September 8, 2011
Ahhh September ... new beginnings - new season (brrr), new starts, new schools ... the countdown to festive holidays like Thanksgiving, colder weather, winter, Christmas holidays (in my case), New Years, ahhhh!
Of course this month always lends itself to the memories of 9/11 for so many. As my own tribute to the 10th anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11, I've put together a list of the twenty-six Canadians that were lost on that sorrowful day. Their stories are varied and all tragic and often not the highlight of mainstream news. It took some time to accumulate but felt that our stories needed to be told and remembered as well.
I found out some very interesting facts as well - did you know that one of the co-pilots on Flight 93 (LeRoy Homer) was married to a woman (Melodie Homer) from Hamilton, ON? Lest we forget ... see all their stories under SCOOP. Along these same lines, please check out the quote from the Dalai Lama under MOTIVATION.
More tragedy in sports news in the Russian plane crash killing some Canadians, TV news on Russell Peters, Dylan Armstrong scores in shotput, Usain Bolt wins gold at the world championships and, of course, the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival. Check it all out under TOP STORIES.
Just click on the photo or the headline and you'll get directly to the article and your latest entertainment news! Want to shortcut the scrolling? Choose your favourite topic at the index to the right!
Widow Surprised By Children's Reactions
Lori Arczynski was pregnant when her husband Mike died in the attack on the World Trade Centre. Arczynski, who is originally from Montreal and now lives in Stowe, VT, said she stayed up late Sunday night thinking about the news and how to tell her children. She phoned her oldest daughter attending school in Boston right away. In the morning, she spoke to her younger children including the son her husband never met, Michael, now aged 9. "Michael wanted to know why they were allowed to go in there and just shoot somebody and why there hadn't been a trial," said Arczynski. "I was caught off guard by that." Arczynski said she loved the sights of people celebrating in the streets of Washington and New York City after the news of the death broke. But she said there was little jubilation in her home. "We have been bracing ourselves for the 10th anniversary, where we are going to spend our time and what we are going to do. This brings all the feelings to the surface sooner," she said. "I don't see there being closure unless there is a miracle and Mike comes back."
Portraits in Grief HERE
Garnet Bailey "Ace"
David M. Barkway
Portraits in Grief HERE
LeRoy Wilton Homer Jr.
Article on widow Melodie Homer HERE
Kenneth W. Basnicki
Portraits in Grief HERE
Portraits in Grief HERE
Jane E. Beatty
Mark G. Ludvigsen "Lud"
Portraits in Grief HERE
Portraits in Grief HERE
Portraits in Grief HERE
Cynthia L. Connolly
Portraits in Grief HERE
Colin Richard McArthur
Portraits in Grief HERE
C. Arron Dack
Portraits in Grief HERE
Michel A. Pelletier "Mike"
Portraits in Grief HERE
Frank J. Doyle
Donald Arthur Robson "Don"
Portraits in Grief HERE
Rufino Conrado F. Santos, III "Roy"
Portraits in Grief HERE
Albert A.W. Elmarry
Portraits in Grief HERE
Portraits in Grief HERE
Meredith E.J. Ewart
Portraits in Grief HERE
Deborah L. Williams
Canadian Coach McCrimmon Among 43 Dead In Russian Plane Crash
Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard
(Sep 07, 2011) MOSCOW — Canadian coach Brad McCrimmon is among the dead in a Russian plane crash Wednesday while the jet was taking off in western Russia, killing 43 people and critically injuring two others.
The pilot may have overshot a runway takeoff abort line before he lifted his plane into the air and crashed it into a beacon tower, killing most of the Continental Hockey League (KHL)’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team on board.
The crash, which took the lives of several former NHL players, exploded under clear blue skies at the Yaroslavl Airport and has left the international hockey community reeling.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 crashed immediately after taking off from an airport near Yaroslavl, on the Volga River, 240 kilometres northeast of Moscow.
PHOTO GALLERY: Victims of the crash
The plane was carrying the team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the capital of Belarus where it was to play Thursday against Dynamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the KHL.
There were 45 people — 37 passengers and eight crew members — on board, the ministry said. Citing preliminary information, the ministry said two people survived and were taken to hospital.
“At first we didn’t believe it. But right now, there is no hope. The team is gone,” a Lokomotiv official said soon after the accident on a Twitter feed.
Among the dead is former NHL great McCrimmon, who coached the Lokomotiv squad, which played in Russia’s premier hockey league. Former Leaf Igor Koralev and Alexander Karpotsev were listed as team members but there is no word yet if they were on the plane.
Also thought to be on board the troubled Yak-42 jetliner were former Vancouver Canuck star Pavol Demitra and former Ottawa Senator Krel Rachunek.
A native of Saskatchewan, the 52-year-old McCrimmon was most recently an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, and played for years in the NHL for Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Hartford and Phoenix.
He became Yaroslavl's head coach in May. His contract had expired with the Red Wings and the sides parted mutually.
“We know he wanted to see what it was like being a head coach,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom told reporters in Detroit. “He wanted to do that in Russia. We all wished him well when we heard the news. We knew he would try and move up in his coaching career.”
Officials said Russian player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crewmember.
In total 11 foreign players were reportedly onboard the jet. A Czech Embassy official said Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek were among those killed, and Latvian officials confirmed the death of Latvian defenceman Karlis Skrastins.
Swedish goalie Stefan Liv was also confirmed dead.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately sent the country's transport minister to the site, 15 kilometres east of Yaroslavl. President Dmitry Medvedev also planned to tour the crash site.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is a leading force in Russian hockey and came third in the KHL last year.
LOKOMOTIV A 3-TIME CHAMP
The KHL is an international club league that pits together teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia. Lokomotiv was a three-time Russian League champion in 1997, 2002-2003. It took bronze last season.
A cup match between hockey teams Salavat Yulaev and Atlant in the central Russian city of Ufa was called off midway after news of the crash was announced by HHL head Alexander Medvedev. Russian television broadcast images of an empty arena in Ufa as grief-stricken fans abandoned the stadium.
Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, called it the “darkest day in the history of the sport.”
“This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community with so many nationalities involved. Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of the victims,” he said.
“Despite the substantial air travel of professional hockey teams, our sport has been spared from tragic traffic accidents. But only until now.”
‘A CATASTROPHIC LOSS TO THE HOCKEY WORLD’
In a statement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called the crash a catastrophe for the game.
“Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world, including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League,” Bettman said.
“Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished.”
Vladislav Tretiak, the great Soviet net minder now president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, echoed Bettman’s sentiments.
“This is a huge tragedy for Russian as well as for international [ice]hockey. Several internationally well known players, a Canadian coach, all of them had a remarkable career in the big sport, have died in that crash,” Tretiak told the Star.
“We all are deeply shocked with the loss of such a great team,” he said.
A Russian aviation agency spokesman, Sergei Izvolsky, told CNN the crash occurred around 4 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) during take-off because the plane couldn’t reach a safe altitude fast enough.
The aircraft collided with an airport beacon antenna, fell to the ground and broke into several pieces and caught fire, Izvolsky said.
PLANE FAILED TO GAIN REQUIRED SPEED
According to an air traffic controller at the facility, the plane may have been downed because its captain ignored a takeoff abort line after the plane failed to gain the required runway speed, Russia’s LifeNews.ru is reporting.
Ariy Novik said the jet had crossed the point where it should have stopped the takeoff attempt before becoming airborne.
“It has crossed the take off point. Then it drove several meters, got off the runway (came back down) onto the ground and took off from there,” Novik, a 12-year veteran said.
“A second later it leaned onto the left side and crashed,” he said.
Novik said everyone in the air-traffic control room saw the last seconds of the catastrophe.
He said the 36 metre long jet was apparently not able to gain the speed required for the take off. But the captain decided to risk it and take off anyway, he said.
Swarms of police and rescue crews rushed to Tunoshna, a picturesque village with a blue-domed church on the banks of the Volga River. One of the plane's engines could be seen poking out of the river and a flotilla of boats combed the water for bodies. Russian rescue workers struggled to heft the bodies of large, strong athletes in stretchers up the muddy, steep riverbank.
One resident, Irina Pryakhova, saw the plane going down, then heard a loud bang and saw a plume of smoke.
“It was wobbling in flight, it was clear that something was wrong,” she said. “I saw them pulling bodies to the shore, some still in their seats with seatbelts on.”
One Russian aviation expert told the Star that he was not surprised when he heard about the fatal crash.
“This is just the kind of thing that tends to happen quite frequently in Russia,” said Stuart Barwood, a commercial aviation consultant formerly based in Moscow, who now lives in the U.K.
Former NHL defenceman Bryan Muir appeared in 23 games for Dynamo Minsk during the 2008-09 season and recalls travelling on a TU-134A plane that was built in 1962. While some of his Russian teammates were unfazed by its condition, the Winnipeg native never felt completely comfortable.
“We were kind of sitting there going `Holy smokes' because you're used to North America and the standards and everything that goes along with it,” Muir said in an interview. “I looked at the doorway and there's this big crack with the aluminum riveted over the top of it.
“I'm just sitting there saying to myself ‘Oh my god’ — just saying a prayer when I walked on the plane every time.”
WORST AIR TRAFFIC SAFETY RECORD
Russia and the former Soviet republics combined for the worst air traffic safety record in the world in 2009, according to the International Air Transport Association, with an accident rate 13 times the world average. There were 24 aircraft accidents in Russia in 2010.
Barwood was quick to point out that Russia is trying hard to shed its poor reputation, and that the larger airlines and airports, which operate international flights out of major cities, generally meet international safety standards.
“But the problem is at the moment there is still a large number of smaller, less regulated airlines flying outside of the capital, flying much older, Soviet-era aircraft.”
The Yak-42 jet, which carried the Lokomotiv team, was manufactured in the final years of the Soviet Union, was considered “a bit of a failure from a manufacturing perspective,” Barwood said. The jet would not be used by larger, “mainstream” operators, he said.
Less than 200 of the aircraft were manufactured, and six or seven have been involved in crashes, according to Barwood. “It is an airplane that unfortunately has had a fairly high accident rate.”
However, Barwood said most of the accidents were attributed to pilot error, which “tends to happen a lot in Russia.”
Dave King, the longtime NHL and Canadian national team coach who spent the 2005-06 season as a head coach in Russia, said his players used to joke about the age and safety of the charter planes on which they frequently travelled.
“There was one plane we’d get a lot and the players called it Pterodactyl Air. The planes were old. They were dated,” said King, now a developmental coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.
“When we charter in North America, they’re state-of-the-art, top-notch airplanes. There, the charter companies, it’s a new business. I think they buy airplanes from the established companies that are taking planes out of service. So they are older aircraft. That’s the concern. Guys would raise their eyebrows. But we were all thrilled to be able to charter, so you never complained.”
There were those who let their nerves show. King remembers Anders Eriksson, the former Leaf who played for King for that season with Russia’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk, being a particularly nervous flyer.
“Anders used to be biting his nails getting on the planes,” King said. “We all were. Because we were concerned. You could tell they were dated aircraft, especially when you got inside and saw the cabin. You could see the planes were getting long in the tooth. You fly a lot. They’re long flights. It was always a concern for everybody, without a doubt.”
But Tretiak denied the plane involved in yesterday’s crash was unsafe.
“I use such plane [Yak 42] all the time,” he said through a Russian translator working for the Star.
“The last time I have used such plane was three days ago. I just took part in the TV program where aviation experts (said) that plane had a capacity to fly for another 25 years without any problems,” he said.
PLANE BUILT FOR MILITARY
Tretiak said the plane was built in 1994 to transport military personnel and therefore was designed in a rigorously solid fashion.
In a statement from the KHL, officials were trying to come to grips with the tragedy, while offering condolences to the team’s families.
“We are only beginning to understand the impact of this tragedy affecting the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club and the international hockey community,” the statement said.
“First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families and friends of the players, coaches and staff lost in today’s tragedy.
The league also promised to work with investigators looking into the crash.
“As the investigation of this tragedy progresses we will work closely with investigators, government officials, club executives and the Yaroslavl community,” it read.
“We are aware that many of you have questions. This tragedy remains our primary focus. We ask for patience as we find an appropriate way to proceed with the 2011/2012 season. We will continue to communicate our plans as they take shape.”
Garry Greenstin, the agent for current Leaf’s Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin, said he was shocked by the news.
“This is too sad, I need to find out more about what happened. . . Ruslan (Salei) is a very good friend, he lives in Newport Beach, that’s only 40 minutes from us, he just signed a new deal to play (for Lokomotiv),” Greenstin said.
“Brad (McCrimmon) is a close friend, one of the best people in hockey,” Greenstin said.
The Locomotiv team, league champions in 1997, played in a 9,046 seat arena opened in 2000.
PHOTO GALLERY: Russian plane crash
In recent years, Russia and the other former Soviet republics have had some of the world's worst air traffic safety records. Experts blame the poor safety record on the age of the aircraft, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.
Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year. The short- and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980 and about 100 are still being used by Russian carriers.
In June, another Russian passenger jet crashed in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk, killing 47 people. The crash of that Tu-134 plane has been blamed on pilot error.
Former Montreal Canadien Brent Sopel, who is now playing in Russia, tweeted shortly after the crash: “In shock. Prayers out to all of the KHL families.”
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin told reporters at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday about his friendship with Alexander Galimov, who is believed to have survived, The Washington Post reported.
“I played with him when I was a little kid and again on national team, junior,” said Ovechkin who played with Galimov in the 2005 World Junior Championships. “It’s kind of a scary moment. A whole national tragedy.”
Some of Lokomotiv’s players:
• Brad McCrimmon – Coach — Deceased
• Josef Vasicek — Played for Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, NY Islanders — Deceased
• Pavol Demitra — Played for Ottawa Senators from 1993-1996. Also played for St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks from 2008-2010
• Latvian defenceman Karlis Skrastins — Deceased
• Karel Rachunek — Played for Ottawa Senators from 2000-2004. Also played for NY Rangers, NJ Devils — Deceased
• Vitali Anikeyenko — Drafted by Ottawa Senators in 2005. Never played in NHL
• Alexander Vasyunov — Played for NJ Devils 2010-11
• Stefan Liv — Drafted by Detroit Red Wings in 2000, played in AHL in 2006-07 — Deceased
• Jan Marek — Drafted by NY Rangers in 2003, never played in NHL — Deceased
• Daniil Sobchenko — Drafted by San Jose Sharks in 2011, never played in NHL
• Ivan Tkachenko — Drafted by Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002, never played in the NHL
• Daniel Tjarnqvist — Played for Colorado from 2008-2009
With files from the Star wire services
Russell Peters Eyes Acting Gig On 'Flashpoint'
Source: CTV News - Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
(September 2, 2011) TORONTO — Comedy superstar Russell Peters is beefing up his resume with several weighty Hollywood roles that he hopes will bolster his bid to develop a dramatic acting career.
The Brampton, Ont.-raised funnyman has even been vying for a part on CTV's "Flashpoint," which follows an elite police tactical unit based in Toronto.
He muses that he could play a killer, a cop or a murder victim.
"Flashpoint" is one of the leading nominees heading into the Gemini Awards on Sept. 7, a televised bash that Peters will host from CBC headquarters in Toronto.
Peters says from Los Angeles that he's already filmed roles in the upcoming Garry Marshall movie, "New Year's Eve," with Sofia Vergara and Katherine Heigl and "See If I Care" with Eva Mendes.
He also has a prominent part in the upcoming hockey movie, "Breakaway," about a rag-tag group of Indo-Canadian rink rats who seek on-ice stardom.
It debuts at the Toronto International Film festival, which kicks off Sept. 8.
Peters says he'd like to develop a diverse body of work that allows him to jump from comedy to drama and back again.
"Kind of like the way Martin Short did," Peters says, referring to the Canuck comic legend who recently turned up on the meaty specialty dramas "Damages" and Weeds."
"I love 'Flashpoint,' actually, that's the one show I actually have been asking to get on," says Peters, best known for peppering his stage show with outrageous accents.
"I really like that show. It's a really, really good show."
For now, "Flashpoint" will have to wait. Peters is tied up with a slew of projects that include a holiday special for The Comedy Network and an episode of the Hulu documentary program, "A Day In the Life," produced by "Super Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock.
Although he was able to work his own material into "Breakaway" and expects to determine much of the comedy planned for his Gemini gig, Peters says he stepped back on "New Year's Eve" to take cues from an industry giant.
"Garry Marshall knows what he's doing, he's not an amateur at this," he said of the "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride" director.
"He knows how to try and bring out your strengths or what will work onscreen."
In "New Year's Eve," Peters says Heigl plays a caterer while he and Vergara are her underlings. Peters' character is in love with Vergara's character.
"He's pretending to be something he's not in order to try and get close to her," says Peters, who also appeared in the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller "Source Code."
"See If I Care" involves a more serious role, where Peters plays Eva Mendes' boss.
"I kind of modelled it a little bit after Mel from 'Alice,"' says Peters. "(He's) lovably grouchy."
Peters says he's not thinking too closely about where his career takes him but is buoyed by an explosion of diverse jobs.
"It's all pretty cool what's happening," says Peters, who will also be inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame on Oct. 1.
"It's better than a lot of things not happening."
"These are roles that just come to me and I take them as they come. But I would like to go down that road some more and play some more things that are little more outside my box but still have a funny edge to them."
The range of projects all seem to be helping the stand-up veteran break out to a more mainstream audience in the United States. Peters says he's noticed that he's getting recognized more often these days.
While crossing the street the other day in Beverly Hills he came across the unlikeliest of fans: a "douche bag" driver who had the stereo blasting in his car.
"I was like, 'Oh God, one of those guys.' And as I'm crossing the street he sticks his head out and goes, 'Is that Russell Peters?' I was like, 'All right!' That douche bag all of a sudden became my favourite person in the world."
Another encounter took place while driving up L.A.'s famed Rodeo Drive in his convertible. Peters says a sightseeing tour group was stopped at the light across the street from him.
"We were passing at the intersection and all I heard was "That's Russell Peters!' And I was like, 'Yeah!' " he says.
"I love it. You know, you hear celebrities go, 'Ugh, I just want my privacy.' Shut up. If you wanted privacy you would have been an accountant."
Dylan Armstrong Throws His Way Into Canadian Sport History
(September 03, 2011) Dylan Armstrong missed a medal by a mere one centimetre at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but would not be denied this time around in uncorking a throw of 21.64 metres on his fourth of sixth throws to take the silver medal in the event. He pumped his big arms into the air after it landed as a few Canadian flags fluttered in the crowd in the stadium in Daegu, South Korea.
“It's awesome, it was an amazing night tonight,” said Armstrong on an Athletics Canada conference call. “I'm very, very pleased to get on the podium. A medal's a medal. It was obviously a very tight competition, but a very great competition. It was a great feeling. I've trained really, really hard for this and I'm definitely happy. It sets me up for next year going into London.”
It was almost gold. It took a tremendous heave of 21.78 metres by David Storl of Germany on the second last throw of an event that feature four former world championships to snatch the victory from Armstrong, who was too gassed from the oppressive heat to surpass it on his final toss.
“It's just gives you that extra boost and that confidence going into next year knowing you can win and get on the podium,” he said. “I've gotta just keep doing what I've been doing, listening to my coach. Obviously without him, I wouldn't have been on the podium. He's the main force behind everything.”
Armstrong is always quick to give a lot of the credit to his coach, , the legendary Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, an Olympic champion hammer thrower for the Soviet Union.
“He's an absolute genius,” he said. “He's very smart in how he does his periodization and his programming. With his years expertise and study, he's one of a kind. Athletics Canada hired him six and a half years ago and now he put me on the podium. It really shows what he can do.”
The 30-year-old is the first Canadian in track and field history to win a medal in a throwing event at the world championships or Olympics. It was an important achievement for a Canadian team on which he was the lone serious medal contender entering the event.
“There was a lot of pressure this year to try and get my country a medal. I think I handled it really well and used it as much as I can to train harder and have that drive coming in here. It just shows with a lot of hard work and a lot of support, especially being in the community that I'm from, Kamloops, it's totally awesome. I'm just so happy to bring back my community a medal.”
Armstrong is enjoying his best season ever. He leads the Diamond League circuit with three victories and has the world leading throw of 22.21 metres this season, set at the Canadian championships. There'll be no vacation to enjoy his success as he has seven more meets this season.
“I can do that when I'm a little more older,” he said.
Gold For Usain Bolt In 4th Best 200 In History
Source: www.thestar.com - Raf Casert
(September 03, 2011) DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA—Six days and a slow start later, Usain Bolt finally won gold at the world championships, running the fourth-fastest 200 metres in history to back up his showmanship with a stunning performance.
After he was disqualified Sunday for a false start in the 100 final, which he blamed on “anxiety,” Bolt was slowest out of the blocks in the 200 before driving through the bend and powering to the line in 19.40 seconds. That was only .21 seconds off the world record he set to win his first world title two years ago.
“I was close to the world record,” Bolt said. “Me, I wasn’t in the best of shape, so I wasn’t expecting world record. For me to come here and do 19.4 was a wonderful achievement.”
Knowing he had something to prove, there was no braggadocio during the race. Instead, he gritted his teeth in utter effort over the last 20 metres before dipping across the line for the fastest time in two years.
“I am still the best,” Bolt told an elated crowd of about 45,000 at Daegu Stadium before starting a barefoot dance to a deafening beat. “It was beautiful.”
Walter Dix of the United States won his second sprint silver in 19.70 and Christophe Lemaitre earned bronze with a French record of 19.80.
Bolt was a defending champion coming through on a night of two big upsets at the worlds. In the high jump, Anna Chicherova of Russia beat two-time defending champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, and Matthias De Zordo of Germany overcame favourite Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway to win the men’s javelin.
Before Bolt took to the track, Sally Pearson ran the fastest 100 hurdles race in almost two decades to win gold. Pearson’s time of 12.28 seconds was the fastest since 1992 and moved the Australian up to fourth in the all-time list of performers.
Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont. finished sixth, while Markham native Phylicia George was seventh. Pickering’s Perdita Felicien failed to make the final.
Yet, as so often when Bolt is in the stadium, there is nothing to match the Jamaican.
Before his race, he was fist-bumping with the volunteer who carried his belongings, practised his “Lightning Bolt” move and shushed the crowd with a finger before his lips before he sank into the blocks.
There was going to be no shock disqualification again. With a reaction time of .193 seconds, he was the slowest out of the blocks. But from there on, everything went like a whirlwind.
“I was running hard just to say to fans, ‘Sorry about the 100 metres,’” Bolt said.
Dix was running in Lane 4 just ahead of him and surprisingly held off Bolt for much of the bend.
“I have never ran in Lane 3, ever,” Bolt said. “It was difficult for me.”
But once beyond the bend, it was a foregone conclusion as Bolt put the power on, fully got his knees rolling and left the others standing.
He was eyeing the giant television screen to see he was unchallenged in his favourite event. Yet he kept powering to prove a point that there was no dent in his confidence ahead of the London Olympics.
“There will be no joking round,” Bolt said. “I’ll be serious and I will come out and work hard.”
It was Bolt’s fourth gold over two world championships and he is expected to anchor his country’s 4x100 relay team on Sunday in another Jamaica vs. United States sprint duel.
Allyson Felix now has done three better. The American ran the second leg on the winning 4x400 relay team to claim her seventh gold over four world championships.
Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross failed to get gold in the individual 400 but running the first two legs of the relay, they built such a lead that the outcome was inevitable. They won in 3:18.09.
Behind the Americans, Jamaica took silver in 3:18.71 and Russia earned bronze in 3:19.36.
It was the third straight victory in the event for the United States, while Jamaica has now taken silver at the last four world championships.
The Kenyans flaunted their confidence again on Saturday, extending their dominance of the middle and long-distance events with Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop leading Silas Kiplagat in the 1,500 for yet another Kenyan 1-2 finish.
In the wide-open race, the Kenyans took charge with 600 metres to go and Kiprop pushed hardest to finish in 3:35.69, .23 ahead of his teammate. Matthew Centrowitz of the United States came from behind to take bronze in 3:36.08.
It was the fifth 1-2 finish for the Kenyans.
Earlier, Russia completed a sweep of the walking events, with Sergey Bakulin winning the 50-kilometre race ahead of teammate Denis Nizhegorodov. After Valeriy Borchin and Olga Kaniskina won the 20-kilometre events earlier in the week, Bakulin made sure of a second straight Russian walking sweep at the world championships.
The walks and Chicherova’s victory left Russia in second place in the medal standings with seven gold and 17 medals overall, behind the United States, which has 10 gold and 21 medals overall.
Kenya is third with six gold and 14 medals overall.
TIFF’s Big Opening Gala Gamble Pays Off
Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard
(Sep 07, 2011) For the first time in the 36-year history of the Toronto International Film Festival, the opening-night gala and the parties sandwiching the screening are the hottest tickets in town.
It’s all thanks to TIFF’s decision to ditch the conventional opening feature — usually a Canadian title — for a documentary about the world’s biggest rock band, following the path of festivals like Cannes and Venice that favour star power for the opening slot.
From the Sky Down, starring U2 and directed by Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim, features the tantalizing lure of Bono and The Edge (other band members Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. are not confirmed) walking the red carpet for the world premiere of the movie at Roy Thomson Hall Thursday night. They’ve also been invited to the pre-gala cocktail bash at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and the huge after-party at the Liberty Grand.
Bono, The Edge, Clayton and Mullen have a history of supporting movies about the band, showing up at both Cannes and Sundance festivals to support U2-3D, including an impromptu concert on the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals for the doc’s world premiere in 2007.
The temptation of U2 is working its magic. “It’s U2. It doesn’t get much bigger,” says “Party” Barbara Hershenhorn, who has been organizing TIFF opening bashes for 29 years. Her phone has been ringing almost non-stop with “the usual suspects and U2 fans.”
Festival co-director Cameron Bailey admits “we are seeing a lot more interest” from international press for the opening gala thanks to the U2 connection, an event many out-of-towners generally skip.
“This is the biggest band in the world right now. The tour they launched this year is the biggest-grossing tour ever. They are huge people . . . I can’t measure this against anything. This is something new for us for opening night and I couldn’t be happier.”
This also marks the first year the festival will open with a documentary.
Bailey and TIFF CEO and director Piers Handling broke with long-held tradition of opening TIFF with a Canadian movie two years ago, choosing the Charles Darwin drama Creation to open the fest, rather than the expected film, Adam Egoyan’s Toronto-set sexual thriller Chloe. Last year, they went back to basics with the Canuck ice opera Score: A Hockey Musical. While homegrown crowd- and critic-pleasing movies including The Sweet Hereafter, Les Invasions barbares and Water have opened TIFF, casual observers often wonder why the fest has often opened with less-than-stellar titles.
“TIFF opening night films are invariably pilloried — Passchendaele, Score: A Hockey Musical — as some Can-con sacrificial lamb is sent down the chute towards crowds and critics with knives half-drawn,” replied Los Angeles-based MSN.com movie writer and occasional Star freelancer James Rocchi when asked to weigh in on opening night.
The trouble is, not all filmmakers want their film to open TIFF and persuading those behind a movie to take the slot can be a tough sell.
“If you are looking to show your movie (for the first time) with those famous Toronto audiences, sometimes the opening-night spot is not the best thing,” says Bailey. “It’s a fairly formal occasion. There are speeches that can take a while.”
