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May 6, 2010

Welcome to
May people!  The good weather is here longer and better is still coming!  There's that buzz in the air where people are actually believing that it's between spring and summer. 

Well you've heard all the controversy regarding
Erykah Badu's nudity in her video for Window Seat?  Well, I thought was a great opportunity to do an Erykah Badu giveaway.  This way you can assess the music behind the video and the rest of the tracks as well.  I liked the CD, even some of the odder choices ... but that's our Erykah!  Don't forget to include your full name and mailing address or you can't qualify!  The trivia question to win is: What was the class charge against Erykah Badu for her nudity in Window Seat? Check for the answer under SCOOP - and enter the contest HERE.
Scroll down and find out what interests you - take your time and take a walk into your weekly entertainment news!

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


Erykah Badu Pleads Not Guilty to "Window Seat" Charge

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 30, 2010)
Erykah Badu has pleaded not guilty to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from her controversial "Window Seat" music video, which featured the New Amerykah Part Two singer stripping down naked while walking through Dallas' Dealey Plaza. Hundreds of Dallas residents, some of them children, watched Badu's video shoot, and while no one called police at the time, as Rolling Stone previously reported, the police actively sought witnesses to step forward in order to charge Badu after the video became a viral sensation. One witness finally complained earlier this month, telling officers "she and her two small children were offended," leading to the Class C misdemeanour charge, which carries a $500 fine. Rather than simply pay the fee by mail, however, Badu opted to challenge the charge, Dallas Morning News reports.

Badu's "Window Seat" video combined Matt and Kim's "Lessons Learned" clip, in which the duo ran around New York's Times Square naked, with allusions to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which also took place in Dealey Plaza. Badu has since said she chose Dealey Plaza because it was one of the most popular places in Dallas.

As Rolling Stone previously reported, Dallas officials sought to use the "Window Seat" case as a catalyst to springboard changes to the city's "no permit necessary" laws for video shoots. So far, Badu has not commented on her plea on her very active Twitter.


K'Naan, Freshlyground Added To World Cup Concert

Source: Billboard.com - By Andre Paine, London

(May 04, 2010) South African band Freshlyground, Somali-Canadian rapper K'Naan and the Soweto Gospel Choir have joined the line-up for the World Cup Kick-Off Celebration Concert on June 10.

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and the Mzansi Youth Choir have also been added to the bill for the show at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, said event producer Control Room and soccer governing body FIFA.

K'Naan has recorded a version of his song "Wavin' Flag" for the Coca-Cola FIFA campaign for the 2010 World Cup.

Other acts already confirmed for the concert include Alicia Keys, Amadou & Mariam, Black Eyed Peas, BLK JKS, John Legend, Juanes, Shakira, the Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Touré and Vusi Mahlasela.

"As South Africans we are proud to be hosting the first ever World Cup on African soil," said Hugh Masekela in a statement. "I am very humbled and flattered to be part of this global event and am looking forward to the concert with great interest and excitement."

The full line-up will be made up of 70% African artists.

"We wanted to have an eclectic mix of music genres to appeal to as many people as possible around the world whilst at the same time showcasing the immense home-grown talent of the host country," said FIFA director of TV, Niclas Ericson.

The concert will be broadcast live on SABC 1 in South Africa, and it is set to be aired by international broadcasters.

"The South African Broadcast Corporation is proud to be the exclusive free to air broadcaster in South Africa and to be the technical co-producer to ensure this concert reaches millions of people through television and radio around the world," said SABC CEO Solly Mokoetle in a statement

JAMPRO Re-Opens Office in Canada

Source: Jamaica Information Service

(March 04, 2010)
Jampro, formerly Jamaica Trade and Invest, has re-opened its office in Canada after a five-and-a-half-year absence.

The office, managed by Regional Manager, Robert Kerr and with support from Senior Consulting Officer, Nardia McKenzie, will service all of North America and is situated at the Jamaican Consulate General in Toronto.

Speaking to JIS News recently, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the re-opening of the North American office and the London division two years ago, will serve to re-engage Jampro internationally.

"Jampro will be seeking to promote and introduce Jamaican products to potential buyers and also to try to encourage Canadian businesses to look at Jamaica favourably as a location to invest, especially as far as the Jamaican Diaspora is concerned," he said.

Noting that the Diaspora has a critical role to play in the recovery of the Jamaican economy, he said that the worldwide financial crisis will soon be over and "we don't want to lose the opportunity of laying a solid foundation for the future."

"If we're able to look at Jamaica as our home, no matter where in the world we live, and try to give as much help and assistance, both in terms of technical expertise and physical investment, then I'm pretty sure it will advance the process of recovery," Mr. Samuda stated.

Stating that the climate for doing business in Jamaica is improving, he informed that, "we now have a one-stop type provision for importers and we're looking to have that for exporters as well."

He said that Jamaica is also trying to introduce the model that is used in Singapore, but because of financial constraints that will take a longer time to come on stream.

Jamaica's newly appointed High Commissioner to Canada, Sheila Sealy Monteith, welcomed the re-opening of the Jampro office, which she said, will "re-institutionalise the presence of Jampro here."

Regional Manager, Robert Kerr, told JIS News that his office will be focusing on three main sectors across Canada and the United States. These are manufacturing, creative industries and information and communication technology (ICT). Jampro will be utilising several types of technology to reach different industries and investors, including web-based seminars called webinars.

A Hip-Hop Soap Opera: Rapper Guru’s Life And Death

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(May 04, 2010) Though he’s dealing with a family crisis — his father is in the last stages of terminal cancer — Toronto jazz trumpeter Brownman is speaking out about a hip-hop soap opera that’s confounding fans.

The Trinidad-born
Nick Ali, an award-winning musician, has been inundated with more than 200 interview requests from American hip-hop websites and magazines, as well as mainstream press since the death of rap legend Guru (legal name Keith Elam) with whom he toured and recorded for three years.

Since the Boston native succumbed to cancer April 19 at 48, the circumstances of his final years and death have been the subject of sinister allegations of physical abuse, forgery and, possibly, fraud.

At the crux of the salacious details is John Mosher a.k.a. Solar, Guru’s producer and business partner in 7 Grand Records.

The first signal that something was amiss came after Guru suffered a heart attack in February. His nephew Justin Elam Ruff posted a video on YouTube in March complaining that Solar, acting as Guru’s health proxy, was preventing his family from visiting the performer in hospital and releasing erroneous statements about his health.

When Guru died, Solar released a “farewell letter” purportedly written by the emcee in his final weeks. The missive slams an unnamed “ex-DJ,” which aficionados read as a Premier, Guru’s partner in the vaunted Gang Starr group, and seems to gives Solar oversight of Guru’s musical legacy and 9-year-old son.

That’s when everyone cried fake — fans, peers like Roots drummer Questlove, Guru’s relatives — on the basis of the Solar-boosting comments, the fact that the supposed author had been in a coma since February and its promotion of a non-profit organization that Long Island-based birthplacemag.com, citing IRS records, cited as a defunct entity in the name of Solar’s wife.

Concurrently, Guru’s older sister Patricia Elam told MTV that the family learned of the performer’s death through media reports the next day and had to cold call New York funeral homes to locate his body.

Then came former 7 Grand Records executive assistant Tasha Denham’s interview with hiphopdx.com recounting a pattern of domination and abuse of Guru by Solar with whom she has a daughter.

Subsequently, fans and reporters have been clamouring for insight from others who were close to Guru, such as Brownman, one of three members of the final incarnation of the emcee’s jazz-hip-hop fusion group Jazzmatazz.

“People are coming at me hard for statements,” said the musician in a phone interview from his parents Brampton home where they are preparing for the worst for his 65-year-old dad who diagnosed with cancer eight months ago. “Guru is a hip-hop icon, so the hip-hop world wants answers.”

Brownman said Jazzmatazz’s “gentle, generous, humorous” leader whom he called “G” was being “controlled and abused” by Solar.

“Guru was essentially a puppet,” he said, echoing Denham’s allegations. “It’s really hard to say this stuff out loud. I’m speaking about a hero of mine. I grew up with Gang Starr and Jazzmatazz. To stand onstage next to him was a thrill.”

But it was a different scene offstage.

Brownman, who began touring with Jazzmataz in 2007, said Solar slowly took control of both the band and Guru, whom he said he witnessed being hit.

“As the group solidified, I guess he felt more comfortable treating Guru like a punk in front of us and it was so disdaining to watch. He would yell at Guru like a little boy and I’ve never seen a man disrespect somebody else like this before.”

Attempts to reach Solar through his 7 Grand Records were unsuccessful. He defended the authenticity of the death bed letter on MTV and dismissed Denham’s allegations as her “making up tales” in an interview with the U.K.’s Conspiracy Radio.

Brownman lauded Guru, whose name was an acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal, for “lyrics that make you wince with their brilliance.” The rapper, whose family includes a retired Massachusetts superior court judge father and Stanford University drama prof brother, gave up graduate school at the Fashion Institute of Technology for hip-hop. He made six albums between 1988 and 2004 with DJ Premier in the pioneering Gang Starr and four albums under the Jazzmatazz banner, featuring veteran jazzers such as Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers and Branford Marsalis.

Why would the revered entertainer who apparently conquered the alcohol addiction that Premier blamed for their split allow himself to be controlled by the modestly talented Solar who performed as his hype man?

“This is the story Guru has told me, this is story he tells everybody: ‘Solar saved my life,’” said Brownman. “Those are his words: ‘Solar took me and cleaned me up and put me on a new path, gave me a new beginning; we formed a record company together and my next life began.’”

“It was like an abused wife relationship and he made all the same excuses: ‘Why does he talk to you like that? It’s my fault, Brown, he helps me get in shape.’ He rationalized it. I would just have to shake my head — ‘Okay, you’re a grown man, it’s your life’ — and resolved to never let anyone treat me like that. I wasn’t hired to be the Jazzmatazz judge and jury; I was hired to play trumpet and I did that to the best of my abilities.”

But that became increasingly difficult for the National Jazz Award-winning Brownman who leads six groups of his own and has played with the likes of Sting, Dave Matthews Band and Mos Def. After a payment dispute he resigned from the band in January.

Brownman has bittersweet memories of the last Jazzamatazz tour in Europe in November when it was obvious that Guru was seriously ill.

“By the last date he was like an old man, he was so decrepit. He’d lost so much weight. No way the guy should have been walking, much less running, around on stage rapping.”

The trumpeter learned later of the year-long battle with multiple myeloma. In the wake of Guru’s death he wishes the focus could be on the rapper’s musical contributions.

“I understand the truth has to come out, but it’s devastating. To the rest of world it’s the soap opera of a legend, but this was my friend, a man I love and respect and it’s so heartbreaking.”

Robert Lepage + Cirque du Soleil = Totally Awesome

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(April 30, 2010) Watching a
Cirque du Soleil show is always an otherworldly experience. The performances just seem so strange, standing in defiance of gravity, probability and most logic. Then there’s the Cirque’s Warholian mash-up, collapsing the finest performance-art skills and kitschy circus routine, high and low art, into one.

The Cirque’s latest collaboration with Quebec City-based writer-director
Robert Lepage is no exception. In Totem, a troupe of astonishingly talented Cirque performers take us through a series of very loosely connected sketches, all of them zany, some more memorable than others. As expected with Cirque shows, there’s a New Agey concept that’s supposed to tie everything together: The press kit transmits the message in what could perhaps best be described as Cirquespeak: “Somewhere between science and legend, Totem explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.”

Whatever. Esoteric thematic aspirations aside, Cirque does what it does best with Totem – it delivers the goods. The first act is so strong it threatens to peak too soon. The troupe leaps from one sketch to the next. There’s plenty of trapeze action, with players seeming to float effortlessly through the air, a homoerotic swimsuitcompetition in which two buff boys show off their muscles for the audience, and a gonzo unicycle act in which riders toss metal bowls onto each other’s heads. It’s as crazy as it sounds.

Lepage has chosen to alternate between sketches that feature the iconography of exotic cultures – for which he seems to have great reverence – with others that feature western cultures personified by clowns. It’s hard to tell if there’s some underlying point; as much fun as Cirque shows are, their use of ethnic and native stereotypes are occasionally a bit cringe-worthy. We are meant to stand in wonder as two people who appear to be aboriginal roller-blade on a box, one carrying the other on his head, to a musical score performed by what sounds like the Buddhist Tabernacle Choir. (When watching Avatar, I wondered if James Cameron’s rendition of the noble savage hadn’t been inspired by a Cirque show.)

