May 10, 2007
Well, the May long weekend is just around the corner and hopefully this great weather will hold up!
Don't miss the World Comedy Clash: Mother’s Day Edition with proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society this weekend. Victoria Day weekend offers something special for those that love old skool, Official Toronto WBLK Reunion Party featuring all of your favourite WBLK hosts from back in the day! Get those tickets now as these events sell out - don't miss out!
Mark your calendars for June 6th for the CD release of Kayte Burgess' sophomore album, Checked Baggage! Details below so check it out!
World Comedy Clash: Mother’s Day Edition – May 12 – 13
Source: Ajahmae Live Entertainment and SFS Entertainment
Some of Toronto’s largest communities will expose their cultural differences on stage in a stand-up comedy clash: Trinidad, Jamaica, England, America, India, Barbados, Ghana, Uganda, Canada. This hilarious satire of a friendly rivalry between these 9 countries is performing for two shows at the Panasonic Theatre May 12 and May 13, Mother’s Day weekend. World Comedy Clash: Mother’s Day Edition will allow the audience to laugh as well as learn about the differences in these contrasting cultures through stand-up comedy. “All styles are equally funny,” says Jay Martin / comedian / producer / founder, “Jamaican stand-up is more of a theatrical performance. It’s a more physical comedy while Trinidadian comics are more spontaneous with their humour.”
Martin, who lost his mother 20 years ago, has dedicated this show to mothers across the Greater Toronto Area. In honour of the memory of his mother, World Comedy Clash is donating proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society. This show is appropriate for all ages.
The performers include:
Marc Trinidad, Jean Paul, Trinidad
Drew Thomas, USA
Jay Martin, Trey Anthony, Jamaica
Paul Chouldry, India
Junior Simpson, England
Art Simeon, Uganda
The show will be hosted by Canadian-Jamaican Jay Martin, who was recently named Toronto’s Best New Nubian Comedian. “I also chose Mother’s Day for this show because it’s probably one of the saddest days of the year for mothers who have lost children and children who have lost their mothers.” says Martin.
Founded in 2005, Mothers day Comedy Clash looks to be bigger, bolder and funnier than last year’s sold-out show.
SATURDAY, MAY 12 AND SUNDAY, MAY 13
WORLD COMEDY CLASH: MOTHER’S DAY EDITION COMEDY CLASH
651 Yonge Street (between Bloor and Wellesley)
Tickets are Orchestra - $50.00, Balcony - $40.00
Tickets: call 416.872.1111 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca
All Nappy’s locations and Play De Record (357A Yonge St.)
For more information, please visit: www.comedyclash.com
The Official Toronto WBLK Reunion Party- Sunday, May 20
Source: Consepshun Entertainment
For all of the true old school guru's … remember a radio station out of Buffalo NY that we all used to listen to during the 80's and 90's? Do the names DJ Huk-her, Terri Davis, Al Wood, Debbie Simms and The Magic Man ring a bell? What about a little segment from 10 pm 'til 2 am called the QUIET STORM?
Join us on Victoria Day Long Weekend Sunday featuring all of your favourite WBLK hosts from back in the day: DJ Huk-her, Terri Davis, The Magic Man & Al Wood - (R.I.P. Break-a-Dawn) as well as a fashion show by Jane Pascale showcasing her designer swimwear line Adjua. Music will be provided by DJ Quincy (Ebony Soundcrew), Carl Allen, DJ Wayne (Old School Request Party), The "Mailman" George Fynn and Reddy Fox. The evening will be hosted by comedian Jay Martin.
SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2007
THE OFFICIAL TORONTO WBLK (93.7FM, BUFFALO) REUNION PARTY
and GQ Henderson of MOVE aphrodisiac birthday bash
6 Degrees Night Club (formerly Berlin)
2335 Yonge Street (north of Eglinton)
Dress to impress
Doors open at 9:30 pm
Tickets: $20 in advance
Contact : email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-781-1695 ext. 3 to purchase tickets or see ticket outlet location on the flyer
Kayte Burgess CD Release Party – June 6,
After lots of hard work, Kayte Burgess has finished her sophomore album Checked Baggage. Working with various great producers like Nu Vintage, Adrian Eccleston, 2 Rude, Buddah Brothers and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, this album is a variety of sounds and textures to provide a little something for everybody. Kayte Burgess is one of the hardest working independent artists here in Toronto, and it shows in the new album, so don’t miss the unveiling of this new album, a great live show and a chance to catch Kayte before she heads south. Also be sure to catch the opening act of Voices Of The Underground featuring Wade O. Brown, Ammoye, Henrii, Thomas Reynolds and Dane Hartsell performing their original material as only they can, don’t miss it!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2007
KAYTE BURGESS CD RELEASE PARTY
783 College St. (College and Shaw)
10:00 pm opening act - The voices of the underground
11:00 pm Kayte Burgess
$5 @ Door
$15 for admission and CD
::JUST MY OPINION::
Customer Service - Light at the End of
No sooner do I complain about poor customer service spitting all over my world than do I receive some of the most generous and kind offerings from people in the customer service industry - NOT the same companies that I had dealt with previously though. Here are some places and people I've come across with exceptional, and I mean exceptional, customer service from various aspects of different industries:
Car #1294 - Maple Leaf Taxi - REQUEST HIM - Kemal - 416.465.5555 - he's unbelievable with courteous, prompt and professional service - even those early morning runs to the airport. I use him weekly. I can give you his direct cell # should you wish.
Neo Set Furniture Store - they custom make furniture for you in a very cool and modern design. This is what is special - included in the price of your purchase is a home visit to assess your space with their suggestions, delivery and installation of the furniture! http://www.neosetcanada.com/
Furniture Bank - in buying new furniture, I had older furniture that I wanted to donate to some sort of shelter. They are one of the ONLY companies now that pick up furniture - there are plenty of drop off places but no one picks up used furniture anymore. What happens is that you call them and leave a message - within 48 hours they will return the call, and set up a date to have the furniture picked up. They do, however, ask for a donation as well. www.furniturebank.org
You've probably also heard the stories about the excellent customer service at Sleep Country Canada. Well, I'm a believer. Not only did they give me a discounted price because I had an awful experience with the Brick sleep warehouse, but they also are the ones that told me both about Furniture Bank and Neo Set! They are well versed in the world of customer service and ensuring that their customers are well taken care of - from the ordering stage, right to delivery and follow up. My guy was Kirk at Sleep Country at King and Yonge!
So, there you have it. Those companies that do not practice good customer service will feel the hit with customer loyalty and return business. Those that do, will feel the benefit of it - especially from me!
And that's just my opinion.
Tyler Perry In Need Of Great Singers
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough
(May 7, 2007) And now…a message from playwright/filmmaker/actor Tyler Perry:
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.... Okay, so everywhere I go people are always asking me, "Tyler, how can I get in one of your plays, your movies or even on House of Payne?" So here's what I've decided to do. You know that I love great singers and most of the people that I work with are singers. If you are a SINGER (SINGERS ONLY--no poetry, no rap--SINGERS ONLY) and you think that you have what it takes to be in one of my shows here is what you need to do. Please follow these instructions very carefully because we have set a system in place. So you have to follow them to the letter.
1. Send a video of you singing one song.
2. The song must be sung a cappella--no music, no tracks, no band--just your voice.
3. Before you start to sing the song you must say your full name, phone number and age.
4. You must be 18 years or older by May 18, 2007.
5. The song that you sing has to be either from one of my plays or one of my movies (no exceptions).
6. You are the only one that can be on the video.
7. The video must be in either VHS tape format or DVD 8. Mail the video via regular US Mail. No Fedex, No UPS, No registered mail.
The mailing address to send the mail to is:
TYLER PERRY STUDIOS
541 10th St. PMB 122
ATLANTA GA 30318
Sorry your videos WILL NOT BE RETURNED TO YOU.
NO FEDEX OR REGISTERED MAIL ONLY REGULAR MAIL
Also your image and video may be used on a live taping of one of my shows. The contest deadline is May 18, 2007 and we must have all videos in by then and they will not be accepted after that date. All of the best videos will be reviewed by me personally. The top ten will be invited to Atlanta for the final competition where all ten contestants will get a chance to compete. Everyone will also get a chance to vote online at TylerPerry.com in the upcoming weeks.
This is going to be FUN!!! Okay, let me hear from you.
By the way I DO NOT HAVE A MYSPACE PAGE. The only way to get to me is on my message board at http://TylerPerry.com/messageboard
Lula Lounge Is Celebrating Its Fifth Anniversary In Style
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry
(May 3, 2007) Since it opened in 2002, Lula Lounge has always done things in a big way. It launched as a Latin dance club, but one that soon threw its doors open to jazz and world music. And a recent facelift that included the requisite paint job and refreshed menu was topped off by a snazzy exterior sign that has quickly become a west-end beacon. So, of course, the club's five-year anniversary celebration, which kicks off tonight, is no mere one-night stand. The party continues for 16 days. "There are so many partners and communities we work with, it was impossible to just do a weekend," explained general manager Tracy Jenkins. "The first two years, we (marked the anniversary) with one big salsa show, but it didn't feel adequate." The Lula World Festival will represent 25 countries and feature many of its regular performers in unique combinations. "The same as always, but on steroids," explained co-owner Jose Ortega. "We are commissioning shows that people won't see the rest of the year." For example, the May 12 tribute to late conga master Ray Barretto will feature local band members from Cache, Proyecto Charanguero and Cimarrón alongside New York's Ralph Irizarry to showcase the Nuyorican style of Latin jazz and salsa. Then on May 19, a super-band, dubbed Havana Norte 2007, including Cuban salsa and timba players from Son Ache, Tipica Toronto, Café Cubana, Clave Kings and Black Market, takes the stage.
And the festival will also showcase the "cross-pollination" that partner Jose Nieves believes defines the destination. "We're trying to open people's minds," he said. "There's nothing I like better than seeing some of the salsa crowd showing up at a Persian dance party; or watching a singer like Lady Son who has Nigerian-Italian heritage and is immersed in Cuban music." On May 18 Canadian indie rock group Apostle of Hustle promises "groove-based rock with a Latin backbone" while May 9 finds trumpeter David Buchbinder and pianist Hilario Duran debuting their new klezmer-Cuban project. Located in Little Portugal on Dundas St. W. near Dufferin St., Lula Lounge grew out of jam sessions fellow artists Ortega and Nieves held at their respective studios on nearby Federal St. The club was named for Ortega's dog, a pound mutt whom he believes is symbolic of the venue and Toronto's future: "the merging of distinct flavours until they become mainstream." "Our staff alone speaks about a dozen different languages," said the Ecuador-born, New York-raised Ortega, noting the many cross-cultural hook-ups and actual marriages he has seen unfold among patrons and employees. But Toronto's Latin music headquarters went through some lean times, including a post-SARS slump in 2003-04 when events were only programmed on the weekends. "From the beginning we knew it was a successful concept," said Ortega, adding that the partners have had to either take out loans or put their own money in every year to keep the business going, "but we are only now just hitting that critical mass of an audience that knows us and keeps coming out and supporting us."
The destination has received a major boost this year through its affiliation with the city's high-profile Luminato festival in June and collaboration with CBC Radio Two for live broadcasts, but will be facing the challenge of street closures due to the laying of TTC tracks later this year, he pointed out. The funky venue has 20 staff and boasts tangerine- and lemon-coloured walls and eye-catching saris as tablecloths, but next to the stellar line-up of talent, its greatest asset is chef Derek Crinson and his unique menu of tropical fusion. "We have a waiting list for dinner on Saturday nights," said Ortega. "We're selling more food than alcohol, which is weird for a nightclub." Last year, the Lula partners helped start a business improvement association to beautify the area and promote safety. With city funding, the group cleaned up the nearby Dundas St. W.-St. Clarens Parkette and added plants and a mural designed by Ortega, an illustrator and public artist. That prompted Lula's makeover and Ortega's marquee sign with the Coca-Cola-style script. "We felt the onus was on us," said Nieves. "And we wanted more of a presence on the street. The erstwhile loft parties that birthed Lula actually grew out of the realtor's own social inadequacies. "I started out wanting to learn to dance in the comfort of my own home and (tenant Ortega) organized salsa lessons for us," he explained. Soon up to 50 people, including neighbour Jenkins, were participating. Those classes evolved into a non-profit arts collective called Open City that hosted poetry readings, jazz jams and art exhibitions. When those massive parties outgrew the loft, they opted against a Kensington Market locale and purchased the Portuguese banquet hall within walking distance. It's all worked out, said Nieves, who these days is cutting the rug with his Colombian girlfriend (they met at Lula, of course). "Hey, I know there are lots of people out there who experience the same uncertainty that I felt. Maybe this can be an inspiration."
Just the facts
What: Lula Lounge 5th anniversary
When: Today to May 20
Where: 1585 Dundas St. W.
Tickets: free to $25. Info and tickets at 416-588-0307 and LulaLounge.ca
Dead To Us
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic
(May 05, 2007) As the cottage carnage reaches its climax in the final scenes of Evil Dead: The Musical, there's only one man left standing – chainsaw at the ready – to repel the never-ending onslaught of Candarian demons. That man is Ryan Ward. The torrents of stage blood stream off his newly acquired biceps, and when he brazenly screams, "Time to start kicking some demon ass!" it's clear his vocal coaches have done their job really well. The slim, quiet, unassuming 28-year-old actor from Winnipeg has become every zombie's worst nightmare – and what a journey it's been. On Tuesday Evil Dead: The Musical will open at the Diesel Playhouse on Blue Jays Way after a week in previews. The performance is the culmination of more than four years' work. From a beer-soaked collegiate sketch at the Tranzac Club, through the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and on to a six-month run off-Broadway, the dream has always been to have a big, glossy production take place in Toronto. Apart from the hard-core creative team (George Reinblatt, Christopher Bond and Frank Cipolla), now that the dream is coming true there are only two other people who have gone the total distance. One clutches his chainsaw; the other holds on for dear life to his BlackBerry. Ward is the onstage constant, the dude who has played the central role of Ash in every one of the show's incarnations.
