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LE NEWSLETTER

September 29, 2011

Another month is put to bed and we head into the exciting month of October
with Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween right around the corner. OK, that was an attempt to forget about the colder moving in quickly ...

You've got a couple more days to audition for
Canada's Got Talent in Toronto this week and Halifax in October.  Check it out under OPPORTUNITY!

This week's news features the amazing
Vivian Barclay, the passing of Vesta Williams, the inspiring benefits of We Day and the auditions of Canada's Got Talent.

I hope you do more than just scroll to your entertainment news, but click on the articles too - you won't get the juice of the entire stories that I've carefully chosen for you otherwise!  Just click on the
photo or the headline and you'll get directly to the article and your latest entertainment news!

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

::TOP STORIES::

As General Manager For Warner’s Publishing Division, Vivian Barclay Plays A Vital Role In The Music Industry

Source: www.swaymag.ca
- By Erica Phillips

(September 24, 2011) She started off spinning tunes at CKLN in Toronto. Now, as general manager of Warner/Chappell Music Canada Ltd. (the publishing arm of Warner Music),
Vivian Barclay helps to determine what makes it onto the airwaves.

As GM, Barclay’s job involves a little bit of everything: creative head, A&R (product management), dealing with songwriters, setting up songwriting sessions, and pitching songs to artists and music supervisors. As a publisher, her job is to first work with the song. She collaborates with artists such as Glenn Lewis, Jully Black, Saukrates, Faber Drive and Simple Plan.

Over the last few years, the music publishing business has remained one of the more stable parts of the music industry by exploiting new rights over and above selling the actual CD. “It’s a challenging time for everyone in the industry—business people and artists. The challenge is to dig deep and figure out what the public wants, while maintaining good art,” Barclay says.

The way people consume music has been one of the biggest changes in the industry. File sharing and digital use have had the most significant impact, but trends are also not what they used to be. For example, while dance music seems to be topping charts, Adele is still selling out concerts. “You never know what’s going to stick,” says Barclay. “The hits come from such different places. You have beautiful accidents.”

Based on Barclay’s family background, it’s no surprise she ended up in the music industry. Her father was a musician and her mother was a painter. “I knew the entertainment field. I was raised in it,” Barclay says. The Kitchener, Ont. native, who grew up in Jamaica, followed in her father’s footsteps, training as a classical musician and attending art school at Philadelphia’s Temple University for two years.

Later, Barclay returned to Canada to study radio and television arts at Ryerson University. She fell in love with audio production, and was introduced to CKLN by former Toronto radio personality Jemini. Barclay started in production and went on to host her own radio show, playing slow jams from midnight to 2 a.m. Eventually, she became the station’s program director. During her three years at CKLN in the mid 1990s, Barclay learned about the Canadian music scene and dealt with listeners, music promoters and others in the industry.

After her stint at CKLN, Barclay worked with Jones & Jones Productions, which led to her first job with Warner/Chappell, a three-month contract in royalties accounting. “It was so interesting to see the royalty cheques, connect the dots to see the song usage and the payments,” she says.

Barclay then took another job with Warner/Chappell in copyright, which gave her access to one of the biggest music catalogues. “At the time, I wanted to be a music supervisor and now I was going to be paid to learn catalogue,” she remembers. Doing freelance music supervision, whereby Barclay found music for television and movie projects, allowed her to combine all the elements of the music industry that she loved.

When Warner/Chappell moved its Canadian office to Los Angeles, Barclay went too. Two years later, Warner/Chappell re-established the Canadian office in Toronto, with Barclay taking the lead.
Today, in addition to her position at the label, she sits on various boards, including the Canadian Music Publishers Association, the Canadian Music Reproduction Rights Agency and CARAS/ Musicounts (Juno Awards).

As if that doesn’t bring enough music to Barclay’s life, she also teaches music publishing at Metalworks Institute in Mississauga, Ont., and is one of the organizers of the annual all-female Honey Jam showcase.

We Remember Vesta Williams: Singer Dies at 53

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 23, 2011) *EUR is deeply saddened to hear that singer Vesta Williams has passed away. She was 53.

Los Angeles County coroner’s Capt. John Kades says Williams was found dead at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in an El Segundo hotel room. An autopsy will determine the cause of death, but Kades says “this could be a drug overdose.”

According to her listing in Wikipedia, Williams was born December 1, 1957 in Coshocton, Ohio. She was originally credited by her full name, but she has also been billed as Vesta since the 1990s.

Audio Exclusive: Bowlegged Lou on Vesta’s ‘Unsung’ Episode, More

Audio Exclusive: Norwood Young Details Vesta’s Final Days

Although Williams never had any albums certified gold and never had any Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, she scored seven Top 20 R&B hits from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

Watch as Vesta performs her biggest hit, “Congratulations”:

 
At We Day, Nelly Furtado Promises $1M Of Gadhafi’s Money To Free The Children

Source: www.thestar.com - Josh Tapper

(Sep 27, 2011) “My heart is full of inspiration because of you,”
Canadian pop star Nelly Furtado told a cheering crowd at the We Day event at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. “I believe in children. I believe in you and I believe in empowering girls.”

At the end of her speech, Furtado pledged $1 million to Free the Children to build a girls’ school in Kenya. What she didn’t say on stage in front of all those kids was where the money came from.

 



Remember that $1 million paid performance for ex-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s family Furtado admitted to in February? “In 2007, I received 1million$ from the (Gadhafi) clan to perform a 45 min. Show for guests at a hotel in Italy,” Furtado tweeted on Feb. 28. “I am going to donate the $.”

The Free the Children We Day news release notes Furtado’s decision to donate money earned for performing at a “private concert,” but left out any mention of the Gadhafis
. She is one of a number of celebrities, including Beyonce and Usher, to have performed for the Libyan family.

Furtado’s donation, the details of which were announced at a news conference, will fund new Free the Children initiatives for needy girls in Kenya’s Maasai Mara region, the Middle East and North Africa.

“I feel very positive about these choices,” Furtado said. “I’ve learned so many things.”

Earlier on the We Day stage, Michel Chikwanine held placards high above his head. The former child soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo stared into the crowd, his lips sealed, his testimony unfolding in silent succession.

“While bleeding they rubbed gun powder and cocaine on my wrist. They made me hold a gun. And they yelled, ‘Shoot! Shoot!’ They made me shoot my best friend. His name was Kevin. I was forced to be a child soldier. I was silenced along with 300,000 other children.

“Now I’m free to speak up.”

At that, more than 18,000 youths packed into the Air Canada Centre for We Day burst into screams.

RELATED: MORE PHOTOS FROM WE DAY

They screamed for rapper Kardinal Offishall. For hosts Joe Jonas and Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev. For Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor David Onley. For actor Danny Glover. And of course, they screamed for brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger, the co-founders of Free the Children and brain trust behind We Day, a cross-country celebration of youth activism.

The Toronto We Day is the first of five day-long events to be held across Canada between now and March 2012. Vancouver, Waterloo, Winnipeg and Montreal will also host, and each will have its own set of guests, including Mikhail Gorbachev and Shaquille O’Neal.

The kids at the ACC came from all over Ontario, Eastern Canada and even the United States, including contingents from Texas and Connecticut.

Magda Dutkowska, 11, traveled to Toronto with her classmates from St. Ann’s School in Bridgeport, CT. They raised money for the trip by selling ice cream at lunchtime. The school got involved with Free the Children four years ago after hearing about it on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

“It’s important for children to help children,” said Dutkowska, whose school raised over $8,500 to build one in Kenya.

Cynthia Rivera, a 12-year-old from St. Ann’s, was inspired by the enormous crowd of her peers.

“It shows that a lot of people care and they want to change the world,” she said.

Matt McGrath, of Mentor College in Port Credit, is part of a group that raises money at his school for Me to We, a Free the Children partner. He came to the ACC with a sign that read “Canada” and “We Day” with a heart between the two.

“Our goal in life is to help as many people as we can,” said McGrath, 17. “We feel that everyone here is here for the same goal.”

The morning was packed with emotional moments: Furtado, the Grammy award-winning singer, reuniting with a young girl she met in Kenya on a Free the Children-sponsored trip earlier this year; Glover’s emphatic urge to “act more like we than I”; Canadian paralympian Rick Hansen presenting his own Difference Maker medal around the neck of Spencer West, a motivational speaker who lost his legs at five. On stage, West told a story of African children in disbelief that a white man could also lose limbs.

With files from Jayme Poisson

VIDEO HERE

Canada’s Eager To Show Its Talent

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Sep 26, 2011) Ever seen First Nations clogging before?

John Brunton hadn’t until the
Canada’s Got Talent auditions visited Winnipeg earlier this month.

By the time the tour hit Edmonton, its second stop, he’d also seen a standup comedian in a wheelchair; an “epic” Bollywood dance routine, traditional Filipino dance, a blind dog that does tricks, a painter who also raps and recites poetry, a 13-year-old world champion tap dancer and a teenage acrobat on silks.

And lord only knows what’s coming when auditions for the new reality series hit Toronto from Tuesday through Friday.

“When the door opens up, you have no friggin’ idea who’s gonna walk through it or how many people are gonna walk through it,” said Brunton, president and CEO of Insight Productions, which is producing Talent.

More than 20,000 people registered online for auditions across the country, which began in Winnipeg on Sept. 9: up to 12,000 for the Toronto tryouts alone. But the show also accepts walk-ups, which can add hundreds to the list each day.

All applicants are videotaped and seen by the show’s producers. Only performers vetted by them get to see the celebrity judges, with the best ending up on the TV show.

Speaking of those judges, we don’t know their identities yet.

When Brunton was interviewed earlier this month, finishing touches were being put on agreements with the first two and the third hadn’t been confirmed yet.

But Brunton said one of them will be a “cornerstone” of the panel.

“I’m very, very, very excited. He’s a household name and an incredibly well-recognized Canadian actor and comedian, and we’re thrilled, thrilled.”

Brunton is excited about the show in general, which is scheduled to air on Citytv in the spring.

“It’s so cool because unlike some other shows that I’ve done” — the list includes Canadian Idol, Battle of the Blades, Top Chef Canada and Canada Sings — “it’s all kinds of talent.”

If you think you’ve seen it all before on Britain and America’s Got Talent, Brunton begs to differ.

Take those Winnipeg auditions, for instance (the show has also visited Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal, and hits Halifax after Toronto).

“The aboriginal influence in that community was enormous. You see things there you won’t see in other parts of the country,” or on the U.S. and U.K. shows, said Brunton.

The clogging is an example; Brunton said it’s a hybrid style that originated when British, Irish and Scottish fur traders met up with Cree groups.

“The flip side of that is that you have these huge India-style Bollywood influences and there are huge communities from that part of the world coast to coast.

“Cultural diversity is so celebrated in Canada, I think more so than any other country in the world, that people hold on to the roots of where they come from and celebrate it in their arts,” said Brunton. “I think that’s something we’re really seeing, more so on this show than we have on other shows.”

See www.canadasgottalent.com for details on how to audition. Lineups at the Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, begin at 6 a.m., with doors open at 8 a.m.

::OPPORTUNITIES::

Sign-Up Now For Canada's Got Talent Auditions

Source: www.canadasgottalent.com

Do you have an inner talent that needs to be seen? Are you the next Shania
Twain, Howie Mandel or do you belong on stage at the next Cirque du Soleil show? Is your child the next Justin Bieber or is your talent something brand new the world has never seen before?

Whatever it is you do then we want to hear from you!
Canada's Got Talent and Citytv are searching for Canada's most talented performers. Canada's Got Talent is open to acts of all ages - jugglers, comedians, dancers, magicians, trapeze artists, singers, and more. Think you've got talent? Fulfill the dream of a lifetime and sign-up now!

Audition Cities and Dates

Toronto
Sep. 27-30, 2011
Venue:
Rogers Centre

::MUSIC NEWS::

Burton Cummings Has A Voice That Just Won't Quit

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Brad Wheeler

(September 28, 2011) On Saturday, the Winnipeg-born singer-songwriter Burton Cummings is to be inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in a ceremony at Toronto's Elgin Theatre hosted by Howie Mandel. Other inductees include physician and astronaut Roberta Bondar, doubles-tennis player Daniel Nestor, actress Sandra Oh, comedian Russell Peters and the late writer Mordecai Richler.

Cummings, 63, already an inductee as a member of the Guess Who, spoke to The Globe recently from Los Angeles.

Burton Cummings, your voice is a medical marvel. Any explanation for why it's lasted intact all these years?

I certainly haven't lived the life of a Buddhist monk. But I've always sung. I think of my voice as a muscle, that you have to use it a lot. When I'm not touring, I sing at home, either at the piano or I'll pick up my guitar, singing old Buck Owens songs. Also I quit smoking three years ago, after being an idiot from the time I was 14 years old until I was almost 60. I'm reaping the rewards of that.

Still, I spoke to Joan Baez about her voice. She blames her lowered pitch on gravity, which you've seemed to defy so far.

The biggest compliment I get is that I don't sound like anybody else. I think I value that as the highest compliment.

Compliments, awards, record sales, sidewalk stars - you've built up quite the résumé. Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?

I must admit, last year, the Order of Canada was pretty overwhelming. When I got to Ottawa for the presentation, I found out who some of the other recipients were. I got to hang out with Mario Lemieux that day and Ivan Reitman, the film producer. It hit me pretty hard that I was in good company.

Getting that recognition alongside Mario Lemieux, are you a hockey fan? You must be happy about Winnipeg getting its team back.

I am. I still have a house in Winnipeg. I get to come back and sing the anthems again. I did that a lot when the Jets were there, particularly when the American teams were there. I got to sing both anthems. I adopted a style for the anthems - all I did was plagiarize Marvin Gaye, really. He did The Star Spangled Banner like a tremendous R&B dance record, back in 1983 at an NBA all-star game. I heard it on a box set, and I was just mesmerized. It was just brilliant. So I just copied it phrase for phrase, note for note.

It's not an anthem, or maybe it is, but what about singing American Woman these days? The United States has been humbled.

It really has. But I wouldn't read any new meaning into it, and I don't know if people would either.

It's not a political song?

No, it was more observational. The Guess Who had been touring in the States a lot. We were playing in a curling rink, on the exterior of Toronto. It was just jammed on stage, and I came up with the lyrics in the moment. What I was saying was, "Canadian women, I prefer you." I looked out at the girls in Canada versus all those American girls we had just seen, and it seemed like the girls were fresher and younger. They didn't grow up quite as fast in Canada.

But, ghetto scenes and war machines?

It was a particularly bad time of escalation. 1970 was probably one of the worst years for the Vietnam War. People read political references into the song that weren't necessarily there. But I guess it did sound anti-American.

What songs are you most proud of?

For my solo career there are a couple, Break It to Them Gently and I'm Scared. They're two of my better written songs as a solo artist. As a member of Guess Who, I think No Time was the best thing we ever did. It was a pivotal song in our career. Up until that point we'd only had soft records. These Eyes and Laughing were good songs, but soft. When No Time came out, we were taken more seriously as a band from that point on.

So how much time is left for Burton Cummings?

Here's the thing: I've always told my manager that when it gets lame, I'll quit. I'll know when it's time to step down from the stage. I don't want to go out and be one of those tired old failures just trying to cash in on earlier days. But people say I sound as good as ever now. We tape our shows every night. I listen to them, and it doesn't sound lame to me.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Burton Cummings plays Toronto's Massey Hall on Sept. 29 as part of the Canada's Walk of Fame Festival (canadaswalkoffame.com).

And Justice For All: Junos Add Metal/Hard Rock Honour

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

(September 28, 2011) Lee Aaron. Know your history, metalheads.

It seems to come too late for Lee Aaron (pictured) and is certainly not in time to honour Voivod's Piggy (RIP), but dudes in black T-shirts from sea to shining sea are rejoicing this morning (if they're up yet): The
Junos have announced they're adding a metal/hard rock category. The nub of the announcement:

"The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced today that submissions for the 2012 JUNO Awards open on October 1, 2011.  A new category will be added to the Awards roster in 2012: Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year, making a total of 41 categories up for grabs. The 41st annual JUNO Awards will be held in Ottawa, ON, March 26 - April 1, 2012.

"This new category is an award to honour artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the Canadian recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.  Eligible albums include metal, metalcore, hardcore, heavy rock, thrash metal, death metal and their respective subgenres including (but not limited to) nu-metal, power metal, grindcore, extreme metal, industrial metal, viking metal, folk metal, doom metal, gothic metal, speed metal, and sludge metal."

That last sentence of subcategories could have been twice as long, but I think we get the message. So the very first Juno for metal/hard rock comes out in 2012, for this year's albums. You know, Ajax's Protest the Hero would be eligible for Scurrilous ... and so would the long-slaving Anvil, with Juggernaut of Justice. It might seem dubious to start this category on, of all things, a sentimental note, but this will be hard for Junos voters to resist. Even if it does remind metal elders of 1989, when the very first Grammy for best hard rock/metal album went to ... Jethro Tull, nosing out some whelps called Metallica and their  album ... And Justice For All. Never heard of 'em.

Okay, rockers, tell me in the comments: what album from this year should win the first metal/hard rock Juno?

At Home With Celine Dion, Superstar Mom (Yes, She's Wearing Sweatpants)

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(Sep 25, 2011) The woman sitting quietly in a corner of her palatial
Florida home is using a breast pump to store her milk for her twin babies. There's little dignity to the time-intensive routine. And even cracking jokes while using the uncomfortable device for the task doesn't help. She looks exhausted, like scores of other new mothers who have come before her.

With a difference: The mother in question is singer
Celine Dion - and she's pumping for a television audience as well as her boys Eddy and Nelson. "There's not only food in there," she says to the camera, "there's love."

Called Celine: 3 Boys and a New Show, Dion's upcoming documentary special on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network is full of gushy, maternal musings. But while they might seem corny, the megastar - who in the past has often seemed to resort to greeting-card clichés in speaking to the press - is clearly not acting. She's mad for her new babies, as well as her 10-year-old boy René-Charles. Not to mention her long-time husband and manager René Angélil, a man who fiercely protects his wife's image as a crowd-pleaser with Titanic-sized pipes and has established her as one of the world's richest women (with a personal wealth estimated at more than $1-billion).

Still, it's a little unusual for the notoriously private artist, now 43, to invite a camera crew (even her pal Oprah's camera crew) into her all-white, $20-million oceanside Florida home, where they follow her every move, from nursery to kitchen to walk-in closet, and join in everything from the kids' baptism to rehearsals as mom Dion prepares - with just five months of prep time - to return to Caesars Palace for her Las Vegas one-woman live show, seen so far by more than 3.25 million adoring fans.

Some may adore her a little too much, of course - there was the fan, for example, who recently entered her Montreal home and had helped himself to pastry from Dion's fridge and started to run a warm bath before he was caught by police. But there are also folks who don't love her. Over the years, the singer has polarized listeners, sometimes inspiring a zealous dislike that's a bit bewildering, given the long-necked, lithesome star's track record. The five-time Grammy winner has sold more than 220 million records and never made a huge misstep. (Okay, her marriage-vow renewal in 2000 - with the camels, exotic birds and six Berber tents, each representing a scene from A Thousand and One Nights - was a little over the top.)

Regardless of her public image, since the birth of her son, René-Charles, and her 69-year-old husband's cancer scare 10 years ago, Dion has largely left the limelight. She performs primarily at The Colosseum theatre at Caesars Palace in extended runs that last for years, so she can move her entire family to Vegas to live near her rather than drag them around the world on tours.

"I see this time as the greatest gift of all," said Dion last week, talking from a limo on Angélil's cellphone on the way to a concert in Central Park with Andrea Bocelli, David Foster and Tony Bennett (her sister's with Dion's children in a second limo behind them - you try doing phone interviews with three kids in the car). "This [motherhood] is the most extraordinary gift that life can give us. I'm trying to cherish every second."

In her 90-minute TV special, Dion certainly seems to let her guard down more than she ever has: We hear about her determination to conceive (she went through six rounds of in-vitro fertilization for the twins), and see her fretting that her breast milk might leak through the front of her gown while onstage, helping René-Charles with homework in her sweatpants and insisting that she - not a night nurse - will wake up every two hours to feed her hungry babies.

Or maybe the ramped-up candour is just more savvy promotion for Dion. Her next season in Vegas starts in December - and injecting that little bit of juice to keep the sellouts coming can't hurt.

