October 11, 2007
I dedicate this edition to my family's beloved Ed Kearnan (my brother-in-law Lorne's dad and sister Ruth's father-in-law) who passed away while preparing for everyone's arrival as my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night. His humour and generosity will be missed - for arrangements, go HERE.
This week brings you a couple of hot events - Sarah Melody's Pre-Release Party and Kayte Burgess' Farewell Party as she moves to Atlanta! Check the details for both below!
I have a great opportunity at Cirque du Soleil for the right musicians! Check out under OPPORTUNITY below.
Sarah Melody Pre-Release Party - October 16, 2007
Source: Angel Tours & Entertainment
This is one Melody you won't forget! On Tuesday, October 16th, 17-year-old Sarah Melody, a rising pop star on the Canadian music scene, is poised to share her talent with the world at The Mod Club. Featuring a performance by Sarah Melody, backed by a live band and hosted by the hilarious Trixx from FLOW 93.5 and MuchMusic's Video on Trial. Opening performance is PJ Wilson (915 The BEAT talent search winner).
Melody’s debut album, Side Two, is a diverse collection of ballads, smooth R&B joints and up-tempo pop hits. Side Two features tracks produced by award-winning producers Luke McMaster (Canadian Idol winners Ryan Malcolm & Kalan Porter), Perry Alexander (Keshia Chanté, Shawn Desman, George) and Marcus Kane (Snow, Gary Beals, X-Quisite).
Sarah Melody - Side Two is available online October 16, 2007 at www.sarahmelody.com and includes Sarah's smash single "Stand Back" (featuring Snow) and radio hits "Hooked" and "I Wanna".
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2007
SARAH MELODY PRE-RELEASE PARTY
722 College Street West
Doors open at 7 pm
This event is FREE!
Kayte Burgess Official Send Off, Release and Appreciation Party
- Sunday, October 21
Have you heard the Kayte Burgess track ‘Call You Out’ on FLOW 93.5? Yes? Well, the track is from her sophomore album called Checked Baggage. And Kayte wants to have a party to celebrate its release on October 16, 2007 – available everywhere! Come and celebrate with us at the official online and retail release party on October 21, 2007 at Harlem! And guess what else!?
This is also Kayte’s birthday AND an official send off as she makes the big move to Atlanta to capitalize on opportunities that have materialized! The night will consist of a showcase of the new material with DJ Carl Allen spinning all night. And in thanks, Kayte will be giving 5 copies of her album away!
Checked Baggage saw Kayte criss-cross the continent from Toronto to Los Angeles to New York City to record nearly 50 tracks for this independent full-length release. Tracks feature collaborations with Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Tribe Called Quest), Joel Joseph and Adrian Eccleston (Nelly Furtado), 2Rude and Graph Nobel among others.
In Toronto , Kayte has backed up Lionel Ritchie (on Canadian Idol) and Al Green and opened for Divine Brown in addition to performing at dozens of profile concerts as a solo artist and as part of ensemble units over the last eight years.
Come to Harlem on Sunday - a special night in more ways than one!
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2007
KAYTE BURGESS APPRECIATION PARTY
67 Richmond St. E. (Church and Richmond)
Casting Musicians for Cirque du Soleil
I am helping to cast some spots in Cirque Du Soleil. They've asked me to find a bass/double bass player. This would be what they call an immediate permanent position for one of their shows in TOKYO! It starts March 3, 2008 and is a 2 year commitment, which can be negotiated down to 1 1/2 years. If you think you are a suitable candidate, you would provide me with a demo (if you have myspace, I could download it) and a formal bio. But I would prefer something on disk and if you have a performance video, that would be useful.
We are also looking for a saxist/keyboard player/bandleader. This is also for an immediate position which would start in April or May 2008 for a 6 month term. Again, .if you think you are a suitable candidate, you would provide me with a demo (if you have myspace, I could download it) and a formal bio. But I would prefer something on disk and if you have a performance video, that would be useful.
Please email me at email@example.com with further inquiries.
18-Yr.-Old Shooting Victim Succumbs To Injuries
Source: CityNews.ca Staff
[Note from Dawn: Please pray for this family as the now deceased, Keegan Allen aka Speckz, is the son of promoter Carol Allen of CarreBizness/Platinum Star Entertainment/Aloette Cosmetics and Contributing Entertainment & Beauty Writer for WE Magazine.]
(Oct. 10, 2007) An 18-year-old man who was shot in the head at a dance competition earlier this week died in hospital Wednesday.
Keegan Allen had been on life support since the shooting early Monday. Police said the victim was shot inside the Hungarian House in the Bathurst and St. Clair area, while awards were being handed out for a reggae-hip hop dance contest. Between 600 and 800 people were inside the venue at the time of the incident.
Police are urging witnesses to come forward. If you know anything that can help with the investigation, call (416) 808-1304 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at (416) 222-TIPS.
Man Shot In Head In Critical
Source: CityNews.ca Staff
(Monday October 8, 2007) It may be Thanksgiving but a couple of families whose loved ones were victims to random acts of gun violence overnight are feeling everything but thankful.
An 18-year-old man is not expected to survive after being shot in the head at a dance competition around 2am Monday (pictured). Police said the victim was shot inside the Hungarian House in the Bathurst and St. Clair area, while awards were being handed out for a reggae-hip hop dance contest. Between 600 and 800 people were inside when the gunshots rang out, but so far police don't have leads on any suspects.
Toronto Homicide Squad Sgt. Frank Skubic is appealing for witnesses to come forward. "I can't emphasize enough to those who were inside at the time of the shooting, if anyone recorded any of the proceedings with their digital cameras or cell phones then we'd certainly like to speak with them."
Marion Jones Admits To Steroid Use
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 5, 2007) *The five medals won by Marion Jones in Sydney may be in jeopardy after the track sprinter sent a letter to close family and friends admitting that she used steroids before the 2000 Olympics.
Jones said she took "the clear" for two years, beginning in 1999, and that she received it from former coach Trevor Graham, who told her it was flaxseed oil, reports the Washington Post.
"The clear" is a performance-enhancing drug linked to BALCO, the lab at the center of a federal steroids investigation. Until now, Jones had repeatedly denied she ever took any form of performance-enhancing drugs.
Jones said she will plead guilty today in New York to two counts of lying to federal agents about her drug use and an unrelated financial matter, the Post reported.
"I want to apologize for all of this," the Post reported her saying, quoting a person who received a copy of the letter and read it to the paper. "I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways."
Jones won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she emerged as one of the United States' brightest stars. But her reputation took a hit in subsequent years by repeated allegations of steroid use.
In her letter, Jones said she lied when she was questioned in 2003 by federal agents investigating BALCO, (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative). Jones said she panicked when agents presented her with a sample of "the clear," which she recognized as the substance Graham had given her.
In the letter, Jones said she didn't realize she'd used a performance-enhancing drug until she stopped training with Graham at the end of 2002.
"Red flags should have been raised when he told me not to tell anyone," the Post reported, quoting the letter.
The Why Did I Get Married Interview with Kam Williams
Source: Kam Williams
(October 8, 2007) Born on September 13, 1969 in New Orleans, Tyler Perry overcame a challenging early life marked first by child abuse and later by homelessness to become a writer, producer, director, and actor extraordinaire. He credits Oprah Winfrey for encouraging him to turn his soul-searching diaries into a play, I Know I’ve Been Changed. Although most folks might merely associate him with the sassy, senior citizen character Madea, Tyler has also blossomed into a creative genius who’s the brains behind an enviable entertainment empire disseminating inspirational messages on stage and in film. His impressive screen credits include Woman, Thou Art Loosed, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion and Daddy’s Little Girls.
Here, he reflects on his latest opus, Why Did I Get Married, a thought-provoking meditation on marriage co-starring Jill Scott, Janet Jackson, Tasha Smith and Malik Yoba.
KW: Hey Tyler, thanks so much for the time.
TP: Oh, absolutely. How are you?
KW: Great, how are you? You must be exhausted from all the interviews.
TP: We’re holding it together. It’s all good. I’m having a great time.
KW: What made you pick this play of yours to adapt to the big screen at this juncture?
TP: That’s a good question, because I don’t plan to do all of them. I’m always wondering what’s happening in the community now, what’s happening with the people. And with the divorce rate being so high, and with the family needing some sort of uplift or boost, I think that’s where I’m going to be for the next few movies… talking about family, relationships and marriage. And I thought the best way to start is with marriage.
KW: You have a knack for creating authentic African-American scenarios exploring serious themes with a certain gravitas we just don’t see anywhere else. Where does that unique gift come from?
TP: I just have so many stories to tell and there’s so much that we are as black people with many different sides to it. I think that a lot of people are focusing on only one side of who we are. But it’s such a rich culture that anyone would be doing a disservice not to look at all sides of it. So, this way of storytelling has come from being on stage and having an immediate connection with the audience, to now having it in film.
KW: There’s a distinction in the quality of your contributions like Woman, Thou Art Loosed, Madea’s Family Reunion and Daddy’s Little Girls which are very rich films that give people goose bumps and made them cry. So, I see your work as really standing out as a cut above.
TP: Wow, that’s really great to hear.
KW: Since I don’t see an existing template or formula for what you’re doing, what do you tap into for as the source of your originality and genius?
TP: First of all, the messages are very important to me. I don’t just want to do film for the sake of doing film. And it’s never been about money for me. It’s always been about “What can I leave to uplift and inspire?” Even when I was doing plays early on. So, that’s where it comes from, first of all. It’s about, “What message can I bury into a great story?” And I think it’s resonating with people because so many folks are looking for answers. So many people are searching. So many want love and hope and romance. In my own life, finding that forgiveness has been very important. And that’s where it seems to begin with me for a lot of what I do.
KW: Why didn’t you produce Why Did I Get Married as a musical?
TP: I don’t think I’ll ever do a movie musical. The closest I’ll come is my film A Jazz Man’s Blues which is about a jazz singer in the 1940s. There’s a lot of jazz and big band music in it, but it’s not a musical. I don’t think that’s my forte.
KW: Will you be appearing in A Jazz Man’s Blues?
TP: I am. I’m playing the singer. And my hope is to have Alan Arkin or Sir Ben Kingsley to play the Jewish Holocaust survivor who befriends him and then turns him into one of the biggest jazz singers of all time.
KW: And you’ll be reprising Madea in Meet the Browns, right?
TP: Yeah, and then I’m going to follow that up with Madea Goes to Jail, and then we’ll see what happens after that.
KW: You’re from New Orleans. How do you think things are going down there in terms of the recovery?
TP: I was speaking with the Mayor [Ray Nagin] when I was there in July and I think it’s horrible that the money that’s supposed to help the people is wrapped up in so much bureaucracy that it can’t get to those who need it the most. And I think it’s terrible that people are saying the city’s back 100% when, if you venture two blocks off the beaten path away from the area of the Mardi Gras or the Superdome, you’ll find over 70,000 people still in trailers, some of them full of formaldehyde and causing formaldehyde poisoning, and nobody’s talking about it. I think it’s horrific.
KW: What prompted you to purchase the former slave plantation used as the setting for the reunion in Madea’s Family Reunion.
TP: No, that’s not so. I don’t own it.
KW: Why’d you decide to film on that location?
TP: The land was so rich. I had no idea it had been a plantation. We were doing shots one day, and I was walking past that cabin and I noticed some graves. I asked the caretaker about it, and he said, “Oh, all these people were slaves.” I was like, “Are you serious?” And he takes me over to a plaque that said, “There were once 150 slaves on this land.” So, it was profound to sit there in the kitchen of the big house with Cicely Tyson and Dr. Maya Angelou and to have them talk about their struggle to get to where they are. It was so rich and so powerful… It’s something I’ll share with my children.
KW: Did you have any reservations about casting Jill Scott, a singer, in a lead role in Why Did I Get Married, since it’s her big screen debut?
TP: Once she auditioned for me, I had no doubt. Her audition was great, but the first day she came to work was so incredible it made us all go, “Wow! She carries this with her?” Wait till you see her performance. You’ll be wondering, “Who is this woman and why hasn’t she been doing this much longer?”
KW: How hard is it for you to act, direct and produce a movie simultaneously?
TP: It’s not that difficult for me, because all sides of my brain need to work. I’ll ask myself, “Was that the best take you could do, Tyler?” I’m always very critical and very honest with myself. And once I get a yes, I’m ready to move on.
KW: How was it working with such a large ensemble cast containing so many stars like Jill Scott and Janet Jackson?
TP: They were all very respectful. The thing about it is that sometimes I encounter resistance from people about the same age who feel like they’ve been in the business longer than you and should be further along than you. But I had none of it here. I had so much support from this cast, especially the guys. And their support meant the world to me, because it’s usually the guys that I have the issues with.
KW: As someone who overcame a very tough childhood, what advice do you have for anyone trying to make their way out of dire straits?
TP: What worked for me was nothing but my faith and belief in God. Still, to this day, I pray constantly. I think I pray more now than I did then. I tell people to pray and to work as hard as you can.
KW: Are you happy?
TP: Every day, yeah. I spent the first 28 years of my life being completely miserable. So, I’m grateful every day now, especially being in my late thirties heading into my forties. I’m really happy.
KW: Is there any question you’ve always wanted to be asked but are never asked?
TP: [Chuckles] You know, I’ve never thought about that. The questions I’m asked usually cover it pretty much.
KW: I know you make your home in Atlanta, but nosy Jimmy Bayan needs to know where you live when you’re in Los Angeles.
TP: In the Hollywood Hills.
KW: Where do you expect to be five years from now?
TP: I’d like to own a network, one featuring positive, reinforcing television programming. So that when you turn it on, everything you see, whether you know it or not, there are so many subconscious messages that by the time you turn it off you’ll be so inspired you’ll feel that you can take on the world.
KW: Wow! I want to invest in that.
TP: That would be a good investment.
KW: Well thanks for the time, and good luck with this film, Tyler.
TP: Thank you. Bye.
Curtis Bailey - Toronto Loses Its Jazz Encyclopedia
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop & Jazz Critic
(October 07, 2007) It would've been easy to mistake Curtis Bailey for some kind of jazz groupie.
Wherever the music was performed – nightclubs, auditoriums, festivals – there he was, seated up front, or hanging on the sidelines.
But Bailey, who succumbed to a heart attack on Sept. 26 at 64, was no mere fan. The former host of a popular community radio show was known by name to an international array of musicians who welcomed him backstage.
"He was a beautiful person; rather shy, but he had a wonderful musical knowledge," said American crooner Freddy Cole, who made sure Bailey had access to his Toronto Jazz Festival dates this summer.
And no less a music expert than CKLN-FM 88.1 broadcaster Norman Otis Richmond deferred to Bailey, who was known as an "encyclopedia of jazz."
"He was my go-to guy for stuff I didn't know," said Richmond. "When it came to that music they call jazz, I don't know who knew more."
Additionally, Bailey is said to have amassed the largest jazz record stash in the city; much of it attained during the 13 years (beginning as a teenaged high school dropout) he worked at Sam the Record Man.
"The first thing we're going to do is get it catalogued," said Chicago-based Stainton Bailey of the massive inventory his younger brother left behind.
At the west Toronto home Bailey shared with relatives, photo albums overflow with pictures of him and jazz icons such as Oscar Peterson and Max Roach.
He is smiling in most of the images, reflecting the kindly demeanour cohorts recall, but stories about Bailey's lifelong dedication to jazz are underscored by deferred dreams that would have made others bitter.
"I didn't want to bring that up," said Stainton of his brother's unrealized aspirations of being a musician, or an on-air personality at a commercial radio station. "He finally accepted his lot in life and learned how to deal with it."
The middle of six children of a homemaker and a chef from Jamaica, Bailey grew up in the Dovercourt Rd.-Bloor St. W. area. and attended Central Technical High School with saxist Bobby Brough.
"We'd always listen to records at his house," remembered Brough. "He had hundreds of records and that was my only real access to music, except the radio. We enjoyed talking about music and Curtis's passion was so intense, it was almost as if he was playing."
Bailey briefly took sax lessons from Brough.
