20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
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                                                                                                                                    www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

June 9, 2011
 

 What a week and huge in music news including
Rihanna's concert at the ACC on Tuesday night.  Check out my recap under SCOOP this week - great show with surprise guest Drake!  Speaking of Drake, check out the story under TOP STORIES.  Some cool free outdoor film showings across the city under FILM NEWS.

Reminder to MARK YOUR CALENDARS and get your tickets now for
Truth & Soul: A Gospel Event!  A gospel extravaganza happening on July 23rd at the Rexall Centre featuring Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Maryand the Mighty Clouds of Joy.  Wow!  It's all part of the BlackCreek festival.

 Don't forget that next Sunday, June 19th is Father's Day so get your thoughts and cards a little early this year.

 Been a long week for me so I'm going to let you get right to it.  Happy to take suggestions any time you've got them, especially with regards to content.  Oh and since I usually mention the weather in Toronto, hasn't it been sublime!?

 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!

::SCOOP::

Rihanna – Brings it Out Loud to Toronto

Source: Dawn Langfield

Rihanna put on colourful, sexy show on Tuesday night with plenty of elaborate costume changes, great use and design of the ACC stage, and backed by a talented tour band.  The cast of characters appeared larger than life with Rihanna and her dancers bursting right off the stage. 

Before the concert even started, a slow rumbling of excitement moved through the audience, close to the sound board in the VIP section.  And there he was, perhaps one of Rihanna’s biggest fans, Toronto’s own
Drake.  The crowd grew increasingly excited that perhaps he may grace the stage.  But I had heard that he was present at her concert the previous night but did not perform. 

I am a Rihanna fan and really like her LOUD CD, so to witness her concert was a great opportunity to see how her show may have changed since last year and to witness her growth from the young girl in Pon de Replay to the full grown global superstar, with her own message of attempting to empower girls.  The show seemed less motivated by anger than the Last Girl on Earth tour and appeared that the young Bajan (Barbados) was having fun, acting coy and I think I even caught a glimpse of her being a little timid when she addressed the crowd.  Rihanna performed like a professional working the crowd into a frenzy on several occasions, specifically during Love the Way you Lie, Unfaithful and the controversial tracks S&M and Man Down. 

Fast forward, and as the music queued up for What’s My Name, out Drake comes, to the deafening roar of the crowd.  Drake even gave us a taste, performing Far From Over, I'm On One and of course, one of the highlights of the night, What’s My Name?, performed with Rihanna - a very sexy and playful performance with Drake exiting mid-song. 

Rihanna seemed to pay tribute to some of her influences and perhaps some well-known concert routines.  The bold performer selected a male from the audience (a female in most other cities) and laid him down while grinding him to the song Skin, then quickly disappeared under the stage (aka Janet Jackson).  One of my favourite performances was Prince’s Darling Nikki, wearing a feminine tuxedo and dancing seductively with her dancers.  Quickly following that was her rendition of Sheila E’s Glamorous Life, complete with a drum solo in the middle of the ACC. 

I know there are naysayers out there, but I personally found the show very engaging, fun, and dare I say, very sexy.  Rihanna seems to have gained confidence that suggests she is more grounded and perhaps even happy.  There is no doubt that she can sing live and maintain the gruelling pace of a live 2 hour show.  One of the signs of a dedicated and talented artist. 

For more photos, go to my Facebook here.

::TOP STORIES::

BlackCreek Fest Opens On A High Note

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(Jun 05, 2011) The music was excellent, but the road to the Greater Toronto Area's latest and greatest summer music extravaganza was paved with gridlock.

On Saturday night, 8,000 fans of opera and song converged on the Rexall Centre — a tennis stadium built on the western edge of the York University campus — for the premiere of the Capital One
BlackCreek Summer Music Festival.

Rather than start modestly and gradually build an audience from scratch, the festival has been hatched in full blockbuster mode, aiming to rival such long-established summer celebrations as Lanaudière outside Montreal, Tanglewood in Massachusetts, or Ravinia in Illinois.

In the go-big-or-go-home vein, the evening's headliner was the single biggest draw available in the opera world today:
Placido Domingo. At age 70, the tenor still circles the globe as a veritable vocal Energizer Bunny, and he was joined by one of the most powerful singers living in Canada today: Caledon-based soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

Backing them up in a program of operatic, Neapolitan and Broadway chestnuts was a fine chorus, prepared by Robert Cooper, and an excellent orchestra of local musicians, led by American conductor Eugene Kohn.

Domingo is past his prime vocally, but even so, his art and craft still trump most younger singers strutting the world's stages.

Domingo began his portion of the evening with the popular “O, souverain” aria from Jules Massenet's Le Cid, as if daring anyone to doubt his continuing ability to both dig deep dramatically and ring true in the money notes. Radvanovsky is, to put it simply, a force of nature.

Both are deeply committed to whatever piece of music they happen to be singing — be it an extended scene from Verdi's opera Simon Boccanegra, or the “Tonight” duet from West Side Story.

They gave the program their all, and the audience responded in kind. The result was that wonderful, under-the-stars alchemy that draws crowds to open-air festivals.

The Rexall Centre turned out to be a satisfying venue. A bare-bones concrete and cinder-block tennis stadium, it proved to be remarkably intimate-feeling. The tall, canopied stage occupied the west face of the stadium, leaving room for about 8,000 people to enjoy the view directly or via three jumbo screens.

The audio system was excellent, failing to produce a clear, amplified sound only once, when everyone on stage was going full-tilt in the Triumphal Chorus from Verdi's Aida.

Equally satisfying was the silence in and around the venue — when we couldn't hear planes taking off from and landing at Pearson Airport.

The only significant detractors from an otherwise fabulous evening were the cold — not a common problem at summer festivals — and the difficulties in getting to the event by car. Organizers had to postpone the concert by 30 minutes to give drivers enough time to navigate the gridlock at the main entrances to the York campus, and then find a place to park.

Motorists jostled for position, barely containing their rage at the intersection of Murray Ross Parkway and Steeles Avenue before the concert. And once on the campus grounds, they careened over lush, green lawns to commandeer any free space. A festival spokesperson admitted there were problems in getting motorists settled and said organizers would try to do better for James Taylor's concert on June 25, the festival's next event.

If the traffic woes can be fixed, and if Mother Nature decides to show us some heat, BlackCreek will have rightly earned a spot alongside its more established peers.

Bloor Cinema To Close For "Undetermined Length Of Time" On June 30

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

(Jun 02, 2011) UPDATED: The venerable Bloor Cinema, home to cult screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Dark Side of Oz, is closing for "an undetermined length of time" June 30 for renovations.

That's the official word Friday, in a post on the theatre's website:

"The Bloor Cinema is closing for an undetermined length of time on June 30th for renovations. An announcement will be made on or about July 1st regarding the scope of the renovations and the re-opening. Membership cards will no longer be available for the remainder of the month."

Word on the closing broke Thursday night from usually reliable blog source Jonathan Goldsbie, who Tweeted:

"Bloor Cinema closing for 2–4 months of renovations, likely beginning July 1st. They will announce this as early as tomorrow."

The Bloor recently helped host the Hot Docs festival. The theatre's web page shows no screening past a June 29 evening showing of The Big Lebowski.

Since the Bloor will be MIA for the summer, Rocky and Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz fans will just have to console themselves with home parties. For the latter, remember to click on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon" once the MGM lion roars three times at the start of The Wizard of Oz.

Drake’s Former Manager “Andrew Wilson” Busted For Fraud

Source:  http://diaryofahollywoodstreetking.com

(May 20, 2011) HSK Exclusive - The man who once served as manager to Canadian actor and recording artist, Drake, is behind bars after a two-year long investigation by Toronto cops lead to Andrew Wilson – also known as Drew Wilson, Drew Dazzle and Ken Jackson – being charged with 14 cases of fraud relating to falsifying documents, impersonation, possession of property obtained by crime and obtaining credit under false pretenses.

Canadian investigators say Wilson has been forging documents for more than a decade to rent lavish condos, buy luxury vehicles and take extravagant vacations. But, the 39-year-old conman seems to be a two-bit hustler — police seized a five-year-old Ranger Rover, $4,500 IN FURNITURE, and big screen television … My leather jackets cost more than the furniture dude is in jail for.

“He tried to create the persona of a high roller, someone who made lots of money,” said Detective Al Verwey. “In the entertainment world, Andrew Wilson presented himself as the leader of several companies specializing in promotions and celebrity management — companies that, for the most part, didn’t exist.”

Wilson claims he’s the CEO of a company called “Dealmaker Entertainment” on his “Drew Dazzle” Facebook and MySpace pages, and tweets to his followers “I love a great deal any where I can find it in the world.” Really? ANY WHERE? Or, did you mean ANYWHERE, Mr. Wilson?

We’re told Wilson was spotted in Toronto with Drake just last week…days before he was busted. Wilson is said to be responsible for packaging Drake’s material, in Canada – ultimately making the artist known here in America.

Andrew Wilson is back behind the bars of Maplehurst Correctional Complex, where he once served a two-year sentence. That’s the same detention facility where G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks was held after an alleged assault on Chris Hines, in Canada.

I hope Drake keeps his distance from this conman. If he doesn’t, he may be Andrew Wilson’s next victim. Don’t you agree?

 

::MUSIC NEWS::

Ammoye is Canada’s Female Artist of the Year!

Source: 
www.L3Magazine.com

(Jun 07, 2011) If you had asked Ammoye 2 years ago what her musical life would look like in 2011, she wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer.  Today, she smiles humbly as the news continues to sink in that she is the 2011-2012 Female Artist of the Year.

The honour comes from the recently held Achievement Awards for Reggae music which took place in Toronto on Saturday June 4th, 2011.  “I am so happy,” said Ammoye.  “I’m happy that we were able to achieve this.  We did it as a team so this award is for all of us!”

Winning the award comes as a pre-curser to Ammoye’s busy schedule.  Her latest studio projects which are produced by Danny Maestro, KemarFlava’ McGregor and Tony Anthony, sees the singer give fans more one drop Reggae.  The artist also has a busy performance schedule as she takes the stage on three of Canada’s most high profile events being Jamaica Day – Toronto, Jambana and the Montreal Reggae Festival.  She also leaves for Serbia’s Exit Festival where she will perform for 150,000 fans over three days.  It doesn’t stop there!

Ammoye will be releasing an EP in September called ‘Bad Gyal’ which is being executive produced by Dubmatix.  The EP will be the prelude to her album which is scheduled to be released in 2012, and builds on the heels of the success of her album ‘Haffi Win’ which was produced by Ottawa’s Rise Ashen for the Balanced Records label.

Ammoye will be one of the featured artists performing at the NXNE event in Toronto at Lula Lounge on June 15th!  Media can preview / play / download Ammoye's debut hit single "Lost Love" produced by Courtney John by clicking
this link!

Stay up to date with all things Ammoye!  Twitter
@AmmoyesMusic.  For booking and management inquiries, e-mail kayaentgrp@gmail.com.  For media inquiries, L3Publicity@gmail.com
www.balanced-records.com

Look out for Ammoye's feature in L3 Magazine coming soon!

Shania Twain Announces 2-Year Vegas Residency

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Allison Cross

(Jun 08, 2011) Canadian superstar Shania Twain will have a two-year performance run at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas starting on Dec. 1, 2012.

The Windsor-born country pop singer announced her new headline show, called Still the One, using a video montage streamed live on her website Wednesday afternoon.

Following in the footsteps of music icons Céline Dion and Elton John, Twain will perform 60 shows per year.

“I’m beyond excited. I feel like I’m on the top of the world,” said Twain at a news conference in Nashville after the announcement. “I feel like I’ve climbed a very giant mountain and I’m standing right on top.”

Twain is in Nashville to be a presenter at the CMT Music Awards.

“I feel I am about to step into a world of endless creative possibilities,” she said. “This is a dream for any performing artist.”

Twain was in Toronto last month signing copies of her new memoir, From This Moment On.

In the new book, she explained how her ex-husband’s infidelity left her devastated and temporarily unable to sing in front of an audience.

“I’ve gotten to the bottom of it and I’m addressing it,” said Twain, about her singing problems. “Sharing it with the public has been a very big part of addressing it. I’m singing more … I know I can do it.”

American Express presale tickets will be available tonight as Twain takes the stage at the CMT Music Awards.

Tickets will go on sale June 19.

Violent video is art with a message, says Rihanna

Rihanna, seen here performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York, May 27, 2011, tweeted that her violent new video has a “very strong underlying...

BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

By Mesfin Fekadu
Jun 03, 2011
 

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Rihanna is defending her latest music video, which opens with a man being shot in the head.

“Man Down,” which premiered Tuesday on BET, is a song about a girl who shoots her abuser in public. The video also portrays sexual assault.

On Tuesday, the Parents Television Council called the clip “disturbing” and asked BET to stop airing it.

But on Thursday’s “106 & Park,” BET’s music video countdown show, Rihanna said the video is “art with a message.”

“We just wanted to hone in on a very serious matter that people are afraid to address, especially if you’ve been victimized in this scenario,” Rihanna said.

BET says it will continue to play the video, explaining that the network “has a comprehensive set of standards and guidelines that are applied to all of our content” and that Rihanna’s video “complied with these guidelines and was approved for air.”

MTV hasn’t played the video. A MTV representative said they’re “in the process of reviewing the video.”

Rihanna, who was attacked by then-boyfriend Chris Brown in February 2009, says she doesn’t agree with violence.

Brown attacked Rihanna on the eve of the Grammys two years ago. He pleaded guilty to a felony and was sentenced to five years’ probation.

“I’ve been abused in the past and you don’t see me running around killing people in my spare time,” she said.

But the 23-year-old says rape happens too often and those victims need a voice.

“If I can be a voice for so many that aren’t heard, then I win twice,” she said.

The “Man Down” clip was directed by Anthony Mandler, who has directed other Rihanna videos.

The Grammy winner says she didn’t intend to make a controversial music video. She was hoping to display her acting skills and create “something raw and artistic.”

The video for “Man Down” has not yet appeared on iTunes. A rep for iTunes said that decision is up to the label.

An email seeking comment from Rihanna’s record label went unreturned Thursday.

“Lady Marmalade” Labelle To Get BET Lifetime Achievement

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Sandy Cohen

(Jun 07, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Patti LaBelle will be recognized for her five decades in music and Steve Harvey will be honoured for his philanthropic contributions at this year’s BET Awards.

BET says LaBelle will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and Harvey will accept the Humanitarian Award at the annual ceremony, which honours actors, athletes, musicians, movies and music videos.

This year’s top nominee is Chris Brown, who is up for six awards and is set to perform on the live show. Jill Scott and Alicia Keys are also slated to perform.

The BET Awards ‘11 will air live June 26 from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on BET.

Anna Calvi: An Air Of Silver-Screen Woman Of Mystery

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon

(June 5, 2011) Let's get down to brass tacks: English singer-guitarist Anna Calvi in an interview isn't the intense seductress she is while performing. Speaking from the road, as she continues down the lonesome highway of her current North American tour, promoting her self-titled debut album, her voice is timid. The words barely leave her lips.

It's very different from her stage persona, which conjures strong, romantic images of intrigue and lust in exotic locations, say, war-addled Tangier or prohibition-era Chicago. Born, reared and still living in London, trained in classical violin and with a degree in music under her belt, Calvi nevertheless gives the air of silver-screen woman of mystery. Here, she provides some - just some - clues about what's running through her head as she transports the rest of us musically.

