June 20, 2007
Coming at you a day early this week as I'm travelling - going to California for a few days just for some R&R. Happy PRIDE this weekend - celebrate safely.
How about a dose of the sounds of smooth jazz and steelband? Eddie Bullen, Afropan, David Rudder and Demo Cates serveup the sounds of smooth jazz and steelband at Ivory N' Steel on June 24th. And added to the events this week is one of the many Harbourfront Centre festivals this summer - World Rhythms which includes a concert featuring Seun Kuti and Egypt 80.
Ivory N’ Steel – Sunday, June 24, 2007
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
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
Centre Announces The Anticipated Return Of World Routes 2007 - June 4 To
September 3, 2007
Source: Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre is pleased to announce the dates for the 2007 Summer Festival season, as well as the dates for the festivals collectively known as World Routes 2007 presented by RBC. From June through September, Harbourfront Centre will be presenting top Canadian and International artists comprising all creative disciplines including music, dance, theatre, visual arts, readings and film each weekend. Visitors will also enjoy our 10-acre site once again for enriching family activities at multiple waterfront venues. All Summer Festivals are FREE admission.
Visitors to Harbourfront Centre can also experience the rich cultural diversity of each weekend's theme while enjoying rotating shopping and food selections at the International Marketplace and The World Café nestled alongside an expanded boardwalk.
FRIDAY JULY 13 TO SUNDAY, JULY 15
Harbourfront Centre unites the four corners of the globe together with the musical showcase of World Rhythms. Instruments and icons from around the world will be on hand to demonstrate and display how music is the universal language; also features food, dance and visual arts from around the world. Sound is the source of this festival as the major regions of the world showcase their rhythms in this global musical mix. Instruments from the farthest reaches of the world, icons of the world music community, and a captivating demo of how percussive movement has charmed the world over - this festival leaves no stone unturned.
Futuristic funk mash-up with Sa-Ra Creative Partners
Sampled by everyone from Public Enemy to Mos Def, it's the Toronto debut of Motown guitar God Dennis Coffey
SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80
Source: Harbourfront Centre
Co-produced with Music Africa is the Canadian Premiere of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80. The power of a political message, wrapped in an infectious afro-beat lives on as the legendary Egypt 80 band finds the perfect new leader in Seun Kuti, Fela's youngest son. In commemoration of the 10 year anniversary of Fela Kuti's passing. Listen to new recordings from Seun Kuti's upcoming 12"
FRIDAY, JUNE 29
SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80
Opening Act: Eritrean krar virtuoso Daniel Nebiat
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
235 Queens Quay West
Tickets:$25 | $30
Get tickets HERE
**Harbourfront Press Release:
World Rhythms – A
Showcase of Global Sounds and Culture
Friday, July 13 through Sunday, July 15 – ONLY at Harbourfront Centre
(complete event schedule included below)
TORONTO, June 26, 2007 – Harbourfront Centre travelled the four corners of the earth to assemble the incredible line up for World Rhythms. This festival escorts visitors on a journey around the world to bring together globally diverse art, food and culture, an undertaking only Harbourfront Centre could bring to fruition.
With icons of the world music community, traditional and contemporary dance performances, exquisite global culinary demonstrations, awe-inspiring films and visual art displays, as well as plenty of activities for the kids, Harbourfront Centre’s World Rhythms is a gateway to an enriched cultural experience, from Friday, July 13 through Sunday, July 15.
World Rhythms is part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer long series of festivals, World Routes 2007 presented by RBC. Each weekend from June through September, top Canadian and International artists perform in all of the creative disciplines including music, dance, theatre, visual arts, readings and film. Harbourfront Centre’s unparalleled 10-acre waterfront site is prized for its fun and educational family activities at multiple venues, as well as the ethnic diversity of the International Marketplace and World Café. These rotating shops and cafés are nestled along an expanded boardwalk, and enable visitors to explore and access each weekend's cultural theme through the purchase of unique items and food. All World Routes 2007 summer festivals are FREE admission.
Featured music performances include the incomparable Sa-Ra Creative Partners, the Toronto debut of Motown guitar legend Dennis Coffey, the highly acclaimed Mamani Keita & Nicolas Repac, and the exciting Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca. The Canadian Premiere of the documentary Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - The Hotel Mandé Sessions is only one of many very special film screenings.
Stunning dance troupe Ballet en Fuego from New Mexico make their Canadian Debut while the body plays percussion in the special dance performance East Meets West featuring Little Pear Garden Collective and Turn on the Tap. Local musician and world instrument craftsman Nuno Christo will display his unique collection of instruments from around the world and appetites for global cuisine will be satisfied with special Cooking Demonstrations courtesy of local chefs such as Caroline Ishii, Gregg Lewis and Jim Comishen.
For more information on all World Rhythms events the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com
World Rhythms at Harbourfront Centre – All events are FREE
Friday, July 13
8:00 p.m. – The Arsenals – Toronto’s underground Ska legends (Concert Stage)
9:00 p.m. – Soul Influence – soulful a cappella quartet (Toronto Star Stage)
9:30 p.m. – Mamani Keita & Nicolas Repac – Malian songstress and French electronic wizard (Concert Stage)
11:00 p.m. – Pat Braden – Yellowknife based singer/songwriter (Brigantine Room)
7:30 p.m. – Hollywood & Tazz (Toronto Star Stage)
8:30 p.m. – As Old as My Tongue: The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude – Canadian Premiere! (Studio Theatre)
Saturday, July 14
2:00 p.m. – Fiamma Fumana – Northern Italy’s finest (Concert Stage)
3:30 p.m. – Justin Nozuka – Rising Japanese/Canadian soul star! (Concert Stage)
7:00 p.m. – Beyond the Pale – Toronto’s genre-defying specialists, presented by Tilley (Toronto Star Stage)
8:00 p.m. – Dennis Coffey – Motown and jazz guitar legend – Toronto Solo Debut! (Concert Stage)
9:30 p.m. – Sa-Ra Creative Partners – witness “The Future of Music” – Canadian Debut! (Concert Stage)
11:00 p.m. – Peace…What It Is! – Sa Ra Creative Partners After Party with DJ Dave Campbell (Brigantine Room)
1:30 p.m. - Mosaic Dance (Toronto Star Stage)
3:00 p.m. – East Meets West – Little Pear Garden Collective and Turn on the Tap (Toronto Star Stage)
5:00 p.m. – Tarana Dance Academy (Toronto Star Stage)
5:30 p.m. – Ballet En Fuego – New Mexico’s finest dance troupe – Canadian Debut! (Toronto Star Stage)
2:00 p.m. – Mariza and the Story of Fado (Studio Theatre)
7:30 p.m. – The World Talks: The San People of Namibia (Studio Theatre)
9:00 p.m. – Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - The Hotel Mandé Sessions - Canadian Debut! (Studio Theatre)
1:30 p.m. – Chef Jim Comishen – “Jambalaya” Cooking Class (Lakeside Terrace)
3:30 p.m. – Chefs Caroline Ishii & Gregg Lewis of ZenKitchen – Food Demo (Lakeside Terrace)
1:00 p.m. – Children’s Craft Rainstick (Kids Zone Tent)
3:30 p.m. – World Music Instrument Talk with local collector Nuno Christo (Studio Theatre)
Sunday, July 15
3:00 p.m. – Pacha Massive – Colombian rhythms via New York City - part of the Pepsi Concert Series (Concert Stage)
4:30 p.m. – Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca – Legendary Congolese Rumba (Concert Stage)
1:00 p.m. – Bold Steps Dance Studio – Highland Scottish step dance (Toronto Star Stage)
2:30 p.m. – Ballet En Fuego (Toronto Star Stage)
4:00 p.m. – The Road – Emily Cheung and Rina Singha (Toronto Star Stage)
2:00 p.m. – HerSong “La Colombiana” - WORLD PREMIERE! (Studio Theatre)
4:00 p.m. – Breaking the Silence – Music in Afghanistan (Studio Theatre)
5:30 p.m. – The Cult of Walt: Canada’s Polka King (Studio Theatre)
1:00 p.m. – Children’s Craft Rainstick (Kids Zone Tent)
2:00 p.m. – Chef La-Toya Fagon – Food Class “Sweet and Spicy Caribbean
Style Chicken with Vegetables” (Lakeside Terrace)
4:00 p.m. – Tamales Demo with John Martin of Johny Banana (Lakeside Terrace)
Lavigne, Talent Top MMVA Winners
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(June 17, 2007) Billy Talent, Fergie and a teary Avril Lavigne were among the Canadian music stars to take home MuchMusic Video Awards at a star-studded street party on Sunday during which catty remarks flew as freely as the complimentary booze and sushi. Lavigne took the coveted honours of best international video by a Canadian and the fan-voted favourite Canadian artist title, sparking tears from the normally cocky popstar. "All the fans just voted for me and that really means a lot, so thank you," Lavigne said as her eyes welled up, forcing her to bury her head in VJ Leah Miller's chest. Rockers Billy Talent snagged the title for best video, the MuchLOUD best rock video, and the people's choice award for favourite Canadian group. Fergie took the title of best international video (artist) and Belly took the award for best rap video. The music stars claimed their trophies in front of thousands of screaming fans that lined outdoor stages to catch a glimpse of celebrities including Hilary Duff, Maroon 5 and Tara Reid. "It's madness!" Duff declared when she arrived at the annual celebfest, known for a carnival-like atmosphere.
Inside Much headquarters, Canadian Idol host Ben Mulroney, famous twosome Belinda Stronach and Tie Domi, and spurned television personality Mary Jo Eustace were among the notables to wander the halls. Eustace, who last year was kicked out of the party after crossing paths with rival Tori Spelling, said it was nice to finally get a chance to experience the video awards. Her date, former What's For Dinner co-host Ken Kostick and co-host of their current Toronto morning radio show on 103.9 Proud-FM, offered the newly divorced Eustace some tips on finding a new man. "There are some hygiene issues – make a list," Kostick instructed. "Number one: buy a wood chipper; number two: a Shop Vac; number three: some Noma lights, and number four, because that area hasn't been touched in a while, get out the Enddust," Kostick deadpanned. "Can you believe I put up with this guy?" said Eustace, whose husband of 12 years left her for Spelling. Eustace said she and Kostick are drumming up plans for a comeback to Canadian television, hinting that it would be a cooking comedy show.
Out on the red carpet, fashion maven Jeanne Bekker dismissed Canada's reigning Top Model Andrea Muizelaar as not having the ``fabric" to make it in the cut-throat fashion world. Muizelaar recently announced that she had quit the modelling business after being blacklisted for inadvertently comparing Bekker to the fashion witch played by Meryl Streep in the film, The Devil Wears Prada. "She unfortunately blamed us and that's just not where it was at," Bekker said from the red carpet. "She was presented with a golden opportunity that girls would have killed for and it's sad to say she blew it." The live telecast kicked off in typically chaotic fashion with celebrity guests spilling out of outrageous rides on a red carpet lined by fans. Rising rap star Belly arrived in an armoured Brinks truck with a Paris Hilton look-a-like and an entourage that tossed fake bills to the screaming throng. Canadian rockers SUM41 bounded out of their white SUV swigging beer, with front man Deryck Whibley saying he most looked forward to seeing a performance by his wife, Lavigne.
Peters An Equal Opportunity Offender
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter
(June 19, 2007) The thing about a Russell Peters show is that a descriptor like off-colour doesn't really fit. Although the Brampton-born, L.A.-based comedian's stand-up is filled with profanity and sex, this is a performance that is on colour and race more than anything else. Peters is a very well-known commodity here, having cut his teeth in Toronto comedy clubs. By the end of his almost two-hour set last night at the Air Canada Centre, the first of two nights as part of his cross-Canada "Homecoming" tour, Peters had left his devoted fan base wanting more. Ever since he sold out both of his ACC shows, the questions have been asked: Is he really that "big"? And will the comedian be able to connect with a nightly audience of over 14,000 people? But from the moment the lights went down and a short documentary featuring goofy high school shots of Peters interspliced with classic material was shown, it was obvious the audience was a partisan crowd. Peters has been on a world tour for much of the past year, and his natural ease in front of the capacity audience was evident from the moment he walked onstage.
He acknowledged the huge opening salvo of applause with a quick "Stop it, your going to make me cry," before launching into a bit about being schooled in the Dance Dance Revolution video game while in Singapore: "It was the only time in my life when I saw an Asian guy open his eyes really wide." With that, Peters moved through a set of new material that had faint echoes of his older jokes. One of Peters' strengths is it's obvious he does his race research. In some ways, this softens the blow of his outrageous, racially charged statements, because he is so well-versed in a people's culture and foibles, aided by bang-on accents. This knowledge implies understanding, and allows Peters to get away with just about anything. Which is good because nothing is off-limits when Peters is making fun of various culture – last night's show featured jokes about Indian's being cheap, Arab terrorism and even an extended bit about the deaf. But the amazing thing is that it was as if each race in his extremely diverse audience was waiting for their turn to get skewered in Peters' light-hearted manner. "Are they're any West Indians in the house? They're probably mad it took me this long to get to them," he said, and then put on their various accents – Jamaican, Trinidadian and Guyanese. He's an equal opportunity offender, and the audience loves him for it.
Peters is an observational comedian, and his recent world travels has given him plenty of new material. He was recently in the Middle East. "I found out that the terrorists over there are like the rednecks of the Middle East ... they're brown trash," he joked during the show. About performing for an audience filled with women wearing burqas, he said, "they were laughing their eyes off." Getting your race made fun is all part of a Peters show, and the Toronto audience rewarded him with a standing ovation that had a very simple message: It's nice to see a local brown boy make good, particularly when he's saying things that are supposedly so very bad.
Russell Peters plays the second of two nights at Air Canada Centre tonight.
Best Film You Never Saw
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(June 17, 2007) Long out of circulation, but one of the most artful films of its time, Killer of Sheep was a school project intended to serve a social purpose. "It wasn't designed to be released," says director Charles Burnett, who made the black-and-white feature in 1977 while studying film at UCLA. "I made it to show to small groups of activists." Burnett felt that working-class families deserved a dignified treatment and that he could bring a better understanding to poverty issues by simply showing what life was like in his neighbourhood. Burnett's lyrical take on Stan, a depressed slaughterhouse worker, his family and the goings-on in a few blocks of the Watts district of Los Angeles was set to music by Paul Robeson, Dinah Washington, Etta James, George Gershwin and the like. Use of those tracks was unauthorized, says Burnett, because he never envisioned the movie having a commercial release. The idea was to show the film to community workers, putting the question, "What would you do to help Stan?" The film did make it into a few festivals, however, and was hailed – it won the Critics' Award at the Berlin Film Festival (a.k.a. the Berlinale) and was later named one of the 100 Essential Films by the National Society of Film Critics. Trouble was, no one could easily see it. So, to mark the 30th anniversary of Killer of Sheep, Milestone Films has prepared a new 35 mm print.
