20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                     (416) 677-5883
                                                                                                                                                  langfieldent@rogers.com
                                                                                                                                    www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

April 19, 2012

Less than a week for the debut solo album release of
Quisha Wint! If you support Canadian talent or just want a fun night out with great music, then you'll see why I give this concert a two thumbs up. Quisha's a star in her own right who offers home-grown R&B with a dash of funk - see all the details below under HOT EVENTS.

In this weeks news: one of Canada's premiere sports journalists (and someone I met through Daniel Igali), Randy Starkman, passes; the pop culture icon, Dick Clark, passes; Tupac resurfaces in concert through hologram; a breakdown of the Canadian athletes in the London 2012 summer games; and a blurb on my fave upscale and friendly restaurant, Pangaea; and so much more. Check it all out under TOP STORIES.

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

::HOT EVENTS::

April 25:: May 2:: Toronto’s Quisha Wint and her Debut CD Release and Concert

Quisha Wint is an accomplished songstress/performer/arranger/songwriter who is unleashing her debut CD entitled “My Journey” on Wednesday, April 25th and again on Wednesday, May 2nd . Quisha is a well-known and dynamic songstress for her extraordinary work as a session vocalist, performer and backup singer for the late Haydain Neale of Jacksoul, Maestro, Snow, to name a few.

Now it’s HER turn for the spotlight! You don’t want to miss this event!

“This CD will be a journey I will be taking people on into my life in the past 5 years.” says Wint. “I am proud of every song that I wrote and those with my co-writers. I can only hope that people can hear my heart through each song.” Quisha will also be performing songs from artists who have inspired her in her career – for example, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and Anita Baker.

Opening for the show is Toronto’s own Dwayne Morgan; well known for his poetry and sold out shows. (For more info: www.dwaynemorgan.ca).

The concerts will be held on two Wednesday nights; April 25 at The Art Gallery of Ontario and on May 2 at Unionville Alliance Church in Markham.


Quisha Wint’s Debut CD Release Concert

Wednesday, April 25:
Art Gallery Of Ontario (AGO)
317 Dundas Street W.
Toronto, ON
(Between University Ave. and Spadina Ave.)

8:00 pm

Wednesday, May 2:
Unionville Alliance Church
4898-16th Ave.
Markham, ON
(Between Kennedy and McCowan Rd.)

7:00 pm


Tickets: www.quishawint.com

$30.00 if purchased before April 15;
$35.00 if purchased after April 15th (each ticket purchase includes a FREE CD!)

::TOP NEWS::

Toronto Star’s Randy Starkman Dead At 51

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard and Joseph Hall
, Sports Reporters

(Apr 16, 2012) Randy Starkman, Canada’s premier amateur athletics journalist, has died.

The two-time National Newspaper Award winner, who exposed sprinter Ben Johnson’s second positive steroid test in 1993, and covered 12 Olympic Games, passed away Monday at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

A silent newsroom greeted the news that they had lost a friend and a cherished, admired colleague at age 51.

Starkman took ill after returning from Montreal, where he covered Canada’s Olympic swimming trials. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and was admitted to hospital last week. He spent several days in intensive care.

“He’s just one of a kind in our world,” said Mark Tewksbury, a gold medallist in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona and Canada’s chef de mission for the London Olympics this summer.

“There was no bigger advocate for Olympic sports, Olympic athletes than Randy.

“There’s now just a huge void.”

Starkman, who began his journalism career covering sports with United Press Canada, was hired by the Toronto Star after the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where Johnson tested positive for steroids.

While the higher profile beats such as the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors were offered to him over the years, Starkman turned them down, choosing instead to continue covering amateur athletics and the Olympics.

“Randy brought to life the lives and the struggles and the careers of amateur athletes like no one else,” said John Honderich, chairman of the board of Torstar Corp., the parent company of the Star.

“He was the epitome of taking an area of sports and bringing it to life and interest to all.”

Added Toronto Star Editor, Michael Cooke: “Randy was a reporter who knew the amateur sports beat A-to-Z and back again. His lively personality and deeply rooted professionalism will be so sadly missed by our newsroom.”

Starkman’s dedication did not go unnoticed in the amateur sports world.

“There’s no doubt Randy was a true friend to Canadian amateur sport, this was especially true for us at Athletics Canada,” said Mathieu Gentes, head of public relations and corporate services with the organization.

“I personally worked with Randy for almost eight years as he covered our athletes and events on a year-round basis, not just every four years.

“He was a true professional in every sense of the word, our athletes always made time to speak with him,” Gentes continued. “When I contact an athlete with a request the first question is usually who is it for. Anytime the answer was ‘Randy’ you can be sure a ‘no problem’ or ‘yes’ followed closely.”

Individual athletes were also deeply saddened by Starkman’s passing.

“Choking back the tears on the news of Randy Starkman's death. Not only amazing reporter, but friend. My heart goes out to his wife and daughter,” longtime Canadian women’s hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser tweeted.

As dedicated as he was to his work, colleagues remember Starkman as quick with a joke and always willing to laugh, especially at himself.

“Randy balanced a sense of humour with his love of amateur sports,” said longtime Canadian Press reporter Jim Morris, who covered a host of Olympics and world championships with Starkman.

“It always amazed me the people he knew and his keen ability to find a story that others missed.

“To him it was very important that amateur athletes received the recognition they deserved. He also cared about the athletes as people, who they were and why they competed.

“What I liked most about Randy was he could make you laugh. He had a quick wit and never took himself too seriously.”

Long-time Toronto Star freelance reporter Lois Kalchman knew Starkman since he was 19.

“He championed amateur athletes and held each and every one of them in high regard,” she said. “Nothing was too difficult for him in his quest to be accurate. He wanted his stories to make a difference to the public and told me he often proposed stories that editors felt were “not sexy” but he felt a need to write.

“He had a passion for safety issues and wanted his stories to make a difference to the public.”

Starkman won his second NNA in 1995, for a story exposing the inadequacies of a popular hockey helmet. After having tests performed on the helmet, he confirmed that it offered scant protection against severe head injuries.

Former Star managing editor Lou Clancy accepted the award for Starkman, who was unable to attend because of illness. Clancy called him “a terrific investigative reporter as well as a sports writer.”

Starkman is survived by his wife, Mary Hynes, herself a renowned amateur sports reporter, and their teenaged daughter, Ella.

Dick Clark, Broadcast Veteran, Dead At Age 82

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(April 18, 2012) Dick Clark, the ever-youthful television host and tireless entrepreneur who helped bring rock `n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," and later produced and hosted a vast range of programming from game shows to the year-end countdown from Times Square on "New Year's Rockin' Eve," has died. He was 82.

Spokesman Paul Shefrin said Mr. Clark had a heart attack Wednesday morning at Saint John's hospital in Santa Monica, a day after he was admitted for an outpatient procedure.

Mr. Clark had continued performing even after he suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.

Long dubbed "the world's oldest teenager" because of his boyish appearance, Mr. Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business, and equally comfortable whether chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon about TV bloopers. He thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more to TV. Among his credits: "The $25,000 Pyramid," "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and the American Music Awards.

For a time in the 1980s, he had shows on all three networks and was listed among the Forbes 400 of wealthiest Americans. Mr. Clark also was part of radio as partner in the United Stations Radio Network, which provided programs - including Mr. Clark's - to thousands of stations.

"There's hardly any segment of the population that doesn't see what I do," Mr. Clark told The Associated Press in a 1985 interview. "It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, `I love your show,' and I have no idea which one they're talking about."

