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LE NEWSLETTER

 June 2, 2011

FINALLY!  The nice weather is upon us and summertime, summertime is here in our great city! 

 Remember you can just click on the titles or pics
or the LINKS TO THE RIGHT OF THIS WINDOW and get to your favourite articles quickly and efficiently. 

There is so much entertainment news this week - it's almost too much to take in.  So, here's a little summary of the TOP STORIES - one of music's legends has passed with upcoming tributes being scheduled -
Gil Scott-Heron, who has been recognized as one of the fathers of hip hop; big hockey team (Thrashers) move to Winnipeg (while U2 spells the city's name wrong time and again - see under MUSIC NEWS); Wes "Maestro" Williams continues his legacy with performances in the west as well as getting inducted into the Stylus Hall of Fame this week and releasing a new single this week, Girl Lets Fly; and Russell Peters releases his third DVD - you know it will bring laughter to your funny bone!

Tons of SPORTS NEWS too this week including that
Shaq is going to retire. Check it out!

Now if THAT isn't enough to entice to take a scroll and click to your favourite article, then I don't know what to say!  Also, don't forget 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!

::TOP STORIES::

Musician Gil Scott-Heron dies in NYC at 62

Source: www.thestar.com - By Cristian Salazar

(May 28, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Musician
Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died Friday at age 62.

A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip.

“We’re all sort of shattered,” she said.

Scott-Heron’s influence on rap was such that he sometimes was referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.

“If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating ‘hooks,’ which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,” he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, Now and Then.

He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply “black music or black American music.”

“Because Black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we’ve come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us,” he wrote.

Nevertheless, his influence on generations of rappers has been demonstrated through sampling of his recordings by artists, including Kanye West.

Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which critiqued mass media, for the album “125th and Lenox” in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was “I’m New Here,” which he began recording in 2007 and was released in 2010.

Throughout his musical career, he took on political issues of his time, including apartheid in South Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of the 1960s and the black literature, especially of the Harlem Renaissance.

Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tennessee, and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age 19, with the publication of “The Vulture,” a murder mystery.

True North Confirms Purchase Of Thrashers

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By David Shoalts

(May 31, 2011) The Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg.

True North Sports and Entertainment announced Tuesday at Winnipeg's MTS Centre that it has purchased the struggling team and will shift it to Canada next season.

The deal is reportedly worth $170-million, including a $60-million relocation fee that would be split by the rest of the league.

When the long-awaited announcement finally came, it was in the under-stated style that marked the principals throughout the long pursuit of another NHL team for Winnipeg.

"True North Sports and Entertainment Limited invites you to join us at a press conference," read the notice that popped into journalists' e-mail in-boxes one minute before 8 a.m. Central time Tuesday morning. "Join us as we make a significant community announcement."

It was that style as much as the financial might of True North owners David Thomson and Mark Chipman that finally paid off in the sale and move of the Atlanta Thrashers. Through the whole process, which began years ago when BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie was enraging NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his team owners with his grandiose plans to buy an NHL team for Hamilton, Ont., True North played it the NHL's way.

There were no public comments from Chipman, the leader of this venture. He kept quiet, as Bettman demands it, while the negotiations bubbled away in the background.

The payoff came 11 days ago when True North and Atlanta Spirit, LLC, the Thrashers owners, reached an agreement in principle on a sale. Days of agonizing remained for Winnipeg's hockey fans, who were itching to celebrate the return of the NHL 15 years after the Jets left to become the Phoenix Coyotes but True North stayed the course and kept quiet.

Rick Dudley, the Thrashers general manager who will head north with his team in the coming weeks, said Monday he deliberately kept himself in the dark about the sale to minimize the distractions from his job of building the team. But he was well aware of how his new owners conducted themselves in talks with both the Thrashers and the Coyotes.

"They showed themselves over the last couple years in a couple negotiations to be people who don't talk and don't get head of themselves," Dudley said.

The flirtation with the Coyotes was brief, coming in recent months when it looked like the Desert Dogs were once again on the verge of collapse. But when the taxpayers of Glendale, Ariz., were put on the hook by their political leaders for another $25-million in losses next season, True North turned back to its target all along, the Thrashers.

By Monday night, preparations were well under way for a celebration on Tuesday even if no one wanted to talk about it. But the fans were ready to party and pony up for the season-ticket drive that will be part of Tuesday's announcement.

Dave Minuk, a recent law school graduate who writes for The Illegal Curve, a Winnipeg hockey web site and radio show, said the expected average ticket price of $75 at the MTS Centre will not be a problem.

"What you will see is people getting together to share [season] tickets," he said. "There will be a lot of groups. For example, my dad is not a huge hockey fan but he's planning to get in a group."

With a report from Associated Press

Attention, hockey fans: Whether you're in Winnipeg or Wetaskiwin, Toronto or Moose Jaw, send us your photos from celebrations marking the return of NHL hockey to the Jets' former hometown. Click here [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/multimedia/camera-club/send-us-your-best-images/article1720095]for instructions on how to upload your shots.

Don't Get Fresh With This Maestro

Source:
By Teresa Mallam - Prince George Free Press

(May 26, 2011) Juno-award winner Hip Hop artist
Maestro Fresh Wes (Wes Williams) is coming to  Prince George. He plays Rum Jungle  on Saturday, June 4. Maestro is Canada’s best selling hip-hop artist.

He’s been recognized with 12 Juno Award Nominations (he’s won two), four MuchMusic Awards, two People’s Choice Awards, two Toronto Music Awards and the first Platinum Album from a hip-hop artist in Canada.

Maestro spoke with the Free Press last week. For the versatile performer, actor, motivational speaker and writer, it’s all about moving away from one’s comfort zone.

“When you look at the artists who’ve been doing this (music) for the past five years or so, they’re artists who do more than rap. They bring more to the table than just what’s within the parameters of hip hop – artists like Drake, kos and Classified. As simple as it may seem, when  Classified did the National Anthem, hip hop style, that’s outside the norm. It pushes the envelope for other artists.”

Maestro came onto Canada’s hip hop scene with his 1989 single Let Your Backbone Slide, the only Canadian hip-hop single to achieve gold status. His album Symphony in Effect remains the best-selling Canadian hip-hop album ever.

He’s also widely known as the godfather of hip hop.

“To me that (title) means my community embraces me for what I’ve done, for being exceptional in my career. I feel honoured by fellow artists who refer to me that way, that’s a beautiful thing for me. And those are the artists who have inspired me.”

For the last 20 years, Maestro has continued to record but has branched out into many other areas of the business.

“I want to keep on doing other things with my life. I just had my first book Stick to Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles and Haters To Get Where You Want to Be published and it seems to be doing well.

“My acting career isn’t too shabby either (he laughs).  Last year I got a Gemini for best supporting actor in a dramatic series. And Microsoft just hired me for an event.”

Maestro is also a successful motivational speaker. In his new book, he uses both high and low points of his personal and professional life to illustrate how to define a vision, achieve it and then figure out what to do once you get there.

He’s appeared in almost every episode of the Instant Star TV series. Williams also established himself as a big-screen actor in films such as Honey, with Jessica Alba , and Four Brothers, with Mark Wahlberg .

DJ Abel and dron3 will be setting the stage for Maestro on June 4 when he plays the Rum Jungle. Doors open at 9 p.m. at the Rum Jungle. Proceeds from the show go to support programs and services at the library.

Molson Coors Canada has helped to bring Maestro to Prince George, and Outlet Records is also pleased to sponsor the event. Tickets for Maestro’s concert are $15, available at Books and Company, Ruins, HomeWork and the Prince George Public Library.

Russell Peters Releases Third DVD, Panic Ensues

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lorianna De Giorgio

(May 30, 2011) There’s a lot of buzz around
Russell Peters these days. Even during the interview.

“Sorry, I’m cleaning up my face while I’m talking to you,” Peters says over the phone from Las Vegas as the buzzing sound of an electric razor erupts during the interview.

The Toronto Star caught up with the Brampton-born funny man Sunday as he prepared to travel from his digs in Vegas to Toronto for the release of his much-talked about third DVD, The Green Card Tour, Live from the O2 Arena.

The DVD, which goes on sale Tuesday, was shot over two-nights in London last September.

Shaving aside, Peters has racked up a fair share of achievements in his 20-plus year standup career. His deeply personal autobiography, Call Me Russell, which he penned with his manger and brother Clayton Peters and screenwriter Dannis Koromilas, was released last fall.

As well Peters, who splits his time between Los Angeles, Vegas and Toronto, has starred in a number of films, from the recently released sci-fi thriller, Source Code, to New Year’s Eve, the ensemble sequel to Valentine’s Day starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel slated for a late 2011 release.

If that wasn’t enough, Peters opened for Charlie Sheen in Toronto in April for the former Two and a Half Men’s live stage show, My Violent Torpedo of Truth show at Massey Hall.

But with a DVD release comes challenges.

“The second a new DVD comes out the more panic I go into because I have to start writing a new act . . . I go ‘Holy, s — t what I’m going to talk about,’” Peters says. “Everything has been covered already.

“How many more cultures are there left for me to talk about . . . that’s almost a beaten horse now so I have to figure something out.”

Hence Peters’ film gigs. But he isn’t giving up standup comedy anytime soon.

“I want to keep doing films and see how far I can ride that wagon and see where it takes me,” says Peters, who will be at Square One’s HMV in Mississauga on Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. signing DVDs.

“I’m not going to bail on comedy because it’s the one thing I’ve been doing for 22 years . . . there’s no way I could just walk away from it. I’d miss it too much.”

The Green Card DVD features what Peters is best known for — his no-holds barred jokes and rants about different cultures and ethnic groups. He’s made a living out of making fun of everyone.

“For me it was fun just to get the new DVD taped. But to do it at the venue where Michael Jackson was supposed to be, you know that’s even cooler,” Peters says.

A 60-minute version of the performance will be released on June 14 on iTunes Canada.

The special will also be broadcast on Showtime in the U.S., with a Canadian partner to be announced shortly.

Peters last performed at the O2 Arena in February 2009.

The difference between the two shows?

“I was more prepared (this time around). In the 2009 I was just in the beginning of writing my act . . . I wasn’t happy with it but the fans were,” he says.

Peters still gets kicks from having an international following. Same goes for the celebrities he meets. His Twitter page is full of photos of run-ins with the likes of Will Ferrell, Rob Lowe and even Vinny Guadagnino of MTV’s Jersey Shore.

“In England, it’s really cool because if I’m not playing anywhere in Europe I get people travelling from . . . Russia, Greece, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy . . . it’s pretty wild.”

Peters got married to his longtime girlfriend last August and the couple welcomed a baby girl in December. So, has fatherhood changed the comic?

“Well, now I have to care about somebody. Now I care about somebody more than I care about myself,” he says.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Drake big winner at Stylus Awards

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(May 31, 2011) Drake, Deadmau5 and Shawn Desman were among the prize winners in the 2011 Stylus Awards, a celebration of DJ talent in Canada staged Monday night at Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Toronto’s Witrespect and Drake won the Fan Choice categories for Club DJ and Artist of the Year, respectively, while Drake’s “Miss Me”, featuring Lil’ Wayne, was named Canadian Hip Hop Single of the Year.

Canadian R&B Single of the Year, “You Can Have it All”, went to JRDN, while Desman took out Canadian Dance/Pop Single of the Year for “Night Like This.”

Other winners:

House DJ of the Year: JoJo Flores (Montreal); Electro DJ of the Year: Deadmau5 (Toronto); Dance DJ of the Year: 4 Korners (Toronto); DJ Remix of the Year: Kap n Kirk & Joe Ghost Stromae for “Te Quiero” (Kap n Kirk, Joe Ghost remix); Drake for “Boi -1 da Over”; Female DJ of the Year: Lissa Monet (Toronto).

This year’s Stylus Hall of Fame inductees were DJ/promoter Ron Nelson, and singer/songwriter
Maestro Fresh Wes.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Lightfoot Keeps Massey Hall Show A Sweet Ritual

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(May 26, 2011) It seems somehow pointless and unnecessary —
arrogant, perhaps — to review Gordon Lightfoot’s umpteenth opening night at Massey Hall.

The man virtually owns the place, having performed there more than 150 times since the late 1970s, when his Massey presentations landed in the hands of Toronto promoter Bernie Fiedler, co-founder in the 1960s of the Yorkville coffee house The Riverboat, where Lightfoot, Canada’s most beloved folk artist, got his start.

Besides, what’s to review? Lightfoot’s a perfectionist. He wouldn’t be performing if he sensed even the possibility of weakness or flaws. He may look like a geezer — he’s gaunt and skinny, with craggy features and sunken cheeks, not really even a shadow of his former self — but he’s a proud man, a survivor of countless rigorous obsessions and, after a lifetime of solitary, single-minded dedication to the song and the spotlight, he’d never let us down.

And he rose to the occasion again Wednesday night, in the first of four consecutive shows at Massey Hall. No one in the jammed old house could have faulted a performance that remains eerily the same year after year, suspended forever in a reverie enriched by images of vast, open Canadian spaces, and sensations of winter bliss, isolation and longing.

Sure, the voice is a little weaker than we remember. Strumming and fingerpicking those famous vintage instruments, the Gibson B-45 12-string and the Martin D-28, he may be less robust, less precise than he used to be, but he covers it well, supported by musicians whose taste and gracefulness are beyond reproach — drummer Barry Keane, bassist Rick Haynes, keyboardist Mike Heffernan and guitarist Carter Lancaster, who replaced the sadly departed Terry Clements, Lightfoot’s renowned second set of hands, just three months ago.

But these Massey shows aren’t really about perfection, though Lightfoot’s persnickety devotion to propriety suggests he has never forgotten the lessons of his youth: give the folks what they paid to hear, start right on time, don’t bore them with idle chatter, and get off stage when the job is done.

Lightfoot’s springtime spree has been adopted as something of a national rite, a way against which he and his fans measure their changes, renew old friendships, gather in memories, regain the spiritual sustenance to carry on.

It’s this profound and ritualistic bond that’s now the essential reason for the annual love-in. As long as Gord prevails, so can we all. After all, there’s a sense when he plays that we were all young together. These uncomplicated melodies — built around little more than three chords and resonating with the sing-song simplicity of old Celtic bard fodder — were, after all, part of the soundtrack to burgeoning national pride, an almost elegiac testament to Canada’s sudden sense of a self that was young, golden, gentle and true.

Lightfoot may well be more myth than man. We know little — and care less — about what kind of person he is. His privacy is something over which we’ve all been complicit guardians.

We do that, and we turn up at Massey Hall every spring, because we need him. Only Lightfoot can keep that feeling alive, that awe of innocent self-discovery, when all other trappings of identity are slipping into the global vortex. We need that voice and no one else’s delivering “Did She Mention My Name,” “Carefree Highway,” “Sundown,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “Christian Island,” “Sweet Guinevere,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy.”

As long as we can hear Lightfoot’s voice in Massey Hall, and see him in the flesh, we’re safe and well.

Musicians Demand Grammy’s Reverse Category Cuts

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

(May 26, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y. — A coalition of musicians is
demanding the Recording Academy restore more than 30 categories cut from the Grammy Awards, alleging the reductions unfairly target ethnic music and were done without the input of its thousands of members

A protest was planned Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif., at an academy board meeting. It is part of a campaign by those upset by last month’s decision to reduce the Grammy fields, which this year totalled 109, to 78.

Grammy President and CEO Neil Portnow said changes would be in effect for the 2012 Grammys. He urged dissenters to work with the academy, which would examine the effect of the changes for the 2013 awards.

But protesters hope the process could be reversed in time for next year’s Grammy ceremony if at least one board member asks the academy to reconsider.

“Hopefully during that time, someone will rise and be brave enough and do this,” Bobby Sanabria, a four-time Grammy nominee in the Latin jazz category and a leader of the movement against the changes, said in an interview Wednesday.

“He’s being arrogant in saying that it’s written in stone when we have a chance to get these categories reinstated,” said Sanabria of Portnow. He has called for the resignation of Portnow and the board of trustees.

The Academy announced the changes April 6; the move came after a more than year-long examination of the awards structure, the first in the Grammys’ 50-plus year history. Portnow said at the time that the changes would make the Grammys more competitive, and the awards more coveted.

But the move upset many Academy members, who were taken off guard by the announcement.

Paul Simon wrote a letter to Portnow asking him to reconsider, writing, in part: “I believe the Grammys have done a disservice to many talented musicians by combining previously distinct and separate types of music into a catch-all of blurry larger categories. ... They deserve the separate Grammy acknowledgments that they’ve been afforded until this change eliminated them.”

Sanabria, who is working with musicians including Eddie Palmieri and Arturo O’Farrill, said ethnic music was unfairly targeted, and called it a “subtle form of racism.”

“The effect will be that the music will be very, very homogenous, it’s already starting to sound like that already,” he said. “Society as we know it now is very multicultural and very diverse, and the Grammys always reflected that.”

Portnow, in an interview this week, said he understands the frustration of those affected. However, he denied many of Sanabria’s contentions, including the idea that nonmainstream categories bore the brunt of the reductions.

“In this year’s awards, in the 53rd (annual ceremony), there were 34 mainstream categories. Next year, with the changed revision, there will be 20 mainstream categories. That’s a significant reduction in mainstream areas. In nonmainstream categories ... there were 71. In the upcoming 54th awards, there will be 54,” he said, saying that percentage-wise, mainstream categories were more effected.

“Not only nonmainstream categories were affected here,” he said. “The facts here don’t play that out.”

Portnow also took issue with Sanabria’s assertion that the changes were conducted arbitrarily and in secret, saying the changes were implemented by representatives of the members.

“This is a committee that is made up of members of the academy who include musicians and producers, engineers and experts in the various fields,” he said.

“There was well over a year and a half discussion within that group, in that committee. They recommended the overall changes to the process to the board of trustees, which was discussed thoroughly.”

Portnow said the changes were already adopted and unless “the board chooses to act in a fashion not consistent with its rules and regulations, (these concerns) will be dealt with in the next cycle.”

He also criticized Sanabria for making what he termed personal attacks against him and other board members.

“It is not rational nor is it logical to have a discussion to ask people to resign,” he said. “I don’t think it endears their cause to board members either.”

After the Academy announced the changes, meetings were held in chapter cities across the country to reach out to members. Portnow said he’s willing to meet with members of Sanabria’s coalition.

“They’ve done a great job in mobilizing the community to do something. If the community has been mobilized, let’s take it to the next step ... a positive direction,” he said.

Said Sanabria: “You don’t stick a sword in somebody’s back and then when they’re bleeding say, let’s come together.”

“He disrespects us,” he said. “He’s so out of touch with everything.”

The Recording Academy’s board meeting ends Friday. If it concludes with the changes still in place, Sanabria is vowing boycotts of the Grammys, broadcast partner CBS and sponsors of the show. He said he will also urge people to resign from the academy.

“We have to fight this. This is not just a music issue. This is a cultural diversity issue,” he said.

Jill Scott’s Album Pushed Up a Week Sooner!

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 26, 2011) *Woo hoo! It’s almost here!

Jill Scott’s next album, “The Light of the Sun” is set to debut on June 21, which is a week sooner than expected.

And as a preview, she’ll be performing on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno on June 17 and later on “Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel’s” outdoor concert June 23, and then on “Live! With Regis & Kelly” on June 30.

The iconic singer/actress has risen to the top with her hit single, “So In Love” featuring Anthony Hamilton and it continues to have great success.

Jill Scott is just being taken up in a whirlwind of fanfare with her recent appearance at the White House for the American Poetry Workshop alongside Common. She also is featured on the cover of EBONY Magazine’s June Music issue.

For more information about where the star will be next, visit www.missjillscott.com.

