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LE NEWSLETTER

July 22, 2010

What a difference good summer weather makes! For a remote second, I felt as though I was living in California because you can actually plan your evenings and weekends and not have to consider weather.  Everyone ... exhaaallleee

Last weekend I was so fortunate to check out the djing mastermind of
Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Tribe Called Quest, Lucy Pearl) at Revival in Toronto!  Thanks to

Main Ingredient for their kindnesses and generosity that evening.  Ali was hot and so was the crowd who exalted one of the original beat kings of hip hop!  As an added treat, Kayte Burgess was in town for a quick visit - you'll remember the hit track Kayte Burgess and Ali created, Now You Know.  Check out pics on my PHOTO GALLERY

This week brings such a raw edge to your entertainment news in terms of some life-changing and sometimes life-saving, moments.  You'll be happy to get an update on
Daniel Lanois' condition after his motorcycle accident, as well as Rosie Perez's stunt accident and her recovery, a inspiring story of Shannon Tavarezand this little girl's battle with leukemia as well as the loss to the dance world, in terms of Alvin Ailey's elegant Denise Jefferson.   If you believe in Heaven as I do, there will another angel added to their dance roster with her arrival.

Now, a little tip.  Whenever you see the word "
VIDEO" in an article title, check it out as that means there's a live performance that you DON'T want to miss.  Oh and another tip, check under TRAVEL today as there is a listing of great travel deals to sun destinations!  
 

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

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

::TOP STORIES::

‘I Almost Died,’ Daniel Lanois Says Of Motorcycle Accident

Source:  www.thestar.com - Nick Patch

(July 20, 2010) Surveying the damage inflicted by a motorcycle accident last month — his collarbone and pelvis fractured, six ribs broken and a still-worrisome amount of internal bleeding —
Daniel Lanois cannot help but think of how lucky he is.

The crash that brought his summer to a screeching halt could have been much worse.

"Hey man, I'm lucky to be alive," Lanois told The Canadian Press on Tuesday in a telephone interview from California, where he's recuperating.

"It could have been spinal. Luckily, I was wearing a full-face helmet. It could have been a head injury. It could have been anything.

"I almost died."

The accident occurred back on the first weekend of June in the scenic Silverlake enclave of Los Angeles.

Lanois, 58, was riding his dazzling BMW HP2 Megamoto — a two-cylinder Supermoto with a sleek blue frame and white tank. He was en route to the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, eager to hear a new band that had come highly recommended from a friend (he can no longer remember the act's name).

He was driving straight when somebody in front of him turned to abruptly pull into a corner store. Lanois sensed an impending collision and acted swiftly.

"I realized I was going to hit him, so I swerved to miss him," he recalled. "I missed him, but then I hit a static box on the sidewalk. It was like a little telephone box, and I smashed into that.

"That's it. I blacked out. When I came to, I was looking at the sky, and just people trying to help me. And somebody called 911, and that was it. They hauled me away.

"It was just an unfortunate accident. Old-school accident. Nothing crazy high-speed or anything. Just 35 miles an hour."

Lanois was then sequestered in intensive care in a California hospital for three weeks. Upon returning home, he was tended to by nurses, day and night.

He wasn't able to walk, so with his bed parked in the foyer of his L.A. home, his assistant set up some rings — "like gymnastics," he notes with a laugh — to allow him to pull himself out of bed.

"The night nurse was quite impressed with that display," he says with another laugh.

Indeed, the unfailingly friendly Lanois is surprisingly sanguine about the life-threatening incident.

The Quebec-born, Hamilton-raised producer chuckles often when recounting the details of the past month, whether marvelling at the way broken bones can fuse back together or kidding about soliciting sympathy for his condition.

"I'm using the Ray Charles technique," he joked, "which is (to) act more blind when the girls come 'round."

But Lanois is still in the thick of a long recovery.

He's most concerned about the amount of internal bleeding he may have suffered in the accident.

"The real problem is lots of bleeding around the lung," he said. "It has to be drained and monitored. A broken bone is not so bad, but internal bleeding is not so good.

"The main concern is my lung capacity. Because I think it's currently restricted by bruising around the lung, and there might be some dried blood laying in the bottom of the cavity there. So my lung is kind of bumping up against this big scab and scar tissue. So that's the concern, really.

"And I'm going to know better after I do a scan in a couple weeks."

There are signs of progress, too. Lanois regained his mobility 10 days ago, and he's hopeful that his broken bones will heal.

"I think the bones are going to be okay," he said. "I might look a little crooked, because the collarbone didn't mend straight, and neither did the ribs, so it's all a little cockeyed.

"But as long as I'm wearing my costume, you might not notice."

Lanois has been riding motorcycles since he was 16, and said this was his first accident. When asked whether he would ever ride again, he responded with a chuckle: "Well, I'm not going to ride this season."

He was more serious, however, about an outpouring of support from fans that lifted his spirits during a difficult recovery process.

"It's been kind of overwhelming and very sweet to receive so much attention," he said.

And of course, that attention hasn't only been flowing from fans.

Lanois, who has won Grammy Awards for his collaborations with U2, Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris, has received an outpouring of support from his peers as well.

Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant sent Lanois text messages lightly chiding him for his chosen mode of transportation ("You don't have to be on a motorcycle to get lucky," Plant told him) while Lanois said he also commiserated with Bono, who was recovering from emergency back surgery.

The accident did threaten to derail a typically busy year for the tireless Lanois.

He had to postpone the debut release from his new Black Dub outfit (it's now coming in early November, he said) as well as a planned tour, which he now hopes to complete next summer. For now, he says he still must avoid air travel.

Still, the accident didn't keep from him resuming work on Neil Young's latest album, which Lanois says is "fantastic."

"We followed a simple philosophy: it's a solo record," he said of the latest work from the legendary Toronto-born rocker, which Lanois says will be out in late fall. "So it does not have a band, but it's rocking. And he's really come in with the songs, they're terrific. I dare say it might be some of his best work in some time. We've really hit the motherlode.

"I've worked with Neil over the years in small doses . . . but we had never done something together from scratch. So let me put it this way: There's an automatic communication system that exists between two Canadian dogs. It's been a lot of fun, and we're very dedicated, and I think I finally met my match."

Lanois sounds relieved to be back to work. In fact, he resumed work on Young's record almost immediately upon returning home from intensive care.

Never one to waste much time, Lanois certainly isn't going to start now.

"I've always tried to make every minute count," he said. "But maybe that thought applies more now than it did before."

Video: Wheelchair-Bound Rosie Perez Reveals Surgical Scar

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 20 20,2010)  *
Rosie Perez is showing off the neck scar she suffered as a result of a particularly violent 2009 guest appearance on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.”

Last week, the actress-dancer showed up to a White House event in a wheelchair, explaining to a baffled President Obama that she was suffering from a TV stunt gone wrong.

“Don’t you know they have professionals for that?” the president quipped.

Perez quickly explained that she likes to do her own stunts. The president laughed and said, “Obviously, you’re not that good at it.”

Turns out Perez was recovering from a bone marrow procedure and neck surgery after she was shaken a little too hard by a co-star during her appearance on the crime show and suffered both a slipped disk and bulging disk. [Watch a 2-minute replay of Rosie's "SVU" episode below.]

She spent a painful year searching for alternatives to surgery before finally agreeing to the operation.

On Friday’s episode of “Entertainment Tonight,” she removed her neck brace to reveal the gash left from her surgical procedure. [Watch below.]

“I got my neck cut… and I got my pelvis bone cracked open and they (surgeons) scraped bone marrow out and put it into my neck,” she explained. “[The scar] is gonna heal and everything is gonna be OK.”

Although she fears there are certain things she won’t be able to do again.

She tells the news show: “(I ask) ‘What’s gonna happen? Am I ever gonna be able to dance again – because I love dancing, especially on Broadway. How am I gonna look with a scar in front of my neck?’”

In Memoriam: Denise Jefferson

Source:  www.theaileyschool.com

(July 19, 2010) New York — The Ailey family is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Denise Jefferson, who, for the past 26 years, was the director and impassioned steward of The Ailey School. She died on Saturday night in New York of ovarian cancer.

Appointed as director by Alvin Ailey in 1984, after teaching at the School for 10 years, Ms. Jefferson — affectionately referred to as Ms. J — has been instrumental in identifying the potential, and mentoring myriad students as they began their journey to becoming some of the greatest dance artists in the world. “Powerful,” “technical,” “elegant,” “consistent,” “beautiful,” “fierce,” “a force of nature”— these are some of the adjectives most commonly used to describe Ailey students. They are also the words that best describe Denise Jefferson.

Words cannot express the magnitude of Denise’s loss to both the Ailey organization and to the world of dance. It is a testament to her leadership that 87% of current Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers honed their skills through training from The Ailey School. Dancers trained under Denise’s nurturing direction have also gone on to successful careers in the ranks of other prominent national and international dance companies, including Martha Graham Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance, Mark Morris Dance Company, Ballet Frankfurt, Ballet Nacional de Espana and Nederlands Dans Theater, among countless others.

Denise Jefferson’s indefatigable dedication and clear vision of the elements required to train world-class dancers, produced a challenging, innovative and sophisticated program that is sought out by students from around the world. Since its inception, The Ailey School has attracted students from 93 countries. Denise traveled the globe teaching and offering opportunities for the most talented dancers to receive unparalleled dance training at The Ailey School. Her foresight and ingenuity led her to break new ground in 1998 with the development of the innovative Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, which offers students the best of two worlds– the artistic pre-eminence of the official school affiliated with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, combined with an exceptional liberal arts education from Fordham University.

With a firm but compassionate hand, Denise demanded excellence from both students and faculty members; instilling discipline, an astounding work ethic, and respect for the form. She took great pride in the fact that one can always tell a student who was trained at The Ailey School - not only because of their ability, but also due to their professionalism. Tracy Inman and Melanie Person have been named Acting Co-Directors of The Ailey School and Ana Marie Forsythe has been appointed Acting Director of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program.

Denise Jefferson was born in Chicago, Illinois, where she began her ballet studies with Edna L. McRae. After receiving a B.A. in French from Wheaton College and an M.A. in French from New York University, she was awarded a scholarship to Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and, after one year, began her professional career with the Pearl Lang Dance Company.

While her professional achievements were great and many, it was Denise’s humour, wit, grace and authenticity that made everyone who knew her love and appreciate her.  Denise is survived by her daughter Francesca Harper, her sister Margo Jefferson and her loving mother Irma Jefferson. Her legacy will endure and her spirit will forever have life through all of the dancers she influenced. Whenever a curtain goes up, Denise’s light will be cast upon us, and warm us, and we will remember.

A celebratory memorial concert is being planned at The Ailey Studios for a later date.

At the request of the family, donations may be made in her memory to the Denise Jefferson Scholarship Fund at The Ailey School online or by mailing your check made payable to Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. to: Development Office, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, 405 West 55th Street, New York NY 10019.  For more information, please call 212-405-9033.

Bone Marrow Drive Held In NYC For 'Lion King' Star

Source: By The Associated Press

(July 18, 2010) NEW YORK, N.Y. - A bone marrow drive for an 11-year-old "Lion King" star with leukemia has turned out to be one of the hottest matinees on Broadway.

Some 385 people registered as bone marrow donors Sunday in hopes of helping
Shannon Tavarez (tuh-VAR'-ehz) beat leukemia.

Shannon played the role of Young Nala the lion cub in "The Lion King" for seven months before she was diagnosed with the life-threatening blood cancer in April.

Her best shot at recovering and returning to the theatre is a bone marrow transplant, which requires a genetic match.

The bone marrow registry DKMS held a bone marrow drive Sunday at St. Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in the theatre district.

Shannon won the role of Young Nala in an open audition — her first ever.

:TRAVEL NEWS::

Air Canada Vacations Focuses On Travel To Sun Spots

Source: www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott

(July 21, 2010) More colourful than a city phone book, more exotic than a department store catalogue, the travel brochure is inspiration on the printed page. But like its bulky book cousins, the travel brochure has come under scrutiny as online content multiplies. While some travel companies have done away with brochures entirely, others — like Air Canada Vacations — have “gone big” with lavish productions more akin to stylish magazines. ACV’s new Sun Collection brochure offers up some 360 resorts in 33 warm weather destinations along with top-notch photography (no grainy pictures here) and first-person narratives. The 2010-11 program also includes new service to Great Exuma in the Bahamas, and additional flights to Turks & Caicos. Most importantly, just about every sun destination package (except Florida, Hawaii and Las Vegas) comes with an early booking bonus (EBB) offering $400 in savings, per couple, when booked and paid in full by Nov. 1, 2010. See www.aircanadavacations.com.

