September 17, 2009
Welcome to Fall! Officially next week ... turtlenecks and closed toed shoes!
Such a crazy week with almost all of Hollywood descending on Toronto. The first party I always go to is on the opening weekend of TIFF is Tonya Lee Williams' ReelWorld Film Festival reception. It was a gorgeous day on the rooftop of The Pilot in Yorkville. Check out Kenai Andrew's blog about the reception HERE. Right after that I went to Hello! Magazine's party at Birks where I ran into Russell Peters and crew as well as Tre Armstrong and Luther Brown of So You Think You Can Dance. Sunday night brought the launch of Canadian Black Film Festival's Cinema Noir at Manyata Court in Hazelton Lanes. Monday night was the ET Canada and Liberty Group Celebration Of Glorious 39. Check out my PHOTO GALLERY for some pics.
Well here you go and take a walk through your entertainment news! I'm TIFF-exhausted! ;)
West Vows To Take Time Off
Source: www.allhiphop.com - By Houston Williams
(September 15, 2009) Rapper Kanye West vowed to remove himself from the limelight of fame in an exclusive interview with Jay Leno last night.
West offered what appeared to be a sincere, nearly tearful explanation of the events that resulted in him interrupting an acceptance speech by singer Taylor Swift.
In the unplanned interview, Leno asked West about how his mother, the late Dr. Donda West, would feel at his actions. West then revealed that he had never taken time to grieve and would eventually take time to reflect and collect himself.
West said: “You know, obviously, you know, I deal with hurt. And, you know, so many celebrities, they never take the time off. I’ve never taken the time off to really — you know, just music after music and tour after tour,” he said. “I’m just ashamed that my hurt caused someone else’s hurt. My dream of what awards shows are supposed to be, ’cause — and I don’t try to justify it because I was just in the wrong. That’s period. But I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I’m going to make it through the rest of this life, how I’m going to improve. Because I am a celebrity, and that’s something I have to deal with. And if there’s anything I could do to help Taylor in the future or help anyone, I’d like — you know, I want to live this thing. It’s hard sometimes…”
The moment was captured on Jay Leno’s prime-time debut Monday, a debut that also saw a performance by Jay-Z, West and Rihanna.
West said that he didn’t realize exactly how rude he had behaved until he gave the mic back to Swift and she didn’t continue her speech. He was showered with boos from the crowd even after he left the venue.
West felt Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” should have won for best female video award, not Swift’s “You Belong With Me.”
Kanye said that he hoped to one day apologize to Swift face to face. He was not booed on the show.
Kanye West Calls Taylor Swift To Apologize
Source: www.thestar.om - Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press
(September 15, 2009) NEW YORK–It looks like Kanye West has finally given a personal apology to Taylor Swift.
Representatives from The View say West called the country sensation after her appearance on Tuesday's show. During the broadcast, the 19-year-old singer said West had yet to contact her to apologize for hijacking her acceptance speech on the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.
"He has not personally reached out or anything but if he wanted to say hi (I would)," said Swift.
After Swift's comments, West called her and the two spoke, according to a statement from The View.
"After the show he spoke personally to the country music superstar via telephone and has apologized to the 19-year-old singer. She has accepted Mr. West's apology. The contents of the phone call are to remain private," it read.
Afterward, Swift told ABC News Radio: "He was very sincere in his apology and I accepted that apology."
It's the latest in the saga that has caused a national uproar. The drama began after Swift beat out Beyonce and other acts to win best female video at the VMAs for her hit "You Belong With Me."
Swift, the first country act to win at the VMAs, was exuberant after her win, but that moment didn't last long as West – known for his awards-show meltdowns – grabbed the microphone and declared that Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" was one of the "best videos of all time."
A shaken Swift did not finish her speech at that moment, but when Beyonce later won for video of the year, she brought Swift out so that she could have her moment.
When asked about the incident during her appearance on The View, Swift said: "I'm not gonna say that I wasn't rattled by it. I had to perform live five minutes later so I had to get myself back to the place where I could perform."
However, she said she was gratified by the outpouring of support not only from fans, but also from celebrities and others who offered support immediately after the incident occurred.
"There were a lot of people around me backstage that were saying wonderful, incredible things and just having my back," she said. ``I just never imagined that there were that many people looking out for me."
West has taken a drubbing since then. While he issued two apologies on his blog after the incident, he gave another, emotional one on Monday's premiere of The Jay Leno Show.
"It was rude, period," West said. " ... I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest of this life, how I'm going to improve."
Kanye West Gets Leno Sucker-Punch
Source: www.thestar.om - Rob Salem
(September 15, 2009) "What the hell were you thinking?"
Hey, it worked once.
Jay Leno has to be the luckiest guy on TV. Back in 1995, when he was running neck-and-neck with David Letterman as the controversial host of an as-yet unproven new Tonight Show, the single moment that propelled him ahead in the ratings, where he would remain for the next decade and a half, was the fortuitous booking of a scandalized Hugh Grant, copping to charges of soliciting sex with the sheepish admission, "I did a bad thing."
And now here's Leno again, 14 years later, back on the host hot-seat with an untried new 10 o'clock Jay Leno Show ... and an apparently now precognative guest-booking acumen, with a contrite Kanye West already scheduled to appear a mere 24 hours after humiliating himself with a disruptive diatribe on Sunday's MTV Awards.
It became immediately clear last night from Leno's anemic opening monologue that he's going to need all the help he can get.
Well, maybe not need – his NBC deal says he's going to be with us now, five nights a week, 40-plus weeks a year, for the next two years, whether anyone actually watches him or not.
And you'd have to be living under a rock inside of a cave on a desert island to not have been subjected to NBC's summer-long overkill ad campaign. Leno himself acknowledged as much right off the top: "No, this is not another annoying promo ... this is the actual show."
And let's not kid ourselves, even without the Kanye carrot, millions were tuned in last night to Leno's debut, whether out of curiosity or genuine affection. There's a reason Leno was able to maintain that lead over Letterman all these years, and that, let's face it, Conan O'Brien has not.
But Jay's undeniable Everyman appeal has virtually eliminated the need for him to actually be funny.
At least, judging by the surprising, even-for-Leno lameness of the first show's spoken and pre-taped comedy. There was a grin or two early on, provided by the first of what are planned to be numerous regular comedy contributors, Dan Finnerty, a musical novelty act you probably don't remember from a brief appearance as a wedding singer in The Hangover.
But it took inaugural guest Jerry Seinfeld to bring the funny, about a half an hour in, joining Jay side-by-side on a pair of comfy chairs, Strombo style, as the only apparent derivation from the look and content of Leno's old Tonight Show.
A fact even longtime pal Seinfeld couldn't resist taking a shot at. "I'm just trying to grasp what really is going on here," he deadpanned, recalling the spectacle of just three months back when Leno vacated his 11:30 slot. "You know," Seinfeld cracked, "in the '90s when we quit a show, we actually left."
Seinfeld also participated in a less-than-hilarious bit that had preferred guest Oprah Winfrey, just off a plane from Toronto, appearing by satellite and completely ignoring her erstwhile host.
Seinfeld's life-preserver appearance nothwithstanding, Leno sunk to an uncharacteristic all-time low when, 45 minutes in, it came time for his much-anticipated main event, the Kanye West mea culpa.
Not that West was much help: For a man who hasn't exactly ever been at a loss for words, appearing on national television with the stated intention of apologizing, he could barely stammer out a coherent sentence.
A panicked Leno then lowered the boom, an emotional sucker-punch to Kanye's curiously coiffed head.
Where Hugh Grant got a "What the hell were you thinking?," West got nailed with a virtual "What would your dead mom think?"
Tears were fought back, the stammering got even more incoherent, and Leno managed to alienate even the millions of viewers who up to that point were happy to see him back.
If this keeps up, 10 o'clock is going to turn into a very lonely hour for Jay Leno.
Kanye's 2nd, 3rd And 4th Apologies
(September 15, 2009) UPDATE: Now Kanye West has apologized to Taylor Swift. According to the AP's music writer, Nekesa Mumbi Moody:
"Representatives from 'The View' say West called the country sensation after her appearance on Tuesday's show. During the broadcast, the 19-year-old singer said West had yet to contact her to apologize for hijacking her acceptance speech on the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.
'He has not personally reached out or anything but if he wanted to say hi (I would),' said Swift.
After Swift's comments, West called her and the two spoke, according to a statement from 'The View.'"
Earlier we reported ...
*Kayne West posted a second apology on his blog Monday to follow his initial mea culpa for stealing Taylor Swift's spotlight Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards. Then Monday night he apologized a third time on the new "Jay Leno Show."
The rapper wrote on Monday: "I feel like Ben Stiller in 'Meet the Parents' when he messed up everything and Robert De Niro asked him to leave... That was Taylor's moment and I had no right in any way to take it from her. I am truly sorry.
Kanye's original apology is listed below. It was posted in all caps on Sunday night following the VMAs, but was taken down on Monday and replaced with the above "Meet the Parents" comparison.
West wrote Sunday night:
“I’m sooooo sorry to Taylor Swift and her fans and her mom [Andrea]. I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would’ve said. She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! …………………… I’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!…………….. Beyonce’s video was the best of this decade!!! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down!!!!! I’m sorry to my friends at MTV. I will apologize to Taylor 2mrw. Welcome to the real world!!!! Everybody wanna booooo me but I’m a fan of real pop culture!!! No disrespect but we watchin’ the show at the cribe right now cause…. Well you know!!!! I’m still happy for Taylor!!!! Boooyaawww!!!! You are very talented!!!!! I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me… That’s what it is!!!! I’m not crazy yall, I’m just real. Sorry for that!!! I really feel bad for Taylor and I’m sincerely sorry!!! Much Respect!!!!!”
*On top of his second apology, as noted above, West also used Jay Leno's prime-time debut Monday to offer a third apology for ruining Taylor Swift's night at the MTV Video Music Awards and to say he's going to take some time off for reflection.
West said he knew he was wrong the moment he handed the microphone back to Swift, when he was bathed in boos. He had interrupted Swift on Sunday night as she accepted a best female video award for "You Belong With Me," arguing that Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" was more deserving.
"It was rude, period," West said. He posted a second apology to Swift on his blog on Monday, and told Leno he wanted to apologize to the country music star in person.
West took a long pause when Leno asked what his mother would have said about the incident. West was very close to his mother, Donda, who died in November 2007. He said yes when Leno asked whether his mother would have given him a lecture.
Global Actress Reveals Her Private Fight: An Incurable Cancer, A Determined
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Gayle MacDonald(September 11, 2009) Lisa Ray tugs the black T-shirt off her right shoulder to reveal a bandage covering a quarter-sized hole in her chest that she's nicknamed her “port-a-potty.”
The correct medical term for the incision in Ms. Ray's upper chest wall is actually a “port-a-cath,” and the gorgeous Toronto-born actress recently had it done at Princess Margaret Hospital to reduce the pain of the weekly chemotherapy she is taking to combat a rare, incurable form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.
“I was getting really challenged by all the needles,” said the 37-year-old star of films such as the Academy Award-nominated Water, and the upcoming Cooking With Stella , which debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival next week. “I have really bad veins, and I would get the nurses to sing, do anything, to distract me, because it's just impossible to get anything out of my veins. They just collapse. The catheter provides direct access to a primary vein. It's such a relief not having to be poked all the time.”
Ms. Ray has revealed to The Globe and Mail that she's been privately fighting the aggressive cancer, which destroys red blood cells. During an exclusive interview from the courtyard of her condo in the Beaches, Ms. Ray was remarkably upbeat when describing the June 23 diagnosis of a disease that afflicts roughly 6,000 Canadians, with numbers growing. According to Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2,100 new cases of myeloma were estimated for 2008, with 1,350 deaths.
Canadian actress Lisa Ray is chronicling her fight with multiple myeloma, a rare cancer, on her blog.
The Etobicoke, Ont., native, who is of Polish and Bengali descent, has begun chronicling her experience on a blog she calls The Yellow Diaries that has already garnered responses from around the world. “For me, it was a relief to hear what was wrong,” she wrote. “The plasma cells in my bone marrow were rampaging, multiplying, squeezing out the red blood cells, and it was time to begin doing something about it. I was also tired of being tired all the time. So when I … got the news, I didn't react, and I didn't cry. I'm an actress, believe me, I can be dramatic. Not just then, though.”
She knows that when she walks the red carpet at the film festival for Dilip Mehta's new comedy, Cooking With Stella, on Sept. 16, fans may take note of her slightly bloated face and figure (due to steroids), and she said she decided to go public with her battle to help build awareness of a rare form of cancer few people know much about.
“I believe, statistically, if you were diagnosed with multiple myeloma 10 years ago, even five years ago, you would be given a three-year survival rate, which is really scary. But today, I could live for 20 years,” said Ms. Ray.
“What's interesting about this particular form of cancer is that there is a growing toolbox of drugs, such as Velcade and Revlimid, that are gaining approval sooner and sooner. Today it's treated as almost a condition you can live with – incurable, but not necessarily fatal.”
Despite her aggressive treatment, Ms. Ray looks radiant, but tired. The famous cat eyes – a shocking bottle green – sparkle, but are a little glassy. The chemo drains her, the workaholic admitted, but has done nothing to dent her resolve to best a disease that snuck up on her, leaving her excruciatingly tired, pale, and finally so weak she required a blood transfusion. After that, tests done in Toronto determined that she had myeloma. Her four-month-long cycle of treatments started in early July, and will finish at the end of October. Then she will undergo a stem-cell transplant. After that, she is banking on full remission.
Until this week, Ms. Ray has stayed quiet about her condition, telling only family and a few close friends. Some had advised her not to go public for fear of hurting her career. But as TIFF loomed – and she grappled with the weird reality of juggling chemo treatments with glitzy, red carpet appearances to promote Cooking With Stella and her other film, Peter Stebbings's Defendor – she decided it was time to speak out.
“I really am a bit of a freak,” said Ms. Ray, noting that this type of cancer usually hits people who are over 70. “I have what is a relatively unsexy cancer because most members of our club are much older than I. But my age makes me a very intriguing case, in a way. There's greater potential to try out stronger and newer drugs because my system can handle it better than an older body. So I'm like a guinea pig,” she said with a self-deprecating laugh and toss of her dark hair.
“I'm aiming for full remission,” she blogged this week. “That's my claim and I'm plowing it into the mountaintop. Though I'm not sure why I keep mixing up ‘remission' with ‘transmission' and ‘transgression.' There's a whole new lingo you have to learn when you get this disease. Maybe that will get clearer down the line.”
A nomad who studied drama in London before landing acting roles that took her around the world, Ms. Ray has put down roots in Toronto – a decision she initially made to be closer to her dad after the death of her mom (she's an only child) a few months ago. On her return to her hometown, Ms. Ray's partner (a man named Mark who works in Toronto's financial sector) persuaded her to slow down long enough to get some full-scale blood work, which was followed by a gruelling bone-marrow test. “He almost fainted three times,” she noted, “which shocked me because he's a brave bugger.”
Treatment kicked off July 2. And, thanks to the steroids, she said, she's ravenous all the time. “I've bloated to about three times my usual size,” said Ms. Ray, who confesses in her blog she's currently obsessed with “the pepperettes at Meat on the Beach. I had a Gollum-worthy breakdown at the counter recently when I found out they haven't restocked.
“In retrospect there were signs, but I didn't pay attention to them,” Ms. Ray said ruefully. “Sure I was tired all the time. But I figured, who isn't? This illness has brought to light the pressure we have in society to keep going and going, overriding things that are trying to tell us to stop and slow down.”
For now, Ms. Ray's career is on temporary hiatus. She will strut the red carpet with her Cooking With Stella co-stars Don McKellar and Seema Biswas next Wednesday night. But recently, she's stopped meeting with directors and reading scripts. Her plan for the remainder of the year, she adds, is to focus on getting better.
“I have been keeping a punishingly normal schedule, even during treatments,” blogged Ms. Ray, who left the TIFF press conference in early August to scoot up to Princess Margaret for another round of chemo. “It's the covert Type-A in me. My years of drama school, and the ability to manufacture an alternate reality for a role, have come in handy. But I knew I wasn't trusting the situation. I was treating my battle like it's inconvenient. Managing the stage like a tyrannical Bollywood choreographer,” she added. “But I've recognized I need to ask for help and support. They say, name it. Then you can recognize it. Then deal with it.”
When she resumes acting, she predicted that she'll choose a comedy. “Something frothy and light,” she chuckled. “I think I deserve that.”
WHAT IS MYELOMA?
Multiple myeloma and myeloma refer to the same thing: a cancer of the plasma cells. Plasma cells are found in the bone marrow, the tissue in the hollow area within the bones. Because plasma cells are also found in the blood, myeloma is referred to as a hematologic or blood cancer. It may also be referred to as plasma cell myeloma. The word “multiple” is often used because the malignant cells usually affect multiple areas of the bone marrow.
The early stages of myeloma may produce no symptoms. Most people first go to their doctor because of vague problems that can be difficult to diagnose, such as fatigue, recurrent infections (cold sores), or back pain. Other symptoms include tiredness (accompanied by thirst, frequent urination, nausea, or muscle weakness) and kidney problems.
The average age at diagnosis is 62 for men and 61 for women, and only 4 per cent of cases are diagnosed in people under 45.
Radiotherapy, chemotherapy, steroids, stem-cell transplantation, thalidomide, bortezomib (Velcade), lenalidomide (Revlimid). Treatments or drugs are commonly used in different combinations, such as thalidomide and a high dose of steroids or melphalan and prednisone. In addition, new treatments are becoming available.
Patrick Swayze, 57: Dirty Dancing Actor
Source: www.thestar.om - Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
(September 15, 2009) LOS ANGELES–Patrick Swayze, an actor and classically trained dancer whose role in the film Dirty Dancing made him a movie star, died yesterday. He was 57.
