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LE NEWSLETTER

September 6, 2007


I don't know who said this but whoever said it was dead right - 'technology is wonderful, until something goes wrong ... and something always goes wrong.'  While yesterday was completely frustrating to me, it was beyond my control and it ended up giving me some time to try to take it in stride and to let it go and let it be.  Difficult but good lesson.  So, apologies for any inconvenience my site being down yesterday and this morning has caused.   

Having said that - I have great news!  My dear friend, Morley, an amazing vocalist and person, is coming up to Toronto for TIFF and is going to perform two shows while here.  I'm very excited about this and I hope that you are able to come out to at least one of the shows.  All info is below!  Trust me, not to be missed!

 

::HOT EVENTS::


New York's Own MORLEY Hits Toronto with Two Shows!
NEW YORK TIMES EMERGING ARTIST


Source:  Langfield Entertainment

September 4, 2007  (Toronto) - Universal France artist, Morley, who was recently named "New York Times Emerging Artist”, is coming to Toronto  to celebrate her latest musical offering SeenMorley performs with a full band on Wednesday, September 19th at Revival (College and Shaw).  Morley is coming to Toronto to enjoy some of the Toronto International Film Festival and has decided to bless us with a local gigs while she’s here.  "Toronto is one of my favourite cities on the planet because of its international community. I see my reflection here in so many different faces, it's a city that holds evidence that we can cohabitate in harmony . . . makes me want to become an ex-patriot," says Morley.

The plight of Toronto’s homeless hasn’t escaped New York songstress Morley.  In town to perform two live shows, Morley has chosen Sistering as the charity that will receive partial proceeds from all ticket sales. (See full press release below.)

Click HERE to listen to Morley music.
 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19
MORLEY IN CONCERT
Revival

783 College Street (at Shaw)

Doors 7:00 pm
Show:  8:00 pm
TICKETS:  $10.00 at door

ABOUT MORLEY:

Singer/songwriter Morley is soulful, sensual, and down-to-earth, and her sultry voice and socially conscious lyrics fused with deep grooves attract an audience as diverse as her influences. Compared to a range of artists from Nina Simone and Sade to Annie Lennox and Joni Mitchell, with a sound that is all her own, Morley carries on their legacy. Her self-produced album Days Like These, licensed to Universal France and released in the U.S. on Circular Moves, garnered stellar reviews and has led to sharing stages with superstars Dave Matthews, Amadou et Mariam, Simply Red, Rodrigo & Gabriela, and Raul Midón, to name a few. She is the artist in residence at NYC's famous "Joe's Pub" where she regularly sells out and wows her audiences!

Morley recently completed her new CD Seen slated for release late-Fall 2007. Co-produced by Jay Newland, Jean-Philippe Allard, and Morley, Seen features an array of stellar musicians, including Larry Campbell, Gil Goldstein, Richard Bona, and others. Morley's evocative, alluring voice can also be heard on the current national Ralph Lauren Polo ad campaign for the fragrance "My Romance".

WHAT THE PRESS SAYS ABOUT MORLEY:

"This jazz minded pop chanteuse, soul sister, cosmopolitan home girl from Jamaica Queens embodies modern-day NY femininity in all its multicultural finess." -The New York Times

"Somewhere between Sade and Portishead, there's Morley" -Time Magazine

"Morley's urban folk is smooth and powerful and proves she knows love is the only way." - Time Out New York

http://www.myspace.com/morleymusic — Morley's official MySpace page which has several songs from her soon-to-be-released CD Seen, co-produced for Universal France by Jean-Philippe Allard, who is also the president of Universal France, Jay Newland, and Morley.

http://www.morleymusic.org/
— Morley's official website, which is currently being updated, and has the songs from her last CD, Days Like These, co-produced by Jay Newland of Norah Jones fame.
 

New York’s Morley to donate proceeds from Toronto shows to Sistering

Source:  Deborah Bowers

Toronto – Sept. 13 – Even though she’s American, the plight of Toronto’s homeless hasn’t escaped New York songstress Morley.  In town to perform with a full band at Revival (783 College Street West) on Wednesday, September 19th – Morley has chosen
Sistering as the charity that will receive partial proceeds from all ticket sales.

Morley’s social and political awareness came at a very early age.  Today, she has loaned more than just her voice to several causes around the world – from protecting the environment to ending child poverty.  She has performed for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela in Capetown, South Africa, and at Carnegie Hall with David Amram for Eco-Fest. Morley participated in the Tribute to Joni Mitchell at Symphony Space and sold out the Thalia Theater there. She’s toured Europe in the musical, The Temptations of St. Anthony, and sang alongside Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon on the soundtrack for the HBO special, Beah Richards, A Black Woman Speaks. Morley was the 2005 recipient of the Abe Olman scholarship for excellence in song writing, representing ASCAP and performed at the 60th anniversary of the UN.

“Toronto is one of my favourite cities on the planet because of its international community. I see my reflection here in so many different faces, it’s a city that holds evidence that we can cohabitate in harmony,” says Morley.


Empowering ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances

Sistering has been providing services to homeless, under housed, socially isolated and low-income women for 23 years.  Sistering includes a Drop-In Centre on College Street, an Outreach Program in Parkdale, and two residences where women are permanently housed – one for adult single women and the other for single mothers and their children.

In a safe, social space for women, Sistering provides hot meals, clothing, laundry and shower facilities, access to health care professionals, a mailing address, informal counselling, housing assistance and support, life skills workshops and support groups.   Two self-employment programs – On The Path, a sewing program and Inspirations Art Studio, an arts based micro-enterprise initiative – enable women to enhance their incomes.

“Women like
Morley realize the importance of women supporting each other – the sisterhood.  It is what we have based our organization on and we are both proud and excited to be partnering with such a strong and wonderful person.  Morley’s music is both conscious and uplifting – her strength comes from within and shines through,” says Sistering’s Executive Director, Angela Robertson.

Known for her socially conscious lyrics and deep, soulful grooves, Morley combines her unique experiences as a former teacher in New York City’s shelters and public school system and as a choreographer (Alvin Ailey, Max Roach) to create songs that have attracted diverse audiences all over the world.   With influences that range from Bob Marley to Bob Dylan, her music is informed by real life and has been compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Sade and Annie Lennox. 

::TOP STORIES::

Daniel Lanois - He Sees The Music

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green

(August 31, 2007)
Daniel Lanois lounged on an ivory leather sofa in his loft studio in Toronto, dressed all in black, with eight silk-covered buttons marching up his sleeve. A few feet away, in a soft pool of light, stood an enormous mixing board, just arrived from England. Lanois, who has often manned such a board for Bob Dylan, U2 and many others, spoke of his new acquisition with pleasure, but also with a sense that anything he could tell me about it would be beside the point. He can talk audio gear with more authority than most, but in the end the circuits that really matter to him are the balky, surprising conduits that lead to the heart.  “The application is just the vehicle for dragging something out of somebody,” he said. “What you want is the heart and soul of the people in the room. The sounds and how you build the thing are only ever a canvas, or an invitation for the soul to jump out.” Invite the soul to jump out. That's a pretty concise description of what a good music producer does, but how does it happen in the real world, with actual musicians trying to find the right shape for something that maybe didn't exist before they entered the room? The short answer is that it probably happens in a different way every time, depending on the personalities and the moment and a million other variables. The 90-minute answer is Here Is What Is, Lanois's debut film about music and the art of making records, coming soon to the Toronto International Film Festival. It's a highly personal film, focused on Lanois and people he has worked with ever since he began trying to coax interesting sounds from cheap equipment in his mother's basement in Hamilton. Brian Eno, Garth Hudson, U2 and Sinead O'Connor all appear, speaking or performing or just groping their way toward that soul-jumping moment.

Lanois appears in every scene, as the poser of questions and the person who enables partial answers. Sitting in a medina in Morocco, he tells Eno he's making a film “about the source of the art, instead of everything that surrounds the art.” That means no concert footage, no shots of screaming crowds, no clips from million-dollar music videos. Lanois's subjects sit in functional rooms, strum guitars with headphones clamped to their ears, or try to figure out how to enlarge what has already been recorded. The constant theme is that these denuded spaces contain everything that's needed, as a matter of principle. You never see more players being called in, or extra filters and gizmos being ordered, because Lanois doesn't work that way and never has. “My heroes were always the people in the room,” he told me after we'd watched the film together. “Maybe that's why I managed to pull it off on records. At the moment, I believe in the magic of the people around me. I never doubt them, and that's maybe where the power of belief becomes contagious, because people feel that.” In one vivid scene, Lanois asks Brian Blade, a gifted jazz drummer with whom he has worked on several projects, to play on top of a track by New Orleans drummer Willie Green. Lanois explains that doubling the drums will help him take the song to a different place harmonically. You can see Blade trying to absorb the concept and get past the audacity of the request, and then he dives in, laughing. It's a touching display of trust, and of a willingness to follow the power of belief in a totally unexpected direction. Later in the film, Lanois gives Blade a verbal sketch of a new song, acting out with his voice and body the way he wants the arrangement to feel. The scene is intercut with bits of the song as it eventually came out in the studio. For another song, Lanois sits at a board doing a live mix, telling us what he's doing with those faders and why. His torso bends and weaves as he makes subtle but telling changes, riding the board as if it were a wave on a sea of sound. The opening of the film gets close to the source in another way, through a long keyboard-level shot of Garth Hudson's hands, as the Band's pianist plays an improvised introduction to Lanois's song Lovechild. The camera gets even closer to Lanois's hands as they glide over the pedal steel guitar a few minutes later.

These sequences are shot in beautiful black and white by the young Ontario photographer Adam Vollick, whose portrait orientation, vivid angles and rich textures feel analogous to the way Lanois approaches music. The graphic style of Vollick's video processing gives the impression we're seeing an X-ray of the performers and their music, and when he uses colour it feels like flares of emotional energy. These effects don't ultimately tell us much about what Lanois says he's up to, just as a musician's hands moving in close-up are not “the source of the art,” however engrossing they may be to watch. But like most serious investigations into mysterious subjects, Here Is What Is succeeds mainly by raising the questions in a compelling way. The mystery remains, powerfully resisting a solution. It's no digression when Blade, a preacher's son, says that everything he plays is a form of praise, or when Lanois refers to his pedal steel as a “church in a suitcase.” Blade also says he can't separate the sacred from the secular, and that comment seems doubly apt in a film whose unstated second theme is seduction. The gorgeous sound and imagery are custom-made to win you over, as Lanois muses on the details that make a listener revisit a song. A few red-hot sequences with salsa dancer Carolina Cerisola state the theme loud and clear. Here Is What Is will be useful as a promotional vehicle for Lanois's next solo album, due next spring, which he coyly says “might” have the same title. By then he'll have done a fourth session with Eno on the next U2 album, which he said is turning out to be “very exotic” and eastern-sounding, though not derivative of any particular tradition. But first, the film needs to be sold, which is one big reason it has been entered at TIFF. No doubt when the lights go down, with potential distributors nestled in their seats, Lanois will be even more than usually ready for a sign that the power of belief and the people in the room can carry the day. Here Is What Is premieres at TIFF on Sept. 9. Daniel Lanois plays the Great Hall in Toronto on Sept. 11.

Russell Peters - Affirmative Reaction

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com -

(August 30, 2007) He has made a living out of incredibly funny and completely politically incorrect jokes. Among many routines that Brampton-born
Russell Peters has cracked up audiences with is the one about how when God made Indians and placed them in the tropics, he threw in generous amounts of body hair "just for fun."   So when you ask him, "Are you really very hairy or is that just a joke?" it shouldn't come as a surprise when Peters goes "rrrrippp." Off come the shirt buttons to reveal his chest. Yes, it is truly hairy.   The rest of his conversation with Desi Life goes on in the same vein. "I've been to Colombo. Lots of Sri Lankans there." Or, "I thought I was Indian until I went to India."  He was there in March, the motherland of his Anglo-Indian parents and fodder for many of his newer jokes, as he amply demonstrated on his sold-out homecoming tour at the Air Canada Centre in mid-June.  He had everyone in stitches as he poked fun at Indians for being cheap and at their accents.  And, in typical Peters style, his racially charged comedy didn't spare any major ethnic group.

But Peters, who is now based in Los Angeles, calls his brand of humour cultural rather than racial. "Race and culture are two very different things. Because I can talk about black people. That's racial. But I get more specific and I break it down to cultures, and I get down to talk about African people, which racially are black people, but they're different from black Americans.  "It's the ridiculousness of the stereotype (that makes humour work)," he says. "However, at some point, on some level, the stereotype is true." His humour dissects the stereotype to "find out where the truth and lies separate and exaggeration kicks in."  Does he have an advantage over white stand-up comics in making cultural jokes?   "I think I have a better understanding of both sides of the coin. I'm not saying white people don't understand, but they never had to live through some of the things I had to live through, endure some of the things I had to go through. Whatever the case may be, they may understand it on one level; it's not a true feeling for them, you know."  Growing up as a non-white person in Canada gave him added perspective. "You have to understand what it's like to be non-white, you have to understand what it is like to be white and then, because I grew up with black kids, I understood what it was to be black, too. Back then, there were no Indian kids and the white kids weren't very kind to me. So I grew up with the black kids and they were always nice to me."  This would also explain why he speaks English - kind of - and is fluent in Jamaican patois. "When I was in Jamaica for my brother's wedding, I was speaking to all the Jamaicans there and they thought I was local," he says with a chuckle.

In the pipeline for Peters is a film with director Jigar Talati. Talati, who made an award-winning documentary on Peters 11 years ago, has been following the comic around to various countries for the last four years. The filming culminated with the ACC shows. The doc will probably be introduced on the festival circuit.   "It is going to be damn interesting and he's a brilliant director," Peters says of Talati. "He's a young guy, he's ambitious and he still lives with his parents in Scarborough; he's Gujarati."  An unnamed source (Russell's brother Clayton) told me before my interview that Peters has a short attention span. But the one topic that seems to hold his attention most is women.   Here's an excerpt from our discussion:  

So did you have a lot of fun then in India?

Had a good time, had a good time.

With the women?

Had a good time, had a good time.

How do you compare the women in India to Toronto?

They're beautiful in India, but that accent will get to you every time. It's not that I don't like it. When you're there you don't notice it because everybody has it. Then you talk to them when you get back on the phone and you go, "Waoooo, what is this? Mom?"

I love women - that's why I'm single. I really do have an affinity for the female anatomy. I don't have time for a relationship. It's time and hassle, two things I don't need in my life. I mean, I need more time and less hassle.

On a date, laughter is a good icebreaker isn't it?

It's a good icebreaker, but it's not a good way to seal the deal.

It's not?

No, you got to turn it off at some point.

Do you know when to?

Generally. I'm never pounding a chick, going, "Hey, did you hear about the two guys . . ."

So what are your favourite pickup lines?

One is "Excuse me ma'am, could you please get your ass out of my hand?"

The other requires a man to go up to a pretty girl and say,  "Excuse me, do you (pause) have a good personality?" And if they act like a bitch, you pretty much got your answer. It catches them off guard and then you can have a conversation with them.

Reggae Musician Ibo Injured In Crash

Source: Jason van Rassel, Calgary Herald

(August 20, 2007) One of the city's best-known reggae musicians was critically hurt and members of his backing band seriously injured in a highway crash near Brooks.
Ibo and his band, Kindread, were on their way from a show in Regina to Calgary, where they were scheduled to play at the Calgary International Reggae Festival on Saturday night. Their van, carrying six people, left the Trans-Canada Highway a few kilometres west of Brooks about 9:15 a.m. Culture Brown, a vocalist touring with Ibo and his band, said he was asleep in the second row of seats when the vehicle left the road. "I woke up to a rolling van and I told myself, 'I don't want to die,' " Brown recalled Sunday. The van landed on its wheels.

Brown -- who was wearing his seatbelt -- was able to quickly jump out because the side door had come off. Ibo, who was driving, was also wearing a seatbelt, but was trapped inside the wreck and critically hurt. Ambulances took Ibo and three bandmates to hospital in Brooks, while Brown and another musician escaped with minor cuts and bruises. STARS air ambulance later flew Ibo and his keyboard player, known by the stage name Lee, to Foothills Hospital in Calgary. The other two injured men are also recovering at Foothills after ambulances drove them into the city. Lee's condition has since been upgraded to stable, but it's still not known whether Ibo will pull through. "They said the first 24 hours are the most crucial," said Tara Andrews, the band's publicist.

Prior to becoming a solo artist, Ibo was a longtime member of the veteran Calgary reggae band Strugglah. He has toured North America and opened for reggae legends like the Wailers and Jimmy Cliff. News of the crash spread quickly Saturday and cast a pall over the normally joyful reggae festival atmosphere. "When we pulled up to the hospital, there was a large group of people who wanted to know the latest about (Ibo's) condition," Andrews said. Ibo's ties to the reggae festival are long and strong: in addition to being one of the event's founding members, he is dating one of the organizers, and his publicist, Andrews, is also involved in staging the event. "We were setting up for the reggae festival and all you had was a bunch of crying people," festival president Leo Cripps said.

"It's family, it's friends." Brown took the stage at the festival Saturday night to deliver the news to the audience, and the remaining musicians performed a tribute to Ibo. "We had a tribute for him and for all he's done for reggae music in Calgary," Cripps said. Ibo was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, and his mother was trying to make arrangements to be at his bedside, officials said. Ibo and his tour companions were supposed to head to B.C. after their show on Saturday, but Brown said his only concern now is for the musicians he spent the summer touring the country with. "Every one of us are family. My family means more to me," he said. The RCMP are probing the cause of the crash. Investigators said charges are pending.

Italian Tenor Pavarotti Has Died At Age 71, His Manager Tells The AP

By Alessandra Rizzo

(Sept. 6, 2007) ROME (AP) -
Luciano Pavarotti, whose vibrant high C's and ebullient showmanship made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar, died Thursday. He was 71.  His manager, Terri Robson, told the AP in an e-mailed statement that Pavarotti died at his home in Modena, Italy, at 5 a.m. local time. Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and underwent further treatment in August.  "The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness," the statement said.  Speaking from inside Pavarotti's home, which was guarded by police, Pavarotti's assistant Edwin Tinoco told Sky TG 24 television that Pavarotti's final days had been calm and spent at home.  For serious fans, the unforced beauty and thrilling urgency of Pavarotti's voice made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory, especially in the 1960s and '70s when he first achieved stardom. For millions more, his charismatic performances of standards like "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" came to represent what opera is all about.