Video: Mary J. Blige Records Original Song for DreamWorks’ ‘The Help’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 1, 2011) *Mary J. Blige has written and recorded an original song for the soundtrack of DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media’s “The Help,” a film based on the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name, opening in theatres August 12, 2011.

“The Help” soundtrack – music from the Motion picture, will feature the original song from Mary J Blige called “The Living Proof.”  The soundtrack, from Interscope Records, will be available Tuesday, July 26 at select Starbucks locations.

The song, “The Living Proof,” was written and recorded by Blige especially for “The Help” after she saw a screening of the film, which takes place in 1960s-era Mississippi and chronicles the journey of three very different women who come together and embark on a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk.

“The beautiful thing about these women is that they were very smart,” says Blige. “They chose to walk in love and forgiveness.”

“The film really celebrates the courage to inspire change … to speak to so many women with this song means a lot to me” says Blige. “I wanted to be involved with this film, because I think we need to encourage each other more, we are here to tell a story.”

Blige, a 9-time Grammy winner, who’s sold over 50 million albums worldwide, will release her next album “My Life Too … The Journey Continues” on Sept 20.

Eve Puckers Up for New Album; Hates Minaj/Lil Kim Beef

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 26, 2011) *
Eve is preparing to release her first new album in nearly a decade.

The rapper began working on her new set, titled “Lip Lock,” back in 2007, she told BANG Showbiz. Due later this year, the project will be her first studio album since “Eve-Olution” was released nine years ago.

Speaking at the launch party for the Gumball 3000 Rally at the Playboy Club in London, Eve said: “I’ve been finishing my record, which will be out by the end of the year There’s a lot of good people on it. Swizz Beatz is on it, he’s like my brother. MSTRKRFT are on it. It’s kind of eclectic, not so much dance, but very hip-hop, with big beats. I just want to put out this record because I haven’t had a record out in so long.”

Eve also commented on the lack of females in hip hop, noting, “there is too much testosterone.” She wants the veteran female emcees to encourage talent, rather than starting feuds, as in the case of Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim.

Eve said Kim calling her rival a “bitch” was a bad move, adding: “I think it’s so stupid. If I were Kim’s friend I would be like, ‘You need to stop’. Because we were all the new girl at some point, so you need to celebrate each other, not hate each other.”

Back before Gaga and Beyoncé, there was Kate Bush

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Times of London

(May 28, 2011) LONDON— An interview with
Kate Bush, whatever form it takes, is exciting enough to cause heart problems in otherwise healthy music journalists. She is a genius: Every album she has released has been something of a reinvention. She is elusive: She has toured only once and she last came into view six years ago for the release of her album Aerial, even then doing only one interview. She is hugely influential: Everyone from Lady Gaga to Beyoncé owes a debt to the woman who invented the idea of the female pop star as performance artist.

“She was the first female singer that wasn’t a songstress,” says Lindsay Kemp, the legendary dancer, actor and mime artist who taught David Bowie and Bush, and who was a key influence on her. “Much as I adored Dusty [Springfield], Kate was something else; a chameleon, really, and very cultured, with a great imagination.”

It is 33 years since Bush, with her debut single Wuthering Heights, became the first woman to have a U.K. No. 1 hit with a self-written song. Now she is emerging ever so slightly from her castle of domesticity in Berkshire co-habited by her guitarist husband, Danny McIntosh, and her 12-year-old son Bertie, for the first time in six years with a reworking of two of her albums. And she has agreed to talk about it.

Director’s Cut revisits The Sensual World from 1989 and The Red Shoes from 1993, either rerecording the songs entirely or tweaking them into new forms. She won’t do an interview in person, and she will talk only about the new album; any questions straying toward the personal will be ignored. But with Bush you take whatever you are given. So the first question is: why would someone so forward thinking and original want to go over old ground? “I’d wanted to revisit some of the songs from these two albums for a while now,” she replies. “I think there were some quite interesting songs on there, and I wanted to see how I could make them sound at this point in time. I’ve tried to allow the songs to breathe more by stripping a lot of the production out and lengthening some sections, but keeping the best performances from the original tracks.”

You can’t imagine Bush looking back much. “I don’t listen to my old stuff very often at all,” she confirms. “But when I’ve heard bits and pieces from these albums I felt some of it sounded a bit dated, some of it a bit cluttered. I approached them as if they were newly written songs. To me it sounds like a new album.”

The lead single is Deeper Understanding, which predicted the Facebook age by documenting the intimate relationship between a lonely person and a computer. The new version features Bush’s vocals placed through Auto-Tune software and a chorus from Bertie, who sounds like a disembodied choirboy. It takes some getting used to. “I can’t say I’m really that happy with anything I’ve done,” she says, reflecting on the new version. “I don’t aim for perfection. But I do want to try and come up with something interesting.

“ The process veers between ideas that seem to work quickly and others that are painfully elusive. It’s tedious at times. Normally a good night’s sleep gives me the energy to keep pushing it along ...” she adds, sounding much like any busy middle-class mum juggling the school run with the day job, which in Bush’s case is making albums that are routinely upheld as masterpieces. Speaking to her now, you might wonder how so much mystery and intrigue has built up around her. Then you return to the video for Wuthering Heights, which she wrote one moonlit night in 1977, aged 19, as a response to watching a BBC adaptation of Emily Bronte’s novel (she got around to reading the book only years later).

Wuthering Heights, which Bush insisted would be her debut single against EMI’s wishes, came after 2 1/2 years hard work. Bush was signed to EMI in 1975, aged 17, after David Gilmour of Pink Floyd heard a demo tape she had made with her parents. Gilmour recorded Bush playing a handful of songs on her piano at the family home in Kent before booking her in for a session at Air Studios in London. EMI signed Bush at Gilmour’s suggestion. Two years later she got back in touch with him, in 1978, shortly before her debut album, The Kick Inside, was due to be released.

“She sent me Wuthering Heights and said, ‘I’m thinking of releasing this as the first single,’ “ Gilmour has recounted. “I said: ‘I wouldn’t if I were you!’ So I was completely and utterly wrong and she was completely and utterly right, as she always is.”

From the summer of 1975, when she went into Air Studios for that initial session, to the release of Wuthering Heights in January of 1978, Bush finished her schooling, wrote songs, and used some of her advance from EMI to take the train from her flat in Brockley to the Dance Centre in Covent Garden, where Kemp held open classes for the equivalent of a couple of dollars on Saturday mornings. It was Kemp who taught Bowie the basics of mime; he was the obvious choice to tutor Bush in a new form of self-expression.

“It must have been 1976 when she appeared in one of my classes,” says Kemp, 70, who lives in Italy and is still working. “I can’t say she particularly struck me at first because she was so timid and waiflike. So I helped her to bring herself out, and once she was dancing she was great: passionate, observant and diligent. I told her I wanted to see her spirit dancing, for her to be unafraid and audacious; to bring to the outside what was on the inside, which she has certainly done since.”

Kemp did not know she was signed to EMI. Assuming she was just another penniless artistic type hanging out at his classes, he gave her a job in wardrobe. “She was sewing countless sequins on outfits for our production of Salome at the Roundhouse [in London],” says Kemp, who, with his camp Scottish brogue, sounds perpetually amused and a touch surprised.

“She was so very quiet that I had no idea she had plans to be a pop star. It was only later, after I came back from a tour of South America and there was her debut album underneath my front door, when I discovered what she had been up to. I thought she was still sewing sequins.”

Kemp’s influence really came into its own on The Tour of Life, Bush’s first – and last – U.K. tour in 1979. A combination of experimental rock, modern dance and theatricality, it featured the first microphone headset (built from a wire coat hanger with a mike on the end) and had Bush variously climbing onto a muscular dancer’s shoulders while dressed as a flying squirrel and acting out a wild-west shootout, all the while staying within character and never once addressing the audience.

Why didn’t it happen again, or any other kind of tour? “It took a lot out of me, and I don’t feel prepared again for that kind of commitment,” Bush said in a television interview in the mid-1980s. The tour was also marred by tragedy: The lighting designer Bill Duffield fell from the rafters and died at the dress rehearsal in Poole. Bush doesn’t rule out the possibility of playing live again – “I’d like to think so before I get too ancient” – but The Tour of Life remains a sole entity, witnessed by a fortunate few.

A year after The Tour of Life, Bush went into Abbey Road Studios to do her third album, Never For Ever. Working next door was the folk-rock singer-songwriter Roy Harper. They provided backing vocals for each other’s songs, and became friends.

“She grew up with my music, which was unknown to me when I met her,” Harper. says. “So we met, got on, and we’ve worked together a few times over the years since. It’s always been a delight: she’s organized and gracious, a very sweet woman. She is some sort of a perfectionist, but then a lot of us are, searching for the Holy Grail as it were, so that’s not particularly unusual for an artist. I imagine that she felt she had to go back to these albums [on Director’s Cut] before she could move on.”

Bush hasn’t toured since. But despite protracted periods of invisibility giving rise to reports of her as a tormented recluse, she comes across as a grounded person with an uncommon talent, who simply needs space and privacy to work. (She has recently revealed she’s “in the elusive process” of collecting fresh material for her ninth original album at the moment.)

She is, however, happy to talk about the process of making Director’s Cut, describing the challenge of recording new vocals for the songs, 20 years on, in a matter-of-fact way. “My voice is lower now. But once the key was dropped I could find my way in,” she says. “I don’t know if the new vocals are better, but they are different.”

She says that making the Director’s Cut album involved lots of “boring technical work, tedious plodding through lists of stuff to do. Luckily I work with people I like or it would be murder.” Why did it take so long to emerge? “I’d wanted to do this project for a few years and thought it would be easy. It wasn’t. Should have known that ...” After a frustrating studio experience with 1979’s Lionheart, and after being allowed to co-produce the follow-up, Never For Ever, Bush has produced all her albums herself, retaining full control of her output.

Bush’s impact burns as brightly as ever, 33 years on. John Grant, the American singer whose album Queen of Denmark dominated the U.K. Best Of 2010 lists, lays down the influence she had on him in stark terms.

“She changed my life,” Grant says. “I first heard her in 1985, with Running Up That Hill. I was in Parker, Colorado, in the middle of nowhere, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. ... I wish I had a chance to tell her how much her music has meant to me.”

Grant isn’t the only one. I have hundreds of questions to ask her, but only a handful get answered. The interview ends with a brief summation of Director’s Cut that is as straightforward as the woman herself. “I’m pleased with how this album sounds now.”

Then she concludes, with an air of peace: “I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do.”

The Times of London / NI Syndication

Rodney Jerkins Working on Several Albums for ‘Idol’ Finalists

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 26, 2011) *Scotty McCreery may have won “American Idol,” but
a number of season 10 finalists have scored recording contracts – and producer Rodney Jerkins will have his stamp on at least three of the projects.

Fourth finalist out, Pia Toscano, has already recorded “a few songs,” according to Jerkins. He  says her debut is poised to be “a big, diva-sounding record.”

“It’s what I think I do best – that big Whitney, Mariah, Celine vibe,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve having fun with that.”

He’s making plans for additional sessions while Toscano and the rest of season 10 Top 11 are out on tour this summer. “These kids have crazy schedules so what’s going to happen is while they’re on the road traveling, they’ll have to stop in certain cities and record, which might mean us traveling and meeting them to record.”

On orders from Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine, Jerkins has also been tasked with composing songs for McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina.

“This was training for us producers,” Jerkins tells THR. “I wrote five country songs last week. It’s transformed not just the contestants but even the producer. Tricky [Stewart] produced that ‘Mama’ song for Lauren, and he said, ‘With this show, we’re not just urban pop guys anymore.’ George Strait can call me tomorrow and I’m ready to go!”

As far as when these albums might see a release date? That’s not entirely clear, it might be end of summer, or perhaps the fall, as per the Sony Music timeline of “Idol” albums past.

“Jimmy said, ‘Start working now,’” Jerkins reveals. “One song that Scotty recorded is really close to being a go right now, but basically, I’ve been told to just keep writing.”

Sean Kingston Stabilized After Crash, Moved To ICU

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 30, 2011) MIAMI—Hip-hop singer Sean Kingston has been stabilized and moved to the intensive care unit at a hospital after crashing his watercraft into a Miami Beach bridge, his publicist said Monday.

The publicist, Joseph Carozza, said Kingston's family is grateful for everyone's prayers and support.

Kingston and a female passenger were injured when the watercraft hit the Palm Island Bridge around 6 p.m. Sunday, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino said.

The Miami Herald reports that a passing boater saw the accident and took the two on board his vessel.

Both were hospitalized early Monday at Ryder Trauma Center, but Pino said he didn't know their conditions.

Authorities are investigating the crash, and “nothing at this point would indicate that alcohol played a role,” Pino said.

Kingston rose to fame with his 2007 hit “Beautiful Girls” and was also featured on songs by artists including Justin Bieber. His self-titled debut album sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

On Twitter, Bieber posted a message of support for Kingston.

“Got my friend Sean Kingston in my prayers tonight,” Bieber tweeted early Monday. “A true friend and big bro. Please keep him in your prayers tonight as well.”

A number of hip-hop musicians were in Miami Beach over the weekend for Urban Beach Week.

In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Kingston described his music as a fusion of reggae, pop, rap and R&B.

“It's Sean Kingston genre. I have my own genre,” Kingston told the AP at the time. “No disrespect to no artist or dudes out there. I feel like I am my own person. I am doing my own thing.”

His music has been unique among hip-hop offerings, as Kingston refused to use profanity.

“To put it in my music, that's not the message I am trying to send out,” he said in the 2007 interview. “That's not the type of artist I am trying to be.”

What Makes You Think You Can Have a Successful Record Company?

Source: www.eurweb.com – by Stan Sheppard

(May 31, 2011) *Each year that goes by in the music industry, there
are hundreds of small “start up record companies” across the country that experience what I call “The Big Let Down” as it applies to their new business venture within the first year of operation.

In a majority of these cases, the owners of these new companies have no idea of what they are getting into when they launch their new labels and they seem to think that just because their music “sounds good”, that  they actually have a chance of having a hit record in a very short time. All I can say to that is… “good luck, because you’re going to need it”

Professional sports stars, doctors, lawyers, accountants, actors and people from just about every walk of life have poured millions of hard earned dollars into their dreams of having the next Motown Records and becoming a musical superstar, only to find out a short time later that their record companies are basically a waste of time and money on a major scale.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to work with several sports  stars who have started their own music companies and I have watched numerous
other players jump into the business only to have their dreams take a crash
landing shortly after they took off. These people really felt that just because they had the money to spend to push their product and that they had a “name” in the  sports world, that they would have a hit record with their first release.

WRONG.

They thought their status in the sports world would in some strange way make
them special in the music industry and that people would treat them with respect.

WRONG.

Simply put… “NOBODY CARES about you or your money!”

When this reality hits them in the face, they are shocked and dismayed and the depression starts to set in real fast. Before they realize it, they have spent mega dollars launching this new label and the money keeps going out and “nothing is coming back in” from what they are producing. This happens every week in our business and there is no end to this madness in sight.

As I do in each of my columns, I try to do my best to educate my readers and let them know “the real” when it comes to the entertainment industry. Therefore, I have decided to let everyone reading this article know what they should do and expect if they enter the music industry to hopefully make a living at it. Here are my “TOP 10 MOST IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER” if you are set to enter this wild and crazy field of employment.

1. If you are a person in professional sports who wants to start a record company or launch yourself as an artist, “don’t let anyone know it’s you or your company.” This is the quickest way for you to make people turn away from you and to treat your product with “NO RESPECT”. The industry people will take your money, take photos with you, pat you on the back and then the moment you leave the room they throw your record in the waste basket.

2. Don’t get in the music business thinking you are going to make money in the first year. It’s possible, but highly unlikely.

3. If you want to start a record company that will release product on a national basis, you must have at least a six figure bank roll to do this or it’s a waste of time in most cases.

4. Do not try to promote your product nationally right from the start. Work your record locally or regionally to try to build a “story” for your record before you attempt to spread it across the country.

5. Research and test your product with as many people as possible.

6. Understand that 95% of everyone you will meet in the recording industry specializes in telling lies and half-truths. As I tell clients, most record executives and the “truth” have never met !

7. If you hire someone to assist you with launching your label, please make sure you hire people who have had success in the industry on a major scale. Google these individuals and check out their history. If it comes up weak, “RUN AWAY FROM THEM.”

8. Hire a seasoned entertainment lawyer to represent you and make sure everything you do is “on paper.”

9. Make sure you have enough cash on hand to press and ship your records if you start to make some noise in the marketplace. Having a potential hit building and not having the cash to support it is called “having a hit and going broke!”

10. Please understand that your chances of going Gold or Platinum within the first year is “highly unlikely.” 90% of all records released are either complete sales flops or they don’t make enough money back to cover the cost of making the CD. Don’t put your life savings into this type of venture because quite frankly, it is not a safe investment.

In closing on this subject, I know some of my readers are saying “wow…Stan is very negative  about the recording industry”, but as I said earlier, I will always keep it real with you and even though I have painted a rough picture of the industry and your chances for success in it… all I can say is that I am speaking the FACTS to you and giving you some insight into this crazy world I work in. Now that I have warned you about the possible pitfalls and what to expect if you jump into these waters, please remember these important words…”there are sharks out there with razor sharp teeth
and they are not on a diet. Are you the main course on the dinner menu tonight?”

Case closed.

On the creative tip, it looks like 3D Entertainment/ToneStruck Records has a potential hit artist on their hands with “QUE”, the young 17 year old Rap artist out of Milwaukee who made a name for himself with the hit song called “CAN’T KEEP RUNNIN AWAY” that dealt with the subject of  “Bullying”. “QUE” has a new single getting ready to hit the streets called “YO CHAIN FAKE” and the response to this song has been INCREDIBLE! The project is being promoted nationally by MR. LEE FORD JR.

Another record that is really catching on fast is the new single from “JERRY B. LONG” called “WHO IZ U?” This song has HIT written all over it! Everyone who has heard it from CHRIS BROWN to CEE LO-GREEN has just been BLOWN AWAY. “JERRY B. LONG” aka “KOKANE” is releasing this new single and album before the end of the summer on his new label called “BUD E BOY ENTERTAINMENT”. The album is  entitled “IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD” and it is a mixture of Old School and New  School. Please look out for this record and artist because in my humble opinion, he is on point to become a household name in a very short period of time.

Another label making some noise recently on the East Coast, is a label called “PYPEN HOT ENTERTAINMENT” headed by MR. MICHAEL “BROOKLYN” DeHEYWOOD.
This Brooklyn based label is launching several new acts this summer and they are getting ready to drop new music from “K-NAVI”, “SPICEE CAJUN” and ALEXANDRIA FAIRCHILD” just to name a few. These young artists have a unique style and they are poised to do big things in the coming months. Also, from what I understand, PYPEN HOT ENTERTAINMENT has been in direct talks with MR. LEE FORD JR. and his TONESTRUCK RECORDS to assist the label nationally on the promotion end of things.

On the R&B side of things, please go to iTUNES and listen to the new project from “LENA J” called “PLEASURE, PAIN & PASSION” on LADY J ENTERTAINMENT.
This CD is loaded with sultry, smooth R&B songs and it is one of my favourites out now. She’s got a song called “IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT” that absolutely does it for me! I have worn the CD out and whoever hears it feels the same. Do yourself a favour and pick this album up. Believe me… YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED!

Until the next time, stay safe, stay focused and stay with God.

U2 Welcomes Concertgoers To ‘Winipeg

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(May 30, 2011) Concertgoers in Winnipeg saw their city misspelt on a
concert screen at the U2 concert at Canad Inns Stadium Sunday night.

The misspelling occurred three times prior to the start of the show. Different stats about Winnipeg, or “Winipeg,” as U2 spelled it, were shown to the crowd as they waited for the show to start.

U2 frontman Bono acknowledged the mistake when the band took the stage, saying: “Hello Winnipeg, with two N’s.”

