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LE NEWSLETTER

August 5, 2010

August already!?
  Please don't let the rest of the summer slip away quickly.  I'm just starting to really get into it!  Ahhh Caribana weekend - while I wasn't in attendance I heard that lots of you had a great time!  I was preparing for the unbelievable and surprising Drake concert on Sunday night.  Did you catch the scoop?  Check it out under RECAP.  And check out photos in my PHOTO GALLERY.

Well I promised you an exclusive interview with
Sol Guyand here it is!  What an incredible and inspiring story Sol has - read it ... I promise you, you will either learn something or be inspired by something in this reflection on Sol's life and career.   

Now, you may find the newsletter a little lighter this week - what can I say?  I'm trying to take weekends off this summer but I'm sure you'll still find lots to read below.  Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS

::EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW::

Sol Guy’s For Real - Exclusive Interview

Sol Guy - social activist, entrepreneur, television producer and host, music manager, father … the list goes on and on.  You would think that these moves were done consecutively or in a particular order and with specific purpose.  No, they are done in conjunction with each other.  And it didn’t come easy. 

Art Culture Change –Sol’s mantra and it’s not just talk - he is living proof of the interaction and intertwining of these three.  Here we talk about transitioning from music executive to managing Somali-Canadian rapper
K'naan and their World Cup experience, his role as founder of the television series 4Real and bridging the gap between social activism and entertainment.

Sol, reading your resume alone is an inspiring tale of how one changed life affects change in the lives of others.  Do you remember the moment that you knew your life would be changed forever, that day in Sierra Leone (1995?)?

In hindsight, you would like to think that in that moment, you made this decision to make a difference or to change your life.  But I think that that is a bit pretentious in that when you come to those types of decisions, when you actually make the decision to make a change, you’ve probably wrestled with it for a long time.  And there are certain factors that have contributed to manifest that change.  The biggest step is the final step when you do make the call, or wash your hands of something or you make a move in your life.  I can definitely nail contributing factors to what got me took me off the path I was going on. 

The two that stick out, in the course of a couple of years, was the death of my father and then my first trip to Africa, where I went to Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.  Both life changing, and both representing life and death and both allowing me to examine life.  Death, especially of a parent, puts quite a mirror up.  You start thinking of values.  A similar thing happened in Africa.  It just pulled a huge layer back of what the world is and what people deal with in the world.  And it made me start the question the idea of wealth and what wealth is measured by – whether dollars or heart – it brought up all these questions.

It connected directly back to who my father is and to my Mom, stepmom, my sisters and my family and my roots and how I was raised.  How a couple of Americans living in the woods in B.C. and raising these mixed kids in a small town.  And why they were there and what decisions they made to live an alternative lifestyle. In turn, they gave me a different way to look at the world.  So all those contributing factors along the way.

Were your parents ever involved in social activism?

Yes, my Mom was always fundraising in the community.  My parents met in D.C. in the late 60’s and it must have been an interesting time when being a social activist was avant-garde.  In comparison if the pimp-gangsta image is what makes you cool as a young person today, which is mostly about attracting women, being the cool guy, having friends and being admired, in turn, in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King’s heyday, the guy in the sharp suit with a stack of books at the café talking about what he learned in Africa, was that guy. 

My point is that my parents lived in a time where it was part of what you had to do – a social movement globally.  My Mom is Jewish from upstate New York and my father is Black American from the Deep South and they started living on the fringe – they became hippies.  Then they carried that on to moving out of America because they were fed up with it and split to Canada - Halifax and hitchhiked across Canada in the early 70’s.  Imagine a 6’ 4” Black man in Canada … he said some people in the middle of Canada hadn’t even seen a Black person before.  They ended up on Vancouver Island in a hippie commune, which was run by a folk singer Valdy, who I still see sometimes.  Then they moved to the interior. 

My Mom was always fundraising – Families for Children, an organization to help children around the world. She would do toy drives and her and her friends would do Kids Help Kids Day.  The whole community would get involved and ship a trainload of goods to a small community in South America that was in need.  So that was my Mom. 

I think more than anything they were the kind of people who encouraged us to find out for ourselves.  They said ‘here’s the facts and here’s the information … you decide’. 

How would you best describe your television series 4Real to someone who hadn’t heard of it? 

4Real takes celebrity guests around the world to connect with young people who, under extreme circumstances, are doing phenomenal things to change their communities.  In order to get the television series going, it took me a couple of years. 

[Note: Celebrities and locations they visited include (but not limited to): Eva Mendes  - Vancouver; Casey Affleck – Oklahoma; Cameron Diaz – Peru; K’naan - Kenya's Kibera; M.I.A. – Liberia; Mos Def – Rio, Brazil; Joaquin Phoenix - Amazon Rainforest.  www.4real.com]

I’ve watched almost all the episodes.  What strikes me is the affect it has on the group.  You see moments, to quote Oprah, the ‘ah ha’ moment.

Any success of that show and all the beautiful things that have manifested from it, are really a testament to those young people and the unbelievable work they are doing.  One of the things that I’m most proud of is that we were able to travel there, even with these big celebrities in a very similar fashion that we researched and discovered these people.  The idea that if we could just bring people (the celebrity brings the audience) then we could mirror our experience.  To be very honest, the first time I went to the Amazon with Tashka Yawanawa – if that had just been for me and I lived with that for the rest of my life, it would have been more than satisfying – it’s enough.  But he was such an unbelievable guy that I felt like I was doing the world an injustice if I didn’t, in some way, tell the story because I knew how. 

You mentioned you those ‘ah ha’ moments. We had a small crew of really good people and brought a skill in their own right – the celebrity was the same as the soundman.  It was a cool comradery.  We didn’t have hair and makeup and every celebrity would only be allowed one guest so that you couldn’t bring a whole entourage with you.  If we could facilitate the celebrity – first class if it was available, or a great hotel – great.  However, if we were in the mountains, you’d stay in a tent with everybody else.  I think that created an environment for that show to be successful. 

In addition, we didn’t reshoot anything – we shot what was there.  My sister, Shoshona, who produced and directed many of the episodes, helped us understand the structure that we needed.  But in our ideal world, we didn’t want structure.  She took a step away from complete structure, we stepped away from no structure, and there was something there in the middle.  And we had a good team so it worked. 

How did you get from that moment to leaving the music business and moving towards a life dedicated to social and global change through entertainment?

Two things - my upbringing and my cultural entry point was hip hop.  My upbringing was in this hippie movement, second-generation kid, mixed kid, doesn’t quite fit in, trying to find identity. 

And then I found hip hop - I got some records because my stepfather was listening to the CBC (!), this new music, maybe mid-80s.  He thought they were cool so he ordered the records for me.  Africa Bambaataa and Planet Rock and also Grandmaster Flash and the Message.  It blew my mind!  I started going to the store in Grand Forks, North Dakota where all they had was Def Leppard, the Scorpions and AC/DC.  So here I come, ‘Can you order me Run DMC, Tougher than Leather’.  The response was ‘That’s rap!’  I’d end up arguing with the guy to order it for me.  It was finding identity.

My first concert was Ice-T at the Commodore when I was in Vancouver when I was 16.  I was completely blown away and in love with hip hop.  And then I found Public Enemy records – the pinpoint of when I was falling in love with hip hop – there was a through line of social activism.  It was revolutionary music.  NWA’s F**k the Police was as revolutionary as it comes … gangsta rap has become a whole other thing now but those guys had their finger on the pulse. 

I had that lens.  When I was with the Rascalz and things started happening for us, we had that expression within what we were doing.  We could make party records, fun records, or “I’m the best rapper” record. But we were also inspired by those records.  I got to this place in the music industry that I was becoming disillusioned with my role in it and what people were doing and the direction that not only the music was going in but also in being in charge of spreading that message around the world, that’s when I started to say, ‘this can’t really work for me’. 

The short answer is that that was always a part of me.  It was the way I was raised, it was the way I was raised on hip hop and it took my own dissatisfaction with the direction of the overall industry and my role in it by default of who I had become as a young executive, for me to make a decision that I wanted to do something differently .  I don’t think that I ever was not an activist per se until my actions defined me as one.  But I think we were always trying to call out the wrong thing. 

When I got to a point personally decided I didn’t want to be managing the artists I was managing anymore (which is not a reflection of them, their art or their creativity).  I’m a heart person and my passion was gone so I needed to find something else.  When I let it all go, I’d love to sit here and tell you I knew exactly what I was going to do but I didn’t know. 

The 4Real idea was in the atmosphere … but really I was just sitting in an apartment on Seaton Street.  No one could figure it out.  Why would Sol who had all this success then made the almost impossible jump to Arista Records in New York, working with Puffy, Wu Tang Clan and Biggie, and managing Kardi and the Rascalz and k-os … is it true that he gave the company away?  That he said take it all?

The real story is that’s what happened.  Because I wanted so much to be free of it, and in hindsight I don’t even know if I handled it well.  I love all those guys and we’re all still friends.  I just knew that I didn’t want anything.  Someone said very interesting to me once and I took it to heart, they said “You don’t necessarily know when it’s on, but you sure as hell know when something’s off.”  And when it’s off, you’ve got to make a change.

How would you enlighten someone like me that has never been very involved in social works globally but wants to help?  What is it, in your opinion, that ignites action in someone’s heart?

I don’t think I necessarily want anyone to envision my passion.  I’m hopeful that my actions and who I am as a person could spark a person’s passion.  Someone said once that the best thing that you can do for the planet is to find your passion and live it to the fullest and be the best person you can be. 

There’s no difference whether we’re over here making tunes and movies or TV, that’s our lane.  Just as relevant is the construction who does sports camps on the weekends and coaches the baseball team with the kids and fires those kids up and gives back to the community in that way.  It’s all relative and it’s all relevant and reflective to you and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.  What I would hope is that if I am a representation of that and if they find inspiration in it then they would dust off their passion if they’re not as in tune with it.  Because we all have something that we love and if you can do what you love on a daily basis, you are very fortunate. 

You’re a living example of not only it driving your passion and living a fulfilled life, it’s also been successful which I believe the two cannot help but go together if you let it. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t have those days where people thought you’d lost your mind.

When I think back on it now, I don’t know how stable I was in those days!  I was questioning everything, I didn’t want anything to do with it (the music business).  I met this young Somali kid named K’naan in those days.  My whole first year of becoming friends and hanging out with K’naan and when things started to happen for him, I’d be saying ‘if I was in the music industry still, I’d go to that studio and do a track with them or this publishing deal?  I would change this this and this … but I’m not in it’.  I had vowed to never do it again when I met K’naan.  But things happen.