While the second act had highlights, including a dizzyingly romantic high-wire act in which a man and woman fall in love on the trapeze, there were also some points that lagged. Given the outstanding strengths of act one, the evening felt a tad top-heavy.

But these are minor quibbles. For the most part, Totem shows us the essence of Cirque’s success: its outstandingly talented performers. Their frantic, gravity-defying antics leave you enthralled, and in touch with your inner valley girl. Simply put, they’re, like, totally awesome.

Cirque du Soleil’s Totem runs until July 11 in Montreal. It moves to Quebec City (July 22-August 29) and then to Amsterdam beginning Oct. 7.

Special to The Globe and Mail  

Rush Doc Takes Tribeca Prize

Source: www.thestar.com - The Associated Press

(May 2, 2010) New York City movie fans showed Canadian power trio
Rush plenty of love, picking the made-in-Canada documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage the audience favourite at the ninth annual Tribeca Film Festival.

Toronto filmmakers Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn will receive a cash prize of $25,000 U.S. as winner of The Heineken Audience Award.

The doc, which had its world premiere at Tribeca makes its Canadian bow at Hot Docs in Toronto on Thursday, before opening in theatres in June.

The documentary gives fans an all-access pass to the earliest days of the Toronto-born band, along with archival concert footage and interviews with Rush members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart.

“What wonderful recognition for the hard and diligent work Sam and Scot did to bring this film to the public,” said Lee, Lifeson and Peart in a statement. “We are so thrilled that they have received such a prestigious honour from the Tribeca Film Festival.”

Linda Barnard

Broadway upheld a time-honoured tradition despite a bomb scare that shut down Times Square on the most popular night of the week: The shows went on.

“There were no evacuations from Broadway theatres,” Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, said Sunday, adding that, “all Broadway matinee and evening shows will go on as scheduled today.’’

The area was shut down Saturday night after authorities found a bomb that apparently began to detonate — but did not explode — in a smoking sport utility vehicle parked on West 45th St. during the busy time between matinee and evening performances.

West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues is Broadway’s Gold Coast, home to such hit shows as The Lion King and Billy Elliot.

Saturday evening performances for some plays were delayed for about a half-hour and theatregoers were kept off 45th St. after the performances.

When the curtain came down, theatregoers at “Red” and “God of Carnage,” for example, were asked to exit


Broken Social Scene’s Risks Pay Off Again

Source: www.eurweb.com - Ben Rayner

Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record
(Arts & Crafts)
(out of four)

(May 3, 2010) It’s like Christmas for fans of Canadian indie-pop this Tuesday, as duelling new releases from
Broken Social Scene arrive in stores to extensive hipster scrutiny and hopelessly high expectations.

With good reason, I suppose. The Vancouver-born New Pornos and Toronto’s beloved Broken were the two friendly collectives responsible for thrusting records by homegrown independent artists into the arms of cool kids worldwide at the dawn of this decade. And now they’ve both got something to prove again, having divided fans and critics alike with hit-or-miss previous albums — 2007’s
Challengers and 2005’s Broken Social Scene, respectively — that bravely dared mess with the formulas that first found them success.

Broken Social Scene is still messing with the formula on
Forgiveness Rock Record, but that’s really about the only formula the improvisationally inclined outfit has ever observed. At first listen, in fact, the new album threatens to be as incoherent as the last, whipping past in an hour-long blur of beautiful noises and outwardly incompatible styles.

One forgets, though, that even 2002’s classic
You Forgot It In People was a total hodgepodge, too, and spin by spin Forgiveness Rock Record — given a new clarity of presentation by Tortoise/Sea and Cake drummer John McEntire’s production, yet without sacrificing the band’s fondness for dense, potheaded sonic detail — stitches itself together into an record with much the same immersive ebb and flow.

Once you get to know the tunes, it makes perfect sense to have the racing, horn- and string-powered Krautrock barnburner “Chase Scene” segueing into the melancholic enviro-pop of “Texico Bitches,” or for the momentum worked up by Andrew Whiteman’s jaunty “Art House Director” to collapse into a formless fog of sighs and mumbles on “Highway Slipper Jam.” The presence of Kevin Drew on vocals for the lion’s share of the tracks, including the subtly anthemic first single “World Sick,” also gives
Forgiveness an added layer of semi-cohesiveness. Co-founder Brendan Canning does get off a decent shot of Red Red Meat-esque skronk at the end with “Water in Hell,” however, and both chaps have once again gamely let themselves be upstaged by female collaborators: Metric’s Emily Haines is at her wounded best on “Sentimental Xs,” while Lisa Lobsinger — whose whispery pipes have rarely seemed a match for fellow BSS contributors Leslie Feist and Amy Millan, both relegated to background roles here — finally adds one to the canon with the glittering electro-glide of “All to All.” It’s all a joyous mess, albeit one anchored by proper tunes, and probably just the album Broken Social Scene should have made right now to get everyone back on board. 

DMC Sponsors Talent Show

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 2, 2010) *Darryl “
DMC” McDaniels is motivating a new generation of youth through the arts. Over the years, the pioneering musician has worked with youth and is currently a partner with the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

Each year, the non-profit hosts a talent show and this year it will take place on April 28 at the Radio City Music Hall.

“Last year, they had the kids produce a TV show for Fuse and they needed a
subject to interview, so I came in,” he said, explaining how he originally
got involved with Garden of Dreams. “The kids put the whole show together -
worked the cameras, did the interview, production, sound and light — and I
was the subject that they focused on,” he said. “I really loved it because
it gave the kids experience.”

He says through the organization, poverty stricken children and urban kids have a chance to grab onto hope and generate positivity in their lives, reports The BoomBox.com. He inspires the children with his own rags to riches story. As a celebrity, he wants to reach students with a message of hope, growth, and fun.

“There’s no difference. I’m not a celebrity,” he said. “I am you. And it helps them to see and be in real time with people who walked the same streets that they did. I probably wrote my first rap at 12-years-old, but I didn’t perform until Run-DMC did their first show when I was 18. These kids have a lot to offer because I would’ve never gotten in a room in front of a bunch of people and did what these little kids are doing.”

Oh Yeah, The Boy Can Play

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

Mark Knopfler
At Massey Hall in Toronto on Thursday

(April 30, 2010) He did the walk of life – a career survey and a hobbled jaunt, but not the song. Offering a broad,
pleasing retrospection of his lengthy, three-pronged career, the baritone-voiced, note-perfect guitarist Mark Knopfler stuck to a swivelling high chair – a pinched nerve precluded his standing – and kept to low-maintenance rock that was bucolic, winsome and occasionally Celtic or soundtrack-styled. Short on razzmatazz, Knopfler’s easy manner and story songs went a long ways on warmth, gentlemanly grace and the backing of an expert, sympathetic seven-piece band.

What He Did

Though launched with the accordion-infused, penny-whistled Border Reiver, the performance leaned only lightly on Knopfler’s latest record, Get Lucky. Older solo material from the Newcastle-raised 60-year-old included the cozy, piano-dappled Sailing to Philadelphia and Prairie Wedding, an evocative, overcast-skied piece of folk rock recently covered by the bluegrassing Del McCoury Band.

“They sing it exactly an octave higher than I do,” said Knopfler, “which I’m sure is the right approach.” Culled from the Dire Straits era (1977-95), to much fan appreciation, were Romeo & Juliet (which bridged the weird divide of Shakespeare and Springsteen), a lengthy Telegraph Road, the poignant Brothers in Arms and a version of So Far Away that recalled Australian band Men at Work. While hits Walk of Life and Money for Nothing were not cashed in, the other Dire Straits biggie received the night’s grandest applause.

The Sultan of the Stratocaster

Early, Knopfler played almost casually, filling in spaces with chords and economical notes as if in sound-check mode. For the iconic Sultans of Swing – “You get a shiver in the dark, it’s been raining in the park, but meantime” – he bore down, no longer “saving it up for Friday night.” His note-hitting on a sanitary-toned red Fender Stratocaster was nimble, gliding and marvellous, though completely in bounds. He uses no fancy techniques or effects, just finger vibrato and a volume foot pedal. “Playing that on my knee was strange,” said the seated Knopfler, about one of Rolling Stone’s greatest 100 guitar songs of all time.

The Voice

Knopfler struggled with softer passages. And often his monotone vocals would blend in snugly with the band’s accompaniment, which made distinguishing lyrics nigh impossible. The presentation of his material was impeccable though, his own playing often sublime. In addition to his Dire Straits fame, Knopfler has made a mark with film soundtracks, a career that bleeds into some of his more evocative solo material (Speedway at Nazareth, for example). Here’s a guy who could still sell out arenas if he chose to, but he’s no Johnny singing oldies. He limped off the stage at the end. Knopfler, a treasure, still has the action, if not the motion – yeah, the boy still can play.  

Nikki Yanofsky Is The Real Deal

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(April 30, 2010)
Nikki Yanofsky is a young woman with an amazing gift.

I don’t mean her perfect pitch or her incredibly versatile singing style, qualities that anyone with access to her new CD, Nikki, which debuted on the charts at No. 6 in the Canada last week, can instantly discover.

No, I’m talking about the fact that she can text without looking at the keyboard on her PDA.

Now that’s talent.

When I make the mistake of doubting Yanofsky’s ability to pull off such a feat, she flashes me a look that says, “Oh ye of little faith,” locks eyes with me and proceeds to start rat-a-tat-tat-ing on her keyboard.

A few seconds later, she pushes “Send” and immediately following it, my iPhone pulses with the results.

Perfectly spelled, impeccably punctuated, her message says: “Hi, Richard, this is Nikki. You didn’t think I could text without looking at my keyboard, but I can. This has been a fun interview so far.”

And from that moment, I learned three important things about Nikki Yanofsky: she’s very skilled, very determined and very much 16 years old.

Like most of you, I’d heard all the advance hype about Yanofsky: how she started singing at the age of 2, how her parents (mom’s a homemaker and dad’s a amateur musician founded toy company WowWee) kept her under wraps until she hit her teen years, how a consortium of relatives and friends created a company to develop her talent far from the brutality of the music business.

I’d been impressed by her voice, admired her cool and occasionally winced at her precocious interviews. But, secretly, I wondered what the real girl was like. Was there an actual Nikki Yanofsky underneath all the jazz riffs and carefully managed PR, or was she the ultimate Stepford Chanteuse?

All it took was 30 minutes in her presence to put my mind at rest. She’s the real thing: a funny, feisty, honest teenager who happened to be standing in the Supersize line when God was giving out talent.

The smile’s your first clue: big and warm and real. Then there’s her endearing habit of sitting knock-kneed and pigeon-toed at the same time, like a Disney cartoon character about to trip the light fantastic.

Ask her about the first moment she suspected her singing voice might have been something out of the ordinary and she cocks her head to one side for a moment before pulling it from her memory.

“I was 3 or 4,” she recalls “and I was listening to Aretha (Franklin) singing ‘Respect.’ I started singing along and my dad said, ‘Wait a minute, do that again.’

“He took me down to his studio, played ‘Natural Woman’ on the piano, I sang along and I realized I sounded just like Aretha.”

But mimicry was never Yanofsky’s intent, not even as a child.

“I never wanted to be anybody else. I just wanted to take the best I could from everyone and use it myself. Aretha, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald . . . I’d take what I could from them and through that, I found my own voice.”

But having a gift like that is one thing. Living with it is something else and that’s where Yanofsky ran into trouble early on in her native Montreal.

“In elementary school, I was an outcast,” she says simply, without self-pity. “I didn’t have many friends at all and I had a lot of bullying problems. Physical as well as psychological. They’d put gum in my hat, they’d push me around, they treated me pretty badly.”

Amazingly enough, Yanofsky puts part of the blame on her own shoulders.

“Some people either get me or they don’t. I’m a pretty strong character. You’ve got to learn when to be fully who you are and when you have to tone it down for some people. I know that now. I didn’t know it then.