Matthew DiUbaldo, a development officer in Winnipeg, was at the concert. He noticed the spelling error, as did his wife, who was seated in a separate section from him.

“They had three or four different stats about Winnipeg, like the elevation (and other stats) . . . and Winnipeg was spelled wrong in all of them,” DiUbaldo told the Star Monday morning.

“They were just running some random stats — like some worldwide stats and some local stats. Like one of the stats was how many days we have left with oil, and the unemployment rate and how many births there were in the world (Sunday) and stuff like that. It was a way for people to pass the time before the show started, I guess.”

Steve Rogalsky, who was also in attendance, said the screen also referred to Manitoba as a state instead of a province. Bono cracked numerous jokes about “Winipeg” throughout the evening, including a joke that the band must have had some wine before the show.

“They had some fun with it.”

But, Rogalsky said, the crowd was forgiving about the errors.

“None of us held that mistake against them … we had a great time,” he said.

A number of concertgoers noticed the mistake and began tweeting about it.

“So, according to #U2, the city name is spelled Winipeg and Manitoba is a State. I'm learning so much today!” Mitch Janzen tweeted.

Bryan Ditchfield tweeted: “U2 spelled Winnipeg wrong . . . Winipeg really bono really??”

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, more 50,000 people attended the concert, part of U2’s 360 Tour.

Nashville Comes North: Getting The Hang Of The Twang

Source: www.thestar.com - By Oakland Ross

(May 25, 2011)
Dan McVeigh would be just another 53-year-old Brampton working stiff, holding down a daytime office job supplemented by regular weekend gigs — playing classic rock in a bar band — if it weren't for one thing: McVeigh's heart belongs to Nashville.

“It's all about love and hurt and partying and beer-drinking and your ma's in jail,” says the country-music fanatic, who works as a payroll coordinator when he isn't on stage. “There are stories there that are designed to touch emotions more than any other genre.”

If he could, McVeigh would be up on stage, wailing hurtin' music all the time.

But he can't. In the first place, he has a wife and two kids to support. Besides, bar owners in these parts are mainly looking for bands that play vintage rock 'n' roll. So what's a diehard country warbler to do?

Well, if he's McVeigh, he reconfigures the GTA as a sort of northern annex of the Grand Ole Opry, launches an annual three-day celebration of country music, and invites some of Nashville's best to come up and play alongside a bunch of Canadian country crooners. The result is an annual music festival called Tin Pan North, whose 12th incarnation hits Toronto — and Oakville — Thursday and continuing till Saturday.

Presented by the Toronto chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International — which McVeigh coordinates — the event celebrates performance, but its primary focus is on composition.

“We'll have five No. 1 hit writers,” says McVeigh. They include Canadian Andy Kim (who topped the charts with “Rock Me Gently” and the Archies' “Sugar Sugar”) as well as American country music luminaries Frank Myers (who co-wrote the crossover No. 1 country-pop hit “I Swear,” first performed by John Michael Montgomery), Danny Wells (George Strait's “Check Yes or No,” Rascal Flatts' “These Days”) and Brett Jones (Neal McCoy's “You Gotta Love That,” Lee Ann Womack's “A Little Past Little Rock”).

Attractions will include evening concerts, presented in a format known as Nashville rounds, with four artists on stage at once, taking turns performing their songs. Saturday will feature a daylong songwriting workshop for local composers. “The focus of country music is on the lyric,” says McVeigh, who has been organizing the annual event since 1999. “Without the lyric, you don't have a story.”

And, without the story, you don't have a country song. Not that McVeigh or the other festival participants are purists about form. “Obviously, there's a lot of country in what we do,” he says, “but we celebrate all genres.”

Each year, McVeigh and other local country artists travel to Tennessee for training in songwriting, and each spring McVeigh brings a group of Nashville headliners north to Toronto. Though not widely noted as a hotbed of country music, Toronto nonetheless boasts one of the oldest and largest of the 100 or so North American chapters of the Nashville Songwriters Association.

“We're definitely in the top 10,” says McVeigh. “We're the pioneers in this. We started out at the grassroots and just kept growing and growing.”

For more information about the Nashville Songwriters Association and this week's Toronto festival — including performance schedules and ticket purchases — visit the organization's website at nsaitoronto.com and follow the link to Tin Pan North.

Pillar Of Canadian Music Business, Ed Glinert, Dead At 63

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(May 30, 2011) Universally respected music publisher
Edmund Glinert, a 40-year veteran of the Canadian music industry, passed away in Toronto May 21 after a massive stroke. He was 63.

Glinert, founder of the independent music publishing company Casablanca Media Publishing, was an entertainment lawyer for more than 25 years, and counted among clients Ray Charles, David Letterman, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Jim Carey and Howie Mandel, as well as record companies, music publishers, artists, writers, producers, film and television corporations, and private investment groups.

“Unfortunately, the extent of the damage from his stroke was too severe to recover,” his business partner, Jennifer Mitchell, Casablanca’s vice-president, wrote in an email to colleagues and clients. “Everyone who knew Ed’s generous nature would agree that he would have wanted that.”

Established in 2004, Casablanca became one of the foremost independent music publishers in Canada, with a significant catalogue of Canadian songwriters and composers, and Canadian representation of major non-domestic catalogues such as Carlin, Bug/Windswept, Arc, Trio, 20th Century Fox and S1 (Dreamworks).

Glinert also had extensive experience as an agent and promoter. He was the co-owner of adult-contemporary leaning National Variety Promotions, which presented acts such as Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles.

Earlier in his career, Glinert owned and operated the booking agency Frederick Lewis, handling such prominent artists as Led Zeppelin, John Denver, Sly and The Family Stone, Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, Five Man Electrical Band, Kensington Market and the Guess Who.

Glinert also co-founded two children’s labels, Children’s Group and Casablanca Kids, and remained co-owner of Solid Gold Records and house label Trax.

He was an active member of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and a board member of Canada’s authors’ society SOCAN. Glinert was a regular speaker at Canadian Music Week and other industry forums.

A funeral service was held May 23.

Glinert is survived by his wife, Ethel, and two children, Stephen and Alexis.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Hackers Post Fake ‘Tupac Shakur Alive’ Story On PBS Website

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lorianna De Giorgio

(May 30, 2011) ARLINGTON, VA.–PBS officials say hackers have cracked the network's website. The hackers apparently posted a phony story claiming dead rapper
Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand. PBS confirmed early Monday morning on its official Twitter account that the website had been hacked. The phony story had been taken down as of Monday morning. It had been posted on the site of the PBS Newshour program. PBS officials did not immediately respond to phone and email messages. A tweet from the "Newshour" Twitter account said: "If you missed it: our site has been accessed by hackers. Thanks for staying with us." A group calling itself LulzSec claimed responsibility and posted links to other hacks, including a video apparently taunting the network. Taunting messages were also posted on the group's Twitter page.

SWV Back Together and Making Music

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 29, 2011) *Good music is slowly making a comeback and 90s
group SWV announced that they are here to save the day. After a 13-year break the Sisters with Voices have made an official deal with Mass Appeal Entertainment and E1 to record and release their fourth studio album. The group’s manager, Cory Taylor told Singersroom, “It’s truly an amazing feeling to work with such incredible talent.” But their comeback isn’t stopping there. The group’s very own documentary is also in the works, highlighting their success, failures, break-up, and inspiration. Look out for more information coming soon.

Waterfront Wednesdays at Palais Royale

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Sheryl Kirby

(May 30, 2011) The Wednesday night events at the Palais Royale (1601 Lakeshore Blvd. W.) have been taking place for a couple of years now during the summer, and they're hugely popular. Held on the 4000 square-foot deck overlooking Lake Ontario, each evening features food, drinks and live entertainment. This year, organizers put a bit of a twist on it, changing up the three-course prix fixe menu each week to feature the food of a different famous waterfront/beach town from around the world. This Wednesday (June 1), Chef Steffan Howard and his team offer a menu from St. Tropez. In coming weeks, watch for Mykonos (June 8), St. Lucia (June 15) and New Orleans (June 29). Cost is $40 for cover and the prix-fixe dinner, or $10 for cover without food; cash bar available. Call Palais Royale at 416-533-3553 x 22 for more information and reservations.

Fred Hammond to Release Secular Love Music; T. D. Jakes, Too

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 27, 2011) *Grammy Award winning artist
Fred Hammond is doing something unconventional! He’s decided to make a love song album. Not about God per se, but about a woman. He recently informed his fans and audience members that he is dealing with love in a whole new light, with a little jazzy twist. Speaking of love and music, T.D. Jakes will release the second instalment of the “Sacred Love Songs’ series, inspired by movie, “Jumping the Broom.” The album will be out in stores May 31 and is sure to catch a heart on fire. The music features work from R&B and Pop artists as well as a little church. Look for both projects real soon.

VIDEO: T-Pain and Chris Brown Pay Tribute To Scott Pilgrim?

Source: www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(May 26, 2011) It still might not be enough for some local people to let
go of Chris Brown's ugly Rihanna incident, but he and T-Pain have a new video that lifts the look and feel from Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Edgar Wright's Toronto-infused 2010 movie version of Bryan Lee O'Malley's comics series. The gig poster, the editing, the general esthetic ... Wright himself blogged about it and marvelled: "pretty much recreates beat for beat the sonic battle between The Katayanagi Twins and Sex Bob-Omb ... am amused and flattered by this Pilgrim riff, even if it is lacking two snow dragons and a sonic yeti."

   

Leonard Cohen Awarded Major Spanish Arts Prize

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(May 30, 2011) MADRID, Spain — Singer Leonard Cohen has won one of Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias awards for his poetic gifts and thought-provoking songs. The prize foundation said Wednesday it was awarding the Canadian its Letters prize, praising him as one of the most influential authors of modern times. The foundations said “his poems and songs explore with depth and beauty the major questions concerning humanity.” Cohen, 76, is famous for songs such as Suzanne and So Long, Marianne. The award is one of eight the foundation gives each year. They range from the arts and humanities to scientific research. The prizes are presented by Crown Prince Felipe in the northern city of Oviedo, capital of the Asturias region.

::FILM NEWS::

Sci-Fi Splice Earns Box Office Prize

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Oliveira

(May 26, 2011) The director and co-writers of
Splice, the sci-fi horror film starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, received the Golden Box Office Award on Thursday for making the highest-grossing Canadian film of 2010.

The honour comes with a cheque for $40,000, to be shared by co-writer Doug Taylor and director/co-writer Vincenzo Natali, who noted that the cash would come in handy.

“Most people wouldn’t necessarily recognize this but when you make an independent film it’s a very long process — in this case with ‘Splice’ it really took 12 years,” said Natali.

“When you amortize the salary that a director/writer makes on a film like this it doesn’t come out to much on an annual basis, so a cheque coming from the government at the end of the process — when I’m pretty much destitute — is a very welcomed thing.”

In “Splice,” Polley and Brody play hot-shot scientists who experiment with genetics and end up creating a horrific human-animal hybrid.

The film grossed $2.1 million in domestic box office sales and $26.9 million worldwide.

Natali, who burst onto the scene with his surreal 1997 feature “Cube,” thanked the Telefilm, the federally backed agency which gives out the award, and funded “Splice” to the tune of $2.5 million.

“I tried various combinations of methods of trying to get this film made and without Telefilm’s involvement it would simply have never happened,” he said, adding that Telefilm also encourages work that isn’t necessarily mainstream.

“Hopefully (I’m somebody) who’s an example of how we can create movies that are an alternative to what’s coming out of Hollywood right now, because as I’m sure we’re all aware of — especially in the summer season — it’s an increasingly corporate-driven environment where movies are manufactured with a very specific market and genetically engineered to be big successes.

“I think there is a real interest and hunger for movies that are commercial and accessible, like hopefully ‘Splice’ is, but are a little bit different and are pushing the boundaries.”

Taylor added that there was never any pressure to make the film more commercial or deviate from the artistic vision.

“We were never urged to disturb less in the name of entertaining more and I think that speaks to the courage and cinema smarts of all the stakeholders,” he said.

“We could have never written a script that so brazenly crosses so many lines had we not had Telefilm’s trust, support, and conviction, that we were all working toward something that would be bizarre and unusual and yet commercially viable.”

The inaugural Goldie award was handed last year to the director and writers of “Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day.” That film grossed $2.9 million in Canada in 2009.

Care And Feeding Of Hollywood North

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(May 27, 2011) After a decade of some “big ups and low downs,” Joe
Dinicol is feeling good about his future as an actor and Toronto as a place for a rewarding career.

The Stratford native, 27, began his career at 9 with the Stratford Festival, and has made numerous film and TV appearances, including Train 48, Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead and Paul Gross’s Passchendaele.

He recently filmed a guest spot on the CTV series Flashpoint and starred in the independent film Servitude, which shot in Toronto last November.

“Within the last year, I feel very optimistic. I think a lot of that has to do with the talent in town and there’s the new studio (Pinewood Studios Toronto), so now we can handle big projects,” said Dinicol. “And now we’re getting a lot of TV.”

Since 2003, when the global pandemic SARS struck the city, Toronto has struggled to maintain its place as a
major centre for film and television production.

As 2011 unfolds, there’s reason for optimism within the industry here, which accounts for 90 per cent of the spending in Ontario, and not just because of Total Recall, the biggest film in the city’s history, which just began production at Pinewood.

Unlike a decade ago when the city relied heavily on U.S. projects, two-thirds of 2010 production — $318.2 million out of $964.3 million — came from domestic films, TV series, commercials, music videos and animation, Ontario film commissioner Donna Zuchlinski noted.

In fact, animation accounted for more than $85 million in Toronto last year, mostly as a result of landing Gnomeo and Juliet, a film which has grossed almost $100 million since its release in February.

“That’s very healthy for the industry,” Zuchlinski said.

So while Vancouver and B.C. continue the trend started in the mid-1990s by The X-Files with U.S. series like Fringe and Supernatural, Toronto and Ontario have gladly taken a lion’s share of Canadian TV production such as Being Erica, Murdoch Mysteries and Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Toronto film commissioner Peter Finestone said the industry here is also adopting co-production on series like Flashpoint and Rookie Blue that air in both Canada and the U.S., an advantage for networks on both sides of the border that can split costs of $3 million to $4 million an episode.

Another area of potential growth is in international co-productions, which have recently seen two successes: The Tudors, which filmed in Ireland but did most of its post-production work in Toronto; and The Borgias, which filmed in Europe but used Toronto’s post-production expertise and Canadian talent like Colm Feore.

Post-production — colour correction, sound, visual effects, etc. — may not sound sexy, but they’re high-paying and highly skilled jobs, Finestone said.

Toronto boasts world-class post-production names like DeLuxe and Technicolour, he said.

“As we move more into the digital age, there will be more and more ‘green screen’ work, 3-D, 3-D animation and the spinoffs, gaming that emerges from this stuff,” Finestone added.

Edith Myers, managing director of Pinewood Toronto Studios, pointed to another advantage Toronto has besides a strong infrastructure to support film and TV production (including studio space, technical and artistic crews): its multicultural diversity.

“Toronto is an amazing place to cast a movie because we have such a depth of actors from all sorts of ethnic groups and there aren’t a lot of cities that can boast that,” Myers said.

Another ace in the city’s deck is its growing reputation as an interesting place to live, Zuchlinski said

“You wouldn’t think you’d base where you’re going to put a major picture on who has the best restaurants, but this comes into play. For a TV series, it’s really important for (cast and crew) where they have to spend three or four or five months.”

Steven Hecht, executive vice-president of Arc Productions, the producer of Gnomeo and Juliet, agreed.

“I’m always a bit dismayed that people here don’t realize what a wonderful world-class place this is,” said the native New Yorker.

“This is a very civilized, convenient, safe place to live relative to a lot of other places. There are a lot of projects that easily have gestation periods of 24 months. If you’re going to send senior production people to work at a place for months at a time, it’s got to be place where those people are happy . . . they’ve got to be able to go out for a decent meal and have decent accommodations.”

Arc Productions, which recently bought the animation component of giant Starz Media, has 200 full-time animators, 50 support staff and a 45,000-square-foot working studio.

Coming off the success of Gnomeo and Juliet, Arc is already embarking on its next major project, OZ3D, and bidding on several U.S. projects.

The city’s other advantages include post-secondary institutions that feed the industry, including Sheridan College’s world-class animation program, and programs in acting, fine arts and media studies at Seneca and Humber colleges, and York and Ryerson universities.

Another plus is the annual Toronto International Film Festival.

“It brings the pre-eminent filmmakers from around the world to Toronto once a year and, when they’re here, they’ll see what the city has to offer,” said Zuchlinski.

If there is one dark cloud for Toronto and the Canadian industry, it is the high value of the Canadian dollar since so many big-budget projects come from the U.S.

“This is not a made-in-Toronto issue. If the only thing that’s changing is the Canadian dollar, at some point we will reach a stage where somewhere else is more attractive than we are,” Finestone said.

A Video Store’s End Of Days

Source: www.thestar.com - By Geoff Pevere

(May 26, 2011) The fact that Giuseppe Anile is packing up his DVD
rental business a couple of days after Blockbuster Canada announced the closing of a third of its stores may be coincidental, but maybe not.

To quote one of the titles of a featurette included in The Wire, a home-rental phenomenon (originally broadcast to meagre numbers on HBO) that Anile considers one of his own boutique business’s blockbusters: “It’s all connected.”

For six years, Marquee Video on College St. catered to a clientele seeking the out of ordinary. It offered foreign and cult films, entire director oeuvres, specialty documentaries and generally stuff that it took some expertise to send home with hard-to-satisfy customers. But satisfying them was what Anile, a life-long cinephile, took pride in and did best. He encouraged his customers to take risks and recommendations, and he slowly built a dedicated clientele that came to trust his suggestions and come back for more.

So why, on this day, do I find Giuseppe in a store filled with boxes and semi-dismantled shelves, a “Closing Sale” sign on the front window just below the frame freezes from a vintage Akira Kurosawa movie?

“We were doing all right,” he says, after asking if I mind that he keeps packing up as we speak. “It took some time, a year or two, but we built a steady business. Then the owner decided to sell the building, and it became obvious we had to go.”

The new owner, Anile stresses, didn’t push him out. He just couldn’t wait for a decision on the fate of Marquee — whether the new owner wanted a business that rented specialty DVDs, sold ice cream and coffee, and was smartly staffed with people who knew what they were talking about.

“At a certain point, I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to announce a sale.” He looks around the store and sighs. “But it went well.”

Anile had nearly 8,000 DVDs when his sign went up, and now he’s down to less than 3,000. Some of his stock was sold to institutions like York University, the rest snapped up by people who came in off the street. The bargains were terrific for those who understood what they were getting, and a lot of what they were getting was already out of print.

“Blockbuster is going under because it’s a bad business model,” Anile explains, “and not because people don’t want to watch DVD any more. Especially the kind I rented. There’s a real market out there for this kind of stuff, maybe now more than ever.”

Anile cites enterprises like The Film Buff and Bay Street Video as thriving examples of what he calls “smartly curated” stores, and titles such as Carlos the Jackal as the kind of movie that keeps them thriving.

“These days, where else are you going to see something like that? As long as there are people who want to see that kind of stuff, I think this kind of store has a place.”

Anile was an early adaptor to the new retail and real-estate phenomenon sweeping this stretch of College west of Little Italy, and his business — which opened in a space previously occupied by a plumbing and kitchen supply store — catered to a community increasingly given over to young people who were working at home, having kids, hanging out on the street and looking for a little spice in their amusement diet. They took home things you wouldn’t even find in Blockbuster, and they came back for more.

For a time, Anile looked into the feasibility of moving his business somewhere else in the neighbourhood, but he can no longer afford it. A new place in the same area would have cost too much and, as he puts it, “opening somewhere too far from here was just like starting all over again.”