How did K’Naan’s song ‘Wavin’ the Flag’ become the Coca Cola-sponsored anthem for the World Cup?

It was an interesting and long process … by the time we finished the campaign it was an 18-month process.  When one of these massive brands needs a song, they put a brief out to all their agencies around the world.  We first heard about it from William Morris, our booking agent. The idea was World Cup 2010 – Coca Cola’s biggest campaign, big music driver in it, release your African rhythm, it’s about celebration.  They give you a bit of a theme, which was a ‘twist and shout’ melody.  They probably got about 40-50 demos from a lot of people.  First of all, World Cup in South Africa is very interesting to us because of who K’naan is as an African man and the bridge that he walks between both worlds.  But we weren’t so convinced on the creative brief.  Immediately though we thought about the song that we had, Wavin’ Flag, and the sentiment of it.  The album version is almost like a ballad, a real coming-of-age story and personal story of K’naan’s.  It definitely wasn’t this celebratory tune that the World Cup would need.  K’naan had written that song a long time ago and I knew it was a special song as soon as I heard it.  What we managed to do was to get some of the decision-makers at Coca Cola to come to a show.  So they saw K’naan perform at SXSW.  They really dug and then we started to dialogue and it was around Wavin’ Flag and they dug K’naan as an artist and person and the story.  They wanted something real and tangible.  So we worked on a new version on the song for them so we went into the studio with Phil and Bruno in LA.  Then we did the deal and the plan rolled out.  It was probably about 6 months before the deal was done.  Then they laid out the massive plan with the World Cup Trophy Tour.  The big thing about this one was that they were going to hit every African country which was amazing.  There ended up being 22 versions of the song.  Spanish version, Thai version and one of my favourite versions is Nancy Arjam from Egypt (see here), and there’s China, there’s Japan and we did them all with big pop stars.  So 22 versions of the song ends up going to #1 in 18 countries, has this success and becomes the unofficial anthem for the World Cup.  We kind of snuck in the door and stole the thunder with that one. 

What was the highlight personally of the World Cup experience?  professionally?

There were a couple.  Getting to go to 23 African countries in 28 days and the craziness of it but the diversity of that continent and the depth of the people and the different cultures and the languages – it’s unbelievable.  40-minute plane ride and you were in a different world.  That continent is one of the richest places on earth – from that fact that it provides the world with 50% of its resources to this day and that there is so much history there.  It was amazing to get schooled and be received so well.  It was amazing to see K’naan’s homecoming and what the continent at the World Cup, how he was received and how they treated him.  From a guy driving a taxi to big businessmen.  Patrice Motsepe, one of the richest men in Africa or people at the Mandela gala fundraiser we attended, or the people that worked 16 years to bring the World Cup to South Africa and the words they had for K’naan and what we were doing.  The collective pride, the kids in Soweto singing for K’naan.  Phenomenal!

The second thing was to attend some of those games.  And to personally witness the power of sport and how it brings people together in a unique space and 90,000 people cheering for something.  Sports and music are the two things that bring people together across all these barriers, culture and social and political.  All of that was really inspiring to me.

But bar none, we met Nelson Mandela.  I don’t even have nothing to say … we met Nelson Mandela.  That was the highlight of the entire thing.  We got a special invite to his home and spent a little time.  Arguably one of the greatest if not the greatest human beings on the planet.  A phenomenal man that we can all aspire to be like.  The beauty of meeting him was that it reminds you that there are great people all over the world doing great things. 

He’s a testament to it at the highest level but we all know somebody that has a bit of his spirit.  There’s people all over Toronto we walk by every day - we don’t know their story.  It gave you that human pride.  It gave you hope in humanity, you know?  If there’s such a thing as meeting a king, I met a king.  Unbelievable!

What’s next for 4Real?  What’s next for K’Naan?

Now that we’ve got all this access to things and things are really starting to come to fruition in the way that we envisioned them, I’m proud to say almost 10 years ago.  Me and K’naan dreaming up these ideas on Seaton Street.  More music and tours for K’naan.  There’s a documentary we’re finishing about poetry and K’naan’s family in Somalia.  There’s a feature film that K’naan and I have been working on for years.  All that stuff will be rolling out.

There’s more programming and ideas around the 4Real space.  Me personally, I’m very interested in feature films.  I just made a move to LA and I’m interested in getting involved in that world in a bunch of different ways.

There’s lots of stories to tell.

That’s right.  I did documentaries but at the end of the day you’re beholden by the truth.  When you start doing features, you can twist it up!  So I’m excited to get into that world.  We are a very small percentage of people who get the privilege to access mainstream media.  I used to pass judgment on people who just did it for doing its sake and didn’t have something in it.  I don’t do that anymore. 

But whatever I will do, there will always be something in the middle of it.  And it will be as cool, relevant, creative and as tangible as the next things that sits right beside it.  I don’t expect you to dig what we like because it’s the right thing; I want you to like it because the song sounds great, because it’s a great film, because it’s an engaging television show.  I guarantee you that you’ll walk somewhere at some point and it will jump back in your head and it might make you go hmmmm.  And that’s enough for me. 

Would you say that you’re living a fulfilled life? 

I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet.  I’ve got two amazing, healthy children.  I travel the world.  No one calls me to wake me up in the morning.  I wake up ready to go and I do something that I love.  I get a chance to be with all sorts of different people and get inspired.  I’m very fortunate and now that the work is starting to pay us – which is kind of cool too – that one takes a long time, more than people would perceive – we’ve put so much into it and for it to start to balance itself out is great.  I’m just very fortunate.  We couldn’t have imagined all the things that would combine to get us here.  But what we did do, very clearly, we saw the path and we stuck to it.  That’s the thing that I’m most proud of – that we did not compromise. 

We’ve always had enough and had enough to get by.  Literally thousands of people have contributed along the way to everything that we’re doing.  Some of them dedicating years of their lives and other people in a hello, a phone call or opening a door.  Or an idea, a laugh or a smile.  None of this is us on our own.  We just happen to be in this position that we’re in.

It’s a great thing to be around a group of guys that continuously challenge each other as well.  So life is good. 

::RECAP::

Drake Wows the Hometown Crowd in Toronto

Source:  Dawn Langfield, Langfield Entertainment

Concert pics in my PHOTO GALLERY.  Thanks to the folks at Live Nation, I attended the Drake homecoming concert on Sunday, August 1st at Molson Amphitheatre.  I’ve never witnessed such a security presence at any concert prior to this one.  The reason for it became clear near the end of the concert when Eminem and Jay-Z joined our own illustrious rapper on stage to the roars of surprised fans.  There’s no mistaking Eminem’s flow and I, for one, have missed a larger presence from him on the scene.  The smile on Jay-Z’s face told a story –it was obvious the bond that he and Drake share. 

Drake occasionally brought his delivery hard and then backed off bringing it more chilled and seemingly vulnerable.  Throughout the night, Drake jumped and skipped across the stage as if a kid in a candy store.  For me, he lived up to the hype of the night and invited many special guests to join him on stage including Rick Ross, Kardinal Offishall and Fabolous who brought the goods (the most fun being Kardi!). 

But no one could have suspected that the rumours of two surprise guests to be  true.  All in all an exciting and historic night in hip hop.  Drake puts Canadian hip hop and specifically Toronto, solidly on the coolness radar.

::TOP STORIES::

The Black Sniper joins The Crossfire

Source: www.canada.com

(August 2, 2010)
MMA Crossfire is proud to introduce the addition of "The Black Sniper" Michael McDonald to our writing team.

Welcome back to The Crossfire.

Michael is one of Canada's most successful fighters and is a 3-time K-1 World Grand Prix tournament champion.

Born in Birmingham England before spending his formative years in Edmonton Alberta, he is primarily known for his accomplishments in kickboxing. But as with many fighters, it is much more than that.



Michael will be checking in occasionally as a Crossfire Expert, sharing his insight and joining fellow expert Cassie Wiseman with fight predictions.

In this file photo, Michael McDonald is congratulated by Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson after winning the K-1 USA 2004 North American Grand Prix Championship title.

Image courtesy K-1.

Please join us in welcoming Michael to the team.

Lady Gaga makes history with MTV Video noms

Source: www.thestar.com

(August 03, 2010)  It’s all Lady Gaga and Eminem for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, with 13 nominations for Gaga, the most ever for one artist in one year.

Eminem follows with eight nominations, and the two will go head to head for the Video of the Year award.

Flamboyant pop star Gaga is the first female to be nominated for Video of the Year twice, according to MTV, with nods for both “Bad Romance” and “Telephone” with Beyoncé.

Rehabilitated rapper Eminem is up for “Not Afraid.”

Also competing in the category are Florence + The Machine for “Dog Days Are Over,” 30 Seconds to Mars for “Kings and Queens,” and B.o.B with Hayley Williams for “Airplanes.”

Gaga is also nominated for Best Pop Video, Best Female Video and Best Dance Music Video for “Bad Romance,” among other categories.

“I'm so honoured for all the little monsters and self-professed freaks of the universe, to have more VMA nominations in a single year than any artist in MTV history. Ironically, I’m even more proud it’s an unlucky number; 13,” Lady Gaga said in a statement.

“A long time ago the world told me and my little monsters we would never be heard, together we changed the rules. God put me on Earth for 3 reasons: To make loud music, gay videos, and cause a damn raucous (sic). Thank You MTV!” she added.

Eminem is competing for Best Male Video and Best Hip-Hop Video, both for his own song “Not Afraid” and for “Forever,” alongside Toronto rapper Drake, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.

Drake is also nominated for Best Male Video for “Find Your Love.”

Other Canadian content includes Justin Bieber, nominated as Best New Artist, his first nomination, for “Baby.”

Eminem noted sarcastically that the award show fell in the middle of his U.S. tour.

“Apparently MTV doesn’t care that I have two massive stadium shows on the other side of the country the day after the VMAs,” he said. “I mean, I'll be there but don’t expect me to be nice about it.”

The awards will be handed out Sept. 13. Here is the complete list of nominations.

Marsha Ambrosius Debuts Solo Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 3, 2010)  *After their split in 2007, the heart of music was broken as it lost the seamless melodies and clever artistry of Floetry. Despite the split, Marsha Ambrosius has been doing her thing, collaborating with several artists over the years. This time she’s going solo … everyone anticipated it would come eventually.

