This Sunday, June 19th is Father's Day so let the man who has influenced and has impacted you in the role of father know how much you appreciate his role in your life.
Speaking of outstanding men, I attended an AA 20-year medallion ceremony this week in celebration of my dear friend, Rodney. It was a stirring and motivational evening in a room full of friends and family of Rodney and members of the program. These were people who looked just like you and me, our sisters, uncles, grandmothers and friends. But the celebration came from the real stories from the AA members who told their moving and inspirational stories of survival, strength, challenges, self-doubt, inner turmoil and ultimate, triumph over alcohol. What I found particularly poignant were the 'promises' read at the end of the evening. Do yourself a favour and read them HERE. I dedicate this week's edition to Rodney, and to all those lives he has touched with his compassionate friendship, insane humour, steadfast presence and everlasting patience. And also to the courage of those at all the different stages of the program.
Time is ticking ... have you bought your tickets yet to the Truth & Soul: A Gospel Event? Not often will you see this line-up of gospel artists. It's all going down on July 23rd at the Rexall Centre featuring Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Maryand the Mighty Clouds of Joy. Wow! It's all part of the BlackCreek festival. See the details below under HOT EVENTS.
So much going on ... from the sports news of the Stanley Cup Boston Bruins win, the NBA Championship and the new Black radio station in Toronto. Lots to celebrate all under TOP STORIES.
Remember to look for VIDEO or AUDIO in the titles of articles for some visual and sound to perk up your reading pleasure!
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!
Truth & Soul: A Gospel Event – Saturday, July 23
Check out this TV spot advertising the upcoming gospel extravaganza:
The BlackCreek Summer Music Festival presents “Truth and Soul: A Gospel Event,” starring gospel greats Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, and The Mighty Clouds of Joy.
An undisputed gospel siren, YOLANDA ADAMS is one of the key figures of the genre’s bold renaissance, one of gospel’s most transcendent ambassadors. Since her 1988 debut, the acclaimed and uplifting Just As I Am, Adams has been wowing gospel audiences all over the world — extending her magnificent reach without watering down the message. Hailed as the most versatile contemporary gospel singer since Aretha Franklin, Adams has won several Stellar awards (gospel’s highest accolade) as well as two Grammy nominations, a Soul Train Lady of Soul award, and an unforgettable live performance spot on the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards telecast. Her “bring-the-crowd-to-their-feet” reputation has now become the stuff of pop legend. Joyful, uplifting, inspiring, affirmative, exuberant, playful, and universal in its appeal and intention — that is the music of Yolanda Adams.
Siblings Erica and Tina Campbell’s groundbreaking, chart-topping duo MARY MARY has never wavered from defying convention to fulfill its mission: sending uplifting messages through music and words that are relatable to everyone. Mary Mary has earned 3 Grammy Awards, 2 American Music Awards, an NAACP Image Award and a BET Award. Their debut album, Thankful (2000), went platinum and won a Grammy; the follow-up, Incredible (2002), was certified gold; 2005’s self-titled album peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200; and 2008’s The Sound hit No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Billboard R&B/hip-hop chart. After only nine weeks at radio, the lead single “Walking” from Mary Mary’s sixth album, SOMETHING BIG, is already in the top 10 at Urban AC and is steadily growing. SOMETHING BIG resonates with a fusion of sound (R&B, hip-hop, dance, pop, gospel and jazz), empowering messages, and their signature crystalline harmonies.
DONNIE McCLURKIN creates profoundly uplifting music for the soul and formed both the McClurkin Singers in 1979 and the NY Restoration Choir in 1989. He was signed to Warner Alliance Records as a solo artist where he recorded his pivotal self-titled album. Oprah Winfrey invited him on her show, which catapulted his CD to #4 on the gospel charts, recognition beyond the church world and gold + sales. McClurkin soon signed to Verity Records where his first CD, Live in London and More, far surpassed his solo debut thanks to secular radio embracing his gracefully reassuring “We Fall Down.” The song met with international acclaim, made the Top 40 of Billboard’s R&B chart and rocketed past platinum sales of over one million copies, instantly making McClurkin among gospel’s best-selling artists. He has earned a trophy case full of Dove and Stellar Awards, two Grammys, and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Artist.
Contemporary gospel’s preeminent group, THE MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY, pioneered a distinctively funky sound that over time gained acceptance even among purists, pushing spiritual music in new and unexpected directions. The Mighty Clouds was one of the first gospel groups to incorporate R&B techniques, such as drums and stylized choreography, and became known as “the Temptations of Gospel.” Through the years the group has released more than 30 albums, won 3 Grammy Awards, were the first gospel act to appear on Soul Train, and has performed as many as 200 concerts a year and with such esteemed artists as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, and the Rolling Stones.
SATURDAY, JULY 23
TRUTH & SOUL: A GOSPEL EVENT
Rexall Centre (York University)
1 Shoreham Drive
Tickets: $47.50 - $156.00; BUY THEM HERE
Directions and parking info HERE
Bruins Capture Stanley Cup
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press
(June 15, 2011) Patrice Bergeron scored two goals, one of them short handed, while goaltender Tim Thomas made 37 stops for the shutout as the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup in a tension-filled Game 7 Wednesday night.
Rookie Brad Marchand scored twice, once into an empty net, and had an assist as the Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup and the first since 1972. Defenceman Dennis Seidenberg had two assists.
Bergeron's short-handed goal in the second period was the dagger in the Canucks' heart. It made the score 3-0 and subdued a sold-out crowd of 18,860 at Rogers Arena.
Sent in on a breakaway, Bergeron was hauled down by Vancouver defenceman Christian Ehrhoff. They collided with Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo and the puck slid into the net.
Luongo raised his arms in frustration but the referee quickly signalled a goal. The call was backed up by a video review.
Vancouver outshot Boston 37-21.
At the final whistle Bruins players streamed off the bench to mob Thomas, while the Canucks watched with their heads hung.
Thomas, the stocky goaltender who plays like a linebacker, had another strong game, scrambling and diving to make saves. It was his fourth shutout of the playoffs and second against Vancouver.
He got help from a Bruins team that forced the Canucks to take long shots and quickly cleared the puck from in front of the net. That left Vancouver with few chances at rebounds.
It was a disappointing end to the best season in Canucks history. Vancouver had the best record in the NHL and advanced to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 17 years.
The Bruins forced Game 6 by beating the Canucks 5-2 Monday night in Boston.
Vancouver was gripped with the same excitement that seized the city during the 2010 Winter Olympics. A loud, towel-waving crowd began chanting “we want the Cup” even before the national anthems. Across the city thousands watched the game outdoors on big screens.
Actor William Shatner was in the crowd and the Green Men were in their seats beside the Bruins' penalty box.
Bergeron's short-handed goal came with 2:25 left in the third. It was the fifth short-handed goal the Canucks gave up in the playoffs — and third against Boston — after allowing only two in the regular season.
Marchand gave Boston a 2-0 lead at 12:13 of the second period after winning a puck battle with defenceman Kevin Bieksa. The rookie then swooped behind the Canucks' net and jammed the puck past Luongo on a wraparound.
Bergeron opened the scoring at 14:37 of the first period on a play where Marchand did most of the work. The little centre, who has been an irritant to the Canucks all series, controlled the puck in the Vancouver end, twisting and turning away from defenders.
He sent a pretty pass to Bergeron, who fired a snap shot that hit the far post and went into the net. It was Bergeron's first goal in 10 games.
Marchand came close to making it 2-0 early in the second. He walked around Canuck defenceman Alex Edler, then rang a shot off the post.
The Bruins had the first good scoring chance of the game early in the first period. During a scramble David Krejci poked at a puck sliding through the crease but a diving Luongo managed to get a glove on it.
The Canucks came close in the second when Alex Burrows pounced on a breakaway. Burrows fired a shot that hit the glove of a diving Thomas, then pounced off the right arm of big Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who had jumped into the empty crease.
About two hours prior to the game Bruins forward Nathan Horton, out with a concussion, emptied a bottle of water on the Rogers Arena ice. It was labelled “Garden Ice.”
During the game, injured Canuck Mason Raymond was shown on the big screen waving to a crowd. Raymond was wearing a corset on his upper body to protect the vertebrae compression fracture he suffered on a hit by Boston's Johnny Boychuk in Game 6.
The Canucks were trying to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. They lost in the 1982 and 1994 final. Vancouver also wanted to become the first Canadian team since the 1993 Montreal Canadians to win the Cup.
Boston's last appearance in the final was 1990 when they lost in five games to the Edmonton Oilers.
The series had as many twists and turns as the winding highway that connects Vancouver with the ski resort of Whistler.
The Canucks dominated the first three games at home. Luongo allowed just two goals and twice shutout the Bruins.
It was a different story in Boston, where the Bruins outscored Vancouver 17-3 and twice chase Luongo out of his net.
The series was physical and at times nasty. Canuck defenceman Aaron Rome was suspended for the rest of the playoffs after a hit on Horton in Game 3 that sidelined the Boston forward.
Burrows avoided suspension in Game 1 when the league said there was not enough evidence he bit Bergeron's finger during a scrum.
More to come
Mavericks Win First NBA Title
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press
(Jun 13, 2011) For Dirk Nowitzki, the resume is complete. He's an NBA champion.
For LeBron James, the agonizing wait continues for at least one more year.
Avenging what happened five years ago in perfect turnabout style, the Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA title by winning Game 6 of these finals in Miami 105-95 on Sunday night - celebrating on the Heat's home floor, just as Dwyane Wade and his team did to them in the 2006 title series. The Mavericks won four of the series' last five games, a turnabout that could not have been sweeter.
"I really still can't believe it," said Nowitzki, who had 21 points and took home finals MVP honours.
"Tonight," Jason Terry said after leading Dallas with 27 points, "we got vindication."
James did not. Not even close, and a year unlike any other ended they way they all have so far - with him still waiting for an NBA title.
He scored 21 points for Miami, shook a few hands afterward, and departed before most of the Mavs tugged on their championship hats and T-shirts. Chris Bosh had 19, Mario Chalmers 18 and Dwyane Wade 17 for the Heat.
"We worked so hard and so long for it," Nowitzki said. "The team has had an unbelievable ride."
So did the Heat. Unlike Dallas, theirs wasn't a joyride.
"It goes without saying," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You're never really prepared for a moment like this. ... Neither team deserved this championship more than the other, but Dallas earned it."
Make no mistake: Miami lost the finals, but the blame will be directed at James. Even he knew that after the way he left Cleveland with "The Decision" and all the animus that generated not just in Ohio but around the entire league, the only way he could silence some critics was with a title.
"It doesn't weigh on me," James said. "At all."
Still, he got even more criticism - and a thinly veiled jab from his former owner with the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, who revelled in the moment on Twitter.
"Mavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings," Gilbert wrote. "Old Lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE."
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle joined a highly elite group, those with NBA titles as both a player and a head coach. Only 10 other men are on that list, including the presumably retired-for-good Phil Jackson, one of Carlisle's mentors in K.C. Jones, and Heat President Pat Riley - who led Miami past Dallas in 2006, and was the mastermind of what the Heat did last summer by getting James, Wade and Bosh on the same team with an eye on becoming a dynasty.
It might still happen, of course.
But even after 72 wins this season, including playoffs, the Heat lost the last game. And that means this year was a disappointment - except to just about everyone else in the NBA, or so it would seem.
"This is a true team," Carlisle said. "This is an old bunch. We don't run fast or jump high. These guys had each other's backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass. This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas."
Hating the Heat became the NBA's craze this season, and the team knew it had no shortage of critics, everyone from Cleveland (where "Cavs for Mavs" shirts were popular during these finals) to Chicago (the city James and Wade both flirted with last summer) and just about every place in between lining up to take shots at Miami.
"We could feel it," Carlisle said, noting he was repeatedly told during the finals that "billions" of people wanted to see Dallas topple Miami.
Given their newfound popularity, meet the new America's Team.
Sorry, Cowboys - your long-held moniker might have to be ceded to your city's NBA club. When it was over, Mavs owner Mark Cuban ran onto the court to hug Carlisle, then punched the air and whooped.
"I'm so happy for him. I'm so happy for Dirk," Carlisle said.
Carlisle said Riley came down to congratulate the Mavericks after the game, showing "unbelievable class."
"Their time will come," Carlisle said. "But now, it's our time."
When the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead in Dallas during the '06 finals, plans for their victory parade were announced. The Mavs didn't win another game in that series.
Now, that parade will finally happen. And when it's over, then the league's uncertainty will truly begin. Labour strife likely awaits, and although more talks geared toward movement on a new deal are scheduled for this week, both owners and players are bracing for a lockout to begin once the current collective bargaining agreement expires June 30.
Late Sunday night, the CBA was the last thing on the mind of the new champions of the NBA, whom Carlisle called "the most special team I've ever been around."
Jason Kidd, at 38 years old, got his first championship. Nowitzki got his at 32, Terry at 33. They were featured on the video screen in their building in Dallas during this series on what seemed like a constant loop, each posing with the NBA trophy and looking longingly at it, standing mere inches from it, as if to say "so close, yet so far away."
It's theirs. And for the second time, James went to the finals, only to see the other team celebrate. San Antonio won in Cleveland in 2007, and four years later, he saw the Mavs party on his new floor.
"It was a failure in '07 when we lost to the Spurs when I was in Cleveland," James said. "It's a failure now."
Nowitzki sealed it with 2:27 left, hitting a jumper near the Miami bench to put Dallas up 99-89, and some fans actually began leaving. Nowitzki walked to the Mavs' side slowly, right fist clenched and aloft.
He knew it. Everyone did.
"We feel it," Wade said. "We'll feel it even more tomorrow."
Spoelstra implored his team to foul in the final minute, and even then, they couldn't catch the Mavericks.
"All I remember is telling those guys that they deserved it," Bosh said. "Hands down, they were the better team in this series. ... All we can do is just admit it and move forward."
What happens with the next deal may affect the Heat more than anyone. Some owners will insist on a hard cap, rolled-back salaries and, potentially, trying to bust some current deals - which could break up the Big 3 before get another chance to win a title together.
A gloomy end to the season may bring an even gloomier off-season for Miami.
"Every situation has felt like it was an our-back-against-the-wall situation," James said Sunday morning, hours before Game 6 began. "We've been able to figure it out and find our way through and scratch our way through. This is the last test. This is the last pop quiz for us that we need to pass in order to make it all worth it."
They didn't pass.
So therefore, it wasn't all worth it.
"We give credit to the Dallas Mavericks," Wade said. "They're a hell of a team. ... We ran into a team that at this time is obviously better than us."
Miami had chances to take command and wasted them all. The Heat missed 13 of their 33 free throws, let the Mavericks score 27 points off turnovers and simply could not get a rebound in the final minutes.
Nowitzki finished 9 for 27, and the Mavs still won. He was 1 for 12 in the first half, and they were still ahead, 53-51, thanks largely to Terry's 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
"Was he unbelievable tonight or what?" marvelled Nowitzki.
Down the stretch, Terry made another contribution. He grabbed Nowitzki during a time-out, telling him, "Remember '06." The final minutes belonged to Dirk and the Mavs, and a few German flags waved in Miami's arena during the post-game celebration.
"This feeling, to be on the best team in the world, it's just undescribable," Nowitzki said.
After James got off to such a fast start, he had two points in the final 19-plus minutes of the half.
James didn't score in the second half until a layup with 1:49 remained in the third - his first field-goal attempt since 1:05 remained in the half. Kidd made a three-pointer late in the period, pushing the Dallas lead to 79-71, and it seemed like the only people standing in the arena were the players, referees, Cuban and a few guys around the Dallas bench.
Dallas took control in the second half after some wild back-and-forths in the opening two quarters. Miami took its last lead of the game - the season - just 64 seconds into the second half, lost it 16 seconds later and chased the Mavericks the rest of the way.
They never caught them.
"I can't believe the journey," said Kidd, who lost two previous finals trips with the New Jersey Nets. "The journey, the character of my teammates telling me they wanted to get me a championship. Tonight they came out and played well. I came here twice, this being my third time so third time was the lucky charm."
It was 81-72 entering the fourth, after Ian Mahinmi made a foul-line jumper as time expired in the third, just his third basket of the entire series.
None were bigger. The Mavs could taste a title.
"We had no champions on this team," Mavs centre Tyson Chandler said. "And we walked away with a team full of champions."
Of the principal characters from the 2006 series, only Cuban, Nowitzki and Terry remain from the Mavericks' side, and for them, the beginning of this championship celebration seemed sweeter than even they could have imagined. Terry won't have to get his tattoo - the one of the NBA championship trophy - removed, which he vowed to have done if Miami won this series. Nowitzki will never be in the conversation of 'Best player without a title' again.
James is clearly the one with that most-unwanted label now.
"It hurts," James said. "Of course. I'm not going to hang my head low. I know how much work as a team we put into it."
NOTES: Carlisle improved to 11-3 as a coach with a chance to close out an opponent. ... James got a 21-minute rest in the second quarter in real time, thanks to a midcourt dustup and the referees taking several minutes to look at replays before doling out the technicals. ... Marc Anthony sang the national anthem, then took a courtside seat near the Heat bench.
Future Bright For Canadian TV, Festival Hears
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman
(Jun 13, 2011) The Banff World Media Festival kicked off late Sunday with a look at the state of the Canadian television industry, which, according to the high-powered panellists involved in the discussion, may be challenging, but is also exciting - with tremendous changes that will provide new opportunities for broadcasters, content providers and viewers.
"If you go back two years, this was an industry in Canada and in this room that was on the brink of disaster," said Kevin Crull, President, Bell Media.
"Let's fast forward to today and we have a lot of vibrant competition, we have a ton of investment going on right now; I think we have the most vibrant creative environment that we've had in many years in this industry. We have multiplatform technology getting funded and experimented and I think we have some stability for our industry going forward."
One positive development that received some attention from the panel (moderated by The Globe and Mail's Gordon Pitts) was the terms of trade agreement reached in April between Canada's private broadcasters and the Canadian Media Production Association - a mention of which received applause in the room filled with members of the production industry.
The industry, though, is not without its concerns, among them upcoming CRTC hearings on vertical integration. For companies such as Bell and Rogers which both create content and provide it to viewers on various platforms, this is an important issue.
"Vertical integration is a wonderful thing for the Canadian industry," said Phil Lind, Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications. "It means scale and with vertical integration you get scale, so that things that might have struggled under a small broadcaster can now be enhanced and go forward. So I think there are one or two potential problems, but overall it's s a very, very good thing for Canada; not only a good thing for Canada - necessary, absolutely necessary."
Added Mr. Crull: "I really do worry that ... where vertical integration was a necessary step forward to get off that brink of disaster, that regulation will make us take two steps back."
Shaw Media President Paul Robertson agreed that vertical integration is "wonderful" but added: "we have to watch out to make sure that some of the small and independent players have fair access."
If the big communications companies want the CRTC to back off on vertical integration, it's a different story when it comes to so-called over-the-top providers such as Netflix and Apple TV. There was talk of the need for level playing fields, and warnings about what could result if such providers don't face the same regulatory requirements as Canadian cable companies.
"I think if cable gets shaved or cut and everyone goes to Netflix then obviously it impairs our ability to contribute to the CMF [Canadian Media Fund] and all these other things that we do," said Mr. Lind. "I think that the current posture of some, especially in government, is 'look, let the flowers bloom; let's let everybody have everything and go to it, guys.' The problem is that may have serious implications down the road. I'm not warning everybody that it's around the corner, but down the road it could have serious implications for the Canadian content industry."
