were recorded in one take and that the mistakes were left in to give it an authentic feel. For those anticipating the album and perhaps awaiting the new tracks at the concert Monday, he said he may not be able to get them into his set, but promised to try and slot in a few alongside classics such as "Patio Lanterns," "Go For Soda" and "Rock 'n' Roll Duty." "I'm not a selfish (artist) when playing live. It's what you want to hear," he said. "I want to slip in a couple of the new ones if you're receptive to it." Mitchell will be on the second week of his Q107 hiatus starting Monday, but he's scheduled to be back on the air the following week. Other than a two-week break in August to tour in the west, Mitchell will have to juggle his two jobs – even though he considers only his radio gig a real job. He said he's very happy hosting on the airwaves, something he wasn't so sure about when he first start nearly three years ago. He doesn't know how long he'll continue to do it – that's probably up to the station, he said – but as long as he's got a microphone, his voice will resonate in the afternoons. And if not? "I go back to being a rock-guitar player." So maybe "Ain't Life Amazing" won't be the last song to stop him in his tracks.
The Street-Smart Ladykiller Versus The
Convicted Drug Dealer
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic
(July 17, 2007) One oversized stage persona is never enough for an MC at the top of his game. Rappers from Biggie and Tupac to Kool Keith and Eminem have adopted alter egos alternate to their already carefully cultivated microphone presences to stoke the creative fires and to shake off the constraints of maintaining a single public character. Ubiquitous Atlanta microphone fiend T.I., however, might be the first to build an entire album around the rivalry between his different identities. T.I. – known to family as 26-year-old Clifford Harris – has been detailing his evolution from a real-life drug dealer and convict nicknamed Tip into the urbane (if still street smart) businessman and ladykiller who reigned over last year's biggest-selling hip-hop album, King. But on his fifth album, T.I. vs. T.I.P., he lets the two sides battle it out over three separate, engaging musical "acts," sparring rhyme-for-rhyme with himself throughout the third. Such a complicated conceit sounds like a nightmare from a writing standpoint, but Harris maintains "that wasn't the hard part." He lives it every day.
"Naturally, I'm just going to be one way," he said yesterday, while conducting an afternoon of press closely observed by a South African TV crew in a downtown hotel suite. (He'll be signing copies of the new disc today from 3 to 5 p.m. at HMV's Yonge St. store.) "I'm going to be T.I.P. naturally. It takes effort for me to become T.I. for a whole song without letting T.I.P. peep through somehow." The affable, surprisingly soft-spoken Harris has indeed witnessed Tip's old ways intrude on his professional career a few times. He was packed off to prison for four months in 2004, right when Trap Muzik was blazing up the album charts, for violating the probation order after his conviction on a drug offence in 1998. Behind-the-scenes dust-ups with other rappers and their crews have occasionally flared over the years, too, the most recent being a rumoured tussle with Ludacris's manager in June (the two rappers have been feuding in earnest since T.I. proclaimed himself "the King of the South"). Yesterday, he joked about getting a thorough going-over by Canadian customs on the way to Toronto. In early May of last year, though, Harris received tragic impetus to concentrate on developing his responsible, grown-up side. His friend Philant Johnson was shot dead and two other members of his crew wounded during a gun battle that broke out after a nightclub altercation with some local thugs in Cincinnati.
Fearing for his safety, Harris contemplated giving up music altogether for his less potentially volatile dabblings in acting (he starred in the film ATL last year) and clothing design. But, he says, he owed it to Johnson to get back in the ring. "Me and Philant were kinda talking back and forth about what I could do to top King, and he was basically saying: `The only thing you can do to top King, man, is go back to that old T.I.P. shit,'" he recalls. "And I came back to him a day or two later and said: `What about if T.I. and T.I.P. could do an album?' And I started thinking about it and then he died. "That's kind of the last thought of an album that we had. So once I made my mind up that I was going to continue to do music, it was a no-brainer: that was the only album for me to make." T.I. should have the last laugh over the troublemaking T.I.P. now that T.I. vs. T.I.P. has followed King's lead and debuted atop the Billboard chart with first-week sales of 468,000. Harris now sits in the esteemed company of the rap superstars – Jay-Z, Eminem and Wyclef Jean among them – who guested on the new disc and hopes to build his Grand Hustle Records imprint into a multimedia empire. "I'm fortunate. I'm blessed. I appreciate all of the success and the notoriety, but I work hard and it didn't just happen. I mean, I work hard. Period. I've already started work on the next album," he says. "I'm just doin' the same thing I've been doin'. It's just now I'm doin' it on TV."
Marvin Sapp Debuts At #1: The Thirsty CD
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
July 13, 2007 ) Marvin Sapp's Thirsty may be the magnum opus of his seven albums, amassing a record-breaking first week of sales and occupying the #1 spot on Billboard's Gospel chart. The accompanying DVD for the project also had an outstanding first week of sales, debuting at #2 on the Christian Soundscan Music Video Chart. "Thirsty" is a tall glass full of spiritual replenishment when your life is lingering in dry places. A powerful follow-up to his 2005 album, "Be Exalted" (that gave us the urban jam "Do You Know Him") the energy of this live concert (captured live at Grandville, Michigan's Resurrection Life Church,) pulsates feverishly. The stand out cut, "Never Would Have Made It" is a compelling vocal meditation that coerces listeners to bow down and reverence God as their Keeper, then "Praise Him in Advance" raises them to their feet to sway to the assuring words "praise will confuse the enemy." More musically varied than projects of the past there is a touch of smooth jazz on "Worshipper in Me" on which the keyboard glistens, while the peaceful string orchestration on "Rivers Flow" emits a contemporary Christian twist. A church friendly, praise and worship banner "Shout Unto God" bursts into extolment. "Thirsty" is more worship than praise, more slow than fast, even more personal than the last.
Of his powerful voice the Associated Press said Sapp "always vibrates like he's wringing every drop of emotion from his spirit." In the sheer spirit of a psalmist Pastor Sapp bares his soul with unabashed emotive resolve. When asked about his worship style Pastor Sapp likens his experience to David running from Absalom in the Psalms. "I go to a very desolate place in my existence and think about things that most people don't think about and when I get there--that's where I find sanctuary. When you go to a place where you can't depend on anybody around you then and only then can you call on God and when God shows up, where ever you are becomes your sanctuary." Sapp's ability to unveil his private sanctuary encounters in the presence of others is the signature of "Thirsty." The words of "Never Would Have Made It" transpired when Sapp was left barren in his personal life. Back to back he experienced the deaths of the three most influential men in his life: his father, his musical mentor, and his spiritual father. The lyrics of the empowering song were spoken to Sapp prophetically on the spot the date of his recording and were truly the only way he could have performed on the night that became a critical turning point for him. The concert took place a day after burying his father and his spiritual father had passed away just days earlier. He recalled having to go preach while the pain of his father's earthly departure was still fresh. "The Lord said to me, 'Marvin, there's something you need to understand. Although your father isn't with you physically, I will never leave you nor will I forsake you. I will be with you always even until the end of the earth'. This measure of assurance is what he needed before he could utter a note at the recording of "Thirsty." I grabbed the microphone and started singing, 'Never Would Have Made It'"," says Sapp. For assurance that God is right by your side-right at this very minute, listen to this advance recording of "Never Would Have Made It."
Carl Thomas Is 'So Much Better'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 18, 2007) *Singer Carl Thomas had us all emotional in 2000 with his hit debut single "Emotional" and the follow-up, "I Wish." With those very big hits, he quickly became known as the balladeer of Bad Boy. He released his sophomore disc in 2004 that sailed to gold status with hits like "She Is." Since then, he's grown as a singer and a businessman and has prepped his third album "So Much Better," released last month, in his own time and on his own label. "This is an independent company, distributed by Universal," Thomas said of the records backing. "(Music business executive) Jheryl Busby gave [producer] Mike City and me the opportunity to exercise our imprints so it's on Thom Tunes, which is my label, slash Umbrella, slash Universal." Thomas left the Bad Boy label in 2005 because of creative differences, but told EUR's Lee Bailey that putting out his latest disc on the umbrella boutique label isn't really that different. "To me, it's the same game, just different numbers," he explained. "The money's better. The independent game allows you to be your own boss. Of course you share in the responsibility of the promotion and marketing of the album, whereas in other situations you don't, but at the same time the profit margins are a little bit better."
Thomas revealed that he hadn't made the move earlier because the time wasn't particularly right. And as it turns out, "So Much Better" wasn't actually scheduled either; it came together rather by accident. "This album wasn't supposed to be an album at all," the singer said. "I was in the middle of promoting my second album, 'Let's Talk About It.' Right in the middle of promoting that album my only and eldest brother was a victim of a drive-by shooting. He was shot and murdered on Halloween night 2004. I just put the microphone down. I'm someone who definitely prides himself as having something to say ... but honestly, for a little while I just really didn't have anything to say. Mike City called me up with an idea for us to do a mixtape. I felt that I had been away from the fans for some time so I felt like it would be a good little teaser before I went back into the studio and started recording an album. When we got in the studio, it just started coming out really, really great. We had to look at the project differently and decided we needed a greater medium to put the album out. Jheryl Busby stepped in and I was really happy to find out he was a fan of my music and he appreciated my integrity. It just made sense to do at the time." Thomas said that the release wasn't so much about the label's dynamics as it was getting his music in front of his fans. He said that to a certain degree, he felt like he'd been neglecting his fans by taking a hiatus and dealing with his loss. "I just wanted to let them know that I thank them for not forsaking me and leaving me. Just the support that I get even when I don't have a project in the marketplace is very overwhelming," he said. Nevertheless, the Chicago native's move to producing a disc on his own label was a good move at the time, too. He described that the deal gives him the autonomy to do what he wants to do as an artist; something that he felt he wouldn't be afforded on his former label. "I signed to Bad Boy in 1997 and it was a really, really good period in my life. A lot of artists leave the label under less than favourable circumstances and I just didn't want to do that. It would be really wrong and unjust to go out in the public and act like me and Puff had a problem. My issues with the company were creative," he said. "I went to [Sean 'Diddy' Combs] and said 'I think I'm ready to do this on my own.' At first there was resistance, but I think ultimately my will to do what I felt was right and his respect and love for me as an artist and a brother ultimately prevailed and allowed me to move."
Thomas continued that while he applauds the work of the Bad Boy label, he's come to the conclusion that Bad Boy is an excellent company to break an artist, but not to sustain a superstar - though that has been a particularly daunting issue within the industry itself. Onward and upward, the soul singer has moved his emotions and personal growth into song. Though it only features an interlude linked to his tragic loss, the album is dedicated to the life and times of his brother. But the disc focuses on Thomas' signature brand of melodic universal love stories. "'So Much Better' is designed for the individual that finds themselves on the wrong side of the front door and we're going to get them back in there. But once you get back in, you can't mess up anymore," he described. "I try to make music from an imperfect point of view because if people listen to my music and they see that I'm allowing myself room for mistakes, maybe they'll allow themselves a little bit room and won't be so hard on themselves." The album's first single, "2 Pieces" is doing quite well; one of the most added singles at Urban stations nationwide. The disc also features E-40 on the hot track "Oh No" and Brandy doing background for the song "Somethin' Bout You." Other collaborators include Dave Hollister, Lalah Hathaway and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. "I'm having a good time doing this project with the no-pressure factor. No one can tell us when to stop and when to go. No one can tell us when to stop working a single and when to start. It's really a beautiful and empowering feeling." And with that, Thomas gave some parting advice for artists looking to find their niche. "Eventually you are going to run into a wall if you don't see a record deal as a loan for you to go into business for yourself." For more on Carl Thomas, check out his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/therealcarlthomas.
Life In Record Stores Yet
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Columnist
(July 14, 2007) The closing two weeks ago of Sam The Record Man – Toronto's first and perhaps last great record store – brings down the curtain on what was 10 or 20 years ago one of the most vital, savvy and well-served music markets in North America. Toronto was blessed with dozens of deeply stacked music stores in the GTA, including several Sam's franchises, Sunrise Records and its regional outlets, and a sizeable number of independent operators dedicated to various specialties – country music, blues, folk, hard rock and metal, psychedelia, jazz, dance music and classic rock, to name a few. With few exceptions, the people who served you were knowledgeable and personable, and usually able to satisfy your musical needs immediately or within a few days. In the wake of the Internet retail revolution, what's left in Toronto are big-box rackers – HMV, Wal-Mart, Future Shop and their ilk. They may be able to offer the latest releases, mostly in the pop and rock genres at bargain prices – but little that doesn't fall within the domain of the five globalized record companies or appear on the latest Top 50 bestseller lists. As for savvy, back catalogue and informed service, forget it. Those days are gone.