"He didn't really push himself and it takes so much practice," the musician said. "He may not have had the time or environment to support the regiment required to carry him through."
After leaving Sam's, Bailey, who never married or had children, supported himself with telemarketing jobs. He wrote about jazz for the black community newspaper Contrast, but is best known as volunteer host of a Saturday afternoon jazz show on CIUT-FM 89.5.
"I remember them always being pleasantly surprised by his knowledge," said former Top O' the Senator jazz club booker Sybil Walker of the musicians she arranged for Bailey to interview on his show All That Jazz. "He was a student of jazz history. There are not a lot of people like Curtis who lived for the music."
When the program ended after 14 years in the mid-'90s amidst some now-unclear controversy, Bailey's attempts to land a paying radio gig elsewhere were unsuccessful.
"He had the voice, he had the knowledge, he could get top-notch guests into the studio, but he never got a shot," said Richmond.
Longtime friend Marlene Weller helped him send out resumés and demo tapes. "They'd say `We love your stuff, but there are no openings,'" she remembered. "Then they'd hire some jerk who didn't know anything about jazz."
Jealousy, racism and ageism are some of the theories attributed to Bailey's inability to crack the mainstream, but drummer Archie Alleyne, who knew him since boyhood, is more circumspect.
"It was modernization," he surmised. "Curtis was not computer literate and the stations don't operate the same way anymore, where they have people to help you."
Health issues, including heart surgery seven years ago, landed Bailey on disability, but he never stopped supporting the scene.
"He was the soul and cornerstone of jazz in Toronto," said Weller. "He would travel by bus from Etobicoke to get to the clubs and it would take him forever."
"Curtis always sat in the centre, or front of the room, never at the back; he was always right with the music," said Trane Studio proprietor Frank Francis.
A few weeks before he died Bailey rang up the Star's jazz critic to suggest a story on Hammond B3 master Kingsley Ettienne whom he deemed "underrated."
"Curtis would come to see me even if I was playing in a watering hole; he'd be the first or second person there and last to go," said Ettienne.
The Star published a 1993 review of a jazz organ jam session featuring Ettienne. It mentions Bailey, as MC at the event, urging the crowd on and shouting "get down" as they grooved along.
Recently, Bailey was thrilled by the promise of a jazz musician in his family. A grand-nephew – Erik Hmiel – is studying jazz guitar at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
Bailey never got to see the 19-year-old play, but initiated phone calls to him through his brother Stainton, the youth's grandfather.
"He was very adamant about making sure I followed through with what I wanted," said Hmiel of the pair's half-dozen conversations over the last two years. "It meant a lot that he wanted to talk to me."
While they discussed music generally, the young player does recall one specific piece of advice imparted from his elder.
"He told me to steer clear of having an obligation to a woman," says Hmiel. "Not in a chauvinistic way, but he said that it would distract me, because he'd seen it happen before.
"I thought that was pretty funny."
Adams Tours West Bank, Israel
Excerpt from www.thestar.com
(October 07, 2007) RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – Canadian rocker Bryan Adams will headline concerts for peace in the West Bank and Israel this week, with performances relayed by satellite to simultaneous events in London, Ottawa and Washington, organizers said Sunday.
Adams, 47, had a string of multi-platinum albums during the 1980s and mid-1990s and was nominated for an Academy Award for ``Everything I Do," his theme for the 1991 Kevin Kostner film ``Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
The New York-based One Voice peace movement said the Thursday concerts were aimed at bolstering its campaign to collect one million signatures from ordinary Israelis and Palestinians demanding that their leaders finalize an agreement on a Palestinian state living at peace with Israel.
The head of One Voice's Ramallah office, Fathi Darwish, said Adams would launch the West Bank event at a football stadium in the ancient town of Jericho, then head to Tel Aviv to perform in the second half of the three-hour show there.
The two venues are about 90 minutes apart by road, though Israeli army roadblocks can make the trip significantly longer. Darwish said Adams might travel by helicopter.
Other artists booked to appear on the Jericho stage are Iraqi guitarist Ilham Al Madfai, Israeli Arab Hip-Hop outfit DAM and Palestinian singers and dancers.
"Our goal is to send a message to the world, that the Palestinian people love life, and hope for life and liberation," Darwish said.
In Tel Aviv, Mashina, Hadag Nachash, Ehud Banai and other rock and pop acts are to perform.
Both events will feature addresses by officials and local peace activists. Hollywood celebrities were expected to send messages by videolink, the organizers said.
One Voice's Hollywood supporters include Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Rhea Perlman, Danny de Vito and Jason Alexander.
One Voice said last month it so far had just over half a million signatories to its initiative – split about equally between Israelis and Palestinians – and was aiming to reach the one million target by the end of the year.
Entry to the Oct.18 events will be free, but concertgoers must sign the One Voice petition to gain entrance, the movement's website said.
Sorbara Rocks The Fan Vote
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler
(October 8, 2007) Oops, she did it again. Recently, after rising electro-pop star Martina Sorbara used a naughty word in print, her savvy-politician father admonished her, telling her to “stop saying the word ‘tits' during interviews.” As minxy Sorbara retells that story, she brings attention to her assets once again – using her dad's words innocently, we're sure. So, who's the savvy one here?
It's a gorgeous autumn day, perfect for sharing tofu cubes and wheatgrass shots on a street-side patio with Sorbara and her hubby Dan Kurtz, the principals of the quartet Dragonette. The Toronto couple is currently based in London, where their coquettish, coolly futuristic new album Galore is getting all sorts of nice recognition: “The definition of brilliant 2007 pop,” says Observer Music Monthly. Back in Canada, the couple is making the press rounds, chatting up a record that first started making waves with the release of the saucy single I Get Around. If the song wasn't provocative enough – “I say yes, when I oughta say no” – the slinky club-set video drives the point home.
In person, Sorbara is sexy and feline with remarkable cheekbones. Her husband and songwriting partner of four years is highly presentable as well – a light-eyed Brazilian-Canadian who suggests we drink a beet-based immune boost to accompany the vegetarian fare. “I'm loving it,” Sorbara says of the choice, approvingly.
Before the elixir arrives, her cellphone rings. It's Greg Sorbara, her father, the Minister of Finance for Ontario. Much like his daughter, he's on the campaign trail, up for re-election in the suburban Toronto riding of Vaughan-King-Aurora. His name often appears in stories written about Dragonette, including one with a headline that read, “Naughty sounds from the minister's daughter.”
Sorbara, who began her music career as an earnest singer-songwriter, says she can't figure out the fascination. “In some ways I understand why his name keeps coming up,” she says, making a face. “But in other ways, it's like, he's a 61-year-old guy who doesn't like dance music. I don't know what's weird about that.” She's referring to her father's publicly admitted preference for her earlier acoustic music. As for his position on the current racier material, she says he's simply “really proud” that she has a tough job that keeps her extremely busy.
“He understands the business,” she says. “He was there when I was 18 years old at my first record meeting, so he's learned about it with me.” The couple stays with him when they're in the area, so the Liberal Party minister is aware of their diligence. “He sees the hours that we keep, and the phone calls and the BlackBerrys,” says Kurtz, who sees similarities between winning votes and winning fans. “It's the act of promoting yourself,” he says, “and convincing people to believe in what you're doing. Other than the fact that he ends up running a province and we end up selling a record, there's very little difference.”
So, his daughter is having a little flirtatious fun with her music. Where's the harm in that? She may sing about having a “little bit of dirty down in her soul,” but she's just singing. It's not like she's out there pressing the flesh or anything.
Sheryl Lee Ralph: Simply 'Diva'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(October 5, 2007) If the word 'diva' is defined as a soulful female powerhouse with a purpose - actress/singer Sheryl Lee Ralph definitely fits the bill.
A star of stage and screen, Ralph also wears the hat of host-producer for the annual AIDS benefit concert Divas Simply Singing, of which the 17th Annual event takes place tomorrow, October 6 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.
“Can you believe it’s been 17 years of doing 'Divas'?” Ralph asked in disbelief. “Seventeen years of gathering women together to simply stand up and use the power of their voice in song to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.”
This year’s concert will feature the melodic voices of Natalie Cole, Ann Nesby, Denise Williams, Jenifer Lewis, and Ledisi. In addition, this year’s audience is in for a real treat with an original Broadway “Dreamgirls” reunion of Ralph, Loretta Divine, and Jennifer Holliday.
“We all just decided, ‘What the heck. We’ll come together and we’ll look fabulous together!’” she said of the trio performing together again. “Collectively, the three of us lost so many people through this disease. We couldn’t even begin to count because when we were on stage doing ‘Dreamgirls’ that’s was the time when men started just dropping dead. They were sick today and gone tomorrow.”
For more than a decade, Divas Simply Singing has been a force in providing information on the rising number of women of color infected with the HIV virus. Furthermore, the concert has been a best-kept secret of stardom for a number of divas including Raven Simone who appeared on stage for the show at the ripe age of 6 and the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie when she was a member of the girl group Wild Orchid.
“The women who do this show have the most enormous hearts,” she said and joked, “We have a saying that says, ‘Your attitude can’t be bigger than your hairstyle because we can’t handle it.’ But I’m just so happy to have the support of these women; of these divas; of these sangin’ singers.”
Although the event is sure to raise funds as well as awareness for the worthy cause, Ralph told EUR’s Lee Bailey that getting people involved and listening to the message is a bit of a struggle over the last 17 years.
“In all these years, we have never had anyone step up and say, ‘I get it. I’m behind you. Here is the money that you need.’” she said. “I’ve had to go out there and speak to all the people I can and use my friends to get the message out to fill those seats. It has been the loyalty of the audience that has helped us continue from year to year to year.”
The show, which has taken place in Los Angeles save for one year in Washington DC, is sponsored in part by Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and Smirnoff, to name a few, but Ralph explained that the event is always looking for some serious corporate commitment to the cause, but major companies seem to shy away from HIV and AIDS issues.
“In terms of big corporate sponsors – we don’t have it. I haven’t been able to get people to partner around us with this message,” she said. “Nobody has stepped up to the plate to associate themselves with HIV and AIDS and say, ‘Look, we need a message of prevention.’ People find it hard to get behind the arch with this disease and I just don’t know why.”
Still, Ralph soldiers on, hoping to get a message of safe sex and being tested to ethnic communities.
“What keeps me going is the fact that I always felt this was a human issue – that it could not be about 'they,' 'them,' and 'those people.' If we were to separate ourselves like that, it would be to our detriment. And that is what has happened over the years. Because people have been so easy to say 'those people' and not us; it is now all of us. All of us are infected and affected by this disease. Us saying it’s just those gay white men; no look at us – so much of it is about women of color and that just did not have to happen. And that’s what keeps me going – from women, the next thing is children and I don’t want it to be our children and that’s exactly where we are going.”
In addition to putting on ‘Divas’, Ralph is busying herself promoting the issue in a one-woman show she wrote herself. It’s called “Sometimes I Cry” and it, too, takes on the issue of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among women of color.
“It’s two very different sides of myself,” Ralph said of her diva-role versus her one-woman show. “‘Sometimes I Cry’ is a show that I started writing two years ago in response to the lack of response to the rising rate of infection in women of color right here in America.”
Ralph was inspired to write the piece after touring with Black Aids Institute founder Phill Wilson in the summer of 2004.
“I was shocked to hear so many black and brown women sharing their own AIDS story. I couldn’t believe it. I was not prepared to hear these stories and nor was I prepared to hear that same deafening silence that I’d heard back in the ‘80s.”
Ralph does the show just a day after the ‘Divas’ concert, on October 7 and is performing the show around the country with a trip to Africa on the schedule, too.
“It’s been a full plate,” Ralph said of her hectic schedule. “I honestly thought I’d be raising my voice trying to make change through entertainment, but it’s turning into a movement and people are listening.”
She continued, “I am encouraged. It’s got to be done. Harriet Tubman said it best [when] she said, ‘My name is Harriet Tubman and I have freed a lot of slaves and I’d have freed a lot more if they had just known that they were slaves.’”
For more on Divas Simply Singing and on how you can help, check out www.divassimplysinging.com.
Years Of Alternative Voices At CHRY
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Toronto Star
(October 09, 2007) For a community radio station with a measly 158 watts of power, CHRY's presence in the Jane and Finch community reaches far beyond its antenna.
As a closed-circuit station born in 1968 in a small room in York University's Vanier College, CHRY, like its community radio counterparts CKLN and CIUT, was at the forefront of playing urban and reggae music and black programming long before Flow 93.5's inception in 2001.
Community radio provides a much-needed alternative voice, says Danae Peart, operations co-ordinator for CHRY. A lot of listeners don't know that Canadian radio goes beyond Céline Dion and Bryan Adams, she adds.
"Mainstream radio gives you cookie-cutter music, cookie-cutter playlists and cookie-cutter views. We challenge listeners in word and in song."
Fast forward to 2007: CHRY – celebrating its 20th year on the FM dial – has more than 80 programs in a multitude of languages, including French Creole, Sinhalese, Tamil, Italian, French and Spanish. Many on-air programmers come from the diasporic communities represented in the music and discussions they air.
The station has managed to carve its niche in the North York area, especially the Jane and Finch community, by sponsoring events like Rastafest, a Rasta arts and Kulcha festival, and the Driftwood community's cultural festival.
Programmers have been involved in everything from hip-hop literacy projects to esteem-building and leadership workshops to educating teens from nearby schools in radio production and media.
Jamaican-born playwright and director Masani Montague, who hosts a show about radio dramas, Stage To Air, has lived through the station's history. Her passion for drama first brought her there as a volunteer in 1987 and '88.
"People see Jane and Finch as a bad thing and it is unfortunate, because it is a rich, vibrant community with a lot of good things happening," says Montague, who helps students join co-ops to learn more about drama and theatre.
Peart believes that the more society changes, the greater the need for alternative voices on the airwaves.
"That's why satellite radio came about. That's why mp3 players are so popular ... individuals want to determine their own playlist.
"We're taking back our airwaves."
Staging Own Concert At Massey Hall
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Classical Music Critic
(October 09, 2007) For most people, there is an unbridgeable chasm between musical talent and stardom.
The most determined will audition for anyone who will listen, play late-night gigs in obscure basement clubs and hope to one day spill enough beer on a big-label rep to get their attention.
Then there are people like Bernard Lachance.
If you've been near Massey Hall recently, you may have seen a guy with spiky hair and an eager look trying to get the attention of passersby at Yonge and Shuter Sts.
He's wearing a T-shirt with the Massey Hall seating plan on it. The tickets in his hand correspond to seats that aren't yet taken for his Nov. 3 concert. Buy admission (tickets are $34.50 and also available at Ticketmaster) and he'll block out your seat on his map with a black marker.
He may also try to sell you a copy of his CD, the 11-track While I Remember You, which he calls "adult contemporary" pop, and which some others might call popera.
On it, his alluring, lithe tenor voice echoes the style of Josh Groban, with a bit of Sarah Brightman, Michael Bublé and Il Divo thrown in.
Lachance produced the disc himself. He paid for Massey Hall himself. He paid for and auditioned the orchestra and will direct the rehearsals.
He is even auditioning his own 150-voice choir by inviting anyone interested in singing to join in (for details, email MasseyHall.Nov3rd@hotmail.com).
You might get the impression that the 33-year-old Lachance is just a wacky wannabe with too much ambition and energy to burn. Instead, you should think of him as a pretty savvy operator – as well as a talented singer.
During a recent coffee break in his frenetic schedule, Lachance explained his simple philosophy:
"When I was a student at the Conservatoire (in Quebec City), a friend asked me what I was going to do if I couldn't make a career as a singer. I told them that I was going to have a career as a singer, and that's it. She looked at me like I was crazy.
"Then I told her that anyone can have a career as a singer. But, like in many professions, there is a pay scale between high and low. I know I could always be a singer if I want to get low pay, and sing in small clubs, but I don't want that."
The singer grew up in Montmagny, an hour east of Quebec City. He was exposed to music early. "Everyone in my family sang, we were like the Trapp Family Singers," he said with a wry smile, referencing the Austrian family portrayed in The Sound of Music.