“The people who bullied me back then still go to school with me. I don’t think they’re ever going to like me fully, but that doesn’t bother me. Hey, if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

That sense of “my way or the highway” is something Yanofsky brings to her music as well. Although she was first hailed as a jazz singer and made her Carnegie Hall debut on her 14th birthday, channelling Ella Fitzgerald classics, her CD is something else. Lots of jazz to be sure, but there are also songs that Yanofksy wrote with Ron Sexsmith and a tune (“Try Try Try”) that Leslie Feist penned for the teen.

Already there’s been some “That’s not our Nikki!” feedback from diehard fans (although how diehard can they be when you’re only 16?) and Yanofsky doesn’t take that well.

“People start trying to label me. They want to put me into a specific genre and say, ‘You stay there, you can’t turn left, you can’t turn right.’ Well, too bad. I consider myself an everything singer. I want people to get to know me and all the styles of songs that make up my music.”

Another criticism is that Yanofsky is singing numbers (like Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”) that are way outside of her life experience.

“I don’t think it’s fair for people to say things like that,” she says, suddenly looking like the girl who used to have gum stuck in her hat. “Music means something different to everybody.

“Okay, when I was 12 and I sang love songs, I had never been in love, but I would think about my dog because I was so passionately in love with that little puppy. Or I pretend I’m in a play and being a character who’s going through all those emotions.”

But in the end, there’s the date on her birth certificate: Feb. 8, 1994.

“Yeah, I’m 16 and there isn’t any escaping that,” she smiles. “Yes, I have crushes and tell my friends about them. I have four best girlfriends and two best guy friends and I talk to them about everything. I’m a huge tweeter and you saw how good I am at texting!”

She admits there are times when it’s tough to tell her friends she can’t go to the mall because she’s got to go somewhere to sing a concert, “but they know I’ll still go to the mall with them every chance I get.”

She looks a little embarrassed for the first time as she admits that “I took one of my friends to the Junos and she had never seen me like that. She thought it was weird when people kept asking my for my autograph.”

And as if any further proof was needed that Yanofsky is 100% normal teenage girl, she confesses that “I’m obsessed with Twilight. Team Edward all the way.

“I’m also not the healthiest eater. I eat a lot of junk. I love ice cream. Maple is the best flavour. Must be the Canadian in me.”

As for the future, she simply says “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

When asked if she’s thought about marriage or motherhood, she holds up her hand to stop the conversation.

“I’m only 16. That’s too far down the road. Let me get through heavy dating first.”

Listen to Nikki Yanofsky’s single “Cool my Heels”.

Is Jane Siberry In The House?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Kelvin Chan

(May 04, 2010) London — The last time Sarah Gillespie had seen Jane Siberry in concert, it was at London's Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames, along with several thousand fans. Last Wednesday, Gillespie was able to see Siberry again, but this time in a much more intimate venue: Gillespie’s own living room.

She and about two dozen other fans crammed into her shared two-bedroom ground-floor flat in Brockley, a leafy, nondescript southeast London neighbourhood, to catch Siberry during her swing through the British capital on her do-it-yourself world tour.

“Oh my gosh, I've been travelling through so many villages to get here,” Siberry said as she took the stage, which was a patch of floor by the bay window.

“Have you ever heard of Brockley before?” a man in the audience asked.

“Never,” Siberry replied, before kicking off her set.

The cozy concert at Gillespie's home in a semi-detached Victorian house was one of a dozen microgigs the Canadian singer-songwriter has played in London during her salon tour's British leg. The night before, she had played to 40 guests at a small organic café-bar in Bethnal Green in east London, where the organizers were also putting her up for a few nights. The night after, she was scheduled to play to 30 people at another Victorian house in Battersea in southwest London.

Canadian singer Jane Siberry sings to an intimate crowd in a private home in London. Siberry is doing a world
tour where she lodges in the place where she performs.

I don't have a promoter that's interested in bringing me over, and I thought, 'Am I just never going to play there because someone's a gatekeeper, but people want me?’

After becoming disenchanted on her last tour, Siberry decided to arrange this one mainly through word of mouth. She's using her e-mail list to invite fans to host her in their homes or other small venues, and is paying her own way through ticket sales, thereby allowing her to travel to places she might never have been able to go if she relied on a conventional concert promoter. To keep costs down, she’s also asking hosts to give her a bed for a night or two, and to cook her up a dinner before she goes on.

And she's travelling light, with her guitar and her dog, a border collie named Gwylym. She's taking buses, trains and ferries. Any further erupting volcanoes in Iceland won't be able to stop her.

From London, she'll be making her way to Scotland and Ireland before heading to Sweden, Finland and Norway this month. In June, she's scheduled to be in Rotterdam, Warsaw and Paris. Many dates are already sold out, with tickets ranging from about $30 to $40, but she's encouraging other fans who want to see her to volunteer their homes so she can add more.

It's the latest innovation from the 54-year-old performer known for her relentless reinvention. She started out with quirky new-wave pop songs in the early 1980s, before branching out into jazz, classical, folk and gospel. She set up her own record label, Sheeba, in 1996. She gave away most of her possessions and moved into a cabin in Northern Ontario. She even changed her name briefly to Issa.

At Gillespie's concert, the do-it-yourself ethic was in evidence from the start. The songstress flicked on a light to brighten the room, tuned her guitar herself, and summoned backing tracks from her own iPod. Most of the audience perched on stools while a few others sat on chairs from the dining set. A lucky few slouched on the sofa. Two guys sat cross-legged on the floor at the front.

The set consisted mainly of songs from Siberry's most recent album, 2009's With What Shall I Keep Warm, and ranged from free-form jazz and ballads to punchy numbers strummed on her guitar to spoken word.

She upheld her reputation for improvising freely, breaking off in mid-song to deliver monologues about ordinary 9-to-5 workers, matchmaking, tai chi masters and other subjects. She brought the audience into her own mysterious, dream-like world with tales of a black dog named Magic.

During one monologue, she even explained to the audience why she stopped doing big tours. In an interview before the show, she had elaborated on that theme: “I would play at clubs and we'd go there and people wouldn't be prepared, or the dressing room would be filthy once again. So I'm standing there and these people have come from far, Detroit or whatever, and security guys are walking back and forth as if people are going to shoplift. It's so rude. Promoters are looking at the empty seats and waitresses are so bored, cash registers are going and it's against the force of music.”

Siberry came up with the idea for the tour after receiving e-mail requests from fans in out-of-the-way places. “I don't have a promoter that's interested in bringing me over, and I thought, 'Am I just never going to play there because someone's a gatekeeper, but people want me?’ So that moment I wrote an e-mail and said, 'If you miss me, invite me to your living room and find, say, 30 people at 30 dollars.’ ”

As she played, the sounds of the street filtered in through the open window. People walked past the house and whooped and cheered; a car alarm went off briefly. The noise added to what Siberry called the “magic” of the event. She sang about her mother, and about delinquent, unloved teenagers she observed while staying in an English village for a week.

Midway through When we are Queen, from 2008's Dragon Dreams, she abruptly stopped. “Next,” she said, as she clicked to another track on her iPod. By the end of her set, the crowd was transfixed; some were weeping. They applauded as she dashed off-stage, into the kitchen. Returning for an encore, she said, “If you want to hear a song, just shout it out.”

Someone immediately blurted out: “Everything Reminds me of my Dogs.” Someone else wanted her 1985 new-wave hit, One More Colour; one woman asked for Calling all Angels. Siberry obligingly played snippets of the first two and a full version of the third.

As she thanked the audience for coming, her thoughts turned to her journey home. “If anyone's driving up to Bethnal Green,” she said, “I didn't realize it was so far.”

For more information on tour details, visit www.janesiberry.com.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Measha Brueggergosman Returns To Thomson Hall Nov. 3

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(May 04, 2010) Toronto is getting a lot more Measha next season.

Ten days ago Opera Atelier announced that Canada’s star soprano and Winter Olympic Anthem belter,
Measha Brueggergosman, has been cast in a new production of Mozart’s opera la Clemenza di Tito, which premieres in April, 2011.

On Tuesday, Roy Thomson Hall revealed that the diva will kick off its four 2010-11 International Vocal Recitals, on Nov. 3. With the help of piano accompanist Justus Zeyen, Brueggergosman intends to sing music from her latest disc, Night and Dreams, a mix of art-song and cabaret favourites.

It will have been three years since Brueggergosman’s last solo recital at the hall, which was one of the most exciting concerts of 2007.

Organizers should have called the series International Soprano Recitals: Brueggergosman is followed by Korean star Sumi Jo on Jan. 28, 2011; young American Nicole Cabell, who had a spectacular Toronto début on the same stage last season, visits on Feb. 18, 2011; and Metropolitan Opera headliner, Romanian-born Angela Gheorghiu, makes her first concert visit to this city on April 7, 2011.

Also announced was the three-date Virtuoso Performances series. The first unites American star violinist Robert McDuffie with the Venice Baroque Orchestra in a Four Seasons-related program of music by Vivaldi and Philip Glass, on Oct. 26.

The biggest stars in this series, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and guest conductor Semyon Bychkov, arrive on March 9, 2011.

The third concert is being produced in association with CARAS to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards in 2011. Hosted by Toronto Symphony Orchestra music director Peter Oundjian, the evening will include performances by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Gryphon Trio, along with next year’s classical Juno nominees.

For more information, visit www.roythomson.com


Common Previews Upcoming CD The Believer

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 28, 2010) *
Common is reuniting with producer Kanye West for his upcoming album, tentatively titled “The Believer.” While promoting his new film “Just Wright” opposite Queen Latifah, the rapper described the project as “soulful hip hop.” “It’s ‘good’ music,” he told Billboard. “The themes are street music and elevation, things that I feel like I always embody when I rap. But here there’s new situations, new solutions.” In addition to West, the album will also feature production from No I.D., both of which have produced tracks on his previous albums “Be” and “Finding Forever,” “I’m striving to get it out in the fall,” he said, adding that fans can expect a single by late summer or early fall. In the meantime, Common and Latifah recorded a song for the “Just Wright” soundtrack entitled “The Next Time,” produced by Karriem Riggins, that will be featured over its closing credits.

Jordin Sparks Headed to Broadway’s In the Heights

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 4, 2010) *Singer
Jordin Sparks, the 2007 winner of “American Idol,” will make her Broadway debut this summer in the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights. Sparks, 20, will play Nina Rosario, the college student who returns (with a secret) to her Washington Heights neighbourhood for the summer. Her run will begin Aug. 19 and end on Nov. 14, according to Playbill. “It’s always been one of my dreams to perform on Broadway,” Sparks said in a statement. “This is a brand new experience for me. I look so forward to spending time in New York City and joining this talented cast and my favourite new musical.” In the Heights is a snapshot of the friends, lovers, families and hope in a changing Latino neighbourhood in northern Manhattan. Now in its third year at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street), the musical picked up four 2008 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Pepsi Refresh Project Asks 20 Canadian Musicians To Each Pick A Charity

Source: Karen Bliss, Samaritan Magazine

(April 13, 2010) The
Pepsi Refresh Project’s Canadian program is launching this weekend at the JUNO Award celebrations in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and will give 20 Canadian musicians $2,500 each for the Canadian charity or foundation of their choice. The grants will be given out on a first-come-first-serve basis.  For the full story, go HERE.

The Bryan Adams Foundation Is Doing Remarkable Work

Source: Karen Bliss, Samaritan Magazine

(April 29, 2010)
Bryan Adams was recently honoured with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the 2010 Juno Awards in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, which he was unable to accept in person when the Icelandic volcanic ash alert grounded flights all over Europe and the U.K. The Canadian rocker, who has sold more than 75 millions albums worldwide, has been giving back in a big way since the beginning of his career but is “a little embarrassed” to be receiving an award for his philanthropy. 
For the full story, go HERE.

Bret Michaels Released, On The Mend

Source: www.thestar.com - The Associated Press

(May 04, 2010) Poison frontman Bret Michaels has been released from a Phoenix hospital and is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a brain hemorrhage last month. The lead doctor treating Michaels said Tuesday that he recommends Michaels wait at least four to six weeks before resuming normal activity. Dr. Joseph Zabramski of the Barrow Neurological Institute wouldn't say when Michaels was released or whether he was sent home or to a rehabilitation facility. Zabramski says the 47-year-old contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice is receiving therapy and continues to suffer as blood pooled under his brain dissolves. Two tests showed that Michaels did not suffer an aneurism, so doctors are unsure what caused his hemorrhage.

