November 8, 2007
Well, I saw snowflakes in downtown Toronto this week - some of you even saw it accumulated on your streets! You can almost smell it in the air. Winter is almost here.
I'll have exciting news about a Christmas concert next week so stay tuned for that as it is one not to be missed! You'll love it - trust me! As well next week, there will be a special CD giveaway so be on alert.
Once again, there is plenty to read below so have a scroll and a read.
At MTV Europe
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Paul Casciato, Reuters
(November 02, 2007) MUNICH — Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne stole the thunder from U.S. rival Justin Timberlake by taking two top prizes at the MTV Europe Music Awards on Thursday.
The 23-year-old won Most Addictive Track for “Girlfriend” and the coveted Solo Artist of 2007 category while Timberlake, who dominated the event in 2006 and was the most nominated artist in 2007, came away empty-handed.
Underlining a good night for Canada, Album of the Year went to Nelly Furtado for “Loose” which has sold around seven million copies to date.
Britain's Amy Winehouse collected the Artists' Choice award but her live performance of “Back to Black” at the packed Olympia Halle in Germany will have done little to allay concerns after drug-related problems.
She accepted her award with a brief “Thanks” before walking off stage. Minutes later she stumbled through her song with a thin, wailing voice instead of the rich growl that has won her so many fans.
Winehouse appeared to have trouble remembering the words to her own song, her dancing was stilted and out of step and she was unsteady on her feet.
By contrast compatriot Pete Doherty, in the headlines for his self-confessed drug addiction and affair with supermodel Kate Moss, led the Babyshambles in a haunting rendition of “Delivery”.
Asked what was behind this apparent change, he told Reuters: “Yeah, it's all different now. I don't know ... God, and melody.”
Munich music fan Ina Rousseau and her friend Ana Jordan particularly liked Doherty's performance. “He was here. He was singing and not falling down,” said Jordan, 26.
The Foo Fighters kicked off the show, one of the music industry's biggest nights outside the United States, with a thrashing medley comprising their new single “The Pretender.”
They also wove in a short musical homage to the Sex Pistols' classic track “God Save the Queen.”
Lavigne bounced through a burlesque performance of “Hot” while Mika brought the crowd to its feet with “Grace Kelly.”
30 Seconds to Mars triumphed in the Rock Out category and Linkin Park took home the award for Band of 2007.
MTV said over 50 million votes were cast across Europe, with the public deciding most of the main awards for the first time.
The Video Star prize went to Justice for the second year in a row for “D.A.N.C.E,” beating out competition from acts including Kanye West.
In Copenhagen last year, the U.S. rap star rushed on stage when Justice beat out his video and argued forcefully that he should have been awarded the prize.
The 2007 event was hosted by U.S. rapper Snoop Dogg, who appeared in several costumes during the night, including traditional German lederhosen, a long fur coat and even a kilt.
There were minor hiccups along the way, including when he got a band's country of origin wrong. And when he asked Turkish band Yakup how badly they wanted to play on the stage, one of its members stood up and removed his trousers.
“That's beautiful in your own world,” Snoop Dogg quipped.
Celine Dion: The
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Celia Sankar, Associated Press
(November 05, 2007) MONTE CARLO, MONACO — Canadian singer Céline Dion and R&B queen Patti LaBelle were honoured at the World Music Awards for their outstanding careers, while British newcomer Mika took home a clutch of prizes.
Dion, who has sold 200 million albums worldwide, received the highest accolade — the Legend Award — at the star-studded ceremony in Monaco on Sunday. In presenting the honour, the tiny principality's Prince Albert said Dion's voice “soothes the world's hearts and creates smiles of love across the face of the world.”
Recalling her start as the youngest performer among 14 musical siblings, Dion dedicated the award to her family.
“Every time I go on stage, it's all of them going on stage with me,” she said in her acceptance speech in English and French.
Dion then performed “Taking Chances,” the first single from her forthcoming album of the same name, slated for release later this month.
The 39-year-old diva from Quebec already holds a World Music Awards prize for the world's best-selling female artist of all time. She won the so-called Diamond Award in 2004.
Canada's Avril Lavigne received awards for best-selling pop/rock female artist and best-selling Canadian artist.
The show paid tribute to 63-year-old LaBelle for her enduring contribution to R&B. LaBelle, whose career stretches back to the 1950s, had the entire audience, including the Prince, on their feet dancing to a rendition of “Lady Marmalade.”
“I love this show because it unites the world with music; we need peace in the world,” LaBelle said.
British pop star Mika was the big winner of the night, capturing awards for best-selling new artist, best-selling male entertainer, best-selling pop/rock artist and best-selling British artist. Struck down by laryngitis, he was unable to sing his runaway debut hit “Grace Kelly,” which makes reference to Prince Albert's mother, the Hollywood actress who became princess of Monaco upon her marriage in 1956.
Hip hop artist Akon, who has been riding high on world charts, picked up prizes for best-selling R&B male artist, best-selling African Artist and best-selling Internet artist.
“Your are the witnesses to seeing me receive any kind of award for music for the first time in my life,” the Senegalese-American told the audience, lamenting having been skipped over for all previous honours for which he has been in contention.
Pop sensation Rihanna, a native of Barbados, was named entertainer of the year, as well as best-selling pop female artist.
Also taking the stage and receiving awards were Mexican rock band Mana (best-selling Latin group), Egyptian singer Amr Diab (best-selling Middle Eastern artist), Laura Pausini (best-selling Italian artist) and Cascada (best-selling German artist).
Julian McMahon, star of the U.S. television series “Nip/Tuck,” hosted the event.
Award winners were named based on worldwide album sales, as certified by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which comprises some 1,400 record companies in 75 countries.
The show was taped and will be broadcast later in 160 countries. It is expected to reach approximately one billion viewers.
After three years of roaming, the annual show returned to Monte Carlo, where it had been staged since its creation in 1989. The awards were broadcast live from Las Vegas in 2004, then moved Los Angeles in 2005 and London in 2006.
Proceeds from a black-tie banquet and auction before the awards are to go toward building a hospital in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan.
'Souled Out' Session
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(November 7, 2007) *You may never have heard of Kevin L, but get ready for an earful. Kevin L is not only a new artist, but a new activist. Performing what he calls R&P music - Rap & Praise, Kevin L is impassioned about spreading his message of empowerment and values.
The Ohio native took some time to talk with EUR's Lee Bailey about two projects that he's very proud of - his new CD and his work with the non-profit organization the H13 Project.
“God just gave me an opportunity to live again and to bring a positive message. He gave me a song called ‘You Got Somebody’ and he gave me a project called the H13 Project, which is a non-profit organization [that] is making peace popular,” he said.
Making peace popular is the slogan the 30-something artist said again and again, explaining that making peace popular is a direct offence against the violent images of black males in particular that are saturating the media.
“We have a whole nation out there that’s speaking the language of gangster-ism and thug-ism, and it’s desensitizing murder; it’s desensitizing the relationship between men and women,” he said. “And it’s making people think that the real way up out of the ghetto is the dope game with this whole hustle mentality – and it’s not. What it’s doing is making it that 51% of black males are in prison.”
The H13 Project is currently campaigning in metropolitan areas with peace rallies. Kevin and company have partnered with Al Sharpton during a few of his crusades to get the H13 brand to it’s demographic of young African Americans, along with other names like Dionne Warwick and publicist/activist Angelo Ellerbee. The organization’s current objective, Kevin said, is to continue doing peace rallies; to go into schools and educate and stimulate and send the message that we have the opportunity to make a better world.
The name of the organization comes from the book of Hebrews, chapter 13 in the bible, which reads: “Let brotherly love continue, and do not forget to entertain strangers. For by doing so, some have entertained strangers unaware.”
“In other words, you never know who you’re talking to, so let your first words be of love. Take this mean-mug look off your face,” Kevin explained.
“All across the country we have met with governors and mayors from DC to Philadelphia to Minneapolis where we’ve gone in, rolled out our campaign of making peace popular and showing the kids that we can be successful and that it matters what we say in our lyrics, and that we can speak up for something possible.”
Kevin reflected on his own tribulations, speaking from a place that the youngsters, enthralled with gangster images and gangster rap might understand, and that’s the premise of his music.
“I’m an uncle to five crack babies. And I’ve had my own bout with addiction – from alcohol and so forth,” Kevin said. “We’ve been through so much in our family and now, God had given us a chance to live and to live in a way that we can utilize our talents.”
The musician isn’t very far from a famous story of tackling adversity with talent. He is the stepson of legendary singer Ray Charles, who also overcame an addicti*on.
“God blessed us. God has given us a certain talent to entertain. Many things that we may have chosen to take for granted, God has found a way for us both – my sister and I – to preserve within [us] and allowed us to come out and to bring this type of message to this magnitude,” he said and continued, “And then to have Ray Charles as a stepfather – growing up around him and my sister’s music, it just seemed natural that I would sing a little bit.”
His other current project is the promotion of his debut CD “Souled Out.”
“It’s a mixture of hip-hop, R&B, and gospel. The fact [is] that some of the melodies, if you heard them, you wouldn’t necessarily know that it was a gospel song unless you heard the lyrical content.”
He described the disc as something that could work well in church, but that the album isn’t really for preaching to the choir.
“This is for the streets. This is for the people that aren’t in the church. We’re coming beyond the walls of the church. It’s a real sound from one man that survived to bring a message like this. God didn’t let me live for no reason. He wanted me to deliver the message,” he said.
Kevin called some of the lyrics “aggressive, but real.” In addition to spreading the Word, the messages in the songs focus on how black images bombarding the youth glamorize violence and the street and gangster mentality.
“[It] sets a tone of what’s hot,” he said, “but all we’re saying is, ‘That ain’t hot anymore, to the tune of 51% of us going to prison. We’re creating images by utilizing people that you normally wouldn’t see in a gospel setting and we’re using music that you normally wouldn’t hear in a [street] setting.”
For more on Kevin L and his “R&P” disc on BK Music, check out www.souledoutcd.com.
For more on the H13 Project, go to www.h13project.com.
Pioneer Beaten To Death
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(November 01, 2007) NEW YORK – Linda Stein, a pioneer in New York's punk music scene who later became known as a real estate "broker to the stars," was beaten to death inside her Manhattan apartment, the medical examiner ruled.
Stein's daughter found her body Tuesday night face down in the living room of the Upper East Side apartment, where she lived alone. There were no signs of a break-in or robbery, and police said they had no motive or suspects.
An autopsy found that Stein, 62, died from blows to the head and neck, medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said Wednesday.
Stein was the ex-wife of Seymour Stein, former president of Sire Records, which was the launching pad for the Ramones, Talking Heads and Madonna.
A former schoolteacher, she and Danny Fields co-managed the Ramones during the band's heyday. She is credited with bringing the Ramones to England for their infamous July 4, 1976, concert that helped spark the young British punk scene.
Reached Wednesday by telephone, Fields said Stein had the right temperament for the rough and raunchy world of punk.
"She was very tough, but very loving and generous," he said.
Friends and family were stunned by the news she was a victim of violence, Fields said.
"It was enough dealing with her death," he said. "Now it's a murder.''
After Stein and Fields parted ways with the Ramones in 1980, she eventually launched a real estate career brokering multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartments for rock 'n' roll royalty, including Sting and Billy Joel.
Aside from real estate, "her great joy in life was her first grandchild," a 3-year-old girl, Fields said.
Stein was asked in an interview earlier this year whether managing the Ramones or selling real estate was harder.
"Real estate," she responded. "Firstly, if you manage a band, every time you hear an encore, every time the audience increases, every time your radio increases, it's an upper. With real estate, the only upper is how much you don't owe to Uncle Sam on the check you're getting. There is no high except the money, which is extremely taxable.''
Ex Boy-Band Brothers Back As Duo RyanDan
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Terauds, Music Critic
(November 06, 2007) If Ryan and Dan Kowarsky needed proof that they have grown up as performing artists, it couldn't have come from a more unlikely place.
Not too many years ago, the identical-twin brothers were being mobbed by teenage girls. Now, a month shy of their 28th birthday, they can lay claim to one of the oldest fans on the globe.
"We got this package from a 93-year-old lady," says Ryan during an interview yesterday.
"Inside was this set of false teeth," continues Dan.
Ryan picks up the thread: "There was this note inside that said `I love your music so much that you have to have my teeth.'"
Adds Dan: "There was a picture in the package, too, showing this old lady smiling – with no top teeth."
The boys make faces at the memory. The looks are similar to their mock-horror when reminded of their days as two of the three members of boy-band b4-4. It exploded onto the pop charts in the summer of 1999 and died of boy-band fatigue in 2004. Back then, Ryan and Dan (with fellow vocalist Ohad Einbinder) sported spiky blond hair.
Ryan blushes. "You know, I look at the pictures from that time and think, oh man." He shakes his head.
They've done a lot of growing up.
After their boy-band days, Ryan and Dan returned home to Toronto, where their lawyer father had retired as the head cantor at Beth Tzedek synagogue and been appointed a justice of the peace.
"Our mother had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease," relates Ryan. "We decided that we had to give her something special," continues Dan. "So we decided to record a song."
They chose "The Prayer," a David Foster song that's one of the 13 tracks on RyanDan, their debut album. The adult-contemporary pop compilation hits stores today.
"That song changed everything for us," says Dan. "After we recorded it, we knew what we wanted to do with our life."
They went to England to work with producer Steve Anderson. After recording 50 songs with a 60-piece orchestra, they picked 12 (plus a bonus track) and made their U.K. debut a few weeks ago.
They're now near the top of the British pop charts. Since the record went global, they have sung as far away as the Sydney Opera House.
"We're just trying to make the most of it," adds Dan. He says it feels good to back in Toronto, even just for a day or two. But the twins promise to return in the new year for their first live Canadian concert – with or without gifts of teeth.
Will Downing: 'After Tonight,' Accolades Tomorrow
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
November 5, 2007) *For two decades, Grammy-nominated singer Will Downing has been sharing his voice with fans of solid R&B.
Downing is a master at smooth, jazzy, bluesy combination of genres that have impressively surfed the charts his entire career. The passion the singer puts into his music is a testament to his life attitude.
Just under a year ago, Downing was diagnosed with a muscle debilitating disease called Polymyositis, where he struggled to stand or even raise his arms.
All that withstanding, Downing still continued working on and completed his latest album called “After Tonight,” released October 30th on Peak Records.
“I’m getting a lot better,” he told EUR’s Lee Bailey recently, discussing how the disease just came out of the clear blue.
Polymyositis affects more than 50,000 people. It’s basically an inflammation of several muscles at once and the cause is unknown. Fortunately, as Downing confirmed, people who suffer from Polymyositis can recover, but the important thing is to recognize the signs and prevent the disease.
“Being a hard-headed black male, I didn’t look at it for what it was. I was trying to find every excuse of what it could be. I should’ve gone to the doctor, but I was doing self-diagnosis,” Downing said.
He recalled that he’d seen the early signs of the disease when he suffered from constant fatigue. However, he would blame his tiredness on not getting enough sleep, working too hard, or his hectic tour and travel schedule.
“I’d be on stage and I’d be dog-tired performing. I was making excuses every night,” he said.
Downing even described a moment when he was traveling and he couldn’t even put his computer in the overhead bin because he could not lift it above his head. But the straw that broke the camel’s back for the singer happened one night when he was out with his family. Downing said that he thought he’d drop his wife and daughter off and then find a park, but he didn’t get very far.
“I couldn’t turn the steering wheel. I didn’t have enough strength to turn the steering wheel to park my car,” he said.
That scared him enough to finally seek medical help, and once he went into the doctor’s office, he was taken straight to the hospital and stayed there for three months.
“It takes everything you’ve got and reduces it to nothing. You can’t walk, you can’t move your arms, you can’t do anything. You become totally dependent upon everyone. You can’t comb your hair, brush your teeth – you are totally dependent,” Downing described. “Like most folk in this condition, the first thing you do is ask, ‘Why me?’ Folks blame God and curse at him, as I did. Then you realize you have two options: You can give up or you can fight back. So that’s what you do; fight back.”
Now, Downing said he’s doing just fine although he is still confined to a wheelchair. But while that is a feat in itself, the fact that he worked on his highly impressive new disc while dealing with the disease is even more amazing.
“I did most of the vocals from a wheelchair or a hospital bed,” Downing said. “I’d finished four songs before this happened. Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Two days after I finished the record, my voice started deteriorating.”
You wouldn’t know by listening to it, as critics and fans have already showered the new project with praise.
“My main objective is to put out good music,” Downing said. “I hate when people say, ‘I put this record on, but I skipped over this [song].’ I just wish to put out a consistent album and I guess I can attribute that to the longevity aspect of it. You pretty much know what you’re going to get when you buy one of my records.”
The record, as phenomenal as it’s been called, was reshaped during the recording process. After all, the issues Downing was dealing with at the time certainly warrant some new developments. The singer admitted that there were changes in the concept, ideas, and tone of the album, but said that he was careful not to saturate the disc with his emotive circumstances.