Mr. Crull said it was important, but "very, very costly" for broadcasters to create Canadian content. "If you're competing with somebody who doesn't have that obligation, you can't compete."
While the CBC's Executive Vice President, English Services Kirstine Stewart pointed out that Netflix purchased "quite a few hours" of Canadian content from the CBC, Astral Television Networks President John Riley said there's a big difference between purchasing already-made programming, and doing what Canadian broadcasters and cable companies are required to do. "People like us are at the forefront at the beginning. We're there at the licensing stage, we commission programming, we help that programming get made."
But Mr. Crull said the Netflix effect should be kept in perspective. "For all the fear we have about Netflix, it is very, very nascent. The amount of total viewing is not even a drop in the bucket yet."
The panellists were unanimous on the need to embrace new technology, and seemed anything but reluctant; there was some genuine excitement about the opportunities technology could afford. Mr. Crull talked about simultaneous viewing apps for smartphones, tablets or laptops. And Riley stressed the need for getting the panoply of digital rights to allow viewers to watch anytime, anywhere.
The industry may be facing unprecedented change, but the feeling in the room was lighthearted (lots of friendly barbs) and optimistic.
"I think that we've done a remarkable job in this country building a strong and vibrant and distinctive Canadian broadcasting system in the face of an entertainment giant to the south and also constant change in technology," said Mr. Riley. "My view is that has been a great thing for Canada, and we should do everything we can to continue and maintain that distinctiveness. And if we do all of us will be better off in the room as well as Canadian consumers."
Black Is Back On Toronto Radio
Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry
(Jun 9, 2011) Toronto is getting a new radio station geared to the black and Caribbean communities.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission gave approval Thursday to the decade-long licence quest of Fitzroy Gordon’s Intercity Broadcasting Network (previously known as CARN).
“The commission is convinced that the proposed service will add cultural and racial diversity and will benefit the Caribbean and African communities of Toronto with its spoken word programming and musical format,” read the decision.
“It’s a very happy day,” said Intercity president and majority shareholder Gordon, who hopes to have the yet-unnamed 98.7 FM on the air this fall. “I feel blessed.”
Jamaican native Gordon, a former medical technologist who covered sports for FAN 590 and the Toronto Sun, and helmed the nightly Dr. Love show on CHIN-FM 100.7 FM for seven years, said he never lost hope during the arduous process, which included opposition from national media giants.
“I was determined to get it, because for me, it was not just about getting a radio station for a business,” he said. “I want to leave a legacy for the black and Caribbean population of Canada. I want to make sure that never again will this large population we have be out of a radio station. If the people are going to be successful then they must have a voice.”
The New Flow 93.5 FM, which debuted in 2001 as Toronto’s first commercial black radio station, was sold to CTV for $27 million earlier this year. But the station’s hits-oriented devolution had long disenchanted the supporters of the politically charged campaign which garnered its licence.
Unlike with Flow, the CRTC has imposed conditions of licence on 98.7 to ensure its cultural mandate, such as a minimum 50 per cent world beat and international music, nearly six hours of news weekly and 10 per cent spoken-word programming.
But Gordon says the community must also do its part to maintain the wide range of music, issue-oriented talk shows, local and international news, and sports coverage he has pledged.
“We heard that Flow, for example, had to change (format) because they weren’t getting the business from the black population,” said Gordon. “
We need the black population to put their money where their mouths are. We lost one before, let’s not lose another one.”
Calling it “premature,” the CRTC denied CBC’s request to restrict Gordon’s ability to sell the station. Citing concerns about interference, CBC first objected to the broadcast licence Gordon was awarded in 2006 (on his second try) because it was four notches away from CBC’s 99.1. CBC did not withdraw its complaint when Industry Canada testing found no impact on its signal.
Rogers, Astral and CTV submitted a joint intervention to the CRTC in April over concerns about a “lack of transparency” in licensing 98.7 FM.
“I always believe in the David and Goliath story, and as big as Goliath was with all his army, David had one stone for him and I had one stone for all of those guys,” said Gordon of the interventions of the media behemoths.
He doesn’t believe his lobbying of the federal government, including a private one-on-one chat with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, yielded special treatment.
“Industry Canada and the CRTC saw my determination and they realized that there is a need,” he said.
Dallas Green's True Blues
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler
(Jun 14, 2011) I resist the urge to ask Dallas Green to show me some leg.
Oh yes, it's true. The well-illustrated young man in front of me is talking about Son House, and how he has a tattoo of that particular bluesman on his body. Peculiar? Not really. It should surprise no one that the Juno-winning singer-songwriter who wears his heart and despair so openly on his sleeve would also wear his influences smack on his thigh.
"Son House's story is what attracted me to him," says Green, 30, who just released his third solo album Little Hell. "His voice, everything - it's so raw."
I wouldn't normally have connected any dots between Son House, the troubled but truthful Delta-born blues bleeder, and Green, more of the sensitive troubadour type. But look beneath the skin. Son House was one of those bothered Southern bluesman - torn between the preachings of Sunday and the carrying-ons and Devil's music of the night before.
As one of the members of the aggressive, post-hardcore band Alexisonfire as well as the artist behind the soft melodies and sombre sentiments of his solo project City and Colour, Green has his obvious flipsides too. Beyond that, he's a world-class worrier despite the fact that his career is shining brighter than ever.
"I don't think I'm necessarily as melancholic as my material," Green says, speaking in the townhouse in Toronto's Cabbagetown that holds Dine Alone Records, home both to Alexisonfire and City and Colour. "Writing has always been a cathartic process. When something has affected me, that's when I write. Or, when I'm writing, that's what I'm drawing from."
Apparently so. The quiet epics of Green's elegiac, beautiful Little Hell often find him fretful. Natural Disaster, while upbeat musically, concerns houses and upset foundations. The title track begins with Green, who is happily married to television personality Leah Miller, gently despairing "What if I can't be all that you need me to be?" and going on to use the word penitent. And Sorrowing Man requires no explanation.
"My mother is the same as I am," says Green, calm, well-spoken and particularly dour. He's bearded and extensively tattooed, but crisply groomed, attired all in black, from his shoes to his thick-framed spectacles.
The title of Grand Optimist refers to his father. Green, on the other hand is the "world's poor pessimist" who fears he'll die from complications that arise from "things that I've left undone." Asked about his father's upbeat nature, Green smiles. "My dad is always trying to talk me out of my worries."
Green has been known to cover Son House's Grinnin' in Your Face, an a cappella holler about duplicity and the rareness of true friendship. "It's true," Son House once said about the song. "It ain't foolishness. It's happening every day." Son House believed that blues music was about one thing only - a man and a woman. Everything else, he argued, was "monkey junk."
Along those lines, Green's material is almost exclusively relationship-based. "Other songwriters are storytellers," he says. "I hope my material is relatable enough that people can draw from the experiences."
The connections are being made. The first two City and Colour albums (2005's Sometimes and 2008's Bring Me Your Love) have gone platinum in Canada (80,000 copies sold). "I think it's the honesty, and the emotion of the music that's attracting people to it," Green says, when asked about his appeal. "It's not the any image or flashiness. Other artists do anything they can to conform, or they get people to help them write their songs. But I write the songs I hear in my head."
Confessions of a apprehensive mind are working well for Green, who needn't change a thing. Blues sell, always. In that respect, he has nothing at all to worry about.
VIDEO: Our Pop Future: Allie Hughes
Source: www.thestar.com - by: Chandler Levack
(June 15, 2011) Who is she? Allie Hughes is what happens when musical theatre nerds are left to their own devices. A former contestant on CBC Sound Of Music-reality show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Hughes started her own band with vanguard students from U of T’s Faculty Of Music in 2008. But don’t let her background fool you, Hughes is way more cerebral and twisted than her pretty façade might imply. Having collaborated with many local luminaries (including Austra and Gentlemen Reg), her recent show at the El Mocambo was a homage to Carrie’s doomed prom night, complete with a bucket of fake blood dripping down the singer’s grinning face.
What does she sound like? With a voice that can go from Mariah-dolphin squeak to a sultry blues solo, Hughes is a gifted performer who immediately infatuates a crowd. She also likes to get weird. Her signature tracks include a swinging ode to hiding in the bushes of a guy who spurned you (“Chad”), an operatic heavy metal burner that spaces out into Of Montreal-psychedelia (“Damaged Nail”) and a confessional heartbreaker that transcends Avril Lavinge-style pop to poetry (“Rolling Days”). Her committed session band (performing in everything from dashikis to space suits, depending on Hughes’ musings) adjusts the sound to meet the song, but excels at a dreamy jazz-pop fusion. Stay for a frenetic, Glee-ful cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”
Where can I see her play? At NXNE, obviously. Allie Hughes plays Wrongbar tomorrow, Thursday June 16, opening for F-cked Up. Her debut full-length will be released this year, so steel yourself with Hughes’ debut EP.
Taking The Lang Way
Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner
(June 15, 2011) It's evident within seconds of sitting down with k.d. lang during the initial Toronto press sweep for her latest album, Sing It Loud, that she's not the most enthusiastic subject/participant.
She's not standoffish or unpleasant, by any means. She's actually just about exactly as politely disinterested in singing her own praises for the Nth time today in a posh Yorkville hotel suite as you'd kinda hoped that a cool customer like k.d. lang would be. She simply wanders into the room in a shapeless, black sweatshirt/jeans combo, utters a whoosh of palpable gratitude at the fact that she doesn't have to pose for another photo and then sinks into a corner of the couch.
She sloughs off successive invitations to expound upon the restless artistic spirit that has — improbably — staked her out as arguably the niftiest contribution Canada has ever made to the ongoing evolution of country music (sorry, Shania) with a bunch of self-effacing shrugs and half-finished “I don't know . . . ” responses.
Still, offers her interrogator, it must be pretty cool to contemplate the cultural distance separating the k.d. lang who first stormed Nashville out of rural Alberta to widespread outrage there — as an androgynous, shock-haired, pinko-vegetarian interloper during the mid-1980s — from the multiplatinum-selling, Olympics-soundtracking superstar who returned to Tennessee this year to make Sing It Loud with nary a raised eyebrow.
“It was the environment, but it wasn't about the record,” says lang, 49, of Nashville, to which she decamped once again from her home in Los Angeles to record the new album after a fortuitous, friend-of-a-friend introduction to ex-Guster player Joe Pisapia, who wound up co-writing and co-producing Sing It Loud. “Joe just happened to live in Nashville. He doesn't know anything about country music.
“It was so odd to go back in the beginning, but I started to get really into it. There's this pocket in East Nashville that's just really, really vibrant. Jack White lives there, Ben Folds lives there, Gillian Welch. There's just this incredibly thick, dense population of hipsters and great musicians and even, you know, vegetarians . . .
“I just went: ‘Oh, this isn't the Nashville that I was in.' That Nashville is still there, but it wasn't exactly the Nashville that I was in during the '80s.”
The k.d. lang of 2011 isn't exactly the same brash, braying, beastchild of Patsy Cline and proto-rock 'n' roll crooners such as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison that k.d. lang was 25 years ago, either, of course.
She wasn't strictly “country” to begin with, but the ground covered between “Hanky Panky,” “Constant Craving” and the boffo live rendition of Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” she delivered to renewed mainstream notoriety for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics — to use three easy, if not particularly representative reference points — is pretty major.
So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Sing It Loud isn't the full-tilt return to country that lang's much-ballyhooed “return to Nashville” had some predicting, but yet another of her inspired ruminations upon the directions into which all the pop-formative '50s blues, twang and hillbilly heartache that once passed through that city might have been steered into the present had they been left in the hands of a totally cool dyke from Edmonton.
It took a good band to get there, mind you, and lang found that in the loose conglomerate of session players-turned-touring-brothers assembled for Sing It Loud that has since been dubbed the Siss Boom Bang. The ensemble — which includes previous lang tourmates Daniel Clarke and Joshua Grange, bassist Lex Price and sometime Wallflower Fred Eltringham, in addition to Pisapia — will be accompanying her for the duration of the current tour, including a free Luminato Festival date at David Pecaut Square this Friday, and with good reason.
“It takes a while just to get a language. But this language, the understanding and the communication was there from the get-go,” she says of the Siss Boom Bang, her first proper troupe of accompanists since the original Reclines. “It was there and it is there. We just all share the same language, somehow ...
“This band, they have a real sound. When they walked in the room, it was like we'd finally found each other. It was weird. I don't really know how to explain it, but it just felt magical. It really does feel magical. It just feels like all the conditions were set and given to us.”
Adding to lang's enthusiasm for the touring trail this summer is the fact, already well documented in her discussions of the new album, that she wrote Sing It Loud with the explicit intent of playing these songs at the Canadian folk festivals that gave her her start.
“I was in the mood to play Canadian folk festivals,” she says. “It started two or three years ago that I just really wanted to do that. There's just something so beautiful about it. Hanging out in Edmonton when the folk festival was on and going to the festival, it was just such a big, happy event. Music everywhere.
“They're nice, and it's a neat tradition. When you think of Canada and the vast expanse of the land and these pockets of music that happen all the way through the Prairies, it's just really exciting. Little fires.”
The Artists Who Know How To Party
Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara
(Jun 10, 2011) Call it entrepreneurialism “underground community collective of urban artists”-style.
A group of 21 artists called 88 Days of Fortune — mainly musicians, but also visual artists and designers — is holding its second anniversary bash at Artscape's Gibraltar Point retreat/workspace on Toronto Island today from noon to midnight.
The 21-member collective has evolved out of the recognition that members have to hustle their own gigs if they want to find success in the city's super-saturated arts/culture/entertainment scene, says co-founder Ayo Leilani.
“That's exactly the whole purpose . . . to create our own opportunities and not to rely on other people to make our wishes and fortune come true,” Leilani said.
Musician Brendan Philip, who describes his style as “future soul,” puts it more succinctly.
“We were all trying to find a way to plug into the scene,” said Philip.
Even the group's name is a blend of blithe artistic spirit and sound business judgment.
Leilani consulted an online psychic who told her that her future holds 88 days of fortune, when she would “meet all the right people.” The email ended with an offer to divulge those days for an inconsiderable amount of money.
“I thought, ‘I don't want to pay . . . but actually, I like that name, 88 Days of Fortune,'” Leilani recalled.
The collective throws bi-monthly parties, usually at a donated club space, often with free admission. But anniversary events are a much bigger production, with 12 hours of programming.
Last year, the Art Gallery of Ontario offered free space for the group's first anniversary party. This year, Artscape stepped up, offering its idyllic beachfront space. The Toronto Arts Council came through with a last-minute grant on June 1.
“We were so stressed out and now we know it's going to be a great party,” Leilani added.
Musical performances at the event — entitled Wylin' on the Island — will range in style from “political dub-hop feminist” to hip hop and “alternative punk.”
The visual arts program will offer a chance to watch or dabble in a “live painting” event overseen by Sketch, an arts group of “street-involved youth.” People can also write and attach wishes or “intentions” to 80 Chinese lanterns, which will be launched into the sky at sunset.
Demonstrations will include yoga on the beach and collective members, including tattoo artists and clothing and jewellery designers, will be hawking their stuff.
Art, after all, is an enterprise.
Philip said banding together allows everyone to pool ideas and expertise. “It's like being in school honestly. It's like you've been assigned this life project and you have to play your part,” Philip said.
Despite their acumen, Philip said 88 Days of Fortune members fit the Toronto version of the bohemian artist stereotype. “We're all pretty much west-enders because we're all pretty poor,” Philip said.
Wylin' on the Island takes place at Artscape Gibraltar Point, 443 Lakeshore Ave.; tickets ($12) via Soundscapes or Clubzone. Lineup at 88days.ca
Just the Facts
What: Wylin' on the Island
When: June 11, noon to midnight
Who: Abstract Random, Brendan Philip, Maiko Watson and more
Where: Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island (443 Lakeshore Ave.)
Tickets: $12 at Soundscapes or online at Clubzone
Recants Her ‘Motown Folded’ Statement
*Maybe music labels are beginning to develop resentment toward Twitter, being that celebrities and singers show no regard to the company they represent.
Singer Erykah Badu tweeted “Motown folded” on Wednesday afternoon.
You already know what the label was doing from there.
What really happened was the label’s executive Sylvia Rhone, the Universal Motown president, left not too long ago. So folks thought maybe the tweet was true.
“They are searching for someone to bring in a senior creative role,” a label rep told Billboard. “If it’s someone that’s really creative-oriented, then it might be a different title, but if they find someone creative with business qualifications, then it could be president.”
As a result of the statement, Badu came back with a little bit of her Baduizm and redressed the comment she made, tweeting:
“There must have been a better verb I could have used. ‘folded’ seems a little … I don’t know, cowardly, huh? honest mistake.”
So all in all, Motown still float amidst the seemingly mangled mess currently festering in the offices of the label.
Healey’s True Blues Memento And More
Source: By The Associated Press | The Canadian Press
Blues - THE JEFF HEALEY BAND
All Things Live at Grossman's — 1994 (Convexe Entertainment)
(June 13, 2011) Restrained by the mediocre expectations of his handlers, by lack of funds, by the advancing cancer that eventually killed him at age 41 in 2008, and by an unimaginative, play-by-numbers domestic recording industry that passed on his ineffable genius in favour of pop acts with radio appeal, blind Toronto blues-guitar virtuoso Jeff Healey is sadly under-represented in the recording annals of this nation.
Only a couple of half-decent but sorely compromised albums before turning his back on live performing. In the absence of a standout signature recording, then, it's fitting to have this superb memento of Healey in his prime and in his preferred element, the tiny, infamous Spadina Ave. beer hall/blues haunt Grossman's Tavern, rocking out frighteningly rugged blues-rock chestnuts (“Crossroads,” “Dust My Broom,” “Killing Floor” and “All Along The Watchtower,” among others) with his first bandmates, Joe Rockman and Tom Stephen on bass and drums, for an in-your-face crowd of rowdy acolytes.
As live recordings go, this one is at least honest. What this album lacks in recording quality is more than compensated for in sweat and bravado. The core band is super-tight, if furious and frenzied at times, clearly still trying to push past the limits of the standard roadhouse trio, and nicely abetted by second guitarist Pat Rush and harmonica wiz Michael Pickett. Healey, with the simplest Strat-Fender amp rig imaginable, is in fine form, coaxing sounds from his guitar that many of his peers can produce only with an array of effects tools. In his eagerness to please, he makes mistakes in phrasing, intonation, timing, but nothing that diminishes his standing as one of rock's most original and intuitive instrumentalists. This recording, of all those in his contested legacy, will be studied by young guitarists for years to come.
Pop: OWL CITY
All Things Bright and Beautiful (Universal Republic)
As a teenage insomniac, Minnesotan Adam Young turned his middle-of-the-night wakefulness into music-creation time, spawning Owl City, a one-man, synth-and-computer source of danceable, whimsical pop. Once an online-underground act, Owl City is now totally mainstream, as Young proves on this highly polished sophomore big-label album containing 12 beguiling original tracks. The bones for most of the songs are electronic, but Young introduces sweet acoustic guitar in the beguiling duet, “Honey and the Bee.” His songs radiate a wide-eyed openness to the creative possibilities of mixing reality and make-believe, with the balance often tilting against everyday truths: “Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there,” Young sings in the opening track. Catchy hooks, inventive building of textures and Young's light touch at the computer hardware mean there's a lot to love here — even the strange homage to the victims of the Challenger space-shuttle disaster of 1986, featuring a cameo by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. Favourite track: “The Yacht Club,” a perfect piece of summer escapism — “let's sink or swim until we fall in love.” Owl City drops into Kool Haus for an all-ages live show with Unwed Sailor and Matt Kearney on June 21.