MMVAs Get Beiber Fever And Katy Perry, Too

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(May 04, 2010) The high-pitched screaming coming from Queen St. E. June 20 may be enough to shatter windows — MuchMusic has announced Canadian heartthrob singer Justin Bieber and pop princess Katy Perry will join Miley Cyrus at the MuchMusic Video Awards. Bieber, the 16-year-old phenomenon from Stratford, Ont., drew huge crowds of hysterical fans on recent Australia and New Zealand tours. And Perry, whose first single “I Kissed A Girl” was a monster smash, is now kissing English comic/actor Russell Brand. She’s at work on her second album. Cyrus was announced earlier as the show’s co-host. The annual event, featuring a red carpet outside MuchMusic’s studios at 299 Queen St. E., draws plenty of pop glitterae and a huge crowd of shrieking fans. The show airs live at 9 p.m.


Mickey Rourke’s Long Road To Redemption

Source: www.thestar.com - Sandy Cohen

(May 03, 2010) LOS ANGELES-With the muscular physique of a lifelong athlete, a face battered by boxing and
repaired by Hollywood, Mickey Rourke looks almost as intimidating in person as he does in Iron Man 2, where he plays a villainous loner determined to destroy the hero with deadly electrically charged whips.

But when the 53-year-old actor walks into a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel to talk about the film, he brings a disarming secret weapon: The tiniest, cutest Pomeranian puppy. Rourke poses for photos with the fuzzy miniature, then the little dog he calls Mush contentedly curls up next to him.

Rourke’s famous love for small-breed dogs (he thanked his dogs when he won a Golden Globe for The Wrestler last year and dedicated his Spirit Award for that film to his late Chihuahua, Loki) hints at the inner sensitivity of the man who derailed a promising career in the 1980s with angry outbursts and arrests.

He spent years defeating his demons to make a critically acclaimed comeback in The Wrestler. Now he stands poised to recapture the Hollywood glory he enjoyed early in his acting career with his terrific turn as Whiplash in Iron Man 2.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen again,” Rourke says, shielding his eyes with sunglasses as if to maintain a shade of distance between himself and an otherwise candid interview. “I burned too many bridges and I did misbehave terribly and I’ve only got myself to blame.”

Not that the role was an easy sell — for Rourke or for Marvel Studios. Director Jon Favreau says he and Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. worked hard to persuade both.

“There was a lot of resistance to (Rourke),” Favreau says. “The studio was not inclined to hire him. It took a bit of a struggle and Robert was very helpful in that. And Robert was the guy who there was resistance in hiring last time around.”

Downey overcame his own troubled past, marred by drug addiction, to see his star-power restored with his role as Tony Stark in the first Iron Man film, a huge hit that brought in $318 million domestically.

Rourke’s agent insisted that doing Iron Man 2 would be a good move, but the actor still needed convincing.

“I didn’t want to play a one-dimensional villain,” he says. “I said I’d like him to have a sense of humour. I’d like him to have a particular look. I’d like to do it with the accent. I could see Favreau shaking his head, and I knew I was taking the chance that he could just say goodbye, thank you for coming in. But he embraced the ideas.”

Making those suggestions and seeing them realized on screen has renewed Rourke’s love of acting. It reminds him of his heroes, like Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, and the brave choices they made during their careers.

“Getting back to being interested enough to make those choices has made me like acting again,” he says. “I enjoy what I do now. I don’t disrespect it and I don’t hate it anymore.”

The truth is he always loved it. An amateur boxer in his teens, Rourke tried acting during a break from the ring and became an instant devotee, studying at the Actors Studio in New York.

“I’d work my construction job, or wherever I was working all day long, and then I’d go into the studio at midnight and work for three or four hours,” he says.

Before long, he was working with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola and earning critical praise for roles in Diner and Barfly. But the movie business isn’t like boxing, and Rourke’s temper often got the best of him.

“When I came to Hollywood, I realized it wasn’t all about acting,” he says. “This is where I went wrong ... With boxing, with sports, it’s black and white most of the time. There’s hometown decisions, but it’s not as grey as the acting, and that short-circuited me. Now I realize it is political ... and at the end of the day, it’s a business.”

Rourke says he had “authority problems” with Hollywood. He was difficult to work with. He’d mouth off to studio heads, policemen, anyone who crossed him. And he was self-righteous about it. Soon the work dried up.

“I had lost my house, my wife, my money, my career and my credibility,” he says. “When a decade went by and I didn’t work, I thought it was over.”

He was living in “a state of shame, as my doctor calls it,” knowing he had squandered the promise of his early work. He recalls stopping into a 7-Eleven on Sunset Boulevard for cigarettes late one night when a man behind him in line said, “Hey, aren’t you the guy who used to be in movies? What’s your name?”

“He mentioned like three wrong names,” Rourke says. “And I remember the whole way home I was so embarrassed. (I wished) there was a button to make me disappear.”

Instead, he went to therapy and learned to shed the childhood traumas that caused his temper to flare. He had all but given up on Hollywood when an agent from a top firm asked to meet with him. Then came roles in Domino, Sin City and The Wrestler and now Iron Man 2.

And there’s plenty of work ahead. Rourke just wrapped Passion Play with Megan Fox and is currently filming The Disciples with John Hurt and Freida Pinto. After that, he has a project with Tony Scott, a movie about the Hells Angels and Genghis Khan.

Plus, there’s still Wild Horses, the script Rourke’s been working on for 20 years and probably won’t wrap for another couple of years. He said he was looking to cast “a movie star” in the co-starring role because he couldn’t raise the capital on his name alone. But he doesn’t mind waiting because, “I’m only gonna get one shot to do it and I want to do it the right way. I want to do it my way.”

Actress Lynn Redgrave, star of Georgy Girl, dies at 67

Source: www.thestar.com - Hillel Italie

(May 03, 2010) NEW YORK—
Lynn Redgrave, an introspective and independent player in her family’s acting dynasty who became a 1960s sensation as the unconventional title character of Georgy Girl and later dramatized her troubled past in such one-woman stage performances as Shakespeare for My Father and Nightingale, died at her home in Kent, Conn., on Sunday night. She was 67.

“Our beloved mother Lynn Rachel passed away peacefully after a seven-year journey with breast cancer,” Redgrave’s children, Ben, Pema and Annabel, said in a statement Monday. “She lived, loved and worked harder than ever before. The endless memories she created as a mother, grandmother, writer, actor and friend will sustain us for the rest of our lives.”

Redgrave was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2002, had a mastectomy in January 2003 and underwent chemotherapy.

Her death comes a year after her niece Natasha Richardson died from head injuries sustained in a skiing accident and just a month after the death of her older brother, Corin Redgrave.

The youngest child of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, Lynn Redgrave never quite managed the acclaim — or notoriety — of elder sibling Vanessa Redgrave, but received Oscar nominations for Georgy Girl and Gods and Monsters, and Tony nominations for Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Shakespeare for My Father and The Constant Wife. In recent years, she also made appearances on TV in Ugly Betty, Law & Order and Desperate Housewives.

In theatre, the ruby-haired Redgrave often displayed a sunny, sweet and open personality, much like her
ebullient offstage personality. It worked well in such shows as Black Comedy — her Broadway debut in 1972 — and again two years later in My Fat Friend, a comedy about an overweight young woman who sheds pounds to find romance.

Redgrave’s play Nightingale at off-Broadway’s Manhattan Theatre Club in 2009 was the last time she appeared on stage in New York. Lights on Broadway marquees will be dimmed Tuesday.

“She was adored by audiences, and although she embarked on a medical treatment as previews began, she never missed a show and gave magnificent performances eight times a week,” said Lynne Meadow, artistic director of MTC.

“We admired her strength, her talent, her courage and her enormous good heart. There wasn’t a stage hand, a press rep, a box office person who didn’t worship Lynn. She was true theatre royalty.”

Tall and blue-eyed like her sister, she was as open about her personal life as Vanessa has been about politics. In plays and in interviews, Lynn Redgrave confided about her family, her marriage and her health. She acknowledged that she suffered from bulimia and served as a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. With daughter Annabel Clark, she released a 2004 book about her fight with cancer, Journal: A Mother and Daughter’s Recovery From Breast Cancer.

Redgrave was born in London in 1943 and despite self-doubts pursued the family trade. She studied at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, and was not yet 20 when she debuted professionally on stage in a London production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Like her siblings, she appeared in plays and in films, working under Noel Coward and Laurence Olivier as a member of the National Theatre and under director/brother-in-law Tony Richardson in the 1963 screen hit Tom Jones.

“Before I was born, my father was a movie star and a stage star,” the actress said in 1993. “I was raised in a household where we didn’t see our parents in the morning. We lived in the nursery. Our nanny made our breakfast, and I was dressed up to go downstairs to have tea with my parents, if they were there.”

True fame caught her with Georgy Girl, billed as “the wildest thing to hit the world since the miniskirt.” The 1966 film starred Redgrave as the plain, childlike Londoner pursued by her father’s middle-aged boss, played by James Mason.

Georgy Girl didn’t lead to lasting commercial success, but did anticipate a long-running theme: Redgrave’s weight. She weighed 180 pounds while making the film, leading New York Times critic Michael Stern to complain that Redgrave “cannot be quite as homely as she makes herself in this film.

“Slimmed down, cosseted in a couture salon, and given more of the brittle, sophisticated lines she tosses off with such abandon here, she could become a comedienne every bit as good as the late Kay Kendall,” he wrote.

Films such as The Happy Hooker and Every Little Crook and Nanny were remembered less than Redgrave’s decision to advocate for Weight Watchers. She even referenced Georgy Girl in one commercial, showing a clip and saying, “This was me when I made the movie, because this is the way I used to eat.”

At age 50, Redgrave was ready to tell her story in full. As she wrote in the foreword to Shakespeare for My Father, she was out of work and set off on a “journey that began almost as an act of desperation,” writing a play out of her “passionately emotional desire” to better understand her father, who had died in 1985.

“I didn’t really know him,” Redgrave said in 1993. “I lived in his house. I was in awe of him and I adored him, and I was terrified of him and I hated him and I loved him, all in one go.”

Redgrave credited the play, which interspersed readings from Shakespeare with family memories, with bringing her closer to her relatives and reviving her film career.

Scarlett Johansson In Leather Sharpens Iron

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(May 01, 2010) Never get romantically involved with a superhero. It can never end well — with one or two
notable exceptions — and even a casual flirtation can put your life in constant jeopardy, in desperate need of last-minute rescue.

The more common unconsummated sexual tension — so coyly, quintessentially evoked in
Iron Man by bad-boy charmer Tony Stark and his mother-hen minder, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts — can progress only so far before complications invariably ensue. In Iron Man 2, it’s the sudden arrival of lethal, leather-clad Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.

“To us,” allows co-star Robert Downey Jr., cryptically, “a love triangle is a device. And a love triangle is convenient. And a love triangle done poorly is better than no love triangle at all.”

“She’s a very seductive character,” Johansson confirms, “and certainly that can lead to, sort of . . . uncomfortable moments. There are some humorous situations, but not in the same way that Pepper Potts and Stark have their kind of banter between them. It’s a different kind of a thing.”

But the only on-set conflict, she insists, was in the scripted fight scenes. “It was a fun set,” Johansson giggles, “but probably the most fun part was kicking ass. And I did a lot of kicking ass.”

It’s rather new for Johansson; though at age 25 she already has nearly 30 Hollywood movies under her belt, including some big-budget creations like The Island, she has never really been called upon to be an action hero.

In preparation, the wife of Canada’s own Ryan Reynolds trained hard for six weeks in advance, and continued all through production. “I’ve never been so close to a stunt team as I was to this team. Every single day . . . I mean, I practically lived with them. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears. There are days that you wake up and you’re like, ‘I can’t do it, my body hurts so bad.’

“But I wanted to give it everything I had. I’d hate to be in a movie where you see a character and you don’t buy that they’re gonna beat the living shit out of you.

“And I have to say, believing that about yourself is almost as much work as what you put into looking like you are going to beat the shit out of somebody. “It was a challenge for me, but it was a lot of fun.”

