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July 15, 2010

Hello again all!  Isn't this weather fabulous?  OK, so perhaps I'm spoiled by living and working in an air-conditioned environment but I'm really enjoying the sun on most weekends.  What a difference to last summer in Toronto!  I officially declare this, the summer of DAWN! 


Want to save yourself a scroll?  Click on your favourite topic on the right hand column. 


Did you get a chance to check out the new TV series on W Network, Big Voice?  (If you didn't, you can tune in next Tuesday, July 20th at 8:00 pm.)  I'm telling you, Elaine Overholt  DELIVERED on Tuesday night.  It's based on a reality format, and it revealed the strength of what music, singing and Elaine's magic and motivation can do for one's esteem and performance technique.  It was moving to me how someone's fears are intertwined with their voice and movement.  Kudos to the concept as well as the delivery!

Have to give it up to Lyfe Jennings and his newest track 'Statistics' ... put your headphones on and have a listen.  Ladies, this was written as a cautionary tale, for those that are still finding their way. 

Thanks to the
Just For Laughs family, I attended a couple of the featured events, including Wayne Brady and

Russell Peters.  Both comics killed their respective nights with Brady's artistic genius, in comedy, in music and in improv but the hometown favourite Russell Peters topped his night and wins the fan favourite award for knowing, honouring and poking fun at his audience.  He even took to the turntables at the afterparty at Hard Rock Cafe! 
And high on the
FACTOR, is Usher's newest video!  Boyfriend's been in the gym!  Check it out under MUSIC TIDBITS!

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


Big Voice Sings On W Network – Tuesday, July 20 and 27, 2010

Source:  www.mediaincanada.com - by Melita

A vocal coach who has worked to strengthen the pipes of celebrities like Renée Zellweger and John Travolta is helping train women in the GTA in a new series for the W Network, debuting this July.
Elaine Overholt, who has an impressive resume and has even helped train a few Oscar winners for their roles in musicals like Chicago,  puts her skills to the test in Big Voice, a 30-minute series produced by W Network and Toronto-based Lenz Entertainment. Each week, a team of experts - stylists, choreographers and photographers - gives a performance makeover to a woman who aspires to sing on the stage of a nightclub or to sing a duet with a celebrity.

BIG VOICE with Elaine Overholt - Series Premiere on The W Network

What would happen if
Elaine Overholt's* passion and teaching techniques were passed along to everyday women who always dreamed of performing, but lacked either the confidence or the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, be it big or small?

BIG VOICE produced by Lenz Entertainment, takes these everyday women on an incredible journey, that begins with 5 weeks of vocal boot camp and culminates on stage, where they face their fears and live their dream.

Watch the series premiere on The W Network:

Tuesday July 13, 2010 8-10pm - 4 episodes
Tuesday July 20, 2010 8-10pm - 4 episodes
Tuesday July 27, 2010 7:30-10pm - 5 episodes

Note from Dawn: I’ll always remember watching the Golden Globes when Richard Gere thanked Elaine Overholt PERSONALLY for being his vocal coach during the filming of the movie 'Chicago'!

to a woman who aspires to sing on the stage of a nightclub or to sing a duet with a celebrity.


Spain The Soccer Kings Of The World

Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Young

(July 12, 2010) JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—Seventy-five minutes before a global championship was decided, the international face that delivered this first World Cup in South Africa appeared to rapturous applause at Soccer City Stadium, not all that far from where he once called home in the township of Soweto.

For a few moments, as long as it took the golf cart to ferry him to midfield and back in what amounted to a drive-by wave, 91-year-old icon Nelson Mandela provided the final piece to a World Cup that was already historic but turned poignant and pointed.

Madiba was in the house — just a week ahead of birthday No. 92 — and all was finally in place for Spain to claim its first World Cup title three hours later with a 1-0 extra-time win over the Netherlands.

Andres Iniesta’s thrilling 116th-minute goal finished the job for the 2008 European champions. But it was the frail Mandela’s appearance, after he had been forced to cancel an opening-night showing one month ago due to the tragic death of his great-granddaughter Zenani, that brought the sellout Soccer City crowd of 84,000-plus to its feet in full throat and vuvuzela.

To be honest, the game itself wasn’t that kind of epochal affair, with referee Howard Webb of England handing out a record 14 yellow cards and one red card to Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga — the main advantage for Spain in setting the stage for Iniesta’s winner.

But as the tournament’s infamous Jabulani ball struck the back of the net, this was all about coming full circle.

Spain began this tournament as the favourite, the pass-crazy Euros seeking to become the first side since then-West Germany 36 years ago to add a World Cup title to a trophy case holding its continental championship.

They had never finished higher than fourth at a World Cup and that came eons ago in 1950. They lost their opener to Switzerland, looking skittish in the process, then reeled off six straight wins on their way to the winner’s circle.

Then there was Mandela — six years removed from popping up in Zurich to charm FIFA’s besuited elite after a bitter defeat to Germany for the 2006 World Cup. Mandela secured this event for South Africa, and for Africa, 16 years after democracy was hatched here and two decades on from the historic moment he toured Cape Town to adoring crowds, free at last after 27 years in prison for being the face of resistance to the apartheid regime.

The world saluted them both with parties in Madrid and Barcelona, at Soccer City, and in outlying places such as Amsterdam, where the canals were full of boats and barges hoping in vain for Holland’s first title — even Toronto, where the World Cup is an occasion for a block party, one community at a time.

Credit Mandela and Iniesta, Spain’s 26-year-old creator, for providing the spark to this last final blowout, and occasionally blow-up party. Heitinga’s second yellow was surpassed only by Nigel De Jong’s studs-up hoof to the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso that somehow escaped Webb’s automatic thumbs-down, one of a number of nasty moments on the pitch.

The Barcelona midfielder Iniesta provided the escape from all that. Iniesta was freed in the box by a pass from sub Cesc Fabregas and he made no mistake after a night full of them, beating Maarten Stekelenburg with a low shot to the far post.

“It’s hard to put into words how it feels to win a World Cup,” Iniesta said afterward. “To win it, that was amazing. It didn’t come easy and I still can’t believe it.”

For this entire month, Spain scored eight goals in seven matches, six of them wins. No World Cup winner has lifted the trophy with skimpier production.

While South America appeared to be in the ascendancy, it was Europe and especially Spain that was there at the end — right where they were supposed to be.

They may infuriate with their theatrics. They may make you yell “Shoot, already!” when they finally appear in the box. (Moments before he finally ended the stalemate, Iniesta was right there and all that he needed was a side-footer, but instead he tried to put it on his left and frittered away a prime chance.)

They may operate with a certain insouciant swagger, their margin for error tight as the minutes tick on and still they’re out there, running and passing, running and passing, running and waiting for a goal they seem to know is coming from somewhere. Sure enough, it arrived.

Fabio Cannavaro, the beating defensive heart of that 2006-winning Italy side, brought out the World Cup trophy, giving it a final kiss before retiring to stand by and watch some idiot rush on and try to knock it off the pedestal.

Instead, he was tackled by an official and dragged down the tunnel.

It’s going to be hard to treat these Spanish with the same kind of disdain. Many of La Roja’s key parts are young and in their prime.

Chief organizer Danny Jordaan, looking on with a host of dignitaries and celebrities, which included former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Charlize Theron, Rafael Nadal and Mandela’s portrayor Morgan Freeman, tried to put the event into a historical context.

“There is a legacy,” said Jordaan. “Just 20 years ago we were a society entrenched on a racial basis by law. Black and white could never sit together in stadiums, go to the same school or play in the same football team. ... There’s something this World Cup has brought: nation-building and social cohesion. People walked tall. They were very proud of this country.

“So that was a psychological barrier the nation has crossed. The world is saying this may be the best ever World Cup — and this was an African World Cup.”

Ellen Page: Keeping It Real In Tinseltown

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Gayle MacDonald

(July 10, 2010) When Paul Gross was filming Wilby Wonderful, he slipped into a crowded room to catch a scene with Ellen Page – the then-16-year-old Haligonian with whom he shared very little screen time, but had been hearing a lot about.

“I remember watching her work, and being utterly mesmerized, thinking she’s one in a million,” says Gross. “Such a rarity. An absolute natural. And I remember also thinking ‘I can’t wait to see how her career unfolds.’

Pretty darn well.

So well, in fact, it sounds almost apocryphal: First there were those juicy roles in psychologically wrought indie films – The Tracey Fragments, Hard Candy, An American Crime. Then came the kudos (that nice Oscar nom for Juno) and the celeb BFFs (Drew Barrymore, for one, who recruited her for Whip It). And, yes, she’s even done the superhero thing as a five-foot-nothing Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand.

This summer, seven summers after shooting with Gross in Shelburne, N.S., comes
Inception. It was filmed in six cities – from Tokyo to Tangiers – for a nice little budget of $160-million. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine. The director: Chris (Batman) Nolan. Touted as a thriller set in “the architecture of the mind,” it features Page as an architecture student recruited to join a corporate espionage team that infiltrates billionaires’ dreams.

She crafts the dreamscapes.

Still, none of this seems to faze the girl from Hal Town, as she calls it. She’ll now suffer the red-carpet thing in a black dress. She’s moved on to Los Angeles. (When we speak, she’s rifling through boxes in her latest apartment there.) But for the most part, she refuses to play the celebrity game, and is rarely snapped by the paparazzi. As the ever-articulate 23-year-old insists, “The quality most important to me, in the films I make, is honesty.”

So much actor-speak, one might assume. Except that she’s credited by a slew of directors – Nolan, as well as Canadian directors Bruce McDonald and Daniel MacIvor, to name a few – for always showing up with her A-game.

For all the raves, though, the pint-sized Page says she’s a bundle of nerves before the cameras start rolling. “I feel as if I have forgotten how to do it, or that I have been pulling the wool over peoples' eyes,” she says with a chuckle. “Typically, though, I come around, and realize I need to forget about myself, and ego, and just dive in.”

She has certainly got solid experience. Acting since age 10 – her debut role was in the Canadian-made TV series Pit Pony – Page has chosen parts that might make other actors cringe: castrating a pedophile in David Slade’s Hard Candy; starving herself to play a young girl who is starved to death in An American Crime (prompting director Tommy O’Haver to beg her to eat).

But even since the big studios came calling after her Oscar moment, Page says she chooses projects, big and small, that have that integral honesty. A message. A heart. A soul.

And Inception is no exception to her rule. For all the blockbuster hype, this is an intellectual thriller. Her character, Ariadne, appeals to Page because the woman is plucky, smart and an equal match for an all-guy team of corporate spies led by DiCaprio.

“She is intelligent and ambitious, and has this innate intellectual curiosity that I am jealous of,” says Page, who tends to speak quickly. “Oh, and she is pretty brave – and I am a chicken.”

Nolan, who also wrote this film, disagrees about that last part.

“It was very important to me that there be a conduit for the audience – a character who is being shown this world for the first time and is eager to explore it,” he says. “When I met Ellen, she had the perfect combination of freshness, and savvy and a maturity beyond her years. She is an extraordinary performer with incredible creativity and an innate curiosity of her own, and therefore naturally infused Ariadne with those qualities.”

She kicks butt, too. The stunts and special effects – which take place everywhere from a skyscraper in Tokyo to Fortress Mountain in Calgary to the picturesque streets of Paris and London – have wowed audiences at early screenings. And Page, who gets knocked around pretty good, says she had a blast doing her own stunts.

“I just really enjoy the challenge, and feeling outside my comfort zone,” says the self-described tomboy (who did stunts as a roller-derby queen in Whip It). “I guess the most difficult part of Inception, for me, was being up in the mountains in Alberta, because I got pretty affected by altitude. Not to mention, it was damn cold.”

Having Nolan managing the action helped. “He is just so freaking talented and creates a comfortable environment on set,” she says. “Despite the scale of this production, and days where so much was going on, he always found time for every actor. He wants every moment to be honest.”

That word again. It’s an ideal that comes up when Page gushes about her co-stars, too: Cotillard “just breathes authenticity”; DiCaprio “proved you could be a ‘young stud’ and an artist.”

Blame all this realness, this groundedness on her East Coast upbringing, perhaps. Or her parents, a teacher and a graphic designer.

“Ellen is one of those rare actors who doesn’t manufacture – she exposes,” says the Cape Breton-born MacIvor, who directed her as a teenager in Wilby Wonderful. “She manages to show something of herself inside these characters, which makes them totally believable. I think a lot of her success has to do with her natural ability, combined with her upbringing and education as well.”

McDonald, who filmed Page in The Tracey Fragments, agrees. “Ellen commits herself wholly and completely to a part,” he says. “She is a great collaborator who is not only able to see her part in the movie, but she’s able to see the whole story. Plus, she’s a sweetheart and a charmer.”

MacIvor points out yet another thing that Page – unlike scores of other young actors (we mean you, LiLo) – just intrinsically gets right. “You don’t find out a lot of stuff about her personal life, or see pictures of her coming out of bars. She’s clearly not caught up in this ridiculous wave of celebrity. She takes her work seriously, and has a social conscience.”

It sounds plausible. In the middle of showbiz interviews, Page plugs books like Eaarth by Bill McKibben: “It talks about the impact of climate change completely and honestly.” (Yes, yes, that word.)

To unwind, she likes to relax with close friends, take long walks, camp.

And now that she’s done her latest round of projects – a TV show for HBO called Stitch N’ Bitch; another dark comedy called Super, where she plays a girl named Libby who is a “socio- hinging on the psychopath”; and an HBO pilot called Tilda with Diane Keaton – she hopes to head home to Halifax “to enjoy some Nova Scotian summer.”

“The bottom line is, my life is pretty boring,” she says. “I don't go out much. For me, going out is a personal event and triumph, and it’s usually for a concert or something. I just am myself, which is low-key.”

A Man Who Loves Horror, Hockey And The Holy Grail

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Jennie Punter

(July 11, 2010) After several years knocking around on TV, Montreal actor Jay Baruchel made a serious big-screen move as a boxing hopeful in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby (2004) and, since then, has killed in comedies such as Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up and Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. This year the 28-year-old graduated to leading man with his intense and hilarious turn as a revolutionary high-school senior in fellow Montrealer Jacob Tierney’s The Trotsky. Last Wednesday, Baruchel was bubbling like an alchemist’s cauldron about the Canadian premiere of his latest film, Disney fantasy thriller The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival (which Baruchel, the horror fan, has been attending for more than a decade). The actor’s geeky good looks, book smarts and improv chops serve him well as Dave Stutler, a physics nerd who reluctantly agrees to be mentored by Nicolas Cage’s veteran magic-man. Recently Baruchel riffed on the joys of working with Cage, the pressure of re-imagining a role originated by Mickey Mouse (in the famous sequence of Disney animation classic Fantasia) and his future plans.

Were you up on Sorcerer’s Apprentice lore?

I knew the [1797] Goethe poem [Der Zauberlehrling] and the most iconic sequence in film history, but what I was most acquainted with is Arthurian legend. This film is [Cage’s] baby and he’s obsessed with early English mythology, the Grail cycle and Excalibur, as am I.

So you were cast early on?

Yes. I worked for [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer on a TV show called Just Legal with Don Johnson, probably the only Jerry show that never got picked up. I guess I made an impression, but the director Jon Turteltaub [National Treasure] didn’t know me, so I went in to read and soon after became the sorcerer’s apprentice.

Tell us about Dave on the page versus Dave played by Jay.

My blood is in every character I play. So Dave is an uber-nerdy version of me. I look at the character on the page like a drawing in a colouring book and come up with stuff fill it out. To the filmmakers’ credit, even though we’re making this $150-million movie in six months, every day time was set aside for Nic and me to riff.

So working with Cage was a kick?

It was abundantly clear from the first time we met, a table reading of the script, that we had a rapport. Our acting comes from the same place. Nic would call us “jazz actors” because we went off page to find our own way into things. We are cut from the same weirdo cloth.

What about your characters’ evil foils, Alfred Molina and Toby Kebbell?

For a guy so tall and distinct, Alfred has that chameleon ability to transform himself for every role. And Toby I knew from one of my favourite movies, Dead Man’s Shoes. I thought it was hilarious the two good guys in Sorcerer’s Apprentice are North American and the baddies are Brits. It’s like 1776 all over again.

Were there physical challenges?

My favourite thing is physical comedy, so this was like Christmas. I had the training sequences and the scene where I’m electrocuted by Tesla coils – which I approached with such reckless abandon I thought I gave myself scoliosis.

The set-up of the scene based on Fantasia works pretty well, with Dave cleaning up his lab before the pretty girl shows up.

I was thrilled at the prospect but also scared. One misstep and I could have ruined it, so I approached my preparation with almost religious reverence. We shot the scene over five days, knee-deep in water, with [composer Paul] Dukas’s music playing the whole time and a bunch of production assistants dressed in green suits playing with mops. It was surreal.

You star in Tierney’s next film, Good Neighbours. What’s the scoop – is it similar to The Trotsky?

Trotsky goes down smooth and this one is chunky clam chowder. It’s a super-compelling, very dark thriller. If all goes well you might see it at the Toronto festival.

I hear you’re moving into writing and directing now?

Goon [co-written with Evan Goldberg] is a love letter to hockey and an homage to my father, who was an enforcer. We have the bulk of our financing, which is substantial by Canadian standards. Michael Dowse [Fubar] is directing and we have a real American movie star in the lead opposite me – I’m not allowed to say who he is. We plan to populate the rest of the movie with the best actors we can find who love the game, and shoot in Manitoba starting late September.

And Pig is a true labour of love, a horror film I hope to direct about a drug-addicted white cop chasing down four black guys in the ghetto. For years I’ve been acquainted with the horror world on an intellectual level, and now I want to insert myself into it.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Special to The Globe and Mail

George Chuvalo visits The Crossfire

Source:  MMA Crossfire – Kenai Andrews

Chuvalo is considered to have one of the greatest chins in the history of boxing, having never been knocked down in ninety-three professional fights. The pride of Canada, he's best known for his two fights against Muhammad Ali, and battles against George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

Welcome back to The Crossfire.

Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo took some time to talk to The Crossfire and discuss his thoughts on the sweet science, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling.

MMA Crossfire: What is your assessment of Manny Pacquaio?