The original "American Bandstand" was one of network TV's longest-running series as part of ABC's daytime lineup from 1957 to 1987. It later aired for a year in syndication and briefly on the USA Network. Over the years, it introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Madonna. The show's status as an American cultural institution was solidified when Mr. Clark donated Bandstand's original podium and backdrop to the Smithsonian Institution.

Mr. Clark joined "Bandstand" in 1956 after Bob Horn, who'd been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under Mr. Clark's guidance, it went from a local Philadelphia show to a national phenomenon.

"I played records, the kids danced, and America watched," was how Mr. Clark once described the series' simplicity. In his 1958 hit "Sweet Little Sixteen," Chuck Berry sang that "they'll be rocking on Bandstand, Philadelphia, P-A."

As a host, he had the smooth delivery of a seasoned radio announcer. As a producer, he had an ear for a hit record. He also knew how to make wary adults welcome this odd new breed of music in their homes.

Mr. Clark endured accusations that he was in with the squares, with critic Lester Bangs defining Bandstand as "a leggily acceptable euphemism of the teenage experience." In a 1985 interview, Mr. Clark acknowledged the complaints. "But I knew at the time that if we didn't make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it."

"So along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the Platters and the Crows and the Jayhawks ... the boys wore coats and ties and the girls combed their hair and they all looked like sweet little kids into a high school dance," he said.

But Mr. Clark defended pop artists and artistic freedom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said in an online biography of the 1993 inductee. He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he condemned censorship.

His stroke in December 2004 forced him to miss his annual appearance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." He returned the following year and, although his speech at times was difficult to understand, many praised his bravery, including other stroke victims.

Still speaking with difficulty, he continued taking part in his New Year's shows, though in a diminished role. Ryan Seacrest became the main host.

"I'm just thankful I'm still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat," he told The Associated Press by e-mail in December 2008 as another New Year's Eve approached.

He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: "I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I've been truly blessed."

He was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929. His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.

Mr. Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. In his 1976 autobiography, "Rock, Roll & Remember," Mr. Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.

From Mr. Godfrey, he said, he learned that "a radio announcer does not talk to `those of you out there in radio land'; a radio announcer talks to me as an individual."

Mr. Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years' experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Mr. Clark befriended Mr. McMahon, who later credited Mr. Clark for introducing him to his future "Tonight Show" boss, Johnny Carson.

In the 1960s, "American Bandstand" moved from black-and-white to color, from weekday broadcasts to once-a-week Saturday shows and from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Although its influence started to ebb, it still featured some of the biggest stars of each decade, whether Janis Joplin, the Jackson 5, Talking Heads or Prince. But Mr. Clark never did book two of rock's iconic groups, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Elvis Presley also never performed, although Mr. Clark managed an on-air telephone interview while Mr. Presley was in the Army.

When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, Mr. Clark recalled working with him since he was a child, adding, "of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched."

Mr. Clark kept more than records spinning with his Dick Clark Productions. Its credits included the Academy of Country Music and Golden Globe awards; TV movies including the Emmy-winning "The Woman Who Willed a Miracle" (1984), the "$25,000 Pyramid" game show and the 1985 film "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins." Mr. Clark himself made a cameo on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and a dramatic appearance as a witness on the original "Perry Mason." He was an involuntary part of Michael Moore's Academy Award-winning "Bowling for Columbine," in which Mr. Clark is seen brushing off Moore as the filmmaker confronts him about working conditions at a restaurant owned by Mr. Clark.

In 1974, at ABC's request, Mr. Clark created the American Music Awards after the network lost the broadcast rights to the Grammy Awards.

He was also an author, with "Dick Clark's American Bandstand" and such self-help books as "Dick Clark's Program for Success in Your Business and Personal Life" and "Looking Great, Staying Young." His unchanging looks inspired a joke in "Peggy Sue Gets Married," the 1986 comedy starring Kathleen Turner as an unhappy wife and mother transported back to 1960. Watching Mr. Clark on a black and white TV set, she shakes her head in amazement, "Look at that man, he never ages."

Mr. Clark's clean-cut image survived a music industry scandal. In 1960, during a congressional investigation of "payola" or bribery in the record and radio industry, Mr. Clark was called on to testify.

He was cleared of any suspicions but was required by ABC to divest himself of record-company interests to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. The demand cost him $8 million, Mr. Clark once estimated. His holdings included partial ownership of Swan Records, which later released the first U.S. version of the Beatles' smash "She Loves You."

In 2004, Mr. Clark announced plans for a revamped version of "American Bandstand." The show, produced with "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller, was to feature a host other than Mr. Clark.

He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994 and served as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Mr. Clark, twice divorced, had a son, Richard Augustus II, with first wife Barbara Mallery and two children, Duane and Cindy, with second wife Loretta Martin. He married Kari Wigton in 1977.

Hologram Tupac: What's So Live About Live Performance Anyway?

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

(Apr 16, 2012) You'd think we'd have seen it all online, but the Internet's collective mind was decidedly blown on Sunday night as Snoop Dogg performed with a hologram of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur at the Coachella festival in California.

First, there was jubilation. Katy Perry tweeted that she "might have cried," while Rihanna emitted a string of dumbfounded hashtags: "#TupacBACK #unbelievable #IWASTHERE #STORY4myGrandKidz."

But then came the creeped-out, sober second thoughts. Are we really living in a brave new world where the 1980s kids cartoon Jem and the Holograms can be accurately described as prescient?

As one commenter who popped up on my Facebook feed put it, succinctly summing up the anti-holo-concert camp, there's something "dumb" about "paying to go wait in the desert in the beaming hot sun to see dead cats on a screen."

The dirty truth, however, is that as impressively executed as Tupac's missed-Easter-by-a-week resurrection was, there's nothing new about his scene-stealing appearance - aside from a clever use of bleeding-edge holographic projection.

We - the lovers of live music of the world - have already paid top dollar to see dead cats on a screen, and have been for a very long time.

Georgia Institute of Technology professor Philip Auslander first floated the idea that live and mediated performances weren't really all that different in his 1999 book, Liveness.

As the performance scholar pointed out, the very idea of "live performance" came about only when recording technologies created Coachella-style confusion by making the two indistinguishable.

The Oxford English Dictionary's first example of the word "live" being used in relation to performance came only in 1934, when it had become impossible for a radio listener to tell if a broadcast was live or recorded.

Flash-forward four score years, and it's pretty easy to distinguish the recorded Tupac hologram and the actual body of Snoop Dogg, right?

Not so fast. While noted stoner Snoop was actually present in Coachella (physically, at least - I would never hazard a guess as to his mental whereabouts), for the vast majority of the people who saw his "live" duet with Tupac, he appeared only as a moving image on a screen.

And I'm not just talking about the hundreds of thousands of people who watched footage of the concert on YouTube; even among those who were actually in the giant crowd at Coachella, most would have seen Snoop on a giant screen. That's just a fact of modern concert-going: Thom Yorke's or Taylor Swift's corporeal self is a tiny speck that we "connect" with only through close-up video projections.

If seeing a performer's actual body had anything to do with why people go to live concerts, Deadmau5 could never have sold out the Air Canada Centre. (That could be anyone under that giant mouse helmet.)

Okay, but Snoop Dogg was rapping live, while Tupac's vocals were recorded. Big difference, no?

Perhaps, but how is R2D2pac's performance that far off from, say, Madonna lip-syncing her way through the Super Bowl halftime show? And at least Hologram Tupac got the name of the venue right, giving a shoutout to Coachella, while the still-living (as of press time) Britney Spears can't always be relied upon to be as geographically cognizant.

