October 4, 2007
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to thank those that have impacted your life! And please remember those that may not have as much as we have in this beautiful country!
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!
And don't forget to check out Chaka Khan's latest offering - Funk This! (details below)
Chaka Khan To Release First New Studio Project In 10 Years
Source: Sony/BMG Music Canada
Celebrating over three decades of milestones, Chaka Khan will release her first new studio album in over 10 years. Khan’s music and celebrity have influenced generations of fans and contemporary recording artists setting standards across every music genre: Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Disco, Soul, Jazz, Hip Hop and even Classical. Chaka Khan is a musical Icon. FUNK THIS produced by the Grammy Award winners Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis embodies the funky soul of her musical roots with Rufus and her signature passionately-honest vocal styles that make Chaka Khan timeless. “The album may remind people of my early Rufus albums because I’m in a similar ‘soul space.’ I’ve been on a little journey in the last few years, finding Yvette again.” (Referring to her birth name) “I went through a period of being insecure. I’m walking a different path now. I’ve changed. This album is different from any other album I’ve recorded because it reflects what I’m about, who I am now. The album is called, ‘Funk This!’ because it’s funky!” The thoughtful work ranges from original copyrights, collaborations with superstar artists, to adding her signature stamp on important contemporary classics.
The collection includes fresh renditions of Prince’s “Sign ‘O’ the Times”; a duet with Michael McDonald on “You Belong To Me,” a song he co-wrote with Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies Man,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Castle Made Of Sand,” the soul classic “Foolish Fool” and Rufus medley of “Pack’d My Bags,” and “You Got The Love.” FUNK THIS original’s include “Disrespectful,” the tour-de-force duet with powerhouse Mary J. Blige, a poignant poetic ballad, “Angel,” the acoustic “One For All Time” penned by Chaka and Terry Lewis, the deeply beautiful and soulful “Will You Love Me?” and self affirming “Superlife” among others. Eight-time Grammy Award winner singer, songwriter and community advocate – Chaka Khan has been active in lending her support to the community for many years. The Chaka Khan Foundation, founded in 1999, raised over $1.4 million through its funding raising efforts last year alone. The Foundation assists women and children at risk and benefits Autism research, awareness and therapy. For more information, please go to www.chakakhanfoundation.org.
1) Back In The Day
2) Foolish Fool
3) One For All Time
5) Will You Love Me?
6) Castles Made Of Sand
7) Disrespectful (Featuring Mary J. Blige)
8) Sign ‘O’ The Times
9) Pack’d My Bags/You Got The Love (Featuring Tony Maiden)
10) Ladies Man
11) You Belong To Me (Featuring Michael McDonald)
12) Hail To The Wrong
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)
Haydain Neale Update
A Spokesperson for the family is happy to report that Haydain Neale has made some significant improvement over the past month and is showing positive signs of recovery. The family wishes to thank the nurses and doctors along with all of the hospital staff for their kindness and dedication. They also wish to thank the amazing outpouring of generous support from the music industry and fans. The emails and cards have provided tremendous strength and are being read to Haydain daily.
There have been some inaccuracies reported in the media over the past few weeks regarding Haydain’s condition and the family asks that anyone wishing to inquire or report on his status please refer to the statements released via the spokesperson for the family, Daniel Mekinda, and posted on the Jacksoul website (www.jacksoul.com).
Please continue to send words of encouragement to Haydain at email@example.com or through the mail at 17 Stephanie St., Toronto, ON, M5T 1B1.
Drabinsky Looks To Elevate Reality TV
Source: Playback Magazine - By Norma Reveler
(September 17, 2007) Theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky is aiming to add a little sophistication to reality TV. Triple Sensation, a series he's producing and appearing in, is aimed at finding Canadians who are talented in three areas: singing, dancing and acting. The host is Andrew Craig, host of CBC Radio Two's In Performance concert series.
But Triple Sensation is not "an exercise in karaoke" and won't debase contestants like other talent-finding shows do, but rather will celebrate them, says Drabinsky, in an interview with Playback. He likens it to a cross between Bravo!'s Inside the Actor's Studio and the audition scenes in the movie Billy Elliot.
"It's a gritty, honest show. We're not trying to manipulate the audience," he says, adding that he wouldn't go so far as to call it highbrow.
The first of three two-hour episodes is scheduled to air on the CBC beginning Sunday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. and continuing the following two Sundays. Although the series is only scheduled for three nights and will be positioned as a special event, Drabinsky hopes strong ratings will lead to a renewal.
In a subsequent conversation with Playback, when asked whether he was pleased with the pubcaster's promotion of his show so far, the producer paused and then said, "[Promotion] is always a challenge for the CBC," but then added he was optimistic about his show's chances.
Of course, some critics believe that our national broadcaster shouldn't even go near reality shows. Triple Sensation is only the latest in a series from the Ceeb that also includes the successful Dragon's Den, the forthcoming No Opportunity Wasted and The Second City's Next Comedy Legend.
CBC spokesperson Jeff Keay notes doing reality TV is not new for the network. "CBC has always been involved in producing reality TV. Back in the 1950s, it was Front Page Challenge. What Triple Sensation is trying to do is consistent with our mandate, and relevant to Canadians," he says.
Arthur Lewis, executive director of interest group Our Public Airwaves, doesn't disagree, noting that in its concept and approach, Triple Sensation seems appropriate.
"The BBC has been doing reality TV successfully for years. Why not the CBC?" he says.
Triple Sensation is directed by CBC veteran Shelagh O'Brien (Stars on Ice, the Just for Laughs galas), coproduced by Sari Friedland (Slings & Arrows), coproduced and written by Alex Ganetakos (Made in Canada) and co-executive produced by Sandy Pearl with creator Drabinsky. Drabinsky wants the show to be a wake-up call for government.
"From this show, I hope politicians will have a better reason to speak to arts funders. It's important for the cultural health of the country. Performing arts receive the least amount of tax incentives when compared to television and film, which receive huge provincial and federal support," he says.
Auditions, open to 16-26-year-olds, were held across Canada, with 12 performers being chosen to attend master classes run by the best in the business, including Broadway stars Chita Rivera and Joel Grey. Actress Diane D'Aquila oversees the master class instructors.
There will be no public voting. The top candidates, chosen from those that attend the master classes, will perform before a panel. Actress Cynthia Dale, choreographer Sergio Trujillo, composer Marvin Hamlisch, director Adrian Noble and Drabinsky, in the producer role, will decide the winner.
Drabinsky explains that, as in most theatrical auditions, the panel members will not trade thoughts on the performances in front of the contestants, but will adjudicate behind closed doors. The top performer will earn a $150,000 scholarship to attend a top-notch theatrical training institution of their choice, such as The Julliard School or the National Theatre School of Canada.
Drabinsky sees the prize fitting in with the premise of the show - that making it in theatre is not about immediate stardom, but the start of a long road to excellence.
His work on Triple Sensation comes as he awaits trial next May, accused, along with four other executives, of defrauding $500 million from his defunct theatre company Livent. He has continued to work since his legal trouble began in 1999. He is best known in film and TV circles for launching Cineplex theatres in 1979. His credits as a producer include the award-winning features The Silent Partner (1978) and The Changeling (1980) and, more recently, The Gospel of John (2003).
Russell Peters Scores Script Deal With FOX
Source: Sadharana Communications
(September 29, 2007) Toronto - Comedian Russell Peters is back in development at FOX with a new deal to develop a sitcom based on his family and where his life was or would be, had he not made it as one of the world ' s biggest comedians.
"It ' s really a snapshot of where my family maybe was ten years ago. I ' m still living at home, my dad is retired, mom is working part-time and my brother is living at home too," mentions Peters.
"We ' re in the middle of meeting with writers right now," adds Peters. "We need to find the right partners to really make this the best possible project that it can be".
After seeing his two sold-out shows at Just For Laughs in Montreal , Fox execs Bob Huber and co, including new prexy, Kevin Reilly met with Peters upon returning to LA for a general meeting which turned into a pitch meeting.
Peters and his Manager brother, Clayton Peters, pitched Fox about their sitcom idea that they've had for a while. "Basically this is the most honest type of project that we could hope for Russell," Clayton says, "it ' s a project based on growing up with our own family, which was a working-class South Asian household". The project is said to reflect the very multi-cultural environment that the Peters boys grew up in.
Russell recently became the first comic to sell-out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto , performing for over 30,000 people over two nights. Peters is also set to join the handful of comedians who have performed at Madison Square Garden , where he is scheduled to perform his new two-hour set on February 2nd, 2008. He'll also be appearing at the new Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on February 16th, 2008.
Peters is currently on tour performing in England on October 5th and 6th with two sold out shows at London ' s Apollo Theatre, continuing on to South Africa with scheduled shows in Cape Town , Johannesburg and Durban . For more information on show locations and dates, visit www.russellpeters.com.
Of 'Homophobic' Artists Cancelled
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Staff Reporter
(September 29, 2007) Kool Haus has pulled the plug last minute on the concerts of two controversial reggae and dancehall artists.
Entertainers Elephant Man and Sizzla were scheduled to perform Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 respectively, but both men have been under fire from human rights organizations who say their lyrics are homophobic.
Akim Larcher, founder of Stop Murder Music Canada - a coalition made up of 20 organizations that promote human rights - says that the federal government has remained silent.
“They shouldn’t have been allowed to get visas to perform in the country," says Larcher. “It’s not about censorship or artistic freedom. That stops when hate propaganda is involved... No one should have that platform to speak.”
The Toronto Star also reported on Wednesday that police would be monitoring the concerts if both artists would perform hate speech. Stop Murder Music has also called in the CRTC - an organization that regulates and polices radio and television airwaves - to ban these tracks.
“The record companies have supported these artists and they have a responsibility not to release those tracks anymore and to remove their CDs from shelves. They need to be aware to make sufficient steps that their songs does cause harm in society,” he says. “We’re calling for a Canada-wide boycott of those artists to take the necessary steps to renounce violence against gays and lesbians.”
But activist and author Orville Lloyd Douglas says a lot of these organizations are targeting Black entertainers. “There are a lot of double standards here. They don’t go after Eminem or Marilyn Manson.”
Larcher says the focus of his organization is to bring awareness and support against homophobia in Jamaica. According to Amnesty International, attacks and threats on gays and lesbians in Jamaica are on the rise. In 2004, gay activist Brian Williamson, who founded J-Flag, was brutally stabbed and murdered in Kingston, Jamaica. It is illegal for males to be gay in the country.
“There are artists who are profiteering the songs about death and violence against gays and lesbians,” says Larcher. “It isn’t a black and white issue. It’s a human rights issue.”
Ticket sales were poor for Elephant Man’s performance with only one-third of the seats sold. Kool Haus could not be reached for comments.
-With files from Nicholas Keung
Get Ready For: Christina K.
Source: www.Clutchmag.com - By Summer Hamilton-Smith
(Monday Oct 1, 2007) With her current self-produced single, “I Got a Boyfriend” gaining rotation on Top 40 radio stations throughout the country, Christina K is bringing fun back into Hip Hop, along with an equally charming sense of style. This beauty not only has skills behind the mike, she also works her magic producing catchy beats. Likened to a female Kanye West, by her artistic and production abilities, Christina K.’s unique sound is both reminiscent and a breath of fresh air in today’s rap game.
Clutch: Christina, your sound is so unique. How would you describe your music?
The funny thing is that, I never knew I was so unique until everyone told me. It comes effortlessly. My music is both pop and hip-hop at the same time. I don’t try to create a “type” of song; I speak from my heart and am in the moment whenever I write. There is even a message in “I Got a Boyfriend” most people take it as a whimsical song, but in our culture where so many young people are promiscuous without a second thought. I remember when we used to be excited to have a boyfriend, or someone who cared about us . . . as opposed to just no strings attached sex.
Clutch: Who are some of your musical influences?
Salt and Peppa was my original influence when I was a child. When I first heard “Salt with a Deadly Peppa” I played it over and over again, until I fell asleep. Timbaland inspired me as a producer, when I heard his production I was so intrigued by the sounds that he used that I had to learn how he did it. Lastly, Kanye West, his personality, and honest sound with his music have always reminded me of myself. After working with G.O.O.D. Music and helping plan some of his birthday, VMA, and GRAMMY events . . . I knew that my dreams were possible.
Clutch: Life is a constant inspiration to artists: love, birth, loss, heartbreak. How has your life inspired your music?
I have been writing songs since I was five years old. Music has always been a way for me to express myself and deal with my various experiences. In the beginning, the music that I made was filled with lots of pain, because I had a lot inside that I needed to let out. More recently I have been having lots of fun in my life and it is reflected in my music. I’m all about balance, when I do speak about my past or less than perfect things, I do it to inspire and let listeners know that I come from “the hood” and have been through struggle, but by staying positive and determined, I was able to change my life.
Clutch: You’re not only an artist a songwriter, but you also work behind the scenes producing. There are few female producers that I know of, Missy Elliot being one. How difficult is it being a female in such a male dominated industry?
When I sold my first track to a signed artist at a major label, my then manager and I tried to pretend that I was the producer’s assistant and not the actual producer. I was trying to hide my excitement, tracking the beat with the engineers in the studio. When the artist came in, he saw me supposedly filling in for the “real” producer. As the artist was writing, he was like “ I know you produced the track, but it’s hot and you’re hot.” My manager didn’t want to scare the artist or have him feel that the track was “soft” since a female made it. I was relieved to know that music speaks louder than gender. I never tried to sell the fact that I was a female producer; I let the music speak for itself. Being a female producer can be cute for marketing, but I know that I make good music, and I want to be respected for that. I actually put my hands on the MPC, and hit the pads; I’m not just a producer in theory.
Clutch: If you had the opportunity to work with any musical artist, who would it be?
Kanye or Alicia, that’s tough.
Clutch: Your single, “I Got a Boyfriend” is increasingly getting airplay. When can we expect your debut album?
Lookout for my debut album to be released in 2nd or 3rd Quarter of 08, we are currently negotiating my label home.
Clutch: From a female perspective, where do you hope to see the future of Hip Hop in the next 5-10 years?
I hope to see a balance in hip-hop. I’d like to see more artists that are really themselves, and touch on a variety of topics. I’d like to see artists continuing to give back, and inspiring the youth. Hopefully artists can find ways to express all aspects of themselves with necessarily encouraging or promoting things that they wouldn’t want their children doing. I’d like to see hip-hop fun again.
Clutch: Describe your fashion style?
I describe my fashion style as “Punk B-girl Chic.” I wear Chucks a lot, Members Only jackets, with skinny jeans . . . even when I dress sexy, it always has an edgy feel to it. Sometimes I make shirts, and add patches or words to them. I have my own unique style, and I consider myself sort of a trendsetter.
Clutch: Who are some of your favourite designers?
The key to true style is knowing how to hook up a mix of things, it’s so much more than a label. I wear Luxurie, T-Bags of Los Angeles, new T-Shirt lines like Jim Jim, and Old Baby Doll . . . I also support original handmade designers like Aja Imani, and Digital. My favourite Jewellery designer is Corrupt Design. When I was into labels I was heavy into D&G, now I like to mix together all sorts of things.
Clutch: You’re currently living in New York . . . what are some of your favourite boutiques and stores that you frequent? And what item did you last splurge on?
When I do get a chance to shop, I’m all over the place, I like Pieces in Harlem, Montgomery in Harlem, they have the cutest dresses there, the D&G store in Soho, and Scoop NYC. I also support the street vendors in Soho and Harlem. The last item that I splurged on was my RSW watch.
Clutch: What beauty product can’t you do without?
I can’t do without shea butter, preferably from 125th street . . . Keeps me soft and glowing. Secondly, would be my Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.
Clutch: Your hair is so beautiful! What products do you use to keep it looking healthy?
On what day? lol . . . I use Aveda Be Curly, Carol’s Daughter Hair Mayonnaise, and Paul Mitchell Pomade. Sometimes I have to break out the Just For Me detangler . . . lol The list goes on and on.
Clutch: For young women aspiring to be in the rap game, what advice can you give them?
For young women who want to be in the rap game, I would advise that you are 100% sure that this is want you want to do with your life. Being a musician isn’t always glamorous, and it takes a lot of hard work. I would urge you to be yourself, and not try to replicate anyone else. Honesty and integrity in the music are important, especially for a female in these times. Get a good team behind you, and don’t fall for everything that some of the “industry guys” will promise you. Lastly, really hone your craft until you are confident, and have quality music before releasing it, because the haters will be lined up and ready.
To learn more about Christina K. please log-on to www.myspace.com/christinakmusic or www.myspace.com/ckoutlaw
Nelly Needs An All-Girl Drum Line
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(September 27, 2007) *Nelly is holding a nationwide casting call in search of an all-girl drum line that will perform alongside the rapper on his hit single, "Grillz," a track from his last album, "Sweatsuit."
According to his label Universal Motown, "Nelly is looking for girls that can play marching band snare drum, tri toms, bass drum, tuba and trumpet."
Auditions will begin nationwide on Sept. 30, starting at 11 a.m. in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis and New Orleans.
"Ladies need to know how to march and move very well to the beat while playing their instrument," the label states. "The final auditions will be held in Atlanta on Oct. 8, and the girls that make the final cut will be given the opportunity to perform with Nelly on the BET Hip Hop Awards to be held in Atlanta on Oct. 13.
Can't make the auditions in person? Just post a one minute video to Nelly's official drum line audition site: www.myspace.com/nellysdrumlineauditions. Look for Nelly's upcoming release "Brass Knuckles" to be in stores later this fall.
Keyshia Cole: R&B Songstress/Writer
Top's Music Charts And Setting Records Along The Way
Source: Roni Moore, ThinkTank Marketing
(October 2, 2007) "Let It Go," featuring Missy Elliot and Lil' Kim, the first single from Just Like You, has seen a huge amount of success at radio seeing more than 100 million in audience and is currently top 10, #7, on Billboard's "Hot 100" chart and has ranked #1 on the "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay" chart.
The video for her 2nd single, "Shoulda Let You Go," featuring Amina, Keyshia Cole's new artist on Imani Entertainment, the label she co-owns with her manager Manny Halley through Geffen, was recently shot in Miami.
In addition the #1 success of "Let It Go" gives Keyshia the distinction of being the first female on Nielson BDS-based urban chart to have 3 consecutive #1 records in the history of the 14-year old chart.
Just Like You was written entirely by Keyshia Cole and includes production by Geffen Chairman, Ron Fair, Rodney Jerkins, Bryan-Micheal Cox, Gregory Curtis (who also produced the beautiful single "Love" from her 1st album), Scott Storch, and The Runners. The disc features guest performances by those mentioned above along with Anthony Hamilton, T.I., Diddy, Young Dro, and Oakland homeboy Too Short.
Since her last album release Keyshia Cole has been busy diversifying her career. She has a starring role in the upcoming MTV film "How She Moves," is set to debut season two of her BET reality show called "The Way It Is 2" which is Executive Produced by Keyshia and Manny Halley, and she recently headlined a multi-city House of Blues tour across the country.
Be sure to check out Keyshia's cover stories in Essence and Sister to Sister magazines.
OFFICIAL "JUST LIKE YOU" TRACK LISTING
01. Let It Go (feat. Missy Elliott & Lil' Kim)
02. Didn't I Tell You (feat. Too $hort)
03. Fallin' Out
04. Give Me More
05. I Remember
06. Shoulda Let You Go (Introducing Amina)
07. Heaven Sent
08. Same Thing (Interlude)
09. Got To Get My Heart Back 10. Was It Worth It?
11. Just Like You
12. Losing You (feat. Anthony Hamilton)
13. Last Night (feat. Diddy)
14. Work It Out
15. Let It Go (Remix) (feat. Missy Elliott, Young Dro, & T.I.)
16. Trust (Bonus Track) (iTunes Pre-Order Only)
Architecture Of Emotion
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Classical Music Critic
(October 02, 2007) Glenn Gould's legacy continues to provoke in the context of CBC Radio Two producer Neil Crory's ongoing live-to-air concerts commemorating the 75th anniversary of the birth and 25th anniversary of the death of Glenn Gould.
Last night's program had pianist André Laplante and guests marking the 50th anniversary of Gould's visit to the Soviet Union in 1957– the first by a Canadian artist.
It was a visit that had started quietly, with a half-empty concert hall at the Moscow Conservatory.
But, as Gould's manager Walter Homburger recalled in a recent conversation, the audience was so moved by his performance that, at the break, people ran to telephones to call their friends and relatives. By the time the long intermission was over, the hall had filled to capacity.
That energy from 50 years ago was palpable at the Glenn Gould Studio last night, and it reached a peak when Laplante was joined onstage by violinists Erika Raum, Aisslinn Nosky, violist Steven Dann and cellist David Hetherington in a memorable rendition of Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Quintet.