Chuvalo: He has the advantage of being a southpaw. Most guys on this side of the pond aren't used to fighting southpaws. There are so many of them overseas. They're awkward to fight. Fighting them is like fighting in a vat of toffee.  It's awkward as hell, at least it was for me and a lot of the guys I know, who had the same lament about fighting southpaws [laughs].  They're hard to fight. The thing about Pacquaio is he's also got a lot of speed, great legs. He can move side-to-side. He's so quick and he punches pretty good too. And when you punch back, usually he's not in the same place. He's a pretty tough fight for anybody.

MMA Crossfire: Even Mayweather?

Even Mayweather, although It's hard to go against Mayweather because of his superior speed. He's got great
hands, very elusive and a very smart fighter. He's got great instincts. Not to say Pacquaio doesn't have them either, but I think you have to make Mayweather the slight favourite. When you think of him, his legs are great too. He has a tremendous amount of confidence and is a very quick puncher, not to say Manny isn't quick. I think Pacquaio punches a little harder and he's a southpaw, but Mayweather is agile and hard to hit , so I think it would be more of a tactical fight more than anything else. Whoever controls the turf in terms of  if Pacquaio can get inside, then he'll win. If Mayweather can keep him at a distance, then he'll win. That's basically the way I see it.

MMA Crossfire: Do you think boxing has been rejuvenated by the competition of MMA?

Chuvalo: I don't think if they make a fight like this, that MMA is on their minds. This fight is going to happen anyway because its a fight the people want to see. I don't think the promoter is thinking, 'MMA is creeping up on us, we'd better get a big fight going.' This is a fight of two unbeaten guys, it's kind of like Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, when Muhammad first  came back. Its the fight people want to see. People wanted to see Ali fight Frazier, and people want to see Manny fight Floyd Mayweather.  It's a fight the public wants to see, so they're going to see it. And it has nothing to with MMA by the way.

MMA Crossfire: Were you ever into professional wrestling?

Chuvalo: When I was a kid, my father took me down to see a few wrestling matches. But when I was fifteen, I used to say to my father, who used to watch the wrestling on the TV with a bunch of older guys, "Pops, don't watch that stuff, its all fixed.' He said, "I know, but the referee is a dirty son-of-a-gun. [Laughs] But he liked it, he got a kick out of it.'

Nowadays, not really, but the odd time I watch it. The athleticism they display is pretty remarkable for big guys,. They flip flop and fly, they're all over the place. They're extremely athletic, mobile, very agile for big guys. They're athletic as hell. From a point of athleticism, I admire the guys tremendously. I really do. They do some wonderful things in there.

MMA Crossfire: Name three fighters who MMA fighters should study to improve their boxing.

Chuvalo: First of all, I would name a guy like Floyd Mayweather or Roy Jones, all guys with great leg movement. A guy with great leg movement could also strike with his legs from a distance. So from a distance, Mayweather, Roy Jones, Muhammad Ali, but for aggressiveness and taking care of a guy, look for Joe Frazier. You can't go wrong with the left hook [laughs]. The relentless style of a Joe Frazier. Joe when he walked in, he walked in a crouch and I think that kind of opens yourself up for the [MMA] guys with the kick, because when your head is down that low you can get hit a lot quicker than a guy who is standing vertically. Joe would have a little bit of trouble. So having said that, I'll say Sonny Liston, who was a banger who moved his head quite well side-to-side rather than ducking. You have to be mindful of the fact that the MMA guys can kick, and the kick from the floor to the head is a lot quicker with a guy like Frazier. You would have more time to react with a style like Sonny. He's a very powerful puncher who steps in, but he also moves his head side-to-side and I think that's important.

MMA Crossfire: What are you up to these days?

Chuvalo: I go around the country speaking to the kids about drugs. Preventative medicine is my motive operandi, so to speak. Better never to start in the first in the first place, than impose the life sentence of being a drug addict. I talk about what happened to my family. I talk about what helps young people stay on the right track and stuff like that. I usually speak for about an hour and show a video of my family beforehand. It's an edited version of the nationally shown documentary done by The Fifth Estate back in 1995.  I use that because it gives them a pretty good picture of what happened with my family along with my career. The kids watch it and the message seems to sink in better when I do the presentation afterward.

My wife's [Joanne] a terrific gal. She worked as a drug counsellor and still does work with me as a counsellor. She was a nurse, so she has a pretty good grip on things. We both can direct them into rehabs that would suit their purpose but as far as trying to get them on track to rehab, my wife is the boss.

MMA Crossfire: You also went to bat for fellow boxer and friend Spider Jones, helping him land the job for the boxing show Famous Knockouts back in the day.

Chuvalo: He's a good guy, a character [laughs].

MMA Crossfire: The thing was you refused to do the show unless he was hired...

Chuvalo: I used him because I knew he had a lot of natural talent.  He had never done anything like that before, but I knew he was the right guy for the show. He's been very appreciative of that stuff. We're good friends,  I recognized his talent, so I guess I can give myself a little pat on the back for that [laughs], but he's talented guy and here in Canada, they all know him. He's interviewed prime ministers, presidents. He's come a long way. I used tell him, 'You know Chuck, one day you're going to be famous. ' He used to say, 'You think so?' And I would say, 'Yeah.' And after he worked with me on the show, he got a shot with the radio and now people know him all over the place [laughs].

MMA Crossfire: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us George.

Chuvalo: Thank you.

Check out George's Chuvalo's Official fight against Drugs website here.

Check out George Chuvalo's documentary Still Standing: The People's Champion George Chuvalo here.

K'naan Wants Apology From South African Paper After Report Calls Him 'Difficult'

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Patch

(July 12, 2010) K'naan is asking for an apology and a retraction from a South African newspaper that published a story calling the Toronto hip-hop artist "difficult."

The Somalian-born rapper's song "Wavin' Flag" was chosen as Coca-Cola's anthem for the World Cup, so K'naan has been in South Africa to promote the company during the tournament.

The Times newspaper in Johannesburg published a report late Sunday night citing an anonymous source who said that K'naan has been a handful for organizers.

"There were several times when he made it so hard for us to deal with him," read a quote from the "insider" in the newspaper.

"He complains and whines about the things he has to do. He even said he would not go to Alexandra Township because it was dangerous."

Later, the same source added: "We've received complaints from people claiming that he is mean and refuses to take pictures with them, and he also told some people that he wished he could get out of the contract and go back home.

"This all comes from a guy who was born in Mogadishu. He even says things like he wishes he were back overseas then he wouldn't have to do all these visits to townships."

K'naan took to his Twitter account on Monday to roundly dismiss the claims.

"I just read a Times Live article entitled 'K'naan is difficult,'" he wrote. "A piece entirely based on the opinion of 'an insider' who is never named.

"It's unfortunate when one of the biggest (papers) in South Africa can publish a rumour piece without ever qualifying any of their statements."

He said that he had never been asked to play a show in Alexandra and dismissed the notion that he would be apprehensive about visiting townships.

"Actually, to be completely honest I prefer playing in the townships ’cause I enjoy the energy and vibe," he wrote in two continuous messages.

"If the Times in Joburg has any journalistic integrity, they need to retract and publish an apology."

After playing shows in 86 countries on the World Cup tour, K'naan will return to Canada for a performance at the Festival d'été de Quebec on Friday.

He also has scheduled summer dates at Montreal's Osheaga Festival and the Deep River Summerfest in Deep River, Ont.

"Wavin' Flag," which was also remixed as a star-studded benefit single for Haiti, has now topped the charts in Austria, Germany and Switzerland while reaching No. 2 in Canada, Ireland and the U.K.


Mexico Turns 200 And That Means One Big Fiesta

Source: www.thestar.com - Brandie Weikle

(July 14, 2010) Who wouldn’t want a big party for their 200th birthday?

On Sept. 16,
Mexico will celebrate both the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain, and the 100th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew dictator Porfirio Diaz.

After kicking off 2010 with the promotion of several new historic routes — The Zapatista Route, The Constitutionalist Revolution Route, the Route of Independence, and others — Mexico is inviting Canadians to get off the beachy path and get to know other aspects of the popular vacation spot.

Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism was in Toronto last week to announce an ad campaign geared at enticing tourists with the lesser-known offerings of the nation.

The delegation was also promoting 10 additional “Routes of Mexico,” a travel program that connects multiple cities under themes that tourists can pick according to their interest. These can either be purchased as a package or planned independently with an operator to according to budget and desired length of visit.

Secretary Gloria Guevara said that while Mexico may be thought of as a beach destination, her hope was to help tourists “learn about places you didn’t know existed,” such as a cave full of swallows as deep as the Empire State Building is tall, or the world’s tallest pyramid.

A former travel industry executive named to her cabinet position in March, Guevara said the tourism industry in Mexico is copying best practices from other markets, citing castle tours of Europe and the success of Italy’s Tuscany region in selling itself for its beauty and cuisine.

The 10 routes each end in a sunny destination, she explained, but highlight Mexico’s food, culture and history.

This comes during a year when Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advised against non-essential travel to Ciudad Juárez — a city in Mexico’s north, across the border from El Paso, Texas — “due to escalating violence linked to drug trafficking.” Two American nationals were shot to death in Ciudad Juárez on March 14.

“We know that there were some isolated incidents in some parts of Mexico,” acknowledges Guevara.

But she insists the country’s tourism industry has experienced no downturn as a result.

“We’ve had an increase in number of travelers from abroad,” she says, “including 9 per cent more Canadians.”

She adds that a study of 26,000 travellers found that 97 per cent said they’d come again.

Nevertheless, she’s launching a hotline this summer that tourists can call if they experience “any inconvenience.” The person on the phone will act as a sort of ombudsman to resolve problems.

In addition, the country will now have “touristic ambassadors” located at airports and popular points of interest to advise travelers and amp-up the friendly welcome.

Mexico’s Ambassador to Canada, Francisco Barrio, also spoke to the Star about Canada’s importance to the Mexico’s travel industry.

“You can’t understand the relationship between Mexico and Canada without speaking of tourism,” he says. Canadians stay in the sunny destination for an average of 11 nights, compared to the average American visit of three or four nights. “You need three Americans for every Canadian, so it’s very important for us.”

“We have found that when the average Canadian thinks of Mexico he is usually thinking of beaches and sun and Corona beer and that’s it,” he continued. “I think this new campaign is most opportune and relevant because there are many, many things that Canadian could enjoy in Mexico but seem not to know.”


Lyfe Jennings on Single Black Women and 'Statistics'

Source: www.essence.com - by Shirea L. Carroll


(June 8, 2010) Just when we thought we heard enough about the hardships of being a single Black woman,
Lyfe Jennings continues the conversation on his newest single, "Statistics." The track, off his upcoming album "I Still Believe" which is slated to drop later this summer, unabashedly discusses -- statistically -- how hard it is for Black women to find a good Black man.

Known for delivering raw and honest messages in his songs, Jennings says this time around the message was actually inspired by comedian/author/radio host Steve Harvey.

"'Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man' was such a powerful book," Lyfe explains, "I said to myself let me double up on his message, and do a song that would complement it." In the song, Jennings sings how statistically -- after factoring out men who are unfaithful, unstable, liars, gay, etc. -- that women are left with just 10% of Black men to fall in love with.

Jennings continues to say that just because it's slim pickings, doesn't mean you have to lower your standards. In the chorus he offers four rules for women to abide by, in order to patiently snag a man. The cool, calm, and collected Lyfe Jennings sits with ESSENCE.com to explain the rules, the percentages, and how he responds to the hate.

ESSENCE.com: Where did you get these statistics, are they actual facts?

I asked a lot of females a lot of different questions, and out of the women I sampled, these are the percentages I came back with. When I say 10% is worth having, that is relative to your own personal likes and dislikes.

ESSENCE.com: You have four rules. 1. Don't be a booty call; 2. Don't get with a man in a relationship; 3. Maintain celibacy; 4. Don't be a nickel out here looking for a dime. Explain the fourth rule.

That was a personal statement, because I'm single and kept attracting all the same type of women. I realized I was attracting what I was. If I'm always out at the club, or the strip club, those were the people I was going to attract. When you get yourself together, the right person will come. You want a man with good conversation, be sure to have good conversation...

ESSENCE.com:  Are you only speaking to women?

No, but I think men and women learn different, and there is so many negative messages in music for females. I think it warranted me to be the one dude that gives it to them real while glorifying the woman.

ESSENCE.com: In the song you say, "I'll teach you how to expose the other 90% and how to keep the other 10." Do you think men hate you for that?

: If they are mad about it then they must not be a part of the 10%. An overwhelming majority love the song, and at the end of the day this is a song that you would want your little girl to hear...

ESSENCE.com: But, be honest, do you think you were a tad bit rough on the guys in this song, considering women have their faults as well?

No...(laughs) we will have a remix. A remake to the song to talk about the females too...(laughs)

ESSENCE.com: You tell women in the song not to settle and be patient, what do you say to women who say I have been patient long enough?

Patience isn't a destination, it's a journey. I don't just mean be patient waiting for that man to come, but be patient with yourself too. Get your self in order. School is going to be hard, establishing a relationship with God is going to be hard, but be patient with things like that. That internal patience will lead to external patience.

ESSENCE.com: Were you worried about a song like "Statistics" getting airplay?

I had a conversation with Kirk Franklin. Kirk Franklin said, 'They're going to play it on the radio, you have a purpose here. When you want something, you can't worry about what the outcome is going to be. When it's from your heart, blessings are going to come.'

ESSENCE.com: Good advice. Speaking of advice were there any rules you left out in the song?

There's probably a billion others!  However if I had to add one more that I felt it was hard to put it the song, it would be: It's not people that hurt people, it's people's expectations that hurt people. Expect people to be people.

Read more HERE

Shad Is Ridin' The Wavin' Flag

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Katie Hewitt

(July 13, 2010) At the MuchMusic Video Awards after-party, rapper Shad sits by himself in a booth against the wall of Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, arms outstretched, ankle on knee, head bobbing to a performance by the Canadian rock band Arkells. Most industry people cup drinks and stand with an entourage. What gets Shad to his feet, and onstage with a rogue tambourine, is the Supremes’ You Keep Me Hangin’ On.

But the 28-year-old is best known for his rhymes; a few songs later, he’s freestyling to applause in his impromptu cameo. Shad is revealed in a few tracks – laid-back, musically diverse and kind of old-fashioned – and it’s not even his show.

The London, Ont.-based artist, born Shadrach Kabango, has since had more compelling invites to join acts onstage. After his summer festival tour wraps up in August, Shad will open for K’naan, whose anthem, Wavin’ Flag, is probably the biggest song on the planet. Shad is riding that wave of momentum; his latest album, TSOL has just been shortlisted for a 2010 Polaris Music Prize. Critics are saying it could be his breakout album, but it’s more of a slow rise, marked by a decision to keep the tracks simple, not to give in to commercial pressures. Now, Shad’s self-described underground hip hop is about to meet K’naan's mainstream single.

Shad admits to feeling slightly intimidated. “The thing about opening, at least half the people didn’t come to see you and, in some cases, none of them did. You have to work a little harder to win them over,” he says over lunch at Toronto’s Watermark Pub. “The good thing about opening is that you don’t have to play for very long, so you can seem more impressive.”

It’s clear that his quip about wooing crowds with a truncated performance is a joke; he’s passionate about music and has been making it for most of his life. For his opening-act set, he can cherry-pick from his three-album repertoire, When This is Over, The Old Prince and TSOL.

Born in Kenya to Rwandan parents, Shad and his family moved to Canada when he was just one year old. He grew up in London, Ont., where, in high school, he started experimenting with hip hop, “because it’s easy. You don’t need any equipment to freestyle.” He has since played hundreds of shows, from university venues to headlining at music festivals.

This fall won’t be the first time Shad has played with K’naan; they played together at London’s Fanshawe College a few years ago. As for the upcoming tour, Shad says he doesn’t know what happens “with managers, behind the scenes. ... I don’t really know how the business works.”

So far, the business has defined the breakout rapper as a cerebral, old-school artist with an ear for rhymes, not artificial track manipulations.

Shad calls his style “straight-up hip hop – underground hip hop.” And by underground, he doesn’t mean inaccessible. Shad raps about living at home, how expensive it is to go to the dentist and about not using Twitter; he means uncontrived, not like the computer-generated pop music currently climbing the charts, which “might be good for kids, but is sometimes just bad.”

There’s something retro about his music, and his style.

Shad doesn’t even own an iPod. If he did, he says the playlist would contain “everything from Motown to indie rock. I could be listening to Bonnie Raitt,” he says. “Hanson has a new single that’s crazy good.”

“It doesn’t mean I’m gonna sound like that,” he adds. It’s a distinction between musical taste and musical influence. The fans who have been following him from humble beginnings probably won’t be fazed by how frankly the rap artist admits to listening to country music and boy bands.

Shad’s first album was funded by a contest that his sister entered for his birthday on his behalf. Since then, it has been a family affair; his parents, who Shad says “aren’t musical at all, but are into art,” have what he calls “speaking appearances” on his tracks.

The haunting I’ll Never Understand has his mother, Bernadette Kabango, reading a poem she penned about the Rwandan genocide. It might be genetic – what album reviewers cite repeatedly – that Shad has a gift for writing compelling words.

“The hard part is kind of like shaking off dust,” Shad says of his lyrical process. He could write for hours, even days, before he gets to a sweet spot, he says, and it usually happens in one of two extremes: after an agonizingly slow process or immediately, like an epiphany.

His single Yaa I Get It from TSOL chronicles his career – that is, if you can navigate the dizzying spell of lyrics, like “I didn’t have it on the flop, but I’ll win it on the river/ longest winter got me seasoned ... not yet a veteran.”

“It’s a lot of words,” he says simply. “That was a quick one. I was in a good mood.”

Shad seems quietly confident, as though, if he woke up tomorrow without a hit single, he would figure something else out. He has a business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in liberal arts studies.

He may be the world’s most practical rap artist, but he doesn’t have overwrought plans. Shad says he applies the same philosophy to his life that he does to his music: Don’t over-analyze.

“If the rhyme resolves, it’s meant to be. You just leave it to fate. I try not to think too much about it, or I wouldn’t be able to write any music.”

Shad’s tour wraps up on Aug. 7 in Kingston, and K’naan’s dates kick off on Sept. 25 in Vancouver.  

