August 28, 2008
Is it truly the end of 'summer'? Hard to believe as I feel like we barely had one in the first place. I wish we had a little longer of this nice weather - little brisk no? Looks like it will be at least a sunny Labour Day weekend - happy celebrating!
I encourage you to pick up the New Kids on the Block - with this many collabos and the release of their single "Summertime", you can't go wrong!
MAN! Tons of entertainment news on all fronts this week! Scroll down and find out what interests you - take your time and take a walk into your weekly entertainment news!
New Kids on “The
Source: Universal Music Canada
The New Kids on the Block are back after 15 years with their long awaited new CD – ‘THE BLOCK’. Included are the hot new tracks ‘Summertime’ & ‘Single’ featuring Ne-Yo, but also more sizzling new tracks with the Pussycat Dolls, Timbaland, Lady Gaga & Akon! NKOTB’s ‘THE BLOCK’ is available in stores and online on September 2nd, but if you pre-order now on iTunes, you can get a track right now!
Don't forget to get your tickets to see them live on tour!
9/18 - Toronto @ ACC
9/19 - Toronto @ ACC
9/20 - Montreal @ Bell Centre
9/21 - Toronto @ ACC
11/18 - Edmonton @ Rexall
11/19 - Calgary @ Saddledome
11/21 - Vancouver - GM Place
There's More To Her Shades Than A Bright Future
Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic
(August 23, 2008) If Melody Gardot keeps her sunglasses on throughout her Toronto debut at the Mod Club on Wednesday, don't think that she's too cool or aloof: the residual effects of a 2003 traffic accident include a sensitivity to light.
The Philadelphian's jazz career, as it turns out, is something of a silver lining: after being knocked off her bicycle by a jeep and bedridden for a year with a fractured pelvis, doctors suggested music therapy to deal with neurological complications that included short-term memory loss. Till then, she had been a hobby musician, with two years of classical piano under her belt; a college art student who occasionally gigged at local lounges.
At her physicians' behest Gardot began writing songs and taught herself to play guitar. Home recordings of those early efforts became a six-song EP, Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions, which led to a Verve recording contract and her full-length debut Worrisome Heart, which hit the top of the Canadian Jazz Chart last month.
"The music started as therapy and it's still therapy now," said the 23-year-old chanteuse, who walks with a cane and travels with a yoga instructor and a therapist. "When I play and sing, it's because I need to, not because I want to. It's been an interesting journey that's taken me somewhere I'm happy to be but couldn't have ever expected."
She describes her romance-grounded, self-penned album, which fuses jazz, folk and country, and conjures Norah Jones and Ricki Lee Jones, as "post-midnight.''
"Like a lot of people my age, I grew up listening to what was popular," she said in an interview. "But after the accident, I couldn't listen to the music I had before. I sought out other, quieter things. My friends gave me records, and one of the first was Stan Getz's The Bossa Nova Years. I remember doing physical therapy to that: being on the treadmill, trying to learn to walk again. That kind of music became infectious for me; I would hear it and not quite understand it at first, but then I'd go back and I'd get it.
"I was learning as I was going, and so that type of music became more and more personal for me."
She plays guitar on tour, with a band of bass, drums, trumpet and sax. "We keep the heart of the music (from Worrisome Heart), but I like to push the boundaries of what you can do live as much as possible without removing the intention and integrity of the music," she said.
If the mood is right, Gardot will also throw in the odd Duke Ellington cover, or a fledgling tune.
"I'm always writing. The music, the lyrics and melody all come at the same time, arising out of spontaneous moments."
And she's blessed with the most honest of first listeners: her 5-year-old cat, Maestro. "If he likes it, he sits next to me on the piano; and if he doesn't, he stays on the other side of the room."
Just the facts
WHO: Melody Gardot
WHEN: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Mod Club, 722 College St.
TICKETS: $15 from Ticketmaster
Concrete Hoops Connects At-Risk Youth With Sport
Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Chris Penrose
(Summer 2008) Eight years ago, five former Oakwood Collegiate basketball teammates began a journey that would leave an indelible mark on their lives.
The group started Concrete Hoops, an initiative aimed at connecting at-risk youth in Toronto through sport. Five years later, as the members of Concrete Hoops arrived in the mountainous Swazi landscape, the experience was new territory for all.
Managed by a multicultural group of Oakwood Collegiate graduates, Concrete Hoops works to provide low-cost programs with high quality instruction and planning.
"People say don't mix friendship and business, but Concrete Hoops has kept us closer," explains Tyrone Edwards. "We've all been successful in our separate endeavours, but the one thing that brings us back is Concrete Hoops." Three years after that first overseas trip, Concrete Hoops continues to grow within the framework of its initial mission. The group has started an expansion project in Brazil, and in May 2008, Concrete Hoops took eight of their coaches and delivered their fourth basketball camp in Swaziland to 130 participants.
"For the week that we are there, every kid has a phenomenal time and loves the experience, and it stems from that, the word of mouth," says Jama Mahalela. "And we're amazed every time that the momentum lasts an entire year. When we come back, it's like, ÔYo, Concrete Hoops is coming back.'"
The fact that their numbers have continued to increase each year is significant, but this pales in comparison to another fact: in a country where, traditionally, females have extremely limited involvement in and access to sports, 60 of the 130 youth in the program were girls.
The examination of social issues, health and wellness brought to the region by Concrete Hoops provides a valuable space where both boys and girls freely participate in sport and discussion. This formula for success, which has become the group's brand, differs very little from one continent to the next. Their underlying message is that while a jumpshot and a crossover is the same anywhere on the planet, the swagger you use to do it, whether male or female, sets individuals apart on and off the court.
"For us, Concrete Hoops provides a way for young people to gain confidence. We help them to tap into their identity and their own personality, and when you project that individuality confidently Ñ that's swagger," says Mahalela. It's this philosophy that has allowed girls to feel comfortable in an area where female athleticism is not encouraged (and even frowned upon). The message of being comfortable in your own skin and embracing the people around you through friendship and teamwork continues to propel the Concrete Hoops concept on and off the court.
"Concrete Hoops is not about the crossover dribble; it's not about the jumpshot. It's those moments and experiences that can't be planned ÐÐ they just happen. It's about community and about leadership."
Concrete Hoops will offer their summer program in Toronto at St. Francis of Assisi School from August 11 to 15 and August 18 to 22. For more info, visit: concretehoops.com.
First Tour Since 2002
(August 25, 2008) *For the first time in six years, fans will get a chance to see neo-soul star Maxwell live in concert.
The string of live dates were described in a Thursday press release as a "pre-party tour celebration" for his upcoming trilogy album, "Black Summers' Night."
The trek kicks off on Oct. 8 in Boston and includes stops at New York's Radio City Music Hall the following day, Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium on Nov. 1st as well as theatre dates in Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Oakland and Washington, D.C. [Dates detailed below.]
October 8 - Boston, MA - Opera House
October 9 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall NY
October 10 - Wallingford, CT - Chevrolet Theater
October 14 - Cincinnati, OH - Taft Theater
October 15 - St. Louis, MO - Fox Theater
October 17 - Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theater
October 18 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theater
October 19 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theater
October 21 - Minneapolis, MN - Orpheum Theater
October 22 - Omaha, NE - Music Hall
October 23 - Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater
October 25 - Denver, CO - Paramount Theater
October 28 - Oakland, CA - Paramount Theater
October 31 - Las Vegas, NV - Pearl
November 1 - Los Angeles, CA - Shrine Auditorium
November 6 - Houston, TX - Verizon Theater
November 8 - Dallas, TX - Majestic Theater
November 10 - Birmingham, AL - BJCC Hall
November 11 - Memphis, TN - Orpheum Theater
November 12 - Atlanta, GA - Civic Center
November 14 - Greensboro, NC - War Memorial
November 15 - Richmond, VA - Landmark Theater
November 17 - Washington, D.C. - Constitution Hall
November 21 - Philadelphia, PA - Susquehanna Center
School Film Chronicles Brutality Of Gang Life
Source: www.thestar.com - Dan Robson, Staff Reporter
(August 24, 2008) Three weeks, three murders – three young lives lost.
On Friday evening, a 15-year-old police identified yesterday as Evan Popoola, of Mississauga, was gunned down in a sports field behind St. Jude Separate School, in the Eglinton Ave. E. and Hurontario St. area.
A week earlier, Farhan Ali Omar, 22, was stabbed in a Mississauga park near his Rathburn Rd. W. home, and died a day later.
Alex Masih, 16, of Brampton, was shot to death Aug. 9 just after midnight, next to his townhouse complex near Kennedy Rd. and Williams Parkway in Brampton.
Peel's 2008 homicide total now sits at 19 –a record likely to rise.
Despite the grim headlines, some high school thespians from Malton are trying to make their community gang- and violence-free.
Fed up with the increasing youth violence near Ascension of Our Lord Catholic High School in Malton, where he has taught for 14 years, James Flaherty decided to use his background in film production do something about it.
Last year, the film teacher asked a group of students to work on a short film chronicling a boy's spiral into the deadly grip of a street gang.
Most in the all-volunteer group had never considered drama before, preferring to use their natural improv talents in other traditional teenage pursuits.
But, months of hard work later, the result is a short film, Mouse, to be screened in schools across the GTA this fall that's endorsed by Peel Regional Police.
Much of the script was improvised by the student actors, lending authenticity to the dialogue.
"You won't be able to tell that these kids aren't professional," says Flaherty at his Oakville home. "I'm so proud of these guys. They really came through,"
Mouse centres on a single-parent home, where a mom is struggling to make ends meet while raising her son. He slips from her grip, as he's drawn toward the male influence and acceptance of a group of older boys in a local street gang.
It's an all too common narrative, says Flaherty. Some parents have to work endlessly just to put food on the table, making it hard to be a constant presence in an adolescent's life.
"These kids are fighting through a lot of personal challenges," Flaherty says. "They're looking for affirmation, and finding it in the wrong places."
Ten-year-old Eddie Croft, a local public school student, plays the young son in the film. Endearing and, with a cherubic grin, he captivates the viewer.
But it's this kind of kid, Flaherty says, who is a particular target for gangs looking for innocent faces to do their bidding – slipping under the unsuspecting eyes of store clerks and through the basement windows of family homes.
Croft, who wants to be either a mechanic or an actor, says the movie shows how easy it is for someone his age to get pulled into gang life.
"The movie taught me not to get involved in gangs because they won't let you leave. It's dangerous," he says.
Darren Watts, 18, plays Clutch, the lead gang member who recruits Croft.
He says he has a personal connection to the movie because growing up in Malton he has lost childhood friends, killed in gang violence.
"I've seen a lot of people hurt and a lot of lives taken," he says. "I hope people see that in the movie. Kids should outlive their parents."
Flaherty says Watts' experience is not unique in the Malton neighbourhood, where the movie was filmed. He recalls how one player he coached on Ascension of Our Lord's basketball team was shot to death by a group of young men some years back.
"Every time you hear about a murder in Malton, you worry that it may have been one of your kids," Flaherty says. "It has enough of a presence now that I'd say a lot of teachers have had that experience."
Violent murders even framed production of the film. Nine months ago, as the Mouse project got underway, David Latchana, 23, was murdered in the area.
Police believe it was a gang-related hit. As summer vacation began, after the production wrap, Orrin Marlon Earle, 28, was gunned down in the same Darcel Ave. apartment complex where part of Mouse was filmed.
Music Groups Assess Cutbacks' Damage
Source: www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(August 26, 2008) The Canadian music community, bewildered by the federal government's recent decisions to cut some $20 million in arts funding, is starting to assess the potentially devastating damage to their business.
"The prospects beyond 2010 are disastrous," East Coast Music Association executive director Steve Horne told the Toronto Star.
"Music industry conferences in Canada will yield less because showcases will be unattended by foreign music buyers, agents, label representatives and radio programmers whose travel and accommodation expenses were partly paid by these federal funds.
"And fewer Canadian acts will be able to take part in showcases in major foreign talent conferences. Hundreds of small businesses in the Canadian arts sector representing millions of dollars in cultural revenue will be affected."
Using grants of $60,000 to $70,000 from two cancelled programs, music industry organizations such as ECMA, Canadian Music Week and the Western Canadian Musical Alliance have paid up to half the travel expenses of international music industry representatives attending their annual showcases and awards presentations.
In the past decade, that small investment has helped hundreds of Canadian acts to sign foreign record deals, land contracts with overseas agents, and book tours in Europe, Asia and Australia.
"The value of contracts directly negotiated as a result of ECMA's federal fund-supported international program during the four-day ECMA conferences in 2006 and 2007 is $1.1 million," Horne said. "That doesn't include incremental revenue from tours and record sales."
Halifax-based singer-songwriter Jill Barber said her participation in the ECMA's 2005 international program led to her being signed by a European booking agency and to three tours of Britain, with a fourth scheduled this fall.
Also, she said, "I'm doing a six-week tour of Australia in December. These are opportunities I would never have had without the federal funding programs."
Federal support through the cancelled $9 million cultural export program Trade Routes has helped Canadian music to enjoy unprecedented success overseas, said Neil Dixon, president of Canadian Music Week, the annual music trade conference staged in Toronto.
"Foreign buyers are looking for the next big thing in Canada. At CMW we present 500 Canadian acts in dozens of showcases, and five or six are picked up every year by foreign labels, agents and managers," Dixon said.
Bedouin Soundclash, based in Kingston, Ont., and Montreal's Arcade Fire are just two bands that have benefited directly from contracts secured through Trade Routes-funded international showcases at CMW, Dixon said – the former with festival appearances, tours and record deals in Japan, Britain and Australia, the latter with an international management contract and label deal in Britain.
CMW's 2008 International Marketplace, with Trade Routes funding, attracted 200 representatives and buyers from 20 countries, including Japan, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Denmark, Taiwan, Netherlands, Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S., said the showcase's manager, Kathy Hahn.
"The number of international buyers increased by 39 per cent over 2007," Hahn said.
The event generated more than $8 million, including $5 million from one deal alone (for Toronto rock band Rush) plus future royalties.
"That's all gone as of next year," Dixon said. "A huge rung is missing in the ladder of success because of these funding cuts."
The Western Canadian Music Alliance, producer of the annual WCMA Awards and music conference, said Trade Routes and ProMart, a $4.7 million artists' travel support fund operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs, have resulted in a demonstrable increase in export opportunities for Canadian musicians and industry over the past five years. Both federal programs are cancelled as of April 2009.
The WCMA, an umbrella organization for five western music industry associations, released a statement saying cancellation of the two federal programs "will severely affect our ability to create and train artists and industry professionals to work on a global scale. Also, the addition of top international music buyers raises the bar of any event, attracting more top artists and professionals. The past has taught us that if you dismantle the cultural railroad it may become impossible to rebuild."
The federal funding has helped to generate $40 billion in cultural business, said Duncan McKie, president of the Canadian Independent Record Production Association.
"Last year, 21 Canadian companies, with financial assistance from ProMart, the Ontario government and the Canadian consulate, went to a music trade mission in Tokyo. Most of them came away with significant deals. The federal investment was $80,000, and $1.4 million in recording, distribution and touring contracts were signed.
"Toronto singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka was a guest of the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles during Grammy week, and as a result ended up playing the Fuji Pop Festival in Japan and securing a label deal there. Every company has a story like that."
In addition, Trade Routes has been the sole financial supporter of Canadian acts at the annual CMJ new music conference in New York, the largest gathering in North America of college and university radio programmers, with an audience of four million listeners.
"After one showcase appearance, Canadian band Stars had the No. 1 most added song on American college/university playlists," McKie said.
Caribbean Airlines Enhances Service Between Canada And Guyana In
Fall Flight Schedule
Source: Caribbean Airlines
Port of Spain (25 August 2008) – Caribbean Airlines, Ltd., adds seamless connections between Toronto, Canada and Georgetown, Guyana its Fall flight schedule. The new schedule is effective from 08 September 2008 and also features additional service at New York, USA and Paramaribo, Suriname.
“We’ve heard the requests of our Guyanese travelers in Canada and are pleased we could adjust our schedule to provide a daily ‘through flight’ from Toronto to Georgetown with flights BW601 and BW661to provide seamless service between the cities,” said Jonathan Cowley, Caribbean Airlines’ General Manager, Toronto.
Carlton de Four, Caribbean Airlines’ General Manager, Guyana and Suriname, further explained the convenience. “From September, travelers can board flight BW601 in Toronto and after a short intermediate stop in Port of Spain conveniently proceed on flight BW661 to Georgetown,” he said. “Northbound, the flights are BW662 from Georgetown which connects to BW600 to Toronto at Port of Spain .”
Caribbean Airlines’ other Fall flight schedule enhancements include:
• Daily service between Toronto , Canada and Georgetown , Guyana via Port of Spain , Trinidad
• Four additional non-stop flights between Toronto and Port of Spain , Trinidad for a total of 11 weekly flights
• An additional flight between Paramaribo , Suriname and Port of Spain , Trinidad for a total of five weekly flights
• Two daily flights between New York , New York and Port of Spain , Trinidad with an extra flight on Sunday and Monday for a total of 16 weekly flights
• Daily flights between Kingston , Jamaica and Port of Spain , Trinidad with intermediate stops at Barbados , Antigua or St. Maarten
• Two additional flights between Georgetown, Guyana and Port of Spain, Trinidad that provide easy connections for passengers traveling to Guyana from Caribbean Airlines’ Fort Lauderdale, Florida flight
• Continued daily non-stop flights between Fort Lauderdale , Florida and Port of Spain , Trinidad
• Continued daily non-stop flights between Miami , Florida and Port of Spain , Trinidad
“While other carriers are reducing service, Caribbean Airlines has maintained or increased our level of service in all our markets,” said Caribbean Airlines’ Director of Network Management Dayanand Birju. “In our post-summer schedule, which normally sees a consolidation of flight schedules, Caribbean Airlines has reinforced its position as the carrier offering the most service between Trinidad and North America.”
Caribbean Airlines serves 14 markets in the Caribbean, South America, North America and Europe and operates 120 weekly flights. Caribbean Airlines also offers daily Jet Pak small parcel service throughout the Caribbean and thrice-weekly cargo service between Trinidad , Barbados and Miami .
Customers can book reservations and check in online at www.caribbean-airlines.com.
Caribbean Tourism Organization Names Hugh Riley Interim
Source: Caribbean Tourism Organization
(Aug 27, 2008) BRIDGETOWN, Barbados– The Chairman of The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Hon. Allen Chastanet, today named Director of Marketing for the Americas, Hugh Riley, as Interim Secretary General of the organisation.
Mr. Riley will act in the position while the CTO’s Executive Committee completes the search for a new Secretary General. During this period, Deputy Director for Projects and Administration, Sylma Brown Bramble, will act in Mr. Riley’s substantive position as Director of Marketing for the Americas.
Mr. Riley’s interim appointment was necessitated by the 14 August 2008 sudden passing of Interim Secretary General Arley Sobers, who assumed the position at the beginning of July when the Secretary General, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace returned home to become Minister of Tourism and Aviation of The Bahamas.
Mr. Riley was appointed Director of Marketing for the Americas in March 2002 and has since overseen the Caribbean’s marketing programme in the United States of America and Canada. He is also co- Chief Operating Officer of the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC), the marketing and business development unit owned equally by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the CTO.