She landed a solo deal with J Records is getting ready to release her album “Late Nights & Early Mornings” Oct. 26.

A sneak preview of her upcoming album is “Hope She Cheats on You.”

“[The song is] the reality of a bad break up,” she said. “We wanna be decent human beings and say the right thing, you know, ‘I wish you well.’ But this is ‘Everything that could go wrong for him I want it to because my ego is bruised and I’m acting out.’”

Beside this new transition in her life, Ambrosius has been picked up for a television campaign on Centric television network. Her interview can be seen here.

Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh Goes From Raptor To Rapture

Source: www.thestar.com – Israel Gutierrez

(August 04, 2010) DALLAS—Walking into the J.C. Phelps Recreation Center, Chris Bosh is about 20 miles from the childhood home where he used to pick pecans from his yard for hours at a time, both as a chore and to turn a profit.

 He’s just a few minutes away from the high school where he was mocked for speaking like a gentleman but celebrated for dominating the basketball court like a bully.

 He’s a two-and-a-half hour flight from his new hometown of Miami, where he has yet to find an actual home but has already been greeted with legendary acclaim.

 And he’s an eternity away from his previous, seven-year existence as a Toronto Raptor.

 Here, in the centre of this non-descript, dimly lit gymnasium packed with exhausted but eager campers waiting to meet the 6-10 local hero, Bosh isn’t detached from anything. He’s in his element. He’s part of the fabric.

 Here is one of the places where Bosh began playing basketball, where his dad would bring Chris and his brother Joel along while he played and his sons initially discovered their own talent.

 Bosh’s dreams developed here, but as has already happened so many times in his life, his reality is surpassing anything he could’ve conjured up as a tiny Texan with hardly a hint of twang.

 He’s a member of suddenly the most notable and notorious basketball team on the planet, where he not only plans to but is expected to win and win and win some more.

 This, now, finally, is exactly where Bosh wants to be.

 “I have seven years to make up for,” Bosh said, sitting inside the gym where children can’t help but stop him and ask him questions that generally revolve around one of two topics, his hairstyle switch from short dreadlocks to buzz cut, or his decision to team with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for the Miami Heat.

 “You happy that you’re playing with LeBron now?” one camper asked.

 “Of course,” Bosh replied. “You make decisions because you want to be happy.”

 Bosh never figured he’d be making any decisions this momentous — the kind that result in worldwide attention and concert stages being built overnight in anticipation of your arrival. At least not while he and his brother were growing up in Hutchins, Texas, a town of less than 3,000 about 20 minutes outside of Dallas.

 Joel Bosh, just two years younger than Chris, paused between syllables for emphasis when describing his hometown.

 “Coun-try,” Joel said.

 Mom Freida, a Dayton, Ohio, native, and dad Noel, whose father gave the couple the Hutchins home, had rather strict rules.

 “I remember my dad, he had us outside picking pecans for, like, four hours,” Bosh said. “He’d make us work two hours, take a 15-minute break and we had to make our own lunch, then go back out there. But the money that we got from cashing them, he let us keep.

 “We had pecan trees in the backyard. They were all over the place, all over Hutchins. That was like free money falling off the trees. He taught us the value of hard work.”

 Freida educated in other areas, having the boys read as often as possible, and demanding they speak proper English.

 Being well-spoken may have made his mom proud, but it hardly helped in the area of street cred.

 “Mispronouncing words and shortening words and stuff, yeah, I can do that, but I don’t,” Bosh said. “I’d rather not. My mom would get mad at me. Yeah, (friends) gave me grief for that. But I kept going, and guess what, it paid off.”

 Fortunately for Bosh, by the time he moved to Lincoln High School in Dallas, he was a 6-7 freshman. A lack of a particular accent or any specific slang wasn’t going to hurt his image as long as he continued to develop his basketball game.

 By the start of his senior year at Lincoln, a basketball powerhouse in Texas, Bosh had grown to be 6-9. Not until his final year was he considered the star of his team. That honour went to guard Brian Hopkins, a local legend who went on to shine at Southern Methodist University and now plays professionally in Belgium.

 But behind Bosh that senior season, Lincoln went 40-0, taking home the state title.

 “We played against (current NBA players) Deron Williams, Ike Diogu, Kendrick Perkins,” Lincoln head coach Leonard Bishop said. “We played a lot of pros during that time. And all our games were really tough games.

 “I think what Chris had was, really, the desire to be successful and the work ethic as well as the intellect. The only thing that he needed was the basketball drills.”

 He had his choice of major colleges but chose Georgia Tech, primarily because he could play immediately, and he all of a sudden had NBA aspirations.

 Bosh went as predicted, the No. 4 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, sandwiched between No. 3 pick Carmelo Anthony and the fifth pick Wade.

 The spot in the draft wasn’t the problem for Bosh. It was the location of the team selecting him.

 Toronto is far from one of the more desirable NBA destinations. The Raptors have lucked out in the draft with players such as Vince Carter and Bosh, but it’s not a place many American-born players long to be.

 A teenage Bosh was no exception.

 “I didn’t want to go there,” Bosh said. “It was different. All I knew was Vince Carter was there and I never saw him play on TV. It was a whole different country, and it was just different. I’m 19 years old, I didn’t know anything about culture and being away from home. All I know is the States.

 “Toronto’s a great place, a fantastic city. It’s a metropolitan area, but you could tell you’re somewhere different. You could feel it, you could look at it, you can smell it. Everything. All your senses tell you you’re somewhere different.”

 It just so happened Bosh was a bit of a different character himself. Not your typical NBA teenager. Not your typical NBA personality.

 It helped his transition. He convinced himself that the Raptors were a franchise on the rise, with the potential to become an elite team. When the team traded its previous franchise player, Carter, early in Bosh’s second season, suddenly he was the face of the organization. When the hockey-crazed city thought of basketball, it was the lanky big man that now came to mind.

 Once again, Bosh was overwhelmed with the idea that he was that good, talented enough for an entire franchise to build and work around him.

 “I had to work a lot, lot harder to succeed now because I was the focal point of the team,” Bosh said. “They’re trying to stop you? That’s not a good feeling—especially when your (teammates) are struggling. Every night they’re trying to stop you. But then if I’m struggling, they’re like, ‘He only had 16 points.’ Well, damn, they double-teamed me the whole game. What do you want me to do?”

 Bosh played in all of 11 playoff games in his first seven years, winning three and never escaping the first round. He made four All-Star teams, but never received many more individual accolades because his team success rarely matched the individual numbers.

 “Last year was the biggest disappointment,” said Bosh, who added 20 pounds of muscle last offseason to keep from getting pushed around. “That taught me numbers don’t mean anything. I averaged 24 and 10.5, and I didn’t even make any (first-, second- or third-) team NBA. I was mad as hell that day, like, ‘Really?’ That (stuff) hurts.

 “It just seemed nothing ever worked out in Toronto. And that’s no offense to them or the organization. It just never happened. I hate losing probably more than anybody in the world. But it’s just been my fate so far.”

 And yet right now, here at home, Bosh is glowing with the radiance of success. He’s standing close to the place he went 40-0 and won at the highest level he could. After years of never truly believing it could happen again, the possibility is standing right in front of him. It’s exactly where he wants to be.

:TRAVEL NEWS::

For Caribana, We Name The Top Islands In The Caribbean

Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman

(July 30, 2010) To celebrate the big Caribana weekend here in Toronto, Star Travel writers Jim Byers and Adrian Brijbassi select their favourite spots in the Caribbean. A word of warning: we haven’t (yet) been to all of them, so forgive us if we’ve ignored your favourite.

Barbados: Glorious hotels such as Sandy Lane on the west coast, plus a wild east coast near Bathsheba that’s perfect for hiking. Also eccentric locals such as Anthony Hunte, who runs Hunte’s Gardens, are a big plus. And did we mention the rum?

Dominican Republic: Cheap hotels for singles and families, sure, but also some of the best golf around, with courses like Teeth of the Dog and the beautiful Punta Espada course at booming Cap Cana, which features marvelous resorts and one of the longest stretches of beach you’ll find anywhere.

St. Lucia: Decidedly one of the most dramatic Caribbean islands, with the towering, incredible Pitons dominating the southwest corner. Friday nights mean the regular fish fry at Anse-la-Raye and the “jump up” street party in Gros Islet, both tons of fun. Regular country-western dance parties make this an island with a twist.

ADRIAN BRIJBASSI’S TOP PICKS

St. Bart’s: One glimpse of Gustavia in this former Swedish colony (yeah, you read that right) is all it takes to realize you’re in the Hamptons of the Caribbean. It’s ritzy, expensive, beautiful and loaded with celebrities. Visit Shell Beach, where a restaurant owned by former tennis star Yannick Noah serves up decent food and drinks.

St. Maarten/St. Martin: Half-Dutch, half-French, totally relaxing. The Dutch side is more touristy, so make sure you hit the French side for better cuisine and more authentic culture. Near Phillipsburg, a stop into Johnny B Under the Tree for barbecued lobster is a must.

Bahamas: The Atlantis resort dominates and it should. It’s world class all the way. With 29 islands, though, there’s a lot more to the Bahamas than the mega-resort. Best of all, there are plenty of places to do what so many of us go to the Caribbean to do: find a hammock and get lost in a book.

What's your favourite Caribbean island?

Tell us about your top choice, or choices, when visiting the islands. Where do you go, what do you do, what memorable characters have you run into or experiences have you had? Keep your letters short and we may publish them in one of our weekly "Your Journeys" feature. Email travel@thestar.ca.

Note: We reserve the right to edit submissions for length, clarity and grammar.

:MUSIC NEWS::

Eminem And Jay-Z Join Drake Onstage

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(August 02, 2010) Drake wasn’t kidding when he said he was going give his hometown fans a show to remember.

Canada’s hottest hip-hop export imported rap’s biggest stars —
Eminem and Jay-Z — for his inaugural OVO Festival at the Molson Amphitheatre Sunday night.

If the Grammy nominations and million-selling debut album hadn’t made it clear, the unbilled guest appearances, which came near the end of Drake’s 90-minute set — and had been considered farfetched rumours — cemented the Toronto native as a reigning member of the genre’s elite.

It’s been a quick ascent for the emcee who made his first Amphitheatre performance on Lil Wayne’s tour last August.

And this show, his Canadian tour finale, was an emotional outing for the 23-year-old entertainer whose primary residence remains Toronto.

