20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                     (416) 677-5883
                                                                                                                                                  langfieldent@rogers.com
                                                                                                                                    www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

February 3, 2011

Super Bowl
 weekend is here!  Fan?  Not a fan? Well, there's lots of alternatives like the two HOT events here. For instance, the Evolution of Gospel Music brings us an array of gospel music with special guest artist Diane Clemons, wife of Mike "Pinball" Clemons, making her first appearance in the production bringing her powerful and soulful voice to the cast. See details under HOT EVENTS.

As well, Harbourfront Centre brings us another edition of
KUUMBA!  Varied artists from every walk of cultural arts focussing on Black History Month, hit the various stages of the Harbourfront Centre.  Check out the amazing line-up under HOT EVENTS.

Now, extremely interesting timing with it being Black History Month and all ... is this the collapse of urban music in Canada?  For those that don't know, the college radio
 station CKLN has been denied it's CRTC license.  Want to have your say on the matter? Go to the page below under SCOOP  and click the link to submit your thoughts and/or complaints. Please don't be part of the number that is outraged but doesn't speak to it when given the opportunity ok? 

THEN, to perhaps add insult to injury,
FLOW 93.5 has been bought by CTV.  And with the new owners stammering for a definition of urban music, it's hard to say what's in store.  Read Ashante Infantry's article below under SCOOP.  Scroll down on the page to read about an insider's take on it.

On the upside and a source of inspiration to us in his daily walk and art,
Mark "Kurupt" Stoddart tells his story about meeting Spike Lee, who was in town last week to discuss the role of music in his films.  Ever want your dream to come true?  Read this story ... it will empower you to keep believing!

And yes, you will see a piece in OTHER NEWS on my boss, former premier
David Peterson. I couldn't resist as, what can I say? I'm proud to work for him.

 Now, take a scroll and a read of 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! 

::HOT EVENTS::

Black History Month’s Opening Act - The Evolution Of Gospel Music

(January 11, 2011) Black History Month launches with an exhilarating and inspiring stage production,
The Evolution of Gospel Music.   In collaboration with the Juno Award winning Toronto Mass Choir, The Evolution of Gospel Music stage production will have 2 evening shows and one Friday matinee at 10:30 AM to Noon for students only.

Watch short promo clip HERE.

This powerful musical journey moves audiences from the early days of Negro spirituals, through the turmoil of the ’60s, to today’s contemporary gospel music scene.  The production boasts a phenomenal cast representing some of the best Canadian actors, dancers and gospel musicians; and celebrates the music of Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland and other iconic artists.  In addition, special guest artist Diane Clemons, wife of Mike “Pinball” Clemons, will make her first appearance in the production bringing her powerful and soulful voice to the cast.

‘It‘s exciting to be able to remind audiences that gospel music is the 'grandfather' of all of the Black music that
we love today.  The voices belonging to mega stars such as Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson and Whitney Houston are all a testament to the power of this great genre’, said Karen Burke, co-founder of the Toronto Mass Choir and a York University professor.

Writer and director of The Evolution of Gospel Music, Aadin Church, (known for his roles in Miss Saigon and The Lion King), said, ‘in its 3rd year as a Black History Month event, this is a must see production for all.  It dynamically depicts a triumphant legacy of gospel music - inspiring and enlightening audiences every year.’

To meet their goal of positively impacting the local community, the production will donate a part of the proceeds to UrbanPromise Toronto, a local charity that helps children and young adults reach their potential and achieve success through after school programs and mentoring.  

About The Evolution of Gospel Music

This riveting stage production is in its 3rd year.  In 2009 and 2010 audiences of over 1,500 people were moved and energized by the power of the production that spans over a period of more than three centuries.  Audiences will enjoy two evening performances on Friday, February 4, 2011 and Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM; student groups are welcome to attend a special matinee on Friday, February 4th at 10:30 AM to Noon. 

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2011 AND SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2011
THE EVOLUTION OF GOSPEL MUSIC
Global Kingdom Ministries (theatre seating)
1250 Markham Road, Scarborough (just off 401)
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM – Doors Open at 6:00 PM
Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $30.00 at the door; group rates are available.
Visit www.evolutionofgospelmusic.com for tickets and more information or call 905.794.1139

Kuumba presented by TD - Feb. 5-6 and 12-13, 2011

Source:  www.harbourfrontcentre.com


The 15th annual
Kuumba festival presented by TD returns to Harbourfront Centre with two entertaining and educational weekends commemorating both the history and the future of black culture.

This winter, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that questions the BIG iDEA of witness. Join us Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 12-13, 2011 to witness black history through audio installations, visual arts, theatre, dance workshops, film screenings, music, comedy, family activities and more!

Kuumba is one of Toronto's longest-running and largest
Black History Month festivals. This year features two jam-packed weekends of fun that the whole family can enjoy. The first weekend explores ideas surrounding the past, present and future of the black diaspora, while the second weekend focuses on the fusion of art and history in Caribbean culture.

Kuumba” is the Swahili word for creativity and has become synonymous with showcasing the best local and international artists from the African and Caribbean diaspora. All programming is FREE (except the Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash $15 & Beat the Street Dance Showdown $10) and runs each day from 1 p.m. into the evening.

All events take place at Harbourfront Centre located at 235 Queen’s Quay West. For more information and to purchase tickets, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit harbourfrontcentre.com/kuumba.

KUUMBA EVENT LISTINGS:

MUSIC

James King
Feb. 5, 3-4:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Toronto-based James King delivers a melodic and lyrical fusion of pop, rock and neo-soul. Each member brings different skills and passions to the group, and together they create a unique mix of old school R&B with a modern pop twist.

Kuumba Unplugged featuring Natasha Waterman
Feb. 6, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Natasha Waterman began writing music at the age of 11 and recently released her first CD, Long Road. Her album is a blend of soulful songs that will have listeners grooving to her warm, sultry tones.

Pablo Terry y Sol de Cuba
Feb. 6, 5-6 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Pablo Terry's dynamic stage presence and musical dexterity comes from years of training in the Cuban Army (as a member of the Cuban Military Band) and at the renowned Escuela de Artes in Havana. Terry has played with many great Cuban artists including Celia Cruz, Compay Segundo of Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portuondo and Los Papines.

Kuumba Unplugged featuring Carlos Morgan
Feb. 12, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Carlos Morgan, a talented singer/songwriter/producer based in Toronto, is poised to break on a global level. Feelin' Alright, his debut album, is a collection of soothing love ballads and R&B club jams with a pinch of hip hop flavour. The album showcases the diversity of Morgan’s singing style, from seductive ballads to more upbeat R&B and hip hop grooves.

Kuumba Gospel Fest 2011
Feb. 13, 2-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Kuumba Gospel Fest 2011 features a who’s who of local gospel music including the U of T Gospel Choir, Brian Hamilton & Divine Worship, Echoe Of Praise, Rochelle Hanson, Karen Jules, Winston Dayal and Chris Lowe.

DANCE

Jaivah Nouvel Expos
é African Dance Troupe
Feb. 5, 1:30-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Toronto’s Jaivah Nouvel Expos
é African Dance Troupe specializes in traditional and contemporary dance from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Southern Africa and Egypt. They pair original choreography with lively African music to showcase rare African dance styles.

Amadou Kienou
Feb. 6, 2-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Born in Burkina Faso, Amadou Kienou comes from a family of renowned praise singers. Praise singers are considered to be the only professional artists in traditional African society. Kienou’s repertoire consists of Mandingue songs and dances that he adapted for the djembe (African drum).

Cadence Dance Academy Workshop
Feb. 5, 4:30- 5:30 (Lakeside Terrace)
Cadence Dance Company offers lessons, classes and performances in salsa, cha-cha, bachata, and Afro-Cuban dance. During his demonstrations, Patrick Danquah will teach participants easy and sexy moves that look great on the dance floor!

Afro-Cuban Dance Workshop - Irina Bravo
Feb. 13, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Cuban-born Irina Bravo will teach a high-energy Afro-Cuban dance workshop for all skill levels. With a focus on the Orisha (Yoruba deities) dance style, this class teaches students the fundamentals of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance.

Beat the Street Dance Showdown
Feb. 6, 3-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Ticketed event $10
Witness the transformative power of dance! Watch as 18 post-secondary, high school and street dance teams from around the GTA compete for the top spot and $500!

Cirque Afro-Cuban featuring Eduardo Dorticos
Feb. 12, 4-5 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
This demo and interactive workshop is taught by Cuban Olympian and cirque performer Eduardo Dorticos. Combining dazzling acrobatics and expressive dance, Dorticos draws audiences into the awe-inspiring world of contemporary circus. With his expertise in gymnastics, contemporary dance and professional circus training he has created a daring and elegant act you don’t want to miss! 

Magia Negra Candombe
Feb. 12, 5-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Magia Negra Candombe is a local Afro-Uruguayan group that plays candombe music. The candombe rhythm is created with three drums also know as tambors – the tambor piano, tambor chico and tambor repique. These instruments have been an important part of Uruguayan culture since they were first introduced to the South American country through the African slave trade.

Afro-Brazilian Drum and Dance Workshop – Capeoira Camara

Feb. 12, 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Capoeira (Ca-po-era) is a 400 year-old Brazilian martial art that combines self defense with energetic music and acrobatics. This workshop (led by a top Capoeira master from Capeoira Camara) teaches the basic movements of the art form that exercises both the mind and body.

Hip Hop Dance Workshop - Leon Blackwood
Feb. 12, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Leon Blackwood is a self-taught dancer and choreographer who’s been featured in the blockbuster dance movies Honey and How She Move! During his workshop, he will teach a variety of basic hip hop moves and create a fun and unique dance routine.

FILM & PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Mama Africa
Feb. 5, 1:30-2:45 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Directed by Ale Braga, Mama Africa is a documentary that gives African children a voice to dispel African stereotypes and the forum to talk about issues that affect their daily lives including religion, culture, development and nutrition.

Black Mother Black Daughter followed by The Black Family…Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow panel discussion
Feb. 5, 4-6 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
The short film Black Mother Black Daughter (a part of Ontario Black History Societies Black International Film Fest) explores the lives and experiences of black women living in Nova Scotia. The film examines the contributions the women make in their homes, the church and their community. It also takes a look at the strengths they passed on to their daughters. The film is followed by The Black Family…Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow panel discussion that assesses the structure of the black family from the past, present and the future. Panellists include Dalton Higgins (music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and journalist), Rosemary Sadler (President of the Ontario Black History Society) and more.

Inside Carnival & Kiddie Carnival
Feb. 13, 1-3:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
A selection of short films tracing the history of Trinidad & Tobago’s spectacular Kiddie Carnival from 2003 to 2010 and the larger adult Carnival from 2008 to 2010 (Courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Tourism).

Bravo! FACT shorts for Kuumba 2011
Feb. 6, 1-3 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Fifteen Canadian-made Bravo! FACT short films (that cover a range of subject matter and styles) will be screened to celebrate the contributions of black Canadian filmmakers.  

THEATRE

Man2Man
Feb. 12, 8- 9:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Kwame Stephen’s Man2Man follows the love story between two men as they navigate a bumpy road to love. This theatrical production challenges stereotypes while exploring how religion, family, love and sexuality play a role in the character’s lives.

COMEDY

Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash – hosted by Kenny Robinson

Feb. 5, 8:30-11 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Ticketed event ($15)
For over 25 years, Kenny Robinson has engaged audiences with his raucous, cheeky, profane and opinionated style of comedy and social commentary. At Kuumba, he hosts the Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash featuring a slew of local comedians.


VISUAL ARTS/EXHIBITS

Black in History Exhibit: Voices from Days of Slavery
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Voices from Days of Slavery audio installation features the remarkable oral accounts of former slaves (on loan from the Library of Congress). There are only 26 audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves that have ever been found. This collection captures their stories and gives listeners a chance to hear first-hand accounts about what it was like to be a slave and to gain freedom.
*Images of seven former slaves featured in this audio installation are also on display.

Black in History Exhibit: Motown Museum Digital Display
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Motown Museum Digital Display (on loan from the Motown Museum in Detroit) traces the history of this soulful era and highlights the indelible impact Motown has had on popular culture and music.

Black in History Exhibit: Enslaved in Upper Canada

Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Enslaved in Upper Canada photo exhibit (courtesy of Archives of Ontario) depicts the     existence and practice of slavery in Upper Canada between the years 1760 and 1834. The exhibit focuses on the lives of enslaved Africans and the actions they took to resist servitude in Upper Canada.

Black in History Exhibit:
On the Road North
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The On the Road North photo exhibit (courtesy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada) tells the story of Canada’s black communities through the lens of people, places and events recognized as nationally significant to Canada’s history. The exhibit was developed by the Parks Canada Agency in collaboration with the Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Mas Camp Centre

Feb. 12, 12-10 p.m., Feb.13, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Mas Camp Centre is colourful showcase of carnival costumes from the past and the present. Visitors can learn about the history of carnival and view the intricate designs of 10 flamboyant carnival costumes and headpieces.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

Box of Crayons
Feb. 5, 2-4 p.m., Feb. 6, 1:30-3:30 p.m. (Miss Lou’s Room)
This children’s activity is based on Shane Derolf’s poem The Crayon Box that Talked. During this activity, kids will learn that when we all work together the results are much more interesting and colourful!

Mas Camp Central
Feb. 12-13, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Kids can make their own colourful and unique carnival headpiece!

Kuumba Carnival Parade
Feb. 12, 6-6:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace and site)
Families and kids can participate in a carnival parade around the Harbourfront Centre site!

DJ SKATE SATURDAY NIGHTS

Motown Mixer featuring DJ D. Brown

Feb. 5, 8 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink
The first-ever DJ Skate Saturday Nights Motown Mixer features Detroit’s DJ D. Brown. Join us for a funky skate as we celebrate Motown’s rich history and contribution to the music industry.

Soca on Ice featuring Dr. Jay de Soca Prince
Feb. 12, 8 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink
DJ Skate Saturday Nights explores hot Caribbean rhythms at the first soca party on ice! Join us as Flow 93.5 FM’s Dr. Jay de Soca Prince heats up the ice with spicy soca and calypso tunes.



ABOUT HARBOURFRONT CENTRE
Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, all within a collection of distinctive venues on the 10-acre site it operates in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront.

ABOUT TD - THEN & NOW series
TD salutes the contributions of members of the black community to Canada by proudly sponsoring the THEN & NOW series of cultural events. This celebration of Black History Month, showcases 12 visual arts, performance and cinematic events for the entire family. Visit the Then & NOW website for more information.

::SCOOP::

CTV Takes Over FLOW 93.5 FM

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(February 02, 2011) Ten years after coming to the airwaves on the strength of a politically charged campaign,
Toronto’s first commercial black radio station has been assumed by a corporate behemoth.

CTV concluded its $27 million purchase of
The New Flow 93.5 FM this week with a pledge to retain the station’s name and urban music orientation, however that is defined.

“It’s kind of hard to say, ‘What’s urban?’ and ‘What’s rhythmic?’ and ‘What’s hip-hop? Dance? What’s crossover?’” said CHUM Radio president Chris Gordon, who will oversee operations. “All I can tell you is that we’re committed to being a very rhythmic radio station.”

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s approval of the sale binds CTV through 2017 to the terms of Flow’s initial licence, which dictates an urban music format without specifics.

The deal makes CTV, which own 33 radio stations across the country, level with competitors such as Rogers, Astral and Corus, which already have FM duopolies in Canada’s biggest market.

“As successful as CHUM FM is and as successful as The Flow is, the two stations separately are not nearly as strong as the two stations are together,” said Gordon. The Flow is a great fit for CHUM FM, he added, with its tendency to attract younger, female listeners.

The transaction brings to a close Flow owner and Milestone Inc. CEO
Denham Jolly’s run as the first black person in Canada to receive a radio licence. It took the nursing-home owner and former community newspaper publisher 11 years, $400,000, three different applications and 12,000 signatures to win approval from the federal broadcast regulator.

But it’s been an uneasy tenure.

While the station made respectable gains, eventually becoming profitable, it raised the ire of members of the black community who supported Jolly’s bid.