“Lyrically it changed, and in content it changed. Initially we were trying to set up a story, but things turned around when I got sick and songs like ‘God Is So Amazing’ weaved their way into it,” he said. “But I didn’t want it to be too preachy. I wanted to stay away from telling people, ‘Listen to my story. Woe is me.’ So we put together what we think are some great songs.”
“After Tonight” is in stores now. For more on the disc, Downing, and his return to touring, expected Summer 2008, check out www.willdowning.com or http://www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/PKD-30221/.
“I’m doing fine,” he said. “I’ve gone through a lot of rehab and I’ve been working my way back. Fortunately with this disease, you can reasonably get back some sort of normal lifestyle, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Rhodes Scholar Rapper's Choice Is Sanity
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Ricardo Hazell
(November 6, 2007) *Upon meeting Antonio Delgado and talking to him one would think that he's just your run of the mill Oxford and Harvard Law School graduate.
But when he gets into his alter ego mode we come to witness the phenomenon that is AD the Voice.
We had no idea who this guy was at first, but after interviewing this young man with a vision, our Lee Bailey was glad he took the time out to speak with AD.
First things first though, a Harvard educated, Rhodes Scholar rapper? We don't know how they'll go about marketing that.
"I graduated from Colgate with a degree in Philosophy and Political Science," Delgado said. "Colgate isn't technically an Ivy League school, but it is a school held in very high regard on the East Coast. I ended up going to Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. After that I returned to the states and studied law at Harvard."
We appreciate him explaining the ins and outs of his involvement with those great institutions, but the question remains ... a rapper? AD didn't blink when he said his educational background actually prepared him for his career as a rapper rather than vice versa.
"I would say it has prepared me. I didn't go to these institutions with the idea that I was going to become a rapper. I found myself in this position after I had acquired enough information about the world we live in, and of Hip-Hop, to say 'You know what? I can offer a different narrative.' With the passion that I have for this music and this culture, why can't I just take the two worlds and meld them together. For me, who and what I am is very much Hip-Hop."
A different narrative indeed. As they say, variety is the spice of life. But a quick survey of recent rap releases and one would think the music industry didn't get that particular memo. Be that as it may, AD the Voice feels it's his time. His background and education should have nothing to do with his message.
"I am me," he continued. "I'm a brother that's passionate about what I believe in. Passion and true commitment to who you are really transcends where you're from and what you've experienced and class and so forth. I know a lot of cats in the hood that I could look at and see they're fake. There's also cats that grew up with a silver spoon in their mouths, but are the realest of the real. It's just a matter of how you're coming at me. If I look at you as a man, no matter what you say, if I see you're not about something that's purposeful I'm going to move on. So, what I'm hoping is that when cats hear me they could look past my credentials. Or past the fact that I've never been shot or haven't been to jail. Whatever you think, just hear me. Feel that passion that I'm coming with and you can't tell me that you won't feel something on some fundamentally human level."
His goals are high-minded to say the least. The demographic that needs to hear his message of positivity the most may be the demographic that's least likely to pick up his album. But Delgado tells EURweb he is not worried. The majority of Hip-Hop's history has been positive and he has that positive, revolutionary history on his side.
"The demo that I'm going for is not about age, not about race. It's anybody who wants to feel empowered. Who wants to hear music that speaks to their soul with a message that hasn't been heard for some time. I know it's hard to associate that with Hip-Hop given what is heard on the radio today. But, you see, you can't look at Hip-Hop as it is today. You have to extend that lens back through the past to Hip-Hop's origins. Where it came from and what it came out of. You can't come out of that place, the South Bronx, and be where you are today if you don't have a warrior's spirit. You can't come up out of that if you're not spitting something other than what you're wearing, what you're riding on. You had to have really stood for something.
"Hip-Hop came from complete rejection and marginalization," Delgado reasoned. "We were told to sit down, shut up and just disappear. Reaganomics? That whole era? That's what Hip-Hop grew out of. Now look where it is? So, if you know of that type of history and the power we have inside of us then you're going feel that history and power when I rhyme."
A man with a plan for positive change is what AD the Voice is, but what good is a plan if no one is following the blueprint?
"This is something that I struggle with everyday. I'm not going to sit and lie to myself given the current climate today. I just feel it's a matter of faith and a matter of struggle and perseverance. We're in a period of time where people are starving (for this). You can only go so low. There's has to be a point where you hit rock bottom and you've gotta start coming back up."
People can only go so low. A rather depressing sentence when one takes into consideration the fact that no one knows where the bottom of Hip-Hop's gangster-cultural barrel lies. But AD has faith in the positive that lies in the hearts of the people rather than fear for the rap's current lowest common denominator mentality.
"They've been kind of force fed music by the label heads. The label heads don't want to take chances with (positive) music and they know that what sells is the stereotype. It's a proven commodity so they just keep feeding it to us. But I think, after a while, people are going to stop buying this. And, given where we are politically, with the elections coming up, I've just got a feeling that the tone of the culture in this country is going to shift. There's going to be a little bit more of a serious tone to what we're talking about whether it's on the radio stations or on the Internet. I think there's going to be a slow shift, and it might not last that long, but I believe it'll be long enough for someone like me to get in there."
For the a lot of people's sake and the moral sanity of our children we hope he's right. Meanwhile, while we wait for Hip-Hop's long awaited political and social reawakening, there are alternatives. Like AD the Voice's new release "Painfully Free," released on his co-owned imprint: Statik Records.
Need more information? Well, you know the brother's got a myspace page, right? Hit him up at www.myspace.com/adthevoice. He's definitely worth a listen, for rap sanity's sake.
Common: Infinite Possibilities
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Raegan L. Burden, The Robertson Treatment: Volume 10, Edition 17
(November 1, 2007) Common. Simply mention this name in the midst of true hip-hop connoisseurs, and no further explanation is needed. Even so, Hollywood is just now discovering what we've known for some time - the brother is just naturally gifted! In fact, 2007 has been an exceptional year for his diverse talents.
He made his feature film debut in Smokin' Aces, released his seventh CD, Finding Forever, (which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts), and recently announced the launch of his philanthropic outlet, the Common Ground Foundation.
With this, his latest role in American Gangster, Common is poised for even more spotlight.
Were I profiling another artist in his coveted position, I might expect to encounter some level of haughty, self-importance. However, on this rainy, overcast Friday afternoon in New York City - just hours away from the movie's premiere at the Apollo Theatre - no conceit is present.
It is quite the opposite! As he casually sits in a Manhattan hotel suite, we both quietly take in the skyline view of the city. A sight so breathtaking, not even fog can damper it. Yet, as I watch him smile, laugh, and listen to his pensive words, I observe a man humbled by the journey his artistry has taken him on.
An unpretentious soul, he is confident that opportunities will meet him as he continues the work of self-discovery.
Q: The first thing I want to know is how you were introduced to this particular role?
A: My agent sent me the script and I was like "Man, this is a movie with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe? Aw man, I got to be in this!" And after I read it, I was like, "This movie is really good!" Then, they told me Ridley Scott was going to direct it and I said - "Man, I got to be in it!" And I knew all the actors they were trying to go out for…going for the best, the cream of the crop. And they achieved that. They got Ruby Dee in it, Chiwetel (Ejiofor), Idris (Elba), Cuba (Gooding, Jr.)…just Denzel and Russell Crowe was enough for me! All of that just made it worthwhile, and made me really hungry to do it.
Q: I found your character, Turner Lucas, to be quite complex. He's all at once a dad (to Stevie Lucas - T.I.'s character), a brother (to Frank Lucas), a son, and on the opposite side of the law. Did that complexity attract you?
A: Well, I didn't get into that until I was given the role - I really just wanted to be in the movie! (laughter)
Q: Oh, so you could've been a newspaper boy and said - 'alright'!
A: Well, I wasn't going to play myself! (laughter) You know, I tried out for two other roles in this movie.
Q: Really? Which two?
A: I tried out for Tango, Idris Elba's character. Then, I tried out for Nate, the cousin in the army (played by Roger Smith), but I was too young for that role. I was just blessed to land the role that I did. And I was grateful…I knew it going to be a lesson. Just to be on the set with Denzel and to be taking direction from Ridley Scott, and the cast and crew. It was a blessing.
Q: Are you happy with the role you were offered, as opposed to the other two?
A: Yeah, I am. I feel like everything happened the way it was supposed to. And even though I didn't have as much dialogue, I was around to absorb what I needed to.
Q: You know, this is my favourite type of film - because there's no way to talk about Frank in one dimension. You can't just make him the villain, and you just can't make him the saint. In reality, nobody is. So what kinds of messages, do you think, are being communicated? I believe that every film does that in its own way.
A: I think what you just expressed is one of the truest things…and one of things I believe is most attractive about this movie. That's what makes it so realistic. Because a saint isn't only a saint, and a drug dealer is not only a drug dealer. You may just deal drugs, but you may be working and taking care of your family, doing things like going to church like Denzel's character Frank Lucas was, and giving back to the community. There isn't just one dimension to anybody. We have good elements of us and bad elements - everybody. It wasn't just black or white - it was like man, we just people! Even the most powerful monk is still a work in progress, and so is the biggest murderer.
Q. As it pertains to the movie, do you think that Frank should be revered or reviled? I found people on both sides of the fence.
A. To be honest, I think you could feel both for him. I think he could be revered in a way that his life is an example. The way he's able to tell his story, he wants to better people. The fact that he offered his story is not for self-glory. He's giving this example so people can learn from it. I think he should be more revered than reviled. Him just telling this story, now, after living through it, is a sign that he was trying to do some good.
Q. Did you always know you were full of these artistic gifts, or was it "one gift leads to another." Meaning, as you discovered one level of yourself, you found that you embodied more talents that could be expressed and transitioned into another forum?
A. Yeah, I think it was more discovering the gifts. I grew up wanting to play basketball, and then I got into music and then it was…a discovery that my writing was good, and then I just kept fulfilling it! Then I discovered that I could act and wanted to act, and strived to be a good actor. Really be the character, to become someone else - and not be Common or Rashid. So it was a discovery. And, I'm looking to discover new things. To me, that's what life is about - learning and teaching.
Q. Since most people know you from the music end, do you find acting to be another viable way for you to express yourself, as you mature?
A. It's definitely a beautiful way for me to express myself…in a way that I really love and feel passionate about. And it's another way to be an artist. Another way to expand and see myself infinitely. With acting, you can take on roles until you're 75! And as a musician, I want to be able to be around until I'm 75!
Q. You've had an incredible year. How are you able to balance "Common the businessman" from "Common the man"? Because they are two separate people.
A. Well, I have to take the "man" into every piece of business that I do. I have to be able to be myself even when I'm doing business. It's been a hard battle as far as what you say, "Common the man," getting to do leisurely things. I like to go to the movies and bowling. I like spending time with my daughter. And, I like going to the beach! (laughter, smiles). However, I don't have as much time to do that. But, I like working too. So I've been feeding that (work) side of me, and I will make the time to relax and just go to the beach!
Q. My last question - with the Common Ground Foundation, you've gathered some of the most spirited educators, community leaders, and philanthropists. People from Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West to Harry Belafonte. What is your major goal with this new endeavour?
A. Activism. I hope to gain the minds and the experiences of the youth, so I can provide ways to help them better themselves. I want to get their attention and give them resources…so they can go out and build their families, build their communities, and make the world better. I'm hoping to gain their attention more than anything. Because, I'm not doing this for selfish reasons. I really care about these kids out here; I care about people out here. That's what it's all about.
Yes, Common. I think many of us would agree - the possibilities are indeed endless.
Guitar God, Mortal Man
Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Clapton: The Autobiography
by Eric Clapton
Broadway, 343 pages, $34
(November 04, 2007) It's about time that "God" wrote his own biography.
With a reported $6.4 million incentive to write it, the life story of rock guitarist Eric Clapton is packed with all the elements that demand Hollywood studio attention: Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, drink, addiction, scandal, recovery, tragedy, adversity, triumph and a legendary love triangle.
Clapton accounts for his 62 years on this planet, warts and all, with unreserved candour. Considering that the co-founder of such seminal bands as Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & The Dominos – plus his own solo success with such hits as "I Shot the Sheriff," "Tears in Heaven," "Lay Down Sally" and "Bad Love" – has previously remained staunchly private throughout his 40-year-plus career, this is no small development.
How private has Clapton been? When he ended his dalliance with fellow rocker Sheryl Crow – one that he curiously doesn't address in Clapton: The Autobiography –the two issued a joint release announcing the separation to a public that was unaware they'd begun one in the first place.
Clapton lets it all hang out by the fourth paragraph, when he discovers his illegitimacy: "One day I heard one of my aunties ask, `Have you heard from his mum?' and the truth dawned on me, that when Uncle Adrian jokingly called me a little bastard, he was telling the truth."
At 7, Clapton discovered that the people he thought were his parents were actually his grandparents; his brother was his uncle and his sister Pat – who left the home when Eric was 2 – was actually his mother. She had become pregnant in 1944 at the age of 15 through an affair with a Canadian airman, secretly giving birth to a son in a back room of the house.
Clapton says this discovery "traumatized" his young self and led to a life plagued by insecurity and guilt. An incident at school when he was 9 also clouded his sexual future.
"From that point on I tended to associate sex with punishment, shame and embarrassment, feelings that coloured my sexual life for years."
Then, that same year, his mother came back into his life – married to another Canadian soldier and towing two more children – and flatly rejected him again, further crushing the poor kid's soul.
Clapton found childhood escapes in sketching, fishing and eventually music. His "thunderbolt" awakening occurred when he heard Chuck Berry's "Memphis Tennessee" and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee's "Whooping and Hollering."
By the time he reached 16, Clapton writes, he was "quite proficient as a player," learning the fingerpicking techniques of Delta blues legends Big Bill Broonzy and Jimmy Reed.
By 1963, Clapton was a member of the Yardbirds and touring the world. He jumped ship to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, where he awed audiences with his greased lightning fingers. "Clapton is God" graffiti began sprouting up around London.
After the Bluesbreakers came super groups Cream and Blind Faith, a short-term supporting role with Delaney and Bonnie, then Derek & the Dominos, each one further entrenching Clapton with the stature of a rock and guitar icon. With the accolades came the spoils: Money, fame and high-profile affairs with singers and models.
But no female captivated Clapton so completely as Pattie Boyd, who was married to Beatle George Harrison, one of his best pals.
"I had never met a woman who was so complete, and I was overwhelmed," confessed Clapton. It would be six years before Boyd, who inspired her men to write such anthems as "Something" (Harrison) and "Layla," "Bell-Bottom Blues" and "Wonderful Tonight" (Clapton), agreed to divorce Harrison and marry Clapton.
The book also meticulously covers Clapton's addictions to heroin and alcohol – he blames booze for the obliteration of his marriage to Boyd – and his recovery, plus a few tragedies including the painful loss of his 4-year-old son Conor, for whom he wrote "Tears In Heaven."
Today Clapton is clean, sober and a father of four –including three children with his third and current wife, Melia. He's put his demons behind him at last.
Nick Krewen is a Toronto writer and editor.
CBC Radio Chief Quits, Citing ‘Midlife Redesign'
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon
(November 03, 2007) In a surprise move, the head of CBC English radio, who championed the public broadcaster's re-emphasis on regional and local news, announced she is retiring after five years.
A major force in Canadian radio, Jane Chalmers said Friday she is simply tired and felt it was time for her to leave the hectic job. In a note to CBC staff, she called her decision a “major midlife redesign,” prompted by the recent deaths of her mother, an aunt and a close fellow executive at CBC Radio.
She is also the first of the top executives in charge of radio and TV during the 2005 lockout to leave. Insiders typically painted her as the most sympathetic manager in the upper echelon during the labour dispute and one who felt the clash took a heavy personal toll.
“The job has always come first, and then you start doing some reflection about what does your own life mean and about your own priorities,” Ms. Chalmers, 53, said in an interview Friday. “I've had a great run at the CBC. I love the CBC. Radio is doing very well, but I personally need more balance and a re-look at my life.”
She will continue in her position until the end of December. She is leaving her position at a time when CBC English radio is widely seen as the one of the broadcaster's strongest pillars. As CBC president Robert Rabinovitch noted in a staff message Friday, Radio One's morning shows are in the top three in most local markets, and audience shares are reaching record levels.
However, Radio Two is still settling into a major overhaul of its programming, and the broadcaster remains in the throes of a wholesale return to local news throughout all its divisions. Ms. Chalmers is widely credited by industry insiders as being a major force back into local programming.
The Sadies' Homecoming Season
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(November 01, 2007) "From (The Mekons') Jon Langford I learned: Get the money and don't leave anything behind," Dallas Good of The Sadies says, yawning into his tea.
It's nearly 6 o'clock on a dull and rainy October afternoon. He's hunched over a cup in the back room of Alternative Grounds, an aromatic, rustic coffee house in Toronto's west end, just around the corner from his apartment. He hasn't been home for a couple of months. His long black forelocks roll across his eyes and a two-day fuzz crowds his jowls. Good is fighting off the sleep he has held at bay for 5,000 rugged van kilometres, from San Francisco to Vancouver and across the mountains and plains to Winnipeg.
This is a rare gigless day in a relentless performance schedule that has earned The Sadies big points as one of the hardest working bands in the business. They've been promoting their new studio album, New Seasons, and their latest evolution in sound.