But lurking off to the side, just past the non-stop streams of blood, is producer Jeffrey Latimer: the one who believed. "I got a phone call in the summer of 2003 from a guy I had gone to camp with," Latimer recalls. "His name was George Reinblatt and he said he'd called me because I was the only theatre person he knew." The two of them met on a park bench, and a clearly embarrassed Reinblatt hesitantly suggested, "We've stumbled on something and I don't know what we have." Latimer promised to come down to the Tranzac Club that night and check it out. Reinblatt's "something" was a crazy musical version of Sam Raimi's cult horror movies Evil Dead I and II. Together, with fellow Queen's University buds Bond, Cipolla and Melissa Morris, Reinblatt had flung the show together for their own amusement, utilizing a lot of university friends to fill the cast. The one exception was the leading part of Ash, a nice guy who turns into demon destroyer. At the open auditions, in walked Ward, who imagined the whole thing was probably just one big joke. "To be honest, I thought it would suck," he now admits. "I thought it was just a bunch of dorks putting on a show, but I needed something to do before my last year at Ryerson began.
"When I actually read it, I was amazed. I thought, `Man, this is pretty good.'" A lot of other people thought so, too. Latimer recalls that first steamy night in August when he arrived at the theatre near curtain time to discover hundreds of people milling around outside. "I told George this wasn't how things were done in professional theatre," Latimer says. "I said, `You let everybody in a half-hour ahead of time.'" Reinblatt grinned at Latimer and said, "The theatre's full, dude; these people are all just waiting to see if there are any cancellations." And that's how it went. "We were blown away by the response," Ward remembers. "There were line-ups (from Brunswick Ave.) down to Bloor St. for every performance."
Latimer instantly sensed the potential of what was happening. "I'd never heard an audience having this much fun in the theatre in years. I knew we had to do something with this." But what? That was the trick question. With its over-the-top mixture of sexy jokes and gory special effects, it didn't exactly seem a likely candidate for CanStage or Mirvish Productions. Latimer moved slowly. First came another run at the Tranzac Club in October 2003, to which the critics were invited. At the time, I wrote that "with a bit of work, this show could go places." "I still have that on my BlackBerry," Latimer confesses. "It kept me going through a lot of hard times." After much rewriting with the authors and some strategic planning, they made the wise choice of opening at Just For Laughs in the summer of 2004. "That was an amazing experience," Latimer says. "Producers came from all over North America wanting us to tour it, but we felt it needed some sort of real theatre street cred first." That's when the journey to off-Broadway began, and Ryan Ward wondered if he would get dumped along the way. (Most of the original Tranzac Club cast was replaced for Montreal.) "I was really afraid of that happening, but when I phoned up and asked if I still had my role, they laughed and said, `Dude, who else could play it?'" Still, when the decision was made to go off-Broadway, Ward had to audition for the show's new co-director/choreographer, three-time Tony Award winner Hinton Battle.
"I flew in at 6 a.m. but I didn't get to audition until 2 p.m.," Ward remembers. "I was one of the walking dead by then. The most terrifying part was standing outside, listening to these Broadway guys blowing the roof off." But he got the role and the show opened to generally favourable reviews, with The New York Times calling it "The next Rocky Horror Picture Show" and Variety christening it "a ridiculous amount of fun." But sales never built rapidly enough. "Most off-Broadway shows lose money for a year and then click," explains Latimer. "We just couldn't afford that." So they lasted six months and headed back to Toronto, which had been their goal all along. "I think this is the perfect place and the perfect time to do this show in Toronto," exults Latimer. Ward admits, "This is the big Toronto production that we always wanted to do. It's finally getting to the place where we always thought it should be." When you head down to the Diesel Playhouse to laugh at the musical-comedy splatter-fest going on every night, you won't be able to miss Ward: he's the dude standing centre stage, waving the chainsaw. But look offstage as well for a guy in a grey suit, smiling at the onstage goings-on, while tapping nervously at his BlackBerry; that would be Jeffrey Latimer. The two of them have both been through a lot to get Evil Dead: The Musical to Toronto – and they plan to have a killer time while it's here.
Just the facts
What: Evil Dead: The Musical
When: Tuesday to June 23
Where: Diesel Playhouse, 56 Blue Jays Way
Tickets: 416-971-5656 or www.evildeadthemusical.com
Africa Will Host World Cup: FIFA
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Rick Matsumoto
(May 08, 2007) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Only a natural catastrophe would cause the 2010 World Cup to be moved from South Africa, FIFA president Sepp Blatter says. Last week Blatter said the international governing body had to consider contingency plans, including countries capable of hosting the sport's showpiece tournament on short notice in case of a disaster. But he dismissed concerns about South Africa's ability to host the World Cup when he met Tuesday with delegates at the Asian Football Confederation's congress. "I can tell you that if there is no catastrophe which is a natural catastrophe, then the World Cup 2010 will definitely be organized and played in South Africa," he said. In an earlier BBC interview, Blatter said "we definitely must have a possibility to go somewhere else." He had listed the United States, England, Japan, Spain, Mexico and Australia as potential alternatives.
FIFA would "always have contingency plans somewhere . . . but the World Cup 2010 will not be taken away from South Africa," he explained Tuesday. "This is my last statement on that." South Africa won a vote in 2004 for the right to host the World Cup, but has faced logistical problems in overhauling its transport system, updating infrastructure and boosting hotel capacity to cope with the expected influx of visitors. There are also concerns that the stadiums will not be ready, with a proposed key venue in Cape Town proving problematic due to a combination of political infighting and court challenges. Local organizing chief Danny Jordaan has repeatedly said that South Africa is on, if not ahead of, schedule. South African officials also say they will tighten security to fight crime and protect visitors.
· Vision and Leadership
· Innovation and Achievement
· Community Involvement and Contribution
· Growth / Development Strategy
The following titles and company names reflect positions held at the time of receiving the award.
John S. Chambers
Brendan J. Frey
Patrick B. Keeley
Johann O. Koss
Samir A. Manji
Dr. Mark O'Dea
Dr. Aaron D. Schimmer
Jeff Sharpe and Matt
Alim A. Somani
Jon David F. Stanfield
Dr. Susan L. Tighe
Mark D. Wiseman
Ne-Yo Scores Second #1 Album Debut, Because of You
Source: Universal Music
( May 9, 2007) Grammy-nominated Def Jam recording artist and chart topping songwriter Ne-Yo has scored his second #1 career debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart with his second album, Because Of You, which arrived in stores on May 1st. The album sold over 200,000 copies in its first week of release and has debuted at the #3 spot on the digital chart. Because Of You is the follow-up to Ne-Yo’s RIAA platinum-selling debut album In My Own Words, which hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, and was nominated for a Grammy as Best Contemporary R&B Album. Ne-Yo capped 2006 when he was named Male R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards. Because Of You was propelled to #1 position by the hit single “Because Of You,” which is Top 10 on both the R&R (Radio & Records) BDS Urban and M.Base/Urban charts. The second single pick from the album, “Do You,” will hit radio later this month.
After making TV appearances on ABC’s Live with Regis & Kelly, NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, PBS’s The Tavis Smiley Show, and CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Ne-Yo is now preparing for an 18-city nationwide tour in support of his #1 album. Dates begin on May 31st at The Norva in Norfolk , Virginia , extended through July 5th at Six Flags in San Antonio , Texas . Opening for Ne-Yo will be R&B crooner, Trey Songz. Most recently, Ne-Yo was credited as co-writer of Beyoncé’s hit single, “Irreplaceable.” As noted in the January 20th issue of Billboard, “Irreplaceable” had just made its best audience week, which was the #2 highest total audience impressions in Nielsen- BDS history (i.e. since 1992). The song with the #3 all-time highest audience total was also co-written by Ne-Yo – namely Mario’s “Let Me Love You.”
Ne-Yo has founded The Compound Foundation which is committed to service at risk and disadvantaged youth. In addition to building two new group homes in the Atlanta area, The Compound Foundation will sponsor performances, motivational speakers and mentorship opportunities with leaders and business people within the community.
Critical raves for Because Of You:
“The first single and title track is a jaunty ode to addictive love, that could easily be an Off The Wall-era leftover. Then on the breezy tune, ‘Crazy,’ label boss Jay-Z states plainly: ‘Ne-Yo's like young Michael/ I'm Quincy Hov.’ Ne-Yo's Prince moments - the rousing ‘Addicted’ and the piano-driven ‘Sex With My Ex’ - both sizzle with loads of bedroom boasting but without seeming crass.” (Associated Press)
“Ne-Yo’s sunny, fluid tenor and the wistfully romantic, infectious tunes he co-writes will bring fans of a certain age back to a time in pop music and pop culture that seems, in retrospect, endearingly guileless.” (USA TODAY)
Sax Master Rollins Still Has The Chops
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic
(May 07, 2007) Never mind what you've heard about the twilight years, 76-year-old sax giant Sonny Rollins delivered an inspiring performance Saturday night at an historic venue befitting his legendary status. On his fourth date since emerging from a four-month winter respite in rural New York, Rollins cut a majestic figure at Massey Hall. Clad in a navy suit, ruby shirt and wearing sunglasses, he was accompanied by bassist Bob Cranshaw, trombone player Clifton Anderson, drummer Kobie Watkins, guitarist Bobby Broom and Kimati Dinizulu on percussion. With a call to action from Dinizulu's African rhythms, they launched into the title track of Rollins' current Grammy-nominated album, Sonny, Please. The master stalked the stage, albeit limping slightly, and surrendered the first solo to Anderson's lovely burr before delving into his own grab bag of ideas. With his horn alternately singing and honking and squealing, Rollins dissected the original tune's hypnotic statement but stayed true to its melody, circling back to it surprisingly often for one noted as jazz's greatest living improviser. That approach was sympathetic to the rapt, respectful audience since he didn't announce titles, drawn mostly from Sonny, Please and 1996's Sonny Rollins Plus Three in the 2 1/2-hour set. On later songs, such as Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," his up to 25-minute tangents went farther afield, but were no less logical or expressive.
Rollins, who debuted as a headliner in 1951 and collaborated with the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, played with a sense of urgency not echoed by the musicians around him – puzzling when you consider the stellar line-up of players aching to accompany him. Only Dinizulu matched the verve and humour of the tenor titan, who shook his fists triumphantly at the end of several songs and closed two tunes with the "shave and a haircut, two bits" riff. While ample solo time was afforded the subtle Broom and nephew Anderson, the rhythm section was highlighted through call-and-response segments with Rollins. But what this ensemble, including 50-year Rollins collaborator Cranshaw, lacks in individual firepower is assuaged by the steady, cohesive backdrop they provide for their leader. With this jazz icon only scheduling about two dozen annual concerts now, it's a shame the hall was only 75 per cent full and that several patrons continued to take pictures after he asked them not to.
Q-Tip Strikes High Note In 'Hip Hop
Source: The Catalyst Group, Leyla Turkkan, LeylaTurkkan@aol.com , Ellen Zoe Golden, EllenZoe@aol.com, Marilyn Lopez, email@example.com
(May 7, 2007) (NEW YORK, New York) - Recently in Manhattan, in the midst of the controversial hip-hop maelstrom, where the music of the streets finds itself maligned for its gruff lyrical contest, machismo and misogynist posturing, hip-hop trailblazer Q-Tip, reminded the world that this particular art form has also been a force for hope, and a facilitator of dreams for global youth. As associate producer, Q-Tip hosted the world premier of "THE HIP HOP PROJECT," along with one of the film's executive producers-Bruce Willis-in front of a packed City Cinema house in New York. (Queen Latifah, the movie's other executive producer, was unable to attend). Q-Tip is currently in the midst of wrapping up work on his new album The Renaissance (scheduled for release on Motown/Universal Records in late Summer/Early Fall 2007). Featuring fellow musicians as D'Angelo, Common and Outkast's Andre 3000, this album has been described as a "return to his A Tribe Called Quest hip hop roots" which, like the message in the film, will be rooted in positive messages and personal empowerment. "THE HIP HOP PROJECT" is told through the eyes of the teenage Kazi, previously homeless, yet he inspires a group of New York City youths to transform their life stores into powerful works of art, using hip hop as a vehicle for self-discovery and redemption. Created by Matt Ruskin, Scott K. Rosenberg, and Chris "Kazi" Rolle, the film attracted Q-Tip and Willis because of its model for young people to express themselves using hip hop.
"These negative connotations that are placed on this culture, on this music, are not the total truth," Q-Tip explained at the "THE HIP HOP PROJECT" premiere. "Hip hop is a lot of introspection, a lot of self discovery. I hope after you see this film you are able to see another side to what we do and how we do things, that when we come from a place of oppression or depression how we are able to metamorphous like a butterfly and change and see the beauty in ourselves and spread that beauty. I think this film embodies that." Bruce Willis chimed in, furthering Q-Tip's comments: "I really thought it was a great idea to help Kazi create a space for the people that he knows and have been in his life to come together, create and express themselves artistically in a safe place and with first class equipment. I think we accomplished that beyond anybody's dreams. All the proceeds from the film are going to go to non profit organizations. That was Kazi's idea, he's a really cool kid. I'm really proud of him" According to the filmmakers at the Q&A that followed the premiere, the content of "THE HIP HOP PROJECT" impacted the MPAA appeals board so strongly that it has just overturned the movie's original R rating in order to broaden the audience access, allowing teenagers to see this important story. Also in attendance at "THE HIP HOP PROJECT," premiere were rap luminary (and star of "Law & Order") Ice-T, rap powerhouse Busta Rhymes, and the outspoken critic of some of hip hop, Rev. Al Sharpton.
"Q-Tip has been a positive leader in hip hop and one of the most creative and versatile artists' voices for over a decade. He has always been at the forefront of everything that is positive in the hip hop community," Rev Sharpton said. "As associate producer on 'THE HIP HOP PROJECT,' again, Q-Tip reached out and helped kids like Kazi change their lives with the meaningful and positive messages that hip hop can touch, teach and serve our communities. We need more Q-Tips in the world of hip hop today elevating and reaching out to our communities in a positive way." "THE HIP HOP PROJECT" will open May 11th in theatres nationwide. To download hi-res images, visit: www.reybee.com/qtip/HHP_images/
Even With Timbaland, Bjork Is Bjork
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green
(May 8, 2007) Yes, I know, it was a shock to hear that someone as defiantly wayward as Bjork would hire a producer as fashionable as Timbaland, whose other clients this year include Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. But this record is not like theirs - or should I say, like his, considering how deftly Timbaland sucked those stars into his own creative orbit. Bjork remains her own odd self, like a comet that streaks by at regular intervals but may be quite different from one visit to the next. Volta is her closest approach yet to the pop mainstream, though aside from the two or three songs that everyone will talk about, she's still a shaman who can intone a bit of song till it sounds like a hymn that humankind isn't old enough to remember. Timbaland's thumbprint is all over the opening Earth Intruders, which stomps around on squidgy beats and a battery of junkyard percussion. The track's emphatic style masks the ambiguity of its subject: Gaia's revenge, or the arrival of more despoiling bipeds? On Innocence, Timbaland confronts the contemplative text with a barrage of syncopated beats and grunts. Bjork's full-on singing sounds perfectly at home, though it's the kind of track she could have recorded with no idea of what her producer would do.