Or are they? Jeff Lazarus, who took over the 15-year-old North York record emporium Sonic Temple two years ago, isn't sure if the few remaining music retailers in Toronto – or anywhere else, for that matter – can survive the Internet assault indefinitely, but he's betting his life savings on about 250 square metres of retail space at 5165 Yonge St., between Sheppard and Finch, crammed wall-to-wall with mostly classic rock CDs and vinyl. "Music stores aren't dead, just wounded," insists Lazarus, 25. "And even though our July sales are down by 15 or 20 per cent over last year, I have hope for the future. I don't believe going out of business is inevitable." He cites the continuing patronage of small but well-stocked independent music retailers such as Soundscapes (572 College St.), Vortex Records (2309 Yonge St.), Rotate This (620 Queen St. W.), the mostly all-vinyl Discovery Records (1140 Queen St. E.), Kops Records (229 Queen St. W.) and the ubiquitous Déjà Vu Discs second-hand outlets. What is inevitable, Lazarus believes, is that music stores will have to specialize – to find niches that can't be filled easily by scrolling through Internet lists – in order to survive. "It's the only way we can compete," he says. "Downloading is killing us, and there's no way we can beat the prices of new product on sale at the bulk outlets like Wal-Mart and Future Shop. They're the only stores the major labels will deal with, and they can afford to sell CDs cheaper than I pay wholesale." Even so, about 60 per cent of Sonic Temple's stock is new product, ordered from independent distributors and directly from independent labels all over the world. The rest are second-hand purchases from collectors, estates and vintage specialists.
With four full-time employees and an emphatic mission statement – "If it's in print, we'll get it for you!" – Lazarus aims to rekindle among music fans who have become addicted to file-sharing and free downloads the intense record-buying experience he remembers from lost afternoons reaming through the deep and dusty racks at Sam's, Vortex Records and CD Exchange. "When I was a teenager, that's where I learned to love music," he says. "They were my tutors." Bert Myers and Dave Healey – they run the venerated Vortex Records, a well-stacked CD, vinyl and DVD loft accessed by an inconspicuous doorway at 2309 Yonge St., just north of Eglinton Ave. – have quietly served the needs of Toronto's more discerning music buyers, and those of visiting musicians from all over the world, for more than 20 years. They carefully select second-hand material supplied by a steady stream of trusted sellers – music collectors for the most part, though anyone with a handful of CDs is welcome to drop by just in case there's something in the bundle worthy of Vortex's sacred milk-carton racks. "There are no more good new-music stores in Toronto," Myers laments. "This is no longer a record town. We never had as many titles available as the big stores in New York or Chicago, but Sam's was a music powerhouse in Toronto, and this city had so much great music at very reasonable prices up to 20 years ago. So much has gone by the wayside, so much great music is missing." Myers doesn't believe music retail will ever fully recover from the Internet effect. For starters, the ears of downloaders attuned to compressed MP3 files and mini-plug ear inserts aren't the same as those of the lost hi-fi generation, for whom the reproduction of the entire sonic spectrum on powerful, infinitely tweakable audio systems with huge speakers pumping masses of throbbing air molecules was the listening standard. "In the last year or so, eight used-CD stores in Toronto have closed. People aren't bothering to go out to buy good music any more, even at second-hand prices." Myers has reason to believe the demise of Sam's will bring Vortex more trade, enough to stay afloat. Sales of vintage vinyl and music DVDs are also on the rise, he notes. "The future of music retail, if there is one, is Sonic Boom (512 Bloor St. W. at Bathurst), which occupies a huge space and relies almost entirely on used product. They'll pay cash for any useable CD, DVD, cassette or LP, and rack it. They're open till midnight every day except Christmas Day. They have the space, the time and the inventory to make it work." Healey is less sanguine. "You're looking at a long, slow death," he says. "Young people aged 15 to 25 aren't willing to pay for music at all. They want it for nothing, and they can usually get it for nothing on the Internet. That's bad for music stores. And bad for music in general."
Nelson Honoured As Music Icon
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Gerome, Associated Press
(July 12, 2007) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Willie Nelson can add another award to his long list of accolades. Broadcast Music Inc. announced Thursday that it will bestow upon Nelson its icon designation during its 55th annual Country Awards Nov. 6 in Nashville. BMI gives the honour to songwriters and artists who have had a ``unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.'' Nelson certainly fits the bill. Before he became a star in the '70s, his songs were hits for Ray Price (``Night Life''), Patsy Cline (``Crazy''), Faron Young (``Hello Walls''), and Billy Walker (``Funny How Time Slips Away''). With pal Waylon Jennings, he was part of country music's outlaw movement that eschewed the conventions of Nashville's Music Row. He incorporated rock, pop, jazz, folk and blues into his music, used unconventional phrasing as a singer and developed a distinct, Latin-flavoured guitar style.
He's widely credited with helping influence the new traditionalist and alternative country movements of the '80s and '90s. At 74, Nelson remains a prolific performer and recording artist. Earlier this year, he released Last of the Breed with Merle Haggard and Price. He put out two albums in 2006: You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker and the Ryan Adams-produced Songbird, which had him covering songs by the Grateful Dead, Leonard Cohen and Fleetwood Mac. Previous winners of BMI's icon award include Haggard, Dolly Parton, Whisperin' Bill Anderson, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, the Bee Gees, Isaac Hayes, Ray Davies, James Brown and Crosby, Stills & Nash. BMI represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music.
Lean Back And Feel The Eclectic Latin
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Li Robbins
At Harbourfront Centre in Toronto on Sunday
(July 17, 2007) About two-thirds of the way through the concert, guitarist and vocalist Nova explained his band, Pacha Massive: "We're part of the global community. We're originally from Latin America, we live in New York, but we're citizens of the world." In a way, the summation is apt - how else could you explain a band that mixes dance-hall, Colombian cumbia, Dominican palo, trip-hop, drum and bass, and reggae, all the while singing in English and Spanish with Dido-meets-Sade female vocals? On the other hand, it's almost impossible to imagine this band being "citizens" of any place other than the city they left mere hours before their Toronto debut. No getting around it, Pacha Massive sounds like New York. Young, Latino New York - New York from the Dominican Republic and Colombia via neighbourhoods like Washington Heights and the Bronx. And unlike the previous generation of bands to cross the great Anglo/Hispanic music and language divide (so-called rock en espanol groups such as Ozomatli and Mana), Pacha Massive pretty much leaves rock music at home. Their sound connects more to bands like Morcheeba or Massive Attack; it's about loungy, groovy clubbiness. Or in its daytime incarnation, as with Sunday's concert, it's also about sunny, summer afternoons where you don't have to do anything but lean back and feel the vibe. Clearly this has appeal - the crowd grew as Pacha Massive (the name comes from the Incan goddess "pachamama," meaning Mother Earth) eased into songs, drawing heavily from their one recording, All Good Things.
The album exists in part because of the band's victory in the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference's battle of the bands contest in 2005, which resulted in a deal with the Latin indie label Nacional. Echoing that recording, the songs in their live show slipped effortlessly from one to the other, at times almost drowsily - no listener would be faulted for concluding that "all Pacha Massive songs sound kinda the same." But if you could rouse yourself for closer scrutiny, there was more going on than the obvious. The rhythmic shifts were subtle and skilled; the horn solos precise in both their arc and impact on each song. Where the band's music typically worked best was when sly hooks emerged, with songs such as Don't Let Go, or the title track from All Good Things. (No doubt that the hook was responsible for the latter hitting No. 1 on the iTunes Alternative Latin chart when it was first released.) And then there was also the song La Verdolaga, featuring what the band calls "folkloric" Colombian singing. Sung by the group's backup singer (with her great pipes she really should get more front time) combined with rapping, it leapt out of the cocktail groove and into something you might actually want to think to. But then it was back to chill mode, and no one seemed to mind one bit.
Old School R&B Group Back With New
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 12, 2007) *Members of the R&B Group Kool and the Gang hope “cool” is timeless. It’s been ten years since the group recorded a studio album and even longer since they had a hit song. But they’re gearing up for their latest release called “Still Kool” in stores now. Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother Ronald are the only two original group members. The two new group members are 23-year-old Jirmad Gordon and Hakim Bell, Robert’s son. The group is best known for its 1980’s hits “Joanna” “Celebration” “Jungle Boogie” and Get Down On It.” They hope the new members will attract new and younger fans. In a recent interview with Reuters News Service, Ronald Bell said although the band has recently performed, their ten-year absence from recording was a different matter. “The inspiration comes when it does. We’ve been touring and thinking about this, but you have to wait for the inspiration to come, and then comes the opportunity.” The opportunity, said Bell, is the chance to show their ability to change with the times. “I always say that Mick Jagger is about 65 right now, and he is still rock n’ rolling.
Rocker Promotes Mental Health Care For
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(July 16, 2007) WASHINGTON – The Dave Matthews Band is urging fans to push U.S. Congress to do more to ensure troops coming home traumatized by combat get the help they need. A petition on the band's website has 23,000 signatures so far, singer Dave Matthews said in an interview aired Sunday on ABC's This Week. The Pentagon and Congress are reviewing possible changes to the military's much-criticized mental health system. A task force last month found that more than one-third of troops and veterans suffer from problems such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and it urged stronger leadership, more money and greater focus on prevention and screening. "It just struck me as a profound injustice that someone who had given so much of themselves and clearly showed such a quality of personality that the gratitude we're showing them was basically a dishonourable discharge," Matthews said. The petition asks Congress to investigate reports that some troops' service-related mental health problems have been misdiagnosed by the military as pre-existing personality disorders. The effort is non-partisan, the Grammy-winning musician said. ``It's only about how we treat people who have given their, essentially, their lives, put their lives in the hands of our country."
Janet Signs On Dotted Line With Island
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 16, 2007) *Following reports several weeks ago that Janet Jackson and Antonio “L.A.” Reid had taken over Circle House Studios in South Beach, Fla. to work on a new album, Billboard has learned that the singer has officially inked a deal with Reid’s Island Urban. The label currently employs Janet’s boyfriend Jermaine Dupri as president, but the mogul says he will take a back seat during the recording process. "She's on Island, but it's more or less [Reid's] project," Dupri tells Billboard.com. "I let him deal with that on a day-to-day basis. He's going to A&R that project, too. Janet's record is one that he's wanted to do for a long time. He's very passionate about it.” Rumours of Jackson leaving Virgin began circulating once Dupri left the label late last year to become president of Island Urban. She leaves behind two consecutive commercial disappointments: 2004's "Damita Jo" and last year's "20 Y.O." As for the flavour of Jackson's upcoming project, which has yet to set a release date, Dupri says: "I don't really know what he's got in mind at this point. His past record isn't shabby so I'm going to let him do what he's going to do. I'm going to do [the new] Mariah [Carey album], and we're going to make it seem like we're in competition to see who's going to have the biggest album of the year." Dupri says to look for Janet’s as-yet-untitled album sometime before the end of 2007. In the meantime, Dupri will release his autobiography, "Young, Rich and Dangerous: My Life in Music," Oct. 16 via Simon & Schuster. The book was co-authored by Samantha Marshall.
Avril Thanks Loyal Fans During
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(July 18, 2007) Avril Lavigne is thanking fans for their support as she faces repeated accusations of plagiarism. The pop-punk superstar posted a message on her MySpace page Tuesday saying her fans mean a lot to her. "Hey everyone," Lavigne writes. "I wanted to take this time to thank you, my fans for all your undying support. You have been amazing and I can't express how much I appreciate it. Thank you all so much. I am so proud of this record and grateful for the response it has been getting from all of my fans. You made it go (No.) 1!! " Lavigne goes on to urge fans to check out the new album by her husband's band, Sum 41, but does not mention anything about an ongoing legal battle over her smash hit, "Girlfriend." U.S. pop group The Rubinoos claim suspicious similarities to their 1970s single, "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." Lavigne's manager, Terry McBride, says the claims are baseless. The lawsuit is just the latest in a string of attacks on the 22-year-old's songwriting reputation. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton led a new round of charges last week by pointing out similarities between Lavigne's song, "I Don't Have to Try" with Peaches' raunchy track, "I'm the Kinda." In June, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk suggested to a U.S. magazine that Lavigne stole one of her songs, but later retracted the statements and apologized in a press release. Lavigne, who grew up in Napanee, Ont., has also had to deflect accusations from the Matrix, the production team behind hits "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You." Songwriter Lauren Christie told Rolling Stone that Lavigne did little but "change a word here or there," but Lavigne has insisted they crafted the melodies and lyrics together.