Dallas Good and his guitar-thrashing brother Travis and their long-time musical compadres, drummer Mike Belitsky and stand-up bassist Sean Dean, will be whipping up their distinctive brand of cinematic cowpunk and psychedelic surfer country rock for Toronto devotees again soon enough – at Lee's Palace tomorrow and The Horseshoe Saturday.
For now, Dallas Good's mind is still on the road as he recounts the lessons learned from numerous artists he and the band have performed with and admired over the past 10 or 12 years.
"From Neko Case I learned to be patient, to come to terms with the waiting process," he mutters. "Ronnie Hawkins taught me the big time's just around the corner. From my mother and father I learned never to break two laws at one time ... " There are other lessons he has learned, he says, particularly about the process that yielded The Sadies' fourth studio album, New Seasons, released earlier this month in the U.S. on the Yep Roc label, and in Canada by Outside Music. Produced in Spain and Blue Rodeo's Danforth Ave. studio by Gary Louris of The Jayhawks, the album provides evidence of substantial growth in songwriting, confidence, singing and production techniques.
While the characteristic swirling guitar twang and grind are still at the core – along with Belitsky's powerful drumming and the visceral thwack of Dean's fingers on the slap bass's spine – there are more complete songs on this Sadies effort than instrumentals, and a lot more vocal harmony work, thanks to Louris's insistence that the brothers Good step up to the microphone instead of working their peculiar magic back in the line on their trademark Gretsch Tennessean and Fender Telecaster guitars.
"I'd be the last person on Earth to know if this is progress," Dallas says. "Everything we do sounds good to me. We do what we do ... I leave it up to others to put it in perspective."
He does concede that over the past two years, while the band wrote and recorded the instrumental soundtrack for Canadian documentary-maker Ron Mann's Tales Of The Rat Fink (the wildly inventive biography of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, who made an impact on mid-20th century culture with his customized cars, "monster" T-shirts and an animated rodent), and then recorded and mixed their In Concert Volume 1 album, "we've been behind the console a lot more, instead of in front of the microphone."
"We've moved from documentation to experimentation. Our sound hasn't changed, but the process has. We've been doing this for 10 years – I'd like to think we've picked up a few tricks."
Earlier in the day, drummer Belitsky had shared that The Sadies are stepping up their Canadian schedule now that they have a way of reaching home audiences with their recordings, previously available only as imports.
However, while the quartet has developed its own distinct culture after 10 years on the road, their musical tastes vary wildly, he says.
"We never listen to music together ... we travel with iPods, because it's no use inflicting MC5 on someone who's in a George Jones mood, or Johnny Cash if someone else wants The Nuggets."
Belitsky's own primal influences are 1960s and '70s California country rockers The Byrds, Gram Parsons, The Dillards and Gene Clark ... "and psychedelia and punk – that's what we all have in common. It was the easiest music to play when we were starting out."
New Seasons is a long way from where The Sadies began, but even Belitsky is hard-pressed to define how The Sadies have evolved over the years.
"We've never tried to come up with a new sound. I think that's just about impossible – everything's been done, everything sounds like something else if you take it apart. That's never been our concern.
"But if there's something different about New Seasons, I think that it's because this is a much more collaborative effort. We all worked on these songs before and during the recording, and everyone in the band had a hand in shaping the songs – Gary Louris as well."
For his part, Dallas, an avid collector of vintage country and rock 'n' roll vinyl, noticed a change in productivity "when we dropped bourbon from our rider."
"There's a comfort level now we've never had in the past, a sense that the struggle is not in vain.
"We live in a rolling cage. It's been that way for 10 years. We enjoy each other's company. We enjoy the music we make. We respect each other's space. I guess that's all you can ask for."
South Asia's Bono Comes To
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Staff Reporter
(November 02, 2007) When Salman Ahmad – a.k.a. the Bono of South Asia – performs at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Oslo next month, it will be the zenith of his life's work, combining music with a social message and humanitarian efforts.
So how does a kid, born in Lahore, Pakistan, raised in New York, become arguably the world's most successful Muslim rock musician?
"Actually, I'm writing a book about it," chuckles Ahmad, 43, over the phone from Tappan, N.Y., where he lives with his wife and three sons.
As lead singer of Junoon, with more than 25 million albums sold worldwide, Ahmad performs in Toronto Sunday at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the sold-out Mystical Journey concert.
With stops in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal, and featuring 60 musicians and dancers from various parts of the Muslim world, the concert marks the golden jubilee of His Highness Prince Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.
"It's a showcase for Muslim musicians seeking the divine through their music," says Toronto organizer Sheherazade Hirji. It's also an attempt to build bridges post-9/11 by planting seeds of understanding about Islam, she adds.
That's also Ahmad's mission.
The Urdu and Punjabi singer is the subject of several documentaries: It's My Country Too, a 2005 BBC film about Muslims in the U.S.; a 2003 PBS film, the Rock Star and the Mullahs, and a 2001 VH1 production, Islamabad Rock City, hosted by Susan Sarandon. He's also a UN goodwill ambassador raising awareness of HIV/AIDS on the Indian subcontinent.
Ahmad knew nothing about rock music when he arrived in New York at age 11 but was hooked after seeing Led Zeppelin in concert at Madison Square Garden.
"I saw Jimmy Page onstage with a double-headed guitar with dragons painted on his pants playing `Stairway to Heaven.' I was blown away."
He started a garage band and dreamed of being a musician but went to medical school in Lahore, following his parents' wishes.
A chance meeting with legendary qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at a rehearsal for a charity fundraiser changed his life.
Guitar in hand, Ahmad asked Khan what he should play. "He told me, `Do whatever your heart tells you to do.' It was great personal as well as professional advice," recalls Ahmad.
He went on to a three-year apprenticeship with Khan and formed Junoon (which means passion or obsession) in 1990.
It shot to fame tackling issues such as government corruption, nuclear testing and tensions between Pakistan and India, with music inspired by classical Sufi poets.
"Sufism is about celebrating cultural diversity, tolerance and peace. The Sufis are the anti-Taliban," says Ahmad. "What modern Muslims need to do is talk about Islam from a cultural perspective: the poetry, the music. Otherwise the extremists who strap on bombs and blow themselves (up) get covered in the media and the other side of Islam doesn't have a voice."
Ahmad's music is also influenced by seeing the suffering of the poor at Pakistan's government hospitals during medical school. "I made a mental note that whatever I do through music has to have a social component to it," he says.
Though he finished medical school, he never did tell his parents that he wasn't going to practise medicine.
"I think over the years it dawned upon them that I pulled a fast one," he laughs.
Mel B A Little Bit Of Sugar
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(November 02, 2007) It's been almost a decade since the world last saw the Spice Girls together, but yesterday it only took one of them to drive hundreds of Toronto fans wild.
Melanie Brown, a.k.a. Mel B, a.k.a. Scary Spice, is currently enjoying her highest profile in years as she's hoofing it to rave reviews – three perfect 10s last week – on Dancing With the Stars. There's also the little matter of the sold-out Spice Girls reunion tour, which will hit the Air Canada Centre for two dates (Feb. 3-4). Even she admits to being surprised at the fandemonium surrounding the tour.
"We all were. I mean, when the tickets went on sale, we were all like, `Oh my god, oh my god,'" she says. "London sold out in a ridiculous amount of seconds, but we were all holding our breath to see what happened. It just goes to show that we've got a really good, strong fan base ... and I think we all feel very lucky about that."
Brown was at the Eaton Centre as part of a Virgin Mobile event but was immediately returning home to L.A., as she has to practise two dances for next week. Plus, her fellow Spice Girls arrived this past weekend to rehearse for the tour.
Despite rumours, Brown says there is no behind-the-scenes turmoil among the group. "They just got in (to L.A.), so we're catching up right now. We're all great friends ... it's just nice, we've all got kids, except for Mel C, but (compared to the old days) it's just a more relaxed and mature environment."
Life is hectic for the mother of two (the only thing off limits during this interview was her recent baby drama regarding Eddie Murphy, father of her second child, Angel-Iris). She wakes up, practises for the tour, practises for the TV show and is back at home at 7 p.m. to be with her kids. But she says learning the different routines isn't confusing.
"(While performing) the moves for the tour, I'm with my four friends, and we mess about and it's fun," she explains. "Doing ballroom dancing is very specific, and with Spice Girls I can do my own thing. With ballroom you can't. Plus, with ballroom, you get judged and kicked off. And I'm not going to get kicked off the Spice Tour."
When asked about how the music industry has changed in the 11 years since the Spice Girls dominated the charts, Brown answers frankly, "I don't think we'd come out at all. We did our thing 11 years ago, where we had full creative control, we styled ourselves. I think these days, it's ... slightly different, where you have to answer to a lot more people, whereas we just had to answer to ourselves."
The Spice renaissance really gets underway Nov. 13, when the greatest hits album comes out with two new songs, one of which, "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)," has already leaked all over the Web.
Anthony Hamilton All About 'Me' In 2008
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
November 5, 2007) *Anthony Hamilton, currently active via his work on the "American Gangster" soundtrack, has announced that Feb. 5 will mark the release date of his new solo album, tentatively titled "Me."
He tells Billboard.com that the project will "make a statement" with songs that are "full of life and situations we all go through, the changes of men and women and relationships with God and family and children -- and the political side of Anthony Hamilton that I speak out on in certain situations."
Among his social commentaries are "Home," a soldier's message to his wife that Hamilton co-wrote with his wife, Tarsha McMillan Hamilton, and "Who Left the Gate Open?," which looks at the role of parenting (or lack thereof) in creating "the wild, untamed people ... who raise so much hell in the world."
He tells Billboard: "I always felt my third album was going to be my best one. I don't think I'm going to let myself down or the people down. It's a nice transition; you can just see my growth from the first one and the second one to this one."
Other songs on the album include "Souls on Fire," "Praying For You," "Cool" and "Me." He recently recorded a new song, "Love," and is still working in the studio, but expects to be done by the end of this month and mixing and mastering in December.
Also, Hamilton recently dueted with Keyshia Cole on "Losing You," which he co-wrote for her new album, "Just Like You"; with country singer Josh Turner on "Nowhere Fast" from his new album, "Everything is Fine"; and with rapper Chingy on "They Don't Know" from "Hate It or Love It," which comes out Dec. 11. Additionally, Hamilton appears on saxophonist Boney James' new holiday album, "Christmas Present."
As for his work on "American Gangster," which hits stores tomorrow (Nov. 6), Hamilton recorded the Diane Warren-written "Do You Feel Me" and "Stone Cold," which he co-wrote with longtime Public Enemy producer Hank Schocklee. He also performs "Do You Feel Me" during a scene in the movie.
"I think it's a great opportunity for people to see me in a different light," he says, "not video but on a big, mega-screen, and to be connected with such amazing talent. It puts a little shine on my dusty texture. My velvet bow tie looks a little patent leather right now."
Prince Fans Unite And Strike Back
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 6, 2007) *Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to announce a revolt against attempts by Prince's lawyers to shut down any and all fan sites that use his image or likeness without permission.
Prince Fans United, a group made of Prince's three biggest fan sites, is announcing their frustration with the singer's lawyers who are allegedly threatening the sites through fear and intimidation.
The following is Prince Fans United's press release:
“November 5, 2007
PRINCE FANS FIGHT BACK AGAINST ATTACKS
In an extraordinary, but not unfamiliar move, the rock legend Prince is using an army of lawyers to launch attacks on his own fans.
Several of the largest web communities dedicated to the artist have received notices to cease and desist all use of photographs, images, lyrics, album covers and anything linked to Prince’s likeness.
It is our opinion that these threats are not made in an attempt to enforce valid copyright as Prince alleges in his threats, rather we believe they are attempts to stifle all critical commentary about Prince. We strongly believe that such actions are in violation of the freedom of speech and should not be allowed. Prince claims that fan sites are not allowed to present any artwork with Prince’s likeness, to the extreme that he has demanded removal of fan’s own photographs of their Prince inspired tattoos and their vehicles displaying Prince inspired license plates.
Prince’s representatives have requested that the fan sites provide them with “substantive details of the means by which you [the fan sites] propose to compensate our clients [Paisley Park Enterprises, NPG Records and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)] for damages…”
The owners of the three largest fan sites supporting Prince: www.housequake.com, www.princefams.com and www.prince.org have come together to fight back to what amounts to an injustice to the fan sites and the very fans who have supported Prince’s career, many since the very beginning nearly thirty years ago.
It is their hope that Prince will reconsider his position and allow these fan sites to continue their existence without constant threats from Prince and his attorneys. Should this not be possible, the fan sites are fully prepared to defend their position in the proper court of law, as well as fully prosecute any claims to which they are justly entitled.
The owners of housequake.com, princefams.com and prince.org acknowledge that, while Prince is entitled to control of his copyrights, it should be within the law. The law clearly provides for displaying of images of a celebrity’s likeness for newsworthy events or matters that are considered to be public interest. All three websites feel that the photographs and/or likeness displayed on their websites clearly fall within the public interest category. Additionally, the use of photographs is legal based on the fair use doctrine, i.e. the displaying of album cover art, or the collage headers created by website members using a variety of different photographs.
Livin' The Life Of
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic
(November 06, 2007) These are good times for Ky-Mani Marley, the second youngest of the late reggae icon's seven sons.
Radio, his first album in six years is being released today. He's currently opening for Van Halen's Reunion tour. And the 31-year-old singer/songwriter and star of Jamaican cult films Shottas and One Love debuted in the BET reality show Livin' the Life of Marley last month.
"It gave me a chance to groom my craft," he said of the gap between Radio and 2001's Grammy-nominated Many More Roads, which he attributed to a change in labels and management.
"I'm much more developed as an artist. I listen to my earlier albums now and I can hear how I was immature with my vocals. I'm like `Ah kid, you sounded horrible.'"
Sports was young Marley's first love, though at his mother's insistence, he took piano and guitar lessons. As a teen, he rapped and deejayed for friends, eventually caught the singing bug and followed brothers Ziggy, Stephen, Damian and Julian into the family business.
"Even when I signed my first record contract, I was like "Whatever.' What set it off for me was when I started getting fans and they would tell me my music meant so much to them; and how my music, or my dad's music saved their life. Then I knew I had a purpose."
Marley's fourth disc finds him melding his gruff vocals – singing and rapping – with reggae and hip-hop beats. An unexpected thread of profanity and thuggishness permeates the disc's explorations of social and personal issues.
"I don't mean to disrespect anyone, but that is what I was going through at the time," said the genial performer before his recent Air Canada Centre gig.
"I'm working on another album right now that's totally different, it’s a world music, kind of Top 40 feel, all acoustic, absolutely no cursing, and it also speaks to the soul. Radio is just one expression of me."
The son of former table tennis champ Anita Belvanis, one of seven different women Bob Marley had seven children with outside his marriage, said he comes by his street insights honestly, citing the impoverished circumstances he lived in until receiving his paternal inheritance 10 years after the reggae legend died without a will.
"I lived in a two bedroom with nine people. We lived in front of what you would call a crack house."
Now he's soaking up the opportunity to glean survival tactics from rockers Van Halen.
"These are definitely the kind of bands that I look up to, because when I think about my career, I want it to last as long as I want it. That's where I come in now with the Top 40, kind of world beat music, to make sure that I have that longevity."
And there are always the acting projects, including talk of him playing the lead in a Bob Marley biopic.
"I don't know what's going on with that, but if I don't play him I'm going to be upset. I was hearing something real ridiculous about Jamie Foxx....No way! I'll be out on that set every day picketing. I promise."
Temptations Doin' It 'Back To Front'
Source: Tynicka Battle, ThinkTank Marketing, email@example.com, www.thinktankmktg.com
(November 7, 2007) With 2006's Grammy-nominated Reflections, The Temptations performed the Motown classics they always loved but never had the chance to previously record.
Now, with Back To Front (New Door Records/UMe), released October 23, 2007, you'll find these Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and one of the most popular and enduring singing groups of all time performing some of the biggest Pop and R&B songs in history.
For Back To Front, their 48th album of new recordings, and second for New Door Records/UMe, The Temptations put their incomparable stamp on such classics as "Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up" (the ageless Barry White smash), Sam and Dave's seminal "Hold On, I'm Comin'," the Staple Singers' self-assuring "Respect Yourself," the Bee Gees' monumental "How Deep Is Your Love" and the timeless standard "Let It Be Me" as well as "(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again" (popularized by L.T.D. with Jeffrey Osborne). Also featured are "Wake Up Everybody" (the crossover giant from Philly soul legends Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass), "I'm In Love," "Minute By Minute" (the Doobie Brothers' hit), "Don't Ask My Neighbors" and "Love Ballad," (made popular by jazz giant George Benson).
Included among The Temptations' very own numerous and immortal hits are the '70s R&B/pop No.1 "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)," the No.1 R&B '60s smashes "Get Ready" and "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," and the No.2 '80s R&B hit "Treat Her Like A Lady."