The album's most startling number is one of several made with her long-time collaborator Mark Bell: Declare Independence, an electro-punk rouser that makes Bjork sound like close kin to Propagandhi. The most beautiful moments come in the duets with Antony Hegarty, whose tremulous male alto feels like an external emanation of Bjork's angelic side. But you have to be a real fan of Bjork's particular kind of stasis to think the stately The Bull Flame of Desire needs to go on for more than seven minutes. And that's what she always gravitates toward: a state of worshipful entropy, in this case (and in Pneumonia as well) emphasized by the hymn-like refrain and a brass band. The funny thing about Bjork's long association with beat-oriented producers is that her singing doesn't really concern itself with beats. Her voice tends to drape itself across whatever's happening in the instrumentals, as if she were a swimmer floating on waves whose actual form is unimportant. Her delirious child-woman autonomy is what we savour. The beats are there to remind us that we are still breathing.
Quebec Pianist On The Cutting Edge
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Terauds, Classical Music Critic
(May 4, 2007) Only still flirting with turning 30, Montreal-based David Jalbert is proving to be a comer. In short order, he should be able to join the elect group of Canadian piano stars such as Marc-André Hamelin and Angela Hewitt on the international scene. He was at the Jane Mallett Theatre last night to present an intense and eclectic program of works that showed off a wide-ranging musical imagination, phenomenal technique and an unerring lightness of being. Getting slotted in Music Toronto's "contemporary classics" recital series gave Jalbert wide latitude in choosing what he was going to play. What we got was at once cutting edge musically and a throwback to the 19th century, when pianists would program according to their mood and heartstrings rather than an intellectual argument. The cutting edge came from the world premiere of Colour Study in Rupak Taal, written especially for Jalbert by Sri Lankan-born Dinuk Wijeratne, his Juilliard schoolmate and now resident conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia. Colour Study was so appropriate to 21st-century urban Canada, where cultures collide, as classical Indian music met the Western concert stage. The bulk of the piece is, in Western terms, a seamless series of variations on a seven-note ground bass, topped by a (hopefully) ironic nod to the cliché virtuoso-firework concert ending. The pianist paired this piece with piano fireworks by that master of 19th-century Romantic cheese, Franz Liszt. Flitting overtop the bucketfuls of notes in Spanish Rhapsody, Jalbert, a lanky, limber-wristed player, tossed the piece off with seeming ease.
Judging from the other main pieces on the bill, the Quebecer has an affinity for making light of technical challenges, shaping piles of black dots on each page of a score into easy-to-grasp musical shapes. It all began with veteran American composer John Corigliano's Étude Fantasy from 1976 – a series of five technical exercises that leave most interpreters drenched in sweat. For Jalbert, it appeared to be more of a light warm-up, and rarely has the piece sounded so lyrical. The same was true for the Sonata No. 5 by Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915). Like Hamelin, who has been an eloquent champion of early 20th-century works by people such as Nikolai Medtner, Jalbert made sense of the composer's turgid twitches in and out of tonal reverie. There were also beautiful interpretations of two Nocturnes by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), in a nod to Jalbert's latest CD. But why was a little Mozart Rondo (in F Major, K. 494) on such a program? It certainly wasn't a moment of respite for Jalbert because, faced with simple melodic lines and straightforward articulated chords, he tensed up. His posture became rigid, his fingers stiff. He clearly should have stuck to the tough stuff.
To Blues With Sex And Gusto
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(May 08, 2007) In the photo on the cover of veteran folk-rock producer Joe Boyd's much-praised 1960s musical memoir White Bicycles, a young Maria d'Amato, the only female in a group of very serious young male folkies, stares off into the distance, uninterested in her immediate surroundings. Her dark hair is bundled up beneath a head scarf, and her expression contains not a hint of the sexual playfulness that would become an enduring trademark for the seductively suggestive blues singer, a signature feature of the giant 1974 hit "Midnight At the Oasis." You can see some of that earthiness elsewhere in the book, in a black-and-white photo shot in 1963 featuring d'Amato holding a fiddle, while Greenwich Village folk boomers Bob Neuwirth and Tex Isley strum guitars at her side. In a loose sweater, with one shoulder dropped and her hair falling in ringlets, she could pass for a vamp in the making, a younger, more innocent version of the seasoned sex queen Maria Muldaur embodies on the just-released CD Naughty, Bawdy & Blue. It's a collection of down-and-dirty blues and jazz classics made famous in the 1930s and '40s by the likes of Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey and Ma Rainey. "It's my tribute to early female blues artists from the Ragtime and Dixieland era: sexually liberated women who used wit and humour when they sang about their experiences and the skills of their lovers," Muldaur said in a recent phone interview from her tour bus outside Peoria, Ill.
With a four-piece jazz band, Muldaur is performing tonight and tomorrow night at Hugh's Room. "This is not folk music or country blues," she added, referring to her 2002 Grammy-nominated Richland Woman Blues. "These are the gals who mentored me through the records I used to listen to when I babysat for my neighbours. They got to play with the best bands in America in vaudeville theatres and uptown dance halls. "They were not furtive women. They sang with gusto, and they enjoyed playing with sexual imagery, which was a lot more clever back then than it is now." Naughty, Bawdy & Blue, she pointed out, is part of a trilogy that began with Richland Woman Blues and includes the follow-up, Sweet Lovin' Ol' Soul (Old Highway 61 Revisited). But in many ways it's a continuation of a theme that began with the salacious novelty ditties she used to sing in Boston and New York in the early 1960s with The Even Dozen Jug Band and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Those outfits included a stunning array of fledgling talent, including Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian, Blood Sweat & Tears' Steve Katz, as well as singer/guitarist Geoff Muldaur (her first husband) and Toronto-born guitar wizard Amos Garrett. Dylan used to hang around them, picking up ideas. "Every time I bump into Dylan he starts nagging me about my fiddle," she said. "He used to watch me playing all that Appalachian and Carter Family stuff, but I put the fiddle away; I just didn't have time to keep it up." As for "Midnight At The Oasis," the song that made her a household name and fastened her reputation as a cross-genre mistress of cunning innuendo, Muldaur has nothing but affection after all these years. "I do it at every show. I've done 34 albums in 33 years since I recorded that song and believe me, I know it's the one I can never leave out of the set. People want to hear it. It stirs up X-rated memories for them. It gives them pleasure."
Sterling Debut 'Worth' The Wait: New Def
Jam Artist Preps Disc
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough
(May 7, 2007) *Def Jam's relative newcomer Sterling Simms is preparing his debut disc with some heavy-hitting singles reminiscent of '80s popular music. The CD titled "Worth Your While" is set to be released soon and has R&B fans already taking notice. The first single from the Atlanta transplant by way of Philly is called "Nasty Girl." The sexy track is making its way on the airwaves and video hot spots even in the midst of the music industry's lyrical content controversy. Simms assures that with this track there's not much to worry about. "All artists have a responsibility to our listeners," he said. "We are the voice of the people. When we speak, we speak not only of things that we're feeling, but of things going on around us. I can definitely feel where people are coming from. In some ways, we should watch ourselves and watch how we deliver things and portray things. 'Nasty Girl', I think, is still innocent. It's sexy, but done with class." He described that the song is about the girl in the club that gets a lot of attention on the dance floor. "[When] you're in the club there's always the one girl on the floor that's doing slightly too much, but not so much that it comes off offensive. It's just enough to catch your eye. She's dancing and she's into the music, she's feeling good, and she's feeling sexy. That's the girl that I'm talking about."
Simms likens most of his music and the "Nasty Girl" track in particular to the styles of mega '80s artists Michael Jackson and Prince. He explained to EUR's Lee Bailey that he's a part of the faction of artists leaning toward that era of loud clothes and fun music. "I'm trying to take it back to that '80s and early '90s era," he said. "Back when music felt good and it was full of fun. I think over the years, music has gotten a little too serious." Simms counts the King of Pop and his Purple Highness as some of his influences, in addition to Teddy Riley, Guy, New Edition, and Boyz II Men. "If you listen to those records right now, at any party, it's gonna feel great. It's just where music was and I think music is going back to that. If you listen to the Diddy and Keisha Cole record; if you listen to Ne-Yo, it's that same fun, timeless feel. That's where it's going back." Even though Simms believes music has gotten too serious, he realizes the importance of getting serious in his career. He shared that he wasn't always the responsible and mature man he is to day. He attributes much of his 'growing up' to his mother and grandfather, and to his native Philadelphia and new home of Atlanta.
"You have to get serious at some point in your life," he said. "It's good to have fun, but life is short and you have to get serious. When my career started taking shape, that's when I started getting serious. Philly made me the man I am, and Atlanta cultivated the artist." The self-proclaimed Atlantadelphian considers himself a live-and-learn type and attributes his growing pains to the fact that he always had to test the waters. "If you tell me not to play with fire, the moment you turn your back, I'm going to figure out why you told me not to play with fire," he laughed. One thing he did figure out was music. His grandfather was a musician and had a studio in his basement, where Simms cultivated his love for the art. "I've always loved music. I've always wanted to do music. I thought, if I spent my life on music, I wouldn't be mad. [My grandfather] was always on my back to do music. It was really a dream of my family. There are so many people in my family that do music; the list goes on and on. I'm the first one to really get this far, but now I'm getting a lot of new cousins." New cousins are about the only new thing in Simms career. The singer has been in the music scene for quite some time, although his Def Jam debut is the biggest move to date. He signed with Def Jam last year, but before that, he had a recording contract with Midnight Marauders (through Sony) though he didn't get much attention on the boutique label and ended up taking off his artist hat to focus just on songwriting.
"We were a small label and we weren't generating any money for the company, so we were one of the companies that got cut back," he said. "I was kind of forced to start all over again. When that happened, it was like a turning point. I was tired of the ups and downs and pressures of being an artist, so I started just writing again. I was discouraged as an artist." Fortunately for his fans, the story didn't end. Simms began working with different producers in the Atlanta area as a writer and ran into a producer named Teddy Bishop who has worked with Toni Braxton and Jagged Edge, to name a few. "We were writing some joints for Tyrese at the time and I demo out all my records when I write them. He came into the studio and heard about four or five records and asked, 'Who wrote 'em? And who's singing 'em?'" Once he learned that Simms was the singer on the records, he convinced him to return to singing. And the rest ... To learn more check out his on and poppin' hot track "Nasty Girl," go to http://www.myspace.com/sterlingsimms.
Monkeys Get On With It
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic
(May 08, 2007) A frantic energy seems to permeate everything to do with the Arctic Monkeys – their music, their initial, Internet-borne rush to notoriety two years ago, the pace of their record sales – so it would have been rather out of character for the band to approach its second album mired in the sophomore anguish so typical of "overnight" rock stars. No, Favourite Worst Nightmare arrived last month slightly more than a year after the Sheffield youngsters' hit debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not and accompanied by none of the usual tales of scrapped studio sessions, writer's block and torturous experiments in artistic self-reinvention. Even a switch in bass players, to new kid Nick O'Malley, whipped past without a second thought. "We like making albums and we like being in the studio, so we were excited to make another one, really," says front man Alex Turner. "At least people want another one." That's putting it mildly. While its first-week U.K. sales didn't quite match the record-setting 360,000 copies notched by Whatever in February 2006, Favourite Worst Nightmare blasted onto the top of the U.K. charts upon release two weeks ago with sales of more than 220,000 units. Every track on the record also found its way onto the U.K. singles chart thanks to some recent changes in how digital downloads are stirred into the rankings.
However dense and vivid a slice-of-life wordsmith he might be on the Monkeys' lyric sheets, though, Turner in conversation could be considered doubly laconic, given that the requisite Brit-pop-star detachment is exacerbated by his mere 21 years of age. His disinterest in talking about himself, in fact, is on par with that of The Streets' Mike Skinner, another renowned young lyricist to whom Turner is occasionally compared. Ambling about San Francisco while enjoying a strawberry/banana smoothie, he's reluctant to lay claim to the very real place in pop history the Monkeys now occupy by taking a route to success that no record-company boardroom would have dared endorse two years ago: by giving away CDs for free and letting fans upload their music willy-nilly to the Net. According to conventional indie wisdom, they should have crashed and burned at the cash registers. "Obviously, I've had a wonderful time," he says diffidently, "but we're not living what everyone else sees in, like, magazines or stories or whatever. We don't live our lives through magazines. It's more like (we see) things immediately in front of us.... The life in front of me, I just get on with." It was, thus, quite easy for the Monkeys to get on with the business of making another album after months of relentless touring for Whatever wrapped up last year.
They'd been stockpiling songs the whole time, says Turner, and the simple fact that the quartet had played hundreds of shows in a very short period of time determined the direction the album would take. "Naturally, I think, we just got a bit heavier," he says. "Like, when we'd be playing during sound checks, we got where we wanted to make a bit more racket, more noise and the riffs were a lot more fun to play. We gravitated towards being a bit more `full-on' in the songs. There was no game plan. We just sort of went in with what we had and tried to figure it out along the way." Favourite Worst Nightmare adheres closely to the rambunctious, pubby roil of its predecessor, albeit with more ambitious, drawn-out arrangements that suggest the band is just learning to make the best of its daunting playing abilities. As Alexis Petridis commented recently in The Guardian: "If you removed everything from the album except Matt Helders' drumming, it would still be a pretty gripping listen." If the songs don't yet rise to the extraordinary level of Turner's prose, there's plenty of time left to catch up. Indeed, Turner has only just begun to tour the new record – the Monkeys play a sold-out show at Kool Haus on Friday night – and he's thinking about the next. "That's all I ever think about a lot of the time, new songs and new stuff," he says. "It's never been too much of a struggle. Sometimes you can't come up with stuff, obviously, but I really do like doing it. It's only been out a couple of weeks now, the record, but already I've written, like, six or seven songs."