If anyone still has a problem with lip syncing and I, for one, will take it over Auto-Tuned "live" singing any day - they're now firmly in the minority. And, a few prominent tsk-tskers aside, they have been for decades.

Take Michael Jackson's appearance on the 1983 television special Motown 25. It's remembered as one of the most famous live performances of all time, the one where he introduced the mime-inspired Moonwalk. No one seems to recall - or care - that Jackson was just moving his mouth to a recording of Billie Jean at the time.

Today, of course, Jackson can neither sing nor dance, but he continues to be one of world's top-grossing live performers.

Since it launched last fall, Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour - in which recorded video and audio of Jackson is mixed in with a live band, dancers and Cirque du Soleil performers - has regularly pulled in more than $2-million (U.S.) a night, according to figures from trade publication Pollstar. It regularly trumped even the combined living powers of Kanye West and Jay-Z on their Watch the Throne tour.

Disembodied performance may unsettle us when we stop and think about it, but as Auslander has noted, it has been the norm in popular music since the popularization of the phonograph began in the 1890s.

Perhaps that is why not-dead-yet pop stars have regularly been dogged by rumours that they have died (Paul McCartney, Gordon Lightfoot), while pop stars' deaths are frequently disbelieved (Elvis, Tupac).

Is it any wonder people get confused? When it comes to our musical heroes, there's no real difference between dead or alive.

100 Days Until The Olympics And Canada Has Lofty Goals

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Christie

(April 17, 2012) One hundred days out from the London 2012 Summer Games, Canada's goal is to rank among the top 12 countries in total hardware, which would mean about 20 medals. Here's a summary of some of Canada's hopefuls:

Athletics

The most competitive event in track and field, domestically, is the women's 100-metre hurdles, and so it will be at the Olympics, where two-time world champion Perdita Felicien has a last chance at an Olympics to erase memory of her 2004 spill in the final. But first she'd got to contend with 2008 bronze medalist and new mom Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, an elite Diamond League winner with her eye on Felicien's 12.46-second Canadian record. In men's throws, Dylan Armstrong, another Diamond League winner, has the chops for a shot put medal - if the sore arm that knocked him out for the 2012 world indoors has healed.

Boxing

It's the debut for women's Olympic boxing but Mary Spencer of Windsor is a 10-year ring veteran, three-time world champion and 2011 Pan Am Games gold medalist. At 6-feet she's a tall, long-armed serious contender for gold at 75-kg. Spencer learned much from and her first loss in over a year to 17-year-old rising U.S. star Claressa Shields. Spencer must qualify for London at the May world championships in China.

Canoe and Kayak

Adam van Koeverden in the K-1 has a history of winning. He took Olympic gold in Athens in the 500 metres, then added a silver in Beijing. He won gold in the 1,000 metres at last year's world championships.

Mark Oldershaw has a long family connection with canoeing. His grandfather Burt's first Olympics were in 1948 in London. Oldershaw is a contender in the C-1 1,000 metres. He won gold at the 2011 world championships.

Cycling

Own the Podium lists 10 possible top-3 cyclists in 2012, which is grandly optimistic. Three or four make sense: World Cup leader Catherine Pendrel in mountain bike, who was fourth in Beijing and had been on the national team nine years; versatile Tara Whitten in road race time trial and Omnium, where she's won two world championships and finished second once; Zach Bell who took a 2012 world championship silver in the men's Omnium; and in BMX the consistent Tory Nyhaug who opened the season with two top-five rides and cracked the top 10 in last year's London test event.

Diving

Alexandre Despatie, three-metre springboard.
A two-time Olympic silver medalist, Despatie will be going to his fourth Games - he made his debut at the tender age of 16 at the 2000 Sydney Games and finished fourth in the 10-metre event. Already Canada's most decorated diver, this summer Despatie hopes to win a third medal in the springboard. It won't be an easy task to unseat the powerful Chinese, but the Laval, Que., native has performed well since recovering from a serious knee injury that cut short his 2011 season. Reuben Ross partners him on synchronized three-metre springboard.The 26-year-old Regina product is a former NCAA springboard champion. Ross, who first learned to flip and tumble on a backyard trampoline, won bronze with Despatie at the 2009 World Championships.

Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans are medal challengers on synchronized three-metre springboard. In 2008, the 16-year-old Abel became the youngest women's diver to wear Canadian colours at the Olympics. Four years later she is a solid podium contender with fellow Quebecer Heymans, who won silver in the individual three-metre event in Beijing. The pair won silver at both the Pan-Am Games and the World Championships in 2011 and are ranked second in the world. The veteran Heymans, 31, wonthe synchro diving medals in 2000 and 2004. Abel should also contend for an individual medal - she finished third in the three metre at last year's worlds.

Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, synchronized 10-metre tower, are inseparable friends. The 23-year-old Benfeito and the 24-year-old Filion have been a team since 2005, and after logging a seventh-place finish in the 2008 Games as teenagers, have their eyes fixed on the podium. The Montreal-based pair has won two World Cup medals this season, and captured silver at the 2011 Pan-Am Games. Filion is currently ranked third in the world in the individual 10-metre event, and Benfeito is rated sixth. Both could hope for a medal finish although Benfeito has had more international success individually.

Equestrian

Eric Lamaze has been picked by Own the Podium for a gold medal in the jumping event, but that depends on his familiarity with the horse. The loss of long time mount Hickstead which carried Lamaze to two Olympic medals in 2008, was a major setback. He's got seven horses now as he looks for the right chemistry. Veteran Ian Millar could join him on a quest for the team jumping medal.

Gymnastics (Trampoline):

Karen Cockburn of Stouffville, Ont., could become the first Canadian summer Olympian to win medals in four consecutive Games, after she took bronze in Sydney and silver in both Athens and Beijing. This will be the last Olympics for the 31-year-old athlete, who carried the flag out of Beijing. But she must out-score the dominant Chinese if she is to claim that elusive Olympic gold medal. Toronto's Rosie MacLennan has a medal shot too.

Jason Burnett won silver at in men's trampoline at the 2008 Olympics but was a disastrous 10th in the first Canadian trial. He must win the second in Gatineau, Que. He does hold the world record for a degree of difficulty score in a routine.

Judo

Kelita Zupancic, 21 of Whitby, Ont., has trained with a Japanese side for this, and OTP thinks she can have a top-3 performance in the 70-kg class. That depends on a favourable draw for the fighter who is regularly in the top five at international tournaments. Brazil-born Sergio Pessoa was a medal hopeful at 60 kg but must rehabilitate a bad knee.

Rowing

The men's eight-oared boat includes three members of the 2008 gold medal-winning crew, along with former alternate Rob Gibson. They are back to lead Canada's charge for a Beijing repeat. Canada will be in tough against the powerhouse Germans.

In the men's pair, David Calder and Scott Frandsen won a silver medal in Beijing. They were fifth at the 2011 worlds and are determined to make up for that in London.

In women's lightweight double sculls, Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee teamed up in 2011 and won silver at the worlds to secure an Olympic spot for Canada in London. Tracy Cameron is vying for a spot on the double sculls crew but may not get it. Cameron has also been competing in the lightweight single sculls.

The women's eight placed second in the 2011 world championships, narrowly behind the United States. Coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie calls the strokes with experience. She has been in six Olympics (1984-2000, 2008).