Spike Lee to Lead ‘Art of Directing’ Class at ABFF

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May. 05, 2010) *
Spike Lee has joined the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in support of the Pro-Hollywood Initiative.   The Pro-Hollywood Initiative (PHI) is a pilot program created to encourage professional athletes to explore careers in the motion picture industry.  

The program’s main objectives are to stimulate athletes’ interest in the movie business, connecting them with talented filmmakers, educating them about the workings of the industry and promoting their involvement in the production of quality independent films.  

The inaugural program will be held during the 14th Annual American Black Film Festival June 23-26, 2010 in Miami, FL.

The PHI was inspired by the 2009 meeting between ABFF founder Jeff Friday and Baltimore Ravens All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs, who attended the festival for the first time that year after launching a film production company.

“I am proud to provide a platform for professional athletes to learn about the filmmaking process,” says festival founder Jeff Friday. “The dedication, focus and commitment to detail exhibited by most great athletes in their careers will suit them well in the film industry, regardless of whether their interest lies in front of or behind the camera. We hope to see more sports stars like Terrell engaged in the film arena as part of their off the field agendas.”


Dwayne Johnson Believes in Protection

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 30, 2010) *
Dwayne Johnson, currently starring in Fox’s “Tooth Fairy,” returns to his action thriller roots in the upcoming film “Protection.” The story, to be directed by Simon West, follows a Mexico City security operative who is forced to smuggle the daughter of a high-ranking judge across the border while being pursued by corrupt cops, drug lords and white collar U.S. criminal forces. The $35-million production is scheduled to start filming in New Mexico in the fall. In addition to “Tooth Fairy,” Johnson recently starred in “Race to Witch Mountain.” He will next appear in the Columbia comedy “The Other Guys” in August and the CBS Films actioner “Faster,” set for release in November.

::TV NEWS::\

Kim Cattrall: Broadway Bound, With A Toronto Layover

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(April 30, 2010)
Kim Cattrall is continuing to explore sex and the city, but next year, the city may be Toronto.

The Star has learned that the British-born, Canadian-raised actress has every intention of bringing her smash hit revival of Noel Coward’s battle of the sexes comedy,
Private Lives, to Toronto in 2011 en route to Broadway.

“Kim wants to go to Broadway and she wants to go to Toronto,” said producer Paul Elliott from his London home on Friday night. “We’re all doing everything we can to make it happen.”

The 53-year-old Cattrall is riding high at the moment, with rave reviews for her London appearance in Private Lives, great acclaim for her work in Roman Polanski’s movie thriller The Ghost Writer, and a second big-screen version of Sex and the City (where she created the role of the erotically insatiable Samantha) is set to open on May 27.

Her co-star in the Coward play, Matthew Macfadyen, was equally acclaimed and the fact that he is 20 years younger than Cattrall supposedly added a layer of sensual novelty to the production.

Elliott would partner on the Toronto presentation, as he done 47 times previously since 1972 with Mirvish Productions, whom he calls “the nicest people in show business to deal with.”

Coward’s play was written in Shanghai in 1930 during a four-day convalescence from the flu. It deals with divorced-but-still-in-love Amanda and Elyot who happen to book adjoining rooms on the French Riviera when they’re each on honeymoon with their respective spouses.

It’s been one of the most durable hits of modern times and everyone from Maggie Smith to Elizabeth Taylor has played the wilful Amanda, while Brian Bedford, Alan Rickman and numerous other gentlemen have tackled the uxorious Elyot.

The London production has been playing to 100 percent capacity since it opened on Feb. 24 and is only closing on May 1 because of other commitments from the stars.

“It’s been a love fest all around,” says Elliott. “To be honest, we all can’t wait to work together again. Nothing would make us happier than to be part of the 2011 Mirvish season before heading to Broadway.”

Newman Leaving Global National

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Sarah Boesveld

(April 30, 2010) After nearly 10 years as its anchor,
Global National’s Kevin Newman has announced he’s leaving the program in August.

Global staff learned about his resignation in an e-mail distributed Friday, a note that suggests he’d been mulling the move for a long time.

“Several months ago, after considerable reflection, I informed Global management of my desire for rest and creative renewal,” he wrote. “After a period of productive discussion, we have agreed I will be stepping down as Anchor and Executive Editor of Global National at the end of my current contract in August.”

The veteran broadcast journalist said he wanted his successor to come into the job when the show was in a position of strength. Global National just capped one of its most successful seasons, he said, adding that he wanted to give the network time to find “a suitable replacement.”

The 50-year-old was born in Toronto and was an anchor and correspondent for ABC Newsand had worked on Good Morning America before returning to Canada to join Global National as an anchor and executive editor in 2001.

He has won numerous accolades for his journalism, including two Gemini Awards in 2005 and 2006 for best news anchor.

Mr. Newman said in the e-mail there were no other broadcasting jobs on the horizon for him and that he plans to work on numerous documentaries for Global until his contract expires Aug. 20.

With a report from The Canadian Press

Teddy P, Tammi Terrell, George Clinton Next for Unsung

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 4, 2010) *
TV One is in development on eight more episodes of its widely acclaimed bio series “Unsung,” as well as two new reality shows featuring TV villainess Omarosa, and R&B duo K-Ci and Jojo.

Teddy Pendergrass, Tammi Terrell and George Clinton are among the new artists to be highlighted next fall in “Unsung,” a series of one-hour biography specials celebrating the lives and careers of successful music acts who, despite great talent, have been under-recognized or under-appreciated over the years.

Premiering in June is “Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger,” which reunites the real estate mogul with Omarosa from the first season of his NBC reality series “The Apprentice.” 

In this Trump-produced show, Omarosa will put a cadre of 12 hot, successful bachelors through a gauntlet of tests designed to play upon their weaknesses, test their business acumen, measure their seductive strengths, and draw out their true intentions.  But these guys will fight back, and Omarosa may just meet her match…and her mate.  

“Ki-Ci and Jojo. . .Come Clean,” due this fall, is a half hour reality series that will show the Hailey brothers battling their way back from substance abuse.  The siblings “agree to begin a journey of redemption that will require them to face all their demons and sources of the anxiety that have pushed them to self-medicate, including their relationship with each other, and their former partners in the group Jodeci,” notes TV One.   

TV One has also ordered a second season of its “Life After” series, which follows the real, behind-the-scenes story of how some of America’s favourite celebrities have dealt with major turning points in their lives. Coming in July are all-new episodes featuring Malcolm Jamal Warner from “The Cosby Show,” NBA star Ron Artest, comedian Mark Curry, video vixen Karrine Steffans, former R&B star Vanity, actress Elise Neal from “All of Us” and “Hustle and Flow,” “American Idol” Season 2 champion Ruben Studdard and actress Janet Hubert, the first actress to play Will Smith’s aunt on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” 

TV One broke its top-rated original program record four times in the past eight months, first with TV One Night Only: Live From the Essence Music Festival in August, then with an episode of “Life After” in September, followed by an episode of “Unsung” in November, and most recently, with the premiere of “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy” in April, which posted a 1.2 rating with one of its two back-to-back premiere episodes, and a 1.0 rating with the other. The series continues to be the network’s top-rated series.

Justified Hits Bull’s-Eye

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Stephen Cole

(May 2, 2010) Six of the first seven top-rated 1958 TV shows were westerns,
Elmore Leonard is told. The top three being Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Have Gun Will Travel. Justified, a critically acclaimed new series based on Leonard’s work, developed by Canadian producer, Graham Yost, is the only western on the tube today. What happened? Why did the western go west?

“People got tired of them,” the 84-year-old author says over the phone. Leonard certainly did. “There were 32 westerns on the air back then and I didn’t like any of them. Every one ended with a gunfight; two guys out on the street. I did 32 western stories and eight novels and none ended that way.”

Bang-bang! With that the Dickens of Detroit, a pulp-fiction mill for more than 50 years, shoots down the TV western tradition. And the Get Shorty author still has a bullet left for crime fiction. “I tried that book by the Swedish fellow – [Stieg Larsson’s] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Kept waiting for something to happen.”

The trick to storytelling, Leonard believes, “is leaving out the parts readers skip.” That’s something
Justified, which airs in Canada on Super Channel Monday nights, manages with economy and wit, he says. The story of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a Stetson-wearing lawman who returns to Harlan County to deal with a messy past, manages to pass Leonard’s creative checklist.

“Last night’s show was terrific,” the writer says. “Action all the way, good story, suspense .... The funny stuff was funny.”

Funny stuff in a recent episode has Marshal Givens (Timothy Olyphant), hero of Leonard’s novels Pronto and Riding the Rap, teasing an acquaintance with the joke, “Know why Pentecostals don’t like sex standing up? Could lead to dancing.” There’s a reason Justified feels like a sexy Elmore Leonard road trip to the south. Producer Yost captures the overheated torpor of the region with overexposed photography and a sweaty down-home soundtrack that gives off the kerosene reek of moonshine. TV hasn’t been this studiously groomed since Michael Mann: The series could be called Kentucky Vice. Leonard’s deadpan comic delivery was also achieved in a purposeful manner.

“I got a whole bunch of his paperbacks and handed them out to writers,” Toronto-born Yost says. “We wanted everyone to get the rhythm and feel of Elmore Leonard.”

Yost literally handcuffed writers to Leonard by having inspirational bracelets made up that read WWED – “What would Elmore do?”

“I gave ’em to my kids and grandkids,” Leonard laughs, adding that whatever Yost did, his actors captured Leonard’s sound.

“There are not many actors who deliver the words the way I wrote them,” he says. “George Clooney, he was good [in Out of Sight]. The Tarantino people [from Jackie Brown] were faithful. My favourite guy though is still Richard Boone, from two of my early pictures [Hombre and The Tall T].”

Yost wears another WWED bracelet. Except the E is different. “What would Elwy do?” Graham Yost says. “I wear that bracelet symbolically wherever I go.” His father is Elwy Yost, retired host of Canadian movie shows, including Passport to Adventure (CBC, 1965-67) and TVOntario’s Saturday Night at the Movies (1974-99). Yost has been throwing secret tributes his father’s way for years. McMurran, the air-force base mentioned in the Yost’s 1996 film, Broken Arrow, is actually Elwy Yost’s middle name.

“I grew up talking about movies with my father and brother,” Graham Yost says. “What made movies work – what scenes we liked.”

One of Elwy Yost’s Saturday Night movies provided the title for Graham Yost’s new series. “Originally we were going to call it Lawman,” Yost says. “Finally, someone came up with Justified. That word comes up in the first episode, but it also shows up in my favourite western, Ride the High Country, where Joel McRae says, ‘A man wants to walk into his father’s house, justified.’

Leonard likes the series so much he’s now thinking up another Marshal Raylan Givens novel. Right now, however, he’s just working as an executive producer and helping out with publicity on Justified.

Fans shouldn’t be surprised that Leonard is busying himself with promotion work. He’s always seen publicity as part of the job. Besides, the author of more than 50 novels and screenplays often finds inspiration for his work while out hustling his wares. In fact, that’s where he came up with the name Raylan Givens.

“I remember I was doing a bookseller’s luncheon,” Leonard says. “And the man introducing me was named Raylan. Soon as I heard it, I thought, Raylan, man, that’s a great name. I’ve got to find a story for him.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

Ty Pennington's Coming To Canada, Casting For New Home Design Series

Source: www.thestar.com - Jennifer Wilson-Speedy, Yourhome.ca Editor

(April 30, 2010) Fans of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition had best be sitting down for this news:
Ty Pennington is coming to Canada.

Pennington and Canadian lifestyle expert Janette Ewen, are currently casting in the GTA for a new series called
Inside the Box.

They’re looking for “wannabe designers” who are ready to prove their skills by facing off against another recreational decorator.

“I’m so beyond excited,” says Ewen. “I think it’s going to be a hoot.”

To up the challenge factor for the show, which started filming this week, Pennington will create the initial design concept and then give each designer a box of supplies they will need to incorporate into the space.

As for what’s actually inside that box, Ewen won’t divulge more than “it’s going to be completely random. We’re having a lot of fun with it.” She says items could include fun finds or items from nature — “anything to get the creative juices flowing.”

