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November 5, 2009

November already - where did October go?  Well guess we're one month closer to the big holiday season ... sigh.

And the winner of the 27th World Series is ... the NEW YORK YANKEES
!!  Congratulations!

Lots going on - Announcement will be made on Friday on whether Toronto's bid for the Pan Am Games for 2015 was successful, Caribbean Tourism Organization hands out awards for Canadian media (see pics in my PHOTO GALLERY).  Also, check out my PHOTO GALLERY (photos compliments of Michael Chambers) from
A Linc in Time, the Lincoln Alexander Story, hmv goes digital, Aretha comes to town, Precious getting rave reviews, Teena Marie hits television and Usain Bolt adopts.

This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS


A Vision Beyond 2015 Pan Am Games

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Vanessa Lu

(November 03, 2009)  If Toronto wins the 2015 Pan Am Games when the final ballots are counted Friday in Guadalajara, Mexico, backers say the legacy will be much more than sports facilities.

That's because the two-week Games, held every four years for athletes from the Americas and the Caribbean, can be a catalyst for change here.

It will push forward upgrades to the transit network, including the long-promised rail link to Pearson airport, and new affordable housing. It would also have a ripple effect on the economy, from hotel renovations to a boost in tourism.

"It's a date certain by which a whole bunch of things that governments want to do anyway get done," said bid chair David Peterson, who has travelled extensively in a year-long effort to win votes among the 42 members of the Pan American Sports Organization.

"Governments are notoriously awful at getting things done on time," said the former Ontario premier.

Toronto is bidding against Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru. The Pan Am Sports Organization begins its three-day meeting Wednesday, culminating with a secret-ballot vote Friday afternoon.

Some have criticized the $1.43 billion bid, saying the Games are nowhere near the calibre of the Olympic Games, and not worth the investment. The athletes' village planned for the West Donlands area near the waterfront would cost an additional $1 billion.

The federal and provincial governments have committed to chip in $500 million each, and the province is guarantor should there be any shortfalls. The Games, spread across southern Ontario, would encompass 14 municipalities, which are also committed to financial contributions.

Peterson acknowledges the Pan Am Games are not the Olympics, but argues it's what you do with the event that matters.

Given that the region has lost two Olympic bids, two Commonwealth Games bids and a world exposition bid, Toronto is desperate to prove it can pull out a victory.

"This city needs a win," he said. "Just getting off its butt and saying, `We won something.' People will feel good about it."

Benefits for high-performance athletes include a new training centre at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus and an aquatics centre with two 50-metre pools and a diving tank. Hamilton would get a new track-and-field stadium and indoor velodrome with a 250-metre track.

But the impact on the community will be greater, Peterson said.

"The dream is you'll have Michael Phelps in one pool and some little kids from the community in the next pool," he said. "Every little kid in this province could play in a Pan Am tournament," from soccer to fencing, with winners getting tickets to events during the Games.

"It's really about inspiring and getting young people engaged in physical health, the discipline of sport, the joy of sport," he said.

Beyond that, Peterson sees opportunity for co-branding with universities and cultural institutions such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario and the Luminato and Caribana festivals, to focus on the Western hemisphere in the year leading up to the Games.

"There's something for everybody – something for the mind, body and soul," he said. "It's not just about sport. Sport is the excuse for doing it."

Detractors are not convinced, although opposition has been muted, nowhere close to the campaign run by Bread Not Circuses against the 1996 Olympic bid. Only a handful of protesters turned up when the Games evaluation team visited in the summer.

"We know what's happened with (the Winter Olympics in) Vancouver. There are always cost overruns with sports mega-events," said Helen Lenskyj of Bread Not Circuses. "Every time, there is a promise of affordable housing in Olympic cities. When it has materialized, it is only a very small portion."

Councillor Michael Walker, the only Toronto councillor to vote against the city's $49.5 million contribution – which includes $37.5 million for the new Scarborough facilities – feels the city needs to focus on its core services. "Queen's Park hasn't got two nickels to rub together. We have no discretionary money, and quite frankly, if you don't have discretionary money, you don't invest it on discretionary issues."

Still, supporters like the Canadian Olympic Committee say it's a chance to boost sport in Ontario, which produces fewer international-calibre athletes than it could.

And chances look good this time.

"I've got a good feeling," said COC president Mike Chambers, noting there is some support in Central and South America and very solid support in the Caribbean.

Caribana chair Joe Halstead, who has been involved in the bid by lobbying for votes among delegates in the Caribbean, says he likes Toronto's chances. Halstead, the city's former chief of economic development, was involved in both Olympic bids and the 2015 world expo bid that was never submitted. He said the mood is different this time. "You never know until the ballots are counted, but if I were a betting man, I would be betting on Toronto."


Ban Has Ontario Missing Out On Huge Bucks

By Kenai Andrews -- For SLAM! Sports

Ontario’s wait-and-see stance on legalizing mixed martial arts could be costing the province millions of dollars.

According to an internal UFC economic study that offers a stunning view into the money generated by two recent UFC events – UFC Fan Expo, which took place July 10-11 in Las Vegas, and UFC 101, held Aug. 8 in Philadelphia – the economic impact the MMA company has on the cities it chooses as host sites is substantial.

Even a cursory glance at the data in the study indicates these events pack a massive monetary punch. Combined, the two UFC events generated more than US$105 million (all figures in U.S. dollars) for the local economies.

“We have to figure out how this is going to work out,” UFC fighter Frank Trigg said. “Ontario better hurry up and get on board, because if they don’t, they’ll be losing . . . millions of dollars.”

The two-day UFC Fan Expo, which was held in conjunction with the star-studded UFC 100, generated an estimated $93.7 million, including $76.6 million that had a direct impact on the Las Vegas economy. Additionally, 376 total jobs were created, with $13 million paid out in salaries and wages.

The single-day UFC 101 pay-per-view, which featured a main event of B.J. Penn facing Kenny Florian, generated $11.9 million, $7.7 million of which directly impacted Philadelphia. The event also saw $3.7 million paid out in salaries and wages, with 106 jobs created.

Demographic data indicates that roughly 77 per cent of the attendance for UFC 101 was made up of out-of-town visitors. Ontarians made up 2.5 per cent of ticket sales, travelling an average of 571 kilometres to see the show.

Additionally, the study shows that more than half the tourists attending UFC 101 had a household income of $80,000 or more – more than 40 per cent earn $100,000 or more.

So if the UFC has proven to bring money with it wherever it goes, and citizens of Ontario are willing to travel just to see the fights, does the Ontario Athletic Commission plan on reviewing its ban on the sport of MMA?

In short, no.

Responding to an email inquiry, the Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services, which oversees the Ontario Athletic Commission, indicated that it has no plans to revisit the issue any time soon.

“The Ontario government is aware of the growing popularity and increased interest in North America of professional Mixed Martial Arts events,” Issues and Media Relations Analyst Stephen Puddister said. “When it comes to any athletic event in Ontario, the safety of spectators and participants is a primary consideration.

“The government is monitoring this emerging sport. We are not moving to change regulations at this time.”

With the UFC holding two successful shows so far in Montreal, and Vancouver slated for a June 2010 event, industry professionals are left wondering why Ontario seems intent on keeping MMA promotions out.

“The way I look at it is, MMA in Ontario needs to be legalized as soon as possible,” MMA Connected host (Showdown) Joe Ferraro said to SLAM! Sports at June’s MMA Expo in Mississauga. “If you and I prevented our employers from millions of dollars, like what’s happening in Ontario…would we still have our jobs?”

UFC fighter Frank Trigg said the ban only encourages Ontario MMA fans to spend their money in the U.S.

“People in Toronto are going to go, ‘Well, if they’re not going to legalize it here, I’m gonna go drive the hour to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, the two and-a-half hours to Rochester, the three hours to Syracuse to watch it live and spend my hard earned Canadian dollars; I’ll go spend it in the States,” Trigg said. “But the reverse is also true. I live in Rochester; I have to drive eight hours to get to New York City or I can drive three hours to get to Toronto to watch an event – where am I going to go?

“Well, I’m going to take my hard earned American dollars, and I’m going to spend it up in Canada.”

Sandra Oh On Winning The Gascon-Thomas Award

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - J. Kelly Nestruck

(November 03, 2009)  Sandra Oh graduated from Montreal's National Theatre School in 1993, but the Grey's Anatomy star had never stepped on its venerable Monument National stage until a week and a half ago. (It was under renovations the three years she studied there.)

The Ottawa-born actor finally got to tread its boards in order to accept the Gascon-Thomas Award, given each year by the NTS to those who “have made an exceptional contribution to the growth of theatre in Canada and whose examples serve as an inspiration for the students of the school.” Previous winners include actor Christopher Plummer and playwright George F. Walker.

Oh, a Golden Globe and Genie winner, talked to The Globe and Mail from Los Angeles.

How did it feel to receive this award from your alma mater?

It was really moving for me, mostly to speak with the students. You look back on your life and where you come from and you're not in the same place.

At NTS, you were studying for the stage. Did you think you'd end up with most of your career in film and television?

No, uh-uh. But you can't live as an actor and just do theatre. You have to be able to do everything: radio, film, television, animation. I haven't done a play in three years. The last was Diana Son's Satellites at the Public Theatre in New York.

When your Hollywood career cools down – not that anyone wants it to cool down – would you come back up to Canada to do a play, maybe at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival?

Stratford's quite a commitment. I'm actually trying to go back to work with director Peter Hinton at the National Arts Centre. We've been in contact about maybe putting a play up together. Peter was one of the first directors I worked with after I moved to Toronto; I was in his production of the Jacobean play The Witch of Edmonton . Peter's doing some great stuff at the NAC, building a company. I would love to come back.

What plays did your class cut their teeth on at NTS?

For our third year, we did Chekhov's Three Sisters (I was the youngest, Irina); we did Wycherley's The Country Wife , the Restoration comedy. Then it was Mad Forest by Caryl Churchill. The fourth project I missed – I went to Vancouver to shoot The Diary of Evelyn Lau . I left early, but I still graduated.

Did you reunite with any of your classmates or teachers while receiving the Gascon-Thomas Award?

I have wonderful friends who came to see me. Kristen Thomson was a classmate of mine. She was doing a show in rep at Soulpepper, The Guardsman . She did a show in Toronto on Thursday, flew out Friday, hung out with me all Friday, and Saturday she returned and closed the show. And that was like a vacation for her.

And how was it reconnecting with Montreal?

What a fantastic city. It's changed a lot, it feels much more alive. I used to live between the two best bagel joints in Montreal: Fairmount and St-Viateur. When I was living there, we had no money. This time I went and I got six bagels from Fairmount and six from St-Viateur and I brought them back to Los Angeles.

And which bagel wins out?

Sentimentally, I would say Fairmount – because I lived slightly closer to Fairmount. But it's – they're different, slightly different. St-Viateur is slightly crispier. They're both good.

Members Of The Canadian Media And Travel Agent Community Honoured At The Caribbean Awards Luncheon During Caribbean Week In Canada

Source: Lou Hammond

(October 30, 2009) TORONTO, Canada – The Caribbean Tourism Organization once again paid tribute to the Canadian media and travel agent community during a special Caribbean Awards Luncheon as part of the third annual Caribbean Week in Canada (www.caribbeanweek.ca).  (For photos and video, go to PHOTO GALLERY.)

Silvija Smith, a talented travel agent with Beechwood Travel & Cruise, was honoured with the “Andrew R. Parris Award.”  The award, affectionately dubbed “The Andy” was named in memory of Mr. Parris and his illustrious career promoting the Caribbean tourism industry in Canada with distinction.  The award was presented today at the Fermenting Cellar in Toronto ’s historic Distillery District by Dale Pusching, Director of Sales, Canada , for Anguilla in the presence of Mr. Parris’s widow. 

“Silvija Smith embodies the spirit of Andy Parris in her dedication to sharing the Caribbean experience with Canadian consumers and the travel industry across the country,” said Hugh Riley , secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization ( CTO ). “Now more than ever the Caribbean needs advocates such as Silvija Smith and we are so proud of her efforts to raise awareness for our region.” 

Silvija Smith was chosen by a panel of industry judges from a pool of applicants nominated by National Tourist Offices across Canada and assessed based on the creativity and innovation of their travel programme.  In addition to the award, Silvija Smith was presented with a Caribbean getaway to Puerto Rico with accommodations provided by the Verdanza Hotel.     

Tourism officials, Caribbean tourism suppliers and the media were in attendance at the Caribbean Awards Luncheon, where they also recognized some of the leading journalists in the Canadian media.  Winners included: Janie Robinson for “Special Delivery Via The Mail Boat” in the Toronto Star – Best Newspaper Feature; Mark Stevens for “The Look of Love” in Dreamscapes magazine – Best Magazine Feature; Melanie Reffes for “Unspoiled Splendour” in Canadian Traveller – Best Trade Feature; eTalk for “Canada’s Next Top Model in the Bahamas” – Best Broadcast Feature; and Michael DeFreitas for “Bonaire” in Diver Magazine – Best Photograph.  Mark Stevens was also awarded “Best in Show” for the second consecutive year for his Dreamscapes feature.  He also received a Caribbean getaway to Puerto Rico and the Verdanza Hotel for his efforts.

Caribbean Week in Canada brings together the most influential policy makers, financial leaders, marketing professionals and tourism industry officials to interact and discuss both tourism and investment opportunities in the region.  It also serves to provide a taste of the region to consumers to inspire travel and showcase its diversity.  In addition to the Awards Luncheon, a variety of distinctive events highlighting the Caribbean experience took place including a Media Marketplace and Caribbean Rum & Rhythm Festival.

Caribbean Week in Canada culminates October 31 – November 1 with the region’s presence at Toronto’s Zoomer Show, the city’s first-ever consumer show dedicated to the demographic traditionally known as the 50-plus.  The on-site Caribbean Pavilion, coordinated on behalf of the CTO, is expected to help the region interact with more than 20,000 visitors. For details on the Zoomer Show, visit www.zoomershow.ca.

For more information on Caribbean Week in Canada 2009 visit: www.caribbeanweek.ca or call 416-935-0767 to speak to a representative from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

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: ctony@caribtourism.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: ctolondon@caribtourism.com; 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: ctotoronto@caribtourism.com. CTO Headquarters is located at One Financial Place, Collymore Rock, St, Michael, Barbados; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: ctobarbados@caribtourism.com. For more information, please visit www.caribbeantravel.com or www.onecaribbean.org. Get the latest CTO updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctotourism. Connect with CTO on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization.

Toronto Company Markets Bob Marley

Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(November 02, 2009) Coming to a store near you: Bob Marley video games, shoes ... snowboards?

A Toronto-based company hired by the Marley family to protect the late singer's brand has that planned and more. Heirs of the Jamaican reggae legend are plunging into the global trademark wars, seeking to enforce their exclusive rights to an image that has grown steadily in scope and appeal since the Jamaican superstar died of brain cancer in 1981 at age 36.

The Marley name, look and sound are estimated to generate $600 million (U.S.) a year in sales of unlicensed wares. Legal sales are much smaller – just $4 million for his descendants in 2007, according to Forbes magazine. The Marleys refuse to give a figure.

The family has hired Hilco Consumer Capital to protect their rights to the brand. Hilco CEO Jamie Salter believes Marley products could be a $1 billion business in a few years.

"The family managed all the rights before Hilco was brought on board," said Marley's fourth son, Rohan. "We didn't have a real good grasp on the international scope prior to Hilco, nor the proper management."


Dreamy Resort The Perfect Setting For Romance

Source: www.thestar.com - Heather Greenwood Davis

(October 31, 2009) Providenciales, Turks and Caicos–My son is married. True, he's only six, but so is his new bride. And besides, I was there when he popped the question so there's no denying it. It's a done deal.

Mostly, I blame the setting. Beaches, Turks and Caicos is, after all, a part of the romantic Sandals chain.

In fact, Beaches was developed after Sandals – a couples-only resort – began losing regular customers when days of honeymooning were over and diaper-changing began. By creating the family-friendly alternative in 1997, Beaches was able to invite those honeymooners to come back with the kids.

But the things that made Sandals so popular with the romantics – good food, white sand and gorgeous sunsets – are at Beaches as well.

So when, while waiting to eat dinner under the floating white sails on the patio outside Schooners Restaurant, I heard the question, the firm "no," the question again and an "OK." I knew exactly what was happening.

The nuptials took place on the boardwalk. The groom both officiated and played himself. Meghan, the bride, had no idea what was happening until it was over, but like most wives, settled in to make the best of a situation. And the honeymoon is clearly underway.

We are all staying in the brand-new Italian Village. The bright colours of the older French, Caribbean and Seaside villages are swapped for dark woods and creamy walls inside the 162 family suites on this side of the property and the result is a more upscale feel.

All of the suites have a balcony and a sliding door between the master bedroom and the kids' room (which features a kid's-height mirror and sink, and Xbox 360, bunk beds and a trundle.) The village is home to both the largest pool on the island (12,000 square feet) and the largest Jacuzzi in the Caribbean.

It's not our first trip to Beaches. A partnership with Sesame Street enticed me to bring Ethan here three years
ago. Then, our time at the resort had focused on his (okay, mine, too) love of Sesame Street and the Broadway-calibre shows on property every evening and meet-and-greets throughout the day.

Three years later, I'm not sure Ernie, Elmo and the crew will draw the same response. I figure with Meghan at his side he'll at least have someone to spend time with.

As it turns out, fun for older kids isn't an issue. Not only is he still drawn to the characters, but an all-new water park and revamped kids' area keep boredom at bay.

There's something for everyone: babies, preschoolers, school-agers, tweens and teens.

He's too little for the Body Glove surf simulation machine but not too young to try his hand at the Jam Master Jay DJ Scratch academy, or to ride in his own tube on the 200-metre winding lazy river. Older kids can spend evenings at Liquid – a teens-only nightclub with a Miami vibe and a strict no-adults policy at the door.

Lunch at Barefoot by the Sea means the kids have a picnic table their size, as well as sand to play in and at Mario's there's a medieval area with smaller chairs that are more comfortable for kids who are out of high chairs but still struggling to reach the big tables.

Ethan and Meghan waste no time getting into it all.

He waits patiently at the bottom as she rides the long dark sky high waterslides at Pirates Island. She joins in at the Bake with Cookie Monster classes he wants to attend and both enjoy the chocolate chip cookies that are the end result.

In between, days are spent holding hands on the way to dinner and posing for pictures.

At the kids' club they meet up with other couples and there is a moment of uncertainty when Meghan meets someone new at camp, but all of that is put behind them en route to Arizona's Restaurant for Tex-Mex and the promised possibility of a "dive in" movie at yet another pool. By the time we board the plane five days later I'm even more optimistic about their future together: The hand-holding has waned and they are wearing independent earphones while they take in Kung Fu Panda on DVD, but they are laughing at all the same parts.

Heather Greenwood Davis is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her trip was subsidized by Beaches.


