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LE NEWSLETTER

May 26, 2011
 
 
Hope you had a good long weekend, as I did.  But more rain?  Really?  We're coasting into the last few days of spring weather and into the warm weather of summer! (Hey, I'm optimistic!)

What a great concert last Thursday at Revival which was a special fundraiser
called Congo Classrooms for a Brighter Future, featuring an array of talented artists.  Check my PHOTO GALLERY for loads of pics (and not close to all inclusive of all the artists that performed that night).  Congrats to all involved in this well-produced show!
 
 And the end of an era with Oprah's last big show ... check out the TOP STORIES about some Canadians we know and love and her impact on them!

 
 
Don't forget 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 Mary and the Mighty Clouds of Joy.  Wow!  It's all part of the BlackCreek festival.

 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! 

 
Remember you can just click on the titles or pics and it will take you to the full articles!

 This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members!

::TOP STORIES::

Comedian Russell Peters ' Newest DVD Releases May 31st, 2011 Across Canada

Source: Sonya Bhatia

(May 25, 2011) Toronto –Global comedy rock-star, Russell Peters is back with a new DVD; recorded over two record-breaking nights in London, England, The Green Card Tour, LIVE from the O2 Arena releases across Canada on May 31st, 2011 with Warner Music Canada Co.. This is Peters third DVD.
 
***Note: Russell Peters will do an in store signing on Tuesday, May 31st from 6pm until 8pm at HMV Square One, Mississauga, Ontario. No other cities have been confirmed at this time.
 
Cheeky, controversial and always hilarious, Peters once again delivers his trademark take on race and culture as well as his lightning quick improv in front of 30,000 fans at London’s O2 Arena.  Russell shares his observations on everything from the declining population of white people, to the stereotyping of Arabs, to his recent travels in India.
 
“I think that this is one of the most visually stunning stand-up DVD’s ever!” says Peters.  “Oh yeah… and it’s pretty funny too!” 
 
Peters got married last August and had a baby girl in December.  He also shot four movies, the recently released sci-fi thriller, Source Code, the Sikh ice hockey film, Breakaway, scheduled for release this fall, New Year's Eve, the ensemble sequel to Valentine's Day and the indie coming-of-age film, See if I Care with Eva Mendes.
 
The Green Card Tour LIVE from the O2 Arena will also be available in blu-ray and features an extended 90 minute performance as well as over two hours of bonus features, including, deleted scenes, bloopers, behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentary as well as a music video by Hip Hop legend Masta Ace.  
 
On June 14th, the 60 minute broadcast version of The Green Card Tour LIVE from the O2 Arena will be released on iTunes Canada. The special will be broadcast on SHOWTIME Networks in the US with a Canadian partner to be announced shortly.
 
The Green Card Tour LIVE from the O2 Arena is executive produced by Russell Peters and Clayton Peters and will be distributed by Warner Music Canada Co.
 
For more information on Russell Peters visit www.russellpeters.com.
 
Born in Toronto, Canada, Russell Peters is a global comedy rock-star and internet sensation.  His Youtube clips have been viewed over 60 million times and he has performed to sold-out crowds from Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, to New York’s Madison Square Garden, to the Sydney Opera House to London’s O2 Arena where he established a new attendance record. Over the course of his twenty-plus year career, he has headlined comedy festivals throughout North America and has performed sold-out arena tours worldwide. Peters has appeared on Showtime, Comedy Central, HBO, the CBC, BBC, CTV, CNN, TBS, CBS, ABC and NBC.  Peters was ranked by Forbes as one of the top ten highest grossing comics in the US in 2009 and 2010, alongside Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld.  Peters DVD releases, Outsourced and Red, White and Brown have sold in excess of 300,000 units and his first book, Call Me Russell was a number one bestseller and will be released in paperback on July 26th.

Former Caribana now called Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - Henry Stancu

(May 25, 2011) It’s more of a mouthful than it used to be.

Caribana, the celebration of Caribbean culture that brings more than a million people to the streets of Toronto each summer, has a new name. The 44th annual event will now be known as the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto, organizers announced Wednesday.

Mike Colle, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, announced a $400,000 provincial “investment” in the carnival.

Councilor Joe Mihevc said the city will contribute “just under $500,000 in cash as well as $100,000 of relief of permit fees.”

The name change, ordered earlier this month by the Ontario Superior Court, is the latest in a long-running battle over the massively popular festival.

Caribana is trademarked by the Caribana Arts Group (CAG), successor of the Caribbean Cultural Committee which founded the annual event in 1967 but lost control in 2006.

That’s when the city and province cut funding after organizers failed to produce adequate financial statements. Control was transferred to the Festival Management Committee (FMC) and the event was officially called the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

The CAG claims the carnival itself is the group’s intellectual property and its chair, Henry Gomez, said they’re prepared to go to court again unless FMC acknowledges CAG’s ownership.

In 2009, the festival attracted 1.2 million people, including 300,000 from outside the country, and helped fill 85 per cent of Toronto’s hotel rooms. That year, it generated $483 million for the provincial economy.

But last year, an expected $600,000 in federal and provincial grants didn’t come through. The festival’s budget decreased from $2.6 million to $1.8 million.

“We have to bring our festival in line with others like Luminato and the Harbourfront Centre because what has happened in the past we were so skewed in how we ran the festival that it hamstrung us in getting grants,” said Denise Herrera-Jackson, the FMC’s chief executive officer.

She said the committee wants to run the event like other successful organizations whose funding is evenly split between sponsors, grants and self-generating profits.

“We have beautiful events, but they don’t generate enough money, so we have to find other ways to capture revenues.”

The festival’s major sponsor is Scotiabank, with several other corporate partners including GraceKennedy Inc., the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum, and media partners such as the Toronto Star and CTV.

Among new events planned are Caribbean art shows at the ROM and Gladstone Hotel, a rugby match between the Jamaican and Canadian national teams and a Canadian citizenship ceremony.

Canadian Fans Gather To Watch Oprah Show Finale

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(May 24, 2011) When Jemini cancels her cable TV account tomorrow,
the company shouldn’t take it personally; the blame lies with the world’s most famous talk show host.

With the conclusion of
The Oprah Winfrey Show today, the Toronto poet and media personality’s need for the boob tube will cease, too.

“Since the last two, three years, I basically watch everything online, but Oprah does not play that online stuff at all,” Jemini explained. “I only have a television and cable bill for Oprah; and as soon as she’s done I’m cutting out my cable.”

Jemini, who said she’s not yet feeling the pull of the fledgling Oprah Winfrey Network, could’ve actually disconnected today, since she’ll be watching the finale with friends at the home of Toronto playwright
trey anthony.

“This is a woman who has significantly impacted my life and been such a role model for me, so it was necessary to do something, to say ‘Let us all as women gather together and watch the final episode,’” said anthony of the celebration that will feature bubbly and Caribbean food.

“I think it's going to be a very sentimental moment.”

Anthony had no problem interrupting rehearsals for this summer’s Harbourfront Centre remount of her celebrated play, da Kink in My Hair, for the mid-week fete: business associates usually learned that she was unavailable when Winfrey’s show aired at 4 p.m. The 36-year-old said she has watched in real time with rare exceptions since age 12.

The diehard Oprahphile, who can rhyme off a list of favourite episodes and has a Winfrey quote — “My life pattern has been that whenever I have outgrown a circumstance or a situation, I move on, regardless of whether I know what the future holds” — as her email tagline, recently fulfilled a longtime dream of attending a taping of the popular talk show when she and high school pal Rachael-Lea Rickards were selected for the audience of an April segment on best friends.

(This post-show clip shows anthony in the front row: http://bit.ly/geYeJi).

“She really changed the face of history and for myself, she made it possible to even say ‘the first African Canadian woman to have a show on a prime time network’ (’da Kink in My Hair on Global in 2007),” said anthony. “I don’t think I would’ve felt that was possible unless I’d seen a woman like her, who looked like me, be on TV.”

As “a young, black woman in the media,” thirty-something Jemini was equally inspired but recalled a time when her enthusiasm for Winfrey waned.

“There were a few years where I started to feel like this is not the Oprah that I knew,” she explained. “It seemed to me like there were no black people in her audiences and it felt like she was taken over by the white ladies who lunch in America and all the celebrities. And one day a southern, white guy stood up, he was just fraught with emotion and he wanted to do for her the Harpo speech (from Winfrey’s 1985 Oscar-nominated role in the movie The Color Purple).

“He shook me. What would make this white man connect not only with Oprah, but with The Color Purple and that one character? I saw that it’s not about who she is for me.”

Growing up in Regina, Sask., Janice Taylor was having her own Oprah moments.

“When I was young, I was overweight and I grew up in a broken home and we had some crazy poverty issues,” said Young, 36. “Any time Oprah started to relate to her personal life experiences that helped me. She really let you know that you’re okay.”

Divorced mother of two Taylor was one of 150 “Ultimate Viewers” who won a trip to Australia with The Oprah Winfrey Show in December. She’ll be watching the last episode at home with a couple of girlfriends. Just as well the program is ending since she could hardly find time to tune in anymore.

“I’m busy living my best life possible, which often doesn’t include TV,” said Taylor, mouthing a common Winfrey aspiration.

“When I think about with her finishing her show, I wonder who is going to fill the shoes of a female role model for kids and teens and girls today. Lady Gaga has got some fine things to say, but I think, in terms of empowering women, it is our obligation now, the ordinary women, the women in their homes; we need to start becoming those role models.

“She’s given enough lessons over 25 years, surely to God you think we’d figure it out.”

Macho Man Randy Savage Dies In Car Accident In Florida

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Harry R. Weber

(May 20, 2011)
Randy (Macho Man) Savage, the professional wrestler known for his raspy voice, the sunglasses and bandanas he wore in the ring and the young woman named Miss Elizabeth who often accompanied him, died in a car crash Friday in Florida. He was 58.

A Florida Highway Patrol crash report said the former wrestler — whose legal name was Randy Mario Poffo — was driving a Jeep Wrangler when he lost control in Pinellas County around 9:25 a.m. The Jeep veered over the raised concrete median divider, crossed over the eastbound lanes and collided head-on with a tree.

Police said he may have suffered a “medical event” before the accident, but the report did not elaborate, and it said officials would need to perform an autopsy to know for sure.

The report said a woman in the vehicle, identified as Barbara L. Poffo, 56, suffered minor injuries. A statement from Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Entertainment said the passenger was the wrestler's current wife. Both were wearing their seatbelts, according to the police report.

Poffo will be greatly missed by WWE and his fans,” the statement said.

Savage was a charismatic wrestler made famous for his nickname and his “Oooh Yeah!” catchphrase. He was a champion in Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation, and later Ted Turner's now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.

Poffo was under contract with WWE from 1985 to 1993 and held both the WWE and Intercontinental Championships.

“Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends. We wish a speedy recovery to his wife Lynn,” WWE said.

Savage defined the larger-than-life personalities of the 1980s World Wrestling Federation (now WWE). He wore sequined robes bejewelled with “Macho Man” on the back, rainbow-coloured cowboy hats and oversized sunglasses, part of a unique look that helped build the WWF into a mainstream phenomenon.

For most of his career, his valet, Miss Elizabeth, was by his side. Elizabeth Hulette was his real-life wife at the time. They later divorced, and Hulette died in 2003 at 42 in what was later ruled a prescription drug overdose. She was among many performers in the sport to die young.

Others include Curt (Mr. Perfect) Hennig, who died of a cocaine overdose in 2003 at 44, and Montreal's Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and son and then committed suicide in their Georgia home in 2007. Benoit was 40.

The WWF made Savage their champion after a win over Ted DiBiase in the main event at WrestleMania in 1988.

Savage had not appeared for a major wrestling organization since 2004, when he performed for Total Nonstop Action.

He was at times both the most popular and most hated wrestler in entertainment. His flying elbow off the top rope was mimicked by basement and backyard wrestlers everywhere. Savage made good use of his deep, raspy voice as a corporate pitchman as well, for years ordering Slim Jim fans to “Snap into it!”

He's most known for his legendary rivalries with Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair. Wrestlers took to Twitter to let fans know Savage won't be forgotten.

Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson hailed Savage as one of his childhood inspirations and heroes, while Mick (Cactus Jack) Foley called Savage “one of my favourite performers.”

Hogan said he and Savage had just started talking again after 10 years.

“He had so much life in his eyes & in his spirit, I just pray that he's happy and in a better place and we miss him,” Hogan wrote.

While so many personalities who left the WWF for WCW like Hogan, Roddy Piper and Mean Gene Okerlund were welcomed back to the company and even inducted into the Hall of Fame, Savage never returned.

Savage was a minor league catcher in the 1970s for St. Louis and Cincinnati before turning in the uniform for tights. His father, Angelo Poffo, was a longtime wrestler, and his brother, (Leaping) Lanny Poffo, was also a 1980s WWF mainstay. Condolences from fans poured in to Lanny Poffo's Facebook page on Friday.

Rihanna, Britney Kick Off Revived Billboard Awards

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Associated Press

(May 22, 2011) After five years of dormancy, the
Billboard Music Awards were revived Sunday with a major dose of star power.

Rihanna got the show off to a steamy start, wearing a skimpy leather outfit for her hit song “S&M,” and was joined at the end of the number by Britney Spears, who appears on a remix on the track.

Taylor Swift won the evening's first award, as top album artist, behind the multi-million sales for “Speak Now.”

“The impact of an album is all determined by the fans,” she told the audience. “You've just given me another reason to be completely in love with you.”

Other award winners included Justin Bieber (digital artist) and the Black Eyed Peas (top duo/group).

Beyoncé received a special Millennium Award for her career achievements: The 29-year-old phenomenon was lauded in a video b
y an array of legends and luminaries, including Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Bono, Lady Gaga and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“This is a moment I have to soak in because it's gonna be — and it is — one of the best moments of my life,” said Beyoncé after getting the award from her mother, Tina Knowles. Beyoncé also performed her new song, “Run the World (Girls).”

This year marks the Billboard Awards' rebirth. The Billboard Awards had been a staple since 1989, but gave out what appeared to be its last award in 2006. This year, the show was brought back.

It was held in Las Vegas, broadcast live on ABC and hosted by “The Hangover 2'“ star Ken Jeong.

The Billboard Music Awards are given out to music's most popular
artists. The finalists and winners are determined by their rank on the Billboard charts and their “social and streaming activity.”

Rihanna is the top finalist, competing in 18 categories. Among the awards she's up for include top artist, top female artist, and top radio songs artist.

Eminem's name appears in 16 categories, including top artist. He's also vying for top male artist as well as top social artist.

::MUSIC NEWS::

AUDIO: Lindi Ortega Does The Boss

Source: www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(May 24, 2011) Local music fans know rootsy lonely-heart troubadour
Lindi Ortega from our profile last year, her gig opening for Brandon Flowers of the Killers and more. But a doff of the cap to the local Explore Music site for coaxing this cover of "I'm On Fire" - from Bruce Springsteen's immortal 1984 album Born in the U.S.A., naturally - out of her:

Ortega's new album Little Red Boots is out here June 7, and she does an album release June 6 at the Dakota Tavern. She's very much on the rise. And a Springsteen cover is just one of those near-obligatory steps in an artist's career. Natalie Cole had a big hit with "Pink Cadillac," but the Boss' songcraft has attracted all kinds of tributes. Take a listen below:

Lots of the cover acts above offer rootsy and/or gritty takes on Springsteen songs. Not everybody, though. John Sakamoto notes one particular cover that the Boss apparently wishes you wouldn't hear. Kevin Rowland of Dexy's Midnight Runners had to remove this rather ornate version of "Thunder Road" from his 1999 album My Beauty after Springsteen objected. Take it away, unauthorized YouTube uploader:

Does make you want to put the original on, though, doesn't it?

 
Britain's Tinie Tempah Sets Sights On New World Success

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Robert Everett-Green

(May 20, 2011) The Atlantic Ocean never seems wider than when
British rappers try to cross it. The roar of renown (including the coveted Mercury Prize) that propelled Dizzee Rascal and Ms. Dynamite across the pond dwindled to a polite round of applause when they stepped on to North American soil.

Were they too Cockney, too grime-y, too un-American in their failure to conform to the po-faced gangsta-ness of U.S. rap? Neither was as big, even in England, as
Tinie Tempah (Patrick Okogwu), the London-born rapper who had four hit singles in Britain before the fall release of his album, Disc-Overy, which became the highest-selling debut disc of the year.

In England, the adjective that seems most often attached to Tempah these days is "ubiquitous." When I dropped into one of his first Canadian gigs, on the night of our federal election, the small club was jammed with early adopters who knew every word to every song - but it was a small club, not the stadiums that Tempah is on the brink of filling at home.

Disc-Overy has been tweaked a bit for its North American release, with two tracks replaced. The British cover image, of Tempah cradling the city of New York in his arms, obviously had no need for an update. Written in the Stars, his first single over here, was in the Top 10 on the Billboard pop chart when the album dropped this week (the song is No. 20 on SoundScan's Canadian radio charts), which may be a sign that here at last is a Brit MC who can find a big public in the former colonies.

