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LE NEWSLETTER

November 1, 2007


Good November morning - is it November already!?  It certainly doesn't seem like the holidays are only a few  weeks away.  But they're coming soon enough!

Did you hear?  Did you hear? Stevie is coming to town!  I've heard that this concert is absolutely amazing so I hope you've got your tickets!  And he's not the only one going on tour so have a look below.

Once again, there is plenty to read below so have a scroll and a read.

 

::TOP STORIES::

Stevie Wonder Tour Inspired By Mother

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(October 26, 2007) MONTREAL –
Stevie Wonder's legendary voice broke slightly when he was asked Thursday about how his deceased mother inspired him to go on his current tour.

Wonder is obviously still grieving for his mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, who died May 31, 2006. She had gone into the hospital for ``just a little thing," as he said she put it.

When he saw her the Monday before her death, she told him she would be out of the hospital that Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, she was gone by then," Wonder told a news conference before his concert at the Bell Centre.

The music superstar, who has been honoured with 25 Grammy Awards and has been the voice for some of the best-known pop songs over the past four decades, wanted to pack it in for a while.

"My position was I wasn't going to do any performances for a while. I said, `Let's shut everything down and not do any performances, hold the album for a while, don't really work on the CD.' "

But it turned out his mom wasn't finished with him yet.

"It was like my mother came to me in her voice and spirit and said, `Boy, you better get your butt on the stage. Go on and do what you do and spread your love.' "

He decided to go through with a scheduled private concert in Hawaii, and the current tour, based on his classic hits as well as new material, grew out of that.

Wonder, who is also a producer as well as a songwriter and musician, said he wanted to give something back to his fans on behalf of his mother with the tour.

Hardaway always encouraged her son's music and helped him to write some of his biggest hits, including "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."

Wonder's show in Montreal is his first in the city in more than 20 years. He said he's glad to be back.

"It was through the blessing of me having the gift of music that I was able to share my music, have been able to share it with you," he said.

"But as well it was from your appreciation of the music that I have done and that I do that made it possible for me to give my mother a better life than she would have had, so I thank you for that."

The 1984 Academy Award winner for the song "I Just Called to Say I Love You" (from the movie "The Woman in Red") has had 30 Top 10 hits and released 35 albums. His next album is inspired by his mother and is called "Gospel Inspired by Lula."

The 57-year-old musician, who played an electronic piano at various times during the news conference, said it is a lot of fun to be back on the road.

"It's a way of expression, it's a way of sharing and showing," he said.

He spoke about Motown and his youth, such as how he composed an early draft of "My Cherie Amour" when he was a teenager to woo a girl named Marcia.

He had the chorus down – "Oh, my Marcia" – but not much else in the way of words.

"We broke up," he said with a laugh.

Wonder has been involved in many causes and said he would consider using a tour as a gesture for social change.

"I was very excited in seeing the whole concert that happened for global warming. To me that's the kind of thing that we need to focus on, on what we need to do change the world to make it better.

"Fires are burning so hot in California that I can see them," joked the blind musician.

"There's a need for us to never forget about the commitment that we have to the perpetuation and preservation of life itself."

He praised a lot of the social conscience in music now and is encouraged by many artists. He said he has talked to Celine Dion about performing together and described her as having "a wonderful voice, a wonderful spirit."

But he did have a word of caution to anyone whose head starts to get too big based on early success.

"Don't get full of yourself," he said is the main thing he's learned from his long career.

He acknowledged that sometimes that's difficult to avoid given how much stars are catered to, but added that even the best still have things to learn.

"I just encourage those young artists to grow, want to know more. If you really love music, don't get hung up on the visual things or the money you can get."

Geminis Lack Surprises

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Television Columnist

(October 29, 2007) Last night's
Gemini Awards live from beautiful, downtown Regina were pleasant enough but lacking in surprises.

I've always felt the red carpet shows to be more entertaining than the actual awards. Stopping by to chat on a special edition of ET Canada were Corey Haim, Jason Priestley, Jessica Holmes, Sarah Chalke and Anne Heche. With all this talent pre-empted by Global, was there any reason to watch the Geminis, truncated to an hour on CBC?

The highlight was the opening with host George Stroumboulopoulos getting off a bus, alighting right beside the Corner Gas set and star Brent Butt. He was then chased and/or assailed by various TV personalities, including the cast of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Peter Mansbridge from The National and even Alex Trebek on Jeopardy!, for calling Saskatchewan flat.

It's too bad the whole hour wasn't as off kilter.

Slings & Arrows was once again a bull's eye for Gemini voters, winning Best Drama for the second year in a row and bringing series lead Paul Gross his sixth Gemini, his second for that show.

Corner Gas, meanwhile, took home Best Comedy for the third year in a row. It also won Best Writing in a Comedy and Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Series last night, the award Butt said he wanted the most. "This is the one I was really hoping we would win at some point eventually, because I really believe that this is a super strong cast," he told reporters.

It's when the unexpected happened that the Geminis caught fire. Like Phyllis Ellis winning Best Individual Performance in a Comedy for The Wilkinsons and stating, "I'm sure you're wondering who I am." Now we know.

When Gross took his Best Actor in a Drama Gemini, he tried to turn it around by thanking another contender, the late William Hutt, and bringing Hutt's nephew, Peter Hutt, onstage.

But the gesture was cut off as the band played out to a commercial, which angered Slings & Arrows director Peter Wellington.

"Their insistence that the snappy music comes in so that no one gets too self-indulgent is a little tasteless," Wellington said. "It's one of those things that makes you say, `Oh yeah, Canada right, we screw it up again.'"

Gross said later that it was seeing Hutt playing Shakespeare's King Lear at Stratford that inspired him to become an actor when he was 11.

"It was quite a magical experience to be with him toward the end of his career and at the end of his life," said Gross, who worked with Hutt in Slings & Arrows' final season.

For Best Actress in a Drama, Martha Burns, Gross's wife, was the expected winner for the second time. She deserved it, but there was no tension, just as there wasn't when the gang from Corner Gas won.

There were also no surprises as Ron MacLean won as Best Sportscaster and rattled off the same shtick he'd already used on ET Canada. At 8:54, Little Mosque took the Canada Award, which we already knew about. So it was down to this: watching the clock and seeing if all the awards would make it.

By my count, five awards didn't get handed out on TV, including Best Direction in a Drama, which went to Chris Haddock for Intelligence.

The Viewers' Choice Award for a Canadian on a U.S. show went to Howie Mandel, the host of game show Deal or No Deal, a list of nominees that also included 24's Kiefer Sutherland, Sandra Oh of Grey's Anatomy, Lost's Evangeline Lilly, Boston Legal's William Shatner and Kristin Kreuk of Smallville.

When it comes time for next year's Geminis, why not take viewers into consideration? Stop the endless roll call of awards and give those off camera before the show starts. Save the hour for truly celebrating Canadian TV by turning it into a big party like the old ACTRA Awards.

Winners and losers would be at tables so the host could chit-chat with them. Introduce more comedy sketches, make it a true celebration of talent. And just maybe more Canadians will be watching.

Eternia Back With A New EP, Tour

Source: urbnet

Oct. 29, 2007
(New York) – Female rap sensation, Eternia, is set for the international release of her new digital EP, "The Setup". To promote the release, she's embarking on a European tour with Pharoahe Monch, O.C.,  Reef the Lost Cauze, Necro, Zion I, the Snowgoons and others. Canada 's leading lady will head to Switzerland , Germany and Denmark on Nov 1st for two weeks of shows, performing with some of hip hop's finest emcees. The tour begins November 2nd in Zurich and culminates on November 17th in Münster (see Appendix A), before Eternia returns to the U.S.A. and Canada  to continue the domestic leg of her promotional tour.

Guaranteed to be a hot commodity as soon as it drops, the digital EP features the hit single, "Do This Like Me", featuring Ness Lee and Poodie the Byz, with production by Cincinnati, and the b-side "Putcha Hands Up" featuring Wordsworth and production by DJ 3D.  The 8-song power player comes as a follow-up to the 26-song mixtape "Where I'm At - The Setup", released this past summer.   The digital EP offers a selection of the most popular and newest original material from "Where I'm At..." to a wider, international audience.  In addition to the lead singles, the EP features appearances by The Polyrhythmaddicts (Shabamm Sahdeeq, Mr. Complex, Tiye Phoenix & DJ Spinna), Torae and Ms. Davis. Providing the melodic backdrop for this seemingly unending roster of talent, the EP features production by 9th Wonder (Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Little Brother), M-Phazes (Royce 5'9”, Supastition, Kenn Starr, Skyzoo) and Frequency (Snoop Dogg, Cam’ron, Ghostface, Joell Ortiz, O.C.) among others.

Juno-nominated and widely considered one of Canada 's foremost lyricists, Eternia continues to carry the torch for those Hip Hop aficionados who crave more. With six music video singles on international rotation and two critically acclaimed full-lengths released in 2005 – "Where I Been – The Collection" & "It's Called Life" (Urbnet Records/Fontana) – Canada 's "best kept secret" has paid good dues and is ready to prove it. Eternia has toured extensively in Canada , the U.S. , Australia , and Europe ; those that are lucky enough to catch her live credit her as one of the best performers they have ever witnessed.   It is Eternia's ability to convey her personality and life experiences fluidly through her rhymes (in addition to the ease with which she can annihilate people lyrically) that has kept those in the know checking for her for over a decade.

Beginning October 30th, "The Setupdigital EP will be available for purchase through iTunes, eMusic, MSN, Real/Rhapsody, Sony Connect and other digital retail outlets.

At 23, Helen Oyeyemi Has Published Two Critically Acclaimed Novels And Plays

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams

(October 30, 2007) Meeting British author
Helen Oyeyemi, you can't help but think of the caution printed on the sides of aerosol cans: "Warning: Contents Under Pressure."

Not that Oyeyemi, 23, is in any danger of exploding. An implosion is the more likely prospect, given the personal, academic, family and professional pressures that seem to weigh - and have weighed - on her youthful shoulders.

After all, it's not every young woman who, as a teenager, completes in secret an astonishingly mature novel before she graduates from high school, then goes on to score a two-book contract worth a reported $1-million and then earns a nomination for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. It's not every child, who from the age of 6, is hassled by her immigrant parents as to which university she plans to attend - Oxford or Cambridge? (Oyeyemi eventually chose Corpus Christi College in Cambridge and took social and political sciences.) And it's certainly not every girl who, at the age of 15, tries to kill herself with an overdose of pills only to be rescued by a quick-thinking 11-year-old sister - the same sister to whom Oyeyemi, six years later, would dedicate her acclaimed debut The Icarus Girl with the words, "Sorry about that time I pretended to be the Angel of Death."

Life remains a high-pressure container for Oyeyemi. In the summer, she moved to New York from London - which has been her home, more or less, ever since her Nigerian parents moved there in 1988 - in preparation for a two-year MFA program in creative writing at Columbia University. Three months earlier, Penguin published her second novel, The Opposite House, to great acclaim at the same time as she was invited to this month's International Festival of Authors in Toronto (she also appeared at this month's Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival). Did we mention she has also had two plays published and is working on a third novel?

Sitting outside a Toronto Starbucks on a recent sunny afternoon, Oyeyemi seemed not so much driven as girlish - a little nervous, a little shy, but quick to laugh and palpably intelligent. Asked why, given her success as a bestselling, critically lauded author, she's taking a degree in creative writing, she explained that it's more backup strategy than a case of carrying coals to Newcastle. "Novels come about so mysteriously for me, it's a worry," she observed. "I mean, I have all these ideas for books right now, but the wellsprings might just dry up all of a sudden. I might need to teach one day" and getting a graduate degree "seems only fair."

Two books into the sport of novel writing, Oyeyemi still doesn't think of herself as a writer because "I don't write every day and isn't that what a real writer is supposed to do?" Instead, she "would just as soon be called a reader because that is something I do every day." She laughed. "I've gradually built my identity around books. I'm almost a literary map more than a person."

Yet even here she has her doubts. While confessing to being "cynical about the idea of home, of nationality," she didn't know how secure an identity literature could provide, either. "I don't think it's sane to go into something so deep that's not real, which is what the novel writer does: He slips from this world."

Oyeyemi claimed she loved writing The Icarus Girl, about a mixed-race eight-year-old and her imaginary friend, "because I didn't know it was a novel. I just wrote it." She wrote undetected at home in a subsidized housing project in south London, while her mother worked as a supervisor for London's subway system and her dad as a special-needs teacher.

By contrast, preparing The Opposite House, with a fractured narrative split between grotty contemporary London and a mythic "somewhere house" populated by Yoruba-speaking spirits from the Santeria religion, was much more onerous. "Terrible," in fact, "since I now was feeling self-conscious about the process. There's this awareness that you have to write as if you're not aware, otherwise the text is not going to breathe."

Oyeyemi likes living in New York but isn't that keen on attending Columbia or any university ("I find them oppressive ... I don't know why I keep coming back to them for more punishment"). At the same time, she doesn't intend to stay there when she finishes her degree in 2009 nor return to London or even to go to Nigeria, which she last visited more than five years ago. "I'm restless, I think, and never really content. My mind travels a lot and attaches itself to stuff. Like, I spent so much time imagining New York before I came that when I got there, it was like I'd already moved in!"

Berlin might be a possible destination. Oyeyemi has a grasp of conversational German and "I think it could get fluent if I immersed myself in a German-speaking environment."

Perhaps, it's suggested, she needs an experience akin to that of the protagonist in Against Nature, Joris-Karl Huysmans's famous 1884 novel without a plot. In that book, the jaded anti-hero, inspired by reading Charles Dickens, decides on the spur of the moment to travel to London from his home in Paris. En route, he visits a pub-like bar where he overhears the conversations of English tourists, eats British fare and consults a London guidebook. With that, he decides to return to Paris: He figures he has had the quintessential English experience and "it would be madness to risk spoiling such unforgettable experiences by a clumsy change of locale."

"Oh," she laughed softly, "I wish there was a place like that somewhere where I could just sample everywhere and then just decide. ... I just don't know where in the world I want to live yet. There are so many places and none of them are my home that I feel I might as well try as many of them as possible."

Mitchell Has A Burning Passion For Basketball - And Life

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

(October 30, 2007) In his unguarded moments, when the television lights are off, the notebooks are put away and the tape recorders are shut off, the true passions of
Sam Mitchell come at you.

In waves. Unrelenting waves.

There's nothing the Raptor coach likes better or does better than talk. Sure, he loves to coach basketball and look good and eat well and live life in a manner to which we'd all like to become accustomed, but it is talk that he does best.

Mitchell begins his fourth season as the head coach of the Raptors tomorrow night, an eventful journey to say the least. Few had any idea what he was truly like – emotional, young, given to the odd outburst – when he took over in 2004. He was hamstrung by a roster of marginal talent, anointed "worst coach in the NBA" in one anonymous player poll and yet he persevered. He spoke of staying true to himself and the way he handled his job – a wise course, given that he enters this season as the reigning coach of the year.

Through it all, he has remained engaging and infuriating, offering opinions on any subject, often unsolicited, hop-scotching from politics to religion to world affairs to clothes, to his life, our lives, the lives of people he's never met. He has as many opinions as suits.

His ability to get along with his players, demand respect and give it in equal measures, comes from his belief in treating them like men, with real lives.

"Don't forget now, they're athletes but they're human beings first, they're people. And at a certain point, you've got to care more about them as people than basketball players," he said.

"People are going to make mistakes, they're going to have illnesses, people in their family are going to get sick, pass away. You've got to be conscious of that and understand at a certain point when a guy's going through a hard time, you've got to deal with him as a person, not as a basketball player."

As he enters his fourth season – already the longest-tenured head coach in franchise history and just 14 victories from becoming the winningest Raptor coach ever – the prevailing thought around those close to this team is that Mitchell has somehow mellowed.

He disputes it, of course – "I don't feel calmer, I don't feel any less intense. I still feel that I get after the players and push myself, if it's going to make our team perform better if they feel that I'm calmer, I'm all for it" – but he does seem more relaxed.

It might have something to do with the fact he has more talent at his disposal than ever had. The Raptors were bad in 2004-05, worse in '05-06, but vastly improved last year. No one can say for certain how this season will unfold, but Mitchell knows he has better players this year and that makes his job easier.

"I feel that I don't have to be perfect in everything that I do. I feel like I can call a play and it may not be the right play and we still have a chance because our talent level is better," he said. "In the past, if I called a play or if I put us in a certain situation, I felt like I had to be 100 per cent because we weren't good enough for us to overcome me making a mistake.

"Now if we break down, I've got T.J., I've got Jose, I've got Chris, I've got Andrea, I've got so many guys ... who can make a play out of a bad play."

His more relaxed demeanour might also have something to do with the unfathomable amount of money he's making (his new contract could reward him with $16 million), but that would surmise the money is what drives him.

He's not prone to much extravagance. The first thing he did this summer after signing his new deal was make donations to the church of his youth, the church of his wife's youth and the church they attend now and he's putting an addition on his Atlanta-area home in case an in-law or a parent needs to come live with his family.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Inuit Performer's Heart In Her Throat

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Staff Reporter

(October 29, 2007) SEVILLE, SPAIN–Canada's most ancient vocal tradition took the stage alongside one of the country's newest sounds here at the world-music industry's biggest annual gathering.

Inuit performer
Tanya Tagaq delivered an almost shocking rendition of Arctic throat-singing on the weekend, appearing bare-legged in a gown cut to her hips and at one point bursting into tears.

"I can't believe I did that," she said on her way out of the ornate Lope de Vega theatre, near where Christopher Columbus set sail for the Americas in 1492. "I wanted to go deeper so I tried crying."

Her gown was cut like an Inuit parka, with a short flap in front and a longer one behind. The sounds that emerged from deep within her ranged from starkly primordial to frankly sexual, accompanied by a cello player and an electronica DJ.

"The best show of the festival," Marlon Klein of unorthodox German band Dissidenten said afterward.

"She's not trying to copy any modern style," said his equally enthusiastic bandmate Uve Müllrich.

On a different stage late Saturday, Cuban-born vocalist and would-be Toronto resident Telmary Diaz displayed her pioneering style of Cuban rap, mixing conventional singing with combative rapid-fire lyrics.

For nearly a year – on a temporary visa – she has been winning audiences in Toronto's Latin clubs billed simply as Telmary, with plans to secure landed immigrant status and expand her career with manager and former Parachute Club drummer Billy Bryans.

Both Tagaq and Telmary were playing coveted showcase spots at Womex, the world music expo, a gathering of musicians, tour managers, record labels and festival organizers from across Europe and increasingly, North America.

Among the 2,800 registered delegates – the most ever – a number of Canadians could be spotted, including Latin singer Amanda Martinez, perhaps Toronto's hardest-working independent artist.

"I'm here to learn," she said during a chance encounter at a gathering that is part concert series, part conference and part trade fair. "I have a top-selling record in Toronto and a band itching to tour."

Nadine McNulty, artistic director of Afrofest at Queen's Park, could be seen scouting acts for next summer and finding them in some of the gathering's most obscure corners. Her top discovery, she said, was Anselmo Johanhane, virtuoso of a rarely played stringed instrument from Mozambique and leader of a group called Neco Novellas.

"He's one to watch," McNulty said. Other Canadian delegates included Quebec folk alliance members, Canada Council representatives, a Harbourfront Centre scout, and Toronto-based promoter and band manager Derek Andrews, a founding member of the event in 1994.

As elsewhere in the industry, Internet file sharing and plummeting CD sales proved priority discussion topics, although many delegates spoke of the surge in demand for live music.

Frenetic New York collective Balkan Beat Box proved a festival hit and picked up three BBC Radio 3 award nominations during closing ceremonies yesterday, honouring a range of generally roots-based music from around the world.

The 2007 Womex festival award went to Andy Palacio and his producer Ivan Duran for their hit album Watina, which brought the previously unknown music of Latin America's Garifuna people to world attention. Palacio and his band, the Garifuna Collective, played Harbourfront last summer.

Al B's Sure About His New Projects

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2007) *When was the last time you were riding in your car and thought, "Whatever happened to
Al B. Sure, aka Albert Brown?"

Well, if you are one of those folks, then you're among a multitude of fans who remember his smooth New Jack Swing/balladeer stylings from the late 80s. 

EUR's Lee Bailey ran into the man who popularized getting a "curl" on top of your box fade.  These days Sure is certain his musical relevancy remains.  The remake of "Nite And Day" is a prime example of that.

"Officially it's Fabolous and some cats from Brooklyn named
Duo Live and it's gonna be off the chain," the crooner/radio show host told Uncle Lee.  "It's called 'Princess' and they're shooting the video in NYC. I'm getting ready to get on a plane right now."

Duo Live is more than a bunch of fella slinging CDs from their trunk.  They've done something few artists can claim, sold over 100,000 CDs from the trunks of their cars.

"I'm proud of these cats," Al B. continued. "They held it down in the streets and they're one of the only independent groups that sold about 200,000 records just getting on their grind, independently. So they're out there working on that video."

And what about the man himself?  Just because he hasn't had a record out in ages, some think he fell off, but he's been busier than you think.

"And we've got Al B. working on the new album, which is called 'Honey I'm Home.' It's been quite a while, but its coming.  Everybody I run in to, from Anthony Anderson to Michael Jackson, are asking me 'When're you going to come with the new album.  I really love it and appreciate it.  It's about time now.  I've lost all the weight and it's time to do it."

He lost the weight?  Some of his female fans may be a little upset at that. Some liked the teddy bear look, but to each her own.  He's currently a popular radio show host from 9 am to 12 pm on LA radio station Hot 92.3.  It's a job Al B. Sure says he enjoys greatly.  By the way, radio and CDs aren't the only mediums he's dabbling in these days.