Jazz: JOHN LINDBERG'S TRIPOLAR
(a)live at Roulette, NYC (Jazzwerkstatt)
American double-bass player John Lindberg is a tireless seeker and experimenter with more energy than players half his age. This particular album feels its way through new textures and sonorities in the company reed master Don Davis (on alto and soprano sax, as well as sexy bass clarinet) and drummer Kevin Norton. The six tracks from a live New York City show are all originals — four by leader Lindberg, one each by his trio mates. There is little familiar ground here for the casual listener, as the three musicians energetically plow and noodle their way through alternative sonic universes — but give these boys enough time, and an open mind, and their creations soon take on a magnetic force of their own. Lindberg's inane and incomprehensible liner notes take the Golden Gobbledygook Prize for June.
Classical: GERALD FINLEY
There's hardly anything Ottawa-born baritone Gerald Finley can't touch and turn to gold — including “The Lost Chord,” a piece of cheesy and once wildly popular Victorian melodrama set to music by Arthur Sullivan — thanks to his earnest commitment to anything he can set on a music stand. In this particular album, Finley looks for a particular organ chord, for love and for salvation for his dying son. This is hero music crafted to a gorgeous sheen and presented as a series of mini-operas, richly accompanied by master pianist Julius Drake. Most of this generous album is devoted to German Lieder, including a rarely heard 1898 hallucination scene by Gustav Mahler. A special treat is the last song: “The Tale of the Oyster,” pulled from 50 Million Frenchmen, Cole Porter's forgotten 1929 two-act stroll amidst a Parisian movable feast. It would have been nice to get some lyrics in the booklet.
VIDEOS: Essential tracks: Songs You Need To Hear
Source: www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine
(Jun 13, 2011) Reggae: Marley: Youssou N’Dour, from Dakar (Kingston)
How better to introduce this Senegalese superstar’s reggae project than with a tribute to Bob Marley, who (as N’Dour sings) “gave the world reggae.” N’Dour doesn’t just hitch a ride on the Kingston groove, but maintains enough of his signature m’balax pulse to ensure that Africa meets Jamaica as equals.
New Kids, Backstreet Boys Keep Swinging
Source: www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser
(Jun 9, 2011) Putty. Yes, those globs of human protoplasm Air Canada Centre cleanup crew have to scrape off the floor prior to tonight’s second NKOTBSB extravaganza are unquestionably of female origin, the result of being transformed into emotional mush at the hands of a mutant strain of boybandus irresistiblus.
In a genius move of Frankenstein proportions, 1990s pre-adolescent favourites The Backstreet Boys combined forces with their 1980s forefathers New Kids on the Block for a spectacle that instantly transported the estimated 15,000 women in the crowd to the doe-eyed days of their first innocent crush (the 600 or so men at the ACC…not so much.)
They screamed. They cried – especially if they were lucky enough to be gifted with a touch from one of the nine Gods Of Puppy Love. They gazed dreamily at the stage. They sang. They danced. They screamed and cried some more, as the masculine mashup continued to use their Adonis charms to turn 20-to-40-year-old-women into shaking and quivering heaps of putty.
That the NKOTBSB crew – Jordan Knight, 41; Jon Knight, 43; Donnie Wahlberg, 41; Joey McIntyre, 39; Danny Wood, 42; A.J. McLean, 33; Howie Dorough, 37; Brian Littrell, 36 and Nick Carter, 31 (Backstreeter Kevin Richardson, 39, was the lone reunion holdout) – could turn back the hands of time so effectively reveals the magical power that nostalgia holds on the heart.
And with their slickly choreographed, impeccably timed performance – it was sort of like a two-hour West Side Story between rival gangs without the violence and with a whole arena full of Marias – NKOTBSB delivered a personal love letter to their devotees that attempted to reach each and every single fan in the building, and succeeded more often in its quest than you might imagine.
Utilizing a T-shaped stage that extended its wings to the tips of the rink walls, and a catwalk that led down to another circular platform near the goal crease, NKOTBSB worked the ramp repeatedly throughout the show, ensuring maximum up-close-and-personal visibility.
As expected, the show was a hi-tech affair loaded with explosions, fireballs, fireworks, streamers, costumes (black for uptempo, white for romance), a kick-ass four-piece band and 35 saccharine sweet love songs I hope to never hear again in my lifetime, the lyrics of which carry the emotional weight of a carrot.
But it’s all about the tease, proven by the excruciatingly long five-minute video intro which repeatedly – and numerously – featured each member of the heartthrob combos before the curtain dropped and – to the strains of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” – a platform sporting both boy bands slowly descended, God-like, onto the stage, as they were received by thunderous screams and applause.
With New Dad On The Block Joey McIntyre taking the first lead vocal of “The One,” before they alternated back-and-forth, NKOTBSB began the ritual of lifting their shirts and partially disrobing to bare shoulders and arms, blowing kisses, grabbing their crotches and other predictable displays of affection, including repeatedly yelling “TORONTO!” whenever they wanted to get a rise out of the partisan audience.
The aural foreplay continued as BSB left the stage for NKOTB to perform “Summertime,” then returned for a solo “The Call.” This back-and-forth led to both configurations performing extended sets of six songs each, with the occasional pairing (“Larger Than Life,” “Don’t Turn Out The Lights”) satisfying fans of both camps.
But giving credit where credit is due, this was an entertaining love letter to the fans punctuated by occasions when both NKOTB and BSB members ventured out into the crowd, handing out hugs and handshakes like they were campaigning for office … only more heartfelt.
It was certainly larger than life for Elaine Ortega, 22, and her friends Autumn Smith, 22 and LaTeeshya Simmons, 26, who took the GO Transit in from Newmarket to attend the event.
“It was unbelievable!” said an excited and wide-eyed Ortega, sporting a homemade New Kids On The Block T-shirt despite the fact the band peaked a year before she was born.
“Jordan and Donnie were soooo dreamy! I can’t believe they were right in front of me!”
See what I mean? Putty.
Snagging the Yemen Blues
Source: www.thestar.com - By John Goddard
(Jun 10, 2011) The band Yemen Blues interrupts a packed European tour to play a prime showcase here next week.
The ensemble of five men and four women forms one of the most in-demand world music acts of the summer, with a popular uprising to keep its namesake country in the news.
The group’s main draw, however, is its music; the players are not actually from Yemen.
Vocalist Ravid Kahalani is an Israeli Jew who has been exploring the styles of his Yemenite ancestors along with sonic elements from West Africa and elsewhere.
Band co-founder Omer Avital is a New York bass player, born in Israel to parents of Moroccan and Yemenite descent. With additional musicians from Israel, New York and Uruguay, the group melds Middle Eastern percussion instruments with cello, violin, trumpet and trombone.
The result is a stately orchestration of sounds performed, says singer Kahalani in the band’s official biography, “(in) a language you will understand no matter where you come from.”
Yemen Blues appears Tuesday June 14 as part of Luminato, a piece of news in itself. With so much else going on, the upstart arts extravaganza has been slow to make known that it runs a free festival-within-a-festival that amounts to the city’s top summer venue for world music acts.
A major shift has occurred. For nearly 20 years, Toronto music lovers wishing to open themselves to the latest global sounds headed for Harbourfront Centre’s waterfront stage. Themed weekend festivals all summer long revolved around a wide variety of music, from new Canadian talents to entire weekends devoted to trend-setting Latin and African bands.
Harbourfront’s decline as one of the country’s foremost world-music destinations began eight years ago with the departure of artistic director Derek Andrews. This year, in newspaper ads and on its website, Harbourfront lists music almost an afterthought among film screenings, canoe rides, evening picnics and cooking competitions.
Music remains a central component, Harbourfront spokespeople insist, with such partners as Franco-Fête staging events June 24-26 and such popular acts as Hamilton rocker Luke Ducet booked for Canada Day.
But topical international acts are missing and it’s not that bands from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere have stopped touring. Far from it.
The annual Sunfest festival in London, Ont., has expanded to four days, July 7-10, fleshed out with such talked-about groups as Etran Finatawa from Niger, Makadem from Kenya and Nvoz from Columbia.
To pick up Harbourfront’s slack, Luminato last year hired the same Derek Andrews, who snagged one of last summer’s big shows — West Africa’s Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba, performing with American banjo player Bela Fleck.
This month, Luminato’s world music program also features two timely Egyptian shows on June 18, headlining pop star Hakim and supported by France-based Natasha Atlas and Toronto’s George Sawa.
Luminato’s world music lineup
Luminato has consolidated its entire music program this year at David Pecaut Square, next to Roy Thomson Hall.
Free concerts of all types take place daily, detailed at www.luminato.com by clicking the “festival hub” tab. World-music highlights unfold as follows:
June 11: Italy’s Bandabardo, featuring Peppe Voltarelli, mark the 150th anniversary of Italian unification, with Juno winner Dominic Mancuso opening.
June 12: Afternoon and evening concerts feature Central Asian music, with veteran U.S. ensemble Kronos Quartet as headliners.
June 14: Toronto’s Sultans of String open for Yemen Blues.
June 16: Indian bhangra star Malkit Singh and his band Golden Star headline a show that includes Vancouver’s Delhi 2 Dublin.
June 18: Afternoon and evening Egyptian concerts star Natacha Atlas and Hakim respectively.
June 19: Britain’s Nitin Sawhney appears after co-starring in one of Luminato’s ticketed stage shows, Confluence.
VIDEO: We Remember: Coasters Lead Singer Carl Gardner Dies at 83
(Jun 14, 2011) *Carl Gardner, the original lead singer of the R&B group the Coasters, has died in Florida, reports the AP. He was 83.
Gardner’s wife Veta said her husband died Sunday at a Port St. Lucie hospice following a lengthy battle with congestive heart failure and vascular dementia.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the Coasters had a string of hits in the late 1950s, including “Searchin’,” “Poison Ivy” and “Young Blood.” Their single “Yakety Yak” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 following its 1958 release. It also spent seven weeks as the No. 1 rhythm and blues song.
According to the group’s website, the elder Gardner was born in Tyler, Texas, and moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s. He became a founding member of The Coasters in 1955.
The Coasters had 14 songs on the R&B charts, and eight of them crossed over to the pop Top 40, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their hits were written by the famed team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
The Coasters have continued to perform over the decades, with multiple changes to the lineup. Gardner has always held the rights to the group’s name, and his son, Carl Gardner Jr., took over as lead singer when his father retired in 2005.
Gardner had been a longtime advocate for legislation that would prevent bogus groups from using the names of famous acts like The Coasters, The Drifters, The Shirelles, The Platters and many others. Florida lawmakers passed such legislation in 2007.
“He was such a humble person,” his wife said. “If you met Carl, you would never know he was famous.”
A viewing and funeral services are scheduled for next week in Port St. Lucie.
Stevie Wonder Inducted into Apollo Legends Hall of Fame
(Jun 14, 2011) *Stevie Wonder took his place in Apollo history Monday night as he was honoured during the famed theatre’s spring gala with induction into the Legends Hall of Fame, which includes Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown.
Though Wonder was the main attraction, the audience was also wowed as he collaborated with a cast of friends and admirers including Tony Bennett, Chick Corea, Paul Shaffer and Doug E. Fresh, reports the AP.
“It’s a moment to cherish and remember, relishing in the memories of the times that I’ve been at the Apollo, as well as this night, the great people that came out to support me being here,” Wonder said in an interview. “It’s a great thing to be one of those people in the Hall of Fame for the Apollo.”
Bennett presented the honour to Wonder, who in turn lauded the legendary crooner for his commitment to the Apollo and to civil-rights causes.
“As much as I may never see the color of his skin, I’m able to feel the color of his spirit,” Wonder told the audience. “When it was not fashionable to hang out with the brothers and sisters, you did.”
He then recalled Bennett singing one of Wonder’s signature songs “For Once in My Life.” As Wonder began to sing the tune, Bennett joined in for an impromptu performance that ended with a standing ovation.
It was one of several during a concert that featured Raphael Saadiq, gospel singers Yolanda Adams and Kim Burrell, Melanie Fiona (see photo above), ?uestlove, Corea and others.
Beatboxer Fresh joined Wonder on an unusual and riveting performance of Wonder’s classic “All I Do,” while Wonder played the harmonica as Corea led on piano during a rendition of Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise.” Wonder also sang some of his other classics as well as a Barbra Streisand cover, “People.”
Wonder didn’t forget his political side during his acceptance speech, calling for better health care and criticizing those who fail to help others.
When asked about his comments, he later joked: “I just did it, I wasn’t even thinking about it. It was on my mind. I kind of did the Kanye (West) and expressed myself.”
The Apollo spring gala raised over $1.2 million. The funds will be used for its educational programs and to preserve the historic theatre’s legacy, organizers said.
Clemons' Stroke Serious, Springsteen Says
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(Jun 14, 2011) Bruce Springsteen says band mate Clarence Clemons' stroke was serious and he's going to need a lot of help to get back to his former self. The Boss commented Tuesday on his longtime friend and E Street Band member on his website, Twitter and Facebook. It's the first time he's spoken since it was revealed Sunday that Clemons had suffered a stroke. Springsteen calls the saxophonist a "beloved comrade" and described the stroke as "serious." He says: "Clarence will need much care and support to achieve his potential once again." Springsteen says Clemons is surrounded by wife Victoria, other family and friends, and thanked fans for their prayers and good thoughts. Clemons' family also thanked fans on Springsteen's site and urged fans to email their messages of support.
Hosting Some Pretty Classy Company On Screen
Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian
(June 14, 2011) Talk about your all-star Company!
Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical about the pleasures and pains of married life has never had a more luminous cast than the one you can catch at selected Cineplex Theatres on June 15 at 7 p.m.
Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks, Patti LuPone, Anika Noni Rose and Jon Cryer are just some of the stellar names from stage, screen and television who will be singing and dancing their way into your hearts, accompanied by 35 members of the N.Y. Philharmonic.
Originally presented at Lincoln Center this past April, the show was recorded at each of its four performances and the film version now on display combines all the energy of live theatre with the measured editing available on film.
Company centres around the life of Bobby (Harris), a handsome, successful bachelor celebrating his 35th birthday. The other members of the cast include the numerous married couples who befriend him and the three young women he’s dating in his spare time.
Anika Noni Rose, plays the part of the streetwise, kooky Marta, one of Bobby’s flames and the 38-year-old actress has had a distinguished career on stage (a Tony Award for Caroline or Change), screen (one of the leads in Dreamgirls) and television (currently a recurring character on The Good Wife).
Her character gets to belt out Sondheim’s sorry-grateful tribute to the city of Manhattan, “Another Hundred People,” and Rose told The Star that “Sondheim may have written the song over 40 years ago, but it’s still true today. New York may have changed in a lot of ways, but the pace is still the same.
“If you’re smart, you learn to avoid the subways between 3:30 and 4, when all the kids are getting out of school and between 5and 6, when everyone else is going home from work.”
Another thing the song catalogues is the experience of all the people who come to Manhattan, looking for it to change their lives and that certainly rang a bell with Rose, who came there in 1998 with no employment, hoping for her one big break.
She got it 3 weeks later, when she was cast in the Broadway musical, Footloose, which starred Canada’s Jeremy Kushnier.
“But even though I had a job, I still couldn’t figure out my way around the city. People would say things like ‘I’ll meet you on the NW corner of 34th and 10th’ and I’d ask ‘Where the heck is that?’”
And despite the fact that this production was flung together rapidly because of the crazy schedules of all the stars involved, Rose really enjoyed doing it.
“What made it a kick was that everybody was good. It wouldn’t have been cool if somebody had been squeezed in because of their TV names and not because they knew what they were doing.
“We had hard-working talented people on the stage and we all became very close in our fear and nervousness. Everyone was coming from a place of ‘We all have 10 minutes to learn this show,’ and that brought us together.”
When the same group appeared on the Tony Awards on Sunday night to perform a number from the show, Rose admits that the atmosphere was considerably more relaxed.
“It was a reunion and it was fun. There was nothing to lose. I was there to cheer on friends and meet new people and wear something pretty and have a ball.”
Which is pretty close to the experience you can have at your local Cineplex theatre on Wednesday night.
Company screens at 7 p.m. on June 15 at selected Cineplex Theatres. Go to: cineplex.com/Events.aspx to find out where it’s playing near you.
There will also be an encore presentation on July 9 at 1 p.m.
Video: Alicia Keys Celebrates A Decade on the Scene
*It was 10 years ago that Alicia Keys came on the scene with her debut CD “Songs in A Minor.” The New York City native will mark her anniversary by re-releasing a collector’s edition of “Songs” this month. Keys has also filmed a mini-documentary that reflects on her career highlights and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of her debut album… Take a look:
Lil Wayne, Drake Join BET Awards ’11 Performance Line-up
(Jun 13, 2011) *Rap giants Lil Wayne and Drake will join Chris Brown, Jill Scott and Alicia Keys as performers for this year’s BET Awards ’11, the network announced today. Lil Wayne, who is set to release his ninth album “Tha Carter IV” this August, received five nominations this year in the “Best Collaboration,” “Best Male Hip Hop Artist,” “Video of the Year,” categories as well as two nods in the “Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice” category. Drake will face his mentor Lil Wayne in the “Best Collaboration,” “Best Male Hip Hop Artist and “Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice” categories. Hosted by comedian Kevin Hart, the ceremony airs live on Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Embracing Film’s Next Dimension
Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara
(Jun 9, 2011) When Avatar burst through the $2 billion box office barrier in 2009 — becoming by far the highest-grossing movie of all time — it proved once and for all that the future of film is three dimensional.
And as the film world continues its rapid transition from traditional 2-D celluloid film to 3-D digital, a weekend conference at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is aimed at boosting the Toronto film community’s chances of capitalizing on the next wave in film — 3-D.
The conference is co-sponsored by York University’s fine arts faculty and the 3-D Film Innovation Consortium (FLIC), a group of GTA-based film companies.
Ali Kazimi, an associate professor in the university’s film department, said the three-day event will bring together an “eclectic mix” of filmmakers, artists, academics and theorists.
“It’s a truly interdisciplinary event. We believe it’s not just a first in Canada, we believe it’s the first time anywhere in the world that these ... fairly disparate groups of people have been brought together to discuss the future of 3-D cinema,” Kazimi said.
“I think this is going to be a very special event for the city. Our project has really put Toronto on the map because with this incredible sharing of knowledge,” he added.
Among the attendees: German filmmaker Wim Wenders, who will discuss his use of 3-D in his latest film, Pina, a documentary about choreographer Pina Bausch; IMAX co-founder Graeme Ferguson; international film historian Thomas Elsaesser and Irish artist/filmmaker Catherine Owens, co-director of U23D, a film a live performance of the rock band U2 band described by The New York Times as “the first IMAX movie that deserves to be called a work of art.”
Owens said her purpose in attending the conference is to encourage new filmmakers and to “make sure that 3-D doesn’t get completely owned and occupied by Hollywood.”
Recent advances — including the Avid stereoscopic 3-D editing system and cameras by companies like Panasonic and Sony — make the technology not only easier to work with than traditional film but affordable, Owens said.