“I’m finally in the town that I was birthed in,” said Drake shortly after taking the stage, “...just show me a good time.”

That tickets for the concert — nearly 10 times the size of his last solo show at Sound Academy May 2009 — sold out quickly, coupled with the capacity crowd giving him a hero’s welcome long before any of the other celebs joined him is a testament to his stature locally.

He performed the highlights from his current disc Thank Me Later, along with tunes from the mixtape So Far Gone which brought him to the fore. With laser lighting, pyrotechnics and the backing of killing five piece band, including DJ, Drake bounced around on his toes like a boxer and varied his delivery from urgent to subdued.

Clad in varsity jacket, soon doffed, black t-shirt and camouflage pants, the former child actor’s oeuvre is not the bling and tattoos of thug rappers, or studied socially consciousness of the Commons and Kanyes.

His is a sensitive, introspective, girls-driven angst realized in his funny stage banter about using candles and Febreeze to feel sexy on his tourbus. Though he threatened a female fan that she might be “touched on, sucked on, kissed or licked” if she came on stage — after making sure she was of age — he planted a chaste kiss on her forehead.

Drake didn’t need all the star power, but it made the night unique.

A thin and somber Eminem delivered his verse from “Forever” in counterpoint to the grinning Jay-Z who followed with a full rendition of “Run This Town.”

Their brief but well-executed segments made up for a lackluster undercard of P. Reign, Bun B, Francis & the Lights, and a particularly disappointing and croaking Young Jeezy. Rick Ross, Kardinal Offishall and Fabolous made worthier appearance during Drake’s set. The headliner continually made mention of incarcerated mentor Lil Wayne, even slamming the New York Police Department in his defense.

Drake has said he hopes to make this OVO Fest — the name is an acronym for October’s Very Own, for the October birthdays of himself and close pals — an annual event.

Don’t know if this edition qualifies as “one of the greatest hip hop shows of all time” as he proclaimed. There was lots of dead time and meandering between sets, occasionally distorted sound and it would have been nice to have seen some ladies on the bill — Rihanna, Nicki Minaj.

But it’s a great start. And if you were a young hip-hop fan, with a rumoured Beyonce sighting backstage, the only thing left wanting as you left this show was the address for the after party.

When Tabla Met Violin: A Mashup Made In Heaven

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(August 04, 2010) Growing up in Hamilton in the 1990s, Gurpreet Chana thought nothing of jamming with his high-school friends. One person might be playing a sitar, another a guitar.

 “We never thought about what we were doing,” he recalls.

 Sitting at the Gladstone Hotel with his latest musical collaborator, violinist and producer Robert M. Johnstone — a.k.a. Mason Bach on stage — Chana describes how this kind of cultural mashup is still very much a part of his life as a professional tabla player.

 Chana is emerging as a leading local experimenter with the classical Indian double drum, having collaborated with a number of pop artists to give their work extra punch.

 Late Friday night, Chana — also known as The Tabla Guy — joins blues master Harry Manx on stage at Harbourfront’s What is Classical? festival — but not before doing some live improvisation for the crowd with Johnstone.

 Both play their traditional instruments together, plugged into laptops so that the sound can be looped and manipulated by the performers on the fly. What result are layers of tabla beats and violin melodies whipped into a swirl of energetic sound.

 The inventive duo returns home to Toronto fresh from the summer festival circuit. That included gigs at the Hillside Festival in Guelph two weeks ago, the Folk on the Rocks festival in Yellowknife, and the Harrison Festival of the Arts on the B.C. coast.

 “We play it by ear, depending on the crowd, what they’re looking for,” says Johnstone, a native of Burlington. “We try to read that.”

 The violinist says the duo was taken aback when they stepped onto the beachfront venue in B.C. “We walked in and the stage was already set up: It was a canopy and there was a whole group of elderly women knitting,” Johnstone recalls with a smile. “We took the approach that it wasn’t about the dance element, but about the presentation of the piece.”

 Their approach worked. The beach behind the ladies came alive. Even the knitters couldn’t help but be swayed.

 “Some of them were doing this,” says the fiddler, wagging his head and shoulders, while miming the clicking of needles.

 Although the music Chana and Johnstone create is experimental, both credit their classical lessons while growing up for giving them the technical tools to be able to improvise at will.

 “None of this would be possible if that training wasn’t there,” says the Tabla Guy.

 “We may upset a few traditionalists, but that’s okay,” laughs Johnstone, who started violin lessons at age 3. “It’s nice to have a set of rules in order to bend them.”

 Most of the bending is done via laptop, which, Johnstone points out, is far more than a tool: “It’s an instrument when you can perform fluidly with it.”

 These two musicians, who now live a few blocks apart in Toronto, have only been performing together since January, when they met on stage at a CD launch party. They’re already working on their first album, which they hope to have ready by October.

 Although they are both are reluctant to call their beat-driven music club-oriented, that does describes much of their energy and sound.

 “We look at the pieces as pieces of art,” says Chana.

 Johnstone adds, “It’s just music — for people to connect with and have a good time.”

 The second annual What is Classical? festival at Harbourfront aims to blur the differences between cultures and nations by bringing together many performers, dancers and filmmakers from diverse backgrounds to create a weekend-long arts laboratory and showcase.

 There are notable Toronto performers on the bill, as well as special guests from other parts of the world, including the Orchestra Piazza Vittorio, which features 16 musicians from 11 countries and three continents. They are going to be performing their own take on Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute on Saturday night.

 The free, all-ages programming begins Friday night and runs to Sunday afternoon. A variety of craft workshops for kids includes lessons on how to make a paper tambourine and elementary stringed instruments. (Find all the details at www.harbourfrontcentre.com)

 JUST THE FACTS

 WHO: Gurpreet Chana & Mason Bach

 WHERE: Sirius Stage, Harbourfront, 235 Queens Quay W.

 WHEN: Friday, 9 p.m.

 ADMISSION: Free

‘Auntie Janet’ Talks Nieces, Nephews and Moving On

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 2, 2010) *In an interview with You magazine, Janet Jackson says she is ”moving on” from her brother Michael Jackson’s death last year, and is trying to enjoy life and look towards the future.

“There isn’t a day goes by even now that I don’t think about Michael, where we don’t all think about him,” she said. “But right now, I’m in a better space and I’m moving on with my life. At times it can be hard. But I’m growing and learning and loving. I’m enjoying my life very much and I’ve learned that life is precious.”

At 44, Janet says she still feels like a “kid inside” because of the amount of time spent with her younger colleagues and her 25 nieces and nephews.

“Yes, I’m 44 and enjoying many aspects of that. I like the feeling of maturity it gives me,” she said. “But at the same time, I feel a huge connection with, say, 20 year olds like the dancers I work with – we do a great deal of bonding.

“And a lot of my nieces and nephews are in their 20s, so we’re close,” she adds. “Maybe it’s the kid in them speaking to the kid in me. They’re young adults, still learning. They have that energy and love of life, and I think I still have that too.

“I get texts and emails all day long from them. Auntie Janet this and Auntie Janet that. I’m the aunt that they come to when they’re going to get in trouble. You know, ‘I just got a tattoo, or a piercing. And my dad saw it last night and he ants to choke me! Can you talk to him, Auntie Janet?”


 
Kevin Costner Returns To Play Scene Of Alberta Accident

Source: www.thestar.com

(August 01, 2010) EDMONTON—A year after some of his support crew was injured when a stage collapsed last year at an Alberta country music festival, actor and musician Kevin Costner admits that a ripple of nerves now goes through band members when the weather turns bad at outdoor gigs.

One woman was killed and 75 others were injured Aug. 1, 2009 when a freak wind storm plowed through an area near Camrose, southeast of Edmonton, collapsing the main stage at the Big Valley Jamboree.

Costner and his band Modern West were just about to take the stage when parts of the structure fell, and the horrifying aftermath has scarred them all, he said Friday.

“Whenever the wind has blown whenever we’ve been on an outside stage, I see them get a little edgy,” Costner said of his bandmates.

“They’ll hear a noise and they’ll look in a way they may not have a day earlier. So it has marked them and changed them.”

Costner and the band held a brief onstage ceremony to mark the event before playing Saturday with a moment of silence followed Amazing Grace.

Costner said Friday the memories of something he described as being like a “bad Godzilla movie” are still sharp.

The powerful winds ripped through the concert site last year with only a minute’s warning. Standing backstage then, as the wind began to pick up and the sky turned from blue to yellow, Costner remembers how quickly the chaos unfolded.

“The wind became an animal. You could see almost in slow motion, the big tarps started to move and something felt terribly, terribly wrong,” said Costner.

Suddenly, the stage came crashing down all around them and people were running everywhere — mirroring the make-believe chaos the famed director has seen during movie shoots.

He remembers raising his arms as a portion of the steel stage rigging and heavy netting material fell towards him and pinned him to the ground.

A friend narrowly escaped being impaled. After struggling out from under the debris, Costner saw his road manager cut up and covered in blood. He remembers trying to stop the flow of blood, holding his friend in his arms and thinking he might die.

“I realized how tenuous life is,” Costner said.

But the show must go on and the band thought it important to return to the event, he said.

Meanwhile Costner is also remembering his late Dances With Wolves co-star Maury Chaykin as “a really, really wonderful actor.”

Costner won Oscars for producing and directing the movie about a U.S. army lieutenant who comes to live with a group of Lakota Indians during the Civil War.

Chaykin, who died last week at the age of 61, had a small but well-received role as a slightly fey, insane major who presents Costner’s Lt. John Dunbar with his marching orders.

Valentina Lisitsa: International Woman Of Mystery

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green

(August 3, 2010) For one week during the World Cup, Valentina Lisitsa put a webcam in her practice studio in North Carolina. For 12 to 14 hours a day (her usual practice time), anyone could go to Ustream and watch the Ukrainian pianist labour over Beethoven sonatas and Rachmaninoff preludes. She thought maybe a handful of people would watch, but in the end her practice sessions were seen by 16,000 – the equivalent of nearly six sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall.

I found out about Lisitsa by seeing one of her videos on YouTube, a hair-raising tear through a Rachmaninoff etude (Op. 39, No. 6, “Little Red Riding Hood”). The video has been seen by nearly 900,000 people, many of whom must have wondered, as I did, where this blazing virtuoso has been hiding. Lisitsa plays the piece as if the outcome were a matter of life or death. She may be the most exciting pianist you’ve never heard of.