The album's a vigorous mishmash that plunders sounds, rhythms and attitudes from all over the pop spectrum. Pass Out wrangles vintage video-game beeps, peppery drum beats and a thick synth bass for a rampageous party song that takes a hard twist into reggae-land late in the track. Illusion makes its high-stepping way across a rather martial drum loop ("left, right, left, right") before spiralling up for the chorus through an overlapping sequence of exuberant synth lines.

Miami 2 Ibiza typifies Tempah's stage persona, as the guy who is both impressed and bemused by the ruckus of fame, useful to him in this song mainly as the source of a running lyric device involving the initials of high-end designers and products. In Frisky, his staccato verses celebrate the high thrills and low responsibility of sex with groupies, while also making a play (surely ironic) for him to be seen as a sensitive bloke. Like Drake, this newcomer is already musing about the cost of his success, in tracks like Let Go, and in Illusion's implicit comparison between his current wonderland and the Narnia he wished he could escape to as a kid.

There's a fair amount of stylistic opportunism going on here, typical of a new player trying to ring as many bells as possible right away. The chorus of Written in the Stars has the kind of soaring, bland, aspirational sound that makes my head hurt, but that has pushed a zillion other songs to certified gold sales (already achieved in Canada). Love Suicide, the album's closest thing to a ballad, features some unconvincing guitar strumming and a soulful chorus vocal by Ester Dean that somehow makes the thing sound less genuine, not more.

In short, there's good stuff here, as well as cheesy things, that could spell happy days for Tempah in the New World. As he says in Written on the Stars, "I'm on my way."

Disc-Overy
Tinie Tempah
Capitol/EMI


 
Chaka Khan is Hollywood Walk of Fame’s Newest Star

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(
May 20, 2011) *Chaka Khan received her long overdue star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame during a ceremony yesterday that included her family and good friend Stevie Wonder.

“We’re all very excited for Chaka,” Stevie told the crowd before breaking into an acapella version of her hit “Tell Me Something Good,” which he wrote for her in 1974.

 “Oh my god,” Khan said. “I’m like, oh, hell to the no. This is so fabulous. I am so honoured. I don’t … do I deserve this? All I’m doing is what I love to do.”

“Singing is my sanity,” she added. “That is the way I stay as balanced as I possibly can, if you want to call this a balance. The best thing that you can do is to do something that you love and believe in. This is a blessing. This is another jewel in a crown of many jewels that I wear spiritually.”

 “When I told a lot of people I was getting my star, they said ‘you ain’t got no star? I thought you had a star 20 years ago!’” she said.

Khan received the 2,440th star in the Recording category and it is located at 6623 Hollywood Boulevard, in front of the My Studio nightclub in Los Angeles.

Damian Marley Collaborates with Mick Jagger

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *
Damian Marley is known for his unique collaborations with different artists. His latest project involves Mick Jagger for a super group called Super Heavy. Also involved is singer Joss Stone, Eurthymics member Dave Stewart and producer A.R. Rahman. According to Rolling Stone, the group has been recording for at least 18 months and plan to debut the album in September. “It’s different from anything else I’ve ever been involved in,” Jagger told the magazine. “The music is very wide-ranging — from reggae to ballads to Indian songs in Urdu.” They are actually further along than expected. Super Heavy completed their first single and filmed the accompanying visuals and is looking around for a major label deal.

Mick Jagger Starts A New Music Supergroup

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(May 20, 2011) Sir
Mick Jagger has formed a new supergroup.

The Rolling Stones singer will work alongside Joss Stone, Damian Marley, EurythmicsDave Stewart and Indian musician A.R. Rahman in a new band, reported to be called
Super Heavy. They are currently in discussions for a major record deal.

“They just finished a record and their first video and are talking to major labels about a deal. The name for the band at the moment is Super Heavy,” a source told the New York Post newspaper.

Many of the group have worked together in the past, and the eclectic background of the stars has given the group a unique sound.

“Each member has a very distinct and different style, but it works. Mick has been recording with Dave for a while, and both worked with Joss in the past,” another source said in the Post article.

However, a representative for Jagger — whose last album was ‘A Bigger Bang’ with the Stones in 2005 — has said the group have just been having “fun” together.

“They all thought it would be interesting and great fun to go into the studio and play some music. No video has been shot, no label in place. All a bit premature,” said a spokesperson.

Damian Marley Collaborates with Mick Jagger

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *
Damian Marley is known for his unique collaborations with different artists. His latest project involves Mick Jagger for a super group called Super Heavy. Also involved is singer Joss Stone, Eurthymics member Dave Stewart and producer A.R. Rahman. According to Rolling Stone, the group has been recording for at least 18 months and plan to debut the album in September. “It’s different from anything else I’ve ever been involved in,” Jagger told the magazine. “The music is very wide-ranging — from reggae to ballads to Indian songs in Urdu.” They are actually further along than expected. Super Heavy completed their first single and filmed the accompanying visuals and is looking around for a major label deal.

AUDIO: Jackson Protégé: Donny B. Lord Releases Debut Single

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 22, 2011) *Meet Donny B. Lord, a blazing new pop artist with a fascinating connection to the Jackson family. Donny was performing at a young age, was discovered by Jackie Jackson’s talent scout who quickly brought him to the attention of Jackie himself. Getting a historical opportunity to be escorted into the Jackson estate, Donny got the chance to perform for Jackie himself. After being blown away by his performance, Jackie called in Jermaine and asked Donny for an encore. Jackie and Jermaine both concluded that Donny was a one in a million talent, and even called him “Little Michael.”

Donny spent a lot of time around Jackie, and even had the opportunity to sit it on numerous Jackson studio sessions. Watching the late great Michael Jackson, widely considered the greatest entertainer of all time put together a song taught Donny a lesson he could not learn from anyone else. Donny watched on the legendary Jacksons wrote songs, put together melodies and so on. Even getting a piece of advice from Michael, Donny will never forget being told by the king of pop himself to “never take shortcuts” when writing a song.

According to Jackie Jackson, ”Donny B. Lord incredibly possesses the same precision, execution and command-of-the-stage that have been the signature of the Jackson5! He is not only an impressive artist, whom I envision achieving the fame and popularity parallel to other mainstream male Pop acts such as Justin Timberlake, Akon, and Usher, to name a few. He has lived and traveled the world, experiencing and embracing many different cultures, making him an artist of universal appeal, and for achieving international super stardom.”

Donny is currently working his new single, “Party to the Moon” which is currently being released to commercial mainstream radio and is available for Mainstream Terrestrial Radio and Satellite Radio through Howard Rosen Promotion.

“Party on the Moon” was mixed by the legendary mixer Skip Saylor (Eminem, Britney Spears, Stevie Wonder, etc) and assistant engineer Ian Blanch.

The music video for “Party on the Moon” was directed by Yolande Geralds, the former Vice President of Video Production at Atlantic Records, who has also directed music videos for recording artists Trey Songz, Plies, Omarion, Teairra Mari, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, etc. The video, which is scheduled to release shortly features Tiffany Belle whom was recently featured in Lil Wayne’s “6 Foot 7 Foot” Music Video, Akon’s Models Raquel Lee and Pretty Rikki, along with Star Brown.

Check out Donny B. Lord’s “Party On the Moon” song below:

 
New Lady Gaga Album Leaks Ahead Of May 23 Release

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Reuters

(May 18, 2011) LOS ANGELES—
Lady Gaga's heavily hyped new album “Born This Way” made its way to the Internet on Wednesday, five days ahead of its official release on May 23.

All fourteen tracks from the album were initially streamed in Europe on a special website to readers of the London-based free newspaper Metro, which Gaga guest-edited on Monday as part of a promotional blitz for the new album.

They were also released on Wednesday to premium subscribers in Sweden, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland of the music streaming service Spotify.

But all the tracks soon made their way to the Internet, giving U.S. fans and reviewers an early chance to weigh in on the third album from the New York pop-dance performance artist.

Four of the singles have already been released by Gaga, including the title track, which sold one million copies in five days in February and became the fastest-selling single in iTunes history.

But Rolling Stone magazine said in a track-by-track review on Wednesday that Gaga had “still managed to pack in some surprises.”

Entertainment Weekly called it “an inconsistent blend of icy techno-pop and greeting-card empowerment that's more a triumph of production than songwriting.”

Dan Martin with British music website www.NME.com described the album as “a relentless torrent of heavy metal rave pop.” Martin added that “Born This Way” is “an exercise in the pushing of everything to its ultimate degree. And for all the black, white and silver, it passes that test with flying colours.”

U.S. fans on Wednesday were split between downloading the album illicitly or waiting until its official release next week.

“Pretty stupid to preview it and not think such a highly anticipated album would leak. She should have just waited to release her album when it was meant to be released,” commented a writer called Carrie on the Entertainment Weekly website.

AJ Mclean Of The Backstreet Boys Wants You To Know: 'We Are True Artists'

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Dakshana Bascaramurty

(May 23, 2011) In their heyday, they made millions off a song that
rhymed "fire" with "desire." Today they're an ironic pick at karaoke bars and a nostalgia trip for women in their 20s and 30s. The Backstreet Boys are slightly washed-up singers dealing with receding hairlines, children and rehab. They've never done a reunion tour because they never stopped making music (yup, they released four albums after 1999's Millennium). This summer, the group teams up with New Kids on the Block to tour as NKOTBSB. The superboyband's album (a compilation of classics and two new recordings) hits stores on Tuesday.

While preparing for the tour in Los Angeles, Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean spoke to The Globe and Mail by phone. The tour ends Aug. 7 in London, Ont. .

How are you doing?

I'm good. I'm sitting on a big orange ball in my underwear.

Is that the outfit you usually have for interviews?

I was in the middle of changing because we were doing our fittings for the show and they were rushing me out to get to the phone so I was like, "Can I put pants on?" And they're like "No, just go ahead." I'm like, alright fine. I'm an exhibitionist. I'll walk around the whole office in my underwear, no problem.

Good. I feel like we can venture into topics now that we wouldn't have been able to.

There ya go!

Has there been any rivalry between you [and New Kids on the Block]? Like 'N Sync vs. BSB, Part II?

No, absolutely not. There's been such a time span between the two groups. When we first started we were looking up to New Kids and Boyz II Men and any of those kind of groups. If anything, it's more wanting to be them when we were younger.

This morning I re-watched the VH1 Behind the Music special on the Backstreet Boys. It wasn't like Motley Crue, but it was pretty crazy. There was the breakup of the band, there was the porn, the drug and alcohol addictions. Suing your old manager. Did that help you shake the bubblegum boy band image at all?

There is that stigma on us that people just automatically assume you see five white guys and you're like, "Okay they're gonna be bubblegum pop." Yes, we sing live, yes, we can drop some a cappella on your ass within the drop of a hat. We are true artists and we definitely have grown. We've become better writers, better producers, better artists.

You've talked openly about how you were in rehab for the alcohol and drug addiction - I think the most recent time was earlier this year. Was it hard to be open about that given the age of your fan base and how straight-laced the group's image was?

Yes and no. I definitely wanted to be honest. I didn't want the media to contrive their own opinions about things. Being open about it, it was not only helpful for myself, as well as hopefully for any other people out there who are struggling who can see he is human, he's not this pop idol person that's untouchable. I took myself to rehab this time because I saw myself going back down that same road again.

Kevin [Richardson] left the band in 2006. How often do you talk to him now?

Pretty regularly. I haven't spoken to him in a few months, but I know he just saw Howie [Dorough] and Brian [Littrell] the other day at Howie's son's birthday party.

Oh wow.

I know, it's kind of crazy now. Howie's son's second birthday party.

Things have changed!

Things have changed a little bit. It's been really cool. The relationship has never changed. We're all still family. As we've said to everybody time and time again since [Kevin] left, the door's always open. I think the fans would absolutely die to have the original five on stage again.

I read this book recently about the history of karaoke where the writer points to the release of the Millennium album as one of the three things that helped karaoke make a comeback. Have you ever sung any of your own songs at karaoke before?

When I used to drink, yeah, maybe once or twice if there was a request or if I heard other people that saw me there and saw them singing my song and they were murdering it, I'd run up there and save the day. There was a point where karaoke really was big here in Los Angeles at this place called Miyagi's. Every celebrity and their grandmother would come to do karaoke. ...[In] one night you could see Jamie Foxx and Whitney Houston - I mean Whitney Houston doing friggin' karaoke! - it was awesome. There was a couple nights when Joey Fatone used to live out here and he would go up and sing Backstreet, I'd go up and sing 'N Sync.

Of all the music videos you've produced over the years, which brings you the deepest shame these days?

Quit Playin' Games [With My Heart]. It's one thing for us to be wet and dancing in the rain, it's another thing for us to be wet, dancing in the rain [and] in pastel-coloured shirts.

When I was 13, MuchMusic up here in Canada had Backstreet Boys Day. For a full day, they aired specials, music videos, live appearances, all that stuff. To commemorate, my best friend Kyla and I, we wrote you this five-page letter on green construction paper with black Crayola marker -

Wow.

My question is, why didn't you write us back?

I don't think I got that. But I'll tell you, if I did, I probably would've written you back.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Itzhak Perlman Does Double Duty With The TSO

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Colin Eatock

Itzhak Perlman
With the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Roy Thomson Hall In Toronto, Saturday

(May 21, 2011) The annual ritual of opening the cottage on the Victoria
Day weekend didn’t deter a large crowd from attending the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s concert at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday night. No doubt the TSO was aware it was up against stiff competition from the lure of Muskoka, so the orchestra put together an enticing program comprised of works by Mozart and Dvorak. And at the centre of it all was violinist-conductor Itzhak Perlman.

That the 65-year-old American musician is a brilliant violinist is beyond all dispute. (And the fact he has triumphed despite a crippling bout of childhood polio makes his accomplishments even more impressive.) As well, he has earned the musical world’s respect as a conductor. But things went slightly awry when played and conducted at the same time.

The two pieces he chose for this double-duty were by Mozart: the
Adagio in E Major for Violin and Orchestra and the Rondo in C Major for Violin and Orchestra. Both are slender works, and the Adagio is really just a fragment, with an inconclusive ending.

Perlman led the orchestra from a chair at the front of the stage. He played with a sweet yet solid tone – his magnificent 1714 Stradivarius easily penetrating the orchestra – in long, singing lines. And whenever Mozart accorded him a few bars of rest, he conducted the orchestra broadly with his bow.

It was impressive, but it was not quite enough. While there are a few orchestras in the world that have successfully cultivated the ability to play without a conductor standing before them, the Toronto Symphony isn’t one of them. The TSO responded to the absence of conventional direction with a tepid reading, most notable for its aversion to risk.

So when Perlman ascended to a chair on the podium to conduct Mozart’s
Symphony No. 25 in G Minor in a more conductorly manner, things took a turn for the better. At once, the orchestra was bolder and more decisive – and the winds, in particular, made exciting work of the first movement.

The second movement was played with the strings muted throughout, producing a subtle transparency of tone. The third was an effectively rhythmic minuet. And Perlman brought the symphony to a decisive conclusion with a reading of the finale that emphasized its angular phase structure.

Dvorak’s contribution to the program was his ever-popular
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World.” After hearing the TSO and Perlman working together so successfully in the Mozart symphony, it was disappointing to hear the Dvorak get off to a lacklustre start.

To be sure, the first movement had its moments, but it also had perfunctory quality, born of missed opportunities for effect. It was as though someone was holding someone else held back – although it was hard to tell whether Perlman was reining in the TSO or the TSO was less than fully committed to Perlman.

Happily, all this changed in the second movement. English hornist Cary Ebli’s solo was a turning point: His haunting and languid rendition of the famous “Goin’ Home” theme opened a floodgate of musical expressiveness.

The third movement was a flurry of excitement, bursting with scampering, energy – and also a lilt that reflected Dvorak’s Central European sensibilities. And the last movement was glorious: shot through with dramatic tension from beginning to end.

It’s said that all’s well that ends well. This concert certainly ended well, even if there were some uneven patches along the way.

Special to The Globe and Mail.

VIDEO: Was Adele's ACC Show Her Last Arena?

Source: www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(May 24, 2011) Toronto
Adele fans, we hope you enjoyed her show at the Air Canada Centre more than we surmise she did. The soaring pop star with anxiety issues has an interview in the new issue of Britain's Q magazine and reveals that if she has her druthers, she won't be playing arenas any time in the future:

"We had three nights on hold at the O2 (Arena, in London)," she said, "and I was like, 'I won’t play a festival. You think I’m gonna play a f--king arena? Are you out of your mind?' I'd rather play 12 years at the Barfly than one night at the O2!"

Now, she played here in the ACC's theatre setup, seating about 5,000 - not the 16,000 the full barn holds, not that she couldn't sell it out at the moment - and our own John Terauds thought she did well. But near as we can tell, it was the first time she has headlined a "shed" - and we music-biz insiders call arenas - and it just might be her last.

She tells Q that she won't do any of Europe's massive music festivals ("The thought of an audience that big frightens the life out of me. I don't think the music would work either. It's all too slow") and that she has rejected her management's idea to do three nights at the 23,000-capacity London O2 Arena. She added, "So I've made all those decisions and some people are pretty mortified - they think I'm mad.''

She's playing to audiences in Britain of similar size to what she faced at the ACC, so it's likely the audience size, not the venue, that gives her pause. Either way, though, this means Adele tickets are scarcer than they would otherwise be - as confirmed by a glance at her itinerary page, where the phrase "sold out" repeats endlessly like a monotonous chorus.

