20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (416) 677-5883


March 22, 2007

Welcome to spring!??  It may officially be spring - but we all know that the sun doesn't start to feel warm until sometime in May! 

OK, so remember when I said there was no problems switching from Telus to Rogers?  Well, I've had nothing but drama but hopefully this is an isolated case and all you others considering that will have better luck ... jinxed my damn self!


Official Opening of Harlem - March 22

Yes, it's been a minute!  Way back in December, I told you that the official opening of
Harlem would happen in the new year and the time is here!

Just in time for spring!  We took the winter to get it just right. The synergy of master chef
Ang McClusky and proprietor Carl Cassell have created a dinner menu for the truly discerning palette.  The afterparty held in the beautiful vibe of the Renaissance Room will be conducted by the mad skills of DJ Carl Allen. Beautiful food, beautiful people.

You must RSVP to Carl at carl@iriefoodjoint.com

Want to check out the latest hot spot in Toronto to hang out?  Come and check out Harlem!

Here's some press on our fab new hangout!

Toronto Sun

Food Service World

Globe and Mail

DJ  Carl Allen
67 Richmond Street E. (at Church St.)
Dinner: 6:00 pm; Party 8:00 pm
No cover
RSVP: carl@iriefoodjoint.com
Harlem:  416-368-1920



Stylus DJ Awards Return On June 4th To Celebrate Canadian Success

Source: Stylus Group

(March 19, 2007) – For the second consecutive year, the Stylus Group, a Canadian organization formed to recognize, develop and represent the urban DJs of Canada, will bring together the country’s most influential players in urban lifestyle–DJs, emcees, artists and tastemakers–for an evening of recognition and celebration of Canada’s foremost urban DJs at the
2007 Stylus DJ Awards on Monday, June 4, 2007 in Toronto.   Once again, the awards will acknowledge the achievements in 23 categories, including: Club DJ of the Year, Radio Mixshow DJ of the Year and DJ of the Year–Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. 

In addition, there will be four new categories. To bring attention to the small, but dedicated group of women nationwide who make DJing their passion, the awards will include a new, separate category for women–Best Female DJ. Furthermore, the awards will bestow the coveted Best MixTape DJ to support the public’s demand for a mixtape category. Last year’s College Hip Hop DJ of the Year is now College Radio Show of the Year to encompass more genres; including, but not limited to, Hip Hop, R&B, Soca, House, Indie, and even News. Moreover, to enhance the underground DJs in Canada, the awards will feature a category for Underground Hip Hop DJ of the Year.

Equally noteworthy, STYLUS has convinced DJ Starting From Scratch (winner of three categories at the 2006 Stylus DJ Awards) to join Stylus Group and assist with this year’s production. DJ Starting From Scratch will be the Official DJ of the 2007 Stylus DJ Awards.   “I’m very excited to be a part of the production and work behind-the-scenes to create an unforgettable evening for all of the DJs across Canada,” says DJ Starting From Scratch, the Official DJ of the 2007 Stylus DJ Awards. “Mark your calendar on June 4th for a must-attend event!”   Two Canadian Hall of Fame inductions will be the highlight of the night’s special recognitions. The 2007 Stylus DJ Awards will be hosted by last year’s Toronto Club MC of the Year nominees, RG and Trixx. The show will feature music supplied by Canada’s finest DJs, as well as exciting artist performances and surprise guest appearances.   “Fuelled by the overwhelming response at the 2006 first-ever national DJ awards and thanks to continuous support, we are thrilled to return and bring Canadians another star-studded show,” explains Mike Zafiris, creator of the Stylus DJ Awards. “The addition of new categories and all-weekend festivities confirms the dynamic urban DJ scene nationwide, and the awards show honours Canada’s top talent.”   Thousands of industry leaders will cast their votes online to select nominees, and then a random panel composed of industry experts will determine winners.

The event is generously supported by MuchVIBE, Flow 93.5FM, Ortofon, American Audio, Pioneer, Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music, Koch Entertainment and myTego Inc.   To view a complete listing of the categories for the 2007 Stylus DJ Awards, please visit www.stylusgroup.ca. The 2007 Stylus DJ Awards will take place on June 4th in Toronto at the Palais Royale Ballroom, 1601 Lakeshore Blvd. W. Doors will open at 7 p.m. for nominees and performers to walk the Red Carpet and the Awards Show will commence at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available soon for $25 through Ticket Break at
http://www.stylusgroup.ca and Play de Record in Toronto.   For further information, please email info@stylusgroup.ca or visit www.stylusgroup.ca

About Stylus DJ Awards:
The Stylus DJ Awards is Canada’s first nationwide DJ awards show. The awards were created by Mike Zafiris, founder of Flavor Record Pool, in an effort to acknowledge the achievements of DJs, musicians and record labels, as well as raise awareness of the dynamic urban music scene in Canada and worldwide. This event will pay tribute to top urban DJs for their strong influence on Canada’s music and entertainment industry, and for their contribution to pop culture.

Don Cheadle: 'Miles' Ahead Of The Rest

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Mar. 16, 2007)
Don Cheadle will not only star as legendary jazz innovator Miles Davis in the forthcoming biopic, he will also direct it. Now take that -- you Academy Award constituency who continue to let the coveted trophy elude one of the most deserving thespians of this generation. Cheadle, who was nominated for an Oscar for 2004's 'Hotel Rwanda,' will produce the Davis film through Crescendo Productions, the shingle he's formed with Kay Liberman and Lenore Zerman, reports 'Variety.' Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson, who wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award nominated 'Ali' and 'Nixon,' has been tapped to write the script for the yet to be titled vehicle.  Darryl Porter of Miles Davis Properties will co-produce.

The Alton, Illinois born Davis is considered one of the most influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Through a drug-riddled, tumultuous career, the acclaimed trumpeter, bandleader and composer created seminal recordings such as 'Sketches of Spain,' 'Kind of Blue' and 'Bitches Brew' - considered masterpieces by jazz purists. Last year, Davis, who died in 1991, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Directing and starring in this movie may be just the shot in the arm that the Academy needs to put the former 'Picket Fences' star into the big leagues. This week, the 'Oceans Eleven' star is being honoured at ShoWest 2007 as "Male Star of the Year," unveiling plans to produce four other films. The Kansas City native stars alongside Adam Sandler and Jada Pinkett-Smith in Mike Binder's 'Reign Over Me,' opening next week. Cheadle also starred in 'Crash,' the 2004 Academy Award winning drama for 'Best Picture.'

The 2007 MuchMusic Video Awards Rocks Millions Worldwide Sunday, June 17th

Source:  MuchMusic

(TORONTO – March 20th)  MuchMusic delivers today’s hottest chart-toppers and celebrities with
The 18th Annual MuchMusic Video Awards.  This megawatt event is confirmed to air Sunday, June 17th live from the station's famed street-front headquarters in Toronto, Canada.  It’s one highly buzzed spectacle: a critically acclaimed mix of live street-level performances, unmatched red-carpet cool, and thousands of screaming fans all enjoying unparalleled access.  Last year’s A-lister cavalcade reached a whopping 3.5 million viewers in Canada and 100 million around the globe with broadcasts in 65 countries.  "With the MMVAs, MuchMusic brings huge international stars to Canada while showcasing renowned and rising homegrown talent to the world," said David Kines, VP, Music & Youth Services, CHUM Television. “And the fans eat it up because they’re at the centre of this wild show where absolutely anything can happen – and does.” 

Last year’s red-hot performers included Nelly Furtado & Timbaland, Rihanna, Fall Out Boy and Simple Plan.  Paris Hilton, Jay Manuel, Elisha Cuthbert, Evanescence, Jesse Metcalfe, T.I., Amanda Bynes and Tori Spelling were among the who's who hot list of presenters and guests.  The big winner was Canadian rap star Kardinal Offishall who took home the most hardware with three awards.  Christina Aguilera, Pamela Anderson, Beastie Boys, The Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Destiny's Child, The Killers, Lenny Kravitz, Avril Lavigne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shakira and Britney Spears are just a small slice of the international superstars who have fired up the fans at past MMVAs.

Stay tuned for nominees and People's Choice voting details - followed by announcements of performers, presenters, celebrity guests, international broadcasts and contests. Fans can stay tuned to MuchMusic and www.muchmusic.com for more information. 


Delivered in High Definition and 5.1 surround sound.  Join us Sunday June 17th at 7:30pm ET for the Red Carpet Arrivals Special airing live on MuchMusic, Star! and CitytvHD - immediately followed by The 18th Annual MuchMusic Video Awards airing live in all time zones: 9pm ET on MuchMusic, Citytv Toronto, Star!, CitytvHD and 104.5 CHUM FM, 7pm MT on Citytv Calgary/Edmonton, 8pm CT on Citytv Winnipeg, and 8pm PT on Citytv Vancouver.


Open-Mic Nights Are Still The City’s Top Proving Ground

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

(March 15, 2007) She took a risk with the humming.  In the middle of her second song
Christine Tier stopped strumming her guitar. She drew her mouth to the microphone. Took a deep breath. Beamed a sultry, penetrating stare into the audience. And let the tune spring from her lips.  A crown attorney, she's used to the scrutinizing glare of criminal judges. But here she is, under the grime-stained lights of Grossman's Tavern on an open-mic event and in the midst of one of her toughest trials yet.  She's forced herself into this "courtroom" that smells of stale beer and cigarettes, to convince a jury of her peers she's got what it takes to be in the spotlight. Her first CD is coming out in six weeks and she doesn't have much time to get comfortable on stage.  "It's practice," she says, plopping her guitar into its case. "I get so nervous. My hands shake, my knees buckle and I can't sing. I thought I sucked." She's in good company this Sunday afternoon at Grossman's. The dingy bar, legendary for its jazz and blues, across the street from Kensington Market, is filled with a "community of singer-songwriters" just like Tier, 43.

They're a mixed bag of people – a lawyer, an Argentine truck driver who plays the cajon, an Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument, a deliveryman trained in classical guitar, a folk-singing subway busker – and their genres of music run the gamut from rock to country to folk to a fusion of all three. But differences such as these are typical at any open-mic night in Toronto, whether it's a forum for spoken word, poetry, comedy or music. They're also what brings crowds to some of the many events around this city, says Norman Cristofoli, co-founder of coffeehouse.ca, a website for independent artists.  It's a proving ground for talent that's relatively safe, compared to the glare of, say, Canadian Idol or a headlining gig at a music or comedy club. "You don't have to be playing in your mother's basement by yourself," he says. "People can realize their artistic endeavours in a more realistic fashion."

The free or nearly free price of admission – and sometimes, the promise of cheap beer – draws all kinds of spectators. And the scene has really taken off in this city lately, says Cristofoli, who offers space for any open-mic host to advertise, free of charge, on his popular site.  Whether they are hoping to be discovered, reject the corporate music culture or just want to blow off office-induced steam, all the participants flock to open mics with a mutual desire, says Grossman's Sunday-afternoon host Nicola Vaughan. "They all want to be on stage," she says. "They want to see if they can do it for real." Open-mic events provide that opportunity.  In this computer age, producing your own CD is sometimes only a couple clicks away, making endorsements from record labels or securing a touring agent almost inconsequential to attaining a respectable level of success.  That's why open-mic events are "everywhere," says Cristofoli, and also why they're so important – they provide space for artists to feel professional, they nurture the alternative/indie scene and make for great networking.  "You can meet other people you can talk to, share with somebody who is of like mind," Cristofoli says.

But aside from all the benefits of stretching one's wings, getting up there still takes guts. "You're exposing yourself. You're exposing your soul. You're pretty much taking your heart out of your body and saying, `Here, this is my heart.' It can be very unnerving the first time." Jo-Anna Downey, comedian and host Wednesday nights at Spirits Bar and Grill, a weekly comedy show in its 11th year, agrees it's hard to bare all to a crowd of strangers.  But "nobody's judging you," she says. "And for the audience, they didn't pay to get in so they don't care." Despite the humiliation of potentially bombing on stage, would-be comedians – probably the entire class of Humber College comedy students, Downey believes – are clambering to get behind her microphone.  There's such demand to perform (she also has a comedy night on Tuesdays at Eton House Tavern on Danforth Ave.), her first-come first-served policy has a three-month waiting list. She pads her line-up of comedians with pros, who already have a foot in the door, but want to try out new material. Robin Williams and Lewis Black are just two laughable luminaries who have stopped by, on a whim, to perform.  While some nights are "rock star nights" – when Downey regrets not hiking admission to $40 – she admits each show usually has a cringe-worthy moment.

"Some people are terrible," she says. "I mean, it's not Jim Carrey every second person. There's always going to be someone who hasn't learned to write a joke yet.  "But they're up there for five minutes. It's not as if they're there for half an hour." Lucky for those up on stage, spectators like Luke Terran, 30, just don't care.  Beer in hand, he tapped his feet to every performer that took the stage at Grossman's Sunday evening, waiting for his turn on stage.  "It's less about talent and more about soul," he says. "If you're going out there and it makes you happy, then who cares?"

Juno Host Furtado Morphs Into Sexy Star

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Cassandra Szklarski
, Canadian Press

(March 19, 2007) When a pig-tailed
Nelly Furtado burst onto the music scene six years ago, she swept Canada's premier awards gala oozing girl-next-door charm. But when the Victoria-raised singer hosts this year's Juno Awards, she'll be showcasing a very different image – a sexy, grown-up look that has arguably played a key role in her stunning ascension back to the top of the music charts. After lacklustre sales for her sophomore album "Folklore," "Loose" became a near-instant phenomenon when it was released early last year. "Promiscuous," Furtado's call-and-answer smash with Timbaland was a club staple. The video featured Furtado in a midriff-bearing top, grinding her hips on a dance floor. Fans, meanwhile, were buzzing about the singer's new sexpot image. "I liked that she was more the girl-next-door instead of using her hot chick look," a blogger named Jose wrote of Furtado's early image. "Then again, I can't knock on the beats Timbo supplied her with."

Former Furtado make-up artist Jackie Shawn says artists can't miss when they pair up with red-hot hitmaker Timbaland. "He's on everybody's track, I think," jokes Shawn, who helped shape Furtado's style during the "Whoa, Nelly" and "Folklore" albums. "I think when you're having a problem, call Timbaland!" Shawn describes Furtado as a gregarious and bubbly personality when she first worked with her at the MuchMusic Video Awards in 2002. Back then, the singer's laid-back look often leaned towards casual pants and a streamlined hairstyle, pulled-back to reveal her youthful features, she recalls. Now she's delighted to see her former client experiment with wild curly locks on last month's Grammy red carpet, and throws kudos to Furtado for having fun and looking comfortable in her skin. Celebrated choreographer Fatima Robinson recalls a down-to-earth image with a hint of street when she helped Furtado groove through the video for "Turn Off The Light." Since then, Robinson has been called in to help shape Furtado's image for more recent TV appearances such as the MTV Europe Awards, the American Music Awards, and the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno".

It's only natural that Furtado would emerge with a revamped look – especially after becoming a mother – says Robinson. "Everybody changes over the years," says Robinson, whose star-packed resume includes work with Michael Jackson and the Oscar-winning musical Dreamgirls. "She had a child and she grew up. Her and Timbaland went into the studio and it's amazing what happens and what comes out when you go into the studio. That's your time to have fun and create and become different personalities or just have fun. I think that her album was a reflection of her and Timbaland getting in the studio and just really creating a fun and new and dance sound." Furtado's certainly never shied away from playing with her style. She netted early fans with a squeaky clean image and the infectious debut single "I'm Like a Bird" and later hinted at an underlying hip-hop flavour with "Turn Off The Light" and "Powerless." That was followed by a folky, introspective turn on "Folklore" and a celebration of Latin heritage on the soccer anthem "Forca" and more recent "No Hay Igual." There have been fashion missteps along the way, beginning with her triumphant debut at the Junos in 2001 when she netted four trophies but struck a bad chord with a gaudy peasant-style red-and-white floral pants outfit.

These days, the ruthless fashionistas at GoFugYourself.com routinely bash Furtado for her "instabang" hairstyle and "tight cheeks, pursed lips, squinty eyes, tense jaw" when she attempts a closed-mouth smile. Furtado's U.K. concert performances have so far netted favourable reviews for vocal stylings, but the high-heeled prancing has not always gone over well. "Previously a jeans and T-shirt sort of girl, she looked unsure in her glittery frock and heels," Fiona Shepherd writes for teenmusic.com. Celebrity watcher and fan Perez Hilton disagrees, saying he was wowed by Furtado's London show and glammed-up image. "It's more sort of a maturity and a sophistication of her look and style," says Perez, a self-described Furtado fan from "day one". Canadians get their first up-close look at the pop star's remarkable transformation from earthy songstress to glam superstar at a cross-Canada tour that kicks off this week. Furtado heads to the Junos on April 1 with a leading five nominations. The show will be broadcast on CTV.

Montoya Delivers Dose Of Mojo Magic

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Greg Quill

(March 16, 2007) Luck plays a big part in every musician’s story, but California blues guitarist and singer
Coco Montoya’s got a double dose of mojo magic.  After the veteran road warrior pulled over in Hackensack, N.J., for a phone interview one rainy afternoon recently, he sounded a little mystified when he started recounting yet again the powerful coincidences that have led him from obscurity to the top of the heap of contemporary American blues-rock guitar heroes. He’s performing tomorrow night at the Silver Dollar Room on Spadina Ave. “I’d played guitar when I was a kid, but I made it first time around as a drummer,” Montoya said, recalling a chance meeting in the mid-1970s with Texas Telecaster master Albert Collins that led to a one-off fill-in job as Collins’ drummer, then a permanent gig with the late blues king lasting more than five years.  Collins took Montoya under his wing, taught him the tricks of his trademark “ice-hot” guitar style and encouraged his protégé to make his own mark with the instrument. “But when Albert got sick and came off the road, I gave up the drums. .... I gave up music completely and took a day job,” explained Montoya, 55. “I really thought my days as a musician were over.”