Ray Parker Jr. And All That Jazz
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(May 9, 2007) *The summer jazz festival season is fast approaching with the famed Hollywood-hosted Playboy Jazz Festival coming June 16-17 at the Hollywood Bowl. The fest will feature some of the hottest stars including Etta James, Dianne Reeves, Arturo Sandoval, Terence Blanchard, Buddy Guy, Chris Botti, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner's Miles Long just to name a few. Another artist, not directly on the line-up is singer/songwriter Ray Parker Jr. Ray Parker Jr. is best known to most for his hits with Raydio such as "You Can't Change That" and "A Woman Needs Love [Just Like You Do]" and for his solo mega hit "Ghostbusters," which lead some to categorize him as an '80s R&B trivia answer. With the majority of music fans familiar with these hits when they think of Ray Parker Jr., they might wonder what he's doing on the Playboy Jazz Festival stage. However, true fans of Parker know that he's much more than his R&B resume. In addition to his pop song influences, he is an acclaimed guitarist, an accomplished studio musician, and a highly regarded jazz musician. "Actually, I was in that idiom first," Parker clarified. "I did all the Herbie Hancock records, the Blackbirds. you name it, I did it. So I've done a lot of that stuff. Back when they first started smooth jazz, I had a hit in '87 with a tune called 'After Midnight' and last year I had the longest running song ["Mismaloya Beach"] on the Top 10 on jazz radio. It stayed in the Top 10 for about 20 weeks. And every album that I've ever done has an instrumental on it somewhere."
It's true. Parker's name and licks are on the record notes of several famed jazz artists and he's performed and jammed with major artists such as George Benson and The Crusaders. He's also played behind the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Spinners, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and other Motown acts and wrote songs for Bobby Brown ("Mr. Telephone Man"), New Edition and Chaka Khan. "Surprise, surprise; I do a lot of things. Actually everybody was shocked when I got some Top 40 hits, to be honest. That was the biggest surprise. That was my other stuff; I'd always been a player and studio musician," the Detroit native said about his industry-ite's reaction to his big hits. In addition to the musicians he's played with over the years, Parker has been a long-time friend to jazz aficionado Bill Cosby, the Playboy Fest Master of Ceremonies. Parker played in Cosby's band in the '70s and even had a bit part in the 1974 classic Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy "Uptown Saturday Night." "We go way back. He gave my band some money when I was 15 years old. I met him at Twenty Grand [theater] in Detroit then he took us to the Fisher Theater to Play with him. If you look at the records he made in the '70s, I'm on all of them," he said.
For this year's Playboy Jazz Fest, Parker joins his old friend Cosby on stage on opening day, Saturday, June 16. "[I'm] playing guitar with Bill Cosby. I'm not singing anything. It's Bill's show. He gets on stage with a band." You can catch Ray Parker Jr. singing, too. He's also touring and will be performing at the Capital Jazz Festival in Washington, DC on Sat., June 2. Click for more inf http://www.capitaljazz.com/. For more on the 2007 Playboy Jazz Fest, go HERE. To track down his latest projects, check out his website at www.rayparkerjr.com.
Indira Khan Back For Summer Trek
Source: Rob Sauthoff, 516.204.5499, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rsauthoff.blogspot.com
(May 7, 2007) The Daughters of Soul Tour, a musical journey boasting an all star cast showcasing the offspring of music's greats, will regroup for the summer of 2007 with scheduled performances in London, Amsterdam, Indonesia and other key markets overseas. Well into it's second year, Singer-Songwriter Indira Khan will rejoin her fellow soul sisters (Lalah Hathaway, Simone, Nona Hendryx, Sandra St. Victor, Joyve Kennedy and Denise Williams) on the road as they once again, electrify audiences and command the stage. Indira, the daughter of legend Chaka Khan and a successful solo artist, performed with the ensemble from day one and is thrilled to get back on stage. "We had such a great time last year. We did a couple dates this year but the summertime is when we will pick back up and really hit the road and give the people what they are waiting for," Indira joyfully announced. When she is not on the road or in the midst of rehearsals, Indira is still working steadily in the studio finishing up her highly anticipated brand new album and is also recording with her mom for her up coming release. For more information on Indira Khan log on to www.myspace.com/indirakhan.
Atom Egoyan's Close-Up
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Mitch Potter, European Bureau
(May 07, 2007) PARIS–Toronto filmmaker Atom Egoyan has had his share of recognition, but nothing quite like the life-before-your-eyes reception given in his honour over the weekend in the French capital. For a man who first laid hands on a film camera simply to spite a University of Toronto dramatic society that turned down his first play, Egoyan now finds himself a quarter-century later having his entire body of work incorporated into the archives of the influential Centre Pompidou of Paris. For the next month, Egoyan's filmography is to be screened at the Pompidou in the most comprehensive retrospective of his work ever undertaken. The curatorial staff of the centre will then draw together the materials into its archives, giving Egoyan a perpetual place at one of Europe's most respected art institutions. During Thursday's opening reception, Egoyan was taken aback at the rare artistic air into which his work has been drawn. Running concurrently at the Pompidou is a major retrospective of Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett, and in another Pompidou gallery is an exhibition of Armenian-American artist Arshile Gorky, whose work Egoyan admires deeply. And when the Pompidou staff asked Egoyan to add his name to the museum guest book, the last signature entered was that of Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, a voice that lands on Egoyan's short list of key inspirations.
"The Beckett show, the Gorky exhibition and then seeing Harold Pinter's signature. It's just sheer coincidence, but all these different influences converging really brought home how meaningful it is to be shown at the Pompidou," Egoyan told the Star. Egoyan's work has found a considerable foreign audience. But nowhere is the enthusiasm quite as pronounced as in France, where Egoyan was twice awarded the Cannes festival's Caméra d'Or prize for Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991). Egoyan explains that passion says more about France than it does the merits of his own work. He cites as an example the current issue of a leading French film magazine in which the current crop of French presidential candidates speak expansively of their film influences. "That's extraordinary," said Egoyan. "And I don't think it happens anywhere else in the world. Film is so vital to France that pretty much everyone understands it to be an essential part of their cultural makeup." Though Egoyan admires that passion from afar, he counts among his many blessings the fact that it was Canada that attracted his parents as the best destination of opportunity. "I think about it all the time, the fact that as survivors of the Armenian genocide we could have ended up just about anywhere. Certainly my grandparents, who were orphaned by the genocide, never received Ottoman citizenship. "And my parents, though like me they were born in Egypt, never received citizenship. It wasn't until we came to Canada when I was a young boy that finally this was a place that would make us citizens." Issues of identity and displacement have resonated hauntingly throughout Egoyan's work since his first full-length film, 1984's Next of Kin. However fascinating Egoyan finds such themes, his sense of personal identity is clear.
"Not to sound maudlin, but Canada has given me a sense of who I am and where I am. I absolutely love France, yes, but it would be very difficult to be a young filmmaker here because you are constantly oppressed by everything that has gone on before you. There is an awful weight on the shoulders of European filmmakers my age. "Canada doesn't have the same crushing weight of tradition. Of course, I was very aware of tradition during my filmmaking journey in Canada. I was raised on NFB documentaries, the work of Norm McLaren, the whole notion of cinéma vérité, the Don Owen movies. And, of course, I was hugely influenced by David Cronenberg's work. "But I always felt it was possible to create a place within that cultural map. There is this sense of being able to be a part of the making of something that is still fresh." For a filmmaker known for his obsessive approach to thematic study, the Pompidou's curatorial staff has been equally obsessive in their quest to assemble everything he has done. A bit too obsessive, in fact, for comfort. "It's a little strange how complete this is and how absolutely determined they are to show everything. For example, I was quite clear with them I didn't see the point of showing the pilot I did for the Friday the 13th television series. The fact is that to support my independent filmmaking in the 1980s I was doing Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and they were really just jobs. "But it's part of the oeuvre, as they say in Paris. They've uncovered things I haven't seen since I made them and they are screening all of it." French film buffs are believed to have first encountered Egoyan's work as an accidental digression from the elevated interest here in Quebec cinema. Now, having discovered Egoyan, a window appears to be opening for a closer look at English Canadian cinema. A few days ago, for example, the French daily Libération dedicated a full page of breathless critical praise to Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin. This weekend also saw positive notices for the Paris launch of Away From Her, the first feature directed by Canadian actor Sarah Polley. "It is long overdue, but the French are finally catching up with the original and crazy vision of Guy Maddin," said Egoyan. "Between the praise for Guy and the launch of Sarah's film, this has been a big weekend for English Canada in Paris."
Hussain Amarshi's Mongrel Media Began As
A One-Man Operation
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(May 8, 2007) Toronto art-house film distributor Hussain Amarshi loves to tell the story about the Booker Prize winner he had a friendly tussle with in order to secure the rights to his company's name, Mongrel Media. In 1997, when Amarshi was basically a one-man operation marketing obscure short films and documentaries from his house, he tried to incorporate the name only to be told that someone else had already laid claim to it. A dexterous sort who never takes no for an answer, Amarshi started to hunt down his mysterious rival - only to find out the other company, Mongrel Films, was owned by Michael Ondaatje. In order to be able to incorporate Mongrel Media, he had to get a letter of "no objection" from the celebrated author, whose book The English Patient was turned into a best-picture Oscar winner. "Michael very graciously gave it to me," chuckles Amarshi, 44, who is holding court in his bright, airy offices on a funky strip along Toronto's Queen Street West. In the ensuing 13 years, Amarshi has slowly created Canada's premier independent theatrical distribution company, which this year had Canadian distribution rights to two Oscar-nominated films, Germany's The Lives of Others and Canada's Water. Amarshi isn't into "the schmooze thing," as he puts it, so he didn't travel to Los Angeles for the star-studded ceremony. But he is justifiably proud of his tiny company. Mongrel also recently cemented a co-distribution deal with Gabriella Martinelli's Capri Releasing to distribute Sarah Polley's feature directorial debut, Away from Her. Amarshi credits his company's success to a modus operandi that has not wavered since Mongrel began in 1994: If we live in a multicultural community, why shouldn't our screens reflect that fact?
"My understanding of the Canadian audience is that we are different" he explains. "We are part of North America, but at the niche level, we are distinct. Conventional thinking suggests we should open films in Canada after the U.S., and I often disagree with that. We have different sensibilities in this country. We can do our own thing, our own way." As an example, he points to the award-winning documentary The Corporation, which opened here eight months before the U.S. "We did almost the same business in Canada, and they have 10 times the market." Others in the industry say Mongrel has been able to flourish while scores of independent distributors have floundered because Amarshi is a true cineaste with a love of great stories and an astute businessman who takes risks - but calculated ones. Ted East, president of the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, says Amarshi has established an international reputation for being "astute about his selection of films, and very aggressive in marketing them." "He reacts very quickly," East says. "There was no guarantee that Water or The Corporation were going to do the box office, but he was on top of the marketing, adjusting it to where there was public acceptance. He's very good at tapping into demographics. A green light from Hussain Amarshi represents the Good Housekeeping seal of approval." Amarshi launched Mongrel Media when mid-sized distributors (which typically handled the independent films) were getting wiped out by big studios such as Disney (which had set up art-house divisions such as Miramax). The Queen's University graduate (his family moved to Canada from Pakistan in 1984) snagged his first theatrical release, Tunisia's The Silences of the Palace, in 1995.
The deal was risky. Amarshi was on the hook for all promotion costs, and the theatre reserved the right to pull the film on Monday if the weekend receipts were weak. It ended up playing to Christmas, due largely to Amarshi's grassroots marketing to women's groups, world music fans and the Arabic community. For the next few years, Amarshi taught himself the art of swimming with sharks in the high-stakes distribution business. He considers 2002 something of a breakout year for Mongrel - at that time a four-person operation - which had 15 films at the Toronto International Film Festival, including 10 from American business partner Sony Classics (Talk to Her, Out of Focus) and six of its own Canadian titles (Bollywood/Hollywood, The Wild Dogs, Past Perfect and Nowhere in Africa). "We were working crazy hours," remembers Amarshi, who is married to actress Kristen Thomson and has twin boys and a girl, born last week. He had offers from other distributors to join forces, but turned them down. "We had very organic, slow growth. What I always treasured was my independence. That fact that I could do what I wanted to do continues to be one of the cornerstones of the company." These days, Mongrel releases close to 50 films on DVD and 30 to 40 films in theatres each year. It also has a deal with Blockbuster Canada, which stocks its 450 stores with Mongrel's Festival Collection - a library of small, art-house titles from Canada and around the world. Veteran distributor Victor Loewy (of Alliance Atlantis's distribution arm) credits Amarshi's success to his ability to establish solid relations with television broadcasters, government agencies, cinema chains and the festivals.
"He really understands not only the movies, but the whole scene properly," Loewy says. "A lot of other distributors, even some who have been around for 20 years, have never really mastered all aspects. "And he fights for his stuff, particularly Canadian titles. I've seen him go toe to toe with the festivals, the cinemas. When you're small, having the balls to fight is a good thing." Amarshi - who is good friends and now a script-level collaborator with Deepa Mehta and her producing partner, David Hamilton - met the director at TIFF seven years ago, when she was still reeling from a string of violent protests in India where she was shooting Water. (Production was halted for several years.) The distributor persuaded Mehta to turn her hand to lighter fare for a change. Together they came up with the concept for the raucous musical Bollywood/Hollywood, which went on to gross $1.5-million in Canadian box office -a fluke many would not have predicted. There were an equal number of skeptics for Water, which Amarshi readily concedes was "not easy to market. "A film about widows in India in 1938 is not something that will get people all cranked up to go see on a Friday night," he says, with a smile. So he chose to market it in Canada as a sweeping romance set in India. It opened in November, 2005. Fox Searchlight distributed it six months later in the U.S. and opted to play up the controversy. The film grossed $2.2-million in Canada, and roughly $3.2-million in the States, proving Amarshi's theory again that "we don't have to be reliant on whether it's successful in the U.S. or not."
Hamilton says he trusted Amarshi's vision for Water because he doesn't follow a formula. "He takes each film, analyzes its character and then determines where the interests lie. He focuses his marketing on those elements he thinks the audience will respond to. "Most other distributors tend to restrict themselves to standard forms of marketing, taking out newspaper ads and relying on movie reviews. He takes a much more personal interest in the films he handles," Hamilton says. "He'll call me at 10 at night to tell me he's just had an incredible idea. And he asks me what I think. I've never had a distributor do that. He's also very responsive to ideas that Deepa and I have, which, again, is a little unusual." The three are now working together on a new film script, called Exclusion, based on a 1914 incident when a shipload of immigrants from India were sent back by the Canadian navy. In the meantime, Amarshi is adamant about helping emerging English-Canadian filmmakers make better films. His goal is to help make three to five a year. "I find we're sitting here waiting for good scripts to come to us, and most of the time we're saying, no, we're not interested because the stories aren't that great." To flush out better scripts, Amarshi is working on setting up a writers unit. "I firmly believe what we're doing right now is not good enough," he says. He wants to invite five or six promising writers "to come together with us and start finding a way to nurture - and push ourselves - to make better films."