This intense, five-movement piece dates from 1940. It contains all we need to know about why Shostakovich deserves recognition as a 20th-century composer who remains more relevant than ever in the 21st century. The five players breathed a particular intensity into the composer's shifting moods and shaped the elaborate second-movement fugue into a sensual sculpture of sound and colour.
Gould loved architecture, not emotion. Listen to the late Canadian pianist play, and you can almost hear him dissecting, analyzing, picking apart and putting back together. You rarely hear him emote.
Yet what gives Shostakovich's music so much power today is how it manages to convey emotional states in novel ways – something Gould didn't want to appreciate.
Glenn Gould may have shared his birthday, Sept. 25, with Shostakovich, but he never pretended to share the same musical sensibilities. Instead, Gould preferred Sergei Prokofiev.
From that composer, we heard Laplante's masterful rendition of six of the 20 short Visions Fugitives, which straddle Impressionism and Modernism. We also witnessed a thrilling rendition of the piano Sonata No. 7 from 1942.
Laplante balanced the seemingly impossible tasks of negotiating Prokofiev's technical hurdles while never letting the hard-edged, mechanistic side of the music ruin the piece's changing tonal colours.
The program also included an early Mozart Piano Sonata. Mozart also wasn't one of Gould's favourite composers, but this was one piece he had recorded.
Laplante's velvety touch was unlike Gould's as he proved that reason and emotion can happily coexist on one keyboard, on the same stage, on one evening.
The Gould recitals end on Thursday with Marc-André Hamelin.
Bet J To Air World Premiere Of
"911" Music Video
Label Contact: Craig Bowers / firstname.lastname@example.org
(September 28, 2007) LOS ANGELES, CA - On Monday, October 1st, BET J's Soul Sessions will host the world premiere the new music video "911" taken from R&B singer/songwriter Donnie's sophomore album The Daily News, in stores now on SoulThought Entertainment.
The music video will premiere at 4 p.m. EST (with subsequent showings at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Monday, October 1st, 6 a.m. on Saturday, October 6th and 7 a.m. on Sunday, October 7th).
Soul Sessions world premiere will also feature behind-the-scenes footage from the video shoot as well as an interview with Donnie about the song's content and the making of the video.
"I wrote '911' because America is in a state of emergency," Donnie explains. "Just look at what's happening in Jena, Louisiana, West Virginia, and in New Jersey. If these incidents are not a wake-up call, then I don't know what it is? And it's not just the racism and sexism. America's homophobia is the reason why 29-year-old Michael Sandy is dead today and his killer's are on trial in New York. We have got to wake up and change our ways."
"911" is an innovate music video that visually chronicles the struggle for change throughout the twentieth century and continues today. Directed by Joe Robert Cole, winner of the screenwriting competition at the 2006 Vibe/Urbanworld Film Festival for "The Man Who's Never Been Kissed." Mr. Cole was also a co-writer of the recently released movie "ATL" starring T.I. and directed by Chris Robinson.
Singer/Songwriter Donnie introduced himself to the world with his critically acclaimed debut album, The Colored Section released on Motown/Giant Step in 2002. "911" is the second single from his June 19th sophomore album release, The Daily News which debuted at #33 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #29 on Billboard Heatseeker Chart.
The Daily News is the culmination of a thoroughly reappraised Donnie. Donnie's "ripped from the headlines" approach to songwriting on The Daily News sees him using poignant lyrics to tackle a diverse range of society's woes - unemployment, racism, sexism, homophobia, suicide and child molestation - being just a few of the subjects. In less capable hands these topics could become overly dark and brooding, but on The Daily News Donnie finds himself at his funkiest. Full of righteous indignation without being preachy, he brings us with him, all the while allowing his truth to shine through.
"If I were You" and "911", the first two singles released from The Daily News, have enjoyed strong support on Urban AC Radio, VH1-Soul, BET J, Music Choice & LOGO. The videos can also be found online, Monday October 1st, at YouTube.com and Myspace Videos.
Donnie is currently out on tour with upcoming shows in:
Washington DC - Friday October 5th - Black Cat Theatre
New York City - Sunday October 7th - Highline Ballroom
Philadelphia - Monday October 8th - North By Northwest
Up-to-the-minute tour information on Donnie can be found at his website, http://www.donniemusic.com
ABOUT BET J
BET J, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is a sophisticated digital network infused with innovative and original programming featuring a unique mix of music, culture and style embracing the Black experience. It is the premier destination for a multicultural audience delivering music from all genres along with movies, riveting talk, concerts and in-depth interview shows. BET J keeps viewers talking with exciting original programs such as: MY TWO CENTS, REAL LIFE DIVAS, THE BEST SHORTS and SOUL SESSIONS, and is currently viewed in over 26 million households and growing.
ABOUT SOULTHOUGHT ENTERTAINMENT
With self expression as a brand tenet, SoulThought's motto is, "Music that Matters". Soulthought strives to create a more meaningful and emotional connection between the fans of soul music and the musicians that create it. With its multiple divisions (Internet portal, artist management, record label, marketing & promotions, radio programming), SoulThought is uniquely positioned to provide soul musicians with a full compliment of services and multiple distribution avenues their careers require. http://www.soulthought.com
Bono Receives Humanitarian Medal
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(September 28, 2007) PHILADELPHIA — Accepting the Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work in Africa, Bono exhorted Americans to keep working to solve the world's problems and spoke of those who are without freedom.
“When you are trapped by poverty, you are not free. When trade laws prevent you from selling the food you grew, you are not free,” the Irish rocker and activist said Thursday night as he stood steps away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
“When you are a monk in Burma this very week, barred from entering a temple because of your gospel of peace ... well, then none of us are truly free,” he said.
Bono and the organization he co-founded, Debt AIDS Trade Africa, received the award from former Liberty Medal recipient President George H.W. Bush at the National Constitution Center.
The award comes with a US$100,000 prize, which Bono said will be donated to the organization. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria who sits on the group's policy advisory board, accepted the award for the Washington-based group.
Bono, front man for the band U2, co-founded DATA in 2002 to work with religious groups on global disease and hunger issues.
In 2005, U2 was a headliner for the Live 8 concerts held to raise awareness about African poverty and pressure world leaders to cancel debt for the poorest African nations.
Calling America “my country,” Bono said he's a fan of the United States despite its problems because of its contributions to the world.
“Your America is where Neil Armstrong takes a walk on the moon,” Bono said. “Your America gave Europe the Marshall Plan. Your America gave the world the Peace Corps.
“America is not just a country, it's an idea, isn't it? It's a great and powerful idea. The idea that all men are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Bono exhorted Americans to pledge to continue to help the world.
“America has so many great answers to offer,” he said. “We can't fix all the world's problems, but the ones we can we must.”
The Liberty Medal was established in 1988 to honour individuals or organizations whose actions represent the founding principles of the United States.
Last year, former presidents Bush and Bill Clinton won the medal for putting politics aside to help raise more than $1-billion (U.S.) for disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia. Previous winners have included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
The medal was first awarded in 1989, and six recipients have subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sweaty And Full Of Rage, The Boss Comes
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Simon Houpt
(September 27, 2007) ASBURY PARK, N.J. — 'Good evening, guinea pigs!" Bruce Springsteen shouted on Tuesday night, and he sounded as if he meant it. The Boss and his E-Street Band had come back to their spiritual home of Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore to shake off the rust of five years spent apart, with a pair of semi-public rehearsals before heading out on the road. And they came in humble.
But for the 3,000 faithful, family members and celebrity friends who flocked to each show from as far away as Japan, Switzerland and England, the two-hour run-through was an honour rather than a trial. And it offered a rare chance to see an unvarnished version of a performer known for his perfectionism.
"Is anyone alive out there tonight?" Springsteen shouted off the top, to thunderous applause, before smashing into Radio Nowhere, one of eight songs the band played from the new disc, Magic, which drops next Tuesday. They followed with 20 more tunes, from Prove It All Night to the finale of American Land, his Pete Seager-influenced Irish jig.
There are still some kinks to work out for the band, which stops in Ottawa on Oct. 14 and Toronto on Oct. 15. At the rollicking conclusion to She's the One, Springsteen yanked the harmonica from his mouth and threw up his hands in triumph before realizing the band still had another eight bars to go. After the opening four songs, the stage fell into near darkness as the Boss approached some of his band mates, one at a time, to give performance notes.
They may have been thrown off by the fact that the derelict convention hall's air conditioning was on the fritz. Springsteen was drenched less than four songs in, his shirt soaked through as if he had been baptized. Sweat poured off his guitar. To cool things off, organizers wedged open an arena door leading out to the beach.
Asbury Park looks almost entirely different than it did when Springsteen got his start playing in local clubs. Downtown streets are littered with boarded-up storefronts, liquor stores and bail-bond businesses. The restaurants on Main Street are now almost all Mexican.
Along the boardwalk, there's a small string of new arts-and-crafts businesses selling fancy glassware and Asbury Park T-shirts, leaving fortune teller Madam Marie the only original denizen left on the strip.
But even as the world around it has changed, the nine-member band has stayed essentially the same. Springsteen surrounds himself with people he has been playing with for more than 20 years. Guitarist Nils Lofgren still sports laughably out-of-style mutton chops, Steve Van Zandt still takes the stage with his head in a bandana, and the Boss hasn't much changed his show uniform of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt open to the chest.
The years have slowed them all. Clarence Clemons looks ready for hip-replacement operation, and Springsteen now struts slowly along the lip of the stage. The firebrand preacher is gone.
If you were to drop a Martian into a Springsteen concert - at least, a Martian with a sense of the waves of popular music over the past few decades - he would be hard-pressed to identify which songs are new and which are 30 years old. Certainly, the new Livin' in the Future, with its swooping, carnivalesque organ, fits right in with Springsteen's mid-seventies material.
But then, the fans still reserve the loudest cheers for the oldies, which on Tuesday night included a powerhouse Badlands, The Promised Land, Night and Born to Run.
Underneath the anthemic power is an iridescent rage. While Born in the U.S.A. has been growing darker in concert over the years, you can now barely make out the words that Springsteen spits out in a clenched-jaw, rumbling growl. His dissatisfaction with the state of his homeland is now bone-deep, and bone-weary.
The new album, Magic, is infused with that disappointment. Political but not partisan, Springsteen took the unusual step in the last U.S. presidential election to endorse a candidate, only to see his hopes dashed. He is still bitter. "We live in pretty Orwellian times," he said on Tuesday, by way of introducing the album's title cut. "These are times when you can make something that's a lie seem true, and something that's true seem like a lie. Ask John Kerry. So watch out for that magic."
Leading into the new song Livin' in the Future, he exalted "things that you love about America: cheeseburgers, hot rods, the Jersey Shore, V-Twin engines." Then he added a litany of new American phenomena: "rendition, illegal wiretapping, torture, voter suppression, no right to a lawyer if you're arrested. Those are things that are not just un-American, but anti-American, and they've been happening as we've been sleeping." His angry young man is now an elder statesman almost febrile with fury, and he's on a mission to spread the word.
Feist, iPod Makes It Easy As 1234
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop Music Critic
(September 28, 2007) After months of grazing the international mainstream, Canadian songbird Leslie Feist looks poised to make a major commercial breakthrough in the States and the U.K. through her recent association with an ubiquitous, tiny silver gadget.
Feist's charming "1234" – the second single from her hit album, The Reminder, and a co-write with Australian singer/songwriter Sally Seltmann (who records as New Buffalo) – has been worming its way into skulls on both sides of the Atlantic at an alarming rate since it was picked up for use in an iPod Nano commercial earlier this month.
In its second week on the American Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, "1234" has shot up to No. 28 from a No. 61 debut. Its digital sales have almost doubled, from 41,000 downloads to 73,000.
The Reminder, too, has spent the past few weeks clawing its way back into the Top 100 on the albums chart, rising to No. 36 in the most recent Billboard rankings.
It peaked at No. 16 stateside upon its release this past spring.
In Canada, "1234" has yet to register on the radio-airplay chart, but in two weeks on the digital-download chart – arguably the more accurate barometer of popular tastes, anyway – it's rocketed from No. 21 to No. 3. And it's been hovering around the No. 1 spot in iTunes Canada's hourly rankings.
Meanwhile, The Reminder, which already spent a good chunk of the summer haunting the Top 10, rose from No. 42 to No. 26 on the album chart for the week ending Sept. 27.
"The single is about to go Top 20 in the U.K. for the first time. It's had a 200 per cent (sales) increase in the United States, a 100 per cent increase here at home," enthuses Jeffrey Remedios, co-founder of Feist's Toronto label, Arts & Crafts.
"Radio has woken up to the wonderful magic of this song that we've been pushing for three months ... and finally we're seeing some pronounced upward momentum up the charts, maybe all the way to the top of the AC chart."
Feist isn't the first to benefit from exposure in one of Apple's iPod commercials. Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" was one of the first songs to attain a breakthrough, while Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc." and, more recently, the Fratellis' "Flathead" have attained a certain measure of cultural ubiquity.
Indeed, so great is the demand to know which song features in which iPod ad that Macintosh maintains an online list of the tunes it has licensed on its support page.
Geoff Mayfield, the man in charge of watching the charts for Billboard, says it has become quite common for artists to make "substantial" gains on the charts when their songs feature in the "right" (rather than "dorky") commercials.
"She's absolutely got a bit of juice from that spot. It's a really clever campaign," says Mayfield. "We've seen this pattern with previous Apple spots. They're very smart. They always choose something that isn't quite well known."
With, Mayfield adds, the notable exception of U2, who used a 2004 iPod ad to preview "Vertigo," the first single from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. The result when the CD arrived? "The biggest single SoundScan week of their career."
Feist has already lent "1234" to an eBay commercial in Australia, and her songs "Mushaboom" and "Gatekeeper" have respectively been heard in ads for Lacoste perfume and HSBC during the past couple of years.
Her "I Feel It All," also from The Reminder, was heard this month in commercials for the Bell Lightbox at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The growing impact of her iPod-related notoriety, however, is on another level altogether.
"You can trace it directly to the iPod commercial," says Remedios of Feist's burgeoning success with "1234." "Right after it aired, if you went to ... one of those sites that keeps track of what people are searching day and typed in "Nano song" or "1234 song" or something like that, all of these combinations started to spike.
"It's totally wonderful and deserved. Its just like the right song and the right product mix at the right time. We're really seeing a real sea change with the penetration of this record."
One Chance: Talented Foursome Says Usher
Instantly Loved Them
Source: Ryan J. Hobbs, Ryan@thinktankmktg.com, www.thinktankmktg.com
(September 28, 2007) For Courtney, Jon, Michael and Rob, One Chance is the perfect name for a foursome that has invested their heart and soul into their musical dreams and now stands on the verge of savouring the fruits of their labour.
"This name really suits us," says Jon Gordon, 20. "One Chance means we only have one life and this is our one dream and you've only got once chance to do it. We feel like all we need is one chance for people to hear us and they'll love us."
Bound by their love of music and their undeniable talent, these four Chicago natives came together three years ago and overcame all the obstacles that littered their road to success. After a few detours and more than a few roadblocks, the guys found themselves face to face with the biggest R&B superstar in the world and, much to their delight, he liked what he saw. "Two years ago we got the opportunity to showcase for Usher," Jon recalls. "He could tell that we were already polished. We had been working so hard for so long and it must have shown on stage because we were chosen by Usher over several other acts who showcased for him and his staff that day."
Usher signed One Chance to his label, US Records, and began the diligent task of developing them as only Usher can do. The multi-platinum, Grammy- winning artist said he saw reflections of himself in the group.
"As an artist, I know what it takes to be successful," Usher says. "I know what
it takes to make a mark and have longevity. As a label owner, I want my artists to possess those same qualities. One Chance does. I have no doubt that these guys have what it takes to not only live up to the great R&B legends of the past, but to have the same kind of respect and longevity that many of those greats still enjoy today."
There's no question that One Chance is next in a long lineage of great R&B male groups.
"We got a mean swagger," says 21-year-old Courtney Vantrease, describing the group's uniqueness. "It's a Chicago swagger but it's real and we've got things that you will remember from previous groups, like little things you might remember from Jodeci and Boyz II Men."
Jon adds, "One thing that will set us apart from other groups is that most of them are missing something. Some of them can dance but aren't that strong vocally or maybe they can sing but they're not solid entertainers but with this group we cover the whole spectrum. We're not trying to be something we're not. We can sing. For real. Take away all the music, all the beats, you can even take away the microphones and you will hear natural voices blending in harmony."
Hearing them sing 'for real' is the treat listeners get when they lend an ear to any of the songs featured on the group's debut CD.
The lead single, "Look At Her," featuring D4L's Fabo, serves up a refreshing new style called Snap & B. "It's something new we're trying," explains Courtney. "I think we're probably the first guy group to do this. The snap movement is really strong right now so we just decided to incorporate some R&B into it. It's just all about giving people something fresh." Produced by Chocolate Star and Soundz, the song conjures up images of a club scene and a group of men eyeing a special lady who has captivated them with her sexy dance moves.
The guys covet a special lady yet again in the melodic midtempo joint "Private," featuring Akon, and extol her virtues on vocally superior "Don't Stop."
Shondrae aka Bangladesh (Ludacris, 8Ball & MJG) takes production credits on
"Emotional." Notes member Rob Brent, 19, "I think it's one of our hottest songs
and it shows the versatility of the group." Adds Jon, "The song is about a guy
whose girl is about to leave him and he doesn't know what to do so he runs
after her and becomes very emotional."
The group's music creates various nuances. The songs are alternately bright and fun and dark and pensive.
"We have some really bright voices. We have a couple of dark records but for the most part it's a young feel, youthful but not too young and not too old either. It's right down the middle."
Adds Jon's brother Michael, 22, "Some of the songs address situations that young people are going through in relationships and in life in general."
Just as their songs run the gamut of styles and emotions, the personalities of the group's members and the talent they possess covers all the bases.
"Rob is the young guy with the non-stop dancing, the popping and locking all over the stage," offers Jon. "He has the spunk and a voice that sounds like he's got auto tune on it. He's the guy that likes to riff and run you down the street."
"Jon's the spokesman of the group," says Courtney. "He's the gel that keeps
everything together. He keeps our business tight, keeps us practicing and on stage he's the improviser and the one in the group who has the most hip hop flavour."
"Courtney is the quiet, smooth entertainer," chimes in Rob. "He's young but grown and sexy too. Out of all of us he has that in-between look that can go in either direction."
"And Mike is that sexy, fly dude," notes Courtney. "Mike is the one that'll take his shirt off on stage and go wild. He's like Jekyll and Hyde."
The mutual love and respect that the members of One Chance have for each other have sustained them through some very trying times over the years, times that often found them chasing down one elusive opportunity after another. "It's been a real rough grind," recalls Courtney. "We left home, sold CDs to rent a van to go to New York and went to different record labels to perform. We all stayed in one hotel room or when we didn't have enough money we all slept in the van." Undaunted, the group packed up the Gordon brothers' not-too- dependable van and hit the road to Atlanta for Usher's showcase. "Even after going through ups and downs we took it upon ourselves to drive down to Atlanta where we slept on the floor in a cold studio, going daily without eating. It's been a struggle but we've gotta say it's been a blessing and it allows us to appreciate everything that's going to come to us even more."
Check out Usher's brand new R&B sensations, ONE CHANCE, and their new
single "My Word" (See Below)
One Chance is also available for interviews. Please feel free to contact me if you
are interested in interviewing Chicago 's own, ONE CHANCE.
One Chance - My Word AUDIO
Album in stores Winter 2008
T.I. Back In Studio, Drama CD Due In
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Hillary Crosley, N.Y.
(September 28, 2007) T.I. is three singles deep into his recent album "T.I. vs. T.I.P.," but he's already recording new material, according to Jason Geter, CEO of T.I.'s Grand Hustle label.
Geter says T.I. "would like to work with" longtime collaborator, producer DJ Toomp, this time around. Toomp produced songs on each of T.I.'s prior albums but was noticeably absent from "T.I. vs. T.I.P."
In other Grand Hustle news, DJ Drama is eyeing a December release for his long-anticipated album, "Gangsta Grillz" (Grand Hustle/Atlantic). The first single is "5000 One's," featuring T.I., Diddy, Twista, Yung Joc, Young Dro and Willie the Kid. Drama is slated to shoot the song's video in mid-October in Atlanta.
After a January 2007 racketeering arrest, the master files for "Gangsta Grillz" were seized by authorities, so Drama has spent most of this year reassembling the album. "We're really focusing on capitalizing on Drama's brand," Geter says. "He's built a solid brand with his core audience and that's who we're targeting."