Even so, his fingers were restless. Unlike the similarly sinister Jimi Hendrix, southpaw Montoya never saw much sense in restringing his instrument - consequently, he plays the guitar upside down, with the light, soloing strings on top - the former drummer eventually bought a guitar “for my own enjoyment and to jam around with on weekends.  “It was always a secondary instrument to me, but I guess the lessons Albert had taught me started to kick in.” Five years into his retirement, Motoya was spotted at his neighbourhood bar on one of those weekend jams by none other than British blues patriarch John Mayall. That’s when the mojo started working its magic again. “Mayall just wandered in, and when I saw him in the crowd, I offered a bit of a tribute - I played one of his songs (‘All Your Love I Miss Loving’) and, apparently, he was impressed. He asked for a board mix, and left.” A few weeks later, Montoya got a call from Mayall, mentor to British guitar geniuses Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor, among others, asking him to join a new incarnation of The Bluesbreakers. “I asked myself, ‘Do I want to make a living doing what Clapton does?’ Hell, yes. Turning him down never crossed my mind.”

For 10 years Montoya worked under Mayall’s watchful eye, earning a reputation as a lucid, energetic virtuoso who attacks his instrument with a wild, almost anarchistic glee. That sound has graced several Montoya albums since he struck out on his own in the mid-1990s, but never with the gutsy presence evident on his new CD, Dirty Deal, produced by Paul Barrere, pianist and arranger with the legendary California band Little Feat. Feat alumni Kenny Gradney, Richie Hayward and Bill Payne also contributed to the mostly live-off-the floor sessions. “John Mayall was a great teacher,” Montoya said. “He took me all over the world and taught me how a band should be run. Everything he does as a musician is useful to me. He’s very precise .... runs a very tight ship. But the most important lesson I learned from him is that the gig comes first. Nothing gets in the way of the performance.” Good fortune and stellar mentors notwithstanding, Montoya comes across as a humble servant of the blues muse, happy enough to have a gig at the end of every day’s journey and unperturbed by the sudden abundance of guitar-slinging whippersnappers in the blues-rock pool. “Age never gets to me,” he said. “I’m glad for the success of others. They’re all great players, and they deserve what they have. I can’t say that things are radically different for me now than when I started out. At my age, and playing what I play, I’m never going to hit it big on MTV or fill Madison Square Garden.  “I’m doing what I’ve always done. The road is hard, but I figure I get paid for travelling, for the bad food and the bad hotels. The music I do for the love of playing, I do it for me.  “With all the good things that have come to me by accident, I can’t complain. Albert and John both took a leap of faith. One gave me music, and one brought me back.  “You gotta love it.”

Musical Visionary On First Tour Since Taking Political Office In Brazil

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Greg Quill

(March 16, 2007)  Does holding down a day gig ruin a good musician? In the case of Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, rights activist, onetime exile, former political prisoner – and for the last four years his nation's culture minister – the answer is a resounding no.
Gil is living proof of the connection between deeply held political convictions and the power of song.  Last night at Massey Hall, he celebrated his 65th year by performing a sprightly, bossa nova-flavoured version of the Beatles' ode to retirement bliss, "When I'm Sixty-Four" – a tribute to his 93-year-old mother, he explained in one of very few English-language exchanges with the packed, largely Brazilian and Portuguese audience. His first North American tour since taking office kicked off last night in Toronto, and Gil, with just a gut-string guitar and a couple of microphones, demonstrated that no rust had grown on his magic hands despite such a long absence from the stage (the only concession he asked for when accepting his portfolio was to be allowed to continue to perform).

Those hands worked their way for two hours through complex and perfectly synthesized amalgamations of Brazilian dance music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazz, rock and folk, sprinkled with hints of 1960s and '70s pop ("Penny Lane" popped up surprisingly in a whistled coda to one of his sambas).  In some 30 songs, Gil produced an astonishing variety of textures, tempos and harmonic thrills by alternately plucking, double-thumbing, strumming flamenco-style and laying into the strings on occasion with a plectrum. His voice was sometimes little more than a sweet whisper, at others a mighty, soaring holler or a soulful, guttural moan.  He whistled and tooted, shouted and yelped, hummed, and shifted flawlessly into falsetto cascades and back to a full-lunged vocal attack. Language aside, no two songs sounded as if they were subject to the same generic influences.  In a crisp white shirt and slacks, sneakers but no socks, and with his trademark dreads locked in a ponytail, Gil looked every inch a more mellow version of the proud rebel he used to be. He was the co-founder with compatriot composers Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa of the immensely popular all-inclusive Tropicalia music movement in the late 1960s. Its protest songs angered the country's military dictatorship and forced the musical visionaries into exile in England and Europe after a year in jail. And Gil proved last night that what we know now to be world music probably began with him.

The adoration heaped on him time and again in this first of a dozen scheduled North American concerts attested not just to Gil's musical accomplishments – 30-odd albums in 40 years and sales in the millions (he made appearance at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., this week) – but more importantly to his status as one of the cultural icons of his age.  In North America, we know little of his supreme importance in Brazil. A national hero there, and a powerful reminder to Latin American expatriates here of the richness and warmth of the music he fostered all those years ago, Gil bathed in their applause, and served up a more generous helping of himself than should be expected of any solo artist his age.  That generosity was never more evident than in the pre-encore closer, a hypnotic fusion of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" and "Don't Worry." Drifting in and out of a loose, loping reggae feel, into bossa nova and calypso, and over to gospel, the song became a kind of international humanist anthem, a healing hymn, a song of all-encompassing hope, joy and sympathy. After a long standing ovation, Gil reappeared looking triumphant and stood at the front of the stage, victoriously embracing the "one love" he said he felt from the crowd. He then thanked our city, our government, the promoters of his tour – even a U.S. air carrier – for making his concert comeback possible.  That part was pure politics.

Keeping The Soul Intact

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine

(Mar. 18, 2007) If you've ever wondered why so many albums by jazz singers these days seem flat and lifeless,
Holly Cole would be happy to point you in the direction of the likely culprit: Computers. How so? "Because with computers," she says, "you can refine things so much that they have completely lost their soul, and people are doing that left, right and centre." It's not as if Cole is against computers or digital recording software. Truth is, she uses it herself in her home studio, and admits that being able to lay down ideas on her own made it easier to help arrange the songs that went into Holly Cole, her 10th and latest studio album. But as she sips white wine in a small Peruvian restaurant near her home in Toronto, she complains that the editing potential of programs such as Pro Tools lure people into "fixing" things that really weren't broken in the first place.

"It's like, 'Okay, now I want to make it cleaner and cleaner, and more in tune and more in tune, and more in time and more in time' -- and then you've lost the soul," she says. "It's a mistake you can easily make, innocently." Fortunately, it's not a mistake made on Holly Cole. Her vocals weren't digitally pasted into place or edited into clock-perfect time; indeed, her reading of the Henry Mancini tune Charade finds her pushing ahead of the beat on some phrases, and lagging behind with others. It's nothing like the click-track perfection of modern pop singing, but that's precisely the point. Cole's vocal manipulates time in order to underscore the words' fit with the melody, and instead of undercutting the pulse, her slightly rubato approach enhances the hard-driving swing of the rhythm arrangement. As such, her performance is commanding without really dominating the sound. "Because of the nature of the way people hear music, and because I'm singing words and stuff, the voice is going to be the thing people focus on," she says. "But I think it's less than usual in this case. I feel like I'm part of the band." Which, in effect, she was, insofar as the studio set-up was concerned. "All the horns, the whole rhythm section, everybody was in the same room," she says. Although Cole herself was isolated in a vocal booth, so the sound of the instruments wouldn't "bleed" into the vocal microphone, the horns were miked as an ensemble, which meant the parts couldn't be isolated and individually corrected.

"When you have players of the calibre on this record, it's not as big a risk," Cole says. "But the thing is, when people know that they can't fix anything, they play differently." She laughs. "You know what I mean?" In addition to keeping the players on their toes, having everyone in the same room added a sense of intimacy and cohesion to the sessions. Most of what went on to Holly Cole are first takes, and while the singer admits that she would sometimes do additional takes to improve the vocal, invariably the first pass ended up sounding the most soulful. Then there are the arrangements. Before the recording sessions, Cole sketched out her ideas at home, and the arrangers -- mostly pianist Gil Goldstein -- worked from that. Some of her ideas are strikingly original, like flipping the gender of the feline in the Bent Fabric oldie Alley Cat, or recasting the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic Waters of March in 6/8 time. "Most versions are quite fast, so the words kind of fly by," she says of the Jobim tune. "Which works, because the song is essentially a list. But it's an interesting list. Some of the images are really simple: 'The foot, the ground.' But then, some of the images are really poetic. Doing it a bit slower, in six, made the groove really interesting, and left room so you could think about the words, and get your visual image without the thing just flying by." Of course, she adds, her sense of poetry -- she especially loves Jobim's couplet, "A truckload of bricks/In the soft morning light" -- may not be the same as the listener's. But that's just the way it is when it comes to interpreting songs.

"I think a lot of people don't know what I think a song is about, even after listening to it," she says. "And this is fine with me, actually. I kind of like it, even. But it's my way of finding something in a song that I am compelled by, that motivates me to interpret it in a certain way. It may be that, in certain occasions, people understand exactly where I'm coming from, and in other instances they don't at all. "But it doesn't matter, because it's not really that much about what I think," she adds. "I think hearing the vulnerability in somebody makes you feel vulnerable yourself. You witness the vulnerability of the singer, and then it strikes you in such a way that you find what is important to you. Which in most cases will be a completely different thing."

All This Jazz

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

(March 18, 2007) In four days, Toronto's jazz fortunes are set to rise with the debut of a swank downtown club.  The partnership between a renowned jazz impresario and one of the city's entertainment magnates makes Live @ Courthouse the most significant development on the local scene since the closures of the Montreal Bistro and Top O' the Senator jazz club in the last two years. None of the efforts launched in the wake of those venerable entities has been able to fill the void, offering five nights a week shows in a musician-friendly facility spacious enough to accommodate big bands and sophisticated enough to host multiple-night runs by out of town heavyweights. Live @ Courthouse, which opens to the public on Thursday, promises to be all of that. But a few days ago, it was still a figment of co-owner Pat Taylor's imagination. Located on the second and third floors of a historic building at 57 Adelaide St. E., the place was a construction zone: scaffolding in the centre, wires dangling from the ceiling, furniture stacked in the back.  It didn't look like it would be ready this month, never mind in time for Tuesday's media launch. "By hook or by crook," said Taylor, perched on the edge of the custom-built, but as-yet-unvarnished oak stage. The only sign that this was jazz's great hope was the gleaming grand piano behind him. But that, he assured, is where it all begins. "This stage and that piano are the focus," he explained.  "If we do these right, it makes everything else easy for us."

That's why even with major details outstanding – sound system, flooring, kitchen – Taylor recruited half a dozen of the city's finest pianists to test the $58,000 instrument as an A-list technician stood by. "It's a sweet one!' declared the final player Joe Sealy, after running through a 15-minute medley that ended with "Blue Skies." But Taylor didn't hear. He was on the phone. Again. It was another local player angling for a gig. Taylor promised to call him back. He'd booked two others in the last hour. "There's a long line of people who want to work here," he said. "But I tell them to honour their dates at Opal, at The Rex, at Dominion, because this room is meant to complement the scene, not take anything from any place else. Not everyone has to work here the first two months." The inaugural weekend features saxophonists Pat LaBarbera, Alex Dean and Jim Galloway in a tribute to the Bistro and Senator. The following week, Grammy-nominated New York songstress Roberta Gambarini will cap a line-up of divas. That musicians are jostling to perform at Courthouse before it even opens reflects the city's current dearth of venues. "There aren't a lot of clubs now and there are so many great bands, everyone just wants to play," said saxist Dean who expressed confidence in Taylor, due to his role as executive director of the Toronto Jazz Festival for the last 20 years.

"Because it's Pat you can relax a little and concentrate on the music," said the bandleader who'll be drawing from his Blue Note Records songbook for Friday's appearance with his quartet. "He has a lot of connections and experience with promotion, because of his work with the festival. He's been in this business long enough. If anyone can make it work, he can." That's what co-owner Nick Di Donato is counting on. As president of Liberty Group Entertainment, he oversees a roster of happening spots, including Rosewater Supper Club and Phoenix Concert Theatre.  In 1997, the company acquired the landmark Adelaide St. E. building that housed a courthouse until 1899 and was later home to the exclusive Arts & Letters Club.  The site hosted private events and weekend dance parties until Di Donato approached Taylor with the idea for a jazz club. "It's a niche market that we thought we could capture if we had the right people involved," he said.  "We knew we had to partner with someone who understands the industry. "It's Pat's baby in terms of the jazz scene, booking the acts ... we're the operators who will make it financially viable." Since plans were announced in January, Taylor has been thinking about the bottom line too. He estimates that they have poured half a million dollars into the club so far. "It's got to make money," he said. "I told my wife it would." Cover charges will range from $10 during the week, to $30 for touring artists like Gambarini, who is booked March 29-31.  "We're not looking to be full every night," said Taylor who has budgeted to break-even at 68 per cent capacity.

They're certain to sell out during the June jazz festival for which he has already programmed a Courthouse show on each of the 10 nights. Anne Page can't wait for it to open. She walks around the main floor with a clipboard, making notes for a fundraiser she has booked there in April. The ardent jazz lover said she's been hanging out at "odd little restaurants" since the demise of the Bistro. "I've missed it terribly," she said. "There's a bad, bad need for this. I hope more clubs open. This should just be the start of things.  "This is a terrific space and the sightlines are great." Fact is, even in its nascence, Courthouse is majestic, with 25-foot ceilings, ornate light fixtures and iron-laced balconies. When it comes together, there'll be cozy two-person seating for 150, burgundy velour drapery to offset eggshell-hued walls, framed photographs of legendary musicians from Taylor's private collection and five video screens. Though he's visited jazz clubs all over North America, Taylor's design was primarily inspired by a film – Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues. "It gave me a feel for ambience and lighting levels," he said of the 1990 flick. "It's a Hollywood movie, but it depicted some cool-looking jazz clubs. I took ideas for cabaret-style seating with candles and wall washes so that we can change the lighting to suit the acts." The kitchen will serve up light fare, such as frites and springrolls, because "the more people can use chopsticks and fingers, the better off we are - without clinking cutlery," said Taylor. That raises a crucial question for jazz aficionados: Will the club have a quiet policy that bans speaking during sets? "We only ask for respect for the musicians," said Taylor. "If anyone wants to chat, the (second level) Musicians' Lounge is the place to do that, so they won't disturb patrons closer to the stage."

So critical is sound, that just hours before this interview he decided to return the already installed audio system and order an innovative, twice-as-expensive German model he'd previously tested. "I'd gone for second best and it was underwhelming," he explained.  "We have one chance to do it right, so I bit the bullet. "I want this to be the right environment for musicians. If they're satisfied, it will be the right environment for patrons." His BlackBerry buzzes non-stop, but Taylor, 56, doesn't seem stressed, even though neither the kitchen, nor the lighting have arrived. "We'll be working `round the clock over the weekend," he said flatly. "This is showbiz, we'll get it done." "He's always cool and confident," said Taylor's son Morgan, 28, who was nearby giving a hand.  He has worked at the jazz fest with his dad since Grade 9, moving from busboy to bartender to security, and said "I've never really seen him be nervous. "This is something he's always wanted. He knows the bar business as well as he knows music. Everytime he comes back from New York all he talks about is opening a jazz club." However, Taylor asserted, "there's nothing in New York like this club," despite his admiration for the upscale Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center and its picture windows overlooking Central Park. "Well, that skyline's not to be in this town, but Dizzy's is very contemporary. We've kept the 18th-century feel. "I like to think of the judges who came here at the turn of century and sat back with a brandy discussing law.  "At some point they probably talked about music: `What do you make of this Jelly Roll Morton fellow and that boogie woogie music?' "Now this room is for musicians, and the judges have to pay."  For reservations and information call (416) 214-9379, or visit http://www.liveatcourthouse.com, scheduled to be up and running tomorrow.

Indie Industry Thriving

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(March 16, 2007) AUSTIN, TEX.–Some quarters of the music industry would have you believe it's in trouble, but at
Southwest 2007 it's doing just fine, thanks – just with little regard for traditional artistic or business models. The old order changeth, long live the new. With some 1,500 bands in town and more international industry folk and media than ever before pursuing the "next" in Austin, it's clear that popular music itself hasn't been victimized by the Internet's erosion of the record-label establishment. Far from it. Shrinking CD sales and major-label downsizing only tell one side of the story. The other side is that a lot of independent labels, touring acts and their attendant hangers-on seem to be doing very well on a scale smaller than that to which the business might be accustomed, but with a reach extending further than previously thought possible. MySpace, YouTube and iPod have established the young public's voracious, boundary-smashing appetite for whatever cool stuff it can get its hands on.  The realization hit this observer during the early hours of SXSW. First, there was keynote speaker Pete Townsend offering this advice to young bands that might court a major label: "Don't f--k with it. Don't go there. Don't even bother with it." This at the same conference where David Byrne is offering a seminar called "Record Labels: Who Needs Them?"

Second, there was a crowd going ballistic for the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" at La Zona Rosa, a tune that was never really a hit in the traditional, Billboard-chart sense, but which has nevertheless been elevated to "anthem" among the hundreds of thousands "in the know" around the planet who have embraced it.  The band can sell out 2,500-capacity venues despite having released two major-label records widely considered commercial underachievers. Most of the "buzz" acts filling rooms here – the Pipettes, Tokyo Police Club, Pelican, Amy Winehouse – dwell in a similar realm of "obscure notoriety."  The wolves are already at the door, of course. You can't walk 10 feet in this town without someone handing you a flyer from some promotional operation or "online label" claiming it has a magic formula for making money off MySpace. Even the Energizer Bunny was out on the streets. Wednesday's Rapture/Pipettes showcase at La Zona Rosa was sponsored by Toyota. The corporations are abandoning the corporations. What happens next is anyone's guess.

A Lesson In Loving Jazz

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Jazz Reporter

(March 16, 2007) School was in session at Massey Hall on Wednesday night, when the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra rolled into town. Billed as The Songs We Love, the show consisted of tunes that anchor the Great American Songbook, such as "Tea for Two" and "My Favourite Things." "These are all songs that you know ... we're going to play them so well up here, we're going to make you love them again," declared
Wynton Marsalis as the band launched into "On the Sunny Side of the Street."  With the trumpet ace steering from the back row, the tight 15-man ensemble – potent horns, precisely arranged, and a spirited rhythm section – succeeded by delivering two exciting sets of music.  Although this was just the second date of their 13-city tour, the group plays constantly at their eponymous $128 million headquarters in Manhattan. And despite the egalitarian attire – grey suits, white shirts and collegiate ties – the stars shone early.  Trumpeter Marcus Printup exploded with such vigour and clarity during his "Blue Skies" solo that it seemed as if he were continuing where he'd left off when he got the spotlight again a few songs later in "A Night in Tunisia."