In fact, "Nessun Dorma" was Pavarotti's last performance, sung at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February 2006. His last full-scale concert was at Taipei in December 2005, and his farewell to opera was in Puccini's "Tosca" at New York's Metropolitan in March 2004.  It was the second monumental loss in the opera world in recent months. American soprano Beverly Sills, whose widespread popularity mirrored Pavarotti's, died July 2 at her home in New York. She was 78 and suffered from cancer.  Instantly recognizable from his charcoal black beard and tuxedo-busting girth, Pavarotti radiated an intangible magic that helped him win hearts in a way Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras - his partners in the "Three Tenors" concerts - never quite could.  "I always admired the God-given glory of his voice - that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range," Domingo said in a statement from Los Angeles.  "I also loved his wonderful sense of humour and on several occasions of our concerts with Jose Carreras - the so-called Three Tenors concerts - we had trouble remembering that we were giving a concert before a paying audience, because we had so much fun between ourselves," he said.  In the annals of that rare and coddled breed, the operatic tenor, it may well be said the 20th century began with Enrico Caruso and ended with Pavarotti. Other tenors - Domingo included - may have drawn more praise from critics for their artistic range and insights, but none could equal the combination of natural talent and personal charm that so endeared Pavarotti to audiences.

In his heyday, he was known as the "King of the High C's" for the ease with which he tossed off difficult top notes. In fact it was his ability to hit nine glorious high C's in quick succession that first turned him into an international superstar singing Tonio's aria "Ah! Mes amis," in Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" at the Met in 1972.  In the 1990s, Pavarotti's teaming with Domingo and Carreras became a music business phenomenon and spawned copycats such as the Three Irish Tenors.  Pavarotti starred in a film called "Yes, Giorgio" (though its failure scuttled his hopes for a Hollywood career) and appeared in a filmed version of "Rigoletto." He wrote an autobiography, "I, Luciano Pavarotti," and made more than 90 recordings.  From Beijing to Buenos Aires, people immediately recognized his incandescent smile and lumbering bulk, clutching a white handkerchief as he sang arias and Neapolitan folk songs, pop numbers and Christmas carols for hundreds of thousands in outdoor concerts.  His name seemed to show up as much in gossip columns as serious music reviews, particularly after he split with Adua Veroni, his wife of 35 years and mother of their three daughters, and then took up with his 26-year-old secretary in 1996.

In late 2003, he married Nicoletta Mantovani in a lavish, star-studded ceremony. Pavarotti said their daughter Alice, nearly a year old at the time of the wedding, was the main reason he and Mantovani finally wed after years together.  He came under fire for cancelling performances or pandering to the lowest common denominator in his choice of programs, or for the Three Tenors tours and their millions of dollars in fees.  He was criticized for lip-synching at a concert in Modena, Italy, his hometown. An artist accused him of copying her works from a how-to-draw book and selling the paintings.  The son of a baker who was an amateur singer, Pavarotti was born Oct. 12, 1935, in Modena. He had a meagre upbringing, though he said it was rich with happiness.  As a boy, Pavarotti showed more interest in soccer than his studies, but he also was fond of listening to his father's recordings of tenor greats like Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa, Jussi Bjoerling and Giuseppe Di Stefano, his favourite.  In his teens, Pavarotti joined his father, also a tenor, in the church choir and local opera chorus. He was influenced by the American movie actor-singer Mario Lanza.  Singing was still nothing more than a passion while Pavarotti trained to become a teacher and began working in a school.  But at 20, he travelled with his chorus to an international music competition in Wales. The Modena group won first place, and Pavarotti began to dedicate himself to singing.

With the encouragement of his then fiancée, Adua Veroni, he started lessons, selling insurance to pay for them. He studied with Arrigo Pola and later Ettore Campogalliani.  In 1961, Pavarotti won a local voice competition and with it a debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme."  He followed with a series of successes in small opera houses throughout Europe before his 1963 debut at Covent Garden in London, where he stood in for Di Stefano as Rodolfo.  Having impressed conductor Richard Bonynge, Pavarotti was given a role opposite Bonynge's wife, soprano Joan Sutherland, in a Miami production of "Lucia di Lamermoor." They subsequently signed him for a 14-week tour of Australia.  It was the recognition Pavarotti needed to launch his career.  In the following years, Pavarotti made a series of major debuts, appearing at La Scala in Milan in 1965, San Francisco in 1967 and New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 1968. Other early venues included Vienna, Paris and Chicago.  Throughout his career, Pavarotti struggled with a much-publicized weight problem. His love of food caused him to balloon to a reported high of 396 pounds in 1978.  In the mid-1970s, Pavarotti became a true media star. He appeared in television commercials and began appearing in hugely lucrative mega-concerts outdoors and in stadiums around the world. Soon came joint concerts with pop stars. A concert in New York's Central Park in 1993 drew 500,000 fans.

Pavarotti's recording of "Volare" went platinum in 1988.  In 1990, he appeared with Domingo and Carreras in a concert at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome for the end of soccer's World Cup. The concert was a huge success, and the record known as "The Three Tenors" was a best-seller and was nominated for two Grammy awards. The video sold over 750,000 copies.  The three-tenor extravaganza became a mini-industry. With a follow-up album recorded at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1994, the three have outsold every other performer of classical music. A 1996 tour earned each tenor an estimated US$10 million.  Pavarotti liked to mingle with pop stars in his series of charity concerts, "Pavarotti & Friends," held annually in Modena. He performed with artists as varied as Ricky Martin, James Brown and the Spice Girls.  The performances raised some eyebrows but he always shrugged off the criticism.  Some say the "word pop is a derogatory word to say 'not important' - I do not accept that," Pavarotti said in a 2004 interview with the AP. "If the word classic is the word to say 'boring,' I do not accept. There is good and bad music."  It was not just his annual extravaganza that saw Pavarotti involved in humanitarian work.  During the 1992-95 Bosnia war, he collected humanitarian aid along with U2 lead singer Bono, and after the war he financed and established the Pavarotti Music Center in the southern city of Mostar to offer Bosnia's artists the opportunity to develop their skills.  He performed at benefit concerts to raise money for victims of tragedies such as an earthquake in December 1988 that killed 25,000 people in northern Armenia.  Pavarotti was also dogged by accusations of tax evasion, and in 2000 he agreed to pay nearly roughly $12 million to the Italian state after he had unsuccessfully claimed that the tax haven of Monte Carlo rather than Italy was his official residence.  Pavarotti was preparing to leave New York in July 2006 to resume a farewell tour when doctors discovered a malignant pancreatic mass, his manager Robson said at the time. He underwent surgery in a New York hospital, and all his remaining 2006 concerts were cancelled.  Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of the disease, though doctors said the surgery offered improved hopes for survival.  "I was a fortunate and happy man," Pavarotti told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published about a month after the surgery. "After that, this blow arrived."

"And now I am paying the penalty for this fortune and happiness," he told the newspaper.  Fans were still waiting for a public appearance a year after his surgery. In the summer, Pavarotti taught a group of selected students and worked on a recording of sacred songs, a work expected to be released in early 2008, according to his manager. He mostly divided his time between his home town, Modena, and his villa in the Adriatic seaside resort of Pesaro.  Just this week, the Italian government honoured him with an award for "excellence in Italian culture," and La Scala and Modena's theatre announced a joint Luciano Pavarotti award.  In his final statement, Pavarotti said the awards gave him "the opportunity to continue to celebrate the magic of a life dedicated to the arts and it fills me with pride and joy to have been able to promote my magnificent country abroad."  Faced with speculation that the tenor was near death, Mantovani, his second wife, told Italian newspaper La Stampa in July 2007: "He's fighting like a lion and he has never lost his heart."  Pavarotti had three daughters with his first wife, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana; and one, Alice, with his second wife.  At his side when he died were his wife, Nicoletta; his four daughters; his sister, Gabriela; his nephews and close relatives and friends, Robson said.

Ebert Weighs In On TIFF

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

(September 05, 2007) This is one sequel
Roger Ebert is delighted to give thumbs up to. The venerable Chicago Sun-Times movie critic is returning to the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time since 2005, after an enforced absence due to near-fatal medical problems. He's been obliged to miss festivals in Cannes, Sundance and Telluride this year and Toronto last year because he's still recuperating from serious jaw cancer complications. He's also been absent from the popular Ebert & Roeper TV show he co-hosts with fellow Chicago critic Richard Roeper. But he's determined not to miss Toronto this year because "it's like home to me." Ebert's early support for the fest helped put it and the city on the global map. TIFF 2007 will be the first film festival Ebert has attended outside his home state since his medical drama began some 15 months ago. Last April, he attended his popular Ebertfest film event in Champaign, Ill., joking about taking his private La-Z-Boy to screenings and scoffing at suggestions that his tracheotomy tube would attract paparazzi. He's coming to Toronto this week, accompanied by his wife Chaz, to work as well as watch. He wants Hollywood movers and shakers to know that while he still can't speak, he's going to be asking questions anyway.  "I think a lot of stars have been hoping for an interviewer who can't talk," he joked via email. In an exclusive interview with the Star, Ebert, 65, talked of his love for Toronto, his steady recovery from his illness, his "thumbs" dispute with Disney, the future of movies and his still-vivid memories of Gene Siskel, his late TV sparring partner. He's certainly not short of energy or sharpness: he answered these in an email sent at 1:30 a.m.

Q. Not including your own Ebertfest, this month's Toronto International Film Festival will be the first festival you've travelled to since your medical problems began in June 2006. What made you decide you were ready to hit the road again? What are your plans for TIFF? Will you bring your La-Z-Boy?

A. "I'm much stronger. Can and do walk 3 to 6 miles a day. I'm cancer-free, although still awaiting surgery that hopefully will restore my ability to speak. Because of the trach tube, I was afraid of the altitude at Telluride, but I've been going to Toronto since Year Two and it's like home to me. No La-Z-Boy. Thanks to exercise and walking, I don't need one any more and often attend three screenings a day in Chicago, in a regular movie theatre seat."

Q. In your view, how has TIFF changed over the years, for better and for worse? Would you change anything?

A. "I did change something. After my much-publicized `hissy fit' a few years ago, they reformed the press screening rules so that fans with $900 passes couldn't fill the houses before the working press got there. What would I change? I'd put up a festival headquarters, but (builder) John Daniels and (TIFF co-chair and CEO) Piers Handling have beat me to it."

Q. Do we still need film festivals in the age of DVDs and instant downloads? Do we still need theatres, for that matter?

A. "Yes, yes, yes. Festivals and theatres launch films, make careers, educate audiences, and show films the way they should be seen to look, sound and play their best. By the way, how long does an `instant' download take you?"

Q. Toronto and Cannes are now often spoken of in the same breath as being of comparable stature. This may be wishful thinking by Torontonians. Do you perceive any rivalry between the two fests, and how would you rank the two in importance? Do you prefer one to the other?

A. "Cannes will always be Cannes, just because it always has been. Toronto is now in second place, I think, and more important to the studios because of its September timing. TIFF now opens Oscar season."

Q. In your current contract dispute with Disney/ABC over the future of your weekly Ebert & Roeper TV show, there are two versions of why your trademarked "thumbs up, thumbs down" are currently not being used. Disney/ABC says you hoisted your thumbs; you say it was Disney/ABC's doing. Could you venture an explanation for these differing statements?

A. "Badly conceived spin. Disney didn't realize no one would believe I would withdraw the thumbs just like that. I'd do nothing to hurt the show. The statement I issued is in fact the truth."

Q. You recently posted online the archives of your TV shows over the decades. It gave us all a chance to remember some of the great debates you had with Gene Siskel. Do you miss the old give-and-take with him? And what do you say to people who insist that you guys really hated each other, based on the sharpness of the banter?

A. "Credit where due: Disney posted the archives, at some expense to themselves, although 1,000,000 hits some days may earn it back. I've enjoyed the archives, too. Gene (and) I only hated each other SOMETIMES. We once discussed a sitcom on our relationship, to be called Best Enemies. Actually, we were very close and friendly, except when we were fighting."

Q. Are you optimistic about the future of film criticism? Is there a future for it, in a world where every blogger has his or her own strident opinion?

A. "I'm worried that newspapers are abandoning their local voices and roles and that many editors don't understand movies. I know one editor who fired a critic because he `didn't like the movies that were selling the most tickets.' Asked if his restaurant critic should praise the cuisine at McDonald's, he said, `Absolutely.'

"In trying to tell readers what they already know, newspapers are damaging themselves ... I am very happy to be back in full production on the print side, will be filing from Toronto. I may even get some good interviews. I think a lot of stars have been hoping for an interviewer who can't talk."

Q. And finally, are you optimistic about the future of movies? Will the greatest 20th-century art form last much longer into the 21st century?

A. "Is that a typo? Did you mean 22nd? The art form will endure, in more technical forms than ever. I'm looking forward to testing HiDef and Blu Ray DVDs, but I'm damned if I'll buy a machine until they settle their war. Why does Sony always seem to have the best format, and get bullied?"

::MUSIC NEWS::

Canada Brand Boosts CD Sales In Japan

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Geoffrey York

(August 30, 2007) TOKYO — It's easy to overlook: just a small red maple leaf on the cover of popular CDs in Japanese shops. But it's a rare symbol of hope for Canadian artists whose domestic industry has been devastated by piracy and slumping sales. The maple-leaf logo has been added to Canadian CDs in Japan since 2004 as part of an ambitious campaign to create a distinctive Canadian brand here. And while revenues for Canadian pre-recorded music are collapsing at home, Japan is emerging as a crucial market for many Canadian performers, from top-name singers to smaller independent bands. In Canada, domestic music sales fell by 35 per cent in the first quarter of this year, badly hit by the effects of file-swapping, unauthorized downloading and counterfeiting. Dozens of employees were laid off at two of Canada's biggest music companies in February. The slump is forcing Canadian artists to look to foreign markets - especially Japan, where Canadian sales have been booming. Japan has one of the lowest piracy rates in the industrialized world, and illegal downloading is less common than in North America. The Canadian dominance in Japan has been extraordinary. Canadians have been the biggest-selling international acts in Japan for four of the past six years. Avril Lavigne has held the title for three of those years, while Daniel Powter took the top position last year.

This month, Lavigne became the first foreign artist ever to sell one million copies of each of her first three albums in Japan. She sold more than two million copies of her debut album, more than 1.5 million copies of her second album, and now more than a million of her latest album, including 288,000 imported copies and 716,000 units of a Japanese edition that was released here in April. The first single from her new album, Girlfriend, has been downloaded more than two million times to Japanese cellphones. Lavigne has made a big effort to reach her Japanese audience. In addition to several tours of Japan, she used a manga novel and several anime shorts to promote her latest album, primarily to appeal to Japanese fans. Japanese was among eight languages that she used to sing the chorus of alternative recordings of her Girlfriend hit single. Powter, meanwhile, sold more than 700,000 copies of his debut album in Japan last year, while the Canadian pop-punk band Sum 41 has sold 120,000 units in Japan this year and recently hit the top spot on the international-artists chart here. Smaller independent performers are also selling strongly in Japan, with Quebec singer Corneille selling 22,000 units this year alone and Toronto-based jazz singer Sophie Milman already selling 13,000 copies of her just-released album. The Japanese market is vital for Canadians because Japanese consumers tend to pay full price for CDs, paying the equivalent of $20 to $24 for most CDs in retail outlets. The potential revenue is so promising that the Canadian embassy in Tokyo has funded a trade officer to promote Canadian performers in Japan, setting up concerts and other showcases for Canadian artists and labels.

At least 14 Canadian artists won distribution deals in Japan after the embassy brought a Japanese industry delegation to Canadian Music Week this spring. More than 20 Canadian labels will be travelling to Japan for a trade mission this November. The embassy helped create the maple-leaf logo in 2004 as a branding device for Canadian music in Japan. It's become a way for Japanese labels to promote their Canadian artists. "Canada has a good strong image in Japan, and the Japanese labels are happy to associate themselves with that image," said a Canadian official in Tokyo. A growing number of Canadian artists, keenly aware of the importance of the Japanese market, are travelling to Japan to perform and promote their CDs. Five Canadian artists, including Lavigne and Sum 41, played before 140,000 fans at the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan this month, while Feist was among the Canadians at the Fuji Rock Festival last month. And Milman, Powter and Broken Social Scene all toured in Japan last year. The Canadian soul band
Jacksoul, meanwhile, performed at a top club in Tokyo last month. Japan remains the world's second-biggest music market, with an estimated $5.2-billion in annual sales. Touring in Japan, where huge cities such as Tokyo and Osaka are only a short train ride apart, is relatively easy in comparison to touring across Canada's vast distances. "You can tour the major markets in Japan in a weekend," the Canadian official noted.

A Bountiful Crop Of Fall Festivals

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green

(August 30, 2007) Something happens to Canadians after Labour Day. They put their summer selves away (though the solstice is still nearly three weeks off), air out their fall wardrobes and resolve to get back to work in earnest. No more beach barbecues. No more music festivals. Wait a minute - no more music festivals? Wrong, wrong. Fall is a great time for a music jamboree, as concert producers from one end of the country to the other seem to agree. The harvest season offers quite a few concentrated doses of live music, as well as important free-standing shows by pop and classical musicians alike. Here's a selected list of reasons to be cheerful, even as the days grow short.

BANFF INTERNATIONAL STRING QUARTET COMPETITION

Aug. 28-Sept. 2, Banff Centre, Banff, Alta.  Okay, it's over before Labour Day. But if you've got a few spare dog days to retreat into the mountains and devote yourself to high-intensity listening, the BISQC offers a chance to binge on back-to-back performances of great chamber music by 10 young quartets with a will to win.

ORCHESTRE SYMPHONIQUE DE MONTRÉAL

Sept. 4 and 5, opening concerts at Place des Arts, Montreal  The OSM's charismatic music director Kent Nagano begins his second year on the job with a pair of epic tone poems by Richard Strauss (Also Sprach Zarathustra and Till Eulenspiegel) and a mini-recital of Mozart arias with the luminous Canadian mezzo-soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux.