M.I.A.: Back In Action

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(July 13, 2010) Maya Arulpragasam, also known as the global-genre pop star M.I.A., once pinky-wrestled the Dos Equis commercial's World's Most Interesting Man – and won. Yeah, the British-Sri Lankan is an intriguing gal, with legs and a life story that just won't quit. She has a provocateur's instinct, and her mystique has grown in advance of her third album, the bold disc she describes as “schizophrenic,” simply titled Maya.

(Actually, it's not simply titled; /\/\/\Y/\ is the typographically stylized version found on the album cover.)

“I'll throw this shit in your face when I see ya,” she sing-shouts on Born Free, “coz I got something to say.” Sometimes too much to say: The video for Born Free was quickly banned from YouTube play for its intense depiction of mistreated red-haired boys. The song, a hellish thrill ride based on an intimidating sample from Suicide's 1977 synth-punk composition Ghost Rider, rants against religion, oppression and possibly Lady Gaga (“and imitators, yeah stick it”).

Over all, the album is a mix of her hectic, eventful collages (alarm noises, jet swooshes, drill sounds, and drum beats hammered home like Lebron James-dribbled basketballs), but with new adventures in melody. One of the album's producers, former boyfriend Diplo, convinced M.I.A. to sing, which she does adequately (if a little flatly) on Tell Me Why, a colourful, swaying number that would have played well at the World Cup in South Africa.

Tell Me Why notwithstanding, there's less of a Third World vibe here. On XXXO, though she spits a beauty (“Cuz you tweetin' me like Tweety Bird”), M.I.A. seems bored with the Euro-flavoured dance-pop.

In a controversial recent interview with Lynn Hirschberg of The New York Times Magazine, M.I.A. had a quote – “give war a chance” – taken out of context. In the deadpan electro-rap of Lovalot, inspired by a well-publicized incident involving a slain Islamic terrorist and his vengeful suicide-bombing Russian wife, M.I.A. commiserates. Through the mischievous dropping of a “t,” the line “I really love a lot” sounds an awful lot like “I really love Allah.” Also, the alleged Tamil Tiger sympathizer justifies eye-for-an-eye violence: “I fight the ones that fight me.”

Communication technology – “a digital ruckus” – concerns M.I.A., who theorizes on The Message that Google is a search engine controlled by the government. On the trance-drone of Space, even the phones lines are down, disconnecting a pair of lovers.

What's M.I.A.'s own message? On an adventurous, bombs-away album of eclectic club music, perhaps she means to say stay thirsty, my friends, stay thirsty.

Original Jazz Crusaders, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Melanie Fiona & More Set for Long Beach Jazz Festival

Source: Jalila Larsuel, JL Media Relations, JLMediapr@gmail.com

(July 14, 2010) *Long Beach, CA – Rainbow Promotions presents the
23rd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival August 13, 14 and 15, 2010. The Festival again takes place at the lovely seaside setting of Rainbow Lagoon Park on Shoreline Drive in Long Beach, California.

As with previous Long Beach Jazz Festivals, the 3-day music extravaganza has a special theme and focus-” Jazz Up Your Summer”-as the exciting and evolving genre of Smooth and Straight Ahead Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Music takes center stage with a line-up that is clearly the cream of the crop.

Featured are some very special performances this year, The Original Jazz Crusaders will make their first Southern California reunion appearance, An All-Star Tribute to Grover Washington Jr, Al Jarreau & The George Duke Trio, Boney James, Melanie Fiona, to name just a few.

As one of the longest-running annual jazz festivals in Southern California, the Long Beach Jazz Festival offers something for everyone, from soulful party-vibe, smooth jazz grooves to more traditional jazz improvisation. Veteran concert promoter and musician Al Williams, head of Rainbow Promotions, will also perform on the 15th with his Al Williams Jazz Society.

Williams says, “I’m excited this year to have a great variety of artists. It is a collection of all the elements that have sustained jazz’s popularity for decades; a touch of rhythm, soul, international flavour, innovation and future jazz stars. It’s all great music.”

On Friday, August 13, the Original Jazz Crusaders, featuring Joe Sample, Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder, headlines the first day and the exciting saxophonist Boney James. On Saturday, August 14, a special tribute to Grover Washington Jr. featuring Ronnie Laws, Tom Scott, Chante Moore, Paul Jackson Jr., dynamite duo Dave Koz & Jonathan Butler with special guest Sheila E., Kanye West protégé, soul singer Melanie Fiona, and Saxophonist Shilts, front-man for the urban, funky jazz band “Down To The Bone” round out what promises to be a day of electrifying music. And on Sunday, August 15, vocalist extraordinaire Al Jarreau & the legendary George Duke with his Trio headlines an incredible 3rd day line-up that includes bassist Marcus Miller & trumpeter Christian Scott, the Al Williams Jazz Society and conguero Poncho Sanchez with his seven-piece Latin jazz ensemble.

Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions at (562)-424-0013, or online at www.longbeachjazzfestival.com VIP tickets–$155 on Friday, and $180 per seat on Saturday and Sunday-include dinner, wine service and backstage access. Reserved box seat tickets are $60 on Friday and $75 per seat on Saturday and Sunday. General admission/lawn seating is $45 (prior to August 4th) and $50 at the gate. Friday-Gates open at 5pm.  Saturday and Sunday- Gates opens at 11:00am.

Time Warner Presents the 23rd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. Additional sponsors are US Bank and Budweiser.

About Rainbow Promotions
Rainbow Promotions is the producer of the Long Beach Jazz Festival and concerts throughout the year. For 22 years, Rainbow Promotions has presented the Long Beach Jazz Festival, the city’s second-largest event behind the Long Beach Grand Prix, and averages 30,000 in attendance over the three-day event. For more information regarding the Long Beach Jazz Festival, go to: www.longbeachjazzfestival.com, or www.rainbowpromotions.com.

For more information contact: Jalila Larsuel, JL Media Relations, 626.398.5028 or 213.369.4362. Email JLMediapr@gmail.com.

Avery Gears Up for Sunshiny Day

Source: Fiona Bloom; fiona@thebloomeffect.com

(July 9, 2010) *(New York) – Who is Avery*Sunshine? - She’s a singer/songwriter/pianist deeply rooted in Gospel.  Born/raised in Chester, PA and resides in Atlanta. She considers both places home with many fans eagerly anticipating her first full length.

In fact – when it comes to Philly, Avery always has her finger on the pulse with all the newcomers on the scene and she’s embraced by so many there. Performing in Philly is ‘coming home.’  Similarly in Atlanta she gets the same response/support.

An EP came out earlier this year that placed really high on the iTunes R&B/Soul chart.  The foundation has been laid and the fans are ready!

Avery considers herself a ‘healer’ through the power of music. First having touched individuals to eventually collective healing.

Through her Gospel training, she articulates the complexities in life with a luminous insight.  She sings about love, loss, healing and finding oneself all through the midst of it.

Avery has many appreciators including bassist
Christian McBride, Chaka Kahn, Roy Ayers, Jennifer Holliday and others.  Christian McBride plays on the album and Roy Ayers is featured. Also well-known drummer Lil’ John Roberts plays all over the project.

Stand out tracks on this project include the title track “All in my Head” which was a digitally released single back in March and peaked at
#15 on iTunes. Light, smooth and contagious! “The Most” – ‘you are the most beautiful thing in the world’ – A very uplifting song about dreams and searching. Another classic Pinin which is airy, bubbly and fun.   There’s something for everyone on this release.

On making the album, Avery*Sunshine says “if it’s real, it’s right. I’m happy about everything. I’ve found solace, and can absolutely be me.”

As Avery readies her ‘Sunshine’ – she’s also gearing up for ‘I Dream’- A Rhythm and Blues Opera based on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  This musical opens on July 9th at the Alliance Stage in the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.

For more information on
Avery*Sunshine check out: http://www.averysunshine.com; http://www.myspace.com/averysunshine and on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/bigshinetv

TSO, NAC pull the plug on Project Niagara

Source:  www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(July 13, 2010) The waterfront of Niagara-on-the-Lake will not be alive with the sound of music anytime soon.

The plug has been pulled on
Project Niagara (a.k.a. Tanglewood North) after more than five years of work to create a spectacular international music festival on federal waterfront land formerly used for military training.

This startling news came in the form of a letter sent last week from three project leaders whose dream had been to create a music festival that would do for classical music in Canada what the Stratford and Shaw festivals have done for Canadian theatre.

It was supposed to attract hundreds of thousands of music lovers from both Canada and the U.S. while adding close to $100 million annually to the economy and providing a summer home for two Canadian orchestras, like the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood in western Massachusetts.

Parks Canada and Environment Canada provided a magical site on Lake Ontario. The Ontario government provided seed money to develop the idea and produce research.

“Despite all this encouragement and support, however, we have reached the conclusion that an unusually difficult economic and political environment makes it increasingly unlikely that we can attract the capital funding we need,” says the letter to supporters and stakeholders, signed by Peter Herrndorf, chief executive officer of the National Arts Centre, Andrew Shaw, CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Kari Cullen, project director for the proposed summer music festival.

As a result, the NAC and the TSO have decided to end their efforts to create a festival at this time.

The festival would have featured 50 concerts a year, with many of them featuring either the TSO or the NAC Orchestra. There was to be both an amphitheatre and lawn seating.

The project budget was set at $76.5 million, and the annual budget was set for $20 million.

The organizers needed a commitment of $25 million each from the federal government and the Ontario government.

Focusing on deficit reduction, neither had made the commitment.

Time was running out, since the original idea was to have the festival’s opening coincide with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 — a key battle having taken place on the site.

Considerable opposition was mounted by a group of local residents called Harmony Niagara, who warned that noise and traffic would ruin their tranquil community.

But there was also a great deal of support from local businesses, wineries, the Shaw Festival and the members of a board of directors.

In the end, what killed the dream was not the local opposition but an economic and political climate that left the organizers unable to secure government funding.

TSO, NAC pull the plug on Project Niagara

Source:  www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(July 13, 2010) The waterfront of Niagara-on-the-Lake will not be alive with the sound of music anytime soon.

The plug has been pulled on
Project Niagara (a.k.a. Tanglewood North) after more than five years of work to create a spectacular international music festival on federal waterfront land formerly used for military training.

This startling news came in the form of a letter sent last week from three project leaders whose dream had been to create a music festival that would do for classical music in Canada what the Stratford and Shaw festivals have done for Canadian theatre.

It was supposed to attract hundreds of thousands of music lovers from both Canada and the U.S. while adding close to $100 million annually to the economy and providing a summer home for two Canadian orchestras, like the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood in western Massachusetts.

Parks Canada and Environment Canada provided a magical site on Lake Ontario. The Ontario government provided seed money to develop the idea and produce research.

“Despite all this encouragement and support, however, we have reached the conclusion that an unusually difficult economic and political environment makes it increasingly unlikely that we can attract the capital funding we need,” says the letter to supporters and stakeholders, signed by Peter Herrndorf, chief executive officer of the National Arts Centre, Andrew Shaw, CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Kari Cullen, project director for the proposed summer music festival.

As a result, the NAC and the TSO have decided to end their efforts to create a festival at this time.

The festival would have featured 50 concerts a year, with many of them featuring either the TSO or the NAC Orchestra. There was to be both an amphitheatre and lawn seating.

The project budget was set at $76.5 million, and the annual budget was set for $20 million.

The organizers needed a commitment of $25 million each from the federal government and the Ontario government.

Focusing on deficit reduction, neither had made the commitment.

Time was running out, since the original idea was to have the festival’s opening coincide with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 — a key battle having taken place on the site.

Considerable opposition was mounted by a group of local residents called Harmony Niagara, who warned that noise and traffic would ruin their tranquil community.

But there was also a great deal of support from local businesses, wineries, the Shaw Festival and the members of a board of directors.

In the end, what killed the dream was not the local opposition but an economic and political climate that left the organizers unable to secure government funding.

Video: Chubby Checker Celebrates 50 Years of Twisting

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 10, 2010) *Fifty years to the day after the release of the hip-swivelling tune “The Twist,” the man who made it famous celebrated the occasion in his hometown.

Chubby Checker performed Friday at a free noontime concert at Philadelphia City Hall. About 1,000 people joined in on the gyrations, some even invited onstage by the South Philadelphia-bred singer.

[Scroll down for old school footage of Chubby twisting on "American Bandstand" and his performance on Friday]

“The Twist,” released as a single on July 9, 1960, burst into the rock ‘n’ roll stratosphere after Checker performed it for Dick Clark on his Philadelphia-based “American Bandstand.”

Checker’s 1960 cover version of the Hank Ballard and the Midnighters song – released a year earlier to mild success – became a smash hit and turned the dance into a pop culture touchstone. It remains the only single to reach No. 1 on the U.S. charts during two separate runs, in 1960 and again in 1962.

The dance popularized couples dancing apart to the beat of the music, a revolutionary idea that’s now the norm, Checker, 68, said.

Get MORE of this story HERE.

We Remember: Gospel’s Walter Hawkins Dies at 61

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Mona Austin / MediaMindedPro@yahoo.com

(July 11, 2010) *Gospel music icon Bishop Walter Hawkins passed away in at his home in Ripon, CA on Sunday after suffering with pancreatic cancer, according to online reports. He was 61

According to  his older brother Edwin, Walter fought a brave battle with the disease.

“Today, I lost my brother, my pastor, and my best friend … Bishop Hawkins suffered bravely but now he will suffer no more and will be greatly missed,” he said.

Hawkins was a contemporary gospel forerunner who rose to prominence as a member of the Hawkins Singers along with his brother  in the late sixties.

The articulate tenor’s tender voice possessed authority and a tonal quality second to none as demonstrated on the duet he shared as a featured artist with Donald Lawrence on the 2002 Tri-Cities Singers recording, “Seasons.”

The Christian Music Hall of Fame inductee was also the former husband of gospel legend Tramaine Hawkins. He was also the beloved pastor of Love Center Ministries in Oakland. In May of this year he was saluted with a sixty-first birthday celebration

Hawkins is survived by two children, Trystan Hawkins and Walter “Jamie” Hawkins Jr., an R&B singer; a daughter-in-law, gospel singer Myiia “Sunny” Hawkins; two grandchildren, Jamie-Daniel and Jahve; and his siblings, Carol, Feddie, Edwin, Daniel, and Lynette.

Reggae Star Sugar Minott Dies at 54

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 12, 2010) *Legendary reggae artist Sugar Minott, the honey-throated singer and producer who helped to popularize reggae music, has died at the age of 54.

Minott died Saturday at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, his wife Maxine Stowe revealed. She did not disclose the cause of death.

Two months ago, Minott had cancelled performances in Canada after suffering chest pains, reports the Associated Press.

Born in Kingston in May 1956, the singer, whose real name was Lincoln Barrington Minott, launched his musical career in the late 1960s as a member of the African Brothers reggae trio.

His successful solo run began in the 1970s and quickly drew a following in Jamaica’s dancehalls with songs like “Vanity” and “Mr. DC” while recording for the famed Studio One, the Caribbean island’s first black-owned music studio.

In 1981, he had his biggest hit with a cover of the Jackson Five’s “Good Thing Going,” which reached No. 4 in the United Kingdom’s singles chart in March of that year. [
Listen below.]

Minott was known for nurturing young talent with his own Black Roots record label and Youthman Promotion company. Reggae and dancehall artists such as Junior Reid and Tenor Saw began their careers under his tutelage.

“Sugar Minott was a man who gave a lot of strength to the music although he got no love from the business,” Reid said.

A new album from Minott, “New Day,” is scheduled to be released in coming weeks.

Creating A Ruckus By Keeping It Real

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Greg Buium

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
At various venues in Vancouver
Friday through Sunday

(July 10, 2010) As
Vancouver’s TD International Jazz Festival kicked off its silver anniversary, at more than 30 venues around the city last weekend, it seemed only natural to look for a telltale moment – a single performance that might show us the spine of this sprawling annual event.

But then again, it might’ve been best not to try.

Ever since it began, tucked in and around Expo 86, the VIJF – whose 2010 edition continues through July 4 – has put such a polyglot aesthetic into play that you’re practically paralyzed looking for a catch-all concert.

Sure, Vancouver has its signature strands – the eccentric (and critically admired) European innovators, the special one-time projects. But it’s also similar to any other big city on the summer jazz circuit: It’s trying to be all things to all people. So there’s a healthy dose of funk, turntable artists, world music, and, this year, even indie rock.

But unlike many of its peers, Vancouver remains at its core the genuine article – a bona-fide jazz festival.

What does that actually mean in 2010? When it comes to presenting “jazz” in the here and now – a true Tower-of-Babel tale – the VIJF is a remarkable affair. Weekend No. 1 was proof; very few jazz fests pull you to the far corners of the genre, then back to the centre, without a hitch.

So there was pianist Chick Corea, among the genre’s war-baby pioneers, playing a rare solo concert at The Centre on Sunday night. His long set drawn from the great piano repertoire (from Ellington to Monk to, yes, Corea) was by turns playful and patient, heady and dear; it was by any definition a jazz-piano master class.

Or consider Mostly Other People Do the Killing (a.k.a. MOPDTK), a young buzz band from New York, who played at the Roundhouse on Saturday. With its oddball name, and manic disposition (divergent tunes, and moods, sewn together non-stop), they’re a free-bop version of Vampire Weekend: arch, agile and expertly designed.

But if Corea or MOPDTK represent two sides of the jazz firmament, how does George Benson fit in? At a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday night, the festival’s marquee name did what he’s done for more than three decades: put jazz into the realm of slick pop-soul.

As the jazz business struggles, Benson remains a one-man economic-stimulus package. The VIJF has never shied away from safe bets, or smooth jazz for that matter, and the 67-year-old singer-guitarist delivered.

He went from hit to hit (Turn Your Love Around, Breezin), and when he sang “I can play this here guitar,” during On Broadway, the audience roared. His crossover style may bother the jazz police, but only a churl would knock his prowess: hard-toned and earthy and tracking the instrument’s entire lineage in his lines.

Still, the VIJF’s tastes (and its ambition) are far more expansive than this. If Benson’s first Vancouver appearance since 1987 created a commotion, the appearance of the seminal European free-jazz ensemble Globe Unity Orchestra created a ruckus of a very different kind.