Al B Sure Now Permanent on L.A. Radio
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 18, 2007) *After filling in as a guest jock for the past month at Hot 92.3 in Los Angeles, the radio station has officially hired Al B Sure as a morning host for the 9 a.m. to noon shift. Sure, best known for his hits “Nite and Day” and “Off On Your Own Girl” said he was "elated to be joining an airstaff and executive team that he has great respect for." The position has been without a regular jock ever since the station launched in 2001. "The Hot 92.3 building is full of dedicated professionals who truly love and understand the unique music we play, it’s no wonder Hot 92.3 is one of the most listened-to stations in Southern California,” said Sure. “I am not just another artist who wants to be on the radio. I am a professional with great respect for the radio business and industry and know how to survive the ride,” he added. “My radio career began seven years ago in the Bay Area at 98.1 KISS FM with a show called 'The Secret Garden,' and now I am ready to do it B-I-G in L.A."
Maple Leaf Well Represented At TIFF
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon
(July 17, 2007) The Toronto International Film Festival always boasts it shows the best in Canadian cinema. But this year's roster includes a particularly high-calibre list of Canadian filmmakers, from Denys Arcand and David Cronenberg to Guy Maddin and François Girard. As expected, Academy Award-winner Arcand's Days of Darkness ( L'Âge des Ténèbres) and David Cronenberg's latest film, Eastern Promises, will both feature prominently at the festival come September and will be screened as gala presentations, TIFF announced today at the unveiling of its Canadian line-up. Days of Darkness is about a down-on-his-luck civil servant who dreams of being a successful author, star actor or all-around beautiful celebrity. It stars Diane Kruger and Marc Labrèche. Eastern Promises reunites actor Viggo Mortensen ( A History of Violence) with Cronenberg in a thriller about the Russian mob and London's criminal underground. Both films already have distribution deals firmly in place, so they will use the festival as a publicity launching pad prior to their theatrical release. Many smaller Canadian films, however, will typically be looking to the festival to help secure distribution deals within North American and abroad. But that in no way reflects on their quality. In fact, many of the films attracting the most buzz tend to be the smaller films. And if last year's array of hip Canadian films at TIFF is any indication (such as 2006's Monkey Warfare, On the Trail of Igor Rizzi, Everything's Gone Green), Canadian film is breaking all sorts of barriers in terms of experimentation and subject matter not usually tackled by films.
Maddin, a festival fixture, will show My Winnipeg, described as a “docu-fantasia,” about the history of the city and the director's childhood. The film will be shown with live narration by Maddin. It's another step for the director into combining film with live performance as he did with his 2006 silent film Brand Upon the Brain!, which featured live sound effects, music and narration. Girard, in his first film since The Red Violin in 1998, returns to prominence with Silk, adapted from Alessandro Baricco's novel about a nineteenth-century French silkworm merchant travelling to distant, isolated Japan. Other highlights among the 81 Canadian features and short films confirmed so far for this year's TIFF are Here is What is, a documentary about Daniel Lanois and the mysteries of his recording studio; Shake Hands with the Devil, a dramatization of Roméo Dallaire's book about Rwanda and starring Roy Dupuis; and Breakfast with Scot, a comedy about a gay couple (one being an ex-Toronto Maple Leaf) bringing up a precocious 11-year-old. That film attracted attention last year when the team and the National Hockey League granted the filmmakers permission to use their logos in the movie.
Blethyn An Accidental Actor
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter
(July 13, 2007) It was sheer accident that brought Brenda Blethyn to the stage and screen. At 17, she left school in her hometown of Ramsgate in Kent, England, took the Pitman's secretarial course and headed for work in London. She was a secretary, working for British Rail in London, when she was dragooned into taking a part in a play put on by the company's dramatic group. Someone was too sick to perform. Blethyn was surprised at her own reaction to being on stage: "I loved it. I loved everything about it. I hadn't done anything like that before, except at school. "I always looked younger than my years, so I was doing these teenage parts and I was in my twenties." Inevitably, her winning stage presence was noticed. "People started saying, `You could do this professionally.' And I said, `Oh, don't be ridiculous.' I thought how irresponsible to give up my good job for a hobby. "I didn't know any actors, didn't go to the theatre. My dad used to take me to the cinema, but as far as I was concerned these great big people were from Mars. They weren't real people." But the proverbial stage bug had bitten. Secretly, and mindful of her father's advice to never be afraid of failure, Blethyn enrolled in the Guildford School of Acting.
"I thought, `How will I know if I don't try. If I don't try, I might spend my whole life wondering and regretting it.'" As it turned out, her marriage dissolved before she began acting school. "My whole life changed. Everything was different." She was 29 by the time her acting earned her a spot in the National Theatre company and 34 when she got her first noticeable role in TV. Director Mike Leigh cast her as Gloria in the BBC2 Playhouse movie, Grownups. Work and friendship with Leigh gave Blethyn the role that brought her to a wider public on the big screen, in his 1996 film Secrets & Lies. The actor won a BAFTA Award and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Cynthia Rose Purley, a working-class woman who does not welcome a visit from the young black woman who has traced her birth mother. Since then, Blethyn, 61, has gained such a high profile from her work in 37 TV shows and movies – recently as an inimitable Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice – that it's a surprise to find she is quite petite. But even from behind the door of her hotel suite, her presence is unmistakable. Bleythn's infectious high-pitched laugh and comic delivery may be qualities that made scriptwriter Keith Thompson think of her as his character Jean Dwight in Introducing the Dwights, which opens today.
Thompson was inspired by his mother, who once led a dance band in England, to write a script with Bleythn in mind as Jean. "I didn't know it was written for me," says Blethyn. "That would have scared me off I think, the responsibility of it. It turns out that he (Thompson) grew up only about 20 miles from where I grew up." Thompson had moved to Australia and got his script into the hands of producer Rosemary Blight who worked with Blethyn in the 1997 film, In The Winter Dark. Blethyn got the script and agreed immediately to do the role of Jean. "I knew that entertainment circuit," she says, recalling her early years when variety theatre was a staple of English social life. What's more, she is the right age for the themes of Jean's life. "I'm a baby boomer," she says, going into giggles. "I was born exactly nine months after the end of the war, so I like to say I was conceived in celebration: `a product of rejoicing.'" She says it with a Beyond the Fringe-style comic intonation, followed by a high trill of laughter.
Don Cheadle Talks The ‘Talk’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(July 13, 2007) *Academy-Award nominated actor Don Cheadle stars in the new film "Talk To Me" opening this weekend in NYC, LA, DC and select cities; it opens nationally August 3rd. Cheadle plays Washington, DC radio personality Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene, who in the mid-to-late 1960s was a very outspoken and outrageous voice of the community. The role seems to be a perfect fit for Cheadle in some degree. The actor has been the face of activism for causes, boldly speaking out on international atrocities and receiving major acclaim for his film roles such as in "Hotel Rwanda" that have brought such atrocities to the forefront of public thinking. "Talk To Me" is not only based on the story of Petey Greene, but chronicles a tumultuous time in American history, the civil right era, and focuses on some of the milestones and miseries of that period. And while the film evokes the emotions of the time, Cheadle admits that it wasn't the poignant scenes or moments that drew him to the film. "It definitely was not the check; this movie was made for 17 cents and some Chapstick," he joked. "There wasn't one scene; there wasn't one moment that I went, 'That's what I want to do.' It's the overall thing that the story was well-crafted and that the characters were really well-rounded, and beautifully flawed. And that it's the kind of friendship in the center of a film between two men that you don't usually see - especially not two black men - in modern film. It was the kind of film where all the characters really got their moment."
Those moments in the film reflect on some of the great tragedies and how different people handled them. And while Cheadle said that he didn't always bring his personal emotion to the story, he is definitely concerned about and empowered by the plight of blacks and being black. His current focus, outside of acting, is bringing light to the atrocities happening in Darfur. "What's happening now in Darfur is a government-sponsored - if you want to call it - genocide, crimes against humanity, acts of atrocities - however you want to define it," he said. "There are 2.5 million people displaced living in refugee camps on the Sudan-Chad border; 200,000 to 400,000 have been killed. The numbers aren't exact because many of the NGOs (non-government organizations) have been pushed out so we can't get an accurate number, but we know it's not the 8,000 that the government of Sudan is saying. There are still attacks being taken out on villages by the (Arab) Janjaweed militia that the government is sponsoring and giving weapons to. Now the second phase of this genocide is happening, which is death by attrition. These people are now being starved and because the NGOs have been kicked out so they don't have the ability to get medicine, food, and water to these people." When posed the question mirroring Petey Greene's and other celebrities' activism at that time with the seemingly more socially complacent and apathetic entertainers of today, Cheadle explained that the problem is deeper than celebrities being attached to African causes.
"I think it's a part of a bigger question about our general relationship to Africa. There's a lot of ignorance involved, and Africans have it with us, too. Because of what is being piped out of this country to the world about who we are; if you watch BET all day and that's how you knew black people you'd think, 'Y'all are some trifling-ass people.' So there is that disconnect in there. And then there is a great deal of us living at or hovering above the poverty line where it's a struggle or it's hard, so people are like, 'I can't really care about what's going on over there. I'm trying to live week to week.' There is a lot of guilt; there is a lot of shame; there's a lot of embarrassment we have about Africa. There are all these weird emotions that kind of cloud us from being involved over there." And even with his involvement for stances overseas, the acclaimed actor also makes a stand for African-Americanism in his work everyday. Cheadle is one actor who has not shied away from the title African-American actor, as some actors who prefer to be referred to as just an actor. Without criticism, Cheadle explained that he uses his ethnicity to push storylines and issues. "If you've grown up black in this country, everyone has faced racism. I've never been unaware of it. You are what you have to defend and that's really how it comes down," he said. "If there is a way to incorporate that in a story, that only enhances the story. To get to a level where it doesn't matter, that's not interesting. Go to the controversy. Go to the part that makes you uncomfortable." Quite in the vein of Petey Greene himself. "Talk To Me," which also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Inside Man"), Taraji Henson ("Hustle & Flow"), Cedric the Entertainer, Martin Sheen, and Mike Epps, opens today. For more on the film check out www.focusfeatures.com/talktome/. For more on issues in Darfur and how you can help, go to http://www.enoughproject.org/.
Blonsky Goes From Scooping Ice Cream To Snagging Lead In A Major Hollywood
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Movie Critic
(July 14, 2007) HOLLYWOOD–Hairspray star Nikki Blonsky is short, hefty and looks like a man. Yet life is sweet for this 18-year-old charmer. Sweeter even than the ice cream she dished at Cold Stone Creamery in her hometown of Great Neck, N.Y., before being scooped, without prior film experience, for one of the year's biggest roles. Not many actresses would appreciate the opening description of this story, even if the male resemblance were to John Travolta (more on that later). Until recently, Blonsky would have been one of them. She used to cry at the cruel taunts of schoolmates. But now she's a textbook example of turning a negative into a positive. "I'm just a teenager with a dream playing a teenager with a dream!" Blonsky said, still bubbling after hours of interviews. The 4-foot-10 dynamo, dressed this day in a floral robe over a white tank top, was the perfect size for the lead role of Tracy Turnblad, the "pleasantly plump" dancing queen in the 1962 Baltimore of Hairspray, opening July 20 as the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical spun from a John Waters film of the same name. She's wanted the role since she saw the musical on her 15th birthday. She was then too young to be in the stage version, but she was just the right age when filming of the new Hairspray movie began last summer in Toronto and Hamilton.
Blonsky has more going for her than just unusual physical attributes. She's also a first-rate singer and dancer, skills honed through performances in high school productions of Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, Kiss Me, Kate and Carmen (she sang lead in the latter). "I think she's phenomenal," said Travolta, who plays Tracy's mother Edna in Hairspray, complete with falsies and a rubber rump. "She came from Cold Stone and high school, and how did that happen? It's other-worldliness to be that sophisticated without the level of experience. It's amazing. It's wild." Blonsky and Travolta hit it off right away, when they first met after she'd beaten several other wannabe Tracys in a series of gruelling auditions. "The first thing I said to her was, `Come to momma!' when I saw her in my regular clothes," Travolta joked. When he climbed into his Edna fat suit, the joke became real: Travolta really did look like he could be Blonsky's mother. "We looked at each other and at the same time we said, `We look alike!' Blonsky recalled. "And being told you look like John Travolta is not a bad thing." There was an unexpected benefit to playing Tracy, apart from the chance to sing and dance alongside such talent as co-stars Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Zac Efron.