“For me, 3-D is a very exciting canvas and a new tool. One of the lovely things about 3-D is that right at the moment, there’s not very many rules other than doing a lot of preparation and making sure you know your medium. As an artist, it’s very appealing to work with a medium where people are just beginning to develop the conversation,” Owens said.
While Avatar director James Cameron pioneered the modern use of 3-D as a vehicle to create visionary blockbusters, other renowned filmmakers are also embracing it such Wenders, Oscar-winner Ang Lee and Werner Herzog, who’s latest film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, reveals ancient artworks in France’s famed Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave.
Until the debut of Avatar in December, 2009, there was little interest in 3-D as a new frontier in film, Kazimi said.
“Now everybody is jumping on the bandwagon. As a filmmaker, I feel it’s a very exciting time because when used properly, 3-D offers a whole new language for filmmakers,” Kazimi said.
Owens said 3-D technology will be accessible within a year or two to laptops, net-books, iPads and iPhones.
“So filmmaking is sort of a great battleground for 3-D but actually, I think its application is going to be in many other disciplines that we just haven’t been talking about it,” Owens said.
The influence of 3-D on technology and future generations is an important issue, Owens pointed out.
“Some very strong conversations have to happen ... not just about all the commercial aspects (of 3-D) but about the creative and the cultural and the social and political. Otherwise, it’s just going one big series of video games,” she added.
IIFA Awards: Shah Rukh Khan coming to
Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry
(Jun 10, 2011) The King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, is coming to Toronto for the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards later this month.
The 45-year-old actor, producer and TV host headlines a who’s-who of Indian cinema slated for the 12th annual awards being staged for the first time in North America.
Other A-list attendees include IIFA ambassadors Anil Kapoor and Preity Zinta, who were here for the event announcement in January, and leading man Saif Ali Khan, who will also host the IIFA Rocks fashion show at Ricoh Coliseum on June 24.
Shah Rukh Khan is up for Best Performance in a Leading Role (Male) for the top hit My Name is Khan, which is nominated in seven categories, including Best Film and Best Screenplay.
Based on a true story, My Name Is Khan is about the racial profiling of Muslims after 9/11. Khan stars as an autistic Muslim man who sets out on a journey across America, on a mission to meet the country's president and clear his name.
During a promotional visit to the U.S. for the film in 2009, Khan, Bollywood’s highest-paid star, complained that he was detained by Newark airport immigration officials because his name came up on a terrorist watch list.
My Name Is Khan is reportedly the highest-grossing Indian film of all time in the overseas market, but will have stiff competition at the June 25 Rogers Centre awards gala where Once Upon a Time in Mumbai and Dabangg lead the field with 12 and 11 nominations, respectively.
Other confirmed IIFA nominees, include, actors Ranbir Kapoor, who is up for Best Performance in a Leading Role (Raajneeti), and Arshad Warsi, who is vying for Best Performance in a Supporting Role (Ishqiya).
Actor Ritesh Deshmukh, who is nominated for Performance in a Comic Role (Houseful), will reprise his role as co-host of the awards with Boman Irani. He will also walk the environmentally friendly green carpet at the world premiere of Double Dhamal at Silvercity Brampton on June 23, with co-stars Kangana Ranaut, Mallika Sherawat and Arshad Warsi.
Other confirmed IIFA attendees include Fardeen Kahn, Malaika Arora Khan, Esha Deol, Dia Mirza, Arbaaz Khan, Neha Dhupia, Boman Irani, Rishi Kapoor, Zayed Khan, Madhavan, Ranveer Singh, Zeenat Aman, Neetu Kapoor, Rajiv Kapoor, Hema Malini, Sharmila Tagore and Shatrrughan Sinha.
Performers at the sold-out awards include Bobby and Sunny Deol performing live for the first time with their father Dharmendra, and Priyanka Chopra
E. Lynn Harris Novels Coming to the Big Screen Soon
*Although we won’t be getting anything new from late novelist E. Lynn Harris, all of his fans will have a brand new way of connecting with his work. The Root recently reported that Tracey Edmonds of Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus Span of Proteus E2 productions have developed a series of films based on the library of the writer.
The first novel up for the project is “Invisible Life.” The film will be a joint production with Shelia Ducksworth, Glendon Palmer and Jovan Johnson.
It was only two years ago Harris passed, but he made the deal before his death. Shortly after making everything final, he passed away from a heart attack in his hotel room.
“E. Lynn Harris entrusted Proteus and myself with his dream of seeing his books translated into film,” says Edmonds about Harris. “After his tragic passing, we are even more determined to see his dream become a reality. With his first blockbuster novel, ‘Invisible Life,’ we begin the journey that millions of his fans have traveled.”
Spann adds, “My dear friend E. Lynn was a man with an unshakeable spirit and an unbreakable passion to inspire and change lives. He entrusted with me his vision and the responsibility to produce this American coming of age love story accurately through the lens of sensitivity in which it was originally created. This project is a must for his millions of fans. Because if we were all honest, we would acknowledge, that we all live a portion of our lives ‘invisible.’”
Edmonds‘ most recent success is “Jumping the Broom,” which so far has brought in over $36 million at the box office. It was budgeted at only $6.6 million.
A Thrilling Iraq-Inflected Update Of A Racine Masterpiece
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Martin Morrow
(Jun 13, 2011) Three years ago, Arsinée Khanjian gave a riveting performance in Judith Thompson’s The Palace of the End, as an Iraqi woman who witnessed the torture of her children under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Now, she pours that same scorching intensity into her eponymous role as the mother of all anguished mothers in Necessary Angel’s savage, Iraq-inflected update of Jean Racine’s Andromache.
She’s more than matched by her co-stars in this visceral re-imagining of Racine’s masterpiece, set in the smouldering aftermath of the Trojan War. Canadian poet Evie Christie has reshaped the original 17th-century French text into profanity-peppered modern English, replete with current military and political jargon. Scottish director-designer Graham McLaren plunges us into a post-invasion world that looks like one of those Baghdad palaces overrun by the coalition forces. The actors, with buzz cuts and fatigues, are more likely to make you think of The Hurt Locker than of ancient legends.
I wasn’t a fan of McLaren’s 2009 Hamlet, his first collaboration with Toronto’s Necessary Angel. But with this new show, premiering as part of Luminato, his deliberately raw and ugly approach proves perfectly suited to the raw and ugly passions of Racine’s characters.
Andromache is all about obsessive love. The Greek general Pyrrhus (Christopher Morris) is meant to marry the princess Hermione (Christine Horne), but lusts after his Trojan hostage, Hector’s widow Andromache (Khanjian). With the Greeks clamouring to kill Andromache’s young son (Kieran McNally Kennedy), Pyrrhus blackmails her into marrying him to save the boy’s life. That drives Hermione so insane with jealousy that she sets about convincing her besotted suitor Orestes (Steven McCarthy) to kill Pyrrhus in return for her love.
Morris is ferocious as Pyrrhus, whose blood-thirsty behaviour on the battlefield spills over into his personal life. McCarthy is pathetically lovesick as Orestes, while Horne’s conniving, racist Hermione is spectacularly loathsome. When words fail her, she vents her rage by playing violent video games and blasting the not radio-friendly version of Cee-Lo Green’s Forget You at a teeth-clenching volume.
Khanjian, meanwhile, is a vaguely Middle Eastern and unquestionably dignified heroine, whose selfless love for her son stands in stark contrast to these sordid Greeks. You might come away from this Andromache seeing it as a scathing commentary on shallow western values. You will come away knowing you’ve seen a thrilling reinterpretation of a classic.
Adapted from Racine by Evie Christie
Directed by Graham McLaren
Starring Ryan Hollyman, Christine Horne, Arsinée Khanjian, Steven McCarthy, Christopher Morris
A Necessary Angel Theatre Company production
At the Theatre Centre Saturday in Toronto
Andromache runs until June 19.
Chastain’s A New Face. But Not For Long
Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Here’s how ready Jessica Chastain is for stardom: Even though a recent motocross accident had her hobbling through a round of interviews in Toronto this week on crutches and with a knee brace, she still did it in black patent Louboutin platform stilettos that were six inches tall. Maybe seven. It was a great physical metaphor for how confident she is about risking her neck for her art.
But who is Jessica Chastain? Good question, if only for the next week or so. Because soon, she’s going to be inescapable. A northern California native, she was the first person in her family to attend college – the Juilliard School – which she did on a scholarship provided by fellow northern Californian Robin Williams (though they have yet to meet). After graduation, she worked steadily in theatre and TV, and now, at 30, is generating the kind of “Where did she come from?” excitement of a young Cate Blanchett.
Chastain shot 11 films in the past four years, and through the caprices of scheduling, seven of them are coming out this year. She plays Brad Pitt’s wife in The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick’s long-gestating passion project, which opened in select Canadian cities on Friday. The Fields, a thriller, is due in July. August brings The Help, based on the best-selling novel about 1950s-era black maids and their white bosses in the American South; and The Debt, where Chastain plays a young Helen Mirren. Wilde Salome, directed by and co-starring Al Pacino (Chastain is the title character), will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September. Then there’s Take Shelter (opposite Michael Shannon) in October, and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, directed by and co-starring Ralph Fiennes, in November.
It’s a staggering list, but Chastain seems to have navigated it as smoothly as she is her crutches. In person, she exhibits a confident stillness. Her voice is calm and dreamy, and she takes her time composing her answers, turning her head toward the window contemplatively to do so. In profile, with her red hair, fair skin and full lips, she has the grace and composure of a John Singer Sargent subject.
“I do fight, though, I fight for these roles,” she said. “These aren’t things that are just offered to me.”
For The Debt and The Help, Chastain met with the directors, auditioned, screen-tested. For The Tree of Life, she auditioned “for months.” At a recent lunch with Juilliard’s current graduating class, “the power of auditions was the one thing that I really tried to get them to understand,” she said. “You shouldn’t walk into the room with the energy of, ‘Oh, I hope you like me.’ Apologizing for yourself before you even do anything. You should walk into the room and take control of it. It’s your time, your opportunity to act. Approach it like you would a scene class. Allow each audition to be a lesson. So even if you spend years not getting a job, you’re still growing as an actor.”
She consistently chooses character over paycheque or opportunity for fame, and she’s never been afraid to turn roles down. “I started saying no from the very beginning,” she said. “For me, it’s not about making it in film or TV. So I never felt a desperate need to get a job. I know why I’m in the business and I feel confident enough that I can say no, and it doesn’t mean I’m never going to work again. I don’t have that fear.”
She does try to absorb every moment of experience that she can. Wilde Salome was the first film she made, and Pacino “taught me everything about the camera,” she said. “He taught me to love it, to not be self-conscious about it. He said, ‘Your camera is closer to you than your scene partner. It’s a part of you, it sees into your soul. So if you try to ignore it or hide yourself from it, you’re doing a disservice.’ And just as your arm is a part of you, so you don’t acknowledge your arm every second, once you allow the camera into your soul, then you can forget about it.”
But working with Malick, she said, “is unlike working on any other film set. It’s about letting go of any expectation or plan.” Her character, Mrs. O’Brien, is a sun-dappled Ur-Mother, and to prepare, Chastain learned to meditate, looked at paintings of the Madonna in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, watched old Lauren Bacall films and spent two weeks bonding with the boys who play her sons, taking them bowling and on picnics – “everything I could do to fill myself with grace,” she said.
But when the cameras rolled, Chastain continued, “Terry isn’t a director who leads with an iron fist and forces moments to happen. We had to be open to an unexpected moment falling upon us.” In one scene, it happened literally, when a butterfly landed on her at just the right moment. In another, during a domestic argument, Chastain spontaneously rubbed a pepper over Pitt’s face. “I know, it sounds crazy,” she said, laughing, “but we had absolute trust in each other. He’s a great teammate. I didn’t know he was going to grab me, either. But we were always prepared for the unexpected.”
Chastain is trying to live her life the same way. “On one side of the coin, I feel absolute bliss and excitement that after all this time, people will finally know what I know,” she said. “People are finally starting to experience what I experienced making this film, and all of my films coming out. On the other side, I have this tiny kernel of anxiety: What does that mean for my life? But I’m trying to take it day by day, being open to the wonderful experience this is. Each day is better than the last.”
That’s what the motocross accident was about. She’d just returned from the Cannes Film Festival, “where I was wearing frou-frou gowns and drinking champagne,” The Tree of Life won the Palme d’or, Take Shelter earned the Critics Week prize, a bidding war ensued for another of her films, The Wettest County in the World (the Weinstein Company won, and will release it in 2012), “and it was just insanely amazing,” Chastain said. Offered a motocross lesson, she thought, “That sounds fantastic, and so different from what I’ve been doing.” She smiled ruefully. “I was really, really good at it – until I crashed.” That’s okay. In every other way, she’s soaring.
Green Lantern: It’s Not Easy Being
Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard and Blake Lively. Directed by Martin Campbell. 114 minutes. Opens midnight June 16 at major theatres. PG
(June 15, 2011) Midway through Green Lantern, there’s a brief glimpse of the superhero movie this could have been.
It’s the scene where the title avenger, played by Canada’s Ryan Reynolds, slides his ridiculous toy ring onto his middle finger, which it seems he’s about to raise.
No such luck. No rigid digits are extended at this emerald excess, which just goes to show you what can happen when you let computers read comic books. They force humans to do the craziest things, like pouncing around the universe with what looks like outcasts from the Star Wars cantina, or maybe the Emerald City of Oz.
Reynolds plays the straight man almost too well in this cosmic cuckoo’s nest, which in fairness is exactly what serious fanboys of the various Green Lantern incarnations want. (Many were aghast to learn of earlier plans of a parody version starring Jack Black.)
Regular moviegoers, however, the ones who appreciate a ripping good action yarn with a few laughs, may yearn — or yawn — for more.
Reynolds keeps his natural cynicism in check, for the most part, and while I wish he’d been allowed to crack wise more often, that’s not what’s on offer from journeyman director Martin Campbell and his committee of screenwriters.
After mixed results with reviving Zorro (The Mask of Zorro and its anemic sequel) and super results in twice reinventing the 007 franchise (GoldenEye and Casino Royale), Campbell seems unsure of what to do with one of the most shopworn figures from the DC Comics stable.
Go campy, as per Zorro, or macho, as per Bond? He seems to have split the difference, allowing his art director, costume designer and special-effects people to go on a bilious bender, to the point where even the action clothing is digitally applied. Green Lantern is the visual equivalent of being dumped into a vat of green Jell-O, in 3-D, yet.
Meanwhile, Campbell and Reynolds get down to the serious task of making a real man out of Hal Jordan, the cocky test pilot whom we meet as he’s busting up billion-dollar jet prototypes just for the hell of it. Oh, and also to impress Carol Ferris (Blake Lively, not so), who has the combo role of corporate scold, frustrated pilot and occasional bedmate for Jordan.
A buffed-up Reynolds proves to be an inspired hire, for an enterprise that frequently dives into the absurd. His Hal Jordan manages to keep the requisite straight face when he meets a dying purple alien, who hands him a Crackerjack toy and the advice: “The ring chose you.”
Chose him for what? Well, it involves digital green Spandex and a tour of the outer cosmos, whereupon Jordan confers with a gaggle of emerald-obsessed interplanetary cops who call themselves the Green Lantern Corps.
They’re ruled by a circle of tall-foreheaded Einsteins called the Guardians, one of whose number has gone rogue and turned into a planet-eating smoke entity called Parallax, who eats fear for breakfast.
Jordan will have to fight Parallax to save Earth — you were expecting anything less? — but first he has to be booted into shape by an upright talking fish (an unrecognizable Geoffrey Rush), a not-so-jolly green giant (Michael Clarke Duncan) and a bald martinet who looks like Clark Gable in a Vulcan version of Gone with the Wind.
This last creature is named Sinestro, played with impressive authority by Mark Strong, a character whom Green Lantern fans know is more than meets the green eye.
A big problem with this movie is that it’s more intent on establishing a franchise than telling a stand-alone story, forcing us to consume gobs of tedious exposition and various red-green herrings while we wait for the main course. The time wasters include Peter Sarsgaard’s Hector Hammond, a wacky scientist turned evil Parallax wannabe, who departs from the holy comic text in the way he acquires his super powers and facial deformities.
We also have to pound the shoe leather common to every superhero origin saga, wherein Jordan dithers over his motives while learning what he can do with his ring-bestowed powers. Whatever he imagines, the ring can conjure up — which in Jordan’s case is a Boy’s Own collection of green machine guns, catapults and racing cars, the latter of which is part of a Hot Wheels promotional tie-in.
And when the time comes for the big bout, what do all those jabbering Green Lantern Corps freaks and Guardians do? Let’s just say you really find out who your friends are when a giant angry cloud threatens to gobble your planet.
Of course, it must be stated again that for those who love this kind of cartoonish action, Green Lantern will be right in their tree fort, especially for those who haven’t yet reached puberty.
It’s more Saturday-morning cartoon than Friday-evening date movie, which may please parents who will be enjoined to take their kids to this.
And Reynolds definitely shows promise in the role, if future instalments can scrape away some of the digital green goo and deliver a more satisfying story, an admittedly hard thing to do with a franchise as loopy as this one.
It’s not easy being green, as a certain wise frog once observed.
Beginners A Coming-Out Present For Director’s Dad
Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson
(June 15, 2011) When it comes to surprising plot twists, real life has a talent for surpassing any imaginative faculties. That fact was made clear to Mike Mills several years ago, when the American artist and filmmaker’s mother passed away and his formerly mild-mannered father came out as a gay man at the age of 75.
Understandably, the elder Mills’ determination to live out his final years with newfound candour and gusto had profound changes on his relationship with his son. When his father died of cancer in 2004, Mills began writing a script partially as a way to process the events he’d experienced.
The result of that soul-searching is Beginners, a delicately rendered comedy-drama that opens in Toronto this weekend. In an interview that took place just after its world premiere at TIFF last September, Mills describes the movie he made as a “hybrid” of factual and fictional elements yet it clearly speaks from the heart in many respects. That’s especially true in the way it captures the magic that can happen when someone is able to see a parent in an entirely new light.
“He became much more emotional,” says the 45-year-old Mills, who made his feature debut with the 2005 teen tale Thumbsucker. “That was one real thing about my dad that I tried to get into the film. He went from being really sweet and fine but more than a little dampened to being incredibly present. All of a sudden we could have arguments and fights and expressions of love that we never had before — that was one of the most beautiful things about him being gay to me.”
It’s no wonder that Beginners’ tone is suffused with such a mixture of affection and bewilderment. Ewan McGregor stars as Mills’ fictional surrogate, a Los Angeles graphic designer named Oliver who uses an assortment of tactics to sort out his feelings. As the film begins, he is grieving the recent loss of his father Hal. While he reflects on his dad’s life — seen in a series of vivid flashbacks, with Christopher Plummer appearing as Hal — Oliver’s own existence is further complicated by his new love affair with Anna (Melanie Laurent), a French actress he meets at a costume party. (Tellingly, Oliver dresses up as Freud while Anna is Charlie Chaplin.)
The sense of slippage between the film’s two timelines is another element that Mills feels was accurate to his experience. “I started writing it six months after my dad passed away,” he says, “and I think one part of grief is that the past will just rush up on you. It was very hard to stay in the present — there are so many unfinished conversations and the presence of the person who is no longer there is still there with you. In a way, it’s very much a portrait of what it felt like.”
