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LE NEWSLETTER

June 14, 2007

Summer may not be officially here but I don't care - I'm absolutely loving this weather!  Happy Father's Day to all those great men out there that are raising and/or mentoring the youth of today and the decision-makers of tomorrow.

Russell Peters and friends rocked Diesel Playhouse for a free myspace.com standup comedy special.  Pics are in my PHOTO GALLERYAs well, Kayte Burgess' CD release was hit and you can now take a peek at pictures in my PHOTO GALLERY



How about a dose of the sounds of smooth jazz and steelband?  Eddie Bullen, Afropan, David Rudder and Demo Cates serve it up at
Ivory N' Steel on June 24th.  Check out the sultry details for Girls Night Out on Saturday, June 16th.  Mark your calendars now and check all details below! 


::HOT EVENTS::

Girls Night Out – Saturday, June 16, 2007

Source: Ajahmae Live Entertainment

Ajahmae and Up From The Roots bring you the hot and sexy Girls Night Out!  Finally – a night that activates a woman’s mind, body and soul.  Ladies are looking for a night out that stimulates their obsessions – be it erotic poetry, laughter, good food and/or sexy men.  What more can a women ask for?  This show provides the comedic stylings of Jay Martin, the erotic poetry of Dwayne Morgan, the sexy vocal sounds of new R&B group UntitledTRIXX is at the turntables. 

A full dinner and after party joined by the men.  Food, erotic poetry, comedy and good music – and let’s not forget some rock hard eye candy for dessert. 
Girls Night Out will provide all a women wants for one night for the low price of only $35 dollars (advance tickets only). 

You don’t want to miss this! 

SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2007
GIRLS NIGHT OUT
Club Paradise
220 Atwell Dr. (private event)
Doors open at 7pm for dinner and show to follow
VIP advance: $35 $40;  $40
at the door
$10 afterparty tickets - open to men
Tickets order line: 416-949-2766
Tickets on sale now at all Nappy locations*
www.Jaymartin.tv OR www.comedyclash.com

Ivory N’ Steel – Sunday, June 24, 2007

Source: www.eddiebullen.com

This exciting collaboration of Smooth Jazz and Steelband music returns to The Toronto Centre for the Arts this summer with another great line-up. Eddie Bullen & friends and the 25-member Afropan, present an evening of hot jazz and soca entitled Ivory N’ Steel with special guests David Rudder and Demo Cates in the George Weston Recital Hall at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, one show only, Sunday June 24, 2007 at 3:00 PM.  Last year Ivory N’ Steel rocked the Toronto Centre For The Arts and had hundreds of music lovers begging for more.  This year’s show will be even hotter, with David Rudder … “The Bob Marley of Soca”, and the seductive Demo Cates, lending their power to the island sounds of Afropan and the titillating tones of Eddie Bullen and his contemporary jazz flavoured with Caribbean and Latin rhythms.  Add to the mix surprise guests including young Quincy Bullen – recently described by Pride Magazine as ‘a Quintessential star in the making”, the best concert hall in Toronto, and this is one concert that you do not want to miss!

Eddie Bullen: Performer, songwriter, arranger and producer Eddie Bullen is, in every way, a standout amongst the latest generation of multi-talented artists. Eddie's lengthy career has yielded an abundance of awards and recognition for his outstanding talents. From his first album, 'Nocturnal Affair' to his most recent 'Desert Rain', Eddie gives his audience a taste of contemporary jazz, flavoured with Caribbean and Latin rhythms." Eddie Bullen keeps audiences in Canada and throughout the Caribbean on their feet and begging for more with his distinctive style. ‘His compositions are audacious and sexy, titillating the senses’ ( New York Daily News).  Since his move to Toronto in 1980 from Grenada , Bullen has worked with major Canadian artists like jazz singer Liberty Silver and pop star Dan Hill. He also composes and arranges for City TV, YTV, CBC, and TMN* the Movie Network. A three time nominee for Canadian Smooth Jazz awards, Eddie creates is in constant demand. Visit Eddie at www.eddiebullen.com.

The Afropan Steelband (Afropan) is Toronto 's oldest community steelband and by far the most successful. In 2003 they celebrated their 30th anniversary. From 1973 to 2006 Afropan, under the leadership of Earl La Pierre Sr., has won the best playing calypso competition at the Caribana Festival 26 out of the 34 occasions this competition has been held and has placed second on the 7other occasions.   Afropan is a musical orchestra of which the primary instrument is the steelpan. The steelpan (the pan) is a percussion musical instrument made from a steel drum. The steelband is an ensemble of steelpan instruments accompanied solely by an untuned percussion section. The family of steelpan instruments can generally be divided into four sections; soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

David Rudder: David was born in Belmont , Trinidad on May 6, 1953, and began his musical career at age 11, when he joined a group called The Solutions. In 1977, he joined the brass band Charlie's Roots.  Rudder has been musically influenced by the Shango and Pan yard that he grew up in as a young boy, although his musical tastes have often leaned towards jazz, and African drum beats. His first big break came when he was asked to fill in for Christopher "Tambu" Herbert, lead singer with Charlie's Roots, while on the band’s tour. Rudder stayed on as a co-lead singer, and built a reputation for his scintillating performances.  He established himself as one of the few band singers who wrote all his own songs. David has been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, New York Times, The Village Voice, The LA Times, Newsweek Magazine, Billboard, The London Observer, The Jamaica Gleaner , Now, and Miami Herald. He has won several awards for his popular and often controversial songs, including Album of the Year at both the Caribbean Music Awards, as well as the Nafeita Awards.

Demo Cates: Cates has earned the respect of Jazz musicians at home and abroad with his visionary method and superlative talents. Grown and developed in Detroit Michigan but exposed and revered in Toronto , Cates is a mature Musician and Vocalist from Detroit who in his words, 'plays on emotions and allows the sax to translate inspiration in smooth and sensuous sounds.' The “7 Mile”, Latin and R&B Music inspired Detroit native, credits the Motown era as his constant source of motivation for his first band, The Fabulous Counts, a 4-piece band that opened for greats like Al Green and Stevie Wonder.

SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2007
IVORY N’ STEEL
Toronto Centre for the Arts - George Weston Recital Hall
5040 Yonge Street
3:00 pm
Tickets: $40.00 and $35 orchestra and balcony; $30
To purchase tickets: call Ticketmaster at 416-872-1111
Visit www.ticketmaster.ca (keyword IVORY N STEEL)
Or visit The Toronto Centre For the Arts Box Office, 5040 Yonge Street

::TOP STORIES::

The Peters Principle

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter

(June 13, 2007)  Russell Peters is enjoying one of those moments where it seems like he is suddenly an overnight success.  The Brampton-born, L.A.-based comedian is about to embark on the Canadian leg of his tour, which includes two near sell-out shows at the Air Canada Centre on Monday and Tuesday (the shows were sold out, but seats were added). He's also headlining Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival and the inaugural Toronto version of the comedy fest.  We sat down for a Q&A.

Q: I talked to you right before your last DVD came out and you were complaining a bit about all you had to do.

A: That was around August, right? I was in the whirlwind at the time. I was worried about burning out. But now the thing is, I'm ready. Like, my mindset is so much better this year. After Outsourced (his recent DVD) became a success, the tour and travelling around the world, I sort of accepted my role and said, "Fine, I get it." So now I'm happy with all of it.

Q: Now you're playing the Air Canada Centre for like, what, 27,000 people over two nights?

A: Hey, it's 29,000, let's not gyp. I never look at it like it's happened overnight because it's been 18 years in the making. It's all happened in levels, stages and steps. I mean, sure, I may have skipped one or two at one point, but to end up at the ACC over two nights, let alone one, I would never, ever, not on my wildest day think I could do that .... So the day of the ACC shows, like next Monday, I'm going to get there in the early afternoon and sit on the stage for at least a half hour and just absorb it all, so when I walk out it's not a big shock to me.

Q: Racial comedy is your thing. When you're making up jokes, do you ever say, `Oh, I can't say that, that's pushing the line too far'?

A: I do push the line. I think people understand what my motivation is. It's not to hurt your feelings; it really is to make you laugh, to make people think about how absurd some things are. I say things onstage that if you said it to somebody on the street, they'd probably want to fight you .... Like, I'll say to an Arab guy, "Are you having a good time? Then clack your rocks together." You couldn't say that to a guy on the street, but they understand when I'm saying it. It really is like I'm your friend and I'm breaking your balls.

Q: I hear you're about to sign a new TV deal. Does it bug you that you haven't had a big TV show or movie?

A: I guess if I was a pessimist, it would bug me. I would look at it like, "What do I got to do?" But at the same time, I'm grateful for as far as I've gotten. I never think it's not going to happen, so it doesn't bother me. Because it's not like I'm starving on the way to it. I'm fine.

Q: A lot of your success comes from the Web, with a lot of your stand-up being forwarded around. What do you think about that?

A: It's funny, I still get emails from people quoting my stuff from so long ago, and I'm like, `C'mon dude, there's new stuff on the Internet that you can download.' But honestly, I'm still not computer savvy. That's pretty funny, considering I'm an Indian guy. But I honestly don't know how to upload. I barely know how to download, I know how to go to myfriendshotmom.com and press "save as," and that's about it. Save to desktop. Good, got it.

Q: Do you ever get any crazy fans moments here?

A: When I went to India and Dubai, people were like, `Omigawd, Russell Peters!' and I understood it, because I'm not from here, and you are actually a fan of what you've seen on the Net, so I get that. But in Canada, when I walk around ... I get people who are genuinely happy I made it .... They feel like they've come to this place with me, they've watched me grow, they have a sense they nurtured this.

Joe’s ‘Nothin’ Certainly Something

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

(June 11, 2007) *Soul balladeer
Joe has returned to the Rhythm & Blues ranks with his latest album “Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me.” He says this one is slightly different from his previous releases.  With “Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me,” the singer – whose biggest hits include slow chivalric jams such as “All The Things Your Man Won’t Do” and “I Wanna Know” – is taking a slightly more up-tempo attitude. “I’ve done a lot of ballads in the past and I’m pretty much known for doing that,” the singer said of his forte. “So the purpose of doing more up-tempo is to show a different side. I’ve had certain [fast] records like ‘Stutter,’ ‘Ride Wit U,’ ‘I Don’t Wanna Be A Player,’ but as an album, I wanted one that had more up-tempo beats to it. I think people prefer up-tempo songs better ... so, I took this album a little more up-tempo.” The disc, described as “a collection of songs that are snapshots from his own life,” still has the authentic love and loyalty jams that his fans have grown to love, but while the words have the same standard of gallantry, the rhythms are a bit livelier. For instance, the first singleIf I was Your Man” centered on the premise of a woman who can’t decide between two men.  “Though being a ballad, it still has an up-tempo beat to it. It feels like it’s moving as opposed to a normal ballad,” Joe said of the track.

Joe said that he took his time and was rather careful in crafting this disc. “For the past year and a half I’ve been working on the album. I’ve really taken my time. We had a few release dates before and we ended up pushing them back only for the purpose of making sure that everything that I felt that this album needed was on there. I’m not mad about taking a year and half to make a record as long as it comes out great.” He explained that there is always a good amount of pressure to get back on the charts, but that those pressures didn’t get in the way of him putting out the best album he felt was possible. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes from inside the camp – from the label and management. And when you’re in the streets, people are always saying, ‘When is the next album coming out?’ So, those are a lot of things that keep you motivated and pushing the project forward.” The singer said that he’d pounded out the right rhythms and lyrics and fine tuning the disc that he considers a shift in gears, but his last album, “And Then” hit in 2003. So what has the singer been up to in the interim? Let’s just say this PK (preacher’s kid) has been into the spirit and then some. “I’ve been behind the scenes doing a lot of work outside of the music business. I’ve been designing a clothing line and also I’ve got a deal with a tequila called Sojo (pronounced so-ho) and also I’ve got a couple of wines – a sauvignon blanc and a pinot grigio.”

While some might considers the worlds of music and liquor and fashion worlds apart, the singer told EUR’s Lee Bailey that the triple threat combination makes perfect sense. “I love fashion. That’s always been a part of me,” he said of his designs on fashion design, “and alcohol, that just made sense with all the parties that we go to and all the parties that I host. It just made sense to be celebrating your own brand in the clubs.” Joe continued that what brought him into the liquor industry was both a friend of his in Italy and his manager who owns a vineyard in France. And though Joe is an owner in these ventures, he said that he doesn’t plan on using his name as a way to advertise the brands. He believes that the concepts, particularly flavoured Sojo, will make the product a hit even, keeping a balance between his singing career and other business careers.  “I use each one as a vehicle for the other,” he explained about tying and promoting his products. “When I talk about the alcohol, I mention my record in the same sentence. It’s always for me, the music first, but when I talk about the music, I get the chance to talk about other things that I’m doing as well. Whether [or not] this takes off, I’m always focused on music.” Joe just completed a spring US tour with Brian McKnight, which started in Oakland and capped off last week in Oklahoma. However, the singer isn’t slowing down in promoting the new disc. In July he’ll be in South America, then Japan in August. After that he heads down under to Australia and then South Africa. But don’t worry if you missed him while he was stateside; at the end of the year, he’ll be back to do his own tour. In the meantime, “Ain’t Nothin' Like Me” is currently in stores and available online. “It’s definitely good R&B mix of music,” Joe said. For more, go to www.joescrib.com or www.myspace.com/officialjoemusic

Waiting Tables Pays Off Big Time For Singer

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Kerry Gold, Special To The Star

(June 11, 2007) VANCOUVER–If
Andrea Greenway had won a reality TV show, her whirlwind week might have made sense.  As it is, the 26-year-old Vancouver waitress and student had a week straight out of weirdsville, courtesy of 14-time Grammy-winning producer David Foster. She was squired from city to city, staying at luxury hotels, all expenses paid, occasionally performing. It began when the classically trained singer sang for Foster, whose table she served at a Vancouver restaurant. Even before she'd sung for the L.A.-based mega-producer – seated with American Idol alumnus Clay Aiken – she'd caught his attention.  "He looked at me and said, `I get a really good vibe from you. Whatever you do after this, I get a feeling you're going to be really great,'" says Greenway.  Foster has helped shape the careers of singers Josh Groban and Canadian Michael Bublé.  "I thought, `Maybe this will be the day my life took a different turn.'" Bublé, who was discovered by Foster at the wedding of Brian Mulroney's daughter, can relate.  "I have been in her shoes, and just to be on David Foster's radar is extraordinary," he said. "It's probably the biggest shot you can get." Greenway is a part-time server who'd abandoned her singing dream when she didn't get into the University of B.C.'s opera program three years ago. She was studying to become an interior designer, working one day a week at Umberto Menghi's Il Giardino restaurant.

A proud Menghi often insisted that she sing for his patrons, especially those with music industry connections. About a week ago, Menghi seized the opportunity to unite producer with potential protégé. A bedazzled Greenway happily complied with an aria. "How fast can you be on a plane?" asked the producer.  The next day, Greenway was in Calgary to perform at a private benefit for the David Foster Foundation. Aiken also performed. "There was real pressure not to suck," recalls Greenway. The response was positive.  "Right after, David asks me if I'd like to continue with the weekend and we could go into the studio at some point. I started crying." Within minutes, she was on a private jet with Foster and Aiken to Toronto for the opening ceremony of the Royal Ontario Museum's addition. "We hung out with Jann Arden all day. It was so cool." Greenway was in Las Vegas the next morning, where she watched Foster in the studio with Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang and opera star Andrea Bocelli. On Sunday, they flew to Foster's Malibu studio to work. Greenway is slated to meet with a songwriter in Nashville this month to work on songs.  But it's not so simple as meeting Foster and her career now exploding, says Bublé. "I definitely don't think David alone can do it," says Bublé. "It's got to be an artist with great drive and a great sense of personal style."

Peter Simpson, 64: Canadian Film Legend

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(June 08, 2007)
Peter Simpson, the veteran movie producer who died Tuesday at age 64, loomed large not only in the Canadian film industry, but also in the advertising world and in the backrooms of Ottawa. But what made the founder of Norstar Filmed Entertainment a legend was the slashing wit he used to cut through sham and hypocrisy in the world of showbiz. One of his favourite targets: pretentious writers and directors who made movies no one would pay money to see as a substitute for getting therapy. Simpson, who reigned for years as the king of B movies, always presented himself as the hard-nosed guy who knew what would sell. That included Prom Night (1980), which spawned three sequels, No Contest and Cold Sweat. In all, he made 35 movies and kept a lot of people employed, earning a Genie for lifetime achievement. After forming a partnership with Allan Scott, the British writer and producer, in 1997, Simpson concentrated on more prestigious movies. He was especially proud of The Fourth Angel (starring Jeremy Irons and Forest Whitaker) and Regeneration (a war story that became an art-house hit).  According to Scott, "While he often ended up making the films he could get financed over the ones he admired, his understanding of the script and the talent involved was distinct and passionate." Ted Kotcheff, the movie director and TV producer, says: "Peter had a robust sense of humour, and took delight in skewering the worst side of the business."

Simpson's roots were humble, and unlike many of the poseurs in the movie world, he never made the mistake of forgetting where he came from. Born just outside Glasgow, he arrived in Canada at age 10. His father, who had been a grocer in Scotland, went to work for Eaton's. According to Simpson's older brother, David, their mother did not want her sons to end up working in a shipyard. Before getting into the film business, Simpson earned a reputation in the advertising business. He made a boutique business out of media buying, starting his own company.  Veteran political strategist Allan Gregg recalls: "He was the first to recognize the competitive advantage you could have over other agencies by focusing on that one aspect of the business." In those days, Simpson smoked and drank with abandon but more recently he gave up both and became a fitness fanatic. A devout Conservative, Simpson worked both as a media buyer and a film consultant when Tories were in power in Ottawa. "He always lightened up the meetings with his hilariously vulgar humour, which made it hard for others to take themselves seriously," says Gregg. Simpson was famous for his short temper, but there was an up side. "The more furious Peter got, the funnier he became," says Scott. On one occasion they had a conference call with a third party, and decided in advance to play good cop, bad cop. Simpson was so brilliantly ferocious that when the call was finished, he burst out laughing and told Scott: "I think we were more like good cop, psycho cop." I had a glimpse of that side when Simpson and his wife, Ilana Frank, optioned my biography of John Candy for a TV movie bio. At one point, he suggested that a deal point I had requested made no sense and was totally idiotic. "Peter didn't think he was dying," says actor Jason Priestley, who made four films with him and was set to play SCTV boss Andrew Alexander in the Candy film. "He kept his focus on his next movie." A drink with Peter Simpson was never just business. He put on an entertaining show, making comments on well-known figures that were outrageous, hilarious and probably true. I'll miss him.