Meanwhile, Grand Hustle MCs Big Kuntry and Young Dro are also looking to drop albums in spring 2008. Kuntry's first single is "That's Right" featuring T.I., and will appear on his debut album, "My Turn To Eat." Young Dro's next album will be titled "Young and the Restless," but doesn't have a first single just yet.
Introducing Tiffany Evans
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Mariel Concepcion, N.Y.
(September 5, 2007) Having lived in the Big Apple for most of her childhood, Tiffany Evans never imagined she'd catch her big break when her family moved to gambling haven Atlantic City, N.J.
"We were having a hard time -- we were homeless -- and we thought we'd go to Florida to live with my grandmother. But we didn't have enough money to make it, so we went to Atlantic City and stayed," Evans explains. "I snuck into the Tropicana and this guy handed me the mic. So I sang 'I Will Always Love You.' To see everyone enjoy my music made clear to me I wanted to sing."
Motivated by the response that day, her family started shopping around for labels and trying to get Evans singing gigs. When Columbia Records took a meeting with her, the pint-sized singer became hopeful, but nothing materialized. "I visited them but we didn't work anything out," says Evans. She was 10 at the time.
A few months later, she landed a spot at the famed television talent show "Star Search" and won five times in a row. The next day Evans received a call from none other than Columbia to cut a deal.
Things took off from there for Evans, who appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" not just once but twice. The second time Oprah invited her back after she reappeared on "Star Search" and reclaimed her winning title during the "Battle of the Champions." "She called me back to the show and was asking me about where I wanted to go in life. It was crazy for me," Evans, 15, says. "She's an awesome person."
That same year, Evans partnered with the Limited Too clothing line and released an exclusive EP through the retail outlet. She also started to land movie roles. "My first was a role on a show called 'The District.' Then I did 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman.' Tyler Perry is amazing," she says of the movie director. "He taught me a lot on how movies work and how it is to be behind the scenes."
Now, Evans is ready to introduce her first full-length self-titled album, which will be released in November. Her first single, the Ciara-assisted "Promise Ring," debuted at No. 75 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart this week.
"The album talks about love, talks about life and everything else that goes on," says Evans. "I don't want to be kiddy now, but I don't want to be too grown either. I just want to be right in the middle and be able to reach everyone."
The Billboard Q&A: David Banner
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Mariel Concepcion, N.Y.
(September 28, 2007) On Sept. 26, David Banner joined fellow MC Master P, music industry executives and scholars to discuss offensive language in hip-hop music before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Reading from a statement, the 33-year-old Mississippi rapper/producer tenaciously defended hip-hop from its detractors. "Drugs, violence and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed," testified the rapper, born Level Crump.
It wasn't the first time Banner articulated his stance on the issue. A few weeks prior to the congressional hearing, he sat in on a panel discussion hosted by hip-hop Web site allhiphop.com, on which he debated panellist Master P, once known as a gangster rapper, for denouncing the use of profane lyrics. In recent months, Banner has taken the Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey to task for their roles in the war against rap.
Through his own non-profit, Heal the Hood, Banner has been at the forefront of a number of philanthropic activities-including, in 2005, the largest urban benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims. He also recently created his own Adult Swim cartoon, "That Crook'd Sipp," and is slated to release his fourth album, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (Universal Motown/SRC Records), Nov. 20. In coming months, Banner is scheduled to work with Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and Quincy Jones, among others.
"Rap music is the voice of the underbelly of America," Banner said in the conclusion to his testimony. "How dare America not give us the opportunity to be heard." Here, he expands on his thoughts with Billboard.
In your testimony, you said, "when you fix our community, we'll fix our lyrics." What do you think society needs to do to change the situations in the communities, and in turn, how will that change the lyrics in hip-hop?
What you have to understand is our music is influenced by our environment. In Jackson, Miss., and metro areas, there's only one boys' club, no theatres, no recreational programs. But they don't want you to be gang bangers? I have friends who are college graduates that have to resort to other things 'cause it's so hard to find a job. You can imagine someone who doesn't have an education.
At the Katrina hearing one congressman asked, "Haven't we done enough for Katrina?" They live in a world we don't live in. It's hard to speak for the majority when you don't live under these same conditions. People don't want to party if they're broke. They don't want to sing happy songs if they're broke.
You said rap music kept you out of trouble growing up. Can you remember a specific instance when you turned to a rap song or lyric as opposed to turning to the streets?
I can tell you times when I was pissed off and wanted to blow up right now. I do things in the streets I can't do in business. I get frustrated 'cause there are many people in the industry that don't keep their words. So, many times I listened to Lil' Jon and got in the middle of the dance club with $200,000 worth of jewellery on. Rap music does for us the same thing gospel did for the slaves. We communicate our anger through music.
You also mentioned that growing up, some of the violence you witnessed was by kids that were sent down south from Chicago. Was that just one example of violence in your neighbourhood?
That's only one example. You can only tell one story at a time. There are hundreds and hundreds of things that add to the equation. I remember watching dance groups in Mississippi turn into gangs. For us, gangs weren't all negative. It was a way of life. That's all I grew up around. That's all I saw with my friends. Not necessarily all that came with it was negative though. But, when black men get together in a group it's always a negative thing anyway. It wasn't a negative thing when it started. When they taking recreational areas and parks away from us, and gangs is all we have, wheat else are we supposed to do?
It's no different than America. The war we're in is about money. America points the fingers at young black men when the biggest gangster is unfolded in the war. When I say, "I don't care what you think about this war, I'm going to continue," that's gangster. For the president of the United States to say, "you've got 24 hours to get out my country," that's gangster. If I come to your country and say I just discovered it though you've been here for years, that's gangster. They brought Africans to this country and done stripped them of their language, their culture. We lost our traditions 'cause they beat it out of us. That's gangster.
So basically America is pinning the blame for social ills on hip-hop and trying to sweep the bigger problems under the rug?
Of course. Why if a kid in Cambodia gets pregnant by a chihuahua it's somehow tracked back to hip-hop? They said in Congress that stuff you see is more powerful than what you hear. But they don't criticize Martin Scorcese and the governor of California, who done killed more people on screen than anybody I know. The hypocrisy amazes me.
Back in slavery I didn't see them trying to ban words. They called us n*ggers back then and we just had to take it. Now that we taking ownership of it they want to ban it. Because we've taken ownership. Same way now you can go straight from high school to the pros in tennis and golf, but you can't in football and basketball 'cause that's the black way. I've seen dog fighting all my life growing up in Mississippi, but now that Michael Vick's doing it it's a national phenomenon and now they trying to say hip-hop started it.
Recently, you've denounced Rev. Al Sharpton for his efforts to censor hip-hop music. Is your stance still the same?
All he's got to do to make me go away is stop attacking the kids. Out of all the atrocities and stuff going on in the world like the Jena 6, why is rap so important? Come on, dude -- we're making money, and it's not against the law.
Why do you think some rappers like Chamillionaire and Master P have in their own way sided with cleaning up music? And what are your thoughts now after you and Master P argued over profanity in hip-hop at the AllHipHop panel?
You can't put Chamillionaire in the same boat as Master P. He made a choice to do this on his own. I don't want to strike out at Master P. He has the right to feel how he wants about things. But, if he feels so bad about the fact that he denounced black people in his music, then he should give some of that money back to the people. If you're a true leader, you have to sacrifice. I'm sacrificing my career. This isn't helping me sell records. It's because someone has to stand up for people. There is a problem in hip-hop, but there's also a problem in America.
Do you think the attack on hip-hop is an underlying race issue overall?
I think that's a part of it, but we have to be careful of doing that because then people run and say we're pulling the race card. I pull the truth card. I pull the fact card. I try to use facts instead of using the black card. If you notice in my speech, they didn't expect me to pull all the facts that I pulled out at Congress. I researched, I went to the library, talked to lawyers, I asked questions and went and found cases. That's the problem -- we are much too emotional as black people. We must stick to the facts. We've got enough facts behind what we're saying -- we don't have to pull the race card. That's why I stop saying "black people" and now I say "poor people." We have to understand that we have to be truthful with the situations that we are in and look at it for what it is and act accordingly as grown men and women.
If a white teenager is picking up your CD because he likes your music and he likes hip-hop and is influenced by the culture, does he get a pass on the N-word? For the sake of clarity, where is the line drawn?
A white dude can't say n*gger to me. I always say, 'If you want to set me off let a white boy call me a n*gger." And the reason why is this. Can't you say stuff about your sister and your brother that can't nobody else say? You criticize America because you're American but a foreigner can't to your face because we have the choice to do what we want to do to ourselves. You can't do what I do. You can't talk to God the way Jesus can. That's not an excuse. You don't have that right. I can say what I want to about my brother, 'cause I'm one.
We gotta stop treating the American population like they're dumb idiots. So you mean to tell me that same person is gonna look at a Stephen King movie and go kill kids? That's an excuse. I hate when people do that, they being influenced by us like they're not grown. These are grown people we're talking about. If you are going to be influenced by Rap City you have that deficit in your personality in the first place. If I'm being influenced and I'm gonna go out there and do something wrong, then something's wrong with me inside.
Hip-hop is considered a reflection of what people in these communities live and see, but can the same message be delivered without saying the N-word, bitch or hoe?
Rap is an art. I can say whatever the hell I want to. And what you have to also understand is who are they to judge us and say what words we can and can't use? I use the words I use cause its graphic and it hurts, It's supposed to get people's attention. Michael Dyson that was on the panel with us yesterday [and] he said it -- he said the words we use we use to get your attention. Where we come from we speak that way.
And I said it in Congress too. You don't know the way that these cats transformed this word. Aren't there bitches out there? Don't they exist? Those types of women exist, and if they didn't it'd be different. When someone yells in a room full of women the word "dyke," my mother isn't insulted because she isn't one.
You talked about how some artists try to switch their music to be more positive and cleaner, but consumers won't buy it. Can artist like Talib Kweli and Common, who are considered conscious rappers, be compared, or is there a difference?
You can use Talib but you can't use Common because Common came through Kanye. And you can't use Kanye cause Kanye straddles the line. Talib, you wouldn't want to use him as example yet because he hasn't reached the level of success that he should. And don't think kids don't see that. That's what I hate about America, and that's one of my qualms with hip-hop. Hip-hop lies to kids. The truth is, why would you want a kid to be like Talib and not be like 50?
What we have to do is stop talking, and if you want better, music buy better music. We don't put the same type of standards on actors. We don't put that pressure that we put on Denzel [Washington] when he's acting that we put on 50 Cent as a rapper.
And, why is it that nobody reports on anything but the negative sh*t? I had the largest urban benefit concert in history. That was supposed to be on the front of Time magazine, [but] didn't nobody write about that sh*t. Y'all want us to fight against each other. There are magazines that have told me they don't want anybody on the cover unless they cause some drama. The crazy thing is they feed into it and then all the magazines spread out like they got nothing to do with it. They perpetuate this bullsh*t.
Do you think it's any different when magazines choose to put someone on their cover that's going to help them sell issues than rappers choosing to use the type of language in their music that will help them sell records?
The difference is we could do both in music -- that doesn't mean we have to put it out as singles. I did Talib and Dead Prez on my last album. Nobody bought that though. They don't even remember it. That was on the same album that "Play" was on. Michael Dyson said, "People sit around and talk sh*t and blog and sh*t, but they don't go out and buy the same records they talking about." Oprah Winfrey was at a birthday party, she had just done a story on the negativity and the bitches and ho syndrome, but she was bumping 50 Cent and dancing. If you want better music, stop complaining about it and buy it.
Why has it taken you two years to drop a follow up album?
I was tired of rap. I was tired of music. I got tired of all the fake dudes in the game. So I had to leave and get myself right again with God and get right with myself. I'm blessed to be a producer. I'm blessed to be a young, black, professional man. But, I never enjoyed my money. My little brother is a grown-ass man and the truth is I don't know him 'cause I've been running around trying to be a rapper. So, I took time to spend with my grandmother, to spend with my father before he died. I'm blessed to be an actor. That's one of the reasons I've got a better album -- cause I've got stories to tell.
You've always been socially active in your community. Is this reflected in this album at all?
It used to, but I think it doesn't anymore and it shouldn't. One of the problems we have coming from poor situations is we let our personal life bleed way too much into our business. The truth is I'm a rapper, so my duty first and foremost is to make hits and to satisfy my audience. That's my day job. The better I do that, the more I can do for my people.
This summer, you dropped off the Rock the Bells tour due to "creative differences." Can you elaborate?
Hip-hop is supposed to be about culture and where you're from. And where I'm from, my culture is 26-inch rims and strip clubs. We should just respect each other's cultures and learn from it. I think what Rock The Bells did was they put a couple of artists on their tour so they could suck in our fans and make some money. But, they really didn't want us on the tour in the first place.
What do you think should be next move as far as the debate about hip-hop lyrics goes?
What would make me happy is if people stop being hypocrites and clean up the communities. The thing is, why aren't people as quick to talk about Jena 6 or make Congress about Jena 6 or the situations in our hood or all the stuff we do talk about? We talk about police brutality. Why won't Congress talk about that instead of our music?
I'll tell you a story. I drink a little bit. But now that I'm training, I don't drink 'cause I don't have time for negativity in my body. The rest of my body is great. I'm healthy. I look in the mirror now and I love what I see. With that I say: If you change our environment, we'll be happy to talk about something else.
'Umbrella' Writer The-Dream Preps Solo
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Mariel Concepcion, N.Y.
(September 28, 2007) Atlanta-based singer/songwriter The-Dream, who penned Rihanna's chart-topper "Umbrella, will release his debut album, "Love Me All Summer, Hate Me All Winter," Dec. 11 via Island Def Jam. First single "Shawty Is a Ten" recently re-entered Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 31 and has since risen 10 spots.
The next single will be the Tricky Stewart-produced "Falsetto," a "song you play when you're making love to your girl after you're done dancing to 'Shawty Is A Ten' at the club," The-Dream tells Billboard.com. A video for "Falsetto" will be shot next month and will be followed with the release of a third single, "I Love Your Girl." Rihanna and Fabolous make the only guest appearances on the set.
For The-Dream, the realization that he could release an artist album was tied to a track he didn't even wind up releasing. "I called [IDJ exec] Karen Kwak and I told her I wanted to do this artist sh*t. I figured out what my voice needed to sound like to sell records," the 27-year-old Atlanta native says. "I sent her the record 'Bed' and she was like, 'Crazy!'"
"Bed," of course, was eventually released as the first track off newcomer J. Holiday's debut album, "Back of My Lac." "As incredible as the song is, I didn't want to be boxed in the R&B lane," says Dream.
The track, which has spent three weeks at No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, caused some controversy between Dream and Chris Brown, who told Vibe the track was originally his. "The track was considered for Chris Brown -- he thought it was his -- but it was my record and I decided to give it up to J. Holiday," explains The-Dream. "Chris said the record won't be No. 1 unless he's on it. I bet someone $500,000 that it would go to No. 1 and I collected my money just last week."
Now, the Dream says he has no plans of ever collaborating with Brown. "He said the wrong thing to me," he offers. "He has a track from me now that I was paid for already and I want to give him his money back. At the end of the day, I'm big on principle and loyalty. Put that to bed."
There are several other notable collaborations soon to be released, however. The-Dream wrote J. Holiday's second single, "Suffocate," which will be serviced to radio in the coming weeks. He has also worked with Celine Dion on the song "Skies of L.A." and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger on "Power's Out." And, though details were scant, he's also in discussions with Mary J. Blige and husband Kendu Isaacs about a potential movie.
Will Downing Against All Odds
Source: J’ai St. Laurent-Smyth, Inque Public Relations, email@example.com, www.peakrecords.com
(October 1, 2007) It takes substantial amounts of courage, inner strength, and a laser-like focus to converge and stare down unfavourable odds to emerge victorious in achieving a much cherished goal and vision.
AFTER TONIGHT, Will Downing’s latest musical opus, is clearly a victory in that in spite of being diagnosed with and managing the unique physical challenges associated with the debilitating muscle disorder known as Polymyositis, his upcoming release, AFTER TONIGHT, represents a work of startling beauty and one which is infused with Downing’s indomitable spirit of determination and a fierce faith.
The 10-track album, his first on the independent Peak Records label, a division of Concord Music Group, will be released on Tuesday, October 30th. Downing’s long-time friend and collaborator (this is their 10th project together) Rex Rideout, who has worked with Downing for nearly 15 years, serves as the album’s producer. Rideout also co-wrote six of the 10 tracks with Downing and laces the project with his adept skills on keyboards. AFTER TONIGHT was executive produced by Peak Partners Andi Howard and Mark Wexler.
AFTER TONIGHT kicks off with “Will’s Groove,” which ably showcases Downing’s rich-as-chocolate, smooth trademark baritone. The song was birthed during a telephone conversation between Downing and Rideout.
“Will and I were on the phone one evening, and he asked me if I thought I could put music to this groove he came up with, and then he proceeded to just riff for a few minutes and what evolved, organically, was ‘Will’s Groove’,” says Rideout. “I think ‘Will’s Groove’ kinda represents what Will’s fans have always loved about his particular sound in the first place. His voice clearly is his instrument.”
Each song on AFTER TONIGHT is bathed in rose-tinged glow of romance and a velvety sensuality, with Downing’s voice deftly moving between his baritone, tenor and even his falsetto ranges, clearly demonstrating Downing’s vocal versatility and his well-honed musicianship. The sultry and decidedly romantic first single, “After Tonight,” title track will be the first single shipped to radio on August 5th with the label going for adds on September 24th & 25th.
On “Lover’s Melody,” a track bathed in sensuality and soulfulness and which provides the perfect aural inspiration for a romantic evening, the gifted and iconic vibraphonist Roy Ayers, embellishes the song with his electrifying and nimble playing while Kirk Whalum lends the “voice” of his tenor sax on both “All I Need Is You,” (which also features Audrey Wheeler-Downing on background vocals along with her husband) and the little known Bill Withers’ penned “You Just Can’t Smile It Away.”
One of AFTER TONIGHT’S many standouts is “God Is So Amazing,” a simple yet profound song of praise and gratitude that Downing sings with such a pure intention and an emotional innocence, his voice dipping and weaving yet remaining smooth and focused as he sings with a heartfelt sincerity: “Imagine someone who can change everything in your life/Someone who can take all of your wrongs and make them right …”. With “God Is So Amazing,” Downing stakes his claim as a man of immense faith and fortitude.
Downing has used the challenge of his illness to create a project which is a testament to his artistry, vision, and inner resolve and because of this, AFTER TONIGHT is all the more a richer and profoundly moving listening experience.
AFTER TONIGHT is Downing’s invitation to his fans to enjoy his latest musical offering because as he says,“… the Love it took to make it is powerful and sincere.”
Downing plans to resume his concert touring as his health continues to improve some time in 2008.
AFTER TONIGHT [PKD-30221] in stores October 30th on CD.
Alison Hinds Releases Highly-Anticipated
CD November 6
Source: CaribPR Newswire, NEW YORK, NY.
(Sept. 27, 2007) Hailing from the tropical island of Barbados and crowned the undisputed "Queen of Soca" by fans worldwide, British-born singer Alison Hinds is set to introduce the rest of the world to the power and passion of the musical genre which is rapidly gaining popularity among music lovers around the globe.
Since its dominant reign at the top of charts throughout the Caribbean, to New York City's prominent HOT 97 airwaves, to the BBC Radio in England, to Canada's premier music channel Much Music, Alison Hinds' first single and video "Roll It Gal" has been gaining major global momentum. It has set the stage for the highly anticipated U.S. release on November 6, 2007of her solo debut album, aptly titled 'Soca Queen,' (1720 Entertainment/Black Coral).
SOCA QUEEN is an upbeat collection of original songs, which captures Hinds' passionate sensual vocals, infectious driving rhythms and spirited lyrics. Armed with the stronghold support of her worldwide Caribbean fan base, the superstar touch of executive producer Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse, Nas, Fugees), and fortified by highly regarded Caribbean- based producers Shelshok, Chris Allman, and Nicholas Brancker, the SOCA Queen is prepared to broaden her domain.
On releasing her first solo album, the "Queen of SOCA" proudly proclaims, "SOCA is what I'm known for, so I want the music to represent who I am. It's infectious and happy, but can still say something and touch lives."
Upon its original release throughout the Caribbean, ALISON HINDS' first single "Roll It Gal" shot to the top of the charts in Barbados, Trinidad and throughout the Caribbean almost instantly, where it has become a summer anthem. The video for "Roll It Gal" was ranked No. 1 for ten weeks on MTV's TEMPO (MTV network's channel devoted to Caribbean Music, viewed in over 20 Caribbean countries).