Unlike most people who put videos of their classical performances online, Lisitsa has a real concert career. She has played Wigmore Hall in London and the Musikverein in Vienna, has recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and toured widely last year with violinist Hilary Hahn. Lisitsa has two Chopin recitals at this year’s Festival de Lanaudiere (the second is Thursday) near Montreal, and a new recital disc on Naxos (out digitally on naxos.com, and on CD this fall).

She went on YouTube five years ago, because her life was in turmoil and every other channel was failing her. Her manager died, she became a mother and she and her partner Alexei Kuznetsoff moved to rural North Carolina to restore a ramshackle mansion big enough for her four concert grands (her specialty, she said, is Venetian plaster). She had too much of everything to do, except concerts to play. The steady stream of dates she had had since she and Kuznetsoff won the Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition in 1991 trickled to a halt.

“I used to think if I just give it my best, everything will work out,” Lisitsa told me on the phone last week in fluent, heavily accented English. “It was the fallacy of the better mousetrap, and it didn’t work.

“I thought, ‘Am I just going to perform for myself, or do something useful?’ I was ready to go work as a translator for the CIA. I filled out the application online, but I didn’t have the heart to press the Send button.”

Instead, she began promoting herself, both online and in her community. She played free concerts and launched her YouTube career as classical music’s international woman of mystery.

Eventually she got a new manager (at the same agency, Columbia Artists Management in New York) and her concert life revived. But the lesson of self-reliance she learned was not to be forgotten.

“One piece of luck was to hook up with Hilary [Hahn, the violinist],” she said. “I learned a lot about the business from her. At first I was kind of appalled. I was a real practice rat, just sitting practising for hours. I would see Hilary on the phone, talking to publicity people, and think, ‘When is she going to practise?’ ”

Following Hahn’s example, she pruned down her own abundant recital repertoire to a single program she could play in 40 or 50 places. It’s the program on her Naxos disc, minus a few Rachmaninoff preludes she used as a kind of opening salvo.

“People have certain prejudices about how a tall, blonde, female pianist will play,” she said. “For me, those preludes were like a slap in the face – like, ‘Okay, listen to me, and stop looking.’ ” More shocks were in store, during the high drama of her performance of Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata (which is on the disc), the sudden swerve into the reflective sweetness of Schumann’s Kinderszenen, and the eruption into flashy showpieces by Liszt and Sigismund Thalberg. Lisitsa wrote her own program notes, not the usual stuff about sonata form, but ironic mini-essays that linked the pieces to the social and personal upheavals going on when they were written.

She likes pianos of dark, dramatic character (in Lanaudiere, she’s playing a rare Steingraeber, made by the Bavarian company whose roster of past clients includesÖ Franz Liszt) and emotionally resonant pieces of whatever vintage, though her contemporary repertoire is slim. She would love to play more Mozart, but plans to steer clear of Bach “till later in my life, when I grow up. For now, my brain is running around too much in all direc-tions.” She’s planning to record all the Beethoven sonatas, as well as Chopin’s etudes, which she’ll tackle at a studio in Hamburg on Aug. 18 & and 19. The Ustream webcam will be running, “so people can see all the dirty business that goes on, wrong notes and everything.”She has several recordings in the bag already, waiting for some company to agree to release them. She’s not convinced that the record business as such will last much longer. From her secluded North Carolina mansion, built on a wide river in the salad days just before the market crash of 1929, Lisitsa has a good berth to ponder the ruin of expectations. But she also knows, better than ever, how to break through to an audience, one computer screen at a time.

Valentina Lisitsa plays Chopin at the Festival de Lanaudiere Thursday night. For full details, check lanaudiere.org

Will.i.am Doesn't Support New Jackson Album

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(August 3, 2010)  NEW YORK — A new Michael Jackson album is expected by the end of the year, culled from unreleased material in his vaults. But Jackson collaborator and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am is vehemently opposed to the idea.

“I don't think that should ever come out. That's bad,” he said. “He was a perfectionist and he wouldn't have wanted it that way. How you gonna release Michael Jackson when Michael Jackson ain't here to bless it?”

Will.i.am collaborated with Jackson on the rerelease of Thriller in 2008 with remixed versions of some of the album's classic songs. He said Jackson was very particular about all aspects of his musical productions, from his vocals to arrangements to instrumentation.

“Now that he is not part of the process, what are they doing? Why would you put a record out like that? Because he was a friend of mine, I just think that's disrespectful,” he said. “What's wrong with what he already contributed to the world?”

The Jackson estate did not respond to a request for comment.

When asked about the high demand for any new Jackson music, will.i.am replied: “So what? You don't disrespect someone when they're gone. ... How much can you suck from his energy? ... Freaking parasites!”

Not much is known about what will be on the album, but Michael's brother Jackie has said he and brother Marlon were working on the record with John McClain, Jackson's former manager and executor of his estate.

Kanye West Paints His Way Back Onto MTV

Source: www.thestar.com – Reuters

(August 04, 2010) Kanye West is “painting” a new picture on MTV Thursday, debuting a video he hopes will offer fans a better image of himself than the one he made at the network’s award show last year when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech.

 “It’s not a video . . . it’s a painting,” the rapper said of his new video, called “Power,” airing Thursday at 11 p.m.

 At MTV’s Video Music Awards in September 2009, West unexpectedly took to the stage of the live televised broadcast when country singer Swift won best female pop video. West grabbed the microphone from Swift’s hands and declared that R&B singer Beyoncé should have won instead.

 MTV never officially banned Kanye West from their studios after last fall’s VMA Awards, and the network continued to play his old videos. But since then, he has not debuted any new work on MTV, and there has been much speculation on music websites about whether the network would take him back.

 MTV’s head of music and talent, Amy Doyle, told Reuters “there’s no beef” with the rapper and that they have moved on.

 “We’ve always been supporters of his art and his music, and we’re excited to partner with him, whether it’s his new painting or new album,” said Doyle.

 Doyle said the new 90-second video does resemble “more of a living painting” and not a traditional video.

 “It’s up for interpretation, like any piece of artwork. It is provocative and will keep people talking,” Doyle said.

 And igniting fan buzz is one thing West does best.

 After last year’s dust-up at the VMA’s, fans and fellow musicians were outraged. Singer Kelly Clarkson called West “a sad human being,” while American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert wrote on his Twitter page, “Kanye needs to chill. He freaks out every year. It ain’t that deep, man.”

 West later appeared on a TV talk show to apologize, saying he would took some time off to “analyze how I’m going to make it through the rest of this life, how I’m going to improve.”

 Also on Thursday, MTV is premiering the new music video for Eminem and Rihanna’s single “Love the Way You Lie,” which airs two hours before Kanye’s.

 The two debuts follow a series of similar premiere videos on MTV earlier this year, from Justin Bieber’s “Never Let Go” and Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” to Muse’s “Resistance” and Maroon 5’s “Misery.”

 “I think this means that artists still want MTV to be the first place to introduce their music video, and it’s the loudest way to get the video out to fans,” said Doyle.

 Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” is also on the debut line-up and set to air next Tuesday.

MUSIC TIDBITS

No Sex Please, I’m Creatively Gaga

Source: www.thestar.com

(August 02, 2010) U.S. pop star Lady Gaga is known for her skimpy outfits and sexually charged performances, but she says she fears having sex with a partner could deplete her artistic energy. “I have this weird thing that if I sleep with someone they’re going to take my creativity through my vagina,” the performer said in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that was released Monday. Lady Gaga is not the only pop star to laud the value of abstinence, but she may be among the first to tout it as a boost to creativity. Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and American Idol-winner Jordin Sparks have all worn “promise rings” to symbolize a pledge of chastity until marriage. Even Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has become the face of an abstinence campaign after she became pregnant at the age of 16 and gave birth to a son. Lady Gaga is on the cover of the September issue of Vanity Fair. A photo spread of the “Poker Face” singer clad in little other than a rhinestone choker, accompanies the interview. Gaga also speaks about drug use and family.

Metric To Play Free Concert Outside Union Station

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(August 03, 2010) Hot Canadian rock band Metric will play a free concert outside Union Station on Wednesday night. Samsung Mobile announced the show on Tuesday without naming the band.  But a source within the band’s camp confirmed Metric was it. “It’s true. It’s all happening. It’s not really a big secret or anything.” And details of the event — going down at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Union Square Plaza — were leaked via Twitter and readily available online mere hours after Samsung started dropping hints on its own Twitter feed.  One clue read: “I wonder who this band is going to be? Is it The Beatles or could it be the Rolling Stones?” That brings to mind Metric’s hit song “Gimme Sympathy,” which includes the lyrics, “After all of this is gone / Who’d you rather be? / The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” Apparently, the only reason Metric’s identity was kept secret was to appease city officials worried that a giant crush of people would wind up on Front St. That will almost certainly be the case now that the cat’s out of the bag. Drivers, you’ve been warned.

Anthony Hamilton, Wife Expecting Twins

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 03, 2010) *The soulful Anthony Hamilton and his wife Tarsha are due a visit by the stork this fall. A rep for the singer tells UsMagazine.com that the couple is expecting twins in October. The couple recently hosted a baby shower, with guests that included “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino, the website reported. Anthony, 39, is already a father to sons Anthony Jr, 21, Romeiro, 19, and Tristen, 13.

Mary J. Blige Makes HSN History

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 03, 2010) *Over the weekend, Mary J. Blige did a Home Shopping Network first. She debuted her one of a kind fragrance, My Life and guess how many she sold? 50,000 bottles. This made the network’s fastest selling and most popular perfume to date, grossing about $2.7 million. In the past, it was Diddy’s fragrance that held the crown for most sales for his I Am King sent, but this weekend Blige took the thrown. She and the HSN weren’t the only ones to reap benefits from the sale. Blige’s foundation, FFAWN (Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now) was given $1 for every bottle, taking home $50,000. Fam!! We did it!! We broke records with My Life fragrance on HSN! And made history once again!!! 50K sold!!!” she tweeted. “Thank you so much!!!!!!! What an amazing support system!!!! You guys are the best!!!!!!… You saved so many lives and dreams tonight with your purchase!!! So many women will be getting the second chance they deserve!!! FFAWN…Thank You HSN for the love and support you showed me and my fam!!!!!! We really appreciate it!!!!!!”

Jazzy Jeff Married, Too

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 03, 2010) *Seems like this was the weekend of marriages. Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, T.I. and Tiny, and DJ Jazzy Jeff can be added to the list of newly weds. He posted on his Twitter: “Having a quiet moment reflecting on my life so far… I’m blessed beyond words and thankful for God bringing me a incredible life partner,” he wrote early Saturday morning. According to reports, he married Lynette Jackson in Jamaica on Friday. “Trying not to cry so soon… with all the most important people of my life here… and the perfect person to share the rest of my life with,” Jackson tweeted.