The first of three showings of the film at Cinematheque Ontario is next Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Stan has his head buried under the kitchen sink when Burnett's camera first seeks him out. "I'm working myself into my own hell," he says to a friend. Killing sheep for a living might have something to do with Stan's state of mind, but Burnett's actors – mostly non-professionals – simply do; they don't explain. Henry Gayle Sanders, who plays Stan, was a Vietnam vet who wrote a novel and then found his vocation in acting. Kaycee Moore "had done some acting workshops," says Burnett. She played Stan's wife. "The rest were non-professionals," says Burnett on the telephone. He still lives in L.A. and makes films, including 1990's highly praised To Sleep With Anger. The children and the games they play in Killer of Sheep were mostly as he found them. Burnett was motivated by what he'd seen in mainstream movies. "Racism in American film," he once said, "kept American films from being honest." Burnett shot Killer of Sheep on 16 mm film for about $10,000. He had a tight script and careful storyboards, but the action was all suggested by real life. "I wanted to show that these were people with certain values and a work ethic," he says. Burnett's family had migrated from Mississippi and inside Watts they never thought of themselves as living close to the poverty line. Seeing the film now, one is struck by how innocent and free the children and adolescents seem to be. They are jumping around on decrepit buildings, throwing rocks or gravel, teasing but not hurting one another. Today in such neighbourhoods there would be knives and guns at the ready. "It is possible to get nostalgic for those times," says Burnett, now working to complete a film about Namibia. "It was about five to ten years before the total breakup of the community."
Killer of Sheep screens at the AGO's Jackman Hall, 317 Dundas St W. (McCaul entrance) on Saturday, June 23, and the following Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $11.56 (non-members) or $7.08 (members). Call 416-968-3456 for tickets.
Deb, Dirk, Mann... Whatever
You Call Her, Just Call
Deb Pearce has a lot to be proud of. The industrious gal about town is a fixture in Toronto's queer community: hosting events, dragging it up king-style and, most recently, returning to the airwaves as host of 103.9 Proud FM's midday program. A series of informal coffee-shop tête-à-têtes led the new gay radio station's program director Rob Basile to extend a job offer to Pearce, already a radio veteran from her previous morning show on Jack FM. What followed was a carefully considered, lengthily deliberated decision for the funny lady. "I contemplated for a millisecond and said, 'Hell, yes!'" says Pearce, laughing. "I took to it like a dyke to water." She did have some trepidation. Pearce's stint at Toronto's "guy station" Jack FM lasted less than a year. Though there were no hard feelings at the programming change that precipitated her departure, the prospect of wading back into broadcasting's fickle waters had its share of personal risk.
"With Jack FM, I didn't anticipate the moment of here today, gone today," she says, "so there was a real moment where I asked myself if I was ready to get back into this. I had to see if my suit of armour was strong enough." Fortunately for all concerned, the Proud environment has shaped up to be not so much a battleground, as a carefully coordinated crusade for an authentically queer radio presence. "We're so incredibly encouraged to just be exactly who we are," Pearce says. "We know we were hired for who we are to the world, to the community and to ourselves. I've never been more myself in a working environment. It's like a family." Their family is growing. Fans from all over the world are tuning in courtesy of the Internet. Pearce is both chuffed and humbled by local and international response to the endeavour. "Some of the e-mails are coming from as far away as the UK, Tokyo and Australia," she says. "There are definitely little soldiers out there e-mailing me from the workplace. They have me in one ear and their boss in the other, tuning in, fighting for recognition and respect. "I had a very special one from a social worker today, saying that I'm a role model for kids and adults." It's not just audiences from the web. Pearce is routinelyapproached by fans old and new. "People on the street are telling me that a lot of parents and friends of our community are tuning in," she says. "They're getting in on the inside joke, discovering the differences and similarities in coexisting in the world... and maybe discovering how we're not all that different." The differences are occasionally highlighted on the streets directly below Proud FM's new quarters, smack-dab in the Church and Wellesley ghetto. Naughty displays of our sexuality are frequently visible from the booth windows which overlook the popular alley below. "Sometimes I'm not sure whether I want to call Crime Stoppers or get my camera out," says Pearce. "I could make a fortune from [Crime Stoppers] tips." The Peterborough native has been pretty lucky when it comes to workplace acceptance. A degree in recreational leadership ("I majored in popcorn and beer") led to a lucrative career teaching conflict resolution for the Toronto school board.
Unhappily, job security flew out the window with the cuts-happy onslaught of Mike Harris's every-rich-white-guy-for-himself revolution in the 1990s. Makeshift stints as a nanny and a barista followed, not to mention a life-changing position in beef telemarketing. "I've since become a vegetarian," she says pointedly. Following her brief sojourn with Jack FM, Pearce eventually settled into property management, where she could easily balance work with her extracurricular ventures. "I always worked in gay buildings," she says. "I'd put up my little Pride sticker, and then continued my other career as a drag king and gender illusionist." It's that career that may have garnered Pearce her most ardent fans. As Mann Murray, the butch(er) version of Canada's sporty songbird, Pearce delights audiences while poking fun at a beloved icon for lesbians nationwide. "I was at a house party 14 years ago, and we were to pick a character of the opposite sex that we identified with," says Pearce. "I thought it would be particularly cheeky to come as Ann Murray. An off-the-cuff comment from someone led to the Mann Murray name. "A few months later I performed her publicly at [Toronto nightclub] El Convento Rico, and Monika Deol introduced me," Pearce says. "I haven't stopped doing her since... Mann Murray that is." When it comes to full drag king performance, Pearce dons her Dirk Diggler persona — a study of the male porn star in all his 1970s glory. "There's a whole new drag king movement that I want to help get its legs," she says. "They're getting great venues and recognition, and I'm happy to be a drag daddy to the younger ones interested in the drag king history." Her drag appearance in Sasha Van Bon Bon's Who's Your Dada for last year's Pride festivities was a fan favourite, but, sadly, her new gig means a full dance card during this year's Pride celebrations as she stumps under the Proud FM banner. "I'll even cut back on some of the partying," she says, "for a few hours at least." Hopefully she'll still have time for the more traditional Pride activities, as befitting a lady of her decorum and stature. "It all usually starts with me on the balcony at home, with fruit and a quick shot of tequila," she laughs. "It's not just for dinner anymore! "Then I pick a spot at Yonge and Dundonald for the Dyke March, and find myself running up and accosting bare-breasted women on motorcycles." The all-female parade has a special meaning for Pearce, who still feels inspired by the gathering after 14 years of village living. "The jury's really out about what the Dyke March means to our community," she says. "For me it brings back a history of when I was just coming out, just after the secret special knock on the bar doors to get in. "The joy in that march is tangible. It's beautiful and self-expressive. It's gorgeous."
Deb Pearce's show on 103.9 Proud FM runs weekdays from 10am to 3pm.
5: Soft And Strong
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop Music Critic
(June 17, 2007) Maroon 5 makes music for girls. Not girls exclusively, mind you. There were surely many males among the 10 million record buyers who turned the band's 2002 debut, Songs About Jane, into one of soft rock's greatest treasure troves since the album-oriented-rock diamond days of Bread, Toto and Christopher Cross –because Maroon 5, in making its music for girls, also makes music about losing girls, missing girls, failing to understand just what girls want and, from time to time, about how Maroon 5 know they're better off without the girls, but can't help keeping the bedroom door open in case they wanna come back. The lads can relate, then. But chief Maroon Adam Levine is secure enough in his position to acknowledge a pronounced demographic slant to the band's audience. "Who says that men are any more in touch with music than women?" offers the lanky front man and guitarist, juggling "cocky" and "candid" in perfect balance scant minutes after stepping off a midday flight from Montreal to Toronto earlier this week. "The guys who have bands that have large, male followings, I'm always like, they're just jealous. If I had to choose if I wanted women or men, I'd probably choose a healthy combination of both. But if I had to choose one or the other, I'd probably choose women."
Levine is no idiot. He speaks easily of Maroon 5's commercial aspirations and collective ear for what seduces the radio. From the faceless, timidly groovy confines of Songs About Jane, the Los Angeles native did manage to cultivate an image as a heartbreaking, tabloid-stalked Lothario linked to an enviable number of Hollywood hotties. He is, however, correct in pointing out that the quintet's unforeseen success with Songs About Jane came slowly and organically over more than two years, based not upon hype but upon Maroon 5's ability to strike a lingering, "pass-it-along" chord with exactly the crowd it had sought. The dogged, worldwide media machine currently mustering around the band's sophomore disc, It Won't Be Soon Before Long, has, in fact, left the band a bit dazed. "Everything just kept happening and happening and piling on top of itself until suddenly we just looked down and realized what we'd built and realized: `Oh, wow, this is intense, this is crazy,'" says Levine. "So now that it's all happening at once, we really realize it. Someone referred to us as a `mega-group' in the paper the other day, and it's strange to think of yourself as that. But I guess it's becoming more and more true all the time ... "In the beginning, there was only the music that was driving it. Now there are other things, obviously, coming in to play, but I think it's a healthy combination. There's a reason why the Beatles were as big as they were – and I am not comparing ourselves to the Beatles at all – but there's always a combination of elements that leads you down whatever path. But with our band, I think, our music was appealing, we were appealing and our music's very accessible, as well, so it all kinda makes sense as one big package."
In its own way, Won't Be Soon might be regarded as an almost daring move for a band in Maroon 5's safe, market-attuned orbit. Or maybe not. Justin Timberlake already redeemed the liquid, Quincy Jones-veneered glide of the early Michael Jackson catalogue (if not quite Michael Jackson himself) for a new era last year, while the conscious referencing of the Police's "Every Breath You Take" on "Won't Go Home Without You" might be considered a shrewd ploy to reach the front of Sting's Rolodex during a reunion year – which will, of course, see Maroon 5 opening a couple of stateside dates this summer. Smart ears might, thus, also discern a Janis Ian revival in the offing, since the vocal melodies to her "At Seventeen" and Maroon's "Nothing Lasts Forever" are nearly interchangeable. Still, Won't Be Soon's Rob-Thomas-does-Terence-Trent-D'Arby pseudo-soul flirtiness is far less egregiously white and male than, say, Linkin Park, giving it a leg up on most of the summer-fluff competition with co-ed record buyers. Maroon 5 is, for instance, already one of the marquee attractions at tonight's Teen Beat-friendly MuchMusic Video Awards. "We did all the things we wanted to do the first time but didn't feel like we had the ability to do yet, for a number of reasons," says Levine. "The first time around, we stripped it down – it could've been a lot more like our second record wound up sounding like, but we were limited by certain things, and we kinda wanted to have a blank canvas. It was kinda like the first record was the blank canvas that would enable us to do the second record. The more stripped-down, the more simplistic the approach, the more we'd be able to go in whatever direction we felt like going with the second record. So we kinda held ourselves back." Is Maroon 5 therefore "holding back" for subsequent albums? Will the ladies be left behind? "Once again, referencing the Beatles, I will say that they were teenyboppers for a few years there before they took acid," says Levine.
"Well, I've gotta say," I tell Levine, "I'm waiting for Maroon 5's acid-rock record." "Well, you never know, man," he says gamely. "We've got it in us, for sure. But that changes. I think that any kind of weird `largeness' that any band goes through has something to do with sex appeal. It's really rare that Rush happens, you know? "There needs to be something other than music that makes something that big."
Doesn't Regret `Going Bad'
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop & Jazz Critic
(June 17, 2007) "We're having some top issues," Rihanna's New York publicist informs a Toronto Star photographer prior to an interview with the young singer. Triggered by the unsightly bulkiness of a decorative bra under the comely teen's sheer blouse, this wardrobe malfunction means a request for close-up shot. "She's got great skin and she's good at posing," said publicist reassures the lensman. You'd think they were discussing a model instead of a pop songstress promoting her third album. But image is everything and Rihanna did just land a Cover Girl gig. And so a village – two publicists, manager, make-up artist, hairstylist – bustle around the swank hotel suite where the 19-year-old Barbados native meets the press. But the machinery is earning its keep: Rihanna has the No. 1 song in Canada this week, "Umbrella." That means four time changes, one cancellation and an hour-long wait before the Star scores its 10-minute slot during the singer's whirlwhind two-day promotional stop:
Q. We heard you weren't feeling well yesterday.
A. I had a really bad cold. My throat was sore and it started to hurt. It got better throughout the day yesterday. I'm good now.
Q. I guess you're learning how to take care of yourself on the road.
A. I still haven't figured it out. I try to have fun with it, but I haven't figured out how to stay exactly healthy yet. I hate vegetables and then sometimes I don't eat because I don't have time.
Q. When is the last time you slept in your own bed?
A. I have not slept in my own bed – ever – since Barbados. I've just been moving in and out of hotels. I just got my apartment in L.A., but I still haven't slept in my bed yet, because my room is not done and I don't want to sleep in my bed – it just seems miserable. So, I sleep on the couch, but I haven't done that in two weeks.
Q. Where were you when you heard that your album hit No. 1?
A. I landed in L.A. off a 12-hour flight from Europe and all these emails came in on my BlackBerry. Having a No. 1 is so incredible, then having it No. 1 in all these different places – Canada, Europe, America, Australia ... sometimes it doesn't make sense. It's overwhelming sometimes.
Q. What statement are you making with the title and sexy cover of your new disc?
A. This is just the Rihanna that was always hidden. I call it Good Girl Gone Bad, because I got really rebellious and broke out of my innocent shell. I wanted to do things that are more fun and interesting. I didn't want a generic boring look anymore. When you listen to the album, or read through the (song) titles, it's stuff I would never have sung about as a 17-year-old.
Q. Like that risqué "under my hood" line from "Shut Up and Drive"?
A. Yeah. "Breakin' Dishes" is another one. "Rehab" is another one. And not just the risqué stuff, but deep songs, like "Question Existing." Ne-Yo wrote that one, but it speaks for every artist or entertainer out there. I don't care if you're a rapper, or a singer, new or been here a lot time, that song speaks for all of us."
Q. Barbados is a pretty conservative society, what response has your new look been garnering back home?
A. They're not loving it. Well, the teenagers love it, the older community is going crazy. But this is me. I have to be comfortable with myself. I'm done trying to do things to please people and make myself unhappy. This is what I'm going to do and I don't really care who likes it or who hates it.
The 'Spotlight' Is On Soul Music
Source: Katrina Boswell, Kat Walk Media, Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
(June 15, 2007) New York, NY -- Where does one go when they're in the mood for the good times, good vibes, and good feelings that soul music brings - they go to SpotlightGrooves.com! SpotlightGrooves.com is "Your Source for Soul" bringing to the masses the very latest in R&B, Gospel, and Caribbean music. From the newest music releases of classic recording artists and today's top recording artists, to the refreshing sounds of the undiscovered talents of tomorrow, SpotlightGrooves.com is your connection. In honour of June being Black Music Month, SpotlightGrooves.com has revamped with a new look, refreshing content, and a community for stellar soul musicians. Viewers are able to listen and watch interviews with the artists, be informed, and purchase current releases from their favourite classic artists like Deniece Williams, Howard Hewitt, The Clark Sisters, and others, as well as their favourite artists from today, like Joe, J. Moss, & Ne-Yo. SpotlightGrooves.com has a full collection of artist bios, CD reviews, audio, music videos, and event coverage. Also this month, SpotlightGrooves.com is running a CD giveaway contest for Amel Larrieux's newest release "Lovely Standards".