At the same time, Mills is all too aware of how his own impressions of his father may not jibe with those of others. “I really wanted to indicate how slippery memories are,” he says. “I have two sisters who I didn’t include in this story and their version would be very different — my dad’s version would be very different, too.”
He also describes the story of Oliver and Anna as a fictional amalgamation drawn from his own experiences, as well as those of his friends. (In real life, Mills married fellow artist and filmmaker Miranda July in 2009.) In his words, their part of the film addresses “the difficulty of staying in love.”
The appealing air of looseness in McGregor and Laurent’s performances add greatly to the film’s overall feeling of spontaneity. But as strong as the younger cast members are, they’re trumped by the offhand grace and exuberance that Plummer brings to the role of the unconventional pater familias.
Mills is clearly thrilled at Plummer’s contributions to his film. “He’s very intelligent,” says the director. “And he’s a rascal, a deep rascal.” Mills laughs. “He’s a punk, really, and I say that with ultimate respect.”
Indeed, Plummer is responsible for many of Beginners’ lightest moments, which help transform what might’ve been a melancholy memory play into an unusually imaginative, effervescent and funny story about love’s many forms.
Mills himself was surprised to see how much Beginners (and Plummer) conveyed that aspect of his parents.
“I realized from watching the movie how both my mom and my dad had this weird, subversive sense of humour,” he says. “It’s very obvious when people watch the movie but I never thought of them this way. And Plummer really does enjoy pulling the rug out from himself and from everybody else — whatever the situation is, he’s always trying to enliven things. I love anybody who’s looking for that surprise.”
Are You Talking Aboot?
Source: www.thestar.com - by: Peter Howell
(June 15, 2011) One of the most outrageous canards perpetrated against Canucks is the determined belief by Americans that Canadians pronounce the word "about" as "aboot."
We don't, but there's nothing that can be done to convince the Yanks otherwise. It's their most popular urban legend about us.
Sure, maybe a few Canadians of Scottish extraction say "aboot." But the vast majority of inhabitants of the Great White North pronounce "about" to rhyme with "doubt."
Which is why any red-blooded Canuck watching Larry Crowne, the upcoming Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts rom-com, will doubtless fly into a quiet Canadian rage over something Roberts' character Mercy says.
When her layabout husband mumbles at her to "chill-out," the uptight Mercy replies:
"Did you use the word 'chill-oot'? Did that come from a Canadian blogger thesaurus?"
Sigh. Just another American screenwriter perpetuating a myth?
No! Larry Crowne was penned by Nia Vardalos, the Winnipeg-born writer and actress best known for My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Nia, what are you talking aboot? No maple syrup for you!
Antoine Fuqua Still Directing Tupac
(June 15, 2011) *It looks like the news that spread so fast that Antoine Fuqua was no longer a part of a Tupac biopic isn’t true at all. It was reported that the director was pulling out of the production to direct another film starring Eminem called “Southpaw.” But it turns out he’s doing both. In fact, he really is sort of obligated to direct the Tupac film, as he has been Afeni Shakur’s (Tupac’s mama) choice director. Fuqua struck up a very nice deal in the whole bit. He will be getting paid even if the company, Morgan Creek, decides not to go with him for the film. As for the production, the director is still on hot pursuit to fill the starring roles with unknown names. His desire has been well publicized with an online star search. Morgan Creek added that the company “has looked at several veteran actors,” although, “producers are leaning toward an unknown who has a similar look and background” to play Tupac.
Samuel L. Jackson Narrates Profane Bedtime Book
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(Jun 14, 2011) New York— Samuel L. Jackson is narrating the audio book for the profane hit nursery rhyme, Go the (Bleep) to Sleep. The star of such films as Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane is known for his way with a four-letter word. Go the (Bleep) to Sleep is this summer's surprise hit by tired dad Adam Mansbach. The hardcover book and audio version went on sale Tuesday. Pre-orders have kept the book high on the Amazon.com bestseller list for weeks. Film rights have already been sold. The 62-year-old Jackson is also set to make his Broadway debut this fall as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in The Mountaintop.
Banff Television Fest: Frying
The Couch Potato
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman
(Jun 10, 2011) Television-watching rituals have evolved to the point where the term couch potato may no longer apply; we're busier than we've ever been on those couches. Take David Purdy, for instance. While watching television - probably in HD and possibly something selected through video on demand - he is Googling constantly on his tablet, maybe to investigate an unfamiliar reference in a documentary, or find some background on an athlete if he's watching sports. Sure, Purdy is vice-president and general manager of television products at Rogers Communications, but increasingly, this is how we're watching TV, with a type of engagement that goes far beyond making the odd passing comment to the person at the other end of that couch.
"That program-synchronous interactivity is commonplace for me now, and I'm 45," Purdy said from Toronto this week. "If you're 25, you grew up doing it. And if you're 15, I think the thought of having to do one thing at a time is so frustrating, your head would explode."
Television isn't just about television any more. It's a multi-tasking, multimedia experience. Watching a favourite program might not involve a physical television at all, and may never have involved a network, studio or cable provider. The evolution has been mind-blowingly rapid and continues at breakneck speed, with changes ahead even industry gurus and top brass can't predict. The change is so profound that Canada's big television festival - the former Banff World Television Festival - has been renamed this year to reflect the shift in production and viewing habits. The Banff World Media Festival opens on Sunday.
"The change over the past four years has been quite impressive," says Mark Greenspan, executive director of NextMedia, which handles the digital side of the Banff festival. "We're seeing the audience interact with television or video content in a number of different ways ... and I think within this decade the way that we consume and participate in content is going to shift dramatically."
As he points out, it already has. Big television events - season finales, playoff hockey, the royal wedding - are trending on Twitter as viewers create a global living room where they can share the moment with others in a digital space. Increasingly, favourite television shows can be sourced anywhere, any time. Video-on-demand offerings have increased exponentially. Broadcasters are offering programs online. Last year alone, both Netflix and the game-changing iPad became available in Canada. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy. We're now watching "television" on computers, smart phones and tablets.
We're also watching programs that were created outside the traditional television industry. Some Web-based series have achieved tremendous success, including Funny or Die (now televised), Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and The Guild, which, going into its fifth season, has attracted more than 100 million views and has resulted in DVD sales, a graphic novel and a huge fan base.
Initially written as a 30-minute pilot for television, The Guild was rejected by broadcasters who felt a show about a group of online gamers wouldn't have wide appeal. So creator/writer/star Felicia Day took her co-producer's advice: "Since my audience was on the Internet, she said there's no reason to go anywhere but the Internet to release the show," says Day, who will be honoured at Banff for pioneering the growth of the independent Web series platform.
"I truly believe that if I'm opening the doors for other people behind me to tell stories that are not as acceptable in the whole scheme of Hollywood, then I'm doing something good with my life."
Day, 31, is the embodiment of multiplatform success. Very early on, she was promoting The Guild on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, and has partnered with Xbox and other non-traditional content-delivery services. She was hired by Electronic Arts to create the Web series Dragon Age: Redemption, based on the video game Dragon Age II. She also lands traditional acting jobs, including a role in the Vancouver-shot series Eureka. And she did the voiceover for the iPhone game based on the Vancouver-based Web series Riese.
"I feel like we're reaching an interesting turning point this year," she says. "As all of our technology puts the screens everywhere, people are looking at how to scale content in a much different way. The DVD business is kind of dying, and cable providers are feeling threatened and looking for new ways to make sure that their business model stays intact."
The industry is grappling with how to monetize the non-traditional TV viewing experience. The 30-second ad may remain the revenue backbone - for now - but in the whirlwind of change, content providers and deliverers are exploring other ways of making a buck.
"There's this term: trading analog dollars for digital pennies," says Greenspan. "Because the monetizing features aren't as robust within the digital-media side of things as the traditional broadcast side, the concern is, how do you ride the balance between an existing business model versus an emerging business model?"
Purdy says one key factor will be making it easier to sell ads or sponsorships for a single program across all platforms. Currently, it's complicated, with each platform relying on its own rating method and service.
In terms of the viewing experience, Purdy envisions a world - soon - where you can seamlessly switch viewing platforms - from television to desktop to smart phone to tablet, the program picking up wherever you left off.
With all this change, cable providers are looking for regulatory flexibility, so they can compete with piracy and so-called "over-the-top" players such as Netflix, which expects to reach one million subscribers in Canada this summer - and is not subject to Canadian content requirements. The CRTC recently issued a call for public input on online programming, a "fact-finding exercise" as it too tries to wade through the ever-changing media landscape.
What else is ahead? Purdy expects a hybrid of video and magazine-type content to emerge, a new genre created specifically for tablet viewing. Greenspan is excited about the possibility of physical computing, where rather than using a remote control, we could wave our hand to change the channel or turn up the volume.
The Monday Q&A: Howie Mandel
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman
Toronto native Howie Mandel was discovered more than 30 years ago on amateur night at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Now he's the one in the judge's seat, having just started his second season on America's Got Talent. In between, there was St. Elsewhere, the animated children's series Bobby's World, and the game-show hosting gig that redefined him, Deal or No Deal. On Tuesday, he'll receive the Award of Distinction at the Banff World Media Festival in Banff, Alta.
How are you enjoying America's Got Talent?
It's the job of my lifetime. It's what I do regardless of showing up and being paid for it. I was doing it in my underwear from the couch. And now I've been invited to the party, given some pants and a cheque. And I'm enjoying annoying the hell out of Piers Morgan.
Do you really annoy him? Or do you guys actually get along?
I really do annoy him. I don't know if he thought it was good television or what, but last year he went on a rampage and called me the most annoying man in America. He was annoyed by my taste and maybe my energy. At first it was funny, but it started wearing on me, so I made it my edict this year to make him an honest man. You want to call me the most annoying man in America? I will spend my every waking moment annoying you - blocking your dressing room, calling transportation and cancelling your rides to the studio. Whatever little prank I can think of.
What about you and Sharon Osbourne? Do you get along?
We love each other. We're neighbours; we carpool to work. Their backyard is attached to my backyard.
I imagine they're fairly large backyards.
Yeah, but still.
Do you ever see Ozzy hanging out by the pool?
I can't see his pool, but I see him in the neighbourhood and we've gone out to lunch with Ozzy and Sharon, my wife and I.
When you're judging acts, is it hard to pit kids against adults?
Truth be told, it's hard for me to even be critical to the face of a child. Obviously as a parent, no one shows up there not knowing that they're going to be critiqued and they could lose. If my five-year-old could juggle, I don't think I'd put him on the show. Then again, [young singer] Jackie Evancho did not win, but I would say far and above anybody else last year, she probably has the most fruitful career. She's done Oprah, she's done everything. And she really did have a legitimate jewel of a talent that needed to be exploited.
Why do you think Deal or No Deal has been such an enormous success?
First and foremost, I turned it down three times; I thought it would be the opposite. So nobody was more surprised, blessed and excited than I was. And I learned that it was just mindless entertainment that was incredibly relatable. Along with 26 very hot women.
Any chance you'll be the permanent replacement for Regis Philbin?
I hope that this guy in the final hour just changes his mind and stays. There's no better broadcaster on TV right now. He's charming, he's funny. He's almost 80 years old. He was one of the reasons I let my wife talk me into Deal or No Deal, because he changed the face of game shows with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I aspire to be him, not to take his place.
We're talking because you're being honoured by the Banff festival. What sort of ties do you maintain with Canada?
It's a country I still reside in; I maintain a residence in Toronto. I didn't leave Canada on my own accord. This business drew me. But any chance I have to come back to Canada and work, that's my first choice. I do production in Toronto; my company has various shows in development and production. Howie Do It was all done in Canada for NBC and we're doing more. Banff is a real honour. It always seems more important and more heartwarming to be honoured in my homeland. I have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but I've got a star on Canada's Walk of Fame, which meant even more to me.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Jada Pinkett Smith - The Latest Data on Jada
Source: Kam Williams
(June 13, 2011) Jada Pinkett Smith stars as Christina Hawthorne in TNT’s medical drama “Hawthorne.” In the role of Chief Nursing Officer at James River Hospital, Christina is forced to juggle the roles and subsequent relationships that are demanded of her as a professional, mother, friend and love interest. Jada notably serves as Executive Producer on the show through Overbrook Entertainment following her initial foray into the role of Executive Producer of the “The Secret Life of Bees” starring Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning.
The film captured hearts and went on to win two NAACP Image Awards along with two People’s Choice Awards. More recently, Jada produced the global blockbuster “Karate Kid 2” starring her son Jaden. Beyond the medium of film and TV, Jada together with her husband Will Smith and record industry mogul Jay-Z, produced the three-time Tony Award-winning musical “Fela’” which went on to enjoy a run in London at the National Theatre.
As an actress, Jada is perhaps best known for taking-charge in the hugely successful sequels “Matrix Reloaded” and “Matrix Revolutions.” In addition, Jada has played pivotal roles opposite Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in Michael Manns "Collateral," as well as alongside Meg Ryan and Annette Bening in the remake of “The Women.”
Jada also teamed up with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle in “Reign Over Me,” and her voiceover work includes the role of Gloria in “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” Later this year, she will return in the sequel which will also feature her daughter Willow.
Jada is an avid writer and her children’s book “Girls Hold Up This World” became a New York Times bestseller and continues to inspire girls all across the globe. A native of Maryland, Jada studied dance and acting at the Baltimore School for the Arts and at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Her big break came when she landed a role on the long-running NBC series “A Different World.”
Here, she talks about the premiere of the third season of her hit TNT series, HawthoRNe, and about the challenge of handling the title role of Christina. The show airs on Tuesdays at 10 PM ET & PT / 9 PM CT.
Kam Williams: Hi, Jada, thanks for another opportunity to speak with you.
Jada Pinkett Smith: Hey, Kam. How are you?
KW: I’m fine. Congratulations on your third season of HawthoRNe! How does it feel?
JPS: Oh, it feels good. It really feels good. We’re glad to be back, and I feel like we have an exciting season in store for all the HawthoRNe fans.
KW: What should fans be anticipating seeing on the show this season?
JPS: They should anticipate a highly-charged, dramatic, intense season with a lot of romance and adult issues. It’s going to be a helluva ride!
KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you and asked them to send in questions. One of them, Lowery Gibson, says: Your character is marrying a white doctor this season. Are you concerned about the fans reaction?
JPS: No, not at all. I’ve been in a relationship with this particular doctor (Tom Wakefield played by Michael Vartan) for the last two seasons, so I’m not really concerned about that.
KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: What’s the most emotionally challenging part about playing Christina Hawthorne?
JPS: Well, this year, the most challenging aspect of the role is the fact that Christina goes through an extreme trauma starting with the first episode. This whole season has actually been very emotional and highly dramatic, so I would say that, overall, it’s been a pretty difficult season to shoot.
KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
JPS: Our commitment. I think that’s the key quality. You just have to keep at it. People who enjoy sustained success understand the fact that you have to remain very committed to whatever it is you’re doing, especially in this instant-gratification culture.
KW: Judyth has a follow-up: What has been the most important moment of your life?
JPS: I’d have to say the birth of my children.
KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Will got to work with Jaden on screen in The Pursuit of Happyness. She asks: Would you like to work with Jaden or Willow?
JPS: [Chuckles] I do work with them, just in a different capacity. It’s kind of hard for mommy to be on screen at this point. Now that Jaden’s getting a little older, his needs of me are different. There’s definitely a project that he and I have talked about doing together. But first, I just have to make sure that he doesn’t need so much of mommy off screen as well. He’s getting to that point, so I definitely anticipate doing stuff like that with both of them when they’re older.
KW: Harriet was also wondering whether you worry about the effect of celebrity on your kids, given the trouble so many child stars have handling fame.
JPS: No, this is part of their lives. They’ve been members of a very high-profile family since they were born. That’s just what it is.
KW: Harriet’s follow-up is: How do you prioritize doing a TV series? How does it fit into your family’s extremely full schedule?
JPS: Everybody has to work around mommy’s schedule when I’m working. Everybody has to stand down, basically. Willow and Jaden can’t really do anything outside of L.A. That’s just how we worked it out.
KW: Do you ever wish you could have your anonymity back?
JPS: Oh, I still have my anonymity whenever I want it. I have a great way of disappearing, and I’m able to do things people would never imagine. I’m often not recognized because I’m easy to hide if I change my hairstyle or put on a hat. I disappear very easily. That’s not hard for me to do.
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
JPS: Probably walking to school by myself in the first grade. [Laughs]
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KW: I just baked a homemade pizza today, myself. It had an herbed, whole wheat dough, and was topped with mushrooms, onions and fresh garlic.
JPS: Ooh, nice!
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favourite clothes designer?
KW: The Taboo: What’s the best thing about being a parent?
JPS: The love of a child is different from any other type of love on the planet. And being loved by your children is a love that is immense. I’m always so overwhelmed by how much my children love me. I think the best part of being a parent is feeling the love of a child.
KW: Janice Malone asks: What's one or two pieces of advice that you’ve given your kids about being an actor?"
JPS: I try to stay out of their way and kind of just let them discover things for themselves. Our job as parents is more to keep other people out of their way, so they’re free to discover what works for them on their own.
KW: Thanks for another great interview, Jada. And I appreciate you’re taking a break from your busy shooting schedule on the set to talk with me.
JPS: No problem, Kam, you have a great evening.
To see a trailer for HawthoRNe, visit HERE.
Family Drama With An Anti-Bullying Message
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By John Doyle
Field of Vision
Saturday, NBC, 8 p.m.
(Jun 11, 2011) It's that time of the year when unheralded new TV movies and specials, some so-and some hopeless, appear on the schedule. This one is family-fare with a message about bullying. A young girl, Lucy, is given a "magical" video camera that reveals the future. She sees the unfolding story of her brother, a star school football player, and how he tries to handle the bullying of a new kid at the school, described as "a newcomer, book-o-phile, football player and foster system teen." She must convince her mom (Faith Ford, the only well-known actor in the drama) to act. It's all a bit stagy and pious, like a low-grade Hallmark movie knock-off. There is still a big audience for such fare and they can be deeply revealing about societal pieties.
Would Be Kings
Saturday, Sunday, A Channels, 9 p.m.
This a crime-drama miniseries (continuing Sunday, same time) first aired three years ago and it lacked attention, although it's superior entertainment - slick, hushed, intelligent and exciting. It's a Canadian drama about power, betrayal, money and revenge. It features two cops who are cousins and best friends. One is a successful careerist Patrick, (Currie Graham) and the other (Ben Bass) seems headed for disgrace and oblivion. What happens in the course of the twisting and gripping two-night story is that everything changes. Ego and evil deals intervene. When it opens, cop Patrick is looking at a local drug war unfold. There's an explosion at a drug lab. This helps to create a media frenzy and puts the cops under pressure. At the same time, Patrick's wife (Natasha Henstridge) wants a lifestyle that he can hardly afford, so Patrick starts thinking about a fast move to help his career. Things go terribly awry.
Run Run Revolution
Sunday, CBC, 8 p.m.
Part of CBC's ongoing "Live Right Now" campaign, this new special aims to inspire kids to get off the couch and get active. It documents how 10 students at Ottawa's Pinecrest Public School are persuaded to start running and compete in the kids section of the Boston Marathon. The school principal was so worried about the health and well-being of the kids that he called in experts to begin the process of ensuring an active, healthy lifestyle. We see it all play out, as usual, as inactive people face serious challenges. Although it's been pointed out that CBC is telling its audience to quit watching TV and get outside, this is what public broadcasters are supposed to do. In this case it's not some voyeuristic act of watching the lazy and the slovenly be forced to act. It's about the health of children.