Hairspray is a comedy, but it has powerful messages about racial equality and personal empowerment. For Blonsky, it really hit home. "The message of the film is acceptance. Acceptance of every size, shape, nationality, race, religion, everything. "Just pure acceptance, because we take so much time out of our daily lives to judge other people. I think if we just accepted everybody, we'd live in a much more peaceful world. I think it would be a lot easier to get along." Blonsky sounds exactly like Tracy when she talks like that. But she and her character seem to be leading parallel lives. "I was made fun of terribly in school because of my different shape and because I was short and because I just didn't fit in ... So I took everything that happened with my own life and just put it into Tracy's life, and it kind of just worked, just in a different time period." Blonsky got to realize another ambition: to sing and dance with Travolta, whose musicals she adores. Her fondest memory of working with him was a day when he spontaneously broke into his Danny Zuko character from Grease. "He stayed in (his Edna) character most of the time. The only time he broke character was when we were outside filming and it was cold. And I said, `I've got a chill.' My body shook. "And he said (belting out a Grease tune), `I got chills! They're multiplying!' And he did the whole thing, and I just stood there dumbfounded, like, `Oh my god, Danny Zuko! But it's Edna! I don't know what's going on!' It was unbelievable." Blonsky is convinced she would react the same way Tracy does in Hairspray, fighting for equality and pursuing personal goals. She's already doing that. "It's exciting to now be able to spread the word with the role to little kids out there. You don't have to be a certain size or a certain shape or whatever to follow your dreams and to be what you really want to be. "If you have a dream, go after it, because you never know what can happen. I'm living proof."
Scorsese's Confident, Trusted Cutter
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Geoff Pevere
(July 13, 2007) Thelma Schoonmaker calls editing the movies of Martin Scorsese, for which she is about to be granted a special International Achievement Award by Women in Film and Television- Toronto at a gala luncheon next week, "the best job in the whole world." The Oscar-winning 67-year-old Schoonmaker (Best Film Editing for Raging Bull) met Scorsese after fleeing her first cutting gig, a late-'60s stint spent working for "a butcher" who hacked various international art-house classics for late-night TV broadcast in New York. "When I would say to him, `You can't take a reel out of Rocco and his Brothers, he would just say, `Nobody looks at these things,' " Schoonmaker recalls. "But of course Marty was looking at them." She and Marty hit it off instantly when they met at New York University, but it would not be until the post-production of Raging Bull, Scorsese's scalding 1980 masterpiece about the boxer Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro), that the two became close friends and permanent collaborators.
"Raging Bull was staggering to work on," Schoonmaker recalls from the editing room where she's currently assembling Scorsese's personal documentary history of British movies. "I was well aware of how lucky I was to be in this extraordinary situation," she says. "That film is very unique. It stands on its own. It's just burned into the screen." The relationship between an editor and a filmmaker is an unusually intense and intimate one, but especially so when the filmmaker happens to be Scorsese. "He taught me everything I know," Schoonmaker admits. "He taught me how to edit. "We just trust each other completely," she explains. "He trusts me that I will always do the best for his footage, that I will work till I drop to get it right. "He says I bring humanity to the films," she adds, "that I have a way of bringing some things out in the actors because of the way I see it." Since forging their relationship in the molten heat of Raging Bull, Schoonmaker and Scorsese have collaborated on several features and documentaries, including The King of Comedy, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, Cape Fear, Casino, Kundun, Gangs of New York and The Departed. Theirs has become one of the contemporary American cinema's most vital creative alliances, but it comes out of a certain fascinating filmmaking tradition – that of women editors working harmoniously with otherwise "difficult" directors.
Schoonmaker points out that D.W. Griffith's editor was a woman, as were some the cutters for Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang. "I think the women have a particular ability to work with strong directors," she observes. "They can collaborate. Maybe there's less of an ego battle. "I'm not a person who believes in the great difference between women and men as editors," she stresses. "But I do think that quality is key. We're very good at organizing and discipline and patience, and patience is 50 per cent of editing. You have to keep banging away at something until you get it to work. I think women are maybe better at that." Musing on the oft-noted temperamental bipolarity between herself and her boss, Schoonmaker says: "Our personalities are very different. I'm much calmer and more steady than he is. He's very emotional, which is why he's such a great artist. That combination works very well chemically." She also insists that Scorsese's legendary intensity is perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. "People expect artists to be too normal, I think. I've been around enough of them now to see that they're very extraordinary human beings who behave differently than ordinary human beings. If they weren't as sensitive as they are they wouldn't be great artists. "They are not the same as us," she says. "People should just learn to accept that."
Nitro Explodes At The Box Office
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Matthew Hays
(July 16, 2007) MONTREAL — Imagine a Canadian film opening during a summer holiday weekend and bolting to No. 1 on the box-office charts, edging out the latest Pixar animated entry and a Bruce Willis action movie. To most in Canada, that scenario would be akin to science fiction. But not in Quebec. On the July 1 holiday weekend, Ratatouille and the latest in the Die Hard franchise topped the box office in North America, but in Quebec, both were upstaged by Nitro, a Quebec action movie that took in $1.2-million in three days. Word of mouth meant an expansion of screens, and after 10 days, the film broke the $2-million mark. Directed by Alain Desrochers (who helmed many of the episodes of the hit series Les Bougon), Nitro has Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge playing Max, a man desperately trying to find a heart for his ailing girlfriend, who will soon die without a transplant. This means Max must get involved with the criminal element he thought he'd left behind for good.
Lucie Laurier (Bon Cop, Bad Cop) plays the bad girl who Max finds himself alongside once more. She's been getting critical praise in Quebec newspapers for the role. Nitro's success is the kind Canadian filmmakers outside of Quebec long for, but it's becoming an increasingly familiar scenario in the province. "Obviously, this is a very exciting moment for us," says Patrick Roy, president of Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm, Nitro's distributor. "People have responded so well to Nitro. It's got action, but it's also emotional. I think people in Quebec appreciate seeing something they've never seen before, and up until now, we haven't done many action movies. A few years ago, there was this great moment in Quebec cinema, when Les Invasions barbares won the Oscar and La Grande séduction was doing so well. We all hoped that we could maintain that momentum and, by and large, we have." There have been popular movies made in the rest of Canada too, notably Sarah Polley's directorial debut Away from Her, which has won critical acclaim across North America and is earning respectable box office, and Deepa Mehta received an Oscar nomination for Water. But Quebec's more numerous successes indicate something very impressive: a cinema that is actually popular with a majority of Quebeckers. In March, the federal government's film-funding body, Telefilm Canada, released a list of the top 12 most commercially successful Canadian features since 2001. All were from Quebec, and all were in French, except for the bilingual Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Mambo Italiano (shot in Quebec in English). But the popularity of films like Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Nitro, which steal heavily from American genre movies, is lamented by some Quebec critics.
Writing in the weekly Montreal Mirror, Jeffrey Malecki saw Nitro as "indicative of Hollywood's omnipresent and seeping influence, even here in Quebec, where you'd hope for a little more resistance." Indeed, Quebec's burgeoning fortunes have prompted a debate between those who advocate for a more robust, popular industry that pleases the largest demographic possible, and the cinéma d'auteur - more personal, character-driven films that bear the signature of their directors. In 2001, Telefilm committed to making sure that at least 5 per cent of what played on Canadian film screens would be Canadian. That put huge pressure on Quebec's increasingly popular films, and resulted in Telefilm's envelope system, which meant that those producers who made the most money at the box office would get the most money during the next pay period. Many of Quebec's most famous auteurs cried foul, pointing out that such a system rewarded cheesy, soulless movies and was turning Quebec into Hollywood Nord. In July of last year, 43 filmmakers signed a public letter in La Presse denouncing Telefilm's policies and demanding more money for the film sector. Signees included Robert Lepage, Denis Villeneuve and Léa Pool. (Telefilm has not offered any new funds, but it has altered its policy.)
But others have no problem with Quebec cinema's more commercial aspirations. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with making a good action movie," says Kevin Laforest, critic for the French-language weekly Voir. "I loved the action in Nitro. It was the melodrama in the film that was bad - I kept wanting them to get back to the action. What's wrong with an all-out action movie? It's one of the purest forms of cinema. There's room for many different kinds of movies in Quebec."
The David And Viggo Show
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman
(July 18, 2007) Two years ago, director David Cronenberg and actor Viggo Mortensen had a huge triumph with the world premiere of A History of Violence at the Toronto International Film Festival. And when they stroll down the red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall before dusk on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the 2007 festival, you could be pardoned for having a flash of déjà vu. Yes, it's another Toronto International Film Festival; another world premiere; another night at Roy Thomson Hall; and, once again, the Star has learned, Cronenberg will occupy what some regard as the most desirable slot in the festival: the early gala on the first Saturday. This time, the movie is called Eastern Promises, and unlike their last co-venture, Cronenberg and Mortensen are collaborating on a movie produced by a Canadian by the name of Robert Lantos, rather than a U.S. producer. This time, instead of telling a story about leading a double life in Middle America, they have a tale about Russian mobsters in London. But as was the case with A History of Violence, the new movie is considered a bit too shocking, edgy and downright disturbing to be selected for the opening night gala. (That honour, as previously announced, goes to another Lantos production, Fugitive Pieces).
Cronenberg and Mortensen popped up in person at yesterday's crowded announcement bash at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, which put the spotlight on an impressive line-up of Canadian movies to be screened at this year's festival. While filming, Cronenberg noted, his script about Russians conspiring in deadly plots in London suddenly became not just a hot topic but, as Cronenberg put it, "radioactive hot," converging with sensational headlines about assassination. According to Mortensen, making The History of Violence seems, in retrospect, like a rehearsal for doing Eastern Promises. "By now, David and I have a shorthand way of working. We know the good, the bad and the ugly about each other." Denys Arcand's Days of Darkness, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Festival, will be the third Canadian gala. Six other Canadian movies will be screened in the Special Presentations program at the Elgin Theatre, which has become almost as glittery as the galas:
Charles Dutton In Director’s Chair For
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 13, 2007) *Charles Dutton will star in and direct the Lifetime original movie "Racing for Time," based on the true story of a prison guard who creates an unconventional sports program for some of the toughest and most violent female offenders at a juvenile correctional facility. Dutton will play the guard, Noel Chesnut, who uses the program in an effort teach the offenders teamwork, discipline and self-esteem and to break down racial divides. Elizabeth Pena co-stars in the movie, scheduled to premiere next year. Dutton, who recently co-starred in the CBS series "Threshold," won two Emmys for guest-starring roles in ABC's "The Practice" and CBS' "Without a Trace" and another Emmy for directing the HBO miniseries "The Corner." He also received Tony nods for "The Piano Lesson" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and NAACP Image Awards for the TV movie "D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear" and the Fox series "Roc," the latter on which he also served as executive producer.
Sutherland's Latest TV Production Dramatizes Gun Culture
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Television Columnist
(July 15, 2007) HAMILTON–The stripper with the faux fur white bikini bottom glides languidly up and down the centre pole as her few customers leer and smirk. One of her associates obliges by trying to wrap herself around a particularly chubby customer in a lap dance that will not quit. Yet another struts by asking for tips for which she'll take off her top. Then I realize I'm not in some dank low-ceilinged suburban watering hole. A guard of some sort is shaking his head and asking me to leave. And he points to the sign. It simply reads "Guns!" I've wandered onto the closed set of David "Sudz" Sutherland's latest TV production, a two-part, four-hour CBC-TV miniseries dramatizing the gun culture that is slowly but surely emerging in Canada's larger cities. And then I hear Sutherland say "Cut!" And the strippers slither into their robes and the customers turn out to be grinning actors. Week one of a nine-week shoot and already Guns is causing controversy. The genial Sutherland says he wants to expose the expanding trafficking in guns that is proving so unsettling to Toronto residents. "We've had drug trafficking, trafficking in humans, now it's guns and it is already out of control," Sutherland says. He took enormous chances last season with his CTV TV movie Doomstown that dramatized the mounting violence and heavy illegal drug deals going on in Toronto's inner city housing developments.
"Now, we're onto something ever bigger," he says pointing to wife Jennifer Holness, who co-wrote the screenplay and was the one to pull in the star names to back up the project. "Colm Feore took a look at the script and was the first to say he wanted to come aboard," she says. "Then I got it to Elisha Cuthbert (24) and she had to do it. Then I got Gregory Smith (Everwood) and he wanted in. Then Shawn Doyle . . ." "All we want to do is tell the truth. Why is that so unsettling for some people?" Sutherland later asks as he has a hasty dinner in the lunch room. "It is fiction, yes, but based on true stories. I did my research with the police to find where thousands of guns are coming from. "But who is bringing them in? They're people you wouldn't expect: Seniors returning from Florida, either knowingly or unknowingly. Customs rarely stops them. I was told of cases being parachuted into the country. Boats are becoming more popular – guns are right in there with the cigarettes and bananas. Reservations are another stopoff point." Holness, who says she's a product of Toronto urban housing, says it's become part of the culture of Caribbean blacks. "In my day we didn't hear of guns. Knives, yes, but today if a kid is a member of a gang, he must have the gun as necessary paraphernalia." How violent is Guns going to be? Sutherland says, "Well, it is called Guns. There are a lot of guns in it. There is shooting. People die. It's life today for many young people." And Holness adds, "We had it all passed by CBC. In one scene where a car is hit, they were the ones who suggested it blow up into a fireball."