You've talked about creating worlds for your songs to inhabit. What does that world look like? Is there a place you evoke for a lot of what you do?

Each song is different. They are all like mini-films in my head, and I imagine the way they look completely.

So songwriting is very much a cinematic exercise for you?

It comes from an emotional sense, willing to share something with people. The emotions create an atmosphere or picture, something very visual.

And then you carry that with intensity onstage, singing directly to the audience. Is that natural for you, or are you trying to take yourself out of your comfort zone?

I always felt making music is such a natural thing to do, it really brings out the strength in me. I find it's the easiest and most fulfilling way to express myself. But it's still daring. It's not like it's easy. 'Comfort zone' makes it feel lazy, but it's not. It's very natural and challenging at the same time.

Do you always look at people directly in the eye as much as you do onstage?

I find it easier to be confrontational onstage than I do in real life. I would look at you in real life, but it would be a different look than if I saw you in the audience.

Given the cinematic ideas in your songs, who do you see when you look at someone from the stage? Is it simply a person in the audience or do you imagine someone else?

I see that person. Sometimes people engage, and we have this bizarrely intimate moment. Or sometimes they're scared, and they look away.

Your guitar playing and singing often sound very much like two separate voices, rather than you simply accompanying yourself. Do you feel that way?

I hear the guitar as a voice. All the inflections you get speaking and singing, the bending of notes, the way you interpret words, I approach it in the same way with the guitar. As a performer, it's the idea that every note that you play or sing is really important, and you need to be present and give everything to every single note. That's what I hear with players that I love, like Miles Davis. It was as much about how he played a note [as] what the note actually was. That's something I think a lot about. I like to imagine my guitar as [if it's] other instruments, and that helps me be imaginative in my playing.

Has anyone ever tried to steer you in a direction you didn't want to go in, musically or image-wise?

No, I don't think anyone would dare really. I don't mean that in an arrogant way. I just wouldn't have any time for anyone [like that].

Do you have similar influences, performers who came across strongly on stage, but also were revealing with their innermost emotions?

Yeah, Edith Piaf. And Maria Callas in particular was very inspiring in how strong she was in her conviction as an artist, her dedication to music. Nina Simone, I suppose, as well. People who gave everything to their music.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Bruno Mars Oozes Cynicism, But Janelle Monaé Dazzles

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Fiona Morrow

Hooligans in Wondaland
Bruno Mars and Janelle Monaé
At Rogers Arena in Vancouver On Friday

(June 4, 2011) Okay, I admit it: I have a bit of a soft spot for
Bruno Mars' easy-breezy, sand-in-your-toes, reggae-infused pop. On a grey Vancouver day, with dishes in the sink, Mars' soft and sweet crooning can lift a gal's spirit.

Heck, who doesn't want a guy telling them they would take a grenade for them from time to time?

But, as I discovered Friday night in Vancouver, I really can't stomach Bruno in the flesh. He turned out to be a shameless hussy of a heartthrob, twitching his crotch in slow motion and pawing his hyperventilating fans with a self-satisfied stream of carefully constructed aural sex.

Yes, he can sing and dance, and his band - including a most welcome horn section - is tight. The retro rock 'n' roll references give upbeat numbers like Runaway an undeniably appealing swing. But it was downright painful watching him turn Our First Time into a mass dry hump, and pause The Lazy Song to repeat the "have some nice sex" line over and over.

It all seemed so obvious and pedestrian; so cynical and exploitative. A cover of the old Motown hit Money (That's What I Want) never felt so apt. This was not art, but commerce, baby.

Not so the prodigiously talented co-headliner
Janelle Monaé. Bundle together James Brown, Prince and the best of Michael Jackson, throw in a pinch of Grace Jones, a dash of classic sci-fi, a twist of Gene Kelly and you'll get an idea of how extraordinary this young woman is.

No easy listening here: Monaé's critically acclaimed debut album The Arch Android is a hugely ambitious concept affair, at once symphonic and down-and-dirty funkalicious.

On stage, she proved herself equally miraculous, an unabashedly theatrical musical polyglot able to pull off covers of songs as diverse as Charlie Chaplin's Smile and the Jackson 5's I Want You Back, before plunging into the toe-tapping frenzy of her own Cold War or Tightrope.

Dressed in her signature tuxedo pants and white shirt, her hair primped into a mile-high pompadour, Monaé was perhaps just too original for a crowd that had turned out to hear Mars sing Beautiful Girls and mean it just for them.

You could feel the collective quizzical shrug as she zombie-walked and hissed her way through Come Alive, or stood at an easel painting a naked female form while singing Mushrooms and Roses, a song she dedicated to the freedom to love.

But hopefully this mismatched Hooligans line up won't faze her, because she was worth the ticket price alone.

As Bruno would say: Girl you're amazing, just the way you are.

Dallas Green’s Softer Side Up

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Jun 04, 2011) St. Catharines songsmith Dallas Green has unwittingly become the frontman for not one, but two, of Canada’s biggest grassroots success stories — “screamo” noisemakers Alexisonfire and the much mellower and more ruminative City and Colour — yet somehow he remains a picture of Lebowski-esque unflappability in the face of what could be an intensely stressful situation.

With the release of City and Colour’s third album, Little Hell, looming large this Tuesday, Green is confronted with the very real possibility that the band most observers know as a heart-on-the-sleeve side project pursued during his time away from AoF’s mercurial thrashing might very soon eclipse his day job in prominence.

It certainly seems to be going that way. City and Colour’s first two albums were certified platinum in Canada, actually outselling Alexisonfire’s last record, 2009’s Old Crows/Young Cardinals. Little Hell, meanwhile, is being teed up with a full-on international onslaught that’s recently seen Green headlining London’s Royal Albert Hall, playing to a full house at Stubb’s during this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin and landing big-ticket festival slots this summer at Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. City and Colour also headlines the inaugural Sugar Beach Session at the Corus Entertainment building on the lakeshore this Monday night.

Green, for his part, maintains that he has no plans to leave Alexisonfire to concentrate on airing his sensitive side and wooing the ladies — and the ladies really do love Dallas Green — full-time with City and Colour, once a solo, acoustic pursuit but now a stable three-piece band featuring ex-Raising the Fawn members Scott Remila and Dylan Green and occasionally Attack in Black’s Daniel Romano. The affable rocker spoke to the Star recently about his double life.

So do you have to specifically parcel out time for Alexisonfire and City and Colour or do you just let life’s naturally occurring rhythms dictate what you do as they will?

I just play my guitar and things sort of appear. You know what I mean? I don’t mean it to sound as mythical as that, but if I’m playing guitar and an idea comes up, usually pretty much right away I’ll know if it needs to be just me and a guitar or if, from there, I should move on to “Loudville,” I guess you could say. But most of the songs — pretty much all of them — on this album, I wrote while being on tour with Alexis.

Is City and Colour a quiet respite from the punk-rock shenanigans of Alexisonfire, then?

I think so. But with Alexis, most of the time we’ve come off tour and we have a certain amount of time allotted to make a record so we go into a room together for weeks on end and write songs, whereas with the City and Colour thing I’ve always just accumulated songs over a span of time and then made a record. So it’s a different process, right? It’s not “I have to make a record, I have to write a record.” It’s like: “Oh, I’ve got 13 songs written. Maybe I’ll make a record.”

Little Hell is a lot more fleshed-out and varied instrumentally than its predecessors. Were you consciously trying to broaden City and Colour’s palette beyond its guy-with-a-guitar beginnings?

I wrote some songs that started taking more full-band shape when I was demoing them in my basement because I had those ideas popping around. If I wrote a riff that I thought sounded good with drums, I would go and record drums to it and demo it and see what it would sound like. I didn’t want to suppress an idea because certain people might expect a City and Colour record to sound a certain way. I don’t really look at it like that. If it’s a good song, it’s a good song, no matter what it sounds like.

It seems a bit foolish to have expectations of what a City and Colour record should or shouldn’t sound like at this point, given the ground you cover between your two bands.

Coming from where most people know me to come from and putting out the first City and Colour record, I’m obviously into doing different stuff. And if you’ve come to see me play with City and Colour in the last five years, you know I have a band and we take old songs and we turn them into full-band songs and I do songs by myself and I do covers and whatnot. I guess, at this point, you should expect the unexpected.

You did the new album at Catherine North studio in Hamilton not long after its founder — and your friend — Dan Achen passed away. Did that colour the results at all?

It definitely threw everything up in the air. I got a text message two weeks before Dan died, from Dan, saying “Hey, you should come down to the church — I’ve got the tape machine running” because we’d been talking about how I had some more songs. So once he passed away, like I said, everything kinda went up in the air because I’d never worked with a producer before and when I made the record with Dan he basically just engineered it – I wrote and recorded the songs I wanted to record. There was a comfort level there. And I loved working at the church because it was a beautiful place. So I wanted to go back there to pay homage to Dan and, also, if I could help keep the place open by making a record there, then I wanted to do that because I think it’s a beautiful place to make music. Especially for what I’m doing. The vibe just lends itself to it . . . When I told Alex Newport, who produced it, the whole back story, right away he thought it was a really good idea to go there because of all the elements involved. And the first few days, it was a real struggle. The tape machine kept breaking and it just seemed like it was a bad idea and I was worried. But everything turned out okay.

You’re straddling two very respectable and very successful rock ‘n’ roll gigs right now. How’s that going for you?

It’s been weird. It’s a tough situation, but it’s a good situation to be in, obviously. The more the merrier, I guess you could say. But it’s definitely been difficult. I mean, you just look at it on paper and you say: ‘Wow, how do you do that?’ ”

Are you worried one might come to overshadow the other?

That’s not necessarily within my control, especially the way I’ve been doing it. I just kinda do them. It’s not like I go out of my way to make one bigger than the other and it’s not something that I think about. Obviously, there will come a point where — I don’t know — I’ll have a nervous breakdown or something like that but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. This is also something I had been doing before Alexis. A lot of the songs on the first record were songs I had written and released as demos when I was playing around St. Catharines as just a guy and a guitar. So to the general public it was, like, Dallas putting a side project out, but at the same time it was, like: “Well, not really. I’ve been doing this.” No one was listening to me back then. We just started a screaming punk band so people would listen to the songs I’d written before.

Del Junco Harps On Variety, And More

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

Roots
CARLOS DEL JUNCO & THE BLUES MONGRELS
Mongrel Mash (Big Reed Records)

(Jun 06, 2011) It's not likely that you'll ever hear the harmonica played so well and in so many different ways than at the hands of Cuban-born Torontonian Carlos del Junco. But what makes his album an especial treat is the sheer let's-do-it positive energy that radiates from the eclectic collection of nine tracks. Mongrel Mash refers to the crazy mix of styles, ranging from deep, heavy-duty blues-rock (“Mojo”) to Herb Alpert's slightly cheesy “Slick,” and jivin' “Lil' Laptop” to sweet, rootsy ballad “The Field,” which arrives via languid dobro set-up. Del Junco may be the headliner, but the songs and arrangements shine the light on an excellent band of equals who all get some time in the sonic spotlight. There is something here to put a smile on anyone's face — and it only gets better with each listen. My favourite: Del Junco's own “My Favourite Uncle,” a gently hip-swinging sweep down Louisiana way. Check out the band's CD release party at Hugh's Room on June 11.


Jazz

JANE BUNNETT & HILARIO DURAN

Cuban Rhapsody (Alma Records)

Here is a very pleasant, easy-listening stroll through the kinder, gentler side of the Cuban Songbook. It's been nearly 20 years since Toronto jazz sax and flute player Jane Bunnett made her first musical discoveries in Cuba, turning her into a champion of the island-nation's artists and rich musical heritage. One of her lasting musical attachments has been to pianist Hilario Duran, who now lives in Toronto as well. The duo's ease with each other is palpable on all 10 tracks, creating a sound that often seems as if it's been created by people floating a few centimetres above the floor. Bunnett alternates between alto sax and flute, as suits the mood of each song, while Duran works out the ever-shifting harmonic and rhythmic underpinnings at the piano. The least successful of the tracks is a set of five Contradanzas in need of slicker transitions. My favourite track is not vintage Cuban music but rather Duran's own “New Danzón,” which kicks up the energy level several notches from gentle nostalgia to visceral engagement, rendered with adventurous melodic and harmonic sonic palettes. Hear Bunnett and Duran perform songs from the album live-to-air on JazzFM (91.1) at 7 p.m. tonight.

Classical

LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has a real gem in Russian-born principal conductor Vladimir Jurowski. He is one of those rare leaders who can bump up the dramatic content of the music he touches without ever sending the effects over the top. This very generous, live recording features sparkling interpretations of Dmitri Shostakovich's Pianos Concertos Nos 1 & 2 with soloist Martin Helmchen. As well done as these performances are, they are totally eclipsed by a deeply moving take on the composer's 1940 Piano Quintet in G minor performed by Helmchen and the orchestra's principal strings. The interpretation manages to capture that elusive balance between hot and cold, light and dark at the core of the composer's music.

Opera DVD

GLYNDEBOURNE FESTIVAL

Mozart Don Giovanni (EMI)

From the opening chords of the Overture of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's immortal Don Giovanni, we know we're in for something special in this new production by Jonathan Kent for last summer's Glyndebourne season in England. Opera lovers have seen every conceivable sort of production, but few offer as fine a balance of stage action and fine singing as this stylish, modern-dress effort headlined by Canadian baritone Gerald Finley the womanizing Don Juan. The rest of the cast, including the amazing Luca Pisaroni as Leporello, Kate Royal as Donna Elvira and Anna Samuil as Donna Anna, is excellent, and everything makes dramatic sense. The orchestral score — a version revised for performances in Vienna in 1788 — is particularly vibrant coming from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and conductor Vladimir Jurowski. This one's a keeper.

Musicians May Mourn MySpace

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Jun 03, 2011) It feels like MySpace has been the butt of every social media joke for almost two years. Lapped by rival services, the hits just keep on coming, whether it is in new mocking viral videos or last year's Buzzfeed post about the “eight groups of people who still use MySpace.”

The hard numbers bear out the truth in those jokes: recent Comscore tracking noted that visits have gone down 43 per cent in the previous two months, and the amount of time users spend there is dwindling, too, as people move to other services.

While some might question who is still visiting it, MySpace's massive audience and its initial focus on music used to — in some ways, still does — provide the most convenient one-stop place to quickly sample music by an artist. Though a other services are trying to step up and take its place, none are doing things as simply as the site did.

According to bands and music marketers in town, the lack of that central spot means more of an effort to be everywhere is necessary.

But even in these waning days, MySpace is still space your artist has to visit.

“Every new band that I sign, we get them to do a MySpace (page). For good or for bad. It's definitely still up there in things that we use,” says Eric Alper, director of media relations at eOne Music Canada.

Alper, who is a power Twitter user, admits that part of the problem is the stigma of a site that is feels like it is losing its influence by the day.

“Whenever I post something on MySpace on Twitter, I brace myself, because I know I'm going to get insults. People are pretty vocal about MySpace, they almost have a hatred for it, as if they let them down in some way: ‘It could have been so good.' Well, it was really good for years.

“They had a lot of really great ideas but they had to play within the rules of what the music industry allowed them to do.”

Perhaps as a result, the site's hurting; it's losing bales of money and this week a deadline set by its owner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., came and went with no one having met the desired price of $100 million (US). (News Corp. bought it in 2005 for $560 million.)

Alper pegs the downfall as starting when the site stopped allowing music downloads, a step the site took to create better relationships with the music industry.