This year, there’s another new spin that may help with that. Handling has ditched the lengthy speeches in favour of a brief video that gets the laundry list of thank-yous out of the way off the top.
Bailey adds many filmmakers come for the TIFF marketplace hoping to get their title picked up by a distributor that will get it into theatres, so the opening gala slot is a better place for a movie that already has a deal.
“For the big Canadian movies, many of them are looking to use our fest as a launch pad to U.S. distribution. That was true of Chloe and Barney’s Version and Sarah Polley’s movie (Take This Waltz). The distributors will see it for the first time at the festival,” says Bailey.
The buyers and distributors often give the opening-night gala a miss, arriving the following day for the star-packed first weekend of the fest. Similarly the crowd at Roy Thomson Hall “are not hardcore cinephiles. They are there as much for the event as the occasion,” Bailey observes.
USA Today film reporter Susan Wloszczyna has covered TIFF since 1999 and while she always goes to the opening-night film, “I must say that it has rarely resulted in a memorable experience,” she replied in an email exchange. “The only opening-night movie I have seen that made a lasting impression on me was 2003’s wonderful The Barbarian Invasions.”
Anne Thompson, whose Thompson on Hollywood blog appears at Indiewire.com, added the opening gala “is a hit or miss proposition and I often do skip it.”
Not this year. She plans to be here, although Thompson feels some reservations about the subject matter as a film lover. “It’s a little off movies, to make rock stars your central focus.
“It seems to be less about movies and more about spectacle and every film festival has to play to that,” she adds. “New York plays it, Venice does, Cannes does. Toronto is far from pure. They have to balance the rigours of high-level filmmaking with some glitz and style.”
Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert, who has been coming to Toronto since the early days of the festival, adds that TIFF is only doing “(the) same thing Cannes does. Open with a biggie. In a way, it means more for a Canadian film to be selected outside the ‘Canadian slot.’”
A Deeply Atmospheric Mixtape From The Weeknd
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Robert Everett-Green
(September 02, 2011) This nine-song mixtape was released online on a Thursday, and by that Friday had been downloaded by some 180,000 people. Abel Tesfaye, who writes and performs as the Weeknd, may have had reason to wonder whether he shouldn't have asked a few dollars for his music, instead of giving it away for free.
Tesfaye has come this way before, in March, when his House of Balloons - another online freebie - made the elusive Toronto singer a celebrity in the global underground. The album won a place on the Polaris Prize shortlist in July, a couple of weeks before Tesfaye gave his first public concert.
Thursday is said to be the second instalment in a mixtape trilogy; the last is due this fall. Like House of Balloons, the new collection is deeply atmospheric. The clock is stuck at 4 a.m., the hour when the biggest lies are told and the ugliest truths emerge. The songs are about having gone too far with just about everything, and feeling it all curdle on the inside, though sometimes memory trumps the chilled-out emotional residue. If there's a persona here to match the songs' unified texture and nearly unvarying mood, it's a guy for whom the top-of-mind subjects at the bleakest hour of the night are the highs and lows of using and being used, in every sense.
Tesfaye's weightless, nearly colourless voice is the perfect vehicle for this kind of thing: He's a bleached-out soul singer trapped in a place with no soul. He sounds like he could take that voice anywhere he likes, but he's really not going anywhere. His art as a singer is mostly about spinning high delicate roulades over a relatively static base. A few feints in the direction of Middle Eastern music are not misplaced.
It's hard to point to anything much in the way of a tune on this record, but it's bursting with melody - decorative melody, that spins beautifully around an immobile axis. The voice and the instrumentals string out new lines of counterpoint, layering up and paring down, as the music winds its leisurely way to nowhere. Having figured out how to do one thing really well, Tesfaye does it again and again. There's a cold logic here: The songs are about excess, so why not make the music seethe with an excess of melodic variants? The craft is impressive, especially if you only listen to a song or two. In quantity, I find them monotonous, in tone and method.
As with many artists who put so much effort into endless elaboration, Tesfaye can sound obsessive and self-absorbed, which again makes sense for the character he's representing. His most direct come-on line is: "Don't make me make you fall in love with a nigga like me" - a cat's cradle of narcissistic desire and faux self-loathing.
In The Life of the Party, a grim cabaret stomp, his panting vocals manage to sound aroused and detached at the same time. "I can't feel a damn thing," he sings in The Zone, just before Drake appears for a rap cameo that makes you realize, by its relatively earthy diction, how otherworldly the whole Weeknd sound image is. One exception: The Birds, Part 1, in which the canned drum beats of other tracks give way to big drums beating a bold tattoo, as if striking up a march to the scaffold of the heart. Another: Heaven or Las Vegas, a reggae-flavoured, two-chord vamp that suddenly comes alive when the bass kicks out a robust new rhythm at the end of the verse. If I had to chose, I'd say that was the Vegas part.
OTHER NEW RELEASES
This band of Malian musicians was refused entry to Canada this summer and had to drop out of two folk festivals, a huge loss for both the group and the festivals. Fortunately, Citizenship and Immigration can't stop this superb new recording from reminding us what a great creative ensemble Tinariwen is. The music (mostly written by lead singer and guitarist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib) is about exile in all forms, physical, cultural and emotional. "We share our suffering as we might a glass of tea," he sings in Asuf d Alwa (Longing and Loneliness). Most songs unfold over an unmodulating groove built from hand percussion and porous guitar lines. The clipped, nimble guitar style heard in Tameyawt has no counterpart in Western popular music. TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone contributes to a few tracks, Iswegh Attay sounds like Tinariwen's tribute to Western folk-song form, and Terene taqhim tossam is sung partly in English, but the core of this disc is a kind of blues native only to the north African desert. Robert Everett-Green
Tha Carter IV
Lil Wayne (Cash Money/Universal)
Like a lot of rappers who started in the nineties, Lil Wayne prefers making cleverly worded threats to listlessly reciting brand names. Worryingly, he's the only superstar left who does, which might explain why the former teen heartthrob seems on his ninth solo album to be going through a mid-life crisis at age 28. As on 2008's Tha Carter III, Wayne mostly takes centre stage on Tha Carter IV to prove again that he can carry a 72-minute album for thugs (John brings a grandiose Rick Ross lyric to a chop shop, then a gun show) and ladies (So Special, an ode so insincere, it's almost cute) on the strength of his bombastic personality and filthy wit. But while those are largely intact, the trait that made Tha Carter IV so anticipated is missing - Lil Wayne's imagination, which wouldn't let him settle for a lazy pun when a tongue-twisting string of bizarre ones were available. Dave Morris
Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
Ry Cooder (Nonesuch/Warner)
"Republicans changed the lock on the heavenly door / keys to the kingdom don't fit no more." On his essential latest album, the folk-music-encyclopedic Ry Cooder shouts elegantly, charismatically and rhythmically from America's ruins, offering 13 songs of dissent set diversely in style and voices. John Lee Hooker for President runs on the boogie-chillin' ticket and proposes a supreme court as a sort of judicial harem. There is much Mexican music: The norteño El Corrido de Jesse James has a gunslinger wishing frontier justice on Wall Street's elite - the same bad guys who figure in the stingy, beery sing-along No Banker Left Behind. A good listen, all told, from a hero we can trust. Brad Wheeler
Deep Blue Organ Trio (Origin)
The "Wonder" in Wonderful is Stevie, whose tunes provide the Deep Blue crew with its material here, but don't imagine that makes this a Tamla-beat workout. Guitarist Bobby Broom, organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham really crafted the arrangements here, maintaining Wonder's sense of melody and harmony while resetting his songs as swing tunes or jazz waltzes. And while there's plenty of groove to the playing - Broom is as dynamic a rhythm player as he is a soloist - these three never treat the songs as an excuse to show off, keeping the music lean, focused and soulful. J.D. Considine
Eminem Wins Appeal In Royalty Lawsuit
Source: www.hiphopdx.com - by Rashad Phillips
(Sep 07, 2011) A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of Eminem's former production company in a 2009 suit filed against Aftermath Records and Universal Music Group. The original suit, filed in 2004, called for an increased royalty share of the alleged $2.5 million Eminem's digital downloads made between 2003 and 2008.
Friday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Eminem and F.B.T. Productions were entitled to a 50-50 split with Universal for all recordings licensed to digital distributors such as iTunes. Various sources report UMG previously paid Eminem and F.B.T. a 12 percent royalty rate for music licensed to digital distributors, which is the agreed-upon rate for physical albums.
UPDATE: After the ruling, Universal released the following statement: "We will be filing a petition for a rehearing. In the meantime, it should be noted that this ruling sets no legal precedent as it only concerns the language of one specific recording agreement. Any assertion to the contrary is simply not true."
Ethan Smith, of the Wall Street Journal's "Digits" legal blog, explains the wording of the ruling makes the distinction that even when a customer pays for a song from iTunes or a similar digital distribution service, they are licensing the song, and not purchasing it.
"Even in some cases in which only older recordings of an artist continue to be distributed by a given label, the label and the artist have gone back to hash out the issues surrounding digital downloads," Smith notes.
Further rulings by the court, based on UMG's anticipated petition will determine if the new language in the ruling is just semantics or the beginning of a massive change in how labels and artists do business with iTunes.
Hathaway Takes Us ‘Where it All Begins’
Source: www.eurweb.com - Tosha Whitten-Griggs, The Front Page Firm; Joel Amsterdam, Stax/Concord
(Sep 05, 2011) *Lalah Hathaway, one of contemporary R&B’s most prized artists and in-demand vocalists will release her sixth solo album and second for Stax Records, “Where It All Begins” on October 18, 2011.
The versatile, critically-acclaimed musician, songwriter, vocalist and producer found creative regeneration and new found energy making this record, an artistic re-birth she’s eager to share with anyone willing to listen.
“Everybody is an artist in some way,” Hathaway enthuses, “I wanted to explore what that really means. For me it meant walking into being the artist I’ve always wanted to be. It was an opportunity for me to embrace my independence as an artist through my music and connection to my fans.”
Hathaway brings that message home splendidly on the gorgeous title track, penned by her and Ernest Green. “If you say what you mean/And mean what you say,” she croons at the beginning of “Where It All Begins,” showcasing her sensual alto over a languid, hypnotic groove.
In addition to Green, Hathaway recruited other esteemed kindred spirits to either co-write or contribute tailor-made tunes. The list includes Lewis Williams, Lee Hutson, Jr., Errol Cooney, James Day, James Fauntleroy, Rahsaan Patterson, Terrence Lilly, Jonathan Richmond, Mike City, Dave Young, Bryan Sledge, Eddie Serrano, Rich King, Andre Harris and Vidal Davis. Recruiting such top-tier songwriters – some of who have penned hits for Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Bilal, Babyface, Musiq Soulchild, and host of others, demonstrates Hathaway’s long-held status in contemporary R&B.
This album contains several up-tempo gems that are sure to heat up urban radio stations and nightclubs. For example, check out “If You Want To,” the album’s thumping, synth-driven first single, penned with Patterson, Richmond, and Lilly and the effervescent “My Everything,” which she co-wrote with Jonathan Richmond. The slinky groove of Hutson, Jr.’s “Small of My Back” is also undeniable.
“Where It All Begins” comes on the heels of Hathaway’s most successful album to date, 2008′s “Self Portrait,” her first record for legendary soul label Stax Records. The album reached the top ten on the Top R&B Albums chart and included the Grammy® nominated (Best Female R&B Vocal) song “That Was Then.”
Indeed, Hathaway intoxicates as a storyteller. Even though her voice brims with magnetism, she never overpowers to the point of drowning out the lyrics. As with previous albums, “Where It All Begins” comes loaded with enduring songs that sound personal yet easily relatable, touching upon affairs of the heart as well as the everyday joys of life.
The disc comes on strong from the get-go. Andre Harris and Vidal Davis’ gutsy “Strong Woman,” is a sassy cautionary tale, urging lotharios to step up to the plate and stop taking their devoted female lovers for granted.
Naturally, the singer hasn’t abandoned her R&B roots. “Where It All Begins” includes luxurious slow jams such as “This Could Be Love” (co-written with Green and Lewis), on which she sings of joys and fears of truly falling in love with that someone special, and City’s bittersweet “Always Love You,” which hints of the sadness of leaving an unfulfilling romantic relationship.
Hard-core fans will certainly be delighted with the newly arranged and recorded “I’m Coming Back,” a Quiet-Storm jewel, written by Gary Taylor, which appeared on her 1990 eponymous debut. It’s a song that’s remained a highlight of her live shows for two decades. “No matter, where I go – churches, festivals, Japan, South Africa – people love that song,” Hathaway says, “This version has a different arrangement, because it’s morphed over the years. I decided to rerecord it. We added vocalist Rachelle Ferrell at the end, which is really sublime.”
When it comes to honoring her predecessors, perhaps there’s no other greater example on “Where It All Begins” than with her spellbinding take on “You Were Meant For Me,” a chestnut that her late father – the incomparable Donny Hathaway recorded.
In view of Donny Hathaway’s landmark albums and indisputable influence on generations of singers worldwide, she speaks of him as a guiding light, especially when it comes to interpreting other people’s music. “I really listened to my dad’s own songs,” Hathaway says fondly. “‘Jealous Guy’ by John Lennon – I always thought my father owned that,” she laughs. “I just grew up with the approach of opening yourself up to create something beautiful, that’s a love letter to what came before.”
On “Where It All Begins,” Lalah Hathaway unquestionably succeeds at opening herself up in new and profound ways, striving for artistic higher ground and to ‘create something beautiful.’ “I feel like I’m at the top of my game, like I’m at the beginning again,” she says, excitedly. “There aren’t many artists, particularly female singers, who after 20 years, are kind of still on the come up. I feel like I’m on the come up.”
To hear Lalah Hathaway’s new single “If You Want To” please visit: www.lalahhathaway.com or click the player immediately below:
CONTROL ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.10 If You Want To | Lalah Hathaway by concordmusicgroup
Visit Lalah Hathaway on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LalahHathaway
Follow Lalah Hathaway on Twitter: @lalahhathaway
If You Want To | Lalah Hathaway by concordmusicgroup
Meet New Age
Recording Artist Marlena Jeter
Source: Stan Sheppard, firstname.lastname@example.org
(August 30, 2011) *New Age recording artist “Marlena Jeter” could never in a million years have imagined that her new EP of “beautiful mood music” entitled “SERENITY” would catch the attention of Multi-Platinum artists in Pop Music and in “Hard Core” Rap Music as well!
As strange as this sounds, that is precisely what is happening with this new project and from all early indicators, the music industry might just be witnessing 2011′s most “Unusual Breakout Artist Of The Year” award in the making.
MARLENA JETER has been touring and singing with recording industry royalty such as “ELTON JOHN”, “LINDA RONDSTAT”, “LIONEL RICHIE”, “AARON NEVELL” and “TIMOTHY SCHMIT” of “THE EAGLES” for over 20 years and now she has embarked on a new phase of her career which culminated in the production of this new album called “SERENITY” which is being released through LADY J ENT.
The new album first started making in-roads in the Hip Hop community when super producer “DJ BATTLECAT” ( producer of Platinum hits for SNOOP DOGG, DR DRE, BUSTA RHYMES ) heard the recordings in a Los Angeles studio and started to share the information about the album with other artists and producers because he was so blown away by what he heard. Then, the Multi-Platinum Rap artist named “KOKANE” heard the project and he immediately became a MARLENA JETER fan and he too started to spread the word to everyone he came into contact with. As “DJ BATTLECAT” put it. “when I want to kick back, relax and forget any negatives in my life I put on some MARLENA JETER and I’m good.”
Equally impressive were the quotes from “TIMOTHY SCHMIT” of “THE EAGLES”
who said “Marlena’s voice is only exceeded by having the pleasure of meeting her in person. When you experience the whole package, you are in for a treat. A truly beautiful singer in every way.”
Linda Rondstat, who has also performed extensively with Marlena Jeter also stated, “Marlena’s voice sounds like pieces of silk chiffon floating on the breeze.”
Listening to this new album, it is quite obvious that MARLENA JETER is a New Age star in the making. Her beautiful musical textures and melodic vocals are a work of beauty that should be experienced by everyone. Now do yourself a favor … “GO TO iTUNES and other digital outlets and GET IT NOW. YOU WILL LOVE IT.”
Williams Has Died
(Sep 05, 2011) *A report at SoulTracks.com says Maze’s McKinley “Bug” Williams has died.
Williams, the band’s longtime percussionist, passed away in Chattanooga, Tennessee last Friday, September 2 according to an EUR source.
The story goes that he wasn’t feeling well at practice and went to his room. Someone noticed that he left his door opened and went in to check on him, but he was unresponsive. At that point he was rushed to a local hospital where he later died.
Williams, born in Philadelphia, was a lifelong friend of Frankie Beverly and formed Maze with Beverly following their transition out of a group called the Butlers, Soul Tracks reported.
“I’ve never really played with anyone else,” says Williams about Frankie Beverly at the Maze website. “I always wanted the same basic things that Frank wanted for the band and my attitude was, ‘let’s take it to the max.’”
As of this posting, specific details of Williams’ age, death and funeral services were not available.
Our condolences to the Williams family and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
Peter Bjorn And John Come Alive
Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner
(Sep 01, 2011) Peter, Bjorn and John are known for a lot of things — elevated pop songwriting and impeccable production taste chief among them — but rocking out has never been one of them.
The thing is they can rock out. They like to rock out. They've become so good at rocking out onstage over their 13 years as a band, in fact, that they finally decided to commit some evidence to tape this year in the form of their sixth album, Gimme Some. If only, says singer/guitarist Peter Moren, so they no longer have to hear from people how surprised they are by the rough-and-ready live show.
“Basically, we've been touring a lot for the last five or six years and we've become a pretty good live band so we wanted to reflect that on the record,” says Moren from a tour stop in Columbus, Ohio.
“The previous records are a bit smoother and softer or whatever, and when people see the live show and it's very energetic, rock ‘n' roll, power-pop, guitar freakouts — it's kind of a big difference from the records. So we wanted to make a record that reflects what we do onstage.
“The way we approached the recording was to work a bit more beforehand and try to nail live takes. It didn't work on all the songs, but most of the songs are guitar, bass and drums in a room. We did some overdubs, but the arrangements are sort of self-contained within the three instruments.
“It was back to basics, back to the roots. Our older stuff, before we were known, was a bit more like this, so it's not a super-new thing for us. It's more of a refinement of our roots.”
Despite its punkish energy and emphasis on brisk, guitar-guided melodies, Gimme Some isn't a far cry from Peter, Bjorn and John's earlier work.
Indeed, after the creative sojourning that followed 2006's Writer's Block and the massive international hit “Young Folks” — an entire album's worth of breezy instrumentals on 2008's Seaside Rock, followed by a successful synth-pop makeover for 2009's Living Thing — the fun new record is, in many respects, the pop homecoming some fans have been awaiting for five years.
Moren doesn't see the records in between as particularly different from their predecessors, mind you. It's all in the presentation he and bandmates Bjorn Yttling and John Eriksson choose to put forward at a given moment.
“They could have sounded like this, too,” he says. “When we first toured this record, we rearranged some of the Living Thing songs and they actually worked very well as guitar-based songs, as well. ‘It Don't Move Me' sounds like a Kinks song now and it sounded like a Depeche Mode song on the record.
“It's all pop music, in the end. I guess that's what ties them all together.”
Moren lacks an explanation for where Peter, Bjorn and John's endless supply of hooks come from.
Melody is “just ingrained in us,” he says, joking that perhaps the band — like the rest of the gifted popsmiths, from Robyn and Jens Lekman on down to Roxette and Ace of Base, who just keep pouring out of their native Sweden — has picked up “some ABBA genes or something.”
He's even tried to write some “unmelodic” songs from time to time “as an experiment, but it doesn't really come out that way ... There's just something very appealing about making a really good pop song.”
Gimme Some has served its purpose, in any case. Live, this album works better than any of its predecessors, says Moren, and the shows for this tour — two more of which go down on Friday and Saturday night at Lee's Palace — have been the wildest of Peter, Bjorn and John's collective career.
The act of touring itself, he laughs, isn't quite so crazy.
“My wife is coming along at the end and Bjorn has his family with him, so it's kind of a more ‘grown-up' way of touring,” he says. “That's the funny thing — our music is getting wilder and we are getting tamer.
“The shows right now are much more powerful and energetic than they've ever been but afterwards we go straight to bed. Maybe that's why they're energetic. We're not drunk.”
Rahsaan Patterson on his Road to ‘Bleuphoria’
(Sep 05, 2011) *On Tuesday, R&B workhorse Rahsaan Patterson releases his 6th album “Bleuphoria,” a soulful, passionate collection that takes listeners deep into the particular colour of love he experienced during a recent relationship.
“Normally people equate the colour of love to red because of what we see in Hallmark cards with the heart being red. But the feeling and the depth of it for me resonated as blue,” Patterson tells EURweb exclusively. “Emotions have colour, songs have colour, music has colour; that’s why we feel them so much when we hear them. The depth of love is infinite and I related that to the sky and the earth and the sea.”
Patterson enlisted a number of his friends to help convey this ‘Bleuphoria’ feeling, including Shanice, Faith Evans, Jody Watley , Tata Vega and Lalah Hathaway. But don’t expect to hear all of them singing verses.
“They contributed to my record not necessarily as featured artists. None of them are duets,” explains Patterson. “They’re guest vocalists and they have featured spaces – like Tata Vega sings adlibs at the end of ‘Mountaintop,’ Shanice adlibs at the end of ‘Crazy,’ Faith Evans sings background vocals on ‘Crazy’ and Lalah Hathaway sings background vocals on the current single ‘6 AM.’” [Scroll down to listen.]
“I’ve never really been big on albums that use the feature of 20 other artists to help propel and sell their records,” said Patterson. “I’ve always been very comfortable with me selling me without needing the assistance of someone else’s name to gain interest in my music. For example, Van Hunt always participated in my records, but I didn’t have to say, ‘featuring Van Hunt.’”
Speaking of Van Hunt, the singer-producer did not participate in the “Bleuphoria” sessions but Patterson’s other long-time collaborators Jamey Jaz and Keith Crouch do contribute to the Artistry Music project, and for the first time, Patterson produced two of the album’s tracks all by his lonesome.
“This record was about challenging myself and furthering myself as a musician and a producer and being able to be comfortable with that in terms of sharing it with the world,” he said. “So at this point, I’m taking the reins and presenting , not only to the world, but to Jamie Van and Keith what I’ve learned from them.”
So what happened with Van Hunt?
“I miss working with him, and the only reason why we haven’t worked together is just – he’s been doing his life and I’ve been doing mine,” says Patterson without elaborating.
At age 37, Rahsaan can look back on 27 years in the industry – first as a child star on the 1980s TV show “Kids Incorporated” and later as backup vocalist and writer before signing with MCA in 1997 for his self-titled debut. While music critics have been relentless in their praise of Patterson’s voice and songwriting, his albums sales have not been quite as robust. Still fans of the Bronx native are extremely loyal, both in the states and overseas.
“Because I started so young and because fate and the universe has just supported me in my existence, I believe it has done that because my spirit has been genuine; my being, my craft and my communication through my craft are authentic, and I feel I’m rewarded for that by the universe,” says Patterson. “That has helped sustain my career as well as having the support of the people who have been affected by my persona and my spirit and music.
“The people who have followed me from the time that I was 10-years-old till now, they’ve watched a boy mature and grow into a man and into the artist that I am today. I think all of that contributes to my staying power.”
Patterson says he’s no longer in the relationship that inspired “Bleuphoria,” which was recorded from 2008 through 2010. In the bonus audio below, he explains how this person just wasn’t ready to go to the level of love that he was prepared to go for.
Shei Atkins Kicks
‘Judgmental’ Gospel Audiences to the Curb for R&B
(Sep 02, 2011) *It’s not at all unheard of for a gospel artist to go secular. After all before Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls and Johnny Taylor were huge R&B/jazz & blues icons, they were gospel singers.
Lately that hasn’t been the case, but with recent news from Gospel Today, we find out that Shei Atkins is making the switch to R&B.
“Although I love God’s people, I can’t waste years trying to break this mentality and use that as an excuse for not doing what God told me to do.” – Shei Atkins
With these and other words, singer, Shei Atkins announced via an open letter published at Gospel Hip Hop site, DaSouth.com, that she is leaving Gospel to become an R&B artist. Atkins, a former Grammy-nominated artist went on to explain her decision-making process (see below) and offered strong opinions about Gospel audiences as “judgmental.”
She finished her personal note with these words:
I want to say that regardless of what genre of music I sing, know that I’m on a mission for God to go out INTO the world and be a godly example. Luke 5:10 says “Fear not, from now on you will be ?shing for people.” And that’s what I am doing; becoming all things to all men that I may by all means save some. If you can’t see and understand my vision, just pray for me. Don’t judge me. My music may not be for you, but know that I am reaching people and that I’m on God’s side
Read/learn MORE at GospelToday.com.
Give The People
What They Want: EUR Reviews The O’Jays, Four Tops & Stylistics
(Sep 05, 2011) *Thousands of Soul music lovers flocked to the beautiful Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park as summer drew to a close to be reminded of another time; a time during which they came of age, they fell in love, fell out of love, married, had children and smiled broadly. To serve as tour guides on this trip back in time were The Stylistics, The Four Tops and The O’Jays … oh yes, there was some sangin’ going on that night!
Promptly at 8:00 pm The Stylistics took to the stage and set the evening off on the right note with “I’m Stone in Love with You” then proceeded to unleash classic after classic in rapid fire succession, barely leaving time for the crowd to catch its collective breath after singing along. “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart),” “You Are Everything,” “Betcha by Golly Wow,” “Break Up to Make Up” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New” followed, raising the temperature in the outdoor venue. The Stylistics returned to their hometown of Philadelphia 43 years later, with two of the group’s original members (Herbert Murrell & Airrion Love) and a new album: That Same Way. They didn’t miss a beat or a note and if “Your Love Turned My Life Around” is any indication, the new album hasn’t strayed from the formula that’s made them favourites for over four decades.
Watching The Four Tops is witnessing history; the group was as instrumental in the “Motown Sound” as anyone and the music made during that period has stood the test of time, as did the group without a personnel change until 1997. It was in ’97 that Lawrence Payton passed away and over the next eleven years, Obie Benson and the legendary lead singer Levi Stubbs will also succumb to illnesses. The deaths of his friends leave Abdul “Duke” Fakir as the only surviving member and creates an emotional aura around performances, as the nostalgic feeling of the great Tops songs are always on stage next to him as he performs next to current lineup which includes, Spike Bonart, Ronald McNeir and Lawrence “Roquel” Peyton Jr.
At 76, Duke was in step or in his own step with the rest of the group, but he was always in tune. The hits were there: “Standing in the Shadows of Love”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got), “Bernadette”, “It’s the Same Old Song” and the timeless “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”, but it was a medley that served as a dedication to the original members that stole the show. In tribute to his father, Lawrence Jr., accompanied by his younger brother sung a soul-stirring rendition of Luther Vandross’ “Dance with My Father”, before Duke stood center stage, alone and sang a reworked version of the Sinatra classic “My Way.” Duke’s version, “Our Way” worked in the success of the group, as well as the false starts, but as he sang, “It was God’s grace” that turned things their way.