About the Caribbean Tourism Organization
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with the headquarters in Barbados and marketing operations in New York, London and Toronto, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency and comprises membership of over 30 governments and a myriad of private sector entities.
The CTO’s mission is to provide to and through its members, the services and information needed for the development of sustainable tourism for the economic and social benefit of the Caribbean people.
The organization provides specialized support and technical assistance to member countries in the areas of marketing, human resource development, research and statistics, information technology and sustainable tourism development. The CTO disseminates information on behalf of its member governments to consumers and the travel trade.
The CTO’s New York office is located at 80 Broad St., 32nd Floor, New York, NY 10004, USA: Tel: (212) 635-9530; Fax: (212) 635-9511; E-mail: email@example.com; CTO’s London office is located at The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1BP, England. Tel: 011 44 208 948 0057; Fax: 011 44 208 948 0067; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CTO Canada is located at 2 Bloor Street West, Suite 2601, Toronto, Ont. M4W 3E2, Canada. Tel: (416) 935 0767; Fax: (416) 935-0939; E-mail: email@example.com. CTO Headquarters is located at One Financial Place, Collymore Rock, St, Michael, Barbados; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.caribbeantravel.com or www.onecaribbean.org.
Wayne Brady Is No 'Ordinary' Singer
Source: Brian Scully, ThinkTank Marketing, email@example.com, www.thinktankmktg.com
(August 22, 2008) *Los Angeles, CA - On September 16, 2008 Peak Records/Concord Music Group will release Wayne Brady's debut album, the appropriately titled - A Long Time Coming.
The Emmy Award winner is the consummate entertainer, whose talent truly knows no boundaries. As a stage, screen and live performer Brady is unparalleled.
But now, he turns his attention to his first love: music. The 12-track R&B collection features Brady's own compositions standing side by side with his loving, inspired reinventions of such classics as Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" and Stevie Wonder's "All I Do."
"I always thought that Wayne Brady was an amazingly talented performer with an incredible voice," says Andi Howard, president of Peak Records. "When asked by his producers if I would be interested in signing him as an artist to Peak my response was an emphatic, yes. Not only did he deliver a fabulous album, but an album that is extremely heartfelt and exceeded all expectations. It was indeed 'A Long Time Coming.'"
Brady linked with The Heavyweights, the superstar production team composed of Jack Kugell, Jamie Jones and Jason Pennock, to write and record the album. The Heavyweights' productions have sold more than 28 million albums and include work with such superstars as Jim Brickman, Martina McBride and Destiny's Child.
First single, "Ordinary," is a mid-tempo burner that pays tribute to the glorious simplicity found in every day life and love. Penned by the Heavyweights, Sarah Nagourney and Welford B. Walton II, the song is enhanced by Brady's nuanced, soulful delivery.
Brady's talent is too big to contain to any one format. He's currently starring in his own Las Vegas show, "Making It Up," which runs Thursday-Monday at the Venetian Hotel. The revue highlights his legendary music, dance and improv skills, for which he won an Emmy while appearing on "Whose Line is it Anyway?"
Brady, who also garnered two Emmys as outstanding talk show host for his self-titled syndicated talk show, will return to TV as host of Fox's hit show, "Don't Forget the Lyrics," this fall. Additionally, Brady has also appeared as Neil Patrick Harris's gay brother on "How I Met Your Mother," and Tina Fey's bad-luck boyfriend on "30 Rock."
Get an exclusive look at Wayne Brady in studio talking about his career and new album, "A Long Time Coming," in stores Sept 16:
1. Ordinary (Jack Kugell, Jamie Jones, Jason Pennock, Sarah Nagourney & Welford B.Walton II)
2. F.W.B. (Wayne Brady, Jamie Jones, Jack Kugell, Jason Pennock & Robert Daniels)
3. Can't Buy Me Love (Written by: John Lennon / Paul McCartney)
4. Back In The Day (Wayne Brady, Jamie Jones & Jack Kugell)
5. Sweetest Berry (Written by: Jamey Jaz / David Ryan Harris)
6. A Change Is Gonna Come (Written by: Sam Cooke)
7. I Ain't Movin' (Written by: Wayne Brady, Jamie Jones. Jack Kugell. Jason Pennock)
8. Make Heaven Wait (Written by: Jack Kugell. Jamie Jones. Jason Pennock, Martin Kember & David Garcia)
9. All Naturally (Written by: Jamie Jones, Jack Kugell & Jason Pennock)
10. All I Do (Written by: Clarence Paul, Morris Broadnax and Stevie Wonder)
11. Beautiful Ugly (Written by: M. Burton, Steve Kipner, Jack Kugell, Jamie Jones, Jason Pennock & Lamont Neuble)
12. You and Me (Written by: Wayne Brady, Jamie Jones & Jason Pennock)
A Long Time Coming - September 16
Peak Records / Concord Music Group
Mary J. Blige To
Spread 'Love' This Fall
(August 22, 2008) *Mary J. Blige is coming to a city near you this fall to promote her eighth studio album, "Growing Pains."
The Love Soul Tour, which features Robin Thicke and newcomer Dave Young as supporting acts, will kick off Sept. 13 in North Charleston, SC, and visit cities from coast to coast through mid-October.
The outing follows up Blige's spring excursion with Jay-Z on the "Heart of the City Tour," which also supported the December release of "Growing Pains."
As previously reported, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul has joined a dozen-plus female music stars to record "Just Stand Up," a charity single for the Stand Up to Cancer initiative to raise funds for cancer research. The song, produced by Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and Antonio "L.A." Reid, will be released to radio and will be available for purchase at Apple's iTunes store beginning Sept. 2.
An all-star television premiere of the tune will take place Sept. 5 when the ABC, CBS and NBC networks simultaneously devote an hour of commercial-free programming to the cause.
Below is the itinerary for The Love Soul Tour:
13 - North Charleston, SC - North Charleston Coliseum
19 - Virginia Beach , VA - Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater
20 - Bristow, VA - Nissan Pavilion
21 - Raleigh, NC - Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek
26 - Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center
27 - Charlotte, NC - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlotte
28 - Clarkston, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre
2 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
8 - Baltimore, MD - 1st Mariner Arena
10 - Sunrise, FL - BankAtlantic Center
11 - Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheatre
12 - Atlanta, GA - Lakewood Amphitheatre
14 - Chicago, IL - Arie Crown Theater
17 - Las Vegas, NV - Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort
18 - Concord, CA - Sleep Train Pavilion
Wyclef Pens Tune Honouring Venus
(August 25, 2008) *"Venus (I'm Ready)," a song written and performed by Wyclef Jean, is slated to premiere as Venus Williams' theme music during the 2008 US Open tennis tournament in Flushing, Queens, New York, running from Aug. 25 through Sept. 7.
The lyrics were "inspired by the spirit, character and prowess" of the recent Olympic gold medalist (with her sister Serena in the women's doubles) and reigning Wimbledon singles and doubles champion. (Listen to the song here.)
"Venus' determination and mental strength inspires me," said Wyclef Jean. "Much like Isis, her strength should be celebrated."
Clef met Williams when the two were paired for an upcoming episode of the Sundance Channel original television series "Iconoclasts," which brings together two leading innovators from different fields to discuss their passions and creative processes. Their episode is scheduled to premiere Nov. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
"I have been a fan of Wyclef's for many years, from his work with the Fugees to his success as a solo artist," said Williams. "He's a fantastic writer, singer, producer and performer whose music crosses genres and touches people's lives. I am specially impressed by Wyclef's dedication to humanitarian causes and his strong sense of character. I was so happy to meet Wyclef and work with him on our 'Iconoclasts' episode but not even in my wildest imagination, did I expect that such a beautiful song would be one of the outcomes from meeting Wyclef. He is an amazing human being and it is truly an honour for me to be recognized in such a wonderful way by such a gifted musician and exceptional person."
Drew-Mania: Is It Bigger Than Elvis?
Source: www.thestar.com - Roberta Avery, Special To The Star
(August 25, 2008) COLLINGWOOD–Drew Wright was largely unknown here before he auditioned for Canadian Idol.
Four months later, "Vote 4 Drew" T-shirts are worn all over town, there are giant Drew Wright billboards, posters in store windows and supportive words on businesses' outdoor signs.
"It's overwhelming. I'm caught up in a state of shock," said Wright, 28, a former house painter who's in Idol's top four, on his return to Collingwood on the weekend. Drew-mania has swept the Georgian Bay community known in part for its annual Elvis festival. "Even McDonald's has my sign. You hope you get the support from your hometown, you hope that the people will stand behind you, but I never expected anything like this," Wright said in an interview.
Wright had a loyal following around the local bar scene before Idol, but like many residents, Kathy Wolfe-Reynolds had never heard of him until she spotted "Vote 4 Drew" signs after he made it to the Top 16.
Now she is driving a "Drew-mobile."
"I decided to watch the show to see what it was all about and I was so impressed that I decided to put Drew graphics on my car if he made it to the Top 10, " said Wolfe-Reynolds, whose Pontiac Vibe sports two giant graphics.
Her friend Wendy Harris White has followed suit (she already had a very tenuous link to Wright: his father Ted was janitor at her children's school).
Harris White's car graphic brings the number of Drew-mobiles in town to four. The others are driven by Wright's uncle, Rick Graham, and family friend John Gabriele.
Gabriele and his family have spearheaded the "Vote 4 Drew" campaign since Wright made the Top 200, but even he's been surprised by the outpouring of support.
"The response from the community has been overwhelming," said Gabriele. "It started with just three of us and now Drew has 42 sponsors, and people are constantly calling me to ask what they can do to be part of this."
Starting before dawn on Friday, Gabriele and 53 volunteers set up a huge street party for Wright's return to Collingwood. The main street was closed, a giant stage and sound system set up, more than 10,000 envelopes stuffed with Wright memorabilia and a local grocery store began cooking "Drew burgers" on a giant barbecue.
By the time Wright – with his trademark beard shaved off for the visit – was escorted to the stage by Canadian soldiers from the Area Training Centre in nearby Meaford around 5 p.m., organizers estimated the crowd had topped 10,000, in a town with a population of 16,000.
"It's good to be home. Man, I feel like I've been gone for 10 years," said Wright before a rock concert that included covers of U2 and David Bowie songs.
Wright, who has been close to elimination for the last two weeks, thanked his fans for their support. "Do you have any idea what this means to me? I love each and every one of you and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
"I know my community is doing its part; it's the rest of Canada that I have to worry about," he said.
Wright's performance was far more animated than his TV appearances, with him climbing on top of the huge speakers and engaging the crowd in hand-clapping. At one point he took a sip from a bottle of water then tossed it to a group of screaming young girls in front of the stage who pushed each other out of the way to try to grab it.
Wright's long-time girlfriend Lindi Green wasn't fazed.
"I'm not one to be jealous. He needs his fans, they are the ones supporting him through this," she said.
Even Wright's dog Buster – a bijon poo – has become a celebrity. "Kids are always outside the house asking if they can pet Drew's dog," said Green.
Tonight he and the remaining Idol contestants – Mitch MacDonald of Port Hood, N.S., Earl Stevenson of Lloydminster, Alta., and Theo Tams of Lethbridge, Alta. – perform at 9 on CTV. Tomorrow, they will learn which three get to continue in the talent contest.
With tonight's appearance obviously weighing on his mind, Wright asked his fans to "do your part to get me through one more week."
Then he got on with enjoying the show. "Thank you for making this the best day of my life," he said.
Bands Find The Real Money Is In Concerts
Source: www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(August 24, 2008) If this year's rock concert touring roster smacks of déjà vu, with more than 30 acts in the Top 100 ticket sellers harking from the 1970s and early 1980s, it doesn't mean the concert business is losing steam.
Quite the contrary.
Despite the monsoon weather, rocketing gasoline prices and tickets that cost as much as a week's rent, the 2008 concert season in Canada has never been better, a leading industry expert reports.
"The Canadian concert business is very robust," says Gary Bongiovanni, chief editor of Pollstar, the California-based live music monitoring service and the concert industry's leading trade publication.
"Compared to the U.S. economy, Canada's is very strong, which is why Canadians may have seen more acts touring this summer than in past years. More artists are scheduling tours there because tickets are easier to sell than in the States."
In the list of Pollstar's Top 50 arena venues (based on ticket sales) for the first quarter of 2008, five are Canadian – Toronto's Air Canada Centre at No. 3 (after London's O2 Arena and the Manchester Evening News Arena); Montreal's Bell Centre at No. 4; Ottawa's Scotiabank Place at No. 32; the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont., at No. 39; and Hamilton's Copps Coliseum at No. 50.
And on its mid-year list of Top 100 concert grosses, Bon Jovi's three shows at the ACC in March are ranked at No. 4, with 100 per cent of tickets sold (56,011) and a gross take of $5,740,050 (U.S.), while the Spice Girls' two February shows at the ACC were at No. 18 (both sold out, with ticket sales of 30,196 and a gross of $3,262,968).
The Spice Girls' two March ACC shows were also on the Top 100 list at No. 25 (28,172 tickets sold, $3,063,933 gross) and Bryan Adams' February ACC show at No. 32 (13,042, $2,824,852).
Also on Pollstar's Top 100 concert gross for the first half of 2008 are Leonard Cohen's four June concerts at the Sony Centre of Performing Arts in Toronto, at No. 53 (12,591, $2,041,700), and Bruce Springsteen's March show at Copps Coliseum at No. 54 (18,229, $2,004,237).
Figures for July and August aren't yet published, but Bongiovanni says they support the consensus that "the live music scene is very bullish," particularly in Canada.
"With fuel prices at an all-time high and increased overheads caused by the sophisticated lighting, sound equipment and hocus pocus touring acts need these days, it's often more economical for them to route tours through Canada, rather than drive long distances between U.S. cities," he added.
And with retail recording sales, once the largest stream of musical revenue, at a historic low, more and more music acts – particularly mature acts with long-term radio resonance and hits going back 30 years or more – are making up the shortfall on the road.
"Twenty years ago you went on tour to sell records," Bongiovanni says. "Now you release a record to promote a tour and all that comes with it – the merchandise, downloads, ringtones – which is where the real money is. It's been a general rule in the music industry that when artists tour, the money goes to them; when they make records, it goes to the record companies."
But more and more acts are steering clear of conventional record deals, preferring to distribute their music independently on the Internet.
Touring is a way of promoting Internet sales and reclaiming lost sales revenue, he added. "You don't need a record company in the digital world."
And although most of the top-grossing acts on this year's touring roster are of a fine vintage – Bon Jovi, The Eagles, The Police, Springsteen, Cohen, Iron Maiden, Madonna, Metallica, ZZ Top, Judas Priest, The Who, Mötley Crüe and Jackson Browne are just a few examples – it would be a mistake to assume the audience for new live acts is shrinking, says Bongiovanni.
"For decades the concert business has been fuelled by acts that go back as far as the 1960s, with the exception of country music. These acts – James Taylor, Rush, Van Morrison (also big ticket items this season) – have always been the meat and potatoes of our business because they're part of a generation that grew up on rock music and radio and huge arena shows, and that audience is very loyal."
Astral Tests Virgin Branding
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Grant Robertson
(August 26, 2008) Richard Branson never saw a product he couldn't slap his brand on. From airlines to restaurants, cola to credit cards and health clubs to hotels, all have carried the banner for the billionaire entrepreneur's Virgin empire throughout the world.
Now Canadian radio is getting the Virgin treatment.
In a first for Mr. Branson's ever-growing business, his Virgin Radio division is entering the North American radio market through a deal with Astral Media Inc. that will see the Canadian company's top-40 station in Toronto fly the Virgin name, likely followed by stations in other markets across the country.
Astral will pay an undisclosed sum for the rights to use the Virgin name, and will get access to content such as syndicated shows and events such as live music festivals.
Toronto's Mix 99.9 station switched to Virgin Radio 999 yesterday, and the company will be watching to see if listeners tune in before taking the strategy across Canada.
"Our reaction right now is let's wait and see what happens in Toronto. And if that's positive, as we all expect it will be, we can look at other markets," said Jacques Parisien, president of Astral's radio division.
Mix 99.9 was one of 52 stations Montreal-based Astral picked up last year when bought Standard Broadcasting Ltd. for $1.1-billion, making it Canada's largest radio operator with 82 stations.
"The stations that we bought were good stations, were performing well, but not way up there," Mr. Parisien said.
"Our commitment was to energize them and make the investments appropriate for them to become leaders in their respective target groups."
Details of the agreement are confidential but it is believed the brand arrangement will last about 10 years.
Mr. Parisien said the cost of using the name fits within Astral's marketing budget and will not cut into profit margins, a number analysts watch closely.
The deal represents the latest foray into Canada for Virgin, after it began offering cellphones in 2005 and opened book and music stores in airports. It also sponsors the Virgin Music Festival, which makes several stops across the country. Its charity, Virgin Unite, is also active in Canada.
Despite those businesses, Canada is relatively unexplored territory, a Virgin executive said.
"If you went to the U.K. or Australia you would probably find 10 to 15 different Virgin businesses," said Andrew Black, chief executive officer of Virgin Mobile Canada, who is in charge of finding other branding ventures for Canada.
The Virgin Radio announcement comes as commercial radio revenues are growing in Canada. In a new report yesterday, Statistics Canada reported revenue for the industry grew 6 per cent last year to $1.5-billion. Of that, FM stations generated more than 78 per cent of ad revenues, and nearly 95 per cent of pretax profits for the industry.
Four's A Crowd On American Idol
Source: www.thestar.com - Erin Carlson, Associated Press
(August 26, 2008) NEW YORK–Scooching in between Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson sounds intimidating, if not a little scary.
But Kara DioGuardi, the newly installed fourth judge on American Idol, is confident she'll find her niche within the bickering, ratings-tested judges' panel where the line between love and hate is blurred with every critique.
"I'm just gonna speak to Simon the way I speak to everybody," DioGuardi told reporters during a teleconference yesterday. "I'm just gonna have my opinion, be honest and I don't foresee any problems. I'm really excited about this and up for the challenge."
The Grammy-nominated songwriter will make her debut when the eighth season of Idol premieres in January, the Fox network said yesterday.
"It's really flattering too, you know, to think that (Idol) even thought about me," she said. "I mean, when I got the call, I thought they were calling the wrong person. So I'm the new kid on the block and I'm hoping everyone's gonna go easy on me – and that I bring a lot to the table."
It's not yet clear how ties will be broken in the audition process; in past seasons, two out of three judges had to agree to advance aspiring stars to the Hollywood round. And something will have to give during a telecast that barely has enough time to fit in three judges' opinions.
DioGuardi, now the youngest Idol judge at 37, said she leads a "low-key" life. In that case, she'd do well to prepare for the instant celebrity that comes with appearing on the most popular – and lucrative – reality show on television.
Which brings the question: who is Kara DioGuardi?
"I'm maybe not a household name, but people know of me in the industry," said DioGuardi, who co-owns Los Angeles-based Arthouse Entertainment, which is now producing music by recent Idol runner-up David Archuleta.
DioGuardi's songs have been recorded by Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Céline Dion, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood and Pink, among others. Her recent Top-40 hits include Stefani's "Rich Girl," Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man," Clarkson's "Walk Away" and Dion's "Taking Chances."
In 2000, the New York-born songwriter and long-time friend Abdul co-wrote the dance tune "Spinning Around" for Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue.