“The thing that I liked about MySpace was if I'm going to a show and I don't know a band and want to check them out quickly, I know that's the music that they want people to hear,” says Ben Fox, lead singer of up-and-coming local band Dinosaur Bones. “I kind of like the idea that the band is in control of what it up there for people to hear.”

Asked if he feels stressed about having to manage all the various online entities of the band, Fox just says it is part of the gig now.

“Having everything all in one place was convenient, for sure,” he says. “But it's not that much trouble. Especially as a new artist, its invaluable having people have access to your music. Realistically, there are only three things that we control and keep on top of. Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. (Music site) Bandcamp is a new one to me, it's definitely seemingly on the rise. They are all good and effective ways of keeping in touch with the people that are into your music, and bands need to be accessible as possible now.”

He also doesn't mind illegal file-sharing services posting their music — he sees it as part of building the band's profile.

As the single-page template dies, musicians are getting more creative about how to use the web; the Streets tweeted an entire album's worth of songs.

“For the new F--ked Up record, the band just put up three songs on YouTube with the album cover as the visual. That worked pretty well for them,” says Rebecca Webster, principal of Webster Media Consulting, which reps groups like the Toronto hardcore band and Arcade Fire.

“Part of the problem is that the entire music industry is in a holding pattern. Everyone is waiting for the next big thing,” says Alper. “What's really funny is that no one wants to own anything now. It's all about streaming. Well, MySpace was doing that five years ago.”

Where to now?

Other music sharing options:

The band's website: Almost every band has its own website, but the issue is the varying quality. There's usually some music to hear, but often it's only a song or two. It's a great way to stay in touch with existing fans.

Facebook: The social component is something most new music services aren't bothering with, simply because Facebook is king when it comes to that. Band fan pages are a good spot for keeping up with news, but on the other hand, there's no centralized place to post music and keep it prominent — as with most newsfeeds, if another post is placed, it moves previous items down.

Bandcamp: This site is experiencing a lot of growth, as bands move in. It's geared to sell music, and has lots of good options for bands to offer free lower-quality tracks and generally control what happens to their music.

Soundcloud: Clearly geared toward musicians, this site is built to host your music and share it across other platforms. Its algorithm detects copyrighted versions of songs, even if it's buried in the mix, thwarting pirates and sometimes DJs. Definitely not a bad place to look if you know what you are looking for.

Streaming services: This is where all the experts predict the action will be. There's Rdio, an ad-free subscription service that offers unlimited music for $4.99 a month. Spotify is a service that is available in Europe and has already become quite successful there.

Digital music locker services: iTunes, Amazon and Google are working on their two separate offerings, although right now, getting the rights clearances are holding these back. Apple is ahead of the game on this, reportedly having signed a few labels already. Amazon and Google are both having trouble getting the music industry to sign on, and may be attempting to use legal finagling to get their solutions to market. These services are built on allowing you to listen to your already-purchased music on the go, so it's unknown how effective they will be as a music-discovery service.

Polaris Preview: Our Picks For Best Canadian Album

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Robert Everett-Green, Brad Wheeler And Carl Wilson

(June 3, 2011) Only five? That must be a common lament, when 228 music writers, bloggers and broadcasters receive their annual Polaris Prize ballot, with five spaces for each voter's choice of the best Canadian albums of the year ending May 31. But only five isn't nearly as harsh as just one, which is where this process will end when the 2011 Polaris winner is announced in September. Till then, there are two rounds of voting and a long and short list of nominees, revealed at intervals to ratchet up the suspense. Here are three voters' thoughts on who should make the first cut, which will be announced on June 16:

ROBERT EVERETT-GREEN'S PICKS:

Castlemusic by Jennifer Castle: Castle's main subject in this short intense album is nothing less than the mystery of life and death, and the sharp but fluid space that lies between. The songs are simple, the performances deeply resonant, and haunted by memory.

Disaster Fantasies by Selina Martin: She alone survived to tell the tale, and it's told with humour and force, while the nostrils tingle at the smell of blood still running fresh from a wound that may never close. A great record from one of the most overlooked talents in Canadian music.

Native Speaker by Braids: This Calgary quartet, now based in Montreal, makes music the way the sea handles water, by overlapping simple elements to produce overwhelming effects. Its buoyant debut album of urban electronic folk songs feels timeless yet startling, like a field holler bursting from the metropolis.

Femmes de Chez Nous by Christine Fellows: Personal and historical narratives flow together in Fellows's album-long séance, written while in residence at a Winnipeg heritage building where Louis Riel went to school. A poetic, rustic yet sophisticated collection of superb new songs.

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire: The band that once sang of innocence eternal follows the worm of experience into the apple of our lives, and sees no way back to a freer state that may have been an illusion. The Suburbs is a deeply felt, wisely ambivalent take on past, present and the lies we live by.

BRAD WHEELER'S PICKS

Small Source of Comfort by Bruce Cockburn: If a Bruce Cockburn album falls in a Polaris forest, does anybody hear? Probably not, which is a shame, because the man's latest is colourful, dynamic and awfully listenable.

Sleep Beneath the Willow by Daniel Romano: A dreamy homage to a bygone country-music era - an antidote to new country.

Oh Little Fire by Sarah Harmer: Graceful and a little spunky, Sarah Harmer writes the heck out of her songs.

20 Odd Years by Buck 65: I really like the latest albums from Gord Downie and Jenn Grant, but here those two and others lend their voices and spirits generously with the mad beat-scientist from Nova Scotia.

Le Noise by Neil Young: A guy with a guitar and an amplifier - and, oh yeah, Daniel Lanois as producer.

CARL WILSON'S PICKS

Kaputt by Destroyer: No musical form's ever suited the sly, standup-surrealist verbal riffs of Vancouver's Dan Bejar like this record's Quiet Storm synth groove, a flirtation with the kitsch abyss that's like seeing someone do the Hustle on the lip of a volcano.

Ravedeath, 1972 by Tim Hecker: Recordings of an Icelandic pipe organ are degraded and distended in a noise battle that doubles as allegory for the tension between musical ideas and the technologies used to realize them: The cover (prize-worthy in itself) is a vintage photo of a gang of students pushing a piano off a roof.

New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges by Colin Stetson: Could this resettled Yank (and Arcade Fire crony) have the Polaris's first short-listed jazz/improv album? A tour de force of exertion and invention, Stetson's solo-sax sojourn recasts Pharoah Sanders or Roland Kirk for a more rootless age. And guest vocals from Laurie Anderson don't hurt.

At Last by Eternia & Moss: With strong female rappers in short supply, Ottawa-born Eternia evokes the old-school womanist hip-hop of Queen Latifah or MC Lyte, spitting frank bars on sex, substance abuse and self-respect over Moss's propulsive beats.

Too Beautiful to Work by The Luyas: Half this Montreal quartet is from Bell Orchestre, including Pierre Amato, who plays the bitchin'est French horn in rock 'n' roll. Their perpetual-motion music is indebted to Stereolab and Krautrock (with past Polaris winner Owen Pallett assisting on strings), but it's Jessie Stein's coy vocals that instil tender, quizzical soul.

Robyn Opens Venue In Style

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Krewen

(Jun 04, 2011) Swedish electro-pop star Robyn christened Toronto's newest general admission concert venue — the 4,000-person-capacity Echo Beach — Friday night with a core set that surprisingly lasted less than an hour.

Sure, a couple of encores stretched out the proceedings to just under 75 minutes, but the first 45 of them, which she spent showcasing the majority of her three 2010 Body Talk EPs, seemed more like a warm-up for a payoff that never quite materialized.

Sporting a blond bowl cut and dressed in a weirdly patterned pantsuit, Robyn Carlsson — returning to Toronto after a January sellout at the Sound Academy — spent most of her time trying to transform the new outdoor venue into a club under the stars.

For the most part, the elfin singer succeeded.

She cajoled the crowd to join her as she danced uninhibitedly, twirling in circles like a whirling dervish to the throbbing synthesizers and thumping percussion being pumped out by the two electric drummers and two keyboardists flanking her on stage.

The audience became caught up in the infectious rhythms, throwing caution to the wind as strobe lights ruthlessly flashed bright colours.

The high-energy dance numbers and feverish tempos flowed relentlessly and seamlessly from one song to another, as Robyn gave herself an intense workout that would exhaust most aerobics instructors, breaking only briefly at the 35-minute mark to take a swig of water.

“We Dance to the Beat” and — from 2005's self-titled album — “Cobrastyle” kept the crowd grooving in sync, but the concert escalated to a new height when Robyn launched into “Dancing on My Own,” a song about an embarrassed and heartbroken woman witnessing her romantic partner cheat on her with another.

Seems that one struck a chord with a lot of folks, and for a brief three or four minutes, the gigantic singalong indicated that the special sense of community among the 30-ish audience was at its peak.

Unfortunately, Robyn couldn't maintain that level of momentum for the duration of the show, even when detouring into the arpeggio-dominant “Hang With Me” and the rocking groove of “U Should Know.” A ballad rendition of her hit “Show Me Love” ended the evening on a slightly subdued note.

Two opening acts — Toronto's Diamond Rings and the U.K.'s Natalia Kills — show promise for different reasons.

John “Diamond Rings” O'Regan demonstrated his prowess on keyboards, guitar and electric drums during his 30-minute one-man set, but if he wants to take himself to that next level, he needs a foil or an accomplice to free him from his solo restrictions.

However, his performance offered plenty of heart and ambition, even if his pitch occasionally wavered on songs like “You Oughta Know.”

British songwriter Natalia Kills declared her intentions right off the bat: “Toronto, my name is Natalia Kills and I've come to break your heart!”

She sort of did the opposite, possessing enough saucy self-mocking and camp on synthesized dance-pop anthems such as “Mirrors” and “Love Is a Suicide” that one got the feeling she's going to be around for a while.

As for the venue, Echo Beach — in Ontario Place, just west of the Molson Amphitheatre — lives up to its name: there's sand everywhere.

Equipped with a volleyball net near the back in case you're bored with the acts, this is the rare venue where you can wander around drinking tallboys and indulge your nicotine habit.

Great sightlines and good sound are also positives. The negative? Long, long lines to wait for bathroom privileges, courtesy of a number of johnny-on-the-spots.

Reasonably priced food (pizza, hamburgers, veggie burgers and hotdogs) is another attractive highlight. Here's hoping the venue lasts.

Just make sure you bring sandals, a blanket and a jacket for those cooler evenings.

The Roots Planning an Orchestral Concept Album

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Jun 06, 2011) *The Roots are at work plotting a follow up to their 2010 CD, “How I Got Over,” and drummer ?uestlove says it will be a “concept album” with orchestral arrangements.

“This is going to be our first full-fledged narrative concept album,” ?uest told Billboard.com at New York’s Buddakan, where he and frontman Black Thought hosted an event last week to promote two upcoming events in their hometown of Philadelphia: this Saturday’s Roots Picnic festival, and Philly’s Fourth of July Jam. “It’s going to be a challenge to figure out how to get from point A to B — or in this case, point B to point A,” he hinted, “and have it seem natural.”

Black Thought added that conceptually, the album will stem from the “same idea” as “How I Got Over,” but “kind of flipped. Instead of from dark to light, it’s an album that goes from light to dark,” he explained.

Two song sketches have been composed thus far, ?uestlove said, and
just this week the group had its first official meeting about the “unusual spelling” of the album’s title, which they’re keeping under wraps for now. “It’s a one-word title that’s spelled incorrectly … what a way to tease you, right?” he laughed.

As for the sound of the album, ?uestlove said, “It’s going to be heavy on sort of orchestral chamber music with harder beats in it,” inspired by a recent collaborative performance that the drummer did in April for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

“I did this project called the Philly-Paris Lockdown, which was sort of a period of French music from Debussy to Satie and Stravinsky … it was almost like the dawning of jazz in the early 1900s,” he said of the performance, which also featured 18 classical musicians and French singer/songwriter Keren Ann.

While Black Thought said the Roots hope to have their new album out by this fall, he acknowledged that a 2012 release is more likely. “In a perfect world it would come out in November, but in this world that we live in, maybe January? Maybe February?” he laughed. “I don’t know, but hopefully it’s gonna be in a timely fashion.”

In the meantime, the Roots have plenty to keep them busy.

The group lined up a genre-spanning list of acts for its fourth annual Roots Picnic, including Nas, Esperanza Spalding, Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf, Mac Miller, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and more. ?uestlove is especially excited for his sister, Donn T, to make her debut on the festival’s second stage, as well as Little Dragon, whom he calls an “extreme favourite of mine,” and the Dismemberment Plan. “They set on fire when they reunited for the show, and I hope they put that same energetic performance on for us,” he said.

“It’s something we always wanted to do,” Black Thought said of the Picnic, which is now in its fourth year. “Having been a part of so many festival tours like Lollapalooza and Smokin’ Grooves — with the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill, and the whole genre mixing thing that used to go on back in the ’90s and early ’00s — we always wanted to bring that element to Philly, to bring it home.”

And although the Roots will be performing at Philly’s 4th of July Jam for the third time, the MC added that they’re particularly looking forward to this year’s event because “it’s our first time as the official curators.” Among the acts they’ve picked to perform: Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael McDonald, Estelle and Sara Bareilles.

“It’s become a festival now,” he said. “It’s super exciting.”

Sean Kingston Expected To Make A Full Recovery In 6 Weeks

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mesfin Fekadu

(Jun 02, 2011) Sean Kingston is expected to be fully recovered from his Jet Ski accident in six weeks.

The ‘Beautiful Girls’ hitmaker suffered a broken jaw, fractured wrist and water in his lungs when he crashed into the Palm Island Bridge in Miami, Florida on May 29, according to CNN.

The singer was said to be in a “critical but stable condition” in the intensive care unit of Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was in a trauma ward before being moved to an intensive care unit.

Witnesses revealed Kingston’s life-jacket fell off during the collision, which caused him to sink under the water.

Rescuers Carmen Rivera, Jonathan Rivera and Jimmy Vega — who were in a boat approaching Palm Island Bridge — described to CNN how they found Kingston.

“They were calling us over, telling us, ‘He’s drowning, he’s drowning,’” said Carmen Rivera.

Jonathan Rivera added: “I pushed him up, and he was vomiting what seemed like water, and then there was some blood coming out.”

Vega said the singer had a neck injury and was “extremely dazed and in danger of drowning.”

Cassandra Sanchez was also riding on the Jet Ski with Sean when they crashed, which left her injured and hospitalized, according to an accident report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

MUSIC TIDBITS

New Shania Twain Single To Be Released June 12

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(June 3, 2011) To Shania Twain fans who have waited patiently for new music: Your day is coming. The Timmins, Ont., country superstar has announced she will release a new single, Today is Your Day, on June 12. The song will first debut on Twain's reality TV show, Why Not? With Shania Twain, and will then be available for purchase on iTunes at 11 p.m. ET. It's the first song Twain has written solo in six years. The song's release coincides with the U.S. finale of Twain's show, which features footage of her marriage to Swiss businessman Frederic Thiebaud. The episode won't air in Canada until June 17 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, but a spokesperson for iTunes confirmed that Canadians would have access to the new song at the same time as customers in the U.S.