Photos: Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz’ Wedding

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 03, 2010) **Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz tied the knot over the weekend in Corsica. The ceremony was very low-key, with only family and close friends invited to a private home on the Mediterranean sea. The bride wore a Grecian-inspired dress designed by Vera Wang and carried a bouquet of purple calla lilies. The groom donned a Tom Ford tuxedo. Dr. Deepak Chopra presided over the nuptials. Scroll below for more of the first photos to have surfaced of Alicia, Swizz Beats, his son and Alicia’s mother:

:FILM NEWS::

The Toronto Haunts Michael Cera Loves

Source: www.thestar.com

(August 04, 2010) Tourism officials are hoping Michael Cera's upcoming comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will do for Toronto what Twilight has done for Forks, Wash., and Sex and the City has done for New York.

 Federal, provincial and municipal tourism agencies have teamed up with Universal Pictures to promote the new film, which is set in Toronto and features local hallmarks including Lee's Palace, Casa Loma and the TTC.

 They've launched a website, www.torontolovesscottpilgrim.com, that features a video podcast of Cera and co-stars Alison Pill and Jason Schwartzman talking about their favourite Toronto haunts, from the Royal Ontario Museum to Pizza Pizza, and a contest offering the chance to win a Scott Pilgrim-themed travel package.

 “Walking around the city, it just makes me feel really happy,” Cera says on the podcast.

 The initiative follows an explosion of tourists that have converged on the tiny town of Forks, where Stephenie Meyer's vampire book series is set, and the kitschy New York City bus tours that take fans to bars and stores featured in Sex and the City's TV episodes and movies.

 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the comic book series by former Toronto resident Bryan Lee O'Malley and centres on a slacker's quest to win the girl of his dreams.

 The film opens nationwide Aug. 13.

Robert Duvall Gets To Heart Of A Hermit

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(August 02, 2010)  Before he could get into the mindset of playing a hermit in Get Low, Robert Duvall had to act like one.

He did it, of all places, in the Andes Mountains in Argentina.

“It was a wonderful experience,” he recalled during the Toronto International Film Festival last September, where Get Low, opening Friday, premiered to acclaim.

“My wife and I spent last Christmas in northern Argentina, where she lived. And one little hotel has a window that faces the Andes.

“I would sit there and look at the mountains and study this part. It was so peaceful. It was ideal. So it was a wonderful journey from that to the rehearsal to the filming.”

The role he was assuming is Felix Bush, a codger with a secret who comes out of the Tennessee scrub to plan his own funeral by way of a public party. Bill Murray and Lucas Black play his undertakers/party organizers, while Sissy Spacek is a mysterious woman from Bush’s past.

It’s a great part for Duvall, drawing on his deep experience essaying flawed characters who summon empathy.

As he approaches 80, the age he’ll reach on Jan. 5, he’s busier than ever, even though his legacy as an actor is secure. How could he hope to top his performances in The Godfather II, Apocalypse Now, To Kill a Mockingbird or his Oscar-winning turn in Tender Mercies?

It doesn’t matter to him. He’s not thinking about awards, looking at the calendar or overly concerned about his career. He just likes to keep working.

Dressed for the interview in a brown leather coat over a black polo shirt, Duvall doesn’t even seem to feel the heat of a late summer day.

What does it take to get him to accept a role?

“A good part, like this,” he replied, without a moment’s hesitation.

“What a unique character (Felix). People I told about it, even hardened New Yorkers, said, ‘Wow! Ooh, that’s interesting!’ ”

Duvall punctuated his statement with a laugh. He was in his usual good mood, accompanied for the interview by director Aaron Schneider, the maker of an Oscar-winning short film (Two Soldiers) who steps up to features with Get Low.

Somewhat like the way Felix gruffly auditions Murray and Black in the film, Duvall summoned Schneider to his Byrnley Farm in Virginia to see if he wanted to work with him. “He didn’t audition me, we auditioned each other,” Duvall chuckled.

“He came back to my farm twice. Once, and then it kind of withered away for a year or two because they couldn’t raise the money. Then he came back again with a guy named Charlie (co-screenwriter C. Gaby Mitchell), who’s a southern writer/storyteller. He has that southern thing that put the final trimmings on it.”

There was no ego involved in any of it. Duvall doesn’t care how many films a director has made, as long as he trusts him.

“Well, he brought it to me and he knows what he’s doing, so I jumped in and did it,” he said.

Listen, sometimes you don’t want a 50-time director! A guy who’s done 50 films can be not great, if you know what I’m saying. It all depends on the project.”

Duvall had some experience playing a strange rural guy around the same time he took on Felix Bush. His other film at TIFF ’09 was John Hillcoat’s The Road, in which Duvall had a small role as a solitary drifter in a post-Apocalypse Pennsylvania.

He hadn’t seen The Road yet at the time of this interview, although he was planning to that very evening. The subject matter — mass destruction, societal breakdown and cannibalism — disturbed him.

“I hear it’s a good movie. It’s only an hour and a half because it’s so dark, you can’t take it. My wife (Luciana Pedraza, 42 years his junior) is not even going to go. It’s too violent for her.”

Duvall is a very charming fellow, although he’s played such forbidding characters in his 50-plus-year career, it’s hard not to view him with awe. Schneider naturally felt intimidated when he first began working with him.

“Of course I did! I still do!” Schneider laughed.

“All I’ve ever tried to do, any of us tried to do, from the start, was live up to what we knew he was capable of doing. That was the mantra.”

That was okay by Duvall, who is one of the lucky ones in Hollywood. The big studios are more interested in blockbusters than small characters pieces like Get Low, but he still gets loads of work in films like this.

His next project, according to the Internet Movie Database, will be playing legendary windmill tilter Don Quixote in Terry Gilliam’s long-gestating The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. It’s due out next year.

“There were so many great scripts in the old days,” Duvall said, sighing.

“It’s all about money now. The studios would rather do a $100 million movie than 10 movies costing $10 million apiece — and they know the $100 million movie is going to fail, anyway!

“And then the guy who made it gets fired and he rotates to somewhere else. It’s a strange rotation process in Hollywood. I just don’t understand it.”

He’s also not quite sure what to make of Get Low. It can be read in many different ways, but there’s a definite theme about coming to terms with your past.

“Maybe, maybe,” Duvall said, not sure if he agrees.

“I don’t think too much about that. I don’t know about message movies. We’re all going to die someday!

That’s the message!” he concluded, laughing again.

Sandra Bullock Leads Top-Paid Actress List

Source: www.thestar.com - Reuters

(August 03, 2010)  LOS ANGELES—Nobody would argue that 2010 has been an up-and-down year for Sandra Bullock, given her best actress Oscar for The Blind Side followed by her divorce from scandal-plagued husband Jesse James.

But Tuesday, Bullock landed atop Hollywood’s heap again when financial website Forbes.com named her the highest paid actress of the past 12 months having earned $56 million from two box office hits, romantic comedy The Proposal and football film The Blind Side.

Bullock not only received a fee for acting, but also participated in the profits, and for both films, the box office numbers were hefty, according to Forbes.com. The Blind Side took in nearly $310 million (U.S.) at global box offices on a budget of around $30 million, while The Proposal racked up just under $320 million and cost roughly $40 million.

Tied for the No. 2 spot were Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz, both making $32 million. Though Witherspoon has not been on screen since 2008, she received advance paychecks for upcoming films How Do You Know and Water for Elephants.

Diaz’s pot of gold was filled with money from the Knight and Day and Shrek films, which have grossed $2.8 billion at the global box office.

Jennifer Aniston came in at fourth place with $27 million, and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker was No. 5 at $25 million.

To determine actresses’ compensation, Forbes.com talked to talent agents, managers, producers and lawyers and looked at other means of revenue such as perfume and clothing lines and ad campaigns.

Forbes.com based its figures on earnings from June 2009 to June 2010. Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston were the highest paid actresses during a similar period one year earlier.

::TV NEWS::\

Martin Short Is One Cool Cat

Source: www.thestar.com - Cassandra Szklarski

(August 03, 2010) HUNTSVILLE, ONT.— Martin Short says he mixed a bit of insanity, friendliness and childlike frivolity to come up with his vocal take on the high-spirited Cat in the Hat, but don’t go looking for tell-tale signs of his other famous personas, such as the manic Ed Grimley or the obtuse Jiminy Glick.

 The Hamilton-born actor, who has used his outrageous vocals to create memorable characters such as outrageous wedding planner Franck in the Father of the Bride series, says he wanted to make his latest kooky incarnation as unique as possible, while still staying true to spirit of the Dr. Seuss books.

 Short’s twist on the beloved children’s hero can be heard in the new animated series The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!, billed as the first TV show based on the literary feline.

 “He’s got to be friendly and insane and animated and filled with a kind of childlike frivolousness to engage these kids,” Short said in a recent interview from southern Ontario’s cottage country, where he was spending the summer at a lakeside home.

 “You probably go from a source of energy, a source of animated voice, and you actually try to avoid the other characters because then they say, ‘Oh, he's just doing Ed Grimley.’ ”

 The Treehouse series is drawn from the beginner book collection, The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, and features a boy and a girl who learn about nature and science with the help of the know-it-all Cat.

 The 30-minute series kicks off with the Cat taking Sally and Nick to learn about the making of honey from a queen bee.

 Although it’s a Canadian co-production featuring Canadian kids as the inquisitive Sally and Nick, many of Short’s contributions were recorded in his adopted home of Los Angeles and while recently working in New York.

 Other episodes were recorded this summer as Short vacationed at his summer cottage, with a makeshift studio set up at a resort near Huntsville, Ont.

 The animation gig is a sharp turn from Short’s most recent TV role, playing a duplicitous lawyer on the Glenn Close legal thriller, Damages. The performance landed him an Emmy nomination.

 “I’ve had a nimble career, shall we say,” says Short, whose showbiz days began with the Canadian sketch series SCTV and off-the-wall characters on Saturday Night Live.

 Short, whose giddy Cat breaks out into song, heavy sighs and delighted giggles, jokes that his next gig is an advertisement for the urinary drug Flomax.

 “A variety of things, I think for me, keeps it interesting,” he says. “At a certain point in your career it’s not about paying rent anymore, the bigger pressure is trying to keep yourself interested.”