Whatever her intentions, though, it's evident that Dion the workhorse has mellowed somewhat and rejigged her priorities so that kids and husband come first. She even looks softer - the sharp angles of her face more gently rounded and less pinched.

In Dion's words, the TV special is a way for her fans "to get to know me better. I wanted to give them a VIP pass to my life. I wanted them to see what it's like to travel with us. To understand a little bit more what it is to prepare a show, and to have two new babies. So many things have happened since I was last in Vegas." (Among her projects: two new albums coming next spring, one in French and one in English, incorporating some of the songs from her Vegas show.)

The TV special is also meant to show fans Dion is just like them. "I wanted to re-connect with them and show them that I also take my kids to school," she says. "We have an extraordinary life, I know that, but are we that different from everyone else? No, we're not."

Well, maybe a little. Dion's 10,000-square-foot Jupiter Island, Fla., home has a lavish, five-acre garden, two swimming pools, two water slides and a river. To get to work, the singer flies by private jet to Las Vegas, and for her workwear, couturiers are flown in from Europe.

But keeping her kids grounded, something Dion says she's determined to do, amounts to the same challenge no matter what your circumstances are. "When you have nothing, it's difficult to raise a child. When you have everything, it's hard to raise a child," she says matter-of-factly. "But it's not what you give them that's important. It's what you teach them - that is the line I remember when I make all decisions."

That Dion is a hard-driving perfectionist, in all aspects of her life, is no secret. As the youngest of 14 kids born to lower-middle-class parents in Charlemagne, Que., she grew up having to fight for everything she had. She first met her husband - 26 years older than her - when she was 12 and he mortgaged his house to jump-start her career. They've been married for the last 16 years. And, as the artist readily admits, that's a real commitment.

"It's tough to live with me. I'm not easy. I'm intense in everything I do. I honestly don't know how my husband does it," says Dion, her French-Canadian accent becoming more pronounced as she gets more animated. "He copes with me, and deals with managing everything in my life outside of our home, so I can focus mainly on my most important job as a mom, and serving the music as best I can. I rely on him a lot."

So is this new Dion an Everywoman, just trying to find that delicate balance between work and motherhood? No. But Celine: 3 Boys and a New Show (and that scene with her wielding a breast pump like a pro) does make it easier to relate to Celine the celebrity.

So much so that when she signs off by extolling her family's virtues - "They taught me how to be the best I can be, and they make me feel loved and supported. They're why I'm here today" - well, you can't help believing her.

Celine: 3 Boys and a New Show airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) on Oct. 2 at 9 p.m.

The 'Canadariffic' Laura Marling

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Sep 23, 2011) She gained her first understanding of poetry through
Leonard Cohen, her first grasp of femininity from Joni Mitchell, and her father played Neil Young covers in a hippie band in France when she was very young. The first songs she learned to play on guitar were the compositions of those songwriting icons. Consider Laura Marling, the literate folk-pop star from Eversley, England, an honorary Canadian, musically at least.

"Neil Young and Joni Mitchell were massive influences and massive in shaping what I do," says Marling, speaking from London. "And it's very clear to anybody now who listens to Night After Night that I've listened to Leonard Cohen."

Marling, the singer-songwriter with the whitest blonde hair and a maturity well beyond her 21 years, refers to a waltzing track off her strikingly poised third album, A Creature I Don't Know, produced by Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams). Elegiac in structure, Night After Night has to it such graceful lines as "I showed you my hand once and you hit me in fear / I don't stand for the devil, I don't whisper in ears."

Asked about the song's Cohenesque-ness, Marling almost laughs. "I didn't realize quite how bad a rip-off that was until after we recorded it."

Beyond the maple-musical influences, the making of her third album was inspired by the work of Robertson Davies, the author and playwright who qualifies as the privately-schooled Marling's favourite writer. All told, she says, A Creature I Don't Know is a "Canadariffic album."

Does that qualify the disc as a nominee for next year's Polaris Prize? After all, this year's short list included one album about suburban Houston, conceived by an American (Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, which captured the award on Monday), and another by Michigan-raised experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson.

If not eligible for a Canadian trophy, then surely it qualifies for the British ones. Marling's first two efforts (2008's Alas I Cannot Swim and 2010's I Speak Because I Can) were both nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. More recently Marling captured the title of top female artist at this year's Brit Awards.

Last week, on CBC Radio's Sunday Edition, the superb Robert Harris spoke about Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett, commenting that Bennett didn't shoot for hits in the beginning. Rather, he wanted a career - something that hothouse pop artists such as Lady Gaga can't think about, the pressure being on them to top the charts with one song or album on top of the next, swiftly as possible, darling, someone's coming behind you.

When Marling won the Brit - one she wasn't expected to win - she felt a sudden spasm of that pressure. She was "shocked and terrified" that something she'd worked to keep control over would now be forced on bigger audiences. "Suddenly, I felt it could all go horribly wrong," she explains. "I was worried that people would listen to my music for the wrong reason."

But the hit-making major-label machines of the past don't have the clout they once did; there are acts which grow organically, somewhat pesticide free, with Adeles and Arcade Fires raised free range in indie-music dales that compete credibly against the glitz (Gaga) and the mill-farmed (Susan Boyle).

As these are fine days for less manufactured types, Marling needn't have worried about losing grasp. "Two days after I won, everybody had forgotten that I'd won the Brit Award," she says, "and I was back to normal life."

As such, Marling felt no pressure to make her third album any sort of a follow-up to her first two albums. "I didn't have anything to prove or any statement to make," she says, about a record that took just 10 days to record, live off the floor. "It was a natural way of making music."

There's forthrightness to her singing - "by the time we were done, there was every chance that any hint of self-consciousness had left me" - brought out by an increasing self-assurance. The Beast is a crashing, brooding centrepiece. The Muse is swirling, jaunty and rootsy.

"My confidence has developed over the last few years, not necessarily having to do with my music" she says. "I've made the transition from being a child to feeling very much like an adult."

Marling isn't a confessional singer-songwriter, but I have to ask her about a line from the cathartic soar of All My Rage: "Cover me up, I'm pale as night / with a mind so dark, and skin so light." Is that her? "I suppose," she replies. "I've got a deep, dark and intense side of me, and I allow that persona that I have somewhere inside me to write the songs."

And the extreme lyrical themes? "Rage, desire, lust and love are much easier to write about," Marling says. "A happy person has better things to do than write songs."

Leonard Cohen, you imagine, would agree.

Laura Marling and band play Toronto's Great Hall on Sept. 23 and Montreal's Corona on Sept. 24.

From Coldplay To Feist, The Biggest Albums Of The Fall

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

(Sep 23, 2011) New music from these names is always an event:


Oct. 4 - Metals
Feist (Cherrytree/Interscope)

Can Feist catch everyone's attention even when she doesn't have a new song in massive rotation in an iPod commercial? We'll soon find out, as she releases her first album since becoming a global star. A string of video vignettes (song samples with images from the studio) paint a mostly introspective mood over all, assisted with strings and electronics, with maybe not so much from Feist's famously aggressive electric guitar. Her Canadian tour begins Nov. 18 in Vancouver.

Oct. 11 - Biophilia
Bjork (One Little Indian/Nonesuch)

The how of this record may be nearly as significant as the what: Biophilia will be released both as a CD and as an evolving nest of apps, with games, animations, musical notations and whatever else Bjork and Scott Snibbe, her partner in interactivity, decide to fold into it. Crystalline, the first song released in advance of the album, points to a disc-long experiment in the aesthetics of the marvellous, on themes derived from modern and ancient cosmology.

Oct. 25 - Bad as Me
Tom Waits (Anti-)

The old trickster dusts off his carny jacket - the one with the suspect stains and secret pockets - and lifts the flap on another tent full of raw deals, blown chances and gutter apotheoses. The sounds that have been dribbling from the Anti- camp suggest that Waits won't diverge much from a successful past recipe, combining gritty songwriting, distressed vocals and junk-shop instrumentals with sneaky sentimentality.

Oct. 25 - Mylo Xyloto
Coldplay (EMI)

The title looks like it could be that of a recently discovered Amerindian codex. Apparently it was the title of a Coldplay film project that didn't happen, except as a conceptual ingredient in this narrative album. Singer Chris Martin is talking of a simpler sound, as a way of telling the story of two disaffected lovers in a big mean city; but the first single, Paradise, is pretty lush. For better or worse, this is the uber-pop release of the season.

Nov. 8 - Crazy Clown Time
David Lynch (Sunday Best/PIAS)

This could be a total car wreck, but if so, I'll be right in there rubbernecking. How could a first album by David Lynch not be interesting? Music is such a crucial part of his films, and not just because his usual collaborator Angelo Badalamenti is a great film composer. Blue Velvet is the biggest, most elaborate music video ever made. Lynch sings and plays guitar on the record, which includes a star turn by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Jagger: ‘You Don’t Stop To Think About How Old You Are’

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Daniel Richler

(Sep 26, 2011) LONDON— He’s been asked the question a million times, but the man who once sang, “What a drag it is, getting old,” is surprisingly good-natured when he answers it yet again.

“I don’t know anyone who’s 68 and retired,”
Mick Jagger says, relaxing into his plush upholstered chair at London’s luxurious Dorchester Hotel. “People don’t do that any more. It wouldn’t even occur to me. If I was unable to sing the high notes, and everyone was staying up too late drinking martinis, then maybe. But if you think of yourself as a musician first, if you feel you’re still at the top of your game, you don’t stop to think about how old you are.”

The indefatigable Jagger is back – not with the Rolling Stones, for now, but with SuperHeavy, a so-called supergroup consisting of himself, the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, British soul singer Joss Stone, Bob Marley’s youngest son Damian and Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman. And when he appears in the video for SuperHeavy’s first single, Miracle Worker, it’s in a flaming hot-pink tapered suit designed to defy the cynics, dancing like such a jerky marionette you fear for his spine.

He has to contend with more than the popular resistance to rock stars aging disgracefully. Last fall, Keith Richards published a frank if mean-spirited memoir that excoriated Jagger for crimes of the ego, capping it off with the taunt that his erstwhile friend has a “tiny todger.” But Jagger hasn’t been licking his wounds. Since the publication, he’s been on Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and studios in Turkey, Jamaica, India and Los Angeles, forging the eponymously titled SuperHeavy album, which was released last week.

“Mick’s singing great, in some ways better than ever,” says Stewart, who sports shades indoors and a tattoo of SuperHeavy’s tiger-head logo, designed by Obama’s Hope poster artist Shepard Fairey, on his forearm. “He’s like jazz and blues players, who as they get older realize they don’t have to play so many notes, they just know the exact notes to play. Watching him work with those other musicians, seeing him home in on his sections, is like watching a master painter or cinematographer.”

Stewart produced Jagger’s much ignored 1987 solo album, Primitive Cool. But if that one was insipid, this one is bursting at the seams with energy and ideas from a highly amped band pulsing with beats from around the planet.

“I’ve never been a fan of world music,” Stewart says. “To me it’s like knitting yogurt sweaters, you know? But one night at my home in Jamaica, I heard all these different sounds coming from huge sound systems in the hills – reggae, rock, blues – and I thought, that’s what I want to do, bring them all together in one mad-alchemist-type experiment.”

“It’s an experiment in soundscapes,” Jagger explains. “Everyone has their own little corner and their spotlight, but when all those people coalesce into one, though I say so myself, I think it really comes off.”

The musicians were not all strangers to one another. Stewart and Jagger produced and performed the soundtrack to the 2004 remake of Alfie, which featured Joss Stone. Meanwhile, all five SuperHeavy members have a track record of collaborating with other artists, ranging from Justin Timberlake to Nas to Deepa Mehta. So, far from being a set of isolated ego trips, the album sounds both exuberant and genuinely collaborative.

Jagger, Marley and Stone complement each others’ vocal range, and Stone’s pairing with Jagger is arguably the most exciting since he sang with Merry Clayton on Gimme Shelter. Over all, it reminds you how once upon a time Jagger and Richards, belting out songs together and sharing that bottle of bourbon, created the iconic rock image of the party at the mike.

To ensure something close to a musical democracy, Stewart and Jagger shelved songs they’d already written before jamming with the new group in the studio.

“Then we just hit the ground running,” says Stewart. “We wrote 22 songs in the first six days!”

Having recorded the hit (You Gotta Walk And) Don’t Look Back with Peter Tosh in 1978, this is the second generation of reggae artists Jagger’s teamed up with. How is this one different? “Peter was more of a singer while Damian does more toasting,” he says with a serious face at first, and then creases it up in that famous way of his, all teeth and lips. “But this time round I’d go in the ganja room at the end of the day, not the beginning.”

As for the album itself, Jagger says, “Damian’s arcane raps contain a lot of political and social messages as well as a lot of humour, while A.R.’s songs are mainly spiritual. Some of the songs are personal and wistful, and some are more overtly political or social in their context.”

But if the public likes the album enough, there will be another, plus a tour that threatens to eclipse the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary next year, an event that seems likely only to be celebrated if the lawyers can cut through the acrimony.

Of course, if nothing pans out, he always has his senior’s bus pass.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Video: Tyrese is Busy with New Album, New Book and New Films

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 24, 2011) *It’s back to music for multi-talented Tyrese Gibson.

After claiming the rights to Teddy Pendergrass’s life story and gearing up for filming a new “Fast & Furious,” the singer is preparing for the release of another album, the best one of his career he claims.

“The album is done, mixed and mastered, it’s done…  I’m just excited. This album was done at my house, like a real labour of love. I had 14 people sleeping at my crib for three weeks…  They gave me the best album of my career… I’m very proud of this album,” said Tyrese whose Open Invitation hits stores Nov. 1.

It’s been nearly five years since the singer has put out any new material. But with the latest project, he says this one will definitely be a collection of emotions, experiences, and love.

“I haven’t worked on music since I was married at one point and then divorced, so I had all of this stuff bottled up,” he told the Breakfast Club DJs at 105.1 in New York.

But that’s not all. Tyrese is getting ready for his second book, “Manology” co-written by Rev. Run. Right now the two are looking for a publisher that will fit the bill. About the book, he says it’s a guide book of sorts for women.

“We gonna kind of pick up a lot of pieces from a lot of these other types of book, just kind of giving women information on how we think, how to go about us and deal with us,” said Tyrese who offered a preview of what to expect.

“The first chapter I wrote in the book is called ‘Validation Is a Man’s Silent Killer,”’ he said. “I felt like a part of my reason in being disappointed in my ex-wife was she would ask me to stop doing this, acting like this, going about this, hangout out with this, whatever the case may be, and if I decided to make these adjustments, she never validated me and made me feel good about doing whatever she asked me to do.”

VIDEO HERE.

Rakim, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Among Rock Hall Nominees

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 27, 2011) *Eric B. and Rakim, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, The Spinners and The Beastie Boys are among the music acts nominated for induction into the
2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

To qualify, the act must have released its first single or album 25 years ago. More than 500 voters will decide who lands a place in the Cleveland exhibit. The induction ceremony is scheduled for April 14.

Below is the full list of nominees for consideration:

· Beastie Boys
· The Cure
· Donovan
· Eric B. & Rakim
· Guns ‘N Roses
· Heart
· Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
· Freddie King
· Laura Nyro
· Red Hot Chili Peppers
· Rufus with Chaka Khan
· The Small Faces/The Faces
· The Spinners
· Donna Summer
· War

Joan Jett, Canadian Faves Heart Among New Rock Hall Of Fame Nominees

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(Sep 27, 2011) Long ago,
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts professed their love for rock `n' roll. It's time to see if the feeling runs both ways.

The iconic rock act is on the list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for the 2012 class released Tuesday. Women who rock feature prominently among first-time nominees. Joining Jett, whose I Love Rock `n' Roll remains a classic rock standard 30 years after its release, are sister act Heart and Rufus with Chaka Khan.

They're joined by Guns `N Roses, hip-hop pioneers Eric B. & Rakim, glum glam Goths The Cure and The Small Faces/The Faces, which includes Rod Stewart. Bluesman Freddie King and The Spinners are also first-time nominees on the ballot for the hall's 2012 class.

Previous nominees up again include The Beastie Boys, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donna Summer, Laura Nyro, Donovan and War and its an eclectic group, running from lush British folk to classic early beats and bone-crushing power rock.

An act must have released its first single or album 25 years ago to qualify for induction. More than 500 voters will determine who makes the hall. New members will be inducted at a ceremony at the hall of fame in Cleveland on April 14.

The leather-clad and tough-as-nails Jett was an early icon for women. A founding member of the all-female The Runaways, she went on to become a chart-topping success after forming the Heartbreakers in 1982.

Heart similarly made an indelible mark on the rock scene of the 1970s and `80s. Among the first women to front an aggressive rock band, singer Ann Wilson and her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson, cut some of the era's most memorable songs, from Barracuda to Magic Man, and inspired a generation of women along the way.

Heart, whose members hailed from the state of Washington, got its start playing in Vancouver's bar scene and found early success on Canadian radio. Their first album, Dreamboat Annie, was originally released on a Vancouver label.

Then a teen, Khan burst on the seen with the Chicago-based Rufus in the 1970s. She defied easy categorization, moving easily between R&B, rock and disco before going onto an enviable solo career.

Jim Cuddy Sings Love Songs To Cities

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Sep 26, 2011) As much as Blue Rodeo's musical inclinations lean
toward rockabilly soul and rural spaces, lead singer Jim Cuddy — the solo artist — is just as often inspired by living in big cities like Toronto and New York.

So it shouldn't be a huge surprise that the 55-year-old singer's third solo album, to be released Tuesday, is called Skyscraper Soul, after the first song he wrote for the album and one he calls “a bit of an ode to Toronto and maybe, in a broader sense, an ode to cities.

“I've always garnered a lot of inspiration from cities,” Cuddy said in an interview. “I loved my time in New York, I lived there for three years, and I really love Toronto.”

“As much as I've written about wide open spaces and all of the things that have moved me and the places I've been, so much of what I've done as a musician creatively has been put together creatively (in cities) and the energy source has been the city,” he added.

“So Skyscraper Soul was just a nod towards Toronto. And it kind of guided me, because every time I try to get a little rural, which is more common for me, and write a song that might have a little fiddle in it, I'd start thinking about the trumpet and what the trumpet could do,” Cuddy said.

“And it would just pull me back and all of a sudden, all the music, it just had a certain tone. It was just so much more about bricks and mortar than it was about fields and trees. So that was sort of the guiding principle,” he added.

The love of urbanity goes back at least as far as his stay in New York in the early 1980s, trying to get something going musically with fellow future Blue Rodeo singer Greg Keelor. But Skyscraper Soul's genesis came just this year, when Cuddy composed a song and some instrumental music for his wife Rena's short film, a black comedy called Four Sisters.

At the same time, Blue Rodeo was ready to take a break after working solidly for much of the past two years, giving Cuddy an opportunity to stretch his creative imagination as a solo performer.

“I find that (songwriting) is a way of making my thoughts more coherent. I'm a big talker and blah blah blah but there's just something about putting them (thoughts) in song that feels the most natural for me. So I actually really welcome the time that I spend songwriting every year or every two years,” Cuddy said.

So, for example, “Everybody Watched the Wedding” — about the royal match earlier this year between Prince William and his bride, Kate, seen by two billion around the globe — struck Cuddy as “an inspired piece of theatre . . . and there was some kind of nobility at the heart of it,” Cuddy said.

“Regular Days” is inspired by Cuddy's longtime relationship with his wife, Rena, and the realization that “since we were both artists, that we were never, ever going to lead a normal life,” he added.

After 25 years in the music industry, Cuddy is also impressed with the “maturity” and impact that Canadian performers such as Arcade Fire are having internationally. “I think that the Canadian music scene is now of sufficient maturity that the world understands that great bands can come from Canada. Because certainly when we started, that was not the case,” Cuddy said.

He noted with pleasure that new bands “can reasonably be assured that if you've got good music, you're going to be heard and the world is not going to be surprised it's coming from Canada.”

B.o.B Reveals Album Title and Talks Lil Wayne Collabo

Source: www.billboard.com - by Erika Ramirez, N.Y.
  

(September 28, 2011) While stopping by Atlanta's V-103 "The Ryan
Cameron Show" yesterday (Sept. 27), Bobby Ray revealed that the title of his first single, "Strange Clouds," will serve as the title for his sophomore album.

"'Strange Clouds,' this is the first single off my sophomore album, actually titled 'Strange Clouds,'"
B.o.B told V-103. "Wayne actually got on it pretty quick. It was a quick turnaround. We were kind of debating on it, man, but we just felt like this is the song that should go first. I feel really strong about it and I like to take my time with music."