Intrepid Travel is marking 21 years in business with a 21 per cent discount off hundreds of itineraries. Known for its off-the-beaten-path adventures, Intrepid travels to some 120 countries, with lots to choose from in rugged favourites like Asia, Africa and South America. Intrepid’s different travel categories range from Comfort Style to Family Style to the backpacker-friendly Basix. Durations range from two days to six-months-plus, and groups are small with an average maximum of 12 travellers. The 21 per cent off deal is available until Aug. 31, for travel departing by Sept. 30. Some itineraries will not be discounted, including Australia and Antarctica trips. See www.intrepidtravel.com.

Le Westin Montreal is offering a special rate of $179 per night through Aug. 27, available any day of the week. The deal includes breakfast for up to two adults and two kids under the age of 12 plus free parking during your stay, for a total savings of nearly $100 per night. Advance reservations are required with full pre-payment. Call 1-866-716-8101 (promo code LAPKG) or see www.westin.com/montrealoffers.

The nine-day Realm of the Polar Bear and the 14-day Arctic Highlights sailings on the 120-passenger M/S Expedition are both half-price with The Great Canadian Travel Company. Realm of the Polar Bear starts at $1,850 per person with the discount for departures July 30 and Aug. 7, 15, 23 and 31, while Arctic Highlights leads in at $2,049 with the discount for the Sept. 8 departure. Call 1-800-661-3830 or see www.greatcanadiantravel.com.

Kathryn Folliott is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Prices quoted are subject to change and availability.

Picks of the Week

Sunquest: Los Cabos, air and hotel, $1,057.
www.sunquest.ca

Air Canada Vacations: Three-night Boston, air and hotel, $389. www.aircanadavacations.com

Nolitours: Punta Cana, air and hotel, $647. www.nolitours.com

Signature Vacations: Riviera Maya, air and hotel, $995. www.signaturevacations.com

Transat Holidays: St. Maarten, air and hotel, $858. www.transatholidays.com

Bel Air Travel: Five-night Vancouver, air and hotel, $929. www.belairtravel.com

Sunwing Vacations: Panama, air and hotel, $595. www.sunwing.ca

Sell Off Vacations: Three-night Las Vegas, air and hotel, $385. www.selloffvacations.com

itravel2000: Madrid, air and hotel, $926. www.itravel2000.com

Sears Travel: San Diego, air and hotel, $1,096. www.searstravel.ca

WestJet Vacations: Varadero, air and hotel, $579. www.westjetvacations.com

Tour East Holidays: Nine-night China 2-for-1, air, hotel, meals, sightseeing, $4,099 for two. www.toureast.com

Trafalgar Tours: 11-night England & Scotland Heritage, hotel, some meals, transfers, touring, $1,349. www.trafalgartours.ca

:MUSIC NEWS::

Warren Hill Off In New Directions

Source: www. thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(July 21, 2010) Jazz saxophonist Warren Hill makes a long-awaited third appearance at the Beaches International Jazz Festival this Saturday. Though the Toronto-born, U.S.-based altoist hasn’t played the event in more than a decade, he gets back here regularly for the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, where he is a routine winner, and to visit his parents and siblings. Noted for a versatile mix that incorporates new age, pop, funk and rock, Hill is a prolific composer who has collaborated with the likes of Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and Big Mountain. The Star spoke with the 44-year-old musician from his new home in L.A.

What prompted relocation to California after 10 years in Boulder, Colo.?

We moved out here because of my daughter Olivia’s career. Things are taking off for her and this is where she needs to be for the kind of stuff that she’s doing. She acts and sings.

You must’ve made showbiz look pretty good if she’s already hooked at 11.

We’re not forcing her, she’s a natural. At 2 years old, she asked if she could come on stage during a gig I was doing in Chicago, because she wanted to sing her favourite song from Snow White — “Someday My Prince Will Come.” She just walked out, did it, got a standing ovation. When the opportunity was right, I’d let her come on stage since then. Now she’s singing “God Bless the Child” with the full band. When she does her thing, pretty much I don’t have anything to follow it with.

I hear you’re working on your 12th album; does it have a specific theme or concept?

Stylistically, the records I’ve made in the past are the best records that I can make and I don’t want to try to do the same thing again. I’m planning on making a fairly significant departure. I’m not so self-indulgent that I don’t realize I have fans out there that enjoy what I do, so I have to respect them, because without them I wouldn’t be paying the bills, but, hopefully, they have the same mutual respect and know that I want to keep challenging myself.

What are we talking about — odd meters, hard rock, more singing?

I’m in the experimental phase, so I haven’t been able to label it yet. I’ve been meeting with different people to write songs to see if they inspire me in different ways. There are some elements of my musicianship that have not been fully represented or explored. That’s where I’m trying to push the envelope. Say I wanted to go more straight-ahead, for example? The presentation will be different, but the instrumentation, production, the way I’m playing on it, to the average person at the end of the day is just going to sound like a saxophone; they won’t necessarily recognize the nuances.

Do you think being in L.A. will influence the new direction?

If anything, it’s probably going to add more angst to my music, because I can’t stand driving in traffic. All the songs will start off fast and then they’ll slow down dramatically, then speed up again, then slow down again. . .

JUST THE FACTS

WHO: Warren Hill

WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m.

WHERE: Alex Christie Bandshell at Kew Gardens, 22nd Beaches International Jazz Festival

ADMISSION: Free

Bleeker Ridge Set To Hit The Road

Source: www.canoe.ca  - By KAREN BLISS -- For JAM! Music

(July 20, 2010) The youngest members of Bleeker Ridge were 12 years old when they started filling all their spare time after school and on weekends practicing with their rock band. Now, seven years later, the two sets of brothers are signed to Roadrunner Records Canada and will head out on a national tour next week with Australian label mates Airbourne, July 27 in St. John, NB to Aug. 13 in Calgary, booked by The Agency Group.

The album, Small Town Dead, produced by Bob Marlette (Airbourne, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne), will be released in Canada September 21.

“They’re signed to Roadrunner internationally, but it’s going to come out of the home-base which is Canada,” says their New Jersey-based manager, Dave Taylor of Blood Company, who interned at Roadrunner New York in 2003 and 2004 for the head of A&R, Dave Rath.

Canadian A&R director Joe Kresta, who had to get the approval of Roadrunner president Jonas Nachsin and CEO Cees Wessels before signing the band, says a product manager, Elias Chios, has already been assigned for the U.S. but a release date has not been scheduled. They’re going to work Canada first.

“That’s been a label we’ve looked at ever since we were little kids listening to metal,” guitarist Dan Steinke tells Lowdown. “They have Slipnot and Killswitch Engage that [we all] liked to listen to, and then they have Stone Sour, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman that you hear on the radio every 15 minutes here at Rock 95. It’s like, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to be on that label?’”

“It was more of a rock label, which we liked,” says frontman Taylor Perkins. “It’s huge, but it’s still an indie label and our managers had good ins with people there and everyone we met was awesome.”

The first Bleeker Ridge single is the title track, “Small Town Dead,” which Roadrunner’s national director, promotion and publicity, Dean Pogue reports was just serviced to rock radio and is “getting features at a handful of stations,” such as CFOX (Vancouver), Virgin (Ottawa), The Wolf (Regina) and The Bull (Wingham). Of all the songs on the album — most of which are big, hooky and radio-friendly — that one was picked as the single because the lyrics resonate with the band.

“They felt so strongly about it. I think everyone did,” says Kresta. “It’s just a good rocker song. It has a great groove and a great vibe to it. It’s almost the guys’ story — growing up in a small town and wanting to leave and they ultimately do and they’re on that path to their dream, being a bigger rock band.”

The guys’ story is one of dedication and determination. The Perkins brothers, Taylor, 21, and guitarist Cole, 19; and the Steinke brothers, Dan, 19; and drummer Dustin, 20; met in 2003 at their local musical instrument shop in Lagoon City (population 3000), which hosted jam nights. They went from playing Joe Walsh and Jimi Hendrix covers to writing originals, which they released on two independent CDs, 2004’s Undertow and 2007’s The Rain.

“We always wanted to go all the way with this,” says Taylor. “We did everything we could to improve our odds. I remember going to pick the younger ones up from public school and going to play a gig in Barrie, Ontario, and when we got into high school we’d be out every week day, practicing five nights, and we’d have to go play in Toronto and come back for school the next day.”

Members of the music industry took notice. A&R, producers, managers and publishers routinely came to their shows and showcases, but the guys were just too young, the songs “weren’t there,” as is commonly said in the biz. Kresta, then working in the marketing department at Universal Music Canada, saw them in 2005 at the Silver Dollar during Toronto’s North By Northeast music festival, at the insistence of Mike Fox, then at EMI Music Publishing Canada.

“I was totally amazed at what these 14-year-olds were doing,” remembers Kresta. “They had their shirts off, long hair and it was almost odd, these voices and that sound coming out of these little guys. There were guitar licks that you see guys three times their age doing, but I wasn’t in A&R at the time, so I walked away thinking, ‘Hey, that was really something special,’ but they still hadn’t found their own identity.”

Interestingly, Bob Marlette was at that same show. “We were talking with Island Def Jam at the time and he came up and watched us and said, ‘As much as I like this band, it has to wait until you guys are a little bit older, a little bit more mature,’ and we agreed,” says Dan. It would be years until they would meet again and ultimately work together.

At the time, one of the dads, Dean Steinke, was acting manager, but two and a half years ago Dave Taylor came on board after a friend who has a cottage on Sparrow Lake in Orillia told him about the band. Bleeker Ridge then drove down to New Jersey to play for him in a little studio.

“As far as what I saw, these kids, having played since they were so young, have this chemistry that you really don’t see [often],” says Dave. “Taylor’s the quintessential frontman. On top of that, they were still underage and such nice kids; they’d been brought up really well and there was this brotherhood, this bond. You could feel it on stage and off. It just felt really positive and you could see the raw talent that was there. It was a no brainer for me.

“And I got a really cool vibe off the father,” he adds. “You hear all those nightmare stories – momagers, dadagers, and all that — and the first conversation he said, ‘I love everything you’re saying. I don’t work in the music industry. I’m just trying to do what’s right for my kids. You’re the manager so I’m going to get out of the way and I’m going to let you do your job.’ I still talk to the dad multiple times a week and fill him in on what’s going down.”

Shortly after he started representing them, Dave got a call from Tim Borror at The Agency Group in New York looking for a Canadian act that wouldn’t demand a ton of money to open for Ace Frehley in Canada. “I thought, ‘This is a great way for them to get their feet wet,’ and they jumped on it and did the tour,’” says Dave. The father tour managed. “I was getting phone calls everyday saying they were selling thousands of dollars in merch — in places they’d never played.’”

Six months in, Dave brought in a partner, John Daley from Good Fight Entertainment, with whom he manages a band called Chiodos from Michigan. “We have a great working relationship and me talking about the band and playing the music, he really got it and loved it. I thought this makes complete sense for us to do this one together too.”

Bleeker Ridge continued to write and rehearse and management started shopping them to labels. One Day, Kresta was talking to Dave and Daley about another act they work with, Buffalo, NY’s Every Time I Die, and they brought up Bleeker Ridge. “That’s when I said, ‘Oh, wow, I know those guys,”” says Kresta. They gave him The Rain CD and he went to see them play again, this time at Black Betty’s in Toronto.

“That [show] was so polished, so on-point,” says Kresta. “After presenting to the New York office, we felt our next move was to do a showcase in New York City, which we did. I believe that would have been the fall of 2009 at Don Hill’s. That’s when everyone collectively agreed, ‘This band is really special.’ There was such a tremendous amount of raw talent. It’s rare that you have a band that can play all their instruments so well and everyone walked away agreeing this kid [Taylor] is a sure-fire star.”

The little matter of not having great songs wasn’t an issue, anymore, says Dave. “The songs were always kind of there. Because they’re so young, songwriting was something that was very new, but was something they were working on all the time and the guys, shortly after we’d been signed with Roadrunner, were working every day on songs. We were getting bits and pieces here and there, as opposed to an entire song from beginning to end, and a friend of mine manages a [songwriter] named Dave Bassett, so I reached out to him and sent him some songs and he saw, ‘Okay, I get what these guys are trying to do.’ I don’t want to call them songwriting lessons, but he helped them write better songs.”

All 12 songs that ended up on Small Town Dead were written by Bleeker Ridge, including the three that Bassett helped with, “In Our Hands;” “Pick Me Up;” and gentler “Still Standing,” and a southern-styled rocker, “Sick of You,” that Tyler Connolly of Theory of a Deadman co-wrote.

Meanwhile, Marlette was working on a California band called Beta Wolf that Dave was managing at the time and they mentioned Bleeker Ridge, as they are wont to do. Marlette told them he had seen them play years earlier in Toronto and expressed interest in doing the album. “When Bob came up to Toronto to do prepro, it was like, ‘Oh my god, this guy is a legend,’” says Dan. “He’s worked with Alice Cooper, worked on Ozzy records.”