Baritone saxist Joe Temperley's wistful rendering of "My Funny Valentine" – buoyed by the steady swell of his bandmates – drew the most applause. The leader mostly lay back but showcased his own virtuosic technique and sophisticated ideas during "Stardust," which closed the first set. Noted jazz advocate Marsalis didn't just announce song titles, he took the opportunity to inform. Thus, the arrangement of "Fascinating Rhythm," courtesy of Fletcher Henderson and Benny Goodman, was an example of the desegregating of jazz bands and "Tea for Two" allowed a subtle jab at the media, because arranger Don Redmond "was college-educated, so he wasn't written about much." The mostly over-40 capacity crowd would've been familiar with the historical references, but they still responded to Marsalis's lighthearted lessons. However, it was not what was said but what was played that made the greatest impact on the night's younger attendees. "I wasn't aware the baritone sax could be played like that – so soulfully," said 16-year-old trombone player Tony Paxton. He was one of 60 music students who received tickets and got to meet Marsalis through Massey Hall's arts outreach program called Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra . Trumpet player Paul Lee, 17, said Marsalis's playing made him "speechless."  "I was planning not to practise this week, because we're on March Break, but this made me change my mind."

Notorious B.I.G. 'Great' Again On The Billboard 200

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Katie Hasty, N.Y.

(March 14, 2007) For the first time since November, five of the top 10 albums on
The Billboard 200 this week are debuts. The strongest of these, the late Notorious B.I.G.'s "Greatest Hits," bows at No. 1, selling 99,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The Bad Boy release is the rapper's third chart-topper, his second posthumously, and features two previously unreleased tracks, "Running Your Mouth" and "Want That Old Thing Back." The rapper, born Christopher Wallace, was murdered 10 years ago almost to the date, on March 9, 1997.  Montreal-based rock troupe Arcade Fire scores its best charting and sales week ever with the No. 2 bow of sophomore Merge set "Neon Bible." Moving 92,000, the set trumps the No. 131 peak of the seven-piece's 2004 debut, "Funeral." Thirty percent of the new album's sales were fuelled by sales via digital retailers. "Neon Bible" also crowns the Top Independent Albums and Top Rock Albums tallies.  After leading the big chart last week, Daughtry's self-titled RCA debut slips to No. 3 with a 9% sales dip at 82,000 copies. Akon's "Konvicted" (SRC/Universal) drops 3-4 with 76,000, a 3% sales boost.  Another "Greatest Hits" bows in the top tier this week, as country crooner Gary Allan's MCA Nashville set moves 70,000 at No. 5. It's the artist's second-best charting album (2005's "Tough All Over" peaked at No. 3) and his second set at the summit on the Top Country Albums chart.

Relient K's "Five Score and Seven Years Ago" (Gotee/Capitol) debuts at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 with 64,000, a high-water mark in both respects for the five-piece. The band's last album, "MMHMM," debuted and peaked at No. 15 on the big chart in 2004 with 51,000.  Norah Jones' "Not Too Late" (Blue Note) falls 2-7 with 59,000 (-19%) while Fall Out Boy's "Infinity on High" (Island) descends 4-8 with 58,000 (-14%).  Korn earns its seventh top 10 hit with "MTV Unplugged," which enters at No. 9 with 51,000. The hard rock group has previously led the chart with 1998's "Follow the Leader" and 1999's "Issues," while its last effort (2005's "See You on the Other Side") bowed at No. 3. Robin Thicke's Interscope album "The Evolution of Robin Thicke" rounds out the top tier, slipping 5-10 with 47,000 (-17%).  Sevendust's "Alpha," released via the band's own Seven Bros. imprint, starts at No. 14 with 42,000, the rock band's eighth set on the chart. "Alpha" is the follow-up to 2005's "Home," which debuted and peaked at No. 20.  Other big debuts this week include Finger Eleven's "Them Vs. You Vs. Me" (Wind-Up, No. 31, 19,000), Air's "Pocket Symphony" (Astralwerks, No. 40, 17,000) and Chimaira's "Resurrection" (Ferret, No. 42, 16,000), all of which are charting bests for those bands.  In a second week straight where no album cracks 100,000 copies, album sales are up 2% from last week's total at 8.66 million units and down 19% compared to the same week last year. Overall album sales for the year are down 16.4% from last year at 90.7 million units.

The Tragically Hip Have Canada’s Love And Just A Bit Of Austin’s Attention

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner, Austin, Texas

(March 18, 2007) Unnecessarily so, I might add. The
Tragically Hip front man has, in this writer’s very limited experience, always come across as a thoroughly decent, thoughtful cat and a most un-rock-star-like rock star – not to mention the sort of bona fide music fan who doesn’t just name-check Eric’s Trip in his tunes when it’s cool to do so, but who seeks out that band’s Julie Doiron as his own bassist years later when it’s time to do his own solo thing. He’s in the presence of a fan on this sunny Austin afternoon, although I’m not sure that he believes it.  There’s been some behind-the-scenes fretting on the record-label front that the Star only wants to talk to Downie and the Hip at the South by Southwest festival — where the beloved Kingston quintet played venerable downtown concert hall Antone’s last night to 1,200 or so reverent fans — so it can rehash the 15-year-old tale of how the Hip’s “conquering rock heroes” status at home has never translated abroad. Downie is quick, too, to bring up the fact that I’d recently mentioned his band in the same sentence as Our Lady Peace in a Canadian Music Week piece about changing times in the domestic music industry; even though the connection wasn’t made disparagingly, I instantly feel guilty. I get the sense he thinks I’m coming at him from some loaded, “indier-than-thou” perspective that would negate the Hip’s crucial, bricklaying role in giving Canada a homegrown music scene of which it can be proud. A national scene that ranks among the most admired and envied on air at SXSW 2007, if we’re to believe the smoke being blown up our country’s collective arse by innumerable insiders and outside observers here in Austin.

“Any rock ’n’ roller worth his salt would want none of any of that,” says Downie. “To be honest, I think affiliation is anathema — if you’re a rock `n’ roller, you’re a lone wolf.” So, no, the Hip isn’t part of the Arcade Fire/Broken Social Scene/Metric/etc. mafia And unlike fellow elder-statesmen-in-Austin Sloan — who seem to be playing every hour on the hour this weekend (“Ripley’s has been notified,” guitarist Chris Murphy quipped yesterday — the Tragically Hip feels slightly removed from the Golden Dogs, the Hylozoists, Inward Eye and the countless other Canadian indie acts vying for attention down here, because the band has enjoyed such a long run at the forefront of our national consciousness. And while the fact that several consecutive U.S. labels have consistently failed to turn a band with such glaringly obvious popular appeal above the 49th parallel into even
a minor sensation in the States has become an overstated part of Canadian popular mythology, it’s still a baffling fact. The Tragically Hip might be a “major-label” band in Canada, but the Hip is the sole “industry” force pushing its new disc, World Container — released in the States just a week and a half ago — south of the border.  “We’re essentially an indie act down here. We’re goin’ it alone, so it makes total sense for us to be here,” says Downie, eager to point out that the band has no complaints about the way it has been handled for years by Universal Music in Canada. “Within the Universal deal, we’ve always felt like an independent act. We’ve never been told what to do. We’ve used their resources to our own design.”

In any case, it’s weird that the Hip, like Sloan, is on a level playing field with pretty much every other act at SXSW. It also makes you appreciate what we take for granted in Canada when you see Sloan or the Hip play a relatively intimate club show in Texas — not because of the loudmouthed Canadians who turn out in droves to wave the flag and, I’m sure, irritate the hell out their favourite bands, but because the
non-Canadian fans there are people who’ve clearly sought the bands out through sheer love of their music. The tunes have reached them honestly, free of hype and radio/video saturation.  “Not to be immodest, (1992’s) Fully Completely just went diamond,” says Downie. “I’m proud of that. I don’t usually care about those things, but I was really proud of that because it took so long. It means people are still plugging into it and buying it over time. That’s our career, and it’s really uncharted ..... “There are certain places where we arrive to a bit of acclaim, if certainly not to screaming girls at JFK (airport). At this point, we’ve had not one shred of national-profile-enhancing anything. We’ve played on Saturday Night Live and got not even a Rolling Stone review. Nothing. Which I’m not lamenting, really, but it gives you an idea of how we’ve been doing it, which is 50 people at a time — literally. We played in Dallas last night to 1,000 people, but I can distinctly remember playing Dallas to 45.”

World Container’s lead single, “In View,” has won enough enthusiasm that Downie is cautiously optimistic that things are once again happening in the U.S..  “We haven’t had that one song,” says Downie. “I think Randy Bachman said that about us once. My tight-lipped response to a radio interviewer in New York once who told me `Randy Bachman says the reason you’re not big down here is you never wrote a hit’ was — after I thought `F--- you, Randy Bachman’ under my breath — that he’s probably right. I’m not saying we’ve done that now, but when I hear `In View’ down here, I think that song is the thing that’s sort of opening the door a little bit. Not our sparkling personalities, not our Canadian-ness, not any quirk or the fact that Paul (guitarist Paul Langlois) has 25 cats.” It’d be great if they tasted just a shred of the adulation they’ve had at home, in the U.S., England, anywhere. But what would top that would be neither the Canadian press nor the Tragically Hip having to worry about the Tragically Hip’s fortunes anywhere but Canada — because we like them and, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that the band sells records to anyone but its fans.

It would be nice, too, to tell Gord Downie you’re gonna go see his band and not get a disbelieving brush-off.

“What? You’re not going to the Stooges like everybody else?”

“No, I haven’t seen you guys in a club in a long time. I actually really wanna come tonight.”

 “Well, even if you don’t, Ben, thanks for doing this.”

Damn you, Tragically Hip. Believe it when we say we love you.

Jamrock Reggae Festival Celebrates 10 Years

Source: Ms. Raine Martin, msrainemedia@gmail.com

(March 19, 2007) Bronx, NY -- On June 3rd, The
JAMROCK Reggae Festival, formerly known as the Westchester Reggae Fest, presented by Landrover Larchmont, celebrates 10 years as the Tri-state's principal music event.  The lead stage show of New York's lively summer concert season presents the "Past, Present, and Future," featuring Reggae giants from yesterday, today, as well as the future stars of tomorrow at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York. With a decade-long track record of incident-free, sold-out concerts, the JAMROCK Reggae Fest returns to the Westchester County Center's 6,000 seat-arena, to bring in it's 10th Anniversary with 2007 Grammy nominee Buju Banton, Billboard-chart topping artist and Grammy award winner Shaggy, the 'Fireman' Capleton, Roots Reggae's fearless warrior Richie Spice, and Reggae icon Richie Stephens, whose "Come to Jamaica" anthem has been adopted by the Jamaica Tourist Board in connection with World Cup Cricket promotions in Jamaica. Other entertainers include highly acclaimed newcomers Etana and Taurus Riley, with a host of others. "Ten years ago, people were constantly calling in to Link Up Radio 93.5FM WVIP in New York, to complain about the Reggae concerts being held in New York," noted JAMROCK Magazine publisher and Link Up Media President David "Squeeze" Annakie. "Seeing the void in good concerts, and a constant pressure from the listeners, potential sponsors and people from all different ethnic backgrounds and capacities, Link Up Media Inc. took that bold step to bring a Reggae show that was a step above all the others; the rest is history. The credit goes to the concert goers for believing in us." In connection with Link Up Media's PROJECT BLINK, the former Westchester Reggae Fest has made the BIG LINK to JAMROCK Magazine, Link Up Media's premier lifestyle publication for Caribbean-Americans. Celebrating Link Up Media's 10 year growth and success with new ventures and business mergers, and expanded radio and TV programming-all with a focus on Caribbean Communities across the USA-PROJECT BLINK brings about bold improvements and brand new features, not to mention continued surprise performances to the JAMROCK Reggae Fest.

"Every year we have had surprises; we've had Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Olivia and many more, we have always had something extra special, and this year we will not disappoint," states Squeeze. The JAMROCK Reggae Fest, presented by Landrover Larchmont, will be held on Sunday, June 3rd at 6pm in the Westchester County Center, 198 Central Ave White Plains NY. Tickets are on sale now at the Westchester County Center Box Office, VP Records Retail Stores in Queens and Brooklyn, Super Power Records in Brooklyn, Moodies Records in the Bronx, and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets can be purchased online at www.reggaefest.com, and www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $52, $82, and $102.  For more information call the box office 914-995-4050 or Link Up Media at 718-325-5555.

JAMROCK Magazine is a New York-based publication distributed bimonthly across the U.S. and the Caribbean. In keeping with our vision "ONE MUSIC ONE CULTURE ONE LOVE," our goal is to bring readers the music, culture and lifestyle of ALL Caribbean countries in ONE magazine.  JAMROCK Magazine is a subsidiary of Link Up Media, a New York-based media company that services the Caribbean Diaspora. JAMROCK is owned and operated by President/CEO David Annakie. For more information, visit www.jamrockmagazine.com

Founded in 1996 by President-CEO David "Squeeze" Annakie, Link Up Media, Inc. is multimedia firm providing content and culture for the Tri-state's 2 million+ Caribbean-American consumers. Link Up Media is presently the largest Caribbean-owned media company, comprised of Link Up Radio 93.5FM WVIP, Winners Circle Radio (with veteran Conroy Allison formerly of WLIB NY) the Caribbean Link weekly newspaper, JAMROCK Magazine, PLUSH TV, JAMROCK Reggae Fest and the Vintage Reggae Fest. The organization recently formed a major alliance with Philip Benn, the president of the Streets of New York, the strongest distribution and promotional company in the New York area. For more information, log onto www.linkupmedia.com.

Macy Gray Single Has 'Big' First Week

Source: Christine Wolff, Jessica Cohen, Christine.wolff@umusic.com, jessica@jc-pr.com

(March 19, 2007) Santa Monica, California - -  The woman with the most distinctive voice in music is back with a dynamic new effort that spotlights her classic pipes in a variety of soulful and stylistic settings.   On March 27th
Macy Gray will release her long awaited new album "BIG" on the will.i.am music group/Geffen Records label.   Leading up to the album's release Macy is making waves on the air as the first single "Shoo Be Doo" went for adds at Urban AC radio on February 26th and was the #1 most added track at that format debuting at #36 on its chart.  This week the track jumps up 12 spots to #24.  Key station adds include WBLS in New York, WHUR in Washington DC and WSRB in Chicago and  Another track from the album, "Finally Made Me Happy," was put up on iTunes last week and sold over 7,000 downloads in just one week.  Tune in to see Macy perform "Finally Made Me Happy" on the Late Show with David Letterman on March 27th and on The View March 28th.  Working with a number of producers, including will.i.am, Ron Fair, Justin Timberlake and newcomers Jared and Whitey, "BIG" was mostly recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles and features guest artists Fergie, Natalie Cole, Justin Timberlake and will.i.am.

Macy Gray first burst onto the music scene in 1999 with her debut release "On How Life Is" and the massive hit single "I Try."  The album went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide and Macy won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.  In addition to making music Macy finds time to give back to her community. She founded the M. Gray Music Academy in North Hollywood, California which provides affordable after-school and weekend music classes for the youth in the area.   Always one to embrace fashion, Macy has a women's clothing line, The Natalie Hinds Collection by Macy Gray, and will soon launch a new line for the curvy girls called HUMPS.  Macy has a lucrative acting career having appeared in over half a dozen movies and most recently the Emmy-nominated HBO movie "Lackawanna Blues." 

www.macygray.com - www.geffen.com

Ne-Yo Gets Fans In The ‘Know’

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

(March 19, 2007) *Singer/songwriter
Ne-Yo has got to be one of the hardest working men in show business.  The artist is putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to his hit debut release “In My Own Words,” skimming scripts, continuing to write hit songs for other artists, and has been recruited to help remake a star.  His first album hit the music waves just about a year ago, and now he’s prepped for a sophomore set titled “Know Me,” which reveals more about him than the first go-round. “I think that with ‘In My Own Words’, people got to know my  songwriting ability; they got to know my music,” the singer explained. “But nobody really got to know me. People have a general idea of who they think I am, but they didn’t get to know me. I think with this one, I dove deeper into my personality and into my personal life. I want people to listen to this and know who I am.”

Ne-Yo told EUR’s Lee Bailey that his goal is to connect with fans the way Mary J. Blige does; how listeners find themselves in tune with the artist in addition to loving the artist’s tunes. “I put out music based on what’s going on with me at the time, but I hope a person didn’t feel they knew who I was listening to [‘In  My Own Words’]. If they did, they would think that I am a very sad, very depressed, very sexually addicted type of individual – and that’s not me at all. I have a fun-loving element and I touched on that on this new album, I also touched on my serious side and my sexual side. I am letting people into my mind bit by bit.”  Coming into his world on the new disc, he makes stops in the worlds of a few famous artists, too. The first single off the disc, “All Because of You” has a rather familiar vibe, something in the vein of the King of Pop. Ne-Yo confessed that that’s no coincidence. “Throughout this album I kind of did odes to the people responsible for what it is I do,” he said. “‘Because of You’ just happens to be my ode to Michael Jackson. There’s a song called ‘Angel’ and another called ‘Addicted’, and these songs sound a lot like something Prince might have done.”

He explained that a number of tracks have familiar rhythms and stylings of some of the artists he admires that have inspired him and shaped his sound. And speaking of his sound, the young artist commented on the fact that, as tracks from his new disc are reminiscent of a few superstars, one superstar’s song – Lionel Richie’s “I Call it Love” – sounds a lot like something out of his camp.  “I know he didn’t write the song,” he said of Richie, “but with Lionel Richie, I took that as a compliment. I know Lionel’s history. I know how many ridiculously timeless hits he’s responsible for. And for him to come out and do a song that sounds like something that I would’ve done – there’s no greater compliment.” In addition to prepping the album, Ne-Yo has tested the thespian waters. He played a part in the hit flick “Stomp the Yard” and said that though he’s definitely been bit by the acting bug, he hardly considers himself a real actor. “I’ve only done one movie and it’s not like it was a huge stretch for me,” he confessed. “The character I played is very close to my personality. So, until I do something that’s completely out of our personal box, then I can't call myself a thespian.”