By this time, people were drying their eyes and still attempting to dry themselves from the moving and grooving they had done up until that point of the evening, but the showstoppers were on deck. While the first two acts had showed up and showed act, it was obvious that those in attendance came to see The O’Jays, as the dozens of shirts bearing their image with the words “Philadelphia Soul” printed above it proved. When the last dimmed and the M.C. started his introduction, the anticipation reached a near fevered pitch as a medley of their hits played in the background and they remained offstage for another two minutes, heads swiveled from side-to-side hoping to catch the first glance of the group.
Finally, they emerged: Eric Nolan Grant, Walter Williams and Eddie Levert took the stage and their microphones as well as the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance that evening. It was all a blur to me, I sat amazed that I was watching the mighty, mighty O’Jays; I don’t remember the first few songs performed at all, though I think they were “Unity” and “Only the Strong Survive.” Top-20 songs are what make up The O’Jays catalog and there are far too many of them to perform in one night, so they performed a bit of what everyone came to see and all of what we loved.
Nearly 50 years in our hearts and Walter Williams’ voice is still as velvety smooth as when you first heard “Forever Mine”, but 33 years and a couple weeks of living, I felt like I had never known life until I heard Eddie Levert live. After he performed his verse of “Lovin You” the crowd was buzzing after being blown away by the force of his voice and we were his, theirs, for the remainder of the night. It was closing in on midnight when they finished “Love Train” and those in attendance wanted more, much more, but there was nothing left but memories; memories of a time during which we came of age, fell in love, fell out of love, married, had children, smiled broadly and of a night in Philadelphia when we relived it all.
That’s all the people really want…
Iranian Sounds Get Tuneup For Today
Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford
(Sep 06, 2011) Hafez Nazeri holds a modern version of the ancient stringed instrument, the setar, in his hands. Made of 700-year old hickory, it is both the creation of Nazeri and a symbol of what he is trying to do in writing the Rumi Symphony which is being performed at the Sony Centre Sept. 10 in a show titled Iranian Sounds of Peace.
Iranian music has been locked in tradition for too long, he says in an interview in Toronto as he prepares for the concert. It is time to shake things up and introduce it to the Western world with creative flourishes born of his world travels.
“We close our eyes, we improvise,” Nazeri says of traditional Iranian music, which adheres to ancient practices and reveres elder musicians. “People came to see us as if we were in a museum.
“Why can't we come out into the world? We are preserving the tradition but integrating it with harmony and structure of the Western classical music that is sophisticated and evolved over 700 years.”
His father Shahram Nazeri, who's joining him for Saturday's concert, is one of Iran's most famous musicians — he's known as the Pavarotti of Iran. For 40 years, the elder Nazeri has been putting the words of poet Rumi, who wrote 800 years ago, emphasizing values of “love, peace and unity” to music.
Hafez Nazeri was raised in a house filled with the best musicians of his country and frequently travelled with his father to Europe for his performances, playing in his ensemble as a teenager.
Now 32, Nazeri says he became aware of how isolated Iran was culturally and how little was known about his country's culture and music elsewhere.
He studied music in New York, receiving his student visa — which he applied for in Paris — shortly after 9/11. It was an astounding piece of luck, he admits, and he was aided in his application by the dean of the Mannes College, the New School for Music who'd “written a letter like you'd write for Mozart.”
Unlike all the other music geniuses at the school from around the world, he had received no training in Western music and had to start from scratch to learn composition, orchestration and history of global music traditions.
Now a U.S. resident and living in New York, Nazeri has returned to Iran to perform but feels his greater mission is to take Iran's new music to the world. That's one of the reasons he reinvented the ancient four-stringed setar (not to be confused with the sitar) into a six-stringed instrument with a lower register and greater capacity for instrumentation. It is called the Hafez — not after its creator, but after a Persian poet.
Nazeri chose the poetry of Rumi for his symphony because he is not only revered in Iran but is also popular with North American audiences drawn to his message of peace and harmony. Premiered recently in New York, the symphony will receive it Canadian premiere at the Sony Centre.
Although he knows many people of Iranian heritage will attend the concert, Nazeri is hoping that others will be drawn to the new music created out of tradition and inspiration.
“My dream is to open the boundaries and make music that is universal.”
Just the Facts
Who: Hafez and Shahram Nazeri
When: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m.
Where: Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E.
Tickets: $30-$209 via Ticketmaster
Otis Williams Grateful for Heroes & Legends Honour
(Sep 05, 2011) *Otis Williams, the sole survivor of the original line-up of The Temptations – Motown’s premier male vocal group that helped build a Black-American musical empire – is still going strong!
“I carry it on for them,” he says in reference (and with reverence) to his fallen brothers Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams. Without missing a beat he says he just got word the day before that Icon a recently released compilation CD of classic Temptations songs like “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination” just sold over one hundred thousand copies. He says no other group can boast the duration and adaptability of The Temptations who won Motown’s fist Grammy with the success of their recording “Cloud Nine.”
This year the Heroes and Legends (HAL) Awards Scholarship Foundation will be acknowledging The Temptations for their unending and tireless work extended over five decades in the music industry. Williams says when they signed the contract at Motown in May of 1961, he never in his wildest dreams thought it would go this far. After 50 years, the group is still touring, and their latest album Still Here says it all.
Along with Williams, the current Tempts line-up includes Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon, and Bruce Williamson.
The HAL Awards, founded by veteran Motown songwriter Janie Bradford who co-wrote such hits as “Money” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby,” has a twofold primary purpose; first, to help talented young people realize their lofty-but-attainable dreams of shaping careers for themselves in one of the many performing arts through scholarship funding; and second, to spotlight positive role models from many diverse backgrounds including leaders in the fields of music, theatre, motion pictures, and business each year. Additional honourees this year will be Bobby Womack, Ray Parker, Jay Brown, and Sonja Norwood among others.
“It’s a wonderful acknowledgement (for the group) says Williams. About 10 or 12 years ago I was recognized (by HAL) as the sole survivor, but it’s wonderful for the group to be acknowledged.”
Cornelius Grant who was The Temptations’ Music Director for nearly 20 years says of Williams: “For a person to have weathered such a storm and to have emerged in good health and still performing is amazing! It still does me proud to have been a part of such a stellar legacy. I still feel connected when I watch The Temptations mini-series, and their live stage performances, which include some of the songs I co-wrote for them.” It’s interesting to note that both Grant and Williams were born in Texas, but both consider Detroit as home.
As a world traveler and performer, Williams says he is humbled and grateful that The Temptations songs are recognized globally. He says “Music is boundless and colorless…we have gone to countries…like in Gdansk Poland they may not speak English, but they know ‘My Girl’ word for word. Those songs have taken on another life. When we walk out on stage we get a standing ovation, and it brings me to tears…blessings to God.”
Speaking on the downside of success, Williams says “We [the Tempts] made a promise we would not let success ruin us…like Frankie Lymon, The Cadillacs, and others. We shot ourselves in the foot, but we were young and we made mistakes.”
Williams gives a lot of credit to songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield for musically retooling and redirecting The Temptations musically after Ruffin was replaced by Dennis Edwards in 1968. They garnered another Grammy in the early ’70′s with the blockbuster “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”
About Detroit he says, “We played there about three weeks ago, and I was hurt by what they had done to my city. I still call it ‘my city’. Although I was born in Texas, Detroit was my home. Detroit was a beautiful city of about two million people. Now it’s about seven or eight hundred thousand.” He says early Motown songs used to go perfectly with the seasons there in Detroit. He recalls recording the album “Christmas Card” that contained their phenomenal version of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (among others) in the Spring, and when it was released in time for Christmas “it was magical!”
Williams says he’s been somewhat of a wordsmith since age 15. He’s known for such one-liner words of wisdom like “You cannot use yourself as a yardstick to measure yourself by” and “It’ll do in a rush, but who’s in a rush?” He plans to collect all of his writings and sayings in a book someday.
Motown founder Berry Gordy is currently working on a Broadway play about the Motown story. Williams says there is a possibility in perhaps a couple years or so, that Mr. Gordy may produce a play on the life story of The Temptations. We’ll stay tuned for that.
On the Temptations.com website Williams says, “Our challenge is to live in the present while respecting the past. Our past is filled with riches that only a fool would discard. At the same time we thrive on competition. As a Motowner, I grew up in the most competitive musical environment imaginable. But we also understand that for a group with history, no matter how glorious that history might be, reinvention is the name of the game.”
The HAL Awards festivities will take place from September 23rd – 25th 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. For more information please contact the foundation at (310) 274-1609, or send an e-mail to email@example.com. A list of past honorees may be found on the internet.
VIDEO: Sonny Rollins among 2011 Kennedy Center Honours Class
(Sep 07, 2011) *Musician Sonny Rollins was announced today as part of the five cultural icons whose creative work will be celebrated at the 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honours airing Tuesday, Dec. 27 on CBS.
Rollins will be joined Actress Meryl Streep, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins and singer Barbara Cook.
“This year, the Kennedy Center selects five extraordinary individuals whose collective artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” says Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein.
“Saxophonist Rollins’ masterful improvisation and powerful presence have infused the truly American art form of jazz with passion and energy,” he noted in a statement.
The honourees will be given an evening of tributes and performances by their peers and fans while seated next to President Barack Obama and the First Lady at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
The Center’s Board of Trustees chooses each year’s recipients for their body of work and contributions to American culture through the performing arts. Past honourees have included Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Robert De Niro, and Steven Spielberg.
Below, Sonny Rollins – St. Thomas – Sonny Rollins (Tenor Sax), Kenny Drew (Piano), Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen (Bass); Albert “Tootie” Heath (Drums)
Keith Urban: Get Closer, And Not To The Lyric Sheet
Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill
(Sep 07, 2011) “I like it when people can put their hands on the stage,” Nashville-based, New Zealand-born, Australian-raised country-rocker Keith Urban said over the phone last week from the home he shares in America’s country music capital with his wife, Australian movie star/producer Nicole Kidman.
“I have to feel connected to the audience.”
It’s that hands-across-the-stagelights connection, honed during years working Australia’s rowdy pub circuit before he moved to Nashville in 1992, that has sustained Urban’s career in America through a series of highs and lows.
Those peaks and valleys included drug and alcohol-related rehab and relapse, marriage to a megawatt movie star, first-time fatherhood, seven top-charting albums, hit singles too numerous to count and a wall full of major music industry awards.
Now 38 dates into a massive North American tour that brings him to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre Saturday night, the multi-award-winning star said he’s more than happy with the spectacular new stage he designed, which features extensions that allow him to perform out in the audience, as well as a six-storey TV screen.
“It has a specific shape and a layout that makes the arena feel more intimate, more like a club,” he said.
“The stage is low and round at the front, and there are no barriers and no security between the band and the crowd. I got sick of looking out over this huge no man’s land and not being able to see people’s faces.”
Among country music stars — even though Urban’s brand of country music would have given Bryan Adams a run for his arena-rock money back in the 1980s — Urban is one of the most personable, transparent and approachable. There’s not much about him that seems manufactured.
But if you’re looking for clues to his personal life in the songs on his most recent album, Get Closer — most written with a small coterie of regular collaborators, some submitted by other writers — you won’t have much luck.
There is a touching dedication on the CD cover to his wife:
“Nicole Mary — I continue to be brought to my knees by this love of ours ... I am in awe of how this blessed family we are creating stretches and fearlessly opens my vulnerable heart ... and I just want to be a better man, for you, and father for our heavenly Sunday Rose, and have you go to sleep every night knowing that no one has ever, or will ever, love you as much I do ... and all we need is faith ...”
And some lines in “Without You” touch on marriage and parenthood, and the changes they made in his vagabond life:
“The travelling, the singing ... the fast cars, the guitars/ They are all just second to this life, this love that you and I’ve been dreamin’ of for so long.
“Along comes a baby girl, and suddenly my little world just got a whole lot bigger/ People that I barely knew, love me ’cause I’m part of you/ Man, it’s tough to figure.”
But that’s as revealing as it gets. And that’s the idea, said Urban, who refuses to talk about his marriage and Kidman in interviews.
“These are songs about relationships, but they’re not necessarily about mine. I had no particular theme in mind when I started writing, but over time certain threads started to emerge.
“My songs get a lot of scrutiny because of who I’m married to. I wish people could put that aside. It’s not necessarily that they’ll be mistaken by what they read into a lyric, but it’s very limiting. The songs are about more than that.”
Two days before he was scheduled to begin recording the songs that would eventually become Get Closer, Urban got the shock of his life.
“The clouds started rolling in and the rain came down in sheets for two days, and by the Monday morning I was supposed to start, all my guitars were underwater,” he said.
Urban wasn’t the only picker in Nashville who lost beloved instruments — most of them priceless vintage guitars — in the floods that submerged much of Tennessee in May 2010.
“There were dozens like me lined up along the police barricades outside the storage facility where our guitars were kept,” he said. “We couldn’t get in to rescue them for four or five days ... the water was too deep, too dangerous, and all the power lines were down.”
Urban lost 50 guitars in that flood, including a 1962 Gibson ES-335 (worth between $20,000 and $30,000 U.S.), but he didn’t panic.
“I know a lot of guitar players in Nashville and I started calling around to see what I could borrow. I went in eBay and bought others ... so I had the tools I needed to start work.
“Fedex packages would arrive at the studio, and I’d unpack the guitars, plug them in and start playing. We didn’t waste any time setting them up or customizing them.”
When he retrieved his own waterlogged instruments, the cache of 30 years of meticulous collecting, Urban packed them off to one of several vintage guitar restorers in Nashville.
“It has been a good year if you’re in the guitar repair business down here,” he said. “Most of mine have been fixed and refinished ... there’s still a dozen to go ... but they’re worth a fraction of what they were worth before the flood, because they’re no longer in pristine vintage condition.
“That doesn’t bother me ... I didn’t collect them as investments; I bought them to play.
“And when I started out, I’d play with whatever I could get my hands on ... it was like the early days all over again.”
If it’s true that the only really happy people are those who get to live the life they imagined for themselves as children, Keith Urban seems the very embodiment of contentment.
“It was always my goal to make it in Nashville and to live here,” he said. “We have a place in Australia, and we get back there a couple of times a year, but Nashville is our home and we’re very happy here.
“And far from resenting me for it, my friends and fans in Australia seem all the more supportive ... maybe because I’ve done what I set out to do.”
Besides, Nashville is no longer the tightly sealed conservative company town it used to be.
“It’s really bursting with new ideas and great music now,” Urban said. “All the old barriers are breaking down, mostly because of the Internet and changes in the way music is marketed.
“I’ve never been fond of labels anyway. They get in the way. I never thought about genres when I started listening to music — everything from Elton John to Jackson Browne — and I don’t think about them when I’m making music.
“I live in the song, whatever it is ... I always have.”
U2 Fans -- Bono And The Edge Want To Answer Your Questions
Source: www.thestar.com - by: Peter Howell
(Sep 06, 2011) U2 fans -- Bono and The Edge want to answer your questions during TIFF, via Twitter and the web. The front man and guitarist for Ireland's rock powerhouse await your questioning tweets via #THESKYDOWN, which can be used until noon EDT Friday, Sept. 9. They'll answer as many as they can manage beginning 1:30 p.m. Friday, joined by Davis Guggenheim, director of From the Sky Down, their gala opening-night film at TIFF. The discussion will be moderated by TIFF's docs programmer Thom Powers, and carried live on tiff.net. From the Sky Down, set to world-premiere at Roy Thomson Hall on Thursday, tells the stories behind the songs of Achtung, Baby, the band's 1991 album.
Larry Blackmon Exclusive: Cameo Working on New Double CD Set
(Sep 06, 2011) *EURWeb’s own Lee Bailey caught up with the legendary Larry Blackmon of funk band Cameo and got the full scoop on an upcoming studio album that would be their first since 2000’s “Sexy Sweet Thing.” “It’s traditional Cameo,” said Blackmon, 55, of the album’s direction. “It’s what we feel like doing now and what we might be doing in the future. It should be interesting.” Cameo circa 2011, which includes band members Aaron Mills, Charlie Singleton and Anthony Lockett, have been spending the past decade touring – deliberately. “We wanted to go back to how we started,” said Blackmon. “Instead of doing it like recording, then touring, then recording, then touring, we went back to touring year round. It keeps us fresh. After a while it becomes monotonous and we had to take a break, but then we went back to touring, and now we’re recording.” In the audio bonus below, Blackmon talks more about the new album, and if any of today’s R&B sound will have an influence on the project.
Lauryn Hill and Former Fugees Bandmate Pras Light Up NYC Stage
(Sep 06, 2011) *On Sunday night, New York City nearly got a full on Fugees reunion during this year’s Rock the Bells Festival. While Lauryn Hill was on stage she introduced her former band mate Pras Michel, who joined her in singing the hip hop trio’s “Ready or Not” and “Killing Me Softly.” The two haven’t been on stage together since 2006, just before the group split up for the second time. But this session on stage was a glorious one, full of congratulatory praise. It also was an event that might re-spark rumors of a Fugees reunion. However, Wyclef and Lauryn have been pretty adamant about there being no plans to come back together.
Will You Flatter The CBC For Feist Tickets?
Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian
(Sep 07, 2011) Toronto CBC Radio One's Metro Morning is not exactly Pitchfork (or, ahem, John Sakamoto's Anti-Hit List) when it comes to finding new music, but it's not without its little musical surprises. For one thing, this morning on the show, Feist announced a surprise concert Oct. 8 at the Glenn Gould Studio, to show off her hotly anticipated new album Metals. For another, it's a show the public can't get into ... unless you enter the CBC's contest. Fans must go to the contest website by Sept. 23. and write something about "the band or musician that you discovered thanks to the CBC." (UPDATE: Tickets also available through Metro Morning, though there are no details yet as to how.) All eligible entries go into a random draw and winners (there'll be 20 or more) get not only two tickets each, but free airfare and accommodation. Beyond that, music fans, dig the guest list for the show: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste, the Constantines' Bry Webb, the Hidden Cameras' Joel Gibb, and Doug Paisley. Gulp. Feist does play Massey Hall on Dec. 1, so if you haven't discovered any music via the MotherCorp, your place is there. That'll teach you. Here's a sample of what's coming in Metals, from Feist's secret show earlier this month in California:
Mos Def to Change Rap Name in 2012
(Sep 07, 2011) *Mos Def, whose real name is Dante Terrell Smith, has announced that he’s letting go of his rap name at the end of 2011 and will take on the new moniker, Yasiin. He told “Mtv2′s Sucker Free” show, “Mos Def is a name that I built and cultivated over the years; it’s a name that the streets taught me, a figure of speech that was given to me by the culture and by my environment, and I feel I’ve done quite a bit with that name and it’s time to expand and move on. “Also, I didn’t want to have to deal with having any moniker or separation between the self that I see and know myself as.”
Clive Owen Could Be TIFF's Poster Boy For Unsung Heroes
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald
(Sep 07, 2011) The final countdown is on for Thursday's kick-off to the Toronto International Film Festival, and every film buff in this soon-to-be-chaotic town is already drooling to get a glimpse of the A-list - the Georges, the Rachels, the Brads and the Ryans.
But the festival also attracts hundreds of other talented stars, and they're not B-list. They include great actors who just don't seem to attract the frenzied crowds or the shutterbugs who relentlessly pursue the stars dining, partying or walking the red carpets. Actors, for instance, like the acclaimed Tilda Swinton, coming to town to promote a film about the mother of a boy who massacres his high-school classmates - controversial subject matter that audiences may shy away from. Or the brash Jason Patric (grandson of Jackie Gleason) who is brilliant this year in the Canadian film Keyhole, but flopped in the action thriller The Losers last year.
But the biggest unsung master of his craft at TIFF this year may be Clive Owen, an actor who gained Hollywood's respect with his performance in Croupier, was Oscar-nominated for the ensemble drama Closer, and was robbed, many felt, of an Oscar nomination for his work in Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men.
As celebrities go, the working-class lad from Coventry is something of an enigma. Rumoured to have been in the running to succeed Pierce Brosnan as the next James Bond (he lost out to fellow Brit Daniel Craig), the 46-year-old is the unflappable go-to guy for a steady stream of top directors, from Mike Nichols to Spike Lee, who say they can always count on Owen to nail characters who are sympathetic but potentially explosive.
But despite critical acclaim for his acting chops, the classically trained Owen nevertheless remains just below popular radar, quietly churning out both indie films and blockbusters. His work ranges from the cult film Sin City to historical pieces such as Return of the Native, the late Robert Altman's Gosford Park, and last year's Trust, in which he plays a father whose teenage daughter is stalked by an Internet predator.
So why the low profile, despite a prolific, three-decade career that includes almost 60 film, TV and stage credits?
Former Friends star David Schwimmer, who directed Trust with Owen, says it's simple: The actor shuns the limelight. When not working, he prefers to focus on raising his two young daughters, Hannah and Eve, and spending time with his wife of 16 years, actress Sarah-Jane Fenton. He's rarely snapped by the paparazzi and lives an uncluttered, quiet life in Harwich, England.
When Owen is working, he's focused on, yes, the work.
"Clive is one of the hardest-working, multi-layered actors I've had the pleasure to work with," said Schwimmer. "He's a consummate professional, who shows up on set every day with his A-game. I was absolutely thrilled when he agreed to be part of my little movie. In fact, I could hardly believe it."
Owen explained his decision to join in on Trust as a personal one. At a press conference for the movie, he said he could relate to an anguished dad trying to protect a teenage daughter who is about to make one of the biggest mistakes of her young life.
"My kids are of an age right now where it's all about the Internet, and relating to friends on the Internet," he said at the time. "So the script just really resonated with me. I found it very moving."
Owen has said that's his main motivation - to "tell stories that speak to me." And so he's eschewed the usual formula of going from small films to bigger and bigger blockbusters to instead carve out an offbeat, idiosyncratic career, deliberately choosing disparate parts in a mixed bag of genres.
This weekend, for instance, Owen's back in Toronto doing the media circuit on two new films - a shoot-'em-up espionage thriller called Killer Elite (also starring Jason Statham and Robert De Niro) and a horror/psychological drama, Intruders, in which he is once again a distraught dad, trying to protect a 13-year-old daughter who has been assaulted in their home.
After that comes HBO film Hemingway & Gellhorn, in which Owen plays the Nobel-prize-winning writer during his marriage to journalist Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman). Then he'll switch gears yet again, starring in a film directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire) called Shadow Dancer, a genre thriller set in tumultuous Northern Ireland.
Owen's mixture of tenderness and smoulder gives him the versatility to play a wide variety of roles: great for a working actor, but perhaps a detriment to mega-stardom. All of which makes him the ideal poster boy for a festival that is a unique blend of commercial films with artistic cachet and art-house films for the masses.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Clive Owen is one unsung actor at TIFF - but he's in good company with these fellow scene-stealers coming to the festival.
The Emmy winner has drawn rave reviews as Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher with terminal lung cancer, in the AMC drama Breaking Bad. The show has netted the American film and TV star three consecutive Emmy Awards. At TIFF, he stars alongside Ryan Gosling in the thriller Drive as the younger man's long-suffering mentor and friend.
The boyish-looking actor broke out in 2009's charming 500 Days of Summer, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. In the cancer comedy 50/50, showing at TIFF, he is a young man battling for his life with the help of his overbearing mom (Angelica Huston) and his rough-around-the-edges best friend (Seth Rogen). Gordon-Levitt carries the film with finesse, delivering a touching but humorous performance in a film about a disease that is anything but funny.
Nominated for two best supporting actress Oscars for Being John Malkovich and Capote, Keener is Owen's female equivalent - the actress who can play it all, from a grieving mom in Trust to her two new TIFF entries, the romantic comedies The Oranges and Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.
Only 22, the British actress has already won widespread acclaim for her work in serious dramas (Atonement, Notes on a Scandal) and raucous comedies (Year One). At TIFF, she's in another U.S. comedy, Killer Joe (currently in competition at Venice) with co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch. She's also landed a part in next summer's star-laden blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises from director Christopher Nolan.
TIFF And U2: A Perfect Fit
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Rick Groen
(September 02, 2011) Each was born 35 years ago this month - both starting out small before morphing into powerful players with global influence. Each deftly mingles commerce and celebrity, while wielding major artistic clout and adroitly raising money for the causes it backs. As TIFF breaks new ground by opening its 2011 program with a much-anticipated documentary about U2, examines the remarkably parallel paths forged by a world-changing festival and a world-shaking band
Next Thursday evening, when the lights dim at Roy Thomson Hall, the gala audience will sit back to watch something never before seen in the opening-night history of the Toronto International Film Festival: a documentary. But nothing unsettling that might rattle their jewellery, not one of those downbeat treatises starring man's folly. Nope, this isn't just any documentary - it's a rock doc. And it doesn't feature just any band - From the Sky Down spotlights, in the expansive phrase of TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey, "the biggest rock band in the world right now." In short, U2.
Well, the questions are obvious. Why break tradition to kick things off with a doc? And why this particular doc? Addressing the first, Bailey offers tradition itself as a motive: "There's always been a strong documentary component to the festival and this is a country with a rich history in documentaries." True enough, although, with stellar names like Beryl Fox and Donald Brittain and the National Film Board fading with every passing decade, that "rich history" is cited too often as a smug generality. So allow me to be specific for a second.
This year, Nick Broomfield brings his doc Sarah Palin - You Betcha! to the festival. But that film wouldn't have been possible, nor would much of Broomfield's oeuvre, nor would Michael Moore's reputation-making Roger & Me, without the original template of a witty documentary done at the NFB back in 1974 by Michael Rubbo - his Waiting for Fidel invented the stalkumentary. It's pleasant to remember that our rich history penetrates right to the present.
Of course, a taste for filmed "reality" is in vogue these days, or at least, at the pop level, a taste for that soft "reality TV" version typically accompanied by singing and dancing and celebs of varying stripes. Which brings us, then, to the second question: Why this U2 doc? Certainly, the band is no stranger to the camera - the lads have been paraded on the big screen before, in the likes of U2: Rattle and Hum and U2 3D. Even Davis Guggenheim, the director of From the Sky Down, had an earlier flirtation, showcasing The Edge in his study of rock guitarists, It Might Get Loud.
Naturally, by way of explanation, Bailey puts an artsy spin on things, citing Guggenheim for his Oscar-winning success in An Inconvenient Truth, and for "his way of dealing with well-known prominent people and getting behind their personas." To that end, the film sees the band members revisiting that period in '91 when, amid the confines of a Berlin studio, they struggled to renew themselves creatively, and eventually emerged with Achtung Baby. For all these reasons, then, Bailey concludes of the opening-night selection: "We thought it was the best fit for us."
Actually, the fit is far better than he might have realized. Since U2 and TIFF have both become "prominent" in their own way, let's follow Guggenheim's lead and do a little digging "behind the personas." Hey, it turns out the two have a whole lot in common, beginning with this curious bit of trivia: They share the same birthday. Each was born in September, 1976, flirting with different names before settling on their current handle. Both started out small, grew bigger, then got huge - U2 into today's colossus status; TIFF into a globally significant festival that, while still lacking the prestige of the venerable Cannes, beats the hell out of the old gal in sheer numbers - 336 films in this fall's accounting.