Bleeker Ridge cut Small Town Dead at Henson Studios in Hollywood and Marlette’s home studio in Woodland Hills, California. “Just being around him makes you want to be a better musician,” says Dan Steinke. “He has these motivational speeches where you’ll sit for an hour and he’ll be telling you how to be better and you just can’t sleep the next night because you just want to listen to what he says — like on a [self-help] tape or something [laughs].”

With Canadian booking agents Ralph James and Zaed Maqbool onboard from The Agency Group (Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace), the next step says Dave Taylor is “We’re going to put these dudes on the road. These guys are going to get in a van and they’re not going to get out.”

Ever Cool, Jack Johnson Needs No Flash

Source:  www.thestar.com - Nick Krewen

(July 19, 2010) Nothing fazes Jack Johnson.

After successfully navigating through the slower intro of “Bubble Toes,” the surfing songwriter from Hawaii accidentally launched into the second verse of the lively love song once he switched tempos.

Johnson didn’t break a sweat, but instead just continued vamping along and admitted his mistake.

“I just get really excited when I want people to sing along,” he smiled, and carried on as if nothing happened.

It was one of the few dramatic waves of a two-hour show that found the environmentally friendly Johnson performing in front of a friendly environment of 16,000 kindred souls at the Molson Amphitheatre on Monday night.

That’s not to say the show didn’t have its lively moments, but for the most part, Johnson didn’t rely on any flash to impress the crowd, who were clearly there to hear him perform their favourites from a scattering of albums that included his sixth and latest studio effort, To the Sea.

Monday night’s performance was truly a testament to the power of the song, and whether it was the opening elastic funky overtones of “You and Your Heart,” a smooth segue into the nimble “If I Had Eyes” or a bit of a groovy workout to “Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology,” people stood, swayed and danced to Johnson’s sweet, predominantly romantic odes.

Although Johnson isn’t exactly Slash in the guitarist department, the musical power came from the well-disciplined tandem of drummer Adam Topol, bass player Merlo Podlewski and keyboardist Zach Gill, who performed double duty with first opening act ALO and served as Johnson’s vocal foil throughout the night.

Again, “understatement” was the key word here, with Gill flexing his occasional piano muscle to add a bit of meat to the arrangements whenever he was called upon to do so.

As for Johnson, he basically swayed and grooved along to the mood of the song, whether it was the relaxed reggae feel of “Wasting Time,” or throwing down covers of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” or Steve Miller’s “The Joker.” The momentum continued to improve as the musicians advanced deeper into the set, with Johnson’s grin becoming wider and wider as the audience cheered louder with each tune.

Like the title of one of his songs, they were simply thrilled to let him “Go On.”

Salman Ahmad: Opening Doors, And Minds, Through Music

Source: www.thestar.com - Noor Javed

(July 21, 2010) Salman Ahmad has earned his swagger. Founder of South Asia’s longest-lasting band Junoon, he has a worldwide following of “Junoonis,” and has performed in recent years with the likes of Alicia Keys, Sting, Melissa Etheridge and Wyclef Jean.

Yet when Ahmad answers the phone from his home in Rockland County, N.Y., there is little of that rock star attitude. He is gracious, opinionated and says “thank you” half a dozen times through the interview.

That might be because Ahmad is more than just another rock star. In his recently published autobiography Rock & Roll Jihad, he outlines his journey from musician to his modern role as humanitarian, interfaith dialogue advocate and, almost by default, a spokesman for a religion that he says “has become hijacked by extremists and terrorists.” It’s no wonder he is frequently dubbed the “Bono of Pakistan” — a moniker that could apply both to his political activism and his band’s rock-anthem sound.

“So much of the media scrutinizes anyone who comes from the Muslim world after 9/11. A lot of artists don’t talk about it. I talk about it specifically, because not enough is being said to define true Islam,” says Ahmad, who performs a free solo show Saturday at the CNE Bandshell as part of the 10th Masala Mehndi Masti festival. “I have spoken against suicide bombings, against killing of innocents, which is prohibited in Islam.”

He does it not because he wants to, but because he feels he has to.

Junoon played at Times Square on Earth Day. A week later, Faisal Shahzad tried to blow it up,” he said, referring to the Pakistani-American who attempted to detonate a car bomb on May 1. “The questions just come with the territory.”

It’s a political reality Ahmad has seen before. A young medical student in Lahore in the 1970s, Ahmad grew up during the repressive military dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq. It was during a concert at his university, when religious extremists got on stage and trashed his guitar, that his passion — or junoon — to pursue rock ’n’ roll was triggered.

His story is one many young Pakistanis relate to. Coming from a middle-class background, Ahmad was driven towards a career in medicine by his parents. Yet, even as he trudged through his medical degree, he gravitated towards a rarely considered path in music.

“There weren’t any pop or rock bands making music in Pakistan. You couldn’t play the music on the radio, you couldn’t play rock music on TV,” he says. “So we did secret gigs as college students in Lahore . . . and from word of mouth, there was a counterculture music movement that began.”

In the mid-’80s he became part of Pakistan’s first pop group Vital Signs, and went on the produce the song “Dil Dil Pakistan,” a nationalistic tune considered by many to be the country’s unofficial anthem.

“We had no idea it would become so big. It was recorded at home on a four-track recorder, and we didn’t have a studio, so bathroom tiles were used for echo.”

Three years later, he left the pop group due to creative differences, eager to find a band where he could mesh his love for more guitar-based rock music, the subcontinent’s musical legacy and Sufi poetry. That’s when he founded Junoon, with vocalist Ali Azmat, and American bass player Brian O’Connell.

As the group’s popularity grew internationally, so did the controversies around them in their homeland. The group faced threats from politicians, numerous attempts by the Pakistani government to shut them down, and even accusations of treason.

But they kept on playing, paving the way for other Pakistani artists who would follow in their footsteps.

“We were the first Pakistani band to tour India, and we opened the doors for the rest of the pop and rock artists to start to go into India, which now has become a trend.”

Now, almost 20 years later, Junoon is still around, although the group has ventured into solo careers. Despite his initial successes, it is what Ahmad has done in recent years that gives him the most pride: playing the first-ever rock concert in the disputed region of Kashmir, hosting a concert at the UN for Pakistani refugees, and playing at the UN after 9/11.

“My highlights are all related to those musical achievements where people are being helped, and you are not just promoting yourself, but you are contributing as a global citizen,” he says.

JUST THE FACTS

WHO: Salman Ahmed at Masala Mehndi Masti

WHEN: Saturday, 8:45 p.m.

WHERE: Bandshell stage, Exhibition Place

ADMISSION: Free. Info at www.masalamehndimasti.com

‘California Gurls' vs. ‘California Girls': Brian Wilson weighs in on Katy Perry's hit

Source: www. thestar.com - Randy Lewis

(July 21, 2010) LOS ANGELES—The runaway hit single of the still-young summer of 2010 is Katy Perry's bubbly "California Gurls." More than just a bouncy ode to sun and fun in the Southland, it's something of a long-delayed female take on the same theme famously celebrated 45 years ago in the Beach Boys' "California Girls."

Perry bypasses the region-hopping comparisons that the Beach Boys founders Brian Wilson and Mike Love engaged in for their song, but both salute the ongoing appeal of the sight of beautiful women in bikinis on a beach near the surf.

So I put the question out to Wilson: What do you think of this variation on your theme, and are you flattered or infuriated by it?

"I love her vocal," the Beach Boys' creative mastermind said Monday through his manager. "She sounds very clear and energetic."

Wilson also liked the version that includes a guest rap by Snoop Dogg that makes a nod to the original.

"The melody is infectious, and I'm flattered that Snoop Dogg used our lyric on the tag," Wilson noted. "I wish them well with this cut."

Little wishing appears to be necessary. "California Gurls" has already spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and has sold more than 2.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, with the vast majority being digital downloads.

Perry's musical homage has done so well that the obvious follow-up for the Santa Barbara-born singer might just have to be "Gud Vibrations."

Audio: Calvin Richardson Heats up Airwaves with ‘You’re So Amazing’

Source: Thornell Jones – Fortress Marketing – FortressMKTG@Gmail.com / Monifa Brown – Shanachie Entertainment – MBrown@Shanachie.com

(July 21, 2010) *
Calvin Richardson, The Soul Prince has been having a banner year. Recognizing his hard work and commitment to true southern Soul music , voters at the Jackson Music Awards in Jackson, MS crowned The Soul Prince: “International Male Vocalist of the Year” and further honoured Richardson’s 2x Grammy® nominated release Facts of Life with “International CD of the Year” for 2009.

Richardson was recently recognized as an ASCAP Songwriter of the Year for his #1 song “There Goes My Baby,” performed by the legendary Charlie Wilson who has called Calvin “one of the most talented artists in the business.”

Not one to rest on his laurel’s, Calvin Richardson is taking full advantage of the recent Grammy® and songwriting recognition with the launch of a new gem entitled “You’re So Amazing.”

Scroll down to hear 'You're So Amazing'

01 You're So Amazing - Calvin Richardson by Fortress Marketing

01 You’re So Amazing – Calvin Richardson (Fortress Marketing)

The ode to love which stands the test of distance and time was #2 Most Added at Radio receiving instant fan and programmer reaction. The song enters the chart at #34 with only one week of airplay:

“Ladies love this song its “So Amazing”
Aundrae Russell, KJLH Los Angeles, CA

“Immediate Response”
LeBronLBJ” James, KMEZ New Orleans, LA

“Out of the box a hit”
Darrel “E” Elliott, WWMG Montgomery, AL

“It’s got to be one of this year’s best songs”
Stan Branson, WKXI Jackson, MS

All the right ingredients-instant phones:
Doug Williams, WLXC Columbia, SC

“Calvin’s best effort to date”
Terry Monday, WAKB Augusta, GA

“I felt that this would be a great song for the ladies and it is but the phones are all over the place”
Mark Dylan, KOKY Little Rock, AR

“You’re So Amazing” is the lead single from Calvin Richardson’s 5th studio album America’s Most Wanted (NuMo Records / Shanachie Entertainment) due in stores August 31, 2010.

New Kenny G Collaborations with Robin Thicke and Babyface

Source: www.eurweb.com


(July 21, 2010) *Kenny G is back on the scene and he brought in some R&B big guns for the project. The album is called “Heart and Soul” and it features Robin Thicke and Babyface. It was released on June 29.

“When the music started to turn into an R&B feel then we thought, ‘Okay, let’s get a couple of singers that are perfect in this R&B kind of genre and yet will be complimentary to my saxophone,” Kenny G shared. He added that working on the album was like going back to high school.

The lead off single is “Fall Again” featuring Robin Thicke. Kenny G admits “Heart and Soul” was like going back to high school.

“In the inner city of Seattle, it’s very interracial. In our high school, we listened to R&B music exclusively, so when I say I’m going back to my R&B roots it sounds funny for a white guy to say that but it’s true about me.

Patti LaBelle to Join Broadway’s Fela! in Sept

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 19, 2010) *R&B diva Patti LaBelle is headed to Broadway in September to join the hit musical Fela!.

According to The New York Post, she’ll step in for Tony Award winner Lillias White in the role of mother Funmilayo Kuti while White performs a series of concerts in Australia. [Scroll down to view White in the role.]

Specific dates for LaBelle’s performances will be announced shortly.

LaBelle’s Broadway run marks her first since 1998′s solo concert series “Patti LaBelle on Broadway.”

The singer also appeared on Broadway in the musical revival of Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, and has starred as Mama Morton in the Los Angeles run of Chicago.

In Fela!, which features a book by Jones and Jim Lewis, audiences are welcomed into the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies), in a hybrid of concert, dance and musical theatre, the show explores Kuti’s controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician.

Below, Lillias White as mother Funmilayo Kuti in Broadway’s Fela!.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Alicia Keys Splits With Manager

Source: Billboard

(July 19, 2010) NEW YORK (Billboard) - R&B singer
Alicia Keys has parted ways with her manager, ending a decade-plus business partnership that began at the onset of the singer's career. Keys and Jeff Robinson announced the news Friday in a joint statement, saying their split was "mutually agreed upon and amicable." Keys will now oversee her own career through her own company AK Worldwide. Her latest album, "The Element of Freedom," has sold 1.4 million copies in the United States since last December, less than half the total for her 2007 release "As I Am."

Warren G Returns

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 18, 2010) *After releasing his debut album “Regulate G Funk Era” in 1994 and landing at no. 2 on Billboard charts, receiving a Grammy nomination, and selling 4.5 million copies internationally,
Warren G is staging his comeback with a sequel some time this year. The impact of Warren G’s first album certainly changed the face of hip-hop and revived Def Jam Recordings in a time when the label was struggling to stay afloat. Now the nearly 40-year-old is bringing the funk back with “Regulate Part 2.” The release date is yet to be revealed.