He is looking through a handful of scripts, though, in hopes of honing his acting skills, he said. “I definitely have a whole new respect for [acting], there is so much that goes into it. It definitely takes a certain amount of skill. It makes me want to learn more about it and test myself to see how good I can get at it.” With the new album set in the chamber, and scripts awaiting review, Ne-Yo’s work isn’t done. The songwriter has a lot of projects lined up. He is coming to the aid of Clive Davis to do work on the Whitney Houston come back project. Plus, Davis has led him to do some work on the Jennifer Hudson disc. And intertwined with conversations with Clive, Ne-Yo’s been chatting with Celine Dion about sending something her way. And finally, he’s lined up a few things to help Britney Spears come back to the world, though he’s mentioned that she missed the recording sessions. Still, he hasn’t much to complain about. “It’s a good thing; blessings all around,” he said. “I look back at everything that happened in 2006 and all you can call it is a blessings.” “Know Me” on Def Jam Recordings, hits stores April 24th. For more on the new disc, visit DefJam.com or his official fan club website at www.neyoworld.com.

Kimberley Locke: Good 'Change'

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Mar. 16, 2007) New-school renaissance woman
Kimberley Locke is giving the recording thing another go. The curvy 'American Idol' season two finalists is planning to release her sophomore opus, titled 'Based on a True Story,' on May 1. This new music follows a very impressive run as celebrity spokesperson, media personality and newly crowned restaurateur. The Tennessee native is still signed to the Warner Music Group associated country music label, Curb Records, but says the new project will have more of an R&B feel. "It's more pop, R&B, I think," Locke told The BV Newswire during lunch at New York's swanky Red Eye Grill yesterday. "[The first single] 'Change' is along the lines of '8th World Wonder' but we got some great R&B songs on the album which I am really proud of."

Like many who came before her, the bubbly fan favourite is more involved in the recording process the second time around. "I co-wrote nine songs on the album," she gushed. "That was huge for me because I never written before and I was like, 'if these songs are not good, they will not go on my album.'" "What I wanted to do was to let my fans know that I'm real," she furthered. "I go through the same things that they go through and I wanted to give them a chance to hear that. So I put it in my music. I put the bad stuff and the good stuff in there." No longer a celebrity spokeswoman for the famous plus-sized clothier Lane Bryant, Locke now endorses the Jenny Craig diet/lifestyle plan and will be featured on the new season of VH1's relentless weight loss competition series 'Celebrity Fit Club,' premiering April 15. The buxom brunette didn't reveal how much weight she lost (because of contractual obligations with the Viacom owned network) but she looks mighty fine. "I've been losing weight for five months - it's all just coming together and everything is just perfect," she added.

While previewing tracks from 'True Story,' we dined on seafood, poultry and other five star calibre vittles. Ever the "company woman," Locke even had Jenny Craig cater the yummy dessert portion of the meal, while Godiva furnished us with its premium coffee product Belgian Blends. Possibly another endorsement deal? Hmmmm. "It feels really good because there's a lot of stuff going on... and the synergy feels good," she commented. Additionally, Locke is the co-owner of Croton Creek Steak House & Wine Bar in the tiny suburbs of Westchester, New York. A proven hit-maker, who was in the top three on the second season of 'American Idol,' she has scored four Top 10 Billboard hits including two #1 songs from her 2004 debut, 'One Love.' For 'True Story' she collaborated with a dream team who've crafted songs for Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child, Jennifer Lopez, Monica and Kelly Clarkson, among others.

And speaking of the very first 'American Idol' winner, the mention of the wildly popular talent competition will follow Locke through her career.  But she doesn't mind.  "I don't really watch the show, and I never really did" she admitted, adding that she's tuned into this season, particular, because she was hired to do commentary for 'Entertainment Weekly' magazine.

So what's her opinion of season six?

"With this season, I don't really know," she gently negotiated. "It's a different season, a different vibe. The kids are younger and the ones that are more mature, it shows and you can tell they've been on the stage."

And what about the finalist that everyone just loves to hate, Sunjya Malakar???

"All I can say is that there are a group of people out there who are keeping Sunjaya on the show," Locke responded, diplomatically. "I think that's one of the things about 'American Idol' that's also kind of reflective in our industry as well. We have people out there who put out albums who are non-singers and they do well because they have a fan base out there; people just love their personality or love something about them."

She quipped, "Why do you think Paris Hilton is a celebrity, because what does she do?"

Great point.  Change,' the roll out single from 'True Story,' has become a Top 30 staple on Adult Contemporary radio since its release last month.

Bobby Valentino's 'Anonymous' Featuring Timbaland Explodes

Source: Amina Elshahawi, ThinkTank Marketing, amina@thinktankmktg.com, http://www.thinktankmktg.com

(March 20, 2007) (New York, NY) -- The smooth and sexy ways of Bobby Valentino, the first R&B artist signed to Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace Records, are bringing him back to the top of the charts - as his brand new single "Anonymous" (featuring Timbaland) comes in as the #1 Most-Added record in its impact week at Urban radio.  "Anonymous" sets the stage for the May 8th arrival in-stores of Bobby's long-awaited second album, SPECIAL OCCASION.  Bobby has co-written more than three-fourths of the new album, which also boasts songwriting and production credits from award winning hit makers such as Sean Garrett, Tim & Bob, Delite, Bryan Michael Cox,   Dre & Vidal, Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins.     One of SPECIAL OCCASION's earlier advance tracks, "Turn The Page" (described as "a heartfelt and emotional ballad about trust, love and taking chances in a relationship") - which was also the #1 Most-Added single at Urban Mainstream radio upon its release.   SPECIAL OCCASION is the follow-up to Disturbing Tha Peace Presents: Bobby Valentino, his self-titled debut album of April 2005. 

His premiere single, the RIAA gold "Slow Down," rocketed to #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart and bulleted inside the Top 10 on the Hot 100.  Bobby's debut album shot rose to #1 R&B/#3 pop and was also certified RIAA gold, making him the R&B success story of the year.     Channeling the sounds of Babyface, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Prince and other classic R&B greats in his music, Bobby Valentino tapped into a soul-starved marketplace that can't seem to get enough of him.   Born in Jackson, Mississippi, and raised in Atlanta, the 25-year old first tasted stardom in the teen vocal group Mista (produced by Organized Noize), who delivered a classic hit with 1996's "Blackberry Molasses."  Bobby eventually returned to school, receiving a degree from Clark Atlanta University in 2003.  He was later 'discovered' by multi-platinum award-winning rapper Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and his business partner, Chaka Zulu, President, Disturbing Tha Peace, who signed Valentino to DTP.   After completing a 32-city promotional tour of major and secondary markets in early 2005, he appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live and Live with Regis & Kelly.  Bobby then earned the headlining spot on the year's hottest package tour, the 7-week "Scream Tour IV: The Heart Throbs," also starring Bow Wow, Omarion, and Marques Houston, which ran from July through September, presented by BET in conjunction with ACG (Artistic Control Group, Inc.), AWT (Atlanta Worldwide Touring), and So So Def.  Bobby's success was measured with nominations from the 37th Annual Image Awards as Outstanding New Artist, and "Soul Train" Music Awards nominations for Best R&B/Soul Single, Male and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist.

"Anonymous" Produced by Timbaland featuring Timbaland

WM Hi:


Consequence Talks Album Sales, Offers Fans Special Deal

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Tai Saint-Louis

(Mar. 20, 2007) Following the Mar. 6 release of his solo debut Don't Quit Your Day Job, G.O.O.D. Music recording artist
Consequence is issuing a challenge to those doubting the quality of his album: he is offering to issue a refund to anyone who doesn't find a song they like.  Consequence said those wishing to claim the refund can contact him via his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/constothequence for additional details. Don't Quit Your Day Job debuted at #1 on Billboard's New Artist chart, but the album only sold 7,490 units its first week in stores.  "It ain't really about being cocky or confident,” Consequence told AllHipHop.com. “It's just that I believe. I grew up off Hip-Hop, so I know what I put out. I wouldn't even make a statement like that if I didn't really believe in my heart, that this album wasn't contrary to the statement 'Hip-Hop is Dead,' given my legacy of where I come from."

Consequence admitted that he may face an obstacle with a younger generation of Hip-Hop fans, who may not be familiar with his body of work, which started with appearances on A Tribe Called Quest's 1996 release Beats, Rhymes & Life.  “The kind Hip-Hop that I do now is the rarity,” Consequence said. "This project and the music that's on there and the type of Hip-Hop that it represents, means this much to me. Because if I let this die, then essentially, everything that I grew up on is dead, that's what you're trying to tell me. And I don't believe that.” In addition to the widespread press surrounding his first week sales, Consequence believes that potential fans may be dismayed from purchasing the album because of it's low-profile arrival.  He attributes the lack of a large scale marketing campaign to his decision to release this project through Red Distribution, a Sony-BMG owned independent record distributor.

“I put the record out through the vehicle of Red because I was hoping that with all the things that I had done, I could come out 10,000 the first week,” Consequence said. “I came close. I didn't know when I was gonna have the option to utilize the promotional engine of Sony. And that's why I chose to go this route, because I felt it was that important to get the music out, to get the message out. A lot of people wouldn't even have gambled with their reputation like that.” Up next for Consequence is the release of Don't Quit Your Day Job's second single, “Don't Forget 'Em,” which was produced by Kanye West.  Consequence is also planning the 20-day "Job Experienced Tour" in support of the album.

Bands We Love To Hate

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Erin Carlson, Associated Press

(March 21, 2007)  NEW YORK – Few bands inspire such intense hatred as Nickelback. The post-grunge Alberta quartet has been trashed, bashed and hated on by countless critics, music snobs and other like-minded souls. So have much-maligned acts like Hinder, a rock band from Oklahoma; the Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas, who have spawned infectious rap hits "My Humps" and "Don't Phunk With My Heart"; and Britney Spears, who in her heyday ruled radio but was condemned for everything from her voice to not writing her own songs. Yet these acts have sold millions upon millions of albums. So are the critics wrong? Do music buyers have bad taste? Is this karmic payback to all the haters? "There are some bands that, let's face it, are critic-proof," said Nathan Brackett, a senior editor at Rolling Stone. "Just like there are some movies that are critic-proof. Nobody is really reading the reviews for `Norbit,' you know? And nobody's reading Nickelback reviews either." That might be a good thing. Nickelback's "All the Right Reasons," which debuted at No. 1 on the charts in the fall of 2005 and was still number 16 this week, was called "hard-rock ridiculousness" by the New York Times and "unspeakably awful" by Allmusic.com. Even the late Nirvana frontman and grunge icon Kurt Cobain would disapprove, suggested Rolling Stone, which called the disc "so depressing, you're almost glad Kurt's not around to hear it."

Young people who "are introduced to these bands on the radio, they don't have a lot of baggage," Brackett said. "A lot of kids don't care if an act, you know, kind of took their guitar sound from some other band." Post-grunge outfits like Nickelback and Hinder continue to be popular – or wreak havoc, whatever your opinion – in part because they appeal to the estrogen set, said Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender magazine. A "slightly hipper band" will sell more albums to guys than girls, he said. "They're selling a lot of records to very casual music fans who don't buy a lot of CDs," Marks said. "When you're selling five million albums like Nickelback or 2 1/2 million like Hinder, and especially when you're making your mark with big ballads that are kind of wedding songs, then you're selling records to both males and females. And that's often how you get from selling 1 1/2 million records to selling four or five million records." When "teenage girls or tween girls like an artist, that's often a sign that ... the artist isn't cool," said Marks, who also gives Spears as an example. "You know, `My little sister likes them.' "

Advertisements, music reviews and fashion trends tell us that ``cool" is an edgy rapper, an up-and-coming hipster band or a British chanteuse like Amy Winehouse. Cool is not Nickelback or the Black Eyed Peas. They're not so uncool that they're cool, like Fountains of Wayne. They're just, in a word, uncool. Chris St. Peter, 26, of New York, witnessed this hatred years ago at a concert in Boston, where Nickelback was opening for another band in front of an indie-rock crowd. "They threw batteries at them, which is also terrible but also really funny," St. Peter said. "Nickelback represented everything I think they hated." Though he didn't hurl any batteries, St. Peter gives the band a thumbs-down. "I hope they go the same way as, like, Creed, and they just sort of disappear." But for every hater there's a lover like Jaclyn Hafenstein, 30, from Madison, Wis. "Don't they trash them because their music is considered simple, not unique?" she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Why is that bad? Whatever it (is) they're doing, it makes me bob my head and sing along! I can't say that for every band, whether I like them or not." Often, bands that are popular in places like Wisconsin get dissed by snobs on the coasts. "There's a real danger with ... writers being in their kind of music-critic clique, you know, in either New York or L.A. or San Francisco, and kind of ignoring these bands just because all the critics they know and all the kind of so-called cool kids are ignoring these bands," Brackett said. He points out that classic acts like Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Billy Joel were at first ignored by critics. Then again, he said, ``there are a lot of times when music critics are right."

Acts hoping to collect both money and respect would do well to study an It band like Fall Out Boy, which sells heaps of records to teen girls while delighting the critics, too. They don't take themselves too seriously, unlike, say, the Killers in their latest incarnation or – again – Nickelback. It all comes back to Nickelback, doesn't it? At least they're now big enough to headline their own shows, and that means no batteries will be hurled. Only verbal ones, from outside the venue. "You know, you have to be really popular in order to corral that sort of hatred," Marks said. "It's the best ballplayer on the visiting team who gets booed during the introductions. No one boos the guy off the bench, but you always boo the star of the other team. You know, it is a tribute to their success."


Latifah, Buble Lend New Covers To Ella Tribute Album

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Katie Hasty, N.Y.

(March 15, 2007) Artists from Michael Buble to k.d. lang to Queen Latifah have leant their interpretations of
Ella Fitzgerald songs to upcoming compilation "We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song." The 13-track tribute will be released June 5 via Verve, a label that helped release over a dozen albums in the legendary late singer's catalogue.  Etta James, Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall and Hank Jones, Ledesi, Dianne Reeves, Linda Ronstadt and Lizz Wright also contributed previously unreleased material for the set, which includes covers of famous tunes like "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Lullaby of Birdland" and the Van Alexander/Fitzgerald-penned "A-Tisket, A-Tasket."  The album was compiled and helmed by veteran producer Phil Ramone in time for the jazz singer's 90th birthday year. Fitzgerald passed away on June 15, 1996 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Here is the track list for "We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song":

"A Tisket A Tasket," Natalie Cole
"Lullaby of Birdland," Chaka Khan
"The Lady is a Tramp," Queen Latifah
"Dream a Little Dream of Me," Diana Krall and Hank Jones
"Mr. Paganini," Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan
"Oh, Lady Be Good," Dianne Reeves
"Reaching for the Moon," Lizz Wright
"Blues in the Night," Ledesi
"Miss Otis Regrets," Linda Ronstadt
"Someone to Watch Over Me," Gladys Knight
"Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," Etta James
"Angel Eyes," k.d. lang
"Too Close for Comfort," Michael Buble

B.B. King Blues Fest To Feature Green, James

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Mitchell Peters, L.A.

(March 15, 2007)
B.B. King, Al Green and Etta James will embark on a 14-city trek beginning July 24 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Miami, and wrapping Sept. 9 at the Kautz Ironstone Vineyards Theatre in Murphys, Calif., Billboard.com has learned.  Dubbed the B.B. King Blues Festival, the jaunt will visit cities including Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Dallas and Denver. Ticket prices will range between $37.50 and $120.50. On sales begin at the end of this month/early April.  The trek, packaged by the William Morris Agency, will mark the first time the three legendary artists unite for a tour, according Brad Goodman, King's booking agent with the William Morris Agency. All three acts will play solo dates around the tour.  "It's a win-win for everybody," Goodman tells Billboard.com. "We had a vision for the new [B.B. King Blues Festival] to be at an elevated level of talent. In the past, it was more about B.B.'s summer tour and everybody else jumping on that tour."  Since January, 81-year-old King has been performing gigs on his 60th Anniversary Tour, and will continue touring through the year¹s end, which includes a string of Canadian shows in May. Supporting King on select dates are Joan Osborne, Robert Randolph and James Hunter.  Last April, the Grammy-winning bluesman celebrated his 10,000th concert at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City¹s Times Square. King also recently announced that he will fully fund the $10 million B.B. King Museum in Mississippi, which is expected to open in 2008.

Jackson Browne To Enter Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com

(Mar. 20, 2007) New York --
Jackson Browne, Don Black and Michael Masser are among this year's inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which recognizes the work of composers and lyricists. Irving Burgie, Bobby Weinstein and Teddy Randazzo will also be honoured, hall chairman and chief executive Hal David announced yesterday. The ceremony will be held June 7 in New York.

Jermaine Dupri Signs Hot Dollar, First Artist On New Island Def Jam Urban Label

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Chris Richburg

(Mar. 19, 2007) A little more than a month after being appointed President of Urban Music at Island Records,
Jermaine Dupri has hit the ground running by signing Compton,CA/ Hattisburg, MS rapper Hot Dollar.  According to the music mogul, Hot Dollar's talent was too good to pass up.  "Yeah, he's my first Island artist," Dupri told AllHipHop.com. "His record was just one I couldn't stop listening to and then I had him send me more songs and he had some s**t with him. I was like 'Let's Go.'"  Dupri believes Hot Dollar represents his ability to find quality talent, which will lead Island Records Urban Music in a solid direction. The label is a new division of the Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ). "This record is one of the hottest I heard this year,” Dupri continued. “I wasn't only brought in to make the hits, but find them as well. And I found one from the first listen as a true lover of Hip-Hop. You can tell soon as it drops, that it's that s**t."  Hot Dollar, who recently released his new DJ Nik Bean- hosted mixtape, Money, Respect and Techs Vol. 1, is currently working on his debut Def Jam/Island album.  The first single from the release will be "Streets on Lock. The album is slated to hit stores in the fourth quarter of this year.  As for Dupri's So So Def label, the executive revealed that things are continuing to progress with new music from Johnta and Young Capone coming out soon.