Swayze, who also starred in the blockbuster film Ghost, died in Los Angeles with his family at his side, his publicist, Annett Wolf, told Associated Press.
Swayze learned he had pancreatic cancer early in 2008, a diagnosis that came two weeks after production wrapped on the pilot of The Beast, an A&E television series in which Swayze starred as an unorthodox FBI agent.
Although the cancer was advanced, he was found to have a controlled form of the disease and persuaded the network to go ahead with the series. It was shot over five months in Chicago while Swayze was undergoing chemotherapy and taking an experimental drug that targets tumours.
"I'm proud of what I'm doing," Swayze told The New York Times in October. "How do you nurture a positive attitude when all the statistics say you're a dead man? You go to work."
Colleagues had nothing but praise for the actor in interviews with the Toronto Star's Rob Salem.
"He's been an absolute inspiration for me and I'm sure the other guys. He's an amazing guy," said co-star Travis Fimmel.
"As hard as it is to imagine, you forget about (the cancer) when you're working 12 hours a day and you're on the set with him and, you know, usually most of us would get tired before he would. Then you remember and you think of what this man was going through to show up to work every day," said series co-creator Vincent Angell.
Swayze's fame intruded on his final months as he wrestled with what he called the "reckless reporting" that regularly pronounced he was near death. Such coverage amounted to "emotional cruelty," he said, "when hope is so precious."
In 1987, when Dirty Dancing was released, it was a sleeper hit that soared in large part because of Swayze's charisma and dancing skills. Critics praised the ruffian nobility he brought to the character of Johnny Castle, a sexy-yet-sensitive dance instructor from the wrong side of the tracks.
To Swayze, the musical love story set at a Catskills Mountains resort worked because people relived "those wonderfully painful moments ... when you just need to love somebody with all your heart, and to be loved back. ... Plus, it was a pretty sexy movie," he said in 1997.
Swayze turned down a reported $7 million (U.S.) to star in a Dirty Dancing sequel and resisted roles that would cast him as a hunk with a heart.
After appearing as a roughneck police officer in Next of Kin and as a bouncer in Road House – two 1989 movies that flopped – he fought for a leading role in the romantic tear-jerker Ghost.
In the film, Swayze is an investment banker who returns as a ghost to solve his murder and express his love for his girlfriend, played by Demi Moore. The film was a runaway hit.
Ghost confirmed Swayze's heartthrob status and conferred legitimacy on Swayze as an actor.
The film seemed to assure a career for him as a leading man, but Swayze went in other directions. He starred with Keanu Reeves in the action-packed Point Break (1991) so he could become a licensed sky diver and surf big waves. In City of Joy (1992), Swayze was an idealistic American surgeon in Calcutta, India. In To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), he played a drag queen.
Defending his choices, Swayze said he was "fed up with that Hollywood blockbuster mentality."
Cult movies, he said, "have given me a career for 30 years. It wouldn't have been worth it if I had been stuck as the leading man or the dance guy," London's Daily Express reported in 2008.
He credited his wife, Lisa Niemi, a dancer he met back home in Texas and married in 1976, for pulling him back from a drinking problem that started after the death of his father in 1982.
Swayze was born Aug. 18, 1952, in Houston, the second of five children of Jesse and Patsy Swayze.
His mother was a dance teacher and professional ballet choreographer who choreographed the 1980 film Urban Cowboy. His father was an engineering draftsman whom Swayze called a "gentle cowboy."
His mother taught Swayze to dance at an early age and he was unmercifully bullied because of it.
In 1972, he moved to New York, intent on a career in ballet.
His future wife, Niemi, whom he met at his mother's dance studio, followed after graduating from high school in 1975. Both landed jobs with Joffrey Ballet's second company.
Swayze joined Eliot Feld Ballet Company in 1976, but after a year as a principal dancer, a knee injury from high school football flared up, ending his dance career.
He turned to acting and was cast in the lead of Grease on Broadway. Swayze considered his first big break to be a starring role as Confederate soldier Orry Main in ABC's 1985 Civil War miniseries North and South.
Patrick Swayze Dies At 57
Source: www.thestar.om - Associated Press
(September 14, 2009) LOS ANGELES–Patrick Swayze, the hunky actor who danced his way into viewers' hearts with Dirty Dancing and then broke them with Ghost, died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.
"Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months," said a statement released Monday evening by his publicist, Annett Wolf. No other details were given.
Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from a particularly deadly form of cancer.
He had kept working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting The Beast, an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot. It drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran in 2009, but A&E said it had reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.
Swayze said he opted not to use painkilling drugs while making The Beast because they would have taken the edge off his performance. He acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.
When he first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was ``considerably more optimistic" than that.
"I'd say five years is pretty wishful thinking," Swayze told ABC's Barbara Walters in early 2009. "Two years seems likely if you're going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means I'd better get a fire under it."
A three-time Golden Globe nominee, Swayze became a star with his performance as the misunderstood bad-boy Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. As the son of a choreographer who began his career in musical theatre, he seemed a natural to play the role.
A coming-of-age romance starring Jennifer Grey as an idealistic young woman on vacation with her family and Swayze as the Catskills resort's sexy (and much older) dance instructor, the film made great use of both his grace on his feet and his muscular physique.
It became an international phenomenon in the summer of 1987, spawning albums, an Oscar-winning hit song in "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," stage productions and a sequel, 2004's Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, in which he made a cameo.
Patrick Swayze Loses Battle With Cancer
Source: www.globeandmail.om - Josh Wingrove
(September 15, 2009) A classically trained dancer who cut his teeth on Broadway, shot to fame as an '80s Hollywood icon, and went a decade without a major role before returning to the small screen this year, Patrick Swayze met his latest challenge head on – speaking frankly about his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Diagnosed early last year, he chose to press ahead with his most recent project, A&E's drama The Beast, refusing painkillers while shooting the show and earning critical acclaim for his role.
Earlier this year, he told Barbara Walters he figured he might have two years to live, fighting a particularly deadly form of the disease. Lisa Niemi, his wife of 34 years and a licensed pilot, regularly flew him from their home in Los Angeles to northern California for treatment.
But on Monday, the one-time Sexiest Man Alive and three-time Golden Globe nominee lost his battle with cancer, passing away with his family at his bedside. He was 57.
“Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months,” his publicist wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Dirty Dancing - Final Dance - Time of my Life
Born in Houston in 1952, Mr. Swayze was the son of choreographer Patsy Swayze, who worked on John Travolta's Urban Cowboy and other films. The young Mr. Swayze was a skilled athlete who followed in his mother's footsteps by pursuing dance, over the criticism of his friends. In 1995, his mother told Britain's Sunday Mail that young Patrick, an accomplished athlete in boxing, wrestling and football, still endured ribbing when he took up ballet and violin.
Five classmates in particular would rough him up, Ms. Swayze said: “He went to the sports coach and arranged to fight them one by one in the gym. He beat them all.”
Mr. Swayze began his career in musical theatre before heading to Hollywood, where he had a number of middling roles in movies such as Red Dawn and The Outsiders.
Patrick Swayze - Chippendale
But it was Dirty Dancing that shot him to the top of Hollywood's A-list. The athlete and classically trained performer was something of a perfect fit for Johnny Castle, the rough-around-the-edges dance teacher at a Catskills resort who won the heart of Frances (Baby) Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey.
Released to little critical acclaim, the love story was a commercial success, producing the iconic song (I've Had) the Time of My Life, and winning an Oscar. The movie spawned a stage show and a 2004 big screen spinoff, in which Mr. Swayze had a cameo appearance.
Three years after Dirty Dancing came Ghost, in which he played the late husband of Demi Moore. The movie earned two Oscars, including one for Whoopi Goldberg, who played a psychic through whom Mr. Swayze's character tried to contact his wife. She credited him for the award.
“When I won my Academy Award, the only person I really thanked was Patrick,” Ms. Goldberg said last year on The View. (She mourned him Monday night, saying in a statement to E!: “Patrick was a really good man, a funny man and one to whom I owe much that I can't ever repay. I believe in Ghost's message, so he'll always be near.”) But he had to fight to get the role. Director Jerry Zucker initially wanted Kevin Kline, but readings of six scenes persuaded him to give Mr. Swayze the part, Bloomberg reported.
“It made me cry four or five times,” he once said of Bruce Joel Rubin's script, which earned the film its second Academy Award.
Mr. Swayze hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, poking fun at himself in a memorable clip in which he and the characteristically heavy-set Chris Farley vied for a lone spot as a Chippendales dancer. A year later, in 1991, he was on the front of People magazine as its Sexiest Man Alive.
“He's one Hollywood hunk whose image has always been greater than the sum of his (sometimes awful) movie parts,” the magazine wrote.
Afterwards, Mr. Swayze's star began to fall. He starred alongside Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo in 1995's To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, but also in the 1991's poorly-reviewed Point Break. Younger audiences may remember him for his role in 2001's Donnie Darko.
He was reported to have shunned big roles, including a Dirty Dancing sequel that would have earned him a reported $6-million. He was also an outspoken conservationist.
“For a while, I got sucked into that whole blockbuster mentality, where you're just living for the box office figures and selling your soul to a machine,” he told the London Evening Standard in 2006.
He was diagnosed in March, 2008, with pancreatic cancer – a deadly form of the disease with a one-year survival rate of 20 per cent, and a five-year rate of just 4 per cent, according to the Hirshberg Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
Mr. Swayze had already shot the pilot for The Beast, and decided to press ahead and shoot the 13-episode first season. He put off painkillers in hopes of giving his performance as a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent a grittier tone, and spent his weekends in chemotherapy while shooting.
The show earned some critical acclaim – Globe and Mail writer Andrew Ryan wrote earlier this year that Mr. Swayze was “in fine form” and “very good” in the series, which “works on the strength of Swayze's performance.”
News of his death spread quickly Monday night. Ms. Moore's husband, Ashton Kutcher, tweeted: “RIP P Swayze.”
C. Thomas Howell, who co-starred with Mr. Swayze in The Outsiders, Grandview U.S.A. and Red Dawn, said: “I have always had a special place in my heart for Patrick. While I was fortunate enough to work with him in three films, it was our passion for horses that forged a friendship between us that I treasure to this day. Not only did we lose a fine actor today, I lost my older ‘Outsiders' brother.”
He fought the pancreatic cancer in a public way.
In an interview with Ms. Walters in January this year, he discussed openly the grim outlook for his diagnosis.
“I'd say five years is pretty wishful thinking,” he said. “Two years seems likely if you're going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means I'd better get a fire under it.”
In February, Mr. Swayze wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post titled, “I'm Battling Cancer. How About Some Help, Congress?” in which he urged senators and representatives to vote for the maximum funding for the National Institutes of Health to fight cancer as part of the economic stimulus package.
He also appeared in the September, 2008, live television event titled “Stand Up to Cancer.”
“I keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life, a life not lived in the shadow of cancer, but in the light,” he said at the time. “I dream that the word ‘cure' will no longer be followed by the words ‘is impossible.”'
With reports from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News
DeGeneres to replace Abdul on
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Derrik J. Lang, The Associated Press
(September 11, 2009) Ellen DeGeneres wants to represent the people on American Idol , but the people are split about the talk show host's role as the Fox singing competition's fourth judge.
Fans took to the Internet after Wednesday's announcement to express either pleasant surprise or total shock that DeGeneres was picked to replace Paula Abdul.
“I mean, really? Ellen DeGeneres?” wrote popular “Idol” blogger MJ Santilli at mjsbigblog.com. “She guest judged So You Think You Can Dance last season, and her critiques were comic relief. So is she going to be a real judge or some kind of joke? She's a comedian, not a singer or a musician. I'm kinda flummoxed here.”
Others on the Internet, including posters on the AmericanIdol.com forums, said they were pleased that DeGeneres, who admittedly has no formal music experience, just a passion for tunes, would join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi on Idol .
Andy Dehnart, a reality television blogger at realityblurred.com, praised the “somewhat random” decision. He called it a 90-degree turn that would give the aging singing contest new life and may prompt more viewers to tune in when DeGeneres first appears during the semifinal rounds, which tend to be the snooziest part of the season.
“Hopefully, I'm the people's point of view because I'm just like you,” DeGeneres said on her syndicated talk show Thursday. “I sit at home and I watch it, and I don't have that technical ... I'm not looking at it in a critical way from the producer's mind. I'm looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person.”
DeGeneres' hiring as the show's fourth judge all but seals the departure of Abdul, the original third judge who announced she was quitting amid a contract dispute in July.
Abdul had served as judge alongside Cowell and Jackson since the show's debut in 2002. Producers shook up the franchise last season by adding songwriter DioGuardi as a fourth judge.
Since departing Idol , Abdul has gone diva, filming a cameo for Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva as a gavel-banging, glammed-up version of herself and signing on to host the live VH1 Divas concert on Sept. 17.
Abdul has yet to announce a steady job to replace her role on the Fox singing contest, but she told TV Guide last week she'd like to host a talk show.
Abdul had been replaced by a succession of guest judges across the country as “Idol” started next season's auditions, which will air in January. Among them: former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry and Shania Twain – but not the 51-year-old DeGeneres, who will join the ninth season following the show's tryout rounds.
It won't be DeGeneres' first time in a reality TV judge's seat – or on Idol. She served as a guest judge earlier this summer on So You Think You Can Dance , critiquing the dancing competition's top eight finalists. In 2007, she was the co-host of Idol Gives Back , the singing contest's charity event. She returned the next year in a pre-taped segment.
DeGeneres has enjoyed a successful reign as the host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show for the past six years, although her four-year streak as the Daytime Emmy winner for talk show host ended this year when Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters from ABC's The View were awarded the prize for the first time.
Idol producers backed their pick of DeGeneres.
“Beyond her incredible sense of humour and love of music, she brings with her an immense warmth and compassion that is almost palpable,” said Idol executive producer and FremantleMedia North America CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz in a statement. “She is one of America's foremost entertainers, and we cannot wait to have her join our team.”
::JUST MY OPINION::
Yes, the Kanye incident … Well I was probably like most of you. I was watching the VMAs on Sunday night and witnessed this debacle live. I think I said out loud, ‘What an asshole!” while I watched Taylor Swift looked stunned, Beyonce look bewildered and an audience look uncomfortable. If it had been anyone else, I would have assumed that this was a stunt and a part of the show. But it was Kanye … not exactly known for being soft-spoken. I went on with my evening yet it was the talk of the CBFF reception on Sunday night. Lots of expletives from industry folk as they made their comments – no one found it remotely amusing. Again, probably like many of you, I was forming a harsh opinion of this misguided rapper and remembered many interviews when he was arrogant to the point of nauseating.
Sadly, not once did I remember the time I briefly spoke with his mom in Chicago in 2005 after she had given a moving and touching talk at which her son was present and also performed, at the NABFEME Mentor Power Luncheon… In Celebration of the Celebrity Mom. She of course, cast Kanye in a different light.
THEN, I saw the Jay Leno show with Kanye as his guest – see the video HERE. I was sincerely moved and grateful that I took the time to watch it. To see the boy grieving his mom and to take full accountability for his actions. I hope that he does take the time that he requires to sort through his loss. Yeah, I know I’m sounding so girlie right now but am happy he didn’t stand behind his actions. Even the cute Taylor Swift has forgiven him. See a related article HERE. Now I know that I probably wouldn't feel this way unless he did give a few heartfelt apologies and was brave enough to do it without going through his publicist.
So, throughout this tragic moment in music award show history, I learned something - not to be so quick to judge someone acting out their emotions and to tolerate 'humaness' with more empathy and compassion.
And that's just my opinion ...
Opera Star Relaunches Outside Her Comfort Zone
Source: www.thestar.com - Emily Mathieu, Staff Reporter(September 11, 2009) Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman lit up the stage at Yonge-Dundas Square last night, in her first major performance since emergency heart surgery in June.
The Toronto Star talked to her before her show with DJ Champion on the opening night of TIFF.
How does it feel to have TIFF as your first public event?
I don't think I knew just how major it was until I got out of the car. I don't think that in my wildest dreams, growing up on the north side of Fredericton, that I thought I would be hosting the free portion of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Your singing here is not exactly opera.
I will crank out a tune with DJ Champion, because I am a huge fan and it is a unique opportunity. It certainly will be outside my comfort zone, which I think is important thing to experience at least once in life.
Why are you proud to be part of TIFF?
I think it is important to be part of an event that has put Toronto on the map. It is also important for Torontonians to know that this festival does belong to us. When we buy tickets to go see the films, we are contributing to our own economy.
What are you hoping to see?
I am mostly interested in the films that are made by the tiny filmmakers, who applied for a grant, had a great idea and were finally able to see it come to fruition.
How are you feeling?
People were extremely respectful of my space and my necessity to heal, physiologically, spiritually and psychologically. I feel ready to be back at work. I didn't get too restless; I spent the last two weeks in P.E.I., so I have been having a good time.
Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic
(September 12, 2009) Chances are you haven't heard Nelly Furtado's new single.
The beloved Victoria native who has racked up 10 Junos for her last three albums is barely getting radio play at home for the catchy lead tune from her first Spanish-language disc Mi Plan, which drops Tuesday.
According to Furtado's distributors, the only Top 40 stations airing "Manos Al Aire" ("Hands in the Air") in Canada are CHUM-FM, and Z103 in Toronto and Halifax.
Meanwhile, the guitar-driven love song about "asking for truce and forgiveness in a relationship" is No. 1 in Chile, Colombia and all of Central America, has topped Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart and is Top 5 in Germany, Italy and Austria. "They play it all kinds places where Spanish is not the main language, or the second language, but I guess Canada, I guess the radio format's a little different," said the amiable songstress, who is scheduled to appear at the MTV Video Awards tomorrow.