"It's a losing proposition this whole box-office measurement [in English-Canadian cinema]. ... We have to recognize that we're in the business of cultural entertainment and be committed to telling our stories the best way we can. "Let's be bold. Let's be honest, and say that's our strength," Amarshi urges. "I can't wait for the day when [English-Canadian cinema] becomes sure about its identity."
Top-five grossing Mongrel Media releases (by worldwide box office):
Kung Fu Hustle - $101-million
House of Flying Daggers - $93-million
Volver - $84-million
Curse of the Golden Flower - $74-million
The Lives of Others - $57-million
Top Five grossing Canadian Films released by Mongrel Media (by domestic box office):
Water - $2.2-million
The Corporation - $2-million
Bollywood/Hollywood - $1.5-million
Manufactured Landscapes - $440,000
Marion Bridge - $183,000
Mongrel releases that have won Academy Awards:
The Lives of Others - best foreign-language film
Capote - best actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Fog of War - best feature documentary
Nowhere in Africa - best foreign-language film
Talk to Her - best original screenplay
Why Warner Brothers Is Cracking Down On Canada
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald And Alex Dobrota
(May 9, 2007) TORONTO AND OTTAWA — Federal politicians insisted Tuesday that changes are imminent to crack down on illegal camcording in Canadian movie theatres, after a major film studio decided to cancel all its preview screenings in Canada, starting with Ocean's Thirteen and the next Harry Potter film in July. Warner Bros. Pictures Canada said it was forced to make the move after watching film piracy of its top movie titles escalate in the past few years. Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution, said Tuesday illegal camcording across Canada increased 24 per cent in 2006 over the previous year. “There is no indication that this isn't going to continue to grow in 2007,” he said. “This country has become a video-piracy hub.” Heritage Canada Minister Bev Oda said in a statement Tuesday that she and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson are working on ways to deal with the problem. “Our government is aware of the problem of piracy and the role of camcording in contributing to that problem,” the statement said. “We are committed to protect the work of creators and take this issue seriously.”
Ms. Oda did not give details and would not answer questions on the subject. Two parliamentary committees have recently studied the piracy issue and are set to issue reports over the coming weeks that will urge the government to crack down on pirates operating brazenly in theatres across the country. The content of the reports is confidential so far, but MPs on both committees have spoken in favour of enshrining the offence in the Criminal Code. “We have a serious problem with [camcording in theatres] not being in the Criminal Code; that's a no-brainer to fix,” said New Democrat MP Brian Masse who sits on the House industry committee. “There's the notion that it's a victimless crime,” said Liberal MP Roy Cullen, who sits on the House public safety committee, which has also studied the issue and is set to issue a report. Mr. Cullen said he is also in favour of amending the Criminal Code to include movie piracy. Canada – particularly Montreal – is known as one of the world's worst offenders for piracy, rivalling places such as China, Lebanon and the Philippines. A Motion Picture Association analysis of counterfeit discs in 2005 revealed close to 75 per cent of all films illegally camcorded in Canada were recorded in theatres in and around Montreal, recently identified as the No. 1 city in the world for surreptitious camcording. The reason? Pirates can easily create both English- and French-language masters. Cineplex Entertainment – in conjunction with the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association, the RCMP and other movie chains such as Empire and AMC – have spent the past few years lobbying the federal government to make it a criminal offence to pirate films.
The U.S. Motion Picture Association claims that in 2005, piracy cost U.S. studios $6.1-billion (U.S.). Its Canadian counterpart estimates its members lost $118-million (U.S.) the same year. Tuesday, one industry veteran described the Warner Brothers' preview blackout as a shot-over-the-bow designed to shake up federal officials. He pointed out it will have minimal impact on exhibitors or consumers because Warners' advance screenings total anywhere from 50 to 150 a year. So far, no other major studios, including Twentieth-Century Fox, Disney or Columbia TriStar, have indicated they plan to follow suit. Warner Brothers' crackdown means previews of its top-line features will not be entered into film festivals this summer, but it's unclear whether Warner will maintain the policy by the time the influential Toronto International Film Festival kicks off in September. The piracy issue heated up in January after The Globe and Mail published an article detailing how Fox's Hollywood-based president of domestic distribution had sent a blistering letter to Ellis Jacob, the Toronto-based chief executive of Cineplex Entertainment, Canada's biggest cinema chain. Spitting mad after pinpointing Canadian theatres as the source of a steady stream of illegal camcording, Fox threatened to do something unprecedented: stop sending copies of all its films to Cineplex's 130 movie houses, or push back the Canadian release of popular films until weeks after the U.S. release date. In the United States, 38 of the 50 states have specific laws that impose criminal sanctions against camcorder pirates, both fines and jail sentences. But in Canada, says Doug Frith, the president of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association, the theft of intellectual property is treated as a “soft crime,” with exhibitors helpless to confiscate cameras or detain suspects.
After his annual general meeting Tuesday, Cineplex's Mr. Jacob said the lack of enforcement means his staff often has to do bag checks at theatre entrances. Last Friday – the opening night of the blockbuster Spider Man 3 – his staff checked the belongings of everyone who attended the midnight show. “We have to keep a step ahead of the criminals because – this is to me – is a organized criminal activity,” he said. “It's not being done by young kids who are going in there for fun. “It's embarrassing for Canada to be in position where we are one of the leading countries” for movie piracy, he said. “What has happened is that technology has changed, but the copyright laws haven't kept pace with it.”
Actor Reflects On Love, Moral Conflict,
And Whether We Can Ever Really Forget And Forgive
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Entertainment Reporter
(May 07, 2007) "How very deeply can you forgive someone in your heart?" asks Gabriel Byrne, as those clear blue eyes of his stare right through you. "Saying you forgive someone is one thing, but do you ever really forget what they did? And if you can't forget, is it ever possible to move on to some sort of healing?" Those questions were on his mind when he came to Toronto last fall during the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about his latest film, Jindabyne, which opens Friday. Based on a story by Raymond Carver (So Much Water So Close to Home) the Ray Lawrence movie tells the story of four men on a fishing trip in the Australian outback who discover the murdered body of an Aboriginal woman. Rationalizing that she is already dead and they are too far from civilization to do anything, they finish their fishing trip and then report their find when they return home.
Their wives react violently when they discover their husbands' decision, accusing them of moral cowardice, or worse, and a whole series of ideological arguments splits the marriages apart – some temporarily, some forever. "There are many moments in our lives," sighs Byrne, "when we don't realize the moral consequences of what we've done until it's too late." What complicates the stakes for Byrne's character in the film is that his wife, Claire (Laura Linney), also has something in her past to feel guilty about. After their son was born, she suffered a severe bout of postnatal depression and fled from home for 18 months, leaving Byrne alone with their child. "Ask him if he really ever forgave me for doing that and then we'll discuss whether I really forgave him for what he did," suggested Linney at an interview earlier that same day, knowing that a session with Byrne was booked soon after. "Ah, that's a typical Laura thing to say," Byrne replies fondly. "After three marriages, she knows me so well." (The two paired together before as husband and wife in A Simple Twist of Fate and P.S.)
"Men and women react very differently in moments of crisis," theorizes Byrne. "Men shut down their emotions and think practically; women respond emotionally and morally. The men think about right now. The women think about forever. "It's been an interesting part of the film's history," continues Byrne, commenting on the reaction to the movie's initial run in Australia back in 2006. "Men who saw the movie would say, `They did what they had to do,' while the women would ask, `How could they do that?'" Numerous Australian newspaper articles documented the often-intense arguments that would spring up between couples after having seen the movie and Byrne understands exactly why that would happen. "Working on the film brought up a lot of issues for me as a man that I tend not to look at: thoughts about love, loss, death. There's not an instant of this film that isn't filled with moral conflict." Although if you examine Byrne's career, the same comment could easily apply to much of what he's undertaken. The Dublin-born actor turns 57 Saturday. He didn't enter the acting profession until he was 29, but he quickly made up for lost time, plunging into an assortment of projects that ranged from mythic epics (John Boorman's Excalibur) to off-beat projects (The Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing) to pieces of biographical excess (Ken Russell's Gothic). But it was his performance as Dean Keaton in the surprise 1995 hit, The Usual Suspects, that cemented his identity in the public mind and branded him as "the brooding Irishman," an identity which he emphatically says, "I'd now bloody love to get rid of." Byrne has acknowledges having been sexually molested at the age of 11 by a priest, which leads to what he now refers to as "my own conflicted history with the Catholic Church, which is symptomatic of the relationship that many people have."
Byrne lashes out bitterly against "a Pope who spends too much of his time railing against same-sex relationships. I don't hear enough from him about the truly great injustices in the world today. "The man should be attacking the moral decisions that have led to the deaths of thousands of people in political wars, not questioning the sanctity of the relationship between two people. "How can a church which is founded on the notion of love deny love to a group of people simply because they happen to be of the same sex?" Byrne pauses. "The Catholic Church is stronger than me," he says with a bitter grin. "It's survived for 2,000 years and it will go on surviving. "But it's simply an earthly institution and we cannot expect any such institution to be perfect, just like we can't expect any individual to be perfect. "You see," he concludes, "I suppose that's one of the things that a film like Jindabyne is trying to teach us."
Hong Kong Director Plans Bruce Lee
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Min Lee, Associated Press
(May 07, 2007) HONG KONG – A respected Hong Kong director said Monday he is negotiating with the family of Bruce Lee for approval to shoot a movie about the late action star. Stanley Kwan said his movie will explore how Lee was influenced by the absence of his father, and how he brought up his own son, Brandon Lee. It will also look at how Bruce Lee turned into a master of martial arts, he said. Both Bruce and Brandon Lee died when they were relatively young. Bruce Lee died in 1973 at age 32 from swelling of the brain. Brandon, who also became an actor, was killed on the set of the film ``The Crow" in 1993 when a prop gun that supposedly held blank bullets discharged a live one. In April, Chinese state media reported that the country's national broadcaster has started filming a 40-part TV series on Bruce Lee in an apparent bid to promote Chinese culture ahead of next year's Beijing Summer Olympics. Kwan said in a phone interview that no casting decisions have been made and that his movie's budget hasn't been set. He said the project, which won't start shooting until next year at the earliest, is backed by mainland Chinese funding but that he will also try to raise funds from foreign investors.
Kwan said the dialogue will be in both Chinese and English depending on the setting. Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco but his family returned to Hong Kong, where he grew up. He went back to the United States to study philosophy at the University of Washington and married in 1964 in Seattle, where he opened his first martial arts school. He later opened a school in Los Angeles where a producer saw him in a kung fu demonstration and cast him as Kato in the "Green Hornet" TV show. Lee is known for films in which he portrayed characters that defended the Chinese and the working classes from oppressors. The best-known biographical film on Lee is "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story," starring Jason Scott Lee, which was released in 1993. Jason Scott Lee is not related to Bruce Lee. Kwan's credits include "Rouge" and "Center Stage," which won a best actress Silver Bear prize for Hong Kong's Maggie Cheung at the 1992 Berlin Film Festival.
Morgan Freeman: Film And Web Become An
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
May 4, 2007) *Actor Morgan Freeman continues to do it by the numbers. The acclaimed star won an Academy Award for his role in “Million Dollar Baby” and now he’s a part of an intimate film with a bit lower count. The project is called “10 Items or Less,” in which Freeman stars as “Him” – a once popular actor on the downslope of his career, who goes to a supermarket to do research for an upcoming role and meets a quirky clerk. The film did a tour of the Toronto film festival just before its online and theatrical release in late 2006, and is now available on DVD (from First Look Home Entertainment). With those stats, it may seem that the small film is a biography of sorts. After all, Freeman is considered by many an A-list actor and has the trophy to prove it. However, Freeman told EUR’s Lee Bailey that that’s not the case. In addition to the film being produced by Freeman’s company, Revelations Entertainment, he said that small projects can be just as important as the big budget blockbusters. “I’m not really a big A-list star, in my mind. In my mind, I’m a working actor; and a working actor does work that he finds satisfying and interesting,” he explained. “And one of the most interesting things about this project was that it had no gravitas at all. It was a little light comedy. It was just going to be an adventure in filmmaking. We went into this movie knowing we had no money and we had little time, but let’s see how good we are.”
Those who’ve seen the film confirmed that Freeman is pretty darn good, as usual. His performance seems so effortless, that it does appear he’s playing himself. “You don’t have much choice,” he said. “The writer writes a sort of a box and you step into the box and fill up the space. Any actor he asks to do it, would come off the same way. Any actor would look like he was playing himself because that’s what you have to do. But I was having a great deal of fun and I didn’t have to try to be anything other than myself.” Freeman’s character suffers a rut as an actor, but the actor says that that’s not quite the career hold he has experienced. “I’ve suffered like that, but not like that,” he said, referring to his characters actor’s block. “In other words, I don’t get actors block, I get job block. When you can’t get a job, you can’t act. So the worse blocks I’ve had have been extended periods of unemployment.” Freeman shared that he was out of work for periods of time early in his career; a career he said that took a long time to get started. “When it did get started, it was a kind of low trajectory, climbing steady, but not zooming skyward. I worked for a good 13 years steady climbing, becoming what they call stalwart. Then I did a TV movie in 1980 and I didn’t get anymore work until 1982. So I thought my 15 minutes were up. I’d gotten down to contemplating other forms of exercise. My landlord was asking, ‘When?’ and I was saying, ‘As soon as.’” Freeman said that in his trials as an actor he only did a brief stint in Los Angeles as a resident, calling it the one town where he became really close to being homeless. And ever since that time in 1960, he’s never returned to reside in Tinsel Town.