Swimming

Ryan Cochrane, the 2008 bronze medalist in the 1,500 metre freestyle is aiming for a step up on the London podium. To do that, he'll have to stay close to 1,500-metre world-record holder Sun Yang of China. Cochrane will also compete in the 400 metre freestyle. Swimming Canada is calling for three medals in London - perhaps one from Brent Hayden (2011 world silver in 100 freestyle) and another from a relay team.

Synchronized swimming

Coming off a gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games, Canada's synchronized swimming team has a great shot at earning its first Olympic medal since taking bronze in 2000. The women are determined to have the most innovative and high-flying acrobatic highlights in the competition. Two of the team members, Élise Marcotte of L'Ancienne-Lorette, Que., and Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., will also challenge for the podium in the duet.

Tennis

Veteran Canadian tennis player Daniel Nestor is currently the No.3-ranked doubles player in the world. But a Canadian partner for Nestor at the Games is still to be named, since he usually plays with a Belarusian partner, Max Mirnyi. His options are likely Vasik Pospisil or Milos Raonic.

Triathlon

Paula Findlay is the best hope, having dominated her event last season. Findlay won three ITU world Championship Series triathlons and was ranked number one in the world. She has already qualified for London but some recent injuries could set her back. Perennial favourite Simon Whitfield has also been pre-selected for London but Canadians Kyle Jones and Brent McMahon will battle him to make the final cut for the Canadian team.

Weightlifting

Christine Girard competes in the 63 kg class. She was fourth in Beijing, missing out on a medal by a measly three kilograms. Over the past two years, she's won gold at the Commonwealth Games and at the Pan-Am Games.

Wrestling

Carol Huynh was the first Canadian to win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. The 48-kg wrestler has since won gold at the Commonwealth Games and Pan-Am Games and is back again.

Tonya Verbeek earned a bronze medal in Beijing in the 55 kg weight class. She won silver in the 59 kg category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Compiled by James Christie with reports from Rachel Brady, Allan Maki, Paul Waldie and Sean Gordon.

Pangaea Restaurant

Source: www.thestar.com

Pangaea is the name of the mass of land that existed on earth 250 million years ago before it was divided by the separation of continental plates. But at the restaurant of the same name, it's almost as if the plates have reunited.

Pangaea serves up globally-inspired dishes prepared with local ingredients for a taste of international togetherness that some refer to as fusion cuisine. Among the most popular menu items are the mahogany glazed salmon with lime caramel butter, mushroom risotto and grilled calamari. The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list with more than 450 labels for diners to choose from.

The restaurant's minimalist, earthy decor adds a relaxed feeling to the otherwise upscale dining experience. Two private dining spaces are also available for group functions or business gatherings and wireless networking is available throughout the restaurant.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Nikki Yanofsky: She’s Gotta Grow

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(April 18, 2012) Gordon Lightfoot. Bob Dylan. Bob Marley, Neil Young. They’ve all had break-through nights at Massey Hall. So have Glenn Gould and Charlie Parker, the great jazz saxophonist. But Nikki Yanofsky has a way to top them all when she walks out on the celebrated stage on April 21.

“Massey Hall is my first solo show officially as an adult,” she says perkily on the phone from her Montréal home sounding all of 10 years old. “And I am aware that so much history has gone on there.”

Her high and perky “real” voice takes some getting used to particularly for anyone familiar with her sultry contralto singing and her unfazed-by-anything professional aplomb. Then again Yanofsky has been zooming along the learning curve, even appearing at Carnegie Hall the day she turned 14, with the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to her. (By next month, she’ll be touring with popera stars Il Divo, playing the Air Canada Centre on May 19.)

But being 18 is different, she thinks. “Massey Hall is going to be the start of a new look and new sound for me,” she continues. “I know from being an opening act there how cool it is particularly backstage. But this time the whole point of the Massey Hall concert is to bridge the gap between the jazz I do and contemporary music. The show is going back to how I started, when I was singing Motown before I got into jazz.”

For someone billed as a jazz prodigy, any move beyond jazz must be considered an audaciously risky move by Yanofksy and her manager parents, Elyssa and Richard Yanofsky, himself a jazz musician. Until now Nikki has garnered press worldwide as the era-defying jazz wunderkind who dazzled the Montréal Jazz Festival in 2006 opening for the Neville Brothers, knocked the rest of the jazz world on its ear with the 2008 release of Ella . . . Of Thee I Swing, her tribute to the late Ella Fitzgerald, and who gained international attention with her jazz groove “O Canada” at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The very idea of channelling Ella in the first place — Yanofsky is included on Verve Records’ We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song 2007 compilation — was taken as a particularly plucky career move given that Fitzgerald is considered to be the very definition of the jazz singer. Some jazz diehards feel that Yanofsky’s scat-perfect reiteration of “Airmail Special,” Fitzgerald’s signature improvisational wordless solo — her “canny mimicry,” was how one writer discreetly described Yanofsky’s version — may have been a way of showing up Fitzgerald, who wasn’t considered to be precociously talented being all of 17 when she first started singing at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

The truth is less complicated. Yanofsky has the benefit of perfect pitch, as did Ray Charles, Glenn Gould and a select group of other musicians who seemed to naturals from the start. So for Yanofsky, having the chance to intellectually absorb the glorious tonal cloudburst that Fitzgerald makes of “Airmail Special” was tantamount to giving a diamond junkie the key to Tiffany’s for a weekend — the time it took Yanofsky to copy Fitzgerald’s riffs.

“I’d always been singing,” Yanofsky says. “To me scat singing and singing are the same thing. But here was a song you had to stick with. And since then ‘Airmail Special’ is the one the crowd likes the most.”

Growing up she had to contend with two older brothers who were forever getting her to listen to the Beatles and the rest of that,”older music” as she calls it. Family talent shows with friends and cousins made Yanofsky stage-smart early on.

“I don’t know if there were any ‘aha’ moments when it came to my singing,” she goes on. “I compare it to a kid growing older. You don’t realize that over the years than the kid is a foot taller.

“I do know that songs definitely change as you grow up with them. When I was younger I had a kind of carelessness in my singing because I was just singing a song that I loved. But I’ve noticed that my voice has changed in the past two years. I am sure it will get a little deeper when I am in my 30s.”

A number of heavyweight reputations are riding on Yanofsky’s chances of becoming the next big thing out of Quebec after Céline Dion. Nikki, her first studio album released in 2010 had Phil Ramone listed among its producers and among Ramone’s past clients are Billy Joel and Tony Bennett. Ramone reportedly saw the need for Yanofsky to find a way beyond being a novelty jazz act.

“The likable Yanofsky has stardom written all over her,” wrote Guardian critic John Fordham in 2010, who added: “The issue for her future will be whether she lets the industry smooth her off into just another jazz-inflected pop star, or she puts all of that formidable talent to more personal use.”

Yanofsky understands the concern. Better, she understands what she doesn’t understand — yet. She jokes that for years she’s been singing “At Last,” the soul-tearing piece defined by Etta James, to her dog. She realizes there are questions about her singing “God Bless the Child,” which when performed by Billie Holiday, its co-writer, takes on the gravitas of a southern gothic novel.

“I’m the most boring teenager in the world,” says Yanofsky. “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. So maybe I’m lucky not to have a sob story. Maybe I’ve not gone through the things the writer of that song did. But it’s still up for grabs to sing.”

Rufus Wainwright's Got A Full Plate

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By J.D. Considine

(Apr 17, 2012)
Rufus Wainwright is being interviewed over lunch, and there's more on his plate than just chicken tagliatelle.