Within three months of its launch on Feb. 9, 2001, some listeners were calling for a Flow boycott over its predominantly hip-hop playlist. They wanted programmers to adhere to Milestone’s promise of a “modern-day reflection of the rich musical traditions of black musicians and black-influenced music over at least the past century” with a broader mix of reggae, soca, jazz and R&B.

“Flow catered more to the below 30, the hip-hop kind of North American vibe, so it alienated a lot of us,” said Brampton-based 50something Allan Jones, who supported a rival black bid for the frequency. “People felt it sold out a long time ago, so the sale of Flow means nothing really. What was missing then is still missing now. What we needed was a mainstream voice that reflected our culture, our music, our thought leaders.”

“What you do to get a licence and what you do with a licence are two different things,” said radio consultant David Bray, president of Bray & Partners Communications, of Flow’s slide “from world music, or urban music, to a more CHR (contemporary hit radio) format.”

“They had to move more in that direction because you’ve got to get enough ad base to be able to get enough revenue. That is the reality of radio in Canada. It’s always a balancing act: making sure that your conditions of licence are fulfilled, while at the same time becoming sufficiently commercial that you can actually make some money.”

The station maintained a strong community mandate, supporting organizations like the Jamaican Canadian Association and the Black Business and Professional Association, as well as a minority-focused scholarship at Ryerson University. Its efforts also boosted the careers of local black talent such as singers Jully Black and Divine Brown, CP24 reporter Nathan Downer and former Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex.

While the terms of the Flow licence require CTV to continue financial support of new and emerging artists, Toronto concert promoter Keith Baker wanted the company to have obligations, such as “80 per cent black/urban music” and “devote at least 50 per cent of advertising airtime to black businesses.”

He unsuccessfully lobbied the CRTC to attach those conditions to ensure that 93.5 FM would “keep the urban format in Toronto for years to come.” The commission declined.

One of only three interveners, Baker’s has an outstanding lawsuit with Flow over concert support.

“The urban need is going to be here long after myself, it’s not a personal gripe,” said Baker, citing the need for an R&B, hip-hop and soul music outlet for businesses to “access a vital demographic.”

This weekend, Flow will move from 211 Yonge St. to new studios at CTV’s 299 Queen St. headquarters. Nicole Jolly (Denham’s daughter), Milestone’s VP of operations, is gone, but music director Justin Dumont and program director Wayne Williams are still on board.

“We do like a lot of the talent that’s at the radio station,” said Gordon. “So if you’re a listener you’ll notice some (changes), but hopefully they’ll be good things.”

CKLN 88.1FM Must Remain On The Airwaves!

Source: http://www.petitiononline.com/ckln881

To:  CRTC, CCRA

We the Toronto community are shocked at the recent revoking of
CKLN 88.1FM's broadcasting license by the CRTC. CKLN is the heart of our community. It has represented a multitude of communities throughout its history, communities that have been traditionally marginalized and ignored by the mainstream media. It is a major player in the distribution of alternative news and information, and has been the genesis of hundreds of careers from local artists to music lovers, comedians to dancers.

CKLN is vital to our community, and without its presence on air we lose not only a rich history of our city, but
future opportunities and culture - which ultimately enriches our city and nation, culturally and monetarily. While it is true that former mismanagement affected its ability to broadcast at certain points in recent history, we, the listening audience, is confident that the current administration and board is able to handle the tasks at hand. That is, to fulfill their duties to the listeners and the CRTC without failing to live up to the standards set before them.

Please support CKLN. This petition is put together by a listener and former volunteer who has little stake in CKLN besides its continual presence in our city as a hub of growth, culture and community.

Please see www.ckln.fm for more information. This petition will be sent to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian College Radio Association.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Sign the petition here: http://www.petitiononline.com/ckln881/petition.html

::TOP STORIES::

Toronto's Mark "Kurupt" Stoddart Meets His Idol, Spike Lee

Source:  Visual artist, Mark Stoddart (edited by Dawn Langfield)

It is a familiar saying: “A people with no history, have no future.”  This single truth has inspired and motivated each brushstroke I have swept across a canvas. While the immediate subject changes, the purpose behind my art remains the same: educate, empower and unite.*
*

So, here’s my story in celebration of Black History Month. 

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Shelton Jackson Lee aka
Spike Lee.
 
For me, Spike is a realist, humanitarian and a man who embraces his people using passion as his compass.  An accomplished writer, director, producer, actor and author, Spike has revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the role of Black talent in film.  Spike Lee is widely regarded as a premiere filmmaker and a forerunner in the 'do it yourself' school of filmmaking. His work will go down in history as powerful coupled with a unique style of storytelling.
 
Personally, I've always felt a special connection with Spike.  He is constantly involved with the three things that
have inspired me the most: sports, music and activism. Whether it was his early movie appearances as Mars Blackmon in She’s Gotta Have It, as Mookie in Do the Right Thing, or Shorty in Malcolm X, Spike has always managed to send a message through his work and has shaped my consciousness to become the visionary that I am today.

Upon arriving at Cineplex's Varsity Theatre, I found out that Spike was doing a book signing at the adjoining bookstore Indigo.  I saw the organizers getting ready to shut it down, yelling “That’s it! No more people!”  I glanced behind me and realized that I was the last person allowed entry.  As I inched closer in the line, the excitement mounted as I anticipated meeting Spike Lee for the first time.  I felt like a fan meeting their favourite athlete or their favourite artist.  I was speechless yet energized. The legendary Spike Lee, a man who I looked up to for close to two decades, was about to sign my book!
 
Pulling myself together, I introduced myself to Spike and managed to utter quickly under the frenzied organizers'
eye, that he was a mentor and role model to me since a young age. I caught my breath and went on.  I explained that while in college (1992), I had painted a portrait of him (pic to right) and hoped one day to present it to him personally. I presented him with a copy of my print and stammered that it was a token of my appreciation for inspiring me to do what I do. He graciously accepted. 
 
Spike signed my book and personalized it by writing, “Thank you for the art ~ Spike Lee”

Looking back after the giddy feeling left my being, I realized that while meeting Spike Lee and presenting him with a piece of my work, will always be an important victory in my life, something else was also marinating within.  Something very poignant.  16 years ago I created a visionary board comprised of several things I wanted to accomplish. As ridiculous and unobtainable as some may have seemed, I honestly believed in the realization of them. Not everything on my visionary board has manifested the way it was portrayed, but almost everything has manifested.  Spike Lee appears on that board (pic to right).
 
No goal or wish is unobtainable. I always knew one day I was going to meet Spike Lee because I was brave enough
to claim it, giving life to my dream. I can now finally share this experience with my friends and family, and you, the reader.  Always aim for the stars because one day you might be blessed to hang WITH one!  The pics are the proof.
 
The point I'd like to make for anyone reading this short story, is that you should never feel ashamed or discouraged to set goals and envision yourself having and accomplishing them. Whatever we envision, we can ‘will’ our dreams to unfold.  In so doing, we allow them to be set in motion, to eventually manifest - coupled with persistence and hard work. 

**Note from Mark:  I use art as a means of sharing the rich history and beauty of the motherland – Africa.  By creating a positive and authentic image of Africa, we can begin to embrace the land, the history, and ourselves – its descendants. It is important to look closer to home during this month of reflection and celebration to honour the achievements of our parents, siblings, friends and community members. Often times, we forget to appreciate the people who have inspired us or taught us important lessons through their life experiences. This relates not only to those whom we admire, but also to those whom we are quick to judge. In observing and learning from others, you make your own road a little easier to travel. I try to learn something from everyone in my life because I know that every person is my teacher.

For Dawn's interview with Mark Stoddart, go HERE.

Mark "Kurupt" Stoddart:
http://liwi68.com/

Juno Nominations Get It Mostly Right

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(February 01, 2011) The Juno Awards turn 40 this year and — you know what? — they’re aging with a touch of grace.

A touch. This is still the Junos we’re talking about, a venue in which the Canadian music industry will always salute itself for shoving the dubious artistic achievements of Faber Drive, Three Days Grace and Down With Webster down the public gullet because, well, no one else is going to do it. But, truth be told, there were fewer of those “Gah!” moments to be had than usual whilst the nominees for the 2011 Juno Awards were read out during a news conference at the Fairmont Royal York hotel on Tuesday.

There were still a few, to be sure: how on Earth, for instance, did Hedley manage to rack up four nominations? Didn’t that band happen, like, a century ago? But generally speaking, the Junos seem to have got what the Junos do right this year.

Pats on the back for our big-money exports are to be expected, of course. Thus, Toronto rapper Drake — who’ll host CTV’s Juno broadcast on March 27 — picked up a field-leading six nominations, including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for his cross-border smash Thank Me Later. Right behind him came Montreal-based, internationally adored anthem peddlers the Arcade Fire with five. Impossibly popular teen-pop moppet Justin Bieber, meanwhile, managed to finagle four nominations of his own, as did globally well-regarded local indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene.

Pats on the back for more localized (i.e. purely Canadian) sales heavyweights are the Junos’ other stock in
trade, hence those four nominations for Hedley and another four for affable country singer Johnny Reid. Artists who’ve become “institutions,” meanwhile, get their requisite nods: Sarah McLachlan with three, for example, or Neil Young with two nominations in addition to being honoured with the 2011 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award.

The Junos are playing it smarter than ever these days, though, by casting the net wide and giving someone of every taste something to root for in most categories. Comb through the lists and you can, for the most part, find at least one act in each grouping to get behind on the big night.

There’s a good balance to be found in, say, the nominees for Album of the Year: the Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs for the tastemakers, Drake’s Thank Me Later for pop-hip-hop heads, Hedley’s The Show Must Go for teens with punk pretensions and Bieber’s My World 2.0 for the legions of lovestruck ladies out there. Ditto Artist of the Year, which pits the youthful likes of Bieber and Drake against Reid for the country fans, McLachlan for the Earth mothers and Neil Young for anyone with an ounce of taste.

You might hate some of the nominees, but it’s hard this year to hate all the nominees. And that, my friends, is progress.

There are plenty of deserving peeps up for hardware, too. It’s pretty heartening, for instance, to see twice-nominated Québécois ensemble Karkwa — whose excellent Les Chemins de Verre album took the Polaris Music Prize this year — breaking out of the “Francophone album of the year” ghetto and competing with the Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Owen Pallett and Tokyo Police Club in the alternative album category.

So what if the band’s chances of winning are, as frontman Louis-Jean Cormier puts it, “none”? If the nomination turns a few more English-Canadian heads Karkwa’s way, all the better.

“We have more expectations with the Francophone category,” said Cormier. “But we’re infiltrating.”

The members of ace local hard-rock quartet Die Mannequin were pleasantly surprised to find themselves the recipients of two nominations of their own, one for New Group of the Year and one in the Rock Album of the Year category for the fab disc Fino + Bleed.

“Someone just asked us, ‘Are the Junos evolving?’ ” said bassist Anthony Bleed. “Well, they’ve gotta be evolving if we got nominated.”

“It’s just cool for me, being a songwriter, that someone noticed what I wrote,” added 23-year-old bandleader Care Failure, who was living on the street not all that long ago. “Someone’s paying attention.”

Guitarist Stacy Stray, for his part, wondered aloud if the Juno nominations might serve as a bargaining chip with the landlord who evicted him just last week for playing too loudly.

“Just tell the landlord: ‘I’m working for a Juno, dude,’ ” advised Bleed.

Toronto MC Derek (D-Sisive) Christoff notched the second Juno nomination of his career, a Rap Recording of the Year nod for last year’s Vaudeville, not a bad showing for a rhymesmith who’s about as underground as underground gets.

He was nevertheless already conceding defeat in a strong category that also includes Shad, Ghettosocks, Eternia & MoSS and a young upstart by the name of Drake.

“It’s just making me think back to 2008 when I was up against Kardinal and it was a guaranteed loss. Fast forward to 2010: up against Drake, guaranteed loss,” he laughed. “It’s still awesome. I know it’s the clichéd answer, but being young I always dreamed about being nominated for a Juno. It’s f---in’ cool, man. People always pretend, ‘Oh, I don’t do this for awards, I don’t care about that stuff.’ Well, I care about that stuff. I want a lifetime achievement award.”

Renaissance Woman: Tre Armstrong

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Jonathan Erik Veal

(January 29, 2011) Many women have proven their entity in the industry through acting or music, but not
everyone can say that they are a choreographer, actress, dancer, TV personality, and now a judge for a TV show.

Tre Armstrong, has taken her love for dance and has turned her frequent lessons in ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop at the age of 5, into a successful career. Since then she has trained in salsa, breaking, reggae-ton, dancehall and various ballroom styles. With her many skills in dance, Armstrong has paved her own way to the top as one of the most dominant women in the industry today.

“Before, I was just a dancer living in Los Angeles. I danced backup for Missy Elliot, Rihanna, and 50 Cent to name a few,” Armstrong told us.

Starting out backup dancing, Tre has taken major choreography jobs with different stars such as Megan Fox, Neyo, and Sarah Brightman. Armstrong also worked with Sean “Diddy” Combs with ABC movie, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

“On the choreography side, I was his dance partner in rehearsal. In between takes we have a great time, but when the cameras come on, he is a complete professional,” Armstrong said.

She also completed choreography for Ludacris’s new Breakaway music video, directed by Director X.

Ludacris is such a humble guy. He is a business man and complete professional in what he does,” she says.

Tré was featured in the 2004 internationally acclaimed documentary “Breakin’ In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer,” which highlighted her as one of Canada’s top rising stars. Her acting debut happened the following year and in 2006 she secured a lead actress role as the character “Michelle” in the feature film “How She Move.”  “How She Move” was an official dramatic selectee for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.  It was picked up for distribution by Paramount Vantage with MTV Films, alongside BET Films and was released in theatres in 2008.

Along with choreographing and teaching, Armstrong has been granted a permanent judge position on “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.” According to Armstrong, the season 4 auditions for the show are going “real good,” and “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” differs from the United States adaptation of the show.

“Huge differences,” Armstrong stated. “We have a lot of native dancers from Ukrainian, Polish, and Turkish. We have very mosaic of culture on the show,” Armstrong added.

With her heavy load of dance, Tre has traveled the world into sharing her love and experience for dance through workshops, seminars and classes in hip-hop, urban and freestyle dance. She has been highly active in community service for the youth.

“When someone has something they like and they want to learn more about it, you have their attention,” said Armstrong.

Tre is active in the charity, “Free the Children,” which empowers children in North America to take action to improve the lives of fellow children overseas.

Not only is Tre working with charities, she has started her own foundation and her own dance program, “D Tour.” This is a nurturing 12-week program focusing on using urban dance to promote life-skill building in young girls aged 15-19 years old. Armstrong is expressing life skills through the program by the procedures that are present within schools.

“Instead of having the normal school routine of students sitting and listening, you incorporate it in the program. When you miss two sessions without a proper excuse, there will be consequences,” said Armstrong. “In life there are consequences,” she added.

After reaching major plateaus as a dancer, choreographer and actress, Tré continues to grow as an artist herself.  Her goal in life is to rise as a dancer, teacher and a humanitarian in order to support and guide youth around the world who need quality, life-empowering engagement through creative arts.

Packers, Steelers Arrive For Super Bowl

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Barry Wilner, The Associated Press

(January 31, 2011) Fort Worth, Texas— Video cameras and cowboy hats were in style as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers arrived Monday at the Super Bowl.

With dozens of fans chanting “Go Pack Go” as the players walked off team buses, the Packers witnessed Super Bowl frenzy for the first time in 13 years. Many of the players carried video cameras or aimed their cellphones at the crowd to take pictures before heading to news conferences.

A few of them wore cowboy hats, but none went as far as Steelers veteran receiver Hines Ward. He took the “True Grit” route, decked out in black cowboy hat, black shirt, belt buckle and jeans.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger held his mobile phone high, taking photos of the six-deep pack of reporters at his podium.

“Just taking it in stride, enjoying this opportunity regardless of what comes or how it comes,” Roethlisberger said. “Take it all in.”

Taking it all in were the big guys who block for him. They paid tribute to tackle Flozell Adams, who spent a dozen seasons as a Dallas Cowboy before joining this Pittsburgh team, by wearing his No. 76 Michigan State shirt as they deplaned.