Montreal Jazz Festival Announces Stellar Lineup

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine

(Mar. 20, 2007) Toronto -- Spring may barely have begun, but the summer jazz festival season is already beginning to heat up. On Saturday at noon, tickets go on sale for 14 just-announced performances at the 2007
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, a grouping that includes world music and rock acts as well as the usual jazz stars. French singer Manu Chao, who was a sensation at the 2001 festival, plays Parc Jean-Drapeau on July 1, while Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora splits the bill with Brazilian singer Seu Jorge July 2, and Allman Brothers alumnus Derek Trucks is slated for July 4. Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra joins the Ghanaian percussion group Oaddaa! on June 28 for a celebration of the African roots of New Orleans jazz. The Roy Haynes Quartet (June 30), singer Mark Murphy (July 4) and an all-star fusion group featuring Didier Lockwood and Billy Cobham (July 2) adds to a jazz line-up that includes previously announced shows by pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Dave Holland, singer Holly Cole and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

We Remember Luther Ingram

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(March 21, 2007) *
Luther Ingram, best known for his 1973 R&B classic “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right,” has died in St. Louis following years of kidney trouble. He was 69. Ingram, born Nov. 30, 1937 in Jackson, Tenn., also co-wrote the Staples Singers’ 1971 smash “Respect Yourself.” His music career began on Koko Records, a tiny label owned by his manager/producer, Johnny Baylor, and distributed by Memphis-based Stax Records. His signature song "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)," written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100. Ingram’s other singles include "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)" and "I'll Be Your Shelter."  Fox411 columnist Roger Friedman wrote in his Tuesday column: “Ingram was a sweet man with a wide smile and a cherubic face. He raised a good family including a son, Eric, who devoted all his time to his dad in the last decade. Eric Ingram has a script and music rights for a cool movie about his dad's era, and hopefully he'll get it made.”



'White Masai': Into Africa

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

The White Masai
(out of 4)
Starring Nina Hoss, Jacky Ido, Katja Flint and Nino Prester. Directed by Hermine Huntgeburth. 131 minutes. At the Bayview, Cumberland. 18A

(March 16, 2007) Conflicting thoughts engage the viewer of
The White Masai, the story of a Swiss businesswoman who falls for a Masai warrior while visiting Kenya. Is it love at first sight, or sexual fantasy run amok? Is it the ultimate in racial acceptance or a misguided dive into cultural torrents? More to the point: Whatever could possess a woman to leave a life of comfort and privilege to move into a hut made of cow dung and to be treated as mere chattel? These questions, never fully resolved, ensure that this screen treatment of Swiss author Corinne Hofmann's best-selling autobiography is never less than intriguing. It gradually develops into a thriller. While on a working holiday in Kenya with her boyfriend Stefan (Janek Rieke), Swiss clothing seller Carola (Nina Hoss) sees a pair of Masai warriors in the marketplace. They are dressed in the traditional red robes and multiple adornments of their people, and seem almost like gladiators with their regal bearing.

One of the warriors, whom we later learn is named Lemalian (Jacky Ido), returns Carola's curious gaze with a smile. The mutual attraction is silent but unmistakeable. "The first time I saw him I thought, this is it. This is why I'm alive," Carola says in narrative voiceover. That's about all the explanation we get for what happens next. Carola sends Stefan packing on the next flight home. He makes the bitter comment that her attraction to Lemalian is all about sex. Carola sends for her money from Switzerland and resolves to stay in Kenya with Lemalian. This presents all manner of problems, not least of which is that Lemalian has returned to his Samburu tribe in a remote rural village. Carola tracks him as far as a town called Barsaloi, where she meets German woman Elisabeth (Katja Flint) who married a Kenyan some years earlier. She tells Carola that Lemalian will come to her and that if she's serious about being with him, she'll have to forget about being a liberated woman: "That's how it is. Women don't count much here." Carola gets similar pointed advice from an Italian missionary (Nino Prester), who sees no future in the match. He tells her she'd be better off just going home.

But Carola is not easily deterred. Not even when Lemalian returns and first treats her like a whore, then installs her in a primitive dung hut with his mother and younger siblings. Whatever romantic notions are running through Carola's head seem impervious to physical discomfort. They survive even to the point of marriage and motherhood. German director Hermine Huntgeburth and screenwriter Johannes W. Betz render no judgments on Carola's situation, but they do not stint on showing the downside. Carola is revealed to be wildly naïve as well as impetuous. She is shocked to learn that Masai men do not show affection to women in public and that the Samburu tribe still practises the barbaric rite of subjecting pubescent girls to clitoral circumcision. She attempts to assert herself by opening a grocery store for the village. But her best efforts are undone by the bribes she has to pay to the tribal chief and by the slow-dawning realization that Lemalian is not the man she thought he was. Some things, like irrational jealousy, are the same in every culture. Were we not assured that The White Masai is based on fact, it would be hard not to view it as some kind of Utopian fantasy gone wrong. But the overall package commands respect that doesn't require completely buying into the scenario.  Hoss and Ido are aces as the oddest of couples, even if we never quite understand why they are together. And the film makes excellent use of its African locations, presenting the continent in all its beauty and mystery.

Billy Bob Reteams With Halle Berry For ‘Tulia’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(March 15, 2007) *
Billy Bob Thornton will join his “Monster’s Ball” co-star Halle Berry in the new film “Tulia,” based on the true story of a racially-motivated string of arrests in a rural Texas town. As previously reported, Berry was cast as the lead attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which intervened to free 49 black men wrongly convicted based on one crooked cop's testimony. Franklin rewrote the Karen Croner script based on Nate Blakeslee’s book "Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town." Shooting is scheduled to begin April 30 in and around New Orleans, reports Variety.  "Tulia" is a co-production between Element Films and Lift Films. Pic is being produced by Adam Rosenfelt, Jesse Franklin, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Vince Cirrincione and Berry.

*Elsewhere in Hallewood, the actress gets candid about the industry’s obsession with plastic surgery in the April issue of Reader's Digest. When asked if she had ever gone under the knife, the 40-year-old said: "No, I haven't…but that's one thing I'll never say never about, because I don't know. I hope I will evolve as a person who realizes it's really not about my physical appearance and not be drawn to that seductive knife."  Berry also spoke to the magazine about the years she struggled after moving to New York City at age 21. Berry said she had to live in a shelter for a while, and once stopped talking to her mother for a year-and-a-half after she refused to send money when Berry was nearly broke.  "It was devastating because she had never said no to me for anything," says Berry. "I became totally self-sufficient. I vowed never to ask my mother or anybody for anything, ever. And I didn't."  Today, she says it was one of the most valuable lessons her mother taught her. "I'm actually grateful she did that, because it taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meagre," says Berry. "I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way."

Shavar Ross Takes The Director's Chair In 'Lord Help Us'

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(March 16, 2007)
Shavar Ross ... the name may sound vaguely familiar and a face might not readily come to mind, but it is indeed a familiar one. He has starred in over 100 films and episodic television productions (including "What's Love Got To Do With It?", "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", "Family Matters"), yet is most fondly remembered as child actor of 1980's sitcom Diff'rent Strokes as Dudley, best friend to Arnold Jackson played by Gary Coleman.   These days, 34-year-old Ross, no longer the side-kick, is the head man in charge of Tri-Seven Entertainment.  As a writer, director and producer, his first independent feature film, "Lord Help Us" will be released on DVD May 8. We recently played catch-up in an interview shortly after the film opened to a warm reception at the Pan African Film Festival. So what's he been up to?

During a time of respite in his career, Ross attended theology school and later founded The Alive Church in Los Angeles, serving as pastor for 4 years.  Not only has Ross carried the mantle of a pastor, but also he is a husband and father of a 13-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.  (The latter was an unexpected blessing after he and his wife tried for 10 years to have another child.)  And he formed Tri-Seven Entertainment.

As an urban inspirational comedy, Ross' multi-faceted interests converge in Lord Help Us. The film focuses on two best friends who set out to help a recently widowed Pastor regain his church after members are convinced by the glorified, gossiping church vixen that he's eloping with a woman nearly 35 years his junior. It is based on the short film set in 1960's South entitled A Taste of Us also written and directed by Ross.

Tri-Seven Entertainment is a full service entertainment media company which helps emerging actors/actresses transition into the industry (i.e., talent consulting, acting coaching), produces, acquires and distributes cutting-edge inspirational film and television projects for a global audience as well as provides services designed to assist in the production needs of creative artists, filmmakers, producers and other clientele.

Stuart Rosenberg, 79: 'Cool Hand Luke' Director

Source: Associated Press

(Mar. 19, 2007) BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Stuart Rosenberg, a prolific director of series television and theatrical films who partnered with Paul Newman on the widely popular prison drama "Cool Hand Luke" and several other movies, has died at 79. Rosenberg, who also directed "The Amityville Horror," died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills, according to his son, Benjamin. Rosenberg's first film was "Cool Hand Luke," the 1967 drama starring Newman as an inmate on a chain gang who becomes an unlikely hero. "He was as good as anybody I ever worked with," Newman said in a statement. "Cool Hand Luke" was nominated for four Academy Awards, with George Kennedy taking home a statute for best supporting actor. The film also spawned the famous line delivered by Strother Martin as a guard captain: "What we've got here is failure to communicate.'' Rosenberg was nominated for a Directors' Guild Award for the film, but lost to Mike Nichols, who made "The Graduate" the same year.

After "Cool Hand Luke," Rosenberg directed Jack Lemmon and French actress Catherine Deneuve in "The April Fools." He worked with Newman again on "WUSA,'' "Pocket Money," and "The Drowning Pool.'' Rosenberg also directed Robert Redford in the 1980 prison film ``Brubaker" and Mickey Rourke in 1984's "The Pope of Greenwich Village.'' "Amityville Horror" in 1979 was probably his most financially successful film; it has inspired seven sequels to date. His last film was "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" in 1991. Rosenberg had started out by directing episodes of television series in the 1950s, starting with "Decoy," which starred Beverly Garland as a New York City policewoman. He collected more than 300 TV directing credits for such dramatic series' as "The Untouchables,'' "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Twilight Zone," and won an Emmy Award in 1963 for an episode of "The Defenders.'' Rosenberg is survived by his wife, Margot, and son Benjamin, an assistant editor who worked with his father on many of his later films.

Don Cheadle: 'Miles' Ahead Of The Rest

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Mar. 16, 2007)
Don Cheadle will not only star as legendary jazz innovator Miles Davis in the forthcoming biopic, he will also direct it. Now take that -- you Academy Award constituency who continue to let the coveted trophy elude one of the most deserving thespians of this generation. Cheadle, who was nominated for an Oscar for 2004's 'Hotel Rwanda,' will produce the Davis film through Crescendo Productions, the shingle he's formed with Kay Liberman and Lenore Zerman, reports 'Variety.' Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson, who wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award nominated 'Ali' and 'Nixon,' has been tapped to write the script for the yet to be titled vehicle.  Darryl Porter of Miles Davis Properties will co-produce.

The Alton, Illinois born Davis is considered one of the most influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Through a drug-riddled, tumultuous career, the acclaimed trumpeter, bandleader and composer created seminal recordings such as 'Sketches of Spain,' 'Kind of Blue' and 'Bitches Brew' - considered masterpieces by jazz purists. Last year, Davis, who died in 1991, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Directing and starring in this movie may be just the shot in the arm that the Academy needs to put the former 'Picket Fences' star into the big leagues. This week, the 'Oceans Eleven' star is being honoured at ShoWest 2007 as "Male Star of the Year," unveiling plans to produce four other films. The Kansas City native stars alongside Adam Sandler and Jada Pinkett-Smith in Mike Binder's 'Reign Over Me,' opening next week. Cheadle also starred in 'Crash,' the 2004 Academy Award winning drama for 'Best Picture.'

A Mogul's Moment Of Whimsy

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Matthew Hays

(Mar. 20, 2007) MONTREAL — Given producer and distributor
Robert Shaye's recent history, making a children's movie seems a rather odd move. After all, a brief description of the past couple of years of his life sounds more like a list of crises facing a character on an afternoon soap opera. In 2005, the founder and co-CEO of New Line Cinema was placed in a medically induced coma after being overcome by a severe infection. He remained in the coma for six weeks, returning to find that he needed several months to recuperate from the ordeal. He also awoke to find that the company he founded in 1967 in his Greenwich Village apartment needed him. Last year marked a downturn for the mid-size film company, owned by Time Warner: There were clear disappointments like Snakes on a Plane, the disaster-suspense hybrid that took in about $33-million (U.S.) domestically, as well as Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, the Jack Black vehicle that grossed a mere $8-million (U.S.). New Line is still resting comfortably on the revenues generated by its Lord of the Rings trilogy, the immensely successful, multiple-Oscar-winning franchise that reportedly continues to bring in $100-million (U.S.) per annum for the company. But even that success has become tainted, given director Peter Jackson's loud and public demands for a bigger piece of the action. This has descended into a nasty war of words between Jackson and Shaye, with plenty of speculation that The Hobbit, the eagerly anticipated prequel to the trilogy, will be helmed by Sam Raimi (the Spider-Man movies), rather than Jackson.

Thus it feels strange to encounter Shaye, looking very Zen in a posh Montreal hotel, gently hawking his latest, a children's film titled
The Last Mimzy. That's right: Despite all the bad drama of late, Shaye has aspired to create something fun and fantastical. And though New Line has overseen the successes of numerous film series -- including the Nightmare on Elm Street, Rush Hour and Austin Powers movies -- Shaye has not stepped into the director's chair since 1990, when he directed the largely forgotten teen romantic comedy Book of Love. Based on a 1943 sci-fi short story (Mimsy Were the Borogoves) by Lewis Padgett, The Last Mimzy spins a story of two young children who discover a box of decades-old toys on the beach. They soon find that the toys have magical powers and that they have arrived from the world's troubled future. Alarmed parents, a car chase and anti-terrorist squads follow. "I was a sci-fi geek when I was a kid," recalls Shaye, 67. "I read this story and totally loved it. It stuck with me all these years. When [producer] Michael Phillips came into the office and offered the story to us, I executed my executive privilege and told him I really wanted to direct it." And Shaye bristles when he hears The Last Mimzy described as a children's movie. "The best kind of film is not a children's film, but a family film," he corrects. "I wanted to keep the family-friendliness, never talking down to children while not boring adults. There are some adult ideas, but it's fun for the kids."

Indeed, so intent was he on keeping things inoffensive for micro-managing parents that Shaye found himself altering the film after test screenings. At one point in the film, an adult character got laughs when he leaned over to open a fridge, revealing his bare bottom. "We had five or six test screenings, but every time there were some parents who asked, 'Why do we have to see his butt?' There were some laughs with that shot, but I realized there were more complaints than chuckles. So we actually spent $20,000 to put underpants on him digitally." And that wasn't the only bit of post-production house-cleaning to be done: One scene had a schoolteacher referring to his "girlfriend." "Someone told me that they didn't think it was right for a teacher to be living with his girlfriend. So I changed the line to fiancée instead. If I can maintain the entertaining part, while offending the least number of people, that's a good thing." Being offensive hasn't always seemed to bother Shaye. In 1981 and 1988 he produced two films by the auteur known as the Prince of Puke, John Waters (Polyester and Hairspray, respectively). And now New Line will be releasing the remake of Hairspray, based on the hit Broadway musical inspired by Waters's film. "I've just watched a 20-minute reel of the film, and it's fantastic," he reports of Hairspray, which was shot in Toronto last fall and opens in July. "It's hysterically funny, it reminds me of Grease." Shaye concedes it's funny to see John Travolta doing drag, playing a role first filled by legendary drag queen Divine, who died the year the first Hairspray was released. "Divine was a great guy. I was just talking to John [Waters] about him on Oscar night. And we were saying, 'What would Divine have thought, to see this happening?' It's a beautiful thing, but I'm obviously saddened that Divine left us so soon." Shaye concedes that public tastes and shifts in the way films are made have been extreme in the 40 years since he founded New Line. Robert Evans, the producer who was the subject of the documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, blames much of Hollywood's woes on stratospheric salaries for star actors. "Yes, that is appalling," Shaye concurs. "I'm having dinner with a psychiatrist friend tonight, and he has a term for what plagues many actors, as well as some producers and directors. He calls it acquired situational narcissism. It's when you start to think you're really an important person. But you know, the salaries I can't really fault. It's a free marketplace. If you don't want to pay an actor $25-million, you don't have to. We're paying Chris Tucker that right now [for the latest Rush Hour sequel], and he's a great guy. We couldn't make the movie without him. But we're making a lot of money from the films as well.

"To me, it's more about the attitude than the money. It's people refusing to come out of their trailers. It's people demanding a trainer or a caterer. On one film I was producing, they were way behind schedule, for reasons I had my suspicions about. I called the actor and asked him to help speed things up. He said, 'What can I do, I'm just the actor?' Then he said, 'Look, I have the most wonderful chef in my trailer and he cooks the most exotic things, why don't you come over for a meal and we'll talk about it?' And I was like, 'You son of a bitch, I'm paying for your lousy caterer, and you want me to come over and hear you pontificate? You think this is a gracious offer?' " (Shaye is quick to add that no one on The Last Mimzy behaved that way: "No one refused to come out of their trailer.") Shaye also acknowledges the disappointments of a producer, in particular the public response to Canadian director David Cronenberg's A History of Violence (2005). That film made vast numbers of critical top-10 lists, but did not connect with a large audience. "We did everything we could -- we certainly weren't chintzy about it. " But when I bring up the nasty mess surrounding the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson and The Hobbit, Shaye clams up.  "I'm not going to talk about that. I don't blame you for asking, but no, I'm not going to discuss it."

EUR Film Review: I Think I Love My Wife

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kam Williams

(March 21, 2007) *On the surface, it sure looks like Richard Cooper (
Chris Rock) is living the American Dream. By day, he has a great job as an investment banker in midtown Manhattan where he enjoys a corner office with a breathtaking view. Evenings, he retreats to his spacious home in the suburbs where he is welcomed by his beautiful wife, Brenda (Gina Torres), and a couple of adorable, well-behaved young children. So, what's wrong with this picture? Nothing, except that, despite all of the trappings of success, the pizzazz has gone out of the Coopers' marriage. The problem is that both of them have demanding careers and, between work and caring for the kids, they haven't made love in ages. This asexual state of affairs seems to suit Brenda just fine, but it's been driving Richard up a wall. He finds himself with an ever-wandering eye, and fantasizing about every attractive woman who crosses his path.