SpotlightGrooves.com was founded in 2005 by Shayna Miller, a technology sales executive and a music lover who found it difficult to find online information about her favourite artists. Shayna's primary reason for launching SpotlightGrooves.com was to fill the void of content on the web dedicated to soul music and to create a one-of-a-kind site that was informative and interactive.
Shayna says, "I was surprised by the lack of information available about some of our most celebrated musicians. Understanding the massive marketing powers of the Internet, I mixed my passion for music with the knowledge and relationships I'd gained selling the handheld electronics that fuelled the music industry and launched SpotlightGrooves.com; a platform to promote established artists and to develop the aspiring ones." SpotlightGrooves.com is focused on developing its soul music community into a platform for up-and-coming artists and established artists to market and promote their music. By offering a full boutique of online marketing services and events - "Spotlighting the Cream of the Crop" - will aim to connect invigorating performers with a newfound audience. SpotlightGrooves.com has many more exciting things to come including a concert series, more spotlight artists, interviews, ongoing contests, and lots more.
For more information, please visit: www.SpotlightGrooves.com - Your Source for Soul! ™
Willie Nelson, Still The Rebel
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green
(June 19, 2007) Willie Nelson has two homes, a ranch in Texas and a house in Maui, or three if you count the tour bus that he runs on bio-diesel. In less material terms, he also lives in a rambling house of song that has been under construction for several generations. The man who became famous as a country-music outlaw (alongside Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard) has become a devout custodian of the music of the past. His last two albums were devoted to classic, half-forgotten tunes from the forties and fifties that he felt it his duty to revive, including last year's revelatory You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker. "If you have a way to record music, I think you have a responsibility to the music that you grew up with, that helped shape you," he said while preparing to drive to Thunder Bay for the beginning of a 10-city western Canadian tour. "With Cindy [who wrote songs for Bob Wills, Eddy Arnold and Roy Orbison], it was very important to get that out and released while she was alive. And I'm happy to say that she did get to hear it before she died." Nelson's voice comes down the phone line just as it does on record, wiry and direct. He turned 73 this spring, and he has at least 35 shows on his agenda this summer, all across North America. He's prolific in the recording studio too - maybe a little more than he should be. Since 2004, he has turned out 10 albums, including a recent release with Haggard and Ray Price, called Last of the Breed.
"It's easy to do, and I enjoy doing it," Nelson said of recording. "It's not a chore and it never has been. I don't spend a lot of time in there. I don't take all month or all year. I do like to have a good idea of what I'm doing before I get there." He whipped through Last of the Breed, a double-disc affair, in just two days. "We knew the songs, we knew each other, and the musicians were some of the best in the world," he said. The album, which revisits songs by Lefty Frizzell, Gene Autry and others in a distinctly old-school fashion, has found a mixed reception. "Hearing these three casually trade verses over 22 songs, it's sometimes hard to tell what's ineluctable suavity and what's countrypolitan autopilot," writes Chris Willman, a country music critic who is also the author of Rednecks and Bluenecks: the Politics of Country Music (2005). There are, no doubt, a few pages in Willman's book reserved for Nelson, whose out-front politics have always run to the populist left of the American spectrum. He's still passionate about fixing the farming-subsidy system in the United States, two decades after he first got active in agrarian politics through his annual Farm Aid benefit concerts. "When we did the first, I thought we would just do one, and then the smart guys in Washington would come up with a farm bill," he said. "But I was kind of naive, and 22 years later we still don't have a farm bill that stops subsidies to big corporate farmers. ... I want a bill that cuts off subsidies for anybody making more than $200,000 a year. If we keep giving all the money away to the big farm companies, who can get by on much smaller margins?" The next Farm Aid show will take place in the very non-rural setting of New York, on Sept. 9. "New York came to us and wanted us to go there," Nelson said. "They have so many small farmers there, mostly small organic farmers, trying to make it. It takes a whole lot of farmers to feed New York City."
For him, local is best, at all levels of the agricultural chain, extending to BioWillie, the bio-fuel operation that he set up to make diesel from waste oils that restaurants would otherwise throw out. "My view is that if you keep it local, if you have farmers selling locally, and the processing and consumption all happening in the local area, there's no import/export to worry about, and all the profits stay in the community," he said. "It's when you start shipping palm oil all over the world that there's a problem." Nelson has even run his car on processed hemp oil, notably during a promotional effort to help his friend Gatewood Galbraith run for governor of Kentucky on a platform that called for the full legalization of hemp and marijuana (they campaigned in a Cadillac Hempmobile). Galbraith lost, but Nelson's faith in the cause remains firm. "At one time there was a whole lot of hemp grown in this country," he said. "The original Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. The original Levi's jeans were made from hemp fibres. George Bush's parachute, that saved his ass when he jumped out of a plane, was made from cannabis. ... They made it legal to grow hemp for a while when I was a boy, so we could make rope from it during the war. We need them to stop deciding when to make it legal and when not to. The biggest killer on the planet is stress, and the biggest cure for it is cannabis." The one thing in Nelson's career that seems to have slowed is the pace of his songwriting. "I never have been busy songwriting," he said. "They come now and then, but maybe I don't write as much as when I was hungry." He does have a couple of new numbers on a forthcoming record, which will also include songs by Bob Dylan, Randy Newman and Dave Matthews. "It's not your traditional country sound," he said. "I don't know how I'd describe it. I'm not too good with labels." And labels, it appears, still aren't too good with Willie Nelson, a progressive outlaw with a strong need to remember.
Willie Nelson plays Winnipeg tonight, Regina tomorrow, Calgary on Friday, Edmonton on Saturday, Grand Prairie, Alta., on June 25, Prince George, B.C., on June 26, Victoria June 28 and Vancouver June 29.
Oskar Morawetz, 90: Canadian Composer
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(June 15, 2007) Oskar Morawetz, a Czech-born Jew who narrowly escaped Nazi tyranny during World War II to become one of Canada's most successful contemporary/classical composers, died Wednesday at his Toronto retirement home. He was 90. While many of his contemporaries had disdain for his classically influenced compositions, Morawetz's work achieved widespread acclaim and commercial success. His more than 100 orchestral and chamber works were performed around the world by such renowned artists as Zubin Mehta, Glenn Gould and Yo-Yo Ma, receiving numerous awards. Morawetz was awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and a Golden Jubilee Medal. In January, to mark the occasion of his 90th birthday, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and National Arts Centre Orchestra all performed a number of his works, and CBC's Radio Two featured his music over a week-long period. The University of Toronto's faculty of music, where Morawetz taught for almost 40 years, also held a tribute. His daughter, Claudia Tate, said that her father had an "encyclopedic" memory from studying classical music scores during his childhood. "If you had Name That Tune but for classical music, he would have won hands-down," Tate said. She described her father as gentle, unpretentious and kind-hearted, supporting numerous causes, such as assisting Eastern Bloc musicians to get into Canada. Above all, his first love was music, Tate said. "If he had music on his mind, he wouldn't worry about what he looked like, if his hair was combed, if he left coffee cups around the house," she said. Morawetz leaves Claudia, his son, Richard, and their families. A memorial will be held June 28 at 7 p.m. in Walter Hall at the University of Toronto.
Hip Hop For Humanity: Artists Come
Together To Unveil A New Genre Of Music
Source: Nikki J. Scott, Personal Touch Agency, email@example.com
(June 18, 2007) Los Angeles -- The music of Hip Hop has evolved and established many markets in areas that were unseen from the time of the first commercial rap song. Since the seventies, Hip Hop music has changed from what one's mother misunderstood yet could respect, to now where mothers neither understand nor respect. Fortunately, the course of Hip Hop is at another turning point, this time for the respect and understanding it deserves. M.E.C.A. FEST (Muslim Education Cultural Affairs), 3MK Production and WhoopTonez The iNDependent Music Spot presents "Hip Hop for Humanity" a concert of Hip Hop. On July 7, 2007 at Ground Zero Café on the USC Campus, doors open at 8:30 p.m. that includes performances by the legendary Akil the MC of Jurassic 5 performing his new solo project "Collection of Expressions," the exciting creativity of Three MO Kings, the talent of Kumasi and spoken word by Leimert Park Poet Khatib and a special guest DJ. This music genre is positive and intelligent content that jump-start the critical thinking skills of the mind. Cost of this concert will be $20 at the door and $15 in advance, with proceeds of this concert benefiting the ILM Foundation a non-profit organization who partners yearly every Ramadan for "Humanitarian Day: Health Fair for the Homeless." This is a nation wide event providing food and health services to America's homeless population. This year's events are scheduled for 21 cities including Los Angeles, Washington DC and New Orleans. WhoopTonez The iNDependent Music Spot will highlight their music and sell mp3 singles of the artists performing for .99 cents directly from its online platform. For more information, please visit WhoopTonez The iNDependent Music™ at www.whooptonez.net or contact Umar A. Hakim, ILM Community Outreach Director at (310) 864-0134 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Than A Woman: Travolta Finally
Returns To Musicals
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Peter Howell, Movie Critic
(June 19, 2007) HOLLYWOOD–John Travolta can still do his smooth disco moves from Saturday Night Fever and his rock 'n' roll struts from Grease. They just might take a little longer. "Sure," he says with a big grin, when the question comes up during an interview for Hairspray, his first movie musical in nearly 30 years. "I do remember most of my steps, and you know why? It's because you drill them so much. You're rehearsing them over and over again and they're embedded. So long as you have the right piece of music you could probably recreate it. Whether I could get my knees up in the same amount of quickness, I don't know." He seems proud of himself, as well he should be. At age 53, and a couple of notches looser in the belt, nobody would expect him to be as limber as he was in his 20s. But the macho steps he did as Tony Manero and Danny Zuko were nothing compared to what he's got going in Hairspray, the energetic hybrid, opening July 20, of the 1988 John Waters movie and the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name. In the gender-flipping role of Edna Turnblad, the hefty mom of plus-sized TV dance queen Tracy Turnblad, Travolta adds new layers of complexity to that old saw about Ginger Rogers: he has to do everything backwards in high heels and with pounds of rubber and latex attached to him. During filming in Toronto and Hamilton last summer and fall, Travolta had to endure daily makeup and padding sessions lasting between four and five hours. It was the only part of the Hairspray experience he didn't love. But when he was ready, he looked so much like a "big, sweet woman, a big pumpkin" – to quote his co-star Queen Latifah – that everyone wanted to fondle his double-E boobs and his bodacious bum. That part of the sex change really caught Travolta by surprise.
"It was very strange," Travolta said. "Everyone felt the right to feel my breasts and my bottom, and I must have been a slut, because I said, `Go ahead!' "Of course, I couldn't feel it, really. But the attention you got from everyone was interesting. Women have a lot of power innately that I wasn't aware of before...." Latifah admitted she was one of the Edna fondlers. She couldn't help it. "I liked to play with his bum every day. It was just so big and, you know, squishy. I like that." It's funny that Travolta would be willing to subject himself to potential humiliation. He could have asked to play Tracy's dad rather than her mom, even though the Edna role has traditionally been played by men both in the original film and stage musical, first by camp queen Divine and then by comic actor/writer Harvey Fierstein. Travolta said he insisted to director Adam Shankman that he play Edna. It was the only way he'd agree to end the unofficial boycott of movie musicals he's stuck to since Saturday Night Fever in 1977 and Grease in 1978. "That's the only way I could see it. That's the actor I am. Unless you said this was about a drag queen, and it's not. There's nothing written in it that says it's about that. "I have to play it for what I see it. When I played (president) Clinton (in Primary Colors) I didn't play John Travolta playing Clinton; I became Clinton. That's my own urge, to do roles that are the roles." The funniest thing of all about Travolta in Hairspray is that he's turned down other opportunities to play male leads in musicals, including A Chorus Line, The Phantom of the Opera and the Oscar-winning Chicago. And then he finally says yes to a female role. "I had to be persuaded to do this movie, but I like dancing," he said. "Musicals are difficult to pull off ... when I realized they had a real idea on how to do (Hairspray), that every department was A+ and they were really excited about it, then I said, `If I can get them to agree on how I should look, and how I should talk, then I can pull this off.'" The audience will be the final judge of that. But one thing is for certain: there's no way you'd get Manero or Zuko to shake their booties in a glittery pink dress and heels. Only a real man would have the cojones to do that.
Bollywood Icon Rahman Sees 'A Great
Future Of Extraordinary Films'
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com- Aparita Bhandari
(June 15, 2007) A.R. Rahman is surprisingly humble, given his status as an international music icon. Dubbed Mozart from Madras, he is India's best-known composer. He has sold more than 150 million albums, and scored more than 70 films. His work has been heard in Bollywood and Hollywood blockbusters, and on the Toronto stage. Yet, when asked about his Mozart moniker, the 39-year-old Rahman just laughs and says, "But I don't do classical." He does pop. His "pop" reaches worldwide. His hit songs Bombay Theme and Chaiya Chaiya, originally composed for Indian movies Bombay and Dil Se, have subsequently been sampled by Hollywood (Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage, and Spike Lee's Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington). This weekend, his tunes grace the Tamil movie Sivaji, playing at Woodside Cinema as well as Cineplex Odeon theatres in Scarborough, Brampton and Markham. Marking the return of star Rajnikanth for his 100th film, Sivaji is anticipated by fans across the globe. Rahman's rap-heavy score has only added to the hype. Toronto has become one of Rahman's international hangouts. He was in the city earlier this year for the world premiere of Bollywood movie Guru at the Elgin Theatre. Last weekend, he brought his live 3rd Dimension Tour to the Air Canada Centre, belting out signature tunes with pyrotechnic bursts, back-up dancers, a laser and 3-D light show adding to the drama the as more than 13,000 fans roared in response.