Entertainment Retail Giant HMV Canada Launches Into The Digital World

Source: Universal Music Canada

(November 4, 2009) Toronto, ON – Canada’s largest bricks and mortar music retailer, hmv Canada is thrilled to be bringing their extensive knowledge and passion for music into a new and exciting digital realm!  With a continued focus on expanding their business and reinventing their brand, hmv is launching their new Canadian digital store, hmvdigital.ca.

hmvdigital.ca will launch in ‘beta’ mode on November 4, 2009 when hmv invites its consumers to test the site, and provide hmv with feedback. The site will use an advanced technology platform to allow music lovers to find and enjoy the music they love, in digital form.

hmvdigital.ca will offer a number of unique features including:

Millions of tracks, ALL available, in the MP3 format, free of DRM (digital rights management), making hmvdigital.ca the only major Canadian store that is 100% MP3

Unique “My Downloads” section that centrally stores music purchased from hmvdigital.ca, thereby allowing consumers (who may not be at home, or who may have lost their digital music) to readily

access their previously purchased hmvdigital.ca music

User friendly music search capability

An online music preview player that automatically plays back 30+ second clips of any / all tracks and albums that have been selected while browsing. This browsed music continues playing as background music while customers shop the store

Compatibility  with all digital music players

Store availability  in both French and English

Store acceptance of  Visa, MasterCard, Amex & PayPal

“We know that our loyal hmv customers love music in all forms, and have a much higher predisposition to purchase music in both physical and digital form,” says Humphrey Kadaner, President of hmv Canada Inc. “It has always been our intention to offer our customers a digital music alternative, in addition to our current physical CD offer. However, we only wanted to do so when we were confident that we had a very high quality, and very credible hmv digital music store. We believe we now have that to offer our customers, and are very much looking forward to getting their feedback.”

“While we are excited about the beta launch of hmvdigital,ca, this is just a start as we’re already working on new features and enhancements in support of the official launch in the new year” adds Mr. Kadaner.

As part of their launch plans, hmv will offer visitors a special introductory offer that will give them up to 10 free tracks when they make their initial purchase at hmvdigital.ca  The buyer would receive the equivalent of the purchased tracks in free tracks (to maximum of ten) in the form of pin code emailed to their registered address.  Complete details are listed at hmvdigital.ca for the consumer.

About hmv:

With over 80 years of music retailing history, 379 stores worldwide and 131 in Canada and counting, hmv is the world's premier entertainment retailer of music, DVD, videogames, books, mp3 players and more. hmv focuses on providing an authoritative range and depth of product selection that is superior to that of its competitors, including hard-to-find items and a large number of back catalogue titles.

Weblink: www.hmvdigital.ca

Jay-Z Captivates ACC Crowd With Flashy Show

Source: www.thestar.com -
Ashante Infantry

(November 01, 2009) Jay-Z sure knows how to make an entrance.

A recording of the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" launched a 10-minute video countdown for the New York rapper's appearance at the Air Canada Centre on Halloween night.

At one minute 30, the arena lights dimmed. With 28 seconds to go, the music stopped and the crowd of 14,000 began chanting Hova, one of the entertainer's many aliases, and put their thumbs and forefingers together in the shape of his diamond logo.

Right on cue, the performer rose up from a trap door, clad in all-black and wearing a trick-or-treat friendly hockey mask which he quickly exchanged for sunglasses as the band introduced "Run This Town."

That was followed by "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," another selection from current album The Blueprint 3, which the performer referred to as "superhero music."

That may be the better characterization of Jay-Z's status in hip-hop, than the messianic position he's more commonly afforded given his longevity and propensity for self-attached monikers like (Je)Hova and "The Rock of Gibraltar."

His transition from teen drug dealer to rapper (with 1996's Reasonable Doubt), to record company president, to husband of squeaky clean diva Beyoncé to surpassing Elvis Presley's record with 11 No. 1 albums – only the Beatles have more at 19 – is an extraordinary feat.

And having tempered the misogynistic lyrics and amped up his charitable efforts, Jay-Z who turns 40 next month, is exuding Clark Kent vulnerability these days. A recent sit down with Oprah Winfrey found him recalling the pain of being abandoned by his father. His expressions of gratitude to attendees certainly seemed sincere at Saturday's show, where tickets were priced up to $175.

He generously shared the spotlight, bringing back opening acts, N.E.R.D.'s Pharrell Williams and up-and-coming rapper J. Cole during his 90-minute set, allowing local rapper Drake his first performance (of "Successful") since undergoing knee surgery last month and shouting out Toronto's Kardinal Offishall in the audience.

The entertainer, who last played the arena in April 2008, co-headlining with Mary J. Blige, performed hits such as, "99 Problems," "Hard Knock Life" "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "Big Pimpin.'"

With a clothing line, sports clubs and co-ownership of the New Jersey Nets, rap could've just become Jay-Z's calling card, but he's still dominating the genre.

Though The Blueprint 3 debuted to mixed reviews in September, it's proved a contender, spawning a number of gems – "Thank You," "Empire State of Mind" and "Already Home" – which were wildly embraced at the concert.

"I am a multi millionaire/So how is it/I'm still the hardest nigga here?" Jay-Z wonders in "D.O.A." echoing consternation about his staying power.

It's the authority of his against-the-odds ascendance; effective producers who find him singalong choruses and catchy beats; and a knack for irreverent stick-to-your-ribs lines like – "This ain't for sing-a-longs/This is Sinatra at the opera/Bring a blond/Preferably with a fat ass/Who can sing-a-song."

The show was enthralling, but not ideal: Jay-Z's touring voice is raggedy, his focus on "the haters" gets tiresome and hypeman Memphis Bleek is ineffectual.

Among the highlights: backup vocalist Bridget Kelly's powerful turn on Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind" hook; the 10-piece band's killing horn section; and the unique video towers that recreated the Big Apple skyline.

With the demise of Biggie and Tupac, and Nas and Common still hovering below the mainstream radar, Jay-Z is the most enduring figure from `90s hip hop.

With a nod to self-actualizing books like The Seat of the Soul and The Celestine Prophecy, which he told Winfrey are nightstand staples, he now desires to encourage others.

"It sounds like a cliché, but you can't let nobody block your dreams," he counselled the ACC crowd. "If you have so much ambition, you will be so successful."

He says it better on "So Ambitious":

"I felt so inspired by what my teacher said/Said I'd either be dead or be a reefer head... I went from pauper to the president/Every deal I ever made set precedent... Dear Teacher, you're probably somewhere near a speaker/I'm balling outta control, can you hear my sneakers?"

Heath Ledger Music Video Debuts 20 Months After His Death

Source: www.globeandmail.com -

(October 31, 2009) Sydney — A rap music video directed by the late Australian actor Heath Ledger was posted on video sharing website YouTube on Friday, nearly two years after he died from an accidental drug overdose.

The 3½ minute video of a song called
Cause An Effect by rapper N'Fa, also known as No Fixed Abode, was shot on a single camera in the actor's home garage in Sydney shortly before his death at the age of 28 in January 2008.

It is believed that Cause An Effect was the last project over which Ledger had complete creative control.

N'Fa, previously known as Nfamas from the Australian hip hop band 1200 Techniques, who was born in London but raised in Ledger's home town of Perth in western Australia. The pair were childhood friends.

The video Cause An Effect features close-ups of N'fa, daubed in black, white and red paint. It was included in a tribute to Ledger shown during the Rome Film Festival earlier this month.

“The idea was to keep it very artistic so that is what we did,” N'fa said in an accompanying video. “Heath directed it really well and I was really happy with the outcome ... I know Heath was happy with the work.

“I've often felt uncomfortable talking about working with Health and making the video but I figure it's necessary to explain the idea behind the work and what we were doing and to show genuine appreciation for his time he gave to me.”

Ledger also created music videos for guitarist Ben Drake and U.S. alternative rock band Modest Mouse.

Ledger died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose in his New York apartment in January 2008. In February he won a posthumous Oscar for his supporting role as The Joker in last year's Batman movie The Dark Knight.

Ledger's final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, will open in December.


Meet The Woman Of Jazz: Jaijai Jackson Creates New Jazz Network Worldwide!

www.eurweb.comBy LaRita 'Jazzy Rita' Shelby

(October 30, 2009) *The Jazz Networkworldwide.com was born from a vision held by the dynamic Jaijai Jackson.  Late one night she heard the still, small voice which gave her instructions to connect an international sea of creative types whose common denominator is jazz. 

Now her site is the jazz genre’s fastest growing network on the web.

“It really was a gift from God. I felt this rumbling of excellence come over me.” 

After visiting another social networking site, Jaijai was inspired to create a site just for jazz. Ms. Jackson recalls:

“The next thing I know, there were all of these people coming in starting pages and interacting with each other and that is how it really began.” 

Now that The Jazz Network is up, its founder is overjoyed:

“Each day is a beautiful day filled with variety with all of the beautiful people coming in and all of the supporting roles.” 

The Jazz Network lists categories for performers, radio broadcasters, educators, journalists, artists, promoters, managers, engineers and general supporters of jazz. It is not a monolithic environment which makes it possible to really get something accomplished.   

Another of Jaijai’s fond memories involves an urgent need of an eleventh hour replacement. 

“Early on I got a phone call from a drummer who was touring in Germany when their bass player got food poisoning. They jumped on the Jazz Network and found a bass player in Germany, a female bassist who slammed the gig!” 

Jaijai Jackson (also known as Woman of Jazz) beams with pride as she lives out her legacy.

“That’s what I’m talking about, people finding resources; immediate resources as well as future resources.”  

Jackson is the daughter of the late jazz bassist Chubby Jackson, who invented the five string bass. Her show biz experience includes credits as a singer/songwriter, a radio host and a former booking agent with the renown Willard Agency in New York. Among her other specialties are the ‘jazzfomercials,’ which she produces via www.womanofjazz.com. Her impressive resume is only overshadowed by her tenacity and great humility.

Jazz is alive and well and now served by the great fortune of Jaijai Jackson’s guidance via THE JAZZ NETWORK Worldwide. It’s the web’s new social network with a jazzy purpose!!


Native Son Good Sings Of Vancouver The Bad

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Marsha Lederman

(October 31, 2009) VANCOUVER — Matthew Good does not live where you'd expect. The gritty urban rocker whose latest release, Vancouver , features some pretty dark and angry lyrics, actually lives about an hour's drive outside the city, in a tidy subdivision in Maple Ridge that's lined with manicured lawns and double garages. Good's front porch is adorned with spray mums and an autumn-harvest display. Inside, a couple of dogs and a sweet young stepdaughter complete the scene of domestic suburban bliss.

Yes, this is the same Good who roars “It feels like time to fuck or leave” on Vancouver 's first track, Last Parade ; the same Good whose song The Vancouver National Anthem laments: “We all live downtown/Pay in blood, no parking/Sleep on the ground/Step over ourselves.”

Good's Vancouver is hardly a love letter to the city in and around which he has always lived. While the CD's art features photos and maps of Vancouver's downtown, they aren't the pretty postcard pictures tourists may be accustomed to seeing. Good's Vancouver is portrayed through shots of fire escapes, back alleys, barbed wire and construction cranes. The music isn't any merrier. In no way a tribute to his hometown, The Vancouver National Anthem is instead a critical exposé of a city with which Good has become increasingly disillusioned.

“I lived downtown for the better part of 16 years … and I watched it transform from something that it was, to something that I didn't really particularly care for any more,” Good, 38, said while smoking the first of several cigarettes during an interview in his sunny backyard. “The thing to me that is so shocking and will always be so shocking is that you can take a cab literally from Canada's poorest urban neighbourhood to one of its wealthiest in seven minutes.

“The disparity, the line between [poverty] and affluence, has just become so utterly abrasive and apparent and hypocritical that there just came a point when I couldn't take it any more.”

After three years living in the city's notorious Downtown Eastside – an experience which he says both enraged him and filled him with a sense of kinship with the area's less-fortunate residents – Good decamped to the suburbs last December. “I'll be the first to say that probably it was a little cowardly to run all the way out here, you know? But it doesn't change my passion with regard to what needs to be done in that neighbourhood.”

Passion is something Good has plenty of. These days, a lot of it gets expressed on his blog, where he conveys his strong political views on everything from U.S. politics to the Middle East to the celebration of vampires in pop culture. He has written opinion pieces for publications that include The Guardian , and sees his activism as being inextricably connected to his music. “It's all one and the same to me, really,” he says. “I mean, obviously one's an art form, but then one could argue that political science is an art form, too. I wouldn't really call it a science.”

Good also does an awful lot of reading online – three to four hours a day, often at night when the European dailies are published. His political views bleed over into his music on such tracks as A Silent Army in the Trees – a powerful anti-war lament.

But before the blogging and the political activism, there was, of course, the music. The Matthew Good Band released its first CD, Last of the Ghetto Astronauts , in 1995, and quickly became a darling of the early indie-music scene in this country. Three full-length studio releases (and a lot of touring) followed, but Good, who found himself embroiled in his share of personality conflicts, dissolved the band in 2002 and began recording on his own.

For his latest release, Good says he chose the title Vancouver before writing most of the material, believing the city would serve as a good “backdrop for introspection.” On such tracks as National Anthem , the CD offers a lonely critical voice about a city that is constantly topping the best-place-to-live surveys. On tracks like Empty's Theme Park , it is a morose look back on difficult times.

Good has had difficult times, to be sure: a divorce, a breakdown, drug addiction, a bipolar diagnosis. Those challenges formed the basis of his last studio album, 2007's Hospital Music.

Vancouver , he says, is a much more hopeful recording – despite what appear to be some pretty bummed-out, bitter lyrics. And it is not, he insists, a wholesale condemnation of his hometown. “I didn't really set out to write something that was going to be damning, because there are a lot of aspects of the city that are wonderful. I've lived here my entire life. I am a born-and-bred Vancouverite. I always will be. People will attack the fact that I say the things that I do. How irresponsible is it not to?”

Matthew Good will tour to promote Vancouver beginning Tuesday at the Abbey Arts Centre in Abbotsford, B.C. and ending at Toronto's Massey Hall Dec. 18 and 19.

The Coko Clemmons Interview

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Mona Austin / mona@lachurchscene.com

(October 30, 2009) *For many R&B singers who record gospel CDs, success in the mainstream does not beget success in gospel.  An exception to the rule, Coko Clemmons -- lead singer of popular 90s girl group SWV (I’m so Into You, Weak In the Knees) and gospel soloist -- is enjoying the best of both worlds.

"I don’t like to put myself in a box," she says about her decision to maintain a dual musical identity. I’m an artist who sings positive music." 

Her musical influences?: Patti Labelle, Shirley Murdock, Freddie Jackson, Tramaine Hawkins and The Clark Sisters.

Following in her mother's footsteps and singing in a local gospel group in the early years, the Brooklyn-born artist released “The Winner in Me,” her second solo gospel album on July 14 (landing at #4 on Billboard), a follow up to the Grammy and Stellar Award nominated “Grateful” she released in 2005.

The top of the charts was like home for the R&B singing sorors, SWV in their hey day and she says their fans are still faithful when they perform together today. 

As a wife and mother of two boys - Jalen (6) and Jazz (13) – she says family comes first and manages her work schedule accordingly. 

“I don’t ever stay out for months at a time like I used to do with SWV ... I go back and forth. I don’t want to miss out on my mommy time with them. They miss me. I miss them. We have the computers. We do video chat. We do all of that!”

But she has also made some changes when she is on the stage. Coko is not oblivious to the perceived mixed messages that could be sent by doing both forms of music, so she thought it was appropriate to remove some songs from the SWV performance repertoire during their last tour.

The unique role of having two successful singing careers simultaneously -- one in gospel, one in mainstream -- makes Coko's story central to the age-old gospel vs. secular music debate that ponders whether artists should only use their talents to praise God.

She says, "I still do 'Weak in the Knees' because I’m married, I’m in love and I don’t see anything wrong with me doing a love song."

Neither does accomplished producer/songwriter P.J. Morton, the son of singer and Presiding Bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church, Paul S. Morton, Sr., who has written a book entitled "Why Can't I Sing About Love?" It claims the church has no biblical foundation for condemning secular music about life and love.  

His perspective was the focus of a CNN story on secular vs. sacred music that included the opposing view of former R&B artist, minister/producer/singer Tye Tribbett who declares, "No man can serve two masters and at some point you're not going to be comfortable doing both."

Despite some people's criticism, Coko says, "I enjoy singing with SWV and by myself."

Coko and Morton are among a small army of other outspoken artists like Kelly Price, Michelle Williams, Anthony Hamilton and Lil’ Mo, who cut their performance teeth in the church and have vacillated between the worlds of Gospel and R&B, but don't want to choose one over the other because they believe their ability to do either is a gift from God.

A reflection of her musical philosophy, while her first gospel CD was more churchy, Coko describes her latest, "Winner," as more urban/SWVesque that explains where she's coming from.

Her favourite song is the title cut, "Winner in Me," which she says, "talks about feeling down and out or not feeling the best about yourself, but realizing there is a winner and his name is Jesus and as long as you have him he’ll lead me and guide me where I need to be.”

Despite her choice to sing in “the world” and the “house of God,” the songstress admits she has not experienced any direct resistance.

The Light Records artist has a singular goal in mind with “Winner”:

"I’m just trying to encourage people, uplift them and draw them to Christ and you’ll hear that message throughout the album.”

Some would argue that this goal can be accomplished with or without mentioning the name of Jesus. Right or wrong, based on Coko’s success, she seems to be winning the debate.

For more on the subject of inspirational vs. secular music see this week’s Jet Magazine cover story on BeBe and CeCe Winans who helped revolutionized gospel music by changing its sound.  In the same issue of Jet check out an additional article that features various artists in a head-on discussion of the topic.

View the PJ Morton and Tye Tribbett on CNN click here.

Jay-Z/Alicia And 'Glee's' Amber Riley Rock World Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(November 02, 2009) *Players from both dugouts of the World Series Thursday night were seen grooving to the pre-Game 2 performance of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' ode to New York, "Empire State of Mind."

Jay-Z sported a Yankees cap and varsity jacket, while Keys – in a purple top and black pants - belted out the chorus, first while seated at her piano and then from center stage.

"I think it almost seems like it's the anthem for New York right now," Derek Jeter told MLB.com.

"As a die-hard Yankees fan, I'm honoured to perform a song that celebrates the greatness of New York in one of our city's most important landmarks, Yankee Stadium," Jay-Z said in a press release.     

Jay-Z told ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" that earlier in the day he got a chance to roam the field and imagined catching a ball and doubling a guy out at home plate.

"I felt like a kid," he said. "The field is beautiful. I've never been that close to the field. Walking around, I jumped over the center-field fence and everything, like I was catching a home run."

For Saturday's Game 3 in Philadelphia, FOX tapped the cast of its new hit series "Glee" for the National Anthem. Cast member Amber Riley, who plays the glee club's lone African American member Mercedes Jones, took center stage as her cast mates circled behind her for a well-received rendition.

In other "Glee" news, the cast will be honoured with the Favourite New Television Cast Ensemble distinction at the 17th anniversary Diversity Awards, to be held Sunday, Nov. 22, at The Beverly Hills Hotel. 

Watch the Jay-Z/Keys and Amber Riley performances:

Aretha Franklin: Giving The Queen Of Soul Her Propers

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(November 03, 2009) ‘What you want, baby I got it.” In 1967, Aretha Franklin spelled it out with a roundhouse opening-blow entrance to the song Respect , even before she literally said the letters on the sock-it-to-you chorus – “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” And the backups chirped, “just a little bit, just a little bit.”

Franklin arrives at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall on Friday Nov. 6 as the long-reigning Queen of Soul, but her talent isn't limited to one genre – or even to her head-turning voice. She was gospel-trained and had a nice touch with pop too – listen to her sublime take on Burt Bacharach and Hal David's I Say a Little Prayer . Atlantic Records producer and executive Jerry Wexler thought the world of her piano playing, describing her style as a combination of Mildred Falls – Mahalia Jackson's accompanist – and Thelonious Monk. “In other words,” Wexler wrote in 2004, “Aretha brought a touch of jazz to her gospel piano.”