Finally, an opportunity presents itself in Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington), an old acquaintance who has suddenly resurfaced after eight years. She used to date his buddy, Nelson (Orlando Jones), but they broke up ages ago. Now, Nikki says she'd like to be friends with Richard, and against his better judgment, he agrees. Their daytime liaisons start off innocently enough, but lunch escalates to lust soon after she asks a very personal question, namely, whether or not he and his wife are still intimate. Richard's admission that they aren't only encourages Nikki to confess that she has designs on him.

For full review by Kam Williams, go HERE.

Mark Wahlberg's Last-Minute Decision To Visit Film Fest Kept Him Off Doomed 9/11 Jet

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(March 21, 2007) Actor Mark Wahlberg loves Toronto. First it sexed him up – and then it saved his life. In 1992, when he was the boxer-baring front man for pop rappers Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, he played to a sold-out Danforth Music Hall. His performance was as much striptease as musical event. "I remember that night," Wahlberg, 35, says in an interview, grinning at the memory. "I was a bad boy back then. I stopped the show because there was a beautiful blond girl in the front. I was like, `Wait a second, come here!'" He more vividly recalls a fateful last-minute trip he made here the evening of Sept. 10, 2001. He had originally booked to fly from hometown Boston to Los Angeles the following morning, but changed his mind and went with some friends to the Toronto International Film Festival to see movies and party. But for that impulse, he'd have been on one of the two L.A-bound Boston jets crashed by the 9/11 hijackers. "We chartered a plane to Toronto and we had a lot of fun that night drinking Canadian beer, which is much stronger than U.S. beer. I woke up in the morning, in this very hotel (the Four Seasons) and people were calling and beating on my door. It was hard to wake up that morning. But then there was the shock of seeing the television."

Like Keith Richards, who credits a Hogtown heroin bust with forcing him to go clean, Wahlberg can say a trip to Toronto saved his life. He can also say that he's one lucky cat, having survived career setbacks and detours that could have left him as just a footnote in a faded teen mag. Wahlberg can identify with his beleaguered hero from Shooter, the new action thriller (opening Friday) he's in town to talk up. He plays Bob Lee Swagger, a former Marine scout sniper who is framed for an assassination attempt on the U.S. president. He has to fight to prove his innocence and to catch the real villains. If Wahlberg's luck holds, his top-billed role in Shooter will fuel the rocket he's been riding since last fall's release of The Departed, the 2006 Best Picture Oscar winner. He stole the movie from top-billed stars Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, winning himself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Wahlberg parlayed his intimate knowledge of Boston crime and punishment – he really was a bad boy in his youth, and did jail time for petty crime and violence – into a vivid portrayal of a hilariously profane Beantown police sergeant.

Director Martin Scorsese gave him plenty of leeway with the character, which Wahlberg based in part on his mother, of all people. "He said basically, `Say what you want, just don't lose anything storywise.' I love that ... so we just took the slang and the attitude a little bit further. And I put a little bit more of my mother in there. My mother's like Jimmy Cagney. She's just tough as nails." She would have to be, raising nine kids – Mark's the youngest – in one of Boston's rougher neighbourhoods. Shooter is a departure from The Departed for Wahlberg, but he's played characters on the lam before. Most notably in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake and Jonathan Demme's Charade remake The Truth About Charlie, in which he scored critical points for making the best of two suicide missions: trying to recreate classic roles previously belonging to Charlton Heston and Cary Grant. At first blush, Shooter seems like just another action picture. But it is shot full of political references aimed at the current administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. It is also steeped in a 1970s paranoid vibe about the shadowy forces that operate behind the scenes in the White House and the Pentagon. "We were thrilled at the opportunity of making the movie and a lot of kids are going to want to go and see me kick ass. And then you know, maybe it's going to raise some questions," Wahlberg says. Notice that use of the royal "we"? It's Wahlberg's way of including the members of his posse, guys with handles like Johnny Drama, Real E and Toronto's own Rasta Phil. These are friends from his pre-fame days who have stuck with him, and whose personalities and peccadilloes were the inspirations for the hit TV show Entourage.

Wahlberg not only still runs with his pals, he runs everything by them. He hasn't forgotten who helped him get here, although he sure does look grown up – he's dressed in a black pinstripe suit that looks more suitable for a business meeting than a day of press interviews. But at least he's keeping in shape. He's dropped about 20 pounds since he made The Departed. "I was 200 pounds in The Departed. I was as big as a house. I was eating every day. Marty wanted me to bulk up. And for Shooter, I just had to stop being lazy. I had to start running and doing sit-ups and actually working out. I was doing the, you know, the fake workout for quite some time." He felt that way about his career, too, not so long ago. Back when he was doing those remakes for Burton and Demme, he felt like he was digging his own grave. That may be a reason why he's wary about sequels – which he hasn't yet done – although Shooter has a potential to become a franchise much like the Rambo property. "If we could make it better than the first, cool," he says of sequels and/or prequels, which are also being discussed for The Departed and The Italian Job. "If not, then it's just not worth it for the sake of the paycheque." Wahlberg has learned a few things in his 35 years. Maybe that near-death experience on 9/11 taught him something. Being the father of two young children, another momentous development, also contributes to his calmer and more reflective view of life.

"There are constantly things that you've got to overcome, although I think I've got it figured out. Finally, at 35, I'm starting to realize that I don't know that much. A lot of the things that people were telling me that I didn't think made sense was true ... "So maybe I just need to calm down a little bit. And I finally ... feel like I've hit my stride. I'm comfortable in my own skin and that. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel but I feel like I have real-life experience that I can bring to the table that rings really true and authentic to people. So I've gotta use it in the right ways and in the right situations."


Robin Thicke, Wife Team For Urban Drama

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Gregg Goldstein, The Hollywood Reporter

(March 19, 2007) Chart-topping R&B artist
Robin Thicke is in negotiations to write his first film score for the urban drama "This Wednesday," with wife Paula Patton attached to star as a female pimp.  Patton, known for lead roles opposite Denzel Washington in "Deja Vu" and OutKast's Andre Benjamin in "Idlewild," will portray Wednesday, the "trick baby" of a pimp father and hooker mother. With her best friend's support, she struggles to survive on the harsh streets of Philadelphia.  The feature from writer-director Christine Crokos is inspired by the true story of a female pimp in Atlanta. "Wednesday" will be expanded from Crokos' 2001 short "Heroine Helen," about the same character.  Shooting is expected to begin late this year in Philadelphia.  Thicke's recent album "The Evolution of Robin Thicke" reached the top five of the Billboard 200 last week, and its single "Lost Without U" has been at the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for five weeks. Thicke, the son of "Growing Pains" actor Alan Thicke, has written and produced songs for artists including Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera.

Sneak Peak At Hairspray

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(March 16, 2007) LAS VEGAS–John Travolta fans finally have their two big wishes: His return to movie musicals after almost 30 years and his first role as a plump Baltimore housewife. Travolta heads the bill in a new production of
Hairspray, whose cast helped preview the shot-in-Toronto film Wednesday night and blew the roof off the joint with show-stopping footage and live music-and-dance numbers at ShoWest, an annual convention of theatre owners. The movie is slated to open July 20. "I've had the itch for 30 years" to return to movie musicals, said Travolta, who wears a fat suit and prosthetic jowls for the gender-bending part, his first musical role since 1978's Grease. Adapted from the Broadway stage hit, which in turn was based on John Waters' 1988 cult film, Hairspray stars newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. Travolta plays Tracy's tubby mom, Edna. When Travolta first appeared onscreen, it took a few moments for the crowd to realize who it was. They began whispering to one another, "That's John Travolta?" Each of his scenes were greeted with hearty laughs and applause as Travolta played the part with surprising sweetness and femininity.

Ocean's Thirteen Heading To Cannes, Report Says

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - AFP

(March 16, 2007) Los Angeles -- Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh's
Ocean's Thirteen will make its international premiere at the 60th Cannes Film Festival in May, a report said yesterday. Movie-industry journal Daily Variety reported that a date for the out-of-competition screening had yet to be set, without indicating its sources. The studio and festival hoped that many of the film's stars, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Al Pacino, would attend, Variety added. The film is the third in the series by Soderbergh, following Ocean's Eleven in 2001 and Ocean's Twelve in 2004, which together have grossed close to $800-million (U.S.) worldwide. The line-up for this year's Cannes Film Festival, which takes place from May 16-27, will be unveiled on April 19.

‘Forrester’ Star Finds New Lead Role

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(March 16, 2007) *“Finding Forrester” star
Rob Brown has been cast as the first African-American football player to win the Heisman Trophy in the new Universal film, “The Express.”  The actor will suit up as Ernie Davis, an athlete who was raised in poverty in Pennsylvania coal-mining country. He never played one day in the NFL because he was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after his draft day.  Davis’ hard-nosed coach and father figure, Ben Schwartzwalder, will be played by actor Dennis Quaid.  In the meantime, Brown also stars in the upcoming Paramount film "Stop Loss," about a soldier who refuses to return to duty in Iraq, and will appear later this year in "Live!," an indie pic co-starring Eva Mendes and Jay Hernandez.

Vanessa Williams Gets Star In Hollywood

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(March 20, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Many predicted
Vanessa Williams would fade into obscurity when she gave up her Miss America crown because of a scandal over nude photographs, but her star shone brightly Monday. Williams received the 2,331st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fellow cast members from the TV show "Ugly Betty," in which she plays a villainous magazine editor, showed up to cheer for her at the ceremony in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. "We were so happy to get Vanessa," said Salma Hayek, the show's executive producer. "She is brilliant because she is so nasty on the show, but in reality she is the sweetest person." Williams stepped down as the first black Miss America in 1984 after Penthouse magazine published nude, sexually explicit photographs of her taken several years earlier. In the years since, she has sung on Broadway, released Grammy-nominated albums and acted on screens both big and small. On Monday, she thanked fellow "Betty" cast members for attending the ceremony on their day off. "I love working with these people," she said. "I also want to thank my family for allowing me to live my dreams. The sun didn't shine today, but my heart is shining." Others who attended the ceremony included producer Peter Gruber, ``Betty" co-star Rebecca Romijn and Williams' brother, Chris, a cast member on the new Fox series "The Wedding Bells."

Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie Are ‘Wanted’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(March 21, 2007) *While in Vietnam obtaining a visa to bring home her third adopted child,
Angelina Jolie has signed on to star opposite Morgan Freeman in the upcoming Universal Pictures release “Wanted,” an action film based on a graphic novel about assassins. James McAvoy, last seen in “The Last King of Scotland,” will play Wesley Gibson, a young man who discovers that his father is an assassin, only to learn shortly thereafter that his dad has been murdered. After following in his father's footsteps, he receives expert assassin training from veterans played by Freeman and Jolie. Freeman’s character, Sloan, was the partner of Gibson’s father. Gibson’s training will be used to eventually hunt down the party responsible for his father’s murder. Production is slated to begin in Eastern Europe in May.  Jolie agreed to join the project only after a rewrite of the script by Dean Georgaris ("Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life") to tailor the character for her. The film is based on the comic book miniseries “Wanted,” by Mark Millar.



Calgary Grandmother Unleashes Her Inner Diva

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Canadian Press

(Mar. 18, 2007) A Calgary grandmother has won a televised contest to become Canada's “bathroom diva” and her prize includes a chance to sing with the Vancouver Symphony. Soprano
Elaine Jean Brown beat out two other finalists to win the season finale of Bathroom Divas: So You Want To Be An Opera Star?, which aired Saturday on Bravo! The two other finalists were Paul Abelha, a construction worker from Hamilton, and Phillip Holmes, a student from Norway Bay, Que. Ms. Brown, 59, wins a debut performance at the Orpheum Theatre with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Bramwell Tovey.  “We saw in Elaine someone who had put her own desires and needs on hold for her family,” soprano professor Mary Lou Fallis, judge, coach and producer of the series, said in a release.

“By the end of the competition, she proved to us that she had the chops musically and had it in her to be a diva.” Ms. Brown was born in St. John's, N.L., and now lives in Calgary. She put her career on hold to raise a family and didn't began her vocal training until 1997. She won several singing competitions and release a solo CD in 2004. Bathroom Divas began with auditions in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, where six finalists were picked to participate in an extensive opera boot camp in Toronto. During the three-week crash course, competitors received intensive voice training, acting technique and more than 12 hours a week of one-on-one coaching.

Daytime Emmys Open New Category

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - David Bauder, Associated Press

(March 16, 2007) NEW YORK — Soon-to-retire game show host Bob Barker has a chance to win his 18th
Daytime Emmy. He received a nomination yesterday, while the CBS soap opera Guiding Light captured a leading 17. Another CBS soap, As the World Turns, received 16. New Today show host Meredith Vieira was nominated for hosting the syndicated Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and may be recognized in another category: A new award for morning shows such as NBC's Today is being established. Those nominations will be announced in April. "There's so much talk and feature material on the morning shows that has never been recognized," said Peter Price, president of the U.S. National Television Academy.

It's not a judgment that the network morning shows are no longer news programs, Price said. They still will be able to submit material for the news and documentary Emmys. The Daytime Emmys ceremony will be telecast 9 p.m. June 15 on CBS. Barker, 83, will step down as host of CBS's The Price is Right in June. Besides Vieira, the sentimental favourite will be competing for the best game show host trophy against Alex Trebek of Jeopardy!, Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune and Ben Bailey of Discovery's Cash Cab. Barker's 17 previous honours include a lifetime achievement award. It may not be his last chance to win, either; since the awards work on a calendar-year basis, he would be eligible again in 2008 for his partial year as host in 2007. Sesame Street, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Young and the Restless each got 12 nominations. Two Guiding Light cast members, Crystal Chappell and Kim Zimmer, will compete for best actress in a daytime drama. Other nominees: Jeanne Cooper and Michelle Stafford, both of CBS's The Young and the Restless, and Maura West of As the World Turns. With Peter Bergman and Christian LeBlanc, The Young and the Restless also had two nominees for best actor.

Also in the running: Michael Park of As the World Turns, Anthony Geary of ABC's General Hospital and Ricky Paull Goldin of Guiding Light. Rosie O'Donnell, who won six straight Daytime Emmys for best talk show host on her old program, has the chance to return to the winner's circle again. She'd have to break a jinx to do it, though. The women of ABC's The View have been nominated for best talk show host nine times without a win. Other talk show host nominees: Dr. Phil McGraw, DeGeneres, Rachael Ray, Tyra Banks, and Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway of Soap Talk.

Who's Smartest Of Us All?

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

(March 16, 2007) They burst into the restaurant all booming voices, flailing hands and toothy smiles.  
Wendy Mesley, Chris Hyndman and Steven Sabados ooze star power, tanned skin and coiffed hair all over the tiny space that is Pulp Kitchen on Queen St. E. one sunny afternoon this week. The collective force of their personalities overpowers the vegetarian café.  It takes the trio forever to settle down, but they get serious pretty quick. The CBC journalist and power design duo are here to dissect one of society's most infamous taboos: IQ. They're getting ready for their parts in Test the Nation: IQ on Sunday, a show aiming to gauge Canadians' mental fitness. "Are we nervous?" Hyndman asks, practically leaping across the table. "Of course we're nervous. We're interior designers. We're stupid." Together with Brent Bambury of CBC Radio, Mesley will host the two-hour program airing live on CBC-TV this Sunday. Curtains rise at 8 p.m.

Hyndman and Sabados are getting set to be humiliated as contestants.  "I'm really ditzy," Hyndman says. "Like Chrissy on Three's Company." There are 60 questions in the IQ test formulated for the show by a team of Trent University psychologists. The concept originated in the Netherlands in 2001 and has been repeated in 40 countries since.  The players and viewers at home will have a set amount of time to answer questions in six sections: language, memory, logic, visual memory, math and perception.  For Sunday's show, 200 contestants from across Canada will be divided into groups based on vocation. There are surgeons, tattoo artists, fitness instructors, radio DJs, millionaires, mayors from across the nation, including David Miller, and celebrities, such as Jessica Holmes and Shaun Majumder. Contestants key their responses to each question into a personal device. Scores of each group will be averaged together at the end of the show to yield the winning team and reveal the smartest subset of Canadians. (Vegetarians fared the best in the U.K.)

Viewers are encouraged to play along at home by logging onto http://www.cbc.ca/testthenation/. On Monday, Test the Nation's website will have data compiled from the show, including interesting factoids: did blonds fare better than brunettes; which sex is smarter; do lefties have bigger brains than righties; are short Canadians less intelligent than their taller counterparts? The data comes from at-home players.  "I have a very low IQ," Hyndman says, deadpan. "Show me a dog, a pig, a horse and a cow. I will know that we're talking about a farm. If it's a colour question, ask me. Are there any questions about design?" "No," Mesley says, also deadpan. She explains that the test measures natural intelligence, such as verbal and visualization skills, reasoning, memory, logic and mental arithmetic. There are no trivia questions and no prior knowledge is required, she says.  Hyndman and Sabados have been practising. They tackle the 10-question sample tests on the Test the Nation website as often as possible.  "It's not helping," Hyndman says, nervous he'll be "outed" as "really dumb." "My score is consistently low." He offers Mesley free decorating advice for a high score. She turns him down. Then she quiets him down by explaining she won't reveal individual IQs on live TV. She will, however, poke fun at contestants over a response or two.

"I'll scold them," she says, refusing to reveal how.  "Why don't you get a whip and wear really high boots?" Hyndman says, alluding to the BBC show's co-host, Anne Robinson, best known for The Weakest Link and her catchphrase: "You are the weakest link ... Goodbye!" "We will find ways to expose people during the game," Mesley says, throwing Hyndman a glare. "We can't make complete fools out of them. But we can have lots of fun." Sabados has never taken an IQ test but is pleasantly surprised by the experience – so far. "It helps you realize what you're good at," says the more laid-back half of the duelling designer stars of the HGTV show Design Rivals. "I'm great at memorizing things. I have a great short-term memory." Even though their job is to appear in front of an audience, Sabados and Hyndman say taking this test on live TV is like entering uncharted territory in a familiar arena.  "I think you just have to breathe," Mesley says. "The best thing to do is go slowly." There is a 10-second time limit for each question. That may be daunting, but at least the test doesn't measure character or personality, the trio says.  And no matter what the score, it doesn't have to influence your life, Hyndman says, noting tenacity and charisma have informed his success, more than any number.  "It's a good thing to know your IQ but also know that you can do whatever you want anyway."  "And if you don't do well, you don't have to tell anyone," Mesley says.