B.o.B continued to say that we should expect "Strange Clouds" early Spring 2012.

Before appearing on V-103, B.o.B performed a few of his Hot 100 hits ("Nothin' on You," "Airplanes," "Past My Shades," and "Bet I") during a re-election fundraiser for President Obama at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

Justin Bieber Covers Lil Wayne's 'How To Love': Listen

Source: www.billboard.com - by Jason Lipshutz, N.Y.
  

(September 28, 2011) Is there a better birthday gift in this world than
Justin Bieber remixing one of your songs? The pop star helped Lil Wayne ring in his 29th birthday by stripping down the rapper's "Carter IV" hit, "How To Love," which he posted on his Twitter Wednesday morning (Sept. 28).

"Trying to sleep. until then happy birthday @LilTunechi - #remix," Bieber posted. The remix swaps Weezy's Auto-Tuned crooning for Bieber's layered vocals while keeping the original's musical blueprint; listen at 2:38, when the teen star delivers a soul-baring verse over gentle acoustic strumming.

Last month, Bieber toasted another Young Money star's sombre work by remixing Drake's "Trust Issues." Over the past three months, Bieber has also hit the studio with R&B artists like Chris Brown and Boyz II Men, who recorded a song with Bieber for his upcoming Christmas album, as well as landed in the top spot of Billboard's 21 Under 21 list after holding the runner-up spot in 2010.

Meanwhile, Lil Wayne's "How To Love" has peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100 and sold 1.9 million digital copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The single helped Weezy's "Tha Carter IV" debut with 964,000 copies sold in its first week earlier this month.

Bieber's "How To Love" cover takes on Lil Wayne's track from a different perspective, but does it surpass Weezy's original? Check out the music video of Lil Wayne's "Love" and vote for your favourite version of the song.

Tony Bennett, 85, Achieves First No. 1 Album on Billboard 200

Source: www.billboard.com - by Keith Caulfield, L.A.  

(September 28, 2011) Legendary pop singer
Tony Bennett achieves his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with "Duets II," making the 85-year old the oldest living act to reach No. 1. His all-star collaborations album bows in the top slot with 179,000 sold in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The 14-time Grammy Award winner's previous high on the chart came in 2006, when his first "Duets" set debuted and peaked at No. 3 with 202,000. Bennett has been charting on Billboard's charts since 1951 and notched his first hit on the Billboard 200 album tally six years later. Until today, the oldest living artist to top the Billboard 200 was Bob Dylan, whose "Together Through Life" debuted at No. 1 in 2009 when he was 67-years old.

Bennett's "Duets II" features 17 pairings with such stars as Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood and the late Amy Winehouse. Last week, Bennett made news as the oldest living artist to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, when his duet with Winehouse, "Body and Soul," debuted at No. 87.

Video: Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett's 'Body and Soul'

Last week's No. 1 album, Lady Antebellum's "Own the Night," falls to No. 2 with 125,000 (down 64%) while Adele's "21" also drops a spot to No. 3 with 117,000 (down 2%). Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" descends 3-5 in its fourth week with 84,000 (down 28%).

The second-highest debut this week belongs to Demi Lovato's third album, "Unbroken," which debuts at No. 4 with 96,000 sold. Her last release, 2009's "Here We Go Again," opened at No. 1 with 108,000. Her first set, 2008's "Don't Forget," debuted and peaked at No. 2 with 89,000.

Bennett and Lovato lead a total of six new arrivals in the top 10 this week. They are joined by rock act NeedToBreathe, Mindless Behavior, Gavin DeGraw and Pearl Jam.

NeedToBreathe's "The Reckoning" starts at No. 6 with 49,000 -- the band's first top 10, highest charting set and best sales week ever. Its last release, 2009's "The Outsiders," debuted and peaked at No. 20 with 21,000.

Some of "The Reckoning's" big first week can be attributed to two high-powered friends of the band: Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. The singers -- two of the top 10 most-followed people on Twitter -- tweeted about "The Reckoning" during release week: Bieber on Sept. 20 and Swift on Sept. 24. (Bieber has 12.9 million followers and Swift has 8.2 million.) It makes sense that Swift would alert her followers about NeedToBreathe, as the band has been opening for the singer on her Speak Now tour since it launched on May 27.

R&B vocal group Mindless Behavior rides in at No. 7 with its debut album "#1 Girl," selling 36,000 copies in its first week. The teen quartet -- who rank at No. 16 on Billboard.com's 21 Under 21 list -- will hit the road with the Scream tour, featuring Diggy and New Boyz, beginning Sept. 30 in Augusta, Georgia.

Gavin DeGraw's "Sweeter" lands the singer/songwriter his second top 10 set as it starts at No. 8 with 34,000. His last release, 2009's "Free," debuted and peaked at No. 19 (26,000) and spent just three weeks on the chart. His first top 10 came with his 2008 self-titled set, which bowed at No. 7 off a 66,000 start.

Gavin DeGraw, 'Sweeter': Video Track-By-Track

The final new entry in the top 10 is Pearl Jam, with its soundtrack to its "Pearl Jam Twenty" film, bowing at No. 10 with 27,000. The companion piece to the Cameron Crowe-directed documentary includes demo recordings, live tracks and rare cuts. It's the band's tenth top 10 album. Pearl Jam is one slot behind the final holdover in the top 10: Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne," which holds at No. 9 with 31,000.

Moving over to the Digital Songs chart, Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" (featuring Christina Aguilera) holds at No. 1 with 233,000 downloads sold (up 5%). Nos. 2 and 3 on the tally are also stationary: Adele's "Someone Like You" at No. 2 with 201,000 (up 1%) and Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" at No. 3 with 177,000 (down 5%).

A pair of acts claim double top 10 honours this week, as both LMFAO and Rihanna occupy two slots each in the region.

LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" rises 5-4 (149,000; up 4%) while its new single, "Sexy and I Know It," flies 15-6 (139,000; up 97%) as its racy music video continues to make waves.

Rihanna's new single, "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris), debuts at No. 7 with 117,000 after only four days of sales. The single was released on Sept. 22, while the chart tracking week ended on Sunday, Sept. 25. "Found" is the first single from Rihanna's sixth studio album, due later this year. Meanwhile, "Cheers (Drink to That)," the final single from her previous album, "Loud," slips 9-10 with 114,000 (down 5%).

Rihanna Drops 'We Found Love'; New Album Due Nov. 21

Gym Class Heroes' "Stereo Hearts" (featuring Adam Levine) falls 4-5 (140,000; down 3%), David Guetta's "Without You" (featuring Usher) climbs 10-8 (116,000; up 12%) and Lady Gaga's "You And I" slips 8-9 (114,000; down 6%).

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 25) totalled 5.28 million units, down 5% compared to the sum last week (5.58 million) and up 5% compared to the comparable sales week of 2010 (5.03 million). Year to date album sales stand at 222.93 million, up 3% compared to the same total at this point last year (215.76 million). It is the 18th week in a row where year-to-date album volume is greater than the same time in the prior year.

Digital track sales this past week totalled 20.78 million downloads, down 1% compared to last week (21.01 million) and up 8% stacked next to the comparable week of 2010 (19.18 million). Year to date track sales are at 931.37 million, up 11% compared to the same total at this point last year (840.92 million).

Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2010 when: Kenny Chesney's "Hemmingway's Whiskey" debuted at No. 1 with 183,000 and Lil Wayne's "I Am Not a Human Being" bowed at No. 2 off a digital-only sales start of 110,000. The previous week's leader, Zac Brown Band's "You Get What You Give," slipped to No. 3 with 70,000 (down 54%).

We Remember Jessy Dixon: Gospel Artist Succumbs to Illness at 73

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 28, 2011) *Energetic gospel artist Jessy Dixon, the man who opened for Paul Simon, passed away on Monday at his Chicago home after battling an unrevealed illness.

The singer was 73 years old.

Over his 50-year career, Dixon contributed to the success of many other artists in jazz and R&B, including Randy Crawford, Cher, Diana Ross, Natalie Cole, and Amy Grant.

His talent and knack for music began to blossom at 5 years old when he began to play classical piano, but was inspired to use his talents in the church. In his youth, he was introduced to music James Cleveland after performing at a theatre in south Texas city.

Gospel became his passion and his life. He mentioned before that, “Going to church was like going to school.” While in the school of church, he observed the music of legends like Mahalia Jackson and blues pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey.

“Reading his (Dorsey’s) music and studying it, he was the one who wrote for Tennessee Ernie Ford, Elvis Presley and Pat Boone,” Dixon said. “All these people were singing his music and were making it commercial.”

Dixon eventually began to tour the world with his Gospel music, captivating audiences all over.

During his career, he produced five gold records and received several Grammy nominations.

Michael Jackson's Voice Leaves Mother In Tears At Doctor's Trial

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Linda Deutsch and Anthony McCartney, The Associated Press

(September 27, 2011) First, prosecutors showed a photo of Michael Jackson's pale and lifeless body lying on a gurney. Then, they played a recording of his voice, just weeks before his death.

Slow and slurred, his words echoed Tuesday through a Los Angeles courtroom at the start of the trial of the doctor accused of killing him. As a worldwide audience watched on TV and Mr. Jackson's family looked on from inside the courtroom, a drugged Mr. Jackson said:

"We have to be phenomenal. When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, `I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world."'

Prosecutors played the audio for the first time during opening statements as they portrayed Dr. Conrad Murray, 58, as an incompetent physician who used a dangerous anesthetic without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left the superstar abandoned as he lay dying.

Defense lawyers countered that Mr. Jackson caused his own death by taking a drug dose, including propofol, after Dr. Murray left the room.

Nothing the cardiologist could have done would have saved the King of Pop, defense lawyer Ed Chernoff told jurors, because Mr. Jackson was desperate to regain his fame and needed rest to prepare for a series of crucial comeback concerts.

A number of Mr. Jackson's family members were in the courthouse, including his father Joseph, mother Katherine, sisters LaToya and Janet, and brothers Jermaine, Randy and Tito. LaToya Jackson carried a sunflower, her brother's favourite flower.

The family's most emotional moment came when the prosecutor played a video excerpt from Mr. Jackson's "This Is It" rehearsal in which he sang "Earth Song," a plea for better treatment of the environment.

As Mr. Jackson sang the words, "I used to dream. I used to glance beyond the stars," his mother, Katherine, dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

Prosecutor David Walgren noted it was Mr. Jackson's last performance.

Dr. Murray, who arrived at court holding hands with his mother, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

Speaking for more than an hour, Mr. Walgren relied on photos and audio recordings to paint Dr. Murray as an inept and reckless caretaker.

Mr. Walgren showed a photo of a lifeless Jackson on a hospital gurney. He juxtaposed the image with those of Jackson performing. Mr. Walgren also played the recording of Mr. Jackson speaking to Dr. Murray while, the prosecutor said, the singer was under the influence of an unknown substance roughly six weeks before his death.

The prosecutor said that Dr. Murray recorded the conversation with his groggy patient on his cell phone.

Mr. Jackson trusted Dr. Murray as his physician, and "that misplaced trust in Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life," Mr. Walgren said.

The recurring theme was Mr. Jackson's never-ending quest for sleep and propofol, the potion he called his "milk" and that he believed was the answer. Jurors were told that it was a powerful anesthetic, not a sleep aid, and the prosecutor said Mr. Murray severely misused it.

The prosecutor said while working for Jackson, the doctor was shipped more than four gallons of the anesthetic, which is normally given in hospital settings.

Mr. Chernoff, the defense lawyer, claimed the singer swallowed several pills of the sedative lorazepam on the morning of his death and that was enough to put six people to sleep. After taking a self-administered dose of propofol, Mr. Jackson did not even have a chance to close his eyes, Mr. Chernoff said, claiming he died instantly.

Mr. Chernoff, who had long hinted that the defense would blame Mr. Jackson for his own death, added a surprise. He claimed that Mr. Jackson died not because his doctor continued to give him the drug but because he stopped it, forcing Mr. Jackson to take extreme measures.

"What we will hear is that Dr. Murray provided propofol for two months to Michael Jackson for sleep," Mr. Chernoff said. "During those two months, Michael Jackson slept. He woke up and he lived his life.

"The evidence will not show you that Michael Jackson died because Dr. Murray gave him propofol. The evidence is going to show you Michael Jackson died when Dr. Murray stopped," the attorney said.

He said Dr. Murray was trying to wean Mr. Jackson off of propofol and had been giving him other sleep aids known as benzodiazepines trying to lull him to sleep.

On June 25, 2009, the last day of Mr. Jackson's life, Mr. Chernoff said, he was in the third day of a weaning process and it didn't work.

"Michael Jackson started begging. He couldn't understand why he wasn't sleeping.... When Michael Jackson told Dr. Murray `I have to sleep. They will cancel my performance,' he meant it," Mr. Chernoff said.

Dr. Murray, in a recording of his interview with police detectives, acknowledged that he relented and agreed to give Jackson a small dose of propofol.

Mr. Walgren said Dr. Murray's claim that he gave the singer a minuscule dosage, enough to keep him asleep perhaps five minutes, was not true. He also accused Dr. Murray of deception when he hid from paramedics and hospital emergency staff that he had given Mr. Jackson propofol. He said they were desperately trying to revive him but didn't know about the drug.

He returned repeatedly to the fee Murray was to be paid - $150,000 a month - and pointed out that he first had asked for $5 million.

"There was no doctor-patient relationship," Mr. Walgren said. "... What existed here was an employer-employee relationship. He was not working for the health of Michael Jackson. Dr. Murray was working for a fee of $150,000."

Chernoff countered with a description of Dr. Murray's history of treating indigent patients for free. At times during the defense attorney's opening statements, Dr. Murray appeared to be crying and wiped his eyes with a tissue.

Mr. Jackson's family members appeared pained as Walgren described the singer as a vulnerable figure, left alone with drugs coursing through his body.

"It violates not only the standard of care but the decency of one human being to another," he said. "Dr. Murray abandoned Michael when he needed help."

Following opening statements, Jackson's choreographer and friend, Kenny Ortega, testified that Mr. Jackson was in bad shape physically and mentally less than a week before his death.

He said he sent a message to Randy Phillips, producer of the "This Is It" concert, telling him that Jackson was ill, probably should have a psychological evaluation and was not ready to perform.

"It's important for everyone to know he really wants this," he wrote. "It would shatter him, break his heart if we pulled the plug. He's terribly frightened it's all going to go away."

In response to the email, Mr. Ortega said, a meeting was called at Mr. Jackson's house where Mr. Ortega clashed with Dr. Murray, who told him to stop playing amateur psychiatrist and doctor.

"He said Michael was physically and emotionally capable of handling all his responsibilities for the show,"' said Mr. Ortega, "I was shocked. Michael didn't seem to be physically or emotionally stable."

Within a few days, he said, Mr. Jackson had recouped his energy and was full of enthusiasm for the show.

During the defense opening statement, Mr. Chernoff referred to Dr. Arnold Klein, Jackson's dermatologist, who the judge decided will not testify.

The lawyer tried to blame Dr. Klein for some of Mr. Jackson's woes, saying Dr. Klein gave Mr. Jackson the painkiller Demerol and he became addicted to it.

He told jurors that Dr. Klein would not be testifying but his records would be available and an addiction specialist would testify that one of the side effects of Demerol withdrawal is trouble sleeping. Mr. Chernoff said Dr. Murray was unaware of a Demerol shot administered to Mr. Jackson on June 16 and thus didn't realize there could be a fatal interaction with propofol.

Dr. Klein's lawyer, Garo Ghazarian, later in the day issued a statement calling the allegations preposterous and "merely an attempt to whitewash the facts surrounding the death of ... Michael Jackson while under the management of Dr. Conrad Murray."

He noted there were no traces of Demerol in Mr. Jackson's autopsy or in his home, indicating he was not addicted. He also said Dr. Klein's use of the drug was not excessive. He noted that Dr. Klein was cleared by authorities of any wrongdoing in Mr. Jackson's death.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Lenny Kravitz Craves Adele Duet

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 24, 2011) *Lenny Kravitz wants to work with Adele. The ‘Fly Away’ hitmaker is a huge fan of the British singer and sees similarities between her and himself in the early stages of his career. When asked who he admired, he said: “Well Adele, obviously, she’s amazing. I’d love to work with her, she’s got a beautiful voice, and it’s amazing how she’s doing her thing. “She’s number one just all the time, and making great music. I like that, you know, it reminds me of how it was when I came out, because what she’s doing isn’t exactly what the norm of radio is, she came in and made a slot for herself, you know.” As well as wanting to work with Adele, Lenny dreams of playing London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall venue. Speaking to Absolute Radio’s Vicky Blight following an intimate performance at London venue The Box, he said: “I’ve never played the Royal Albert Hall, I’d love to play there, I’d love to play there, it’s just kind of a classic building, something that you grew up hearing about, you know, but I just like playing. We have an array of great venues in the tour, you know, there are going to be pretty much all indoor arenas because its winter, it will be fall/winter, and then we’ll come back next year for arenas and stadiums.” Lenny’s gig is available to view on demand at www.absoluteradio.co.uk

Forbes Names Diddy, Jay-Z, and 50 to Billionaire Watch List

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 23, 2011) *Forbes writer, Zack O’Malley Greenburg has generated a watch list of Hip Hop artists who are on the verge of possibly becoming the industry’s first billionaire. So far he’s got Sean “Diddy” Combs, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, Bryan “Birdman” Williams, and Cutis “50 Cent” Jackson. Right now these artists are at the top of the list for richest rappers. The big question Greenburg asks is WHO will be the first? “I think Young Money Cash Money would be the first billion-dollar brand in Hip-Hop,” said Birdman in an email message to Greenburg, referring to his record label. “We strong and growing every day as a brand and fast. Within the next few years we will be billionaires.” Birdman don’t get ahead of yourself. We’re talking individuals, not entities. With his current vodka deal, clothing line, and Bad Boy Records, Diddy is in first place with an estimated net worth of $500 million. Jay-Z is close behind with an estimated $450 million accumulated from the sale of Rocawear clothing label and a Live Nation deal signed in 2008. He also has stakes in the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, the 40/40 Club, ad firm Translation, Carol’s Daughter and other ventures. Dre is currently worth $250 million, Birdman is at $110 million, and 50 close behind with $100 million.

Justin Bieber and Boyz II Men Come Together on Christmas Track

Source: www.eurweb.com

(September 22, 2011) *Boyz II Men are slowly regaining momentum in this modern world of R&B. In the group’s effort to get back on track the guys will be appearing on Justin Bieber’s Christmas album on a cut called, “Falalalala.” The announcement came via Twitter when the 17-year-old singer posted it on his account. “2day i woke up and realized that the group that made me want to sing @BoyzIIMen are now on the christmas album singing with me. #DREAMBIG.”i used 2 listen to their music and practice the runs. that is how i learned how to sing. now im in the studio with them making music 2gether.” And it looks like everyone is quite satisfied with the collaboration efforts. The group tweeted kind words of thanks and praise, calling Bieber “Lil bro.” The group also stopped by MTV studios to discuss the project and their new colleague. “He told us his mom didn’t want him to sing ‘I’ll Make Love to You,’ so he’d sneak and go sing it somewhere,” Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris revealed. “It’s also good to know we’ve influenced such a good artist. It’s something that makes us feel we’ve accomplished [something and] we’re doing our job, [that] a guy so young and so into his craft [is] influenced by three guys from Philadelphia that love to sing.”

Kanye West Moves Backstage With Paris Fashion Show

Source: www.thestar.com - Samantha Critchell

(Sep 23, 2011) Front-row regular Kanye West will be seeing Paris Fashion Week from a different vantage point next week: He’ll be backstage. The media has been invited to cover the Kanye West Spring/Summer 2012 fashion show on Oct. 1. West is a well-known fan of fashion, attending the Burberry runway show in London last weekend, and developing a close friendship with designer Tory Burch. The debut of the music star’s own collection has been rumoured for months. The buzz also had him collaborating with Louise Wilson, a fashion professor at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London. But Wilson said Friday she’s “had absolutely nothing to do with his collection at any time.” She did say, however, that West visited the school twice and contributed to a fundraising campaign.