"Definitely, Hot 92.3 has been a blessing to me. I talk to (millions) of people everyday.  I'm definitely keeping the radio gig.  But I'm also in a new straight to DVD film with Blair Underwood. It's called 'The Hit' and it's on CodeBlack/Universal.  It also stars DeRay Davis and James Russo from 'The Godfather.'  It's a nice little joint."

Babyface To Launch Winter Tour

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2007) *
Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds has strung together a series of winter dates to promote his latest album "Playlist," which features covers of prominent album-oriented rock material.

The singer/songwriter/producer begins the tour Nov. 11 in Cabazon, CA, and will follow with 10 more shows scheduled through November and December, including a Dec. 1 visit to his hometown of Indianapolis, IN. [See full tour itinerary below.]

In other Babyface news, the performer will be featured on TV One's interview series "TV One on One" in an episode premiering Sunday, Nov. 4 from 8 to 9 p.m. ET and repeating at midnight. Host Cathy Hughes asks the Grammy winner about songs featured on "Playlist," his divorce from Tracey Edmonds, his unique friendship with former President Bill Clinton and much more.

Here is the itinerary for Babyface's winter tour:

November 2007
11 - Cabazon, CA - Club Vibe @ Casino Morongo
23 - Oakland, CA - Paramount, CA
24 - Sparks, NV - Rose Ballroom at John Ascauga's Nugget
30 - Auburn Hills, MI - Palace at Auburn Hills

December 2007
1 - Indianapolis, IN - Madame Walker Theater Center
2 - Cincinnati, OH - Cintas Center
7 - Philadelphia, PA - Keswick Theatre
10 - Alexandria, VA - Birchmere
12 - Atlanta, GA - Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center
14 - Norfolk, VA - Chrysler Hall

Rapper-Producer Buck 65 Returns To His Roots With New Album

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop Music Critic

(October 27, 2007) It looked like
Buck 65 had broken with hip-hop completely a couple of years ago but, apparently, it's harder to rip out one's roots than it might seem.

Buck's been one of the most inventive and literate MCs on the planet since he started knocking out a stream of slept-on underground records from his home base of Mt. Uniacke, N.S., during the early 1990s. Yet, as he's all too aware, innovation and literacy aren't exactly attributes highly prized by the hip-hop mainstream. And his gruff, roiling raconteur's microphone style and abstract beatmaking were already getting way too weird even for most alt-rap fans when a deal with Warner Music belatedly brought his catalogue to the world at large in 2003.

His last album, 2005's Secret House Against the World – a dizzying collage of Tortoise, Tom Waits, unstable art-rock, transatlantic folk and wilful avant-garde obscurantism recorded (naturally) while he was living in Paris with the granddaughter of Dadaist "founding father" Francis Picabia – bore little resemblance to anything out there, let alone the work of his would-be hip-hop peers. If they didn't want Buck 65, it seemed, Buck 65 no longer wanted anything to do with them.

Not so. The rapper/producer born Rich Terfry has come back hard to his musical first love on the bristling new Situation (out Tuesday), a collaboration with hot young Halifax turntablist Skratch Bastid pitting hardened rhymes against raw old-skool-flava'd beats.

"I'll admit to you that, after all the other considerations, I really wanted to rap my ass off on this record," says Terfry, sipping an Italian soda in a downtown café a few blocks from his recently adopted Trinity-Bellwoods home before a Thursday night show at the Music Gallery.

"I knew after the last one I wanted to make a stripped-down record next. I wasn't strictly thinking hip-hop, but I guess when you strip away a lot of the other layers I've had in there, you find some beats."

The link-up with Skratch Bastid (a.k.a. Paul Murphy) began as "nothing more than just messin' around" two years ago, he says, but the two grew sufficiently excited with what they were coming up with to move the project into a proper studio. Where, much to his surprise, Terfry quickly discovered his producer friend was completely unafraid to crack the whip.

Indeed, he largely credits Situation's upfront vitality to the Bastid, who compelled him to recapture the energy of his demos – the intangible quality unleashed "while I'm still feeling my skin crawl from whatever made me write in the first place" – on the final recordings.

"I was smart enough to send Paul the demos right after I'd recorded them and, man, was he a taskmaster in the studio – more so than I probably ever would have been on myself," laughs Terfry.

"He just had me doing stuff again and again and again until he had the performance that he remembered or he was looking for, and he brought a better performance out of me than I would have brought out of myself. It was an interesting experience and kinda humbling. You've gotta put your ego aside when you've got a kid 10 years your junior bossing you around and saying: `Not good enough! Do it again!'"

Not that Buck 65's "wilderness years" are entirely behind him.

He's been logging a lot of work with local musician John Zytaruk that he describes as "acoustic-based stuff, songs with just one instrument." There's also an ongoing project with one of the ladies from Krautrock-ing U.K. guitar band Electrelane. And already on MySpace you'll find the early stages of a planned album with Belgian electronic producer Greetings From Tuscan under the name Bike For Three! that finds Terfry exploring undulating electronic soundscapes inspired by the likes of Boards of Canada and Prefuse 73 and which, he concedes, "is a whole other horizon for me."

Situation itself isn't as straightforward as its unadorned presentation suggests, either, having been inspired by Terfry's ongoing fascination with Dadaism and, in particular, the 1950s climate that gave birth to the Situationist writings of Guy Debord.

"I was trying to understand the climate that bore it," he says. "From there, I started thinking about rock `n' roll really breaking into the mainstream and the Beat generation and Bettie Page and all this kind of craziness that was going on. When I think `50s, I always think ultraconservative times.

"But then I started figuring all these people, all these figures that were around, had a lot in common. Everybody started thinking the same way: `This is boring. We've gotta break out.' There was just this explosion of ideas."

Keke Wyatt's 'Ghetto Rose' Blooms

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

(October 26, 2007)  *After a very successful 2000 collabo with R&B star Avant on the track "My First Love," singer
Keke Wyatt, then just 16 years old, was on the rise in the music industry.

Fresh from that hit, she released her 2001 debut album “Soul Sister,” which churned out the single and was certified Gold.

Wyatt was on the fast track of stardom, but the brakes compressed after a Christmas Day incident that she’s almost become more known for than her soulful voice.

The “incident,” as she refers to it, was a domestic dispute Wyatt had with her husband Rahmat Morton where she stabbed him five times with a steak knife on December 25, 2001. Morton did not press charges; the police charges were eventually dropped, and Wyatt served no time for the episode.

With not much further detail, Wyatt explained that today her husband is still “in her life” – which seems appropriate since she penned the Pussycat Dolls hit “Stickwitu.”

Nevertheless, with that behind her, Wyatt started to take a break from recording and then channelled her vigorous passion and energy into her music, creating her latest album offering, “Ghetto Rose,” which as far as we can tell, has gone from being on TVT Record’s October release schedule to “Coming Soon” according her MySpace Page.

 “After I took the time off to get Keke straight, I had a deal with Cash Money [Records] and I was with them for about two years,” she said explaining her studio hiatus, “but that didn’t work out well for the simple fact of [Hurricane Katrina]. It put a damper on everything and everybody over there and I felt I didn’t have time to wait.”

Clearly a woman of action, Wyatt shopped her wares at the afore mentioned TVT Records and scored a deal with the indie label. That was over a year ago, but Wyatt explained that in addition to prepping music for the disc, she had to prepare herself.

 “After the ‘Christmas incident’ I had to get myself together emotionally and spiritually,” she said. “I had to make sure I was OK before I could come back out and get back in this grind. It’s rough and people have their comments and their way of thinking, so you just want to make sure you’re prepared for that.”

Which leads to Wyatt’s latest fight: seems the songstress has taken issue with an Essence.com reporter/interview over an August interview, claiming she was misquoted in the story in regard to her take on race, skin color and the N-word. [Listen to Wyatt’s side of the story on the EUR(pod)cast http://www.eurweb.com/story/eur37064.cfm]

 “They always will take a story and turn it all around and make it completely different than what it was. I know that, so I had to take some time off,” she said and resolved not to open herself up in interviews anymore.

Fortunately, the singer did talk to EUR’s Lee Bailey to share her side, refocus and talk more about the new album. She said that the Christmas incident and the Essence.com qualms are not what are really important right now.

 “At the end of the day, all I really want is for people to buy my album. That’s what I want,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what color I am. It doesn’t matter how I look. None of that matters. At the end of the day, if you love good music, if you enjoy R&B – that’s what I sing and that’s what I do best.

 “Ghetto Rose” - the title track from the new project - is available digitally at iTunes. It's also created a modicum of interest, and received quite good reviews. Wyatt describes the sophomore album as focusing on relationship issues, and includes her take on things that she’s experienced as well as what some around her have dealt with.

 “It has a lot to do with things I’ve seen my best friends go through. I just want to be able to help girls that might be in the same situation that I was in. I want to help them get out of whatever they might be going through. This album really hits home on a lot of situations in relationships. I have make up, breakup – you name it, it’s in there. It’s real life. It’s real R&B.”

Wyatt’s real life appears to have enough material for a number of discs as she’s admitted to being bumped around in life, the music industry, and the media. But the singer said that she will continue to fight her battles to make sure her fans get what they want.

 “I love music and I have so many fans out there that bought ‘Soul Sister’, that love my music and love me for who I am – as far as they know, and love me for my music and my voice, so I fight for them,” she said. “I’m a fan of other artists and I want music from them, though I know they go through hard times. I have over 500,000 people out there that love Keke Wyatt, so that’s why I fight so hard. I go through the crap that I go through for my fans. It’s worth it.”

Though concerned about how she’s handled by the media and viewed by the public, Wyatt is determined to share her talent with the new “Ghetto Rose” album, even though she’s realized that everything’s not always so rosy.

 “I’m very happy about my album coming out. And I love touring, I love meeting people, I love singing to people. I’m looking forward to it so much,” she said. “I love my fans very much and I thank them for being supportive and patient with me through all this time.”

To get the latest on Keke Wyatt and to hear "Ghetto Rose," visit her site at www.kekewyattmusic.com.

UPDATE: After inquiring, we were contacted by TVT spkesperson Joe Wiggans who told us the CD's release date has been pushed back to the first of the year.
 

Marvin Winans Live In The Studio

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By LaRita Shelby/RadioScope Editor

(October 24, 2007) The spirit of joy filled Studio A & B at Hollywood's historic Capitol Records to celebrate
Marvin Winans' first solo release. 

A debonair Marvin graced the crowd with renditions from "Alone But Not Alone" produced by Marvin L. Winans and Tommy Sims.  Marvin's strong and familiar voice lilted over Alone But Not Alone, I Still Believe, The Sinner's Prayer and more. 

Of course when Marvin sat down to the piano, there was no escaping a few choruses of Winans classics especially when brother BeBe made a surprise appearance. 

Also on hand was Bishop Charles Blake, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, Mary Mary's Erica Campbell, Patti Austin, Greg Phillenganes, Onitsha The Church Girl, Wren Brown, Chip Hurd, Tanya Hart and Mervin Warren just to name a few.    

The multi-talented Marvin Winans has been away from the main stage but he has been in full time ministry as Pastor of Perfecting Church in Detroit, Michigan. While the Alone But Not Alone album may be brand new, it is a collection of tunes that have amassed in Marvin's catalogue over the years. 

"It's been about eleven years since we (The Winans) recorded but I've always continued to write because I've continued to live and that's where our songs come from," Marvin recalls.  "It comes from the experience we live everyday.  Some of it's good, some of it's not so good but it's all good because it gives us the opportunity to touch other people."

Special guests on the project include Kim Burrell, DeShondra Rideout, Diamond Tigney, Kidz Of The Kingdom and The Perfecting Youth Chorale.  Marvin even favours fans with a duet by him and his late brother Ronald on He Brought Joy. Back in 2005 Marvin heeded a request from Ronald to join him on what would be their final session. 

"Ronald called me and said, 'Reverend, what are you doing?'  I said I was going to Nashville to work on this album and he said, 'take me with you.'  For whatever I said let's go. That was the end of April of 2005. While I was tracking, he was sitting in the studio and I wanted to do a reference verse.  While I was looking at him, I wrote a second verse and said, 'Ronald, you sing it.' That was April 05 and he passed at the end of June 05."   

From up-tempo anthems to melodious ballads, the new Marvin Winans CD is a blessing for the heart, mind and soul.  It is far from typical but very much predictable when measured by The Winans standards of excellence.

"I told my brothers God's going to use us to change the face of gospel music."

Marvin Winans and The Winans family have indeed ushered a new dimension in gospel music.  What has always been most entrancing about Marvin is his incredible songwriting and his heavenly voice. Let the church say amen and behold as this new album flies off the shelves setting Marvin Winans fans bound for glory! 

Rissi Palmer: She's A Black Country Singer, So What?

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Columnist

(October 27, 2007) She'll take all the ink, radio and TV talk time she can get, but at the back of
Rissi Palmer's mind lurks a disturbing question: Why is she getting all this attention when no one has seen her perform or heard her music?

The answer, she knows, is because she's Black, and plying her trade in country music, a milieu the industry long ago deemed white folks' territory.

Getting some respect as a legitimate artist with a solid commitment to, and grounding in, country music is an old and apparently unending battle for the 26-year-old Pittsburgh-born and St. Louis-raised singer-songwriter, whose self-titled debut CD hits the racks this week, thanks to a deal with a feisty independent Nashville-based label whose bosses know they're playing against a stacked deck.

"Country music is something I grew up with," Palmer said in a phone interview from Chicago, a couple of days before she was scheduled to do a televised performance on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the epicentre of the country music universe.

"My father and mother came from Georgia, and they listened to a lot of country music when I was young. In fact, Patsy Cline is probably my greatest influence, along with Dolly Parton and Vince Gill."

Palmer, who turned down a lucrative offer from a major pop label in 2000 to abandon her country ways for R&B and hip-hop, understands she has chosen a particularly tough row to hoe, given the demographics of the country music-buying audience (85 per cent white, 60 per cent female, according to Billboard) and traditional resistance to blacks in the country music field.

"It's not as if I'm the first black person to do this."

Indeed, black singer Dona Mason had a minor country hit in 1987 with "Green Eyes (Cryin' Those Blue Tears)."

But you have to go back 30 years to find a black artist who made a lasting mark on the country music charts.

"Ray Charles, who made crossover history with Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music in 1962 – it stayed at No. 1 on the billboard pop charts for 14 weeks – never made an appearance on American country music charts and was never played on country radio," noted Toronto music journalist and historian Larry Leblanc.

When 1970s black country music star Charley Pride's first single, produced in Nashville by white country music legend Chet Atkins, hit country radio, it was under the name "Country Charley Pride," and was distributed without pictures of the singer.

"His face didn't even appear on his first album cover," added Leblanc.

Country music isn't inherently racist, he pointed out.

Though descended from Scottish and Irish folk forms, American hillbilly music absorbed the structural, melodic and rhythmic influences of black "slave" music – rudimentary blues and gospel – long before it became a marketable commodity. Economic and geographical circumstances brought them together.

Even so, nary an eyebrow is raised when a white dude sings the blues, but a black singer doing country songs ... that's either a joke or a novelty, much like new country's overnight pop-up sensation Cowboy Troy.

"The Grand Ole Opry has had a small number of black musicians in its house band, as far back as the 1920s, when DeFord Bailey was the harmonica player," said Leblanc. "Ray Charles loved country music, and so did Louis Armstrong, who actually performed on a TV show (The Johnny Cash Show) in the 1960s with Johnny Cash."

Leblanc noted the Opry staple "Lovesick Blues," which country audiences didn't hear 'til Hank Williams released it in the 1950s, was recorded 30 years earlier by Bertha `Chippie' Hill, a black blues singer, and even earlier by African-American blackface minstrel star, Emmett Miller.

Just how and when country music became the exclusive turf of white Americans is a question that not even Rodney Hall, the veteran Muscle Shoals producer and Fame Music Group studio and label owner, can answer.

"There was no race barrier in Muscle Shoals (Alabama)," he said. "It became the destination for artists who were shut out of Nashville. My dad recorded (black country soul singer and songwriter) Arthur Alexander here in the early 1960s, but I have no idea why so few black American artists have tried since then to make it in country music. Maybe it doesn't interest them, or maybe the odds are too high."

Asked what advice he'd have given Rissi Palmer if she had approached him with a demo of one of the excellent country-pop songs that appear on her album, Hall said, " `Run!'

"If any artist ever breaks through that barrier, the effects on the music industry will be huge."

Refreshingly humble, Palmer points to her father and late mother as prime evidence of the fallacy that black Americans don't listen to country music.

"Country music connects with everyone," she said. "I was attracted to it because it's honest and real, and a good country lyric holds an essence of truth that's common to us all.

"I'm not trying to be countrier than thou ... I'm just putting my own spin on the music I love."

Erykah Badu, The Roots And More Will Be 'Shaking The Blues'

Source: PRnewswire.com

(October 25, 2007) LOS ANGELES  -- On Thursday, November 15, 2007,
Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA) will host "Shaking The Blues," a star-studded benefit, at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.

The evening combines the power of music and activism to shake off our blues -- from the personal to the global -- and make a difference in the world. The event will feature blues-influenced musical artists as well as a multi-cultural array of renowned entertainers who are donating their time and talents to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the US and Africa.

The event begins with a pre-show cocktail party for major donors at 6 PM. Shaking The Blues performances start at 7:45, immediately followed by a VIP after-party. Those confirmed to appear include Erykah Badu, Nikka Costa, Keb' Mo', Taj Mahal Trio, and The Roots, with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson serving as the event's musical director. Additional highlights include appearances by George Lopez, Jurnee Smollett, Blair Underwood, and other special guest stars soon to be announced.

Shaking The Blues, which continues ANSA's tradition of presenting one unique and extraordinary major fundraiser annually, is chaired by Dianna Cohen & Jackson Browne, Myrna Colley-Lee & Morgan Freeman, LaTanya Richardson Jackson & Samuel L. Jackson, Ann & George Lopez, Deborah Santana, Alfre Woodard & Roderick Spencer, and Keisha Nash-Whitaker & Forest Whitaker. Host committee members include J.J. Abrams, Gillian Anderson, Johnny Clegg, Danny Glover, Dule Hill, Quincy Jones, Norman Lear, Lebo M, Alexandra Paul, Chris Rock, Cicely Tyson, Blair Underwood, Alice Walker, Denzel Washington, and other luminaries.

"Last year, ANSA was honoured to host the 75th birthday celebration for our dear friend and advisor Archbishop Desmond Tutu," said ANSA's Executive Director Sharon Gelman. "He embodies the belief that justice and love will ultimately triumph and maintains a remarkable sense of humour, even in the face of enormous challenges. It is activists like him who inspire us to shake off the blues and take action to fix our world. That's the spirit of Shaking the Blues, which promises to be one of ANSA's best events ever."

Proceeds from the event will support ANSA's work in the US and Africa. ANSA will also donate a portion of the proceeds to the Treatment Action Campaign, the grassroots organization that is at the forefront of South Africa's fight against AIDS.

ANSA is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization working in the US and South Africa to combat HIV/AIDS, safeguard voting rights and democracy, advance human rights and equality, and assist and empower AIDS orphans and other at-risk youth. By working in partnership with effective grassroots organizations and pivotal movements on the frontlines of these issues, ANSA makes a substantial difference. Founded in 1989 to support South Africa's quest to end apartheid and build a new democracy, ANSA is now dedicated to eradicating social and health inequities that are the legacies of apartheid, segregation, and generations of poverty. In the past decade alone, ANSA has raised $9 million for effective African programs, shipped 70 tons of medical supplies and books to impoverished communities, and educated millions of adults and young people in the US, South Africa, and across the African continent about HIV/AIDS and voting rights. For more information: http://www.ansafrica.org

Attending Shaking The Blues is one of many ways to support ANSA. General admission tickets, ranging from $45 to $100, are available through Ticketmaster at http://www.ticketmaster.com and (213) 480-3232. For major donor and VIP tickets, ranging from $250 to $75,000, contact Blue Room Events: (310) 491-1401.

A Shaking The Blues online auction of one-of-a-kind items and experiences from President Bill Clinton, Denzel Washington, J.J. Abrams, Dule Hill, and many others, will launch October 29 at http://www.charityfolks.com/ansa.

Composer Elevated By Adding Film To Music

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Classical Music Critic

(October 27, 2007) Among the many stereotypes that New Yorker
David Lang shatters is the one of a lonely composer toiling away in an isolated garret.

"I'm very social," he says on the phone from his Manhattan apartment. "And I've figured out how to use my music as an offering to become friends with other people."

Lang's voice dances with energy as we discuss the inspirations that have made him one of the most engaging of contemporary American composers.

Lang tends to bring together disciplines, including film, dance and – the ultimate multimedia performance – opera.

He is also best known for his work as one of the three co-artistic directors of New York City's new-music group Bang on a Can, which he helped found in 1987.

"I believe that music has a special kind of emotional meaning by itself, but has an additional emotional power with other media."

The 50-year-old composer will be present tomorrow night at the Music Gallery as CONTACT contemporary music, Bradyworks, SOUNDplay, New Adventures in Sound Art, Pleasure Dome and the Music Gallery collaborate in the first full-length live performance of four works that mix music and film.

All the music is by Lang. American visual artists William Wegman, Bill Morrison and Matt Mullican supply three films. Lou Reed wrote lyrics for the fourth item on the program: Heroin, a piece for cello and voice.

The music and films are contained in the Elevated CD/DVD package, released in 2005. But the works will not have been performed live together before.

"I thought about how I would love to sit in a theatre and check this out live," says CONTACT artistic director Jerry Pergolesi. He emailed the composer, and won him over with sheer determination.

Pergolesi knew this would be a huge undertaking, from assembling the right musical forces to making the combination of music and film work together.