 “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!” debuts Saturday with back-to-back weekly episodes before moving Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in September.

Susan Boyle On ‘Glee’ Next Season?

Source: www.thestar.com - Lynn Elber

(August 03, 2010) BEVERLY HILLS - Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy thought he was being "punked" when a fan note arrived from Paul McCartney.

But Murphy discovered that the pop legend is an admirer of the hit Fox TV show and wants his music to be part of it. McCartney enclosed a mix of some of his tunes, including "Michelle," and asked Murphy to consider using them on the series about high school misfits in a glee club.

"I was gobsmacked. I grew up with that guy. So, of course, we are going to do something," Murphy told the Television Critics Association's summer meeting Monday.

The former Beatle won't be the only familiar name associated with Glee when it returns next season.
Susan Boyle, the unlikely Britain's Got Talent discovery, is in talks to be part of the Christmas episode, Murphy said.

Another hour will feature the songs of Britney Spears, and the show is wooing a "major" artist, whom Murphy wouldn't identify, for a tribute episode to air after the Super Bowl next year.

But Glee aims to be more intimate instead of "going bigger and overstuffing season two," said Murphy, also an executive producer on the show.

There will be a spotlight on some of the secondary characters, such as scheming cheerleaders Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris). The tribute episodes will be kept to just two or three and feature fewer songs.

The one saluting Madonna had nine numbers, Murphy said, "which is insane."

Glee isn't becoming a wallflower. The cast went on a sold-out tour, there's a "Glee" novel, titled, Glee: The Beginning, and Murphy said he hopes for publication of a Sue Sylvester autobiography — with Jane Lynch, who plays the sadistic cheerleading coach, going on tour in character to promote the book.

"I'm very proud of the merchandise," Murphy said. For every two items he approves, he said, he rejects 10 proposals.

Glee, which melds pop songs, high school hijinks and drama into an upbeat hour, is the leading nominee at the Aug. 29 Emmy Awards with 19 bids, including best comedy series and seven acting nods for its cast and guest stars.

Flashpoint Lets Toronto Actor Sergio Di Zio Live The Dream

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo

(August 04, 2010) If you’d asked the 9-year-old Sergio Di Zio what he wanted to be when he grew up, Flashpoint would have been the answer.

 “I played Batman with anybody willing to play Batman with me, Star Wars movies and all that,” says the 37-year-old actor. On Flashpoint, “we’re playing as close to superheroes without superpowers as you can get.”

 But the Canadian show about a team of emergency task force officers has gone beyond fulfilling a playground dream.

 It begins its third season Friday (10 p.m. on CTV) as a bona fide hit both here and in the U.S.

 “I think it surpassed anything really that the imagination would allow for in Canadian television, the fact that the Americans came on and we’re still getting these huge numbers even in the States,” Di Zio said.

 “It’s sort of a dream come true, only it came to Toronto, you know?”

 The series sees the fictional Strategic Response Unit, or SRU, tackle a different emergency each week, many taken from the headlines, and it is extremely Toronto-centric. It’s shot here and the plots incorporate local neighbourhoods and landmarks, like Maple Leaf Gardens or the Ontario Science Centre.

 It averaged 1.8 million weekly Canadian viewers on CTV in its second season; close to a million a week caught the summer reruns, about six million in the U.S. on CBS.

 The writers’ strike that idled U.S. production through late 2007 and early 2008 had a role in CBS picking up the pilot. But something has kept viewers coming back for more.

 Toronto native Di Zio credits the series’ blend of “the endorphin rush of non-stop action and adventure” with a realistic portrayal of the human beings involved in that action.

 “There are a lot of shows about bad cops. It’s good to have a show about good cops,” he said.

 The SRU members can and sometimes do use deadly force against the criminals they pursue, but Flashpoint doesn’t glorify that, he added.

 He cited one of his favourite episodes from the first season, based on a true story, about a police officer who barricades himself at headquarters with the intention of committing suicide surrounded by “all the pictures of all the cases and all the people he lost, and all the people he might have killed.”

 “There’s a cause and effect, you know, there’s this thing of ‘Oh well, the bad guy was killed and now the world’s all good,’ but you’ve got to realize there’s a person on the other side of that gun who did the killing and there’s going to be a reckoning regardless of how necessary it is.”

 Di Zio’s character, Michaelangelo “Spike” Scarlatti — like him, an upbeat Italian guy who grew up in Toronto — hasn’t yet had to pull the trigger, “but at some point it’s something he’ll have to deal with.”

 All of the series’ stars — including Hugh Dillon, Enrico Colantoni, David Paetkau, Amy Jo Johnson and Michael Cram — have been trained to handle firearms.

 In real life, the first time a young Di Zio fired a gun and killed a bird on a hunting trip with his father, “I locked myself in the car (and) I was vegetarian for a year or so later in life because of stuff like that.”

 Di Zio was also more likely to be “behind the portables with a cigarette” than doing sports as a teen, but he has to stay in top physical shape for Flashpoint.

 “We push each other,” Di Zio said of his fellow actors. “On occasion, David Paetkau, who plays Sam Braddock, and I have dropped down to see who can do more push-ups before takes.”

 Each episode takes seven days to shoot; they shot 13 episodes for the new season between January and June.

 After three seasons together, Di Zio said, the cast and crew have developed the kind of team dynamic they were only playing at when the series began.

 “Some days are very long and some days are very hard, and there are days where we get on each other's nerves, but . . . put it all together and it just creates this family.”

 Di Zio is grateful to remain in Toronto, where he can have a life outside of acting as well as a diversified career that includes film, stage and voice roles.

 “I’ve never been in a series personally that a) has been this successful and b) for this long,” he said.

 “The fact L.A. decided to come up here and help me live that part of the dream without me having to go down there is pretty sweet.”

::THEATRE NEWS::

Domestic Crusaders: Muslim-Themed Play Carries Universal Message

Source: www.thestar.com - Noor Javed

(July 30, 2010) Wajahat Ali is, by his own admission, an accidental playwright.

Nearly a decade ago, the California-based lawyer wrote up a skeleton of a play for a school assignment when he was 21. Fast forward to the present, and it has gone on to be lauded by the likes of award-winning authors Toni Morrison and Yann Martel, critically acclaimed as an off-Broadway production, and up for publication by McSweeney’s this fall.

Such is the story of
Domestic Crusaders, a two-act play that will have its Canadian premiere at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga this weekend as part of MuslimFest, a festival celebrating Islamic art and culture.

The play, written in the context of post 9-11 America, centres around the lives of a Pakistani-American family grappling with the reality of maintaining culture, religion and family expectations in a changing world.

Yet it could be the story of any family, says Ali in a phone interview.

“I always wrote the play for a universal audience,” says Ali, who lives in Fremont, Calif, but will be in Mississauga for the production. “It is just being done from a vantage point, a cultural lens, that is rarely heard from and rarely seen.”

The idea was conceived when Ali, a student at the University of California at Berkeley in 2001, was told he had to write a play to pass a short story class. He finished the assignment, and took another two years to finish the entire script. His professor, writer Ishmael Reed, loved it.

“I had no idea what the hell I was doing,” he says. “I thought I would give it to him, and he would just laugh at me. What did I know about playwriting?”

Instead Reed, and his wife Carla Blank, became Ali’s mentors, helping him to develop the play and organize the first stage reading at an Indian restaurant in California, and eventually productions at Berkeley Repertory Theater and San Jose State University.

But then his small-time success hit a roadblock.

While producers and theatre directors praised his play in secret, they pushed him to change the script to make it more suitable for the mainstream. One director suggested Ted Danson play the role of the Pakistani father in a Hollywood production of the play. Not surprisingly, Ali said no.

Then came the breakthrough he was praying for. Last year, the play premiered at the historic Nuyorican Poets Café in New York on the anniversary of 9/11. It garnered a pile of positive reviews, and it broke a box-office record at the theatre, selling out its five-week run. The same cast will be in Mississauga this weekend.

There are few — if any — Muslim playwrights in North America who have managed to break into North America’s theatre scene. The success of Domestic Crusaders has been its ability to reach out to audiences of all backgrounds.

“Our success lies in the fact that we always had one foot in the community and one foot in the mainstream,” says Ali. “Most artists have a ‘for us, by us’ mentality. Ours has always been ‘by us, for everyone’ mindset.”

Despite the success of the play, Ali admits he is constantly mired in doubt about his unconventional career path in a community that tends to value doctors, engineers and lawyers (although he too got a law degree as a backup plan).

But re-sparking artistic creativity within the Muslim community is one of the reasons why he is motivated to take his success with playwriting full-time.

“You want this play to inspire that kid who shouldn’t be a doctor but, because of pressure from his parents or the community, is paralyzed to pursue his real dream of becoming a writer or an artist,” he says. “And slowly, bit by bit, help contribute to an artistic renaissance in which we take off our blinders, get our heads out of the sand, and bust out of our cultural cocoons.”

Domestic Crusaders runs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Living Arts Centre. Tickets can be purchased for $15 (which includes the festival day pass) at www.muslimfest.com

'Cheers' Star Norm Headlining At Charlottetown Fest

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(August 3, 2010)  CHARLOTTETOWN — Islanders, get out your pint glasses and hairspray: Norm is coming to town.

George Wendt, best known for his work as Norm on the sitcom Cheers, will be starring as Edna Turnblad in the Charlottetown Festival's fall production of Hairspray.

This is Wendt's second time donning Edna's housecoat. He previously played the role on Broadway in 2008.

When asked why he chose to reprise the role, Wendt said it was a combination of “an amazing role and a beautiful piece.”

“(The festival) just called my agent, and I was thrilled ... and I responded right away,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

“It's an amazing show. I can't stress that highly enough,” he aid from Charlottetown, where he stopped for a quick visit on his way to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Wendt will return to Prince Edward Island in mid-August for rehearsals, and stay until the show closes Oct. 9.

Wendt, who has never visited Atlantic Canada, said he's looking forward to an extended stay on the island.

“I'm thrilled to just enjoy it and not be like a total tourist,” he said.

Wendt was only in Charlottetown for a brief time Tuesday, but said he was hoping to get an occasional day off during rehearsals to tour the island.

Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a teenager in 1960s Baltimore who transforms practically overnight from social outcast to local celebrity.

The role of Tracy's mother, Edna, is traditionally played in drag, and has previously been filled by such marquee actors as John Travolta and Harvey Fierstein.