So he put up the sign.

Still, he’s hardly gloomy. He’s pretty confident he’ll find something else to do — “I’ll rest for as long as I can, maybe a week” — and he’s even more confident that there’s an appetite for the kind of service Marquee provided.

“This is the only place to see a lot of this stuff,” he says. “The big chains didn’t carry it, Netflix doesn’t have it, and there aren’t any repertory cinemas around any more that show this kind of stuff. A lot of it is now out of print, and it’s not going to be released on Blu-ray any time soon, if ever. You can’t download a lot of it, or if you do it’s not nearly the quality of the DVDs. That’s why I think the boutique rental businesses will be okay.”

They’ve got something no one else does, and they sell it in a way — with the same passion and expertise their customers have — no one else can.

There is an upside, but it isn’t very steep. “It looks like I’ll be going home with a pretty cool DVD collection,” he points out. “If I can only find somewhere to put it.”

Despite The Hype, Some Meaningful Film Business Gets Done In Cannes

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Liam Lacey

(May 20, 2011) The world was born in Terrence Malick's Tree of Life,
and came to an end in Lars von Trier's Melancholia. But you can be sure of one thing: The spin never stopped.

The astronomical odds of having two feature films linking family crises to cosmic events is, in many ways, typical of
Cannes, where coincidences and echoes abound. With 20 films in competition, satellite sidebars and a festival market, this is a cacophonous, 12-day world cinema conversation. And with the greatest concentration of media of any event outside of the Olympics, Cannes is also the CERN accelerator of hype.

The most prominent example followed a couple of vociferous boos that were heard at the end of the press screening of Tree of Life. They triggered an instant cloud of Twitter comments which an hour later had formed into a news consensus: divides critics.

Then there was the von Trier Nazi embarrassment. Few people here believe that Lars von Trier is any more a Nazi sympathizer than members of the British Royal Family (although the ridiculous documentary Unlawful Killing suggested they might be). But the Danish filmmaker's run-at-the-mouth press conference assured him headlines. Google the words "Trier" and "Nazi," and you'll see results in the millions.

Moving from publicity to more personal meaning, Cannes films this year were often about crises in parenting. The directors of three films - Sleeping Beauty, Le Havre, The Kid with a Bike - described their stories as fairy tales of imperilled innocence. Bad guardians were everywhere, from the deluded American parents of We Need to Talk About Kevin to the deadbeat Belgian father of The Kid with a Bike to the predatory pedophile in the Austrian entry Michael.

Some people talked about the kids, others talked about money. The business conversation, taking place in hotel rooms and on BlackBerrys around the marketplace, was hopeful but cautious: "Cannes is back, on a budget."

The feeling is that the economic pendulum may be swinging in the right direction. This year, Cannes reported a 10-per-cent boost to attendance. Walking through the rows of market stalls in the Palais, you could see busy traffic in horror and martial-arts films, which translate easily across languages. As well, the 3-D format is here to stay, as smaller Asian markets pump out their animated answers to Shrek and Rio. Unfortunately, the festival's first official foray into the third dimension, Hari-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, was a flat affair on every level.

Another technical innovation, the digital cinema, has cut distribution costs in recent years, especially in Europe (movies can be downloaded to theatres, rather than shipped as physical prints). This should free up money for more films. But if James Cameron and Peter Jackson are talking about blockbusters at accelerated frames-per-second, it's not considered a game-changer elsewhere.

And video-on-demand - a big deal in North America, where it's hoped to generate revenue to mitigate declines in DVD sales - hasn't cut a swath in other territories. According to Charlotte Mickie, who handles international sales and a acquisitions for E1 Films, North America's couch potato-ism is not a universal trend: In Europe, people like to go out to watch movies. "It's considered part of civil society," she says.

China, meanwhile, is undergoing a cinema boom and is Hollywood's fastest growing new market. Judging by the enthusiastic reaction to movies like the detective martial-arts flick Wu Xia (Dragon), which played out of competition, Pirates of the Caribbean may soon be battling for box-office supremacy with the Gangsters of Xixia.

Cannes, of course, is really about that special beast known as the art-house film. But while recent examples such as The Black Swan and The King's Speech showed there's still a big audience for such movies, the modern quality movie is still a risky bet. "There are more medium-range bombs than higher-budget bombs," one Italian sales agent recently told Variety.

That's where Cannes comes in. Movie-making remains a famously changeable business, and, as Mickie points out, there never was golden age for non-star-driven movies with a modest budget. The one certainty in an uncertain world, though, is that Cannes delivers a bump for films that otherwise might never find an audience. So a challenging work like Sleeping Beauty, the first-time Australian director Julia Leigh's erotic feminist thriller, is headed for theatres from Sydney to Toronto to Amsterdam.

"If it's in Cannes competition," says Mickie, "it automatically generates interest around the world."

In many cases, she says, films are bought sight unseen for different territories, simply on the basis of having been invited to the festival. Though the petty controversies of Cannes can feel like they're restricted to a strange world all their own, what happens here in this Mediterranean town for a couple of weeks each year ends up screens around the planet.

Naomie Harris: 'I Think We All Have Many Other Sides'

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Johanna Schneller

(May 27, 2011) In a season of CGI-clogged blockbusters whose goal is to look as otherworldly as possible (see Thor, The Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class, the final Harry Potter, et al), the new drama The First Grader goes to the opposite extreme. It's as far from a green screen and as down-to-the-dirt as a fiction film can get. Not only because it's based on the true story of Kimani Maruge, a Kenyan who became a symbol of his country's free education policy when he entered grade school at age 84. And not only because it was shot on location in the Rift Valley, in a real school, with real students. But also because the students didn't realize they were making a movie.

"We have a show in England called Pass Yourself Off," said
Naomie Harris, the London-born actress who plays Jane Obinchu, Maruge's real-life teacher, during an interview in Toronto last week. Stunningly beautiful, with a musical British accent, she snuggled on the sofa using her hotel room robe as a blanket. "So for example, if you want to be a rapper, you'll be trained for a couple of weeks, and then you have to pass yourself off against real rappers, and people guess who's the fake. This movie was just like that."

The First Grader's director, Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl), sold Harris by saying, "There are only going to be nine of us from England. We're going to work and live together in the community" . Armed only with a Kenyan accent and some Swahili phrases, she was introduced to her class - 80 students ranging in age from five to 21 - as their new teacher, Teacher Jane, and taught them, solo, every day for two weeks before the camera came in.

"My stepdad is a teacher, so I'd Skype him in the evenings for lesson plans," Harris said. "And cry, because it was so scary. There was no script, it was just me improvising every day." She met the real Jane Obinchu, whom she found "strong and intimidating," and who complimented her teaching skills. "I was really touched by that," Harris said. "But the main Swahili phrase I'd learned - 'Be quiet' - I really did not need, because the children were so obedient. They revere teachers, so my challenge was to bring them out of their shells."

When the 36-day shoot commenced, the students were told it was just "fun games," Harris said. "It's a really poor rural community, and they'd never seen films or TV before. Certainly they'd never seen a camera in their school. So they weren't interested in it at all, even when it was right here, getting those great close-ups. It was all played for real, and chronologically. 'We're going to play a game now where we hide on the floor. Pretend to be scared.' That's why their reactions are so real, so spontaneous. But we'd get only one or two goes at things, because they'd get bored."

There were no trailers on set. The cast and crew toilet was a hole in the ground surrounded by corrugated iron. They bathed in plastic buckets. Anyone who wanted to nap between shots did so on the classroom floor, alongside the little ones. And they spent their nights surrounded by baboons, snakes and warthogs at the Masai Lodge near Nairobi's national park. "We were living in these little huts," Harris said, "and one day the driver rang our guide and said, 'Don't come out of your hut just now, because there is a leopard on your roof.'"

The adventure and verisimilitude were precisely why Harris, 34, signed on. From age nine , she knew she wanted to be an actor. "I've never wanted to do anything else, and I've never done anything else," she said. Of the 23 people who graduated in her class at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, "only two of us are still in the business, able to make a living at it. I feel so privileged.

"What I love about acting is the development of the self," Harris continued. "I studied social and political science at [Cambridge] university, but I specialized in psychology. For me it was all about, what forms the individual? What makes a person tick? In life you usually only play one role; you're Shy Sara, and that's it. But I think we all have many other sides. What's great about acting is, you get to air out all those sides."

Her first roles were on British television, including the lead in the miniseries White Teeth, based on the Zadie Smith novel. Then Danny Boyle cast her in 28 Days Later (2002), followed by small but significant gigs in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story(opposite Steve Coogan) and Miami Vice. She auditioned for her most visible role to date, the voodoo priestess Tia Dalma in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films, without having seen the first Pirates, so she didn't realize how huge the franchise was. "It was only after I'd filmed it, going on junkets and to the premiere, that I was like, 'Oh, this is really big,'" she said. "It took me a long time to cotton on."

She's not tempted to move to Los Angeles, or to make herself any more visible. "I put myself on tape and send it over to the United States, and I get cast that way. I have the kind of career that I want to be having," she said. "I love to do big Hollywood stuff, which pays the bills, and then I love to do passion projects like this, where you know it's a beautiful movie with a beautiful message, and you get to be creative."

She recently worked again with Boyle, in the National Theatre stage production of Frankenstein. She lives on the same London street as her family (mother, stepfather, brother, sister), and sees them every day. She wants to preserve her anonymity ("I never talk about my personal life"), her autonomy ("I like being able to jump on and off the Tube"), and her humility. "I would hate to come into a room and have people change their behaviour, or have preconceived ideas about who I am."

That's why disappearing into Kenya was so appealing. Saying goodbye to the kids, however, was hard. On the last day of filming, the production company threw the students a party, complete with ice cream and a bouncy castle, and "left them joyfully," Harris said. They filmed their final scene a few kilometres down the road. Afterward, they drove by the school.

"What we didn't realize was, the children had stayed after school to wait for us," Harris said. "They stood by the gate and sang us a farewell song, and danced. That was it, we were all sobbing." But happily, because the tears were real.

The Boys Inside The X-Men

Source: www.thestar.com - By Gregory Katz

(May 30, 2011) LONDON—They are a merry band of mutants, at least
when the director is away and the hard work is done.

They’ve been given a task — concoct a “prequel” that will satisfy longtime fans of the
X-Men series and bring in new moviegoers as well — and, with global release just a few days away, they think they’ve nailed it.

Much of the cast gathered in London recently to boast about the film — tastefully of course — at a round-table discussion that focused on the challenge of creating a credible early life for comic strip characters already portrayed successfully in four films by such masters as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, venerable English actors who carry the title “Sir” in front of their names.

This time, it’s a much younger cast playing the mutants in their formative years, when they were still discovering and honing the special powers that set them apart from what they view as the rather drab human race. As a result, X-Men: First Class is filled with soul-searching identity crises as the mutants wrestle with a central dilemma: To downplay their differences in order to be accepted by humanity, or to celebrate what makes them unique, humanity be damned.

In the movie that opens Friday, instead of McKellen and Stewart in the key mutant roles of Magneto and Professor X, it’s Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, starting off as allies but ending up as bitter foes. The closest thing the cast has to eminence is Hollywood veteran Kevin Bacon, who plays evil mutant Sebastian Shaw with villainous glee.

Fassbender, a talented actor of German and Irish descent, said he did not feel hemmed in by earlier portrayals of Magneto, even if his approach doesn’t appeal to fans of the earlier movies, which turned the old Marvel comic into a lucrative international film franchise that started with X-Men in 2000.

“I think we all realize there’s a massive fan base out there and we definitely want them to like it,” said Fassbender, seen in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. “They are the first sort of go-to audience, but there has to be a certain amount of disrespect for them as well, because you’re trying to do something new. You’re trying to make decisions that you think are justifiable and you have to forget about that or you can end up not making any bold choices. And I think we all made bold choices and took risks.”

McAvoy, his voice still carrying a heavy hint of his native Scotland, said that means the new cast is to blame if the movie bombs — a fate that would sink plans for two additional X-Men prequels and a chance for the franchise to continue a few more years at least.

“It is intimidating because the four films made a lot of money, so clearly people like the characters enough to go and see them,” said McAvoy, who starred in The Last King of Scotland and Atonement. “If it doesn’t work, we take full blame.”

He said his approach to Professor X was to show how different the character was as a very young man just discovering the range of his phenomenal telepathic powers. Director Matthew Vaughn had made it clear at the start of filming that he did not want McAvoy and Fassbender to simply portray younger versions of Stewart and McKellen.

Vaughn’s approach meant developing an inner life and a back story for the characters, and playing them in the turmoil of youth, when their personalities are still being forged.

Fine, but isn’t it a bit absurd working out a complex inner life for comic strip characters? A case of overkill in the motivation department?

No way, said Bacon, who handled Sebastian Shaw’s sociopathic tendencies with care.

“You can never have too much back story,” he said. “For me at least, if there’s no back story in the movie then you look for some kind of source material, and if there’s no source material, you make it up. You sit there and you write it: ‘I was born in this town and this is what my daddy did, and here’s my playlist of songs I like to listen to.’ For me, that’s what it’s gotta be.”

The film takes place in the 1960s — the height of the original Marvel comic’s era — and gives Bacon’s character a key role in a highly fictionalized version of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The plot device gives the director a chance to use actual footage of President Kennedy and Soviet hothead Nikita Khrushchev, remembered for banging his shoe on a table during a spirited United Nations debate.

The ’60s setting is exploited by the set and costume designers — the cleavage-boosting outfits worn by January Jones as Emma Frost are the most obvious examples — but they also provide a wistful quality to the mutants as they search for themselves.

“A lot of the characters are more innocent,” said McAvoy. “Certainly my character is much more innocent, he’s not tainted.”

The youthful rebellion of that era is mirrored to some degree by the mutants, who can’t decide whether to trust or obliterate the humans who seek their help.

Fassbender said the fans identify with the mutants’ struggle for identity and respect. The new film shows how the young mutants find one another — and bond out of deep relief that they are not alone.

“It gives them hope to find other people are experiencing the same thing as they are,” he said. “You know, it’s a horrible feeling to think, oh my God, I’m on my own. I’m going through this by myself. But no, there are actually other people going through the same thing.”

He said the genetic mutations are “the handicap that can actually become a special quality.”

McAvoy’s take is that the mutants all have terrible lives, full of angst and rage, but also find they are terribly special because of their secret abilities.

“That’s the thing about every mutant, isn’t it?” he said.

Jeff Conaway, Who Starred In ‘Taxi’ And ‘Grease,’ Dies At 60

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(May 20, 2011) LOS ANGELES — Jeff Conaway, who starred in the sitcom Taxi, played swaggering Kenickie in the movie musical Grease and publicly battled drug and alcohol addiction on Celebrity Rehab, died Monday. He was 60.

The actor was taken off life support Thursday and died Friday morning at Encino Tarzana Medical Center, according to one of his managers, Kathryn Boole. He was taken there unconscious on May 11 and placed in a medically induced coma,

Conaway had been treating himself with pain pills and cold medicine while in weakened health, said Phil Brock, her business partner.

Family members, including his sisters, nieces and nephews and his minister, were with him when he died, Boole said.

“It's sad that people remember his struggle with drugs ... he has touched so many people,” she said, calling Conaway a kind and intelligent man who was well-read and “always so interesting to talk to. We respected him as an artist and loved him as a friend.”

“He was trying so hard to get clean and sober,” Boole added. “If it hadn't been for his back pain, I think he would have been able to do it.”

“He's a gentle soul with a good heart ... but he's never been able to exorcise his demons,” Brock said after Conaway was hospitalized.

The actor had acknowledged his addictive tendencies in a 1985 interview with The Associated Press, when he described turning his back on the dream of a pop music career. He'd played guitar in a 1960s band called 3 1/2 that was the opening act for groups including Herman's Hermits, the Young Rascals and the Animals.

“I thought, ‘If I stay in this business, I'll be dead in a year.’ There were drugs all over the place and people were doing them. I had started to do them. I realized that I'd die,” Conaway told the AP.

His effort to avoid addiction failed, and his battles with cocaine and other substances were painfully shared on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, the VH1 series with TV and radio personality Dr. Drew Pinsky. Conaway, who'd had back surgery, blamed his cocaine use and pain pill abuse in part on lingering pain.

Conaway was born in New York City on Oct. 5, 1950, to parents who were in show business. His father was an actor, producer and agent and his mother was an actress.

He made his Broadway debut in 1960 at the age of 10 in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama All the Way Home. By then his parents were divorced, and Conaway had spent a great deal of time with his grandparents who lived in the Astoria section of Queens.

“I used to hold in a lot of feelings. I'd smile a lot but I was really miserable. I didn't know it at the time, but I've figured it out since. When I was on stage, I could make people laugh,” he said in 1985.

He toured in the national company of the comedy Critic's Choice, then attended a professional high school for young actors, musicians and singers. After abandoning music he returned to acting with a two-year stint in Grease, on Broadway (playing the lead role of Danny Zuko at one point) and eventually with the touring company.

The musical about high-school love brought Conaway to Los Angeles and television, including a small part on “Happy Days” that led to larger roles. He had roles in small films and then in the movie version of “Grease” (1978), although he lost the top-billed part to John Travolta.

In 1978, he won the Taxi job that put him in the company of Judd Hirsch, Danny de Vito and Andy Kaufman in what proved to be a hit for ABC.

The tall, gangly actor, with a shock of blond hair and what the late long-time AP drama critic Michael Kuchwara called a “wide-angle smile” and “a television face, just right for popular consumption,” appeared a success.

But Conaway, who received two Golden Globe nominations for Taxi, said he tired early of being a series regular, although he stayed with the series for three years, until 1981 (Taxi ended in 1983 after moving to NBC the year before).

“I got very depressed. Hollywood can be a terrible place when you're depressed. The pits. I decided I had to change my life and do different things,” he said.

His movie career failed to ignite, however, and Conaway shifted back to TV with the short-lived 1983 fantasy series Wizards and Warriors, and the 1985 flop Berrengers, a drama set in a New York department store. He made a bid to return to Broadway in The News, but the rock musical about tabloid journalism closed within days.

A 1994-98 stint in the sci-fi TV series Babylon 5 as security chief Zack Allan proved successful, but it was followed by only scattered roles on stage, in films and TV shows. He was in the reality series Celebrity Fit Club in 2006 and then in Celebrity Rehab, in which the frail Conaway used a wheelchair and blacked out on camera.

A fall in 2010 caused a broken hip and other injuries that left him in more precarious health.

Conaway told the Los Angeles Times in a January 2011 article that series producers asked him to “give them drama.” But he also said he welcomed the support he received from those who viewed his struggle.

“I got a lot of love from people, and when people stop me on the street and say, ‘Man, your story touched me so much,’ it just makes all this pain worthwhile, you know?” he said. “I don't know where actors go after they die, but I know people who help other people have a nice place to go. And I would like to go there if I can.”

Conaway was wed twice, first to Kerri Young and then to Rona Newton-John, sister of pop star Olivia Newton-John. Both marriages ended in divorce.

Canucks Must Join Movie War: NATO Chief

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Peter Howell

(June 01, 2011) Canadian theatre owners must band with their U.S. brethren to save the movie industry by opposing early video on demand (VOD), NATO chief John Fithian says.

(The U.S.-based NATO stands for the National Association of Theatre Owners, representing theatres in 51 countries worldwide.)

In a keynote speech Wednesday in Ottawa at ShowCanada, the annual industry gathering,  NATO President and CEO Fithian said Canadians must fight the stateside introduction of "premium VOD," a plan by four Hollywood studios to shorten the period between a film's theatrical and home releases.

"Early VOD releases to the home could damage the movie industry in two significant ways," Fithian said, according to a reported posted on Deadline.com.

"Early releases will reduce movie ticket sales, and will exacerbate movie theft by giving pirates an early pristine copy of movies."