Both Pergolesi and Lang hope the premiere will succeed artistically as well as with the audience, so that Elevated can go on tour to other cities – including New York.

"This is a test," says Pergolesi, chuckling. "Like most first performances of new music, it's always a test."

At least the music is easy to take. Lang tends to write in repeated patterns of notes stacked and opposed to create a harmonic texture; there are long musical phrases that develop slowly atop the harmonics (sometimes influencing the harmonics); and there are even echoes of heavy rock in some pieces, with repeated chords on electric guitar.

This is music with a purpose – usually more hypnotic than aimed at telling a story in sound. Which is why it has worked so well with dance companies like La La La Human Steps in their show Amelia, and on the opera stage.

Unlike most film-music pairings, Elevated started with the music.

"When you see images and music together, usually the music comes second because it supports the emotional life of the image," explains Lang, who wanted to do the reverse for this project.

"I gave each of the artists a pep talk before they started," says Lang. And he was thrilled with the results.

The title video, Elevated, by Matt Mullican, is nearly 45 minutes of remarkably good archival home footage from New York City in the late 1930s. It starts with nighttime neon along Broadway, emerges into daylight at Coney Island, and glides into the ether at a football game.

The title comes from a sequence where we ride the elevated subway line in lower Manhattan. The sign on the platform reads: "Ride the open-air elevated."

The one moment of Canadian content comes as the camera lingers on the marquee at Madison Square Garden, which announces an "Americans vs. Canadiens" hockey game. The soundtrack is dark, brooding, meditative – a stark contrast.

"My music is a funeral march," says Lang. "There are all those people who are enjoying themselves, and they're all dead. I don't feel the liveliness and happiness and joy of those home movies. Now it's a fossil."

Strange words from such an upbeat guy.

"I don't mean to be morbid,," Lang continues. "I think what Matt did was really deep. He found the dark quality of the music without embracing it."

One could almost describe it as a 21st-century Proustian moment of time remembered, but never quite recaptured.

The other two films are more traditional arty fare. Bill Morrison set Lang's hard rock-tinged score to How to Pray, 10 minutes in the day of a wave-lapped iceberg.

The shortest is Treat Bottle, a disturbing five-minute peek into a dog's playtime with a glass milk bottle. It has the sparkliest score, a shimmering piano, which goes well with the clink and scrape of the glass against a concrete floor.

All the people involved in tomorrow night's presentation are excited about how this kind of program can help bring new audiences and new styles to new music.

"This is a portal that may or may not be a way to something larger," says Lang.

Just the facts
WHAT: Elevated: The Music of David Lang
WHERE: The Music Gallery, 197 John St.
WHEN: Tomorrow @ 8 p.m.
TICKETS: $10-$20 (door) or ticketweb.ca

Alicia Keys Makes 'Music History' At Benefit

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 29, 2007) *Fox411 columnist Roger Friedman raves about
Alicia Keys' performance Thursday night at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom for the fourth annual Keep A Child Alive fundraiser.

"And what they heard may go down in contemporary music history as the night Keys sang a Bono song — 'Ms. Sarajevo' — with opera star Kathleen Battle in English and Italian," wrote Friedman. "The performance, I learned, was Keys’ idea as a tribute to Bono and the late Luciano Pavarotti. The two had recorded the song as a duet."

Sheryl Crow and Gwen Stefani were on hand to perform with Keys to salute Bono, the night's man of honour.  "But nothing could prepare the audience for [the Kathleen Battle] moment, not even the astounding new songs from Keys’ forthcoming album, 'As I Am,' not even Keys and Crow’s sublime take on Bono’s 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' or Keys and Stefani on the latter’s hit, 'What You Waiting For.'

"In fact, by the time Keys got to the Battle duet, she’d performed the Marvin Gaye hit 'Inner City Blues,' R&B songs, pop/punk with Stefani and the blues with Crow on 'I Shall Believe.' All of it was revelatory including the six new songs that were so well-received the packed audience was singing along to lyrics they don’t even know to songs they’d never before heard.

"And the new material is extraordinary modern R&B glossed with '70s soul, from the single 'No One' — No. 1 on the charts — to the driving rocker 'Go Head,' the anthemic ballad 'Superwoman' and a pair of insanely good singles, 'That’s the Thing About Love' and 'Like You’ll Never See Me Again,' that should make the new CD a hit for many months. The latter already is being sent to radio stations as the album’s second single."

To read more of Friedman's review, click here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,305301,00.html#2  

Echoes Of Hip Hop's Heyday

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(October 29, 2007) For some of us, 1989 and 1990 was our late Sixties.  Hip-hop groups like the
Jungle Brothers were as much about being transported to idyllic Soul-land as about taking it to the street. House music was cell-splitting into endless variants. David Byrne was resurrecting Brazilian Tropicalia, and a land bridge of jazz beats was forming between Brooklyn and Dingwall's, a tiny, influential club in the middle of a flea market in London's Camden Town. You had to stop and catch yourself in amazement.

Maybe you had to be there. But that's why it's so astonishing to hear
Shad, a rapper who was only 7 or 8 at the time and growing up in London, Ont., channelling so effectively the atmosphere of that era in his new album The Old Prince, while barely sounding at all derivative. He doesn't even shy away from upbeat corniness, which was so much a part of the smiling vibe back then.

Born
Shadrach Kabango of Rwandan parents, he'll admit there's a retro quality in what he's doing, like all good hip hop. And if pushed, he'll agree that there's some general link to other socially conscious artists such as Chicago-bred Common, whom Shad opened for recently in Toronto, or Toronto's K-OS, whom he routinely gets compared to. All portray a kind of pining in their music for a time before hip hop exploded commercially.

"In a broader sense, I can see some see similarities between what Common does and what I do, as compared to 50 Cent and a lot of the stuff coming out of the South. Maybe a little more about real life and a little more introspective."

As for the time now commonly dubbed hip hop's golden age, "I wasn't really around for that era," says Shad, who is now 25. "But that is what my music gets compared to a lot of the time ... I remember Midnight Marauders [A Tribe Called Quest's 1993 album, a late relic from that era]. That's when I was around 10. But for some reason, I was still drawn to it even then."

Speaking on the phone from Vancouver where he's studying part-time at Simon Fraser University for a master's in liberal studies, Shad seems reluctant to theorize or expound endlessly on his work, although he notes, "I do like the sound of samples and the nature of piecing stuff together. It's not perfect, a little bit messy. There's something about sampled sound that is classic hip hop."

And like classic hip hop, he comes very much from the underground. His first album When This Is Over was self-made and self-distributed, down to dropping off copies of the CDs himself at various Toronto record stores. The stores would then sell them on consignment. Now he's able to go the insider route, releasing his new album with Mississauga-based Black Box Recordings and distributing it through Universal.

But Shad remains a hip-hop outsider, receiving good word of mouth, while not being overtly commercial. As a result, he'll likely continue to draw indie audiences and older golden-age devotees as much as young rap fans. It's the only way for a hip-hop artists to survive at home.

"In Canada, at least, there's no way you can play for a straight-up hip-hop audience enough days in a year to be able to sustain yourself. And for me, I don't really care [who comes to the shows]. If people understand what I do and they like it, then that's great," he says.

And yet despite clever, homey lyrics such as having "new school looks more crazy than OCAD," referring to the Ontario College of Art and Design's crazy building designed by Will Alsop, or "folks with no OHIP, don't slip," Shad hasn't mastered the technique of flowing with a journalist trying to over conceptualize his work.

He hears the argument that hip hop has always been about connecting an idealized musical past (via samples) with a future that hasn't quite arrived. Or about how his music uncannily has a certain London (England) sound circa 1990. But in return, all I get is the telephone equivalent of appreciative nods.

Maybe those are just the connections a listener makes. But like the era Shad updates so uncannily, his music isn't pre-programmed to sound like the past. It's just happening now.

Fans Still Idolize Edgier Kelly Clarkson

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Pop Music Critic

(October 29, 2007) NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y.–A
Kelly Clarkson show hardly seems a likely catalyst for drunken revelry, but there they were in line for the bar at the Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center on Friday night – three of the drunkest, loudest young men ever to display a public fancy for the American Idol franchise.

A janitor sidled up to me, tut-tutting and pointing out the heavy security detail. "They'll have those guys outta here in a minute."

Dear God, I thought, what is this place preparing for? Have I stumbled into Ozzfest by accident?

As it turns out, had Clarkson's 2,200-strong audience not been almost exclusively composed of teen and preteen girls, their moms and casino patrons far too large to cause a ruckus, the security detail might have made sense.

For the duration of her 75-minute show, the divine Ms. Kelly, who brings the same to Massey Hall tomorrow night, had the younger elements in the room bounding about in uncontrollable glee, collectively screaming themselves raw with appreciation. And when she rocked out ... well, let's just say we're lucky most of those girls were too wee to chuck chairs around the room.

Sure, the idea of Kelly Clarkson "rocking out" needs some qualification.

The tough-chick makeover American Idol's first victor gave herself on this year's contentious My December album – which prompted a feud with the music industry Old Boys' Club, led by Clive Davis, that eventually led to Live Nation cancelling an entire planned summer concert tour – is more Pink than punk and not likely to cause Queens of the Stone Age any sleepless nights.

But there was nevertheless a surprising amount of guitar-charged, woman-scorned wallop emanating from the stage during anthemic new numbers such as dramatic opener "One Minute," "Never Again," "Walk Away" and "Hole," whose menacing grunge riff qualifies as downright hair-raising in the Clarkson context.

She's a bit too "aw, shucks" sweet to make a totally convincing rocker, and Clarkson's increasingly husky and hardened pipes were still at their most devastating on the sweet, faintly jazzy ballad "Be Still" and hitting all the right "churchy" notes on Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)."

Yet while Clarkson's rough-and-tumble new direction needs to diversify itself a bit in sound to reach the same pop heights as her crowd-slaying Breakaway megahits "Since U Been Gone" and "Because of You," she's certainly not embarrassing herself up there.

Clive Davis be damned, the kids were just as down with the My December stuff as they were with Thankful, and none went running for the doors when Clarkson's seven-piece band mashed AC/DC's "Back in Black" into "Miss Independent."

Pop audiences are perhaps more open-minded than the failing major labels give them credit for, and Clarkson's recent troubles with slower-than-expected ticket and album sales say more about the industry's abandonment of a 15-million-album-selling artist than they do about a perceived lack of popular appeal. Everyone seems to have a soft spot for her.

With that voice and that attitude, she'll be fine. The music industry, however, now looks a little stupider.

American Gangster Soundtrack Album To Be Released November 6 By Island Def Jam Music Group

Source: The Music Man Online


New single, “Do You Feel Me” by Anthony Hamilton, composed by Diane Warren, impacts at Urban AC radio on October 1st - Album also features classic blues, R&B, soul and hip-hop from Lowell Fulson, John Lee Hooker, Bobby Womack, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers, and Public Enemy; plus new tracks by Hank Shocklee and Marc Streitenfeld

Already on the short list as one of the most hotly anticipated films of fall 2007, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment’s upcoming cinematic event AMERICAN GANGSTER opens on November 2.  The film teams Oscar® winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe to tell the true story of criminal mastermind Frank Lucas, who came up from the streets of New York in the ’70s.  It is produced by Academy Award®-winning producer Brian Grazer and directed and produced by Ridley Scott.

On Tuesday, November 6, the Island Def Jam Music Group will release the AMERICAN GANGSTER original motion picture soundtrack album.  Impacting at Urban AC radio on October 1st will be the first single and opening track, “Do You Feel Me,” composed by mega-platinum Grammy-winning and Oscar®-nominated songwriter Diane Warren, and performed by six-time Grammy-nominated platinum artist Anthony Hamilton.

In addition to Hamilton, the AMERICAN GANGSTER album features classic blues, R&B, soul and hip-hop tracks from Lowell Fulson, John Lee Hooker, Bobby Womack, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers, and Public Enemy, plus new cuts by composer Marc Streitenfeld and by DJ-turned-producer Hank Shocklee, who was extensively involved with the project.

In addition to the four original pieces that Shocklee co-wrote and produced under his own name, he also produced both new tracks by Anthony Hamilton (the single “Do You Feel Me” and “Stone Cold”) as well as Public Enemy’s Def Jam classic of 1991, “Can’t Truss It.”  As a member of the original Bomb Squad production team (with his brother Keith, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and Eric ‘Vietnam’ Sadler) Shocklee was at the boards for some of rap and hip-hop’s greatest Def Jam releases by Public Enemy, LL Cool J, 3rd Bass, EPMD, Slick Rick, Alyson Williams, and others; as well as records by such varied names as Run-DMC, Sinéad O’Connor, Bell Biv Devoe, Peter Gabriel, Ice Cube, and Yoko Ono.

The final album track listing is:

1). Do You Feel Me (Anthony Hamilton)
2). Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? (Lowell Fulson)
3). No Shoes (John Lee Hooker)
4). Across 110th Street (Bobby Womack)
5). Stone, Cold (Anthony Hamilton)
6). Hold On I’m Comin’ (Sam & Dave)
7). I’ll Take You There (the Staple Singers)
8). Can’t Truss It (Public Enemy)
9). Checkin’ Up On My Baby (Hank Shocklee)
10). Club Jam (Hank Shocklee)
11). Railroad (Hank Shocklee)
12). Nicky Barnes (Hank Shocklee)
13). Hundred Percent Pure (Marc Streitenfeld)
14). Frank Lucas (Marc Streitenfeld).

About the Film

Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Brian Grazer, Steven Zaillian and Ridley Scott team to tell the true juggernaut success story of a cult figure from the streets of 1970s Harlem in AMERICAN GANGSTER.  Washington stars as Frank Lucas, a courageous entrepreneur and self-made embodiment of the American Dream who comes from nowhere to rule the inner-city drug trade, and Crowe is Richie Roberts, an outcast cop zeroing in on who is outplaying all the familiar Mafia families as he closes in on this unexpected new streetwise player.

Britney, Backstreet CDs Unwelcome Comebacks

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

(October 30, 2007) Yesterday's pop star, today's disaster.

Short of 'N Sync, there were no bigger names with the kiddies at the turn of the millennium than
Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Today, both acts will essentially live or die based upon the performance of new albums for which the music industry holds guarded "comeback" hopes.

Well, Britney's not going anywhere. It's been four years since In the Zone and the poor girl is still making the news hourly, whether she's losing custody of her children or getting arrested or shaving her head or simply falling out of a car drunk somewhere. Until a nunnery beckons, this isn't likely to change, regardless of how Blackout or anything to do with the music that was once (sort of) her purpose does.

Blackout should do fine, by the way. And this despite, or perhaps because of, what sounds like Spears's almost complete absence from the process that created it. Sure, she must have tottered into the booth a few times to record the moans and suggestive intakes of breath that constitute about a third of the new record's lyrical content, and even if she spoke the raw vocals into a Dictaphone while driving between clubs before Blackout's numerous producers pitch-shifted and roboticized them beyond all human recognition, hey, that's still a bit of time put in.

Otherwise, there's not much evidence of Britney's involvement to be found amidst the bumpin' synthetic grooves of high-priced folks like Timbaland right-hand-man Danja, the Neptunes and "Toxic" producers Bloodshy & Avant, all of whom earn their keep here by building an ace mainstream dance record around the ghost of a star, who left it to Pharrell Williams to write the tell-all kiss-off to her ex-husband, "Why Should I Be Sad," that closes the album. Spears didn't even co-write the one other tune on Blackout – the slinky, fittingly dazed-sounding Bloodshy & Avant concoction "Piece of Me" – that makes reference to the apparent shambles of her personal life. Honestly, were it not for the photos on the CD jacket, you coulda told me this was the new Paris Hilton album.

Vacant detachment yields a few laughs on Blackout, admittedly, and Bloodshy & Avant, in particular, bring some au courant Euro-dance floor juice to "Freakshow" and "Toy Soldier." But if career rehabilitation is Britney's thing these days, putting forth the appearance of her own career as more than just an afterthought to tabloid theatre might be the wisest move.

Former boy-band moppets the Backstreet Boys already tried one comeback attempt with 2005's Never Gone and kinda failed at it, so heaven only knows what possessed them to continue down the same drab, adult-contemporary route to "maturity" on Unbreakable.

Apparently, the last record must have been a bit too earthy or rock 'n' roll for the masses because Unbreakable plays like 51 minutes trapped in a cab with the worst, most conscientiously bland "light rock, less talk" radio-station playlist in North America. Too old to pull off teen-pop twaddle like "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" these days, the four remaining Boys and their myriad collaborators now rarely let their harmony-fuelled songs of obvious heartache and flaccid seduction drift above a mild, mid-tempo R&B gait (or, on "Any Other Way" and "One in a Million," a mild ska hop), rounding out their white-soul pretensions with swaths of featherweight Air Supply balladry.

It would be ghastly if it wasn't so entirely forgettable, but Unbreakable is so uninspired and devoid of hooks that it's reduced to stealing melodies from past hits like "I Don't Wanna Wait" and Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" to make the odd song stick for more than its running length. Don't worry, though, a few more seconds and they're gone, gone, gone daddy, gone.

Pacifica Quartet Has University Crowd On A String

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Terauds, Classical Music Critic

(October 30, 2007) There's nothing like leading by example, think the programmers at
University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. So, every year, they invite some of the world's best performers for lectures, master classes and, best of all, concerts.

The faculty has a Monday chamber-music series during the school year at Walter Hall that is particularly eclectic. Last night's guests were the
Pacifica Quartet, considered to be the hottest young American string quartet going.

The players first got together in 1994, and are all in their early 30s now, experienced, yet still brimming with youthful energy. The Pacifica is the resident quartet at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and also keeps up a vigorous touring schedule.

Its members – violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad and cellist Brandon Vamos – also represent a mix of sexes and ethnic backgrounds that would do any contemporary urban group proud.

In other words, this is the ideal group for a university visit.

Last night, they not only played well, but demonstrated a talent for programming. The result was an evening that provided the conservative listener with early-19th-century favourites by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, while provocatively adding the late György Ligeti's String Quartet No. 1 to showcase the similarities between all three pieces on the program.

Each work is a masquerade of some sort.

Mendelssohn wrote the opening piece, the Op. 13 String Quartet in A Minor, when he was only 18. Yet it's a remarkably complex four-movement construct that uses a sweet echo of a romantic song he wrote as a sugary melodic foil.

The Beethoven String Quartet No. 14, in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131, written only a year earlier, in 1826, has a standard four-movement outline, yet it's really made up of seven movements. Beethoven also works hard at stretching each string player's sound-making abilities.

The 1951 Quartet by Ligeti, "Nocturnal Metamorphoses," is really an elaborate theme and variations.

The foursome emphasizing dynamic and textural contrasts wherever they could – sometimes at the expense of the bigger picture. But the music was never dull.

Kirk Franklin Returns With Seventh Release

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2007) Fo Yo Soul Entertainment/Zomba Gospel recording artist
Kirk Franklin will add another tour de force to his discography with the forthcoming release of his seventh CD, The Fight of My Life. 

Franklin, who is credited with revolutionizing gospel music, will release this exceptional collection of all new material on December 18.

"Carol and Michael are fighting for their marriage.  Deborah is fighting to keep from losing her mind. Jeff is fighting to keep his home.  David is fighting for his faith.  Welcome to The Fight of My Life," Franklin says of the CD.

The first single from the album, "Declaration (This Is It!)," is an upbeat and encouraging song that re-interprets the smooth-groove classic hit, "This Is It," co-written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, by addressing survival through the everyday trials and tribulations through a positive declaration of one's purpose in life.  "This song is a statement that 'serves notice' on unnecessary frustrations, relationships and circumstances that continue to attack our life," says Franklin. "Unlike the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness, when we totally surrender to God, what took 40 years, God 'can' fix in 40 minutes."  Declaration (This Is It!) is currently #1 most added and #1 most increased airplay at Gospel radio, and is also impacting urban radio.

After more than 15 years as the top selling, multiple Grammy award-winning contemporary gospel artist, Kirk Franklin continually demonstrates that he is more than just an artist - he is a voice and a musical balm for his generation.  The Fight of My Life is another display of the genius fusion of his positive message and urban beats that have made him a mainstay atop Billboard charts for more than a decade. 

The Fight of My Life takes the listener on a spirit-filled journey from the soaring "Help Me Believe," a letter set to music that speaks for those who may be doubting their own faith but are looking to God for re-confirmation and strength; to the more traditional, tambourine-shakin', foot-tappin', "He Will Supply" that will surely become a musical staple every choir will want to sing come Sunday morning service.  Another standout track is "Jesus," a hip cheerful ode that simply celebrates Kirk's love of the Almighty.

As the music industry struggles to remain connected to fans that are weary of microwave stars, Kirk Franklin has remained a favourite and is applauded for being innovative, relevant and authentic.  The heart of who he is and his personal story struck a resounding chord with his fans years ago and they have remained loyal ever since.  As he achieved more success, Franklin has remained connected to his audience through music that speaks frankly to life's issues and struggles, while always offering a chord of hope and optimism.

His latest CD, Hero is RIAA-certified platinum and he has seven additional RIAA-certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum selling releases to date.  The musical trendsetter has garnered 5 GRAMMY® Awards, 11 Doves, 34 Stellars, 4 NAACP Image Awards, two BET Award and a 2006 American Music Award to date. 