65th Annual Tony Awards
Sunday, CBS, 8 p.m.
For some viewers this is the only awards show that matters - the Broadway theatre one. Neil Patrick Harris is back as host and although some critics have pointed out that nominees aren't as glamorous as last year - Catherine Zeta-Jones, Denzel Washington, and Scarlett Johansson all won something - the fun is in the wit and sometimes syrupy emotions. This year the main pop-culture figure up fir a Tony is Daniel Radcliffe from the Harry Potter movies. There will be much singing and dancing, some of it probably lewd, given that a show up for an award, The Book of Mormon, has a rep for that. Also promised is breathtaking tap dancing from Anything Goes, and much singing from Sister Act. Certainly, a better class of banter than you get at TV and movie awards.
Check local listings.
Yoba Talks ‘Alphas’ Role
Source: www.eurweb.com - by Ricardo Hazell
(Jun 13, 2011) *Malik Yoba is a household name in the African American community. Many of us still pine for “New York Undercover,” a favourite television show of our youth. But you can’t simply lock him into that role. Malik has been in such quality works as Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” franchise as well as the “Girlfriends” and “Defying Gravity” television series. Recently our Lee Bailey sat down and spoke with him about his role in the highly-anticipated Syfy cable network series “Alphas.” Yoba says he initially rejected the script at first glance thinking it was just another cop role.
“At first I mistook it for another series where I was asked to play law enforcement,” he explained. “I said I’m not interested. Then my manager and agents were like ‘You should read it’. When I actually read it and got it I thought it was kind of cool. I thought I got it when I read the script, but I really got it when I read it at the first table reading in Canada, after I was hired. Which happens. I’ve read things that I’ve written that I think I get, then I pick up and read it a year later and it speaks to me in a different way. A lot of times when you think you’re writing you’re actually channelling. You think you’re in control of your writing and you’re actually not.”
In the series Yoba plays a FBI agent with a strange attribute who is teamed with other individuals with similarly strange attributes.
“The character is Bill Hartman. He’s an FBI agent who has been put under the care of Dr. Rosen, who is studying him because he has this brain anomaly,” Yoba explained. “It just so happens that all of these people under the doctor’s care collectively have the ability to help solve these crimes that law enforcement agencies haven’t been able to figure out. But we don’t always voluntarily know what we’re doing. So, as part of our ‘care’ under the doctor, he might tell us to go do X,Y,Z. He’ll tell us to go check out a case. Me, being the only one with law enforcement training, I always take exception to it. You’re asking me to hang out with these numbskulls who don’t have any police training or anything. But, it turns out that one of them has a hyperactive sense of smell, sight or hearing. The austistic kid who is with the group is 16 years old and still lives with his Mom. Because of his autism, which actually leans more towards Aspergers, he can read data from any electronic device. It’s an interesting motley crew that has value when they come together.”
And what of his “superpower?”
“I can activate my fight or flight response, which isn’t always a good thing,” Yoba explained. “Part of the reason my character was reassigned is I was in the Bureau talking to a guy, and next thing I know his arm’s broken in three places. That’s how I realize that I have this ability, and I look to get it checked out. That’s not normal. So, he’s put under the care of the doctor. Over the course of the season we find out how each of them got one.”
As mentioned in the opening paragraph of this story, Malik Yoba is a household name in the African American community because he has had many roles that we loved, and a few we despised. With Syfy Yoba has the opportunity to get acquainted with a whole new audience.
“I don’t know why people watch what they watch,” joked Yoba. “You just put good stuff out there and let people decide what they watch.”
Sounds like another quality piece of work from a quality dude. If you’re waiting for more big screen offerings from Yoba then you may wish to check out “Recall,” which he stars in alongside Bow Wow.
“It’s a military movie about a group of National Guard soldiers that are heading off to Iraq. Right before they leave one of the soldiers decides to go AWOL because he has a terminally ill son and he wants to stay with him. He’s denied a compassionate reassignment so he’s going to handle things his way. It’s a really, really well written piece and I thought it was directed really well. I think that Michael Connors will be a writer/director people really pay attention to.”
Michael Connors, huh? We’ll keep you posted on that as more details come through. In the meantime “Alphas” premieres on Syfy on Monday, July 11 at 10/9C. Our inner-nerd can’t wait to check it out. For more information on the show log on to syfy.com.
Alec Baldwin Considers Running For Mayor Of New York
Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian
(Jun 8, 2011) Alec Baldwin is considering running for mayor of New York. The 30 Rock star has held political aspirations for some time but reportedly became interested in the 2013 mayoral race when it was revealed that Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner — who was widely expected to run — had sent saucy images of himself to women via twitter. A friend of Alec told The Daily: “Alec said, ‘Hey, maybe this changes the race. The dynamics have shifted.’ The Democrats need a high-profile candidate, and Alec can fill that bill.” The actor’s representative Matthew Hiltzik then told The Hollywood Reporter, “I wouldn’t rule it out.” Alec, 53, has previously spoken about his desire to run for public office and after revealing he will leave 30 Rock in 2012, now could be the perfect time for him. He has said in the past: “”There’s no age limit on running for office, to a degree. It’s something I might do, one day. “I do believe that people want to believe that someone who deeply cares about the middle class would like to seek public office.”
Bob Martin: From Drowsy Chaperon To Sitcom Shrink
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle MacDonald
Bob Martin is the Tony Award-winning actor and writer behind the hit Broadway play The Drowsy Chaperone. Now he's in the throes of filming the scripts he's written for an ambitious new CBC-TV sitcom called Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, about a psychiatrist, David (Martin), who has a complicated relationship with a neuroses-addled patient, Michael (Matt Watts). It's the first week back in Parliament, and you're now in Canada's capital to shoot your new comedy. If you could hand-pick any politician to stretch out on your couch, who would it be? I would have any of the new, young NDP MPs, particularly Pierre-Luc Dusseault. Being 19, he's dealing with a lot of anxiety and I would be concerned that he has some unrealistic self-image issues due to the fact that the first time he voted in his life, he voted for himself, and was elected into Parliament. I wouldn't want him to have those kind of expectations at every stage in life.
Ice-T Signs Two-Year Deal to Stay on ‘Law & Order: SVU’
*Ice-T has announced that he will remain on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” through 2013, reports TV Guide. “I’ve just locked in my new SVU deal,” the rapper-actor tweeted Friday. “So I’ll officially be back for the next 2 years at least. DONE.” The news comes in the midst of a cast shakeup for the long-running procedural. Christopher Meloni left the show last month after contract negotiations fell through. His partner-in-crime-solving, Mariska Hargitay, will return for the 13th season with a lighter workload. At midseason, her character will be promoted to a supervisor position, during which a new female detective will take her place. Jennifer Love Hewitt, who earned raves for her guest spot as a rape victim on SVU last season, is being eyed to replace her. Addressing the casting rumours, Ice-T added, “At this moment no one else is locked as new members of the show.”
VIDEO: Tisha Campbell-Martin Stars in
New Drama Series ‘The Protector’
(Jun 14, 2011) *Tisha Campbell-Martin is taking on a new role and putting away her better-known comedic self for a drama series on Lifetime. “The Protector” focuses on a divorced mother, Gloria Sheppard played by Ally Walker who attempts to balance her personal and professional life as a LAPD detective, while raising two boys. Campbell-Martin, who recently made news because of medical issues, plays the role of Gloria’s partner Michelle Dulcett. The show also stars Miguel Ferrer and Terrell Tilford. Below, Tisha dishes with “Access Hollywood” about the show. She says it’s so good even men will love it. “The Protector” airs Sundays at 10pm E/P on Lifetime.
'X-Men' Star Returns To His Musical Theatre Roots
Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian
(Jun 9, 2011) If you’d like to know why we’re going to be lucky enough to have Hugh Jackman singing and dancing at the Princess of Wales Theatre from July 5-17, there’s two people we can thank.
Sting and Darren Aronofsky.
The superstar rocker was in Detroit when Jackman was there a while ago, “and he was playing an outdoor concert on a beautiful summer night,” recalls Jackman on the phone from his Manhattan home.
“He made it all seem so wonderful that I started thinking and came up with a show like that I could do myself. I put a few ideas together, started talking to people but you know how it is. A movie comes along.”
Jackman makes it sound so simple. But the project which has been consuming him for quite a while now is The Wolverine, yet another in the XMen series of projects that made the Australian star very famous and very rich.
The trouble is that films like those come with huge price tags (a rumoured $20 million salary for Jackman alone) and even huger shooting schedules (a year in Japan) attached.
It was the second set of circumstances that caused Aronofsky’s involvement with Jackman’s summer musical sortie.
The suddenly-hot director of Black Swan was supposed to be helming The Wolverine when it went before the cameras this summer, but he withdrew in mid-March.
His official reason was that he didn’t want to spend a year away with his family, which is reasonable enough, but cynics observe that he only came to that decision after the success of Black Swan had made him bankable enough not to have to spend all that time taking close-ups of Jackman’s claws.
Whatever the reason, it left Jackman high and dry.
“I was very frustrated,” he admits. “Waiting around for a big film to happen and then having it get postponed is one of the most exasperating things you can imagine. It’s like you’re training for a big athletic event, but at the last moment they tell you it’s been postponed.”
And with Jackman and the role of Wolverine, that’s not exactly a frivolous analogy.
“Darren had wanted me to be 30 pounds heavier than I had been in the earlier movies,” Jackman explains, “and I had already put 20 of those pounds on. After we paused production, I went back and leaned down again and I decided that no matter who directs the film, I’m not going to get on that roller coaster of gaining and losing weight. It’s just not good for you
“I don’t want to continue slaying and eating so many animals,” he quips, then gets serious. “People think it must be a lot of fun to eat like that, but believe me, mate, when you’re eating 10 chicken breasts a day, it kinda gets you down.”
And when Jackman is down, there’s only one thing (apart from his wife and kids) that can perk him up: musical theatre.
“I figured that if I wasn’t going to be doing the movie I’d planned on doing for at least a few months, then selfishly speaking, I wanted to do something I really, really enjoy. And singing in front of live audiences is surely that.”
So Jackman sent the word out that he’d like to do a few charity performances of song and dance, but things rapidly spun out of control.
“The day after I sent the feelers out, they told me I’d been booked for three weeks at the Curran Theatre. Great, but it was only 8 weeks away and I had to put a whole show together. It’s a good thing I hadn’t stayed away from live performing for too long, because if you do, then it can get too daunting to get back
“It’s funny, but everybody forgets that this is how I started out in Australia, doing Beauty and the Beast, Sunset Boulevard, things like that. Then I came to London and did Oklahoma! at the National and then there was The Boy from Oz on Broadway.”
His star turn as Peter Allen made him the toast of New York and he happily admits he’ll be recreating part of that in his Toronto show.
“I loved playing Peter and I always get a kick out of doing it. He was such a huge star in Australia and I idolized him growing up. Nobody thought of him as this gay icon, just as an amazing entertainer.”
Jackman now admits that a lot of the San Francisco run, “was me flying by the seat of my very shiny pants, but it all pulled together by the end and we’ve been working on it ever since.
“I look on it as the ultimate karaoke. I have these beautiful arrangements, this 18-piece orchestra doing all the shows I love and my auditions for all the musicals I’d like to turn into movies.”
He describes the mix of the show as “about half musical theatre, then a chunk of songs I just plain enjoy singing, a lot of stories, a little bit of dancing, some fun with my backup singers and a few surprises for my friends in Toronto.”
Jackman means that. His breakthrough role as Wolverine in the first X-Men film was shot here in Toronto and he still recalls the nightmare he went through being flown back and forth to audition at the last minute.
“One of the Canadian customs guards got suspicious and said ‘Haven’t you been coming and going across the border a lot lately?’ I guess I looked suspicious because I hadn’t shaved and I was always wearing my scruffiest jeans.
“I finally told him I was auditioning for Wolverine and everything changed. One minute it was get ready for the strip search, the next it was come on and sign six hundred autographs. Crazy, isn’t it?”
The experience did leave Jackman with a healthy respect, however, for the retail opportunities in our city.
“When I finally got the part, I had to stay and start shooting. All I had in my bag was shorts and t-shirts and it was October here. Boy, did I have to do a lot of shopping here and I loved every minute.”
So if you see Hugh Jackman while he’s here in town, feel free to give him the names of your favourite clothing stores.
Just don’t offer him a chicken breast.
An Enduring Creative
Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb
(Jun 14, 2011) Renowned British dancer/choreographer Akram Khan says he’s found the best way to begin a new project is to start with breakfast, at least when he’s collaborating with Nitin Sawhney, a veritable Renaissance man of music.
Khan and Sawhney began working together 11 years ago and it’s the creative journey of their artistic partnership, the evolving intertwining of two fertile imaginations, that they explore and celebrate in Confluence, an acclaimed work that has its North American premiere this week as part of Luminato.
Each time they launch a project, explains Khan, he and Sawhney go for breakfast and talk. It’s always a wide-ranging discussion — art, politics, religion — and it fires them up for the work ahead. But it’s in their differences that they find the creative spark.
“Primarily,” says Khan, “we’re very respectful of each other’s work. That’s very important because once we’re in a studio we have the confidence to push each other to a place we could not find alone. For me that’s what collaboration is and it wouldn’t work if we were too similar.”
Khan, 36, is of Bangladeshi descent. He trained from an early age in Indian classical kathak dance. He’s still a kathak virtuoso but after branching into western contemporary dance, Khan built his choreographic reputation — his phenomenal dancing talent was already well established — by pushing and combining traditional forms in new directions that defy categorization.
Sawhney, a decade Khan’s senior, also has South Asian roots but his music draws from global influences, traditional and contemporary. His compositions — from film, television and the concert stage to video games — have made him a star of Britain’s music scene.
Confluence, featuring live music and a company six dancers, includes condensed extracts of earlier Khan/Sawhney collaborations as well as new material. Its linking theme is the two men’s shared artistic journey. Their conversation touches on the mysteries of creativity. The music and dance evoke the themes and ideas that fascinate them.
“We’ve never been interested in creating things that were easy for us,” Khan explains. “We’ve always pushed ourselves further on each project to places we’re uncomfortable with and to embrace and explore that because in the struggle lies the humanity, the emotion.”
Confluence, a show with as much appeal for music lovers as dance fans, was premiered in London in November 2009. Audiences who had been following Khan and Sawhney’s work over the years were well placed to contextualize the extracts woven into its fabric.
Khan has only performed in Toronto once before, with Kaash, his first evening-length work, in 2003; but he believes local audiences’ relative lack of familiarity with his artistic evolution may prove a blessing. “It becomes more like a discovery of the journey I’ve taken with Nitin.”
(June 16 – 18; MacMillan Theatre, 80 Queen’s Park. 416-368-4849 or www.luminato.com).
A Mother And Daughter Reunion
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By J. Kelly Nestruck
Tout Comme Elle (Just Like Her)
Written by Louise Dupré
Directed by Brigitte Haentjens
A Necessary Angel production At the St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto
(June 15, 2011) In director Brigitte Haentjens's Tout Comme Elle (Just Like Her), a thunderous theatrical power comes simply from the presence of 50 women onstage all at once, creating patterns in their multicultural multiplicity, moving or just breathing in unison, and crying out as one, "Mama!"
An astonishing number of Toronto's top stage performers are taking part in this choral work about the tense and tender relationships between mothers and daughters. Veterans such as Rosemary Dunsmore and Fiona Reid are there leading the pack; Kristen Thomson and Liisa Repo-Martell (both known for touring Thomson's I, Claudia) are there a generation below; and then there are exciting up-and-comers such as Anusree Roy and Akosua Amo-Adem.
Naming all the notables would take up half a review, though, and it would ultimately be merely trivia. This collaboration between actresses would only truly be momentous if there was more acting involved and less bending and posing.
Large opera choruses and massive musical chorus lines have long inspired awe among audiences, but a number of Quebec theatre artists have been playing with the power of huge casts in more conceptual ways in recent years.
Earlier this month at the Festival TransAmériques, choreographer Sylvain Émard once again brought 200 dancers aged 12 to 72 together in a public space for his joyful celebration of mass movement, Continental XL, while Olivier Choinière assembled 50 performers last fall on the stage of Montreal's Espace Libre for his wry, musical exploration of conformity, Chante avec moi.
The current trend can probably be traced back to Tout Comme Elle, which Siminovitch Prize winner Haentjens first created in French in 2006 and which is now having its English-language premiere thanks to Necessary Angel and the Luminato Festival.
Dressed in chic and often sheer costumes by Montreal designer Yso, coloured black, grey and white with the occasional flash of evocative red, the 50 actresses speak - separately and together - and sometimes sing a poetic text written by Louise Dupré.
In an English translation by Erin Mouré, Dupré's theatrical poem describes the aching disconnect between a woman, her mother and then her daughter. At times, it describes a very specific relationship involving boarding school and silences steeping over a pot of tea. In other moments, it aims for the maternal-universal, as when the cast splits into mothers and daughters and engages in a call and response:
"I won't grow up/ I won't grow up/ to be like you."
"You will grow up/ you will grow up/ just wait and see."
The brief monologues about the collective protagonist's relationship with her aging mother are often quite affecting - descriptions of only half-engaging in a babbling conversation over the phone, or the realization that this may be "the last spring I'll hear my mother name the trees."
Other parts of Dupré's poetry comes across as portentous, almost laughably so, particularly a recurring line about a teapot "as empty as an empty womb."
The sense of isolation expressed by the woman (or women) in Dupré's text is neatly countered by the visual mass of womanhood Haentjens has assembled and their mutual movement. Viewed in its totality, Tout Comme Elle provides a beautifully succinct summation of a feeling not exclusive to those with two X chromosomes - that human paradox of being alone while being together.
But the piece is not pure Beckettian bleakness. There are many moments of humour, including a punchline that effectively deflates some of the pompousness that came before.
The 50 performers in Tout Comme Elle are a diverse group in terms of age, race and size, but also in terms of acting style and ability. Some are clearly comfortable with the choreographed movement, while others are a bit clumsy about it. In the snippets of speech assigned to individuals, some are delivered dripping with emotion while others are dryly declaimed. (Lili Francks gave her segment an expressionistic push that suited the production perfectly.)
Ultimately, there's a tension between the expression of these women's individuality - each at one point names her real-life mother - and Haentjens's treatment of them as walking, talking dolls.
Tout Comme Elle runs until June 18.
More Bladder-Busting Laughs
From Women Fully Clothed Quartet
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler
Women Fully Clothed: Older & Hotter
Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Kathryn Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek
At the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto
(June 15, 2011) Don't let the Kardashian witches or Whoopi Goldberg convince you otherwise - women can be funny. The comedy quartet of Kathryn Greenwood, Jayne Eastwood, Robin Duke and Teresa Pavlinek did dame-based sketch humour at the scrumptious Royal Alex, where if there was a dry seat left in the house, it was a testament to the absorbent quality of Depend undergarments and not a reflection of the bladder-busting material.
"Shouldn't you be wearing breasts?" I was asked by one wise-guy when he found out I was reviewing the show. Well no, sir. Granted, the comedy was written and performed by women, and yes, it was geared toward those with workable nipples. But a clever skit on cross-border-shopping security threats appealed to all ages and genders, and a cheap flatulence gag wafted over the head of no faction.