Jill Scott Kicks off Summer Tour with Ticket Sales in Mid-June

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 4, 2011) *Get ‘em while they’re hot, because you know Jill Scott tickets don’t sit too long. The delicious diva is on tour again beginning in ripe summer late July. Miss Scott will be kicking off the “Summer Block Party” July 28 in New York and guess who is going to be coming along? Anthony Hamilton and Mint Condition. Tickets to see Jilly from Philly will go on sale June 17 through LiveNation.com and MissJillScott.com. Check out  the dates below. July 28: New York, N.Y.
July 30: Detroit, Mich.
July 31: Chicago, Ill.
Aug. 3: Cleveland, Ohio
Aug. 4: St. Louis, Mo.
Aug. 6: Philadelphia, Pa.
Aug. 7: Washington, D.C.
Aug. 10: Los Angeles, Calif.
Aug. 14: Oakland, Calif.
Aug. 17: Memphis, Tenn.
Aug. 19: Atlanta, Ga.
Aug. 21: Virginia Beach, Va.
Aug. 23: Raleigh, N.C.
Aug. 24: Charlotte, N.C.
Aug. 27: Dallas, Tx.
Aug. 28: Houston, Tx.

‘Thank You For Being A Friend’: Singer, Composer Andrew Gold Dies At 59

Source: www.thestar.com - By The Associated Press

(Jun 06, 2011) LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Andrew Gold, a singer, musician and composer whose songs included the 1977 hit "Lonely Boy," has died. He was 59. His sister, Melani Gold Friedman, tells the Los Angeles Times that Gold died in his sleep Friday at his home in Encino, Calif. She says he had cancer but had been responding to treatment. Gold was a multi-instrumental player whose popular singles included "Thank You for Being a Friend" and the British hit "Never Let Her Slip Away." He was in Linda Rondstadt's band, arranged songs for and performed on several Rondstadt albums, including "Heart Like a Wheel," and did session work for artists such as James Taylor and Carly Simon. Gold's mother was movie singer Marni Nixon, and his father was Ernest Gold, who composed the Oscar-winning score for Exodus.

Meteoric Mac Miller Multiplies Shows

Source:  www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(Jun 08, 2011) Toronto clearly loves Mac Miller right now. The 19-year-old Jewish rapper from Pittsburgh - a Wiz Khalifa protégé, naturally, as they're both from the Steel City - has won a lot of people over with his boisterous, straightforward party music continent-wide. But Miller headlined a sold-out show at the Opera House in March and yet he's already back for not one but TWO shows at the Kool Haus. Promoters announced a July 17 show today after tickets ($23) for the previously confirmed July 16 date starting moving briskly. And he apparently returns the affection, having proclaimed from the Opera House stage last time, “I can legally drink here! You don’t know how good it feels to say that on stage

Photos: Alicia Keys Speaks at UN Event on AIDS

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Jun 08, 2011) *Alicia Keys attended a United Nations conference Tuesday in support of the fight against AIDS. The singer, who has long championed the cause, spoke at an event titled HIV Priorities for Positive Change, which took place ahead of today’s crucial discussion between world leaders to outline their plans for battling the global pandemic over the next decade. Keys tweeted her followers to take part this morning’s March to End AIDS, a peaceful protest that began at Manhattan’s Bryant Park and ended outside the U.N. headquarters, where the General Assembly meeting was due to take place. “World leaders r (sic) meeting in NYC 2day (sic) to adopt a new declaration to reaffirm commitments to fight global Aids. Join the march in Bryant Park!” she posted on Twitter.

::FILM NEWS::

Cinema Under The Stars

Source: www.thestar.com - By Chloé Fedio

(Jun 03, 2011) Why pay to sit in a dark theatre on a warm summer night, when you can see a movie in the great outdoors for free? It’s a summer tradition: When the sun sets in Toronto, open-air movie theatres pop up all over town, from the waterfront to Downsview Park. Here’s where to find them:

Dancing in the Dark

Under the bright lights of Yonge-Dundas Square, see Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) seduce the privileged Baby (Jennifer Grey) with his mambo moves in Dirty Dancing or watch as 11-year-old New York City public school kids learn to foxtrot and tango in the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom. It’s a different dance-related movie every Tuesday night. The first screening is a Pride Week double-header of Paris is Burning and Hairspray. Rain or shine. Free.

Where: Yonge-Dundas Square (10 Dundas St. E.)

Runs: Tuesdays, June 28 to Aug. 30

Longo’s Free Flicks

Sit along the harbour and follow characters on the big screen as they explore a specific urban centre, including Tokyo (Lost in Translation), New Delhi (Amal) and Paris (Paris je t’aime). The festival kicks off with a tour of Toronto in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with local funnyman Michael Cera. Rain or shine. Free.

Where: WestJet Stage at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay W.)

Runs: Tuesdays, July 5 to Aug. 9

TIFF in the Park

Sing along to your favourite musical, such as The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz, in the heart of downtown at David Pecaut Square. The Aug. 3 showing takes a different spin on classic film, with a screening of the 1956 film Jagte Raho about an Indian peasant’s misadventures in the city when he stumbles into a luxury apartment building in search of a glass of water. The screening is cancelled in case of rain. Free.

Runs: Wednesdays, July 6 to Aug. 31

Where: David Pecaut Square (formerly Metro Square, next to Roy Thomson Hall)

Open Roof Festival

Watch the sun set over a cold beer and live music at the Amsterdam brewery on Thursday nights before an outdoor cinematic experience. The festival opens with Toronto-band Little Black Dress and a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, a twisting chronicle of some of the world’s top graffiti artists, including the elusive Banksy. Doors at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15.

Where: Amsterdam Brewing Company (21 Bathurst St.)

Runs: Thursdays, June 16 to Sept. 1

Movies Under the Stars

Kick off the weekend with a family-friendly movie at Downsview Park. Features include the Rapunzel-inspired animated Disney film Tangled, the story of Ontario’s favourite teen heartthrob in Justin Bieber Never Say and the ’90s basketball classic Space Jam that pairs Bugs Bunny with Michael Jordan on the court. There’s a back-up indoor location nearby in case of rain. Free.

Where: At the main entrance of Downsview Park (35 Carl Hall Rd.)

Runs: Fridays, July 9 to Aug. 31

Parkdale Film and Video Showcase

A screening of short films created by Parkdale artists will be showcased under the stars as part of a greater weekend festival of workshops and media installations in the neighbourhood. The event is in its 13th year. Bring your own snacks to the screening. Pay what you can.

Where: Fuller Avenue Parkette (Fuller Ave., north of Queen St. W.)

Runs: Saturday, June 25 at 9 p.m.

Pleasure Dome

The Pleasure Dome, in partnership with the Feminist Art Gallery, will screen the experimental work of German artist Isabell Spengler on July 9. Bring your finished or in-the-works short (10-minute maximum) to the open screening on July 23. Members pay $5, non-members pay $8.

Where: 401 Richmond St. W. courtyard (Rain location: CineCycle, 129 Spadina Ave.)

Movies in the Park

Bring the family to watch PG movies in Riverdale Park East on some Sundays this summer. Each movie screening is sponsored to support one of three local charities: Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs, Broadview Community Youth Group and Art City. Free.

Where: Riverdale Park East (550 Broadview Ave.)

Runs: Sundays on June 19, July 24, Aug. 14 and Aug. 21

Good Neighbours: Misfits of Montreal

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

Good Neighbours
Starring Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman and Emily Hampshire. Directed by Jacob Tierney. 98 minutes. Opening June 3 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. 14A

(Jun 02, 2011) Good luck erasing the murder in the climax of
Good Neighbours from your brain’s hard drive.

The noirish horror-thriller that reteams The Trotsky’s writer-director Jacob Tierney and actors Jay Baruchel and Emily Hampshire is no coming-of-age political farce like the last movie from these three Canucks. Good Neighbours is an unsettling three-hander that features a gruesome killing and sexual assault that’s so bizarre — made even more so by the performance of the actor who commits it — it will probably prompt nervous laughter.

It will have moviegoers talking as they leave the theatre, which is not a bad outcome, but it makes the rest of Tierney’s occasionally sluggish horror seem pallid by comparison.

Based on Quebec writer Chrystine Brouillet’s 1982 novel about a trio of misfits living in a Quebec City apartment building, Tierney has moved the action to an Anglo section of Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood during the lead-up to the 1995 Quebec referendum.

Residents here have more on their plates than the possible breakup of the country; a sexually deviant serial killer is in their midst and it’s the talk of the ’hood, especially for Louise (Hampshire), a waitress at a local chop suey joint, a place that is strangely always empty. Louise is not quite right — her odd attachment to cats and a fascination with newspaper accounts of the movements of the murderer and his victims often stray into creepy territory.

Her obsession with the killer is shared by down-the-hall neighbour Spencer (Scott Speedman), a guy with a perpetual smarmy grin and a thing for tropical fish. He’s been in a wheelchair since a car accident that killed his wife the year before and is just as curious about the killer as Louise. Maybe their bizarre hobby could lead to something more.

Enter Victor (Baruchel, yet again as the twitchy, neurotic Jewish man-kid), a nerdy teacher who moves into the building. He’s not sure about Spencer, who seems chilly to his awkward attempts at friendship. On the other hand, Louise may be nuts, but there’s something cute about her, and lonely Victor is game to take a chance on the misfit miss.

There’s a badass killer out there, so offering to walk her home from the restaurant each night makes him feel like a hero. And when her cats wind up dead on the snowy front lawn at the hands of their drunken neighbour Valerie, he can offer Louise solace. Too bad she’d rather have it in the paws of Victor’s cat than in Victor’s arms.

Everybody gets involved in various plots to exact revenge or frame an innocent, while at the same time, a secret is revealed. It combines to heat things up, allowing the second half of Good Neighbours to pick up steam considerably. But a few bothersome holes in the plot and an anemic first reel keep it from being as satisfying as it could be.

There’s clear evidence that Tierney is maturing as a filmmaker, but he’s not there yet, despite having the talents of Baruchel and Hampshire on his side. And Baruchel is going to have to drop the young Woody Allen routine soon; it’s getting predictable and he’s an actor of considerable talent. Show us something else, Jay.

Gunsmoke’ Star James Arness Dead At Age 88

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(June 4, 2011) LOS ANGELES — James Arness, the 6-foot-6 actor who towered over the television landscape for two decades as righteous Dodge City lawman Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, died Friday. He was 88.

The actor died in his sleep at his home in Brentwood, Calif., according to his business manager, Ginny Fazer.

Arness' official website posted a letter from Arness on Friday that he wrote with the intention that it be posted posthumously: “I had a wonderful life and was blessed with some many loving people and great friends,” he said.

“I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for the many years of being a fan of Gunsmoke, The Thing, How the West Was Won and all the other fun projects I was lucky enough to have been allowed to be a part of. I had the privilege of working with so many great actors over the years.”

As U.S. Marshal Dillon in the 1955-75 CBS Western series, Arness created an indelible portrait of a quiet, heroic man with an unbending dedication to justice and the town he protected.

The wealth and fame Arness gained from Gunsmoke could not protect him from tragedy in his personal life: His daughter and his former wife, Virginia, both died of drug overdoses.

Arness, a quiet, intensely private man who preferred the outdoor life to Hollywood's party scene, rarely gave interviews and refused to discuss the tragedies.

“He's big, impressive and virile,” co-star Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty) once said of Arness, adding, “I've worked with him for 16 years, but I don't really know him.”

The actor was 32 when friend John Wayne declined the lead role in Gunsmoke and recommended Arness instead. Afraid of being typecast, Arness initially rejected it.

“Go ahead and take it, Jim,” Wayne urged him. “You're too big for pictures. Guys like Gregory Peck and I don't want a big lug like you towering over us. Make your mark in television.”

Gunsmoke went on to become the longest-running dramatic series in network history until NBC's Law & Order tied it in 2010. Arness' 20-year prime-time run as the marshal was tied only in recent times by Kelsey Grammer's 20 years as Frasier Crane from 1984 to 2004 on Cheers and then on Frasier.

The years showed on the weathered-looking Arness, but he — and his TV character — wore them well.

“The camera really loved his face, and with good reason,” novelist Wallace Markfield wrote in a 1975 Gunsmoke appreciation in The New York Times. “It was a face that would age well and that, while aging, would carry intimations of waste, loss and futility.”

Born James Aurness in Minneapolis (he dropped the “u” for show business reasons), he and brother Peter enjoyed a “real Huckleberry Finn existence,” Arness once recalled.

Peter, who changed his last name to Graves, went on to star in the TV series Mission Impossible.

A self-described drifter, Arness left home at age 18, hopping freight trains and Caribbean-bound freighters. He entered Beloit College in Wisconsin but was drafted into the Army in his 1942-43 freshman year. Wounded in the leg during the 1944 invasion at Anzio, Italy, Arness was hospitalized for a year and left with a slight limp. He returned to Minneapolis to work as a radio announcer and in small theatre roles.

He moved to Hollywood in 1946 at a friend's suggestion. After a slow start in which he took jobs as a carpenter and salesman, a role in MGM's Battleground (1949) was a career turning point. Parts in more than 20 films followed, including The Thing, Hellgate and Hondo with Wayne. Then came Gunsmoke, which proved a durable hit and a multimillion-dollar boon for Arness, who owned part of the series.

His longtime co-stars were Blake as saloon keeper Miss Kitty, Milburn Stone as Doc Adams and Dennis Weaver as the deputy, Chester Goode.

When Weaver died in February 2006, Arness called it “a big loss for me personally” and said Weaver “provided comic relief but was also a real person doing things that were very important to the show.”

The cancellation of Gunsmoke didn't keep Arness away from TV for long: He returned a few months later, in January 1976, in the TV movie The Macahans, which led to the 1978-79 ABC series How the West Was Won.

Arness took on a contemporary role as a police officer in the series McClain's Law, which aired on NBC from 1981-82.

Despite his desire for privacy, a rocky domestic life landed him in the news more than once.

Arness met future wife Virginia Chapman while both were studying at Southern California's Pasadena Playhouse. They wed in 1948 and had two children, Jenny and Rolf. Chapman's son from her first marriage, Craig, was adopted by Arness

The marriage foundered and in 1963 Arness sought a divorce and custody of the three children, which he was granted. He tried to guard them from the spotlight.

“The kids don't really have any part of my television life,” he once remarked. “Fortunately, there aren't many times when show business intrudes on our family existence.”

The emotionally troubled Virginia Arness attempted suicide twice, in 1959 and in 1960. In 1975, Jenny Arness died of an apparently deliberate drug overdose. Two years later, an overdose that police deemed accidental killed her mother.

Arness married Janet Surtees in 1978. Besides his wife, Arness is survived by two sons and six grandchildren. A private memorial service will be held.

Many Degrees Of Kevin Bacon

Source: www.thestar.com - By Geoff Boucher

(Jun 02, 2011) LOS ANGELES—A couple of years ago, Kevin Bacon needed a few degrees of separation from his fame. He daydreamed of a crowded place where people didn’t tug at his sleeve to gush about Footloose or quote Diner. Finally, he went to a Hollywood makeup specialist and invested in a custom-made disguise that was weirdly simple but completely effective. He paid the $500 and then, with an anxious glee, he took his new rubber face to the Grove shopping centre in Los Angeles to experience an afternoon without autographs.

“You wouldn’t have recognized me if I was standing next to you,” Bacon said with a faraway expression. “It was really bizarre and I didn’t really like it. I didn’t like it at all. People cut in front of you and when you’re at a checkout counter it’s just . . . different. People weren’t all that nice to me. I’m just not used to it.”

Sitting in a quiet corner of a Brentwood restaurant on the west side of L.A., the actor shook his head, perhaps surprised at his own candour and then laughed at himself. “I can’t imagine life without it,” he added, referring to fame.