Her TV experience includes appearing as a judge on the short-lived ABC reality series The One: Making a Music Star in 2006.
DioGuardi begins her Idol journey today during auditions in New York. It will be the judges' first time together in one room; DioGuardi said she only just met host/ringleader Ryan Seacrest yesterday morning.
"You'll have to see if there are fireworks tomorrow," she cooed in her smoky voice.
Which brings another question: why mess with chemistry that's working?
"We are turning the heat up on Idol this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges' table," said creator and executive producer Simon Fuller in a statement. "She is a smart, sassy lady, and one of America's most successful songwriters. We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show."
Executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz said a fourth judge isn't a new idea.
"We had originally intended for American Idol to have four judges," she said. "We've seen from our international series that having a fourth judge creates a dynamic that benefits both the contestants and the viewers."
DioGuardi plans to be a straight shooter. She wants to help contestants succeed, but she will be harsh when need be.
As an Idol viewer, she said she's disagreed with each judge at one point – although she admits that Cowell's criticism is generally "spot on." Some of her favourite past contestants were Clarkson and Season 7 finalist Brooke White.
Let the drama begin. In an interview with a Phoenix radio station yesterday, Abdul expressed concern about the change, saying she wondered whether the audience would accept the altered dynamics.
With files from the Los Angeles Times
Mass Exodus That Led To A Singular Epiphany
Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic
(August 27, 2008) The Phoenix is a venue that lacks ambiguity: with a small audience, it's a stinky cavern, devoid of ambience; but for a sold-out show, there's no better place to be cheek-by-jowl with likeminded fans in Massey Hall-competing acoustics.
Such was the case last spring when Jamaican native Stephen Marley made his Toronto solo debut. Rastas, hippies, frat boys and assorted others packed the hall to hear the second eldest of Bob Marley's seven sons.
Up to that point Stephen had been mostly noted as a producer. Though I was there in a professional capacity, to review the show, I would've gone anyway; but mostly out of curiosity since his rootsy reggae album Mind Control hadn't grown on me yet.
I was struck first that he started the show with some of his late father's classic tunes. All of the singing Marleys – and most reggae performers – include Bob Marley covers in their sets, typically after the midpoint. I appreciated Stephen's no-b.s. nod to the Marley mystique, and saw it less as a 35-year-old riding daddy's legendary coattails than an astute performer giving the people what they came for.
Stephen has been criticized for dipping into dad's catalogue to fashion dance remixes and rap collaborations for his brothers and others, but branding them with precision endings and modern grooves has introduced the King of Reggae to younger ears. And in spite of some questionable marketing strategies which they may or may not have had a say in – i.e. Bob Marley-themed resorts and accessories – the siblings are serious when it comes to the role of music.
With his own lyrics echoing the family's trademark call for unity, Stephen halted the concert to lecture: "They use politics and race and religion to divide us, (but) we are one people."
In fact, from his command of the driving 11-piece band and I Threes-esque backup singers, to his urgent vocals and own young son beside him dancing and waving a flag, it was easy to conjure those jealousy-generating tales of Bob Marley's late '70s Maple Leaf Gardens shows.
But it isn't a ghost that keeps me recalling that night: it was the encore, when Stephen and younger brother Damian (a billed guest who brought his dancehall flavour to the second half) were joined onstage by Canadian Somali rapper K'naan for Bob Marley's "Exodus."
Their rendition renewed my interest in the familiar tune.
The refrain of the song is "movement of Jah people" and it includes the lyrics "Open your eyes and look within/Are you satisfied with the life you're living?...We're leaving Babylon/We're going to our father's land."
It has a back-to-the-motherland connotation for the descendants of African slaves.
As I stood there watching the three men rapping and singing with hands linked I thought about the evolution of reggae and hip hop, of the immigrant's desire to belong, of the flimsiness of national pride and of the sons who must find their way without a father's roadmap.
But mostly I pondered the contemporary relevance of exodus, defined as the departure of a large group of people, usually for religious or political reasons. I'm fairly Afrocentric, but repatriation isn't on my to-do list. And what does exodus mean to someone like K'naan, who fled his African home for North America because of civil war?
I concluded – days later – that it comprises the individual quest for contentment and the responsibility we each have to improve our piece of the world using the tools at our disposal: raw talent, political aptitude, daddy's canon, etc.
High-minded pursuits to be sure, but it is nice to have a theme song.
With New Battery
(August 22, 2008) *Sony's BMG Label Group has announced the launch of its new urban imprint Battery Records, a label focused on reviving the practice of developing young talent. Battery's first round of budding artists spans the South: Sunny Valentine from Texas, Sir Will from Atlanta, and Nashville's Lil' Goonie, signed to Jive/Zomba. Additionally, Battery will accept established artists who are still viable in the marketplace but seek new situations that include non-traditional deal models. Neil Levine, the former head of Capitol Music Group's urban division, is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Battery Records, reporting to recently appointed BMG COO Ivan Gavin. Other tasks under the Battery banner include releasing material from the BMG catalogue, and overseeing the early-stage development of certain acts signed to labels such as RCA's J Records or Zomba's Jive Records. "This will provide a broader platform and offer a greater margin of success for our evolving urban artists and new artists in general," said Tom Carrabba, Zomba Label Group's executive vice president and general manager.
Best Guilty Pleasure
Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry
(August 24, 2008) It's not, my best friend patiently explained, that she didn't understand how I could yield intellectual stimulation from the Nawlins rapper's crass, nonsensical rhymes; it's that my feminist-leaning, highly moralizing self willingly waded through his tattooed, gold-toothed, slurring, sagging panted layers to find it. "You pushed R. Kelly out the house," she said, reminding me that I gave away my entire collection of the Chicago R&B singer when he was arrested on child pornography charges, "only to open the door to Lil Wayne." Yeah. Tha Carter III is gross and misogynistic, but also funny and smart. It's the album I've been bumping at the gym all summer. The one I play when I'm getting dressed for an evening out. The one I rush to lower the volume on when the doorbell rings. I guess I dig the odd couplets, theatricality and irreverence (he manages to compare himself to Nigerian hair and Hitler) more than I'm bothered by all the bitch references. I guess.
Madonna Just Getting Warmed Up
Source: www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(August 25, 2008) Even at 50, the queen of pop just can't stop courting controversy. As Madonna kicked off her international "Sticky and Sweet" tour in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday night, she took a none-too-subtle swipe at the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president. Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's authoritarian President Robert Mugabe – and U.S. Senator John McCain. Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed by climate activist Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama. The rest of the show had the usual Madonna fixtures: sequins, fishnets and bondage-style outfits drawn from the 3,500 items of clothing reportedly whipped together by 36 designers specifically for the tour. Dancers sauntered across stage in top hats and tail coats, and Madonna tried her hand at breakdancing and pole-dancing. Some 40,000 fans – many in pink cowboy hats and boas – were treated to a heavy-metal version of "Borderline," while "La Isla Bonita" served as backdrop for a flamenco routine. The show, billed as a musical mishmash of "gangsta pimp," Romanian folk, rave and dance, was an homage to Madonna's reinventions over three decades. Following Cardiff's opening concert, "Sticky and Sweet" moves across Europe, then North America in October – including a Toronto show Oct. 8 – before wrapping up Dec. 18 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Music Pick Of The Week: Bloc Party
Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar
(out of 4)
(August 26, 2008) On its third album after the middling sophomore effort A Weekend In the City, Bloc Party seems to have figured out what the people want and set about delivering it. Things don't start off too auspiciously, though. Kele Okereke has one of rock's distinct new voices, but as a teacher might advise, the man should remember to enunciate. On the first song "Ares" – whose drumbeat is a pretty straight rip off of Prodigy's "Firestarter" – the first words out of his mouth are "War, War, War, War," but come out as "wawawawa." What? The song does pick up with the bustlingly noisy "We dance to the sirens" chorus. Intimacy comes out Oct. 28 on disc, but people who pre-ordered got digital versions of the songs as of Aug. 21 (and many purchasers immediately uploaded it onto a file sharing network near you!). Those fans have been reminded of the most amusing thing about Bloc Party. Okereke's urgent vocals and giving shout-outs to gods in song titles ("Ares," "Mercury," "Zephyrus" – hmm, did someone study classics?) suggest the band might actually have something to say, but really there's not much there there. It's all about the ladies and breakups – with a couple of good kiss-off lines like "I can be as cruel as you" like in "One Month Off." There isn't a lot of new ground broken here, with the best songs echoing others from their catalogue – album closer "Ion Square" is "I Still Remember" recast – but the trademark fuzzy guitars, yelp-y vocals and the electronic touches are put together well. Not as good as their breathtaking debut, but much better than their melancholy second. Top Tracks: "Halo," "Trojan Horse" and "Signs."
From Grief To Laughter In A Few Short Minutes
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(August 25, 2008) Martha Burns and Susan Coyne - seasoned veterans of Canada's theatrical, film and television scene - had no idea until last January that making a 17-minute film could be so damn hard. Or so much fun.
Granted the subject matter was not exactly an easy slog. Grief - with all its nuances and ramifications - is not usually a laughing matter. But these women, who met 40 years ago in their hometown of Winnipeg, have managed to co-write and co-direct a debut short, entitled How Are You?, that is both deadly serious, and seriously funny.
It's this beguiling mix that caught the attention of the programmers at the Toronto International Film Festival, and landed these women and their film a coveted spot in the Short Cuts Canada program.
Burns and Coyne came up with the idea of exploring the rather taboo topic of grief and loss a few years ago. They mapped out a script on car trips, in airports and while killing time in their trailers on the set of the acclaimed TV series Slings & Arrows, in which they co-starred.
"It actually took us a really long time to write 17 pages," says Burns, seated beside Coyne on a sofa in her Annex-neighbourhood home, which she shares with her husband Paul Gross and two teenage kids. "But we had never done a film before and we had a story to tell. And we both wanted a challenge in our lives as we approached a certain age.
"But filming, it is another thing. And we didn't realize we'd set ourselves a monumental challenge. It's funny, though, when we started to tell people we'd actually written this film - a comedy about grief - some people looked alarmed. I guess because they're afraid of a grief that's too terrible to laugh at. But most of the women we spoke to had a look of instant recognition on their face. Their response was just to burst into laughter. That was really interesting."
But the hurdles the women encountered making their first film did not turn them off. In fact, it only made them hungrier to do more, and to push the concept of a collaborative short a whole lot further.
So over coffee, they lay out an ambitious plan for a new project - called Little Films about Big Moments, set to shoot in January - that involves nine emerging filmmakers (Burns and Coyne included) matched with nine seasoned mentors (such as Sarah Polley, Bruce McDonald, Guy Maddin) to make an anthology of shorts that will be melded together into one-hour feature. This time, Coyne explains, the theme is about those big moments in life - "the moments when the penny drops, when a decision is made, when something becomes clear. Or maybe a little too clear."
And they've assembled a cast of Canadian professionals - from actors, editors, production designers, producers and artists from others areas in film - who will all get a chance to try their hand at an aspect of their craft they've never attempted before.
Getting the pieces of the puzzle to fit together has required countless roundtable sessions in Burns's kitchen. But the process, she and Coyne insist, has been invigorating. "These people are all doing something new for the first time. They're all slightly nervous, but it was wonderful watching people take those leaps of faith," says Coyne. "It was inspiring to watch people learning from others. Ultimately, we hope this project inspires other people - of any age - to try something new."
Adds Burns: "Our little film, How Are You?, is really a film full of recognizable moments. And when we were making it, we kept hearing from people like our producer Sonya di Rienzo [Flamenco at 5:15] or the sound person, or someone in makeup or hair who said they would love to make a film about a pivotal, life-changing moment. And we started to think wouldn't it be a great idea for all these people to work on individual films. And then parcel them together in a mosaic that reflects real-life moments of enlightenment amongst the filmmakers."
The role of the mentors will be to ask provocative questions and suggest new ways of thinking and seeing, explains Burns, whose mentor is Cynthia Scott (Flamenco at 5:15 and Strangers in Good Company).
A 10th short will document the learning experiences of the filmmakers from the first story meetings to post-production. Everyone involved - and there are scores of others (Gross, Semi Chellas, Peter Wellington, Phillip Barker, John L'Ecuyer, Susan Shipton and Sari Friedland) - will mentor those in their areas of expertise. Some of the participants will be new to directing, design, editing or producing.
"The difficulty of short films, of course, is that the ramp-up is so huge for three days of filming," adds Coyne. "To get a whole film crew together, and raise the money. The idea here is to pool our resources and be able to film the shorts over two weeks, using the same director of photography (David Franco), and the same crew. So it seems like a smart idea, actually. Just the process of filling out applications is so daunting for some people. The producers in our group are able to help with that. It just helps people get up to speed much faster."
Gross and Friedland will mentor the producing team. Chellas (writer/producer of The Eleventh Hour and the upcoming TV movie Of Murder and Memory) and Coyne are the story editors. Barker (production designer of Adoration and Redacted) will oversee the nine films. Christopher Donaldson (Century Hotel), Shipton (Adoration) and David Wharnsby (Away from Her) will edit.
"They say everyone has a novel in them, but not many people have time to write a novel," observes Coyne, who is separated from her husband Albert Schultz, a co-founder with Burns and Coyne of Soulpepper Theatre Company. "But I actually think everyone has a short film in them. Making it, however, is a very difficult discipline. To narrow it down to 10 minutes or three, has its own challenges. This is an opportunity to really get this kind of experience, in microcosm."
They also plan to invite recent graduates of Humber College to work as interns.
Burns and Coyne met as children, vacationing at family cottages at Lake of the Woods, in Kenora, Ont. "We became close friends during acting," Burns says. "How Are You? evolved out of conversations we shared with each other, our friends and acquaintances. We decided to take the leap into unknown territory for the simple reason we've reached an age, and point in our lives, when we needed a new challenge."
Set in Toronto, How Are You? is the story of Olivia Kay (played by Coyne) who has recently split from her long-time husband and is trying to get through Valentine's Day while enduring a series of awkward encounters with friends who ask the inevitable question - "So, how are you?" - but never wait to hear her answer.
"This film is about a certain kind of grief that we all have to deal with at a certain age," says Coyne. "When you're in your 20s, you think, wow, that's not going to happen to me. But then we reach a certain age - maybe it's your 30s or your 40s - when you realize, oh, I'm part of that too. Grief is now part of my story. So How Are You? is about a turning point where you have to figure out how to go forward from here."
The two women called on long-time collaborators and friends for roles in their short, which features Tom McCamus (Shake Hands with the Devil), Kristen Thomson (Away from Her), Bob Martin (Slings & Arrows), Chick Reid (Don't Think Twice) and Sharon McFarlane.
"Shorts often end up just being seen by people who go to film festivals or film school," says Coyne. "With Little Films About Big Moments, we want to invite Canadians to engage in a conversation. Step outside the box. Martha and I didn't go to film school. We didn't get any of the right training. But we figure the best substitute for that is probably to just go do it. We're both life-long learners, so it was wonderful to get our hands on the machinery and see how it works."
Can A Mega-Studio Lure Hollywood Back North?
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Jamie Komarnicki
(August 21, 2008) Toronto's film industry champions rose from directors' chairs perched in front of the city's new mega-studio yesterday and opened their arms to Batman, the Terminator and Harry Potter.
But Filmport, designed to lure big-budget Hollywood features, officially opened without any of the blockbuster films it craves signed up to break in its seven new sound stages. In fact, the centre's debut comes at a time when Hollywood North's bright lights have dimmed to a flicker.
Filmport's gem is Stage 4, a gaping cavern of highly insulated space supported by red flying buttresses on the outside. At 45,900 square feet, it is reportedly North America's largest purpose-built sound stage - a place to make the multimillion-dollar movies that industry officials say pass over Toronto for lack of space.
"You open the door to one of those studios and all you see is the big empty space - what's the big deal?" acclaimed Toronto director David Cronenberg said at the opening of Filmport's first phase.
"For me, it gets the creative juices going. ... The mega-stage is my Notre Dame, my cathedral. I plan to worship there regularly."
Still, with the threat of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild drying up work from south of the border, Toronto's film industry - hit by 2003's SARS outbreak, the soaring loonie and a flurry of tax credits in competing jurisdictions in North America - is struggling to regain its lustre.
Last year, production companies spent $791-million filming on location in Toronto - a 7.3-per-cent increase over 2006, but a long way from 2000's peak of $1.3-billion, according to city hall's film and television office. And the first half of this year looks even grimmer, Filmport officials said.
"We know we're going to go through a tough time for a while," said Filmport president Ken Ferguson. "Even when times are tough, the film industry does tend to get through hard times. We're very confident we'll get our share."
Dwindling work from the U.S. is one of the largest concerns, said Paul Bronfman, president of the Comweb Group, a partner with majority-owner Rose Corp., in Filmport. Big-name blockbusters are getting bottlenecked at the source as directors wait out the SAG labour issues, he said.
"The temperature is bad and really bad," Mr. Bronfman said. But if Toronto can wait it out, he added, the facility will help Canada regain its competitive edge.
In the past, Toronto's allure was in the wallet, Mr. Ferguson said. The city appealed to made-for-TV movies and low-budget films that could shoot in warehouses or on the streets. But Filmport's hope is that Toronto can face off with Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver to draw big-name films.
Certainly the city will see its share of star power next month when the Toronto International Film Festival attracts crowds of industry celebrities, many of whom might take note of the new facility. "The city's just hopping in September," said Rhonda Silverstone, Toronto Film and Television Office manager.
Karl Pruner, the Toronto president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, said he's looking forward to using the Filmport stages for Canadian productions, though many productions are currently starved for cash.
When work starts flowing again from the U.S., big pictures in town will keep local performers and background workers busy, he said.
Filmport sits on a former petroleum storage site, prime waterfront land east of the Don River and south of Lake Shore Boulevard, purchased by Toronto Economic Development Corp. (TEDCO) and leased to Filmport.
Eventually, the estimated $700-million project is intended to be an industry hub. The 47-acre lot is expected to house film and television companies, union and guild offices, film schools, restaurants and shops.
"Five years ago where we stand today was essentially a wasteland," Toronto Mayor David Miller said yesterday. "Five years from today, Filmport will be the epicentre of the creative economy of Toronto and will have put us very clearly in our rightful place on the world stage."
Critics argue that with the pending shutdown of Toronto Film Studios' property at 629 Eastern Ave. and the eviction of Cinespace from its Queens Quay location last year, the total amount of studio space in Toronto has actually shrunk.
But proponents of the mega-studio say it fills a long-standing hole in the industry.
"That's what this entire studio is about is filling a gap and creating this kind of space where there are no compromises and everything is perfect for the large blockbuster films," said TEDCO president Jeffrey Steiner. "That's what Hollywood has asked Toronto to make sure we have."
Devon On Earth
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(August 22, 2008) At 16, Toronto's Devon Bostick is a child actor in that deliciously awkward stage of being all big feet and boyish bravado.
Lanky and lean, the relatively unknown star of Atom Egoyan's upcoming film Adoration is, by turns, an old soul and an adolescent with a propensity for fidgeting – constantly combing long fingers through his tousled brown hair, checking his reflection in a window, and tugging on a rope necklace around his tanned neck.