Video: Common’s Autobiography Makes Best Seller

Source: www.eurweb.com


(September 28, 2011) *The NY Times Best Seller List just got longer with rapper Common’s first book, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense.” The Chicago native opened up his book of memories and thoughts to fans in the book, sharing his experiences with different women and in his career. Just two weeks after the book’s Sept. 16 release, he’s already at the top of his game. To celebrate, the rapper has released a video recap to fans.

21 Under 21: Music's Hottest Minors 2011

Source: www.billboard.com


(September 28, 2011) They've got hit records, millions of fans, and the kind of
success most musicians only dream of -- and they can't even buy a glass of champagne to celebrate their success. Welcome to Billboard.com's 2011 instalment of 21 Under 21, our annual ranking of music's most powerful minors. From bubbly boy bands to white-hot producers, sexy K-Pop princesses to pint-sized Reggeaton powerhouses, rising hip-hop stars to international pop icons, these are the fresh faces whose careers will continue to pack the biggest punches over the next 12 months. Get used to this crew, because they're all just getting started.  Click the button HERE to see where your favourite teen dream ranked on our list.

::FILM NEWS::    

How Total Recall Saved Toronto’s Film Industry

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Tony Wong

(Sep 21, 2011) On an isolated soundstage in Toronto’s Port Lands,
designers have created a dark, futuristic vision.

The bones of New Asia are being created out of brick, steel and Styrofoam in one of the most elaborate set designs ever constructed in the city.

In fact,
Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 sci-fi action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is set to be the most expensive movie in Toronto history. With a budget estimated at anywhere from $130 million to as much as $200 million, once marketing costs are added, the production is a behemoth.

It is also a watershed moment for Toronto moviemaking. As the cast, including
Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale, wrapped the shoot here Thursday after more than six months of production and filming, it may well be remembered as the movie that saved the Toronto film industry.

If you had trouble getting a carpenter to build your deck this summer, blame Total Recall. If you had trouble getting to work on Lake Shore Blvd., you can blame Total Recall too. The shoot blocked off traffic for four days.

From the money that Farrell has dropped at yoga classes, to Biel’s penchant for fine dining in the city with on-and-off-again boyfriend Justin Timberlake, the production, directly and indirectly, has had an enormous impact.

Either way, it was hard to escape the movie’s deep economic gravity.

“This has been a total game changer,” says Paul Bronfman, chair of Pinewood Toronto Studios, in an interview. “We have come through some dark days to get here.”

Because of Total Recall, the city is on track to hit close to a billion dollars in production value this year, a record.

That’s compared with $726 million in 2010. The peak year, according to Toronto Film and Television Office figures, was 2001, when production hit $928 million, before a soaring Canadian dollar and SARS crippled the once high-flying industry. (Adjusted for inflation, 2001’s figures equal $1.135 billion in today’s dollars.)

Peter Finestone, the city’s film commissioner, calls Total Recall the first big “tentpole” to hit the city.

“This was equivalent to the big top, or the whole circus moving to town and taking over,” says Finestone. “This movie has had an enormous impact to everyone, from people who put the cones on the street to protect parking spaces, to lighting, to sound and camera people to guys who run the catering trucks.”

Monty Montgomerie, business manager for IATSE local 873, which represents film industry workers, says the movie will have paid its members a significant $25 million in wages alone since production first started in March — that’s equivalent to the entire budget of some Hollywood movies.

During peak production, the project employed up to 600 workers from one local. There were more than 300 carpenters on set — more than most housing developments — on some days.

“These are good quality, well-paying jobs,” said Montgomerie. “This has had a massive impact.”

The previous record holder for a movie filmed in the city was 2007’s The Incredible Hulk, starring Ed Norton, with a budget estimated to be anywhere from $100 to $150 million. But unlike Hulk, virtually every scene of Total Recall was shot in Toronto on Pinewood’s soundstages or on location at buildings such as Commerce Court in the financial district, or at the University of Toronto, so much more of the money stays here.

RIPPLE EFFECT

Economists talk a lot about the multiplier effect, where one dollar spent in a restaurant, for example, can have a ripple through the economy as the server spends his tips on other goods and services, which in turn creates more demand and causes more employment beyond the initial investment.

“The money that’s put into the system is spent again and it tends to grow,” said Michael Harker, a senior partner at Toronto based Enigma Research, which specializes in economic impact of special events.

The impact of the film industry is similar to tourism because the hospitality sector, such as hotels, rental cars and catering, is directly affected. But because it also hires a vast, specialized crew, it can be much broader-based, said Harker.

If Total Recall spent just a quarter of its estimated budget, or $50 million, in Toronto, the economic impact would be roughly equivalent to Pride Week, or the 11-day Toronto International Film Festival, according to the consultant.

“It would be pretty huge. This is money that may have gone to New York or Los Angeles, but not Toronto,” said Harker.

BLEEDING MONEY

This has been a fortuitous turnaround for the film industry.

In 2008 it hit a low of $499 million, when the massive, state-of-the-art Pinewood facility officially opened its doors.

“That was the worst year ever. We opened right in the middle of a recession,” said Bronfman.

A high Canadian dollar, a global credit crunch, and competing jurisdictions in North America over tax credits torpedoed the aspirations of Hollywood North, and studio moguls like Bronfman were bleeding money.

“This is no different than a large hotel. If you have empty rooms you can’t gain that revenue back, and this is a very capital-intensive business,” said Bronfman.

Pinewood, situated on a 4.5-hectare site, was built on the premise that the city needed a mega soundstage, one that would attract big productions such as the one at Pinewood London, home of the Harry Potter and James Bond movies.

So they built a 46,000-square-foot soundstage, North America’s largest — large enough to fit the Greek Parthenon — and waited. But nobody came. And the Canadian dollar steadily crept upward, from a low of 62 cents U.S. in 2002 to above par at one point in 2008.

Pinewood limped along, using the giant mega stage for TV reality shows such as Battle of the Blades. But that barely paid the bills.

Critics said the facility was a white elephant and should never have been built in the first place.

The City of Toronto is a 20 per cent shareholder in Pinewood, formerly called Filmport, so taxpayers were on the hook. The other owners include Bronfman, Castlepoint Realty Partners, and ROI Capital.

THE REBOUND

The turnaround started when the provincial government helped make the city more competitive by upping tax credits in 2009 and making them permanent. And along the way, tax credits from competing areas such as New Mexico and Los Angeles dried up or were capped as the U.S. economy soured.

And so, even though the Canadian dollar lingered above par, Total Recall came along. A combination of tax credits, the availability of a mega stage, and well-trained film crews sealed the deal.

“It’s something of a vindication. We wouldn’t have had that movie here if Pinewood wasn’t built. This is entirely new money that is going into the city,” said Finestone.

Neil Clarence, a media and entertainment consultant with Ernst & Young based in Vancouver, says the mega stage was important in attracting studios to come to Ontario, but tax credits were key.

“The single biggest factor for a studio is cost,” said Clarence. Calls from Hollywood clients inquiring about filming in Ontario have increased, he said.

The province’s 25-per-cent tax credit on all expenses (it used to be just on labour) was an important step that is now bearing fruit at the expense of other Canadian locations such as Vancouver, which has not matched those credits, said Clarence.

“It’s taken a while to kick in, but you’re seeing the fruit of that legislation and infrastructure attract business,” he said.

More importantly, Total Recall has put Toronto on the map again, said Pinewood’s Bronfman. There are an estimated 25,000 workers in the film industry in Toronto alone who depend on attracting new productions.

“The fact that we have had such a large production here has upped the marquee value for the city. Other productions are looking here because of that.”

Dan Heffner can attest to that. The Los Angeles-based executive producer of the Saw horror movie franchise, says not a week goes by when a colleague asks what it’s like to shoot in Toronto.

“There seems to be the kind of interest that I haven’t seen before, from studios and from independent producers,” said Heffner.

As a former executive with Disney, Heffner has had a long-term relationship with the city, bringing Three Men and a Baby and Cocktail to Toronto in the 1980s. He has produced 13 movies in the last nine years, with 10 of them shot here. But with production crews busier than ever, he worries about getting good staff when he starts to shoot his romantic comedy The Prince Test this winter.

“It is a bit of a worry because everyone is so tied up, and the resources are being strained, but I guess that’s the price of success.”

THE FUTURE

Already booked for this fall is Spanish director Guillermo del Toro’s special effects-laden monster movie Pacific Rim, also known as Still Seas. The six-month shoot is rumoured to have a budget of more than $150 million.

And in October, another instalment of the sci-fi horror series Resident Evil is set to roll.

The city is also seeing a lot of television production shoots, including Flashpoint, Combat Hospital, Nikita and Covert Affairs.

Meanwhile, Bronfman says he is cash-flow positive on his studio for the first time since he’s owned it. He’s also upwardly revised his projections three times this year.

“It feels really good to say this. We’re back in business. The city is back in business.”

Total Reaction

The economic impact of Total Recall on one union: Toronto’s IATSE Local 873 has more than 2,000 members involved in various aspects of filmmaking, from carpenters to hair and makeup to art directors and sound technicians.

 • 45,000 days worked.

 • $25 million in wages to members of the union

 • During peak shooting days, the movie employed 500 to 600 workers per day

Lee Daniels Adapting ‘Valley of the Dolls’ Novel for NBC

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Sep 26, 2011) *Jacqueline Susann’s classic 1966 novel Valley of the Dolls is coming to television courtesy of Oscar-nominated “Precious” director Lee Daniels, reports Deadline.com

NBC has bought the period project, from 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment. Daniels is set to write and direct the adaptation as well as executive produce with Chernin and Katherine Pope.

Valley of the Dolls, which has sold more than 30 million copies, spans
over two decades to chronicle the lives, career highs and ultimate self-destruction of three female best friends: Anne Welles, who works at a Broadway talent agency; Neely O’Hara, a vaudeville star; and Jennifer North, a showgirl. The title of the book refers to a slang for sleeping pills that the three women eventually become dependent on.

The novel was previously adapted as a movie in 1967, as a mini-series in 1981 and as a late-night soap in 1994.

This marks the broadcast debut of Daniels, who on the cable side was previously attached to an HBO multi-generational family project written by Amy Bloom. On the feature side, Daniels’ follow-up to “Precious,” “The Paper Boy” — starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron — will be released next year.



Source: www.thestar.com
- Associated Press

(September 25, 2011)
Brad Pitt almost clawed his way to the top, but was unable to put the cat out of first place at the weekend box office.

Walt Disney's The Lion King 3-D reissue was No. 1 for the second-straight weekend with $22.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. That puts it just ahead of Pitt's baseball drama
Moneyball, a Sony Pictures release that opened at No. 2 with $20.6 million.

Debuting closely behind at No. 3 was the Warner Bros. family film Dolphin Tale with $20.3 million, which stars Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.

The 3-D reissue of 1994's The Lion King has taken in $61.7 million since opening the previous weekend to a much bigger audience than expected. That's on top of nearly $800 million worldwide the movie made in its original run and a 2002 re-release.

Twilight co-star Taylor Lautner's action tale Abduction opened at No. 4 with $11.2 million. The Lionsgate release casts Lautner as a teen hurtled into a world of espionage as he tries to uncover the mystery of his past.

Another action thriller, Open Road Films' Killer Elite, debuted at No. 5 with $9.5 million. The movie stars Jason Statham, Robert De Niro and Clive Owen as special-ops assassins caught up in a global revenge scheme.

Moneyball stars Pitt as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, who shook up the baseball world when his tight budget forced him to look for new ways to scout players. Jonah Hill co-stars as an economist who helps turn the A's into a contender using statistical methods that identify undervalued athletes.

Dolphin Tale managed a solid start despite unexpected competition for family audiences from The Lion King. Based on a true story, Dolphin Tale centres on a group of strangers who come together to save an injured dolphin.

The Lion King, Moneyball and Dolphin Tale managed a rare feat for typically quiet September, all finishing above $20 million for the weekend.

The final five of the top ten finishers were: Contagion, $8.6 million; Drive, $5.8 million; The Help, $4.4 million; Straw Dogs,” $2.1 million; and I Don't Know How She Does It, $2.05 million.

Vera Farmiga Gets High On Big Questions

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(Sep 23, 2011) PROVINCETOWN, MASS. - “Films about faith usually fall into three categories,” Vera Farmiga said. “Ones that proselytize to the community. Ones that poke fun at the community. And horror films.” She laughed, but she wasn’t kidding. She wants her new film, Higher Ground, about a complicated woman struggling with faith, to be something different. (It opened in select cities on Friday.) She developed it (for three years), directed it (her feature debut) and starred in it – while pregnant. “Tiredness like I’ve never known,” she said.

It was a still June evening, and we were sitting on a sofa drinking wine in the Massachusetts home of the director of the Provincetown Film Festival. Outside on the lawn, as one of the festival’s nightly parties swirled, organizers and attendees mingled and swatted mosquitoes. The musician Renn Hawkey, to whom Farmiga always refers as “my husband and the love of my life,” chased after their son Fynn, 2½, while toting their daughter Gytta, now 10 months. They looked like the coolest family ever, relaxed and casually hip. But, Farmiga confessed, earlier that day she’d Googled “terrible 2s” for help. “My little angels are turning into devils,” she said. “I’m struggling with how to discipline. I need to show them who’s boss.”

That’s not a problem for her at work. In films including The Departed, Up in the Air and Source Code, Farmiga, 38, acts with a self-possession that opens at key moments to reveal multiple layers beneath. She’s a master of nuance and wry humour. In person, her ice-blue, thousand-mile eyes are as bewitching as on screen, but she’s warmer, more confiding. She speaks softly (that’s why she hasn’t done more theatre – “Projecting and being ‘bigger’ are difficult for me,” she said), and moves so quickly from one interesting subject to another that I kept forgetting my follow-up questions. But she also pauses frequently in mid-sentence to select just the right word. So when she says things like, “I wanted to approach this subject with [pause] innocence. As a voyeur and not a [pause] judge,” you find yourself leaning forward, eager to hear.

Higher Ground was co-written by Carolyn Briggs, based on her memoir This Dark World. It follows Corinne, first as a young girl discovering her Christian faith (played by Farmiga’s look-alike sister Taissa, who is 21 years younger), and later as a woman confronting the limits of it (played by Farmiga herself). Yet it’s the opposite of holier than thou – it’s startlingly frank about everything from marriage and sex to female friendship and sorrow.

Farmiga knows the terrain: She grew up in a devout Ukrainian Catholic family in New Jersey. “My father, mmm, I’ve always marvelled at the way he’s constantly feeling the breath of God on his face,” she said. “It will be a lifelong struggle for me to understand it. The film is about those times when we have to remove ourselves from our belief system – whatever that is – and reinvestigate it, relearn. Those times that feel really confusing, but you can be sure you’re going to learn a hell of a lot about yourself because it’s so uncomfortable.”

Briggs had never written a screenplay before, but Farmiga bought her the software program Final Draft and a few how-to books, and together they hammered away. “As with most projects that I’m drawn to, I felt a desperate need to decipher this,” Farmiga said. “Corinne’s yearning, her striving. It’s a victory to me that I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘I’m agnostic, but I have so much empathy for where she is.’ ” She grinned conspiratorially. “And I wanted to see if I could get away with penis jokes in a film about faith. To establish religious people as having genitals – to humanize them – was fun.”

Financing came through after Farmiga’s Oscar nomination for Up in the Air – she realized she was pregnant when she fainted during a meeting with the financiers – but none of the directors she wanted was willing or able to fit the window she had. So she made it a family project: Her husband produced, she directed, son Fynn played Corinne’s baby, and sister Taissa made her acting debut at age 15. “There’s a transparency in Taissa’s visage that’s always compelled me,” Farmiga said. “I feel like I can look at her and every thought is crystal clear.” To win their mother’s approval, Farmiga doctored the script she showed her, paring down a scene where Corinne loses her virginity to mere “G-rated kissing.”

On her own takes, Farmiga kept the cameras rolling so she could roam back and forth within a scene, trying different line readings without starting over. But she forced herself to be vigilant – in a scene where she had to react to shattering news, for example, “there was a well-timed tear” that the actor in her liked, but the director in her “knew it was too obvious a way to go.”

It’s not that Hollywood doesn’t get her – they do, Farmiga said. “So far, there’s never been a lag for work. I always get very interesting projects.” But many of them require that she “work hard to flesh them out.” The roles in her last two studio films, Source Code and the upcoming Safe House (opposite Denzel Washington) were written for men, “and it was a great challenge to me to feminize them, bring them to life and dimensionalize them. That’s oftentimes what I get paid to do, I feel.” To get a character as rich as Corinne, she continued, “I had to give myself that opportunity. Time and time again, I get asked about roles for women. It’s time to stop whining and do what women in the Thirties did, create their own opportunities.”

Between films, Farmiga retreats to her home, a farm in upstate New York, where she’s rarely recognized. She recharges by meditating, listening to music, and tending her small herd of Nubian and Angora goats. She shears them, spins the wool and knits sweaters from it. “My husband bought me a spinning wheel I used to bring on sets, back when the goats were my children,” she said. “I also need to work the soil. I’m obsessed with gardening, and with all the gardens here” in Provincetown. She’s been going around town with a tape measure, because she wants to see how big a mature salvia gets. “I’ve transplanted mine so many times, because I’m impatient,” she said. “I want everything to be lush, an Edith Wharton novel immediately.”

She sums up her style of living – and acting – with a quote from Annie Dillard’s book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: “I am a tissue of senses.”

“I believe I’m on a guided tour of the universe,” she said. “It will take a long time for me to understand what that means. I can weep in a church, a mosque, a synagogue. I love congregations – including the congregation in a movie theatre.” She finished her wine and sat back. “I’ve learned to love asking questions,” she said. “I’m on the search.”

Vera Farmiga Gets High On Big Questions

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(Sep 23, 2011) PROVINCETOWN, MASS. - “Films about faith usually fall into three categories,” Vera Farmiga said. “Ones that proselytize to the community. Ones that poke fun at the community. And horror films.” She laughed, but she wasn’t kidding. She wants her new film, Higher Ground, about a complicated woman struggling with faith, to be something different. (It opened in select cities on Friday.) She developed it (for three years), directed it (her feature debut) and starred in it – while pregnant. “Tiredness like I’ve never known,” she said.

It was a still June evening, and we were sitting on a sofa drinking wine in the Massachusetts home of the director of the Provincetown Film Festival. Outside on the lawn, as one of the festival’s nightly parties swirled, organizers and attendees mingled and swatted mosquitoes. The musician Renn Hawkey, to whom Farmiga always refers as “my husband and the love of my life,” chased after their son Fynn, 2½, while toting their daughter Gytta, now 10 months. They looked like the coolest family ever, relaxed and casually hip. But, Farmiga confessed, earlier that day she’d Googled “terrible 2s” for help. “My little angels are turning into devils,” she said. “I’m struggling with how to discipline. I need to show them who’s boss.”

That’s not a problem for her at work. In films including The Departed, Up in the Air and Source Code, Farmiga, 38, acts with a self-possession that opens at key moments to reveal multiple layers beneath. She’s a master of nuance and wry humour. In person, her ice-blue, thousand-mile eyes are as bewitching as on screen, but she’s warmer, more confiding. She speaks softly (that’s why she hasn’t done more theatre – “Projecting and being ‘bigger’ are difficult for me,” she said), and moves so quickly from one interesting subject to another that I kept forgetting my follow-up questions. But she also pauses frequently in mid-sentence to select just the right word. So when she says things like, “I wanted to approach this subject with [pause] innocence. As a voyeur and not a [pause] judge,” you find yourself leaning forward, eager to hear.

Higher Ground was co-written by Carolyn Briggs, based on her memoir This Dark World. It follows Corinne, first as a young girl discovering her Christian faith (played by Farmiga’s look-alike sister Taissa, who is 21 years younger), and later as a woman confronting the limits of it (played by Farmiga herself). Yet it’s the opposite of holier than thou – it’s startlingly frank about everything from marriage and sex to female friendship and sorrow.

Farmiga knows the terrain: She grew up in a devout Ukrainian Catholic family in New Jersey. “My father, mmm, I’ve always marvelled at the way he’s constantly feeling the breath of God on his face,” she said. “It will be a lifelong struggle for me to understand it. The film is about those times when we have to remove ourselves from our belief system – whatever that is – and reinvestigate it, relearn. Those times that feel really confusing, but you can be sure you’re going to learn a hell of a lot about yourself because it’s so uncomfortable.”