“I never wanted to come back,” he said. After which he spent just 5 months in New York and then moved to San Francisco and got encouraged in an amateur theatre company, but then headed back to his home of Charleston, Mississippi; population 2600. “It’s a comfort place for me. It’s really home,” he said. The actor, who said he’s not one of those actors who ever thought he was something other than an actor, is also a producer and avant-garde digital kingpin. With this film, he launched ClickStar, a new digital entertainment venture between his production company and Intel Corp. The company delivers premium movies and artist-created channels through broadband for the PC and the TV. “It’s the best idea out there,” he said modestly. “We’re offering first-run, in addition to a library. We have star-brand channels, like we have a whole channel dedicated to documentaries. You’ll go there and find Danny DeVito and he’ll tell you what he’s found interesting this week or this month.” To check out ClickStar and find out more about "10 Items or Less," visit http://www.cstar.com/.
One-Word Movie Titles Match Attention
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Peter Howell
(May 4, 2007) Every time I write the movie title Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, I have to look it up to make sure I get it right. And that's okay by me. I'm sick of movies with one-word titles. Week after week, it seems as if Hollywood's imagination deficit begins with the names it gives its film products. Dull single-digit handles are a blight on theatre marquees. Whatever happened to movies with evocative titles like The Trouble With Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Six of the movies currently in the Top 10 at the North American box office have single-word names, if you ignore the disposable "The" in two of them: Next, Vacancy, Fracture, Disturbia, The Invisible and The Condemned. None of these titles, with the possible exception of Disturbia, makes you want to leap off your sofa and head to the multiplex. And Disturbia is a rip off of Rear Window, which told a lot in two words. Most boring of the lot is Next. Is there in all of movie history a title of less fascination? It conjures a "Who's on first?" exchange between a husband and wife:
Wife: "Where are you going?"
Husband: "I'm going to the movie Next."
Wife: "You're going to the movie next? What are you doing first?"
Husband: "I'm doing Next first."
Wife: "There has to be a first before there's a next."
Husband: "I told you, I'm doing Next first!"
Wife: "But you said you'd clean the garage first!"
There are those who would argue that the generic Next is the perfect title for this generic waste of time. I might even be among them. But what a wasted opportunity! Next is based on a Philip K. Dick short story called The Golden Man, a sci-fi tale about psychic mutants with gold skin. Next strips out most of the cool stuff and leaves us with simply the "next" Nicolas Cage movie. Dick had a flair for giving his works evocative names. Titles like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, We Can Remember it for You Wholesale and A Scanner Darkly are infused with mystery and dark humour. Yes, I know that the movie version of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? went by the cutting title Blade Runner. And We Can Remember it for You Wholesale became the unforgettable Total Recall. But Blade Runner and Total Recall are more interesting titles than almost anything you'd get today. Under the current monotone mindset of movie marquees, Blade Runner would be reduced to Runner (there already is a big Blade, not that it matters) and Total Recall would shrink to just plain Recall. You doubt me? Look closely at the The Invisible, which opened last Friday under the cover of no advance screenings. The only thing unique about that title is the "The" in it. The Internet Movie Database lists no fewer than eight features and shorts in the past 18 months with the title Invisible, if you include one called Cover that is a.k.a. Invisible. Most of these films have been as hard to see as the title implies. That's not all. There was also an Invisible! (note the clever exclamation mark) released in 2004 and Home from Home (a.k.a. Invisible) released in 2003. There were also films titled Invisible in 2001 and 2005.
Had enough yet? Another Invisible is planned for 2009. Maybe that one will add a question mark to make it distinctive. It's plain from this that Hollywood long ago ran out of imaginative one-word titles like Vertigo or Psycho, and it is now resorting to recycling. What's the reason for this? Does it make it easier to list on a marquee or on a DVD rack? Do single-titled movies sell better? Do they line up more agreeably in computer queues? I sought the insights of industry watcher and film blogger Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere.com. He agreed with me, saying the dumbing-down of movie titles has been happening for a good 20 years. "One-word bullet titles are easier to remember for people who haven't made much of an education and of course shorter is almost always better in our attention-deprived world, but titles with poetic or allusive qualities are even less in favour now than ever before," Wells said via email. "The reason is because the under-35 cyber generation is a shorthand generation in more ways than one. The relentless clutter of information and images that pour into our computers and PDAs demands a savage pruning on the part of the reader, video-watcher and moviegoer ... (I) personally prefer Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to Blade Runner, but that's just me." I know that this isn't the kind of issue that most people get worked up over. Al Gore isn't going to make a movie about it and David Miller isn't going to promise to eventually look into it. But it bugs me, and it would be so easy to fix. I also know that Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is now well-enough known that it's just Borat to most people, movie critics included. But at least someone tried to make it interesting, and that's all I'm asking for.
Morris Chestnut Is A ‘Broken’ Man
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough
(May 7, 2007) *Morris Chestnut will executive produce and star in the upcoming Screen Gems film “Not Easily Broken,” a faith-based drama based on a book by Bishop T.D. Jakes. Bill Duke will direct the picture, which revolves around a couple whose strength and faith are tested after the wife is injured in a car crash and the husband becomes attracted to another woman. Shooting is scheduled to begin June 11 in Los Angeles, after Chestnut wraps his lead role of Marcelles Wynters in the David E. Talbert stage play "Love in The Nick of Tyme" The actor, who made his feature film debut in the 1991 John Singleton debut “Boyz N the Hood,” will next appear on the big screen opposite Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard in “A Perfect Christmas.” Chestnut plays a department store Santa who tries to help a little girl find a new husband for her divorced mother, played by Gabrielle Union. Meanwhile, Duke recently finished directing the Vivica Fox/Louis Gossett Jr. film "Cover." The AIDS-related drama will be released in the fall by 20th Century Fox.
Kadeem Hardison Is A ‘Made’ Man
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 8, 2007) *Kadeem Hardison has been cast in the new romantic comedy “Made of Honor,” alongside actors Sydney Pollack, Beau Garrett, Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan, reports Reuters. The Columbia Pictures film follows Tom (Dempsey) and Claire (Monaghan), who have been platonic friends for 10 years. He's a ladies man, while she wants marriage but hasn't found The One. Just as Tom is starting to think that he is relationship material after all, Claire gets engaged. When she asks Tom to be her "maid" of honour, he reluctantly agrees just so he can attempt to stop the wedding and woo her. Pollack will play the father of Dempsey's character, while Hardison and Garrett are cast in supporting roles. Shooting on “Made of Honor” began last week under director Paul Weiland.
Common Is Anything But In Hollywood
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 9, 2007) *Casting directors must’ve really liked what they saw of Common in his recent film “Smokin’ Aces,” because the Chicago rapper has scored two new movie roles that feature such Academy Award-winning actors as Forest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. Common will play a supervillain who secretly controls the planet with Jolie and Freeman in Universal’s “Wanted,” and he’ll portray a heroin dealer from Belize posing as an undercover police officer in Fox Searchlight's upcoming cop drama, "Night Watchman." "Wanted" follows a white-collar worker (James McAvoy) who discovers he is the son of the most evil villain on Earth. When his father is assassinated, he inherits the dead man's powers and begins life among the other supervillains (Freeman, Jolie and Common) who secretly run the entire world. Common will play the Gunsmith, an assassin with an unparalleled knowledge of firearms who is enlisted to help train and transform McAvoy's character into the world's most feared and powerful hit man. "Night Watchman," based on an original idea by James Ellroy, centers on a disgraced LAPD cop (Keanu Reeves) who discovers corruption inside the police department and sets out on a mission to redeem himself. Whitaker will play the captain of Reeves’ elite police unit, called Ad/Vice. Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., Common made his big-screen debut in the ensemble action flick "Smokin' Aces." He next appears in the Denzel Washington-Russell Crowe saga "American Gangster." His new album, "Finding Forever," is due for release in July.
Little Mosque on the Champs Élysées
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(May 9, 2007) The French will soon be watching some homespun Canadiana – the quirky CBC-TV comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie. Mary Darling, the show's executive producer, announced Tuesday that the powerful French broadcaster Canal Plus has jumped on board to distribute the show starting in July in France and in French-speaking parts of Switzerland and Africa. In Canada, the inaugural season of Little Mosque on the Prairie regularly attracted an average of 1.3 million viewers on the public broadcast network. CBC recently ordered a second season of 20 episodes, which will begin airing in October at its regular time slot of 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. CBC plans to run Little Mosque reruns this summer, leading into the fall launch. Darling, of WestWind Pictures, said the international distribution deal – the first for Little Mosque – has been in the works for months.
She said other broadcasters in the United States and Europe are still taking a “hard look” at Little Mosque. She would not confirm rumours that WestWind is close to finalizing a sale of the show's format in the United States. Little Mosque, which explores the inherent challenges of Muslims and Christians co-existing in Canada's rural heartland, is one of the few bright lights on CBC's prime-time television schedule. Since its debut, Little Mosque – with the title that riffs off Michael Landon's American TV classic – has attracted media attention from around the world, with write-ups in The New York Times, London's Daily Telegraph and The Jerusalem Post. Reached by telephone Tuesday while she was on holiday with her family, Darling surmised that the show has struck a chord because it addresses cultural issues percolating below the surface in almost every community around the world. “To me, it really feels like a home run for Canadian television.”
BET J Heats Up Spring 2007 With A Fresh
Line-Up Of New Shows And Music Specials
Source: BET J
(May 7, 2007) WASHINGTON, DC – BET J, the adult complement to BET, announced today a new slate of music and original shows to be added to its existing line-up of diverse multicultural programming. The fresh menu of programs will offer viewers a unique mix of riveting talk, breathtaking music specials, and ground-breaking documentaries. BET J promises to raise the heat as it sets the pace this May with its sizzling line-up of new shows! On Monday, May 7 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, the hit round-table talk show MY TWO CENTS returns with a fresh slate of provocative topics and engaging guests to bring yet another season of electrifying conversation and a rotating panel of prominent African-American celebrities, activists and social critics including Dr. Ian Smith of BET’s MEET THE FAITH and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club; actor Malik Yoba; commentator and NY Daily News writer Stanley Crouch; and Law & Order’s Tamara Tunie among others. In its first episode premiere, MY TWO CENTS tackles the important impact of HIV/AIDS in the black community and social stigmas associated with the disease, including stereotypes and ignorance. In the intimate one-on-one original series, CONVERSATIONS, R&B soul icon Musiq Soulchild sits down with BET J head Paxton Baker to talk about his unique creative process, impressive music career and all things “musiq” on Thursday, May 10 and May 24 at 7:00 p.m.
Caribbean music lovers will savour the island vibes in the BET J music special, ANTIGUA 2006 FESTIVAL on May 19 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Hosted by comedian and former BET RAP CITY host Joe Clair and actor/comedian A.J. Jamal, this exotic show promises a spirited and fun-filled island tour of unique Caribbean culture and music, and gives viewers a hearty dose of exciting performances and breathtaking scenes of the beautiful island itself. This May, BET J viewers can also look forward to enriching music retrospectives and profiles spotlighting legendary musicians and their vast influences and contributions in music. Upcoming vocalist Liv Warfield is spotlighted in the BET J music special, MASTER CLASS WITH JEFFREY OSBORNE FEATURING LIV WARFIELD, which also features R&B great Jeffrey Osborne, who shares experiences about his successful expansive music career on Tuesday, May 15 and May 29 at 7:30 p.m. The music special also features performances by Liv Warfield from her new CD “Embrace Me”. During the month of May, BET J will be the premiere destination for innovative and original programs – all embracing the richness of black culture, music and lifestyle. Connecting viewers across all cultures with its diverse menu of programs, BET J showcases a unique mix of music, culture and style all day, every day. BET J’s original and innovative lifestyle programming encourages viewers to Live The Journey – a journey that is educational, entertaining, thought-provoking, emotionally-charged and uplifting to the soul.
ABOUT BET J
BET J, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is a sophisticated digital network infused with innovative and original programming featuring a unique mix of music, culture and style embracing the Black experience. It is the premiere destination for a multicultural audience delivering music from all genres along with movies, riveting talk, concerts and in-depth interview shows. BET J keeps viewers talking with exciting original programs such as: MY TWO CENTS, REAL LIFE DIVAS, THE BEST SHORTS and SOUL SESSIONS, and is currently viewed in over 26 million households and growing. www.bet.com/BETJ
Unaware Of The Power Of Heroes
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Victoria Ahearn, Canadian Press
(May 04, 2007) Eric Roberts says his role on the hit drama series Heroes has helped him build a whole new audience under the age of 15. "I thought I was really famous up until I got Heroes," says Roberts, who plays the slightly sinister character Thompson on the NBC show, during a conference call with media this week. "I had no idea how much more famous I could get overnight. It's been fun and it's been silly." The 51-year-old actor says he can't stop at a traffic light without being recognized and hearing a Heroes comment these days, and on the set it's "kind of a paid vacation" because the cast is so talented and fun, and the series is a huge success. Yet Roberts said he didn't want to audition for the role when he first heard of the open casting call earlier this year. He totally was out of the loop about the buzz the show was generating after its debut last fall, and thus he didn't have any interest in the new mid-season role, he said. "I was very ignorant. I had just gotten back from overseas making a movie and I'd been over there for many months ... and I was tired and they said to me, `Would you come and do an audition for the show? It's a big hit show, Eric, come audition for it,'" said Roberts, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Runaway Train and is the brother of Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts.