Sitting this past week at a noisy café patio in downtown Toronto, the teenager – who is making his fifth trip to the Toronto International Film Festival next month, in Egoyan's company – says he assumed, after a three-month audition process, that he had lost the lead role in the director's $5.5-million feature, which in May was a Palme d'Or contender at Cannes. (It opens here and in the United States in February.)
“I'd auditioned about seven times, and Atom finally called to say, ‘You're doing well. You're our first choice. But I'm going to the United States to check out some other people,' ” recalls Bostick, who started acting at 10, and has recently appeared in Jeremy Podeswa's Fugitive Pieces, Kari Skogland's The Stone Angel and will soon have a recurring role in the new CBC drama The Session, airing in January.
“I thought I was sunk, that he'd go with an American. When my agent called to say I'd actually got the part, I was shocked. Adoration has been the hardest, and most rewarding, project I've done so far. I learned so much.”
Egoyan, a meticulous director who thinks and rethinks every word of a script, says Bostick was always his No. 1 pick. Still, he felt compelled to cast the net wider for his 11th feature film (his eighth at Cannes) to make sure he was leaving nothing to chance.
“I don't think I've been on a casting search for an unknown this wide, perhaps, since Felicia's Journey, when we found Elaine Cassidy [who hails from County Wicklow, Ireland]. We looked across the country. We looked at hundreds of kids, coming from everywhere. But Devon, in the end, felt absolutely right,” says the two-time Oscar nominee.
“He has a very particular energy,” adds Egoyan. “He's very bright, but there's also a quality to him that is unpredictable yet compelling. He's not too smart for his own good, and yet he reads with intelligence. That was crucial for this role. I felt if the character in any way seemed to understand the implications of what he was doing, the tone of the film would have been wildly different.”
By last fall, Egoyan had chosen his entire cast, which includes Scott Speedman, Rachel Blanchard and Arsinée Khanjian. Everyone, that is, except for the all-important adolescent, named Simon, whose parents are dead and who is being raised by his older brother, Tom (Speedman).
The complex storyline goes something like this: In high-school French class, Simon's teacher, Sabine (Khanjian), asks her students to translate from French to English a news story about a Middle Eastern terrorist who hid a bomb in his pregnant girlfriend's luggage.
Simon takes the assignment a step further, and weaves a tale in which he imagines himself as the child of a father who had tried to kill his pregnant wife. The story makes its way onto the Internet, where other students, parents and school officials assume it's fact, not fiction.
Egoyan then uses such issues as cross-cultural miscommunication and the pervasiveness of technology, against a backdrop of global terrorism, to piece together a cinematic montage about a young man who reinvents his life on the World Wide Web.
“Devon is able to hold an extraordinary emotional reservoir,” says Egoyan, not usually an overly effusive type. “A lot of kids are very used to the performing aspects of their personality, which can become quite cloying at a certain point. But there was something very genuine about him.”
Bostick, who spends his free time playing hacky sack and longboarding with pals in Toronto's Greektown, appears poised to catapult into a new cinematic sphere. Recently named one of Playback Magazine's Next 25 (a list of hot emerging Canadian talent), Bostick is also in the upcoming Second World War drama, The Poet, with Roy Scheider and Colm Feore. This summer alone he's been called to New York four times to audition for independent films.
But the actor – nervous glances at his reflection in the café window aside – has little ego and seems remarkably grounded. In a crumpled blue shirt, baggy jeans, and Converse runners (no laces), he said he still finds it hard to believe that the whole Cannes experience – the red carpet, the media glare, the standing ovation when Adoration's cast walked into the theatre – actually happened.
“It feels like a dream. It was crazy,” says Bostick, who in two weeks' time will juggle TIFF with the start of Grade 12 at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, in west-end Toronto. “The part that made me all messed up and all jittery was all the interviews and the press,” he adds. “That really took me out of my element. It's weird being on the spot. I remember walking the red carpet and looking up at the big screen, and thinking, ‘Hey, I am walking.' It was so surreal. Once the trip ended, I was like, ‘Did I just do that?' It never really registered. It all just went by so fast.”
His acting chops, he figures, are in the family genes. His mother is Toronto-based casting director Stephanie Gorin. His dad is actor Joe Bostick ( Lars and the Real Girl). His younger brother Jesse has been cast in such television shows as The Murdoch Mysteries, and also has a role in The Poet. And his grandparents have appeared as extras on sets around town.
“We have the whole family going. We could make an army,” says Bostick, whose mom is English and dad is Norwegian. “Yes, I'm part Viking,” he observes with a grin.
Having grown up in that milieu, Bostick knows that the life of an actor isn't always peachy, and that money can be tight. “But I want to do it because I get a feeling that I don't really get from anything else. And the final product is always worth it.”
From Grades 1 to 6, Bostick went to children's theatre camp. He then dabbled in some commercial work, but didn't like that much: “I like the subtleties I get to play in film and TV roles; commercials are far from that. Maybe I'll do more of that kind of work when I get older and actually need the money to live on my own.”
John Buchan, head of talent with CBC's arts-and-entertainment division, who cast Bostick in The Session, figures the young man's onscreen appeal is part and parcel of “growing up in a show-business family. Through osmosis, you pick it up. He's clearly a bright kid, too,” says Buchan, “and he knows the ins and outs of the business. He's very pragmatic about it.”
The Session is a drama that Bostick describes as “ Quantum Leap, but therapy-style.” In the 13 episodes ordered so far, Erin Karpluk plays a woman who can go back in time and relive moments from her past with the help of a mysterious therapist (Michael Riley). Bostick plays the woman's dead brother.
Jason Knight, Buchan's right-hand man and a casting consultant at the CBC, says they wanted an actor who could bring “a haunted, tragic quality” to the part. “It's a person whose life was cut short, so when we first see him in The Session, the lead character has travelled back to the past and sees her brother. It needed to be a moment where there's an instant moment of incredible connection between the two. Devon has a real depth as an actor. He's an old soul, so he can tap into that kind of expression very easily.”
Bostick's first, albeit small, break was a lead in Michael Mabbott's 2006 comedy Citizen Duane, a film with quirky potential that fizzled at the box office. “That got me to the Toronto film festival the first time,” he recalls. “Again they were looking for someone completely different. I did my audition involving mime. It was completely wacko and something I would never do again. I don't know what caught their attention. But I do know the director was actually afraid of having me on set if I actually acted like that. It was a big worry.”
So what does as a 16-year-old wunderkind like to do besides act, and terrorize his neighbourhood on his longboard? Bostick thinks for a minute, then offers a cheeky smile. “Cake. Ice-cream cake. Skor flavoured. Those Dairy Queen ones.”
Clearly, this is still a bright kid growing into a man's body.
Tura Satana Talks Toughness
Source: www.thestar.com - Matthew Hays, Special To The Star
(August 24, 2008) At 73, Tura Satana still finds herself answering questions about Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, the 1965 cult movie she made with director Russ Meyer. The film had Satana playing one of three scheming strippers, who devise a kidnapping plan to hoard a hefty ransom. Faster, Pussycat opened to little notice, but became rediscovered by fans and critics who appreciated that these three women knew martial arts and beat the heck out of the male characters in the film. The feature's legion of fans include John Waters and Quentin Tarantino.
The cult heroine, former exotic dancer and onetime resident of a detention camp for Japanese-Americans during World War Two is now a grandmother living in Reno. Satana found time to talk from her home before her busy Toronto weekend – an evening in her honour Friday at the Bloor Cinema, and appearances today as part of the Festival of Fear, Rue Morgue magazine's end of the Fan Expo.
When you were making Faster, Pussycat, did you have any idea how resilient it would be?
At the time, when I first read the script, I didn't think it would cause quite that much of a stir. For the first 10 years, it was just buried. But when it came out, I knew it was a film well before its time. I knew a lot of people would resent it. Early on, men resented it. But since then they've become huge fans. ... I never did imagine that it would last this long though.
When I interviewed Russ Meyer, he said it was a feminist film before its time.
He used to say that. I don't know if it's a feminist film, as much as it's just one for independence. Russ was very strange with some of the things that he came up with. But Faster was different from any of his other films. It didn't have any nudity. There were no hot and heavy sex scenes. We were in the hay at one point but you had to use your imagination. A woman, like my character, was able to show the male species that we're not helpless and not entirely dependent on them. People picked up on the fact that women could be gorgeous and sexy and still kick ass.
You've said that Meyer gave you a lot of creative room in the role.
Oh yes. The original script was written in dialogue that better suited the '40s or '50s. A lot of the dialogue wouldn't fit in for the '60s. I told him that I wouldn't say some of that dialogue even if you put a gun to my head. So he said, `What would you say?' I threw a few lines at him, and he said, `Hey, that's cool! Go for it!'
Do you think things have changed for women in Hollywood?
Not very much. They're still very sexist. Now you have women who can do some things, but they use a lot of special effects. It's not a woman really being strong or tough. ...
Do you see films today where you see the influence of Faster, Pussycat?
I think with Thelma & Louise we had an influence. It showed where women could be – tough and vengeful even. I love the Kill Bill films. Tarantino was once asked if he'd remake Faster, Pussycat, and he said `You can't improve on perfection.' I'd love to work with him one day.
You have a lot of loyal gay fans.
Yes, gay men love me. I have a lot of gay male friends, too. I think they know that there's no competition between us over anyone else, so that makes it easy.
Tura Satana appears today at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. See www.rue-morgue.com.
Bollywood Film Sparks Harry Potter Lawsuit
Source: www.thestar.com - Ramola Talwar Badam, The Associated Press
(August 26, 2008) MUMBAI, India–Let's see Hari Puttar get out of this one.
Bollywood producers set to release a film called "Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors" are working to fend off a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros. that claims the movie title hews too closely to their mega-famous boy wizard franchise.
While Bollywood films often borrow liberally from Western movies, producers of "Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors" say their movie bears no resemblance to any film in the "Harry Potter'' series.
"There is absolutely nothing to link 'Hari Puttar' with 'Harry Potter,'" said Munish Purii, chief executive officer of Mumbai-based producer Mirchi Movies. Hari is a common name in India and "puttar" is Punabji for son, he said.
"Even if it does rhyme with Harry Potter, surely there is a limit to cases?" said Tarun Adarsh, editor of Trade Guide magazine.
The film is not a tale of wizard spells or flying broomsticks, but rather a story of an Indian boy left home alone, who fights off burglars when his parents go away on vacation – a plot more reminiscent of the film "Home Alone," starring Macaulay Culkin.
Warner Bros. is seeking an injunction against the film, which is set for release Sept. 12. Hearings began Monday and the next is scheduled for Sept. 2.
Warner Bros. spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln confirmed that the company has filed a lawsuit against the producers of "Hari Puttar.''
"Warner Bros. values and protects intellectual property rights. However, it is our policy not to discuss publicly the details of any ongoing litigation," Lincoln said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
F. Gary Gray To Tackle Urban 'Julius Caesar'
(August 21, 2008) *F. Gary Gray is attached to direct an adaptation of the Oni Press graphic novel "Julius," a contemporary urban crime adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "Julius Caesar." According to Variety, Mandalay president Cathy Schulman said Gray "has a vision for this adaptation that will satirize obsessive consumerism while providing a thrilling ride for audiences." "Julius" is written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Brett Weldele. The film adaptation is the latest Oni project to be set up for the bigscreen. Other titles in various stages of development include "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," currently in pre-production with Edgar Wright helming and Michael Cera starring, at Universal; "Resurrection" at U; "Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things" and "The Damned" at DreamWorks; and "Maintenance" and "Billy Smoke" at Warner Bros. Gray’s directing credits include "The Italian Job" and "The Negotiator."
Latifah To Chair Urbanworld Film Fest
(August 21, 2008) *The Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks, announced that Academy Award-nominated actress Queen Latifah will serve as Honorary Chair of this year's festival. Dedicated to the exhibition of independent and mainstream cinema by and about people of color, Urbanworld also announced it will screen 85 films at this year's festival in New York City from Sept. 10-14. All festival screenings will be held at the AMC Loews 34th Street Theaters. The 2008 slate will culminate in the special closing night screening of "The Secret Life of Bees," followed by a Q&A with talent from the film including Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo ("Hotel Rwanda"), and screenwriter/director Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Love & Basketball"). "I am thrilled to be the honorary chair of the Urbanworld Film Festival this year," said Queen Latifah. "It is an important and exciting festival and the perfect place to showcase my new film The Secret Life of Bees." The five-day festival includes feature, documentary, and short film screenings, as well as panel discussions, live staged screenplay readings and the celebrated Actor's Spotlight, featuring Queen Latifah and to be aired on BET, with previous honourees including Vondie Curtis Hall, Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Dee Williams and Rosie Perez. For more information about the 2008 Urbanworld Film Festival presented by BET Networks, please visit or http://www.urbanworld.org/ or http://www.bet.com/urbanworld.
George Clooney And Brad Pitt Plan A Little Charity Work
Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(August 27, 2008) VENICE, ITALY–George Clooney and Brad Pitt, whose schedule now includes the care of newborn twins, were expected to make two appearances at the Venice Film Festival this week. The Hollywood stars were slated to appear last night at a fundraising event for their charity, Not On Our Watch. Then they were to return to the red carpet today when the Coen brothers film Burn After Reading opens the 65th edition of the festival, which runs through Sept. 6. Pitt's partner, Angelina Jolie, gave birth last month to twins, Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt. The couple also have four older children: Maddox, 7, Pax, 4, Zahara, 3, and Shiloh, 2. Not On Our Watch has raised more than $7 million (U.S.) to help victims both of the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan and the cyclone in Burma, says executive director Alex Wagner. The charity, which was launched last year by the stars and some of their Ocean's Thirteen colleagues, uses their star appeal to bring attention to human rights abuses, but it isn't so easy to get even two of the founders together due to filming and family demands, Wagner said. "Scheduling is very difficult. Two of them happened to be in Venice at the same time because of the Burn After Reading premiere ... so there was a brainstorming session," she said. Clooney will discuss the issues and where the charity puts its money at the fundraising dinner on Venice's Giudecca island, which will be attended by some 200 industry insiders and Italian VIPs, Wagner said. Among the group's donations was a $500,000 grant in March to keep helicopters and airplanes flying aid into Darfur.
14 Gemini Nominations For Murdoch Mysteries
Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter
(August 27, 2008) Period dramas and mystery series led the pack in 2008 Gemini Award nominees, with Durham County, The Tudors and the miniseries The Englishman's Boy at the top of the heap. With those criteria in mind, it makes sense that Murdoch Mysteries, a period whodunit series set in 1895 Toronto, led them all with 14 nominations.
"I am real surprised by how well it did. To actually see we beat out Durham County, which is a show I have a lot of admiration for, was something, but then to see we beat out The Tudors. Wow. I mean, it's really great," says Christina Jennings, executive producer for the series at Shaftsbury Films. "Especially when you are in the middle of shooting the second season, it's such a big jolt for the crew and the cast."
Jennings said champagne was on its way to the set at Toronto Film Studios. The 14 nominations include Best Dramatic Series, Best Writing in Dramatic Series, Best Photography in Drama, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Music Score. The series also captured eight acting nominations, with all in the supporting or guest role categories.
Airing on Citytv, the show was shot in Toronto, Hamilton and Cambridge, Ont., and Jennings is particularly gratified that the visual effects crew got recognized.
"When you set out to do a series set in Toronto in 1895, the first things you say is, `Well, there's not a lot of 1895 left in Toronto.' And I think (our visual effects team) pulled it off beautifully."
Murdoch Mysteries is something of a proto-CSI, with the lead character, Det. William Murdoch, played by Yannick Bisson, portrayed as a forward thinking man in an earlier age. He often turns to new science to help solve cases, which allows the show to winkingly pay homage to the future.
"If you like shows like CSI, and you want to figure out where something like the lie detector came from, well, it actually came from the Victorian era," she says. "He's way ahead of his time, which is a fabulous thing to play as comedy, because some people think he's nuts."
If there was a bit of disappointment, Jennings admits it's unfortunate that Bisson did not get a nomination.
"It's really hard to lead the pack and be the guy who comes in day after day, works the longest hours, leads the cast and crew, and Yannick is the most wonderful man, and then for him not to get recognized? Yes, that was a disappointment."
Nominees In Major Categories For The 23rd Gemini Awards
Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
Best Animated Program or Series:
"Chop Socky Chooks," (Decode Entertainment Inc., 2006 Aardman Animations Limited, CSC Productions Inc.) Miles Bullough, Neil Court, Steven DeNure, Pete Lord, Dave Sproxton, Beth Stevenson, Jacqueline White.
"Leon in Wintertime," (Folimage, National Film Board of Canada) Emmanuel Bernard, Marie-Josee Corbeil, Christine Cote, Pascal Le Notre.
"Ruby Gloom," (Nelvana Limited) Scott Dyer, Pam Lehn, Doug Murphy, Merle Anne Ridley, Rita Street.
"Storm Hawks," (Nerd Corps Productions V.I. Inc.) Asaph Fipke, Ken Faier, Chuck Johnson.
"Total Drama Island," (Fresh TV Inc.) Tom McGillis, George Elliott, Brian Irving, Jennifer Pertsch
Best Biography Documentary Program:
"Captain Cook: Taking Command," (Ferns Productions Inc., Cook Films PTY (Australia), South Pacific Pictures (NZ), Film Australia) Andrew Ferns, W. Paterson Ferns.
"Citizen Sam," (National Film Board of Canada) Tracey Friesen, Rina Fraticelli.
"Confessions of an Innocent Man," (Paperny Films Inc.) David Paperny, Tracey Friesen, Trevor Hodgson, Terence McKeown, Cal Shumiatcher.
"Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues," (Soapbox Productions) Nick Orchard, Corby Coffin.
"Lovable," (Primitive Entertainment Inc.) Michael McMahon, Kristina McLaughlin.
Best Children's or Youth Fiction Program or Series:
"Degrassi: The Next Generation," (Epitome Pictures Inc.) Linda Schuyler, David Lowe, Stephen Stohn, Stephanie Williams, Brendon Yorke
"Instant Star," (Epitome Pictures Inc.) Linda Schuyler, David Lowe, Stephen Stohn, Stephanie Williams.
"TVO Kids: Tumble Town Tales," (TVOntario) Marney Malabar, Steve Diguer, Patricia Ellingson, Phil McCordic.
Best Children's or Youth Non-Fiction Program or Series:
"The Adrenaline Project," (marblemedia) Matthew Hornburg, Mark Bishop, Roberta Pazdro.
"Drug Class," (Cooper Rock Pictures Inc.) Lori Kuffner.
"Ghost Trackers," (CCI Entertainment) Jim Corston.
"Heads Up!," (Trailer Park Productions, National Film Board of Canada) Barrie Dunn, Annette Clarke.
"Prank Patrol," (Apartment 11 Productions) Jonathan Finkelstein, Maryke McEwen.
Best Comedy Program or Series:
"Cock'd Gunns," (Tricon Films & Television) Andrea Gorfolova, Brooks Gray, Andy King, Shaam Makan, Leo Scherman, Morgan Waters.
"Corner Gas," (Prairie Pants Productions Inc., Verite Films, 335 Productions) David Storey, Brent Butt, Mark Farrell, Virginia Thompson, Kevin White.