To house their size, both have built their own accommodations - the band, a vast stage for the vaster stadiums it now plays; and the festival, its shiny new Lightbox. That's not to suggest quantity has entirely eclipsed quality. Each definitely possesses a serious artistic side. Few would deny that the U2 catalogue contains some enduring rock anthems. Similarly, pick at random 10 movies from the TIFF program, compare them to 10 chosen from the usual multiplex fare on any given Friday, and the relative aesthetic merit will be patently obvious. In Toronto, every September, cinema enjoys a brief resurrection.
What's more, in developing their artistry, the rockers and the programmers alike have reached out to embrace international influences while still clinging to their roots - U2 takes pride in being an Irish band; TIFF takes pains to fly, and preserve, the flag of Cancon. For both, their relationship with Americana seems, like most cases of mutual dependency, to be a love-hate affair. They need the Yanks and, happy surprise, the Yanks have come to need them. Big money is involved.
Speaking of lucre, there's no doubt that U2 and TIFF share very shrewd commercial instincts. They know how to amass cash for themselves, and have invited criticism for their zeal - the band, by sheltering its gains in tax havens; the fest, by boasting more corporate sponsors than the boards on a dozen hockey rinks. Yet they're equally adroit at raising money for the causes they espouse - for Bono and U2, social and political causes; for the festival, the cause of cinema, advanced year-long in that Lightbox, which is an invaluable (and underappreciated) repository of art flicks and auteur retrospectives.
Now, in this age, like any other, commerce and celebrity are close cousins with linked powers, a fact acutely understood by the band no less than by the festival. Bono is a wizard at using his celebrity, often in collaboration with the media, to publicize his social concerns. For example, he's assumed a "guest editor" role at several newspapers (including this one) to enhance public awareness of African famine and debt relief. There, the deal is clear-cut: He gets to promote his social message, the newspaper gets his presence, both parties are satisfied.
With Hollywood's eager help, TIFF deploys its celebrities in the same skilful way, trotting them out on red carpets and in interview rooms for the collaborating media. Again, a clear-cut deal: George Clooney gets to promote his movie, the press gets his presence, both parties are satisfied.
As depicted in Guggenheim's film, U2 has laboured over the years, sometimes openly and disputatiously, to chart new creative ground. TIFF, well, not so much. Its ascent has been a smooth upward arc, with the inevitable sacrifice of intimacy to the well-oiled machine. The struggle here is not so much creative as political - to maintain its democratic reputation as a "people's festival" in an increasingly corporate atmosphere. Squabbling, if it happens, is internal and never public.
So on to Thursday night, when the festival will open by hitching its wagon to a rock star or four. That's a local first, but hardly a novelty. Directors, and some very good ones, have been wagon-hitching since pretty much the dawn of rock 'n' roll - D.A. Pennebaker in Don't Look Back, Michael Wadleigh in Woodstock, Martin Scorsese in The Last Waltz, Jonathan Demme in Stop Making Sense.
The festival has every good reason to follow suit. From the Sky Down may be a great film, it may suck, but artistry takes a back seat on this gala occasion. What matters is that the boys of U2 are up on TIFF's screen, and perhaps in TIFF's audience, too. What matters is the fit - and it's damn near perfect.
Q&A: From the Sky Down Director Davis Guggenheim
Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell
(Sep 07, 2011) Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim first helped a U2 member touch the sky after he directed axeman The Edge in It Might Get Loud, a 2008 salute to rock guitar.
But Guggenheim’s involvement with From the Sky Down, his U2 doc world-premiering Thursday as TIFF’s gala opener, really started way back with Boy, the band’s 1980 debut album. That’s when he became a fan.
“My brother brought home Boy the year I was 17,” says Guggenheim, 47, en route to Toronto for the big show.
“Up to that point, I loved music but it was someone else’s music. And when I heard Boy it was like, ‘Oh, this is my music, you know?’
“U2 was the first band that I grew up with and felt a kinship with. So I’m a big fan, which is maybe a problem. As a journalist, it’s like covering a murder in your own home: How do you keep your sense of objectivity and perspective?”
Having worked with The Edge previously was “my way in” to U2’s tight brotherhood, Guggenheim says. But these Irish superstars had also seen and appreciated his previous docs, which include the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth and the Sundance-winning Waiting for “Superman.”
They’d also seen Thom Zimny’s The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Stephen Kijak’s Stones in Exile, docs from last year chronicling the birth of important Bruce Springsteen and Rolling Stones album.
U2 wanted their own doc for 1991’s Achtung Baby, their seventh album, which marked a changing point for the group’s sound and identity, moving from sloganeering rock towards dance abandon.
Earlier this year, The Edge, singer Bono, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. asked Davis to make what became From the Sky Down, the first doc to open TIFF in its 36-year history.
“I think I should be happy about that,” Davis says of the historical precedent. “Is it good enough to do that?”
Fans will be the ultimate judge, but first, the details.
Q. You could have picked a more conventional U2 album to celebrate, such as the breakthrough 1987 disc The Joshua Tree. Why Achtung Baby?
A. What I was drawn to was how they felt about that moment in their life. Each of them had a very different perspective, but it was definitely a tumultuous time for them. It was a time when they either had to reinvent themselves or perish. They reinvented themselves in an incredible way, but it was touch and go!
Q. How does Achtung Baby rank on your list of U2 faves?
A. What’s incredible about U2 is that it’s hard to pick. With the Rolling Stones, I could say Exile on Main Street is my favourite album. U2 albums are so wildly different, from Boy to Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby. But it’s certainly one of my favourites. And now, knowing the story, it’s amazing that a band at the height of their popularity chooses to go completely the other way. All the fans wanted was another “Where the Streets Have No Name” and they gave them the exact opposite. I think that’s what’s unique about the band: the way they continue to reinvent themselves.
Q. It’s incredible that it’s still just the four original guys, decades later.
A. Can you believe it? They met at school when they were 16 and 17. They grew up together and they stayed together. There seems to be a law of physics that says a rock band has to explode or implode or die away as a sort of memory of themselves. And they’ve defied that law of physics. To me, that’s the big mystery of the band. I think the revelatory word in the movie, in this regard, is “collective.”
Q. In the film you show Bono calling out chord changes, as the group rehearses for its Glastonbury Festival performance last June. Is Bono always this much in charge?
A. I think this is a better question for them, but I get a sense it was always that way: that it’s very collaborative and a collective but he’s the guy calling out the chords, you know? But they each bring something to the table. That’s my sense of it.
Q. The film uses archival footage to focus on the writing of “Mysterious Ways” and “One” as the two Achtung Baby tracks of greatest importance. How did this come about?
A. It’s magic. I did these solo interviews with them, just sitting down with a microphone, and got these intimate interviews and each one of them talked about that moment when nothing was working (during the Achtung Baby sessions) and they were just mad as hell at each other and nothing was coming out of it. . .
And then this song (“Mysterious Ways”) happens. And I go, “Well, this is the moment. Let’s go after it.” We went into the archive and the original recordings from those sessions were there. They were playing “Mysterious Ways” and these chords arrived for “One,” and then the next moment when they pull those chords out to start another song, and wow! It’s like you’re an archaeologist and you’re digging through the dirt and the rubble and you find this stone that holds the key to this mystery.
Q. The band members coined the word “Bongolese” to describe how Bono uses an improvised scat singing method to come up with song lyrics. Does he do that for every song?
A. I don’t know if it’s for every song but he does it a lot. What’s interesting, and it’s where the title of the movie comes from, is how he talks about how the words come at the end and, in the middle of that, he’s doing this thing conjuring up the melody and conjuring up the feeling, and words are kind of an afterthought.
Q. Did you get any feel for where the band is headed now? Do they feel rejuvenated?
A. We didn’t talk about “now.” Maybe I should have, but we just didn’t talk about it. I know they’re deep into the next album. There’s an excitement about it.
Eddie Murphy To Host The Oscars
Source: www.thestar.com - Reuters
(Sep 06, 2011) LOS ANGELES — Comedian Eddie Murphy, whose movies range from Beverly Hills Cop to voicing the smart-mouthed donkey in Shrek, has been picked to host the Academy Awards in February for the first time in his career.
Tuesday’s announcement makes Oscar organizers appear as if they are aiming for laughs in 2012, after this year’s performance by co-hosts, dramatic actors Anne Hathaway and James Franco, fell flat with critics and many viewers.
The hosting job pairs Murphy, who began performing stand-up comedy at age 15 before joining TV’s Saturday Night Live, with director Brett Ratner, another Oscar first-timer best known for action movies and comedies.
Alongside Ratner’s Oscar co-producer Don Mischer, the pair bring a decidedly comic edge to the show that has tried to stay relevant among young and mainstream moviegoers as its major awards in recent years primarily have gone to dramas aimed mostly at older audiences.
In a statement, Murphy said he was honoured to be joining the likes of Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg, among the many hosts of the show that next year will see its 84th edition.
“Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever,” Ratner said in a statement.
“With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances – especially on stage – I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February,” he said.
The move is a distinct departure from recent years in which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has focused on variety and elaborate song-and-dance numbers by hosts or co-hosts including Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.
For this past February’s show, the producers were Mischer and Bruce Cohen, who helped bring dramas such as American Beauty and Milk to movie theatres. Last year, the producers included Adam Shankman, director of the musical Hairspray.
By contrast, Ratner is the director of movies such as the Rush Hour cop series and comic book flick X-Men: The Last Stand. He is well-known to have a knowledge and love of film history, which is why the Academy chose him and he, in turn, brought Murphy to Hollywood’s biggest awards program.
“I’m looking forward to working with Brett and Don on creating a show that is enjoyable for both the fans at home and for the audience at the Kodak Theatre as we all come together to celebrate and recognize the great film contributions and collaborations from the past year,” Murphy said.
Murphy, 50, made his feature film debut in 1982 with the buddy comedy 48 Hours and went on to star in the Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor and Shrek franchises. All told, movies in which he has performed have earned more than $7 billion at global box offices, the Academy said.
TIFF’s Tiny Toronto Festival Competition
Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson
(Sep 02, 2011) THE OTHER FESTS: For a Toronto film festival to go up against September’s big kahuna takes considerable daring. This year, there are three smaller fests taking place at the same time as TIFF — how’s that for guts?
Launching the same night as TIFF at the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Ave.), the second annual Toronto Independent Film Festival bills itself as a “headline event for micro-budget and low-budget films in North America.” The list of local filmmakers represented in the program includes Adam Ciolfi. A stop-motion animated fantasy flick that was 16 years in the making, Ciolfi’s feature The Lady of Names opens the festival on Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. And unlike that other opening gala event happening elsewhere in town, this one will only cost you a toonie.
Among the other Toronto-made selections is Killer God, a horror thriller screening Sept. 9 at 9:30 p.m. As for the American entries making world premieres, Blue Collar Boys is a working-class drama that marks the feature debut of New Jersey boy Mark Nistico — it screens Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. The Toronto Independent Film Festival runs to Sept. 17
Taking place at various venues at Harbourfront Centre, the CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase celebrates the burgeoning film and television scene in the Caribbean. It launches Sept. 7 with a free “Trini-style” fest at Lakeside Terrace honouring TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey. That event is followed by the North American premieres of two new films, including Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle, a new documentary about the renowned diva of calypso music. More shorts, docs and features screen through to Sept. 17.
The only one of this trio of fests that can boast a reach even greater than TIFF, the Toronto Urban Film Festival reaches 1.3 million daily commuters with a slate of minute-long films to be shown on the TTC’s network of subway platform screens between Sept. 9 and 18. Now in its fifth year, TUFF offers a lively smattering of live-action and animated works that are explicitly designed for the shortest of attention spans. Entries from all over the world will be vying for prizes, with Atom Egoyan serving as this year’s guest judge.
WOUND: Since the late ’70s, New Zealand’s David Blyth has been making weird little horror movies with titles like Death Warmed Over and Damn Laser Vampires. The Toronto branch of his cult following will be pleased to know that the Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard St. E.) is brave enough to present a run of his latest Sept. 2 to 8.
A supernatural horror film with a psychosexual twist, Wound is the lurid story of a young woman’s descent into madness and her quest for bloody revenge on the family members who wronged her. One group of concerned citizens in New Zealand called for the movie to be banned, which can only be considered an accolade to a filmmaker like Blyth.
BATMAN RETURNS — LIVE!: Tim Burton’s second and final contribution to the Batman franchise, Batman Returns remains one of the weirdest superhero movies Hollywood ever produced. Not so well loved by critics or audiences at the time of its release in 1992, it’s built up a devoted cadre of admirers, some of whom are set to perform a shadowcast version of the film on Friday at 9:30 p.m. at the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Ave.).
For those unfamiliar with the term, a “shadowcast” is a live performance of a movie with actors doing their best to stay in synch with the stars on screen. Think Rocky Horror Picture Show, except in this case the performers will wear even more black latex than usual.
NENETTE: What with the success of Project Nim and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it’s been a boffo year for primates at the movies. Ape lovers can add one more to their must-see list when Nenette — a thought-provoking film by French documentarian Nicolas Philibert about a 40-year-old orangutan who lives in a Paris zoo — plays a theatrical run at the Projection Booth starting Sept. 9. Screenings will be strictly BYOB (bring your own bananas).
AN ETHIOPIAN ROM-COM: It’s a rare occasion for Ethiopian movies of any kind to hit Toronto screens, but a romantic comedy? Now that’s intriguing. Presented at the Royal (608 College St.) with English subtitles, Bale Taxiew plays Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.
Hollywood’s Summer: More Dollars But Fewer Fans
Source: www.thestar.com - By David Germain
(Sep 02, 2011) LOS ANGELES—The good news for Hollywood: summer movie revenues are up worldwide as studios rebounded from a dismally slow start to the year.
The bad news: Domestically, revenues rose only a fraction compared to the previous year’s, while actual movie attendance dropped for the fourth-straight year.
Taken together, the summers of 2010 and 2011 combined for the smallest domestic audiences since the summers of 1997-98. Since peaking at a modern high of 653 million tickets sold in summer 2002, domestic attendance has wavered generally downward, dipping to 551 million in summer 2010 and sliding again this summer to 543 million, according to projections from box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
One so-so summer can be an aberration, when the movies simply failed to grab fans. Two so-so summers in a row are a sign of the tough task studios face to keep butts in theatre seats at a time when audiences have more entertainment options than ever.
“One down summer you could lay at the doorstep of a lack of quality films, audience indifference, whatever. But more than one or two years becomes a trend, and we’re seeing this downward trend in attendance,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Emerging technology combined with an audience that is trying to figure out how they want to consume their entertainment is creating this situation.”
Making matters worse, Hollywood took a weather hit last weekend, with business down steeply because many East Coast theatres closed to ride out Hurricane Irene.
Many in Hollywood expected summer 2011 to be a knock-it-out-of-the-park season. The summer was jammed with superhero sagas, huge animated sequels and action franchises that studio executives predicted would quickly lift the industry out of a deep rut after the year began with a weak run of movies.
Summer did erase most of this year’s deficit on revenues, which back in spring had been running as much as 20 per cent behind last year’s.
According to Hollywood.com, domestic receipts from the first weekend in May through Labour Day weekend should finish at a record $4.38 billion, up 0.7 per cent from summer 2010. But factoring in this year’s higher ticket prices, actual attendance will be down 1.4 per cent.
Studio executives get defensive comparing this year to last, saying the early part of 2010 made for an unfair contrast because blockbusters such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland were keeping theatres jammed. By comparison, the early months of this year were a quiet time at theatres, digging a hole for a business that’s always looking for the next box-office record.
“The challenge the whole industry found itself in was a testament to the films in the market last year,” said Dave Hollis, head of distribution at Disney. “It creates a story that is frankly less about 2011 than it is about the amazingness of 2010.”
For the year, revenues now are running 4.3 per cent behind 2010’s, a big recovery since spring. But it’s not as good as projected in May, when some Hollywood executives were predicting that this year’s revenues would shoot past last year’s by early summer.
Still, some of this summer’s films delivered spectacularly, including $300 million megahits Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. And while most franchise films packed in big crowds, they often did not live up to the domestic returns of their predecessors, among them Cars 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2 and X-Men: First Class.
Surprise smashes such as Bridesmaids, The Smurfs and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were offset by duds like Green Lantern and Cowboys & Aliens. Except for the Transformers sequel, domestic audiences turned blasé about 3-D movies, with fans no longer as willing to shell out an extra few dollars for the added dimension.
On the flipside, overseas audiences were hungry for 3-D and Hollywood movies in general. While Johnny Depp’s fourth Pirates of the Caribbean flick managed a franchise low $240 million domestically, it pulled in a colossal $800 million internationally, joining the latest Transformers instalment and the Harry Potter finale to make a threesome of billion-dollar worldwide hits this summer.
“Communication with the Internet and everything else has just made the world a lot smaller place,” said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., whose $1 billion overseas haul for the Harry Potter finale will exceed the entire world total rung up by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the franchise’s previous top-grosser. “The growth in the exhibition business has without any doubt been international.”
Only seven other movies had topped $1 billion previously, led by James Cameron’s Avatar at $2.8 billion and Titanic at $1.8 billion.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 provided a suitable send-off for young wizard Harry, the finale taking in a record $482 million worldwide through opening weekend and climbing to No. 3 all-time with $1.3 billion.
Along with The Hangover sequel and Bridesmaids, other R-rated comedies such as Horrible Bosses and Bad Teacher scored with audiences.
In a season that normally caters to young action and comedy fans, older adult crowds also had some nice choices with the late-summer dramatic smash The Help and Woody Allen’s biggest hit in decades, Midnight in Paris.
Though attendance is not what it was a few years back, studio executives seem satisfied with the crowds that turned out this summer and talk hopefully about a strong finish to the year with new instalments of Twilight, Sherlock Holmes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Happy Feet and other franchises.
“The thing that comes clear out of all of this is that the business is healthy and well. It’s not the doom and gloom pieces that you kind of heard earlier in the year,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony Pictures. “With all the holiday product, there should be a lot of money there all the way through the end of the year.”
Jimmy Kimmel To Broadcast From TIFF
Source: 680News.com Staff
(Sep 01, 2011) Toronto Tourism has announced that Jimmy Kimmel has signed on to broadcast segments of his late-night show from Toronto during the week of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Kimmel and his sidekick, Guillermo, will report live from red carpets at various movie premieres around town.
Vice President of Communications for Tourism Toronto, Andrew Weir, told 680News that Kimmel's 1.8-million fans will see our city every night.
"Jimmy's coming and Guillermo's coming. Guillermo, the parking attendant but also Jimmy's roving reporter that he sends out all over the place to report back to him, so we'll have both of them here in Toronto. I think they've got some surprises planned but the idea is to have some segments from Toronto every night and they'll really be featuring Toronto that week," said Weir.
Two lucky fans will also have a chance to meet the popular late night host while he is in town.
"Two winners have a chance to meet Jimmy while he's in town. We've got the Jimmy and Me contest, it's running on Tourism Toronto's facebook page. Not only meet Jimmy but attend the One By One foundation concert at the Kool Haus on Saturday night, two tickets to a TIFF film, stay at a hotel and dinner for two downtown," said Weir.
Kimmel and Guillermo will report from Toronto from September 12 to 15.
Regurgitates A Memorable Scene
Source: www.thestar.com - By Colleen Barry
(Sep 01, 2011) VENICE, ITALY—The most memorable scene in Roman Polanski’s new film Carnage belongs to Oscar-winner Kate Winslet.
Just ask her kids. Winslet says they haven’t forgotten about the day she had to projectile vomit on set.
“My kids came to work for the vomit day, and I am so thrilled that they were there because they literally have not stopped talking about it since. It was hysterical,” Winslet told a news conference Thursday ahead of the world premiere of Polanski’s latest film in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
Based on the play by Yasmina Reza, The God of Carnage, the film is a sort of Lord of the Flies for the adult set — where civilized intentions go horribly awry as each character reveals their baser sides.
The satire packed with comic moments stars Winslet and Christoph Waltz as husband and wife Nancy and Alan, appearing opposite Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly as Penelope and Michael — two sets of parents who meet to sort out the details of a playground fight that left one of the boys with swollen lips and broken teeth.
The parents manage to maintain the appearance decorum as they niggle over whether Nancy and Alan’s son was armed with a stick, or just holding one. But rigid Penelope’s assertion that the parents of the alleged bully lack interest in their son’s behaviour was more than Winslet’s Nancy could stomach, literally.
Fittingly, Nancy projectile vomits the cobbler they have been eating — all over Penelope’s cherished and rare art books.
Though the stunt required Winslet to operate a complex apparatus, Reilly disputes that Winslet had the toughest job.
“While Kate was the one who threw up, Jody and I had to clean up the vomit, so we had the more disgusting involvement with the vomit,” Reilly said.
The all-star cast said they got on famously, and were united in praise of Polanski, who skipped the premiere.
“If Roman Polanski invites you to join in any project, you really don’t say no,” Winslet said. “I had seen the play in New York so I was already very much a fan on the piece. I just felt extremely fortunate to be included.”
Polanski’s movements are restricted by an Interpol warrant in effect for 188 countries for extradition to the United States to face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He moves freely between Switzerland, which refused to extradite him, and France, which has a blanket policy of not extraditing its citizens.
Carnage is set in Brooklyn, but shot on a soundstage near Paris over six weeks. Most of the action takes place inside an apartment, which was constructed to allow the actors to move seamlessly through the space. Brief exterior shots show the boys fighting at a riverside park — and later give the film a bittersweet postscript.
“The use of space was actually a very precise and confined and minimal and detailed affair,” Waltz said. “But that is exactly Roman’s forte. The precision, the detail, the exactitude. The microscopic way of working.”
Polanski had the actors rehearse the script like a play, memorizing the entire screenplay and then doing run through after run through. While the screenplay was similar to the script, Winslet said the tone and rhythm were different — creating a unique piece.
“The whole thing was actually shot in story order from start to finish, which I don’t think any of us have ever experienced in film before,” Winslet said.
Nick Nolte Talks War And Peace
Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara
(Sep 01, 2011) Director Gavin O’Connor must be a very forgiving man. A few years back, just as shooting was slated to begin on his cop family drama Pride and Glory, Nick Nolte, one of the film’s stars, went AWOL.
“I had some issues and basically I had to go back to L.A. and get a knee transplant. So you would think he wouldn’t want to hire me,” the gravel-voiced actor recalled.
“He (O’Connor) still has the message on his phone and every once in a while he’ll play it for me, you know, and say, ‘This is what you did to me,’” Nolte said.
But the two men stayed in touch and when it came time to cast Warrior and the role of Paddy Conlon, the recovering alcoholic father of two sons who find themselves pitted against each other in a Mixed Martial Arts tournament with a multi-million-dollar purse, O’Connor tapped Nolte for the role.
Shortly after filming began in Pittsburgh, Nolte once again put their friendship to the test.
“He asked me not to drink during the film and I violated that the first week,” he confessed with a dry chuckle.
“He said, ‘What am I going to do? You promised me.’ And I said, ‘Well Gavin, I would just make the rules a little more stringent.’ And he said, ‘Like how?’ And I said, ‘Well, I have to hang out with Jimmy from Pittsburgh and I have to do something for the city of Pittsburgh,’” Nolte recalled.
“Jimmy from Pittsburgh” is an ex-psychiatric patient and poet of a similar vintage as Nolte (70 years old) and his poetry focuses on his lifetime of narcotics-fuelled experiences.
“So I just hung out with Jimmy from Pittsburgh,” Nolte said.
The second part of the deal involved speaking at a public event at Steelers Stadium to commemorate those killed by handguns in the city over the previous six years.
When the day arrived, Jimmy, whom Nolte could clearly see was “disturbed,” told him five police officers had been shot the evening before, three of whom died.
Nolte made a special effort to meet with and comfort the children of the slain and wounded officers at a police precinct, an event that was publicized on local television and, after that, he was warmly embraced by the people of the city.
“Cabs would stop and if I wanted a ride someplace, a bus would stop,” he recalled.
The script O’Connor wrote for Warrior, which opens in Toronto theatres Sept. 9, was “brilliant” but Nolte said he was initially uncomfortable because he was unfamiliar with the sport, a view that changed once he met the fighters and their families.
“It’s a form of fighting that has an art to it; it’s got some art to it,” Nolte allowed.
Nolte also praised co-stars Tom Hardy, an English actor who plays his son, Tom, and Joel Edgerton, an Australian actor who plays his other son, Brendan.
“They’re both brilliant, both very unique and I’m sure they’ll be big in their own rights. Tom Hardy, he’s just got a lot of energy running through him . . . and Joel, you know, the Australians have always turned out good actors,” Nolte said.
And while he sees fighting as a metaphor for life — “a simplified sense of the energy one has to put into life in order to live” — he’s no fan of the warrior breed in general.
“If you were to pick the genetic top, you wouldn’t pick the guy with the muscles and the violence. You’d pick the guy that could make everybody work together. That’s the evolved human, somebody who works for the betterment of all,” Nolte said.
“You Canadians have it in spades. In America, it’s a little bit established toward individualism, it’s a little bit more skewed. That’s why it goes a little bit more wacky down here,” he added, again with a dry chuckle.
Nolte is a friend of Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who commanded UN forces in Rwanda in 1994 but was unable to prevent the slaughter of hundreds of thousands. Nolte played a character based on Dallaire in the film Hotel Rwanda (2004).
Memories of his own father returning from the Second World War when he was a 4-year-old boy are still fresh in his mind.
“He was six-foot-six and I don’t know what he weighed, 120 pounds, 130 pounds. I didn’t know who he was but he was just a skeleton breathing. He never spoke about the war in his entire life,” Nolte said.
Nolte’s next project will team him with Robert Redford, who will direct and star in The Company You Keep, a film about a former 60s Weather Underground radical being pursued by a young reporter.
Nolte was somewhat a radical himself during that time. In 1965, he was convicted of selling counterfeit government documents — draft cards — and received a 45-year prison sentence that was later suspended.
“I was on probation so I couldn’t go to the demonstrations but we knew all those people,” Nolte recalled, referring to members of the 1960s peace movement.
TIFF: Canada Uncensored
Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell
(Sep 01, 2011) In Dopplegänger Paul, one of 34 Canadian features screening at the Toronto International Film Festival from Sept. 8 to 18, the title character lists “lack of self-confidence” as his major flaw.
This used to be a very Canadian way of describing oneself, but not anymore. “Bold,” “challenging” and even “cocky” would be better descriptors for much of the fest’s Canuck fare, applied both to form and content.
It’s almost as if the country’s filmmakers decided en masse to stop pandering to mainstream moviegoers, or appeasing the notoriously conservative U.S. censors who rule the multiplex roost.
The large amount of nudity, sexual situations and/or profanity in some of the most noteworthy Canadian films at TIFF is one clear sign:
• In Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, her scenes from a tempted marriage include a long full-frontal female shower session involving stars Michelle Williams and Sarah Silverman. There are also numerous sexual situations, including threesomes;
• Guy Maddin’s madcap Keyhole is a veritable rumpus room of erotic activity, as a house full of ghosts and mobsters rub shoulders and body parts. A woman runs starkers through the house led by dogs on leash, and a phallus extending from a keyhole gets oral attention;
• David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method applies the director’s kinky perspective to a historically speculative sex-and-shrinks triangle between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and a female patient (Keira Knightley). Stills from the film show Fassbender spanking Knightley and then having sex with her;
• Mike Clattenburg’s politically potent Afghan Luke portrays an investigative war reporter (Nick Stahl) in realistic military situations, which includes the constant use of a well-known four-letter word.