Fithian plans to tour the world to get exhibitors everywhere to fight early VOD, one version of which would have Hollywood movies available as early as two months after its theatrical debut, at a cost of $30 for a 48-hour rental.

"We hope that this early VOD experiment begins and ends in the U.S.," Fithian said. "But if not, we want exhibitors everywhere to be prepared."

How quickly Canucks take up Fithian's call to action, if at all, remains to be seen.

Premium VOD isn’t an issue that immediately affects Canadians, Cineplex’s Pat Marshall told The Star recently, because the service isn’t available here yet: “I think it’s just too early to speculate at this point.”

FILM TIDBITS

Happy Feet 2: Sexy, Make That Sassy, Penguins

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Linda Barnard

(May 30, 2011) Those adorable little critters with the big voices are
back for another hot time on the ice in Happy Feet 2. But what's this in the brand new teaser trailer for the flick, due out Nov. 18 (and yes, it's in 3D)? The chorus of lady penguins pick up a funky beat for Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" the lyric is a bit different for a G-rated audience. These gals are bringing sassy back and urging "Get your flappy on." "Those other penguins don't know how to act," they trill. Guess they have to go with the floe when the original words telegraph steamy intentions not suitable for the small-fry fans of the sweet and fluffy singing and dancing flightless birds.

   

Robert Pattinson In Toronto: Starts Shooting New Cronenberg Movie

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Linda Barnard

(May 27, 2011) Start the
Robert Pattinson-spotting alerts. The Twilight star is in town for David Cronenberg’s new “contemporary thriller” Cosmopolis, which has started shooting in Toronto (standing in for Manhattan) this week. The movie wraps in mid-July. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a young hotshot asset manager on a 24-hour odyssey through New York City streets, trying to outrun a looming financial disaster from the elegant confines of his stretch limo. Being stuck in his car doesn’t stop Eric from doing business, much of it risky, as he gambles with his clients’ fortunes. Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric and Jay Baruchel also star. Cosmopolis is due out in 2012.

::TV NEWS::\

Global Goes Big With Friday-Night Comedy

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle MacDonald

(May 26, 2011)
Global did very little tinkering to its prime-time line-up for this fall, choosing instead to leave its Monday-to-Thursday schedule more or less intact, but opting to radically revamp Friday night with a 50/50 mix of new comedies and dramas.

At a glitzy presentation to ad buyers in Toronto on Tuesday, Barbara Williams, senior vice-president of content at Shaw Media-owned Global, said "one of the great delights of our schedule was that we had so few holes to fill.

"We went to L.A. to find the 'It' show, and I think we secured that," Williams said, referring to her acquisition of the buzzed-about drama Prime Suspect, from director Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom).

"Friday's an opportunity. It's a place to play a little, to try new things. To see if you can keep Friday night an important night of TV, because we want it to be."

Kicking off Friday at 8 p.m. is Jonathan Demme's one-hour drama A Gifted Man. It follows a surgeon (Watchmen's Patrick Wilson) whose ex-wife counsels him from the afterlife. On its heels are two new sitcoms: I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran are best friends struggling to raise teenage daughters), and Happily Divorced, starring Fran Drescher.

The comedies lead into Sarah Michelle Gellar's comeback drama, The Ringer, which Williams is banking will attract the Buffy the Vampire Slayer demo of females aged 26 to 54. (In Ringers, Gellar plays a woman who takes over her estranged twin's identity in order to avoid jail).

"Comedy was one of the big stories down in Los Angeles [at the network upfronts]," adds Williams. "We've always been in comedy at Global. And we've bought more for that line-up: Napoleon Dynamite, coming midseason, and Allan Gregory kicking off this fall. And a personal favourite is [another midseason add-on] Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea." The latter is inspired by talk-show host Chelsea Handler's best-selling memoir, and starring Laura Prepon from That '70s Show.

Advertising buyer Sunni Boot agrees "there's a return to comedy" in the network's prime-time slates. "With comedy there's more opportunity to get a hit, and I think the viewing mood is lifting up. There also seems to be a trend afoot to go back to the tried and true, with much-talked-about remakes like the hit British crime drama, Prime Suspect."

The North American version of Prime Suspect, which landed the coveted 10 p.m. Thursday time slot, features Mario Bello (A History of Violence) as a butt-kicking New York cop. "She's a wonderful character who we think will really resonate with our viewers."

The only addition to Tuesday nights is the third season of NBC's Parenthood, coming over from CITY-TV, in simulcast at 10 p.m. Global also picked up the second season of NBC's Harry's Law, with criminal-defence lawyer Kathy Bates, for Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. The other new sitcom is How to Be a Gentleman, starring David Hornsby as an etiquette columnist, on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

In total, Global added 10 shows to its 2011-2012 fall schedule. And Dennis Dinga, vice-president of broadcast investments at Universal McCann Canada, said Global's strategy of mixing laughers with thriller procedurals will keep Global a solid number two in the ratings chase, behind industry leader CTV. "I think Thursday will be an improvement for them, with the other days of the week a wash, if you compare one year to the next. But Global has a pretty solid schedule, enough to likely steal one more top-10 or top-20 TV show spot."

Earlier this week, Rogers Media-owned CITY-TV unveiled a beefed-up programming slate that took direct aim at cross-town rival CTV. The two players also announced they will duke it out in all-news networks, with CITY-TV announcing it will launch a new specialty CityNews Channel to compete with CTV owner Bell Media's CP24. Not to be outdone, Bell Media retaliated Monday by saying it will rebrand its A Channel stations as CTV Two, to go after CITY-TV.

Given the fast-changing playing field, Boot noted yesterday that it's an "extremely exciting, interesting" time in TV land, with CBC also making steady gains on its private-sector rivals.

Still, Dinga doesn't see a "landslide of eyeballs suddenly going away from CTV" to Global or CITY-TV. CTV will retain the number one spot, he predicted, with Global number two, and the public broadcaster and CITY-TV jostling for positions three and four.

Yesterday, Global also unveiled a beefed-up Canadian production slate of 15 scripted dramas, currently in production, or about to air. The list includes this fall's reality show Recipe to Riches, which will run Saturday at 8 p.m. Canadian-made drama Rookie Blue is coming back this summer, along with the new Combat Hospital. Both are simulcast on Global and ABC.

It will also debut The Firm (with NBC) midseason 2012. Based on John Grisham's best-selling novel, the 22-episode series, to be shot in Toronto, will debut in tandem on Global and NBC.

Halle Berry Makes Move Back to TV

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 1, 2011) *Halle Berry is making her way back to the small screen again, reportedly set to star in a drama that is being shopped around to network execs at HBO and Showtime and other cable outlets.

According to Deadline.com, DreamWorks TV’s ‘Higher Learning’ is being pitched to several pay cable networks. With specific details about the project being kept under wraps, the one certainty has Berry playing a college professor in the made-for-television movie.

Appearing on the small screen is nothing new for Berry. Berry started off doing small and bit roles on television shows such as ‘Who’s the Boss?’ and ‘Living Dolls,’ in the late ’80s.Those roles were basic platforms that helped launched Berry’s movie career. Berry’s movie career took off after being noticed in

“A Different World’ and ‘Knots Landing.”

 Berry came to prominence with starring and roles in “Strictly Business,” “Jungle Fever,” and the TV miniseries “Queen.”
Although Berry’s now most famous for her movie roles, she dips back into TV every now and then, with roles in critically acclaimed TV movies ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ and HBO’s ‘Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,’ for which she won both a Best Actress Emmy and Golden Globe in 2000. However, ‘Higher Learning’ would be her first venture into a TV series in more than 10 years.

By heading back to TV, Berry joins fellow Oscar-winners Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Holly Hunt and Judi Dench who have all picked up some meaty roles in recent years.

Stars and the City

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lorianna De Giorgio

(May 30, 2011) Before the advertisers were herded into the Canon
Theatre Monday afternoon, the press had an en masse sit-down with four of the stars of the upcoming Citytv season: Modern Family’s young Rico Rodriguez, newcomer Beth Behrs of the new 2 Broke Girls, and two familiar Canadian exports, Elisha Cuthbert and Henry Czerny, respectively of Happy Endings and Revenge.

Cuthbert is back for a second season of the returning rom-com Happy Endings, a definite change of pace from her harrowing adventures as the daughter-in-distress on 24.

“I love it,” she gushes of the switch to comedy. “It’s great. It’s thrilling. It’s exciting to be part of something different. And scary, all at the same time. But this is exactly why I wanted to do comedy, to kind of change it up and do something different.

“I hope next season I’ll get to do a little bit more.”

Toronto-born Czerny, too, finds himself in unfamiliar territory, moving from movies (Clear and Present Danger, Mission: Impossible, A-Team) into weekly series TV with Revenge.

Co-starring with yet another expat, Emily Van Camp, Czerny plays hedge-fund manager Conrad Grayson, one of the wealthier and most successful denizens of a fractious Hamptons community.

“Some of the things he did to make that money are coming back to nibble away at his family,” the actor explains.

Aside from his arc as the Duke of Norfolk on The Tudors, this is Czerny’s first series. One of the main attractions, he says, was the chance to work again with director Phillip Noyce.

“I worked with him on Clear and Present Danger, a very different environment: Feature film, lots of money, time to get it right, big screen, lots of detail ... and Phillip tries to get all that detail on a television schedule. Which is close to impossible. But he still tries. I called him ‘the benevolent steamroller.’

“He’d summered in the Hamptons, he knew these people ... he wanted to make sure that the characters that we were starting off with, right from the get-go, had the layers that we could then start to peel off as the series developed.”

Monday Q&A: Fred Ewanuick On Taking The Mayor's Chair

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(May 29, 2011) Life in small-town Canada agrees with Fred Ewanuick. The native of Port Moody, B.C., was a natural to play the lead on Dan for Mayor, back for a second season later this week.

Ewanuick came to the role straight from Corner Gas, in which he played Brent Butt's best friend Hank. On either show, Ewanuick was an immensely likeable character - the sort of guy one might hope to find in any tiny Canadian burg. Although he was "asked to leave" his college theatre program, Ewanuick honed his craft by studying with Vancouver acting coach Shea Hampton. He made his small-screen debut - as a gnome - on The New Addams Family in 1998 and followed with guest turns on such filmed-in-Vancouver series as Cold Squad, Da Vinci's Inquest and Monk. Corner Gas arrived in 2004 and lasted six seasons.

On Dan for Mayor, Ewanuick shines as a bartender who decides to run for mayor of fictional Wessex, Ont., and actually wins the election at the end of the first season. He spoke to us from Vancouver last week.

That entire first season was Dan's election campaign. Will it become a different show now that he has the job?

I think of the first season as being one big, long pilot broken up into 13 parts. The second season isn't going to focus on "Here's this dumb guy doing mayor things." It's more about Dan trying to be a good mayor. That leads to more comedy and more of a traditional sitcom setup.

Does Dan have something to prove?

Yeah, to himself and to his friends and everybody else. Instead of giving up and being this slacker mayor everyone expects him to be, he wants to do a good job and make something out of it. Of course, he's naive and in over his head half the time.

How do you make Dan different from Hank on Corner Gas?

There's already distance between the two characters. It's not on my mind when we're shooting. I was just concentrating on being Dan as best I could. But there was a thing I used to do, the eyebrow raise, that worked really well for Hank. It doesn't really work with Dan.

What type of roles are you drawn to?

I've always loved honest characters. That's why I love Dan and that's what I liked about Hank on Corner Gas. In Dan's case, he actually has some brains. He gets into situations, but then he's quite determined to make the best of it. Part of it is ego - he doesn't want to look like an idiot - but he also really wants to fix the problem.

What can you tell us about the upcoming Canadian feature French Immersion?

The movie was directed by Kevin Tierney, who produced Bon Cop, Bad Cop. We shot it in this town called Saint-Césaire, just outside Montreal, and it was a blast. I play this postal guy from Alberta. He's one of a group of Anglos who have gone to this small town to learn French for various reasons. It's just a whole bunch of French people and English people trying to get along.

Do you have moments when it seems unreal to be starring in your own TV show?

Every day! It still blows my mind that people pay me to act like an idiot. I mean, I got scolded in school for doing what I'm doing now.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Dan for Mayor returns June 5 on CTV.

Newly Divorced Garcelle Beauvais on her Return to TV

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 31, 2011) *With the drama of her divorce in the rear view
mirror, Garcelle Beauvais is back in the driver’s seat with a return to series television tomorrow night in TNT’s “Franklin & Bash.”

One network exec describes the show as a “funny legal procedural” starring Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as lifelong friends and “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lawyers who are recruited to work at a button-down law firm and shake things up a bit.”

Beauvais plays Hanna Linden, a veteran member and star of the firm. She brings in the most billable hours and does not hesitate to use her hotness to her advantage. The Haitian-born actress says she fell in love with the character as soon as she read the script.

“I thought, you know, she sort of takes no prisoners and doesn’t apologize for who she is,” she told us in January during a press conference with the actors. “And I think it’s great that what I like about her is that she can be strong and still be sexy, and I think one doesn’t sort of negate the other.”

The last time Beauvais was in the headlines, it was in April 2010 for exposing her second husband Mike Nilon’s alleged five-year extramarital affair through a blast e-mail at his place of business – contents of which were leaked to the New York Post, and then, to the world.

She filed for divorce from Nilon, an agent at Creative Artists Agency, on May 10 of last year following 10 years of marriage. The split was just finalized in April and she is now moving forward with their 3-year-old twin sons Jax Joseph and Jaid Thomas, and her eldest son Oliver, born in 1991, with first husband, producer Daniel Saunders.

 “Franklin & Bash,” which reunites Beauvais with her “NYPD Blue” co-star Gosselaar, looks to be the perfect vehicle to help put the drama of the past year behind her.

“It’s just really fun. It’s a really fun character, and I love that the show is light,” says the actress, 44. “And I’ve worked with Mark-Paul before, and it was always very serious on ‘NYPD Blue,’ so it’s nice that we get to sort of goof off and, yeah, it’s nice to be sort of like the sane person in this.”

“Franklin & Bash” premieres Wednesday, June 1, at 9 p.m. on TNT.

Below:  A trailer for the show and Beauvais discussing her drama-filled divorce on “The Talk.”

Ratings For Idol Finale Rise

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(May 26, 2011)
American Idol delivered a final brush-off to the sceptics on Wednesday night: its season finale had a whopping 21 per cent more viewers than the year before.

Not bad for a show that many observers expected to wither on the vine without its most popular judge, Simon Cowell.

Wednesday’s two-hour finale, which saw 17-year-old
Scotty McCreery crowned as the new Idol, drew 29.3 million total viewers in the U.S., according to early figures.

In Canada, 3.4 million watched on CTV, up 17 per cent from last year. CTV said the show was No. 1 with the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

In the U.S., the Fox network estimated its 18-49 audience rose 12 per cent compared to last year, the first time in five years that Idol upped its young viewers for the finale.

That’s not such a surprise considering that it was the youngest finale matchup in the show’s history, with country singer McCreery, of Garner, N.C., up against fellow southerner Lauren Alaina, a 16-year-old from Rossville, Ga.

McCreery had been tipped to win for weeks and was a particular favourite of the young girls who are thought to do much of the voting.

But he told reporters on Thursday that he never thought he had the contest in the bag.

“I mean this week especially, Lauren Alaina, she’s something. She sings like a bird and she’s just an amazing young lady. . . . Every week I’ve heard people say the front-runner stuff and the favourite, but to me it never even crossed my mind like that because everybody this year from the top 40 down was just so talented,” McCreery said.

As if winning wasn’t enough, McCreery had some more good news on Thursday: his new single, “I Love You This Big,” had hit No. 1 on iTunes.

“That is amazing. That is wild. I mean I love the song, the song is just, it’s a great song to start off with. When they pitched it to me I fell in love with it,” McCreery said.

Alaina’s new single, “Like My Mother Does,” was reported at No. 3 on the chart.

McCreery said he recorded one other song this week, which he declined to name, and would be looking for more good songs for his first album.

“The fans have got me where I am right now, but now I have to get out the music they want to hear.”

Some critics had complained that McCreery, notable for his deep country baritone, was bland and didn’t take risks on the show.

The teen said that everybody had a niche on Idol, whether it was Casey Abrams’ jazzy rock, Jacob Lusk’s gospel or James Durbin’s hard rock.

“Country music for me is what I grew up with. It’s what I do. I didn’t have any intentions of changing.”

With files from Star wire services

Ratings For Idol Finale Rise

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(May 26, 2011)
American Idol delivered a final brush-off to the sceptics on Wednesday night: its season finale had a whopping 21 per cent more viewers than the year before.

Not bad for a show that many observers expected to wither on the vine without its most popular judge, Simon Cowell.

Wednesday’s two-hour finale, which saw 17-year-old
Scotty McCreery crowned as the new Idol, drew 29.3 million total viewers in the U.S., according to early figures.

In Canada, 3.4 million watched on CTV, up 17 per cent from last year. CTV said the show was No. 1 with the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

In the U.S., the Fox network estimated its 18-49 audience rose 12 per cent compared to last year, the first time in five years that Idol upped its young viewers for the finale.

That’s not such a surprise considering that it was the youngest finale matchup in the show’s history, with country singer McCreery, of Garner, N.C., up against fellow southerner Lauren Alaina, a 16-year-old from Rossville, Ga.

McCreery had been tipped to win for weeks and was a particular favourite of the young girls who are thought to do much of the voting.

But he told reporters on Thursday that he never thought he had the contest in the bag.

“I mean this week especially, Lauren Alaina, she’s something. She sings like a bird and she’s just an amazing young lady. . . . Every week I’ve heard people say the front-runner stuff and the favourite, but to me it never even crossed my mind like that because everybody this year from the top 40 down was just so talented,” McCreery said.

As if winning wasn’t enough, McCreery had some more good news on Thursday: his new single, “I Love You This Big,” had hit No. 1 on iTunes.

“That is amazing. That is wild. I mean I love the song, the song is just, it’s a great song to start off with. When they pitched it to me I fell in love with it,” McCreery said.

Alaina’s new single, “Like My Mother Does,” was reported at No. 3 on the chart.

McCreery said he recorded one other song this week, which he declined to name, and would be looking for more good songs for his first album.

“The fans have got me where I am right now, but now I have to get out the music they want to hear.”

Some critics had complained that McCreery, notable for his deep country baritone, was bland and didn’t take risks on the show.

The teen said that everybody had a niche on Idol, whether it was Casey Abrams’ jazzy rock, Jacob Lusk’s gospel or James Durbin’s hard rock.

“Country music for me is what I grew up with. It’s what I do. I didn’t have any intentions of changing.”

With files from Star wire services

Video: Idris Elba Hosts New Series, Plus He Returns as ‘Luther’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 31, 2011) *
Idris Elba has a new gig hosting the new BBC America drama venture “Dramaville.”

It will premiere Aug. 17 at 10 p.m. with an hour-long 1950s espionage-themed thriller, “The Hour,” and Elba’s “Luther” which is set its regular series debut on Oct. 2.

“British drama has long been a standard bearer of great scripted television and ‘Dramaville’ will showcase the very best of British creativity in a clear destination drama fans can easily find,” says BBC Worldwide America GM, Perry Simon. “It’s a real pleasure to welcome Idris back to the BBC America family as the host of ‘Dramaville.’”

Elba will play the London native John Luther, a detective struggling to balance the psychological demands of work while trying to manage his marriage.

The actor compared his new role to his former part as Russell “Stringer” Bell on “The Wire.”

“People compare Luther to Stringer, as if those are the only two characters I’ve ever been,” he told ‘Entertainment Weekly’ last October. “To be fair, those two characters appeal to a certain audience. For me, it’s entertainment.”