In addition to his celebrated role on Cheers, Wendt has seen considerable stage time: 20 years ago, he appeared in a couple of musicals including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

In recent years, he has acted in Yasmina Reza's “Art” on Broadway and a touring production of “12 Angry Men” in London's West End.

He said he hoped to return to Broadway later this fall, but couldn't offer any more hints, saying it wasn't quite a done deal yet.

The news of Wendt's turn on the stage comes less than a month after another star visit to the Island. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa filmed four episodes of their hit morning show in Charlottetown in mid-July, which sparked enormous buzz about the province.

Hairspray will run at the Charlottetown Festival from Sept. 8 to Oct. 9.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Getting an iPhone 4? Play these games

Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman

(July 30, 2010) If you’ve already picked up the new iPhone 4 smartphone, or hope to, keep in mind many of its new features can benefit gamers on the go. There’s a much better display (four times the resolution and contrast compared to previous models), an integrated gyroscope to compliment the accelerometer (for six-axis motion control); plus a longer battery and faster Wi-Fi.

And no, we didn’t encounter any reception issues with Apple’s latest smartphone.

The following are recommended games that take advantage of the iPhone 4’s updated specs. All titles are available at the iTunes App Store (itunes.ca).

Pigskin perfection

Using the iPhone 4’s “Retina” display – given its name because its pixel density is so high the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels – EA Mobile’s NCAA Football ($6.99) is one of the best-looking HD games on the platform. Play as or against more than 55 collegiate teams – or create your own with unique uniforms, school colours, stadiums, player and team names, and choose your own fight song from your iTunes playlist. Then take your team all the way to the BCS National Championships. Use your finger to draw plays, listen to broadcast commentary and go head-to-head against a nearby friend via a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Hey, big shooter

In Gameloft’s N.O.V.A.: Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance ($4.99), you play as a retired Marine hero, Kal, who is reluctantly re-enlisted to fight for humankind’s survival against aggressive aliens. Played from an immersive first-person perspective, the 3D action takes place in multiple environments, ranging from spaceships to dense jungles to a bustling alien city. With more than a half-dozen high-tech weapons at your disposal (plus superhuman powers), you can tackle the 12-part solo campaign or create a free account to log online and indulge in multiplayer modes with up to three others. Along with enhanced graphics, the game makers added gyroscopic support to better control the action by tilting the iPhone 4 in various directions.

A puzzling pick

If you prefer a slower-paced, deeper-thinking game experience, Secret Exit’s Zen Bound 2 Universal ($2.99) is a relaxing yet challenging game of stone, wood and rope. While listening to the original 45-minute musical score (or your own tunes), use the iPhone 4’s gyroscope and accelerometer to rotate the smartphone and “wrap” the rope around various objects to reach the assigned length, while at the same time “colouring” the objects on all sides. More than 100 increasingly difficult levels are here, including all levels from the original Zen Bound, plus new gameplay modes with paint bombs.

::SPORTS NEWS::

St. Mike’s Lineman Scary Combination Of Brains And Brawn

Source: www.thestar.com – David Grossman

(July 27, 2010) Judge Derek Wiggan.

 It has a nice ring to it and if the graduating St. Michael’s College School athlete gets his way, one day he hopes to see himself decked out in a robe making decisions to protect the community.

 Wiggan, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman with the mid-town Toronto private school, is also a pancake lover — he likes to dish them out too.

 “I love hitting quarterbacks and knocking down guys who get in my way,” said the muscular 17-year-old and two-time Toronto Star all-star on the gridiron. “Pancakes are great to eat, but pancaking a guy on the football field is just as good for me if it means getting to the ball carrier.”

 Highly recruited for his football talent, Wiggan is a four-time member of the St. Michael’s academic honour roll. Both helped get him accepted at Queen’s University in Kingston, home of the defending Vanier Cup champs.

 Awards mean a great deal to Wiggan, including his latest as senior athlete of the year — a citation not easily won at a school that has produced many outstanding athletes in a variety of sports over the years.

 While Wiggan has been on back-to-back Metro Bowl championship teams, he’s quite clear about his latest goal: filling the spot vacated by Shomari Williams who was the top draft pick by Saskatchewan in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft.

 “My goal is to start in his former spot because there’s nothing wrong with setting a target on being the best,” said Wiggan, who is also a shot-put champ, reads science fiction books and wears red gloves in games for no other reason than to be different.

 Wiggan, who claims his biggest problem was finding a black pinstripe suit that fit for graduation, trains two hours a day, four times a week and was introduced to the sport in Grade 8.

 Joining Wiggan from the regions of Durham and Halton, as well as private schools and those affiliated with the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association, were 204 athletes recognized for their dedication, leadership and contribution to sport.

 In the GTA, 649 student athletes received a mixture of citations, plaques and trophies from their respective schools

 Among them was three-time Toronto Star hockey all-star goalie Stef Nehring, sensational in net for the Monsignor Paul Dwyer Saints from Oshawa. Losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in overtime in the Ontario gold medal game, she’s returning for a semester and might end up next year at Wilfrid Laurier University.

 Running back Aaron Milton got the award for a fourth time at Sinclair Secondary in Whitby. He was the Celtics football MVP and chosen to Canada’s under-17 rugby squad. Milton is off to the University of Toronto.

 Not only was honours student Aurora Kennedy the hockey MVP at St. Mildred’s Lightbourn School in Oakville, she was invited to the Canadian national under-18 selection camp, helped her school win back-to-back hockey titles and has been accepted to the Ivy League’s Yale University.

 Two Burlington athletes, Natalie Jurisevic from Assumption and Chris Pezzetta at Notre Dame, were among the stars in Halton Region.

 Soccer was the big word in the vocabulary of Jurisevic, a multiple winner of her school’s physical education award of merit. An MVP this past season, she played on the school’s senior team back in Grade 9 and has accepted a scholarship to the University of Buffalo. Pezzetta, a running back on the Golden Horseshoe Bowl football championship team and provincial bronze medallist in lacrosse, returns to Notre Dame in the fall.

A-Rocket: Yankee Hits Milestone 600th Homer Off Jays

Source: www.thestar.com – Morgan Campbell

(August 04, 2010) NEW YORK—For two games Blue Jay pitchers joined a growing list of hurlers who managed to stand between Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez and his 600th career home run, not even allowing him a hit as he entered Wednesday’s series finale.

 But then he stepped in against Jays starter Shaun Marcum and took a pair of fastballs inside to run the count to 2-0, waiting for a pitch he could drive.

 Behind the plate, Jays catcher John Buck signalled for a pitch and Marcum, on cue, delivered a cut fastball.

 Except it didn’t cut.

 And instead of veering toward the outside corner the pitch hung over the heart of the plate, where Rodriguez launched it to straightaway centre field.

 Vernon Wells turned to chase it but could only watch it sail over the fence and land in the mesh that protects the monuments to Yankee legends more than 420 feet from home plate.

 The milestone home run was Rodriguez’s first in 12 games and snapped a hitless streak that had stretched to 17 at-bats. And despite the hype that had surrounded Rodriguez since he hit home run number 599, the Yankee third baseman says he was simply looking to make solid contact when he belted 600.

 “Just let me drive in a run, get a base hit, hit it hard somewhere,” Rodriguez said afterward. “When I think small, big things happen.”

 Very big.

 Rodriguez hit his 600th homer in his 2,267th career game — only Yankee legend Babe Ruth reached the milestone sooner, hitting 600 in 2,044 games. And at 35, Rodriguez is the youngest player to join the 600 club.

 Rodriguez, of course, didn’t cross the 600 home run threshold without controversy.

 Last February it was revealed that he was one of the 104 major league players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. Baseball didn’t punish players for steroid use back then but that round of positive tests prompted the league and union to establish the doping protocols in place today.

 Eventually Rodriguez admitted that between 2001 and 2003 he cycled on and off an anabolic steroid called Primobolan.

 “A stupid mistake,” Rodriguez said during a February 2009 news conference during which he provided details about his steroid use.

 Maybe, but the three seasons he admits to using steroids were also his most productive. Rodriguez, who will earn $32 million this season, has averaged 36.44 home runs over his 16-year career, but 52 during that three-season stretch.

 After the game Rodriguez told reporters that he hoped his current success could help erase the stain his steroid use threatens to place on his legacy.

 “Over the last two years I’ve done my best to walk the walk,” Rodriguez said. “I have time in front of me to do things the right way.”

 And he still has time to cash in on milestone homers.

 During a post-game news conference, Rodriguez said that while his main priority is winning titles, the most important home runs for him are the ones that vault him past the six players ahead of him on the all-time list.

 Rodriguez’s contract with the Yankees pays him $275 million over 10 years, but also offers a $6 million bonus each time he passes one of baseball’s career home run leaders.

 Meanwhile, Marcum didn’t buy into the 600 home run hype.

 “It’s just another (home run) on my stats, so it’s no big deal,” Marcum said. “It’s a great accomplishment for him but I’m not worried about him hitting 600 home runs. I’m more concerned with us losing the game.”

Shaquille O’Neal signs with Celtics for 19th season

Source: www.thestar.com – Howard Ulman

(August 04, 2010) BOSTON—The Big Three of the Boston Celtics are now a Very Big Four.

 The Eastern Conference champions signed seven-foot-one, 325-pound
Shaquille O’Neal on Wednesday, adding the 15-time all-star to a team needing his size with centre Kendrick Perkins recovering from knee surgery that could sideline him until February.

 The deal with the free agent centre is for two years and about $3 million, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said on condition of anonymity because no details were released.

 O’Neal joins the other three big names — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — on a team that went to the seventh game of the NBA finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, Boston signed centre-forward Jermaine O’Neal.

 Point guard Rajon Rondo will also be coming off an outstanding post-season.

 “I am honoured to be joining the Celtics,” O’Neal said in a statement issued by the club. “I have played against Paul, Ray, Kevin, Rajon, and Jermaine for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship.”

 The Celtics won their NBA-high 17th championship in 2008. O’Neal has won four NBA titles.

 “It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille’s calibre to your team,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in the statement. “His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster.”

 After the season, the Celtics re-signed Pierce for four seasons and Allen for two and signed Jermaine O’Neal for two. Garnett also has two years left on his deal.

 Shaq, the top pick in the 1992 draft by Orlando, averaged 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 53 games for Cleveland last season.

 He is the fifth leading scorer in NBA history with 28,255 career points and is 14th in rebounds with 12,921. He has averaged 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.