In Doomstown, Sutherland walked up to a problem and examined it dramatically, without attempting to explain it away. He wanted viewers to understand the roots of that violence, where it stemmed from. And it's the same with Guns. "In that particular black society there are few fathers around. I always had my father there to guide me. So I survived. I've heard that charge I'm not promoting black society. Not true. But I can't sugarcoat very real problems. I can't explain it away, the violence. As a writer I can only dramatize it, offer some solutions. If I can't be completely truthful why do it?" Sitting by herself, waiting for her scene is Elisha Cuthbert, who is working around Guns. "I had to fly to L.A. for two days of press for the film Captivity. Then it's back here for more scenes, then I'll be away again. I was only too happy this all worked out for me, the script just hit me, I had to do it." Later on at lunch, she showed off the whole Cuthbert family – dad, mom and siblings had driven in from Montreal to be with her. I reminded Cuthbert of the first time we'd met: her TV film Lucky Girl was coming on CTV and I predicted she'd win awards for it – and she did indeed cop a Gemini. At 18, she moved to L.A., hit it big in the first season of 24 as the daughter of Keifer Sutherland and Leslie Hope ("two more Canadians!"), then went the theatrical route with The Girl Next Door and House of Wax. Now a surprisingly mature 25-year-old, she says making independent films back in Canada is certainly part of her game plan. "I play a seemingly nice girl, a philosophy major, who hooks up with a bad boy (Smith) and really loses her way ... The way it was written grabbed me, there was a lot of insight there." Later at lunch, mama Cuthbert gave Sutherland permission to slap her back if she wasn't co-operating – does this family know how popular their film star daughter is?
Just as different in temperament is Gregory Smith, another young Canadian find, who plated Ephram so affectingly for four seasons on the prime time WB soap Everwood. He last visited Toronto during the CTV launch as a gangly 18-year-old. Says Smith: "A lot happened to me in those four years. Look! I grew facial hair, which I thought would never come. I'm not that angst-ridden teen although it's hard convincing others because the reruns are on. So this part, mixed up Bobby, he's a real step to maturity. The bad guy, yes, but you'll understand why." One of the few holdovers from Doomstown is KC Collins (as Derek), the black youth trying to escape his past. He's studying journalism, trying ever so slowly to leave the gang and forge new roots. "But his past keeps intruding on me." Another Canadian who also works in L.A., Collins says "You go where the work is. I'm hoping there'll be more projects for black Canadians. Sudz is opening a lot of doors for us, a whole lot of doors." Some scenes will later be filmed in Toronto including a key shooting scene at Yonge and Gould, plus scenes at Old City Hall and the Mayor's office. But for now, the Sutherland family has moved to rented quarters in Hamilton – where lower expenses and higher tax credits have lured the shoot – to escape the two-hour commute endured by other cast and crew members. Known as a perfectionist, Sutherland was heard to mutter at one point, as darkness closed on the night club setting, "I'll retire before we get this scene right." He later said he thought the project was over when a new regime came to power at CBC. "Then they asked us to stay right at it and we breathed easier again." Sutherland says about the violence in his films: "Might as well blame it on hip hop. It's so entrancing. I was walking along the street listening with my iPod and I bought this Muslim paper just to see what was happening. A white guy across the street started hassling me and with the hip hop on I almost challenged him although he was twice my size. "So on that day I blamed it all on hip hop."
Isaiah Washington Hired For Bionic Woman
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lynn Elber, Associated Press
(July 17, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Isaiah Washington, bouncing back from his ``Grey's Anatomy" firing with a role on a new NBC drama and prospects for his own network series, said Monday he's grateful for an unexpected second chance. "I'm humbled by this opportunity," Washington told The Associated Press, shortly before NBC announced he would be joining its new series "Bionic Woman" for a five-episode arc. Washington and NBC Universal Studios also are developing an action series. He said his dismissal from ABC's hit medical show after his repeated use of an anti-gay slur was "an unfortunate misunderstanding for everyone" that he was eager to move past. "What I always wanted to put at the forefront is my creativity, that thing I want to do, which is act," Washington said. He was brought to NBC by Ben Silverman, the recently appointed co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. It was a comment to a mutual friend that led to a meeting with Silverman just after Washington lost his ABC job, he said. Silverman, recalling their June 7 get-together, said he was surprised to learn Washington had just been fired. "`Gosh, it would great to get him, get a great actor on our air,'" Silverman recalled thinking. "It's like A-Rod leaving the Yankees in midseason.''
Asked if he was concerned that Washington was bringing baggage to NBC, Silverman said he wasn't. The focus will be on the actor's work and his contribution to "Bionic Woman," which Silverman described as "one of our most important shows.'' "I really thought about him as an actor. ... I feel like he's a wonderful actor and everyone deserves a second chance," he told The AP. Washington's hiring at General Electric Co.-owned NBC had an unlikely genesis. The day that Washington learned ABC was not picking up his option for "Grey's Anatomy," he and the Ghanian-born fashion designer Oswald Boateng were discussing an African aid event. When Boateng learned of his situation, the designer called his pal Silverman, Washington said. Silverman invited them to join him at a party at a Beverly Hills restaurant. The two enjoyed a friendly evening, the actor said. "`You're not just going to be golfing, reading books. You're coming to NBC,'" Washington said the executive told him. Washington assumed Silverman was just being kind. "I'm gonna go home and cry in my bed," he recalled thinking. But the next day he got a call from his agent saying that Silverman wanted him to be part of NBC.
On "Bionic Woman," based on the 1970s show, Washington will play "a mysterious person who is brought into the enigmatic scientific organization" responsible for creating bionic Jamie Sommers (Michelle Ryan), according to NBC. NBC and its studio also are developing what was described as an ``action-series project" with Washington that is based on an idea of his. Washington was booted from his role as a surgeon on "Grey's Anatomy" after he used an anti-gay epithet backstage at the Golden Globe Awards in January while denying he'd used it previously on the set against cast mate T.R. Knight. He publicly apologized and tried to make amends by meeting with gay-rights organizations and filming a public-service announcement calling for tolerance. In subsequent interviews, Washington has said he was trying to address problems of cast tardiness when he got into a tiff with co-star Patrick Dempsey. He's learned from the experience, he said, including "how you deal with certain stresses.'' "If there are issues with other actors, it's not my problem. I'm not a hero, baby sitter, big brother. I'm the employee, too,'' Washington said. As for Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC and Knight, "That chapter is closed. I wish them well," Washington said.
Linus Roache To Join 'Law & Order'
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(July 18, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Law & Order criminals will face a new prosecutor next season. Linus Roache is joining the cast as assistant district attorney after Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) vacates the job to serve as New York district attorney, NBC announced. The English-born Roache starred last season in NBC's short-lived Kidnapped and appeared in the films Batman Begins and The Chronicles of Riddick. "I think he and Sam are going to raise the bar and add intellect and passion" to the "order" half of Law & Order, series creator and executive producer Dick Wolf said in a statement Tuesday. McCoy is taking over from New York D.A. Arthur Branch, who was played by Fred Thompson. A former U.S. senator, Thompson asked to be released from the drama as he weighs a bid for the Republican nomination for president.
Under The Big Top At Cirque Du Shanghai
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Geoffrey York
(July 13, 2007) SHANGHAI — In the go-go capitalist cacophony of Shanghai, it can be difficult for a Canadian cultural troupe to hold the attention of the city's tireless tycoons and wheeler-dealers. As the acrobats of Cirque du Soleil soared through the air in their impressive trapeze acts this month, their darkened tent was speckled with the bright glow of cellphones, as several spectators whispered urgently about their next business deals. In the VIP section, affluent young men rushed in and out of their seats, making and taking calls. But even if some of those in the crowd were distracted by other seductions, Cirque is counting this as a successful entry into a crucial new market. Its current two-month run with its Quidam show in Shanghai is its first-ever appearance in mainland China, and a harbinger of an aggressive new push into Asian markets. “It's a major, major breakthrough for us,” says Daniel Lamarre, president and chief operating officer of Cirque du Soleil, as he arrived for the show's premiere last month in China's biggest city. “You know the importance of China. It's growing at a very rapid pace, and we're one of the few foreign cultural organizations that will establish itself here. I cannot tell you how important this is strategically for us, in terms of the future of our organization in Asia.” Cirque is also in the midst of establishing a permanent new show in Tokyo and another in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. Both of those shows will make their debut next year. The company has also performed in Hong Kong in the past. But the show in Shanghai, which continues until Aug. 26, is its first appearance on the Chinese mainland.
According to Lamarre, it took 20 years for Cirque to cultivate the political and business relationships that allowed it to open in Shanghai – one of the most tightly controlled cities in China, despite its pre-Communist reputation for decadence and debauchery. By cracking the Shanghai market, Cirque has made a giant step toward Asian success. It has also demonstrated that Cirque still ranks as Canada's top cultural export, even in faraway markets. The Montreal-based company remains the biggest single influence on the Canadian cultural brand overseas. “The focus of our organization in the next few years is going to be quite a bit here in Asia,” says Lamarre. “You can't develop Asia as a whole without a presence in mainland China, and that's why we need to be very successful here. And all the preliminary indications are looking very, very positive for us.” In truth, there was little risk that Cirque would fail in Shanghai. Its entire two-month run was guaranteed by local promoters and backed by the state-controlled media, with all tickets presold to the sponsoring organizers. The show was promoted as the first “countdown event” in the period leading up to the 2010 Shanghai Expo. With such powerful government support on its side, Cirque could be confident that the city would not allow it to fail. That, even though ticket prices are staggeringly expensive by Chinese standards. VIP tickets are 2,000 yuan each (about $280) – the equivalent of two months' wages for a Chinese factory worker. Even the cheapest tickets are 150 yuan (about $20), or almost a week's income for many peasants. Despite the high prices, seats have been generally full at Cirque's 2,500-seat main tent, the Grand Chapiteau, erected in an empty lot in Pudong, an ultramodern, skyscraper-filled suburb of Shanghai. But many patrons are not paying full price – an old tradition in China, where people often have government connections. (Scalpers have been offering tickets for 20 to 40 per cent below the official price.) In any case, although China still has masses of impoverished peasants and labourers, Cirque is targeting the more affluent classes. “The numbers are huge,” says Lamarre. “When you're talking about the middle class in China, meaning the people who can afford those kinds of tickets, you're talking about 200 million people. So, yes, it's a small portion of the 1.3 billion population. But if you have 200 million people as your customer base, it's still quite unique for us.”
With its long and rich tradition of acrobatics, China could have been a difficult country for Cirque to impress. Chinese audiences have been watching acrobatics for centuries; they're almost blasé about the physical talents of Cirque's performers. Still, while spectators admitted they were confused by the modern Canadian twist on an ancient art, others expressed admiration for how Cirque has added a layer of imagination and showmanship to traditional acrobatic skills. “The technical abilities of Chinese acrobats are peerless in the world, but what Quidam does is to teach us a thing or two about creativity,” wrote a reviewer in Xinmin Evening News, one of the most popular Shanghai newspapers. “Instead of merely presenting a series of acrobatic acts that have nothing to do with each other, Quidam seamlessly fuses acrobatic manoeuvres into a satisfying storyline, elevating acrobatics to an art form.” While many ordinary Shanghai spectators said the Cirque show was overpriced, they wanted to see it anyway, thanks to the troupe's international reputation. “The show had too many Western elements,” said one man, surnamed Fu, who took his six-year-old son to see Quidam. “I couldn't understand it at all. There weren't even Chinese subtitles. But I don't regret attending. I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about.” Cirque du Soleil has had a long association with Chinese schools of acrobatics and circus performers. Lamarre estimates that the company employs about 100 Chinese performers in its 14 permanent and touring shows. In the Shanghai edition, there are more than 50 performers from 14 countries, including four from China. “We've had the influence of Chinese circus, for sure, but we've also had the influence of Russian circus, French circus, Italian circus and so on, and that's what makes Cirque du Soleil so unique,” says Lamarre. “We have 42 different nationalities working for our organization.”