For additional information on Kirk Franklin, please visit www.kirkfranklin.us and www.myspace.com/kirkfranklin.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Angie Stone Declares 'War' On Billboard

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 29, 2007)  *
Angie Stone's album, "The Art of Love & War" - her debut under Concord's recently-relaunched Stax Records - has entered at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart this week, marking the highest ranking debut of her career. According to Billboard.com, its sales of 45,000 are down slightly from the 53,000 that greeted 2004's "Stone Love," her last release for J Records. “The Art of Love & War" sales were sparked by first single "Baby," which tops the Adult R&B chart this week and is No. 23 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, the third-best position of her nine career titles on the latter tally, Billboard reports. Stone will further push the album during an eight-night stand at Tokyo's Blue Note in mid-November. She will also schedule U.S. dates for later in the year. Aside from music, the singer and former member of VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" has just signed with International Creative Management to handle her acting career. She's also working with clothing brand Von Dutch – performing in its Hollywood and New York stores and considering co-branding options.

Don't Sue Downloaders: Producer

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(October 29, 2007) Producer
Don Was says the recording industry's crackdown on illegal music downloading is "wasting billions of dollars that people ought to be funnelling into making better records.'' "I've never heard of a business that prosecutes its customers. I understand what people are doing is a violation of intellectual property laws, but it's not right and it's outside the spirit of the way people make music," said Was. Record labels have sued more than 26,000 people accused of violating copyright laws by downloading and sharing music online, saying they want to send a message to deter people from downloading music illegally. "I really think the problem with the music business is not that kids are downloading songs, but that people started making crappy records and charging too much for them," Was said.

Kelis Dropped From Jive Records

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 30, 2007) *It's over for Kelis and Jive Records. Entertainment Weekly is reporting that the eclectic chanteuse has been dropped from her contract amid sluggish album sales. The singer, who is married to rap artist Nas, released two albums for Jive: 2003's "Tasty," which spawned the hit "Milkshake" and sold 533,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan; and last year's "Kelis Was Here," which had numerous release date changes and has moved only 157,000 to date. Kelis' manager told EW that she's currently working on an independent dance album with Cee-Lo, the former Goodie Mob member who gained international attention as one half of the duo Gnarls Barkley.  Kelis is also shopping a pop album helmed by songwriter Guy Chambers, who co-wrote hits like "Angel" for Robbie Williams. In the meantime, she is in talks to host a "Project Runway"-esque show for VH1 and is auditioning for various film and TV roles, reports Billboard.com.

::FILM NEWS::

Ellen Page's Star On The Rise

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

(October 31, 2007) There's a scene in
Juno, the movie that will make Ellen Page an international star, where her teen title character is getting parental heat for getting knocked up.

How could this have happened? the parents demand. She's not that kind of girl.

"I don't really know what kind of girl I am," Juno replies.

Consider it good acting. In real life, Halifax native Page, 20, knows exactly what she's about, as she serenely handles her press chores in the midst of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Despite having three films in September's festival (Juno, The Tracey Fragments and The Stone Angel), and several more movies in production, Page seems completely at ease and sure of herself. She's usually that way onscreen, too, even when portraying difficult characters like sarcastic mom-to-be Juno. She looks sweet and innocent, but she has a lethal poise, like a cobra sizing up a victim.

Hollywood headlines scream of pop tarts shaving their heads and partying sans panties, and of spoiled heiresses doing jail time for drunk driving. But Page has little interest in making a spectacle of herself, and even less in making a fashion statement: jeans, sneakers and a simple pullover work just fine for her. "I don't plan on being on the cover of US Weekly anytime soon," she says, not joking one bit.

She might make the cover regardless, and those of a lot of other publications, because Juno, directed by Jason Reitman, is this fall's heat-seeking comedy. A hit in Toronto, where it took the runner-up prize for the coveted audience award, it won the top award last weekend at the Rome Film Festival.

There is now serious Oscar buzz around Juno as a possible Best Picture candidate, and even more for Page as a Best Actress hopeful. So far it's mostly critics talking, since Juno doesn't open to wider audiences until Dec. 14, but her skyrocket is soaring. Fame is the one topic that seems to melt her composure.

"Whoa! That's what people keep telling me, I don't know!

"I wanted to play that (Juno) role so badly. It's been in my life for a couple years, so it's extremely surreal that this is all happening now."

The rest of the world is finally catching up to a talent that Canadians have known for a decade. Page played the horse-whispering Maggie Maclean in the 1997 Canadian TV movie Pit Pony, a job she landed after a talent scout came to her elementary school. She kept the role for the series that followed. Then came regular gigs on Trailer Park Boys and ReGenesis.

Then came the Canadian movies Marion Bridge (2002) and Wilby Wonderful (2004), both of which grabbed Page glowing notices from Canuck critics, even if the films failed to ignite.

But it wasn't until she rocked Sundance in 2005 with her pedophile payback role in Hard Candy that U.S. critics and filmmakers really started to pay attention. It would be hard not to remember a character that administers sharp justice where a man is mostly likely to feel it. She could give a guy nightmares.

"Sorry about that!" she says, smiling. "But since Hard Candy, I get sent a lot of scripts. I have really wonderful agents and I'm really lucky. I always get their input, but I'm never pressured."

The 5-foot-1 Page seems like a younger Sarah Polley in her determination to do quality work in pictures both big (an X-Men sequel) and small (indie curio The Tracey Fragments, opening this week). At the same time, she also wants to retain her sanity by skirting the celebrity scene. She's returned to hometown Halifax to live, after stints in Toronto, New York and L.A., and intends to stay there. She also backpacked through Eastern Europe.

"I think if you really want your life to change and do that whole (celebrity) thing, you can. I also think that you can avoid it. I've worked with some really awesome actresses who haven't succumbed to that kind of lifestyle, so kudos to them."

She's as good as her word. She accepted the title role in Bruce McDonald's The Tracey Fragments, even though the movie is almost designed to call your attention away from the actors. It's an experiment that uses multiple frames and bewildering narrative shifts to mirror the jumbled thoughts of its teen protagonist and it's the opposite of conventional.

"I think this will be a film with a lot of polarized responses. Because it does take a risk. I think sometimes when films take risks, people immediately call them pretentious or blah blah blah, and I just think that's bulls---. Because I know where Bruce's heart is, and I know where my heart is, and I know why we made this movie."

McDonald returns the compliment in a separate interview. "I kept meeting all these people who went, `You gotta meet this girl!' So I met her and just thought, wow, this girl is smart, she's committed, she's beautiful, and yeah, it was a really nice treat to have her on this show."

Page is willing to consider roles in any other movies McDonald makes, no matter how small. "I'm being completely sincere that this is me. This is how I feel comfortable, and I'll always be the same. I love being in Halifax.

"I have amazing friends that I adore and they're all doing really awesome things, whether it's studying holistic nutrition or working on an organic farm. It's all the same as what I do. I just get more attention, oddly."

A Honey Of An Idea

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Liam Lacey

(October 31, 2007) Scene I: Nashville

Five years after ending his hugely successful TV sitcom,
Jerry Seinfeld is backstage before a performance, chewing a red Twizzler when he says to himself: "Hey, what if they made a movie about bees and called it Bee Movie. That would be funny."

(Insert a signature musical interlude, just like on his TV show.)

Scene II: A few days later at a fancy restaurant

Seinfeld and his wife are having dinner with Steven Spielberg and his wife. There's an awkward lull in the conversation and Seinfeld says, "You know, I had this idea for a movie the other day..."

Spielberg listens and reaches for his cellphone to call the chief executive officer of Dreamworks, Jeffrey Katzenberg. "Jerry's got this great idea for a movie," he says. Seinfeld is busy trying to signal him, "No. It's just a bad pun..."

Scene III: Four years later in Cannes, France

In front of the world's film media, Seinfeld, dressed in a bee costume and attached to a wire, jumps off the top of the eight-storey Carlton Hotel at the Cannes film festival as a promotional stunt for the launch of the $150-million DreamWorks production, Bee Movie, which opens on Nov. 2.

What's the deal with Bee Movie? Who are all these people promoting the film? Seinfeld, 53, stands in relation to the conventional sitcom pretty much as Muhammad Ali stood to an alley fight. He was the all-time King of the Mountain. Back in 1998, he turned down $5-million an episode to continue his series (a record rejection, according to Guinness World Records) so he could quit on top and raise a family.

Then he got stung by the Bee Movie bug. Not only did he oversee every aspect of the production as well as write and star in the animated feature, he has taken to marketing the film zealously. The Bee Movie campaign has seen the convergence of DreamWorks, Oprah Winfrey (who voices a character in the movie), McDonald's (a Bee Good to Your Planet with Bee Movie figurines) and NBC (titled N-Bee-C for this month).

Seinfeld voices the character of Barry B. Benson, who after graduation rebels against his destined career of making honey. On an expedition outside the hive, he meets a human (Renée Zellweger) from whom he learns that humans steal and sell bee's honey. He successfully takes humans to court, though, ultimately, his zeal for justice backfires.

Scene IV: A Toronto hotel room

Seinfeld, nattily dressed in a pink shirt and blue blazer, makes a de rigueur crack about what a room this size would cost in New York. He has just finished calling Katzenberg to report on the day and it is not possible to avoid overhearing him. He is not, to use a phrase from his television series, a "low talker." Instead, he speaks in a tone that is close to shouting, perhaps the legacy of decades working in noisy nightclubs.

The logical question, of course, is: Just how autobiographical is this movie?

"It is somewhat," he yells back. "It does kind of describe my reluctance to join in the normal means of gainful employment. Maybe it was subconscious."

The Twizzler moment, he says, was typical. Ideas come "very easily. Then the execution is a long scientific process of trial and error and deconstruction and reconstruction. This movie was like doing a thousand science experiments in a row to finally come up with this right formula to turn yourself into Buddy Love."

(That would be the swinger alter ego to the nerdy scientist in Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor).

"Anybody who tells you they know where their ideas come from is lying," Seinfeld expounds. "You don't know. They just come. I know where they end up. They end up in my head. I don't know where they come from. They just land there. People ask me, 'Why don't you do political stuff?' I'd be happy to. If something comes into my mailbox, I'll send it along to you."

Had he resisted many previous movie offers? "Clearly," he shoots back, without making the questioner feel too stupid. "This was the first thing I couldn't resist because of the freshness of the challenge. It was a completely new technological experience and a different creative process."

Animation is a notoriously labour-intensive process that doesn't leave much room for thinking on the fly. Bee Movie was adapted to fit to Seinfeld's ability to do just that. During the four-year period in which the film was made, he continued touring using video-conferences to work on the film.

Scene V: Another room in the same hotel

The movie's co-director, Simon J. Smith, is physically reminiscent of the character of George Costanza in Seinfeld, with a similar fascination with minutiae. He's particularly chuffed about the sounds of the bees: speeded-up P-51 Mustang airplane engine sounds. The audio track was saved from Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.

He's worked on the first two Shrek films and the trick with creating a good animated feature, he says, is to make sure everyone is on the same page: "When you have the voice star, producer and lead writer all in one person, it's easier to achieve consensus."

The entire script was storyboarded at the beginning and segments were animated and reworked repeatedly. They ran six different screenings in 120 days and sometimes rewrote the entire script in the course of a single afternoon.

"Jerry works hard and he's not afraid of changing something, and he's confident enough of his sense of comedy that he doesn't mind where the ideas come from. He would take an idea and flip it to make it his own. It was fantastic to watch. Bang, that goes in there. Get rid of that part. It was like having a big mound of clay and you keep scraping away until you get this sculpture."

Scene VI: Return to Seinfeld in a Toronto hotel room

Perhaps fatherhood (Seinfeld has three children) has softened some of his attitudes. The television show was famous for its "No learning, no hugs" motto. Could you call Bee Movie his first work with a moral?

"You could," he says. "Because otherwise why did I just spend all this time if I didn't learn anything? Not that I'm necessarily against that - it wasn't part of the TV show, that's for sure. If there's a message here, it's about how I like people who approach their job with seriousness or care, irrespective of the seeming importance of triviality. ...

"When I get a great cab driver, who has a smooth driving style, who knows where he's going and is polite, it's like my whole day is transformed. That's what I like about bees. Everyone does one small job properly, and when you add it up, you've got this miraculous thing - honey!"

Bee: the numbers
$150-million
Budget for Bee Movie.
4
Number of years it took to make the film.
20
Number of mockumentary "mini-sodes" being aired by NBC (titled N-Bee-C for this month) to promote the film.

New Feature: Recommend

Winning And Losing In Celebrity Game

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(October 26, 2007) How could it be that I feel sorry for
George Clooney?  The man is rich, handsome, smart, famous and never has to be lonely on Saturday nights.

I believe he'll get an Oscar nomination for his extraordinary work in Michael Clayton.

And yet I feel industry pundits, based upon harsh assessments of Michael Clayton's box-office performance, are unfairly calling Clooney's star power into question. The legal-ethics drama is currently ranked number four, having earned some $22 million (U.S.) at the North American box office.

Hollywood hatchet lady Nikki Finke asserts on her Deadline Hollywood blog that Michael Clayton is "bombing" and Clooney is so "spooked," he's taking drastic measures: he'll cameo in the Get Smart spy comedy and withdraw from White Jazz, the 1950s L.A. cop drama based on a James Ellroy novel.

The thinking is that Clooney wants to up his popcorn quotient while at the same time lowering his auteur profile, to appeal to more mainstream moviegoers. To be fair to Finke, her online rivals David Poland of MCN and Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere have also pondered Clooney's star status.

My own view is far less gloomy for Clooney. I think Michael Clayton is doing pretty well for a serious drama that doesn't have superheroes or sex. Watch for a bounce in awards season.

And having observed Clooney in action at both the most recent Toronto and Cannes film festivals, I detect no evidence of diminished star lustre. He works a crowd like JFK reborn.

Yet I have to admit I wonder if he's a little too glib for his own good. My encounters with Clooney at press conferences and junkets have left me feeling frustrated over how little of substance he offers. He's an obviously intelligent and caring man – his humanitarian missions to Darfur speak well of him – yet he'll waste most of a press conference exchanging ribald jokes with pals Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

Perhaps Clooney's real problem, if indeed he has one, is his discomfiture with being a celebrity. It's not an uncommon affliction, particularly in this stalkerazzi age of 24/7 Internet. He has more fame than he knows what to do with, so he turns it into a colossal joke that makes him look insincere.

But the lack of fame and attention can be equally corrosive. I'm thinking of the late Brian Linehan, the subject of the perceptively titled new biography Starring Brian Linehan by the CBC's George Anthony.

I opened the book expecting a series of amusing war stories about hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities, based upon Linehan's years as City Lights sultan for Citytv and Anthony's tenure as the Toronto Sun's Tinseltown columnist. Linehan and Anthony were close pals and rarely said "no" to anything or anyone that came with champagne or a first-class air ticket.

To be sure, there are plenty of such stories, and they're fun to read. But what emerges from Anthony's insightful tome is a picture of a moth that flew too close to the flame. In the 1970s and 1980s, Linehan was justly lauded for the wealth of his research, and his ability to get stars to open up. But this son of a modest Steeltown family never got over the fact that his own fame was a reflection of the celebrity of others.

By the time of his death to cancer in 2004, Linehan had been unhappily out of the limelight for years, the victim of changing times: in-depth TV interviews were deemed passé, and Google had made research easy. But Linehan was also his own worst enemy, often turning down interviews and jobs he didn't feel offered enough "dignity" to a man of his station.

"I am surprised he didn't get it more," Anthony quotes comedian Joan Rivers, a close pal of Linehan's. "I think that was one of his big flaws. That he always bought into the shallowness of celebrity. He didn't know the games celebrities play."

Neither, it seems, do the celebrities themselves.

Mediator Called In To Hollywood Dispute

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Gary Gentile, Associated Press

(October 31, 2007) LOS ANGELES – A
federal mediator was trying to help Hollywood writers and producers reach a last-minute deal Wednesday on a new contract, hoping to help them avert a strike that could slow production of new TV shows and films.

Talks between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild of America were set to resume Wednesday, the last day of their current agreement.

The 12,000-member writer's guild said in a statement Tuesday it was ready to present an updated proposal to producers.

A key issue involves giving writers more money from the sale of DVDs and the distribution of shows via the Internet, cell phones and other digital platforms.

The federal mediator joined the talks in an effort to break a stalemate. The mediator will be present when talks resume Wednesday and the WGA presents its new proposal.

Producers said they would be open to the plan, but would not agree to anything that would restrict their ability to experiment with new digital delivery options for films and TV shows.

"We will not ignore the challenges of today's economic realities, the shifts in audience taste and viewing habits and the unpredictability of still-evolving technology," the producers' union said in a statement.

Major Hollywood unions were lining up behind TV and film writers. A powerful branch of the Teamsters union told its 4,500 members they can honour picket lines if TV and film writers strike after their contract expires at midnight.

Teamsters Local 399 said in a Web posting that as a union, it has a legal obligation to honour its contracts with producers, but the local, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, said the clause does not apply to individuals, who are protected by federal law from employer retribution if they decide to honour picket lines.

A strike by writers would not immediately impact TV or film production. Most shows have enough scripts in hand to get them though early next year.

After that, networks might turn to reality shows, news programs and reruns to fill the airwaves.

Hilary Swank: The Power Of The Trailer Park

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Marsha Lederman

(October 27, 2007) VANCOUVER — Yes,
Hilary Swank grew up in a trailer park and yes, she and her mother drove to Los Angeles to pursue Swank's acting career with just $75 to their names. And yes, the two of them lived in their car for two weeks. But no, don't go feeling sorry for the hardships the Oscar-winning actress has endured. Hilary Swank loved it.

"People say, 'Oh, that's really terrible,' and, 'Oh, what that must have been like,' but as a kid, you don't think about things like that," Swank, 33, says about growing up in that trailer park in Bellingham, Wash. "I had a roof over my head, I had food, I was warm, I had a home and so I didn't really think of it as anything other than the place in which I lived."

Swank wears her less-than-upscale childhood like a backless Guy Laroche dress - putting it out there, even showing it off. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards in 2005, she famously declared, "I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream." And in January, when Swank received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she emotionally recalled her mother, standing at a pay phone, persistently working her way through a roll of quarters to tell casting agents they should sign her daughter.

Today, she sounds positively matter-of-fact about her now legendary rags-to-riches story, but also wide-eyed, and appreciative of where she has landed; she sounds like a girl living her dream. "I don't know what my experience and how my outlook would be, having not grown up in that way," she says. "But I continue to wake up every day that I get to [work as an actress] and be very grateful, very grateful."

So grateful that she wants to share her journey with the world - and not just during 30-second sound bites from the red carpet. Next month, she will fly a couple of hours north of her old trailer-park home and work her magic on a Vancouver crowd in the final Canadian stop of The Power Within for Women tour. The program refers to Swank as "a shining example of spectacular triumph against incredible odds."

What's a Hollywood A-lister like Swank doing on the lecture circuit? Is a side-career in motivational speaking in the works? Swank says she wants to make a difference; she wants to be a role model for people who face adversity, but still have a dream. And somehow, when she says it, it doesn't sound cheesy. It sounds genuine.

"What I found is people who see Boys Don't Cry or Million Dollar Baby or Freedom Writers and then hear my story; they come up to me and they say, 'I know where you've come from and I know where you are now and your motives are obviously inspiring, but your story reminds me to fight for what I believe in and to not give up.' "

If Swank's own story is even more inspiring than the characters she's chosen to portray, she says it's because of her mother. It was Judy Swank who encouraged her daughter to follow her dream to be an actress, her mother who roomed with her within the four doors of an Oldsmobile. (Swank also has a brother who was in his 20s when the mother-daughter team drove south.) And as romantic as the experience might seem for an adventurous teenager, it would have been another story for Judy, acutely aware of the difficult circumstances, and the potential for failure.

"I was blessed with ... a mom who believed in me and made me believe in myself. ... [She] always encouraged me to work hard and to know that nothing comes easy in life and that you have to work hard for the things you love, but you should never give up. And that you could achieve anything as long as you do work hard enough."

Just how hard Swank would have to work became evident pretty early on. She was only 8 when some of her schoolmates stopped hanging out with her; apparently their parents didn't approve of a playmate from her side of the tracks. "That's where I learned classism and experienced classism for the first time," she says. "It was an intense thing to experience at a young age."

But Swank didn't see that now infamous shoestring move to Los Angeles as a hardship at the time. "It was great; great for me," she says. "A lot of people [say], 'Oh my gosh, that's so intense, I can't believe it.' But I was a 15-year-old embarking on the greatest adventure of my life."

The gamble paid off. While Swank at first won some forgettable TV and film roles (think Harry and the Hendersons, Growing Pains, The Next Karate Kid), in 1997 she landed a recurring role as a single mother on the wildly popular TV series Beverly Hills, 90210. Swank was devastated when that role was cut short - but it was a blessing in disguise, as it freed her to take on the role that would change her life: the stunning portrayal of the transgendered Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (for which she was paid $3,000, only to beat out the likes of Annette Bening and Meryl Streep for the best-actress Oscar). Swank won her second Academy Award for Canadian Paul Haggis's adaptation of Million Dollar Baby (making her one of the few actresses to go two-for-two on Oscar nominations). Her next film, P.S., I Love You (about a widow who receives letters from her now-dead husband), is due out next month.

Swank believes the work ethic and positive attitude her mother instilled in her have made all the difference along the road to the big screen and, ultimately, the Oscar podium.

Her last Oscar win is a case in point: training for Million Dollar Baby, in which she played boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, she set a goal: to gain 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of muscle.

When she hit that mark, she looked in the mirror and decided it wasn't good enough; it wasn't believable and wouldn't do the story justice. So she kept going. She wound up almost doubling her original goal, putting on 19 pounds (8.6 kg.) of muscle. To get there, she trained five hours a day, six days a week.

"By the fifth day, I was so tired, that I would say, 'I can't do it, I can't do it.' And when I [went] in with that attitude, I would not do it. I was just not there completely. But if I would just change my attitude ... get out of my own way and say, 'I'm going to get up and I'm tired of course, but I'm going to do it,' ... it was a totally different experience and I would break through barriers," she says. "My mind was my own biggest obstacle."