Arranged as a central part of the VIJF’s 25th-anniversary celebration, this was the second stop on Globe Unity’s first Canadian tour – a late coming out for a group formed in 1966. And Vancouver programmed the 11-piece in its inimitable way – mixing and matching German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach’s ensemble in a variety of configurations over the weekend. There were seven performances in all, culminating in a full orchestra concert Sunday night at the Roundhouse.

But how does a free-jazz big band actually work? Even after 44 years, Globe Unity seems a perilous enterprise. Eleven men walk onto a stage, form a semi-circle and begin to play. Scores don’t exist.

During the first set Sunday, small clusters formed, and at some point, each horn player wandered into the centre. His band mates often continued: a squall in behind, or a spare series of gestures. And all the while, there was von Schlippenbach swaying from this terrific rush of notes to a dense clutter of chords. Drummers Paul Lytton and Paul Lovens churned a near-constant piling on of motion and colour. It was an extraordinary sight to hear.

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival continues until July 4 (coastaljazz.ca).

Santana Plays In The Present; Winwood Sticks With The Past

Source: www.globeandmail.com

Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood
At Molson Amphitheatre In Toronto on Sunday

(July 12, 2010) So if Eric Clapton was indeed “God” in 1965, which infers the popular deification of rock stars in general, then Sunday night’s pairing of veterans
Steve Winwood and Carlos Santana had almost by definition a sort of “Twilight of the Gods” aura to it. For the sake of argument, however, and as much as I have always loved Winwood in all of his band incarnations, we’ll assign him the role of the minor deity, saving the more exalted major-deity application to Santana. Debate at leisure.

Steve (then Stevie) Winwood had his first hit when he was 17, singing vocals for the Spencer Davis Group on the now-classic I’m A Man. Since then, he was the driving force in Traffic (no pun intended….well, maybe just a little), a member of supergroup Blind Faith (with, interestingly enough, Eric Clapton) and has had a long and productive solo career that has extended right up to the present day. It is also interesting to note that he has just released a career retrospective entitled Revolutions. No surprise, then, that his opening set came across as very much a Best of Steve, 1966-2010.

Backed by a funky and slick four-piece band, Winwood used the Spencer Davis Group hits I’m a Man and Gimme Some Lovin to bracket his 75-minute set. In the mid-sixties, these were two of the heaviest hits on the radio at the time, hence their popularity. Time and familiarity have dulled their edge somewhat, but they are still classic rockers, though now with more emphasis on the classic than the rock, and delivered Sunday more as salsafied jam sessions than three-minute slices of rock history.

Winwood’s finest moments creatively came in the folk, soul and jazz-tinged Traffic, one of the handful of outfits that truly put the “progressive” in the term progressive rock. This period of his life was represented by such diverse numbers as the blues-rocking Dear Mr. Fantasy, the enigmatic 40,000 Headmen and the soulful Empty Pages (a great example of Winwood’s unique and very distinctive “English coyote” soul/blues vocal technique), all performed here mid-set. One of Winwood’s signature tunes, at least according to classic rock radio, the soulful and doleful Blind Faith number Can’t Find My Way Back Home, proved to be a crowd favourite.

From his nine-release solo career, we basically got crumbs, represented by the sprightly Grammy Award-winning Higher Love. But the paucity of material from the past decade of solo work suggests, quite rightly, that Winwood’s solo career has engendered for him little more than a cult following, though a happy one at that, and his performance here was extremely well received.

Carlos Santana, on the other hand, managed to keep his old core audience, then built on it by cleverly integrating popular new artists such as Rob Thomas, Everlast and Wyclef Jean as guest vocalists on successful releases such as Supernatural. This merits him a 10 N.D.R. score (Niester Deification Rating), as opposed to Winwood’s 8.

Xochipilli? The Aztec god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, maize and song. It works perfectly, because Santana makes a beautiful and unique brand of art, his music is sometimes playful, but you can always dance to it, his outfits are usually quite flowery, some of his song interpretations (Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va) are popular standards and, all in all, he is an a-maize-ing performer. (Sorry.)

Like Winwood, he opened with a quick trip down memory lane, leading in with a terrific rock-fusion jam that utilized every aspect of his 10-piece band. Lest he lose the youngsters, however, he quickly moved into the hit Maria Maria, the Supernatural number that featured the little-known R&B duo The Project D&B and helped to drive the album to mega-million sales status. The other major hit from the album, Smooth, was saved for the end of the regular set.

In between these touchstone numbers, Santana (being a deity and all) basically flew. There were lots of familiar moments from his slew of albums (unexpected stops at No One To Depend On and his take on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, among others), but these were basically used as jumping-off points for his unique trademark guitar soloing. Probably 80 per cent of Santana’s performance on this night was pure instrumental magic, with Carlos often taking a back seat to his talented soloists, and with road vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas getting only sporadic opportunities.

And even though Santana and his namesake band have played numbers such as Oye Como Va, Black Magic Woman and Evil Ways thousands of times, he (and they) still managed to breathe new life and energy into each one. By the show’s conclusion, Santana’s trademark Woodstock T-shirt was dark with sweat, and he even looked a little fatigued. Proving that, in the end, rock gods are only human.

The Universal Tone Tour, featuring Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood, stops at the Ottawa Blues Fest on Wednesday, July 14, and at Montreal’s Bell Centre on Thursday, July 15.

Special To The Globe and Mail

Bono’s Back

Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(July 14, 2010) Bono has announced he's fully recovered from emergency back surgery and has apologized to ticket-holding North American fans who must wait an extra year to see his Irish supergroup U2 return to action.

The 50-year-old singer shed no light on how he hurt his back, which his German neurosurgeons in May described as sudden partial paralysis. The health scare forced U2 to cancel the entire sold-out, 16-city North American tour this summer. All those dates have been rescheduled for next May through July, including a stop at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 11, 2011.

In a laid-back hand-held video posted Wednesday on U2's website, drummer Larry Mullen Jr., bassist Adam Clayton and guitarist The Edge playfully suggest they've been auditioning new singers — but can't quite replace the middle-aged lad who's been the frontman of U2 since 1976.

The camera then pans to a Bono in rose-tinted lenses.

“I can sit. I can stand. I can move around a bit. Feeling strong, feeling confident,” Bono says as he walks about an unidentified recording studio. “And I'm ready — rebuilt by German engineering, better design I'm told — and I'm going to be fighting fit next summer.”

The singer said his injury, surgery and convalescence “was not a lot of fun for me. The injury was quite serious . . . but staring at the ceiling has some advantages — forced indolence.” He said he used the time to write new lyrics and tunes.

The Difference Between Playing Notes And Making Music

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(July 12, 2010) André Laplante knows how to get to the heart of a matter.

It’s true literally, because the Montreal-based pianist specializes in the Romantic music of composers Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt. It’s also true on other levels: in the directness and emotional clarity of his playing, and in the way he is teaching a younger generation of musicians.

In a world captivated by bling and buzz, the virtues of fine craftsmanship are still the ones that will endure. And there are few finer pianistic craftspeople than Laplante, as Ontarians are about to hear this month.

Laplante exploded into the classical music world more than three decades ago, after winning second place at the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, in 1978.

The silver medal brought him engagements across North America and Europe. Laplante began recording, and was among the first wave of Western artists invited to tour in Asia.

But, for more than a decade now, the Quebecer has warmed to a lower profile. He teaches during the school year at the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec in Montreal, and at Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould Professional School in Toronto. He also gives master classes and treats summer-festival audiences in Canada and the United States to his artistry.

Straight from a music festival in Stony Brook, N.Y., Laplante opens the annual Music Niagara festival on Saturday night, at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s the first of three Ontario concert dates in July.

Since this year marks the 200th birth anniversaries of Chopin and Robert Schumann, Laplante offers a program devoted to the virtuoso piano pieces by Chopin, and Schumann’s “Piano Quintet in E-flat Major,” with the help of the Gould String Quartet (led by festival artistic director and Toronto Symphony Orchestra violinist Atis Bankas).

Last spring, Montreal label Analekta released an album of the pianist’s favourite Chopin pieces. I was blown away: “Laplante lays it all on the line, riding emotional waves in great, broad sweeps. But what pushes his disc into the realm of the extraordinary is how he maintains an overall polished sound throughout,” I wrote in my review.

This year, the artist followed up with the Swiss portion of Franz Liszt’s “Years of Pilgrimage.” This is phenomenally difficult music that needs to sound as free and fluid as a fireside chat. “This is not a sightseeing tour, but an emotional voyage portrayed with a sensitivity that also does justice to Liszt’s career as a musical showman,” I noted.

Having tracked the pianist down to a summer music school in the former marble-quarry village of Adamant, Vt., in the Green Mountains near the state capital, I quickly discover that there is nothing accidental or merely instinctive about Laplante’s performance style.

“Expression is never easy,” he says during our phone conversation. “We never get anything for free.”

The pianist has had nearly six decades to work out the details of what separates piano performance from musical art. Born in Rimouski, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, Laplante began studying piano at age 6 with the full conviction that this was what his life was going to be about.

“I never felt I had a choice of doing something other than being a musician,” he recalls. But getting to the competition stage in Moscow took a lot of work and thought, which has continued to evolve ever since. He admits to liking his Chopin playing of today far better than what he produced in 1978, and enjoys sharing his insights with today’s piano hopefuls.

“I find that a lot of education has a corporate ring; they sell a lot of methods,” says Laplante. The result, he believes, is technique divorced from artistry.

“In many cases, people concentrate on getting through the music. It is well phrased and well played,” he says. “But it is all based on a physicality of getting sound out of the instrument. The final challenge is to get music out of that.”

Laplante relates his experience as a juror at the 1994 Tchaikovsky competition, where he found himself squirming through the 90-plus recitals. “There was a lot of doing. There was amazing ability. But music . . . ” You can practically hear the Gallic shrug over the phone.

So, how does one go from playing notes to making music?

By singing. Like Glenn Gould, Laplante hums along as he plays, and he doesn’t care if this bothers some listeners.

“My advice to students is: Trust your mouth,” Laplante explains. “If you sing something, the way the song comes out is pretty much what you have to do.”

It is a means of transforming what he calls primal energy — the physical act of moving fingers on a keyboard — into “musical energy.”

“What I’m trying to do is make people aware of what the message is, and I hold my students very close to that,” Laplante insists.

That is, after all, the heart of a satisfying performance — of music, or anything else.


*July 17: Music Niagara, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Info: www.musicniagara.org or 1-800-511-7429

*July 22: Festival of the Sound, Parry Sound. Info: www.festivalofthesound.ca or 1-866-364-0061

*July 25: Elora Festival, Elora. Info: www.elorafestival.com or 1-888-747-7550

Lady Gaga does Madonna one better at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(July 12, 2010) You know what? I’d be proud to be counted among Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters.”

I went through a period of silly music-critic waffling last year where I wouldn’t admit even to my closest friends that I kind of dug “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” and then it just seemed silly to join the hordes lavishing belated praise upon the young woman known to her parents as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta when The Fame Monster and the video for “Bad Romance” hit in the fall and everyone could see how devastating this chick’s vision can be with a budget and a transatlantic podium.

But, hot damn, that was one hell of a show Gaga brought to the Air Canada Centre Sunday night and suddenly it doesn’t seem redundant to add one more voice to the Lady Gaga choir.

Spectacle is the crucial factor, obviously, when you’re operating at the increasingly rarefied level at which Lady Gaga has been operating these past few months, and her Monster Ball tour has plenty of that: sets that morph from seedy back alleys bedecked with neon signs advertising implants, gold teeth, drugs and “hot ass” to windblown New York subway stops to creepy enchanted forests; a recurring Wizard of Oz motif and the sparkling Good Witch gowns to go with it; flaming grand pianos; flaming coed dancers exploding out of trap-doors; a deliciously profane Catholic prayer to Jesus’s inclusive nature conducted while writhing orgasmically on the proscenium in a black-leather teddy while slathered in fake blood; and — the coup de grace — an actual Fame Monster that swallowed Lady Gaga whole during “Paparazzi.”

All of this crap would be nothing but your typical A-list Vegas romp onstage without the songs, though, and those are pretty monstrous in their own right. Gaga’s strength has been in bringing the hedonistic thump of millennial club music to pop tunes that even your mom and closeted gay dad can get with.

“Poker Face,” for instance, has enough of a Peaches bite that even the cool kids always secretly liked it, for instance, while “Alejandro” has that same, elusive magic-in-artifice that the entire ABBA catalogue had and pretty much everything else in the hit-after-hit catalogue does Madonna one better: one dirtier (“Disco Stick”), one dancier (“Beautiful, Dirty, Rich”), one gayer (between the sculpted boy toys cavorting onstage and the very cool shout-outs to LGBT charities supporting homeless gay youth, we didn’t really need “Boys Boys Boys” dedicated to “all my Toronto gayboys” to get the picture) and definitely one more melodramatic. Gaga’s torchy renditions of the piano ballad “Speechless” and the new tune “You and I” were broken up with so much teary-eyed, you-fans-are-my-children-forever chatter that one might have gagged on the sentiment had it not all seemed so sincere.

When Lady Gaga thanks her Little Monsters for letting her live the dreams she kind of lampoons in her music but also shrewdly tailor-made her music to fit, she seems to mean it. I’m not gonna fight with her, anyway. She kind of scares me.


Rihanna Scraps Two More Concerts

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 9, 2010) *Rihanna has reportedly cancelled two more shows on her concert tour — and the rumour is that it’s due to weak ticket sales. The news follows reports last month that the singer scrapped her opening US show due to “production changes.” Now, ticketing sites reveal that her scheduled stops in Denver on July 15 and Indiana on August 8 have been called off, with full refunds promised to ticket holders. Speculation among industry insiders is that Rihanna is suffering from an across the board drop in concert sales that have led many acts to cancel shows. High-profile outings by the Eagles, the Jonas Brothers and the latest crop of American Idol finalists suffered poor sales. Christina Aguilera, Limp Bizkit and the Go-Gos’ cancelled their tours, and organizers of the all-female Lilith Fair organizers said last week that they had scrapped about a third of the shows. Promoters of Rihanna’s tour say she “hopes to make it up to them on the next tour.”

Keyshia Cole and Tank Duet

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 11, 2010) *She’s back in the studio working on her fourth album and is holding nothing back. Keyshia Cole is currently working on a record with singer/producer Tank. The producer of the Cole Monica collab0, Donald Alford, confirmed. “We’re doing a lot of new records for her. We got a hot record coming with her and Tank in the future, so ya’ll can be on the lookout for that,” he said. “I produced ‘Trust’ so it’s somewhere around there. A slow ballad, duet type of record. I guess she comes to me for the duets.” Hopefully we won’t have to wait for the album to release to hear the song. Alford said it will most likely be a single. Other collaborations include production with Krucial Keyz, The Runners, Kanye West, and Missy Elliott.

The Return of El DeBarge

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 11, 2010) * *El DeBarge stepped back onto the scene at the BET Awards, gladly missed by the world of soul music fans, and even those who didn’t know his name before. He’s been busy lately, hitting up just about every major music event since then, basically announcing his return. His new album appropriately titled, “Second Chance” is scheduled to release Sept. 28 of this year. It will feature some of the hottest collaborations with Babyface, Ron Fair, Mike City and so many more. “I wrote ‘Second Chance’ to commemorate all the struggles I went through, and I feel it speaks to struggles in the souls and the hearts of people who are going through what I went through and who want a second chance,” DeBarge told singersroom.com. “I lost a lot of time, I lost a lot of good friends, but I’m back, though there were some serious consequences. You don’t want to go down that road. You don’t need to experiment with drugs.”

Jon Bon Jovi Rocks On Despite Injury

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(July 13, 2010) Rocker Jon Bon Jovi didn’t even need “Something for the Pain” to finish a concert in his home state of New Jersey, despite tearing a calf muscle toward the end of the show. Bon Jovi injured himself toward the end of the band’s 2 ½-hour concert at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford on Friday night, then limped back and forth across the stage for an encore, “Livin’ On A Prayer.” The singer injured his leg during a cover of the Dave Clark Five hit “Glad All Over.” “My calf muscle just blew out! Whoa!” he said from the stage. “I got another leg. I don't need this one.” A video posted on YouTube shows the 48-year-old singer limping back and forth across the stage, flexing his foot as he assures the crowd he’s okay. A spokeswoman says the band will be able to play the rest of its summer stadium tour and does not anticipate cancelling any dates. The band plays Toronto’s Rogers Centre July 20.

Bryan Adams To Play Small B.C. Cities

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(July 14, 2010) Vancouver — Bryan Adams has announced shows in some smaller markets in British Columbianext month in what’s being dubbed “The Road to the PNE.” Adams will perform his stadium show in Dawson Creek, Prince George and Kelowna in the days leading up to his concert marking the 100th anniversary of Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition.  Adams will play Dawson Creek August 17, Prince George August 18 and Kelowna on August 19. On August 21, he’ll play Empire Field in Vancouver along with the Beach Boys.  It’s a big summer for concerts in Prince George and Kelowna: Elton John is performing in both of those cities this week.

Video: Usher Strips Down in ‘There Goes My Baby’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 14, 2010) *Usher has been getting his stomach crunches on and shamelessly shows off the results in the video for his latest single “There Goes My Baby,” which premiered on Tuesday (July 13). Shirtless during much of the clip, Ursh is shown pining after his “baby,” serenading her in dark alleys, and doing an impressive pull-up to kiss her on a rooftop (at 3:40 below).


TIFF Chooses Hockey Musical For Opening Night

Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(July 14, 2010) Hockey Night in Canada does not resume until October, but the Toronto International Film Festival will open on Thursday, Sept. 9, with its own pre-season hockey night.

Score: A Hockey Musical, directed by Michael McGowan, has been chosen for the opening-night gala at Roy Thomson Hall, as TIFF do-director Cameron Bailey will announce at a media conference on Wednesday.

McGowan achieved major box-office success across Canada with his previous movie, One Week, helped by Mongrel’s smart marketing campaign. TIFF is the perfect launch for Score, which will open theatrically on Oct. 22.

It’s the story of a 17-year-old wunderkind named Farley (played by Noah Reid) who has not been prepared for this kind of life by his parents (Olivia Newton-John and Marc Jordan). Among the celebs in the cast are Nelly Furtado, George Stroumboulopoulos, Dave Bidini and Evan Solomon.