Furtado, whose English-Portuguese (her parental ancestry) "Forca" – off 2003's Folklore – spun on Canadian commercial radio, is hopeful that Mi Plan will yet garner similar appreciation.
"It's all a matter of them playing it to see (the listener response)," she said in an interview. "If not the first single, maybe the second one.
"I tried to make the album make sense within the Latin tradition of pop music, where the lyrics are very important, so obviously there's a deeper level of enjoyment if you're fluent in Spanish. But if you just love music ... there's some great voices on the album and some great sounds and rhythms."
Her collaborators included Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba, U.S. hip-hop producer Salaam Remi, Mexican crooner Alejandro Fernandez, Spanish flamenco guitarist Javier Limon and U.S. pop singer Josh Groban.
"He always struck me as somebody real and grounded and unique," she said of Groban. "I love people that aren't afraid of being on their own, and Josh is totally in his own lane. You can't find him on Top 40, but he sells millions of albums just by the strength of his voice, and I admire that. I have wanted to work with him for a while.
"Lester Mendez and I wrote ("Silencio"), and right away we knew we had to have Josh on the song. I wrote the bridge especially for him, and when we sent it to him he decided he wanted to sing on the whole song.
"I thought it was important to include somebody that most people know of as an English singer. I thought it was a statement about the album and how I feel like language isn't a real barrier; music is a language itself. And I get that same innate emotional joy when I sing in Spanish as Portuguese."
Furtado, 30, said her high school Spanish has improved through associations with Latin musicians and her marriage last year to Cuban-American sound engineer Demacio Castellon. "Sometimes, our more personal moments might be shared in Spanish; it's strange how we might revert to the Latin expressions," she said of the marital rapport.
Furtado's 5-year-old daughter, Nevis, "understands quite a lot of Portuguese and some Spanish, and she speaks a little bit. She's learning more now that the Spanish album's out, 'cause I've told her, `Mommy's got to speak Spanish more now.' I've tried to incorporate it into the everyday a little bit more."
Mi Plan was independently financed through Furtado's Nelstar Music label. "My gauge of success will be, `Has it expanded my audience?' It's interesting that sometimes your less commercially viable albums are actually the ones that give you longevity.
"For instance, 90 per cent of the diehard fans that I meet, their favourite album is Folklore, which was my least commercially successful album.
"I understand the concept that it's not all about market, it's not all about sales. It's about, `Am I going to be doing this when I'm 70?' It's also about reinvention: you have to constantly evolve to engage people and keep their interest. If you try to live in the past it will escape you a little bit.
"When I was a little girl, Julio Iglesias was one of my heroes, because he sang in 10 languages. I was, like, `Wow, that would be really cool to be able to reach that many people.' I love that eclecticism in artists. I definitely aspire to that."
Hola! It's Nelly in Spanish
Source: www.globeandmail.om - Brad Wheeler
(September 15, 2009) She's like a pajaro .
“I think that metaphor is going to stay with me until I'm 80,” Nelly Furtado says, rolling her eyes as she comments on the continued referrals to her hit I'm Like a Bird, nearly a decade after it won her a Grammy Award. “I don't mind,” she continues, with a laugh. “I play into it myself. … But I'm definitely not that kid any more who wrote that song. I've changed a lot – I'm not as restless.”
“ With fado, and all those folkloric styles, to pull that off, you need a lot of life experience.”
Perhaps she's not fidgety, but the 30-year-old star is hardly staying still. Her new album, Mi Plan – out Tuesday – is sung entirely in Spanish, her third language. All of the albums that followed her debut Whoa, Nelly! in 2000 have been flights of departure. Folklore in 2003 hopped from genre to genre, and the alluring urban sounds and risqué poses of 2007's Loose were a shocking change in direction.
But why Spanish, from a Victoria-born singer of Portuguese descent? “It's going to take a lot more living to do a Portuguese album,” says Furtado, whose husband is Cuban and who judges her fluency in Spanish at 50 per cent. “With fado, and all those folkloric styles, to pull that off, you need a lot of life experience.”
What Furtado has pulled off with Mi Plan is a collaboration-heavy record of Spanish pop music that is not inaccessible to English-speaking audiences. The album's lead track and first single, Manos Al Aire (Hands in the Air), sounds like Melissa Etheridge on a Barcelona holiday. “Or Kelly Clarkson,” suggests the dark-skinned Furtado, wearing a fashionable tan dress and have-to-be-fake eyelashes for a round of press interviews last month at a Toronto hotel. “It's very rock-pop. I make no apologies for that.”
Rock? From Nelly Furtado? “I can't sing rock in English,” the chipper songbird admits. “I can't really do it convincingly. But I think in Portuguese or Spanish I can do a better job selling it.”
Though the pop melodies of Mi Plan are universal enough, what Furtado probably won't be able to sell, at least to North American audiences, is the album itself. Josh Groban fans will make a lot of noise over Silencio (a serious, emotive duet with that barrel-of-laughs classical-pop crooner), but Mi Plan can't be counted on to go five-time platinum (500,000) in Canada as Loose did, even with the help of rising Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba, who worked closely with Furtado on the project.
Furtado, who says she dreams in English but talks dirty in other tongues – “personal situations merit a little Latin language, I think” – has previously recorded songs in Portuguese and Spanish. And the new, solely Spanish disc was not born from any grand notions. “I was having a total pop-music writer's block in English,” she says. “I didn't know what to say any more, and I thought ‘Where do I go next?'”
The decision to write in Spanish worked on Furtado like a “form of medicine,” a remedy that she says continues to have an effect. The mother of a young daughter, the singer took an extended break after Loose – but a recent meeting with Timbaland, the in-vogue hip-hop helmsman responsible for the thudding grooves of that album, resulted in “10 or 20 ideas” in short order. As well, Furtado is back in the studio, with an EP of new English material possibly on the way soon.
“Once it started flowing, I was excited about music again,” says Furtado. “I feel like I don't have enough time in the world for all the projects I want to do.”
Releases New Single After VMA Set
(September 15, 2009) 'Make Me' made available at her Web site following tribute performance to her brother.
*After performing in tribute to her late brother Michael at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night, Janet Jackson posted a new track on her Web site titled "Make Me," likely the first single from her upcoming album due in early 2010.
The bouncy dance tune borrows from Michael's 1979 hit "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." The lyrics call for the song's target to "go on get up and shake your body," promising "we're gonna have a good time."
The chorus twists Michael's refrain into a Janet-worthy, sexy come-on, with the lyrics, "Don't stop 'til you get it up," as she entices her man to join her on the dance floor and shake it until the morning light.
"Baby can you move, make me groove/ Show me what you do, make me move/ Baby can you move, make me groove/ Show me what you can do, make me move," she sings in the hook, adding one of her signature breathy come-ons later in the tune to seal the deal. "If you feel like you can get it tonight," she coos. "But first you gotta make me say ... Oooohhh."
The song's release on her Web site followed a well-received performance at the VMAs in which dancing along with a projection of MJ as their duet "Scream" played on the big screen.
Listen to Janet's song "Make Me" HERE
Headlines 9/11 Tribute
(September 11, 2009) *No doubt about it, Jay-Z is a stone-to-bone New Yorker. And Friday night he showed his love for his hometown by headlining his star-studded "Answer the Call" tribute concert to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy.
Here's an excerpt of RollingStone.com's review of the show:
More than any rapper and more than most pop stars, Jay-Z knows the significance of a moment.
The Brooklyn MC’s career is practically defined by them. There’s his Summer Jam obliteration of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy back in 2001, the same year he brought out Michael Jackson for Hot 97’s annual concert. There was his retirement show at Madison Square Garden captured in the documentary Fade to Black. And then there was his Radio City Music Hall show to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Reasonable Doubt. And who could forget the Best of Both Worlds fiasco with R. Kelly that turned into the celebrated Jay-Z and Friends jaunt. He’s even transformed festivals into his personal showcases, with his appearance at Glastonbury last year and All Points West this year.
But when Hov announced he’d be headlining a September 11th benefit show, to not only coincide with the anniversary of his classic album The Blueprint but also to mark the release of his latest effort, The Blueprint 3, one had to wonder if this ambitious slate reeked of opportunism.
It did not.
Last night at the Garden, Jay-Z delivered a carefully orchestrated and riveting show striking the impossibly difficult balance of serving the cause and seizing another night that will stand out in his long list of historic performances.
“We celebrating life tonight, we having a good time,” Jay-Z told the sold-out audience, which included Diddy, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Chris Rock, among other celebrities. “But let’s not forget in 2001 when the first Blueprint came out terrorist attacked New York. They thought they would weaken us. They were sadly mistaken. We stand here even stronger. This is our town. We run New York City. We run this town.”
And with that, the blaring Rihanna’s wailing voice boomed over the sound system. The “Umbrella” star then appeared under the spotlight decked out in a dominatrix-like black outfit. “We are, yeah I said it, We are, This is Roc Nation, pledge your allegiance,” Jay-Z rapped.
For more of the concert review from RollingStone.com, click HERE.
Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 Debuts At #1 In Canada - Canadian Tour Announced
Source: Warner Music
Roc Nation recording artist Jay-Z has debuted in the #1 position in Canada on both the physical and digital sales charts with his latest album The Blueprint 3. A great feat considering the album was only eligible for three days on the weekly sales chart. This marks the first time in Jay-Z’s 11 album career that he tops the charts in Canada . In the U.S. , all 11 albums have debuted at #1 and Jay-Z is now only behind the Beatles, having surpassed Elvis Presley, for the most #1 albums in history.
Released on Friday, September 11, The Blueprint 3 is the final instalment in the Blueprint series which began in 2001. Production credits include Timbaland and Kanye West among others, as well as various superstar guests including Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Pharrell and Drake. The first single, “Run This Town,” is currently a Top 10 hit at Canadian radio and the video is in heavy rotation at MuchMusic.
To celebrate the release of The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z has announced an eight city Canadian tour beginning in Edmonton on October 13 and ending in Ottawa on November 1. For a full listing, please see below.
Jay-Z’s reputation speaks for itself. He has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, has won seven Grammy Awards, has 18 Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hip Hop/R&B chart and more US #1 album debuts than any other artist in history. He is also the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear clothing and co-owns the NJ Nets and 40/40 Sports Clubs.
CANADIAN TOUR – 2009
October 13 Edmonton Rexall Place
October 14 CalgaryPengrowth Saddledome
October 15 Kelowna Prospera Place
October 16 Vancouver General Motors Place
October 29 LondonJohn Labatt Centre
October 30 Montreal Bell Centre
October 31 TorontoAir Canada Centre
November 1 Ottawa Scotiabank Place
Marie's 2nd Single From Congo Square
Source: Jasmine Vega, firstname.lastname@example.org; Joel Amsterdam, Stax Records, email@example.com; Michael Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org
(September 15, 2009) *Los Angeles -- While legendary R&B trailblazer Teena Marie continues to ascend the Urban AC chart with "Can't Last a Day" - her sultry first single from Congo Square - she has already selected the sunny, up-tempo "You Baby" to be the follow-up.
This sexy, tongue-twisting, roller skaters' dream is the perfect song to wind down the summer as "Lady Tee" continues to celebrate her perfect marriage to iconic Rhythm and Blues label, Stax Records.
As with most of her material, Teena self-penned and produced the number, this time inspired by the cross generational influence of Chicago soul trio The Emotions (one-time ladies of Stax in their own right) and Chicago Hip Hop star Kanye West.
Adding further spice to the single, Teena has created remixes that will be available on the commercial release. Stax is going for adds on "You Baby" September 28.
The love song surpasses mere romance. Teena states, "In the lyrics, I send a wish of faith, hope, love and charity to my extended family, telling them first thing every morning, 'I Say a Little Prayer'...like Aretha Franklin."
True to form, Teena melds the essence of classic soul with the coolest of contemporary production.
All Music Guide raves, "What is most remarkable about Congo Square is how Marie continues to fly around in her own orbit, indulging her ambitious whims, while sounding every bit contemporary."
Teena's upcoming performances include: Alpine (California), Kansas City, Houston, New York, Baltimore, Jazzfest, and Detroit.
Whitney Says Bobby Once Spat On Her
(September 15, 2009) *In part one of Whitney Houston's two-episode interview with Oprah Winfrey, the songbird got candid about her past drug abuse, as well as her "emotionally abusive" relationship with ex-husband Bobby Brown, who she said spat on her during one dispute.
Houston said she was first attracted to Brown because he took control of their relationship and had "a sweet, gentle tenderness."
"At home, he was very much the father, he was very much the man," Houston said. "He was very much in control. I liked that. When he said something, I listened. I was very interested in having someone have that kind of control over me. It was refreshing."
Houston said Brown grew increasingly uncomfortable with his background role as her fame continued to soar. She described one episode after a birthday party for Brown that left her "horrified. He spit on me, in my face." She said their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, witnessed the incident, which left Houston "very hurt, very angry."
The 46-year-old singer said her drug use became "heavy" after her 1992 movie "The Bodyguard." She described to Winfrey how she would take marijuana combined with rock cocaine.
"You put your marijuana, you lace it, you roll it up and you smoke it," Houston said.
When asked if she ever grasped the thought that her voice was a "national treasure" deserving of respect and proper attention, Houston said: "I had so much money and so much access to what I wanted. I didn't think about the singing part anymore. I was looking for my young womanhood."
Houston said her addiction extended deeper than just the cocaine and marijuana. "He was my drug," Houston told Winfrey of Brown. "I didn't do anything without him. I wasn't getting high by myself. It was me and him together. We were partners."
Houston said she stuck with Brown because she took her marriage vows seriously. She said she told her daughter Bobbi Kristina about her drug use and took the child with her to an Atlanta drug rehab for mothers and children.
When the Atlanta facility didn't work, her mother Cissy Houston stepped in – literally – arriving at her house with the police and an ultimatum – either get help or go to jail.
All-4-One: ‘No Regrets’ Part
1: Soulful Group’s New Disc Out Now. (Video)
Source: www.eurweb.com -
(September 16, 2009) *The pop-soul group All-4-One made a swear into a promise in 1995. That’s when the quartet’s hit single “I Swear,” from their self-titled debut album, brought them a Grammy Award.
The guys followed up "I Swear" with another Top 10 hit, “I Can Love You Like That,” and since, have been known mostly from the international popularity of these two singles. They've also continued a successful touring career.
After their debut disc, the group found themselves wrapped up in the all-too-common record company limbo status that artists face. After three follow-up albums on two different labels, an Asia-only disc in 2004, and a solo project, group members Tony Borowiak, Jamie Jones, Delious Kennedy, and Alfred Nevarez have settled into a new home and yesterday released their sixth album, “No Regrets.”
Although US radio hasn’t heard much from the group for quite a few years, they denied that there was ever a band breakup. In fact, they explained that they’ve spent most of these years touring together abroad.
“That’s actually a misconception,” Borowiak said of the supposed band breakup. “We haven’t done a lot here in the United States, but we’ve been gone overseas doing dates over there and recording here and there. We never broke up.”
“All-4-One would still get together here and there and do ‘spot’ dates. We would go overseas for a few shows and then come back home. It’s always been good for us, especially going overseas. We’ve always been together. We’ve never broken up,” lead singer Jones clarified. “Even when I did the gospel record, it was more so taking a break. They were on the album with me for a few songs, and that was to let people know that we’re still together and we’ll always be together for as long as God allows us.”
Jones continued that the all of group members had been pursuing a singing career before they joined forces for their 1994 debut, and since then they’ve had a collective plan to have staying power in the music industry.
“The one thing that we all kind of realized was we had been trying to do it for so long apart that once we got together it really worked,” Jones said. “And one of the things that we said from day one was, God willing, let’s be like the Temptations, let’s try to be like the Four Tops where we’re together for a very long time. If in between we want to try something a little different or do something a little different, let’s support each other, let’s do it, but let’s always get back. Let’s try to stay together for as long as we’re able to sing. We all agreed to that and that’s what we’ve been trying to do for the last 16 years.”
“Also, it’s important for a group to know when it’s time to take a break as musical directions shift and when it’s time to return,” Kennedy said. “Music is a big circle. What’s in now, may not be in five or six years from now, but it may be back five or six years after that. So by us going overseas and continuing to work over there, we’re still together and we’re still working. Now it seems like a perfect time.”
The timing was apparently perfect, after all. Jones told EUR’s Lee Bailey that the new record deal and project came out of work he and his production company did with Wayne Brady’s disc.
“I have a production company called The Heavyweight, and we were blessed to do Wayne Brady’s CD. We were able to take Wayne’s CD over to Peak [Records] and it was through that relationship that I got the chance to meet all the people over at Peak. I liked them and they liked us. So after Wayne’s record was finished, we started talking. I told the fellows about Peak, and we ended up taking a meeting with them and it looked like it was something everybody was interested in.”
The group agreed on moving to the label mostly in part due to the fact that Peak Records would let them lead the project.
“They understood what we wanted to do. We wanted to just close up in the studio with just us. They trusted us to do that and that’s one of the main reasons why we were so excited to do the CD with them,” Jones said. “It was all a natural succession after meeting and working with each other and knowing we could all work together well.”
The group and the project, however, were stalled just a little while longer. Though they began work on the disc almost a year ago and put the finishing touches on in January, the project was pushed back from its May release date – but this time, it was not because of label issues or conflicts regarding musical direction. This time, it was to make room for a good cause.
Look for EUR’s part 2 on All-4-One and find out about the group’s new project and the life-saving organization they’ve partnered with. In the meantime, check the group’s website at www.all-4-one.com for the latest on “No Regrets,” in stores now.