Lamarre adds that he hopes Cirque can establish a permanent presence in Shanghai or Beijing within the next four years. The two big metropolises are both bidding for the right to host a permanent Cirque show – but Shanghai is the most likely to win out. “If we follow our normal development pattern, we like to go into a city like Shanghai for two or three different touring shows, to really build the brand. Then, if the market is ready, we could look at a permanent show,” he says. “We've already had a lot of conversations with Shanghai about it. We're obviously courted by the two cities, Shanghai and Beijing. If I had to bet today, I would think that Shanghai makes more sense to us, but I will not discourage Beijing.” Since its creation in 1984, Cirque has become an increasingly global company, performing shows in more than 100 cities around the world. Its global revenue this year is about $700-million, and its revenue is continuing to grow at 15 per cent annually, Lamarre says. With a new toehold in Asia, those numbers aren't likely to wane any time soon.
Here's Seany: Cullen Tries Out His Own
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler
(July 12, 2007) Cancer kills, but not always, as Sean Cullen found out. Hosting The Sean Schau, his monthly talk-variety show at Toronto's Drake Hotel recently, the fleet-brained funnyman was stumped - flummoxed by his bulgy, sickly guest, "Cancer." Bruce Horak, garbed in a lumpy gold bodysuit and in character as the tumour-riddled embodiment of a brutal sickness, had just finished a spry song-and-dance number when he popped over to Cullen's desk for a chitchat. "But, but, you kill people," Cullen said to Cancer, clearly unprepared to deal with a paradoxically cheerful disease. Cancer explained that he loved people greatly, and that his tumours were his way of showing it. "You killed my father," Cullen soberly continued. To that the audience squirmed and groaned, and did not laugh. Cullen, such an instinctual and nimble comic artist, was struggling, which was something to see. How could someone with such a firm grip on the absurd be so uncomfortable in the face of full-on wackiness? "We weren't connecting well," Cullen says later, seated on a park bench near his downtown home. "He had a kind of shtick that he was doing. The audience was puzzled by it, I think."
It wasn't just the audience that was bewildered, but Cullen too. Horak, who performs This Is Cancer as part of the current Toronto Fringe Festival, was playing to the audience, in character, rather than chatting guest-to-host. "I had a hard time with that because of the subject matter," Cullen explains. "I tried to break through, to talk as people, because he is, obviously, a heightened, weird character." There's a thoughtful smile to Cullen's face as he recalls the Cancer spot. An awkward guest is a challenge, which is exactly what he's looking for. His calendar is booked with bill-paying corporate gigs, while various writing projects occupy him to no end. But these aren't tests, and neither are stand-up gigs. "It's easy for me to go to the Rivoli and do 10 minutes," the 41-year-old performer says. "It's like falling off a log. I don't feel like I ever learn anything from doing it." And so, Cullen drifted from his roots, appearing less and less in front of club audiences. His fans? They had no chance to see him. Frustrated, Cullen approached the Drake Hotel programmers, who were happy to give Cullen the Underground room for a free-form variety show. "I just thought it was time to get back in touch with performing live," Cullen says, "and to try and build a groundswell." In many ways, The Sean Schau shares the standard gab-show format: celebrity guests (Toronto Mayor David Miller is scheduled for September), a monologue, prominent musical acts and a house band that includes his wife, drummer Kim Temple-Cullen. But there are quirky bits as well, including a bizarre history-song each show, delivered in the wild-eyed manner of Jack Black.
A mischief-maker, Cullen delights in having guests such as the CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos deliver profane promo-spots straight from a cue card. The unsuspecting celebrities have no idea what they are saying until they're actually say it. "They can't sensor themselves," Cullen says devilishly. Another charming oddity is the show's co-host, the Orb. "It's so spherical, it's a miracle," Cullen will croon at the Underground, in an unctuous lounge manner. "Got myself an orb!" The pulsating bulb - "not a traditional sidekick," allows Cullen - is a witty ball, with various comics providing the disembodied voice. The biggest quirk and prize, though, is the host himself. Influenced by Monty Python and the absurdist tendencies of David Letterman, Cullen is fearless and freely associative. There's no reason, for example, that repeating the name of hockey player Boyd Devereux over and over again in a picturesque, southern antebellum accent should be funny - it just is, and it's a comic's job to pick up on it. "Living in the moment is so important for what I do," Cullen says. "Being available and aware of what's going on as we pass through it. I think that's why people come to the show. It's always different, it's always going to be something weird." The Sean Schau plays at the Drake Hotel in Toronto tonight at 8:30 (416-531-5042).
Stratford Festival Gets A New Name
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(July 18, 2007) Shakespeare may have asked "What's in a name?" but the new regime at the Stratford Festival obviously thinks what you call yourself is pretty important. Starting this November, the organization will be known as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival instead of the Stratford Festival of Canada. "Shakespeare is central to what we do," says general director Antoni Cimolino, "so we're making his name central to ours." This change comes along with an announcement of the classical plays (heavy on the Shakespeare) being presented next season by the new artistic directorship of Des McAnuff, Marti Maraden and Don Shipley. As previously reported in the Star, the Bard will be represented in 2008 by Hamlet (directed by Adrian Noble), The Taming of the Shrew (Peter Hinton), Romeo and Juliet (Des McAnuff) and All's Well That Ends Well (Marti Maraden). A new addition was Love's Labour's Lost, to be mounted by former festival artistic director Michael Langham. Other works announced yesterday include Euripides' The Trojan Women, Lope De Vega's Fuente Ovejuna and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Emilia Galotti. The latter two works will be staged by England's Laurence Boswell and Germany's Michael Thalheimer. More projects are to be announced shortly, including a pair of musicals (said to be Cabaret and The Music Man) and "other dramas," rumoured to include a production of Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, starring Christopher Plummer.
Factory Theatre also unveiled its 38th season yesterday, devoted to the Canadian playwright. A revival of Andrew Moodie's 2006 hit, The Real McCoy, starts things off in October, to be followed by Linda Griffiths' Age of Arousal, as well as a double bill from acclaimed new author Hannah Moscovitch, The Russian Play/Essay. Artistic director Ken Gass brings Beyond Mozambique by George F. Walker back to Factory for the first time since its 1978 premiere and Vancouver's exciting Theatre Replacement company will present The Sexual Practices of the Japanese. Theatre Smith-Gilmour will launch The Mansfield Project and Factory will also continue its Crosscurrents Festival and Performance Spring. The musical that won't die, Evil Dead, announced its third and final extension through Sept. 8, after which it has to close due to prior commitments at the Diesel Playhouse. The hit show is continuing to play to sell-out crowds and on Aug. 11, Bruce Campbell, the star of the original cult films, will appear for a talk-back with fans. If you missed some great shows at the Fringe, you've got a second chance when Best of the Fringe starts at the Diesel Playhouse Cabaret on July 18. Expiry Dating; ... And Stockings for the Ladies; Curriculum Vitae; Two in the Bush; Funny Business: The Musical; Reesor and Show Stopping Number will be running in rep through Aug. 4. Go to www.dieselplayhouse.com for details. And one of those shows is going even further! Funny Business: The Musical proved so popular that its producers have announced an extended run (also at the Diesel Cabaret) from Aug. 17 to Oct. 7. For more information: www.funnybusinessthemusical.com
Brian McKnight To Star On Broadway
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 16, 2007) *R&B singer Brian McKnight will suit up as slick lawyer Billy Flynn in the Broadway run of Chicago. The singer kicks off a six-week limited engagement Oct. 8 through Nov. 18 at the Ambassador Theatre. He’ll tune-up for the New York performances as part of the Chicago national touring company from September 25 through October 7 at Washington D.C.'s Warner Theatre. Usher’s scheduled two-month engagement as Billy Flynn on Broadway came to an abrupt end in October after the entertainer fell ill. McKnight, meanwhile, can be heard every morning in Los Angeles as co-host of "The Brian McKnight Morning Show" on smooth jazz radio station KTWV The Wave. The Broadway cast of Chicago currently stars Lisa Rinna as Roxie Hart, Brenda Braxton as Velma Kelly, Harry Hamlin as Billy Flynn, Rob Bartlett as Amos Hart and Roz Ryan as Matron "Mama" Morton.
Recalls 'Sweet Prince'
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Columnist
(July 14, 2007) Anne Mirvish, who lived in the shadow of her famous husband for more than 60 years, stepped into the spotlight yesterday and delivered an unforgettably moving eulogy to the man known to everyone as "Honest Ed." Wearing an elegant black hat and, at 86, needing a wheelchair, she had to be carried up to the bimah of the Beth Tzedec synagogue. More than a thousand people, including political and showbiz luminaries, were gathered on a sunny morning to bid a fond farewell to the man who helped shape postwar Toronto by offering a unique combination of bargains and jokes to thousands of struggling people who needed both. "I feel I have been travelling through a surreal landscape," she said, speaking slowly in a firm voice without notes. "All the world's a stage," she added, quoting Shakespeare, "and my husband played many parts." She married him knowing he took such great care of his mother he was bound to be a reliable husband. He also turned out to be a brilliant business operator and a fine father to their only child, David. Her husband was a public figure with a gift for touching many lives, but Anne Mirvish was intensely private, passionate about her work as a sculptor, and devoted to the arts, including theatre and opera, which she coaxed him into attending. "Ed had a mind of his own and a unique sense of humour," she said yesterday, "but like many men, he could not express his deepest emotions. It was all inside.
"He was always aware of what was going on but he found it difficult to say `I love you.'" As a bride in 1941, those were the words she yearned to hear – but she had to wait a long time. Four years ago, at age 88, Ed was taken to hospital with double pneumonia and not expected to survive. Because this happened during the SARS outbreak, Anne was not allowed to visit him. But one day she got a message from Russell Lazar, long-time general manager at Honest Ed's. Ed had asked him to call Anne and tell her he loved her. "I became hysterical," Anne confessed yesterday. "I thought, now he tells me? At the time there was little hope he would leave the hospital, but miraculously he did, living at home for four more years with the help of a team of caregivers. He took piano lessons and, grudgingly, did exercises with a trainer. He liked to have Anne read him poems by Robert Burns. He rarely went out, but when he did, the two Mirvishes would appear in wheelchairs. Just over a year ago, David gave a party at the Princess of Wales Theatre to honour their 65th anniversary. During those last years, Ed would tell his wife: "We're a team. We did it together. We're good for each other." According to his widow, Ed wanted to please everyone. He would turn serious matters into a joke. He wanted to see people smile. Anne told the gathering she has not lost Ed, and never will. "He's in my memory, he's in my heart, and he's in my soul," she explained. And then, quoting Shakespeare once more, she added: "Good night, sweet prince."
Among his other honours, Ed was Toronto's honorary police chief. Suitably, a ceremonial band of Toronto officers ushered people in and out of the funeral and led the procession of cars to the Pardes Shalom Cemetery near Dufferin St. and Major MacKenzie Dr., where Mirvish was laid to rest. At the funeral, the only non-relative to speak was Premier Dalton McGuinty, who said: "Ed was a great man, and we loved him for it. By `we' I mean millions ... Just look at the faces of people walking past the store who feel they have lost a great friend." Among the faces in the crowd was Anne's close friend Marilyn Thomson, the widow of Ken Thomson. Politicians included David Miller, Olivia Chow and Jack Layton (who arrived on bikes), Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett, Mel Lastman and Hazel McCallion. From the arts world: Shirley Douglas, Jackie Burroughs, Jane Corkin, Sandra Shamas and New York artist Frank Stella, whose murals grace the walls of the Princess of Wales Theatre.
Master P Replaces Bill Clinton As NAACP
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 13, 2007) *Master P is used to filling in for folks at the last minute. The founder of No Limit records ended up stumbling through ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” when his son, Lil’ Romeo was injured and had to pull out. This week, the rap mogul replaced former President Bill Clinton as the youth keynote speaker at the NAACP’s annual convention in Detroit. Clinton cancelled his appearance at the 11th hour, though the reason was not immediately made clear. "It was on his calendar and it was on our program," said Deidre Malone, with the NAACP communications staff, according to the Detroit News. "We are not quite sure if the NAACP got a solid confirmation that he was coming, but we got a confirmation about an hour ago (10 a.m. Wednesday) that he won't be able to make it." NAACP organizers were hoping Clinton would accompany his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, for her scheduled appearance Thursday to speak to the convention along with seven other Democratic Presidential hopefuls.