Here is what will not be announced until later: TIFF’s first weekend will climax on Sunday, Sept 12 with another Canadian premiere in the gala spotlight at Roy Thomson Hall. It’s Barney’s Version, the eagerly awaited screen version of Mordecai Richler’s final novel, produced by Robert Lantos and directed by Richard Lewis.

With these developments, the four-day opening weekend is shaping up as the most unusual and memorable in the festival’s colourful 35-year history.

Start with opening night. The good news is that once again Canada and its talented moviemakers will be in the spotlight on the red carpet. It will be provide a boost for McGowan, for distributor Mongrel Media, and for anyone who cares about both pucks and cameras.

Still, this is going to be weirdly different from opening night of years past.

Sept. 9 happens to be the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Hebrew New Year, so the familiar faces of Jewish gold patrons and Jewish industry players from both Canada and the U.S. will be mostly absent.

So you can expect Sept 9 to be not only Hockey Night at TIFF but also Gentile Night at TIFF.

The demographics will change dramatically by Sunday, Sept. 12, when Barney’s Version — which promises to be one of the most successful Jewish/Canadian movies of all time — gets its day on the red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall. That will make for a night of huge emotion and celebration for the Jewish community and for Richler’s many followers.

On the very same day, just a few blocks away, the public and the media will have their first chance to visit TIFF’s new home, Bell Lightbox, at the corner of King and John Sts.

The night before — and yes, we mean the ninth anniversary of 9/11 – there will be two or three high-end events by invitation only at the Lightbox, including a sit-down dinner where CEO Piers Handling and other TIFF executives and board members will mingle with the likes of Ivan Reitman and the Daniels Group (development partners in the project), architect Bruce Kuwabara, senior government representatives and high-end donors, including corporate VIPS from major sponsors Bell, Visa and RBC Financial.

The 2009 festival broke with tradition by opening with a non-Canadian gala: Creation. TIFF might have been forgiven for choosing a frightfully British movie had it not also turned out to be frightfully boring.

In 2010, it will be showing its love for both hockey glory and Mordecai Richler. It’s hard to imagine a double header with more crowd-pleasing Canadian content than that.

Barney’s Version, a Canadian/Italian co-production, has a dream cast including Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman, Scott Speedman and Bruce Greenwood.

A hugely successful test screening in Toronto last month has raised expectations to a feverish level.

Richler, who sometimes showed more enthusiasm for hockey action than movies, was aiming a dart at Lantos when in his last novel he invented a film company called Totally Unnecessary Productions. But even he might have considered the screen version of Barney a Totally Necessary Production.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dream Job

Source: www.thestar.com - James Rocchi

(July 11, 2010) BEVERLY HILLS—Trim and relaxed in a dark suit — shirt collar open, no tie — Leonardo DiCaprio smiles when he's asked about his own dreams about writer-director Christopher Nolan's big-budget action Inception.

DiCaprio has the lead role in the movie, which opens Friday, about a crew of dream-invading industrial espionage experts, led by DiCaprio, who literally enter the dreams of their targets.

“I'm not a big dreamer; never have been,” replies the star.

At the same time, DiCaprio knew that he'd do well to go along with the creative visions of Nolan, who previously turned pop culture and pop psychiatry into billions of dollars of box office, critical acclaim and Oscar nominations with The Dark Knight.

“I realized that (Inception) is Chris Nolan's dream world; it has its own structure and its own set of rules. And doing that, it was basically being able to sit down with Chris for two months every other day and talk about the structure of this dream world, and how the rules apply in it.”

DiCaprio has nothing but praise for Nolan's ambitions and audacity.

“There's very few directors that would pitch to a studio that they wanted to do a multi-layered — almost at times existential high action, high drama surreal film that's sort of locked in his mind. And then have an opportunity to do that, a testament to the work he's done in the past.”

Great measures have been taken to keep Inception's plot and secret under wraps, but it's not spoiling anything to confirm that in the film, DiCaprio's dream-spy Dom Cobb is constantly confronted by visions of his ex-wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) — and, thanks to the rules of Nolan's dream world, she's a very real danger.

Asked if there are similarities between Inception and Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island from earlier this year — another film with DiCaprio playing a character haunted by loss and hunted in a dangerous world where nothing is real — DiCaprio agrees.

“These types of films that are psychologically sort of dark at times, I find extremely exciting to do because there's always something to think about. There's nothing more boring than to show up on set and say a line and know that your character means exactly what they say.”

It was not, however, all big-brained brooding and psychological exploration for DiCaprio. As he explains the scope and scale of Nolan's film as it leapt from Africa to Alberta, you can hear the film fan inside the movie star.

“(Inception's) story structure was extremely complex,” he says. “Simultaneously, you had four different states of the human subconscious that represented different dream states, and each one affected the other.

“What was startling to me was seeing it in a visual format; that's the magic of moviemaking,” DiCaprio adds. “You clearly identify one scenario or the other, and it's a completely different experience. The snow-capped mountains of Canada, whether you're in a van or a L.A. elevator shaft or Paris or London.”

Adds DiCaprio, “you experience it and you have a visual reference. And it was a lot easier to understand than I ever thought it would be. And that's a testament to how engaging movies are.”

One of the film's locations gave DiCaprio his biggest workout, in the form of old-fashioned run-and-bump foot chase film making at its finest.

“The sequence in Morocco was pretty tough because I had to run through a crowd of people. I felt kind of like a pinball, because I was bouncing from Moroccan to Moroccan and falling into various vending machines.”

That down-to-the ground filming style helped DiCaprio in some of the film's more fantastic moments. “This was my first science fiction film. The earliest conversations I had with Chris were how both of us have a hard time with science fiction — we have a little bit of an aversion to it, because it's hard for us to emotionally invest in worlds that are too far detached from what we know.

“But emotionally, as far as the character's journey, I took everything as if it was real. You know, you have to. Otherwise you're not invested in the character, you're not invested in the character's journey and you know you're not going to make it believable to an audience. Everything is real, in essence.”

DiCaprio appreciates working with the cream of the crop of directors. And, to be blunt, it's assumed they appreciate the instant bankability and promotion his casting brings to their films. But DiCaprio isn't taking the path of least resistance, either, preferring to pick tougher dramas and bolder films over sequel-friendly franchise fare.

“I guess a lot of my films have been more serious in tone, but that's something that I don't try to deny. I get to choose the movies that I want to do,” he says.

“A lot of my friends are actors so I realize every day how lucky I am to have this opportunity. So while I'm here? I'm going to try to do exactly what I want.”

Adorable Orphans Charm Diabolical Villain in Heartwarming Animated Adventure

Source: Kam Williams

Despite the fact that the title character at the center of
Despicable Me might sound a little bit like Shrek, don’t let any superficial similarities discourage you from catching this equally-delightful animated adventure. Yes, at first blush, its ugly antihero is reminiscent of the much-beloved ogre, but it doesn’t take long for this variation on the theme to blossom into a thoroughly original persona.

Gru (Steve Carrell) is a hook-nosed hunchback with a vaguely Transylvanian accent who has singlehandedly ruined the otherwise idyllic slice of suburbia where he resides. Everyone on the block has learned to give the gruesome-looking misanthrope a wide berth; after all, his house is not only painted black but surrounded by a dead lawn. Plus, whenever he ventures into town in his road-hogging, jet-propelled tank, he tends to cause minor disturbances, like when he used one of his inventions to freeze everyone on line in front of him at the local coffee shop.

None of Gru’s intimidated neighbours have any idea that he’s secretly a megalomaniac poised to hatch an elaborate heist from his basement laboratory with the help of a loyal army of miniature minions. And why is he bent on world domination? Because he’s frustrated with being only the second most evil villain around, right behind the diabolical Vector (Jason Segel) who has just stolen the Great Pyramid at Giza and replaced it with an inflatable replica. Gru hopes to eclipse his competition and become #1 by using his latest invention, the shrink-ray gun, to make the moon disappear.

However, he meets his match the day that a trio of innocent orphans selling cookies door-to-door naively rings the bell. For Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) are so desperate to be adopted that they manage to ignore the mean man’s gruff exterior, since all they see in him is the potential to be turned into a doting dad. He grudgingly lets the vulnerable girls move in, and their playful nature and wide-eyed requests to be read bedtime stories gradually melt his cold, cold heart.

Still, en route to the happily ever after finale, the plot thickens when the children are kidnapped by the vicious Vector, which affords Gru the opportunity to morph from selfish creep to altruistic benefactor. Meanwhile, co-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud understand exactly how to employ the latest 3-D technology, and the frenetic action keeps you ducking from and reaching out to touch hovering objects as if you’re right in the midst of a virtual reality. Another big plus is the original soundtrack courtesy of Pharrell Williams whose mellow mix of hip-hop and retro R&B makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

The most adorable screen orphans since Annie! 

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for mild action and crude humour.
Running time: 95 Minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
To see a trailer for Despicable Me, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffxEobkkGeM

Mia Wasikowska - No Longer A Kid, And More Than All Right

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(July 9, 2010) Once in a while, a translucent actress comes along, a young woman whose emotions and responses are not just readable, but luminously so. These ingénues are so sensitive, they seem to feel the touch of the very air on their skin, and they make us feel it, too. They serve to remind us, oh so delicately, of our own insensitivity – of how often we hurt one another, and of how we dull our feelings to avoid being hurt. Mia Wasikowska, 20, is one of those actresses.

In her extremely short career – five years, and only two of those in North America (she’s Australian) – Wasikowska has created a canon of memorable characters, who bear the weight of the yearnings and foibles of adults who should know better: Sophie, the driven gymnast on In Treatment, who stirred Gabriel Byrne’s fiercest protective instincts. Chaya, the young Jewish bride in Defiance, whose forest wedding was shot in, literally, a shaft of light amid the darkness of Nazi persecution. The title character in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, whose naturalism was the only thing that kept that movie from spinning completely out of control. Their souls may be weary-wise, but they’re still young enough to squeak when they cry.

The new film, The Kids Are All Right, which opened yesterday, also relies on Wasikowska’s expressiveness. Her character, Joni, not only has to rise above a breach of trust among her hyper-self-aware lesbian parents (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) and her sperm-donor father (Mark Ruffalo); she also has to live up to being named after Joni Mitchell. She’s believably contemporary, but also believably innocent – not unlike the actress herself.

Wasikowska grew up in Canberra, Australia, with an older sister, a younger brother and their artist parents: mother Marzena Wasikowska is a photographer from Poland, and father John Reid is a painter and collagist from Australia. “I was surrounded by a lot of art and culture,” Mia said in a phone interview. “I was so far removed from the film industry that it still surprises me that I’m a part it, though my mum did bring us up watching European cinema and independent films.” Early favourites include Gillian Armstrong’s My Brilliant Career, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy.

When Wasikowska was 8, her mother, who had left Poland at age 12, got a grant to produce a body of work based on her memories. The family moved to Poland for a year, also travelling through France, Germany and Russia. “There’s something about being taken out of your world at that age,” Wasikowska said. “You’re old enough to absorb it and take it all in, but not judge it or have any preconceptions.”

Mia and her siblings posed for some of their mother’s photos. “I always had fun being photographed by my mum,” she said. “We never had to smile or perform. We weren’t always conscious of being photographed. We’d just do our thing, and she’d take pictures of us. It’s how I like to work in films as well. I like to be absorbed in what my character’s doing.”

She’s wasn’t a show-boaty kid. “That’s the irony of my having this career – I really didn’t like performing,” Wasikowska said. “I hated getting up in front of the class, and I hated doing drama at school, because I wasn’t a performing personality.”

She was, however, a committed dancer. At 14, she was practising ballet and modern dance for 35 hours a week, in addition to going to school full-time. “But it became so much about perfectionism, trying to achieve this perfect image,” she said. “That started to really get on my nerves. I was watching a lot of films that were about the opposite, about imperfection, and I really liked that. I thought I’d give acting a try, never really expecting it would take off.” Though she never took an acting class – “I learned by watching the people I’ve worked with” – she landed a TV job almost immediately. She’s hardly stopped since, finishing high school via correspondence courses so that she could continue the Australian curriculum.

“Dance has such an intensity to it,” Wasikowska said. “You become, in a way, an intense person. Your mind gets swept up in it. It’s kind of like your passion and your torment at the same time. It’s hard being a young person and trying to do something that is very adult.”

When asked if that’s true for acting, too, she giggled. “Coming from dance, I feel acting is – I’m not going to say easy, because it’s not,” she said. “But the dance world is more hard-core. Ballerinas are really worked hard. And they don’t get all the luxuries that we get in the film business: We get picked up, pampered, people please us.” She stays grounded by going home to Australia between jobs, “where I live a really normal life.

“The jobs I enjoy most are the ones where I never feel like I’m performing,” Wasikowska continued. “I’m just feeling things. It’s an organic process.” Though she had fun working on Alice, she prefers “working in actual environments with actors, because you can bounce off their energy. It just feels more natural than standing opposite a tennis ball and trying to pretend it’s the Cheshire Cat.”

She has two big films coming up: She’s the title character in Jane Eyre, due out later this year, directed by Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) and co-starring Michael Fassbender (Hunger). “There were certain moments on set where I’d go, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ ” Wasikowska said. “You can’t believe you’ve been trusted with a character like Jane Eyre, and you want to do her justice. In the novel, she’s 18, but she’s always been played by older actresses. It’s kind of fun to play her as a teenager, with these insane responsibilities. If she was living in our time, she’d really thrive.”

And next year, Wasikowska will star in the eccentric love story Restless, directed by her “hero,” Gus Van Sant. “It was incredible,” she said, sighing happily. “There was a whole level of fussiness that was completely not a part of that set. We sat on appleboxes and on the floor. It felt like a bunch of people making a movie, as opposed to you being a cog in something. Gus involves you on a deeper level. I felt very encouraged.”

She also loves how Van Sant presents teenagers “in a sophisticated light,” she said. “He gives them a lot of credit for their emotional capabilities. Teenagers live really complex emotional lives. And that’s something that doesn’t always come through in teen films. Most teen films, I can’t relate to. I sit there going, ‘Who felt that comfortable in themselves at 16?’ Because everybody’s in some kind of turmoil at that age. Those are the characters I really respond to.” And it shows. 

Will Smith, Debbie Allen Behind S. Allen Counter Biopic

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 14, 2010) *Will Smith and Debbie Allen are among the producers developing a film about modern-day explorer and African-American neuroscience professor Dr. S. Allen Counter.

According to Variety, Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz of Overbrook Entertainment are teaming with Allen for the Sony feature, with Farhad Safinia (“Apocalypto”) tapped to pen the script.

Smith, who’s worked with Counter in the past on such projects as Haiti relief, is only attached as a producer at this point.

Counter began his research on indigenous peoples in the 1970s in Surinam on the rain forest descendants of 17th and 18th century African slaves. Along with David Evans, he produced a documentary on the culture and history of the rain forest peoples called “I Shall Moulder Before I Shall Be Taken.”

In 1986, Counter traveled to northern Greenland on a scientific mission and found the sons of the North Pole co-discoverers Robert E. Peary and African-American Matthew Henson, then raised funds to finance the journey of these sons and their families to the U.S. to meet their American relatives. Counter also sought recognition for Henson’s contributions to Arctic exploration.

Counter discovered a group of African-descended people in the Andes in 1993 and produced another documentary, “Lost Africans in the Andes.” He has also written “North Pole Legacy: Black, White and Eskimo” and “I Sought My Brother: An Afro-American Reunion.”

Counter is currently the director of the Harvard Foundation of Harvard University and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. He was also appointed Consul General of Sweden in Boston and New England in 2004.

Overbrook produced Sony’s redo “The Karate Kid,” starring Smith’s son Jaden. Smith is returning this fall to topline Sony’s “Men in Black III,” due out in 2012.

Joaquin Phoenix Movie No Mockumentary, Producers Insist

Source: www.thestar.com - Reuters

(July 14, 2010) A movie chronicling Joaquin Phoenix's puzzling 2009 decision to retire from acting and reinvent himself as a hip-hop musician will debut in U.S. movie theatres in September — and distributors insist it is not a mockumentary.

Independent movie distributors Magnolia Pictures said on Wednesday they had acquired world rights to I'm Still Here, describing it as “a portrait of an artist at a crossroads.”

The movie, directed by Phoenix's brother-in-law, actor Casey Affleck, will open Sept. 10.

Phoenix's surprise retirement announcement in February 2009, followed by a bizarre TV appearance as a mumbling, shaggy-haired guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, had industry watchers wondering if his new act was a hoax.

Magnolia Pictures spokesman Matt Cowal told Reuters on Wednesday that I'm Still Here is “not a mockumentary by any means. I think the film speaks for itself.”

Cowal said Phoenix's participation in promotional events for the release was as yet “undetermined.”

Phoenix, 35, was nominated for an Oscar for playing country singer Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic Walk the Line. His last movie was the 2008 drama Two Lovers, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow.

Phoenix said he was quitting acting because he was bored and that hip-hop had always been a passion. Last year, he said he was working on a mostly self-produced album with help from rapper Sean (Diddy) Combs. No album has yet been released.


Angelina Jolie Has No Plans To Pack It In

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(July 11, 2010) WASHINGTON, D.C.—You haven’t seen the last of Angelina Jolie, despite a Vanity Fair cover story that reports she’s considering quitting acting. “They know how to sell a magazine,” Jolie said with a tight smile and a roll of her eyes during an interview in Washington Saturday about her new spy thriller Salt, opening July 23. “No, I simply said that in the years to come I’ll be doing less of acting and more of other things,” Jolie said. “It’s really not that interesting.” Those “other things” include time with her family (she and partner Brad Pitt are parents of six children) and her ongoing work with several charitable causes, many of them involving kids. She’s also a Global Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In Vanity Fair’s August cover story — complete with several photos that show off Jolie’s mysterious new inner-thigh tattoo, which she will only explain is “for Brad” — the actress said she loves her “fun job,” but maybe not for long. “It’s a luxury … But I don’t think I’ll do it much longer,” Jolie told Vanity Fair. But Jolie, who just finished shooting The Tourist in Venice with Johnny Depp, told reporters while she was in Washington that she is considering several new projects, including a movie based on sleuthing medical examiner Kay Scarpetta from the series of bestselling novels, and a movie about the original sex symbol, Cleopatra.