Check out the trailer of the second season of “Luther” below:

Oprah: Her Five Greatest Roles

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(May 26, 2011) Over the last 25 years,
Oprah Winfrey has cut an indelible swath through daytime television and pop culture. While amassing an estimated fortune of $2.7 billion (U.S.), the 57-year-old Tennessee native, who hobnobs with A-list celebrities, corporate titans and heads of state, has managed to maintain a loyal middlebrow following with her empathetic everywoman mien. With The Oprah Winfrey Show poised to air its final segment on Wednesday, we examine the five overarching aspects of being Oprah.

Self-help Guru: When Winfrey dragged a wagon loaded with 67 pounds of fat onto her stage in 1988, signifying weight lost on a four-month liquid diet, she became a rare public figure to publicize her struggles with diet and fitness. In subsequent years, she confessed to challenges with self-esteem, most famously employing psychologist Phil McGraw, who successfully prepared her to fend off a 1998 libel action brought by Texas cattle ranchers. As Winfrey sought to improve her well-being, she brought in experts to help her viewers do the same.

“The Oprah show is almost like a televised coaching program,” says Toronto life coach Lydia Roy, who sits on the faculty of the Adler School of Professional Coaching. “You don’t change unless you become aware that you have to and she creates that awareness. Then, she offers different choices on how you can do this, and different stories and testimonials from people who have taken the action. She presents it in an entertaining and dynamic and very human way.”

Jeff Richardson, director of Toronto’s Centre for Midlife Renewal, routinely hears clients reference the “live your best life” philosophy of Winfrey show.

“It has been such a big part of a larger cultural conversation around the role of the individual. She does get accused of being part of the navel-gazing of our age, but she doesn’t just leave it at ‘Look at your own life, grow yourself and develop as a person’; it’s ‘Now how can you make a difference with that?’”

Even when Winfrey stumbles, evidenced by two decades of yo-yo weight loss before she vehemently swore off dieting last year, she’s still inspiring, Roy posited.

“We all want changes in our life and I think she speaks to the fact that when you do make a change it can be messy and you can backslide and she shows us that that’s natural,” she said. “She has so much money, so much success, and yet this human struggle is right there. That has been part of her success.”

Confessor: During a segment with sexual abuse victims in the mid-’80s, Oprah disclosed that at age 9 she’d been raped by a relative. She subsequently became an advocate for victims of sex abuse and devoted dozens of shows to the topic, including a gripping 2010 episode in which filmmaker Tyler Perry and an audience of 200 men shared their stories of childhood molestation.

“It has so encouraged the men to come forward,” said Toronto psychotherapist Lynne MacDonnell, who specializes in male victims of sexual abuse. Eleven of her clients were at the groundbreaking November broadcast, which featured 200 men acknowledging their victimization.

“I am still getting calls every week saying, ‘I watched the Oprah show; I thought it was just me. I thought I was the only one.’ So many men have come forward we have decided to develop some online groups through the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness.”

Among Winfrey’s other eyebrow-raising revelations: a teen pregnancy (the infant died shortly after birth), crack cocaine use in her 20s and, just this past January, the discovery of a sister her mother had given up for adoption in 1963.

Her disclosures engendered a supportive environment for guests to do the same, most awkwardly, say, in 2005 when actor Tom Cruise jumped on her sofa in declaration of his love for Katie Holmes.

“You had Phil Donahue and late night guys, and along comes Oprah and she has this different level of intimacy with the public,” said Megan Boler, professor of philosophy and cultural studies at the University of Toronto.

“It’s using the mode of the confessional, but not for no reason, she does it very intentionally and she makes what is private and is not supposed to be spoken, especially sexual abuse, public. That has spawned a much larger culture of the confessional; one extreme is reality TV, a vomiting of personal experience which is abhorrent to some, but is quite distinguishable from hers, which is an authentic self-analysis for the greater good.”

Marketing Maven: Authors, small business owners and President Barack Obama can attest to The Oprah Effect. The term was coined to describe how sales of everything, from pyjamas to the classic novel Anna Karenina, skyrocket after her endorsement. Winfrey’s imprimatur is credited both with helping to sell 30 million books since the launch of her book club in 1996 and electing the first black president. Conversely, she was sued by the cattle ranchers because they claimed that her comments about never eating another burger during a segment about mad cow disease lost them $11 million in business.

“There’s never been a product placement or a PR phenomenon like Oprah before and we may not see her kind again,” said Robert Kozinets, professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business.

“But the most remarkable part of her legacy is not the economic impact, which everyone knows; it’s the fact that she’s managed to maintain the public trust and have a widespread image of integrity. Considering the amount of product placement on her show, she didn’t ever give the impression that she was a sellout. She managed her image extremely well.”

Philanthropist: Whether her girls’ academy in South Africa or generous monetary donations, what Winfrey gives away personally is not as impressive as what she stirs others to give. Her Angel’s Network charity, which began in 1997 as a campaign to collect spare change from viewers to help others, distributed more than $80 million before it dissolved last year.

The money went to big organizations like the American Red Cross, as well as small non-profits like Bea’s Kids, a Dallas-area afterschool program that offers homework and tutoring assistance to low-income, at-risk children.

“To get that gift changed the face of Bea’s Kids in how they offered services to the children,” said the group’s executive director Diane Covey of the $50,000 they garnered in 2000.

The funds enabled the grassroots operation, which has since added administrative staff and doubled to four centres, to purchase computers and software. And the notoriety of being an Angel Network recipient attracted more volunteers.

“She made it cool to give and to volunteer,” said Covey. “We have that Oprah’s Angel Network mark on our website and it brings a bit of validity to our organization, which we can still use as leverage as obtain new grants.”

Increasingly, Winfrey used coveted episodes of her show, such as the annual My Favourite Things episodes, as rewards for viewers who did good works, such as teachers or Hurricane Katrina volunteers.

Winfrey popularized the concepts of random acts of kindness and the citizen philanthropist, said Toronto-based Claire Kerr, director of digital philanthropy at Artez Interactive, which aids charities and non-profits with online giving and fundraising.

“She showed her viewers that ordinary people can make a difference through small acts of charity,” said Kerr. “I can’t think of an example on TV before where we would regularly see ordinary people being praised for doing good things in their community, so I know she inspired the wealth of reality TV shows where communities come together now to make over homes for families or grant wishes.”

She also credits Winfrey with encouraging current philanthropy trends around project-based giving and peer-to-peer giving.

“The research shows that one of the top reasons people give to charity is because a friend or family member asked them to give,” Kerr said of the latter. “People listen to Oprah because she feels like she’s your friend. We have a personal connection to her because we know her story so well, because we’ve grown with her. So, when she says ‘Help me with a project,’ it’s like your friend asking you to pledge them in a charity run.”

Spinoff Queen: The eponymous show grinds to a halt at 4,561 episodes on Wednesday, but Winfrey’s influence will still seep in. There’s O Magazine, not to mention all the like-minded experts she’s birthed into shows of their own: Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suze Orman.

Then, of course, there’s the ultimate spinoff: the Oprah Winfrey Network, a blend of original and acquired programming. The channel, which launched Jan. 1 (March 1 in Canada), has struggled with low ratings and recently replaced its CEO. But things may be looking up. Reality-based shows starring Shania Twain and Sarah Ferguson recently debuted; Céline Dion will show off her new babies in an intimate at-home special next month; and Rosie O’Donnell will kick off a talk show in the fall, taped on Winfrey’s old stage.

Winfrey has said that some of the blame for the station’s rocky start rests with her ongoing commitment to the talk show.

“(After the end of Oprah) I can start to give my attention to OWN that it deserves,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s going to improve exponentially with the amount of time and service I can give to it.”

But with Winfrey only committed to appearing in about 70 hours of programming on OWN in 2011, it remains to seen if a behind-the-scenes-role will be the best use of her expertise and energy.

Schulich professor Kozinets remembers Winfrey from his stint at Chicago’s Kellogg School of Management, where she taught a Dynamics of Leadership course with beau Stedman Graham in the late ’90s.

“It was a very popular class,” he recalled. “She brought in Henry Kissinger, Coretta Scott King and Jeff Bezos as guests. But she got tired of it, because she didn’t want to do her own grading and the dean insisted she grade her own papers.”

TV One Announces Black Music Month Schedule

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 26, 2011) *
TV One will mark Black Music Month in June with a line-up of movies, music and new episodes of “Unsung,” the network announced.

Each Saturday night throughout the month, TV One will feature a concert with some of the top names in music, including Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan and Usher.

On Monday nights at 10, new episodes of “Unsung” will premiere. As previously reported, this season includes specials on Deniece Williams, The Spinners, Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle, Big Daddy Kane, The Ohio Players and Evelyn “Champagne” King.

Highlights of the month include (all times ET):

Saturday, June 4

8 PM   The Fighting Temptations – Cuba Gooding, Jr. stars as a New York advertising executive who must create a winning gospel choir in a small town before he can collect an inheritance and engages the help of a beautiful lounge singer (Beyoncé) with whom he soon falls in love. Also features Angie Stone, Mary Mary, the O’Jays, and Faith Evans (repeats at 12:30 AM)

10:30P    Beyoncé I Am Yours. . . Live From Las Vegas – a two-hour concert special featuring Beyoncé performing some of her greatest hits.  Always an electrifying performer, Beyoncé pulls out all the stops in this unforgettable intimate show filmed live at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Performances includes her chart topping solo hits such as “Single Ladies,” “Halo” and irreplaceable”, as well as some Destiny’s Child favourites.

Sunday, June 5

Noon   TV One Night Only: Live From the Essence Music Festival 2009 -  a two-hour musical extravaganza featuring the best performances from the country’s largest annual gathering celebrating African-American music and culture. This 2009 special features performances by Beyoncé, Anita Baker, Robin Thicke, John  Legend, Ne-Yo, Teena Marie, En Vogue, Charlie Wilson, Salt N Pepa, and Jazmine Sullivan.

2 PM   Unsung marathon – In preparation for a new season of TV One’s NAACP Image Award-winning series Unsung, TV One airs a special Unsung marathon of favourite episodes from the past three seasons, from 2 PM – 2 AM, featuring Stacy Lattisaw, Sylvester, DeBarge, Phyllis Hyman, Shalamar, Teddy Pendergrass, Tammi Terrell, the O’Jays, Roger and Zapp, Teena Marie, Angela Winbush, and Miki Howard.

Monday, June 6

10 PM UnsungDeniece Williams. The fourth season of TV One’s hit music bio series Unsung premieres with an episode featuring Deniece Williams. In this personally revealing episode,  Deniece tells her story with poignancy and humour, and is helped  along by  exclusive interviews with an all-star cast of her admirers that includes Johnny  Mathis, Ray Parker Jr., Phillip Bailey, Verdine White, George Duke – and Stevie  Wonder.  Repeats at 1 AM.

Saturday, June 11

8 PM   In the Mix – TV One salutes Grammy Award-winning
superstar Usher with the TV One premiere of the romantic comedy/drama In the Mix, starring Usher and Kevin Hart.  In the film, a successful DJ named Darrel (Usher), managed to rescue a powerful mobster one night. In order to repay Darrell, the mobster, Frank Pacelli, gives him the task of protecting his daughter, Dolly. (repeats at 11 PM) 10 PM TV One premieres Usher: London Live, a concert recorded in London’s flamboyant, stylish and historic music venue KOKO. Usher performs a collection of his greatest hits in front of a live audience.  (repeats at 1 AM)

Sunday, June 12

5 PM   TV One Night Only: Live From the Essence Music Festival 2010 -  a two-hour musical extravaganza featuring the best performances from the country’s largest annual gathering celebrating African-American music and culture. Performing artists included in the special will include Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, LL Cool J, Jill Scott, Earth, Wind & Fire, Trey Songz, Charlie Wilson, Monica, Raphael Saadiq, Keri Hilson and Gladys Knight.

Monday, June 13

10 PM Unsung – The Spinners -  They spent nearly a decade at Motown driving cars for the label’s top stars while waiting for their own shot, then survived the abrupt departures of two lead singers, without ever missing a beat, or a show. And in 2011 they’re still on the road, a group that just keeps on keepin’ on. In Unsung, the core members of this remarkable band, along with ace arranger and collaborator Thom Bell, tell the long and winding journey of a group that’s become an American treasure. Repeats at 1 AM.

Saturday, June 18

8 PM The Bodyguard – Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner star in this romantic thriller, in which a former Secret Service agent takes on the job of bodyguard to a pop singer, whose life is threatened by an unknown stalker.   (repeats at 12:30AM)

11 PM Chaka Khan: Live in Malibu, a concert featuring the first lady of R&B performing all of her favourites in this great performance including I’m Every Woman, Sweet Thang, Tell Me Something Good, and I Feel For You. (repeats at 3:30 AM)

Sunday, June 19

8 PM   Lady Sings the Blues – This film is the classic story of the troubled life and career of the  legendary Jazz singer, Billie Holiday starring Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, and Richard Pryor. (repeats at 1:30 AM)

Monday, June 20

10 PM Unsung – Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle.
They were the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell of their time – an unlikely pairing of opposite personalities that made musical magic together. Poised on the brink of superstardom, both of their careers abruptly fell apart, a casualty of both self-destructive acts and unforeseen tragedies. On this remarkably candid episode of ‘Unsung”, Alexander O’Neal and Cherelle tell the stories of two extraordinary characters whose legacies will forever be entwined. (repeats at 1 AM)

Friday, June 24

8 PM   The Jacksons: An American Dream – On the eve of the second anniversary of Michael Jackson’s untimely death, TV One airs the award-winning five-hour mini-series that takes a look at the origins of one of the most successful family groups in the history of the music industry. The mini-series stars Angela Bassett, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Holly Robinson-Peete, Terrence Howard, Billy Dee Williams and Jermaine Jackson II. (repeats at 3 PM Saturday, June 25)

Saturday, June 25

8 PM   Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story – On the second anniversary of his tragic death, the King of Pop is celebrated by TV One all day and night, including this bio pic starring Flex Alexander.

 

10 PM Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert – This star-studded 2001 special marked the “King of Pop’s” first live US performance in nearly 11 years and the first reunion with his brothers in 20 years and featured performances by Luther Vandross, Destiny’s Child, Usher, and Whitney Houston.

Monday, June 27

10 PM Unsung – Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle -  They were the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell of their time – an unlikely pairing of opposite personalities that made musical magic together. Then, poised on the brink of superstardom, both of their careers abruptly fell apart, a casualty of both self-destructive acts and unforeseen tragedies. On this remarkably candid episode of Unsung, Alexander O’Neal and Cherelle tell the stories of two extraordinary characters whose legacies will forever be entwined. (repeats at 1 AM).

Shouting Out With Glee

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(May 31, 2011) As I am led down into the bowels of the Sony Centre, where Global’s prelaunch interviews are being staged, I am greeted by the sound of voices raised in song.

Not particularly good voices, mind you. Certainly not the calibre one might expect from cast members of the musical comedy TV phenomenon,
Glee.

To promote the hit show’s third season on Global, they have flown in the only two entirely tuneless people on the show: Iqbal Theba’s ineffectual Principal Figgins and Dot Marie Jones’ imposing Coach Bieste.

Jones, who joined the cast in Glee’s second season, has at least had one turn at the mic. But Iqbal’s dulcet tones have yet to ring out — except off-camera.

“I sing on the set all the time,” Theba says.

“Trying to drop the hint,” adds Jones.

“I have, I think, the easiest job on the show,” Theba allows. “I just show up, I yell at people, and then I leave, go to the beach.”

In fact, they both often find themselves on set, even when they are not in the scene. “I’ll sometimes come in, even on a day off, just to watch them work,” says Jones.

“How could we not?,” agrees Theba. “I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to come hear Leah Michelle sing ... and for free?”

Both actors go back with Glee producer Ryan Murphy to his previous show, Nip/Tuck. Jones came on board in the second season in a role that was essentially written for her.

Theba was cast entirely against type. “Figgins was originally written for a Caucasian,” he says. “They had a lot of trouble casting it, and then Ryan thought of me. They didn’t even change the name, which I thought was a very interesting choice.”

But typical, really, for a show so fundamentally focused on the embrace of diversity and an acceptance of outsiders.

Jones’ role particularly has struck a chord. “I got a letter from a fan a while ago,” she says, starting to mist up. “She just wanted to thank me for playing the character, because she was one of those kids in school that no one would sit with at lunch.

“I was too. So I wrote back and told her, ‘There will always be a place for you at my table.’”

Now she’s got me going.

TV TIDBITS

Randy Jackson Launches New Talent Search Website

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 27, 2011) *“American Idol” judge
Randy Jackson has launched a new interactive way to search for the next big thing in music, fashion, art and technology. The website RandyJacksonNext.com is home base for his new Enlightenment Institute, which urges users to let him know about any new ideas, advances or individuals that may not be on his radar. “As we enlighten you, you enlighten us… Post something here that you think I should know about,” he writes on the website. “Anything you think I need to see; in the world of architecture, music, fashion, technology, (and) philosophy, that you think me and the rest of the site need to know about. “I’m going to be watching the site and seeing what you come up with.”

Citytv, 680 And Maclean’s Team On 24-Hour News Channel

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lorianna De Giorgio

(May 30, 2011)
Rogers has announced plans to launch CityNews Channel, a new 24-hour, local news channel in Toronto that will combine their various brands across radio, publishing and television.  "We're taking the number one news radio format in Canada, 680 News, and bringing it to television under the brand of CityNews Channel," said Scott Moore, President, Rogers Broadcasting, in a release. "By incorporating our trailblazing and trusted news brands from CityNews, 680 News, and publishing – including Canada's most trusted news magazine, Maclean'sCityNews Channel is poised to be the destination local news channel.” The new channel will be available to digital subscribers in October.  It will feature an interactive screen, likely in a similar format to CP24, the news channel which this new station will compete with. CP24 was originally created as an extension of the Citytv brand but is now owned by Bell Media.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Paul Gross To Co-Star With Kim Cattrall In ‘Private Lives’ In Toronto This Fall

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Canadian Press

(May 31, 2011) TORONTO — Actor Paul Gross will join Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall in the Toronto production of Private Lives this fall.

Cattrall unveiled her co-star today after revealing in February that she'll bring the 1930 Noel Coward play to the city.

The British Columbia-raised actress plays Amanda, who reunites with her ex-husband while on honeymoon in France with her new spouse.

Gross will play her rich and reckless ex, Elyot.

Cattrall played the same role on London's West End last year.

She and Gross will take the play to Broadway in November after its Toronto run.

Private Lives is coming to Toronto as part of the Mirvish Productions 2011/2012 subscription season.

The last time Cattrall performed onstage in Canada was 1976 when she co-starred with Maury Chaykin in a Martin Kinch play in Toronto.

Cattrall starred as lusty publicist Samantha Jones on TV's Sex and the City for six seasons and played her in two franchise films.

Gross is best-known for starring as the upright Mountie Benton Fraser in the TV comedy-drama Due South. He also wrote, directed and starred in the Canadian movies Men with Brooms and Passchendaele, and won two Gemini Awards for his role in the critically acclaimed Canadian series Slings & Arrows.

 

Stephen King-John Mellencamp Musical Ready For The Stage

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(May 25, 2011) ATLANTA — Horror writer Stephen King's first play, The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, featuring haunting melodies by rocker John Mellencamp, is finally ready for the stage.

The musical was originally scheduled for its debut at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2009 but was postponed. It's now set to open next April at the Alliance.

Mellencamp and the play's director weren't getting along, King said Tuesday at the Alliance's season preview presentation. The new director is Susan Booth, the company's artistic director.

The project originated about 11 years ago, King said.

“John had an idea that he wanted to do a play about ghosts in a cabin and how sibling rivalries and resentments are carried down from generation to generation,” King said.

He said Mellencamp told his agent he wanted a writer like Stephen King and discovered that the two had the same agent.