Jamming Over Pearl's Latest Tracks
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler
(September 16, 2009) ‘I think we've been discovered,” says Eddie Vedder, waving back to a pair of fans who watch him through the ceiling-length windows of his corner dressing room, set a couple of stories above the water at Toronto's lakeside Molson Amphitheatre. “They might have seen me earlier, when I changed my clothes.”
The warrior-singer hadn't considered the glass walls earlier, when he stripped without closing the bathroom door. He laughs at the thought of it, but, really, what's funny is the notion of Vedder offering himself up to the world. He's always been a generous performer onstage and he's plenty outspoken, but he's been guarded otherwise, particularly early on, after the whirlwind success of Pearl Jam's smash 1991 debut, Ten . The band stopped making videos, battled Ticketmaster on pricing. They made music, but didn't play the game.
Now, though, a couple of hours before Pearl Jam's concert here in August, Vedder was more than willing to talk about the band's ninth studio album, the Brendan O'Brian-produced Backspacer , out Sunday. “This one seemed to sequence itself,” says Vedder, stroking his beard. “The songs kind of wrote themselves, too, in a weird way. As much work as we put into it, it was quick and it was also very effortless.”
Sitting on a couch with all his road companions – pack of American Spirit cigarettes, song-catalogue binder, travel-size acoustic guitar, retro suitcase – within arm's length, Vedder gives a track-by-track lowdown of a lean rock record that clocks in at just 36 minutes. “None of these songs became homework,” he explains. “The ones that did, they didn't make the record.”
And if the material came quickly, there's nothing fleeting about the album, says the man who writes the lyrics and the set lists. “I think it's going to be a batch of songs we're going to like playing for quite a long time.” Herewith, Vedder gives the back story on songs you'll be hearing for a while.
Gonna See My Friend
A tough, high-energy rocker that likes to be heard loud.
“All I remember is writing it in a little room on a small table with a little four-track tape machine. I got it sounding loud real quick, without disturbing the neighbours. I work using headphones a lot. I'm not going to have any hearing left. We all make sacrifices at our jobs, and my hearing is obviously going to be the first thing to go.”
One of the songs influenced by eighties new-wave pop.
“I'm talking about music to put on when you don't know how you're going to get to work, when you're just not feeling it. It rains in Seattle 220 days a year on average – there's a lot of mornings it's hard to get going. This song will do it.”
The lean riff-rocked first single.
“Men, we all think we can fix anything. It's not necessarily a good thing. In a relationship, a woman will say ‘This is wrong,' and we're like, ‘I'll fix that, don't worry about it, we can fix it.' These wonderful people, the woman you're in a relationship with, they don't want you to fix it. They just want you to listen to what's happening: ‘Don't fix it, I want you to own this with me – feel it.' This is a reminder song to me, to stop fixing.”
An angular Elvis Costello-like number motivated by an album-cover photo from a record by pimp-blues guitarist Johnny (Guitar) Watson that was pasted over a men's room urinal. “It's actually not the first time we've got our inspiration from something on a bathroom wall. It's a made-up story about a kid falling in love with a girl on a record cover. I imagine that must have happened a few times.”
Triggered by a song from Vedder's Into the Wild soundtrack, with added strings and French horns.
“There's never a dull moment on the road – every day it's something. Maybe that's why my goal is the dull moment. That's what this song is: It's saying, ‘Just stop, and be together. Don't talk now, just breathe and feel each other's presence – now that the kids are in bed.'
Amongst the Waves
About ebbs and flows – of a couple's relationships or even those of a long-running rock band. “On the strength of this album, we feel good about where the band is at. Our relationship is long-standing, but it's turned into a forthcoming relationship. We're open and honest. Things go pretty easy – we feel like a gang. We feel like a galvanized group of individuals. As far as waves, I think we're up there.”
Culled from a book, a talk with an actress, and one late night.
“It's about a conversation with Catherine Keener, and a book – I think it might have even been called Unthought Known . I got back late to my hotel in New York, and I pushed it that extra hour. I pushed the limits of how much you can drink and smoke, and this song came out of it. I think the thought of the song is that there are things that you know, and they're in us, but we just haven't thought of them. But they're there, and we base decisions on them.”
A towering track written two years ago by guitarist Stone Gossard, with Vedder adding lyrics about living life with the volume on full, and the need for loud music.
“There's something about this infusion of energy. It's a tangible thing that gives you as much energy as a drug. It can change the shape of your mood. I think [rock music] is the greatest art form there is, because there's so many elements to it, volume being one of them. But momentum, and rhythm, and the literary side of a good lyric, it can really transport you.”
Speed of Sound
A brooding, down-tempo track with complex chord changes that stemmed from a songwriting session with a Rolling Stones guitarist.
“I was working with Ronnie Wood on a record he's putting together. He asked me if I could contribute some words, which really excited me because I love his voice. This particular song was a little difficult to transcribe though, so it ended up in [Pearl Jam's] court. I played it to Brendan at four in the afternoon, and by the next afternoon it was complete.”
Force of Nature
A classic grungy Pearl Jam vibe, originally titled Distant Planet .
“It's about the strength of one person in the relationship, when they can withstand some of the faults in another – maybe drug addiction, or straying off the path. The person in the song is the lighthouse for the other person caught in the storm.”
A Springsteen-like ballad with strings, about an unknown future.
“I got a phone call from a friend, from Spain. I couldn't pick up the phone because I was recording the guitar part. I had written half the song's lyrics. When I checked his message, he had said something that enabled me to write the second verse, and in 20 minutes, it was done. That's how it happened on this record. It was writing the quick ones – there was no room for the other stuff. We'll see how long approaching it like this goes. But it's the right way for us to do it right now.”
U2's Concerted Effort Noticed
Source: www.thestar.com - Hillel Italie, Associated Press
(September 16, 2009) Local U2 fans had cause enough to be excited this week, as the rock supergroup prepared for its two shows at the Rogers Centre. But now, as they count down the hours to the first show tonight, superfans must be bursting with excitement as more news about the band's activities comes to light.
The band filmed an unusual episode of CTV's musical program Spectacle: Elvis Costello With ... last night at Toronto's Masonic Temple. The event was separate from the rest of the season's episodes, which have yet to begin filming; last season's episodes (featuring Costello in conversation and musical collaboration with gifted guests like Lou Reed) were shot in Harlem's famed Apollo Theater. Though the identity of Costello's guests was not disclosed in a CTV news release yesterday, fans put two and two together, and lead singer Bono was greeted by paparazzi and autograph seekers as he arrived for rehearsal yesterday.
Positive reports are coming out from the start of the band's 360 Tour, which is taking them through North America. Getting rave reviews, as in European dates, is The Claw, the 50-metre-tall, crustacean-like stage designed, Bono told a crowd in Chicago last week, with ramps and bridges "to bring us closer to you." Billboard reported the band livened up some familiar material by working in snippets of songs by the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Ben E. King and Elvis Costello.
It's been revealed that the 25th anniversary of The Unforgettable Fire, U2's classic 1984 album that made the quartet superstars in North America, will be celebrated with four different reissue editions. The four options will offer B-sides, rarities, alternate versions and previously unreleased songs, including "Disappearing Act" (a.k.a. "White City"), a song originally started in 1983 with producers Brian Eno and Canada's Daniel Lanois. The band finally finished "Disappearing Act" recently in France, according to an interview with the BBC.
The four versions will include a remastered CD, a vinyl album, a deluxe double-CD version with a 36-page book, and a limited edition box set including the two-CD version, a 56-page book, five portfolio prints and a DVD that will feature rare videos, concert footage and a making-of documentary.
A few of the best tickets ($252) for tonight's show, with opening act Snow Patrol, were still available last night via Ticketmaster.
Star wire services, Star staff
Natalie Cole Performs First Post-Surgery Gig
(September 11, 2009) *Natalie Cole has performed in concert for the first time since undergoing a successful kidney transplant in May. According to the Associated Press, the 59-year-old songstress took the stage Wednesday night and wowed an enthusiastic crowd at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The audience gave her a standing ovation as she took the spotlight wearing a purple jewel-studded gown by designer Lloyd Klein. Cole belted songs from her latest album, "Still Unforgettable," as well as hits from her Grammy-winning career.
Janet's Harpers Bazaar Quotes Revealed
(September 10, 2009) *Janet Jackson admits she hasn't watched television or read a newspaper in the two months since her brother Michael's sudden death on June 25. In a new interview with Harpers Bazaar, her first since Michael's passing, the singer/actress opens up about her relationship with Michael and their last day together, and how she's coped by immersing herself in a new album and book. Janet remembers being 14-years-old and tasked with the job of taking care of her superstar brother. "I would shop for him. I washed his clothes and cleaned his room," she said. "When mother would go out of town, she'd say, 'I'm leaving you in charge. Take care of Michael.'" She learned early on that her brother was drawn to clothes that made a grand statement. For the 25th Anniversary of Motown special, Michael grabbed his famous sparkly black jacket from his mother's closet. "If it was shiny, if it had any kind of bling, he loved it," Janet said. But his shoes were another story. "He would wear his shoes all the way down," remembered Janet. "His penny loafers would have huge holes in the bottom." As for their 1995 music video "Scream," Janet recalls, "We had so much fun back then. We would organize our days together." She also fondly remembers the last time she saw Michael -- a month before his death. "The last time we were together, he'd laugh so hard, he'd just start crying." Janet is currently writing a book that chronicles her periodic binge eating – a habit she says has returned amid the stress of Michael's death. "I can be an emotional eater," she says. "Of late, I have been doing that, yes. It started when I was very little. My brothers were gone on tour a lot, and I would miss them so much."
Snoop Now An Exec At Priority Records
(September 10, 2009) *Snoop Dogg has been hired by EMI to serve as creative chairman of the company's Priority Records – a move designed to raise the profile of one of rap music's venerable label brands, according to Variety. The company once had on its roster such pioneering Cali acts as NWA, Eazy-E, Ice Cube and Westside Connection. Snoop's job will be to executive produce a series of Priority releases geared to the label's 25th anniversary in 2010. Returning to the label that issued his work early in the decade, Snoop will also release his latest album "Malice 'N Wonderland" on Priority in December. Produced by Dr. Dre, Pharrell, the Dream and others, the collection will feature appearances by rap and R&B heavies R. Kelly, Soulja Boy and Jazmine Sullivan. Dogg's manager, Ted Chung of Stampede Management, will also join Priority as brand strategist. Bill Gagnon, senior VP and GM of EMI Music North America's catalogue division, called Snoop Dogg the ideal choice to "take this pioneering label into the future."
Kamaal the Abstract: Q-Tip
Source: www.thestar.om - Ashante Infantry
(out of 4)
(September 15, 2009) It only took seven years for Q-Tip to get out his second solo album, which was halted on the verge of release due to label shenanigans. It's making its appearance now, however, in the wake of the former Tribe Called Quest member's third album, The Renaissance, which won raves last year. Easy to see why this one may not have appealed to bean counters at first: with deep organ and guitar-fuelled grooves and lengthy, improvised solos by jazzers like saxist Kenny Garrett and guitarist Kurt Rosewinkel, it leans to the funk-jazz end of Q-Tip's brand of hip-hop fusion; and the 39-year-old New Yorker does more singing/chanting than rapping. Note the Prince and D'Angelo overtones, in the vein of Roy Hargrove's funk projects. Top Track: "Do You Dig U?" is a seven-minute opus with a meandering flute centre.
Roll Out The Carpet: The Fest Is Open
Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard, Movies Editor
(September 11, 2009) Amid political controversy and concern for the health of one of its home-grown stars, the 34th Toronto International Film Festival opened last night with a glittering walk down the red carpet for the gala world premiere of Creation.
Earlier in the day, actors, writers and activists engaged in a war of words over TIFF's inaugural City to City program, which showcases films about or made in Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, there was an outpouring of concern and good wishes for Lisa Ray, 37, star of Dilip Mehta's Cooking With Stella, which has its TIFF gala premiere Wednesday.
Ray announced in her blog this week that she had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an "incurable cancer."
The feisty actress has vowed to beat it. "I'm aiming for full remission," she wrote.
Outside Roy Thomson Hall last evening, a few hundred fans, amateur photographers and autograph hounds hoped to catch a glimpse of the celebrities before the gala. They weren't disappointed as Creation stars, husband wife duo, Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, arrived early, signing autographs and posing for pictures before they walked along the red carpet for press photographers and camera crews.
Connelly wore a beautiful deep garnet dress, while Bettany had his hair shorn, reminiscent of his look in the Da Vinci Code.
Asked if he was a Bettany fan, Cormac Burns, 36, who turned up see what the commotion was about, quipped: "Well, I am a fan of his wife. But I am surprised that I could get this close to the action."
He was impressed that Mayor David Miller was seen in the crowd, chatting with other celebrity watchers.
Sean Connors, 34, was playing photographer and at first said he had snapped a photo of Jennifer Garner, until someone in the crowd reminded him that he had the leading lady's name wrong.
"I usually try to take a few days off and catch some films, but it does seem like the festival is getting more expensive and commercial," he said, adding that he tickets to see Bunny & the Bull and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
As part of the opening night celebrations, TIFF fans were offered a chance to watch a live satellite feed in Yonge-Dundas Square from the RTH red carpet.
The event was hosted by Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, making her first major public appearance since undergoing emergency surgery for a torn aorta in June.
Later in the evening, Brueggergosman performed with DJ Champion, dressed in a floor-length, silver sequined dress with black corset top.
The live Yonge-Dundas Square broadcast was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., but the feed was delayed and didn't start until 8:30 p.m.
Early arrivals in the square were treated to a warm-up session with Brueggergosman – who looked fit and vibrant – along with DJ Champion and the band.
Miriam John arrived at 6 p.m., setting up a lawn chair near the front of the stage. "I came early because I was not sure how big the crowd would be," said the 35-year-old Toronto teacher, one of a couple of hundred people who braved the windy, chilly night.
John is a big fan of Brueggergosman. "It was great, amazing. And I hope she is feeling better," she said.
The concert was one of more than 30 free events being held at Yonge-Dundas Square throughout the festival.
But with all the extras, TIFF remains solidly about the movies, with 335 films to see – up from last year's 312 – and 242 features that are world, international, or North American premieres. Among rival film festivals, many think TIFF has eclipsed Cannes.
More than 500 stars and moviemakers are in town for the 10-day fest, with George Clooney, Mariah Carey, Drew Barrymore, Colin Farrell, Demi Moore, Michael Douglas, Clive Owen, the Coen Brothers and Michael Caine among them.
Files from Emily Mathieu, Raju Mudhar
Toronto the ... Sexy?
Source: www.thestar.om - Peter Howell, Movie Critic
(September 15, 2009) There's more than one romantic obsession in Chloe, Atom Egoyan's new drama that is making waves at TIFF.
The filmmaker's love for hometown Toronto is evident in every shimmering frame, making Hogtown look more like the Emerald City of Oz.
If people don't swoon from the film's heady mix of eroticism, infidelity and jealousy, as seen in the intrigues of stars Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried, then they may just be floored by the sight of mundane locales suddenly made sensuous.
Who'd have guessed the funky Café Diplomatico on College St. could seem a hotbed of sexual heat?
Egoyan makes Toronto so sexy, it's almost unrecognizable. He was chuckling yesterday about how many people came up to him after Sunday's world premiere, asking him about the location of a mysterious archway seen repeatedly in Chloe. They couldn't locate it, even though it's hiding in plain sight on Avenue Rd. just north of Bloor St.
"I'm shocked at all of the people who go, `Where's that arch? There's no arch like that!'" Egoyan says.
"It's the lights, you know, the lights and the camera angles. You pass it every day and don't notice it, but you put a long lens at the end of the street, you light it up, and it suddenly becomes substantial."
Egoyan is always nervous about the launch of a new film, but Sunday's was the first time he's premiered a film at TIFF since he debuted with Next of Kin in 1984, and he was worried what the hometown audience might think.
Chloe is adapted from Nathalie, a French film that played TIFF a few years back. The idea for the adaptation came from fellow Canuck Ivan Reitman, who originally planned to direct it himself. Instead he chose Egoyan, whose work Reitman has admired since Exotica in 1994.
Egoyan shared his thoughts the morning after:
Q. Why so nervous about your premiere of Chloe?
A. Every other film since Next of Kin was shown elsewhere then brought back here, and usually I have a sense of how people are going to react to it.
But this was the first time with an audience for Chloe, so it was really nerve-wracking, more than I'd experienced at the Toronto Film Festival before. But it was great just to show it fresh, especially since this particular movie is so much about Toronto. When I got the script, it was originally supposed to be based in San Francisco.
Q. You make Toronto look like an exotic place of mystery.
A. Well, it's also that I did it when it's cold (he shot here last winter). You go into warm places, so that gives it a kind of romantic feel as well. One of the real pleasures of filmmaking is that you can be really specific and say to people, "Look, just turn your head like that or in this type of light, and you'll see."
Q. Your previous movie Adoration also had a strong sense of Toronto. Are you having a love affair with Toronto?
A. I always have. My first feature Next of Kin was shot in Kensington Market. It was totally Toronto. I think Exotica's Toronto, The Adjuster's Toronto. Ararat's Toronto. These are different areas of Toronto and different sorts of feelings of Toronto. ... But these last two are taking a broader view of the city and are trying to imbue it with a sense of romance. I mean Adoration is sort of a desolate and kind of grungier sort of feeling of the city. And this one is certainly more glamorous.
Q. Were you trying to redeem Toronto in people's eyes? So often the city is dismissed by Hollywood as just a substitute for New York or Chicago.
A. Well, this one, I was trying to make it romantic. If you read the first draft of the screenplay, and the way they're talking about San Francisco, I mean you know exactly what they were looking for. So I couldn't have taken the approach that I took in Adoration ...