On the night before Franklin's version of Respect was released, the song's writer and original singer Otis Redding listened to a tape of it in Wexler's office. He said, “She done took my song,” and he was so right.

Leona Lewis Performs In Hometown

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Hilary Fox, Associated Press

(November 03, 2009) London — British pop singer Leona Lewis won strong fan support at her first ever full-length concert Monday night, performing on familiar territory in the east London neighbourhood where she grew up and still lives.

It marked a successful return to the public eye for the pop singer, who was punched in the face by an emotionally distraught man at a London book signing last month.

She has performed live in the past but limited herself to singing just a few songs as she developed the material needed for a full-length show.

Lewis told the packed house at the Hackney Empire, near where she grew up, that it was “fitting” for her to be make her full-length live debut in her hometown. She said she had first performed on that stage when she was 13.

Local fans gave her first show rave reviews.

Susie Marshall, 21, from Hackney, said she thought Lewis was “excellent” and demonstrated “raw talent from Hackney.”

She performed her signature hit Bleeding Love , which topped the charts in Britain and the United States, and also showcased numbers from her upcoming second album Echo , which features the R&B song Whatever It Takes , ballads such as the new single Happy and even a thumping dance tune called Outta My Head .

She also performed two powerful cover versions, the classic ballad The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Snow Patrol's song Run, which ended the concert with silver confetti falling down on the stage.

Standing on stage behind a large screen showing her face in a black lace mask, Lewis first appeared in a large black cloak that she threw off to reveal a Vivienne Westwood-designed stage costume, a lilac top and black puffball skirt, cinched at the waist with a black shiny corset-like belt.

Lewis was joined on stage by Japanese-style male dancers for some of the more upbeat performances.

The singer became a national figure in 2006 after winning British talent show X Factor . She picked up three Grammy nominations for Bleeding Love , which went to No. 1 in more than 35 countries in 2007.

Swell Season, Changing Times

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Ashante Infantry

(November 03, 2009) It's been a heady couple of years for Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the folk-pop duo of Swell Season. Since starring in the 2007 hit film Once and winning Best Original Song Oscar for "Falling Slowly" from the soundtrack, the Irishman and the Czech singer/pianist have had professional highs and personal lows – from an appearance on The Simpsons, to the demise of their romance.

They play Massey Hall Tuesday in support of new disc Strict Joy, and Hansard spoke with The Star by phone prior to the tour's start.

I imagine the success of Once sent a lot of scripts your way.

As great as it is to be getting the calls, you always have to ask yourself `Does it feel like something I can really get behind?' Most of the offers that have come my way have been to play a musician, but I feel like I've done that.

Was Once also a financial boon?

We did great; I could buy a house now and that's the first thing Mar did with the bit of money we made. I still haven't decided where I want to live. I love Ireland and the place I live in, but I can't buy it. I live in one of those old Guinness mansions in Kildare, in the servants' quarters at the back. I was thinking maybe of moving to New York, but I don't know if I want to so much as buy a place there.

Was there some thought of not making another album after your relationship ended?

Yeah, there was a good period of `Let's have a think about this. Is this the end of this band?' It's important to remember that we were mates a lot longer than we were romantic. It wasn't a huge stretch to go back to being mates ... I do genuinely love playing music with Mar and can't think of anyone else in the world that I would rather be travelling around and singing with.

How did your collaborations on these tunes work?

It was mostly myself writing the songs, just by virtue of the fact that myself and Mar were spending less time together. Her opinion is the one I trust the most, so we're definitely still very connected on that level, but in terms of the actual physics of writing the songs – she writes her songs, I write mine.

What's your approach to composition?

I try not to do that thing people talk about where they wake up in the morning and make coffee and sit in front of a pen and wait. I believe that's farming. I let the muse come whenever it's ready. That tends to happen in between the highs and the lows: in the highs you're too busy having a good time to be interested in taking out a pen; and in the lows you're too f---ing doomed out to take out a pen.

Would it be incorrect to view Strict Joy as a breakup album?

It would incorrect to think of it exclusively as a breakup album, (but) it would be a lie if I said it isn't at all. If you think about an album as a collection of songs which are basically diary entries, then of course our relationship is in there.

Seattle Soul Scene On The Come Up

Source: Thornell Jones, Fortress Marketing, fortressmktg@gmail.com

(November 04, 2009) *Seattle, WA - Soultracks.com the nation's leading online clearinghouse for Independent Soul Music recognized the Seattle Soul Music Scene this year with 2009 Reader's Choice Award nominations for two of it's prominent stars.

Darrius Willrich, who calls his music Sweet Urban Soul, was nominated for Best Male Vocalist, while Choklate was nominated in the Best Female Vocalist category along with nods for Song of the Year (The Tea) and Independent Soul Album (To Whom It May Concern).

Choklate remains a finalist in the Female Vocalist Category.

Seattle, known the world over for Alternative Rock music, has quietly been grooming Soul Music artists for the global stage.

Born in Chicago, Quincy Jones, Jr - arguably the world's most accomplished music producer - was raised in Seattle and attended Garfield High School creating an enduring legacy for Jazz and Soul music in the city.

Darrius Willrich, an accomplished Jazz pianist trained at Cornish College has quickly become The Maestro of Soul Music serving as Music Director for many Seattle bands in addition to releasing three independent solo titles including the critically acclaimed Can't Get Enough.

Choklate, a Seattle newcomer, trained as a Nurse before discovering her musical gifts nearly six years ago.

For more information and to experience the music of these stars of Seattle Soul music visit www.darriuswillrich.com and www.choklatemusic.com.

YouTube Star Goes From Broken Strings To Missing Bag

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Brad Wheeler

(October 31, 2009) Coffee, tea, or is it just me? That's what Dave Carroll must be thinking after his latest luggage malfunction with United Airlines.

The singer, who gained folk-hero fame this summer in a fight with United over his broken guitar, now has a new axe to grind. On a flight from Regina to Denver on Sunday, the airline not only lost his luggage but insisted that he stay in the international baggage claim area at Denver International Airport. Mr. Carroll was told that his bag of music equipment and shoes was only delayed, not lost, and that he would need to be there when it arrived.

It didn't until three days later.

The irony of this latest flap with the airline is that Mr. Carroll was flying to Colorado to speak to a group of customer service executives. The modestly successful musician, who struck a chord with disgruntled customers with his everyman-empowering video, now regularly speaks to organizations on the importance of client relations. As well, the singer-songwriter has scored an endorsement deal with Carlton Cases, makers of sturdy travel containers for stringed instruments. Mr. Carroll, you might say, has got a lot of career-boosting air mileage from his baggage misfortune.

"There's no question that my solo career and my career with my band, Sons of Maxwell, are busier now," the Halifax-based musician said last night. "But it's still aggravating when your baggage doesn't show up."

What did the travel-troubled troubadour do when his luggage wasn't there for him in Denver? "I just threw my hands up in the air. I'm no different than anyone else."

Mr. Carroll spoke to The Globe and Mail from Newark, N.J., during a layover on his flight home from Denver. He flew Continental, not United.

Mr. Carroll won international notice this summer for his fight with the airline over its response after his guitar was roughly handled and broken by reckless United baggage handlers. When the airline treated his complaint with the same disrespect shown his $3,500 instrument, the songwriter created a tune and accompanying video titled United Breaks Guitars. The online video was viewed more than 5.5 million times, and United, faced with a whirring propeller-full of poor publicity, eventually compensated Mr. Carroll for his shattered six-string and formally apologized. The airline said it is now using Mr. Carroll's videos - there are two, with one more to come - as training tools for employees.

United has responded more efficiently to this week's mishap. "We apologized to Mr. Carroll for his inconvenience," said spokesperson Jean Medina, "and we have reached out to him to make this right."

The ballad of the missing baggage is reminiscent of rocker Steve Miller's 1976 hit Rock'n Me, a song that chronicles an unnecessarily circuitous touring route taking Mr. Miller from Phoenix, Ariz., "all the way to Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A.," and then on to Northern California - all to ensure that he could be with his "sweet baby, yeah." In Mr. Carroll's case, his baggage never left Regina on a scheduled flight to Denver. Instead it was shuttled to Calgary and Denver, back to Calgary, again to Denver, then to Fort Worth, Texas, back to Denver, and, finally to Mr. Carroll's hotel in Colorado Springs three days later.

It may surprise some that Mr. Carroll, after his initial incident and subsequent run-around, is still munching United's peanuts. "I avoid flying that airline, for obvious reasons," he said. "Since July, I've only flown United for four legs of several journeys."

For his keynote address at the Colorado meeting, Mr. Carroll led with the fresh story of his latest mishap with United. "It got a great reception," he said. "A lot of people there immediately got on Twitter and reported what happened. It's kind of funny, when you think about it."


Best Cabaret Performer - Stage - Sharron Matthews

Source:  NOW Magazine

No demure wallflower, Matthews is out there and in your face.  A regular at Buddies and other venues around town, she can rivet you with her great pipes and then touch you with the tenderness of her interpretations.  And then make you laugh until you pee.  www.sharronmatthews.com

Rihanna's 'Russian Roulette' Misfires: New Single Already Out; She'll Talk To ABC This Week. (Video)


(October 30, 2009) *As you know, if you've seen it before, and if you don't now you do ... thatRihanna is almost topless in the artwork for the single "Russian Roulette" her upcoming album, Rated R, set to be released on Nov 23.   Except for what looks like barbed wire, for all intents and purposes, the Barbados born singer would be nude. Even though it fits the theme of the new CD, it's tactics like that as well as the song itself, that's raising the hackles of a lot of folks.  Maybe that's why "Roulette" has already been replaced by another single called “Wait Your Turn (The Wait Is Ova).”  The second single from Rated R, has been leaked in a low-quality, tagged version (listen to it here). It doesn't matter though as Rihanna is determined to show that she's the preeminent female badass up in here. Makes you kinda wonder if she found her bad side after the Chris Brown beating or was it her badassness that precipitated the beating.  Speaking of that infamous beating, according to ABC promos, Rihanna is set to tell her side of the story “now, for the very first time." Look for it on "Good Morning America" this Thursday (November 5) and on "20/20" on Friday (November 6). Obviously a lot of folks will be interested in hearing what she has to say.

A Macy's Ad Campaign Fit For A Queen


(October 29, 2009) *Queen Latifah will light up television screens this holiday season as the star of Macy's new "Believe" campaign.     Beginning Nov. 6, the rapper/singer/actress will appear in TV spots called "The Trek," which gets its inspiration from the famous New York Sun editorial “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” from 1897.      The ads feature “Virginia” on a journey from her home to Macy’s, where Queen Latifah helps her mail her letter to Santa, according to People.com.      Macy’s “Believe” campaign, which supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, also includes a national Santa tour, an honorary National Believe Day, a “Yes, Virginia” animated special and letter-writing “Believe” stations in Macy’s stores across the country.


Lee Daniels : The “Precious” Interview with Kam Williams (video)

Source: Kam Williams

(October 30, 2009)
Lee Louis Daniels was born in Philly on December 24, 1959.

The iconoclastic director/producer’s own life story is every bit as raw as the films he creates. Overcoming assorted childhood adversities, he founded and was running his own health care agency by the age of 21, providing nurses to private homes and hospitals while simultaneously trying to become a scriptwriter. 

After selling his business, and abandoning screenplays, Lee began managing such actors as Loretta Divine, Michael Shannon, Natassja Kinski, and Aishwarya Rai. As a consequence of the frustration he encountered while searching for great projects for his clients, he later turned to producing, and the natural leap to directing soon followed thereafter.

Monster’s Ball, for which Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002, was the initial offering of Lee Daniels Entertainment. The movie also marked Mr. Daniels as the first solo African-American producer of an Oscar-winning film. He subsequently produced The Woodsman, made his directorial debut with Shadowboxer, and then produced Tennessee.

Here, he talks about new movie,
Precious, the critically-acclaimed screen adaptation of Sapphire’s best-selling novel, “Push.” The picture stars Gabby Sidibe in the title role, along with an all-star cast which includes Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz and Sherri Shepherd. The movie has been the beneficiary of considerable Oscar-buzz since winning three awards at Sundance Film Festival last January, including best picture.

Kam Williams: Lee, I loved the film, and I have lot of questions, but they told me I can only have 10 or 15 minutes with you, so I have to ask you to keep your answers brief in order to touch on everything.

Lee Daniels: To hell with the minutes! We can delve deeply into it. Don’t think about the time.

KW: Great! What inspired you to adapt “Push” to the screen?

LD: Its truth. I read the book, and it just left me gasping for air. I couldn’t believe it. My mouth was open as I turned page after page. I was like, “What the [bleep]?” And yet it was so truthful. I had never seen truth written in such a way. So, I had to have it. I became obsessed with it like a lover. I slept with it under my pillow.     

KW: I assume the abuse issues struck a nerve because you had experienced that as a child yourself. 

LD: I did. That’s part of the film, and it’s certainly something that I identify with. But through the abuse and through the darkness, I actually identify more with the sense of loving yourself, of finding self-love and ultimately loving yourself. That’s what I identify most with, because it took me a long time to love myself and not be so hard on myself. That’s what makes the movie not just a black film, but a universal story. 

KW: One of the questions I routinely ask in my interviews is, What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome in life? And I’m always surprised at the number of celebrities who answer something like “self-acceptance” or “self-love.”

LD: That’s deep, isn’t it?

KW: Yeah. How are you enjoying all the critical acclaim the film is receiving?

LD: I don’t read the reviews, the blogs, or anything else. Instead, I feel the audience when I show the film. And that’s my only experience with connecting to people around Precious. I cry inside when people are standing and clapping for me, and sometimes I even cry on the outside. And I often just have to walk away from it, because I have my own issue with accepting people’s embracing the film. It’s hard for me to accept love. I wish I could lie to you and tell you that it’s easy for me, but it’s not.      

KW: How was it collaborating with Sapphire on bringing her book to the screen and having her on set during the shooting?

LD: It took me forever to talk her into letting me have the book. She was fine with it remaining solely in the literary form, and didn’t want anyone to throw it onto the screen. She’s a scholar and true artist who doesn’t really care about Hollywood. She’d already been courted by Hollywood. I think she believed that a bad screen version would reflect badly on her novel. She finally came around when she finally realized that whether the film was good or bad wouldn’t affect her great piece of literature one way or another.     

KW: Why was she so protective of the book? Is it autobiographical?

LD: No, not in the least! I thought it was, because it was so real. How could anybody make all this up? But Sapphire’s a teacher, and Precious is a composite of many of her students’ lives. 

KW: Why did you change the title from Push to Precious? Because of that Djimon Hounsou film Push that came out in February?

LD: Yeah, we had to. I didn’t feel good about it at first, but I accepted it. However, now I love the title, because the word “precious” has a couple of great double meanings.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks, do you think the film will open a new dialogue about child abuse, incest and teen pregnancy in the African-American community?

LD: It better! I certainly hope so. That’s my objective here. That people will see the film and walk away from it open to discussion. But like I said before, it’s not just about abuse. It really is about learning to love yourself. And it’s also about literacy, and homophobia. 

KW: It also touched in a subtly-powerful way on issues having to do with skin color, hair and class within the black community.

LD: Yeah, I’ve had all types of beautiful girls tell me that they ugly when they look in the mirror, as if it’s someone else’s reflection they see. So, yes we see it through Precious’ eyes, because she’s this black girl, but I think the film can resonate with anyone. You know, it was adapted into a play in London, and the whole cast was white. 

KW: Where did you find the confidence to cast comediennes like Mo’Nique and Sherri Shepherd, and singers like Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz?

LD: They’re all friends, and I really like working with friends. I’m always more comfortable and in a good place when I’m with friends because I know they trust me. I’m able to get great performances from people who trust me. 

KW: How about casting Gabby Sidibe in the title role?

LD: It was the hardest role to cast. I interviewed over 400 girls before I found her. She blew me away. Her smarts is what did it. She’s so smart!

KW: What was it like to win at Sundance?

LD: Out of body! I felt so honoured even to be there. So, when you end up winning, it’s an out of body experience. I can’t even describe it to you. There’s no word to describe it. I felt, “Oh my God, I’m not worthy of this. All these other filmmakers have worked just as hard as I have.” I saw some other films that I thought were as good, but I guess people connected to Precious on another level.

KW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in making this film?

LD: Really, there were none. This was the easiest movie I’ve made. I don’t know how I found Gabby. It was almost like we had angels over us. And then to have Oprah Winfrey call me! I think God has been looking over me, because I decided to talk about a girl that we never see, to focus on a face that we see everyday, yet we don’t REALLY see her.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, did you have any hesitation about bringing Push to the screen, since it’s, in many ways, a salacious story that ties into all the negative stereotypes many people have about the black family?

LD: I did. When I first put the film together, it was in front of some white people. I thought, “I don’t know about this,” since it’s such a personal story. But not long thereafter, when I had this Chinese lady cry in my arms after watching it, I realized that I needed to get over myself because it was a universal story where the characters just happen to be black.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

LD: Yeah. No one picks up on the irony of the picture’s hero, the teacher [played by Paula Patton], being a lesbian which is someone Precious has been told all of her life is a bad person by a mother [played by Mo’Nique] who’s been sexually-abusing her. That’s crazy!

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

LD: Yeah, sometimes, but I have true faith in God. So, I step out of my fear through prayer. I’m afraid for my kids sometimes, for their safety running the streets of New York and on the subway by themselves. Because there are some sick [bleeps] out there, so I get nervous. That’s my biggest fear. But they’re okay.

KW: Do you still live in Harlem? That’s where you were living the last time we spoke. 

LD: No, I moved to midtown Manhattan.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

LD: [Chuckles] Yep, I’m happy! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

LD: [LOL] Just minutes ago, with this African-American journalist. After seeing the movie, she came right up to me and said, “Lee, there you go being naughty again.” I laughed so heartily. 

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

LD: The Bible. That’s mandatory reading for me. I wish I could say something more profound, but I’m finishing up the Bible. I’m in the Book of Revelations right now. Otherwise, I’m constantly reading scripts, which doesn’t leave me any time to get to my pile of books. I need a vacation! But I want to hurry up and get to Pete Dexter’s “The Paperboy.” I’m very anxious to read that.


KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to nowadays? 

LD: I’m sort of obsessed with Nona Hendryx right now, who was one of the members of Labelle. She’s no joke. She’s incredible. I’m sort of feeling her right now, now that I know who I am.

KW: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?

LD: Knowing that my father loved me. I had a lot of issues with him. Not until recently, when I was already in my 40s, did I realize how much he loved me. Is that too personal? As for ordinary obstacles, I have never taken “no” for an answer, so I’ve always been blessed enough to get what I want. 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

LD: I see a little bloat from last night’s alcohol that I’d like to figure out how to drop, because I have to be on TV in a couple minutes. [Laughs] How vain is that?

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

LD: I cook an incredible potato salad, incredible fried chicken and incredible cornbread.

KW: Southern soul food staples.

LD: Those are the three things that my mom taught me to cook that I’ve been commended on.

KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?

LD: With prayer and by leaning on the shoulders of friends. I have a couple of really great friends who support me and help me deal with my neuroses.

KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?

LD: [Shouts] My fans? I don’t know. Do I have fans? By coming out and supporting my film. That would be nice.

KW: The Boris Kodjoe question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

LD: My kids. I’m just really, really, really, really, really proud of them.

KW: Yale University grad Tommy Russell asks, what do you think about Iran’s tentative agreement to export enriched uranium to Russia and France. Do you think Iran will continue to enrich uranium secretly?