They got together and agreed to try to write the play, King said. “One of the reasons to do it was because I never had, and John felt the same way.”

King said he outlined a story incorporating live brothers and dead brothers.

“John wanted it to be in the South because he's a big admirer of Tennessee Williams. I was fine with that because I'd been reading a lot of William Faulkner, and those voices were in my head.”

The show eventually may make it to New York, but King said he wasn't thinking big.

“I wrote a play that we aimed at the idea of a small stage, a small cast and small tech requirements, sort of the anti-Spider-Man. John wanted real Americana music, blue jeans music, and I loved that idea. We wanted six or seven instruments, an acoustic kind of sound, like Big River.”

In writing the play, King kept the musical side in mind. “I said, ‘This song goes here, and it's got to be a song about brothers singing to each other who hate each other.’ So John would write a song.”

Mellencamp wrote all the lyrics as well as the music, King said. “Believe me, I can't write songs. Songs and poetry are just outside my field.”

Tapping Madly Into The Ballet Universe

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(June 01, 2011) Few ballet stars get an early career assist from being ace tap dancers but Australian Steven McRae, an acclaimed young principal dancer in Britain’s Royal Ballet, is among them.

McRae, 25, originated the Mad Hatter when Christopher Wheeldon’s dance adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland opened in London in February. Given McRae’s tapping prowess, Wheeldon choreographed the role accordingly. McRae will reprise it — this Saturday only — with the National Ballet when the company performs the work’s North American premiere.

McRae started tapping in hometown Sydney at age 8. Long convinced a command of diverse styles makes for a better dancer, he kept it up even when ballet became his focus. At age 15 he was almost scooped up by the Australian hit touring show, Tap Dogs, but after a brief stint in New York returned to his ballet studies.

In 2003, at 17, McRae entered the Prix de Lausanne, the world’s premiere competition for pre-professional dancers. The rules then allowed contestants, after obligatory classical and contemporary rounds, to dance a variation of their own choice. McRae knew he was taking a risk but devised a virtuoso tap routine that wowed the judges — one of them former National Ballet artistic director Reid Anderson, no mean tapper himself.

McRae won the top prize and left Australia for a scholarship place at London’s Royal Ballet School. By 2004 he’d joined the company and within five years had reached top rank.

This week McRae has been coaching National Ballet second soloist Robert Stephen on the finer points of the Mad Hatter role the Canadian dancer will perform for the remaining 12 shows.

Stephen, also 25, began tap at much the same age as McRae but dropped it after entering the National Ballet School. Even so, he says the foundation was still there when he began working with local tap coach Candace Jennings to prepare for the Mad Hatter.

Stephen says working with McRae has helped him understand how the ballet-tap hybrid works and how the tapping itself expresses the Hatter’s whacky personality. “Steven has been incredibly generous and encouraging.”

And why not? They’re fellow members of a rare fraternity; ballet dancers who can tap like demons. (June 4 to 25; Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen Street W; 416 (toll free 866) 345-9595 or www.national.ballet.ca).

::OTHER NEWS::

Park Yourself At These Hotspots During Pride Week

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jessica Pollack and Jordana Divon

(May 31, 2011) Between the parade, Pride parties, heatstroke and hangovers, it’s nice to just grab a low-key drink somewhere -- although sometimes it’s nice to grab an up-tempo drink, too. If you’re not hitting a patio, these are some prime watering holes that guarantee great time:

Sailor/Woody’s

These neighbouring bars are each other’s ying and yang. Woody’s (which you might remember from Queer As Folk) is one of the oldest gay bars in the city and is always busy, while Sailor is more low-key. Meet up with friends and shoot some pool at Sailor before tearing up the dance floor at Woody’s.

The Dakota Tavern

If your boots are always knockin’ and your knees are used to a-slappin’, this unassuming, subterranean tavern is a sure bet. Live bands play roots, bluegrass, country and more to eclectic crowds. The quarterly “Steers and Queers” party is a honky tonk dance fest rife with beers and queers.

Zippers-Cell Block

This isn’t the kind of piano lounge where couples sit quietly at tables-for-two nodding their heads (and possibly nodding off). With a roster of classics and campy tunes, it’s generally a giant sing-along at this Church St. mainstay. The back-end club, Cell Block, alternates between music nights, ranging from line-dancing lessons to retro dance parties, and drag performances (queen or king) where sweaty boys and girls let loose.

The Melody Bar

At the tail end of West Queen West (also known as Queer West), this artsy hotel and historical property plays host to an array of weekly events at its live music venue, Melody Bar. The best part? They’re free, so grab a drink and enjoy the entertainment -- gratis. Granny Boots is held on Wednesday --- an ever-changing show for the early-to-bed, which segues into Vitamin G, a queer-friendly dance party. Awesomely fun Karaoke nights take place Fridays and Saturdays.

Wrongbar

Toronto DJ Nasty Nav’s concert and art space hosts DJs and bands from all over, not to mention great after parties for DJs playing bigger venues. The hipster hangout is a sweaty dance haven where a tallboy of PBR or Steigl is as necessary an accessory as a head band. Their Big Primpin’ party (the first Friday of each month) is an all-inclusive, gay dance party boasting “hip-hop and hot times for homos, their friends and admirers.” It’s fabulous.

Slack’s

The village lady bar (one of few in the city) has something going almost every night, including trashy trailer park bevies for $2.50 on Tuesdays and not-to-be-missed brunch on Sundays. The friendly vibe and contemporary atmosphere, plus a solid menu, make Slack’s a great place to start the night, grab a bite and then linger past the dinner hour for drinks.

Alto Lounge

With progress comes a bit of healthy competition, and this new hotspot (it opened last January) isn’t cutting the Village’s other main lady bar any, ahem, slack. Expect a packed dance floor and a whole lot of cocktail swilling. Monday night’s Dirty Bingo with Shirley is not to be missed.

Byzantium

The city’s first official martini bar opened in the heart of the gay village more than a decade ago. This is definitely the classiest place to grab a drink in the area (aside from Fuzion), be it one of 50 martinis like the volcano (hot pepper vodka and vermouth) or a glass of wine. Jazz, Broadway classics, house and more set the soundtrack.

The Henhouse

A hub for queer and straight west-enders alike, this cozy Dundas West bar has a super chilled and friendly vibe, sans pretention. The jukebox is stacked with gems, from Patti Smith to Dolly Parton, and drinks are relatively cheap ($4 bottles, $5 pints). Of interest: Almost every kitschy item in the bar’s interior, Formica and all, was found on Craigslist.

Bovine Sex Club

With past events like Thunderpussy (for girls who like girls), this visual wonderland of a punk and hard rock bar definitely welcomes everyone -- as long as you like getting down to rock, retro '80s, punk, glam, metal, '70s funk and Britpop. The dark bar has a grungy, sexy feel and hosts live music most nights of the week.

The Beaver Cafe

It’s easy to see why the Beav is the poster-child of Queer West, inviting a mix of “some of T.O.’s most exciting punk rockers, photographers, art fags, performance innovators, bears, butches and beauties.” The Beaver is a hot ticket during Pride Week.

Crews and Tangos

Shuttered for an entire year, the Village’s primo drag bar has returned to the scene with a hell of a bang. The new and improved décor fits with the new and improved vibe: co-owner Paras Prashad wants C&T’s latest incarnation to encourage diversity in all its beautiful shapes, colours, sizes, and orientations. That means everyone -- and their mom -- is welcome to kick back and enjoy the show.

Hanlan’s Point

Things can get a little hot during Pride Week. We’re talking dripping, soaked-shirt, wish-I-could-walk-around-starkers hot. While most authorities give public nudity a casual pass on parade day, exhibitionists who wish to roast their rumps all week long will have to opt for Toronto’s only designated nude beach, where they can sun their birthday suits with reckless abandon. The annual Beach Ball Party should already be on your calendar.

The Drake

Come nightfall, the trust fund artistes grab their porkpie hats in one elegantly orchestrated swoop and head back to their minimally, but expensively furnished home studios. That opens more room for the party crowd to fill up on crisp edamame appetizers and retro cocktails while discussing Lars von Trier’s latest vanity project. Though not an exclusively LGBT crowd, The Drake’s come-as-you-are vibe makes for a colourful, happening and welcome place to park your stylishly clad rear.

Boutique Bar

Fancy cocktails aren’t for everyone, but those who appreciate the craft of a talented mixologist will flip for Julien Salomone raspberry mojitos at this gleaming newish hotspot. Local personality Mike Chalut will be hosting this year’s Pride kickoff bash FCKH8 Purple Party, where you can simultaneously celebrate equality and a damn fine cosmo.

::TECHNOLOGY::

Mark Zuckerberg Embraces A Creepy Version Of Virtue

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Lynn Crosbie

(May 31, 2011)  “People are going to think Mark’s odd for doing this – that it’s weird or unusual – but I think everyone should hold a knife at least once.”

This is farmer Bruce King of Everett, Wash., commenting on Facebook founder
Mark Zuckerberg’s decision, announced this week in an e-mail to Fortune, only to eat animals he has killed himself this year.

“I just killed a pig and a goat,” Zuckerberg announced, as a sort of teaser, on his personal Facebook page last week. He cut their throats with a knife, believed by some to be the most humane method of slaughter: Prior to this, he began his new diet by boiling a live lobster and intends to hunt bigger game.

His rationale? “Every year in recent memory,” he remarks, “I’ve taken on a personal challenge – something to learn about the world, expand my interests and teach myself greater discipline.” One year, he elucidates, he spent an hour a day learning Chinese. One year, he wore a tie every day. Just to clarify: Even on casual Fridays, or walking through the dunes by his $7-million Palo Alto home, he wore a tie.

Such highly disciplined forward-thinking has inspired others to attend such glorious events as Farmer Bruce’s erudite-in-name event “
Primal to Plate,” wherein one chooses and kills the animal of one’s choice. “Wear runner boots, rain pants and don’t faint,” quips the avant-garde farmer, one of many attempting to radicalize the meat-eating experience.

When Zuckerberg announced his “personal challenge,” support arrived, all across the board. Anthony Caturano, the posh chef of Boston’s Prezza restaurant, has stated that killing what you eat “gives you respect for the animal it came from.”

Tantalizingly, he continued his discourse on humility: “I’ve shot just about everything in North America, and I’m working my way through Africa right now.”

Even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), usually available for violent, partisan execration, kittenishly sent Zuckerman a basket of tasty vegan food.

This show of support is sycophantic, in part. Zuckerberg’s e-mail also contained the following rationale: “This year, my personal challenge is being thankful for the food I have to eat. I think many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat meat, so my goal revolves around not letting myself forget that and being thankful for what I have.”

This reasoning is comparable to that of an arch-satirist and is hardly worth dignifying, except to note that if most carnivores did have to kill their food, if meat were not packaged and sold as to look like fleshy abstractions, their ranks would thin immediately.

But the parlous lack of empathy Zuckerman exhibits in his logic is chilling. Here’s a thought: What if we truly respected animals; what if we were thankful for them – so much so that we did not kill them?

Zuckerman’s badass posturing is just creepy, because his argument could be used to frame so many other modest proposals that are even worse, and still more venal and specious capitalist rationales.

The CEOs and politicians and investors responsible for gross eco-crimes could “personally” clear-cut boreal forests, spike dolphins and chuck oil into the seas.

The purveyors of human trafficking could be the first to assault their victims, out of sheer gratitude, and so on.

If you think this is gross extrapolation, think how an elitist social-networking platform became a billion-dollar baby while being accused from all corners of gross privacy violations.

This week, a sweaty Zuckerberg (and reps from Google and other heavy-hitters) addressed the G8 summit of world leaders, asking for free, open worldwide Internet access. Zuckerberg is excited about this move: “I’m happy to play any role they ask me to play,” he said.

“Internet is really a powerful force giving people a voice.” (He was referring to reports of Syria and Iran mulling attempts to block their citizens’ Web access.) When he makes fatuous remarks about killing chickens or speaking Chinese (the latter allegedly not a whim, but a move last year in preparation for a visit to investigate Facebook opportunities in China), is he simply deflecting our attention away from his actual personal goals?

Zuckerberg is in the news daily. The stories appear incongruent (on Sunday, Facebook was cited in helping to skip trace Kiwis), but they do form a portrait, ultimately – of a strange little creature with no charisma or charm, who, like Rapunzel in reverse, is forever spinning good ideas (social agency, law and order, self-reflexivity) into awful, furtive messes we still can only smell and not yet see.

George Orwell could not have invented Zuckerberg. He could only dream of what kind of “voice” people might have, when corralled together, unwittingly, by the fantasy of one infinitely corruptible world.

WHO Says Cellphone Use ‘Possibly Carcinogenic’

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Kate Kelland, Reuters

(May 31, 2011) LONDONUsing a mobile phone may increase the risk of developing certain types of brain tumour and consumers should consider ways of reducing their exposure, World Health Organization (WHO) cancer experts said on Tuesday.

A working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries meeting at the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said a review of all the available scientific evidence suggested cellphone use should be classified as “possibly carcinogenic.”

The classification, which puts mobile phone use in the same broad IARC cancer risk category as lead, chloroform and coffee, could spur the United Nations health body to look again at its guidelines on mobile phones, the scientists said.

But more lengthy and detailed research is needed before a more definitive answer on any link can be given.

The WHO had previously said there was no established evidence for a link between cellphone use and cancer.

“After reviewing essentially all the evidence that is relevant... the working group classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans,” Jonathan Samet, chair of the IARC group, said in a telebriefing.

He said some evidence suggested a link between an increased risk for glioma, a type of brain cancer, and mobile phone use.

The WHO’s position has been keenly awaited by mobile phone companies and by campaign groups who have raised concerns about whether cellphones might be harmful to health.

Industry groups immediately sought to play down the decision, stressing that the “possibly carcinogenic” category also includes substances such as pickled vegetables and coffee.

“This IARC classification does not mean that cellphones cause cancer,” said John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the United States-based wireless association CTIA.

He noted that the IARC working group did not conduct any new research, but reviewed published studies, and said other regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have stated that “the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cellphones with any health problems”.

John Cooke, executive director of the British-based Mobile Operators Association, said IARC had only found the possibility of a hazard. “Whether or not this represents a risk requires further scientific investigation,” he said in a statement.

PREVIOUS STUDIES INCONCLUSIVE

The IARC remarks follow a study published last year which looked at almost 13,000 cellphone users over 10 years and found no clear answer on whether the mobile devices cause brain tumours.

Many previous studies have also failed to establish any clear cancer link, but a U.S. study in February found that using a mobile phone can change brain cell activity.

Use of mobile phones has increased hugely since their introduction in the early- to mid-1980s. About 5 billion mobile phones are currently in use worldwide.

Christopher Wild, IARC’s director, said it was important that more research should be conducted, particularly into long-term and heavy use of mobile phones.

“Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands-free devices or texting,” he said.

Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain’s Royal Berkshire Hospital, said he thought the IARC move was appropriate because it reflected the “anecdotal evidence that cancers may be associated with phone usage”. But he added: “It is vitally important to fully understand that there is no definitive correlation”.

::TRAVEL::

Sharks In The Sunshine In Belize

Source: www.thestar.com - Jeffrey Simpson

(May 18, 2011) SAN PEDRO,
BELIZE—I’m standing on the edge of a boat peering uneasily into an ocean that’s swirling with sharks, mentally preparing myself to jump overboard.

Dimas Mejia, who’s leading this excursion to the appropriately named Shark-Ray Alley, is attempting to reassure his uncertain passengers this is a perfectly safe spot for snorkelling.

“It’s all right,” Mejia, 23, says. “I carry a life-ring with me.”

But drowning is the least of my worries as I watch five sharks that are about my size going after the fish-heads he’s tossing into the waves. Fortunately these are nurse sharks; despite their disconcerting resemblance to Jaws they’re usually harmless to humans.

“Just don’t stick your hand in their mouths because they’ll suck it right
in,” Mejia says.

With that in mind I pull on flippers, grab a face-mask and plunge into the impossibly turquoise waters of the Caribbean, trying all the while to keep my hands as close as possible to myself.

Travelling a bit farther south than Mexico’s Mayan Riveria brings you to this sun-splashed holiday haven in Belize. I’m staying in the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, a 40-kilometre-long island 45 minutes by water taxi from Belize City on the mainland. The narrow spit of land is an idyllic tropical paradise, with a sandy white beach stretching along a coast studded with palm trees.

It may be part of Central America, but the vibe is classic Caribbean with Jimmy Buffet and reggae music drifting on the tropical breeze from the pastel-coloured beachfront bars.

Ambergris is developed to a certain extent, but its hotels are small and the attitude is laid-back. Shoes and shirts are optional. Most people get around using golf carts or bicycles and there’s only one paved road. There are the creature comforts a vacationer might crave, without the raucous crowds of Cancun.

Canadians will feel right at home in the former British colony — and not just because there’s a bar called Crazy Canucks. English is the official language and the Queen even adorns the Belizean dollar.

The country’s main attraction is just offshore — the stellar snorkelling and scuba diving around Belize’s barrier reef, which at 300 kilometres in length is the second largest in the world after Australia’s. The coral reef system is home to a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals that lurk in the underwater caves and among the atolls.

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve, of which Shark-Ray Alley is a part, is about a 20-minute boat ride away.

I flutter along near the surface looking down at underwater canyons that run to a depth of 25 metres. The water is so clear the sun shines through unimpeded, allowing for fantastic views of schools of iridescent tropical fish that dart here and there.

A stingray gently flaps its broad wings on one side of me while a green turtle paddles along on the other.

Mejia dives deeper to point out creatures of interest along the seabed, such as a moray eel that pokes its head indignantly out of a crevice in the rocks, chomping on one of his flippers.

“They can bite your hand off,” he tells me later, showing me a scar where one had apparently tried.

There are stunningly beautiful creatures such as the pinkish-hued hogfish. Then there are astonishingly odd-looking ones such as the porcupine puffer fish, which inflates to twice its size like a beachball studded with spikes.

The reef runs about a kilometre from the coast of Ambergris and blocks the heavier surf from striking the caye. The water inside the reef is shallow and calm, allowing for that beautiful bluish-green tint that puts you at ease while sipping a pina colada on shore, smugly thinking about the North American winter you’re missing.

That’s exactly what Ken Timmons has in mind as he takes a break from blustery Chicago.

“I didn’t know where Belize was,” admits Timmons, 52, while recounting how a former colleague had piqued his interest in the country.

But he found it had an inviting atmosphere that offered something different than other better-known vacation spots.

“It’s a little more laid back maybe than Mexico,” he says. “Kind of a less touristy place to come than Cancun. It’s still got a little bit of a local flavour that’s not ruined by cruise ships.”

Asked how he’s spending his time on the caye, he glances at his girlfriend Donna Engelhard and grins.

“I’m not sure your readers really want to know that,” he says, breaking into laughter before quickly adding, “Actually we’ve been bike-riding a lot.”

Ambergris does provide a perfect backdrop for romance. After a beautiful Caribbean sunset, the soft lights flicker on at restaurant patios, providing al fresco dining to the sound of waves lapping the nearby shore and the wind caressing the palm trees.

Naturally, the specialty is seafood and one of the best places is a slightly upscale yet relaxed restaurant called Mango’s, where a mouth-watering starter of coconut shrimp has me wanting to order it again for my main.

There’s also a lot of good eating available on a smaller budget, from simple taco shacks to papusa joints offering the Salvadoran dish of corn tortillas filled with cheese, beans, chicken or seafood topped with salsa and slaw. They’re best washed down with the local Belikan beer. For further drinking, San Pedro’s nightlife booms until dawn, attracting locals, ex-pats and tourists.

No need to worry about sleeping, since there will be ample time to doze under the sun during lazy afternoons. And there’s no better feeling than waking up to another day in paradise.