Through The Storm: Robin Givens

Excerpt from www.essence.com - By Patrik Henry Bass


You can say this for
Robin Simone Givens: It's impossible not to have an opinion about her. Her defenders think that the New York–born actress was unfairly vilified by the press as a gold digger who married heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson in 1988 solely for his millions. Her detractors feel she deserved the distinction as America's Most Hated Woman that same year, just eight months after the controversial couple were wed. Now, nearly 20 years after she said "I do" to Tyson, Givens, who has consistently delivered stellar performances on-screen and onstage, is ready to set the record straight about who she is, and more important, who she isn't in real life.  With the exception of her appearances on Broadway in Chicago, in which she was the first Black woman to play murderous schemer Roxie Hart, and her roles in urban theatre productions like Men, Money & Gold Diggers, we've seen very little of Givens. All that will change this summer when she releases Grace Will Lead Me Home (June 5, Miramax, $23.95), her eagerly anticipated memoir that sheds light on a lot of dark moments in her life, especially her tumultuous union with Tyson. In person, Givens is tinier—both in height and size—than you'd think of someone with such a larger-than-life persona. At 42, she can easily pass for a coed, and at times during this two-hour interview, she has the energy of a freshman cheerleader. Gone is the icy armour that she admits she used as protection from the slings and arrows of a two-decade-plus show business career that has seen its share of up and downs. This is the softer side of Givens, a working mother who is most proud of her sons, Buddy, 13, and Billy, 7, and that today she is a "survivor."

"Gold Digger? It's a word I hate!"

Givens concedes that she sees how people could have confused her with her starring role in the 1986–1991 brainiac ABC sitcom, Head of the Class, that cemented her aloof and not-one-of-us reputation—but she's still hurt by the perception that she's less than Black. "I'm a Black woman," she says, leaning forward. "I am a sister through and through. To have your people not embrace you, hurts." Still, there was suspicion when Givens began dating "Iron" Mike Tyson in early 1987. What, many wondered, could this sophisticated young girl see in Mike Tyson besides his $40 million net worth? The differences were beyond stark. Givens enrolled at tony Sarah Lawrence College at 15, graduated at 19, and quickly landed a guest spot on The Cosby Show that put her on another career track. She and her younger sister, Stephanie, were raised by their single mother, Ruth Roper, an entrepreneur who designed portfolio management systems for brokerage houses in New York. Tyson grew up in Brownsville, a section of Brooklyn where life could be hard. In 1987, at age 21, the former juvenile delinquent became the “undisputed heavyweight champion of the world” by defeating Tony Tucker. It had been a long time since we had a champ we could root for. We liked Mike. We wanted to protect him. Givens spelled trouble to many. She had already dated two of our wealthiest and most eligible bachelors. First, Eddie Murphy, whom she'd met while in college, and then Michael Jordan, when he was gearing up to set records as a member of the Chicago Bulls basketball team, both before the public really knew who she was. In early February 1988, after a whirlwind courtship, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens were married in Chicago and later in New York. He was 21, she was 23.

There was no prenuptial agreement. Tongues wagged. Givens bristles at the thought that she didn’t marry Mike Tyson for love. "Gold digger? I wish," says Givens. "It’s a word that I hate. I can support myself incredibly well. We can go through a lot of women who are married to men and they don't make as much as the men do. Eddie (Murphy) is a dear friend of mine. Look at his ex-wife. They were allowed to just be in love. Why not me?"

"I Didn't Receive One Dime"

In an ill-fated move in the fall of 1988, the couple decided to talk about their relationship with Barbara Walters on the ABC prime-time news program 20/20. That one hour sit-down is now one of the most infamous celebrity interviews ever. The cameras were there in the couple's 30-room Revival mansion built in 1897 in Bernardsville, New Jersey, as Givens described her life as "pure hell." With Walters prodding her, the actress told a rapt audience of millions: "He shakes, he pushes, he swings. He—sometimes, I think he's trying to scare me. And just recently I’ve become afraid." Givens said Tyson was "manic depressive." Questions abounded. If he was sick, why wasn’t she standing by him? Givens says being in an abusive relationship is complicated, without easy answers. “When you love someone who can also do you harm, it’s confusing.” In retrospect, she says she would have changed some things about the interview, but she still doesn’t regret that she did it. "Do I wish I could take some things back? Absolutely," she says. "But I was trying to hold on to my sanity." What she didn’t tell us that night, but details in the book, was how he once punched her in the left temple and knocked her to the floor, held a knife at her throat, and choked her while she was filming ABC's television movie adaptation of The Women of Brewster Place. Two days after the interview with Walters, police were summoned to their home, where an explosive Tyson began throwing furniture out the window, while Givens, her mother, her sister and a family friend cowered in the laundry room. Givens says she had had enough: "I saw what I'd put my sister and family through and I couldn't allow it." And though she first retained a high-powered divorce attorney to represent her in their divorce, today she says, "I didn’t receive one dime."

"I Was 'Hot' But I Was Hurting"

By the time she left Tyson, Givens was damaged goods to the public. She was labelled The Most Hated Woman in America in the fall of 1988 by several outlets after a CNN NewsNight viewer poll reported that 93 percent of respondents said the couple’s divorce was her fault. The venom in the air against Givens was palpable. Once a woman walked up to her on the street and yelled, "He should have kicked your ass. I wish he would have killed you."  And yet Givens tried to put her career and life back on track. "I was a woman not wanting to be defeated," she says. "I didn’t want somebody to have gotten the best of me." In 1990, director Bill Duke cast her in the decidedly grown-up role of Imabelle, a charming minx, in his indie film A Rage in Harlem, an adaptation of the Chester Himes novel set in 1950's Harlem. Starring opposite Forest Whitaker and Danny Glover, Givens threw herself into the role. She followed up Rage with perhaps her best-known role as sexy cosmetics executive Jacqueline Broyer in Boomerang, former boyfriend Murphy’s glossy corporate love story. Givens arguably walked away with the movie, no small feat with a cast that included Halle Berry, Martin Lawrence and Grace Jones. Givens has never seen Boomerang, perhaps her greatest film triumph, in its entirety. She doesn't remember much of those days except that her agents were telling her she was "hot," while she was feeling "sad, confused and disconnected." She adds: "I was 'hot' but I was hurting. I chose to deal with my hurt."

Two years after Boomerang’s release, Givens moved to a small town just outside Hilton Head, South Carolina. There was much that was new in Givens’s life, including a son, Buddy, whom she adopted at the beginning of 1994. But old demons haunted her. Although she took on the occasional television or film role, Givens withdrew from public life. Instead of front-page headlines, her short-lived 1997 marriage to tennis instructor Svetozar Marinkovic (they separated after one day) was relegated to the tabloid news briefs. After the birth in 1999 of her second son, Billy, with White tennis player Murphy Jensen, whom she never married, she returned to television to host the talk show Forgive or Forget. Again, Givens made headlines, but insists that she had nothing to do with the ouster of TV personality Mother Love, the older Black woman who had created the show. Love didn't take the firing well. Petitions circulated to restore Love as host. Though Givens's ratings were decent, after a few months the show was cancelled.

Givens, who returned briefly to New York where Forgive was taped, moved again, this time near Tampa. She wanted her son Buddy to enrol in the area's competitive tennis camps. She was 36 with two sons, and her phone wasn't ringing off the hook. Instead of allowing fear to overtake her, she started to lean on her faith in God. The lapsed Catholic began attending church services again and started to feel a sense of calm that she'd never felt. "I'd been in such survival mode for so long that I hadn’t given myself time to heal," she says. Her renewed faith was integral to her sense of feeling whole.  "I needed to be quiet enough and still enough to hear God," she says. "He taught me how to live in a peaceful way. I learned how to pray unselfishly. I learned to stop trying to control everything and allow God to do His will. When I take things in my own hands, I mess them up. But not God. He made me appreciate everything.” Givens started to jot her feelings down in a composition book. She began to realize several neglected truths, the most important among them being that she had lived in denial for much of her life. "Denial was my friend. That was the only way I was able to walk into a room and audition for A Rage in Harlem or Boomerang, because I wanted to pretend everything was okay," she says. It wasn’t. Not only was she forced to deal with the hurt with Tyson, but also the pain that her father, Reuben Givens, caused when he left the family. Givens still feels betrayed by her father, which is something that she says she prays about “every day."

"I Thought I Failed Michael"

Nearly three years ago Givens broke her silence about her stormy relationship with Tyson on Oprah. She says the appearance was about her own "healing." Though Givens took meetings with New York publishers in 2000 to tell her story, none were as interested as they became after listening to her riveting one-hour sit-down with Winfrey. More than a decade ago, her agents had told her she was hot. Now the heat was on her again. Several publishers wanted Givens's story, which ultimately went to Miramax for an undisclosed sum, although insiders suggest that it had to be significant based upon its 150,000 first printing. The title, Grace Will Lead Me Home, is not just about her renewed faith, but is an homage to her grandmother Grace Turner, a fearless matriarch who walked away from an abusive marriage and headed to New York to make a new life for her daughters Peggy and Givens's mother, Ruth. Givens is generous and sensitive in detailing both her grandmother's and her mother's lives. It's a finely crafted memoir. And though her publisher has high hopes for the book’s success, Givens believes that Grace is by no means a slam dunk and the book’s fate is in the hands of the public. "I think the fact that she was once vilified actually works in her favour," says Karen Holt, deputy editor of Publishers Weekly. "Americans love a comeback." Givens doesn’t feel as if she's making a comeback. She feels as if she's had a breakthrough after completing the book. "My big job now is being a mother," she says. "That’s the only thing important, after God. If I never acted again, I'd be fine."

 And she's made her peace with Tyson, who declared bankruptcy in 2003 after a string of unfortunate personal and professional choices. While writing the book, Givens ran into her ex at the premiere of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ at the famous Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. "He hugged me and said, 'I'm sorry and I wish you only the best.' And I thought, Wow," she says. Hindsight is 20/20 for Givens; she now admits she and Tyson should never have gotten married. But then she adds, "I love him. We’re still bonded in ways. I thought I failed Michael. That's really the issue that I still struggle with. My sense of failing him. I wasn't the person I wanted to be. I was a little girl. I wasn't ready to marry anybody."

And what about today? Givens, who once dated Brad Pitt shortly after her divorce from Tyson, and shock jock Howard Stern in 2000, says don't believe that she hooked up with R&B singer Tank: "There's absolutely no truth to those rumours." She does admit that she’s just started seeing a "friend," an older man who she says is "very smart." She confesses, however, whether he is The One or not, she is ready to settle down again. "I want my children to have a father. I want a husband," she admits. But she wouldn't sacrifice anything for the peace of mind she has found through her faith.

"I know the power of miracles and God's grace," Givens says. "That's why in so many ways my life is spiralling upward."

::MUSIC NEWS::

Celebrating A Living Jazz Legend, Without Him

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Simon Houpt

(June 11, 2007) NEW YORK — The main auditorium of Carnegie Hall was all but sold out Friday night, but one seat remained unoccupied: that reserved for
Oscar Peterson. On an evening dedicated to celebrating the Canadian jazz giant's career, one which organizers had privately hoped would provide him with one last opportunity to take the stage where he first snagged the world's attention with a surprise 1949 appearance, Peterson, 81, was at the last minute declared too ill to make the trip. Instead a large photo of him, seated at the piano and smiling broadly, sat on an easel at stage right, as 22 of his contemporaries and younger admirers streamed past and paid tribute. But if many wondered why Peterson hadn't shown up - curious chatter filled the hall's various bars during the interval - the audience still got more than enough opportunities to leap to their feet and pay tribute to his generation.  Clark Terry, 86, took more than a minute to shuffle to centre stage. But his scatting proved as energetic as ever with his signature piece Mumbles, which he'd recorded with Peterson more than 40 years ago. Pianist Marian McPartland, who recalled her nervousness when she met Peterson in Toronto in the 1940s, also walked slowly, but turned in a gorgeously modulated The Nearness of You. The Cuban clarinettist Paquito D'Rivera, who was the subject of a similar tribute in the same hall two years ago, , joked that the real reason his friend Peterson wasn't in the house was because he'd developed a Cuban accent after eating black beans and rice cooked by D'Rivera, and had been detained at the border. Under musical director Roger Kellaway, the evening played out as a series of trios and quartets, backed by bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash, occasionally taking a rewarding risk, as when cellist Borislav Strulev came on for Sweet Lorraine. Jazz violinist Florin Niculescu, flown over for the event from Paris, served as a musical reminder of Peterson's work with Stephane Grappelli.

The radiant vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater sounds nothing like Ella Fitzgerald. But she scatted her way energetically through How High the Moon and then offered a sensuous, sculpted rendition of Midnight Sun, which Fitzgerald and Peterson had recorded on their 1974 disc. On her way off the stage, she curtsied in front of the photo of Peterson, then kissed it on his cheek. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini briefly transformed the cavernous hall into a smoky jazz club with Raymond Hubbell's Poor Butterfly, though her voice may be too sweet for a number made famous by Sarah Vaughan. Pianist Renee Rosnes, originally from Saskatchewan, ably represented Peterson's homeland with Ballad of the East, from Canadiana Suite. The youngest player to take the stage, the 20-year-old piano phenom known only as Eldar, grew up in his native Kyrgyzstan listening to Peterson. "Oscar Peterson was the very first piano player in my life," he told the audience, before tearing through a breakneck Place St. Henri, also from Canadiana Suite.  But the night belonged to his elders including Freddy Cole, the younger brother of Peterson's occasional set-mate Nat King Cole, who performed Blame it on My Youth. And Wynton Marsalis demonstrated his notoriously clean tone on Just Friends. If the night proved an embarrassment of riches - at almost three hours, it might have been edited - Peterson's wife Kelly and daughter Celine, who watched over proceedings from the first tier, seemed genuinely touched by the affection .  At the evening's conclusion, a recording of Peterson's own Back Home Again in Indiana echoed through the hall as the performers gathered on the lip of the stage. It would have been nice to hear it live.

North By Northeast Finds A Fresh Direction

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

(June 11, 2007) A favourite pastime of Toronto music fans is bitching about how Canadian Music Week and
North by Northeast are always kind of scattershot, disappointing non-events, but there was a marked emergence of positive sentiment during the past weekend's NXNE festivities. The encouragingly decent and diverse array of acts on offer for North by Northeast 2007 was a common topic of conversation amongst the jaded musicians, industry folk, writers and scenesters thronging downtown clubs from Thursday to Saturday, but the contented vibes were always tempered with an undercurrent of incredulity. Let it be said nevertheless that this year's NXNE program was its most solid in years, with few gaps in the nightly schedules and a welcome smattering of moments where there was simply too much cool stuff going on at once to choose from, not to mention three separate performances in three separate venues by Swedish live legends Soundtrack of Our Lives. The daytime saw an increased number of South by Southwest-styled barbecues hosted not just by the veteran merrymakers at EMI Publishing but also folks like Ottawa indie label Kelp Records and the organizers of the Pop Montreal festival.

Here's a brief, incomplete rundown of some of the NXNE performances that stood out this year.

The show to beat: Handsome Furs, Comfort Zone, Friday: This busman's holiday for Wolf Parade co-front man Dan Boeckner and his fiancée, Alexei Perry, is seriously in danger of overshadowing the man's main gig. The stark, gloomy tunes from the pair's debut disc, Plague Park, were even more riveting from the stage, brought to life with naught but raw guitar noise, Perry's dime-store drum programming and Boeckner's earthy yelp. Some of it came off like Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen with beats, while the more up-tempo excursions betrayed the New Order/Joy Division influence laid plain by Boeckner's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" T-shirt.

The kids to watch: The Miles, Silver Dollar, Thursday: They don't come much tighter or more appealingly frantic than this trio of 17-year-old Toronto lads, who could very well dethrone Tokyo Police Club as the city's hottest high-school-spawned ingénues. They could do with a nudge away from their Franz Ferdinand-esque, post-punk gallop, but the tunes are there and they're already an impossibly disciplined guitar/drums/keyboards attack squad. Cute as hell, too. Lock up your daughters.

The mild disappointment: Brant Bjork and the Bros, El Mocambo, Thursday: Admittedly, the former Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer's history leads one to expect a certain amount of standard, downtuned stoner-rockisms, but the hirsute Bjork – now a rather uncomfortable, guitar-toting front man – stuck a little too tightly to one straightforward, riff-driven template to generate much excitement in a room of obvious devotees. Perhaps peyote would have helped.

The talk of the town: Sebastien Grainger, Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday: Everyone's waiting for the former Death From Above 1979 drummer and vocalist to kick MSTRKRFT's butt with his forthcoming solo album, but the disc's status as a work in progress was confirmed before a jam-packed 'Shoe by Grainger's slightly directionless and distracted set. The heavyset, but melodic tunes have oodles of promise, however.

The "it" girl: Jade McNelis, Rivoli, Thursday: The industry was out in droves to catch this 20-year-old Montreal singer/songwriter's Toronto debut. Unfortunately, the many "faces" in the room also chattered away enough to drown out much of the gifted McNelis's short set, a faithful tour through the captivating art-pop tunes on her new All the Fables EP. Not quite there yet, but she'll hit her stride.

The mosh-makers: No Dynamics, Silver Dollar, Saturday: This arch Toronto splatter-punk outfit is such a galvanizing force that even several rock critics and label types were lured into a small but impressively roiling pit conjured in front of the stage by local indie booker Trevor Coleman. Vanessa Fischer might be the city's most underrated front woman. She could definitely kick your ass.

The most improved players: Cities in Dust, Silver Dollar, Thursday: These Hamilton ne'er-do-wells have always been a volatile little unit, but there's a newly sharpened edge to the band's confrontational punk-rock battery. Singer Zach Frank has become nicely unhinged, too, knocking over monitors and conducting much shirtless writhing on the floor in front of the stage. Good times.

Rihanna’s Doing ‘Good’: Singer Releases Third Disc

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

(June 8, 2007) *Def Jam diva
Rihanna had one of the hottest hits of 2005 with her single “ Pon De Replay ” from her debut disc. The anthem, along with her rippling voice and stunning looks, made her a household name. And then came the DJ banger “S.O.S.” off her sophomore set, reconfirming that the Barbados beauty was a pop star on the rise.  Just three years after grabbing radio waves, the R&B starlet has released her third disc, which has fans anxiously awaiting the next big thing from the singer.  The disc, titled “Good Girl Gone Bad,” is already doing quite a bit of good. The first single, a hip- hop track called “Umbrella,” featuring Jay-Z, rocketed to the top of Billboard’s Top 100.  To add to the fact that she has a new album, she just signed on as the new face of CoverGirl and is the hot cover and revealing article for Giant and Complex magazine’s June issue. Yes, it seems the singer really does have it all covered. At a party celebrating the Giant issue, Rihanna came out with a new look and a new attitude. Slender and sleek, the singer said that creating her new image was all her idea. “Usually, the process involves a lot of people,” she said of putting together her image for the new album. “But this time, like why I called the album ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ ... I didn’t care what anyone else wanted me to look like. I didn’t even talk to anybody about it.  I just did me. I didn’t care if they liked it; I was sticking with it.” It is definitely a style that’s working for her. After all, it is the new face of CoverGirl cosmetics; a fact that Rihanna revels in.