“It's special to bring back the throwbacks, for all the guys to wear them,” Adams said. “They're all still walking around with them on. ... I'm grateful for it.”

There were plenty of fans in black and gold outside the Steelers' hotel, some carrying the obligatory Terrible Towels. But they were far outnumbered at the Packers' hotel in Irving a few hours later when the NFC champions pulled in.

Maybe that has something to do with Pittsburgh making its third Super Bowl appearance in six years. Not that the players are blase about it.

“It's always exciting for the opportunity to close up the season by playing in the Super Bowl,” Roethlisberger said. “I don't think you ever get tired of this, so take as much video and pictures as you can.”

:MUSIC NEWS::

The Monday Q&A: Buck 65

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(January 31, 2011) Buck 65 (a.k.a. Richard Terfry), the Canadian hip-hop artist whose talent is more substantial than his loose-change moniker might indicate, on Tuesday releases his latest album, 20 Odd Years, a reference to an offbeat two-decade career. He speaks about his other job (as a CBC Radio 2 host) and the process of making an album with the Tragically Hip's Gord Downie and others.

I once saw you identified as 'Richard Terfry, better known as Buck 65.' Now that you've hosted CBC's Radio 2 Drive as Rich Terfry for more than two years, under which name do your fans know you best?

I suppose in this country I probably am becoming better known by my given name. If you were to take the rest of the world into account, I probably still would be better known as Buck 65.

Did the radio job have an effect on the making of the album?

It's really a case of wearing different hats. The only area of where they cross is when I'm walking to work and back. It's quite good for me. It's safe to say that at least 95 per cent of the ideas that went into this record probably came from that time spent walking to and from work every day.

You worked with a number of singers on this album. Was it a true collaboration?

It varied. In some cases it was absolutely like, 'Look, I've got this part for you, and I really just need your voice here.' But in some cases, it was a much deeper collaboration.

How did it work with Gord Downie?

I did already have the piece of music completely written. But when it came time to figure out what we were going to say, we really had some long and rather philosophical conversations. It was really important to him that it made sense that there were two voices. 'So what's the relationship between these two voices? What do they have to say to one another?'

Was the process with him what you expected?

It was exactly what I'd hoped it would be like. I've always been a fan of his use of words, and I always imagined that it came from a really deep place. I got to go there myself, and see it up close.

How did the trippy cover of Leonard Cohen's Who By Fire with Jenn Grant come about?

I told Jenn basically that I was looking to do the most faithful cover I could. Beyond that there weren't any other instructions. So all these other amazing parts and harmonies that she was doing was just her doing what she does naturally. She's the most beautiful songbird that can't possibly be caged.

You've said of Tears of Your Heart, sung with Olivia Ruiz, that neither of you have any memory of making it. Is that the goal, to be so unconscious as to what you're producing?

I think that's exactly it. It's like you enter a dreamlike state, and that if you can preserve it somehow and still be wandering that way by the time you get to the studio, that's the ideal. How do you keep that lightning in a bottle when you go into the laboratory? It's almost impossible to do.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Adonis Puentes Finds His Groove As Cuban Musical Missionary

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(January 31, 2011) After a decade of American Idol, Canadian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, X-Factor and America’s Got Talent, who could blame us for thinking that a guitar, a fresh look and a decent ’do are a ticket to the Big Time.

More often than not, however, it’s slow, steady work that wins the talent race.

Just ask Cuban-born singer-songwriter
Adonis Puentes, who makes his first visit to Toronto in five years with a salsa-heavy program at Lula Lounge on Saturday night.

He’s seen both sides of the talent game.

At age 21, Puentes was one of the finalists in the Mi Salsa competition on Cuban TV in 1995. With the audiences’ applause still ringing in his ears and stars in his eyes, he, his fraternal twin Alexis and guitar-master father Valentín left the sun-soaked island to seek fame and fortune on a Canadian tour.

Despite going from being young stars back home, to total nobodies up here, the boys liked what they saw and worked out a way to emigrate to
Vancouver Island three years later.

It’s been a long, often lonely, but steady road back to bigger stages and brighter lights ever since.

Alexis has a thriving career under the name of
Alex Cuba, working in a fusion of various traditional and contemporary Latin styles.

Adonis has stayed true to more traditional roots as a soñero — a performer of Cuban son, a mix of what we think of as salsa and African-sourced percussion. This Puentes brother is a purist. He thinks of himself as a missionary, spreading a mix of soulful balladry and dance-friendly Cuban vibe to eager ears, hearts and hips.

The sweat finally paid off last year, when he scored invitations to the SXSW music festival in Texas, a couple of high-profile gigs in New York City and a big jazz festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was also finally able to pull together the musicians and intends to record a second solo album, in Los Angeles. It should be ready for release in a few months.

On the phone from the recording studio, with his band members noodling and laughing in the background, Puentes marvels that it’s been six years since he last put out an album.

“Time flies when you’re having a good time,” he says.

Like his first album, Vida, the new, still-untitled project is also an independent production. “It’s the only way I can keep creative control,” Puentes says. “It also means that I can have more control from the economic side, too. That is so important in this time, when the record industry is changing so quickly.

“After 13 years in North America, I’ve learned a little bit. Sometimes it’s hard, but I would not put out a record any other way.”

From a purely creative point of view, this is Puentes’ first fully solo album. His co-producer, and songwriting partner on Vida was brother Alexis. These new songs are all Adonis. “They are 100 per cent of my personality as a performer and composer,” he insists.

The tracks feature a big band, “and are more geared to dancing,” says Puentes. The groove includes forays into cha cha and cumbia. “It’s like a big party,” he adds.

Puentes says his Toronto audience can expect a similar vibe from the Lula gig on Saturday, thanks to a seven-piece band, “along with a couple of special guests,” Puentes says.

“Make sure you bring your dancing shoes,” he adds.

Canadian Woman First Ever To Receive Master's Degree In Beatles

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Reuters

(January 27, 2011) London — A Canadian woman has become the first person in the world to graduate with a
Master's degree in Beatles studies.

Former Miss Canada finalist,
Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy was one of the first 12 students to sign up for the Liverpool Hope University course on the Fab Four when it began in 2009 and was the first to graduate, the university said on Wednesday.

“I am so proud of my achievement,” Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy said. “The course was challenging, enjoyable and it provided a great insight into the impact the Beatles had and still have to this day across all aspects of life.”

The launch of the unique MA in Beatles, Popular Music and Society was a world first when it took its first class. Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy was the first to accept her degree in person from the university.

The course looks at the studio sound and composition of the Beatles and how Liverpool helped to shape their music. The MA examines the significance of their music and how it helped to define identities, culture and society.

Mike Brocken, founder and leader of the Beatles MA at Liverpool Hope University, said the postgraduate degree makes Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy a member of a select group of popular music experts.

“Mary-Lu now joins an internationally recognized group of scholars of Popular Music Studies who are able to offer fresh and thought-provoking insights into the discipline of musicology.”

Luck Has Been A Lady For Joshua Radin

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(January 28, 2011) In what kind of fairy tale does one learn how to play a guitar in 2002, have a song placed on a hit television show in 2004, have a debut album released by a major label and be invited to sing at the private wedding of a famous Hollywood figure two years after that?

Well, it’s not a fairy tale, but the very real life story of
Joshua Radin, who only ever wanted to be a painter, or a screenwriter.

Radin has to be one of the luckiest people in the entertainment business. He is also remarkably talented and persistent, having parlayed a knack for spinning golden threads of melody about love into a thriving international career.

The 36-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native brings his latest tour to a stop in Toronto on Saturday, for a sold-out concert at the Opera House.

Concert organizers could have promoted the indie singer to a bigger venue, thanks to his ever-rising profile. His third album, The Rock and the Tide, was released last October, and made it to 38th spot on the Canadian charts.

Much of Radin’s success hinges on the power of television and two people – actor Zack Braff, his best buddy from university days, and comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres.

It was Braff who got Radin’s first song, “Winter,” placed on his show, Scrubs. Since then, Radin has collected credits from Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters, House, Bones, 90210 and reality staples American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

Then there was the buzz of having an endorsement from Ellen DeGeneres — not just on her daytime talk show, but being invited to perform at her oh-so-private-and-intimate wedding to Portia Di Rossi in 2008.

“I’ve been very lucky,” says Radin on the phone from his favourite coffee hangout in Los Angeles. “It’s one of those things where creative, talented people will respond to what I do creatively.”

The singer insists that he never has – and never will – begged for help, and passes this advice on to anybody looking for ways to get ahead in the business: “Don’t ask anybody for favours, because celebrities get asked for favours constantly, and that’s the biggest turnoff ever.”

But Radin has asked for at least one favour, recently. It turns out that he is homeless, and has been crashing at his friend Zack Braff’s place while rehearsing with his band in L.A.

“All my stuff has been in a storage unit in New York for the last year,” Radin admits. He’s been on the road so much that he doesn’t see the need to keep an apartment.

Fortunately, he can write a song anywhere.

“I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Los Angeles, while I’m talking to you,” he says. “I wrote probably half the lyrics for all of my songs sitting right where I am right now.”

In the course of our chat, Radin reveals that his original impetus for picking up the guitar had nothing to do with wanting to be a singer or a songwriter: “It was never about me wanting to go up on stage and sing songs for people. It was more meditative, really. I was writing screenplays and, if I got stuck writing a scene, I would just pick up the guitar to open my brain and think in a different way.”

Radin and Braff met over a screen-writing course at Northwestern University in Illinois. And, by that time, Radin had already been through a previous incarnation as a visual artist and art teacher in Cleveland.

“I’m the black sheep of the family; no one really has a creative bone in their body,” laughs the singer, when asked to explain his multi-faceted creativity. But his Mom did everything she could to help.

“She saw I could draw by the time I was 6 and signed me up for art lessons at the Cleveland Museum of Art,” Radin recalls. “Then I started studying under a watercolourist in Cleveland every Saturday.

Radin already had a great voice as a boy – a voice that’s now grown into a sweet, silken instrument – but he paid no attention.

“I would sing with my Mom on the way to school. We would listen to this oldies station – Motown. She was always saying, ‘Oh you have such a beautiful voice,’ and I was, like, well, you’re my Mom,” Radin chuckles.

“I never actually thought I could be a singer.”

It wasn’t until he was coerced into sitting down in front of a crowd on an open-mic night that he realised maybe there could be more to life than being a struggling screenwriter.

“Because I was fortunate to have parents that kept pushing me in terms of expressing myself creatively, I was always looking for new things to do and new things to try. That’s why, at the age of 30, I simply decided to pick up the guitar and try music and try that world.”

Lucky him. And lucky world.

We Remember: Former Marvelettes Lead Singer Gladys Horton Dies

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 27, 2011) *According to Ron Brewington of the Motown Alumni Association,
Gladys Horton, co-founder and former lead singer of the popular Motown all-female group, The Marvelettes, has died.

She was 66.

Vaughn Thornton, 40, says his mother passed at approximately 10:00 PM, PST on Wednesday, Jan. 26th in a Sherman Oaks, Calif. (near Los Angeles) nursing home where she had  been recuperating from a stroke that she suffered some time ago.  

“My mother died peacefully,” said Thornton. “She fought as long as she could.”

Horton was born in Detroit, Mich. in 1944. She was raised by foster parents in the western Detroit suburb of Inkster.

While a student at Inkster High School, Horton developed a strong interest in singing and joined the high school glee club. She joined with several other members of the glee club, Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Georgeanna Tillman and later Georgia Dobbins to form a group.

The ladies called themselves The Casinyets, short for “can’t sing yet.”

Following a successful talent contest to sing for Motown, Dobbins, who was the group’s first lead singer, co-created “Please Mr. Postman.” Sadly, Dobbins had to leave the group after her father forbid her from singing in nightclubs.

Horton then became the lead singer and the group changed their name to The Marvelettes. Motown released the song in the summer of 1961 when Horton was only fifteen.

The song jumped to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Motown’s first #1 Pop hit.

Horton led on several other hits songs, including “Beechwood 4-5789,” “Playboy” and “Too Many Fish In The Sea.”

She was later replaced as lead singer for the group in 1965 by Wanda Young. Horton stayed with the group until 1967.

Horton is also survived by son, Sammy, 42.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Ledisi’s Working on Another Banger

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 27, 2011) *
Ledisi is back in the studio, making her fans another bomb album. As a follow-up to her very popular “Turn Me Loose,” the Grammy-nominated songbird is dedicating her sixth album to songwriting.

“The new album is based around songwriting. It’s very R&B, but not completely,” she says. “I always have to push it again. You won’t hear the heavy guitars anymore – you will hear a really nice sound from me.”

She continued, explaining this next project is going to be a little different than the rest. It will include a variety of styles.

“This album is so much easier because I had the experience with ‘Turn Me Loose’,” she says. “Now, I’m so into songwriting – it made it seem so easy. Now, I’ve learned to take a song and exhaust every possibility. It’s good to go everywhere around the world (with songwriting) to come back. Sometimes (the final one) is good, but the first one is better. It’s exhausting, but worth it. I feel like I’ve done everything with that song.”

Her sixth, untitled album is expected to drop some time next year.

Ice Cube in Concert

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 29, 2011) *
Ice Cube is a multi-talented man. He’s done the acting, producing and his first love, rapping. Although he hasn’t been had any hit records of late, he’s hasn’t forgotten his true nature.

The former NWA member – who is also the executive producer of the TBS sitcom “Are We There Yet?”just announced a 28-date national tour called “I Am the West.”

Check the winter tour dates below:

Feb. 24. Aspen, Colo., Belly Up Aspen
Feb. 25. Albuquerque, N.M., Sunshine Theatre
Feb. 26. Boulder, Colo., Boulder Theater
Mar. 1: Dallas, Texas, House of Blues
Mar. 2: Houston, Texas, House of Blues
Mar. 3: Baton Rouge, La., Varsity Theatre
Mar. 5: Atlanta, Ga., Center Stage
Mar. 6: Asheville, N.C., The Orange Peel
Mar. 7: Baltimore, Md., Bourbon Street
Mar. 8: New York, N.Y., B.B. King Blues Club
Mar. 10: South Burlington, Vt., Higher Ground Ballroom
Mar. 11: Buffalo, N.Y., The Town Ballroom
Mar. 12: Milwaukee, Wisc., – Eagles Ballroom
Mar. 13: Chicago, Ill., – MID
Mar. 15: Minneapolis, Minn., First Avenue
Mar. 17: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Tequila Nightclub
Mar. 18: Lethbridge, Alberta, Bully’s
Mar. 19: Calgary, Alberta, Flames Central
Mar. 22: Vancouver, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom
Mar. 23: Victoria, British Columbia, Club 9One9
Mar. 25: Portland, Oreg., Roseland Theater
Mar. 26: Seattle, Wash., Showbox at the Market
Mar. 27: Bend, Oreg., Midtown Rink
Mar. 29: Chico, Calif., Senator Theatre
Mar. 30: West Hollywood, Calif., House of Blues
Apr. 1: Anaheim, Calif., Grove of Anaheim

The New Motown Sound

Source: www.eurweb.com - Al-Lateef Farmer

(February 02, 2011) *Since the day Berry Gordy Jr. opened Hitsville U.S.A. at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. right on
through Eminem’s crashing of Pop Culture’s private party, Detroit has always influenced what America and by extension, the World was listening to. 2011 isn’t any different as The WowShane Radio Show is set to debut February 3rd and redefine the standard for internet radio.

The WowShane Radio Show is the brainchild of
Shane Carson (pictured), a former Marketing Executive-turned-actor with appearances on ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7” under his belt. Carson is sure to mix his Christian values, views on education and community reform, fatherhood, entrepreneurship, literature, music, and more into the show. He’s brought together a cast of personalities to enlighten and entertain, while tackling the issues of the day unlike anything you’ve tuned into before. Situated in the heart of Detroit, with correspondents across the country, The WowShane Radio Show aims to balance the national conversation with intelligent reporting, witty discourse and fresh eyes.