Credit: mom. "My mom always said go after it and do it and that is probably hands down the most important and cherished gift I will ever receive."

Believe it or not, Swank still needs to remind herself of that advice. She says she continues to struggle to find good projects and she works hard to challenge herself. She has also faced a very public personal crisis: splitting up with husband Chad Lowe last year, amid talk of his substance-abuse problems (she is said to be dating her former agent, John Campisi).

But at the same time, Swank is living her dream and feels, if not a responsibility, then certainly a desire, to give back. "People say ... to me, 'Will you please do one thing and continue to tell your story? Because people need to hear it,' " she says.

"I feel like there's not a lot of great women role models for girls. If a girl can see my story and somehow say, 'Hey you know what, I'm not going to give up on my dream' ... then I am going to continue to tell my story and it's a great, great honour to be in that position."

'Dan In Real Life': Scenes Of Family Life

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic

Dan in Real Life
(out of 4)
Starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Marlene Lawston. Written by Peter Hedges and Pierce Gardner. Directed by Peter Hedges. At major theatres. 98 minutes. PG

(October 26, 2007) After it miraculously hurdles one of the more excruciating-meet-cute scenes in recent rom-com memory, Peter Hedges'
Dan in Real Life proves a movie nicely packed with pleasantly unpredictable surprises.

While one of these is the hardly clamoured-for pairing of
Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche as nearly thwarted lovers trapped at an annual family reunion weekend in Rhode Island, another is co-writer-director Peter (Pieces of April) Hedges' radar for the especially hellish claustrophobia of familial intimacy.

The best scenes in this movie are those that pit outlaw impulses against polite domestic tyranny, which is to say those in which even the most corseted grownups are reduced to hormone-surfing teenagers beneath the shadow of their parents' ceiling.

A widowed father of three girls who makes his living offering advice to happy-challenged readers, Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is himself the picture of well-ordered misery. Still mourning his loss and taking it out in his overprotective parenting policies, Dan finds himself dashed like so much ocean spray against Marie, the comely European woman he meets (in a scene that feels like it strayed in from an old Meg Ryan movie) at a mom and pop bookstore near his parents' country home.

Racing back to his extended family with a spring in his step and a pounding in his heart, Dan is stunned to learn that the babe in the bookstore and his baby brother's betrothed are one and the same. Hence the situation informing the comedy: having already generated sparks, how do Dan and Marie keep the flames from burning the entire house down for the remainder of the weekend?

While Hedges' movie is built on a foundation of shameless sitcom contrivances, it's at its sturdiest when sitting back and observing the simmering desperation that lurks behind the gung-ho, let's-play-charades family façade.

While Dan's frustrating feelings for his brother's fiancé are the most obvious manifestation of this, it's also evident in the passive-aggressive teasing among siblings, the frequency with which people hop in cars and burn rubber for getaway relief, and mom and dad's ridiculously role-regressive house rules.

Hardly the first person you'd think of as a romantic lead, Carell is nevertheless ideally cast as Dan, a guy so unaccustomed to intense feelings he seizes up at their arrival, and who instantly reverts to sarcasm when threatened with exposure. Plus he's eminently capable of just being a self-pitying dork, a quality the admirably fearless Carell has no difficulty pinning right on the man's proudly overdeveloped nose.

Convincingly smitten by Binoche's euro-dorable Marie – a middlebrow male fantasy figure if ever there was – Carell's Dan is never more endearing than when simply struggling to keep from being completely sabotaged by self.
 

Ian Curtis, Dead At 23: Life Would Tear Him Apart

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(October 25, 2007) Incongruity No. 1: Before he played the enigmatic Ian Curtis in the Joy Division biopic Control, British actor
Sam Riley was such an unknown that he had to take a job folding shirts in a warehouse. Of course, he told me this while wearing a black, retro-glam fitted shirt unbuttoned to the depths of movie-star excess.

Incongruity No. 2: At one point in his struggling pre-career, Riley phoned his agent to ask whether the new Bond had been cast. "I'm very funny," said Riley, self-mockingly in his Yorkshire twang. The answer was no, but the part playing the anomic Curtis was still available, the most un-Bond-like role one could possibly get.

But there is an obvious physical resemblance between Riley and Curtis, helped by their shared Northern-ness. Riley is from Leeds and, while in Toronto to promote Control, channelled a studied, updated Lou Reed glam. Having done some acting in his youth, he returned to acting after his Leeds-based band, 10,000 Things, was dropped by the record label Polydor.

Curtis, who died in 1980, was from Macclesfield near Manchester and channelled glam's darker side (via punk and a pivotal Sex Pistols gig that Curtis and other Joy Division members attended in Manchester in 1976). He turned it into a far darker minimalism, which made Joy Division possibly the most influential post-punk band from the late seventies to the cusp of the eighties.

The rest is rock iconology: Curtis as the disconcertingly innocent-looking young man with the morbid lyrics, married while he was still a teenager, only to be diagnosed with epilepsy as Joy Division was starting to become well known locally. Caught between his marriage, a love affair, the fear of another debilitating seizure and overmedication, he eventually committed suicide in 1980 on the eve of a North American tour. He was 23.

The music he left behind was important enough to act as a spiritual uplift for a re-emerging Manchester and for repeat generations of post punks ever since. As rightly portrayed in Control, his story was far from all darkness and despair.

"When I spoke to people that knew him," Riley said, "they all remember him as being very affable and almost lively, and very friendly and considerate - and also explosive at times. So the melancholic element of him is obviously present. But that's the tragedy of it. He wasn't just a morbid guy from start to finish.

"As things built up - from the epilepsy to questioning his marriage, his insecurity of even picking up his own daughter for fear of fitting, and then falling in love - that's what sent him into that melancholy. His lyrics always seemed to be quite dark, but that doesn't make someone depressed necessarily," Riley said.

In addition to Control (which comes to theatres tomorrow), the Weinstein Company in New York is handling the new documentary Joy Division by director Grant Gee, which portrays more of the typical bonhomie side you would associate with young men fighting to get their music heard.

Gee adds his own interpretative dashes of Joy Division's cold artistry by way of placing the documentary more within a larger Manchester context and adding abstract visuals. That's Gee's style. He was, after all, the director who submerged Thom Yorke's head in water for an agonizing minute in the video for the late 1990s Radiohead song No Surprises. (Unfortunately, Joy Division isn't being concurrently released theatrically with Control, said a publicist for Alliance Films, which is handling Control in Canada. Nevertheless, the documentary will probably be out on home video in the coming months.)

Control is very different. For his feature director debut, Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, most known for his portraits of U2, and who once famously photographed Joy Division in the London tube, tried to steer away from the usual retelling of the band's story. Unlike the vividness of the Joy Division documentary, Control is in black and white, not vibrant chiaroscuro, but a world of greys.

"Anton didn't want to make a movie about Joy Division or a rock biography," Riley said. "He wanted to make a movie about Ian. And although you can always say it's a rock biopic, I understand what [Anton] was saying. The focus is much more on the home life of a rock icon, rather than the legend."

In particular, there were the houses Curtis grew up in and settled in with his wife. Behind the drab brick exteriors were the even bleaker interiors of the time. Apart from a few photos of Bowie on his wall, Control shows Curtis's room as a teenager with little else but a turntable and stark-looking journals of his writing. For a kid back then, any escape had to be created.

"From what I've heard from English journalists who were around that era, they remember it exactly like that," said Riley, who is 27 and a generation younger than Curtis. "The wallpaper in that era, you can't see it in black and white, but it was all brown, depressing patterns everywhere."

As if to emphasize this, Curtis insisted that his wife, Debbie, not hang anything on the walls, Corbijn said. The accuracy of the visual details was everything to Corbijn. Some scenes of Control were shot within and outside Curtis's actual home, although the compact interiors had to be rebuilt for other scenes in order to allow more room for the camera crew. The street in Macclesfield that Curtis walked down to his day job at an employment agency was also used, although Corbijn had to hide some of the recent changes to the neighbourhood, since more wealthy people now live in the picturesque, newly revived town.

But in Curtis's time, "there wasn't a lot of opportunity around for a young man. Music has always been an escape in the north of England, and everywhere in our country really. Partly because the weather is so ... awful, there's not a lot else to do than play a guitar," Riley noted.

It was that emotional link to the era that persuaded Corbijn to take on the project, despite turning it down at first. "I initially said no, but when I came back to it, my step into it was emotional. ... If you step in with emotion, that's not a bad starting point."

In his early career, Corbijn had even moved to London in 1979, largely pulled by Joy Division's epochal album Unknown Pleasures. Within two weeks of arriving, Corbijn had photographed the band.

For Riley though, the connection was much less emotional. Joy Division wasn't one of his favourite bands growing up. His tastes skip back two generations to the same early seventies music Curtis grew up with. "If Ian was my hero before I did this, then that might have been something I would have had to struggle against. But I could approach it fresh, without much reverence, but with a lot of respect," Riley said.

In researching the role, he found only a little more than an hour's worth of original video material of the band: a couple of TV appearances recorded in good quality, with Curtis only displaying muted versions of his flaying style of dancing, and a few VHS versions of more ecstatic gigs. Curtis's slack-jawed marching movements at the microphone may be easy to imitate, but hard to do well, while also capturing the inner explosiveness behind them.

"I tried to do these around the house. But it didn't really ever come together until we [the actors] were the band, I was singing and they were playing. When hearing them play the music, and the power coming out of the drums and amplifiers behind me ... I had studied Curtis enough to know he never did certain things, and he remained within a certain frame of movement, from the slight to the exaggerated," he explained. "It would be more realistic if I just let myself go with it."

Shatner Left Out Of New Trek Movie

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(October 29, 2007) LOS ANGELES – The original Capt. Kirk is disheartened he won't get to boldly go anywhere with his old pal Spock in the new
Star Trek movie.

While Leonard Nimoy is reprising his role as the pointy-eared Vulcan in next year's science-fiction flick,
William Shatner is not on board as Kirk.

"I couldn't believe it. I'm not in the movie at all. Leonard, God bless his heart, is in, but not me," Shatner, 76, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

"I thought, what a decision to make, since it obviously is a decision not to make use of the popularity I have to ensure the movie has good box office. It didn't seem to be a wise business decision."

Director J.J. Abrams announced last summer that Nimoy would reprise the role he originated opposite Shatner in the 1960s television show and played again in six big-screen adventures.

Abrams said Shatner probably would have a part in the film, which is due in theatres in December 2008. But while Shatner said he had a couple of meetings with Abrams, nothing came of it.

Abrams's Trek film, whose plot is being kept under wraps by distributor Paramount, recounts an early adventure for the crew of the starship Enterprise, with Chris Pines as the young Kirk and Zachary Quinto as the young Spock.

The cast includes Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, Simon Pegg as engineer Scott, John Cho as helmsman Sulu, Zoe Saldana as communications officer Uhura and Anton Yelchin as navigator Chekov, roles respectively originated by DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig.

Past Trek films presented an obstacle to the revival of Shatner's Kirk, who died at the end of 1994's Star Trek: Generations.

But in science fiction, you can never truly say die. Spock was killed off in 1982's Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan then resurrected in 1984's Star Trek: The Search for Spock, with Nimoy's Vulcan living on to co-star in three more films, two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and now Abrams's new movie.

"I've got a lot to do," said the Montreal-born Shatner, whose current work includes the TV show Boston Legal, narration for the Christmas spoof Stalking Santa due on DVD on Nov. 6, and the prequel Star Trek: Academy – Collision Course, a novel chronicling Kirk and Spock's first meeting.

Shatner says of Star Trek: "Having been in on the creation of it, I was hoping to be in on the re-creation."

FILM TIDBITS

Canuck Jason Reitman Triumphs At Rome Filmfest

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(October 29, 2007) ROME – Juno, the teen pregnancy comedy from Canadian filmmaker
Jason Reitman, won the best film award over the weekend at the Rome Film Festival. The film was first runner-up for the people's choice award at last month's Toronto International Film Festival. The two leads in Juno are young Canadian actors. Ellen Page, the Nova Scotia-born actress who once appeared on the TV hit Trailer Park Boys and starred in Hard Candy, plays Juno MacGuff, while Michael Cera, the Arrested Development alum currently burning up the box office in Superbad, plays her boyfriend. Cera hails from Brampton, Ont. Reitman is the son of movie mogul Ivan Reitman. Juno was shot in Vancouver last year. Meanwhile, Rade Serbedzija of Croatia won best actor for his role in Fugitive Pieces, which opened the Toronto festival and was directed by Toronto's Jeremy Podeswa.

Mario Van Peebles To Direct His Own Sci-Fi Film

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 30, 2007) *Mario Van Peebles will direct his science-fiction screenplay "The Uniter," which follows a political fugitive who escapes from the future back to the present to teach a 13-year-old how to use his powers to unite the warring factions of the world before it's too late for planet Earth. Van Peebles has been working on the story for about six years, reports Variety. The idea was inspired by a combination of his travels in India and the mythology of the Aztec calendar terminating in 2012.  The actor/director is helming and producing "Uniter" through his MVP Films. He is also directing and producing the documentary "Bring Your A Game," which follows the educational crisis in America and its relationship to the penal system.  Van Peebles, the son of veteran director Melvin Van Peebles, also recently helmed two episodes of FX's "Damages."

Rhames And Caan Shooting In Toronto

Excerpt from www.thestar.com

(October 31, 2007) Production got underway on two major movies in Toronto this week.
Ving Rhames stars in the Sonny Liston biopic Phantom Punch and James Caan plays a mobster in Wisegal, directed by Toronto's Jerry Ciccoritti. Robert Townsend directs Rhames as Liston, the infamous heavyweight fighter. The story chronicles Liston's rise to fame as a boxer and the single "phantom punch" he took at the hands of Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) two minutes into a 1965 fight.  Caan plays a family don in Wisegal, set to premiere next year. Inspired by a true story, Caan's character persuades a woman to become a courier transporting millions of dollars from Canada into the U.S.  Star staff/Hollywood Reporter

Lenny Kravitz, Mo'nique Topline Lee Daniels Movie

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2007) *
Lenny Kravitz will make his motion picture debut alongside Mo'Nique, Paula Patton and newcomer Gabourey "Gabbie" Sidibe in the upcoming film "Push," an independently financed adaptation of the bestselling novel by Sapphire (Ramona Lofton). The story centers on Clareece "Precious" Jones (Sidibe), an overweight, illiterate, African-American teen in Harlem who is about to give birth to her second child when she is accepted into an alternative school, reports Variety. There, a teacher (Patton) helps her find a better path in life.  Mo'nique plays the girl's mother and Kravitz plays a nurse who shows the girl some much-needed TLC.  Lee Daniels will direct and co-produce under his Lee Daniels Entertainment along with financiers Smokewood Entertainment Group.  "Push" is "as important to me as 'Roots,' and I'm honoured that Sapphire entrusted me with her book," said Daniels, who produced the Halle Berry film "Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman" before making his directorial debut on the Cuba Gooding Jr. starrer "Shadowboxer." Sidibe, meanwhile, won the part of Precious after 300 young girls auditioned in casting calls around the country.  Production on "Push" has just begun in New York.

::TV NEWS::

As Canadian As A Coffee On The Way To The Rink

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(October 26, 2007) If there's one thing Canadians love more than hockey, it's a good cup of java. The two passions had to merge eventually.

The hockey-coffee connection supplies dramatic fodder for Tim Hortons commercials, but
Rent-A-Goalie (Sunday, Showcase at 9:30 p.m.) probably offers a grittier depiction. Back for its sophomore season, the very Canadian sitcom blends the unique subcultures of pickup shinny and Italian cafés. As before, the two obsessions somehow belong together.

"Weird, isn't it?" muses Christopher Bolton, the creator and star of the low-budget but well-received series. "I think it's because hockey and coffee bars represent very codified worlds. You can't just jump in and expect to be accepted right away. There are rules."

Rules like: No double-doublers need apply. Although limited to eight episodes, the first season of Rent-A-Goalie drew respectable specialty-channel ratings and earned the show three nominations at this weekend's Gemini Awards, including a nod for best comedy series. Not bad for a rookie.

Much as Trailer Park Boys allows viewers to sample white-trash culture, Rent-A-Goalie is about real Canadians who really are out there. Some wear their Toronto Maple Leafs sweaters in public.

Like Trailer Park Boys, the show is unbound by network censors and rife with F-words, as befits the scenario. Situated in Toronto's Little Italy neighbourhood and the occasional hockey rink, Rent-A-Goalie runs on double espressos and the soul-patched presence of Bolton as the central character, a man known simply as Cake - short for mangiacake, which, generously translated, means "not Italian" - who operates a goalie-for-hire business out of the local coffee joint, Café Primo. Before you ask, yes, such services do exist.

A reliable journeyman actor with a long list of Canadian TV credits, Bolton grew up in a mostly Italian neighbourhood in Toronto and has spent a good deal of time in Italian coffee bars. He conceived Rent-A-Goalie several years ago while filming the Showtime series Street Time in Toronto. On their own time, and on their own dime, Bolton and partner Christopher Szarka filmed a rough pilot of Rent-A-Goalie (the presentation reel includes an appearance by Oscar nominee Terence Howard), which prompted Showcase to sanction the first season. "The show is born of my desire to make a TV show similar to the ones I grew up on," says Bolton, 37. "I used to love Taxi and Cheers. The role model for Cake is Judd Hirsch on Taxi; he's sort of the moral centre of the show."

He's also The Fonz. Cake is clearly idolized by most of the players on Rent-A-Goalie. A worldly outsider of mythical background, he's a renaissance man compared with the netminders who lounge daily in the café waiting for the call. Naturally, Cake is a ladies' man who foolishly has designs on the café owner's gorgeous daughter, Francesca (Inga Cadranel). Shades of Sam Malone, perhaps?

But as the hero of the piece, Cake brings honour to a dodgy profession. He insists that the goalies in his stable - a colourful and unwashed-looking lot with names such as Shortie, Puker and Shitpants - adhere to The Code, an ever-growing list of dictums compiled by the man himself. "These are the rules Cake lives by," Bolton says. "And much like a reformed anything, he's trying to get everyone else to swing by the same rules. Therein lies the conflict of the show."

The long-standing reputation of goaltenders as a quirky lot is a standard theme on Rent-A-Goalie. As the second season opens, the entire city is trying to kill Cake, who cost Toronto the Stanley Cup by touching their goalie's glove hand. Retired Toronto Maple Leaf great Darryl Sittler is called in to mediate the situation. Also making appearances this season are ex-Leaf Tie Domi and repeat guest star Phil Esposito, who brings along his goalie brother, Tony. "They get together for a little card game in the basement of Primo, and Tony is hilarious. He has this great Godfather thing going on," Bolton says.

Rent-A-Goalie fills a viewing niche here, but can it play abroad? As with any hot TV property, the show is currently being shopped around to foreign broadcasters. "The humour is very homegrown, but we're not knocking the audience over the head with maple syrup and beavers," Bolton says. "The show is really about these characters, and I think these characters will travel well."

Closer to home, Bolton and his cast-mates will be in the audience in Regina at the Gemini Awards this Sunday night. Rent-A-Goalie faces weighty competition in the Best Comedy category - Corner Gas, Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the animated Odd Job Jack - but never underestimate the appeal of our national sport, or coffee. And should they pull off the big win? "We are going to make so much noise," Bolton promises. "We'll be dancing around with the cup over our heads."

Check local listings.

Christian Site Competes With Youtube, Myspace?

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Mona Austin / msmona@lachurchscene.com

(October 26, 2007) What Would Jesus Download?  More than a deeply theological question, it's the tagline for the fastest growing domain on the net,
Godtube.com, a new social networking Web site that was recently spotlighted on ABC's nightline. 

The most watched video on the site (viewed over 4 million times) features an adorable, ruby-cheeked 3-year-old girl reciting Psalm 23.  The little cutie is just one of the reasons Godtube.com, the answer to YouTube.com with a Christian slant, was ranked #1 of 1,000 Web portals as evaluated by Comscore Media Metrix (August 2007).  

Dallas Theological Seminary student Christ Wyatt said his goal in creating the site was "to service the 2 million Americans who were searching for religious answers online." All the material is screened to make sure everyone feels welcome at his online abode.  

This portal is definitely not a YouTube clone.  A search using the word "Halloween" showed 20 pages of information on each site including the word. The subject was addressed differently on each site. For example, on You Tube a sexy model on a show called Hot for Words breaks down the Catholic origins of the now spooky day. On the other hand, in a video entitled The Truth About Halloween on Gospel Tube the speaker concentrates on the evilness of the day.

God Tube keeps a unique identity by being G-rated -- 100% family-friendly.  

"We watch every single minute of every video. You can feel assured that when your kids go on Godtube.com not only is it safe, but they're getting a bit of Christianity as well," Wyatt said in an MSNBC interview.

The large assortment of content on the site that appeals to a broad Christian demographic might be another reason GodTube rules.  It's practically a Christian video mercado dedicated to clean entertainment and evangelism. From the urban-inspired spoken word poetry and Holy Hip Hop music, to the classic sermons from the late Coral Ridge Ministries pastor Adrian Rogers, end time messages and international Christian news it is plainly a hang out for Christians or the Christianity-curious. There is also a section for videos to be uploaded En Espanol.

A free membership offers visitors the opportunity to upload videos, create profiles and chat with potential friends at www.godtube.com.

Victorian CSI Brings Old Toronto Back To Life On TV

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - TV Columnist

(October 28, 2007) Toronto police officers are roughly handling a drunken wastrel. We're in a local precinct for sure, because we can spot the on-duty sergeant busily writing by hand all the charges against the guy – but there's nary a computer in sight.

The gigantic spittoon positioned by the door also seems rather odd, as does a sign cautioning gentlemen not to spit on the floor.