Greenberg Fearless, Not Fun

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(Alliance Films)
(out of 4)

(July 12, 2010) As titular misanthrope Roger Greenberg,
Ben Stiller presents one of the most unsympathetic characters ever seen in a film that purports to be a comedy. For this, he at least deserves credit for bravery, although it is difficult to watch how he treats Florence (Greta Gerwig), the woman of his indifferent affections. Roger is a failed indie-rock musician, who blew his one big chance at fame and fortune. He’s never really recovered from his mistake, and now lives in a near-comatose state of disregard for everybody and everything. He’s travelled from New York to L.A. to homesit for his successful brother. He meets Florence, and there is mutual interest, but sourpuss Roger will have to rouse himself out of his torpor, hardly a sure thing. It’s another skewed view of modern romance from writer/director Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding), and it leads precisely nowhere. But Stiller redeems the film with his astute observation of a man who is offered much yet can’t see past his own disillusionment. Extras include discussions about the film by Bambauch and a making-of featurette.

::TV NEWS::\

Global Hires NBC's Dawna Friesen To Anchor Flagship Newscast

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry and Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(July 13, 2010) For the second time in less than a week, a woman has been named the “best person for the job” to take one of the country’s elite journalism posts, at the helm of a flagship newscast.

It was announced Tuesday that Winnipeg-born, globetrotting NBC correspondent
Dawna Friesen will succeed Kevin Newman as the anchor of Global National.

Last Friday, Lisa LaFlamme was named to succeed Lloyd Robertson at CTV National News.

With rumours of Friesen’s selection bandied about the industry last week, it seems as if CTV bested Global with the historic proclamation of the first woman in Canada to permanently anchor a national weekday evening newscast.

“Perhaps that could be the intent, but it seems — in the response we’re getting — perhaps they added to the shine,” said Kenton Boston, vice-president of Global National News. “What it did do is spark a debate in Canada about what is a national newscast and the role of a national newscast. . . . It’s not a CTV story exclusively; it’s one about the industry, and we are big players and ready to go with it as well.”

With Newman’s last broadcast slated for Aug. 20 and Friesen due to start work in September, she will actually assume the prestigious broadcast chair before her CTV rival; Robertson winds down over the next year, with LaFlamme filling in here and there until he retires.

Friesen, 46, flew in for less than 36 hours from London, where she’s stationed for NBC News, to attend the news conference Tuesday announcing her appointment.

“It is a homecoming,” she told reporters. “I left a little piece of my heart here.”

More urgently, her 5-year-old son Lucas “thinks of himself as British, and that’s got to change.”

Friesen won an Emmy award in 2009 for her part in team coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign of Barack Obama. At NBC since 1999, her assignments have included, the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade, the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan, the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, reaction in the Arab world to the conflict in Iraq, and the guerrilla war in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein.

But when asked if NBC tried to counter Global’s offer, she said it was “no contest.”

“I knew for some time that I wanted to come back and I just didn’t know when I would, or in what capacity, so when this presented itself it seemed right.”

Friesen graduated from Red River in 1984 with a degree in communications and got her first news job in 1985 at a small newspaper in Portage la Prairie. She worked in broadcast journalism across Canada, with stints as a reporter and anchor for CBC-TV and CTV. Her husband, Tom Kennedy, is the London bureau chief for CTV News.

Peter Mansbridge - O Come, All Ye Faithful, The News Awaits

: www.globeandmail.com

(July 12, 2010) For years now, I’ve been calling CBC’s Peter Mansbridge “Pastor Mansbridge” in my columns. It isn’t just a joke. The job of a national news anchor is to be a pastor-like figure, a reassuring presence, calmly delivering news of the world’s changes and calamities every evening.

Canadians really like their reassuring news-delivery people. In this we are either weirdly retro or charmingly loyal. Go figure. You see, in Canada, we follow Canadian sports, read Canadians newspapers and buy books by Canadian authors. We are much less inclined to watch Canadian TV shows. However, we sure do watch a lot of Canadian TV news. We are more than news junkies, actually, we are news-obsessives

Such is our delight in news that a good portion of Canadian TV is devoted entirely to lovingly mocking TV news. This Hour Has 22 Minutes has been going for years and it’s essentially a send-up of a nightly news program. Rick Mercerdraws even more viewers than 22 Minutes by relying entirely on Canadian news for comedy. Both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, parodies of news shows, have a larger viewership in Canada, proportionally, than they do in the United States.

We like our real news (served with great sobriety) and we like our fake news, because we are news connoisseurs. That makes the job of national news anchor one of the last great jobs in journalism. All you need is a bit of a thick skin.

Lisa LaFlamme knows this. Lloyd Robertson certainly knew it and Peter Mansbridge, who has never complained about being called “Pastor” sure knows it. Anyone can mock him, but Mansbridge is, apart from being very famous and well-paid, the chancellor of Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. That kind of gig comes with the territory when your job title is “Anchor and Chief Correspondent” for a TV network.

At noon on Tuesday, somebody else will find out what it’s like to have that great job. CanWest Global (such as it is these days) will announce the new anchor of Global National, its flagship news program. The lucky person will instantly become one of the most famous people in the country.

These are extraordinary days in the Canadian TV racket. There are, really, only three Canadian broadcasters: CBC, CTV and Global. Each has a critically important news component (most of the rest of what they do is comprised of frivolous entertainment, imported or homemade) to establish a meaningful connection with viewers. It’s the news division that brands the network with a kind of authenticity unreachable in any other way. And the news anchors are the all-important face of that crucial branding exercise. They are carefully chosen and there aren’t a lot of openings for the job. In recent years, it’s all been very stable. Lloyd Robertson at CTV, Peter Mansbridge at CBC and Kevin Newman at Global. In the space of five days, two of the three names will have changed.

Why? There’s no profound reason. If anyone in the political punditry racket in Ottawa thinks it has something to do with the looming threat of the right-wing SUN TV News, they’re delusional. Robertson has simply outlasted and bested all the others. A ratings champ, he will go out a successful man in his seventies, a winner to the end. Kevin Newman, a vigorous newsman and affable chap, wanted a change. And anyone who believed Newman was lined up to replace Robertson was foolish. CTV News has thrived by creating its own internal culture, nurturing its own talent and declining faddish changes and makeovers.

You wouldn’t catch Lloyd Robertson standing on the CTV News set, with some reporter he’s about to debrief, face-to-face like two people about to play hacky sack. Which brings us to CBC’s The National. CBC News has turned itself in knots trying to reinvent The National and CBC News Network. The catchphrase was “New look. New attitude” last fall when everything was relaunched. (The phrase appeared on the screen on CBC NN a lot, which was farcical.) If there’s a potential loser in the current eruption of change, it’s CBC. Even after a revamp and much marketing, The National is a ratings loser when compared with CTV’s nightly newscast. And Global National, which airs nationally at suppertime, has been doing just fine, easily outdrawing CBC’s The National.

Global’s new anchor will, like LaFlamme and Mansbridge, instantly have gravitas attached to them. That’s why being a news anchor is the last great job in journalism. While others have to write more, report more often and in faster fashion, plus blog and tweet and attempt to connect on multiple platforms, the news anchor is just there, like the pastor or the parish priest, calm and reassuring.

In Canada, a national news anchor is above all the hurly-burly of daily journalism and any hand-wringing about the future of traditional media. And, in a news-obsessed nation, the anchor is that very rare thing – a true Canadian star. Iconic. Famous and well-paid. Mocked but esteemed. Say hello to the reverend LaFlamme. Tomorrow, meet the revered somebody-or-other at Global.

Lloyd Robertson Announces Retirement

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(July 10, 2010) Canadian TV icon Lloyd Robertson is calling it a day. The chief anchor and senior editor of CTV News with Lloyd Robertson announced his retirement at the end of last night's newscast.

In the surprise statement, Mr. Robertson, 76, said he will continue in the anchor chair through the middle of 2011, which will make his tenure 35 years as host of CTV National News. Mr. Robertson also said he intends to move on to other roles within CTV News.

“There comes a time and this is it,” Mr. Robertson said. “I want to leave a suitable period for my successor to have a smooth and seamless transition. While I'll be hoisting anchor next year, I'll be continuing at CTV for some time.”

On Friday, the network announced that Lisa LaFlamme would replace Mr. Robertson.

Mr. Robertson, who will share anchor duties with Ms. LaFlamme in the next year, will continue in other roles at the network, including as co-host of W5.

Ivan Fecan, president and chief executive officer, CTV Globemedia and Chief Executive Officer, CTV Inc., paid homage to the departing news veteran in a release on Thursday.

“We are all sorry to see him step down as anchor,” said Mr. Fecan, “but we are buoyed by the fact that he will remain in the CTV family for as long as he likes and I personally hope that will be a very long time.”

Mr. Robertson began his broadcast career in 1952 at CJCS radio in his hometown of Stratford, Ont. He switched to television two years later when he joined CBC and spent four years stationed in Winnipeg, followed by two years in Ottawa. His strong delivery and unflappable on-air presence eventually led to him anchoring CBC's The National.

In late 1976, Mr. Robertson joined CTV and for the next eight years he co-anchored CTV National News with Harvey Kirck. When Mr. Kirck retired in 1983, Mr. Robertson became the network's senior news anchor.

Over the years, Mr. Robertson became known for signing off each newscast with the catchphrase, “And that's the kind of day it's been.”

Besides anchoring the nightly news, Mr. Robertson has been a key player in CTV's news coverage of special events, including breaking news, election coverage and the network's coverage of the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo and Calgary.

With a report from Jill Mahoney

Lloyd Robertson Announces Retirement

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(July 10, 2010) Canadian TV icon Lloyd Robertson is calling it a day. The chief anchor and senior editor of CTV News with Lloyd Robertson announced his retirement at the end of last night's newscast.

In the surprise statement, Mr. Robertson, 76, said he will continue in the anchor chair through the middle of 2011, which will make his tenure 35 years as host of CTV National News. Mr. Robertson also said he intends to move on to other roles within CTV News.

“There comes a time and this is it,” Mr. Robertson said. “I want to leave a suitable period for my successor to have a smooth and seamless transition. While I'll be hoisting anchor next year, I'll be continuing at CTV for some time.”

On Friday, the network announced that Lisa LaFlamme would replace Mr. Robertson.

Mr. Robertson, who will share anchor duties with Ms. LaFlamme in the next year, will continue in other roles at the network, including as co-host of W5.

Ivan Fecan, president and chief executive officer, CTV Globemedia and Chief Executive Officer, CTV Inc., paid homage to the departing news veteran in a release on Thursday.

“We are all sorry to see him step down as anchor,” said Mr. Fecan, “but we are buoyed by the fact that he will remain in the CTV family for as long as he likes and I personally hope that will be a very long time.”

Mr. Robertson began his broadcast career in 1952 at CJCS radio in his hometown of Stratford, Ont. He switched to television two years later when he joined CBC and spent four years stationed in Winnipeg, followed by two years in Ottawa. His strong delivery and unflappable on-air presence eventually led to him anchoring CBC's The National.

In late 1976, Mr. Robertson joined CTV and for the next eight years he co-anchored CTV National News with Harvey Kirck. When Mr. Kirck retired in 1983, Mr. Robertson became the network's senior news anchor.

Over the years, Mr. Robertson became known for signing off each newscast with the catchphrase, “And that's the kind of day it's been.”

Besides anchoring the nightly news, Mr. Robertson has been a key player in CTV's news coverage of special events, including breaking news, election coverage and the network's coverage of the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo and Calgary.

With a report from Jill Mahoney

Hour Of Power Pastor Robert Schuller Retiring

Source: www.thestar.com

(July 11, 2010) GARDEN GROVE, CALIF.—The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, founder of Southern California’s Crystal Cathedral megachurch and host of the Hour of Power televangelism broadcast, announced Sunday he will retire as lead pastor after 55 years in the pulpit and his daughter will take over.

The 83-year-old Schuller told his congregation that Sheila Schuller Coleman will become sole lead pastor, after sharing that role with her father for the past year.

The elder Schuller will not be leaving the church. He’ll assume the newly created position of chairman of the church’s consistory, which is its board of directors, The Orange County Register reported. And Coleman told the Los Angeles Times that her father will continue to preach “until the day he dies.”

Coleman previously served as principal of a private Christian school run by the cathedral and head of the Orange County church’s family ministries division.

She was ordained just a month before she was appointed to head up Crystal Cathedral Ministries.

“I’m very proud that Sheila has earned her doctorate at the University of California, Irvine, and that this university has declared her to (have earned) a distinguished alumnus award,” Schuller told his congregation during the 9:30 a.m. service. “Congratulations, I’m very proud of her.”

Coleman’s appointment comes two years after Schuller’s son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, split from the church during a family rift that made headlines. The younger Schuller had been groomed to take over for his father.

Robert A. Schuller is now part of Dallas-based American Life Network, a cable channel aiming to produce family-oriented programming.

Coleman, 59, lives in Orange with her husband, Jim, and has four grown children.

“That was emotional for me, and I’m humbled and honoured to be asked to take this responsibility,” Coleman said Sunday after being commissioned, wiping away tears as she addressed her congregation. “I truly know that God is here, he loves this ministry and my call is to help take the ministry into the future and to continue dad’s ministry.”

The 10,000-member all-glass church faces significant challenges under Coleman’s leadership.

Earlier this year the church said it saw revenue drop 27 per cent from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009.

Church leaders blamed the decline on the struggling U.S. economy. They sold 69 hectares in southern Orange County, including a retreat and wedding centre, laid off employees and cut Hour of Power from eight of the 45 domestic broadcast TV stations that air it.

The church also cancelled this year’s “Glory of Easter” pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple along with the church’s “Glory of Christmas” show.

Crystal Cathedral also faces legal action from more than 100 vendors who are owed millions of dollars for their work on the church’s pageants and other projects.

The senior Schuller first formulated his outreach to the unchurched in the mid-1950s when he opened a ministry at a drive-in theatre in the suburbs of Orange County that catered to Southern California’s emerging car culture. He pulled people in with his sermons on the power of positive thinking.

The little church later grew into the Crystal Cathedral, a worship hall with a soaring glass spire that opened in 1970 and remains an architectural wonder and tourist destination.

The Hour of Power telecast, filmed in the cathedral’s main sanctuary, at one point attracted 1.3 million viewers in 156 countries.

Information from: The Orange County Register, www.ocregister.com

Gleeful Emmys Mix Old And New

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(July 08, 2010) Emmy is singing the same old song with this year’s lineup of nominees. And yet there was somehow also room to cue up a couple of brand new tunes.

Literally, in the case of the freshman musical comedy Glee, leading the network pack with 19 nominations, including Best Comedy, Best Actress for Lea Michele, Best Actor for Matthew Morrison, and Supporting nods for both Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer.

Glee was bookended by two cable dramas, with HBO’s The Pacific topping all contenders with 24 nominations and last year’s Best Drama, AMC’s Mad Men, running a close third with 17.

Other first-year shows in the running include Modern Family and The Good Wife. both with multiple nominations. Sophomore Emmy debuts include Nurse Jackie and True Blood.

The greatest irony: Conan O’Brien’s short-lived Tonight Show was nominated in four categories, while usurper (and predecessor) Jay Leno came up empty.

Otherwise, it was all pretty much the usual suspects. My quick picks from the major categories:


• Mad Men: Been there, done that.

• Lost: It’s over. They copped out. Let’s move on.

• Dexter: Good show, bad season.

• True Blood: Teenage girls don’t vote.

• Breaking Bad: The best show on TV but resolutely difficult to warm up to.

And my winner is . . . The Good Wife: The best show on network TV. But realistically, it’ll probably have to wait till next year.


• 30 Rock: It doesn’t take a genius to see that this awards hog is bumping Big Bang Theory. Oh, wait. Maybe it does.

• The Office: You’d be surprised at how few times the much-nominated Office has actually won. And now it’s too late.

• Curb Your Enthusiasm: No one wants to hear Larry David’s acceptance speech.

• Nurse Jackie: Okay, I get that it’s a comedy. But the woman is addicted to OxyContin, lies to her best friend and cheats on her perfect husband. How funny is that?

• Modern Family: The most deserving, but it just doesn’t have that Gleek heat.

And my winner is . . . Glee.


• Hugh Laurie, House: Not even he wants to win.

• Matthew Fox, Lost/Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights: I’m sorry, but I really can’t tell them apart.

• Michael C. Hall, Dexter: See above, though his recent illness could win sympathy votes.

• Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad: Most deserving, but he’s won two years in a row.

And my winner is . . . Jon Hamm, Mad Men: After three unfulfilled nominations — two last year alone, for Men and his hilarious guest run on 30 Rock — this has to be his year.


• January Jones, Mad Men: Maybe if it was for Best Mannequin.

• Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU: The Susan Lucci of prime time, one win out of six nominations. Make that one out of seven.

• Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer/Glenn Close, Damages: Oh really? What a surprise!

• Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights: First time up. An honour just to be nominated.

And my winner is . . . Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife: She has the same one-for-six batting average for ER as Hargitay has for L&O. Except that this time she’s going to win.


• Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine: Make that old adventures. One out of seven nominations for Seinfeld. One out of four for Christine. Don’t push it.

• Tina Fey, 30 Rock: Please, make it stop. Once again, Tina is squeezing out the vastly more deserving Kaley Cuoco from Big Bang.

• Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation: Sadly, cute as a bug’s ear does not win Emmy votes.

• Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie: Much as I would love to see Falco win a Comedy statue to put on the mantle next to her three for The Sopranos, I just don’t think it’s in the cards.

• Toni Collette, The United States of Tara: How does she do it? Volume! But she won last year.

And my winner is . . . Lea Michele, Glee.


Let’s just cut to the chase. My winner is . . . Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory.

I mean, seriously, Tony Shalhoub for Monk? Again? The show’s been off the air now for, what, a decade? Talk about force of habit.

One final note: As wonderful as it was to see Modern Family weigh in with an impressive and much-deserved showing in 14 categories, whose brilliant idea was it to hire its English-mangling co-star, Sofia Vergara, to co-announce the nominees on Thursday morning?

At least, I assume they were the nominees. It was sometimes hard to tell.

The winners will be announced on Aug. 29.

Mounties Flank Regis And Kelly As They Bring Show To P.E.I.