"And I said, `No, I'm too tired.' Then I got a bunch of phone calls from my lawyer, my daughter and my stepdaughter all saying, `You idiot – this is a great show, you've got to go audition for this show,' so I went in and I auditioned and I was lucky enough to get it." Roberts plays Thompson, the ambiguous enforcer for a mysterious organization that kidnaps and tracks people with special abilities. One of those gifted individuals is Claire Bennet, the indestructible cheerleader played by Hayden Panettiere, who was also in on the conference call. The 17-year-old actress, who's involved in several charities, said she hopes her soaring fame from the show will inspire others to take part in social causes. She also talked about life outside the show, saying she's just graduated from high school and is recording an album that she hopes to release in August. "I'm on my way to go write a song right now with (producer) Matthew Wilder," Panettiere said from her car in L.A. Balancing a singing career, a personal life, school and a role on a hit TV show has been a challenge, she said, adding her managers have made it much easier. "Being in the spotlight is difficult," said Panettiere, who is dating former Laguna Beach star Stephen Colletti, 21, and admitted to being not quite used to her fame yet. "We try not to (invite paparazzi) pictures, we try not to talk about it (their relationship) much because I feel like when you put something like that out there, then you give people the right to formulate their own opinions about it, you give people the right to judge it." Panettiere and Roberts wouldn't give away any clues about future episodes leading to the much anticipated Heroes season finale May 21, only saying that the show is "completely unpredictable." Roberts, who is still billed as a "guest star" and just landed a role in the next Batman movie, couldn't even say whether he'll be part of the next season. "All I can tell you is maybe. "
No Cheap Laughs In The Riches
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Vinay Menon
(May 09, 2007) “The American Dream, we’re going to steal it.” With steely calm, these are the words that tumble from the bearded mouth of Wayne Malloy (Eddie Izzard) — loving father, so-so husband, slick charlatan. And as TV scams go, this one ranks as the most audacious. The Riches (Showcase, 10 tonight), which makes its Canadian premiere after generating considerable buzz stateside, is one of those shows that ropes you in, ties you up and leaves you in the rarest of couch potato positions: in deep thought. In the drama, which was renewed by FX yesterday, the Malloy family are “travellers,” gypsyesque vagabonds of Irish descent who roam America’s southern interstates and swamplands in search of the next big con. In the opening scene, Wayne, daughter Dehliah (Shannon Woodward) and young son Sam (Aidan Mitchell) are marching through a garishly decorated high school hall, about to infiltrate a reunion for the “Class of 1981.” As the house band powers through a set of Soft Cell, Devo and Rick Springfield, Wayne peels and sticks an absentee’s name badge to his lapel. He then wanders inside the gymnasium and charms the unsuspecting “buffers” (the traveller term for outsiders) with astounding guile as the kids pickpocket. A few retro hits later, the three abscond with a stash of wallets and purses. They join son Cael (Noel Fisher), who’s waiting in their ramshackle RV, and motor off to get mom.
That would be Dahlia (Minnie Driver), who’s been paroled after serving two years in jail. As first impressions go, Dahlia is a portrait of desolation: waiting outside the prison fence, chugging cough syrup, squatting in sandals, track pants and greasy braids under spiralled barbed wire. And so begins a series of situations, both grim and darkly comic, that will take the Malloys from the so-called Traveller Camp — a commune of fellow grifters, nomads and simpletons that recalls Big Love — to Edenfalls, a posh enclave in Baton Rouge. From The Beverly Hillbillies to this season’s hyped dud, The Knights of Prosperity, when it comes to social stratification (at least, as defined by conflict theorists), it’s always easier for television to chase down cheap laughs. But The Riches manages to refurbish the shopworn, fish-out-of-water conceit by giving it serious consideration against the backdrop of today’s world, where the chasm between haves and have-nots seems to widen with each passing fiscal quarter. Which is not to say the show can’t simply be enjoyed as a sugary confection; it can. But it just never feels like you’re consuming empty calories. What you have is a tangled meditation on class, caste and identity. Tellingly, Wayne is by turns metaphysical (“I was having an existential crisis”), fatalistic (“Life’s a river, kid, you gotta go where it takes you”) and anarchistic (“I wasn’t born to follow rules”).
When historian James Truslow Adams referred to the “American Dream” more than 60 years ago, there was a subtext of hard work and meritocracy that’s since gone missing. In today’s culture, upward mobility is largely expected. This idea, along with the transient nature of status, crystalizes by about the third episode. As does another: on some level, we are all frauds. Not in the criminal sense, mind. It’s just that most people, whether they realize it or not, are layered with multiple identities: to spouses, to parents, to children, to siblings, to co-workers, to old friends, to new associates. The characters on The Riches are interesting because they expose this duality: a neighbour conceals her prosthetic arm; Cael is a loner who’s actually a hopeless romantic; young Sam prefers to dress as a girl; Wayne is a swindler and Socratic gadfly who screams about an “unconsidered life”; Dahlia is blood royalty to the extended “family” but a drug-addicted miscreant to the outside world. “This life we’re living, we can’t do it any more,” says Wayne, stoically. He’s rejecting a life of flimflam and the travellers’ “culture of nothing.” In doing so, he’s also spinning 360 in one hour and setting up a central premise: the tyranny of conformity is something that should be embraced, but only if it leads to individual gain. Like everybody else on The Riches, Wayne doesn’t quite know who he is. Actually, it’s more than that. He desperately wants to be somebody else.
Ananda Lewis Finds Another Hosting Job
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 9, 2007) *Ananda Lewis, first known to television viewers as the host of BET’s “Teen Summit” during the early 90s, has been tapped by the TV Guide Network to host its upcoming reality series that seeks to find the next big TV mogul. Titled "America's Next Producer," the 10-episode run features contestants competing for a cash prize, a production office in Hollywood and first-look deal with TV Guide Network. Judges will include David Hill, chairman and CEO of the Fox Sports Television Group, and TV Guide magazine's Matt Roush. They will be joined each week by a celebrity guest judge. Lewis, a San Diego native, will next appear in Donald Welch's stage play "The Divorce" from May 17 through June 10 at the Cast Theater in Los Angeles. The Howard University grad has been the host of her own talk show, "The Ananda Lewis Show," and served as an on-air personality on MTV.
The Floating Theatre Company
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara. Entertainment Reporter
(May 04, 2007) Theatre ahoy? April Productions' latest theatrical voyage, Have I None, takes place aboard Captain John's Harbour Boat and director Lary Zappia is already anticipating the slew of nautical jokes that it's likely to spawn. "Hopefully the audience won't get seasick," Zappia commented wryly in a recent interview. But Zappia is quick to warn theatregoers that the play by British playwright Edward Bond about a dystopic future is no picnic, nor will it be staged in the boat's comfortable dining room. "When you read that the play takes place on Captain John's Harbour Boat, you might think, `Oh, it's dinner theatre.' But it's definitely not. We're performing in the belly of the boat," Zappia said. That means assembling the audience in advance in the Captain's Quarters on the upper deck and leading them on a labyrinthine journey down a narrow passageway, into a dank and somewhat cluttered interior that Zappia generously describes as "rusty and rustic." Dress warm, Zappia warned, because the temperature below decks isn't much warmer than the chilly harbour water on the other side of the hull. Zappia called the location a "happy accident ... that will serve the play well." "There is a credibility of the surroundings that no theatre can match. You can never build a stage that can have this kind of impact," he added.
Bond's story, about a future in which behaviour is strictly controlled and family ties abolished in the interest of maintaining public order, is a cautionary tale about the need to protect individuality and identity, Zappia said. "When you live in a state that abolishes the past ... then you actually start doubting your own human existence, your human identity," he said. Artistic director Dragana Varagic, who also stars, said smaller companies like hers regularly seek out unusual locations around the city in which to stage their productions. The ship was one of the first things she saw upon arriving from the former Yugoslavia 14 years ago, Varagic recalled. Named the M.S. Jadran – the Serbian name for the Adriatic Sea – it was brought to Toronto in 1975 by another emigré from the region, "Captain" John Letnik, who quickly embraced the idea of converting the ship's interior as a theatre. "Captain John said, `Why not?' He's very nice, he's been a nice host," Varagic said. Anchors aweigh.
Have I None previews on Tuesday with regular shows from May 8 to 20. Tickets $16-$20 at artsboxoffice.ca
Simply The Best Of Cirque
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian
(May 4, 2007) After all these years, Cirque du Soleil knows that if they want to hold our interest, they must astonish us. And it's to their credit that their latest show, Koozå, which opened last night at their Grand Chapiteau at the Old Port of Montreal, does that magical feat time and time again. I've been a veteran of many Cirque opening nights, but I cannot recall another occasion when the audience rose to their feet on three separate occasions during the evening to show their enthusiasm. What makes this even more amazing is the fact that Koozå is, in many ways, one of the simplest shows that Cirque has offered us for a long, long time. That's not to imply it is dull, or chintzy, or lacking in the hyper-theatricality that has made this troupe's reputation. No, the astonishing thing about Koozå is how magnificently focused it is. Cirque veteran David Shiner wrote and directed Koozå and it's obvious from start to finish that he had a strong sense of what he wanted the show to be. The title comes from the Sanskrit work which means both "box" and "treasure," and Shiner has played on both meanings of the word. Unlike many Cirque shows in recent memory, Koozå isn't a whimsical journey into an imaginary world of elegiac clowns moving wistfully to melancholy music.
No, this is a simple case of a "circus in a box," where everything is upfront, brightly hued and clearly there for our enjoyment. If you were so inclined, you could find themes of empowerment and growth lurking underneath the surface of this fantastical entertainment, but it's probably in everyone's best interest to take things more or less at face value. You will be delighted by the rapid pace that Shiner has imposed on the proceedings (even though, at its current three-hour length, it could do with a bit of trimming) and exult in the brightly hued spectacle that unfolds with never-ending bursts of colour. It's hard to single out individual acts from the array of talented artists on stage, but there are two sequences that are simply magnificent. In one, two men hurl around on the dual Wheel of Death, challenging mortality with every leap as the giant 700 kg metal spheres spin relentlessly, tempting fate with every move. And then there's the seemingly simple act in which eight chairs are positioned to form a 23-foot high tower in the air, on which one individual tests the limits of his strength in a precarious balancing act that constantly keeps changing. But all of Koozå isn't made up of moments of heart-stopping anxiety. There's a freewheeling vitality to the show that reminds us of the lighter side of Cirque.
One delectable sequence summons up the essence of voodoo rituals as the entire cast cavort in skeletal garb that makes each one look like the offspring of Baron Samedi. And, as one might expect with someone like Shiner in charge, there are also inspired bits of clownish hilarity, including a pair of sequences that actually make audience participation an occasion for merriment, rather than a cause for embarrassment. Koozå has been billed as "a return to the origins or Cirque du Soleil," but this is no mere exercise in revisionist history. The canny folk in charge of this worldwide franchise are smart enough to revisit the impulses that drove them over 20 years ago, but sophisticated enough to layer on all they have learned in the decades in between. The end result is totally winning. Koozå will be in Toronto in August, Buy your tickets now.
Shaw Has Faith In Joan
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian
(May 06, 2007) Jackie Maxwell knows what Saint Joan is all about. No wonder she scheduled it as the opening show for her fifth season as artistic director of the Shaw Festival. Just like the Maid of Orleans, she listened to the voices that inspired her, rode bravely into battle, ran into some heavy interference and nearly wound up being burned at the stake. Fortunately, she's come through to the other side – and some people feel the time might finally be right for her canonization. Yes, her devotion to Canadian plays and edgy programming helped land the festival into a $6.5-million deficit by the end of the 2004 season, but her decision to add a musical on the mainstage while easing up on the Can-con has lowered the red ink by half to $3.3 million over the past two years. And through the highs as well as the lows, her devotion to a solid artistic vision and a spirit of creative discovery has never wavered. In Maxwell's own words, "I finally think I'm at the point where I know what makes this place tick." She certainly seems confident and relaxed as she sits in a Toronto Starbucks, outlining her plans for the future. And the No. 1 item on her agenda is this season's flagship Shavian production on the Festival Stage, which is, of course, Saint Joan. Although one of George Bernard Shaw's most famous titles, Saint Joan has only been produced twice before at the festival that bears his name: in 1981, starring Nora McClellan, and in 1993, with Mary Haney.
"In some ways, it's like Hamlet, isn't it?" ponders Maxwell. "It's the play you've simply got to do, the mountain you have to climb. And then, of course, there are all the family ghosts ..." You see, Maxwell has a connection to the play that no one else can boast. Her husband Ben Campbell's grandmother, Sybil Thorndike, was the first person ever to play the role. Maxwell admits the family bookshelves features a first edition of the play, which Shaw himself inscribed: "To Sybil, my marvellous Joan." But personal and artistic burdens aren't the only things hanging over Maxwell's head. "It's such a big play to tackle financially," she explains, "and you've got to have the right actress ... Then, of course, there's the problem of the epilogue." Maxwell is referring to the extended sequence Shaw wrote at the end of the play where all of the characters return as ghosts and discuss how history has judged Joan. After the thrilling dramatic scenes of Joan's trial and execution, the epilogue has always seemed a talky, anti-climatic snooze-fest and directors have torn their hair out wondering how to stage it. Back in 1981, then-artistic director Christopher Newton simply cut it, only to have the Shaw Estate tell him that wasn't acceptable. And so Newton added an intermission and left it to the audience as to whether or not they wanted to return to hear the chat. Now Shaw's work is in the public domain (which means it can be changed at will), and that knowledge brought a light gleaming into Maxwell's eyes. "Why couldn't I find a way to take all of Shaw's provocative thoughts?" she asks, "and use them as a way INTO the play, instead of something we listened to when it was all over?"
She kept returning to the sequence where a clergyman from 1920 appears to announce Joan has just been made a saint. "And suddenly I thought, `This is it! This is where I want to start this play.' " So Maxwell chopped up Shaw's epilogue, turned it into a prologue and created a sequence where "these World War I soldiers come out of a trench and one of them is Joan." Maxwell makes it clear she hasn't moved Shaw's play into World War I, but she uses it "as a way of accessing the script." Sue LePage's costumes combine the past and present in a way that creates "multiple political resonances," in Maxwell's words. All of this makes perfect sense to Blair Williams, who plays Warwick, the Englishman who helps bring Joan down. "This approach puts it into a line of soldiering," he explains, "one in which we've all been struggling for a long time – both as military men who fight wars and as individuals who are working on our own personal connection to the divine." The mixture of politics and religion in the play is something Williams feels makes it totally relevant today. "We like to say the religious is not political," he concedes. "But how can you maintain that when you look at Iraq or deal with an American president who truly believes in the apocalypse?" In Williams' mind, "Warwick is like Donald Rumsfeld, one of those people who make decisions that cause thousands of people to die, but then go home to a world where their housekeeper makes sure everything is nice and tidy for them.
"Warwick wants to have Joan destroyed, but he doesn't actually want to see her burn. That would make him go mad." But what of the Maid herself? It takes a special actress to handle all of the complex and contradictory elements in the character. Maxwell enumerates the requirements of the role. "I needed someone you could believe as a peasant, yet someone who could hear voices from God, rally an army, stand up to a frightening Inquisition and yet defend her honour to the death, thrillingly." She pauses for effect. "I have that woman in Tara Rosling." "It's a role I've always wanted to play," Rosling admits with her beguiling candour, "but when you start to process all the things that it involves ... oh my God!" Her normally throaty voice throbs like an organ with all the stops out as she contemplates the challenge she's let herself in for. "The play lives in two different worlds: there's the innocence of what Joan believes in and then there's the political duplicity that surrounds her. When the two finally meet at the scene in the cathedral where everyone turns against her, it's welcome to the real world, girl – and by the way, it's a jungle." The saintliness of Joan is another tricky thing for Rosling to approach because, as she admits, "I don't come from any kind of Christian background. For me, it's all a journey of understanding. Faith feels like a huge heart to me. You look at a tree or a stone and realize we are all one thing. We are all part of a universal energy." Rosling admits, "I don't sit at home and mourn the state of the Earth or of humanity." But she concedes, "If Joan were alive today, they'd probably try to destroy her again. As soon as someone comes along who threatens our conventional belief systems, it's too much for many people to comprehend and so they must be crushed." But for now, Rosling seems infused with the very spirit of the Maid of Orleans. "It's so inspiring to play a woman who clings to her convictions right to the end, who says, `I believe in this so much that I would die for it.' " Or as Maxwell puts it, "This is the story I believe we were born to tell, right here, right now."