In the basement an autopsy of sorts is going on with two doctors using their bare hands to probe deep inside a cadaver for bullets.

What's going on here?

Director Shawn Alex Thompson yells "cut!" and everybody strolls away for a break, the cops, the prisoners, only the corpse lies still.

This antique precinct forms the key set for
Murdoch Mysteries, a new drama series for Citytv due to air early in the New Year.

It is Toronto, but the sedate Victorian city of 1895 when the city numbered no more than 200,000 souls.

Shaftesbury Films had already made three TV movies based on the Det. Murdoch novels by Maureen Jennings before it decided go forward with a series.

"I always felt the concept would make a dandy series," says executive producer Christina Jennings (no relation to author). "And after some bumps here we are."

One of the bumps was the fact that Peter Outerbridge, who played the resolute Roman Catholic detective in the TV movies, was unavailable since he was committed to ReGenesis, also from Shaftesbury.

Yannick Bisson (Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy) was hired to replace him. But one of the most important characters is the bustling police station. It sets the tone for this Victorian view of Law and Order.

The seemingly sedate metropolis was home to thousands of prostitutes, child beggars and hardened criminals supporting gambling and opium dens. The streets were filled with foul odours from horse manure to fetid water – most homes had outhouses in the backyard. Cholera epidemics ravaged the poor every summer but the veneer of respectability was never broken.

Murdoch Mysteries has been filming in Toronto, Hamilton, Cambridge and Guelph.

"Toronto has very little pristine Victorian architecture left," says Christina Jennings, "or if it is there a modern building is right beside it. Hamilton has the kind of streets we can use with minimal redressing."

For one scene a vintage postcard of a Rosedale mansion was enlarged and hand-coloured. People in carriages are seen alighting at its great doors – all CGI effects.

It's a very hot autumn afternoon and the extras dressed as cops are sweltering – their costumes, taken from originals, are pure wool. Dresses have bustles and several layers of petticoats, all of which have to be hand-stitched.

"All the cases are based on true ones," says author Maureen Jennings, who reads all scripts and makes suggestions. "A murder case in those days was really sensational – it sold a lot of newspapers.

"The thing is, Murdoch is considered slightly crazy by the establishment," Jennings insists. "He's a forensics expert when the field was only beginning to be developed.

``He uses the new discovery of fingerprints. In other ways he's stymied – at the time there was no blood-typing. He had a microscope but not a modern type. He was literally feeling his way, developing his own methods for catching criminals."

Ten days after we met, the author was saved from drowning in Florida by a stranger who subsequently died. It was an adventure straight out of one of her novels, which she researches at the Toronto archives and the Ontario public archives.

Hélène Joy plays Murdoch's pathologist assistant, Dr. Julia Ogden. The striking Australian holds out a hand to show a rash acquired when she stuck her hand into pig entrails disguised as human for one autopsy scene. "Now that's Method acting!

"The idea of a female doctor back then was very unusual," Joy says. "She'd have to get her training outside the province. I see her as making a statement just by having her own practice."

Lolling out in the autumn sun with his youngest (of three) daughters is Bisson, 38. who's been at the acting game for 23 years.

When I remind him I first interviewed him on the set of 1984's Hockey Night he winces.

"I got that because I could skate. And I discovered I liked to act. I've pretty much stayed working because I was adaptable. I roll with the punches. I felt for sure (the CBC's Nothing to Good for a Cowboy would last more than a season but that was the year the networks ditched scripted Canadian dramas as too expensive. Disappointed? Heck, yes. Then I went on to something else," Bisson says.

At 21, Bisson had a development deal with ABC, but it never went anywhere. He did film the syndicated series High Tide in San Diego but finds he keeps coming home, "because we treat actors better up here.

"I don't think this kind of series would get made in the U.S. right now – it takes its time in solving old-fashioned mysteries.

"The forensic stuff as it then existed makes the show different. We have strong directors with good stories to tell.''

About the Victorian investigator he plays, Bisson says, ``I'd like to hang on to this character for a few more seasons but this is Canadian TV. Anything can happen, believe me."

Airing A Painful History

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(October 30, 2007) VANCOUVER — Few school programs have garnered as much media coverage as Vancouver's now-infamous
Quest. The one-semester high-school course, active during the 1970s and 80s and designed to expose students to nature and the great outdoors, was also a breeding ground for an ugly side of human nature: Teacher Tom Ellison went to trial in 2006, facing sex-related charges involving a dozen students. He was convicted of two counts of indecent assault, one count of assault and two counts of gross indecency. He was sentenced in January to two years of house arrest.

While the extensive media coverage of the trial exposed the creepy horrors that went on in the classroom, the camping trips and Ellison's sailboat, a documentary airing on Newsworld tonight adds a human face to the crimes, as several former students recount their experiences. Through interviews with several of the women (now adults) who were seduced by Ellison as students - and one who was not -
School of Secrets explores the motivations of these teenage girls and the consequences of what they suffered.

"We all thought he was ... really dreamy," Denise Tupman, one of the former Questers, says of Ellison. She goes on to describe how a massage session turned into something much more sinister, shortly after her 17th birthday. "Take off your shirt and we'll do it right," she remembers him saying.

"I just wanted to be a favourite student," says Anett, 40, another of Ellison's young conquests. "I just wanted to be a teacher's pet."

The women are thoughtful, articulate, sometimes angry, sometimes - believe it or not - bordering on nostalgic. They are honest - shockingly, at times. They are amazed, looking back, at the things that happened, and their own naiveté. The result is an intimate portrayal of what these teenage girls went through and what these adult women continue to go through.

"I think they were incredibly strong to share that kind of intimacy," producer/director Melanie Wood says. "To open up your personal life like that takes some strength."

Wood, 54, began researching the project in 2000 after her filmmaking partner, producer Eunice Lee, told her about the Quest program and its secrets. Lee had gone to Prince of Wales High School, home of Quest, and had heard the rumours for years. Now, she heard that someone had gone to the police.

By the time the case went to court, the filmmakers were well into the project. "The court coverage to me was just not even the tip of the iceberg," Wood says. The documentary "gives people more of an insight into how it happened ... and reminds everyone what our head space is like when we're 15, 16, 17."

For the women who had already testified in court, the film offered an opportunity to tell their stories in a more personal way. "It's very different sitting on a witness stand and answering very precise ... questions from a lawyer," says Laura Anderson, 43, one of the women interviewed for the film. "With Melanie, we had the ability to tell the whole story."

Anderson was 17 when she joined the Quest program. Her encounter with Ellison happened after a slow dance at a Quest event. "I feel like I want to kiss you," she remembers saying to her teacher. And so it began.

Anderson was the first to testify at Ellison's trial. That's where she met Wood. The filmmaker attended court daily and Anderson grew to trust her. "She made friends with people and not in a kind of exploitive I-want-your-story kind of way, but really developing sincere kinds of relationships with people."

Wood was also able to relate to her subjects on a deep level: she, too, had sex with a teacher when she was in high school. She says her situation was an isolated case, different from what happened at Quest.

"Mine was a teacher who had a biological urge and he didn't stop," she said. "I'm not justifying it, but it isn't to me the same story as this complete abuse of power."

Wood hasn't gone to police and doesn't plan to.

Amazingly, she says she was not even conscious of the connection between her history and the Quest story when she began working on the documentary. She did not share her own background with her interviewees. But she still thinks it might have had an impact. "What it did for me going into those interviews with the women - and maybe that's what they felt - [was that] I wasn't judging them. There was no judgment about who they were or what they had done, because I could so easily understand that. Because I'd been through the same thing."

Wood did not have trouble finding former Questers who were willing to share their personal stories in this public forum. Ellison, though, "politely refused" her request for an interview. Wood says the Vancouver School Board also turned down the request she made for an interview through a public-relations firm, but the board says it was not aware of the request -and the PR firm says it was not asked for an interview. The board did acknowledge having turned down a request by Wood to film in the old Quest classroom.

"The reason we said no to that," says Chris Kelly, superintendent of schools for the VSB, was that "we are obviously really sensitive to the whole phenomenon of the Quest program and we just didn't think it was advisable for us to have the documentary filmed in the same space ... because, frankly, it was such a long time ago."

(The board released recommendations last week stemming from the Ellison case. These include a code of conduct and disciplinary-record checks for prospective employees. Wood calls the recommendations disappointing. "I have to admit I started laughing when I started reading them," she says. "I don't see anything new here.")

For Wood, this film is not simply about the Vancouver School Board or Quest or sexual abuse - it's about the need for society to talk publicly about difficult issues. "It wasn't just about those women and that teacher," she says. "It's issues we have in our society; trying to hush up the stuff we don't want to talk about. And not being open and honest about things that are going wrong. And I think in all aspects of our lives, that's really important, whether it's personally or in a community or government. Transparency is key to functioning properly."

Clichéd though it might sound, both Wood and Anderson were also motivated by a desire to encourage other women to come forward - in related or unrelated cases. Anderson says that since the ban on her identity was lifted (the ban was automatic because of the sexual nature of the charges), she has been approached by several people who have thanked her for coming forward. "Women are looking for models of strength," she says.

They'll find several of them on Newsworld tonight - both in front of and behind the camera.

School of Secrets airs on The Lens today at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

Networks Get Ready For Strike

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lynn Elber, Gary Gentile, The Associated Press

(October 30, 2007) LOS ANGELES – TV viewers hooked on cliffhanger episodes of hit shows such as "Heroes"
and "Grey's Anatomy" could be left dangling if writers walk off the job.

With Hollywood writers poised to log off their laptops as soon as Thursday,
TV networks were bracing for the need to fill the airwaves with reality shows, game shows and even reruns if a threatened strike devours their script inventory.

Viewers could start seeing an onslaught of unscripted entertainment by early next year, when popular series such as ``Desperate Housewives" and "Heroes" run out of new episodes.

"I was in a network meeting today, and they were referring to the fact the timing is really good for reality producers," said producer Mark Cronin.

He and partner Cris Abrego have been consistently busy with shows such as "Flavor of Love," "I Love New York" and "The Surreal Life."

But "it's going from 50 m.p.h. to 70 m.p.h.," Cronin said, adding that networks must "protect themselves and fill their airspace."

Members of the Writers Guild of America and the group representing film and TV producers were set to meet Tuesday with a federal mediator after scant progress in contentious talks that have dragged on since July.

With the current contract set to expire at midnight Wednesday, negotiators remain far apart on the central issue of raising payment for profits on DVDs and shows offered digitally on the Internet, cell phones and other devices.

More than 5,000 members of the Writers Guild of America recently voted, with 90 per cent authorizing negotiators to call the first strike since 1988 if necessary.

"I'm willing to put my family on the line for what's right," said Mick Betancourt, a writer on the NBC show "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit."

Betancourt has a four-year-old son and a baby due in December but says he is ready to walk a picket line if asked to do so.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that negotiates on behalf of networks and studios, has said networks will continue to air quality programming.

"CBS is not going to go blank," CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves has said.

A newcomer to TV's writing ranks earns about $70,000 per season for full-time work on a show.

Veteran writers who move up to a story-editor position would get at least a low six-figure salary, with a "written by" credit on an hour-long script paying an additional $30,000 plus residuals.

Writers are free to negotiate for higher pay, and people who produce or co-produce – called "hyphenates" in industry parlance – earn more.

If writers walk out, the effect wouldn't be felt immediately. Networks have enough episodes of shows such as "Ugly Betty" and ``CSI" written and in production to last at least through the end of the year and possibly into next February, industry executives and analysts said.

But after that, schedules will run into trouble.

Producers already have tried to hurry shooting in preparation for a strike but not always successfully.

The CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" was asked by 20th Century Fox Television to shoot an extra episode during a planned production break last week.

"It simply would have been impossible, so we said no. That was pretty much where it started and ended," said Jamie Rhonheimer, a writer-producer on the series.

A strike could also leave the hosts of the big Hollywood awards shows speechless.

The Academy Awards, set for February, January's Golden Globes and other shows rely on teams of writers to fashion quips and monologues.

A prolonged writers strike could also affect next year's TV season. Pilots for next fall are being written now and the development process, which includes rewrites and casting, extends through the spring.

"When we stop working, it's going to be a lot of catch-up," to get pilots back on track for the fall, said Patti Carr, a writer who has projects in development with ABC and CBS.

Networks are busy mulling proposed reality projects that aren't governed by guild contracts.

The shows have the advantage of a quick production timeline, said producer Abrego, with a series able to go from "concept to pitch to air" in just a couple months.

Abrego expects to see networks going straight from a pitch to a series order, bypassing the time-consuming production of a pilot.

Viewers like reality shows but may be so angry at interruptions to their favourite prime-time programs that they turn off their sets in disgust, some observers fear.

"You don't want viewers turning away from television, because it can be hard to get them to turn back," said Charles Floyd Johnson, an executive producer on "NCIS."

Advertisers, too, would suffer from a long strike and would make networks share their pain.

Advertisers are "not going to get what they paid for," said analyst Shari Anne Brill of ad buyer Carat USA.

"There will be severe under-delivery (of viewers) on the schedule if you get repeats and less-desirable reality shows," she said. "It puts the networks in a horrific make-good situation."

Ad rates are based on predicted ratings; if a show falls short, networks have to make good the difference with additional commercial time.

She noted that ad revenue already was down from predictions, even before the season began.

In May, when the fall network schedules were introduced, advertisers committed to about $8 billion for prime-time commercials, compared to $9 billion just two years ago.

Film production would not immediately suffer the effects of even a prolonged strike because of the long lead time required to make features.

Still, studios could soon be wrestling with plots and endings for unfinished 2009 blockbusters such as "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and the next James Bond flick.

Once a film is in production, changes occur almost daily, with writers being asked to create new scenes, punch up dialogue or accommodate an actor's ad-libs or vision for a part.

None of that would happen once writers hit the picket line.

"What they are looking for is a script as close to a locked script as they can find," said Duane Adler, a writer who has been rushing to finish a 2009 movie for 20th Century Fox studios.

It's not a good time for Adler to go on strike, but he is ready to walk out if asked.

"I've got a movie coming out, I've got one I want to direct and one that is being fast-tracked," Adler said. "It's a bad time for me personally. But these things are secondary."

Tyra Expands Presence At Warner Bros.

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 31, 2007) *
Tyra Banks is doing big thangs. The supermodel-turned-entertainment mogul has signed a new multiyear pact with Warner Bros. that expands her overall deal with the studio.

Under the new arrangement, Banks will develop scripted TV projects through Warner Bros. Television and reality shows via Warner Horizon, reports Variety.

Banks said she's looking to create shows "that attract my core audience" and that are "aspirational and empowering." She adds: "But we're going to have a lot of fun with those messages, too."       

In addition, Banks is expanding into film with planned direct-to-DVD projects under Warner Premiere, starting with adaptations of the bestselling Clique series of teen novels. The books explore young-adult social politics and have sold more than 4 million copies in the U.S.       

"I've been a mean girl and I've been teased, so I identify with both sides of it," Banks told Variety. "This is very much my brand, especially as teenage girls are dedicated to watching both my shows."       

Banks will team with Alloy Entertainment for the Clique films and serve as an executive producer on the project, which has been in the works since last summer. Warner Premiere president Diane Nelson said the studio plans to market Banks-produced titles under the banner of "Tyra Banks Presents."

Meanwhile, Banks' series development deal is with the CW network, which is half-owned by Warner Bros. and carries her competition series "America's Next Top Model." The CW agreement covers both scripted and nonscripted projects.

Banks said the new deal "represents the growth of an already successful relationship" with the studio. "Warner Bros. understands my brand and the reach and demand of our audience," she said.  

TV TIDBITS

NBC Says Leno To Depart As Planned In '09

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(October 29, 2007) NEW YORK — If “Tonight Show” host
Jay Leno is having second thoughts about surrendering his job as planned, NBC doesn't share them — at least not publicly. “Conan O'Brien will take over ‘The Tonight Show' in 2009,” NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker said Monday in New York at an event arranged by Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Zucker said he'd like Leno to remain with the company and that “we are in those conversations now.” “I'm hopeful that Jay will be with us,” the executive told the question-and-answer session. A deal for Leno's exit was finalized three years ago as part of NBC Universal's effort to keep “Late Night” host O'Brien from bolting to a competing network. Leno marked his 15th year as host of “Tonight” last May. Leno has said he's comfortable with his planned departure but, according to a report earlier this month in the Los Angeles Times, the comedian has grown reluctant to retire as host of the fabled, top-rated late-night program. Leno declined comment on the Times report when it was published. He had no comment Monday on Zucker's remarks, an NBC spokeswoman said. NBC is owned by General Electric Co.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Robert Goulet, 73

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Associated Press and Canadian Press

(October 30, 2007)
Robert Goulet, the handsome, big-voiced baritone whose Broadway debut in "Camelot" launched an award-winning stage and recording career, has died.

He was 73.

The U.S.-born Goulet, who spent much of his youth in Canada, gained stardom in 1960 with "Camelot," the Lerner and Loewe musical that starred Richard Burton as King Arthur and Julie Andrews as his Queen Guenevere.

He died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles hospital while awaiting a lung transplant, said Goulet spokesman Norm Johnson.

He had been awaiting a lung transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after being found last month to have a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis.

Goulet had remained in good spirits even as he waited for the transplant, said Vera Goulet, his wife of 25 years.

"Just watch my vocal cords," she said he told doctors before they inserted a breathing tube.

Goulet was born in Lawrence, Mass., the only son of Canadian parents, Joseph and Jeannette Goulet.

He began singing when he was five years old at family gatherings and later at church.

After his father's death, Jeanette Goulet moved to Canada with 13-year-old Robert and his sister Claire, where he spent his most formative years.

His first professional appearance was at age 16 with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Following a two-year stint as a radio announcer, he was awarded a singing scholarship to the Royal Conservatory of Music at the University of Toronto.

In 1993 they awarded him an honorary fellowship.

He was a popular young star in Canada in the 1950s and appeared in scores of theatrical, radio and television productions — culminating as host of the weekly network variety show for CBC-TV, "General Electric's Showtime."

"I feel Canadian," Goulet said in an interview with the Canadian Press last year.

"I tried to become a citizen for a long time but the red tape is going to drive me nuts."

"It's always red tape. I've got a senator from Alberta ... working on it."

Friend, fellow musician and Alberta Senator Tommy Banks said he discussed the issue several times with Goulet over the last few years.

The pair met when both worked for the Alberta radio network CKUA in the early 1950s.

"We were both going various kinds of radio shows, he was doing a bit of singing and a bit of announcer operating and I was doing the same kind of thing," Banks told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

"He was a very good guy," Banks said.

"And he had absolutely the best musical theatre singing voice that there ever was on a man. He was fabulously good a musical theatre."

"We always got along. He went through some very rough times but he got past them and did extremely well in the later years."

"He was singing and performing very well in September, you know. He got ill quite suddenly."

Banks said last year that Goulet's quest for Canadian citizenship was "complicated by the fact that he's not born in Canada."

"There just isn't any shortcut around it, even an international celebrity has to go through the same hoops as everybody else does, which is to go to the consulate in Los Angeles ... and take out an application for citizenship."

"I think that an argument can be made that we would be better if he is a citizen than if he is not."

Goulet said he hoped to sort out the matter when he visited Toronto in 2006 to accept an induction into Canada's Walk of Fame.

"My formative years were in Canada and I have so much love for Canada," he said.

"My mother and sister and my sister's husband were all buried in a little village called Girouxville in northern Alberta."

Goulet said his thoughts often turned to those early days carving a career north of the border. He credited a music teacher at St. Joseph's high school in Edmonton with teaching him the proper way to sing.

"I always miss Canada. I'd love to visit those places again."

He became a hit with U.S. TV viewers with appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and other programs. Sullivan labelled him the "American baritone from Canada."

The Los Angeles Times wrote in 1963 that Goulet "is popping up in specials so often these days that you almost feel he has a weekly show. The handsome lad is about the hottest item in show business since his Broadway debut."

Goulet won a Grammy Award in 1962 as best new artist and made the singles chart in 1964 with "My Love Forgive Me."

"When I'm using a microphone or doing recordings I try to concentrate on the emotional content of the song and to forget about the voice itself," he told the New York Times in 1962.

"Sometimes I think that if you sing with a big voice, the people in the audience don't listen to the words, as they should," he told the paper.

"They just listen to the sound."

While he returned to Broadway only infrequently after "Camelot," he did win a Tony award in 1968 for best actor in a musical for his role in "The Happy Time." His other Broadway appearances were in "Moon Over Buffalo" in 1995 and "La Cage aux Folles" in 2005, plus a "Camelot" revival in 1993 in which he played King Arthur.

His stage credits elsewhere include productions of "Carousel," "Finian's Rainbow," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "The Pajama Game," "Meet Me in St. Louis," and "South Pacific."

Goulet also did some film work, performing in movies ranging from the animated "Gay Purr-ee" (1962) to "Underground" (1970) to "The Naked Gun 21/2" (1991). He played a lounge singer in Louis Malle's acclaimed 1980 film "Atlantic City."

He returned to Broadway in 2005 as one half of a gay couple in "La Cage aux Folles," and Associated Press theatre critic Michael Kuchwara praised Goulet for his "affable, self-deprecating charm."

Goulet had no problems poking fun at his own fame, appearing recently in an Emerald nuts commercial in which he "messes" with the stuff of dozing office workers, and lending his name to Goulet's SnoozeBars. Goulet also has been sent up by Will Ferrell on "Saturday Night Live."

"You have to have humour and be able to laugh at yourself," Goulet said in a biography on his website.

When his onetime co-star Julie Andrews received a Kennedy Center Honors award in 2001, Goulet was among those joining in singing in her honour.

In his last performance Sept. 20 in Syracuse, N.Y., the crooner was backed by a 15-piece orchestra as he performed the one-man show "A Man and his Music."