“It’s a blessing. It’s another dream come true for me,” she said of the contract. “And I get a lot of free makeup, so it all works out.” When asked about handling her look with CoverGirl and at the same time keeping in mind the responsibility in her image for young girls, Rihanna commercially replied, “Every woman has several personalities. Every woman has that bad girl and every woman has the little girlie feminine side. CoverGirl brings that out in me.” Well, not much to be said about all that. After all, she is a spokesmodel for the brand. However, Rihanna did bare her soul in Giant mag’s latest issue, though. The article reveals the singer’s rough childhood watching her father battle a crack addiction. She told reporters that she had no intention to share that part of her life, but sometimes in being comfortable talking with people, certain things come up in the conversation. “I think that my private life should be in private, but it depends on the person – I get comfortable. I don’t regret it at all,” she said of the article. “Everybody has something that makes them stronger in their life. [My childhood experiences] helped to make me a stronger person and a stronger woman. That is very necessary in this industry and in this career. I need to be strong and I need to be very responsible. My childhood helped me to do that.” Rihanna has grown as an artist and as a person with the new project and said that she feels more comfortable now being herself. “I don’t have to think about, ‘Should I have done that?’ I don’t really care. The fans, they relate to people that are real and true to themselves.” “Good Girl Gone Bad” is available in stores now. For more on Rihanna, check out her artist page at www.defjam.com.

Robin Thicke Is What’s Hot This Summer

Source: Ava DuVernay | Ellene Miles, The DuVernay Agency, ellene@dvapr.com

(June 8, 2007) New York, NY - Proclaimed by Oprah Winfrey as her "new favourite singer," platinum crooner Robin Thicke graces his first national magazine cover with the June/July 2007 issue of GIANT Magazine.  In the highly-anticipated edition, available on newsstands now, the blue eyed soul singer speaks freely about his once waning self-esteem, issues in his marriage to actress Paula Patton, and his fourteen year ride to overnight stardom.  Outlined below are select passages from GIANT Associate Editor Celia San Miguel's exclusive conversation with Thicke entitled: "Soul Brother # 1."

ON HIS PERSONAL DEMONS
 "I understand struggle because I've struggled with my own demons, my own ability to love myself.  I might have grown up in an aesthetically larger building, but that doesn't mean I haven't felt pain.  That's what the whole (expletive) album is about.  It's about a dude who needed to believe in himself when the world said, 'We don't love you.'"

ON STRAINS IN HIS MARRIAGE TO PAULA PATTON
 "She was having sex scenes with the guy who won Album of the Year (Andre 3000), and I pretty much had no record deal.  She didn't come home during the three months of filming (Idlewild) because she was so focused.  I started believing she didn't need me anymore, and when she came home, I started projecting that onto her and pushing her away.  That's what 'Complicated' (a song from his album) is about - me saying, 'I wish I could stop thinking I'm not good enough because, otherwise, I won't be able to get this girl back."

ON BEING JEALOUS OF JESUS
"I was seven years old hearing about how wonderful Jesus is, and I was like, 'I'm special.  I'm able to be righteous.  How come Jesus gets to be the Son of God and not me?  Why don't I get to be as loved by God as Jesus was?  I believe we should all get to be the sons of God."

ON THE VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE
"I started writing this song last night about the guy who did the shooting.  I figured if anybody needed love, it was him.  He was reaching out, but nobody listened.   And, you know, everyone said he was quiet.  I started writing about feeling like you're a shadow.  And even though I'm not him, I know what that feels like.  There is so much hurt and struggle, so many people who need hope."

ABOUT GIANT MAGAZINE
Since 2006, GIANT Magazine has published covers featuring Beyonce Knowles, Janet Jackson, Pharrell Williams, The Killers, Diddy, Ciara, Jennifer Hudson and Eve.  GIANT magazine is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Radio One, Inc. (www.radio-one.com) (NASDAQ: ROIAK and ROIA), the nation's seventh largest radio broadcasting company (based on 2005 net broadcast revenue) and the largest radio broadcasting company that primarily targets African-American and urban listeners. Radio One owns and/or operates 70 radio stations located in 22 urban markets in the United States and reaches approximately 14 million listeners every week. Additionally, Radio One owns interests in TV One, LLC (www.tvoneonline.com), a cable/satellite network programming primarily to African-Americans and Reach Media, Inc. (www.blackamericaweb.com), owner of the Tom Joyner Morning Show and other businesses associated with Tom Joyner. Radio One also operates the only nationwide African-American news/talk network on free radio and programs "XM 169 The POWER," an African-American news/talk channel, on XM Satellite Radio.

Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest Marks 15 Years

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(June 7, 2007) *Bob Marley was once quoted as saying ‘The Words of the songs, not the person, is what attracts people’ and how these sentiments ring true today. Who would have thought that the mere idea, some 15 years ago, of hosting a reggae festival could have grown into an event of such tremendous magnitude attracting over 30,000 patrons last year alone. Today
Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest holds a dominant place on the reggae entertainment calendar and is viewed, across the world, as the marquee reggae event of the Summer. To celebrate reaching this pivotal point of 15 years, the organizers of Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest, Summerfest Productions have promised a star studded line up of Jamaican and international talent. Of course every attention will be paid to organization, security and production, to ensure that all goes well for the festival scheduled for Sunday July 15th to Saturday July 21st , 2007 in Montego Bay Jamaica. Johnny Gourzong, Executive Director of Summerfest Productions, says that this year marks an important milestone for the festival and he gave his assurance that the event would be a first class one that will feature a plethora of talent, both new and ‘well seasoned’. The weeklong event will begin with a beach party featuring the Fab 5 band. Dancehall night ‘dubbed’ the ‘Xplosion’ will kick off the signature three nights on Thursday July 19th with stars such as Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, Baby Cham, Beenie Man, Ninjaman, Vegas, Lady Saw, Macka Diamond and Anthony B.  Hot and relatively new dancehall acts including Mavado, Aidonia, Munga Honourable and Busy Signal are also on the line up. As the name suggests ‘Xplosion’ will see explosive talent and a convergence of different styles with Vybz Kartel, Chuck Fenda, Wayne Marshall, Voice Mail, Little Hero, Gyptian, Lutan Fyah, Erup, Shane O, Teflon and Kip Rich rounding out the set for the night.

The Evolution is up next representing the first of two international nights on Friday July 20th. LL Cool J will perform on that night; so too will Grammy award winner, Shaggy, performing alongside some of Jamaica’s other greats – Buju Banton and Morgan Heritage.  Richie Spice, Etana, Daville, the scorching vocalist Cherine Anderson and the ever-rising star Christopher Martin are also included on this line up. Things will climax on Saturday night July 21st at the ‘Zenith’ where the sultry soulful diva Mary J. Blige will entice the audience with her powerful lyrics. She will share the stage with another powerhouse Tanya Stephens while Allison Hinds will add a soca element fresh from the Carnival season. The leading man of soul, Beres Hammond, will combine his potent lyrics and heart stopping performance to the event as well.  The evening’s entertainment will be completed by Tarrus Riley, Tessanne Chin and the band Rootz Underground. Carlo Redwood, Group Marketing Manager for Red Stripe, the title sponsors of the event admits that he is elated to be a part of the event for yet another year and expressed great confidence in the Summerfest team to put on another record breaking show.  “Summerfest Productions has demonstrated time and time again that they can certainly deliver a world class event, we expect nothing less this year and will be working closely with the team to ensure that all goes as planned,” Mr. Redwood said.

Disco Diva Thelma Houston Is Back!

Source: Jolyn Matsumuro, The Brookes Company, Jolyn@brookescompany.com; Lauren Gaffney, Shout! Factory, lgaffney@shoutfactory.com

(June 7, 2007) Los Angeles, CA -
Thelma Houston, the dynamic voice behind the disco anthem "Don't Leave Me This Way," is back with her first album in over 17 years.  In a clever twist, Houston uses A Woman's Touch (in stores August 14th via Shout! Factory) to transform songs made famous by some of the biggest singers - male singers, that is - in R&B and pop.   Conceived by Thelma Houston, A Woman's Touch is filled with songs she has long been a fan of.  "They are songs I always wished I had recorded," she explains, "and I loved doing them from a woman's standpoint."   But Houston doesn't just put a female spin on the lyrics, she takes over and completely reworks the songs through soul, R&B, blues and dancefloor filters. "Ain't That Peculiar" and Sting's "Brand New Day" get bluesy, sassy makeovers, while "Disco Heat/Mighty Real" (a nod to Houston's disco past and tribute to her old friend Sylvester) starts out a poignant gospel song and closes with Studio 54-era exuberance. 

Houston revisits another friend from her early career, covering Jimmy Webb's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (Webb wrote and produced Houston's 1969 debut album), rebuilding it with incredible old school R&B flair.  And then there's Thelma triumphant return to her dancefloor roots with a fierce version of Luther Vandross' "Never Too Much." A Grammy® Award-winning artist who has released more than a dozen albums, Houston is currently headlining the Summer 2007 Solid Gold Dance Party Tour which includes a concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles on June 16th. "I feel blessed because I've never stopped working and I love what I do. I can truly say that I appreciate my career and sometimes it really feels like I'm just getting started," says Houston.   In the years since "Don't Leave Me This Way" topped the pop and dance charts, Houston has toured incessantly, performing over 200 shows each year, including an opening slot on Cher's Farewell tour.  She was recently inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame and honoured on the television show Showtime at the Apollo as an Apollo Legend. Most recently she was cast in the role of Madam ZinZanni in the highly popular play, Teatro ZinZanni, performed internationally in the touring cast of Fame, starred in the musical Big Otis' Jump Up Blues Revue (by Tony Award winning director Otis Sallid) and appeared in OprahWinfrey's Beloved.  A tireless supporter of AIDS related charities, Houston was honoured by the City of West Hollywood (CA) in 2003, when it declared January 29th "Thelma Houston Day."

Born in Leland, MS, Houston moved to Long Beach, CA as a child and continues to reside in Los Angeles today. She signed with Motown Records in 1971 and in 1977, won the Grammy® Award for "Best R&B Female Vocal Performance" for "Don't Leave Me This Way." Her other hits include "If It's the Last Thing I Do," "Lean On Me," "I'm Here Again," "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning," "If You Feel It," and a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Top 20 R&B dance track "You Used to Hold Me So Tight."

www.MySpace.com/ThelmaHouston
www.ThelmaHouston.com

About Shout! Factory: Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture - The Stuff You Grew Up On But Never Outgrew.  Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over.  Shout! Factory's DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras.  The company's audio catalogue boasts Grammy®-nominated boxed sets, new releases from storied artists and lovingly assembled album reissues.  These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention.  For more on Shout! Factory, visit www.shoutfactory.com.

T-Pain Releases New CD

Source: Jive Records

(June 6, 2007) NEW YORK, NY. - Konvict/Jive Records recording artist
T-Pain, who is on top of the Billboard music and ringtone charts with his breakout smash single "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')," released his sophomore album Epiphany June 5th.  "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" recently beat out artists such as Maroon 5, Avril Lavigne, Timbaland, and Ne-Yo to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart as the No 1 single in the country.  On four separate Billboard charts the single has been firmly entrenched at the No 1 position for several weeks: No 1 Hot 100 Airplay; No 1 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs; No 1 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay; No 1 Rhythmic Top 40, and for seven consecutive weeks T-Pain was the No 1 selling ringtone on the Billboard Hot Ringmasters chart. Early rave reviews have already started pouring in. Rolling Stone magazine gives Epiphany three stars and exclaims that " ... The hooks come fast and loose ... Epiphany should be lighting up both bedrooms and the clubs." The Washington Post raves, noting that " ... T-Pain's best cuts evoke the dripping grooves of Zapp, the breakneck beats of Baltimore club music, even the punk- funk of Fishbone."

One of music's rapidly rising and omnipresent stars, T-Pain's sophomore album Epiphany expresses his growth as an artist and the definition of the album title as a "sudden moment of insight or revelation" truly encapsulates his efforts on this release. On Epiphany, T-Pain takes over the reins as producer, writer and arranger and enlists artists such as Akon - who discovered and signed him to his Konvict Muzic label, and Yung Joc to hone and master the unique sound that he introduced on his gold-selling debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga. Recently T-Pain has been crisscrossing the country producing and collaborating for a wide and varied list of mega-artists that include Usher, Britney Spears, R. Kelly, Chris Brown and Busta Rhymes. His follow-up single "Bartender" featuring Akon is rapidly moving up the charts and is following in the footsteps of his chart-topping first single "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin)." Fans can catch T-Pain perform live on BET's 106 and Park on June 6th and on the Jimmy Kimmel show June 14th.

Teddy Pendergrass: Idol, Legend Or Icon

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Miles Jaye Davis

(June 12, 2007) You’ll hear many things about singer
Teddy Pendergrass on this 25th anniversary of the tragic automobile accident that caused his severe spinal injury on March 18, 1982.  I have read many words from respected journalists about not only the accident but also about the enchanted life story of this R&B legend. We all know by now that the late night auto accident left many questioning his association with the transvestite exotic dancer, Mr. Tenika Watson, who was his passenger. We know there was a cloud of doubt as well as speculation about the cause of the brake failure on the Rolls Royce he drove that night. There was however, no speculation about the fact that Mr. Pendergrass is a history maker.  He is credited as being the first African American musician to score five consecutive one million selling albums. It’s worth noting that in today’s music market, five back-to-back platinum CD’s is still a major accomplishment. There is no doubt, though it may be difficult to provide reliable statistics, that Teddy’s sultry ballads and provocative baritone was responsible for many a birth “back in the day.” Ask your mom and dad--you may very well be a product of the Teddy Pendergrass era. Just mention the words “Close the Door” and see if a smile emerges on mom's face as she tries to dampen what is unmistakably a blush. See if dad allows a grin to sneak through at the mention of “Turn Off the Lights.” He might even offer, “Those were the days” then ask you: “What do you know about the Bear? That was before your time.” There is something timeless about Teddy Bear’s music. To this day there are those who would remind us of his classic “For Ladies Only” concerts where Pendergrass systematically collected undergarments from his orgasmic female fans.

What that account fails to note is the fact that TP was a man’s man at a time when there was little question about our notion of what it meant to be a man. This was the quintessential tall, dark and handsome image, with a voice that only God himself could take credit for.  He was a specimen for every other man to model. Remember, if you will, that this was a time of Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Clyde Frazier, Dr. J, Bill Cosby, and a host of other Black men who showed up to the party with charm, charisma, and more than their share of machismo and Teddy still made a reputation for himself as a man among men. Men of that day possessed an intriguing combination of strong, yet smooth; powerful, yet vulnerable – and Ted was a bad motha – “shut yo mouth” - “I’m talkin’ bout Ted.” Yes, I called him Ted – not TP or Bear – just Ted… always did. See, I’m a few years younger so I missed a lot of the hype of that era. By the time I was ready to enjoy the romanticism that the music invoked it was more of an Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder era.  It was time for consciousness and social action. Marvin was asking “What’s Going On?” and Teddy had gone from “Turn Off the Lights” to “Wake Up Everybody.”  The next true romantic was Luther Vandross and by then the whole vibe had shifted from strong to sensitive. Men would weep publicly at the sound of “A House Is Not A Home.”  Ted always felt like a long lost big brother to me - still does to this day. There is an inexplicable connection where I know exactly where he’s coming from.  Then there’s the mystique. There is the public persona, then the CIA, highly classified, private man that we may never know. It’s that man that has captured my imagination.

This 25th anniversary of a tragedy that would have doused a less-formidable spirit is the perfect time to ask what brand of magic is at work here. Ted speaks of the spirit and how his mom instilled an awareness of and appreciation for the spirit of God in him from the time he could first walk and talk. Is that it? They say Ted was singing in church by age two and by age ten he was ordained to the ministry. Could it be that the spirit of God alone is at work in the life and testimony of this man or will the film, and of course there will have to be a big screen depiction of this biography, tell otherwise? I stood at his bedside as Ted offered advice to me--his reluctant protégé. I recall what I think were his most simple but poignant words of advice: ”Miles, just be yourself.” He knew there would be those who would try to encourage me to emulate him. He must have also known that I wasn’t equipped for such a daunting task. It’s more than just talent that makes a Teddy Pendergrass – it’s a mindset. I watched him through the studio glass day after day as I produced tracks for the Joy CD; wondering 'where it comes from - where does the strength come from?'  Every third or quarter hour his private nurse would have to come and physically shift his dapper frame in his wheelchair – such a simple adjustment he was unable to make on his own--but he was ready to sing. He was ready to be Teddy! There were, however, times in the studio when I thought I detected fatigue in his voice so I would press the “Talkback” button and tell Ted I was tired. I would say, "I’ve had it for the day" and he would concede on my behalf. He didn’t want to overwork me.

He might ask, “You sure?” Then he would offer, “O.K. we’ll start again tomorrow.” Then I would see his shoulders relax and I would know I made the right call. Then my shoulders would relax too.  Yes, I was feeling the pressure. I was new to the game and I was producing Teddy Pendergrass. Brother or no brother, this man’s a legend and the expectations will always be sky high. I’ve concluded that in a business full of insecurity-stricken “stars” Teddy Pendergrass is one of the most secure, confident, self-assured individuals I have ever met. Even as a quadriplegic he exudes more sexuality than all of your American Idol winners combined – include the judges if you like. Unlike some stars, the music doesn’t make him sexy, he makes the music sexy. You try singing “close the door, let me give you what you’ve been waiting for” in your most sensual, sultry tones. How’d it go? See what I mean? No way was an automobile accident going to get the best of him. No way was paralysis going to keep him down. I can imagine him thinking, “I’m Teddy Pendergrass dang it!” He’s right! He is Teddy Pendergrass and that’s all there is to it. It’s a level of confidence that is borderline arrogance – the likes of which you might find in a world champion heavyweight prize fighter. They say that it’s not uncommon for PK’s and PGK’s, (Preacher’s Kids and Preacher’s Grand-Kids), to exhibit a precocious nature as youngsters and hyper-developed egos as adults. I’m told it’s a result of the assumption that they are endowed with special gifts.