It's a Wednesday afternoon, and he's in the middle of yet another round of Meet the Press, with interviews and photo shoots stacked up like flights into Pearson. It's part of a press blitz for his newest album, Out of the Game, which lasts through the end of the week. After that, he heads immediately into rehearsals and then onto the road.

"I start on Monday in Brooklyn," he says, nibbling on bread crisps at the Spoke Club in downtown Toronto. "My brother-in-law, Brad Albetta, will be my bass player, and we put together this really fantastic band." He mentions a few of the players - guitarist Teddy Thompson, singer Krystle Warren - and talks about the rehearsal schedule.

"It's going to be pretty tight, because we have one week, and then we go to London, where we have a couple of days and then we start doing shows. So we kind of have to hit the ground running."

Still, he says, "pop right now is almost like a vacation." Even though he's been making pop records since 1998 - Out of the Game, overseen by Amy Winehouse producer Mark Ronson, is his seventh studio album - he started composing opera eight years ago, and that marked a major shift in his creative life. "I'd like to actually focus more on that in the future, and make it more central down the line," he says. "I'm 38, so there's time. But when you take on that monster, you really have to wear a lot of hats, and have a lot of patience, and tenacity, and kind of a marathon constitution."

Wainwright thinks that what attracts listeners to his work is that, as he puts it, "I am undefinable. I don't fit into any particular category." While that may keep some fans happily surprised, being without an obvious niche hasn't helped the singer achieve any sort of consistent success. "You kind of fall through the cracks a lot," he admits.

The last three years have been pretty intense for Wainwright. His last album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, peaked at No. 4 on the Canadian charts. He also worked up a recreation of Judy Garland's legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert, with himself in the diva role. Meanwhile, his first opera, Prima Donna - which originally had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Company, had its North American premiere at Luminato in 2010.

His personal life has been no less eventful. Five months before Prima Donna's Toronto debut, Wainwright's mother, singer/songwriter Kate McGarrigle, died after a long illness; later that year, he announced his engagement to arts administrator Jorn Weisbrodt (who has since become Luminato's artistic director). And on Feb. 2 of last year, Wainwright and his good friend Lorca Cohen (daughter of Leonard Cohen) announced the birth of their daughter, Viva.

"This is all very new to me," he says. "Not only is it a new life, it's also kind of a new situation in general. For the world. I mean, I'm not the first gay person to have a baby, but there's not a lot of precedent..."

It helps that both Cohen and Wainwright have a similar background, having grown up the children of Canadian pop musicians. "This is a second-generation construct, so maybe we'll get it a little bit," he says. "I do think with Skype and cheap airfares that we have a better shot at it than our parents did. And also, Lorca and I weren't involved in a romantic relationship - we're just really, really good friends. So we don't have that to manoeuvre around, either.

"Viva has a really good chance of getting a lot of quality time. But life throws its own little wrenches your way, so who knows what's going to happen?" There's a big laugh as he imagines fate, pronouncing: "Don't get too comfortable."

Wainwright, in conversation, laughs a lot. Sometimes it's in reaction to a joke, whether his or someone else's; sometimes it's to acknowledge an irony or absurdity. But it also seems a reflection of genuine happiness, so it's not too surprising to hear him describe an epiphany he had after his mother's death.

We had been talking about Candles, one of the songs on Out of the Game. "It's a true story," he says. "I had lit [devotional] candles in churches all throughout my mother's illness, and gone so far as to go to Lourdes, and to the Vatican. And I'm not even baptized. But I have Irish Catholic/French Canadian roots, so it's kind ever-present, those Catholic ideas.

"When my mother passed away, I immediately went to light a candle at a church in Montreal, and the church was out of candles. I made two similar attempts, and the same thing occurred. And it was a strange phenomenon, which I took at first to be a message - you know, 'I'm on my way. Don't worry about me, focus on yourself. I'll be fine.' "About a week later, I was in Paris, and I went to Notre Dame. I thought, okay, I'll try again here. I walked in, and there was this huge mass going on, with organ and choirs and incense, and it was this very kind of high-end moment, and I lit the candle for Kate. Then I realized what was going on - she wanted a better venue." He laughs. "She's like, 'If you're going to light a candle for me, it's going to be in Notre Dame in Paris, not down the street on Laurier.'"

After lighting the candle, Wainwright lingered in the cathedral. "I thought, 'Maybe I'll ask for some sort of message or counsel,' " he says. "And sure enough, as I left the cathedral, there was this distinct sense of gratitude that just hit me like a ton of bricks. It was basically saying, 'You're a lucky guy, and that's what's going to get you through this.' "

While he clearly appreciates his luck, he admits some moments are harder than others. "I have this horrible, horrible habit of going on YouTube and checking out comments about what I do," he says. "As a kind of gluttony for punishment. If they don't understand something, they are going to go crazy and do everything they can to tear it down, because it doesn't fit within the very limited borders of their mind. Which is why they spend so much time commenting on stuff online."

What keeps him from being driven crazy by such things, he continues, are the lessons he's learned as a life-long opera fanatic. "When you look at a period of opera, let's say, the French baroque, and you look at Rameau's work and you look at someone else's work [from] the same time, it's obvious why Rameau's better," he says. "And it's the same thing that makes Wagner better than Meyerbeer in the 19th century, or Verdi better than Donizetti.

"That's what I focus on when I make and album, or write an opera, or sing a Judy Garland song. It's when I stray from that and get a wrapped up in the publicity aspect, just the game of it, that I have to really watch myself. And perhaps that's the meaning of the title, Out of the Game, which I realized just now. It's like doing the real stuff and not worrying about the game so much. It doesn't mean that you've stopped, or that you're not going to appear on shows or anything. It's just, you're in it for the music."

And there's no laugh with that line, only a smile of contentment.

With Big Hoops, Nelly Furtado Broadens Her Appeal

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Apr 17, 2012) More than one music blog has described Nelly Furtado's forthcoming The Spirit Indestructible as a comeback album. But a comeback from what, and to where? And what clues to her direction do we determine from her fun new single Big Hoops (The Bigger the Better), released Tuesday?

Big Hoops is robotic urban pop, with Furtado's deadpan unvirtuosic voice mimicking the "eh-eh" ticks and fashionable patois of Rihanna. There's not much of a hook to it, but the rhythm is athletic and a song-closing speed-up in tempo attracts attention. The track is co-written with Rodney (Darkchild) Jenkins, one of the many A-list collaborators - including Metallica producer Bob Rock - involved with the Promiscuous singer's fifth album.

The throbbing club tune would seem to salute the chongas, those swaggering Hispanic woman-children who populate Miami malls, with their heads slathered hard and tight in hair gel and their ears heaving with giant hoop earrings - "the bigger the better."

She's no Madonna, but Furtado is not without guile. After her first two albums, Furtado admitted she suffered from writer's block. So she hooked up with Timbaland and his briefcase full of prime beats for 2006's sexy blockbuster Loose. In 2009, she courted an international audience with Spanish-sung Mi Plan, with material co-written with the Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba.

More recently, she sang on Is Anybody Out There, a single from K'naan, the socially conscious Somali-Canadian rapper. The ethnically versatile Furtado is clearly all about broadening her appeal. The music industry is getting smaller, but audiences are not. "I can go fast, I can go slow," boasts the bird-like singer on Big Hoops, "I can go places nobody else goes." And that's the plan.

Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller Unite At Molson Amphitheatre

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Apr 17, 2012) Hip-hop star Wiz Khalifa is known for his monster hit “Black and Yellow” and the last time his friend Mac Miller was here, he sold about 5,000 tickets for his two shows at Kool Haus last summer, so their co-headlining show July 29 at the Molson Amphitheatre should be a hot, hot ticket.

Kendrick Lamar and Chevy Woods open the bill at the outdoor venue, but most of excitement will be for the two Pittsburgh rappers sharing the headlining duties. Ducats will be ($25-$60) when they go on sale via LiveNation and Ticketmaster on April 20 (that is, 4/20) at 4:20 p.m. Not the cleverest drug reference, but this is the Under the Influence of Music tour, so we know what to expect.

Other newly announced concerts:

• Rapper French Montana’s show at the Sound Academy on April 26 has been postponed; more details to come.

• Dispatch, a U.S. rootsy act with a huge under-the-radar following, hits the Sound Academy on Oct. 8; tickets ($41) on sale May 4 via LiveNation and Ticketmaster.

• Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, a soul act that hasn’t quite broken out huge yet, but their upcoming album The Lion the Beast the Beat features songs co-written by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, so . . . problem solved, maybe. They play the Phoenix on Aug. 17; tickets ($24) via Livenation, Ticketweb, Rotate This and Soundscapes on April 20.

• No postponement here: Projek: Pendulum’s May 5 DJ set at Kool Haus has been straight-up cancelled. No reason has been cited.

Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz Get Intimate with Vibe

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 15, 2012) *After being hit with rumors lately, seemingly happy couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz talked about their relationship with Vibe.

The two first encountered each other about 14 years ago, they said, but it wasn’t the right time to get things started.

The producer attempted to get the artist’s phone number through a friend, but was the singer shut him down.

“It wasn’t our time yet,” he said.

Then several years later, the two went on a business lunch together and split the check, but somehow, Beatz ended up with Keys’ credit card in his back pocket.

“My credit card was in his pocket,” Alicia said. “Why was my credit card in his pocket?”

“It was the craziest thing,” Swizz remarked.

Overall, the couple is happy and thriving, despite the damaging rumors and false stories. The two are comfortable together and enjoy life.

By the way, the 31-year-old singer is now working on her sixth album and tells the mag that for the first time she feels comfortable in her own skin.

“Let’s just say I’ve been very uncomfortable,” she said. “I’ve been brave enough to be uncomfortable.”

The article is in Vibe’s April/May issue.

Fair Weather For Bahamas

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Apr 12, 2012) Oh, the burdens of being in demand.

Afie Jurvanen, the soft-spoken singer, songwriter and ace guitarist behind Toronto’s Bahamas, actually had his new album, Barchords, ready to go more than a year ago. Then along came California’s Brushfire Records — singin’ surfer dude Jack Johnson’s label — with an offer to reissue Bahamas’ 2009 debut, Pink Strat, internationally, a fortunate twist of fate that required Jurvanen and his band hit the road in the States and overseas for yet another album-release cycle.

It wasn’t the sort of offer that Jurvanen could refuse, obviously. But since he’d already seen Pink Strat exhibit some unexpectedly long legs at home in Canada, including a mom-pleasing nomination for a Roots Album of the Year Juno Award, and he knew in his heart of hearts that he’d just finished a much better album, the Brushfire signing was “a little bittersweet.”

“They’re the sweetest,” says Jurvanen of the people who run his U.S. label, laughing at the suggestion that they’re all a bunch of sandal-wearing hippie types. “Maybe they do say ‘radical’ and ‘bodacious’ a little too much. But for whatever reason, they’re on board with what I’m doing up here, which is fantastic — to have people there who understand that music market, for lack of a better term.

“They’re releasing my record from America and that’s a big deal, just because it’s really (bloody) hard to be a Canadian band and be out there touring. There’s a million bands on tour, all the time. So to have a little leg up and to have some people in my corner definitely feels good.”

Jurvanen and Bahamas have welcomed a lot more admirers into their corner since Barchords was officially unveiled in February.

The record — a spacious, soulful and thoroughly sad-eyed folk-pop break-up album with hints of Neil Young skronk and Sam Cooke-esque R&B shuffle — has been drowning in critical huzzahs from both sides of the border. Which, naturally, means that Jurvanen and his bandmates have many more months of touring obligations to fulfill. They’ve been touring since the South by Southwest festival in March and, shortly after Friday night’s hometown gig at the Mod Club, depart for long stretches in the U.K. and Australia before returning to attack the States in earnest in June.

Jurvanen is grateful to finally have stepped up from the “former Feist sideman” stories that followed him everywhere he went in support of Pink Strat, as well as “being a band that opens for other bands.” Nevertheless, he’s now got another year-long backlog of songs he’d like to show off.

“It can be frustrating because, even now, I’m writing new songs that I’d love to be playing now,” he says. “But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be playing new songs when there’s an album out that you’re supposed to be promoting. That’s just part of being someone who creates.

“But that’s kind of what I want to be doing, y’know? That’s just the most tangible thing. Very few people can afford to be Harry Nillson and just, like, put out a record and sit at home and drink brandy Alexander all day . . . It’s the most tangible thing. ‘We’re playing here tonight.’ And people come.

“And whatever – I get to travel around the world with my friends and play music. I feel pretty lucky.”

East Coast Music Awards Sees Five Multiple Award Winners

Source: www.thestar.com - By Kevin Bissett

(Apr 16, 2012) MONCTON, N.B. — There were five multiple award winners at this year’s East Coast Music Awards, with Fredericton-born David Myles capturing both the song of the year and songwriter of the year honours for “Simple Pleasures.”

“This is a sweet surprise and an amazing category,” Myles said after picking up best song prize at the awards ceremony in Moncton, N.B.

“In the song, I say ‘Lucky, lucky me,’ and I feel very lucky today.”

The lyrics of the upbeat tune talk about being happy with the things you have, no matter how humble they may be.

Myles also shared credit with hip-hop producer Classified for his work on the song.

“He did a few things to it that really livened the song up and got to the spirit of what I was talking about,” Myles said.

Matt Anderson’s “Coal Mining Blues” earned blues recording of the year and solo recording of the year.

“Seeing the names that are nominated in this category, I’m a huge fan of all these people,” Anderson said. “It’s so great to be around this music industry this week. It’s just like coming home.”

Hey Rosetta!, Keith Mullins and Scott MacMillan also took home two awards each.

BLOU, a high-energy Acadian band from Nova Scotia, captured the coveted fans’ choice entertainer of the year award.

“To all my fans, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said lead singer Patrice Bouliane.

Jimmy Rankin opened the awards show with his performance of “Here in my Heart” and captured the fans’ choice video of the year award for that song.

“I’m happy to get an award,” Rankin said. “I’m up for eight awards and I’d be a little embarrassed if I didn’t get at least one before the end of the night.”

The awards ceremony capped five days of gigs showcasing regional talent.

The majority of the artist and industry awards were presented during the week, with the final awards reserved for the gala event hosted by Roch Voisine. It was streamed live on the Internet from Casino New Brunswick.

Voisine was presented with the director’s special achievement award.

This year’s gala included a lifetime achievement award for Catherine McKinnon, best known for her version of “Farewell to Nova Scotia” and her regular appearances on the CBC television show Singalong Jubilee in the 1960s and early ‘70s.

“I am very humbled by this,” McKinnon said after receiving a standing ovation.

“My mother says that I sang in a high chair and I’m sure I did because as far back as I can remember, music has been my passion.”