The 52-year-old is upping his recognition quotient with younger moviegoers with this weekend’s release of X-Men: First Class, the fifth instalment in a Fox franchise that already has racked up $1.5 billion in worldwide box office with its tales of mutant melodrama from Marvel Comics.

The film, set in the 1960s, is the story of three men, really, each with a genetic gift that invests them with so much power that they can change the course of history. One of them is Sebastian Shaw, played by Bacon, who is a world-class tycoon and a mutant able to absorb and then use any sort of unleashed energy (an exploding grenade or even a nuclear meltdown).

The other two men are familiar to fans of the franchise: there’s the metal-controlling Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender, and the master telepath Professor X, portrayed by James McAvoy, who find themselves in a conflicted bromance as they team to stop Shaw’s megalomaniacal plans.

McAvoy said the presence of Bacon on the set added a crackle to the production. “I don’t use this term but it just seems right—Kevin Bacon is just a cool cat. For me, as a moviegoer, if you tell me Kevin Bacon is playing a villain in a summer superhero movie, I’m there man. I’d be excited, too, to see a film that is bold enough to go with that unexpected choice.”

For an actor with credits such as Mystic River, Apollo 13, The Woodsman, Frost/Nixon and A Few Good Men, stepping into a superhero film wasn’t going to happen unless there was a compelling reason. He cited the presence of producer Bryan Singer and director Matthew Vaughn and the chance to play a dark character who wants the world to burn but rarely raises his voice as his reasons for joining the mutant franchise.

“I haven’t been this guy before,” said Bacon, who studied years of comic books after taking on the role. “He’s a little bit Ted Turner, a little bit Hugh Hefner, a little bit Donald Trump. That’s how I see him. I wasn’t interested in him as scary evil. It was more about control. His power is a metaphor for who he is; he can be different things to different people and he also takes whatever energy you have and throws it back at you.”

Shaw’s background, as Bacon knows it, is a cruel soul who grew up in dead-end Pittsburgh but viewed the world as a chessboard and was able to amass his first billion by age 40. “I don’t play him with a Pennsylvania accent, though,” said the Philadelphia native who lives in New York. He’s been renting recently in Santa Monica while his wife of 23 years, Kyra Sedgwick, has been here working on her TNT television series, The Closer.

Bacon recently drove cross-country with his two dogs, which was good for distancing himself from celebrity — until he got a speeding ticket from an Oklahoma trooper who felt compelled to share a personal story about Footloose even as some passersby recorded the roadside scene on their cell phones. Still, Bacon said his worldview is increasingly punctuated with a healthy question mark and he doesn’t expect to need a disguise any time soon.

“I think when I started I thought I knew everything there was to know,” he said. “You progressively learn that you know less and less. To me the greatest challenge is to get a little more truthful, to get closer to the truth in a way. That’s not to say I want to put me up there. I never play the character that is Kevin. I’m not interested in that and I don’t think anyone else would be, either. I’ve got home movies for that.

“My thing is, use yourself but also lose yourself.”

No Magic To His Film-A-Year Method, Woody Allen Says

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(June 4, 2011) Woody Allen’s new film, Midnight in Paris, started with the title. “But I had no story,” he said during a phone interview last week. “I didn’t know what happened at midnight in Paris.”

You have to understand, I was practically panting into the phone here. Allen is arguably the most dazzlingly productive filmmaker who ever lived. With only a few exceptions, he’s written and directed a feature film a year since Bananas in 1971.

Now really, think about that – a feature a year. From 1984 to 1987, just to pick an example, he made Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters and Radio Days. In the last five years – while in his 70s; he’s now 75 years old – he made Cassandra’s Dream, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Whatever Works and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. He’s tried every genre from romantic comedies and farces to murder mysteries and serious dramas, and he acted in at least half of them. As well, he throws in some New Yorker essays, TV projects or stage plays for good measure. The fact that everyone now takes this for granted – “another year, another Woody Allen movie” – only boggles the mind further.

I was hoping he could give me insight into how the hell he does it. (Or perhaps confess that he has a magical filing cabinet stuffed with scripts, because that seems as realistic as any other option.) In conversation, Allen is calm and chatty, and speaks in full, perfect sentences, though his voice is thinner than it used to be, and he has to clear his throat at lot. After one sentence, his voice cut out so abruptly that I had to make sure he was still there. “It sounded like we lost the connection,” I said.

“It sounded like I died,” he replied.

But he’s much more confident and in charge than his comedic persona, and his process, he insists, is maddeningly matter-of-fact. With Midnight in Paris, he simply thought, “Well, the protagonist is walking around, and a car pulls up, and the people in it say, ‘Get in,’ and they go to a party with him,” he said. Eventually it “occurred to” him, what if the hero got to the party, and he was in a golden age in Paris? “Then the thing started to open up,” Allen said. “Once it got into a nostalgic mode I was very happy, because you can write fun scenes in the past, and make beautiful photography, horses and carriages and candlelight and streetlamps, and the clothing.”

Midnight in Paris’s hero is Gil (Owen Wilson), a Hollywood screenwriter who’d rather be a novelist, and who reveres the Paris of the 1920s, when Ernest Hemingway, Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali, T.S. Eliot, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein and their ilk rubbed shoulders. (All appear in Allen’s film.) But Gil’s fiancée (Rachel McAdams) is a hard-bitten broad who wants him to stay in L.A. and make money, and from there the high jinks ensue.

So that’s it? The entire secret to Allen’s productivity is that he walks around, thinking? “It’s strictly capricious,” he said. “I’m always thinking of what would make a good story. The toughest part is raising the money. The people who finance my films are not allowed to read the script and have no say in casting. They really have to give their money and move out of the way, so that’s always hard. But thinking of ideas, writing films, that’s not so hard for me. That’s what I do, that’s the one thing I can do, walk around and cook up stories.”

Recently, those stories have been taking place outside the United States, because the people who finance his films are increasingly coming from England (Match Point, Scoop, Cassandra’s Dream, You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger), Spain (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), France and, next, Italy – Allen will shoot Bop Decameron, “an out-and-out comedy,” in Rome this summer. Because he’s always had an eye for hot talent, it stars Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg. And because he works with people again and again, it also stars Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis and himself. “If there’s a role for me, I play it,” Allen said.

Getting a truly independent film financed is difficult for anyone in the U.S. these days, but there’s another reason why Europe may be easier for Allen: In the U.S., his reputation has never quite recovered from the personal scandal that erupted in the mid-1990s, when he left his long-time partner, Mia Farrow, for her daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. I’d interviewed Allen at the time, and he’d remarked on how his capacity to compartmentalize had saved his peace of mind and kept him working. That capacity seems intact today. “My life was no problem then, and it’s no problem now,” he said. “It was fine, and it’s fine. I take care of my kids, I watch basketball and baseball, I play jazz. I have a lot of stuff to do.”

If European investors have been more forgiving, Allen has taken full advantage of it. “There’s nothing wrong with living in Paris for a few months, or Barcelona or London,” he said. “These are not unpleasant places to live. They’re great cities for someone like me, who likes to walk around, go into restaurants and shops.” As well, Allen’s rewarded his investors’ faith by producing some of his richer movies in years. He, more than anyone, knows that good work wins out.

“I like to work,” he said. “It distracts me from brooding or anxiety.” Approaching 80, he’s no more sanguine about death than he’s ever been. “I think we’re hard-wired to reject death and to fight for our lives,” he said. “I’m no different than anyone, I think. I’m not sanguine about it at all.”

All films are exercises in nostalgia, because they freeze on celluloid moments that are in reality gone forever, and no one knows this better than Allen. “The films I did in New York, 65 per cent of the places I shot are gone – the bookstores and restaurants, Le Cirque and Elaine’s,” he said. His golden age in New York would be the 1920s through the 1940s – “the bootlegging and speakeasy era in the twenties,” he said, “and the thirties, with all the great Broadway shows running, and then the beginning of the forties, with the soldiers and sailors walking around Times Square, and all the nightclubs that flourished – El Morocco and the Stork Club, the Copa and the Latin Quarter.”

“But not to live in,” he added. “I wish I could hop over for lunch and then come back.”

Midnight in Paris, and indeed all Allen’s films, offer a fantasy of “people wanting to get rid of their unpleasant present lives, because they sense that out there, there is a better way of living,” Allen said. “But I try not to indulge in nostalgia, because it’s a trap.” Remember, his next film is already written.

How Allen cast his leads

“Plenty of people have said no,” Woody Allen insists. But he’s being modest – most actors are thrilled to work with him. Here’s how he cast his three leads in Midnight in Paris:

Marion Cotillard “I needed a French actress, and she is the Rolls-Royce of French actresses, so I called her.”

Owen Wilson “Owen seemed like a perfect type to be a California scriptwriter. He’s a very good comedian and actor, and likeable, and appropriately amazed at everything going on around him. He was just right for it.”

Rachel McAdams “I think it’s the best Rachel’s ever been. I said to her, ‘Here’s your chance to not play the sweet ingénue, but to play the interesting, sexy, manipulative character.’ And she jumped at that. She loved that idea.”

Thelma & Louise Stars Captivate With Stories About Sexy Brad Pitt

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Linda Diebel

(Jun 08, 2011) The audience wanted the inside scoop on Brad Pitt so Geena Davis obliged for a Toronto crowd at last night’s 20-year retrospective of Thelma & Louise.

“The blond one!” Davis said she told director Ridley Scott during auditions for the iconic 1991 female road movie. She’d just done scenes with several young hopefuls who wanted to play the sexy drifter in what turned out to be Pitt’s breakout movie.

“Ridley was personally spraying Evian on Pitt’s chest (during her sex scene with Pitt),” she told an appreciative crowd at Roy Thomson Hall Tuesday night.

“I was saying, ‘hello,’” she said, joking about a director and crew who seemed to ignore her because they were hypnotized by the charismatic actor.

Susan Sarandon, who co-starred in the movie and was on stage with Davis, said of Pitt: “He was quite something.”

The actors appeared at an informal event, hosted by Star entertainment critic Richard Ouzounian. Questions from the audience were interspersed with clips from the film.

Sarandon praised Scott for making the movie iconic rather than a polemic by treating the characters as heroes in an adventure story. Fleeing from the law, Thelma and Louise sail off the Grand Canyon in a Thunderbird convertible rather than being taken in by police in one of Hollywood’s most spectacular and memorable endings.

Both lamented that roles for women have not materialized the way they had hoped in the two decades since Thelma & Louise.

“The guys who are running things (in Hollywood) have such a lack of imagination,” said Sarandon. “So many bankers ... so many corporate thinkers.”

Davis has worked to change things for women, notably through her foundation, “The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.”

She recounted an experience with a group of animators in which one man noted that it’s really hard to create women characters because they are “too boring.”

When she asked what he meant, he explained that women had to be perfect and beautiful or “the feminists would crack down on us.”

Davis thought at the time, “Really, I didn’t know we were so organized.”

She said she told them the way to avoid criticism is by having many different females in movies, rather than just one who must represent all women. Filmmakers should “just switch characters” from men to women in order to have more female parts.

Sarandon said she was surprised so many people appeared to be offended about a movie in which women were tough and self-reliant.

“If you wear a lot of gold jewellery and drive a truck (maybe,)” she said, referring to a scene in which Thelma and Louise blow up the rig of a wildly sexist truck driver. “Otherwise, I don’t understand why everybody was so offended.”

“(Scott) was so excited about blowing up that truck,” said Sarandon.

The movie was an iconic hit because of exciting scenes, she added, not because Scott was a feminist.

Tuesday night, a largely female audience in their 40s and 50s cheered and hooted at their favourite scenes — like the exploding truck — as if seeing the movie for the first time.

::TV NEWS::\

CRTC Hears Fears About Netflix, CanCon

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Jun 06, 2011) Major players in Canada's broadcasting, movie and TV production industries have won the first round in a campaign to bring a growing number of online broadcasters — including Netflix, Apple TV and other services that deliver programming by means other than cable or satellite — into accordance with long-established rules requiring Canadian content quotas and financial support of Canada's creative infrastructure.

Last week the federal broadcast regulator responded to the concerns of regulated broadcasters by calling for information from consumers and people in the broadcast- and content-production industries about emerging online broadcasting services using various platforms that fall outside the regulations of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Called “over-the-top” or “OTT” because they are exempted from regulation by the CRTC, these services also include dedicated Internet-TV news operations, movie channels such as YouTube Movies, and countless smartphone apps featuring movies, games and more, says Joanne Deer, director of public policy for ACTRA, the nationwide actors' union, which applauds the CRTC's call.

“Obviously you can't regulate them in the same way as traditional broadcasters are regulated, but our hope is that the CRTC will require these services to offer some level of Canadian content (and) to make contributions to the Canadian Media Fund, which helps finance Canadian production,” Deer said.

The CRTC call was instigated by a letter of concern from a working group comprising 35 unnamed members of Canada's broadcasting and production community, chaired by Alain Gourd, a Montreal-based TV and radio veteran, now a consultant in media strategy and broadcast regulatory affairs.

The group's concerns were sparked by recent news that Netflix and Apple Inc. are making direct distribution deals with major Hollywood studios that may bypass the regulated broadcasting system in this country.

“We must have a better knowledge of the total impact of online services, both domestic and foreign, on Canada's broadcasting infrastructure,” Gourd told the Star.

The working group's objectives are “to support the distribution of high-quality Canadian content on all platforms and to continue to ensure the competitiveness of all the players in the Canadian broadcasting system,” he added.

“We have asked the commission to examine the growing emergence of non-Canadian broadcast players in the new digital realm and initiate a public consultation process to determine whether and how such non-Canadian companies should support Canadian cultural programming.”

The federal Conservative government's keen advocacy of open frontiers in Internet delivery systems may provide a stumbling block for the CRTC, if it deems regulations are necessary after June 27, when it closes the door on written comments and consultation on the issue. The regulator is not holding a public hearing at this point.

Former industry minister Tony Clement has said he opposed opening a consultation on Netflix and other over-the-top services.

“I'm sceptical of the reasoning of the mainline broadcasters,” he told The Wire magazine. “They say they're doing this in the hopes of fairness and equity. I think it's also a way to strangle the competition.”

Canadian Ditches Charlie Sheen Internship For Ryan Seacrest

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Sarah Millar

(Jun 07, 2011) Sorry Charlie Sheen, it looks like you’ve lost one of your Tiger Blood internship candidates.

Phil Pallen, one of two Canadians left vying for the Sheen internship, has decided to forgo Sheen for an opportunity with Ryan Seacrest.

The 22-year-old Belleville native is currently attending Full Sail University in Florida, where he’s working toward his masters in entertainment business.

Pallen made the announcement today — almost a week after the intern candidates were expecting to hear back from Sheen.

In an interview with the Star, Pallen said he was offered the internship with the digital team at Ryan Seacrest Productions after they saw his website.

“Anyone who knows me knows that Ryan Seacrest is like my idol in Hollywood, based on his career (and) what he does — radio, television (and) hosting,” he said. “Anyone knows that he’s the one person that inspires me the most.”

He leaves for L.A. on June 30.

He also received an offer from NBC in New York, which he applied for before the Sheen internship and has since turned down.

Pallen’s not shutting any doors though.

“I would still be open to an opportunity with Charlie Sheen if they offered me something, but I have made the decision to move forward with the Ryan Seacrest opportunity. It's an obvious choice, given my career aspirations.”

It’s been two months since the Sheen internship process began.