True or not true, when it comes to whether Teddy Pendergrass is an idol, a legend or an icon it all becomes crystal clear – he’s all of them. If you’re wondering what that means, it’s very simple, an individual to whom those words apply are endowed with a very unique quality; they decide in their hearts and minds to pick up where God left off, strive for greatness and never tire. Perhaps we can all learn a bit from Ted’s example. Perhaps that’s the secret he’s known since he was just a child. Perhaps that’s the secret he now wants to share with the world. Like the bestselling series “the Secret” by Rhonda Byrne affirms, it’s only when we partner with God that the real magic begins. Congratulations Big Bro. and Happy 25th Anniversary!

Niyoki: Her Praise Music Has a Secular Flavour

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Deardra Shuler

(June 12, 2007) *
Niyoki looked like a lady on the road to fame or at least someone who knows the direction she intends to go in life.  Her demeanour was tranquil and her large almond shaped eyes, expressive.  They are filled with confidence and an inner serenity that seemed to suggest that this singer vibes to her own personal inner music.  She talked about both her DVD video disk and CD audio disk “Turn it Over” and  ‘Niyoki Live’ which contains worship songs like: “Praise Time,” “A Worship Medley,” “Amazing Grace” and of course her “Turn It Over,” video as we conducted our interview at the offices of the Double XXposure Public Relations firm.  Her lyrics on her CD audio disk “Turn It Over,” say “…When you open up your eyes, you finally realize, that whatever you have been looking for… will always be right there.” These lyrics seem to sum up Niyoki’s philosophy in life.   Listening to her words one can appreciate the richness in the tone of her music and understand that Niyoki’s lyrics are reflective of her unshakable faith in God.  She knows with an absolute certainty that when one asks something of God, an answer will be forthcoming. Her music is an interesting blend of praise music set to an R&B beat.  It uplifts, it inspires, and it offers hope which is exactly what it’s intended to do.

“The message of gospel is the fundamental message of my life,” says Niyoki who was raised as a preacher’s kid. “That’s right.  I am a PK.  A preacher’s kid, so naturally I grew up with a Christian background and singing in the Church.  Both my parent’s come from singing families.  I have been singing since I was six.  The family, who are from Fort Wayne, Indiana, released 5 albums as the ‘White Family.’  White is my maiden name,” explained the attractive singer.  “My Mom, Dad, my brother, and 4 sisters comprise the musical group The White Family.  Our family toured when I was in elementary and middle school.  We were professional singers.  We traveled on weekends and throughout my high school days,” continued Niyoki.  “My sisters and I eventually decided to take off on our own.  We took up our own management after having been under our parent’s management for so long.  You know how kids get rebellious and think they want to strike out on their own and do something different?  Well that was us,” explained Niyoki of her early beginnings in gospel music. 

“Our new manager told us to explore and try secular music.  We started doing a lot of harmonies.  We branched out into R&B.  We opened for Boyz II Men and Art Kelly.  But we became mostly known for being Prince’s background singers.  We changed our name from the White Family to MILENIA right around the turn of the century in 2000. We thought the name had a ring to it because it also spelled out a piece of all of the sister’s names: Mikki, Leeka, Niyoki, and Tia.  We did this around the same time that Prince saw us in Minneapolis.  He loved our harmony and he asked us to perform as his background singers, do his vocals, and tour with him.  We did that for 2 1/2 years.  That was an awesome experience. We had great expectations but then nothing really happened,” claimed Niyoki who with her sisters, did background for Prince’s “Rainbow Children” album.  MILENIA had many false starts.  Although the sisters had expectations of being signed, things never quite got off the ground.  “Singing with Prince was great and perhaps that is why our music has the nice undertone that it has. It’s young and it speaks of my generation of music.  However, I began to feel it was time to step out on my own. When I was 12 years old, my dad and I did a duet to the song “Amazing Grace,” I wanted to do something with that song.”  Niyoki took the plunge, moved out of her own way, and let God take the lead.  She was approached by Ralph Stacy who requested she do a song with him.  She told him she wanted to do something gospel and so the two starting writing.  This collaboration was the catalyst that set her on the road toward her current path whereby she is now doing her first solo recording.  “As I said before, I sang “Amazing Grace” with my Dad at 12, so now I have ‘Amazing Grace’ on my own project. People love that song.  Although, I do, have traditional songs as well as urban gospel songs on the album.  I have fun with little beats and praise and worship music.  There is everything there.  The Music is “My Everything.”  It’s young, vibrant and it’s versatile,” stated Niyoki whose name is an African word meaning “serious minded and responsible.”   “I co-wrote and co-produced “My Everything” which has a neo-soul vibe.  It’s laid back and jazzy.  I would have to say it is really my honour song to God.  It says ‘God is My Lord, My King, and My Everything!’ It’s my first solo project.  Interestingly, while writing the lyrics, I found they just came to me.  It’s a gift I believe.  I was rather shocked I could write.  My mother used to play, write, and arrange a lot of the music for the White Family.  I guess I have the gift too.  Creatively I have a hand in every part of my music. I usually write out of a place of my need at the time.  I think a lot of people relate to my songs because people all over the world can relate to what I am saying.  I think everyone is looking for something, something that touches the emotion. That offers comfort. We may not know God’s plan but I think God has it all figured out.  I just let my music speak and trust in God to show me the way.” 

To learn more about Niyoki visit www.niyoki.com

A Gloriously Over-The-Top Romp With Rufus

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Alan Niester

Rufus Wainwright
At the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on Monday

(June 13, 2007) He is arguably the least likely pop-music sensation on the planet. In an age of over-emoted throwback soul, insanely simplistic two-chord bubble gum pop-punk and sadly generic rock,
Rufus Wainwright turns heads by channelling artists as diverse as Judy Garland, Kurt Weill and Neil Diamond. When others look to the sixties and seventies for inspiration, Wainwright wobbles happily through the past 150 years, mining Viennese opera, prewar German cabaret and Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, and mixing them all together in a sort of head-scratching musical bouillabaisse.  But in a market where the fastest-rising female singer is one who channels Billie Holliday (that would be Amy Winehouse, for those not paying attention), it would seem that the time is finally right for Wainwright's big breakthrough. And lo and behold, guess whose just-released Release The Stars CD is currently brushing the top of the pop charts in Britain, and also bothering the nether regions of the North American Top 30 album charts. Yup, it's Rufus Wainwright, the 33-year-old musical chameleon who until this point was considered just too baroque or complex or gay or maybe just plain too weird for widespread success. On Monday night, Wainwright returned to Toronto for the first of two sold-out shows at the steamy Music Hall Theatre on the Danforth. He and his seven-piece band (which included a three-piece horn section) performed in front of a huge representation of an American flag, but instead of red and white, this flag featured black and white stripes (representing "the two sides of the American culture") and instead of stars in the upper left, there were a series of elegant brooches. And though it took me a few songs to make the connection (duh!), each player was decked out in stripes of varying hues and elegant brooches also. This was the first clue that this was not going to be a concert by, say, Slayer, or Cannibal Corpse.

The great bulk of the evening centred on the new album, which is as it should have been, the songs therein representing a significant leap forward in Wainwright's songwriting and performance skills. Indeed, he opened with the title cut, a verbose number that puts one in the mind of Randy Newman, if Newman sang in a dusky, somewhat burred and lisping baritone. This was followed in kind by the vaguely Billy Joel-ish Going To A Town, the unabashedly fluffy Sanssouci, and the slightly Neil Diamond-ish Rules and Regulations (for which Wainwright apparently borrowed Gene Pitney's old Mexicali horn section). Then came the "did he or didn't he" tribute to the Killers' singer, Brandon Flowers (Wainwright suggesting on stage that he did indeed), in which Wainwright seemed only barely in control of the piano keyboard. Tiergarten, a cabaret number that would have done Liza Minnelli proud, the Leonard Cohen-ish Leaving For Paris No. 2 and the rocking Between My Legs closed out the first half. When he returned for the second half, Wainwright had abandoned the stripes-on-stripes ensemble for a nice German-youth-in-the-thirties look, lederhosen and all. He revisited his recent reprisal of the classic Judy Garland 1961 Carnegie Hall concert with a version of Foggy London Town before returning to finish off the rest of the new album.  Over the top? Certainly, but you know that going in. With Wainwright, it's a matter of expecting the unexpected, and letting it roll over you. It all makes for a damn good time at the old concert hall, sharing a space with one of the last of the total originals.

Meet Sean Kingston: 17-Year-Old Has Huge Hit With 'Beautiful Girls'

Source:  Tynicka Battle, ThinkTank Marketing, tynicka@thinktankmktg.com, www.thinktankmktg.com

(June 13, 2007) After producing an endless array of hit records for the likes of musical heavyweights such as 50 Cent, The Game, Rihanna and Snoop Dogg, production savant J.R. Rotem has turned his attention to one of the most innovative young talents in music,
Sean Kingston, the first signing on his Beluga Heights label.  Kingston, a 17 year old native of Jamaica who now lives in Miami brings his very unique triple threat of talent of rapping, reggae chatting and soulful harmonization with the 2007 release of his debut yet to be titled album.  "As an artist, my whole goal is to make powerful and classic music," Sean divulges. "I want everyone to feel me and understand where I'm from and that's what this album will do. The music is all about an authentic Sean Kingston vibe. JR is a talented dude and a dope producer and he saw that I had something different than any other artist out there. Together we're a powerful force.  In addition to J.R., The Runners, Cool and Dre, DJ Felli Fell, and DJ Khaled will be supplying beats. In just a short time, Kingston has already done what few in his age bracket can accomplish - solidify a following in the streets and get people excited about music again.

AUDIO BEAUTIFUL GIRLS (produced by J.R. Rotem)

HERE

HERE
 
He has two certified thunder knockers on his hands with "Colors 2007" and the Jamaican remix. The original version is a lyrical brouhaha with Kingston showing he can hang with the acclaimed guest MCs. Miami Mayor Rick Ross and the multi-platinum west coast superstar, The Game. The reggae remix of Colors is a Caribbean hailstorm featuring the legendary Vybez Cartel and the always profound
Kardinal Offishall. Both records maintain the same theme of unity and self-reflection.  "That's the whole campaign," Kingston, whose parents are from Jamaica, elaborated. "The song is about representing every flag that you're loyal to - whether it is Jamaica, the States, your block etc. It's a lifestyle record that can be a street anthem no matter where you are. I couldn't ask for anybody better than The Game and Ross to join me on the track. The Reggae version came up because I knew I had to do one special for Jamaica. The first person I thought of was Vybez Cartel. His verse came out crazy. Then Kardinal Offishall, that's my homie, he really attacked the track."  Kingston's album is shaping up to be as diverse as the colors are on the different flags he talks about.

The melody of "Stand By Me," also acted a muse for the first official single off the album "Beautiful Girls." It is way more than puppy love when Sean lays his vocals on the record, singing about a shattering break up.  "You're way too beautiful girl," he sings about heartbreak. "Girls will have you suicidal when they say it's over."  "I heard the track 'Stand By Me,' one night in the studio, the radio was on. I asked J.R., did anybody ever flip that? He made the beat the beat right there on the spot and I wrote the songs in a few minutes. It's hard when you're in love and a girl tells you that it is time to end things. I know everyone can relate to that, so that's why I had to write about it."  "Drummer Boy" finds Kingston sticking mainly to rapping over the trouncing pounce of drums, while "I Can Feel" takes it to the party and incorporates a sample of Phil Collins' timeless "In the Air Tonight."  Perhaps one of the most eye opening track however may the song "Prosecutor," where Kingston vents about what he calls the wrongful imprisonment of his sister and mother. "You're lying and there's no way to prove it," he fumes.

Sean says he was inspired to write the record after he saw his family incarcerated when he was just 14 years old.  "I always had my sister and my brother," he began to explain. "My brother was doing his own thing, he was there but he was running around doing his own thing. When my mother and sister went away, it took a lot out of me. My sister went away for four months and my mom been away for over a year. When she went way, I was like 'nah man, this is too much.' I was only 14. I missed her like crazy but I pulled through and used it as my motivation. "Prosecutor" is a defining song on the album for me - nothing fake about it because it touches on something very personal to me. The dope melody that's on there makes me feel even closer to it."  Kingston wants to make it clear that he is no cookie cutter artist that has the songs laid out for him. He comes up with 100 percent of his lyrics.  "Man, it feels good to get that creative freedom," he says. "Not a lot of artists are put in that position. I don't feel that just because I'm a young dude, somebody should write my songs and say 'ok spit it this way.' I think music is better when it comes from the person, when it comes from your heart. I feel comfortable writing my own music and them letting me do it, is a great situation.  Sean talks about J.R. more like a big brother, rather than an Executive Producer of his album. Couple of years ago, Kingston started randomly hitting music industry contacts on MySpace. Although none of the A&R reps responded, Rotem emailed him back. J.R. almost had no choice, "Sean would hit me up at least three times a day!" J.R. says.  "He just had a real distinct sound," Rotem remembers. "I worked with some of the best and I don't see why Sean can't grow to be one of them. His potential is limitless."

Rotem invited Sean for a meeting in Los Angeles, coincidentally; the young performer was already in the process of moving to California. Shortly after their initial meeting, Rotem had a flagship artist for his Epic records joint venture, Beluga Heights. For Sean, it was almost like a prophecy beginning to be fulfilled. Not only is music his love, it is in his blood. Iconic Reggae artist Buju Banton is his uncle and Jack Ruby, who produced records for Bob Marley and Burning Spear in Jamaica, is his grandfather. Now Kingston says he's looking forward to making music and living out his dream.  "In the future I want to have my own label and work on the business side," he said. "I went to acting school when I was younger, so I want to get into that. I want to get into every aspect of the business. It took me a little while to develop and build my sound, to find out who the real Sean Kingston was. I didn't know if I wanted to harmonize, or to rap. But I found out that I can do it all."  SIGN UP for Sean Kingston updates, and join the mobile club for exclusives!  http://www.seankingston.com/#join

MUSIC TIDBITS

Billboard Launches Canadian Chart

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(June 7, 2007)
Billboard, the music trade weekly, is launching a new singles chart known as the Canadian Hot 100 today measuring the top songs in Canada.  The chart will be a compilation of the Canada Digital Songs chart, which ranks the top-selling downloads in Canada as measured by Nielsen SoundScan, and the Canada All-Format Airplay chart, ranking the songs most played on Canadian radio as measured by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.  The Canadian Hot 100 will be included in Billboard magazine, as well as on its billboard.com and billboard.biz websites.

Justin Timberlake Signs Youtube Sensation

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 7, 2007) *Last year, a Dutch teenager began using her sister’s webcam to film herself singing various pop and R&B songs, which she would post onto YouTube for feedback. More than 21 million viewers are already hip to
Esmee Denters, who has captivated folks with her renditions of such songs as Beyonce’s "Irreplaceable,"  Prince’s “"How Come You Don’t Call Me," (as sung by Alicia Keys) and Luther Vandross’ "Dance With My Father." Her incredible voice somehow reached the ears of Justin Timberlake, who has signed the now 18-year-old to his new label Tenman Records and will include her on his upcoming tour, reports WENN. "Esmee is the real deal and I cannot wait for the world to hear her, but all of her fans on YouTube should not worry - we will keep you in the loop every step of the way," Timberlake announced this week. Denters said: "I have to thank YouTube and its viewers for giving me the opportunity to show the world my voice. I also have to thank Justin, one of the biggest artists in the world, for believing in me and making my dreams come true." Her debut album, to be comprised of all-original material, is due out later this year. http://www.myspace.com/esmeedenters 

[Note from Dawn: This young woman is phenomenal!]

Rihanna’s Umbrella Continues Billboard Reign

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 8, 2007) *
Rihanna’s new single “Umbrella” continues to hold down the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart after rocketing 42-1 last week, while Shop Boyz keep the No. 2 spot warm for a second week with “Party Like a Rockstar.” Rihanna's "Umbrella" also tops Billboard’s new Canadian Hot 100 chart, which launched made its debut yesterday (June 7). Read our feature story on Rihanna here. T-Pain's "Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin')" featuring Yung Joc moves up 4-3, while the song remains No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for a sixth week. On that chart, former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland has her first top 10 hit as a solo act as "Like This" featuring Eve climbs 13-7.  Elsewhere in the Hot 100 top 10, Justin Timberlake's "Summer Love" moves down 6-8, and Huey's "Pop, Lock & Drop It" is up 10-9. The Hot 100's top debut at No. 56 is India.Arie's "Beautiful Flower," which she wrote for the students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and performed on the talk show last week.  Also new is Timbaland's "The Way I Are" featuring Keri Hilson at No. 78, Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing" at No. 80 and Kat Deluna's "Whine Up" featuring Elephant Man at No. 91.

Still No Plans For Live Earth Concert In Canada

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(June 12, 2007) Toronto -- Angélique Kidjo, Baaba Maal and Joss Stone are among the headliners at the Johannesburg Live Earth concert on July 7. The line-up announced yesterday is for Africa's version of the international concert event organized in association with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and taking place in various cities around the world on the same day to raise environmental awareness. Other major acts include the Police, slotted to play at the New York concert, and Madonna and the Beastie Boys among the London headliners. A spokeswoman for Live Earth in New York said that there are still no plans for a Canadian concert. The Toronto mayor's office had been in early talks with organizers, but nothing had been finalized.

Prince Taps Columbia, Wendy & Lisa For Next Album

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 12, 2007) *
Prince has reunited with his Revolution band mates Wendy and Lisa for material on his new album “Planet Earth,” which he has chosen to release through Columbia Records on July 24 in North America. This marks the second time the artist has partnered with Columbia, following the April 2004 release of his album “Musicology.”   “Guitar," the first single from "Planet Earth," was serviced to all radio formats yesterday; it is also free to Verizon Wireless customers for a limited promotional period, as previously reported.  According to Columbia, a worldwide launch of “Planet Earth” will begin on July 16.  Prince has also announced the final concert dates of his 21-night stand at London’s O2 Arena this summer. The new shows are August 24 and 25, and September 6, 16, 20 and 21. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. on Friday (June 15).  Prince’s full run at O2 is as follows: August 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 24, 25, 28, 31 and September 1, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 20 and 21.

Shortlist Music Prize Winner Is One Cool Cat

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press


(June 13, 2007) LOS ANGELES–Mercurial singer-songwriter Cat Power has become the first woman to win the Shortlist Music Prize, beating out finalists that included Tom Waits and Regina Spektor. The Shortlist, now in its sixth year, honours acts who have made sterling albums but have not hit the mainstream. Its jury of nine included journalists and musicians, including KT Tunstall and rockers Franz Ferdinand. "Cat Power's album quickly got under my skin," Tunstall said of Power's critically acclaimed The Greatest. "She has one of the most beguiling voices around. The Greatest is an immediate classic that will never age." Besides Waits and Spektor, the other finalists were Band of Horses, Beirut, Bonnie Prince Billy, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Joanna Newsom and Spank Rock. Power, whose real name is Chan Marshall, is a past finalist for the Shortlist. She received perhaps the most acclaim of her career for The Greatest, which featured her singing with the backing of Memphis blues vets.