VIRGIN AND OSHEAGA ROCK FESTIVALS

Virgin Festival: Toronto Island Park, Sept. 8 and 9; Osheaga Festival of Music and Arts: Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, Sept. 8 and 9.  The year's biggest weekend for rock music has two gigantic festivals playing simultaneously at waterfront green spaces in Montreal and Toronto. Some of the talent will be cruising the Trans-Canada from one to the other, including the Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, the Stars and Interpol. Toronto has Bjork and Metric all to itself; Montreal has dibs on Bloc Party, Macy Gray and Damien Rice.  But Osheaga is way out in front in terms of Canadian talent, with indie mavens such as Feist, Patrick Watson, Besnard Lakes, Apostle of Hustle, Martha Wainwright, Most Serene Republic and You Say Party! We Say Die! crowding the stages all weekend.

GUELPH JAZZ FESTIVAL

Sept. 5-9, various locations, Guelph, Ont.  The little gathering west of Toronto has always taken a more adventurous line than the big urban jazz festivals.  This year's edition features performances by Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley and Charlie Haden, as well as by free-ranging filmmaker/pianist Michael Snow and brainy popsters Do Make Say Think.

BEYONCÉ

GM Place, Vancouver, Sept. 7; Rexall Place, Edmonton, Sept. 13; Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon, Sept. 14; MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Sept. 15  The current queen-bee of R&B tours the west with a hard-driving, two-hour show that will not take maybe for an answer.

HARVEST JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL

Sept. 11-16, various locations, Fredericton  Fredericton's fall club crawl includes more than 125 performances in 20 venues, with sets by Montreal dance-music king DJ Champion, Louisiana blues patriarch Dr. John, PEI's transcendent singer-songwriter Jenn Grant, Halifax rockers Matt Mays & El Torpedo, and blues divas Ndidi Onukwulu and Shemekia Copeland.

DEEP ROOTS FESTIVAL

Sept. 14-16, various locations, Wolfville, N.S.  Nova Scotia rocker Joel Plaskett and Louisiana soul-blues maven Mary Gauthier anchor this earthy event, which also features local bands such as A Band of Owls and Rust Bucket.

X-AVANT

Sept. 13-16, The Music Gallery, Toronto  This laboratory for new sounds goes for the wide-angle view, in this four-day celebration of the ragged edge of everything.  Indie pop group the Wooden Stars, cosmic accordion improviser Pauline Oliveros, an evening of live cross-cultural raids by Indian, African and western musicians, and as well as Contact Contemporary Music's acoustic versions of electronic dance music by Aphex Twin.

SMALL WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL

Sept. 20- Oct. 5, various locations, Toronto  The annual festival of sounds from all over features music from the Middle East, Africa, southern Asia, the Americas and Europe. The line-up includes Portuguese fado queen Mariza, Zimbabwean singer Oliver Mtukudzi, the Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan and fiery Italian singer-songwriter Carmen Consoli.

VARIATIONS ON GOULD

Sept. 25-Oct. 4, Glenn Gould Studio  The CBC's OnStage concert series celebrates what would have been Gould's 75th birthday with seven concerts that probe the Gould canon and legend from every angle. There's an African version of the Goldberg Variations, a concert by Louis Lortie of Gould's transcriptions for keyboard, a concert of preludes and fugues by 10 Canadian composers (played by 10 Canadian pianists) and a Marc-André Hamelin performance of music by Viennese composers Gould adored (Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern) and others about whom he had serious doubts (Mozart, Beethoven).

POP MONTREAL

Oct. 3-7, various locations, Montreal  The sixth edition of Montreal's harvest-time club-fest may be the strongest yet. Patti Smith, Caribou, Pere Ubu, Chad VanGaalen and many more light up the town for five hectic nights.

DON CARLOS

Oct. 12- Nov. 3, Canadian Opera Company, Four Seasons Centre, Toronto  The prospects for the COC's production of the rarely-seen five-act French version of Verdi's opera became sadly more dramatic in the wake of COC head Richard Bradshaw's recent death. Even without such fatal complications, the COC's co-production with Welsh National Opera, with Tom Caird (best known for Les Miz) as stage director, polarized critics when the Welsh company performed it in Britain last season. Adrianne Pieczonka stars.

ANGELA HEWITT

Vancouver Recital Society, Oct. 14 and 16 (Chan Centre) and 15 (Kay Meek Theatre)  The Vancouver Recital Society's piano series get off to a flying start with Angela Hewitt's two-evening circuit of the complete Well-Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach (Oct. 14 and 16), and her performance of Bach works for cello and piano with German cellist Daniel Mueller-Schott (Oct. 15).

TRANSIT OF VENUS MANITOBA OPERA

Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, Nov. 24, 27, 30  The Winnipeg-based opera company jumps into Canadian contemporary opera feet first, with a three-act version of Maureen Hunter's acclaimed play about love and astronomy, Transit of Venus. Hunter wrote the libretto and composer Victor Davies provided the music for the company's first-ever full-length commissioned work.

PIANO FORTE!

Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec, Salle Claude-Champagne, University of Montreal  The new-music ensemble throws a party to celebrate its new triple-disc recording and the show turns out to be a monster concert in the classic Victorian sense. Nine keyboardists stage a marathon relay performance of music by 16 composers, spanning the 40 years that the SMCQ has been cutting the edge in Quebec.

METROPOLITAN OPERA ROMÉO ET JULIETTE

One hundred movie screens across Canada, Dec. 15.  Last year's Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to movie houses across North America and beyond turned out to be a smashing success, with a total bijou audience of more than 325,000 for the six-opera series. This year, the Met has increased the offerings to eight, and expanded to 100 screens in Canada. The opening show, Gounod's 1867 tragedy Roméo et Juliette, should be a sizzler, with opera's current It couple, soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazon, in the leading roles.

Britney Hopes For Redemption With New Single

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Tralee Pearce

(September 3, 2007) She's back. After a few false starts and leaks of reportedly fake songs, troubled pop singer
Britney Spears has released a bona fide new single, Gimme More. The song debuted late Thursday on the website of New York radio station, Z100. Since then, it's been available on sites such as MTV Canada's MTV.ca and on a YouTube video. The video for the single has not aired yet and a full-length album is not expected until mid-November, but fans and tabloid lovers alike are racing to download the sultry club tune, which begins with the 25-year-old singer snarling, "It's Britney, bitch." MTV Canada host Aliya-Jasmine Sovani says while the single is certainly getting lots of attention because of Spears's erratic public behaviour, messy divorce and seemingly incessant partying, it may also signal the singer is serious about getting her career back on track. Her most recent album of original music was 2003's In The Zone. "We've all been waiting," Sovani says. "She's so young - many of us at MTV are around the same age. She's had so much time to get her act together." Sovani says Gimme More won't disappoint Spears fans, "It's so good; if you like Britney, you'll like this song. It's not Zeppelin, but it's more mature." MTV is "all over the song," she says. "From the moment it hit the public, it's already gotten tons of hits." Music industry magazine Billboard says Spears's new CD is expected to get its first radio play this week.

Sharon Dastur, a program director at New York's Z100, says listener response has been positive. "A lot of people automatically had a negative attitude about it before hearing it," she said.  "And then the reaction we've been getting, you know, people are so pleasantly surprised by it. You also have the people who have just been cheering on her comeback anyway." The song was produced by Danja, a protégé of Timbaland, who purrs, "Bet you didn't see this one coming" at the end of the track. Sovani says she suspects that line might be part of a meta-publicity plan that includes roundly panned songs leaked earlier on sites such as perezhilton.com. "The real song is so good," she says. "So I think she knew that the public would be surprised at how her song sounds, in comparison to the fake song." Now, observers wonder if Britney can get her life running as smoothly as her new music. The test will lie in her appearance at the MTV video awards in Las Vegas next weekend, where Spears is reportedly set to appear. Sovani is hosting the pre-show on MTV Sunday night. "If I see her on the red carpet I'll bring this up for sure," she says. Sovani, also 25, is optimistic on Spears behalf, saying that the pop culture world has never been more resilient. "Britney was a good girl ... I believe she can redeem herself. And when she does, she'll be more experienced, mature, and sexier than ever."

Craig Harris: Composing A Sound Portrait of Harlem

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Deardra Shuler

(August 30, 2007) *It cannot be disputed that there are many tales to tell within the story of life, stories of people, places, and even things.  Harlem is a place filled with history and thus beckons storytellers to tell its tale.   It is a tale that has been told many times by many writers and even by some who have captured its essence in music.  If nothing else, the spirit of Harlem is passionate. Its breadth denotes a vastness that is beyond space.   There is a demand for greatness from its people honed only via throes of agony and sublime joy.  Harlem is not just a place.  Harlem is an attitude, a transforming spirit determined to survive. The polarity within Harlem’s people marks both successes and failures, rises and falls, yet their penchant for greatness is etched in the faces of a diverse community.   One has to be a Harlemite to understand Harlem’s true significance, its elegance, its grace of movement and form that begs to be captured in art.  Trombonist, composer, and Harlemite,
Craig S. Harris, has walked the neighbourhoods of Harlem for over 30 years. He knows its pulse, timbre, and rhythms and thus sought to record 30 years of Harlem through his sound portrait, TriHarLenium. “Through my piece I have allowed structure but left room to improvise. I sought to capture the beauty, history, and culture of a people who have always been originators.  Harlem is currently undergoing gentrification and transition so I wanted to share its history through my TriHarLenium composition with Harlem’s people,” remarked the famed trombonist.

Harris will bring live music through 5 performances that serve to premiere his masterpiece.  Even though inclement weather threatened to mar the first night of Harris’ performance, audiences still came to support and listen at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors and later gathered to hear his second rendition of the piece during “A Great Day In Harlem” at the 135th Street Stage because they knew the music represented them.  Enthusiastic about the music, communities continued to gather to hear Craig’s extended piece for the third time at Morningside Park where his composition was received with jubilation. Born in Long Island, trombonist and composer, Craig Harris, studied at the State University of New York College of Old Westbury.  He moved to Harlem in 1976 where he worked with innovative jazz composer Sun Ra.  Harris later joined Sun Ra’s band and traveled throughout the world. “I used to visit Harlem a lot before moving here.  I went to Paris in July 1976 and returned in October ‘76.  I walked the street with Sun Ra back then.  I worked in Aaron Davis Hall.  I did a piece entitled “Brown Butterfly,” based on the physiology of Mohammad Ali which included 7 dancers and 7 musicians,” said Craig who became further known via the God’s Trombone project wherein Craig was able to put his own free form style and musical interpretation to the sermons and poems in James Weldon Johnson’s collection. Craig’s work brought him to the attention of Barbara Horowitz, founder of Community Works, who with her partner Voza Rivers, Executive Producer of The New Heritage Theatre Group and in association with Bob O’Meally, Director of Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies,  commissioned Harris, via a grant awarded by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, to spend a year in the Harlem community composing his TriHarLenium piece; a piece that was to reflect the heartbeat soul and rhythm of the Harlem community. A piece created as a musical tribute to Harlem’s people.

“Artists should document their time.  A photographer documents his time visually, I plan to document my time sonically.  That is how TriHarLenium came about,” stated Craig.  “I worked with the magnificent Seku Sundiata.  I worked on a piece, Souls of Black Folks, based on a story by Dubois.  I constantly use the community and my heritage as my music.  It feeds me and gives me projects to work on.  Harlem is changing.” Craig reflected.  “People often say Harlem is coming back, its happening now.  But Harlem has always been happening.  People were in Harlem after the white flight.  They stayed, worked, raised, and educated their children.  They ran their businesses and went through trial and tribulation.  Harlem’s people have always been doing things. Now that Harlem is in vogue, people claim there is a renaissance.  But no, it has always been surviving, even during the time of the crack epidemic.  I am part of this community and thus see my composition as my gift and musical reflection.  This composition evolves out of a people’s culture and originality,” stated the talented performer.  “It allows me to record and set to music their story with a vision of a people’s beauty, rhythm, history, and culture,” commented Harris. “TriHarLenium records the way I see them walk, talk, and pray. I’ve composed a piece I hope will record Harlem’s oral history for all posterity. That is how I tell my story.” On Thursday, August 30th, 2007 at 7:00 p.m., Community Works in association with New Heritage Theatre Group and Columbia University Center for Jazz Studies, will present the 4th performance of Craig’s piece at a special invitation only gala at the Museum of the City of New York where Craig Harris and the Nation of Imagination band will perform TriHarLenium: A Sound Portrait of Harlem 1976–2006. Joining Craig will be award winning trombonist Ed Babb of McCullough Sons of Thunder, legendary R&B singer Chuck Jackson, and Tony Award and Emmy Award winner Lillias White.  A documentary film by award winning filmmaker, writer, producer and Columbia University Professor, Jamal Joseph, chronicling TriHarLenium and the sounds of Harlem today will also be premiered.  The final performance of TriHarLenium will showcase Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 5:30 p.m., at the State Office Building, Apollo Stage, located at 163 West 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell.

Vancouver Strike Wreaks Havoc On Arts Events

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Jennifer Van Evra

(September 3, 2007) VANCOUVER — As hundreds of millions of people worldwide watched on television, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa performed at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in the summer of 1981. Over the course of her illustrious, four-decade-long career, the famed soprano has appeared in the finest opera houses around the world, from Sydney to Paris and from New York to Milan. Last year, the Grammy-winning vocalist sang Happy Birthday to the Queen. So chances are good that, at least recently, the New Zealand-born opera star hasn't had to consider singing in a car dealership. Or an airplane hangar. Or a baseball diamond. But as the Vancouver civic workers' strike drags into its seventh week, Leila Getz - artistic and executive director of the Vancouver Recital Society - says there isn't a large building in the region that she hasn't considered as a possible replacement venue for the group's fundraising concert, which is currently scheduled for the Orpheum, a city-run, 2,800-seat theatre, on Sept. 23. The Te Kanawa concert has been sold-out for more than two months, and is expected to raise more than $40,000 - a sizable portion of the Recital Society's annual budget. But if the strike continues for another week, the show will have to move, and there are no venues in the city that compare in size and quality. Those that are, so to speak, in the ballpark are either too small, too expensive, or already booked. So along with a South Vancouver car dealership - she actually had a local opera singer test out the acoustics among the Caddys and the Hummers - Getz has looked at spaces from university gymnasiums to railway stations.

"I have done anything and beyond everything to try to find a venue," said the frazzled Getz, who is now trying to arrange two performances by Te Kanawa in smaller venues, a much costlier option for her cash-strapped organization. "Honestly, I could write a book about this."  But Getz's group isn't the only one feeling the effects of the acrimonious labour dispute, which has halted garbage pickup across the city, closed libraries and community centres, and shut down City Hall for a month and a half. Many arts groups and music promoters are cancelling shows and scrambling to find alternate venues - and with the fall arts season right around the corner, the financial hits are getting harder. Just more than a week ago, a concert by bluesman Robert Cray was moved from the Orpheum to the Commodore Ballroom, which is a third the size - and represents thousands of dollars in losses for the promoter. This weekend, California rockers Queens of the Stone Age were moved to a faraway suburban arena and two other events - an East Indian dance and music competition and a tap dance festival - were forced into significantly smaller venues. Tonight's Crowded House concert has been relocated to Malkin Bowl, an outdoor venue in Stanley Park with half the capacity. And a fundraiser for the Pembina Institute featuring Art Garfunkel has been called off, and more cancellations are expected as venues such as the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts that were able to take on strike-affected shows in August are much more tightly booked in the fall. The labour dispute is also affecting everything from literary readings at the Vancouver Public Library to city permits for film shoots. And when the city roundly rejected the union's latest counteroffer on Friday, saying the two sides were still too far apart to even bargain, hopes for a resolution by Labour Day were dashed. Festival Vancouver - a two-week, Vancouver-wide music series - was one of the first arts groups hit hard by the strike.  In addition to a weekend-long Asian music showcase that got moved from the Roundhouse Community Centre - another city-run venue that's used by dozens of local arts and music presenters - an opening concert by vocalist Bobby McFerrin and an opera gala featuring Canadian luminaries Measha Brueggergosman and Richard Margison were both moved to significantly smaller venues, which meant significantly smaller ticket sales for the fest.

"It was so heartbreaking to press the stop button when people were buying tickets," said Festival Vancouver's administrative director Morna Edmundson about the opera gala, which was expected to sell out at the 2,800-seat Orpheum, but was moved to the 1,400-seat Chan Centre at UBC.  In addition to the loss in sales for the two major shows, the festival also lost two $10,000 civic grants it had received for using the city venues - not to mention that the moves themselves were no small organizational feat. "It was monumental, because they had assigned seats, so people have to find out where their new seats are going to be, then decide if they like those seats," explained Edmundson, who is still waiting for the final tally of the festival's strike-related loss, but expects it to be between $25,000 and $30,000. "And many people had specific reasons why they bought certain seats, so you're trying to accommodate them while the venue is filling up. Do that times 1,400." While the financial losses won't be as significant for the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, the Granville Island-based theatre fest has also lost one of its main venues to the strike - the False Creek Community Centre - and has replaced it with the Firehall Theatre, which is a 10-minute drive from the rest of the Fringe venues. "The Firehall is a great venue. But when you're in a festival and it's supposed to be a walking kind of festival, people don't want to drive to East Vancouver at 9 o'clock at night to see a show in a neighbourhood they're not sure about," said Kathryn Johnson of Burnaby, who found out just more than a week ago that her company's comedy Superware had been moved, then had to scramble to change all of her advertising and flyers. "We're really disappointed, because we had been hoping that this show would bring in some money, which is really important for the other work we're doing." Back at the Vancouver Recital Society, Getz has just found out that Te Kanawa has graciously agreed to perform a second show - without doubling her rate - but that the singer's accompanist may not be able to make the earlier date. (Incidentally, Vancouver hotel workers have also voted to strike if their union's talks with their employers fail, so the artists' accommodations could also be affected.) Getz hangs on every newscast, hoping for word of a resolution to the strike. Already, her society has spent more than $16,000 on the concert, and is having to face the prospect of spending thousands more on a private venue. The worst-case scenario, says Getz, is that they will be forced to cancel the show. "And if we can't find a way of making up that money, I don't know what we'll do. We can't afford to carry a $40,000 debt," said Getz, whose organization does not receive any government funding and relies on donations and ticket sales from fundraisers such as the Te Kanawa farewell tour. She sighs heavily. "So you know what? I'm not even going to think about that. I'm not ready to retire. And maybe the strike will end."