Starting Thursday, February 3rd, put the kids to bed early, pour a glass of wine and curl up with your lady or guy and log on to www.SVmixRadio.com at 9pm for a new experience in News, Culture, Fashion, Sports, Entertainment and Beauty. Or, if you’re single, you definitely want to tune in when the topic turns to Relationships and find out how to attract and keep that special someone. The WowShane Radio Show will be perfect after a long’s day work or before you head out for a night on the town with its social commentary providing the soundtrack for your life. Check out The WowShane Radio Show, debuting Thursday, February 3rd at 9pm on www.SVmixRadio.com.

The WowShane Radio has already invaded your favourite Social Networks; “Like” the show on Facebook, Follow on Twitter (@WowShaneRadio) and on MySpace (The WowShane Radio Show). Also, follow host, Shane Carson (@WowShane) for the latest updates, show topics and addition to the cast. For additional information, visit www.TheWowShaneRadioShow.com

About the writer

Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.blogspot.com/ or follow him on Twitter (@wrldacrdng2Teef)

Kool Herc Hospitalized and in Need of Financial Help

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 31, 2011) *The legendary DJ Kool Herc is a brother in need. He is hospitalized for an unrevealed condition and currently has no medical insurance. So DJ Premier announced on his radio show, “Live from the HeadQCourterz” that the legend is in need of financial assistance. While there’s no specific details on Herc’s illness, Premier claims that the hip-hop veteran’s condition is deteriorating, and that he’s without medical insurance. “Kool Herc is very sick,” Premier revealed. “For those that know about Hip-Hop, who we call the father of Hip-Hop, Kool Herc, is not doing well. It’s funny how we have a father of a culture that still lives, where as in some cultures they are dead and gone even though they may still be worshipped or reflected on in some kind of way [sic].” Herc, 55, is often credited as the father of Hip Hop, the creator of the breakbeat technique, and saviour of 1520 Sedgwick Ave. – the birthplace of the international phenomenon called Hip Hop. To make a donation to the help Kool Herc, send money to: Kool Herc Production, P.O. Box 20472, Huntington Station, NY 11746.

Intel Corp Taps Will.I.Am for Executive Position

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 26, 2011) *Black Eyed Peas frontman
will.i.am has teamed up with Intel Corp. to become the company’s new Director of Creative Innovation. The Grammy Award-winning musician will be assisting with the development of devices including laptops, smart phones and tablets, Intel announced Tuesday at their internal sales and marketing conference. Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, hopes to gain the attention of younger generations by incorporating both entertainment and technology, according to Deborah Conrad, the company’s head of marketing. Will.i. am will be involved in a multiyear collaboration with the technology giant, which is said to be a hands-on, creative partnership. Intel’s chips currently run more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers.

Chris Brown Rising to the Top

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 30, 2011) *Chris Brown has been moving forward after a hellacious whirlwind of drama. From his latest success with mixtape “Deuces” – to his forthcoming album F.A.M.E. and three Grammy nominations – he’s really getting himself back where he needs to be. Jive executive, Tom Carrabba shared some words about the singer/dancer: “I think when he was a little bit younger he was still trying to find his way a little bit and fine-tune his craft, but I think over the last two years he’s absolutely developed a confidence and is very secure in his decision-making process.” So far, so good. Now, all he has to do is stay out of Twitter fights with Raz-B.

TD Toronto Jazz Festival Returns To Its Roots

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(February 01, 2011) The TD Toronto Jazz Festival is going back to its Entertainment District roots for its 25th anniversary, using Metro Square for its mainstage headquarters from June 24 to July 3. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday for the Sony Centre performances of flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia (June 27) and Return to Forever IV featuring Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Frank Gambale with special guest Jean-Luc Ponty (June 28). Tickets $35-$89 at 1-855-872-7669. Banjo master Bela Fleck will appear with The Original Flecktones (Victor Wooten, Futureman and Howard Levy) June 30 at the mainstage. $40 at Ticketmaster. The complete festival lineup will be announced in April.

The White Stripes Split Up

Source: www.thestar.com - Nekesa Mumbi Moody

(February 02, 2011) NEW YORK—The
White Stripes are done. The rock duo announced Wednesday they are splitting up and “will make no further new recordings or perform live.” Jack White and Meg White say there are a “myriad of reasons” for the breakup, but the main reason is to “preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.” The last recording by the White Stripes was the live album Under the Great White Northern Lights, released last year. Over the years, Jack White has focused attention on other projects, including the bands the Dead Weather and the Raconteurs, as well as his Third Man Records, based in Nashville, Tenn.

Drake To Perform At Grammys

Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press


(February 02, 2011) For the second year in a row, Toronto rapper
Drake will perform at the Grammy Awards. The 24-year-old was among the latest spate of performers announced on Wednesday. He'll take the stage with Barbadian pop star Rihanna, a year after performing his hit "Forever" alongside Lil Wayne and Eminem. Other performers announced Wednesday include Cee Lo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Jim Henson Company Puppets. Drake has four nominations going into the show, which will be held Feb. 13 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Other Canuck nominees scheduled to perform include Arcade Fire and 16-year-old Justin Bieber. Eminem, who's up for 10 awards, is also scheduled to perform, as are Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Muse and Janelle Monae.

:FILM NEWS::

Donald Sutherland Reaches Elder-Statesman Status

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Bob Strauss

(January 28, 2011) LOS ANGELES — When
Donald Sutherland got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week it seemed, well, a little overdue.

The 75-year-old Canadian actor has been playing iconic roles for great filmmakers since the 1960s in such movies as Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen, Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, Alan Pakula's Klute, Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, Federico Fellini's Casanova, Robert Redford's Ordinary People, Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 and Richard Marquand's Eye of the Needle.

There were many more, of course. Since Sutherland left his childhood home in the Maritimes for university in Toronto, he seems to have barely taken a moment between acting on a stage or film set somewhere in the world.

In the next few weeks he’s on screen in both The Mechanic, a thriller that opened on Friday, and The Eagle, an upcoming film set in Roman-occupied second-century Britain. And he’ll probably appear in two or three more movies later this year.

Overdue or not, Sutherland was sincerely moved by his recent recognition and remains modest enough to crack jokes about his elder-statesman status.

How did it feel to get a star square on the Walk of Fame?

I was profoundly touched. The terrazzo squares have all these different pieces, of different colours. I've done 160 films, and I could see them all in the stone. It was the most fantastic sensation; people were standing up like holograms in my mind's eye. Richard Marquand stood up. Federico Fellini tipped his hat – Aw man, I loved him so much. Bob Aldrich was sitting there, Bernardo was there in his wheelchair. I was transfixed; it was thrilling.

And it's right next to your son Kiefer's – who's been acting for, what, half as many years as you have?

I've been paid to do this for 60 years. And naw, Kiefer hasn't been at it for half that time; but the time he's been doing it, he's done it really well! He would have been there Wednesday, except he's in New York doing That Championship Season [on Broadway] and couldn't get out of rehearsals. But he did send a little note, and Colin Farrell, who plays my son in [the upcoming film] Horrible Bosses, read it so beautifully.

So, no feelings of why'd it take them so long to get around to me?

I don't even think in those terms. You know, I'm just happy to be there. I've never been a central part of this community; I've never felt like I was, anyway, though I have wonderful friends here.

You seem like a pretty big part of the film and television world to us, constantly on one screen or another. Speaking of which, tell me about The Mechanic.

I thought [director] Simon West did a grand job. What could have been just a bang-up action film has this fascinating, for me, examination of the relationships between sons and fathers.

Anything special about playing all your scenes in a wheelchair?

Well, I played all my scenes in a wheelchair. …

One thing special. When I'm trying to escape, I get to a landing and I say, “Oh my God, there are stairs.” The stunt co-ordinator wanted me to roll out, throw the wheelchair down and drag myself down the stairs. But I couldn't for a moment believe that a person in a wheelchair would do that and risk ruining their chair. So I turned the chair around, grabbed both banisters and rolled it down. The stunt co-ordinator was yelling “Stop, stop, stop!” I said, “Leave me alone!” I'm very proud of it, actually; you don't see that often.

Tell us about your Roman military man in The Eagle.

The man I play is part of a particular school. He's racist, in a sense, but because he's at war and the Britons are the enemy. I loved it. It's wonderful to work with a director [The Last King of Scotland's Kevin Macdonald] who has an exquisite sensibility and is driven passionately.

Then we'll see you in the Canadian remake of the French film The Man on the Train, the Balkan espionage thriller Sofia, that big comedy Horrible Bosses. Ever think, at this point, of taking a rest?

Most of the parts that I play these days, I get hired to come in and say: “Hi, how are you? I have a terminal disease;” or “Hi, it's so nice to be here. I think I'll get into my car and have a heart attack.” People say, “How can you do that?” I say, “Cramming for my finals.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Today Bruce Greenwood, Tomorrow Rising Stars

Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(January 27, 2011) LOS ANGELES - Get ready for the next generation of homegrown screen stars. On Thursday
at a poolside celebration at the residence of Canada’s consul-general in Los Angeles, the Toronto International Film Festival seized a chance to announce an intriguing new program called Rising Stars.

As Cameron Bailey, the festival’s co-director confessed, TIFF was piggybacking on an annual event that focuses on a Canadian star who has already risen on both sides of the border.

This year the spotlight was on veteran actor
Bruce Greenwood, who at 54 is much in demand, both in Los Angeles, where he lives most of the year, and in Canada. He is the latest recipient of something called the ACTRA Award of Excellence, handed out annually to one of the 400 members of the L.A. branch of the Canadian performers’ union.

“Maybe there should be a program for fading stars,” quipped Greenwood, but no one would believe for a moment he belongs in that category. At the moment, he can be seen in Barney’s Version, in which he plays Blair — the smooth operator who woos Miriam away from the title character, played by Paul Giamatti.

Richard J. Lewis, who directed the screen version of Mordecai Richler’s final novel, was among the guests who turned up for the event. The hosts, consul-general David Fransen and his wife, Barbara, billed the event as a tea party — but they didn’t mean the kind that has dogged Barack Obama.

Other familiar faces smiling favourably at Greenwood were Gordon Pinsent, Wendy Crewson and Jason Priestley.

With this award, Greenwood thus joins a small club that includes previous winners Lloyd Bochner, Kiefer Sutherland, Leslie Nielsen, Tonya Lee Williams, Sandra Oh and Eugene Levy.

As for TIFF’s Rising Stars program, the idea is to help launch the Bruce Greenwoods of the future by offering help to talented young Canadian actors who might in the future be able to cross borders in the increasingly global TV and movie industry.

The first four, to be chosen later this year, will be showcased in September at Toronto’s annual film festival.

Greenwood, who grew up in Vancouver and still likes to spend months enjoying outdoor sports activities in B.C., is known not only for three Atom Egoyan movies but for frequent big roles in the U.S., such as Dinner for Schmucks, Star Trek and Capote.

One of his toughest acting assignments was playing John F. Kennedy in 13 Days, about the Cuban missile crisis.

After accepting the award from ACTRA president Ferne Downey, Greenwood chose to recall less glittery times when he was waiting on a little metal chair in a CBC Vancouver building to audition for a two-line part in The Beachcombers.

“It is only through the efforts of ACTRA that many of us have been able to make a living,” he said.

Greenwood has always had a taste for danger, such as riding a motorcycle, but he’s also known for saying things that some people would prefer not to hear, such as his comments on live TV that CTV was not doing enough to promote its own projects.

There was a hint of that at Wednesday’s ceremony, as Greenwood said it is time for Canadians to “champion our own material in our own country” without worrying about how it will be received by potential buyers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Greenwood confessed he has one unfulfilled ambition — to get a chance to sing in a big-screen musical.

Resident Evil: Afterlife Is Top-Grossing Canadian Flick

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By JAMES ADAMS

(February 01, 2011) Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth instalment in the popular thriller-horror franchise starring Milla Jovovich, was the top-performing Canadian film in domestic theatres last year, grossing a total of just less than $7-million.

The success of Afterlife, a Canadian-German co-production shot in stereoscopic 3-D in Toronto, was responsible for 21 per cent of the $33.5-million total earned by Canadian films in the country's multiplexes in 2010, according to statistics from Montreal sales tracker Zoom Services for the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada. Released last September, Afterlife also has grossed almost $300-million worldwide, toppling Porky's, a 1982 release, as the most successful Canadian-produced movie ever.

Expectations are understandably high that Afterlife will score several nominations when the short list for the 31st annual Genie Awards is announced Wednesday in Toronto and Montreal. The 2004 instalment, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, won a Genie for sound editing.

Over all, Canadian films grossed about 3.3 per cent of the $1.031-billion Canadians spent on movie admissions last year, a slight increase from 2009.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest box-office performer domestically, regardless of nationality, was Avatar, directed by Canadian-born James Cameron. The futuristic science-fiction thriller, already the world's box-office champ with earnings of $3-billion, grossed almost $96-million here, more than twice the $36.4-million taken in by its nearest rival, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Finishing third was Chris Nolan's thriller Inception with a $33.2-million gross, closely followed by Toy Story 3 ($32.6-million). Another Hollywood feature, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, claimed fifth spot, pulling $27.7-million from Canadian wallets and purses.

As ever, Quebec-made francophone films dominated the domestic box office, taking six of the top 10 positions dollar-wise - seven if one includes the Celine Dion documentary Celine: Through the Eyes of the World, which grossed 82 per cent of its $1.04-million box office in Quebec. Finishing second behind Resident Evil: Afterlife was Piché: Entre ciel et terre, a biopic, directed by Sylvain Archambault, about the troubled life of Air Transat pilot Robert Piché. Its $3.7-million box office was accumulated almost entirely in Quebec.

The same for Denis Villeneuve's Oscar-nominated Incendies, which, while having a major English-Canada release only last month, went into Quebec theatres last September, shortly after its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It finished third with a gross of more than $2.5-million.

The other English-language Canadian films in the top 10 were Splice, starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody ($2.14-million, fifth place), and Terry Gilliam's fantastical The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus ($1.57-million, seventh place).

Confirmed: Jay-Z to Produce ‘Annie’ Remake with Willow Smith

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 26, 2011) *It’s now official.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has signed a deal to co-produce a new movie based on the Broadway musical Annie with Willow Smith in the lead role.

Jay-Z has signed a deal with Willow’s parents Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith and their partners at Overbrook Entertainment for a joint-venture to develop and produce major motion pictures – the first being  Annie.

The partnership between Will, Jada and Jay-Z began when the three decided to invest in the beauty line Carol’s Daughter. They next joined forces = to co-produce the Broadway play “Fela!” Since then, Willow, who is managed by Overbrook’s Miguel Melendez, has signed to Roc Nation and released first single “Whip My Hair.”

“The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision. We’ve already produced a Tony Award-winning play and we’re developing a true superstar in Willow,” said Jay-Z in a statement. “This venture into film development and production is a perfect next step with teams that are accomplished, creative and innovative.”

Video: Fur? No Sir – Taraji P. Henson Would Rather Go Naked

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 27, 2011) *Actress and all around hot mama,
Taraji P. Henson, has joined the crowd stripped bucky naked for PETA.

Like Nia Long, Eva Mendes, Chad Ochocinco and other celebs, Henson decided to endorse PETA’s “I’d Rather go Naked” anti-fur campaign. Her ad will be officially unveiled at PETA’S New York Fashion Week party on February 10.

“Before I saw that documentary … I would wear fur,” Henson says in a PETA interview. “But I saw this documentary, and I was riveted. I cried. I don’t think a living being should suffer for the sake of fashion, period. You don’t have to kill an animal just because you want to be hot and fly. And I really stand by that.”

British Actor Henry Cavill Cast As Next Superman

Source: www.thestar.com

(January 30, 2011) LOS ANGELES—British actor Henry Cavill, will finally get to don Superman’s cape in the new Man of Steel movie, its distributor said Sunday, almost a decade after he failed to make the cut for the previous film.

Cavill, 27, will play the dual roles of mild-mannered newspaperman Clark Kent and his high-flying alter ego in the film, which Warner Bros. will release in December 2012.

Its formal title has not been announced yet.

Zack Snyder (“300”) will direct from a script written by David S. Goyer and based on a story that Goyer developed with “Inception” director Christopher Nolan, who will serve as a producer.

Cavill is perhaps best known for his role as Charles Brandon, the brother-in-law of Henry VIII, in the royal drama “The Tudors.”