Santana Proposes to Girlfriend on Stage

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 17, 2010) *Legendary guitarist
Carlos Santana popped the big question to his girlfriend and drummer Cindy Blackman on stage during his concert in Tinley Park, Ill last week. She said yes, and now the happy couple is officially engaged. The 62-year-old rock legend proposed four songs into the performance after Blackman’s drum solo of his song, “Corazon Espinado.” Cindy, who is 50-years-old, said yes on staged and kissed her prince charming, which only prompted the crowd to cheer in agreement. “Cindy and I are blessed to have found each other. Being in love is a gift from the universe, and the spirit and vibrations that come with it are infinitely powerful,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to expressing that incredible energy through my music, and in helping to tip the balance toward more love in the world with what Cindy and I share.” Santana was previously married to Deborah King, the daughter of late blues musician Saunders King. Their marriage ended in 2007. The two have three children together.

Video: K-Ci & Jo Jo Prepare for Comeback Album & Television Series ‘Come Clean’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 17, 2010) *American R&B duo
K-Ci & Jo Jo are making a comeback with a fresh new album and an upcoming reality show titled ‘Come Clean.’ 20 year veterans of the music business, they took a break after they released their fifth album Love, which only debuted in Japan. They last found huge commercial success with their song “Crazy,” which peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2001. Speaking on their new ventures, K-Ci said: “We made a lot of mistakes and we just putting it all on the table so you won’t have to read the Internet and magazines about us.  We letting it be known and K-Ci & Jo Jo ‘Come Clean’ comes out in October.” More recently, K-Ci became part of a celebrity panel, helping his former CEO at Uptown Records Andre Harrell look for potential stars-in-the-making, as he hosts a nationwide talent search to add to his new label. Watch what else he has been up to in the video below.

   

Keke Palmer to Begin Work on Next Album

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 17, 2010) *Young actress and singer
Keke Palmer graduated from high school a year early, thanks to a home schooling program, and is ready to begin working on her next album. The 16-year-old began her career in 2004 and has appeared on several shows and movies since. In 2007, she released her debut album. Her list of accomplishments don’t end there, however. She received a 2010 BET “Youngstars” award last month. She recently signed a multi-album recording contract with Interscope Records and is planning to release her second album this fall. Palmer is currently the star of Nickelodeon TV series, “True Jackson VP.” Now that she has a career ahead of her, and high school behind her, she is looking forward to attending college in the future.

Bieber’s ‘Baby’ is most-watched YouTube Video

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 16, 2010) *You know that “Baby” song and video by
Justin Bieber you’ve been hatin’ on? Well, it’s now the most watched video ever on YouTube. The 16-year-old video has passed Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video to take the all-time lead. More than 246 million have watched “Baby.” Bieber, who was “discovered” and sponsored by Usher, tweeted a thank you to “Beliebers” and said the video’s success was “crazy.” The singer wrote: “I started on youtube so … WOW!” Bieber’s video and Lady Gaga’s switched positions briefly Friday, but as of late afternoon, Bieber was ahead by more than 600,000 views. Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering, according to the AP, the most-watched clip on YouTube that isn’t a music video is the popular “Charlie bit my finger” viral video, which more than 210 million have watched. Haven’t see “Baby” and wondering what all the fuss is about? Check it out here:

   

Wanna know how Bieber got his break in the music game, watch his interview with Katie Couric:

   

Janelle Monae Joins Arcade Fire Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - Nick Patch

(July 19, 2010) Last week the Arcade Fire's concert on Olympic Island added The Sadies, fresh off that band's nomination for a Polaris Prize; now the show has added a hot U.S. act.
Janelle Monae, a Grammy-nominated American pop-funk performer whose album The ArchAndroid is winning rave reviews, will join the other performers Aug. 14 on the island. Tickets remains $47 through Ticketmaster, Rotate This, Soundscapes and Horseshoe Tavern.

   

Shaq vs. Bieber

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Katie Hewitt

(July 20, 2010) It’s not enough that four-time NBA champion
Shaquille O’Neal has conquered basketball. He wants to prove himself a modern renaissance man – or at least, that he can out-cook Rachael Ray and out-manoeuvre NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. – on the new series Shaq Vs., executive-produced by Canadian basketball star Steve Nash. O’Neal has bravely challenged tween idol Justin Bieber; luckily for Bieber, it’s not an athletic competition. O’Neal, 38, wants to beat him at his own game, going head-to-head with the 16-year-old in a singing showdown. Well, in teenybopper Bieber’s case, it will be more head-to-waist with the 7-foot-1 Shaq. O’Neal poses the challenge with great risk of rocking the Twittersphere and receiving threats from the Canadian heartthrob’s evangelical fans. Shaq may be bigger, but Bieber has better hair. Shaq Vs. premieres on Aug. 3 on CTV.

Beyonce, Jay-Z among Forbes’ Top Earning Musicians

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2010) *Beyonce, her husband Jay-Z and the Black Eyed Peas all made the top 10 on a new Forbes list of top earning musicians. Bey was the list’s highest-earning female at No. 3. Her $87 million was banked through major endorsement deals with Nintendo and L’Oreal, as well as her House of Dereon fashion line and world tour. Jay-Z came in at No. 6, earning $63 million from a variety of sources, including his stake in NBA team the New Jersey Nets, his 40/40 nightclub chain, “The Blueprint 3″ album sales, and his investment in the Broadway musical, “Fela!” At No. 5, Britney Spears can also attribute much of her $64 million earned to endorsements, particularly her Elizabeth Arden fragrance and spokesperson deal with Candies. A three-way tie between Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, and Toby Keith rounds out the top 10. Each earned an estimated $48 million thanks to various tours, endorsement deals, merchandise sales, and publishing royalties. Here are the 10 top-earning musicians of June 2009-2010, according to Forbes: 1. U2 ($130 million) 2. AC/DC ($114 million) 3. Beyoncé ($87 million) 4. Bruce Springsteen ($70 million) 5. Britney Spears ($64 million) 6. Jay-Z ($63 million) 7. Lady Gaga ($62 million) 8. Madonna ($58 million) 9. Kenny Chesney ($50 million) 10. Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and Toby Keith ($48 million)

Natalie Cole Memoir to Cover Transplant, Sister’s Death

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2010) *Natalie Cole is currently working on a memoir that will detail the months surrounding her successful kidney transplant that took place on the same day her sister Cookie died of cancer. Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Monday that the book, “Love Brought Me Back,” is due in November with collaboration from David Ritz, who helped with memoirs by Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye. Cole, who suffers from hepatitis C and had been undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week, was with her dying sister in May 2009 when she received a call from doctors saying a kidney was available from a donor and she should head to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles immediately for transplant surgery. Cookie died while Natalie was having her operation.

Amerie Gets A New Name … Sort Of

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2010) *Grammy nominated singer, Amerie has changed her name to reflect positive energy, but the change isn’t too dramatic. She added another “i” to her name, spelling it, Ameriie. The rejuvenated Ameriie has been working hard in the studio, working on her upcoming album “Cymatika Vol. 1.” Her first single from the album, “Who’s Gonna Love You” was released in May, reports theboombox.com. “I’m still in the studio right now, so the best thing I can say is it’s a very international, worldly sound.” More news in, she is engaged to her manager Lenny Nicholson. They plan to marry in 2011. Congrats Ameriie!

Drake Eager For Obama Role

Source: www.canoe.ca  - By WENN.COM

(July 20, 2010) Rapper Drake is eager to return to his acting roots to portray U.S. president Barack Obama on the big screen.  The Best I Ever Had hitmaker rose to fame as a teen star in his native Canada on the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation before taking the hip-hop industry by storm last year.  But Drake admits he's keeping an eye on potential acting projects documenting the life of America's first black president - because he's been studying Obama's behaviour and speech patterns from the news.  He tells Paper magazine, "I hope somebody makes a movie about Obama’s life soon because I could play him. That’s the goal… Anytime I see him on TV, I don’t change the channel, I definitely pay attention and listen to the inflections of his voice."

Dr. Dre Teams Up With Bieber

Source: www.canoe.ca  - By WENN.COM

(July 21, 2010) Rap superproducer Dr. Dre took a break from working on his long-awaited comeback album on Tuesday to make music with an unlikely collaborator - teenage pop star Justin Bieber.  The Still D.R.E. hitmaker has been perfecting the tracks for Detox for months and his first new release in over a decade is expected to hit music retailers by the end of the year.  But Dre temporarily put the album on hold this week to provide Usher's protégé Bieber with some beats and share a few wise words with the 16 year old.  Revealing the news on his Twitter.com blog on Tuesday, Bieber wrote, "Got to be in the studio with the legend himself Dr. Dre. Made a couple beats and he gave me some advice...i was hyped. can u blame me?"  Detox is Dre's much-delayed follow-up to his 1999 album, 2001.

:FILM NEWS::

The Runaways: Rock Story Has Pop

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

The Runaways
(E1 Entertainment)
(out of 4)

(July 19, 2010) This hotwired saga of the prototypical 1970s riot grrrls makes a compelling argument about overlooked talent and under-appreciated influence (Bangles, Bikini Kill, etc.). The movie also, ahem, rocks.

Written and directed by Toronto’s Floria Sigismondi, it reveals how three chords and an attitude not only made serious jam-kickers out of
Runaways frontwomen Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, it also worked wonders on Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, who play them in the movie.

It’s a shock to see sweet li’l Dakota rocking the mic as the face-painted, corset-clad lead vocalist Currie, and also following her well-documented (if also clichéd) descent into sex, drugs and rock-induced despair. Stewart applies her vampiric moodiness to rhythm guitarist Jett’s tough-girl persona.

Sigismondi bases her screenplay on Currie’s tell-all tome Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story, which inevitably, and regrettably, leads The Runaways into family melodrama about Currie’s drunken dad and jealous twin sister.

Before that, though, it’s a highly entertaining lesson in Rock Godhood 101. Ch-ch-ch-check it out.

Extras include a commentary with Jett, Stewart and Fanning, plus a making-of featurette

For King And Country, Two New TIFF Galas

Source:  www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(July 21, 2010) Shhh! Except for one film title, all the details about the
2010 Toronto International Film Festival line-up are supposed to be secret. But I have learned that two of the hottest buzz movies getting their premieres at the festival will be The King’s Speech, and Miral.

The former, starring Colin Firth, focuses on how the current Queen’s father solved an embarrassing problem before ascending the throne more than 70 years ago. It will enjoy a prime gala slot at Roy Thomson Hall on TIFF’s opening weekend.

The latter — directed by award-winning New York filmmaker and artist Julian Schnabel — tells the story of a woman who grew up in an orphanage for Palestinian children founded just after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Usually by mid-July TIFF has announced at least a few key titles, but not this year. The only official word from festival HQ is that the opening gala on Sept. 9 will be Score: A Hockey Musical. More titles will be revealed at a media conference next week.

And as I previously reported, Barney’s Version will have its North American premiere as a TIFF gala on opening weekend.

Both The King’s Speech and Miral have been acquired by The Weinstein Company for North America, and will be distributed in Canada by Alliance Films. Both are already being touted as serious contenders for awards season honours. There’s little doubt that Harvey Weinstein, who has had uncanny success with snaring nominations and awards for his films, will be in full campaign mode for both.

Firth scored a major breakthrough at TIFF last year and an Oscar nomination with his beautifully nuanced performance in the title role of A Single Man.

Schnabel earned won awards at Cannes and the Golden Globes for his highly original 2007 movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and was nominated for an Oscar.

This time September may have to be officially declared Schnabel month in Toronto, because less than two weeks before his movie gets the red-carpet treatment at TIFF, the Art Gallery of Ontario will an exhibit of his paintings. It will come as no surprise if TIFF and the AGO do a little cross-marketing and connect the dots.

In The King’s Speech, Firth plays Bertie, a shy prince who was expecting to lead a quiet life until his older brother, after being crowned Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.

At that point, it became urgent for Bertie, about to ascend the throne as George VI, to get rid of his stammer. Enter an unorthodox speech therapist from Australia named Lionel Logue — played in the movie by Geoffrey Rush. Thanks to Logue’s miraculous intervention, Bertie acquired the confidence to be regal and lead his country into World War II.

The starry cast also includes Helena Bonham Carter as Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth (later much beloved as the Queen Mother), Michael Gambon as George V, Guy Pearce as Edward VIII and Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The director is Tom Hooper, whose credits include the soccer movie The Damned United and the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries John Adams.

Based on a novel by Rula Jebreal, Schnabel’s new movie stars Freida Pinto (of Slumdog Millionaire) as a Palestinian woman named Miral who spent her childhood in the Jerusalem orphanage founded by Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass), and absorbed his philosophy that education is the path to peace. The cast also includes Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave.