LD: Oh my God! [Laughs] I don’t have an answer for that. I’m not adept to answer that intelligently, but I clearly disagree with it. I’m not a politician. I just make movies and raise kids.

KW: Tommy was also wondering what’s your favourite scary film, and film overall?

LD: My favourite scary film is Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. That scared the [bleep] out of me, even more than Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist. There’s something really disturbing about what happens to Charlotte. It’s really a sick film. I’d say my favourite film of all time is Gone with the Wind.

KW: Producer Dianne Cleare who was at the Lincoln Center Film Festival's premiere of Precious, also attended the director's dialogue session with you afterwards. She said she enjoys your work but was most inspired by your graciousness and realness, and would love to work with you in the future.

LD: Really? That’s so sweet. Tell her to get in touch with me at Facebook.

KW: Will do. The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

LD: Oprah Winfrey.

KW: How do you want to be remembered?

LD: For my work, and for my honesty. As a good, honest man who tried to do the best that he could at whatever he did. I’m currently doing cinema. If I decide to give this up for teaching, I hope people remember me as a good teacher. 

KW: What’s your next movie, Selma, about?

LD: It’s a moment in time, about what happened there between Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King.

KW: Thanks for the time, Lee, and best of luck with Precious.

LD: All right, man, have a good one.

To order a copy of “Push,” the novel on which Precious is based, go HERE.

To see a trailer for Precious, visit:

New Film Proves King Of Pop Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving. (trailer)

www.eurweb.com - By DeBorah B. Pryor

(October 29, 2009)  “When fans go see Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT, they’re going to have Michael back, just for a little while.” – Travis Payne, THIS IS IT choreographer

*Who would have thought it possible that we could be distracted from the gut-wrenching reality that Michael Jackson is, physically, no longer with us? But for one hour and fifty-one minutes, in the shelter of a dark theatre, transfixed by the larger-than-life presence on the screen – making all the moves we have come to know so well - delivering the music that remains permanently etched in our psyche, here he is.

The man we so lovingly crowned the “King of Pop” years ago is alive ... well ... and in all his fantastical glory. Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT is a tangible gift the world can hold on to.

The best “All Access Pass” fans could ever expect to obtain, Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT reveals an MJ we could never otherwise have experienced; in a way we will not soon forget.

And this was just the rehearsal.

Crafted with undeniable love and respect by famed director Kenny Ortega, the film shows that, had the concert become a reality, MJ would most likely have accomplished exactly what he set out to do “Give them something they’ve never seen before.”   

When asked why it was so important for him to direct this film, Ortega says:

“It became a responsibility for me. Who else was going to do it? I was there, and I felt that I could protect his ideas and the integrity of his last theatrical work. But the real reason it became so important to me is that I heard an outpouring from fans, people who said, ‘I had tickets to the concert, tell me, what was it going to be like?”

Ortega and Jackson have been friends for more than twenty years. The two first met in the 1980’s when Michael called the directors’ home and was greeted by the screams of Ortega’s niece, who answered the phone. They have always wanted to work together.

Sometimes it can take decades for the right “something” to come along. Jackson was sure that


“We had a heart-to-heart connection,” Ortega says of his relationship with Michael Jackson – and in the film it shows. “We truly loved each other ... We loved theatre and film, adventure, sci-fi, even horror films. We loved Broadway and pop music and classical and opera. When you’re with a good friend, you never struggle for conversation.”

THIS IS IT will undoubtedly be a lot of different things to a lot of different people; but to Michael Jackson’s creative partner Kenny Ortega – who upon signing on to direct the film called friends who were knowledgeable about various genres of entertainment for guidance; this film is a mosaic.

“This is the show that no one was ever going to get to see,” Ortega admits. “At the time we didn’t know we were making a film – we were in the process of building our show. So this film is like a backstage pass, a private peek into a world that otherwise no one would have seen, a glimpse into the creative process of Michael’s final theatrical work.”

With this project, Jackson meticulously assembled some of the best in the business; and will executors John McClain and John Branca serve as executive producers on THIS IS IT. Some of the cast and crew include old friends and collaborators from years’ past- people that Jackson obviously felt very comfortable with. Like choreographer Travis Payne, who danced with Jackson for a while prior to choreographing his ‘Dangerous’ number for his American Music Awards appearance in 1992 and the subsequent tour. Payne credits the icon with launching his career; and Randy Phillips, the THIS IS IT film producer and AEG president who has known Jackson for 25 years; and Paul Gongaware, who also works with AEG, and oversaw production and tour direction of Jackson’s last two tours.

But it is director Kenny Ortega that comes across the film throughout as an exceptionally sensitive and simpatico creative collaborator. The exuberant cast clearly devours every opportunity to show their love, gratitude and unabashed devotion to and for their idol. That is, of course, when they’re not busting their asses!

The film opens with the cast and crew giving statements of how Jackson has influenced them; some of them, unable to communicate clearly beyond tears of pure emotion and adrenaline as they recall how Jackson literally changed the direction of their lives. We often get glimpses of the cast and crew standing on the sidelines watching, applauding, laughing and encouraging Jackson as he goes through his various altered states onstage. Sometimes thinking out loud, ‘I’m protecting my voice here’ – and other times intercepting a musician, “No, that’s too soon, it’s got to simmer.’ And yet other times, pointing that long skinny finger as he contorts his body to become one with the music ... ‘tat-da-da-dat-dat-dat!’

At one point in the film Michael is channelling the mood for a particularly intricate scene. In an exquisite use of sheer cinematic genius, he and Kenny Ortega have managed to incorporate their shared passion for Old Hollywood in a segment where Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ from the BAD album is the backdrop for him to co-star with movie greats Humphrey Bogart and Rita Hayworth. At one point we hear Ortega’s voice offstage asking, “But Michael, how will you see when the marquee lights up? After an almost uncomfortable minute of dead silence on the set Jackson, unfettered, responds, “I’ll feel it.”

And no one doubts that he will.

In THIS IS IT Jackson holds nothing back to get what he wants from his cast and crew. While he shows obvious respect for the skill and talent he has assembled, he is clearly the articulate, directing force behind every aspect of this project. Every breath is his. It is his vision that everyone else has to catch up to. Gone is the sweet, soft, tentative and shy voice so many took pleasure in mimicking over the years. In this film, the butterfly has emerged; and its voice has developed into a beautiful full timbre that bellows throughout whatever space it inhabits.

What makes THIS IS IT so stunning is that we are all right there as Michael Jackson is getting there and his journey is a lesson in itself - the stuff that college curriculums should be made of. 

Somehow, from materials never meant to serve quite this purpose, Ortega has artfully weaved together a variety of rehearsal footage to create performances that honour his late, great friend’s legacy. When asked what he thinks made Jackson such a remarkable talent, Ortega recalls all the great, classic artists who inspired a young Michael: James Brown, Bob Fosse, Sammy Davis, Jr., Fred Astaire, Diana Ross and Quincy Jones. He is sure to point out that Jackson never imitated any of them, and was always true to himself, but responds, “...he was inspired, and he learned, and he built and imagined himself into an artist that was like no artist we’d ever seen or perhaps never will. He was an entertainer’s entertainer. I’ve worked with so many greats, but Michael, without a doubt, was the greatest of them all.

On a number of occasions captured in the film, Jackson has to remind himself not to go all-out as a singer or dancer, yet in the end he simply cannot help himself from being great.

Who would have thought there’d be anything more one could do to enhance THRILLER?

But in THIS IS IT, Michael Jackson does just that.

Who would have thought that the man we have glimpsed occasionally riding around town in a wheelchair over the past few years would still have the moves he had when he was in his prime?

But in THIS IS IT, Michael Jackson clearly does.

THIS IS IT producer Randy Phillips, who was also Michael’s concert promoter and the person who brought the idea of Jackson doing a series of concerts at the O2 Arena with his company, AEG Live, says:

“This is a man very much in command of his art and his craft and what he wanted to do. In many ways, everything that was the purpose of his life appears in this movie in some way.” 

Phillips says it took two years to convince Jackson to do the concert. At first, he actually turned them down. He recalls the final night they were together, the last rehearsal on the evening prior to Jackson’s death.

“I was transfixed – he was on stage, dancing and singing and I got goose bumps. And when we left to go to our cars, he put his arm around me and said, ‘Thanks for getting me this far. I can take it from here.’”

The world was given the gift of one Michael Joseph Jackson on August 29, 1958. That gift, even now, keeps on giving. Thank you, Michael, with THIS IS IT the still-aching hearts of those who love you, can rest a bit easier.

DeBorah B. Pryor has written for numerous publications over the past decades and for four years served as an editor at the former, Black Radio Exclusive (BRE) magazine. She is the founder and president of THE ART OF COMMUNICATION and provides workshops and private consultation for professionals challenged by anxiety, shyness and an inability to be their professional best. Her CD, “Public Speaking for the Private Person” was released in August of 2009. Contact her via the website: www.dpryorpresents.com.


Amereeka: Nisreen Faour Charming As Palestinian Coping With America

Source: www.thestar.com -
Garth Woolsey

Linda Barnard
http://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gif(out of 4)
Starring Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem and Hiam Abbass. Written and directed by Cherien Dabis. 96 minutes. At the Cumberland, Sheppard Grande. 14A

(October 30, 2009)  "Occupation?" the border guard asks middle-aged Muna as she and her teen son arrive in the U.S. from the West Bank seeking to start a new life.

She smiles sadly. "Yes. It is occupied. For 40 years."

Filmed using a documentary style, Palestinian American director Cherien Dabis employs often-maddening misinterpretations common to the immigrant experience to good effect in
Amreeka, a story seen through the eyes of a Palestinian family living near Chicago.

With Winnipeg standing in for a Windy City suburb, newly divorced Muna (Nisreen Faour) and son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) move in with her sister Raghda (The Band's Visit's Hiam Abbass) and her family, a situation hoped to be temporary. But when their savings vanish, Muna realizes they may be there for the long haul.

Muna is also burdened by the bad timing of arriving in March 2003 and the invasion of Iraq, a point when Americans were hardly welcoming to Arabic-speaking people.

But warm-hearted Muna remains optimistic. With two university degrees and 10 years in banking, she sets out to find a job with puppy-like enthusiasm but finds there's no warm welcome for Arabs in post- 9/11 America. "Don't blow the place up," one interviewer says with a chuckle.

Humiliated by her inability to contribute and realizing that Raghda's physician-husband is also facing anti-Arab sentiment as his patients begin to go elsewhere, Muna goes to work behind the counter at a White Castle burger joint.

She works an elaborate ruse to keep her family from knowing she's flipping sliders at the restaurant with a "Support Our oops" sign out front and finds some unexpected allies along the way, including her crew boss, a blue-haired teen named Matt.

Meanwhile, Fadi has his own problems. His teacher introduces him to the class as "Fatty" and classmates spout Operation Iraqi Freedom rhetoric, demanding Fadi spill the beans about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts.

I'm not from Iraq, he protests. What's the difference, comes the reply.

Luckily Fadi has a protector: wisecracking political-activist cousin Salma (Whip It's Alia Shawkat) is a classmate and she's fit in just fine in America. She's happy to show Fadi the teenage wasteland ropes.

Soon Muna begins to find her feet, too, learning how to cash in on a bit of that American Dream for herself while seeing new hope for her future thanks to the tentative attentions of a local high school teacher.

Winner of the 2009 FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year, Amreeka makes its points with gentle humour and engaging performances, especially Faour who makes Muna so likeable it's impossible not to cross your fingers and hope her luck is about to change.

Watch For It: 3D The Next Level Of Visual Entertainment

Source: www.thestar.com -
Raju Mudhar

(November 01, 2009) There is a wave of 3D coming at you. Now, while most of you have probably just recently made the switch to HD, the film, gaming and graphics industries are already committed to an attempt to move us all up to the next level – adding depth, literally, to every kind of visual entertainment.

It's not far off. In the past month, I have seen movies, commercials, music videos, concert footage, sports, played video games, seen it on an iPhone and even shot a 3D picture with a digital camera. There have been wow-gee-whiz moments, and some "that looks a bit like a moving cardboard cutout" disappointments, but no matter where you look, the biggest names in entertainment are betting big that it's going to become the norm – that much of what you watch on any screen will soon be 3D.

The next big thing – 3D-Day – that everyone is looking forward to is the Dec. 16 launch of Canadian film director James Cameron's new sci-fi epic Avatar. That film's arrival, many believe, could signal the true tipping point that this technology needs to become the new mainstream – and diehards would say, it's about time. There have been plenty of tests and attempts recently to improve the 3D experience by companies all over the world. Many in the entertainment industry have seen them all, creating a kind of global 3D club that is singing the praises of what's about to hit all of your various screens.

Among them are plenty of local folks that are hoping to cash in on the third dimension's rise. James Stewart is a member of that 3D club, and a local video producer/director specializing in commercials and music videos. His Liberty Village-based company, Geneva Films, is capitalizing on the coming wave. "I keep telling people we've got to shoot stuff in 3D, so I've ended up on this kind of evangelizing circuit at conferences speaking about it," he says. "It's been an amazing business decision for my company, because it has really separated us. There are many projects we can't talk about, but we shot an A-list concert in 3D a week ago." Amid a serious recession, he notes, "we're basically booked until Christmas doing 3D projects."


It's obvious why 3D is seen as the next gold mine for big entertainment companies. It's a way to keep people coming to theatres, and as of now, it's piracy proof. As well, despite its use in mostly animated movies so far, experts see the real growth in broadcasting live concerts and sporting events. Just this past week, Televisa, the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world, broadcast the América versus Guadalajara soccer match last Sunday in 3D to theatres in Mexico. College football and the NBA have also tried 3D broadcasts in U.S. theatres.

Stewart says that much of the 3D editing software was developed for U2 3D, a breathtaking 2008 concert film that premiered at Sundance. "My favourite thing to see when I look at something that's been shot in 3D is when you're in the crowd. You can see actually see that depth and the stage in the background, and you can really feel, like you're immersed and present in that field," says Al Lopez, chief of operations at Spatial View, a Toronto-based company that is specializing in glasses-free viewing and created the iPhone 3D effect.

As for the naysayers who feel it is a gimmick, Stewart doesn't disagree.

"Everything that we do as filmmakers is a storytelling gimmick," he says. "It's a tool that filmmakers can use to tell stories in the same way that you use surround sound and go `boom' in an action film.

"None of this is reality, whereas 3D lets you see things as you really do, with an image for each eye."


Stewart likes to say, "3D has 50 years of bad PR." Today's technology solves many of the problems that have plagued it as a mainstream acceptance. It's not particularly important to know all the finer points – many of the players are using different approaches and each tout their own, and Stewart notes even insiders still get confused.

The real breakthrough has been the move to digital, which has transformed the entire process – allowing quality control throughout production, and ensuring that the images are synched when broadcast, which was one of the biggest problems in the past.

"I've kept up with 3D since it started. I'm old enough to have seen the '50s movies in 3D. And then the `80s revival, which was kind of a disaster and then the current version. The current version is far better technically the other versions and easier to project," says Joe Dante, veteran director of films like Gremlins. He's touting the upcoming kid-friendly 3D horror, The Hole, which had its North American premiere at TIFF.

"In the '50s (3D movies) fell apart because of bad presentation. In the '80s, same thing. People got bored; people got annoyed or got headaches due to how you project it. Again, the current version of 3D is far superior, but it still needs to be maintained. And if a person has a bad experience in 3D, they're not going to want to see 3D, and if you add that up with percentage of people who can't see 3D ... you've got to keep your audience base happy."

(Nobody knows exactly what share of the moviegoing public is physically unable to see projected images in 3D. But as Stewart put its, "There are people that are colour blind, does that stop us from making film in colour?")


So far the big moves toward 3D's emergence have been in the theatres, but it's the in-home, glasses-free experience that's considered the Holy Grail. It's the goal for the guys at Toronto's Spatial View. The company's current product is a lenticular lens, (remember those cards you could bend in the light and get a 3D effect?) which overlays on a computer monitor and combines with eye-tracking software to create an impressive 3D effect.

Spatial View also has a miniature device, similar to its overlay for computers, with a lens that slides over the iPhone screen. Then user then has to move it to find the `sweet spot' to get the effect. The company is in talks with major PC manufacturers to incorporate their technology, although they can't say who.

Another big trend is what's called non-gratuitous 3D – depth into the screen as opposed to the punching out.

"It's the immersion factor that I prefer in 3D, rather than the breaking-the-frame part," says Dante.

"I'm a big believer that 3D is an underrated medium, I think it's wrongly categorized as only for horror films and only for gimmicks," the director says. "For me, the film's enriched because that you can actually watch the movie and get the impression that you're on the set with the actors that these things are happening to."

The Hole does have some erupting-out-of-the-screen moments, but as the title implies, it has plenty of others that play with the sense of depth.

While there are many projects in the pipeline, beyond its horror typecasting, 3D has been mostly used for animation. Stewart has seen 15 minutes of Avatar, and he's impressed enough to believe that it will live up to the hype and turn adults on to the technology.

But Stewart doesn't think the recent limited rerun of kiddie hits Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D, (with more likely to come) makes sense from a marketing perspective.

"For a kid growing up today, they are going to grow up with 3D as their normal. A kid today has already seen five digital 3D films. Why would they want to see a 2D film? When they get older and move over to dramas, they're going to say, `of course it's 3D. Why wouldn't it be 3D?'"

More Than A Game: The Kid Who Would Become King

Source: www.thestar.com -
Murray Whyte

Linda Barnard
More Than A Game
http://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gif(out of 4)
A documentary about LeBron James and the Akron Fab Five. Directed by Kristopher Belman. 105 minutes.
At the Scotiabank. PG

(October 30, 2009)  
More Than A Game is also more than a LeBron James bio, which helps make this low-budget look at a group of high school basketball heroes deliver on its promise.

King James devotees need not fret, there's plenty of on-court, basket-pounding action from the superstar, from his earliest days up to current NBA glory with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But what will likely matter more to fans – and will engage even those who don't follow the sport – is the depth of character and commitment to the game and each other found among LeBron and his young teammates in Akron, Ohio.

Inspiring as it is to watch James, ears sticking out like a car with its doors flung open, firing no-look passes as a 10-year-old, camera time is also generously spread among his four teammates and the coaches who took on roles as surrogate family to the young players.

The doc, which premiered at TIFF '08, began as a film-school project for first-time director Kristopher Belman. And More Than A Game never gets past those humble roots. It drags in places, becomes repetitive and could use a more rigid hand in editing, but it also has a kind of pleasing earnestness that would be lost in a more sophisticated effort.

Four of the five – James, Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III and Willie McGee – started out as the Shooting Stars, skinny Grade 5 kids coached by Joyce's father, Dru Joyce II, an Akron executive and former college football player who ended up coaching basketball by default.

(Cocky Romeo Travis joined the four later, where his lone-wolf approach rankled the close-knit group.)

The strain the coach-player demands put on the father-son relationship between Joyce and his son, and Joyce Sr.'s admitted regrets about how relentlessly he pushed Dru provide poignant moments.

But Joyce the younger rose to exceed his father's expectations.

Footage of the diminutive guard, who barely topped five feet, first being jeered by the crowd and courtside announcers at a championship game, then pulling out an amazing seven three-point shots with machine-like accuracy is inspiring.

There's some satisfying fodder from self-effacing Coach Dru, who quietly admits his faults in a small office filled with books on the game and old VHS tapes, tools he used to teach himself the sport.

Inspiration fuels much of the action, along with repeated messages about team, family, loyalty and the benefits of hard work, bolstered by interviews and candid scenes shot in the locker room and on the team bus.