And, most notably, he co-composed the score for the Toronto stage version of The Lord of the Rings, staying in the city while he worked. Lord isn't his only stab at the stage: His Bollywood tunes were the backbone of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams. "At first, it was like Riverdance, just music and dance," Rahman says in an interview. "Eventually they brought in the culture of Hindi film industry as the story. ... Some stuff might look cheesy, but it's meant to." The death of his father, also a composer, started Rahman on his musical journey when he was 9. Throughout his teens, he was a Bollywood session musician; at 17, he started composing jingles for TV commercials and studied Western classical music at Oxford University. At a party to celebrate an award-winning jingle, he ran into Tamil film director Mani Ratnam, who signed him to compose the music for Roja, marking Rahman's debut as a composer of film scores at the age of 25. Compared with formulaic soundtracks of the time, Roja's fresh tunes became an instant hit. They featured everything from raga to reggae, jungle rhythms to Broadway-style orchestrations, and yet stayed Tamil. "When I got the chance to do my first film," Rahman says, "I wanted to do something different. I thought it was my last film. People will not want to check me out. But they loved it." His Hollywood forays continue (next up: Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth sequel), but the Indian film industry remains his bread and butter, Rahman says. He's proud of his Bollywood oeuvre, despite critics writing off the genre as melodramatic and kitschy. "For me, Bollywood is a huge expression of India," he says. "It's not exploited fully. I can see a great future of extraordinary films. People have woken up now, they are ambitious with their projects.
"It's the only form of mass entertainment that exists in India," he adds. "We don't have a symphony, and Indian classical music isn't popular in mainstream. Films have to fulfill everything people crave for - pop, classical, political message, folk. In a way, it's good; in a way, it's bad. You have to do the cheesy stuff also, and sometimes you do great quality work."
Ruffalo, Moore Tapped For Canadian Film
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(June 13, 2007) Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles cast the talent net wide for his upcoming apocalyptic feature film, Blindness, and has signed an international roster of stars that includes Hollywood A-listers such as Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore, as well as a half-dozen Canadians, including Sandra Oh, Maury Chaykin, Don McKellar and Martha Burns. Yesterday, the film's Toronto producer, Niv Fichman of Rhombus Media, said it was always Meirelles's intention to entice actors to this film from all parts of the globe, tapping talent from Brazil, Mexico, Japan, the United States and Canada. "The universality of the cast, representing people from all walks of life, was Fernando's idea," said Fichman, who has been working on this ambitious project for more than five years. "He was inspired by this great masterwork [Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's novel] to create a microcosm of the world. He wanted it cast in a way to represent all of humanity." The film - which has a budget north of $25-million (U.S.) - is an adaptation of the acclaimed Portuguese writer's book, Blindness, which remorselessly rubs readers' faces in the apocalypse. A harrowing read, the novel explores man's most destructive appetites and weaknesses. It's the story of a city hit by an epidemic of blindness that spares almost no one.
After a five-month search, Fichman said the producers - himself, Sonoko Sakai's Bee Vine Pictures of Japan and Andrea Barata Ribeiro's O2 Filmes of Brazil -- finally signed Ruffalo to the film yesterday. He will play a doctor suddenly struck blind while sitting in his car waiting for a traffic light to change. Soon an epidemic breaks out. Moore plays his wife, one of the few who does not lose her sight. In total, there are about a dozen lead actors, portraying the first people infected. Danny Glover will play the man with the eye patch, and act as a narrator of the film. Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal plays the evil King of Ward 3. Toronto's Maury Chaykin is his partner in crime, a corrupt accountant. The other members of the Canadian contingent include Oh as the minister of health; McKellar (who wrote the script) plays the thief; eight-year-old Mitchell Nye (of Toronto) plays the boy with the squint; Susan Coyne (Slings & Arrows) is the receptionist; Burns is the woman with insomnia; while Mpho Koaho (a Toronto teen) is the pharmacist's assistant. Japanese heartthrob Yusuke Iseya portrays the first blind man, and his wife is Yoshino Kimura, also of Japan. Alice Braga (a Brazilian actor who appeared in Meirelles's acclaimed 2002 drama City of God) is cast in the role of the girl with the dark glasses. Production starts the end of July in Toronto and moves to Uruguay in September. It wraps after a month in Sao Paolo. The producers hope to have the film completed by spring, 2008. Securing the rights to make a movie of Blindness was a huge coup for McKellar and Fichman. Many filmmakers (including Meirelles) had approached the reclusive Saramago, only to be firmly rebuffed. In 1999, Fichman and McKellar hopped a plane to the writer's home in the Canary Islands, where they persuaded him to sign off on a deal. "I'm so passionate about this project because I think it's a timely message about the fragility of our society," Fichman said. "A movie like this can be such a strong message of warning in today's world of what can happen to us if we don't watch out."
To Make A Movie With $1,000
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(June 17, 2007) When it comes to what Jim Munroe calls Do-It-Yourself filmmaking, it helps to have connections. The sci-fi novelist was able to draw on his own skills as well as those of six other directors – along with an innate sense of entrepreneurialism – to produce an ultra-low-budget, low-tech sci-fi feature in seven segments called Infest Wisely. After a successful screening last month, the next step is to get a full DVD pressing, and to get the film screened more widely on the Indy film festival circuit. But in the meantime, you can watch it in weekly installments at infestwisely.com. "The feature-length film is sort of the Holy Grail for filmmakers but I found it fairly daunting," said Munroe, who has previously produced a number of short videos. After running Novel Amusements for the past five years, a DVD-zine featuring short film, Munroe decided to tap into the "embarrassment of riches" of Internet contacts he had made. Six local directors – John Sasaki, Kirby Ferguson, Craig Macnaughton, Chris McCrawley, Rose Bianchini and Benny Zenga – were each assigned a 12-minute segment to produce from a script Munroe had written. Munroe also directed one segment of his own. "We spread it out over seven people and so it was a more manageable commitment," Munroe said. Then, drawing on their contacts, Munroe was able to assemble locations, actors and equipment at bargain basement rates, for a total budget of less than $1,000. Add in sponsorship money from three smallish Internet-based companies and revenue from last month's Innis Hall screening, and Munroe is on his way.
Co-producer Craig Macnaughton, who directed one sequence, said the film exemplifies how new and affordable technology is inspiring a new generation of filmmakers. "That's why I've been able to make films since high school – cameras which get better every year and editing equipment and computers which allow you to work from home," said Macnaughton, who previously collaborated on the film, Dog Given Rights, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Going the traditional route in trying to get a film project off the ground is no longer necessary, Macnaughton said. "This way, we're sort of masters of our own destiny. It's pretty empowering," he said. "(The film) has not nearly got the same kind of polish as a Hollywood movie or even a well-financed Indy movie," Munroe acknowledged. Set in the near future – where paper money is nearly obsolete and microscopic nannies are being peddled as a way to cure body odour and otherwise improve human existence – the film is chock full of interesting ideas and images. For instance, there's the talking cat and the sex act that turns out to be snatch-and-grab robbery. Despite the cheap production values and a sense of amateurism that pervades the film, audiences so far have been very enthusiastic, Munroe said. "There's lots of moments that are pretty rough around the edges. (But) it has a rawness and a realness that people respond to," he said. "It comes down to the script and the ideas behind everything. I think that's what's appealing to people," Macnaughton added.
Nancy Drew: Feminist Or Daddy's Girl?
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Kate Taylor
(June 16, 2007) Every story began with the same line - or so it seemed to me and my knowing sisters. Nancy bounced down the front steps, her blue eyes sparkling, her blond hair blowing in the breeze. She was Nancy Drew, the preternaturally talented and perpetually cheerful young detective who could swim like an Olympian and nurse like Florence Nightingale, who could pick locks, solve puzzles, stare down crooks, and change a tire on her zippy blue roadster with the same ease she shopped for an evening gown. She was always polite but ever firm, brave but sensible, gracious but independent. Her father, handsome attorney Carson Drew, indulged her; her mother had conveniently died years before. She was a high-school grad with no apparent plans for career or college. In the sunny town of River Heights, some vaguely Midwestern locale that never seemed to experience winter, her days were her own: She was always bouncing down those front steps with only a cardigan for warmth, climbing into an open car and roaring off on another adventure. I think that was her appeal most of all, her autonomy. At the magic age of 18, she was already endowed with the freedom that we girls dreamed adulthood would bring. It was a freedom unencumbered, of course, by both the deeper pleasures and the daily drudgery of real adulthood, things of which girlish readers did not yet want to know. Housekeeper Hannah Gruen cooked the meals, Carson Drew picked up the bills, and boyfriend Ned Nickerson never required more attention than a peck on the cheek.
Of course, we had an inkling there was something unnatural about this world. "The Depression doesn't effect Nancy, war doesn't either. She doesn't work; her dad doesn't express any work anxieties - except perhaps that criminals are after him," observes Leslie McGrath, head of the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books in Toronto's Lillian H. Smith Library. "This is static, one-dimensional. Nancy never matures, and at some point the child matures and says Nancy is having the same adventure over and over." We read and we read and we read those repetitive, formulaic adventures - there were 56 titles in the original series published by Grosset & Dunlap between 1930 and 1979 - but even before we finally abandoned Nancy Drew for other books, we were reading with some sense of irony. We joked with each other about Nancy's perfect appearance, her shadowy boyfriend and her miraculously convenient life skills. "Luckily I know first aid!" or "I just happen to have a wrench in my purse," we would cry as we tackled some craft project or bike repair. None of us could ever grow up to be Nancy Drew, but the cleverest could at least put our collective skepticism to good literary use. "She was the perfect combination of an icon who we loved but who we really wanted to kick the shit out of," says Ann-Marie MacDonald, the award-winning Canadian novelist and playwright whose first professionally produced play, in 1985, was a Nancy Drew satire co-written with Beverley Cooper and entitled Clue in the Fast Lane. "It became irresistible to poke fun at. ... She was a perfect daughter of paternalism. As a feminist, I wanted to take that on. She's a girl who makes it in dad's world on dad's terms." It is this simultaneous attitude of feminist disdain, postmodern irony and nostalgic affection that make it difficult to revisit Nancy Drew. Since taking over the franchise in 1979 and moving it into paperback, publisher Simon & Schuster has fiddled with the formula several times but never succeeded in matching the popularity of the originals, which had already been heavily edited in the 1960s to trim the length, the racial stereotypes and outdated language. (Nancy also became "titian-haired" in later books when, according to legend, a printer's error on the cover art turned her into a redhead.)
In 2004, Simon & Schuster's "all new" series introduced stories told in the first person by a Nancy Drew who now drives a hybrid and owns a computer. She is widely regarded by parents, librarians and girls who can get their hands on the originals as inferior. You can see the creators of the new Nancy Drew movie that opened in theatres this week tangling with the problem onscreen: How do you preserve this retro icon in a contemporary world? Their solution is to portray a preppy, small-town and very youthful Nancy in a kilt and knee socks facing a cultural clash with the fashionable teens at the Hollywood high school to which she has been transplanted when her father, now burdened with some money troubles, moves to L.A. for work. With images of Nancy firmly fixed in their mind's eye by that glamorous cover art and their own vivid imaginations, girls have never embraced onscreen versions of Nancy. Neither four films in the 1930s nor a brief-lived TV series in the 1970s could ever create a character to rival the iconic literary one. The current film may also be relegated to the pop-culture dustbin; so far, it is not doing well with critics, who, apparently forgetful of the painfully improbable narratives of the original, are complaining about the thin plot. They also don't like the mix of contemporary and retro, satire and sentiment, yet it is a natural solution, simply allowing the mid-century icon and the new millennium to co-exist. Of course, Nancy Drew is no stranger to tough critics. For years, libraries did not carry the books, disdained as dime-store fiction that didn't improve children's minds. It was a censure that may have actually boosted both the series' cachet with girls and Grosset & Dunlap's profits, since it forced parents to buy the books. Up until the 1970s, and much later in some cases, many public libraries had a policy of not buying any children's series. Today, on the contrary, children's librarians feel the predictability and addictiveness of a series is a splendid way to get kids hooked on reading.
"Kids love series books - it doesn't really matter what the series - and they love mysteries," says Janice Douglas, director of youth services and community relations at the Vancouver Public Library. Douglas can still remember the library board meeting in the 1970s when one member, a single mother of two boys who were reluctant readers, demanded that the Hardy Boys books be added. She praised the readability of that detective series (Grosset & Dunlap's Nancy Drew for boys) and explained she couldn't afford to buy the hardcovers for her sons. Vancouver launched a pilot project, and has stocked both Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys ever since. Around the same time as librarians confronted Nancy Drew, however, feminists did too. Since the 1980s, the series has been subjected to scrutiny in the burgeoning field of women's studies and literary criticism: Nancy, her critics point out, is too privileged, too polite, too asexual and too white. She is also utterly devoid of the interior life that creates great fictional characters. More recently, scholars have been more forgiving, considering Nancy's power as a role model of independence and resourcefulness for girls. "Each generation of feminists is disgusted at the new generation, but each has to do it their own way," remarks Alleen Nilsen, director of English Education at Arizona State University and a specialist in teen literature who reminds us that Nancy was a pioneer in her time. "The books for girls used to be really boring: We kept [the characters] at home. Nancy stood out and is still way ahead of a lot of stuff." Nilsen points out that Nancy Drew was conceived in the feminist era of the 1920s when North American women first got the vote and were beginning to work and drive; her energetic push into the outside world reflected the period. The demure and respectful Nancy that many of us remember is more a creation of the conservative 1950s when the needs of returning war veterans drove women back into the home. After 1959, rewrites of the early books not only removed references to "coloured people" and "running boards" but also made the patrician Nancy less pushy and more respectful of speed limits. Nancy's age was now raised from 16 to 18, supposedly to reflect the change in the legal driving age in many states, but perhaps also mirroring young adults' increasingly prolonged adolescence in the postwar period, which invented the teenager. Critics still complain this new Nancy lacked the spunk of the original: In the 1959 rewrite of the very first book, The Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy no longer gives a police officer a lift but instead accepts his offer to drive her car. "Some people fault her because she was supposed to be independent, but she lived off her father's money; others say she was too cheeky or forward for the era," observes Sue Williams, a children's librarian at the Lillian H. Smith Library in Toronto, whose teenage daughter reads her mother's old Nancy Drew books when she wants a laugh. "I always find it interesting," Williams adds, "when a kid realizes Nancy got tied up and then did this and then this and then this - and never had to go to the bathroom." Can an afternoon spent reading Pride and Prejudice - or creating another really good Nancy Drew spoof - be far behind?
Sylvain White Sets Sights On
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 15, 2007) *“Stomp the Yard” director Sylvain White is sinking his teeth into the vampire genre with his next project, a live-action adaptation of the Konami videogame “Castlevania. Written by Paul W.S. Anderson ("Alien vs. Predator"), the script follows a Transylvanian knight who leads his men into a gothic castle to seek refuge from the Turkish army. The knights soon discover the castle is controlled by the original vampire. White is a huge fan of the video game and jumped at the chance to adapt it for the big screen. "Most of the vampire films have been present or set in the future, from 'Blade' to 'Underworld,' and I was attracted by the chance to make a dark, epic period movie that almost has an anime feel to it," White said, according to Moviehole.net. The project from Rogue Pictures and Crystal Sky Entertainment will begin shooting late fall in South Africa and Romania for a 2008 release.