Prodigal Sons Return
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(out of 4)
By David French. Directed by Ted Dykstra. Until June 16 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St. 416-866-8666
(May 04, 2007) If there was only one reason to make Soulpepper Theatre Company's production of Leaving Home the must-see play of this spring, it would be the triumphant return to our stage of Kenneth Welsh. This extraordinarily powerful actor has been devoting his energy to film and television for far too long, but the minute he bursts into the middle-class confines of Patrick Clark's picture-perfect set, you capture the frightening, but somehow reassuring, sensation of a wild animal who has returned to his native habitat. As Jacob Mercer, the hard-drinking, free-swinging patriarch of the family that David French has lovingly – but mercilessly – depicted in this play, Welsh brings a lifetime of frustrated feeling to every single personal interaction. Whether he's mocking his younger son, sniping at his long-suffering wife or flirting with a tarty neighbour, you sense the bottled-up pain behind every line. America has Brian Dennehy, England has Michael Gambon and we have Kenneth Welsh: a giant to be proud of. But the rediscovery of the explosive Welsh talent is only one of the many things to celebrate in the production that opened last night and that I saw at its final preview. French's play is far more than a footnote from CanLit: the first great "kitchen sink" play in our culture, but one which has inexplicably not been professionally produced in Toronto since its 1972 premiere.
The story is a simple one: a shotgun wedding is about to split apart the Mercer family, but events that transpire the night before the ceremony change each person's life forever. Yet what plays out on the stage is far more surprising than that simple description may make it sound. There's a savage humour that keeps spilling over the edges in Ted Dykstra's freewheeling staging, forcing us to laugh at moments that are almost too awful to witness. It's a much funnier play than most of us remember and a much tougher one as well. Parents and children hurl epithets at each other that fill the air with hatred. Physical violence erupts as well: sudden, brutal and uncompromising. There's precious little sentimentality here, but there's a great deal of profound human feeling. The whole question of what holds a family together and what tears it apart is the very essence of French's still-amazing play. Every last member of Dyk- stra's cast is first-rate. Diane D'Aquila's Mary Mercer is the perfect match for Welsh's Jacob. She's a tough but loving woman, coiled tighter than any spring, with an inner strength that we watch in awe.
Martha MacIsaac and Anthony Johnston are effective as the feckless bride-and-groom-to-be, but you can't help feel just a bit that French has written these roles the least fully. There's also an astonishing scene-stealing turn from Jane Spidell as the foul-mouthed, loose-limbed mother of the bride, full of rich sensuality, ribald humour and deeply suppressed anger. It signals a new career direction for the talented Spidell and she makes it a personal triumph. Mention must also be made of Oliver Dennis, as a morose mortician who says not a word but earns more than his share of laughter: fine work, indeed. But the performance that has to stand up to the white heat of Welsh's inferno is that of Jeff Lillico, who plays the sensitive other son, Ben, the object of his father's misguided love and fearful wrath. Lillico chokes down his hurt for most of the evening, letting us see a decent young man in agony. But when he finally erupts and turns on Jacob with the pent-up rage of a lifetime, it makes for one of the most heart-stopping moments on a Toronto stage in recent years. Welcome back, David French. Welcome back, Kenneth Welsh. Thank you, Soulpepper Theatre, for bringing these two prodigal sons back to our stage, where they belong.
Malcolm-Jamal Warner Tackles ‘Social
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 9, 2007) *Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner has written and will star in a new play titled “Love & Other Social Issues,” which “gives a bird's-eye view on inner-city life, self-esteem, matters of the heart, drug culture and the ever-constant changes in life," according to show notes. Kianga Entertainment and Pamela Warner present the West Coast premiere of the production on June 2 at the Assistance League Playhouse (1367 N. St. Andrews Place in Los Angeles) for a run through July 8. Warner – a veteran of TV’s “The Cosby Show” who has previously appeared onstage in Three Ways Home, Cryin' Shame, Freefall and A Midsummer Night's Dream – will be accompanied on the “Social Issues” stage by a jazz-funk ensemble. The play is under the direction of Denise Dowse, an actress best known for her role as Vice Principal Tensley on "Beverly Hills 90210." “Social Issues” debuted in 2003 at The National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem. For tickets, call (323) 960-7784.
Financial Planner Writes, Stages And Pays For Her Own Dance
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Dance Writer
(May 09, 2007) Sometimes you just have to do it all yourself. In fact, in the increasingly underfunded and under-subscribed arena of contemporary dance, choreographers are becoming show presenters. But not all of them have the advantages of Armineh Keshishian, artistic director of Awareness Unlimited. By day, Keshishian is a certified financial planner for Investors Group. Born in Iran of Armenian descent, she began taking belly dance lessons in 1991. Then she began writing little stories, imagining them as staged scenarios. "They all dealt with questions such as `Who are you? Where are you coming from?'" says the Toronto entrepreneur. Strung together, they made a three-hour screenplay. Then she envisioned a stage show. She and a group of dancers began working together in September 2005. Keshishian knew she had a lot to learn, so she consulted with directors and others in the performing arts. "I saw this show taking place in the Winter Garden," she says. Her dream becomes a reality on Friday at 8:30 p.m., when Evolution ... of the Human Kind opens at that theatre for two nights.
"Things are always evolving. It really means to become better," says Keshishian, in explanation of her title. Her personal philosophy of seeking harmony among the spirit, mind and body guided her artistically. Twenty dancers, including Keshishian, enact the numerous scenes of Evolution. The mere fact of the show makes a point, says the dancer. "In Iran, women are not allowed to dance in public. They are socially restricted." In Evolution, there's an unveiling, both literal and figurative. "Half the cast is Middle Eastern. The other half comes from everywhere: they're Caribbean, or Chinese, European, English, Ukrainian. The whole theme is that we are one human race and human emotions are all the same." Keshishian applied both artistic and business instincts to mount the show, described in her press release as "storytelling with modern, jazz and belly dance styles; lifting the veil off ancestral Middle Eastern traditions as it journeys from the ancient times of the Pharaohs to the present." Last October and November, she rented the Studio Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts and held two three-night workshop productions of Evolution. After each performance, she hosted a reception and polled the audience members for their reactions. "Some rated the show as a 9 out of 10. The lowest we got was 6 1/2." A garrulous self-promoter, Keshishian is nothing if not resourceful. She had costumes and scenery built, paid for a website, programs, posters and a publicist. In the marketing department, she hasn't missed a trick. People who register as "Friends of Armineh" get $5 off the ticket price. Investors Group employees are also entitled to a cut rate. And the choice of Mother's Day weekend was not an accident. The money it takes to put on a show like this – about $100,000 – was all from Keshishian's own pocket. Government grants are not available to first-timers. Who knows how Evolution will fit with a Toronto audience. But if the show falls short of a complete success it won't be for ignorance of show business.
Isabella Blow, 48: Fashion Stylist And
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press
(May 08, 2007) LONDON – Stylist and fashion guru Isabella Blow, a vibrant and often outrageous presence on the British fashion scene, has died, her husband said. She was 48. Detmar Blow said she died in the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in western England. News reports said she had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Renowned for her larger-than-life hats and blood-red lipstick, Blow was credited with discovering designer Alexander McQueen and milliner Philip Treacey. She helped launch the careers of models including Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl. Most recently, Blow was an editor-at-large for Tatler magazine. "She was in the office just last week, bursting with ideas. They sounded impossible, but you always knew with Isabella it would work and be marvellous," Tatler editor Geordie Greig told The Daily Telegraph. "She was bored by clichés. She didn't do ordinary or dull." Born Isabella Delves Broughton in London in 1958, Blow moved to New York in 1979 to study ancient Chinese art at Columbia University. She soon dropped out and moved to west Texas to work for Guy Laroche. In 1981, she met Anna Wintour, then fashion director of U.S. Vogue, and was hired as her assistant. "I don't think she ever did my expenses, but she made life much more interesting," Wintour told The Times newspaper on Monday.
Blow later returned to London, where she worked for Tatler, the Sunday Times and British Vogue. She met Detmar, an art dealer, at a wedding in 1987. They became engaged just 16 days later and married the following year. Blow asked Treacey to design her bridal headdress, and a fashion collaboration was born. She would serve as muse for a host of Treacey headgear, including "The Ship" – a replica 18th century clipper in full rigging. Another creation, the "Gilbert & George" – a mass of pink and green lacquered ostrich feathers stuck into a mortar board – was so wide that Blow was unable to navigate the door of the charity event for which she had ordered it. A 2002 exhibition and accompanying book, "When Philip Met Isabella," featured Blow in some of Treacey's most memorable creations. "I don't use a hat as a prop. I use it as a part of me," she told The Guardian newspaper before the exhibition's launch. "If I am feeling really low, I go and see Philip, cover my face and feel fantastic."
Corrales Dies In Motorcycle Accident
Excerpt from www.thestar.com
(May 08, 2007) LAS VEGAS (AP) – Diego Corrales, who won titles in two weight classes and was involved in one of the most exciting fights in recent years, died in a motorcycle accident a few kilometres from the Las Vegas Strip. He was 29. His promoter, Gary Shaw, said Corrales was driving his motorcycle at a high rate of speed when he ran into the back of a car Monday night. Shaw said Corrales, whose career had faltered the past two years, recently bought a racing motorcycle and apparently was riding it the time he was killed. "He fought recklessly and he lived recklessly," Shaw said. "That was his style." Las Vegas police spokesman Jose Montoya said the victim in the accident was wearing a helmet, and police were investigating if drugs or alcohol was involved. Corrales, who fought most of his career at 130 pounds, was a big puncher best known for getting up after two 10th-round knockdowns to stop Jose Luis Castillo on May 7, 2005, in what the Boxing Writers Association of America and numerous boxing publications called the fight of the year.
Corrales, though, was knocked out by Castillo in the rematch and then had three straight fights undermined at the weigh-in. Castillo couldn't make weight twice against Corrales, and the second time Corrales refused to fight him at the higher weight, costing himself a $1.3 million (U.S.) payday. And then Corrales weighed in a whopping five pounds over the weight limit for his WBC 135-pound title defense against Joel Casamayor, and went on to lose the fight. He lost his last three fights, including his last one April 7 against Joshua Clottey in Springfield, Mo. He had moved up two weight divisions to welterweight for that fight. Corrales was born in Sacramento, Calif., and lived in Las Vegas in recent years. He won his first 33 fights and held a piece of the 130-pound title before he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a unification fight in January 2001. Corrales was sent to jail on a domestic abuse charge after that fight, and didn't fight again for two years. He came back to fight a trilogy against Casamayor, losing two of the three fights, and split a pair of fights with Castillo. "He always cared about the fans and gave them their money's worth," Shaw said. "He was a true warrior. He was what boxing stood for, and what boxing is all about."
Prospect Could Fly With Jets
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Rick Matsumoto
(May 08, 2007) The Argonauts seem likely to lose another draft pick to the NFL. Linebacker Aaron Wagner, who had an outstanding season with Brigham Young University, will be in Hempstead, N.Y., Thursday and, barring a hitch following a final workout, should sign with the New York Jets by the end of the day. The 25-year-old Lethbridge, Alta., native was selected by the Argos in the second round of the 2006 Canadian college draft, but elected to return to BYU for his senior year after suffering a knee injury that cost him most of the 2005 season. It proved to be a smart move. Wagner recorded 75 tackles, 43 solo, and caught the eye of the Jets. "They worked him out on pro day back in March (in Provo, Utah)," Wagner's agent, Steve Gerritsen, said, "and they were impressed."
While the Jets didn't take him in last week's NFL draft, Wagner was contacted shortly thereafter and arrangements were made for him to fly to New York. Gerritsen said Wagner hasn't formally signed a contract, but fully expects to do so after the final workout. The Argos were prepared for Wagner getting an opportunity with an NFL team, but have left the door open for him. "He's prepared to join the Argos if he doesn't make it in the NFL," Gerritsen said. "Being a Canadian, he'd love to play in the CFL. But his goal for now is to play in the NFL." From last year's draft, the Argos lost offensive tackle Dan Federkeil to the Indianapolis Colts as well as running back Clifton Dawson, who also signed with the Colts this spring after finishing his senior year at Harvard.
Garbajosa Top Rookie Class
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Doug Smith
(May 08, 2007) Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbajosa became the first Raptor teammates ever named to the NBA's all-rookie team Tuesday. Bargnani finished second in voting to Portland's Brandon Roy while Garbajosa finished tied for fifth with Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge in balloting by the league's 30 head coaches. Roy was a unanimous first-team selection while Bargnani appeared on 29 first-team ballots and one for the second team. Garbajosa got 13 votes for the first team, 11 for the second and was left off six ballots. Bargnani, who also finished second to Roy in the rookie of the year balloting, was third in rookie scoring, averaging 11.6 points per game while Garbajosa was fifth in rookie rebounding at 4.9 per game. Rounding out the first team were Randy Foye of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies. The second team comprised Utah's Paul Millsap, Adam Morrison of the Charlotte Bobcats, Tyrus Thomas of the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota's Craig Smith. Boston's Rajon Rondo, Charlotte's Walter Herrmann and New Jersey's Marcus Williams finished tied for the final spot.
Fab Abs: Extreme
By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
The perfect no-stress environment is the grave. When we change our perception we gain control. The stress becomes a challenge, not a threat. When we commit to action, to actually doing something rather than feeling trapped by events, the stress in our life becomes manageable.
-- Greg Anderson, author of The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness
At some point you just have to make a
commitment. Everyone wants a flat and tight abdominal area, but much like
earning a Ph.D, 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 to 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.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - John F. Kennedy: 35th President of the United States
"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."