“I know it’s a lifetime achievement award but I’m not dead yet.”

McKinnon, 67, proved she still has a lot of energy, leading the audience in a performance of her signature song, and jumping into the air at the end.

Next year’s music week and 25th anniversary awards ceremony will be held in Halifax.

Measha Brueggergosman Releases New Album, I’ve Got A Crush On You

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Apr 16, 2012) Measha Brueggergosman sings “Both Sides, Now” on her new album I’ve Got a Crush on You, coming out on April 17.

And she’s certainly “looked at life from both sides now” following surgery for a serious heart ailment and then the loss of twins during her pregnancy last summer.

An opera star whose signature extravagant locks can currently be seen on Canada’s Got Talent, Brueggergosman has known glorious triumph but also fear and heartache.

Following her heart surgery in 2009, the soprano started writing music, something she had never done before.

“I felt the urge to procreate,” she says with a laugh, her voice cheerful and light in spite of the heavy topic. She wrote “Whole to My Half,” which she says is about her husband Markus. “Oh yes, all roads lead to him.”

The dissected aorta resulted in a dramatic halt to her career, surgery and recovery that made her “take stock and clean house. I wanted a well-rounded life, not just a career,” she says.

Next, they planned a family and when she became pregnant in 2011, she cleared her calendar to enjoy her pregnancy and new babies. Both babies died in utero.

“As a result, I had a lot of time off. I’d cleared my calendar. I took time to grieve.”

She worked on her management, website and public relations, all the “things I’d neglected because I was always touring.”

Canada’s Got Talent, a homegrown version of the Got Talent franchise that airs Sundays and Mondays on Citytv, turned out to be a wonderful tonic. “It was a really nice place to be. We went across the country and met so many people.”

Some of it was pretty frivolous, she says, adding, “I can’t believe a person thought belching was a talent.”

But she was touched by all the people “slaving away at their own passions” in the hopes of being discovered one day. Would she do the show again?

“In a heartbeat,” she replies.

Yet the time between filming auditions and the start of live episodes yawned empty, so she began to think of returning to the Maritimes, where she was born, to sing some songs that have long been part of her non-operatic repertoire.

“It’s much lighter than Mahler and Wagner,” laughs Brueggergosman. “It’s a collection of tunes I’ve been singing for a long time.”

They include “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” “Embraceable You,” “Misty” and “Whole To My Half.”

The members of the band are her longtime friends. The project snowballed and soon they were recording an album at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax and the Cedar Tree Café in Fredericton. There are also studio recordings on the album, released digitally Tuesday and in CD on April 24 by Ottawa’s Kelp Records.

Brueggergosman will be on tour promoting the album beginning Thursday at Markham Theatre — and Friday at Toronto’s Trinity St. Paul’s Church — and ending in Fredericton May 19.

Then, it’s back to singing in Porgy and Bess in Cincinnati on June 28, the day she turns 35.

“Of course there will always be opera. It’s a calling.”

Gordon Pinsent Makes Musical Debut At Age 81

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nick Patch

(Apr 12, 2012) Eighty-one years old and with more than a half-century of entertainment-industry experience behind him, Gordon Pinsent is finally making his songwriting debut.

The Grand Falls, N.L., native’s poems served as the springboard for an unlikely collaboration with Blue Rodeo co-frontman Greg Keelor and the Sadies guitarist Travis Good. The resultant two-disc package — Down and Out in Upalong — hit stores this week, giving Pinsent the chance to scratch another item off his career to-do list.

Or, if you believe the playful Pinsent, the last item on said list.

“That’s it now. That’s it. I got this,” said Pinsent earlier this week, slouching in a royal-blue track suit and running shoes.

“He wants the Juno,” interjected Keelor, seated next to him.

Pinsent, quick on his feet, replied quickly: “I can sit there next to Anne Murray and say, ‘See? It’s not like it used to be.’”

If it wasn’t clear already, the trio became fast friends over the course of their first musical experiment. In fact, everything happened fast.

Good and Pinsent met through mutual friend Mike Bolland, a filmmaker who worked on the Pinsent-focused TV biography Still Rowdy After All These Years. Over beers, Pinsent showed Good some of the poetry he had been dutifully jotting down over the years, often during long plane rides to or from his hometown in Newfoundland.

Good liked what he heard, and he and Keelor met up to try to set the words to music — though it didn’t take much effort. In one wine-soaked evening, the two quickly conjured four songs and the rest came easily over the next couple weeks.

“It was sort of magical,” said Keelor, before recalling the first time he and Good travelled to Pinsent’s Toronto penthouse apartment, guitars in hand, to showcase their new creations.

“It sort of felt like little orphans coming home, somehow trying to win favour.”

Pinsent was thrilled with what he heard, hand-stitched roots music with echoes of folk, bluegrass and country. He calls the tunes “splendid,” a perfect representation of the words he crafted over a period of years (the first disc features Good and Pinsent’s interpretations, while the second has Pinsent reciting his poems over minimal instrumentation).

With titles like “Peter Easton” and “Upalong,” it’s probably not a surprise that much of the material on the record takes its inspiration from Pinsent’s home province.

Even “Shadows in the Sun” — which Keelor and Good initially took as an ode to fallen soldiers — actually reflects Pinsent’s fear that the town in which he grew up would be reduced to a ghostly shell due to fleeing industry.

“Newfoundland does that,” Pinsent said of the creative inspiration he felt during his visits. “You’re surrounded by water, all of these little gems are sitting there and waiting for you to dig them out of your own past and bring them out and make something happen with them.”

Other poems were inspired by difficult periods in Pinsent’s life. He penned the jaunty “Easy Ridge” following the death of his friend, TV character actor Wally Cox. The words find Pinsent reminiscing on their shared hikes around California (only with some prodding from Good does Pinsent reveal that Marlon Brando was also around for these walks).

More stirring still is Pinsent’s ode to his wife, the actress Charmion King, who died in 2007. On “Charm” — featured among the second disc of spoken-word recordings — Pinsent speaks softly over tinkling piano keys: “I hear her through the morning/ Riding waves of music’s ocean/ Breakfasting with my emotion/ Mindful of the tune she plays upon my heart.”

While Good and Keelor weren’t always sure of the inspiration behind Pinsent’s words, their own interpretations resonated. Keelor points to “Let Go” — which opens with the line “let go of music so I can sleep” — as particularly meaningful.

“Too many years of too loud guitar, too loud listening back to monitors, too loud everything — my ears are pretty baked,” said Keelor, who says his hearing woes will prevent him from being able to play electric guitar loudly on stage.

“I’d been wondering, it’d be so weird not to play music anymore because so much of who I am is defined by music ... so it was a little scary at times, thinking about that. It was quite vivid, when that was the first line in that poem.”

For all the contemplative intimacy of Pinsent’s poems, the trio actually struggled to remain serious over the course of the interview, constantly cracking up and poking fun at one another.

After one of Pinsent’s sharp jabs, Keelor marvelled: “That was sort of a Don Rickles delivery.” Good, meanwhile, was sly when asked if he had been familiar with Pinsent’s work — a stunning career that includes notable turns in Away From Her and his current gig on the CBC hit Republic of Doyle — prior to meeting the actor.

“Never heard of him,” said Good. “I went to his house and I was expecting to see Christopher Plummer, and it turned out to be this guy.”

So given the fun they’ve had, would this unlikely group consider doing it all over again for another project?

“Sure, I’ll find (more poems),” Pinsent said. “Just have to lock myself up and start drinking again.”