Currently, the "Roll It Gal" video has been added to MTV Jams, VH-1 Soul and is among the MOST VIEWED videos on MySpace.com. The smash anthem "Roll It Gal" is also available for download on iTunes! worldwide, AOL, Yahoo! and all premium online download destinations. Additionally," Roll It Gal" ringtones are available on every major wireless carrier throughout the U.S. and Canada.
ALISON HINDS is on an unstoppable roll as she continues to tantalize legions of jubilant fans with her provocative, sexy, high-energy concerts throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean, including upcoming appearances at the Carnivals in London, Brooklyn, and Miami. Recent tour highlights include: a featured guest appearance at the annual Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica's leading Reggae festival, along with LL Cool J, Shaggy, Buju Banton, and a special performance at the ICC Cricket World Cup opening and closing ceremonies, which was broadcast to an audience of over one billion worldwide.
For more information on ALISON HINDS and to hear a preview of SOCA QUEEN visit: www.myspace.com/alisonhinds.
About BLACK CORAL
BLACK CORAL is a multi-faceted entertainment company based in Barbados and operated by a veteran of the recording industry, Van Gibbs. Its focus is on artists from the region realizing their full potential in today's global marketplace. Alison Hinds is the first presentation by BLACK CORAL to the world.
About 1720 Entertainment
1720 Entertainment was established in 2004 to empower the dreams of artists who possess not only undeniable talent, but integrity and heart. The company embraces diversity, covering a broad spectrum of musical styles, and is passionately creative in the development of their artists, their music, performances and their careers.
By providing music content and utilizing every conceivable new media platform, (including the digital and mobile space), 1720 is firmly pointed toward the future dynamic evolution of the music/entertainment industry. For further information visit: www.1720entertainment.com.
Clark Sisters Reunion Tour Announced
(Oct. 1, 2007) The Clark Sisters have officially announced their nationwide concert tour, The Clark Sisters Reunion tour to kick-off on October 4 in Nashville.
In July 2006 about 10,000 fans flocked to Houston , TX for a historic concert billed “Clark Sisters: One Last Time.” They thought they would witness the final combined performance of gospel music's top selling female group of all time. Again in April 2007 Tennessee was the location for a more intimate live DVD/album recording also dubbed “On Last Time.” However, the demand for this exuberant ensemble just won’t die down with an end nowhere in sight. Sorors by birth unified by a calling from God, Twinkie, Jacky, Dorinda and Karen, are taking their intrinsic, flawless harmonization on the road in this 25-city, cross country praise and worship trek , The Clark Sisters Reunion tour . This will be the first time all four of the ladies have toured together in twenty years, as each each has pursued a successful solo recording career while they group was on a hiatus.
The tour will coincide with the October 2nd release of the Clark Sisters' CD/DVD Live--One Last Time, which will now be available in a double-disc, limited gift edition. The EMI Gospel release, the group's first in 13 years, was originally released in April and reached Number One on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart. The companion DVD of Live--One Last Time also debuted at Number One on the Billboard Christian Music Video chart. The limited edition version combines the two releases, with added bonus footage.
Further, this will not only be a chance for fans to experience the trailblazing group's transcendent vocal gifts, but also for fans to join with the Clark Sisters to raise awareness for a very special cause: the battle against HIV and AIDS.
"This is our chance to share the Gospel and touch the hearts of our many fans through our music ministry, a calling that never ends for us. We are so thankful for the opportunity to make music together again and perform."
The tour partner for the anticipated Clark Sisters' Reunion Tour will be World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization-providing assistance to children and families in nearly 100 countries. Dawn Williams, a representative of World Vision says, "This tour will be historic and life-changing, as we partner to help children and families affected by the AIDS pandemic in Africa and other third-world countries."
Another participating partner is Gospel Music Channel. Said GMC's Alvin Williams: "We are pleased and honoured to continue our relationship with the Clark Sisters from our Front Row Live TV special, "Number One DVD," and we get to be up-close-and personal with the ladies and their many fans. We love the ladies and their support of Gospel Music Channel."
"We are honoured to produce The Clark Sisters' first national tour in 20 years, says Shawn Tate, President of Tate & Associates, Inc., the promoters. "They are a quintessential Gospel vocal group whose relevance has stood the test of time. They have influenced the careers of many noted artists and are a significant factor in pioneering contemporary Gospel music."
The Clark Sisters' years of music ministry, which includes their hits "You Brought The Sunshine" and "Is My Living In Vain"--continue to influence and inspire people all over the world. Their inspiring sounds have also sparked admiration among such contemporary stars as Mariah Carey, Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Kelly Price and Faith Evans. In June, the Gospel Hall of Fame members were honoured with the President's Merit Award at the 2007 Grammy Salute to Gospel.
More information about the Clark Sister 2007 Reunion go to their website: www.theclarksisters.com. For more information on Gospel Music Channel go to www.gospelmusicchannel.com.
THE CLARK SISTERS REUNION TOUR DATES
(Cities are subject to change.)
Thursday 4-Oct Nashville , TN
Friday 5-Oct Toledo , OH
Saturday 6-Oct Milwaukee , WI
Tuesday 9-Oct Oklahoma City , OK
Thursday 11-Oct Phoenix , AZ
Friday 12-Oct Las Vegas , NV
Saturday 13-Oct Hayward , CA
Sunday 14-Oct Seattle , WA
Friday 19-Oct Memphis , TN
Saturday 20-Oct Atlanta , GA
Thursday 25-Oct Birmingham , AL
Friday 26-Oct Cincinnati , OH
Saturday 27-Oct Jackson , MS
Wednesday 31-Oct Baton Rouge, LA
Thursday 1-Nov Shreveport , LA
Friday 2-Nov Houston , TX
Saturday 3-Nov Dallas , TX
Sunday 4-Nov Austin , TX
Monday 12-Nov New York
Thursday 15-Nov Philadelphia
Friday 16-Nov Baltimore , MD
Saturday 17-Nov Greensboro , NC
Sunday 18-Nov Dayton , OH
Tri-Ni-Tee 5:7 Interview
(Oct. 1, 2007) Tri-ni-tee 5:7 is back, and as bold and beautiful as ever. The epitome of their name (based on the Holy Trinity ), they remain one in the spirit, business and their craft. Adrian Anderson, Chenelle Haynes and Angel Taylor, are the vocal triune that make up Tri-ni-tee 5:7. Arriving on the scene with a triple dose of holy glam, ear-snatching vocals and synchronized choreography the trio has literally been through the storm and rain. New Orleans natives, Chenelle and Angel and their families were relocated to Manhattan Beach, CA after Hurricane Katrina consumed their belongings. Considering this trial, they are especially thankful to be celebrating ten years in the music business with their September 18 debut release on Spirit Rising Music (Matthew Knowles' gospel label), entitled T57. Described as their very DNA, T57 represents their maturity and evolution as artists. The 3 platinum-selling sirens penned most of the songs on the project making it truly personal ( although there are other writers such as Solange Knowles).
T57 duplicates the edginess that made Trin-i-tee 5:7 the envy of mainstream girl groups when they started in the late 90s. The musical elements of R&B, soul, hip hop and gospel define twelve unforgettable tracks dealing with everyday situations. On the other hand, the artists put their own touch on the Douglas Miller classic "My Soul Is Anchored" as a reflection on their real life experience with an untamed tempest.
The release date shifted several times because they each had to complete the Matthew Knowles Boot Camp. It's an old school approach to artist development and if Mr. Knowles doesn't feel an artist is polished in all required areas, the project is shelved. With the security they feel under the leadership of a music mogul, the ladies have the utmost respect for Knowles and have met his standards.
Adrian (later joined by Chenelle) catches us up on why it’s been four years since we've heard from them and where they are in their careers today.
People loved the performance of your new song "Listen" (an upbeat New Orleans inspired song) at GMWA Nationals.
We had a great time and we got a lot of great feedback from that. "Listen" is charged.
Congratulations on your international recognition.
(Adrian speaks about being the recipients of a MAJA. MAJA is a version of the word major and is the Stellar awards equivalent in Canada).
We're branching out further---it keeps coming into fruition. . .
The global vision that we had for ourselves is the complement to the vision that Matthew had all along.
You speak as entrepreneurs frequently. Why are you so focused on the "business" of the music business?
Because ultimately you will end up with nothing if you do not. Any industry requires that you are industrious.
How does your own money -- literally investing in yourselves -- come into play when you are in between projects with a label?
There is something that all artists need to know: you have to work for your own success.
We started Trius--our own collective company-- to focus on current relevant education, digital mentorship, hands on ad studying. The key is balance when art and commerce meet. It's the same principle in The Bible. Start out on the milk then get to the meat of the Word. You have to qualify at the table of negotiation. You have to build whatever you invest in. The girls have supported me in spearheaded business endeavours.
Coming out of Hurricane Katrina, what did you take from that experience?
When you've been humbled you learn the importance of planning, who's going to be there for you in the most trying times. Chanelle just moved back home just last month. Angel's family also endured the storm. We've already survived, now we can thrive. You never know what's going to happen.
You don't have to prove anything to people and charity begins at home. We started the Angel of Hope campaign. This taught us to be prepared. . . We stayed in our wonderful FEMA trailers and served in the thrift stores. Because people need people. nothing made any sense. We are so thankful.
Why is image important in the gospel industry?
You have to be balanced in your understanding. God's artistry is beautiful. Image is important in life and there's nothing wrong with it. We are made in God's image. Your exterior can not be a mask for your interior. . . .An ugly heart makes a very ugly person. Your beauty is no excuse to mistreat people.
Health is very important. If you want to be around you have to be a part of that. . . .
Why did your release date change a few times?
We went to the Matthew Knowles Boot Camp.
What does that entail?
You can not release a project until each portion is completed. It's conditioning to get you ready for stage production, physical fitness, media and vocals to be able to focus on yourself. You are as good as your health.
Are any of you married or have children?
We're not married and don't have any children, although we would like to at some point. Make sure you get to a certain level in your career first and it makes it lot easier when you do.
And your look comes from Mrs. Knowles, who is a fashion designer right?
Mrs. Tina loves fashion. Loves enhancing a persons best features. She brings out a diverse translations of our group.
Have you ever met Beyonce or plan to work with her? We've met all the girls actually. They’re a family first. We've had dinner at their home and we have had nothing but the best time with them. Matthew is very passionate about our group being out there. He really believes in us and you feel it. Winning is the only option. ,. .
How do you feel about being referred to as "The Destiny Child of Gospel"?
What people have to know, is we know these ladies personally abut the beautiful thing is he saw a solid group and he didn’t have to much work. We're certainly open to collabo in the future.
In addition, I think personally it’s a wonderful compliment with us knowing who they are... These are girls who are humanitarians, they contribute to their home church, helping to create a haven for children with HIV. If you compare us with someone who is #1 in their game, record breaking, and involved in their community it's a huge compliment.
Is there anything you'd like to add that have not covered?
Adrian: You will never peak until you are doing what you are passionate about and that's something the girls and I are committed to. We are 3 that become one and we feel so humble all the time.
Chenelle: We've gotta be strong everytime we hit the stage; there's nothing about us that can be average; we are passionate --we are an experience. You're not going to get 3 pretty girls who can sing really nice. . .
Stay connected to T57 at www.trinitee57.com.
Experience Is James Blunt's Muse
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Pop Music Critic
(October 02, 2007) James Blunt is, in a sense, the soft-rock Nickelback.
He's massively popular: his 2005 debut, Back to Bedlam, has sold some 14 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling disc of the new millennium, yet it's also massively despised by critics and some laypersons who'd sooner puncture their eardrums with ice picks than endure the still-ubiquitous "You're Beautiful" again.
As an unapologetic sop to the demands of the pop marketplace and an egregiously sentimental songwriter, the former British soldier has had the last laugh (and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and a few other hotties to boot, if you believe the tabloids) and sufficient success that he now commands the mansion on the island of Ibiza where his sophomore record, All the Lost Souls, was written.
But there's more than a hint of petulance at his perceived lack of credibility and life in the scornful public eye to be found in the lyric sheet to the disc. Blunt's insistence on playing up the "personal" and "human" qualities of the new songs (occasionally written in tandem with hired hitmakers like Max Martin and Jimmy Hogarth) in conversation also implies some insecurity with his situation.
He's a pleasant enough fellow, just business-minded enough that he rarely strays from a standard script about the "roller-coaster ride" of the past three years and how he wanted to channel that into "an album that's better than the first, and one that you enjoy and that displays some musical growth.
"I just wrote from the heart about those things because I needed to as a form of expression and then I got in the studio with a great band, whom I've toured with for the past two years and knows exactly what I'm doing and how to express it," says Blunt, who played a small-venue show at the Phoenix last night and hits the MuchMusic studios for another live performance today.
"What I've tried to make with the second album is an album, not a collection of two or three songs that you might like, but an album in the old sense, that can be bought at any stage of your life."
Second-album jitters, he says, were not a problem, since he'd composed Back to Bedlam with no idea that the songs would ever be heard outside "the four walls in which I'd written them."
This time, he had a doting record label and a tour-hardened band with which to collaborate, while the fact that he'd "visited more places and met more people in the last 3 1/2 years than I've ever met in my entire life" provided a wealth of subject matter to process.
"I brought the band in that I've toured with and we recorded this album as a live performance. We all faced each other in one room and played this out," says Blunt.
"And the reason I wanted to do this was the songs are really personal songs and about a human perspective, and I wanted to capture a bit of human experience in the performance.
"I had lots to write about over the past three years, and it was easier because I had more confidence. I'd written songs before and I know what I'm trying to do now, so they came quite easily.... And also, since the first album, every conversation I've had, there's been a microphone or a camera in there or both (and) there's always someone who wants to know what's going on in my most private moments. All of that lends a great intensity to everything that goes on and that intensity lends great inspiration."
Music Download Trial Begins
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Joshua Freed, Associated Press
(October 2, 2007) DULUTH, Minn. — An amateur musician and 11 other jurors were seated Tuesday in the trial of Jammie Thomas, accused by the recording industry of sharing music online in violation of copyrights.
Thomas, a 30-year-old mother of two, is the first of 26,000 people sued by the industry whose case has gone to trial. An industry group and three recording companies claim she illegally offered 1,702 songs for free on a file-sharing network.
Her trial offers the first chance for both sides in the debate over online music sharing to show a jury its version of the facts. Opening statements were expected Tuesday morning.
Her lawyer says the record companies haven't even proven that Thomas, who lives near Brainerd, Minn., and works for the Department of Natural Resources of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, shared the songs.
Most of the 26,000 people the record industry group has sued have settled by paying a few thousand dollars.
“We think that speaks to the clarity of the law here,” said Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America.
But lawyers for the defendants say they've settled because trials cost tens of thousands of dollars. Thomas's lawyer, Brian Toder, said she was determined to fight. He declined to make her available for an interview.
“She came into my office and was willing to pay a retainer of pretty much what they wanted to settle for,” he said. “And if someone's willing to pay a lawyer rather than pay to make it go away, that says a lot.”
There have been no claims that either of Thomas' children — ages 11 and 13 — were involved in music sharing.
Thomas is at risk for a judgment of more than $1.2 million. The recording association is seeking damages set under federal law, of $750 to $30,000 for each alleged copyright violation.
“We repeatedly offer out-of-court settlements far less than what the law allows,” Lamy said. The lawsuits aim to “communicate that there are consequences for breaking the law and encourage fans to turn to legal online services.”
Jury selection starts Tuesday in Duluth, Minn., and opening statements are expected the same day.
The record companies claim that on Feb. 21, 2005, online investigators at SafeNet Inc., found 1,702 files shared under what they said was a Kazaa account being used by Thomas. The songs included Swedish death metal band Opeth, German industrial group VNV Nation and American rock band Chevelle.
“This individual was distributing these audio files for free over the Internet under the username ‘tereastarrKaZaA' to potentially millions of other KaZaA users,” according to court papers.
Capitol Records Inc., Warner Bros. Records Inc. and Sony BMG are among the companies suing Thomas.
In addition to filing the lawsuits, the industry group has sent 4,000 pre-lawsuit letters, Lamy said.
The recording industry persuaded a federal judge in 2001 to shut down Napster, which made copyrighted music available on its own computers. Since Napster re-opened, it has charged users for music.
The file-sharing programs that emerged to take Napster's place point users to files available on a variety of computers and servers. But their impact has been the same: Millions of songs are being downloaded for free instead of purchased legally.
So the recording industry began naming individual file-sharers users in lawsuits in September 2003. The industry association says the lawsuits have helped. But the number of households that have downloaded music with file-sharing programs has risen from 6.9 million in April 2003 to 7.8 million in March 2007, according to industry tracking.
“I think by most any metric you choose it's been a failure,” said Fred von Lohmann, the senior intellectual property attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.
He questioned whether the lawsuits are much of a deterrent because the 26,000 cases have targeted only a small percentage of music downloaders.
“The vast majority of people will never know anyone who's gotten sued for this,” he said.
Toder, Thomas's attorney, plans to start with the basics — making them prove they own the songs at all. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis threw out 784 pages of documents produced by the record companies to show they owned a sample of the songs. Toder had argued that the documents were produced seven months late.
Wyclef's 'Carnival Ii' Delayed
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(September 28, 2007) *Fans will have to wait a little longer than expected for the new Wyclef Jean album "Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant.' Columbia has pushed back the release date from Nov. 6 to Dec. 4. The set includes a who's who of superstars across multiple music genres, including Paul Simon, Norah Jones, will.i.am, Mary J. Blige, T.I. and System Of A Down's Serj Tankian. "I always write music first and then I see who will fit perfectly. I don't know who will be on it until the very end," Jean tells Billboard.com. "I've got T.I. rhyming against acoustic guitars. I have Paul Simon on a dark hip-hop beat. I have Chamillionaire against a Bollywood orchestra. I'm just influenced by different songs and beats in the world." Akon, T.I. and newcomer Niia join Clef for the first single, "Sweetest Thing." Other tracks include "Selena," a tribute to the late Mexican-American singer of the same name, on which Jean samples her hit single "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"; "Riot" featuring Tankian and reggae artist Sizzla ("This is the only record I'm straight up rhyming on," says Wyclef); and "Slow Down" featuring T.I., which may end up being the second single. "This track is about everything you see in the world now: Jena 6, Katrina, the war, the Crips, the Bloods, the Latin Kings," he says. Wyclef plans to tour behind the album in January, and is offering raffle entries with the purchase of each CD for a chance to win one of his cars – a $500,000 1932 Zebra. "I want to give back to those who helped me get rich," Jean says enthusiastically.
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Star wire services
(October 01, 2007) Madonna, disco queen Donna Summer and Canadian poet-singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen are among nine acts nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other nominees include John Mellencamp, The Dave Clark Five and The Ventures. India's official entry for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar has run into a legal tangle after the director of runner-up Dharm, Bhavna Talwar, complained in court that Eklavya: The Royal Guard, starring superstar Amitabh Bachchan, was selected because some members of the jury were known to its director and producer. Aishwarya Rai will star in a film about the Taj Mahal, India's famous marble monument to love, says Ben Kingsley, who is producing the movie.
Kelly Rowland Launches Fall Tour
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 3, 2007) *Kelly Rowland has organized a North American fall concert tour to promote her current album, "Ms. Kelly." The trek, featuring opening act Mario at select venues, kicks off Oct. 28 in Seattle and wraps with a three-night run at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas on Nov. 29. "Ms. Kelly" is the follow-up to Rowland's 2002 gold solo debut album, "Simply Deep," which has sold more than two million copies worldwide. The fall tour marks her first set of U.S. concert dates since Destiny Child's "Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It" farewell tour in 2005.
I’m Not There – Bob Dylan
Source: Piers Handling, TIFF
Bob Dylan – icon, musical genius, poet, voice of a generation – is the subject of a second major film in two years. Whereas Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home was a conventional – albeit monumental – documentary, Todd Haynes’s remarkable revisiting of Dylan’s career is a fictional re-imagining of the great troubadour’s life. This dazzling and dizzying traversal of one of the most elusive and gifted songwriters of a generation follows Dylan’s path from callow youth to superstar extraordinaire. Never comfortable playing one role in his life, Dylan assumed multiple personalities. Haynes fully understands the chameleon-like nature of his subject, and has made a lyrical, poetic, highly stylized portrait of a man determined to possess his own identity and not let anyone – media, public, industry – control that image.