But one of the huge advantages of shooting in the winter is that locations that wouldn't have been available to us suddenly were, like Yorkville. ... It's just specific streets and specific angles. I think that's what's always kind of shocking about some cities: they are really about intersections.
Q. You and your cinematographer Paul Sarossy even make the streetcars seem glamorous.
A. Sounds are also really important. Every scene in this film is shot on, with the exception of Yorkville, on a streetcar line. So you have College St., you have Dundas, you have Queen, and the passing of the streetcars is a really sexy sound.
TIFF : The Party Report
Source: www.thestar.com - Rob & Rita, Cruel But Fair
(September 16, 2009) Day 6 of the fest. Our eyes are double-bagged. Note to selves: Top up our standing order of Polyfilla.
Wea culpa. We apparently weren't fair to Vanity Fair. Seems the Canadian press was indeed welcome at their party on Monday night. Just not us. Maybe we're behind in our subscription payment.
We don't take it personally. Hey, even Galen Weston Jr. was stopped on his way to the VIP area of his own Holts party Saturday.
Party life's a beach
The Nikki Beach Lounge atop the Park Hyatt has become a mosh-pit, only with better-dressed moshers.
On Monday night, while Rita watched one over-served young guest throwing up in the ladies room, Rob shared an elevator with a team of paramedics heading up to the 18th floor to attend to another.
Who are these people anyway? Do they have anything remotely to do with the festival?
At midnight, the Park Hyatt Rooftop bar is annexed by the adjacent Nikki Beach. Our server apologetically collected our menus, asked us to settle the tab toute de suite and, like a Mighty Morphin' Power Waiter, switched from brown vest and white shirt to embrace the dark side in trendier black on black.
Note to Francis, apparently from Montreal: your server at Nikki Beach would appreciate you coming back to cover your humongous Monday-night drink tab.
That said, the venue does have a celeb cachet, attracting Drew Barrymore, Kiefer Sutherland, Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Jason Reitman, Mena Suvari, Rachelle Lefevre and Michael Cera.
Nikki Beach also hands out gift bags with the latest fragrances from Coty, ckfree and Marc Jacobs Lola. Among eligible giftees: Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, Adam Brody, Diablo Cody, Jeff Bridges, Aidan Quinn, Atom Egoyan, Michael Douglas, Juliette Lewis, Marcia Gay Harden, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Keri Russell and Sarah Polley.
Rita caught Bill Nighy rifling through his goodie bag on the elevator, checking out the scent of the cologne.
Hey, if you had a face full of raw calamari, like Nighy did in Pirates of the Caribbean, you'd want to smell good, too.
They were stylin' at the party for A Single Man at the Gardiner Museum Monday night. The Veuve flowed, dispensed by men in black who looked like Gucci models. Their hair was so shellacked, it would have weathered a tsunami.
"I can't wait to see what it looks like in the morning," said one of the servers, whose unruly curly hair was glued into submission.
A swellegant Kristin Scott Thomas was exiting as we arrived. The film's director, Tom Ford, legendary for his open shirt/exposed, manicured chest hair look, actually wore a tie for the occasion, his arm around Patricia Clarkson.
Ford's leading lady, Julianne Moore, was Old Hollywood glam in white gown with a camellia blossom in her hair, leaning against the bar with a gentleman's arm encircling her waist.
A phalanx of women headed to the patio, jockeying for position to be in close proximity to Colin Firth, who was totally oblivious to the estrogen surge.
What to wear to introduce a Tom Ford film? Noah Cowan, Bell Lightbox artistic director, solved his dilemma with a spiffy pin-striped Hugo Boss suit – a hand-me-down from TIFF CEO Piers Handling.
Not only was the food incredible, the pass-around napkins were black cloth. If you ate enough snackies, you could have a place setting for your next dinner party.
There were great Danes at Bistro 990 on Monday: Viggo Mortensen (The Road) met fellow countrymen Mads Mikkelsen (Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinksy) and Paprika Steen (Applause). Separated-at-birth Mortensen and Mikkelsen were supposed to work together, but it never happened.
Norman Jewison, Dana Delany and Peter Gallagher have chowed down at Morton's meaterie this week.
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) and Tom Everett Scott (Tanner Hall) kicked back at The Drake Hotel over the weekend.
Her Galactica shipmate, Aaron Douglas (The Bridge), hit the Playback party at ET Canada Lounge on Yorkville, along with Mortensen, Nighy, Christopher Plummer, Denys Arcand, David Cronenberg, Julie Christie and last celeb standing Geoffrey Rush.
Colin Farrell dined at The Spoke Club, while Robert De Niro was hanging out at the patio of the Hotel Le Germain, a hot spot this festival.
Jennifer Garner was a knockout in a green Oscar de la Renta dress at the Invention of Lying party at Amber, hosted by BlackBerry, stealing the scene from co-stars Ricky Gervais and last-to-leave Rob Lowe.
The trio dined at Sotto Sotto on Sunday, as did Jimmy Smits and childless Elton John hubby David Furnish.
Peter Gallagher and Kelly Carlson Sotto'd the previous night, though not together. Relax, Tie.
Garner, Kyle MacLachlan, Ivana Santilli, alt rockers Marcy Playground, comic Russell Peters and the crew from So You Think You Can Dance Canada sampled the IT gifting lounge on Monday. Garner picked up some cute things for her two daughters from Please Mum.
Actors Colin Firth, Oscar Isaac (Agora), Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), and directors Brigitte Berman (Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel) and Matthew Robinson (The Invention of Lying) were some of the gifted boldface visiting Tastemakers.
Chris Rock on Good Hair
Source: www.globeandmail.om - Brad Wheeler
(September 15, 2009) Black women are down on their natural do's - and Chris Rock doesn't seem too concerned about it. "I'm a guy," the comedian and first-time documentary maker says during an interview for Good Hair, a lively film about black women and their disdain for 'da kinks. "It's like abortion. It's not up to me, what I think of black women's hair."
"But you've made a big HBO-financed film about hair," I say to him. You've got nothing to say about the issues of black culture and body image? "I've made a film about it, because I'm affected by it and I'm interested about it," he explains good-naturedly enough. "But there's no conclusion," he continues. "It's hair - deal with it."
Black women deal with it in a big, multimillion-dollar way, his film shows. A variety of talking heads - mostly female actresses, but also poet Maya Angelou and a frank Ice-T - discuss the great lengths women will go to achieve great lengths. Black ladies use weaves and wigs, and spend tons of money for the kind of hair many white women toss around like it was nothing. They (and men as well) use "relaxers" that literally burn any curl straight.
"Let me put it this way," Rock explains, speaking about the assimilation of non-white cultures. "All of my friends' wives have had nose jobs. It's just part of our culture. I don't judge it."
If he doesn't attempt to judge it, Time Magazine's choice as the funniest man in America does a hilariously informative job exposing the hidden, head-scratching world of black women's hair. The roots of Good Hair (which after playing at the Toronto International Film Festival opens Oct. 16 in commercial theatres) came about 15 years ago when Rock visited the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, a sort of hairibana for industry professionals that takes place annually in Atlanta. It's a big deal, and the convention's competition involving elaborate spectacles of hairstyling prowess is the marquee event and the film's centrepiece.
Rock visits the show, as well as barber shops - he even heads to India where much of the world's hair supply is harvested and kept under lock and key until exported to North America. "Everybody in India cuts their hair off, and it gets sold," Rock says, shaking his head. "Are you kidding me?"
For years, Rock attempted to get Spike Lee or Dave Chappelle to make the film he had in mind. Recently, after his own daughter asked him, "Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?" the comedian got HBO to put up the money for the film he narrates.
Asked about his own freshly cropped head of hair, Rock divulges that he shaved it all off recently. "It was completely bald. It looked good."
You don't say.
Good Hair screens today at 2:30 p.m. at AMC 6 and Saturday, 9:30 a.m., at Scotiabank Theatre 3.
Barrymore Talks About Directing And Now Famous Kiss
Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard, Movies Editor
(September 13, 2009) It's the most talked-about girlie kiss since Madonna smooched Britney at the 2003 Video Music Awards, but Drew Barrymore is puzzled by the fuss over her buss with actress Ellen Page in the current issue of Marie Claire magazine.
"I'm getting a kick out of all the people getting stirred up about it," Barrymore said with a wry smile, her voice husky from a seemingly non-stop round of interviews to promote her directorial debut with the roller derby dramedy, Whip It.
The movie has its world premiere at TIFF tonight.
Barrymore, 34, whose career began at age 3, comes from a family of famous actors (grandparents John Barrymore and Dolores Costello) and is goddaughter to Steven Spielberg. Her breakout role was in the 1982 hit E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.
Casually dressed in ripped, faded jeans and a purple plaid shirt over a striped T, she was sporting a new hairstyle, the tips of her blond hair dyed inky black. "I did it in my bathroom in New York over the weekend," she said yesterday.
Barrymore, who had a reputation in her younger days as a wild child, says the kiss between her and Page, the Canadian star of Juno, who plays a Texas teen turning her back on beauty pageants for the rough-and-tumble world of the roller derby, was an honest expression of true besties.
"I feel like that (the Madonna kiss) was a purposefully thought-out moment of sensationalism, albeit lovely and entertaining," said Barrymore with a smile. "But Ellen and I are as just silly, fun girls that love each other and people can make out of it what they will. There's nothing there but fun girlie friendship and affection."
Barrymore said she truly bonded with Page, 22, during the months of training for the movie and shooting the saga of average women who become stars of the derby world.
Decked out in ripped fishnets and edgy, skin-baring, campy outfits, they adopt names like Babe Ruthless (Page), Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell), Rosa Sparks (Eve), Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) and Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis). Barrymore cast herself as Smashley Simpson, a freewheeling stoner who brings the party, on and off the track.
"I wanted to put myself in there so I could train with the girls and have empathy and know what they were going through and not be a dictator from the sidelines," says Barrymore.
She said the only parts she'd played that made similar physical demands were the Charlie's Angels flicks. And that experience served her well when it came time for Whip It.
"That's where I learned the invaluable nature of the training camps," says Barrymore. "I wanted Juliette Lewis and Kristen Wigg and Ellen to skate their asses off. I didn't want it to be all doubles and trickery and fake. The experience these people have is because of training and chemistry – they have been through pain and blood and sweat and tears and triumph and cheering each other on."
Barrymore wanted the actors to take risks – they all did. "It was like, `All right everybody, we've learned this shit, let's get out there and show it off.'
"I did not hold back at all. I was like I'm sorry, insurance people, these women fought hard to get where they are."
In fact, there were some injuries, "but nothing major," she said.
And the payoff was a film she's very proud of, a message for young women to "find your tribe" and be true to yourself, and a new friendship with Page.
"Sometimes I just hold her little face and just well up with tears and I'm like I can't believe you're the angel that is here for me for the first movie I got to direct and her character in the movie is so much a lot of me and a lot of her. She's my little hero."
A Family's Tale, Told In Fragments
Source: www.thestar.com - John Goddard, Staff Reporter
(September 11, 2009) After rescuing the book, she was afraid to open it.
Souvankham Thammavongsa was helping her father clean his Toronto printing shop when she noticed him discard a scrapbook he had always kept safe with other documents.
When he wasn't looking, she plucked it from his wastebasket.
"I knew if I read it, I would discover my dad as a man of 25 and I wasn't sure," Thammavongsa said. "I still wanted him to be my dad."
The red scrapbook co-stars with its liberator in Found, the five-minute debut film by Toronto director Paramita Nath, showing next week at the Toronto International Film Festival.
With exquisite tenderness, the movie evokes the book's powerful story.
In 1978, Thammavongsa's parents built a bamboo raft to flee communist Laos across the Mekong River into Thailand. Her mother was pregnant and gave birth prematurely in Nong Khai refugee camp, cutting the umbilical cord with her teeth.
"My body was the size of a pop can," Thammavongsa says. "They were afraid to touch me."
Unless the parents paid $2.50 to use an incubator, a doctor said, the baby would die. The parents didn't have the money.
Instead, the father wrapped the infant in his shirt and laid her on a hammock. When the parents later checked, they saw a wet spot and knew the baby would survive.
In 1980, the family arrived in Toronto. A boy was born and the father started a printing business.
One day, when Thammavongsa was in Grade 6, her teacher asked everyone to assemble an autobiography on a sheet of cardboard. Early photos, keepsakes and a birth certificate were to be arranged around a short narrative.
"My cardboard was blank except for what I wrote," Thammavongsa says. "I had no photos of myself as a kid. I had no birth certificate."
But in 1997, at 19, she salvaged the scrapbook.
The book turned out to be much like the Grade 6 assignment. A map plotting a route, Biblical quotations, a U.S. postage stamp – each artefact adding to a diary the father kept in Laotian.
One page of measurements included a thermometer marked with the freezing and boiling points of water and, in between, the human body temperature of 36.9 degrees Celsius.
"I thought about it as a metaphor," Thammavongsa says. "Here was a diagram that didn't talk about money, or talent, or physical beauty. It talked about living between two points."
Another page showed a calendar with a circle drawn around a specific number – Thammavongsa's birthdate. "It was proof on paper that I was born," she says.
In 2003, Thammavongsa published her first book of poetry, Small Arguments, with Pedlar Press, and the following year read from it at Harbourfront Centre, among established writers such as Michael Ondaatje and Dionne Brand.
"Her voice is tiny, but it also carries with it an inner strength," Nath says. "It's like when you hear something in the distance and you want to reach out and listen."
In 2007, Thammavongsa published Found. Moved by the poetry and visual imagery, Nath made the film with Thammavongsa narrating, voicing compassion for the fragile infant she once was.
Found screens Tuesday 5 p.m. at AMC 2, Thursday 6:15 p.m. at AMC 7 and Fri. Sept. 18, 1 p.m. at Jackman Hall, AGO. Details at foundthefilm.com and tiff.net.
Oscar Buzz Continues For
(September 9, 2009) *As Mo'Nique prepares for the Oct. 5 launch of her BET talk show, industry buzz has the comedian a clear front-runner to pick up a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her forthcoming role in "Precious."
According to the New York Post's Page Six, Dick Cavett, Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, Bob Balaban and Joel Schumacher saw the film over the holiday weekend in East Hampton, and emerged in awe of the performance by Mo'Nique.
"She doesn't steal the film -- she kicks, screams and pummels it into an Oscar no-brainer," Forbes.com media critic Bill McCuddy told Page Six.
The filmed, backed by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, has already earned raves at Cannes and Sundance, and Mariah Carey has even received praise for her makeup-free role.
Said McCuddy: "If Oprah can get Barack [Obama] elected, she can get Mo'Nique either a Best Supporting Oscar or a Cabinet post."
Set in Harlem in 1987, "Precious" is the story of Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a 16-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want.
She's pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother (Mo'Nique), a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically.
School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write.
Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakeable sense that other possibilities exist for her.
Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesn’t know the meaning of "alternative," but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for.
In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.
Oprah Hopes Dark Movie Will Shine Light On Abuse
Source: www.thestar.com - Andrea Baillie, The Canadian Press
(September 13, 2009) Oprah Winfrey says audiences shouldn't be daunted by the dark subject matter of her latest film project.
Winfrey is the executive producer of Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, which is screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.
It's about an obese Harlem teen who is the victim of repeated sexual abuse.
"It is so raw that it will suck the air out of the room," Winfrey told a packed news conference on Sunday.
"It's a good thing that we are taken to that level of engagement."
Winfrey appeared at a news conference alongside the film's stars, including singer Mariah Carey and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe.
Winfrey said the film gives a voice to those who have experienced abuse like the film's title character.
"I have seen the Preciouses of the world and they have been invisible to me," she said. "The message of this film is that none of us who see the movie can walk through the world and allow the Preciouses to be invisible again."
The film – adapted from the 1996 Sapphire novel Push – was a smash success when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Sidibe's performance as the titular teen who has been impregnated twice by her father and who withstands unconscionable abuse from her mother has merited raves and Oscar buzz.
Carey, who plays a dowdy counsellor in the film, loved the book and jumped at the opportunity to shed her glamorous onstage persona.
"A lot of people tell me they don't recognize me," she said. "That, to me, was a great gift."
Cruz Embraces Professional Soulmate
Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell, Movie Critic
(September 13, 2009) Penélope Cruz has been spending a lot of time lately with a guy named Oscar.
But her heart really belongs to Pedro.
Oscar, of course, is the shiny golden man she won last spring as Best Supporting Actress for her fiery role in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
The Spanish beauty has been carrying Oscar with her on her travels between America and Madrid. To meet the family, so to speak.
"It was travelling for a while, all of my friends and everybody wanted to see it and take a picture with it. So I had to introduce it to everybody. That's the most fun part about it, sharing it with your people."
Yet nothing can compare with the warmth she feels for Pedro Almodóvar, her professional soulmate whom she has worked with for years, and hopes to continue working with. Almodóvar returns the love. He commissioned a set of espresso glasses with Warhol-style images of Cruz on them, which are being handed to journalists interviewing her.
They team once again for Broken Embraces, the multi-layered drama having its North American premiere at TIFF. It's their most complicated collaboration yet, because Cruz plays several different characters and the style of the film flips between film noir to madcap comedy and back again.
Q. Is it difficult or fun to play multiple characters in the same film?
A. It's both. It's more fun because it's harder to play somebody so different to yourself and a character that has all those faces. There's like three women in one. It's more challenging, but that's what makes me more happy about this work.
Q. Does Pedro give you input on how your characters are written?
A. Sometimes he tells me what he's writing and most of the time he's writing three characters at once. He's a machine of creation. He cannot stop. He gives me the script only when he's completely finished.