‘Big Chill’ To Be Remade With Black Cast
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 14, 2007) *Nearly 25 years after “The Big Chill” was released in theatres, a remake is in the works from producer Regina King that will feature an all-African American cast, reports Daily Variety. King will also star in the film, which she will co-produce with her sister, Regina King, and Will Packer ("Stomp the Yard"). Screen Gems, who owns the rights to Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 film, will hire a screenwriter to give the work an urban, contemporary update for a scheduled production start by year’s end. The remake will remain loyal to the original storyline, in which seven college friends reunite over a weekend at a South Carolina house for the funeral of a mutual friend. As they get reacquainted, they become introspective about how their lives have evolved. The cast of the new film will be in their 30s, which means the characters will have been on campus together in the 1990s instead of the '60s. As with the first film, music will also be a big part of the new version.
‘Game’ On For Vivica / Calls DUI
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 18, 2007) *A long-discussed sequel to the 2001 film “Two Can Play That Game” will be made by Sony Pictures as a straight-to-DVD movie with returning lead actress, Vivica A. Fox. However, the film could end up in theatres, a Sony spokesman revealed to the Hollywood Reporter. Fox will reprise the role of Shante Smith, a relationship expert who uses her knowledge of the male psyche to help women reach their relationship goals. The original $6 million "Game" earned $22.2 million at the box office. Meanwhile, the Associated Press caught up with the actress backstage at Friday’s Daytime Emmy Awards and asked for comment on her misdemeanour charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. "It was a huge learning lesson. I won't ever make that mistake again," she said. "Trust me, I'm going to hire a driver next time." Fox, who says she’s currently in the process of trying to resolve her legal issues, admits having empathy for jail inmate Paris Hilton, currently serving a 23-day sentence for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case. "We are not above the law," Fox said about celebrities. "She's going to get more coverage when her butt gets out of jail. It's going to be a special alert and we all are going to watch, right?" As for her own situation, the Fox laments: "It was an unfortunate judgment that I am taking full responsibility in. It is so not worth what you go through for getting a DUI." The “Kill Bill” star will next appear in the upcoming film "Cover," an indie drama centering on a woman in a black family struggling with AIDS and issues of faith.
Elijah Kelley To ‘Party’ Again With New
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 18, 2007) *Elijah Kelley, the young African American actor from the movie “Hairspray” who charmed a recent “Oprah Winfrey Show” audience during a cast visit, has signed on to star in New Line’s upcoming urban comedy, “Party Up.” The story centers on kids who set out to throw the biggest high school party ever, but their resourcefulness is tested when the party's location falls apart at the last minute. The movie marks Kelley’s third time working for New Line following roles in “Hairspray” and “Take the Lead.” In “Hairspray,” the actor plays Seaweed J. Stubbs, the son of Queen Latifah’s character Motormouth Maybelle and boyfriend of Amanda Bynes’ character, Penny. During his appearance on “Oprah” last month, Kelley explained how both of his parents quit their jobs in LaGrange, Georgia, so he could move to California and pursue his dream of acting. "My dad was like, 'You've got to get a job.' And my mom was like, 'No, we're going to support him,'" he told Winfrey during a May 16th telecast. "They came together collectively, and a few weeks later we were on a plane with nothing but clothes and faith, out to L.A. to pursue my dream."
Forest Whitaker Cast In Futuristic
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 18, 2007) *Oscar winning actor Forest Whitaker has lined up yet another film. In addition to roles in the forthcoming “Night Watch” and “The Great Debaters,” the movie star has just signed on for “Reposession Mambo,” a futuristic adventure thriller for Universal Pictures.Jude Law will co-star in the film, about a repo man made of artificial organs who, after receiving a heart transplant, struggles to make payments and must go on the run from his former partner. Miguel Sapochnik, a former storyboard artist, will make his feature directorial debut on the film, which has a screenplay written by Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner. Fox Searchlight’s crime drama, "Night Watch,” stars Keanu Reeves as a veteran LAPD cop who turns to the bottle after his wife’s death and is framed by his former mentor (Whitaker) in the murder of a fellow officer. The Oprah Winfrey-produced, Denzel Washington-directed "The Great Debaters" is based on the true story of an all black debate team in the 1930s.
Jill Scott Cast Opposite Idris Elba
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 19, 2007) *Jilly From Philly, Jill Scott, has scored another acting gig. She's been cast as the popular fiction character Mma Precious Ramotswe in an upcoming television show based on Alexander McCall Smith's series of South Africa-based novels surrounding the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency." Actor Idris Elba, who will appear in an episode that begins shooting in Botswana next month, broke the news during an interview with London's Daily Mail. "The bloke I play is a bad guy, he's a wheeler-dealer and Mma Ramotswe has to deal with him," he says. Harvey Weinstein's studio Weinstein Company is backing the venture. As previously reported, Queen Latifah has been lobbying to play the "traditionally built" character (as Mma Ramotswe describes herself in the books) in a feature film based on the book series. Scott recently finished filming her role in Tyler perry's "Why Did I Get Married." Speaking of "Why Did I Get Married," in other Jill Scott news, the two-time Grammy award winning songstress is divorcing her longtime lover and husband of five years Lyzel Williams, according to AOL Black Voices. Scott and Williams, a DJ and graphic artist, dated for seven years before they tied the knot in 2001.
Laila Ali: The 'Daddy's Girl' Interview
With Kam Williams
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Kam Williams
(June 15, 2007) *Laila Ali was born in Miami Beach on December 30th, 1977 to Muhammad Ali and his third wife, Veronica Porche. The most famous of The Greatest's nine children, Laila's the only one to follow in his footsteps into the boxing ring, On her way to the top, the statuesque, 5'10", 175 lb. cruiserweight whupped Jackie Frazier, daughter of Joe, in the first Pay-Per-View fight featuring females in the main event. She hoped to have a showdown with George Foreman's undefeated daughter Freeda who retired suddenly after taking a pounding from another pugilist in the first loss of her career. Laila currently reigns as the women's world title holder, having compiled an impressive 24-0 record, including 21 knockouts. With no credible challengers left, she opted to try something completely different Ali's daughter type, ABC-TV's Dancing with the Stars. She and her partner, Maklim Chmerkovskiy received a perfect score for their rumba, and came in third overall in the popular series' competition. All the national attention led to recognition of Laila's feminine side, and she was recently named to People Magazine's 100 Most Beautiful List for 2007. The accomplished 29 year-old, now completely out of her father's shadow, is also the author of a motivational book entitled "Reach!" She often makes public appearances as an inspirational speaker before young women in need of a role model.
Laila is currently engaged to former NFL star Curtis Conway, and the loving couple has plans to marry in Los Angeles next month. She is the subject of the documentary, "Daddy's Girl," a documentary about her life which will air on TV One on Father's Day, June 17th, at 8PM Eastern. See a preview below followed immediately by Kam's Q&A with Laila.
Kam Williams: Hi, Laila. The first thing I have to ask you is, did you know that your dad was here in Princeton a few days ago?
Laila Ali: No, I had no idea. I'm just so busy.
KW: They're calling him Dr. Ali, now, because he was awarded an honorary degree from the University at graduation.
LA: Oh wow, that's cool!
KW: I met him twice before. The first time was way before you were born, back in 1967. He was training in Manhattan for the Zora Folley fight. A teacher who knew I was a fan took me to see him work out. Muhammad's sparring partner at the time was future champ Jimmy Ellis, and we watched them go a couple of rounds. And while I was there, another future champ, Joe Frazier, who was up and coming but not very well known at the time, came in, loudly demanding a title fight. Ali talked some trash, leaned over the ropes and snapped Smokin' Joe's suspenders, asking him what made him think he could put up a good fight, which made everybody there laugh. The other time was in the early Eighties in Beverly Hills when he was driving a Rolls Royce convertible down Rodeo Drive. All the pedestrians on the street started chanting Ali, Bomaye! [meaning "Ali, kill him!" This was the phrase that the people of Zaire chanted while he was training for and again during the George Foreman fight.]
LA: Oh, I just loved that car.
KW: Why did you decide to make the bio-pic Daddy's Girl?
LA: Well, it wasn't my idea. Reggie Bythewood was the producer. It was his baby. He pitched the idea to me. I didn't really know what was going to come of it, as far as how it was going to turn out. He started doing the footage and following me around, and I'm happy with the way it came out.
KW: This is pretty honest documentary. In fact it opens up with you saying, "My father may have been the greatest boxer, but he definitely wasn't the greatest father."
LA: Well, I don't think that I necessarily would have chosen to start it out that way.
KW: Oh, that's the way it was edited.
LA: Exactly, but people have to understand that, to me, that's not a negative statement. Obviously, it sounds like it is, but there are a lot of parents out there who wish they would have done things differently. And, like I said, my dad would probably be one of the first ones to say that.
KW: Yet, you still followed in his career footsteps. Did you think that you were going to be a boxer while you were growing up?
LA: No, though I'd always been an aggressive person, and had a competitive spirit. I saw women's boxing on television for the first time when I was 18, and that's when I wanted to do it. So, it didn't come from me watching my father. I didn't know the sport existed; therefore, I wasn't really interested in it until I saw it.
KW: Do you think there might be something genetic about your interest, since Freeda Foreman and Jackie Frazier, daughters of George and Joe, became boxers?
LA: You also had Archie Moore's daughter in the sport before I was, Ingemar Johansson's daughter, and Roberto Duran's granddaughter. So, it's the same as with anything else. There are women, and there are men, who are just going to happen to want to fight, though I think my having some success in my career definitely forced the issue with some of the other girls. But I'm the only one now who's still fighting. I guess they tried it, and it didn't work, or there was something they didn't like about it. So, they moved on, and I'm the only one that actually has had any staying power and became a world champion.
KW: You're the undefeated world champion, 24 and 0, is it time to move on and parlay that success into something else?
LA: Well, I definitely reached my goals, and unfortunately, it's left a void in how I feel about my career, because it wasn't as challenging as I would have liked it to have been on the way up, as you saw in the documentary. It would be very difficult to continue to train hard and remain motivated after some of the situations I ended up in. I never intended to box forever, and always planned to move on to do other things. So, I'm pretty much where I thought I'd be right now, undefeated and a world champion.
KW: How about your sister Hana? Think she might enter the ring?
LA: [Laughs} No. None of my siblings have an interest in boxing. I'm the only one.
KW: You have also done some time in jail, which makes me think of Paris Hilton, because usually people from a prominent family figure out a way to avoid ending up behind bars.
LA: I definitely wouldn't compare myself to Paris Hilton.
KW: Do you want to talk about your case?
LA: When I was 15, I hung out with some girls who were shoplifters, and I decided to do it myself, even though I had money in my pocket. And I got in trouble. I spent time in a juvenile hall. I think a lot of people try that but don't get caught. I happened to get caught. You might have just found that out, but that information is not new. I'm the one who pretty much put that out there years ago about myself.
KW: Why so?
LA: Because, for me, it's the only way to talk to other girls, and to try to help them. I actually wrote a book about my upbringing and what I've been through. It was just something that I did. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I'm going to use it in a positive way. That's why
KW: How did you enjoy doing Dancing with the Stars?
LA: It was a nice change for me, to do something glamorous, but challenging. I had a lot of fun doing it.
KW: It must have been a lot different from getting hit in the ring. You must have hated that part of being a boxer?
LA: I think it's just that you're not a boxer. Anyone who's not a fighter would say that, whether you're a man or a woman. It's hard for me try to explain to a non-boxer that it's a sport. It's part of a game in which you don't want to get hit. Obviously, when I get hit, it doesn't feel the same as it would for you to get hit. That question continues to be asked over and over again, and I'm sorry, but I really don't have an answer for it.
KW: That's okay. What was it like being raised by such successful parents?
Afterall, you're dad was The Greatest and your mother was an accomplished equestrian in her own right. Did you feel pressure to succeed, too?
LA: I don't feel pressure. I just grew up around people who had a lot of confidence and drive, and I have the same. Any pressure on me comes from myself.
KW: What advice do you have for anybody who wants to follow in your footsteps?
LA: Don't do it! No, I'm joking. I don't really try to tell people whether they should fight. It's definitely not for everybody. I think that if you do want to be a fighter, then you need to work harder than everybody else, and make sure that you surround yourself with good people, especially if you're a woman. You've got to find a team that takes you seriously as a female fighter, and is not going to rush you into the ring before you're ready.
KW: Laila, thanks for the time, and congratulations to you and Curtis on your upcoming wedding.
LA: I appreciate that. Thank you.
PBS Wins 13 Daytime Emmys
Source: Associated Press
(June 15, 2007) LOS ANGELES — PBS won a leading 13 Creative Craft Daytime Emmy Awards, including six for Sesame Street, and recently retired game show host Bob Barker won his 18th trophy. CBS's The Price is Right won Thursday night for game-audience participation show, where Barker served as executive producer until he retired last week at age 83. In the new category for morning shows, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today tied. Co-anchors Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts of Good Morning America earned trophies, along with Today co-anchors Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Al Roker and Ann Curry. Sesame Street won for preschool children's series, along with trophies for costume design, directing, multiple camera editing, music direction and sound mixing.
Food Network star Paula Deen won for lifestyle host, while Eartha Kitt was honoured as outstanding performer in an animated program for Disney's The Emperor's New School on the Disney Channel. Four new categories for broadband – specifically computers, cell phones and other handheld devices – were created this year. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences teamed with the social networking Web site MySpace.com to solicit nominations from the public. NBC's The Office: Accountants won in the comedy category; It's Jerrytime! on Ozone Inc. won in variety; Cyberchase on PBS won in children's; and Satacracy 88 from Itsallinyourhands.com won for drama. Syndicated shows earned nine awards, with comedian Ellen DeGeneres's talk show taking four in technical categories. Among the major broadcast networks, ABC and CBS tied with seven, while NBC had five. The awards were presented for the first time in a single ceremony that combined East and West coast winners at the Hollywood & Highland ballroom. Other Daytime Emmys for performances and programs will be awarded Friday at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre during a two-hour telecast on CBS. Winners are chosen by a panel of their peers in each category.
Oprah tops Forbes 'Celebrity 100 Power
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Erin Carlson, Associated Press
(June 15, 2007) NEW YORK – Oprah Winfrey continues to take over the world. The media mogul is back on top of Forbes' annual "Celebrity 100 Power List," which ranks the rich and famous based on earnings and buzz. Winfrey, who came in third last year, was the top money-maker with an estimated income of $260 million over the past 12 months. She last topped the list in 2005. "The woman is making history every single year," said Lea Goldman, a Forbes (http://www.forbes.com) associate editor who oversaw the list. "It's not as if she's sitting on her laurels enjoying the show.'' Winfrey's Harpo Productions is a partner on celebrity chef Rachael Ray's popular syndicated daytime talk show, which debuted last September. Harpo is launching its first prime-time series, Oprah's Big Give, a reality contest in which contestants compete in philanthropy, and Winfrey also produced the Broadway show The Color Purple. Golf tycoon Tiger Woods, who pulled in $100 million, ranks second. Madonna, absent from the list last year, is No. 3. The pop star's "Confessions" world tour – the highest-grossing tour by any female artist in history, Goldman said – and her adoption of a baby boy in the African country of Malawi put her back in the spotlight.