The film begins with the famous motorcycle accident in 1966 and from this defining moment moves effortlessly backward and forward through the most seminal moments in Dylan’s life. The film’s great genius and its overarching conceit is having Dylan played by six different actors. As a young boy (Marcus Carl Franklin), Dylan is black, setting out under the name Woody Guthrie to meet the great folk artist as he lies sick in hospital. Already we are dealing with the conscious invention of a personality. Haynes goes on to highlight key episodes in the singer’s fabled career, and Dylan assumes many personas and names: the endlessly touring, womanizing Robbie (Heath Ledger); the folk idol Jack (Christian Bale), who reinvents himself as an evangelist; Arthur (Ben Whishaw), the youthful, defiant, chain-smoking poet; Billy (Richard Gere), the famous Western outlaw; and Jude (the astonishing Cate Blanchett), the troubled, confused and androgynous rock star.
As these various strands are woven together, the film also calls upon such stellar performers as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julianne Moore and David Cross to play wife, muse and a fellow poet respectively. I’m Not There succeeds brilliantly in portraying the kaleidoscopic complexity of this genius’s world. Its recreations of the well-documented iconic moments – concerts, press conferences – are juxtaposed with the filmmaker’s re-imagining of Dylan’s interior and exterior universe. In Haynes’s fabulous reshaping of his life, Dylan has found a fellow traveller.
Todd Haynes was born in Los Angeles and studied art and semiotics at Brown University. He began his career directing shorts, including Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud (85) and Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (87). His feature directorial debut, Poison (91), won the dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and a Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. His other films are Dottie Gets Spanked (93), Safe (95), Velvet Goldmine (98), Far from Heaven (02), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award® for best original screenplay, and I’m Not There (07).
Jamie Foxx: The Kingdom Interview With
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Kam Williams
(September 28, 2007) Born Eric Marlon Bishop on December 13, 1967, Jamie Foxx has come a long way from his humble beginnings in tiny Terrell, Texas. In the wake of delivering his career performance in Ray in 2004, he collected an Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, an NAACP Image Award and countless other accolades for that unforgettable impersonation of Ray Charles.
The versatile actor/comedian/singer/musician has since released a Grammy-nominated CD, Unpredictable, while continuing to make more movies, including Stealth, Jarhead, Miami Vice, Dreamgirls, and his latest, The Kingdom, an international potboiler about an elite team of commandos with five days to find the madman behind the terrorist bombing of a Western compound in Saudi Arabia. Here, Jamie talks about his role as FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury.
Kam Williams: Hi Jamie, tell me a little about The Kingdom.
Jamie Foxx: The way the movie opens, it gives you the history of how Saudi Arabia got into money. And once you get into money, all sorts of things happen. All sorts of compromises, all sorts of greed, and so all over the world that becomes the hotbed. Basically, we're showing this camp where people who are working for the oil companies have this sort of paradise. It's blocked off, and nobody can get in. But then there's trouble in paradise. Somebody who's hiding behind the veil of being a good Muslim is creating chaos by blowing people up. So, when my character's friend gets killed in one of these explosions, I try to not make it personal, but then I just want to personally go over and see if there's anything I can do to sort of get closure on losing my friend. And then, doing that, a beautiful thing happens. I meet another guy there who's the same as me, a Saudi police officer [Ashraf Barhom] whose hands are tied, like how some police officers' and federal agents' hands are tied when they're dealing with big things like this. So, we bond and get this friendship going, and through this friendship we both get the courage to go into that abyss of manipulation to really find out who this person is who's causing all this havoc. And that's the movie.
KW: how does Agent Fleury approach cracking the case?
JF: He has to incite the people over there who want these same things stopped in their community. And he does that by showing them that no matter who it is that when someone kills someone, no matter what you believe in, it's a terrible thing. And it goes on both sides.
KW: And so a cross-cultural trust is developed.
JF: Yeah, and I see in Ashraf's character that he really does want to do good, but he can't, because it would be going against The Establishment, in a sense, against the wishes of those who don't want this crime to be solved. Maybe there are some fear tactics in play. Whatever it is, I'm sensing that he really wants to do something good about it. I really want to do something good about it, and whatever happens to all of us, it just happens. To see it sort of evolve into this "I trust you now, and I'm really here to help you. And I see how we can make this into a positive situation." is what's golden about the film.
KW: How'd you like your playing opposite Ashraf Barhom?
JF: Ashraf is incredible. It was incredible to be able to work with him because he comes from a totally different place, and would look at us Americans like, "You Americans are very different from us. Different." Those were actual moments that were happening on the set for real. So, to see that also captured in the movie was incredible.
KW: Would you then describe this as sort of a buddy flick?
JF: Yeah, it really is. Of course, dealing with the realness of the situation that's going on in the Middle East, that's where it rests. But it's also beautiful to see how real people interact despite the extreme conditions all around them. Another thing that's beautiful is how Peter Berg shows the Saudi and Middle Eastern people enjoying their culture, their religion and praying, and just being with their family.
For full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE.
Russell Crowe Discovers Reason He Acts
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Cathryn Atkinson
(September 27, 2007) Oscar-winning movie star Russell Crowe, known as much for his hot temper as he is for acting, has some irascible ancestors in British Columbia, a British television program has revealed.
The Australian actor's great-grandfather, who immigrated to Canada in 1925, was a Kelowna, B.C., auctioneer, known for breaking plates and reciting poetry.
The similarities came to light as Mr. Crowe filmed an episode this month of Who Do You Think You Are?, a British Broadcasting Corp. family history series that investigates the genealogy of well-known people.
The 43-year-old actor has been known to throw objects and recite poems at unusual moments, too. In 2005, he hurled a mobile phone that hit a New York hotel employee; he was given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to third-degree assault.
And he was forced to apologize for roughing up a television producer in 2002, after he was cut off while reading a poem by Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh during an acceptance speech for the film A Beautiful Mind.
His great-grandparents, Frederick William and Kezia Crowe, along with most of their 15 children, emigrated in 1925 from Wrexham, Wales, near the border with England. The actor's grandfather, John, the couple's eldest child, remained behind and later emigrated to New Zealand, where Russell Crowe was born in 1964.
The Canadian branch of the Crowe family settled first in rural Alberta, where they tried to establish a ranch. After losing a son in the Second World War, Mr. Crowe's great-grandparents moved to Kelowna in their 60s and started Crowe's Auction.
Local genealogist Bob Hayes was hired by the BBC to investigate for the series. He said he has up to 40 requests a year for his services, but said this was "by far the most fun."
Retired auctioneer Bill Whitehead worked for the Crowes from the time they arrived in Kelowna in 1947 to 1954. A member of the Okanagan Historical Society for more than 50 years, Mr. Whitehead had written an article about Crowe's Auction for the society's magazine in 2001 without knowing the connection to the famous actor, whose films he has never seen.
Now 89 years old, Mr. Whitehead remembered Fred Crowe as "a typical old English gentleman," while Kezia Crowe was a hard-working woman who suffered from a rheumatism-induced limp. He said they'd turned to auctioneering as they had made a similar living before leaving Wales.
"[Mr. Crowe] wasn't the greatest auctioneer in the world; he liked to talk too much instead of sell," Mr. Whitehead recalled. "He used to tell stories about how you could pick up a heavy dinner plate and pound a nail into a wall without hurting it. He'd ask for a 10-cent bid on something and somebody would offer a nickel and he'd get mad and throw the cup on the floor."
Instead of turning off potential buyers, Mr. Whitehead said the trick got customers' attention and turned into a regular feature. He added that Fred Crowe used to frequently recite verses while selling items, a favourite being about blue willow pattern of china.
Mr. Whitehead also recalled the Crowes' 50th anniversary wedding celebration in 1952, when he met their long-missed son John, Russell Crowe's grandfather, whom they had left behind 27 years previously.
Kezia Crowe died while on a business trip to Vancouver in 1954. Her husband sold the auctioneering house soon after. Fred Crowe lived to be 91, passing away in 1973. They are buried together in Kelowna.
Russell Crowe's international breakthrough role was in 1997's L.A. Confidential. He won the Best Actor Oscar for Gladiator in 2001 and currently stars in the Western 3:10 to Yuma. As a child in Australia, he had worked as an extra while his parents were film-location caterers. Like the rest of his well-dispersed family, they led a nomadic life, not moving into a house until he was 14.
The actor's parents at one point ran an inn in Australia which had a reputation for rowdiness. It was called The Flying Jug.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Sixties Films Offer Fresh Look Back At
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman
(September 27, 2007) VANCOUVER — Some of the images Vancouverites will see of their city at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival were shot more than 40 years ago, but they have a contemporary resonance that is sure to register with audiences.
The documentary What Happened Last Summer (1967), about the hippie scene in the Kitsilano neighbourhood, and the short film Hastings Street (1962) offer a look back at Vancouver before it exploded into the City of Glass Douglas Coupland would later write about.
Filmmaker Stan Fox was working at the CBC when he shot What Happened Last Summer. The hippie movement was at its peak in Vancouver, and Fox was uncomfortable with the way the culture was being portrayed. "The reporting in the papers was so trivial, sensational and totally unbalanced," Fox said this week from his home in Victoria.
"I thought someone should take a more responsible look at what was really happening. Because it was a lot more than sandals and beads and drugs."
When it aired in 1967, the documentary offered an intimate look at Kitsilano's hippie community. Forty years later, it's a historical document of a counterculture that's been almost entirely wiped out from Kitsilano, now home to million-dollar bungalows and a thriving consumer culture. "It's the very definition of irony," Fox says.
A world away (but actually just over a bridge and a few blocks east) is Hastings, quite possibly Canada's most notorious street. And it is the central character in Hastings Street. Noted filmmaker Larry Kent was a 23-year-old theatre student at UBC when he shot the film - his first - in 1962. But it was never completed. Kent didn't record any sound, and couldn't figure out how to add dialogue later, so he abandoned the project.
Over the years, Kent tried to go back to Hastings Street and add sound, but he was stumped every time. Part of the problem was technology; the other was he didn't have a record of what the actors actually said. This time, he brought in lip readers to help determine the dialogue. Then he brought in actors to record the lines, synced with the onscreen action.
Hastings Street is the story of Charlie, on the day he gets out of prison. He returns to his haunts on Hastings, hoping to cash in some favours so he can go clean. What's most remarkable about this film is not Charlie's story - or even Larry Kent's - but what the archival footage reveals to the contemporary Vancouver viewer. Forty-five years ago, Hastings Street had its shady elements, but the film documents it as a bustling, working-class street, where you could visit the drugstore, stop in at a diner and deposit a cheque at the bank.
From his home in Montreal this week, Kent said people watching the film in Vancouver are going to be "absolutely shattered" by the lively historical vision of Hastings Street, which is today populated by the homeless, drug addicts and the mentally ill.
He expects the film to have much more of an impact in Vancouver than it did at the Toronto International Film Festival. "It got terrific audience response [at TIFF]," he said, "but I still think that the audience didn't quite get it, because [Hastings] was just a street for them." For Vancouverites, Hastings Street will offer evidence of the brutal decline of the Downtown Eastside.
Telling stories about Vancouver - to Vancouver audiences - is one of the key objectives for VIFF director Alan Franey (this is his 20th year as director). "We do definitely feel a responsibility to Canadian cinema and to regional cinema ... for our own voices to be heard and seen," Franey said.
And so there are offerings from Vancouver filmmakers, including Bruce Sweeney (American Venus), Carl Bessai (Normal) and David Paperny (Confessions of an Innocent Man). There are also documentaries focusing on stories that have had a profound impact on the area: the murder trial of Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay (Mr. Big), the Marc Emery case (The Prince of Pot: The US vs. Marc Emery) and the story of an orca trapped in Nootka Sound, who appeared desperate for human company (Saving Luna).
Vancouver has a large Asian population and a strong Asian culture - and that's reflected in the popular Dragons & Tigers program, which features films from the Asia-Pacific region. A highlight this year will be The Sun Also Rises, the beautifully shot third feature from Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen (and starring Jaycee Chan, son of Jackie).
And for the first time this year, VIFF has an environmental film program - and one of the richest prizes offered by any film festival in North America. The Climate for Change Award (sponsored by the company Kyoto Planet) will award $25,000 to one of 11 films with an environmental theme. The one Canadian entry, The Green Chain, is a feature about logging - another issue that hits close to home in Vancouver.
These two programs, along with the Vancouver-specific content, help VIFF escape, somewhat, from the shadow of its much-bigger Toronto counterpart, the Toronto International Film Festival (which ran Sept. 6-15).
Not that Franey is competing. He knows the two festivals operate on different scales, and he's comfortable with that. VIFF may not have Brad Pitt and George Clooney walking the red carpet - or big blockbuster deals going down - but it has something Toronto can't offer: Access. "Audiences [in Vancouver] have a much easier time of actually getting into the films," Franey says. "In Toronto, there's a certain pleasure in being one of the few people who got into a screening when hundreds were turned away. It's a sort of victory you can wear on your sleeve."
Franey's happy to run a film festival where people can easily get tickets for good films that reflect their world back to them from the big screen.
The Vancouver International Film Festival runs from today to Oct. 12. What Happened Last Summer and Hastings Street will be presented together (along with another short, Digital Psyche) on Sept. 29 and again on Oct. 7.
Start For Rotten Tomatoes Founder
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Special To The Star
(September 29, 2007) Moviegoers often seek out their favourite critics to figure out whether they'll go to the theatre, wait for the film on DVD or completely bypass it. All it takes, sometimes, is a thumbs-down or a single star. In some cases, it's a red vegetable – or is it a fruit?
That's where venerable movie (and video game) review site RottenTomatoes.com comes in handy as it calculates reviews from major movie critics – and some amateur ones as well – to determine whether the flick is fresh or emitting a foul odour.
The site launched in 1998 and quickly became a focal point in cyberspace. It's now owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. At one point, the Star printed RT's famed Tomatometer in its Sunday entertainment pages.
Earlier this month, Senh Duong, the founder of RT, decided to leave the site. The Star caught up with Duong through email about his time with RT and, of course, movies.
Q. Why did you decide to leave Rotten Tomatoes?
A. I did two startups in a row in the past 10 years – it takes its toll on you. I've never really taken a break. Now that the company's stable and runs pretty smoothly without me, I feel that it's time to take a long vacation. Geoffrey Pay, who worked for RT during its early and recent years, is taking over my position. I have a lot of faith in him and the current team.
Q. When you decided to start RT, what were your expectations?
A. When I first started it, it was just out of passion. I just thought it would be a useful and unbiased tool to gauge critics' reaction to films. I wasn't thinking of making money with it. On the first day it was launched, I was ecstatic with just 150 hits. Now it has two to three million hits a day.
Q. Did you ever think it would grow to become such an influential resource?
A. I wanted it to have this kind of influence, but again, I wasn't thinking about its potential until it started turning into a business. When we got some initial investment from angel investors, we started to think about traffic and making money.
Q. What's the future for movie critics since word-of-mouth can move faster from regular people over the Internet?
A. Well, the people who have access to seeing completed films earlier than anyone else are critics. So the word-of-mouth about the actual finished film starts with them, not regular people. Your average Joe will give you their two cents about a movie in development, but most of them can't offer their two cents on the actual completed film until it opens.
I may be biased here, since RT focuses on critics, but our users regard reviews from critics much, much higher than regular users.
Q. What's the one movie you enjoyed over your tenure that got panned by the critics?
A. There are several, but the most recent one that comes to mind is Wild Hogs – 15 per cent on the Tomatometer. It was light and fun, with an odd mix of stars who worked surprisingly well together.
Q. Where does you favourite movie stand on the all-time list?
A. Drunken Master 2 (a.k.a. Legend of Drunken Master) has a Tomatometer of 78 per cent. It's probably not on the all-time list, but it still has a solid Tomatometer. Being John Malkovich is one of my favourite films of all-time and it has a Tomatometer of 91 per cent, so it's probably up there on the RT all-time best-reviewed list.
Q. After your break, do you see yourself back with another dot.com or even perhaps in the movie business?
A. Probably another dot.com since that's where my experience lies. I would love to make a movie in the future, but it'll be more for fun than anything else.
Jennifer Garner: The 'Gosh' Girl Grows
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller
(September 29, 2007) 'Hey, it's that actress from Alias, she's married to Matt Damon's friend," says a pedestrian to his pal on a cliffside path overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Far below us, barefoot in a blue sundress, frolics in the sand for a photo crew from In Style magazine. I'm watching the action with Garner's mother, Pat, who looks every inch a grandma - grey-haired and plumpish with a West Virginia twang - but not apparently related to the gazelle cavorting a hundred steps below.
"Jennifer Garner," says the pal. "Married to Ben Affleck." Immediately, both guys start honking like the duck in the Afflack Insurance commercial, "A-ffleck! A-ffleck!" They wander off, still quacking.
"You know," Pat says sweetly, "that happens all the time."
Lucky for Garner, having a husband whose name recalls an annoying ad is probably the worst thing in her life right now; the rest looks pretty great. At 35, she's growing into the angles that make her face so changeable -- solemn and severe when serious, sunny and childlike when smiling. She seems happy with Affleck, whom she married in 2005. She's madly in love with their daughter, Violet, not quite 2. And her next two films showcase what she can do.
Garner can play the chick roles, because women like her. (The second of three girls in her family, she radiates a middle-sister vibe.) In the upcoming Juno, which delighted the critics and won first runner-up for the audience prize at this month's Toronto International Film Festival, she plays an adoptive mom who starts out prissy, but deepens into the emotional linchpin of the movie. "If Jennifer wasn't Jennifer, the film wouldn't work," its director, Jason Reitman, told me at TIFF.
And in The Kingdom, which opened yesterday, she exercises the machisma that wows her male fans, who dig seeing her kick ass in hot costumes (in her undercover-agent TV series Alias, and as a comic-book heroine in 2003's Daredevil, where she met Affleck, and its spinoff, 2005's Elektra). She plays an elite FBI agent whose team, including Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman, investigates a terrorist attack inside a housing compound for Western civilians in Saudi Arabia.
"What it's really about is the futility of violence and revenge," Garner says over breakfast the morning after her photo shoot. "And how there can be a cultural gap that's impossible to overcome, even though on some levels we're all the same. We want our kids to do well, we want our freedoms." She laughs. "But it's going to freak my mom out, because I say the F-word a ton. She's never heard me say it."
"Gosh" seems more Garner's speed. As a toothy, glasses-wearing teenager, she played in her public-high-school band, served coffee at her church and planned activities for the kids she babysat - the type of young woman who glides under the radar until one startling day when she wears something fitted and takes off her glasses, and the boys' knees buckle. At breakfast, she orders oatmeal - the most wholesome thing on the menu - and speaks swooningly about breast-feeding, watching her daughter's language develop and the push-pull of motherhood versus career.
"I've loved every job I've ever had. I get a lot of my identity from being a woman who gets up and goes to work," she says. "I'd always assumed work would continue to be as important to me as it had been, but I don't feel that way at all. Even coming to do this interview this morning, leaving Violet in the high chair going, 'Mama, up, up!' I had to tear myself away."
On the other hand, "I feel lucky just to get a job," she says. "Look at the big movies from last year: Were there any women in Letters from Iwo Jima? Apocalypto had one major woman's role - she spent the movie in a well. The Departed had Vera Farmiga, who made the most of [a smaller part]. In The Kingdom, I'm it. It's a rare pleasure when I get to have scenes with women."
Being the only female had its perks, though. "It was heaven, because those guys treat women so well," Garner says. "Jamie is such a gentleman, old school, his grandmother taught him. We shot in Arizona in the summer, it was 130 degrees, and he was the first one to come stand over me with an umbrella. Jason's like a brother; he needles you. [She supported him like a sister, suggesting that Reitman cast him in Juno.] And Chris is such an incredible actor, but also thoughtful and kind, quietly, subtly funny. Nothing fazed him."
She calls their director, Peter Berg, "a crazy person, very unorthodox." (His previous films include Very Bad Things and Friday Night Lights, kinetic frappés of character study and action.) "He's one of those people where you think, 'This can't be coming together, he's far too weird and spontaneous for this to be any good.' Then you see a take, and you realize that he so knew what he wanted the whole time.
"He was wild. He's changing lines, yelling them out to us, has three cameras going at once. He's dancing at the monitor listening to Christina Aguilera and it seems like he's not paying attention, but he's watching every moment. When he gives you direction, as nutty as he is, and as much as you want to say, 'Peter, you're crazy' - and you can say that to him - you appreciate it, because he's really good. His films are full of spontaneous moments. A lot of stuff that Jason and I improvised is in the movie. It's just background chatter, but it's very real that way."
By contrast, Garner characterizes herself as "a person who keeps buying datebooks because I want to be a person who's organized enough to use one." She's reading up on global warming because "it middle-of-the-night freaks me out." She's also scouring parenting books because, "I'm confused what my role is with disciplining [Violet]. She's too little, but at the same time she's starting to be smart enough to manipulate occasionally. I'm not going to just let that go. Day to day, I don't know what I'm doing. But you do get to grow up with them."