Although Goulet headlined frequently on the Las Vegas Strip, one period stood out, evidenced by a photograph that hung on his office wall. It was the mid-1970s, and he had just finished a two-week run at the Desert Inn when he was asked to fill in at the Frontier, across the street.

Overnight, the marquees of two of the Strip's hottest resorts read the same: "Robert Goulet."

"I played there many, many years and have wonderful memories of the place," Goulet told the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.

His first two marriages ended in divorce. He had a daughter with his first wife, Louise Longmore, and two sons with his second wife, Carol Lawrence, the actress and singer who played Maria in the original Broadway production of "West Side Story."

After their break-up, she portrayed him unflatteringly in a book.

"There's a fine line between love and hate," he responded in a New York Times interview.

"She went on every talk show interview and cut me to shreds and I've never done anything like that and I won't."

Pianist Roger Williams said he first met Goulet when he performed on a Canadian television show.

"He appeared on the last part of the show and I knew then that he was a tremendous talent," Williams told the Associated Press.

"He could shake a room with that big beautiful voice."

Goulet's long-time friend Wayne Newton said his sense of humour "kept my spirits up in some of the lowest valleys in my life."

"His incredible voice will live on in his music, and as Bob so brilliantly sang: 'There will be another song for him and he will sing it,' for God now has another singing angel by his side," Newton said in a statement.

Montreal Director Wins $100k Theatre Prize

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Andrea Baillie, The Canadian Press

(October 29, 2007) Montrealer
Brigitte Haentjens received the richest theatre prize in the country on Monday, but that doesn't mean she got to take a day off work.

In the morning, Haentjens scheduled a rehearsal in Montreal for a new play she is directing starring Roy Dupuis. Then, she was set to jet off to Toronto to receive the $100,000 Siminovitch Prize.

Despite the hectic schedule, she is savouring the freedom the award will give her.

"I'm 56 years old, I'm at the top of my career, but you feel sometimes very lonely, very discouraged, because it's very hard," said Haentjens.

"This kind of prize gives you a lot of energy."

Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, the prize is dedicated to scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. Introduced in 2001, it recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles.

The winner receives $75,000, and gives $25,000 of the prize to a protégé or organization of their choice.

Haentjens studied theatre in Paris before coming to Ontario 30 years ago. She had stints as artistic director at the Theatre du Nouvel-Ontario and the Nouvelle Compagnie Theatrale in Montreal. In addition, she was artistic co-director for the Carrefour International de Theatre de Quebec.

Haentjens has also run her own theatre company, Sibyllines, since 1997. The company is currently working on a French production of Blaste by Sarah Kane.

Said Leonard McHardy, jury chair of the Siminovitch Prize: "In Brigitte's world, ideas bleed, bodies think, space throbs. This is (work) that defies classification; that displays a breathtaking tension between meticulousness and brutality; and wherein people even as they are excited and inspired by the show itself, will find themselves forced to question the very foundations of their existence, of their identity, without any possible escape."

The director said she was "almost crying" when she found out she had won the award and hopes to use the money to travel and see plays – particularly in Europe.

Such trips, she said, inspire her and give her time to reflect on her own artistic endeavours.

"It's good, just to think about what you do," said Haentjens. ``Here, I'm working so hard, I'm working usually 12 hours a day ... This prize is giving me the time to think, which is great."

Haentjens has chosen two protégés: Quebec City director Christian Lapointe and Montreal-based Theatre de la Pire Espece. Each will receive $12,500.

Twenty-six directors were nominated for this year's Siminovitch Prize. A short list of four was announced earlier this month.

In addition to Haentjens, the names on the short list were: Edmonton's Ron Jenkins, a founding member of November Theatre; Toronto's Alisa Palmer, co-founder and co-director of the performance company Froth Productions, and Toronto's Soheil Parsa, whose three-decade career has focused on oppression and loss of freedom.

Curtain Falls On Stratford's Leading Lady

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic

(October 28, 2007) It was 25 years ago when a dancer named
Cynthia Dale cracked her heel during the third day of rehearsals of the Stratford Festival production of The Gondoliers and was carried out of the Avon Theatre.

"I'll be back," she told her colleagues – and she was right. A few weeks later, she was standing in the back row of the chorus and singing.

This afternoon, Dale will once again be leaving the Avon Theatre against her will, following the final performance of My One and Only, because – after a decade as Stratford's leading lady – she hasn't been offered a part for next season.

But, once again, she fully intends to return. "I will be at this theatre again," she says passionately. "I believe it."

Ever since Dale played Guinevere in Richard Monette's 1997 production of Camelot, there were two things you could count on in almost every Stratford season: there would be a musical and Cynthia Dale would star in it.

She ran the gamut from My Fair Lady to Guys and Dolls and even through few serious plays like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Miracle Worker.

But now, Monette has left the Festival and the new general director, Antoni Cimolino, and his artistic directors (Des McAnuff, Marti Maraden and Don Shipley) didn't see Dale in their immediate future plans.

"I always knew it was going to happen," she says, smiling as the late afternoon sun pours through the window of The Belfry, choicest of Stratford watering holes.

"Two years ago," Dale recalls, "I was sitting in an airport in Ottawa with Antoni when Richard's resignation was announced and I turned to him and said, `I won't be back.'

"He asked me, `What do you mean?' and I said, `New regimes. Out with the old. In with the new. That's what happens.'"

Still, when her prophecy came true one day last April, Dale found it a bit harder to accept than she might have thought.

"Even if you're ready for it," she begins tentatively, "it's still a surprise and takes some recalibrating. What helped put it all in perspective for me was the fact that the night before, a very good friend of mine had died. I was still reeling from that. It certainly made me realize it was just a job."

Dale broke the news to her family unit. She sat down with her son Willie, then 7, and asked him, "How would you feel if I didn't go back to the theatre?"

"No, Mom, no!" was his response.

"But it would mean we could spend more time together and travel with Dad more," she suggested.

"Okay, Mom, that's great," he bounced back with the resilience of the young.

Then she phoned her husband, CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge.

"I still remember where I was when she called," he says, "driving the highway between Cairo and Alexandria. My first feeling was that this was the best thing that could have happened to her, as she'd be able to branch out in all kinds of new directions and spend more time travelling with me."

But another thought crossed his mind as well: "Why would Stratford let somebody go who had done them so much good, made so much money for them?"

It's a question a lot of people asked. There were letters in the local paper, whisperings around town, supposedly even some discussion among Festival board members.

Had Dale wanted to call in the considerable goodwill she had amassed living in Stratford over the last decade, she could have caused a few waves.

She did lose her legendary cool to one reporter this summer and exploded, "As many times as I've loved coming to the theatre, I've also hated it. The mood everywhere in the company is bittersweet ... It's alien to me; it's not part of the Stratford I have known for 10 years."

She now confesses, "That was me shooting my mouth off on one of my bad days and I'm sorry I did it."

Ultimately, she took the high road and just kept stressing how grateful she was to outgoing artistic director Monette and reaffirming that, "I feel really proud about what I've done here for 10 years."

Still, it's not like Dale's entire career has centered around Stratford.

The 47-year-old star was born Cynthia Ciurluini in Toronto and made her stage debut at the Royal Alex in Finian's Rainbow when she was 5. Dance took over her teen years and she wistfully recalls "going to dance class on Friday night while the other kids were at parties and the boy you had a crush on was at the party, not at the dance class."

After her chorus years at Stratford, she made a few films, most notably Heavenly Bodies. "Fast and dirty and shot in 18 days," she laughs, "that's how I learned to make movies."

This was also the time of her first marriage, to a husband she won't name, because "it isn't fair to drag him into my life. Too young, too soon. Love is blind ... and deaf and dumb sometimes, too."

Fleeing from that relationship in 1987, she agreed to appear in Richard Rose's environmental hit Tamara in its New York debut.

"I knew nobody. I packed four trunks, went to a fourth-floor walk-up, sat down and cried. I was a lonely, unhappy fat girl."

But the casting people for CBC sought her out, because they were looking to revitalize their series Street Legal by adding a bitchy, sexy witch named Olivia Novak. They picked Dale, who stayed with the show through 1994 and became a star. After that came what she calls "my charmed decade" with her marriage to Mansbridge, the birth of her son and her time at Stratford.

But when the curtain falls this afternoon, she admits, "It's going to be tough because it's the end of an era, not because it's the end of my being here."

She thinks back to her friend Esther, who died this year. Dale recalls asking her if she had any unfulfilled dreams. "I always wanted to walk over a suspension bridge," she told her, "because it's all about trust and believing it will hold you up."

Dale looks across the table and her eyes are clear. "Well, I'm on a suspension bridge, too," she says. "I'm scared s---less, but I'm just going to keep moving on. And I trust I will be back at this theatre again.

"I don't think of this as an ending. I really, really don't."

And, considering Dale's track record for returning to the Avon Theatre in the face of adversity, one would be inclined to believe her.

Theatre Passe Muraille's Outrageous Productions Stirred City 40 Years Ago

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(October 25, 2007) Isn't it funny how some people forget that the middle aged ever were young?

To today's generation of theatregoers,
Theatre Passe Muraille is that oddly named, beat-up building on Ryerson Ave. where they sometimes go to see plays like The Drawer Boy or Da Kink In My Hair.

But if you asked most of them, they wouldn't have the slightest idea that Theatre Passe Muraille began 40 years ago as a state of mind, rather than a pile of bricks and mortar, from a group of people who were trying as hard as they could to raise the flat white-bread consciousness of theatre.

It all started with Jim Garrard, a young man deeply into the La Mama Theatre movement in New York, which was anxious to shatter conventional audience-theatre relationships.

He was pondering what to call a potential theatre company of his own when "I looked up and saw the lady in my life was reading Marcel Aymé's famous story Le passe muraille (The Walker Through Walls)" and it struck him as having all the qualities he dreamt of in a theatre.

The free-thinking atmosphere of Rochdale College proved hospitable to his plans; a theatre was quickly erected in a second-storey parking garage, and before long the first "Theatre Passe Muraille" production went on – Paul Foster's revolutionary drama, Tom Payne.

Confusion over the rights closed the show down (not the first time the hand of the law would try to stifle Theatre Passe Muraille) and they found themselves relocating to the Central Library Theatre.

"So what did we do?" laughs Garrard. "In 1969, we produced something even more outrageous."

That play was Rochelle Owens' Futz, about a farmer who loved his pig in a way that Al Gore might have dubbed "inconvenient."

"The cops came breaking in on us," said Garrard, "after a front-page story in the Star about how obscene we were. They issued 32 summons a day, every day for a month, but they didn't shut the production down."

But the Library suggested they move elsewhere, so they found a new home in a church hall at 11 Trinity Square.

"We produced some damn fine theatre there," Garrard recalls, "including Genet's The Maids starring Kate Nelligan, or Trish Nelligan as she was then known."

Another theatre artist from Montreal joined the mix at the time, helping to stir the pot with Garrard, Martin Kinch and John Palmer.

His name was Paul Thompson, a bearded figure who always looked like an Old Testament prophet with a vaguely dirty mind.

"I was brought in to be useful," is how Thompson recalls it.

"Things were starting to get hairy from a financial point of view and they wanted one person to have his hands on the keys and the cheque books.

"That was me.

"Garrard had brought a lot of exciting people together, but now we had to find a way to make it work practically. Jim was great at shaking up a provocative cocktail of sensationalism, nudity and danger that brought the audiences in, but somehow the bills never got paid."

So a consortium led by Thompson, Kinch and Palmer took over for several years. Each presented a sample of the kind of show they wanted to do. Palmer's was called Out to Breakfast; Kinch's was Vampire; but Thompson's was Doukhobors, the 1971 collective that set the company on its history-making path.

By 1972, Thompson was steering it in the direction of collective creation that would prove its manifest destiny, especially after The Farm Show proved such a giant success.

But it was 1975's I Love You, Baby Blue that put the theatre on the map and in the black. Based on the late night "Baby Blue" soft porn movies that Citytv played in its fledgling years, Thompson described his work as one in which "a penis was made erect on stage, the term `blow job' was used seven times, the crowd went wild, the cops paid a visit."

And, 30,000 Torontonians bought tickets, enough to buy the converted candle factory/bakery on Ryerson. The same building, in fact, that the City of Toronto had to buy up this year to save the company from bankruptcy.

Thompson continued to work the collective while offering a place for the edgy playwrights of the period; Linda Griffiths and Hrant Aliank.

After Thompson left in 1982, he was succeeded by the brilliant, but erratic Clarke Rogers who welcomed authors like Sally Clark and Brad Fraser, but artistic consistency was wildly up and down and the spirit of the old Garrard-Thompson days had vanished.

Brian Richmond took over in 1987 and left a legacy of some popular hits (Fire) and a lot of red ink. Susan Serran (1992-1997) largely held the fort and welcomed artists like John Mighton. And Layne Coleman's regime (1997-2007) continued a roller-coaster ride with hits like The Drawer Boy sharing space with shows that emptied the theatre in record numbers.

Andy McKim is now poised to take over and it's certain that Theatre Passe Muraille will continue.

"There've been a lot of real troughs in Passe Muraille's history," Garrard concludes, "but overall, it's really been worth it."

Adds Thompson, "The best part of Passe Muraille is when it would do the things that no one else would do."

Canadian Performers' Talent And Humanity Praised By Chicago's Shakespeare Theatre

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic

(October 27, 2007) CHICAGO–Every great theatre city has its own secret weapon: London's is tradition, New York's is showbiz and Chicago's is Toronto.

Don't get me wrong, the
theatre scene in Chicago is rich and vibrant enough on its own to warrant a visit any time. But when you add a substantial infusion of talent from north of the border, you've got a combination that's hard to beat.

Ask Barbara Gaines. The smart, warm-hearted artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has made it a point for the past eight seasons to hire as many Canadian actors, directors and designers as she finds appropriate.

The figure currently stands at 27 and it's about to get a major infusion early in 2008 when the entire Shaw Festival production of Saint Joan shows up to offer Illinois a massive dose of Canadiana.

Canadian actors love working at CST. This season, Juan Chioran is making his third appearance there starring in Cymbeline and he calls it "one of my favourite theatres anywhere."

And Adam Brazier, starring in the musical Passion, refers to it as "the place you've always dreamed of working."

Luckily, it's a mutual love affair. Gaines pulls no punches as she sits back in her office on an autumn afternoon and begins the catalogue of Canuck praise.

"Every Canadian actor I have met to this point in my life," she says, "are top-notch actors on the world stage. But they're also wonderful human beings, graceful, generous team players, endlessly creative and one hell of a lot of fun to be around."

Gaines is the first to admit she doesn't automatically "go north" when it comes time to cast her shows, but it often winds up happening that way.

"Our whole goal," she explains, "is to find the best actor for the role. We set the pole very high. We always search in Chicago first and we find most of them here, but when we can't, we go to Canada."

Besides the talent and personalities of the actors she's brought down from Canada to her glorious theatre complex on Navy Pier, there are other things she cherishes as well.

"Their work ethic is superb. They never stop digging. They don't care about, `Who's in the audience tonight?' They care about the play."

That's not to imply working at CST is without benefits. Canadian Ben Carlson played Hamlet there just a year ago and now, thanks to fine reviews and excellent buzz, he's playing it at Stratford next year.

Besides the benefits of getting good performers in her shows, the generous Gaines admits, "I have also learned a lot from Canadian actors. Our Chicago actors are passionate and thrilling to work with, but the Canadians bring something else, a questing spirit, a sense of adventure and new challenges. It's been a wonderful marriage and I've loved it."

Just one small quibble. Why hasn't it worked the other way, with Chicago actors invited in similar numbers to Toronto?

"Well, you'll just have to ask the artistic directors there," laughs Gaines. "It should go both ways, that's what it's all about.

"We've all got to learn to take more chances. Maybe we'll fall on our faces, but at least we've tried. And if I've learned one thing in my career, it's that it's all about the journey."

No Strike On Broadway – Yet

Excerpt from www.thestar.com

(October 30, 2007) Stalled labour negotiations between Broadway producers and the stagehands union will resume next week, nearly a month after both sides presented what they said were their last best offers. Union members voted unanimously Oct. 21 to give Local One the authority to call a strike , a move that could shut down most
Broadway theatres.

"The Art of Robert Bateman" retrospective exhibition, which has enjoyed record attendance since it opened Sept. 1 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, is being extended till Sunday. The gallery will be open an extra hour this weekend, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

U2's much-anticipated 3-D concert movie will hit theatres in late January. "It's going to be hard for conventional 2-D rock films to make a splash after people get a look at this," the Star's film critic, Peter Howell, wrote after a sample of U23D screened at Cannes this year.

1960s pop star Donovan plans to open a university, where students will adhere to the principles of transcendental meditation, in either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Tourist chiefs keen to tempt "set-jetters" to Britain have launched a campaign to cash in on historic locations featured in the new Cate Blanchett movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Canadian acting legend Christopher Plummer will do a benefit reading of the Mordecai Richler classic Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang at Stratford on Aug. 23.

Elizabeth Taylor can keep a Vincent van Gogh painting after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by three people who said their great-grandmother was forced to sell the work before fleeing Nazi Germany. Rade Serbedzija of Croatia won best actor at the Rome Film Festival on the weekend for his role in Fugitive Pieces, directed by Toronto's Jeremy Podeswa.

Star staff, wire services

THEATRE TIDBITS

Plummer To Read Jacob Two-Two At Stratford

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(October 29, 2007) Canadian acting legend
Christopher Plummer will do a benefit reading of the Mordecai Richler classic "Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang" at the Stratford festival next summer. Proceeds from the Plummer reading on Aug. 23 will fund a visit to the festival by underprivileged youth, the festival said Monday in a news release. "Christopher Plummer recorded `Jacob Two-Two' in the 1980s but he has never before presented it to a live audience," Don Shipley, co-artistic director of the festival, said in the release. "Christopher has an exceptional repertoire of voices and accents that bring the characters to life and evoke the wonderful spirit of the story." "Jacob Two-Two" is the story of a little boy who has to say everything twice in order to be heard by his older brothers and sisters. But when he finds himself imprisoned by the dreaded Hooded Fang, Jacob learns that small does not mean helpless. "It's a rare event – as Jacob Two-Two would say: `not to be missed, not to be missed!"' Shipley said Abridged from Richler's story, the reading will last about an hour and will be held at the festival's Avon Theatre. Tickets for the event are available through the Stratford Shakespeare Festival box office, 1-800-567-1600. Prices range from $15 to $20 for adults and $8 to $12 for children. The box office is now open to members of the Stratford festival; it opens to the general public on Dec. 1.

::OTHER NEWS::

Brett Hart Wrestles With Life

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop Culture Writer

(October 27, 2007)
Bret Hart has kind, sad eyes, a gentle handshake and an overall mien of melancholy. The long, dark hair that used to whip around his face in the wrestling ring is grey and pony-tailed.

His face looks like the face of someone who's lived a hard and strange life and, after reading his just-published autobiography,
Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, you know it's a face he's earned many times over.

A hard-scrabble childhood in a wrestling family with 11 siblings, the ups and downs of being a WWF superstar, a tempestuous marriage, his brother Owen's death in the ring when he fell 24 metres in a stunt gone terribly wrong, a stroke, the deaths – many due to drugs, booze, steroids – of many wrestling colleagues and friends (Chris Benoit being the latest) and deep family quarrels are all described in detail in the massive tome.

"There were quite a few difficult parts to write. To write about when my brother Owen died was really hard. When I started writing that, it was tough, and when I was done, I was just exhausted mentally and weary of the whole project. It was tough to relive," says Hart, now 50, sitting in his publisher's office.

"And the stroke, to write about how miserable I felt and how broken I was, it brings it all back. In a good and a bad way. You think about all the bad but also that it's over with. You never forget it ... It is the biggest thing I've ever fought. When I think of where I was when I was in the hospital and couldn't turn my hand over and was so devastated by the whole thing.

"But I escaped it all. The bad fate that was set in motion for me."

Does escaping that fate, where so many others perished, bring about survivor's guilt?

"No, no, you can't fall into that. You have to live strong, enjoy every day," he says. "You have to enjoy it all because you never know what's going to happen. My brother Owen was the kind of guy who was always telling himself that tomorrow he would finally get home, everything was for that plan down the road. I feel bad sometimes when I think of all the friends that have died. Many of them, including Owen, should be here. Horrible things can happen, but I don't know what Owen was thinking when he did that stunt."

Professional wrestling is storytelling taken to the nth and violent degree, with heroes and heels and elaborate soap opera-like narratives. Hart was a good storyteller in the ring and moving on to the written word is a natural progression.

"In a lot of ways, it's the same thing. In my case you try to tell the truth, bring out the best and try to find the point. I'm not sure what the point is in my book ... maybe that no one is perfect and that you should watch out for everything that comes, good or bad. I think I was really good at telling wrestling stories. I really understood the psychology of wrestling and had a gift for being able to see it in my head before everyone else. In wrestling there is no rehearsal, you show up and even if you don't know the guy you're wrestling with you have to piece a story together ... very few wrestlers ever questioned me on my storytelling when I structured a match."

"I can remember with Vince McMahon, I started to tell him what I was doing and he'd stop me and say `Don't tell me, I just want to watch.'"

McMahon, of course, is the owner of what was the WWF during Hart's wrestling days and is now the WWE, having annexed other organizations. Hitman, in stores now, chronicles Hart's adversarial relationship with McMahon, a feud that caused Hart to leave the WWF under unpleasant circumstances. The two are now back on speaking terms and Hart isn't too worried that the book will upset McMahon, whom he refers to as "ultimately the biggest wrestling fan of all." Hart doesn't want to revive any quarrel with McMahon as "he has many ways he can stick a thumb in my eye. There's not much I can do to him. Maybe this book is my best and only shot to say what needs to be said and clear the air."