Briggs had never written a screenplay before, but Farmiga bought her the software program Final Draft and a few how-to books, and together they hammered away. “As with most projects that I’m drawn to, I felt a desperate need to decipher this,” Farmiga said. “Corinne’s yearning, her striving. It’s a victory to me that I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘I’m agnostic, but I have so much empathy for where she is.’ ” She grinned conspiratorially. “And I wanted to see if I could get away with penis jokes in a film about faith. To establish religious people as having genitals – to humanize them – was fun.”

Financing came through after Farmiga’s Oscar nomination for Up in the Air – she realized she was pregnant when she fainted during a meeting with the financiers – but none of the directors she wanted was willing or able to fit the window she had. So she made it a family project: Her husband produced, she directed, son Fynn played Corinne’s baby, and sister Taissa made her acting debut at age 15. “There’s a transparency in Taissa’s visage that’s always compelled me,” Farmiga said. “I feel like I can look at her and every thought is crystal clear.” To win their mother’s approval, Farmiga doctored the script she showed her, paring down a scene where Corinne loses her virginity to mere “G-rated kissing.”

On her own takes, Farmiga kept the cameras rolling so she could roam back and forth within a scene, trying different line readings without starting over. But she forced herself to be vigilant – in a scene where she had to react to shattering news, for example, “there was a well-timed tear” that the actor in her liked, but the director in her “knew it was too obvious a way to go.”

It’s not that Hollywood doesn’t get her – they do, Farmiga said. “So far, there’s never been a lag for work. I always get very interesting projects.” But many of them require that she “work hard to flesh them out.” The roles in her last two studio films, Source Code and the upcoming Safe House (opposite Denzel Washington) were written for men, “and it was a great challenge to me to feminize them, bring them to life and dimensionalize them. That’s oftentimes what I get paid to do, I feel.” To get a character as rich as Corinne, she continued, “I had to give myself that opportunity. Time and time again, I get asked about roles for women. It’s time to stop whining and do what women in the Thirties did, create their own opportunities.”

Between films, Farmiga retreats to her home, a farm in upstate New York, where she’s rarely recognized. She recharges by meditating, listening to music, and tending her small herd of Nubian and Angora goats. She shears them, spins the wool and knits sweaters from it. “My husband bought me a spinning wheel I used to bring on sets, back when the goats were my children,” she said. “I also need to work the soil. I’m obsessed with gardening, and with all the gardens here” in Provincetown. She’s been going around town with a tape measure, because she wants to see how big a mature salvia gets. “I’ve transplanted mine so many times, because I’m impatient,” she said. “I want everything to be lush, an Edith Wharton novel immediately.”

She sums up her style of living – and acting – with a quote from Annie Dillard’s book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: “I am a tissue of senses.”

“I believe I’m on a guided tour of the universe,” she said. “It will take a long time for me to understand what that means. I can weep in a church, a mosque, a synagogue. I love congregations – including the congregation in a movie theatre.” She finished her wine and sat back. “I’ve learned to love asking questions,” she said. “I’m on the search.”

With Breakaway, Rob Lowe Continues His Search For The Canadian Identity

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle MacDonald

(September 28, 2011) There is something about hockey that keeps drawing California-based Rob Lowe back here to freeze in arenas that smell of stale popcorn and sweat.

Seated in the back of a black SUV, parked on a leafy street in Toronto's High Park last fall, the 47-year-old actor (who looks a decade younger than his years) explains it's his second time in 25 years that he's travelled to Toronto to make a movie dedicated to hockey, a sport he calls "the religion of Canada."

"I'm a surfer, first, and I can skate half-decently," says Lowe, who first made the feel-good sports movie Youngblood in 1986 and has returned to film 2011's
Breakaway, a Bollywood-infused drama/comedy that debuted earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"But I love hockey. It's what brings people together and it's how Canadians, in particular, find their common bond. In this movie, hockey is the metaphor - and it really could be any sport - for how a young team of second-generation Sikh-Canadians try to find their Canadian identity. The theme of assimilation is what attracted me to this role."

Lowe squeezed the filming of Breakaway into a schedule that was already jam-packed with his TV day jobs, as a regular on Amy Poehler's Parks and Recreation, and the raunchy drama Californication.

"I've never seen a movie like this, ever. We live in a world where movies are more derivative each year, and this is a film that just wants to make you feel good. Period."

In Youngblood, which Lowe made when he was in his early 20s, he played the hotshot player who joined the Hamilton Mustangs and soon got the wake-up call that, to survive in the minor leagues, he had to learn (from his team mentor, played by Patrick Swayze) that he'd better know how to fight.

Now Lowe has grown up - and, fittingly, so has his hockey role in Breakaway. Sporting a frayed Mustangs T-shirt ("This is my little nod to my first film for those who care"), Lowe says he jumped at the chance to play Dan Winters, a once-promising NHL prospect whose raging ego cost him his professional sports career. When audiences meet the cynical, down-on-his-luck Winters in Breakaway, he's managing a local arena in the suburbs, where a fledgling team of really bad Sikh-Canadian hockey players are trying to be taken seriously.

Winters takes on the daunting position of coach of the Speedy Singhs (yes, everyone on the team has the last name Singh), who are determined to try to wrest the championship from the reigning local franchise, the Hammerheads, who don't think Speedy Singhs belong in their beloved game.

"I wanted a crack at the iconic coach part, where he gets to rally the troops," says Lowe, who wrote the team-rousing speech that he delivers just before the fate-changing championship game. "I'm really proud of that part of the film."

Breakaway is a first-time script by newcomer actor Vinay Virmani, who also stars in the film, alongside love interest Camilla Belle, Brampton-born comedian Russell Peters, as well as cameos from Toronto's hip-hop artist Drake and Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar. The film is a weird mix of drama, comedy and a love story - with a breakout musical number on skates, as well as a wedding (where Peters shows up at the temple on an elephant) and specially designed hockey helmets to accommodate the traditional Sikh turban.

During the Toronto International Film Festival, Peters says Virmani told him that his inspiration for the Breakaway script came after watching the stand-up comic perform and crack a joke about an all-Indian hockey team - the Toronto Maple Sikhs - where "Singh passes to Singh, and Singh shoots on Singh," laughs Peters, who plays a self-important businessman who has nothing but disdain for the national game.

At first he turned down the part, Peters admits. "I just don't like any team sports," says the comic, who is being offered more and more film parts, including Garry Marshall's upcoming ensemble comedy New Year's Eve, with a cast including Halle Berry, Jessica Biel and Ashton Kutcher.

But in the end he capitulated. "This movie is really just about following your dreams. My family was pretty well assimilated into the community when I was growing up in Brampton," he says. "But I could still relate to the film's themes of assimilation and trying to fit in. We had to try hard to make people realize that we were, in fact, assimilated. That was a harder sell."

Lowe, too, says he knew he was taking something of a risk by signing on to a film with a first-time writer. But Breakaway, directed by Robert Lieberman (D3: The Mighty Ducks) was a movie with heart, he says. And that was the kicker that had him flying red-eyes from the sets of Parks and Rec and Californication to show up in Toronto, shoot for a day, and then fly back to Los Angeles to begin filming the TV shows the next morning.

"I thought it would be fun to bookend my hockey oeuvre," he adds, chuckling.

Breakaway opens in theatres on Friday, Sept. 30.

::TV NEWS::     

Russ Courtnall Replaces Belak On ‘Blades’

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Paul Irish

(Sep 23, 2011) Former Toronto Maple Leaf
Russ Courtnall has stepped forward and will replace the late Wade Belak as a skater on CBC’s Battle of the Blades.

He’ll pair with American ice dancer Kim Navarro when the first two live performances air this Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m.

“I didn’t know Wade personally, but I was saddened like everyone else when I heard the news,” Courtnall said at a preview featuring all the skaters at Toronto’s MasterCard Centre. “I’m going to do my best … I’ll be skating for him and his family.”

Belak, who also played for the Leafs, was found dead Aug. 31 in a Toronto hotel room.

Although family and friends believe his death may have been accidental, police sources have told the Star that it had been ruled a suicide.

He had already been practicing for the reality TV show and those close to him said he was excited about the competition.

Canadian skater Kurt Browning, host of the show, said this year’s competition will be dedicated to Belak and that he will be remembered by everyone involved in the production.

“He will be with us every second … he will be in our hearts with every step of our skates,” Browning said at the arena.

Navarro, also a U.S. World Team member, said she was “deeply upset” about the death of Belak, but is proud to keep skating and is determined to do her best.

“It feels as right as it can be,” she said. “I’ll be there.”

Winners of the competition can donate $100,000 to their favourite charity. Belak had designated the Tourette’s Syndrome Neurodevelopmental Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital to receive the award if he won.

Courtnall, who played six seasons with the Leafs, appeared in last year’s competition and says he’s looking forward to hitting the ice again.

Bill Maher On The Couch

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Sep 25, 2011) Bill Maher is a prick to the bubbles of the religious and the ardent right wing, those fact-fearing types who seal themselves off in their vacuums of delusion. The political satirist got right to it at Massey Hall, where he walked on stage to the important-sounding theme music of his weekly HBO panel show Real Time With Bill Maher. He proceeded to get real, as seemingly only he can. Dispensing with the toadying "what's the deal with Toronto cab drivers" business that a visiting comedian might employ, the left-leaning American atheist took swiftly to the pulpit, whacking GOPers as if they were so many carnival moles. "The Republican Party has no bottom," he said, quickly into a rant, listing off what he saw as the devolving trend of right-wing high-office holders in Reagan, Quayle, Bush and, "with [breasts]," Sarah Palin. As for a certain Jesus-loving, White House-bidding Texas governor: "Rick Perry will not be out-hillbillied."

Maher characterized Perry as wilful and "proudly ignorant." Why, compared to him, George W. Bush was a "professor." Where Bush was Yale-educated, Perry, we learned, had received a C in gym class. How does that happen, Maher wondered, unless you wear your underwear outside of your shorts.

Then onto presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, a "department store mannequin" who wanted the Oval Office's red phone and desk in the worst way. Sizing up the field, Maher described the Republican leadership race as a battle for the party's soul, and by soul he meant "the space where a soul should be."

And like that. Had he sleeves - dressed in a T-shirt and blue jeans, he did not - they would have been rolled up before he took his first sip of water. (From a plastic bottle, not environmentally sound, mister.) But yeah, he was just getting started.

Maher is a topical guy, and, as such, he's quoted often. His exasperation about continually being asked if Palin would run for president in 2012 - "what am I, the idiot whisperer?" - we've seen before, on the television. Same with the bit on President Obama, who should, says Maher, accept the fact that because of his race and perceived socialist leanings, he simply won't be approved of by a certain "redneck" demographic. So, instead of acquiescing, Obama should give his enemies what they really feared: an angry black man, starting by growing out an afro.

Maher wanted to make clear that he is ashamed of America and its misguided arrogance, but that he loves his country and wants to see it do better. He likened his appearances in Canada to visits to a psychiatrist's couch.

Naturally he brought up, more than once, Canada's niceness. Some 15 minutes into the show, a woman in the gallery shouted for someone to turn up the sound. Maher was amazed that someone who couldn't hear what they paid for would politely wait that long before mentioning it.

His off-colour moments were hilarious. Can't see them on Leno or read about them here. He railed against the fantasy of religious faith - the Bible's Old Testament being the "book of Jewish fairy tales."

Tea-Partiers faired poorly, as you would imagine.

Recently on Real Time, Maher and guest Keith Olbermann did a bit where they shouted at a white male average Republican voter who was sealed within a giant see-through bubble - a bias-sphere, if you will. They yelled facts, but Bob, a "systems analyst from Irvine, California," sat docilely, disconnected from what Maher and many others see as reality.

That's what he does, tries to get cut through illusory political rhetoric and delusional thinking. His commentary is heavily U.S.-based, but it flies in Canada. The world has gone global, and with no safe harbours. We're all in it, hate to burst your bubble.

Bill Maher On The Couch

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Sep 25, 2011) Bill Maher is a prick to the bubbles of the religious and the ardent right wing, those fact-fearing types who seal themselves off in their vacuums of delusion. The political satirist got right to it at Massey Hall, where he walked on stage to the important-sounding theme music of his weekly HBO panel show Real Time With Bill Maher. He proceeded to get real, as seemingly only he can. Dispensing with the toadying "what's the deal with Toronto cab drivers" business that a visiting comedian might employ, the left-leaning American atheist took swiftly to the pulpit, whacking GOPers as if they were so many carnival moles. "The Republican Party has no bottom," he said, quickly into a rant, listing off what he saw as the devolving trend of right-wing high-office holders in Reagan, Quayle, Bush and, "with [breasts]," Sarah Palin. As for a certain Jesus-loving, White House-bidding Texas governor: "Rick Perry will not be out-hillbillied."

Maher characterized Perry as wilful and "proudly ignorant." Why, compared to him, George W. Bush was a "professor." Where Bush was Yale-educated, Perry, we learned, had received a C in gym class. How does that happen, Maher wondered, unless you wear your underwear outside of your shorts.

Then onto presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, a "department store mannequin" who wanted the Oval Office's red phone and desk in the worst way. Sizing up the field, Maher described the Republican leadership race as a battle for the party's soul, and by soul he meant "the space where a soul should be."

And like that. Had he sleeves - dressed in a T-shirt and blue jeans, he did not - they would have been rolled up before he took his first sip of water. (From a plastic bottle, not environmentally sound, mister.) But yeah, he was just getting started.

Maher is a topical guy, and, as such, he's quoted often. His exasperation about continually being asked if Palin would run for president in 2012 - "what am I, the idiot whisperer?" - we've seen before, on the television. Same with the bit on President Obama, who should, says Maher, accept the fact that because of his race and perceived socialist leanings, he simply won't be approved of by a certain "redneck" demographic. So, instead of acquiescing, Obama should give his enemies what they really feared: an angry black man, starting by growing out an afro.

Maher wanted to make clear that he is ashamed of America and its misguided arrogance, but that he loves his country and wants to see it do better. He likened his appearances in Canada to visits to a psychiatrist's couch.

Naturally he brought up, more than once, Canada's niceness. Some 15 minutes into the show, a woman in the gallery shouted for someone to turn up the sound. Maher was amazed that someone who couldn't hear what they paid for would politely wait that long before mentioning it.

His off-colour moments were hilarious. Can't see them on Leno or read about them here. He railed against the fantasy of religious faith - the Bible's Old Testament being the "book of Jewish fairy tales."

Tea-Partiers faired poorly, as you would imagine.

Recently on Real Time, Maher and guest Keith Olbermann did a bit where they shouted at a white male average Republican voter who was sealed within a giant see-through bubble - a bias-sphere, if you will. They yelled facts, but Bob, a "systems analyst from Irvine, California," sat docilely, disconnected from what Maher and many others see as reality.

That's what he does, tries to get cut through illusory political rhetoric and delusional thinking. His commentary is heavily U.S.-based, but it flies in Canada. The world has gone global, and with no safe harbours. We're all in it, hate to burst your bubble.

Terry Fator: From School Gyms To Vegas

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Sep 26, 2011) America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator has one piece of advice for the Canada’s Got Talent hopefuls lining up at the Rogers Centre this week: Never save your best for last.

“Do not save the best for last because there may not be a last. This may be your only shot,” said Fator, who visited the Star last month while promoting his Las Vegas show in Canada.

In fact, Fator followed his own advice so faithfully when he auditioned for AGT’s second season that producers suspected he was a fraud.

Fator, 46, is a ventriloquist, but his claim to fame is that he mimics the voices of famous singers through his puppets.

At his first Got Talent audition, he sang Etta James’s “At Last.”

“One of the producers said, ‘That’s impossible, you weren’t doing that. We know there was a tape recorder’ . . . They said, ‘Bring the puppet over here and stand right in front of us,’ so I got literally a foot away from them and I just did ‘At Last’ and . . . their jaws dropped.”

Fator went on to blow away judges and TV viewers alike, winning the contest on Aug. 21, 2007.

He was a struggling Dallas performer, who learned ventriloquism from a book in his grade school library and saw entertaining as an escape from cleaning toilets for his parents’ janitorial company. He had been playing schools and county fairs for 20 years when he got his break on the show.

“I spent most of my time in motel rooms hoping that one day my dream would happen and I would get my own show in Las Vegas,” Fator recalled.

“There were many times I was ready to quit. I did one show maybe three months before the first episode of America’s Got Talent aired with me on it and there was one person in the audience. And it was so frustrating and I thought, ‘What am I doing? Why am I doing this? . . . It’s never gonna happen.’”

Now, Fator headlines a show at The Mirage in Vegas five nights a week, which he says is always packed with Canadian fans.

“And it all happened because of America’s Got Talent, without a doubt, so it’s exciting that Canada’s getting Canada’s Got Talent,” he said.

“That’s the beauty of these Got Talent shows . . . there are so many people that have never had an opportunity to show what they can do to the nation and it’s just wonderful.

“It will change your life and your career whether you win it or not because now, suddenly, you have people who will know you because they saw you on TV.”

For Landon Liboiron, It’s About Time

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Rob Salem

(Sep 22, 2011) It’s a long way from the halls of Degrassi High to the
wilds of Australia. And a long, long time to Terra Nova, to the tune of 85 million years.

No wonder then that Alberta farm boy
Landon Liboiron had some trepidation about taking the trip.

The audition for the new sci-fi series was a breeze, he says. “I got to do tapings from Vancouver, where I live now, so the audition process wasn’t very nerve-wracking because I was able to do it with my friends at home. I booked it off the tape.

“But as soon as I was flying over to actually do it, I started getting the jitters in my legs and I started to question, ‘Am I really able to do this?’ It’s like falling out of a plane and you’ve got all that time in the world to think about how you’re about to die.

“But then I landed and we started working on it and . . . it’s as amazing as it looks. It really feels incredible to be a part of such a new and fascinating world, and be surrounded by these people that I get to work with, who are very talented and just very down to earth.

“I go to work every day, really wanting to go to work, so I feel very fortunate that way.”

What’s not to love? Liboiron is living out every kid’s dream, cavorting around the primeval wilderness dodging dinosaurs and playing with high-tech toys.

Some of which must, out of necessity, rely on his actor’s imagination. “It’s really just another part of the art form,” he says, “being able to create a world that really isn’t there, or to taste something that I’ve never tasted before. . . . It’s really just a new part of the craft that I was able to indulge myself in.

“And there are a lot of cool, futuristic elements to it, and some really cool weapons, just special things like that that make it unique.”

Even without the genre trappings, it’s a major, meaty role (even more so in the revamped version).

“Josh Shannon is the quintessential boy dreaming of independence,” Liboiron explains. “He is the only one (in the family) not excited about going back to Terra Nova, because he has this beautiful girlfriend in the future that he does not want to leave. But it was either give up his girlfriend or give up his family.

“And then he is opened up to this crazy, vast new world, you know, that he really didn’t think was possible. And it really becomes the story of a boy turning into man and having to deal with larger responsibilities greater than he ever imagined.”

The Good Wife: Third Time’s The Sharma

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Rob Salem

(Sept. 25, 2011) When it comes to
The Good Wife, there is no middle ground. If you watch the show, you are a rabid fan. Period.

And if you don’t watch the show, stop reading right now and head straight to the video store for the first two seasons on DVD — the second has just been released — or download or stream or demand on-demand or whatever happens to be your preferred mode of viewing. Then sit down and watch them. We’ll still be here when you’re done.

Okay, so now we’re all fans. And, once you are a Good Wife fan, it is a foregone conclusion that you have a mad crush on Emmy-winner (last year)
Archie Panjabi as the exotically enigmatic investigator, Kalinda Sharma.

That’s anyone, male and female — Sharma’s blithe bisexuality and stoic air of mystery equally intrigues and endears her to all.

“It’s really quite amazing,” Panjabi says. “Especially when people come up to you in the street, or in public. And I kind of like that she’s done that. The fact that she is bi doesn’t seem to be an issue, even for people who are quite conservative. That was unexpected. I like that men and women, straight, bi, ethnic minorities, everyone seems to connect with her.”

And everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what happens to her this season. Including Panjabi. “We never know as actors where they’re going to take the characters,” she reveals. “The scripts are very much works in progress, all down the line. It’s very organic. I think that’s where the magic comes from. It’s really quite exciting.”

For example, last season’s jaw-dropping revelation that she had slept with her best friend’s husband. “I knew quite late, actually, towards the middle of Season Two. I was shocked when they told me.

“I know the next season is one I’m quite heavy in ... ”

Be warned, there are some spoilers here. Though nothing too drastic — there’s only so much Panjabi can reveal, since it hasn’t been written yet, so even she doesn’t know.