After graduating with a classical background from the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec, he realized his next move should be to Montreal. Not satisfied with a small gesture when a grand flourish was possible, he rented the Bell Centre, assembled a choir of 200 and put on a big-city spectacle that left Montrealers amazed and reeling.
"After that, I received a number of offers from local record labels," he said. "But I started wondering if I would become known outside of Quebec. So I knew I had to leave."
His next stop was New York City. A unilingual francophone wouldn't get very far there, so Lachance started to learn English. Three years later, his command is better than Stéphane Dion's.
Typically, he didn't do it the usual way. "I bought 10 seasons of Friends and watched them every moment I could," he boasts.
But the Big Apple was more than he could chew.
"To get anyone's attention there, you need big money." Yet, Lachance survived a year in the city by selling his CDs every day in Times Square. "You do the math at $15 a CD," he said with a smile.
So, just as in a Hollywood movie, Toronto is a stand-in for a big English-speaking-city début. Lachance was pleasantly surprised when he set foot onstage at Massey Hall: "I could suddenly feel the presence of all the famous people who have sung on this stage over the last 100 years, and I knew this is where I have to be."
Music Icons Gamble And Huff Honoured
Source: Jalila Larsuel, JLMediapr@aol.com
(October 4, 2007) BEVERLY HILLS - The Legendary songwriting production entrepreneurs known collectively as Gamble and Huff received the 2007 Heroes And Legends (HAL) Award for their outstanding contributions to the music industry.
The 18th Annual HAL Awards, a black-tie star studded event was held at the Beverly Hills Hotel recently.
The who who's in the entertainment industry were in attendance such as, music legend Barry Gordy, honourees Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, honourees Little Anthony and The Imperial, songwriters Holland and Holland, members from Earth Wind and Fire and more.
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the principal architects behind the distinctive Philly Sound, one of the most popular and influential musical developments of the 1970s and the in-house creative team for the Philadelphia International record label have collectively written and produced over 170 gold and platinum records and have published more than 3,000 songs.
Celebrating 45 years in the music industry, Gamble & Huff have crafted unique sounds and signature hits like, "Back Stabbers," "Love Train" and "For The Love of Money" for The O'Jays, "Me and Mrs. Jones" for Billy Paul, "Wake Up Everybody," "If You Don't Know Me By Now," and "The Love I Lost" for Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes and "If Only You Knew" for Patti LaBelle to name a few.
The duo's brilliant musical collaborations and extensive catalogue have earned them a host of accolades, including The Recording Academy Trustees Award, as well as, inductions into the Songwriters, R&B, Dance Music Halls of Fame; the prestige's British IVORS Award and numerous Grammy Awards.
For more info, go to www.HalAwards.com for more information.
The Akon Empire
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Gail Mitchell
"Anyone can go and work with a seasoned act, but it's hard to break a brand-new act with new music. That's my challenge -- and fun -- right now."
Excerpted and expanded from an article that ran in the October 6, 2007 issue of Billboard magazine. Subscribers can read the issue's content online via Billboard.biz.
Single copies of the issue can be ordered via Orderbillboard.com.
(October 03, 2007) When Senegalese singer Akon first emerged on The Billboard Hot 100 three years ago, fresh from a jail sentence for car theft that he documented in the top 10 single "Locked Up," listeners weren't sure how to classify his music. "There was no category for me," he recalls, taking a moment's break from his 2007 world tour. "People didn't know whether I was reggae, R&B, hip-hop, alternative."
So he created his own category, which has now expanded way beyond Akon himself to encompass a stable of promising artists he's developing through his non-label-exclusive production arm, Konvict Muzic, and his Geffen-distributed label imprint Kon Live Records.
"Konvict is the genre," Akon says as he further delineates the difference between Konvict Muzik and Kon Live. "When I first came out, it was all created in jail, so we called it that. It's gimmicky but it reminds me of the path I came from and how it changed my life. But Kon Live is the actual money pot."
Of the record label he says, "This is a great opportunity for me to invest in what I'm good at. I wouldn't want to be an artist forever. I want to graduate altogether and become strictly an executive. So, I'm taking the steps now." Akon knows a little something about developing talent. One of his early sightings was R&B singer T-Pain, who is signed to Jive Records through Konvict Muzic, and who has chalked up two gold-selling albums.
Current release "Epiphany" debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and stands at 651,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan; his freshman set, "Rappa Ternt Sanga," has sold 594,000. He's also charted 12 singles on the Hot 100 (including five top 10s) and sold 3.6 million ringtones. Other artists under the Konvict Muzic banner are Atlanta rap newcomer Dollar (also through Jive) and TLC co-founding member Chilli, whose debut album will be released through Upfront/Konvict at Universal. Albums from Chilli and Dollar are due next year.
But Kon Live -- on which Akon is nurturing such newcomers as genre-spanning sister act Brick & Lace and R&B singer Ray Lavender (see story, page 23) -- is where the multiplatinum multitasker says he's in it for the long haul.
Following in the footsteps of Motown's Berry Gordy, LaFace co-founder and current Island Def Jam chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid, and Roc-a-Fella principal Jay-Z, Akon is serious about parlaying his success as an artist, songwriter and producer into a long run as a label president.
A Multitiered Career
As an artist, especially, that success has been considerable. His 2004 debut album, "Trouble," has sold 1.6 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And at 2.6 million units, according to SoundScan, his follow-up, "Konvicted," released last November, is thus far the year's No. 3 best-selling album. It has spun off four top 10 Hot 100 singles: "Smack That" (No. 2), "I Wanna Love You" (No. 1), "Don't Matter" (No. 1) and "Sorry, Blame It on Me" (No. 7). And it's done all that despite a controversy that emerged earlier this year, revolving around footage that showed up online of Akon dancing suggestively onstage with an underage fan in Trinidad. The widely reported incident led Verizon Wireless to back out of Gwen Stefani's Great Escape tour that Akon had joined as a supporting artist.
Meanwhile, in addition to his booming career as a performer and producer, Akon is juggling other balls in the air. Now available at mom-and-pop retailers, his urban street wear line, Konvict Clothing, has since netted an account with Macy's. Keeping it in the family, the fashion line's spokesman is Lavender.
Production is also moving forward on the biographical film "Illegal Alien," which stars Mekhi Phifer as Akon, and the singer bought the rights to another film that's due to start shooting soon, "Cocaine Cowboys." After wrapping his 2007 world tour, Akon plans to go into the studio to collaborate with Whitney Houston for her next album. And as for the follow-up to his sophomore album, "Konvicted," he says the as-yet-untitled set is almost done.
But he's still managing to find plenty of time to run Kon Live. "When an artist establishes a label, people discount his ability to be a built-in CEO," Geffen chairman Ron Fair says. "But that's who Akon is. He's a 360-degree visionary: a superb music composer who's crazy passionate about all kinds of music and has a strong marketing sense that lets him know how to reach people." Given today's cost-conscious industry climate, joint venture deals aren't as plentiful as they once were. But such deals do remain a bargaining lure for top-selling artists. However, the life span of most vanity labels tends to run shorter than the typical two- to three-year break between the said artist-cum-CEO's own album projects. Factor in artists' other outside ventures -- writing/producing other acts, film and TV projects, clothing, shoe and fragrance lines -- and something's usually got to give.
Two recent cases come to mind. Kanye West's Getting Out Our Dreams (aka G.O.O.D.) joint venture with Sony Music Label Group ended in 2006 after two years in business. And Usher's much-publicized US Records, distributed through J Records, quietly dissolved after four years.
But with Kon Live, Akon is determined to buck the odds. And he's got a plan to do just that.
The Strategy And The Stable
In terms of selecting acts for Kon Live, Akon places a premium on work ethic in addition to talent. "You can get someone fairly talented," he says. "But if they're lazy and don't want to really work, you can't sell that."
So at the center of Kon Live's strategy is what label VP DeVyne Stephens -- who also heads Konvict -- refers to as "a page out of Berry Gordy's book." All Kon Live artists are expected to go through the artist development center that's housed at the label's Atlanta headquarters: what Stephens calls "the complex." Artists are put through a 30-day training/evaluation process encompassing media training, vocal fitness and stage presence.
In talking with several of the acts signed to Kon Live, two recurring threads emerge. One concerns artistic freedom. The other is that Akon didn't forget to reach back when his own career took off.
Ray Lavender's association with Akon dates back to the late '90s. A mutual friend introduced the financially challenged Lavender to Akon when the former was trying to log some studio time in Atlanta. Although the two clicked musically, their collaboration was curtailed by Akon's jail sentence.
"I've been on the bench for a minute," Lavender says with his Southern-drawl laugh. "And I've got a million splinters in my butt to prove it. But when Akon got out, he said, 'Ray, I still got you. I want to get myself out as an artist first and then I'll have this label.' He did 'Locked Up' and then it started." Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall and Virgin Islands R&B/hip-hop duo Rock City point out that being on Kon Live doesn't mean simply being an Akon clone. "He lets you do you, and then he sweetens it up," Rock City's Theron says.
Former MCA artist Offishall, who collaborated on the European B-side to Akon's "Lonely" single, concurs. "We're both producers and captains of our own ships. He realizes the work ethic and hustle I have," he says. "I'm making the music I want to make without all the label pressure. If you're able to make music how and with whom you want, you come up with good music." Female R&B duo Brick & Lace was sent Akon's way by Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine. "When we met with Geffen, we knew they were who we wanted to work with," group member Nailah Thorbourne says. "Iovine said we should link with Akon to work on two tracks, but we immediately clicked, and [Akon] said he really wanted to be a part of [it]. So he made us a part of the Kon Live family." To date, Kon Live has released singles from Brick & Lace ("Never Never") and Lavender ("My Girl's Gotta Girlfriend"). In the wake of "Never Never" not catching fire with the U.S. audience, promotion for Brick & Lace's follow-up single, "Love Is Wicked," was launched in the ladies' native Jamaica. A more extensively promoted single for Lavender was still being determined at press time.
"It's too hard to sell albums these days, so you have to do it right," Akon says. "My plan is to put two good looks out before these albums and the other Kon Live projects are released. I'm giving them the same blueprint I had. And it worked for me." After focusing initially on the urban side ("where I have the most power at the moment"), Akon intends to release pop and rock projects as well.
As he takes the next year to focus on Kon Live, it's too early to predict what success Akon will experience from the executive side of the desk. But if that doesn't happen, it won't be for lack of trying.
"Anyone can go and work with a seasoned act," he says. "But it's hard to break a brand-new act with new music. That's my challenge -- and fun -- right
Additional reporting by Mariel Concepcion.
Lenny Kravitz Announces It Is Time For A Love Revolution
(Oct. 4, 2007) Lenny Kravitz says it’s time for a revolution and he is launching a musical movement to do just that with the release of his 8th studio album on February 5, 2008. The album, entitled It Is Time For A Love Revolution (Virgin Records America), is Kravitz’s first new release in over three years; the record is a thunderous rock 'n roll call-to-arms, featuring a universal blend of soul, funk, and jazz grooves and the undeniable anthemic lyricism that's been his trademark from day one.
"I love this record and the feel of the record," Lenny Kravitz said of the release. "I felt like a kid playing in my bedroom, and that's the most important thing you can tap into, that feeling of being free."
That freedom is the fire inside It Is Time For A Love Revolution, which is sonically and spiritually as vibrant as Kravitz's debut album, Let Love Rule. Regarded as one of the great rock musicians of our time, Lenny Kravitz has achieved tremendous critical acclaim and commercial success with a succession of groundbreaking album releases, multiple # 1 singles on the Billboard Top Singles charts and an unparalleled collection of awards from throughout his career, including GRAMMYs, American Music Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. Written and recorded over the course of the last year, in various locations from New York to Miami, Paris, the Bahamas and Brazil, It Is Time For A Love Revolution holds up as one of the Kravitz’s best albums with its raucous rock 'n roll jams, heavy drums, tight hip-shaking grooves, frenetic guitars and Kravitz’s unmistakable croon.
Featuring 14 new songs, the album once again finds the multi-instrumentalist writing, producing, arranging and playing all the tracks on the album, which he has done on all of his releases throughout his career. As the album title indicates, Kravitz sings songs of love and spiritual revolution, calling on people to open up and let love in their hearts. He also isn't afraid to get political, using his music to draw attention to the current US war in Iraq and the Vietnam era. From the above mentioned singles “Bring It On” and “I’ll Be Waiting,” as well as “Love, Love, Love,” “Dancin’ Til Dawn,” and “I Want To Go Home,” It Is Time For A Love Revolution represents the characteristics that has made Kravitz a vital musician for 18 years.
Kravitz plans to tour behind It Is Time For A Love Revolution for two years after its release, but first he will help bring in 2008 with an exciting live performance from Times Square performing two songs during NBC’s world famous New Years Eve with Carson Daly.
Solange Interview Featured In New Essence
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 4, 2007) *Solange Knowles has a new album coming out and offers herself up to writer Jeanine Edwards of Essence magazine in an effort to promote it. In the candid interview, the singer now only plugs her upcoming CD "Solange & The Hadley Street Dreams," due Jan. 2, 2008, but she also talks at length about being married, divorced and a mother – all before the age of 21. She also discusses life in the shadow of her famous older sister, Beyonce, and addresses various rumours that she can't seem to shake – including claims that she had a nose job, and left her husband to have a relationship with Lil Wayne.
Here is an excerpt of the Q&A session, from Essence.com:
ESSENCE.com: What are some of the drawbacks of being in this industry?
S.K.: The lack of privacy is first and foremost. You just have to know that the more successful you get as an artist, the less of a normal life you have. It’s a trade-off. When I say I only want to reach a certain level (professionally), people look at me like I’m full of sh--. But when you get to a certain point, you can’t just go to the mall anymore, and I don’t know if I’m willing to ever give that up.
ESSENCE.com: So you don’t aspire to your sister’s level of superstardom?
S.K.: No, I don’t want to get that far. (Laughs) I feel really bad for my sister. I’m always like “Oh, let’s go to the mall” or “Let’s go here” and she can’t. I enjoy having that.
ESSENCE.com: But do you ever feel as if you have to compete with her?
S.K.: No, I think that as artists we’re totally different, and when this record comes out it will express that. But I admire my sister so much. She’s one of my role models in that she is successful and classy. She’s very diplomatic and lives her life true to self.
ESSENCE.com: She’s been known to say she doesn’t go on the Internet because of all the craziness. Do you avoid the Web and reading what’s in the blogosphere?
S.K.: People actually e-mail me the links all the time, and I’m like “Okay, thanks I really wanted to see that.”
ESSENCE.com: Let’s address some of the rumours out there. Apparently, folks believe you left your husband for Lil Wayne. Is that true?
S.K.: (Laughs) That’s absolutely not true. Yes, we know each other but I absolutely did not leave my husband for him.
ESSENCE.com: There’s also been some buzz that you had cosmetic surgery—a nose job.
S.K.: (Laughs) Not true. I’ve heard that one, too. That one actually cracked me up. I mean if I got some surgery, I would wait until I’m older and pop out a couple more kids.
ESSENCE.com: So even if you had had cosmetic surgery, you wouldn’t be ashamed to admit it?
ESSENCE.com: What’s the craziest rumour you’ve heard about yourself?
S.K.: I think the craziest rumour was that my dad paid my son’s father $1 million to marry me. That was everywhere at one time, and that was really funny. I always joke that I wish we had it like that: “Here, take a million dollars, marry her…”
Les Sabler Giving It All He's Got
Source: Rick Scott, Great Scott P.R.oductions, www.greatscottpr.com
(October 8, 2007) "This is an important record for me and I put everything into it. There were no compromises," said guitarist Les Sabler about his soon-to-be-released fourth album, Sweet Drive.
Sabler elevated his art to the next level on the Brian Bromberg-produced collection of contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop. He is focused, committed and highly motivated to take his music to the masses with his newest (September 25) release.
The CD possesses all the necessary ingredients to catapult him to the forefront of the genre: masterful performances by Sabler and a stellar supporting cast, well-crafted songs, and skilful production that favours a live sound dusted with just the right amount of sheen.