Special to The Globe and Mail

Motown Remixed Vol. 2: A Mix Of Latin Contemporary & Hip Hop Beats

Source: ThugLifeArmy, Administrator@ThugLifeArmy.com

(September 4, 2007) 2 years ago Motown released its Motown Remixed CD. The project took classic Motown hits and remixed them using some of the best beat makers in the hip-hop and rap music business today. That project introduced many in the hip-hop and rap music arena to the classic sounds of Motown and a much-appreciated time in music history - The Motown era. Now comes the release of Motown Remixed Volume 2. The classic Motown Sound and modern Latin grooves are heard side-by-side at nightclubs and house parties every day in just about every corner of America. Now, for the first time, they truly come together with Motown Remixed Volume 2(Motown/UMe), in stores now. Featuring 11 of Motown's biggest and most popular hits remixed by 10 of the most creative studio forces in contemporary Latin music, Motown Remixed Volume 2 is the latest innovative exploration of the timeless, genre-smashing nature of Motown's greatest artists and songs. The compilations 'Latin Flavor' is accomplished thru a great mix of contemporary Latin styles mixed with Latin House, Reggaeton and hip hop beats. Motown Remixed Volume 2 executive producer Rich Isaacson says: "The Motown Remixed Volume 2 project was an amazing opportunity for some of the most talented producers in Latin Music to pay homage to the legendary Motown artists they each chose to remix. All I had to do was merely mention that each producer had the opportunity to work with these classic recordings and the response was the same for everyone; 'Are you kidding?!' The respect for the Motown sound is profound in the Latin Music community."

Motown Remixed Volume 2 spans styles from the Reggaeton funk of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" (Remixed by Reggaeton super-producer SPK, the mastermind behind the N.O.R.E. (formerly known as Noreaga the American hip hop rapper and member of the hip hop group C-N-N (formerly known as Capone-N-Noreaga), smash "Oye Mi Canto") to the all-night Latin House of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," (remixed by Andres Levin, the GRAMMY®-nominated founder and producer of Yerba Buena, and Costantino "Mixmaster" Padovano, a.k.a. Funky Junction). Dennis Edwards and Seidah Garrett's "Don't Look Any Further" gets a Brazilian makeover from Cliff Cristofaro (DJ U.F.Low), member of the critically acclaimed New York-based collective Si*Se. "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & The All Stars get remixed by DJ Afro who produces the Venezuelan synth pop masters Los Amigos Invisibles. And Smokey Robinson's "Being With You" now features his rarely heard Spanish vocals¸ remixed by Eric Biodi Rivera. Representing Latin cultures from Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the U.S., the collection boasts tracks remixed by esteemed GRAMMY®-nominated producers of Latin rock, tropical, bossa nova, Reggaeton, hip hop, bachata, cumbia, and Latin house. Motown Remixed Volume 2- Esta Caliente!! For a full track listing and a list of the remixers; and links to where you can hear and purchase the project please visit www.ThugLifeArmy.com 

Ledisi Boxes ‘Lost & Found’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.comBy Kenya M. Yarbrough

(September 5, 2007) *Soulful newcomer Ledisi (pronounced LED-duh-see) really isn’t so new. Though her major label debut, “Lost & Found” hit shelves only last week, the singer has put out two previous albums independently.  “I have been doing this professionally for over eight years – the independent route of selling records. My first record, ‘Soul Singer,’ came out in 2000 about when the whole Jill Scott movement started.  And then I did ‘Feeling Orange, But Sometimes Blue’ in 2003. It was my jazzier record. It is in between jazz and R&B. Both of those records sold of 160,000 units with no distribution at all. We just sold it out of our cars.” In indie terms, that’s pretty darn good, but yet and still, Ledisi wasn’t quite convinced that this was the right path for her. After all she didn’t have a record deal.

“I did shop around to big labels, but they didn’t understand what I was doing before I put the record out. And then when Jill Scott came out, they compared it to that,” she said. Scott broke out the cool soul at that time and label execs started to open their ears to Ledisi. “We’re nothing alike, really,” she said of the comparisons to Scott. “On record, it might be close, but if you see me live, you’d see there is a big difference. Jill is extraordinary. I love her. But it’s like putting Carmen and Billie and Sarah and Ella all in one pot. We’re all different and we all have our own style.”      Still, Ledisi admits that without Scott, she may not have had her way into the record business “I’m grateful for all the women [before me], but Billie (Holiday) is the real queen. You can hear her in everybody,” she said of her influences.  A bit discouraged, in 2004, Ledisi moved to New York to occupy her time with Broadway, calling the independent artist gig “hard.” She was an understudy for one production and then did the workshops for “The Color Purple.” She was offered a role in that production, but reluctantly declined thinking she’d give her music career another shot.

Just as soon as she made that decision, Chaka Khan called and asked her to open for her. “I did all these different things with my band and just stayed afloat. Then the Luther Vandross tribute record came about. I did a song called ‘My Sensitivity’ which got me back on the map. Next thing you know, I get signed.” Before signing on the dotted line, Ledisi faced another dilemma. She wasn’t sure, after her many years as an independent artist, if signing with major label Verve was such a good idea. But she had a plan to make a major impact on music and went ahead with the deal. “I finished up ‘Lost & Found,’” she said of the new disc that she had already started working on before the deal. “Things are going really nicely.” In anticipation of the new album, Ledisi scored tracks on the Ella Fitzgerald and Earth, Wind and Fire tribute records. “All the tribute records, someone else was supposed to do the song,” she said, “but I ended up doing them. So I ended up doing what I was supposed to be doing.”

One listen to Ledisi’s debut and anyone would agree that this is certainly what she’s supposed to be doing. With two very acclaimed indie discs under her belt, fans of the singer will not be disappointed. But even with the major debut, Ledisi explained that she’s not spoiled by the expected success.  “I’m very excited about it all, but the best thing about the experience of coming from the ground up is you appreciate the little stuff. I’m appreciative of being in the mix.” That sentiment is what also makes up “Lost & Found.”  “I can talk about the lost side of things – spiritually, musically, and personally – deciding what I’m doing and wishing someone would come and love me in every area of my life. That’s what the lost side is. How do I get in alignment? The found part is getting in alignment and knowing I belong in the business and someone has come along and made me feel special. It’s from ‘Amazing Grace’ – I once was lost, but now I’m found. It has a lot to do with having faith and being in alignment.” She told EUR’s Lee Bailey that the disc covers the good and bad of life and has a faith undertone, but described that the tracks are predominately about love and passion. “I’m a passionate person,” she said. “My career has been passionate. I’ve loved it with all its faults. With all the ups and downs of it, it’s so worth it.” For more on Ledisi, check out her website at www.ledisi.com and to hear some of her hot tracks including first single “Alright,” go to www.myspace.com/ledisi.

Klaxons Wins Britain's Prestigious Mercury Prize

Source: Associated Press

(September 5, 2007) LONDON — Dance punk group the Klaxons beat out British pop powerhouse Arctic Monkeys and troubled diva Amy Winehouse to win Britain's Mercury Prize on Tuesday for their debut album, Myths of the Near Future. The Klaxons were awarded the prestigious $40,000 (U.S.) Nationwide Mercury Prize by a panel of judges who called their sound an “ecstatic musical adventure.” Band member Jaime Reynolds, who was nursing a broken leg and ankle after diving off a stage in France, was overcome with emotion after the win. “I've just been sitting here having the worst two hours of my entire life,” Reynolds said. “It just means so much to us.” Judges of the prize, which has honoured the best album of the year by a British or Irish band since 1992, have a reputation for overlooking populist choices in favour of obscure artists. The honour is awarded on the basis of innovation, rather than commercial sales. This year's shortlist was a typically eclectic mix, including nominees ranging from classical quintet Basquiat Strings to post-punk band the Young Knives.

Retro-soul singer Winehouse, whose success has been overshadowed by concerns over her well-being, was also in the running, and ended a run of cancellations by appearing at the ceremony. The star drew a round of applause as she stepped to the stage to perform her new track, Love is a Losing Game. Previous winners include the Arctic Monkeys, London rapper Dizzee Rascal, Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand and Antony and the Johnsons, fronted by British-born but U.S.-raised Antony Hegarsty.

MUSIC TIDBITS



Canadian Press

August 31, 2007)  SASKATOON – An economic impact assessment has concluded that the
Juno Awards brought $9.4 million to Saskatchewan when the show was held in Saskatoon earlier this year. The report by the Paradigm Consulting Group indicates most of the windfall came from visitors who came to Saskatoon specifically for the event and from the spending of event organizers who staged the Juno Awards and the many supporting events around the city and province. "The positive economic impact for Saskatoon is undeniable," said Melanie Berry, president of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. "Not only does the host city and province benefit but Canadian music and its artists also get a boost from a well-run event. We see a noticeable sales spike by the Juno Awards performers following the Juno Awards broadcast." Todd Brandt, co-chairman of the host committee, said he was pleased with the report. "In addition Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan, accrue the significant benefit provided by millions of dollars in print and electronic media coverage, as well as the exposure and social benefit to our artists, volunteers and in building community pride." The Junos are to be held in Calgary next year.

Nas Concert Cancelled In Canada

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 31, 2007) *Rapper
Nas was scheduled to perform at an Oct. 1st Rock the Vote concert at the Ottawa Congress Centre in Canada, but two weeks after he was confirmed, organizers were told that he is not welcome inside the venue.    According to CBC News, the event was being hosted by student groups at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa to encourage concertgoers to vote in an Oct. 10 election in Ontario.  Isaac Cockburn, vice-president of student issues for the Carleton University Students' Association, said organizers were given three different explanations from three different officials at the center as to why Nas was banned.  Peter Seguin, vice president of food and beverage, said the venue has a policy that bans any hip hop act from performing. When Cockburn’s group complained to the center’s president and Tourism Minister, Jim Bradley, that the policy was culturally insensitive, Cockburn was told by the venue’s vice-president of client services, Paul Keogh, that Nas was not banned under its blanket hip-hop policy, but rather for his lyrics promoting gun violence. It was this reason that some families of Virginia Tech shooting victims complained about Nas’ presence in an upcoming benefit concert, which organizers announced will go ahead as scheduled on Sept. 6 with Nas still on the bill. A third reason given for banning Nas from the Ottawa venue came courtesy of its spokeswoman, Lynne Martichenko, who said the problem did not lie with Nas or rap music, but rather the layout of the venue itself.  According to her, the center is designed for meetings, trade shows and conventions. But the type of event organized by the students is not suitable for the Congress Centre room, which has new carpets and chandeliers, Martichenko told the CBC.  Rock the Vote organizers are currently looking for another place to hold the concert since it would be hard to find another act to perform, said Cockburn.

Motownphilly Back Again…Literally

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(September 5, 2007) *
Boyz II Men sing a collection of classic Motown tunes for a new studio album produced by "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson. The quartet, known for such hits as “Motownphilly” and “End of the Road,” signed a deal with Decca to release "Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA," which includes the group’s take on such fare as Marvin Gaye's "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing" and "Mercy Mercy Me," the Temptations' "Just My Imagination," Michael Jackson's "Got To Be There" and Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears." Due in stores Nov. 13, the album will also include a cappella versions of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky" and their own "End of the Road," reports Billboard.com. "Hitsville" is the follow-up to 2006's "The Remedy," which was released exclusively in Japan and only via the band's Web site in the United States. Boyz II Men hasn't recorded for a major label since 2002's Arista set "Full Circle."

::FILM NEWS::

Haggis Cheered For Heavy-Hitter On Iraq

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Tralee Pearce

(September 3, 2007) If the Venetian audiences are any kind of bellwether, things are looking good for Canadian director
Paul Haggis and the debut of his new film at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Canadian director was treated to a 10-minute standing ovation on Saturday night when his In the Valley of Elah screened at the Venice Film Festival. In the Valley of Elah, which stars Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron, focuses on the psychological scars that haunt returning soldiers and provides a powerful commentary on how society is treating veterans and their families. The Iraq war is turning out to be a hot theme in films this fall. Hollywood director Brian de Palma's film Redacted, which will also screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, which begins on Thursday, also got a standing ovation in Venice. Both films are considered contenders for the festival's coveted Golden Lion. "My film is not essentially about war in Iraq," said Haggis, 54, before the film screened at Venice. "It is more of a social study of so-called 'post-combat' stress." It was, he said, not so much a political protest at U.S. President George Bush's war strategy. "I wanted to portray an America that is in urgent need of help" - above all, the soldiers, he said.

Haggis' movie and De Palma's film, which focuses on the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi schoolgirl by U.S. soldiers and the subsequent murder of three members of her family, have plenty in common. Both are based on real war incidents, and both involved extensive use of the Internet to research atrocities. Both directors say they highlight the "dirty side of war," the fates of civilian victims and attacks on women and children which they say U.S. media consciously left untold. While De Palma said he wants the film to help stop the war, Haggis said he tried to keep his own well-known anti-war politics off the screen. "I felt I owed it to the audience to put that aside, to tell the story ... and let them decide," Haggis told reporters Saturday ahead of his movie's premiere. Haggis said he also was driven by an absence from the Iraqi war of the sort of images that shocked the public into opposing the Vietnam war. "I think that when that doesn't happen, it's the responsibility of the artist to ask those questions," said Haggis, who won an Oscar for 2004's Crash. In the film, Jones plays Hank Deerfield, the father of a U.S. soldier who disappears just days after returning from a tour in Iraq.  A former soldier himself, Deerfiled drives across the country on a quest to find out what happened to his son and learns hard truths about his son's Iraq tour, while challenging some of his own long-held ideals. Theron plays a New Mexico police detective drawn into the investigation.

With files from AFP and earthtimes.org

Hollywood's Next Heavy Hitters

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle MacDonald

(September 1, 2007) TORONTO — When director Brian De Palma took the stage at the 64th Venice Film Festival Friday after the screening of his controversial film Redacted, he wept quietly as the audience of 2,000 gave the New Yorker a 10-minute standing ovation. Behind him – equally weepy – were two relatively unknown Canadians, Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss, whose company, the Film Farm, produced the movie that was the toast of Venice. “The screening was quite something,” said Ms. Weiss, who prior to flying to Italy had been nervous about how the audience would react to Mr. De Palma's grim, fictionalized retelling of the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers who also murdered her family. “The audience had a very emotional response to the images, and many were in tears,” said Ms. Weiss, still shaken, from Venice. “Brian's eyes welled up during the ovation. He's now gone to his room to digest it all.” The picture is coming to the Toronto International Film Festival as a special presentation, and Ms. Urdl and Ms. Weiss are curious to see how a North American audience reacts to Mr. De Palma's film. It's been a remarkable 12 months for Ms. Urdl and Ms. Weiss, who next Friday will also be named by Variety magazine among the top 10 film producers in the world to watch.  They teamed up 10 years ago to launch the Film Farm and have quietly been a producing force behind Canadian filmmakers such as Atom Egoyan ( Ararat), Don McKellar ( Childstar), Guy Maddin ( The Saddest Music in the World) and Peter Wellington ( Luck). But the pair's profile was bumped a notch a year ago with the debut of Sarah Polley's acclaimed feature film Away From Her (produced by Film Farm) that was a TIFF gala in 2006, featured at festivals in Sundance and Berlin, and one of Canada's top grossing features of the year.

Mr. De Palma's film – coupled with the fact that Ms. Urdl and Ms. Weiss will produce Mr. Egoyan's feature film Adoration, which begins shooting Sept. 17 in Toronto – means Film Farm is now a global entertainment player to reckon with. Prior to heading to Venice, Ms. Urdl and Ms. Weiss gave an interview at a Toronto restaurant where they readily conceded that the pace of late has been something of a whirlwind. “If someone, five years ago, said we would have produced a Sarah Polley, Atom Egoyan and Brian De Palma film – in the space of 12 months – we would have said you're crazy,” laughed Ms. Urdl, who began her film career in 1991 as Mr. Egoyan's assistant at his Ego Film Arts (where Film Farm bases its production office). “But the fact that we're here I guess is not that surprising,” added Ms. Weiss, who also worked as an in-house producer at Rhombus Media, overseeing the Prelude Series for TIFF's 25th anniversary. “It's not like we suddenly came out of nowhere. We've worked really hard for it.” Their relationship with 66-year-old Mr. De Palma started when Ms. Urdl and Ms. Weiss – producers of TIFF's film lab for its first three years (to 2006) – invited the director of Scarface and Casualties of War to come to Toronto to mentor aspiring filmmakers. Mr. De Palma returned last year and caught a screening of Away From Her. Over dinner one night at the local eatery Bellini, he told the women he'd been offered $5-million by the U.S. domestic network HDNet to make a high-definition movie. “He thought of us because we'd just produced [ Away From Her] for $5-million and he was impressed,” said Ms. Urdl, 40. “We said, ‘Why don't you do something political?' And he said, ‘Funny you mention that because that would be the only thing I really want to do because the media plays too heavily into politics.' He had a story about Iraq he wanted to tell through this medium.” By the end of October, the project got the green light. In February, they were in Jordan, where Redacted was shot with a mostly unknown cast. “When Brian arrived, Jen and I met him at the airport,” Ms. Urdl recalled. “He looked at us and said, ‘Look at where we find ourselves. That shows you what a late-night dinner in Toronto can do.' ” Redacted – which means to edit or revise – deals with Mr. De Palma's strong conviction that the mainstream news media mislead the public by withholding the most graphic images of the war.  His film, which uses brutal footage readily available on the Internet, is inspired by one of the most serious crimes committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq – the gang rape, killing and burning of Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in March of 2006. Five soldiers were charged with the attack. Four have received jail sentences of between five and 110 years.