The Rolling Stones dropped from No. 2 to No. 4. Brad Pitt, who secured $35 million in earnings, ranks fifth – up 15 spots from last year – in part because of his status as one of the most talked-about celebrities in the world, Goldman said. (Girlfriend Angelina Jolie is No. 14.) Another handsome family man, Johnny Depp, placed sixth and was the year's highest-paid actor with his take of $92 million. Not bad for a pirate. Elton John, who earned a total of $53 million thanks to concerts and revenue from Broadway hits such as The Lion King, ranks seventh. Power player Tom Cruise – the world's No. 1 star last year – slipped to No. 8. Rap mogul Jay-Z placed ninth with earnings of $83 million, leading the newly added category "Hip-Hop Impresarios.'' Businessmen-rappers 50 Cent and Sean "Diddy" Combs placed 32nd and 43rd, respectively. Some guy named Steven Spielberg was No. 10. New to the "Celebrity 100'': George Clooney (40), the cast of ABC's Grey's Anatomy (12), Justin Timberlake (34), Keira Knightley (71), Bon Jovi (18), actor-comedian Dane Cook (89), Vince Vaughn (54) and Cate Blanchett (63). Troublemakers Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears did not make the cut.
Sopranos - There Is No
Answer – Deal With It
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - TV Critic
(June 17, 2007) Tony Soprano is dead. Long live Tony Soprano. Thereare several schools of thought on the subject. Ever since last week's deliberately ambiguous finale to The Sopranos, and my overnight review of same in Monday's paper, my email box has been overflowing with passionate commentary, laudatory and outraged, and carefully reasoned theories as to what actually happened and what it really meant. The truth is, no one knows what the truth is, except for series creator David Chase, and he's not talking. Not even to my friend Alan Sepinwall, TV critic for the New Jersey Star-Ledger – Tony's own paper of choice – and the best chronicler of the show's legendary run. Chase did talk to Sepinwall, exclusively, by phone from his vacation retreat in the south of France. He just didn't tell him anything. "Anybody who wants to watch it, it's all there," Chase offered enigmatically. Which would seem to lend credence to the most intriguing of theories, that Tony Soprano is dead – possibly along with his wife and son – gunned down over dinner at a Bloomfield diner at the moment our TV screens all went dark. That at least is the opinion of the folks at www.tonyisdead.com, a cheeky new fan forum that also offers T-shirts and bumper stickers that read, in familiar red-on-black Sopranos font, "Tony is Dead. Deal with It."
There is also the silhouetted image of "the Guy in the Members Only jacket" who ducked into the washroom seconds before the big blackout ... an obvious homage (to these mooks, anyway) to the Michael Corleone Solozzo shooting in The Godfather. The big clincher, evidence-wise, is the conversation (later repeated in flashback) Tony had with Bobby Bacala during their fishing outing at the start of this nine-episode bonus semi-season. Mob death is discussed as something "you never see coming ... everything just goes black." It does seem to fit. But Sepinwall himself has another theory, also based on the perception of living vicariously through Tony. If you remember the scene, as his familiar hooded gaze scoped out the other patrons of the restaurant, everyone looked a little suspicious, from the waitress to the guy in the trucker's cap to the canoodling couple to, yes, the Members Only guy. Perhaps this is Tony's fate worse than death: a lifetime of paranoia and looking over his shoulder. I would suggest that all ideas are equally possible, and therefore all equally "true" – I think Chase's ambiguity is a gift to the Sopranophile: Pick your own ending. You can have your cannoli and eat it too. One popular misconception I should address is the notion that Chase has left things open-ended so that he can make a Sopranos movie in a few years. I doubt that will ever happen, and if it did, it would likely be a prequel, focusing on the heyday of Soprano elders Johnny Boy and Junior. Chase is interested in making movies – but not in repeating himself. And James Gandolfini is committed to his HBO deal that will likely have him playing Ernest Hemingway next year. A Sopranos spinoff series? Fuhggedaboutit (and with that, I now declare a moratorium on that well-worn phrase). But if you're wondering what that might be like, go to tinyurl.com/24qbrc and check it out. There is also a very amusing re-edit of those final Sopranos moments here – tinyurl.com/yrkxke – pinning the whole thing on that Christopher-obsessed cat, which we all know was really his murdered fiancée Adriana reincarnated.
Youtube Expands Into 9 More Countries
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Michael Liedtke
(June 19, 2007) SAN FRANCISCO – Unshaken by its legal problems in the United States, online video leader YouTube will attempt to extend its cultural reach and increase its moneymaking opportunities by programming new channels in nine other countries. The expansion, announced Tuesday in Paris, will make new YouTube sites available in Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The websites will be translated into the native languages of each country, when necessary, and allow YouTube to highlight videos that appeal to their respective audiences. Most of the visitors to YouTube's website in the United States already come from computers located in other countries, so creating more international channels is a step the San Bruno-based company always hoped to take, co-founder Steve Chen said in a phone interview from France. But the expansion didn't become viable until online search leader Google Inc. bought YouTube for $1.76 billion (U.S.) late last year. Besides giving YouTube more computing power, Google also supplied its new subsidiary with the expertise it needed to diversify. The international expansion is being overseen by Sakina Arsiwala, who previously worked on Google's search engines outside the United States. Arsiwala eventually hopes to engineer additional YouTube channels in dozens of other countries.
YouTube says it already streams more than 200 million videos each day. By making its programming more accessible to people who don't speak English, YouTube is hoping to stimulate even more usage outside the United States. Targeting specific markets may also appeal to advertisers. "We really feel like we are going to be providing a better product around the world," YouTube Chief Executive Chad Hurley said in a phone interview. The expansion also could deliver new challenges for YouTube as it tries to adhere to the laws and community standards of other nations. YouTube already is battling allegations that it has profited from copyright videos that users post without proper authorization. In the highest profile case, Viacom Inc. is suing YouTube and Google for US$1 billion in damages. YouTube and Google have denied any wrongdoing, citing their practice of removing videos as soon as a copyright owner sends a notice of unauthorized usage. Another federal lawsuit filed in New York already has provided a glimpse at some of the legal trouble that YouTube could encounter in other counties. The parties who filed the class-action suit include the Premier League, a top soccer league in England; the Federation Francaise de Tennis, which puts on the French Open; and the Ligue de Football Professionnel, another soccer group in France. The claims in the case are currently limited to copyright violations that occurred on YouTube's U.S. site, said Louis Solomon, an attorney representing the sports leagues. "But if they operate in the same unlawful manner that they do in the United States, they will get lawsuits in other countries, too," said Solomon. YouTube has worked out licensing agreements with more than 150 content providers in Europe and is trying to negotiate more. YouTube also remains committed to protecting the copyrights of those who don't want their videos shown on the site, Hurley said.
Barker Endorses Rosie As Possible
Successor On The Price Is Right
Source: Associated Press
(June 16, 2007) LOS ANGELES — Bob Barker endorsed his friend Rosie O'Donnell as a possible successor on The Price Is Right, although the newly retired host is not sure CBS wants a woman to take over the game show. “I believe they're going to have a meeting with Rosie,” Barker said backstage Friday night at the Daytime Emmy Awards, where he won his 19th trophy. “She knows the show,” he said. “There's no doubt in my mind she could do the show. Now, whether they want a lady host, I don't know. I've never heard that discussed. As far as I know, they've only auditioned men.” Barker said his friendship with O'Donnell goes back several years, when she had him as a guest on her old daytime talk show. “She told me she loved The Price Is Right and wanted to host it one day,” he recalled. Among those mentioned as possible replacement hosts have been Todd Newton of the E! network, Mark Steines of Entertainment Tonight, George Hamilton and John O'Hurley. Barker retired last week at age 83 after 35 years of giving away vacations and cars on the hit CBS game show. But he said he may be back with some specials featuring vintage clips and guests. “If it works out, I'd like to do that,” he said.
Barbara Walters Gets Hollywood Star
Source: Associated Press
(June 15, 2007 ) LOS ANGELES – Talk about odd bedfellows. Barbara Walters was honoured Thursday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The TV newswoman's star on the sidewalk in front of the Kodak Theatre is between those for Ryan Seacrest and Destiny's Child. "This strange alignment makes me hip and hot," Walters quipped during a ceremony attended by her "The View" co-hosts Joy Behar and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Other well-wishers included Police Chief William Bratton, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, and Kathy and Nicky Hilton. The ceremony came a day before the Daytime Emmys, in which Walters is nominated as both a host and producer of "The View."
‘Law & Order’ Sticks With Jesse L.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 19, 2007) *NBC’s “Law & Order” has undergone a bunch of new personnel changes in preparation for its upcoming 18th season, but Jesse L. Martin is not one of them. The actor just inked a deal to return for his ninth season as NYPD Detective Ed Green. In addition to the criminals, Green will have to deal with a number of new faces on the scene. Jeremy Sisto has signed on to play a detective, replacing Milena Govich, and Fred Thompson has announced his decision to exit the series and focus on his campaign to be the next U.S. President. His role of district attorney will be filled by the show vet Sam Waterston. Martin, meanwhile, will follow up his big screen role in “Rent” with "Caretakers." He’s also set to play Marvin Gaye in the feature film "Sexual Healing."
Splatter Matters To Front-Row Fans
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic
(June 14, 2007) I got whacked the other night. No, I wasn't filming a scene that never made it into the final episode of The Sopranos, but I was sitting in the Splatter Zone at Evil Dead: The Musical. So while I started out the evening in a spotless white shirt and shorts, I ended up looking like a human Jackson Pollock, heavy on the red. I had buckets of blood, pints of plasma and gallons of gore hurled at me, which only proved just how messy good, clean fun can be. It's all part of the nightly festivities at this crazy song-and-dance version of Sam Raimi's classic cult movies about a bunch of horny college kids who go off to a deserted cottage in the woods and find themselves squaring off against an army of zombies. The crowds are packing the Diesel Theatre every night to howl with laughter, but there's a more devoted group who go even further and sit in the first two rows, a.k.a. the Splatter Zone. Why is it called that? Well, as the second act builds to its climax, our hero, Ash, finally has to pick up a chainsaw and battle a horde of Candarian demons who throw their guts into it, literally, as those sitting down front become splendiferously incarnadined.
The first time I saw the show, I laughed at the people who got covered in blood, then I felt sorry for them, but it eventually turned into a somewhat troubling itch to find out what it felt like. So I booked a seat for the Splatter Zone. I looked at the crowd around me. To one side were a pair of dudes (no other word does them justice) who had the show's title roughly stencilled on their white T-shirts. And on my other side were two women who didn't say a word all night but sat primly in their crisp white blouses with "Evil Dead" neatly silk-screened over their hearts. Then there was Jim from Ottawa, sitting alone behind me. His girlfriend got sick, but he came anyway and now he clutched her hand-painted T-shirt on his lap so it would absorb its fair share of crimson, even though she couldn't be there in person. There's no splattering in the first act of the show, so those in the first two rows sit tensely, like kids in the front car of the roller coaster, waiting for it to start its climb. They don't laugh much, or shout out favourite lines like other fans throughout the theatre. These folks are here for the splatter; nothing less will do. At intermission, the ushers come around offering protective plastic coverings for the faint of heart, but almost all of them are refused.
As Act II continued and I knew the moment of truth was approaching, I felt my stomach begin to churn. Hey, I'd never been slimed by a Candarian demon before. And then it started. Like most awesome events in life, it seemed to be happening in slow motion and fast-forward at the same time. I saw Ryan Ward, as Ash, slash his chainsaw against one demon, who clutched his stomach and staggered towards me, as ... splat! A torrent of red liquid squirted directly in my face: a little cool and a lot sticky with a taste like cherry cough syrup. Before I knew it, I got splattered again and again and again. The demons knew I was sitting in the audience and they gave me their very best. When the show was over, I went into the lobby to discover I was an instant celebrity. Everybody wanted to have their photo taken "with the dude who really got splattered good." Ah, fame! Intoxicating, but fleeting. A few minutes later I was out on Blue Jays Way, where a gore-covered guy barely draws a second glance late at night. The next morning, I cleaned out the front seat of our car. If you're ever thinking of a life of crime, be warned: it's really hard to get blood out of seat belts.
Evil Dead: The Musical runs at the Diesel Playhouse, 56 Blue Jays Way, until Aug. 4. For tickets, call 416-971-5656 or go to dieselplayhouse.com
Curtain To Drop On Broadway’s Radio Golf
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(June 14, 2007) *The Broadway run of “Radio Golf,” August Wilson’s final story in his cycle of 10 plays chronicling African- American life in the 20th century, will take its final bow on July 1 due to struggles at the box office. The production is directed by Kenny Leon and stars Harry Lennix, Tonya Pinkins and Tony-nominated featured actors Anthony Chisolm and John Earl Jelks. Set in the 1990s, the story centers on an African-American politician in Pittsburgh's Hill District, where many of Wilson's plays take place. “Radio Golf’s” Broadway run took in around $2 million, with a weekly gross that never climbed past $200,000 since previews began April 20, reports Variety. Wilson died in 2005, soon after completing revisions of the script. One of its producers, actress Tamara Tunie, received a Tony Award on Sunday night as one of the producers for the hit musical, “Spring Awakening.”
Colm Wilkinson Takes Broadway Across
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Michael Liedtke
(June 19, 2007) Colm Wilkinson, who starred in Les Miserables on Broadway and Jesus Christ Superstar in London's West End, is launching a cross-Canada tour. Wilkinson, originally from Ireland, will kick off the series of shows, called Broadway and Beyond, in Halifax on Oct. 6. They will feature Wilkinson's favourite songs from "the world of theatre and popular music," said a news release. The tour is being mounted by theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky. Wilkinson played Jean Valjean in the original London and Broadway productions of Les Miz and starred for 4 1/2 years in the Toronto production of Phantom of the Opera. He will premiere the tour at Ireland's National Concert Hall in Dublin on July 22. In addition to Halifax, the tour will stop in Charlottetown, St. John's, N.L., Montreal and Ottawa, continuing across Ontario to Windsor, Kitchener, Brampton and Thunder Bay. It is also set to stop in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Victoria, Vancouver and Regina.