The Tempts' album successes in the new millennium have included 2000's Grammy-winning, Top 20 R&B hit Ear-Resistable; 2001's Top 30 R&B-charting Awesome; 2004's Top 20 R&B-peaking Legacy and 2006's Top 20 R&B smash Reflections, which received massive critical and fan acclaim plus a Grammy nomination. And most recently their 2006 DVD Get Ready! The Definitive Performances 1965-1972 was certified platinum. The Temptations have sold more than 35 million records in their legendary career, a feat that only a few artists have achieved.
In 2007, The Temptations, with original member the venerable Otis Williams, Ron Tyson (a member since 1983, the line-up’s second longest tenure), Bruce Williamson, Terry Weeks and Joe Herndon, continue to raise the standard by which all singing groups are measured.
The Temptations continue to tour across the country. In addition to that schedule, they will perform several songs, including many from Back To Front, on Kurt Browning's "Gotta Skate" ice skating show airing Sunday, November 11 on NBC TV.
CURRENT TOUR SCHEDULE
12/11 Sioux City, IA Orpheum Theatre
12/12 Omaha, NE Orpheum Theatre
12/14 Ann Arbor, MI Washtenaw Community College
12/15 Merrillville, IN Star Plaza Theatre
12/16 Galesburg, IL Orpheum Theatre
1. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up (Barry White)
2. Hold On! I'm Comin' (Sam and Dave - Isaac Hayes and David Porter)
3. Wake Up Everybody (Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes feat. Teddy Pendergrass - Victor Carstarphen, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead)
4. Minute by Minute (Doobie Brothers - Michael McDonald and Lester Abrams) 5. I'm in Love (Bobby Womack)
6. Don't Ask My Neighbors (Skip Scarborough)
7. Love Ballad (George Benson - Skip Scarborough)
8. Let It Be Me (Gilbert Becaud, Pierre Delanoe and Manny Kurtz)
9. How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees - Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb)
10. (Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again (L.T.D., Jeffrey Osborne - LenRon Hanks and Zane Grey)
11. Respect Yourself (Staple Singers - Luther Ingram and Mack Rice)
Chris Brown On His New Album, Movie And Rihanna
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 7, 2007) *On this edition of the EURcast, Chris Brown says he wants to be as big – if not bigger – than his idol Michael Jackson in the wake of his new album "Exclusive" and film "This Christmas."
Plus, the singer addresses those Rihanna rumours that have been circulating around the black blogosphere.
We've also got the full, unedited audio of Stephen A Smith's take on the Kobe Bryant situation in Los Angeles.
And what in the world ever happened to "Dead Presidents" star NBushe Wright? EUR's Lee Bailey caught up with the actress, who says she has big plans in store for 2008.
ABOUT THE EURcast
Welcome to the brand new EURcast, a podcast version of the EUR brimming with extra urban entertainment juice and narrated by EUR editor, Cherie Saunders.
Every two weeks, we'll pump out a fresh new edition of the EURcast full of the latest music, film, TV and gossip info heard directly from the stars themselves.
There will also be special-edition podcasts released in addition to the biweekly versions covering specific events. For example, one EURcast may take you to the press room of the latest awards show. Another may place you on the red carpet of the next movie premiere.
Wherever we go, you and your headphones are coming with us. Plus, we've got leaked music from upcoming albums ... but shhhh, that's between us.
Sometimes, the EUR can get a little crowded with all of the day's urban news. The EURcast has now arrived to pick up the slack and serve up urban entertainment the way it was meant to be ... raw and uncut.
Most Opt Not To Pay For Radiohead
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(November 07, 2007) Radiohead let its fans decide how much to pay for a digital copy of the band's latest release, In Rainbows, and more than half of those who downloaded the album chose to pay nothing, according to a study by a consumer research firm. Some 62 per cent of the people who downloaded In Rainbows in a four-week period last month opted not to pay the British alt-rockers a cent. But the remaining 38 per cent voluntarily paid an average of $6, according to the study by comScore Inc. Radiohead broke with its past practice of releasing its music in CD format and through a major record label when it released its seventh studio album online itself. The band's decided to let fans pay what they wanted to download a copy. The study results were drawn from data gathered from a few hundred people who are part of comScore's database of two million computer users. The firm, which has permission to monitor the users' online behaviour, did not provide a margin of error for the results. Radiohead's U.S.-based publicist said yesterday the band had no comment on the study.
Chris Brown Cranks That 'Kiss Kiss' On Billboard
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 2, 2007) *It appears as if Americans are all Soulja Boy'd out and ready to pucker up for Chris Brown – as the crooner's new single, "Kiss Kiss" (featuring T-Pain), has ended the month-long reign of "Crank That (Soulja Boy) at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart this week. "Kiss Kiss " – from Brown's forthcoming album "Exclusive" due Tuesday via Jive – is the singer's second No. 1 on the Hot 100, following his Nov. 2005 hit "Run It!" It's also this week's biggest airplay and digital sales gainer. Soulja Boy's "Crank That (Soulja Boy) drops to No. 3 this week behind Timbaland's "Apologize" featuring OneRepublic at No. 2. Alicia Keys' "No One" remains at No. 4. Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly" and Kanye West's "Stronger" hold tight at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. Kanye's other hit single, "Good Life" featuring T-Pain, rises 8-7, flip-flopping with Baby Bash's "Cyclone," also featuring T-Pain. Rihanna's "Hate That I Love You" featuring Ne-Yo, her sixth top 10 title since 2005, holds at No. 9 for a second week. Timbaland's "The Way I Are" featuring Keri Hilson remains at No. 10 for a second week. On Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, Keys' "No One" stays at No. 1 for a third week.
Caribbean Entertainment Roundup
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 2, 2007) Barbados singer David Kirton has released his third album Time for Change. Kirton’s two previous albums Stranger and Modern Roots were released by RAS Records in the US. He had previously toured for three months as the opening act for the late Joseph Hill formerly of Culture. Singer Phillip 7 recently recorded a reggae remix of his single Beautiful Surprise. The Bajan singer teamed up with noted producer Clive Hunt at the Harmony House studios for the recording. Peter Ram recently copped a handful of awards at the International Soca Awards for his smash single Woman By My Side. Ram has teamed up with Jamaican dancehall artiste Aidonia for the song Pumpkin. The track was produced by Corey Jordan and featured on the Nirvana rhythm.
Montreal Lawyer To Head CBC
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press
(November 05, 2007) OTTAWA — Montreal lawyer and broadcaster Hubert Lacroix has been named president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Radio-Canada. Heritage Minister Josée Verner said Monday that Mr. Lacroix, chosen one of the top lawyers in Canada for 2008, has the experience and skills to lead the public broadcaster. A lawyer for 30 years, his legal specialties include media and publishing, as well as mergers and acquisitions, and securities and corporate governance. He is a senior adviser with the Montreal office of Stikeman Elliott. Mr. Lacroix replaces Liberal appointee Robert Rabinovitch, whose second term ends this month. Mr. Lacroix worked for Radio-Canada as a colour commentator for basketball during the Olympic Games in 1984, 1988 and 1996. He was senior adviser to Telemedia Ventures Inc. after spending several years as the executive chairman of Telemedia Corp. He was also a regular weekly contributor to the Saturday evening show Hebdo-Sports on the radio network of Radio-Canada, where he reported mainly on amateur sports. The headhunting firm of Egon Zehnder International was hired to seek out potential candidates and make recommendations for the CBC post, but the final decision was made by the Prime Minister's Office. The CBC has a budget of about $1.5-billion, of which $950-million comes from the federal government. Mr. Rabinovitch has been president of the CBC since 1999. His tenure was marked by the development of Internet services and a number of labour conflicts, including a seven-week lockout in 2005.
John Amos Done Gone Country
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
November 5, 2007) *John Amos, who currently stars in the ABC comedy "Men in Trees," is releasing an album of country music titled "We Were Hippies" in the wake of his relationship with members of the legendary Cash family. The actor – who became a household name in the seventies for such iconic roles as Kunta Kinte in the mini-series "Roots" and James Evans in the CBS sitcom "Good Times" – has signed a five-album deal with Music Row Records Nashville, which is run by CEO Gene Cash. "Country Music is all about storytelling. That's what makes John perfect for this genre," said Gene Cash. "We worked with him closely and helped him discover his singing voice as well. John Amos is country music." Cash picked up on Amos' talent over the summer during several trips the TV star made to Nashville. Songs on the album include the title track, written by 17-year-old Eric Cash of the Cash family, as well as other Johnny Cash originals including "Hopelessly," "Independence Day" and a tribute to the late county legend titled, "When Johnny Came to Town. "I'm originally from East Orange, New Jersey and my mother and I would spend our summers on the family farm in Birmingham where I learned to ride horses listening to Johnny Cash and other great country artists," Amos said. "To now be embraced by the Cash family in this way is a ride." "We Were Hippies" is available for download via iTunes. For more info and to HEAR John's music, visit www.myspace.com/johnamoscountry.
Filmmaking As Therapy: Who Knew?
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon
(November 01, 2007) Father-son relationships always take a little work. But imagine a bond so strained you are compelled to make a feature documentary ridiculing, at times, your dad's passion, in this case competitive bodybuilding, in order to find common ground.
Simply put, The Bodybuilder & I, opening in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa tomorrow, is universal father-son tensions writ large, with dumbbells and spray-on self-tanner added to the mix.
Toronto filmmaker Bryan Friedman, now 27, had reached a crisis point. After a broken relationship, he felt that he had his father's "bad husband, bad father" gene. His dad, Bill Friedman, a driven, highly successful lawyer, had divorced Bryan's mom when Bryan was 2 and had separated himself from much of his son's life. Still resentful as an adult, Bryan had to confront this.
So far, so familiar. But what makes this story unusual is the world his dad now inhabits: massive weight rooms, tanning booths, studios for practising choreographed poses, nutritional fanaticism and grotesquely ripped abs. As a bodybuilding champ competing in the 50-to-60-year-old category, Bill, who was 59 when the film was completed a year ago, has that unabashed mentality bodybuilders possess. They are utterly unembarrassed wearing the skimpiest briefs with an "S" for Superman stitched on the crotch, or will rip off a tight PVC stage costume and start flexing their glutei. Bryan watches this in disbelief throughout much of the film, unable to separate the sight from his anger toward his father.
"I honestly don't think I would have gone through with the investigation without the camera pushing me forward. Had I just sat down and had a conversation with him, it would been a surface conversation that probably wouldn't have gotten resolved. And as soon as things got hard, I would have just backed off," Bryan said in an interview.
"But for some reason, the camera was pushing both of us forward. ... In order to make a good film, I had to push all the way through."
As a result, the documentary takes an emotional journey, characteristic of many films co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Much of the movie's backstory is told by Bryan looking at old photos and drudging up the past through interviews with his dad, mom and older brother. For instance, there was the story of when his mom was recovering from Bryan's birth by cesarean section and the father simply went off on a fishing trip.
Elsewhere in the film, Bryan captures his dad obsessing rather aggressively about no-fat foods for his bodybuilding physique. The message is clear: Bryan doesn't want to be like that. And he feared he was, after breaking up with his long-standing girlfriend.
"I had hit a personal point where I wasn't content. I wasn't happy with the way my life was going. I wasn't happy with the person I was. And I was worried I was going to turn into my father," he said. "I think when I first started [the film], I wanted to figure out how I was different than him, so that I could reassure myself I wasn't going to be a mess-up.
"But making the film, I realized that that was completely the wrong approach, that I needed to figure out what in him was worth admiring, respecting and loving, so that I could not be embarrassed by him, but actually be proud of him. Once I could do that, that opened up tons of things for me."
For one, Bryan is no longer a filmmaker, but is studying law like his dad had done.
"I feel a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders, and that's something I never expected," he said. In short, he has come to like his father.
And the bodybuilding culture too. "Once you enter that world, it does have a normalizing function, where the more time you spend with it, the more normal it becomes," Bryan said. "It's funny when I see [competitive bodybuilding] with people who have never seen it before. One of the first things they react to is the image of these old guys stripped down and ripped and shocking in a way. But obviously, it doesn't do it to me because I'm so used to it."
But there's an obvious question: What did the father think of the end film, particularly when he admits on camera that he was doing it only for his son?
"He thought it was quite hard on him, especially the first half of the movie. And he was probably right to think that. But after he sat with it for a while, and we talked about it, he said something that made a lot of sense to me: The end of the movie provides a platform for the beginning of our relationship. And that's really what has happened," Bryan said.
Connecting with his son, his dad told him, makes all the compromising scenes and the unflattering exposure of his past on film worth it. "Sometimes we do things despite the consequences, because we think the rewards will be greater," Bryan added simply.
Assante A 'Fragile' Gangster
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(November 03, 2007) When Armand Assante speaks, you listen.
There's something compelling about the 58-year-old actor – and it's not just the fact he's portrayed so many wiseguys in his career that he could almost claim honorary membership in the Cosa Nostra.
The latest entry to his catalogue, in fact, has just opened on screen with Assante as the mafia lord Dominic Cattano who tries to cloud Denzel Washington's horizon in American Gangster.
But no, it's not the roles he's played that make him so fascinating, but the man himself. Sitting in the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel, he radiates such a rugged masculinity that it's surprising the word he chooses to describe himself is "fragile."
"It's true," he insists, "I don't think of myself as any kind of a macho figure. As an actor, your heart and soul are only as good as the stories you're given. All of us can bring something to the table, we just have to be given the chance.
"Me? I'm an eternal romantic. I keep looking for the good in everyone and everything. Consequently, I learn all of my life lessons from very harsh mistakes."
You don't have to ask him what those mistakes might have been. The up-and-down graph of his fame tells the tale and he, himself, admits it. "Sure, a couple of times in my life I could have had a bigger career, but I said no. I didn't want to. Like I said: I'm too fragile."
He was the No. 1 student in his graduating class at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1969. Five years later, he made his first film and six years later he was on Broadway.
"I've been a journeyman actor all my life," he explains. "That's how I see myself. Nothing more. I live for the chances to work with the really talented people like Jack Nicholson." He appeared opposite the superstar in Hoffa and roars with laughter describing the experience. "How could you miss that? It's like missing a red barn."
In the early '80s, he started to break into the big time with movies like Private Benjamin, but then he spent most of the decade wallowing in things like Rage of Angels.
His 1988 turn in Jack the Ripper earned him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, but he cooled again until The Mambo Kings made him really big in 1992.
"I was 41 years old when I made that film," he recalls. "I had never really been under the international microscope before. It was frightening. I don't know how some kids survive it at 21."
The roller coaster ride continued for him, reaching its peak, it's generally agreed, with his amazing 1996 performance as infamous mobster John Gotti in Gotti, which won him an Emmy Award.
Since then, there have been 10 smaller independent films for every big one, but Assante's heart is often in the less high-profile projects.
In fact, he came to the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this fall to promote California Dreamin' by Romanian director Cristian Nemescu, who died in a car crash shortly after filming was completed.
It tells the story of a Romanian railway stationmaster who delays a NATO train transporting military equipment during the war in Kosovo in 1999.
Assante plays the American officer in charge, wedged in by compromise on both sides.
"I thought it was a great black comedy," he says, "a metaphor of America and its foreign policy, a study of how corruption is tragically pervasive everywhere in the world."
The film won the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes this spring and Assante recalls how it received a seven-minute standing ovation there.
But in Toronto, it flew largely under the radar, which Assante feels is a comment on North America's declining taste in film.
"Seventy-five per cent of the movies out there are going straight to DVD and it's going to get worse," he predicts. "You have to use the medium for all you can, when you can. The odds of getting into a film like American Gangster are 1,001 to 1."
He's enthusiastic about the Ridley Scott thriller based on the true-life career of Frank Lucas, one of the major heroin overlords in the America of 1970.
"There are some surprises storywise," he cautions, "that are very sharp and very true, frighteningly true if you do the homework. It was pretty scary what was going on during Vietnam. The kind of thing people didn't want to talk about then and don't want to talk about to this day."
And, yet, he remains conflicted about the form itself.
"Every gangster film romanticizes the hardcore truth and it's something that I despise to the bottom of my heart. Yes, it makes entertainment. Yes, I have been a part of it. But it appeals to the most vulgar parts of our imagination."
He goes back to his childhood to explain the source of his discontent.
"I grew up in Washington Heights when it was in a period of horrific sociological transition. My mother (a teacher) had an 11-year-old student, a polio victim, who was butchered by 19 kids.
"But I work with guys who romanticize all this violence and have never known the reality of it."
He shakes his head
"I'm just as guilty. I make a living off it, but I never buy into it. I'd rather be on my farm with my kids. I'd rather have my feet on the ground."
And maybe that's the secret of Armand Assante's power.
1. What was your first job?
I was 16 years old and working on the assembly line of a pocketbook factory. I lasted six hours. Then I quit.
2. If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing?
I would have been a musician or a writer. I love the creative process. I love getting to the essence of something.
3. What's on your iPod?
I can listen to the "Meditation from Thais" by Massenet all night. Or Led Zeppelin. I have a tremendously eclectic musical taste.
4. What's the last good movie you saw?
The film that disturbed me the most this year was Cristian
Mungiu's movie about abortion,
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. I think it should be shown in every high school across the continent.