“I think the next season really has a reboot quality to it,” she allows. “Things are obviously very cold between her and Alicia, and she feels she’s done everything she can there. So I think Kalinda is looking for new friendships. She strikes a great new friendship with Eli Gold. There’s the question of what happens between her and Eric. And she is great friends with Will, who is going to get into a spot of bother, and I think she will support him and help him out.”

As for Kalinda’s back-story, Panjabi has her own ideas, but all we really know for certain is that she went to great lengths to reinvent herself, having escaped some sort of major trauma ... in Toronto.

“I kind of created my own back-story when we were shooting the pilot,” she says, “just so I had an idea of how to play her. I see her as somebody who’s had to survive, who had a very tough upbringing, and that kind of makes her the way that she is. But what the details are ... I’m sure they will be told as time goes on.

“And I really do hope we get to explore that connection with Toronto.”

DON’T GET “MAD,” GET EVEN It’s all about the ’60s this season, with two largely distaff variations on Mad Men: The Playboy Club, which debuted Monday night, and Pan Am, which takes off Sunday.

Predictable, really, given Mad Men’s four consecutive Emmy wins, one for every season it’s been on.

I can tell you right now, Playboy Club won’t last, but Pan Am has a good shot, if only for the guiding hand of master craftsman Tommy Schlamme, the Ally McBeal/West Wing co-producer/director who perfected the now ubiquitous “walk and talk.”

He understands the Mad Men association, but adamantly rejects any inferred imitation.

“Television is just execution,” he insists. “It’s not the time period it takes place in. It’s not the character. It really is just execution.

“So all I can really say, it has nothing to do with Mad Men. It just has to do with, we hope, that our show is executed in a wonderful way that will have sort of a wish fulfilment that will attract a large audience. It’s as simple as that.

“I think we are all fans of Mad Men, but literally, one had almost nothing to do with the other, as shows I’ve done in the past didn’t have necessarily anything to do with another show that might have been successful.

“So it happens to be they are both set in the ’60s. I hope there’s lots of shows. It is a great time period. I hope there’s starting to be shows set in the 1970s, and the 1880s, and wherever else we can tell great stories.”

OFFICE GOSSIP We learned this week that Office regular Ed Helms has taken over for Steve Carell, a natural transition given their shared history as former Daily Show correspondents and rising comedy film stars, Carell starting with 40-Year-old Virgin, Helms from the two Hangover flicks.

Did America agree? Sort of. Thursday’s season premiere was down 9 per cent from last year’s, at 7.63 million, and well below Carell’s farewell appearance last April, at 8.3 million. Corresponding Canadian ratings were not available at press time.

But sadly, this was nothing compared to the season debut of Two and a Half Men, introducing Ashton Kutcher, at an unheard-of and entirely undeserved 27.7 million, and an equally astounding 4.9 in Canada.

Men can and will only go down — I’m guessing more like plummet, but then I never understood its appeal in the first place. The Office, on the other hand, should benefit greatly from this breath of fresh air, particularly with the existing addition of James Spader.

TV TIDBITS

The New Boss Of ‘The Office’ Is Revealed

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Paul Irish

(Sep 23, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—NBC and Dunder Mifflin have
announced the new manager of the Scranton office of the make-believe paper company portrayed in The Office. It’s dim-witted salesman Andy Bernard, played by cast member Ed Helms. The reveal was made on Thursday’s season premiere of the NBC comedy, completing a transition process that began with last season’s departure by long-time series star Steve Carell. In July, NBC announced it had signed James Spader as a full-time cast member. He reprises his guest role as manipulative Robert California, who over the summer was hired as the office’s new regional manager. But quickly on the eighth-season premiere, he wangled a promotion to CEO of Sabre, the parent corporation of Dunder Mifflin. This left the manager’s position vacant again. Andy Bernard was California’s surprise choice.

Video: Amazing ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ Dance Conquers The Net

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Sep 26, 2011) It sounds simple enough: a man dances to the pop song of the year. This, however, is no ordinary dance. The routine, by Marquese Scott, who has appeared on So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Got Talent, has been viewed more than 900,000 times in the first three days. The music is a bottom-heavy “dubstep” remix of the enduring single Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. Click below and prepare to be amazed.

   

Idina Menzel On The New Season Of Glee

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Sep 27, 2011)
Idina Menzel says that her character of Shelby Corcoran on Glee “is going to stir up a lot of stuff for a lot of characters” when she makes her first appearance of the season on Tuesday night. In an exclusive interview with the Star, which will run in its complete version in Saturday’s paper, Menzel talked about her character, who’s both the coach of rival team Vocal Adrenaline and the birth mother of Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) on the Fox TV show about a high school glee club. “My character’s going to have more depth. Not just a hard-nosed, sterile bitch coming to town. I’m going to help other people confront the issues in their own lives as well as strengthening my relationship with Rachel.” On that last point, The Hollywood Reporter posted a clip from the Tuesday episode of Menzel and Michele sharing a soaring duet on “Somewhere” from West Side Story.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Private Lives Is Sexy, Stylish And Smart

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian


Private Lives
By Noel Coward. Directed by Richard Eyre. Until Oct. 30 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W. 416-872-1212.

(Sept. 25, 2011) Do you believe in reincarnation? I certainly do after
seeing the smashing revival of Private Lives that opened on Sunday afternoon at the Royal Alex.

It may have said in my program that
Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross were playing the leading roles in Noel Coward’s classic comedy, but you can’t fool me.

That was Carole Lombard and Cary Grant up there on that stage, or it sure seemed an awful lot like them.

What director Richard Eyre and his mega-talented cast have succeeded in doing is putting all the sensuality, speed and sass of screwball comedy back into a piece of theatre that, although admittedly a classic, is often an exercise in over-stylization for an actor and actress who couldn’t be less attracted to each other.

It’s usually called “The Coward Style” and it can be very effective, but oh, how I enjoyed The Eyre Variations.

Quick synopsis: Elyot and Amanda were married, but fought all the time and divorced. Now they’ve both remarried and show up at the same French resort on the same night to begin their respective honeymoons.

As they like to say in season ticket brochures, hilarity ensues. But there’s much more than that on Coward’s mind and in Eyre’s production.

With the full-blooded, passionate performances of Cattrall and Gross (not to mention their splendid supports, Simon Paisley-Day and Anna Madeley), we realize that this is a play about people who can’t live together, but can’t live apart.

It’s wildly funny, but it’s also terribly serious underneath, almost as though Shakespeare had merged Beatrice and Benedick with Antony and Cleopatra.

When Cattrall wonders what we’re all like “deep down in our private lives” she strikes a truly resonant chord and much of the play’s seemingly flippant banter about life, death and the hereafter acquires real substance in the hands of these masterful players.

Cattrall is a sleek panther of a performer, prowling around Rob Howell’s perfect period Parisian apartment and sending off sparks of eroticism and sarcasm with alternating velocity. She’s also not afraid to cavort broadly in a deftly choreographed fight scene, but knows when lifting one eyebrow does it all.

Gross is an even greater revelation. He gets so totally inside the skin of Elyot, the bon vivant and freewheeling hedonist, that you’d think he’s been playing his whole life in high comedy roles, instead of coming to them for the first time.

He can spit out Cowardisms like “Don’t quibble, Sybil,” or “Some women should be struck regularly, like gongs” with a natural flair, but that patented charm of his, coupled with just the slightest hit of androgyny, make us view this man in a whole new light.

Both Cattrall and Gross have star quality to spare and it’s delicious to see them dispensing it with such panache.

Paisley-Day and Madeley are also gems, he with his consummate stuffiness and her with a squeal that still manages to be appealing.

But it’s the whole package that makes this such a winning entertainment. It’s not just funny: it’s sexy and stylish and smart as well.

Coward couldn’t have asked for more.

Hide Your Stars, Kathy Griffin’s In Town

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Vinay Menon

(Sep 23, 2011)
Kathy Griffin has some advice for Stephen Harper.

“What Canadians find the most amusing about Stephen Harper are not necessarily his political views but the fact that he’s so boring,” says the acid-tongued queen of putdowns. “So I’m thinking sex scandal with Scarlett Johansson.”

In advance of her comedy show on Sunday at the Sony Centre, Griffin is on the line, talking at breakneck speed about whatever she wants. You don’t interview Griffin so much as listen as her fertile, vaguely menacing mind drifts through the celebrity labyrinth, searching for egos to prick and foibles to ridicule.

In less than three minutes after she advises the prime minister to get all Berlusconi with Johansson, Griffin references Madonna, James Van Der Beek, the Kardashians, the Palins and Gwyneth Paltrow, who is currently “not happy with me.”

“I just made fun of her because I think she seems so full of herself,” explains Griffin, sounding more tickled than distressed. “I just think that she represents everything that is, as my mother would say, high and mighty.”

Paltrow’s recent search for ancestral roots in Barbados — “she thinks she’s Barbadian!” — struck Griffin as somewhat absurd. Then there are Paltrow’s luxury yacht cruises with Beyonce and Jay-Z, “which makes me fear she’s going to come out with a rap album.”

On TV and stage, this has been Griffin’s raison d’être for years: She
mocks the rich and famous. She tells explosive tales in which jokes shoot out of her mouth like shrapnel. Her material is topical, culled from the tabloid underbelly of American pop culture, her own life and the 24-hour news cycle to which she is a voluntary prisoner.

“I’m consuming a ridiculous amount of news,” she says. “I call it the Team Griffin Research and Development Department, which is myself and maybe my 91-year-old alcoholic mother.”

When not consuming news, Griffin is taping specials, recording albums, acting, writing and providing snarky commentary as an entertainment pundit. But as she’s gained prominence over the past 15 years — hanging out with celebrity pals, earning truckloads of cash, winning awards for her now-defunct reality show, My Life on the D-List — the line between observer and participant has blurred.

Sometimes she’s invited to an event as a participant. Other times, she’s an observer, which more often than not generates fear and loathing from the actual participants.

“It’s a dangerous line,” Griffin concedes. “The problem is I don’t know until I’m in that moment. So it’s not like I can ever really be prepared. So I am kind of always on guard and ready to tell a joke at the same time.”

But all of this raises a bigger question: Is Kathy Griffin too rich and famous now to lay any credible claim to D-List status? Has she not, on some practical level, become that which she loves to hate?

“Well, I am too famous,” she says, without a pause. “Last night, one of my specials premiered on Bravo and I went to Cher’s house and watched it with Cher. Come on. But I am also a lot of A-Listers’ most embarrassing friend.

“Being an outsider is just how I am hardwired, it’s who I am. I actually don’t ever fear that I’ll be too much of an insider. No matter how inside I am, believe me, trust me, I am an outsider.”

Does she have any regrets about the insults she’s hurled?

“I cringe when I watch myself all the time,” she says. “I cringe when I watch episodes of My Life on the D-List. I cringe when I watch my specials. That’s the problem. I have like this kind of Tourette Syndrome and I cannot seem to stop myself from saying something that I think might be funny. And often I realize that I’ve gone too far. But I do have a very firm no-apology policy, which I’m sticking to.”

When you refuse to say sorry, and you live among the wounded, you’re bound to have a few bumpy run-ins. So what’s the most awkward encounter Griffin has endured?

“That’s easy,” she says. “Whitney Houston waving her cracky finger in my face, covered in sweat, saying, ‘Don’t you ever talk about me.’ ”

It happened backstage one year when Griffin was hosting the Billboard Music Awards and Houston was a performer. Naturally, Griffin tossed the anecdote into her next comedy special.

Has she ever felt physically threatened?

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she says, sarcastically, her voice suddenly booming. “You mean besides Whitney Houston waving her cracky finger in my face? That’s not enough for you? You need like an actual 50 Cent bullet wound?”

So there you have it.

If you’re heading down to the show on Sunday, the ground rules are set.

“Here’s what fans should expect,” says Griffin. “They should expect a lot of swearing, offensive material and they should leave their kids at home. The live shows are the most uncensored environment I can be in so come prepared to laugh and maybe gasp occasionally.”

If you do, just don’t expect an apology.

Hide Your Stars, Kathy Griffin’s In Town

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Vinay Menon

(Sep 23, 2011)
Kathy Griffin has some advice for Stephen Harper.

“What Canadians find the most amusing about Stephen Harper are not necessarily his political views but the fact that he’s so boring,” says the acid-tongued queen of putdowns. “So I’m thinking sex scandal with Scarlett Johansson.”

In advance of her comedy show on Sunday at the Sony Centre, Griffin is on the line, talking at breakneck speed about whatever she wants. You don’t interview Griffin so much as listen as her fertile, vaguely menacing mind drifts through the celebrity labyrinth, searching for egos to prick and foibles to ridicule.

In less than three minutes after she advises the prime minister to get all Berlusconi with Johansson, Griffin references Madonna, James Van Der Beek, the Kardashians, the Palins and Gwyneth Paltrow, who is currently “not happy with me.”

“I just made fun of her because I think she seems so full of herself,” explains Griffin, sounding more tickled than distressed. “I just think that she represents everything that is, as my mother would say, high and mighty.”

Paltrow’s recent search for ancestral roots in Barbados — “she thinks she’s Barbadian!” — struck Griffin as somewhat absurd. Then there are Paltrow’s luxury yacht cruises with Beyonce and Jay-Z, “which makes me fear she’s going to come out with a rap album.”

On TV and stage, this has been Griffin’s raison d’être for years: She mocks the rich and famous. She tells explosive tales in which jokes shoot out of her mouth like shrapnel. Her material is topical, culled from the tabloid underbelly of American pop culture, her own life and the 24-hour news cycle to which she is a voluntary prisoner.

“I’m consuming a ridiculous amount of news,” she says. “I call it the Team Griffin Research and Development Department, which is myself and maybe my 91-year-old alcoholic mother.”

When not consuming news, Griffin is taping specials, recording albums, acting, writing and providing snarky commentary as an entertainment pundit. But as she’s gained prominence over the past 15 years — hanging out with celebrity pals, earning truckloads of cash, winning awards for her now-defunct reality show, My Life on the D-List — the line between observer and participant has blurred.

Sometimes she’s invited to an event as a participant. Other times, she’s an observer, which more often than not generates fear and loathing from the actual participants.

“It’s a dangerous line,” Griffin concedes. “The problem is I don’t know until I’m in that moment. So it’s not like I can ever really be prepared. So I am kind of always on guard and ready to tell a joke at the same time.”

But all of this raises a bigger question: Is Kathy Griffin too rich and famous now to lay any credible claim to D-List status? Has she not, on some practical level, become that which she loves to hate?

“Well, I am too famous,” she says, without a pause. “Last night, one of my specials premiered on Bravo and I went to Cher’s house and watched it with Cher. Come on. But I am also a lot of A-Listers’ most embarrassing friend.

“Being an outsider is just how I am hardwired, it’s who I am. I actually don’t ever fear that I’ll be too much of an insider. No matter how inside I am, believe me, trust me, I am an outsider.”

Does she have any regrets about the insults she’s hurled?

“I cringe when I watch myself all the time,” she says. “I cringe when I watch episodes of My Life on the D-List. I cringe when I watch my specials. That’s the problem. I have like this kind of Tourette Syndrome and I cannot seem to stop myself from saying something that I think might be funny. And often I realize that I’ve gone too far. But I do have a very firm no-apology policy, which I’m sticking to.”

When you refuse to say sorry, and you live among the wounded, you’re bound to have a few bumpy run-ins. So what’s the most awkward encounter Griffin has endured?

“That’s easy,” she says. “Whitney Houston waving her cracky finger in my face, covered in sweat, saying, ‘Don’t you ever talk about me.’ ”

It happened backstage one year when Griffin was hosting the Billboard Music Awards and Houston was a performer. Naturally, Griffin tossed the anecdote into her next comedy special.

Has she ever felt physically threatened?

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she says, sarcastically, her voice suddenly booming. “You mean besides Whitney Houston waving her cracky finger in my face? That’s not enough for you? You need like an actual 50 Cent bullet wound?”

So there you have it.

If you’re heading down to the show on Sunday, the ground rules are set.

“Here’s what fans should expect,” says Griffin. “They should expect a lot of swearing, offensive material and they should leave their kids at home. The live shows are the most uncensored environment I can be in so come prepared to laugh and maybe gasp occasionally.”

If you do, just don’t expect an apology.

The Monday Q&A: Tim Rice Gets Violent

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Dave Mcginn

(Sep 25, 2011)
Tim Rice is one of the most successful lyricists in the history of musicals. He's won two Tony Awards, three Oscars, three Golden Globes and a Grammy. In advance of Chess opening in Toronto later this month, Rice spoke to The Globe and Mail over the phone from London to discuss musical titles, longevity and how to deal with critics.

Will you come to Toronto to see the production?

Yes, I think I'm coming on the 28th of September. I was actually in Stratford recently to see [Jesus Christ] Superstar.

What did you think of it? It's been getting some very good reviews.

I thought it was great. I really enjoyed it. The only bloke who wasn't bananas about it was some creep from The New York Times. I shall remember him. I think the best way to deal with critics is violence, so I look forward to meeting him.

When you watch Superstar or a production of Chess, are you ever amazed at their longevity, or did you know they would stand the test of time?

No, you never know that. I remember when we were doing the record, we thought, 'Will this ever get released?' And then when the record did very well, we thought, 'Will it ever be a show?' I guess about 10 years ago I thought, 'Well, this looks like it's going to see me out.'

Two men playing chess doesn't exactly scream ripping drama. How has it endured?

It's not really what the piece is about, and to be honest, I think the title of the show was probably not the best title. All the titles we tried, like Black and White or Checkmate, all seemed terribly corny. But in retrospect it would have been good if we called it something else. I thought of changing the title, but that doesn't work so much, because it is quite a well-known piece now. It's been done so many times and in so many places that you can't really change it. But I sometimes think it would be nice if it was called something else.

What was it about these two men that made it a story you wanted to tell?

I got intrigued by [Bobby] Fischer and [Boris] Spassky as two characters - the American guy who was obviously not a very pleasant person, and the Russian who obviously seemed to be a really nice guy. And this was kind of the wrong way around. In the west, we were meant to feel the American was the good guy.

What do you think accounts for Chess's longevity?

I think it's just the score is so good. People always say, 'Oh, the story is complex.' Well, the story is complex. It's not a musical written for idiots. It's a musical written for people who quite like following something. One of the problems with musicals and opera is you can't ever hear all the words. I have been saying it would be a great idea to have subtitles like they do in opera throughout the whole show.

Are they any numbers in particular that stand out for you?

I always think Pity the Child is a goodie. And I've always liked a song called Heaven Help My Heart, which is quite a corny number.

Former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus composed the music for Chess. How did that come about?

I heard through a theatrical producer in New York that they wanted to write a musical. I didn't know them at the time, although of course I knew of them because they were massively popular in Europe. And I already had my idea. When I heard they wanted to do this, I got in touch with them. When I first met them, ABBA was still going strong.

I also hear you're working on a musical about the life of Machiavelli?

It's slightly on the backburner, only because I'm doing something else which has suddenly come on to the front burner. I've been working on a musical for some time based on the great book From Here to Eternity by James Jones and written with a young composer named Stuart Brayson, who's not known but he's brilliant. We've got the team together and I'm hoping that will happen next year in London. I'll get back to Machiavelli after that.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Chess: The Musical runs at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre from Sept. 28 to Oct. 30.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Retailers Slash Prices On RIM's Playbook Tablet

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Omar El Akkad

(Sep 25, 2011) Research In Motion Ltd. RIM-T is heavily discounting its PlayBook tablet, joining a growing number of companies trying to compete with Apple's AAPL-Q ultra-popular iPad by slashing prices on their own mobile devices.

Retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Best Buy Co. Inc. have begun offering steep discounts on RIM's tablet computer, which has suffered from disappointing sales since its release in April. The move, part of RIM's strategy to subsidize the cost of the PlayBook, comes as other tablet-makers have discovered that fire-sale prices are the only reliable means of luring consumers away from the iPad, which accounts for about seven of every 10 tablets sold in North America.

This summer, Hewlett-Packard Co HPQ-N. killed the TouchPad, its own tablet offering, because of poor sales. To rid itself of inventory, the company cut the price of the tablet about 80 per cent, and the devices quickly sold out.

A number of new offerings from a variety of competitors, including heavyweights such as Sony, are expected to make the tablet market even more crowded in the next few months. Amazon.com Inc. and Kobo will likely launch their own tablet-like products specifically catered to electronic-book readers. Those tablets will also probably cost substantially less than the full-featured, high-end ones currently on the market.