“We really want to push people’s imaginations. It’s not your typical design show,” she says, adding that despite the show’s name, “We want them to think outside the box.”

She says the show’s concept builds on Pennington’s skill at “making something out of nothing” and really personalizing spaces for the residents.

Ewen is also known for her offbeat style, as recently showcased in the National Home Show Dream Home.

“I always just had fun with decorating, always believed people could be their own decorators and stylists,” she says. “I don’t like being too serious.”

For armchair decorators hoping to be on the show, in addition to a healthy dose of creativity, Ewen suggests seeking influence and inspiration from sources other then decor magazines, such as pulling a colour palette from a beautiful plate, choosing drapery that mimics an outfit you love or colour combinations found in nature.

“There’s so many great influences around us other than just copying other people’s rooms,” she says. “Your own home should be a reflection of your life.”

She also suggests decorators take a page from magazine styling and “fiddle with stuff until it works.”

“Homeowners will pick one thing and expect it to be perfect,” she says, but what needs to happen is a willingness to play with items, size and balance. “When it looks right, it will feel right. It will click.”

She also stresses the importance of trying new things, taking risks and practicing. Instead of taking on frequent and pricey redecorations, she suggests creating mood boards, either online or on poster board with retailer samples and swatches to test drive different looks and combinations.

Ewen — who decorated her first apartment on a $300 budget — says it’s more important to spend money on travel and inspiration than on decor pieces. If you “fill your imagination databank, you can seriously make so much out of nothing.”

To apply for the show, email insidetheboxwithty@gmail.com with an explanation of “why your design skills are second to none,” a picture of yourself and photos of three rooms in your home.

Three Late-Night Hosts Walk Into A Room

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(May 2, 2010) What do TV’s three most talked-about talk-show hosts do with their time off? They talk. . . mostly
about each other.

David Letterman got up early Friday morning for a rare appearance (his third) with pal Regis Philbin on Live With Regis and Kelly. Saturday night, Jay Leno flew to Washington to host the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. Sunday night, Conan O’Brien broke his contracted silence in an interview with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes.

CBS technically jumped the gun on the gag order by uploading excerpts of the 60 Minutes interview onto the Internet Thursday. O’Brien, taking time out from his 30-city Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television live concert tour (arriving in Toronto May 22), had an agreement with NBC to keep mum until May 1.

NBC is not expected to pursue any further action.

O’Brien cited an increasingly “toxic” relationship with his former network as his main motivation for quitting The Tonight Show in January.

“I don’t regret anything,” he said, “not one decision I made.”

“I sleep well at night,” he added later — subtly suggesting that competitor Leno perhaps shouldn’t.

“He went and took that show back, and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know . . . I know me, I wouldn’t have done that,” he told Kroft.

“But that’s me, you know? Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things.”

O’Brien also responded, almost exactly as had a jovial Letterman Friday morning, to Leno’s repeated insistence that both of them “got screwed.”

“Wait a minute,” Letterman had said, addressing Leno in absentia. “ ‘How did you both get screwed? He got cancelled; you got the show.’

“I found the whole thing wildly entertaining.”

Considerably less entertaining was Leno’s monologue Saturday night at the White House, broadcast by CSPAN and also available on the Web.

To put it kindly, he bombed. “Tough room,” he shrugged, only to be greeted by more awkward silence and the distant sound of crickets.

President Barack Obama, however, got in a few good laughs at Leno’s expense, referring to the humbled host as “the only person whose ratings are lower than mine.”

Leno meekly concluded by describing the disastrous appearance as “the greatest job that I’ve ever had.”

Al Jazeera English On The Air In Canada

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb

(May 04, 2010) Al Jazeera English is on the air.

As of earlier Tuesday, the network — based in Doha, Qatar and part of the larger Al Jazeera Arabic network —
began broadcasting on Rogers Cable, Quebec cable giant Vidéotron and satellite giant Bell Canada Enterprises after signing distribution deals recently with three of the country’s largest media companies.

“We’re absolutely excited by it. It’s taken a long time but that’s outside of our control. Our goal is as quickly as possible to get it available in every corner of this country and that’s not the case yet. We’ve got other companies that we’ve got to conclude deals with,” said Al Jazeera English managing director Tony Burman, a former senior executive at CBC News.

Vidéotron, Quebec’s dominant cable provider, is offering the service free for three months as part of its news package, Burman noted, adding he hopes other players in the market will follow suit or offer similar incentives.

Al Jazeera English received regulatory approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in November. The network, which is almost four years old, initially met opposition from Canadian Jewish organizations because of concerns it would broadcast anti-Semitic content, claims that continue to dog the Arabic-language network.

But groups like the Canadian Jewish Congress gave their support for the English-language version to be broadcast in Canada after Al Jazeera executives agreed to set up a consultation process that would allow them to air concerns.

“All of the negative stereotypes that have been attached to Al Jazeera (English), they fade away when people look at the channel and realize it’s a channel that’s been on the air for almost four years and it’s award-winning,” Burman said.

The network plans to open a Canadian bureau office in Toronto next month and Burman said he hopes the move on the part of Canadian broadcasters gives a nudge to their U.S. counterparts. The English-language network is only available in the Washington, D.C. area at the moment.

Burman said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Doha recently with network executives and expressed her support.

The sudden availability of the English-language Al Jazeera network on its own schedule Tuesday took some Rogers sales bookers by surprise. After informing a Star reporter that the network didn’t exist and that channel 176 was not listed in the cable company’s line-up, a Rogers phone representative facilitated a hook-up after about 20 minutes.

The window Al Jazeera’s 4 p.m. news report opened was unlike anything North American viewers have seen before. The first impression was of immediacy and global inclusiveness, with headlines encompassing the arrest of the Times Square bombing suspect, the spread of the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico coastline, a teaser for an upcoming one-one-one interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and renewed concerns over airport closures in Ireland and Scotland caused by the erupting volcano in Ireland.

In the next 20 minutes, reports on these topics were filed to Al Jazeera’s English-language studios in London from its own correspondents in New York, Louisiana, Pakistan and Ireland. They were accompanied by graphic, up-to-the-minute news footage and sidebars, including interviews with shrimpers in Louisiana suddenly prevented by government edict from pursuing their livelihood.

The 24-hour news channel is available in more than 100 countries around the globe and reaches an audience estimated at almost 200 million households.

With files from Greg Quill.


Louis-Dreyfus To Get Hollywood Star

Source: www.thestar.com - The Associated Press

Julia Louis-Dreyfus will receive a star Tuesday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The actress is the first Seinfeld cast member to receive the honour.  The star unveiling is set for eight days before the fifth season finale of Louis-Dreyfus' CBS comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine.  Louis-Dreyfus was born Jan. 13, 1961, in New York City. She dropped out of Northwestern University in 1982 when she became a cast member of Saturday Night Live.  She spent three seasons on SNL before co-starring in the NBC comedy Day by Day.  Louis-Dreyfus has won two Emmys, one for The New Adventures of Old Christine and one for her portrayal of Elaine Benes on NBC's Seinfeld, which aired from 1990 to 1998.


George Gershwin’s Musical Soul Rooted In Klezmer

Source: www.thestar.com - Robert Crew

The Soul of Gershwin
(out of 4)
By Joseph Vass. Directed by Peter Moore. Until May 9 at the Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St. 416-872-5555.

(May 03, 2010) If ever a show was all about the music, it’s The Soul of Gershwin, now at the Winter Garden

Subtitled “The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer,” the show gives us a perfunctory biographical outline of one of the greatest Jewish American composers — his early start as a song plugger for Tin Pan Alley, his transition to song writer and then composer of American musicals, opera (Porgy and Bess) and classical music.

But the focus here is on Gershwin’s music with its roots in klezmer, with its unmistakable jagged rhythms and sweeping, heart-on-a-sleeve melodies.

With Gershwin himself (a bluff, cigar-toting Michael Paul Levin) anchoring proceedings on stage, the show spotlights some of the great Gershwin songs —“The Man I Love,” “Someone to Watch over me,” “ ‘S Wonderful” and, of course, “I got Rhythm.”

The Soul of Gershwin also draws interesting parallels (without pushing things very far) between klezmer and jazz/blues, with its similar penchant for syncopation and improvisation.

The excellent, strong-voiced Robert Marinoff, who has strong on-stage charisma, handles much of klezmer/cantor duties while Prudence Johnson sings some of the Gershwin standards with emotion-packed phrasing and sensitivity. Less satisfying were Bruce Henry’s occasionally eccentric interpretations but the spirited Klezmerica band were frequently the life and soul of the party.

Production values are not high: the set consists of a couple of raised areas with a leather arm chair and table for “Gershwin” positioned stage left. There’s a standard-issue city skyline (plus cheesy moon after the intermission.) The lighting is crude and on a couple of occasions unreliable, and the costumes are dull.

But it really is all about the music. And, for the most part, yes, S’ wonderful. 

Maria Stuarda: Divas Present A Regal Offering

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

Maria Stuarda
**** (out of 4)
By Gaetano Donizetti. Canadian Opera Company. Directed by Stephen Lawless. Antony Walker, conductor. To May 30. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 175 Queen St. W. 416-363-8231 (www.coc.ca)

(May 03, 2010) The Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s 1834 opera
Maria Stuarda is sensational – one of those lucky events where singing, orchestra, direction and design work together toward a moving, uplifting experience.

Just don’t expect to get a history lesson in the process.

This opera is based on Mary Stuart, a play by Friedrich Schiller from 1800. Elizabeth I is the villain, while her cousin, the former Queen of Scots, becomes a martyr to jealousy. A fictional encounter between the two 16th century royals is rich dramatic grist for bel canto opera master Donizetti (1797-1848).

The three-act opera could be called “Clash of the Queens,” especially when director Stephen Lawless plays up a pivotal face-to-face in Act II. The stage lights abruptly dim, replaced by a lurid spotlight as the two foes circle each other, as if at a boxing match.

Self-conscious theatricality runs throughout this production, originated by Dallas Opera. Benoit Dugardyn’s set is an Elizabethan theatre, as seen from backstage. The action is largely set on a raised, raked platform in the centre, while the chorus -- everyone in designer Ingeborg Bemerth’s period dress -- observes and comments from the galleries as the drama unfolds.

It’s hard to imagine a better soprano confrontation than between Italian Serena Farnoccia as Mary and Bulgarian Alexandrina Pendatchanska as Elizabeth. At Saturday’s opening performance, both proved themselves to be excellent actors and remarkable singers.

Farnoccia was nothing short of spectacular as her large voice coiled itself around dramatic nuance while hopping and skipping through the bel canto pyrotechnics. Pendatchanska’s duskier sound was an apt mirror of the English queen’s unkind intentions.

The two divas’ biggest accomplishment is to align the stage drama and florid arias so neatly that we forget how hard they have to work to get there.

The rest of the cast was up to the same standard. The only significant male role, Robert, Earl of Leicester, was ringingly filled by American tenor Eric Cutler, who has the unenviable task of being prisoner of the set’s treacherous-looking steps.

Another star of this seamless show was Australian conductor Antony Walker, who gave Donizetti’s score an easy pacing and graceful contours, with the ever-reliable help of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.

The magnetic power of opera comes from great music, searing drama and purposeful direction. All are present and accounted for. Prepare to be dazzled.

CBC Radio 2 is recording Maria Stuarda for future broadcast on Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

Washington, Zeta-Jones Up For Tony Awards

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Kuchwara

(May 04, 2010) NEW YORK—Star wattage will burn bright at the 2010 Tony Awards with Denzel Washington, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kelsey Grammer among those receiving nominations Tuesday.

Washington and Law were each cited for best actor performances in Fences and Hamlet, respectively. Zeta-Jones was nominated for best performance by a leading actress in a musical, A Little Night Music, and Grammer was nominated for lead actor in a musical, La Cage aux Folles.

Fela! — nominated for best musical — and La Cage aux Folles — nominated for the best musical revival — each received 11 nominations, followed by Fences with 10 nods.

Nominated for best play were In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) by Sarah Ruhl; Next Fall, by Geoffrey Nauffts; Red, by John Logan; and Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies.

Best musical nominations went to Green Day’s American Idiot; Memphis; Million Dollar Quartet; and Fela!

Besides Washington and Law, the actor-play nominees include Alfred Molina, Red; Liev Schreiber, A View From the Bridge; and Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane.