“I always feel very melancholy and emotional when I see it myself. It's just a difficult film about the savagery of war and the effect it has on the lives of innocent people,” Ms. Weiss said of the film. She added that Mr. De Palma was overjoyed when the picture was invited to Venice and Toronto, but added that he was particularly thrilled when it got into the New York festival, which kicks off Sept. 28. “When we called him, we put him on a speaker phone. And he was shouting, ‘Yes! Yes!' You don't get that kind of reaction out of him often. But it's the first time, in his 40-year career he's ever had a film in the New York festival. And being a New Yorker that has a specific meaning.” Both women said yesterday that they had plenty of sleepless nights prior to landing in Venice. They were anxious about how the film would go over and also nervous about being on the Palazzo del Casino stage with the legendary director. “We're definitely used to being the ones kind of behind,” Ms. Urdl said. But the international audience and critics' reaction was more than they had hoped for. And as soon as they could escape the media glare, they settled onto the terrace of the Lido's historic Excelsior Hotel for a much-needed glass of wine with Jordan's Prince Ali and Princess Rym (a former CNN journalist and daughter of the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan. “We're all feeling pretty emotional right now,” Ms. Weiss said. “Europeans are obviously very enthusiastic about the film. It will be interesting to see what the American press does with it [at TIFF].” Redacted is one of 22 films vying for the coveted Golden Lion award in Venice, along with films from Ang Lee, Wes Anderson and Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning Canadian director of Crash, who also has an Iraq-themed drama, In the Valley of Elah.

Billy Dee Williams: The General Hospital: Night Shift Interview With Kam Williams

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 30, 2007)
*William December Williams, Jr. was born on April 6, 1937 in Harlem where he was raised by his parents, William, Sr., a janitor, and Loretta, an elevator operator.  Billy Dee, who exhibited considerable promise both as an artist and as an actor early in life, attended Manhattan's prestigious Music and Art High School. The strikingly-handsome thespian's big break came in 1971 in the acclaimed television movie "Brian's Song" where he played Gayle Sayers opposite James Caan. He immediately followed up that impressive performance with another as Billie Holiday's husband in "Lady Sings the Blues" which co-starred Diana Ross. The two would appear together again years later in "Mahogany." Arguably, Billy Dee's most memorable role has been as Lando Calrissian in George Lucas' epic movies "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." His other feature film credits include "Batman," "Undercover Brother," "The Ladies Man," "Moving Target," as well as the upcoming "Fanboys." Plus, he's already attached to "Barry Munday" starring Luke Wilson. The Emmy-nominated legend's extensive television work includes guest appearances on "Lost," "Scrubs," "Clubhouse," "Half & Half," "That '70s Show," "The Hughleys," "A Different World," "227," "Mission Impossible" as well as daytime series "Another World" and "The Guiding Light." Plus, he's enjoyed recurring roles on "Dynasty" and "Gideon's Crossing."

Currently, he's returned to TV as Toussaint Dubois, a hospital worker with a haunted past, on SOAPnet's first serialized drama for primetime "General Hospital: Night Shift" which airs Thursdays at 11PM (ET/PT). The steamy series ventures beyond what you see on the daytime program to explore the lives and loves of "General Hospital's" favourite characters during the hospital's night shift. On the show, his character shares sage insights with various members of the hospital staff as they encounter assorted pitfalls and problems, essentially suggesting that they dream big dreams, even if life has passed him by.

Kam Williams: Hey, Billy, finally we get together after just missing each other a couple of times. We were first scheduled to talk the same day you were on The View with Barbara Walters and company. How'd you like doing that show?

Billy Dee Williams: That wasn't my first time on it, but I always enjoy it with those crazy ladies.

KW: And how are you enjoying General Hospital: Night Shift?

BDW: Oh, I'm having a good time with that. It's a whole different experience and format. It's a lot faster than anything I've ever done, but it's great practice. And the characters are involved in some very interesting situations.

KW: Do you get fewer takes on a soap opera, fewer opportunities to re-do a scene?

BDW: Yeah, whenever I'm ready to do another take, they're already off to the next set which always amuses me. That's why I say, "It's great practice." After you've done a soap opera, you can do anything. You've got to get all this dialogue down, and then you have to give life to the dialogue. Plus, you get to practice your improvisational skills. I love it, and I love the people I'm working with. So, I'm having a good time.

KW: What was it like to suddenly be a heartthrob when your career took off in the Seventies?

BDW: I think being a celebrity is at the essence of that, because I'd been doing romantic stuff even on stage in New York City in the 1960s.

KW: Wasn't your mom originally from the Caribbean?

BDW: Yes, my mother's side of the family, they're from Montserrat in the Leeward Islands.

KW: I know you went to Music and Art High School. What did you do after you graduated?

BDW: Next, I went to the National Academy of Design for the Fine Arts where I spent two years painting on a scholarship

KW: So, when did you develop your passion for acting?

BDW: Acting, I started when I was six and a half years-old, on Broadway with Kurt Weill.

KW: Wow, the composer of The Threepenny Opera including the classic tune Mack the Knife.

BDW: Yeah, I was on stage with his wife, Lotte Lenya.

KW: And although she won a Tony for The Threepenny Opera, was nominated for an Oscar, and left behind an impressive body of work, she is probably fated to best remembered as the villainess in From Russia with Love who tried to kick James Bond in the crotch with a poisoned tip knife protruding from her shoe. I see that besides General Hospital, you're very busy making movies, including Fanboys, a comedy about some Star Wars fanatics.

BDW: Oh, yeah, yeah. I haven't seen that. Is that already out?

KW: No, but it's in post-production.

BDW: I'm only doing a cameo in that. The only reason I'm in that movie is because of my association with Star Wars.

KW: And then you have This Bitter Earth, which you're shooting with Nichelle Nichols?

BDW: I was just in Arizona working on that yesterday. I did a cameo in that, too.

For full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE.

Bean On Top In Canada

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle MacDonald

(August 29, 2007) Canada's funny bone clearly fancies the bumbling, bug-eyed British oaf better known as Mr. Bean, whose latest film drew an impressive $1.87-million at the box office on its opening weekend in this country, capturing almost 20 per cent of the domestic market. But Mr. Bean's Holiday – which stars the Oxford-educated Rowan Atkinson – clearly does not export as easily to the United States, where it debuted at No. 4 last weekend, earning about $8-million (U.S.), roughly 5 per cent of the U.S. box office. Public appreciation for all things Bean in Canada is likely due largely to the fact that the British comic and his farcical Mr. Bean TV show have been a staple for years on the CBC; his is a familiar, goofy face. That, coupled with the fact that Canadians have always chuckled easily at such British shows as Monty Python's Flying Circus, as well as the ongoing soap opera Coronation Street (on CBC), may make us more pliant customers for Atkinson's bourgeois, slapstick humour, says Mark Breslin, president of the comedy-nightclub chain, Yuk Yuks. Breslin notes that distributor Universal Studios appeared to know, going in, that the current Bean comedy would not speak to Americans the same way it does to international audiences.  “I noticed it was playing on half the screens of most big releases,” said Breslin, noting Mr. Bean's Holiday appeared on 1,700 screens. “They must have anticipated it wouldn't be a huge success, which sometimes can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We've also always had a stronger connection to British comedy than they do in the States. That's our history. America typically only looks to America, whereas we've historically turned to both Britain and the United States.”

Brandon Gray, president of the website boxofficemojo.com, noted that the first Mr. Bean movie, which was in theatres 10 years ago, was released in Canada three weeks before it appeared on screens in the United States. “In 1997, Mr. Bean was in 245 theatres and did $7-million in Canada, before opening wide in America. Even then, the studios clearly knew who their primary customers were.” The original Mr. Bean went on to gross $45.3-million in the United States and Canada. Globally, it earned $250-million. The New York Times recently noted that British comedies routinely fight an uphill battle to woo American cinemagoers.  The paper reported that, no matter how financially successful or well-reviewed a British comedy may be in the United States, such films almost never make more than 25 per cent of their total worldwide gross there. It cited such examples as the 1994 sleeper hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, which earned $52.7-million in the United States and $245-million globally; the 2001 adaptation of the novel Bridget Jones's Diary made $71-million in the United States and $281-million worldwide. The New York Times cited the lone exception to this rule: the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill – which starred Julia Roberts. In Canada, Universal Pictures said it is “thrilled” that Mr. Bean's Holiday did so well in Canada.  “Clearly,” said a spokesman, “this country loves Mr. Bean.”

They Decide Who Gets In

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Simon Houpt

(August 31, 2007) India in June can be insufferable: the heat, the traffic, the akimbo intensity of the place. And after spending nine days in Mumbai this year, Cameron Bailey was looking forward to getting home. As a programmer with the Toronto International Film Festival, Bailey had already been on the road for about eight weeks, in conditions that were sometimes luxurious but often brutal, making an annual pilgrimage from Canada to the Philippines, Dubai, South Africa, Cannes and Sri Lanka. Earlier in the year, he'd been to film festivals in Utah, Berlin and Burkina Faso. Now in India, he'd been taking the temperature of the domestic film industry through 14-to-16-hour workdays: screening movie after movie, exchanging gossip, gently rebuffing the importunings of Bollywood executives to be invited to TIFF. He'd already picked up a handful of Indian features on the trip. Charged with programming only about 25 films out of the total annual TIFF haul of 275 features, Bailey had pretty much finished his job. Still, he didn't want to leave without seeing what he'd heard was an unusual piece by an unknown filmmaker. Set in the northern region of Ladakh during a harsh wintertime, and shot in high-contrast black-and-white, Frozen even had the bonus of featuring a hockey game on a Himalayan lake. So on his final day in the country, Bailey perched himself in the living room of local TIFF scout Uma Da Cuhna, ceiling fans whirring pointlessly overhead, and watched Frozen on a small TV set while its 35-year-old first-time director, Shivajee Chandrabhushan, anxiously searched the programmer's face for clues. At the end, Bailey turned to Chandrabhushan, a professional photographer who had cobbled together his project's tiny budget from family and friends, and broke the news: He'd like to introduce Frozen to the world.

“I drink only wine,” Chandrabhushan recalled a couple of days ago, from his home in Mumbai, a Lonely Planet travel guide to Canada on the table in front of him. “But Uma offered me a glass of beer and I said, ‘Yeah, I'll take it.' I was so knotted up.” A few weeks later, Chandrabhushan received an official TIFF invitation from the festival's co-directors Piers Handling and Noah Cowan. He was mildly shocked: Neither of the men had seen Frozen. They'd simply accepted Bailey's recommendation – a major point of difference from many other premium-tier festivals such as Cannes and Berlin, where directors personally approve the films. “We're radicals in terms of the decentralization of our programming,” says Cowan, seated at a boardroom table in the cramped TIFF headquarters in Toronto a couple of weeks before the festival, which opens on Thursday night. Bailey and Diana Sanchez, another international programmer, are here too. “The joke I like to make is that I'm the least powerful major film-festival director in the world.” Cowan is directly responsible for only about 40 or 50 films, most of which are galas or special presentations chosen by a loose committee that includes Handling and the festival's managing director, Michèle Maheux. More than 80 per cent of TIFF's films, though, fall into other programming categories that include Discovery, Contemporary World Cinema, Vanguard, Canada First, the documentary series Real to Reel, and Midnight Madness. “The principle we have is: Two or three people couldn't successfully program 275 features, that's just not interesting, curatorially,” says Cowan, who became TIFF's co-director in 2004. “What is interesting is finding 10 to 15 people who are experts in a given area of cinema, whether it's geographic or generic – like documentaries, or midnight films – and let them go wild. Have them take responsibility for their selections, give them the total authority to operate in their areas.” Every September, more than 1,100 representatives of the world's press descend on Toronto to cover the stars on the red carpet: Brad, George, Cate, Reese, Amitabh (Bachchan, the enormously popular Bollywood actor making his English-language feature debut with this year's The Last Lear). But there's an argument to be made that the real stars of the festival are the men and women you never see: TIFF's programmers – almost two dozen men and women who sit in judgment of thousands of films every year. They rub shoulders with globetrotting stars while working for laughably low wages, and rarely feeling the warmth of klieg lights. Together, they form an unseen spider's web of intricate relationships with filmmakers across the globe that pays untold dividends to TIFF, Toronto, and the larger film culture of Canada.

TIFF boasts 19 primary programmers as well as another nine scouts – so-called associates – who help out across the globe. Nine of the programmers are responsible for harvesting international films, which often means months on the road. Bailey, who has been with the festival on and off since 1990, spent about 31/2 months away from his Toronto home for this year's fest. Sanchez, who was born in Toronto and now lives in Barcelona most of the year, has programmed 18 features this year from her three months on the road in such places as South America, Portugal, Berlin, Cannes, Switzerland, Rotterdam and Miami. A few others live abroad, including Giovanna Fulvi, who handles Asian programming; New York-based documentary programmer Thom Powers; and Dimitri Eipides, who lives in Athens. “We work as kind of bumblebees, cross-pollinating culture from place to place. It's important, I think, that some of us live outside of Canada,” says Bailey. “When they choose films and bring them to Toronto, they're doing it from a different sensibility. They're not hanging out on College Street every night. “It's important for me, personally, to remember what it's like to be travelling over some beat-up roads in Lagos, trying to get from my hotel to a screening room, and what I see as I'm travelling. When I bring the film back to Toronto, that's still in my head, and when I talk to people, it's affected by my having been there.” Which may help explain why many programmers are self-confessed misfits, unmarried or serial monogamists with a nomadic streak, who enjoy spending weeks moving from one city to the next on an almost daily basis. (At 43, Bailey is getting married next month for the first time.) True, their travel expenses are covered, but they're not taking home much in the way of salary: Almost all TIFF programmers have at least one other job. Many also teach or write or broadcast about film. Some are filmmakers themselves. And as programmers, they are jacks of all trades, serving as film-development executives (offering unvarnished feedback on scripts), consultant editors (they often screen films in edit suites as a nervous director watches over their shoulder), brass-tacks negotiators (they try to secure a North American, if not a world, premiere) and mentors (pairing up filmmakers with other festivals if they feel a project won't work in Toronto). “Once a filmmaker trusts us, that's the kind of thing they can rely on,” says Bailey. “We don't have a financial interest in what happens to their movies. We care about their work. And we have a broader view than the average filmmaker.”

Often, as the festival approaches, filmmakers need someone to calm their brittle nerves. Just this week, Bailey had to jump into action after waking up to an e-mail from an actor – someone very important for the promotion of two films – who had suddenly decided she didn't want to make the trip. After he sent off a sympathetic, beseeching e-mail explaining how much TIFF wanted her to attend, she relented. Three years ago, after this newspaper jokingly gave the honour of “worst title” to the Spanish-language film Ferpect Crime, director Alex de la Iglesia refused to come out of his Toronto hotel room, apparently believing the paper had given the film itself a bad review. When Sanchez heard the news, she didn't even stop to brush her teeth. She rushed over to his hotel room and cooed soothing bromides until he found the intestinal fortitude to face the public. “We're glorified babysitters,” Sanchez said this week, laughing. But the connections they forge are invaluable, both for themselves and TIFF. Sanchez first developed a relationship with Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal when he came to Toronto six years ago with Y Tu Mama Tambien. He's since returned a number of times, and will be at TIFF this year again – he's already in the area, shooting the Canadian film Blindness – to support three films to which he's connected: his directorial debut Deficit; Cochochi (on which he's executive producer); and the new Hector Babenco-directed El Pasado. “I called him up, just gave him the dates, he was like: ‘Okay, I'll be there,'” says Sanchez. “It's that simple. He loves this festival.” Part of the reason for TIFF's strong reputation around the world is that audiences in Toronto are made up of regular people. Still, “that creates an interesting dynamic when you're making programming decisions,” says Cowan, “because your question isn't: ‘Is this going to be well reviewed?' It's: ‘Am I going to have 300 really angry people cornering me after the movie, asking why was that piece of shit in the festival?'” To be sure, most of the time, Toronto audiences gush, especially if they get to meet the filmmakers after the credits roll. “I think the impact we have here with the public is so much greater than at other festivals. At Cannes, you have these accredited guests,” says Sanchez, who also consults for the Rotterdam and Miami film festivals, and one Japanese fest.

“The Toronto film festival is one of the very few international cultural activities that attracts people from all over the world. I think that's interesting for Canada,” she continues. “Audiences get to have this cultural exchange with people from around the world.” So do the programmers – and you never know where that will lead. Early this past May, Cameron Bailey made his annual trek to South Africa, a country that is normally so important for TIFF in the area of world cinema that it is written into his contract that he must visit every year. During his eight days in the country, he stopped by a film school run by a friend of his in Johannesburg to listen to some of the students' pitches for their projects. “These kids I was talking to were all from hard, tough neighbourhoods in Jo'Burg, Soweto. These are kids who just don't have the opportunity to have an international outlook,” he explains. “To have somebody visit from all the way in Toronto is first of all a big deal, and then for them to see a black man who has what they consider to be an important job, and travels this far, and who has a lot to say about films and has a lot of experience in films, that also is really meaningful.” Whenever Bailey listens to the pitches, he says, he's brought down to earth. “They have some incredible stories. One guy had a gun put in his hand, and he was given an opportunity to take revenge by putting a bullet in somebody who'd done his family wrong. You know, it sounds like something out of a Hollywood gangster movie, but this stuff happens to people. I don't have that kind of experience in my life. I'm in awe of just what they go through on a day-to-day basis, and I'm trying to help them try to turn their real lives into fiction in a way that's kind of transformative.” Bailey likes to tell the students about another South African filmmaker, Khalo Matabane. His dramatic-feature debut, Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, won acclaim at TIFF in 2005. Now, says Bailey, whenever he hears from Matabane, it seems he's off somewhere exotic screening his films: Australia, Switzerland, Chile. “I'm trying to give them the sense that if they can refine their storytelling and do something that's honest and true, that there is a whole world out there that begins with a film festival and can take them a lot further.”

The Fest Years Of Our Lives

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Warren Clements

(August 31, 2007) Every year (cf. The Year of Living Dangerously), like clockwork (cf. A Clockwork Orange), I brace myself (cf. Me, Myself and I) for another running of the Toronto International Film Festival. This year I'm armed with a daytime pass (up to 25 films) and a 10-coupon book. I used to aim for 50, but at that level the movies blur together. They released the large, glossy program book on Tuesday, with glowing write-ups for each film. Look for code words. "A talent to watch": Wait for his next one. "Finely etched ... meticulously observed moments": Bring a pillow. "Provocative hints of allegory": Bring a history major. I'll start with wacky musicals (if any) and the Dialogues: Talking With Pictures series, which this year offers Max von Sydow in person introducing The Virgin Spring and Peter Bogdanovich introducing the rare silent John Ford film Bucking Broadway.  The Gala series lets you gape at movie stars and see films that will open in theatres soon anyway; I prefer the Special Presentation series, which sometimes gives you movie stars (who have more time to talk than at the Galas) and offers films that may not open quite as soon. But don't assume you can catch it later. Last year's wonderful fairytale-comedy Penelope, with Christina Ricci and Catherine O'Hara, has had its release date bumped several times and now appears unlikely to reach theatres until 2008, if then. The schedule tells you when the films are being shown, usually twice each. Invariably all the ones you really want to see are being screened at exactly the same time. Either that, or one film ends at 6:28 p.m. and the other starts at 6:30, in a venue several blocks away. I try to leave half an hour between the end of one and the start of another, because anything can go wrong; shows start late, something malfunctions, special guests extend a question-and-answer session you don't want to leave. I rarely abandon a film before the end, but that's a function of my caution when picking movies. "Bold and convincing": Hmm, not convinced.