Q. Are you able to veto any of his ideas?
A. You don't really need to do that, ever. He's one of the most amazing writers that cinema has. He's open to any questions or doubt. He spends lots of time with the actors before shooting, like two to three months, sometimes more. He gives us all of that time to be able to try the scenes in many different ways, to make mistakes, to be able to try everything. It's great, because then you get to the set and you have lived with your character for awhile. But of course you're never 100 per cent confident.
Q. Do you learn things about yourself with each new role?
A. That's my main thing every time I go to work. Keep my eyes open, feel everything, keep growing and learning as much as possible.
Sook-Yin Lee Makes Directorial Debut
Source: www.thestar.com - Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
(September 11, 2009) Sook-Yin Lee is often regarded as a bold actor and broadcaster.
In 2001, for instance, she mooned TV cameras on one of her last days as a VJ at MuchMusic. And in the 2006 big-screen drama Shortbus, she performs non-simulated intercourse as the lead character, a sex-therapist.
Which is why it's surprising that Lee is timid about the world premiere of Year of the Carnivore – she wrote and directed the feature – at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"I've been so scared!" the Vancouver native, host of CBC Radio's pop-culture show "Definitely Not the Opera," said in a recent interview.
"I love this movie, and you set it out into the world and you don't know if it'll get brutalized – or worse, ignored.
"So I've just been like: 'Oh my God, why do I make things? What am I doing?"'
Year of the Carnivore – which opened the festival's Canada First Programme on Thursday and is due for theatrical release next year – follows the sexual adventures of 21-year-old tomboy Sammy Smalls, a role deftly filled out by American actor Cristin Milioti (she played the daughter of mob boss Johnny Sack in "The Sopranos").
Sammy, a feisty cancer survivor with a "lame" leg, carries a torch for Eugene (Toronto's Mark Rendall), a musician, but their first intimate encounter bombs due to her lack of experience.
This begins her unconventional journey to find her inner ``femme" by having sex with an eclectic group of people, including shoplifters she busts while working as a security guard at a supermarket (the store's manager is played by Will Sasso of Mad TV fame).
Her parents, played by Sheila McCarthy (Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Kevin McDonald (Kids in the Hall), are caught up in their own dysfunction and unaware of her sexcapades.
"She's just trying to do the best," said Lee, whose on-air gimmicks at Much included doing an entire in-person interview with Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke without looking at him.
"Everyone's told the holy grail is to be really good in the sack – and damn it, she's going to learn it."
Lee said she started penning the film about five years ago after acting in such films as Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Art of Woo.
At one point in the writing process, she had turned Year of the Carnivore into a murder mystery but then realized her passion was to explore the theme of love and connection.
"I think our desire for connection gets sort of warped and turned into these strange super steroid sex babes and pornos and just what we're told we're supposed to be," she said.
"We're supposed to be super babe. You're supposed to be hot hunko guy, and then everyone's going: 'What's wrong with me? I've got to be that person.'
"We're all searching to become these unattainable and empty, illusionary characters. They don't really exist."
Though Lee has several short films as a writer-director under her belt, including Unlocked and Girl Cleans Sink, and she co-wrote and co-directed the feature Toronto Stories, she felt she had to earn her stripes as solo director on Year of the Carnivore.
"This is my first feature and so people are like: 'Does she know what she's doing?"' she said. "I basically spent the last year asserting myself and having to fight for my vision, and it's been an interesting and amazing journey."
Once filming got under way last winter in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, Lee surprised some of the crew members with her directing style.
"I've come up through the world of DIY (do-it-yourself) art-making in music and in film, and I knew what I needed to do and so it was contrary to some of the ways in which people are used to operating in the industry," said the multi-talent, who is also on the film's score along with Buck 65 and Adam Litovitz.
"I remember days when I would baffle the crew. It would be like: `What is she doing moving props through the space?' ... and this whole sort of culture of like: 'Oh my God, the director's touching the stuff. Does that mean the props person isn't doing their job?"'
With such challenges out of the way, Lee is ready to helm more features.
The next one will be a supernatural ghost story called Ferrate Is Dead, she said.
Taking Sides On Tel Aviv Films
Source: www.thestar.om - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter
(September 15, 2009) It's Jerry Seinfeld and Natalie Portman against Jane Fonda and Viggo Mortensen. The battlefield: the Toronto International Film Festival.
The subject: Tel Aviv and the Israeli government's actions in Gaza.
The escalating war of words over the festival's decision to highlight Tel Aviv in a new 10-film program this year reached a climax yesterday.
Some artists are angered by the spotlight on Israeli films, which they maintain is part of Israel's attempt to divert attention from the Palestinian conflict. They complain the program excludes Palestinian voices, comes on the heels of a devastating bombardment in Gaza and amid a global publicity campaign by the Israeli government known as "Brand Israel."
TIFF and a spokesman for Israel's consulate in Toronto have flatly denied the allegations.
The critics, backed by the likes of Fonda and Mortensen, called a news conference and demonstration yesterday to voice their displeasure with TIFF. The protest drew about 250 people to Ryerson University.
On the other side of the argument are equally prominent entertainment industry figures, including Seinfeld, Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Lisa Kudrow. They are arguing for freedom of speech and have an ad in today's Star explaining their position (on page A13).
"We applaud the Toronto International Film Festival for including the Israeli film community in the Festival's City to City program," said the statement, co-sponsored by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
"The visiting filmmakers represent a dynamic national cinema, the best of Israel's open, uncensored, artistic expression.
"Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy.
"Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect."
Ever since Canadian filmmaker John Greyson pulled his film from the festival last month in protest and started to organize fellow artists and filmmakers, the issue has gone from local to global.
Such heated debate on the actions of a government is unusual at a film festival and has been a distraction from 300 plus films being shown.
At yesterday's news conference, filmmakers including Greyson, Elle Flanders and Palestinian-Israeli director Elia Sulieman reiterated they never called for any sort of boycott. "We are not protesting the films or the filmmakers, just the frame that TIFF is using," said Flanders.
Organizers said they had collected more than 1,500 signatures for their protest letter, including historian Howard Zinn, in addition to early signers author Naomi Klein and musician David Byrne.
"They wanted to party, and we want to spoil their party," said Yousry Nasrallah, an Egyptian filmmaker, whose film Scheherazade, Tell Me A Story is at the festival.
Outside the news conference yesterday, a crowd of about 30 people organized by the Jewish Defence League demonstrated in support of Israel.
In addition to Mortensen and Fonda, celebrities who publicly oppose TIFF's choice include Harry Belafonte, Dionne Brand, Noam Chomsky, Julie Christie, Eve Ensler, Danny Glover, Rawi Hage, Joy Kogawa, Min Sook Lee, Ken Loach, Judy Rebick, Wallace Shawn and Alice Walker.
Mortensen said in a statement yesterday that some attacks on the protest statement are misinformed and a distraction from the "issue at hand: the Israeli government's whitewashing of their illegal and inhumane actions inside and outside their legal national borders."
Last night, Fonda issued a statement regretting "words that are unnecessarily inflammatory" in an earlier statement on her website.
"I have seen suffering on both sides. It is out of our love for Israel and all that it promised to be that I protest the use of art (which is meant to search for truth)" and Israel's campaign to rebrand its image. "The greatest 'rebranding' of Israel would be to celebrate that country's robust peace movement by allowing aid to be delivered to Gaza and stopping expansion of the settlements."
Prominent entertainment industry figures publicly supporting TIFF's choice also include David Cronenberg, Minnie Driver, Simon Wiesenthal Center founder and filmmaker Marvin Hier, Cineplex Canada CEO Ellis Jacob, Norman Jewison, Lenny Kravitz, Sherry Lansing (former head of Paramount Studios) and producer Robert Lantos.
The protest declaration can be viewed at torontodeclaration.blogspot.com. Festival organizers have posted their defence at bit.ly/jvCUz.
In Toronto, Directing Is Clearly Women’s
Source: www.nytimes.com - By MICHAEL CIEPLY
(September 11, 2009) TORONTO - FROM the tattoo on Diablo Cody’s bicep to Lone Scherfig’s leopard-spot pumps, it was impossible not to notice: The 34th Toronto International Film Festival opened on Thursday with the women in charge.
While still struggling to find their place in the movie industry at large — the number of directors at American studios remains well over 90 percent male — female filmmakers have managed to occupy some of this 10-day festival’s most valuable slots: those showcase screenings and press conferences in the first couple of days, when everyone is still paying attention.
Thursday’s most raucous event was almost certain to be the 11:59 p.m. red-carpet debut of 20th Century Fox’s “Jennifer’s Body,” directed by Karyn Kusama (“Girlfight”) from a script by Ms. Cody (“Juno”), in which Megan Fox plays a high school sex bomb who, quite literally, turns into a man-eater.
According to Natalie Johnson, a spokeswoman for Fox, tickets to the midnight show at the landmark Ryerson Theater, which seats more than 1,200, were gone within two hours of going on sale last week. (“Hell is a teenage girl,” runs a theme-setting line from the film.)
“Jennifer’s Body,” which opens in commercial theatres next Friday, got its first festival screening at noon on Thursday. Several hundred press and film industry types, normally a jaded bunch, were lined up for a look at the Kusama-Cody-Fox combination’s take on female vengeance.
The audience was laughing in all the right places, a good sign for the film, which is walking a fine line between comedy, horror and a postpunk feminism that is telegraphed by the title’s cute pink script in the opening credits.
But the deeper question is whether the Toronto festival’s first couple of days might help propel a clutch of female directors to the front of Hollywood’s award race.
Something like that happened in 2003, when a Toronto screening of “Lost in Translation” put Sofia Coppola on the path to a best-director Oscar nomination. She is one of only three women ever to earn that distinction, the others being Lina Wertmüller for “Seven Beauties” and Jane Campion for “The Piano.”
None of them won the directing Oscar. But 2003 became known as a good year for women, as Niki Caro, directing “Whale Rider”; Catherine Hardwicke, directing “Thirteen”; Patty Jenkins, with “Monster”; and Shari Springer Berman, with “American Splendor,” all joined Ms. Coppola in making a strong impression.
Ms. Campion is back in contention for prizes this year with “Bright Star,” a romance about the poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brawne, from the new film company Apparition. The film began screening here Thursday, as Ms. Campion and her team, including the actors Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, gathered in advance of a Friday night presentation ahead of its commercial opening next week.
By Thursday morning Ms. Scherfig, a Danish director, was already in motion. Preparing for a 6 p.m. screening of “An Education,” her offbeat romance from Sony Pictures Classics, Ms. Scherfig was at the Four Seasons Hotel, doing the occasional press interview and getting ready for a reunion with her cast members, who include Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan.
“For me it was never an issue to project anything that had to do with gender,” Ms. Scherfig said of her own take on filmmaker demographics. “All my films have had men in their late 30s in the lead.”
This stop was not Ms. Scherfig’s first — she and the film had just dropped in from a festival in Telluride, Colo., and had made a splash at the Sundance festival in January in Park City, Utah — nor the last, as she was planning to head for yet another festival appearance in London.
Ms. Caro was also expected in Toronto with her latest film, “The Vintner’s Luck,” which was to be toasted at a New Zealand film cocktail party Friday, ahead of a weekend screening. Other women with films in the Toronto festival include Rebecca Miller (“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”), Samantha Morton (“The Unloved”) and Leanne Pooley (“The Topp Twins”).
Drew Barrymore, like Ms. Morton an actress making her directorial debut, has already felt like a presence with “Whip It,” a roller-derby romp starring the 2007 awards season darling Ellen Page (“Juno”), even though the film was not scheduled to screen until Sunday. Ms. Barrymore’s pose on the cover of an unofficial festival guide is almost as sassy as the e-mail promotions for “All Girl Roller Derby Action,” a live exhibition of the sport with appearances by the “Whip It” cast, in a public square on Sunday evening.
All that, and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Hurt Locker,” which was shown last year at Toronto, has been generating Oscar talk since its release earlier this summer by Summit Entertainment.
Anyone who is looking can read the signs, including those ubiquitous photographs of Ms. Cody flashing her bicep tattoo of a bikini-clad beauty: Women have staked a claim on the season.
Reitman-Clooney Comedy Has Serious Side
Source: www.thestar.com - Emily Mathieu, Staff Reporter
(September 12, 2009) The recession, the United Nations, the art of filmmaking and Facebook all made it into a news conference for Up in the Air, starring George Clooney and directed by Jason Reitman.
"Working on the film along the way, it became clear that is was less and less a comedy and much more about real things," said Clooney, adding that it was "fortunate," that the film could be woven into the discussion of a real and pressing issue for so many people.
The film, which has its world premiere tonight at the Toronto International Film Festival, tells the story of a corporate downsizing expert, who spends most of is time travelling on planes and his search for deeper meaning in life. It also revolves around the love story between Clooney and actress Vera Farmiga.
The cast also includes Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey and Jason Bateman. The majority of the questions were directed at Clooney, with a few aimed at Reitman. The rest of the cast sat mostly idle – aside from a few personal antidotes about how they became involved on the film and their own experience with being fired. Reitman gave a bit of advice to aspiring filmmakers in the audience and Clooney focused briefly on what he hopes his celebrity can do to improve the situation of people in Darfur.
Reitman spoke about how the downturn in the economy shifted the final direction of the film.
"Well when I started writing we were in an economic boom and I started writing it as a satire...Obviously the world changed." Some of the extras were recruited as a result of sharing their personal experiences with being fired with Reitman. They are all now members of SAG, he pointed out.
A few questions didn't merit the same thoughtful responses.
When asked if he would be joining the social networking site Facebook, Clooney replied; "I would rather have a prostate exam, on live television by a guy with very cold hands than have a Facebook page." When Reitman was asked, "Where do you keep your Grammy," the director deadpanned, "On a shelf."
And Nicole On Daughter's Spina Bifida
(September 10, 2009) *Married celebs Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker got candid with Black Enterprise magazine about their daughter's spina bifida condition, and the ways in which it has changed their lives.
The spina bifida birth defect can cause mild to severe nerve damage, paralysis, and incontinence.
After the diagnosis, the couple put their careers on hold as they struggled to learn about the condition. This process led them to launch Sophie’s Voice Foundation (http://www.sophiesvoicefoundation.org/) in 2008. The foundation’s first goal is to raise $1.8 million so that 20 children chosen by a random drawing can participate in a surgical clinical trial, which they hope will correct incontinence for children with the condition.
In the interview with BE, the couple shared how their daughter’s condition has changed their lives, taught them endurance, and inspired them to help other families.
Black Enterprise: What gave you the courage to start a foundation?
Boris: It was our way of learning how to cope. You’re sort of stuck and you don’t know what the future will hold and you have to transition into a whole new level of responsibility. Then you realize that you are not the only one. There are a lot of people that struggle with the same situation, but have fewer resources, less help, and less education.
Nicole: I thought it was the right thing to do. Doctors say folic acid prevents spina bifida, but what about the people who already have it? So we’re trying to figure out how to improve daily functions that we all take for granted and ease the burden on families. There’s a surgery called the Xiao procedure [developed by a Chinese urologist, Dr. Chuan-Guo Xiao] that reroutes nerves from the legs to the bladder, and they then “teach” the bladder to empty itself over time. When I learned about the surgery, I wanted to step up to the plate and try to raise money.
How can Sophie’s Voice help families?
Boris: This is not a temporary effort. The surgical trial is our first goal, but we have goals after that. There are people who can’t afford to keep buying diapers, catheters, wheelchairs, and braces until after their kids are grown. [The average cost of raising a child with spina bifida is 13 times higher than that of raising a normal child.]
Nicole: We have to figure out how to serve families. We are not experts, but we are in it with them. Sophie’s Voice is currently planning a private introductory fundraiser in New York City this month. More long-range plans include opening a chapter in Ghana, where they’re still learning how to best care for those with spina bifida.
How has your daughter’s condition changed your priorities?
Boris: It has turned everything upside down. It has been hard for the past four years to find our way through this maze. It’s tough because our daughter needs 24/7 care, but we still have to make movies and TV shows because that is what supports the family. You realize that all the things that stress you out aren’t really important at all. Our daughter’s health, our son, Nicolas, our family—the four of us—that is our priority in life. We also have to be meticulous about fundraising. It’s a business, but it’s quite sobering.
What are your hopes and dreams for Sophie and other children with spina bifida?
Nicole: I want her to be as self-sufficient as possible, and if she does “cath” herself for the rest of her life, I want her to be confident and take care of her health and maybe even help other young women do the same.
Dark Cop Movie Has Laughs, Werner Herzog Insists
Source: www.thestar.om - The Canadian Press
(September 15, 2009) Werner Herzog says he's often perceived as a sombre and brooding director, but that's really not the case.
"No, not so, (that's) wrong – I've always been hilarious," Herzog protested to laughs at a packed press conference Tuesday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"In most of my films there's a lot of humour, and people, thank God, (can) start to see it."
The German director, promoting his darkly comic movie Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, said he revelled in injecting outlandish dialogue and hallucinations into the story.
The film stars Nicolas Cage as a drug-addicted cop whose unconventional investigative measures include smoking marijuana with a drug dealer and holding a gun to the head of a witness's grandmother.
Herzog said many of the over-the-top sequences were brought into the storyline by Cage himself, with some dialogue improvised as shooting took place.
Cage said it was clear to him that he should carry the wild behaviour as far as he could.
"It's kind of like you're watching a monkey go nuts," Cage said of the appeal of his flawed hero.
"There's something quite tragic and shocking and funny about it. And I felt like with a title like Bad Lieutenant that I would have to ramp it up a little for people to go watch the bad lieutenant in action. I knew that they would want to see something like a bit of a train wreck of a personality, otherwise why call it the Bad Lieutenant?'
"The further I can go, the more outrageous the behaviour could become, I thought that the funnier it would be."