"Kenny vs. Spenny," (Breakthrough Films & Television, Blueprint Entertainment) Ira Levy, Abby Finer, Noreen Halpern, Kenny Hotz, Amy Marcella, John Morayniss, Trey Parker, Spencer Rice, Kirsten Scollie, Matt Stone, Peter Williamson.
"Odd Job Jack," (Smiley Guy Studios) Jonas Diamond, Adrian Carter, Jeremy Diamond, Denny Silverthorne.
"Rent-A-Goalie," (RAG-TV-2 Inc.) Chris Szarka, Christopher Bolton
"This Hour Has 22 Minutes," (Hour Productions XV Inc.) Michael Donovan, Geoff D'Eon, Mark Farrell, Jack Kellum, Susan MacDonald, Jenipher Ritchie.
Best Cross Platform Project:
"www.oddjobjack.com," (Smiley Guy Studios) Jonas Diamond, Adrian Carter, Jeremy Diamond, Denny Silverthorne.
"Anash Interactive," (Reel Girls Media) Ava Karvonen
"Race to Mars Interactive," (Quick Play Media, Quickplay Media, Galafilm Inc.) Richard Lachman, Raja Khanna.
"The Border Interactive," (White Pine Pictures, Stitch Media) Peter Raymont, Julia Bennett, Evan Jones.
"www.urbanvermin.com," (Decode Entertainment Inc.) Beth Stevenson, Diana Arruda, Clem Hobbs, Anne Loi.
Best Documentary Series:
"CBC News: The Lens," (CBC Newsworld) Andrew Johnson, Charlotte Odele, Catherine Olsen, Angelina Stokman.
"The Dark Years," (Barna-Alper Productions Inc.) Laszlo Barna, Steven Silver.
"Diamond Road," (Kensington Communications Inc.) Robert Lang
"The Nature of Things," (CBC) Michael Allder
"The View From Here," (TVO) Jane Jankovic
Best Dramatic Mini-Series:
"Across the River to Motor City," (Across the River Productions Ltd.) Robert Wertheimer, David Devine, Richard Mozer.
"The Englishman's Boy," (Minds Eye Entertainment) Kevin DeWalt
"Would Be Kings," (Norstar Filmed Entertainment) Ilana Frank, Tassie Cameron, Daphne Park, Ray Sager, Peter Simpson, Esta Spalding, David Wellington.
Best Dramatic Series:
"The Border," (White Pine Pictures) Peter Raymont, David Barlow, Brian Dennis, Janet MacLean.
"Durham County," (Back Alley Film Productions Ltd. /Muse Entertainment Ent. Inc.) Janis Lundman, Adrienne Mitchell, Michael Prupas.
"Intelligence," (Watcher Films) Chris Haddock, Laura Lightbown, Arvi Liimatainen.
"Murdoch Mysteries," (Shaftesbury Films Inc.) Christina Jennings, Cal Coons, Scott Garvie, Noel Hedges, Jan Peter Meyboom.
"The Tudors ," (Peace Arch Television Ltd., PA Tudors Inc., TM Productions) Sheila Hockin, Morgan O'Sullivan.
Best General/Human Interest Series:
"Fish Out of Water," (Joe Media Group Inc., Interindigital Entertainment Inc.) Joe Novak, Neil Grahn, Katery Legault.
"Forensic Factor," (Exploration Production Inc.) Edwina Follows.
"MegaWorld," (Exploration Production Inc.) Anne Marie Varner, Karen McCairley.
"Pretty Dangerous," (Summerhill Television) Barbara Shearer, Craig Baines, Lee Herberman, Bill Johnston, Ron Lillie.
"X-Weighted," (Weight To Go II Productions Inc.) Margaret Mardirossian, Helen Schmidt, Candice Tipton, David Way.
Best History Documentary Program:
"100 Films & A Funeral," (Markham Street Films) Judy Holm, Michael McNamara.
"The Battle of Medak Pocket," (Barna-Alper Productions Inc.) Laszlo Barna, Steven Silver.
"Bloody Saturday," (CBC Winnipeg) Andy Blicq
"Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery," (Ferns Productions Inc., Cook Films PTY (Australia), South Pacific Pictures (NZ), Film Australia) Andrew Ferns, W. Paterson Ferns.
"Charging the Rhino," (Associated Producers) Simcha Jacobovici, Ric Esther Bienstock, Felix Golubev, Alberta Nokes.
Best Lifestyle/Practical Information Series:
"At the End of My Leash," (White Iron Pictures Inc., Purple Dog Media) Jean Merriman, Lisa Cichelly, Matthew Kershaw.
"At The Table With . . .," (Firvalley Productions Inc.) Joseph Blasioli, Maria Pimentel, Jennifer Scott.
"Chef School," (Red Apple Entertainment Corp.) Rachel Low, Daniel Gelfant, Dana Speers.
"Holmes on Homes," (Make It Right VI Productions Inc.) Mike Holmes, Pete Kettlewell, Michael Quast.
"Til Debt Do Us Part," (Frantic Films) Jamie Brown, Jennifer Horvath.
Best Live Sporting Event:
"Hockey Night in Canada: Outdoor Classic," (CBC) Sherali Najak, Brian Spear, Doug Walton.
"IIHF World Junior Hockey Gold Final: Canada vs. Sweden," (TSN) Jim Marshall, Jon Hynes.
"NHL Playoffs on TSN Western Conference Semi Final Game 4: Detroit-San Jose," (TSN) Ken Volden, Mitch Kerzner, Mark Milliere.
Best Music, Variety Program or Series:
"The 2008 Juno Awards," (Insight Production Co. Ltd., CARAS) John Brunton, Melanie Berry, Barbara Bowlby, Stephen Stohn, Louise Wood.
"Barenaked East Coast Music!," (Dream Street Pictures Inc.) Rick LeGuerrier, Timothy M. Hogan.
"Canadian Idol 5," (Insight Production Co. Ltd.) John Brunton, Barbara Bowlby, Sue Brophey, Mark Lysakowski.
"East Coast Sessions," (CBC Halifax) Geoff D'Eon.
"MuchMusic Video Awards 2007," (MuchMusic) John Kampilis, Bob Pagrach, Sheila Sullivan.
Best Performing Arts Program or Series or Arts Documentary Program or Series:
"Cowboy Junkies: Trinity Revisited," (FogoLabs) Francois Lamoureux, Pierre Lamoureux.
"Embracing Da Kink," (V-Formation Productions Inc.) Joel Gordon.
"The Fiddle and the Drum," (Joe Media Group Inc.) Karen Pickles, Matt Gillespie, Joe Novak.
"Hamlet (solo)," (Hope & Hell Inc.) Raoul Bhaneja, Andrew Barnsley.
"Landscape as Muse," (291 Film Company) Ian Toews.
Best Reality Program or Series:
"Canada's Next Top Model," (Temple Street Productions) Sheila Hockin, David Fortier, Ivan Schneeberg.
"Dragon's Den," (CBC) Stuart Coxe, Catherine Annau, Lisa Gabriele, Tracie Tighe.
"Project Runway Canada," (Insight Production Co. Ltd.) John Brunton, Barbara Bowlby, Andrea Webb.
"Triple Sensation," (Triple Sensation II Productions) Garth Drabinsky, Sandra Cunningham, Sari Friedland, Alex Ganetakos.
"The Week the Women Went," (Paperny Films Inc.) Cal Shumiatcher, Sally Aitken, Trevor Hodgson, David Paperny.
Best TV Movie:
"A Life Interrupted," (Incendo Smith Production Inc.) Jean Bureau, Serge Denis, Stephen Greenberg, Josee Mauffette.
"Luna: Spirit of the Whale," (Screen Siren Pictures) Trish Dolman.
"Mayerthorpe," (SEVEN24 Films, Slanted Wheel Entertainment) Jordy Randall, Tom Cox, Jon Slan.
"Sticks and Stones," (Productions Hockeyville Inc., Dream Street SS Pictures Inc.) Josee Vallee, Andre Beraud, Timothy M. Hogan, Rick LeGuerrier.
"Victor: The Victor Davis Story," (Victor Movie Productions Inc.) Bernard Zukerman.
Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program:
"A Place Between ," (National Film Board of Canada) Joe MacDonald, Derek Mazur, Graydon McRea, Michael Scott.
"A Promise To The Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman," (White Pine Pictures) Peter Raymont.
"Darfur: On Our Watch," (CBC) Neil Docherty, Lisa Ellenwood.
"Forgiveness : Stories for our Time," (Wild East Productions, National Film Board Of Canada) Johanna Lunn, Kent Martin.
"Girl Inside," (Red Queen Productions Inc.) Maya Gallus, Justine Pimlott.
Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series:
Christopher Bolton, Stephen Amell, Oliver Becker, Michael Bodnar, Sarain Boylan, Inga Cadranel, Louis Di Bianco, Carlos Diaz, Matt Gordon, Gabriel Hogan, Mayko Nguyen, Pascal Petardi, Joe Pingue, Jeff Pustil, Philip Riccio, Maria Vacratsis, Jeremy Wright. ``Rent-A-Goalie – Domi Daze."
John Catucci, David Mesiano, "Canadian Comedy Awards 2007: Best of the Fest."
Mark Critch, Gavin Crawford, Geri Hall, Cathy Jones, "This Hour Has 22 Minutes - Episode 6."
Fabrizio Filippo, David Alpay, Jennifer Baxter, Mike Beaver, Robin Brule, Jayne Eastwood, Ennis Esmer, Brandon Firla, Ron Gabriel, Peter Keleghan, Arnold Pinnock, Aron Tager, "Billable Hours - Monopoly Man."
Inessa Annie Frantowski, Brooks Gray, Andy King, Rebecca McMahon, Leo Scherman, Morgan Waters, "Cock'd Gunns – A Taste of Success."
Best Host in a Lifestyle/Practical Information, or Performing Arts Program or Series:
Bryan Baeumler, "Disaster DIY – Kitchen Attack!/Loomer."
Bob Blumer, "Glutton For Punishment – Guinness Diet."
George Kourounis, "Angry Planet – Boiling Lake."
Candice Olson, "Divine Design With Candice Olson – Audrey's Office."
Wendy Russell, "She's Crafty – Kitschy Kool."
Bruce Turner, "Style By Jury – A Shelter From The Storm."
Best Host or Interviewer in a General/Human Interest or Talk Program or Series:
Jeff Douglas, "Ancestors in the Attic – Ghost Ranch."
Jeff Douglas, "Working Over Time – Building Up."
Peter Mansbridge, "Mansbridge One on One."
Les Stroud -Survivorman - Kalahari
George Stroumboulopoulos, "The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos."
Best Host or Interviewer in a Sports Program or Sportscast:
James Duthie, "NHL on TSN TradeCentre '08."
Ron MacLean, "Hockey Day in Canada."
Scott Russell, "FIFA U20 World Cup – Final Game."
Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series:
Natalie Brown, "Sophie – Door Number Two."
Louis CK, "Just For Laughs Gala Series – Show 3."
Jon Dore, "The Jon Dore Television Show – Jon Gets Scared."
Jo Koy, "Just For Laughs Gala Series – Show 4."
Ian Sirota, "Comedy Inc. – Season 4 – Episode 4-03."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role:
Hugh Dillon, "Durham County – Life In The Dollhouse."
Justin Louis, "Durham County – What Lies Beneath."
James McGowan, "The Border – Blowback."
Peter Outerbridge, "ReGenesis – TB or not TB."
Ian Tracey, "Intelligence – A Dark Alliance."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series:
Ron Lea, "Victor: The Victor Davis Story."
Peter MacNeil, "Victor: The Victor Davis Story."
Michael Riley, "St. Urbain's Horseman."
Saul Rubinek, "The Trojan Horse."
R.H. Thomson, "The Englishman's Boy."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series:
Jonas Chernick, "The Border – Civil Disobedience / Grave Concern."
Thomas Craig, "Murdoch Mysteries – Glass Ceiling / Still Waters."
Jonny Harris, "Murdoch Mysteries Power / Annoying Red Planet."
Shaun Johnston, "Heartland – Rising from the Ashes (a.k.a. Nothing Endures) / Coming Together."
Sam Neill, "The Tudors – Episode 108 / Episode 110."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series:
Bayo Akinfemi, "The Border – Family Values."
Dmitry Chepovetsky, "Murdoch Mysteries – Power."
Gavin Crawford, "Murdoch Mysteries – Belly Speaker."
Stephen McHattie, "Murdoch Mysteries – Let Loose the Dogs."
Vincent Walsh, "Murdoch Mysteries – The Rebel and the Prince."
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series:
Ben Bass, "Would Be Kings."
Nicholas Campbell, "The Englishman's Boy."
Henry Czerny, "Mayerthorpe."
Michael Eisner, "The Englishman's Boy."
David Fox, "Across the River to Motor City."
Brian Markinson, "Mayerthorpe."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role:
Kristin Booth, "MVP Secret Lives of Hockey Wives – Sudden Death."
Natalie Dormer, "The Tudors – Episode 110."
Helene Joy, "Durham County – Guys and Dolls."
Jewel Staite, "Stargate: Atlantis – Missing."
Camille Sullivan, "Intelligence – A Man is Framed."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series:
Katharine Isabelle, "The Englishman's Boy."
Nahanni Johnstone, "Booky and the Secret Santa."
Andrea Martin, "St. Urbain's Horseman."
Cara Pifko, "I Me Wed."
Clare Stone, "Would Be Kings."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series:
Wendy Crewson, "ReGenesis – Suspicious Minds / Unbottled."
Catherine Disher, "The Border – Enemy Contact / Civil Disobedience."
Maria Doyle Kennedy, "The Tudors – Episode 105 / Episode 108."
Laurence Leboeuf, "Durham County – The Dark Man / Life in the Dollhouse."
Sonya Salomaa, "Durham County – Lady Of The Lake / Life in the Dollhouse."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series:
Gabriel Anwar, "The Tudors – Episode 104."
Babz Chula, "JPod – Crappy Birthday To You."
Pascale Hutton, "Intelligence – The Heat is On."
Karen LeBlanc, "ReGenesis – Bloodless."
Kate Trotter, "Murdoch Mysteries – Body Double."
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series:
Jordy Benattar, "Charlie & Me."
Erica Durance, "I Me Wed."
Megan Follows, "Booky and the Secret Santa."
Natasha Henstridge, "Would Be Kings."
Rachel Marcus, "Booky and the Secret Santa."
Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series:
Emilie-Claire Barlow, Vern Dorge, Lou Pomanti, "Words to Music: Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame."
Rick Green, Bob Bainborough, Paul Braunstein, Rosa Laborde, Colin Mochrie, Peter Oldring, Ron Pardo, Janet Van de Graaff, "History Bites: Celine Dion."
Andrea Martin, "CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival: Bedrooms of the Nation."
Russell Peters, "The 2008 Juno Awards."
Dione Taylor, Roberta Baird, Melissa Brown, Ermine Gittens, Nadia Good, Andrea Hall, Michelle Hanson, Oliver Jones, Jean Lawrence, Lloyd Lawrence, Shenelle Morgan, Lou Pomanti, Teena Riley, Sharon Riley, Nevon Sinclair, Oneil Watson, "Words to Music: Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame."
Best Sports Play-by-Play Announcer:
Rob Faulds, "LPGA: CN Canadian Women's Open – Edmonton, Alberta on Rogers Sportsnet."
Gord Miller, "IIHF World Junior Hockey Gold Final: Canada vs. Sweden."
Don Wittman, "Hockey Night In Canada – NYR OTT."
Best Studio Analyst:
Don Cherry, "Hockey Night In Canada – Coach's Corner."
Bob McKenzie, "IIHF World Junior Hockey Gold Final: Canada vs. Sweden ."
Mike Milbury, "NHL on TSN."
Best Host or Interviewer in a News Information Program or Series:
Gillian Findlay, "the fifth estate – Overboard."
Hana Gartner, "the fifth estate – The Lady Vanishes."
Linden MacIntyre, "the fifth estate – Bad Day in Barrhead."
Wendy Mesley, "Marketplace."
Steve Paikin, "The Agenda with Steve Paikin – Mark Steyn's Muslim Problem."
"CBC News: The National," (CBC) Jonathan Whitten, Terry Auciello, Mark Harrison, Fred Parker, Greg Reaume.
"Global National," (Global Television) Kenton Boston, Bryan Grahn, Jason Keel, Kevin Newman, Doriana Temolo.
"Global News Toronto," (Global Television Network) Ron Waksman
Best News Anchor:
Ian Hanomansing, "CBC News at Six – Vancouver."
Peter Mansbridge, "CBC News: The National."
Kevin Newman, "Global National."
Exiled! Bursts Spoiled Kids' Bubble
Source: www.thestar.com - Elizabeth Jensen, New York Times News Service
(August 25, 2008) For a formulaic reality series, MTV's new Exiled! arrives with heavy expectations.
Now-older former stars of that network's series My Super Sweet 16, which revels in the excess of coming-of-age birthday parties for the rich crowd, get sent by their fed-up parents for a week of re-education at the hands of the Masai in Kenya, a Thai family living off elephant tourism money and Andean llama herders. A non-celebrity version of the capers of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in Fox's Simple Life, the MTV series lets viewers revisit the coddled kids of My Super Sweet 16 they love to envy and hate.
But Exiled!, which begins on Thursday at 10 p.m., has higher ambitions than the garden-variety reality show. Jenna Arnold, a former United Nations Works employee who, with Ryan Golembeske, came up with the idea that eventually became Exiled!, sees the 22-minute episodes as "an infomercial for activism." By meeting sheltered young Americans on their own pop-culture viewing turf, Arnold hopes the series will propel them to learn more about water sanitation, malaria nets and child trafficking through a companion Web component being assembled by the United Nations Foundation.
The series "jolts them from being in the hypnotic state of American overindulgence," said Arnold, 27, an executive producer of the series and founder of Press Play Productions, which teamed up with the production company Left/Right for Exiled!
"It's not a PBS show, or National Geographic or social studies," she said. "It plants the seeds of, `Oh my gosh, there's something else out there besides me.'" And then on the website, part of think.mtv.com, there's "a whole other component where we can geek out."
MTV suggested marrying My Super Sweet 16 with the original proposal for a series introducing young Americans to global rites of passage.
"Who needs this more than anyone else?" said Dave Sirulnick, MTV's executive vice-president for news and production. Those featured on My Super Sweet 16, he said, "live a very opulent and spoiled lifestyle; it's what makes watching so interesting and curious. They live in a bubble that has no relationship to the rest of the world."
The families, he said, were surprisingly eager to participate.
Arnold concurred. "I think a lot of them are coming back on the show to redeem themselves," she said.
Bobby Tillander of Ocala, Fla., signed up his daughter Amanda, who proclaimed on her Sweet 16 episode: "I love money. People say it doesn't buy happiness, but I think it really helps."
Amanda, he said in an interview, "needed something to get her out of her funk" of no job and sleeping until noon. "She's a great kid," he said, but "she used to sit around and moan and wait for me to do everything."
Amanda was game even without knowing the details. "I was like, `Okay, I'm down, I'll do anything,'" she said. "I thought it was going to be something cool to go to, that they were not going to send me some place bad." (Her father said that she was expecting Maui or Rome or "as a worst case, China.") Her stunned reaction when told she would leave the next day for Kenya was not faked, she said.