With ticket in hand, you're guaranteed a seat as long as you arrive at the theatre at least 15 minutes before the show.  Most of the time I fly solo, because I can find a seat to slip into at the last minute. With two or more, you feel obliged to turn up at least half an hour before the movie begins and join the long line snaking out from the theatre, where, if you're lucky, you can discuss films with the buffs on either side or, if you're unlucky, you can hear someone endlessly discussing a snub he received yesterday at the supermarket.  Festival volunteers, bless their hardy souls, will let you know whether the film before yours has been delayed, in which case you may be standing in line for a long time. This is usually a cue for the rain to start. If you haven't worked food stops into your schedule, take something good from home to eat while you're standing in line. A couple of places in the Manulife Centre have decent sandwiches. The Elgin won't let you munch food at your seat; the Cumberland has a stand at the front of the line where you can buy muffins and the like. Human nature and the tyranny of the clock being what they are, chances are you'll wind up scarfing down junk food. I do. Hey, a ritual's a ritual.

The Easy Rider Rides Again

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Stephen Cole

(September 4, 2007) Peter Fonda's character is gut-shot in the new western 3:10 to Yuma. After the bullet is removed, he moseys on without complaint, leading a posse that hopes to fit bad guy Russell Crowe with a noose. During filming, sceptical crewmembers wondered if anyone could survive such a stomach wound. Fonda resolved the matter with an off-camera speech: “Anybody here took lead?” the 67-year-old Easy Rider asked aloud. “Unless it hits bone, it just stings. You're in shock – you bleed to death if you don't get help, but it doesn't hurt. I know 'cause I shot myself in the stomach on my 11th birthday.” Fonda laughs telling the story, speaking over the phone from his Los Angeles apartment. He survived the gunshot, obviously. The middleman in America's great theatrical family – Henry's son, Jane's younger brother, Bridget's father – Peter Fonda has been in and out of trouble much of his life. His mother Frances Ford Seymour, a descendant of Henry VIII's third wife, slit her throat in a mental institution a year before Peter's birthday-party accident. Then there came the usual Poor Little Hollywood Rich Kid woes:

Christian Scientist father Henry Fonda was a famous, remote actor dad who never found a script to deal with kids. Teenage Peter went through boarding schools and doctors. One physician prescribed LSD to cure his manic depression. Later, Fonda fell off a motorcycle and broke his neck. Police arrested him in a separate incident (the Sunset Boulevard riot Buffalo Springfield sang about in For What It's Worth).  Eventually, Hollywood studios did not want to work with him. There is a surprise twist in this L.A. story, however. Peter Fonda changed Hollywood more than it ever changed him.  His 1969 counterculture hit Easy Rider transformed movies. It was the first film drama with a rock 'n' roll soundtrack, and its unexpected success gave a whole generation of young directors – Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg et al. – a chance to turn the 1970s into one of Hollywood's great decades. If Fonda never produced another Easy Rider, he has kept profitably busy and mostly out of trouble. The actor's last brush with the law came in the 1980s when he was arrested for defacing a sign that said, “Feed Jane Fonda to the whales,” at a Denver airport. His résumé, meanwhile, has never looked better; 3:10 to Yuma, which opens on Friday, is his third good film in the last decade, after The Limey and his Oscar-nominated turn in Ulee's Gold.

Fonda's outlaw charm and escape artistry was perhaps best captured in The Limey, playing a role written for him. “I once took Bridget out to dinner with her friends,” he recalls. “Her best friend's husband, Lem Dobbs, leaned across the table and said, ‘I'm writing a screen part for you.' Months later, The Limey lands on my desk. I loved it, but my character was this sleazeball record producer. I phoned Lem and said, ‘Man, is this how you see me?' He said, ‘W-e-l-l, he's like you in a way. You've gone through all kinds of bad stuff but always come out smiling and smelling like a rose.'” Fonda cackles telling the story. He's in a good mood today. “I love talking about westerns. I love the West,” he says. Of that, there can be no doubt. In the 1970s, after Easy Rider, he directed two westerns ( The Hired Hand and Wanda Nevada), bought a Montana ranch and married Becky McGuane, frontier hero Davy Crockett's great-great-great-great-granddaughter. Even his character in Easy Rider, Wyatt, is a tip of the cowboy hat to one of his father's most famous roles, Wyatt Earp in John Ford's classic 1946 western My Darling Clementine. “Great thing about westerns is you can talk more easily about the present by disguising it as the past,” Fonda says. “Take 3:10 to Yuma. I mean, you've got this posse trying to bring a bad man to justice and all these crazy guys quoting scriptures shooting at each other. We knew we were making a film about what the religious right is trying to do [in America]. You couldn't do that in a film set today. But set it in the past, make it a western, you can say whatever the hell you want.” Although the success of Easy Rider rendered Fonda a 1960s counterculture icon, he never considered himself a subversive. “We didn't want to change Hollywood. We wanted to make movies,” he says. “It was hard. Man, Hollywood hated us. But then making movies is never easy.”

James Mangold, the director of 3:10 to Yuma, had been trying to get the western going for a decade, he mentions. Fonda concedes that Mangold originally didn't see him in the role of polecat-mean bounty hunter Byron McElroy in 3:10 to Yuma. “He saw me as this laconic actor, too laid-back,” Fonda says, laughing. “You know, Easy Rider.” Indeed, over the phone, Fonda sounds very much like an affable Age of Aquarian. And he comes most alive when telling stories about the old days, such as the time he unwittingly wrote a Beatles song with John Lennon and George Harrison – a tale, it turns out, that relates to his 11th-birthday shooting accident. “We were at my place in Benedict Canyon,” Fonda remembers. “And someone had given John and George a dose, which is unacceptable.” A dose? “Acid, LSD,” Fonda continues. “George was wrecked. He kept saying, ‘I'm dying.' I said, ‘I know what it's like to be dead.' Then I told him the story about how I shot myself when I was a little boy. John was looking at me, horrified, and he said, ‘No, no, you're wrong.' Then I heard the song She Said She Said on Revolver. It was all there.” Peter Fonda understands that he will always be identified with the Day-Glo tombstone to the 1960s that is Easy Rider, a film that ends with Fonda and co-star Dennis Hopper shot off their motorcycles. Still, he's quick to tell you that an Easy Rider is a mythical figure. “I got the idea for Easy Rider in a Toronto hotel room on Oct. 27, 1967,” he remembers, “but it wasn't my title. I was in France later that year when I bumped into [writer] Terry Southern. I told him my motorcycle story. He flipped and started working on the story. He came up with the title. You know what an easy rider is? It's an old southern expression. An easy rider was a man who lived off a prostitute, who got an easy ride.” Fonda begins laughing again. “There are no easy riders in acting,” he says.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Richie Mehta - A Bright Beginning

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com -

"No matter what make sure Amal is EXACTLY the way you want it.  Every frame. If it fails, then no one will bother you again."
- RICHIE MEHTA'S NOTE TO SELF, ON HIS WALL

(August 30, 2007
) Unless Richie Mehta starts talking about his work, it's difficult to peg him as one of Canada's emerging talents. It is hard to imagine the slightly built and soft-spoken Mehta in a director's chair. In fact, the one that sits in his room - a gift from a friend - is stacked with folded laundry.   The 28-year-old Mississauga native makes his debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September with the movie Amal, which tells the story of a humble auto-rickshaw driver in New Delhi.  "Unless you're Canadian, you cannot make a film like Amal," says Mehta.   "If I am born and raised here, and if this is my perspective, then it's Canadian . . . This is how we are viewing things as Canadians in India."  Mehta was awarded $10,000 when he won Telefilm Canada's Pitch This! in 2005 for Amal's story. It makes its' debut as part of the TIFF's Canada First! Titles, which showcase young Canadians unveiling their first feature films. After the short film - penned as a short story by Mehta's older brother, Shaun - won several awards, both the Mehtas' collaborated to lengthen the original script. The brothers would divide the scenes between themselves and then huddle in their rooms, Shaun in the basement and Mehta, upstairs in his room while they hashed out dialogues and visuals.

"He (Shaun) trusted me completely. For him it was like, 'You are going to make a film, have fun.' He wrote it because he loves writing," he says.  Mehta remembers watching some of his favourite movies, like the Indiana Jones series a lot, while playing with his Lego toys as a child. He believes his father, who brought movies home every day, silently encouraged his interest in cinema.  "I was already dissecting scenes and music in my head at the age of four," he says. "I wanted to know why this music is making me feel this way."  Mehta is unabashedly a homegrown talent. A giant painted Star Wars and Indiana Jones collage hangs over Mehta's bed from his time as an art student at the University of Toronto (Mississauga campus), where he also edited the student paper. For film training, he turned to Sheridan College in 2002, adding a range of relevant skills to his portfolio before venturing full time into direction.   About five years ago, Mehta says he noticed the emergence of a South Asian collective. He met several artists during South Asian events like the annual Filmi and Masala! Mehndi! Masti!   "They started coming out of the woodwork," he says. "I met them and now they are my core team." Mehta travelled to India with this group to shoot Amal. It was shot mostly in Mehrauli, Connaught Place and some of the big hotels in New Delhi.   "Everything in India is so rich visually," he says. You'll see these rich mansions and right next to it will be the dirt gullies (ditches created by running water). You'll see the poverty, and the rich and middle class in one view. It's an amazing visual place to shoot a movie."

Surya Bhattacharya is a reporter for Toronto Star Living. Email desilife@thestar.ca

Arfo-Punk Director Returns To TIFF With White Lies Black Sheep

Source:  Kirk Cooper

(Sept. 6, 2007) Afro-punk director
James Spooner returns to the 32nd Annual Toronto International Film Festival with his second film White Lies Black Sheep, selected for the coveted Vanguard Programme.   Recognized worldwide for his landmark documentary Afro-punk, White Lies Black Sheep follows the trend of the topical yet sometimes controversial conflict of identity. While James’ first documentary may have given identity to young blacks who have chosen music over family and community, his second feature film probes further and questions the theory of assimilation.    Whites Lies Black Sheep explores issues of race, racism and finding ones place in the world. The story is told through AJ a.k.a Ajamu Talib (Ayindé Howell), an African-American club promoter. Brooklyn-born- and-bred AJ strongly dislikes his name and wants to forget the experiences of his childhood. Outcast by his peers, he finds escape through music in the New York Rock ‘n Roll scene.

Outfitted in tight clothes and straightened hair, he hits the streets promoting party events in the white, rock community - his chosen community. He spends nights and days booking acts and building the right vibe. He is popular and girls love him. His friends and colleagues are mainly white but if someone asks AJ why, he shrugs it off as coincidence.  AJ’s best friend Josh (Jeremy Bobb) is his complete opposite. Josh loves and embraces black culture, which is a constant reminder to AJ of his past. Every so often he tries to get AJ to indulge in his blackness by offering to lend him books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X.    Then a series of events forces AJ to recognize his failed attempts to assimilate. He begins to see how many of his friends view him as exotic and denying his own blackness becomes disconcerting even to himself. Leaving him rather disturbed in the middle. Black, yet not "really" black –what’s a young black rocker to do?  James Spooner is a native New Yorker who is a self taught writer and director. His award-winning feature documentary Afro-Punk has screened at over 50 worldwide festivals including its world premiere at TIFF in 2003.

White Lies Black Sheep is considered his sophomore feature film. It begins where Afro-Punk left off.  “Both part truth and part fiction, White Lies Black Sheep leaves you wondering which is which.”It's all the truth", says Spooner. “I needed to explore new ways of telling our story".    The film introduces audiences to the pulsating sounds of New York’s rock music scene. There are bands such as Moldy Peaches, Antibalas and Cutlery, who wrote the score for the film. “Much like Taxi Driver, Downtown 81, or Kids, White Lies Black Sheep is one of those films where music, realistic locations and the city itself are as important as the story it tells,” says Spooner.  

For media inquiries or to set up interviews with James Spooner or Ayinde Howell during TIFF, please contact:

Publicist: Kirk Cooper
Cell: 416-566.0195
Email: wlbs@rogers.com

Press and Industry Screening:
Saturday Sept 08 @ 4:00pm Varsity 7
Monday Sept 10 @ 2:30pm Varsity VIP 3

Aisha Tyler: The Balls of Fury/Death Sentence Interview with Kam Williams

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – by Kam Williams

(September 5, 2007) *Born in San Francisco on September 18, 1970, Aisha Tyler was raised from the age of ten by her father, Jim, a photographer, following his divorce from her mother, Robin Gregory, a school teacher.  Exhibiting an interest in comedy at an early age, Aisha studied acting at School of the Arts High School and also took improv classes on the side. The brainy, statuesque beauty attended Dartmouth College where she majored in political science while minoring in environmental policy.  Soon after graduating, she married her college sweetheart, Jeff Tietjens, before moving back to the Bay Area. In 1996, the couple settled in Los Angeles so Aisha could take a shot at showbiz, starting with her making the rounds of the comedy circuit while waiting for her big break. That moment arrived half a decade later when the witty, wide-eyed wonder wowed audiences as the host of both E Television’s Talk Soup and the syndicated reality series the Fifth Wheel. She then caught a lot of attention on the big screen playing Mother Nature in The Santa Clause 2 in 2002, the same year she first made Maxim Magazine’s Hot 100 List. By 2003, Aisha had parlayed that success as an actress into the role of Charlie Weaver, the only regular black ever on NBC-TV’s Friends. Since the series ended, the multi-talented Tyler has been busier than ever, doing everything from doing another Santa Clause sequel to making guest appearances on Nip/Tuck, Boston Legal, CSI: Miami and 24 to filling in for film critic Roger Ebert to writing Swerve, a how-to book for girls, to becoming a columnist for Jane and Glamour Magazines to playing on the World Poker Tour to posing for a nude layout in Allure Magazine (HERE) to shooting a pilot for her very own sitcom.

Aisha’s services are so in demand, in fact, she just had two movies released on the same weekend, The Balls of Fury and Death Sentence.  The former is a martial arts spoof where she plays the henchwoman of a maniacal madman.  And the latter is a revenge flick reminiscent of Death Wish where she portrays a detective investigating a case of vigilante justice.  Here, she takes some time out from her hectic schedule to talk about both of her new offerings.

KAM WILLIAMS: Thanks for the time. How’s it going, Aisha?

AISHA TYLER: Good, good, thank you.

KW: Did you work with real cops in preparation to play Detective Wallis in Death Sentence?

AT: I did, actually. We shot the movie in Columbia, South Carolina, and I got to spend some time with the police department there. I did some ride-alongs with the head of detectives, and also spent some time with the homicide detectives.

KW: Did you see anything interesting?

AT: There was a huge bank robbery with gunfire exchange, and they broke the suspects in a matter of about 45 minutes with their CIA interrogation techniques. That was incredible. But the thing that you learn when you spend time with police officers is that they’re just regular people. They’ve got families and a lot of the same emotional responses that we do, but they see terrible things every day. So, I really wanted this character to be conflicted, because she really feels for what Nicky [Kevin Bacon’s character] was going through, since he’d lost a family member incredibly violently. Yet, at the same time, she’s sworn to uphold the law, and that push and pull between what she feels is right and what she knows is right is the same conflict that I think the audience is feeling when they’re watching the movie. They understand his impulse, but it’s clearly wrong, and it’s going very badly. So, I really wanted her to be a real person. There’s all this violence kind of swirling around her, and she’s sort of the moral core of the story.

KW: This film is based on a novel by Brian Garfield, who was also the author of Death Wish. How is this picture different?

AT: Even though this movie is by the same guy who wrote Death Wish and asks “What would you do to protect people you love?” it’s really more sophisticated and a polemic against violence, not a traditional revenge movie. This is a movie about the notion that an eye for an eye” leaves the whole world blind. Yes it’s a hyper-violent, thrill ride, but it also contains some rather interesting concepts at the center, which is that violence is not the answer. So, although it feels like this crazy revenge movie, it’s really like a thinking-man’s Death Wish, because there are real consequences for this character, and the choices that he makes lead to some really dire results.

For full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE.

Cronenberg Still Has His Chops

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

(September 05, 2007) Been there, sawed that. That's
David Cronenberg's reaction to the "horror porn" filmmakers who have followed in his bloody wake, guys like Eli Roth (Hostel) and Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III) who sever spurting limbs like they invented the idea. The young and the foolish may think Cronenberg is copying the Saw franchise in a scene in Eastern Promises, his new thriller premiering Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival. It's the wince-inducing moment where fingers are snipped off a corpse in a Russian mob ritual. Cronenberg first diced digits in a movie 31 years ago, in a little Canadian film about rampaging bloodsuckers. "Hey, I did a finger chop-off in Rabid, I just thought of that," the Toronto director said in an interview, smiling at the memory. "I just thought, `This is not even my first finger chop-off!' And the guy's dead; it's not hurting him." That last comment is revealing. It's not like Cronenberg to worry about inflicting pain, either on his characters or his viewers. Since he established his career in the 1970s and 1980s as the "Baron of Blood" – a handle he used to embrace but now chuckles at – he's never been one to peek through his fingers at carnage.