Jeffrey Simpson is a Canadian journalist who lives in London, England

::SPORTS NEWS::

Toronto Gets Early Start On 2012 Grey Cup Plans

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Rachel Brady

(May 30, 2011)
Organizers of the 100th Grey Cup Festival in Toronto announced plans Monday for what they are expecting to be a party of historic size in November of 2012.

The festival surrounding the 100th title game for the CFL’s championship trophy will include 50 events over nine days, and have the largest footprint of any Grey Cup festival yet.

It begins Nov. 16, and will include a football film festival in the city’s entertainment district, an interactive family fun zone at Yonge-Dundas Square, concerts, beer gardens, a street party on John Street, celebrations at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a Grey Cup tailgate gathering on Bremner Boulevard out front of the game site at Rogers Centre.

The festival will coincide with Toronto’s annual Santa Claus Parade, with Saint Nick delivering the Grey Cup to the city on Nov. 18. The game will take place Nov. 25.

“We want to go beyond the hard-core football and sport fan, and reach out to other ethnic groups that have never followed football before,” said Chris Rudge, chair and chief executive officer of the 2012 Grey Cup committee.

“We are making the announcement early, and that’s a sign of how big it’s going to be and how much help we need. If you want a big tree, you need to plant the seeds early.”

Rudge, who also acted as CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee through the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, estimates the festival will cost between $20-million and $30-million. Funding will come from game ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, food and beverage sales, admission fees and the federal government – which had $5-million allotted in its last federal budget. (The budget must be tabled once again when parliament reconvenes, so the committee will review its contribution.)

The organizing committee also announced its two co-chairs: Rick Brace (president of specialty channels and CTV production for Bell Media Inc.), and Anatol von Hahn (group head, Canadian banking for Scotiabank). Brace chaired the most recent Grey Cup in Toronto in 2007, while von Hahn was involved in the Greater Toronto Area’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan American Games.

“[The 2012 event] will resonate from coast to coast in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” Brace said.

The 2007 Grey Cup, a sold-out game at Rogers Centre, along with the four-day festival surrounding it, generated some $80.1-million in economic activity throughout Ontario, with $52.9-million of that occurring in Toronto, according to an economic impact study done for the city by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

“We are
honoured to have such an exciting national and cultural celebration in Toronto, the city where the first Grey Cup game was held,” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said. “The 2007 Grey Cup game and festival delivered an $80-million economic impact to our region. We know the 100th can bring even more economic benefits and increase tourism to our great City.”

The committee also hopes to involve groups in the city’s entertainment district, such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Ballet of Canada. There are also plans in the works to make the 2012 Vanier Cup college football championship game part of the festival.

Information about volunteers and ticket sales will be available soon.

Toronto Argonauts season-ticket holders will get the first chance to buy tickets for the 2012 Grey Cup game.

“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the history of the Grey Cup,” CFL commissioner Mark
Cohon said. “We’re going to do it with a tremendous festival.”

"Best On Best" Is Toronto Pan Am 2015 Mantra

Source: www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman

(May 27, 2011)
Pan Am 2015 head honcho Ian Troop acknowledges it's going to take a "paradigm shift" to deliver the kind of sporting competition they want in four years in Toronto.

Troop kept uttering the phrase "best on best" during a media conference call on Friday morning as if it were the 2015 Pan Am Games mantra. It probably is at this juncture. And it's a ambitious one, to be sure, considering that it's been generally regarded as a 'B' Games for a long time.

But Troop and his cohorts recently met with the poobahs of the United States Olympic Committee and the leaders of their sports federations and he says they came away feeling strongly about a possible buy-in from the Americans when it comes to supplying their best athletes.

Troops reasons for optimism included:

-- the attractiveness of a large market like Toronto

-- the ease involved because of time zones, similar culture and a safe environment (the 2011 Games are in Guadalajara, Mexico, where raging drug wars have prospective travellers worried)

-- the 2015 Games are a great opportunity for athletes headed to the 2016 Rio Olympics to get a multi-Games experience, not to mention the last one before Rio

-- it's virtually a home Games for the U.S., giving their fans a chance to come and cheer them on

None of that helped the last time the Pan Ams were held in Canada in Winnipeg in 1999. The organizers there tried to pump things up by paying Olympic sprint champion Donovan Bailey to show up, but he arrived disinterested and only ran the relay.

Toronto organizers definitely have their work cut out for them. Paradigm shifts aren't easily achieved.

Reyes Finally Cracks The Win Column

Source: www.thestar.com – Robert MacLeod

(May 30, 2011) Toronto— First, Orlando Cabrera bumbled the ball.
Then, he became consumed by it.

And as the veteran Cleveland Indians second baseman inexplicably stared at the cowhide at his feet, the
Toronto Blue Jays kept rounding the bases.

It was comical to everybody but the Indians (31-20), who imploded in the fourth inning as the Blue Jays (28-26) tagged on seven runs and went on to an 11-1 victory at Rogers Centre on Monday.

It was the first of a three game series and the Indians swaggered into Toronto sporting the best record in the American League. That became hard to comprehend for many of the 12,902 on hand as they watched the follies unfold.

It began when Corey Patterson came to the plate with the bases loaded and two runs already in for the Blue Jays, who were leading 4-1. He stroked a ground ball toward Cabrera, tailor-made for an inning-ending double play.

First, Cabrera bobbled the ball for an error as Eric Thames crossed home plate from third base for Toronto’s fifth run. Then, Cabrera compounded the gaffe, remaining hunched over near second base – with his backside facing the infield – sullenly staring at the offending ball still resting between his feet.

It was an open invitation for speedy Rajai Davis to continue all the way home from second, not even drawing a throw in the process.

NBA Finals Logo Makes Lebron Smile And Nod

Source: www.thestar.com - Tim Reynolds

(May 30, 2011) MIAMI—LeBron James walked through the tunnel
leading from the Miami Heat locker room Monday, stepped onto the court and gave a yell. He looked down at the NBA finals logo newly affixed on the floor, smiled and nodded.

With that, it became real.

His championship chance — the biggest reason he came to Miami — has finally arrived.

Swept out of his only other finals appearance four years ago, James will get his long-awaited second opportunity starting Tuesday night when the Heat play host to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA’s title series. After a year like no other in his life, starting with the much-criticized “Decision,” his jerseys being torched in Cleveland and never-ending, intense scrutiny of his every move, the last challenge will likely prove to be the toughest of them all.

“I’m honoured to be here once again,” said James, who led the Cavaliers to the 2007 finals and lost in four games to San Antonio. “Now with this franchise, it’s an honour. As players, we worked hard. I worked hard individually to get to this point. And I had a lot of visions of being in this moment and now it’s hit me, being on that floor, seeing the championship logos and everything, the finals logos. I’m very excited.”

It showed Monday.

He chatted with teammates, taking part in a long shooting contest with Dwyane Wade, Eddie House and others, looking perfectly comfortable as dozens of photographers clicked away for 30 straight minutes. By now, being in the microscope is an accepted part of the deal for James, who has been dealing with this since his high school days.

Away from the court, though, those who are around the two-time NBA MVP say his focus is even sharper than usual. Winning a title likely won’t change perceptions about James. His fans will surely remain fans, his critics will surely remain critics, no matter what happens. But to him, a championship would mean everything that took place since 9:27 p.m. on July 8, 2010 — the moment he publicly said he would join the Heat — was all worthwhile.

“He’s focused,” Wade said. “Obviously, we all want it. But in a different sense, he wants this, he wants to seize this moment. And you can tell by the way he’s been playing, especially in late games. He hasn’t left anything to chance, whether it’s guarding the other team’s best player, whether it’s taking big shots, doing anything it takes. That’s a player that I see hungry for a championship.”

He’s been that way since July.

When the Heat threw that much-maligned signing party for Wade, James and Chris Bosh — an idea that was born from the team hoping to simply welcome Wade back to Miami, those organizing the event never knowing it would be James and Bosh sharing the stage with him until less than 24 hours before the bash began — James talked about winning title after title after title.

With that, the bar was set.

“He’s been zoned in and he has that killer instinct that is warranted for the playoffs,” Heat centre
Jamaal Magloire said. “You can see that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

Even his detractors likely couldn’t argue that this season.

Despite sharing the ball with Wade and Bosh, James finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists, numbers very comparable to what he was accustomed to posting when he was starring for the Cavaliers. To prepare for facing Miami in this series, the Mavericks have used Dominique Jones and Corey Brewer in practice, asking them to do the impossible: play like LeBron.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle lauded their efforts.

“You are trying to simulate a guy,” Carlisle said, “that many would argue is unsimulatable.”

The Heat have brought out their 2006 championship trophy at times this season for motivation — James was among the players and coaches that posed with this year’s trophy at ABC’s request, part of the promotional photos and videos that will be used on finals broadcasts, joking that he held it and was asked to do everything with it “besides take it home.”

No extra motivation is required now, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“Both teams know what we’re playing for,” Spoelstra said. “Right now, I think it’s more important to stay in the moment, stay in the process.”

From the very beginning, this was Miami’s plan. Everything before the finals would seem like a warmup act. Wade, James and Bosh made no secret of that, all the way back to that first night they donned Heat uniforms together and rode a forklift to the top of a stage to greet 13,000 screaming fans.

Here’s a reminder of what Wade said that night:

• “We’re not here to sell jerseys,” he said.

Except they did that, with James having the No. 1-selling jersey this year, Wade at No. 6 on that list, and the Heat ranking third in overall sales.

• “We’re not here to pump up ratings,” he said.

Except they did that, too, with the Eastern Conference finals being the most-watched series ever shown on cable.

• “Our goal is to win championships,” he said.

Here comes that chance, and for as desperate as they all are, no one likely fits that bill more than James.

He’s spoken often in recent days of how getting swept by the Spurs was humbling, a driving force for him to get better over the past four years.

“I go back and look at some of those games, I look at myself and say, ‘You are a much better player than you were then,’” James said. “That comes from playing games, playing postseason games, losing, winning.

There’s a lot of guys that have been in the finals, and lost and never got back. ... I’m humbled. I’m blessed that I’m able to get back to this point and be able to redeem myself for that time when I was in the finals against the Spurs.”

So it’s not just redemption he seeks for what’s happened over the past year.

It’s for what happened in 2007, too, and much more than that as well. He’s long been considered one of the game’s greats, but without a title, he knows that label would ring hollow.

“To be here is very humbling. It’s very satisfying at this point,” James said. “We want more.”

Kidd Is Oldest Guard To Start In NBA Finals

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Jaime Aron, The Associated Press

(May 30, 2011) Miami— After all the assists, steals, 3-pointers and triple-doubles, Jason Kidd has an easier path to his next entry in the NBA record book.

All he has to do is show up.

Kidd will become the oldest guard to start a game in an NBA finals when the Dallas Mavericks face the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

While Dirk Nowitzki calls him a “fossil,” and Shawn Marion described him as being “almost 50,” Kidd is a few months past 38. That's two years older than Ron Harper was when he started for the Lakers in 2000.

Of course, Kidd would prefer the title of oldest starting guard to win a championship. That also was set by Harper in 2000.

Winning it all is among the few things Kidd hasn't done in his 17-year career. He came close in 2002 and ‘03, reaching the finals with the New Jersey Nets, but they were swept by the Lakers then fell to the Spurs.

“I thought we were going to go on a roll in Jersey and make it three or four in a row,” Kidd said. “But, now we're here. And hopefully we can find a way to win a championship.”

If so, Kidd likely will be the one leading the way.

He still starts most fast breaks and controls the halfcourt offense. Leave him open and he'll hit a 3-pointer; he made six in the first-round opener and buried another in the final minute of overtime to win Game 4 of the conference finals.

Defense is where he's really excelled this postseason. Late in close games, coach Rick Carlisle has assigned Kidd to cover Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Carlisle has said Kidd will be among those asked to slow LeBron James in this series.

So much for taking it easy on the old man.

The only concessions to age Kidd seems to have made are playing less minutes and tolerating the flecks of gray in his beard.

“He's playing at a high level, keeping up with a lot of these young guys,” said Miami's Juwan Howard, who was drafted a few spots after Kidd in 1994-95 and is the only player older than Kidd in this series. “Normally when you're our age, people count you out. They say you don't have anything left in the tank. But as you get older in this league, you get wiser.”

Wisdom is a big part of Kidd's game.

After 1,267 regular-season games, and another 136 in the playoffs, he's pretty much seen it all. He knows what risks are worth taking and when to take them.

“We're always a better basketball team when he's our facilitator on the court, and he's getting guys in different positions and leading the offense, and helping us in our flow game,” Carlisle said. “When we've got to call plays, I'll call them once in a while, but he's great at that, too. The more he can do it, the better our team plays.”

Nowitzki sure likes having him around, and that's reason enough to value Kidd.

Nowitzki pushed for Dallas to acquire Kidd at the trade deadline in 2008, even though it meant giving up young, improving Devin Harris. It wasn't clear who got the better of that deal as the Mavs won a single playoff series in Kidd's first three postseasons.

This run to the finals should end that debate.

“It just took a while to really come into his own here,” Nowitzki said.

Kidd is under contract for one more season. However, with a lockout looming, there might not be a 2011-12 season. Thus, there's a chance this series could be it for his career.

He sure hopes that's not the case — not after the way the last two months have gone, and as big of a role as he's had in that success.

“I would love to continue to keep playing if I feel the way I do now,” he said. “I feel great. I know I'm not going to be playing 35 minutes a night. I still have a lot to give back to the game. ... I love the competition no matter at what age. And I'm a big fan of the game. Seeing these young guys play at the level that they are, I just wish I was 22, 23 years old so I can handle the game the way they do.”

Perhaps. But none of those kids are doing what they do in the NBA finals, at least not this year.

Keegan Bradley Wins First PGA Title

Source: The Associated Press

(May 30, 2011) IRVING, Texas — Walking down the 18th fairway during a playoff and realizing he was about to get his first PGA Tour victory, Keegan Bradley got emotional thinking about a cowbell.

The one that is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The one his grandmother rang after every win by his famous aunt, LPGA Tour great Pat Bradley, whose 31 victories included six majors.

“It was like pull it together, don't start thinking about the cowbell,” Keegan Bradley said. “The cowbell in my family is an iconic thing.”

Bradley settled himself and won the Byron Nelson Championship, parring the first hole of a playoff with Ryan Palmer on Sunday. Bradley sank a 2-foot par putt at the 419-yard 18th hole in the playoff, while Palmer's approach went into the water before a 13-foot bogey putt.

Bradley, a PGA Tour rookie who never won on the Nationwide Tour, got his first professional victory nine days before his 25th birthday. He looked forward to talking to his aunt.

“She is a lot calmer on the golf course than she is watching me. I'm sure she was by the TV going crazy,” Bradley said. “I talk to her regularly through text messages and phone calls about tournaments and what it's like to come down near the end. ... This is the closest thing we ever had in common in terms of playing.”

About an hour before the playoff, Bradley finished his closing round of 2-under 68 with a par at No. 18, dropping into a squat and hopping a few times in frustration when his 10-foot birdie chance slid by the hole.

Palmer (72) and Bradley finished at 3-under 277, the highest winning score on the PGA Tour this year — and the highest in relation to par in a non-major since 1999. It was the fifth playoff in six weeks and 10th overall.

Palmer forced the extra hole with a 6-foot putt at No. 18 for only the second birdie there all day. When that putt dropped, Palmer punched his right fist in the air and then raised both arms over his head.

Bradley and Palmer then played No. 18 again, both going way right with their tee shots to start the playoff.

Tournament volunteers quickly dismantled and moved a temporary lemonade stand to give Bradley, a Vermont native who played at St. John's, a line of sight to the green and avoid the necessity for a drop.

Bradley's approach was dangerously close to sliding off the side of the green into the water, but stayed up. Palmer went in the same direction but his ball didn't stay dry.

“I had a clear punch shot but it's so easy to hit it left when I'm trying to hit a punch like that, and it squared left a little bit,” he said. “Then my putt, just wanted to tease myself a little more, I guess. But I got into the position to win the golf tournament and that's all I can ask for.”

On the 172-yard 17th hole, Bradley sank a 12-foot par-saving putt and responded with an emphatic fist pump. After Bradley tapped in his par putt at No. 18, third-round leader Palmer was in one of the five groups still playing.

Bradley then sat for a few minutes before going to the practice range to prepare for a playoff that almost wasn't necessary for him to become the PGA Tour's sixth first-time winning this season.

“It was funny. I was really, really nervous and then when (Palmer) made the birdie I calmed way down,” Bradley said. “I felt my heartbeat slow down. I calmed down.”

Ryuji Imada (71) and Joe Ogilvie (70) finished a stroke back at 2 under. Imada bogeyed three of his last four holes after getting to 5 under.

Defending Nelson champion Jason Day (67) was fifth at 1 under. Only five players finished under par this week at TPC Four Seasons. There were brutal scoring conditions the last three days, particularly for both weekend rounds when the wind was sustained at 25 mph with gusts howling near 40.

After Palmer blasted from a greenside bunker to 3 feet for a birdie at the 523-yard 16th hole to get back to 3 under, he gave that stroke right back when he missed a 7-foot par putt at No. 17.

Imada was 5 under after his 11-foot birdie putt trickled in at the 170-yard 13th, then blasted out of a greenside bunker to inside a foot at 14th to save par. He missed a 3-foot par chance at No. 17 and then was unable to save par again out of a bunker on the closing hole.

“Obviously I was a little nervous out there. I haven't been in that position in a while,” said Imada, whose only victory was three years ago. “I didn't finish off like I wanted to, so it definitely leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But overall I played well.”

Sergio Garcia, the 2004 Nelson champion who hasn't won since 2008 and hasn't locked up spots this year in the U.S. Open and British Open, began the day one stroke off the lead and in the final group.

Garcia missed a 4-foot par putt on the opening hole, then slammed his putter down on his bag walking off after his bogey putt. Things only got worse from there on way to a closing 77. He had a double bogey at the par-4 fourth hole after needing four shots to go the final 12 feet — his first chip rolled back to his feet and he ended with a double bogey.

Day, the runner-up at this year's Masters, had his fourth top-10 finish in his last five tournaments.

After a bogey-free front nine with three birdies to get to 1 under for the tournament, Day was even par over a seven-hole stretch without a par on any of the holes. His birdie at No. 10 got him to 2 under before consecutive bogeys, a birdie, a double bogey and then consecutive birdies.

Bradley's playing partner was local teenage amateur Jordan Spieth, who had a rough finish. The 17-year-old player closed with two double bogeys and two bogeys for a 7-over 77 to finish at 6 over and tie for 32nd. That was 10 strokes higher than he shot last year at TPC Four Seasons, when he tied for 16th.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Raptors Fire Coach Jay Triano

Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(June 01, 2011) Jay Triano is out as head coach of the Toronto Raptors. The NBA team says it will not exercise its option on his contract for next season. Triano will be retained as a consultant and a special assistant to president and general manager Bryan Colangelo. The Raptors say the search for a new head coach will commence immediately. There is no definitive timetable for the completion of the search process. Triano, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., guided the Raptors to a record of 87-142 during his time as head coach.

Shaquille O’Neal Announces Retirement Via Twitter

Source: www.thestar.com

(June 01, 2011) BOSTON—Shaquille O’Neal says on Twitter that he’s “about to retire.” The Boston Celtics centre sent a Tweet saying, “I’m retiring.” It included a link to a 16-second video in which he says, “We did it; 19 years, baby. Thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.” Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss says that O’Neal has not notified the team of his plans. The 39-year-old won three consecutive league titles with the Los Angeles Lakers before winning one more with the Miami Heat. O’Neal started his career with Orlando and also played for Phoenix and Cleveland before finishing in Boston. Among his many awards, O’Neal was named Rookie of the Year in 1993, Most Valuable Player in 2000 and was a 15-time all-star.