The beauty in the surf with the cameras trained on her, she insists, is also still a small-town West Virginia gal, whose engineer father would have preferred her to major in chemistry and who makes her favourite meal - roast chicken with gravy - the same way her mother did. "I'm just the lame-o who became an actor seeking the attention she didn't get as a kid," Garner says, laughing. "My mom will be the first to tell you. Just this visit, she told me, 'I feel so bad that I don't remember your learning to walk. I remember Melissa and Susannah but I don't remember you at all.' She says that about all kinds of things. I just say, 'Okay, oh well.' " And then she smiles, and finishes her cereal.
Maxwell, Canadian-Born Moneypenny, Dies At 80
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(September 30, 2007) LONDON – Actress Lois Maxwell, who starred as Miss Moneypenny in 14 James Bond movies, has died, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Sunday. She was 80.
The Canadian-born actress starred alongside Sean Connery in the first James Bond movie, Dr No, in 1962 as the secretary to M, the head of the secret service.
She died Saturday night at Fremantle Hospital near her home in Perth, Australia, the BBC cited a hospital official as saying.
Bond star Roger Moore said she had been suffering from cancer.
"It's rather a shock," Moore, who had known her since they were students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1944, told BBC radio.
"She was always fun and she was wonderful to be with," he said.
Born Lois Hooker in Ontario in 1927, she began her acting on radio before moving to Britain with the Entertainment Corps of the Canadian army at the age of 15, the BBC said.
In the late 1940s, she moved to Hollywood and won a Golden Globe for her part in Shirley Temple comedy That Hagen Girl.
After working in Italy, she returned to Britain in the mid-1950s.
In addition to her 14 appearances as Miss Moneypenny, she also acted in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and worked on TV shows including "The Saint," "The Baron, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)," and "The Persuaders!," the BBC said.
She was 58 when appeared in her final Bond film, 1985's A View To A Kill. She was replaced by 26-year-old Caroline Bliss for The Living Daylights.
Her last film was a 2001 thriller called The Fourth Angel, alongside Jeremy Irons.
Canadian Revenues To Finally Reach
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(October 2, 2007) Robert Lantos's new distribution company, Maximum Films, is on the move again, signing a three-year deal with New York-based Cinetic Films that the two firms say is groundbreaking because it guarantees U.S. independent filmmakers their fair share of box office generated by their movies in Canada.
"It really marks, for the first time, an opportunity for filmmakers in the U.S. to establish a direct relationship with Canadian distributors," says Mark Musselman, vice-president of legal and business affairs at Maximum, who negotiated the pact that will see the Toronto-based company handle Canadian distribution of motion picture titles represented by Cinetic.
Cinetic is a Manhattan-based theatrical film sales agency that has sold more than 200 independent films, including last year's two-time Oscar winner Little Miss Sunshine, Super Size Me, Napoleon Dynamite and We Own the Night.
"What we're doing for the first time is giving the filmmakers in the States, who hire Cinetic as their distributor, a chance to monetize and get an actual value for Canada, as opposed to simply being an afterthought," Musselman said.
"Cinetic is doing this deal because it believes it's in the best interests of its clients. Previously, Canada was more or less thrown in as the 51st state."
Until now, the Canadian distribution rights have customarily been included as part of an overall North American deal with little if any distinct value applied to the Canadian territory. American distributors receive revenues from the Canadian distributor, but as a result of the cross-collateralization of U.S. distribution revenues and expenses, those funds are applied against unrecouped U.S. distribution costs and unpaid U.S. distribution fees. As a result, Canadian revenues rarely find their way directly into the hands of the U.S. filmmaker.
So with The Sales Agent, for example, its Canadian distributor, Alliance Films (as a result of its output deal with Miramax), would collect revenues from Canadian theatres, apply those revenues against releasing costs, fees and any distribution advance, and pass the balance on to Miramax - which initially acquired North American distribution rights from the filmmaker. Miramax would customarily apply these Canadian revenues against outstanding amounts from the U.S. release of the film - only after that, would the filmmaker see a nickel.
"We're thrilled that we've been able to craft such an innovative deal that enables filmmakers and financiers to benefit directly from distribution in Canada," Cinetic founder John Sloss said.
Cinetic recently represented six films at the Toronto International Film Festival, including George A. Romero's horror/thriller Diary of the Dead, and the comedy Bill, which stars Jessica Alba. It also represents the upcoming Todd Haynes biopic about Bob Dylan called I'm Not There.
Lantos said, "John Sloss and his team have an incredible track record with an amazing eye for independent films that resonate with mass audiences."
Lantos recently launched Maximum Film Distribution, whose initial Canadian release slate includes Fugitive Pieces, Jelly Fish, The Magic Flute, Adoration, Before the Rains and Cold Souls. It has cut deals to distribute movies from Magnolia Pictures, IFC and Fortissimo Films.
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Bob Strauss
(October 1, 2007) LOS ANGELES — With average guy Canadians like Seth Rogen and Michael Cera conquering the Hollywood comedy scene all year, you may be wondering: What about the ladies? They can certainly be as crude and funny as our finest male geeks, can't they?
Wait no longer. This Friday, Stockholm-born, Ontario-raised Malin Akerman proves herself uproariously uninhibited in The Heartbreak Kid. For the dirty-minded remake of the 1972 sex farce, Akerman plays Lila, the dream bride of Ben Stiller's fussy Eddie. At least, she was his dream bride until he really gets to know her on their Mexican honeymoon. Everything she does, from tirelessly singing along with each song on the radio to craving particularly boisterous lovemaking, convinces her new husband that he has made a grave mistake, and he falls in love with a more conventional woman he meets at the resort.
His loss, we say.
“She's not a bad person,” the 29-year-old Akerman observes. “She's not mean. She's just a little off her rocker – and she likes to have crazy times in bed. Some guys may like that and some guys may not. Ben's character doesn't.”
Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly of There's Something About Mary fame, the remake reverses the polarities of the Neil Simon-scripted original. This time, rather than wishing he hadn't married an unattractive brunette when he meets a blond beach goddess, it's the Nordic knockout Eddie wants to ditch.
Akerman won the part over about 60 other auditioning actresses. Why? Well, beside having been Ford Supermodel of Canada at 17, Akerman also fronts a rock band called the Petalstones, which makes her character's impromptu karaoke that drives Eddie crazy much easier for audiences to take.
Perhaps most crucially, Akerman possesses a solid sense of humour that has been honed through several film ( Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, The Brothers Solomon) and TV ( Entourage, The Comeback) roles.
Looking tastefully sharp in a sparkling silver top and blue pantsuit ensemble, Akerman admits that she wasn't always so funny. “I was quite shy until I was about 17 years old,” says the actress, who grew up in Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake. “I didn't talk much, was nervous around people. I definitely got attention from boys because I was a pretty girl, but not necessarily because I had much to say.
“But through time, I realized that I had a voice and I could use it. Every once in a while I'd say something and people would laugh. That felt great, and it just kind of came naturally. That was my way of veering people's attention away from my looks, which I felt awkward about.”
Some rather spectacular variations on that are done in The Heartbreak Kid, where the sex scenes leave little to the imagination – but hopefully will have you laughing so hard you won't dwell on the nudity.
“I'm not opposed to it at all if it goes well with the story that we're telling,” Akerman says about appearing naked. “I don't like it when it's gratuitous. That I won't do. But if it makes a point and it's funny and it's necessary, then let's do it. I'm not shy about it. But it's not the first thing that I want to do, you know what I mean?
“The worst parts were in the script already,” she adds. “It was all laid out for me, I knew what I was getting into. We'd be doing the scenes and I'd be saying crazy things already, and the Farrellys would throw a few new things at me. But you get so into it, things just sort of came out of me. There was never anything that they hadn't already pushed far enough in the script, though. They didn't need to push it any further.”
Unfazed by pretending to make a disastrous marriage, Akerman is a happy newlywed herself, to an Italian musician she will name only as Roberto. She's learning her new husband's language to go with the Swedish, French and English she's already fluent in.
And she's taking a break from the pretty-funny-girl business to get into the butt-kicking babe end of things. Akerman is currently fight training to play the younger Silk Spectre in the long-awaited film version of the subversive graphic novel Watchmen, which is being made by 300 director Zack Snyder.
“It's amazing,” Ackerman says. “I feel like I can take on anybody, which may not be a good thing because I really can't. But it's great because it's so opposite from The Heartbreak Kid. It's nice to do something that's not comedy.”
Ackerman, who got her start on Earth: Final Conflict while studying psychology at York University, spent summers and holidays in Sweden with her father after her parents split up. But the actress says she loves coming back to Toronto. “Europe has been very much a part of my life, but I feel very Canadian at heart,” she says.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Simon Houpt
(October 3, 2007) NEW YORK — Want to know what Wes Anderson is like in person? Watch his films. For here he is, perched on a high floor of the chic W Hotel overlooking Union Square and seeming as nattily attired, emotionally reserved, unreflective and wholly sui generis as his five-feature body of work.
He is clad in an off-white linen suit that, per his habit, is tailored about one size too small: his pants are floods hanging a centimetre or two above light brown hush puppies, his jacket reveals shirtsleeves unbuttoned at the cuffs. With his baby smooth face and slightly overlong reddish hair, at 38 he gives the playful impression of a boy who suddenly grew into a man and has been too distracted to buy himself a new wardrobe.
Which is an intriguing fiction, because it's hard to imagine Anderson getting distracted from anything he considers important; he knows the value of appearances. Certainly his films, beginning with Bottle Rocket in 1996 and stretching through Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) seem the intricate creations of an obsessive boy-man. His new work, The Darjeeling Limited, is, like the others, a lovingly hand-turned dollhouse of quirky characters. But there's something new pushing at the edges: an awareness, however small, of a wider world out there.
The film, which opens in Toronto on Friday before rolling out across Canada over October, centres on three estranged brothers who have not seen each other since the funeral of their father one year earlier. Led by the eldest, Francis (Owen Wilson), after a motorcycle accident left him longing to reconcile his fractured family, Peter (Adrian Brody) and Jack Whitman (Jason Schwartzman) set out by train across Rajasthan on what Francis bills as a spiritual journey. To ease their way, Francis has brought along his personal assistant, who daily distributes laminated cards to the trio with their minutely planned itinerary.
Like the fictional brothers, Anderson travelled across India with his co-writers on the movie, Schwartzman and Roman Coppola. “We went over there to kind of act out what we knew of the story up to that point, to see what it was like,” he explains.
“So we went on a train around India and we put ourselves in a lot of situations where normally we'd be too reluctant or too reserved to go into, but we did them because, you know, we were doing our ‘research' – so we kind of were acting out the story.”
While writing, Schwartzman played his own character, Coppola took on Brody's character and Anderson played Wilson's – that is, just as he does in real life, he played the ringleader, the orchestrator. And while he's loath to admit he was on his own spiritual quest – “I think it would sound silly to be talking about that in the context of promoting a movie,” – Anderson agrees that he was off-balance and in need of rejuvenation after the experience of making and promoting The Life Aquatic. His first big-studio feature, with a budget of more than twice what he had had before, that project had thrown him into a manner of filmmaking that didn't suit his handmade style: trailers for the actors and endless personal assistants and a sense that there was no need to rush the process because Disney was footing the bill.
“I didn't want to spend that kind of money with Life Aquatic,” he insists. “We had ships and giant sets and we had islands, and we made it for I think half of what you would normally spend for such a movie, but still it ended up being $58-million or something like that. Well, that's a lot of money.” Particularly when the North American box office ends up topping out at about $24-million.
After Life Aquatic, Anderson left his home in New York and took an apartment in Paris. “Often people just have to get away from where they're from, I guess,” he says. The city fed him – he once wanted to be an architect and he is in thrall to classic Parisian design – and put him that much closer to his real goal: travel through Asia and India. Inspired by Jean Renoir's The River, which had been recommended to him by Martin Scorsese, Anderson went to India and immediately fell in love with the land and its people.
“Have you been to India before?” he asks. “There's so many more people than most places you go, and they're out. People are everywhere. So any way you look, there's something funny, something that's going to make you laugh or something that might shock you, or something beautiful. The place is filled with activity, and everything is at a much more intense level, you know? You don't see a guy on a scooter, you see a family of six on a scooter, you know, and the wife is riding side-saddle in a sari, and a guy riding the other way on a bicycle has like 25 milk cans, so that it's wider than a car, and you really can't believe it.”
To illustrate his point, he borrows a pen and a piece of paper and draws a picture of a flatbed truck with an almost dome-like load of cotton that makes the conveyance look like a package of Jiffy-Pop, comically topped off with a tiny Indian man balanced precariously on the load.
Anderson wanted to capture some of that chaos. So he stripped away the normal Hollywood perks, instructed his actors to do their own hair and makeup, and used real locations. Production ended up costing about $17-million.
“My approach with India was, we didn't go to India to build India,” he says. “I feel like there's very little in the movie that we invented.” Except, of course, for the central story, which brings Anderson back to his familiar themes of failure, nostalgia and fractured families.
In The Darjeeling Limited, he toys with those who believe all fiction is autobiographical: Jack, a writer, is frequently protesting that his stories – which the audience knows to be taken directly from his life – are pure fiction.
“I don't think I'd want to write about three brothers if it weren't for the fact that I have two brothers and there were three of us growing up and that comes from my own experience,” Anderson says.
So does he understand why he keeps gnawing at the theme of fractured families?
He pauses as if he's never been asked the question. “I guess, maybe – well, you know what? It's very hard for me to answer,” he says. “I certainly, you know, couldn't help but be aware that that's something that's always in these movies, but umm, I don't know why I feel that drawn to that material.”
He pauses again. “Umm. I'll think about it.” He laughs quietly, to himself: Nothing more is forthcoming.
Film Set To Open Rome Fest
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(September 28, 2007) ROME–Francis Ford Coppola's first movie in a decade, Youth Without Youth, will have its world premiere at the second edition of the Rome Film Festival next month, organizers said yesterday. The five-time Oscar winner's first movie since 1997's The Rainmaker stars Tim Roth in the "philosophical noir" as a professor-turned-fugitive from the Nazis as the Second World War approaches. Filmed in Romania, the movie is adapted from a novella by Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade. It will be screened out of competition. "It's a film that will leave a sign and will make people talk," said Piera Detassis, one of the festival's directors.
To Direct George Harrison Documentary
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(September 27, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Martin Scorsese will direct a documentary film on the late Beatles guitarist George Harrison. "Harrison's music and his search for spiritual meaning is a story that still resonates today and I'm looking forward to delving deeper," Scorsese said in an e-mailed press release Thursday. "It would have given George great joy to know that Martin Scorsese has agreed to tell his story," Harrison's widow, Olivia, said. Scorsese, who won his first Academy Award this year for directing The Departed, has made other films focusing on music stars, including the 2005 documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and 1978's The Last Waltz. Harrison, born in Liverpool, England, and the youngest of the Beatles, died at 58 in Los Angeles on Nov. 29, 2001, after battling lung cancer and a brain tumour.
Bob Marley Doc Headed To U.S. Theatres
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(September 27, 2007) *The Bob Marley documentary "Africa Unite" will arrive soon in U.S. theatres thanks to Palm Pictures, which has acquired all North American and U.K. rights to the acclaimed work by filmmaker Stephanie Black. The feature follows three generations of the Marley family as they take their first trip to Ethiopia for a landmark concert commemorating the late reggae icon's 60th birthday. The film also includes rare footage of Marley and many of his original recordings on the soundtrack. Palm plans a theatrical release this winter, followed by an early 2008 DVD release in time for February's Black History Month.
Mekhi Phifer Headed For Busy 'Christmas'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 3, 2007) *Mekhi Phifer began another season of "ER" on Thursday, and he's gearing up for a return to the big screen in the upcoming holiday comedy, "This Christmas." Mekhi’s production company, Facilitator Films, has partnered with Clint Culpepper of Sony Screen Gems to executive produce the picture, which stars Delroy Lindo, Regina King, Loretta Devine, Chris Brown and Idris Elba. "This Christmas" tells the story of the Whitfield family and their first attempt to spend the holiday season together in four years. Phifer will appear in the film as Santa Claus. Anchored at the Warner Bros. lot, Phifer and partner Ronnie Warner’s Facilitator Films first project was the 2006 comedy film "Puff, Puff, Pass." Phifer made his directorial debut in the film and also starred alongside Danny Masterson, John C. McGinley, Terry Crews, Ronnie Warner, Darrell Hammond and Mo Collins.
Heads Forbes' List Of Richest TV Celebs
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(September 28, 2007) NEW YORK – Oprah Winfrey keeps topping Forbes' rankings of the rich and famous.
This is Forbes' third go-round this year at putting Winfrey at the top of some list or other. The talk-show titan took the top spot on Forbes.com's list of "The 20 Richest Women in Entertainment" in January; six months later, she topped the magazine's annual ``Celebrity 100 Power List" for the second time.
Winfrey, 53, now leads Forbes.com's list of the 20 richest celebs on television. It's one of many new celebrity lists being issued by the website, which appears to have figured out that ranking boldfaced names is a good way to get some attention.
Winfrey, whose media empire includes a magazine and stakes in syndicated daytime talk shows by Dr. Phil McGraw and Rachael Ray, earned an estimated US$260 million between June 2006 and June 2007.
Jerry Seinfeld is No. 2 with $60 million. The comedian, who has a vast Porsche collection, continues to get rich from reruns of his sitcom Seinfeld, which he partly owns.
Simon Cowell of Fox's American Idol places third with $45 million. David Letterman, ranks fourth with $40 million, followed by Donald Trump and Jay Leno (both $32 million), McGraw and Judy ``Judge Judy" Sheindlin (both $30 million) and George Lopez ($26 million).
Kiefer Sutherland, who portrays Agent Jack Bauer on 24, landed at No. 10 by collecting $22 million from the popular Fox drama.
He's followed by Regis Philbin ($21 million); Tyra Banks ($18 million); celebrity chef Ray ($16 million); Katie Couric and Ellen DeGeneres ($15 million); Ryan Seacrest ($14 million); Matt Lauer ($13 million); Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer (both $12 million); and Meredith Vieira ($10 million).
Kings, Kinks, Coupland And Celine
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - John Doyle
The Big Picture
(September 29, 2007) In the muddled, eternally-in-crisis world of Canadian TV, things are looking good. Sort of. For a start, there are shows coming - real shows, with actors, scripts and budgets. Some are good, some might even be enormously entertaining, and others will probably be mediocre or worse. You'll decide which show is a hit. Most Canadian productions arrive mid-season, after Christmas. Thus, few are available for authentic review at this point. However, there are clear indications that some dramas, TV movies and miniseries are worth your attention.
If there's an overall theme, it's drama and comedy derived from the familiar. It's all about us. Our Canada, our obsessions, our tales - true-crime stories, celebrity biographies and hockey. CBC Television has the series. CTV has the TV movies and miniseries. Global has a little of both, plus documentaries.
Mind you, CBC takes a Soviet-era, Kremlin-like stance on advance notice of its shows. Asked to provide a list of what's coming between now and late January, CBC's outsourced publicity company essentially provided a list of what's airing next week. Later came notice of two other shows, neither of which I'd pick as really notable.
It seems some CBC shows don't exist until some CBC executive says they exist, which happens in November. This is weird. Thousands of people have seen snippets of the hockey drama MVP on YouTube. The show looks sensationally good and there's much buzz, but it doesn't exist until the Kremlin says it exists. Advance buzz isn't a CBC thing. CBC's policy is this: Whatever you say, say nothing.
What I'm saying here is that there is much to anticipate with pleasure.
Drama and comedy series
The Tudors (CBC, starts Oct. 2) oozes sex and sensuality, and it is drop-dead cool. A Canada-Ireland production already seen on Showtime in the United States, it's a briskly paced, sharply written and visually sumptuous retelling of Henry VIII's life and times. His life mainly involved women and sport, it seems, and the times were turbulent. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Henry as a rock-star monarch, busily rogering every young woman in the court while his advisers (Sam Neill plays Cardinal Wolsey; Henry Czerny plays the Duke of Norfolk) try to manipulate their headstrong monarch.
Heartland (CBC, starts Oct. 14) is, in contrast, very family-friendly. It's about a family that operates a horse ranch in Alberta and whose special mission is to rescue and nurture abused horses. The acting is wooden, but the horses are the stars anyway.
Da Kink in My Hair (Global, starts Oct. 14) is a sitcom derived from Trey Anthony's award-winning play. Set at Letty's, a hair salon in Toronto's Caribbean community, it's emphatically about strong, witty black women who speak their minds. The first episode (with Ordena Stephens-Thompson, Ngozi Paul and Trey Anthony starring) is trying way too hard to be sharp, and ends up being bluntly laboured and awkward.