It came as a shock to many in the industry last month when Weinstein, a longtime supporter of Israel, acquired U.S. distribution rights to a pro-Palestinian film. But a statement released at the time how marketing rhetoric can change the status of a movie from “doubtful” to “for your consideration.”

Here, then, is the Hollywood gospel according to Harvey: “This is the first film I am involved in that shows the ‘other side’ of the Israel/Palestine conflict. As a staunch supporter of Israel, I thought this would be a movie I would have a hard time wrapping my head around. However, meeting Rula moved me to open my heart and mind, and I hope we can do that with audiences worldwide.”

 
Inception- Film Review by Kam Williams

Source: Kam Williams

I can count on one hand the number of directors who’ve had four of their films land on my annual Top Ten List. In the case of Christopher Nolan, there’s Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005) as well as The Dark Night (2008), which was my #1 pick a couple years ago. So, naturally, I eagerly-anticipated the release of his latest offering, a multi-layered sci-fi thriller about mind control starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

Unfortunately,
Inception fails to measure up to this critic’s high expectations, although it is an amusing enough diversion to remain recommended. That being said, the film’s flaws are considerable, starting with its unwarranted length of 148 minutes. For, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, it’s easy to see how about an hour’s worth of its premise-establishing celluloid is actually inconsequential filler that should have hit the cutting room floor.

The second problem is the amount of mental gymnastics necessary to follow a hopelessly-convoluted plot desperate to be way too clever for its own good. Sorry, I happen to resent it when a summer blockbuster feels more like an SAT test than relaxing escapist entertainment.

However, what’s most frustrating about Inception is that it’s a talk-driven as opposed to an action-driven adventure, so critical developments are always being explained verbally rather than shown visually. In this regard, the movie is reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code (2006) and its sorry sequel Angels & Demons (2009) which featured a terminally-chatty Tom Hanks constantly painting word pictures as a Harvard professor blessed with the gift of gab.

Here, we have an equally-loquacious protagonist in Dom Cobb (Di Caprio), a corporate sleuth specializing in stealing secrets from unsuspecting targets while they’re dreaming. At the point of departure, his services are retained by a Japanese businessman (Ken Watanabe) bent on cornering the world’s energy market by neutralizing Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), the heir to the empire of Saito’s recently-deceased, chief competitor (Pete Postelthwaite).

Cobb comes up with a novel approach he’s never tried before, namely, implanting a dream in Fischer instead of extracting one. He then assembles the personnel needed to implement the plan, a crack team, comprised of a researcher Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a forger Eames (Tom Hardy), an anesthesiologist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) and an architect Ariadne (Ellen Page).

In the process of planning the somnolent heist, chattering Cobb chews the ears off his assistants with pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, otherwise the audience wouldn’t have the slightest understanding of what’s going on. Oh, and there’s a humanizing side story involving his being a widower with a couple of young kids (Claire Geare and Magnus Nolan) he never sees, because he’s also a fugitive from justice implicated in the murder of his late wife (Marion Cotillard). She’s a vengeful shrew who has a bad habit of posthumously popping up and going berserk periodically in parallel universes of her harried hubby’s creation.  

A patently-preposterous, endlessly-elliptical mindbender that’s worth the investment just to be able to say you sat through it, even if you can’t follow all of its meandering machinations. It’s that hip!

Good (2 stars)

Rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence.

Running time: 148 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers

To see a trailer for Inception, visit HERE.

FILM TIDBITS

David Oyelowo Offered ‘Rise of the Apes’ Role

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2010) **David Oyelowo (“The Last King of Scotland”) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films) have been offered roles in Rupert Wyatt’s “Rise of the Apes” for 20th Century Fox, reports Variety. The British actor of Nigerian descent would play Steve Jacobs, the head of the company board of directors pushing the next stage of clinical trials on the lab apes. Felton would play the son of Brian Cox’s character, the villainous owner of a primate facility. Production is scheduled to begin later this month.

::TV NEWS::\

Networks Go Big On New Miniseries

Source:  www.thestar.com - Cassandra Szklarski

(July 19, 2010) With their epic storylines, expansive casts and exploding production budgets, there’s nothing mini about the modern
TV miniseries.

These days, extravagant multi-night specials have established themselves as crucial for networks eager to lure fickle viewers and define their channel as a home for unique programming, say producers and broadcasters competing for attention.

Recent spectacles like Steven Spielberg’s war epic The Pacific — which reportedly cost $200 million (all figures U.S.) — and the upcoming $50-million Canadian co-production The Pillars of the Earth, stem from ongoing efforts to break through an increasingly tough entertainment landscape, say those in the business.

“A couple of years ago we were all on the search for the ‘event two-hour movie,’” says Christina Jennings of Toronto-based Shaftesbury Films, which produced the eight-part miniseries, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures for HBO Canada.

“We’ve moved off event movies and we’re now into event miniseries.”

By “event” she means marketing dramatic series as one-time only, special airings — something usually reserved for big sporting events or news.

And nothing says “event” like over-the-top effects, budgets and casts.

The eight-part The Pillars of the Earth — headed to The Movie Network and Movie Central on Friday — cost “way above” previous homegrown ventures, says Montreal producer Michael Prupas, whose company Muse Entertainment shares most of the tab with German partners.

Like the recent Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Rome, Pillars is a sprawling costume drama set centuries back. It’s based on the bestselling Ken Follett book about a magnificent cathedral built against a backdrop of religious and political strife in Kingsbridge, England. The ensemble cast includes Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, Gordon Pinsent and Alison Pill.

“It’s about giving premium quality programming to the audiences,” Prupas says of over-the-top visual extravaganzas that have taken over the dial.

“There’s a certain spectacle advantage to that ... .The pay services, they need to have programming that is not available and that is different from your run-of-the-mill programming. They have to take things a notch above.”

Such multi-night ventures are less often seen on conventional networks, but they have found success there. Earlier this year, CBC-TV anchored its winter schedule with the eight-part miniseries, Kids In the Hall: Death Comes to Town, scoring well with audiences and critics.

“Your ultimate goal is to bring in subscribers and you’re going to do that through getting buzz and being heard about and having people want to make sure they subscribe,” says Canwest programmer Daniel Eves, who is bringing the $30-million co-production The Kennedys, to History Television.

“If you really want to get people to know you for that genre, it’s about making a big splash and those miniseries can do that.”

The eight-part drama, The Kennedys, will be the specialty channel’s first scripted limited series when it debuts in 2011. Eves says it’s expected to help broaden the channel’s appeal to women and younger viewers.

Degrassi: School More Of A Grind Than Ever

Source: www.thestar.com - Bill Brioux

(July 17, 2010) It’s true — Snake has taken over the school.

Stefan Brogren, who started playing Archie “Snake” Simpson in 1987 on Degrassi Junior High, has now graduated to principal as Degrassi: The Next Generation enters its 10th season.

Except it’s not called that anymore, just Degrassi, and starting Monday, it switches networks and formats. The series premieres as a Monday-to-Thursday serial starting July 19 at 9 p.m. on MuchMusic.

Brogren admits he never imagined he’d ever turn a child actor job into a full-time adult career. After Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High finished their runs on CBC, the lanky blond-haired actor went away to school figuring “the show would fade away and no one would know who I am.” Instead, a whole new generation of fans discovered the originals in reruns and even on-line.

He says things quickly get snake-y for principal Simpson this season. “He’s a little too easy on them and traditional Degrassi trouble ensues,” he says.

A major storyline involves a transgender student played by Jordan Todosey (Life With Derek). The 15-year-old had to chop off her locks and darken her hair to appear as a boy. “She’s absolutely amazing in the role,” says Brogren, 37.

As a producer, director and actor on Degrassi, Brogren notices strong performances but can’t linger on them. Especially this season, where a record 44 episodes have been ordered — twice the usual number — now that the series has been serialized.

Brogren says the new telanovela format will allow the series to expand its storytelling. "Before, each episode was self-contained and had to be wrapped up in 22 minutes," he says. The daily format allows the storylines to be spread over days and even weeks, with various cliffhangers in between.

The serialized format will extend for six weeks, after which the series will revert back to a weekly basis. To crank out all that new copy, the writing staff has been expanded this season, from four to eight writers.

Adding to the pressure is the fact no extra time has been added to accommodate the larger production order. Brogren says switching to digital “red camera” (which provide film quality on a quicker-to-edit digital basis) makes it possible to crank out an episode every two-and-a-half days.

The teen drama — still supervised by original executive producer Linda Schuyler — is produced at Epitome Studios in Toronto, a self-contained show factory where a rambling, Hollywood-style back lot provides easy access to exteriors. An entire high school is constructed there, complete with classroom interiors; some of the younger cast members take actual tutored classes within those walls.

Brogren directed last week’s TV-movie, The Rest of My Life: Degrassi Takes Manhattan, and directs four more episodes of the series this season.

He feels the switch to MuchMusic could add years to the franchise. Slotted in the early evenings on CTV, the long-running series lost half its audience the last two seasons in Canada. “Our fans are over at MuchMusic,” says Brogren. “It’s a perfect fit for us and for the viewers.”

Degrassi, which began over 30 years ago with The Kids of Degrassi Street, may be the most exportable TV brand Canada has ever produced. It is currently licensed in 147 counties including Botswana, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Yemen, North and South Korea and Vatican City. Brogren knows it is hot in Australia because “everyone I meet from Australia is always all over me about the show.”

Most important, Degrassi is hotter than ever in the United States where it’s the No. 1 show on Teen Nick. Brogren notes that the two times the series dealt with abortion — once on the old series and once on the new — those episodes never aired in the U.S.

Teen Nick was once known as Noggin, the name of a large furry cat which roams the halls of the Degrassi studios. There will be no changing of the cat’s name, says Snake, who’s principal now, dammit.

TV TIDBITS

Old Spice Guy Swarms Youtube With 180 Videos This Week

Source: www.thestar.com - Bill Brioux

(July 16, 2010) NEW YORK—In one of the largest viral video ad campaign ever launched, Old Spice is swarming YouTube. The Procter & Gamble Co. brand released more than 180 videos featuring the campaign’s star, ex-football player
Isaiah Mustafa. In the videos, he responds personally to online queries or comments from various Web users and some famous ones, including Ellen DeGeneres and Alyssa Milano. The videos, all of which feature Mustafa speaking directly to the camera, have been steadily released over the last few days. On Friday, they accounted for eight of the most popular 11 videos on YouTube and more than 21 million views in total. The “Smell Like a Man” ad campaign was launched this year by Portland-based ad agency Wieden+Kennedy. The television spots have been popular, and the first TV spot won a Cannes advertising festival award.

Mos Def Replaced in HBO Series

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(July 20, 2010) *Rapper/actor Mos Def was expected to take the starring role on a new HBO series, “Enlightened,” but recent reports are indicating that he did not reach a deal with the network before filming began last week. As a result, he was replaced by Timm Sharp, former star of “Undeclared,” a short live TV series. “Enlightened” captures the life of a character named Amy, played by “Jurassic Park” actress Laura Dern. After living a rough life, filled with regrets and bad decisions, Amy becomes spiritually awakened. From there, life doesn’t’ really get any better. Sharp will take the role of Amy’s boss. The series is written and directed by “School of Rock” writer Mike White. Also in the show is Luke Wilson as Amy’s drug addicted ex-husband. Despite its dark set up, the series is actually fit with lots of comedy and drama. As for Mos Def, no word yet on what he has in the works as of yet. Fans are definitely anticipating something good after his last release, “The Ecstatic.”

Michael Ealy Joins ‘The Good Wife’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2010) *Michael Ealy has reportedly signed on to join Julianna Margulies in CBS’ “The Good Wife.” Last seen on ABC’s cancelled “FlashForward,” the actor will play Derrick Bond, the head of the D.C. firm that’s merging with Will and Diane’s struggling practice. According to Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello, Derrick’s character is described as a “casual, soft-spoken attorney whose egalitarian beliefs seem at odds with Will and Diane’s self-serving practices. However, under his pleasant and unassuming exterior, he has a steel-trap mind and can outmanoeuvre his most cunning adversaries and/or associates. Deeply impressed with Alicia’s quiet competence, he becomes her newest mentor.” Ealy is due to star in at least 10 episodes of “The Good Wife’s” forthcoming second season.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Brent Carver Returning In 2 Stratford Roles

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(July 21,2010)  
Brent Carver starring as Merlin in Camelot and Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar was just one of the provocative pieces of casting announced by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Tuesday for their 2011 season.

Carver, currently acting in As You Like It and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, will be returning in two musicals, playing the magical wizard in Gary Griffin's take on Camelot, doubling the role with the bumbling Pellinore. He'll also be the tortured Pilate in Des McAnuff's production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice favourite.