Toronto had fun anyhow, Adele. Come back anytime, anywhere.

Radio Actors Lift Shroud On Ratings-Grabbing Stunts

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(May 20, 2011) All week, fans of Toronto radio station
Virgin 99.9 FM’s morning show have been blogging, tweeting, calling in and commenting on various websites about an on-air spat last Friday between a female caller and her fiancé over his alleged dalliance with a co-worker.

The confrontation was facilitated by the show’s hosts, Jay “Mad Dog” Michaels and Billie Holliday, who told listeners they’d help the caller, Jackie, find out if her boyfriend, Rick, was cheating, as she suspected.

With Jackie listening in, Billie called Rick at his place of employment, pretending to be a cellphone company rep offering the supposed philanderer a “loyalty” gift of roses, to be sent to the woman of his choice. Rick asked for the flowers to be sent to a woman named Lauren, with an XO greeting. On cue, Jackie broke into the conversation demanding to know who the other woman was, as Rick shifted gears furiously between astonishment, denial and anger. He eventually hung up.

Comments on the item have cropped up in online chats and Twitter posts all week, mostly excoriating Rick for his duplicity, some suggesting it was all a put-on, and others congratulating Astral Media-owned Virgin Radio and its breakfast show hosts for giving the cheater his comeuppance on air.

In the world of radio, this kind of thing is a well used ratings-grabbing stunt. Yorkshire’s Galaxy Radio in Britain runs a regular and very popular segment, Danny Dumps, in which the phone-in show host exacts revenge on cheaters by bushwhacking them on air, while they’re on the phone ostensibly discussing another matter entirely.

But other shows use paid participants — in some cases, professional actors — pretending to be regular folks with a private and personal problem they want to share on the very public medium of radio.

(Virgin Radio hasn’t returned calls for comment from the Star, but the station continues to reference Friday’s event with calls from listeners attesting to its legitimacy.)

Premiere on Call — a division of Premiere Radio Networks, the largest radio syndication company in the U.S., and a subsidiary of entertainment and advertising giant Clear Channel Communications — has actively auditioned and placed actors for some time in hoax scenarios, it was reported recently on the media watchdog website Gawker and in the American magazine Tablet.

Premiere on Call’s website recently disappeared and its activities have gone underground, but Gawker columnist John Cook reports that a similar service run by United Stations Radio Networks, founded by American broadcasting mogul Dick Clark, has operated for a number of years, “generating wacky characters and scenarios — basically mini-radio plays — and sending them out to shows across the country.”

Many of the scenarios United Stations comes up with are controversial and confrontational, writes Cook. He tracked down a New York actress and regular phone-in hoax participant, Annie Leonhart who, between 2004 and 2007, was paid to act on air, mostly as a jealous girlfriend in a routine called “War of the Roses.”

“I’d have to go apes--t if the guy sent roses to the wrong girl,” Leonhart said. “The goal is to get listeners to relate and call in. Radio would be pretty boring if they didn’t stir the pot a little.”

Another “radio faker,” a veteran producer, told Cook, “Any time you hear something surreal on a morning radio show, it’s bulls--t.

“The great prank phone calls, they’re all fake. If it’s Top 40, and if it has a morning show, then it uses actors.”

That’s a surprise to at least one longtime radio content producer in Toronto, who asked not to be named.

“You need permission before putting someone on air, both here and in the U.S.,” he said. “I can’t imagine any real person agreeing to be identified and humiliated like that.

“And fake stunts breach a fundamental bond of faith between a broadcaster and the audience. I don’t think any radio station in Canada would be willing to risk that.”

Lauryn Hill, Nas, Black Star Booked for Rock the Bells 2011

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 25, 2011) *The lineup for hip-hop’s premiere festival, Rock the Bells, hit the Internet last night with Lauryn Hill and Nas slated to return for the 2011 tour beginning August 20 in San Bernardino, CA.

The bill also includes Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon, Ghostface, Masta Killah and GZA, plus Black Star members Mos Def, and Talib Kweli, Souls of Mischief, Mobb Deep and Erykah Badu, organizers announced.

Each act will again perform their classic albums in their entirety.

Hill is slated to perform “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” while Nas will drop gems from his debut set, “Illmatic.” Raekwon and Ghostface will run through “Only Built for Cuban Linx,” The GZA  will handle “Liquid Swords” and Mobb Deep plans to perform “The Infamous.”

Also, Cypress Hill will tackle “Black Sunday,” Mos Def and Talib Kweli will rock “Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star” and Souls of Mischief will take fans from “93 ‘til Infinity.”

Albums for Masta Killah and Erykah Badu have yet to be announced.

Tickets for the shows go on sale June 4. 2011 Rock the Bells Festival dates are as follows:

8/20 – San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheater

8/27 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

9/3 – New York, NY – Governor’s Island

9/10 – Boston, MA – TBA

Video: Beyonce Performs on Oprah and Choreographer Honoured

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *It’s the final stretch of the Oprah show and wowing performances are making sure the talk show host goes out with a bang. Among appearances on Monday were Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Halle Berry, Diane Sawyer, Madonna, and
Beyonce.

Speaking of the superstar artist, Beyonce really strut her stuff on stage wearing a tuxedo bodysuit and was surrounded by a procession of lady back-up dancers. And for course the song was perfect for the occasion, “Run the World (Girls).”

“Oprah, your persuasion can build a nation,” B said mid-song. “We love you, Oprah. Thank you,” she told the talk-show host at the end of the performance, giving a hug to Winfrey.

Her choreographer previously commented that it was an honour to perform on the Oprah show during her farewell week.

“It’s amazing. Me, myself, Beyoncé, people of colour – we have so much respect for that woman. How can we say no to [Oprah]? She possesses something that God has given her, ’cause when I saw her onstage of all the people that were there, everyone’s in awe of her – Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, Madonna – so we felt honoured, privileged. That’s why Beyoncé pushed us so hard. She wanted to make sure that Oprah’s proud of what she did for her show. She did such an important number,” said Frank Gatson Jr. to MTV News. “In Oprah’s world, women rule the world, so how coincidental that Beyoncé’s song is called that?” He continued, “So it was just appropriate, perfection. I loved it. It was great to be there. The energy in that place was unbelievable.”

MUSIC TIDBITS

Drake Plays The Amphitheatre July 31 And More

Source: www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(May 24, 2011) The good news is
Drake's playing the Molson Amphitheatre on July 31, with Rick Ross and Drake's mystery, much hyped local proteges the Weekend; the bad news is Live Nation's not saying how much the tickets will cost, and that's not reassuring. Ducats go on sale June 3 via Ticketmaster and Livenation.com, if you're determined to get an answer. Other concert news today: •Drake's fellow young rap star Kid Cudi plays the Amphitheatre on the day before Drake, July 30; tickets ($30-$60) on sale this Saturday through the above outlets, Rotate This and Soundscapes.

New Soul Sistas Reality TV Show with Wyatt, Evans and Stone

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 22, 2011) *Reality television is the wave of the future of
television and celebrity secondary income. R&B singer Keke Wyatt recently confirmed a reality television series with other genre greats like Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert from Brownstone, Syleena Johson, Tweet, Kelly Price, and Angie Stone. In an interview with YouKnowIGotSoul.com, Wyatt shared, “Basically going into our lives and showing that we’re not only singers of R&B, we’re also mothers and we lead lives like regular women do.” Along the lines of other popular shows like “RHofA” and “Basketball Wives” and all the other favourites, the show captures the experiences of these women. The show will offer a perspective not naturally known to fans like life at home, grocery shopping, and even behind the scenes decisions that ultimately affect their careers. “We’ll be in the store grocery shopping and our baby decides it wants to poop everywhere or throw up all over us while we’re right in the middle of a grocery store. At the same time, people are like ‘Oh my God how are you doing! Can I have your autograph!’ and I’m thinking ‘Oh yea I’m going to give you an autograph with sh*t all over the front of my clothes!’” No word yet when the show will debut.

Rapper 50 Cent To Play Blind DJ

By WENN.COM

(May 19, 2011) 50 Cent has signed up to play a blind DJ in director Stephen Sommers' movie adaptation of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas.  The rapper will join Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe and Patton Oswalt among the cast, according to Variety.  Koontz's bestselling 2003 novel followed the exploits of a clairvoyant cook who uses his powers to track the killer of a young girl.  The film starts shooting this summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Janelle Monae Talks Up Her Trademark Tuxedo

Source: Jane.Stevenson

(May 21st, 2011)
Janelle Monae isn’t the first woman to wear a tuxedo well. And she won’t be the last. “My style and music, I want it to be transcendent,” Monae told QMI Agency  in Toronto before summer tour dates in Canada opening for Bruno Mars/Katy Perry starting May 22 in Windsor, Ont. “I feel like a transcendent woman. And I feel like the tuxedo is something that will never go out of style whether you go to 1954 or to 2719. Those are just the things I gravitate towards. Classic, transcendent music that stands the test of time and that will be around for the next generation to listen to and hopefully they’re inspired to do something greater.” So did she look back in time for her look? “I’ve been wearing the tuxedo for quite some time now but I did appreciate and still do appreciate Marlene Dietrich, and Katherine Hepburn, and Jay Gatsby and The Great Gatsby, that’s one of my movies that I like. Yeah, I just love things that just transcend time. I don’t want to ever feel expired. I think it’s a look that commands attention and is just transcendent.”

Album Reviews: Danjam Has Risks And Range

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(May 23, 2011) Jazz - DANJAM ORCHESTRA - Here's something for
the adventurous listener. To hear the state of-the-art in big bands, check out sax player-composer Daniel Jamieson's eight-track debut CD with his 20-strong Danjam Orchestra. There are signature big-band riffs on each track, but the bulk of the music, which ranges from the noodlings of free jazz to the drive of hard bop, tells its story without a firm tonal centre and certainly without conventional pairings of instruments. The players, many of which are grads of the Manhattan School of Music, are fantastic. Canadian boy Jamieson's compositions, however, are often clever for the sake of being clever rather than showing sound musical judgment. That said, “Song for Anna,” featuring the vocals of Bostonian Jihye Kim, is a sensual treat. Jamieson's own alto-sax solo work on his arrangement of Charlie Chaplin's “Smile” is good for a big one.

::FILM NEWS::

Comedy Sequel To Kick Off Bollywood Oscars

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(May 20, 2011) A comedy sequel is set to kick off next month’s
International Indian Film Academy Awards.

Director Indra Kumar’s Double Dhamaal will premiere June 23 at Silver City Brampton. The screening is by invitation only, but the film’s stars will walk a green carpet.

The movie reunites the cast of the popular 2007 caper flick Dhamaal (Fun) — Sanjay Dutt, Ritesh Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Javed Jaaferi and Ashish Chaudhary. That movie was a loose remake of the 1963 American comedy, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Actors Kangna Ranaut and Mallika Sherawat have been added to the sequel.

The glitzy, three-day IIFA Celebrations are being staged for the first time in North America and expected to bring 40,000 visitors to the GTA and attract more than 600 million TV viewers around the globe.

Other highlights of the June 23 to 25 weekend are a ticketed Ricoh Coliseum fashion show and the Rogers Centre awards gala, hosted by actors Riteish Deshmukh and Boman Irani, and known as the Bollywood Oscars. Both of those events sold out weeks ago.

Since it was launched in London in 2000, the festival of Indian cinema has been staged in a different city each year.

Hollywood North ...The Sequel

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(May 20, 2011) At the moment, Toronto's hopes of regaining its status
as the pinnacle of Hollywood North are resting on the shoulders of an Irish actor and a Mexican director.

All seven sound stages at the mammoth Pinewood Studios Toronto, 4.5 hectares on the city's waterfront, will soon be fully occupied as production begins this month on Total Recall, starring Irish actor Colin Farrell. That includes the 46,000-square-foot “mega” stage, the largest in North America.

The $200 million film clearly represents a milestone. It is both the largest budget film in the city's history and the first “tent-pole” blockbuster ever produced here.

Within days of its departure at the end of the summer, the Star has learned that a second mega-budget feature will take its place: Pacific Rim, directed by Mexican filmmaker
Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy II), a high-tech sci-fi movie about an alien invasion of Earth.

Eight years after SARS temporarily branded Toronto a leper zone and sent the industry into a tailspin, there is optimism that the dark days are past and the city will reclaim its position as Canada's centre of film and TV production in 2011 over perennial rival Vancouver.

“We've got the chops to do it in Toronto and we're going to have a chance to show our stuff this year. We'll be able to show the international world what Toronto's capable of,” said Edith Myers, managing director of Pinewood Studios Toronto.

The film industry in Toronto was riding high in March 2003 when the musical Chicago — produced here a year earlier, much to the chagrin of the real Chicago — won Best Picture at the Oscars. At the same time, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) hit, spurring a four-month crisis that sent the international film and TV community elsewhere.

“In 2003, for many genres, if you were going to go to Canada, we were it. And what we saw with SARS was a shift. A lot of our business went to Vancouver and some of that business just did not come back,” said Toronto film commissioner Peter Finestone.

In the same period, the competition for film and TV production grew increasingly fierce on a North American and global scale. Canada had been able to grab a piece of Hollywood's multi-billion dollar industry because of a cheap Canadian dollar: as low as 63 cents (U.S.) in 2002. Suddenly it was going head to head with U.S. states and overseas locales like Prague and Budapest, which were anxious to attract “green” creative industry jobs with lucrative new tax credits.

At present, 43 U.S. states offer some kind of tax credit program to attract production. The bandwagon trend began in the mid-2000s and gained such steam that it forced California, under former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to enact its own tax incentives in 2009 to stem the hemorrhaging in its industry.

But in recent years, the tide has turned as many U.S. states, including New Mexico and Michigan, had to slash spending to cope with massive budget shortfalls. The timing could not be better for Toronto and the Canadian industry at a time when the loonie is soaring above par against the U.S. dollar.

Despite New Mexico's recent success in capturing major film and TV production, Governor Susana Martinez recently described tax credits as “a giveaway the state can no longer afford” and the state adopted a $50 million annual cap on payouts.

Michigan, which has one of the most generous tax-credit programs in the U.S., is poised to replace its credits with a $25 million culture fund if Governor Rick Snyder, who assumed office in January, gets his way.

That's good news for Ontario, where the position of the McGuinty government has been to go the other way. Two years ago, the province revised its tax-credit program to match Quebec's on a 35 per cent rebate on labour costs for domestic production. More importantly, it expanded its production service tax credit of 25 per cent, for foreign and domestic projects, to include all spending in Ontario, including labour, material, studio space rental, etc.

The Ontario government has also signalled there will be no spending caps and no end date for the program.

“The thing that Ontario has always had going for it in terms of tax credits is the stability,” said Karen Thorne-Stone, president and CEO of the Ontario Media Development Corp., which oversees the tax-credit program. “So we don't have a sunset date. In fact, the Ontario government made a conscious decision a couple of years ago to remove sunset dates to give some real comfort to the industry around the world, that they could count on Ontario.

“We don't have fine print. We don't have caps and there aren't special conditions on the Ontario tax credit. We've also got the depth and breadth of infrastructure to support an unlimited number of productions once they're here,” she added.

Pinewood Studios also fills a significant gap in that infrastructure. Toronto has long had medium-sized studio spaces like Cinespace and Showline, as well as a number of smaller studios, many of them converted industrial or warehouse space. The missing piece was a purpose-built studio large enough for big-budget films, space that existed in both Vancouver and Montreal, built, unlike here, with government support.

But when Filmport, now Pinewood, opened in 2008, the expected rush of business did not follow. In fact, 2008 was one of the worst years for film and TV production in the city, at about $600 million. Soon, Filmport needed financial support from the City of Toronto, which took a 20 per cent equity stake, just to stay afloat.

Riding to the rescue came Pinewood Studios, the venerable U.K. company in business since 1934, best known for playing host to the James Bond series and the Carry On movies. The studio had planned to locate in Toronto and seized the chance to take over the flailing Filmport. For the city's film and TV industry, the last piece of a complex puzzle fell into place.

“The association with Pinewood gives us some good contacts, gives us some good economies of scale in terms of sales and marketing, and gives us some credibility,” Myers said.

Two mega-budget movies at Pinewood alone could give Toronto's and Ontario's industry the boost it needs to eclipse its main Canadian rivals, Vancouver and B.C., which have led in overall production in every year of the 2000s except for one, some years by as much as $600 million.

In North America, the key to success remains landing a major Hollywood film or TV series. Despite the loss of projects to other places, film and TV production in California is still a $30 billion annual industry.

“In the world maybe outside of India, (Los Angeles and California) still is the entertainment capital, we still have the majority of production,” said California Film Commission director Amy Lemisch.

Lemisch is well aware of the success that tax-credit programs, including Ontario's, have had.

“Each year, we do continue to lose production.... It is a global competition. It's not just a competition within North America. It's a global competition for our film and television dollars,” Lemisch added, noting the U.K., Australia and many places in Eastern Europe aggressively compete for Hollywood dollars.

“Production has always been a very mobile industry. It's very easy to pick up and move.”

Hangover 2 Producers Win Tyson Tattoo Case

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(May 24, 2011) How much is a tattoo worth? And can it be
copyrighted?

The answers are: not much and no.