Torchwood (CBC, starts Oct. 5) is another CBC/BBC co-production, considerably more British than Canadian. A fun sci-fi drama created by Russell T. Davies, who modernized Dr. Who, it is a sort-of Dr. Who spin-off, starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles. Set at the Cardiff branch of the fictional Torchwood Institute, the heroes deal with ghosties, goblins and a variety of other supernatural eruptions. There's an air of manic irony running through it, which will likely appeal to teenagers.
Across the River to Motor City (CITY-TV, starts Nov. 22) is perhaps the most ambitious of the new Canadian dramas. Set both in Detroit and in Windsor, Ont., and in both the present and the 1960s, it's about private eye Ben Ford (played in youth by Sasha Roiz, and in old age by David Fox), whose girlfriend disappeared on the day of the JFK assassination. Her remains are finally found, and Ben must unravel what happened. Noirish, moody and complex, it's got an awful lot of plot.
The Jon Dore Television Show (Comedy, starts Oct. 17) is a vehicle for the guy familiar from his "reporting" antics on Canadian Idol. According to Comedy, "Dore's flat-out, crazy take on life is told through an array of real-life interviews, off-the-wall tangents and wild antics." Yes, well, Dore's a popular comic famous for his unabashedly adolescent humour.
Coming sooner or later: jPod (CBC) is a series based on Douglas Coupland's bestselling novel. It revolves around Ethan (David Kopp) and five co-workers at a company that designs electronic games. It's called jPod because a bunch of people whose first or last names begin with the letter "J" are obliged to work together. They design the games, josh and send sarcastic e-mails. Ethan's mom (Sherry Miller) has her own grow-op and gets into scrapes with bikers. Ethan's dad (Alan Thicke) has taken up acting and fancies himself a thespian. Actually, he's something of an idiot. From a set visit this summer, I'd guess Thicke is the star, his character being crazy-sleazy, and Thicke relishing the absurdist humour.
The Border (CBC) "confronts Canada's toughest border-security issues" according to the CBC. It's about an outfit called the Immigration and Customs Security (ICS) Squad, and it stars James McGowan, Sofia Milos, Graham Abbey and Catherine Disher. An expensive bet for CBC, the series is big on action and intrigue, in a genre that requires oodles of ingenuity in the writing and directing. The rough pilot episode I've seen is promising but dramatically wobbly.
MVP (CBC) might well be a marvellously attractive, fun Canadian soap. It's hunks, babes, hockey and hot-to-trot puck bunnies. A down-and-dirty look at the lives of professional hockey players and their wives, girlfriends and mistresses, the small amount of rough material I've seen is a whole pile of fun. Like the BBC's Footballers' Wives, it finds more fun in the bedrooms and kitchens of the players and their families than on the ice. The NHL may hate it for the picture it paints of pro hockey's backstabbing, skirt-casing players and ruthless management, but it looks delicious.
Search and Rescue (Global) is about the lives of four members of a Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue team serving in the Pacific Northwest. The scenery is also emphasized, apparently, and the story's focus is on "imperfect, offbeat and sometimes difficult heroes."
TV movies and miniseries
To Serve and Protect: Tragedy at Mayerthorpe (CTV) dramatizes the shooting of four RCMP officers in Alberta in 2005. Henry Czerny and Brian Markinson star. Would Be Kings (CTV), a miniseries from the makers of The Eleventh Hour, is about corruption in a police family. The cast includes Stephen McHattie, Ben Bass and Natasha Henstridge.
The Terrorist Next Door (CTV) is about the story of Ahmed Ressam, the so-called Millennium Bomber based in Vancouver who was arrested in 1999 for plotting to blow up the Los Angeles airport. Chenier Hundal, Kathleen Robertson and Michael Ironside star, and the director is Jerry Ciccoritti (Trudeau).
CTV also has called Elijah, about aboriginal MLA Elijah Harper, who stopped the Meech Lake Accord. Billy Merasty plays the lead.
One of CBC's big productions is the miniseries Céline - yes, about the life and times of Celine Dion, with newcomer Christine Ghawi in the lead role.
Reality, variety, docs and miscellaneous
No Opportunity Wasted (CBC, starts Oct. 3) is created by and presented by Phil Keoghan, the host of CBS's The Amazing Race. People are given 72 hours to overcome a personal fear or achieve something they've lacked the courage to attempt. Who Do You Think You Are? (CBC, starts Oct. 11) is a genealogy show for Canadian celebs. Don Cherry, Margaret Trudeau and Sonja Smits, among others, find their roots. Triple Sensation (CBC, starts Oct. 7) comes from Garth Drabinsky, and is a talent search for the best unknowns who can sing, dance and act.
Canadaville (CBC) is about billionaire Frank Stronach's experiment in creating a community called Canadaville for people left destitute in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Polar Bear Fever (CBC) examines the real and the political status of the polar bear, symbol of possible catastrophe from global warming. It promises to "deconstruct" the animal.
Diamond Road (TVOntario, starts Oct. 17) is a three-part examination of the diamond trade. It uses key players - a prospector, an impoverished miner, a child cutter, a celebrity jeweller, and a high-end dealer - to teach us how these "tiny bits of carbon" make multimillionaires of some and near-slaves of others.
Mars Rising (Discovery, starts Oct. 7) is a companion doc to the drama Race to Mars and examines the ins and outs of a possible mission to Mars.
Apart, that is from various attempts to make popular and successful Canadian TV programming.
To You Proves Sitcoms Still Alive
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Television Critic
(September 29, 2007) LOS ANGELES–Over the past 10 years, television talking head Chuck Darling has climbed the ladder of success, from the anchor desk of a local Pittsburgh affiliate all the way to the top of an L.A.-based network berth.
And then, very quickly, all the way back down, when an unguarded on-air outburst becomes an unwanted YouTube hit.
But Darling's loss is TV's gain. His fall from grace and reluctant, rocky "reunion" with long-ago co-anchor Kelly Carr may herald the triumphant return of the old-school, four-camera, videotaped "live in front of a studio audience" situation comedy.
And if anyone is up to the task, it would be these A-list veterans – indeed, it would be hard to imagine a more impressive and experienced all-star ensemble: Kelsey Grammer, the former Frasier, as the down but not deflated Chuck. Patricia Heaton, Ray Romano's feisty ex, is the territorial, grudge-bearing Kelly.
And, backing them up behind the scenes, the sitcom supreme team of show-running scribes Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan and master director James Burrows.
"I know it's sort of become cool to trash the sitcom," Levitan allows, during an interview at the recent network fall preview tour. "And I understand why, because I think there have been a lot of bad shows throughout the years. Some of them done by me.
"There was a glut, and there were a lot of bad ones, and people kind of got tired of them. But I grew up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show and All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore and Cheers – they were incredibly important shows to me. And I'm frankly sick of people trashing the form."
Back to You (Wednesdays, Fox/Global, 8 p.m.) offers empirical proof that reports of the sitcom's death have been greatly exaggerated.
"These people do it better than anybody has ever done it," enthuses Levitan. "Starting with Kelsey and Patty, who have – between them – three of the greatest shows in sitcom and television history."
He does have a point – when these two consummate pros lock comic horns, it's like watching a ballet and a prize fight rolled into one.
And, yet, this matchup made in television heaven came about in a surprisingly matter-of-fact way.
"I didn't realize Kelsey was even in it until we finished shooting the pilot," needles Heaton. "It's usually all about me when I'm working."
"Atta girl," gamely counters Grammer.
"Actually, I don't know if you know this, but we have the same agent," Heaton tells him. "And about a year or two ago, we were talking about doing something with you. It just seemed right. I thought, `Oh God, me and Kelsey together would be a lot of fun' ... and then I didn't hear anything more about it."
That is, until last pilot season, when the project was in its early stages and Grammer casually suggested Heaton – the two had met once briefly, years before, on an elevator with their respective spouses.
"I was doing this play in New York," Heaton wryly recalls, "for 600 bucks a week. And they said there's this sitcom, and I said, `Yes, whatever it is. '
"But it was with Kelsey, and then I read the script, and it was not only the funniest script that I had been offered, but the only one I had been offered. So it was that winning combination that really sold it for me."
Grammer, of course, was already on board. "I'm just thrilled to be back doing something I'm good at," he shrugs. "I like this. And what would be wrong with doing three of the greatest television shows in history?
"I took this part not because he's a news anchor, but because he was a guy who was going through something that would take him to a different place than where he started. It's a story. I'm good at storytelling. That's what I do and so that's why I'm there."
The character, he says, isn't based on anyone in particular. "Whatever I tend to be playing is created from kind of an amalgam of experience and imagination."
But Levitan begs to differ. "There was this anchorman in Madison, Wis. And when we were trying to come up with a good idea for Kelsey, this guy sort of popped into my head.
"It was the night that John Lennon was shot, and it was very sad. They went to the footage around the Dakota, and the people crying. You know it was a very big moment for him. So they came back to him, and he went, very dramatically: `Lennon is survived by his wife, Topo Gigio ...'
"That has always stayed with me. What's so funny, to me, about local news is there's this great narcissism pretending to be altruism. It's just a wonderful place for a larger-than-life character to be a big fish in a small pond."
Praises Little Mosque On The Prairie
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Television Columnist
(October 02, 2007) As Little Mosque on the Prairie begins its second season (tomorrow, 8 p.m. on CBC), an end-of-filming cast party at the Sultan's Tent restaurant in Toronto proved the perfect place to catch up with a bunch of actors who were struggling a year ago just to get their series on-air. And now?
Debra McGrath (who plays Mayor Popowicz): "Now, we barely have time to sleep, it's the difference between great success and just being around and not getting recognition. And it feels great.... Nobody figured it would be one of the top-rated new shows on Canadian TV. But isn't that the story of Canadian TV: who knew?"
SITARA HEWITT (Rayyan): "This kind of huge success is just great. But a bit disturbing. Canadian actors are not used to such acclaim and popularity. I just think we hit a vein, a rich vein of unexplored humour. The title caught people's attention right away. Muslims on TV are only dramatized as wild terrorists. That's what it seems to me. Now, to show this kind of dimension and in a funny way, it attracts a lot of Canadians even if they are not Muslims."
CARLO ROTA (Yasir): "Being in two big series at the same time, it's a responsibility. This year I'm lucky we're just starting shooting 24 as Mosque wraps up. Last year I spent a lot of time flying between the two sites. With Mosque, I spotted the warmth in it from the beginning. I play my character, who is firmly Muslim. He often can't see the humour in situations as the audience surely does. Anything overt and the fun of these plots would be lost because the concentration is on ordinary, day-to-day experiences. Frankly, I never thought it would be at all controversial and I've been proved right."
Derek McGrath (Rev. Magee): "I read the first script, saw myself as the wonderfully accommodating reverend and I got it right away.... Things are going to happen to him this season. This year, stories are better, tighter; our directors and two new writers are a big help."
SHEILA McCARTHY (Sarah ): "I gave up a Stratford season for this ... but I don't consider it a sacrifice. The scripts are a delight to play.... It's not preachy, but still it is packed with life lessons. Now don't get me started about my character; she's trying so hard to be a good Muslim, but it just doesn't stick. The humour is comedy of recognition. I recognized Sarah the moment I read that first scene with her right there. So I have to thank the creator (Zarqa Nawaz), who sees similarities in all of the characters whereas others might have pointed out the differences."
ZAIB SHAIKH (Amaar): "Well, I am Muslim. Which is why I am fasting today. And I'm an actor. I don't see any problems there. I've been lucky in getting steady TV work ... and I think I have my best part so far. I'm the new imam and have to be very careful. At first, I was mistaken as a terrorist. I have to know how far to go, what are rules, what are customs. And it's all done so lightly, funny, that's what makes people stop and watch. We're not trying to change people's minds but entertain. And that way we can say a whole lot."
MANOJ SOOD (Baber): "I am Hindu. A stretch to play a Muslim? Not at all. My father, a doctor in Calgary, his get-togethers had both and nobody ever felt out of place. The comedy here comes from the differences spotted at first glance. Then we realize we're all the same. That's it, the same."
Regina Hall Joins Ced's ABC Pilot
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(September 27, 2007) *Cedric the Entertainer has recruited his co-star from "The Honeymooners" to play his wife in a new family pilot for ABC. Regina Hall, whose last television project was Fox's "Ally McBeal," has come aboard the untitled multicamera pilot produced by ABC Studios. The show is based on a family man (Cedric) who has always been the proud breadwinner and has difficulty adjusting when his wife's (Hall) hobby turns into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Ken Whittingham has been tapped to direct the pilot. The helmer has previously directed episodes of "Entourage," "The Office" and "Everybody Hates Chris."
Pharrell To Consult On New TV Series
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(October 1, 2007) *Producer/rapper Pharrell Williams has signed as a consulting producer for "Limelight," a new reality television show from film/TV producer McG that will follow students at a New York performing arts school. "This project reminded me a lot of my own life growing up," says Pharrell, according to WENN. "Coming from a different environment where we stuck out for having abilities that we later learned, after attending a school like this, were actually gifts and talents. The moral DNA for this project is that it's OK to dream, but to bring it to fruition requires hard work." McG, who served as executive producer for the CW's "Search for the Next Pussycat Doll" and the new NBC comedy "Chuck," says he chose Pharrell for the job because of his extensive background in music. "Pharrell is the ultimate embodiment of credibility in this space," said McG. "He attended a performing arts high school and went on to become the most prolific producer of our generation."
Saget To Join Cast Of Drowsy Chaperone
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(October 01, 2007) NEW YORK – The Drowsy Chaperone is getting a new Man in Chair – Bob Saget.
Saget, stand-up comedian, game-show host and star of such TV shows as 1 vs. 100, Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos, will join the hit musical Oct. 19, producer Kevin McCollum announced Monday.
"It's going to be a huge amount of fun," Saget said in an interview from California. "It takes you away for two hours, transports you and has you feeling better for the journey. I was belly laughing and incredibly moved by it. I hope I can do it justice."
Man in Chair is the nameless, yet enthusiastic narrator of The Drowsy Chaperone, one of the most successful musicals ever to emerge from Canada, where it made its big-stage debut about six years ago in Toronto. It focuses celebration of one fan's love for a 1928 musical comedy. The show comes to life on stage as Man in Chair plays its ancient cast recording.
"We are all this guy – I know I am," Saget continued, confessing to a love of musicals that stretches back to such classics as The Music Man.
"The great thing about the show – we suffer from a tough title – but as soon as you walk into the show, you immediately are embraced," McCollum said. "Bob is such a wonderful chameleon. He can play so many different aspects. Every audience age knows who Bob Saget is and he's earned it – from Full House to America's Funniest Home Videos to his HBO special. He's not stuck in one category."
It was one of McCollum's co-producers, Bob Boyett, who started conversations with Saget that led to the actor agreeing to star in the show.
"Bob's humour is so much the humour of The Drowsy Chaperone,' McCollum said. "One of the things that the show does so well is that it surprises you. You think it's going to be one thing and then it delivers on so many other levels. And Bob's knowingness and subtleties, as well as sort of getting into your brain on who he is, are very similar."
The Drowsy Chaperone, which has a book by Toronto natives Bob Martin and Don McKellar and a score by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, will be Saget's Broadway debut. He appeared off-Broadway two years ago in Privilege, Paul Weitz's comedy about two boys whose father is accused of insider trading.
"It's probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me artistically," Saget said of his off-Broadway experience. "I knew I wanted to come back and do something else.
"My stand-up is very free associative. I let it come to me when it comes to me. This is a different muscle. What I love about The Drowsy Chaperone is that it is so well written. I don't want to change a word. Not even the commas."
Chaka, Lakisha, Bebe Join 'Color Purple'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(September 27, 2007) *Famed vocalist Chaka Khan, gospel singer Bebe Winans and "American Idol" finalist LaKisha Jones are all scheduled to join the New York company of The Color Purple at the Broadway Theatre, producers announced Tuesday. Khan and Winans, both Grammy winners, will begin their run on Jan. 9 in the roles of Sofia and Harpo. Jones, will join her fellow "Idol" alum Fantasia on Dec. 19 as the Church Soloist, a character who opens the musical with a fiery gospel number. Jones will play the role at all performances through Jan. 6. Starting Jan. 9, she will play the Church Soloist at evening performances and Sofia at matinees. Fantasia continues to wow crowds in the production's starring role of Celie. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200, visit the Broadway Theatre Box Office at 1681 Broadway or visit the website at www.colorpurple.com.
YouTube wants more Canadian content, eh?
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(September 27, 2007) Video-sharing giant YouTube is eager to establish a greater foothold in Canada through partnerships that could result in more authorized Canuck content making its way onto the U.S.-based site, a visiting executive said yesterday.
Jordan Hoffner, head of YouTube's content partnerships, was in Toronto for a series of meetings to explore ways in which the popular site – best known for hosting sight gags and comedy clips – could add more Maple Leaf flavour.
"We're in active discussions with the major Canadian media companies now so there's going to be some announcements pretty soon," Hoffner said.
He declined to elaborate.
The CBC, CFL and NHL are just some of the agencies that already have content-sharing agreements that allow YouTube to air Canadian content including the current affairs show The Hour, and game highlights.
Hoffner said a new deal has been struck with the CBC, but a spokesperson for the public broadcaster said an existing deal stretches back more than a year, originating with YouTube's parent company Google.
Observers say the marriage between YouTube and TV networks has proven to be beneficial to both sides, boosting Internet traffic and TV ratings simultaneously.
Most recently, YouTube partnered with the major U.S. networks to offer online previews of the fall TV line-up.
CTV spokesperson Scott Henderson wouldn't comment on possible deals allowing a greater online presence of shows like Corner Gas and Canadian Idol, saying only that current YouTube postings of original CTV shows are unauthorized.
Toronto blogger and tech watcher Mark Evans says Canada has a large online audience that YouTube has ignored, by and large.
"There's a sort of a disconnect – Canadians love watching online video except that we're not watching Canadian services," says Evans.
"We're watching American services like YouTube which means that if Canadian content is available, it's not available legitimately."
Still, he warned that formal alliances could actually restrict Canadian content online.
"The fact that it's a free-for-all is great for Canadians – we can watch whatever we want whenever we want.
The big fear for consumers is that as online video goes legit is that you'll start to have more regulations in place."
For instance, regulations could keep last night's episode of your favourite show from appearing online until days or weeks later, he said.
Or it might be offered for a fee.
He questioned how much of an appetite for Canadian shows there was to begin with.
"I don't think people are really going to YouTube to watch Little Mosque on the Prairie as opposed to the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live," Evans said.
The closest thing Canada has to YouTube is the video sharing site BlogTV.ca, which allows Canadians to upload clips and also set up streaming video, he notes.
Hoffner's other venture while in Canada was to help promote the YouTube premiere of a music video from singer Naomi Striemer featuring Carlos Santana.
A Modern-Day Swift, With All Kinds Of Secrets
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Elizabeth Renzetti
(September 29, 2007) When Graham Swift's office was pictured in a newspaper recently, there was one distinctive feature that drew comments from many people who knew the writer. It wasn't the room itself, which was elegant, neat, and if not monastic, certainly restrained. It was the blinds on the window, which were drawn, as they always are when Swift writes.
"When I'm at my desk, I don't want to see the outside world," Swift says. "I'm surprised people find that peculiar."
In fact, it's not that peculiar, because the blinds work the other way, too: they keep curious eyes out, and privacy safe within.
Swift is probably the least-known of the major contemporary English novelists, or perhaps it's better to say that he's the one about whom we know the least. That's entirely by design; the thought must give him comfort.
He doesn't have Martin Amisian issues with his teeth or his agent. He doesn't have long-lost siblings like Ian McEwan. He does not marry and divorce in the tropical heat of the spotlight, à la Salman Rushdie. He sits, and he writes, with the blinds drawn. Sometimes he goes fishing. Even writers like Thomas Pynchon are present thanks to their absence, but Swift is a quiet, serious character seldom encountered outside the book-review pages.
He acknowledges, with a smile, that he is not "a centre-stage sort of person." When he decided to become a novelist, "writers were these people who were never seen. Their books were these very public things, but the writers themselves stayed at home. There's a bit of me that would like the world still to be like that."
The world has changed, as he well knows. Witness the pub we're sitting in for lunch, which is not filled with workmen downing noontime pints, but quiet, well-heeled locals perusing the specials on a chalkboard.
Where there once might have been cheese-and-pickle sandwiches and a shouting barman, now there are Australian waiters and foie gras.