Nudity, sex and profanity certainly aren’t new to Canadian film, but the prevalence of them in such high-profile films is noteworthy. The four movies cited above are almost guaranteed to rumple the grannies of the trend-setting Motion Picture Association of America, who routinely slap an “R” rating (or worse) on movies containing more than a single “F” word.
What’s more significant is the screw-you attitude of Canadian filmmakers. More than ever, they’re pursuing artistic truth rather than chasing mainstream approval that rarely comes anyway — Canadian films still account for only a tiny percentage of box-office receipts, both at home and abroad.
Our filmmakers seem a lot less inclined these days to make movies with polite and earnest characters and tidy third-act resolutions.
This boldness of approach has been duly noted by Steve Gravestock, TIFF’s head of Canadian programming, as he and his fellow selectors worked through the 959 features and shorts submitted to the festival from sea to shining sea.
He’s seen a greater confidence in the Canuck films at TIFF, and a willingness to embrace genre — such as thrillers and horrors — that in the past were considered the preserve of “B” pictures. In this regard, visionary veterans like Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan have been trailblazers.
“I just think there’s a confidence there, partially building on what Egoyan and Cronenberg did, because they obviously played with genre,” Gravestock said. “You can make a movie that flirts with genre and still make it a personal statement.”
A good example of this is 388 Arletta Avenue by London, Ont.-born Randall Cole. It’s a nifty little paranoia thriller starring Afghan Luke’s Nick Stahl as a Toronto adman driven to extremes by invasive 21st-century technology and a malevolent watcher.
And never mind filmmakers simply flirting with genre — it’s like a love affair for a guy like Guy Maddin, who describes his combo ghost story and gangster film Keyhole as “a Bowery Boys movie as written by Homer.”
The Winnipeg auteur sees Keyhole as a “real big step” for him, if only because it’s his first digital feature. He marvels at how much TIFF, and its Canadian content, has changed since he timidly brought his first short to the fest in 1986.
“It sure has changed a lot. It’s exciting to see. It’s kind of arriving where in my extremely isolated state in 1986 that I thought it would be,” Maddin says.
“I spent a lot of time back then just wandering around feeling really lonely. I met Atom Egoyan briefly. He saw me a week later weeping on a street corner in a rainstorm. He took me under his umbrella and shared a coffee with me.”
Canadian filmmakers at TIFF are today more likely to feel like part of a family, says Toronto’s Ingrid Veninger, who has directed, produced, co-written and/or acted in 11 films at the festival over the years.
Her latest work i am a good person / i am a bad person, a meta-comedy of family tensions, stars Veninger and her daughter Hallie Switzer. They play a mother-daughter filmmaking duo touring Europe with an avant-garde film called Head Shots. Not surprisingly for this year at TIFF, i am a good person includes close-ups of a succession of penises.
Veninger’s new movie springs from her previous film, MODRA, which debuted at last year’s TIFF as her solo directing debut. That film, which explored Veninger’s Slovakian roots, also starred her daughter Hallie, and the two travelled the world together promoting it.
The MODRA tour inspired i am a good person, which Veninger shot on a shoestring with a skeleton crew. But the new film is no sentimental journey or sitcom – not quite comedy and not quite drama, almost a doc but also fictional, it’s unique enough in structure to earn a slot in the mainstream-challenging Vanguard program, to the delight of Veninger.
“I’ve always been on the fringe, even as a kid growing up and being at school. I’ve never quite fit in,” Veninger says.
“So I’m so comfortable being in the Vanguard program for the first time. Some of my favourite films are in that program. I’m really excited.”
The other Canadian feature in Vanguard this year is Dopplegänger Paul, co-directed by Vancouver’s Dylan Akio Smith and Kris Elgstrand. It’s a mystery about a mystery: introverts Karl (Tygh Runyan) and Paul (Brad Dryborough) bond over their supposed similarities and Karl’s weird manuscript, titled A Book About How Much I Hate Myself. Then they discover that two other guys claim to have done the exact same thing …
Dopplegänger Paul will baffle as many people as it delights, but it’s certainly unique, and that’s a word that frightens away Hollywood producers, who want the safe and sure. Smith and Elgstrand were determined to chart their own course, and damn the torpedoes.
“We decided to just make the film the way we wanted to,” Smith said.
“We’d been ‘in development’ on a project for a number of years, trying to get the money, actors, everything attached. Dealing with committees and notes from people who talk about the marketplace, etc. is fine, but nothing was happening. Years were going by.
“Eventually we just said, ‘If we want to call ourselves filmmakers, we have to make films.’ And this movie was born out of that hunger, if not desperation. We didn’t make it for any other reason except that we had to.”
Another sign of Canada’s quest for distinction is the innovative casting and twists on convention in films like the classroom drama Monsieur Lazhar, by Quebec’s Philippe Falardeau, and the hockey comedy Breakaway, by Toronto’s Robert Lieberman.
Monsieur Lazhar, coming to TIFF with two newly minted awards from the Locarno Film Festival, isn’t just another tale of an idealistic teacher struggling with fractious students. Starring the brilliant Algerian actor Fellag in the title role, and featuring fresh young faces that writer/director Falardeau excels at finding, it weaves in issues of parental authority, social taboos and refugee claim disputes.
Breakaway might seem like just another hockey movie at TIFF (Mike Dowse has one called Goon), but it’s not: the team seeking ice affirmation is comprised entirely of Sikhs. Players have to deal not only with racism, but also with the practical problem of how to wear both their religiously mandated turbans and their league-demanded helmets.
Hockey films are almost always about Caucasians, and that’s a habit Breakaway seeks to break, say actors Vinay Virmani and Rup Magon, who play on the film’s Speedy Singhs team.
“The thing about this film is that hockey is one divine religion,” Virmani says.
“We’re very blessed that we have such a diverse population. But when it comes to hockey, we are all one religion.”
And while Breakaway may be fictional, it isn’t fantasy, Magon adds: “I was at the ice rink a couple of weeks ago with my friend, and I saw a whole bunch of names at a kid’s tournament. On the backs of their jerseys I saw ‘Khan’ and ‘Singh.’
“I couldn’t believe it. And that’s what this film is about. It’s about understanding that Canada with its multiculturalism is fantastic. Hockey is what brings it all together.”
Canadian documentaries are also challenging the mainstream at TIFF, forcing reappraisals of how we view reality.
Pink Ribbons, Inc., by veteran Quebec filmmaker Léa Pool, asks hard questions and offers sobering facts about fighting breast cancer through popular fundraising efforts such as sponsored runs and walks. Gravestock says the film is likely to infuriate many people, as it did him.
“I’ve got to say, I’ve never been so angry. My blood was up after watching that one. I was fuming when I came out of the theatre. It’s really strong, and it’s great to see a master filmmaker like Léa Pool back as well.”
Surviving Progress, by Quebecers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks, tackles conventional wisdom that what we call “progress” — a word with endless interpretations — maybe isn’t so progressive after all. It’s also sure to spark debate, Gravestock says.
The Patron Saints, by Brian Cassidy and Montreal’s Melanie Shatzky, uses a storyteller’s methods to shine a necessary spotlight on nursing homes and their shocking deficiencies.
Canadians are so strong at TIFF this year, they’re also standing out in films that aren’t strictly Canadian.
London, Ont.-born actor Ryan Gosling is poised to break out as an action star in Drive, a thriller filmed in L.A. by Denmark’s Nicolas Winding Refn, who won the director’s prize at Cannes in May.
There’s also Mary Marcy May Marlene, a disturbing U.S. drama of religious cults and their long reach. It stars American actress Elizabeth Olsen, who is making her own breakout this year, but it was directed by Sean Durkin, who hails from Victoria. It’s his first feature, but powerful enough to win Durkin the director’s prize at Sundance last January.
Perhaps the best example of the rebellious Canuck spirit at TIFF 2011 is the latest film from Toronto’s Bruce McDonald, who may just be the hardest-working man in Canadian show business.
He could easily have made a conventional sequel or prequel to his 1996 rock ’n’ road movie Hard Core Logo, which was a rare Canadian hit at the time. Many people recommended he do exactly that.
McDonald instead chose to make Hard Core Logo II a sort of anti-sequel, following a complex narrative arc that few would have suspected from the original film, and in a faux doc style that confuses as well as amuses.
It’s the way McDonald wanted to do it, and in the words of the character he plays in the film, a documentarian just like Bruce McDonald, it’s the only way to play: “Don’t run from your demons, always follow your passions and if it’s not about love, it’s not worth doing.”
These are words to live by for the fired-up Canuck filmmakers of TIFF 2011.
At TIFF 2011, The Apocalypse Is Very Now
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller
(Sep 02, 2011) Maybe the Mayan calendar’s dire warnings are hanging over us as we approach 2012, or maybe it’s the weirdo weather we’ve been having, but so far the air at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival smells like ozone, and the mood could be labelled “apocalypses now.” I know, the festival hasn’t officially begun, but I’ve been going to screenings for two weeks, and already I’ve seen more wayward lightning bolts, birds dropping from clear skies, hyperventilating actors and uneasy dreams than I can shake a rain stick at. And remember, all we prophets of doom are dismissed – until it’s too late.
The obvious examples are Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, in which a hitherto unseen giant planet is rolling ever so inexorably toward tiny little Earth, which only confirms the despair of a clinically depressed bride (Kirsten Dunst); and Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter, about a Pennsylvania construction worker (Michael Shannon) who becomes convinced that his sweat-soaked nightmares of Armageddon are about to come true.
Because these are TIFF films, the apocalypses are not only visually stunning, they’re multi-layered metaphors, too. Both Dunst and Shannon’s characters are also engaged in side struggles that have nothing to do with the end of the world. She’s getting married, allegedly in the bosom of friends and family. But even under a mountain of tulle, she can’t hide her malaise. And instead of truly caring for and about her, her so-called loved ones are really just hoping that she doesn’t make one of her usual scenes.
The same is true for Shannon’s character. His mother (Kathy Baker) was swept under by schizophrenia when she was his age, and at first he tries to deal with his visions clinically. But the signs of social apocalypse are everywhere, too – his small-town heath-care system can’t support him, and when he breaks down at a church supper, his allegedly Christian brethren stare at him in horror instead of rushing to his aid.
In both films, the end of days is macro, yes, but it’s the micro that is even scarier. If what is melting down is society, religion, fellow feeling – and ultimately, one’s own sanity – then there’s nowhere to run and hide, no place that’s safe.
Those kinds of smaller, more personal apocalypses are always in evidence at TIFF. Crisis is the stuff of drama, after all, and you shouldn’t make a movie about someone unless something pretty interesting is happening in his or her life. Also, most films released after Sept. 1, whether they’re in TIFF or not, look dire next to the fluff we’ve been consuming all summer, the season in which a film like Bridesmaids is earnestly discussed for its trenchant wit and groundbreaking approach to gender issues.
But even given all that, “The stakes are especially high in a lot of films this year,” says Jane Schoettle, and she should know – as TIFF’s programmer for the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Israel, she’s seen hundreds of them. “Those issues are cranked up, they’re not shrouded in metaphor. A lot of films are confronting moral, ethical dilemmas and the human cost of being alive.” She cites examples as varied as Think of Me, whose tagline reads, “As things unravel for a struggling single mother [Lauren Ambrose] in Las Vegas, she must decide what she's willing to give up to get by,” and The Hunter, about a biomedical company that hires Willem Dafoe to try to find a Tasmanian tiger, a species rendered extinct due to human selfishness.
In those key words – unravel, struggle, give up, extinct, selfish – lies the trend. The world ends over and over in the random selection of films I’ve seen, be it families torn asunder by violence (Drive) or emotional crises (Take This Waltz); young lovers’ lives circumscribed by death (Restless); an innocent couple stalked and tortured for sport with the help of contemporary technology (388 Arletta Ave.); or sex bereft of connection to the point of oblivion (Sleeping Beauty). And anyone searching for signs that humans are morally bankrupt will find it in Machine Gun Preacher, both in its depiction of child soldiers in Sudan and in its hero’s distressingly violent attempts to help.
“Film is the most accessible vehicle we have to raise these kinds of issues, and have these big discussions,” Schoettle says. What the myriad international filmmakers present at TIFF are the stirrings they’ve picked up from the collective unconscious, and made manifest in pixels, celluloid and light. We watch together to learn what we’re thinking about.
Another major trend that Schoettle’s noticed is the seismic shift in mass migration, and the tensions and upheavals it brings in its wake. “Nobody lives where their grandparents are from any more,” she says. “The impact is felt on societies, cultures and families, on every level. It involves war, politics, the economy.” (That is, all the armageddons.) This subject can be seen in films from all over Europe, including Terrafirma (Italy), Hotel Swooni (Belgium), Omar Killed Me (France) and The Color of the Ocean (Germany).
It’s no metaphor: For much of humankind, the world we grew up in is dead, and the one we have now feels none too steady. But if fiction doesn’t convince you, how about fact? The documentary The Island President tells the true story of Mohamed Nasheed, the leader of the Maldives, a tiny territory composed of 1,200 coral islands off the coast of India, of which 200 are occupied. Nasheed spent two decades leading a pro-democracy movement against a dictatorship, was imprisoned and tortured, got elected president at 41, and now faces a challenge beyond daunting: Thanks to global warming, his country is literally sinking into the rising ocean. For him and his people, the apocalypse is a fact, and unless the larger world can be stirred to care, it’s right around the corner.
Deneuve On Fame In France: ‘You Don’t Need A Bodyguard’
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Matthew Hays
(Sep 02, 2011) Of all the Catherine Deneuve stories, perhaps the strangest is that she was never hell-bent on an acting career. “Yes, that’s true,” she says during a visit to Montreal, where she accepted the Grand prix special des Amériques at the World Film Festival.
“My sister was an actress, and she suggested to some producers that I’d be good for a role they’d yet to fill. Even after that, I wasn’t sure I’d go on being an actress. I was still in school.”
But then Deneuve met director Jacques Demy, who cast her in his 1964 film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, an all-singing musical film which won hearts due in part to the fact that it was so unusual. “After I met Jacques Demy, I knew I’d be an actress,” says Deneuve, 67, who’s rocking a simple cotton floral dress.
The award caps another busy year for Deneuve. She stars in the World Film Fest’s closing film, Thierry Klifa’s Les yeux de sa mère, about a famous broadcaster sought out by an overzealous journalist. The film Beloved, a musical about a mother-daughter relationship, in which she co-stars with her daughter Chiara Mastroianni will get the gala treatment at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 11 (it also screened at Cannes, under the French title Les bien-aimés). And she has a small role in the forthcoming Astérix & Obélix: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as the Queen of England.
Deneuve agrees that for some beautiful actresses, the struggle to be taken seriously is an epic one. For her, key parts in three pivotal works of sixties cinema meant she was seen as a force to be reckoned with from her 20s. After Umbrellas came Repulsion (1965), a surreal film in which she worked with a then-largely-unknown director, Roman Polanski. The film earned her further praise, and then she made Bunuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), in which she played a bored prostitute.
“It was great luck for me to have these roles at such a young age,” she recalls, lighting a cigarette (we’re in a private room at the Hyatt so she can indulge her habit). “I was 18 when I met Jacques Demy. I think it’s important to have experiences like this at such a young time in your life. Then you have more opportunity to be critical about what you do, and to have better choices. It never happens too young. It’s better that way – life is short, you know?”
Deneuve’s career has remained interesting, precisely because those primal roles allowed her to carry on under one basic rule: Never repeat yourself. “Well, I should at least have the impression I’ve never done it before,” she corrects. “Risks are part of an actor’s job.”
Indeed, Deneuve’s CV is full of strange, wonderful risks. She worked with François Truffaut, most famously on The Last Metro (1980), his film about the French resistance during the Second World War. She appeared in Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983), a vampire flick in which she had a groundbreaking, explicit love scene with Susan Sarandon that lasted for eight minutes, earning her an entire generation of diehard lesbian fans.
And in 2000, she appeared in Lars von Trier’s musical about the death penalty, Dancer in the Dark. “I survived,” she says of making the film, which became notorious for its conflicts between von Trier and the film’s star, Bjork. “Bjork didn’t survive as well as I did. The result was wonderful, but she suffered.”
Deneuve has never been a passive participant in filmmaking. She is famous for attending the daily screenings of rushes (the day’s footage), a rarity for actors. “It’s about curiosity. I know a lot of actors don’t like to see themselves on screen. To me, it’s very useful. I can see them and not be too tormented by the result. When we were doing The Last Metro, Truffaut would see them at the end of each week. I would go every night. It helped me, but it’s not something that works for everybody.”
It’s not surprising that Deneuve caught the eye of Hitchcock, who apparently considered adding her to his entourage of beautiful blonde actresses. It was Truffaut who facilitated a meeting between Deneuve and Hitchcock, in 1970. “We were considering a project together. We wanted to do something in Europe. At that point, though, it was just a treatment. It was not meant to be. Sadly, he died before we could get to it.”
When asked about directors and actors she appreciates today, Deneuve says she holds special admiration for a couple of Canadians. “I think Cronenberg is a very interesting director. A History of Violence was incredible. I love Sarah Polley. She must have been so proud to have been at the Oscars with Julie Christie [for Away from Her], which was such a great performance. I love Polley’s acting, too – she’s wonderful. Very expressive, very touching.”
Finally, Deneuve reflects on being considered an icon in her native France. “When you’re an actor in France it’s not the same as in America. You don’t have to have a bodyguard. Yes, the cinema is important to the people, but it’s not quite a religion. Sometimes the press refer to you as a goddess, or they use certain words to describe you. It really is best if you don’t believe your own press.”
Special to The Globe and Mail
Chris Tucker in Talks for First New Films Since 2007
(Sep 07, 2011) *Variety is reporting that Chris Tucker is coming out of his hiatus with two new films on deck.
The comedian, who last appeared on the big screen in 2007′s “Rush Hour 3,” is in talks to join David O. Russell’s “The Silver Linings Playbook” at the same time he’s circling a key role in 20th Century Fox’s comedy “Neighborhood Watch.”
Tucker has filmed just three movies since 1998, all in the “Rush Hour” franchise. The last of these came after a break that lasted six years, in part because Tucker was in no hurry to make the film.
Late last year, Tucker was attached to Warner Bros. heist pic “The Rabbit,” a project the studio is still developing; and earlier this year he was considered for a lead role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” but the part went to Jamie Foxx.
“The Silver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper as a former high school teacher who’s institutionalized for depression and then released into the care of his mother. He tries to win back his ex-wife but becomes involved with an eccentric neighbour with problems of her own. Jennifer Lawrence is set to play the neighbour, while Robert De Niro will play Cooper’s father.
Tucker will play Cooper’s spirited friend who lives in a mental hospital. He escapes on several occasions to visit the troubled protagonist, as the duo have a special understanding of each other.
The Weinstein Co. is behind Russell’s adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel, and Harvey Weinstein will produce.
As for “Neighborhood Watch,” Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill are set to star in the Akiva Schaffer-directed comedy, which follows a group of suburban neighbours whose Neighborhood Watch is really a front for them to escape their families — until they discover a plot to destroy the world. Tucker is being eyed for the role of Jamarcus, who is recently divorced.
This year, Tucker has been on a standup tour that started in July and runs through November. At a stop in Mountain View, Calif., last month, Tucker told the New York Times that his time off the big screen has more to do with the roles offered him and that he doesn’t feel like he’s been on a hiatus “until people say, ‘Hey, where you been?’ I’ll be like: ‘I’ve been here. I’ve been living.’”
N.B. Parents Divided On Push To Ban Crash Aftermath TV Movie
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Oliver Moore
(Sep 01, 2011) On a snowy January night, the small town of Bathurst, N.B., captured national attention in the most ghastly way.
Seven teenage athletes and the coach's wife were killed on the way home from a basketball game, their van sliding into the path of an onrushing transport truck. Grief rippled outward from their families, and a palpable air of sadness descended over the entire community. The masses of journalists who descended on northern New Brunswick found a town in shock.
One year later, in 2009, some of the same reporters were in Fredericton when the rebuilt basketball team, dropping a level to AA, ran away with the provincial championship. The gym pulsed with pride, and a teenager who survived the crash was named most valuable player.
The remarkable narrative arc of the saga could've been drafted by Hollywood, and a television movie is in the works. But the prospect of a film has divided victims' families and prompted debate over who really has the right to tell a story so close to their hearts.
Mothers of three boys killed in the crash are furious and working to derail the project. Parents of some other victims, though, think it is an inspirational tale important to the community's recovery.
"It's a story that captivated us," said New Brunswick-based Dream Street Pictures producer Rick LeGuerrier. "We're confident this is a wonderful story to tell, a story of resilience and courage."
The movie is set to begin filming this fall in Bathurst and parts will be made at the victims' high school. It is being done in conjunction with CBC Television.
Moral suasion may be the strongest card left to opponents, who are now trying to convince union members not to work on the project. They do not intend to watch the movie and could encourage the public to skip it, as a lawyer for the Bernardo-Homolka victims did when the movie Karla was produced.
They have few other options.
"While one has sympathy for the sensitivities they're expressing, there's no legal prohibition on someone producing a film based on true events," said Toronto media lawyer Peter Jacobsen, founding partner of Bersenas Jacobsen, when asked to comment. "The only legal concerns that they could bring about, really, could be based on libel."
Isabelle Hains, Ana Acevedo and Marcella Kelly - who lost, respectively, their boys Daniel, Javier and Nikki that night - argue a movie on the Bathurst team is exploitative, premature and being done without proper consultation.
"I don't think they have the right to make this story," Hains said. "They tell us it's not about the death of our children but without the death of our children there would be no movie."
LeGuerrier said that the film starts "in the aftermath" of the crash and focuses on the run-up to the championship. He said that they have consulted with "virtually all of the people involved" but declined to be more specific.
Acevedo, Kelly and Hains - who insists "nobody at Dream Street Pictures or CBC has made any effort whatsoever to contact us" - have petitioned government, the provincial ombudsman and the federal auditor-general to prevent the film. Numerous objections are listed at the site VanAngels.ca, which was set up to push for changes to make student transportation safer.
Hains and Acevedo became prominent safety advocates following the 2008 crash. Other parents have stayed largely quiet, sometimes leaving the impression that these two mothers spoke for the group. In the case of the film, Hains said that "the majority of the families" want it stopped.
Most parents could not be reached but interviews with several who were available revealed a complex range of emotion and opinion.
"I think it should be made. It's a story of determination, it's a story of inspiration, it really helped the community," said Ginette Emond, who lost her son, Codey Branch.
"It was an emotional disaster for the community, and when those kids picked up the ball and went to the championship, they picked up the community."
Krista Quinn, whose son Nick was among the victims, said she was "50-50" on the movie. She stressed that she was speaking only for herself, and not for any other members of her family.
If the movie is going to be filmed anyway, she thinks it might as well be done locally to bring economic benefit to the depressed region. That said, she would've preferred it happen a year later, after a younger son has gone off to university.
"I think I'm fine with the film now," Quinn said. "We'll see in October or November if I feel the same."
Gosling On Brink Of Superstardom
Source: www.canoe.ca - By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency
(September 4, 2011) The time is now for Ryan Gosling to catapult to Hollywood superstardom, welcome or not. While it is odd to mention "breakout year" for an actor who has already has an Oscar nomination as best actor and is often acclaimed for his natural skills and indie film choices, that is exactly what is happening to the 30-year-old Canadian. He, of course, just shrugs off the notion that another former member of The Mickey Mouse Club -- because he was there with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera -- can be a big star. And he is not embarrassed about being a Mouse Man. "Everything I've done has sort of been age appropriate," he says. "When I was doing The Mickey Mouse Club, I was 12 and I was on all the rides at Disney World and doing all the things that were appropriate for being 12. And now I'm 30 and I feel this is a good reflection of where I'm at.
Call Me Fitz Wins Six Gemini
Awards At Second Industry Gala
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle MacDonald
(August 31, 2011) Call Me Fitz, HBO Canada's raucous comedy starring Jason Priestley, scored the largest number of Geminis last night, raking in six including best direction in a comedy and kudos for supporting cast members Ernie Grunwald and Rachel Blanchard.
In the second consecutive awards ceremony in Toronto, CBC's historical miniseries Pillars of the Earth and The Borgias each earned three awards, while a triumvirate was also handed out to the long-running teen drama Degrassi, CTV's Flashpoint, and History Television's The Kennedys.
The winners of the top categories for the best in Canadian television will be announced at a gala ceremony on September 7, broadcast on CBC and hosted by Brampton-born comedian Russell Peters.
Degrassi took home top honours for best children's or youth program, while Pillars of the Earth won best dramatic mini-series. The CBC's Battle of the Blades won best music/variety program while its Dragons' Den was named best reality show.
Best writing nods were given to Call Me Fitz (for comedy) and Flashpoint (dramatic series).
On Tuesday night, Geminis celebrating the best in news, sports, documentary and lifestyle programming were handed out, CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight won best talk series, Global's Dawna Friesen was named best news anchor, and Mark Kelley of CBC News won best host/interviewer in a news program.
Going into next week's gala, Flashpoint leads the drama contenders with 17 nominations, while the East Coast-based Call Me Fitz rules the sitcoms with 16.
'The Borgias' Takes Top
Dramatic Prize At Geminis
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan
(Sep 07, 2011) The top program on Canadian television is the international co-production The Borgias.
The historical series, loosely based on the Renaissance-era dynasty, took the lofty honour of best dramatic series at the Gemini Awards gala held at the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto on Wednesday night. A CTV co-production backed by Irish and Hungarian television producers, the series starring Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI bested The Tudors, Skins, Flashpoint and Endgame to win the award.
In the acting categories, Callum Keith Rennie received the Gemini for best performance by an actor in a continuing dramatic role for his role as a police detective with dissociative identity disorder in Global's Shattered.
The aboriginal TV veteran Michelle Thrush won the Gemini for best performance by an actress in a continuing leading dramatic role for her work on the APTN series Blackstone, which depicts life on the Blackstone Indian reserve in Alberta.
The Gemini for best comedy program or series went to The Rick Mercer Report. The CBC program previously won the award in 2008.
In the category of best performance by an actor in a continuing leading comedic role, the Gemini voters recognized Canadian TV mainstay Peter Keleghan for his work on the CBC sitcom 18 to Life. The show was cancelled by CBC following two seasons.
The Gemini for best performance by an actress in a continuing leading comedic role went to Tracy Dawson for her portrayal of the shrewish younger sister of Jason Priestley on the cable comedy series Call Me Fitz.
On the sports front, TSN's James Duthie won the Gemini Award for best host or interviewer in a sports program or sportscast for his hosting duties on the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft.
One Man’s Quest To Be A
Somebody In Canadian TV
Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux
(Sep 03, 2011) JR Digs has an impossible dream: to be a Canadian TV talk show host. It is his quest to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.
Right now he’s following it in a 1991 Ford Econoline van.
Digs is the host of Man in a Van, a 2011 Gemini nominee for Canada’s Best Talk Series. It’s basically him in the van he bought three years ago for $1,200, driving and talking until he picks up whoever he is interviewing.
There are three cameras wired into the van. Sometimes he gets close to big-name celebrities like Jeff Goldblum and Dane Cook. He’s had a few “almosts” in his van, including Tom Cruise (“until,” explains Digs, “his people found out the show actually takes place in a van.”). Occasionally things get dangerous. The Iron Sheik — a pre-disco era wrestling icon — once climbed into Digs van and put the up-for-anything host in a “camel clutch.”