5. What TV show must you watch every week?
I do TV occasionally to make a living, but I don't watch it. Except for the BBC News and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Bee Earns An 'A'
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Special To The Star
(November 03, 2007) VANCOUVER–Who knew bees could act? Then again, the stars of Jerry Seinfeld's new Bee Movie aren't your run-of-the-hive bees. On top of the obvious eye-popping animation, these bees seem almost, well, human.
And as any fan of Mr. Seinfeld can attest, he possesses a knack for turning what seems to be the most mundane commonality into high comedy. In Bee Movie, he transposes the foibles of Queens and the Upper West Side to the beehive.
The animated tale follows Barry B. Benson (voiced by Mr. Seinfeld), a bee who has just graduated from college. Disillusioned by his lone career choice – making honey – Barry ventures beyond the confines of the hive to discover the human world. On his first trip outside the hive, his life is saved by Vanessa, a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, he discovers humans actually eat honey, and subsequently decides to sue humans for stealing his livelihood.
One of the funny moments for me involved the musician Sting, a friend whom I met nearly 20 years ago in the Brazilian rainforests. The obvious irony of his stage-name in Bee Movie triggers bee-rage on the screen and endless laughter in the audience seats.
As for the bee lawsuit, it triggers a catastrophic series of events that swiftly squashes the world's plants, trees and flowers. Barry, and presumably the audience, quickly realize how truly interconnected bees are with the entire environment, including humans. As one animated bee recapitulates, "If there was no pollination, it could all go south." That bee couldn't be more right.
Bee Movie premieres at a time when millions of native and European honey bees in North America are declining at alarming rates. Habitat degradation remains the largest threat to native bee populations. By chronicling the wreckage brought about by the absence of bees, the film touches on the importance of pollinators to the world's food supply. As much as a third of the food we eat requires bee pollination, according to experts. In fact, bee pollination in Canada is valued at $1 billion (annually).
When I was a young geneticist studying fruit flies, the complex interactions between humans and animals stung me like a bee (excuse the pun). And this movie gets to the heart of that relationship – insects, plants and animals are just as valuable to humans as humans are to them. It's this fine, sacred balance that humans are ultimately responsible to maintain.
Mr. Seinfeld may have very possibly started a whole new trend of eco-films, such as a forest of trees demanding compensation for mitigating floods. This and pollination are examples of ecosystem services, essentially gifts of nature that provide for life on Earth.
In between side-splitting laughter, Bee Movie gives theatre-goers pause to ponder the intricate role bees and other pollinators play in making the world go round. And for that, I give this movie an ... A.
Coming To Terms With An Abusive Cult Upbringing
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - R.M. Vaughan
(November 02, 2007) Filmmaker Noah Thomson was raised in the elusive Children of God cult, a Christianity-based communal living society also known as the Family.
Founded in the United States in the 1960s, the Family practised and promoted free love - very free love - as a way toward spiritual enlightenment. It made for a pretty effective recruiting tool as well.
In the past two decades, however, several former members of the cult have come forth and alleged that the cult's sex-fuelled gospel was often a front for the systemic physical and sexual abuse of the children. Since those allegations first emerged, much of the Family has relocated throughout the world, largely, its detractors claim, to avoid the U.S. justice system.
In an attempt to process what happened to him, to his siblings and to the many former Family members he has tracked down and interviewed, Thomson has created the chilling documentary Children of God: Lost and Found (makings its debut Nov. 7 on The Movie Network), a film that is half scathing j'accuse and half bittersweet road movie, with Thomson playing the role of the pensive, sometimes goofy twentysomething trying to find his way in the world. The film is punctuated by recorded phone calls between you and your mother, who is still in the Family. Did your mother know you were recording her?
I believe she didn't, no.
Did you have any ethical qualms about using her voice?
Well, I asked her if I could do it, and I think because of bureaucracy within the group she couldn't participate. But it was definitely something that I questioned, but at the end of the day I felt it was okay to do it. I still don't know.
The footage from the Family's recruitment films, with the kids performing in choreographed parades, is very Children of the Corn.
I didn't set out to make it scary, but the film took on a life of its own. It just sort of developed, and I didn't think it would be as taxing on me as it was. I knew the group had a lot of skeletons in its closet, but I didn't think they would come out quite so bold.
Are you in any of those promotional films, the kid rallies?
No. I'm in several of their videos, which I couldn't get a hold of. But my older sister is in the marching group you see in the film.
The Family made soft-core child-sex tapes and took inappropriate pictures of kids in sexual situations - some of which you show in your film. How do you show the exploitation of children without re-exploiting the victims?
The one thing I did know when I was making this film is that I didn't want to make it sensational. So I focused on a couple of people who are now adults who did have that happen to them, and interviewed them. Then we compromised in some areas, and I approached showing that sex stuff very gingerly, to say the least. The Children of God believed that their religion was their sex, so it had to be shown.
Are you still a Christian?
You know, I'm not sure. I appreciate all religions, and anybody who lives by "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a friend of mine.
Have you spoken to your mother since the documentary was finished?
We have not really spoken, to date. We intend to meet in the near future, but I'm not really sure where she is, psychologically or emotionally, about any of this. There were times when I felt she was coming around, having a breakthrough, but she continues with the group.
For many abuse survivors, talking about the abuse is the first big hurdle to overcoming the shame. You've made a whole film about it.
I kept my background a secret for years. But once I made a commitment to talk about it, I became thankful I did. Those circumstances were out of my control. There were times over the course of making this film when I was really torn: 'Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself out there with this?' But once I started shooting the interviews, I realized I had a responsibility to tell my story and the stories of people like me. I'm not a crusader by any means, but those stories break my heart.
In the film, you spend almost all of your time with other guys. Is it hard to meet women with your history? Your life story is not exactly first-date material.
Yeah, yeah. I meet women when I can, but I work a lot too, and I don't have time to pick up girls like a lot of young guys do. But I do okay. I don't think my history scares women off, but maybe they haven't been honest with me! Ha! If they're going to judge me on my history, I suppose it would be intimidating. But I'm out there enjoying my life. I have good days and bad days, like everybody else.
In 1976 in Brazil; Thomson and his 10 siblings grew up in different Children of God communes around the world.
At age 18, Thomson moved to Japan to work for the Children of God's video production unit.
THE EXIT DOOR
Thomson left the cult in 1999, together with two of his brothers and two of his friends, and began assembling footage of the group (which by then was known as The Family). He started working on the film seriously three years later.
Montel Williams Moves Behind The Camera
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 2, 2007) *Veteran talk show host Montel Williams will jump into the movie business by executive producing a series of feature films in partnership with production companies. "There have been so many remarkable scripts and ideas coming to myself, the talk show and our production company, and we felt it was an appropriate time to take action on them," Williams told the Hollywood Reporter. "Our team at Letnom (Management & Prods.) has picked a meaningful and exciting slate of films and is collaborating with very established and well-respected producers, writers and directors." First up on the production slate is "4Chosen," which deals with the issue of racial profiling. Production is scheduled to start in early 2008, according to Letnom. "Framed," a film about art crimes due to begin shooting in fall 2008, is based on the Tod Volpe novel "Tales of the Art Underworld." Romantic comedies include "That's Amore," about a gay Italian man who inadvertently finds himself engaged to a Jewish girl next door, and "All-American Girl," about a young woman trying to make it in baseball.
Canadaville - The Town Frank Stronach Built
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Nelson Wyatt, The Canadian Press
(November 01, 2007) MONTREAL–Filmmaker Abbey Neidik is glad he stuck around to keep the cameras rolling for his up-to-the-minute documentary Canadaville, USA.
Otherwise, his ending probably would have been a lot less uplifting.
"In the first year, there were always problems," he said. "There were drug problems, there were children being taken away and you could just see there was a general kind of depression that was there.
"We would go there every couple of months and start filming and you would not see anyone on the streets. They're all barricaded in their houses. And I only started to understand that it was the shock of Katrina and losing everything.... It took time to heal."
Neidik's film, Canadaville, USA, is ultimately a story about the triumph of the human spirit and compassion.
Shot over two years, it tells how Canadian auto-parts baron Frank Stronach was deeply touched by the plight of refugees from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and created a Louisiana village to give 300 of the poorest disaster victims new starts.
The refugees, who affectionately dubbed the community Canadaville, are given five years of rent-free living and the chance to participate in an ambitious organic farm. Many of them come from New Orleans' tough Ninth Ward and they have a hard time adjusting to their new rural surroundings.
The documentary, to be broadcast tonight at 9 on CBC, tracks several people, including Cindy, a single mother with two kids who are taken away from her when authorities learn she is addicted to painkillers.
There's also Shane Carmichael, Canadaville's on-site manager from Toronto, who leads the efforts to get the community up and running and whose efforts have a surprising payoff in the end.
He's the real face of Stronach's Magna International in the film because Stronach is barely seen except at media events.
But probably one of the most compelling stories in the film is that of Kevin and Michelle Johnson and their six children.
Kevin and Michelle both come from troubled pasts: he was thrown out of a third-storey window as a youth by his father; she was raped by her stepfather and thrown out by her mother when she learned of the abuse.
Kevin and Michelle met on the street and have struggled with unemployment, a lack of social skills and brushes with the law as they try to keep their family together. At one point in the documentary, Kevin even violates his probation and takes his family on the run. But even that brings another surprise.
Not everything in Canadaville, USA is smooth sailing. Besides the ups and downs faced by the people in the film, there is also the cool reception given to the new arrivals by some of the residents and mayor of nearby Simmesport, La., which is also plagued with unemployment.
Neidik and producer Irene Angelico say questions still remain about the role of companies in helping out in such a manner – indeed there was much cynicism initially about Stronach's project – but the filmmakers give the tycoon full marks for his efforts.
Canadaville remains a work in progress and one that Neidik and Angelico would like to track, maybe for a feature-length documentary.
"Basically, it took a year-and-a-half to finally get it off the ground," Neidik says of the Louisiana community.
"You could see the change once the farm and the chickens were there. There was a buzz that started. You could feel it in the air."
So Many Characters, Only One
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(November 02, 2007) NEW YORK–During her lengthy career, Carol Burnett has shown she's a fine dramatic actor in films like Pete 'n' Tillie, The Four Seasons and Friendly Fire.
She has the sort of singing voice that can fill a Broadway theatre and did, notably, when she starred in Once Upon a Mattress.
But more than anything, she is a comedian and a TV institution, demonstrated beyond question on her long-running CBS variety series, The Carol Burnett Show.
It was there she embodied countless madcap characters and, where, for an 11-season run that began 40 seasons ago, she piled up indelible TV moments: her charwoman, her Tarzan yell, the repurposed drape worn to spoof Gone With the Wind, her tug of the earlobe as a signal to her Nanny (her grandmother).
There was also the ritual with which she opened each show: taking questions from the audience. Weekly, she was stepping from behind a character or song to reveal herself, with cleverness and charm, to her fans. They loved it.
We still do. So a scattering of Q-and-A excerpts serves as an apt structural device for her American Masters portrait.
Premiering Monday at 9 on PBS, Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character starts with an audience member from a distant broadcast asking Carol to recall her most embarrassing question.
"It was whether I had ever had a sex change," she replied. "I think that takes the cake."
The next person's question – "Did you?" – set off a second explosion of laughter.
With Burnett's full participation – in those Q-and-A clips as well as recollections from her now, at age 74 – the two hours tell her story.
She was a child of alcoholics who grew up poor just a few blocks (but a world away) from the glamour of Hollywood, which she immersed herself in. With Nanny, who raised her, she routinely took refuge at the movies, as many as eight of them a week. Then, with friends, she acted out the characters she met on the screen.
At UCLA she discovered student theatre and realized she was funny. She moved to New York. She proved herself on the stage and, more importantly, on live TV. And by her mid-20s she was a star.
A Woman of Character charts these steps and those that followed. And it reminds us (even we who have known her since the birth of her career) how special she is: a comic performer combined with a clown; an actor chock-full of zany identities but also, underneath them all, a woman her audience identifies with.
Her long-time friend Julie Andrews calls her "brave." And director Peter Bogdanovich says: "Carol has an enormous vulnerability. We sense it, we know it." Her comedy is often uproarious, but there is nothing glib about it – or her.
Watch her in a 1959 live airing of The Garry Moore Show, where she first gained wide exposure. The sketch, by a young staff writer named Neil Simon, finds Carol (as the nursery rhyme character Jill) tearfully visiting Jack (played by series regular Durward Kirby) in the hospital. He is recovering from – what else? – a broken crown. Jill is distraught to see him this way. "Jack," she sobs, "why'd you have to go up the hill?" And she sees no recourse but to come tumbling after. She throws herself out the window.
It was Burnett's first experience with such a stunt, as she recalls in the film. But she was gung-ho and blessed with an innate physicality (and glad there was a mattress on the other side).
In 1967, she got her own show, with a dream team that eventually included Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner (all heard from in the film). "God, we laughed for 11 years," Burnett said recently. "It was the best job anybody could ever have."
She was speaking with a reporter, and a fan, who was looking for her secret: how she channels all those characters so convincingly.
"What helped me a lot was deciding how I was going to look, what I was going to wear," she explained. "I work from the outside in."
As she did with the airhead secretary Mrs. Wiggins, who was forever exasperating her dweebish boss (played by Conway, who conceived those popular skits).
"Tim had originally written her as an elderly lady," Burnett said. But the show's costume designer, Bob Mackie, had a different take.
"He said to me, `I think she should be this vapid thing, always putting on lipstick and checking her nails.' So he puts me in the blond wig and the blouse with the push-up bra. And he found this old skirt on a rack somewhere." A very short skirt. "But it was baggy in the behind. I said, `You're gonna have to take this skirt in, 'cause I'm flat back there.' But he said, `No, just stick out your behind. Put your behind into it.'
"That baggy skirt and the high heels gave me the walk," she summed up, making it seem so easy.
19-Cent Cheques Leave
Writers Wanting Change
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Special To The Star
(November 04, 2007) Why are Hollywood writers about to go on strike tomorrow? We asked Ken Levine, a Tinseltown scribe and Emmy winner with a near-peerless sitcom pedigree, having worked on Cheers, Frasier, M*A*S*H and The Simpsons. He's also the author of one of the sharper blogs in showbiz: kenlevine.blogspot.com.
I got a cheque recently from American Airlines. A royalty cheque. For the past several years as part of their "inflight entertainment" American Airlines has been showing episodes of Cheers, M*A*S*H and Becker that I wrote along with episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier and Dharma & Greg that I directed. Considering the number of flights and years I'd estimate they've shown my shows 10,000 times. My compensation for that: $0.19. That's right – 19 cents (American, so it's even less in Canada.) I figure at that rate, in 147 years I'll be able to buy one of their snack boxes.
An episode of Frasier I wrote is out on DVD. I make nothing. The script is included in a book. I make zilch. Soon you'll be able to download and watch it on your iPod or iPhone at IHOP. The only one who won't make money is "i".
Are you sensing a pattern?
The Writers Guild of America is asking the mega-corporations that own the entertainment industry in America and the galaxy to compensate its members fairly for this highly desired product they create. Just a piece, that's all. More than nothing. And without sounding greedy, more than nineteen cents.
Via-Uni-Time-Corps-Ney would rather have a strike.
I've been through three of them already. Many of the companies I struck are no longer in business. Two-thirds of the people I struck with are no longer in the guild. And unlike actors and directors, when we go out it doesn't just shut down the industry. It slows it. Hair restoration crèmes have faster results.
But as someone who has prospered and enjoyed the gains writers before me have won, I feel it's my obligation to fight the good fight for the next generation. And hopefully in 20 years, when the issue is holograms transmitted directly to the back of viewers' eyelids, WGA members will hang tough for a piece of that pie.
This acrimony between writers and management has been a proud tradition since the 1930s when scribes first rose up and had the audacity to ... well, ask for things. Warner Brothers czar Jack Warner warned that any writer who joined the union would "find themselves out of work forever." And he claimed this wasn't blacklisting because "it would all be done over the telephone." Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox once shouted, "Throw that writer off the lot until I need him again!" Critic David Thomson says Hollywood writers are like divorce lawyers or private eyes. When you want them you have to have them, but later you despise them.
Is it any wonder we "schmucks with Underwoods" have an inferiority complex and assume a defensive posture? We spend our entire careers trying to protect our work from meddling studios, directors, actors, fellow writers, research gurus, networks, and girlfriends of all of the above.
Yes, we're an angry bunch, a self-righteous bunch, but we make 19 cents from American Airlines when management flies in private jets.
I teach a seminar called The Sitcom Room (sitcomroom.com). It's a fun weekend where I simulate the experience of actually being on the writing staff of a network show. Students rewrite scripts, have real actors perform their work, and learn first hand the realities of the business – little sleep, bad Chinese food, notes. But they eagerly participate, because they love the process, they have a need to express themselves, they want to be heard. Not one has said they want to be a TV writer to make money.
And when they finally do enter the industry, who knows what that industry will be? New delivery systems are emerging so rapidly that even the "unthinkable" was obsolete five minutes ago. These young writers will embrace that future, and through their vision and zeal will make it soar. All they're asking for is their fair share. MyPiece, not MySpace. iShare, not iTunes. NetWorth, not NetFlix.