::FILM NEWS::

Pacino Wins Lifetime Acting Award

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 08 2007) LOS ANGELES –
Al Pacino made grand speeches on screen as Michael Corleone and Tony Montana. But when the actor was honoured with the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, he was practically speechless. "I need a character," the 67-year-old actor said, overwhelmed with emotion. "I don't think of myself as being able to do anything.'' Pacino didn't have to say much, though. A host of Hollywood heavyweights – including Oliver Stone, Kirk Douglas, Andy Garcia and Robin Williams – did most of the talking when Pacino was presented his award Thursday at the Kodak Theatre. "The depth of your artistry is only more overwhelmed by the generosity of your spirit and your warmth," said Garcia, who worked with Pacino on "The Godfather: Part III.'' "You're Van Gogh. You're Modigliani. That's who you are.'' The three-hour dinner program, set to air June 19 on the USA network, featured clips from Pacino's most famous films, including ``The Godfather,'' "Scarface,'' "Dog Day Afternoon,'' "Serpico'' and "Scent of a Woman.'' "Seeing my life in the movies, I have one question," Pacino said. "And that is: Why aren't I in rehab?'' Growing up in New York, Pacino discovered acting at an early age.

"By age 3, I was doing Al Jolson," he said. "I found, in the theatre, this place I could go to. I found this peace.'' The two-time Tony Award winner has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. He won for his role as Lt. Col. Frank Slade in the 1992 film "Scent of a Woman.'' He was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 by the Independent Feature Project. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association presented Pacino with its Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes ceremony in 2001. Pacino's sister, Roberta, said her brother always loved performing. She was on hand Thursday to celebrate his career, which has spanned nearly four decades. "He's one of the greatest artists who ever lived, according to me," she said. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, who worked with Pacino on "Any Given Sunday," called him "the greatest actor in the world.'' Stone, who wrote 1983's "Scarface," lauded the actor's ``wicked sense of humour" and "great, if misunderstood, heart.'' "It is with great love and respect that I say goodnight to the bad guy," he said, recalling one of Pacino's famous "Scarface'' lines. The program also included tributes to Jack Valenti, who died April 26, and AFI chief executive Jean Picker Firstenberg, who is set to retire this year. Pacino is the 35th recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award. Past honourees include Sean Connery, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis and Jack Nicholson.

George Clooney: The Ocean's Thirteen Interview With Kam Williams

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

(June 11, 2007) *Born in Lexington, Kentucky on May 6, 1961,
George Timothy Clooney is the son of beauty queen Nina Warren and TV newscaster Nick Clooney, and nephew of singer/actress Rosemary Clooney.  He was a promising enough baseball player in high school to be invited to a tryout by the Cincinnati Reds' organization. He failed to make it to the pros, and attended college briefly, but only found his true calling after dropping out and heading for Hollywood where's he's enjoyed a storybook career. The icing on the cake arrived last year when he landed an overdue Oscar for his performance in Syriana. Once dubbed The Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine, here, the ever eligible bachelor talks about reprising his roles as Danny Ocean.

Kam Williams: Who do you credit for reassembling this all-star cast with so many matinee idols for a third go at it?

George Clooney: Jerry is the heart and soul of it, period. This, particularly, is a Jerry Weintraub production. And that's the fun of it. He understands how to do it. You have to remember, you gotta get all these guys together. That doesn't mean that they don't want to be together, but it's very hard to pull schedules together. It's really hard, because everybody's got gigs. So, to find one period of time when everybody can come together and do the job is tricky, and only Jerry can do it.

KW: What Ocean's Thirteen's basic premise?

GC: We're back in Vegas for the setting, and I think what we like about it is that there's a really good reason for everybody to come back together which is that Reuben [played by Elliott Gould] gets hurt by somebody. And so this is a movie about revenge, which I like a lot. We always like revenge films. So, it's about getting even with somebody, not about getting rich.

KW: How did you enjoy the addition of Al Pacino to the cast?

GC: Al's such a great foil. He's one guy you really want to get. And you enjoy it when he gets it, when he plays a bad guy. So, he makes it really fun, and makes this Vegas background really move and hum.

KW: You also added a femme fatale in Ellen Barkin.

GC: Ellen is Al's right hand man, see, and sort of gets sort of swept up by Matt Damon's love aura, which you understand when you spend time around him. He's got it. He's got that thing. And so we use Matt as a sex kitten in this one to sort of attract her away, so we can steal some diamonds.

For full interview by Kam Williams, go
HERE.

Ocean's Thirteen Steals Top Box-Office Slot

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - David Germain, Associated Press

(June 10, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Audiences anted up for the Warner Bros. caper
Ocean's Thirteen, the third of George Clooney and Brad Pitt's casino-heist romps, which debuted as the top flick with $37.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the No. 1 movie the previous two weekends, sank to second-place with $21.3 million, raising its domestic total to $253.6 million. Sony's Surf's Up, an animated adventure about surfing penguins featuring the voices of Shia LaBeouf and Jeff Bridges, debuted in fourth-place with $18 million. That was less than half the $41.5 million opening weekend of last fall's animated-penguin hit Happy Feet. Surf's Up earned good reviews, but audiences may have viewed it as a retread of Happy Feet, which finished with nearly $200 million domestically and won the Academy Award for best animated feature. Lionsgate's gory horror sequel Hostel: Part II, about rich people who pay to kill victims in grisly ways, opened at No. 6 with $8.75 million, less than half the $19.6 million debut of last year's Hostel. The newcomers fell well short of the $60.1 million opening of the animated hit Cars over the same weekend last year. After a big summer start, Hollywood revenues dipped for the second-straight weekend, with the top-12 movies taking in $133.6 million, down 9 percent from the same weekend last year. The three blockbusters that debuted in May – Pirates of the Caribbean, DreamWorks Animation's Shrek the Third and Sony's Spider-Man 3 – all have trailed off with big drops in revenue after huge first weekends. Collectively, the three movies will combine for about $1 billion in domestic receipts. But all three will finish well below the $400-million-plus haul each of their most-successful predecessors took in. The latest instalments on all three franchises earned mixed reviews, and they arrived amid arguably the most-competitive summer ever for Hollywood, with huge sequels and other big films arriving every weekend.

With Spider-Man 3 edging toward $900 million worldwide and At World's End nearing $750 million, overseas revenues have far exceeded domestic receipts for both franchises. Shrek the Third is rolling out overseas gradually. "It's really become an opening-weekend business, but with all the competition, in the long haul, they just don't have the legs that their predecessors did," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "Studios really have to rely on those worldwide grosses to make up the difference in the long run.'' An exception is Universal's comedy Knocked Up, which held up strongly in its second weekend with $20 million, coming in at No. 3 and raising its domestic total to $66.2 million. Critical praise and audience word of mouth sustained the film, which stars Katherine Heigl as a career woman who becomes pregnant from a one-night stand with a slacker (Seth Rogen). Ocean's Thirteen reunites director Steven Soderbergh with Clooney, Pitt, Matt Damon and other cast members as the gang of thieves targets a casino owner (Al Pacino) who double-crossed one of their own. The sequel debuted slightly behind the opening weekends of 2001's Ocean's Eleven ($38.1 million) and 2004's Ocean's Twelve ($39.2 million).

Kerry's Choice: Kerry Washington

Excerpt from www.essence.com - By Jeannine Amber

It was the fall of 2004. Ray had just hit theatres, and
Kerry Washington, the wide-eyed talent who shone opposite Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles's beleaguered wife, was beginning to feel the heat.   Suddenly people were coming up to her—in the street, at the grocery store—acting as if they knew her and wanting to chat. "I love what I do," says Washington, sitting in a corner booth in Angelica's Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in Manhattan's East Village, where as recently as 2001 she supplemented her acting with a part-time job as a hostess. "So I like when people want to talk to me about my work."   But sometimes things get weird. Like the time a man called "Hey, Kerry!" to her on the street. Although she didn't recognize him, she responded warmly, thinking he must be someone she had gone to college with. "I let him into my personal space. Then he starts saying, 'Your ass was incredible in (Spike Lee's) She Hate Me,' “she recalls with a shudder.”It made me realize I wasn't always going to be in control of who knew me, how they knew me, or what they thought of me."  To another actress, these intrusions might be tallied up as the price of blossoming fame. But Washington, who is by her own admission very sensitive, finds these encounters completely unnerving. "I used to be the girl who would show up at the airport in pyjamas, because no one was ever trying to take my picture," she says. "Suddenly I was losing my anonymity, and I became really scared, scared of my career. I felt trapped and powerless, as if I had put myself in a corner." At the same time, Washington's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (she's currently in remission). So despite the swirl of accolades and awards shows that came in the wake of Ray, the actress, who turned 30 this past January, found herself sinking into depression.

In December 2004, Washington and her then fiancé, actor David Moscow, flew to Thailand for a vacation. Before making their way to their beachfront hotel, they dropped by to see some of Washington's extended family living in Bangkok. The family persuaded the couple to spend the night. The next morning a tsunami, which affected several countries surrounding the Indian Ocean and would kill almost 300,000 people, struck the village the couple had intended to visit. Washington awoke to find their hotel had been completely destroyed. "It was just...gone," she says. That moment changed everything.  Washington says that when she woke up the morning after the tsunami, she thought, Okay. As scared as I might be about all the unknowns in my life, I'm alive. I should embrace the adventure rather than have it put me in a corner and shut me down.  "So I started looking for ways to be a positive participant in my life, rather than letting my life control me," the actress says. "Like, with my mother's breast cancer. I thought, Here's an opportunity for us to move closer together, for me to support her the way she has supported me my whole life.

"The other thing it affirmed for me is to trust my instincts," she continues. "As women of color, we're constantly feeling like we have to make choices for other people. What will make him happy? What will make them happy? But when I decided to stay in Bangkok for that night, it didn't feel like I was 'supposed to.' It felt like there was so much love coming from my family, and I should just move in the direction of the love I deserve. Since then I've really tried to stay in that frame of mind—to trust my intuition and go where the love is. That's my guiding light."  If recent history is any indication, Washington's light has served her well. In a profession often criticized for its dearth of opportunities for Black women, she's been tapped for an array of roles, starring in everything from action-packed blockbusters like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which opened last month, to gritty indie flicks like The Dead Girl, in which she mesmerized audiences as a young woman laid bare by her friend's murder. Unlike some of her contemporaries, whose celebrity often overshadows their attempt to inhabit a character, on-screen Washington virtually disappears. It's not an actress we see, it's a desperate Ugandan wife in The Last King of Scotland, a charismatic shoplifter in Lift, a manipulative temptress sashaying into the life of another woman's man in I Think I Love My Wife.  Her acting appears effortless, but Washington's preparation is intense. For her role as a transgendered prostitute in the upcoming Life Is Hot in Cracktown, Washington spent months working with transgendered activist Valerie Spenser. At her own expense, Washington paid Spenser to show up on set every day to ensure the actress's performance rang authentic. "When I'm working, I give myself over to my characters," she says. "I literally lend my life to them."

But all this focus can take its toll. For years as a college student, Washington, who has the petite frame and high forehead of a ballerina, suffered through what she describes as an abusive relationship with food and exercise: compulsive overeating followed by endless workouts to erase the damage. "I used food as a way to cope," she says. "It was my best friend." Washington would hide in her dorm room, bingeing on whole pizzas, pints of ice cream, entire jars of peanut butter, and plates of fries. "I'd eat anything and everything," she says, "sometimes until I passed out. But then, because I had this personality that was driven toward perfectionism, I would tell people I was at the library, but instead go to the gym and exercise for hours and hours and hours. Keeping my behaviour a secret was painful and isolating. There was a lot of guilt and a lot of shame."  Washington finally sought help after her dance teacher, sensing something was wrong, approached her. "I started therapy, which I still do today," says Washington. "I also see a nutritionist and I meditate. Learning how to love myself and my body is a lifelong process. But I definitely don't struggle the way I used to. Therapy helped me realize that maybe it's okay for me to communicate my feelings. Instead of literally stuffing them down with food, maybe it's okay for me to express myself."  These days it appears that Washington has no problem speaking her mind. She's wildly expressive and deeply analytical, her language laced with literary references, metaphors, yoga terminology and plenty of self-help-y affirmations. Warm and thoughtful, she's charmingly optimistic, even in the face of her recent break-up with her fiancé, with whom she had been living for almost five years. Although the relationship was interracial (one African-American blog dismissively described him as her "Something New"), the split had nothing to do with race. "I have relatives who are from Nepal, Thailand, Puerto Rico," says Washington. "So it wasn't a huge departure for me to be with someone who wasn't Black. I know people were making comments about it online. But I don't live my life based on bloggers; I live my life based on what my heart is telling me to do." Washington says the break-up last February was mutual and amicable and based more on the couple's sense that things just weren't working than on who did what to whom. "When we were planning the wedding, I didn't even feel like picking out a dress," she says. "But I didn't rush things; I let my intuition guide me. We realized that even though we love each other on a very profound level, we were doing emotional gymnastics to try to work things out. We thought that instead, maybe we should walk away. Of course, that doesn't mean it hasn't been painful."

Still, Washington is determined to keep following her light. "No matter how bad things are—whether it was the period when I first sought out treatment for my eating disorder or when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer or when the engagement dissolved—I know the other side is going to be better," she says. "Maybe even miraculously better. I hold on to that."

Jeannine Amber is senior writer for ESSENCE.

Community Cast Saves The Revue

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Anthony Reinhart


(June 13, 2007) Any budding screenwriter would have done well to take a walk down Roncesvalles Avenue yesterday. There, on the sidewalk in the late-morning sun, were all the makings of a feel-good summer flick: a cast of characters led by a couple of working-class heroes, and the true story of how they brought their neighbourhood movie house back from extinction. In a testament to the cohesion of the west-end enclave where it sits, the
Revue Cinema - closed and for sale for the past year - will reopen late this summer. A non-profit community group will run it after a pair of their pennywise, retired neighbours, Danny and Letty Mullin, stepped forward to buy the beloved 96-year-old building this spring. "The ideal city is a network of urban villages, and Roncesvalles is a model of that kind of village," City Councillor Gord Perks said in an interview after the all-volunteer Revue Film Society announced the impending re-opening in front of the theatre. Mr. Perks, a former film student who saw his first Francois Truffaut movie, The Four Hundred Blows, at the Revue many years ago, theorized that the area's hemmed-in geography helps to foster its village feel - Lake Ontario to the south, High Park to the west and railways to the north.

More than that, its social ties have been drawn ever tighter since young families began to move in about 15 years ago, said Amrita Daniere, who chairs the geography department at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus. "What you're seeing here is an example of social capital and networking," said Dr. Daniere, herself a Roncesvalles resident for a dozen years now. "When communities have these kinds of bonds between each other and amongst each other, it facilitates any kind of collective action." As a meeting place that fostered such bonds, the Revue's closing last June was universally mourned, and the professor herself contributed $100 to the $30,000 the fledgling film society collected last summer in a bid to save the movie house. Keeping the theatre in the community was something Danny and Letty Mullin also wanted, after 79-year-old Mr. Mullin saw the For Sale sign last winter. A Liverpudlian and film fan who came to Canada in the 1950s, Mr. Mullin made his way shrewdly through life on a series of modest jobs, from bartending and cleaning to collecting garbage. He met his wife, then a bookkeeper at the University of Toronto Faculty Club, while he was serving drinks there. They never bothered to buy a car; instead, they invested in real estate, and in their son's private-school education. He's now a doctor in New York. The couple live in an apartment building they own on Indian Road, a short walk from the Revue. They bought the cinema for $954,000, a decent haggle downward from the asking price of $1.275 million. "I paid a high price for this, but that doesn't bother me, because in another 10 years, it'll be double," Mr. Mullin said. As for taking on the role of owner, "what we've done is very easy," he told his neighbours - who will actually run the cinema. "You guys have done all the hard work."

FILM TIDBITS

Away From Her Tops $1-Million

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon


(June 8, 2007) Films about older characters dealing with aging don't have to mean box-office death, as proved by first-time director Sarah Polley's
Away from Her, which has grossed $1-million in Canada since opening on May 4, according to its distributors. The highly acclaimed film, which stars Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent as a couple coping with Alzheimer's and wayward love, and is based on Alice Munro's story The Bear Came Over the Mountain, is the first English-Canadian film to cross the $1-million mark this year, the film's Canadian distributors, Mongrel Media and Capri Releasing, said yesterday. It is currently screening in 38 theatres across Canada. Hussain Amarshi, Mongrel's president, notes that the $1-million figure also includes box-office revenue from the Film Circuit, special screenings of the film in smaller cities and towns through a division of the Toronto International Film Festival Group. "Art-house films are primarily sold by word of mouth. You can have the greatest reviews. You can have the best campaign in the world. But at the end of the day, it's on very few screens, and it's the word of mouth that keeps the film going," Amarshi said. In the U.S., Away from Her has grossed more than $2-million through its American distributor Lions Gate. The film has also delivered Polley into world cinema's inner circle, as she took Away from Her from its premiere at the last Toronto International Film Festival to such key festivals as Sundance and Berlin, culminating in her recent stint on the jury in Cannes.

Tyler Perry To Film ‘Meet The Browns’

Excerpt form www.eurweb.com

(June 8, 2007) *
Tyler Perry will again don the Madea housedresses for a film adaptation of his stage production, “Meet the Browns,” due in early 2008 for Lionsgate. The story follows a single mother in Chicago who takes her family to Georgia for the funeral of her father, whom she never met. There, she is introduced to her father’s crude-yet-fun-loving Brown family. News of the film comes a day after the premiere of Perry ’s TBS sitcom “House of Payne,” which is being distributed in first-run syndication by Lionsgate's wholly owned Debmar-Mercury subsidiary. The series debut has become the No. 1 sitcom telecast in TBS history among adults 18-34, adults 18-49, adults 25-54, overall viewers and overall households, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.   The show, which grew a strong 12% from the first episode to the second, also provided TBS with the network’s top series telecast of all time among all key adult demos, households and viewers, as well as ad-supported cable’s top scripted telecast for the year to date among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.  Perry and Lionsgate first struck gold in Feb. 2005 with “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” which became an unexpected box-office hit opening at No. 1 and eventually earning more than $50 million. A year later, Perry scored another No. 1 opening with “Madea’s Family Reunion.”  His next film, the Madea-less “Daddy’s Little Girls,” earned over $13 million during its opening weekend this past February. His fourth Lionsgate feature, " Tyler Perry 's Why Did I Get Married?" is slated for a November 16 release.