A St. Louis Federal Court judge has ruled against a tattoo artist seeking an injunction that might have delayed the opening of
The Hangover 2 this Thursday. S. Victor Whitmill is the tattoo artist who designed Mike Tyson’s infamous facial tattoo, and he was upset that it was appearing in the film without his permission or compensation.

After two days of hearings, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine D. Perry has ruled in favour of the Warner Bros., allowing the studio to release the film this week as planned.

“We are very gratified by the Court's decision which will allow the highly anticipated film, The Hangover 2 to be released on schedule this week around the world," said Warner Bros. in a statement.

“The Plaintiff's failed attempt to enjoin Hangover 2 in order to try and extract a massive settlement payment from Warner Bros. was highly inappropriate and unwarranted."

Whitmill was seeking an injunction on the grounds that the original work he created for Tyson is being used without permission in the film – one of the characters, Stu, played by Ed Helms, has been seen in trailers sporting the identical face marking.

The Hangover 2 is a highly anticipated sequel about three friends who spend a wild night in Bangkok and wake up not being able to recall the previous evening’s antics. From promotional materials, it appears that Helms’s character receives the tattoo without knowing why. Tyson had a memorable cameo in the first film and also appears in the second. He is not a defendant in the case.

Top Warner Bros. executives had been sent to the hearing to plead their case; they said they’ve spent more than $80 million dollars (U.S.) marketing the film, and if the Thursday opening is delayed, it could cause the film irreparable harm.

According to reports, the studio’s legal team also argued there’s no legal precedent validating the ability to copyright tattoos.

South African Anti-Apartheid, Who Once Hid Mandela Dead, At 82

Source: www.thestar.com - By Donna Bryson

(May 25, 2011) JOHANNESBURG—It was an elaborate charade: A white South African family in the comfortable brick house on the northern edge of Johannesburg, a black farm worker in the tiny servant’s quarters out back.

The farm worker was Nelson Mandela, hiding out in the 1960s soon after he founded the armed wing of the African National Congress.
Arthur Goldreich, key to the ruse as head of the white family, died Tuesday in Tel Aviv, Israel, Mandela’s office said Wednesday. Goldreich was 82.

Goldreich and his family pretended to be the owners of a farm on the outskirts of Johannesburg that was the ANC’s underground headquarters in the 1960s. They played into the stereotypes of apartheid, trying to behave as masters and servant before the neighbours. They spoke of seeing Mandela, known on the farm as David Motsamayi, in blue workers’ overalls selling produce on the street outside.

But in private, they were comrades. Mandela once spoke of “numerous political discussions” with Goldreich, and of recommending he be recruited into Umkhonto we Sizwe, known as MK, the ANC’s armed wing. In his autobiography, Mandela describes the South African-born Goldreich as having fought in the 1940s with the military wing of the Jewish National Movement in Palestine.

Mandela described Goldreich as “a flamboyant person, (who) gave the farm a buoyant atmosphere.”

Benjamin Pogrund, a former South African journalist who met Goldreich in Israel, said “Goldreich was a romantic revolutionary.

“He had a great personality and was really fun to be with. He was a great narrator and did everything with tremendous flair.”

Mandela wrote of close calls at the farm. One day Mandela’s son, leafing through a magazine while playing with Goldreich’s son on a visit to the farm, came across a photo of Mandela before he went underground. Mandela’s son told Goldreich’s son the man pictured was his father, and identified him by his real name.

“I had the feeling that I had remained too long in one place,” Mandela wrote.

Mandela was not at the farm when it was raided in 1963. He was already in prison in a separate case, but became a defendant in the so-called Rivonia treason trial that arose from the farm raid, leading to decades in prison.

Goldreich was among those arrested at the farm. He and three others escaped from a downtown Johannesburg police station. Goldreich made it out of South Africa disguised as a priest, and eventually settled in Israel.

Pogrund said Goldreich escaped by promising to bribe a young policeman to open the cell door. Guarding the door had been the policeman’s first assignment.

For years, Pogrund said, Goldreich regretted that the bribe hadn’t been paid. He paid the officer after apartheid ended, Pogrund said.

Goldreich visited South Africa after apartheid ended in 1994 for a reunion at the farm, which now is a museum.

Goldreich was an artist and designer as well as an activist. He created the sets for “King Kong,” a celebrated South African musical tracing the tragic story of a real-life boxer.

Pogrund said Goldreich became an architect in Israel and taught at the prestigious Betzalel art academy.

Goldreich is survived by his sons Nicholas, Paul, Amos and Eden.

FILM TIDBITS

Russell Peters: Put The Brown Guy On The Ice

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(May 25, 2011) Looks like it’s going to be a busy fall for hockey movies. Joining Jay Baruchel’s Goon, Canadian comedy star Russell Peters and Rob Lowe hit the boards in Breakaway, a comedy about a Sikh kid who dreams of hockey glory. Vinay Virmani stars as the Canuck newcomer who knows how to keep his head up. As Peters puts it in a promo video for the flick: “put the brown guy on the ice.”

Samuel L. Jackson to Star in Long Kiss Goodnight Sequel

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *
Samuel L. Jackson recently confirmed that he will participate in the sequel of 1996 thriller, “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” The original film depicts a woman who is suffering from amnesia, but begins recovering after an attack by an ex-convict. Jackson plays the role of an investigator who helps the woman rediscover her past. “Sam is hundred percent committed,” director Renny Harlin said. “He’s hundred percent on board. My plan is to focus on a story about Geena’s daughter, who was six-years-old in the original and would now be about twenty-one. It’s actually gonna be sort of a buddy story between Geena’s daughter and Sam.” Currently, there isn’t a writer for the project and there is no word yet when the film will begin production.

Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco Join ‘Think Like a Man’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *Screen Gems has announced the full cast that will
surround Kevin Hart in “Think Like A Man,” the comedy based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book. In addition to the previously reported Michael Ealy and Taraji Henson, rounding out the cast is Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Gary Owen and Gabrielle Union, according to Deadline. In the film, Hart plays a relationship expert who is quick to give advice even as his marriage is crashing. Tim Story is directing a script by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman, and Will Packer is producing through his Rainforest Films banner. Harvey is serving as executive producer alongside Rushion McDonald and Rob Hardy. Production will begin this summer.

Lenny Kravitz Added to Cast of ‘Hunger Games’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *
Lenny Kravitz has joined the cast of “The Hunger Games” in a role that fanatics of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy have been anxious to see filled, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The actor-musician will play Cinna, the fashion stylist assigned to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she prepares to take part in the Hunger Games. His stunning and unique designs play an integral role in her performance in the Games. “When I saw Lenny’s work in ‘Precious,’ I was just knocked out,” director Gary Ross said. “It was quiet and strong and understated and open-hearted: all qualities which define this character.” As previously reported, Latarsha Rose was cast last week as Portia, the stylist to Katniss’ fellow District 12 tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Also, Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi were cast earlier this month as District 11 tributes, Rue and Thresh, respectively. Kravitz, meanwhile, is set to release his ninth studio album, “Black and White America,” on Aug. 30.

Blockbuster Canada To Close 140 Stores

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 24, 2011) Some 1,400
Blockbuster Canada employees could lose their jobs if the movie and video game rental chain closes a third of its stores as part of a court-ordered receivership process. One Canadian store manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday the company has notified staff that 140 locations across the country will be closing their doors on June 18. Each store currently employs about 10 people, and staff are still waiting to learn what will happen to their jobs once the stores close, another manager said. On Tuesday, court-ordered receiver Grant Thornton Ltd. said Blockbuster will be shuttering some stores but did not specify how many would close nor how many employees could be laid off. Blockbuster Canada and Grant Thornton did not return calls requesting clarification Tuesday. “While Blockbuster Canada will be consolidating certain stores in the next few weeks, the majority of its stores are continuing to operate in the ordinary course during the (receivership) process,” Grant Thornton said in a statement. The receiver is looking for potential buyers interested in Blockbuster Canada’s assets. The company currently operates 400 movie and video game rental stores that employ 4,000 people across the country. Blockbuster Canada was placed into receivership by an Ontario court this month in the face of $70 million (U.S.) in claims from various movie distributors, including Hollywood studios, and other suppliers. The Canadian operations had acted as a guarantor for Blockbuster’s U.S. business, which went into bankruptcy protection in September and was later auctioned off to American satellite dish company Dish Network Corp. for $320 million (U.S.).

::TV NEWS::\

Nancy Robertson: A Thoroughly Comic Millie

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(May 24, 2011) Changing comedy lanes has worked out beautifully for
Nancy Robertson. Although the Vancouver-born actress will be forever familiar to Canadian viewers as the adorable Wanda on Corner Gas, she's no less entertaining in her new persona of a tightly wound children's author on Hiccups, soon to return for its second season. The petite actress guested on a few TV dramas early in her career, but her comedy destiny was settled with the arrival of Corner Gas in 2004. For six seasons, Robertson was simply irresistible as the self-assured retail clerk and single mother Wanda Dollard.

On Gas, Robertson met and married Brent Butt, who played affable Brent Leroy on the series. Butt also created Hiccups, which casts his wife as the bestselling author Millie Upton, who occasionally suffers from emotional outbursts, or "hiccups." Robertson spoke to the Globe from Vancouver.

The follow-up record is considered the tough one in the music business. Does that rule apply to sitcoms?

[Shooting the] second season of Hiccups actually felt more exciting. I felt way more pressure the first season. For me, the first season of Hiccups felt like our second record, because we were coming right off Corner Gas. The second season of Hiccups has let us settle into it and get a little more distance from Corner Gas.

Is your character Millie any happier in the second season?

Oh, she's happy. I've always thought she's happy. In my mind, Millie wakes up every day-"Yahoo! What's going to happen today?" And then something or someone messes it up for her. That's how she reacts, because she's like a kid. She doesn't understand why anyone would want to ruin a perfectly good day.

Are you like her?

I wish I could react as honestly as she does. You know how somebody does something and you walk away and think, "Oh I wish I should have said...." Millie always speaks her mind. I'm not like her in that way. She's an optimist. You're either born that way or you're not.

Does being a producer allow you input into Millie?

Yeah! That's one of the many good things about being a producer. The writers don't have to do it, but at least I have the opportunity to put it out there. I like having input.

Brent Butt returns as life coach Stan Dirko. Is it a positive or a negative to work with your spouse?

I can't say either way. It's very comfortable. We didn't know each other when we started Corner Gas. I know him first as someone I worked with on set, so it's an easy place to go. It would probably be more difficult if you were already married and then worked together for the first time. That might cause problems.

Would you ever consider a life coach yourself?

I was doing a movie once and one of the actors told me his next job was being a life coach. I asked him how do you do that, and he told me, "Oh, you just go down to Kinko's and make up a card." I'm too stubborn for a life coach. I don't think I'd be very responsive.

What goes through your mind when you stumble upon an old episode of Corner Gas?

It makes me wish I had put darker highlights in my hair earlier! [laughs]. It does seem like a long time ago. There's always dialogue that I've completely forgotten about. But I can't watch too long. I click in for a little while, just to see everybody and remember what it was like shooting that episode at the time, and then I move on.

Your comedy influences growing up?

Lots of things. I remember watching The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and It's a Mad, Mad Mad Mad World. For TV shows I loved The Carol Burnett Show, but I wanted to be Tim Conway or Harvey Korman. They just looked like they were having so much fun all the time.

More recent comedy faves?

I'm a huge fan of The Office. All the characters are great. I just saw Bridesmaids and I was really happy with that. It's just a bunch of funny women being allowed to be funny. There was no heartbreak or anything like that; it actually didn't have that much to do with a wedding.

You trained with Vancouver Theatresports. Any ambition to return to the stage?

I'd love to do theatre again. It sounds like such a cliché, but there's something about performing live and being spontaneous that's so exhilarating. With improv comedy, it's like a muscle you develop. I think I'd step onstage now and just tank. It would be frightening to see what I came up with.

Do you have a preference between comedy and drama?

I enjoy both, as long as it's not an affected drama. I find some dramas more over-the-top than comedy, because they seem to be a little bit affected. Sometimes in dramas they want you so tight and small, I just don't know anybody who talks that way. I actually feel more real doing comedy.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Hiccups returns May 30 at 8 p.m. on CTV.

A Stellar Tale Of Astonishing Arrogance

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(May 23, 2011) HBO has, of late, been supplanted by the likes of AMC
and Showtime as cable’s go-to destination for prestige series drama. But there is one thing they always have and still do better than anyone else: the fact-based TV-movie.

From their very first original film — as it happens, The Terry Fox Story in 1983 — the annually Emmy-showered cable net has brought current events and recent history to life by casting A-list actors in real-life roles, putting famous, more familiar faces on the names in the news, clarifying issues through dramatic recreation.

The latest, Too Big to Fail (which airs Monday at 9 p.m. on HBO Canada and repeats Saturday at 6:15 p.m.), is based on the 2009 non-fiction bestseller by New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, subtitled The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System — and Themselves, which is in itself enough plot synopsis for even the most economics-impaired, and I speak here as someone who thought that Lehman Brothers manufactured detergent and that Bear Stearns was a family of cartoon bears.

The actual events, and astonishing arrogance, behind the corporate meltdowns and government bailouts of 2008 are further humanized in this stark but stellar HBO adaptation, scripted by Peter Gould (head writer on Breaking Bad — thank you, AMC) and directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential).

William Hurt is quietly compelling as the scandal’s stoic, central and pretty much only sympathetic figure, secretary of the treasury Henry Paulson, a former Wall Street player himself who tries to contain the damage and reach some sort of corporate compromise without compromising his office or his ethics.

James Woods is his opposite number, the living embodiment of fat-cat hubris as Lehmans chairman Dick Fuld, sputtering and flailing away in denial of the inevitable as his company crumbles underneath him.

Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shalhoub and Edward Asner (hilarious as billionaire Warren Buffett) complete the cast of outsized characters you could really only find in real life. And in fact-based HBO movies.

Too Big to Fail is a worthy successor to 2008’s Recount — and, before that, among my own personal favourites, Barbarians at the Gate, Citizen Cohn (James Woods again), The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, 61*, The Late Shift, The Rat Pack, Grey Gardens, last year’s Temple Grandin and the recent Cinema Verite — making American social, political and cultural history accessible and entertaining enough for even Americans to understand.

EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY SOMETIME And from 1965 through 1974, the someone everybody loved was crooner Dean Martin, shamelessly ad-libbing, occasionally singing and chumming around with his celebrity friends every Thursday night at 10 on his old-school NBC variety hour, The Dean Martin Show.

After years of litigation over an earlier mail-order DVD collection, there is now an officially sanctioned, traditionally distributed release by Time-Life, hitting stores Tuesday and available in three collectible formats, single disc, two-disc and six-disc compilations.

I would highly recommend the full six-disc set, if only because it alone contains an excerpt from a 1968 episode in which a young Bob Newhart had Martin convulsed with laughter, barely able to get through a sketch based on Newhart’s classic toupee routine, with Martin as a department store returns clerk.

It was this sort of thing more than anything else that defined The Dean Martin Show, as it did its jovially laid-back host.

The thing is, Martin never wanted to do TV. He never wanted to do much of anything, really, except play golf (all of that signature drinking and skirt-chasing were really essentially just part of the act). In 1965, nonetheless, his career was peaking: it had been six years since his breakup with comedy partner Jerry Lewis, five since the Rat Pack heyday of the Sands Hotel and Ocean’s Eleven, four since he won rave reviews for his dramatic performance in Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, one since “Everybody Loves Somebody” (the TV show’s theme song) knocked The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night” out of the Billboard chart’s No. 1 slot, and mere months after he had filmed his first Matt Helm spy spoof.

But TV just seemed like too much work. The network nonetheless kept pressing and ultimately agreed to Martin’s deliberately outrageous salary demands and insistence on never having to rehearse.

The latter proved particularly significant, as it became clear that the secret of the singer’s TV appeal was his cavalier disregard for the scripted material in favour of salacious asides, deliberately botched cues, and pranks played on and by the crew.

Weekly TV variety does not date well, with its bare-bones production numbers and creaky comedy monologues. But Martin’s quintessential boozy coolness and his detached refusal to take any of it seriously keep the whole thing fresh and fun.

The Betty White Tornado

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(May 21, 2011) “Sickeningly optimistic.” That’s how
Betty White described herself during a recent telephone interview. And why shouldn’t she be? She’s been spreading White Fever for 89 years now, and the bout she reignited in 2009 with a blockbuster movie (The Proposal), a smash Super Bowl ad and an Emmy win (her sixth, for hosting Saturday Night Live) shows no signs of abating.

Her hit TV show, Hot in Cleveland, netted her a Screen Actors Guild Award in January, and was recently renewed for a third season. Her latest book – her fifth – entitled If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), debuted this week at No. 4 on The New York Times hardcover non-fiction bestseller list, right behind books by Tina Fey, Steven Tyler and Rob Lowe. And this fall she’ll host a new show on NBC, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, in which the elderly punk the young.

“I’m the luckiest old broad on two feet,” White said. “I don’t have the foggiest notion why it’s happening. I’m just tasting it and enjoying it.”