Nor was her profound unhappiness when she had to walk several hours for water and help make a hut from a messy paste of cow dung. (She refused to touch it.) But eventually she made the best of the trip, sharing dance moves with her hosts and discussing the role of Masai women. She called the experience "a blast," but also "kind of like a wake-up call."
"I don't need the finest things in life," she said. "Look at what they worry about: they worry about food and water every day."
After returning, she moved out of her parents' home, got a job in a tanning salon and began hosting a local television show. Now 19, she will start college this fall. "I think every kid should have to go do this," her father said. "It's just a total transformation."
Ian V. Rowe, vice-president for strategic partnerships and public affairs at MTV, said viewers can make a similar leap. "We see Exiled! as a teachable moment," he said, adding that a straight documentary would not bring in as many viewers.
Noting that the Americans are paired with someone their own age in the host society, he said, "Usually when young people are exposed to issues, especially through the eyes of their peers, they sense injustice and they want to know what they can do to fix it." Each episode will have a Web page highlighting specific issues of the host culture and ways viewers can become involved.
Many of those opportunities will be through UN projects. That organization's current leadership is "much more open to this kind of edgier opportunity to get their point across," said Kathy Bushkin Calvin, executive vice-president for the United Nations Foundation.
Exiled! could be the "beginning of developing a global girls' network that we could use for greater good," she added. "I think this is a huge opportunity."
Stars Turn Blind Eye To Boob Tube
Source: www.thestar.com - Frazier Moore, The Associated Press
(August 23, 2008) NEW YORK–Stage actors love theatre. Film actors see movies. Musicians dig concerts by their fellow musicians. But TV stars just don't seem to catch much TV, according to an unofficial survey spanning years of interviews with them.
Let me stress the not-at-all-scientific nature of this poll. Among the scads of TV stars I've talked to, I never made a point of grilling them on their TV consumption.
But, over time, I started to realize (and marvel) that, out of everyone who did address the issue with me, fewer than a dozen of them copped to being TV fans. The rest: Well, they don't shun just the programs they appear in. They don't watch TV, period. Or so they claim.
They're busy! They have to be up early and they work late! Those are explanations I've been handed.
Some stars make a rare exception to the no-TV rule. Maybe they watch cable news, maybe ESPN. Maybe they're sneaking a peek at the Olympics. Beyond that, it seems, they shut their eyes to what's on TV, at least when it's on. Of course, being a selective viewer isn't bad. But many TV stars insist that catching up with even a program they confess to liking is more trouble than it's worth. They claim to never be around a TV when that show is on the air. They seem to have never heard of TiVo.
I've been hearing this kind of thing from TV-averse TV stars since long before anybody ever heard of TiVo. It reflects the stigma that TV has been saddled with since birth: Society brands people who are gung-ho about TV as mentally challenged, hopeless nerds or cursed with too much time on their hands.
Then TV shows reinforce those stereotypes. Who's more of a TV fan than Homer Simpson (a fat, ambitionless lamebrain), unless it's fellow cartoon couch potato Peter Griffin, with his maniac brood on Family Guy?
Little wonder if TV stars think loving TV publicly would harm their reputation. Never mind the irony that they might choose to occupy their leisure time with loftier things than the TV programs with which they expect us to occupy ours.
But, happily, that's not the whole story. I have come across a handful of TV stars who, unabashedly, include themselves among the TV-watching masses – for instance, Ricky Gervais, whose credits include The Office and Extras.
"I live a very, very normal life," he said a couple of years ago. "I walk to work. I walk back from work. I'm at home at 6 o'clock, in my pyjamas watching television."
Seth Green, 34, has been acting on TV since childhood – and also watching TV.
"It's important to be aware of what's going on in your medium," he volunteered during a recent interview. "It gives you an indication of what you're doing right and wrong – or gives you something to shake your fist at, in defiance!"
Defiance is right. Robot Chicken, the subversively funny series he co-created, lampoons pop culture – especially TV. For Green, a lifetime of watching TV has paid off nicely.
One more case: Jon Hamm, star of acclaimed drama series Mad Men.
"I've loved television since I was old enough to reach the dial," he said. "Television is meaningful to me. It's frustrating and fascinating, all at the same time."
Star Pumped For Second Season
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Associated Press
(August 26, 2008) CBS and CTV have given the green light for a second season of the Canadian-made series Flashpoint.
The first Canadian series since Due South to air on network prime-time television in both Canada and the United States, Flashpoint has stood out as one of the few rare hits of this summer's TV schedule.
"Everyone involved in the show always expected we'd return for another season, but it still feels good to hear it," said Hugh Dillon, who plays police sniper Ed Lane on the series.
Following the risk-filled lives of Toronto's Strategic Response Unit (SRU), the series was picked up for "reverse simulcast" on CBS and has outperformed all expectations since launching last month.
The show's debut episode in mid-July garnered slightly more than eight million viewers in the U.S. and handily made it the most-watched U.S. network program on Friday night.
Within two weeks, the strong ratings start prompted CBS to switch Flashpoint's timeslot to Thursday nights. Since relocating, Flashpoint's U.S. audience has dipped slightly to 6.5 million viewers - still remarkable ratings for a summer network series.
In Canada, the action-themed series has been riding high on equally impressive ratings on CTV. By its fifth episode, Flashpoint had registered a season-high audience of 1.3 million viewers on CTV, making it the second most-watched show on Canadian television that week, behind CTV's simulcast of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, which tallied 1.38 million viewers.
"Flashpoint has hit its mark with North American audiences and remained competitive - even during the Olympics," said Susanne Boyce, president of Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc. "The cast and creative team delivered a series that not only entertains with high intensity but with heart as well."
According to a CTV release, Flashpoint will resume shooting in Toronto in early 2009, with new episodes arriving next season.
"There was definitely a feeling of momentum in the last few shows we filmed," Dillon said. "The first season felt great, but we still hardly scratched the surface. This show has great potential in terms of storytelling."
Jon And Kate Plus 8 Offers
Guidance Via Reality TV On Rigours Of Child Rearing
A Little Bit Rock 'N' Roll
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan
(August 27, 2008) Rock 'n' roll never forgets, but times change.
Back in his wild days as lead singer of the Headstones, Hugh Dillon was all about the music, and any other method of creative expression never crossed his mind. And even if it did - some memories remain hazy - acting was at the very bottom of his list.
"I never really liked actors or acting back then," says Dillon with a smile and a shrug. "It was acting, you know? I wasn't great at working with others or the group collaboration. At the time, all I could handle was making music with four other people."
That was then, this is now. The transition of Hugh Dillon from rock 'n' roll animal to respected TV thespian has come full circle of late.
The hits, as they say, just keep on coming.
A few days after wrapping his first season as lead character on the CTV series Flashpoint, Dillon learned yesterday that he had received a Gemini Award nomination for best performance by an actor in a continuing leading role for his performance in the 2007 miniseries Durham County.
Dillon received glowing reviews for his work in Durham County, which arrives on DVD on Sept. 9.
He has only effusive praise for the show's female creative team, particularly writer Laurie Finstad Knizhnik and directors Holly Dale and Adrienne Mitchell, each of whom likewise received Gemini nods.
"Working with these women changed my life," says Dillon, 45.
"Coming from the rock 'n' roll genre, I was used to this real guy's mentality; Durham County put me in this world run by these powerful, intellectual women with something to say. I'm forever indebted to them."
The trademark Dillon intensity is evident in his portrayal of sniper Ed Lane on Flashpoint - already a ratings hit on CBS and CTV and renewed by CTV for a second season (CBS has yet to confirm its renewal) - though both roles pale in comparison to his rock-star days.
The Headstones roared out of Dillon's Kingston hometown in the late eighties, and never apologized for the noise.
As front man of one of the hardest-rocking bands to ever come out of this country, Dillon was the original angry young man. Any club patron who attended a Headstones show during the group's heyday likely came away with bruises, or a burn from a cigarette thrown into the crowd by the lead singer. Those were different times.
"There was anger there, but our music was of a time and a place," Dillon says reflectively.
"There was so much mediocrity in music at the time. Nirvana had just come out. But I honestly never thought about getting a record deal or the money. We didn't care if we played to nine or 10 people. All our spare money went to a rehearsal space, and beer.... And the accoutrements."
The "accoutrements" were almost the end of Dillon. Diving headlong into the rock lifestyle, he spent nearly a decade battling his addictions to alcohol and heroin.
"As a young man, I never thought I'd make it past 30," he says. "I wanted the Jim Morrison live-fast-die-young mentality."
Dillon eventually exorcised his substance demons, with assistance from his wife, Midori Fujiwara, and five trips to rehab. His entrance into the acting world came from renegade Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald, who cast the rocker as a support player in the 1995 indie feature Dance Me Outside, and one year later in the more substantial, and fitting, character of self-absorbed singer Joe Dick in the 1996 feature Hard Core Logo.
"It was a role I knew something about, obviously," he says. "Bruce showed me how to find a way into acting as an art form and then I gradually got into it," Dillon says.
Clear-eyed and cleanly shorn, Dillon begins shooting the second season of Durham County in Montreal next week. Acting now feels natural, but he's still making music with his new band, the Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir. Some old habits are good to hang onto. "Writing songs is the one thing I can do that has no pretension whatsoever," he says. "I can just pick up the guitar and stop thinking about petty things and the words just come. Music is still the most honest thing I can make."
Mariah Carey, John Legend On 'Canadian Idol' Finale
Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(August 22, 2008) TORONTO – Pop music superstars Mariah Carey and John Legend will headline a two-hour "Canadian Idol" season finale. CTV says Carey and Legend will perform on the results episode, airing live Sept. 10, along with Canadian rockers Hedley, last year's "Idol" champ Brian Melo, and "Idol" mentor, R&B singer Jully Black. And in a new twist, viewers will get two hours instead of one to decide who will be the next singing Idol. The show's two finalists will compete in a final performance episode on Sept. 8. Four men are left in the competition – Mitch MacDonald, 22, of Port Hood, N.S.; Earl Stevenson, 23, of Lloydminster, Alta.; Theo Tams, 23, of Lethbridge, Alta.; and Drew Wright, 28, of Collingwood, Ont. The Final Four will be mentored by legendary songstress Anne Murray, who performs in Tuesday's results episode along with "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks. Canadian icon Bryan Adams mentors and then performs on Sept. 2 in the penultimate results episode.
Diva Poised To Discover Next 'Glam God'
Source: www.eurweb.com - By DeBorah B. Pryor
(August 22, 2008) Stevie’s Creole Café in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley was the place to be as actress Vivica A. Fox played host to dozens of industry friends who gathered to celebrate the premier of her new reality show, Glam God with Vivica A. Fox, on VH1. Designed to deliver Hollywood’s next celebrity stylist in the vein of Rachel Zoe, Robert Verdi and Phillip Bloch, who was voted one of Cosmopolitan’s “Four Most Lusted After Men in Fashion,” the premise of the show pits aspiring fashion stylists against each other and gives them the task of creating the drop-dead, red-carpet look that will impress host Fox, and her glam panel of judges: celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch and US Weekly Bureau Chief, Melanie Bromley. Each week a group of 12 stylists will be presented with a challenge that tests their fashion knowledge, skill, and creativity as they work to outdo each other. The winner of the eight-episode show gets to style an A-List celebrity for a spread in US Weekly and a $100,000 check. Fox, best known to many from her starring roles in Independence Day and “Kill Bill, Vol. I.” is the perfect diva for this type of show. Her sharp tongue, quick wit and glamorous insight should keep audiences tuned in. Jeff Olde, VH1 executive vice president, original programming and production calls Fox a “...fashion icon who knows how to step on the red carpet and nail it every single time.” Cris Abrego created and executive produced the show for 51 Pictures. Abrego is the brainchild behind the reality shows ‘Rock of Love,’ ‘Flavor of Love,’ ‘I Love New York, and ‘Gotti’s Way.’ Fox, who told USAToday in an interview, "I never want to be on that ‘what was she thinking' page," admits she’s not a big risk-taker and prefers the classics when it comes to fashion. Tune in to Glam God with Vivica A. Fox on Thursdays, 10p.m. ET/PT on VH1.
Regina King Books NBC Drama
(August 25, 2008) *Actress Regina King returns to television in NBC's pilot "LAPD," an ensemble drama that follows a group of police officers in Los Angeles. Last seen on the small screen in Fox's "24," King will play Lydia, a smart, sympathetic detective in the Hollywood division, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Kevin Alejandro and Michael McGrady have also joined the cast. Alejandro ("Shark") will play Nate, a detective who is happily married with three kids and another on the way. McGrady ("Daybreak") will play Sal, a detective who works mainly on gang-related crimes and is obsessed with his family's safety. In addition, Benjamin McKenzie ("The O.C.") is in early talks to join the project.
Susan Lucci, Toni Braxton Set For `Dancing With The Stars'
Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(August 25, 2008) NEW YORK – Susan Lucci, Toni Braxton and Lance Bass will hit the floor on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. They are among 13 celebrities slated to compete on the new season of the top-rated dance contest, premiering Sept. 22. The other contestants are Cloris Leachman, Kim Kardashian, Ted McGinley, Brooke Burke, NFL champ Warren Sapp and two Olympic athletes: Misty May-Treanor, who won her second gold medal for beach volleyball at this year's summer games in Beijing, and Maurice Greene, who won two gold medals in track at the 2000 games in Sydney. Rounding out the cast are chef Rocco DiSpirito, Cody Linley of Hannah Montana and comedian Jeffrey Ross. The names were announced Monday on ABC News' Good Morning America. Kardashian, who co-stars with her family on the E! reality series Keeping Up With the Kardashians, checked into a New York City hospital Sunday after cutting her foot on a glass table in her hotel room. "I cut my foot pretty bad. ... It looked like a murder scene with all the blood everywhere," Kardashian said in a phone call to ``GMA." "I will be able to dance. I went to the hospital. I'll be fine," she said.
Singer-Actor Embraces His Jersey Boys
Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(August 23, 2008) Sure, he's got the choirboy good looks and the crystal-clear falsetto voice, but those aren't the things that make Joseph Leo Bwarie such great casting as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.
One of the many things made clear by the musical history of Valli and The Four Seasons, which opens tomorrow night at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, is that Valli's unquenchable optimism and ability to roll with life's punches are what helped keep the group going for so long.
And although life doesn't seem to have battered Bwarie at all, you get the feeling that, like Valli, his enthusiasm and energy would see him through no matter what came his way.
I've talked to him twice, first in person, just before the opening of the show's run in Vegas, and then a few weeks ago on the phone when he was touring in Dallas.
Ask him how he likes playing this role, and his energy nearly blows you out of the room: "It's incredible, amazing, wonderful! It's a brilliant piece of theatre and the finest role I've ever played."
And even though Bwarie is still only 30, he's been a professional for 22 years and has seen enough to know what he's talking about. He was born in Pasadena, Calif., to a mother and father who worked in retail. "Dad was in the gift basket specialty business," Bwarie recalls, "and he was the first guy to use the shrink wrap you see everywhere nowadays. Way to go, Dad!"
Bwarie had a younger brother and sister, and he remembers his childhood as being part of "kind of the perfect family. No significant troubles or hardships. I had a good growing up. Just like any normal kid."
Except the average normal kid didn't sing like Bwarie. Although he acknowledges that "there was never this light bulb over my head telling me I should be in the business. It just sort of fell into place.
"I would be at this school concert and then somebody would come up and ask my parents if I could sing somewhere. I didn't really understand that other people didn't do this all the time."
Bwarie does remember being shocked the first time he realized that "they paid me for singing," only to have his mother laugh and say, "We'll just put this in the bank for your education."
The big leap came when Bwarie was 8 and played a caroller on an episode of Michael Landon's popular TV series, Highway to Heaven.
"The first thing we did was record my singing in a studio and that remains such a positive sense memory for me. I loved it!"
This period of Bwarie's career peaked in 1990, when he was part of the onstage choir that sang John Williams' nominated song "Somewhere in My Memory" at the Oscars.
"That was surreal!" he remembers with a laugh. "Debbie Allen was staging all of us. Madonna was also performing – she had a tough rehearsal and wasn't very happy.
"What else do I remember? People telling me to wear my security badge, seeing Bob Hope and Geena Davis. Kind of a who's-who of all the generations in Hollywood, back when it was still glamorous."
But Bwarie knows enough people his age involved in the upper levels of the business today to know that "there isn't a glamour side any more, just a paparazzi side that can eat you alive.
"If you ever find the glamour from the old days again, then sign me up. But otherwise, well, I like leaving the stage door at night and just becoming Joe again."
Soon it was time for Bwarie to pick a college, and he sheepishly admits he chose Emerson in Boston "because I really liked their brochure," but also because "my extended family was all from Massachusetts and I knew I'd have a safety net if I needed it."
But Bwarie did fine and even found a way "to integrate making money and performing during the summers." He worked on a harbour tour ship called The Spirit of Boston, "where during a three-hour dinner cruise, the waiters would spontaneously combust into song."
After he graduated in 1999, "I thought I would get off the plane in L.A. and land in a movie. But that wasn't the case."
But he worked hard, got his share of roles and also found a spiritual home at the iconoclastic Troubadour Theater Company, a group whose mission statement says it is "dedicated to the revitalization and deconstruction of theatre as we know it."
He spent five years there, appearing in shows such as Hamlet: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Denmark or The Comedy of Aerosmith in which Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors is combined with songs from Steven Tyler and his fellow bad boys.
The Troubadour Theater Company is "the closest thing to raw, edgy pop culture," says Bwarie. "I can't say enough about working with them. I know that my time with them isn't over."
But for now, he's happy and busy playing Valli, and loving the special moments when the real Valli "pops in for a couple of hours and imparts a little wisdom to us.
"He always says that the most important thing is the lyric. Tell the story and mean it, even if it just seems like you're singing about a girl named Sherry at a party."
Enthusiasm, honesty, commitment. Qualities that Joe Bwarie and Frankie Valli happily have in common.v
Wii, Guitar Hero Sales Help Nintendo Crush The Competition
Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman, Special To The Star
(August 23, 2008) Nintendo didn't just outsell the competition in July – it crushed other gaming publishers with a Donkey Kong-sized smash.
Last month, eight of the top 10 titles sold in the Great White North were for either the Nintendo Wii or Nintendo DS platform, according to the latest retail stats from NPD Group Canada.
Another interesting fact: seven out of the top 10 games shipped with a peripheral of some sort, such as a wheel, guitar, scale or extra controller. Overall, revenue for the video game market (which includes software, hardware and accessories) is up 54 per cent over last year, generating just under $920 million to date.
Here's how the month shaped up in game sales:
1. Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo of Canada) for Nintendo Wii.
2. Wii Fit with Balance Board (Nintendo of Canada) for Nintendo Wii.
3. Guitar Hero: On Tour (Activision) for Nintendo DS.
4. Wii Play with Remote (Nintendo of Canada) for Nintendo Wii.
5. Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day (Nintendo of Canada) for Nintendo DS.
6. New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo of Canada) for Nintendo DS.
7. Rock Band Special Edition Bundle (MTV Games/EA) for Nintendo Wii.
8. Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (2K Games) for Xbox 360.
9. Rock Band Special Edition Bundle (MTV Games/EA) for PlayStation 2.
10. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Activision) for Nintendo Wii.
iCubicMan: Owners of iPhone or iPod Touch who enjoy puzzle games will find plenty of head-scratching challenges in TeemSoft's CubicMan, available as a 10-level free version (CubicMan Lite) or the full 80-level version (CubicMan Deluxe) for just $2.99 at the App Store (via iTunes).