McMahon isn't the only one who is portrayed with a whole lot of warts.

"For the most part, I thought I'm going to write what's necessary. If I hurt a few feelings here and there, as long as I'm not malicious – unless I'm intending to be malicious – I didn't go out of my way to run anybody over. And if anybody got run over that's because it was necessary to the story."

Hart is ready to take some time off once the book tour is over – "just take it easy." And then what with the rest of his life? Where does an old wrestler go? "I don't know. I may go back to film school here in Toronto. I talked to Paul Jay who did the Wrestling with Shadows documentary and we talked about hiring me on to learn the film business." One thing he's not going to be doing is helping his kids get into the family business. His two sons aren't interested, something Hart seems relieved about.

Asked if he's happy, in spite of the losses, in spite of the close brush with that bad fate, in spite of there being problems with his second, and long-distance, marriage, there's a smile.

"I think so. I think I am. I've been through a lot ... but, I'm happy with the book coming out. I'm happy with my life in general, my health. The Calgary Hitmen (WHL hockey club) are rated No. 1 in the country. Life is good. The new Bruce Springsteen came out!"

Energy, Sex And Web In Cook's Recipe

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

(October 28, 2007)
Dane Cook is ubiquitous. The comedian-slash-actor – in that order, thank you very much – is currently the face of the Major League Baseball playoffs, co-starring in the just-opened films Dan in Real Life, hitting DVD stands in Mr. Brooks and in two weeks issues his third album, Rough Around The Edges: Live from Madison Square Gardens. He's even commencing a stadium standup tour, which kicks off on Friday at the Air Canada Centre.

"I'm going to put together the largest tour I can because I think some of my fans are like, `We're losing Dane. He's a movie star now.'" Cook says on the phone from L.A. "No, I'm a comedian first. It's comedian-slash-actor. It always will be. I can't think of a better way to do it than doing an epic arena tour, the biggest in a couple of decades, maybe not since (Andrew) Dice (Clay). I want to use this chance to share the success I've had with the fans."

His current omnipresence is Cook's reward for over a decade of work. His material mixes observations and what feels just like conversation, spiced up by somewhat lewd, ranty delivery. He's good at coming up with catchphrases and has also adopted a hand gesture – the Su-fi or Super Finger, one digit thicker than the usual obscene gesture – as a trademark, and it all goes over phenomenally well with the college crowd that's claimed him.

Chatting with him, he's high energy, just like he is onstage, saying he wants to keep on converting people into fans one at a time. It helps that he somehow mixes pretty good looks with a shlubby guy-next-door quality. The screams on his records testify that female fans like what they see; even the ACC website touts him as "Comedian, Actor, Hottie."

Cook is also a next-gen celeb because of the way he uses the web to connect to fans. It's part of his lore that he harnessed MySpace – he's got over two million friends and counting – to boost his image, and these days he feels a bit vindicated for taking the plunge so early.

"I remember getting laughed at by a couple of comics who will remain nameless. `What are you doing, come out with us,' and I was saying no, I've got to get home and return MySpace comments. These same guys that were busting my chops pretty hardcore are calling me today going, `Hey, what's the HTML code for the thing that sends out a bulletin?'" he says with a laugh.

Of course, the echo-chamber of the web also lets Cook's detractors talk back, or at least comment anonymously. Considering just how unavoidable he is now, he understands the backlash (see sidebar).

"The backlash, well, there are so many angles we could talk about, in terms of the hows and whys, I've got a bunch of hypotheses. Everybody has got their own reason to be trying to take my legs out from under me. Most of it I get ... but the thing I've found is that controversy is actually good for business.

"People have written me and said, `I heard that you sucked. People said you're a thief and you did this or that. You kill llamas in your kitchen and drink their blood, but I listened to you and I laughed.' So I'll take the good with the bad."

David Gilmour's Film School Confidential

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Philip Marchand, Books Columnist

(October 26, 2007) It was a low point in the life of novelist
David Gilmour. His 16-year-old son was floundering in high school. His own career as a writer and arts commentator on television – first as film critic for CBC's The Journal, and latterly as host of Gilmour on the Arts for CBC Newsworld – was also floundering.

"This was like a nightmare from which I could not awake," recalls Gilmour, 58, author of
The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son, and a participant in this year's International Festival of Authors. (He appears tonight at 8 in the Brigantine Room, 235 Queens Quay W.)

"I was 50 years old, my publishing house had just dumped me, the bottom had dropped out of my television career, people finally had enough of David Gilmour on the screen – hard as that is to imagine," he says with a laugh.

During this low point, he decided to tell his son Jesse he could drop out of school.

The only condition of this release was that father and son would watch three movies every week – chosen by Gilmour senior – and talk about them.

Gilmour recalls wondering in the depths of his insecurity: "Is this a brilliant decision or another one of those bad choices that got me where I am today?"

Brilliant or not, the move worked. Jesse, who returned to school after three years, is in fine shape.

"The great thing with my son was that there was nothing wrong with him," Gilmour says. "He's a bright, beautiful, happy kid who hated school. I couldn't bring myself to look my son in the face and say he was wrong."

Why a course in movies? "He's not athletic, he didn't read, it's the only thing I could do with him." The main item on the agenda was father-and-son contact.

"That's what they all need, to spend time with their fathers," Gilmour says of teenaged boys. "They don't need their mothers any more, they don't need their friends, they need to spend time with an adult male. I felt this kid absorbing adult masculine energy from me. I thought, `If he's not getting it from me, he'll get it from someone less reliable.'"

The narrative of this experiment includes long conversations between Gilmour and his son, which the author maintains are verbatim.

"You spend three years talking with a kid and you know his voice," Gilmour says. "That was the easiest, most effortless part of the book. My recall was complete."

Gilmour's own career got a decided boost when he won the 2005 Governor General's Award for his sixth novel, A Perfect Night to Go to China.

"Justified or not, that award gives you a legitimacy in the eyes of readers," Gilmour says.

Sales of the novel spiked to well over 10,000. (Before the award, the book had sold about 1,500 copies.)

"It was like some huge vindication and I did feel that I would never ask anything more from literature," he says.

"I really felt I was bruised by the reception of my novels for years, and when I won that award I felt the score was even."

Terry McMillan Vents In UNEQ Magazine

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(October 29, 2007) *Author
Terry McMillan is not done chastising the behaviour of her former husband Jonathan Plummer. The latest attack comes via an interview with UNEQ Magazine, which covers the urban gay community.

McMillan and Plummer are going through a nasty divorce in the wake of Plummer's admission that he is gay. Since coming out, Plummer has requested spousal support to maintain his lifestyle and published a tell-all book that fictionalizes his real life friction with McMillan.

In the article, which will post on the magazine's Web site Nov. 15, McMillan discusses never-before-mentioned details of her marriage. Among other things, she accuses Plummer of stealing money from her private bank account.

Explaining her decision to reveal more details to the magazine, McMillan writes in a statement:

"I am not doing this to literally demonize Jonathan Plummer, but he is an evil person to have done the things he has taken pains to achieve.

"I loved him for years and did everything I could to help him evolve.  The reason I told UNEQ Magazine so many of these previously undisclosed details is because he needs to be exposed to the community he is also pimping.  He forgets that gay men have sisters and mothers.  And it is because he doesn't care, just like he doesn't care if he ever goes back to Jamaica.

"It is the main reason he went on television to announce his homosexuality.  He wanted the people in Jamaica to be embarrassed and to hate him so that in the event that our marriage were annulled - his goal was to use the self-generated hatred sure to come from Jamaica so that he would qualify for asylum and be able to stay in this country if  his citizenship were revoked or in jeopardy.  This is how slick he is.  This was the main reason he and his attorney went on 'Good Morning America' and leaked my so-called homophobic insults to the media and included them in court documents.

"But the public had no idea of this goal because the focus was on 'Terry the Homophobic Witch' and not his theft, betrayal or deception.  What was it that he gave me that would make any man think that I should pay him spousal support?  A grown, healthy, gay man who was all of 31 years old?  I did not rent a husband.  He tried to paint me as Mommie Dearest and apparently some people bought it because he did to the gay community what he had been so successfully doing to me for years and that was to play the sympathy 'I'm-the-victim' card. And he is certainly a very high-profile victim who has taken every opportunity he could to take advantage of his so-called victimization.

"What I would really like UNEQ Magazine and members of the gay community to be very cognizant of is what is it that he has done since he came out of the closet that might benefit other gay men (and women) who are afraid to come out?  What kind of platform has he chosen to draw positive attention to this problem?   In every interview he's done, not once does he mention anything he's doing to help other oppressed gay men and women.  Someone should ask him about this instead of always focusing on me.  I've done more and shown more support for the gay community over the years than Jonathan will ever do.

"What is it he's doing besides getting a tell-all book published to draw attention to himself with the hopes of making money and once again all by pimping my fame?  What has he done?  Nothing.   The gay men and women who are still suffering in Jamaica have not benefited one iota because of him.  Quite the contrary.  He gives gay men a bad rep as far as I can see.  But he thought everybody was going to love him unconditionally.  And look at what a spectacle he is making of himself and a mockery of his sexuality, all for his own personal gain.  He could care less about men still in the closet."

OTHER TIDBITS

Châtelaine Editor-In-Chief Resigns, Report Says

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(October 29, 2007) It appears there is more trouble at Rogers Media's family of magazines. Last week, according to a Web report, France Lefebvre resigned as editor-in-chief of the French language edition of Châtelaine, without explanation. A Rogers spokesperson confirmed the resignation, said magazine consultant D.B. Scott. Lefebvre had been on the job less than nine months. Before joining the Rogers empire, she had been editor-in-chief of Coup de Pouce, the French-language companion to Transcontinental's Canadian Living, for eight years. She replaced Lise Ravary, who became editorial director of women's titles at Rogers.  Lefebvre's departure means that both Chatelaines, French and English, are now essentially rudderless. In July, Chatelaine editor Sara Angel resigned after only 13 months on the job, citing undisclosed personal reasons.  Before her arrival, the position had been vacant for almost nine months, following the resignation of Kim Pittaway, who lasted less than two years in the position. Chatelaine, Canada's oldest woman's magazine - it turns 80 next March - recorded 2006 revenues of $56.3-million..  Lefebvre, Ravary and Rogers vice-president and publisher Kerry Mitchell were not available for comment.

::DANCE NEWS::

David Adams, 79: National Ballet's First Male Lead

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

(October 26, 2007) The leading male dancer in the early years of the
National Ballet of Canada, David Adams, has died at the age of 79 following a long illness.

Born in Winnipeg, he trained with Gwyneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, co-founders of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. At 17, he went to London, England, where he joined Sadler's Wells Ballet and then became a soloist with the Metropolitan Ballet, where he danced with Celia Franca.

Adams returned to Canada in 1948 and continued to dance in western Canada and Los Angeles. When Franca came to Canada to found the National Ballet, Adams and his first wife, Lois Smith, were her earliest recruits. Their partnership was central to the company's early success from its beginnings in 1951.

Adams, a fine dancer-actor and athletic performer, also choreographed half a dozen works for the National Ballet. He began to dance with the London Festival Ballet (later the English National Ballet) in 1961-62, where he remained until 1969.

Adams was known for his performances in Swan Lake, Giselle and Coppélia. In his time with the Royal Ballet, from 1970 to 1977, he partnered leading ballerinas of the day, including Margot Fonteyn and Natalia Makarova. Adams returned to Canada to join Alberta Ballet, giving his last performance in 1978, but remained with the company as ballet master.

He also taught ballet in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton, and was named to the Order of Canada in 2004.

Adams, who died in Stony Plain, Alta., was predeceased by younger brother Lawrence, also a National Ballet dancer, in 2003. He leaves wife Meredith, daughter Emily, ex-wife Lois Smith and daughter Janine.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

St. Lucia Hosts Travel Seminars In Canada

Source: St. Lucia Tourist Board

(October 27, 2007) TORONTO, Canada – St. Lucia’s tourism developments, including new luxury accommodations, golfing facilities and attractions, were on show during this month’s Fall Destination Product Seminars, hosted by the St. Lucia Tourist Board’s Canadian office.

St. Lucia’s tourism partners traveled to several cities across Ontario to provide travel agents with updates on the destination’s new product offerings, including brand new inventory, expansions and upgrades. The seminars were especially timely for the Canadian travel trade with newly announced airlift additions making St. Lucia a more viable choice for the Canadian traveler.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Argonauts Put Fans To Sleep

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com -

(October 28, 2007) Maybe the
CFL isn't seeing the upside of the recent hemming and hawing about the prospect of an NFL team coming to Hogtown and obliterating the northland's little league. At least there hasn't been time for moaning and groaning about a product gone bad – about the way a fun-to-watch offensive-focused product has suddenly, in a couple of tough-to-watch seasons, degenerated into a defensive struggle considerably less pleasing to watch than, say, computer-generated horse racing on a Jumbotron.

Yes, we understand Argo faithful is ecstatic about their team's sixth straight win yesterday, even if it was a 16-8 stinker. But yesterday the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the impressive crowd of 40,116 at Rogers Centre was, indeed, reserved for a scoreboard horse race, wherein each of the pixilated ponies represented a section of the stadium. (The purple steed, running for the pride of the 200 Level, won in a photo finish). And woo-freaking-hoo.

As for the guy jockeying the Argos offence, quarterback Michael Bishop, he was abysmal, completing just 10 of his 29 passing attempts for 145 yards.

"I believe we're going to need more offence to win in the playoffs," said Michael Clemons, the Argos coach. "Our team goes as our offence goes. When they play well, we're dominant. ... When they don't play well, we're battling for our lives."

Whatever happened to exciting CFL games in these parts? Yesterday's not-so-thrilling win – a game that saw Toronto overtake the Blue Bombers for first in the East and set up a situation where a win in next week's game at Saskatchewan will give the Argos a bye into the East final – came on the heels of last week's 16-9 win over Montreal, which came a few weeks after they beat Edmonton 18-11. These dead-ball Argos have scored 18 or fewer points eight times in 17 games. They've won just three of those games

Yesterday the score was 4-1 for Winnipeg until there was less than three minutes to go in the first half. And if it wasn't for some enterprising special-teams work by Ray Fontaine, who blocked a punt and forced a fumble that set up both of Toronto's touchdowns, both teams might have posted single-digit tallies for the 60-minute mess. Such is the reality of the CFL these days, especially in Toronto: The star of the game turns out to be an Ottawa-bred worker bee. Forget the offensive fireworks. Enjoy the grunt work.

Bishop said the style of the CFL game has transformed itself "for the better," which underlines that truism that players almost never understand the fan's perspective.

"It's more entertaining as a player. It's more fun trying to beat a good defence," he said. "The fans, they're used to 80-yard one-play drives, big bombs, big plays. But the game is changing. You've got to enjoy what it is."

Not that Bishop enjoyed himself yesterday.

"I played terrible," he said. "You don't want to have games like that, but I've had my games like that.''

Chad Folk, the offensive lineman, said the offence has been dogged by its ineptitude. While the Toronto defence is a loosey-goosey crew, literally bouncing in unison before seemingly every play, the Argos on the weaker side of the ball look tight. No surprise, perhaps, that they had their best moment yesterday when somebody broke the tension.

"(Bishop) came into the huddle at one point and cracked a joke," said Folk. "He brought some levity to the situation, and we went down and scored a touchdown."

Maybe if they miked up the QB and broadcast his one-liners – a little sugar to go with another salty stat line – Argo fans would be getting better value for their day at the horse race.

Big Hit On Broadway

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Sports Reporter

(October 28, 2007) NEW YORK – There's nothing like a successful two-game road trip – with a night out in Manhattan in between – to lighten the mood of an uptight team.

The prospects of the
Toronto Maple Leafs seem so much brighter today after a confidence-building 4-1 win over the New York Rangers last night, moving them over .500 (5-4-2-1) for the first time this season.

They proved they can play team defence and proved they can hold on to a third-period lead. Now, they have to prove they can do it at home.

The Maple Leafs were a far better team against New York – feeding off their 5-1 win Thursday in Pittsburgh – than the shattered squad that left the Air Canada Centre ice last week to a round of boos after losing to Atlanta.

So what happened? Why did they suddenly play so much better?

"I think we're just playing more relaxed," said goalie Vesa Toskala, who recorded his second win in a row and is putting a hammerlock on the No.1 goalie's job. "We've come together as a team, closer.

"It was our first time having dinners and doing stuff together. For me, I got to know the guys better on this trip. That's a big thing."

Another newcomer, Jason Blake, agrees.

"I just think a change of scenery is what we needed," said Blake. "We never had a chance to spend a lot of time together since training camp. Even training camp we didn't. It's good to be on the road."

Whatever the Leafs did in Manhattan on their off-night Friday – "low-key" stuff said Blake – paid off last night.

So much so that head coach Paul Maurice was wishing he could find a way to bottle what he saw and uncork it tomorrow night when the Washington Capitals visit the Air Canada Centre.

What he saw against the Rangers and Penguins was exactly the kind of hockey he wants his team to play, especially when it got down one goal.

Last night, it was Jaromir Jagr who got the Rangers ahead early in the second.

"We weren't happy down one, but we were real comfortable down one," said Maurice. "Instead of forcing things, we just kept playing."

Hal Gill did a marvellous job of stopping Jagr the rest of the way. His strong one-on-one coverage and chip outs to clear the zone seemed to inspire the rest of the defenders to do the same.

"That's the game we have to play at home, a simple game," said Maurice. "We don't have to feel we have to be up 2-0 in the first period to be playing well.

"You have to play a smart game, you have to make the right decisions. I have felt we forced a lot of things and chased a lot of things at home because we're all caught up and frustrated."

There was no frustration, no display of nerves. The commitment to defence helped create some turnovers and the Leafs came to life in the second half of the second period with three goals. The forecheck got going and paid off when Pavel Kubina's shot from the point through traffic beat Henrik Lundqvist.

Gill pitched in with a risky pinch at the blue line that turned into John Pohl's first goal of the season and Nik Antropov got his eighth, converting Tomas Kaberle's pass with a tip-in from the edge of the crease. Chad Kilger finished the Rangers off with an empty-netter.

The Leafs, who've blown three two-goal leads this month, were up 3-1 to start the third but the confidence Toskala is beginning to exude seemed contagious. Again the Leafs were outshot, 33-23, but Toskala held the fort.

"You get that feeling from the bench and you've all seen it, when a guy is in a little bit of a groove and he feels good, even those big scrums that were coming at him in the end, the feeling was he was going to stop it, he was going to make the save," said Maurice.

::FITNESS NEWS::

Can Express Workouts Work for You?

By Michele Batz, M.S., eDiets Contributor

You’ve all seen them, the 30-minute workouts practically at every corner of our nation! The claims and hype on television that you can get the results you desire in 30 minutes, three times a week. But, come on, does it really work?

You bet it does! Especially for the beginning exerciser or the individual who hasn’t worked out in a very long time. Let me explain: If you are new to exercise, I know those traditional gyms or recreation centers can be very intimidating. Places like Curves and just-for-men exercise gyms offer the client a safe, efficient and effective workout for men and women of all ages and fitness levels in one convenient location. When the 30-minute gyms are located in your own neighborhood, you will have developed the discipline to workout three times a week or more. Why does it work? Because it’s there!

Science has proven the 30-minute workout is effective, and you will see results with the hydraulic resistance machines, which incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching for a complete workout. Researchers from the Baylor University Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory, led by Dr. Richard Kreider, Ph.D., FACSM, found that during the 30-minute workouts, women and men averaged about 65 percent of their heart rate maximum -- plenty to improve cardiovascular fitness, but not so strenuous as to discourage women and men from coming back. They also increased muscular strength.

Depending on your fitness level, these 30-minute workouts can burn 164 calories to 522 calories per 30 minutes. It varies with each individual. The Baylor studies also found that sedentary and overweight women who followed the workouts for a period of 14 weeks raised their resting metabolic rate by as much as 400 kcals/day. They reduced their weight by an average of 14 pounds and lost an average of two inches from their hips and three inches from their waists while showing a 20 to 30-percent improvement in strength and a 15-percent increase in aerobic capacity.

Those numbers are impressive, and I salute these franchises that are reaching multitudes of men and women to get out and move it!

But… (there is always another side) if you are in shape and have been working out, these 30-minute programs will not enhance your present workouts. The routine of going to the same 12 machines and jogging in place after each resistance machine, will not light you up inside. You need a challenge in your workout. If you are looking to enter your first 10k race or a triathlon, get the extra help you need from a personal trainer or a program that is geared higher for your present fitness level.

The 30-minute workout will work for you if haven’t exercised ever in your life or you have been sedentary for a period of years. It will rev up your metabolism and allow you to eat (with guidance) a variety of foods. By combining a healthful diet and your new 30-minute exercising, you can achieve permanent weight loss.

All it takes is 30 minutes a day, three times a week to improve your quality of life, so stop by your local 30 minute workout facility to find out more.

Good luck to you and your new way of life!

::MOTIVATION::

Motivational Note - What Has You?

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Willie Jolley, Host of the “Willie Jolley Weekend Show” on XM 169 –The Power!

Everyday is a brand new day, and a brand new opportunity to make your dreams come true. Yet in order to take full advantage of that day and to make those dreams come true you must first have a dream. You’ve got to have dream! You must have a dream, a goal to go after, not just a resolution that you make the first of January and forget by the fifteenth of January, but also a dream that drives you to keep going and drives you to achieve it. Some one once said, “A resolution is something you have, but a dream is something that has you!”  I encourage you to work on your goals and your dreams TODAY!  Don’t wait because everyday is precious and the sooner you get started the sooner you can start to actually Live Your Dreams!