He was a main contender for “Superman Returns” when Joseph “McG” Nichol was attached as director. But when McG exited the project in 2004 and Bryan Singer signed on, Brandon Routh was subsequently cast.

Singer’s film, released in 2006, grossed about $391 million at the worldwide box office, a disappointment given its reported $215 million cost. An executive at Time Warner Inc -owned Warner Bros. later said the film “didn’t quite work . . . in the way that we wanted it to.”

Cavill, born in the Channel Islands, is the latest actor with British ties to take on the role of an iconic American superhero.

Andrew Garfield, born in Los Angeles but raised in England, was last year cast as the lead in a reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise, which is due out in July 2012.

SAG Awards Give The King’s Speech Another Oscar Boost

Source: www.globeandmail.com - David Germain, The Associated Press

(January 31, 2011) Los Angeles— The King's Speech won the best-actor trophy Sunday for Colin Firth and a second honour for its overall cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The two prizes capped a weeklong surge of Hollywood honours for the British monarchy saga, which is building momentum for the Feb. 27 Academy Awards, where the Facebook drama The Social Network previously had looked like the favourite.

Natalie Portman earned the best-actress award at the Screen Actors ceremony for Black Swan, while The Fighter co-stars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo swept the supporting-acting honours, boosting their own prospects come Oscar night.

The King's Speech leads Oscar contenders with 12 nominations, among them best picture and actor for Firth, who has been the awards favourite virtually since the film premiered at festivals half a year ago.

“Until today, I would say probably, if ever I felt that I had a trophy which has told me that something's really happening for me, it was my SAG card,” said Firth, who plays Queen Elizabeth's dad, George VI, as he takes the throne in the 1930s while struggling to overcome a debilitating stammer.

“Growing up in England, it's not something you expect to see in your wallet, really,” Firth continued. “And so it has this glow, and I used to flash it around, hoping it would get me female attention, entry into nightclubs and top-level government departments. It didn't.”

Many winners had gushing words for the protection and fellowship their union offers.

“I've been working since I was 11 years old, and SAG has taken care of me,” said Portman, who won for her role as a ballerina losing her grip on reality. “They made sure I wasn't working too long and made sure I got an education while I was working.”

Bale is a strong favourite for the supporting-actor Oscar as real-life fighter Dicky Eklund, whose career unravelled amid drugs and crime. Eklund briefly joined Bale on stage, the actor telling him he's “a real gentleman.”

“I love acting. I love what we do,” Bale said. “It's so bloody silly at times, isn't it? It's like playing dress-up, and other times it is so meaningful. I just enjoy that so much – we get to walk in other people's shoes. Life without empathy is no fun at all. “ Leo, who plays the domineering matriarch of Eklund and half brother Micky Ward's boxing family in The Fighter, was speechless for a long moment after taking the stage.

“I'm much better when I have my words written for me and somebody's costumes to put on,” said Leo, 50, an Oscar nominee two years ago for Frozen River who had success earlier in her career on TV's Homicide: Life on the Street but has caught a second wind at an age when many actresses find roles scarce. “This has been an extraordinary season for me.”

Betty White, who is having her own career resurgence in her 80s, won for TV comedy actress for Hot in Cleveland.

“I must say this is the biggest surprise I've ever had in this business. There wasn't a prayer. I am so lucky to be ... at 89, to be working ...,” White said, pausing as the crowd interrupted her with effusive applause. “You didn't applaud when I turned 40.”

Alec Baldwin won his fifth-straight guild award for best actor in a comedy series for 30 Rock.

“I don't know what to say. This is ridiculous. I'm so happy,” Baldwin said. “We've had a great year with the show.”

Modern Family won for overall cast performance in a TV comedy.

Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire and Julianna Margulies of The Good Wife won as best actors in a TV drama. Boardwalk Empire, a Prohibition-era gangster series, also won for overall TV drama cast performance.

Buscemi's thanks included a shout out and congratulations to Martin Scorsese, who won a Directors Guild of America Award prize the night before for directing the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire. Scorsese was ill and unable to attend.

“Marty, we love you. We hope you feel better, and we love working with you. Please come back,” Buscemi said.

Margulies had warm words for her in-laws “for producing truly the most spectacular human being, who I get to call my husband.”

Before the show began, the guild presented its award for film stunt ensemble to the sci-fi blockbuster Inception and the TV stunt prize to the vampire drama True Blood.

The Social Network, chronicling the rise of Facebook, had been the early Oscar favourite for best-picture, named the year's top drama by key critics groups and the Golden Globes.

But The King's Speech has surged forward in the past week, pulling upset wins at the Directors Guild and Producers Guild awards and leading the Oscar field at last Tuesday's nominations. The Social Network had two SAG nominations but came away empty-handed.

Last year's individual winners at the guild awards – Bridges for Crazy Heart, Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, Mo'nique for Precious and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds – all went on to win at the Oscars.

The cast prize, considered the guild's equivalent of a best-picture honour, has a spotty record at predicting the top Oscar winner.

The recipient of the guild's cast award has gone on to claim best-picture at the Oscars only seven of 15 years since SAG added that prize. Last year's guild cast recipient, Inglourious Basterds, lost out to The Hurt Locker in the Oscar best-picture race.

The 17th annual SAG Awards, held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, included a life-achievement honour for Ernest Borgnine.

“We are a privileged few who have been chosen to work in this field of entertainment,” said the 94-year-old Borgnine, whose award was preceded by a tribute including clips from his Oscar-winning performance in 1955's Marty through his role in last fall's action comedy Red. “I hope that we will never let our dedication to our craft fail, that we will always give the best we possibly can to our profession.”

FILM TIDBITS

Gervais Says Golden Globes Has Asked Him To Return

Source: www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(February 01, 2011) NEW YORK—Ricky Gervais says that despite the acrimony over his job hosting the Golden Globes, he was asked to consider returning next year. In a diary of his experience hosting the Globes for Heat magazine, Gervais says that organizers asked him to "consider a third year." Gervais said he was inclined to turn it down because he doesn't know what he could do better. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association presents the Globes and didn't immediately comment Tuesday. Gervais's hosting job in January was his second time around. It quickly became infamous because of the pointed jokes he made about many Hollywood stars. Association president Philip Berk earlier said Gervais "definitely crossed the line." The NBC broadcast drew nearly 17 million viewers. That was slightly more than last year's.

Barney's Version Nabs 11 Genie Noms

Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(February 02, 2011) Paul Giamatti, who stars as Barney Panofsky in the big-screen adaptation of Mordecai
Richler's Barney’s Version, received a Genie nomination in the best actor category. The film picked up a leading 11 nominations. Co-star Dustin Hoffman, who plays his father, is up for best supporting actor. Close behind Barney's Version was Denis Villeneuve's Incendies, which received 10 nominations. The film, about twins who uncover secrets of their mother's past, was nominated for an Academy Award last week. Other films scoring multiple Genie nominations included Splice, Heartbeats and The Trotsky. The Genie Awards, which honour the best in Canadian film, will be handed out in Ottawa on March 10. Villeneuve swept the Genies last year with Polytechnique, his haunting black-and-white account of the Montreal massacre.

::TV NEWS::\

CBC Promises 10 Annual ‘Signature’ Events In 5-Year Plan

Source: www.thestar.com - Bruce DeMara

(February 01, 2011) The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is promising to provide “overwhelmingly Canadian content” during prime time on all of its broadcast platforms and to air at least 10 “signature events” annually on both English and French networks as part of a new five-year strategy.

The plan also promises to double its investment in digital services and new platforms, to launch new radio stations and local and regional websites, and to beef up its local and regional news services.

In addition, the public broadcaster is promising to deliver a major documentary series and website on Canada’s aboriginal people within 12 months.

To fund the ambitious range of new programming, the CBC plans to grow advertising revenue by 2.8 per cent annually, above the industry forecast of 2.4 per cent. The network is already in the process of reviewing both operating and capital budgets to find savings.

“We want to be recognized by Canadians as the leader in expressing Canadian culture and enriching democracy on their behalf. This is what will drive all of our actions over the next five years,” CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Hubert Lacroix said in a statement.

Taraji P. Henson’s ‘Taken From Me’ Premieres on Lifetime

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 31, 2011) *Taraji P. Henson returns to her old stomping grounds at Lifetime tonight to star inTaken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story,” a made-for-TV movie based on the true story of a mother who plots to rescue her 6-year-old son after he’s abducted by his father.

The Oscar nominated actress previously starred as a police inspector on Lifetime’s “The Division.”

Below, she talks to TV Guide about “Taken From Me,” which begins at 9 p.m. tonight

TV Guide Magazine: Why did you decide to play this part?

Henson: Even before I read the script, I said, “I want to do it!” I just felt for [Tiffany Rubin] and for all mothers going through this. It came to me for a reason. I wanted to give it life.

TV Guide Magazine: Have you met Tiffany?

Henson: I did get to talk with her on the phone. She’s a brave woman. It was exciting and scary to portray someone real and know that person is still alive.

TV Guide Magazine: How did you get along with co-star Terry O’Quinn (Lost), who plays a child advocate?

Henson: We did a lot of laughing! You have to laugh in between takes when you’re doing such a serious piece, or then you just want to slit your wrists.

TV Guide Magazine: What’s next for you?

Henson: [I'm] looking to do more comedies. I’ve been doing these serious roles for so long that it’s time to laugh a little.

Is the TV racket built on lies? Ask a Friend

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By John Doyle

(January 31, 2011) In meeting and dealing with the Hollywood end of the TV racket - the really big end of all things TV - the best approach is a sense of humour and a firm belief that lies are told at every turn.

It's all so drenched in pretence, money, power and ego. Absurdly so. And then there's the sheer weirdness of the factory-production side of making TV. While in Los Angeles recently for the TV Critics' Press Tour, in the usual luxury hotel (discounted for the wretches of the print racket), I saw the absurdity playing out every hour of every day.

Looking out the window of my room one day, I saw that NBC had set up a studio beneath, on the hotel grounds. It was where the stars of current and upcoming series would be interviewed for promos to appear on local NBC stations across the United States. There was a large team of people involved. The host, a lady in frighteningly high heels, told everybody that their new show was "wonderful," absolutely going to be a huge hit.

Lies are the oxygen of the TV racket. Nobody tells anybody the truth.

This is a key part of the fun on
Episodes (TMN, Movie Central, 9 p.m.), a very droll satire of the TV racket in L.A. Mainly it's about Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig), an English couple persuaded to remake their British hit series about a hoity-toity boys' school for a U.S. network.

It turns out that the network boss who gushed about their show hadn't actually seen it. They are told the U.S. version won't change anything, but on arriving in L.A. they discover that the key character - an elderly, witty headmaster - will be played by
Matt LeBlanc. Yes, Joey from Friends.

On the show - episode 4 of 6 is tonight - everything said by executives or actors, especially LeBlanc, is an exaggeration, an outright untruth or a reason to set up another half-truth. It's funny and deeply cynical.

So, as I was in L.A., I talked to Matt LeBlanc about playing Matt LeBlanc on this daft show, with all its cutting mockery of the TV racket.

On the way to meet him, I run into David Duchovny, who is surrounded by publicists as he's taken to do interviews for Californication. Duchovny looks highly irritated, the picture of fed-upness. Thus I'm pleased to find that LeBlanc isn't fed up at all. In fact he's got this utterly calm air about him. Maybe that comes with earning $100-million from Friends and not having worked in film or TV for five years. He's 43 now and his hair is grey, but he still looks very much like Joey Tribbiani about 10 years on.

I tell him that Duchovny looked irritated, and ask LeBlanc if he's fed up with the interviews and attention.

"No," he says emphatically, as if his professional honour has been sullied. "I'm a bit tired of hearing the sound of my own voice, but this is what you do. You talk up the show. I just don't know if I'm saying anything interesting about it at this point."

Did he worry at all about playing "Matt LeBlanc" as an empty-headed schemer who boasts about the size of his penis and more?

"Uh, no. It's not me. Also, I don't have a private jet, which I do have on Episodes. I've got a farm near Santa Barbara. But no jet. And I don't talk on the phone and text when I'm in a restaurant. I do that all the time on the show. I don't do that. It's rude. I'm a low-key guy, and Matt LeBlanc on the show is a big personality and loud. But I don't mind being the brunt of a joke."

So, if the Matt LeBlanc on Episodes is so distant from the real Matt LeBlanc, is Episodes unfair to L.A. and the TV racket?

"No, no way. It's sending it up. People say Episodes is based on real stories, but I don't know about that. It's just about the business. People being lied to. People being messed around. One of the reasons I'm tired of hearing the sound of my own voice is that I keep telling people I think that material is true of any industry. There's always a boss and people are afraid of the boss. They tell lies to please the boss. They say 'yes' to the boss all the time. Not just in Hollywood."

Anything else he's tired of talking about?

At this, LeBlanc gives me one of those looks that breach the air of calm that envelops him.

"Just in general," I say, to reassure him. "You mean like being asked about a Friends reunion happening? That comes with the territory. Friends was huge, a big part of the culture for a long time. People ask and I say, 'I think probably not.' Which is the truth."

Finally, as we've only got a few minutes, I ask LeBlanc about having made a good deal of Episodes in Britain. The show sets up a stark contrast between British and L.A.-based sensibilities, so was there anything different about working in the TV business in Britain?

"Nobody has ever asked me that," he says, perking up. "You know, there was one difference. The craft table when we were shooting. Here, the food is on the table all day. People hang around there and eat all the time. Over there the food comes at certain times. It's not just there all the time. Over there you had to wait for hours before the tray of mystery-meat sandwiches came. Maybe they get more work done because people aren't eating all day."

I tell him that's a good story, a worthwhile anecdote.

"It is?" he asks.

And I say, "Sure it is." I'm not lying.

Check local listings.

Matthew Perry Basks In Sunshine As He Returns To Situation Comedy

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(January 31, 2011) Chandler is back. Sort of.

Matthew Perry stood out on the cast of Friends thanks to his likeable manner and smart comedic timing. Next week, he returns to situation comedy, this time playing a more evolved form of wiseacre on the new show Mr. Sunshine, which casts him as the dyspeptic fortysomething manager of a semi-successful sports arena called The Sunshine Center.

Perry was born in Williamstown, Mass., to actor John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Perry (the former press secretary to Pierre Trudeau), his parents divorced when he was still an infant and his mother moved the family to Ottawa. There, he pursued a dream of becoming a tennis pro (at one point he was a nationally ranked player). But those dreams later shifted to acting when he moved to Los Angeles in his late teens and promptly began getting parts in films such as A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon and in TV series including Second Chance and Home Free. Then came Friends, which premiered in 1994 and launched Perry to international stardom.

While working on the show, he also made films such as The Whole Nine Yards, Serving Sara and 17 Again. And he has demonstrated solid dramatic chops in the TV-movie The Ron Clark Story and the short-lived series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

For Mr. Sunshine, Perry also boldly took on the task of co-creating the concept. He spoke on the phone from Los Angeles about his return to sitcom, and why people who are happy are boring to watch on TV.

On Mr. Sunshine, you’re listed as co-creator, executive producer and writer – and you’re playing the title character. How difficult is it to wear four creative hats on a show?

I sort of learned as I went along. The most important thing is to surround yourself with smart people, so you can delegate different things to them. The first day, I didn’t really know what I was doing. You learn to focus while you’re just acting, so your performance doesn’t suffer, hopefully. And I am actually currently wearing four hats.

Seriously, why push yourself so hard?

I wanted to see if my mind worked in the kind of way that could be in charge and face the page as a writer and watch actors and maybe try to help them out a little bit, or think of funny things for them to say. And you know, I was living a pretty stagnant life. I was playing the same video game for about two years in a row so I figured I should maybe try to challenge myself creatively.

And what have you learned about creating a sitcom?

Honestly, the thing I found so surprising, which will sort of flaunt my former ignorance, is just how much goes into making a TV show. I really had no idea how difficult it was. The amount of behind-the-scenes things.

Does being funny come naturally to you?

Maybe. I’ve always tried to break up awkward moments with a joke. I’ve done that since I was a child and I got kicked out of school a lot, and then I finally found a profession where you get paid to do that.