For each of the uniquely designed levels, the goal of the game is to use your fingertip to move a 3-D rectangular object from one spot on a grid to the marked finish. The catch is this cube must be standing upright on the final spot in order to finish the level.
Because of its shape, you must carefully study the layout and plan your moves so that it avoids obstacles – such as walls and ledges – while inching toward your goal. Handy teleports help to transfer the cube from one spot on the level to another.
A single tap near the edges of the screen moves the camera to better see the level, while tapping two fingers anywhere on the screen zooms in. Tap three fingers on the screen to zoom back out.
The Arcade mode keeps track of all of your moves and has you complete levels in a specific order. The Free Play mode lets you choose to play any of the previously completed levels for fun.
The Fastest Game On Nintendo's Wii
Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter
(August 23, 2008) With titles like Grand Theft Auto IV, Wii Fit and Call of Duty 4, it has already been a pretty huge year for the video-game industry. And we're not even into the heavy-duty gamer season, which starts about now and runs until Christmas. Indeed, there will be big game releases almost every week, and last week offered two local events showcasing the star power of video games.
On Wednesday, it was a weird mix of media for the launch of NHL 2K9 for the Wii, with the shabbily dressed gaming media meeting the well-groomed members of the city's sports media. The draw (for the latter) was Columbus Blue Jackets star forward Rick Nash. While the game is available for all platforms, it's actually the first NHL-licensed hockey game for the Nintendo console and uses the Wii's motion control system.
"It's a dream come true to be on the cover of a video game," said Nash.
"I've got a Wii at home. I like the bowling, the golf, the simple games, but I haven't gotten into any of the sports games. I've tried this about three times now, and it's pretty cool. I think kids are going to love it. It gets into the game a lot more than some of the other systems."
While Nash demonstrated the game, screens flashed above him showing his "motion capture session" – the data recorded by sensors attached to his body so his moves could be incorporated into the game.
Nash didn't drop his virtual gloves, but fighting seemed to be a natural fit for the game's controls.
On Thursday, there was a different kind of star power at X'08, the annual preview for many of the titles coming out this fall on the Xbox 360.
More than 40 games were on display on two floors of the downtown mega club Circa.
The biggest celebrity in the house was Cliff Bleszinski, design director for Epic Games, which showcased the much-anticipated first-person shooter Gears of War 2.
Bleszinski is definitely a star in the video-game world, known for his outspoken views and also for walking around conventions touting a giant replica gun from GOW, which he unfortunately left behind.
"I tell you: In a post-9/11 world, getting a gun like that on a plane is a pain in the ass," he said.
In describing GOW 2, he said: "We like to say it's more epic and more intimate. It's on a larger scale, with the multi-player (mode), and you have more of a sense of the war that's going on around you. But the story is more intimate."
Dominic Santiago, best friend of the game's main character, Marcus, "has been looking for his wife for quite some time. It's those little touches that really make it when you have a great sci-fi world. So yeah, we have the monsters, we love the blood, we love all that, but if you can bring it back and make it a little more personal, then hopefully we have a winner."
Beyond "CliffyB," the games were the real stars, this being the first time many were demonstrated in Canada.
Some of the new Xbox-only titles showed that Microsoft is still trying to lure more casual gamers to the 360. You're in the Movies is a game with a camera that puts the player's actual image in the game. And Lips is a karaoke singing game, hoping to compete with Rock Band and SingStar, that features music videos and offers some interesting possibilities.
"We're still locking down the songs list, but there are about 30 songs, and you'll be able to download content through Xbox Live. As well, you can attach your MP3 player and play your own DRM-free music on it, so the song selection will be limitless," said Jason Ing, Microsoft's senior global product manager for Xbox first-party games.
There were plenty of hands-on versions of hyped third-party games, including Fallout 3, Mortal Combat vs. DC Universe (I saw Superman pile-drive Subzero through several walls of a building. Awesome!) and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, a new game that features force powers like telekinesis and lightning shooting out of your hands.
The media had their run of the games during the day, but in the evening the floor opened to members of the Xbox Live community, allowing real gamers to test drive many of these hyped games for the first time.
On a local level, a team of student developers from the University of Toronto showed off an auto racing game, based on our city, that is being created for the Nuit Blanche art festival in October. It is still under construction, but some Toronto landmarks like the CN Tower and the Royal York Hotel were already in place.
Fatherly Love - Narrowing The Gaps
Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Brandon Hay
(Summer 2008) Brandon Hay wants people to know that not all black fathers are absentee parents. That’s why the 29-year-old father of three founded the Black Daddies Club last November.
“I wanted to de-stigmatize that whole notion that black fathers and black husbands don’t exist,” says Hay. “When I go to pick up my son from daycare, I see the other black fathers there with their own stories. I think that gets lost in the media.”
The Black Daddies Club is a forum for black men to find support as parents and to share their difficulties and successes.
It’s been no secret that there has been unprecedented youth violence in Toronto and growing anger over absentee fathers, particularly in the Caribbean community. According to Statistics Canada, 46 per cent of black children lived in single-parent homes in 2001.
But instead of focusing on the negative statistics, Hay decided to do something positive.
“It’s a support system for young fathers [but it’s also about getting] the community more involved … to act as a catalyst for the community and to voice and show that we care about our children,” Hay says.
Meetings are held at least once a month in different venues, including community centres, restaurants and barbershops. Hay explains that they like to go to places where black parents congregate and feel comfortable expressing themselves.
At the moment, the meetings are mixed, with men and women attending. Eventually, Hay will start hosting men-only meetings so that fathers can open up more about fatherhood.
The idea for the Black Daddies Club struck Hay after his first child was born.
At 23, with a new baby, Hay was looking for a male support system to help him adjust to fatherhood. He couldn’t find community programs that spoke to his needs as a black man. Hay’s relationship with his own father was strained since he had been absent for most of his life, and Hay found he didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
“My mom basically wore both hats as far as mom and dad. She did an excellent job, but she couldn’t teach me how to be a man. Whether I’m a 13-year-old kid in high school or a 29-year-old, I still need my father,” says Hay.
Sadly, Hay’s father was murdered in Jamaica five years ago, just as father and son started to patch up their relationship. And that’s where Hay’s motivation comes from –– his father’s death and the relationship they never had.
“With the Black Daddies Club, I do this in memory of my dad. All the things I didn’t have growing up, that my dad wasn’t able to give me,” says Hay. “There has to be something that comes out of his death, and my goal is to break negative cycles and create positive ones.”
For more information contact Brandon Hay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“For me, the biggest parenting tip is listening. Coming from Caribbean parentage [as a child], you’re often told to listen and not speak. If I take that approach with my son, I feel I will lose that kind of communicative relationship.” – Stephen Lawrence, community worker, 31, two children.
“I guess consistency and being present. My son doesn’t live with me, but when he was born I decided that I would be consistent and present. Spending quality alone time with your child is important. Young fathers think it needs to be a big production, like going to the zoo, but it doesn’t. Even things like burping your child or taking a walk with them [are also good].” – Benjamin de Graaf, 35, youth outreach worker, one child.
“One of my big things is the parenting style. I read this book, 10 Conversations You Need to Have with Your Children, and it talked about the internal and external way of dealing with your children. My mom is Jamaican and she only knows how to parent externally, but what I’m trying to do is parent my children internally. In other words, getting my children to realize on their own why they shouldn’t be acting a certain way.” – Andre Critchlow, 38, Maxamus Entertainment, two children.
“Look at being a father and having children as one of the most sacred experiences. It shouldn’t be about, ‘Oh, I gotta provide for my children.’ Look at parenting as a gift. They bring so much blessing, if you’re open to it.” – Tyson Brown, 34, part-time history teacher at Ryerson University and graduate student, one child.
“For me, it’s my communication with my kids. I really try to communicate to them as adults and just be as real as possible with them.” – Brandon Hay, 29, part-time student at George Brown College and event planner, three children.
Last Comic Standing
Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Pamella Bailey
(Summer 2008) In the early ‘90s, you could count on one hand the number of black professional comics performing in Canada.
Now, thanks to veteran comic Kenny Robinson and his pioneering work as founder of The Nubian Disciples All Black Comedy Revue, black comics have more opportunities to bring their own brand of comedy to the stage.
The concept of a black comedy show came to Robinson while he was performing at the Opera House back in ‘93. "It was the first time we had a predominately black audience," says Robinson.
"I was doing a piece on racial profiling. O.J. was also big at the time. The response from the audience let me know there was a market for this kind of urban material."
The first show, originally called the Nubian Disciples of Pryor (inspired by the iconic Richard Pryor, one of the first black comedians to joke about urban issues) opened in 1994 to a sold out audience in Toronto, with more than 150 people turned away at the door.
Since then, the show has become a highly sought-after venue for comics ready to launch their careers. Comics such as Russell Peters (of South Asian descent), trey anthony and Jean Paul were some of the original Nubians, who have since become some of Canada's most successful comedians and actors.
What began as an all-black comedy event now includes up-and-coming comics of diverse cultural backgrounds and nationalities.
"Comics need to reflect the changing demographics of Toronto," says Robinson. "We have comics from Africa who are the voice of the children of African immigrants. We also feature Filipino and Korean comics. Toronto is a multicultural city and comedy should reflect that."
Not only does the show provide a platform to perform, it also prepares comics to work in mainstream clubs across the country. After doing stand-up for an expressive Toronto audience, known to boo a comic off the stage if the material isn't fresh, comics no longer worry about headlining for audiences in small towns in western Alberta.
"It's baptism under fire," says Robinson laughing, "Toronto is more demanding than any other audience in the country."
In the past 14 years, the revue has established itself as a must-see event in Toronto. Many black celebrities from across the border have graced its stage, including Tommy Davidson, Dave Chapelle and Mike Epps. Visiting celebs such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Vivica Fox are also known to kick back for some comedy while in town.
Though many comics still struggle to work at a professional level, comedy continues to thrive in Canada, pushing the boundaries with edgy, urban material. But it's individuals like Robinson who are willing to "kick open the door" for rising talent that will ensure black comedy is here to stay.
Kain Appeals To Harper For Help
Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman, Entertainment Columnist
(August 27, 2008) Karen Kain, artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a plea not to stop showcasing Canadian artists abroad.
"We are writing to express our deep concern about the recent cuts in budgets within the departments of Canadian Heritage and Foreign Affairs," says a letter sent yesterday from Kain and Kevin Garland, executive director of the ballet company.
In both cases, programs that supported appearances abroad by Canadian artists are to be discontinued next March.
Their plea comes on the same day as the release of a new economic report arguing that culture is a major contributor to national wealth and prestige. The 60-page study from the Conference Board of Canada, a private-sector think-tank that did the study in collaboration with the federal government, argues that culture generated $84.6 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits last year, or 7.4 per cent of total gross domestic product.
And, on Parliament Hill yesterday, opposition MPs raised the spectre of government censorship and abuse of power as they launched a House of Commons review of the nearly $45 million in cuts to arts funding.
"They were done in secret, with no consultation, with no public review," New Democrat MP Peggy Nash told a meeting of the Commons heritage committee.
The three opposition parties demanded the committee session in the wake of cuts the government quietly implemented during Parliament's summer recess.
"There is real concern the government is picking and choosing which artists it is supporting and which artists it is not supporting," said Nash. "I suggest, in a democracy, that is a dangerous thing."
The cuts affect programs vital to promotion of Canadian arts abroad, and appear to have been aimed at artists whose politics and philosophies are out of favour with the Conservative government, she said.
Six years ago, Kain had great success writing to a prime minister. Her letter to Jean Chrétien in 2002 was a plea not to allow the National Ballet School to be excluded from the list of arts groups getting millions of dollars through the SuperBuild program. Largely as a result of that letter, the ballet school was among the arts building projects that received major funding from both the federal and Ontario governments.
Though Kain is writing from her position at the ballet company, the fact that she was until recently chair of the Canada Council brings added clout to her views.
Kain and Garland describe as "incomprehensible" the government's decision to kill this important means of showcasing Canadian talent on the world stage. And they seek assurances from the Prime Minister that the arts sector will be consulted before any more cuts are made in remaining funding programs.
The Conference Board's report couldn't have come at a better time for Canada's arts community, which has been battling the federal government's decision to slice the arts programs.
In an interview, the report's lead author, Conference Board vice-president Michael Bloom, appeared to give the government some cover, noting that funding of the arts from all levels of governments grew by 3.2 per cent in both 2006 and 2007, more than the annual increases in the previous four years.
He said the report's purpose was to quantify the total economic footprint of arts in culture on the Canadian economy and said the results would likely surprise many not involved in the culture industry.
The arts and culture sectors employed 616,000 people in 2003, the report says. In 2007, it estimates the sectors represented $46 billion of the overall economy, or about 3.8 per cent of GDP.
But once indirect benefits are calculated, the contribution to GDP is almost doubled and about 1.1 million jobs are affected.
The report cautions that culture's overall economic impact is difficult to quantify because indirect benefits are difficult to measure.
But it argues strongly that creativity in the arts is to be valued because it involves the use of new technologies, such as the Internet, and new industries that strengthen Canada's competitiveness.
With files from The Canadian Press
Yonge-Dundas Square Comes Into Its Own
Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter
(August 24, 2008) The good, the bad and the stale in this year's festivals:
Derided by some as cold and sterile when it was constructed, Yonge-Dundas Square is really coming into its own as a place for entertainment. Taken over by Luminato in June, with a hanging light balloon installation art and featuring incredibly well attended dance lesson and performances, it was immediately followed by free concerts from bands performing at North by Northeast, which helped both of those fests get out of the art institutions and dank bars.
A temporary Mill Street Pub was also set up and was fantastic – it should be a permanent addition. But the highlight that week was the hastily organized Silent Disco: dancers downloaded tunes onto their MP3 players and danced together to the same music. Beyond skirting noise bylaws, it felt spontaneous and fun, and showed how a civic space can really bring people together.
Other highlights included the symphonic Video Games Live performance and a breathtaking human mobile – a crane lifted this famed clowning troupe and dangled them 50 feet above the ground – by France's Transe Express during Just For Laughs Toronto Festival that was one of the most ridiculously amazing things I saw all summer.
It's also still going. YD Square has also been announced as one of the hubs for the Toronto International Film Festival, which will be capped off by a performance by Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour.
Blame it on the Rain
"We've had a London summer. Basically Toronto's just going to have to suck it up and get wet. In Europe, they're used to this. They just grab their ponchos and boots and still party. We're going to have to be like that."
That's what Adam Gill of Embrace productions said on the eve of the inaugural Time Festival at Sunnyside Pavilion a few weeks. Featuring a pretty stellar line-up of electronic music in one of the city's most gorgeous venues, the organizer, doing what many others this summer did, was hoping beyond hope for nice weather.
Two of his other big events, including the Rogers Picnic, faced deluges during the record-setting precipitation this summer. The Time fest was no different. Moisture put a damper on Wakestock, The Taste of the Danforth and many other events – a wet blanket, literally.
Stagnation: Change or Die
Toronto's festivals can be fantastic and the wide variety of what's going on in the summer months is amazing. But on a bit of a sour note, for many of them, visiting one year is probably enough for the next five.
The Beer Festival is a perfect example. For many, it truly is one of the highlights of the summer, and this year every single day sold out. It is a rip-roaring success. But after having watching it grow over the years, there's very little new or different from year to year. The best part about it for me is the ton of friends and acquaintances that I run into there, but there's nothing actually put on by the festival that warrants repeat visits.
The various Taste of (insert neighbourhood name) suffer from the same thing, and despite being incredibly well attended, is there any real reason they should be?
A Tough Act To Follow For Rawi Hage
Source: www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner, Publishing Reporter
(August 23, 2008) MONTREAL–Rawi Hage, the generally reserved, soft-spoken and contemplative novelist, is suddenly seized by a convulsive fit of laughter as he recalls his adjustment to life in Montreal.
"For the first two years, I was never invited into the home of anyone who grew up here," says Hage, 44, who left Lebanon in 1982 and landed here by way of New York a decade later. "Even after I started to make friends, it took a while to be invited into anyone's home.
"I'm not criticizing, but there is an obsession with privacy in this culture. I'm a part of it now, too. When I go back to Lebanon, I'm horrified by what little privacy there is over there."
Privacy has been an increasingly precious commodity in Hage's life since June, when his debut novel, De Niro's Game, won the Impac Dublin Literary Award, the English-speaking world's most lucrative book prize, with a payout of nearly $160,000.
It wasn't entirely a bolt from the blue. The book, originally published in 2006 by Toronto's House of Anansi Press, had previously been nominated in Canada for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, as well as winning a handful of awards in Quebec. It already counted as an impressive achievement for a first-time author.
But the international recognition vaulted De Niro's Game, which has now been sold in 16 countries, into the stratosphere. And its author has unexpectedly become a sought-after personality, with escalating demands on his time.
That's unlikely to change anytime soon.
Hage's hotly anticipated second novel, Cockroach, arrives this month, followed in the fall by the obligatory, cross-country promotional tour, including an appearance in October at Harbourfront Centre's International Festival of Authors.
"The book (De Niro's Game) has been successful. I'm not going to deny it," Hage says. "I won a very prestigious award. I won a gold medal for Canada in literature.
"I understand the public dimension is necessary. And a part of it is really enjoyable. But it's intrusive. And it's getting really overwhelming. I have to protect myself. After the Canadian tour, I'm going to give myself a few months to disappear."
As he talks, Hage betrays little residual sense of himself as a Montreal outsider. Sitting on the leafy patio of a comfortably casual coffee spot near his apartment in Mile End, he talks passionately and authoritatively about the multi-ethnic neighbourhood's heritage as a dividing line between the city's predominantly French and English cultures.
In his acceptance speech in Dublin, Hage spoke poignantly of the human desire to both "roam the world" and "have homes to keep and build upon" – a balance he seems to have struck in his own life. Although he is about to embark on a September vacation that will take him to Paris, Beirut and Shanghai, he has lost whatever appetite he had for impermanence.
"This is home," says Hage. "I have friends here. And at a certain age, you get tired of wandering. If I went back to Lebanon or moved to some other place, I'd have to go through another immigration."
Unlike other émigré authors, who sometimes devote entire careers to writing about where they came from rather than where they live now, Hage has wasted comparatively little time bringing his literary talents to bear on his adopted city.
Cockroach, following its Beirut-set predecessor, is a Montreal novel. But it is a Montreal novel in which Canada's English and French solitudes are pushed into the background, supplanted by newcomers struggling to make a life for themselves in a new land. The city's Iranian community is a particular focus.
"I find mainstream characters horrifying. They bore me," Hage says. "I like to portray marginal characters. I like to explore and create that world. The Iranians in Montreal are a very small community. And they are Anglophones for the most part, which makes them even more marginalized."
The story is narrated by a jaded, resentful young Arab immigrant, who inhabits a filthy apartment while craftily meeting his need for nourishment and sexual gratification with minimum expenditure of effort. A thief, he does not wait for an invitation before entering the homes of others.
"In a way, he is forcing his welcome," Hage says. "By forcing himself into people's houses, he is forcing himself into their lives."