Milan Pays Tribute To Memory Of Versace
Excerpt from www.thestar.com
(July 16, 2007) Milan paid tribute to Gianni Versace on the 10th anniversary of his murder, hosting a star-studded ballet performance at La Scala on Sunday night. The two-part ballet "Thank you, Gianni, with love," was written by Maurice Bejart, a choreographer for whom Versace designed stage costumes and a close friend of the late fashion designer. The event was expected to draw celebrities including supermodels Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer and British actress Elizabeth Hurley. Versace was gunned down at age 50 outside his oceanfront mansion in Miami Beach, Fla., on July 15, 1997, by Andrew Cunanan, who killed himself a few days later. Until his death, Versace's sexy and daring style had made him a favourite of rock singers, Hollywood stars and other celebrities. Upon Versace's death, his sister, Donatella, took over design, with brother Santo running the business. Other events to commemorate Versace's death include an exhibit of his sketches and theatre costumes installed on Milan streets, and the establishment of a scholarship in Versace's honour at the European Institute of Design in Milan. A native of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, Versace began designing ready-to-wear for other firms in 1972 in Milan. He launched the Gianni Versace label with an autumn-winter collection in 1978. In the 1980s, he gained fame with a flamboyant, glitzy style for both men and women. He often staged his fashion shows with blaring rock music and giant screens reproducing what was happening on the runway.
Durie's Dream Comes True
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter, Sports Reporter
(July 18, 2007) Here's the line on Andre Durie's CFL career so far: One touchdown, one paralyzed leg overcome, one seemingly impossible dream fulfilled. He's touched the ball only twice as an Argonaut and likely won't get his hands on it again this Saturday when, if he suits up at all, he'll be in a special teams role when Toronto plays at Calgary. But the Mississauga native's determination has authored an inspirational story that even he once believed could never happen. When Durie, inserted as a running back late in Toronto's win over the Stampeders last week, scampered 33 yards for a touchdown it was a moment that, as he put it, "seemed like a dream that I'd never be in." And, really, how could the 25-year-old ever have allowed his imagination to tease in that way? Sure, maybe it seemed like a realistic fantasy when he was a star running back at York University, setting school records with his explosive speed and breathtaking moves. Even a shot at the NFL might have been within his grasp. But not after his knee was ripped apart in 2005 on a play that left his left leg paralyzed for a year. Not when his dreams gave way to everyday reality, wishing he could walk without his foot flopping around as if it belonged to someone else. "I wanted to be able to lift my foot," he said. "I wanted to be able to move my toes. I wanted to be able to play with my kids. That was the main focus."
That focus was dramatically adjusted during that September game at Queen's University when he planted his left foot and felt a pop in his knee. An MRI revealed three torn ligaments, four torn muscles and a crushed nerve that caused his leg to go numb. It was a year before he could distinguish the difference between hot and cold with his toes or move his foot. After extensive rehab and reconstructive surgery, he began jogging last January. That gave way to sprinting in February. Then came an appearance at a CFL evaluation camp with other prospects in March. At that combine, Durie ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds. Impressive given his history but not enough for a team to waste a draft pick on him. "He'd come a long way but he was nowhere close to being the back he used to be," said Greg Mohns, the Argos director of player personnel. A couple of months later, his agent put word out that the running back had lowered his time to just over 4.3. Mohns didn't buy it but the Argos worked Durie out on their own. He ran 4.53 on an indoor track. Toronto was intrigued enough that he was invited to camp. Durie, who still can't move the big toe on his left foot, stuck around, eventually enjoying his "perfect moment," dancing to the end zone the first time he touched the ball as a pro.
While Durie's story is heartwarming, coach Mike Clemons said the team has to exercise caution with a player who has come a long way in a short time. It appears Jamel White and Jeff Johnson will be the starters in the backfield Saturday. "My eyes may have welled up a little bit when he scored that touchdown," said Clemons. "I think everybody is rooting for him but we also want to be realistic with where he is. We also understand he's a very young player who is playing his first football in two years. "He scored his first touchdown but he's got about 99 to go before it's all said and done so we're going to be patient," he said.
Bishop's Injury Casts Pall On Party
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Michael Grange
(July 13, 2007) It doesn't look as though Damon Allen is going to be getting his job back any time soon, but his team's quarterback situation is still uncertain. Riding the smoking-hot cannon otherwise known as quarterback Michael Bishop's right arm - for one half at least - the Toronto Argonauts improved to 2-1 on the season with a 48-15 win over the visiting Calgary Stampeders, 1-2. The victory improved the Argonauts' winning streak over the Stampeders to eight games and, more significant, it would have seemed to solidify Bishop's role as the starting pivot, as he completed 18 of 23 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns in just more than two quarters of work. But Bishop left the game early in the third quarter after quite likely breaking his right wrist as he tried to run for a touchdown and was tackled a yard short by Calgary's Anthony Gargiulo. Bishop was taken to the hospital, but no report was available, though Argonauts head coach Mike Clemons wasn't expecting good news. "We don't know anything at this point," Clemons said. "We do know it's a wrist, we do know it's his throwing hand and we do know it's more than a mild strain." Bishop was replaced with Mike McMahon. He quickly made his case for starting next week against Calgary by completing his first three passes, including his first Canadian Football League touchdown, an 11-yarder to Derrell Mitchell that made the score 41-0. It finished a 42-yard drive set up Orlando Steinauer's third interception of the game.
Six Argonauts scored touchdowns, including the first in the professional career of former York University star Andre Durie'. Toronto rolled up 403 yards of offence to 241 for Calgary, which hurt its cause with 10 turnovers to five for Toronto. McMahon's stint - completing six of 13 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown - was hard to judge, given the state of the game and that several late misses were attempts to help Mitchell set the record for Argonauts receiving yards. However, Mitchell fell 28 yards short. But he's looking forward to the chance to make his voice heard with a week to prepare and the possibility of his first CFL start, providing Allen doesn't get the nod. "It's an unfortunate situation when the guy in front of you gets hurt," said McMahon, who has been impressive in his brief bursts of playing time so far. "I'm not sure of the situation, but if [I get the start], you want all the reps [in practice] and a full week to prepare always the best scenario possible, as opposed to coming off the bench." The Argonauts also lost running back Jamel White to a possible concussion, while Andriano Belli and Kenny Wheaton also left the game with injuries. Bishop's best moment came on Toronto's second-to-last drive of the first half when he moved the team 92 yards in a minute by throwing six consecutive strikes, the last a 14-yard crossing route to Arland Bruce III that gave Toronto a 27-0 lead at the half.
Calgary didn't manage a touchdown until Jermaine Copeland's 33-yard catch with 2 minutes 39 seconds to play and a Brandon Browner interception return for a touchdown with 45 seconds left. Neither team was anywhere close to its best, each coming off a short week, but Calgary was clearly labouring. The Argos, or at least Bishop, got off to an iffy start as he gambled on a long pass on the Argonauts' first play from scrimmage, only to see Stampeders safety Trey Young outwrestle Arland Bruce III for the ball, giving the Toronto starter his first interception of the season. But he shook it off on the next possession, drilling four completions on a crisp 54-yard drive capped by a strike to Andre Talbot on a 10-yard corner route. The convert by Noel Prefontaine proved he's recovered from the concussion he suffered in the first week of the season and Toronto led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Cora Campbell Hopes Surviving Accident
Will Help Inspire Canadians To A Berth In Beijing
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman, Sports Reporter
(July 13, 2007) RIO DE JANEIRO–Even Bobby Baun would be impressed. Canadian water polo star Cora Campbell isn't letting a run-in two days ago with an 18-wheeler stand in the way of trying to help the team qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Campbell went flying off her bicycle when a transport truck clipped her from behind on Tuesday, the same day the Canadian women's water polo team was due to leave Montreal for the 2007 Pan Am Games. "She was lucky," said assistant coach Ahmed el-Awadi of Toronto. "Another foot and the truck would have run her over." Fortunately for Campbell, there were no broken bones and she didn't hit her head. Battered, bruised and bleeding, she called some teammates and they sprang into action. The team doctor was called, Campbell was rushed to emergency and a cut on her back was stitched up. Team officials called the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport to find out what pain and anti-inflammatory medication she could take that isn't on the banned list and bundled her onto the plane. "They gave me good drugs, they knocked me right out," said Campbell. "I don't remember much about the flight."
Campbell is a tough customer in one very gruelling sport. The enduring image of her as an international competitor over 16 years is of her sporting a black eye and a ripped bathing suit. Her litany of injuries in the pool have included a couple of separated shoulders – she played through the 2000 Sydney Olympics with one – three broken noses, a broken jaw and plenty of scars to remind her of the battles waged. "I was just hoping the truck would put something back in place," joked the 33-year-old from Calgary. Campbell was actually doing her last bit of cardio work before the trip when the accident happened. She was returning the mountain bike to team captain Krystina Alogbo. "The bike is pretty destroyed, which I felt bad about because it's not my bike," she said. Campbell has been getting constant physiotherapy treatment in the athletes' village and while she's not expecting to play in the opener against Brazil tomorrow, she expects to be back for the next game against Puerto Rico on Sunday.
She's critical to Canada's hopes to qualify for next summer's Olympics, which they can do here by winning the gold, but they're definite underdogs against the world No. 1 U.S. team. Campbell came back from retirement 18 months ago, more than anything because she felt the team lacked leadership and believed she could provide. She thinks her determination to still play despite the accident could serve as an inspiration to her younger teammates. "I hope so," she said. "I hope that they'll see how much I want it and that they say, `She got hit and she's still going to be there giving it her all.'" That fight is something Campbell has worried is missing from a team that she believes is more talented than any for which she's played. True to her warrior nature, she says "They have to be ready to die to win." "I just assumed everyone felt like that all the time, that you have to win," she said. "It really is an attitude. It can be taught. These young girls can learn to raise the bar, to get out of the comfort zone and go beyond what they ever thought they were capable. "You have to take what you thought you were capable of and do 10 times more.''
Raptor Kapono 'Just A Fun-Loving Guy'
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Sports Reporter
(July 13, 2007) Jason Kapono is California cool, a self-professed beach bum with a passion for golf and spending a shift or two at the deep fryer in his buddy's restaurant back home each summer because he's been doing it since he was a teenager. He says he doesn't take himself or life too seriously, preferring going through days with a sense of bemusement. As if to demonstrate how far he's set apart from the majority of his NBA brethren, the final note in his biography notes he has no tattoos. He's not exactly Charles Oakley-esque with a one-liner yet but there's still time. The newest Raptor brings with him a sense of humour and a playfulness that should sit well with a youngish team of guys who all get along. His general manager calls him "different, odd in many ways." If nothing else, he'll probably be one of the more quoted Raptors in the coming year. "I'm just a fun-loving guy. I'm carefree; that's kind of what I mean by `odd,'" the 26-year-old Kapono said yesterday. "A lot of stuff doesn't really have an effect on me, it doesn't bother me. I'm pretty carefree, pretty fun-loving and I just go with the flow." It's easier, of course, to go with the flow when you've just signed a contract for three years plus an option that could earn you $24 million (all figures U.S.), a rather dramatic increase from the $1.2 million Kapono made last season in Miami. Either salary would be enough to make him give up his summer gig as a deep fryer in his buddy's Long Beach, Calif., restaurant.
Here, the 6-foot-8 small forward will be given every opportunity to earn a spot in the starting lineup for Toronto. He was a second-round pick of Cleveland's in 2003, then bounced around three franchises in four years. He said back then he never thought he got enough credit for his game, whipping off a nice little quip that should make for lots of yuks with his European-trained Raptor teammates. "I should have left UCLA after my freshman year, played in Croatia, grown a beard and changed my name to Vladimir Kaponovich," he said then. Now, he says: "That was just a tongue-in-cheek type of comment. ... Other guys were getting drafted that I thought I should go higher than." And channelling Oakley one more time, he summed up his basketball philosophy in a way that would make the old guys proud. "I'm an off-the-ball player, which is a good thing here. A lot of guys in the league have to have the ball. You also have to mix in some guys who don't need the ball, coming off screens, playing off other guys, spacing, all the fundamentals that somehow have been lost over the last few years or something,'' Kapono said.
Wins 7th Stage Of Tour De France
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(July 14, 2007) LE GRAND BORNAND, France – Linus Gerdemann of Germany won today's seventh stage of the Tour de France to take the overall leader's yellow jersey as the race entered the Alps. Gerdemann broke from the main pack and other leading riders during the 197-kilometre ride from Bourg-en-Bresse to Le Grand-Bornand, featuring a winding ascent up La Colombiere Pass, the first Category 1 climb this year. The 24-year-old Gerdemann ended Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara's eight-day streak in the yellow jersey. The pack finished more than 3 1/2 minutes behind Gerdemann, and Cancellara trailed even farther behind. Gerdemann, a professional since 2001, clocked four hours 53 minutes 13 seconds. Inigo Landaluze of Spain was second, 46 seconds back, and David de la Fuente of Spain was third, 1:39 back. "It's unbelievable," said Gerdemann, who is riding in his first Tour. "I don't think I've ever ridden that fast ... today's the biggest day of my career." Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov, a pre-race favourite, rode through pain in his knees after crashing in Thursday's stage. He has stitches in each knee and a large bruise on his right buttock.