In March, Sheen tweeted he was looking to hire a social media intern for the summer. Close to 75,000 people applied for the gig on
internships.com. Those 75,000 were eventually whittled down to 200 and then to the final 50.

Nothing was required from the candidates for the fifth, and final, round.

“Some of the people that made it to Round 4 started to do some of the things I did in Round 3, which is essentially run a campaign,” Pallen said.

“You saw an attempt by people to get noticed now that they had been narrowed down to the last 50 people.”

At the end of March, Pallen created a
special website and Facebook page, as well as used his existing Twitter account to build followers throughout the process. He added blog posts and videos updating his followers about his process and his goings-on.

He saw his Twitter followers balloon from just over 280 to nearly 2,000, got more than 700 “likes” on his Facebook fan page and participated in 70 media interviews since making the Round 3 cut.

“I knew I had enough insight to know that this was going to be big. So I had to make a choice, it was enter this competition and get the support of a few friends, or go big or go home. Do it big, or not do it all,” he said.

Pallen said he has been home to Belleville since the start of the internship process and that he was treated as “sort-of” celebrity, but he hasn’t let it go to his head.

“It’s cute and it’s fun, but I still stay grounded and humble because if you lose that, it’s kind of lame.”

The other Canadian still in the running for the Sheen internship is Sepy Bazzazi from Vancouver.

Kimberley Locke Might be the Next Oprah

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 3, 2011) *Kimberley Locke is now using her clout as a celebrity gained from her American Idol to take her ambitions to the next level. The next level could very well see Locke on her way to becoming the next Oprah Winfrey, according to CYinterview.com.

After achieving fame from that reality television show, Locke has cornered the market and secured a talk show host gig that could take her career to superstardom, something many people didn’t expect.

“I do feel like this is that moment for me. How did I end up here? Immediately after American Idol, I’m very goal oriented. So I have my short-term goals, my short-term goal was to get a record contract and get my music out there so people could remember me. Then my long-term goal was to actually host a television show. The past two years I have taken meeting after meeting after meeting, making the rounds to be seen in front of the people who could make that happen.

It just so happened that I got that phone call from ABC and they wanted to meet with me. It was one of those things where I obviously feel like I put it out there in the universe and the universe conspired and I had to do my part as well. But I put it out there and here eight and a half years later, I’m doing exactly what I’d set out to do on my 10 year goal. I think that it will change my life. I think it’ll change my career.”

After scaling the mountain, being tripped down to the valley, Locke has risen again in uncertain industry that has made mincemeat of many wannabe Hollywood careers.

“I’ve always said I would rather take 10 years to build the foundation for a 100 year career than be a flash in the pan…I completely understand why celebrities or sudo celebrities go off the deep end and lose focus and lose themselves…One day you’re on the top and the next day you’re in a valley. But just as fast as you went to that valley, you can go back on top again. That’s such an emotional rollercoaster, the spikes and the drops.

“I think I’m really excited that, it’s been a slow build for me, but it’s been the perfect pace as well because I feel grounded. I feel like I have a solid group of people around me now. I feel like I’m headed in a great direction where my feet are still plated on the ground.”

For more, go to CYinterview.com.

Canadian Sports Entertainment: No Place For Amateurs

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(June 4, 2011) This year has seen a seismic shift in the sports-entertainment game in Canada, with more players, vying for bigger stakes, than ever before. The Big Kahunas include Bell Media CTV, Rogers, CBC Sports, and newcomer Shaw (owner of Global TV). Each is hell-bent on committing manpower and money to acquiring premium sports rights - and premium ad dollars. Their play-by-play strategies include poaching from each other's executive offices and wooing away on-air talent. Down the road, they'll also be bidding on such must-see showdowns as the 2012 Olympics and Hockey Night in Canada. Here's a look at who controls what, and what the big guns are dying to get their hands on.

BELL MEDIA CTV/TSN

Last summer, veteran CTV executive Keith Pelley shocked the sports world by jumping ship for Rogers. But his CTV job was quickly filled by Phil King (until then, president of TSN), who has made it known he's committed to spending big dollars to compete with Rogers.

Their first real showdown - CTV's TSN and Rogers Sportsnet - came not on TV, but on radio. Directly targeting the FAN station owned by Rogers in Toronto, TSN Radio has now launched in that city. Also on the radio front, TSN lured Mike Richards from Rogers's Calgary FAN station.

Meanwhile, TSN Mobile TV, which puts live events on hand-held devices, has secured long-term broadcast agreements with Major League Soccer, as well as a 10-year deal with Skate Canada, and added international events such as soccer's Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, and the Tour de France.

Up next are the coveted rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, which could see TSN and Sportsnet set rivalry aside to make a joint CTV-Rogers bid as the Olympic broadcast consortium. Forget nice-nice when it comes to Hockey Night in Canada, though: All the major players are expected to fight tooth and nail for a piece of that action come 2014.

ROGERS SPORTSNET

Some might point to Keith Pelley for upping the stakes in the sports-media game. After leaving CTV for Rogers, he upset the apple cart again by wooing CBC Sports boss Scott Moore to run Rogers broadcasting. The new team's mandate includes hiring talent to go after TSN. Among the most high-profile gets: Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox.

Sportsnet is Canada's second-largest sports property, with five regional franchises and a recently launched national sports channel. It is also building a brand across various platforms, and has rechristened FAN stations as Sportsnet Radio. And, like Bell, it has beefed up its digital prowess, putting in place a new team that has aggressively acquired a bevy of digital rights for Canadian hockey franchises. It came out the winner as the official Canadian broadcaster of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, too.

Still, Sportsnet's muscle lies in its regional thrust. Moore's strategy is to tap passionate local fans. Among other things, the broadcaster airs 253 regional NHL telecasts. Yes, including games with the Canucks.

CBC SPORTS

CBC Sports has long been home to Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday - and the Stanley Cup Finals. It also broadcasts the FIFA World Cup; airs amateur Canadian sports not otherwise available to a national audience; and hosts large-scale national public events such as Hockey Day in Canada, Kraft Hockeyville and Soccer Day in Canada.

The big challenge in the wake of sports boss Scott Moore's departure to Rogers: hanging on to its flagship Hockey Night when it comes up for renewal. Among its digital offerings, the CBC has introduced online coverage of Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi.

SHAW MEDIA (GLOBAL)

Global, formerly owned by CanWest, had never been much of a player in the sports-broadcast arena, airing the middle of the Masters Golf Tournament (TSN owns the rights to broadcast the first and last two days) as well as some of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. But the Shaw family has deep pockets, and Global's new owner gave notice that it was ramping up its sports division in January when it hired its first vice-president of sports, CTV-Rogers Olympic consortium executive Christos Nikitopoulos.

Speculation now is that Shaw could team up with the CBC to bid on the 2014 and 2016 Olympic games - giving a potential CTV/Rogers team-up a run for its money. There have also been rumours that Shaw could vie for all-sports specialty channel The Score. And Shaw Media has applied to get a new licence for a 24-hour sports station with live events to compete with TSN and Sportsnet.

Anderson Cooper Set To Join The Daytime Talk-Show Ranks

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(Jun 07, 2011) Anderson Cooper thrives on change and challenge.

The silver-haired news fixture will attempt to fill the void left by Oprah Winfrey's departure with the launch of his own syndicated talk show this fall. Already set to air on CTV in Canada, the show, titled Anderson, will cover social issues, trends, pop culture and human-interest stories five days a week. Cooper plans to host the show while maintaining his nightly duties on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and filing occasional reports for 60 Minutes.

The son of author Wyatt Emory Cooper and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, the Yale-educated Cooper began his career in news as a correspondent for the small media outlet Channel One. He took a correspondent job with ABC in 1995 and quickly rose to a co-anchor position on the network's overnight program World News Now. He joined CNN in 2001 and for the next few years became the face of the all-news channel with on-site coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the Cedar Revolution in Beirut and other news stories.

Cooper talked to The Globe at last week's CTV upfront presentation in Toronto.

Will you consciously avoid emulating the Oprah template on your new show?

My show certainly won't be about trying to replace Oprah. She can't be replaced and she's still going to be a huge presence on TV. This is about me trying to forge my own path and to figure out what I can bring to the daytime viewer. The challenge isn't me trying to be someone else, it's trying to be myself.

Does daytime television feel like a strange new territory for you?

There's a lot of new elements to it, yeah. It's exciting. It's a whole new challenge. I certainly hope it works. I try not to worry about the business side of it. What interests me is meeting real people and telling their stories.

Was it good practice subbing for Regis Philbin on his talk show?

It was incredibly educational. Obviously that show doesn't delve into very in-depth or serious topics, but it was valuable being part of a show with that much fun and energy.

What daytime shows influenced you most?

Probably Phil Donahue and Oprah. I liked those shows the most. Those were the most influential in terms of creating the format.

Everyone knows Oprah, but what was unique about Donahue?

At the time, a lot of the topics he was doing were groundbreaking and he was giving a voice to people who you didn't normally see on television. The energy of the show and the interaction with the audience was always compelling. There were days when it was pretty tawdry and days it was serious. At one point he had Ayn Rand on for a series of conversations, which was something you didn't see every day on television.

Are celebrities the toughest people to interview?

It's a challenge to talk to celebrities because they've done so many interviews. The key is to simply have a conversation, like this one, with natural ebbs and flows. When people start to think you're actually listening, the interview becomes much more successful. It's nice to have a real conversation, which is something I hope to do on the daytime show. If a celebrity is on, I don't want it to be just them pitching a movie. I'd like it to be an event, something worth the viewers' time. It should be like a conversation between the viewer and that person.

And you're really going to stay on CNN in addition to the daytime show?

I'm definitely not leaving news, I'm just taking on a day job. I love news and I'm staying with CNN and will continue to host 360 each night. But there's a lot of subjects I'm really interested in and it will be nice to be able to do something that will show more of that.

It sounds like you're going to have one long work day.

As of now, I'm usually in the office by noon and I'm there until 11 p.m. My day will probably start at 8 a.m. for the daytime show and go till 3 p.m. Then I'll start at CNN and go from 3 to 11. It will be a lot of work, but as long as the work is invigorating and I'm having fun it should be fine.

Has the role of the TV news anchor changed?

I think it has. In cable news, there's so many opinionated anchors now. As a viewer, that's not something I'll watch. Opinion television doesn't really interest me, though I get why people like it. As a reporter, I try to see things from multiple angles. Viewers are smart and don't need to be told how to think about something.

Will the new daytime show change the Anderson Cooper brand?

I don't really think of myself that way. I know that "brand" is a buzzword these days and maybe I should think about it from a business standpoint, but it just doesn't interest me. To think of oneself as a brand doesn't add to my ability of getting better as an interviewer or being able to tell stories in a better way; it just makes one more self-conscious. I wouldn't want to talk to someone who thinks of themselves as a brand. I just find that kind of weird.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Last “Today” Good Morning: Meredith Vieira Bids Farewell To Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Frazier Moore

(Jun 08, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Meredith Vieira has spent her last morning hosting TV’s most-watched morning show.

The popular Today co-anchor ended her five-year run on Wednesday, telling viewers her decision to go is “right, but it’s hard.”

That decision was clearly hers alone. Seated beside co-host Matt Lauer, she has helped keep Today the audience front-runner among network morning shows. The 57-year-old Vieira has explained she wants to spend more time with her family.

Lauer called Vieira’s final day “a very bittersweet Wednesday morning.”

The broadcast made room for news about the nation’s severe-heat advisories and scandal-ridden Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Twitter woes. But throughout the show, tributes and highlight reels honoured Vieira’s Today tenure.

Vieira wiped her eyes as she was serenaded by Carole King with a Vieira favourite, “You’ve Got a Friend.” Then, spontaneously, she led the Today gang across the studio to gather around King at the piano.

Later, in a creative and technical tour de force, Vieira was surprised with a starring role in a live music video to the tune of Journey’s rousing classic “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Led by various members of the Today company, Vieira scampered and danced from the studio through the warrens of the Today control room and offices, then up the stairs and outside to Rockefeller Plaza where she was cheered by the gathered crowd.

The number ended in a cast-of-hundreds, Hollywood-worthy production number including Jimmy Fallon miming the song’s soaring guitar licks. (Special mention to the camera operator who caught the entire thing in a single flowing shot.)

A few minutes later, it was time to go.

Saying “I adore you,” Lauer told Vieira he marvels “that for someone who’s got talent as large as yours, how small your ego is. You’ve taught us all how to be great teammates.”

Weather anchor Al Roker called Vieira’s Today stay “five of the greatest years of our lives.”

But the good years should continue for Today. In what should be a smooth transition, Today show veteran Ann Curry will take over for Vieira at the anchor desk.

Meredith Vieira debuted as Lauer’s Today partner on a Wednesday in September 2006, saying she felt “like it’s the first day of school and I’m sitting next to the cutest guy.”

She was a longtime CBS newswoman, host of daytime’s The View and emcee of the syndicated game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire (where she continues).

But she had big shoes to fill: Those of Katie Couric, who had left NBC and Today to take over as anchor of The CBS Evening News.

Today continued with Vieira without suffering so much as a hiccup. Now it has gone more than 15 years not losing a single week in the ratings to either ABC’s or CBS’ morning competition.

“My one goal was not to mess it up,” Vieira said last December when Today crossed the 15-year mark. “I didn’t want to be the one in the anchor chair when we fell from first to second. I was really, really scared about that.”

Vieira’s predecessor, Couric, has recently exited CBS, and on Monday she announced she would be going to ABC, where she will report for the news division and, next year, launch a syndicated talk show.

In recent months, her much-reported interest in a talk show had sparked doubts about Lauer’s future on Today, where he has been a fixture since 1994. But in early May, Lauer said that although he had discussed re-teaming with Couric for a syndicated venture, “it’s not going to happen.” He said he would be staying put at the Today show “for a long time.”

::THEATRE NEWS::

Toronto Critics Name The Middle Place And South Pacific As Best Productions Of The Season

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Jun 06, 2011) The theatre critics of the four daily papers in Toronto have decided to unite and present an annual series of awards to honour the best in Toronto theatre.

J. Kelly Nestruck (The Globe and Mail), John Coulbourn (the Toronto Sun), Robert Cushman (the National Post) and myself met over the past two weeks in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford and lamented the fact that since the demise of the Toronto Drama Bench, following the ending of the Chalmers Award (which it used to vote on), there hasn’t been an opportunity for the critical community to praise in unison the talents who deserve it.

There are similar organizations in New York, London and Los Angeles, but in Canada only the Montreal English Critics’ Circle and the Capital Critics’ Circle in Ottawa serve this function.

Our intention is that this will be an annual event and we will be looking at broadening our membership base in future years.

But for the time being, the winners of the first Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards are as follows:

Best Canadian PlayThe Clockmaker by Stephen Massicotte. Tarragon Theatre.

Best Production of a PlayThe Middle Place. A Theatre Passe Muraille/Canadian Stage collaboration.

Best Production of a MusicalSouth Pacific. The Lincoln Centre Theater production, presented by Dancap Productions.

Best Director of a Play or Musical — Gina Wilkinson, Wide Awake Hearts. Tarragon Theatre.

Best Design — Robert Gardiner, set, light and video design for Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge. An Electric Company Theatre production presented by Canadian Stage.

Best Actress in a PlayYanna McIntosh, Ruined. Obsidian Theatre Company in association with Nightwood Theatre.