The series airs before or after Saturday Night Live on Global depending where you live in Canada. In Toronto, it can be seen at 2 a.m.
Digs, who says he’s “pushing 40, but don’t ask from which way,” has been making low-budget, guerrilla comedy TV shows for 10 years. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t feel out of the loop. JR Digs is the Ed Wood of Canadian television, a borrowed credit card away from making Van 9 from Outer Space.
After a world of hustle, he found himself up against two big-name contenders at Wednesday’s Gemini Awards ceremony: Peter Mansbridge (for his CBC News Network interview series One on One) and George Stroumboulopoulos (CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight). To no one’s surprise, including Digs, Strombo won.
“But he couldn’t have been more gracious and gave me a shout-out in his acceptance speech,” says Digs, who noted that Mansbridge now follows him on Twitter. “How amazing is that?” he says. “I didn’t know how to tweet it out so I just told people.”
Digs spent 10 years, all his money and another thousand or so — plus a few days filling out forms — to get that Gemini nomination.
“The plan was to get some attention,” he candidly admits. “What I want is to make a real show that is a late night talk show.”
The getting attention part of the plan was a spectacular success. As the Gemini ceremony drew near, the Hamilton resident fired off long emails to any reporters who showed him any love over the years. His David vs. Goliath story stood out from the same-old Gemini blather and, this past week, Digs got more ink than Stroumboulopoulos or Mansbridge get in a year. The Globe and Mail called his van show “gold,” adding he “deserves a nomination for originality and zest.”
The question now is: will this be another “almost big break” for Digs? The van, he admits, has been parked for six months. The rise in the cost of gas was killing his beyond-meagre budget. Before he became an almost Gemini winner, he was ready to give up.
That would have been a tough surrender. His love for TV is genuine. Digs speaks warmly about begging his grandfather, who gave him his first home movie camera, to let him stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Later, David Letterman became his hero. “He was different, not afraid to ask the dumb question,” says Digs, who saw his future and decided to follow that star.
He’s already demonstrated he’s ready to march into hell for his heavenly cause. The first five years he wanted to be on TV so badly he paid Global for the air time and then tried to get the money back in advertising and sponsorships. The move cost him his three successful skateboard shops, his Explorer truck and put him $110,000 in debt.
“It was the most regrettable time of my life,” says Digs, who sounds cheerful even when he’s being aggressively self-effacing. He blames “this horrible disease” of wanting to be on TV. His dream, he admits, had turned into a nightmare.
The problem was that, as Digs puts it, “all the funny went out” in his quest to climb out of debt. A few more “almosts” came to the rescue: TVTropolis commissioned a series called Be Real With JR Digs, which had the host play mentor to young filmmakers. Along with a brewery sponsorship deal, he managed to pay off all his credit card debt before the series was cancelled after 13 episodes.
Other self-made shows came and went. Digs has made television in his garage, in neighbourhood variety stores, on street corners. He pays volunteers off in Doritos and survives on sponsorships. “When Pizza Pizza sponsored the show, I literally ate nothing but pizza,” he says. Later, another brewery stepped up as a sponsor, which also had an impact on Digs’ diet. “You can see where this is going,” he says.
Besides sponsors, some in the community recognize he has a cult following and want in on it. Digs is currently shooting a series of spots for the Hamilton TiCats where he clowns around with players and coaches.
Yet the TV station in his community, CHCH, doesn’t even return his phone calls. Digs says he gets calls returned quicker at NBC, where another “almost” almost happened two years ago: shooting comedy bits for Jay Leno’s prime-time NBC series.
Digs got a shot as a correspondent, managed to tape bits with Matt Damon and Ricky Gervais through TIFF connections, and sent in his first two segments. Leno’s producers told him they loved them. Just before the first was set to air, Digs got the bad news that Leno’s 10 o-clock experiment had been cancelled.
Enter Craig Ferguson, whom Digs ran into in an elevator during one of the comedian’s frequent concert stops in Toronto. Digs pitched him something similar. “He was a sweetheart of a guy,” says Digs, but Ferguson doesn’t do correspondents.
What about skipping television altogether and just making shows on the Internet, it is suggested. Digs will not be thrown off his quest. He acknowledges Dane Cook and others have followed that path to success but, for him, it is TV or nothing. “I was doing viral years before YouTube ever existed,” he says. “I set out to make the Great Canadian Television Show and until I get to prove that with those kinds of advantages I just don’t feel I’ve accomplished anything.”
Okay, jump on the Gemini association with Strombo and pitch him some correspondent bits. Get in touch with CBC network programming boss Kirstine Stewart, it is suggested. “Who?” says Digs.
The man seems naive and delusional in his quest until you understand that you need to be both if you want to make a TV show in Canada. Even multi-million-dollar, studio-produced network dramas like Flashpoint, Rookie Blue and Combat Hospital are tossed into summer schedules, place-keepers for American imports come fall. Every Canadian TV producer is a fringe player in their own country. Digs just happens to be on the fringe of the fringe.
He’s not alone, therefore, on the great Canadian TV quest. The Trailer Park Boys did TV on the cheap for seven seasons, but at least there were three of them plus director/creator Mike Clattenburg who, at times, willed it all along. Steven Kerzner, who has somehow made a living in Canadian television as Ed the Sock, says he admires Digs’ ability “to make lemonade out of lemons. He shows, like we always have, that not having abundant resources can spur really creative adaptations out of necessity that result in something fresh and new.” Plus, says Kerzner, “he’s a good guy who tries very hard.”
After 10 years trying, even Digs is starting to waver in his resolve. He’s tired of being his own crew and just wants one solid network shot. When it is suggested that reality shows seem to be the shortcut to fame and fortune on TV today, he dismisses that route as desperate and pathetic.
“That’s not what I want to do,” he says. “I don’t want to be famous. I want to put on a jacket and a tie and make some kid laugh along with their grandfather.”
That is his quest. Pancho, gas up the van.
LaFlamme’s More Than Ready For
Source: www.thestar.com - By Joel Rubinoff
(Sep 03, 2011) It says something about Lisa LaFlamme’s qualifications for her new job as chief anchor of CTV’s evening news — a role she steps into Monday in the wake of Lloyd Robertson’s retirement — that by the end of our 90-minute interview, I’ve told her my entire life story.
Since I’m the one doing the interviewing, this isn’t the way it was supposed to go.
“I feel that so much of the job is psychology, to try to make people feel comfortable,” she tells me in an earthy, confessional tone that oozes strength, conviction and raspy good cheer.
“And once they feel comfortable they’ll tell you their story and once they’ve told it, we can tell the world, and maybe somebody can help somewhere.
“It’s all about empathy and, I believe, trust.”
As someone who had no intention of telling her anything, I can vouch for that.
She seems so genuinely curious and fascinated with everything I say, like a really good shrink, except I don’t have to pay her.
This, of course, is a quality that has served the 47-year-old Kitchener native since she kicked off her career at CTV’s Kitchener affiliate, CKCO, in 1988 as a copy writer/script assistant and, later, as its on-air news anchor.
It also helped engineer her ’97 jump to Toronto as a reporter for CTV Newsnet, followed by CTV stints as a consumer reporter, parliamentary correspondent, co-host of Canada AM and, for the past eight years, globetrotting national affairs correspondent, covering everything from 9/11 and the G20 riots to Hurricane Katrina and the trial of Saddam Hussein.
But let’s be honest: empathy wouldn’t cut it if it didn’t go hand in hand with something else that has secured her reputation as a capable, ambitious replacement for the man known as “Canada’s most trusted news anchor”: nerves of steel.
“We are trying to get people to reveal their most personal stories,” she notes of the dramatic, eye-of-the-hurricane (sometimes literally) interviews with world leaders, disaster victims and international despots she expects will continue in her new role (exhibit A: next week, she heads to New York for the 10th anniversary of 9/11).
“We catch them at their worst times, usually in places where all hell has broken loose, so you have to be tough, but particularly if you’re a woman, whether it’s about fending off some loser colleague, or somebody who doesn’t like you by virtue of the fact you’re in the media.”
Both have been commonplace — but hardly detrimental — in the career of the award-winning maverick, who had a gun pressed to her temple in Iraq, was fired upon by enemy troops in Kandahar and, on a homegrown note, had to navigate around sniggering male colleagues who refused to take her seriously in the Paleolithic ’80s.
“In ’88, there were no full-time female reporters in the newsrooms I worked in,” she says of her early days in the biz.
“And there was definitely a division of stories: the murders would go to the men and the bake sales would go to the women.
“I ran into scenarios I remember specifically, where I walked back to some editing suites with all men in there, and they were watching my story — it was about the environment, a perfectly editorially solid story — and they were laughing. And I remember thinking, ‘Okay, you can’t win.’
“Now, look at newsrooms. If it’s not 50-50, sometimes there are more women than men. But that was the environment at that time — it’s just the way they were.”
She pauses, not wanting her meaning misconstrued. “I tell you that because you’re pressing me to give you an example, but in truth I laughed too as I walked away. I remember going, ‘Who are the idiots here?’”
She laughs. “Honestly, I don’t care. I didn’t care then and I don’t care now. It’s never been an issue, and that’s because I was raised in a family of all girls where we were taught there’s nothing you can’t do because you’re a woman.”
She’s a doer, not a whiner; an optimist, not a cynic; a passionate, committed trailblazer who rises to challenges, grabs opportunities and, confronted with opposition, pushes beyond it.
“When I was a young reporter I wrote (former Canadian broadcaster) Pamela Wallin a letter asking for (pauses, then laughs) . . . I can’t even remember. What I do remember is that she wrote me back and it had advice in it, which was to persevere.
“And now I get so many emails from students asking for advice and I always write them back because someone did it for me, and it’s the same message I give.”
At which point, I’m compelled to ask, where are the massive ego and sense of entitlement that, one assumes, go hand in hand with one of the most high-profile, glamorous jobs in Canadian journalism?
“It only looks glamorous to other people,” she says without pretence. “It’s a job, it’s hard work. The people with big egos are the ones who don’t last. I feel so lucky, I really do; it’s such a gift, but I worked hard for it.'”
There’s no false modesty about LaFlamme: it’s part of her charm. You never sense she’s trying to be someone she’s not.
In the course of our interview, which moves from the backyard of her younger sister’s Waterloo home (two older sisters and her mom live nearby) to the living room, dining room, backyard again and front porch, she seems at all times herself, interacting with her nieces, nephews and assorted family pets with the same cheerful candour as the bald guy with the note pad.
She’s also happy to touch on subjects more self-important anchors might shy away from:
• Her worst interview (Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, in Toronto a decade ago to hawk a line of china): “It was an edgy interview. I felt it was natural to ask how comfortable she was using her name and influence to sell plates or cutlery, and she was very, very insulted.”
• Her first on-camera assignment, at a Waterloo psychic fair, where a resident soothsayer read her cards and saw flags of the world. “I remember thinking this is good, and it ended up being true.”
• Her reverence for The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s blowhard anchorman, Ted Baxter. Ah, maybe this isn’t so edgy. I mean, who doesn’t idolize Ted?
But don’t mistake good humour for naïveté. LaFlamme is aware of the challenges as she ascends the podium of the country’s most watched newscast.
She knows that many have declared an end to the “Voice of Authority” era that embraced avuncular figures like Robertson and, before him, Walter Cronkite, who soothed our nerves and lulled us to sleep with their sonorous baritones in an era of one-size-fits-all programming.
They argue, with their charts and trend lines, that these revered behemoths belong to a Father Knows Best past that no longer exists, and that in an age of fragmented media delivery, with people grabbing quick news hits off the web, the long reigning TV newscast may soon go the way of telephone booths, record stores and cellphones the size of brickbats.
LaFlamme, who has heard these arguments before, remains unfazed.
“I still view it as highly important and highly relevant,” she notes bluntly. “Because I believe at the end of the day, the general public still wants context, and you can spend your whole day jumping on or offline or reading tweets, but you can’t get a sense of anything in 140 characters.
“I think only a fool thinks these are mutually exclusive. The reality is conventional television has to embrace the new reality. We have to live in the same world.
“I think the two will dance quite nicely in the pond.”
Overseeing the choreography, tacitly monitoring the nuances, will be this husky-voiced moderator, aware that Robertson — her predecessor, mentor and longtime friend — casts a long shadow, but determined to put her own stamp on the future.
“I certainly don’t feel like I’m replacing Lloyd, because, come on! But I hope the viewer gets comfortable with the fact I do share the same values he has always delivered.
“I have a different style, obviously; we’re a different generation. But what we share is good journalism, storytelling and a love of the job.”
Cher Defends Chaz From
Source: www.thestar.com - Adam Taylor/ABC
(Sep 02, 2011) Two seasons ago, it was the left, aggravated by the inclusion of abstinence campaigner Bristol Palin, daughter of Tea Party firebrand Sarah Palin, in a Dancing With the Stars cast.
Now it’s the right’s turn.
Conservative media groups in the U.S. and some fans are protesting the inclusion of Chaz Bono in the new season, which begins Sept. 19.
Bono, who was born female, is the show’s first transgendered contestant.
“Disgusting” is how one fan characterized the choice on the show’s message boards, adding, “ABC should be ashamed of themselves (sic) for harassing mainstream Americans and Christians (sic).”
ABC is sticking to its guns, with executive producer Conrad Green saying viewers should check out the new season before passing judgment.
Meanwhile, Bono’s famous mother, Cher, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation have defended him, the network and producers for casting him.
Cher says her son is being “viciously attacked” on blogs and message boards.
“This is Still America right? It took guts 2 do it,” she wrote, adding that she supports him no matter what he chooses to do.
Bono, 42, is paired with pro dancer Lacey Schwimmer on the reality show, where celebrities and their professional partners perform ballroom dances for judges’ scores and viewer votes.
On his own Twitter page, Bono described himself as “the luckiest guy around” and thanked his fans and his mother for their support. “The haters are just motivating me to work harder and stay on DWTS as long as I possibly can,” he said.
Associated Press, Star staff
Taking A Look At What’s On TV
Monday Nights This Fall
Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem
(Sep 05, 2011) All this week, night by night, Star TV columnist Rob Salem previews the new Canadian and American shows: one-stop shopping for all your prime-time needs.
Terra Nova (Fox, Citytv) Sept. 26
Blade Runner takes the Stargate to Jurassic Park
Jason O’Mara and his family escape the overpopulated, smog-choked dystopia of 2149 to join a fractious community of colonists 85 million years in Earth’s past. Here there be dinosaurs.
There is nothing small about this time-spanning new sci-fi adventure, from its reported $4 million-per-episode price tag to its growing ranks of at least a dozen producers, notably popcorn king Steven Spielberg, with 24’s Jon Cassar, Star Trek’s René Echevarria and Brannon Braga, a writer/producer on both.
Its troubled genesis is already the stuff of legend, with staff upheavals, production delays, cost overruns and a retooled pilot episode.
The latter was done, apparently, to focus more on the fleeing family, though given how most kids feel about dinosaurs, I can’t imagine anything more family-friendly.
The kids at least will be able to see the big beasties. O’Mara and his castmates had to use their imaginations.
“I took Green Screen 101, which was the class right after lunch on a Thursday,” laughs the actor, already a seasoned time-travel veteran from his stint on the American remake of Life on Mars.
“Honestly though, there is no training for it. I think experience is probably the best thing. Stephen Lang (as the colony’s crusty commandant) has become this kind of maestro of how to react to things that aren’t there. He did it for three years on Avatar.
“You rely on your director and our collective imaginations to really envisage that the creature you’re looking at is present, is taking up space and that you can practically smell it.
“I’ve had several personal interactions with these creatures. They weren’t there on set, but I felt them on me, taking chunks out of me (and) ripping my clothes.”
2 Broke Girls (CBS, Citytv) Sept. 19
Laverne & Shirley, with a side of Alice
Class clash in a New York diner, with movie actress Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and Paris Hilton look-alike Beth Behrs as dissimilar roomie waitresses prone to madcap hijinks. But the real dynamic duo here is the powerhouse writing/producing team of Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City) and Whitney Cummings, doing double duty this season along with her own self-titled (and superior) NBC sitcom. Plus the best sitcom director in the biz, James Burrows.
The Playboy Club (NBC, Citytv) Sept. 19
Mad Women (with big floppy ears)
One of two new ’60s-set, distaff Mad Men clones, along with ABC’s airborne Pan Am, which is considerably less dopey. Male lead (such as it is) Eddie Cibrian is kind of a Jon Hamm with cheese. Best moment: A mob boss gets killed by a stiletto heel to the head. Good music. Bad hair.
The Sing-Off (CTV, NBC) Sept. 19
The Voice (literally)
Eight a cappella groups compete for a recording contract. Because a cappella albums sell so well.
Hart of Dixie (CW) Sept. 26
Sweet HMO Alabama
Ambitious aspiring Manhattan surgeon (The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson) ends up running a southern small-town clinic. Haven’t seen it . . . not since 1991, when it was a Michael J. Fox movie called Doc Hollywood.
Enlightened (HBO Canada) Oct. 10
Extreme Makeover: The Rehab Edition
Laura Dern co-created, co-produces and stars in this prestige cable comedy about a tightly wound cosmetics executive who memorably melts down at the office, slinks off to rehab and comes back a little too in touch with her softer, self-aware side. Certainly too much for her druggie slacker ex, Luke Wilson, and her passive/aggressive mom, an inspired team-up with her real-life mother, Diane Ladd.
Top Chef Canada (Food)
Castle (ABC, CTV)
Dancing with the Stars (ABC, CTV Two): David Arquette’s pirouette, Chaz Bono’s tango and Nancy Grace’s . . . well, we’ll have to see, won’t we?
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, Global): Lostie Terry O’Quinn comes back to the island; Tom Sizemore and Billy Baldwin also wash up on shore.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS, Citytv): It starts with a wedding. But whose?
NCIS (Global, Tuesdays on CBS)
Two and a Half Men (CBS, CTV Two): It starts with a funeral. We know whose (hint: he’s being roasted over on Comedy Network that very same night). Ashton Kutcher joins the cast as a lovelorn Internet billionaire.
Being Erica (CBC)
Emmy Winner Wayne Brady Joins
‘Starry Concert for Victor: A Benefit’ in Pasadena
Source: Patty Onagan, firstname.lastname@example.org
(August 30, 2011) *PASADENA, CA – Emmy winner Wayne Brady, renowned for Who’s Line Is It Anyway? and currently the host of Let’s Make A Deal, will perform in CONCERT FOR VICTOR: A Benefit at the intimate Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse.
Brady appeared last year in RENT at The Hollywood Bowl, and starred as Billy Flynn in Broadway’s CHICAGO in 2004. Brady joins the previously-announced Melora Hardin (THE OFFICE / Broadway’s Chicago), Steven Weber (WINGS / Broadway’s The Producers) and Anneliese van der Pol (That’s So Raven’s / Broadway’s Beauty & the Beast) in the one-night-only event.
The evening will also feature performances from Monika Beal (Long Beach Opera’s Philip Glass’ Akhnaten), 30 Rock’s Todd Buonopane (Broadway’s The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee), Hart of Dixie’s Deborah S. Craig (Broadway’s The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee), Ava Gaudet (Broadway’s Rent), Devin Kelly, Charley Izabella King (Broadway’s The Producers), Leigh Ann Larkin (Broadway’s Gypsy & A Little Night Music), High School Musical: Get in the Picture’s Jennifer Malenke (Broadway’s Into The Woods – Revival) and Jacquelynn Ware.
CONCERT FOR VICTOR: A Benefit will take place at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse on Tuesday, September 13 at 7:30 PM. All proceeds go to the Rodriguez Family Care Fund.
This concert will benefit 23-year-old Victor Rodriguez and his family. In June 2011, Sacramento newlyweds Victor and Crystal Rodriguez went parasailing on the last day of their honeymoon in the Bahamas. At a height of approximately 200 feet their harness snapped, and they fell into the ocean. Crystal was killed, and Victor suffered severe injuries. Neither of them had health or life insurance. They had only been married 12 days.
Full-price tickets are $99 including admission to the post-show reception, or $45 for the show only (both include a $4.00 ticketing fee). For the next two weeks, tickets at either price level can be purchased at half-price with the code CFV50. All tickets are General Admission. Seating is limited to the intimate concert benefit.
There will also be several CDs on-sale, featuring autographs by select artists from the performance.
All of the proceeds including the $4.00 per ticket fee (generously donated by Patron Manager) will go toward Victor’s medical & recovery expenses.
CFV: A Benefit will be directed by Jordan Kai Burnett, featuring accompaniment by Dr. James Lent. The evening is co-produced by Burnett & Sacramento-area native Jonathan White.
In a statement, The Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps said:
“It is always an honor to be able to provide space in our beautiful facility for worthy and important causes. The Playhouse stage is there for the creation of our art, yes…But it also exists to support important fundraising efforts as we have often done in the past, and do again with great pleasure for this valuable event.”
Tickets for the benefit can be purchased by calling (626) 356-7529, by visiting www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or in person at The Playhouse Box Office, located at 39 S. El Molino Avenue in Pasadena.
Additional donations will be accepted the night of the performance as cash or check only (made out to Rodriguez Family Care Fund).
Donations can also be sent via mail to:
R. W. Baird
300 University Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95825
Checks should be made payable to R. W. Baird; c/o Rodriguez Family Care Fund.
Regis Philbin Reveals Last Day
Source: www.thestar.com - By Christie D’Zurilla Los Angeles Times
(Sep 06, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Regis Philbin on Tuesday announced his final date with Live! With Regis and Kelly: It’ll be Nov. 18, the Friday before Thanksgiving.
The detail came after Monday’s kickoff of the show’s new season, which has been dubbed Philbin’s “Celebration Farewell Season” and includes plans for months of trivia contests and flashback clips from the last 28 years.
In January, Philbin announced he’d be stepping away from his 28-year morning gig, joking that, “There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people.”
Sources told TMZ at the time that the decision came after ABC execs told his agent the host’s next contract would include a pay cut. Philbin, who’d dumped his longtime agency a day after announcing his plans to leave Live! denied that assertion, saying he’d actually made up his mind to leave “a long time ago.”
On Monday, Kelly Ripa took offense to the 80-year-old host referring to the eventuality of “our final show,” pointing out that the morning talker would go on after his departure. Ripa pulled up a seat next to Reege in 2001, permanently filling a spot left vacant by Kathie Lee Gifford in 2000.
“You mean the show isn’t wrapping up?” joked a faux-flummoxed Philbin.
And so—let the flashbacks begin.
Gene Simmons And Shannon Tweed To Tie The Knot Oct. 1
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press
(September 02, 2011) Los Angeles— Kiss bassist Gene Simmons and his decades-long partner Shannon Tweed plan to tie the knot next month. Their wedding invitation, displayed on People.com, shows the wedding is set for Oct. 1 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. The invite requests “classy cocktail attire” even though “we know some Rockstar attire will be worn.” Simmons, now 61, and Tweed, who is 54, star in a reality TV series called Family Jewels with their two adult children, Nick and Sophie. In late July, it was announced that Tweed, a former Playboy model, would have a road named after her in Saskatoon called “Tweed Lane.” Tweed was born in Newfoundland, but her family moved to Saskatoon, where she graduated from Mount Royal Collegiate.
TNT Cancels Jada Pinkett Smith’s ‘HawthoRNe’; Actress Thanks
(Sep 02, 2011) *After three seasons, TNT has canceled the medical drama “HawthoRNe,” the network announced today. The series, which starred Jada Pinkett Smith as hospital executive Christina Hawthorne and Michael Vartan as her husband, surgeon Tom Wakefield, aired its final episode on Aug. 16. TNT said in a statement it “truly appreciates the tremendous dedication of everyone involved in ‘HawthoRNe.’ The series gave TNT the opportunity to work with many outstanding people, including Jada Pinkett Smith and the rest of the show’s talented cast, crew, producers and writers. We wish everyone involved with ‘HawthoRNe’ nothing but the best.” The actress herself broke the news earlier today on her personal WhoSay page. “Hey everyone…if you don’t know Hawthorne will not be returning for another season,” she wrote. “I want to say thank you to all the fans for being Hawthorne soldiers,” she added. “All our facebook fans…twitter soldiers and viewers…you held us down. Of course you know there is more to come…believe it!” The series had generated headlines recently, with rumors that Smith and her castmate Marc Anthony, recently split from his wife Jennifer Lopez, had engaged in an affair. Smith and her husband, Will Smith, issued a statement denying the rumor.
Eriq La Salle to Play Another TV Doc, This Time on CBS
(Sep 07, 2011) *Eriq La Salle, who starred as Dr. Benton on NBC’s ”ER,” is returning to both series television as well as a role set in a fictional hospital. The actor has booked a multiepisode arc on CBS’ upcoming Patrick Wilson medical drama “A Gifted Man,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. La Salle will recur as neuropsychiatrist Evan Morrison, a physician who treats those with emotional and behavioural disturbances. Morrison is described as a great medical detective who focuses on the nuances of human behaviour. He’ll appear in at least four episodes of the series. The role reunites La Salle with “Gifted Man” executive producer Neal Baer, who also was an EP on “ER.” “Gifted Man” revolves around Wilson’s Michael, a competitive surgeon whose world is turned upside down when his ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle) begins teaching him the meaning of life from the hereafter. La Salle, who helmed an episode of “ER,” also might direct at least one episode of the drama, which executive producers Baer and Sarah Timberman said will be equally about medicine and science with a touch of spirituality. La Salle is currently directing an episode of the CW’s upcoming Sarah Michelle Gellar action drama “Ringer.”
The Big Interview: Kim
Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian
(Sep 01, 2011) LONDON — The man for all seasons sits smiling at the woman for all occasions.
It’s a radiant late summer day in Chelsea when I arrive at the grounds of Chelsea Old Church where Kim Cattrall is rehearsing the production of Private Lives, which begins performances at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on Sept. 16, opposite her new leading man, Paul Gross.
The first thing I see is a statue of Sir Thomas More, whose private chapel was on these grounds and he’s gazing much more benevolently on me than he ever did on Henry VIII.
I’d like to think it’s because of the presence of Cattrall, whose charm could thaw the heart of the sternest dogmatist.
As she reaches out to shake hands, there’s not even the slightest trace of Samantha Jones, the sex-crazed vixen she played so successfully on Sex and the City.
Wearing so little makeup that you can see a few seasonal freckles dappling her skin, she still looks smashing and seems perfectly suited to play Noel Coward’s Amanda, a smart sophisticate who only realizes how much she loved her ex-husband when she runs into him on the honeymoon she’s taking with her new spouse.
“Some people don’t want you to be anything other than what they’ve gotten used to, but I enjoy fighting that preconception,” she says, settling down into a chair.
“I know there are people who’ll come to Private Lives just because of Sex and the City, but I hope they’ll stay and enjoy it, even though I’m nothing like Samantha in it at all.”
Cattrall’s low, husky voice is musical, but the tune seems to span three countries, which only makes sense, since she’s a citizen of England, Canada and the United States.
She was born in Liverpool, England on Aug. 21, 1956, but moved to Courtney, B.C. when she was only 3 months old and started her stage and screen career in America before she was out of her teens.