When you listen to Sweet Drive, the diversity and soulfulness are readily apparent. There's an air of familiarity yet a freshness that invigorates. Sabler derived inspiration from vintage contemporary jazz records from the 1970's that initially fuelled his interest in becoming a musician.
He sagely selected Bromberg to produce and tapped accomplished musicians Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Peterson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna, Jerry Hey, Gary Meek and several R&B vocalists, including Rahsaan Patterson, to help bring his vision to fruition.
Sweet Drive consists of eight originals and four covers. It opens with Sabler playing electric guitar accompanied by a feisty flute on "You've Got It Bad Girl." The title cut is a buoyant pop escapade on which Marienthal's sax shares the wheel with Sabler's guitar. "Daydreaming" receives a classy duet rendering by a pair of soulful voices. The first radio sojourn is " Club Street ," a kinetic electric guitar and sax thrill ride that alters its pace between mellow straight-aways and careening downhills. Sabler's nylon-string guitar delivers an impassioned plea on "Can You Stop The Rain." A cool-toned guitar shares the spotlight on the ballad "I'm Not The Same" with a sax and an angelic vocal chorus. With Lorber aboard and Hey's acrobatic horn section getting their groove on, "Struttin'" borders on fusion. Sabler's nylon takes on lyrical qualities on the gorgeous "Who Am I?," a track that becomes dreamy when the celestial chorus is crooned. "Twenty-Two" is an aggressive fusion jam featuring Sabler equitably trading in-your-face solos with the other musicians. Ambrosia's pop hit never sounded as soulful as when Sabler & Company tackle "Biggest Part Of Me." Sabler wrote "Food Chain," a fun, rousing contemporary jazz throwback powered by the high octane horn section. Bringing the album to a close, Sabler wields an acoustic guitar on "Could You Be," an otherworldly song with a unique, mysterious sound.
Soft-spoken and chill, Sabler is a different person with a guitar in his hands. He is animated when performing and has shared concert bills with such artists as Lorber, Spyro Gyra, Richard Elliot, Michael Lington, Diane Schurr and Fattburger. Sabler's last album, 2003's Bridge The Gap, spawned a #1 hit in his native Canada along with significant radio spins in the U.S. His sights are set much higher for Sweet Drive .
Jill Scott's 'The Real Thing'
Source: The Chamber Group, Chris Chambers / Sherlen Archibald /Tasha Stoute
(October 9, 2007) Grammy-winning soulstress Jill Scott's 3rd solo album "The Real Thing" debuts at #4 atop the Billboard 200 with an amazing 148,826 units moved. The album debuted #2 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Charts as well.
This great news gears up during a busy schedule promoting Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married" with Janet Jackson & Tyler Perry.
The ever consummate entertainer just came from South Africa filming the lead role for acclaimed director Anthony Minghella's (Cold Mountain/The English Patient) new movie "No.1 Ladies Detective Agency" (Weinstein/HBO).
"The Real Thing" is marked by the same inspired creative energy that made Jill Scott's first album "Who Is Jill Scott?" an enormous breakthrough hit, but where in the past Jill Scott has been a romantic, she is now a realist, here to tell it like it is.
That realness informs street single "Hate On Me," a powerful self-affirmation in the face of doubters, showcasing Jill's raw emotion and energy. The single hit airwaves July 9th, the acclaimed Nzingha Stewart shot the video for the street single as well as the official first single "My Love" which brings you into Jill's softer and more provocative side.
While her music is all Jill, Jill Scott's been trying on some new clothes. Just a month after releasing her third solo album, Jill Scott will make her big screen debut with a starring role in Tyler Perry's ensemble drama "Why Did I Get Married?" out October 12th.
The movie centers around a group of couples who happily vacation together every year until a flirtatious single woman is thrown into their midst and wreaks havoc. Jill plays Sheila, a heavily overweight woman (Jill dons a prosthetic suit for the character) in an already unhappy marriage who is pushed to the limit by the arrival of the sexy single. Tyler on Jill commented "like she's born to do this. Her acting is so natural, I was shocked. When this woman smiles, she lights up a room."
No.1 Ladies Detective Agency was written by Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, Cold Mountain ) & screenwriter Curtis Martin (Bridget Jones Diary, Notting Hill). Based around the detective, Precious Ramotswe (Scott) the dramady follows her and her assistant Mma Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose -Dreamgirls) as they take on a cheating husband, insurance fraud, witchcraft and a kidnapped youngster. The film also stars Idris Elba (28 Weeks Later) & begins shooting this month in Botswana, South Africa. The film is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Alexander McCall Smith.
Acting has become a new joy for Jill, who made the scene at Sundance earlier in the year in support of her role in the Dakota Fanning movie "Hounddog," in which she plays Big Momma Thornton, the artist who originally sang the Elvis Presley hit. Jill is also currently in talks to star in several upcoming films.
Music continues to be Jill's passion with the release of The Real Thing, the follow up to 2004's Beautifully Human: Words & Sounds Vol. 2, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album and won the Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammy for the single "Cross My Mind." Jill Scott made a huge splash in the music industry when she release the critically acclaimed Who Is Jill Scott?" Words & Sounds Vol. 1, which earned Jill four Grammy nominations, including a Best New Artist nomination. Earlier this year, Jill Scott release the effortlessly cool genre-hopping Collaborations, a compilation of all Jill's best collaborations, including the Grammy-winning "God Bless The Child" with George Benson and Al Jarreau.
Timberlake Nab 3 AMA Nods Each
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(October 09, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Beyonce Knowles, Justin Timberlake, Linkin Park and American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry's band Daughtry each nabbed three nominations Tuesday for the American Music Awards.
Akon, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Young Jeezy, T.I. and Idol winner Carrie Underwood captured two nominations each.
Jimmy Kimmel will host the 35th annual American Music Awards, to be broadcast Nov. 18 by ABC from the new L.A. Live entertainment complex next to Staples Center downtown.
The show's producer, Larry Klein, said Daughtry, Celine Dion, nominees Fergie and Rihanna will perform.
Nominees were initially chosen based on record sales. Ballots were then sent to a national sampling of 15,000 people and the top three vote-getters in each category became nominees.
For the first time, members of the public will be able to vote for nominated artists online. Winners were previously selected by a national survey of some 20,000 people.
The complete list of nominees:
– Male artist: Akon, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake.
– Female artist: Beyonce, Fergie, Avril Lavigne.
– Band, duo or group: Linkin Park, Maroon 5, Nickleback.
– Album: Daughtry (Daughtry), Minutes To Midnight (Linkin Park), FutureSex/LoveSounds (Justin Timberlake).
– Male artist: Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley.
– Female artist: Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood.
– Band, duo or group: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts.
– Album: Let It Go (Tim McGraw), Me And My Gang (Rascal Flatts), Some Hearts (Carrie Underwood).
Soul/Rhythm & Blues:
– Male artist: Akon, Ne-Yo, T-Pain.
– Female artist: Beyonce, Fantasia, Rihanna.
– Album: B'Day (Beyonce), Double Up (R. Kelly), FutureSex/Love Sounds (Justin Timberlake).
– Male artist: Fabolous, T.I., Young Jeezy.
– Band, duo or group: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Pretty Ricky, Shop Boyz.
– Album: Strength & Loyalty (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), T.I. vs. T.I.P. (T.I.), The Inspiration (Young Jeezy).
– Artist: Daughtry, Norah Jones, John Mayer.
– Artist: Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, White Stripes.
– Artist: Daddy Yankee, Juan Luis Guerra y 440, Jennifer Lopez.
– Artist: Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, TobyMac.
– Album: Dreamgirls, Hairspray, High School Musical 2.
– New artist: Daughtry, Plain White T's, Robin Thicke.
Quincy Jones Receives Jazz Masters
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 5, 2007) *Quincy Jones was among six musicians named as National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters for 2008 in a ceremony Tuesday night at New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center. During the ceremony, hosted by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, Jones was awarded the nation's highest jazz honour in the bandleader category. He was cited as being "a renaissance man of music." The 74-year-old musician began his career as an 18-year-old trumpeter playing small gigs in Seattle with Ray Charles and went on to become a groundbreaking conductor, arranger, record producer and film composer. Jones was unable to attend the ceremony due to his schedule, but will accept his plaque at a special awards concert during the annual International Association for Jazz Education conference in January in Toronto, Gioia said.
Janet Jackson To Write A Book About Weight
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 8, 2007) *Janet Jackson, who can go from overweight to red-carpet ready in several weeks, says she will chronicle the issues behind her dramatic, headline-making weight fluctuations in an upcoming book. "I’m writing a book on my journey of weight loss and weight gain," the 41-year- star said at a press roundtable for "Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?" "[I'm] really coming from the soul with it, and what I was going through at different times in my life and what possibly brought it about for myself," she says of the yet untitled project. The book is to also include what she did "nutrition-wise" to shed the pounds "when she needed to," but warns, "It's different for everyone." Meanwhile, Jackson has dealt head on with rumours that she's about to marry her long-time partner, music producer Jermaine Dupri. "I don't need a piece of paper to validate what we have," Jackson told TV show Extra. "That's just me though." And if you're wondering whether she has any marital advice, Miss Jackson says she's not qualified to answer that. "Don't ask me that question. You want to ask somebody who's been married twice and divorced twice?"
Nas' 'Greatest Hits' CD Has Two New
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 8, 2007) *Two previously unreleased tracks have been added to Nas "Greatest Hits" album, which is due in stores on Nov. 6 from Columbia Records, reports Billboard. One track, "Less Than An Hour," features Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley and was featured in the recent film "Rush Hour 3." The other new song is "Surviving the Times." Nas started his career with Columbia before signing with Def Jam in 2005. His debut for that label, last year's "Hip-Hop Is Dead," has sold 742,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
By Michelle Springer
(Oct. 7, 2007) First-time filmmaker Alison Saunders-Franklyn is heading to Hollywood later this month.
That's because Hit For Six!, which premiered in Barbados in April this year, will be making its international debut as an official selection of the distinguished American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Hollywood, Los Angeles, October 25 to 29.
Saunders-Franklyn, who is writer-director-executive producer of the movie, said she submitted Hit For Six! to the organisers since the Jeff Friday-founded event falls in line with what she was looking for in promotion and exposure for the movie.
"We were looking at festivals related to Africa and African descendants and we were advised that the American Black Film Festival was the most prestigious of them, with a lot of connections to distribution," she told the SUNDAY SUN.
The 11-year-old festival is reputed to have highly selective criteria and was an attractive challenge to the independent filmmaker.
"It's hard to be chosen by the ABFF," she beamed. "We are very excited about being selected. It has attracted over the years the crème de la crème of the black film industry."
She added: "We see it as an opportunity to promote the film in the international arena and showcase Barbadian and Caribbean culture on the world stage. It gives us a platform and an occasion to be showcased and make connections."
She also intends to take advantage of the workshops and seminars being offered at the festival. "This is very much a learning experience for us as well and I'm looking forward to participating in the symposiums."
Five intensive workshops and conferences will be presented over the five-day festival, which are scheduled between 32 film screenings as the festival committee demonstrates its mission "to strengthen the Black filmmaking community through resource sharing, education, artistic collaboration and career development."
The ABFF, which was born out of the need to spearhead distribution opportunities for independent black films and promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry, has secured major corporate sponsors, including HBO, BETJ, Lincoln, Kodak, Nokia, Fox Entertainment, Heineken and Black Enterprise.
Following its world premiere in Barbados, Hit For Six! won three awards at the 2007 Bridgetown Film Festival and then had a local run of five weeks at Olympus Theatres.
The film has secured Caribbean-wide theatrical distribution deals in 14 countries through Palace Amusements of Jamaica and Trinidadian-based Goldmine Entertainment.
Hit For Six! along with other films chosen for screening at the festival will be eligible for a number of awards and monetary prizes, including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor, and the Heineken Red Star Award which recognises films that push the boundaries of creativity and provide a unique vision and execution.
Organiser of the Bridgetown Film Festival, Mahmood Patel gave the thumbs up to Saunders-Franklyn for taking the initiative to be part of the festival.
"It is definitely very encouraging and a good sign for us. The Barbadian film industry is still in its formative stages and a lot of work still needs to be done," said Patel.
Hit For Six! is the story of a playboy West Indies cricketer who must fight the demons of his past, including a match-fixing charge. The lead role of Alex Nelson is played by local film celebrity Andrew Pilgrim.
Omarion: The Feel The Noise Interview With Kam
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 5, 2007) *Omarion Ishmael Grandberry was born in his Inglewood, California home around midnight on November 12, 1984. The eldest of seven kids born to his parents, Leslie and Trent, he got a head start in showbiz, beginning with appearances in TV commercials for McDonald's and Kellogg's. Turning his attention to singing and dancing as a teenager, Omarion ushered in the new millennium as the lead singer of the R&B boy band B2K.
Despite the group's considerable success, the blessed baritone left the group in 2004 to pursue a solo career. On his own, he earned a Grammy nomination for his debut album, O, which went platinum. A versatile entertainer, Omarion has also developed into quite an actor in his own right. On television, he's appeared on The Bernie Mac Show, One on One and Cuts, while on the big screen he's been in You Got Served and Fat Albert.
During the summer of 2005, he found himself caught up in controversy after a publicist issued a press release requesting that fans pray for his safety in the wake of the terrorist train and bus bombings in London. Although he was in the city at the time of the attack, it turned out that he had never been in any danger. Consequently, "Pray for Omarion!" has since become a popular running joke resurrected as a humorous refrain by cynics during any disaster. Safe and sound, here he talks about starring in Feel the Noise, opening this weekend throughout North America, where he plays an aspiring rapper from Harlem who moves to Puerto Rico where he continues to pursue his dream while bonding with the father he never knew.
Kam Williams: Was this role created with you in mind, or did you have to audition?
Omarion: I wouldn't necessarily say that I had to audition, because there really weren't any other guys up for the role. But it was something that my agent found. He said, "Omarion, I think it would be great for your career. And it's different from anything you've ever done, playing a young kid from Harlem who's Puerto Rican and black." So, I went and met with Jennifer Lopez's production team. They told me what they wanted to do, and I felt like it would be a great opportunity.
KW: Given that your breakout role in You Got Served revolved around dancing, how did you feel about making this movie?
O: Actually, I really wanted to take the time to not dance in this film. They wanted me too, but I felt like I really wanted to showcase my acting. I do some dancing, but I don't do any "five, six, seven, eight" stuff.
KW: Was J-Lo a hands-on producer?
O: Yes, she actually came down to the set, and she said, "Omarion, I saw some of the dailies. You're doing a really, really great job. Keep doing your thing." That she was so supportive was real nice.
KW: What's the gist of the picture?
Sugar Ray Leonard Biopic In The Works
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 10, 2007 ) *Another famous Ray is about to have his life turned into a motion picture. Variety is reporting that a biopic is being planned on Sugar Ray Leonard, a prominent and popular boxer during the late 70s and 80s who held belts in several weight classes. Kevin Pollak's Red Bird Cinema is behind the project, which will be written by "Friday Night Lights" screenwriter H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger. "I have been approached many times in the past regarding my life story, and I believe Red Bird Cinema has the perfect group of collaborators to give my story the right voice," said Leonard. The 51-year-old former fighter has won historic matches against Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler. During his career, he has picked up WBC and WBA championships, as well as a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Leonard is one of only two boxers to have been world champion in five different weight classes. He is currently a mentor to young boxers on the ESPN reality series, "The Contender."
Dust Settles On CTVglobemedia Exec
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(October 4, 2007) Four months after CTVglobemedia got a CRTC thumbs up for its $1.4-billion takeover of CHUM, the merged media giant unveiled a new senior management team of 26 – only three of whom hail from CHUM.
At the top of the pile is CTVglobemedia chief executive Ivan Fecan, who said the changes were necessary to ensure that Canada's largest private broadcaster remains stronger than its rivals. “This is the third time we have reinvented our organization in the 12 years I have had the privilege of leading our team,” Fecan said in a release.
In this day and age, he added, the broadcaster's challenges are mounting. “Our entire industry is being transformed by digital media and technology.”