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(July 12, 2010) CHARLOTTETOWN—Television stars Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa were flanked by eight Mounties as they greeted a throng of cheering fans and brought their New York-based show to Charlottetown's waterfront.

The popular morning duo, who normally host Live! With Regis and Kelly from Manhattan, kicked off their visit to P.E.I. with plenty of praise for the province's green rolling vistas.

Their first guest was a local chef who presented samples of the region's famous seafood.

Philbin drew laughs as he nibbled gingerly at a hotdog made from mussels and refused to sample an ice cream made with oysters.

Celebrity guests included Twilight star Peter Facinelli, style guru Carson Kressley and country sensation Lady Antebellum.

Live! With Regis and Kelly is slated to shoot four episodes in P.E.I., which will air through Thursday on CTV.

Tuesday's show was to feature a reinterpretation of the P.E.I. literary and stage classic Anne of Green Gables, titled Kelly Anne of Green Gables.

Soon after taking the stage on Monday, Philbin turned the cameras to four women in the front row who said they waited all night in the rain to make sure they got a good spot in the audience.

Philbin said he was especially in awe of the Mounties, who escorted the duo to the outdoor stage in Confederation Landing Park under overcast skies.

“In previous visits up here to Canada I have said as a young boy I just admired the Royal Canadian Mounted Police so much: the uniforms and the way they took care of the country,” Philbin said.

“It’s a pleasure now to have eight of them here escorting us out here today.”

Ripa gushed over the food, recounting a curry meal she enjoyed at a local pub over the weekend and said she spotted an eagle during a horseback riding trip with Kressley for a taped segment.

“I kind of feel like we're in the middle of painting,” said Ripa.

Tavis Smiley - The “Been in the Storm Too Long” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

From his celebrated conversations with world figures, to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, as a
broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change. He is currently the host of the late night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show on Public Radio International (PRI).

Time Magazine honoured Mr. Smiley in 2009 as one of "The World’s 100 Most Influential People." The Smiley Group, Inc. (TSG) is a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues. TSG serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet.

Here, Tavis talks about Been in the Storm Too Long, a special report on the City of New Orleans airing on PBS on July 21st ET/PT. He also speaks about the On Your Side Tour with Tavis Smiley, a series of free financial empowerment workshops he’s staging in various cities around the country between now and the end of 2010.

Kam Williams: Hey, what’s happening, Tavis? How’re you doing?

Tavis Smiley: I’m doing the best I can, brother. How about you?

KW: Things are hectic, as usual, but all is well.

TS: Oh, man, we’re both just trying to make our own contribution, brother.

KW: Thanks for the time, again.

TS: Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s a blessing to talk to you again.

KW: Since you were born in Gulfport, Mississippi, I have to first ask you what you think about the Gulf oil spill?

TS: I was just down there for about a week. We’re working on the third instalment of Tavis Smiley Reports.

KW: “Been in the Storm Too Long.”

TS: Yeah, exactly. In addition to my late night show, we’re doing four primetime specials this year, one every quarter. And it seemed obvious that in the third quarter it needed to be about the fifth anniversary of Katrina. I’m doing this one in conjunction with Academy Award-winner Jonathan Demme who is actually directing it. 

KW: So, how’re things down there?

TS: It’s hard to find the language to describe what it’s like when you see it in person. It is horrific, and there are a lot of questions we’re going to have to address once we get on the other side of this crisis. I recently had the former President of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, as a guest on my TV show. He has a powerful, new book out called, “Why We Hate the Oil Companies.” HERE

We had a really, really serious dialogue navigating through the politics of what happened, what President Obama ought to be doing, what BP ought to be doing, and how we can insure that this never happens again. It was a fascinating conversation. Still, when you see it in person, it’s horrific, for lack of a better term. It’s a major, major crisis, and I’m just sorry that the White House was a little slow moving on this, initially. But now, it seems like they’re fully engaged. So, I hope we can turn the corner on this disaster. We’ll see.  

KW: There are some people who are secretly happy about the President’s delayed response to the Gulf oil spill, given Bush’s failure in the wake of Katrina.  Let me read you part of an email I received recently from a brother from the South: “I say a pox on the racist whites of South Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida… Let the Gulf be a cesspool, a dead zone. Let the crackers and the rednecks be dispersed to find other places and other jobs.” He goes on to point out that after Hurricane Katrina, “a quarter million blacks were dispersed  across the country and not allowed to return to New Orleans and their homes, even though public housing was unaffected by the flooding. The white middle class racial oppression of the blacks was exposed, and the racial conspiracy was a foot with no substantial sympathy from them.” So, he obviously feels that blacks were abandoned, uprooted and disenfranchised after Katrina, so whites deserve the same treatment now.

TS: I hear what he’s saying. My response to that would be that two wrongs don’t make a right. We ought to live in a country where we will not abide the contestation of anyone’s humanity. That’s what’s wrong with America. Too many people’s humanity is being contested. The humanity of black folk was contested during Hurricane Katrina. The humanity of these fishermen and others who live or make their living off the Gulf coast is being contested now. In Arizona, the humanity of our Hispanic brothers and sisters is being contested. Whether it’s racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia or some other form of intolerance, I call all of these slights the contestation of humanity. The way forward is not playing tit for tat, and saying, “You killed my dog, so I’m gonna kill your cat.” It’s about celebrating, revelling in, and protecting the humanity of every American. I don’t think any group should be allowed to suffer because another one did. We have to rise to the occasion by recognizing everyone’s humanity. So, I hope that his opinion is rare.      

KW: I see that you’re going around the country conducting these free financial literacy workshops. But with the real black unemployment numbers way over 20%, of what value is financial literacy to people if they can’t even get a job?

TS: That’s a challenge, and one of the things I’m going to be talking about. I’m not naïve about this. I recognize that unemployment is triple and, in some cities, quadruple the national average. We have to find jobs, and we have to pressure the powers that be. One thing’s for certain: jobs won’t become available to the unemployed unless people start screaming, jumping up and down, and demanding that the powers that be do more to get the economy jumpstarted. Politics is not a spectator sport. Election season tends to be a good time to get the attention of leaders. So, I think that makes this a good time, Kam, to be having this conversation because people have questions, they have concerns, they have fears, they have anxieties and they want information about how to navigate through this, including those persons who might still be employed but are just holding on. Some folks have a job, but their retirement is exhausted, or maybe the cash saved for their kids’ college education has been shot or they’ve lost their home and had to downsize. So, there’s a lot to address, even though I can’t just show up and start handing out jobs. It’s really about getting people the type of information that will help them navigate their way through this crisis so they can come out of these challenging times prepared to put themselves on sure financial footing.  

KW: Illness and lack of health insurance is hurting a lot of people, too. 

TS: Healthcare is the number one reason for bankruptcy in this country. People will spend everything they have trying to hold onto their lives. In that regard, President Obama deserves credit for getting the healthcare bill passed, even though it was watered way down, and isn’t nearly what I think it should have been. 

KW: You mentioned elections. What do you think of that unknown candidate Alvin Greene winning the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina when he had no budget and never campaigned? That’s a real head-scratcher.

TS: I can’t figure it out, either. That’s the most bizarre story I’ve ever seen. There’s something going on down there. What, I do not know. I get the sense that the Democrats were asleep at the wheel. Who this guy is and how he got on the ballot, they’re only raising all these questions now, when they should’ve been raised before the primary, if the Democrats had done their due diligence.     

KW: I wonder why nobody’s talking about the possibility that there was vote fraud, since South Carolina uses paperless electronic voting.

TS: They ARE looking into the question of whether or not it might have had to do with the machines. If it turns out that he’s a Republican plant, it’s so unheard of and so very, very bizarre, that it deserves to have a book written about it. But I don’t think either party is that well organized to pull something like that off. We’ll get to the bottom of it eventually.

KW: Larry Greenberg says, “I've seen you bring together forces that I could never imagine at the same table. Is it the power of love or diplomacy that you have harnessed?” I think he might be referring to the Black Agenda Summit you convened in Chicago this Spring.
TS: Yeah, I hope it’s both. I love people, and I believe that diplomacy is a valuable tool in one’s arsenal. But beyond me, it’s about the people I invite. The people who are interested in engaging in discourse about making America better. In that regard, it’s not like I did something magical, you ask the right people, and they tend to show up. So, it’s about outreach. I can honestly say that while those forums are monumental and take a lot of work and energy to organize and pull off, I’d be lying if I said I had to twist anybody’s arm to be there.  

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls says, “Your career has taken many turns. What are your future goals?”

TS: That’s a good question. For me, the answer has always been the same. It’s about trying to love and serve people. I operate off of a very simple, but I think poignant definition of leadership. It’s this: you can’t lead people unless you love people. And you can’t save people, if you don’t serve people. Love to me means that everybody is worthy, just because all life has equal value, and everybody is worthy of a quality education, worthy of a good job, and worthy of living in a crime and pollution-free environment. Serving to me means trying to give people information that can help them live better lives. That’s always been my goal. It’s never changed, although it’s taken on a variety of forms, whether TV, radio, print, philanthropy or any of the other things that I do. But the real substance is trying to love people, trying to serve people.     

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

TS: A book by Tim Wise called Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equality. It’s a great book.  HERE

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

TS: That’s a powerful question, Kam. To be honest with you, I see someone who’s struggling every day to get it right. What I mean by that is sometimes you work really hard, and you look at everything you’re up against in the culture, in the society, in the economy, and in the body politic, and sometimes it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. So, I wake up every day, not depressed, but burdened by something, yet excited about making a contribution. It’s a struggle.  

I’m a very introspective person, but usually not this public about my introspection. 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

TS: The end of poverty, because with that there are so many issues that we struggle with that would immediately disappear. If we could eradicate poverty, the world would be a whole lot better place to live.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

TS: That’s another good question. Fortunately, for me, it was being loved by two parents. I was the eldest of nine. I can recall being nurtured and supported and paid a whole lot of attention by two very loving parents before the others kids showed up. I believe we are who we are because somebody loved us.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

TS: I’m not one to cook. I’m an eater not a cooker. And I love to eat anything my mother makes, except liver and onions. I can’t stand liver. But anything else Joyce Smiley prepares, I will happily eat. She’s the best cook in the world.

KW: My son’s at Princeton, and told me he got to meet you when you made a surprise appearance in Cornel West’s class last year.  

TS: Oh, cool. Give him my regards. How’s he doing?

KW: Will do. Very well, thanks.

TS: I was in town doing something with Dr. West, and I stayed over to attend his class. I love sitting in on his classes, especially his graduate seminars.

KW: One last question. As the consummate interviewer, are you willing to share with me a couple of questions I can ask everybody I interview?

TS: That’s a very, very good question. Yeah, let me think of questions that might work universally for a lot of different people… [Pauses] Because life is so short, I’m always fascinated by what people want their legacy to be and how they are doing in relation to creating that legacy. Some questions that could come out of that are: “What do you want your legacy to be?” and “As we sit for this conversation, where do you think you are in the process of creating that legacy?” That leads to these other questions that I love asking in some shape or form: “How introspective are you?” and “How do you engage in that introspection?” The point I’m making is that, typically, the questions we ask are about external things, because nobody wants to talk about the internal. However, Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’ve discovered that, however you phrase it, if you can get people to be introspective, you’re in for a very deep conversation. Introspection enables you to get to the heart of the matter. For me, the sweet spot is getting them to open up about their introspective process, how they see their lives, how they see their contribution. Once they start opening up, “Whew!” you’re off and running.  

KW: Those are some great questions, Tavis. You sure you don’t mind if I start using them?

TS: No, take whatever you want, Kam.

KW: Much appreciated. I promise to call them the Tavis Smiley questions. Thanks for another great interview.

TS: It’s always great speaking with you. Take care of yourself, brother

For more information, visit: http://www.tavistalks.com

To see a preview of Been in the Storm Too Long, visit HERE

To order a copy of Tavis’ autobiography, visit HERE 


Fishburne Joins Soderbergh’s ‘Contagion’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 9, 2010) *”CSI” star Laurence Fishburne will jump back into film as the newest cast member of “Contagion,” Steven Soderbergh’s ambitious 3D thriller due in theatres Oct. 21, 2011. The film contains multiple plot lines, but revolves around the threat posed by a deadly disease Fishburne will play a doctor. The cast already includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard. Scott Z. Burns wrote the script for the Warner Bros. release, which will also be available in regular 2D as well as IMAX 3D.

Betty White To Release A Pin-Up Girl Calendar

Source:  www.thestar.com - Rod Hagwood

(July 13, 2010) Talk about your vintage Pin-Up girl. Octogenarian-and-then-some Betty White is putting out a hottie 2011 calendar to raise money for one of her pet causes: The Morris Animal Foundation based in Denver, Colo. The star of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” will be seen in diva-on-the-divan kind of poses surrounded by a bevy of beefcake. Betty and her boy-toys hit store shelves in September and The Betty White Calendar will retail for $12.99. White is a long-time animal rights activist. Earlier this year White hosted “Saturday Night Live” after a grassroots Facebook campaign titled “Betty White to Host SNL (Please)” attracted 500,000 fans and Betty became their oldest host ever. Ratings were SNL’s highest since a 2008 show hosted by Ben Affleck. Fresh off of her No. 1 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers, she is also the last surviving member of “The Golden Girls” cast (Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty all died between 2008 and 2010).White is also a veteran of top-rated TV such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Mama’s Family,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Boston Legal,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and a whole host of game shows from “Match Game” and “Password” to “What’s My Line” and “To Tell the Truth.”


Ma-Anne Dionisio - The Real-Life Miss Saigon

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(July 09, 2010) Ma-Anne Dionisio doesn’t look on her performance as Kim in Miss Saigon as a return to the role she created here in 1993. Because in some ways she feels she’s never left it.

“I’ve been playing Kim on and off for seven and a half years,” she says of her role in the Dancap production, which is set to play the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts later this summer.

“It’s not just a part, it’s a part of my life,” she says, sitting on the terrace outside Balzac’s in the Distillery District.

Even in the glare of the bright summer sunshine, she looks almost exactly the same as she did 17 years ago, when she made her debut here, and certainly not like the 36 year-old single mother of three children: Niko (11), Cody (5) and Anya (4).

“I never get tired of doing it. I couldn’t,” she insists. “It’s always a different story, because the people telling it change and so does the world we live in.”

It’s also not as though Dionisio has been doing nothing but Miss Saigon all along.

She also toured the world as Eponine in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Les Miserables, including the historic Shanghai production starring Colm Wilkinson, which was the first English-language musical to be presented in China in 2002.

She was in Stratford’s 1999 West Side Story as Maria, starred on Broadway in Flower Drum Song and Mackintosh also beckoned again, having her take over the female lead of his production of Martin Guerre in London.

It’s been a long and varied journey for the sweetly smiling woman born in Manila on July 16, 1973.

“When I was still very young,” she recalls, “my parents moved to Taguig. It was a small town where everybody knew each other and I loved being able to go from house to house and feel safe.

“My parents were both in business, but my mother always wanted to be an artist and both of them always wanted the best life possible for their children.”

So in 1989, they made the decision to move their family to Canada.

“I’ll never forget how it happened. It was New Year’s Eve, my mother had just come home from a business trip to Germany and told us we were going to move in 20 days.”

And not just to Canada, but to Winnipeg. In January. “That was the easiest entry point for independent immigrants, who had no sponsors, like us. They warned us the weather would be a shock, but to go from 30 plus to 30 minus overnight was too much. The skin on my hands literally burst open and they were bleeding.”

Besides the climactic shock, there was a cultural one as well.

“We came from a very sheltered family, small-town life, governed by the Catholic Church. Suddenly we were seeing tattooed men on the street with Mohawk haircuts and piercings. I ate lunch in the washroom at school because I was so scared.”

Young Dionisio already had something to cling to, however, because she had discovered the performing talent inside her at an early age.

“I wanted to sing in the church choir, but I was only 14 and they normally didn’t let people in until they were much older, but they said if I showed up at 5 a.m. on Sunday, they’d give me a chance.

“I didn’t have an alarm clock, so I prayed ‘Please God, wake me up on time.’ The next morning, at just the right time, a giant cockroach fell onto me and I woke up screaming. I said ‘Thank you, God, for waking me up, but don’t use bugs the next time.’”

Dionisio’s singing career began zooming ahead and she had won a Philippines-wide TV talent show and was poised to become a star when her family’s move to Winnipeg intervened.

“I thought if that was the way God wanted my life to go, I would follow,” she says. “If he didn’t want me to be a singing star, then I would be the best children’s dentist in the world. Why a dentist? Well, I also knew I wanted to be a Mom and I thought being a doctor would take too much time away from my family.”

Dionisio wasn’t kidding. She calmly melted into the background at Tyndall Park high school, music was forgotten and she was studying as a dental assistant.

One day, however, she was singing while she worked and her teacher instantly brought her to the principal’s office, not for punishment, but so that he could hear her.

The magic happened again and she found herself starring in a special cross-Canada musical pageant to celebrate Canada 125. She even opened for Céline Dion in Ottawa.

Someone in the Toronto casting office of Mirvish Productions (who presented the original Miss Saigon with Mackintosh) saw Dionisio’s performance on TV and flew her to Toronto to audition for Miss Saigon.

Even though she was a 19 year-old girl with absolutely no theatre experience, she got the plum Canadian musical theatre role of the decade and found herself being directed by Nicholas Hytner, who went on to run the National Theatre.

“The way Nicholas directed me was like we were on a mission and this show was the biggest thing in the history of the world. That stayed with me.

“Nicholas was very adamant about storytelling. He would tell me that if the end of the helicopter scene, nobody applauded, I would have done my job properly, because the emotional intensity would have been so great.”

There have been a lot of highs like that in Dionsio’s life, but some lows as well. She recalls walking into one audition for Mamma Mia! and being told “You don’t look Swedish,” and being so embarrassed she left the room, never to return.

And although her children are “the beacon that lights my life,” it hasn’t always been easy being a single mother. “I seem to have a real knack for choosing the wrong man,” she says with just a touch of bitterness, describing the two men who fathered her children.

But overall, she feels “I have been blessed. I keep growing with Miss Saigon. This last time out, the first day of rehearsal in Pittsburgh, I started to sing the lines ‘There is a secret you don’t know. There is a force here I never show,’ and something just swelled up inside of me. A depth of feeling I had never known before. The whole rehearsal hall felt it too and everyone held their breath.