Best Actor in a Play — David Ferry, Blasted. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Best Supporting Actress in a Play — Cara Ricketts, Eternal Hydra (revival). Crow’s Theatre/Factory Theatre

Best Supporting Actor in a Play — Richard McMillan, After Akhmatova. Tarragon Theatre.

Best Actress in a Musical — Louise Pitre, A Year With Frog and Toad. LKTYP.

Best Actor in a Musical — Tony Sheldon, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Mirvish Productions.

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical — Kate Hennig, Billy Elliot. Mirvish Productions.

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical — Oliver Dennis, The Fantasticks. Soulpepper.

A special citation was also given to Ken Gass, Artistic Director of Factory Theatre: “Ken Gass would have earned the gratitude of the Toronto Theatre Critics if he had just founded Factory Theatre and made it the thriving home for Canadian playwrights that it became.

“But later in both his and the organization’s life, when it was about to close its doors, Gass returned and devoted his considerable energies to putting it on track again. It continues to be the place where some of the best Canadian playwrights debut, develop and grow. For all this and more, he deserves this commendation.”

The awards will consist of a certificate which will be presented to the winners at a time and venue to be announced in the near future.

Artistic Director Des Mcanuff To Leave Stratford Festival After 2013 Season

Source: www.globeandmail.com - by J. Kelly Nestruck

(June 4, 2011) Des McAnuff has extended his contract as artistic director at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for a sixth and final year, it was announced today. The 2013 season will be the Tony-winning director's last as the head of the country's most prominent theatre company.

"I think six years is a good term for an artistic director," said McAnuff, who shared the artistic directorship with Marti Maraden and Don Shipley in 2008 before assuming the top job.

In a release - that also revealed Christopher Plummer's return to Stratford for its 60th anniversary season next year - McAnuff said that international projects would pull him away from Stratford, Ont., after 2013, but that he hopes to return as a guest director in the future.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, McAnuff, whose Broadway hits include musicals Jersey Boys and The Who's Tommy, clarified that those projects included two with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, but that he would have moved on even without them looming. "I feel this is the right time," he said. "I might still have taken this decision even if I was planning on crossing the Sahara after leaving."

McAnuff has only just opened Stratford's 2011 season - including his own production of Jesus Christ Superstar on Friday night - but wanted to give the festival's Board of Governors plenty of time to search for a successor. The board will begin its hunt in August.

For the 2012 season, Christopher Plummer will return to Stratford once more to present a one-man show called A Word or Two, in which he tells how his love of writers such as Stephen Leacock, Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare have shaped his life.

Also on the 60th anniversary playbill will be three of Shakespeare's works: Henry V, directed by McAnuff; Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Shaw Festival artistic director emeritus Christopher Newton; and Cymbeline, directed by general director Antoni Cimolino.

In the Studio Theatre, performer Rick Miller will serve up Shakespeare with a twist, presenting his popular one-man show MacHomer, in which Macbeth meets The Simpsons.

Chicago-based director Gary Griffin will return to the festival for the fourth season in a row to stage 42nd Street, with music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. Two other classic musicals will be staged: Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny, and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore.

Chris Abraham - who is considered a contender for the artistic directorship of the Festival - will make his directorial debut in the 1,826-seat Festival Theatre with Thornton Wilder's comedy The Matchmaker. Athenian director Thomas Moschopoulo will visit from Greece to stage a Greek tragedy, Sophocles' Elektra in a translation by Canadian poet Anne Carson. Three world premieres of Canadian works will round out McAnuff's penultimate season: Wanderlust, a musical written and directed by Morris Panych with music by Marek Norman; The Best Brothers, a comedy by Daniel MacIvor; and The Hirsch Project (working title), an intimate portrait of former Festival artistic director John Hirsch created by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson.

 
Stratford’s Superstar Is An Absolute Knockout

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

Jesus Christ Superstar
By Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice. Directed by Des McAnuff. Until Oct. 20 at the Avon Theatre, Stratford.

(Jun 04, 2011) STRATFORD—It's taken 40 years, but I've finally experienced a production of
Jesus Christ Superstar that makes perfect dramatic, musical and emotional sense.

It opened Friday night at the Avon Theatre, directed by Des McAnuff and not only is it the knockout of opening week, it may very well be the best show you'll see this year.

For the very first time Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock musical about the final days in the life of Christ has met a creative team that know how to meet the material on its own terms — honouring its strengths, dealing with its weaknesses and treating the whole thing with a theatrical rigor and invention that makes it seem like it was written today.

From the opening moments, when a projected calendar announces the date as 2011, only to flip back to 33 as the contemporarily-dressed company strides forward, we are in a world that mixes past and present, sacred and profane, mind and body to glorious effect.

It's hard to know where to start the catalogue of praise. Paul Tazewell's costumes combine Al Qaeda with Pride Week and SoHo with Beirut in equal measures. There is modern style, ancient substance and an overall sense of colour that makes it all work superbly.

Lisa Shriver's choreography also combines the most current dances with moves that seem to have come from the mists of time, energizing everything they touch with true style.

Rick Fox's musical direction (as it did last year with Evita), excitingly restores Lloyd Webber's work to its original roots, where his rock and symphonic impulses engage in a battle that both sides ultimately win.

And then there's McAnuff's direction, always in motion, as the final week of Christ's life on earth hurries to its close. Robert Brill's structural set seems simple, but McAnuff wrests never-ending changes out of it, each one pleasing the eye, while fitting the action.

He also understands that the show is about many things: the complexity of three people trying to love each other, the struggle between might and right and the necessity of believing in something so strongly you can die for it.

Come to think of it, those are the same themes that drive Camelot and if you never thought the two shows were similar, then think again. There's a lot for the mind to seize on in Jesus Christ Superstar and McAnuff isn't afraid to fling it all on the table.

Once again, as with The Grapes of Wrath, you have to exult in the bench strength of a company that can fill every role with skill. Only Stratford can give us Brent Carver as Pilate, Bruce Dow as Herod, Mike Nadajewski as Peter and wildly talented young performers like Kyle Golemba and Jonathan Winsby in minor roles.

Carver is on a real winning streak this year, demonstrating to anyone with the eyes to see that one can act in a musical with depth and subtlety. His Pilate is a brilliant study of egomania and insecurity warring with each other and his final confrontation with Christ has an on-the-edge quality that is breathtaking.

Likewise Dow, who turns the potentially cloying “Herod's Song” into a piece of sheer theatrical wormwood, filled with poisonous evil and letting us peek into a nightmare worthy of Tim Burton in a song that lasts just over three minutes.

Then there's the three leading roles. Chilina Kennedy makes Mary Magdalene the pivotal point of the show's humanity, loving Jesus (and perhaps Judas) not wisely, but too well. She radiates concern, not need, empathy, not self-glorification and the result is endlessly touching.

Josh Young takes Judas into places I have never seen this character go, betraying Christ because of his unrequited love for him. Young's expressive voice, liquid eyes and physical engagement make him a character that it's impossible to forget.

Then there's Paul Nolan as Jesus. Director McAnuff came before the curtain on opening night to tell us Nolan had suddenly been stricken with viral bronchitis, but was going to continue in the role anyway.

On one level, it really didn't matter. Anyone who has seen Nolan in West Side Story or other roles, know he that has a fine singing voice. That will return in a few days and his failure to hit some of the part's high notes was just a passing disappointment.

What we didn't know is that he has the dramatic stature and complexity to play a Christ who is not a religious icon, but a real man, torn by demons, looking for love and anxious for approval from his father in heaven, as well as his followers on earth. He is a messiah capable of breaking your heart.

At one point in the second act, as everything flowed seamlessly together, I said to myself, “This could be Des McAnuff's next Broadway hit.”

I hope it is and I hope this entire Stratford company goes along for the journey. They're all that good.

No. They're all that great.

Plans Underway For Rocky: The Musical

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(Jun 02, 2011) Plans are underway for a stage musical adaptation of Rocky.

Songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have teamed with writer Thomas Meehan to create a new version of the 1976 Academy Award-winning boxing movie, and creators and producers — including the star of the film series, Sylvester Stallone — held a private reading of the work in New York last month. They hope to open the show in Germany late next year.

Meehan has previously worked on productions including ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Annie.’ He said discussions about the project have been ongoing for eight years and the group is now pleased with what they have come up with for the show.

“It’s been a long gestation period, but it’s come to be a work that we’re really proud of,” he told The New York Times.

“There was some worry early on — could we really make a musical out of a boxing picture? Could you make Rocky sing and dance? But when we did the reading, people were very impressed, and we’re going forward.”

Meehan said the small orchestra show will have around five principal characters. Stallone will be an artistic partner and producer, not as a cast member, and the plot follows the original Rocky movie, with emphasis on the emotional elements.

“At first I thought, all the world needs is a Rocky musical, but then I looked at the film. I thought it had beautiful construction and such high emotion, and it was a natural musical,” Meehan said.

“There is a David and Goliath story, a Cinderella story, a love story between two outcasts. It’s less about boxing than about finding self-respect and finding your soul mate.”

If the German production is a success, producers Stage Entertainment are hopeful of staging the musical on New York’s Broadway in spring 2013.

THEATRE TIDBITS

Bollywood Under The Stars

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

(Jun 06, 2011) Handout Seneca College’s Markham campus is hosting a free drive-in screening of the Bollywood comedy, 3 Idiots on June 10.  As part of the lead-up to the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in Toronto June 23-25, Seneca College’s Markham campus is hosting a free drive-in screening of the Bollywood comedy, 3 Idiots in the school parking lot June 10 starting at 9 p.m. The Bollywood hit stars Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Spots are available on a first-come, first served basis at the Seneca Markham Campus, 8 The Seneca Way (Hwy. 7 & Allstate Parkway).

::OTHER NEWS::

Dionne Brand Wins $75,000 Griffin Prize

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Vit Wagner

(Jun 01, 2011) Toronto poet laureate Dionne Brand is the Canadian winner of the $75,000 Griffin Poetry Prize, announced Wednesday evening during a gala dinner in Toronto's Distillery District.

Brand, previously nominated for the 2002 collection thirsty, won for Ossuaries, a book-length poem.

“Are you sure?” Brand said when the announcement was made by Irish writer and jury panellist Colm Toibin.

“This is so lovely,” she said before rhyming off a list of influences that spanned centuries and styles, ranging from the Russian master Alexander Pushkin to reggae great Bob Marley.

The international prize, also worth $75,000, went to U.S. poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg for Heavenly Questions.

“I come from a land where poets are used to thinking of their work as love's labour's lost, so we don't know what to say except thank you.”

The Canadian runners-up were former Canadian poet laureate John Steffler for Lookout and Chicago-based Suzanne Buffam for The Irrationalists.

On the international side, the field also included Human Chain by Ireland's Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney; Adonis: Selected Poems, a collection of verse by the famed Syrian poet Adonis translated by Khaled Mattawa; and The Book of Snow by the late Belgian poet François Jacqmin, translated by Philip Mosley.

Each of the runners-up received $10,000.

In all, the international jury of Tim Lilburn (Canada), Colm Toibin (Ireland) and Chase Twichell (U.S.A.) considered 450 entries, including 20 translations, from 37 countries.

French poet Yves Bonnefoy, who turns 88 later this month, was on hand at Tuesday's sold-out public reading by nominees at the Royal Conservatory's Koerner Hall to accept this year's Lifetime Recognition Award.

Bonnefoy, the author of nearly 20 poetry collections as well as numerous books of essays.

OTHER TIDBITS

We Remember: Black Panther Leader Elmer ‘Geronimo’ Pratt Dies at 63

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 3, 2011) *Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, a former Black Panther Party leader who spent 27 years in prison on a murder conviction that was later overturned, has died. He was 63. Pratt died at his home in a small village in Tanzania, where he had lived for at least half a decade, lawyer Stuart Hanlon, who assisted Johnny Cochran in helping Pratt win his freedom, told The Associated Press from San Francisco on Thursday. Hanlon said he learned of Pratt’s death through the former activist’s family members. He did not know what caused Pratt’s death, but said he had suffered from high blood pressure. Hanlon said Pratt refused to carry any resentment about his treatment by the legal system. “He had no anger, he had no bitterness, he had no desire for revenge. He wanted to resume his life and have children,” he said. “He would never look back.” The Los Angeles Times, which first reported Pratt’s death, quoted a family member as saying he died Thursday. Read/learn more at Google News.

::TECHNOLOGY::

Big Xbox Moves Revealed: Halo 4 And Kinect Games

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Jun 06, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Hardcore Kinect games, a Halo 4 tease and the addition of live TV were the big announcements at Microsoft's E3 news conference Monday about all the new things coming in the next year for the Xbox 360.

Of the big-three console makers, Microsoft is the only one not unveiling new hardware at this year's gaming industry event, so the company focused on rounding out product offerings for Kinect, their motion-sensing peripheral for the 360 that turns it into a rival of the Wii and PlayStation Move.

While more than 10 million Kinects have sold since its arrival last November, there have only been 23 games released for it, and most are more family-oriented. In the next year, though, voice and gesture controls are coming for games like Mass Effect 3 and Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier games.

“The Kinect gives a crazy new level of strategic control,” said Ray Muzyka, CEO of Edmonton's Bioware, which is creating the much-anticipated Mass Effect 3. Onstage he demonstrated how to use voice control to control teammates in a firefight; with Ghost Recon, a way to customize weapons with gestures and voice was also shown.

Other new games with Kinect support coming out include the Madden 12, Tiger Woods and Star Wars Kinect, which lets you brandish a virtual light sabre and use Star Wars' fabled Force.

Two new family-friendly games coming out are Disneyland Adventures, which lets you visit a virtual version of the amusement park and relive scenes from their famous films, and Once Upon a Monster, a new Sesame Street game from DoubleFine, a well-regarded studio run by Tim Schafer. “The success of Kinect can be seen with so many big name IPs (intellectual properties), like Star Wars and Disney coming on board,” said Kudo Tsunoda, Kinect's creative director.

Beyond using more of those voice controls in virtual worlds, the company also wants the Kinect sensor to replace the remote control in the living room, announcing that live TV would also be coming to the Xbox, and that voice control — including a search function which could seek out media in sources like Netflix or Xbox Live Marketplace — would be a part of the offering, although it's unknown if or when it will be available in Canada.

Other games that were shown included an underwater Navy Seal level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; Dance Central 2, which will now allow simultaneous multiplayer; Halo Anniversary, which is a HD remake of the original game; and a new Tomb Raider game which looks to reinvigorate that series. For Gears of War, lead designer Cliff Bleszinski brought Ice-T — who voices one of the game's characters — onstage and demonstrated a level where a Kraken-like beast had to be defeated.

More immediately, yesterday marked the launch of Kinect Fun Labs, which introduces amusing new ways to use the motion-control and scanning technology in interesting new ways that potentially could allow a huge amount of customization of games. One application allows you to scan real objects — a stuffed animal was used — that could then be rendered on-screen and virtually controlled.

The conference closed with short teaser trailer showing Master Chief, the protagonist of the Halo series, on a space station, as a new trilogy of games in the franchise begins.

Wii Controller Gets Its Screen Test

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Jun 07, 2011) LOS ANGELES—The most highly anticipated event of this year’s E3 conference was the Nintendo press event on Tuesday morning where details of the company’s latest home console would be revealed. The follow-up to the incredible selling Wii continues the company’s history of innovation with an integrated touch screen pad on the controller, and enough processing power to hang with its competitors.

Unveiled as the Wii U, the company’s stated goal is to create console that appeals to both hardcore gamers and the casual fans.