It's Not The End For Shrek

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 12, 2007) BERLIN–Galvanized by the success of
Shrek the Third, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg said the tale of the green ogre who married a princess will not be the last. "More Shreks are coming!" said Katzenberg Friday, flanked by Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Justin Timberlake at a news conference in Berlin in advance of the movie's German premiere. Katzenberg said the next film will be a half-hour animated TV special called Shrek the Halls, featuring the Shrek characters' own versions of holiday traditions. As for the plot of the fourth instalment of the Shrek movie franchise, Katzenberg would only reveal that Shrek will have to come to terms with something difficult in his own past. Meanwhile, during Shrek the Third's premiere in Britain yesterday, the media event focused intently on two of the movie's stars: ex-couple Diaz and Timberlake. The duo – who had been dating since 2003 – confirmed their split in early January. Diaz, 34, and Timberlake, 26, embraced just before stepping onto the green carpet before a large crowd in London's glittering Leicester Square. "We're friends. It's good to see him," said Diaz. "It's great having him around. We've not been able to sit down and have a chat yet, we've been so busy." Asked about his love life, Timberlake joked: "I'm allergic to those type of questions."

::TV NEWS::

Isaiah Washington Dropped From Grey's Anatomy

Source: Associated Press

(June 8, 2007) LOS ANGELES —
Isaiah Washington has lost his job on the hit ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy, five months after creating a furor with his use of an anti-gay slur. Washington's contract option was not renewed for next season, series producer ABC Television Studios said Thursday. “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more,” Washington said in a statement released through his publicist, Howard Bragman, without elaboration. He drew fire after using the 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. Gay rights groups and cast member Katherine Heigl, who publicly denounced Washington, were among his most vocal critics. “This is something that will have changed the scope of his life,” Heigl told Entertainment Weekly last month. Washington was “sorry and embarrassed” for the mistake, she said.

Washington tried to make amends and said he was seeking therapy. He also met with officials from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and filmed a public service announcement in which he said “words have power” to hurt or heal. The May finale of Grey's Anatomy opened the door for the departure of his character. Burke was on the verge of marrying Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), but her doubts at first delayed and then derailed their splashy wedding. Later, Yang found that Burke cleared out his favourite possessions from their apartment. In May, Bragman said the actor intended to spend the summer working and not worrying about the show. Washington intended to continue his charity work in Sierra Leone, which a DNA test showed to be his ancestral home, and work on an independent movie.

Barker's Farewell To The Price Is Right

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 07, 2007) LOS ANGELES – With his final show in the can,
Bob Barker is officially retired. The 83-year-old daytime icon filmed his last episode of The Price Is Right on Wednesday, ending his 35-year tenure on the CBS show and 50 years on television. "I thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting me into your home for more than 50 years. I'm truly grateful, and I hope that all of you have enjoyed your visit to The Price Is Right,'' Barker told the studio audience after the cameras stopped rolling. The episode is scheduled to air twice June 15: once at its usual time and again that evening. Reruns of Barker-hosted shows will play until the new season premieres in the fall. Among the reported candidates to replace Barker are Todd Newton of the E! network, Mark Steines of Entertainment Tonight, George Hamilton and John O'Hurley. "You're never going to be able to find somebody who's just like Bob Barker," said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, chief executive of FremantleMedia North America, which produces The Price Is Right. "They're very large shoes to fill.''

Barker ended his record tenure by blowing kisses and working in the same low-key, genial fashion that made him one of daytime TV's biggest stars. He closed the show with his usual, "Help control the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered. Goodbye everybody.'' Later, Barker was humble when asked what qualities have made him an American favourite for half a century. "Hosts of shows are like pie," he said during a post-show press conference. "Some people like lemon, some like cherry, some like apple, and fortunately a lot of them like the Barker kind.'' He said the key to his success is listening. "When I talk with someone, I listen. And I think if you do, you're going to find little nuggets of gold to go with.'' Barker answered questions from the audience during commercial breaks in the taping. "Someone asked, will I spend my mornings watching The Price Is Right? In as few words as possible, no," he quipped. He quickly conceded, however, that curiosity might get the better of him. He said the only souvenir he planned to take with him from the Price studio was the sign from his dressing room door. "The guys put up a sign that (says) WGMC, world's greatest master of ceremonies.''

Barker began his national television career in 1956 as the host of Truth or Consequences. He first appeared on The Price Is Right on Sept. 4, 1972, and has been the face of the show ever since. For 35 years, he has played the same games with contestants and filmed from the same spot – Studio 33, aka the Bob Barker Studio – at CBS Television City. "The only thing that's changed on The Price Is Right is the color of my hair," Barker said during a CBS prime-time tribute show that aired last month. Barker has influenced the show's prizes over the years, said long-time producer Roger Dobkowitz. "Because he's a vegetarian, we respect his wishes and we don't advertise meat products on the show," he said. At Barker's request, they also stopped giving away fur coats. The silver-haired host's long reign has also inspired fan traditions. Most female contestants – and even some men – kiss him on the cheek. Members of the military wear their uniforms. College students wear their university sweatshirts and groups of fans come in matching custom-made T-shirts. As the legendary host counted down his last days on the air, fans from around the country made pilgrimages to Los Angeles to see him. Dozens camped out overnight near CBS studios for a chance to say goodbye during Barker's final week of shows.

"This is over-the-top amazing. It's like a piece of Americana," said Terry Baldwin, 55, of Pebble Beach, Calif., who had camped out overnight to ensure she got a seat in the audience for Barker's last show. "You could feel the electricity all day long.'' Barker's long tenure was chequered by lawsuits brought by past "Barker's Beauties," the gown-wearing hostesses who present prizes such as microwaves, pinball machines and brand-new cars. Some sued him for sexual harassment and wrongful termination over the years. Most received out-of-court financial settlements. Barker said he has no regrets – yet – about retiring: "Isn't that strange? I expected to have second thoughts.'' He plans to fill his free time with travel, exercise and working with his animal charity, the DJ&T Foundation, named for his late wife, Dorothy Jo, and mother, Matilda ("Everybody called her Tilly" he said). But he will miss the show. "How many 83-year-old men get up every morning knowing that they're going to have a standing ovation sometime during the day?''

Debate Rages Over Sopranos Finale

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press

(June 11, 2007) NEW YORK – And so on the first day of Year One A.T. – After Tony, that is – the
Sopranos-viewing world was split in two camps. One was muttering bitterly into its morning coffee at the open-ended conclusion of the epic series, a banal family moment over onion rings that would have delighted existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, author of Being and Nothingness. The other was lavishly praising the iconic HBO drama for capturing life's essential ambiguity and disorderliness. Forget Tony for a minute – the guy's been psychoanalyzed for years. Does all this say anything about US? For some popular culture critics, the two reactions speak to the difference between entertainment and art, and which of them we want. If we wanted pure entertainment, there was obvious disappointment – no, aggravation – in a finale that set up threats to Tony's life in that last diner scene, then ended abruptly. But if we see it as art, they say, then why should we object to the artist – series creator David Chase, said to be vacationing in a French chateau Monday – painting final brush strokes on his masterpiece as he wishes? And in retrospect, aren't unanswered questions in perfect keeping with the moral ambiguity that's infused the whole series? And aren't loose ends a huge part of life?

"In our popular culture, we've come to expect things to get tied up neatly," said Jerry Herron, a professor at Wayne State University in Michigan, who found the ending brilliant. "The claim that Chase is making as an artist here is, real life doesn't have neat endings. "You want Tony blown away? You want him in jail? Chase is saying, 'Fine, you write that script,'" Herron said. "He's saying that life goes on, and art goes on, and he's just going to end it right here.'' Brilliant wasn't a good enough word for screenwriting professor Richard Walter, of the UCLA Film School, to describe Sunday night's finale. "That's too tame," he said. "This was genius!'' "Sure, I was frustrated," Walter said of the final cut-to-black as Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" played on the jukebox. "But you don't want everything tied up with a neat ribbon on it. I don't know what's going to happen in MY life. Do you know what's going to happen in yours?'' One thing was clear: around office water coolers, on blogs and on message boards, people wanted to talk about the finale. Their most immediate question: had the cable gone on the fritz? (The final cut was followed by a few seconds of darkness and silence before the credits rolled.) For some watching on DVRs or TiVo, there was also a moment of fear that the show had run over and they'd missed the ending – a frustration that occurred with this year's American Idol finale.

Nielsen Media Research didn't immediately have ratings information. However, preliminary estimates indicated viewership at the four biggest broadcast networks was down in double-digit percentages compared to last year. And HBO said its website crashed shortly after the episode due to the volume of people checking in and posting messages. There were 364,000 page views a second at its peak – "just astronomical," said spokesman Jeff Cuson. It took a half hour to get the website up again, and an hour for the bulletin boards. The blogosphere was buzzing as well. On technorati.com, a site that monitors blog activity, the second-most popular term Monday morning was "Sopranos," after "YouTube." (It even beat out Paris Hilton, down to No. 4.) For many fans, there was disappointment, befuddlement, even rage. "YOU GUYS GOT ROBBED – MAJOR BIG TIME!!!!!'', one wrote on HBO's message board. "David Chase left way too many loose ends dangling in the air, and too many questions unanswered.'' Some critics agreed. "Tony and Gang Whack Fans," read the front-page headline of the New York Post, which pronounced the finale "spectacularly disappointing." Yet others argued the opposite. "Chase was true to himself, and that's what made The Sopranos brilliant on Sunday night, and the 85 episodes that went before," wrote The AP's Frazier Moore. Some suspected that Chase had an ulterior motive for pulling his punches, plotwise: a future Sopranos movie. "The line to cancel HBO starts here," wrote Hollywood analyst Nikke Finke on her Deadline Hollywood website. "What a ridiculously disappointing end ... Even if David Chase ... was demonstrating the existential and endless loop of Tony's life or the moments before the hit that causes his death, it still robbed the audience of visual closure. And if it were done to segue into a motion picture sequel, then that kind of crass commercialism shouldn't be tolerated. There's even buzz that the real ending will only be available on the series' final DVD. Either way, it was terrible.''

As Monday wore on, however, there was the sense among some people that the ending, so frustrating at first viewing, was a lot more plausible after a night's sleep. "I was really annoyed watching it," said Marlene Windmiller, a New York attorney and mother. "But now as I think about it, it makes more sense. You know, it was what it was. There really was no more left to say.'' To one of the nation's top television analysts, critiquing the Sopranos finale seemed a little like picking apart a famous work of literature – for example, by James Joyce or T.S. Eliot – and saying parts of it don't work. "Every critic says this is one of the greatest works of art ever made for the small screen," said Robert Thompson, of Syracuse University's Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture. ``You can't second-guess the artist.'' He compared the ending to that of another popular HBO drama, Sex and the City, in which Carrie Bradshaw finally got her man, Mr. Big. "Now, that was satisfying," Thompson said. But was it real? "You had these independent women pairing off like Noah's ark," he said. "This was disappointing, sure," said Thompson, who initially thought that Chase, who'd been rumoured to have shot three endings, simply forgot to add one of them on. "But you could also say this is what the show needed to do to stay true to itself.''

Joost Acting Like A TV Network

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Grant Robertson

(June 12, 2007) BANFF, ALTA. — When broadcasters and television producers were given a sneak peek yesterday at Joost - the highly anticipated TV website that is preparing for its public unveiling in the next few months - what they saw was a giant snake. It was an accidental move by Joost's senior vice-president, Stacey Seltzer, who randomly chose one of the site's 150-plus channels to demonstrate to those at the Banff World Television Festival how the Internet video site works. But the 20-foot image of a hissing cobra, streaming live on one of Joost's nature channels that are still in test mode, was fitting for Web TV. In the TV industry's eyes, Web players such as YouTube are the ones who have slithered into the industry over the past two years, taking content for free, fragmenting audiences and not compensating the networks or the producers. Joost, which has spent the better part of the past year trying to sign broadcasters and producers to legitimate content deals, is trying to avoid being the next snake in the grass. In perhaps one of the clearest signals of the massive shift from TV to the Internet, Joost executives have arrived at this year's festival ready to make deals with producers. In a sense, they are operating just as any network might: sitting in and listening to excited pitches from hopeful writers looking to pen the next hit and deciding where to spend.

"We came here to meet with people in the digital space, talk about new ideas ...," Seltzer said yesterday. "But now we're taking the next couple of days to meet with all the different kinds of providers and work on deals with them." And like a traditional broadcaster, Joost brought its chequebook. The Web-TV start-up has 37 advertisers lined up so far and is willing to share that money with content providers who climb aboard. Joost already has agreements in place with Canadian players CHUM Ltd. and JumpTV, but it hasn't launched publicly yet. That is expected by the end of summer. Until then, Joost is in test mode. The start-up, launched by the creators of the controversial file-sharing site Kazaa and the Internet talk service Skype, which sold to eBay in 2005, is a pure Web-TV idea. While YouTube operates on a small screen with grainy, often pirated content, Joost wants to do legitimate deals for programs that can be shown full-screen. And it still has a long way to go. While Joost has signed deals with heavy hitters such as CBS/Viacom, it still lacks the major deals for the top shows on television, which observers believe will be what eventually moves Web TV into the mainstream.

Will Ted Rogers Open His Wallet For TV?

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Keith Mcarthur And Grant Robertson

(June 12, 2007) After watching Ted Rogers pay a hefty premium to buy five CITY-TV stations, advertisers are watching to see whether he will open up his wallet to turn them into a legitimate third television network. Canada's two major private networks, CTV and Global, have learned that the secret to winning the television wars in Canada is to spend big on U.S. programming. Some industry observers say
Rogers Communications Inc. may spend big on U.S. programming, operating the network at a loss for a few years, in order to build it up. But others say that while Rogers has much deeper pockets than former owner CHUM Ltd., it may not want to outbid CTV and Global in the annual spring pilgrimage to Los Angeles to seek out and acquire the next big hit.

While CTV has 21 conventional stations and Global has 10 (plus another five at its CH network, which is being rebranded as E!), CITY-TV only has stations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto. “They just don't have the revenue base there to be able to afford the big, big stuff,” said Jeff Wills, who buys advertising on behalf of marketers at Wills & Co. Media Strategies. “They may want to spend more money than CHUM did, but at the end of the day, they've still got to pay for it somehow and they don't have a full national network,” Mr. Wills said.  Late Monday, Rogers announced that it will pay $375-million to acquire the CITY-TV stations. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had ordered CTVglobemedia Inc. to sell off the CITY-TV stations as part of its $1.4-billion acquisition of Toronto-based CHUM. The price of the deal has surprised industry observers and analysts, since it's about $100-million more than the most bullish estimates of CITY-TV's potential selling price.  “Even with synergies, [the] valuation seems excessive given the low growth associated with CITY-TV's conventional TV assets,” analyst Dvai Ghose at Genuity Capital Markets said in a research note Tuesday.  The CITY-TV stations have revenue of $150-million, but are only breaking even on pretax earnings. The deal could set the stage for a public offering of Rogers Media Inc. division, Mr. Ghose said. The media division, which includes the Sportsnet cable channels, the OMNI multicultural channels, and Rogers' large stable of magazines, could be worth $2-billion, he said. “It would give Rogers a publicly traded, pure-play media company, which in turn could be used for future media acquisitions.” While networks have already acquired programming for the 2007-08 television season, observers say that next year, CITY-TV is likely to spend more on U.S. programming than it did under CHUM, but still less than CTV and Global. Lauren Richards, chief executive officer of media buyer Starcom MediaVest Group, said advertisers may give CITY-TV a disproportionate share of advertising revenue because it is in their interest to help nurture a strong, third independent network. And although CITY only has five stations, they are in the markets that most interest advertisers, she said.

“Advertisers are increasingly getting more selective about where they're putting their advertising dollars from a geography standpoint and smaller markets are really suffering,” Ms. Richards said. “That helps [CITY stations], even if their programming isn't as strong. At least they're in the places that we need them to be.” Hugh Dow, president of media buyer M2 Universal, said Rogers may be able to provide marketers with opportunities to advertise across the company – on CITY-TV, its Sportsnet channels, magazines and over its mobile phones. But he hopes Rogers will be able to maintain the unique CITY-TV culture, which appeals to advertisers because of the network's willingness to break new ground with product placement and branded content. “I think it distinguishes CITY and provides them with a competitive edge that they can't always secure through top 20 programming or through numbers,” Mr. Dow said. “But they can and were able to provide that identity in terms of their willingness to explore new territory with advertisers.”

TV TIDBITS

Gemini Awards Heading For Regina

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Canadian Press

(June 8, 2007) REGINA — The
Gemini Awards, which celebrate the best in Canadian television, are heading to the Prairies and for the first time the gala show will be open to public. The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television says this year's broadcast will be held in Regina. Academy chair Paul Gratton says Saskatchewan is a good choice because of the success of Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, both of which are based in the province. Gratton also says there was a lot of enthusiasm from local officials. Show organizers say the venue for the Oct. 28 gala, the Conexus Arts Centre, has enough space to allow tickets to be sold to the public. It's the first time that's ever happened for the Gemini Awards, although how many tickets will be available is still unknown.

Keyshia Cole Reality Show Back For Season 2

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 13, 2007) *The second season of BET’s reality show
Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is” will begin airing this fall with episodes showing the making of her sophomore album “Just Like You,” tentatively due on Sept. 18. Next week, Benny Boom will shoot a video for the first single, “Let It Go,” featuring cameos from guest artists Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim. Cole and her manager, Manny Halley, are serving as executive producers for the second season of “The Way It Is,” which will also focus on Cole's mother's recent release from prison.   The Bay area native’s debut album, also titled "The Way It Is," has sold 1.4 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The breakout hit "Love" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

Will Whoopi Replace Rosie On ‘The View?’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 13, 2007)*The first clue that
Whoopi Goldberg might be ABC’s choice to replace Rosie O’Donnell on “The View” was her appearance last week in Rosie’s vacated chair – the coveted moderator seat christened by O.G. co-host Meredith Viera.        Star magazine is now reporting that the comedian has a lock on the high-profile gig. A “network insider” tells the publication: “As far as everyone at ABC is concerned, she has the job." Executive producer Barbara Walters has reportedly been in talks with Kathy Griffin, Roseanne Barr, Ricki Lake, and Oprah’s BFF Gayle King to join the fold, but Goldberg "has won everyone over," the magazine reports. The source added, she's "liberal and outspoken but not crazy like Rosie." Whoopi, who is close friends with Rosie, is also said to be signing the year-to-year deal that Rosie had asked for. ABC, instead, wanted to lock her down for three more years. Both O’Donnell and Walters said it was this very contract dispute that led to her early exit from the chat show. 