Cronenberg has always believed in showing the world as it is, and also making real the worst demons that spring from the mind of man. But his most recent films Spider, A History of Violence and now Eastern Promises have been less concerned with the visceral and more with the mental. He's now more into emotional pain. "I don't think of myself as a goremeister," said Cronenberg, 64, holding forth in a Toronto hotel lounge at the start of interviews for TIFF and beyond. "There are other things that to me are more of a continuum underneath what I do than just this superficial thing. I've always thought of myself as not afraid of that and also felt that if you're going to do it, don't do it with reticence. What's the point?  "When I see what's out there (torture porn), it's not new. It's not new stuff to me. I alluded to it in Videodrome, which was like, 30 years ago. What is new is the Internet, where we've been outgored by Muslim extremists. There's the accessibility, anytime of day or night, that you can have this, and there have been attempts to legitimize it." Eastern Promises, starring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel, has elements of Cronenberg old and new. The fascination with body rituals and markings remain – tattoos are a big part of the story – but the plot turns on revealed secrets. It's almost a companion piece to A History of Violence, even though the setting this time is a Russian crime family in London, rather than American gangsters in Indiana.

Watts plays a London hospital midwife who assists in the birth of a baby girl born to a young immigrant Russian prostitute. The mother dies in birth, but leaves a diary that prompts Watts to play detective, uncovering dangerous truths. She stumbles into the inner workings of a Russian crime family ruled by Armin Mueller-Stahl's character, who is not the humble restaurateur he pretends to be. Cronenberg loved the duality of the story, an original one penned for the screen by Oscar-nominated Steve Knight (Dirty Pretty Things).  Mortensen's return in a lead role contributes to the feeling of connection between Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. He and Cronenberg hit it off so well in their previous collaboration, they had no hesitation in working together again. In his usual holistic fashion, Mortensen prepared for his role as a Russian mob operative by learning the language and obtaining the requisite tattoos. The actor also consented to appearing completely nude, in a scene sure to be amongst the most-discussed at the festival. It's where his character Nicholai interrupts a steam-room session by dropping his towel and swinging both a blade and his family jewels when advancing thugs give him no other option. "At a certain point, I said, `Okay, how are we going to do this? We're going to start with you, Viggo, with a towel, and then what?'" said Cronenberg. "And then he just said, `Well, I'll do it naked.' And that was it. And I said, `Good!' Because imagine how restricted I would be if I couldn't shoot him from the waist down." This nakedness and other explicit aspects of Eastern Promises means Cronenberg gets an "R" rating stateside, possibly limiting commercial prospects. "I'm not worried. I think, just as with History of Violence, it would of course bother me to discover that people weren't seeing the movie because of violence, who in fact would love it if they actually saw it. So that's always a risk. But at the same time, you might get an audience coming because of that too, so it's a trade-off."

FILM TIDBITS

Forest Whitaker To Do The ‘Mambo’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 31, 2007) 
*Forest Whitaker has landed a role opposite Jude Law and Brazilian actress Alice Braga in the futuristic thriller "Repossession Mambo."  Based on the novel by Eric Garcia, the film is set in the near future when artificial organs can be bought on credit with one catch – if the buyer defaults on payment, it will result in a fatal repossession.  Law’s character – himself “made up of artificial organs’ – is a repo man who reclaims organs when their recipients cannot make the payments.  When he struggles to pay off his new heart, he becomes one of the people he used to hunt down and must go on the run with Braga's character, who is also down on her luck. The Universal Pictures project is slated to begin Oct. 15 in Toronto. Whitaker will next be seen in “The Air I Breathe,” “Vantage Point” and “Ripple Effect.” He's currently working on “The Great Debaters” and “Night Watch.”

Nicole Ari Parker Headed To ‘Nowhereland’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 31, 2007)  *Actress
Nicole Ari Parker has booked a big-screen role as the separated wife of Eddie Murphy in the upcoming comedy, “Nowhereland.” Murphy plays the role of Evan, a man whose fascination with their 6-year-old daughter's imaginary world helps him solve his work problems. Parker’s character cannot understand his fixation.    Comedic actor DeRay Davis also joins the cast as Evan's longtime friend, a therapist who believes that all Evan needs to overcome his troubles is a good cry. Veteran actor Ronny Cox will play the no-nonsense capital fund group boss who suspects Evan of insider trading but looks the other way as long as the money keeps rolling in. Thomas Haden Church ("Spider-Man 3") also stars as Murphy's ruthless co-worker. Parker next stars opposite Martin Lawrence in "The Better Man," due in theatres in February. Davis stars opposite Will Ferrell and Andre Benjamin in the upcoming New Line Cinema comedy "Semi-Pro."

::TV NEWS::

The New View? No Big Whoop

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Vinay Menon

(September 05, 2007) Hey, what happened to all the fighting? A new season of
The View started yesterday with a new set, a new co-host and, most notably, a new serenity. After the hot wars of last season, initiated by the sniping of firebrand Rosie O'Donnell, a period of détente has clearly arrived. But are normalized relations a good thing for the show? Whoopi Goldberg, hired to replace O'Donnell, was the first to emerge from the rabbit hole yesterday, looking like a rhinestone cowgirl in her black shirt with swoops of white stitching. Soon, the others – Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters – followed, grinning, waving insincerely, basking in the rapturous applause. The show started with the equivalent of What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Behar was stricken with a bug. Hasselbeck continues to be pregnant with her second child. Walters, meanwhile, worked on her autobiography. "It's going to be either so good or so awful," promised the show's chronically irritating matriarch  (I'm putting my money on so awful.) It was time for some coffee talk.  The foursome bandied around topics like a beach ball at an outdoor concert: Do you read your partner's email? Do you keep a journal? Why did the recently deceased Leona Helmsley leave money to her dog?

The lack of privacy in our digital age was also lamented. "There's nothing that you can do now that is not on YouTube or MyFace," said Walters. MyFace? Did MySpace and Facebook start a new joint service? Overall, the banter was peaceful and uneventful, a conspicuous break from the turbulent Rosie Episodes. Mind you, those trolling for controversy could have seized upon a few of Goldberg's remarks.  She mentioned Michael Vick, the disgraced NFL player who was recently convicted on charges related to dog fighting.  "This is not an unusual thing from where he comes from," said Goldberg, referring to the "Deep South." Seriously? You're saying the torture and killing of animals is a by-product of a regional subculture? Wow. Hollywood loves its root causes and moral equivalence. And remember how Rosie got into trouble for mocking Chinese accents last season?  Well, yesterday, Goldberg had this to say while continuing on about people and animals:  "It's like the Chinese. They have a different relationship to cats.... You and I would be really pissed if somebody ate kitty!"

To which Behar asked, "Are you saying, Whoopi, that a BLT in some countries is a bacon, Lassie and tomato?" I nearly dropped my coffee. The show's guest was Danny DeVito, whose (apparently) sloshed appearance in 2006 created quite a stir. DeVito did confess to drinking a few Limoncellos with pal George Clooney the night before that visit. But he blamed his behaviour on sleep deprivation. DeVito then turned yesterday's interview into one giant plug. He plugged his soon-to-be-launched premium line of, yes, Limoncello. He plugged his work on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He even plugged his restaurant in Florida. As the gals sat stone-faced, clearly uncomfortable, The View morphed into a shameless infomercial, one that would have made Star Jones blush.  It was, in a word, pathetic. And this is when I began to miss Rosie. Because as DeVito barked madly, nobody derailed his self-serving soliloquy. Nobody managed to change the subject. Nobody could get through to him. In short: nobody took control. If the 11th season premiere of The View is a reliable guide, the co-hosts are keen to begin a new chapter, one that shall be marked by calm exchanges, tiptoe politeness and mutual respect.  This may be beneficial to their emotional health. But it could be disastrous for ratings.

TV TIDBITS

Mochrie To Host Of Canadian Quiz Show 5th Grader

Source: Canadian Press

(August 29, 2007) Toronto — Colin Mochrie will get to mock adults this fall as host of Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader. Global Television announced today that the actor-comedian will host the Canadian version of the American quiz show, which sees adults going up against students in a battle of the brains. Mochrie says in a release that he's “been from one end of this country to the other and met adults of all ages” and assures the fifth graders that they “have nothing to worry about.” Mochrie — known for his improv skills on the sketch comedy series Whose Line Is It Anyway? — plans to donate a portion of his earnings from the gig to the CanWest charity Raise-a-Reader. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader offers adults the chance to win up to $1-million (U.S.). Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is the host of the show south of the border. The five Canadian episodes will be taped in Toronto and broadcast nationally this fall.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Theatre Class Is In Session

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic

(
September 03, 2007) Is Disney's High School Musical just one more flavour-of-the-month that the fickle youth audience will embrace today only to toss aside tomorrow?  Or is it the long-awaited crossover show that will help to create a whole new generation of live theatregoers? Toronto will get the answer on Wednesday, when Mirvish Productions presents a three-week run of High School Musical – the most surprising and lucrative event to hit the youth market in many years– at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Like most North American adults, including the executives at Disney, I never thought that the simple boy-meets-girl tuner that launched on the Disney Channel (the Family Channel in Canada) in January 2006 was going to be more than a one-of-a-kind event. But the story of a basketball jock and a math/science whiz who fall in love during the annual high school musical reached out and grabbed the tweens instantly. It got record audiences, the CD shot to the top of the charts and the DVD broke sales records as well. Obviously it couldn't end there. And it didn't. Before long, plans were announced for a concert tour including most of the original cast, while a stage version was quietly being prepared.

Cynics would say that's what Disney had planned all along. But here's what Steve Fickinger, vice-president for licensing at Disney Theatricals, told me last month in Chicago, just hours before the opening. "We honestly had never originally thought of High School Musical as a live theatre piece. If you look at all of our other stage shows from Beauty and the Beast through The Little Mermaid, we've always dealt with bringing a cartoon reality to life through theatrical magic. "But High School Musical was a live show to begin with and it had a pop score, not a musical theatre one. It was really the furthest thing from our minds." But within days of the TV show's debut, hundreds of requests were pouring into Disney from both professional theatrical companies and amateur dramatic societies across the country, asking if they could do High School Musical live onstage. "We were blown away," says Fickinger, "but we still felt that we had to be true to the show's roots and it seemed to us like a project that kids themselves ought to be doing." So Disney did prepare a stage version of the show, complete with a karaoke-style orchestral accompaniment that schools could rent for amateur productions.  The result? "In the first eight months, we licensed it to 1,500 schools," Fickinger says. But the pressure continued to do it professionally. "We decided to let six professional theatres do it, each one with a different size and style. The only common ground was that they had to involve young people and the community." Each theatre went about it in a different way. Atlanta's Theatre of the Stars worked in a marching band and a giant chorus of local kids, while the Minneapolis Children's Theatre cast many of the roles from within its youth constituency.

Broadway veteran Jeff Calhoun was tapped to direct the flagship Atlanta production and he's been with the project ever since. (He's even doing the ice version, which will arrive here Dec. 21 at the Rogers Centre.) "I had never even heard of the show," laughed Calhoun in the lobby of his Chicago hotel last month. "How's that for oblivious? Well, I don't have any kids, so I guess it flew under my radar, but when they asked me to do it I called up my niece and she said, `Holy cow! You've got to work on that.' And so I did." Calhoun proved a wise choice, since his work combines the right showbiz sass (the 1994 Broadway revival of Grease) along with the necessary empathy (the 2003 Deaf West Theatre version of Big River).  On the opening night in Atlanta in January, Calhoun and the Disney execs heard the capacity audience of 4,678 go crazy for the stage version of the show. "I've never heard anything like it in a theatre anywhere," grins Calhoun.  From that moment, it wasn't rocket science to guess that an official Disney tour of High School Musical was destined to come to life, which it did this summer. It's already played Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago. After Toronto, it hits at least 16 other cities, with dates booked well into 2008. And the man who once didn't know what it was is now High School Musical's biggest fan. "The kids come into the theatre pumped," says Calhoun, "but for me, the exciting thing is to watch the moms and dads start bopping their heads to the music." For Fickinger, it's about more than just making the cash register ring. "It is the privilege of everybody who works in theatre," he insists, "to cultivate the next generation. Maybe they'll go on to see Spring Awakening, but first we've got to get them into the habit. "I look at everyone who comes into the theatre as a win for the future."

High School Musical opens at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W. on Sept. 5 and runs through Sept. 23. For tickets, go to mirvish.com or call 416-872-1212.

::OTHER NEWS::

Our Single Lives - We’re Doing Fine On Our Own

By Rebecca Caldwell

Last Thanksgiving, one of my uncles asked me if I was gay. Actually, he said he hoped I knew that "we lived in a day and age where it was okay if a niece wanted to come out to her uncle." But what I heard was, "Is it because you are secretly a lesbian that you are 33 and still single?" Up to that point, I thought I was very comfortable with "Status: TBD." I'm lucky enough to earn an income as a journalist, and in between my book club, poker games, workouts, guitar lessons, occasional dates and general hanging out with friends, I don't really have time for loneliness. Still, I was stunned at how my uncle's comment threw me. I had never realized that being on your own required an explanation. I'm not the only one who feels some ambivalence about having single status. "People don't say 'I've never found a partner' with pride," says Marian Botsford Fraser, author of the 2001 essay collection Solitaire: The Intimate Lives of Single Women. "There is gay pride, and people take pride in their ethnic backgrounds, but there aren't any marches celebrating the state of being single."

If anything, women continue to avoid singledom. Statistics Canada reports that just under 4 million fall into the category of "single, never married," and many of them are women you wouldn't expect to be married: Half are in the 15-to-24 age range. The numbers are consciousness-raising for singletons like me. Today, roughly the same percentage of us are getting married or living common-law as in 1971, back when TV's heroine was Mary Richards, who was "gonna make it after all" even if she was a thirtysomething, single career gal. In this century, although women are more educated than ever before (34 percent of women aged 25 to 29 had university degrees in 2001, compared with 21 percent in 1991), feminism is spinning its wheels and our icons can be found on TV shows like Desperate Housewives.  At least women are not forsaking careers for marriage: In 2004, we made up 47 percent of the total workforce – a 10-percent rise since 1976. Employment is having a significant payoff for single women: Not only will we have better pensions as seniors – making that image of the cat-food-eating spinster one for the history books – but we've also turned into a mighty consumer force. According to a study by Royal LePage, 30 percent of single, never-married women own their own homes, as do 45 percent of divorced or separated women and 64 percent of widows.

It's a trend that might have as much to do with attitude as with bank accounts. "The most noticeable thing about single women now is that they are far more likely to start their lives without waiting to become partnered," says Fraser.  I, too, am getting on with my own life. My awkward moment with my uncle is dusted off every now and then as an anecdote to entertain friends, in between visits to condos with real-estate agents. And, while I'm not gay, I can honestly say I am pretty happy.

Kimora Lee Simmons Is Back In Style

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 30, 2007)
"Kimora is a Japanese name and it's kind of like Johnson in America.  It's really supposed to have a U instead of a O, but my mom put a little spin on it.  My mom is Japanese, so I'm half Japanese and half American.  Then it's Lee.  And I don't really know what it means, but it does have a meaning.  I'm just not aware of it. Just one more thing to add to my freakiness." *Kimora Lee Simmons has long been the subject of speculation, even prior to her marriage and recent divorce from one of Hip-Hop's original multi-millionaires, Russell Simmons.   People saw this tall, exotic looking woman and would speculate about everything from her ethnic origins to her true place in fashion.  Last season fans got only a taste of what's going on in the life of Kimora Lee Simmons.    Now, nosey people the world over will be glued to the TV for another season.  Kimora is back on the celebrity/reality television band wagon with "Life In The Fab Lane" on the Style Network.  Forever the "fashionista" Kimora is simply doing what's fashionable these days.   "I wanted to do it because, I've done a lot of reality type situations on TV and they have usually been in the way of specials," said Simmons.  "Like a one hour special when I was planning a party or doing a fashion show.  I'm used to people kind of tagging along.  We did one on Style called 'Party Fabulous' and we got a pretty good response.  People were kind of excited and they were amused.  So we thought 'Ok, let's do that again'" It must be nice to say 'Let's do that again' and have it be done as if it were as simple as turning a door knob.  Despite reality television being all the rage these days, Kimora says it can get on a person's nerves every once in a while. 

"Yes, it is intrusive, it's reali-tay," Lee-Simmons told EUR and other reporters.  "It's sometimes very intrusive. I have two kids, four and seven.  A lot goes on.  It's reali-tay.  There's moments when it's all OK.  Like now, I knew all of you were going to be here.  But then, like, you're going shopping and you've got all these people there or you're going to the office and you didn't know the office was going to blow up that day or you didn't know the collection wasn't going to be ready.  It's things like that that make you go 'Grrr' but it's going to be OK.  At the end of the day we manage to get it done." She is the woman behind the Baby Phat clothing line.  While her competitors fade away to the discount racks, Baby Phat remains relevant to clothing buyers the world over thanks to Kimora's guidance.  We asked why fashion and style seem to flow so carelessly from whatever she gets her hands on.  "Wow, I wrote a book recently called 'Fabulosity' and it talks a lot about that," she explained. "I've been in fashion since I was 13 years old, as some of you may or may not know.  I'm kind of used to being on the runway, in front of the camera, behind the camera.  And that's been my life.  I'm really addicted to fashion, style.  I'm really a creative person and I'm really loud.  It kind of goes together with my life style. It's something I love." Another seemingly ongoing mystery surrounding the model turned fashion mogul is her ethnic make up.  Lee-Simmons offered to shed some light on that by explaining her birth name.  "Kimora is a Japanese name and it's kind of like Johnson in America.  It's really supposed to have a U instead of a O, but my mom put a little spin on it.  My mom is Japanese, so I'm half Japanese and half American.  Then it's Lee.  And I don't really know what it means, but it does have a meaning.  I'm just not aware of it. Just one more thing to add to my freakiness." The first episode of the new season of "Life In The Fab Lane" premiered yesterday, August 28th with Kimora being named Designer of the Year and features to angst over giving an acceptance speech.  You can catch the next show tomorrow, Thursday, August 30 on the Style Network.   By the way, while checking out the schedule on the official "Life In The Fab Lane" website, we noticed the shows are not airing in chronological order.  So be careful not to miss one or you will be lost.