“I was a bit odd as a kid,” she admits, “because there were so little outlets for me. There was no theatre, except for the odd community theatre and school shows. The only movie theatre was at the Canadian Forces Base nearby in Comox, so it either showed kiddie flicks for the families and restricted stuff for the men.”
Her eyes sparkle. “But the woods were everywhere and I would play games there I made up with my friends, or by myself.”
Obviously sensing it would be a watershed moment in her life, Cattrall has perfect recall for her stage debut at the age of 10 in a school show called Piffle, It’s Only a Sniffle and her first line was the immortal “Hooray, hip, hip. I’m postnasal drip.”
She laughs wickedly. “I enjoyed making people laugh. I discovered that I loved that power over them. On stage, I felt I could really express who I was for the first time.”
Astute schoolteachers and relatives sensed the young Cattrall had something special going on and pointed her towards studies in England at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and in Manhattan at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
“It was an incredible time for me. I was still a teenager, but I was getting to see and work with some of the greatest talents around.”
Film director Otto Preminger visited the school, was impressed with Cattrall and cast her in his film, Rosebud. But not only did she find the experience of working with the dictatorial man “disheartening”, she didn’t have a green card and had to return to Canada when her student visa expired.
So she did some lunchtime theatre in Vancouver, played Janet opposite Brent Carver’s Frank-n-Furter in an iconic Toronto production of The Rocky Horror Show as well as a role in Martin Kinch’s Me at Toronto Free Theatre.
But fate smiled, in the form of an agent from MCA Universal who remembered her from Rosebud and Cattrall was offered a long-term contract with the studio.
It sounded glamorous, but it meant that she could be loaned out at will to whoever wanted her and although the end result was endless appearances on TV series and some really appalling films (Police Academy, Turk 182, Porky’s), there were excellent ones as well (see Five Faves below) and Cattrall now feels in hindsight that “all in all, I have nothing to complain about.”
Still, she wasn’t exactly a household name until Sex and the City broke onto the world in 1998. Although many people remember it for its gorgeous clothes (especially the shoes!), intense sexual activity and witty banter from a quartet of Cosmopolitan-quaffing hotties, Cattrall feels there was a lot more happening underneath that made the series so popular.
“People were ready for that point of view. It was fresh. It was uncharted. When the Equal Rights Amendment didn’t go through, a lot of people abandoned ship. I consider myself a feminist living in a post-feminist era.” She laughs. I told that to Gloria Steinem once and she said ‘No, that doesn’t’ exist.’ And I just heard today on Radio 4 that women are still making 15% less than men in almost all areas of the workplace, so I guess she was right.
“Shows like Sex and the City got women involved again in a political way. They were drawn into the personal stories of the four women who together make up one complete cosmopolitan woman. We want to have community and the show filled that void in our lives: friendship between women.”
Having finally been given that one big break every actor dreams of, Cattrall showed the stuff she was made of by using it properly once the series was off the air.
“I don’t feel I have been boxed in by the character. But I did feel a need to get away when it was finished, away from the buzz of it and the phenomenon of it.
“I asked myself, ‘How can I turn this around?’ because the hardest thing to have in this business is longevity. So I took the fame and the bankability the series had given me and used it in totally unexpected ways.”
The first was her bold appearance on the London stage in the play Whose Life Is It Anyway?, portraying a quadriplegic who seeks the right to die with dignity.
“I felt it offered me grit and determination and charisma and working on it gave me a lot of joy, so I kept digging.”
She followed that with a production of David Mamet’s The Cryptogram that was well-received and that brought director Richard Eyre to her and they planned a production of Ibsen’s Ghosts.
“Just as we were about to announce it, another production came forward and we had to cancel ours. Yes, it was disappointing, but you learn to put those things behind you and move on.”
But in a matter of a few weeks, the team of Cattrall and Eyre were asked to tackle a revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives.
“I read 14 pages of it, then called Richard up and said ‘We should do this.’ He agreed, saying ‘It would be great fun,’ and that’s just what it has been.” It opened for a successful London run last year and now it’s being remounted to play Toronto and New York.
Cattrall has learned that honesty is important while playing Coward, but it’s not the only thing necessary.
“Rhythm is all-important. It’s like grabbing onto a train and holding on for dear life. You know immediately if you’ve hit the wrong word or the wrong syllable or whatever. Comedy is all about timing and it’s very unforgiving. But I go where the good writing is and it carries me along with it.”
I thought of Cattrall’s words as I ambled down Cheyne Walk, past the home of Henry James, an author who shared more in common with her than it might at first seem.
He once said something that could encapsulate her view of why she’s in her chosen profession.
“”We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
KIM’S FIVE FAVE ROLES
Sex and the City — The scripts were written by gay men and young women, which was a perfect mix. It was our answer to Restoration Comedy.
Mannequin — Many people mock this film, but I think it has a genuine sweetness about it and I’m still very fond of it
Whose Life Is It Anyway? — Death with dignity is a cause that I believe in and this play supports that and also provided me with an incredible role.
Private Lives — It’s Coward on the impossibility of living with and living without the person you love. It’s a very wise and witty play.
Ticket to Heaven — We had to shoot this in sequence because of Nick Mancuso’s journey through the cult and that brought us all closer together.
Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain
Source: Kam Williams
(September 4, 2011) Kevin Hart has enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity lately after having basically divided his time over the last decade between acting and making the rounds on the comedy club circuit. He’s played the second banana in dozens of films such as Not Easily Broken, Soul Plane, and Scary Movie 3 and 4 before landing a role as a leading man in 2011 in 35 and Ticking.
Also this year, the 5’4” funnyman embarked on a 90-city standup tour entitled “Laugh at My Pain” where he brought his unique brand of observational humour to venues all across the country. This concert flick of the same name ostensibly features his act at its best, as it was recorded on the last stop of the traveling show at the Nokia Theatre in L.A.
While undeniably hilarious in spots, the uninitiated ought to be forewarned that Hart’s delivery is peppered with plenty of curses and ethnic slurs. For example, in one bit about the children’s game “Duck, Duck, Goose,” he replaces “goose” with the N-word.
As for the subject-matter, most of the jokes are of the self-deprecating variety in which the diminutive complains about having to deal with his size and with being abused by various members of his dysfunctional family, especially his father. Via personal reflections, we learn that Kevin was left traumatized by his drug-addicted dad who never wore underwear (“You’re gonna learn what a long dick looks like today”) and who also threw him into 7 feet of water before he had learned how to swim.
Too bad the material is often needlessly raunchy, since Hart is colourful enough to entertain without needing to rely on so many salty adjectives. Better brace yourself to laugh as much at Kevin’s profane language as at his pain!
Good (2 stars)
Rated R for sexual humour, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity.
Running time: 88 minutes
Distributor: CodeBlack Entertainment
To see a trailer for Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain, see below:
When The Rain Stops Falling: Haunting, Simple And Beautiful
Source: www.globeandmail.com - By J. Kelly Nestruck
(September 1, 2011) They saved the best for last in the Shaw Festival's golden anniversary season.
Australian playwright Andrew Bovell's 2008 epic When the Rain Stops Falling begins in Alice Springs with an extinct fish falling from the sky at the feet of Gabriel York (Ric Reid), who is about to be reunited with a son he abandoned decades before. This takes place in the year 2039, making this the second play this season, after Bernard Shaw's On The Rocks, to be set in the future - though in that case Shaw's speculative future has at this point become an alternative past.
From this startling beginning, Bovell's drama swims upstream through time to our present and beyond to delve into the lives and loves of Gabriel's British father Gabriel Law (Jeff Meadows) and grandfather Henry Law (the exquisite Graeme Somerville), each of whom took a fateful trip from English to Australia and left sons to grow up fatherless.
With its genealogical journey that spans the planet and a central, horrific secret waiting to be unwrapped at its centre, When the Rain Stops Falling will come across to Canadians as an antipodean companion piece to our Wajdi Mouawad's Scorched.
As with Mouawad, Bovell has his characters echo lines of dialogue that gradually gather in resonance across generations. Seven postcards that a distraught Henry sends to his son Gabriel from Australia in the 1960s become a disconcerting chorus with their unsettling references to the planet Saturn, named after the Roman god who devoured his children. Seemingly simple comments about odd weather slowly tap into our deepest fears surrounding all the devastating forces of nature beyond our control, both in and outside of ourselves.
Director Peter Hinton's production of this poetic pretzel of a play is his best work in years - full of haunting images but also simple and clear in the way a play with three homophonic characters (Gabriel, Gabriel and Gabrielle) needs to be so as not to leave the audience behind.
With the help of an elegantly designed set by Camellia Koo (and a well-sculpted sonic landscape from Richard Feren), Hinton stages most of the action on or around a dining room table where family members meet to eat and almost catch glimpses of one another across time. This table also doubles as Uluru or Ayers Rock, the famous natural wonder of Australia that here is central to the play.
Though Ric Reid seizes attention off the top with Gabriel's message from the future, the production can't be said to have any stand-out performances - just beautifully blended ensemble acting telling a story that gradually becomes as engrossing as any mystery novel.
The quartet of women in the cast double up on characters: Krista Colosimo and Wendy Thatcher take turns playing the younger and older versions of gutsy and grounded Gabrielle York, who grows up in a remote region of Australia and whose life is twice turned upside by visiting Brits. Tara Rosling and Donna Belleville are slightly less in sync as two versions of the nervous, intellectual Elizabeth Law, who is married to the melancholy Henry, whose actions turn her world upside down and similarly sends the action spiralling off to the opposite hemisphere.
There's an awful lot of coincidence in When the Rain Stops Falling, but when a play begins with an fish falling from a rainstorm, a certain amount a poetic licence is expected and granted. That fish turns out to be a symbol of hope for our ability to heal, as a species or family, if not always as individuals. Indeed, Hinton's wrenching final image, a dinner party where only one family member is left out, suggests that, sadly, some crimes are too big to be forgiven.
When the Rain Stops Falling
Written by Andrew Bovell
Directed by Peter Hinton
Starring Jeff Meadows and Krista Colosimo
At the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
To Sept. 17
Roastmaster Jeffrey Ross Turns Up The Heat To Broil
Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser
(Sep 02, 2011) Jeffrey Ross goes a bit easier in long doses. Though he's best known as the Roastmaster General — perhaps the most lethal weapon seen in U.S. cable's TV roast series — his standup comedy sets are a bit more genial than the arsenal of barbs he has unleashed on celebs:
• Hulk Hogan: “Hulk, what are you hiding under that bandana? I know it's not career opportunities.”
• Courtney Love: “How is it possible that Courtney Love looks worse than Kurt Cobain?”
• Joan Rivers: “This isn't a roast, it's an autopsy . . . Kanye's mom had a better plastic surgeon . . . Who knows, maybe next year we'll roast the younger Rivers. Of course I'm talking about the Amazon and the Euphrates.”
• William Shatner: “Look at yourself, Shatner, you have let yourself boldly go. When did you go from Captain Kirk to Captain Crunch?”
So he's a natural headliner at the Nasty Show, Saturday night's standup package ($30-$45) at Casino Rama. It's a privilege the 46-year-old New Jersey native has earned, sharpening his wit for years writing for TV shows and labouring in comedy clubs.
“It takes a decade to build a comedian,” Ross says on the phone from Los Angeles. “In the beginning the jokes were softer (and) the stuff you see in roasts just began as crowd work, me ticking people in the audience off, one by one.”
As you can see on his standup special No Offence, Ross's long standup sets have a lot broader reach than stars' foibles. He has an easygoing, almost offhand delivery as a standup, as when he mocks his cousin for asking exactly how their 104-year-old aunt died.
“Her chute didn't open. How'd she die? She was 104! She was trampled at a Wu-Tang concert . . . her Harley flipped over on the Jersey Turnpike . . . She died during childbirth, Stu. She gave birth to 74-year-old twins last night.”
It's the voice of a man who's a reliable joke generator; before his standup career began gathering momentum, he says, “I was always thinking of myself as a writer first,” but that was before the roasts.
In 1998, he was an improbably young member of the New York Friars' Club, that once-famed comedy hangout, which returned to televising its roasts. (“I've always had an affinity for the older comics, and I think it's because my grandfather and I lived together for years when I was young,” Ross says, explaining why he would choose to socialize with liver spotted legends.)
Ross blistered those in attendance — suggesting Alan King had lost on Star Search to Mark Twain, and that Drew Carey is to comedy “what Mariah Carey is to comedy” — and his reputation began to take hold. As a result, he's writing less and less for others, as you might imagine.
“It's not that it's harder, it's less exciting. When I'm out there myself it's funnier because there's less filters,” he says, recalling writing for Billy Crystal for the 2000 Oscars and summoning devastating material “all too dirty for the Oscars.”
The Roastmaster thinks it may be time for a big music star — Kanye West, P. Diddy, John Mayer — to get the roast treatment, but “we're all sensitive people and you have to have a thick skin to volunteer for this.”
By that standard the very next target is perfect: the roast of Charlie Sheen, not yet taped, will air Sept. 19 on the Comedy Network, which Ross expects will be “somewhere between a roast and a rally and a riot.”
Ross will surely go a bit easier on us, but he warns that his standup these days involves “an interactive element where I call members out of the audience for a speed roasting.”
Like a cold reading?
“More like a cold beating.”
Just the Facts
What: The Nasty Show, with Jeffrey Ross, Mike Wilmot, Thea Vidale and Ari Shaffir
Where: Casino Rama
When: Saturday, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $30-$45 at casinorama.com or ticketmaster.ca
Famed Nigerian Dance Spectacle
Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian
(Sep 06, 2011) Fela!, the joyous African dance-theatre-spectacle which has already thrilled audiences and critics in New York as well as London, will ignite Toronto from Oct. 25 – Nov. 6 at the Canon Theatre, the Star has learned.
Mirvish Productions will be bringing the work here just after concluding a triumphant run in the West End, following a sold-out engagement at the National Theatre.
When this kinetic musical biography of Nigerian composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti opened on Broadway in 2009, Ben Brantley of the New York Times raved “There should be dancing in the streets … (it’s) a singular, sensational show that throbs with a stirring newness.”
And on the occasion of its London debut in 2010, Michael Billington in The Guardian exulted over a show that “joyfully breaks down conventional barriers between stage and auditorium, and joins passion and politics. The dancing is ecstatic, the music lifts the spirits, and the stage is alive with movement.”
All this is not just to entertain us, but to make us aware of a man who was an icon in his native Nigeria, but is largely unknown to most of North America.
Fela was a true subversive artist, writing extraordinarily infectious music that grabbed the people’s ears, but once caught, he filled them with sardonic satiric rants against the various military regimes who ruled in his country.
In the course of his life (1938-1997), he was arrested over 200 times and beaten by the authorities so often that his body was completely covered with scars.
Still he endured and produced over 50 albums of music. New Yorker Stephen Hendel discovered Fela’s work and was so moved by his music and his message that in 2004, he sought out famed choreographer Bill T Jones and invited him to help create a piece of theatre inspired by the man’s mission as well as his songs.
It took 4 years to bring it to the stage and it opened just 3 years ago, in Sept. 2008 at the off-Broadway 37 Arts Theatre B.
The show instantly became the talk of the town, with celebrities fighting to get in to see the sold-out performances before it closed a limited run a month later.
It took a year to get it to Broadway but when it did, the leading producers were names that you normally never see in that position:
Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
As noted before, the critics raved and the audiences filled the theatres for 463 performances. The show was also nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 3 (Best Choreography, Best Costume Design of a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Musical).
Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner’s decision to mount Fela! at the National Theatre as part of his seasonal repertory caused many raised eyebrows, but they were replaced by wide-eyed wonder after the show opened on Nov. 16, 2010 to a chorus of unanimous raves and an audience reaction that equalled it.
And now it’s Toronto’s turn to share the feeling that Brantley described when he wrote, “By the end of this transporting production, you feel you have been dancing with the stars. And I mean astral bodies, not dime-a-dozen celebrities.”
Cheaper iPhone 4 Weeks Away:
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Clare Jim and Kelvin Soh, Reuters
(August 23, 2011) Taipei/Hong Kong— Asian suppliers to Apple Inc. AAPL-Q have begun manufacturing a lower-priced version of its hot-selling iPhone 4 with a smaller 8 gigabyte flash drive, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The flash drive for the 8GB iPhone 4 is being manufactured by a Korean company, one of the people said on Tuesday, declining to name the company. Apple currently sources its flash drives from Japan’s Toshiba and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics .
The sources declined to be identified because the information has not been made public.
Apple, which demands high levels of secrecy and security from suppliers and employees, declined to comment. Samsung also declined to comment.
The existing iPhone 4 was first launched in June 2010 with 16 GB and 32 GB versions, with a white version added to the lineup in April. The 8GB version is expected to launch within weeks, the sources said.
Some analysts said the cheaper 8GB iPhone 4 could help Apple boost sales in emerging markets.
“Apple may want to push into the emerging market segment where customers want to switch to low- to mid-end smart phones from high-end feature phones, which usually cost $150-200,” said Yuanta Securities analyst Bonnie Chang.
“But I think for an 8GB iPhone 4 the price is hard to go below $200, so Apple will still need a completely new phone with low specifications for the emerging markets.”
In addition to the launch of the smaller iPhone 4, Apple is targeting an end-September launch for the next-generation iPhone 5, one source said, confirming earlier reports on Apple follower blogsites and industry websites.
The new iPhone, which some call the iPhone 4S because of its largely identical appearance to the existing iPhone 4, will have a bigger touch screen, better antenna and an 8-megapixel camera, one of the people said.
The iPhone 5’s two manufacturers have been told to prepare production capacity for up to 45 million units altogether, the source said. The phone will be made by Hon Hai and Pegatron , the person added.
Apple sold 20.34 million iPhones in the second quarter versus an expected 17 million to 18 million, and is increasingly looking to Asia to boost future earnings.
The company’s COO Tim Cook said in July the company is particularly optimistic about Greater China.
“I firmly believe that we are just scratching the surface right now,” Mr. Cook said about China. “I think there is an incredible opportunity for China there.”
Asia-Pacific -- which accounts for about one-fifth of its total revenue -- and Greater China in particular, helped Apple’s revenue surge 82 per cent to $28.6-billion (U.S) in April-June.
Overall, Asia-Pacific revenue more than tripled to $6.3-billion in the quarter.
Google Bought Motorola To
Protect Android: Sony Ericsson
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Tarmo Virki, Reuters
(September 1, 2011) BERLIN— Smartphone vendor Sony Ericsson said it saw Google’s acquisition of rival Motorola Mobility as a move to protect Google’s Android software from legal attacks by rivals.
All the latest Sony Ericsson smartphone models use Google’s Android software and it is one of the top vendors on the platform globally.
Google and handset makers using the platform have been under numerous legal challenges from Apple, Microsoft and others.
Apple has also seen the first court-room success in its attempts to block Samsung Electronics from selling some of its Android devices.
“It is important for us to protect the Android ecosystem,” Nikolaus Scheurer, head of product marketing at Sony Ericsson said in an interview.
Last month Google unveiled its biggest deal ever, acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5-billion, launching it into a lower-margin manufacturing business and pitting it against many of the 38 other handset companies that now use Google’s Android software.
The move has raised fears that some top Android vendors like Sony Ericsson could seek other platforms for their smartphones.
“Google confirmed that this is not making Google a hardware manufacturer. I assume the global marketshare of Motorola is somewhere around 15 per cent in Android. I think everybody would agree that it does not really make sense to jeopardize 85 per cent of your business,” Mr. Scheurer said.
Sony Ericsson has held on to its option of using Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, but has not rolled out a new Microsoft model for several quarters.
Sony Ericsson’s smartphones were showcased at the IFA trade fair in Berlin inside the Sony hall, mixed with Sony’s TV sets and new tablets.
“We showcase ourselves to consumers as one Sony family,” Mr. Scheurer said.
When asked whether Sony’s entrance to tablets meant Sony Ericsson would not enter the new market, Mr. Scheurer said: “Right now we are concentrating on smartphones.”
The venture – which hopes to benefit from close links to Sony brands – will also launch Sony’s music and video services to its consumers over coming weeks. It has gained from the popularity of Sony’s Walkman and Cybershot brands over years, and earlier this year rolled out PlayStation phone Xperia Play.
“We really want to differentiate on top of Android. A lot of our differentiation will come from Sony,” Mr. Scheurer said.
Many analysts say Sony needs to assert control over Sony Ericsson if the venture is to recoup market share in the cut-throat world of smartphones.
The company has struggled with shrinking sales – stemming from its late push into smartphones – but Mr. Scheurer shrugged off some analysts’ concerns that sales at the venture have shrunk so much that large operators could opt to work with others.
“I don’t see that hampering us,” he said.
Left Foot On Blue: Twister
Video Game Coming Soon
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Liana B. Baker, Reuters
(August 29, 2011) NEW YORK— Fans of the 45-year-old classic party game Twister will soon be able to put their left foot on blue and their right hand on yellow in a new video game out this holiday season.
Majesco Entertainment Co., the video game publisher known for “Zumba Fitness” titles licensed the classic game brand from Hasbro Inc., the second-largest toymaker in the United States after Mattel Inc.
Majesco Chief Executive Jesse Sutton told Reuters the Twister video game will cost $49 and be in stores Nov. 1st.
No Twister mat or spinner is needed since the game will be played on the Microsoft Corp Kinect, the motion-sensor that accompanies the Xbox game console that lets people play games without controllers.
“This is using your full body as a game piece,” said Majesco’s chief marketing officer, Christina Glorioso. “Obviously this translates significantly to Kinect.”
The Party Play mode is for Twister purists who can play the game on a virtual Twister mat on the television, but there are 15 other ways for up to 8 people to play the game, including dodging and ducking shapes that pop up on-screen.
Majesco will market the game heavily with live events and television commercials.
CEO Sutton said in an interview the company intends to convince investors it can achieve success outside “Zumba Fitness,” which has sold 3 million units globally.
About 67 per cent of Majesco’s revenue for the six months ended April 30 came from its Zumba game.
“Investors right now just look at Zumba, but Twister is definitely one of the products we see as a major potential hit,” Sutton said.
He added the nostalgia around Twister will help it click with consumers. He declined to give details about the company’s licensing agreement with Hasbro.
Majesco is one of the smaller publicly traded video game companies with a market capitalization of under $90-million. Its shares have more than tripled this year and closed 4.5 per cent higher at $2.30 Friday on the Nasdaq.
How To Cruise The
Mediterranean On A Budget
Source: www.thestar.com - Rick Steves
(August 22, 2011) When I was growing up, cruising was a rich person’s hobby. The goal was not travel, but hedonism: See if you can eat five meals a day and still snorkel when you get into port. But these days there’s a cruise ship for just about every kind of traveller and the thriving cruise industry is catering to low-budget travellers as well as the high-rollers.
I still believe that European travellers in search of engaging, enlightening experiences should eat, sleep and live on terra firma. But cruising is more popular than ever and, for many, it’s a great choice. As my passion has long been helping independent travellers make the most of their time and money, my staff and I have written a guidebook on Mediterranean cruise ports. Here are a few insights to pack along if you’re considering a cruise.
Cruises let you sample different destinations, then decide where you’d like to return someday. You can efficiently visit several dynamically diverse destinations in a single week without wasting valuable hours packing, hauling your bags to the station and sitting on a train. Short of sleeping on a park bench, there is no more affordable way to see Europe than cruising. On the cheapest cruises, you and your partner can travel for less than $100 per night, and you get a comfy place to sleep, transportation between multiple destinations and all the chocolate-dipped strawberries you can eat.
• Though cruising is affordable, extra expenses, such as alcohol, Internet access, spa treatments, casino games and cheesy gangway photos, can add up quickly. Passengers can unwittingly rack up bills that exceed the original cost of the trip. To avoid surprises, check your balance at the front desk every few days.
• To keep your bill from bloating, buy as little as possible while on board, as things are usually more expensive on your ship than on land. To check email, visit an Internet café in port rather than on board. For souvenirs, do your shopping in port (ideally away from the main tourist areas) rather than on the ship.
• One of the biggest optional expenses on a cruise are shore excursions. Though these can make sightseeing easy and efficient, saving you the time and hassle of figuring out how to get into town on your own, in many destinations they simply aren’t worth the expense.
For example, in Barcelona, Nice, Dubrovnik, Venice and Istanbul, the cruise ports are so close to town that you can easily reach the major sights on your own. In Barcelona, a cheap shuttle bus goes directly from the port to the bottom of the Ramblas, the lively pedestrian drag that runs through the heart of the Old City. In Venice, an express boat zips passengers straight from port to St. Mark’s Square in 20 minutes — or you can walk through the magical, tourist-free backstreets in about an hour.
Excursions aren’t always a rip-off. Certain sights, such as the ancient Roman ruins of Ephesus in Turkey, involve a complicated journey by public transit. An excursion takes care of transportation and comes with a knowledgeable local guide who can bring the ruins to life.
• Not all food is included in your cruise fare. Many ships have specialty restaurants, such as a steakhouse or sushi restaurant, that cost extra. Skip these restaurants in favour of the main dining room, where the food is typically good and, even better, included in the price. If you’re heading out for a long day in port, help yourself to a big breakfast and bag up the leftovers to keep you going until dinnertime. It may not be classy, but it’s cheap.
• Because alcohol, name-brand soft drinks and specialty coffee drinks all cost extra, beverage tabs can rise quickly. Instead of Diet Coke, develop a taste for iced tea or juice, which are usually included. (To satisfy a craving for pop, get it cheap at local grocery stores.) Some cruise lines ban passengers from bringing alcohol on board, but others allow limited bottles of wine and beer. Before you set sail, find out your cruise line’s policy on taking alcohol aboard; if it’s more lenient, B.Y.O.B. to save some bucks.
• Take advantage of other onboard freebies. Rather than buy a book, check one out from the ship’s library. Instead of watching a pay-per-view movie in your cabin, enjoy the free shows. Hang out by the pool, take an art class or join a trivia game. Read your daily program: There’s something free going on virtually every minute of every day.
You don’t have to avoid extras entirely. After all, you’re on vacation. As long as you keep your spending under control, a cruise can still be one of the cheapest ways to experience Europe.
Fare Deals: British Airways
Puts Europe On Sale
Source: www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott
(August 31, 2011) There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep in a hotel room to shake off a long trans-Atlantic flight. And if that hotel room is free, so much the better. British Airways’ “Europe For Free” sale includes two free hotel nights with discounted airfares, to London and beyond, for travel this fall and winter. Participating hotels include the Hilton Docklands and the Royal National in London as well as the Kennedy Hotel and the Duke Hotel in Rome, Ibis Wenceslas Square in Prague and the Nova Hotel & Apartments in Amsterdam, among others. Roundtrip to London airfares from Toronto start at $460 (not including taxes and fees) and are non-refundable and carry a weekend surcharge of $30 each way. The sale runs through Sept. 5 at midnight and applies to travel Oct. 29 to Dec. 14, and again from Dec. 24 to March 26. Double occupancy gets you the two free nights; with single occupancy, it’s one free night. There’s also a minimum stay of one Saturday night. See www.ba.com/sale.