In the actress-play category, the nominees were Viola Davis, Fences; Valerie Harper, Looped; Linda Lavin, Collected Stories; Laura Linney, Time Stands Still; and Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family.

Winners will be announced June 13 during a ceremony televised by CBS from Radio City Music Hall.

For a complete list of nominees, see the Tony Awards website.


The Walrus dominates National Magazine Award nominations

Source: www.globeandmail.com - James Adams

(May 04, 2010) The Walrus has scored the most nominations for Canada’s 2009-2010 National Magazine Awards.

The Toronto-based current-affairs monthly has pretty much dominated the NMAs since its inception in the fall of 2003 and is doing so again this year, earning a total of 33 nominations, including 23 in various writing categories. Its nearest rival is Maclean’s, the Toronto-based news weekly, which received a total of 27 nods, including 22 in writing categories. Toronto Life, a monthly, is in third place, with a total of 26 nominations, 19 of them for written work.

The nominations were announced Tuesday in Montreal by the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Once again, Report on Business magazine, published by The Globe and Mail, dominates the business category with 22 nominations, more than twice its nearest competitor, Canadian Business, which has nine nods. That total puts the monthly in fourth place over all. ROB magazine is also up for magazine-of-the-year honours, along with Montreal’s quirky bimonthly Maisonneuve and the Yellowknife-based Up Here, which publishes eight times annually and marked its 25th anniversary in 2009. ROB magazine was last named magazine of the year in 1987.

The winners of gold and silver and honourable mentions will be named on June 4 in Toronto. Gold awards carry a cash prize of $1,000 and silver, $500. This year, the NMAs’ 33rd, 84 different publications are vying for awards in a record 47 categories, including written, integrated, visual and special. For the first time, the NMAs will honour digital magazines with seven online awards, including website of the year, best Web-only content, best cross-platform package and best visual design. Other new or renamed categories include best new visual creator, best new magazine writer and best single service article package.

Nominated for website of the year are Canadian Living Magazine, Dogs in Canada and the online-only Torontoist.com, the last a Globe and Mail partner.

Rounding out the top 10 publications, in descending order of nominations, are the francophone weekly L’actualité (in fifth place with 21), the outdoors magazine explore (19), Swerve, a weekly published by the Calgary Herald (13), Air Canada’s in-flight magazine enRoute (11), Maissoneuve (10), Canadian Business and Cottage Life (tied with nine each). Chatelaine, which last year tied Cottage Life for fifth place over all with 11 nominations, scored four nominations this year.

Leading individual writers are Calgary’s Chris Turner and Torontonian Chris Nuttall-Smith, with a total of five nominations each. Two articles by Turner in The Walrus were nominated in a total of four categories; the fifth nomination was for an arts-and-entertainment piece in AlbertaViews. Nuttall-Smith’s nominations came courtesy of Toronto Life (one article short-listed in two categories), ROB magazine (one), The Walrus (one) and enRoute (one). The Globe and Mail’s national editor, Sinclair Stewart, has been short-listed in three categories: two nominations for one article in ROB magazine and one for a Toronto Life feature.

Receiving the 2009-2010 NMA Foundation award for outstanding achievement is Toronto’s Terry Sellwood, chairman of Magazines Canada and general manager of Quarto Communications, the publisher of explore, Cottage Life and other magazines.

A complete list of nominees can be found at www.magazine-awards.com.

Matterhorn: The Things They Carried

Source: www.thestar.com - Geoff Pevere

(May 01, 2010) In Vietnam, the mostly 19- and 20-year-old boys of Bravo Company depicted in Karl Marlantes’
Matterhorn dream of home. When those who survive do make it home, they will dream of the war, and so will the country that sent them there.

The war will stick in the collective memory like psychic cancer, recurring in eruptions that sometimes subside but never fully retreat. The resemblances to the war itself — brutal, baffling, pointless — are obvious and irresistible, and account for the conflict’s single most persistent cultural cliché: the Vietnam flashback.

Already, the story behind Matterhorn’s writing has become something approaching fast-tracked legend. The author, now 65, is a much-decorated Marine veteran of the war who spent 30 years trying to get the novel written and published, presumably fuelled by the kind of driven single-mindedness that has as much to do with personal exorcism as it does artistic single-mindedness. Reading the book, you can’t help but feel it’s something the author needed to get out for his entire life. Matterhorn has some of the most vividly evoked grunt-level experiences as exist in the already-formidable Vietnam canon. In the opening 20 pages, a kid is “medevaced” out of the jungle with a leech embedded in his penis.

The narrative opens with the arrival in Bravo Company of Marine Lieutenant Waino Mellas, a 21-year-old virgin who enlisted himself into “the Shit” much to the repulsed horror of his anti-war girlfriend. Mellas himself isn’t really sure why he’s there — or anywhere, really, and that’s what makes him such a compelling and complex character. He enters the book without any code of honour or purpose, apart from a vague longing for self-confirming adventure. He emerges with only an acceptance that there’s no meaning in hell but hell itself. Or, as the Marines are so fond of fatalistically intoning, “There it is.”

What’s there — in your face, up your nose and crawling around in your fatigues — is described with unprecedented immediacy and force. I can think of no other Vietnam novel that gets the drudgery, terror and sheer discomfort of being “in country” quite so evocatively. The setting is a hill close to the Laotian border, the Matterhorn of the title, which Mellas and Bravo have been ordered to entrench only days before being ordered to abandon it — only then, some few hundred pages and dozen or so lives later, to re-take it all over again.

One of these boys is a Canadian enlistee named Vancouver. Here he’s digging: “He paused occasionally to wipe his hands on his trousers, not even thinking that he had to sleep in them. Everything soon had the same greasy consistency anyway, mixing in with the urine that he couldn’t quite cut off because he was so cold, the semen from his last wet dream, the cocoa he’d spilled the day before, the snot he rubbed off, the pus from his skin ulcers, the blood from the popped leeches, and the tears he wiped away so nobody would see that he was homesick.”

In keeping with certain inescapably recurrent elements of the bigger Vietnam story — at least the literary and pop cultural versions — Matterhorn is a tale of calculated bureaucratic short-sightedness, of how groups of young men are callously hammered to pulp on the altar of political expediency and vainglorious, remotely controlling military ambition.

The soldiers, while as generously equipped with flaws, fears and prejudices (especially racial) as they are ammo and C-rations, are ultimately innocents sent to the slaughter by guys like Major Blakely, who smokes cigars, drinks cognac and ponders the amount of blood it takes to stain his record: “Blakely knew the value of image. It wouldn’t hurt at all if they got shelled every so often. He had to have real combat on his record, the kind with Purple Hearts and medals. It was the best route, maybe the only route, to the top.”

What ultimately happens in Matterhorn is less impressive or devastating than how it happens, and this is testimony to both the strength and weakness of a novel that is massively ambitious but only fitfully great. Absurdity rules and irony reigns. In the beginning, Mellas and Bravo are ordered to fortify then abandon Matterhorn, only to be ordered to re-take it once the NVA have dug into the freshly bolstered fortress. This is crazy, but crazy — as the likes of Michael Herr, Tim O’Brien and Gustav Hasford have already famously explored — is what Vietnam was hard-wired to produce. On this Marlantes doesn’t have much to add.

Nor is he on terribly secure footing when he marches into the swamp of race relations. Although the book is both franker and braver than many in its insistence that race was as divisive an issue on the field as it was at home, Marlantes ultimately often slips into a kind of sentimental all-are-one-under-fire romanticism. Typical is the scene, which feels airlifted from a Sidney Poitier movie, where Mellas asks one of the more militantly-minded black grunts to teach him the perplexing intricacies of a soul shake.

It is not surprising that the book ultimately runs aground on the same issue that perplexed and conquered tacklers of the war ranging from Richard Nixon to Francis Coppola, which was how to end the damned thing? If there’s a reason why Vietnam has haunted so forcefully and so pervasively, it’s the way it confounds any attempts to wrap it up.

Toronto Star books columnist Geoff Pevere appears weekly.


Twitter Feed Hints At DJ Hero 2

Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman

(April 30, 2010) A pair of tweets from rapper/actor RZA — a.k.a. Robert Fitzgerald Diggs — suggest Activision is
working on DJ Hero 2, a sequel to last year’s rhythm game that shipped with a turntable peripheral.

According to the first of two related Twitter posts (twitter.com/RZAWU), the Wu-Tang Clan member types “Just finished mocap work at Activision — great team of guys who really appreciate hip-hop.”

Mo-cap, or motion capture, is when an individual is suited up with special body sensors, while cameras import their fluid movements into a computer. The end result is virtual characters in a video game that move realistically.

Three minutes later, RZA tweets the following: “I’m delighted to see that some people in Corp America who are benefittin $$ from hip-hop are really fans of our work. Big ups Activision!”

Activision released a statement saying that it has not officially announced the sequel to DJ Hero and cannot “comment on rumour or speculation regarding proposed talent involved with the franchise.” But if RZA is referring to DJ Hero 2, perhaps it’s no surprise the Santa Monica-based publisher is cranking out a sequel so soon. According to Activision, DJ Hero was the highest-grossing new property in North America and Europe last year.

In other music news . . .

Fans of Linkin Park who own an iPhone or iPod touch now have a new way to appreciate their favourite band.

Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion! (linkinpark.com; $4.99) is an old-school side-scroller featuring original and 8-bit remixes of Linkin Park’s biggest hits — including In the End, New Divide, One Step Closer, No More Sorrow, Crawling and Hands Held High, to name a few — and an unlockable new song, Blackbirds, after the game is completed.

According to game developer, Artificial Life, Inc., this is the first time an artist has released a new song through a mobile game app.

In Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion!, players take on the personas of all Linkin Park band members—vocalists Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington, drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson, DJ Joe Hahn and bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell — as they fight to protect their idyllic 8-bit world against the evil PixxelKorp, whose malevolent agents have stolen the band’s music.

While combating enemies (and bosses) in each of the six unique districts, themed after a different band member, you’ll also find and collect all the stolen tracks.

The band was also “instrumental” in providing hand-drawn artwork in the game, character designs and fleshing out mission objectives. “The collaborative process with Artificial Life was exceptional,” says Linkin Park vocalist Shinoda, in a company statement. “My bandmates and I grew up playing games like Metroid, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Space Invaders, Mega Man and Rygar. We wanted this game to have the feel of a vintage game, and a big part of it was the music.”

Available now at the Apple App Store (part of iTunes), Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion! is both an online and offline game. If players have a wireless Internet connection, they can pair up with other players to exchange in-game gifts, chat via IM, post messages to boards and battle for top spot on the global leaderboard. Gamers can also create and customize avatars, with hundreds of combinations, and also decorate the character’s virtual apartment from scratch.


Giselle: Radically, Ribaldly Revised

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb

Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre: Giselle
(out of 4)
Directed by Michael Keegan-Dolan. Until May 8 at the Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000 or www.harbourfrontcentre.com

(May 05, 2010) Ballet fans tempted to Harbourfront Centre this week by a production bearing the iconic title
Giselle are in for a rude although not necessarily disagreeable shock.

Dublin’s 13-year-old Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre rips the tulle and toe shoes and most everything else from the revered Romantic ballet classic in a radical, ribald, foul-mouthed revision that is deeply disturbing yet ultimately touching.

Company founder Michael Keegan-Dolan’s 2003 Giselle is set in a contemporary dystopia, a fictional Irish village called Ballyfeeny. Its licentious inhabitants read like a catalogue of social and personal dysfunction, whether it’s the nymphomaniacal Nurse Mary (Mikel Murfi) or knife-wielding, jingle-quoting Pat Dunne (Neil Paris).

While almost entirely abandoning Adolphe Adam’s original 1841 music in favour of a generally spare score by Philip Feenet, Keegan-Dolan retains some of Théophile Gautier’s story, twisting and spicing it to include speech and song as narrative tools.

In the original, the title heroine is a sweet-natured, country lass with a dotingly protective mother, a passion for dance and a dangerously susceptible heart. She spurns the attentions of a worthy admirer, Hilarion, in favour of a beguiling newcomer who turns out to be a philandering local aristocrat. Betrayed and rejected, Giselle dies of a broken heart but returns as a ghostly “willi” in the ballet’s second act to forgive the now remorseful Count Albrecht.