A&E Yanks 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' From Schedule
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
November 5, 2007) *A&E has pulled its reality series starring Duane "Dog" Chapman two days after a private phone conversation in which he repeatedly used the N-word leaked to the National Enquirer and, eventually, the Internet.
"In evaluating the circumstances of the last few days, A&E has decided to take `Dog The Bounty Hunter' off the network's schedule for the foreseeable future," the network said in a statement Friday. "We hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun."
Officials at the network say the show, one of its highest rated programs, has not been cancelled.
So far, two advertisers have pulled out of the show, and civil rights groups are calling for its permanent removal from the line-up. A coalition of groups in Los Angeles sent a letter to network executives Friday stating the show's temporary removal from the schedule is not enough.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the coalition believes Chapman's language was even more damaging to black women than the "nappy-headed hoes" remark made by shock jock Don Imus toward the Rutgers women's basketball team. CBS and MSNBC fired Imus in the wake of his comments. However, Citadel Broadcasting Corp. Thursday announced Imus' return to radio in December.
"If they can essentially say, 'We're firing Imus in the front door and bring him in the back door later on,' they can also do the same with this guy and his show," Hutchinson said. "It seems like to me A&E is keeping their options open."
In the leaked phone conversation, Chapman urges his son Tucker to break up with his girlfriend, who is black. He also expresses concern about the girlfriend trying to tape and go public about the TV star's use of the N-word. He used the slur six times in the first 45 seconds of the five-minute clip.
In a statement, Chapman has repeatedly apologized and said he was "disappointed in [Tucker's] choice of a friend, not due to her race, but her character. However, I should have never used that term." He also said he was ashamed of himself and reached out to various black activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton. Last week, Sharpton released a statement saying he would meet with Chapman when he has time in his schedule.
Chapman's attorney, Brook Hart, said his client is not a racist and vowed never to use the word again. Hart said Tucker Chapman taped the call and sold it to the Enquirer for "a lot of money." However, the Enquirer's editor in chief, David Perel, would not comment on how the tabloid obtained the tape.
Oprah Wept Over Assault
Charges At School
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(November 05, 2007) JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey said Monday she was devastated by allegations an employee had abused students at a school she started for disadvantaged South African girls, and promised a shakeup.
Winfrey spoke to reporters in South Africa by satellite hook-up hours after the employee, a dormitory matron accused of indecent assault and criminal injury, appeared in court near Johannesburg and was granted bail.
Winfrey said the contract of the school's head mistress would not be renewed and promised "to clean house from top to bottom."
She also indicated school officials had tried to keep the facts of the case from her, saying she had initially been told a girl who accused the matron of abuse had left the school because the girl's mother wanted to spend more time with her.
Girls at the school, at which Winfrey has been a frequent visitor, also told her they had been told to "put on happy faces" when she was there and not complain, Winfrey said.
Though she said she was not responsible for hiring at the school, Winfrey said the screening process was inadequate and "the buck always stops with me."
Tiny Virginia Makopo, 27, faces 13 charges of indecent assault, assault and criminal injury committed against six students aged 13 to 15 and a 23-year-old at the school.
The baby-faced dormitory parent, who twisted her braids nervously and blinked back tears, said she was "not guilty" during the bail application hearing at a Johannesburg magistrate's court, where the charges were read.
Magistrate Thelma Simpson allowed her to go free on a bond equivalent to about C$425 until her next court date on Dec. 13. Makopo, who was arrested Thursday, was not asked to enter a formal plea.
Simpson said Makopo has to report to police four times a week and was ordered to have nothing to do with the school or the complainants.
"The allegations and charges against you are very serious," Simpson said. "These kind of offences are very prevalent in this court."
South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual and child abuse in the world.
Superintendent Andre Neethling of the police sexual offences and child protection unit said there had been at least three serious cases of indecent assault and that the abuse had taken place over a period of four months.
He said the accused faced an assault charge in connection with a 23-year-old who was another dorm matron.
Winfrey, who has in the past spoken of the abuse she suffered as a child and campaigned for laws in the United States to protect children from abusers, said that because of the high rates of rape and sexual abuse in South Africa, she had worked to ensure outsiders would not be able to reach students at the school.
But "as often is the case, child abuse, sexual abuse happens right within the family, right within the confines of people you know," she said.
Winfrey has spoken in the past of being raped by a distant cousin at age nine and then abused by three other men, all trusted family friends.
Monday, she said with a deep sigh that the allegations at her school were "one of most devastating experiences of my life" and that she had cried for half an hour when she first heard of them.
Winfrey said she had been informed by the school's chief executive, John Samuel, in early October that a group of 15 girls had come forward with a list of complaints, including the sexual assault of one of their classmates.
She then called for an independent investigation to determine the extent of the allegations. The investigation was headed by Richard Farley, a Chicago detective who works with child abuse cases.
"My experience with child predators is that no one ever abuses just one child," she said.
The school said in an Oct. 17 statement it had hired private U.S. and South African detectives to investigate, as well as reporting allegations to the South African police.
Winfrey was adamant that the scandal had not dented her desire to help the girls in her school achieve a better future.
"No one – not the accused or anyone else – can destroy the dream I have held or that the girls hold. Their light will not be diminished by this," she said.
Samuel told reporters Monday there now is a sense of relief at the school and that life was beginning to return to normal. "We are beginning to heal. The spirit of the girls remains strong," he said.
The lavish school opened with much fanfare in January with a ceremony attended by a cast of celebrities including former South African president Nelson Mandela, movie maker Spike Lee, film star Sidney Poitier and pop stars Mariah Carey and Tina Turner.
It was the fulfillment of a promise Winfrey made to Mandela six years ago and aims to give 152 girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.
Leno, Letterman In Reruns
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(November 05, 2007) NEW YORK – The first casualties of the first strike by Hollywood writers in nearly 20 years appear to be the late night talk shows with Letterman, Leno and O'Brien beginning reruns immediately.
Noisy pickets outside the ``Today" show showed the writers mean business in their strike that threatens to disrupt everything from prime-time dramas to soap operas.
A giant, inflated rat was put on display today as about 40 people in Rockefeller Center shouted, "No contract, no shows!''
"The seven-word mantra is, `When you get paid, we get paid,''' said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America East.
The strike is the first walkout by writers since 1988. That work stoppage lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.
The "Today" show is not directly affected by the strike because news writers are part of a different union. The picket was set up behind police barricades in an area adjacent to the NBC studios, where shows like "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" might be forced to play re-runs.
Writers' demands for a bigger slice of DVD profits and revenue from the distribution of films and TV shows over the Internet has been a key issue.
"They claim that the new media is still too new to structure a model for compensation," said Jose Arroyo, a writer for "Late Night with Conan O'Brien.''
"We say give us a percentage so if they make money, we make money," said Arroyo.
Diana Son, a writer for "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," said she has three children and getting residuals was the only way she could take time off after giving birth.
"It's an extremely volatile industry," said Son. "There's no job security. Residuals are an important part of our income. There's no cushion. I rely on residuals from my previous work to get me through periods when I am not working.''
"It sounds justifiable to me," said onlooker Dan Kelly of Bethlehem, Pa., a retired New York Police Department detective. ``Look at all the fine actors from early on who never got residuals.''
But Millie Kapzen of Memphis, Tenn., who watched the pickets from across the street, said she was "disgusted. ... I really think they should try harder to negotiate.''
Kapzen, wearing her medal from Sunday's New York City Marathon, said she sells advertising for radio stations. "We've already had cancellations of sweeps weeks ads" by the networks.
In Los Angeles, writers also were planning to picket 14 studio locations in four-hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day until a new deal is reached.
The contract between the 12,000-member Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producer expired Oct. 31. Talks that began this summer failed to produce much progress.
Writers and producers had gathered for negotiations Sunday at the request of a federal mediator.
The two sides met for nearly 11 hours before East Coast members of the writers union announced on their Web site that the strike had begun for their 4,000 members.
The first casualty of the strike would be late-night talk shows, which are dependent on current events to fuel monologues and other entertainment.
Daytime TV, including live talk shows such as "The View" and soap operas, which typically tape about a week's worth of shows in advance, would be next to feel the impact.
The strike will not immediately impact production of movies or prime-time TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and TV shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.
AP Business Writer Gary Gentile in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Unions Behind U.S. Brethren
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(November 06, 2007) The associations representing Canadian actors and screenwriters are showing solidarity with the striking Writers Guild of America, telling members they can't work for U.S. productions coming here to get around the work stoppage.
The U.S. guild, which represents 12,000 members, went on strike at 12:01 a.m. yesterday, the first such action in 19 years, after contract talks broke down with the U.S. film and television industry.
Stephen Waddell, national executive director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), confirmed its 21,000 members would respect the U.S. strike, adding, "we will not perform in any ... production that comes to Canada to evade a strike."
Canadian-scripted shows won't be affected by the strike south of the border.
The Writers Guild of Canada issued a statement promising to support the U.S. strike "to the fullest extent possible" and directing members not to take work if approached by "an American engager."
"The issues the Writers Guild of America is addressing will affect every professional artist seeking compensation for their work in the digital age.
"Their fight is our fight," said Canadian guild president Rebecca Schechter in a statement.
ACTRA members endured a six-week strike earlier this year in large part over the same issues facing the U.S. screenwriters guild: rights to compensation for use of their work in digital media.
Waddell said members have ratified the only contract worldwide so far that confers minimum rates and user fees on digital products, but expects compensation rates to increase once contracts are concluded with the three major U.S. film and television unions.
Meanwhile, about 300 ACTRA members picketed the annual Canadian Association of Broadcasters convention in Ottawa yesterday to protest the lack of Canadian content on TV – particularly dramas – since 1999, when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission dropped specific Canadian content and spending requirements.
Turner Nabs Cable Rights To Perry's 'Married,' 'Girls'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 6, 2007) *Turner's TBS and TNT, which already have rights to Tyler Perry's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion," will get another double dose of movies from the filmmaker in 2009 and 2010. Variety is reporting that Lionsgate sold cable TV rights to Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" and "Daddy's Little Girls" to the two Turner networks in a deal worth more than $12 million. The transaction comes as no surprise, said Lionsgate's exec VP of television Rand Stoll, because TBS and TNT had previously bought "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion," while TBS has also scored solid ratings with the Perry-created sitcom "House of Payne," which the network runs in primetime stacks of four episodes every Wednesday from 9 to 11. Both "Why Did I Get Married?" and "Daddy's Little Girls" will have their pay TV premieres on Showtime before TBS gets "Why Did I Get Married?" in March 2010 and "Daddy's Little Girls" in July 2009. The TBS deal permits Lionsgate to carve out a window for sale of the Perry titles to another cable net, and the company is in talks with BET, which bought a window for "Mad Black Woman," reports Variety. Meanwhile, Lionsgate also sold Turner cable TV rights to the film "Pride," starring Bernie Mac and Terrence Howard about an inner city swim team.
Laila Ali To Host
Teen Makeover Series
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(November 7, 2007) *Nickelodeon's teen-centered cable channel The N has ordered eight episodes of a new teen makeover series to be hosted by boxing champ Laila Ali. "The N's Student Body," from Reveille, shadows a group of teens as they attempt to change their own lives — from diet and exercise to volunteering and academics – as well as the lives of their friends and families, reports Variety. Taped in Decatur, Ill., the show pits 12 kids from two rival high schools against each other. The teams are divided into groups of six, representing each school, that will face off in challenges such as building a park, or fixing their high school. Teens aren't eliminated traditionally, but will be occasionally removed if their performance isn't sufficient. The winning school will receive $25,000, while a winning teen will also receive $25,000 to put toward their college education. Ali, last seen as a contestant on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," will serve as a mentor to the teens in addition to hosting the show. The N will begin airing 24-hours, 7-days-a-week effective Dec. 31. The move will mark an official split from Noggin, the younger-skewing network with which it shares channel space. "The N's Student Body" will premiere sometime in 2008.
Road To Oz
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(November 01, 2007) We're off to see the wizard. ... once again!
When The Wizard of Oz begins previews Sunday afternoon at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, it will be yet another manifestation of one of the most enduring and endearing of all the 20th century's cultural artifacts.
This one stars Saccha Dennis as Dorothy and Sharron Matthews in the role of the Wicked Witch.
So much of the story first created by L. Frank Baum has become part of popular culture that all you have to do is say "ruby slippers" or "Cowardly Lion" and everyone will instantly know what you mean.
In fact, the mega-hit musical Wicked, which acts as a kind of prequel to The Wizard of Oz, assumes (and rightly so) that everyone in its audience is intimately familiar with the original narrative.
Where did this story come from? And what's made it take such lasting root in our collective psyche?
The origins are the easiest part of the puzzle. Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919) was a failed newspaper editor and actor who drifted into writing children's stories. He struck pay dirt with his 1900 creation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
He later wrote 13 sequels to the original, and, more important for our purposes, helped create a musical comedy based on his book.
When it opened on Broadway on Jan. 20, 1903, it bore the shortened title The Wizard of Oz, which is how it is now universally known. It ran 293 performances, which was very impressive for the period, was revived the following year and toured America extensively for years.
Two silent films were made (in 1910 and 1925), but neither made that great an impression and the old-fashioned stories might have faded into oblivion were it not for one man: Arthur Freed.
The popular composer ("Singin' in the Rain") had become a valuable part of the Hollywood scene once it switched to talkies, but he craved a career as a producer of big-budget musicals.
In 1938, Louis B. Mayer, the head of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, finally offered Freed the opportunity he had been seeking, telling him to find a property and make a movie.
Freed fondly remembered Baum's Oz stories from his childhood, negotiated the rights to them and immediately began to plan his debut.
On Feb. 24, 1938, Variety announced that MGM would make a musical from The Wizard of Oz, Freed would produce it and Garland would star.
Then it got complicated.
Eventually, 15 authors were to be responsible in one way or another for the screenplay, although it's generally agreed British playwright Noel Langley did most of the work.
After failing to persuade Jerome Kern or Richard Rodgers to write the score, Freed settled on the team of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, who provided some of the film's most memorable moments.
Early casting memos indicated that Frank Morgan was always to play the Wizard and Ray Bolger the Scarecrow, but Buddy Ebsen (later from The Beverly Hillbillies) was the first choice as the Tin Man and actually worked on the film for eight days until he suffered a severe inflammation of the lungs due to the aluminum-based makeup. Jack Haley replaced him.
Harburg had worked with Bert Lahr on Broadway and lobbied successfully for his pal to play the Cowardly Lion.
At one point, the Wicked Witch of the West was going to be played by Fanny Brice, then Edna Mae Oliver and finally Gale Sondergaard, before being given at the last moment to a schoolteacher-turned-actress from Cleveland named Margaret Hamilton.
But once they began shooting on Oct. 13, 1938, the real trouble began.
Richard Thorpe was the initial director, but was fired after the first week. George Cukor came in next and only lasted two days. Victor Fleming took over and shot most of the movie until, ironically, he had to quit to replace Cukor yet again on Gone With the Wind.
The rest of the film was finished by King Vidor and Mervyn LeRoy.
The entire thing took a then-frightening 136 days of shooting, which wrapped up March 16, 1939.
MGM's Mayer was so anxious to start seeing some returns from the enormous budget of $2.8 million that the film was rushed into previews by July 18, 1939.
Most audiences enjoyed it, but Mayer and his cronies felt the beginning dragged and wanted to cut Dorothy's first song, "Over the Rainbow."
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and a song classic escaped the cutting-room floor.
Interestingly enough, The Wizard of Oz was not a giant hit during its initial run, earning only $3 million. It was its subsequent re-releases and annual appearances on television starting in 1956 that truly made it part of our lives.
Why? There's something eternally reassuring about this story of a child who escapes into a fantasy world where all her hopes and fears come to the surface, only to learn that "there's no place like home."
There have been many takes on the story over the years including the black version, The Wiz, which launched a four-year Broadway run in 1975 and later became a lethal 1978 film starring Diana Ross.
Wicked just entered the fifth year of its run in New York and will soon have eight companies playing around the world.
It's a story we never tire of and as long as there are children around to dream about travelling where "happy little bluebirds fly," we probably never will.
Sorkin Pens Broadway Play
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic
(November 05, 2007) NEW YORK–If you wanted to tell the story of how television came to be, who better to do it than a man who has helped to reimagine the medium?
That's what director Des McAnuff thought the first time he picked up a script called The Farnsworth Invention, written by The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin.
"I closed the script," McAnuff said last week over a quick dinner between two preview performances, "and I said `Of course Aaron understands all this; he's been there.'"
The play, preparing for a Nov. 14 opening on Broadway, narrates the story of the long and torturous process that led to the creation of television, telling it from the point of view of two people simultaneously: David Sarnoff, the communications czar who played leading roles in RCA and NBC, and Philo Farnsworth, the eccentric inventor who figured out how to make electronic images dance across the screen.
It's filled with slashing wit, iconoclastic invention and intellectual challenge – all the things you associate with Sorkin. At a recent preview I attended, the audience greeted it with a standing ovation.
A nice way for Sorkin to come home. Most people instantly think of him in terms of his groundbreaking work in television as the creator of The West Wing, but long before that Sorkin was a Broadway baby.