The revamped management structure – which groups channel assets such as CHUM's Space: The Imagination Station into clusters with CTV stations, such as the Comedy Network – names veteran sports executive Rick Brace as president in charge of revenue, business planning and sports. It's a critical posting as the network gears up for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
On the programming side, Susanne Boyce is president in charge of creative, content and channels. Ed Robinson, executive vice-president of programming, is Boyce's right-hand man, with nine other senior vice-presidents reporting to them.
The three CHUM recruits include Stephan Argent (vice-president in charge of digital media); Isme Bennie (general manager of Bravo!); and Marcia Martin (senior vice-president and executive producer of all specials).
Several senior CHUM executives have already left the combined family fold, including chief executive Jay Switzer and Roma Khanna, senior vice-president of content. Soon to depart will be David Kirkwood (executive vice-president, sales and marketing), Peter Palframan (senior vice-president of operations), Ellen Baine (vice-president, programming) and Paul Gratton (vice-president of entertainment specialty channels).
“When something like this happens, change is inevitable,” said spokeswoman Bonnie Brownlee. “Most people were given a choice [to stay or go] so therefore there's no secret here. It's all been very much out in the open. It's been a long and very thoughtful process.”
HGTV Star Begley Sees Tinseltown Slowly Turning Green
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(October 07, 2007) Emmy-nominated actor Ed Begley Jr. doesn't live the life of luxury one might imagine.
An ardent environmentalist, Begley's been recycling and composting since the 1970s, grows his own produce, and lives in a 1936 two-bedroom home outfitted with a rain barrel, solar panels and a wind turbine.
He only flies when absolutely necessary, instead preferring to drive his hybrid car or ride his bicycle, and even first courted his wife, Rachelle Carson Begley, on public transportation.
"I took her on a bus on a date," Begley, who is best known for playing Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the hit 1980s series St. Elsewhere, says over the line from Los Angeles.
"Miniskirt. High heels. Bus," he says proudly, pausing in between each word for effect.
Eco-friendly, organic living is not exceptional in Hollywood anymore, though, says Begley, whose green-themed series Living With Ed premieres in Canada tonight on HGTV at 9 p.m.
"It's greened up a lot," he says of Tinseltown.
"Over the years it's been known for excess and limousines ... and back in 1990, a lot of people started moving in another direction. There's a group, the Environmental Media Association, and others that tried to move things in another direction to have a green production guide ... and we've been very successful."
Living With Ed, which has already started airing in the U.S., follows the Begleys, who have a young daughter, as they make their lifestyle as environmentally friendly as possible.
Their home has skylights, Solatube lighting, a solar oven and a stationary bicycle that's hooked up to their house batteries so it can provide power to the home when pedalled. In the first episode of their series, Begley boasts that 10 minutes of pedalling on the bike produced enough energy for him to make toast for breakfast.
Their yard is also marked off with a fence made from recycled milk jugs, and their kitchen countertop is made of recycled glass.
Carson Begley isn't always up for her husband's ideas, though. She gets frustrated that his giant, Earth-friendly machines and fruit trees have taken over the whole backyard and she'd prefer to live in a bigger home.
Still, she says being on the series has reformed her to some degree.
"Probably the most apparent is the recycling. I recycle everything, or I think about it before I throw it away, that's for sure," says Carson Begley, one of the show's producers.
Begley says their camera crew is also trying to reduce its carbon footprint by driving hybrid cars, carpooling, charging camera equipment on their house and using energy-efficient lighting.
In fact, many film sets are using energy-efficient methods, he says.
"They're recycling a lot more at the studios," says Begley, who bought an electric car in 1970 because he was "fed up with the smog in L.A."
"They're using a lot more energy-efficient generators and lighting, they're cutting down a lot of waste, a lot of lumber that used to be thrown away is now recycled but there's more to be done."
Many of their celebrity friends are as passionate about the cause as they are, they say, including actors Daryl Hannah, Alexandra Paul and Betty Thomas, who has a wind turbine on her house.
Larry Hagman of Dallas fame also has "football fields of solar," says Carson Begley, while musician Jackson Browne "has an entirely self-sufficient house."
The Begleys' neighbour, William S. Nye (a.k.a. Bill Nye the Science Guy), has also equipped his home with environmentally friendly devices and he and Ed have "a little bit of a competition going on" when it comes to Earth-friendly living, says Carson Begley.
The point of the show isn't to highlight celebrity environmentalism, says Begley. It's to outline small steps that can lead to big results.
"I urge everybody to listen to this one thing if they hear nothing else – you pick the low-hanging fruit first, you do what is cheapest and easiest, you do stuff that you can in your budget," he says.
"No one's suggesting that everybody can afford to put up solar, that everybody can afford to put up a wind turbine or to buy a hybrid car but I think everybody can afford a light bulb. I can't imagine there's very many people that couldn't afford an energy-saving thermostat.
"I can't imagine anybody would couldn't afford a bicycle if weather and fitness permit. All those things are dirt cheap. Home gardening, again, literally dirt cheap and you start there and you build."
Ladies, Hide Your Bras. The Fashion
Police Are Coming
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Elizabeth Renzetti
(October 6, 2007) LONDON — 'Stand up, darling!" One of them, Trinny or Susannah, has issued this command from the depths of the sofa, but it's hard to distinguish between their voices, plummy and plummier.
There is no question of disobeying - the warden at a maximum-security women's prison could learn something about issuing orders from these two - and so, reluctantly, I stand up.
"She's an apple," says Trinny.
"She's a brick," says Susannah.
"An apple or a brick."
"No," says Susannah, with the dispassion of a housewife presented with yesterday's liver, now half-price, "she's definitely a brick."
"Yes," Trinny finally agrees, "you're right. No waist and no bottom."
Okay, wait a minute. Even the most milquetoast, peace-loving Canadian needs to stand up for herself at some point, especially after being compared to a heavy, rectangular object.
"Don't be upset," Susannah consoles. "The brick is FABULOUS. It's very easy to dress a brick. Kate Moss is a brick!"
Well, then. That takes the sting away. At least they haven't tried to cop a feel - they're notorious and self-confessed bosom-grabbers, these two. If there's a breast within walking distance, either Trinny or Susannah will reach for it, because an improperly fitted bra fills them with horror.
Trinny and Susannah are Britain's most famous fashion police, a manicured-and-highlighted Holmes and Watson on the trail of sartorial crime.
They rose to fame trying to improve women's fashion choices - their camel toes and split ends and saggy bras - on a BBC show called What Not to Wear, which they defected from, quite noisily, a couple of years ago. Everything Trinny and Susannah do is in the name of fashion - the pair have even conducted "bra interventions" on women in Oprah's studio audience.
Then there's their new book on dressing for your shape, The Body Shape Bible, which gives rise to the "brick" conversation; their line of clothing and girdles; and their new show Trinny & Susannah Undress, which airs Friday nights on BBC Canada.
What's the difference between Trinny and Susannah and the legions of fashion and self-improvement gurus who've followed? For one thing, in the U.K. they were the first, arriving at a moment in 2001 when the British were embracing reality television and shedding their inhibitions along with their unfashionable clothes. And then there's the country's masochistic streak - who doesn't like to get bossed around by a posh-talking bird who disdains your taste in shoes?
In Britain, where they have become celebrities regarded with a mixture of awe, affection and derision, the Trinny & Susannah concept is a highly successful brand, like Lea & Perrins or Marks & Spencer. Really, though, the phenomenon is made up of two symbiotic halves. Trinny Woodall, 43, wife and mother of one, shape: pear, and Susannah Constantine, 45, wife and mother of three, shape: vase. They are both privately educated, potty-mouthed, bossy and artfully unaffected. My favourite Trinny quote, prior to meeting her, was this, delivered to a journalist from The Times of London as she exited a room: "I'm going to do a pee that might turn into a poo."
In person, the ladies don't disappoint. They are languorous and lion-maned, both curled up in the library of a boutique hotel in their natural environment, the moneyed enclave of South Kensington. The room is stuffy, overfurnished, like a Victorian drawing room, and there are plates everywhere, each one eaten clean.
"Do I have time to have ice cream?" asks Trinny, who is the width of a chive. "Because I'd like to eat more ice cream and burst out of this dress." The dress is a navy sheath over a white organza blouse, accessorized with a man's silver watch and a pair of profoundly beautiful beige Chloe slingbacks with a four-inch heel. "I have to wear shoes this colour to make my legs look longer," says Trinny, while shovelling in the ice cream. She holds up a perfect leg. "I've got cankles, you see."
Susannah, slightly curvier, is wearing a silver cardigan and flared trousers from their line of clothing for Littlewoods, a mail-order outlet whose customers, let's just say, do not live in South Kensington. "You should buy this top," Susannah says, shrewdly. "It would suit your shape." Somehow she keeps herself from adding, "you big brick."
Imagine these two towering, boarding-school dollies landing in some out-of-the-way place, let's say rural Aberdeenshire in Scotland, like glossy aliens from a planet with much better shops. This is what happens in the first episode of Trinny & Susannah Undress, in which they meet Ellie, a very tall mother of two autistic boys, and her much shorter partner Lester, who cannot be arsed - as Trinny and Susannah might say - to get out of his horrible old sweatpants and make an effort to seduce his wife.
The girls take Lester and Ellie shopping; Trinny buys Ellie her first bra in perhaps 20 years, and, heaving poor Ellie's bosoms skywards - I told you they couldn't keep their hands to themselves - demands, "Are we proud of our breasts, Ellie?" Susannah takes Lester out shopping and tells him that monochromatic colours make him look taller, which seems like the kind of thing a short, middle-aged man might have learned earlier in life.
This show is a departure for the ladies: In Undress, they're working on couples with dysfunctional marriages, who have, in essence, given up on themselves and each other. But do they really think that buying her some new lingerie and throwing out his disgusting old T-shirts is going to save a marriage? Susannah thinks so. "We're using clothes as the key to unlock the relationship, where maybe the doors of communication have been shut for a long time."
However well-meaning - and there is no doubt that they are - Trinny and Susannah have come in for a bit of a clobbering over their new show. They're not proper marriage counsellors, yelped the professionals. "We have been criticized for crossing the boundary," says Susannah, "but if you watch the show you'll see we don't provide solutions. They have to find it themselves." They also have to find each other starkers, thanks to a segment called The Naked Truth, in which the couples are required to strip down and look at each other - you know, really look at each other - in the buff. Thankfully, we see them only in silhouette. One woman balked at the last moment, and Susannah - putting on her best head-girl voice, no doubt - ordered her to strip or she, Susannah, would take off her own clothes instead.
"Susannah would have done," says Trinny, who's now finished her ice cream. (Does she have a portrait of herself in an attic somewhere that just gets fatter by the year?) They are very loyal to each other, these two, despite having nothing in common but the privilege of their backgrounds: Trinny is driven, nervy, controlling; Susannah is calmer, but has the kind of upper-crust efficiency that means she's probably good at strangling chickens. Trinny lives in the city, Susannah in the country. "Her friends are rich," says Susannah, with a hint of self-mockery. "Mine are famous."
They met more than a dozen years ago through a mutual friend, reportedly Viscount Linley, Princess Margaret's son and Susannah's ex-boyfriend. Their first project together was a fashion column for The Daily Telegraph that began in 1994, followed by books, television series, the line of clothing and, to underpin it all, a garment called Magic Knickers (don't worry, the pants will soon be revealed in all their glory).
Along the way, of course, there have been sorrows, mainly Trinny's battle with substance abuse in her early 20s (she no longer drinks) and struggles with miscarriage and in-vitro fertilization. They've both been through therapy. It's for this reason, they say, that they identify with the emotional turmoil of the women they dress. Any suggestion that they're merely Lady Bountifuls engaged in misery tourism through the unfortunate wardrobes of the nation makes them bristle.
"It doesn't matter what your age, where you're from, or your background, we still have the same common denominators," Susannah says. Working with the women in troubled marriages during Trinny & Susannah Undress "brought up a lot of stuff in ourselves. I'd often go home in pieces."
It didn't help that, at home, they would turn on the TV to find the new hosts who replaced them when they left What Not to Wear. The ladies originated the show on the BBC in 2001, where it ran for five years. It was then syndicated around the world. (Launched in 2003, the lame U.S. spinoff never gained the same influence.) When they jumped ship for rival network ITV, the BBC decided to sail on with a fresher crew.
"The first time it was on, Susannah and I did call each other about 19 times, because it was very odd to see someone doing what you do, somebody totally copying what you do, even to how you stand," says Trinny. "It feels like your boyfriend has slept with another woman." They seem to have recovered, however, with their new shows, their new book and their continuing role as evangelists for making the best of what you've got.
"Look," Trinny says, standing up, and for a moment I think, "she's going for the boobs!" But instead she does something equally disconcerting: She flips her skirt up around her shoulders to reveal a pair of what look like blue bike shorts - the famed Trinny & Susannah Magic Knickers, up close. A little too close. "I'm very short from here" - Trinny indicates an area that delicacy forbids me to name, then points to mid-calf -- "to here. I know that. I had to learn to dress for it." The skirt floats down, Trinny announces she's off "for a pee," and it's time for photographs. It's also time to go home and consult The Body Shape Bible (which contains delightfully unflattering 1980s photos of our style queens).
"Don't forget to buy the top!" Susannah shouts as I head out the door. "Only £35 [$71]!" Then, perhaps because she can't help herself, she adds, "But don't get this colour. It's not right for you. Get the gold!"
Iman, Her Royal Highness Of The Runway
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller
(October 6, 2007) Iman isn't borne aloft on a litter wherever she goes by shirtless men waving palm fronds. She just carries herself as if she is. She's not at all pretentious - she's funny, with impeccable manners. But I have never met anyone more regal.
In Toronto to promote her new series, Project Runway Canada (premiering at 10 p.m. Monday on the Slice network), Iman curls up on a couch, tucking her animal-print stilettos beneath her. Her skin is like melted chocolate; her eyes miss nothing. She is tall and flawlessly attired in a gold-sequined jacket over a white, ribbed tank top and dark jeans. But her strongest feature is her voice, which is deep and textured by the five languages she grew up speaking. She enunciates every syllable of every word, rolling her R's and uttering some responses - "Yes! Certainly!" or "No! Why would I?" - as if she were making pronouncements from a podium.
"She sits in this white chair on the set, her arms are stretched out, and she's absolutely regal," says veteran fashion designer Brian Bailey, who mentors the show's 12 contestants. (To those familiar with the four-year-old American version, he's Tim Gunn to Iman's Heidi Klum.) "But I always thought she was mad at me," continues Bailey. "She'd call me: 'Brrrrian!' She'd say, 'But that's how I talk!' We went out for dinner one night, and she said" - here he sits up ramrod straight - " 'I want beef, give me beef!' It's not just about looks, it's about personality. A woman can put on a dress and become something. With Iman, it's already there."
It is instantly obvious that she's fathoms deeper than any fashion stereotype. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1955, Iman was poor until age 10, when her father became an ambassador. "I had then a privileged life, I was chauffeur-driven everywhere," she says. "Eight years later, we became refugees. Non-government organizations are the ones who sustained us. It never left me, the kindness of these strangers."
She's a lifelong supporter of several charities, especially Keep a Child Alive, which provides AIDS drugs to African families. "I'm very touched by the generosity of people in the West who have adopted children from Africa," Iman says, "but my thinking when it comes to AIDS is that we must save their mothers and fathers, because that's who they really need."
In 1975, she began modelling, and "everything was over the top for me again, all this money, everything at my disposal," she says. She smashed through the ranks of Christie Brinkley-like blondes to become a new icon, landing Vogue covers and dominating runway shows. Yves Saint Laurent designed an entire couture collection inspired by her. She shot with Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton (who convinced her to pose nude for her final Vogue shoot by taking off his clothes, too).
"When you have, then have not, you totally understand that life really can change overnight," she says. "You can have no superiority. You can't ever think, 'I'm the shit.' No! Anything can happen to anybody at any time. So that gives me a balance. In fashion, a major statement is like, 'Black is the new black.' You have to laugh it off."