::THEATRE NEWS::

Dora Nominees

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - David Germain, Associated Press

(June 10, 2007) All the nominees for the general theatre division of the
Dora Awards, to be handed out June 25.

For full list go HERE:

NEW PLAY
Morris Panych, What Lies Before Us
Mike McPhaden, Noble Parasites
Michael Hollingsworth, The Saskatchewan Rebellion
Michael Healey, Generous
Damien Atkins, Lucy

NEW MUSICAL
Florence Gibson and Shawn Byfield, i think i can
Neil Bartram (music and lyrics) and Brian Hill (book), The Story of My Life
Cast, Bird Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
Scorched Tarragon Theatre in co-production with the National Arts Centre, English Theatre
Of Mice and Men CanStage in co-production with Theatre Calgary
Leaving Home Soulpepper Theatre Company
Insomnia Necessary Angel , a joint production with Theatre Junction, Calgary
Here Lies Henry Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents da da kamera

PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL
We Will Rock You, David and Ed Mirvish and the Kimsa Group in association with Queen Theatrical Productions, Phil McIntyre Entertainment and Tribeca Theatricals
The Story of My Life, CanStage
Seussical, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People
Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, CanStage in co-production with The Manitoba Theatre Centre
i think i can, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People

DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Ted Dykstra ,Leaving Home
Richard Rose, Scorched
Jennifer Tarver, Crave
Daniel Brooks, Here Lies Henry
Chris Abraham, Insomnia

DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Ted Dykstra, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show
Conrad Alexandrowicz, i think i can
Christopher Bond & Hinton Battle, Evil Dead the Musical
Ben Elton, We Will Rock You
Allen MacInnis, Seussical

PERFORMANCE BY A MALE IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE - PLAY
Tom McCamus, Thom Pain (based on nothing)
Rick Roberts, John and Beatrice
Kenneth Welsh, Leaving Home
Daniel MacIvor, Here Lies Henry
Ashley Wright, Of Mice and Men

PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE - PLAY
Seana McKenna, Orpheus Descending
Meg Roe, Lucy
Kristen Thomson, The Chairs
Diane D’Aquila, Leaving Home
Caroline Cave, John and Beatrice

PERFORMANCE BY A MALE IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE - MUSICAL
Yvan Pedneault, We Will Rock You
Ryan Ward, Evil Dead the Musical
Jeffrey Kuhn, The Story of My Life
George Masswohl, Seussical
Adam Brazier, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show

PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE - MUSICAL
Sarah Cornell, Evil Dead the Musical
Melody Johnson, i think i can
Jayne Lewis, Menopause Out Loud!
Erica Peck, We Will Rock You
Corrine Koslo, Seussical

PERFORMANCE IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Jane Spidell, Leaving Home
Ensemble Danny, King of the Basement
Ensemble, The Overcoat
Eddie Glen, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show
Colombe Demers, Insomnia
Alon Nashman, Scorched

SET DESIGN
Michael Levine, Das Rheingold
Michael Gianfrancesco, Seussical
Kevin Knight, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
John Jenkins and Allan Stichbury, Of Mice and Men
Derek McLane, Elektra

COSTUME DESIGN
Xiaomin Mo Tang Concubines
Tim Goodchild We Will Rock You
Philip Clarkson Seussical
Nancy Bryant, The Overcoat
Astrid Janson & Sarah Armstrong, The Saskatchewan Rebellion

LIGHTING DESIGN
Thomas C. Hase, Elektra
Kimberly Purtell, Crave
Kevin Lamotte, Of Mice and Men
Andy Moro, Here Lies Henry
Alan Brodie, The Overcoat

SOUND DESIGN/COMPOSITION
Todd Charlton, Scorched
Richard Feren, Here Lies Henry
Richard Feren, Insomnia
Cathy Nosaty, i think i can
Bobby Aitken, We Will Rock You

MUSICAL DIRECTION
Rick Fox, We Will Rock You
Richard Bradshaw, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Richard Bradshaw, Elektra
Elizabeth Baird, Seussical
Andrew Parrott, Orpheus and Eurydice

CHOREOGRAPHY IN A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Nicola Pantin, Seussical
Jonathan Feng Han, Tang Concubines
Jody Ripplinger, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show
Hinton Battle, Evil Dead the Musical
Arlene Williams,We Will Rock You

TOURING PRODUCTION
Le Professionnel, Théâtre français de Toronto
Mabou Mines DollHouse, Harbourfront Centre
MacHomer, Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Harbourfront Centre
Tempting Providence, Factory Theatre

Spring Awakening, Utopia Dominate Tonys

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press

(June 10, 2007) NEW YORK — Spring Awakening, a pounding post-rock musical of teenage sexual anxiety, and Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, a sprawling tale of 19th century Russian intellectuals, dominated the
2007 Tony Awards Sunday. Spring Awakening captured eight awards, including best musical, and The Coast of Utopia had seven, including best play, a Tony record. The previous record was six, held by Death of A Salesman and History Boys. Spring Awakening picked up the best score award for Duncan Sheik and lyricist Steven Sater, who also received the prize for book of a musical. “Musical theatre rocks,” said Sheik, who also won for orchestrations. “Steven and I definitely set out to make a new kind of musical,” Sheik said. “We were trying to forge our own path. I think we got lucky timing-wise — what's happening politically. People were ready to deal with something that had teeth.”  Its director, Michael Mayer, also won as did John Gallagher Jr., who portrays a manic student in the show. He received the featured-actor musical prize. “Heaven must feel like this,” enthused the 22-year-old Gallagher. Later backstage, he said, “I can't feel anything right now, not even my arms. It's an honour and a thrill that never in a million years would I dream for myself.” Bill T. Jones danced down the aisle as he accepted his award for choreography for the musical. “I am a happy man,” said Jones.

Stoppard's epic was equally successful in picking up awards. Jack O'Brien, its director, won as did two of the featured players in its large cast — Billy Crudup and Jennifer Ehle. “I know what Everest feels like,” O'Brien said. Utopia also swept the play technical awards, winning prizes for sets, costumes and lighting. The musical technical nods were split three ways: sets, Mary Poppins; costumes, Grey Gardens and lighting, Spring Awakening. As expected Christine Ebersole took home the actress-musical prize for her critically acclaimed performance in Grey Gardens. Frank Langella, winning his third Tony, took the actor-play prize, for his sympathetic portrait of Richard M. Nixon in Frost/Nixon. “I am very proud to work among you splendid people,” a gracious Langella said. “I can't believe anything,” said an emotional David Hyde Pierce, whose portrayal of a musical-theatre loving detective in Curtains was a surprised winner of the actor-musical prize. Also in something of an upset, an ebullient Julie White received the actress-play award for her portrayal of a conniving agent in Douglas Carter Beane's satiric The Little Dog Laughed. Said a disbelieving White, “You Tony voters — what a bunch of wacky, crazy kids.” Equally overjoyed was Mary Louise Wilson, who copped the featured actress-musical prize for her role as the delightfully eccentric Big Edie in Grey Gardens. She came on stage and said, “Everyone has been so articulate.” Then she let out howl of delight as the audience cheered. Within hours of its final curtain Sunday, Journey's End, R.C. Sherriff's anti-war drama won the revival play award as producer Bill Haber came on stage with the entire cast to accept the war. Despite enthusiastic reviews, the production struggled at the box office and closed after a disappointing four-month run.

The musical revival prize went to Company. Business was robust on Broadway during the 2006-2007 season as both grosses ($939-million U.S.) and attendance rose, with the number of theatregoers topping the 12-million mark for the second year in a row. Thirty-five productions opened during the year, including 12 new musicals and 11 new plays, according to the League of American Theatres and Producers. The 2007 Tonys, broadcast by CBS, include 25 competitive categories and were voted on by 785 members of the theatrical community. The awards were founded in 1947 by the American Theatre Wing which now produces the show with the League of American Theatres and Producers.

2007 Tony Award winners:

Musical: Spring Awakening
Play: The Coast of Utopia
Actor-Musical: David Hyde Pierce, Curtains
Actress-Musical: Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens
Actor-Play: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Actress-Play: Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed
Revival-Musical: Company
Revival-Play: Journey's End
Direction-Musical: Michael Mayer, Spring Awakening
Direction-Play: Jack O'Brien, The Coast of Utopia
Featured Actress-Musical: Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens
Featured Actor-Musical: John Gallagher Jr., Spring Awakening
Featured Actor-Play: Billy Crudup, The Coast of Utopia
Featured Actress-Play: Jennifer Ehle, The Coast of Utopia
Choreography: Bill T. Jones, Spring Awakening
Book-Musical: Steven Sater, Spring Awakening
Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics): Spring Awakening, music by Duncan Sheik, lyrics by Steven Sater
Orchestrations: Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening
Scenic Design-Play: Bob Crowley and Scott Pask, The Coast of Utopia
Scenic Design-Musical: Bob Crowley, Mary Poppins
Costume Design-Play: Catherine Zuber, The Coast of Utopia
Special Theatrical Event: Jay Johnson: The Two and Only
Costume Design-Musical: William Ivey Long, Grey Gardens
Lighting Design-Play: Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner and Natasha Katz, The Coast of Utopia
Lighting Design-Musical: Kevin Adams, Spring Awakening
Regional Theatre Tony Award: Alliance Theatre in Atlanta

Another Step In The Journey

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Vinay Menon

(June 13, 2007) BANFF -
Colm Feore leans forward in his emerald chair and smiles. A rustic, three-level chandelier hangs nearby, casting amber shadows on the Tudor balcony. Outside, fog sits atop the Rockies, mist drifts through pine trees in the Bow Valley. We are inside the Banff Springs Hotel, a castle in the mountains. And this backdrop is appropriate: Canada's prince of a leading man framed by majestic beauty on the day he is crowned with a lifetime Award of Distinction.  Feore's body of work, about 100 projects and counting, includes stage (Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Don Juan), film (Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Chicago) and television (Trudeau, Slings & Arrows). If anybody here at the Banff World Television Festival is entitled to immodesty, it's him. But as he begins to reflect on what it all means, he is so humble, I'm tempted to lean across the oval table and grab his lapels. "The key to whatever it is that I've got going on is my long-standing mantra: `Just keep showing up,'" says Feore. "Very early on in my career I realized that if you could remain standing at the end of the battle, you basically won."

Standing may be the wrong word; Feore never stops moving. He just returned from shooting a French period film in New Orleans. There were work-related detours to Detroit, Montreal and Toronto. "I guess because I come from a repertory theatre environment, I like doing six things at the same time," he says. "It makes sense to me." As he glances over the wrought-iron rail, Feore's face recalls Trudeau. Seconds later, Gould flickers in his eyes. And on it goes, role after iconic role, appearing and fading in a snapshot of body language, a fleeting expression. It's hard to tell where the performer stops and the man begins. "That's how I think it should be as an actor," says Feore. "That you can disappear into what you do." Are there memories that stand out in the blur of time?  "There are watershed moments," he says. "Hamlet was important because it's a great hurdle as an actor. It tells you an awful lot about yourself ... and it gets you ready for the rest of your career." This becomes a recurring theme. The award, the successes, it's not an end, it's a beginning. At the age of 48, Colm Feore is still getting ready for the rest of his career. "It's not a matter of arriving," he says. "It's a matter of the journey."

On this journey, Feore has established himself as the consummate professional, the actor's actor, the director's dream, the eternal artist, the curious student. He approaches every role with the same philosophy. "When you are in the service of someone like Shakespeare, or a character whose worth is undeniable like Trudeau and Gould and you have a responsibility, it's very quickly clear that it's not about you." Looking back, I ask, what amazes you most about the journey? "That I'm still working. That I have a career. It's not like there's a plan, Vinay. In however much longer I've got, at some point I'll turn around and look at a résumé that looks as if we had an idea of what we were doing. But it doesn't work like that." When he's not working, Feore may be found cooking, reading, taking pictures (his work has appeared in this paper) and co-running a frenetic Stratford home – three children, countless activities – with wife Donna, an acclaimed director and choreographer. (Life at home? He quotes Hamlet: "Crowded with incident.") Does he have any regrets? "No, I don't. I don't think I'm allowed the luxury of regret." Then there's a reflective pause. "If I had my wits about me I might have been less callow in my youth. But you only figure that out with the wisdom of age. I was, if not an angry young man, I was certainly excitable and brash and I'm not sure that was that helpful. "Now I've realized that slow and steady wins the race."

::DANCE NEWS::

The Art Of Dance, Simply

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Dance Writer

Shen Wei Dance Arts
(out of 4)
Choreography by Shen Wei. Until Saturday at the Premiere Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000

(June 07, 2007) The only thing wrong with the performances of Rite of Spring and Re- by
Shen Wei Dance Arts is the absence of the musician and singers who originally performed onstage with the dancers.  Shen Wei's Rite of Spring, of all the dozens of dances made for the Igor Stravinsky score, is one of the few that simply addresses the music. This production uses the four-hand piano version performed by Fazil Say. It is spectacular and would be even more so, if the pianist were there responding to the dancers. It's an urban spring rite, perhaps, with the 12 dancers in T-shirts, jeans and black socks. Before the music begins, they stand in rows on either side of a large abstract design on the floor. Straight lines cover a surface of white clouds, as if drawn by a street artist using chalk. One by one, they walk to a spot on the floor. They are young and vivacious. A tall woman with broad shoulders and a brush cut dances like a contemporary princess. A slight Asian man whirls like a dervish. The dancers interpret the music in their bodies. Often they walk in quick, tiny steps. With the bursts of Stravinsky's chords they throw themselves into acrobatic action

The Russian artist Vasily Vasilyevich Kandinsky made paintings that were equivalent to musical compositions. Shen Wei does the same thing with dancers.  Re- (Part One) places two women and two men inside a geometric layout. The design is made of coloured confetti arranged in a large rectangle with circles and squares inside it, like the sand mandalas made by Tibetan Buddhists. As the dancers perform their simple moves – a bit like Tai Chi – they disturb the careful design until it looks like a huge finger painting. Jennifer Tipton's lighting gives a variety of surreal effects, as the dancers recreate their environment, moving to the voices of singer Ani Choying Dolma and to Tibetan chants.  When Re- was first performed, the singers walked around the rectangle. Even without their presence, we can see them.
 

::OTHER NEWS::

Humour Is Laughing Matter For Desi Comics

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Sharada K. Eswar

(June 07, 2007) When it comes to humour, South Asia has been blessed. It boasts a rich tradition that stretches back to court jesters, to Akbar-Birbal witticisms, to a gamut of writers and cartoonists parodying and satirizing society through the ages. Even Bollywood could at one time boast of comic brilliance.  What isn't so funny is the state of humour today. In movies, for instance, "Today's gags are all about ridiculing someone, running down people, systems, traditions," says Mumbai-based playwright, actor and filmmaker Makrand Deshpande. We seem to have forgotten that comedy is different from humour, which can be serious, sarcastic or satirical. Happily for desis, there's no shortage of great comedians - thoughtful ones - in our midst. For instance, Toronto-born superstar
Russell Peters, who now lives in Los Angeles, is the kind of success story dreams are made of - and his shows at the Air Canada Centre June 18 and 19 are just about the hottest tickets in town . Desi Life spoke to three Canadian comic masters who take their humour rather seriously.

Anand Rajaram

The Second City theatre in Toronto is packed. On stage, Anand Rajaram is bringing the house down belting out a Bollywood musical one moment and taking on a fellow cast member the next. "Comedy is extremely challenging because you have to be new," Rajaram says. "I am not saying that it is harder than drama. Being a good dramatic actor, being honest is difficult. Each displays a level of skill. And the best actors are the ones who are versatile."  Rajaram was the first performer from a South Asian background to join any Second City mainstage cast. "When I began, I intellectualized it a lot," he says. "In the end, I realized the only way I could do it would be to play strong characters from a variety of backgrounds, with different accents, so you could never peg me."  In the first sketch he ever performed with the troupe, in the fall of 2005, Rajaram played a cab driver who wears a turban - but who speaks with a Scottish accent. Since then he's played a variety of characters, including Osama bin Laden coming out of hiding to audition as a country singer. But it hasn't been easy getting to where he is. Born in New Delhi, Rajaram came to Canada at age 5. Growing up in Toronto, he was always interested in performing. "I loved to watch the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy."  After graduating in drama studies from the University of Waterloo, Rajaram concluded the best way to break into the business was to create his own plays. Thus was born Hys Unauthoryzed Lyfe & Tymes in 2001, a work with something of everything Rajaram likes - including nonsense verse, comics, cartoons, puppetry and Dadaism.  In 2005, his one-person show Cowboys & Indians, which used traditional South Indian dance to help explore the romance of cowboy culture, won the Summerworks festival's Spotlight Award for outstanding achievement. A Second City producer caught the show and invited Rajaram aboard.  Despite his efforts, there are still times when Rajaram feels stereotyped. One night, he says, "One guy came up and said he knew what to expect when he went to Second City: the tall guy, the short guy, a couple of women and the token ethnic."  Meanwhile, Rajaram prepares to face his next set of challenges. He will soon appear as a regular in the Citytv miniseries Across the River to Motor City, and as a mentor on the CBC show The Second City's Next Comedy Legend.  Rajaram also says he wants to create family theatre, develop a play on the Panchatantra fables and teach shadow puppetry to children. "My objective is to go in there to free their imaginations, so they will find new ways to have fun."

Anita Majumdar

Onstage, Anita Majumdara is playing a high school student named Meena, who struggles to find herself and her cultural identity. Her headstrong dance teacher, Kalyani Aunty, also played by Majumdar, is blaming everything on the British. Welcome to Majumdar's one-woman show Fish Eyes.  "I wanted to be a Bollywood actress," says Majumdar, who was born and raised in Port Moody, B.C., and graduated in 2004 from the National Theatre School in Montreal. She pauses and smiles. "I was na•ve enough to think that I could easily become one."  Bollywood's loss has been Canada's gain as Fish Eyes has been playing to packed houses in Toronto and Vancouver, as well as in India.  "Fish Eyes came out of total necessity," Majumdar says. "People are finally demanding to see themselves onstage. We want to identify with those people. We want our stories told onstage. You can only see those formulaic - I hate to say it - white plays, white middle-class shows so many times. And also, Toronto isn't white. We need to accept that." Fish Eyes sometimes makes people uncomfortable with its political sharpness and straightforwardness. Through the character of Kalyani Aunty, the play delves into the painful period of English colonialism in India.  "I forget sometimes that it is offensive. I'm sort of saying things and I see the occasional white couple and they're just not laughing. The thing is I don't go out of my way to offend people or try to be sensational. But I refuse to show falsity onstage. People like Kalyani Aunty exist."