Martha Henry, longtime festival veteran and director of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, will be playing the diabolical she-wolf Queen Margaret opposite Seana McKenna's Richard III, while Lucy Peacock will tackle the mischievous Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor (opposite Geraint Wyn Davies' Falstaff) and the elusive Nimue in Camelot.

Other featured casting announced includes Evan Buliung as Tom Joad in Antoni Cimolino's production of The Grapes of Wrath, Andrea Runge as Viola in McAnuff's Twelfth Night, and Gareth Potter in the title role of Hosanna and Cara Ricketts as Ruth in The Homecoming.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Canada Ranks High In Video Game Universe

Source: www.thestar.com - LuAnn LaSalle

(July 19, 2010) MONTREAL — They wear the label of
made-in-Canada video games.

Scrabble for the iPad tablet and iPhone and Assassin’s Creed and the upcoming Tales from Space: About a Blob for game consoles are among the many examples of home-grown talent.

Canada is among the world’s top video game developers, with creative talent and government tax breaks attracting both global and independent studios whose products appeal not only to hard core players but the growing ranks of casual gamers.

“What makes us stay here is the talent that we have found because the war is going to be won on the quality of the titles,” said Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat.

But nobody questions that tax breaks have helped the industry grow.

French-based Ubisoft first arrived in Montreal in 1997 with the help of tax incentives from the Quebec government. It now has 2,300 employees in Canada.

Ubisoft Montreal is known for developing the action-adventure games Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell, among others.

Next up for the Ubisoft Montreal studio is the interactive fitness game, Your Shape, which has technology to scan a player’s body and track movements. It will be released this fall for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console.

“In real time, you will have a coach with you,” Mallat said of the game, which will help players with their fitness.

“I think if we design games in a good way, we can appeal to a much wider audience,” he said at Ubisoft’s headquarters.

Canada is ranked as the third-largest video game developer behind Japan and the United States, says the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.

More than 14,000 people are directly employed in the Canadian industry and in 2009 it accounted for more than $2 billion in retail sales of entertainment software and hardware, the association said.

Independent developer DrinkBox Studios has announced it will be launching its first original game, Tales from Space: About a Blob, late this year for the PlayStation3 system. The monster movie-themed game is about creature that grows until it eats the world.

DrinkBox co-founder and CEO Ryan MacLean said the Toronto-based company has been working on the game for almost two years while also doing projects for larger studios.

“There has obviously been a lot of support from various levels of government and that has been extremely helpful for us,” MacLean said of DrinkBox, which has about 10 employees.

“We have made use of a number of grants and tax credits and other government programs. It gives us a competitive advantage over other countries.”

Wedbush Morgan analyst Edward Woo noted tax breaks have helped Canada develop its video game industry.

“Canada has been a popular location for developers because of government subsidies, which started in Quebec and now are following through in other provinces,” Woo said from Los Angeles.

But such subsidies aren’t viewed as negative because they help the industry grow, said Woo, who specializes in media and interactive entertainment.

“Scrabble” for Apple’s iPhone and iPad were developed by Electronic Arts Canada’s Montreal studio, which has an expertise in mobile platforms, said company spokesman Colin Macrae.

EA Canada also is known for developing the FIFA soccer series, space action series Mass Effect, and action game Army of Two.

“Casual games have helped redefine the industry as a whole, not just being a single-player, couch-based experience,” Macrae said from Vancouver.

U.S.-based Electronic Arts acquired B.C.-based Distinctive Software in 1991, which officially launched EA in Canada, Macrae said. EA Canada has about 2,500 employees.

Macrae said tax incentives and post-secondary education programs geared to the video game industry are among factors that help.

“The long-term success comes from having really, really strong pillars that hold up the industry.”

However, Woo said Canada’s third-place ranking isn’t overly significant when compared with the big markets of Japan and the United States. He said Canadian games are generally for consoles.

He also said Canada is viewed as a more traditional video game developer, producing games for major consoles.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has announced it will open a development studio in Montreal that will employ more than 300 people by the end of 2015.

Warner has said Quebec is a perfect fit for the company with its skilled workforce and universities, as well as its tax credits and other incentives.

::DANCE NEWS::

Alys Shee - Young Ballerina Moved By The Joy Of Dance

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb

(July 16, 2010) Success in life, it’s often said, is one-tenth talent and nine-tenths sweat. On a muggy afternoon last week in a National Ballet studio on Queens Quay West there’s a lot of talent on display and plenty of sweat.

Alys Shee, just 16 and a recent junior-level silver medallist at the prestigious USA International Ballet Competition, is running through the repertoire she’ll perform later this month at the grandaddy of all such events in Varna, Bulgaria.

It’s a gruelling rehearsal — three classical and two contemporary pas de deux, including lots of bravura solos — but neither Shee nor her 19-year-old Australian partner, Aaron Smyth, seem fazed. In fact, they look as if they could dance forever.

Watching intently as Shee whips off an amazingly poised series of fast turns is her coach, former Royal Winnipeg Ballet prima Evelyn Hart. She knows the guts required to triumph in an elite-level international ballet competition. Hart took the senior Varna gold medal in 1980, a career breakthrough that catapulted her to international stardom, and will be returning there with Shee for the first time since that headline-making victory.

“I loathe to make predictions,” says Hart. “I can only say that Alys has all the ingredients to become a ballerina in the true sense of the word.”

Hart’s hallmark was a profound artistry in which technique and expression became indivisible. This is what she’s trying to pass on to Shee and by all appearances it’s working.

Though her body is not yet fully grown, lithe, long-legged Shee already has technique to spare, but it’s the subtlety of her musical phrasing, radiant personality and confident presentation that impress.

“You need so much more than technique,” the personable, down-to-earth young woman explains. “You have to have a certain feeling.”

There was no ballet background in Shee’s family. It was an aunt who thought of putting her in a children’s dance class. From there, at age 9, she transferred to Nadia Veselova Tencer’s School of Canadian Ballet Theatre in Thornhill, gradually moving from weekly classes to an intense daily schedule.

The Shees live in a modest East York home. Shee’s father, Chui Shee, is a TTC subway driver. He and his wife, Melanie, have had to make sacrifices to allow their daughter to pursue her dream.

Melanie Shee, whom Tencer describes as “incredibly supportive,” was initially cautious about her daughter’s career ambitions, concerned that her academically gifted child should have options. Rather than send her away to an institution such as the National Ballet School or Hart’s alma mater, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Melanie Shee kept her daughter at home and enrolled her in Toronto’s respected co-educational York School.

As she observed her progress and listened to Tencer and Hart’s advice, Melanie Shee felt comfortable letting her daughter concentrate on ballet while continuing her academics through online instruction. “Mum is big on my getting my high school diploma,” says Shee, ungrudgingly.

Tencer trained at the legendary Kirov school in St. Petersburg, Russia. She’s also artistic director of “Stars of the 21st Century,” the international ballet gala she founded with her husband, Solomon Tencer, in 1995. Working with many of the world’s finest artists has allowed Tencer to fine-tune her own training methods — based on the respected Russian Vaganova technique — to give students what they’ll need to succeed in today’s tough professional environment.

Alys is hungry to be a dancer,” says Tencer. “She was born with natural grace. She has unlimited potential.”

As Shee’s technique developed, aided by intensive studies at leading American ballet summer schools, she also began to rack up competition wins, most notably last year when, still 14, Shee won a silver medal at the Moscow International Ballet Competition, beating out a Kirov-trained girl in the process.

Only her mother could afford to accompany Shee to Moscow last year, offering practical and emotional support but not a professional eye. Shee just got on with it anyway, showing up early at the Bolshoi theatre to rehearse and being among the last to leave.

Some young dancers become addicted to competitions. They can play a beneficial role but are no guarantee of ultimate career success.

Shee understands this but has a very practical reason for testing herself once again, this time in Varna.

Both she and Smyth, whom she met this spring in New York where he’d been training at the American Ballet Theatre school, have been offered contracts by that illustrious company’s junior troupe, ABT II. To get the necessary visas they have to prove exceptional merit. Winning medals in Varna could be a deciding factor.

But as they launch into another variation during their marathon rehearsal, all you see is the pure joy of dance.

Newton Moraes: Tribute To A Love Lost

Source:  www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb

(July 21, 2010) Brazilian-born choreographer
Newton Moraes always dances from the heart but this weekend his performance at Toronto’s intimate Winchester Street Theatre has special emotional significance.

His longtime partner, anthropology professor Robert Shirley, died almost exactly two years ago and Moraes’ program — tellingly titled L’amour — is his heartfelt tribute to the man who helped shape his career. It also serves as what Moraes characterizes as a personal creative renaissance. Caring for Shirley during his struggle with debilitating heart disease and diabetes exacted a heavy physical and emotional toll from Moraes.

“Bob was everything to me,” explains Moraes, who has just moved from the house he and Shirley shared for 13 years to a more convenient downtown apartment. “Bob was my mentor, my partner, my confidant. We helped each other in our search for a better life.”

The American-born Shirley took a University of Toronto teaching post in 1967 after completing his doctorate at Columbia where his lifelong interest in Brazilian culture was first ignited.

Shirley met Moraes in 1985 during one of his frequent leaves from U of T to teach in Brazil. By then Moraes, born in the southern city of Porto Alegre and 28 years Shirley’s junior, was in a university physical education program and developing his skills in Afro-Brazilian, jazz and street dance.

With Shirley’s encouragement and support, Moraes moved to Canada in 1991 to train at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Using every available opportunity to perform and choreograph, Moraes began to emerge onto the local dance scene with a signature style — he calls it a hybrid — combining the imprint of his Brazilian roots — its folklore, spirituality and exoticism — with his newfound interest in the forms of Western contemporary dance. Again with Shirley’s support, not least financial, he founded his own company, Newton Moraes Dance Theatre, in 1997.

As is often the case with such small, project-based troupes, NMDT’s visibility has been variable, according to the ebb and flow of funding. Although it has managed to attract the interest of dedicated dance lovers here and has toured to Europe and his homeland, Moraes still struggles to generate a solid following among fellow Brazilian-Canadians. “It is strange that I’m recognized in Brazil but not by the community here,” laments Moraes, who is on track to become a Canadian citizen early next year.

What has never wavered is Moraes’ determination to pursue his career as a choreographer — he has made some 50 works for himself or other dancers — and as a performer. Now 48, Moraes says he wants to keep dancing, “until someone tells me to stop.”

This week he will perform his gruelling 35-minute solo, Ihu, and join seven other dancers for the premiere of Saudade do Brasil, a work fuelled by his continuing need to connect with his Brazilian identity. And even though he will begin a two-year masters program in choreography at York University this fall, Moraes is already planning how to keep his company buoyant and active.

“It is my life,” he says. “There is no other way.”

JUST THE FACTS

WHAT: Newton Moraes Dance Theatre: L’amour

WHEN: Thursday to Sunday

WHERE: Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St.

TICKETS: From $20 at 416-463-2880

::OTHER NEWS::

Pam Poster Too Sexist For Montreal

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

(July 20, 2010) Montreal — Pamela Anderson's risqué advertisement promoting vegetarianism has proven just a tad too sexy – even for Montreal, a city long celebrated for its sultry side.

The former Baywatch star was denied a permit to publicly launch her latest animal-rights campaign after city officials got a peek at the partial nudity in the ad poster.

In that PETA ad, Anderson's bikini-clad body is marked up like a butcher's diagram, with parts of her flesh stencilled with labels like “breast,” “round” and “rump.”

The caption reads: “All animals have the same parts. Have a heart – go vegetarian.”

In a statement, Anderson called the move surprisingly puritanical for a city whose strip clubs have long been a favoured destination of international tourists.

But a municipal official said Anderson and the animal-rights group PETA can still hold their event Thursday if they want to: The catch is they won't have the city's formal blessing.

Montreal film commissioner Daniel Bissonnette, whose office denied the permit, called it a difficult situation.

“On one hand we're working for an organization where we're getting reminded on a daily basis that we should work in a sexism-free environment and that equality between men and women and the image of women is very important,” Bissonnette said.

“On the other hand, it's not our intention at all to prevent people from going in the public domain and sharing their message.”

Anderson, who is in town to perform at the Just for Laughs comedy festival, had hoped to launch the campaign at a public square in front of Montreal's city hall.

The plans were nixed by city officials in an e-mail to PETA – a group Anderson often works with.

In the e-mail, a city official called the advertisement sexist and not something Montreal could endorse.

“We, as public officials representing a municipal government, cannot endorse this image of Ms. Anderson,” wrote Josée Rochefort, an official in charge of issuing permits with the city's television and film office.

“It is not so much controversial as it goes against all principles public organizations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women.”

Anderson was expected to launch the campaign Thursday at another event instead – a previously scheduled news conference at a Montreal restaurant where she planned to promote her comedy-festival appearance. Anderson is hosting a gala on Thursday evening.