She sure works for it. She wrote her book, in longhand (she has beautiful penmanship), in snatches over nine months. Her publisher, Putnam, was eager to capitalize on White Fever, and she agreed because the deal included a second book about the importance of zoos, one of her passions. If You Ask Me is more a collection of musings than a linear memoir, but the picture that emerges is of a sincere, indefatigable woman who calls everyone (including me) “honey” or “darling,” and who makes her own luck by saying yes way more often than no.

White has an authenticity born of professionalism that is rarely seen any more. Her first TV job was co-hosting one of TV’s first shows, Hollywood on Television, a local Los Angeles variety program that ran five and a half hours a day, six days a week – live. The medium was so new that during the first week, White’s co-host, who had come from radio, played records on the air while he and White talked in the background. People kept calling in wanting to know what they were saying, so they made it a talk show.

“It was like going to college,” White said. “You had to think on your feet. I’m very grateful for it. You get to know how people accept things.”

She quickly learned what worked for her, and stuck with it: a style of comedy I’ll call the Candy-Coated Chili Pepper, because it starts out sweet and then zaps you with a zinger. All three of her characters on her beloved ensemble series – The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls and now Hot in Cleveland – have a veneer of chirpiness that cracks, with exquisite timing, to reveal an underside of sarcasm, randiness or both. It allows her to have bite without meanness, while still getting off the best lines.

You can see it in the way her kindly grandma character in The Proposal spends a long time commenting on the smallness of Sandra Bullock’s breasts, and you can really see it in the mock behind-the-scenes video that White, Bullock and their co-star Ryan Reynolds made. Feeble and sweet when Bullock is around, White terrorizes Reynolds when they’re alone.

“I’m not good with the f-word,” White said. “Sandra and Ryan can rattle it off, but I don’t enjoy that language.” Beat. “So I wound up just giving him the finger.”

While a new generation discovers her on DVD and YouTube, White also knows how to play to the Viagra set, understanding the inherent comedy of a senior citizen with a sex drive. Receiving a lifetime-achievement award at the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards, she gushed sincerely about how lucky she’s been to work with so many in the room, and then seamlessly added, “And I may have had some of you, too.” Back on that podium again in 2011, she stroked the statuette’s bare bottom and smiled lewdly.

But there are places White won’t go, both in her book and in conversation. She doesn’t kiss and tell – “I think confidences should be kept confidential, and not exploited for my own benefit,” she said – and she doesn’t complain. Her upcoming series will capitalize on the tendency of the young to underestimate the old. But when I asked if that tendency bothered her in life, she demurred.

“Oh lord, no, they spoil you rotten,” she said. “I like to stay on my feet, because it keeps my energy going, but every time I turn around, somebody has brought a chair.” She never became jaded, she said, because, “When everybody’s as nice to you as they’ve been to me, how can you harden yourself against that?” Though she thinks the audience has “heard every joke and seen every plot, they know where you’re going from the first word out of your mouth. That’s a tough audience to surprise, and a tough one to write for,” she also thinks, “If you’re lucky enough to thoroughly enjoy it, you can always put a fresh spin on it.” And after seven decades on TV, “I almost feel the audience is a personal friend,” she said. “I feel like I can kid with them, and they’ll understand.”

An only child, White grew up in Oak Park, Ill., with parents who had “delicious senses of humour,” she said. Her father would bring jokes home, “and it was up to me to figure them out or not. All he’d say was, ‘You can take this joke to school, but I wouldn’t take that one.’ ” Her parents also took her on annual three-week camping trips in the remote High Sierras that instilled in her a lifelong love of animals and the outdoors. She’s been a supporter of the Los Angeles Zoo for 48 years and works with Denver’s Morris Animal Foundation, which helps develop animal vaccines. She’s down to one pet (after losing three last year), her golden retriever, Pontiac – “He’s on the couch with me as we speak,” she said – and admits that one whole room in her Brentwood, Calif., home is given over to stuffed animals.

She plays a monthly, low-stakes poker game with old friends from her game-show days. “I have a good poker face, I’m just not too good at playing,” she said. “Bob Stewart [who developed Password and The $25,000 Pyramid], who masterminded our game, always laughs at me – ‘She can’t get rid of her money fast enough.’” She lost her third husband, game-show host Allen Ludden (Password), “the love of my life,” in 1981, and has no interest in dating. Nor does she believe in plastic surgery. “I had my eyes done in 1976 and I’m glad I did,” she said. “But that’s all I ever want to do. Some people I’ve known all my life, I now have to listen for their voices to recognize them. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Her philosophy is simple, she said: “You have to stay interested in things. I always had a rule: If I tell myself I’m tired, I’ll be tired. But if I ignore it, I never get tired. There’s so many things I want to know more about that I’ll never live long enough to do. But it’s something to reach for. I have friends whom I love very much, but unfortunately they say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about that; I’m too old for that.’ They make age a bête noire, this beast that hangs over their heads. Instead of saying, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ ” Then she has to go. Her sign-off line is old-school pro all the way: “I appreciate your plug,” she said.

What We Now Know About The Next TV Season

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(May 18, 2011) The
U.S. networks have completed their “upfront” presentations to advertisers, so we now know what new series are coming, which are returning and which we’ll never see again. We’ve seen teaser clips of the new series, although we can’t really judge the finished products, or how audience will react, until they air. But we can some general trends emerging. Here are eight things we’ve gleaned from what little we’ve seen so far.

1. Superheroes are out, urban fairy tales are in: With the end of Smallville, NBC passing on the Wonder Woman series, and the failure of The Cape and No Ordinary Family, this is the first time in 10 years that there will be no live-action superhero series on the tube. Of course, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to see people with interesting abilities floating around. Modern updates to fairy tales are hot with Grimm, an NBC series where a cop can see trolls and other mystical creatures, and Once Upon A Time on ABC, a series about the town of Storybrooke, which is on the edge of our reality and fairyland (and sounds a lot like hit comic book series Fables).

2. Ladies first: Our TV columnist Rob Salem mused on this earlier this week, but female-centric series are definitely all the rage. From Whitney, Good Christian Belles, New Girl, Revenge and the remakes of Prime Suspect and Charlie’s Angels, strong female-led series will be in abundance this fall.

3. Happy Endings wins the Friends-off: The surprisingly good ABC mid-season replacement is returning next fall. It should just get kudos just for surviving and thriving, considering the cull on youngish ensemble comedies, including Perfect Couples, Traffic Light, Better With You and Mad Love (although that was really a How I Met Your Mother clone).

4. Mid-season looks interesting: Out of the gate, some shows will be Reisered — as in Paul Reiser, whose new self-titled series lasted two episodes before being cancelled — and that might cause a mid-season show to be called up. We are already looking forward to shows like Kiefer Sutherland’s Touch, about a man whose autistic son can see the future, and the Laura Prepon-starring Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea, based on late night host Chelsea Handler’s comedy. Glee fans should look forward to Smash, a reportedly more adult version with Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee, about women trying to put on a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe. There’s also a little show called 30 Rock that’s been pushed to mid-season because of Tina Fey’s pregnancy.

5. High concept series: While serialized shows like The Event fizzled this year, that does not mean we are without some very high concept series attempting to be the next Lost. Fox has Terra Nova, Steven Spielberg’s prehistoric colonization show, and J.J. Abrams’ Alcatraz, about inmates returning from the past to wreak havoc on our present. NBC has Awake, a series where a cop lives parallel lives in two dimensions. In one, his wife has died and in the other, his son passed away.

6. Lots of new comedies: By our count, there are 17 new comedies coming next year. Sure, some of them will not be long for this world, but as a trend, beyond female leads, it looks like shows about what it means to be a male in a female-centric world (Man Up! Last Man Standing) are a thing. Very hard to tell what will break out of the pack, but the New York-set Apartment 23, about a naïve mid-Westerner making it on her own, sounds interesting if only because James Van Der Beek plays himself on the show.

7. Those ’60s Shows: Mad Men fever has gripped the networks, as best shown by NBC’s The Playboy Club and ABC’s Pan Am. The first looks at the life of bunnies in the turbulent decade, while the latter is about flight attendants.

8. Canadian cast members to watch: Sutherland in Touch. Bruce Greenwood is Emmet Cole in The River, an animal expert who is lost in the jungle. Will Arnett is Up All Night, along with Christina Applegate. Karine Vanasse is a French-Canadian actress flying the friendly skies in Pan Am. Port Perry, Ont.’s Emily VanCamp is the lead in Revenge, and Dave Foley will turn up on CBS’s How to Be a Gentleman.

Queen Latifah Launches Clothing Line, Accessories for HSN

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *
Queen Latifah has designed her own clothing line for the Home Shopping Network which will feature clothes and accessories for women between the sizes of 2 and 24.

The rapper-turned-actress has revealed plans for “The Queen Collection for the Home Shopping Network (HSN),” which will be available beginning in August.

“I’m so excited about it. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time,” she told People.com. “I’ve been offered a lot of deals for clothing lines and actually started one that didn’t quite get off the ground but this is like a full circle moment for me.

“This is a young 14-year old, 17-year old and 22-year old Dana trying to go shopping and actually finding the things she wants to wear or going on HSN and ordering the clothes she likes because they’re there and they are in her size. This has been a bit of a journey and it’s a really exciting venture.”

Latifah says she’s already chosen the bag line as her favourite from the collection.

“I have a bag fetish. I’ll have on sweatpants and a $3000 purse,” she said. “I don’t deny myself, bags are the one thing I’ll allow myself to splurge on. I think the bag line is going to be really good. It’s versatile so it’s not going to look like the same bag from one collection to the next. There’s something for everyone.

“I definitely want to be able to rock my bag. I figured, if I can rock it, why shouldn’t other people be able to?”

VIDEO: Steeler Nation Stand Up: Hines Ward Wins ‘DWTS’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 25, 2011) *Pittsburgh Steelers star Hines Ward has been crowned champion of “Dancing with the Stars,” taking home the mirror ball trophy after beating Kirstie Alley in the final.

The 35-year-old NFL star and partner Kym Johnson emerged victorious during the 12th season finale Tuesday night, and the athlete admitted he hadn’t expected to make it to the end of the contest.

“You know, starting this competition, I never thought I’d be in the finals,” he said. “But I owe it all to Kym. She’s an amazing teacher, and I want to thank the judges for giving us the constructive criticism to help me get better each week. Also, I want to thank all the fans.”

His commitment was especially evident after Johnson suffered a serious neck injury during rehearsals two weeks ago. The couple triumphantly returned to the dance floor, earning perfect scores for their performance and drawing tears from Ward, Johnson and judge Carrie Ann Inaba.

“I’m so impressed with you, the way you partnered with her through that routine,” Inaba said. “The connection was beyond what we ask for in a dance routine.”

Through misty eyes, Ward said, “I was just elated that she was out there dancing three days after that horrific injury that she just had.”

The couple earned five perfect scores for their final six dances.

“It’s special,” Ward said, glittery trophy in hand. “With football, it takes all 53 guys. With this mirrorball, it was just Kym and I together in the studio putting in the hours. I’m just glad I didn’t let her down.”

Professional athletes have taken the “Dancing” title six times in the past 12 seasons. Besides Ward, the other athletic “Dancing” champs are NFL star Emmitt Smith, speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Football stars Jason Taylor, Warren Sapp and Jerry Rice were runners-up on the show, as was Olympic skater Evan Lysacek.

TV TIDBITS

Canadian Cameraman Dies 3 Weeks After Pennsylvania Helicopter Crash

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 24, 2011) INDIANA, PA.—A Canadian cameraman has died three
weeks after the helicopter he was riding in crashed while filming a reality television show near a western Pennsylvania university. Cambria County coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski tells the Indiana Gazette 33-year-old Greg Jacobsen, of Thunder Bay, Ont., died Monday. He was hospitalized April 30 after a helicopter crashed into two buildings just off the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Jacobsen was part of a crew filming a reality show about police called Campus PD at the time of the crash. Kwiatkowski says Jacobsen developed respiratory problems during his recovery. Three other people were on the helicopter when it crashed. The pilot and another crew member were also hospitalized. The crew was filming Indiana borough police cars at the time of the crash.

The O Effect: Oprah Pals Who've Seen Their Celebrity Soar

Source: www.globeandmail.com


(May 24, 2011) It pays to be in
Oprah’s good graces because when the deity speaks, the world shuts up and listens. Here’s just a few of the Oprah pals who seen their celebrity soar after Oprah got in their corner.

[ARCHIVES 2011/photogallery/photo00026688/real.htm]

Solange, Cassie, and Selita New Faces of Carol’s Daughter

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(
May 22, 2011) *Singers Solange Knowles and Cassie along with Victoria Secret model Selita Ebanks came together in the midst of their busy schedules to become the new faces of the Carol’s Daughter multiracial campaign. On the cover of WWD Style magazine, they are captured above with with the caption: “Beauty is Diversity.” As reported by Singersroom – Lisa Price, founder of the hair and skin care line – designed the new campaign ad to reflect the recent demographic shift reported by the U.S. Census. The nationalities of each of the new Carol’s Daughter spokeswomen – Cassie (African American, Mexican and Filipina), Selita (Native American, Irish and African-American), and Solange (African American and French Creole) – directly parallel Census figures showing at least 9 million people who identify themselves as bi- or multi-racial. Ebanks says: “Carol’s Daughter doesn’t have just one direct demographic. Solange’s hair is a different texture than mine; so is Cassie’s. Our skin and body types are different. Today, people are blended, and I think the three of us are a prime example. Women in my family range from vanilla to the deepest chocolate.”

Jane Lynch In Talks To Host Emmys

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo

(May 24, 2011)
Jane Lynch is said to be the Fox network's choice to host the Emmys in September.  Whether she will sing remains to be seen, but it looks like Fox is hoping to bring some Glee to viewers of the Primetime Emmy Awards by naming Jane Lynch as host. Both EW.com and Deadline Hollywood said Lynch was close to a deal to emcee the annual ceremony to honour the best of television, due to air on Fox in September. Lynch won a statuette of her own last year for her role as the cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Fox's musical comedy about a high school glee club. Deadline said Lynch's background as a comedian and singer as well as an actress was a draw. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who also sings, was reportedly another possibility but worries about what might come out of his mouth likely knocked him out of the running.

VIDEO: Kerry Washington to Star in New Shonda Rhimes Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 24, 2011) *A gritty new series by “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes will star
Kerry Washington. The star will play the role of real life crisis manager and public relations specialist Judy Smith, who once advised Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton scandal. This new show will definitely be filled with lot of drama and “Scandal” as it is appropriately called. Don’t believe us? Then check out the trailer below. Home girl brings it and then some. According to official show synopsis, the series will “revolve around the life and work of a professional crisis manager and her dysfunctional staff.’ Washington leads the “gladiators in suits” as Olivia Pope, a former media relations consultant to the President. Although Pope has opened up her own firm, she can’t seem to cut ties with her past “professionally and personally.” The official premiere date has not yet been determined.

   

So Long Stabler

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo


(May 24, 2011)
Christopher Meloni isn't returning to NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the fall. A source told the Associated Press that the actor and Universal Media Studios were unable to reach a deal on a new contract. Meloni plays Det. Elliot Stabler, one of two leads on the series. Co-star Mariska Hargitay, who plays Det. Olivia Benson, has already said she'll be back for the show's 13th season, the source said.

Casting News: A Movie Star And A Galactica Refugee

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo

(May 24, 2011) Movie star Kevin Costner will make a rare small-screen appearance in a History Channel series about The Hatfields and McCoys, Deadline Hollywood says. Costner is expected to both produce the miniseries and star as "Devil" Anse Hatfield, a Civil War vet and close friend of Randall McCoy until they returned to their neighbouring homes and began a feud that brought the states of West Virginia and Kentucky to the brink of another U.S. Civil War. Costner said he was thrilled to join "this dramatic retelling of a classic and timeless tale that is forever immersed in the folklore of our country.” The series is expected to air next year. Meanwhile, EW.com says Battlestar Galactica vet Edward James Olmos will appear in the sixth season of Showtime’s Dexter, which airs in Canada on The Movie Network. Olmos is to play a “brilliant, charismatic professor of religious studies” on the series about a serial killer by night and police blood splatter expert by day when it debuts this fall.

VIDEO: Actor Billy Brown Added to Showtime’s ‘Dexter’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 25, 2011) “Lights Out” star Billy Brown has joined the upcoming sixth season of Showtime’s “Dexter,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The actor will appear in the sixth season in a recurring capacity, playing the character of Mike Cutler, a no-nonsense Chicago homicide detective who transfers to Miami Metro, where he immediately ruffles some feathers. Brown, who played Patrick “Lights” Leary’s boxing nemesis Richard “Death Row” Reynolds on the short-lived FX drama “Lights Out,” [see video below] has also appeared in “Southland,” “Dirt” and “Californication.” Dexter, led by Michael C. Hall as the title character, is on a roll as of late, securing several actors in key parts for the new season, including “Battlestar Galactica” vet Edward James Olmos, rapper Mos (formerly Mos Def) and “The Good Guys” star Colin Hanks. Production began in Los Angeles on Wednesday, with the new season launching in the fall.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Toronto Improv Trio Teases Out The Laughs

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Brad Wheeler

(May 20, 2011) "We're all unsure about what we're about to see. We
blindly enter the theatre, and we're on a wing and a prayer, hoping that what ends up happening works out for everybody."