When Klum phoned her to be a guest judge on Project Runway, Iman agreed - if Klum would promote Iman's book, The Beauty of Color. She later signed on to host the show's Canadian version because it was an easy commute from New York, where she lives with her husband of 15 years, pop star David Bowie; and it shot in summer when their daughter Alexandria, 7, was not in school. (Her daughter Zulekha, from her marriage to pro basketball player Spencer Haywood, graduated from Michigan State University, and now works in sales at Iman's company.)
Though she isn't a reality-TV fan, Iman admires Project Runway "because it's not salacious. We don't try to create hyperbolic, unrealistic dramas. But the creative force, the agony of the blank canvas, is really something to see." Her advice for the aspiring designers was not to think locally - "It's not about Toronto. Fashion is global" - and "No woman needs another dress. We need things to uplift us in our daily lives. That's what their jobs are."
Her approach to her personal life is equally firm. "The secret is privacy. Nobody thinks mystery is important any more; people feel any PR is good PR. But if you draw a line, people won't cross it. For me, home is not allowed, my daughters are not allowed."
She laughs conspiratorially. "Also, when I got married, my husband and I had done it all," she says. "I partied at Studio 54 till 8 a.m. There wasn't anything new to do except settle down. I've always prided myself that I had the foresight to leave the party when it's time to leave. And thank God I did it all back then. Now something silly you do is on YouTube and the whole world sees it. They talk about Lindsay Lohan and I think, 'Poor kid, she's barely 21.' For what I did, they have no proof!"
About family life, Iman does say, "Definitely, it helps if your partner is, to you, funny and entertaining. My husband is a constant amusement to me. ... He's interested in everything. And he loves everything I cook for him." She cooks "every night except Sunday. I refuse to cook Sunday! But I love my two daughters sitting at the counter and cooking with me. Everybody asks, 'Aren't you tired?' Yes. Most of the time I'm tired. But it's a big service to my family to eat meals together."
Bowie and Alexandria, who loves to draw, have a standing date on Tuesdays to visit museums and galleries, and Bowie "thinks Toronto has the best modern dance in the world," Iman says. They also just got a puppy, Max, half Cavalier King Charles spaniel, half Havanese. "Somebody said to me today, 'You lost weight.' I said, 'I've been walking the dog! It's a constant walk!' My husband refuses to walk him. He said, 'I can't walk small dogs.' But the dog does lie on him." She laughs. "My life is a bit chaotic, but it's exactly what it's supposed to be."
I marvel again at her level-headedness. "I'm 52, so I have that going for me," she says. "Fashion can be an assault on identity. You can lose yourself totally, especially now, when it's more about selling a brand than the personality of the model."
She calls the pressure to be extremely thin and to alter one's body "atrocious. What is size zero, the air? Also, I had breast augmentation in 1983. I would never do it again. People say, 'It made me feel better' - no. It didn't change anything. If it did, you'd see more of my boobs. But I leave them under cover. And my designer friends gave me a lashing for it."
We have time for one last pronouncement. "Older women have something that no young girl ever could have: a sense of humour and a lot of experience," Iman says. "Don't concentrate on, 'My legs don't look as good as they used to.' You're much sexier than you think. This is the fashion motto that I live by: 'In a world of trends, I remain a classic.' " Not to mention, a goddess.
Mo'nique Gets 'Ugly' For ABC
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 5, 2007) *Betty will soon have some stiff competition for her man Henry on ABC's "Ugly Betty." According to TV Guide, comedian Mo'Nique will make a guest appearance on the series as a weekend receptionist at Mode, the high fashion magazine where Betty, played by Emmy-winner America Ferrera, works as an assistant to the editor. Mo'Nique's character will have a massive crush on Betty's lovable ex-boyfriend Henry, who works in the accounting office of the magazine. According to TV Guide, she's only scheduled to appear in one episode, which will air sometime in late November or early December. Her next big screen appearance will take place in February with the release of "The Better Man," co-starring Mike Epps, Martin Lawrence, Ced the Entertainer, James Earl Jones and Michael Clarke Duncan.
Birth Of A Nightclub
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(October 04, 2007) Why it will work
1. It’s new — Big clubs get a six-month grace period in this town while they’re still the hot new thing. Everyone will want to check out the space, and considering all the hype for Circa, it’s only going to be magnified. But there are also some things we’ve never seen before. The “Sensacell” bar — with lighting that reacts to touch — is like partying in a Tron future world. The “Washroom” zone features a bar that looks like a giant toilet bowl. It’s this attention to detail that will wow clubgoers.
2. Peter Gatien — Despite some negative publicity, he wasn’t New York’s club king for nothing. He’s supremely confident, but even with a string of club successes all over the U.S., this is probably the most important. His first club in the Toronto market signals his path to redemption — and a chance to help remake the Entertainment District.
3. Putting the art in party — Gatien has forged ties with local and international artists to create a culturally relevant nightclub. All the walls are covered with murals, installations, mannequins in fetish wear and other art installations. Kidrobot, the renowned pop-culture toy manufacturer, is opening its first Canadian showroom/bar in the space. There are enough touches that make a space that used to seem too cavernous visually appealing.
4. Good promoters — With Jeff Rogers formerly of the Drake, A.D/D. and some other known club commodities (like general manager Orin Bristol, formerly of System Soundbar), the club already has connections with tastemakers who should have the smarts to fill the venue with interesting shows. While everyone is excited about opening weekend, the real bangin’ night to look forward to is ultra-hot French dance act Justice, whose Oct. 18 show was moved to Circa from nearby Republik.
5. It’s about time — Things change or they fade away. The Entertainment District has been on life support for too long and is too important for this city to let languish.
Over the past few years, many partiers have moved to other areas like Kensington, King and Queen West to shake their moneymakers. If any nightclub can rejuvenate the area, it’s Circa, which will hopefully raise the bar for neighbouring clubs.
Why it won’t work
1. The appeal — In six weeks’ time, Circa faces an appeal of its liquor licence. While anyone who has read the original 27-page licence decision knows it was strongly in the club’s favour, all eyes are on the club — there are some who are looking for a reason to shut it down. The next six weeks are crucial, where nothing too big, too bad or too noisy can happen. Which brings us to.....
2. The authorities — When Circa originally planned to open for last month’s film festival, but was delayed, inspectors still showed up on Sept. 7. The bar had to fight to get its license, and local councillor Adam Vaughan is on record as saying the area simply cannot handle a new club. The kind of scrutiny that the bar is under — and how it reacts — has a good chance of affecting its future.
3. The area — Circa plans on going after an older, more sophisticated audience than the average Entertainment District club. Can it draw that crowd on a regular basis? Won’t it need youngsters? The hope is that Circa sparks a renaissance in the area, causing other clubs to reload in the face of new competition. But with decisions like putting a homeless shelter around the corner (at Richmond and Peter Sts.), and increasing condo-fication, conflicts between residents and club owners will likely continue.
4. Cursed location — First Playdium, then Lucid. Two business ventures with high ambitions have already failed in the same space. Is the third time the charm? Lucid caused problems because of its line-up, which was hard to manage and extended across the street. Circa has made room for an indoor line-up, but it could still have problems on a really busy night.
5. Changing tastes — Does the sophisticated audience Circa is after really want to go to a mega-club? With a capacity of 2,800, Circa is going to need all kinds of attractions to fill the space — since there are few things worse than a giant club that feels empty.
Circa: First impression
Based on looks alone, Circa is clubbing taken to the next level. The intricacy of the design, and the intimacy of the spaces within the larger space is impressive. And despite some possible opposition ahead, Peter Gatien is someone we wouldn't bet against. Address: 126 John St., circatoronto.com
Confessions Of A Terminal Deadbeat Millionaire Slacker
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams
(October 5, 2007) Warning: Some of the contents in this story may be offensive to some Globe and Mail readers.
One approaches a Kevin Smith handshake with a certain degree of trepidation, as most anyone who has seen Smith's second movie, 1995's Mallrats, will attest.
But on a recent morning in downtown Toronto, the man who very likely gave the world its first filmed version of the “stinky palm” trick was on his best, or at least semi-best, behaviour. “It's freshly washed,” he declares, offering his right paw.
“Whoring out” (Smith lingo for “promoting”) was what had brought the director of Clerks and Chasing Amy to town. In this case, he's whoring for – of all things – a fat, chunky book, one written by his own short, stocky self. Called My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith, its 470-plus print-packed pages cover virtually all the lewd 'n' rude dude days of Smith's life between March, 2005, and November, 2006.
One says “of all things” because, at 37, Smith doesn't usually even read books, let alone write them. True, he recently read Live from New York: An Uncensored [Oral] History of Saturday Night Live, and he's fond of graphic novels and comic books. He even owns two comic-book stores.
But all this doesn't count: “It's been I don't know how long since I did a real book,” he admits, “and I think that's kind of a shame.”
He doesn't remember what that real book was, but it probably was perused some time in the early 1990s, before this working-class, Catholic-raised native of Red Bank, N.J., became an indie auteur, screenwriter, movie producer ( Good Will Hunting), actor (yes, that was him as the Warlock in Live Free or Die Hard), comic-book scripter ( Daredevil, Green Arrow) and a director for the new CW television network series Reaper. Somewhere in there, too, Smith fathered a daughter with wife Jennifer Schwalbach, a former USA Today reporter, whom they named Harley Quinn (a.k.a. the Quinnster) after a Batman villain.
“Reading takes a lot of work, y'know. You have to commit your concentration to it.”
Smith doesn't think My Boring Ass-Life is a “real book,” even though it looks like a book, feels like a book, is priced like a book ($19.95 in Canada), and his mom, Grace, thinks it's a book. “But I feel real weird calling it that,” he confesses, largely because almost all of it first appeared on the electronic confessional of his blog, and for free at that.
It's about the only way a publisher will ever get a book out of Smith. “If someone gave me a bunch of money and said, ‘We want you to write a book,' I wouldn't be able to accomplish it. I have to accidentally step into these kinds of things. The beauty of this was that it was already written. I fell in love with that idea.”
Indeed, the only new material in Ass-Life is the introduction (in which he explains how the blog was prompted by the query of an exasperated fan: “What do you do all day?”) and the conclusion (a lengthy but fascinating account of Smith's involvement in Die Harder). That last section, he says, “took me a better part of a year to do, and it was only finished, like, two or three months ago.
“The only part I'm kinda proud of,” he declares, is a 70-page stretch detailing his strenuous, heart-rending efforts to try to save actor and “partner-in-crime” Jason Mewes (a.k.a. Jay, of Jay and Silent Bob infamy) from an addiction to heroin and OxyContin. Otherwise, the book is, he says, “basically a real good toilet companion full of useless information,” including more than anyone might wish to know about acts of sexual atonement, the etiquette of nose-picking, the pain of anal fissures, the shame of man boobs and the peculiarity of sharing the same proctologist as Sidney Poitier.
He laughs. “People picking up this thing should be happy I got married and had a kid. Can you imagine if I was doing this 10 years ago or whatever? It would be like, ‘Got up, played video games all day long and went back to sleep.'”
Smith has called Los Angeles home for five years, and now resides with wife, daughter, in-laws (Byron and Gail), two dogs (Scully and Mulder) and assorted hangers-on in a large house previously owned by pal Ben Affleck. He also has several connections to Canada, including a brief stint, in 1992, at the Vancouver Film School, where he picked up the rudiments he used for Clerks.
Yet for all his affection for this country (“I dig the socialized medicine and the crime statistics”) and his Canadian pals (including Jim Jackman, former producer of DeGrassi: The Next Generation) , he'll never live here, thanks to its anemic retail sector. “You want to choose from 30 different kinds of peanut butter, you get your ass to America,” he writes. “You want to decide between, say, three? Oh, Canada … . When I hit the food store, I need variety, bitch.”
While the boy has taken himself out of central Jersey, clearly there's still a lot of central Jersey in the boy. He retains a fondness for the semi-eccentric garb – dark T-shirts, baggy jeans, almost cape-like overcoats, Vans-style footwear – he sported 14 years ago when he made Clerks in 21 bleary-eyed days for all of $27,575 (U.S.). And if he's riding a stationary bike in his rec room, well, let's just say he's got to pay it a few more visits.
He declares that “life in L.A. is not that different from life in Jersey. I tend not to leave the house a lot, and when I do, it's to eat” – in the book, he sings the praises of Quiznos, Starbucks, KooKooRoo and McDonald's – “or to pick up DVDs, or to go to the comic store. I don't go to celebrity events. I'm not a scenester. I don't schmooze. Sure, the weather's nicer than in Jersey, stuff stays open later, and you get to see a few more free movies, and the image projection and the sound quality is a lot better. But that's about it.”
Of course, some might deem Smith's slackerly nonchalance to be, now, more pose than existential choice. Dude, after all, is a multimillionaire. He has Salma Hayek's home phone number. Harvey Weinstein takes him to Cannes. Harley Quinn attends private school. Bruce Willis wants to collaborate, and so does Zach Braff.
“I always seem to have a lot of plates spinning at the same time,” he says, “but I never feel ambitious.” In fact, he claims to have been ambitious just “once in my life: before and during the making of Clerks. Everything since then has come rather easily.”
Coming up, easily or otherwise, are two Smith-written movies that he plans to direct, back to back, in 2008. One is called Zack and Miri Make a Porno, about two long-time chums in their late 20s who decide to get into the porn biz and show the results at their high-school reunion. The other, Red State, is being billed as a horror movie.
Smith is the first to admit he's not the world's greatest director. If anything, his forte is his off-kilter writing, particularly its breezy, shameless way with myriad bodily functions from breaking wind to “snow-balling” (which involves an unusual way of exchanging precious fluids). But Smith isn't going to give up the directorial side any time soon.
“You always hear stories about writers who get their stuff taken away from them, and changed. … I just want to maintain the integrity of the material.” He pauses. “Which is nonsense, because some of what I write has no integrity whatsoever.”
Mort Sahl - Not Just A Real Stand-Up Guy
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner
(October 6, 2007) Long before there was Bill Maher and Dennis Miller, there was a stand-up comic named Mort Sahl.
To call him a stand-up comic, of course, is a gross injustice, since when he first appeared on the nightclub scene in the early 1950s, performing at the hungry in San Francisco, Sahl - Montreal-born but California-raised - revolutionized the comedic form.
He wasn't interested in cute observations about airline meals, mothers-in-law or family pets. What he was interested in - passionately - was the world at large, political events, the currents of state. Dressed in casual slacks and a V-neck sweater, he'd take a newspaper up on stage and use various stories to riff off the absurdities and criminal incompetence of our elites. A satirist in the Lenny Bruce mould, but without his sad excesses, or the cocaine and alcohol binges.
Sahl didn't tell jokes so much as he offered a form of lacerative comic analysis. Amazingly, he is still offering it. Eighty years old, sharp as a laser beam, he's now teaching a course in critical thinking in contemporary politics twice a week at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., and appearing in clubs and theatres from time to time. Canadians will have a rare opportunity to see him this weekend, tonight in Montreal at Club Soda and tomorrow night in Toronto at the Leah Posluns Centre.
"Performing, that's the lifeblood," Sahl said in a recent interview. "I don't know how to keep alive without that."
This past June, Sahl's showbiz friends threw him a gala 80th birthday party. They all came out, in person or by video, including Maher, Richard Lewis, George Carlin, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Jonathan Winters, Paula Poundstone, Harry Shearer, Bob Newhart, Albert Brooks, Woody Allen and Don Rickles. In August, he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival.
Sahl's humour has lost nothing of its bite. He ridicules the Democrats as the kind of people who "form a firing squad by standing in a circle, dismisses the Republicans by asking, "If you look at them, would you believe in evolution?"
George W. Bush? "I met George Bush once and he told me he had been reborn. 'Reborn?' I said. 'You were reborn and you came back as George Bush?' "
But he isn't always joking. About Bill Clinton, he said: "I thought he was an opportunist, a guy who'd do anything. He bombed civilians in Belgrade and sent cruise missiles into the Sudan. He never reined in the intelligence agencies."
During a career that has spanned six decades, Sahl appeared in five Broadway shows, wrote jokes for former presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, hosted the Academy Awards ceremony, wrote 18 screenplays and an autobiography, Heartland, and was the first humorist to make the cover of Time magazine (1960).