But sentiment is sometimes used as a prop and filmmaker Belman misses chances to go more deeply into his story.

An exception is a shaky scene shot in 2003 in an Akron bar that shows the dark side of James' teenage fame, when a local tough shouts insults at his back as he leaves a restaurant.

"Jerk," he mutters.

LeBron James NBA salary is $14.4 million (U.S.) this year. Now who's the jerk?

Mo'Nique: The 'Precious' Interview With Kam Williams

www.eurweb.com – by Kam Williams

(October 30, 2009) *Mo'Nique Imes was born on December 11, 1967 in Baltimore which is where she started her showbiz career as a stand-up comedienne on a dare a couple of decades ago.

From there, she gained visibility and immense popularity with performances on "Showtime at the Apollo," HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," "Apollo Comedy Hour" HBO's "Snaps," BET's "Comic View," The Montreal Comedy Festival and Uptown Comedy Club.

Her big break arrived in 1999 when she landed a starring role on the television series, "The Parkers." During the show's five-year run, Mo'Nique earned numerous awards, including four NCAAP Image Awards as the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series.

Her film credits include Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Two Can Play That Game, Hair Show, Three Strikes, Baby Boy, Beerfest, Phat Girlz, Soul Plane, Irish Jam, Domino and Shadowboxer.

As a voluptuous role model for Rubenesque females Mo-Nique wrote the best-selling book "Skinny Women Are Evil," as well as an equally-funny follow-up entitled "Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted." She also created, produced and emceed "Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance," America's first, full-figured, reality beauty pageant.

Struck by the skyrocketing number of women behind bars, she brought her act to a prison to tape a comedy special called "I Coulda Been Your Cellmate" which aired on TV before later being released on DVD. Then, she delved further into the issue as the host of "Mo'Nique: Behind Bars" for the Oxygen television network.

Here, she talks about "The Mo'Nique Show," her new late-night talk show on BET, and about her Oscar-worthy performance in Precious, Lee Daniels' eagerly-anticipated screen adaptation of Sapphire's novel, "Push." 

Kam Williams: Hi Mo'Nique, thanks so much for the time.

Mo'Nique: Hey Kam! Thank you, baby!

KW: Congratulations on the new TV show.

M: Thank you!

KW: How would you describe the format? How are you dividing the time among monologues, interviews, and musical and other performances?

M: I can't give you those numbers, baby, because the show is so unpredictable. We're just having a great time.

KW: What interested you in doing a talk show?

M: Well, I've always wanted to do a talk show. That was the whole focus from the very beginning. First, I thought it'd be like Oprah Winfrey, but the comedienne in me wouldn't let me do that. So, when my husband [Sidney Hicks] and I spoke with Loretha Jones [BET's President of Programming], we said, "We want to do late-night. We want to have a party."

KW: Speaking of partying, you were recently spotted in Manhattan partying at Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson's Sugar Bar with Lee Daniels, Andre' Leon Talley and some other folks. Did you have fun?

M: I had a blast, Kam. When you go to the Sugar Bar, the kid in you truly comes out.

KW: When you mentioned Oprah, it reminded me that I told my readers I'd be interviewing you. And one of them, Laz Lyles, was wondering how much it means to you to have Oprah personally get behind the film in such a strong way.

M: It was a pleasure. She's a powerhouse. She's Oprah Winfrey. You know what that means. So, when she said, "I dig this," I was very appreciative of it. 

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks, how do you do it? You're already a mother, actress, author and comedienne, and now adding late night TV host. So, she wants to know how you keep sane and healthy and how you manage to juggle everything.

M: There is a great group of people that surrounds me, starting with my husband, who is my business partner and executive producer of the talk show. With our assistants and our staff in our home, we have a great team. So please believe me, I'd love to say, "Oh honey, I'm a superwoman!" But I'm so far from being a superwoman. It's all the people who surround us are what make Mo'Nique work. 

KW: Laz also asks, was it hard for you not to take you character home with you at the end of the day when you were shooting Precious?

M: It wasn't hard at all. We left it on the stage. When Lee said "Cut!" that's what it was.

KW: Schoolteacher Erik Daniels says he really enjoyed I Coulda Been Your Cellmate, your stand-up show shot inside a women's prison. He's curious about whether you've stayed in touch with any of the inmates you met.

M: Tell him, that to my surprise, when I was at the Sugar Bar the other night, I bumped into a woman who was in that prison when I was there. We hugged so tight, and she introduced me to her son.

KW: Erik also wants to know if you have plans to do something like that again.

M: I don't think I'll do another one, because I think it was special in the moment for all of us.

KW: Marcia Evans says that she wants you to know that this fan of yours gained more respect for you after your opening up to Oprah about the sexual and emotional abuse that happened to you. Just let her know that I'm so proud of her stepping up. She goes on to say, "I want Monique to know that she has probably healed some women by sharing her truth. Monique you are looking beautiful!" I guess she didn't exactly have a question.

M: Well, tell that baby, thank you very much!

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

M: [Laughs] No!

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

M: No.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

M: Have you ever seen a light bulb when it's at its brightest but getting ready to burn out?

KW: Yeah.

M: That's how I feel.

KW: I can understand, between the new TV show and the movie. I was totally blown away by your performance when I saw Precious. And I've never heard so much Oscar-buzz so far in advance of a picture's release. Everybody's been talking about your Academy Award -worthy performance since last January when the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. How do you feel about all the buzz?

M: You know what? I'm excited about any buzz. I was excited when Lee Daniels first called me up. Just for the movie's message to be told, that's where the real excitement comes in for me.

KW: Bookworm Troy Johnson wants to know, what was the last book you read?

M: Oh my God, I love Troy for that question. I just completed Diahann Carroll's "The Legs Are the Last to Go." Kam, after reading that book in three days, I have such respect for that woman. Oh my God! That book will blow you away, because she's so brutally honest about who she is. It's incredible! (Check out the book here.) 

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to? 

M: The last thing I listened to was Whitney Houston at about 6 this morning. I'm also listening to Maxwell a lot, but I'm really excited right now for Whitney.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

M: Kam, my favourite dish to cook is macaroni and cheese.

KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?

M: By realizing that they're not my fans, but my bosses. I want them to know that I'm just as excited as they are when they ask for an autograph or take a picture with me, because I'm still that little girl who used to practice in the mirror.

KW: Speaking of mirrors, when you look in the mirror, what do you see?

M: [Laughs] I see somebody, baby, that's full of life. I see somebody that still has a lot more growing to do and is willing to take it on. I see somebody that the universe said to her, "We're going to give you this and see how you deal with it."  I see somebody who has an incredible husband, amazing kids and great people around her. So, when I look in that mirror, I be like, "For real?" 

KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?

M: Bless my brother Flex's heart. Fortunately, I don't have no tough times.

KW: Thanks again, Mo'Nique and I'm expecting to be congratulating you on your Oscar, the next time I speak to you. 

M: Thank you so much, Kam. Bless your heart, sugar.

To order a copy of Mo'Nique's book, "Skinny Women Are Evil," go HERE

To order a copy of Mo'Nique's book, "Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted," go HERE.

To order a copy of Mo'Nique's DVD, I Coulda Been Your Cellmate, go HERE.

To see a trailer for Precious, click HERE.  

EUR Reviews 'Skin': Black Child Born To White South African Parents Catches Hell. (Video)

www.eurweb.comBy Fran Scott

(October 30, 2009) *Few can say they have been white, and a person of color in the same lifetime. Sandra Laing can. Her true story brought media attention to the cruelties of the South African Apartheid system which by law made living with her biological family a crime.

Her romance with a dark African earned her time in jail; her racial classification legally forced an estrangement from both her parents and two of her children.

Born an inexplicably African featured child to white parents, who belonged to the party that believed the races should be kept apart, she was classified as white, and admonished to stay out of the sun. 

To no avail, she became darker until the age of ten when she was police escorted out of her whites only school and reclassified by the government as "coloured" - making it illegal to live with her white parents, and denying her an education at all institutions but one far away boarding school. 

Feeling understandably more accepted with the children of the African servants, she became attracted to an African vegetable grower incensing her middle class white father who had fought to have her re-classified as white, as the child of white parents.  Her father's public fight to retain her white status resulted in changing of South African laws.  When she became pregnant, it was illegal as a classified white woman to live with her children of color. 

Skin," based on the true tale of Sandra Laing's trials has won numerous awards, and receiving acclaim screening at festivals worldwide, in Toronto, Dubai, Rio, and the AFI festival to name but a few, most recently snagging the audience award at the Pan African Festival. 

Fox Studios veteran, and producer, Bill Wynn is promoting the film's theatrical release. He urges audiences not to miss the film's limited run, particularly one with an all Black cast, which needs the support. Sandra Laing herself has flown in from South Africa to answer questions during the film's American run. 

"Skin" was more than seven years in the making by director Anthony Fabian who relates that, although screening to rave reviews, he was told by industry insiders it would not perform well with an all Black cast.

Following Dutch and UK releases, it is up to the US audience to prove otherwise, and come out with a strong show of support for its run here. 

Starring Oscar nominated actress Sophie Okonedo, "Skin" opens today, Friday October 30, in LA and NY. Tickets and schedule times available online at www.skinthemovie.net.   

The Wedding Song (Le Chant des Mariees)

www.eurweb.com - By Kam Williams

(October 29, 2009)  *16 year-olds Nour (Olympe Borval) and Myriam (LizzieBrochere), best friends since childhood, grew up in adjoining apartments overlooking the same courtyard in Tunis.

 As kids, the fact that the former was raised Muslim and the latter as a Jew never really interfered with their intimate relationship.

 However, it is now 1942, and their respective religions are having a profoundly effect on the course of their lives.

 Both have begun developing an interest in boys, but while Myriam was free to attend school and to explore her budding sexual urges, Nour finds herself housebound and resenting the restrictions being placed upon her by her orthodox culture.

 Plus, her parents have already arranged for her to marry her cousin, Khaled (Najib Oudghiri), even though he's unemployed with not much on the horizon in the way of job prospects.

 Then, in November, the Nazis invade Tunisia, and begin subjecting Jews to all manner of humiliation, ranging from the confiscation of their property to forced labour to execution. When Myriam's mother (Karin Albou) is hit with a new tax just for being Jewish, she pressures her daughter to marry much-older Raoul (Simon Abkarian), a rich doctor.

 Such a complicated scenario provides the setting for The Wedding Song, a character-driven drama directed by Karin Albou. What makes this tale of female empowerment so fascinating is that the story unfolds against the backdrop of the daily tension of World War II combat. So, we see Nour and Myriam struggling with typical coming-of-age issues, one minute, bombings raids or roundup of Jews, the next.

 This makes Nour's narcissistic complaint "Why do I have to wear a veil, while you don't?" sounds like the superficial whine of a vain, spoiled teen, when you consider that Myriam has no idea whether she might be dragged off to a death camp at any moment. Curiously, Nour still somehow emerges as empathetic after the German occupation gradually subsumes Tunis entirely, turning the disintegrating metropolis into a godless dystopia where bombs can't discriminate when it comes to color or creed.

 Love in the time of Hitler!

Excellent (4 stars)
In French and Arabic with subtitles.
Running time: 100 minutes
Studio: Strand Releasing
To see a trailer for The Wedding Song, visit:

David Suzuki: A Man Of Science Revealed

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(November 02, 2009) David Suzuki has tackled radio, television and print in his quest to deliver his environmental message, becoming a science superstar along the way. Now, at 73, he's moving to the big screen, shooting a feature documentary about his life and ideas that will be released theatrically next year. Al Gore, move over.

The as-yet untitled project, directed by fellow Canadian Sturla Gunnarsson (Air India 182, Beowulf & Grendel), will revolve around a lecture Suzuki will deliver next month in Vancouver - billed as the speech he would give if it was his last before dying. Interspersed in the film will be scenes of Suzuki travelling back to the places that have shaped his life: the Slocan valley in B.C. where, at six years old, he and his family were interned during the Second World War; Hiroshima, where his grandparents were sent after their internment; Haida Gwaii where he has been adopted into the eagle clan by the Haida people.

It's been an emotional journey for Suzuki and an awful lot of work, but given the impact, he says, of feature films, it was an opportunity he could not refuse.

Believe it or not, he cites The Lion King, Dances With Wolves and even Crocodile Dundee as movies that have delivered a lasting environmental message to the masses.

"[The impact] is just really dramatic. Like nothing I'd ever seen when you watch television," Suzuki says. "So I'd always thought, gosh, if there was a way of really impacting people through the big screen, that would be great."

There was also, of course, Gore's An Inconvenient Truth - which made global warming a household term - and Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary, The 11th Hour. Both, of those films, says Suzuki, are good - but so pessimistic. "To me, at the end of [those] films you want to go out and slash your throat," he says. "So I thought there had to be a way to lift people up and inspire them rather than point out how hopeless it is."

Suzuki is talking during a break from rehearsing his legacy lecture - after a run-through that went one hour and 29 minutes. Twenty minutes too long, notes Gunnarsson, who's been watching from the third row of the theatre. "Get those scissors out baby," he tells his star. "It's gonna rock."

They're at the University of British Columbia, where the connection between the two men began long ago - unbeknownst to Suzuki. "I was a student here at UBC and he was kind of the rock 'n' roll star professor," says Gunnarsson. "I kind of knew him from a distance and over the years he and his message have always been part of my consciousness."

Over the last six months, the men have developed a bond as they've travelled together, hiking up mountains, going fishing and reliving both dark and enchanting moments from Suzuki's life. It's gone from a creative partnership to the kind of relationship where two people finish each other's sentences.

Suzuki is not the contemplative sort; he's more a man of action than reflection. But all this talking about himself has seen the scientist get emotional.

The day before this rehearsal, Suzuki remembered an incident he had suppressed for decades. He was in a communal Japanese bath in Kaslo, B.C. when he heard bells going off. An older, fellow bather knew what it meant: The war was over. "I heard kids letting off firecrackers outside and so I got dressed and ran out. I saw a kid so I asked him if I could have [a firecracker] for myself and he kicked me and said 'get lost, Jap. We beat you.'

"I don't know why, but just remembering that, I was overwhelmed. Incredible pain at that moment. I hadn't felt that in a long time."

Suzuki believes the racism he, his family and other Japanese-Canadians experienced during the war is part of what has driven him to achieve: the university degrees, the broadcasting career, the 48 books. "I think a lot of the things I do are still based on the idea that I'm trying to prove that I'm worthwhile to Canadians," he reveals. "I want people to say 'he's a good Canadian.' That's not how we were treated."

After the war, Suzuki's maternal grandparents - like many Japanese-Canadians - accepted the government's offer of a one-way ticket to Japan. They arrived in Hiroshima, a city flattened by the atomic bomb, and were dead within a year.

Last summer, Suzuki and Gunnarsson travelled to Hiroshima for the Aug. 6 memorial. "I don't know what you got on film," Suzuki says to his director, "but I found myself blubbering the whole time."

The Hiroshima footage is indeed emotional, as Suzuki remembers the last time his mother saw her parents, and later places in the Motoyasu River a floating lantern with the words "From Canada."

It's dramatic stuff, but how to turn a static lecture into a dynamic event worthy of the big screen?

"Think opera," Gunnarsson says, showing off the model of the stage at the rehearsal. The design has Suzuki dwarfed by massive projections of images taken during the shoot.

The lecture has certainly generated excitement; with promotion for the event just beginning today, a number of celebrities have already confirmed their attendance, including Pierce Brosnan, Randy Bachman and Ed Begley Jr.

Filming will continue until the end of January with a fall release planned. But already the project has had an impact on at least one person. "It's been a real journey for me," says Gunnarsson, who admits to having felt some scepticism early on in the project about Suzuki's strong views on how to save the world. "I'm totally suspicious of anybody who's sure of anything. But his answers are pretty satisfying and ... I'm not as cynical as I was when I started.

"I jokingly say that I drank the Kool-Aid."

David Suzuki: The Legacy Lecture will take place Dec. 10 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver.

India's 'Frontier Gandhi'

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Peter Howell

(November 03, 2009) In archival photos of Badshah Khan standing next to his fellow peace advocate Mahatma Gandhi, it would easy to mistake Khan for a bodyguard.

Standing an imposing 6-foot-6 and with eyes that held every gaze, Khan towered over Gandhi and seemed fearsome in comparison. Yet both men were devoted to religious harmony and the non-violent quest for freedom from British rule in India early in the 20th century.

Khan was Muslim and Gandhi Hindu, but the two were so much in synch Khan was nicknamed the "Frontier Gandhi." They each received multiple nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet Khan is almost unknown outside of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan while Gandhi is revered the world over.

The reason for this is explored in Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace, the award-winning documentary by Teri McLuhan screening Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Innis Town Hall Theatre. It receives its Canadian premiere as the opening gala of the International Diaspora Film Festival, with a repeat screening at 1 p.m. Saturday.

A labour of love by McLuhan, the daughter of the late Toronto media visionary Marshall McLuhan, Frontier Gandhi makes a strong case that the world has unjustly neglected Khan, who died in 1988 at the age of 98. It also argues convincingly that Khan's messages are more timely now than ever.

Khan was from the Pashtun region (also known as Pashtunistan), a rugged area straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan that has long been one of the most violent hotspots on the globe. It's the home of the Khyber Pass, rendered in verse by Rudyard Kipling, where some of the most pitched battles of history have been fought – including the current American-led fight against the Taliban.

Yet Khan believed violence wasn't the answer to anything, and that included the British rule he and Gandhi joined forces to oppose. Khan created a non-violent army of more than 100,000 followers known as Khudai Khidmatgars ("Servants of God") whose red garb indicated their devotion to sacrifice.

From his youth in the 1920s up to his death in the late 1980s, Khan fought not only to free the Indian subcontinent from British control, but also to maintain unity and religious harmony amongst its fractious peoples. He succeeded in just one of these goals, sadly watching as India was violently partitioned in 1947 into two countries: a Muslim Pakistan split into fragments west and east (later a new nation called Bangladesh) and a Hindu India.

Khan's resistance to partition caused him to break with Gandhi (he accused his former ally of "throwing us to the wolves") and he was repeatedly thrown in jail, first by the British and later by the Pakistani government. Khan spent 35 years of his life in jail, much of that time in solitary confinement.

The world outside his homeland may have forgotten him, the film suggests, because he was overshadowed by the more charismatic Gandhi. "Even history becomes an exercise in brand building," says Indian journalist M.J. Akbar, one of many people McLuhan interviewed for her film.

But Khan never stopped believing that peace and non-violent resistance were the only paths to a happy life, and he warned of what could happen if extremism took hold – a point McLuhan underlines with images of the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

McLuhan devoted 21 years to making Frontier Gandhi. She travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and the U.S. to track down rare historical footage and to interview Khan's relatives and admirers, the latter including Afghan President Hamid Karzai. She'll attend both screenings at Innis and answer questions afterwards.

Tickets are $10 ($8 for students and seniors), available at 416-571-2150 or by emailing info@diasporafilmfest.com.

A New Theatre For Famous People Players

Source: www.globeandmail.com - James Bradshaw

(November 04, 2009) It's common to hear Diane Dupuy's friends and supporters describe her as a “force of nature.” But nature's own forces and a city strike have slowed even her formidable momentum.

The founder of Famous People Players, a Toronto fixture for 35 years, found herself without a home for her theatrical ensemble, forced to fund an expensive move and renovation to survive. The costs ballooned as a slew of setbacks, including severe storms, battered her best-laid plans.