Matt Baram is speaking about improvised comedic theatre, or maybe life in general. Baram is one-third of the National Theatre of the World team, a tight-knit troupe of caution-to-the-wind dramatists who this week attempt their biggest trick yet. At the Theatre Passe Murraille, they'll comically improvise 10 plays over six days, using the "teaser" scripts of well-known playwrights. Each performance of the
Script Tease Project involves the trio pulling a two-page introduction from a sealed envelope. They'll read the playwright's stage direction and story beginning on stage, then as wittily as possible act out the remainder of the play.

What seems like a particularly daredevil bit of comedic drama-making doesn't daunt the three performers. "We don't have bad shows," says Naomi Snieckus, the only member of the trio who wears a dress. "We can see where a story needs to change, and we do it right then. It's not like our finish line is visible, so let's make sure it's the best it can be."

And Ron Pederson, what does he say? "We're very funny people. With our acting chops and literary minds, we can have different sets of impact from improvisation."

Speaking to the three of them together - they all live together in downtown Toronto - you get a sense of the troupe's comedic mindset and timing. The dialogue is smart and breezy, rather delightful. Pederson quotes a line about theatre's invariability: "David Mamet says that every play is about a lie, and when the lie is exposed, the play is over." Snieckus cocks her head, replying with feigned ignorance, "And who said that? Mamet? Hmmm, interesting."

Banter aside, they take what they do seriously. And rightly so: Improvised theatre isn't a joke. Calgary's Rebecca Northan, for example, is getting all sorts of huzzahs for her 2010 one-woman play Blind Date, an improvised piece involving a randomly selected audience member on a 90-minute "blind date" with Northan, a red-nosed clown.

Baram sees Northan's play as an analogy of what routinely happens with improvised plays. "For the audience and the actors," he explains, "the best result is that when it's over, we all want to see each other again."

It's that kind of connection and immediacy that traditional drama can't match. The National Theatre of the World does not date its crowd members as Northan does, but there is a level of interaction. The audience is asked to suggest topics. "With a staged play, the subject matter is going to be somewhat dated," says Baram. "We don't have to be concerned with that in our form. We're going to ask the audience on the spot what's moving them in their life."

The troupe regularly performs a zany Carnegie Hall Show (a vintage radio-style drama with music made up on the spot) and what it calls Impromptu Splendor, where an improvised, more actor-ly play is done in the spirit of a given playwright. This week's Script Tease Project changes up that form a bit, with the threesome comically extrapolating on the two-page introductions provided by a sterling roster of playwrights that include Norm Foster, Brad Fraser, Linda Griffiths, Woody Harrelson, Daniel MacIvor, Mark McKinney, Hannah Moscovitch, Morris Panych, Judith Thompson and, last but nothing close to least, John Patrick Shanley.

Like the performers, Shanley's involvement was fairly extemporaneous as well. "The reason I did it was a lonely impulse of delight," says the Yeats-quoting playwright, speaking cheerfully from New York. Shanley, the decorated Doubt and Moonstruck stage-and-screen writer, has never worked with a comedy troupe and made no particular effort to be funny.

Would he give us a tease of the script? "It's spooky," is all that he'll say. While the Bronx-born writer says the two-page treatment could stand on its own, there is no ending as such. "They should be able to get some mileage out of it."

As for the stage direction, Shanley provided a "few thoughts" and told the troupe to "feel free" to go in whatever direction they liked. Asked if his preliminary piece might have a life past The Script Tease Project, Shanley says it's possible. "I'm not going to throw it in the fire."

And although the playwright is not an improviser himself, his contributed work has its own freewheeled spark. "Where it came from, I couldn't tell you," he explains. "It was elicited by somebody asking me to do it at that moment."

And so Shanley has something in common with the National Theatre of the World and its audience - a splendour that is impromptu, but no less real than traditional theatre. "If we got a grant to write a play and took two years to get it done, we'd put our blood and guts, and what we believe in our hearts into it," reasons the troupe's Pederson. "Why can't we do the that with improvisation?"

Impromptu Splendor: The Script Tease Project runs until May 29 at Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille.

May 24, 8 p.m. (Judith Thompson) -sold out

May 25, 2 p.m. (Linda Griffiths)

May 25, 8 p.m. (Daniel McIvor)

May 26, 8 p.m. (Woody Harrelson) - sold out

May 26, 9:30 p.m. (Hannah Moscovitch)

May 27, 8 p.m. (Brad Fraser)

May 28, 2 p.m. (Morris Panych)

May 28, 8 p.m. (Mark McKinney)

May 29, 2 p.m. (Norm Foster)

May 29, 8 p.m. (John Patrick Shanley)

The First Grader: Stirring Lessons In Hope And History

Source:  www.thestar.com - Bill Beacon

(May 20, 2011) Free universal education is the newly announced policy
but, at a ramshackle primary school amid the dust of Kenya's Rift Valley, that welcome announcement bumps up against a hard reality: 200 eager students clamouring for seats at 50 wooden desks. With his nose pressed against the school gate, one of the students stands out from the rest. Desperate to learn to read and write, he's far more determined than the others; even hunched over his walking stick, he's also significantly taller and, it must be said, somewhat older too: Maruge is 84 years young.

So begins
The First Grader, and you don't have to be literate to read the feel-good intentions. The setting may be distant Kenya but the theme is familiar Hollywood - another true-life classroom tale of sweet inspiration, where plucky teacher and beleaguered pupil combine to turn out a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Guided by Ann Peacock's script, British director Justin Chadwick definitely works hard to make good on that guarantee and, despite a few sizable missteps, he delivers. Expect to be pleased, if not completely uplifted; prepare to applaud, but no need to stand.

Perhaps Chadwick is guilty of over-working here. To his credit, he wants to dive down into the political and historic complexities of the story, while still riding the sentimental tide of emotional triumph. The ambition is laudable but the result is a film that sometimes gets caught in its own cross-currents, torn between the past and the present, between a wish to inform and a need to entertain.

Consider the plight of our octogenarian star and wannabe student. Initially, of course, Maruge (Oliver Litondo) is denied admission by a local board unwilling "to waste a seat on a man with one foot in the grave." Undeterred, he keeps showing up at the front door, demanding his right to an education, his spindly legs protruding from cut-off trousers trying to pass as a school uniform. Already, the old boy has won over our hearts, and soon the head teacher tumbles too. Defying the authorities, Jane (Naomie Harris) finds him a desk in the front row where, surrounded by a gaggle of exuberant six-year-olds (actual Kenyan school kids), Maruge and his pencil launch their assault on illiteracy, painstakingly tracing the contours of a lower case "a."

Inevitably, the higher-ups get wind of Jane's defiance, and what follows, at least in time present, is a long fight against bureaucratic rigidity. But wait. Cue the flashbacks to time past, and that much longer fight against British imperialism. Turns out the young Maruge was a Mau Mau rebel in the battle for independence. In his case, the price of freedom proved tragically steep - imprisonment, torture, and, horrifically, the murder of his wife and son right before his eyes.

This is potentially compelling, but truncated flashbacks are far too crude a mechanism for exploring not only the intricacies of that tumultuous period in Kenyan history but also its ongoing legacy - specifically, the still-simmering tribal tensions between those who fought the British and those who didn't. That's a whole other story, much greyer and more complicated than the basic sweet inspiration narrative at the centre of the picture.

Consequently, the script tends to simplify the background politics in order to promote the foreground entertainment, transforming Maruge into a double victim, simultaneously a forgotten freedom-fighter and a forsaken student. Sorry, but that's too heavy a symbolic burden for our hero to bear, and several scenes groan under the weight.

But others manage just fine, especially the classroom sequences where the two lead performers - Harris as the always enthusiastic woman who was born to teach, Litondo as the often cantankerous man who is destined to learn - crank up the buoyant quotient to put a wide smile on our faces. These are the moments when The First Grader comes alive and graduates into the stirring movie it promised to be. So stow your cynicism and give this lesson in continuing education the response it deserves - more than a polite clap, maybe even a sitting ovation.

The First Grader

Directed by Justin Chadwick

Written by Ann Peacock

Starring Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo

Classification: PG

 
Dance Review: Same-Gender Choreography Proves Refreshing

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

Toronto Dance Theatre: Paris/Toronto Project
Choreography by Alban Richard and Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh. Until May 28 at Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St. 416-967-1365 or tdt.org

(May 23, 2011) Talk about divide and conquer! In an unusual move,
two French choreographers commissioned to make new works for Toronto Dance Theatre have decided to split the 11-member troupe, including its two interns, along gender lines.

At least in terms of performance quality, this strategic move makes winners of both Alban Richard and Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh. Opposite gender pairings are an overworked dance cliché. Tapping gender particularities discretely is refreshing.

However they settled it — perhaps a coin toss? — Richard got the five men. It can’t be dying, — it’s too rouge, the 20-minute work he’s fashioned for them, explores a theme of mortality within a choreographic structure borrowed from the conventions of symphonic composition.

The mortality is specific and audible. For his music, Richard takes one of American avant garde composer/sound artist William Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops — D|4” and complements its tightly repetitive yet constantly changing sound with a visual equivalent that amplifies its metaphorical implications.

A decade ago, Basinski was digitizing some analog tape loops made in the 1980s when, to his amazement, the initially lush orchestral sample began decomposing. Properly stored analog tapes shouldn’t do this, but never mind. The disintegrating magnetized emulsion of Basinski’s tape loop yields a haunting score.

The dancers meanwhile, oddly costumed in leafy outfits that give them a fairy-tale woodland look, explode onto the stage in a formation that quickly fragments into vignettes of isolated torment, obsessive behaviour and, it seems, nihilistic purposelessness. This subsequently plays out again and again but each time with variations of speed, dynamics and amplitude.

Discerning the details, however, is sometimes made frustratingly hard by having lighting designer Ron Snippe’s onstage lamps — presumably as directed by Richard — shining in one’s eyes.

No such problem frustrates one’s appreciation of Vo-Dinh’s 40-minute Vortex, a work that also has a visual field day with the inherent metamorphoses of late French composer Gérard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum sextet.

Perhaps exploring the way simple choreographic phrases can be modulated is all the vogue among today’s experimental French choreographers. In the case of Vo-Dinh, spiral turns become a device for building a work that is less dark and forbidding than Richard’s and also more social. Where the men’s actions seem independently generated, Vo-Dinh allows considerable interaction as her spiralling motifs unfold, turn and combine. In one visually arresting sequence the women, with hooded collars deployed as masks, pile and huddle in a weirdly evocative suggestion of primordial life.

It’s all bracing stuff from pair of choreographers who manage to pursue compositional rigour with theatrical intelligence.

::OTHER NEWS::

Ontario On Track To Loosen Liquor Laws By Summer: Attorney General

Source: www.thestar.com - Maria Babbage

(May 24, 2011) There's "overwhelming" public support for Ontario to
relax its liquor laws — something the provincial government will deliver this summer, said Attorney General Chris Bentley.

Adults will soon have more freedom to wander around at festivals with a drink in hand under new provincial regulations, he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

No date has yet been set for their release, but the new rules should take effect in time for the summer, Bentley added.

The public's chance to comment on the proposed changes ended May 1. While a few people disagreed with the idea, most supported it, he said.

"The overwhelming majority were for more flexibility," Bentley said.

Bentley floated his proposal to loosen Ontario's liquor laws in February, which could do away with beer tents at festivals and other events.

Festivalgoers would still have to consume their drinks within a "defined area," but they'd be able to wander around and do some shopping at retail stalls, Bentley said.

The proposal also includes extending liquor hours for weddings and charity events to 2 a.m. and opening up the province to all-inclusive vacation packages.

Some want the government to go a step further and take a second look at restrictions for boat cruises and patios, he said.

Tour operators are allowed to serve booze about half-an-hour before a boat leaves the pier, but if bad weather delays its departure, all the drinks have to be taken away, he said.

"If the leaving was delayed — let's say by 15 minutes or so — everyone had to take their drinks away, like right on the minute, and then start again when the cruise got underway," Bentley said.

Similar questions were raised about patios that are separated from a licensed establishment by a sidewalk. It's unclear whether servers or customers are allowed to move alcohol from one area to the other under the current rules, he said.

Even if the changes are made, municipalities and police will still have the right to say no, Bentley added. The province also intends to keep enforcing "responsible behaviour."

Police leaders had initially raised concerns about the changes, saying it could encourage underage drinking, create unsafe environments for families and logistical headaches for officers trying to enforce the law.

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police had "extensive discussions" with the ministry, which made some changes to the initial proposal, said spokesman Joe Couto.

They include requiring organizations to provide more notice about major events and report certain information, such as the number of people attending an event.

One of their biggest concerns was the public perception that people would be able to wander around freely with a drink in hand at festivals and big events, he said.

There's been "a lot of progress," but the association is waiting to see the final rules before it passes judgment.

"I think that they certainly took a step back from their original proposals and really listened to police, because we're the ones that obviously have to deal with the end product, if you know what I mean," Couto said.

"Good laws, modern laws are all fine and good as long as they meet law enforcement needs."

The move to ease liquor laws comes just a few months before the Liberals start revving up their engines for the Oct. 6 election campaign.

It's a surprising policy move for Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has been dubbed Premier Dad for his "Father Knows Best" governing style.

He's even mocked rival Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak for publicly musing about the days when beer could be bought for a dollar in Ontario.

The premier dismissed it as "a bright, shiny object" designed to distract voters from important issues like jobs and the economy.

Seems McGuinty couldn't resist dangling a "bright, shiny object" himself, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

"It's a way of diverting attention to something other than their massive failure on the jobs file, on the affordability of everyday life, on the fact that folks are still very angry about the harmonized sales tax and the impacts it's having on their pocketbook," she said.

Author Julie Booker: Life After 40

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Vit Wagner

(May 23, 2011) It has been better late than never for
Julie Booker.

Since turning 40, the Toronto writer and schoolteacher has met her husband, given birth to twin boys and published her first collection of short stories.

“Everything came late for me. It was the final hour and it all came true,” says Booker, now 46. “That’s a blessing because some people never get to do what they want.”

After an hour-long conversation in a College St. coffee spot, an interviewer is compelled to come away with the impression that the publication last month of
Up Up Up was the hardest won achievement of all. She will read from the collection Tuesday at Sneaky Dee’s.

“I cried when I got the email offering to publish the book,” she recalls. “I didn’t cry when I heard I was pregnant with twins. You can’t cry when you’re in shock.”

Certainly, Up Up Up had the longer gestation period. Booker has been writing off and on since childhood. At 16, she was enrolled in a Writers’ Trust program that provided tutorship from the playwright David Young and other writers.

As a young adult, however, she opted for the security of a career as a primary school teacher.

“I feel like I took a detour,” she says. “I did the right thing. I have a pension. I’m not struggling. I put my art on hold for a while. But honestly, the maturity that I needed to write these stories probably wasn’t there anyway.”

Booker also found other outlets. She took time off school to travel through Australia, Asia and Africa, acted for a decade with a community theatre company in Scarborough, and also studied film and video at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

“I was hanging out with green-haired 23-year-olds who had no content but were whizzes at technology. I would sit in front of a computer screen in tears because I couldn’t make it happen,” she says.

“But I had all the content. I realized I could write stories, so I started to wonder why I would put myself in a situation of having to start all over again.”

The 20 stories in Up Up Up, many of which are shorter than 15 pages, offer a humorous, fictional excavation of these experiences. Characters go on adventure vacations in Alaska, attend singles’ nights at the Royal Ontario Museum and try their hand at classic, commedia-dell-arte clowning.

“When writers say they don’t get their material from their own lives I don’t particularly believe them. How can you not? You bring your imagination to the things you’ve seen, experienced and felt. But I’m not just recounting what happened to me. That would be boring.”

The collection was rejected when Booker first sent it to Anansi five years ago. After reworking the stories with the help of Giller Prize-nominated novelist Alissa York through a program offered at Banff, Booker doggedly resubmitted the revised versions to Anansi, without so much as thinking of pitching another publisher.

“I just decided in the beginning that Anansi was my press,” says Booker, who has followed the progression of the publisher’s writers. “Lisa Moore is someone I admire incredibly. I watched her stories being published. Then Pasha Malla a couple of years ago.

“I thought: that’s the fit for me. They take risks on writers that aren’t necessarily conventional. They’ve got a big heart. I don’t think my material fits for the bigger publishers.”

For a moment, it looked like fate was against her. Booker resubmitted Up Up Up on the day that publisher and editor Lynn Henry left to take a job at Random House. That left Booker figuring she was going to have to start from scratch with incoming editor Melanie Little, but Anansi president Sarah MacLachlan had already green-lighted the book.

Now, Booker is in the early stages of trying to formulate an encore, presumably in a fraction of the time it took for her debut to see the light of day.

“The trick now is to keep writing, to put my head down and make good stories,” she says.

“I’m driven by the fear that I won’t get it all down. One of the things about finding success later in life is that you realize you aren’t at the beginning anymore. You’re nearer to the end. You can’t afford to procrastinate.”

At least, after the events of the past few years, Booker won’t lack material.

“The stuff I’m going to draw from now will change,” she says. “I have other things in my repertoire.”

Julie Booker reads with Pasha Malla, Elyse Friedman and Michael Winter as part of an Anansi short story night, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College St. She also has a June 8 reading with Ken Greenberg and Merilyn Simmonds at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room at 7:30 p.m.