He was also the first performer to record a comedy album and, as a non-musician, win a Grammy; and the first to perform live comedy on college campuses.
But Sahl's career went into freefall when, disillusioned by the Kennedy administration, he began to take satirical shots at them. Nightclub owners cancelled his gigs, fearful that if they gave him a platform, they'd be subject to harassment by the IRS. Sahl's income plunged from the stratosphere to the low teens.
It grew worse. After Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Sahl became convinced that the president had been the victim not of Lee Harvey Oswald, but of a de facto coup d'état.
He dived into the case, then met and became deputized by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who was leading the investigation.
At the time, only a small minority of Americans doubted the truth of the Warren Commission, which, convened by Congress, had declared Oswald the lone gunman in Dallas's Dealey Plaza.
But Sahl took to reading sections from the commission's final report during his nightclub acts. He thought the material was funny. Audiences weren't so sure. He became a pariah. His regular spot on Ed Sullivan's variety show, where he had appeared 20 times, was suddenly cancelled. (Sahl was said to be the inspiration for Paddy Chayefsky's Howard Beale character in the 1976 movie Network.)
Kennedy, Sahl notes, was really the "last president to oppose war. After him, all the generals are green berets, the counterinsurgency guys. Garrison used to say to me the government liked to create hysteria. If you keep the people destabilized, you can get away with anything."
Of course, he notes, very few Americans today believe the Warren Commission's version of events.
"Now, no one in America believes anything the government says - even if it's accurate."
For information on this weekend's appearances contact Ticketpro (Montreal) or Ticketmaster (Toronto).
The sayings of Mort Sahl
Most people past college age are not atheists. It's too hard to be in society, for one thing. Because you don't get any days off. And if you're an agnostic you don't know whether you get them off or not.
A yuppie is someone who believes it's courageous to eat in a restaurant that hasn't been
I met this girl ... very aggressively ... I just walked up to her and I said "Who are you? I have to know who you are." It's a good opener, but you can't sustain that level of excitement. Later on chicks start complaining the relationship doesn't have that much drive any more. You have to remind them, "I'm the guy who ran up and said 'Who are you?' " And they always say "Well, you never do that any more." And you have to say "Yes, and I still don't know who you are."
I took a course once called Statistical Analysis. And there was a guy in the course who used to make up all his computations and he never used sigma. He used his own initials. 'Cause he was the standard deviation.
Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen.
I took Benzedrine - I got clairvoyance. With Benzedrine you can have a very wide view of the world, like you can decide the destiny of man and other pressing problems, such as which is the left sock?
He was wearing a velvet shirt open to the navel. And he didn't have one. Which is either a show-business gimmick, or the ultimate rejection of mother.
There were four million people in the Colonies and we had Jefferson and Franklin. Now we have over 200 million and the two top guys are Clinton and Dole. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!
On Mel Gibson:
A perfect example of how you can go wrong if you love your parents.
There's so much Botox around now that you can't tell when a Jewish girl is angry.
On Michael Eisner:
Say what you will, he made the monorail run on time.
On Diane Sawyer:
If you're really having a run of bad luck, she walks with you in a field.
God is watching us. If we support someone we don't believe in and say he's electable, then God will make sure he's not elected and hope we do better the next time.
About his ideology:
I'm not a liberal, I'm a radical!
About Richard M. Nixon:
Would you buy a used car from this man?
About Wernher von Braun:
He aimed for the stars and often hit London.
To Otto Preminger about his film Exodus:
"Otto - let my people go"
(reputed - referring to its 220-minute length)
Asked his motto:
If you can't join them, beat them.
If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason.
Online Video Contest Fights Muslim
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(October 04, 2007) SAN FRANCISCO – An online film contest boasting celebrity judges, including actor Danny Glover and Mariane Pearl, is calling for entries that tell of the American Muslim experience.
The "One Nation, Many Voices" competition started taking submissions on Tuesday of films lasting five minutes or less. The winner will be awarded a $20,000 cash prize as well as a debut on Link TV.
The contest aims to bring attention to experiences that show what all Americans have in common and to challenge stereotypes, the event's promoters said.
"For all of us living in the U.S., there's certainly more that unites us than separates us," said Kim Spencer, president of news and culture channel Link TV. The channel is sponsoring the competition along with One Nation, a collaborative that seeks to use the media to challenge stereotypes of Muslims.
Categories include drama, comedy, documentary, and animation/music. There are also separate categories for films of one minute or less and videos produced by youth. Entries must be submitted by Nov. 25.
Viewers have until Nov. 30 to vote online to select the finalists, which will then be evaluated by a panel of judges.
Pearl is the widow of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by Islamic extremists while reporting for the Wall Street Journal in Pakistan in 2002. "A Mighty Heart," the film about her ordeal after the kidnapping, opened in June.
Toronto's Nuit Blanche Was Supposed To Be All About Art. It
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Russell Smith
(October 4, 2007) In 2002, an all-night art festival was held in Paris. The idea was to keep galleries and public art spaces open all night, and to have outdoor installations and activities in the streets. It was called Nuit Blanche (a French idiom for “sleepless night”), and that name was kept when Toronto copied the event last year. That night was such a fabulous success – such a magical evening of wonder and fun and dazzled crowds – that everybody in Toronto was looking forward to a repeat event, held last weekend. Indeed, we were so proud of the sophistication of last year's event – when the great museums were open all night long and there were sudden performances in parks and on street corners, projection screens everywhere – we were so proud of this we were sure that cities across Canada would start copying the model, that this country would be known for its annual art orgies.
But this year, the mood the next day was widely disappointed. Almost everybody I spoke to was disgruntled: The crowds had tripled, the art had dwindled. Everybody was stuck in traffic human or vehicular, the whole night. The city was in total immobile gridlock. And where was the art? Every now and then, you'd pass a gallery that was open and it would be so jammed with people you'd be exhausted just contemplating working your way in. There were queues outside some of the big university buildings so long that it would take you half an hour even to find out what you were queuing for.
In the parks and on the streets were mostly just a bunch of goofy things – people dressed in costumes or singing silly songs. There were balloons holding up strings of lights. Whatever. It was a great night for quirk.
What had changed? Well, for one thing, the name was never abbreviated this year. The organizers and the city were very careful to insist on the technical name for the event in all the publicity and signage. It wasn't Nuit Blanche, it was the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. The bank's logo was on every marquee and banner – as were a dozen other logos. It's funny, there was a marathon on the same weekend, also sponsored by Scotiabank. The whole town seemed owned and run by Scotiabank, whose name and emblem were repeated like the flags of an insecure political party. “It was a lovely weekend,” said a weary friend the next day. “Was the full moon brought to us by Scotiabank?”
The Royal Ontario Museum, which had had such brilliant and eclectic show last year, and which had been so lovely to see all full of suburban kids marvelling at contemporary installations and arguing about what it meant, was closed for a private party. On the steps, behind the velvet ropes, a few corpulent gentlemen in dark suits had come out to smoke cigars and survey the unlucky throng on the street.
The people outside had various tents to shuffle through, all offering some kind of brief video under the proud banners of corporate sponsors. And all around – particularly in the tony Yorkville zone – were things pretending to be art that weren't. There were DJs playing rather standard house music, paid for by some company or other. Some stores were open late, to sell things. There was an interesting art piece inside an old meeting hall – a series of “secular confession booths” for those who wanted to anonymously confess sins. I couldn't get in because of the lengthy queue, and also because I was so annoyed by the event's sponsors. This event was brought to us by Ritter Sport chocolates, and a good 10 metres of sidewalk outside the show were taken up by their noisy promotions. Their shills were slapping stickers on cars, giving away chocolates, trying to get people to fill out surveys, and just shouting.
Irritated already by the terrible ratio of art to product, I got angry. Who the hell gave away 10 metres of public space to this company, and what did we get in return? On this night of all nights – it was supposed to be about art. It was just unseemly, unseemly and rude, to dominate this evening of intellectual and aesthetic activity with aggressive selling. I resolved never to buy Ritter chocolates again. (This won't be difficult, as they aren't good chocolates.) Yes, I know the art wouldn't be put on at all if it weren't for these generous sponsors. But we must remember, when we're signing these deals, that our patrons will take as much as we give them. It's up to us to strike harder bargains with these corporate friends. We have to start telling them that if they want to become involved with art, they must let the art take centre stage. We will affix their logo and use their name and that's it: no pitching a huge sales counter outside. It's not a damn mall.
Of course, some people remember a time when the state used to fund these things in their entirety, and we didn't have to give up control of our art and our public spaces to corporations. Ridiculous, I know.
Roy Thomson Hall Turns 25
Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
(October 06, 2007) Beatles fans would have recognized the scrawl: "Pleasure to play here," it reads, followed by the signature of Paul McCartney.
Charles S. ("Charlie") Cutts, president and CEO of Roy Thomson Hall, had it blown up and framed for his office last year when Sir Paul signed the visitors' book following a private concert for Lexus.
Cutts takes special pride in that book – and the signatures that range from those of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to just about every major musical artist of the past quarter century. In effect, it is a silver anniversary album this season, as the hall celebrates 25 years of service to Toronto.
As part of the celebrations, Riccardo Chailly, fondly remembered from his concerts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, returns Tuesday to conduct Italy's pre-eminent orchestra, the La Scala Philharmonic, with Canada's pre-eminent tenor, Ben Heppner, as soloist, fully 86 years after Arturo Toscanini led the orchestra of Milan's great opera house in a landmark concert at Massey Hall.
Massey Hall was Toronto's signature music venue until architect Arthur Erickson's glass-sheathed pleasure palace arrived at the corner of King and Simcoe Sts. in September 1982. The two venues are still jointly managed, and it was the board of Massey Hall, goaded by Toronto Symphony president Edward A. Pickering, that decided a vintage 1894 facility would be inadequate to serve the growing needs of an international metropolis.
"We owe everything to Ed Pickering," insists Cutts. "Everybody thinks the new hall was a fait accompli, but it required the biggest cultural fundraising campaign ever mounted in Canada."
Pickering recruited prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Ontario premier William Davis, Metro chairman Paul Godfrey and mayor David Crombie as honorary chairmen; the corporate community joined the three levels of government to provide basic funding.
And yet, after all this effort, the $57-million hall was still $4.5 million short of its fundraising goal. Enter the family of the late newspaper baron Roy Thomson, who closed the gap, giving what was originally known as New Massey Hall its definitive name.
Cutts acknowledges now that a strategic error may have been made by the Massey Hall-Roy Thomson Hall board in promising the three levels of government that the board wouldn't return for operating subsidies if they contributed significantly to the new hall's construction costs. But there was no precedent for such a project.
With the passage of years the hall's deficiencies came to be seen – or, rather, heard – in marked contrast with pre-construction press releases promising Torontonians not just a fine hall but, rashly, the finest concert hall in the world.
When the Toronto Symphony Orchestra went on tour, performing in such admired halls as Vienna's Musikverein, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and New York's Carnegie Hall, the players soon enough realized that the hearing problems they were experiencing on stage and their lack of visceral impact on the audiences back home related to the fact that they had moved from a traditional space with a warm acoustic to an overly large one constructed in a non-traditional shape.
Not that pleasing the players of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and their audience represented the hall's only mandate. From the beginning, Roy Thomson Hall sought to serve a variety of musical tastes. Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald performed one of her final concerts there. Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan packed the place.
For that matter – through Warner Brothers cartoons – so did Bugs Bunny, surely the leading conductor among the rabbits of his generation. Bugs Bunny on Broadway, which played to delighted audiences around Christmas of 2000, employed a live orchestra to accompany the screening of cartoons.
When he came on board as manager in 1992, Cutts recognized the need for even further diversification. The early dream of a Canadian Carnegie Hall, with Live from Roy Thomson Hall national broadcasts by the CBC and expensive classical music series, had pointed the institution toward bankruptcy.
"The term `show business' has a second word to it," the new manager explained, "and we weren't paying enough attention to it. We were corpulent."
With his accountant's background augmenting years of experience running the O'Keefe (now Sony) Centre, Cutts put the house on a crash diet, taking less than five weeks to terminate one employee in four.
"We probably ran too thin for a while," he admits, "but we turned a $600,000 deficit the year before into a $400,000 profit." Profits have been the order of the day ever since, save for 2000, when operations had to be shut down for a massive, bullet-biting, long-delayed 22-week renovation.
Critics of the Cutts cuts lament diminishing the hall's classical profile, sometimes forgetting that Carnegie Hall's admittedly more prestigious programming is subsidized by a multi-million-dollar annual fundraising campaign.
What Roy Thomson Hall's board has done, through that $20-million renovation project in 2000, is provide Canada's largest city with a better Roy Thomson Hall than it had previously known and a venue that continues to attract the world's greatest artists.
As part of its silver anniversary celebrations, several of those artists will be returning to its stage, including New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Oct. 19), who ornamented its first vocal series in 1982 and will be appearing as part of her farewell tour, the Kirov Orchestra from St. Petersburg under Valery Gergiev (Dec. 17 and the Canadian Brass, whose annual Christmas Concert (Dec. 22) has become almost as much a Yuletide fixture as The Nutcracker.
Cutts's next project? A renovation of Massey Hall, which will cost upwards of $50 million. As he puts it, "It can't just be tarted up. You don't screw around with an icon."
He obviously feels the same way about Roy Thomson Hall.
Educational Book Sector Alarmed By Indigo Deal
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams
(October 7, 2007) Depending on whom you ask, Toronto-based Indigo Books and Music has cornered at least 65 per cent and perhaps as much as 80 per cent of the Canadian retail book market. And now, according to some industry observers, it's positioning itself to become the dominant player in supplying non-text books to school libraries in Ontario and possibly the rest of the country.
The concern among some wholesalers, distributors, independent booksellers and school librarians arises from the Sept. 19 announcement by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty promising that, if his Liberals gain a second term in Wednesday's provincial election, he will provide $80-million in new funding for books for Ontario school libraries over the next four years.
Under the scheme, Indigo is to be the sole supplier of books to school libraries. Indigo says it will provide these books “at cost” – meaning that “any books purchased [by school boards, individual school librarians and teachers] will be purchased at our cost,” an Indigo spokesperson said last week. “The intention is for us not to profit from this initiative.”
Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman strongly lobbied for the Premier's commitment, and even appeared alongside McGuinty when he made his vow at Indigo's flagship store in downtown Toronto. Reisman said she hoped other provinces would emulate the McGuinty model, and indicated she would be approaching other premiers and provincial education ministers to join the cause.
It's the Indigo connection that irks the educational book sector and has raised howls of protest in the waning days of the provincial election campaign. Eleanor LeFave, president of the Canadian Booksellers Association and the owner of Mabel's Fables, a modest-sized children's bookstore in Toronto, said last week that “it's quite fantastic that [Reisman] got more money out of the Premier.”
Anne Ledingham, national sales manager for Mississauga-based S & B Books, a wholesale supplier of books to school libraries nationwide for 28 years, calls it “a wonderful gesture.”
But they both warn the exclusivity that's been granted Indigo is according to Ledingham, “short-sighted of the Premier and ignores a regime of suppliers that's been efficiently supporting school libraries for decades.
“Any wholesaling business is going to be small margin. Our rule overall is to make 20 per cent somehow,” Ledingham says. She predicts that if the deal goes through by the turn of the decade, “there won't be a man standing in the school library market — or a woman for that matter.” Except Indigo which, for its 2006-2007 fiscal year, reported net earnings of $30-million.
Members of the CBA and education wholesalers held an emergency meeting last Friday in Toronto to discuss the issue but are waiting for the results of the election before deciding what to do. This week they'll be arranging meetings with the Premier, the education and culture ministers and the Ontario School Library Association.
“What we really don't want is one supplier to our public libraries,” said LeFave, whose own store has sold books to more than 100 school libraries in Ontario. She and Ledingham are concerned that Indigo may lack the expertise in curriculum-related book selection and sourcing, invoicing, cataloguing and processing that wholesalers and community-based booksellers have developed over decades.