But on Friday, Dupuy stood proudly with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as a ribbon was clipped by comically oversized scissors, officially opening the company's new Etobicoke home. What her beaming smile didn't betray was how far from the finish line she still is – even the 200-seat theatre that housed the ceremony isn't complete.

It's really amazing what a person can do who sets their mind on trying to do something good. — Eugene Levy

Nearly three years ago, the Players – Toronto's black-light dinner-theatre performers, most of whom have mental or physical disabilities – were being recognized for helping to revitalize the Queen and Dovercourt neighbourhood, which Dupuy says was “hooker city” when she started the company there in 1974.

Maybe they did too good a job: Now a trendy stretch peppered with art galleries, its property values have skyrocketed, prompting the company's landlord to evict them this summer to make way for a high-rise.

The landlord had always been good to the company, so Dupuy didn't put up a fight. Instead, she put three realtors on the hunt for a property that would fit her needs and come relatively cheap. After a lengthy search, Dupuy snapped up an industrial-looking site on Evans Avenue in Toronto's west end at the 11th hour.

“This was a real hole when we moved in here,” Dupuy said recently, glancing around the property's newly renovated dining room, now with high-backed booths, 10-person tables and decorated in reds, yellows and purples. Benny Donofrio, a Player for 34 years, agrees the new digs are “much better” than the old ones, especially as there are now no stairs to navigate.

But the improvements came at a steep price. On May 1, they took hold of the new site with plans for an $850,000 renovation – a figure Dupuy says was too optimistic. The same day, the city's new developer's fee took effect and Dupuy was slapped with an unexpected $186,000 bill, the first step in a gradual slide into a financial quagmire.

With construction under way, the summer brought violent rain storms, flooding the site and cutting power for long stretches. Unforeseen construction costs started to pile up. Then city workers went on strike, and Dupuy couldn't get authorities to sign off on changes to the building. The original opening date of Aug. 1 came and went, and fall ticket revenue Dupuy had been counting on evaporated. The tab eventually settled at $1.3-million.

Mercifully, the city has agreed to waive the $186,000 bill, thanks largely to the efforts of local city councillor Mark Grimes and lawyer Bob Onyschuk. The federal government has also given the company $585,000 through the Cultural Spaces Canada program, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation chipped in $150,000. But the company still carries a $457,000 deficit.

Dupuy, introduced Friday as “the ultimate dreamer” and “Donna Quixote,” pledged to a crowd of supporters that, with help, they will break even again.

“It's really amazing what a person can do who sets their mind on trying to do something good,” said Eugene Levy, a long-time supporter who once did voiceover work for a company show, at Friday's ribbon cutting. “It's a herculean effort.”

A few feet away on a nearby wall covered with pictures of other famous supporters – Paul Newman, Pierre Trudeau, Tony Bennett, Martin Short, Liberace – hangs a yellowing clipping from a 1974 article in a Toronto newspaper. The writer describes how Dupuy had “admitted” that two thirds of her performers were “mentally retarded.”

“It reminds me of how far we've come,” Dupuy said.

And she isn't stopping here. Undaunted by unprecedented debts, the company has already purchased 84 acres of land in Ancaster, Ont., for its next project with a lead gift from benefactor Lucile Pratt. Dupuy plans to build a $10-million “green” arts and agricultural centre where the troupe will work, growing the food for the theatre's restaurant on a farm that uses solar energy, rainwater recycling, a bio-retention garden, a green roof and geothermal heating and cooling.

“We're a real grassroots, humble company,” Dupuy explains. But humility wasn't on display at the ribbon cutting as she relentlessly kidded and cajoled politicians and backers, aligning their chequebooks behind her singular vision through sheer force of personality.

Gentlemen Broncos: Don't Steal This Screenplay's Plot

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(November 04, 2009) Jared Hess doesn't tweet.

The devoutly Mormon filmmaker behind Napoleon Dynamite also doesn't have a Facebook account, and he checks email just a couple of times a day. He's secretly happy when his cellphone goes on the fritz, which happens often.

"I think so much time is wasted online," Hess, 30, says during a Toronto visit.

"I'm worried it would just consume me and I'd be on there all the time. I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old and I'd rather play Lego with them. Life is short."

The bearded and bespectacled Hess, a former global missionary, is the antithesis of the wired Hollywood warrior. But living "off the grid" like this has its disadvantages. Hess failed to catch his flight and was a day late for his Toronto trip last week – missing a promotional event for his new movie Gentlemen Broncos, which opens Friday – because he hadn't heard that the United States had tightened its border rules with Canada.

"I totally forgot my passport. I just assumed everything in North America is open border. I'd heard that you didn't need one to go to Canada until recently. I live in Utah."

On the positive side, the lack of distractions allows writer/director Hess plenty of time to conjure up unique characters that are an extension of himself: family-oriented and not fully plugged into modern culture.

The title characters of both his previous films, Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, were as stunned as deer caught in headlights, but also endearing in their own weird way. Hess has built a career on making losers seem like heroes.

He's hoping lightning will strike a third time with Gentlemen Broncos, which adds a sci-fi element to his lovable sluggo saga. Lead nerd Benjamin is played by Michael Angarano, whom Hess saw and liked in Snow Angels. Benjamin writes turgid fantasy novels that no one reads, until the day comes when desperate sci-fi author Dr. Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords) finds a tome called Yeast Lords and steals the idea.

The film is a uniquely comic take on plagiarism and Hess is quick to admit the idea wasn't his own. It came from his wife Jerusha, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite with him. And there was a family spark before that.

"Jerusha has a 15-year-old cousin who lives up in Alaska and writes really messed-up science fiction and fantasy stuff.

"His parents have been worried about him for a while and we've read some of his stuff and it's pretty funny. We both identified with his predicament. We're creative people as well."

The cousin also had a small part in the movie, as a fellow student with Benjamin in writing class. But most of the rest of the inspiration came from Hess and his family. As a kid, he made weird home videos ("with models and matte paintings and that kind of thing, really bad") that are not unlike the cheesy Yeast Lords productions seen in Gentlemen Broncos.

He also based Benjamin's mother, played by Jennifer Coolidge, on his own mother, who previously had provided inspiration for Napoleon Dynamite's llama antics: Mom Hess had her own pet llama. And she had the same job and hobby as the mom in Gentlemen Broncos.

"My mom worked for a modest nightgown company and she sold popcorn balls on the side. So the character is kind of based on her. My dad died when I was very young, so my relationship with my mom has always been very strong."

His relationship with his wife may be even stronger, since it has survived the perils of co-writing two movies together. Surprisingly, it was Jerusha who came up with most of the gross-out macho jokes that pepper Gentlemen Broncos. She comes from a family of mostly boys, as does Hess.

"When we wrote Napoleon together it was weird figuring out the dynamic of collaboration. It's getting better as it goes along. And early on I slept on the couch a lot, I'm not going to lie.

"By the time we're done with the script we're not sure who's responsible for what any more. We talk our ideas out for such a long time before we start putting them down on paper and by the time that we've fleshed it out verbally we get a babysitter and go to the office and work."

They may be working together again soon. Hess wants to do a sequel to Napoleon Dynamite, but as per usual, it's not the usual.

"It would be a lot of fun. I think the characters warrant the `further adventures of,' but I don't know about shooting it again in live action, though. I think everybody is getting old and fat, maybe.

"But animation would be a fun way to continue to explore it, and maybe TV."

However they decide to do it, Hess hopes he never has to become part of any studio system or machinery, electronic or otherwise. He's happy to remain out of touch in Utah, making his own brand of quirky movies.

"Everyone should keep their independent spirit," he says.

This MGM Director Was The Real Rhett Butler

Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(November 04, 2009) In the 1930s, that glorious first decade after the movies learned how to talk, Hollywood was the sum of its studios, each with its own distinct brand and personality. MGM, the glossiest of them all, boasted that it had "more stars than there are in the heavens," which hardly seemed an exaggeration.

Victor Fleming, a hyperactive director on the MGM lot, was a dashing figure who embodied the rugged male ideal that came through in many of his best movies. As a personality, he was so irresistible that many famous leading ladies had affairs with him, including Clara Bow and Ingrid Bergman, and remained loyal friends after the affairs ended.

But what made Fleming invaluable to MGM was his instinctive gift for moulding stars and showing them how to shape their personalities and performances on the big screen. Under his guidance, many stars soared, including Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh and Jean Harlow.

A genius at moulding other people's material, and a fixer whom the studio brought in like a relief pitcher, replacing a faltering director when a film shoot was in trouble, Fleming was a giant among his peers – but virtually invisible to the public.

Seventy years after the release of The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind – two great movies that seeped into the fabric of American life and helped define the popular culture of the 20th century – Fleming remains the most unjustly forgotten man in movie history.

He won an Oscar for directing Gone With the Wind, but hardly anyone remembers that. After his death in 1949, he became obscure, even as other directors of his era were deified by critics and scholars.

To mark the 70th anniversary of these two milestone movies, sparkling new DVDs have recently been issued, including special collectors' edition sets. On Nov. 14, select Cineplex theatres (including the Varsity) will screen an HD version of Gone With the Wind, starting at 11 a.m. And next month, Atlanta will celebrate the date when GWTW had its world premiere there, giving the capital of the Old South eternal status in movie myth. If Fleming is finally starting to emerge from the shadows and get a little posthumous credit, that is thanks to a wonderfully entertaining and insightful biography by Michael Sragow, the veteran film critic of the Baltimore Sun. Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master – published by Pantheon in late 2008 but virtually ignored in Canada – not only offers a fascinating account of Fleming's life and movies. It also provides one of the most revealing and titillating glimpses of Hollywood in its heyday I've ever read.

"I was pretty much starting from ground zero," Sragow explained the other day about his mission to secure Fleming his rightful place in movie history.

"Virtually nothing had been written about him except studio-edited bios for publicity."

Fleming's parents moved from Missouri to southern California in 1888. Victor, born a year later, dropped out of school before reaching high school. As a young man he showed a taste for outdoor adventure, danger and machinery.

After breaking into movies more or less by accident, he had his formative experience collaborating with silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., most notably on the fast-paced action picture When the Clouds Roll By (1919).

"Fleming designed his Fairbanks films as if they were pop-up toys," Sragow comments, "playing with special effects, animation and the audience's knowledge of Fairbanks as a movie star."

This formative partnership gave Fleming the experience that later enabled him to shape the personas of Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy as well as Gable.

A dashing, fearless man's man, Fleming in Sragow's view was "the real Rhett Butler" long before he found himself directing Clark Gable in GWTW.

Because both Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind had more than one director, film historians regarded Fleming as a studio hack.

Another liability was that he made many different kinds of movies, rather than being identified with one genre as were Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Howard Hawks and other favourites of "auteur critics."

But the more Sragow examined the evidence, the more he became convinced that it was Fleming who provided the elements that gave Oz its enchanting buzz and GWTW its all-powerful sexual chemistry, lifting both pictures into Hollywood heaven, where they shine as brightly as ever 70 years after their release.


George Tillman To Direct The Rock


(October 30, 2009)  *George Tillman has signed on to direct Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and newly-added cast member Billy Bob Thornton in Sony's action drama "Faster," reports Variety.    As previously reported, Johnson stars as Driver, an ex-con out to avenge his brother's murder. Thornton will play Cop, a veteran policeman who trails Driver as he races to settle with those responsible for the murder.      Also in the mix is Killer, an egocentric hitman who's after Driver. That role hasn't been cast yet.  Tillman will also direct an upcoming romantic comedy for State Street Pictures based on Julia Wertz's novel "I Saw You," about the missed connections section of Craigslist.com.

Cheadle To Play FBI Agent In New Film


(October 30, 2009)  *Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson of the "Harry Potter" franchise have been cast in the forthcoming John Michael McDonagh-directed drama "The Guard," due in 2010.      Gleeson stars as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.     According to ComingSoon.net, Gleeson's Sergeant Gerry Boyle "is a small-town cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humour, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought Cheadle's FBI agent Wendell Everett to his door.     "However, despite the fact that Boyle seems more interested in mocking and undermining Everett than in actively working to solve the case, he finds that circumstances keep pulling him back into the thick of it. First his tiresomely enthusiastic new partner McBride disappears, then his favourite hooker attempts to blackmail him into turning a blind eye, and finally the drug-traffickers themselves try to buy him off as they have every other member of the local police force.   "These events unwittingly offend Boyle's murky moral code. He realizes that he needs to take matters into his own hands, and the only person he can trust is Everett. And so the scene is set for an explosive finale."

Princess Tiana Makes Her Disney World Debut


(October 29, 2009)  *On Monday, Disney's first African American princess made her debut at the Magic Kingdom.   Princess Tiana, of the upcoming film "The Princess and the Frog," was greeted at Cinderella’s Castle by Mickey, Minnie and the entire Disney gang before riding down . Disney World's Main Street USA. to greet the rest of the crowd.     "I have to image that it is just beyond thrilling for them. She is a great character, she's inspiring, she's smart, she's strong. I think that's wonderful, not only for young African-American girls but for young girls," Disney Show Director Tara Anderson told Central Florida's News 13.     Nathan Morris, member of R&B group Boys II Men, brought his family to see Tiana's debut.  "There are a lot of young African-American women that don't have great role models as well and Disney has always been very good at creating ideas for people to really understand and believe that they can be," said Morris.  Beginning Monday Tiana will be available to meet and greet all of her fans at Disney World. Guests can also enjoy 'Tiana's Showboat Jubillee', a nine minute musical performance in the river between Frontierland and Tom Sawyer Island.  The show takes place three times daily and 20 guests from the park are chosen to ride on the boat and take part in the show.     "The Princess and The Frog" opens nationwide on Dec. 11.


Teena Marie Is 'Unsung' Sunday

www.eurweb.comBy Kenya M. Yarbrough

(October 30, 2009) The singer said that there wasn’t anything that she didn’t want to talk about on the show, although, the episode doesn’t go into her painkiller addiction. And even though the star did discuss her battle with drugs, there was apparently not enough time to fit it into the hour-long episode.

*New episodes of TV One’s hit series “UnSung” begin Sunday. The show, now entering its second season, according tom the network's website, profiles some of the most influential, talented yet forgotten R&B, Soul and Gospel artists of the 1970s, '80s and '90s.

 The season premieres with an episode chronicling the career of songbird
Teena Marie.

 “It was awesome. I’m really excited,” the singer said of the series premier, “especially because everybody that I know really came forward to do it for me.”

 The show features interviews and commentary from Motown founder Berry Gordy, legendary singer Smokey Robinson, Faith Evans, music executive Larkin Arnold, her life long friends and of course, her family.

“My daughter, my mother…,” she continued, “it was really beautiful. I was just really, really happy.”

 Though clearly satisfied with the final cut, the singer confessed to EUR’s Lee Bailey that when she watched previous episodes of the acclaimed series, she wasn’t too sure it was for her.

 “The ones I saw were really sad, so it was kind of hard for me to go by,” she said. “My life hasn’t really been sad like that. My piece is a lot more uplifting. It’s fun. It’s really funny.”

 Marie, a.k.a. Lady T, said that she’d seen the “UnSung” episode on Phyllis Hyman who struggled with bipolar disorder and depression and tragically took her own life at age 45.

 “After I watched Phyllis Hyman’s piece, I was depressed and I told my friend, ‘Why would you show me this and want me to do this show?’” she said, “but after I had the first meeting with them they said, ‘We’re not really trying to show all the sad things in people’s lives. They said they were trying to move in another direction.”

She said that many of her fans have cried out about her being featured on the series – that she’s not “unsung” or underappreciated. She said that she’s had to encourage her fans to wait and see how different the “UnSung” piece on her is.

 “Because of the content of some of the other shows, some of the fans have looked at it like it’s a bad thing. I was really, really happy in certain ways,” she described, “but obviously when I talk about Rick [James], I get a little sad.”

 A protégé of funkster James, and romantically involved with the legendary singer for a brief moment, Marie took his death in 2004 very hard.

 “That part of it is sad,” she said of the show, “but I can’t focus on that too much other than I have to think about the music and what we did while he was here. That part was hard for me. He’s not in the documentary. It would’ve been nice if he was one of the people up there talking.”

 The singer said that there wasn’t anything that she didn’t want to discuss on the show, but the episode doesn’t go into her painkiller addiction. And even though the star did talk about her battle with drugs, there was apparently not enough time to fit it into the hour-long episode.

“I really don’t have problems talking about pretty much anything in my life. I try to be honest and I always have. I always feel if I can help somebody with some of the bad stuff, then it’s good for me to talk about it. If it can help somebody else who has an addiction to pain killers, then that’s a good thing.”

 “I’ve talked about it in other forms,” she continued. “I talk about it quite often. They didn’t need it this time. There was just so much other stuff. There were even so many other people that they were going to have and at a certain point it just became overkill because it would have taken away from the whole story.”

Marie was very happy words from Berry Gordy made it into the show. The hitmaker commented on the fact that while she could’ve crossed over easily to pop, urban music was her true calling.

 “He said he felt that I could have done a lot of crossover music because my voice is awesome. I thought it was very poignant the way he said it. I really liked that part,” Marie said. “He really hit the nail right on the head. He gets it that I was really doing what I was here to do.”

 She said that she had written a few tracks that had a crossover feel, but never released the songs because they just didn’t truly fit her style. Now she’s sharing those tracks with her daughter Alia, who is recording her music under the name Rose Le Beau.

 “After Minnie Riperton died I wrote this ballad called ‘Come Back Lover’ and it’s kind of a rock-bluesy kind of like Led Zeppelin kind of ballad and it really didn’t fit in my career. I was playing it on my guitar and my daughter heard it and asked, ‘What album is that on?’”

Marie gladly gave the song to her daughter.

Check out Teena Marie’s story on “UnSung” on TV One, Sunday, November 1 at 8 pm and again at 11 pm ET. This season will also spotlight Bootsy Collins, Klymaxx, and ZAPP.

 To find out more about Teena Marie and her latest project, visit her official website at www.ivoryqueenofsoul.com.

Genre Continues To Vamp It Up

Source: www.thestar.com -
Rob Salem

(October 31, 2009) Vampires just keep getting hotter. Perhaps not literally "hotter" – being undead and all, I would imagine their pre-meal body temperature is negligible to non-existent. But between the Twilight series of books and movies (the latter's much-anticipated sequel is due Nov. 20), the cable hit True Blood and its network counterpart, Vampire Diaries, the nocturnal stalker of myth and legend has never been sexier or more desired.

So there is something to be said about dying young and leaving a good-looking (reanimated) corpse.

Mind you, the vampire has always been something of a romantic figure, going back the grandaddy of them all, Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, who has himself just been literarily sequel-ized by Stoker's own great grandnephew.

Through many movie adaptations, from Bela Lugosi on through Christopher Lee, Frank Langella on Broadway and then exponentially with the book and film versions of Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire (Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt? That's just excessive), the concept of "necking" has taken on a frightening new connotation, as the afterlife of the average, red blood-drinking vampire becomes increasingly sexual, and thus more attractive to the living.

Particularly on True Blood, a two-year-old ratings hit – HBO does not disclose its audience numbers, but if they did, those numbers are estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 12 million in the U.S., taking into account "on-demand" and DVR recording.

HBO Canada, despite a similar no-tell policy, will happily acknowledge that True Blood has, in its first two seasons (a third had been ordered), become the highest-rated HBO original on the franchised channel, and also on The Movie Network's on-demand service.

The series is based on the Charlaine Harris Southern Vampire Mysteries novels, adapted by showrunner Alan Ball as a follow-up to his earlier, similarly macabre HBO hit, the funereal Six Feet Under.