“When we launched the Wii, we stated a goal of expanding the game population and today we have seen changes in who plays, where we play and more importantly, how we play,” said Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s Global president. “That we have seen. What we haven’t achieved is a platform that is equally satisfying for all players, yet this is what we intend to create with our new home platform.”

Coming sometime in 2012: the Wii U controller, a thick tablet-like device with a 6.2-inch touch screen, two circles pads, buttons, internal gyroscope and accelerometer, microphone and a speaker.

“This is designed to appeal to all people, particular those who have played a lot of games,” added Iwata. “This was created so the widest variety of games will be available to be played.”

Described as ‘the Swiss Army knife of controllers’ by one developer, the most interesting thing shown was new ways that the device could be used to play games, and in particular moving gaming off the TV. For example, if someone in your home interrupts your play to claim the TV, you can simply continue playing on the on-screen controller, while they watch what they want.

Other interesting applications include using the second screen for targeting on the big screen. In a golf demo, the controller was placed on the floor showing the ball, and the Wii remote swung as a golf club. Another game demo had the player holding the tablet controller flat and swiping a hand along its surface to fire shurikens (ninja stars) off to hit targets. In racing games, the controller could provide an onscreen map of the course; in role playing game, your character’s inventory could be on the screen. The Wii U was also shown becoming a virtual board game and being used to make video calls or surf the web.

“It’s a new structure for home entertainment. The most important factor is how this new structure can be incorporated into game play,” said Iwata. “We decided on this new structure, because we want to create a strong bond between games, your TV and the Internet, and we want you, your friends and family to interact in the same room.”

There are definitely some inspirations taken from Apple’s iPad that have been used, but the company was very clear that the new controller is not a portable system, as the games will run off the main console.

Despite showing off the new controller, very few details were given about the technical specifications of the new console, other than knowing that it will be backwards-compatible with all existing Wii games and will support HD graphics, although at first glance, they still look a little bit lesser than the Xbox 360 and PS3. There was no mention at all of what it might cost, or a potential release date beyond 2012.

Nintendo also made it clear that the company will only be showing technical prototypes, but no actual Wii U games, on the show floor. The company did say that there will be a new a new Super Smash Bros. game will be made, that will work across the Wii U and 3DS platforms, and there were not a lot of new first party titles announced.

Nintendo traditionally has not been the best company in dealing with third-party creators, but intriguingly, a number of big franchises known from other platforms are already working on Wii U versions of their games and seem to be excited about the possibilities.

“This is a console based on a stunning breakthrough in gameplay technology, with brilliant graphics, and new gameplay possibilities,” said John Riccitiello, president of EA. “Imagine playing football, with all the play calling off the big screen, with a sharper, more immersive HD experience.”

New games that are already being worked on for the device include Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham City, Tekken, Assassin’s Creed and Ghost Recon Online. The new system will also an open online mode, which will likely be able to beef up the multiplayer experience, which has been a weakness of the Wii.

Beyond the reveal of the Wii U, the company focused on their recently released portable, the 3DS, announcing five new games that feature the company’s most popular characters including a new Super Mario game, Starfox 3D, Luigi’s Mansion, Mario Kart and Kid Icarus: Uprising. Nintendo’s rabid fan base is built on it list of enduring character, and each of these franchises have large fan followings.

A number of third-party 3DS games were also shown, including Resident Evil: Mercenaries, Cave Story 3D, Tetris, Metal Gear: Solid Snake Eater 3D and more. That was a good sign, as the 3DS launch line-up did not have a lot of new games and featured many ports of older games for other platforms.

The company also announced plans for celebrations of the 25 anniversary of Zelda, with re-releases of Zelda games for all of its platforms this year, as well as live symphony concerts around the world celebrating the music of the games.

::TRAVEL::

All Aboard: Romance on the Rails

Source:  Melanie Reffes

(Jun 07, 2011) Planning a lovers tryst or even a longer vacation is a challenge these days. With the high price of gas, airline delays and hotel rooms that are never ready before 3 pm, time away can be more stressful than a week in the office. So pack your partner, book a pair of window seats and thank your lucky stars you left the car at home.

Whether it’s a cross-continent adventure or a romantic interlude pour deux, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Edna St. Vincent Millay said it right when she wrote ‘My heart is warm with the friends I make, And better friends I’ll not be knowing; Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take, No matter where it’s going.’

For grand views of the Canadian West, the
Rocky Mountaineer train recaptures the romance of rail as it meanders from British Columbia to Alberta. Rolling along a route that hasn’t changed in a hundred years, the train travels during daylight hours for spectacular vistas of the glacier-fed lakes, majestic mountain ranges and ferocious rivers.

It’s Dome Sweet Dome in a two level; glass-domed GoldLeaf coach
that puts you right in the middle of the awe-inspiring scenery of the Canadian Rockies. “We are constantly innovating to keep our product best-in-class while offering greater travel options for our guests,” says Randy Powell, president, Rocky Mountaineer. Visit www.rockymountaineer.com.

For romance on the eastern side of Canada, it’s the stuff of romance
novels as the train travels cross-country past mountain sheep grazing in the Rockies, elk lumbering outside Jasper and the bright lights of the Toronto skyline. The aptly named “Canadian” VIA Rail train makes the trip traversing the landscape in high-style with stellar service that’s well worth the splurge.  Pampering newlyweds with comfy sleeping compartments, pillow-top chocolates, top-shelf wine, breakfast in bed and 360 degree views from the panoramic Dome car, the Canadian train also starts in Toronto making the same trip westbound to Vancouver. Visit www.viarail.ca.

Built in 1897 to connect the Gold Country and Central Valley, California’s Sierra Railroad has appeared in more than three hundred films including High Noon and Unforgiven. Departing from Oakdale, just east of San Francisco, the historic train hosts onboard entertainment from Wild West shows and wine tastings to murder mystery theatre. Visit
www.sierrarailroad.com/

For something completely different, Peru Rail offers a day trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu aboard the art deco Hiram Bingham train. Named in honor of the anthropologist who discovered the Inca citadel in 1911, the 1920’s Pullman ambles past towering mountains and peaceful villages at the foothills of the Andes.  Skirting the roaring waters of the Urubamba River and rolling through a dramatic canyon before reaching the World Heritage Site, this heart-palpitating adventure is the stuff of lasting memories.  Visit
www.perurail.com

Top Train Movies – courtesy Amtrak.com

Movies and trains — what better combination? Here are just a few films you may remember that feature trains or feature memorable train scenes.



Polar Express, 2004
Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1997
Steve Martin, John Candy

The Great Train Robbery, 1979
Sean Connery, Lesley-Anne Down

Murder on the Orient Express, 1974
Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman

The Sting, 1973
John Wayne, Ann-Margret

The French Connection, 1971
Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
Paul Newman, Robert Redford

Doctor Zhivago, 1965
Omar Sharif, Julie Christie

A Hard Day’s Night, 1964
The Beatles

North by Northwest, 1959
Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

Some Like It Hot, 1959
Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon

The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957
William Holden, Alex Guiness

Shanghai Express, 1932
Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong

The General, 1927
Buster Keaton

::SPORTS NEWS::

Bruins Rout Canucks 4-0 To Pull Even In Game 4 Of Stanley Cup Final

Source:  www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter

(Jun 08, 2011) BOSTON—That devastating late hit that sent Nathan Horton to the hospital continues to reverberate in the Stanley Cup final.

And the tremors are all in the Boston’s favour.

While the story of how the Bruins are rallying around the absence of Horton — out with a severe concussion after getting crushed by a late Aaron Rome hit — has been a poignant side story, there were practical questions to be considered by the Beantowners as they prepared for Game 4 .

Well, they pounded out emphatic answers by pounding the Canucks 4-0 on Wednesday night, another onslaught coming in the wake of an 8-1 evisceration on Monday. The victory, hard-earned during a wonderfully intense night at the TD Garden, evens a Stanley Cup final that is growing with intrigue at two games each.

One of these teams will have a chance to lift the Stanley Cup on Garden ice on Monday after a couple of cross-continent treks to play Game 5 at Vancouver on Friday.

Coming into game, there was much chatter about who would step up to replace the offence that disappeared when Horton went down. While the winger did not have a point in the final, his eight goals through the playoffs ranked him second on the Bruins, as did his 17 points.

While the Bruins would clearly rather have Horton in uniform — and the fans chanted his name in the third period — his absence hasn’t hurt the Boston’s offence. Odd to say about a top-line winger, but the numbers are there. Since he went down five minutes into Game 3, the Bruins have outscored Vancouver 12-1 after managing just two goals in the first two games.

For this one, Rich Peverley was tapped to take Horton’s spot on the top line and it was Peverley who put Boston on the board with his first of two goals. Taking a terrific, chip-ahead pass from David Krejci, Peverley broke in on Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo and tucked the puck into widening chasm created as the struggling goalie’s pads parted.

It was then Michael Ryder, assisted by Tyler Seguin — who came into the lineup to take Horton’s roster spot — who made it 2-0 with a wrist shot that chipped off the stick of defenceman Sami Salo and knuckled under Luongo’s catching glove.

It was another tremor from the hit but not the final aftershock.

Rome was given a four-game suspension — the longest in a Stanley Cup final — for his check on Horton, which meant Keith Ballard, deemed not good enough to play the first three games of the final, came into the Vancouver lineup. He would figure significantly in Boston’s third goal, from Brad Marchand.

On the play, Marchand pursued Ballard, who was carrying the puck behind the net. Marchand tripped him up to cause a turnover and Ballard was slow to get up, laying on the ice pleading for a penalty. Marchand scooted in front, took a pass from Patrice Bergeron and chipped a backhand over the outstretched glove of Luongo.

Fittingly, it was Peverley who scored again early in the third to make it 4-0 on a goal set up off a brilliant rush by Milan Lucic, who had a tremendous game and danced around a Kevin Bieksa hip check on this goal. That chased Luongo, who gave up 12 goals in five periods of work before getting the hook for Cory Schneider.

The Bruins struck all the right emotional notes to get the crowd into this game from the start. The honorary banner captain for the night was iconic Boston star Bobby Orr and he appeared in Bruins jersey waving a Nathan Horton No. 18 flag. The fans went bonkers of course.

What did the Canucks have going for them on foreign ice? Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the crowd as were Vancouver’s Green Men.

Orr wins. By himself.

Orr is also Horton’s agent. And his emotions boiled to the surface when speaking to the Boston Herald about the Rome hit.

“It was absolute bull. It was uncalled for,” Orr said of the bodyslam on his client. “It was wrong and you lose Nathan Horton, for God’s sake. What does a fine mean? What does a suspension mean? Nothing. It’s absolute garbage. A blindside hit, late and high, is everything the league despises and says they don’t want in the game.”

On this night, however, the ramifications worked to Boston’s advantage.

LeBron James Feels Heat For Game 4 Vanishing Act

Source:  www.thestar.com – Doug Smith

(Jun 08, 2011) DALLAS—The lightning rod that is LeBron James is fully operational as the NBA final approaches a dramatic conclusion.

Coming off the worst playoff game of his career, a desultory eight-point performance as his Miami Heat lost 86-83 to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday to reduce the series to a best-of-three affair, James has been getting hammered from all corners.

The story of Tuesday’s game was as much about his failings — no points in the final quarter, no baskets for his final 15 minutes on the court — as it was about the inspirational performance of a feverish Dirk Nowitzki.

The aftermath included criticisms from the iconic Magic Johnson, who tweeted a jab or two at James, and the entire basketball world looked at his detached performance with eyebrows raised.

And Dallas’s DeShawn Stevenson, who early in the series suggested James and teammate Dwyane Wade were “great” actors, took another shot Tuesday, saying he thought James “checked out” in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game.

It’s one thing to be criticized by a Hall of Famer like Johnson; it’s quite another for an NBA journeyman like Stevenson to take a shot but that’s where James finds himself now.

DeShawn, he’s been talking for a long time, since our Washington-Cleveland days,” said James. “I don’t let that get to us. . . . Talk is cheap. You have to play the game of basketball.

“Let the scores and the plays define the game. We don’t get caught up in that too much.”

Trouble is, if James wants to let the scores and plays define the games, he is by definition failing.

While Wade had it going well Tuesday night and Chris Bosh had his best game of the final, James made just three of 11 shots and was a non-factor in almost all his 46 minutes.

But responding to Stevenson showed about as much fight as James had in him before the Heat practised at the American Airlines Center.

He wasn’t defiant, he didn’t promise a Jamesian domination of Thursday’s Game 5 and he certainly didn’t offer any concrete reason for his Game 4 vanishing act.

He spoke in nebulous terms about not having a rhythm, not wanting to force the issue. No specifics at all.

“You’re at a point where you just not in a good rhythm,” he said by way of explanation. “You start aiming shots, you start thinking about plays too much. You start thinking about the game too much instead of going out and reading and react and playing the game.

“It happens to all of us where you get to a point where you feel so out of rhythm, you try to impact the game some other way than offensively. I try to rebound the ball, try to defend.”

But seeing how James’s primary defensive responsibilities in Game 4 were Stevenson (11 points), Jason Terry (17) points and Shawn Marion (16 points), it wasn’t as if James had a dominating impact on that end of the court, either.

James’s teammates don’t want to force the issue too much with him. They know he’s capable of exploding at any time but they aren’t going to adjust what they do too much to make sure he does.

“If I say something to him, it’s about . . . putting his mark on the series and obviously he’s had a lot of time to think, a lot of things (have been) said,” said Wade. “So obviously he wants to do it.

“But at the same time he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on himself. That’s what we’re here for, we’re his teammates, we have his back.

“We have another game, and I think he’s going to respond very well. That don’t mean he’s going to score 50. But I think his mentality will be a little different.”

'Mini Bolt' On His Way To Toronto For July Track Meet

Source:  www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman

(Jun 08, 2011) Toronto got the chance to see the great Usain Bolt in the flesh two years ago.

Now, they'll get the opportunity to see his heir apparent.

Jamaican sprinter
Johan Blake, the youngest sprinter to break the 10-second barrier and a training partner of Bolt, has been signed to run July 13 in the Toronto International Track and Field Games.

It's a nice coup for the organizers of the meet, which will be the finale to the inaugural National Track League series which gets underway June 29 with the Edmonton International Track Classic.

The 21-year-old Blake has been posting the kind of times in his young career that have many speculating he'll be giving Bolt all he can handle. Not that any of this would come as a surprise to the triple Olympic gold medalist, who gets to see him train every day as they are both part of the same group under coach Glen Mills.

"This kid is like a beast," Bolt told the BBC in an interview posted on their website last month. "If you see him in training, he strives to beat me every day in training. He works so hard and he's going to be really good in the future I promise – that's one thing I'm sure of.

"He tells me 'I'm going to beat you.' I keep telling him 'No! It's not going to happen.' That keeps me on my toes – because I see how hard he works."

Blake season-opening time of 9.80 seconds at a meet in Jamaica was the fastest opener since Bolt's incredible 2008 season, but the wind reading of plus 2.2 metres per second was over the allowable limit of 2.0.

He showed his form again Tuesday when he beat France's Christophe Lemaitre at an international meet in Montreuil, France with a season's best time of 9.95 seconds, 1/100th ahead of the Frenchman, who broke his own national record. Blake's personal best is 9.89 seconds.

The National Track League will feature Canadian stars Perdita Felicien and Dylan Armstrong with events also in Vancouver, Victoria and Halifax.

Felicien is a former world champion and world silver medalist hurdler who has her eyes firmly focused on London, while Armstrong is having a big season in men's shot put and leads the Diamond League series.