How Culture Guru Paved Way For Miracle At City Hall

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(May 25, 2011) Last fall when Jeff Melanson, the co-CEO of the National Ballet School, stepped forward as Mayor Rob Ford’s special adviser on the arts, it was hard to believe there would be a happy ending. I confess I was among the doubters.

But now Melanson, who recently was named president of the Banff Centre, will be able to leave town in a blaze of glory. That’s because last week at Toronto City Hall, the impossible dream came true.

A report called Creative Capital Gains — making a strong business case for the city to invest in the arts, and calling for an increase in per-capita funding from $18 to $25 by 2013 — was cheered and unanimously endorsed by Toronto City Council.

And on Tuesday evening, in a Literary Review of Canada event at the Gardiner Museum, Melanson went beyond savouring this triumph to explain what challenges the arts must meet to flourish.

The election of Ford struck me as a nightmare for the cultural world. After all, I’d heard Ford say during a debate that arts funding should be taken care of by the private sector while the city dealt with more important matters like repairing roads and sewers.

Even Melanson was wary at first when he got the call from the Ford camp. His task, he was told, would be to suggest how to cut the city’s spending on culture. Melanson balked and said he would agree to be the mayor’s adviser only if Ford promised not to reduce spending on culture. Ford agreed to his terms.

Still, clinging to the status quo would eventually spell defeat, it seemed to me, so I was not ready to grant Melanson messiah status. Certainly chances did not seem good for achieving the $25 per capita goal for arts spending, which Rita Davies, the city’s visionary executive director of culture, had been fighting for since 2003.

“What are the chances the city budget under Ford’s watch will include a boost for the arts?” I wondered in print. “Don’t even ask.”

But in January, Michael Thompson, chair of the city’s economic development committee, commissioned a report. Issued a few weeks ago, the report made a compelling case for the arts as an economic engine and proposed reaching the $25 per capita goal within two years.

At last week’s meeting, a dozen councillors took turns praising the report and urging its implementation. Then came the vote, with not a single nay. The mayor did not speak during the meeting but tweeted later to say how great it was that city council all agreed on something for once.

That’s because the report — signed by National Ballet artistic director Karen Kain, financial executive Robert J. Foster and former federal minister Jim Prentice, with advice from author Richard Florida and cultural consultant Gail Lord — made it clear it would be suicidal for Toronto not to invest in the arts.

Having achieved victory, Melanson explained in his lecture this week that there is much more that needs to be done to assure a healthy future for the arts, such as:

 • Make our cultural institutions less elitist so they can attract newer, younger and more diverse audiences.

 • Develop leadership with entrepreneurial skills and stop viewing the business world with distrust.

 • Reimagine and invest in arts education in public schools so that culture is a part of everyone’s life.

 • Prod the federal government to create a new equivalent of the Massey Commission, which revolutionized Canadian culture 60 years ago.

 • Launch a privately funded think-tank to provide ongoing guidance to the arts world.

Some of this may sound like a stretch, but frankly, after last week’s miracle at city hall, I’m willing to believe just about anything coming out of Melanson’s mouth.

But one question remains to be answered. Who will replace him as the mayor’s cultural adviser?

::TECHNOLOGY::

Yahoo To Give E-Mail Service Facelift

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

(May 24, 2011)
SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo Inc. YHOO-Q is giving its popular e-mail service a long-promised facelift in an attempt to make it more appealing to people who are increasingly using Facebook, Twitter, Google GOOG-Q and other online alternatives to communicate.

The changes announced Tuesday build upon a redesigned e-mail format that Yahoo began testing seven months ago. The estimated 277 million users of Yahoo's free e-mail service will be switched to the new version during the next few weeks.

The overhaul will enable updates to Facebook and Twitter accounts to be posted from within Yahoo's e-mail boxes. The revamped service is supposed to be two times faster and capable of sending attachments of up to 100 megabytes. Other tools include better junk-mail controls and the ability to chat with friends and family logged into Facebook.

Yahoo is counting on the changes to help attract and retain e-mail users at a time when more people are flocking to the rival Gmail service run by Internet search leader Google Inc.

Although Yahoo's service remains larger than Gmail, it has been losing ground in the past year. Through April, Yahoo boasted 277 million e-mail users worldwide, a drop of about 3 million, or 1 per cent, from the same time last year, according to the research firm comScore Inc. Meanwhile, Gmail had grown to 220 million worldwide users, up 43 million, or 24 per cent during the past year.

Most of Gmail's gains appear to be coming at the expense of Microsoft Corp.’s Hotmail service, which remained the global leader with 327 million users, according to comScore. But that figure was down 27 million, or 8 per cent, from last year.

Cultivating loyal e-mail users is important because they tend to be frequent visitors and they often remain logged in when using other online services run by the e-mail providers. The return trips and logged-in activity creates more opportunities to show Internet ads, the main way that both Yahoo and Google make money.

Yahoo, though, hasn't been luring as many advertisers as Google for years, a problem that has weighed on Yahoo's stock.

The e-mail upgrade is expected to be among the signs of progress that Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz emphasizes Wednesday when she and other top company executives are scheduled to update analysts on their turnaround plan.

Google, Apple Not Unassailable In Smart Phone Race

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paul Sandle and Tarmo Virki, Reuters

(May 19, 2011)
PARIS— Microsoft and some smaller software vendors still have a shot in the fast-changing smart phone race even though Google and Apple are pulling rapidly ahead, industry executives said.

Helped by interest from manufacturers, operators and consumers, Google’s Android platform has become the leading mobile operating system, with Google and Apple together controlling more than half of the market in the first quarter, according to research firm Canalys.

“Those are the two horses that are out in front today,” Neil Rimer, co-founder of Index Ventures, said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Paris this week.

The number of Android phones and iPhones sold, and the many applications available on both platforms, will make it harder for competitors to catch up.

“The barriers for others than Microsoft have increased,” said Magnus Jern, chief executive of mobile software house Golden Gekko. “A lot of people in Germany, Scandinavia see Apple and Android as the only platforms.”

But Jern and several other industry executives said other platforms like Windows Phone, webOS, bada and MeeGo – which fall well behind Android and Apple – should not be written off as they have owners with deep pockets.

Hewlett-Packard is pushing devices with its webOS platform, Samsung Electronics invests into its bada platform and Intel has MeeGo. Also Nokia plans to sell 150 million more smart phones running its old Symbian platform.

While executives said it was not possible to guarantee success with cash, they could offer incentives to developers to create apps for their own platforms.

“You can do it by changing the game – giving 95 per cent to developers could change it,” Jern said. As a rule, application stores give 70 per cent of sales prices to developers.

Rimer said even a new competitor could enter the market.

Analysts expect Android to control around 40 per cent of the market this year and the share to rise further beyond 50 per cent in the years ahead, but some executives suggested network operators – such as Vodafone and Telefonica – would likely try to cap Android’s market share growth.

MICROSOFT OPPORTUNITY

HTC, the Taiwanese manufacturer that makes smart phones running both Android and Windows Phone, said it expects both of its platforms to grow, especially after Nokia tied its fortunes to Microsoft’s Windows Phone.

Microsoft’s mobile platform has rapidly lost appeal among consumers who have instead picked iPhones, BlackBerrys and phones running on Android platform. It now controls only around 3 per cent of the smart phone market.

“I think that Windows Mobile will play a stronger role than it does today in the future,” said Florian Seiche, President of HTC Europe, at the summit.

“The long-term opportunity with Nokia entering will definitely bring Windows back to critical mass, and Microsoft has a lot of assets to bring to the platform,” he said.

Chipmaker Intel, which has been unable to crack the mobile market, could also resurrect its MeeGo operating system, dumped by former partner Nokia when it embraced Microsoft.

“First initial feedback we were getting was some of the other (phone makers) were showing interest in it after Nokia lowered their ownership,” said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder of browser firm Opera Software.

Sony Suffers Two More Hacker Attacks

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Lewis

(May 24, 2011) Hackers have breached a database at
Sony Ericsson’s Eshop online store for mobile phones in Canada, extracting personal information of more than 2,000 customers.

Records including names, email addresses and encrypted passwords were taken by an outside party, the company said in a statement late Tuesday.

It said no additional personal or credit card details have been compromised, adding that the joint venture has disabled the e-commerce website, a standalone platform that is not connected to Sony Ericsson servers.

Idahca, a Lebanese hacking group, claimed responsibility for the attack and said contents have been leaked via Facebook and Twitter.

The group claims it could have extracted far more sensitive information such as credit card details, but declined to do so.

The latest attack follows a breach of Sony Corp.’s Greek music service data base that Sony revealed in a blog post Monday. It said hackers had obtained nonsensitive information from about 8,500 users, with the data posted by hackers to a public site.

On Tuesday, security firm Sophos said Sony Music Japan suffered the same fate — with hackers exploiting a system vulnerability and posting such taunts as “stupid Sony, so very stupid” inside the data they made available online.

A group known as Lulz Security, which attacks sites primarily for political reasons, claimed responsibility, said Chester Wisniewsk, a senior security adviser at Sophos. “This doesn’t change the criminality of their behaviour. Accessing systems without authorization is still a crime in most countries.”

He said the database information obtained in Greece and Japan does not contain names, passwords or other personally identifiable information. “The attackers noted that there are two other databases on the site that are vulnerable and it remains unclear whether they contain sensitive information.”

In April, Sony’s PlayStation Network system was hacked, affecting more than 100 million online accounts worldwide and forcing the company to shut down the popular online gaming service, although it did not report the breach until a week later.

The attack prompted Sony chief executive Howard Stringer to implement a cyber security makeover at the Tokyo-based, multinational entertainment conglomerate that includes appointment of a management level security oversight team.

And while the series of attacks suggest Sony has more work to do securing its networks Phil Lieberman, CEO of online security consulting firm Lieberman Software, said it is also the price Sony is paying for its hard-line approach to the hacking community.

“Telling them to bring it on is not the best strategy,” he said, adding that Stringer remains entrenched in his view that law enforcement and the courts offer the solution to online attacks.

While Sony focused heavily on protecting IP and enforcing copyright protections, the company appears to have done little to protect its massive presence on the Internet, Lieberman added. “I think Sony is beginning to understand it horribly underinvested in security.”

He also said Sony provoked “nuclear responses” from the hacking community after it sued George Hotz, the 21-year-old who hacked the fully locked Sony PS3 console in 2010. He then reverse-engineered his own PlayStation 3 to run homebrew applications and later released the method to the public through his website.

Sony responded with a lawsuit and demanded that social media sites including YouTube hand over IP addresses of people who visited Hotz’s social pages and videos.

Jason Maloni, senior vice-president of the crisis and litigation team at Levick Strategic Communications, said Sony needs to seek peace with the so-called hacktivists to win back consumer confidence.

“Settle, would be my best advice,” said Maloni, part of a crisis management team that helped Heartland Payment Systems respond to a 2008 breach that exposed data on close to 100 million debit and credit cards.

::TRAVEL::

Paris Makes The List Of Top Bargain Vacations

Source: www.thestar.com -
Arthur Frommer

(May 24, 2011) Tour operators continue to schedule low-cost air-and
-land packages to the tropics in summer, betting that vacationers will find a price of about $850 to be irresistible for a comfortable one-week vacation that includes not only airfare and accommodations, but three meals daily and unlimited drinks. I list several such packages below, as well as a handful of packages to Europe whose prices include airfare and hotel but not meals. Considering the current high price of long-distance flights, those trans-Atlantic tours also deserve (just barely) to be called bargains.

(1) Dominican Republic (Samana): $848 for round-trip air from Toronto to the Dominican Republic and an all-inclusive week in the resort area of Samana: Departing Toronto on June 5, 12 and 19, Air Canada Vacations will fly you nonstop to the new Dominican Republic resort of Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa for seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks). All air taxes and fees also are included in the $848 price. Phone 866-529-2079 to book.

(2) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: $852 for round-trip air from Toronto to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and an all-inclusive week in the Riviera Nayarit, 50 kilometres to the north of Puerto Vallarta. From Transat Holidays (transatholidays.ca, phone 866-322-6649), you’ll fly to Mexico on June 16 for a seven-night stay (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the 520-room Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa on a hill overlooking the beach at the Bay of Banderas. All air taxes and fees are included in the $852 price.

(3) Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata): $898 for round-trip air from Toronto to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and an all-inclusive week near the resort town of Puerto Plata, departing on June 25. From Air Canada Vacations, you’ll be flown nonstop and round-trip from Toronto to the place where mass-volume tourism began on this island, and you’ll be lodged for seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the Bahia Principe Hotel. All air taxes and fees also are included in the $898 price. Phone 866-529-2079 to book.

(4) July in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: $1,028 throughout July for round-trip air from Toronto to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and an all-inclusive week near the Resort town of Puerto Plata, departing July 9 to July 30. You’ll receive round-trip air from Toronto on Air Canada (including all air taxes and fees) and seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals, unlimited drinks) at the VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort. Phone 866-529-2079 to book departures scheduled throughout the 21 days from July 9 to July 30.

(5) Mexico: $1,061 throughout much of July for round-trip air from Toronto to Cancun, Mexico, and an all-inclusive week at a top resort hotel on the Maya Riviera. You’ll fly on Air Canada round-trip between Toronto and Cancun (including all air taxes and fees), and will then be lodged for seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the Gran Bahia Principe Tulum. Departures from Toronto are on July 7, 8, 14 and 15. Phone 866-529-2079 to book.

(6) Cuba: $1,074 throughout July for round-trip air between Toronto and Cuba, including seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements at a Varadero Beach Resort. You’ll fly round-trip from Toronto on Air Canada to Cuba (including all air taxes and fees) and stay for seven nights (room, three meals daily and unlimited drinks), leaving Toronto from July 4 to July 25. Phone 866-529-2079 to book.

(7) Rome: $747 (June) to $1,138 (July) for round-trip flights (airfare only) between Toronto and Rome, including all air taxes and fees, on Air Transat (phone 877-872-6728). On numerous dates in June and July (see the booking calendars at
www.airtransat.ca), Air Transat will fly you round-trip to Rome from Toronto for the rates set forth above, which are averages of the many differing prices (some larger, some smaller) charged on various dates in June and July. The savings amounts to several hundred dollars off the price you would pay for standard scheduled air transportation.

(8) Dominican Republic (Punta Cana): $1,183 throughout July for round-trip airfare between Toronto and Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, and seven all-inclusive nights in a junior suite of the Ocean Sand by H10 resort. Flying via West Jet, on arrangements made by Sunquest Vacations (sunquestvacations.ca, phone 416-485-1700 or 800-387-8438), you’ll leave from Toronto on your choice of July 9, 16, 23 or 30, for a weeklong, all-inclusive holiday (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at this beachfront property, rated as “4½ stars”). All air taxes and fees are included.

(9) Madrid: $1,292 for round-trip air between Toronto and Madrid (including all taxes and fees) and five nights with continental breakfast daily, at the Amaral Sun Hotel in Madrid. Leaving on June 14 or 15 via Air Canada, you’ll fly round-trip to Madrid for a five-night stay. The package costs considerably less than you’d pay for airfare alone to Madrid in this time of high trans-Atlantic costs. Air Canada Vacations is the tour operator, reached at 866-529-2079 to book.

(10) Paris: $1,454 for round-trip air between Toronto and Paris (including all taxes and fees) and six nights, with continental breakfast daily, at the All Seasons Paris Gare de L’Est Hotel. Leaving on June 13 or 15, via Air Canada, you’ll fly round-trip to the City of Light for a six-day stay. The entire package costs less than you’d pay for airfare alone to Paris, in this time of high trans-Atlantic costs. Air Canada Vacations is the tour operator, reached at 866-529-2079.

(11) Escorted Costa Rica in June and July: $1,095 per person. On frequent departures in June and July, the long-established Caravan Tours will take you by escorted motor coach on a 10-night tour of every important sight of Costa Rica, for a total of $1,095, including quality accommodations, three meals daily, daily escorted sightseeing and entrance fees. Airfare to Costa Rica, for which you make your own arrangements, is not included. Go to Caravan.com, or phone 800-CARAVAN.

(12) Cruises of the Mediterranean: Less than $100 a day, in June and July. Go to VacationsToGo.com, click on “Mediterranean,” and you’ll discover that cruise prices for those European waters have sharply fallen because of inadequate demand. The probable reason? High airfares across the Atlantic, and the (mistaken) notion that disorder in Libya and elsewhere in the area has made such cruises dangerous, which of course is not the case. Cruise prices in the Mediterranean this summer are among the great bargains of travel, although you’ll have to pay airfares (including fees) of $1,500, $1,600 and more to reach the embarkation and debarkation ports.

(13) Las Vegas: Deluxe Suites at Vegas’ Elegant Vdara Hotel for $109, $119 and $129 per suite, per night. Provided your stay is for midweek dates (Sunday through Thursday), you’ll discover that summer rates at the deluxe hotel properties of Las Vegas are now available for unprecedented low prices. Go to the booking charts of the 1,500-unit, all-suite Vdara Hotel on the Strip (arguably, one of the best hotels in Las Vegas) -
www.vdara.com or www.mgmresorts.com - and you’ll find numerous dates when such remarkable accommodations are renting for as little as $109 a night (but more usually for $119 or $129 a night). Such rates, it should be emphasized, are per suite, not per person, which makes them all the more remarkable.