Describe your new TV role of arena manager Ben Donovan.

When you meet Ben, he’s pretty much been thinking about himself his entire life and he thinks he’s a happy guy. He learns rather quickly that the secret to being happy and maybe gaining some inner peace is to care about your fellow man and to care about others.

How do you personally relate to the character?

I spent a great deal of my 20s certainly and the bulk of my 30s a little self-obsessed. And it was in changing that in my own life that I thought would make an interesting character. It’s like watching the 9,000 mistakes a man like that will make trying to transition himself from being a selfish guy to a nice, normal person.

How is Ben different from Chandler on Friends?

It’s tough because we look almost exactly alike. That’s the first hurdle right there, although I look a little older now. But I feel like the character I’m doing in this show is a little more beaten down and the comedy is a little bit smaller. He has a bit less nervous energy.

What is the comparison between working on a four-camera sitcom like Friends and a single-camera show like Mr. Sunshine?

I’ve always believed a four-camera show breeds bigger performances because they’re putting on a different one-act play every week. In a four-camera show, you immediately know whether a joke works, because 200 people are laughing. In a one-camera show, it’s more of a discussion between the creative players whether something is working or not. You know you’ve really hit something well if the camera man shakes or you have the crew laughing.

The new pilot of Mr. Sunshine is slightly different from the one shown to TV critics last summer. What changed?

The original pilot had more dramatic overtones to it and we lightened my character of Ben up. Just lightening the tone of the show and the tone of my character. I wanted to play a guy who was whistling in the dark about his own happiness and then got jolted and had to change. I think that people who are happy or not in conflict are very boring people to watch.

Why set a sitcom in a sports arena?

When you’re setting up to do a comedy, you want a place where a lot of interesting, funny things can go through it. If you click on events on the website for Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center in L.A., or for some of the lower-tier arenas, you’ll be surprised how they fill it up each night. There’s things like lingerie football, dog shows, motocross and religious events. All things that would make sense to come through the doors of the Sunshine Center. I thought that was an interesting venue for comedy.

Is there something about growing up in Canada that enables you to play an arena manager?

You know, I didn’t think of that. I made sure that hockey was one of the first things we dealt with because I was from Canada and I was actually born with hockey skates on, which was unbelievably painful for my mother. How excited I would be to go to an arena every day certainly played a part in all this. The question I thought you were going to ask, which I’m always asked, is “Why are Canadians so funny?”

And?

I think that, as a group, we’re very, very polite and all very dry and sort of sarcastic, and maybe it has to do with how cold it is there. You just have to joke about it.

Like your Mr. Sunshine co-star, Allison Janney, you've worked on a show created by Aaron Sorkin, who recently earned an Oscar nod for penning The Social Network. What’s unique about his words?

I played a comedy writer on an Aaron Sorkin show, and that’s one of the reasons I decided I might want to actually want to try it myself because it seemed like a really fun world. Working with Aaron is great and it’s also terrible, because you know you’ll probably never be able to work with anybody better, writer-wise.

Your ex-castmate Matt Leblanc spoofs his former Friends persona of Joey in the new cable series Episodes. Have you watched it?

Yes, I’ve seen it. It looks like they’re playing it for comedy, but they’re pretty much nailing what that exact experience is like. For me personally, it’s very, very fun to watch Matt just kill it and be really funny. And he looks really good too, which I find annoying.

Mr. Sunshine premieres on Feb. 7 on CTV at 8 p.m. and on Feb. 9 on ABC at 9:30 p.m.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Sarah Shahi’s New Series Is The Real Deal

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(January 30, 2011) It doesn’t require a lot of convincing — Fairly Legal is an easy sell. The new legal dramedy (a lawdemy, perhaps?) debuts Monday night at 10 on Showcase, starring Sarah Shahi (Life, The L Word) as Kate Reed, a former lawyer with an uncanny gift for conflict resolution . . . in everything, it would seem, except her own life.

There are obvious unresolved issues in Kate’s volatile relationship with district attorney and soon-to-be (maybe) ex-husband Justin (Michael Trucco from Battlestar Galactica), with her late father’s surviving partner/second wife Lauen (Virginia Williams, How I Met Your Mother), with an irascible judge with a grudge (the incomparably cranky Gerald McRaney).

You’ve got to love this girl. Why else would anyone put up with her?

“She is pretty driven,” Shahi acknowledges. “Kate has a very sort of frenetic energy and I think the show wanted to highlight that. With Kate you kind of have no choice.”

The role seems almost tailor-made for Shahi, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who made a splash as The L Word’s Carmen de la Pica Morales, then played it relatively straight as the essentially humourless partner to eccentric detective Damian Lewis in Life.

Kate Reed, she says, is the closest yet to herself.

“I do have a lot of things in common with her,” Shahi says, “though emotionally she and I are completely different.

“The character is pretty much as written. It’s great writing — I guess I was the one who just came in and inhabited her heart. But it’s been a really wonderful working experience, because our creator, Michael Sardo, has been so open to my ideas and my suggestions. We’re encouraged to go off book. There is so much to be discovered when you’re not married to the script.”

And so much in the script to begin with. The Fairly Legal pilot succeeds, with surprisingly minimal exposition, in very quickly setting up the back story, establishing the various other characters and conflicts to bring us up to speed on Kate Reed.

“The show does a really great job of bringing in all the other characters,” Shahi agrees. “And the characters are so rich . . . whichever one you’re a particular fan of, you will get episodes where that character is particularly heavy and you will get to know more about that character . . . and of course about Kate.

“She’s very childlike . . . in her personal life, the issues with her ex-husband, her step-mom, her lack of being able to confront her dad’s death. . . .Kate is so strong and so good at what she does . . . she’s a fighter, but when it comes to these internal issues, she’s very emotionally immature. She doesn’t know how to behave.”

It can be, Shahi admits, exhausting.

“She is a force,” the actress laughs. “I’m pounding the Coke Zeros at six o’clock in the morning, just trying to keep up with her. You will notice a lot of Wizard of Oz references in the show (her cellphone ringtones, for example). Well, Kate is both Dorothy and the tornado at the same time.

“She has so much going on internally that she doesn’t want to sit still. Because that’s when her issues come up. It’s easier for her to just throw herself into her work. We’ve all experienced that for ourselves at one time or another. I know I have.”

But sometimes it works the other way around. When her last series, Life, was nearing death, Shahi had already emotionally moved on — to focus on the imminent birth of her first child, William Wolf Howey, now 18 months old.

“At the time, I was about six-and-a-half months pregnant, so I couldn’t do the hours. When the show ended, I was in La-La Land. I was wanting to be home, I was wanting to nest . . . I was hormonal and I was ready to be a mommy.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever celebrated a cancellation. The timing couldn’t have been better.”

Except that now she has to negotiate the working hours of a series lead with the demands of mothering a toddler — the Fairly Legal pilot was shot when William was four months old and the series was picked up six months later.

“He’s been with me pretty much since the beginning of this,” Shahi says. “I take him with me everywhere. But as a working parent, you’re always going to feel guilty.

“I try to be there as much as I can. It’s a challenge. I mean, babies don’t sleep in just because mom got off work at 2 in the morning.

“But then, as my mom used to say, ‘I can sleep when I’m dead.’”

TV TIDBITS

Video: Isaiah Mustafa Plugs New Old Spice Ads

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 26, 2011) "Hello ladies. I have returned." *Shirtless
Isaiah Mustafa and his trusty towel are back in a new slate of Old Spice commercials set to debut during the Super Bowl. Old Spice has been posting short Mustafa video responses to fans on YouTube for the past several months, but come Feb. 7, the actor promises a series of new ads whose “entertainment value is second to none.” Watch the “trailer” below.

   

Will Ferrell To Cameo On ‘The Office’

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Associated Press

(January 27, 2011)
Will Ferrell is coming to The Office. Ferrell will play a visiting branch manager over an arc of several episodes. NBC announced the casting Wednesday with the promise that Ferrell's character will be “just as inappropriate” as Steve Carell's Michael Scott. Carell's farewell is expected four episodes before the season finale of The Office. In preparation of his exit, NBC is bringing in high-profile guests, including The Office creator Ricky Gervais, reprising his role as David Brent. Gervais will make a cameo in Thursday's episode, which airs at 9 p.m. EST.

All Five ‘View’ Co-Hosts to Appear on ‘Oprah’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 31, 2011) *Whoopi Goldberg announced on “The View” that all five of the co-hosts will fly to Chicago to appear as a unit on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters will join Goldberg for the rare joint interview scheduled to air on Feb. 11. Whoopi said to stay tuned to “The View” for updates on the “Oprah” taping.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Savion Glover: From Hoop Dreams To Hoofin’

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(February 02, 2011) The late, great Gregory Hines called
Savion Glover the greatest tap dancer in the world, and at 37, Glover certainly has the marquee name.

He was a Broadway prodigy at 12 (The Tap Dance Kid), nominated for a Tony Award at 15 (Black and Blue), and won a Tony at 22 (Bring in ’da Noise/Bring in ’da Funk). His diverse credits include being a regular on Sesame Street for five years, appearing with Barbra Streisand on her Timeless tour, and choreographing the penguins in the animated movie Happy Feet.

Glover’s tap journey has taken him from showbiz virtuoso to world-acclaimed innovator. He’s bringing his latest “concert” tap show, SoLo iN TiME, to both Toronto and Ottawa this weekend.

Raised by his single mother in Newark, N.J., Glover’s first tap shoes were a pair of old cowboy boots. He claims that tap dance saved him from a life of crime. The Globe caught up with Glover in Newark where he still makes his home with his wife and son, and where he has established his tap dance school.

Were you always a dancer?

No. I wanted to be a basketball player for the New York Knicks. I had no aspirations about dance. In fact, by the time I was 10, I was a drummer in a rock band that was getting gigs in the Tri-State area.

So when did tap dance replace your hoop dreams?

In my teens, when I started to hang out with the forgotten masters of the art form like Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown and Lon Chaney. These hoofers survived the times when being a black man was to be dehumanized. They overcame. It was a life-changing experience. I’m just going along with God’s plan, which is to make sure that their contribution is never forgotten.

How did you get on Broadway so young?

My mother always kept me and my brothers active. She signed us up for dance classes when I was 7 at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York. My teacher there arranged for an audition with Henry LeTang, the choreographer of The Tap Dance Kid.

You call yourself a musician who tap dances. What exactly do you mean?

I’m always thinking about the art form, and where it can go because I want to honour the innovators who came before me. That’s why I present dance in concert form. I wanted to get rid of the tap stereotype, the splashy steps and wide smile, the visual spectacle. A concert show is about hearing the dance as music – understanding tap as music. I express myself through tap sounds, but I want the audience to listen. Tap is sound, and sound is dance. I want them to see sound.

So that means that music is the point of departure. What was the inspiration for SoLo iN TiME, the show you’re bringing to Toronto and Ottawa?

Flamenco music. There are two hoofers, myself and Marshall Davis, Jr., a bass guitarist, and a cajon player. A cajon is the percussive resonating box used in flamenco music. I regard these concert shows as timeless. I can always go back to them and find more inspiration just by changing the music. In Classical Savion, it was classical music. In Bare Soundz, there wasn’t even music, just me and two other dancers. I could do all these different productions forever. I know how to maintain the vibe.

Your tap school in Newark is not a traditional dance school.

No. For the first two years, we concentrate on history, because learning about history makes us better human beings. We teach about the men and women who changed the life of dance. The students see films and read articles. They also learn to express themselves as individuals. Not every student is going to end up on the wood as a hoofer, but they’ll understand the art form, know the pioneers, and learn about the sacredness of dance. One day, they will be the ones who get the pictures of tap dance pioneers on stamps and money.

You call yourself a hoofer and not a dancer, even in the concert programs. What’s the difference?

A dancer performs as a means of income. For a hoofer, dance is a way of life. A hoofer bares his soul through his art.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Savion Glover’s SoLo iN TiME appears at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on Friday and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Saturday.

Mirvish Has Cattrall

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(February 02, 2011) The Mirvish Organization plans to announce their 2011-2012 season next week and while
it’s bound to have some dandy surprises in it, let’s not forget that I’ve already leaked three choice show specimens in columns over the past few months.

First off,
Kim Cattrall will be returning to a Canadian stage for the first time in many years when she recreates her acclaimed West End turn as Amanda in Private Lives here in Toronto before heading off with it to Broadway. Look for that in the early fall, with her London co-star Matthew Macfadyen also here for the duration.

Around the same time, you can also expect the smashing revival of Chess that’s been playing around the U.K. to great acclaim since the fall which I was lucky enough to catch up with while in England. Fans of this ABBA-scored show, which has never known a totally successful production before now, will be happy to see this one when it arrives sometime in late summer.

And finally, it does indeed look like the heavily-Canadian tour of Mary Poppins will be delighting the citizens of Toronto during the next Christmas season.

Canucks like Blythe Wilson, Nicolas Dromard, Mark Harapiak and Eric Coles will all get to be home for the holidays. Laird Mackintosh has been temporarily seconded from the tour to play Mr. Banks on Broadway, but hopefully he’ll be back with his chums when the show pulls into town come the end of November.

When Elton Met Billy: How The Rocket Man Wrote A Hit Musical

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(January 28, 2011) When
Elton John and David Furnish sat down to watch a movie called Dancer at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000, they never thought it would change their lives, but it certainly did.

“I had no idea what the picture was about, no idea in the world,” John told The Star in an exclusive phone interview from his Atlanta home. “I was just there to support (director) Stephen Daldry, whose talent I admired enormously. Then it started and I was gobsmacked right from the get-go.”

Why? Because Dancer was the early name for
Billy Elliot and its story of an odd-boy-out seeking approval from his father for a life in the arts sounded some very deep chords in John’s personal history, and led him to write the internationally acclaimed musical, which starts performances at the Canon Theatre in Toronto this Tuesday.

“My Dad . . . ” John begins, then has to struggle to control himself even after all these years. “I don’t know what it was, I think he wanted me to be like him and I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. He was a military man and I knew music had to be my life, knew it as sure as breathing. We were two complete opposites. Oh, I’ve tried to make my peace with him long ago, I try to see where he was coming from, but . . . ”

Again, John finds himself at a loss for words and the Scarborough-born Furnish, who has been his partner since 1993 and his legal spouse since 2005, picks up the narrative.

“I sat there as the movie unfolded and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is Elton’s life,’ and I didn’t know how he’d react. I finally looked over and saw how profoundly moved he was.”

John continues. “I think it was the scene at the end where Billy’s father comes to see him dance and finally gives him the seal of approval. That did me in. Because my father never came to see me sing. Never. That’s strange, because there was always music in our house when I was growing up. My dad played the trumpet, the radiogram was always on. I found solace in music, even when everything was going awry with my parents. From the word go, it was the only thing that made me happy.”

That’s how life went for Reginald Dwight, born on March 25, 1947 to Sheila and Stanley Dwight., a former officer in the RAF, who brought his military background to the way he treated his family.

John admits he can’t escape from his father’s shadow. “He’s been dead for so many years, but I’m still trying to impress him. That’s what gave me my drive. Look at me, Dad, I’ve succeeded.

“Yeah, look at who I am. I never intended to become Elton John. It just worked out that way.”

After the Cannes screening of Dancer was finished, John and Furnish went on to the after-party and while congratulating Daldry, Furnish suddenly blurted out, “You know, this would make a wonderful musical.”

Without a beat, John added, “and I want to write the music for it.”

Daldry and John shook hands on it and long before the title was changed to Billy Elliot and the movie went on to conquer the world, they knew it would eventually be a musical with a score by Elton John.

“And that worried me a lot,” admits Furnish, “worried me as his partner. I know how much Elton identified with the journey Billy went on and I also know how important his songs are to him. This was a risky thing to do. I mean, it could have fallen right off the rails. This is a show that’s carried on the shoulders of a boy just into his teens.”

“But I felt it was something I had to write,” John interjects, “for so many reasons. It wasn’t just Billy’s story, it was all those wonderful characters, the miners’ struggle, so much great scope for writing in all kinds of genres.”

One of the central things, John and Furnish agree in retrospect, is that the major members of the original creative team joined John in the creation of Billy Elliot the musical.