About the show's title: It's an update (with all new material) of the hit 2008 revue Women Fully Clothed. Older and hotter? Sure, Second City alumna Kathryn Greenwood is kinda hot, but the subtitle adjectives refer to aging and the hot flashes - as demonstrated by the hilarious and animated Robin Duke - that come with it.
The women on stage were, in fact, fully clothed - all in black, usually. No props or sets were employed. An opening sketch on professional women easily distracted by domestic matters went nowhere, but none of the bits that followed came close to failing.
A CSI parody riffed on the beauty and brains of the babes on that television franchise. "I tried to resuscitate her," cracked one of the investigators, "but my breasts were too small." The stymied foursome arrived at the conclusion that television was "no country for old women," and in a touch of meta humour, it was suggested that Canadian theatre was a more fitting venue.
A bridal boot camp bit showcased the crotchety appeal of Jayne Eastwood, a possible Elaine Stritch in waiting. Later, Greenwood, accompanied by pianist Bob Derkach, sang words men could not imagine but women have longed to declare: "I hate the cottage."
Another musical number, about how female depression was not an exceptional state of mind but the norm, was done in a graceful Eric Idle sort of way. And a line about being lower than whale droppings was one of the evening's laugh-out-loud moments.
The revival of Duke's crusty character Molly Earl, whose art-and-craft world extended well beyond church basements and butter tarts, was a winner. The night's most hysterical sketch? That would be Greenwood's hemorrhoid hilarity - anus horribilis, indeed.
In general, the estro-generational humour hit closer to home with mature women. But the troupe's divine secrets of the ha-ha sisterhood worked for a wider audience. There were a couple of instances in which I laughed so hard I popped a bra strap. That it belonged to the lady seated in front of me made it all the funnier.
Women Fully Clothed: Older & Hotter runs until June 18; (416) 872-1212.
Glee Is Shamelessly Happy, And
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Lynn Crosbie
(Jun 13, 2011) My ears are ringing louder than when I saw the Ramones. “Am I screaming?” I kept asking the cab driver.
I am not just home from a death-metal show but Glee Live!, a concert you might think would have been lightweight, poppy and occasionally drippy.
Well, it was but it was also a fantasia of confetti, shot from cannons, great plumes of white smoke and coils of fire, and a fanatical crowd urging on the cast of the hit television show as if they were any of the number of performers (Lady Gaga, Queen, Katy Perry) that they imitate in their cover songs.
“I’m like a screamer, a dancer, and a singer-alonger,” one of the girls behind me, in fact, screamed at a pitch that made dogs howl around the Air Canada Centre perimeter.
Listening to them during the long wait for the opening act, talented b-boy dance troupe the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, I took inventory of the crowd of approximately 20,000 kids, moms, and all-around misfits. The Glee kids, looking shiny and both more and less striking than on TV, finally emerged after an hour; after intolerable distractions such as clean-cut, tragically-depressed performers dancing on metal poles and lip-syncing to Glee hits in the entryway, and then inside, jumbo-screen videos of Sue Sylvester and Mr. Schuester.
They began with Journey, (Don’t Stop Believin’) which was a fantastic crowd-pleaser, even though the Journey trend (that began with The Sopranos finale) is so over that Glee’s writers mocked the band themselves this season.
The characters retained their show names and personalities: Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith, who is ridiculously adorable onstage,) or “Finchel,” the huge fan favourites, were showcased early. Glee fans are passionate innocents: Please see the Facebook page Rachel & Finn=cuteness for more evidence.
But the crowd was less thrilled by Rachel than more current superstars: a bit player in the first season, Brittany S. Pierce came out huge this year exhibiting slayer dance moves, oddly startling beauty and great comic timing. She was the star of Glee Live! when performing a smouldering I’m a Slave 4 U, or merely dancing like Shiva with the others.
Chris Colfer shone too, in blue couture and blue light, singing his haunting version (from the “Grilled Cheesus” episode) version of I Want to Hold Your Hand, and Santana and Puck (Naya Rivera and Mark Salling) were charismatic, sweeter and more lowdown than their TV characters.
The rest of the cast was underused (barring the duet sequence which reprised the songs from that couples-based episode,) and Artie (Kevin McHale) was overused -- even if he did shout out “T. Dot,” and sing a Men Without Hats song (and he looked far more handsome in life.) Crowd-pleasers abounded, including Valerie, an acoustic Friday and Dog Days Are Over, and the crew stayed in character, announcing they just have to beat their rivals, Vocal Adrenaline, and pairing up onstage as the couples they play.
I was inclined, before the show, to feel like the woman at the will call booth who screamed “Dis is all a scam!” to a ticket vendor; ready to be manipulated and cynical. I even tweeted in the form of a suicide note when the Warblers sang “Silly Love Songs.”
But this is Glee, after all. A show that takes old, extant definitions of camp and changes them: The characters may be stylized and mildly parodic but they embrace simple, powerful emotions and virtues, and in doing so, slice through the armature around one’s heart.
Glee is over-the-top sweet, as were the kids/young adults in the show, who absolutely radiated high spirits, health and affection, for each other and the crowd they played to, with touches and waves and smiles as thousands of arms waved like fronds of seaweed, joyously, back.
Somewhere in the middle of one song (and another) I actually cried, not at all an isolated incident: One woman was sobbing, long before the show, in the washroom; others sat rigid, their eyes shooting tears.
It’s overwhelming (imagine seeing the Partridge Family or the Archies back in the day,) gazing at the real and unreal mashed together; at the brand new “Nicest Kids in Town.” (Glee is a never-ending tribute to Hairspray.) The concert translated beautifully, especially its shameless jabs at true feeling, unhampered by irony or sarcasm: Its infectious sense that happiness is real and available; that we losers are winning at last.
Air Canada Centre
Saturday in Toronto
Catherine Zeta-Jones Dazzles At Tony Awards
Source: Access Hollywood
(June 12, 2011) Catherine Zeta-Jones' comeback at Sunday's Tony Awards was all razzle and dazzle! The actress made her first award show appearance last night in New York at the theatre world's biggest night, her first since announcing her courageous battle with bipolar II disorder in April. The 41-year-old Welsh actress, who stunned in a red sequined gown, presented Tony Awards to Mark Rylance for the play "Jerusalem" and Norbert Leo Butz for the musical "Catch Me If You Can." The Oscar winner for the big screen version of the musical "Chicago," took home a Tony last year for the revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music." Last week, Catherine's husband Michael Douglas gave Access Hollywood an update on his ladylove and her numerous projects in the works. "Catherine is doing 'Rock of Ages' down in Miami. She's doing a rehearsal for it now and doing the dancing stuff [and] coming back tonight," he told Access. "She's doing great. She just finished a couple of pictures in Louisiana. So, it's all good." "Rock of Ages," which also co-stars Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, is slated to hit theatres on June 1, 2012.
Toronto’s Next Indie Hit, And
Other E3 Thoughts
Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar
(Jun 10, 2011) It’s hard enough for any new game to make some noise on the cacophonous show floor of E3, but Sound Shapes, a made-in-Toronto game managed to lift itself above the din.
Considered by many critics to be one of the stalwart games for Sony’s new PS Vita portable gaming system — along with the awesome-looking Uncharted: Golden Abyss — this music creating platformer looks to be the next great buzz worthy indie game coming from the tight development community. Created by Jonathan Mak (known for creating 2007 indie hit Everyday Shooter) working along with local musician Shaw-Han Liem, it’s another game that was birthed by the co-mingling of this city’s development and indie-rock community, like recent IOs sensation, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP. Mak also worked with Capybara games, which was involved with that game, and similarly, players use a virtual record as a part of the navigation. Otherwise, the games could not be more different.
In Sound Shapes you play as a circular character that jumps and sticks to surfaces, and the point is to avoid obstacles, like lasers and enemies. Along the way you pick up coins, but it’s very different from most music games.
“There’s no soundtrack in the game, I didn’t write any songs for the game, but there’s tons of music in the game. All the songs that you hear are actually levels that you’re playing. All the things, all the coins you’re collecting, all the enemies each of them has a corresponding sound,” says Liem. “So are you’re walking through the world, each thing that you’re passing is building up the song, so traversing the world is unlocking songs.”
One of the big reasons for excitement that is the game comes with a level editor that allows players to simply create their own track, and ingeniously makes them sound pretty good, and once it comes out, the community will starts building their own levels and uploading them, so it is potentially infinitely replayable.
Most of all, it’s something different and new.
“There are really only two kinds of music games. There’s the Rez style (music-based shooter) and the rhythm style,” says Mak. “This is neither of those.
“Every little thing that we’re adding to the game has a game play meaning and a musical meaning. It’s not like rhythm games where you have to sort of follow along to the beat . . . this tight integration is really what’s unique about the game.”
In other news:
• Big threes at E3: It really was the year of the three at this year’s gaming showcase. Many of the biggest games coming in the next year are the third instalments in several high profile series. The list includes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Mass Effect 3, Gear of Wars 3, Battlefield 3 and more. Seeing demos or having play time with all of them, fans of these existing series should be very excited, as all the games look like excellent additions.
One game that might be flying a little under the radar is Far Cry 3, created by Ubisoft Montreal, a first person shooter about a man trapped on an island filled with mercenaries, which looked impressive and has the makings of a sleeper hit when it comes out.
Some critics feel that all since development costs are so high, companies are relying too much on these known quantities at the expense of creating new experience, but in many of these cases, it’s evident that by the third instalment developers are comfortable and confident in these game worlds.
• Surprising Reboots: While there are plenty of remakes coming out this year, include HD versions of games like Halo: Combat Evolved and the Sony’s Shadow of the Colossus and Ico collection for PS3, some of the pleasant surprises were reboots offering different takes of franchises that really haven’t had a good game in a while.
The Tomb Raider franchise has been run into the ground, but the next game in the series is an origin story, and the breathtaking demo features Lara Croft being bloodied and battered as she learns to become the quip-filled superheroine that we know her.
Almost more surprising is the oncoming Star Trek game, which seeks to build on the movie franchise that J.J. Abrams has breathed new life into and perhaps finally offer a decent gaming experience in that universe. This action-oriented co-op shooter is in a very early stage, but it already looks quite good.
It’s been over five years since snowboarding franchise, SSX, but the latest game uses NASA data to construct mountains all over the world, and a new survival mode that uses natural obstacles in exciting new ways. Right now fans of all three look like they have good games to look forward to.
• Playing the waiting game: When asked for a release date, the most common answers were “fall” or “Holiday,” “We have no announcement at this time” or “2012.” Both of the announced new hardware offerings — the Wii U and PS Vita — are expected to arrive in North America sometime next year.
• Celebrity sightings at E3: The conference’s L.A. location means that plenty of the entertainment industry’s biggest names can stop by — or are paid to make an appearance. Celebrities that were at the show or affiliated events include: Steven Spielberg, Snoop Dogg, Jane’s Addiction, Travis Barker, Kobe Bryant, Hulk Hogan, Gene Simmons, David Arquette, Jimmy Buffett, Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson and Verne Troyer.
Shigeru Miyamoto On Wii U And What's Next
Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar
(Jun 11, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Nothing captures the attention of the gaming community like fancy new hardware, while no single person has consistently captured their imagination like Shigeru Miyamoto. Often called the godfather of videogames, the legendary Nintendo designer and producer has created several classic and incredibly popular gaming franchises including Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda and the Wii series of games.
Currently Nintendo's senior managing director, overseeing hundreds of people in the company's research and development department, he has led many of the company's innovations over his 30-plus years in the industry. He's a hero to countless creators, and gaming publications routinely declare him to be the top game designer ever.
Last week at the E3 gaming expo, he helped introduce Nintendo's new console, the Wii U, which features a new hybrid tablet controller with touchscreen, dual analog sticks and gyroscope.
In an exclusive Canadian interview with The Star, the slight, playful and quick to laugh 59-year-old Miyamoto sat down to discuss the Wii U, some of the thoughts behind creating it, and the opportunities it holds for gamers and in particular, developers.
The sizzle reel for the new console showed a number of new potential applications for the device, like providing players with different views, targeting with the screen but most notable is the idea of game transference — being able to swipe and move a game off the TV onto the controller's screen, freeing the latter up for someone else to watch.
Miyamoto is known for creating games inspired by his hobbies and the natural world around him, like The Legend of Zelda, which was inspired by his exploration of a cave near his childhood home in Kyoto, although he says the Wii U does not come from that same place.
“It has less to do with my hobbies, and more to do with just general lifestyle. The real kind of thinking being Wii U was isn't there a better way to allow people to interact with their television,” he says.
Asked if it was inspired by fights over the TV at his home, he laughed and said: “Not very much . . . (but) obviously in any household, if somebody is watching something on TV, and someone wants to play a game, they don't have the opportunity to interact if the gaming system is being used.”
By attempting to change the game again, Wii U looks like it is trying to be all things to all kinds of gamers, and particular third-party developers, many of whom abandoned the Wii because of its technical limitations. He hopes the new system will inspire new creativity.
“We've found that up until now, within the structure of the system, controller and the TV, gradually the game makers have been competing against one another and a lot of what they're creating tends to move generally in the same direction.
“Whereas what we're try to do with Wii U is create an entirely new structure that they can use to create their games that breaks away from the traditional system that we've been using up until now and thereby unlock their creativity. The hardware itself then becomes a way from them to expand the possibilities of the software.”
Trying to move console gaming off the TV is a radical idea, almost as much as reshaping Nintendo's casual and family friendly image. The Wii U's processing power and HD graphical capabilities now make it more appealing to more traditional core games, with big names like Batman: Arkham City and Assassin's Creed are coming to the console.
“Because the system itself is HD capable, we felt that developers would be able to bring the traditional types of games that they make as well, and so to accommodate that one of the things that we paid attention too was ensuring that it had analog sticks, and ensuring it had enough functionality so that it could accommodate any type of game.”
Coming out now, in the midst of the tablet computing revolution being led by Apple, this new console will fuel what many entertainment technology experts have described as the second screen effect, where people supplement their TV viewing while being on phones, computers or tablets. The Wii U also uses some now-familiar moves, such as swiping, to navigate, and while some may feel that Nintendo is aping some of those moves — and Apple's app gaming effect has already been disruptive to the industry, offering cheap, bite-sized on-the-go gaming — it is just another sign that in this industry, imitation is often good business.
A perfect example is that is that much of Sony and Microsoft's E3 were spent building out their motion-control schemes, which originally both derided, but the Wii's success forced them to match up and compete.
“Of course, I don't what direction the other companies might be moving in, but what I've found what was interesting is that we've been working on this for several years, and then as we've gotten to the point where we were ready to announce, things like tablet devices have coincidently become very popular broadly in the market place,” he says.
“I think there's a tendency generally at this point to move in that direction. And possibly, the question of whether or not the other companies (copy us), perhaps may be dependent on what degree with Wii U, we can truly demonstrate what's capable with a system like this and how compelling of an experience we can make.”
Unfortunately, this week, Nintendo did not show any actual completed games, showing only prototypes, which admittedly were very fun, but since the Wii U does not actually come out until sometime in 2012, it is clear that the entire entertainment world will be waiting, watching and eventually playing along.
Just as they have been with Miyamoto for the past three decades.
Emotions Are Contagious, And
They Spread Through Facebook
Source: www.thestar.com - Mike Swift
(Jun 14, 2011) What you post on Facebook could affect the emotions of your friends, a study finds.
Next time you feel like broadcasting some gloomy tale of woe on Facebook, you might want to think twice. Your friends could catch your feelings.
Psychologists have long known that emotions, just like germs, are contagious. People exposed to a person experiencing strong emotions may experience similar feelings, catching them through facial expressions, tones of voice or some other means. But now there is a new means of transmission — social media.
Facebook data scientist Adam D.I. Kramer analyzed postings by about 1 million English speakers and their roughly 150 million friends in multiple countries on the social network to show that the words people use in their status updates drive the emotions of their online friends, even days later. Kramer found people who used emotionally loaded words like “happy,” “hug,” “sick” and “vile” in their status updates sparked similar emotions in later Facebook postings by their friends.
“Up to three days later, for people who use more negative words, their friends will also use more negative words,” Kramer said. “If people are using more positive words, not only are their friends using more positive words, their friends also will use fewer negative words.”
Kramer’s analysis is not just an academic study of the vast amounts of data that underlie Facebook’s social web. His work is related to Facebook’s fast-growing social products and the advertising that powers them.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg studied psychology at Harvard and often talks about the psychological underpinnings of Facebook’s business model, saying, for example, its photo-sharing service became tops on the Internet not because of software wizardry, but because Facebook filled a basic human need by allowing people to “tag” photos of their friends and share them. To build on that, Facebook has assembled a data science team that mines the vast amount of information contained in the relationships and profiles of the social network’s more than 600 million users.
Facebook, based in Palo Alto, is using the data to refine the user and advertising products that are at the centre of its business. “But as an aside, we tend to stumble on some really interesting findings along the way, and we feel we should make those available to a wide audience,” said Cameron Marlow, the chief data scientist at Facebook.
Psychologists have long tried to pinpoint exactly how emotions are “contagious,” passing from people to their co-workers, friends, relatives and significant others. Voice tones, choice of words and body posture are all means to transmit emotions. Scholars assume facial expressions are the most important, said Elaine Hatfield, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who studies how emotions are transmitted from one person to another, “but we don’t really know.”
Kramer’s study on emotional “contagion,” which he presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, is an example of how people’s online social interactions are increasingly important sources and tools for social research.
Other companies are pouring through data, too. Yahoo (, for example, has been using social sites like Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace that matches freelance jobs with people looking for work, to study questions such as whether better paid people produce better quality work.
Facebook now tracks the emotional states not just of people, but of nations. Kramer also developed Facebook’s “Gross National Happiness” index, based on a computer analysis of emotion-laden words used by more than 400 million Facebook users since 2007. The ongoing fluctuations in that multinational index, following events such as the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, hint at the social bonds between societies.
“During the earthquake in Japan, many Asian countries showed a dip in their overall happiness,” Kramer said, “whereas many Western countries were unaffected — except for Chile, which just had a catastrophic earthquake” last year.
Kramer, 30, stands out as brainy even by Facebook standards. After growing up in a small town in western Massachusetts, he studied computer science as an undergrad and graduate student before getting a doctorate in social and personality psychology. His thesis was on “decisional procrastination,” or why it can sometimes be good to put off decisions.
Psychologists still don’t know, Kramer said, whether a person who feels sad upon hearing their friend Joe say his dog has died feels sad for Joe, sad for the dog or is just mirroring Joe’s feelings. But Kramer said emotion transmitted through status updates could not be mirroring, because that requires one-to-one communication.
The study found that for every negative word such as “sick,” “petty” or “lame” Facebook members used in a status update, their friends used 28 per cent more negative words on the following day than would be expected, based on their pattern of speech at other times.
One key finding, Kramer said, is that emotional states are not mutually exclusive opposites.
“You’re not either sad, or you’re happy,” he said, of the mixed emotions people feel at any moment. “There are bittersweet emotions.”
HOW EMOTION IS CATCHING ONLINE
Facebook data scientists used an anonymous computer program to scan the status updates of about 1 million English speakers, searching for positive words including “thanks,” “wonderful,” “cute” and “sunshine”; and negative words including “angry,” “worst” and “sucks.” They then scanned the status updates of those people’s roughly 150 million friends, to see whether the emotions were echoed by others, and discovered a pattern where negative and positive feelings were transmitted to friends for the following three days.