(14) China: $875 per person for a week in Beijing, including round-trip airfare (and all taxes and fees) from San Francisco. The two chief price-cutters to China — ChinaFocusTravel.com and ChinaSpree.com — recently launched a price war to the Chinese capital for departures in November 2011 and January, February and early March of 2012. For the remarkable price of $875 per person, they will fly you round-trip to Beijing from San Francisco, put you up in a first-class Beijing hotel for six nights, with breakfast daily (and two other meals), and much escorted sightseeing, including a trip to the nearby Great Wall of China. Examine the portions of their websites (see above) dealing with promotions, and you’ll be hard pressed to resist the temptation of scheduling a fall/winter trip to this cheapest of all international destinations.

(15) November in China: $1,299 for nine November nights in five Chinese cities (Shanghai, Suzhou, Taian, Qufu, Jinan and Beijing), including round-trip airfare from San Francisco. This is the most popular tour of San Francisco’s China Focus (
www.chinafocustravel.com), specially reduced for the month of November 2011. Air transportation is from San Francisco to Shanghai and from Beijing back to San Francisco (including all air taxes and fees), and the package includes first class hotel accommodations in the above cities as well as three meals daily on seven days and breakfast only on two days, together with daily escorted sightseeing and all transportation within China. The price is a stunning $1,299 for departures on Nov. 21 and Nov. 28, $1,399 for departures on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14.

NOTE: The prices cited are per person for each of two people traveling together, and do not include government taxes and fees (unless those taxes and fees are specifically listed as included). Airfare is often included in the price, but only when specifically mentioned. Prices are subject to change, and new listings will periodically be substituted for those that are no longer valid.

Arthur Frommer is the pioneering founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. He co-hosts the radio program, The Travel Show, with his travel correspondent daughter Pauline Frommer. Find more destinations online and read Arthur Frommer’s blog at frommers.com. Order your copy of Frommer travel guidebooks at
www.StarStore.ca.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Vancouver Celebrates Stanley Cup Trip With Massive Street Party

Source: www.thestar.com - James Keller

(May 25, 2011) VANCOUVER—For the countless jersey-clad Canucks fans who poured onto the streets of downtown Vancouver Tuesday night, celebrating the team’s upcoming trip to the Stanley Cup final was as much about looking back as it was about looking forward.

The
Canucks took the Western Conference with a double overtime Game 5 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Many remember the last time the Canucks made it to the final — 17 years ago in 1994, when the West Coast team lost to the New York Rangers.

Ross Archibald, one of several thousand people watching Tuesday’s game on a giant screen outside a local TV studio, was just 10 years old the last time his team made it this far.

“It’s the best thing that’s happened since 1994,” recalled Archibald, a 27-year-old lifetime Canucks fan from Surrey, B.C.

“I remember crying myself to sleep that night they lost against New York. That’s almost two-thirds of my life.”

The Canucks’ 3-2 victory over the Sharks takes them to the final round for the third time in the team’s history.

After Kevin Bieksa scored the game-winning goal, thousands of fans poured out of Rogers arena and sports bars throughout downtown as a massive street party erupted over several blocks along the popular Granville Street entertainment district.

Fans revelling in the victory on bar patios where they watched the game unfold invited high fives from passersby, some draping themselves in Canadian flags or Canucks flags, cheering and breaking out into chants of, “We want the cup!”

It was a moment Albert Cohen travelled from Detroit to experience first-hand.

The 35-year-old mathematics professor is originally from Vancouver but currently teaches at Michigan State University. With the school year over, he couldn’t miss a chance to visit his hometown as the Canucks advanced.

“It’s one of the most beautiful nights of my life — this is my hometown, and it’ll never change,” said Cohen, wearing a vintage black-and-orange Canucks jersey.

“To me, to be a Vancouver Canuck fan, it’s kind of hard to follow them (in Detroit). There’s no better time to be here.”

Cohen, too, has vivid memories of the last time the Canucks were in the final — and the heartbreak that followed.

“I was here in 1994, I remember going to the theatre to watch the games on the big screen as a kid,” recalled Cohen. “God willing, this is the year.”

For other fans, those memories are a little hazier.

Parmvir Thind, who hoisted a makeshift Stanley Cup replica as he celebrated Tuesday’s win, was just a baby when the Canucks were last playing for the Stanley Cup.

“Last time they went to the cup final, I was zero years old,” said Thind, now 17.

“And to know that they’re going to finals after 17 years, it’s just awesome. It’s the best I’ve ever felt in my life.”

The nightly street parties that have followed every playoff win have brought back more recent memories, as well, with some likening the celebrations to the constant crowds that filled the city’s downtown during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

James Neil, the general manager at G Sports Bar, which has been full to capacity for every Canucks playoff game, said the Olympic comparison is bang-on.

“It’s very Olympic-esque, the energy on Granville Street, they’re driving up and down, they’re honking, they’re cheering,” he said earlier Tuesday, as he prepared to welcome patrons for the game.

“Everybody’s your friend because everybody’s cheering for the same thing. You’ve got people who don’t know each other high-fiving each other. It’s all positive energy.”

The Canucks will play either the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins lead that series 3-2 with Game 5 Wednesday night.

Hopkins, 46, Makes History As Oldest Boxing Champ

Source:  www.thestar.com - Bill Beacon

(May 22, 2011) MONTREAL—When
Bernard Hopkins left the Bell Centre ring as the oldest boxer ever to win a world title there were messages waiting from the man whose record he beat — George Foreman.

“He made a great comment about my legacy and he also said he might come out of retirement now to break my record,” the grinning 46-year-old Hopkins said of the now 62-year-old Foreman.

Hopkins outdid Foreman’s feat of winning a title at 45 by delivering a lesson in tactical fighting to Montreal’s Jean Pascal in a dramatic 12-round bout before 17,560 on Saturday night, taking home the WBC, IBO and The Ring Magazine titles in the process.

It was widely thought that age was finally getting to Hopkins’ in so-so performances against Roy Jones Jr. and Enrique Ornelas in recent years, but he was trim, fit and ready to go the distance when he fought Pascal to a controversial draw in Quebec City on Dec. 18 and then pulled out a unanimous decision in the rematch.

Few athletes in any sport have accomplished as much at such an advanced age, one being golfer Jack Nicklaus who was 46 when he last won The Masters.

“I’m cut from a different cloth,” said the Philadelphia native who in an earlier stage of his career defended the middleweight title a record 20 times. “They called me old school five or six years ago.

“But I’ve learned how to preserve myself. That’s why you see me at 46 doing what I’m doing. It’s not because I’m doing anything magical. It’s because I’m disciplined. I was disciplined in my 20s and 30s and I invested in myself to hit and not get hit. Sometimes it’s boring to you all. Sometimes you want to see the knock down, drag out fights. I can do that if I want to. But I come from a school of hit and not get hit.”

That’s just what he did against the 28-year-old Pascal, whose big punches missed more than they landed, while Hopkins held him off with the jab and waited for openings to strike, including a few stiff blows with lead rights.

“Bernard is an old fox,” said Pascal, who was making the fifth defence of the WBC belt he won in 2009. “He knows all the tricks in the game.

“In the middle of the fight I was seeing double (because of a thumb to the eye). In one or two rounds I was only seeing with one eye, so it was difficult for me to see my distance. But it was a close fight that could have gone either way. I’m young and I will be back. It’s not the end. It’s a beginning.”

Despite the sometimes vicious verbal exchanges between the two in the lead-up to the bout, and some nasty moments in the bout, both were gracious afterward.

Hopkins even said that he expects Pascal to win another world title one day.

“Mark my words: he will be champion within a year or less because he has the goods to do it,” the fighter known as B-Hop said. “And he should learn something from this fight because he has the talent.

“I told him that in the ring. But he has to work on things. He loads up on every shot because he knows he’s a puncher and he wants to blow the house down, like the big bad wolf. Testosterone is going so high he wants to boom, boom. And the old fox wanted him to do this because I just lean here and lean there. I might get hit one or two times and I rely on my chin. That was basically the fight.

“If he was a guy who knew how to put punches together and sneak the hard shots in between, he’d be a dangerous guy because you wouldn’t be able to time him.”

The Pascal camp saw it as a close fight, but Chad Dawson, who scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Montreal’s Adrian Diaconu in the co-feature, said much the same of Pascal in blunter terms. Dawson lost to Pascal a year ago in a bout stopped in the 11th round due to an accidental head butt.

With his victory, Dawson is guaranteed by the WBC and the U.S. premium channel HBO to face Hopkins for the title.

“I wanted Pascal, but I’ll take (Hopkins),” said Dawson. “I can beat Pascal any day.

“He showed what he is tonight — an amateur. He throws wild, loopy punches and Bernard took advantage of that.”

The punch stats showed Hopkins landed 32 per cent of his 409 punches while Pascal landed only 19 per cent of 377. Hopkins scored with 80 power punches to 51 for Pascal.

Judge Guido Cavalleri of Italy and The Canadian Press scored it 115-113, Rey Danesco of the Philippines had it 116-112 while Anek Hongtongkam of Thailand was 115-114, all for Hopkins.

Pascal’s glove looked to have touched the canvas late in the bout, which could have cost a point for a knockdown, but British referee Ian John-Lewis called it a slip and Hopkins did not protest.

“I think he was more tired this time,” said Pascal. “Bernard won the close rounds because of his reputation.

“He’s a legend and everything, but usually when you’re at home and you’re the champion you’re supposed to get the close rounds. So that’s why I think I won the fight, but it doesn’t matter. The judges said he won the fight. He made history. I’m still young and I will make history one day.”

Trainer and broadcaster Russ Anber, who worked in Pascal’s corner with trainer Marc Ramsay, said the bout was closer than the judges’ scores.

“He pot-shotted and then every time Jean tried to turn it into a fight he just grabbed and held,” said Anber. “He nullified Jean a lot and stole some rounds.

“I certainly didn’t see the score the way the judges had it. I thought Jean was the aggressor. I thought Jean landed some of the cleaner shots. He certainly hurt Hopkins more often and I think Jean also destroyed the (notion) that he fades. Jean had Hopkins backpeddling, hanging on, trying to stay at a distance while Jean was closing the show.”

Leading into the fight, Pascal had called on Hopkins to take a blood test for performance-enhancing drugs and wore a T-shirt that read “I believe in clean sports” into the ring, but he made no mention of it later. The Quebec commission takes only urine tests.

During the bout, Pascal fans chanted “take the test” at Hopkins, but there was also a healthy contingent chanting for B-Hop.

The loss leaves IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute of Montreal as the only Canadian-based boxer with a world title. Bute next fights July 9 in his native Romania against Jean-Paul Mendy of France.

Hopkins said he’d like to return to Montreal to take on Bute, who is committed to face the winner of the Super-Six 168-pound tournament sometime in 2012.

“Yes, we’re disappointed, but tonight we saw history,” said Pascal’s promoter Yvon Michel. “It was a great night of boxing.”

Nowitzki Rallies Mavs From 15 Down In Final 5 Minutes To Stun Thunder In OT

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 24, 2011) OKLAHOMA CITY—A decade’s worth of playoff experience has taught Dirk Nowitzki plenty about hardship. Jason Kidd knows it well, too.

Now, it’s starting to look as if the tide has turned for the Dallas Mavericks.

Nowitzki scored 40 points, Kidd hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime and the Mavericks rallied from a 15-point deficit in the final 5 minutes of regulation to stun the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-105 on Monday night and take a 3-1 lead in the
Western Conference finals.

“It’s just a bunch of veterans with a lot of unique stories. A lot of guys have been through a lot in this league and have been around forever,” Nowitzki said. “A bunch of guys have been to the finals. ... Ultimately, we have one goal and we came together and fought through some stuff.”

Already with an improbable sweep over the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers under their belts, the Mavericks came back from a 99-84 deficit with 5 minutes left in regulation to move within one win of the NBA finals.

They handed the Thunder their first consecutive losses of the post-season and first back-to-back home losses in six months to earn a chance to clinch the series on their home court in Game 5 Wednesday night in Dallas.

“We worked really hard these two games to win, and none of that guarantees anything for Game 5. We know that,” said coach Rick Carlisle.

The Mavs have won at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons with no titles and only one trip to the NBA finals to show for it.

“All of us involved with this team have been through a lot of these wars,” Carlisle added. “We understand our position that we’re in. We respect it. We’re very humble about it. We’ve got to get ourselves revved up and ready for Wednesday, because that’s an opportunity.”

Dallas didn’t lead until Nowitzki hit two free throws 16 seconds into overtime, and the Mavericks never let the Thunder — who were one win shy of tying an NBA record with eight OT wins in the regular season — go ahead after that.

Kevin Durant, the league’s scoring champion the past two seasons, missed a 3-point attempt on Oklahoma City’s opening possession of overtime, then didn’t get another shot until he missed from long range off the front of the rim in the final 10 seconds with the Thunder down by five.

Durant finished with 29 points and 15 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 10 boards for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Only two teams in NBA history have come back from 3-1 deficits without the benefit of home-court advantage in Game 7 — Houston in the 1995 West semifinals and Boston in the 1968 East finals.

“There’s no doubt it was a tough loss,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “If this loss did not hurt, there’s no such thing as a loss that can hurt you.”

Durant said all the Thunder can do now is try to be positive.

“It’s not over yet,” he said. “We know we have a game on Wednesday. We’ve won in there before, so we’ve got to try to do it again.”

Durant had nine of the Thunder’s 26 turnovers, including the one that led to the big shot by Kidd. Kidd stripped him as he went up for a shot with just over a minute left in overtime, then took a pass from Nowitzki, pump-faked to get Westbrook in the air and stepped up to drill a 3-pointer that put Dallas up 108-105 with 40.3 seconds left.

Jason Terry hit two free throws for the last of his 20 points, and Kidd added two more to provide the final margin.

Kidd — who went to the NBA finals twice with New Jersey but is still seeking his first ring at age 38 — scored 17 points to go with seven assists, five rebounds and four steals.

“Everybody asks questions about the age and all that other stuff,” Carlisle said, “but the thing I’d say to anybody is, ‘Never underestimate greatness.’”

The Mavericks also know better than to underestimate any opponent in any circumstances.

“I think they’re going to come back in Game 5 and going to throw everything at us. Obviously they’re desperate now,” said Nowitzki, who still laments how Dallas won twice on the road to start the 2006 finals then lost four in a row to Miami.

“But they showed they can win on our home court — they stole Game 2 there — so you know they are still confident. We’ve got to take it. Nothing is going to be given to you in this league, especially not in the playoffs.”

The Thunder learned that the hard way.

Durant acted as though he was slapping on a pro wrestling championship belt after his 3-pointer finished Oklahoma City’s second 7-0 run of the fourth quarter to make it 99-84 with 5:06 remaining. He hadn’t won anything yet, though.

James Harden fouled out 32 seconds later, robbing the Thunder of their third-best offensive player. Westbrook had the only basket for the team’s All-Star tandem over the final 10 minutes while Nowitzki took charge.

“It was almost over,” Nowitzki said. “If we mess up one more time or give up one more offensive rebound, that would have been the game. So we couldn’t afford any mistakes down the stretch and ... we were almost perfect.”

The big German scored 12 points during the Mavs’ 17-2 run and got fouled by Nick Collison before hitting both free throws to tie it at 101 with 6.4 seconds left.

Shawn Marion blocked Durant’s 3-point attempt at least 30 feet from the basket with 2 seconds left, and the Mavs couldn’t convert a chance at the win when Kidd’s inbound lob with 0.7 seconds to go hit the rim.

Oklahoma City came roaring out of the gates after trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter of Game 3. The Thunder hit their first nine shots and took an 18-8 lead after Durant caught a deflected inbound pass and zoomed in for a right-handed jam.

They never quite could shake Dallas, though. The Mavericks were still within five at halftime and trailed 79-77 in the final minute of the third quarter.

“It goes without saying that it was a tough loss to accept,” Brooks said, “but it is a loss and we have to learn from it.”

Notes: Mavs C Tyson Chandler was called for a technical foul in the third quarter. The NBA rescinded Chandler’s first two technicals in this series, so his postseason count is currently at four — three shy of what’s needed for a one-game suspension. Westbrook has five. ... Dallas was the only visiting team to win twice in the regular season at the Oklahoma City Arena, where the Thunder were 30-11. The Mavs are 4-0 in the building in the regular season and playoffs. ... Brooks, facing repeated questions about his starting lineup, says he’s sticking with it. “We’re a young team,” he said, “and if you give a young team instability, you’re going to get very inconsistent results.”

SPORTS TIDBITS

Miami Almost There: Lead Series 3-1 with Win Over Chicago 101-93

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 25, 2011) *Tuesday night, LeBron James scored 35 points, Chris Bosh added 22 and Dwyane Wade blocked 2 shots in overtime, as the Heat beat the Bulls 101-93 in an exciting Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night. Miami will go for all the marbles Thursday in Chicago, where the Heat can wrap up their first finals trip since 2006. “It’s one game away,” James said. “We’re not taking anything for granted.” Derrick Rose scored 23 points for the Bulls, who got 20 apiece from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Chicago has now lost three straight games for the first time this season. Read/learn more at Yahoo Sports.