“That’s the power of this show. Still. After all these years.”


Michael Jackson

“I always wanted to meet him. The child in him protected the artist in him throughout his lifetime.”

Barbra Streisand

“She’s someone who knows what she wants and goes for it, regardless of what anyone thinks.”

Hugh Jackman

“He is the most perfect musical theatre actor to me. His timing is so precise and he is so true to whatever he is playing.”

Cate Blanchett

“That woman can do everything and anything. She can truly transform herself.”

Sandra Bullock

“I think she’s one heck of a charming, classy lady, with great comedic timing.”


Cedric the Entertainer Updates Us on His New Projects

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 11, 2010) *He’s got a big personality, a laugh you can’t forget, and lines that your stomach can feel.

Cedric the Entertainer shared some of his comedic methods with BlackVoices.com’s Wilson Morales and is looking forward to continuing his upward climb in the film world.

How do you try to stay current with what’s going on in the world as opposed to telling stories that happened in the past?

Cedric: My main thing is I try to write every week, if not every day. I try to write something that touched my funny bone, but I like to keep up with current events. I’m not a Lindsay Lohan joke person. I’m not going to talk about the people that’s always in the news with the same old things. I definitely got material on the oil spill that’s going on, I got material on the Arizona law with the racial profiling keeping the Mexicans out. I try to stay up to date and let things come to me, and that’s my approach. The audience loves big jokes. They love to see the things they know you for and want to see it live, but most of the time a comedy audience wants to be taken on a new ride almost every time. It’s a hard thing to do as a comedian, but it is the purposes of writing and staying busy, and the reason I like to stay on the road and stay performing.

Is it refreshing to do comedy since lately the films you’ve been doing you haven’t been able to show how funny you are?

Cedric: Definitely. I’ve been making some choices to do some dramatic roles, some smaller roles. It gives me that outlet, the opportunity to be who I am and not be edited by studio executives. These are the things I think are funny and the audience is here and you get that immediate response. I love that energy. Comedians who stop doing comedy usually miss that vibe that’s happening right in front of your face.

You have a couple upcoming films. Is your role in ‘Larry Crowne,’ opposite Tom Hanks, comedic or dramatic?

Cedric: It’s comedically dramatic. It’s that Tom Hanks thing he does like ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ It’s a romantic comedy, and my role is funny but done in a dramatic way ’cause that’s the way he was directing the movie. At
the same time it’s done in a very dramatic way. I definitely wanted to make my character real, but he’s just funny. It’s not really pushing towards the hard joke.

Are you acting alongside him?
Cedric: Yeah, I work with Tom and Taraji P. Henson, who plays my wife. We had a blast. Julia Roberts is in the movie, and Pam Grier, but I didn’t do anything with them. I’m mainly with Tom Hanks and Taraji in most of my

One of the things people are looking forward to is your portrayal of Ralph W. Abernathy in Lee Daniels’ next film, ‘Selma.’ Is that still going to happen?

Get Cedric’s answer and MORE of this article, HERE.

Mike Birbiglia - The Loser’s Way To Sex, Women And Money

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

Mike Birbiglia
At the Berkeley Street Theatre In Toronto, on Wednesday

(July 12, 2010) There’s a Seinfeld episode which deals with couples, and the upper hands therein. The hapless character of George Costanza, as you might imagine, needs his girlfriend more than she needs him. He has, as it is explained, “no hand” as it pertains to the relationship hierarchy.

The story-weaving U.S. comedian
Mike Birbiglia, who is presenting his new one-man show My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend at the Just for Laughs Toronto festival, would relate to Constanza’s situation – just as many non-alpha-male men and non-hottie women would relate to Birbiglia’s. Here’s a schmo-like guy, who, in a humourlessly self-deprecating way, sees himself as a “sex-maybe” fellow. That is to say, when women size him up, they think to themselves, “I could have sex with him, maybe.”

Flashing back and forth between the puppy loves of his youth and his current relationship, Birbiglia endearingly presents a depiction of relationships as life’s ultimate compromise – that in order not to be lonely, men and women not only settle for the second-best partner, but sometimes submit to the realization that they themselves are the runners-up.

“ The show’s title is literal: More than once Birbiglia has found himself in the role of a sort-of half-boyfriend, sharing a female’s affections with someone else (in an aboveboard way)”

The conceit is that men and women fall in love, fighting the instinct that they could do better. (An instinct that Darwin would no doubt find quaint.)

Birbiglia’s previous routine was Sleepwalk With Me, an autobiographical off-Broadway show. His way with narrative comedy is less sophisticated than, say, Lewis Black’s or Dave Chappelle’s. There’s no sense of lecture to what this likeable Joe says, but he does believably present himself as an authority on awkward situations and poor self-esteem.

On those subjects he’s quite coherent and often dead-on funny. The show’s title is literal: More than once Birbiglia has found himself in the role of a sort-of half-boyfriend, sharing a female’s affections with someone else (in an aboveboard way). Upon meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, he arrives at their house to find that the former boyfriend is actually living there. The situation is made even more awkward when the party moves to the home of the boyfriend’s parents. There the demeaned, weirded-out Birbiglia finds himself angry, and yet still has the odd motivation to make a good impression – on the boyfriend’s parents!

Funny bits – and there is a good amount of them – include a joke on the sexual act of making out, which Birbiglia has visually likened to a dog devouring a meal of spaghetti. He’s no romantic, for sure. When he first met the woman he eventually fell in love with, it was not love at first sight. But he did think to himself that he would like to have sex with her, at least once.

As much as laughs, what this often luckless guy attracted was sympathy. More than once, the paunchy, dishevelled 32-year-old’s humiliating experiences elicited an “aww” from the women in the audience.

Upon the bittersweet 64-minute show’s completion, Birbiglia received a standing ovation. Did he deserve it? Or did his audience just feel sorry for him? It may not even matter. In a lover and in applause, you take what you can get.

Through Saturday, 7:30 p.m., 26 Berkeley St. (416-870-8000).


Sci-Fi Shooter Packs A Time-Travelling Punch

Source: www.thestar.com - Darren Zenko

(out of 4)
PS3 / 360
Rated M

(July 9, 2010) Maybe it’s the massive amounts of Doctor Who with which I’ve lately been dosing myself (Jon Pertwee all the way, babies), but somehow my head was in just the right place to be tickled by the convoluted time-travel plot at the heart of Singularity. And as with Doctor Who,
Singularity requires a little bit of squinting past the paradox and corniness in order to properly appreciate its many charms.

A sci-fi first-person-shooter in a market crammed with same, Singularity stands out by daring to take some real science-fiction steps beyond the usual “military character takes on an alien zombie invasion” setup these games use to frame their action. An abandoned top-secret Soviet weapons-research facility overrun with interdimensional mutants provides the setting in which our hero, Nate Renko, finds himself adrift in time, warping between the 1950s and the present day. Like any good time-travel story, Singularity is not so much about Renko finding out what happened on the island known as Katorga-12, but about making what happened happen, and/or undoing it. It gets a little mind-bendy.

All this I’m-my-own-grandpa plotting is laid atop a fairly standard but satisfying military shooter in which the standard one-man-army weapons load is leavened with a heaping helping of time-and-space-based superpowers; I found myself pleasantly reminded of 2004’s awesome but oft-forgotten Psi-Ops. As Renko progresses, he’ll learn to use the handy Time Manipulation Device to age or rejuvenate enemies and objects, tinker with gravity, erect force fields and more. He still spends a lot of his time hustling between cover points and shooting over convenient crates, but his sci-fi abilities make for some interesting tactical options, as well as providing the tools for some decently tricky puzzle-solving.

Aside from the time-travel theme and its associated gimmicks and surprises, the star of Singularity is the Katorga-12 facility itself. In both the present day and the 1950s, the base looks wonderful and feels complete and lived-in, filled with great touches of Eastern Bloc architecture and Soviet kitsch, with numerous notes, recordings and filmstrips adding colour, detail and depth to the setting, a setting that’s constantly changing in interesting (and often goosebump-inducing) ways as Renko mucks with the past. In its visual design and methods of place-creation, Singularity does owe a lot to other games such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Fallout 3, BioShock (hello, inexplicable profusion of single-message reel-to-reel recorders!), but if you’re going to bite other games’ tricks, you could pick worse targets.

To call a game “solid” sounds like damning with faint praise, as when a wine is described as having “good drinkablity”, but that’s what you get with Singularity. Solid science-fiction ideas, solid level design, solid story and voice acting (with the usual caveat re: Russian accents), solid visuals and solid super-soldier military-shooter gameplay. It’s Singularity’s solidity, and its confidence in its solidity, that allows it, even as it evokes and borrows from many other games, to create its own identity within its overcrowded niche. 

Excess TV, Computer Video Games Linked To Poor Attention In Classroom: Study

Source:  www.thestar.com - Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press

(July 6, 2010) Children who spend many hours a day glued to the TV or playing computer video games may be harming their ability to concentrate and focus on tasks in school, researchers suggest.

A study by psychologists at Iowa State University found that kids who exceeded the recommended two hours per day of screen time were 1-1/2 to two times more likely to have attention problems in the classroom.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend that parents limit a child’s screen time to one or two hours daily.

“There isn’t an exact number of hours when screen time contributes to attention problems, but the AAP recommendation of no more than two hours a day provides a good reference point,” said lead author Edward Swing, a psychology doctoral candidate.

“Most children are way above that. In our sample, children’s total average time with television and video games is 4.26 hours per day, which is actually low compared to the national average.”

Co-author Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State, said research has suggested that the average child in the U.S., and likely in Canada as well, spends many more hours per day with screen-based technology.

A study earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation found kids aged eight to 18 devote almost eight hours on average per day to entertainment media, or about 53 hours per week.

“We were interested in seeing how children’s media habits might be influencing various aspects of their lives,” said Gentile, explaining that the study involved more than 1,300 children in Grades 3, 4 and 5, and 210 college students.

The researchers, whose paper is published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, assessed the elementary schoolchildren using reports from parents and kids about their video game and television habits, as well as teacher reports of attention problems. The college students provided self-reports of total screen time and attention problems.

“We had the teachers rate every child in the study on a number of things, including their school performance, their aggressive behaviour and their pro-social behaviour, as well as their attention problems,” Gentile said from Ames, Iowa.

The results were quite startling, he admitted. “In just one year, we would see attention problems in the classroom getting worse related to how much time kids are in front of television and video games.”

Gentile said the analysis did not look at whether the children had formal diagnoses of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, but their antsy behaviours “are the things that would get a child referred to the school psychologist to get tested for an attention problem.”

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said worries about the possible effects on children’s attentiveness have been around for decades, beginning with the advent of TV programs aimed specifically at kids.

Scientific evidence has been inconclusive, he said, with various studies producing conflicting results.

“But there are certainly many well-done studies — and this is one of them — that have found a link between use of media and shortened attention spans,” said Christakis, who was not involved in the research.

Video games, with their fast-paced action, flickering lights and high-decibel, shoot-’em-up sounds, are particularly over stimulating to the brain, he said from Seattle. “It actually causes people to view this high level of stimulation as normative. And by comparison, life is sort of boring. It doesn’t happen fast enough.”

“Life isn’t as interesting as video games are.”

While overdoing screen time may be linked to poor attention, as the study suggests, Judith Wiener wonders if there are other factors in the home that contribute to both a child’s inattention and the choice to spend hours watching TV, playing video games or texting friends.

Wiener, a professor of school and clinical child psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), said it may be that a focus on media technology means children aren’t getting enough exercise — which can lead to a lack of concentration.

As well, some kids may stay up late playing online video games, leading to poor attention caused by not enough sleep.

“I’m not saying these are the factors, what I’m saying is the study does not rule them out,” she said. “I think the study would have been more solid had they looked at some of these other possible factors. More research is needed to look at that.”

Gentile agreed, saying the authors aren’t claiming that electronic media are the cause of diminished attention. “We’re just trying to say that it looks like it may turn out that media are one of the causes.”

Still, the research suggests parents can help their children by limiting daily screen time, he said.

“This demonstrates that parents probably aren’t nearly as powerless as they might feel. Here might be a first thing that they can do that might help their children, so that the problem doesn’t get worse and they don’t need medication some day.”


Holland Fans ‘Heartbroken’ As World Cup Ends

Source: www.thestar.com - Jesse McLean

(July 11, 2010) More than a thousand Spanish soccer fans flooded the streets just east of Little Italy, shutting down portions of College and Bathurst streets and rerouting streetcar traffic in the area.

Dozens of partiers climbed atop an abandoned streetcar out front of the Plaza Flamingo dance club and restaurant, Toronto’s unofficial Spanish headquarters.

“We didn’t expect to win,” said Elena Fernandez, who is from Madrid and studying English in Toronto. “We would prefer to celebrate in Madrid with all our friends and family... But here there’s a lot of party so we are having fun.”

The scene was much different a few blocks away in Liberty Village, where Spain’s goal was met with stark silence.

No noisemakers. No vuvuzelas. Just silence.

“That hurt,” muttered one fan named Olaf.

As dozens watched on, many with their hands clasped over their mouths in prayer, others began heading home, their World Cup dreams shattered.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Leonard Kanters, with the words “
Hup Holland” painted in orange across his face.

“But it was an excellent game,” he said, correcting himself or perhaps just being optimistic. “Heartbreaking would have been is getting out in the corner finals,” he said, “We played great until the last minute.”

Other fans were less diplomatic.

“The ref was against the Dutch,” said Roeland Hoekstra. “Holland earned the World Cup. It was a bulls--t goal.”

There was one lone Spanish fan in the sea of orange, who braved jeers, taunts and the occasional threat during the game.

He said he had never intended to come to epicentre of Dutch fandom, “but my friends brought me here. I didn’t know we were coming to an all-Dutch crowd,” said A.J. Sherifi.

During the games halftime, Sherifi joked that he would flee the scene upon Spain’s first goal.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you’ve got to cheer for your team,” he said.

As Dutch fans left the bar, Spain supporters drove past them in cars waving giant Spanish flags, gloating and honking.

The post-loss mood for Dutch fans stands in grim contrast to the colourful lead-up to Sunday’s drama.

Before the big game, Toronto restaurant owners had taken out brilliant orange and red banners and turned on the big screen TVs, as fans broke out the face paint for Sunday’s World Cup final.

Sean Thompson, the owner of Betty’s on King, said hundreds of Netherlands fans had started gathering at the bar Sunday morning.

“They are all having fun right now,” said Thompson, before the loss. “Everyone is in orange, and it’s crazy. They are wearing everything you can think of. It’s a busy day.”

Along Queen St., a stream of cars displaying Dutch flags were blasting horns loud enough to drown out the sound of the vuvuzela horns.

Matt Dipoce, who was wearing a full orange body suit, says he bought the outfit online for $50.

“It’s the best purchase I’ve ever made,” he said. “The Dutch are killing it. They knocked out Brazil — the Number 1 team.

“I’m Italian and Slovenian but I like to say I’m Dutch,” he said.

He wasn’t alone. When the Dutch national anthem came across the speaker, half the crowd appeared not to know the tune, let alone the lyrics.

“They’re one of those countries that steals the most fans (from other countries),” said Tom Feret, a non-Dutchman but an avid fan of the country’s soccer team since the mid-1990s.

There were more than 1,000 Oranje fans packed onto Fraser Ave., near King and Dufferin Sts. Across the street from the School Bakery and Café, where many World Cup fans had congregated, a crowd was watching a flat screen on a patch of grass.

At the unofficial Spanish headquarters at College and Bathurst Sts., the party was well under way around an hour before the game, where lengthy lines had already formed to get into the Plaza Flamingo and El Rancho restaurants to watch the big game.

At least 300 people waited in a line to get into Plaza Flamingo, the crowd snaking around the block and south onto Bathurst St.

The sound of Spanish music filled the air, occasionally interrupted by whistles and blaring vuvuzelas.

More than 1,000 rowdy Spain fans crammed both floors of the Flamingo, where DJ Danny Galarza revved up the crowd with Spanish club hits.

“I feel like I’m in Hollywood,” Galarza said, gesturing to the excited crowd. “I’m hyped!”

Spain fans appeared mostly confident about the game’s outcome, but there was an underlying nervousness to their loud excitement.

“I’ve got butterflies, man, I’ve got butterflies,” said Albi Stermasi, covered in red face and body paint and wearing a red clown wig. “But we’re up for the challenge.”

Those who were turned away at Flamingo made their ways to El Rancho, Rancho Relaxo, Sneaky Dee’s and anywhere else with a big screen and a beer tap.

Blaring vuvuzelas, honking car horns, blasting whistles and shouts of “ESPANA!” all punctuated the usual street hum.

Hayley Koopman, 21, and Jeremy Von Bird, 24, were wearing the only orange in sight on College St.

“Do you know where we should go?” Koopman asked, though the pair was planning to watch the game at Plaza Flamingo, despite being overwhelmed by throngs of red-and-yellow clad Spain fans.

“Victory will be that much sweeter,” Von Bird said.


Serena Injures Foot; Ends World Team Tennis Play

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 14, 2010) *New Wimbledon champ Serena Williams will not be playing for her World Team Tennis squad this season because of a nasty foot injury.

The tennis star was set to join her team, the Washington Kastles, for the World Team Tennis season.

The co-ed professional tennis league features a total of 10 teams who compete against each other in matches that consist of five sets. Each set is a different style of tennis: men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles or mixed doubles. And in each set, coaches decide which player on their team will compete.

According to the Associated Press, Williams was scheduled to play against the New York Buzz on Friday and to play four other matches this season against teams from Philadelphia, Kansas City, and New York again.

“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to play in the WTT matches this season,” Serena said in a statement. “It is always such a fun experience, and I love interacting with the fans in the cities that I don’t often have the opportunity to play in during the rest of the year.”

Venus Williams will still be playing for the Kastles this season.

Other well-known tennis players who participate in the league: James Blake plays for the Boston Lobsters, Martina Hingis plays for the New York Buzz, Kim Clijsters and tennis legend John McEnroe play for the New York Sportimes, Maria Sharapova plays for the Newport Beach Breakers, Andy Roddick is on Philadelphia Freedoms and Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova play for the St. Louis Aces.

Last season, the Washington Kastles won the season when they defeated the Springfield Lasers.