The film is named after Abel Ferrara's gritty 1992 film starring Harvey Keitel, but Herzog said the two have nothing in common.
'Tide' Turns For Halle Berry
(September 10, 2009) *Oscar winner Halle Berry is in talks to topline the action-thriller "Dark Tide," which follows a diving instructor who returns to the deep after a near-fatal incident with a Great White shark. According to Variety, the film will be directed by Clark Johnson, last seen acting in, and directing episodes of HBO's "The Wire" and best known for his role on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street." "Twilight" producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will shepherd "Dark" via their Temple Hill banner; Social Capital Films is arranging financing for the $15 million-$20 million picture. "Dark Tide" is set to begin shooting in South Africa later this year.
Crystal Lee Sutton, 68: Activist inspired Norma Rae
Source: www.thestar.om - Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press
(September 15, 2009) RALEIGH, N.C.–Crystal Lee Sutton, whose fight to unionize Southern textile plants with low pay and poor conditions was dramatized in the film Norma Rae, has died. Sutton, 68, died Friday after a long battle with brain cancer. In 1973, Sutton was a mother of three earning $2.65 an hour folding towels at J.P. Stevens when a manager fired her for pro-union activity. In a final act of defiance before police hauled her out, Sutton, who had worked there 16 years, wrote "UNION" on a piece of cardboard and climbed onto a table on the plant floor. Employees responded by shutting down their machines. In 1974, a union won the right to represent workers at seven plants in northeastern North Carolina. "Crystal was an amazing symbol of workers standing up in the South against overwhelming odds,'' said Bruce Raynor, president of Workers United, who worked with Sutton to organize the Stevens plants. Despite what many people think, Lee got little profit from the movie or an earlier book written about her, said her son, Jay Jordan. "When they find out she lived very, very modestly, even poorly, in Burlington (N.C.), they're surprised," Jordan said.
Oprah Plugs 'Precious' In Toronto
(September 15, 2009) *Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry met with reporters at the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend to promote their new project "Precious," which had a premiere screening at the annual event. The power duo signed on as executive producers after seeing the film earlier in the year and being moved by its content. The story follows an illiterate black girl who manages to rise above poverty, sexual and mental abuse. Perry and Winfrey felt their involvement might bring more attention to the independent project, which opens Nov. 6 and stars Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton and others. "Everyone needs someone to help them navigate," the TV talk-show host explained. "I had Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and Maya Angelou who I look to. You can't do that on your own. Someone has to show it to you." "Precious" won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and has been generating Oscar buzz. Carey, Patton and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who plays the title role, gathered at a private cocktail reception prior to the movie's Toronto premiere where they later joined Winfrey on the red carpet, according to the Associated Press. "I couldn't wait to get here because I love it so much and I couldn't wait to see it again. I am just really excited," said Carey.
Damon Wayans Jr. One Of The 'Guys'
(September 15, 2009) *Damon Wayans Jr. has joined the cast of Adam McKay's next comedy, "The Other Guys," as have and Eva Mendes Michael Keaton, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as cops in the Gary Sanchez Prods.-Mosaic action-comedy scheduled for an August 6 release by Sony. A story line has yet to be released. McKay and Chris Henchy ("Land of the Lost") wrote the screenplay (formerly titled "The B Team"). Wayans was a writer, actor and story editor on his father's sitcom "My Wife and Kids." He also co-starred in the Paramount comedy "Dance Flick." Mendes is touring the festival circuit in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans." She next appears in the Miramax drama "Last Night," scheduled for a March release.
Tyler Perry's 'Bad' Wins Weekend B.O.
(September 14, 2009) *Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" took the weekend box office with a total of $25 million, which was his third best opening ever behind "Madea Goes to Jail" with $41 million and "Madea's Family Reunion" with $30 million. The Lionsgate's film starring his alter ego Madea far outpaced Friday's other three debuts: Summit's horror remake "Sorority Row" ($5.3 million), Warner Bros' Antarctic murder mystery "Whiteout" ($5.1 million) and Roadside Attraction's expansion of documentary "The September Issue" ($1.3 million). "I Can Do Bad," starring Taraji P. Henson, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige and Perry as Madea, took in $8.6 million on Friday, $9.9 million on Saturday and a projected $5.5 million on Sunday, according to Variety. The audience was 80% African-American and 75% over 25 years old.
This Woolf Is So Funny, It's Hard To Feel The Bite
Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(out of 4)
By Edward Albee. Directed by Diana Leblanc. Until Oct. 24 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St.
(September 11, 2009) Soulpepper Theatre's production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is probably the funniest version of the play I have ever seen, but the jury is still out as to whether or not that's a good thing.
Edward Albee's variations on the lethal party games two couples can play has lost none of its sting in the 47 years since its premiere.
We all probably know Georges and Marthas: co-dependent couples locked in a battle to the death where love and hate alternate with the speed of light. And there are still far too many Nicks and Honeys out there: amoral, opportunistic men joined at the hip to passive-aggressive women, with each one playing to the other's worst features.
Put them all together and you have three hours of sublime theatricality, where scorching wit and searing insight walk hand in hand, putting pain into each laugh and finding a sardonic smile behind each tear.
Albee has even courteously named the three acts of his drama, beginning with "Fun and Games," going on through "Walpurgisnacht" and ending with "The Exorcism."
Follow his road map and you can't go wrong.
Unfortunately, director Diana Leblanc seems to have stopped after Albee's first instalment, and the evening is so filled with uproarious comedy for so long that you can't see the forest of heartbreak for the trees of laughter.
Nancy Palk starts us down this road and so brilliantly, giving us a Martha who is a born mimic, colouring each line – nay, each word – with a different accent or characterization. It's a bravura performance, skilfully realized and delicious to watch ... up to a point.
But if the audience are laughing too loud, the only way to drown them out and let them know things have gotten serious is to scream and that's what Palk does. Yes, her own husband accuses her of braying, but she takes it more than a bit too far.
That's always fascinating to watch, but it's like having an iPod that switches back and forth from show tunes to heavy metal at disconcerting intervals: the two modes don't really illuminate each other.
Diego Matamoros has the opposite problem as her spouse, George. He's content to flip off all of his lines for most of the show with a low-key throwaway delivery that makes them all surefire laugh-getters, but quickly becomes monotonous as well.
And when he, too, decides to rise above the laughter, volume is his only solution.
Part of the morbid fascination of watching George and Martha in action is that they wield the scalpels of their wit with such damaging precision. They should slash their victims across the jugular, not bludgeon them over the head.
The same disease also casts its blight on Diana Donnelly, who begins by making Honey a truly fresh and original creature, not the usual whining wimp we can't wait to have pass out on the bathroom floor.
Donnelly has a quirky sense of humour and a wonderfully offbeat way with the character's eccentricities, but director Leblanc lets her go too far as well, so that this poor woman's underlying pathos gets lost in the shuffle.
Probably the most successful performance of the four is Tim Campbell as Nick, the ice-cold geneticist who has "Historical Inevitability" stamped firmly on his passport.
He begins as the perfect young Nordic god, handsome to a fault, frostily charming and always looking out for the next opportunity.
As the evening turns dark, he rides the waves of its destruction perfectly, sometimes suffering emotional damage, sometimes causing it. The scene in Act I when he and George debate the future of mankind is the evening's single most convincing sequence.
Leblanc has let her cast down in other ways as well, allowing designer Astrid Janson to provide an uncomfortably positioned roomful of furniture, with awkward entrances and exits, then added to the difficulties by the way she positions her cast, often facing away from the audience for no good reason.
And please, we could have done without the cutesy miniature portraits of George and Martha Washington on the top of each bookcase. If Albee had truly meant this to be an allegory about the first president and his wife, he would have done so more transparently.
There's some fine work going on here and Palk's amazing performance must be witnessed to understand what the phrase "take no prisoners" means. But with a more astute directorial hand, these four actors could have gotten so much more out of this still-astonishing play.
It's Like To Arrive At A Place Called Exile
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner
(September 16, 2009) It has taken Carmen Aguirre more than a decade to bring her play The Refugee Hotel to the stage, but then she is a woman accustomed to waiting.
As a child in her native Chile, she waited in hiding with her parents –university professors and members of the Revolutionary Left Movement on the run from agents of the fascist Augusto Pinochet regime – and younger sister until they could flee to Canada. Four days after they left, their safe house was raided and shut down.
A few years later, as a teenager, Aguirre returned to South America with her mother (her parents had divorced by then) and helped her run safe houses for Chilean political refugees in Bolivia and Argentina, which meant more years of waiting for the activists who might or might not arrive.
And a few years later, as an adult, she returned yet again to take charge of the border safe houses herself, an experience fraught with peril. Again, there were long, tension-filled nights of waiting, listening for the sounds of danger.
Aguirre has written a memoir, Something Fierce , which chronicles those later years, and her work in the Chilean resistance movement. It's expected to be published next year.
One of 14 plays she has written, The Refugee Hotel, is culled from her memories of the family's arrival in Vancouver in 1974. The central character of the show, which opens at Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille tonight, is based on her uncle, a former political prisoner, tortured while in custody, who was the first Chilean refugee to arrive in Vancouver. The action takes place over a week, during which old relationships unravel and new ones coalesce.
She tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to find a Vancouver company willing to produce it. This year, Toronto's Alameda Theatre Company, which promotes Latin-Canadian theatre artists, agreed to mount the show. Several members of that cast, which included Leanna Brodie, Terrence Bryant, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Cheri Maracle, Paloma Nunez, Bea Pizano, and Paula Rivera, have first-hand experience of the tumultuous political life of Central and South America.
The play was originally scheduled to have its world premiere at the Factory Theatre in Toronto six years ago, but was cancelled amid allegations of racial and cultural insensitivity.
Aguirre withdrew the play, alleging that Factory director Ken Gass tried to cast white actors in roles that should be played by non-whites. Gass denied the charges, but Aguirre eventually decided that “his vision of the world is vastly different from mine. I don't know if we could have seen eye-to-eye during rehearsals.”
This time out, Aguirre is directing and doing her own casting.
Five years after arriving in Vancouver, Aguirre went back to South America with her black-listed mother. She recalls one nerve-wracking train ride with her younger sister; using fake passports, they were travelling to see their grandparents, still inside Chile. Later, she ran her own safe houses in Patagonia and worked in the revolution's headquarters in Lima, Peru.
Her father, who spent 10 years working as a janitor in Vancouver while he requalified for his academic degrees, knew of her clandestine work, but said nothing. “He knew what we were doing, but he also knew enough not to ask questions,” she says.
Although the Pinochet dictatorship ended in 1990, “the system itself,” Aguirre maintains, “did not change. Pinochet remained the head of the senate, with sweeping powers to command the armed forces. “The neo-liberal economic system remained in place and social services were not reinstated. We'd been fighting for revolutionary change. And we lost.”
She might have returned to Chile, but instead came back to Vancouver in the early 1990s to study theatre at Studio 68. Since then, she's worked in collaboration with James Fagan Tait and The Electric Company, been playwright-in-residence at The Vancouver Playhouse and at Touchstone Theatre, and was part of the writing team on Da Vinci's Inquest 's final season. She's also appeared in more than two dozen films and TV episodes, too often, she quips, playing the role of Mexican Hooker No. 1 or Latina Waitress.
A new work, a one-woman showed called Blue Box , commissioned by Toronto's Nightswimming Theatre, deals with a woman wanted by the secret police while obsessively following the man she loves. “It's about hunting and being hunted.”
But her political convictions have not changed. She remains firmly committed to social-justice issues and to racial equity in Canadian theatre. “I look forward to the day when we can stop seeing these people – racial and ethnic minorities –as a risk.”
The Refugee Hotel runs until Oct. 4 at Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille.
Perry Back in Drag for a Music-Driven Morality Play
Source: Kam Williams
I Can Do Bad All by Myself is the sixth Tyler Perry play to be adapted to the big screen. Much like his previous productions, this faith-based message movie was crafted with an African-American audience in mind, between all the down-home humour and earnest moralizing around universal themes particularly of relevance to the black community.
What’s new is that the familiar formula has been enhanced by some stellar singing performances courtesy of support characters, all capably played by Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige and Marvin Winans. As soulful a diversion as these pop icons periodically provide, there’s still no mistaking the fact that the picture remains more of a melodrama than a musical. For its most memorable moments are reserved for Perry who’s back in drag, camping it up as Madea, the wisecracking, pistol-packing granny who is at her best when talking trash and taking the law into her own hands.
At the point of departure, she catches three kids in the act of burglarizing her home, 16 year-old Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson) and her two younger brothers. But when she interrogates the “chirrun,” she soon realizes that she’s not dealing with juvenile delinquents but with desperate, destitute orphans whose crackhead mother is dead and who have now ostensibly been abandoned by their grandmother (Gretas Glenn) to boot. So, instead of calling the cops, Madea decides to turn the trio over to their only other living relative.
But estranged Aunt April (Taraji P. Henson) is very unsympathetic and only reluctantly takes her sister’s offspring in. After all, she’s an alcoholic stuck in denial in an abusive relationship with a domineering married man (Brian J. White). So, it’s no surprise when she proves to be inept as a surrogate parent, misbehaving by chain-smoking in the same room as asthmatic Manny (Kwesi Boakye), by teasing chubby Byron (Frederick Siglar) about his weight and by failing to protect Jennifer from a sexual predator.
Fortunately, there ARE a few legit role models in April’s life, and her repeated failings give each an ample opportunity to come to the rescue. Fellow saloon singer Tanya (Blige), Pastor Brian (Winans) and his God-fearing, wife Wilma (Knight) belt out meaningful ballads while April’s handsome Colombian tenant (Adam Rodriguez) comes in handy with the child-rearing and when it’s time to belt her creepy boyfriend around. Of course, there’s Madea waiting in the wings to ensure that she finally wises up and makes the most of her last shot at redemption.
Although the pat plot doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises, who wouldn’t laugh at sassy Madea’s over-the-top antics afresh? And whose soul wouldn’t be stirred by an inspirational Gospel duet by Gladys Knight and Marvin Winans? And what concerned parent wouldn’t appreciate seeing some sensible Sunday school lessons designed for impressionable young minds?
A pleasant, if predictable morality play offering a litany of teachable moments certain to resonate with the Born Again demographic.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, drug use, smoking and the sexual assault of a minor.
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate Films
To see a trailer for I Can Do Bad All by Myself, visit HERE
Andy Warhol Art Worth Millions Stolen in L.A.
Source: www.yahoo.com - By Dan Whitcomb
(September 11, 2009) LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A collection of Andy Warhol paintings valued in the millions of dollars has been stolen from the home of a Los Angeles businessman, police said on Friday. The stolen works included 10 well-known paintings produced by Warhol in the late 1970s depicting famous athletes. Among them were boxing great Muhammad Ali, tennis champion Chris Evert, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill and former football star turned "Trial of the Century" defendant O.J. Simpson. The paintings were commissioned by businessman and art collector Richard Weisman and were stolen from his West Los Angeles home, along with a Warhol portrait of Weisman, a Los Angeles Police spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman said the silk-screen works, which each measured 40 inches square, had been hanging on Weisman's dining room walls and that a housekeeper who noticed them missing on September 3 notified police. Weisman was not home at the time of the burglary and there was no sign of forced entry at the home, police said. Nothing else was taken by the thieves, who left behind several other Warhol paintings. A $1 million reward has been offered by an anonymous donor for the return of the stolen art. The Los Angeles Times reported that Weisman, who was friends with Warhol, sometimes lent out the collection and it was shown in the spring at a benefit exhibit. Warhol, a leading figure in the pop art movement, died in 1987. (Editing by Peter Cooney)
Dan Brown Novel Sells More Than 1 Million On First Day
Source: www.thestar.com - Hillel Italie, Associated Press
(September 16, 2009) NEW YORK–Dan Brown does it again, on paper and on the screen. Doubleday announced Wednesday that The Lost Symbol, Brown's first novel since The Da Vinci Code, has already sold more than one million copies after being on sale for one day in the United States, Canada and Britain. That total includes preorders for the book, which has been at or near the top of Amazon.com for months. An additional 500,000 copies has been ordered, bringing the total print run to 5.6 million copies. The Lost Symbol came out Tuesday. Brown's book was well short of the all-time debut, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which in its first day sold more than eight million copies in the U.S. alone. Doubleday initially said the sales were for hardcover alone, but spokeswoman Suzanne Herz said the number also includes the digital edition, which Doubleday released at the same time despite industry concerns that the standard $9.99 (U.S.) e-book price might hurt sales for the more expensive hardcover. Thrillers have been especially popular as e-books and no thriller writer is hotter than Dan Brown. Since coming out, The Lost Symbol has been the top seller on Amazon.com's overall list and on its list for books downloaded on Amazon's e-reader, the Kindle. On Amazon's list for top thrillers and mystery novels, the Kindle edition was No. 1 as of Wednesday afternoon, followed by the hardcover. Amazon.com spokesman Andrew Herdener declined to say how much the book had sold in each format, but said Amazon was "extremely pleased" with sales in all categories. Herz also declined to offer more specifics.
Dance Gets Whole New Platform - On Subway
Source: www.thestar.com - Murray Whyte, Staff Reporter
(September 16, 2009) Diana Viselli, 19, has been choreographing professionally for a couple of years ("though I've been dancing since I was 4," she says pertly), and she knows the road to city's big stages is mostly uphill.
Still, she probably didn't expect it to take her below ground. "As a choreographer, I'm always looking for work," she says, seated on a hard red plastic bench at the Spadina subway station. "When I heard about this, I thought, `Why not apply?'"
"This," in this case, is the City on the Move festival, a partnership between Toronto's culture division and the Toronto Transit Commission meant to give the mundane experience of commuting a different kind of cultural pop.