A PETA spokeswoman said a decision would be taken later on whether or not to reschedule the public outdoor event.

The Canadian-American television star is no stranger to controversial social causes.

Anderson has been affiliated with PETA for years and has appeared in a number of its attention-grabbing promotional campaigns. In a statement, Anderson called the city's decision a farce.

“In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest,” Anderson said.


 
Comic-Con Is So Much More Than Comics

Source:  www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(July 20, 2010) SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - Two years ago, it was Hugh Jackman. Last summer, Johnny Depp. The way
these things tend to escalate, this year’s surprise appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con could only be on the level of, say, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

It is, in fact, not much of a surprise. Jolie has a new action flick, Salt, due to open this week. Pitt is a lead voice in Megamind, an animated genre comedy from Madagascar’s Tom McGrath, set for release mid-April. Both films have Comic-Con preview panels Thursday.

Where else would “Brangelina” be (aside from building homes in New Orleans or adopting a fresh batch of orphaned babies)?

And they won’t be alone. Joining the geek horde of more than 126,000 that packs the San Diego Convention Centre at this time every year are Hollywood A-listers like Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and Christoph Waltz, Nicolas Cage, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, Sylvester Stallone and Helen Mirren.

There is a particularly strong Canadian contingent: Seth Rogen, who will preview his new Green Hornet, with a rumoured appearance by fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds, the new Green Lantern; Michael Cera touting the Toronto-shot Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Vancouver-raised Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) with the new Hawaii Five-0, and SyFy stars Colin Ferguson and Saul Rubinek on hand to promote Eureka and Warehouse 13.

Toronto-born cartoon voicemaster Maurice LaMarche (Futurama, Pinky and the Brain) will host the comics industry’s annual Eisner Awards.

On the heels of last summer’s unprecedented filmmaker guest list — which included James Cameron, Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam — come geek gods J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon, who will panel together early Thursday; Iron Man director Jon Favreau; Shaun of the Dead writer/star Simon Pegg, and perennial fan favourites Roger Corman and Kevin Smith.

Science-fiction icon and pioneer conventioneer Ray Bradbury will get a special tribute Saturday afternoon.

TV’s Big Bang gang will make a triumphant return to bond with their brethren, the stars of the sizzling Glee will hang out and the Dexter cast is back, with married leads Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter appearing with fellow Showtimers Mary-Louise Parker of Weeds and David Duchovny of Californication on a panel of all-star “anti-heroes” (a possibly endangered species, with incoming Showtime president David Nevins apparently intent on taking the cable net in a different direction).

Also from the small screen: Anna Paquin (True Blood); Rainn Wilson (The Office); Noah Wyle (ER); David Boreanaz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bones); Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus); Michael Chiklis (The Shield); Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle); Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator); Jeffrey Tambor (Larry Sanders, Arrested Development); Seth Green (Robot Chicken); Saturday Night Live’s Chevy Chase, Molly Shannon, Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader; and series showrunners Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men); Matt Groening (The Simpsons); Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy); Brannon Braga (Star Trek, 24); and seminal kidvid creators Ruby & Spears and Sid and Marty Krofft.

Expected announcements — a Comic-Con staple — are said to include the official cast lineup of the upcoming Avengers movie, Christopher Nolan’s plans for both Batman and Superman; Peter Jackson’s confirmation of helming The Hobbit and Guillermo del Toro’s intention to resurrect Van Helsing.

There are comics stars, too, even as the convention continues to be less and less about comic books and graphic novels, notably fan-favourite writers Grant Morrison and Denny O’Neal, past and present DC presidents Jenette Kahn and Dan DiDio; and revered veteran comics artist Jerry Robinson, the uncredited creator of both Robin and The Joker. And it could not be Comic-Con without the annual appearance of Marvel’s marvellous Stan “The Man” Lee.

The non-profit San Diego Comic-Con event has come a long way in the 30 years since its inception, as the Golden State Comic-Con, when a mere 300 comic-book enthusiasts gathered here at the U.S. Grant Hotel. It has now grown to encompass every aspect of genre entertainment, from movies and television to video games to action figures and other collectibles.

It has now more than outgrown its current home at the San Diego Convention Centre, which has just announced a $753 million expansion plan to include another 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a third ballroom (the current largest seats just over 6,000) and an additional 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms.

The expansion is expected to be complete in time for the 2015 convention, but with the Comic-Con contract due to expire in 2012, that leaves two years uncommitted, and locals worry that may mean moving the event to somewhere better equipped to handle it, like Las Vegas, L.A. or Chicago.

It’s a very real concern, since the existing complex generates $18 billion in local business annually, a large chunk of that directly attributable to Comic-Con, the largest and most influential event of its kind in the world.

But they needn’t worry too much. With the current trends in pop culture, it could still be Comic-Con, even without the comics. But it wouldn’t be the San Diego Comic-Con anywhere else.

Meek, mild-mannered television columnist Rob Salem will file additional reports from the convention on Sunday and Monday. And then leap a tall building in a single bound. Email: rsalem@thestar.ca

Stedman Graham - The “Athletes Against Drugs” Interview with Kam Williams

Source: Kam Williams

Stedman Graham was born on March 6, 1951 in Whitesboro, NJ, a community founded in 1901 by a group of prominent African-Americans which included Booker T. Washington and Paul Laurence Dunbar. Stedman attended   Middle Township High School where the 6’6” phenom starred on the varsity basketball team. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Hardin-Simmons University, he played professionally in Europe for a few years before returning to the U.S. to work on his Master’s in Education from Ball State.   

An enduring, high-profile relationship with Oprah Winfrey has perhaps overshadowed the long list of business and charitable accomplishments accumulated over the course of Mr. Graham’s impressive career as Chairman and CEO of S. Graham & Associates, a management and marketing consulting firm specializing in the corporate and educational fields. A prolific writer, he is also the author of ten books, two of which became NY Times bestsellers. And he has taught at several colleges, including a course on leadership at the University of Illinois and one on strategic management at Northwestern

Most importantly, Mr. Graham has exhibited a lifelong commitment to community via Athletes Against Drugs (AAD), a non-profit organization he founded in 1985 which remains dedicated to developing leadership in underserved youth through scholarships and education. Recently, Stedman talked to me about his work with AAD and other projects.

Kam Williams: Hi Stedman, thanks so much for the time.

Stedman Graham: It’s my pleasure.

KW: I have a friend, Franklin Moore, who claims he’s a cousin of yours. Is that true or has the brother been making it up all these years?

SG: It’s true. he’s my closest cousin, my favourite cousin. Where do you know him from? 

KW: His younger son, Joseph, and my son have been friends since they were in pre-school together.

SG: That’s great, Joseph’s my godson.

KW: Small world. Tell me what’s going on with Athletes Against Drugs?

SG: The focus of the organization, which is really known now as AAD Education, Health and Sports is the positive, not the negative. Being in this business for 25 years has taught us that it’s not about the drugs but about providing positive choices, keeping yourself active and keeping yourself busy with activities, the proper curriculum, and special events like taking kids to games. That’s how you keep our youth off drugs.

KW: Where is the organization located?

SG: We’re operating out of Chicago. That’s our home base. But we do programs all around the country in coordination with various teams and various athletes. We provide programming in the schools, class curriculum, tutoring, and sports field trips. And we have athletes come speak in the schools. We’ve done all that for years. So, we’re really strong in terms of programming.

KW: Didn’t you have a big event recently?

SG: Well, we had our annual golf tournament where we bring in a lot of athletes. It’s one of our fundraisers. This year was our 25th anniversary celebration.

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, and they sent in a lot of questions. FSU grad Laz Lyles says she heard that you teach at Full Sail University, which she says is an amazing arts college. She wants to know, what attracted you to this school, and what you’re teaching there?

SG: I teach identity education and development. I teach people how to find their passion. I do it using a nine step plan. I also teach them how to develop a bigger vision once they have that passion. The thing that attracted me to Full Sail is that they have their passion already. So, what they needed was the other eight steps.

The curriculum that I teach encompasses all that. It’s especially pertinent to folks who already have an identity in terms of their job, their future employment or career path. [For more info, see Stedman’s book, “You Can Make It Happen: A Nine Step Plan for Success.” HERE]

KW: Robin Beckham asks what’s happening with AAD, but you already answered that. She’s another person who says she knows you. She’s in public relations in Pittsburgh where she used to be a TV anchorwoman for one of the networks. 

SG: Right, absolutely, yeah.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman who is vacationing on a vineyard in Vacqueyras, France as we speak, says, “I know you have a background in education. Do you support early childhood educational programs which help young African-American males bridge the achievement gap, even before the first grade?”

SG: Totally! I have a ten-week program in the high schools, which we’d like to push down to the middle and elementary schools. And we also have a program for parents and teachers. So, we’re very much proponents of helping kids develop an identity as early as possible in their lives.

KW: Ella Kegler from Lufkin, Texas asks, what is the lifestyle you see for yourself in ten years?

SG: I’d like to be able to travel around the world working with organizations and institutions to help educate as many people as possible about how to develop an identity for themselves, about how to find out who they are. And I’d like to teach them information making it relevant to their own development. 

KW: Jersey boy Larry Greenberg asks, “Do you have any plans to come back to your hometown, Whitesboro, this summer?"

SG: I’ve been going back to Whitesboro, working in the community where I grew up, for the last 21 years. I haven’t missed a Labor Day celebration yet. And I don’t expect to this year.

KW: Filmmaker/author Hisani Dubose asks, what is your PR firm’s specialty?

SG: We have a marketing and management consulting business. What we do is focus on is the books that I’ve written and the content that I have, and other projects and ventures, including seminars, speaking engagements, online training and development, and on serving our strong existing client base to set up win-win situations.  

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, what’s your goal for the future?

SG: My big goal is to develop a strong operational structure and alliances with our partners to build a better distribution network to deliver our content.

KW: Batala-Ra McFarlane asks, what advice do you have for those who’d like to start their own business in this challenging economic environment?

SG: I would say, make sure you focus on what you love and what you’re passionate about, so that when times get tough, you can overcome that obstacle.

KW: Marcia Evans asks are you still associated with Armstrong Williams and do you share his political perspective?

SG: I’ve known him for a number of years. He’s been a friend of mine. I try to not allow my personal relationship with him as a friend get mixed up with his political aspirations. Also, I don’t make judgments about people just because they may have a different point-of-view from mine.

KW: Reverend Florine Thonpson asks what is your most powerful, spiritual source of strength?

KW: My most powerful, spiritual source of strength is knowing that God is love. So, when I focus on love, and put that in my heart, then I have the power of a strong, spiritual base and foundation. 

KW: Professor Mia Mask asks, do you think President Obama has handled the BP oil disaster well?

SG: I think Obama has done a great job, based on what he was handed at the start of his administration. I also believe that he needs the support of the whole country. There are so many people trying to tear him down. America needs to come together as a country to figure out how we can support him as the President, including the BP disaster 

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

SG: No, but that’s the toughest question I’ve been asked.

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

SG: I try not to be.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

SG: Happier than I’ve ever been.

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

SG: Just today.

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

SG: How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins.  HERE.

KW: Heather Covington asks, what are you listening to? 

SG: The last thing I listened to was a CD that came with Success Magazine

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

SG: Spaghetti!

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

SG: I see hope!

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

SG: For all the people who have dropped out of school and who don’t think they’re good enough to understand who they really are and that the process for success is the same for everybody, if you understand it.

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

SG: I was running in the backyard and scraped my leg against a sharp edge of a rusty chair that severed a big piece of meat out of it.

KW: The Tavis Smiley questions. First, how introspective are you?

SG: I’m a Pisces, so I’m all internal.

KW: Second, what do you want your legacy to be?

SG: That I succeeded in teaching people how to maximize their potential as human beings.

KW: Well, thanks again for the interview, Stedman.

SG: Thank you. This was fun. Man, you’re good!

KW: I get a lot of help. If you notice, most of my questions come from my readers and from celebrities.

SG: Well, you’re the conduit, so you gotta be good to organize it all. Take care.

 
To order a copy of Stedman’s book, “You Can Make It Happen: A Nine Step Plan for Success,”

To order a copy of Stedman’s book, “Who Are You? A Success Process for Building Your Life’s Foundation,” visit HERE.

To order a copy of Stedman’s book, “Diversity: Leaders, Not Labels: A New Plan for the 21st Century,” visit HERE.

To order a copy of Stedman’s book, “Build Your Own Life brand,” visit HERE.

To order a copy of Stedman’s book, “Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps for Success,” visit HERE.