Bringing Back Bharatanatyam
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Dance Writer
(June 15, 2007) Lata Pada sees no contradiction in calling herself an Indian and a Canadian. She was born in Bangalore and first trained in dance there. But Canada has been her home for 42 years. Each year, she travels to India as a dancer, choreographer and the artistic director of Sampradaya Dance Creations. In this way, she maintains strong ties to India's Bharatanatyam dance culture. Her trips also supply inspiration for shows like kshetram – dancing the divine, which opens tonight for a two-night run in the Premiere Dance Theatre. The show follows the metaphor of a pilgrimage to the temples of India. At its heart, says Pada, kshetram is based on a spiritual journey, "on the notion that our life on Earth here is only a journey to ultimate realization. In India that tradition is a very strong one. "My trips to India have always taken me back to some of my favourite temples. After 1985, they took on a totally different resonance and meaning for me," Pada says, alluding to the loss of her husband and two daughters in the Air India bombing. Bharatanatyam, the southern classical form that is now a pan-Indian dance, originated as a form of devotion in the temples. Later it was a court dance and then a performance form.
The show puts Bharatanatyam back into the temple. Pada chose temples from different regions with corresponding poetry and song in different languages devoted to a particular deity. "I wanted people to have a visual context for the dance," says Pada. A narrator speaking English takes the audience on the journey from temple to temple, explaining each deity and the mythology attached to it. Pada dances solo, but in two central duets she partners Indian dancer Sathyanarayana Raju, recently named No. 1 male dancer in India. One of their dances, in honour of Vishnu, is set at the Tirupati temple, nestled between seven hills. Raju is also a Kathak dancer and has danced in several American cities. He will perform this August at Jacob's Pillow, the summer dance festival in Massachusetts He is very impressed with the high standard of traditional dancing in Canada. In India, dancing is still done in temples, although not as a form of devotion.
But multimedia productions such as kshetram, which features video images of the temples, are rare in India, he says. "Most of the time we will dance on a stage at a cultural organization and there are a lot of festivals in the temples every year." Raju organizes his own festival and invites local and international performers, including, needless to say, Lata Pada.
Celebrating Her Own Way
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Simona Siad, Living Reporter
(June 15, 2007) For many people, it's not a big deal to throw a party. But for Felicia Morrison, a lesbian of Jamaican descent, it's a testament to her finally being comfortable in her own skin. The 20-year-old York University student is planning an event called Solstice Pride, hoping to pull together people and music not much in evidence during the festivities. "The first time I went to the Pride Parade, I was overwhelmed with what I saw because it just didn't represent me," Morrison says. "It was the quintessential stereotype of what queer culture is, and for me that just didn't register, it didn't make sense. I didn't identify with the drag queens, I didn't identify with the buff men singing `YMCA,'" she says. Her event will be held Thursday in Toronto at Footwork bar and will fuse ska, afrobeat, funk, hip-hop and samba beats with "queerisque" visual montages, food and performances by local deejays. "The event is a celebration of confidence as well as sexuality. It's something that's really important to me as I've just come out and it was really hard for me to be confident with my own sexuality," Morrison says. "Once you come out, it's not just you, it's you and the rest of society and how they judge you." She says coming out in the Jamaican community a year and a half ago was "scary as hell" and recalls being frightened to tell her mother and crying the whole time as she spoke.
"When you're West Indian, it's just taboo to begin with. It's something you just don't bring up, even if you are," she says. "It's something that's just not discussed, it's swept under the rug." And although her mother was supportive and said she wouldn't pass judgment, she told Morrison that she shouldn't tell everyone that she's gay. "At first I thought about that, because I felt so confident that my mother had acknowledged that I'm gay. But the fact that she said that, I couldn't understand how people could hate me simply for who I am," Morrison says. She says she hopes minorities from straight and queer communities will attend her party knowing it is safe place to have fun and listen to different types of music. "Once black people, Latinos (who are gay) start realizing they are no different from people within the heterosexual community that is the moment they will start being more confident within themselves," she says.
For more information on Solstice Pride, go to myspace.com/solsticepride.
Marching On In Fine Fashion
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(June 14, 2007) Michelle DuBarry loves the stage. She's about to enjoy her largest audience yet as grand marshal of this year's Pride parade, before a crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands. As Russell Alldread, few people would give the shortish, balding, 75-year-old man a second glance. As DuBarry, it is au contraire. "I go out everywhere and everybody's recognizing me. I haven't got a big ego. It's just that I've been around so long and been involved in so many things," DuBarry says. That's long enough to remember a heap full of history about life as a gay man in Toronto in the underground years of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. DuBarry has stories – plenty of them – about the past five decades. A glass of wine, he hints, is often helpful in unlocking a treasure trove of memories, mainly hilarious and occasionally hair-raising. They include: Being an ordinary "suit-and-tie" shoe salesman by day, glam drag queen entertainer by night in basement clubs and down-an-alley-type places to avoid police scrutiny.
A brief marriage in 1958 that was a "big mistake," but nonetheless forged a still-enduring friendship with an ex-wife. Hanging out with Ronnie Hawkins, the Good Brothers, their band members and groupies from the old Pilot Tavern days in the 1960s. Going on the road in 1969 and 1970 with the legendary Craig Russell of Outrageous film fame, who went on to become a big star before dying young. Driving on the back of a chopper with a biker through Halifax, his blonde wig streaming in the breeze. A night out with a distinguished naval officer, who fled once he found out the "boobs" weren't real. Forming and touring with the Great Imposters in the 1970s, one of Canada's first and best-known drag-show troupes. With DuBarry at the wheel of the group's van, they drove to places as far-flung as Hearst and Kapuskasing, before DuBarry parted company with the show. "We never had any trouble. We were a bunch of guys coming into town, walking around in the daytime in cowboy shirts and cowboy hats," she recalls. "But we'd go into women's dress shops and look at stuff and they (salespeople) would all be giggling." Forming and performing in Les Girls and Guys Will Be Dolls, at a time when AIDS began to decimate the community. Involvement for the past 20 years through the Imperial Court, a gay non-profit charity, being crowned Empress (and since then, crowned Matriarch), and raising money for charities as various as AIDS awareness, street youth and Gilda's Club. "The most important part of my life is giving back," DuBarry says. Getting a lifetime achievement award from former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall. DuBarry has a publicist friend working on a special request for the parade: to ride in a "bright red" Pontiac G6 hardtop convertible.
DuBarry – or Alldread – worked briefly for General Motors, which has the same initials as grand marshal, which seems a propitious sign. With the advance of age comes wisdom, and DuBarry has some advice for younger members of the community. "I'm like this old mother, so I try to tell young men today, `Life begins at 40, so smarten up. Don't be making all kinds of stupid mistakes.' They don't understand what we went through in the early days," she says. And since DuBarry has the Star's ear for the moment, a brief request: "I'm a bit of a clutterbug. It's like living in one giant closet," she explains, confessing to owning more than 200 pairs of shoes and umpteen dresses, most of which are handmade. "I desperately need a television show to come and help encourage me, very kindly, to get organized. And then, I need it decorated." One final thought on this year's Pride theme: "Unstoppable." "Everybody tells me, `You're an icon.' I don't know, I'm old but I've never stopped."
We'll Have A Glass Of Château Aykroyd
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Geoff Nixon
(June 14, 2007) During his more than 30-year showbiz career, Dan Aykroyd's name has headlined a lot of different things: movies, concerts, charity events. Next up: wine labels. The Dan Aykroyd name appears on a new line of signature wine bottles, launched yesterday in Toronto. "I want it to really be a success in Canada," Aykroyd said yesterday. The Ottawa-born actor invested $1-million in the wine company Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits Ltd., in 2005. Since then, he and the company have developed two wines under his name, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Merlot, which are on shelves now. They are expected to retail between $15 and $25 a bottle. The company will also open a new Dan Aykroyd winery, to be built in the town of Lincoln, Ont., in the heart of the Ontario wine region. It will cost $12-million to construct the building, which is expected to become a tourist attraction.
For his part, Aykroyd seems to talk the talk of an experienced wine connoisseur. "I like the big, bold, monster Bordeauxs," Aykroyd said, of his tastes in wines, noting he wasn't initially sure he would be able to make the kind of wines he wanted with the types of grapes typically grown in the Niagara region. "We worked successfully over the last year or so to get it right," he said. And while Aykroyd has been heavily promoting his interests in winemaking, he probably won't have too much to do with the actual day-to-day production duties, says Diamond Estates' head winemaker Tom Green. "He's always been influential in the process and what we're doing and the quality status of these wines," said Green, not to be confused by name with another famous Canadian comedian. "The quirks that he's got ... it brings a little more fun to the winemaking style," he said.
Festivals Accuse Ottawa Of Foot-Dragging
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Val Ross
(June 16, 2007) Here it is festival season and everyone's at each other's throats. We're not talking about fighting for prime seats at Montreal's Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, but a brawl involving federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda, opposition MPs and lobby groups for Canada's festivals and fairs. Ever since the Liberal sponsorship scandal in Quebec, and the withdrawal of the tobacco industry from publicly supporting programs across Canada, people have been begging Ottawa to help them out. The feds, wary of embroiling themselves further in charges of regional favouritism, have promised help - but not yet. Two separate funds are at issue. As Canada Day approaches, NDP culture critic Charlie Angus has been demanding to know why the Celebrate Canada/Le Canada en Fête fund, which dates back to the Liberal government, appears to have grown 10-fold, from $2.9-million a year to $21.5-million in 2007. Angus says this is the very fund the Tories used to decry as a pork-barrel war chest under the Liberals. Oda, usually seen as more a punching bag than a fighter, has come out swinging, terming Angus's statements "a malicious manipulation of facts." She says that funding is $7.3-million "and it has been the same for the past three years. It is unfortunate that a Member of Parliament has decided to play cheap politics with what should be a great celebration." But Heritage itself has confused the issue (the department has long been used in the federal government as a route through which projects can be redefined and channelled). The number $2.9-million for Celebrate Canada's grants and contributions appears on page 86 of the 2005-2006 Canadian Heritage Departmental Performance Report. This baffles even former Heritage staffers, and seems not to include those elements of Celebrate Canada that go to three other holidays, St. Jean Baptiste Day, National Aboriginal Day and Canadian Multiculturalism Day. Nor may it encompass National Capital Region Canada Day celebrations. As for the apparent increase, the department explained the $21.5-million only after Angus raised the issue: Add to the $7.3-million for all of Celebrate Canada's activities another $14.2-million for Quebec City, which is celebrating its 400th anniversary.
Why the obfuscation? Ottawa insiders explain that the Harper government is playing a political balancing game: It is quietly trying to make Celebrate Canada more regionally equitable (that is, give proportionately more to provinces outside Quebec), while at the same time accommodate Quebec's demands for federal funding to celebrate Samuel de Champlain's founding of Quebec City in 1608. Recipients of 2007 Celebrate Canada grants, such as Toronto's UrbanNoise against violence in the community and Charlottetown's Confederation Centre, say they are happy. But Bryan Mercer, marketing director of Kingston, Ont.'s Fort Henry, says he didn't bother to apply for the site's Canada Day rock concert. "We were under the impression it was only small grants, $800 or so, for fireworks and cake. Where's the communication on Celebrate Canada? Placing information on a website doesn't do it." The other fund at issue is the one announced in the March, 2007, budget, to support heritage festivals, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pledged $30-million a year for two years. Because this fund appeared after extensive lobbying - led by Quebec festivals, but also involving Toronto's early June festival Luminato - it was assumed that the fund would be rushed into place. After all, 80 per cent of Canada's festivals take place in late spring and the summer. Three months later, there are still no application rules. Oda's office says there won't be until fall. "This is a cross-Canada issue," says Lindy Sisson, director of the Vancouver Children's Festival. "Whenever the media talk about the scandalous sponsorship program, they forget that the problem was with the ad and handling agencies. But it's the festivals that are suffering." With the demise of the Toronto, Thunder Bay and Regina children's festivals, hers is one of the few remaining. Last week, Luc Fournier of the Festivals Coalition met with the Heritage Minister. "I said, 'Hey, Madame Oda, can we make this a fast-track thing?' and she went philosophical and abstract. She said, 'What is a festival? What is heritage?' I was quite upset." Also present at that meeting was David Bednar, president of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, and general manager of Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition, the country's largest. He was left more puzzled than angry. "You'd think that if they announced something in the budget they'd have ideas about what to use it for," he says.
Tina's Royal Comeback
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com- Simon Houpt
(June 16, 2007) NEW YORK — Tina Brown is twitching like a diabetic in the early stages of insulin shock. She's just been asked what she thinks about Prince Harry's misadventures in a Calgary shooter bar, and though it's been days since the news broke, she had no clue about the incident. “What is this? What's happened? What have I missed? Tell me!” she implores. “Tell me the Harry news!” Her startled reaction suggests the Tina news may be more interesting. After all, once upon a time, as an editor serially responsible for the British gossip mag Tatler and then Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Talk magazines, Brown sat on a self-made throne ruling over a zeitgeisty land of media and celebrity, where courtiers and friends kept her abreast of the very latest in low and high culture. Time was, she'd have been one of the first in the land to hear of Royal misadventures. Still, though she's wretched on TV – too pinched and haughty – she's a sharp, pithy pundit, and once informed of the Harry news, she takes a mere moment to compose a quotable quote. “Canada's a great sexual clearing house for the Royals, for some reason,” she says, starting in on something about Prince Andrew, and then shifting gears. “Time was, you could have an indiscretion in Canada and it didn't go 'round the world. Whereas now, a sneeze in Timbuktu and it's on the front pages in London.”
Brown's ignorance about Harry is at least partly excusable. She's been in something of a bubble for the last week touting The Diana Chronicles, a juicy deboning of the late Princess of Wales that went on sale Tuesday, a few months before the 10th anniversary of that awful Parisian August night. There was Monday night's launch party at the midtown Sony Club, the room window-dressed exhaustively in dozens of her old friends and contacts, including Barry Diller, Charlie Rose, Isaac Mizrahi, Bette Midler and even her erstwhile backer, Harvey Weinstein, who has evidently forgiven her for burning through $55-million (U.S.) in the name of Talk. There were two appearances on Good Morning America, and a clutch of radio and print interviews with U.S. and British reporters, and all those reviews she's had to plow through, because Tina is a rare writer who reads her own press. Which may be one reason she looks more at ease than she has since the last millennium: For the first time in years, Tina's press is good. Okay, God knows, the Earth would still continue to turn if we never again debased ourselves with the tawdry tattlings of that dysfunctional royal couple and their various lovers and hangers-on. Tina knows this. (Like Di, at least in this town, she needs no last name.) So, in The Diana Chronicles, she offers up a delectably written tale that is as much a gleeful portrait of a fading, antediluvian British social class as it is a barbed mash note to the tragic princess. “I saw Diana as a kind of emblematic life, if you like,” she explains, seated primly at the small, circular stone table in the dining room of her ground-floor Sutton Place apartment.