Real and imagined cockroaches figure prominently in the story, although the author insists he was not inspired in any way by that most famous example of literary beetle mania, Kafka's The Metamorphosis.
"I chose the cockroach because it's close to the earth," he says. "The cockroach is a survivor, not very welcome, resilient and a creature that penetrates people's homes very easily."
Instead, Hage happily credits the pantheon of Russian greats – including Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Turgenev – as influences on his writing.
"They have this great sense of humour, but there's also a lot of darkness. I've always been really attracted to that.
"Also, growing up in Lebanon, we had to memorize a poem every week and stand in front of the class and recite it. The delivery was as important as the memorization. That gave me an appreciation for the music in my ear."
The greatest assist, however, goes to Anansi publisher Lynn Henry who – as publishing legend will now forever have it – plucked De Niro's Game from the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts. Henry also has worked as editor on both of Hage's books.
"She takes chances on me. She's amazing that way," says Hage, who spoke Arabic and French but knew very little English prior to emigrating from Lebanon.
"I like editors who are forgiving, who actually see something in the imperfections. My writing is all about the imperfections. It's so convoluted. And it's so bastardized by other languages."
Apparently unburdened by expectations already engendered by the Canadian success of De Niro's Game, Hage is "embarrassed" to admit that he wrote Cockroach in four months. "I'm always surprised at how much stuff I have. And how easy it is, at least so far.
"I start with a very vague plan. But I always end up with something totally different. I take tangents and don't hold back.
"There's something very experiential about my writing. I'm concerned with the world. I'm engaged. I have something I need to say."
And now, an expanding audience is listening.
Dave Freeman, 47: Popular Author
Source: www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
(August 27, 2008) In an ironic and tragic twist of fate, popular American adventure travel writer Dave Freeman – his 100 Things To Do Before You Die, co-written with Neil Teplica, spawned a publishing phenomenon and the idea for the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman movie The Bucket List – died Aug. 17 from a head injury caused by a fall in his Venice, Calif. home.
He was 47.
Freeman, an advertising executive who travelled alone to cram more adventures into his eclectic schedule, only visited half the places recommended in the best-selling 1999 book, whose title and marketing strategy powered a tidal wave of lists and literature designed to prod readers' sense of their own mortality and the constraints of time.
Teplica, who operated a website with Freeman from 1996 through 2001 showcasing their combined adventures and highlighting unusual places, events, festivals and experiences, visited the remaining 50 sites noted in their book.
"This life is a short journey," they wrote in the introduction to 100 Things, subtitled Travel Events You Just Can't Miss. "How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on Earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?"
The authors' purpose was to engage readers not just with accounts of physical exploits and visceral thrills, but cultural and spiritual adventures as well, Teplica recently told the Los Angeles Times. Freeman's sense of humour was evident in his stylized logos, denoting adventures where there was "potential to see blood," "gluttony" or "religious fervour," and others that were "dangerous," "down and dirty" or "Grandma approved."
The style and purpose of 100 Things To Do Before You Die were soon adapted countless times by publishers and the popular media.
Born Feb. 21, 1961, he joined an advertising agency in Newport Beach, Calif., after graduating from University of Southern California in 1983, then moved to New York.
From the roof of his co-op on Sept. 11, 2001, Freeman saw the second plane crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Afterward, he moved back to Los Angeles to be near his family.
Where Ballet Meets Summer Camp
Source: www.thestar.com - Susan Walker
(August 26, 2008) "Walk nice ... and tall ... stretch out the spine. Remember, we dance for an audience and not just for ourselves."
Resmi Malko is leading a class of auditioning boys – most of them about 12 – at the National Ballet School's summer sessions. They are from all parts of Canada, from the United States, Europe, and from as far away as Mexico or Turkey. Not all of them speak English.
More than 150 young people, more girls than boys, have come to the school for a month-long evaluation period, in which they take three 90-minute classes a day. They have been selected from the 1,000 applicants seen on video or in cross-country fall auditions conducted annually by the school. At the beginning of August, about 50 of them were invited to join the school's professional ballet training program beginning next week.
Malko, who danced with the National Opera Ballet in Tirana, Albania, knows how these boys feel. Like the entire faculty at the school, including artistic director Mavis Staines, he could remember his first day at ballet school. And like all of the other teachers involved in the summer school, he is paying close attention to bringing out the best in each student. "I really like your energy," he tells a tall blond boy named Stuart.
The whole process could be a lot more intimidating than it is. Gone are the days of stern discipline and instruction through fear. "The whole atmosphere is so friendly and helpful," says Malko.
But the weeks of summer school will put far more demands on these young people than they've ever faced before.
Staines is in her 20th year of selecting and training students for a career in ballet. "For me more than anything else, it's finding the kids for whom it's quite invigorating and inspiring to be asked to do something repeatedly. I love that over the summer you can see them really catching on to the fact that they're increasing their ability day by day.
"There are some kids whose eyes sparkle and you can see that for them this is like brain candy," she says. For those who are granted a place in the professional program that runs through Grade 12, there will be annual evaluations. A childhood dream of becoming a ballet dancer can fade.
"Often around the age of 14 and 15 and then again around 17," says Staines, "we find them doing a lot of soul-searching about whether this really is the profession that they want."
That is where Richard Meen, chief clinical consultant to the school, comes in. Meen and his fellow consultants work with the families, first interviewing the prospective students and then their parents. For those whose children enter the professional program there will be two or three meetings a year where they can see what the school is doing with their kids in its preventive approach to health and wellness.
At the first student evaluation, says Meen, the important thing is "getting a sense of their motivation for dance. Some are not dancing for themselves. They're dancing for someone else."
Another major factor is their preparedness for leaving home, although, says Meen, "most of the time that's a family issue and not a kid issue."
Several weeks into the summer program, the girls in Laurel Toto's class are learning some steps from Giselle.
"It's very festive," she says of the passage they've just watched on video. They pick up the steps right away. "They learn very quickly," says Toto, obviously pleased with the students.
Later, Sophie Robitaille, an 11-year-old from Quebec City, says she always knew she wanted to dance. For her, she says, ballet "is a means of expression."
Alp Deras, a spirited youth of 12 from Istanbul, has had a year of full-time training, but he is in awe of the school with its many spacious studios. "Studying here is challenging, but it's fun," he says.
Deborah Bowes, who has been training National Ballet School students for 25 years, manages the audition process. She and Staines closely monitor the auditioning students over the month. "You can see over the month how their passion for ballet escalates."
In this ballet version of summer camp, the kids inspire each other. "You may be the best student in your school (at home) and then you get in a class with other boys, and you see how they are jumping and you push yourself," Bowes says.
The NBS won't be right for all of these auditioning children. But for those who aren't selected, the word "failure" is not allowed. "If it's not the right time, let's honour the child's sense of purpose," says Staines. "Disappointment and failure are not the same thing."
And there's a lesson to be learned from simply trying out. "You cannot go through life and have passions without learning to deal with disappointment."
Koeverden Wins Silver Medal
Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith
(August 23, 2008) BEIJING– Whatever Adam van Koeverden didn't have on Friday, he found a bit of overnight.
It just wasn't enough to bring him all the way back.
The 26-year-old paddler, one day after one of the worst races of his career, rebounded to win the silver medal in the K1 500 metres at the Beijing Olympics today, beaten in the late stages of the race by Australia's Ken Wallace.
The native of Oakville, who won the same event in Athens four years ago, was caught in the final few metres and finished in 1:37.630 to Wallace's 1:37.252. Tim Brabants of Great Britain won the bronze in 1:37.671.
Van Koeverden had bombed out in the K1 1,000 on Friday here, finishing a distant eighth in a nine-man race in which he was expected to contend, if not win. And while he was mystified at what happened in that event, he was in control the K-1 500 race until the final few strokes.
"I'm proud of myself today because of all of the distractions and the pressure," he said immediately after his race. "For the last 24 hours there's been a lot of doubt in my mind, the kind of thing I've never dealt with before.
"And that's a little victory for me today."
The 6-foot, 187-pound van Koeverden was first halfway through the race, going through 250 metres in 46.84 seconds but he staggered home with the third-slowest final 250 in the race, clocked at a pedestrian 50.79 seconds.
Canada's flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies of the Games, van Koeverden came in with high expectations of winning two medals and as a strong possibility to win both races.
"I tried to sleep a lot but I didn’t," said van Koeverden. "I just ended up lying around and tossing and turning a lot, which probably isn’t the best way to deal with something like that. But I didn’t know what else to do. I probably had four or five cold showers but that didn’t do anything either. ...
Van Koeverden wasn't the only high-profile Canadian athlete to fall short of expectations on the second-to-last day of competition here.
In the women's mountain bike race earlier Saturday, prohibitive medal favourite Marie-Helene Premont, who has already clinched the season-long World Cup title, developed breathing problems in the second of six laps around 4.5-kilometre and withdrew. Catharine Pendrel of Fredericton finished fourth in the same race.
Music Gets Top
Athletes In The Game
Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(August 23, 2008) BEIJING–It's 5 a.m. on the morning of the men's Olympic triathlon and Simon Whitfield is listening to "Tarantulove" by Canadian rocker Hawksley Workman on his iPod.
Once the Victoria native arrives at the course, he turns on the eclectic sound of San Diego singer/songwriter Jason Mraz.
"I watched the guys warm up and it's hot out there," he said. "I just sat there with my cooling vest on listening to music and just chilled out. I think that really paid off."
Whitfield captured a silver medal in the men's triathlon earlier this week at the Beijing Games. Like many athletes here, Whitfield's iPod is a key part of his pre-race routine.
Penny Werthner, the sports psychologist for the Canadian canoe/kayak team, says athletes use music for two reasons. The first is to psych themselves up for competition and the second, and perhaps most important, is to avoid distractions.
"The majority are using it to block out everything else that's going on around them," said Werthner. "Essentially what they're doing is really not thinking at all. They're just listening to music and being in a space before they actually get ready to narrow their focus."
Kayaking star Adam Van Koeverden of Oakville enjoys Canadian artists.
"All sorts of stuff, good Canadian music," he said. "Kevin Drew and Broken Social Scene, Brendan Canning, those guys, Jason Collett. All the guys from Broken Social Scene, that's my favourite band probably."
Star American swimmer Michael Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals, was often seen wearing the ubiquitous white iPod earbuds right before his races in Beijing.
In an interview with NBC earlier in the week, he said most of the time the final song he was playing before launching himself off the starting blocks was "I'm Me" by rapper Lil Wayne.
Trampoline silver medallist Karen Cockburn of Toronto is also inspired by hip hop. She and teammate Rosannagh MacLennan find Kanye West's "Stronger" to be a good motivator.
Diving silver medallist Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que., says he likes a bit of everything but in recent days he's been grooving to dance and techno music.
"I'm very electronic – techno house music really gets me going," said Despatie. "To start warming up, it's very helpful, it gives me a lot of energy and gets me pumped heading into the warm-up and into the meet."
Men's Basketball Team Wins Gold
(August 22, 2008) The USA Men's Olympic basketball team also known as the Redeem Team lived up to its nick name and got the job done by defeating Spain, 118-107, for the gold medal on Sunday.
The victory atoned for the USA's dismal third-place showing four years ago in Athens, Greece.
However, if you saw the game you know it wasn't a cakewalk as had been the case for the USA for nearly all the games they played in during the Olympics.
The Americans led by just four points with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining before pulling away to beat the same team they man-handled by 37 points earlier in Olympic play.
Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and Kobe Bryant added 20 for the USA.
Rudy Fernandez had 22 and Pau Gasol 21 for Spain, the world champions who were trying for their first Olympic gold.
For MORE, go here.
USA WOMEN WIN, TOO
Meanwhile, on the women's side, Lisa Leslie helped the US capture its 4th Gold Medal in row by defeating Australia 92-65.
The game marked the end of the Leslie era. The 36-year-old U.S. center became the first player in Olympic basketball history to win four consecutive gold medals.
She is retiring after giving 19 years of her life to the national team because she wants to pursue other projects and spend more time with her 1-year-old daughter, Lauren.
For MORE go here.
U.S.A. Basketball Regains World Dominance
Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith
(August 25, 2008) BEIJING–Three years ago, they made a commitment and there were disbelievers around the world.
Three years ago, they were an organization in disarray, more known for dysfunction than for the tremendous success they'd enjoyed in the past.
Three years ago, American international basketball was a mess.
Today, it is once again being held up as the global gold standard, thanks to the persistence and planning of a general manager determined to find the right kind of man, the right kind of athlete, to bring it back.
And as Jerry Colangelo stood in the bowels of the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium, minutes after the United States had held off Spain 117-108 in a compelling and competitive gold-medal game, he spoke not only of the team's talent but it's character.
"From start to finish, they were just incredible, a terrific bunch of guys," Colangelo said. "And they carried themselves with dignity."
That was as much a part of the three-year journey the Americans undertook as anything else. They needed not only to win, but to win the right way, with respect for their opponents and each other.
And with respect for the game.
"I've seen a big improvement on their part," said Spain's Pau Gasol, who saw the American teams bicker and lose and fall from grace at the 2002 and 2006 world championships and the 2004 Athens Olympics. "I think they took this tournament very seriously.
"They gave a better feeling of a team. It wasn't so much individual talent or individual team."
That was Colangelo's greatest task when he asked this group for a three-year commitment heading into the 2006 world championships, where the Americans would lose to Greece in the semifinals and finish third.
He's had some players come and some players go, but the core group has remained together and their victory over Spain came about because they knew each other and trusted each other when the game was on the line, traits true teams have.
"I'm elated and I'm convinced more than ever that the fact we had this team together for three years, for the most part, was the telling difference in this game," Colangelo said. "It was a great game, it was a pressure game from the get-go and we never cracked.
"I think the fact we were together for that period of time was the difference. I really do."
So enjoyable was the journey there are players already talking about London and 2012 and keeping the Americans on top of the basketball world. There was a time in the not-distant past where getting the top NBA players to commit to one summer was difficult, getting them to give up two off-seasons was next to impossible and it was laughable to think anyone would give up three straight rest periods to play international basketball in the far-flung corners of the world.
Chris Paul, one of the top young players in the league, is already thinking about a second gold medal.
"You never know the future," said Paul. "I want to play in 2012, but who knows? They might want another point guard so I'm just trying to cherish the moment and remember this for as long as I can."
In their period of repose, there were questions of whether or not some countries had caught up to the Americans. But this tournament established once again that, with their best players committed to the team, they are still better than anyone else. The margin is smaller, but it's still there.
"I think it's going to elevate the image of basketball worldwide," said Colangelo. "This was maybe one of the great games of all-time in Olympic history. The quality and the calibre of play in this championship game was extraordinary.
"I just think the bar has been raised and it's going to be even better the next time around."
Gene Upshaw Dies Of Pancreatic Cancer
(August 22, 2008) *Gene Upshaw, president of the National Football League Players Association, died Wednesday night of complications from pancreatic cancer, just three days after he was diagnosed, reports Sporting News. He was 63. "Nobody knew Gene was sick," said Jeffrey Kessler, a friend and New York attorney who worked with Upshaw during numerous labour issues. "Gene never complained about anything. He just found out about the diagnosis Sunday night. I last spoke to him about a week ago. This is such a shock." Upshaw was the longest-tenured labour leader in professional sports, having been director of the NFLPA since 1983. He was also the only player to appear in the Super Bowl in three different decades -- the 60s, the 70s and the 80s -- as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the Oakland Raiders. The NFL experienced three different commissioners during Upshaw's tenure. He helped secure free agency for players, and he kept the union solidified during a strike in 1987. Also during his reign, salaries increased enormously, and the union was able to win a larger share of the league's revenue for players. "Gene Upshaw did everything with great dignity, pride, and conviction," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He was the rare individual who earned his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame both for his accomplishments on the field and for his leadership of the players off the field. He fought hard for the players and always kept his focus on what was best for the game. His leadership played a crucial role in taking the NFL and its players to new heights." Upshaw was vacationing in Lake Tahoe with his family when he died, NFL Network reported. He is survived by his wife, Terri and three sons, Justin, Daniel, and Eugene Jr.
7 Foods That Cure
Source: By Shawn McKee, eDiets Staff Writer
Food is the fuel that runs the body -- and the better the quality, the better the performance. Foods not only can turbo charge your engine, but they can be great tools for upkeep as well, giving you the tools to ward off the regular wear and tear associated with as many miles as you've put on your body.
What additives do you require to keep your engine running on all cylinders? The vast majority of foods with healing qualities work best in preventive roles and are most effective when consumed as whole foods. If you're not already eating these superfoods, it's time to get in the fast lane.
Beans are a great source of protein and fibre and are extremely filling, keeping you full longer and helping to decrease obesity. Additionally, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in Nov. 2005 reporting a healthy diet rich in lean protein -- about half from plant sources such as beans -- was found to lower blood pressure and "bad" LDL cholesterol as well as cut the risk of heart disease by 21 percent. This magical fruit is full of antioxidants and, in some studies, has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Thank you berry much...
Strawberries, raspberries and especially blueberries have been touted as great sources for antioxidants. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University analyzed 40 fruits and vegetables for their disease-fighting antioxidant activity. They found blueberries to have two to three times as many antioxidants as apples, broccoli, spinach and many other fruits and vegetables.
Berries are thought to slow the deterioration of joints as well. According to a Boston University study of arthritis patients, these foods protected joints because of the vitamin C they contain. Vitamin C is also a key component in the creation of collagen, a necessary component of cartilage and bone.
Go nuts for your heart.
Nuts are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (you know this), but did you know they can help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels? Walnuts have especially high levels of omega-3s, which reduce the risk of heart disease and hypertension.
Japanese men and women who ate one-fourth to one-third of a cup of walnuts a day lowered their "bad" LDL cholesterol levels by up to 10 percent. Walnuts, almonds and pistachios are all high in arginine, an amino acid that increases blood flow to the heart.
PAGEBREAK Grainy reception
Researchers at the University of Minnesota suggest that eating three daily servings of whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease by 25 percent to 36 percent, stroke by 37 percent and Type 2 diabetes by 21 percent to 27 percent. Whole grains include oats, whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur and bran. Ditch the Wonder Bread -- you're a grown up now. Go for breads labeled "whole" and skip those "enriched" kiddy breads.
Yogurt is the king of foods containing probiotics, the "friendly" bacteria that helps fight illness and disease. Yogurt seems be the most beneficial of the probiotics. Two recent studies suggest that eating yogurt significantly improved a person's ability to fight off pneumonia. You can eat yogurt every day -- just make sure the brand you buy contains "live" or "active" cultures, as the bacteria won't be very effective if they're dead before you ingest them.
Study upon study indicates that incorporating salmon into your diet reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease. New research from the University of California, San Diego reports that a higher intake of omega-3s preserves bone density, keeping your bones stronger and protecting against fractures. These omega-3s can also be found in other cold-water fish such as sardines, tuna and mackerel.
Cabbage curbs cancer?
The American Association for Cancer Research presented a study at a 2005 meeting that found Polish women who ate cabbage or sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) four or more times per week were 74 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. Additional studies found that cabbage may also protect against lung, stomach and colon cancers. The secret ingredient seems to be sulforaphane, a phytochemical in cabbage that works by stimulating cells to eradicate cancerous substances.
Source: www.eurweb.com — Jack London
"The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."