Vanessa Williams: The My Brother Interview With Kam Williams

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Kam Williams

(March 16, 2007) *Born in the Bronx on March 18, 1963,
Vanessa Lynn Williams and her brother, Chris (the actor), were raised in Millwood, a suburb of New York City located in Westchester.  Her parents, Milton and Helen, both music teachers, are also each half-white and half-black. And they must have had a premonition, because Vanessa's birth announcement read: "Here she is: Miss America!" As a child, she studied both piano and French horn, though she showed the most interest in developing her sultry singing voice. Vanessa settled theatre arts as her major at Syracuse University, but she was too impatient to enter show business to stay there very long. On September 17, 1983, she made history and proved her parents to be clairvoyant when she won the Miss America Pageant, becoming the first black woman to hold the title in the process. Regrettably, Vanessa decided to surrender her crown after some nude photos of her surfaced in Penthouse Magazine. But that temporary setback couldn't prevent such a multi-talented performer from continuing to pursue her dream, and she went on to flourish not only as a recording artist, but also on TV and the stage, and on film, winning a trio of NAACP Image Awards, while landing 14 Grammy nominations (winning once), a Screen Actors Guild nomination and a Tony nomination.

Currently, Vanessa is enjoying a recurring role on Ugly Betty, not as the title character, obviously, but as Wilhemina Slater. The bi-coastal beauty commutes back and forth between L.A. and her hometown where she is raising her four kids, Melanie, Jillian, Devin and Sasha. Here, she talks about her life and her latest outing as L'Tisha Morton in My Brother, where she exhibits an emotional range unseen in any of her previous work as the mother of two adolescent boys, one of whom has Down Syndrome.

Kam Williams: Hey, Vanessa, thanks so much for the time. I really appreciate it, since I've enjoyed your career from the beginning.

Vanessa Williams: Thank you, no problem.

KW: In fact, since my last name was Williams and I was also from New York, I have to admit that when you won Miss America, I used to claim that you were my cousin.

VW: [Chuckles] Oh, where in New York are you from?

KW: Saint Albans. I know you were born in The Bronx, but then where were you raised?

VW: I grew up in Millwood, which is in northern Westchester. My Dad's from Oyster Bay, and my Mom's from Buffalo.

KW: Gee, my family used to go out to places like Oyster Bay and Sag Harbor during the summer. Congratulations on recently winning another NAACP Image Award. I'm on the nominating committee

VW: Oh, okay, thank you! It was my third. The first one I got was for a recording, my album The Right Stuff back in 1988. The second one was ten years later for Soul Food, which was film. So this is great, because it's my first one for television.

KW: So, how are you enjoying having a hit show and playing Wilhemina Slater on Ugly Betty?

VW: [Laughs] I love it! I love our cast. I love our writers. I love the producers. I love our set. It's just a really enjoyable experience. I'm just so happy that I have the opportunity to play such a fun role.

KW: Are you at all like Wilhemina in real life?

VW: Playing a diva like Wilhemina, most people assume that things are usually taken care of for you, and that you don't have a lot of domestic skills. And many actresses don't, because of the nature of the business that we're in. But the greatest thing about being a mother so young, I had my first child at 24, is that I cook, I clean, I love to be independent and kind of hate to be waited on and hate to be taken care of. So, I guess that demonstrates my fiercely independent nature which is kind of anti what I portray on a weekly basis.

For the full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE.

YouTube Hosts First-Ever Video Awards

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(March 19, 2007) NEW YORK – Lonelygirl15, OK Go and other
YouTube sensations will get an opportunity to walk down a virtual red carpet. The video-sharing Web site announced Monday that it will hold the first YouTube Video Awards to recognize the best-user created videos of 2006. The awards will be handed out in seven categories: most creative, most inspirational, best series, best comedy, musician of the year, best commentary and "most adorable video ever.'' The nominees, picked by YouTube, are compiled in a gallery at http://www.youtube.com/YTAwards. YouTube community members can vote on their favourites beginning Monday and concluding on Friday. The winners, as chosen by the community, will be announced March 25. Each will be prominently featured on YouTube and receive a trophy, the design of which will be revealed later. Success on the site has previously been defined largely by rankings of the most-viewed or most-discussed videos. "We wanted to call out some of the most popular videos and let the users choose which ones deserve some additional recognition,'' said Jamie Byrne, head of product marketing at YouTube. The vast and varied world of online video has gradually formed styles all its own, which figured into the formation of the categories. "We looked at the genres of content that were the most popular last year," Byrne said. "We've seen and continue to see exciting new developments in the online video space where genres are being created.''

Among the nominees are noted "vloggers" Paul Robinett (``Renetto'') and Peter Oakley (``Geriatric1927''). The comedy of Barats and Bereta, and Smosh, is also nominated, as are series such as Lonelygirl15's and "Ask a Ninja." The power pop band OK Go is perhaps the most professional of the nominees; it's nominated for the famous treadmill-choreographed music video, "Here It Goes Again.'' Whether the YouTube Video Awards becomes a permanent, annual affair is likely, Byrne said, but it will depend on how the first awards are received. "We want to see how the community responds to it, but we can see this being something that grows as we continue to grow and becomes a bigger and more exciting event in the future," Byrne said. An in-person ceremony is possible in the future. Google-owned, San Bruno, Calif.-based YouTube Inc. was founded in February 2005. Last week, media conglomerate Viacom Inc. sued YouTube for $1 billion, claiming the site infringes on copyrights on a "huge scale." Several other media companies have reached agreements to supply YouTube with clips. According to comScore Media Metrix, YouTube attracted 133.5 million visitors worldwide in January.

Ellen DeGeneres To Develop Line Of Greeting Cards

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(March 21, 2007)  CLEVELAND – American Greetings Corp. will develop a line of 32 greeting cards with Ellen DeGeneres that will feature illustrations of the comedian along with her quirky observations. "I look at having a line of cards as another extension of being a host; helping you wish your loved ones well, piggybacking on your birthday greetings," DeGeneres, 49, said in a statement Tuesday. ``I like to be up in the middle of everything and doing it this way is much easier than crashing parties.'' The cards are expected to be available in stores this summer. DeGeneres has a syndicated talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and she was the host of this year's Oscars. American Greetings has a new focus on humour cards, said spokesman Megan Ferington. It had a previous licensing deal with comedian Jeff Foxworthy.



A Scene Change At Passe Muraille

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(Mar. 18, 2007) Andy McKim has been appointed the new artistic director of
Theatre Passe Muraille, The Globe and Mail has learned. He succeeds Layne Coleman, who is a stepping aside at the end of the current season after 10 years, to focus on other pursuits. McKim, 54, has been associate artistic director of Toronto's Tarragon Theatre for more than 20 years. He won the job in a competition that began last June; there were 25 applicants from across the country and a short list of six were interviewed and asked to submit vision statements. Forty years old next year, Passe Muraille has been a seminal force in the development of Canadian theatre. The Toronto theatre was responsible for the original production of such landmark plays as The Farm Show, The Drawer Boy, The Drowsy Chaperone, Maggie and Pierre, and Da Kink in My Hair. Coleman has already selected the plays that will constitute Passe Muraille's 40th-anniversary season. Among them is a remounting of The Drawer Boy. Although he takes up his new post at the end of May, McKim's first season of programming will thus begin the following year.

The theatre's chairwoman, Shelley Black, said all of the six directors interviewed were incredibly talented and any one of them would have made an excellent choice. What sold the board on McKim, she said, was the depth of his artistic vision. In recent months, there have been rumours in the local theatre community that TPM was in financial trouble and might have to close. But in an interview this week, Black insisted that such rumours were groundless. Financial statements prepared last fall, she acknowledged, did report a substantial deficit, worth "a few hundred thousand dollars." To save money, the current season was cut to three plays, the last of which, Noble Parasites, opens next month. But "we are in no danger of folding," Black maintains. That's because Passe Muraille has, for many years, owned outright the land and the historical building -- once the Nasmith Bakery and Stables -- building on Ryerson Avenue that houses the 200-seat mainspace theatre and the 80-seat backspace venue. The board agreed to refinance the property to begin attacking the deficit. The 2007-08 season will have a full slate of plays.

More work remains to be done, Black concedes, and the board is drafting a debt-recovery plan that includes more aggressive fundraising. "We have a three-to-five year plan," Black says. 'I think about it as financial sustainability." McKim says he wants Passe Muraille to continue to be an incubator of new dramatic talent, collaborating with smaller, independent companies on new work and providing a stage for them. Under his tenure, he hopes, Passe Muraille will put on more provocative, political theatre, provide a voice for marginalized communities, and push the boundaries of theatre. Raised in Quebec, McKim studied liberal arts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. It was there in the early 1980s that he had a kind of epiphany. He had tried acting, but "I couldn't act. So I tried directing, and had an experience that I had never had in my life, like a calling. It fit so neatly. I was absolutely committed to it, right then." He started as an intern dramaturge at Tarragon in 1984, working for the late Urjo Kareda, and was responsible for creating the theatre's popular annual spring arts fair. (He once directed Sandra Oh of Grey's Anatomy in a 10-minute play performed on someone's front porch.) When his long-time mentor, Kareda, died in 2001, McKim considered applying for the job but ultimately chose not to, for "personal reasons." The Tarragon post was given to Richard Rose. When he heard about the Passe Muraille job, McKim says he did a lot of thinking about whether to apply, consulted among friends and concluded that it would make a good fit.

"I have a great admiration for the history and mandate and am really attracted to the possibility of being a facilitator of new, independent artists. It's a seed theatre and I just love that role, in some ways even more than directing. And there are all kinds of small, talented companies that, because of limited funding, have not been able to realize their objectives." Passe Muraille, he says, can help change that. McKim is a passionate believer in Canadian playwriting. In 40 years, he says, "we have produced a prodigious amount of work. More than 70 per cent of the work mounted is Canadian. If it were not of merit, it would not rise to that percentage, especially given the challenge of overcoming the first hurdle -- 'oh, it's Canadian.'  "There's a healthy ecology. I think we're on the brink of the world taking notice of the excellence available here."


Members Of The Japanese Troupe Kodo Dedicate Days To Practice

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Dance Writer

(March 20, 2007) What can you say about a percussion show that has run for 25 years, with only minor revisions, and yet still draws big crowds? The beat of the heart and rhythms that tap into primal experience have an enduring appeal.
Kodo, the troupe that made a place for traditional Japanese drumming in the contemporary entertainment sphere, has been drumming up a Western fan base for 26 years, since their 1981 performance at the Berlin Arts Festival.  Tomorrow evening, Kodo's One Earth Tour returns to Toronto after an absence of four years, for two performances at Massey Hall.  The literal meaning of the two Japanese characters that make up the name of the troupe mean "drum" and "child." Hence the ultra-disciplined Kodo drummers, all of them trained on the poor Japanese island of Sado, think of themselves as "children of the drum." Which seems odd, when you think of the adult strength required to play those enormous taiko drums for a 100-minute fast-paced show, the biggest one being the o-daiko, which weighs about 816 kg. Not all the 14 players onstage, including a few women, are pounding the skins; some play flute. They spend two years out of three on the road.

Mark Hammond, Canadian promoter for Kodo for 25 years, recalls how he and a partner from Montreal first brought the troupe to Toronto. He had booked a group called Ondekoza, which he'd seen in London. But by the time the company arrived in Canada it had somehow been reborn as Kodo, under new leadership. The earlier percussionists had called themselves "Demon Drummers." Now they were the One Earth Tour. "Kodo was always very monastic and super-serious about their work," says Hammond.  "When Sado islanders first allowed us to live among them," says their official history, "it was in the turbulent days of student revolt. Our youthful dream was to build a school of the traditional Japanese performing arts."  The Kodo members – 20 new students are admitted each year, about one-tenth of the number who apply – no longer go on a marathon run every morning to build up their strength, but they still work very, very hard at their art.  "I've been to Sado," says Hammond, speaking of the tiny island in the Sea of Japan a 2 1/2-hour trip from the main Japanese islands. There is nothing phoney, he says, about the image they project of hard-working musicians who get up at 5 a.m. and practise all day.

As for their dedication, he says, "That's totally real. They live in a big commune with a common kitchen. They have cooks and a library and everything you need in a place of living and working. There are huge barns where they practise. That's all they do." Until the arrival of the Kodo drummers, Sado islanders lived simply off fishing and rice growing. But Kodo has made the island's traditional festivities a regular summer event, drawing on musicians from all around the world. The festival reminds Hammond of the outdoor music festivals of his youth. "The population suddenly grows fivefold," he says. Musicians and audience members descend on Sado, 260 square kilometres in circumference, to camp out and listen to music. The percussionists are international stars, from Micky Hart of the Grateful Dead to Ginger Baker to world-famous tabla player Zakhir Hussain to the Drummers of Burundi and the Huun-Huur-Tu company from Russia.    It sounds like a boomer experience, especially for people who thrived in the hippie era. But the Kodo audience has always been multi-generational. Now it's 50- and 60-year-old mums and dads bringing their children, and everyone else in between. Still, says Hammond, there are those who never had the psychedelic experience of the '60s who've become huge fans. "It's the one chance I get every few years," says a writer he knows, "to see what it must be like to be on acid."


Tootoo Equals Five Games For KO Punch

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

(March 20, 2007) The NHL suspended Nashville Predators winger
Jordin Tootoo five games for punching Dallas Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas in the face. Robidas was knocked unconscious on the play late in the third period Saturday night in a 3-2 Predators win in Nashville. "While a player is entitled to defend himself, Mr. Tootoo's forceful blow to Robidas' head was an overly aggressive and inappropriate response," NHL senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement yesterday. Robidas, who was coming to the defence of star centre Mike Modano, was assessed a minor for charging on the play, and Tootoo received a double-minor for roughing. Robidas was carried off the ice on a stretcher and was taken to hospital. He's out at least a week with a concussion.

MAURICE'S PROOF POSITIVE? Tonight, the Leafs embark on a stretch of games in which they play six in a row against teams above them in the standings. Coach Paul Maurice sees the positive side of that. "We play some of our best hockey against the best teams," said Maurice. The coach wouldn't guess how many points the Leafs needed in their final of the10 games to make the playoffs. "One better than the 9th place team," said Maurice. "It's foolish to look at because there is no answer. Most of these teams have games against each other, so you're going to have to play above .500."

Bishop On Move In AFL

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

(March 20, 2007)
Michael Bishop is back with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League, traded there last week by the Kansas City Brigade. And in his first appearance with the team with whom he starred in 2004, Bishop completed five of eight passes for 52 yards and one touchdown in a loss to the Philadelphia Soul. The question, however, is: Was it the real Michael Bishop or someone posing as him? When contacted by the Star last week, prior to the trade, Bishopdenied he was in uniform for the Brigade's first two games. He suggested someone else may have been wearing his No.7 jersey. "They must have mistaken me for someone who looked like me," he said in a telephone interview.  However, the game statistics told a different story. He saw limited action in both games, used as the "goalline" quarterback. However, in three carries in the two games he failed to get into the end zone. Rampage head coach Spark McEwan didn't hesitate when asked about Bishop.  "He played the last seven minutes of the game in a mop-up role," said McEwen.  Argo president Keith Pelley said last night he's been assured by the CFL office that it will contact Grand Rapids and inform them that Bishop is under contract to the Boatmen and expected to be at the club's training camp June 2.

"We have every intention of enforcing our rights," he said. "I'm confident that Michael Bishop, or a Michael Bishop look-alike, will be at training camp." McEwen said he was unaware of Bishop being under contract to a team in "any other league." "All I know is that we acquired his rights in a trade with Kansas City," he said, adding he expects to have Bishop in uniform this Friday against the Utah Blaze. The Rampage yesterday released quarterback Matthew Sauk, who had started the past two games with No.1 pivot Chad Salisbury sidelined. McEwen did not say if Bishop would start against Utah.

MoPete In Serious Slide

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

(March 20, 2007)
Morris Peterson sought answers to the funk that's engulfed him in the one place he feels most comfortable, the solitude of the practice gym. Hours after one of his worst games as a Raptor, an oh-for-8 afternoon at Madison Square Garden, a scoreless, rebound-free 15 minutes that surely has to be the low-water mark of a season full of disappointment and change, Peterson decided the only thing he could do was try to shoot himself out of whatever mystery ailment has struck him. Long after the rest of his teammates were home, licking the wounds inflicted by the Knicks and hoping to find yet another dose of resiliency this week, Peterson had an hour-long, solo shooting practice at the Air Canada Centre.

"I'll be back here (last) night," he said, defiantly. Peterson's mysterious drop-off has mirrored the struggles the Raptors have been through in the last few days. The seven-year veteran, the only player on the roster who's ever played a playoff game wearing a Toronto uniform, really hasn't been himself since mid-February, and it's cost him playing time. "Mo's struggling right now and after (Sunday), I'm sure he was upset with himself," said teammate Chris Bosh. "Him coming to work for an hour just shows his dedication and I'm sure it's going to pay off for him." There is no secret that the Raptors could use Peterson's experience in the final 15 regular-season games and however many playoff games they play. Anthony Parker tweaked his sore right ankle again yesterday – nothing serious but not a good sign – and Peterson needs to provide backup other than the mercurial Joey Graham and the small Juan Dixon. "We need Mo," said Bosh. "He has the experience. We need his defence, we need his shooting ability."

After two ho-hum games in a row, the Raptors probably need more than Peterson. While a loss Friday to Houston can be chalked up to the fact the Rockets made every shot they took in the first half, a dubious outing against the Knicks showed some danger signs. Sure, the Raptors were blitzed 35-15 in the third quarter that turned the game into a rout, but they were no great shakes in the first half, either. An energetic start against a listless opponent could have given them a double-digit lead and it's quite possible the bickering Knicks would have taken the second half off instead of run away with the game. The challenge now is to find the resolve they've shown so often before this season in time for home games tomorrow against Orlando and Friday against Denver. Only once since mid-December have the Raptors lost three in a row, an impressive display of resiliency. Coach Sam Mitchell said it comes from some kind of "us-against-the-world" mentality that's existed since early in the season. "Our makeup," Mitchell said in trying to explain that resiliency. "It seemed like the worst thing at the time, but having to go on those two west coast trips and people saying we had quit, and people saying we couldn't win another game, all the people who were down on us, we didn't have a choice but to look within ourselves.