"After five years of peering into the abyss and contemplating life in the presence of mortality," he says, "I felt like, `Let's do something else.'

"This was really my first foray into the world of vampires. I really wanted it to be a show about characters, and to really explore what it means to be 170 years old, and what it means to fall in love with somebody, and not be able to see that person, except at night ... (when) basically part of the relationship would involve, in a world that's mutually satisfying, being fed upon ..."

(Try explaining that to your next cheeseburger.)

The freshman Vampire Diaries, originating on The CW and carried here on CTV, is, like Twilight and True Blood, based on a successful series of novels, in this case by bestselling young-adult fantasy author L.J. Smith.

In Canada, the show commands an impressive 900,000-plus weekly viewers. Its American audience has hovered around the 5 million mark, a record for The CW, above average for any other network (except perhaps the basement-dwelling NBC).

Diaries' considerably more youth-skewed appeal owes much to veteran writer/producer Kevin Williamson, a man who has proved himself equally adept at high-school and horror as the creator of Dawson's Creek and writer of three (soon four) Scream movies.

"We're sort of cross-genre," he says of his Diaries. "There's a lot going on here. We have the teen element, which I guess you can compare to Dawson's Creek. But it's not just a teen show. We're trying to not make it a high school show.

"Once we you get past the premise of, you know, girl and vampire, we start to develop the story about a town. And that's what we love so much about the books, the mythology of the town and what they created ... the vampires are (just) our way into that."

And possibly the way out? Has the sexy young vampire sub-genre finally reached saturation point? How long can this resurrection renaissance last?

"It's not really a fad," insists series star Nina Dobrev, a Toronto-bred Degrassi grad. "It's timeless. Vampires are ... they don't die. They're always around. They're eternal.

"It just seems like right now, people are really responding."

"Everything is cyclical," Williamson shrugs. "Who knows? I mean, I still ... when I think of The Lost Boys, I get all excited. And Near Dark, I have great, fond memories of that.

"I hope maybe we're building that for this generation."

Mudhar: Getting Animated About New Shows

Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar

(November 02, 2009) It's been a great few weeks for Canadian animation fans with the launch of two new Internet initiatives – one is a way to celebrate classic cartoons and the other allows viewers to take a temperature check on what might be coming.

Those pieces of good news are for the adults, but before we get to that, the headline of the day centres on the kids.

As of 6 a.m. Monday, Nickelodeon officially launched in Canada. The U.S. kid-oriented channel rebrands the Discovery Kids slot, and similar to HBO Canada, which launched here last here, plenty of its stalwart series (SpongeBob SquarePants, Avatar: The Last Airbender) have long been airing on other channels like YTV and Teletoon.

But just like HBO, they won't have any problems finding ways to fill airtime with their impressive archive and new shows.

The flashy new series they are touting is Fanboy and Chum Chum (premiering Monday at 7 p.m.), a hyper-stimulated, computer-animated buddy series focusing on two costumed-but-powerless school kids. I found it quite amusing, with a good ratio of humour spread along the lines of witty repartee, sight gags and fart jokes. Nothing spectacular but enjoyable enough.

Of course, I'm not really the demographic. As a media consuming mid-30s technology nerd and retro fetishist, the recent launch of the NFB's iPhone app is something right up my alley – an app to mainline nostalgia as quick as you can hit the touch screen. The first thing I searched for and found was The Log Driver's Waltz, and in seconds, I was "twirling down the white water."

After talking to an NFB spokesperson, I found out I'm not the only one. Attached to the NFB Online screening room (www.nfb.ca) three of the Top 10 searched/screened items are animated: The Log Driver's Waltz, The Cat Came Back and 2004 Oscar winner, Ryan.

The NFB's archive has much more than animated stuff – I also checked out classic doc Project Grizzly.

Since its launch two weeks ago, the app has been downloaded an impressive 46,885 times. Simply laid out and smooth running, it's an amazing example of tech savvy and user-friendliness from one of this country's cultural institutions. Others should take note.

As for celebrating what's new content-wise, Teletoon's adult-skewed Detour Pilot Project recently went online, showing what Canadians can do when they're given a mandate to create adult-oriented programs similar to Adult Swim on the U.S. Cartoon Network.

The Detour is Teletoon's adult block that airs late nights and on weekends. With more than 200 submissions boiled down to 10 pilots, some of the results are hilarious.

Each week a new pilot will debut at Teletoon.com, with the website asking for your feedback, with a possible series pick up to be determined.

The first series launched was Ninjamaica. The titular character is dreadlocked, patois-spouting, reggae-singing Ninja, who opens the show with memory loss – the first episode is a parody of The Bourne Identity. The humour played on plenty of racial stereotypes, but seemed an equal-opportunity offender.

This week, it's Angora Napkin, about an awesome all-girl band drawn in a Ren & Stimpy Show style. The creators are former members of John Kricfalusi's studio and ingeniously uses the music of mid-'90s Vancouver alternative rock band, Cub.

I've previewed a few of the others – I loved Space Knights, a Power Rangers/Voltron parody – and came away thinking it's a great showcase of this country's animation talent and feeling that we're in very funny hands.

Be warned though, most of the humour in many of the pilots is offensive, crude and stuff that I couldn't print in this paper. Just as it should be.

Mad Men Gets JFK Plot Just Right

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(November 02, 2009) All this year, and even before, Matthew Weiner has been notably coy about how or even if the J.F.K. assassination would figure into the 1963-set plotline of this about-to-end third season of his hit series, Mad Men.

And here is the point that I must dutifully warn anyone who has not yet seen last Sunday's penultimate episode to stop reading. Now.

Okay then. As the rest of you now know, it happened, and an episode earlier than most of us expected. Which was of course exactly right – the events and emotions the tragedy set into motion will now have the chance to come to a full, satisfying and no doubt surprising conclusion in this Sunday's season finale.

It is however no surprise that Weiner and company – the episode was directed by the estimable Barbet Schroeder (Barfly, Reversal of Fortune) – have once again nailed the period details with an astonishing, evocative accuracy. The initial astonishment, the overwhelming communal grief, not just in America, but around the world, are exactly as I remember them, albeit from the perspective of a child.

But where I identified with the perplexed young Draper children, I'm sure my parents winced at Don's typically emotionless non-reaction on returning home to a teary Betty: "Go take a pill and lie down." (I'm not saying that many folks don't still consider this "coping" – just that in 1963 it was still relatively new and sexy.)

Likewise Duck's callous ability to simply cast the news aside to accommodate a bonk with Peggy. And the eerie echo of the open car in her proposed new Aqua-Net campaign.

The Sterling Cooper staff gathered numbly around the office set; the stunned reactions of those riveted at home (notably Pete and Trudy); the eerie context of that iconic TV news footage...all had such a palpable ring of truth that even those who don't remember got an immediate and vivid sense of what it must have been like.

I think we all now appreciate Weiner's pre-emptive reticence – all those years in the Sopranos writers room has taught him the value of playing it close to the vest. In a very broad sense, we shared the shock of those who experienced it first hand.

And given the way major plot developments have been, albeit slowly, ramping up all season, I'm betting that there lots more shocks in store when the current storyline wraps on Sunday.

Spoiler alert: This article reveals details of last Sunday's show.


Going Carolling With Chenoweth

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(November 04, 2009) It's beginning to look a lot like Kristin.

Forget the fact that it's more than seven weeks until Dec. 25: the festive season will hit Toronto this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when Kristin Chenoweth appears on Bloor St. to sing her way through a half-dozen yuletide tunes, marking the opening of the Holt Renfrew holiday windows.

"I am so looking forward to it, as long as I don't freeze to death," laughs Chenoweth on the phone from her Los Angeles home.

But she shouldn't worry about the weather. The Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress is white hot these days, hurtling back and forth across the continent from TV series to Broadway shows.

"I know, I know, I get dizzy just thinking about it," she says in that voice that manages to be sweet and hot at the same time, kind of like a cup of Maya cocoa.

A devout Christian despite her often-sexy image, the 41-year-old star admits that "Christmas is the biggest day of the year for our family.''

"I always used to sing in the school and church Christmas show and that made me happy, but when we got to the actual pageant, I was always too short to be one of the leading characters," sighs the 4-foot-11 mini-diva.

"I was usually an animal in the stable, but I never got to be Mary and that bummed me out."

This year, due to the pace of her work, "I'm hosting a California Christmas for my family, so my parents and my brother, his wife and their two kids are all coming to my place and with the help of a good catering service, I hope it will work out just fine."

There's one unique Chenoweth family tradition that she hopes will follow her mother cross-country.

"My Mom has a small ceramic Christmas tree and we each light a candle and have to say what we're most thankful for in the past year."

Chenoweth doesn't want to put a name to hers just yet, but she agrees that getting a surprise Emmy for Pushing Daisies would certainly be in the running.

"I was not expecting it. I wore a short dress and put my hair in a ponytail. That's how much I was not ready!" insists the fashionista.

"I was just happy that some love went the way of that wonderful show."

Chenoweth has a role in the animated comedy Sit Down Shut Up and recently guested on the hit musical comedy series Glee.

On Nov. 17, she takes over for a month the role that Samantha Bee originated in the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss and What I Wore, which rotates its all-celebrity cast every four weeks.

But Chenoweth's big Gotham project for 2010 is the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, in which she'll star opposite Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame.

The Burt Bacharach/Hal David/Neil Simon musical version of Billy Wilder's The Apartment was a big hit in 1969 but hasn't had a full production in New York since then.

Unlike a lot of the frothier roles Chenoweth has been connected with, "this one gives me some really strong dramatic stuff to play, which is why I was drawn to it."

Chenoweth plays a lonely girl so unhappy over her love affair with a married man that she tries to commit suicide – on Christmas Eve.

"I know a lot of women who've fallen in love with the wrong guy thinking they're going to change. I know I've done it.

"I played the role before when I was 19, but I didn't understand her pain at all. Now I do. I've been very hurt in the past and I'm actually afraid of this part because it's too close to home for me."

But that doesn't mean the girl who became famous playing the good witch in Wicked has given up on finding her prince.

"I'm looking for him. I'm waiting for him. He's out there."

Mirvish Planning Production Of Broadway Hit God Of Carnage

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
J. Kelly Nestruck
 planning to bring Broadway hit God of Carnage to Toronto, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Producer David Mirvish's team has been “putting out feelers” to actors about starring in an all-Canadian production of French playwright Yasmina Reza's scathing comedy in 2011, according to a source.

God of Carnage , a brutal farce about two sets of upper-middle-class parents who meet to discuss a fight their children had in a park, won the Tony Award for best play this year.

The critically acclaimed New York production stars James Gandolfini ( The Sopranos ) and Marcia Gay Harden (Oscar winner for Pollock ) as one pair of self-absorbed parents, and Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis as the other.

All four actors were nominated for Tony Awards – and Ms. Harden won for best actress in a play. (In mid-November, this quartet will pass the baton to a new cast headlined by Jimmy Smits from NYPD Blue .) Mr. Mirvish is an investor in the Broadway production of God of Carnage, and also invested in the 2008 London production that starred Ralph Fiennes.

The director of both – Tony winner Matthew Warchus – has worked with Mirvish Productions in the past. He directed the ill-fated Lord of the Rings musical that began life in Toronto in 2006.

Mr. Mirvish also produced the Canadian premiere of Ms. Reza's first big hit, Art , in 1999 in co-production with Winnipeg's Manitoba Theatre Centre. The Toronto theatre company is in talks with MTC about once again co-producing on God of Carnage. Originally set in Paris, the action of Ms. Reza's play was moved to the Cobble Hill neighbourhood of Brooklyn for its U.S. premiere in Christopher Hampton's translation and adaptation.

Whether the Toronto production will take place in Paris, New York or Forest Hill, we don't yet know. On the subject of God of Carnage , Mirvish Productions would only say: “No comment.”

Frankie Valli: 'Be Meticulous. Don't Sell Out. Work Hard'

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(November 02, 2009) They'd never met before, but they recognized each other right away.

Frankie Valli – the lead singer of The Four Seasons – and Jeff Madden – the actor who's playing him in Jersey Boys – walked across the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel and shook hands like old friends.

And in a way, they were.

Valli had been allowing the younger man to live his life on the stage of the Toronto Centre for the Arts, while Madden had poured all his energies for the past year into playing Valli.

Talk about your symbiotic relationships. It's one of the main reasons the show has been such a huge hit and the Star has learned Dancap Productions will soon be putting a new block of tickets on sale through March 21, 2010.

Valli was in town prior to his Nov. 6 appearance at Massey Hall, an interesting chance for Torontonians to compare "the real thing" with the Jersey Boys version at the same time. On this particular afternoon, Valli, 75, sported a dressed-down black sweater, gold chains around his wrists, looking like a Vegas veteran on a day off, while the 35-year-old Madden is dressed in the sober Mad Men-ish style that Valli favoured at the height of his 1960s fame.

Madden is understandably the more nervous of the pair. ("I've had a knot in my gut for days," he confides privately before the meeting starts.) After all, you don't meet icons every day.

On the other hand, Valli is easygoing and gracious. He's sat down with other guys who've played him in Jersey Boys before – since, as he puts it, "there's seven other companies of the show out there."

But there's instantly something special between these two.

"You know, I must have seen the show over 20 times," Valli says, "sometimes I still think it's a dream and maybe I'll wake up and find it isn't real."

"That's kind of how I feel, too," grins Madden.

"You've got to remember one thing," volunteers an instantly paternal Valli, "most of the audience is there for the first time every night and you've got to play it for them, you've got to tell them the story. To this day, I'm not out there doing shows for myself, but for other people. You've got to be the same way."

Madden nods eagerly at the advice and then asks one question he's been dying to pose to the man whose existence he's been sharing.

"If you could live your life again, would you do anything differently?"

Valli pauses before answering. "I'm sure that looking at everything in hindsight, I'd want to change some things I did, but I can't go back. I have to appreciate whatever has come to me and not mourn the rest."

Madden looks at the singer who has managed to stay on top on the shark-infested waters of the music business for nearly half a century and says, "Tell me about success."

"The pursuit of success is relentless," is Valli's immediate answer. "It's not enough to have talent, you've got to have the right people beside you. I've had Bob Gaudio with me on the strength of a handshake for 50 years."

By sheer chance, a few minutes later, Gaudio calls Valli on his cellphone and also talks to Madden, who recalls that, "It was just one year ago today that I was in Nashville with Bob teaching me how to sound like Frankie."

Madden is happily married with two young children and knows that Valli has been through three divorces and suffered the pain of having two of his daughters die. Still, he can't help but ask, "How do you balance a career with a family?"

The older man's eyes are pained as he says, "You need to be married to somebody who's really understanding and doesn't look at the stage as her competition. She has to understand that for you to be great at what you're doing, you don't have time for any other women but her."

Time is running out and Valli has so much more he wants to share with this mirror image of himself.

"Be meticulous about the things you choose. Don't sell out easily. Work hard ..."

"Did you do all of that?" interrupts Madden.

"I learned all of that from experience," says Valli, "and now I'm trying to share my insight with you."

Robert Townsend Presents 'Musical Theater Of Hope' On Gospel Music Channel

Source:  www.eurewb.com - By Eunice Moseley

(October 29, 2009)  *“I love Gospel music,” actor/director Robert Townsend told me when asked why he produced “Musical Theater of Hope” a half hour musical presentation of three different scenarios of what people go through in finding God's love and mercy.

“People need hope,” he said.

“Robert Townsend presents Musical Theater of Hope” aired on the Gospel Music Channel Sunday, October 25 and 27, 2009 and will re-air in November. The first of the three 10 minute episodes stars Howard Hewett and is titled “David's News.” In it, Howard's character David gathers all of his friends and family together for an important announcement that brings both joy and tears. Howard performs the Gospel hit, “I Can Only Imagine.”

The second 10 minute episode, “Cora's Release,” stars Gospel singer Tameka Scotton. Her character Cora is serving a life sentence in prison for killing the man that molested her daughter, she has also been diagnosed with cancer and is seeking a “mercy release.” Tameka will be performing the Gospel selection, “My Redeemer.” The third 10 minute episode stars Nina Gaddy Wallace, Jevonne Wilson, Latrice Pace and Joquita Williams and is titled “The Sparrow Reunion.” This group of talented Gospel singers play four sisters who were once part of a successful singing group that let greed, jealousy, drugs and infidelity destroy the group. They reunite at their mother's funeral and will be performing the old Gospel traditional selection, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”

“The audition was in Atlanta and 3,000 people came,” Robert said about the process of selecting who would star in the three episodes. “I got Howard Hewett. It's his first time acting. God has given him such a gift.”

Townsend also said the story of “Cora's Release” is based on a true story he read in a newspaper. He said, “I felt for the woman.”

The four ladies he chose for “The Sparrow Reunion” were picked because Robert felt they all looked like they could be sisters.

“I just like creating and giving back,” Robert points out. “I think about what I'm leaving behind. My mentors are Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. They welcomed me...so I have to work on a certain (level) of integrity.”

Robert said he also has an eight episode on-line television series running at www.PIC.tv titled “Diary of a Single Mom” starring Leon ('Five Heartbeats') and Richard Roundtree ('Shaft').

“The web is the future,” Townsend stresses. “I'm learning from them (his kids). I can talk to my friends in Brazil (on-line).”

Robert Townsend is an actor, producer, comedian, writer and director. His career includes roles in “A Soldier's Story” and “The Mighty Quinn”  co-starring with Denzel Washington. He starred in “Hollywood Shuffle” and the WB Network sitcom “The Parent Hood.” Robert directed Eddie Murphy in his “Raw” DVD and Halle Berry in “B*A*P*S.” He also directed and starred in “The Meteor Man” and “The Five Heartbeats.”

Townsend won an Image Award in 2001 and helmed “Carmen: A Hip-Hopera” for MTV Films starring Beyonce' Knowles and the “10,000 Black Men Named George” television piece about the Pullman porter strike for Showtime starring Charles S. Dutton and Mario Van Peebles.

To learn more on the re-airing of “Robert Townsend presents Musical Theater of Hope”  on the Gospel Music Channel log onto www.GospelMusicChannel.com.


Ratchet & Crank: Time Twists Addictive For Daring Duo

Source: www.thestar.com - Darren Zenko

Ratchet & Clank Future:
A Crack in Time
(out of 4)
PlayStation 3
Rated E 10+

(October 31, 2009) "Must be nice!"

I get that a lot at parties, when I tell people what I do for money. And you know what? It is nice. It's especially nice when you're going over your gameplay notes and see a phrase like "whimsical deathtraps" and know you're being not only completely serious, but downright conservative.

The whimsical deathtrap is a cornerstone of the young medium – a solid foundation ... even though it might dissolve two seconds after you step on it. It's this kind of love and respect for the traditions video games were built on, that makes a game like Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time such a pleasure.

The Ratchet & Clank series is one of the last games standing in the action-platformer subgenre that used to dominate consoles – cartoony mascot characters running and jumping around and over lasers, lava and spikes, collecting objects and beating/blasting bad guys. A Crack In Time is, in fact, a nearly pure expression of its once ubiquitous type, blending straightforward action with puzzle-solving, and a few new gimmicks to spice the mix, tied together with a nicely animated and voiced cinematic storyline delivered with cheerful good humour and as much edge as the "E" rating can handle.

The main new gimmick in this instalment is time control, with main man Ratchet's robot pal Clank coming into his birthright as some kind of universal time caretaker. He gets a magic staff and everything! His puzzle segments generally involve making temporal recordings of his actions and then playing them back, using these recorded time-duplicates in increasingly complex ways to help him reach his goals. It can get pretty mind-bending, and the satisfaction one gets from a good brain-stretch is welcome in a genre that usually pays off only in battle-endorphins.