The 46-year-old writer/director/producer became one of the youngest successful playwrights in history when his script for A Few Good Men broke big on Broadway in 1989 when he was only 28.
After a few years writing screenplays (like An American President) he moved towards television.
"The reason this is the perfect project for Aaron," surmises McAnuff, "is because it's for the theatre, but it's about television and that's the two directions he's been tugging in all his life."
Before Sorkin gave us Sports Night and then The West Wing, he became obsessed with Philo Farnsworth, the alcoholic loser and electronics genius.
"You have to understand this about Aaron," says McAnuff. "He carries around dozens of ideas at a time. His brain is bursting with concepts, possibilities, information. And that's how he was with Farnsworth."
For well over a decade, one of the things Sorkin did in his limited spare time was to research Farnsworth's story. After The West Wing, he wrote a screenplay, which was sold to New Line Cinema. But while the Hollywood wheels were slowly grinding, Sorkin had a change of heart and began reconstructing it as a play – his first in more than 15 years.
"At that point," McAnuff recalls, "Ben Barnes (artistic director) at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin contacted Aaron about writing a play for them and The Farnsworth Invention was there, just waiting to be finished."
By then, Sorkin and McAnuff had met and bonded. The writer wanted Dublin to wait until his chosen director was available. While McAnuff was turning Jersey Boys into a mega-hit, Barnes left the Abbey, the theatre was struggling through financial upheaval and an expensive new American play no longer seemed like such a good idea.
McAnuff was also about to leave the theatre he'd been running in La Jolla, Calif., to become one of the new artistic directors at the Stratford Festival, but he offered Sorkin the last slot in his "Stage to Page" development program, which had led to works like Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays becoming hits.
Then an impressive alliance of producers including Steven Spielberg, The Dodgers (McAnuff's allies on Jersey Boys) and Toronto's Aubrey Dan joined to bring the show to Broadway.
For a non-musical, it's a big show, with a $4 million (U.S.) budget and a cast of 19 actors playing 60 roles.
"Aaron is used to working on a big canvas," says McAnuff. "If you look at all of The West Wing, it's like a giant fresco or a tapestry, not just a series of small scenes from a TV show."
Heartbeat Sets Play's Rhythm
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(November 06, 2007) NEW YORK–There's a lot to listen to in Tom Stoppard's latest play, Rock 'n' Roll, which opened on Broadway Sunday night.
You've got the dizzying noise of 20 years of Czech history, a constant soundscape of eclectic pop music, and the underlying murmur of a family tearing itself apart and trying to put things back together.
But if you listen closely, there's one sound which will drown out all the others and it's a strange one to encounter at a Stoppard play.
It's the beating of a human heart.
What's even more surprising is that the empathetic organ in question doesn't belong to one of this dazzling play's characters, but rather to Stoppard himself.
For once, in a long, varied and distinguished career, the most erudite of all modern English playwrights has put his considerable intellect into the background and concentrated instead on what he feels about the people in this gloriously complex script.
And the end result is one of the most intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding pieces of theatre in the last decade: a combination not often found together on the same stage.
Stoppard takes us from 1968 when the Russians took over Czechoslovakia, through that magic night in 1990 when the Rolling Stones played a concert in Prague, a symbol of new freedom in the country.
In between, we follow our hero Jan as he rides the waves of being a political dissident: now in jail; now practically unemployable; now briefly in favour again.
At the same time, we keep cross-cutting back to England, where the old socialist lion Max roars his defiance at the Thatcher government, his classics scholar wife Eleanor is ravaged by cancer and his hippie daughter Esmé is wooed in song by Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett.
How do you juggle all of this together? You need the brilliance of Stoppard's virtuoso writing and the quietly assured direction of Trevor Nunn, working together in blissful tandem.
It's the kind of play so filled with information that you almost feel your head is going to explode in Act I, but Stoppard and Nunn stop just short of intellectual ravishment and allow you enough dignity to put the pieces together in Act II.
A brilliant cast completes the theatrical equation. Sinead Cusack is sublime in a double turn where she plays the cancer-ravaged Eleanor in Act I, only to come back as her aging hippie daughter Esmé in Act II.
Brian Cox rages brilliantly as Max but allows us to see behind the bluff façade when we need to, and Rufus Sewell is perfection as the dissident Jan, who is more devoted to his rock albums than anything Vaclav Havel might say.
If you don't think it's possible to see a play that offers you enough intellectual food to nourish you for a year, while also providing sufficient emotional content to fill your heart to the bursting point, then you haven't seen Rock 'n' Roll.
We need to have this astonishing play produced in Toronto, but in the meantime, hurry to New York to see how magical a piece of theatre can be.
Elizabeth Hay Surprise Winner Of Canada's Richest Literary Prize
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Philip Marchand, Books Columnist
(November 07, 2007) Elizabeth Hay was the surprise winner of this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize, worth $40,000, for her novel set at a radio station in Yellowknife.
A moved Hay told the audience at last night's gala, "I think the operative phrase here is, `Take the money and run.' I'm very thrilled and very lucky, so lucky in fact that I will probably be hit by a truck tomorrow, so it's important that I say my thank yous now."
The Ottawa-based author of Late Nights on Air went on to thank her editor at McClelland & Stewart, Ellen Seligman, everyone at the company "who put such effort and care into producing books," her agent, Bella Pomer, and her husband, Mark Fried.
The prize jury chose Hay from a short list of five finalists. The list included M. G. Vassanji, author of The Assassin's Song, the story of a young man in India conflicted between modernity and ancient religious beliefs, and the only novelist to win the Giller twice – in 1994 and 2003.
Before the announcement, the clear front-runner among the finalist was Michael Ondaatje (Divisadero), who previously won for his novel Anil's Ghost in 2000, the only year two finalists took home the prize; fellow novelist David Adams Richards was co-winner for Mercy Among the Children.
The two first-time nominees this year were Daniel Poliquin (A Secret Between Us), a noted advocate of Franco-Ontarian cultural and political interests, and Alissa York, whose novel Effigy deals with a girl in a 19th-century Mormon community who is also a taxidermist.
Each finalist received $2,500.
Hay, who was born in Owen Sound in 1951, grew up in small Ontario towns before attending the University of Toronto and working as a broadcaster for CBC radio, first in Yellowknife and later in Winnipeg and Toronto. Hay travelled widely for many years, an experience cited by broadcaster Pamela Wallin, who presented Hay's novel to the audience at the Giller Prize dinner.
Hay told the Star, "When I was young I wanted to see the different parts of Canada, from Newfoundland to the rain forests of British Columbia and the Arctic. I did manage to see them all when I was in my 20s."
Of her northern experiences – the basis of her novel – Hay said, "Of course going north is also going home in a way, because we do live in a northern country and the further north you go the more you're part of the place you're actually from."
Tonight's award was in keeping with a certain Giller Prize tradition. Of the 14 previous winners, 10 were books published by either McClelland & Stewart or Doubleday Canada. This year's award – given to a McClelland & Stewart book – makes it 11 out of 15.
Jurors this year were novelists David Bergen and Camilla Gibb, and painter, poet and writer Lorna Goodison. The event was broadcast live last night on Bravo!
The award was founded in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife Doris Giller.
17,000 Take Ride On `Dane
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(November 03, 2007) While comedy fans had a lot of choice last night – a Just for Laughs showcase; Greg "He's Just Not That Into You" Behrendt at Massey Hall – the real big fish in town was Dane Cook, who performed in front of 17,000 people at the Air Canada Centre.
It was the kick-off for his new Rough Around The Edges tour, the kind of huge arena tour that rarely happens in the world of stand-up comedy, but if anyone can pull this off, it's Cook, who is everywhere right now. He was the face of the Major League Baseball during the playoffs, on DVD, he's in the recent release Mr. Brooks, and on the big screen, he shares face time with Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life. His next album – the last two have been the biggest selling comedy albums in decades – comes out Nov. 13. With all that activity, there is a Cook backlash brewing – joke theft is a charge that his critics often lob – but at the ACC, there weren't many complaining. The 20-something crowd was just happy for their ride on the "Dane Train."
Entering after a short video of talk show clips, but mostly of other fans giving the "Su-Fi" or the "super finger," a hand signal he has taken as his symbol, Cook performed for more than an hour and a half.
Cook has a meandering, observational style: "I could never fight in a war, because I hate backpacks. And heat. I could fight somewhere where it's balmy. You know, like the war of Aruba. And they would need to get me an assistant to carry things. It would be `Jeeves?" and he would say `Fully loaded, sir.'"
He swears often, and is quite lewd. But he's also current and topical – he can get a laugh for simply dropping the name of a video game – although we must admit to being amused by a line linking Super Mario Bros. and masturbation. If there is anything that sets him apart, it is his boisterous delivery, and he did a good job with silly sound effects.
He is also known as Mr. MySpace – he's got more than 2 million friends – and he did take interactivity to a new level. When telling an older bit about Kool-Aid, he then called up an audience member on stage to tell his joke. "It's the first stand-up comedy duet." The fan told half the joke, and another one was called up to finish it. The crowd and Cook loved it, professing that he'd never done that before. Maybe not, but we're sure it's going to become a standard, and, being the showman that he is, he'll pretend it's just as spontaneous every night.
Google Teams With Myspace
In Battle Of Internet Titans
By Jessica Guynn and Joseph Menn, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
(November 2, 2007) MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. — Internet search company Google Inc. is joining forces with MySpace to make it easier to create programs for the biggest social networking site, a move that draws sharp battle lines with their respective rivals, Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc.
Stealing some thunder from fast-growing Facebook, Google and MySpace said Thursday that software developers could now use a common technology standard Google had created to build features for MySpace users.
Called OpenSocial, the standard also can be used on other participating social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Friendster.
The standard is a boon for small outfits, which no longer need to customize their programs for each site. A developer could, for example, create a software widget that would let My- Space users book travel plans, and put that widget on other participating sites as well.
The alliance is a counterpunch to the momentum of fast-growing Facebook, which has been fueled by thousands of new programs added by developers since the Palo Alto-based social network opened up its site in May.
It also shows how the social-networking world is commanding the attention of far bigger companies. The deal comes just a week after Mountain View, Calif.-based Google lost out to archrival Microsoft for the right to invest in Facebook, and it now pits two of the largest five U.S. companies by market value squarely against each other on yet another front.
"Everybody is lining up, picking sides and buying weapons," analyst Rob Enderle said. "This is going to be bloody for a while. The battle for the social networking space is going to be hard fought."
MySpace Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe predicted that OpenSocial would become the "de facto standard for developing applications instantly out of the gates."
Google said all social networks had been invited to take part in the OpenSocial network. "Nobody is excluded," Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said.
But a Facebook spokeswoman said the company had not been briefed.
"When we have had a chance to understand the technology, then Facebook will evaluate participation relative to the benefits to its 50 million users and 100,000 platform developers," Brandee Barker said.
Another popular social network, Bebo.com, will participate in OpenSocial along with Hi5 Networks Inc., LinkedIn Corp., Ning Inc. and Friendster Inc., as well as Salesforce.com Inc. and Oracle Corp., both of which sell software to businesses.
The addition of so many major players could put pressure on Facebook to join the coalition. The OpenSocial network is expected to reach more than 200 million Web users.
OpenSocial is unlikely to have any immediate effect on Facebook's popularity, but it could boost social networks left in the digital dust by MySpace and Facebook, including Google-run Orkut, which is popular in Brazil and India but never gained traction in the United States.
Google also benefits in another way: As developers build more programs helping social networks gain more users, it is likely to sell more ads.
Talks with Santa Monica-based MySpace, which has 110 million users, kicked off about a year ago, Schmidt said. In August 2006, Google struck a $900-million advertising partnership with MySpace and other websites owned by News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media. At the time, Google said it was drawn to MySpace's rapid growth.
Google announced the OpenSocial platform Tuesday, just days after losing out to Microsoft in the blockbuster deal that valued 3-year-old Facebook at $15 billion.
Facebook has vaulted over rivals to become the social network with the greatest momentum, adding about 1 million users a week. A flood of free software programs -- to join causes, book travel, turn your friends into virtual zombies -- has been a hit with users. Millions of users signed up for the most popular programs in a matter of weeks.
But Facebook's approach is in stark contrast to the one taken by Google and its partners. Facebook requires developers to use its proprietary software language to write programs. With Google's OpenSocial, developers now have the option of using a common language for many social networks. The biggest Facebook developers, including Slide, RockYou, iLike and Flixter, have all said they plan to do so.
Facebook also had endeared itself to developers by allowing them to advertise on its pages, while MySpace has not. MySpace executives have said change is coming, including ad-sharing for some programmers.
A question unanswered by Thursday's events was whether the financial terms of OpenSocial programs would stay the same from one site to another. That has yet to be sorted out, people familiar with the process said.
An Expat Can Feel Like A Foreign Object
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman
(November 01, 2007) VANCOUVER — Nancy Huston isn't feeling a lot of love from English Canada. The Calgary-born writer, who has lived in France for more than 30 years, says she gets a rough ride from critics and the media in the country of her birth. “English Canada has been unkinder to me in the press than any other country in the world,” she says. “Maybe because it was as though in choosing France and French [language], I had gone over to the other side or something like that, which is ridiculous.”
Huston is particularly rankled by a review in a Canadian newspaper that compared her novel Fault Lines to the blockbuster thriller The Da Vinci Code. “[It was] the worst thing I've heard in my life about me,” she says. “I thought I would throw up.”
Huston recounted her online discovery of The Da Vinci Code comparison at a recent reading in Vancouver, and the audience howled with horrified laughter.
Huston, 54, was born in Calgary, but moved to France in the 1970s and has remained there. While she admits that she hasn't “ever written a word in Canada,” she says the fact that she spent her childhood in this county has had a deep impact on her life and her writing. “I've been formed in-depth by the Canadian countryside, Canadian language, songs and food, and everything I was absorbing during those very formative years.”
Huston is the author of more than 20 books, including The Mark of the Angel (short-listed for both the 1999 Giller Prize and the French-language Governor-General's Literary Award; her translation of the novel into English was also nominated for a G-G). She won the 1993 French language Governor-General's Literary Award for her novel Cantique des plaines. Fault Lines, her most recent novel, was awarded the Prix Femina (for the French version, Lines de faille) last year – one of France's most prestigious literary prizes (it can go to a man or woman, but is decided by a female jury).
Fault Lines is the story of several generations of one family, beginning in 2004 and moving backward to the Second World War. It is told in four parts, each from the perspective of a six-year-old child from a different generation. It begins with Sol, a pampered, overprotected narcissist; and ends in 1944 Germany with his great-grandmother Kristina, a curious, well-adjusted girl whose father and big brother are off fighting for the Nazis.
The book has been generally well reviewed, but it is also controversial – in particular the portrayal of Sol and his American family. Sol is a sexually charged little boy, who gets turned on by Abu Ghraib images.
He masturbates in his bedroom, at his parents' computer and in church, while imagining scenes of carnage and sexual violence from the Iraq war. And some of this has made publishers in the United States uncomfortable.
Huston, who wrote the novel in English and then translated it into French herself, was asked to change passages in the English version – in particular for the U.S. market – and has refused. “I'm not changing anything,” she insists. “To please a publisher? It's like saying to Cezanne – would you mind painting Golden Delicious instead of Macintosh apples in your painting?”
That's why the French version wound up being published before the English original, and also why it has taken so long to secure a U.S. publishing deal (in the wake of last month's Frankfurt book fair, a U.S. deal is now in the works, but hasn't been finalized). Huston says her agents also had a difficult time finding a publisher in England (Atlantic Books finally came on board, convinced to do so by her Australian publisher, Text). The book is published in Canada by McArthur & Company.
What hasn't been controversial, and Huston is thankful for this, is her sympathetic portrayal of the Nazi family. The Nazi mother is the strongest maternal character in the story. The reader feels her pain as she suffers a tremendous loss. When her son sets off to join the army, the reader does not picture an evil man at the switch of a concentration-camp gas chamber, but a loved son and brother, with a future torn away from him.
Huston, whose stepmother is German, grew up with much exposure to Germans, Germany and, yes, former Nazis. She saw them as people, not monsters – and still does. “I got very impatient with people's after-the-fact righteous indignation, meting out bad marks to the German people, because it seems to me that it's always very easy with hindsight to say what people are doing wrong,” Huston says.
This perspective has led to some personal discomfort. A dinner with a friend of a friend in Israel, the child of Holocaust survivors, ended badly when Huston expressed sympathy for the German suffering during and after the Second World War, in response to which her new acquaintance said he wished they had all died.
But Huston believes that there is now a tolerance and even an appetite for Second World War stories from the German perspective. She points out that her book is being translated into Hebrew and an Israeli filmmaker is interested in adapting the story.
As for how the book will be viewed in the U.S., once it is published there, Huston claims not to care. But some readers may balk at her portrayal of a society that coddles its children to the point of creating a generation of young megalomaniacs, a society where even the hint of violent behaviour is not tolerated at the playground but where popular culture glorifies violence and troops are sent off to kill people in other countries. “It's the paradox, it's the irony,” she says, clearly critical of a culture she says she is intimately familiar with (she lived in the U.S. for a time and has family there). Thinking about how a friend of hers was denounced as a child abuser by passersby on an American beach because he had been blowing kisses onto his one-year-old daughter's tummy, Huston says of Americans: “They're insane. They're insane. I mean, some of them.”