"We issue 74 permits (for busking) per year, and most of them are to musicians," says cultural outreach officer Nawfal Sheikh. "Dancing isn't really permitted on the TTC, so this is a way to break that mould."
Viselli's troupe of six rode the subway to three stops on Saturday: Downsview, then Eglinton West on their way to Spadina. The dancers – Amy Taylor, 23; Gigi (her "stage name," she says), 25; Charlene Akuamoah, 20; Esie Mensah, 24; Lindsay Tompkins, 19; and Tereka Tyler-Davis, 18 – strode purposefully amid the steady flow of passengers, their black-and-red costumes standing out in the crowd.
As they set up on the broad landing just above the University subway line, hurried riders swept by, transferring from one line to next.
"Stay for the show! Stay for the show!" chanted Taylor, clapping loudly. ("She's my promoter," Viselli said. "On the way over here, she was yelling: `I heard there's something going on at Spadina station! Should we go see?'" They both giggled.)
A small crowd gathered, curious, watching from a distance. A slow, soulful groove rose in the station – Lauryn Hill's 1998 hit "To Zion," and the dancers arranged themselves and stood motionless in a loose grid.
The crowd grew, gathering at one end. The dancers fell into motion, the music rising. More riders stopped to watch as they moved in unison, barefoot, around the hard tile floor. Occasionally, a train whisked by just below, strong gusts of forced air rushing up the staircase.
The music changed to the hard, staccato drone of M.I.A., and the movement varied, giving way to strong gestures and forceful solos ("I've had this piece in my head for a while," Viselli said. "It's a woman-empowerment sort of thing, using African dance and hip hop.")
By the time they had finished, no fewer than 30 people had stopped mid-transfer to watch. They gave them a hearty round of applause.
After taking their bows, a little breathless, the dancers gathered up their things to get on the train again – this time, just to go home. Though not without a little regret to see it end.
"I kept saying: 'How about Dupont? How about Ossington? How about Bay?' " said Taylor. "But there's just not enough space."
A River's Story
Source: www.globeandmail.om - Paula Citron
(September 15, 2009) Janak Khendry has an unusually loud inner voice. Not only does it drive his choreography, on one occasion it actually saved his life.
First the dance. The India-born but U.S.-educated Khendry had been fascinated by the Ganga – the Sanskrit word for the Ganges river – since he'd stumbled on a book about it in an English shop 30 years ago. But it wasn't until 2005, when his dance company toured India, that the voice piped up.
In the pilgrimage town of Haridwar for a performance, Khendry decided to attend the aarti , an evening ritual service, where 25 chanting priests used devotional candles to offer light to the gods. “The sun was just setting over the Ganges,” he recalls. “The priests, the lights and the river together presented a gorgeous, hypnotic sight. I heard my inner voice say, ‘Do Ganga!'“ Khendry took that directive to heart, and tomorrow, the Janak Khendry Dance Company presents the world premiere of Ganga , a huge multimedia work involving 17 dancers, at Toronto's Fleck Dance Theatre.
As for that inner voice saving his life? To “do Ganga,” as it were, Khendry visited seven major centres along the Ganges – including Gangotri, where in 2007, “the voice told me to go back to New Delhi to see a doctor.
“It turns out that I needed immediate surgery,” says Khendry. “A childhood injury that had formed a scab inside my skull was causing internal hemorrhaging. My voice and Ganga saved my life because the hemorrhage could have caused a stroke.”
Khendry, now 73, would need his energy. His new piece, which includes photographs and video he shot while researching in India, expresses 4,000 years of Ganges history and cosmology through dance.
But Khendry seems to have energy to spare. In addition to his work in dance, he's an acclaimed sculptor, jewellery designer and curator. Born in Amritsar in the Punjab, he is the first artist in 14 generations of a merchant family. After studying both dance and fine art – first in India, then at Ohio State University – he moved to New York. There, he pursued dance, art and became a curator and an expert in decorative glass.
He also met his life partner Herschel Freeman, a Toronto dentist and arts patron who was visiting New York. Khendry soon joined Freeman in Toronto, and the pair ran the Glass Art Gallery in Yorkville for 22 years. Their relationship lasted 35 years until Freeman's death in 2004.
That same year, Khendry launched his epic Upanishad , a manifestation in movement of a life's journey from birth to enlightenment. As in Upanishad , Khendry has commissioned Mumbai-based composer Ashit Desai for his latest work. But Khendry has written the lyrics for the songs in Desai's score himself, and designed the sets and costumes for Ganga .
When it comes to the choreography, Khendry refers to his creative process as an evolution. He trained in bharatanatyam, but has since pushed beyond the boundaries of the classical South Indian dance. “I've moved away from the basic storytelling of the sacred texts that is the core of bharatanatyam repertoire out of a desire to delve deeper into themes of universal significance to be found in Indian culture,” he says. “Ganga is a river, but she is also a goddess, a beautiful woman, a consort of the gods, a symbol of purity and the life breath of a people.”
The focus of Ganga , though, is the intimate relationship with nature that underlines the entire Hindu belief system, particularly with water as the source of life. Like the cosmic number seven associated with the river (see sidebar), Khendry has structured his new work in seven parts. The first six sections touch on the birth of Ganga, her happy childhood in heaven, her relationship with the gods, her descent to earth, her strong connection with humankind and her benevolence. (The Ganges basin supports 40 per cent of the Indian population.) The last section is about the river's deteriorating condition.
“What was once among the purest rivers in the world,” says Khendry, “is being destroyed by sewage and industrial waste. We need to protect the gifts of the planet. The wider significance of Ganga is the destruction of the world.”
Still, while Khendry's piece ends with a warning, he is hopeful about saving the planet. “One night in Gangotri, I saw a crescent moon with a star inside it, which I interpret as a sign of better times to come. No one else saw the star, only me, but I have a picture to prove that the star was there.”
Ganga runs Wednesday through Sunday at Toronto's Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront, 207 Queens Quay W., Toronto (416-973-4000).
Beckie Scott A
Calendar Girl For Right To Play
Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman
(September 11, 2009) The last time Beckie Scott was a calendar girl she wasn't wearing too much.
It was back in the late '90s when she and her cross country skiing teammates put together the Nordic Nudes calendar to raise much needed funds and awareness. It sold out.
Scott has got similar hopes for the new Right To Play calendar she helped launch this week,
Scott directs a lot of energy these days into Right To Play, a humanitarian organization that uses the power to sport to try to help transform the lives of children in the most disadvantaged parts of the world.
Scott is a part-time employee of the group, a special advisor who’s working to raise funds and awareness in her home province of Alberta.
That’s where the calendar comes in. She developed the project with Simon Ibell, who works for Right To Play in Toronto. Spencer Wynn of the Star donated his time to help with the design.
The result is a visually stunning calendar with a lot of heart, the heart being supplied by the 18 Canadian Olympians and Paralympians featured. It’s not a throw-together effort; the calendar really shows what the program and the athletes are all about. It seems a great value for a great cause at $20.
Among those featured are speed skaters Kristina Groves and Clara Hughes, downhiller skier Emily Brydon, freestyle aerialist Steve Omischl, Olympic skeleton bronze medalist Mellisa Hollingsworth, hockey stars Hayley Wickenheiser and Robyn Regehr and Scott herself.
The passion Scott had for her sport is clearly being applied in her work with Right To Play.
“I think first and foremost it’s making a positive impact in the lives of so many kids,” said Scott. “Right To Play is reaching over 600,000 children now on a weekly basis and giving them opportunities they never had before.
“We are truly providing a mechanism for children to learn and be educated and develop properly through sport and play. That’s something that as an athlete, I get it and I think so many other athletes get it. I think there’s a strong camaraderie among the athlete ambassadors who represent Right To Play and a very strong sense of being something very important that is making a difference and a positive difference.”
It turns out Scott isn’t a tad wistful as the 2010 Winter Olympics fast approach. The Canadian cross country skiing star retired at the top of her game after the 2006 season, having just missed out on becoming this country’s first ever winner of an overall World Cup crown in her sport.
There was plenty left in her legs, to be sure, but she said there’s no part of her still itching to compete.
“Not really,” she said. “Just because I know the incredible effort and commitment that’s required to be at that level and to perform at that level and all the training, especially as a cross country skier, that you have to put in and all the time. I knew when I retired I didn’t have that part of it in me anymore to compete at the level.
“I’m excited that the Olympics are coming to Canada. I’m excited for the team and I’m looking forward to seeing everybody compete. But I’m okay for not being out there.”
Scott has other things to keep her busy, like son Teo, who turns 2 in a couple of weeks. Running after him keeps her in almost as good shape as her cross country training did. “There’s a lot of parallels you can draw. It’s definitely the best part of my life right now being a Mom.”
TRIATHLON TV: The ITU Triathlon World Championships on the Gold Coast in Australia can be viewed live tonight (men’s) and tomorrow night (women’s) at 12:05 EST on bold and live streaming on cbcsports.ca and at the ITU's website. Paula Findlay of Edmonton won a bronze in the women’s under-23 event.
YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING: The IOC is running a video contest asking people for their vision of the future of the Olympics. It says the “lucky winners” will get to attend the entire IOC Congress next month in Copenhagen. Copenhagen, okay. IOC Congress? Bamboo shoots up the fingernails would be more enjoyable.
Steve Nash Eyes Life After Basketball
Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith, Sports Reporter(September 11, 2009) The horizon continually expands for Steve Nash, whose passions seem endless and run from sports to film to social causes to his family. It's a gamut that runs contrary to the perception of the single-minded professional athlete.
The workload would be astonishing if, in fact, it was work, but the endeavours in which he's involved are not work, they are fun. They are all part of a grand plan to assure he's more than just another ex-jock putting in time once his NBA career reaches its inevitable conclusion.
He's sitting this morning in a downtown hotel suite, conducting a series of rapid-fire interviews where the subject is not the Phoenix Suns nor sports of any kind.
It's movies and his role as a judge in the LG Life's Good FilmFest, a contest open to anyone with a vision, a passion and a camera, offering a $100,000 first prize in hopes of giving anyone a chance to make a mark in the film world.
"Everyone with a camera phone is a filmmaker," he said. "Especially in these days, with the technology improving by the minute, we're going to see them put up more and more active and more and more realistically created films.
"While this may seem like a new idea right now, it's going to be the norm in a few years for people to be submitting films on youtube and creating content themselves."
Judging a film contest is just another layer to a 35-year-old Canadian sports icon who flits seamlessly from NBA star to filmmaker, from philanthropist to father, from husband to soccer fanatic. There are enough interests and passions for a handful of men, but each is part of a grand plan to assure he's never bored and always – always – a productive member of society.
"The thing about being a professional athlete that I think is lost a lot of the time is what a huge crash it is to finish your career and try to find a pursuit of some sort afterwards," he said.
"One thing that's happened to me in the last couple of years is I've started to consciously create opportunities for myself off the court that can live much longer than my basketball career.
"And fortunately I'm passionate about these things – my (charitable) foundation, filmmaking with our production company, the Whitecaps (a coming expansion team to MLS in which he holds an ownership stake), the health clubs in British Columbia. These are all things that I love doing."
That Nash is passionate about a variety of things away from sports should come as no surprise to anyone who's followed his career. He has an abiding interest in any number of social causes – he created quite a stir at an NBA all-star game by wearing a T-shirt suggesting people investigate the reasons behind the war in Iraq before blindly supporting it – and takes pride in being a well-rounded human rather than a single-minded pro athlete.
"Sometimes, it can be a challenge ... but it's absolutely a pleasure and a privilege to be able to be involved in so many things in my downtime to make myself feel good about myself and my life and about the people I work with and the relationships I'm building.
"Sometimes it is overwhelming but other times, I wouldn't have it any other way."
After all, the shine of a sports career eventually fades and what's left is a man who needs to find interests to keep him going. You will not find Nash in his early 40s searching for something to occupy his mind, and his time.
"I would urge any athlete to just be open-minded and broaden their possibilities while they're playing so when they finish playing they have some passion and some opportunities to do some other things."
Nash's involvement with the Life's Good film contest is born of his lifelong interest in movies. Not only a fan, he's fully involved in the production end of film; the company he owns with a cousin is in the final stages of producing an ESPN-contracted biography of Terry Fox, due to air sometime early next year.
"It's an inspiring story so it's hard not to feel great about it but at the same time ... there's pressure knowing we're making a film that is going to have a huge reach," he said.
Is In On Controversial Track Star
Source: www.eurweb.com (September 11, 2009) *The IAAF tests are back and reportedly reveal that 18-year-old Caster Semenya has both male and female sexual organs.
The results of a controversial gender test on the South African athlete are in the hands of international athletics officials but will only be made public officially after they have been analysed by experts and Semenya has been informed, according to reports.
But why wait, since Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper has already reported that Semenya has male and female sexual organs. The paper is reporting that extensive examinations of Semenya have shown she is technically a hermaphrodite. That means she has no ovaries, but rather has internal male testes, which are producing large amounts of testosterone.
This is where even more drama jumps off. A spokesman for the International Association of Athletics Federations is reported to have said that its urgent efforts to contact Semenya, the women's 800 metres world champion, were being thwarted by South African athletics authorities. Adding to the confusion, Athletics South Africa (ASA) has denied the claim, insisting that it has not yet heard from the IAAF.
"These are insulting words that the media are using, but we are in the dark," SAPA quoted Leonard Chuene as telling The Star newspaper. "We just don't know what affect this information will have on her deep down. This process is not correct."
"This is a medical issue and not a doping issue where she was deliberately cheating," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies was quoted as saying. "These tests do not suggest any suspicion of deliberate misconduct but seek to assess the possibility of a potential medical condition which would give Semenya an unfair advantage over her competitors. There is no automatic disqualification of results in a case like this."
The IAAF has said Semenya probably would keep her medal because the case was not related to a doping matter.
Semenya's victory at last month's world championships in Berlin was overshadowed by speculation over her masculine appearance. The gender test caused fierce protests in South Africa and complaints that it infringed her human rights.
Michael Jordan Enshrined In Hall Of Fame
Source: www.thestar.com - Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press(September 11, 2009) SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Michael Jordan, maybe the greatest of them all, has taken his place alongside basketball's other greats.
And he never forgot anyone who motivated him to get there.
Jordan was enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Friday night, a final honour that followed all the championship rings and MVP trophies he collected during his career.
From the high school coach who cut him to the last player to defend him in the NBA final, Jordan remembered everyone who did something to bring out the competitiveness that carried him to the top of basketball.
"I'd do anything to win," he said.
He joined David Robinson and John Stockton, a pair of his 1992 Dream Team teammates, and coaches Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer in a distinguished class.
"It all started with that little, round ball. I think if you take that away from any of us, I'm pretty sure we would have struggled in life, because that's how much the game meant to us," Jordan said at a morning news conference with the inductees, where he stressed that the weekend wasn't just about him.
"It's truly a pleasure for me to be a part of this, and contrary to what you guys believe, it's not just me going into the Hall of Fame. It's a group of us," Jordan said. "And I'm glad to be a part of them and believe me, I'm going to remember them as much as they remember me."
Still, none of them can compare to Jordan – perhaps no one ever will – after he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships while often being considered the best player ever.
Jordan said he cringes when he hears that label, because he didn't get to earn it by playing others who might have deserved it.
"It's a privilege, but I would never give myself that type of accolade because I never competed against everybody in this Hall of Fame," he said. "So it's too much for me to ask and too much for me to accept."
Robinson was enshrined first on Friday before a large San Antonio contingent that included teammates Tim Duncan and Avery Johnson, and coaches Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich. Stockton told the Spurs that his running mate, Karl Malone, was the best power forward, not Duncan.
The enshrinement ceremony took place at Springfield's Symphony Hall, because Jordan was too big for the Hall of Fame. The move to the other building allowed for a crowd of about 2,600, more than double what the Hall can accommodate.
Most of the attention was on Jordan, the five-time NBA MVP, but the others in the class are some of the most accomplished in the sport. Stockton is the career leader in assists and steals, Robinson won an MVP trophy and two titles in San Antonio, Sloan is the only coach to win 1,000 games with one team, and Stringer was the first woman's coach to lead three different schools to the Final Four.
"Unique, unique competitors," Stockton said.
Fiery ones, too. Sloan, Stockton's longtime coach, told two different tales of fights he was in as a hard-nosed player for Chicago.
Jordan remembered scoring around 20 points in a row late in a game to pull out a win, which was followed by a conversation with Bulls assistant Tex Winter.
"Tex reminded me that there's no 'I' in team," Jordan said. ``And I looked back at Tex, I said, 'There's 'I' in win.' So whichever way you want it."
Jordan and Robinson were All-American college players who entered the NBA with high expectations. Sloan acknowledged he wasn't so sure about Stockton at first – and turns out, neither was Stockton.
"I thought they'd figure me out pretty quickly. I thought the Jazz would figure out that they'd made a mistake, so first paycheque I saved every cent," Stockton said. "I was pretty sure I was a one-year-and-out guy."
He ended up playing 19 seasons in Utah, while Robinson spent 14 with the Spurs. He is still an enormous presence in San Antonio through his charitable work.
"That's one of the things I think I loved most about San Antonio. When you get out in the community, you really feel like you're making a difference. You feel like you're impacting people there and families there," Robinson said. "So anybody who has followed my career, it's been as important as what we did on the court, being involved in the community, making a difference."
Stringer also talked of making a difference in the lives of others, such as the pride she feels watching women's basketball grow into a sport in which her former players can now earn a living playing professionally in the United States. Those contributions to the game, along with her 825 wins, had her sharing a stage Friday with Jordan, whose family she developed a friendship with when they did Nike tours together.
"I once paid to come into the Naismith Hall of Fame," she said, ``and now here I am."