When people tell her after the show that "you must know my aunt," she feels she's done her job. But there's a serious side to her, too. Majumdar recently earned acclaim in the CBC movie Murder Unveiled, inspired by the true story of a wealthy young South Asian Canadian woman who falls in love with and marries a rickshaw driver in India. When her family finds out, they demand that she annul the marriage. When she refuses, they ultimately have her executed.  The story affected Majumdar deeply and inspired her to take action against such barbaric acts. And she says that will be reflected in her next project, The Honour Killing. "I don't do stand-up. But I have natural flair for humour and feel that if you can draw attention to an issue using humour, then why not?"

Shaun Majumder

Sweating profusely as he holds forth on everything from Raptors' forward Chris Bosh to the Everything To Do With Sex Show, he has the TV audience in stitches. Raj Binder, a.k.a. Shaun Majumder, has wormed his way into the nation's households. In a few short years, Majumder has blossomed into one of Canada's top young stand-up comics.  Since his beginnings as an announcer on YTV, he has become familiar to TV audiences both here and in the U.S., where he has appeared on several programs on the Fox network, as well as feature films. In 2003, he joined CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where he plays Indian reporter Raj Binder. Now, like Peters, he's based in Los Angeles, shuttling between countries as his workload requires.  Majumder's material is slice-of-life - he might talk about his family or his holidays. Or he might launch into a free-form monologue. He has an outstanding range and is adroit at creating intriguing characters and playing them off one another. He takes his time onstage and doesn't rush punchlines. He allows the audience to follow his lead. "Earlier, my comedy used to be about coming up with funny stuff onstage, whereas now I talk more from true life experience," he says.  "In the beginning it wasn't the success that drove me, it was the failure," he says. "Things like being onstage at the Laugh Resort in Toronto and totally bombing, getting no response and thinking, 'My God, this is awful, I can't believe this, I'll never do it again.' That's when you have to step up and grow."  Born and raised in Newfoundland, Majumder couldn't help but develop a sense of humour. He was surrounded by it, whether it was his grandfather's wry take on the world or the antics of friends.  "The place is filled with humour," he says. "When I say 'humour,' I don't mean jokes, but the way they see things and the way they voice their observations. It never ceases to amaze me."  Majumder was recently in Toronto for two days to perform at a fundraiser. Then it was back to L.A., where he is shooting a pilot for Fox.

Sharada K. Eswar is a storyteller, playwright and freelance journalist. Email desilife@thestar.ca.

The Stars Come Out In Toronto

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Lee-Ann Goodman, Canadian Press

(June 9, 2007) Toronto — The stars came out on Saturday — Catherine O'Hara, Gordon Pinsent and Jill Hennessy among them — to have their names immortalized on
Canada's Walk of Fame in a glamorous annual event meant to celebrate the country's biggest cultural success stories. “I promised myself I wouldn't start crying,” Ms. Hennessy, dressed in a gold-coloured gown and accompanied by her twin, Jacqueline, said on the red carpet as fans shouted for her autograph. “This is so meaningful because this country's given me so much. I am lucky to have been born here ... I love the generosity and the humility and the talent of everybody here and I wouldn't be where I am today without this country.” Seven stars were inducted into the Walk of Fame this year: Ms. Hennessy, Ms. O'Hara, Mr. Pinsent, rock band Nickelback, Maple Leaf goal-tending legend Johnny Bower, “Man in Motion” Rick Hansen and CTV news anchor Lloyd Roberton, the first journalist to join the ranks. Hollywood film mogul Ivan Reitman, who was inducted in 2001, was also there to join the celebrations. All were on hand on a brilliantly sunny afternoon in downtown Toronto to walk the red carpet and be honoured at a televised gala hosted by one of Ms. O'Hara's long-time pals, fellow SCTV alum Eugene Levy. The show airs on CTV on Sunday night.

“It's out of this world — his name's going to be permanently engraved in two cities,” Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman, said on the red carpet, referring to his father's star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. When Jason Reitman, director of last year's critically acclaimed Thank You For Smoking, was told he might one day join his father on Canada's Walk of Fame, he replied: “Doubtful. But you know, my last name's down there and that's enough for generations.” The celebrities themselves were just as star-struck in the presence of their fellow inductees as the fans who were cheering them from the sidelines outside the Hummingbird Centre. “Catherine O'Hara is someone who I've always admired, I actually went to study at Second City in Toronto partially because of her,” said Ms. Hennessy, the star of Law and Order and Crossing Jordan. “And Gordon Pinsent is, I think, one of the best working actors today, and he should be much more acknowledged on an international scale. I think he will be and I think he's going to be nominated this year for ‘Away from Her' — I have had a premonition.” Mr. Pinsent, who was handed a white rose by a fan, returned the compliment to Ms. Hennessy, saying he “loved” the actress. “I always thought that Jill was another kind of ambition of mine, but she's got her man with her,” he quipped. But all of the male inductees, including Mr. Pinsent, said they were most excited to meet Mr. Bower, who helped lead the Maple Leafs to three Stanley Cup victories in the 1960s. “Johnny Bower — he played when we had Leafs, real Leafs,” Mr. Pinsent said wistfully. “Johnny was a crucial part of it all.”

Mr. Reitman recalled fondly taking in those winning Leafs. “I remember watching the Maple Leafs with my father through the '60s when he was the great goalie,” said Mr. Reitman. Mr. Hansen agreed that meeting Mr. Bower, frail at 82, was a kick. “On an emotional level as a kid growing up, you can't help but feel close to Johnny Bower. The Leafs and the (Boston) Bruins were my team and Johnny — he was there through all those Stanley Cup years when all of us looked at Canadian hockey in a really special way. He's a class guy, he really is.”

Levy Will Raise Profile Of Autism In Canada

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(June 12, 2007) Canadian actor and director
Eugene Levy has signed on as a spokesperson for autism and is calling for a national strategy to help those affected by the disorder. Levy and Senator Jim Munson are holding a news conference in Toronto tomorrow to speak about what they consider the need for affordable and accessible autism treatment. "I feel extremely passionate about the need for a national autism strategy," Levy said in a news release. Canada is blessed in so many ways but somehow some of our most vulnerable citizens are being wrongfully neglected. It is time to address this wrong and provide these individuals with the same access to medically necessary treatment that the rest of us enjoy throughout our lifetimes under our country's alleged universal health-care system." Autism is a developmental disability resulting from a disorder of the central nervous system. While effective treatments for autism exist, some, such as Applied Behaviour Analysis, are costly and not always covered by insurance plans or the government.

"Many (families) are forced into privately funded treatment, with a price tag of $70,000 to $80,000 per year," said Norrah Whitney, the mother of an autistic son and executive director of Families for Early Autism Treatment. "Families are losing their homes and cashing in their retirement savings, yet are still not able to sustain treatment for their children. This is nothing other than a two-tiered health-care system." Levy, 60, gained fame as a star on the comedy series SCTV. The Hamilton native has also become a fixture of Christopher Guest films like For Your Consideration and Waiting for Guffman.

OTHER TIDBITS

Luminato: Success Or Big Disappointment?

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(June 11, 2007) Star columnists
Christopher Hume and Martin Knelman do not agree on one thing - Luminato. Hume says he was disappointed with the festival, which lacked authenticity. "Luminato was more a businessperson’s notion of what an arts festival should be than the thing itself," he writes. "(Luminato) comes across as a top-down exercise in arts manipulation, an attempt to impose a festival on the city because it’s good for us and the bottom line. Rather than invest in the cultural infrastructure that might help ensure the long-term viability of the arts, the city promotes a one-time festival that subsumes every other event in its path. The opening of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, for example, suddenly finds itself part of Luminato." Entertainment columnist Knelman argues that Luminato was a success, with a half a million people getting in on the experience.  "Despite a few glitches, this first edition of an annual 10-day arts festival was a bigger success than most observers, including me, expected. "Downtown Toronto was alive and buzzing with culture at the front of the city’s mindset in a way that is rare except at film festival time. Luminato is a winner, and it’s here to stay." Read the full text of Hume and Knelman's arguments on Luminato and decide for yourself. 

Backstage At The Walk Of Fame: Photos And Cookies

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - David Germain, Associated Press

(June 11, 2007) The stars came out Saturday – Catherine O'Hara, Gordon Pinsent and Jill Hennessy among them – to have their names immortalized on
Canada's Walk of Fame. And it was a family affair for many. "I'm a proud Canadian, and more than a little embarrassed about all this attention turned my way," said O'Hara, who burst into tears when her sister, Mary Margaret, sang her a song to introduce her at the Hummingbird Centre. O'Hara was joined by six others inducted into the Walk of Fame this year: Hennessy, Pinsent, rock band Nickelback, Johnny Bower, Rick Hansen and Lloyd Robertson. Hollywood film mogul Ivan Reitman, who was inducted in 2001, was also there to be honoured in person.

Nigeria's Achebe Honoured For His Contributions To Fiction

Source: Reuters News Agency

(June 13, 2007) LONDON — Nigeria's
Chinua Achebe, hailed as the father of modern African writing, was awarded the £60,000 ($126,200) Man Booker International Prize Wednesday. His award capped a triumphant month for Nigerian authors, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie last week landed the Orange Prize, one of the literary world's top awards for women writers. Achebe won out over a host of international literary stars, including Canadians Margaret Atwood (a two-time nominee), Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje. The Booker's 15-name List of Contenders also included such authors as Don DeLillo, Doris Lessing, Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie.  The award is granted every two years to a living author for his or her achievements in fiction. Albanian author and poet Ismail Kadare won the 2005 prize, the first to be awarded. Elaine Showalter, who headed the judging panel, said the winner had "inaugurated the modern African novel." Achebe, who is now 76, is best known for his 1958 debut novel Things Fall Apart, which has sold 10 million copies worldwide, and Anthills of the Savannah, which was published 30 years later. A diplomat in the short-lived Biafran government in the late 1960s, he centres his work mainly on African politics and how Africans are depicted in the West. Paralyzed from the waist down in a 1990 car accident, he has lectured at universities around the world and is currently a professor at Bard College in Annandale, N.Y. He has been an inspiration to many African writers, Adichie said. "He is a remarkable man. ... He's what I think writers should be."

::SPORTS NEWS::

One-Year Deal For Sundin?

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter, Sports Reporter

(June 12, 2007)
Mats Sundin's long-anticipated contract extension may end up being for one season instead of two. Sundin, whose wonky hip has been bothering him since Christmas, isn't yet ready to announce that this is his final season but he suggested to Swedish paper Aftonbladet over the weekend that, physically, he's at the point in his career where he is better to assess his future on a year-to-year basis. "At my age, there is no use to plan too far ahead," the 36-year-old told the paper. "I am happy for every year I can play hockey at this level." Sundin reiterated he does not need surgery on the hip but it has forced him to change his regimen and do "very disciplined" workouts every morning. That doesn't mean he isn't having fun. He's been golfing in Spain and visiting relatives in northern Sweden. He also plans on departing soon for a salmon fishing trip to Norway.  Sundin's new deal is expected to be announced soon, possibly today, certainly by Friday when Toronto must either pick up or decline the option year on Sundin's contract that would pay him $4.3 million (all figures U.S.) this coming season. While the Leafs will pay him more than that, it will be less than the $6.3 million hit on the cap (based on the average of his existing contract) if they picked up his option. Leafs GM John Ferguson has also been talking to Todd Reynolds, the agent for defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, Toronto's last remaining restricted free agent. Colaiacovo earned $900,000 last season but deciding on fair value for the 24-year-old is tricky because he has been frequently injured.

Re-signed Leafs, with their 2006-07 and 2007-08 salaries:

Darcy Tucker: $1.596 million, $3 million
Nik Antropov: $1.007 million, $1.95 million
Alexei Ponikarovsky: $725,000, $2.1 million
Ian White: $456,000, $750,000
Andy Wozniewski: $475,000, $500,000
Boyd Devereaux: $500,000, $550,000

OPTION-YEAR DECISION

Mats Sundin: $6.587 million. Should re-sign any day now.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Carlo Colaiacovo: $901,740. Should re-sign.
Staffan Kronwall: $612,000. Will sign.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Mike Peca: $2.5 million. Will he take less?
Jeff O'Neill: $1.5 million. Have we seen the last of him?
Yanic Perreault: $625,000. Can always trade for him again.
J-S Aubin: $525,000. Au revoir.
Bates Battaglia: $500,000. Bring him back.
Travis Green: $500,000. See Perreault, above.

GOODBYE

Alex Suglobov: $550,000. Gone to Russia.

De Rosario Nets Pair To Put Canada On Top

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 12, 2007)  MIAMI–
Dwayne De Rosario scored twice in a three-minute span in the first half and Canada advanced to the second round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-0 win over Haiti last night. The victory assured Canada top spot after the conclusion of Group A matches played at the Orange Bowl. Canada finished with two victories and six points, followed by Costa Rica, which defeated Guadeloupe 1-0 earlier yesterday on a goal by Walter Centeno. Costa Rica and Guadeloupe ended with four points but Costa Rica advanced because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. Guadeloupe still has a chance at the second round as one of the top two third-place finishers. Toronto's De Rosario gave Canada a 1-0 lead with his first goal in the 32nd minute. Paul Stalteri's pass from the right wing found De Rosario open near the goal line of the far post. From a difficult angle, De Rosario, who plays for Houston Dynamos in the MLS, found enough space to beat goalkeeper Gabart Fenelon with a shot to the far post.

Three minutes later, De Rosario converted a penalty kick after Pierre-Richard Bruny fouled Issey Nakajima-Farran inside the penalty area. Fenelon guessed correctly but still couldn't stop De Rosario's low shot inside the left post. Haiti had limited scoring opportunities on Canada goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who missed Canada's 2-1 loss against Guadeloupe because of an MLS commitment on Sunday.  Onstad's slide and save off Alexandre Boucicaut's 15-yard shot in the 38th minute was Haiti's best scoring threat. Onstad overcame a violent collision with Haiti's Ricardo Pierre-Louis in the 54th minute. Onstad hit his head on the turf after colliding with Pierre-Louis while chasing a loose ball.  Onstad remained on the field and was attended to for nearly 10 minutes before resuming play. Haiti's frustrations at not advancing to the elimination round boiled over in the 81st minute, when referee Marco Rodriguez ejected Bruny for his elbow to the head of Canada's Kevin Harmse.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Lewis Hamilton Speeds Into History

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

(June 11, 2007) *British-born
Lewis Hamilton on Sunday became the first black driver to earn a victory in Formula One racing with his first win at the Canadian Grand Prix. "I'm just having a fantastic day," said the 22-year-old from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. "This is history." Hamilton started off at the pole position and never lost the lead during the 70-lap race on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's 2.71-mile road course. His Mercedes McLaren was only challenged by BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, who was on Hamilton all day without ever catching him.  Hamilton finished ahead of Heidfeld by 4.3 seconds to capture his sixth consecutive top-three finish. "It's been a fantastic season already," Hamilton said. "We've had six podiums and I've been ready for quite some time for the win — it's just been a matter of when and where. The team gave me the best car and I had no problems during the race at all." After crossing the finish line, Hamilton climbed out of his silver and red ride, threw his arms in the air and jumped across a barrier to dive into the midst of his crew, hugging everyone in sight.

Darrin's Dance Grooves 2: Learn To Get Your Groove On With New Video

Source: UnityFirst.com

(June 11, 2007) UrbanWorks Entertainment has announced the DVD premiere of
Darrin's Dance Grooves 2.  Dust off your dancing shoes and get ready for another high energy dance session with the master choreographer himself, Darrin Henson!  Learn the latest dance moves, get active and in shape and best of all have FUN! DARRIN'S DANCE GROOVES 2 will hit store shelves on June 12, 2007.  The original Darrin's Dance Grooves which got America groovin' in 2002, sold over 3,000,000 copies and became one of the most successful dance videos of all time.  Darrin Henson, MTV Award Winner and dance choreographer to some of the hottest stars around, including Britney Spears, Prince, Usher, MVP, J-Lo and Justin Timberlake, A must have for any dance or fitness enthusiast, DARRIN'S DANCE GROOVES 2 comes with 5 new cutting-edge, street routines and new bonus material that includes information on how to get ahead in the dance world, from creating your own routines to getting the right head shot.

::FITNESS NEWS::

Summer Shape-Up: Results in 3 Weeks!

By Joyce Vedral, eDiets Contributor

Where did the time go? Summer is here, and you're still not in shape. What to do? With no time to waste, you need to work out seven days a week in short intervals, but the key is to do something different every day to shock your body into shaping up quickly.  The lower or "bathing suit" half of your body of course needs the most work, but you cannot neglect your upper body. You should work upper body twice a week and your lower half every day.

Some examples

On your first workout day you could do an interval aerobics workout emphasizing hips, butt, thighs and abs. On your second workout day you can do stomach and add abs again, but with a different group of abs exercises.  On day three you would do lower again, but with yet again a different set of exercises and so on, until you've completed seven days of working out. The changing of workouts each day forces your working muscles not to get used to the routine and to work harder. In turn, it tightens and tones much faster. By this constant switching you can see major changes in three weeks!  Your routine does not have to be a long one, since you rest little or nothing at all. By doing this, you save time and burn more fat in the process.  Where to begin? Here are three exercises to get you started. Do 15 repetitions of each one and without resting move to the next one.

Saddlebag/Inner Thigh Trimmer

Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your legs straight. Be near something in case you lose your balance.

Movement: Flexing your hip and inner-thigh area, extend your right leg out to the side as far as you can go. Keeping the flex on your working hip and inner-thigh area, return to start and repeat the movement until you have done 15 repetitions. Repeat for the other side of your body. Without resting move to the next exercise.

Standing Serratus Love-Handle Crunch

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a 2 pound dumbbell in your right hand, palms facing outward, bend your elbow so that your arm forms an "L." Place the fingers of your left hand on your right front side "fatty" area.

Movement: Flexing your front side, lower your right elbow towards the center of your body until you cannot go any further. Releasing the tension return to start and repeat the movement until you have done 15 repetitions. Repeat for the other side of your body. Without resting move to the next exercise.

Standing Front Thigh Tightener Leg Extension

Stand with your right knee raised so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. (Be near something to hold if you need it to balance.) Flexing your fright front thigh as hard as possible extend your right leg forward until you cannot go any further. With your right knee still raised, relaxing the tension, return to start and repeat the movement until you have done 15 repetitions. Repeat for the other leg.

The fitness pros at eDiets can show you how to combine exercise and nutrition to get the best results. This is what you’ve been looking for. You will need to make the commitment, but isn’t it time to finally take care of you? Click here to get started.

::MOTIVATION::

Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com — James Allen: Author, As a Man Thinketh

"Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results."