WINTER ON LAKE HURON
The Winter Pre-Sale at the Little Inn of Bayfield offers $75 off per night, double occupancy, for packages including a la carte dinners and full breakfasts. The deal applies to stays in January, February and March, for bookings made by Oct. 31. Rates start at $250, down from $325, for one of the Original Rooms, and range up to $330 (down from $405) for a Select Suite. The Little Inn of Bayfield sits on Lake Huron, about a two-hour drive from Toronto. See www.littleinn.com.
GREAT GALAPAGOS SAVINGS
CIT Tours is taking 10 per cent off the price of its Galapagos Island cruise packages, now leading in at $2,069 per person for all 2011 departures booked by Sept. 30. The three-night cruises onboard the 100-passenger Galapagos Legend or the smaller Galapagos Coral I or Coral II (20 to 36 passengers) come with a three-night hotel stay and city tour in Quito, plus domestic flights to and from Baltra to pick up the cruise. Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is a bustling South American city and worth a visit, but of course the real highlight with this package is the Galapagos cruise, stopping at North Seymour Island, Santa Cruz and Espanola to see sea lions, iguanas and the famous blue-footed boobies, and San Cristobal for its giant tortoise breeding centre. See www.cittours.ca.
BEST BUY OF THE WEEK
Nine Palace Resorts properties in Mexico and the Dominican Republic are taking part in a Kids Stay Free promotion, available for travel through Dec. 23 for bookings of three nights or more. The deal is valid for up to two kids per room, ages four to 12. Palace Resorts also has a Resort Credit promotion worth up to $1,500 (U.S.) for bookings through Oct. 31, for travel until Dec. 23. See www.palaceresorts.com.
Kathryn Folliott is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Prices quoted are subject to change and availability.
PICKS OF THE WEEK
Sunquest: Aruba, air & hotel, $1,359 (Sept. 18). www.sunquest.ca
Air Canada Vacations: St. Lucia, air & hotel, $1,428 (Sept. 11). www.aircanadavacations.com
Nolitours: Panama, air & hotel, $549 (Nov. 14). www.nolitours.com
Signature Vacations: Montego Bay, air & hotel, $895 (Nov. 21). www.signaturevacations.com
Transat Holidays: Greece Island Hopping, air, hotel & cruise, $1,249 (Oct. 7). www.transatholidays.com
Bel Air Travel: Huatulco, air & hotel, $705 (Oct. 24). www.belairtravel.com
Sunwing Vacations: Varadero, air & hotel, $295 (Sept. 23). www.sunwing.ca
Sell Off Vacations: Santa Clara, air & hotel, $385 (Sept. 12). www.selloffvacations.com
itravel2000: Three-night Nassau, air & hotel, $489 (Nov. 10). www.itravel2000.com
Sears Travel: London, air & hotel, $776 (Sept. 24). www.searstravel.ca
WestJet Vacations: Grand Cayman, air & hotel, $829 (Oct. 2). www.westjetvacations.com
Tour East Holidays: 10-night Turkey, air, hotel, sightseeing, meals, $3,999 for 2 (Nov. 14). www.toureast.com
Kamloops’ Catharine Pendrel Wins Mountain Biking World Title In
Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman
(September 03, 2011) Canadian mountain biker Catharine Pendrel needed an answer before the London Olympics: Could she summon what it takes to win a big race?
There'd be some excruciating close calls. She was fourth at the Beijing Olympics, falling back when a late gear change went wrong. At last year's worlds on home soil in Mont Ste-Anne, Que., she slipped from second to fourth in the final stretch.
Not this time, though.
Pendrel answered any doubts emphatically Saturday with a gold medal win in the women's cross-country race at the world mountain bike championships in Champery, Switzerland.
“I think kind of what I learned last year was just because you're on good form doesn't mean that there won't be a different game when it comes to world championships,” Pendrel said in a telephone interview. “People are able to find something else, to put in an extra level of preparation for big events. Knowing that and how hard it is, I knew how much I'd have to fight and have to want it.
“I'm glad I figured that out now because when it comes to the Olympics next year I don't want to be thinking 'Do I have what it takes to win?' I wanted to figure that out now.”
That she had the right mindset needed is evident to her reaction to Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong's silver medal performance at the world track and field championships.
Pendrel and Armstrong share a lot in common. They both live in Kamloops, B.C., and have also been matching each other's results of late at major competitions. They were both fourth in Beijing. They were both fourth last year at their respective world championships. Something about the water in Kamloops, perhaps?
“As much as I was excited for Dylan getting second, I thought 'Dylan, I'm going to have to one up you this year,'“ said Pendrel.
Pendrel finished 28 seconds ahead of reigning world champion Maja Wloszczowska of Poland with her winning time of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 16 seconds. Eva Lechner of Italy was third, about a minute and a half behind.
After a strong start, Pendrel was patient and conserved energy as Wloszczowska went out hard on the climbs, finally making her move to the front on one of the long descents. The Polish cyclist tried to close on the last lap, but Pendrel fended her off.
“Definitely on that last lap, you're just burying yourself and giving everything,” she said.
Emily Batty of Brooklin, Ont., the team's rising young star, placed an impressive eighth in the race to match her World Cup ranking in her rookie year on the senior circuit, one spot ahead of Canadian veteran Marie-Helene Premont.
If there was a disappointment, it was that French rival Julie Bresset was not in the race. They've battled head-to-head this season and Bresset edged her for the World Cup crown. Bresset had to race in the women's under-23 event because of UCI rules and she won that race. But Pendrel had established herself as the stronger rider in the last three races.
Olympic legend Clara Hughes, who was doing the commentary for CBC at last year's worlds, had said that fourth-place result would make Pendrel hungrier.
Her appetite sure seems voracious right now. The world title put an emphatic exclamation point on what's been a brilliant season for Pendrel, who won three World Cup races this season and the pre-Olympic race in London while earning the No. 1 world ranking.
“It's pretty cool, this was definitely one of my lifetime career goals in cycling,” said the 30-year-old. “It's going to take a while to sink in, but I get to wear the (world champion's) jersey for a year and to enjoy it and savour it.”
It's a white jersey with a rainbow strip across.
“I'm going to have to learn to keep white clean, but I'm willing to make the sacrifice,” she said.
Baumann’s Resignation A Big Loss For Canadian Olympic Sport
Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman
(Sep 07, 2011) Alex Bauman is careful with his words, rarely talks about himself, and will never try to tell you a bushel full of manure is a pot of gold like some sports bureaucrats do.
Perhaps, it’s that last quality that will be missed most.
The double Olympic swimming champion announced Wednesday he was resigning as the leader of Own The Podium to take a similar position in New Zealand.
His decision to return to the land Down Under reflects his character. His bout of prostate cancer eight months ago was a stark reminder that his wife Tracy and children Ashton and Tabitha are two days removed from their support system in Australia, where Tracy is from and all their relatives live.
Baumann has no living relatives in Canada — his mom and dad have passed away; his older brother Roman committed suicide in 1980.
Putting family first is always the right move, but Baumann’s departure after five years at OTP creates a huge leadership void. You just don’t replace a guy with his gravitas, integrity and commitment to excellence. More than half a dozen top athletes and officials interviewed Wednesday couldn’t come up with a single likely successor.
It was Baumann who stewarded OTP in the post-Vancouver Olympic era and maintained its autonomy at a time when COC president Marcel Aubut was gunning to bring it in house, which would have left it vulnerable to political influence.
There are those who believe Aubut forced Baumann’s hand. While there was plenty of conflict there, this was definitely Baumann’s call.
It’s the second big change in a week at the top of the Canadian Olympic sport hierarchy. Jean Dupre, CEO of the COC, resigned for “personal reasons” and was replaced by Chris Overholt, chief operating officer.
Gold medal eights rower Adam Kreek, a member of the COC’s Athletes Commission, says change has to be expected in high performance sport and believes things are in good hands.
“The COC has embraced the culture and mantra of an athlete,” said Kreek.
That remains to be seen, but the good news is none of this matters to the athletes getting ready for the London 2012 Games. Theirs is a singular focus and in the short term they should be well looked after by OTP’s director of summer sports, Anne Merklinger, a remarkably capable executive.
Baumann was not afraid to make the hard decisions, to tell under-performing sports they were getting a funding cut or even no funding at all.
“The challenge is making sure you don’t adopt a consensus approach, that everybody’s happy,” he said. “In the end you take everybody’s input but you have to make a decision and sometimes that decision is unpopular. But that’s what leadership is, in my opinion.”
Recently, when he read a feature about fiercely driven boxer Mary Spencer in the Star, Baumann remarked: “It would be nice if we had more like her.
“It’s kind of what the Australians used to say, that you need to have that mongrel in you,” said Baumann. “The intensity, the non-compromising attitude. The Australians say true athletes have that mongrel in them to be the best in the world and to not compromise.
“But also the other part of being that role model, which Mary is, and I have a lot of respect for her. That’s the kind of attitude. And Victor (Davis) had it. When he set his mind to something, there was no stopping him. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for. I don’t have a lot of time for complacency and things like that.
“We have to get away from this entitlement, that athletes are entitled to these things. You have to earn it. There’s no substitute for hard work and athletes need to understand that. The top athletes have that. People like Adam van Koeverden. In any country, it’s a small percentage of the population and you always want more.”
Baumann will be greatly missed, especially that mongrel part of him.
Runner Semenya Earns Silver In Return To Big Stage
Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Lehourites
(September 4, 2011) DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA—With a shiny silver medal hanging around her neck, Caster Semenya is already looking forward to another meeting with Nelson Mandela.
The South African runner, who won the 800 metres at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, finished second Sunday in her return to the global stage after sitting out nearly an entire year as she was engulfed in a gender controversy.
“I was doing this for him,” Semenya said of Mandela, the first black president of South Africa following the fall of apartheid. “He is a very good man and gave me good advice.
“I went to see him (after Berlin) and he said, ‘Just toughen up and face the world.’ I have to go visit him again now. When I get back home, I will go straight to him.”
Whatever Mandela said to her back then, Semenya listened.
The 20-year-old sat back in the pack for the first lap Sunday at Daegu Stadium but then moved into the lead with about 200 metres to go. After she made the turn into the home straight, however, Mariya Savinova of Russia took over.
Savinova ended up winning the race, and the gold medal, in one minute, 55.87 seconds. Semenya crossed in 1:56.35 and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya finished third in 1:57.42.
“I achieved what I wanted, which was to get back to the podium,” Semenya said. “For now, I now have to work as a professional athlete, stay strong and be positive. It wasn’t easy for me, but I had support from family, friends and my coach.”
After winning the gold in Berlin two years ago, Semenya’s muscular build and dramatic improvement in times led the IAAF to order gender tests. She was then forced out of competition for 11 months.
During that time, she threatened to take the governing body to court but was then cleared to run without explanation.
Until Sunday, she had not really come close to the 1:55.45 she ran in Berlin. And when she had to push harder to keep her gold medal in the event, she ran out of gas.
“As a normal person, you get tired,” Semenya said. “I wasn’t strong enough to finish fast.”
Semenya celebrated both on the track and on the podium with big smiles, but she again declined to talk about her past troubles. She has been media-shy since the news of her gender tests became public two years ago, repeatedly refusing to give interviews and instead concentrating on her running.
“Normally I don’t talk about the past. I’m still young and I have to focus on the future,” Semenya said. “Every human being has ups and downs, so you cannot always be happy. You have to toughen up, pull up your socks and face the world.”
She did, and she came away with another world championship medal.
“I have,” Semenya said, “a magic touch.”
NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon Dies
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(September 4, 2011) Lee Roy Selmon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Hall of Fame defensive end who teamed with his brothers to create a dominant defensive front and helped lead Oklahoma to consecutive national championships, died Sunday - two days after being hospitalized for a stroke. He was 56.
A statement released on behalf of his wife, Claybra Selmon, said he died at a Tampa hospital surrounded by family members.
"For all his accomplishments on and off the field, to us Lee Roy was the rock of our family. This has been a sudden and shocking event and we are devastated by this unexpected loss," the statement said.
Selmon was hospitalized Friday, and the Buccaneers confirmed later that he suffered a stroke.
"The guy just worked as hard as you could ever work and was just a great guy," said former Tampa Bay teammate Bill Kollar, now the Houston Texans' assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
"Never got mad, was just always great to everybody and it's hard to imagine that you could end up being a better person than Lee Roy was. Really, the guy was just an phenomenal person. ... It's obviously really a sad day. The guy was a great player and even a better person. It's just a shame that this happened to him."
The Glazer family, which owns the team, released a statement mourning him.
"Tampa Bay has lost another giant. This is an incredibly sombre day for Buccaneer fans, Sooner fans, and all football fans. Lee Roy's standing as the first Buc in the Hall of Fame surely distinguished him, but his stature off the field as the consummate gentleman put him in another stratosphere," the statement said.
Selmon and his brother, Dewey, were both chosen as All-Americans in 1975 when the Sooners won their second straight championship under Barry Switzer. They followed older brother Lucious to Oklahoma, and the three played together during the 1973 season.
News of Lee Roy Selmon's stroke had already spurred tributes to Selmon on Saturday, when members of the University of South Florida's football team wore his number on their helmet. Selmon had served as the school's athletic director from 2001 to 2004.
"We all loved him, and we're all deeply saddened," USF President Judy Genshaft said. "We're a better university because of Lee Roy Selmon. He was an incredible role model, who cared about all of our student-athletes, no matter what sport. He built an incredible legacy and he will never be forgotten."
Selmon followed his Hall of Fame college career with an equally impressive run in the NFL. He was the No. 1 pick in the 1976 draft - the first ever selection by expansion Tampa Bay - and suffered through a winless inaugural season before achieving success. In 1979, he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award when he helped Tampa Bay make it to the NFC championship game. The Buccaneers also won the NFC Central title two years later.
Selmon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. Presented by brother Dewey, Lee Roy said it was his family background that was noteworthy and not his accomplishments on the field.
"People have said, 'Your parents must be proud of you,' but I'm more proud of them," he said.
Selmon played a key role in the creation of the football program at South Florida, where he was the associate athletic director starting in 1993 and served as the AD from May 2001 until he stepped down in February 2004 because of health concerns.
While accompanying the South Florida football team to a game against Oklahoma in 2002, Lee Roy Selmon said he was humbled that Switzer had called him his greatest player.
"I see myself as just having been a teammate with so many great players and coaches," he told The Associated Press. "I'm floored by such a generous compliment."
Lee Roy Selmon was born Oct. 20, 1954, in Eufaula, Okla., to Jessie and Lucious Selmon Sr. and raised on a farm with eight siblings. The three who'd go on to star for the Sooners could have ended up at Colorado, if not for a last-minute recruiting
Larry Lacewell described in the book "Wish Bone" that the Sooners didn't decide to recruit Lucious Selmon until Barry Price switched his commitment from Oklahoma to Oklahoma State the day before signing day. Lacewell showed up at the Selmons house to find Colorado coach Eddie Crowder there. When he got his chance to talk to the family, he stayed at the house until the two younger brothers had fallen asleep and he had convinced the Selmon parents it was better for Lucious to play 100 miles away than 600.
It ended up being a key day for the program.
Oklahoma went 10-0-1 with all three Selmon brothers playing together in 1973, then won national title the next two seasons. Lee Roy Selmon won the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy in 1975. He ended his college career with 335 tackles, a school record for a linemen at the time, and 40 for a loss.
He went on to record 78 1/2 sacks and earn six consecutive Pro Bowl selections during his nine-year career. He retired after the 1984 season.
Time For NHL To Step Up For Tough Guys
Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman
(September 02, 2011) “It’s not enough to have a bucket of ice so these players’ hands can get back to normal size and so they can go get on a plane and do it the next time. That’s not enough.”
Paul Dennis, Maple Leafs’ sport psychologist for 20 years
As the Leafs’ sports psychologist, Paul Dennis can remember watching Wade Belak struggle to do up his tie after games because his hands were so swollen.
“His eyes would be shut swollen,” recalled Dennis, who retired recently after 20 years with the Leafs. “But this beast of a man would still have that wry smile. He would still find something to say to make you laugh.
“I don’t think he was laughing on the inside, though. This is such a difficult lifestyle. I’m not sure everyone appreciates that.”
Dennis said it’s time for that to change. He said the Belak tragedy — the third death of an NHL enforcer since May — has to spark change in the sporting culture. He believes an atmosphere must be created where athletes aren’t afraid to show their vulnerability and ask for help.
“There has to be a silver lining in this,” he said. “We need to implore people we care for to seek help. There is a solution to our misery and suicide isn’t the answer.”
Dennis, who teaches at the University of Toronto and York University, said it’s time to bring the issue of mental illness among athletes, particularly men, out of the closet.
“I thought it was great last year when (Olympic speed skater/cyclist) Clara Hughes disclosed her depression,” said Dennis. “Well, I know there are guys who presumably have gone through the exact same thing. Why don’t they come out and talk about it? Why don’t they set the example? Why don’t we as leaders in the field in coaching and teaching and development, why don’t we encourage them to do that? That’d be the first step.
“I honestly think they’re afraid to. I think they’re worried that they’d be viewed differently. This is not supposed to be what successful athletes experience.”
Dennis said he’s always thought the league’s enforcers lead a lonely life, but never suspected that Belak was struggling in any way while with the Leafs. He remembers his infectious personality and easy laugh.
“You just never know,” said Dennis. “Life circumstances change rather quickly. But even if that happens, you should be able to cope in those situations. And if you can’t cope ... that’s why I can’t help but think that organically something’s going on in the brain that is just accelerating the downward spiral.”
Belak told the Star’s Mark Zwolinski about how his nerves kept him awake the night before games as he thought about who he was going to fight.
“That’s 82 times a year, perhaps, plus all his junior career,” said Dennis. “So over 500 games as a pro plus junior, my goodness, it’s shocking they last as long as they do.”
Dennis said the league and NHLPA needs to examine the players who are filling these roles to assess the damage being caused, but also show them that they matter.
“Part of the plan would be each team has at least one tough guy and if you include their minor league teams, even more, so let’s bring them all together. Let’s have a retreat, nobody has to know about it and let’s talk about it.”
Dennis said players seldom sought him out to talk about personal issues. He said most of the work was performance related.
“What these players don’t understand is an issue that they have psychologically impacts on their performance,” he said. “They think as long as I’m physically fit, my V02 Max is where it should be, my percentage body fat is where it should be, I’ll be okay. And that’s not the case. That’s only one aspect of performance. The psychological aspect to me is the most important.”
Dennis believes the NHL has the will to tackle the problem.
“Something tells me that this isn’t going to pass,” he said. “I think something’s going to be done about this. I hope it’s not going to be a go through the motions perfunctory summit. I hope they will step up to the plate.
“These tough guys are there for their teammates all their career. The rest of us have to be there for them in their time of need.”
Serena Williams Advances To Quarters At U.S. Open
Source: www.thestar.com - Eddie Pells, Reuters
(Sep 05, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Serena Williams fought off the wind, along with brief flurries of effectiveness from her opponent, to advance to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Monday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Ana Ivanovic.
Williams closed out the match with four straight serves that Ivanovic couldn't get back — clocked at between 99 and 111 mph in a blustery Arthur Ashe Stadium that had both players fighting with their tosses and topspin all day.
“I didn't even go for winners at any point,” said Williams, who hit only 16. “I just tried to get it over because it was so windy. It was definitely tough.”
Seeded only 28th after missing big chunks of the last two years with injuries to her foot, Williams nonetheless improved to 16-0 this year on hard court. She has yet to drop a set at the U.S. Open and now finds herself in her first Grand Slam quarter-final since last year at Wimbledon, when she won her 13th major title.
With each win at Flushing Meadows, she makes a stronger case that the “28” before her name at this tournament is only a number. When healthy, she might be the best in the world.
“I don't know if I'm the best or not,” she said. “I believe I am and I think a lot of other girls, women in the locker room, believe they are, too, as they should. I don't think anyone should go out and say that they're not.”
The top player on the men's side, Novak Djokovic, opened his third-round match with a thrilling 16-14 first-set tiebreaker win over No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov. Things got easier from there in a 7-6 (14), 6-4, 6-2 victory.
“It probably was the turning point, and after that, it was a better performance from my side,” Djokovic said of the tiebreaker, in which he saved four set points and converted his sixth.
No. 16 Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion and a one-time world No. 1, is on the rebound after a slide down the rankings into the 60s. At times against Williams, flashes of the old Ivanovic showed, especially when she drew back to 3-3 in the first set after dropping the first three games in eight minutes.
Taking the ball early, unafraid to step inside the baseline to return Williams' second serves, Ivanovic was the aggressor during that portion and in parts of the second set when she tried, unsuccessfully, to make up the break she lost in the first game.
But she couldn't overcome eight double faults, including three while serving at 3-4 in the first set, and didn't have an answer for Williams who was less aggressive (16 winners to 20 for Ivanovic), but more consistent (14 unforced errors to 29) and also had more bite on her serve (nine aces).
“My serve broke down a little more than hers,” Ivanovic said. “I still created lots of opportunities and I felt I was stepping up a lot and I just felt that was the biggest difference today.”
Next up for Williams is No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who made it to her second Grand Slam quarter-final with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
The three-set match included 16 service breaks over 31 games and, appropriately enough, ended when Pavlyuchenkova hit a forehand winner on match point to break Schiavone's serve for the ninth time. The players combined for 21 double-faults.
“I'm going to say that I don't want to go out there and enjoy just being on centre court playing against Serena,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I would like to do well, try to fight, and with my effort, I'll try to beat her.”
In other early play, 20th-seeded Janko Tipsarevic outlasted 2003 French champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in a match that took three hours, 43 minutes.
Others playing later Monday were No. 8 Mardy Fish, No. 3 Roger Federer and top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.
Belak’s Mother Says NHLer Suffered From Depression
Source: www.thestar.com - Kevin McGran
(September 02, 2011) It may well be that Wade Belak’s ever-present smile was a mask.
As Belak’s family and friends began to head toward Nashville for his funeral, the mother of the former Toronto Maple Leaf disclosed her son had been suffering from depression.
‘I think he was taking control of that,” Lorraine Belak told CBC News in a phone interview from Nashville. “He didn’t talk about it all the time or a lot.”
Belak was found dead in a downtown Toronto hotel and condo on Wednesday afternoon in an apparent suicide.
Lorraine Belak indicated the cause of death would be released in the coming days.
“All I know is that it is still under investigation,” she said. “The only thing I can tell you is he did not die of natural causes.”
A private funeral service is scheduled to take place in Nashville on Sunday afternoon.
Two sources had confirmed to the Toronto Star on Thursday that Belak had suffered from depression.
Belak’s father, Lionel Aadland, told various news outlets that his son had shown no indication of distress. Mark Napier, the executive director of the NHL’s alumni association, which frequently arranges and pays for medical treatment for ex-NHLers, said that to his knowledge, Belak, who played his last game in the league in January, hadn’t asked for help.
Other players, some recently retired, are calling on the NHL and NHLPA do to more to help players in need in the wake of the deaths of Belak, Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien.
The NHL and the NHLPA released a joint statement promising to “evaluate” and “improve” the resources available to players in need of aid.
Nadal Beats Nalbandian In Three Sets At U.S. Open
Source: www.globeandmail.com - Liana B. Baker, Reuters
(September 4, 2011) Defending champion Rafa Nadal outbattled David Nalbandian of Argentina 7-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Sunday to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Nadal breezed through the middle set, but was forced to fight hard on both ends of the match against his friend and frequent practice partner. "It was a tough day," Nadal said in an on-court interview. "He's a great player, a fantastic player. He's a close friend, so all the best for him in the future." The second-seeded Spaniard trailed 5-4 with Nalbandian serving for the opening set when he broke the Argentine's serve and forced a tie-break, which he won 7-5. After cruising through the second set, Nadal took a medical time out during the changeover at 1-1 in the third set to have his right foot taped for a blister. Nadal fell back in step and took a 5-2 lead, but Nalbandian roared back to make it 5-5 before the Spaniard held and broke serve on his third match point when the Argentine double faulted. "I think I played my best match of the tournament, so I'm happy for that," said Nadal. "Every day is tougher and tougher." Next up for Nadal will be Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, a straight sets winner against Russian Igor Kunitsyn.
Venus Williams Tweets About Return To Action
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(September 4, 2011) Venus Williams says she's eager to return to action after withdrawing from the U.S. Open because of an immune system disease. Williams took to Twitter on Sunday, writing: "Thank you everyone for all your well wishes! It's good to have support! Looking forward to getting better and back on tour!" When the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion pulled out of the tournament before her second-round match Wednesday, Williams revealed that she's been diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, which can cause fatigue and joint pain. She tweeted Sunday: "Thank you 4 sharing all your sjogrens & auto immune stories w/me. Feels good to know I'm not alone! feel better to you and your loved ones!"
L.A. Sparks Now Partially Owned by Lisa Leslie
Source: www.eurweb.com - By BlackBee
(August 31, 2011) *Lisa Leslie is a businesswoman if you didn’t know. Although she’s retired from the court, she hasn’t left the game. The former LA Sparks star, along with former NBC executive, Paula Madison (pictured below), is part owner of the WNBA team. The official announcement was made at a game Saturday night at the Staple Center. “With my investment in the Sparks, my basketball career has truly come full circle,” said Leslie, who spent 15 years playing on the team. “After spending over a decade playing with the Sparks and then the last two seasons as both a fan and team broadcaster, I couldn’t be happier to rejoin the organization formally as a business partner and team ambassador,” she continued. “I look forward to being as asset to the Sparks in the areas of marketing and community outreach.”
Rising Star Donald Young Reaches First Grand Slam Fourth Round
at US Open
(Sep 05, 2011) *Donald Young has reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time. He did it by defeating 24th-seeded Juan Ignacio Chela in straight sets Sunday at the U.S. Open. Young, 22, won 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. A full house at the Grandstand gave the Atlanta based rising star a standing ovation as he celebrated the victory, pumping his fist and grinning widely. The AP points out that Six years after he became the youngest boy to finish a season as the world’s top-ranked junior player, Young is finally making his breakthrough at a major tournament. The 84th-ranked southpaw, who got in on a wild card, upset 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets in the second round. “It’s been tough,” Young said. “There have been times when I didn’t want to pick up the racket, times when I couldn’t watch TV because they were talking bad about me. I’m just really excited.”
UFC Announces Toronto Card
Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press
(Sep 06, 2011) Toronto — Canadian welterweight Rory (Ares) MacDonald will take on Brian (Bad Boy) Ebersole at UFC 140 on Dec. 10 in Toronto. MacDonald, a native of Kelowna, B.C., who trains out of Montreal, is coming off impressive wins over Mike (Quicksand) Pyle and Nate Diaz. Just 22, MacDonald has won 12 of 13 MMA pro fights. The 30-year-old Ebersole (48-14-1 with one no contest) is 3-0 in the UFC and Strikeforce, stopping Dennis Hallman last month at UFC 133. Also on the card, Toronto welterweight Claude (The Prince) Patrick will face (Raging Bull) Rich Attonito while unbeaten Edmonton lightweight Mitch Clarke tackles John Cholish in a battle of UFC debutantes. In other UFC news, lightweight contenders Clay Guida and Ben Henderson will face off Nov. 12 in Anaheim, Calif., on the UFC's first card to be televised on Fox. The main event pits heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez against Junior dos Santos. And in the wake of the UFC's recent visit to Brazil, the organization announced Tuesday it will return to Japan for a Feb. 26, 2012, show in Saitama. It will mark the UFC's first show in Japan since 2000's UFC 29.