This is Swift's local, in a particularly lovely and quiet part of south London. At 58, with his blue eyes, shock of dark hair and a never-trendy sweater vest, Swift looks like he could be Michael Palin's brother, or perhaps cousin (the serious one, who did not make rude noises or pull faces).
What do we know? That he went to Cambridge and studied English literature, that he was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1983 for Waterland and won it, 13 years later, for Last Orders (both novels were later made into films). We know that he has always lived in London, that he's married and has no children, although the parent-child relationship figures heavily in much of his work.
That relationship is certainly at the heart of his new novel, Tomorrow, which takes place entirely in the course of one midsummer night as Paula Hook, well-loved wife and mother, composes a story in her head to tell her 16-year-old twins, Nick and Kate. The following day, the twins will learn a momentous secret their parents have kept from them since birth. Beside Paula lies her beloved husband Mike, slumbering peacefully, despite the fact that it's his job to break the news to the kids.
"I rather like the irony," Swift says, laughing. "She's the one who's resolved to lie awake all night, and he's the one sleeping throughout the entire novel." An incautious reader might suggest that it's because he's a guy, so of course a little thing like the potential breakup of his family wouldn't keep him from a solid eight hours. Swift doesn't seem to have much patience for such lines of thought, and bats away a question about writing an entire novel in a woman's voice: "Any decent writer should be able to do it."
As well, the challenge of writing about what is essentially a safe and happy family - the trap of blandness suggested by the aperçu "happiness writes white" - is merely another obstacle for his imagination. The answer, he says, is to find the tension in the happiness, and in the case of Tomorrow, it's the idea that tomorrow it may all end.
More interesting to him is the challenge he's set in keeping the action restricted to one viewpoint, over a mere few hours of the night. Paula's thoughts range through the family's history, but the reader is always aware that dawn is just around the corner. Many of his preoccupations from past novels are visited again - the way we can never really know our parents, the way the past is always in our thoughts.
It is, as one astute critic noted, like a Tardis of a novel, referring to the Dr. Who phone booth that's home to an entire spaceship: small on the outside and much larger within. The novel-in-a-day is a chronological framework he's used before, in The Light of Day (about a detective, trailing an adulterous husband, who falls for the wronged wife) and in Last Orders (in which a group of friends meets to scatter the ashes of one of their number).
"It's a sort of anchor," says Swift. "Whatever else you do, you know the narrative has this very precise point of time in place which you're going to keep coming back to, and that helps in the writing. But, also, isn't that how we all are? We are where we are at any point in our lives, but we're everywhere else in our memories."
As in many of Swift's novels, the action swoops back around itself, with the same incident visited repeatedly to reveal a tiny bit more detail, like a gift slowly being unwrapped. In the case of Tomorrow, though, some critics have found the unwrapping laborious, and it hasn't received the unanimously glowing reviews of his previous books. The London-based U.S. novelist Lionel Shriver harshly reviewed Tomorrow, then fretted in yet another piece about what would happen if Swift were to sit on a prize panel judging her new novel.
"I don't think it bothered me as much as it bothered her. The literary world is pretty small - often small in the sense of petty," Swift says. "Writers are there to exchange ideas, but the literary world is often very small-minded - the world of reviews and opinions and gossip and chatter."
Winning the Booker Prize and gathering critical acclaim has allowed him the luxury of thriving outside the spotlight. "It's best to stay out of that, and it's mainly what I've managed to do."
Swift manages to stay out of things quite nicely, or at least laugh at the world's foolishness when need be. At the end of our meal, he spots something on the menu called Eton Mess, which the Australian waiter describes, with some uncertainty, "as marshmallow and meringue and things."
"Well then," says the serious novelist, "I think we should have two."
When the dessert arrives - Barbie-pink, with the texture of shaving foam - he pokes at it with a spoon. It's hard to believe that the British elite sailed out of its most famous private school on a raft of this pink goo. Or perhaps you need to be English to appreciate the joke. "Just think," says Swift, taking a bite, "this and the playing fields are what made the British Empire."
Company's Credo: Let's Get Physical
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Dance Critic
(September 29, 2007) A dancers' dance company, ProArteDanza has earned a reputation in four action-packed years as a stable for thoroughbred performers.
And as long as we're talking about breeding, it's worth noting that the company has become the first in Toronto to grow a style of dance that brings together the best of classical ballet and contemporary technique.
"I thought (founder and artistic director Roberto Campanella) was crazy to try and start a dance company in Canada," says Robert Glumbek, Campanella's artistic associate. And yet, here they are, about to launch their fourth season on Wednesday, with live music and a move to a bigger venue, the Premiere Dance Theatre.
From the first season at the Betty Oliphant Theatre with heart-stopping dance from ballet greats Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington, and contemporary stars like Glumbek, Andrea Nann and Kate Alton, ProArteDanza has proved itself to be not just about the art of dance, but the love of dance.
"We've always prized that intense physicality usually associated with a certain male athleticism," says Campanella on the phone from his home, which doubles as the company's headquarters. "In this program it's visible in the women as well.
"I feel very strongly about a certain kind of physicality in our programs, that constant pushing the limits beyond what the dancer believes to be his or her physical limits."
"Roberto and I always expect from the dancers no less than what we as dancers are prepared to do ourselves," says Glumbek, breaking from rehearsals to deliver his philosophy in person. "As a dancer I've never said no to a choreographer. I say, `I can do anything; now let me see if it's possible.'"
Their passion has proved to be an inspiration to the dancers pulled into the ProArteDanza corral, including National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Guillaume Côté, who will dance a new duet created by Matjash Mrozewski for him and National Ballet partner and principal Heather Ogden.
"Roberto and Robert are such incredible movers themselves, and they like pushing themselves. They are such extreme people, extreme choreographers, dancers and personalities. It comes through in the work. You can see how much a director influences the dancers," says Côté.
Campanella and Côté came together working as choreographer and composer/dancer for the documentary Moving to His Music: The Two Muses of Guillaume Côté, nominated for two Gemini Awards. "We became huge friends when he made that solo for me," says Côté, speaking from a cellphone on the Nanaimo ferry to Vancouver, where the National Ballet rounds out its western tour.
"I think we are always ready to inspire each other," Côté adds. He also believes ProArteDanza is drawing new and younger audiences to serious dance. "The essence of the company is all about creation."
Choreographer Mrozewski came to work with the company because he says he was impressed by "the calibre of the dancers and the buzz it created. And by the variety of approaches to choreography and dance. There is that tendency in my work to shift between those two worlds of classical and contemporary dance."
What's more, ProArteDanza has given him a platform to make a piece for Ogden, a dancer he's watched in her progress at the National Ballet. "She is so strong and always getting stronger. Physically, the raw potential is very exciting. I love watching her work."
It's a safe bet that the new duet, Chopper, set to David Lang's The Anvil Chorus, played live by percussionist Graham Hargrove, will uphold ProArteDanza's rep for awe-inspiring physicality.
The company has also inspired Mrozewski, once a dancer with the National Ballet, to perform again. He joins dancers Kate Franklin, Leonie Gagné, Julie Pecard, Anisa Tejpar and Brendan Wyatt in a second new piece of his own creation, Chevalier, performed to harpsichord music by Frescobaldi, played live onstage by Paul Jenkins.
Such an eclectic group of dancers – some of them current or ex-members of the National Ballet, some of them purely contemporary, a few still quite fresh from dance school –inspires a choreographer like Mrozewski into "new ways of moving and new ways of working in the studio. It's a really exciting place to show work."
Glumbek has reworked what he calls his tribute to women, Alpha Phemale, originally commissioned by the dance department at Ryerson University and now set on a smaller – but still sizeable – ensemble of 10 women.
"Women were always very strong in my family," he says. The dance, he says, is a tribute to what women have achieved in the last 30 or 40 years, but also a light nudge at what happens when they become too much like men.
Campanella and Glumbek worked together on a new solo piece for Glumbek inspired by Vesna Perunovich's video art installation called House of Exile. The solo happens to mark the 20th anniversary of Glumbek's arrival in Canada when he was touring with a Polish ballet company.
"The piece is about finding your place in the world, looking for a sense of belonging," says the dancer.
The father of two girls born in Toronto, Glumbek now considers Canada his permanent home, but the sense of struggle to embrace exile is expressed in the solo, says Campanella. "It's breathtaking the way he does it. He's 43, but he's in fantastic shape."
One of Campanella's contributions to the program is Flights of Fugue, an ensemble piece created with a grant from the New York Choreographic Institute. It was first done in 2006, he says, for eight women, but he has revised it for six women and two men, performing to a live string quartet playing Beethoven.
Long-time Campanella associate Christopher Body will partner National Ballet dancer Stacey Shiori Minagawa in Moonlight Sonata, a solo originally created on Evelyn Hart and Jason Reilly.
Campanella, himself a ballet dancer who could thrill an audience as much as any in his generation, will remain backstage.
He feels his energies properly belong to encouraging his dancers toward peak performance.
"I feel like I'm on the top of my craft," he says – and by that he means being artistic director of a company that is finding new ways for younger artists to explore their potential.
Language Takes Theatre To New Heights
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Dance Critic
(out of 4)
By Denise Clarke. Until Saturday at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St. 416-866-8666
(October 02, 2007) Sign Language, which was staged at Factory Theatre in the spring and is being remounted at the Young Centre in the Distillery District, is a simple title for a show that operates in complicated ways.
And in it, choreographer Denise Clarke, an associate artist with Calgary's One Yellow Rabbit performance theatre, has taken physical theatre to an advanced level.
Clarke strides onstage in chunky heels, wearing white ankle socks and a black dress that shows off her bare, long legs. She smiles to herself, making absurd, exaggerated gestures, like the T for time out.
After a greeting to the audience, she begins: "I am healthy ... I'm not drinking as much ... No more junk food in this temple ... I am a concerned and empowered member of my society."
All through this narcissistic soliloquy she is signing: hands rolling over each other means "productive"; fingers wiggling over the abdomen means "anxiety."
And then the bottom line: "But I still worry," she says, tracing little circles on her forehead with two index fingers. Her goofy smile shifts to a look of panic.
The music comes on and it is profoundly solemn: Arvo Part's Miserere. As the hour progresses, Clarke goes through countless sudden changes, from sublime to ridiculous to more ridiculous.
She has the audience in the palm of her hand, then she walks into the bleachers, involving the viewers in a terribly risky bit of mime. It would be unfair to reveal too much of what goes on in Sign Language, for it would remove the surprise.
There's a crazy passage where Clarke mimes a struggling, paranoid female going for a shopping bag, contorting herself into unflattering positions. The bag, when unfolded, ironically reveals the Winners logo.
You're never sure where she's going to go next, from a straight forward, graceful ballet solo, to Martha Graham modern movements, to clutching her bare bum cheek and scratching it.
Clarke seems to be performing, being herself and rehearsing all at once.
Most dramatically, Clarke removes her clothes until she's down to nothing but a thong. Nudity onstage has never been so funny. The lighting almost constitutes a partner in this performance. There's a trick done with mirrors that turns the audience's stare onto itself. Solos like this can't be performed forever, even by one as agile as Clarke. Sign Language is a must-see-now.
This is an edited version of a review of the Factory Theatre production that appeared in April 2007.
Suspended 20 Games For Hit
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(September 28, 2007) NEW YORK – Steve Downie's NHL debut has been put on hold.
The NHL suspended the Philadelphia Flyers rookie forward for 20 games today for his hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in an exhibition game this week.
"(Downie) crossed the line, and he crossed the line in a whole-heartedly way," Colin Campbell, the NHL executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, said during a conference call.
McAmmond suffered a concussion as a result of the hit and was taken off the ice on a stretcher during the second period of the pre-season game Tuesday night.
"It's a hit that, as soon as you see it happen live . . . you think, this is going to be a bad one," Campbell said.
The five-foot-10, 192-pound Downie received a match penalty, meaning he was automatically suspended indefinitely pending a review.
Downie, 20, wasn't expected to make the Flyers' roster this season. However, that was before the club sustained injuries to forwards Scottie Upshall, R.J. Umberger and Joffrey Lupul.
If Downie is cut by the Flyers, he will have to serve the suspension when he returns to the NHL. But Campbell said the NHL suspension would not prevent Downie from playing for the Flyers' AHL minor-league affiliate.
A call to the AHL was not immediately returned.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray supported the suspension.
"The primary concern of our organization was, and continues to be, the health of Dean McAmmond," Murray said in a statement. "We feel the number of games of the suspension is appropriate, and the NHL has sent the correct message to address the severity of hits to the head like this one."
"I feel the ruling is strong enough to prevent these things from happening in the future," he said. "At this point, the NHL needs to a make a statement to try to protect players, and I hope that a suspension of this length will do that successfully."
The incident was a big blow to McAmmond, who has a history of concussions and was knocked out of last year's playoffs after taking a hit to the head from Anaheim defenceman Chris Pronger. Pronger received a one-game suspension for the hit.
Campbell said Downie's hit met the four requirements for a stiff punishment: the head was intentionally targeted; Downie launched himself by leaving his feet to hit McAmmond in the head area; the hit was delivered to an unsuspecting opponent; and the lateness of the hit.
"My reaction is that it seems like a lot of games, but Colin Campbell is in a very difficult position and we respect his position and his judgment in this case," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told The Associated Press. "We will live with it.
"I was with Steve during the hearing and was with him after the verdict. He is very upset and understandably so. He understands the ramifications and he is prepared to live with this decision."
Downie and McAmmond spoke by telephone earlier this week, with the Flyers player formally apologizing to the Senators forward.
Back in March, forward Chris Simon of the New York Islanders was suspended 25 games for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers.
Other suspensions of at least 20 games include: Boston's Marty McSorley in Feb. 2000, for knocking out Vancouver's Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit (23 games); Tampa Bay's Gordie Dwyer (23 games) for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game in 2000; and Washington's Dale Hunter (21 games) for a blindside check of Pierre Turgeon of the N.Y. Islanders after a goal in a 1993 playoff game.
Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi, Chicago's Tom Lysiak and Phoenix's Brad May all served 20-game suspensions.
Downie was a first-round draft pick of OHL's Windsor Spitfires and, ultimately, the Flyers (29th overall in the '05 NHL Entry Draft). He was a fan favourite in Windsor, Ont., until a much publicized run-in with teammate Akim Aliu led to suspensions to both players and coach Moe Mantha, who was ultimately fired. Downie left the club and demanded to be traded and was dealt to the Peterborough Petes.
Downie helped Canada capture last year's world junior hockey championship in Sweden, but throughout the tournament was mentioned prominently in OHL trade talk. On Jan. 8, the Petes sent Downie to the Kitchener Rangers for Yves Bastien and three second-round draft picks.
While Campbell said he was aware of his Downie's past behaviour, but did not hold it against him because the hits weren't in the NHL.
"When it comes to our league, he has a clean slate," Campbell said. "We do not consider what he does in any other league."
Downie will forfeit US$63,101.60 in salary.
With files from The Associated Press.
Man On A Mission
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Sports Reporter
(September 27, 2007) As a marathoner, Ryan Day knows well the loneliness of the long distance runner.
But the days of running by himself – and for himself – are over for the 25-year-old from Kitimat, B.C.
Day, who will race for Team Canada in Sunday's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, had a transformative experience last May.
The member of the Secwepemc Nation, Bonaparte Band, was one of the leaders in a Prayer Run for World Peace, a relay by indigenous youth from Vancouver to Anchorage that changed his reasons for running.
"We did a lot of ceremony, we would pray in the hope that the suffering we were enduring as runners was taking away from the suffering of people who can't help themselves elsewhere in the world in their own communities," said Day.
"It's become more of a spiritual endeavour, running, more than a competitive one or individual. It suits my personality and my life view better."
Day said he's forged his aboriginal identity only in the last three years, having grown up in the "dominant culture" with a Caucasian father and aboriginal mother.
He's been shaped by his work with high-risk aboriginal youth in east Vancouver and is fuelled by a mission – to be a strong role model for aboriginal youth and spread the word about their plight.
Day realizes his goals can best be reached by becoming that rarest of species these days, a Canadian Olympic marathoner.
He is aiming for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and wants to be a contender by the 2012 London Games. His best time of two hours 19 minutes 55 seconds is five minutes off the qualifying standard, but he's never had a proper training environment.
That's changed in the last three weeks after he uprooted himself from Vancouver to move to Toronto to be part of the new Brooks Canada Marathon Project.
The unique $1.5 million program started in January and aims to develop top-class marathoners in Canada over the next six years.
The project is being backed by a couple of marathon zealots, brothers Mike and Paul Dyon, former runners who own Brooks Canada.
Scotiabank Marathon organizer Alan Brookes describes the '90s and beyond as a "black hole" for Canadian marathon running.
"It's been part-time amateur stuff and, no disrespect to the people who were doing it, but there hasn't been any infrastructure or system," said Brookes. "Maybe this is the sort of light at the end of the tunnel."
Cameron could see some of that light while coaching a recent 27-kilometre workout at the Holland Marsh. The synergy between the runners was evident as they went shoulder to shoulder, each taking turns pushing the pace.
"The guys who are having a better day can drag the guys having a tough one along," Day said. "We've got guys from both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. We're a pretty motley crew. But that's the way marathoners are. You get every body type, every type of runner, so we can all help each other in different types of workouts."
Night Host Maclean Signs New Contract
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(October 01, 2007) Ron MacLean is here to stay at Hockey Night In Canada.
The sports broadcaster signed a seven-year contract with CBC Sports today, matching the length of the network's new broadcast agreement with the NHL.
Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports, sought the long-term deal with MacLean to secure a bedrock for the broadcasts as the transition from one generation of play-by-play announcers to another is made in the coming years.
"I wanted symbolically to say, `Hockey Night in Canada' is on the CBC for the next seven years and Ron MacLean is going to be there the whole time," Moore said.
Don Cherry, star of the popular first period intermission segment Coach's Corner with MacLean, may be a part of things for a while yet, too. His contract expires after the season but he remains in the long-term vision.
"I have said to Don that we'll talk in a little while," said Moore. "I want to keep Don as long as he wants to go and as long he feels he's making a relevant contribution.
"I'm treating him like a thoroughbred: I'm going to ride him until his leg breaks and then I'm going to shoot him."
Getting this deal done was much easier than the last time the two sides negotiated a contract. The CBC halted talks with MacLean back in 2002 and the back-and-forth between them made headlines for days until an agreement was reached.
"A negotiator should be like a referee, you shouldn't even notice them," said Moore. "It was a very, very easy negotiation.
"Ron was terrific, he wants to be with us long-term, he's the face of `Hockey Night in Canada' as was proven in the last negotiation. Fans love him."
MacLean joined the CBC in 1986 and took over as national host of Hockey Night in Canada a year later. He's also hosted Olympics, Commonwealth Games, the IAAF world track and field championships and the Calgary Stampede, among other events.
"Don Cherry must have broken a mirror this summer . . . I'm back for seven years," MacLean said in a statement. "The term of the deal is not at all about security – that would be settling in, playing it safe.
"It was each of us showing our eagerness to take the opportunity of the new NHL deal, to try and do telecasts that go beyond just informing and entertaining, and instead really hitting you in the heart and head with a feeling you can't get anyplace else."
Game on! Leafs Play Tonight
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Kevin Mcgran, Sports Reporter
(October 03, 2007) Goalie Andrew Raycroft says he's starting in net tonight for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season opener against the Ottawa Senators. Vesa Tsoakala also says Raycroft is starting tonight. But Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice won't say one way or another.
In an attempt to avoid a goaltending controversy over which goalie is starting, Maurice has instituted a new policy for himself: He's no longer announcing it. That way, he won't have to justify – prior to the game – why one goalie is playing and not the other.
"I'll answer all those questions after (the game)," said Maurice. "I'm not going to tell you who are starting goaltender is. We'll talk about it after the game."
Last year, Raycroft played 72 of the 82 games. Some believe the starter's job was his to lose in training camp. He went 2-0-1 in three pre-season games.
"I'm starting," said Raycroft. "There's no need to react. It's just one game."
But the Leafs gave up three draft picks to acquire Toskala after Raycroft's less-than-stellar performance in another non-playoff year. General manager John Ferguson signed Toskala to a long-term contract extension, signalling the 30-year-old Finn was more important to the team than the 27-year-old Raycroft. But Toskala struggled in his three pre-season outings.
"Every game is different, we'll see how it goes," said Toskala. "It's a long season. Only one goalie can play at a time. I'm sure everything is going to sort out as the season goes along."
The Leafs have said they plan to use give both goalies a lot of work, intending to go with the netminder who's hot.
"Short leash is not the way I would put it. We have two guys who can play here. It's either you're not playing well, or not winning, the team needs wins. That's the bottom line.
"Whoever is being responsible for that (winning) is going to get more starts than not."