Like HP, RIM has also struggled to sell its new tablet, and is resorting to price cuts in the hope of reviving interest. But that task will be made even more difficult by a struggling economy and a slowing North American consumer electronics sector. Even Apple has reportedly cut iPad orders from several of its vendors by about 25 per cent, though it's unclear whether that's an indication of slowing sales or part of a wider Apple strategy.

Numerous online and retail stores are putting lower-priced PlayBooks on their shelves this week. At Best Buy's Canadian website, the tablets are on sale for $100 off. (The three versions of PlayBook, which differ only in the amount of on-board memory, normally start at about $500.) In other stores, such as some American Wal-Mart locations, that discount also comes with another $100 in the form of a gift card or mail-in rebate.

"On its own, a price reduction won't suddenly light the retail fires and turn a slow seller into a sensation," said independent technology analyst Carmi Levy. "The obvious exception, of course, was HP's TouchPad, which went from black hole to a very short-lived supernova after the price was slashed to as low as $99."

In an e-mail to The Globe and Mail, RIM spokeswoman Marisa Conway said the PlayBook hasn't technically undergone a price drop.

"The official retail price of BlackBerry PlayBook has not changed. However, as mentioned on the Q2 earnings call on Sept. 15, we have a number [of] promotional plans in place for the fall with our retail partners that are intended to drive sell-through and increased adoption of the BlackBerry PlayBook," Ms. Conway said.

In a quarterly earnings call this month, RIM's co-CEOs indicated PlayBook price drops were coming, after tablet sales came in well below analyst expectations - for the last quarter, analysts predicted RIM would sell about 500,000 units, but the actual number was just 200,000.

The lower-priced units mark the first stage of RIM's efforts to revive the first piece of BlackBerry hardware to run on the QNX operating system, which the company will eventually roll out on all new BlackBerry smart phones next year. In less than a month, RIM will release a software update that lets users run e-mail, calendar and a number of other applications from within the PlayBook - currently, the tablet must be tethered to a BlackBerry to access those tools.

In addition, RIM will also launch a tool that runs applications originally built for tablets running Google's Android operating system, as a means of addressing the relative lack of high-performance applications designed specifically for the PlayBook.

"The BlackBerry PlayBook has established itself as a high-performance tablet, and we are confident that these activities, along with the upcoming software upgrade, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, will help to generate an increase in demand and sell-through of the BlackBerry PlayBook over the upcoming months," Ms. Conway said.

RIM (RIM)
Close: $22.34, up 36¢

With A Gift From Google, Canadian Activists Get On The Map

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gloria Galloway

(Sep 27, 2011) A forestry company that decided in 2005 to cut down
400 hectares of redwood forest had no idea that its toughest opposition would come from inside one of the world's Internet giants.

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., was a 30-minute drive from the proposed logging site, and the company had just hired a young computer scientist named Rebecca Moore, who was upset at the prospect of losing some of the tallest and oldest trees on the planet.

"The plan was sent out as a very sketchy public notice with a very grainy map that no one understood," Ms. Moore said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

"I remapped it in full 3-D satellite imagery on Google Earth and presented it to the community and to the local politicians and to the media," she said. "And it sort of galvanized the campaign to stop the plan because it turned out that the plan was illegal."

From that act of environmental advocacy, the
Google Earth Outreach program was born. In the past seven years, it has helped organizations and community groups around the world tell their stories by providing free access to the mapping and satellite technology of the largest international Internet company.

And on Wednesday, for the first time, Canadian non-profit groups will use it.

"We have been working for two years to prepare for this launch in Canada," said Ms. Moore, who heads the program.

Representatives of nearly 50 Canadian environmental advocacy groups, social justice organizations, aboriginal communities and schools are being trained in Vancouver this week to use Google Maps and Google Earth to create geographic illustrations of their messages. They overlay Google's maps and satellite images with data from their own spreadsheets to depict such things as the location of first nations communities, caribou migrations and the spread of diseases such as AIDS.

The groups were picked from hundreds that applied. Google received help in the selection process from Tides Canada, which helps charitable organizations that are working to achieve a healthy environment and social justice.

On Wednesday, two completed Canadian projects that use the Google mapping technology will be released on the Internet. One from the Suzuki Foundation looks at ocean fish habitats, and a Pew Environmental Group video focuses on Canada's boreal forest.

It's one thing to say that the Canadian boreal forest is the largest intact forest ecosystem on earth, Ms. Moore said. Google Earth allows Internet users to "fly in and say, 'Oh, here's where the caribou migrate, here's where billions of birds migrate and nest, here's where the aboriginal communities live.'"

The Pew project was created in conjunction with the Canadian Boreal Initiative, whose executive director, Larry Innes, calls it a validation of the importance of the forests issue.

"It's a very visual way for people to relate to an area that, for most of us, is not immediately accessible," Mr. Innes said. Without Google, he added, a similar project would have been prohibitively expensive and difficult.

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has used Google Earth Outreach to depict the effects of climate change. Actor Ted Danson has advocated for the protection of oceans, and actress Sigourney Weaver has narrated a tour of the Amazon. A project that exposed the effects of coal mining on Appalachian mountaintops led to many of the mines being put on hold or stopped.

But Ms. Moore bristles at the suggestion that Google is engaged in advocacy. Any registered charity can have access to the technology, she said.

"Notwithstanding my personal start on all this, we don't actually take a position on any of these issues. We don't know enough," she said, adding that Google is simply "giving everyone a common platform with much more detailed information to come to a wiser solution. We did this so we can sleep well at night."

Angry Birds Maker To Unveil Stadium-Sized Game

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Sep 22, 2011) Helsinki— Angry Birds will migrate from cellphone screens to the Formula One racetrack this weekend in Singapore, as the firm behind the mobile gaming sensation rolls out a crowd game to be played by live audiences.

Gaming firm Rovio has teamed up with Singapore Telecommunications for the Singapore launch, having created the crowd game with Finnish startup Uplause Ltd, the creators of the world’s first live event gaming platform.

“We think this new form of gaming will give fans a great opportunity to form a strong emotional connection with the characters,” Rovio’s marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka said in a statement.

Unlike most mobile-game crazes, Angry Birds – in which players use a slingshot to attack the pigs who stole the birds’ eggs – has stayed at the top of the charts.

In the crowd game, viewers control the slingshot on jumbo screens with their voices.

After Singapore, Rovio and Uplause plan to take the new gaming experience to the biggest live events in the world – to sports stadiums and rock concerts.

The gaming company is expanding the brand across traditional merchandising, to things such as toys and baby products, and is talking to film studios about taking the birds to the big screen.

Earlier this year, Rovio raised $42-million from venture capital firms in an investment co-led by Accel Partners, which has previously backed Facebook and Baidu, and Skype founder Niklas Zennstroem’s venture capital firm Atomico Ventures.

Rovio was founded in 2003 after three students including Niklas Hed – CEO Mikael Hed’s cousin and now Rovio’s COO – won a game-development competition sponsored by Nokia Oyj and Hewlett-Packard. It changed its name from Relude in 2005.

::OTHER NEWS::

Luminato Hires Jorn Weisbrodt

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Martin Knelman

(Sep 22, 2011) WANTED: A charming small house with a tiny garden
in downtown Toronto.

The right one will become home for
Luminato’s talented new artistic director, Jorn Weisbrodt, and his partner, the much-celebrated singer and composer Rufus Wainwright.

Luminato CEO Janice Price announced Wednesday that after a far-reaching search, the German-born Weisbrodt was the choice of the arts festival’s selection committee. He starts work in January.

“I’m very excited about working with Luminato and living in Toronto because it’s clear this is a festival that wants to work with the world’s best artists on exciting new projects,” Weisbrodt said in an interview.

“Jorn’s experience in developing international co-productions will be instrumental in providing Canadian artists and companies opportunities to collaborate with Luminato on work that will be showcased worldwide,” says Price.

He replaces Chris Lorway, who has moved to Lord Cultural Resources.

There’s no question Weisbrodt, 38, boasts a sparkling history of working on intriguing projects for many of the most prestigious performing arts organizations in the world, including La Scala in Milan, the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia and the Manchester International Festival.

Prior to that, he spent five years working in senior jobs for opera companies in Germany. Among the colleagues who admired his work greatly was Alexander Neef, who subsequently came to Toronto as general director of the Canadian Opera Company.

For the past five years, he has been working in New York with revered director Robert Wilson, who will be staging a revival of the Philip Glass opera Einstein on the Beach in Toronto for the 2012 edition of Luminato.

Weisbrodt was so keen about Luminato that when he realized his job interview was threatened by Hurricane Irene, he decided not to take a chance on the flight he had booked to Toronto.

“I decided not to take a chance on flight cancellations, so Rufus and I made a road trip of it.”

They left their Long Island country house Saturday for a Monday morning interview and stayed overnight in Niagara Falls.

“Actually, it turned out to be the best way of approaching Toronto, because it gave us a sense of how the landscape changes.”

The pair, who plan to move out of their Manhattan apartment, expect to get married next summer.

An occasional visitor to their Toronto home will likely be 7-month-old Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen — the daughter of Wainwright and Lorca Cohen. Among this kid’s grandparents are Leonard Cohen and the late Kate McGarrigle.

It will not come as a surprise if Rufus Wainwright — whose opera Prima Donna was presented at Luminato in 2010 — performs again at Luminato.

“If he does, I don’t think anyone could accuse me of booking a mediocre artist for personal reasons,” says Weisbrodt.

The search was led by Daniel Weinzweig of Searchlight Recruitment.

Word On The Street: The Face Behind The Festival

Source: www.thestar.com
- By Isabel Teotonio

(Sep 22, 2011)
Nicola Dufficy recalls the enthusiastic phone call she received three years ago from her partner raving about a book festival he had attended called The Word On The Street.

At the time, Dufficy was a budding writer working as high school teacher in Queensland, Australia, and her partner, Drew Stewart, had just moved with his two children to Toronto.

“You would love it so much, it’s right up your alley,” he told her, describing the tents, author readings and the array of activities — all in a downtown park. He even mailed Dufficy the festival program so she could see for herself.

“We’ll have to go when you get over here,” she recalls him saying a few months before she headed north to be reunited with him and the kids.

It’s a memory that makes her marvel. Then chuckle.

The 29-year-old Australian is now at the helm of the largest book and magazine festival in Canada.

“It’s weird because before I came here, the festival had already crossed my path,” says Dufficy, festival director of The Word On The Street Toronto.

Every year, on the last Sunday of September, cities across Canada celebrate the written word. This year, Halifax, Toronto, Kitchener, Saskatoon, Lethbridge and Vancouver are participating. But the Toronto festival, to be held at Queen’s Park from 11a.m. to 6 p.m is the largest, attracting more than 200,000 visitors.

Planning it with one other full-time staff member — marketing and special events co-ordinator Kristen Gentleman, 24 — has been a colossal undertaking, says Dufficy, adding she’ll rely on the help of 240 volunteers. In addition to raising $500,000 needed for the one-day festival, she devises the full artistic program.

This year, the festival will feature 250 authors reading, presenting and signing books and 14 different themed stages to showcase Canadian talent.

“It’s a really hard job,” she says of whittling down the list of 600 submissions. But it all comes down to having “a balanced program and making sure we have lots of interesting things to suit different types of readers.”

Despite the challenges of selecting the books and authors to feature, it’s the best part of the job, she says.

There will also be 275 book and magazine exhibitors that line the streets around Queen’s Park, forming the largest outdoor book store.

For Dufficy, landing the job — a dream — has itself the makings of a great tale.

Growing up with a wanderlust spirit, Dufficy always figured she would leave her homeland of Australia to travel and live abroad. But it wasn’t until she fell in love with Stewart, who eventually moved from Australia to Canada, that her sights became fixed northward.

In December 2008, she quit her job teaching English, Drama and Media, sold her belongings and traded Toowamba for Toronto.

She had studied creative writing – she even had some poetry and short stories commissioned for broadcast on Australian radio – and wanted to work in the writing and publishing industry. That was her real passion.

In the spring of 2009, she was hired at indie book retailer McNally Robinson’s new store in Toronto and started co-ordinating children’s events, which brought her in close contact with publicists.

“It was all about making the bookstore not just an environment about books, but somewhere where families could come and hang out and get their kids excited about reading.”

But the store was unprofitable and closed in December 2009. Dufficy then worked as freelance reviewer of children’s books for Quill & Quire magazine and the Canadian Children’s Book News. In April 2010, she was hired at The Word On The Street Toronto, to devise the festival program and “hit the ground running.”

“I didn’t have a huge knowledge of what was happening in Canada, so I learned very quickly and I began reading lots and lots of books,” says Dufficy, who averages one book a week.

Lucky for her she was a quick study because two months later the festival director left the organization and Dufficy took on additional responsibilities becoming co-manager of the event.

The success of last year’s festival prompted the Toronto board of directors to offer her the job of festival director, making her one of the youngest directors ever.

As festival day approaches, work days have swelled to 15 hours and the office, which is nestled in Liberty Village, has become cluttered with piles of books and boxes filled with brochures. Music helps get through the day, especially Aussie bands such as The Waifs, Powderfinger and the John Butler Trio.

“I think this job really lends itself to someone who is a single person and is really focused on their career. It is a little bit of a difficult job to balance with a family,” says the stepmother to Mollye, 7, and Darcy, 9. “I rely very much on the understanding and support of my partner.”

The pace of the job is such that Dufficy finds no time to do her own creative writing, which remains her great passion.

“I’d like to get back to that, it might be the next step career-wise,” says Dufficy.

“I definitely don’t want to get too far down the track and think, ‘It was so nice working with all these writers and it’s a shame I didn’t find time to do anything myself.’ That will come.

Nicola Dufficy talks with the Toronto Star about Scarlett O’Hara, humming horses and boating with Pi

TS: Do you remember the first book read to you as a child?

ND: John Brown, Rose, and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner

TS: What was the first book you remember reading?

ND: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

TS: Who is your favourite author?

ND: That is a really hard question. I like Geraldine Brooks, Michael Ondaatje, Kate Grenville, Arundhati Roy, Ian McEwan, Tim Winton.

TS: Who is your favourite Canadian author?

ND: Emma Donoghue

TS: What is your favourite book?

ND: Eucalyptus by Murray Bail. This book gets right to the heart of storytelling.

TS: What is your favourite Canadian book?

ND: I really love Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald and Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. I also have to say that Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel completely rocked my world.

TS: Who is your favourite fictional character?

ND: Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind (by Margaret Mitchell).

TS: What book changed your life and why?

ND: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez introduced me to the wonders of magic realism. A few months after finishing that book, I published a story about a man who wakes up the night after a storm to find horses in his backyard, humming show tunes.

TS: What’s your favourite genre?

ND: I read everything. No favourites.

TS: What’s your best ‘celebrity' moment with an author?

ND: I remember reading Life of Pi in Australia whilst sick with the flu. I was lying on the kitchen floor in my parents’ house in front of a heater in the wee hours of the morning, delirious with fever and sleep deprivation. After a while, I felt as though the floor was rocking and was convinced I was on the boat with Pi. It was such a bizarre way to experience such a fantastic book. Ten years later, who would have thought that I’d be living in Canada and working with Yann Martel during my first year at The Word On The Street? Needless to say, I didn’t tell him about the way his book completely messed with my head, although I now wonder whether he would think that was pretty cool.

TS: What’s your favourite book to read to your stepchildren (Mollye, 7, and Darcy, 9)?

ND: There Is a Bird On Your Head! by Mo Willems has a special place in my heart because it helped Mollye learn to read. We also love I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, and Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires. Darcy and I compete to see who knows more about Harry Potter.

Mayor’s Task Force To Examine Arts And Theatres

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Sep 27, 2011) The future of
Toronto’s three civic theatres isn’t decided just yet.

For theatre patrons, one of the more heartening developments during the council meetings of the past two days has been the decision to set up a Mayor’s Task Force for Arts and Theatres, as Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36, Scarborough Southwest) had told the Star on Sunday he hoped would happen.

The aim of the committee, according to a report to be published Wednesday, is “to help determine the future of city-owned theatres and the city’s role in supporting them” as well as “providing advice on an efficient restructuring of the arts grant program so that it meets the city’s need for fiscal responsibility and the arts community’s needs for concise and consistent funding structures.”

This means the Toronto Arts Council, as well as the three theatres (Sony Centre, St. Lawrence Centre and Toronto Centre for the Arts) will all be a part of the process, and it is expected that the CEOs of those four organizations will all be a major part of the task force, as well as other concerned members of the arts and business community.

Recommendations as to how best to manage the theatres and administer arts funding are expected to be made by mid-November, with no decisive action on any front occurring until after that date.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

You’ll Want To Return To St. Barts

Source: www.thestar.com - Adam Mayers

(Sep 24, 2011) ST. BARTS, F.W.I - St. Barthelemy is one of those Caribbean islands that most have heard of, but many aren’t exactly sure where it is.

Tucked away in the Leeward Islands a dozen miles south of St. Martin and 40 or so miles north of St. Kitts,
St. Barts is a little less easy to get to, discreet enough for the rich and their celebrity friends, sophisticated enough to have fabulous restaurants and clubs and small enough to be easily navigated. It is clean, safe and prosperous with secluded villas on the hills and super yachts in the harbour.

“There are no casinos here, no big nightclubs, no big buildings of any kind and no chain restaurants,” says Ernest Lédée with some satisfaction as he drives me around the island. “In St. Martin it is different, but here, people come for the quiet – for the relax as you say.”

Columbus claimed the island in 1493 on his second voyage to the
Americas, naming it after his brother, Bartholomew. Arid and of little strategic interest, it was quickly forgotten, though Gustavia’s natural harbour made it a pirate haven through the mid 1750s. A century of Swedish rule left behind orderly paved streets and stone houses, but the Swedes couldn’t turn a profit and returned the island to France in 1878.

It’s only in the last 30 years that St. Barts has enjoyed prosperity. Lédée, whose family goes back hundreds of year on the island, says islanders can thank David Rockefeller for that. He bought a villa overlooking Anse de Columbier, a secluded bay on the north western corner of the island and brought his friends in for a look. Columbier is still only accessible by boat and is a must-see part of the marine park that surrounds St. Barts.

Ashore at one end of the pristine white sand beach a rusty gate, hanging askew with a faded No Trespassing sign shows where Rockefeller guests once landed at a quay.

St. Barts has evolved as a higher end Caribbean destination, although it not out of reach for most of us. The emphasis is on small everything, with villas and boutique hotels forming the bulk of the accommodation.

While Gustavia’s shops and restaurants and nearby Shell Beach offer the perfect spot for a holiday, the other big draw is St. Jean and Nikki Beach. There at the Eden Rock Hotel, the island’s priciest, the Rock Star Villa, with white gold tiled floor and recording studio costs between $9,000 and $33,000 a night during the high season. Mutassim Ghadaffi, the clan’s youngest son may have held his last New Years Eve bash this year at St. Jean with Beyonce reportedly paid $1.5 million to appear along with Jon Bon Jovi, Usher and Lindsay Lohan.

Westjet flies to St. Martins three times a week and a 15-minute connector gets you to St. Barts. Winair has about 16 flights a day from Juliana Airport, with prices between $40 and $140 each way depending on how far in advance it is booked.

Villas are affordable too if you travel with another couple. Our Villa Harbour View overlooking Gustavia’s port is $4,000 a week in peak season or $3,000 in low, or $1,500 and $2,000 per couple which includes maid service, satellite TV and WiFi, and splash pool. There are plenty of rental agencies and don’t be afraid to ask for a deal. A good place to start looking is St-Barths.com. Gustavia’s two budget hotels, the Sunset and the La Presqui’le offer value but no frills.

Your night on the town is as little as $13 U.S. if you opt for a beer and a Cheeseburger in Paradise at Le Select. Or you can have bistro fare at any one of a dozen cafes. Eat at a patisserie for breakfast and for a few dollars grab a fresh baguette stuffed with cheese, tomato and cold cuts at the supermarket on Rue De Gaulle. Take it to the beach and wash it down with duty free bottle of champagne. If you want to cook, the fish market which may have fresh lobster, tuna or mahi-mahi.

In Gustavia, there is plenty of fine dining. Eddy’s, so well hidden behind a wall we missed it at first, lies through the gate in a garden of shaded palms, hanging lanterns and fountains. The menu was dominated by fish and was fabulous. Dinner for two with wine is about $100- $120 US.