 

Scott Pilgrim Wins The World

Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar

(July 17, 2010) As a couple of his friends say to
Scott Pilgrim during the first five volumes of his graphic novel series, “If your life had a face, I'd punch it in the balls.” Let's face it, this modern-day graphic-novel Ferris Bueller lives a charmed life. Sure, he may have to deal with the little problem of his girlfriend' seven evil exes wanting to kick his ass, but beyond that trifle, life has been nothing but up for this character on the printed page and far beyond.

But you probably already

::SPORTS NEWS::

Stars Get Pimped Out For Mike Weir

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Hayley Mick

(July 19, 2010) Even on one of Canada’s most hallowed golf courses, Samuel L. Jackson’s persona is as bad ass as some of his Hollywood roles.

The Oscar-nominated star of Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane was impossible to miss at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto on Monday, decked out in a loud orange hat and matching shirt.

One of the best things about golf, he has said, is you can dress like a pimp.

He gave fist bumps to his foursome and mock-serious hell to bumbling reporters. And he wasn’t nervous about teeing off among some of the greatest golfers on the planet.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said before driving off the first tee. “I’m not in the gallery. I’m not getting hit.”

The Mike Weir Charity Classic, which kicked off the RBC Canadian Open tournament week and raised money to help children through the Mike Weir Foundation, drew a number of other celebrities, including NHL players Dion Phaneuf, Martin Brodeur and Steven Stamkos, former CFL quarterback Damon Allen and actor Kevin Dillon of HBO’s hit series Entourage.

Unlike some of the Hollywood participants, Canadian Olympic gold medalist Jon Montgomery worried about his ability to hit straight off the tee. “[The nerves] are creeping up on me now,” he said.

In Jackson’s case, however, hooking a drive into the gallery was unlikely. A three handicap who can hit the ball 335 yards, Jackson has struck an enviable balance between his Hollywood day job and his off-duty passion for golf, which has grown ever since he picked up the game after moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. His acting contracts include clauses that guarantee him tee times between filming.

And while shooting Star Wars in Australia, he carried a light sabre in his golf bag.

The tournament, which paired regular golfers who had paid for the chance to go 18 holes with celebrities and professional golfers, also attracted a number of fans who were simply happy to see the players warm up.

“Either you’re hockey or Hollywood,” said Paul Bychko, a teacher from Sault St. Marie, Ont., who stood around at 9 a.m. waiting for the first celebrities arrive at the practice range, located a few minutes from St. George’s.

Some professional autograph seekers had come from as far away as Detroit to land a few signatures that could earn between $5 and $500, depending on the celeb and the item signed.

“You’d take a Brodeur over a Jackson?” one young man asked another incredulously.

Others were true fans, including a trio of brothers skipped out of work and made the hour drive from Dundas, Ont., to find Dillon, who rivalled Jackson in laid-back charm, throwing a fist in the air as he ambled onto the practice fairway a little late.

Perhaps the smartest fans were the ones who shelled out a few hundred bucks on eBay for the honour of hauling around a notable’s clubs.

Journalism student Chris Ballard got to spend the day hanging out with Toronto Maple Leafs captain Phaneuf for $350 – not a bad investment for an aspiring sports reporter. “I’ve got a four-and-a-half hour exclusive with the guy,” he said with a grin.

And while some people were on the lookout for the likes of Weir and Fred Couples, the pure golf fans appeared to be in the minority on this particular day. Canadian golfer Stephen Ames strode into the practice area and seemed just fine with ignoring the outstretched felt pens.

“Am I the only one hitting balls?” he said with a grin.

Unlikely Winner Louis Oosthuizen Cruises To Victory At Open

Source: Dave Perkins

(July 18, 2010) ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND—Wherever it came from, South African long-shot
Louis Oosthuizen produced a victory in the Open Championship that was not only dominant, but of borderline historic proportions.

Swatting away the minimal challenge produced by playing partner Paul Casey midway in the round, Oosthuizen, ranked No. 54 in the world coming in, was rock-solid for a seven-stroke victory, one off the modern-day margin achieved here in 2000 by Tiger Woods.

“But it was tight through 12 holes,’’ the winner said. “And I knew I had a tough tee shot at 14 and 17. So anything could happen.

“Once I saw the ball in the fairway at 18, I was okay. I mean, I knew I wasn’t going to 10-putt,’’ said Oosthuizen, whose classy acceptance speech opened with a 92nd birthday greeting to Nelson Mandela. “When I was walking up 18, I was thinking about him, about what he’s done for our country.’’

Now, South Africans are thinking about what the guy they call Shrek has done in becoming the fourth native son to win the Open, following Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els.

“The Shrek is on the move. It’s nice to see,’’ said Retief Goosen, who finished sixth. “I knew he had a lot of talent. He grew up in an area that’s very windy, so for him these are normal conditions. The guy’s got one of the best swings on tour. I think he’ll be around for many years to come.’’

The winner’s final score of 16-under-par 272 included rounds of 65, 67, 69 and an eased-up 71. His 65 now is the lowest opening round by a winner in Open annals. That 16-under also comes close to Woods’s 19-under standard from 2000 here.

The only brief challenge arose on the loop at the far end of St. Andrews, where Oosthuizen, after opening with seven mostly solid pars, pulled his tee shot and missed a 10-foot par putt. That left Casey, who bogeyed the second but squeezed out a birdie on the sixth, only three shots behind. Casey drove the green on the ninth hole, but Oosthuizen stepped up and calmly did likewise, to about 40 feet. Casey lagged his longer eagle attempt down to birdie range, but the leader then calmly drilled in his eagle putt and he turned where he started the day, four strokes in front.

“I needed one putt to get my rhythm going,’’ Oosthuizen said, “and that was it.’’

When Casey launched his tee shot into the gorse bushes at the 12th hole, leading to a soul-crushing triple-bogey, what little drama was cooking went stone-cold. Oosthuizen birdied that 12th, for good measure, to move eight shots clear and while the engraver was getting to work on the Claret Jug, Oosthuizen’s only opposition was the record book.

Lee Westwood scratched out a 2-under 70 to finish second at 279, but shed no tears.

“Louis obviously played great and thoroughly deserved to win. So there’s not any disappointment,’’ Westwood said. “If you get close and lose, then there’s disappointment, but I didn’t get within eight shots.’’

Rory McIlroy shot 68 to share third at 280 with a bizarre four-day card of 63-80-69-68. Casey (75) and Henrik Stenson (71) also tied for third.

“I couldn’t help but think of Friday going up the last hole. If I had just sort of stuck in a little bit more on Friday and held it together more, it could have been a different story,’’ McIlroy said.

Casey simply tipped his hat to the winner.

“As disappointed as I am with the way I played today, Louis was in a different league,’’ he said. “That softens my disappointment slightly, because it was a tremendous performance by him.’’

Tiger Woods, who never looked comfortable all week, produced another par round and finished at 3-under 285, worth only 23rd place. He made two early birdies, but double-bogeyed the fourth and seventh holes to kill any momentum.

“I drove it great all week, hit my irons pretty good and did not putt well, except for the first day,’’ said Woods, who dumped his new putter and went back to his old one Sunday. “I think I had nine three-putts for the week, so consequently I’m pretty far down the board.’’

Will Power Wins Honda Indy Toronto

Source: Kevin Mcgran, Sports Reporter

(July 18, 2010) The strategy behind
Will Power’s victory Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto was beautiful in its simplicity, perfectly executed, but easier said than done.

“Avoid carnage and accidents,” said the Aussie Team Penske driver of his game plan going into the race.

He wasn’t joking. Power was one of the last drivers standing in what was a crash-filled race of attrition that featured six cars being towed off the track and six lead changes.

“As I predicted, it was a very wild race,” said Power after recording his fourth win in 10 races on the IZOD IndyCar series this season. “Started the first corner for me.”

Starting outside pole-sitter Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti moved inside on him and Power dropped back.

Wilson, the underdog from Britain, was easily the day’s most dominant driver, holding the lead for 32 laps. But Power outdueled Franchitti for second during a pit stop and went around Wilson on Lap 72 of 85.

“The last restart, when I passed Justin, was the key to winning the race,” said Power. “I got a run on him. It was, I would say, a calculated but risky move to pass him because I wasn’t sure I’d make it out the other side.

“It was close, but sometimes you have to do that in racing if you want to win, and that’s what happened.”

Power had indeed avoided carnage, but Wilson spun out moments later and his race was over. He recovered to finish seventh.

“I feel sorry for him,” said Power.

Power, the series leading driver, won back-to-back races for the second time for Team Penske. Scotland’s Franchitti, last year’s winner, finished second for his fifth podium finish of the season for Target Chip Ganassi. American Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third for Andretti Autosports.

Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., was furious when Thomas Scheckter bumped him late in the race, forcing him to drop down to 17th after running in the top 10 all day. The two ran into each other last year in Toronto, with Tagliani bumping Scheckter.

“The most frustrating thing is a guy that does four races a year, you go see him, he tells you the F-word, ‘Just payback, see you later,’ ” said Tagliani. “He was, like, actually happy that he didn’t finish the race and he took us out.

“Pretty long time to keep a grudge.”

Given the day’s carnage, it’s remarkable that Toronto’s Paul Tracy somehow avoided it all.

The veteran part-time driver has a reputation for crashing — he crashed out last year — but managed to finish the race. Starting 24th among the 26 cars, Tracy finished 13th and even held the lead for 10 laps, giving the crowd some chills that the Thrill from West Hill was back.

Off the start, Tracy moved through the pack pretty easily and took the lead when leaders in the field pitted during the first caution. He was hoping a long stretch of full-out racing would follow, giving him a leg up on pit strategy.

“It’s better than 26th,” Tracy said of his finish. “We got up front there for a little bit with our strategy.”

The grandstand erupted when Tracy took the lead. But all the crashes hurt Tracy’s chances, with his pit-stop advantage vanishing. Franchitti passed him on Lap 32.

“I knew I had Dario behind me and all the main big shooters, and I didn’t want to make a mistake in front of them and cause a mistake for one of them,” said Tracy. “But I also wanted to lead as well.

“Dario had a good run on me and I had to be fair with him.”

Tracy pitted shortly after, then hurt his own cause by stalling two-thirds through the race when his rear wheels locked while braking.

“That probably cost us a top-10, top-7 position in the end,” he said of the stall. “At the end of the day, even though we were a lap down, I was running with the leaders, running the same pace as the leaders.

“We didn’t get a great finish. It was better than a lot of guys. A lot of guys ended up in the wall and spun out and damaged cars. We came home the first Canadian.”

Power might like to quarrel with that. Drivers have a habit of claiming roots in the community in which they race, and Power was no exception, saying his grandmother is Canadian, from the Edmonton area. It’s Power’s fourth career win in Canada.

“I guess you could put it down to my grandmother, who is Canadian, so I’m part Canadian,” said Power. “My uncle lives here as well.

“I love Canada.”

The grandstands were mostly full and the circuit was lined by spectators who were standing. Although the crowd numbers were far from the glory days of this race in the 1980s and ’90s, the crowd Sunday was healthy and definitely larger than a year ago.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Kevin Glenn Named CFL Player Of Week

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(July 19, 2010) TORONTO — Kevin Glenn is the Canadian Football League's offensive player of the week for his performance in Hamilton's victory over Winnipeg. The Tiger-Cats quarterback was 29-of-36 passing for 336 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-7 victory over the Blue Bombers, his team's first win of the season. He was a unanimous pick for the award, as was teammate Dave Stala for top Canadian honours. The wide receiver had nine catches for 124 yards. A pair of Edmonton Eskimos claimed the remaining awards. Linebacker Maurice Lloyd grabbed the defensive prize while kicker Noel Prefontaine earned the special teams honour. Lloyd made six tackles, including two sacks, plus one tackle for a loss in a 24-20 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He beat out teammate Marcus Adams and Jerald Brown of the Montreal Alouettes. Prefontaine scored 12 of Edmonton's 20 points, kicking field goals of 16, 18 and 31 yards, singles from 56 and 66 yards out, plus a convert. Kick returner Chad Owens of the Toronto Argonauts was the runner-up.

Koscheck: St.-Pierre fight set for Dec. 11

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(July 19, 2010) TORONTO — Welterweight challenger Josh Koscheck says he will meet Canadian UFC title-holder Georges St-Pierre on Dec. 11. The two 170-pounders recently wrapped up filming as rival coaches on Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV series. “Can't wait until tuf 12 airs in Sept! & oh ya did u guys know, that I am going to be the next welterweight champion come dec 11th,” Koscheck tweeted. Two sources confirmed the date, saying no venue has been chosen yet. In a perfect world, the UFC would love to stage the show in Toronto but the provincial government has yet to show any inclination to sanction mixed martial arts. Koscheck (17-4) lost a unanimous non-title decision to St-Pierre at UFC 74 in August 2007. He is currently riding a three-fight win streak. St-Pierre (20-2) has won his last seven fights, a string that includes four straight title defences.