The time gimmick also carries with it a fun little twist: Whereas R&C's experience points are usually dispensed when Ratchet smashes stuff with his giant wrench, Clank draws his pay in the opposite direction, whacking broken things with his Time Scepter so they "rewind" to their unsmashed state. It's clever little nods like this that have always elevated the Ratchet & Clank series above mass of B-grade platformers.

On the Ratchet side of the equation – the two buddies don't spend too much time together – things are a bit more basic: Ratchet runs around jumping chasms, smashing crates and having high-intensity battles with wave after wave of comical-but-deadly alien weirdos and robots, constantly upgrading his arsenal of comical-but-deadly weapons.

Good-looking, great-sounding, tight and tuned, tried and true, warm and funny ... A Crack in Time is compelling in that hours-devouring "just one more level" way – not because it does anything novel or revolutionary, but because it does a specific set of familiar and conservative things with supreme confidence and high style.  


Comedy Club Celebrates Anniversary With Eight Nights Of Laughter

Source: www.thestar.com -
Bruce DeMara

(November 01, 2009) Comedy, as they say, is hard, and running a comedy club is even harder.

Just ask
Comedy Bar co-owner Gary Rideout Jr. Since the club opened a year ago, he's done everything.

"I've done every job from cleaning urinals to bartending to doing tech to doing box office. I've done every single job," says Rideout, who with business partner James Elksnitis, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the nightspot, at 945 Bloor St. W., with eight nights of special events starting Sunday.

As a longtime comedian and producer, Rideout says he got fed up with having to move his show, Sunday Night Live, from venue to venue while seeing some of them, such as the Poor Alex and the Diesel Playhouse, close down, or having to perform in regular watering holes.

"There aren't a lot of places that aren't just the back of some barroom, with billiards, or sports on the TV or the noise of a bunch of hobo regulars," he says.

Comedy Bar offers comics a chance to hone their skills or try out new material, be it sketch, stand-up or improv, at a reasonable cost."I try to create a system where I can keep the rental fees as cheap as possible so new producers aren't taking on a massive risk," Ridout says.

It helps that Toronto's comedy community has embraced the place, he adds. "A lot of comics are there three or four nights a week either performing or rehearsing or shooting video or just hanging out watching someone else's show."

Veteran comedian Colin Mochrie, who is the host of Sunday's Sunday Night Live event, is a regular visitor and an ardent supporter.

"For comedians, it really is one of those situations where you can't get better unless you do it. There's no way you can actually study how to deal with audiences and how to deal with jokes bombing ... unless you're doing it," Mochrie says.

Stand-up/sketch artist Pat Thornton, who has a show, Hotbox, on the Comedy Network, says comics too often have to compete with bands for space in existing bars and persuade venue owners that a comedy night will be as profitable as bringing in a rock band.

The Comedy Bar, unlike other spaces, is performer-driven, Thornton says. "Whatever kind of comedy you like or want to do, there's a place where it's just going to be comedy all the time."

Thornton is making his own contribution to the anniversary celebration. Starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Thornton will do a 24-hour, non-stop stand-up charity stint, with proceeds going to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which benefits people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

"I was talking to some friends and we came up with this wild idea of doing stand-up for 24 hours. Then I realized after it was all a go that people would have been impressed if I'd said six hours," says Thornton, adding he'll rely on a rotating team of comedy writers to keep him supplied with fresh material steps from the stage. Fans can follow the 24-hour event – with breaks for the washroom, but not for sleep – and offer jokes of their own on Twitter or on Ustream.TV.

Other highlights of the eight-day event include:

Saturday Night Live alumnus Tim Meadows, who will do two shows on Nov. 6 and 7 and host Sunday Night Live on Nov. 8.

CRUMBS, the Winnipeg-based improv stars, perform Nov. 4.

Don't You Forget About Patrick Swayze, features improvised versions of Ghost, Point Blank and Dirty Dancing.

Rideout will be playing Keanu Reeves in Point Blank. "I've really been trying to let my acting skills diminish, so hopefully, I can nail Reeves' performance," he jokes.

Watch live streaming video at: www.ustream.tv/channel/the-pat-thornton-show or follow it on twitter and tweet thornton jokes at @patthornton.


Hulk Hogan Wrestles With Life's Setbacks

Source: www.thestar.com -
Garth Woolsey

My Life Outside The Ring, by Hulk Hogan (St. Martin's Press, 320 pages, $29.99)

(November 01, 2009) Terry Bollea has been
Hulk Hogan for so long that it is the latter name that gets the author's credit here.

Think Clark Kent and Superman; Peter Parker and Spider-Man.

The major difference, of course, is that Bollea/Hogan is real. He is alive if not, as this book underlines, always well.

The Hulkster persona has become a global trademark.

All that time in the wrestling ring and on pay-per-view, in movie cameos and, more recently, a Hogan family "reality" TV series have made him as much a figure of folklore as an heir to the sleazy traditions of grappling.

An entertainer through and through, it comes as no surprise that this book moves right along like a well-choreographed bout, punctuated by verbal body slams here and there.

He's had his share of injuries, both physical and mental.

In recent years, Hogan relates, he contemplated suicide after his wife of many years, Linda, filed for divorce. Another low point came when his son Nick was involved in a car crash that led to Nick's being sentenced to eight months in jail for reckless driving involving serious bodily injury.

The Hogan/Bollea story is a combination of tabloid trash and rags-to-riches dazzle. It is hard not to like him. Are all the details here complete and accurate? Not likely, as Hogan seems intent upon cleaning up the dirt as soon as he drops it. But it's his side of the story and one should expect no less.

Seeing Double, And Thinking Twice

Source: www.thestar.com -
Murray Whyte

(November 01, 2009) Candice Breitz is a 37-year-old South African artist, the bulk of whose work plies the dumbed-down universality of our global culture – pop stars and Hollywood movies, deconstructed and distilled to an almost intolerable concentration.

Which is fine, and readable, and crowd-pleasing, to some extent – at least to those members of the crowd who don't realize the joke, at least partially, is on them (for the record, Breitz claims to be an anti-cynic, though it's hard to read some of her work that way). But as the current survey show of her work at the Power Plant reveals, maybe more than any other moment in her career, she's capable of more than that.

The Power Plant show is called
Same Same, and its reason for being is Factum, a work in progress commissioned by the gallery. For it, Breitz interviewed seven sets of Toronto twins separately (and one set of Edmonton triplets) about their relationship with the other. Breitz sat with each for seven hours, and then wove the parallel conversations into one, on separate screens. Factum was purchased by a consortium of Toronto donors for the Art Gallery of Ontario's permanent collection, and thank heavens for that; the result is deeply personal, understated, elegant, affecting and real, and as good a single reason to go to the Power Plant as I've seen in years.

Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot, a performance artist and curator at the Art Gallery of York University, will speak about the Breitz exhibition today at 2 p.m. at the Power Plant. Factum is buffered by Breitz's earlier work, which serves as much to fill the space as to provide some background reading for the worthwhile payoff Factum provides. Nobody likes homework, but it's always best to get it out of the way first, so let's do that.

Earlier works at the Power Plant tease out Breitz's notions of identity, and specifically how they're constructed in our escapist, mass-entertainment driven culture. Upstairs, Breitz mirrors edited monologues by the doyennes of the so-called chick flick genre (Meg Ryan, Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon) with her own simultaneous lip-synched performance of their lines. Breitz sits in plain black and white while the superstars emanate in glorious Technicolor.

Breitz calls it Becoming (2003), and there's something being said here, I suppose, about the obvious rift between real life and its glossy portrayal on screen but it's mostly a quick, forgettable giggle and on to the next.

Downstairs is Him and Her, a multichannel video work from last year that extracts snippets of dialogue from the film careers of Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Here, Breitz sets each actors' canon of characters into tense dialogue with one another.

Both pieces are eminently watchable, even engaging . But there's still that impenetrable sheen of artifice that stops the piece short of actually affecting. Maybe that's the point – allowing actors to do our feeling for us is a central feature of our thoroughly post-modern detachment – but if that's not cynicism, I don't know what is.

In the next room is Legend, from 2005, a 30-channel video piece in which Breitz enlisted 30 residents of Port Antonio, Jamaica to sing their way, a capella, through a catalogue of Bob Marley songs. None are singers, per se; Breitz put an ad in the local paper.

The result is an almost painfully sincere chorus paying tribute to a very real icon, at least to them; and while it could be read as touching, it's also a little humiliating – the intensity, the commitment, the complete and utter lack of self-consciousness. The singers mean their performance as unvarnished tribute; as Breitz's London gallery, White Cube, describes it, the artist had something else in mind, perhaps, as an "affectionate glimpses into the power structures inherent in mass media and its passionate consumers."

Which leaves at the core of the piece, and the others not made specifically for this show, the troubling, maddening extent to which some of us invest emotional energy, and our own identities, in a distant celebrity persona built specifically for public consumption.

This is all clever enough, if overdone, and mildly soulless; how much can any of us really engage with being called out yet again on our escapist fascinations with mass culture? But it also serves to make Factum that much more potent. Putting on the headphones for each of the three sets of twins currently on view (the others are in the process of completion), is a blast of crisp, fresh air. The Misericordia twins, older women, lovingly chide one another in absentia about their plastic surgeries, and how they have to do them together; the Kang twins, 20-something women who suffered parallel eating disorders together, speak frankly about the rift it created in their relationship ("I was ready to be well," says one twin, Hannah; her sister wasn't. "I hated her for that"); and the Tremblays, a pair of identically punky sisters relating their parallel lives coming out as lesbians, together, and sharing their first heartbreak simultaneously, at the hands of the same woman.

Each of the pieces are remarkably frank, disarmingly human and sincere. There's a moment, oblique and in passing, where one of the Misericordia twins says she's "willing herself well;" her sister, cheery and good-natured, echoes the same, indomitably positive, and moves on. Later, reflecting on what life as a twin has been like, the sister willing her own wellness – quiet code for a frighteningly terminal illness – wells up, momentarily, her voice breaking with emotion. She composes herself and moves on – to getting her eyes done, to her multiple chins, to the strange experience of watching herself age from the outside, in her sister's face.

It is, simply, heart-stopping in its quiet intensity, transformatively raw, emotional and sincere. As Breitz rightly points out, we are a culture distracted by entertainment, so much so that we let it do much of our feeling for us. But this is no revelation. Factum's corrective counter-balance pushes past that obvious observation into the more compelling territory – how we fashion our own identities, and experience of the world, through real relationships with those closest to us.

The experience of twins – because who could be closer? – is an effective hyperbole to sharpen the point. But it's not for its own sake. Breitz's twins are fully realized, in and of themselves, and each other – full, real lives carrying on outside "the power structures inherent in mass media and its passionate consumers." Imagine that.

Same Same continues to Nov. 15. Factum continues to Nov. 29.

MLK's Daughter Is SCLC's First Female Prez

Source: www.eurweb.com

(November 02, 2009) *Rev. Bernice King, the youngest child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, on Friday became the first woman to head the Southern Christian Leadership Conference civil rights organization co-founded by her father.

"I stand before you as a daughter of the civil rights movement calling forth the daughters and sons of the next generation of social change," King said Friday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father preached from 1960 until his death in 1968. "I am a King, yet I am mindful that I am not the only one."

Interim President Byron Clay announced the decision of the board of directors and notified King of the results of the election on Friday.

"She is excited," Clay told reporters. "I am excited. The nation will be excited."

King, who becomes the third in her family to serve as SCLC president, said she plans to work closely with The King Center and will reconnect people with her father's philosophy of nonviolence. She said a key part of the organization's success going forward will be recruiting and engaging younger members.

"Young people are ready," King said. "They just need direction. Any movement of change always happens with young people."

Women will also play a key role, she said.

"It is critical to the success of the next generation of social change to have the full and active commitment and participation of girls and women of all ages," King said. "After all, as my mother would remind me, a woman's place is in the struggle. We must be the soul of a nation."

By a vote of 23 to 15, King defeated Judge Wendell Griffen of Little Rock, Ark, for the position. Griffen was the first black attorney to work for a major Arkansas law firm and is an ordained minister and pastor of New Millennium Church.

The SCLC has roughly 10,000 members and nearly 80 chapters in 17 states from Georgia to California.     


Toronto FC Goalie Up For Rookie Of The Year

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(November 02, 2009) Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei is one of three finalists for Major League Soccer rookie of the year.

The 23-year-old Swiss-born Californian – taken in the first round, 13th overall, in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft – won the starting job over veteran Greg Sutton and sophomore Brian Edwards in training camp.

Frei, who started all but one of TFC's first 27 games, posted a 9-9-7 record with a 1.49 goals against average and five shutouts. His strong performance allowed TFC to release Sutton in mid-season.

But a dislocated finger kept Frei out of the final three games of the season as TFC pushed toward the playoffs.

TFC lost 5-0 in their final game of the season in New York against the MLS-worst Red Bulls and missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

Edwards, 25, started the final three games of the season, going 1-1-1 with a 2.00 goals against average and one shutout.

Los Angeles Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and D.C. United striker Chris Pontius were also nominated for the award, which will be announced on Nov. 12.

Usain Bolt May Have Met His Match With Pet Cheetah

Source: www.thestar.com

(November 02, 2009) NAIROBI–Olympic and world sprint champion Usain Bolt on Monday adopted a cheetah cub in Kenya's Nairobi National Park.

The head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Julius Kipng'etich, described the event as "the first time in history where the fastest animal and the fastest man will meet."

Bolt, who had said previously he was scared of cheetahs as they could out-run him, said he changed his mind as he bottle-fed the two-month-old cub over his shoulder.

Cheetahs are some of the world's fastest and most skilled predators, able to reach speeds of up to 112 km per hour. The Jamaican sprinter's new cub has been named Lightning Bolt.

Bolt was accompanied by Welsh hurdler Colin Jackson who adopted an eland, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has previously adopted two lions.

Odinga used the occasion to remind Kenyans that it was their "civic duty" to preserve the country's diverse wildlife, not just for tourism, but for future generations.

He described the event as a "refreshing" opportunity to talk about sport and wildlife conservation rather than politics, in a country that has faced huge political challenges in recent years.

Bolt has been touring Kenya since last Friday as a sports ambassador for The Zeitz Foundation of Germany.


Slim Your Hips: The Hot Workout!

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, RTS1, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

A client once asked me which exercise was the absolute best to help make her hips slimmer. I told her that "The Push Away" exercise was by far the most effective. She anxiously asked me how to perform it. I told her that when she's sitting at the dinner table and wants seconds, she should grasp the front of the table, take a deep breath... and push away! OK, maybe not what you want to hear, but the story leads us in the right direction.

It's not possible to spot reduce any one area of the body through diet and exercise. If it was, plastic surgeons would be hurting for business. So why am I writing an article about how to slim your hips? Because it is possible to get slimmer hips -- the problem most women run into is that their approach is ineffective.

Depending on genetics, people store fat in varying amounts on different areas of the body. Some people are prone to storing fat around theirs hips and thighs, while others store excess fat around the waist. However, no matter where you store it, you have to come to terms with one physiological fact: You can't tighten up body fat. Generally, the first place you gain fat is the last place that you lose, so patience and consistency are critical.

The bottom line is that you have to reduce overall body fat and focus on a balanced program with an added specialty workout focus for troubled areas.

That being said, here's my four-point plan for trimming your hips:

1. Follow a calorie-reduced nutrition program. This is your first line of attack in reducing body fat.

2. Perform cardiovascular exercise such as jogging four to five days per week for 30 minutes. Many of my personal training clients and eDiets members have experienced great success with a moderate intensity cardio program (e.g. jogging, power walking and video tapes).

3. Strength train twice a week for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Even small amounts of muscle rev the metabolism and stimulate fat loss.

4. Do a specialized routine for the hips. This allows one to work the hips with concentrated exercises so that when body fat is reduced, you're left with lean, tighter hips.

In this article, I'm focusing on No. 4: a specialty workout routine for your hips (I'm also including a cardiovascular recommendation.). The key is to choose exercises for the lower body based on compound movements. Compound movements work multiple muscle groups, not just one. This burns more overall calories and accelerates fat loss. I have included one isolation exercise as almost a warm-up, but then we go right into our compound exercises.

Pay close attention to the exercise descriptions and animations:

1. Ankle Weight Standing Leg Abduction

Starting Position:

Place an ankle weight on your left ankle.

Stand erect with your weight on the right leg with a soft bend in the knee and your right hand on a chair or table for balance.

Place your left hand on your hip.


Contracting the outer thigh (abductor) muscles, move the left leg away from your body while keeping the leg straight, stopping when you feel a contraction in the area of the buttocks.

Slowly return to the starting position.

After completing the set on the left side, repeat on the right side.

Key Points:

Exhale while lifting the weight.

Inhale while returning to the starting position.

If you have one leg that is more dominant than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first.

Perform 25 repetitions on each side and immediately go to the next exercise.

2. Dumbbell Squat

Starting Position:

Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms hanging down at your sides and palms facing one another.

Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise.


Lower your body by bending from your hips and knees, stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor.

Contracting the quadriceps, slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points:

Exhale while returning to the starting position.

Inhale while lowering your body.

Do not let your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times).

It helps to find a marker on the wall to keep your eye on as you lift and lower; otherwise, your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow.

Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down.

Push off with your heels as you return to the starting position.

You may want to try this exercise without weights until you master the movement. It is a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body, but if done improperly can lead to injuries.

Perform 20 repetitions. Wait 45 seconds before moving to the next exercise.

3. Dumbbell Lunges

Starting Position:

Stand straight with your feet together.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.


Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor.

Contracting the quadriceps muscles, push off your right foot slowly returning to the starting position.

Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete the set.

Key Points:

Inhale while stepping forward.

Exhale while returning to the starting position.

The step should be big enough that your left leg is nearly straight. Do not let your knee touch the floor.

Make sure your head is up and your back is straight.

Your chest should be lifted and your front leg should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.

Your right knee should not pass your right foot. You should be able to see your toes at all times.

If you have one leg that is more dominant than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first.

Discontinue this exercise if you feel any discomfort in your knees.

Perform 15 repetitions for each leg. Rest 60 seconds and repeat each an additional time.

At the conclusion of the above exercises (both sets), wait two minutes and go directly to the cardiovascular recommendation below.

4. Jogging or Power Walking

Perform 30 minutes at a moderate intensity. I've found that jogging has a great effect on reducing overall body fat and leaning out the lower body. For those who are unable to jog, power walking is a great alternative.

Perform the entire routine twice per week on alternate days of the week for six weeks while also incorporating my four point formula -- and reap the rewards of slimmer hips.

Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Motivational Note

Excerpt from
www.eurweb.com Willie Jolley

Today’s ‘Live Better With Willie Jolley’ Tip: The Poisoned Mushroom To become a success, you must be careful what you allow to enter your mind. Your mind is like a garden. It will grow whatever is planted. If you plant positive it will grow positive, but if you plant negative you will grow negative. If you plant corn, it will grow corn. But, if you plant poisoned mushrooms, then they too will grow. In fact, weeds and other undesirable plants tend to grow quicker, tend to choke and overtake other plants. That is why you must be careful what you allow to enter into your mind, because it will grow. As you sow, so shall you reap. Think about nothing and you will do nothing. Think about great things and you will do great things. Think positive and you will grow positive. Think negative and you will grow negative! Be careful of the things you allow to grow in your mind. Your input determines your output!