Next night we ate across the road at Entre Deux tucked away behind a surf shop with mismatched chairs and weathered tables. It was perfect for a tapas of grilled shrimp, calamari and a fajita ($60-$80 for two.) A little later and along Rue Fahlberg was the B4 Club where the entertainment included Greg Errico, one drummer for Sly and Family Stone.

Lédée drove me past the estate of Russian billionaire Roman Abromavich who reportedly paid $90 million – the island’s highest - for 80-acres surrounding Gouverneur Beach. Not far away is the villa once owned by Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev. Jimmy Buffett’s modern white stone, red-roofed villa overlooks Gustavia. Your driver can point them out.

In the end, St. Barts is a place to come back to. It has few resources other than its charm and perpetual sunshine. More than enough to make for a memorable stay.

Adam Mayers is the editor of the personal finance Web site Moneyville.ca

Just the facts:

ARRIVING: WestJet  flies  three times a week to St. Martin in high season, a 5-hour flight from Toronto. Various connectors, including Winnair, fly to St. Barts, 15 miles away

SLEEPING: Villas, private cottages are the way to go. There are many for rent by owner or agency. Start with st-barths.com.

DINING: This is a French island with everything from patisseries and cafes to fine dining and a burger in paradise at Le Select. Walk around and look at the menus. Gustavia’s big grocery store is well stocked with basics, fresh breads and deli foods and a large beer and wine selection.

GETTING AROUND: The island is a big village. In Gustavia and St. Jean walk. You will probably want a car, scooter or quads if you’re staying elsewhere, but beware the narrow roads, hairpin turns and vertical ascents. It may be less stressful by taxi. They are plentiful and reasonable.

DOING: St. Barts is about sailing, snorkelling, diving and beaches. It is also a duty free island so all the sins are cheap. The luxury brands are all here, including Bulgari, Hèrmes, and Louis Vuitton.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Canadian Women Dominate Paraguay At FIBA Americas

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Sep 26, 2011) NEIVA, Colombia— Kalisha Keane scored 15 points as Canada's women's basketball team crushed Paraguay 77-26 at the FIBA Americas Championship on Monday.

Keane, from Ajax, Ont., went 3 for 3 from three-point range as the No. 12 Canadians improved to 2-1 at the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Lizanne Murphy of Beaconsfield, Ont., had 11 points, Kim Smith of Mission, B.C., scored 10 and Tamara Tatham of Brampton, Ont., chipped in with eight points along with a team-leading eight rebounds for Canada.

Canada's defence was effective against unranked Paraguay (0-2), with only a team-high seven points from Ilda Pena Valdez.

Canada leads Pool B with five points, but Brazil (2-0) could regain the top spot with a win over Jamaica on Monday night.

The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals.

The winner of the 10-team tournament gets an automatic spot at the 2012 London Olympics, while second through fourth qualify for the 12-team Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Canada beat Mexico 72-45 in the opener but lost 56-39 to Brazil on Sunday.

The team wraps up the preliminary round Wednesday versus 49th-ranked Jamaica. A win would likely see Canada advance to the semifinals.

Canada is playing for its first Olympic appearance since the 2000 Sydney Games.

Video: Argo Chad Rempel And The Art Of The Long Snap

Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Zelkovich

(September 27, 2011) You couldn’t blame
Chad Rempel if he wasn’t entirely comfortable about scoring a touchdown Saturday night.

For one, his first career Canadian Football League major had the part-time
Toronto Argonaut slotback so excited he was afraid it might affect his full-time job as a long snapper. He admits snapping the ball for the ensuing convert in the Argos’ 25-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers took extra concentration because of the massive amount of adrenalin pumping through him.

Secondly, long snappers as a rule don’t like attention.

“You don’t want to be noticed,” the 28-year-old Alberta native says with a laugh. “You don’t want to be interviewed. Usually, it’s because you’ve had a bad snap.

“Nobody’s talked to me before this, so that’s good.”

With the exception of Saturday’s touchdown, there’s been no reason to talk to Rempel. Since taking on the long-snapping job in 2009, he hasn’t made many bad snaps.

In fact, no one can think of one this season or last.

“Without question, he’s one of the best in the league,” said kicker Noel Prefontaine, who relies on Rempel to deliver the ball on converts, field goals and punts. “He’s got the speed and accuracy you need.

“What’s amazing is that he just started doing this. To be able to pick up something that difficult that quickly is amazing.”

What’s truly amazing is that prior to 2009, Rempel hadn’t spent a second looking upside-down. He was a slotback and special teams player, though prospects for a long career were slim.

After being drafted by Edmonton in 2004, he was cut five times in five seasons — once by the Argos. After returning to Toronto in ’09, the opportunity hit him smack in the face when veteran snapper Randy Srochenski finally retired.

But Rempel wasn’t about to volunteer without finding out if he could do the job. He bought his own football to keep his plans secret and started practising in a local park with his fiancée — now wife — Krista.

After a few overshoots and undershoots, he started to get the hang of it and told the Argos he was willing to give it a try. He wasn’t what you’d call an instant success.

“His snaps were all over the place at first,” said long-time Argos holder Kevin Eiben. “But he put a ton of time into and it and now the ball’s always where it’s supposed to be.”

Long snapping is one of football’s most underrated skills. The ball has to be delivered quickly and accurately because each micro-second increases the chances of a blocked kick.

In the case of place-kicking, not only does the snapper have to get the ball to the holder in a millisecond, it has to arrive in his hands with the laces facing away from the kicker. It’s a matter of spin control.

Rempel works hard on that every day and his accuracy has made him a bit of a legend with his Argo teammates. At a recent practice, linebacker Ejiro Kuale bet him $500 he couldn’t snap the ball through the open windows of a parked van.

Rempel met the challenge with ease, but didn’t collect because he refused the bet.

“Kuale said I would have froze if the money was on the line,” he said with a laugh.

While he isn’t making himself any richer, Rempel has undoubtedly extended his career indefinitely by learning to snap. Srochenski, for example, handled the job for 16 years and would still be playing if he hadn’t decided to retire.

“Once you get that reliable guy, you don’t want to change because you know you can count on him,” said Argo head coach Jim Barker. “He’s a guy who can play a long time.”

Watch video HERE

Anthony Calvillo ‘On Target’ For Return

Source: www.thestar.com - Sean Farrell, The Canadian Press

(September 27, 2011) MONTREAL— Anthony Calvillo gamely answered questions, joked with reporters and looked surprisingly good for someone who was knocked unconscious on the weekend.

“That's a two,” Calvillo said when a pair of fingers were held up to him as he settled in to address a media scrum following Montreal's practice on Tuesday.

The Alouettes all-star quarterback was speaking publicly for the first time since being knocked out cold by the Eskimos' Marcus Howard in the Montreal Alouettes' 34-21 win on Friday in Edmonton.

The laughter came easy since Calvillo has not had any concussion symptoms since the moments after he was levelled by Howard. The third-quarter hit knocked Calvillo unconscious, though the CFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes recovered soon enough to remain on the bench for the rest of the game and fly back to Montreal with his teammates.

“Basically once I got up I went to the sideline and my head was pounding like there was a headache,” Calvillo said. “They gave me a couple of Tylenol and I think after I took the Tylenol, I felt like I was going to throw up, basically two minutes after that.

“And then about five minutes after that there was no headache, no nausea and nothing else that came up so that's why they allowed me to fly home. And then since then everything's pretty much been the same.”

Amazed at his own recovery, Calvillo was at a loss to explain whether or not he had suffered a concussion.

“That's where I'm still a bit confused because, since I've had no symptoms of a concussion, they're saying that maybe it wasn't,” he said. “But being knocked out there's always that hesitation that you have to be cautious.

“I'm going through the protocol, just like there was a concussion, because I still assume that's what it is, or that's what it was, but the thing is I've had no symptoms at all since after the game and right now I'm on target to get back on the field.”

The 39-year-old quarterback was to undergo a series of memory and speed tests Tuesday. He had performed the tests successfully on Monday night.

“Right now everything seems to be on target because as long as this impact test comes back again positive, after the doctors look at my scores, I should be able to move forward,” he said. “The only thing that would probably prevent me if something comes up now until game day but since nothing's occurred since the hit occurred, I really don't see it happening.”

Added Alouettes coach Marc Trestman“ ”He tested and graded out above the baseline, far above. That's a good sign that it wasn't a concussion.“

Veteran Alouettes defensive lineman Anwar Stewart had a hard time looking on from the sideline when Howard delivered the hit, particularly because Calvillo was looking down searching to recover a fumble.

“I told him when that ball was on the ground, you should have tucked and rolled and ducked, do something,” Stewart said. “I said, ‘Don't take hits like that.’ We were very concerned but he's tough.”

Calvillo felt there was nothing he could have done to better protect himself from the hit.

“It was a split-second, just like that, but football is a violent game and sometimes there are hits like that that just remind you how violent it is,” he said. “That's what I do for a living and that's not going to change.”

Backup quarterback Adrian McPherson steered Montreal on to victory Friday night, though he admitted that it was a challenge to take over from Calvillo after the hit.

“I was just scared,” McPherson said. “For me it was a scary sight but at the same time I had to mentally just try to get myself focused and go out and try to help this team win a ballgame. I'm happy that he's O.K. Health is the most important thing for me so it's great that he's O.K. and I'm glad that I could go in and perform and help this team get a win.”

Brandon Whitaker was named the CFL's offensive player of the week. He ran for 113 yards and a TD and added five catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns against the Eskimos.

He found an added positive in the Alouettes' collective relief about Calvillo's speedy recovery as Montreal prepared for Friday's showdown in Winnipeg.

“It definitely makes it a lot easier but you know Adrian's a great quarterback and if A.C. goes down we have all the confidence in the world in Adrian,” said Whitaker, the league's rushing leader with 906 yards. “You saw what he did at the end of the game last week? He had a good one so we're good to go.”

Anthony Calvillo ‘On Target’ For Return

Source: www.thestar.com - Sean Farrell, The Canadian Press

(September 27, 2011) MONTREAL— Anthony Calvillo gamely answered questions, joked with reporters and looked surprisingly good for someone who was knocked unconscious on the weekend.

“That's a two,” Calvillo said when a pair of fingers were held up to him as he settled in to address a media scrum following Montreal's practice on Tuesday.

The Alouettes all-star quarterback was speaking publicly for the first time since being knocked out cold by the Eskimos' Marcus Howard in the Montreal Alouettes' 34-21 win on Friday in Edmonton.

The laughter came easy since Calvillo has not had any concussion symptoms since the moments after he was levelled by Howard. The third-quarter hit knocked Calvillo unconscious, though the CFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes recovered soon enough to remain on the bench for the rest of the game and fly back to Montreal with his teammates.

“Basically once I got up I went to the sideline and my head was pounding like there was a headache,” Calvillo said. “They gave me a couple of Tylenol and I think after I took the Tylenol, I felt like I was going to throw up, basically two minutes after that.

“And then about five minutes after that there was no headache, no nausea and nothing else that came up so that's why they allowed me to fly home. And then since then everything's pretty much been the same.”

Amazed at his own recovery, Calvillo was at a loss to explain whether or not he had suffered a concussion.

“That's where I'm still a bit confused because, since I've had no symptoms of a concussion, they're saying that maybe it wasn't,” he said. “But being knocked out there's always that hesitation that you have to be cautious.

“I'm going through the protocol, just like there was a concussion, because I still assume that's what it is, or that's what it was, but the thing is I've had no symptoms at all since after the game and right now I'm on target to get back on the field.”

The 39-year-old quarterback was to undergo a series of memory and speed tests Tuesday. He had performed the tests successfully on Monday night.

“Right now everything seems to be on target because as long as this impact test comes back again positive, after the doctors look at my scores, I should be able to move forward,” he said. “The only thing that would probably prevent me if something comes up now until game day but since nothing's occurred since the hit occurred, I really don't see it happening.”

Added Alouettes coach Marc Trestman“ ”He tested and graded out above the baseline, far above. That's a good sign that it wasn't a concussion.“

Veteran Alouettes defensive lineman Anwar Stewart had a hard time looking on from the sideline when Howard delivered the hit, particularly because Calvillo was looking down searching to recover a fumble.

“I told him when that ball was on the ground, you should have tucked and rolled and ducked, do something,” Stewart said. “I said, ‘Don't take hits like that.’ We were very concerned but he's tough.”

Calvillo felt there was nothing he could have done to better protect himself from the hit.

“It was a split-second, just like that, but football is a violent game and sometimes there are hits like that that just remind you how violent it is,” he said. “That's what I do for a living and that's not going to change.”

Backup quarterback Adrian McPherson steered Montreal on to victory Friday night, though he admitted that it was a challenge to take over from Calvillo after the hit.

“I was just scared,” McPherson said. “For me it was a scary sight but at the same time I had to mentally just try to get myself focused and go out and try to help this team win a ballgame. I'm happy that he's O.K. Health is the most important thing for me so it's great that he's O.K. and I'm glad that I could go in and perform and help this team get a win.”

Brandon Whitaker was named the CFL's offensive player of the week. He ran for 113 yards and a TD and added five catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns against the Eskimos.

He found an added positive in the Alouettes' collective relief about Calvillo's speedy recovery as Montreal prepared for Friday's showdown in Winnipeg.

“It definitely makes it a lot easier but you know Adrian's a great quarterback and if A.C. goes down we have all the confidence in the world in Adrian,” said Whitaker, the league's rushing leader with 906 yards. “You saw what he did at the end of the game last week? He had a good one so we're good to go.”

Canada Has 4 Days To Prepare For 1 Of Toughest Assignments In World Rugby: Beating Nz At Home

Source: www.thestar.com - Jerome Pugmire

(September 28, 2011) NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND—The challenges for Canada keep growing. Beating the All Blacks in New Zealand is one of the rarest achievements in world rugby. Doing it on four days preparation, and coming off a 23-23 draw with lowly-ranked Japan, is almost impossible.

Canada coach Kieran Crowley returned to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup with the target of finishing third in Pool A. The Canadians have a win and a draw and are in third place now. But if Tonga upsets two-time finalist France on Saturday, the Canadians will finish fourth unless they upset New Zealand on Sunday.

Across 107 years, the All Blacks have lost just 37 matches at home. That’s about once every three years. The glimmer of hope: the All Blacks’ last loss at home was in 2009.

Only South Africa, Australia and England — all World Cup champions — and France have beaten New Zealand at home since the turn of the century.

“The All Blacks are an extremely difficult team and we have, I think, only two practices until we play them so it’s a bit of a short turnaround,” scrumhalf Ed Fairhurst said after Canada overcame an eight-point deficit in the last five minutes to salvage a draw with Japan. “It would have been nice if we had a little bit longer to work on some stuff, but that’s just the nature of the draw.”

Top-ranked New Zealand has averaged eight tries a game in the 2011 tournament — thrashing Tonga, dismantling Japan and beating France heavily.

Fairhurst is under no illusions about the difficulty of Sunday’s assignment, already joking about what he will say in the dressing room.

“I’m sure I’ll use a few cliches, like ‘they put their shorts on one leg at a time like everybody else,’ ” he said.

With 54 caps and a decade of experience, Fairhurst expects he will have to calm down a few less battle-worn players.

“I think some of the younger kids might be a little bit overawed,” he said. “But (when you’ve) been around the block a few times, you’re used to seeing these players all the time so it’s not too bad.

“It’s just an amazing experience playing the best team in the world. It’s tough to describe.”

Crowley, a World Cup winner with the All Blacks in 1987, is worried that the short time between the matches will affect his team psychologically more than physically.

“The boys have had a pretty hard test match against Japan . . . we need to come down off the high of the emotional side of things,” he said. “I think it’s massively difficult, not only the physical side of things, but the mental side of things. I know when I was playing it used to take me from a Saturday until a Wednesday to come back down from the emotional side of things, because you’re putting in a hell of a lot of work mentally.

“So that’s going to be a challenge, but we’ll prepare the best we can.”

Crowley was asked what weaknesses World Cup favourite New Zealand might have.

“At this level when you get these tier one nations there’s no weaknesses,” he said. “You just have to play your game.”

Canada beat Tonga 25-20 in its opening match, and was holding France at 10-10 before a second-half collapse resulted in a 46-19 blowout. The team which finishes third in each group will earn automatic entry for the 2015 World Cup, so there’s a lot riding on the last weekend of pool matches.

“We felt we played pretty well in the Tonga game, and the French game there was bits we fell apart—and we said as a team we couldn’t do that,” Canada captain Pat Riordan said. “It’s got to do with the expectations and what we want to do as a team.”

::FITNESS::

10 Great Ways to Burn More Fat

Source: By Raphael Calzadilla, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro


You’re so busy you have absolutely no time to work out, right? Wrong. It’s
important that you make the time, and I’m here to help you do it. In this busy world filled with work, family and stress, we sometimes have to use a lot of creativity to sneak in workout time.  

I’ve constructed some quick tips to keep you moving, your muscles stimulated and your blood flowing in minimal time. Now, you have no excuse.

Here are my 10 fat-burning tips for people on the go:

1. When you first wake up, commit to 10 minutes of continuous
exercise. Choose only three movements and perform each in succession without stopping for 10 minutes. For example, Monday you can perform modified push-ups, followed by crunches for your abs followed by stationary lunges. On Tuesday, you can perform free-standing squats with hands on hips, double crunch for abs and close grip modified push-ups (hands 3 inches apart) for your triceps. Just 10 minutes! Just take a quick breather when you need it.

2. Perform timed interval walking in your neighbourhood or at lunch. If it takes 10 minutes to walk to a certain destination near your office or in your neighbourhood, try to make it in eight minutes. You can also do this first thing in the morning before work as well as on your lunch break.

3. If you have stairs in your home or in your work place, commit to taking the stairs a specific number of times. Tell yourself that you’ll take the stairs six or eight times (no matter what).

4. While seated, perform some isometric exercise to help strengthen and tighten your muscles. For example, while in a seated position, simply contract the abdominals for 30 seconds while breathing naturally. You can also tighten and contract your legs for 60 seconds. Perform about three sets per area. You’ll feel your muscles get tighter in just three weeks if you do this a few times per week. Here’s a video to help show you how:



5. For about $15, you can invest in a pedometer. It’s a small device you can carry that records the amount of miles you walk per day. Each week, simply try to add just a bit more to the mileage. For example, let’s say you walk one mile total during the day in the normal course of activities. Simply try to make it two miles total the following week. Just make a game of it. You’ll burn more calories.

6. Tired at night and just want to sit in front of the TV? Try this technique: Take periodic five-minute exercise breaks and perform some muscle-stimulating and calorie-burning exercise. For example, take five minutes and perform only ab crunches. Then, when it’s time for another five-minute exercise break, perform modified push-ups for five minutes. Then for a final five-minute break, perform stationary lunges. Try to do as many as possible in five minutes and try to beat your amount of reps during each subsequent break. It won’t seem daunting because it’s only five minutes at a time, split over a 30- or 60-minute timeframe. Instead of rest breaks, you’ll take exercise breaks. You don’t really need to watch that commercial, do you?

7. How about performing one exercise movement per day for seven to 10 minutes? For example, Monday: free-standing squats for seven minutes. Tuesday: chair dips for seven minutes. Wednesday: crunches and hip lifts off the floor for seven minutes. Thursday: modified push-up for seven minutes. Friday: stationary lunges for seven minutes. It’s quick, simple and teaches consistency.

8. Want things even simpler? Take the longest route every time you have to walk somewhere — even if it’s to a co-worker’s office.

9. Double-up the stairs. Every time you take the stairs, simply take a double step, or every other stair. It will be just like lunges and the Stairmaster combined — great for the legs and butt.

10. Perform any of the above with your spouse or a friend. I’m sure you can find someone who is in the same situation. The support will give you more motivation and you just may find that you can create even more workout time for yourself.

Hey, I know this won’t make you an Olympic athlete or give you six-pack abs, but that’s not the goal. I just want to see you making an effort to improve. If you take two to three of your favourite tips above, it will be the beginning of something great.

::MOTIVATION::

Let us cultivate love and compassion, both of which give life true meaning. This is the religion I preach. It is simple. Its temple is the heart. Its teaching is love and compassion. Its moral values are loving and respecting others, whoever they may be. Whether one is a lay person or a monastic, we have no other option if we wish to survive in this world.

Source:  Dalai Lama