Facebook’s Gross National Happiness index is at apps.facebook.com/gnh_index.
Other academic papers by the Facebook data team are at: www.facebook.com/data?sk=app—4949752878.
Toronto Tourism Has Big Aims —
Overcoming Decline In U.S. Visitors Is One Of Them
Source: www.thestar.com - Adrian Brijbassi
(Jun 3, 2011) As Toronto’s tourism industry boldly proclaimed its intentions of “Reaching Higher” on Tuesday it also soberly acknowledged the strong headwinds it faces in maintaining the tremendous momentum it has established in the past few years.
A stronger Canadian dollar, higher gas prices and the moribund U.S. economy have continued the decline of American visitors to the city. Tourism Toronto president and CEO David Whitaker said the numbers so far in 2011 “have been relatively flat, but we’re hanging in there with our international visitors through the first four months.”
Whitaker was speaking at Tourism Toronto’s annual general meeting at the Air Canada Centre, an event attended by politicians as well as members of the hotel, food, hospitality and other related industries in the city. Whitaker and other members of the agency that advocates for Toronto around the globe insisted that the way forward is to keep on building an international, sophisticated clientele. Overseas visitors to Ontario are up 2.4 per cent through the first three months of 2011 over the same time last year, according to data Whitaker presented. That number is impressive when you consider tourism to Canada as a whole is down 11.3 per cent from the same period in 2010 and that the vast majority of those travellers arriving in the province land in Toronto.
One point of emphasis this year will be to get more people into the city over the holidays. “Our hotel occupancy rate in December drops to 49 per cent,” Whitaker said as he underscored an area that needs improvement. Perhaps most interestingly, though, is Tourism Toronto’s alliance with its counterparts across the province. With the success that Toronto has had in attracting visitors — it moved up to No. 6 in the U.S. and Canada in hotel occupancy rates in 2010 — the rest of Ontario is hoping to learn from its expertise and with its focus on the international market the agency is happy to spread its knowledge.
“Toronto’s position as a gateway to Ontario is vitally important to us,” said Andrew Weir, Tourism Toronto’s vice-president of communications. “You can’t expect someone to get on a plane for 20 hours and just spend all their time in Toronto.”
Weir said the city hosted a record 644 media members in 2010, helping to get the word out about our diverse, clean and safe urban centre. The publicity from journalists resulted in $37.1 million worth of media attention, Weir said.
The debut of EdgeWalk at the CN Tower (the crazy new attraction where you walk on the outside of the observation deck nearly 1,200 feet up — and pay $175 to do it) is getting lots of press and could attract thrill-seeking sorts, while the Bollywood Awards this month are sure to be a tourism boon with 40,000 visitors expected to arrive in the GTA.
Tourism Toronto will also introduce an application for mobile devices this fall that will help users locate restaurants and attractions as well as street addresses. It’s also continuing its cheeky cross-promotion campaign with Montreal that last year encouraged citizens from the rival metropolises to “cheat on their city.”
The key, though, is to continue to broaden Toronto’s reach, executives said.
“We cannot rely on doing business with the same people we’ve been doing business with year in and year out,” said David Ogilvie, Tourism Toronto’s chairman.
As Weir pointed out, that doesn’t mean shifting away from American visitors but moving onto a different kind of American visitor.
“The story with the U.S. market is not as simple as counting heads across the border,” he said, noting the decline has been “entirely” from automobile arrivals. “More importantly for Toronto, air arrivals from the U.S. increased 7.5 per cent in 2010 over the prior year. Air arrivals were up year-over-year in every month from March through December. That shows that urban travellers — who stay longer, do more and spend more in the destination — are choosing Toronto more often. That’s where our future success will come from.”
Panama, Canada Draw In Gold
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press
(Jun 14, 2011) A last-gasp equalizer from Panama likely ended Canada's hopes of advancing at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Luis Tejada scored in extra time Tuesday as Panama tied Canada 1-1. Canada now needs Guadeloupe to upset the host United States in Tuesday's late game to move on in the tournament.
Tejada scored after Canadian defenders were unable to handle a corner kick from Panama's Eric Davis. A shot bounced off the crossbar of the Canadian goal and ricocheted around the box. Goalkeeper Milan Borjan was unable to contain the ball and Tejada helped it across the goal-line.
Midfielder Dwayne De Rosario had given Canada a 1-0 lead at the 62-minute mark by firing a penalty past Luis Mejia.
De Rosario's 17th for Canada moved him into sole possession of third place on the list of all-time Canadian goal scorers. His penalty was the first competitive goal scored at the new Livestrong Sporting Park, the home of Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer.
Knowing only a win would guarantee a berth in the next round, Canada controlled much of the possession but it took until the second half for the breakthrough.
Panama, having already clinched a spot in the quarter-finals and needing a single point to win group C, made six changes from the squad that beat the United States 2-1 on Saturday.
In the 21st minute, Panama had Luis Renteria played into the Canadian 18-yard box with Canadian defender Andre Hainault just a step behind. Renteria went down but no foul was given.
Canada's best chance of the first half came in the 29th minute when Julian de Guzman, who was putting in one of his best recent performances for Canada up to that point, had a hard shot from the right side stopped point-blank by Mejia.
In the 62nd minute, De Rosario was held back and fell in the box while trying to get to a cross and was awarded a penalty. He calmly stepped up and made no mistake with his shot past Mejia.
The stadium was filling up with American supporters who were in to watch the second game involving the hosts and Guadeloupe. Since a Canadian win would give the Americans a chance to win the group, a roaring cheer from the American supporters behind the Panama net greeted De Rosario's goal.
Paul MacLean Hired As Head
Coach Of Senators
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Larry Lage, The Associated Press
(Jun 13, 2011) DETROIT— Detroit Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean has been hired as the new coach of the Ottawa Senators.
Two people familiar with the decision confirmed the move Monday, speaking with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been formally announced by the Senators. The hire was first reported by ESPN.com.
The Senators fired head coach Cory Clouston and two assistants in April after the team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
MacLean has spent the past five years as an assistant in Detroit, helping the team win the championship in 2008. He and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also worked together for two years in Anaheim, taking the Ducks to the Stanley Cup finals.
MacLean spent 11 seasons in the NHL, playing in 719 games for Winnipeg, Detroit and St. Louis from 1980-91. He finished with 324 goals and 349 assists.
Prior to the joining the Anaheim coaching staff in 2002, the Antigonish, N.S., native was head coach of the Quad City Mallards of the United Hockey League. He also spent time coaching minor league teams in Kansas City and Peoria, Ill., and has been both an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes and a scout for the St. Louis Blues.
In Ottawa, MacLean will be working for general manager Bryan Murray, his old boss in Anaheim. Murray, who recently received a three-year contract extension, has fired three coaches since he left the job himself to become GM after helping the Senators reach the Stanley Cup finals in 2007.
Ottawa made the playoffs in 2009-10, but finished last season near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 32-40-10 record.
With the season going nowhere, Murray dealt away veterans Mike Fisher, Alex Kovalev, Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli and Jarkko Ruutu before the trade deadline.
After ‘Personal Failure’, Lebron James Endures Jabs From Cavs Faithful
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brian Mahoney
(Jun 13, 2011) MIAMI — LeBron James understands that people hated “The Decision,” mocked his welcoming party, and delighted in his finals failure.
He doesn’t care. Those aren’t the people the King aims to please.
“Absolutely not, because at the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,” James said. “They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.
“They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”
James left Cleveland for Miami to win titles, so he’d have All-Star help around him and he wouldn’t have to carry the team.
Problem was, the Heat couldn’t carry LeBron.
His disappointing first finals with the Heat ended Sunday night with the Dallas Mavericks’ 105-95 victory in Game 6. James started strong and faltered at the finish, just as the Heat did in this series.
James agreed the loss felt like a “personal failure” but also said “it hurts of course, but I’m not going to hang my head low.”
He averaged just 17.8 points, few of them coming in the clutch situations that define the great players. He tried to console himself by noting that he won two more games this time than he did in his first finals try, when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by San Antonio in 2007, and that maybe he could win two more games next time.
He’ll need to. Because until then, the accusations of quitting against Boston in last year’s playoffs, of shrinking under the pressure this time, will only grow louder.
“That doesn’t bother me,” James said. “I understand this is a huge stage, and you want to perform well for nobody else besides your teammates. That’s ultimately what it’s about for me. If I can play well for my teammates, help my teammates win basketball games, then I’m always satisfied with that. It hurts me, and I get on myself when I’m not able to play well and help my teammates win.”
After the Heat loss, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert got in one final shot at James as he sent a message on his Twitter page to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
“Congrats to Mark C.& entire Mavs org.,” Gilbert wrote. “Mavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings. Old Lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.”
Last summer, after James announced he was leaving the Cavs as a free agent after seven years to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the superstar was lambasted by Gilbert, who accused him of quitting in the playoffs the past two seasons. Gilbert also promised that karma would prevent James from winning a championship and predicted his Cavaliers would win their first title before "the self-proclaimed King" won one.
So far, Gilbert's pledge is holding up.
Gilbert wasn't the only one stung by James' decision. Cleveland fans, who haven't celebrated a major professional sports championship since the Browns won an NFL title in 1964, spent the past year coping with James' departure, which the Akron native announced in a one-hour long TV special.
Some of James' former teammates were also hurt by him leaving.
Guard Mo Williams, who was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in February, said the Mavericks' victory has helped ease some of his pain.
On his Twitter page, Williams wrote, "Dallas just healed my HEART."
Miami simply couldn’t overcome James’ poor fourth quarters in most of the series. He had only 11 points in the final periods of the first five games, a major reason the Mavericks kept finding ways to rally late in games they trailed much of the way.
He had seven points in the final quarter of this one to finish with 21, but he had gone too long without impacting the game after scoring nine of Miami’s first 14 points.
“Sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t, and that was this case in this series,” said James, calling Dallas an underrated defensive team that kept him out of the paint.
And while they celebrated in Dallas, there was surely a big bash going on in Ohio, James’ home state. Fans there were stunned and shunned when he decided to leave the Cavaliers, and the hurt turned to rage when he opted to do it in the heavily criticized TV show called “The Decision,” which included the much-mocked announcement that he was taking his talents to South Beach.
And make no mistake, it’s a load of talent. James just couldn’t figure out how to use it in this series.
“Any time you feel like you get to the top of the mountain and you fall off, there’s definitely a personal failure,” James said.
He claimed confusion over how to be most effective when superstar buddy Dwyane Wade was playing well. He said he wasn’t tired from playing too many minutes, that nothing was wrong with his shot.
But something was amiss, because the two-time league MVP, largely considered the most talented player in the NBA, was at best the third-best player in this series behind Dirk Nowitzki and Wade.
The Mavericks showed no fear of James. Jason Terry wondered aloud if James, a first-team All-NBA defender, could guard him for seven games after James shut Terry out in the fourth quarters of Games 1 and 3.
Turns out, James couldn’t. Terry finally broke free in the fourth quarter of the pivotal Game 5 and led the Mavs with 27 points in the clincher.
DeShawn Stevenson claimed it appeared James “checked out” down the stretch in Game 4.
James had become perhaps the league’s most-scrutinized player since last July, with the way he left the Cavs rubbing so many the wrong way. But it was rare for him to receive such criticism for what happened on the court as he did during this series.
He never got to play with another great player in Cleveland, where he eventually felt he would never be able to win a title. So while there was ridicule over the way he did it, there was understanding why he left Cleveland, why he felt he needed better players around him.
But it also meant nothing but a title would do for James’ critics, something he seemed to understand when he pointed out after Game 5 that he had a triple-double but it was viewed by many as a bad performance, because he did so little in the fourth quarter.
And one of his biggest critics, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, fired a quick shot on Twitter, congratulating the Mavs and noting that “There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.”
When it was over, James walked over to Wade for a hug, then shook hands with some Mavericks players. Nothing quite like the spectacle he found in this arena last summer, when the Heat hosted an over-the-top pep rally to celebrate winning the free agency championship by adding James and Chris Bosh.
And that’s the only crown the King gets to wear for now.
What Now For The Heat?
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press
(Jun 13, 2011) There were seven seconds left in the NBA season and the Dallas Mavericks were already beginning their championship celebration when LeBron James started slowly walking toward Dwyane Wade, his right hand outstretched.
A quick embrace, and with that, the offseason began.
For the Miami Heat, it's time to regroup.
Changing locales did not bring immediate change to the ultimate outcome for James, whose eighth NBA season and first in Miami ended the same way as the previous seven in Cleveland - without a championship. He took a swipe at those who criticized him and the Heat not long afterward, saying the quality of their lives will not improve because he failed to win a title. Truth is, without that ring, he won't reach the stratosphere he's longed for, either.
"There's no distractions that can stop me from trying to chase an NBA championship," James said Sunday night, after the final game.
No, but something always seems to stop him from winning one.
In 2007, his first finals appearance was a sweep against San Antonio, a team that was simply better. This time, the Heat had the home-court edge, were widely perceived as favourites and came into the finals flying high after needing only 11 games to get past Boston and Chicago.
A Game 1 win was followed by a Game 2 collapse, and the series was never really the same again as Dallas won four of the final five contests.
"It was a memorable season, in terms of a group of guys coming together for a common goal to sacrifice a lot of things that they're comfortable with," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It was a hard-working, lunch-pail-type-mentality group that came to work every day to try to chase down this dream. There's an emptiness when you don't reach your goal. There's nothing we can say right now that will make that pain go away. Maybe it's as simple as it being a rite of passage before we have to move on and take the next step."
So where to begin, then?
James said Sunday night that he'll spend the summer getting better. Wade expressed the same sentiments. Changes will be made to the roster at some point, with the Heat looking to upgrade at point guard, center, the bench or all of the above. And whenever next season begins, be it October or delayed by a lockout, James and the Heat will face the same situation they did in the season's final game: Win or bust.
"The more time we get to think about it and think about how close an opportunity we had, it will burn inside of us as competitors," Wade said. "At the end of the day, it will drive us to get back in this position again. So we understand that our goal is to win a championship. We wasn't able to accomplish that year one. But this ain't the end of the Miami Heat. We'll use this as motivation and come back and try to do it again."
On Monday morning, the NBA finals signage was still affixed to the sides of Miami's home arena. People milled about, taking photos of the video board that showed images of Wade, James and Chris Bosh on a loop, along with the Heat playoff logo. Inside the team store, a couple fans picked through piles of what souvenirs remained, one bringing in a newspaper ad - which ran in error - announcing that Heat championship gear would be on sale at a department store.
All seemed normal, except there was no game. No practice. No parade. No party.
And no end in sight to when all that might change for the Heat franchise, either.
"For whatever reason," Heat forward and co-captain Udonis Haslem said, "it just wasn't our time."
James said the same on Twitter as Sunday night turned into Monday morning. From the moment he said he was joining the Heat in that ill-conceived ESPN special last July, everything James says has been dissected in multiple ways. Earlier in these finals, he was asked if he feels like he can't win in the court of public opinion.
"I did win," James said.
Not where it counts most, he didn't. In the finals, he was Miami's third-leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, behind Wade and Bosh. He scored a total of 18 points in the fourth quarters of the six games. Down the stretch on Sunday, fans pleaded with him to do more, especially in one stretch where he would catch the ball and immediately pass to someone else, instead of attacking on his own.
"I think a lot of it has been unfair," Haslem said. "He is a great player. People have been looking to go at him ever since he came to Miami. Every little thing was magnified and blown up. Regardless of what anybody says, one thing you can't take away from him is he is the best player in the NBA, hands down. Say what you want to say. People that complain know it, they just don't want to say it so they look for things to point out.
"He's the best player in the NBA and all of the people that complain wish that he was on their team."
But when Miami held a party to announce the signing of the Big Three, it invited more scrutiny.
When Bosh stopped on his way to the locker room - doubling over, crying and overcome by emotion after Sunday's loss - it was perceived as weakness.
"There's no hiding," Bosh said. "In the NBA you play a series, best of seven games, usually the better team is going to win. So we've got a lot of work to do. We have to go back to the drawing board. It hurts to come this far and come up short."
That hurt will carry now, for months.
Dallas will have its parade soon, the league will likely begin a lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30, and after next week's draft the Heat may not have much in the way of official business to conduct for some time.
James said he'll be back in the gym before long. He knows he needs to develop more, whether that's through better post skills or midrange shooting or whatever. Wade won't wait very long before starting to move his vision toward 2012, either. And Spoelstra sounded Sunday night like he's eager to move past the pain of watching Dallas celebrate on his team's floor.
"Sometimes, as tough as it is to admit, sometimes you get beat by a team that it was their time," Spoelstra said. "And that will be a tough thing for us to swallow, this emptiness that we'll feel now during the offseason. It will be a tough pill for all of us."
Venus Williams Returns With
Victory At Eastbourne
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(Jun 13, 2011) Venus Williams finally beat Andrea Petkovic on Monday.
Five months after a hip injury forced her to retire against Petkovic after one game of their third-round match at the Australian Open, Williams beat the German 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in her first match back at Easbourne to complete a successful start to her Wimbledon preparations.
"It felt fitting, I guess," Williams said of playing Petkovic again. "It was a great way to start it all off."
The 30-year-old Williams was clearly rusty. She began the match with two double-faults and she made a series of unforced errors, particularly off the forehand side.
But the five-time Wimbledon champion's grass-court experience, and greater aggression, saw her through. She wasted three match points in the final game and saved a break-back point before finally taking it when Petkovic went wide with a forehand.
In other matches, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka beat Peng Shuai of China 6-4, 7-6 (2), while fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova recovered from a slow start to defeat Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.
Williams said the blustery wind and damp air on England's southeast coast contributed to an erratic display. The 30-year-old slipped over on the baseline in the 11th game of the second set, almost doing the splits.
"It was definitely an adventure today," she said. "Falling down every other point, coming back from such a long layoff, competing against someone who's been playing so well in the last 12 months.
"I was extremely excited to come back with the win. More than anything I was just really extremely excited to have the opportunity to play another match."
After benefiting from Williams' injury, Petkovic went on to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne and has since risen to No. 11 in the rankings. The 23-year-old led 4-2 in the first set before losing it 7-5, but she fought back well to come from a break down to take the second.
One break in the third set was enough for Williams to seal the a place in the second round where she will play former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic or Julia Goerges of Germany.
"It's a victory to be healthy," said Williams, who added that she felt no pain from her hip during the match. "As long as I can stay healthy, I know my game will just keep improving every day."
Williams' sister Serena will make her return to action after nearly a year out against Tsvetana Pironkova on Tuesday. She could then face top-seeded Vera Zvonareva.
The men's tournament also began Monday. There were first-round wins for Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
However, the second-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov went out, beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Argentina's Carlos Berlocq.
Tyson Overcome With Emotion At Boxing Hall Of Fame Induction
Source: www.thestar.com - The Associated Press
(Jun 12, 2011) CANASTOTA, N.Y.—Mike Tyson broke down in tears and cut short his speech while Sylvester Stallone proclaimed “Yo, Adrian, I did it!” as the two stars from different fields were inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday. Mexican champ Julio Cesar Chavez, Russian-born junior welterweight Kostya Tszyu, Mexican trainer Ignacio (Nacho) Beristain and referee Joe Cortez also were inducted. Tyson tried to honour the late trainer Cus D’Amato, who became his legal guardian after Tyson’s mother died and taught him the sweet science. But his eyes welled with tears and he apologized and walked away from the dais after only a moment or two.