Two-Time Giller Prize Winner Looks To His Roots

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Publishing Reporter

(September 01, 2007) By the time
M.G. Vassanji had come to the end of a three-month residency in India in 1996, he was sufficiently acclimated to his surroundings that at least one local resident mistook the successful Toronto author for a fellow native of the subcontinent. Vassanji's Hindi might have been a bit patchy. But he was fluent enough in Gujarati – the regional language of his Indian-born grandparents – to convince someone that he must be Indian. Only later was his Canadian identity revealed. "This man was very moved that I had not put on airs or pushed my weight around," Vassanji recalls. "Some people who go to India from here spend all their time bitching and complaining, walking around with their bottles of water. I don't do that." The visit came three years after Vassanji set foot in India for the first time, although – Indian ancestry notwithstanding – it's unlikely he could have passed himself off as a lifelong resident on that occasion. "After the plane landed, you had to peel my eyes from the window. It was like a revelation. It seemed so much a part of me.  "I didn't expect that." Until then, Vassanji had seen his Indian ancestry as secondary to his identity as a Canadian immigrant born and raised in East Africa. He is now putting the finishing touches on a memoir and travelogue based on his experiences in India.

Vassanji's Indian excursions have also informed The Assassin's Song, the new novel by the two-time Giller Prize winner. The book, set in western India, Boston and Vancouver, weaves together two narratives. One concerns a travelling 13th-century Sufi mystic who preaches religious tolerance in Gujarat, an Indian state which borders Pakistan. The other, set against sectarian violence in 2002 between Hindus and Muslims, involves the present-day family charged with maintaining the shrine created by the wandering Sufi's followers. Karsan, the designated heir to the mystic, is a poetry-loving secularist who flees to North America. By contrast, his brother Mansoor changes his name to Omar and embraces radical Islam. Vassanji, a secularist whose forebears adhered to a tolerant strain of religious observance, is dismayed by the rise of fundamentalism on both sides of the Hindu-Muslim divide, although he finds hope in the fact that India, while mainly Hindu, has a Muslim president and a Sikh prime minister. "The violence is embarrassing to ordinary Indians," he says. "They don't want to be associated with it. India is talking about being out in the world, even as a superpower. The image of this violence just doesn't fly with that." Strong early reviews for The Assassin's Song can only fuel speculation that its author could be in the running for an unprecedented third Giller Prize (following wins for The Book of Secrets and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall) when the long list is unveiled on Sept. 17. Vassanji, who is also working on a short biography of Mordecai Richler, says he has no expectations. "Winning means only one thing," he says. "It means you have established enough credit to write another book."

Standing On Guard Against The Uncool

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -

(Sep 01, 2007) I once got bounced from a Toronto nightclub for
wearing running shoes, the unfashionable kind, no swoosh or star-jock endorsement. Piece of meat at the door, guardian against barbarians at the gate in his muscle-straining T-shirt livery, had clearly not given me a proper once-over, an error corrected when later eyeballing my humble footwear. Plimsolls deemed offensive, bringing down the tenor of the establishment, he frogmarched me onto the pavement. A minor incident, but it got up my nose. Thing is, rub a bouncer's nose the wrong way and you're on the street, often enough with a shove and a heave. There are countless ways to cross a bouncer. And no reasoning with a jacked-up bully whose job provides an iota of bossy boots cover. They're a wildly segregationist breed, tinhorn sheriffs deputized by management to separate the chaff from the chic – this in an era that otherwise frowns upon any whiff of social discrimination. Exclusion by class – as in, you don't have any – remains common practice in venues highbrow, vigilantly screened by in-house lookouts. With the Toronto Film Festival launching, and a celebrity epidemic looming, the red rope vanguard will be in their element – bristling with self-importance, aviator sunglasses wrapped around their brainpans, headsets screwed into their ears – culling the hoi polloi herd at theatres and after-party hot spots.

Security is one thing, because paparazzi-trailing luminaries apparently need protection from the grubby masses, unapproachable even by the invited and credentialed. But "security'' is a catch-all designation, long abused in an unregulated industry of curbside goons and bicep-flexing bruisers. Ever run afoul of a private security guard? They're really bouncers in polyester, often failed police applicants and crabby about it. Imperious authority, questionably assumed, afflicts many professions that operate under the rubric of managing and browbeating the public: Mall guards who think they're constables walking a beat, public housing wardens, arena security, concert toughs, as well as the legions of barroom bouncers and nightclub gatekeepers – 33,000 of those in the province, heretofore unlicensed and free from scrutiny in their excesses, a law unto themselves. Doubt whether Ontario's new Private Security and Investigative Services Act will change that aggressive portal-patrol culture, even though in-house security is covered by the legislation. Security "pros," from bouncers to property watchmen, may walk the walk but they're not cops. They have no more right to halt, harass, interrogate or collar a person than any other civilian (any one of us can make a citizen's arrest), despite the block-and-tackle posture they often adopt. But they can still roust you from a bar, at their discretion, as employees of the house, or haul your butt from a hotel lobby, or impede your passage on public sidewalks, or strong-arm you out of a queue, the ballpark, a concert, the dance floor. If they don't like the cut of your jib, you won't even get in. Push back and you're up against the wall, rejection followed by ejection.

The aforementioned Act boasts a "Code of Conduct," allegedly forcing upon enforcers "polite interaction with the public." Maybe that means please beat it, pond scum. Emphasis, in the legislation, is on use-of-force training within a year and mandatory licences, even for club sentries. Nothing there about misuse-of-prerogative and licence to oust. Assessing who's cool and who's a loser – not wanted beyond the rope, past the entrance – remains entirely subjective. Truth is, on the other side of the velvet barricade divide, even the threshold of a fleetingly trendy saloon, these same lummoxes wouldn't have a hope in hell of passing muster themselves. And in red carpet season, they're the perennial outsiders.

Sheryl Underwood Overachieves

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

(August 31, 2007) *Comedian
Sheryl Underwood is an over-achiever. The comedian’s stand-up career has exploded into two morning radio gigs, a satellite radio show with Jamie Foxx, and an upcoming gospel play.  This all in addition to her constant stand-up dates, her hosting gig on BET’s “Comic View,” and the work she’s done on her own show “Holla.” “I’m on [Los Angeles’] V100 every Monday through Friday with Cliff Winston. I’m on two days with Tom Joyner [Morning Show], and that’s really getting me so much work. I just have too much work right now,” she told EUR’s Lee Bailey. “I’m doing this thing with Jamie Foxx right now. It’s on Sirius [Radio], on the Foxx Hole Comedy Network – political comedy radio. I’m really excited about that. And I’m doing a gospel play that’s coming out in 2008. It will be myself and Jonathan Slocomb and we’re trying to talk Vesta into becoming a part of it. The gospel play is just a dream come true. You’re really gonna love it and you’re really gonna be proud of me.” Sheryl Underwood in a gospel play? You’d better believe it. She explained that it’s irreverent comedy that makes it such a great place for her, and something that she’s always wanted to do. “The concept of the play is something that I think people will enjoy. It’s two preachers, I’m the female preacher and Jonathan Slocomb is the male preacher, and you’ve got a devious church secretary. It takes the part of my personality that people see on stage, but it’s just taking my love of the Lord, but I’m straddling the fence.” The play is in its development stages, but Underwood expects to open the curtains sometime next year. “It’s my dream project to work on. God has really blessed me. I’m having the greatest career I could have,” she said and explained that her new radio career is a blessing, too, even though she has to race from studio to studio.

“When I’m on the air with Cliff Winston then when I go to the break, I go do Tom Joyner on Mondays and Wednesday. I run around the studio,” she said. Even though the comedienne is hard at work with a number of gigs, she admitted that she would have liked to have been a part of the recent Flava Flav Roast. “I thought it was really good,” she said. “I thought Kat Williams was phenomenal. It was great to see Sommore there. I would have rather been a part of it too as the person that’s kissed Flava Flav in real life.  Go back and check the BET Comedy Awards the first year. Flava Flav was my date. He really didn’t know too much about me, but he was so nice about it. After I performed he was very chivalrous. We went to the after-party together and it was a whole different vibe. He’s a great kisser by the way.” Underwood said she was impressed with the roasters at the Comedy Central event including Greg Giraldo, Jimmy Kimmel, and even Ice-T.  “There were a lot of great celebrities. Everybody was good,” and she continued that it was important for her to come out and support fellow black comedienne Sommore, who also participated in the roast. “They picked who they wanted to pick, and we support what Sommore is doing. To be a black female comedian on stage – big ups to that. But you know what was the bomb? Being in the audience. Spinderella was really mixing the music so it was really like a big house party, but you had a lot of industry people in the audience. I would have liked to be a part of that, but maybe next time.” Underwood is looking forward to many more next times, as she gears up her upcoming projects and juggles her radio schedule. “I’m just really excited because my career is blowing up. It’s just about staying out there and being patient and waiting on God. I’ve got a lot going on. Now if I could just lose 20 more pounds, maybe I’d be Jet Beauty of the Week one day.”

Naomi Klein's New Book A Lightning Rod

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Publishing Reporter

(
September 04, 2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a painstakingly detailed analysis of how corporations manipulate natural and manmade disasters to line their pockets and further their privatizing agenda, is not a marginal, academic treatise by a lefty think tank targeted at a small, like-minded audience. It is a book by a bestselling writer and activist who also happens to be one of the anti-globalization movement's most recognizable faces. It's also a book that comes with its own promotional documentary, a short directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival. In other words, instead of being consigned to pointy-headed discussion in unread academic journals, it is a book that has the potential to become a lightning rod of controversy and debate. The distinction is not lost on the writer, Naomi Klein, the 37-year-old Toronto author of the momentous 2000 manifesto No Logo, an influential book that produced its share of detractors and converts. On the one hand, No Logo provoked a backlash from the editors of The Economist magazine, who devoted a 2002 cover story to refuting its Nike-bashing thesis. On the other, it inspired the popular rock band Radiohead to ban corporate signage from its shows. "The usual response of the economic establishment is to ignore people like me and hope we go away," says Klein, during a recent interview in the Toronto offices of her Canadian publisher, Random House.

"That was the initial response to No Logo. It was either patronizing pats on the head or it was, `Ignore her. Don't encourage her.' It was only after No Logo sold a million copies that The Economist took it on." The Shock Doctrine, published worldwide today in seven languages, will be an even tougher pill for Klein's detractors to choke down. In it, Klein assails the legacy of Milton Friedman, the late, Nobel Prize-winning Chicago economist beloved by conservatives for his unequivocal belief in the supremacy of the private sector, even as a means of delivering traditionally public services such as health care, education and drinking water. The book argues that since the public doesn't necessarily share the Friedmanite faith, corporations seize on the disorientation caused by situations of turmoil and upheaval to inflict their privatizing agendas. Examples range from the way in which the Friedman doctrine was implemented in Chile after the 1973 coup that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power, to the more recent displacement of Sri Lankan fishers who were prevented by resort developers from returning to their villages in the aftermath of the 2003 tsunami. Klein began connecting the dots in her own mind at the start of the Iraq War in 2003. At the time she and her husband, filmmaker and former TV host Avi Lewis, were living in Argentina, a country then emerging from its own period of economic shock therapy. She was struck by how closely the original reconstruction plans for Iraq conformed to the shock formula. The 560-page argument, which also deals with the privatization of post-communist economies in Poland, Russia and China, the reliance of the Israeli private sector on security-related entrepreneurship and other subjects, is bolstered by nearly 70 pages of footnotes, citing more than 1,000 sources.

"I expect the release of the book to be a battle. And the endnotes are my body armour," says Klein, who will further defend her thesis during a public interview Thursday at the UofT's MacMillan Theatre.  "When you are introducing ideas that are new and in some cases quite radical, you need major backup if you want to reach beyond a small section of the population. Hopefully, the people who don't need as much convincing will bear with me because if the book were more anecdotal and less carefully sourced it would make it that much easier for the people who want to get me."

OTHER TIDBITS

For Better Or For Worse To End Next Year

Excerpt from www.thestar.com

(September 05, 2007) Like their creator, the beloved characters of Lynn Johnston's comic strip
For Better or For Worse are taking the first steps toward retirement. Johnston originally planned to end the popular 28-year-old strip – which appears in 2,000 newspapers, including the Star – this month, but an outpouring of grief from her fans convinced the North Bay, Ont., artist to keep the strip going into next year. She promised to bring storylines, like the budding romance between oldest daughter Elizabeth and an old high school flame, to a natural conclusion.  The beginning of the end starts this week.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Bishop Leads Argos Past Struggling Ticats

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(
September 03, 2007) HAMILTON – Michael Bishop threw two touchdown passes as the Toronto Argonauts snapped a five-game losing streak with a 32-14 Labour Day win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats today. Bishop, back after suffering a broken wrist back in July, had scoring strikes of 46 and 11 yards. The latter was to Frank Murphy at 2:37 of the fourth that cemented the victory before a quiet Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering of 28,644. Toronto (3-6) moved four points ahead of fourth-place Hamilton (1-8) in the East Division. The teams complete the home-and-home series Saturday at Rogers Centre. Bishop showed some rust – he missed a wide-open Tony Miles in the first quarter and was stopped on third down at the Hamilton one-yard line late in the third – but finished 14-of-28 passing for 321 yards and added 27 yards rushing on five carries. Bishop also claimed his second straight win over Hamilton, leading Toronto to a 30-5 road victory over the Ticats on July 7. Hamilton pulled to within 28-14 on Jason Maas' 88-yard TD strike to Brock Ralph at 4:22 of the fourth. But Maas, who was 8-of-15 passing for 161 yards, lost a fumble at the Toronto 45-yard line with just under five minutes remaining and was sacked twice.

The win continued Toronto's recent domination of Hamilton. The Argos not only won their eighth straight against their archrivals, but improved to 15-1-1 in their last 16 regular-season games versus the Ticats and 6-4-1 in their last 11 contests in Steeltown. Toronto made life miserable for Ticats rookie Timmy Chang, who was starting his first CFL game. Chang, a former NCAA star at Hawaii, was 5-of-15 passing for 44 yards, sacked four times and had an interception returned for a TD in the first half before Maas started the third. Hamilton was without its top offensive threat, as running back Jesse Lumsden, the CFL's No. 3 rusher with 627 yards, didn't play due to a bruised shoulder. Hamilton's busiest player was rookie Nick Setta, who punted 13 times. Obed Cetoute and Byron Parker scored Toronto's other touchdowns. Noel Prefontaine booted three converts, three field goals and two singles. Zeke Moreno had Hamilton's other touchdown. Setta added a convert and single. Parker's 30-yard interception return for a TD staked Toronto to its 18-8 half-time lead. Parker's club record-tying fifth interception return came at 8:25 of the second and put the Argos ahead 14-8. Hamilton started quickly, surging to an 8-0 lead on Setta's booming 91-yard single at 2:06 of the first before Moreno returned a Bishop interception 44 yards for the TD at 2:52. Bishop pulled Toronto to within 8-7 with his 46-yard TD strike to Cetoute.

NOTES: The Ticats honoured safety Rob Hitchcock and slotback Mike Morreale at halftime. The two veterans were released during training camp but decided to retire as Ticats after being unable to sign on with another club . . . Toronto offensive lineman Jude St. John played in his 200th career game . . . Former Calgary receiver Marc Boerigter was on Toronto's sideline Monday. He'll formally sign with the Argos this week and is expected to be in uniform Saturday.

Williams Sisters On Collision Course

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(
September 03, 2007) NEW YORK–When you hear about Serena and Venus Williams overpowering opponents, as happened yesterday at the U.S. Open to two recent Grand Slam finalists, it's easy to forget that the sisters are, indeed, individuals. And as similar as their on-court styles might seem, all stinging serves and gargantuan groundstrokes, they are not quite carbon copies. That point was driven home by their father and coach, Richard, who sat courtside for the final game of Serena's 6-3, 6-4 victory over Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli, then watched Venus' 6-4, 6-2 win against French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic. "Serena reminds me of a pit bull dog and a young Mike Tyson, all in one," dad said. "Venus reminds me of a gazelle that's able to move, prance and jump. Venus looks as if she is really enjoying herself out there more than Serena is right now. If they get by everyone and meet each other, it will be an interesting match." Another all-Williams showdown is indeed nearing at Flushing Meadows, although unlike six previous meetings for major titles – Serena leads 5-1 in those, Venus leads 7-6 overall – this one would be a semifinal. "That would be awesome because it would mean that there is a Williams in the final," Venus said. "We have one more step."

For Serena, it's a familiar one. She will face No.1 Justine Henin in the quarterfinals at a third consecutive major, having lost to her at the French Open and Wimbledon. Henin beat No.15 Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-2 last night. The older Williams plays No.5 Jelena Jankovic, who defeated No.19 Sybille Bammer 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. Men's matches yesterday were in the third round, and No.2 Rafael Nadal advanced without a hitch in his step – his taped-up knees have been bothering him – beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-1. Next up for Nadal is a fellow Spaniard, No.15 David Ferrer, who was one point from defeat before coming back to eliminate 2002 Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 in a match that included a 24-point game. Nalbandian held a match point, while ahead 5-4 in the fifth set with Ferrer serving. But the Argentine dumped a backhand into the net – and didn't win another game. "I couldn't nail it down," Nalbandian said. "It's a pity." Both Williams sisters are two-time U.S. Open champions and both are getting in a groove as this Grand Slam goes on, just as Serena did en route to her eighth major title at the Australian Open in January, and Venus did en route to her sixth major title at Wimbledon in July. "I'm still not where I want to be – or near," Serena said. "But I feel like I'm doing better, which is important." "Serena has a few problems that we haven't talked to no one about," Richard Williams said, but wouldn't elaborate. "I think she's done a marvellous job of hiding it."

SPORTS TIDBITS

NBA Players To Lend Hand In South Africa

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(September 5, 2007) *Nine NBA players are headed to South Africa this week as part of Basketball Without Borders, an organization that taps athletes to help build and dedicate new facilities to provide homes and health care for the nation’s poor.  Dikembe Mutombo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is making his fifth trip to South Africa, and guard Bruce Bowen of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs will be among the active and retired NBA talents on the trip, reports the Associated Press. Emeka Okafor and Primoz Brezec of the Charlotte Bobcats, Sacramento's Kevin Martin, New York's Malik Rose, Phoenix's Sean Marks, Orlando's Pat Garrity and Atlanta's Josh Childress round out the delegation. Players will be in Johannesburg on Thursday at Soweto Kliptown to celebrate the 20th anniversary to their youth outreach program, which includes a learning centre backed by NBA players. The NBA delegation will join a Habitat for Humanity family home construction project in the township of Katlehong the next day and on Saturday dedicate a home-based care facility for severely ill children in Soweto.