Still, she says, the best reaction she has ever received at a reading of Fault Lines was in upper New York State. “Nowhere have I gotten as many laughs,” she says. “People were just rolling in the aisles.”
That experience tells her that she succeeded in finding Sol's voice and that Americans will be able to relate to the difficult character. Even if they can't accept Sol initially, she urges people to reread the first chapter once they have finished the book. And that is one of the major messages of Fault Lines: You can't really understand someone until you know where they're coming from.
Will The Real Sarah
Silverman Please Stand Up?
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Television Critic
(November 03, 2007) LOS ANGELES–She isn't at all what you might expect. Except that she also kind of is.
In fact, it is only one side of the comely, caustic comedian you see in her scatological stand-up act. She displays yet another on The Sarah Silverman Program, now halfway through its second six-episode season here on the Comedy Network (Thursday nights at 10:30).
And then there's the Sarah Silverman who sits before me now, coquettishly curled up on a couch in the middle of a promotional photo shoot.
The whole cast is here, milling about – including Doug the Dog, snuggled up next to Silverman, wearing a "Sarah" T-shirt.
"I feel guilty," she confesses, scratching Doug behind the ears. "I mean, this is my actual dog. I feel like such a scummy showbiz mom.
"I thought it would be easy, and for the most part it is – the only scenes he's really in are in bed at the end of the night. So it's nothing for him; he doesn't even notice.
"But we just did an episode where he has, like, an actual storyline, and I just felt terrible."
You see what I mean. There is a very fine line between Sarah Silverman, the comic, and Sarah Silverman, the actress, and Sarah Silverman, the real person, and the Sarah Silverman of Sarah Silverman.
Particularly the latter two.
Doug is the real Sarah's actual dog. Actress Laura Silverman, who plays her younger sister Laura, is actually her older sister Laura.
In real life, she's one of three sisters – Jody Speyer is a screenwriter, and Susan Abramowitz-Silverman is a feminist rabbi.
I know this sounds like a set-up for a Silverman punchline. But it isn't.
The girls were raised in suburban middle-class Bedford, N.H., by (the actually not dead) Donald and Beth Ann Silverman.
The young real-life Sarah grew up loving comedy – she actually had the words "I love Steve Martin" scrawled across her bedroom ceiling – and, as an adult, loving comedians, dating almost exclusively the likes of Dave Attell and Colin Quinn, and currently, since 2002, talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel.
On the TV show, she is single – though in next week's episode, she picks up where she left off after last season's sexual liaison with God.
Yeah, I know ... It's that kind of comedy.
Surprisingly, the show's perversely satirical sensibility is less about embracing TV taboos than it is a genuine and quite unexpected appreciation for the classic sitcom.
"I don't think of it as parody," Silverman insists. "That makes me wince. It's really a love of the conventions of sitcom – I mean, really.
"I am a huge fan of television. I am a huge fan of every kind of television. I've seen every episode of Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Taxi, Barney Miller, M*A*S*H, It's Your Move, Silver Spoons, My Two Dads ..."
She allows, "You know, I was always thinking, like, `I want to do movies.'" And I guess I would like to be in movies, whatever ... But I realize that I'm getting to do this show, a show I completely believe in 100 per cent, that is my vision and I don't have to be, like, the hot girl's best friend anymore (see sidebar)."
Two other major differences between the TV Sarah and the real deal: On the show, she coasts through life, unemployed and unconcerned. In real life, she has a healthy work ethic.
"We just finished the last of six (episodes) and then we go back and write the next 10. And then we shoot them, and then I'm off for three months doing stand-up.
"I'm barely going to make it. I don't know how I'm going to live through it ... and then it's a race to try to get home to sleep for the next day. But you don't want to go right to sleep, because then you don't have any kind of life."
What's a girl to do? On the show, Sarah gets whacked on cough syrup. In real life, it's Red Bull.
"Every day, about two hours after lunch, I have a meltdown," she admits. "And then someone brings me a Diet Red Bull and everything's back on track again.
"It's really pathetic. It's like being an alcoholic. I don't drink, but that's what I hear.
"Or like being a drug addict. I mean, I really like – I really need – that boost of whatever's in that s---. Otherwise I'm just gonna be c---y."
Now that's the Sarah Silverman we know and love.
So You Think You Can Sing?
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron
(November 07, 2007) Wanting a ballet for your company repertoire is one thing. Getting the rights to perform the work is quite another. In order to secure Jerome Robbins's West Side Story Suite for the National Ballet of Canada, artistic director Karen Kain had to prove to the Jerome Robbins Trust and Foundation that her company could not just dance the piece, but sing it as well.
"I wanted to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Jerome Robbins's death," Kain says, "but I needed a work that would bring people into the theatre and West Side Story Suite was the obvious choice. I also felt that it had a contemporary resonance, given the subject matter of young people and gang warfare. What I didn't know was could the dancers sing?"
The tribute to Jerome Robbins opens tomorrow and features Glass Pieces (1983), a sleek, modern and minimalist choreographic mirror of the music of Philip Glass, and In the Night (1970), which uses Chopin Nocturnes to capture the lush romance and tortured passion of young love. Kain readily admits that, as masterful as these two pieces are, they would not sell tickets.
Her ace in the hole is West Side Story Suite, which contains all the dance numbers from the hit 1957 musical by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Robbins's dance suite is, in fact, a mini-narrative ballet in its own right - a perfect microcosm of the musical condensed to 35 minutes. "Even people who have never seen West Side Story will know the story through these dances," Robbins biographer Amanda Vaill says.
West Side Story Suite was created for the 1989 musical Jerome Robbins' Broadway, a retrospective of the choreographer's greatest numbers. Robbins then set the suite in 1995 for New York City Ballet, and it's become a crown jewel in the repertoire. The National is the first to perform it outside Robbins's home company.
Of the seven songs that make up West Side Story Suite, two require solo singing and one uses a chorus. Kain contacted Elaine Overholt, a Toronto-based singing coach who whipped Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere into vocal shape for the film Chicago. Overholt's task was to screen the company in search of dancers who could take on the characters of Riff, Anita and Rosalia, as well as find potential chorus members.
In the song Cool, Riff, the leader of the Jets, tries to keep his gang members calm before the rumble with the Puerto Rican Sharks. The Latin-infused America is a fast and furious musical argument between Puerto Rican gang molls Anita and Rosalia about the merits of their native island versus New York. The finale, Somewhere Ballet, is sung by a professional singer offstage, but she is joined by the chorus of dancers in the final moments.
"Singing runs counter to ballet training," Overholt says. "For proper vocals, the upper body has reduced tension and the lower body is grounded in order to relax the vocal chords. For ballet dancers, a lot of the energy and tension goes upward into the beautiful lift of the shoulders and arms."
Overholt first gave the company singing classes, which included a lot of exercises where they had to vocalize and move at the same time. She then gave them each a CD that had the two songs, including a karaoke version, for them to practise with at home. Two weeks later, the dancers had their individual meetings with Overholt and she videotaped their performance and presentation. Everyone had to participate, and for some of the dancers for whom English is a second language, it was a real struggle.
"I don't follow ballet so I didn't know who were principals and who were corps de ballet, but I found at least three singers for each part and a goodly number who could sing in unison," Overholt says.
Her report to the Robbins Trust had to indicate how many dancers could pull off solo roles or become part of the chorus. "My recommendation was a resounding yes that the National could pull off this ballet from a vocal point of view."
After Overholt's report, New York City Ballet's dance master, Jean-Pierre Frohlich, was sent by the trust last March to watch classes and rehearsals.
His job was to see if the National's "singers" could execute the high energy, Broadway-style, ballet/jazz fusion choreography in sneakers and character shoes. They also had to look the part as well.
Frohlich's choices cut through all the ranks of the National. Corps dancer Noah Long shares the role of Riff with principal dancer Guillaume Côté, and corps member Jordana Daumec joins soloists Je-An Salas and Stephanie Hutchison as Rosalia. Hutchison also performs Anita along with principal dancers Greta Hodgkinson and Jennifer Fournier.
When the piece was first done by NYCB, Frohlich says, the singing roles were performed by Broadway professionals. Within three or four years, however, the company was casting from within its own ranks. "The big problem for dancers is hearing their voice through a mike for the first time," he explains. "They wear wireless packs in their hair, and if they're really nervous, they'll project too much and distort the sound. It's a whole other part of the body that they have to consider."
For his part, the National's music director and conductor, David Briskin, says he had to become a showbiz producer. He has been holding auditions for Broadway-style singers to perform offstage - a man to sing Tony's Something's Coming, a woman to perform Somewhere and three women to be the chorus in America.
Another new duty Briskin picked up is one-on-one vocal coaching with the dancers. In the vibrant acoustics of the new opera house, he taught them to keep their voices at a level he calls realistic.
Both Hodgkinson and Côté have taken singing and coaching lessons outside the company to beef up their skills. "I like the fact that Broadway dancing is not so much about technique and line, as it is about the style and the spirit of the dance," Hodgkinson says. "It's hard work, but great fun as well. The company is exhilarated by the experience."
Côté, a gifted composer in his own right, equates jumping from ballet to Broadway dance to a classical musician suddenly trying to play jazz. He finds the choreography sharp, precise, quick and subtle as opposed to ballet's stretching out the body. "I have new found respect for Britney Spears because she can do all that choreography and sing at the same time," he says with a wry laugh.
Jerome Robbins: the new bio
For her definitive 2007 biography Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, writer Amanda Vaill was given unfettered access to the legendary choreographer/director's private journals. What she found was a public icon who lived a life of private contradictions. For example, Robbins was an avowed homosexual, but his lovers also included women such as actress Natalie Wood. "The central issue that dominates his writings is guilt," Vaill says. "He felt he had betrayed his Jewish heritage by repudiating his name and betrayed his friends, mostly Jews, by naming names in 1953 when he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee." Born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz in New York in 1918 to Russian immigrants, Robbins began his career as a Broadway hoofer before becoming a dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. His fame exploded at the age of 23 when ABT presented his ballet Fancy Free to music by Leonard Bernstein, which grew into the hit Broadway musical On The Town. His long association with New York City Ballet began in 1949, when George Balanchine invited Robbins to join the company as a dancer, choreographer and associate artistic director.
The National's Tribute to Jerome Robbins runs at the Four Seasons Centre Nov. 8 to 18.
Diana Ross To Head Star Line-Up At Air Jamaica Jazz And Blues
Source: Marshall Fenn Communications
(November 1, 2007) - Kingston, Jamaica - Diana Ross will lead a star-studded line-up when the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival rocks Montego Bay January 24 through 26, 2008, at Rose Hall Resort & Country Club. Once named “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard Magazine, this great icon of the music world will be joined by Anita Baker, Billy Ocean, Hugh Masekela, Beres Hammond, Marjorie Whylie, Ryan Shaw and Yerba Buena.
Crossing All Generation Gaps
“The 2008 festival will present some of the most influential musicians of our time, plus a sensational line-up of hot new talent,” said Walter Elmore, executive producer of the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and president of Turn Key Productions. “It’s an extraordinary program, and no doubt the performers will once again cross all generation gaps. This is going to be a thrilling time for everyone to celebrate in Jamaica.”
Director of Tourism Basil Smith commented: “The annual Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is one of the most anticipated events on our calendar. Visitors from all continents come together with residents for an unforgettable experience. Great talent, warm Jamaican hospitality, and a beautiful setting … it’s the ideal way to kick off the new year.”
Up-to-the-minute details and ticket information are available at www.airjamaicajazzandblues.com.
Value-Added Packages for 2008 Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues
Special packages will make the 2008 festival attractively affordable for all jazz and blues enthusiasts. Alken Tours is offering three-night packages ranging from US$210 at El Greco Hotel to US$535 at Rose Hall Resort & Country Club. Rates are per person, based on double occupancy, and are inclusive of on-island airport transfers. Packages do not include airfare or tickets to the festival. More details about these and additional packages are available at www.alkentours.com.
About the Jamaica Tourist Board
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), founded in 1955, is Jamaica’s national tourism agency based in the capital city of Kingston. The JTB was declared the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist and Convention Bureau by the World Travel Awards (WTA) for 2006, while Jamaica earned the WTA’s vote as the World’s Leading Cruise Destination, the Caribbean’s Leading Destination and the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination.
JTB offices are located in Kingston, Montego Bay, Miami, Toronto and London. Representative offices are located in Düsseldorf, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam and Tokyo.
For details on upcoming special events, attractions and accommodations in Jamaica go to the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Web site at www.visitjamaica.com, or call the Jamaica Tourist Board at 1-800-JAMAICA (1-800-526-2422).
No Pain, Know Gain! (4 Knee-Safe Exercises)
By Raphael Calzadilla, B.A., CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
(Nov. 11, 2007) Perform an Internet search concerning knee injuries, and you’ll find a lot of information about how to treat an injury. Where are all the articles about attempting to prevent knee injuries?
In the simplest of descriptions, the knee is a joint comprised of three bones and held together by four ligaments. Its job is to support the body and allow for shock absorption.
From this description, it’s obvious that excess body fat will place tremendous stress on the knees.
The first strategy to adopt in order to prevent knee injuries is to reduce body fat. The second is to perform exercises that strengthen the surrounding muscles of the knees.
Here are several suggested exercises to help prevent knee injury:
Squats build strength in the lower body with an emphasis on the quadriceps (front of the thigh). If one is overweight, then chair squats without the use of weight can be performed. A lowering to a parallel position is not critical for those with excess weight. In fact, a partial lowering may be a better strategy to initially protect the knee while strengthening the quadriceps.
• Perform this exercise with the aid of a sturdy chair.
• Stand in front of the chair with your back toward the chair and feet shoulder-width apart.
• Keep your head up as a natural extension of your spine.
• Begin to sit in the chair. lowering your body until your legs are at a 90 degree angle (if possible).
• Contracting your quadriceps, slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the legs being fully extended. Keep a slight bend in the knees.
• Inhale while sitting in the chair.
• Exhale while raising yourself from the chair.
• As you get stronger, you will want to add resistance such as dumbbells in your hands.
Now that we’ve worked the front of the leg, it’s time to access the rear of the legs -- the hamstrings.
Here’s one anyone can do. If you’re experienced and have access to gym equipment, you can use the prone leg curl machine. For beginners, try the one below. Again, we are attempting to strengthen surrounding muscles of the knees in order to reduce stress on the knees.
Lying Double Leg Curl
• Lie on your stomach with both hands under your head for comfort.
• Ankle weights may be worn to increase intensity.
• Contracting the hamstrings muscles, curl both legs toward your buttocks stopping when your knees are at a 90 degree angle.
• Slowly return to the starting position.
• Exhale while you curl your legs up.
• Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Now we move to the inside of the legs –- also referred to as the adductor muscles. Our goal is to completely strengthen the upper leg in order to protect those "shock absorbers."
Lying Leg Adduction
• Lie on your right side with your right arm supporting your upper body.
• Your right leg should be straight, and your left leg should be bent.
• Support your weight on your right arm and left leg.
• Contracting the inner thigh muscles, lift your right leg up until you feel a contraction of the inner thigh muscles.
• After completing the set on the right side, perform the exercise on the left side.
• Exhale while lifting your leg up.
• Inhale while returning to the starting position.
• You may use ankle weights to increase the level of difficulty.
• If you are an intermediate exerciser, you can add resistance to the inner thigh as you are lifting. You can resist your inner thigh with your hand or use a weighted object.
Now, let’s make sure we strengthen the muscles below the knee. People seldom work their calf muscles, and this is a critical muscle that helps support the knees.
Standing Calf Raise
• Stand with your feet 12 inches apart with your weight on the front or balls of the foot and knees slightly bent.
• You may wish to use a chair or wall for stability.
• Contracting the calf muscles, lift your heels off the floor until you feel a full contraction of the calf muscles.
• Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your heels touching the floor.
• Exhale while lifting yourself up.
• Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Perform the above exercises for one to three sets of 12 repetitions on two to three alternate days of the week, and use impeccable form.
The exercises above combined with a nutrition program that focuses on body fat reduction will greatly assist in preventing knee injuries. Make sure to add upper body strength exercises, cardio and flexibility exercises to your program as well.
As always, eDiets members can access the animated virtual trainer on the fitness program to view a demo of the above exercises.
Please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Motivational Note - Your Input Determines Your Output
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Willie Jolley, Host of the “Willie Jolley Show” on XM 169 –The Power!
Before you change your thinking, you have to change what goes into your mind. To change where you are going, you must first change your thinking. Your thinking affects how you act and therefore what you do, just as to change your weight and health you must change what you eat. And the same is true for your mind. You must fill your mind with positive, healthy, inspirational, and encouraging material and get rid of the things that will kill your dreams and aspirations: doubt, fear, and negative thinking. Just as you are what you eat, you are exactly what you think about. Remember that your input always determines your output. Change your thinking and change your life!