"We've got some tough-minded guys on this team and they've come through and I believe they're going to continue to come through because they work." Few work as hard as Bosh, who spent about 45 minutes after yesterday's practice working with the team's three assistant coaches on his jump shot. He worked on spot-up jumpers, step-back jumpers and contested jumpers from five different spots around the basket. "We had our taste of losing early in the season. We really don't want that sour taste in our mouths," said Bosh. "Our resiliency comes from that."

West Indies Advance To Super Eights

Excerpt from www.thestar.com

(March 19, 2007) West Indies booked their spot in the
Super Eights and all of the Caribbean heaved a sigh of relief. Can’t have the home team go out of any World Cup, as happened previously in South Africa four years ago and in 1999 when England also failed to advance out of the first round.  One can now expect bigger crowds at this sparsely-attended tournament which I understand is taking a hit because of high ticket prices. Foreigners are also upset that the hotel rates have nearly tripled for the seven-week competition.  West Indies restricted Zimbabwe to 202 for five in its 50 overs after having the African nation on the ropes at one stage at four for 59.  But Brendon Taylor made 50 before he was unfortunately run out, before Sean Williams played a superb knock of 70 not out off 88 balls. Elton Chigumbura weighed in with 30. Jerome Taylor was the pick of the West Indies with two for 42.

Brian Lara must be happy to see opener Chris Gayle hit his stride with 40 off 48 balls in a hard-hitting knock that included three fours and three sixes.  Gayle and Shiv Chanderpaul (21) put on 73 for the first wicket.  But the West Indies then struggled against a surprisingly accurate Zimbabwe attack before finally getting to 204 for four wickets for a six-wicket win with seven balls to spare.  Lara hit 44 not out and Dino Bravo 37 as the two put on 75 runs for the fifth wicket.


Cultures Clash Comedically In The Name Of Awareness At Most Races Show On Earth!

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

(March 20, 2007) In a city as diverse as Toronto, on a day marking the international battle against discrimination, what better way to celebrate than with a multicultural cornucopia of comedy? Featuring nine comedians of various ancestries, the third annual
The Most Races Show on Earth! will put on two shows tomorrow night at the Panasonic Theatre. The event, starring stand-ups Dana Alexander, Sugar Sammy, Marc Trinidad, Dave Merheje, Ben Mathai, Tom Tran and Drew Thomas, is a "a multicultural show (that's) representative of the makeup of Toronto," said creator Neil Bansil, who will also perform. "Most people in Toronto have grown up with different cultures. Even though the culture onstage may not be their own, they can understand ... and relate to it."  Part of the proceeds will go to the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Organizer Ryan Jones said audiences should brace for "funny, edgy comedy ... that entails a lot of politically incorrect jokes and stereotypes. "But what we want people to bear in mind is that a lot of the barriers between cultures cannot be easily dissolved and sometimes it's actually the shock value of a lot of the jokes that inspires people to start thinking," Jones said.

"It's kind of cool in a way that the show breaks down barriers. We all see how different we are, but ... also how much the same we are," added host Quinn Martin. Bansil said audience members should expect to hear a lot of jokes about disapproving parents, including his own father, who brought his family to Canada from the Philippines in the early 1970s. "My dad never really wanted me to do stand-up. Immigrant parents move to North America for their kids to have a good education and a good job," Bansil said. While his father wanted him to pursue a degree in computer sciences, Bansil opted instead for a bachelor's degree in English and has yet to hear the end of it. "What (my father) likes to do is look in the classified section of the paper and look for jobs I could be applying for but because of my degree, I have no chance at all of getting," Bansil laughed, noting his father still refers to him as "a complete and utter disgrace to our family."

Club Caught In Dispute Gets New Lease On Life

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Rusk

(March 16, 2007)
The Ontario Club, one of the city's oldest private clubs, got a new home yesterday, just as it seemed it would be out on the street because it was caught in a feud between flamboyant developer Harry Stinson and theatre impresario David Mirvish. The club, which is now in its 98th year, will move into two floors of a 1914 historic building on King Street that were once the executive offices of the Dominion Bank, a forerunner of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, club director Stephen Lautens announced at a news conference. Mr. Lautens said the club, which had to be out of its premises on the fifth floor of Commerce Court South by the end of the month, will quickly start moving into the new space and plans are to have it operational by the end of next week. The club has been in Commerce Court for 35 years. It moved there after the building on Wellington Street just west of Yonge Street, were it spent its earlier years, was sold when the land for the Commerce Court development was assembled in the late 1960s.

Mr. Lautens said that he is happy the club was able to find suitable space close to its current home, especially because "there is very little left in downtown Toronto that meets the requirements of a club." The 1,200-member club had expected to move into the second floor of the heritage building, the old banking hall, which is now known as the Dominion Club, in late February. But the deal fell through because of the dispute between Mr. Stinson, whose company owns the second floor, and Mr. Mirvish, whose company built the condo-hotel project known as One King West, which incorporates the heritage building with a new tower built above. Last week, the feud between the two businessmen became public after Mr. Stinson sought court protection to give him time to rearrange the financial affairs of two of his companies, which had failed to make an $11.8-million mortgage payment due to Mr. Mirvish. The Dominion Club space the Ontario Club was to move into was in a part of the complex owned by Mr. Stinson, and Mr. Mirvish has told the club that he does not like the deal that Mr. Stinson made. The Ontario Club, whose first permanent location was opened by then-prime-minister Wilfrid Laurier in 1913, pulled out of the deal with Mr. Stinson and sought other space. It found what it needed upstairs. Instead of the second floor, the club will move into the 12th and 13th floors of the building, which are not owned by either Mr. Stinson or Mr. Mirvish, but by the condo corporation that operates the One King West project.

Ate, Prayed, Loved And Wrote About It

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Simon Houpt

(Mar. 19, 07) NEW YORK — Elizabeth Gilbert still doesn't know what to tell people when they ask her if they should leave their marriage. She gets these e-mails all the time from strangers who've read her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, and thereby figure she has some special insight into their situation. But, really, what's she gonna say? "How do I know?" she wondered the other day. "I still question how I left mine, how am I gonna solve theirs, you know?" We should probably back up a step or two. You may not know of Gilbert and, if you do, you're probably wondering how she came to be a guru for what she calls, "the broken-hearted women's market." Because if you do know her, it would likely be as the author of The Last American Man, the deeply satisfying biography of a 21st-century backwoods frontiersman that was a 2002 finalist for a pair of honours, including the National Book Award. Or perhaps as the author of the alternately rollicking and sombre 1997 GQ article about her time as a bartender at an East Village dive, which was somehow mulched and morphed into the flashy and trashy flick Coyote Ugly. A guy's writer, in other words. And now? Last month, as Gilbert went on a 21-day, 18-stop tour to promote the paperback edition of her memoir, she watched while women choked bookstores and coffee shops and houses of worship across the country. Two days before her first event, at the New York Open Center in SoHo, which specializes in holistic health and offers classes in yoga, spiritual inquiry and feng shui, she got a call notifying her they'd had to relocate her talk to a larger venue because they'd already sold more than 300 tickets. After a reading in Colorado, one reporter wrote that, "virtually every woman in Boulder between the ages of 25 and 70 showed up."

"What they're in the market for is hope, you know? Camaraderie," says Gilbert, 37, savouring a light lunch of fruits de mer at Bouchon Bakery. "A big thing I've realized, particularly at this point in America, is how very much on our own we are. And I think that's why people flock to Oprah Winfrey, because she creates this sense of community." (We should probably add that Gilbert writes for Oprah magazine now.) Eat, Pray, Love is one of those grassroots success stories. It came out in February, 2006 to good reviews and some strong sales, but nothing that would foretell a longer life. Then, little by little, extraordinary word-of-mouth -- one woman pressing a copy knowingly into the sobbing chest of a friend; a mother sagely passing it to her lovelorn daughter -- helped the book maintain sales of about 10,000 hardcover copies a month.  Now, less than two months after the paperback edition hit bookstores, there are more than half a million copies in print (and another 130,000 hardcovers). This week it is No. 3 on The New York Times paperback non-fiction bestseller list, one notch above Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. And, oh yeah, after a scrum of actresses each suggested they wanted to make it into a film,
Julia Roberts ponied up to the table with a sweet package: a writer, director, producers, a chunk of money, and her own America's Sweetheart face for the starring role of Elizabeth Gilbert.

She exhales a little laugh at the twists her life has taken. "You know, I'm female, and that's the sort of thing I think I kind of forgot when I was in my 20s. I was so intent on being one of the guys, and I certainly didn't identify with the broken-hearted women's market then. I would have had nothing but contempt for it. But personal experience is a mighty humbling teacher, and I now belong to those women as much as I ever belonged to those GQ readers." So what's all the fuss? What's that personal experience she's talking about? Eat, Pray, Love carries the subtitle One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, which sort of sums it up except that it makes the book sound far less smartly self-aware than it is. In early 2001, Gilbert realized she was deeply unhappy in her six-year-old marriage. Monumentally, clinically, suicidally so. She didn't want to have children, didn't want to settle down, didn't want the life she was heading toward. After months of middle-of-the-night crying jags, she worked up the courage to tell her husband she wanted out. He didn't take it well. After more than three years, he and his lawyers let her out, but not before she had to give up most of her worldly possessions, including the Hudson Valley home she had bought with the proceeds of her writing work. At least there was an upside: With nothing holding her down, Gilbert was able to light out for a year-long journey of "reclamation" and "renovation." "I wanted to explore one aspect of myself set against the backdrop of each country, in a place that has traditionally done that one thing very well," she writes in Eat, Pray, Love. "I wanted to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two."

The book is a travelogue of Gilbert's four months in each of those three countries as well as her own interior landscape. She revels in the sensual pleasures of Italy (primarily its food; she'd sworn off sex for the duration of her time there) and its language, which she'd decided to learn simply because of its beauty. In India she stays at an ashram, moving from a neophyte who can't stop her thoughts long enough to meditate to someone who assists others on their spiritual journey. While in Bali, she raises enough money (from her family and friends back home) to buy a plot of land for a single mother about to be rendered homeless. And, oh yes, she finds love. (And some great sex, too.) The strength of Eat, Pray, Love is Gilbert's eminently likeable prose and the way her stance shifts slowly from humorous scepticism to (admittedly less humorous) earnestness. The transition, she says, is reminiscent of when she herself first went to the New York Open Center 10 years ago. "I took my first yoga class when I was really stressed and really confused and really anxious, and I went there half ironically," she laughs. "I went there the way I went into this book -- half sort of rolling my eyes saying, 'I can't believe I'm falling for this freakin' yoga shit,' and halfway, like: 'Save me.' "

"I think the whole New Age movement -- if that's what we're gonna call it -- like many fields, could just use a little bit more irony, you know?" Another laugh. Since returning from her journey two years ago, Gilbert no longer lives in New York. She bought a small deconsecrated church in rural New Jersey, about an hour outside the city, which is perfect since it's close enough that she can pop into the city but far enough away that she's not easily distracted. After living in New York for about 15 years, she no longer feels the need to live here; she's been changed. "I did see my friends sort of differently than I did before I left," she explains. "Not less lovingly but I just suddenly realized: God, they are living at this screaming pace, you know? And sort of howling through their lives with all this relationship pressure and all this work pressure and all this money pressure. I'm not at all the first person to say this or notice this or think it, but travelling to all these places I was saddened by the idea that we are exporting so much more of our pace than we are importing from the places where we oughtta be taking a little bit of a lesson, you know? In Italy now the word "stressato" is common. And that's sort of a new word that everybody says all the time -- because they are. Suddenly they're stressato, just like us. And my friend in Bali is catching it too. It's like a virus."

And Gilbert had her own year of trials after she came back from the journey. Last spring, as she and her new love (who goes by the name Felipe in the book) were flying into the United States, he was detained in Dallas by Homeland Security and sent back home to Australia because they didn't like his visa. They were advised by an agent that the only way around the problem was for the two of them to get married -- which they had sworn up and down they were not interested in. (He too had had a first marriage that exploded.) But at the end of last month, not just resolved to their fate but finally thrilled about the way things had turned out, Gilbert and Felipe tied the knot in their little converted church in rural New Jersey.  And this time she got a pre-nup.

More Cash For Arts – Maybe

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(March 20, 2007) At first glance, the arts seemed cast in the role of big losers in yesterday's federal budget. But reading through the fine print, Toronto cultural leaders were left clutching at hints
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty might have some treats lined up for them – even if they were hidden in rhetorical haze. On the surface, the only bundle of cash for the arts appears to come under the category of $30 million for local arts and heritage festivals across Canada. So far, no one is saying exactly which festivals will be taken care of, and how much any one festival can hope to get. But David Pecaut, co-founder of Luminato – Toronto's new annual festival of arts and creativity – is optimistic that this announcement will translate into at least $2 million annually of federal support. "We take this as a positive sign that the federal government will soon be coming on board to support us," Pecaut said yesterday.  All along, Pecaut and his Luminato partner, Tony Gagliano, have been waiting for Ottawa to match the $2 million of support they have already received from Queen's Park. Without it, it will be hard for Luminato to break even in its initial year, or to be sustainable over the long term.

Meanwhile, there was good news and bad news for Toronto arts institutions that have been kept waiting for more than a year for $49 million of top-up money for six buildings. The bad news: Flaherty did not simply announce he would be writing a cheque for $49 million, although the province of Ontario gave its $49 million share of the money a year ago. The good news: if you look carefully at Flaherty's long-term $33-billion infrastructure plan, it's possible, if not specifically promised, that the $500 million for the first year of the plan could include that $49 million for Toronto's cultural buildings – even though the emphasis seems to be on "things that matter," such as highways, sewer systems and public transit. Does Flaherty include the arts in the category of "things that matter?" He isn't saying. But there is something called the Building Canada Fund, where the emphasis will be on private-public partnerships. "That definition certainly fits nicely with our Toronto cultural projects," says Charles Baillie, president of the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is in the midst of an expansion costing over $200 million. "We're hopeful, and we look forward to making the case for the value of our buildings."

Richard Bradshaw, general director of the Canadian Opera Company, adds: "There is a reference to small-scale culture and recreation projects, and I can't believe it would not include our $49 million request." On a darker note, Flaherty was not in a mood to mark the Canada Council's 50th anniversary this month. Last year, he gave the council a one-time bonus of $50 million over two years. Since then, a standing committee made of MPs from all parties has urged the government to give the council a permanent increase in its funding. "The government had an opportunity to extend sustainable support of the arts," says Micheline McKay, co-chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition. "We are disappointed the government did not seize this opportunity." Meanwhile ACTRA, representing Canada's professional radio and TV performers, issued a statement expressing disappointment that "the Conservative government's second budget has once again failed to increase support for Canada's film and television industry." But even ACTRA can't claim to be surprised about that.


Eight Artists Capture Governor-General Awards

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(March 20, 2007)  The Canada Council for the Arts has announced the eight winners of the 2007
Governor General's Awards in visual and media arts. Toronto residents Ian Carr-Harris and R. Bruce Elder, Winnipeg's Aganetha Dyck, Murray Favro of London, Ont., Montrealer Fernand Leduc and Daphne Odjig of Penticton, B.C., are the recipients of awards for artistic achievement. Ceramist Paul Mathieu of Vancouver will receive the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in the fine crafts, and Torontonian David P. Silcox will be recognized with an outstanding contribution award for his work as a writer, educator, cultural administrator and arts volunteer. Gov.-Gen Michaelle Jean will present the awards to recipients during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday Award winners will take home a $25,000 prize, in addition to original artworks created by New Brunswick ceramist and sculptor Peter Powning.

Mi'kmaq Poet Laureate Rita Joe Dead At 75

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Canadian Press

(Mar. 20, 2007) SYDNEY, N.S. — The woman known as the poet laureate of the Mi'kmaq nation,
Rita Joe, is dead at the age of 75. Her daughter Anne confirmed that the much-honoured writer passed away Tuesday night at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Joe, who just celebrated her birthday last Thursday, was born in Whycocomagh, N.S., in 1932. She had seven books published and was named to the Order of Canada. The Aboriginal Achievement Foundation says Joe tried to counter native stereotypes and her poems and songs reflected not only the pain and plight of her people, but also hope, beauty and understanding. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.



Fab Abs: Extreme Belly Busting Formula!

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

At some point you just have to make a commitment.  Everyone wants a flat and tight abdominal area, but much like earning a PhD, few make the ultimate commitment to work and sacrifice for it.  Unlike a Ph.D, attaining a tight and flat abdominal area is a reality for many, but it does take work and sacrifice. Ugh, awful huh? You want to hear about the easy three-minutes-a-day workout that will get you there, don't you?  It doesn't exist.  If you read my articles often, you know that I place a great deal of emphasis on reducing body fat through a calorie-reduced nutrition program and by incorporating weight training and cardiovascular exercise to stimulate the metabolism.

Abdominal exercises serve to strengthen and tighten the abs, so when your body fat reduces -- you then see the fruits of your labour.  Abdominal work is vital, but it's only part of the formula.  The formula consists of being consistent on your eDiets nutrition plan. Please note: I didn't say perfect, just consistent most days of the week.  You then need to add three to six days of cardiovascular exercise. For those who've been sedentary for a long time, I recommend 15 minutes of cardio on three alternate days per week to start, but you'll need to build from there slowly. As you progress, you'll eventually be doing 30-50 minutes three to six days per week. This will accelerate fat loss, but you need to get into this range gradually.

The third key area of the formula is resistance exercise, otherwise known as weight training.  For every pound of muscle you gain, you will burn 30-50 additional calories per day to support the needs of that extra muscle. Muscle is a fat-burning tool.  Afraid you'll get bulky? You will if you don't lose body fat. However, you'll look lean and tight if you lose fat using the entire formula.  You expected a great abdominal workout I bet. I've written many of them, but every once in awhile I have to set the record straight and help you to remember the foundation -- the formula.  If you don't, you'll be one of those people performing ab crunch after ab crunch wondering why your belly just won't flatten.

I don't want you to be one of those people.  The clients I've trained will all tell you that I take my craft very seriously and one of my greatest joys is helping and watching people transform themselves.  Transformation. That's the real glory -- that's the essence of it.  

As always, please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

"When you develop yourself to the point where your belief in yourself is so strong that you know that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, your future will be unlimited."

— Brian Tracy