Director Daldry was even better known as a stage director than a cinematic one, and although author Lee Hall had never written book or lyrics for the theatre, he proved to be a natural.

John recalls the process as “joyous and very easy. I said to Lee, ‘this is your baby, just go and write it,’ and he did. I never crossed one word out.”

“I don’t know what the songs are going to sound like, until I see the sheet of paper in front of me with the lyrics. When Billy hears the music he has to dance; when I see the words, I have to write,

“When Lee gave me the lyrics for ‘Electricity,’ I felt chills because they were so brilliant and defined a crucial spot in the show perfectly. The title alone told me how I should write it. Easy-peasy.”

Furnish laughs. “Elton is selling himself short. Sure, there’s this moment of creation when sparks do fly and magic things do happen, but it’s all thanks to his amazing God-given ability.”

Unlike many musical theatre projects, which can be touch-and-go until the last minute, all parties involved seemed to know that Billy Elliot was solid very early on.

“We had a very rudimentary workshop at the Old Vic that Stephen threw together,” Furnish remembers, “and it was just incredible. The power of the material came through even then.”

The show opened in London in 2005 to incredible critical and popular response and has repeated the pattern in Australia and on Broadway, where it won 10 Tony Awards in 2008.

“We originally wanted the first North American production to be in Toronto,” John reveals, “but it just didn’t work out. Still, better late than never.”

Furnish, who is one of the musical’s producers, says, “And I’m totally thrilled to be coming back to Toronto with such a successful show. I feel like the prodigal son coming home.”

When John is reminded that in writing the scores for both Billy Elliot and The Lion King, he’s the musical force behind two of the biggest hits of recent times, he becomes philosophical.

“There’s this great journey you take with material and you have no idea how it’s going to turn out. The stories are the secret and I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with two of the greatest stories ever. I love doing what I’m doing.”

In this point in a hit show’s life, the creators are usually a lot less concerned about how its subsequent productions play out, but not the Billy Elliot team.

“We’ve got a built-in remedy for boredom,” insists John. “Seeing the show with a new Billy,” concurs Furnish, “is like seeing it for the first time.”

“You’re getting a whole new shot of adrenaline,” says John. “Every time I see it, I see different things. The hope, the struggle, the sheer courage of everyone on the stage.”

And the little boy who needs his father’s approval,” Furnish says gently.

“Yes, that little boy who needs his father’s approval,” John echoes. “He’s never going to go away, is he?”

ELECTRICITY

Lyrics from the song from Billy Elliot: The Musical.
I can’t really explain it,
I haven’t got the words
It’s a feeling that you can’t control
I suppose it’s like forgetting, losing who you are
And at the same time something makes you whole
It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear
And I’m listening, and I’m listening and then I disappear
And then I feel a change
Like a fire deep inside
Something bursting me wide open impossible to hide
And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I’m free I’m free
It’s a bit like being angry,
it’s a bit like being scared
Confused and all mixed up and mad as hell
It’s like when you’ve been crying
And you’re empty and you’re full
I don’t know what it is, it’s hard to tell
It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear
But the music is impossible, impossible to hear
But then I feel it move me
Like a burning deep inside
Something bursting me wide open impossible to hide
And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I’m free I’m free
Electricity, sparks inside of me
And I’m free, I’m free
I’m free. Free I’m free

Plummer Rises Above Material To Shine In Barrymore

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

Barrymore
By William Luce. Directed by Gene Saks
Until March 9 at Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St. 416-872-5555.


(January 30, 2011) Style over substance. That was the path of John Barrymore’s life and — in a strangely fitting
way — the play called Barrymore that William Luce has woven around the existence of “The Great Profile” follows the same journey as well.

Fortunately for those of who us who filled the Elgin Theatre on Sunday night,
Christopher Plummer is in charge as that tragically charming American actor and even if this work largely shows him splashing about in the shallows of his art, the man still can splash with enormous style.

When Plummer first undertook this role at the Stratford Festival in 1996, then toured it around America and won a Tony Award for it on Broadway in 1997, he wasn’t necessarily at the peak of his career and one can understand the public and the media gratefully clutching at these crumbs of bravado Shakespeare, self-deprecating wit, scurrilous reminiscence and self-flagellating pathos.

For all they knew, that might have been all that Plummer was still capable of and so they claimed it lustily, perhaps as the great actor’s last hurrah.

But an amazing thing has happened in the decade since then. Plummer has grown better and better with time.

His Stratford performances as Lear, Caesar and Prospero were the equal of any other actor of our time and his film performances — as in last year’s Oscar nominated role in The Last Station — have been equally masterful.

This is an artist who is still at the peak of his art, so why do we have to see him spending his time in this admittedly entertaining, but ultimately unrewarding Vaudeville sketch?

Make no mistake, from Plummer’s very first entrance onto Santo Loquasto’s perfect period stage setting, wearing a dashing fedora and singing a ragtime ditty with panache, the great man is charming company.

Luce has put together a slick amalgam of racy limericks, juicy biographical tidbits and just enough bittersweet history to make us sit in listen to the once-great John Barrymore now pose before us as an alcoholic shell, while an all-too-frequently-heard Prompter (the charming John Plumpis) keeps flinging the wet-brained actor the lines he needs.

But as the second act progresses under the looming shadow of a Shakespearean throne, with Barrymore wearing his famous Richard III costume, you wonder just what is being rehearsed here in 1942, just before Barrymore’s death.

Is it a one-man, one-night comeback? Is it an attempt to play his greatest role years past his best-due-date? Or when he strips off the Richard costume to reveal his Hamlet robes underneath and breaks into a moving rendition of the “What a Piece of Work is Man” soliloquy, you ponder the whole nature of the exercise.

In the end, you have Plummer, which is more than enough of a reason to go to the theatre, to sample his infinite variety, his superb timing, his laser-like shifts of tone. But if, in recent years at Stratford, you’ve been able to see him at the peak of his art in some of his Shakespeare’s tragedies, you may find it a bit of a comedown to see him holding the stage in this semi-classy variety show.

In the end, you can’t help but feel that Barrymore deserved a great deal more and that Christopher Plummer could certainly deliver it.

“The readiness is all,” said Hamlet. And Plummer has lately proved that he is more than ready.

Woody Harrelson To Bring Semi-Autobiographical Play To Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(January 31, 2011) Actor Woody Harrelson will return to the stage in Toronto to direct an original play that revolves around a gun that was meant to be used to kill Adolf Hitler.

The Academy Award nominee had success in this city in 2003 and 2004 as director of a production of This Is Our Youth, about disaffected young people during the Ronald Reagan era.

The newest project is Bullet for Adolf, which Harrelson co-authored with Frankie Hyman. He’s bringing it to Toronto with the same partners he worked with for This Is Our Youth: Marcello Cabezas, Derrick Chua and Corey Ross.

Bullet for Adolf is a partly autobiographical work set in Houston during the racially charged summer of 1983. It deals with the tensions that arise when an antique gun vanishes that once was intended to be used to kill Hitler.

“Frankie and I worked construction together in Houston in the summer of 1983,” Harrelson said. “The people we got to know that summer had a profound effect on us.

“The eight characters in this play are based on real people. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.”

Harrelson will direct the play at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre from April 19 to May 7.

“We want audiences to bring an open mind to this raucous frolic into murky waters,” said Harrelson. “We debate some important issues, for example, race and gender, in what we hope is a provocative and humorous piece. We’d like audiences to take this home and continue the conversation. That is what a great night of theatre encourages for me.”

Harrelson is best known for his longtime appearance as Woody on the hit TV series Cheers. His film work includes Oscar-nominated performances in The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger.

He plans to cast Bullet for Adolf with young Toronto actors, with the possible exception of one leading role that might go to an international professional.

“Since this is a new work, we wanted to see what new talents we could find to help shape this story,” said producer Cabezas. “Of course, with Woody’s association, the hope is that the show will get attention and as such, so will these new talents. The notion of finding a new star would be a wonderful end to this process.”

The producers plan to hold auditions from Feb. 11 to 13.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Mass Effect 2: A Masterpiece

Source: www.thestar.com - Darren Zenko

Mass Effect 2
PlayStation 3
$59.99
Rated M

(January 27, 2011) Released a year ago on XBox 360 and PC,
Mass Effect 2 — like its hero/ine Commander Shepard — has been sent back to the lab and rebuilt and improved for its long-awaited PlayStation 3 release. The result is not only the definitive edition of Edmonton-based BioWare’s space-opera role-playing adventure and one of the best PS3 games ever, but the apotheosis of triple-A-plus cinematic game development.

I never got the chance to review ME2 last year; my 360’s DVD drive conked out about six hours in, and by the time I got that sorted the go-go schedule of a weekly game critic had forced me onward. That hardware failure turns out to have been a lucky break; here is the game in its full glory, built on a slick, all-new engine, comprising all available add-ons and featuring an interactive graphic novel (produced in conjunction with Dark Horse comics). PS3 players, who missed out on the first Mass Effect, get into the universe and their character before all hell breaks loose.

Break loose it does. I said “cinematic,” and I meant it in the full-throttle blockbuster sense. Mass Effect 2 starts with a bang — hundreds of them, actually, each one gut-wrenching — and never wants to turn down the volume. Every pixel is informed by complete commitment to being as awesome as possible. If playing ME2 ever feels quiet or pokey, it’s because the player is being pokey — which is, of course, a legitimate option in an open-ended role-playing game that offers so much to those adventurers who go for the nooks and crannies.

Hybridization is kind of the rule in games these days. You’ve got your action/RPGs, your puzzle/shooters . . . hell, there’s probably a survival-horror/kitchen-sim somewhere. ME2 isn’t so much a hybrid as a hydra, or maybe a chimera, a triple-headed threat in which every element could stand fully on its own. If it were just a role-playing game, it would be one of the most satisfying. If it were just a third-person tactical squad shooter, it would be one of the tightest and hottest. If it were just an interactive CGI sci-fi film and conversation simulator, it would still be the best by default, because nobody’s really doing what BioWare does. All three aspects give and take from each other, one experience informing the next to create a relentlessly engrossing whole.

Mass Effect 2 is problematic in one specific way. The problem is not with this game but with games themselves, or at least with the RPG genre. Playing ME2, I couldn’t shake the nagging question: Where is “up” from here?

Making games the BioWare way, with huge worlds, comprehensive mechanics, full cinematic presentation and thousands of pages of fully voiced interactive dialogue, is insanely expensive, to the point of making no business sense. At these margins, a single flop — “flopping” here means “selling fewer than 2 million copies plus DLC” — could wipe out a chunk of the industry. Only a developer with the braintrust and brand cachet of BioWare can possibly get away with it. Mass Effect 2 is a masterpiece that almost nobody can afford to emulate.

::OTHER NEWS::

Video: Mandela Released From Hospital: So. Africa Breathes Easy

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 28, 2011) *South Africans heaved a sigh of relief after their beloved former president,
Nelson Mandela, 92, was discharged from a hospital and returned home Friday.

He was driven home about lunchtime in a military ambulance, after doctors announced he had suffered an acute respiratory infection but was recovering well.

News of the acute illness contradicted earlier reports from the Nelson Mandela Foundation and African National Congress that nothing serious was wrong with Mandela, known affectionately by South Africans by his clan name, Madiba.

Read MORE of this on-the-scene LA Times report HERE.

Watch this AP report of his release from hospital here:

Former Ontario Premier David Peterson Is More Powerful Than Ever

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Diebel

(January 28, 2011) It may be that one of the most powerful men in Ontario is living in the wrong century. Country squire and avid equestrian
David Robert Peterson would have flourished in the early 1890s, when the Ontario legislature opened its doors at Queen’s Park location. A gentleman of his breeding would have sent a creamy embossed card on a silver tray to the premier’s office and known he would soon get a response.

The card would have been impeccable, just like its sender. “Mr. Peterson,” it would have read. “Discretion guaranteed.”

There would have been no confusion about who Mr. Peterson was. That’s how power works.

The basics haven’t changed much in 100 years for a man like Peterson. At his large farm north of Toronto he enjoys the life of an Upper Canadian gentleman, indulging a passion for horses that has included fox hunting in Ireland. He practises the law on Bay Street, where he is chair of Cassels, Brock & Blackwell LLP and occupies a corner office with a view of city towers to the east and Lake Ontario to the south.

This former Liberal premier brought his Conservative counterpart Mike Harris to Cassels as a business adviser. Harris joined a stable that overflows with such prize names as political fundraiser Ralph Lean and Maxwell Gotlieb, the former Osgoode professor routinely named (as are so many others in the firm) among “the best lawyers in Canada.”

But it is the manner of service Peterson offers Premier Dalton McGuinty that is unique and truly marks him as a 19th-century character. He’s the go-to guy, the trusty adviser who’s always dependable and, most important, never asks for anything as unseemly as money in return. He doesn’t want his name to show up on any list of provincial salaries or access to information requests for fees paid by the premier’s office.

“I never want to cause any embarrassment for the premier,” he says in an office overflowing with photos of family members, mixed in with Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Richard Branson and Queen Elizabeth. “I don’t lobby and I don’t ask for anything from the government. The premier asks me to do something, I do it and I do it for free.”

At well over six feet, with silver hair and the trademark yellow tie, Peterson has the easy charm of a happy man. He’s says he’s as nuts about his author/actress wife Shelley as when they married in 1975, a couple of months after he saw her on stage. They have three children, Ben, 32, Chloë, 30, and Adam, 28.

He usually has a phone to his ear and probably has returned every phone call he’s ever received.

McGuinty apparently phones him a lot. “Everybody wants something from the premier and my job is to help him,” he says. “I’m the one guy in the province who understands the burdens he has to carry. Well, maybe there are a few others. I want to lighten those burdens, not make them heavier.

“I’m a loyal guy and I feel very, very affectionate towards Dalton, to be perfectly frank,” says Peterson, 67, of the 55-year-old premier. “I did the eulogy at his father’s funeral. I’ve watched him grow. I’m very proud of him.”

He’s a little testy about the “lobby” part. It was reported that the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) engaged Peterson and Cassel Brock in 2009 to help lobby the Ontario government to sanction mixed martial arts in the province. The government had been cool to the idea but in August 2010 announced the MMA would be coming to Ontario. “I did not lobby,” insists Peterson, stressing that UFC hired Cassel lawyer Noble Chummar for advice on the file, and that he’d had nothing to do with it. In fact, adds Peterson, Shelley is not fond of the sport.

Such power as his walks softly. It takes the publicity of a MMA kerfuffle to even be noticed. Sure, on Jan. 26 McGuinty’s office organized a tribute dinner for 700 of Peterson’s closest friends at Constitution Hall, with the money raised going to his choice of the University of Toronto. He’s chancellor there, something he says he owes in part to his friend and former U of T president, Rob Prichard. He cites Prichard, along with Frank McKenna, among his dearest friends or, as he puts it, “people we just adore.”

Peterson moves within spheres of influences that he attributes to serendipity. Still, contacts are contacts. The room in the Convention Centre for his dinner was packed with lawyers and various VIPs, including politicians likely between gigs, such as Michael Bryant and John Tory. Richard Powers, professor at the Rotman School of Management, said in the night’s video that Peterson is “the best-connected” board member in the country.

Peterson was chair of Toronto’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am games and negotiated the brief dismantling of the barricades in 2006 during the fraught dispute over Six Nations land in Caledonia. When they went back up soon after, he called it “heart-breaking.”

He grew up in London, the son of Marie, 97, and Clarence, a farmer/businessman who recently died at 97. Although the family electronics firm did well, they were far from rich, and it was only later, in politics, that he began to make the kind of contacts that serve him to this day.

He lost the premiership in 1990 by calling an early election. Bud Wildman, an NDP MPP at the time, says it a “serious mistake that devastated him.”

Peterson rebounded: “I know people who can’t stand not being in politics,” he says. “If they lose, or if life doesn’t work out, they can’t get beyond it. You’ve got to get beyond it. I did.

“My life has been wonderful. It’s serendipitous, I don’t know how, but every day, I know something nice is going to happen and it does . . . you just have to recognize it.” (On that day, it was the antics of his grandson, Luke.)