S & B Books, for instance, has a supply contract with the Peel District School Board, one of Ontario's largest education jurisdictions. Indeed, S & B “estimates that 80 per cent of our educational business comes out of Ontario.” Part of that contract requires S & B to first send books bound for elementary-school libraries to Duncan Systems Specialists, an Oakville company that laminates the books' covers and affixes catalogue and loan data to them.
“It is a very strange sector, it's so alien from the retail market,” said Ledingham. “So why set up a whole new model that I don't think will work . . . to the satisfaction of schools and boards?” In fact, the CBA's LeFave and James Saunders, vice-president of Collingwood-based Saunders Book Company, a distributor to wholesalers and libraries since the late 1960s, argue McGuinty should “just give the $80-million to the librarians. They know the curriculum; they're in close touch with the teachers; they know what's missing.”
For their part, the Liberals say that the “investment [announced Sept. 19] won't preclude schools from continuing to make ongoing purchases of library books as part of their school budgets.” But Ledingham doubts this will happen: “If the government gives every school library in Ontario that money, then every principal in this province will say, ‘That's it. I don't need to spend any other money elsewhere.' ”
At this stage at least, Indigo has no plans to set up a dedicated educational division. Said Lisa Huie, the company's manager of public relations: “I don't think that's a corporate initiative we'd agree to venture into . . . I don't think that's necessarily (a) our role and (b) our position.”
She added that the deal likely would be orchestrated through Indigo's corporate side, and not through the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, which Heather Reisman founded as a charity in 2004. Since 2005, the foundation has given $150,000 each to 30 high-need elementary schools across Canada for library books.
Asked how long discussions between the Premier's office and Indigo had been going on prior to the Sept. 19 announcement, Huie said: “I don't think discussions with the Premier per se date that far back.” More time was spent on Writing on the Wall, a recently released documentary on Canada's literacy “crisis” that the Love of Reading Foundation commissioned at least a year ago.
Coupland On Failure, Death, Booze – And
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter
(October 08, 2007) Meet Roger. He's 43, towing a semi-trailer of regret and self-loathing around behind him. And drunk behind the wheel, no less.
Awash in this boozy brew of despondency that has become his life are the disasters that brought him here: the fatal car accident he watched passively as a teen that made him a better person, at least for a while; the fast onset of his wife's cancer; the death of his young son, crushed by an oncoming car while on his bicycle; and finally, his drift as a nameless employee at a Staples in the crushingly bleak suburban environs of Burnaby, B.C. In his spare time, he writes a novella, Glove Pond, about a failed, drunken writer and his drunken wife who must also have failed at something, but no one can really remember what.
Meet Doug. His last name is Coupland. He's written more than a dozen books since his zeitgeist-defining breakout Generation X in 1991. His last book, JPod, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize last year, a literary nod to a writer always credited more with popular-culture soothsaying than writerly panache. He's a successful visual artist, filmmaker, playwright, actor, screenwriter, blogger for the New York Times and, oh yes, executive TV producer (JPod, much to his own surprise, is being made into a series).
Doug and Roger are close. Which seems improbable, if not impossible, at first (Coupland's main vice, it appears, is caffeine, without which he professes to be incapable of thought, let alone speech. "Wait until the coffee gets here," he says, eyes closed, near-whispering. "Then I'll be fine").
But Doug created Roger, you see, as the pathos-laden protagonist of his most recent novel, The Gum Thief (there's plenty of gum at the Staples checkout counter, but Roger isn't looking to steal it; that's someone else. Through his boozy haze, Roger's bucking for employee of the month).
Roger and Bethany, the 20-ish goth girl and Staples colleague Roger develops an ongoing correspondence with and her mom, Dee Dee, among others, all have their own voice in The Gum Thief, writing letters back and forth to one another about the dead ends their lives have reached. All the voices, of course, are equally Coupland's and not – everyone and no one, he says.
"You think you're one person, but you turn out to be someone else. It shifts," he says, nibbling at the King Edward Hotel on home-cut fries from which he has snipped the skins ("That's where the pesticides and herbicides reside," he says).
"Part of the fun of this book, in doing it, was experimenting with notions of writing itself," he says. "And you always kind of have to worry about that. You can get generically PoMo about it, and you don't want that. But there's a very truthful voice you get from letter-writing. Not email writing, but writing-writing. And in long-form fiction, I think you have to have that – that sense of truth."
In The Gum Thief, the truths are pretty grim. From Roger's truckload of tragedy and remorse to Bethany's death-laced youth – best friend in Grade 4 dies of cancer; both grandfathers (car crash, kidney failure); 20-year-old stepsister (spousal assault); stepbrother (hung himself); Chris and Mark, pothead friends (PCP-laced joint); music teacher (car crash); Snowbelle and Ginger (cats, natural causes); and Kurt Cobain (shotgun, self-inflicted) – Coupland offers bleak lives intertwined by tragedy set on his familiar turf: the excruciatingly generic North American everywhere of strip malls, suburbs and freeways.
In person, Coupland's mind is as prone to wandering as his career; in just over half an hour, he drifts from edible oil-product desserts ("I'm reading a book called The Twinkie Deconstructed," which he describes as a "social history" of scary ingredients like polysorbate 60 and "how they coalesce into this strangely irresistible thing") to America's Funniest Home Videos to The Simpsons Movie ("They turned a 7-Eleven into a Kwik-e-Mart in Coquitlam; they did a really great job of it") to the lesser-known attributes of canned ham products ("Nothing so closely approximates the taste of cooked human flesh as Spam, you know – salty, fatty, oily").
It seems a long departure from The Gum Thief. Or any of the dozen or so other things Coupland does for a living. But is it? In his uniquely distracted way, Coupland has always managed to render the anxieties of contemporary life at a crossroads of meaningless consumption and meaningful human exchange, of the ridiculous and sublime, and how, in their absurd pairings, they can, perhaps, co-exist.
The Gum Thief is no exception. Except for its author, maybe. "I like this book," he says. "It's something I wrote `The End' on 12 months ago. Usually, when a book finally comes out, (having to talk about it) is like being dragged back a grade in school or something.
"It's not happening this time. And I'm happy about that."
Eyes Canada As Dollar Climbs
(Oct. 8, 2007) More Canadians are likely to take holidays in Barbados this year because their dollar has been getting stronger against the United States currency.
Despite this prediction local tourism officials are not expecting an invasion.
"There is a high possibility that . . . the movement [of the Canadian dollar], if it is retained, could help us," president and chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Authority, Stuart Layne, told the DAILY NATION.
"But we are not at this stage changing our projection [on tourist arrivals]."
Before the Canadian loonie – the nickname for the dollar – started improving, the BTA had forecast a five per cent increase in arrivals from Canada this year, over last year's arrivals, which totalled 49 198.
Layne said Canadian travellers had shown a preference for the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and the strengthening of their currency might translate into more trips to those countries.
The Canadians could also target a number of countries whose currency lost strength, he noted.
Canada accounts for less than ten per cent of the tourists visiting Barbados, compared with Britain (38 per cent), the United States (24 per cent) and the Caribbean (19 per cent).
But the Canadians, once a dominant presence in local tourism, are showing improvements.
The numbers are rising and the average spending here has increased from US$147.36 in 2006 to US$178.72 this year, according to Layne.
Statistics show more Canadians going to hotels and other paid accommodation, as opposed to staying with friends and relatives, where the trend is to spend less.
The improvement in spending partly reflected what Layne called "a value change, where a higher quality product can demand higher prices" – a reference to the upgrade of several hotels and new accommodation coming on stream.
The Canadian dollar continued to press higher this week against the American dollar, after reaching parity with it last month – for the first time in 31 years.
When the Canadian dollar rises against the United States dollar, large numbers of Canadians cross the border in search of lower prices and greater selection at American stores.
Layne described the Canadian market as "price sensitive". (TY)
Plans So You Think You Can Dance Canada
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(October 09, 2007) CANNES, France – So You Think You Can Dance is coming to Canada.
CTV says it has signed a deal to make a Canuck version of the popular televised dance contest.
The network says So You Think You Can Dance Canada will follow a format similar to that of Canadian Idol.
Dancers will strut their stuff in front of a judging panel during a cross-country audition process.
They will eventually be whittled down to a group of 20 finalists.
Viewers will then decide who is voted off each week.
Details of the judging panel and audition process have yet to be announced.
The deal was completed at Mipcom, an audiovisual conference held in Cannes.
CTV says Canada joins the United States, Norway, Denmark, Greece, Turkey and Israel, which already have an original So You Think You Can Dance production.
"I have had a fabulous relationship with CTV over the years with a number of hit shows including Canadian Idol and American Idol," said music mogul Simon Fuller, who created both Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
"I am hoping that our partnership continues for many more years to come."
Teams Feast As Argos Blast Eskimos
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Sports Reporter
(October 07, 2007) Thanksgiving has a special meaning for the Argonauts – special teams, that is.
While the offence was at times as listless as most of us will be at some point this weekend after turkey dinner, the special teams played with a ravenous hunger. And what the special teams left on the plate was eagerly devoured by the defence.
The result was a 33-8 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos that all but assured the Argos of a playoff berth that wasn't a certainty when they were sporting a 2-6 record and in the throes of a five-game losing streak.
But now having won five of their last six games and three in a row, the Argos (7-7) are temporarily alone in second place in the East, two points ahead of the Montreal Alouettes (6-7), who play host to the last-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats tomorrow.
Regardless of how the Als fare against the Ticats, the Argos have an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Montrealers when the teams meet in a home-and-home series beginning Friday night at the Rogers Centre.
There was even talk in the Argo locker room of a first-place finish.
That's not out of the question by any means. The first-place Winnipeg Blue Bomber are only three points in front.
The special teams set the tone yesterday midway through the opening quarter when Dominique Dorsey made a case for a third consecutive special teams player-of-the-week award by returning a Sean Fleming punt 69 yards for a touchdown.
It was his third special teams touchdown of the year, but the first on a punt return.
The other two came on a kickoff and a missed field goal.
"It definitely was big that we scored two times on special teams in the game," said the diminutive speedster, who has been a sensation since replacing Bashir Levingston in mid-season and was also named the special teams player of the month for September.
"Wow, we were out there playing like kids in the playground; we were having so much fun. Special teams were a big part of the victory."
The Argos extended their lead to 16-1 before the half when quarterback Michael Bishop found tackle Jeff Keeping, who had lined up as a tight end – a position he played at the University of Western Ontario – with a TD pass from two yards out on third down.
But with the offence bogged down, the lead melted to 16-8 and some of the 28,354 fans undoubtedly began to get restless.
Toronto's defence made life miserable for rookie Edmonton quarterback Stefan LeFors, who was thrust into the starter's role when No.1 pivot Ricky Ray suffered a separated shoulder in Toronto's 18-11 win last week in Edmonton. LeFors was sacked four times and the Esks totalled 88 yards on offence in the first half.
The Argos weren't much better, but special teams again came to the rescue. Early in the fourth quarter, Jordan Younger blocked Fleming's punt and Byron Parker scampered 23 yards to the end zone to put the Argos ahead 23-8. Parker also had two of the Argos' three interceptions.
"Byron is a special player and I'm just proud of the way special teams have come along," said Clemons. "We were hot and cold on special teams, but we've really started to become consistent. If we're going to get to the playoffs and have any chance at winning the Grey Cup, special teams are not only going to have to be good, they're going to have to be great."
"We just try to control what we do on our side of the ball," Parker said. "We try not to worry about what the offence is doing. But we've got their back (covered). When we struggle the offence has our back."
Tony Miles, who was back in the line-up after missing four games, had the other Argo touchdown. Trevor Gaylor had Eskies' lone major score.
POINT AFTER: The Argos invited Ann Howe of Victoria Harbour, a season ticket subscriber for the past 43 years who is terminally ill with cancer, into the locker room after the game and presented her with the game ball.
Shape Up Faster: Better-Form, Better
Body Video Workout
By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
Albert Einstein once said, "Action without thought is a form of insanity; thought without action is a crime."
Although we can venture into a lot of subject matter with this quote, I find it fits perfectly when discussing exercise form.
People exercise in gyms every day but most don’t think about how to properly execute a movement in order to maximize efficiency. The average person will attempt an exercise with one goal in mind -- getting the exercise over with!
The result is sloppy form, lack of progress and possible physical injury. Most fitness blunders also stem from lack of knowledge or misinformation provided by the local gym rat who considers himself the resident guru.
The thing that bothers me most is that many people will continue to perform an exercise with horrendous form even after they’ve received the correct instruction. It’s hard to change bad habits, but if we don’t, we end up being the person who says “I’ve tried everything and I just can’t make progress. I give up.”
You don’t have to be that person.
I’m providing four exercises that I want you to master. Improving your form on these exercises can make a big difference in your physical transformation. As an added bonus each of the exercises has its own video. (Note to reader: Flash and high-speed connection required to view video.)
Along with the video I’m also providing a written description of each movement (even though it’s covered in the video).
As you watch the videos and attempt the exercises I want you to take your time and practice, practice, practice. This isn’t about a formal workout. It’s simply about creating a solid foundation. Even just the awareness of your exercise form will help you to improve.
For videos go HERE.
1. Abdominal Crunches
This is a great basic abdominal exercise but most people perform it incorrectly.
· Lie with your back on a mat or cushioned carpet
· Make sure that your lower back is relaxed against the mat during this exercise.
· Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle
· Keep both feet on the floor.
· Place both hands crossed over your chest.
· Contracting the upper abdominal area, raise your head and upper torso off the floor until your shoulders are slightly lifted.
· The goal is to tighten the upper ab region.
· Keep your eyes focused on the ceiling.
· Focus on keeping your neck relaxed because the tendency is for people to tense it during this exercise.
· Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your head touching the floor. Key Points:
· Exhale as you contract the abs.
· Inhale while returning to the starting position.
2. Chair Squats (beginner’s movement)
The squat is an excellent exercise for the legs glutes. It’s even more effective once you add weights with a barbell or dumbbells.
· Beginners can 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 hands crossed over your chest for balance.
· 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.
· Be careful that your knees do not extend past your feet. Instead sit back in the chair and stick your butt out.
· Contracting the front of the leg (quadriceps), 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 or cans in your hands.
3. Dumbbell Walking Lunges
This is one of my favourite exercises for the lower body. It’s a wonderful combination of resistance training and some aerobic work to a degree. It’s great for the legs and butt.
· Stand straight with your feet slightly spread apart.
· Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.
· With control, slowly step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor.
· The step should be long enough that your left leg is nearly straight.
· Your chest should be lifted and your front leg should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.
· Your right knee shouldn’t pass your right foot.
· Don’t let your knee touch the floor.
· Raise yourself up then push off with the left foot and take the same long step you did with the right leg.
· Avoid short steps. The step must be long to affect the leg and butt.
· Inhale while stepping forward.
· Exhale while rising up and pushing off the back foot.
· Make sure your head is up and your back is straight.
· Discontinue this exercise if you feel any discomfort in your knees.
4. Abdominal Vacuum
The Transverus Abdominis muscle is the real deal. It’s the muscle that holds your mid-section tight and flat. It’s a thin sheet of muscle running along the sides of the abs and joins connective tissue behind it and is your body’s natural corset. When you suck your stomach in, you have just used your Transversus. This is the only muscle that can help pull the stomach inward.
The exercise can be performed on all fours on the floor or while seated. I’m providing the seated version because it’s easier to do.
Starting Position and Movement:
· While seated tall at the edge of a chair exhale all the air from your lungs.
· After completely exhaling, pull the navel in towards the base of the spine, but pull in very tight.
· Breathe through your nostrils after exhaling all the air from your lungs but keep holding the contraction.
· Do not hold your breath at any time during the movement.
· Hold the contraction tight for at least 40 seconds.
· You’ll be training the stomach to pull inward and help create a flatter appearance. The beauty of this exercise is that it’s simple and you can perform it anywhere.
Please keep in mind that any type of positive physical transformation is only achieved by lowering body fat and improving strength through proper nutrition and exercise. Exercise form is critical, but you still have to provide your body with healthy foods to achieve optimal results.
Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com — Sydney Smith: Early 19th-century writer and clergyman
"Be what nature intended you for and you will succeed."