In last year's climb of the 16.1-kilometre La Colombiere ascent, 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis tested positive for synthetic testosterone after the 17th stage. An arbitration panel is deciding whether Landis should be allowed to keep his title. Gerdemann's victory was likely to lift spirits at his T-Mobile team, which has taken heavy blows from doping revelations over the last year. The team's former star, 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich, was disqualified from racing on the eve of the start of last year's Tour after his name turned up in a Spanish blood-doping investigation. In recent months, several former riders from the Telekom team – T-Mobile's predecessor – admitted to doping in the 1990s. "I want to thank all the TV viewers who follow the sport despite all the troubles that it is facing," Gerdemann said. "We all have to fight for a clean sport and show now that it's possible to win clean."
Wins Softball World Cup
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(July 14, 2007) OKLAHOMA CITY – Vicky Galindo hit a three-run home run and Jessica Mendoza drove in three runs to power the United States to a 9-0 win Saturday against the Dominican Republic at the World Cup of Softball. During an eight-run second inning, the U.S. (3-0) had nine consecutive batters reach on either a hit or a walk – including a two-run single by Mendoza and Galindo's first home run of the year to right-center field. Caitlin Lowe had three singles and scored twice, and Alicia Hollowell (1-0) threw three shutout innings as the Americans won their 19th straight game. Jennie Finch struck out all six batters she faced in relief before the game ended after five innings because of the mercy rule. The U.S. was to face top rival Japan later Saturday in a rematch of the past two World Cup finals. Japan won the title in 2005, and the Americans won it last year. Japan also handed the U.S. its last loss on Sept. 4 at the world championships. Cristina Gwyn threw 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief for the Dominican Republic (0-4), which is making its first World Cup appearance. Luisa Nunez singled with one out in the first for the team's only hit. Mendoza also had a sacrifice fly in the first inning to score Lowe. Mendoza is hitting .543 (19-for-35) with three home runs, 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored during her current 12-game hitting streak.
Biker Wins Canada's First Gold At Pan Am
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(July 14, 2007) RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Canada has its first gold medal at the 15th Pan American Games. Catherine Pendrel of Kamloops, B.C., won the women's mountain biking event Saturday morning to pick up the gold. The victory came in a time of one hour 46 minutes six seconds. "It feels great to be the first medal of the Games," said Pendrel. That was over a minute better than American Mary McConneloug, who finished in 1:47:44. "On the last lap, Mary McConneloug managed to overtake me, and I thought I would lose," said Pendrel. "I gave my best and recovered the lead in one of the last curves of the track." Tanya Hunks of Vancouver picked up Canada's second medal, a bronze in the women's 10-kilometre open water swimming event. Chloe Sutton of the U.S. won the gold in two hours 13 minutes 47.6 seconds, while Poliana Okimoto of Brazil was second in 2:13.48.4. Hunks took bronze, in the race held off the Copacabana beach, in 2:13.50.5. Philippe Dubreuil of Sherbrooke, Que., took fourth men's 10-K open water swim, while Jarrod Ballem of Charlottetown was eighth. Canada's women's soccer team cruised by Uruguay 7-0 in its opening game. Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, B.C., had a hat trick to lead Canada, while Randee Hermus of Langley, B.C., added a pair of goals. Diana Matheson of Oakville, Ont., and Melissa Tancredi of Ancaster, Ont., scored one apiece. The Canadians play Ecuador on Monday. Canada's men's and women's pairs won their opening round races in rowing Saturday. Chris Jarvis of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dan Casaca of Toronto were first in 6:43.28. The U.S. and Cuba took second and third. "We decided we needed to establish a good rhythm, especially in the second 500 metres," said Jarvis. "This was our first official race together and I think we sent a clear message that we are not here to play games, but to win." Zoe Hoskins of Edmonton, Alta., and Nathalie Maurer of North Vancouver, B.C., beat out Chile and Cuba to win their women's pairs heat.
Sisters Advance To Finals At World Youth Track And Field Championship
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(July 14, 2007) OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Surrey, B.C., sisters Christabel Nettey and Sabrina Nettey are headed to finals in the 100 hurdles and long jump, respectively, following Saturday's action at the IAAF World Youth track and field championships. In the 100 hurdles semifinals, Christabel Nettey qualified fourth overall for Sunday's final clocking 13.53 seconds. In the morning heats she had clocked a personal best 13.49. In the women's long jump qualifying Sabrina Nettey was fourth in her heat and fifth overall with a 6.07 metres to advance to Sunday's final. In other finals Saturday, Derek Drouin of Sarnia, Ont., was 10th in the men's high jump Saturday, Julie Labonte of Ste-Justine, Que., was 10th in the women's shotput, Jessica Furlan of Regina clocked a 6:42.12 for 14th place in the 2,000-metre steeplechase and Evan Dunfee of Richmond, B.C., was 23rd in the 10-kilometre racewalk clocking a 47:40.86. In the women's medley relay semi, Canada won its heat in 2:10.13, the fourth fastest time overall, to advance to Sunday's final. The Canadian runners were Loudia Laarman of Lethbridge, Alta., Shauna Malek of London, Ont., Alyssa Johnson of Winnipeg and Natalie Geiger of Stouffville, Ont.
Heat’s Zo Says He’ll Suit Up Again Next
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(July 18, 2007) *Although his decision was made weeks ago, Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning said Sunday he has decided to return to the team for the 2007-2008 season. The athlete, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2003, had considered retiring after the end of last season when the Heat was bounced out of the playoffs in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. "I want to redeem myself and try to help this team redeem ourselves as an organization and try to get back on track," Mourning said. "That wasn't the Miami team you saw in the playoffs last year. ... I was embarrassed. I was truly embarrassed by that outcome. I know for a fact we're a better team. It left a sour taste in my mouth and it's time to really end it all on the right note." Next season will be Mourning’s 15th in the NBA, not including a full year he missed with kidney problems. He averaged 8.6 points last season for the Heat, and his 5.44 blocks per 48 minutes led the NBA by a wide margin. He started more than half of Miami's games last season while Shaquille O'Neal recovered from knee surgery.
10 Most Effective Exercises
By Glenn Mueller, eDiets Senior Writer
Let's face it: Some exercises are simply more effective than others. If you are going to make the effort to incorporate regular exercise into your life, then you want to get the most out of each workout session. In order to help you get in the best shape of your life, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro Raphael Calzadilla provides a top-10 list of the most effective exercises out there. You’ll notice he didn’t say the best. "I tend to get a lot of requests for the best exercises from people who are really just looking for a magic bullet," Raphael says. It does take hard work to get in shape. Raphael recommends people follow a healthy meal plan and adopt an exercise regimen that includes both cardiovascular activity and resistance training. He also reminds people to consult their personal physician before beginning any new exercise routine.
Raphael believes certain exercises stand out in terms of overall effectiveness. Most of the exercises he selected involve compound movements, which impact multiple muscle groups. Though isolated movements are also good, Raphael believes performing exercises with compound movements can give you the best bang for your workout buck. "I also selected these exercises based on a balanced approach to overall fitness,” Raphael says. “Most people are out of balance with regards to strength and levels of flexibility." If you choose, Raphael says you can do these 10 exercises as an individual workout. He recommends doing 10-12 repetitions for the upper-body exercises and 10-15 repetitions for the lower-body exercises.
1. Dumbbell Chest Press: This exercise activates the muscles in the upper, middle and lower chest, as well as the shoulders and triceps. In order to complete this exercise, you need to lie on a flat bench with your spine in a neutral position. Now, hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level with your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbows facing outward. Contracting your chest muscles, press both of your arms upward above the chest until they are almost fully extended, with a slight bend in both elbows. Slowly return to the starting position. “It is important to maintain proper form throughout the movement,” Raphael says. “When you reach the top of the movement, do not fully lock your elbows. And be sure to contract the chest muscles, as opposed to just extending the arms.”
2. Cable Wide Over Grip Lat Pull-Down: This exercise impacts a number of muscles, including the upper back, the shoulder and the biceps. “Ideally, I would choose the chin-up, but most people are unable to do them,” Raphael says. “This exercise simulates the same movement, though. It is a good alternative until you are strong enough to perform chin-ups.” In order to perform this exercise, extend both arms up and reach for the straight bar. Now, sit tall with your knees supported under the leg pad -- with knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be a little more than shoulder-width apart, and you should use an overhand grip and keep a slight bend in the elbows. Relax your shoulders and keep your chest raised. Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows and stopping when the bar is just above your chest. Slowly return to the starting position and stop just short of the weight stack touching. “Do not rock your body when performing this exercise,” Raphael says. “And do not allow your upper back to round or your chest to cave in.”
3. Fitball Prone Trunk Extension: This exercise works your lower back. “Most people don’t work the lower back, and the lower back needs to be strengthened,” Raphael says. “You can also do this exercise in your own home if you own a fitball.” Lie on the fitball with your knees on the floor and your feet up on their toes. Place your hands behind your head. Maintain a neutral spine with your head and neck relaxed as a natural extension of the spine. Contracting the lower back muscles, raise your chest off the ball slightly. Now, slowly return to the starting position. “Exhale while lifting your body and inhale while returning to the starting position,” Raphael says. “Do not hyperextend your back or overdo the range of motion.”
4. Dumbbell Alternating Shoulder Press: This exercise impacts the entire range of muscles in your shoulders, as well as the biceps and triceps. Sit up straight on a bench with your feet comfortably resting on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle with your palms facing forward. When you do this exercise, your hands should be slightly higher than your shoulders. Contracting the shoulder muscles, raise one arm toward the ceiling and stop when your arm is fully extended, with a slight bend in the elbow. Slowly return your arm to the starting position. Raise and lower the other arm in the same manner. Alternate the right and left sides in order to complete the set. “You don’t have to do one arm at a time,” Raphael says. “They can both go up at the same time.”
5. Barbell Close Stance Squat: This exercise works the butt, quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thighs and outer thighs. Stand tall with your feet closer than shoulder-width apart, with a slight bend in the knees. Place a barbell across your shoulders. Be sure the bar is not resting on your neck. Contracting the quadriceps muscles, begin to lower your body by bending from your hips and knees and stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your knees fully extending. Do not let your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times). “You may want to try this exercise without weights until you master the movement,” Raphael says. “It is a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body but if done improperly, it can lead to injuries.”
6. Dumbbell Lunges: This exercise works the front of the legs and the butt. It also works the back of the legs to some degree. Stand straight with your feet together. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides. Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor. Contract the quadriceps and push off your right foot, slowly returning to the starting position. Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete the set. “If you have one leg that is more dominant than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first,” Raphael says.
7. Bench Dips: This exercise works the back of the arm, the triceps and the shoulder. “I would prefer that you perform straight dips, but not everybody can do them,” Raphael says. Using two benches or chairs, sit on one. Place your palms on the bench with your fingers wrapped around the edge. Now, place both feet on the other bench. Slide your upper body off the bench with your elbows nearly but not completely locked. Lower your upper body slowly toward the floor until your elbows are bent slightly more than 90 degrees. Contracting your triceps muscles, extend your elbows and return to the starting position, stopping just short of the elbows fully extending. “Beginners may wish to start with their feet on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle,” Raphael says.
8. Dumbbell Double Biceps Curl: This exercise works the biceps and part of the shoulder. Sit on a bench or chair with both feet in front of your body and keep your back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at each side and your palms facing forward. Contracting the biceps muscles, raise the weights toward your shoulders, stopping just short of the weights touching the shoulders. Slowly return to the starting position. “Your upper arms should remain stationary throughout the exercise,” Raphael says. “Do not rock the elbow.”
9. Double Crunch: “The reason I like the double crunch is that you are activating the entire abdominal area,” Raphael says. “The key is to contract tightly at the top part of the movement.” Lie on the floor with your head facing up. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle, with both feet on the floor. Your back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor. Now place both hands behind your head. Contracting your abdominals, raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor.
10. Bicycle Manoeuvre: “Research consistently rates this as one of the most effective abdominal exercises,” Raphael says. “It works your entire ab region.” Lie on a mat with your lower back in a comfortable position. Put your hands on either side of your head by your ears. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle. Slowly go through a bicycle-pedaling motion -- alternate your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. “This can be a more advanced exercise,” Raphael says. “Do not perform this activity if it puts any strain on your lower back.”
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - — Harvey MacKay: Newspaper columnist, author, and business motivational speaker
"People begin to become successful the minute they decide to be."