She is in a black high-necked Vera Wang dress with a thick Ralph Lauren belt, and Ralph Lauren open-toed shoes with a fat wedge heel. If you squint, she could pass for Diana's shorter sister. Tina has retreated, after a photo shoot in her walled garden, the site of many well-attended book launches (spent matches and an abandoned port cork testify to recent traffic), chased inside by the noise of heavy construction next door. Her 16-year-old daughter, Izzy, is upstairs, ill, chagrined about missing the second day of an internship with photographer Annie Leibovitz. Tina's husband, the editor Sir Harry Evans, 78, is occasionally glimpsed at work through the den doors beyond the sitting room, with its blond herringbone floors and bound volumes of her magazines and old prints and original New Yorker covers, and a restrained sprinkling of family photos. She continues. “I had a heroine through whom I could write about the aristocracy, the monarchy, the changing times of England, the evolution of the press, the evolution of women, in a sense. I was able to do that through looking at the things that happened to Diana, because she was the trajectory through all of that,” says Tina. “She was very much a girl who was born on the cusp of a changing England, and by the time she'd died, of course, the whole needle had shifted into that of the celebrity culture we know today. “So she traversed from society to celebrity culture, and became this sort of leading player in it, and you could argue, in a sense, was killed by it, really, because that whole crazy end was so media-driven.” And not just by those in the media: Brown argues that Diana was hanging out with Dodi that summer not out of any genuine affection but primarily because she knew the coverage would curdle Balmoral. Besides, like any celebrity with an unsatisfying home life, Diana had always sought approval from the camera's lens. “She was on a trajectory to die, given the media explosion, given how out of control it was. There wasn't a place where that kind of media burnout could end, except badly. She didn't have to die – she could have withdrawn from it. But she didn't seem to know how to withdraw from it. That was the tragedy. She still needed it, and she was quasi-dependent on it, and never saw a way to put the genie back in the bottle.” You might say (hell, even the good reviews already have) that Tina, too, was both born and strangled by the media. At 53, seven years older than her subject would be now, she had a run that more or less paralleled Diana's time in the spotlight. And though she denies such a simple narrative arc, still she's surprised to be receiving such positive reviews. “I just hoped to get away with it,” she admits. “You know how it is in life? I just hoped to get out without too much negativity, and sell some books.” “I think I've got kind of used to having a certain amount of schadenfreude out there, so I didn't expect to have the book considered as well as it has been. I kind of thought [the coverage] would wind up being a kind of revisit of stuff that's been written about me.”
Not certain what she's talking about? A quick recap, then, of the more recent chapters of The Tina Chronicles. After pumping up Vanity Fair through the eighties with such headline-snagging stunts as throwing a naked and pregnant Demi Moore on the cover (this was back in the days when readers could be scandalized), Tina was appointed editor of The New Yorker in 1992, prompting thin-blooded staff writers and readers alike to faint at the blasphemy. Tina revived that magazine, too, though she spent money like a spoiled princess on the verge of a divorce settlement. Then, in 1998, she moved from being a dispassionate chronicler of the zeitgeist to one of its high-profile victims when she left The New Yorker to start Talk with Miramax Films. The magazine, which launched with a notoriously splashy fete at the Statue of Liberty in the summer of 1999, was supposed to be the engine room of a multimedia dot-com strategy that would spin off books and movies and an Internet something-or-other. But its burn rate was too high, and in January, 2002, it ignominiously shut down. ` Many staff members went on to perfectly respectable jobs around town, but a mere job would never do for Tina. She disappeared for a year or so, then tried her hand at a monthly talk show on CNBC which was mesmerizingly bad. To get back her writing chops – Brown can be a witty, surgical stylist – she began a weekly column for The Washington Post, which sparked her appetite to write the Diana book. And now? She says her next project will be another book, though she doesn't know the subject, and she admits she'd really like to be doing daily or weekly journalism. “I actually always wanted to edit a newspaper. But I'm also practical. There isn't a newspaper to edit, frankly,” she says. “Everybody evolves. You can't just stay where you were.” (Though many of the city's top magazine editors have done just that.) “I think I'm now on another trajectory, and I'm very happy,” she insists, counting off the countries where the Diana book is being published. “I don't need to be looking to sustain some kind of fake narrative arc, you know, just to please certain media columnists.” But surely she, as much as anyone who views real people like Diana as characters acting out a narrative, can appreciate the notion that she's no longer – to employ her own editing parlance – hot.
“I realize that, but I don't see why I should be a participant,” she says, throwing off an easy laugh. “You know what? I also think reporters are incredibly hackneyed, the way they pursue the same narratives. It's just remarkable to me. I mean, my God, I would be throwing them out as an editor and saying: ‘Get a new angle!' But maybe other editors are happy with old angles.” She raises an eyebrow at her visitor. Ahem. So, sure, let's let Tina have that different narrative, even if she wouldn't necessarily extend the same courtesy. (Personal evolution? It may be real, but it's more Oprah than Tina.) After all, after living in the United States for more than 20 years, Brown took her American citizenship in 2005. “We're nothing but second acts,” she says, “and you know, I love that about America. In England, people just kind of subside after a certain time. And I love the way that American people keep sort of resurfacing and resurging in different guises. It's fantastic. It's a culture that's very, very hospitable to reinvention and to kind of, you know, trying something again.” There's another reporter waiting now in the sitting room. Tina's been generous with her time and complimentary with her comments. On the way out of her apartment, in the foyer, are two things that catch the eye: a stack of the news-digest magazine, The Week, which Tina once said she admired; and next to that, a new paperback copy of The Essential Writings of Machiavelli.
Air Jamaica Launches New Non-Stop
Barbados Flights From Fort Lauderdale
Source: Air Jamaica/ Ruder Finn
(June 13, 2007) KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Air Jamaica announces today that it will inaugurate non-stop service between Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and The Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, starting July 22, 2007. The flight will operate 3 days per week and offers new links from FLL to other islands in the Eastern Caribbean. The new flight will operate non-stop in both directions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will open up more destination possibilities for consumers flying from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean. Connections in Barbados will be on LIAT, the Caribbean Airline. Connections can be made to the islands of Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica, Martinique, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis. Barbados-bound flights (JM 96) depart FLL at 9:40 a.m. and arrive BGI at 1:00 p.m. Fort Lauderdale-bound flights (JM 97) depart BGI at 1:50 p.m. and arrive FLL at 5:30 p.m. In celebration of this new non-stop service, Air Jamaica is offering an introductory sale fare on this route of $378 round trip ($189 each way) plus taxes in economy class for travel between July 22 and December 15, 2007. Tickets at this special rate must be purchased by June 28, 2007 and can be booked at www.airjamaica.com, through Air Jamaica's toll-free reservations at 1-800-523-5585 or through a travel agent.
"Based on the success of our non-stop flight from New York's JFK to Barbados and the possibilities it offers travelers from the Northeast, we believe providing this regular non-stop service to consumers in the Southeast will be equally successful," says Paul Pennicook, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Air Jamaica. "We are excited to provide this new non-stop service making it easier for vacationers, business people and Caribbean Nationals to get to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean from South Florida." Pennicook said that Air Jamaica will operate Airbus A-320 service on the new non-stops with 138 seats in Economy and 12 in Executive Business Class. About Air Jamaica Air Jamaica provides more non-stop flights to Jamaica than any other carrier with more than 300 flights per week from Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York (JFK), Orlando, and Philadelphia in the United States; Toronto in Canada; and from London in the United Kingdom to Montego Bay and Kingston. Air Jamaica also offers daily non-stop service between New York (JFK) and Barbados and direct service between JFK to both St. Lucia and Grenada. Air Jamaica also offers intra-regional service with flights between Jamaica and the Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Cuba, Curaçao, Grand Cayman, Grenada and St. Lucia.
Gianfranco Ferre, 62: 'Architect of
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(June 17, 2007) MILAN, Italy – Gianfranco Ferre, the Italian designer known as the "architect of fashion" for his structured, sculpted shapes and for his groundbreaking tenure at Christian Dior, died Sunday, a hospital said. He was 62. Ferre was taken to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Friday after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage. The hospital, in a statement authorized by Ferre's family, said he died Sunday night. Ferre started his career as an accessories and jewellery designer, and then moved on to clothes. His unofficial title as Italy's architect of fashion came thanks to the degree in architecture he obtained in 1969 from Milan's Polytechnic Institute that inspired his designs. He started his own company in the mid-1970s, but his major leap came in 1989, when he was tapped by Bernard Arnault to be the top designer for Christian Dior.
At the time, it was almost unheard of for a non-French designer to lead the venerable Parisian house. Ferre stayed on at Dior until the fall of 1996, when he returned to Milan to tend to his own men's and women's collections. Ferre's style was based on simple and structured lines, and the white blouse became one of his trademarks. His suits were used by businesswomen around the world looking for a sophisticated look. For the evening, Ferre often made important dresses with ample skirts supported by layers of crinolines. In 2002, Ferre sold Gianfranco Ferre to It Holding, but he stayed on as creative director. His spring-summer 2008 menswear collection is scheduled to be presented next week in Milan. Born Aug. 15, 1944 in Legnano, in northern Italy, Ferre worked and lived in India for several years. His passion for travel and world cultures was often reflected in his collections. He is survived by a brother and sister-in-law. There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.
Spurs Lower LeBroom
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Dave Feschuk
(June 15, 2007) CLEVELAND - When the San Antonio Spurs won their fourth NBA championship in nine years last night, it was perhaps fitting that it came without much drama in a hushed arena emptying of fans. Their four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, completed with an 83-82 win, was a little ugly and plenty unmemorable, which was a measure of both San Antonio's suffocating effectiveness as a defensive juggernaut, and of the Cavaliers' unworthiness as a competitive rival of the game's best team. LeBron James, the 22-year-old wunderkind who led his team to its first league final and scored 24 points on 10 for 30 shooting, led a spirited fourth-quarter rally in which the Cavaliers briefly took a three-point lead. But the Spurs recovered with the tenaciousness that has defined their success. Manu Ginobili, the Argentine swingman who finished with 27 points, made a couple of his slashing lay-ups and drilled a three-pointer. Fabricio Oberto capped a telling sequence in which the Spurs snatched a couple of offensive rebounds with a lay-up and an ensuing free throw. After Duncan stole a ball from James and Oberto converted a lay-up, the Spurs led 74-66 with 2:00 to play. And though there were hiccups – such as Ginobili inexplicably fouling Damon Jones on a three-pointer with seven seconds left to prolong the agony – that 12-3 run essentially cued the trophy-kissing and the ring fittings.
"It never gets old," said Duncan. "Such a great run, a great journey, a great bunch of guys." Tony Parker, the point guard who had 24 points on 10 for 14 shooting, won the championship-series MVP after yet another prodigious display of ankle-breaking drives and perimeter shooting that frequently quieted the sell-out throng at Quicken Loans Arena. "It's like a dream," said Parker. "I'll wake up tomorrow." Duncan, the only common thread of all four championship teams, was good enough, with 12 points and 15 rebounds, and the Spurs joined the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls as just the fourth franchise in NBA history with four or more championships. But their claim to fame as a modern-day dynasty is disputed by some – perhaps most vehemently by Gregg Popovich, the coach, who dismissed the notion that his team be crowned with the "D" word by citing John Wooden's UCLA teams and the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics as the standards for comparison. Considering Wooden's teams won 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year span, and that Russell's claimed 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons, the Spurs certainly aren't in that conversation. And even Robert Horry, who won his seventh championship ring last night as a backup forward, conceded that these Spurs aren't the best team with which he's played. Speaking to reporters in the lead-up to Game 4 he said the Shaq-and-Kobe L.A. Lakers, particularly the 2000-01 edition that lost just one playoff game en route to the second of three consecutive championships, were superior. And the Spurs, indeed, have yet to achieve the tall order of winning back-to-back titles. Still, they've won one more championship than the Larry Bird-era Celtics. And though they're two short of Michael Jordan's six-ringed Chicago Bulls, they're still young. Duncan is 31, Ginobili 29, Parker 25. All three are signed to contracts that will keep them in San Antonio for at least two more seasons. They led by five at the half, 39-34, even though Duncan had missed all five of his field-goal attempts, and the success was nothing new for a team that won Game 3 with Ginobili going 0 for 7 from the field. The Cavs spent much of the lead-up to last night's game paying homage to the Spurs. Said Drew Gooden, the Cleveland forward: "(San Antonio) symbolizes a team, a core, a rock."
Sid The Kid Wins Respect
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter, Sports Reporter
(June 15, 2007) It's difficult to pinpoint precisely when Sidney Crosby became a bona fide NHL superstar. Perhaps it was that six-point night against Philadelphia in December that catapulted him to the top of the scoring race, a lead he would never relinquish; maybe it was when he gave it his all in the playoffs despite a broken foot; or it was when an 11-inch vinyl action figure of the teenager hit the toy shelves; or when he became the youngest captain in league history; or when the drop of a ping-pong ball saved a franchise. Crosby had secured his place in Canada's hockey landscape before he had a team. But the moment he had acceptance arrived last night. Crosby, criticized in his rookie year and dogged by his fellow NHL players for being a yappy, uppity, whining diver who didn't know his place, stepped up at the Elgin Theatre to accept the only award voted on by those same players.
Only 19 and incapable of growing a decent playoff beard, the Pittsburgh Penguins' sophomore centre was handed the Lester B. Pearson Award, presented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as the best player in the NHL in a vote of his peers. Crosby also picked up the Hart Trophy after the media voted him most valuable to his team to add to the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer. He was only the seventh player to pick up that impressive hat trick and the youngest in league history. Sid the Kid, although he qualified it by saying there's "no right answer" as to which he was more honoured to receive, conceded the vote from the players had special meaning. "Getting that respect, I guess you could say, from the guys you play against each night. That's probably one of the ultimate compliments you could get," Crosby said. "I'm not downplaying the media's opinion by any means, but it's certainly a huge honour to get that respect." It wasn't given easily. Crosby had to work for it, reigning in some the exuberance that riled opponents in his rookie season. "I tried to channel my emotion a little bit more to what I can control," he said. "I'm not going to stand here and say one day I'll be up for the Lady Byng because I know I won't be. But I think if guys see that you come to play hard every night, if they see you're out there doing your best and doing it in a good nature, that's the way to earn it. That just comes with experience as well."
Don Cherry gave voice to criticism of Crosby during his freshman season, when he said he was a hot dog who wasn't worthy of the "A" on his jersey. Players lobbed grenades as well, including Peter Forsberg calling the native of Cole Harbour, N.S., a "diver." "His first year, Sidney faced a lot of adversity," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "But I really believe this year, Sidney Crosby got a lot of respect, not only from the players in Pittsburgh but from his peers in the NHL ... with the way he acted on the ice, the way he handled himself off the ice. I think this was a huge step in his career. He earned a lot of respect." Therrien said it wasn't easy for Crosby to achieve the balance of playing hard every night while keeping his emotions in check. "He got criticized sometimes because he had too much passion. I remember his first year after getting criticized a few times by his peers, he just tried to play the game, but that was not him. I say, hey get back, show me those Rocket Richard eyes. That's the way you're going to be able to perform." He did and, as Joe Sakic put it last night, "He's the face of the league now. He earns everything he gets." And, last night, that was a trophy case full of hardware.