Once Peterson was out of politics, Canadian corporate icon Ted Rogers put him on the board of Rogers Communications, and today he’s director of some 30-odd firms. “Ted and (wife) Loretta were wonderful to us,” he says. “They had us down on the board many times,” says Peterson of the Rogers’ yacht.

Publicity about his holdings is rare, and his net worth is unknown. However, in 2010, when shares in Shoppers Drug Mart fell during the dispute between the province’s pharmacists and Health Minister Deb Matthews (Peterson’s sister-in-law), the Star’s Rob Ferguson worked out that he lost $450,000 over just a few months.

Arguably, Peterson has more power than the premier. But he says “nobody has more power than the premier with a majority.” Peterson concedes he has “a different kind of influence.”

Asked to describe it, he explains: “There’s no official title but I know all these people . . . Half of my life is philanthropic and half of my life I make a living, but they all go together.

“Hopefully you use all the power you have for good. If you can put this person together with that person, then good things happen. If you can spot those opportunities, you can do it.”

Like in 2005.

That’s when he put Paul Martin together with Belinda Stronach. She was a disgruntled Conservative MP and he a beleaguered Liberal prime minister.

What was she to do?

She called Peterson and, within days, crossed the floor of the House and helped save the Martin government.

For a few months anyway.

Lorna Goodison : Passion For Keats Weaves Through Writer’s Work

Source: www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner

(January 28, 2011) During the dozen years that
Lorna Goodison spent working on her award-winning 2007 memoir, From Harvey River, she routinely sought inspiration in the works of her favourite writer, the 19th-century English Romantic poet John Keats.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night to read Keats. He is like a friend or a lover,” she says. “I was talking to a class one day about him and a girl said, ‘Does your husband know how you feel about John Keats?’ ”

Goodison, born in 1947, first encountered Keats and other greats of the literary canon during her childhood in Kingston, Jamaica. An incurable daydreamer by her own admission, she nevertheless developed an immediate affinity with at least one part of the curriculum.

“My school was started by the Anglican Church to provide an education befitting a young English girl,” she recalls. “I remember at age 11 or 12 going into a classroom and, with no preparation whatsoever, reading (T.S. Eliot’s poem) ‘The Journey of the Magi.’

“In many was it was quite wonderful. We did Shakespeare. We did Chaucer. We did everything. So I formed my own relationship with English literature very early. I had very strong, very intense relationships with the words on the page.”

Goodison, whose latest work is a career-spanning short story collection, By Love Possessed, started writing poetry as a young girl, but kept those early efforts to herself. Her eight other siblings included an older sister who was already on her way to becoming a successful journalist. One writer in the family was enough.

Besides, Goodison’s initial creative aspirations tended more toward the visual arts. In 1968, she left Kingston to take classes at the Art Students League of New York, where she studied under the influential African-American painter Jacob Lawrence.

The passion for painting has endured. The walls of the cozy, Cabbagetown home she shares with husband and fellow author Ted Chamberlin are decorated with visually alluring works of art, several of them her own.

By the time Goodison returned to Jamaica after a couple of years in New York, however, writing had become the more predominant urge. Her efforts were encouraged by family friend Derek Walcott, the St. Lucian poet and eventual Nobel Prize laureate.

“If I had anyone to talk about writing poetry with, it was Walcott,” she says. “He started looking at my work and was the first to say, ‘Do this. Don’t do that.’”

Goodison has published 11 collections of poems, including the Commonwealth Prize-winning I Am Becoming My Mother. From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People, a beautifully written account of her Jamaican ancestry, claimed the $40,000 B.C. Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, as well as finishing as a runner-up for the Charles Taylor Prize and the Trillium Book Award.

“Until the day I die, I will never get over it,” says Goodison, who divides her time between Toronto and Ann Arbor, MI. where she teaches creative writing and Caribbean literature at the University of Michigan.

“I’ve had my share of rejection as a writer. I always tell my students, ‘If you are going into this to get your ego stroked, you are in the wrong business.’”

The newly published By Love Possessed was compiled at the encouragement of McClelland & Stewart publisher Ellen Seligman, who worked as an editor on From Harvey River. Goodison had published two collections of stories in the U.K. and Jamaica that had never seen the light of day in Canada. The new book includes 20 stories culled from the two previous collections, as well as two entirely new works.

Seligman encouraged the author to revisit the older work, some of which was first written more than 25 years ago. Initially, Goodison figured the task would involve little more than limited editorial housekeeping. By the time she was finished, nearly 18 months had passed.

“When I wrote the stories the first time, I was very conscious of the characters. I could see them and hear how they spoke. When I went back to the story, I could see the person but I felt that I hadn’t told the story. So I had to go back into the voice,” says Goodison, who will read from the stories and be interviewed at the Maria A. Shchuka Branch Public Library on Eglinton Ave. W. on Feb. 15 as part of Black History Month.

“I’m very fussy about voice — how people speak and how they sound. I go ballistic when I read something and think, ‘Nobody would ever say that. Who the hell would say that?’ I hate that. So it takes me a long, long time. One story I wrote maybe 15 times, just to get it right.”

Thematically, the stories are focused on relationships between men and women and issues of class. Often the preoccupations merge. The opening story, “The Helpweight,” is about a Jamaican man who returns from his studies abroad with a foreign bride in tow.

“That used to be a fairly common story in the Caribbean,” Goodison says. “When I was growing up, you would hear these terrible stories that somebody had left his sweetheart behind. She expected that he would come back and marry her, but instead he came back with an English wife.

“There’s also a lot in the stories about fate and kismet. That’s something I’m very interested in. No matter what your intentions, life just turns out in ways that you could not possibly have foreseen.”

::TRAVEL::

Five Canadian Places To Keep The Romance Burning

Source: www.thestar.com

(January 28, 2011) The holidays are over but Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. No matter what you got him or her last month, taking your sweetums to one of these five Canadian romance spots will keep you in the good books for a little while longer.

Muskoka: The region is crowded with sun seekers in the summer, but come winter, it’s all yours. Whether you prefer your time outdoors—walking or skiing the trails—or indoors in front of a roaring fire, Muskoka hotels and resorts mean never having to choose. At Taste Restaurant in Touchstone resort, you’ll find (along with stunning views of Lake Muskoka) a farm-to-table philosophy in the kitchen and locally produced ingredients on the menu. Spend the night and take full advantage of the spa’s two-bedroom suite. www.ontariotravel.net

Peggy’s Cove, N.S.: Buy him a fisherman’s sweater, pack her a shawl, grab a blanket and head out to “The Cove” for a weekend of quiet, simple living and fresh seafood you’ll remember for years to come. Stand on the rocky shores near the lighthouse and watch the sun set after a day walking the tiny village and getting to know the locals. www.novascotia.com

Quebec City: Montréal will do in a pinch, but Quebec City is the spot for connoisseurs of French romance, thanks to cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriage rides and walks under old-fashioned lamplight. Add bistros to eat in, cafés to watch from and boutique hotels (like the Relais & Chateaux-branded Auberge Saint-Antoine) that are as luxurious to sleep in as they are interesting to look at. Bring your camera and ask a stranger to snap a photo of you and your partner amid backdrops that provide an unparalleled setting for romance, then dine by candlelight on fine French-Canadian cuisine before a night out on the town. www.bonjourquebec.com

Stratford: The plays, including some by the Bard of Love himself, William Shakespeare, will draw you here, but with a lakeside trail to hold hands along and now the Stratford Chocolate Trail, Stratford is a top choice for romantics. Buy a $20 Chocolate Trail Pass at the Stratford Tourism Alliance and visit eight stops of your choosing on the 16-stop self-guided tour. Sample the cocoa fares and speak with the chocolate makers. You can even take a chocolate mint bath soak. How sweet. www.ontariotravel.net

Tofino, B.C.: You can opt to watch the storms from your porch at the Wickaninnish Inn—voted one of the Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest—while sipping on champagne and nibbling house-made truffles. Prefer to take your love outdoors? Tofino is one of the world’s surfing meccas and nothing says, “I love you” like walking the beach or riding the waves with the one you love. www.hellobc.com

Heather Greenwood Davis and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Olympic Athlete Up On The Auction Block

Source: www.thestar.com

(February 1, 2011) Now before you start wondering about Forrester, the dream was not that surprising, given that the seven-time Canadian champion will actually be up for sale Thursday at the inaugural Eligible Inc. Bachelor & Bachelorette Charity Auction for the Canadian Center for Abuse Awareness.

The auction at the Capitol Event Theatre at Yonge and Eglinton features 21 celebrity bachelors and bachelorettes, including baseball player Drew Taylor, boxer Fitzroy Vanderpool and Miss Universe Canada Elena Semikina, at an event emceed by four-time Olympic skier Brian Stemmle. It's $100 per ticket.    

It's a good cause and it prompted this first-time ever question from my end to an athlete: How much are you hoping you'll go for?

"I'm not lying, I had a dream like a week ago and in my dream I went for like $1,830," said the personable Forrester. "If it comes close to that, that would be good. But along with that in being an athlete and we always compete, if I'm in the top three, four or five, then I'd be happy with that."

The 34-year-old Forrester definitely has some brains to go with her beauty. The Commonwealth Games champion is currently working on her doctorate in sports psychology. One of the things she studied as an under-graduate was the issue of abuse.

"I always thought it was interesting that kids who grew up in abused families were more likely to become abusive when they were adults with their family," said Forrester. "You would assume if you grew up in that and you saw how your Mom was hurting from your Dad that you'd be the last person to continue that cycle. But it's a learned behaviour."

It's those types of issues the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness was established in 1993 to help deal with. The organization seeks to reduce the amount and impact of abuse through education and public awareness. It exists solely on private donations and events like these.

"It's sad and unfortunate when you think about how many people are abused daily," said Forrester. "This week I'm dropping off some items at a battered shelter and it's actually for women who have to leave their home and stay in hiding because if they're found their spouse or partner will try to kill them or harm them."

You don't just win a date if you submit a winning bid at the auction -– you get a whole package. Forrester's package includes the chance to train with her for a day, a Toronto International Film Festival package that includes two tickets and red carpet treatment with tickets to two after parties, Oakley sunglasses, a Commonwealth Games team jacket and other paraphernalia from the event, including a Canadian flag signed by all the track and field athletes, and a fitness training package from Striation 6.

Forrester is not expecting to find a guy at the auction, but if it happens ...

"I think you want someone who really values who you are as a person. Not necessarily what you do, but who you are and what you have to offer. They've got to have their own passions and motivations they're striving for in life and you complement each other."

Argos’ Jim Barker Up For CFL Coach Of The Year

Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Zelkovich

(January 27, 2011) While being named one of the finalists for the Canadian Football League coach-of-the-year award is an accomplishment — certainly better than being one of the five who didn’t get on the final ballot — Jim Barker says there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“There are a lot of things I can improve on,” the Toronto Argonauts GM and head coach said Thursday after learning he is up against Montreal’s Marc Trestman and Saskatchewan’s Ken Miller for the annual trophy that will be awarded next month.

“I have to do a better job of making sure that everything — our offence, defence and special teams — is in unison.”

That should be easier because Barker, who called the nomination a tribute to the entire Argo organization, knows his coaching staff.

“Last year was difficult because I didn’t know what a lot of my coaches could do,” he said.

“Next year, we’ll be able to take the next step because we’ll have continuity with the coaching staff. At this time last year, none of us had been hired. We’re so far ahead of where we were then, it’s exciting.”

Not all of the Argo coaches have signed new deals, but Barker doesn’t anticipate any changes.

He has already re-signed three potential free agents — receiver Jeremaine Copeland, fullback Bryan Crawford and defensive end Ronald Flemons — and expects to have the remaining seven back in Argo blue.

One Argo who may not be back is kick returner/wide receiver Chad Owens, who is negotiating with the New York Jets. Owens’ agent, Richard Burnoski, says the Jets have made an offer, “but it is not what we are seeking.”

While a number CFL players are seeking NFL deals and several — including Calgary linebacker Tom Johnson (New Orleans) and former B.C. wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux (Minnesota) — have been signed, sources say there is little up-front money being offered because of a possible labour disruption.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Ex-Leaf Richardson Vows To Raise Awareness After Losing Daughter To Suicide

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(February 02, 2011) OTTAWA—Ottawa Senators assistant coach
Luke Richardson is teaming up with an Ottawa hospital to raise awareness about teenage mental illness. Richardson’s 14-year-old daughter Daron took her own life last November, a devastating blow for the former NHL defenceman, his family, friends and the National Hockey League fraternity. Rather than bury themselves in grief, the Richardson family is going public to implore Canadian youth and their families to seek help. Richardson and his wife Stephanie told a news conference that the family was very close and no subject was off grounds for discussion — but they never spoke of suicide as a family. Suicide is the second leading cause of death, behind accidents, for Canadian youth between ages 15 and 24. Studies show that half of all mental disorders begin during adolescence. The Royal Ottawa hospital has launched an awareness campaign under the name doitfordaron.com that has designated Feb. 8 — Daron’s 15th. birthday — as a day of discussion.

::FITNESS NEWS::

Banish Ugly Back Flab: 3 Exercises!

By Raphael Calzadilla, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

An eDiets member (Laura) once asked me for a workout that would focus on reducing her back flab and tightening her back muscles. She felt her back looked flabby and was uncomfortable with the unsightly fat that seeped through the back of her bra.

I get hundreds of requests for improving the abs, hips, butt and arms, but hardly ever get any for improving the back. This request brought a smile to my face.

When someone begins to realize the importance of the back muscles from a practical and cosmetic standpoint, they have advanced to the next level of their fitness evolution.

When properly developed, it is absolutely amazing to see the beauty and artistic perfection of the multitude of back muscles. As I always mention, the ultimate key to a beautiful back and tight body is the combination of proper nutrition that places one in a slight caloric deficit, exercise and consistency. Luckily, Laura already had the nutrition part humming along with her eDiets program. She is also lifting weights twice a week and performing cardio three times a week.

All I needed to do was provide a specialty workout that she could perform twice a week along with her current program.

From a practical standpoint, building strength in the back, particularly the lower back, helps to prevent injury. How many times have you heard someone tell you they have a bad back? I hear it almost every day.

1. Cable Two-Arm Lat Pulldown

Starting Position

- Extend your arms up and reach for a straight bar with an overhand grip.
- Sit tall with your knees supported under the leg pad, with the knees and hips at a 90-degree angle.
- Arms should be wider than shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in the elbows.
-Relax your shoulders and keep your chest lifted.

Movement
- Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the bar down, leading with the elbows stopping when the bar is just above your chest.
- Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of allowing the weight stack to touch.

Key Points
- Exhale while lifting the weight.

- Inhale while returning to the starting position.
- Do not allow your upper back to round or your chest to cave in.

2. Dumbbell Bent Over Row

Starting Position

- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend forward from the hips until the upper body is at about 45 degrees.
- Extend the arms down, keeping your shoulder blades together.

Movement
- Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the dumbbells up toward your sides stopping when your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Remember to slightly squeeze the shoulder blades together as you pull up to the contracted position.
- Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the arms being fully extending.

Key Points
- Exhale as you lift the weights.
- Inhale while returning to the starting position.
- If you have any discomfort or weakness in your lower back, avoid this exercise.
- Start out with light weights to make sure your lower back can tolerate this position.

3. Fitball Prone Trunk Extension

Starting Position

- Lie on the ball with your knees on the floor and feet up on the toes.

- Place your fingertips gently on the sides of your head.
- Maintain a neutral spine with head and neck relaxed as a natural extension of the spine.

Movement
- Contracting the lower back muscles, raise your chest off the ball slightly.
- Slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points
- Exhale while lifting your body.

- Inhale while returning to the starting position.
- Do not hyperextend your back or overdo the range of motion.

Attempt two to three sets of each exercise for 10 to 12 repetitions on two alternate days of the week and focus on precise form at all times.

Whether it’s a sleeveless dress you’ll be wearing, tank top or just need that extra strength to pick up your kids and groceries, then focusing on your back muscles is your ticket to success.

As always, check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.

::MOTIVATION::

"Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history."
 

Source:  Dr. Carter G. Woodson (Founder of Negro History Week in 1926, which evolved into Black History Month).