In Keegan-Dolan’s telling, the ballet-mad mother of Giselle McCreedy (an excellent Daphne Strothmann) has committed suicide. Her father (Bill Lengfelder) has retreated to the top of a hydro pole, leaving his now dumbstruck and asthmatic daughter to the less than tender, loving care of her psychotically cruel, incestuously inclined brother, Hilarion (a scary Michael Dolan).

Meanwhile, an itinerant line-dance instructor, one Albrecht from Bratislava (an effortlessly seductive Milos Galko), arrives on the scene. When he finally seduces Giselle, she sees the chance of escape from her miserable life — until the jealous Hilarion intervenes. He has already spotted the bisexual Albrecht bottoming for the local butcher’s son and forces Giselle to witness the truth of his accusation — this time with buggering positions — reversed, causing her to suffer a fatal asthma attack.

Giselle’s spiritual liberation comes in the second part of Keegan-Dolan’s intermissionless, 75-minute version. In a seismic tonal shift — from chaotic and absurd to supernatural and poetic — Fabulous Beasts’ multi-talented cast, the men dressed as women, rise as jilted women from their graves in clouds of dust to swing from ropes like menacing zombies.

While the performances at times seem ready to go over the top, the cast of nine men and two women know exactly how to create a sense of suspense. You’re never quite sure what they’ll do next as axes are swung, pistols pointed and metal bins sent banging across the stage.

Other choreographers before him have refashioned Giselle to suit varying agendas but none has done so as convincingly as Keegan-Dolan or, strange at it may sound, with as much fundamental respect and understanding of the original. 


No Better Time To Be A Canadian Hockey Fan

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(May 03, 2010) MONTREAL - If you’re a Canadian and love the sport of
hockey, you’ve got to be feeling spoiled these days.

Or this year.

The calendar began with a special world junior championship tournament in frigid Saskatoon — Canada lost to the United States in a terrific gold medal final — and continued with the Canadian double hockey gold in balmy Vancouver at the spectacular Winter Olympics.

Now, with Toronto and the GTA sadly wondering why southern Ontario never gets to see this stuff up close and personal, this could be the best week yet, with the possibility of more to come.

The Canadiens, back from the dead after falling behind 3-1 to Washington, are home and alive in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and springtime hockey in Montreal is something special. Always been that way, and while the Bell Centre crowd has developed the unfortunate habit of ridiculously screaming for penalties constantly, it will be deafening Tuesday night.

Olympic golden goal scorer Sidney Crosby will be in town with the defending champion Penguins and the series tied 1-1. Every time it seems like the Habs are on the ropes, they bounce back into the fray.

The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, will return home for Games 3 and 4 against Chicago later this week having already stolen home ice away from the Blackhawks. This was another team that was down in its first-round series and came back to win. No sweeter way to do it.

So, 10 days after it looked possible that no Canadian teams would make it past the first round, two did.

If you want to look a little further into the hockey future, two Canadians, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, are set to go 1-2 in June’s NHL entry draft. A big picture note would be that Hall and Seguin were just getting started in the game way back in 1998 when Canada gathered for the Open Ice Summit that in many ways changed the face of the sport in Canada and installed a mindset that skill comes first.

It ended a generation of belief that Russians, Czechs, Swedes and others played the game more skilfully than Canadians. Today, no longer do we specialize in goalies, grinders and goons.

Heck, the three defencemen recently nominated for the Norris Trophy are all Canadians — Duncan Keith, Mike Green and Drew Doughty — and all much more in the Paul Coffey, giddy-up mode than the stay-at-home variety.

So the country’s on a bit of a puck roll, whether it’s hosting and celebrating the sport at the highest level, developing players second to none or having two squads among the NHL’s elite eight. The Habs and ’Nucks have simply kept the party going into May.

For Game 3 between the Habs and Pens, it will be intriguing to see how Crosby is greeted after the thunderous booing and “Ovie Sucks!” that greeted Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin on his three first-round visits.

Could be even worse for Crosby. Or could be slightly more charitable, given that No. 87 played his junior hockey in the province.

Naw, it’ll be worse.

In Game 2, the Habs gave up 39 shots, but in the same way they approached Ovechkin and the Caps, they limited the shots generated by the Pens’ top players, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby had no points and one shot, Malkin no points and three shots, while Montreal was content to let Chris Kunitz take seven cracks at Jaroslav Halak and Tyler Kennedy five shots.

For the Habs, it’s less about how many shots they give up and more about denying access to certain players. The Penguins have shown an ability to adjust in the past two playoff seasons, although without Jordan Staal available that becomes more difficult.

On home ice, the Canadiens haven’t been very successful in this post-season, losing two of three. In the two losses to Washington, they gave up 11 goals. In winning Game 6 against the Caps, Jacques Martin’s squad gave up 54 shots, so really the Bell Centre mob hasn’t been as useful in the playoffs as you might think.

Still, it will be electric for Game 3, just as it will be at GM Place in Vancouver on Wednesday and Friday.

For Canada, it’s been like a five-month hockey festival. Apparently, it’s not over yet.

Kobe Lifts Lakers Past Jazz

Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(May 2, 2010) LOS ANGELES—Just in case the Utah Jazz forgot how
Kobe Bryant finishes games, he provided another painful playoff reminder.

Bryant scored 11 of his 31 points in the final four minutes, and the Los Angeles Lakers blew a fourth-quarter lead before rallying for a 104-99 victory over the Jazz in their second-round series opener Sunday.

Pau Gasol had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the top-seeded Lakers, who played a dismal final period before Bryant seized control. Last season’s NBA finals MVP coolly scored seven consecutive points to erase Utah’s four-point lead, followed by a dynamic slice through the lane for a layup with 22.6 seconds left.

The clubs are meeting in the post-season for the third consecutive year after the Lakers ended Utah’s last two seasons, including a first-round victory in 2009. In each of the teams’ previous five playoff meetings, the winner went on to the NBA finals.

Deron Williams scored 24 points for fifth-seeded Utah, which managed just one more field goal after taking a 93-89 lead with 4:10 to play. Utah has lost 15 straight to the Lakers at Staples Center, including seven playoff games.

Los Angeles will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night.

Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Utah. Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles contributed 16 points apiece, including several difficult baskets in the fourth quarter while the Jazz surged ahead with a 12-1 run.

It wasn’t enough to stop Bryant, who took over right when Utah’s excited bench seemed certain it was headed to an upset win.

Both teams finished their first-round series roughly 36 hours earlier, with the Lakers winning at Oklahoma City on Gasol’s last-second tip-in shortly before Utah held off Denver.

Lakers centre Andrew Bynum started and played 24 minutes after discovering a small tear in the meniscus of his right knee Saturday. The seven-footer wore a large brace on his knee, but didn’t appear limited while collecting eight points and 10 rebounds.

Utah also has pronounced injury problems. With Andrei Kirilenko still sidelined with a strained left calf and centre Mehmet Okur out for the post-season, the Jazz struggled to guard the Lakers inside when Los Angeles forced the ball down low.

But the Lakers sometimes seemed disinterested, a mood matched by the home crowd. After the Lakers’ consecutive losses to Oklahoma City inspired a crackling atmosphere for their blowout victory in Game 5 last week, Staples Center was back to its usual relaxed state.

Los Angeles gave out thousands of white T-shirts in an apparent attempt at a whiteout crowd to go with the Lakers’ Sunday white uniforms, but the majority of fans didn’t bother to put on the shirts. Lakers fans get excited about titles, not T-shirts — and despite an inconsistent regular season, their team appears capable of contending for its 16th crown.

Williams injured his elbow late in Utah’s series-clinching win over Denver, putting his availability for Game 1 in doubt. He forced the Jazz to call a full timeout just 20 seconds in after hurting his arm on their first possession. Yet he showed no obvious favour toward the injury while scoring 17 points in the first half.

Los Angeles opened with 15-for-19 shooting in the first quarter, including five shots without a miss by Bryant. The Lakers led by 14 in the first half, but Utah sliced the lead to three in the third quarter before heading into the final period trailing 81-73.

With both teams using four reserves apiece to open the fourth quarter, Utah trimmed the Lakers’ lead to 82-81 on Millsap’s layup with 7:43 left. Miles’ free throws gave Utah its first lead since the first quarter moments later — but then Bryant got started.

Voice Of The Tigers, Ernie Harwell Dead At 92

Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(May 04, 2010) DETROIT—Longtime Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, beloved by generations of fans who grew up listening to his rich voice, Southern cadence and quirky phrases on the radio, has died after a months-long battle with cancer. He was 92.

Tigers spokesman Brian Britten said the Tigers learned of Harwell’s death from his agent.

Harwell, who called Detroit Tigers games for four-plus decades and was acquired by the Brooklyn Dodgers for a catcher, announced in September that he had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the bile duct. Then 91, he took the news with characteristic poise, saying he planned to continue working on a book and other projects.

“Whatever happens, I’m ready to face it,” Harwell told The Associated Press on Sept. 4, 2009. “I have a great faith in God and Jesus.”

Shortly after Harwell’s announcement, the Tigers honoured him during the third inning of a game against Kansas City, showing a video tribute and giving him a chance to address the crowd at Comerica Park.

“In my almost 92 years on this Earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey,” Harwell said at a microphone behind home plate. “The blessed part of that journey is that it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan.”

Harwell died Tuesday at his home in Novi, about 50 kilometres northwest of Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Tigers did not have additional details about his death.

Harwell spent 42 of his 55 years in broadcasting with the Tigers. He was their play-by-play radio voice from 1960-1991 and 1993-2002.

The team and its flagship radio station, WJR, allowed his contract to expire after the 1991 season in what became a public relations nightmare. Then-Tigers president Bo Schembechler, the former Michigan football coach, took the blame. WJR general manager Jim Long later took responsibility for the unpopular move.

When Mike Ilitch bought the franchise from Tom Monaghan, he put Harwell back in the booth in 1993. Harwell chose to retire after the 2002 season.

His big break came in unorthodox fashion.

Brooklyn Dodgers radio broadcaster Red Barber fell ill in 1948, and general manager Branch Rickey needed a replacement. After learning the Crackers needed a catcher, Rickey sent minor league catcher Cliff Dapper to Atlanta and Harwell joined the Dodgers.

Harwell said his most memorable game was the 1951 playoff between the Dodgers and New York Giants for the NL pennant, which Bobby Thomson won with a walk-off home run, but few if any people remember his recount of the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World?” at the Polo Grounds that day.

Russ Hodges’ exclamation on radio of “The Giants win the pennant!” became one of the most famous moments in sports broadcasting history. Harwell, meanwhile, was calling the first major sporting event televised coast-to-coast in the United States. His work that day has been largely forgotten.

“I just said, ‘It’s gone!’ and then the pictures took over,” he recalled.

By his own count, Harwell called more than 8,300 major league games, starting with the Dodgers and continuing with the Giants and Baltimore Orioles before joining the Tigers. He missed two games outside of the ‘92 season: one for his brother’s funeral in 1968, the other when he was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1989.

The Georgia native’s easygoing manner and love of baseball endeared him to generations of Tigers fans, enhancing the club’s finest moments and making its struggles more bearable.

Even casual fans could tick off Harwell catchphrases: “Looooooong gone!” for a home run; “He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by” for a batter taking a called third strike; and “Two for the price of one!” for a double play.

Foul balls into the stands were “Caught by a man from (whatever town in the area that came to his mind).”

“I started that after I got to Detroit in 1961 or ‘62, and it just happened by accident,” Harwell explained. “I said, ‘A guy from Grosse Pointe caught that foul ball,’ then the next ones were caught by a guy from Saginaw or a lady from Lansing.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame honoured Harwell in 1981 with the Ford C. Frick Award, given annually to a broadcaster for major contributions to baseball.

Harwell tempered his with modesty. “I just want people to remember me as a guy who showed up for work and tried to do a good job,” Harwell told the AP weeks before he retired in 2002.

As Detroit struggled late in Harwell’s career — the Tigers had losing records in each of his final nine years in the booth — he became a reminder of better times. A life-sized statue of Harwell stands at the entrance to Comerica Park and its press box is called “The Ernie Harwell Media Center.”

Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Lulu, and four children.