Kaiser Chiefs Are Kings Of Practicality

Source: www.thestar.com - By Robert Collins

(Apr 14, 2012) VANCOUVER—Kaiser Chiefs are old hands at the rock and roll game. It's been eight years since their debut album exploded onto the world's radios with its selection of instant sing-along indie anthems. Three albums later they still possess that commitment to catchiness, along with a resolute professionalism regarding the business of making music.

For example, there's really no need to hire a large meeting room for one-on-one interviews in the downtown Vancouver hotel acting as the band's temporary HQ. (They play Toronto's Opera House on April 17.) As bass player Simon Rix, one of the band's three media spokesmen, answers questions with a measured politeness, he admits that for Kaiser Chiefs (a band called Parva before emerging with a new name, sound and image), efficiency walks hand in hand with inspiration.

“We were all quite old, around 25, when we ended Parva,” recalls Rix. “Once we had our foot in the door the second time around, we'd done loads of gigs and understood how to get people involved. You've got to get in people's faces when you're a new band. With ‘Na Na Na Na Na' we knew we needed a fast song for the middle of the set — so we wrote it. We never got round to changing the title.”

Kaiser Chiefs are fully aware that they've never generated the kind of following abroad that they enjoy back in their native U.K., where they regularly fill arenas and even a 35,000-seat soccer stadium in their hometown of Leeds. Along with their fellow Yorkshiremen Arctic Monkeys, the band's lyrical content, awash with British working-class references and vernacular, means their indie-pop appeal sometimes narrows to a particular brand of Anglophile music fan.

“We shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes,” sighs Rix. “In ‘Never Miss A Beat' we wrote, ‘What do you want for tea? I want crisps.' We could have put ‘chips,' which would have been more internationally acceptable.”

The band took a break for most of 2010, a time when Rix realized “I don't need to get another job. I'm a musician now.” They returned with what must've seemed a novel business idea at the time, samples of 20 songs on their website that fans could use to pick their favourites and create their own bespoke, 12-song album, The Future is Medieval.

“Was it the right thing to do?” shrugs Rix. “There are definitely some things we'd change if we had the hindsight of experience. But I'm not sure we'd do it again now we've done it, do you know what I mean?”

If Kaiser Chiefs went slightly awry searching for fresh ways to sell units, creative issues seem wholly resolved at the Vancouver concert, a frenzied blend of new tracks and fan favourites delivered with genuine passion, highlighted by singer Ricky Wilson jumping into the crowd and performing two songs from atop a bar counter.

“Of course we want to play new stuff but we try to find the balance,” explains the ever-professional Rix. “If we didn't play ‘I Predict A Riot' and ‘Ruby' and ‘Oh My God' there would be a lot of disappointed people. We get bored rehearsing those old songs, but when we're in front of a crowd and people are loving it and jumping around, that's what makes it exciting and different every night.”

VIDEO: One Direction Tickets On Sale Saturday For 2013 Toronto Show

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Apr 16, 2012) It is clearly a case of striking while the iron is hot. One Direction, currently the hottest boy band in the world, has announced shows for their 2013 tour, which includes a Toronto stop at the Air Canada Centre on July 9 of next year.

Presale tickets went on sale this past Saturday and are already sold out, with regular tickets set to be available Saturday April 21 at 10 a.m.

The incredibly long lead time for tickets — 14 months between ticket sale and the first show of the tour — shows that the band is planning on keeping their fan base up until at least next year, and provides another opportunity for fans who will miss them on their current tour — which has a two sold-out stops on May 29 and 31 at the Molson Amphitheatre — to potentially secure seats for the next tour.

The big question though is in the fickle world of boy bands, will this band have staying power? Australian newspaper the Courier-Mail, recently looked at data comparing album sales, chart position in the country and longevity of other boy bands, including the likes of NKOTB, Backstreet Boys and ’NSync, and concluded that boys bands on average have a shelf life of about three years.

One Direction is cresting on an incredible wave of success right now, with their debut album, Up All Night, becoming the first British group to have their album premiere at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in March. They recently appeared on Saturday Night Live and sold out their first headlining North American tour in minutes. The group was formed as part of the 2010 of the British version of X-factor, where they came in third.

P. Diddy Crowned Wealthiest Hip-Hop Artist

Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar

(April 18, 2012) P. Diddy has been crowned the wealthiest artist in hip-hop for the second year in a row.

The ‘Hello Good Morning’ rapper — who has an estimated fortune of $550 million — once again beat Jay-Z ($460 million) to claim the top spot in a list compiled by Forbes magazine.

The music mogul’s wealth is fuelled by his Sean John clothing brand, Bad Boy Worldwide record label, vodka brand Ciroc — a joint venture with drinks brand Diageo, Enyce clothing and Blue Flame marketing.

Jay-Z — who welcomed his first child Blue Ivy with wife Beyonce Knowles in January — also has a range of lucrative financial interests, including a deal with Live Nation, his ‘Watch the Throne’ tour with Kanye West, his 40/40 club chain and a stake in the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

Dr. Dre retained the third place spot he took last year while fourth and fifth places on the list were filled by Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams and 50 Cent respectively.

Cash Money Records founder Birdman insists he will soon become a billionaire but remained coy on whether his company will continue to work with partner Universal.

He told Forbes: “One of my motivations in life is to be a billionaire. We’re going to keep working hard until we get our brand to be as big as possible. That’s the goal in life, that’s what I live for.

“Right now we are with Universal and we’re just trying to do the best music possible. I’m loyal to my team, and to success. Whoever gives the most benefit to my team, which is first, and to its success, that’s where we’ll end up at.

Forbes Magazine’s five wealthiest artists:

1. P. Diddy — $550 million

2. Jay-Z — $460 million

3. Dr Dre — $270 million

4. Birdman — $125 million

5. 50 Cent — $110 million

MUSIC TIDBITS

Bruce Springsteen Adds Toronto Date To ‘Wrecking Ball’ Tour

Source: www.thestar.com - By Robert Collins


(Apr 13, 2012) The Boss has added a couple of Canadian dates to his world tour supporting his latest album, “Wrecking Ball.” Bruce Springsteen & the E Str eet Band will play Toronto’s Rogers Centre on Aug. 24. Tickets go on sale April 20. The tour then moves to Moncton, N.B., on August 26 for a show at Magnetic Hill.

Coachella to feature holographic Nate Dogg

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Maggie Wrobel


(Apr 13, 2012) According to TMZ,
Nate Dogg is set to perform alongside pals Dr. Dre and Warren G at this weekend's kickoff of the Coachella music festival in Indio, California. One problem? The rapper passed away last March. Leave it to Dre to find a solution, in this case, projecting a hologram of Dogg onto the stage, which will make it seem as though he is right there rapping with his old posse. Whether you see it as stoic tribute or macabre marketing, the stunt is sure to raise some eyebrows.

::FILM NEWS::    

VIDEO: Strong Opening for Blair Underwood’s ‘On the 7th Day’

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Cherie Saunders

(Apr. 16, 2012) *TD Jakes’ “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On The 7th Day” was a surprise hit among specialty releases over the weekend, averaging a solid $6,376 in 102 locations, and managing a higher per theater average than any other movie among the top 15 grossers, according to Deadline.com.

As previously reported, the faith-based psychological thriller stars Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal as a married couple in New Orleans whose perfect lives unravel when their 6-year-old daughter is kidnapped. The abductor is a religious serial killer who symbolically murders his victims on the seventh day of captivity. As the couple races against the clock to find their child, they start to uncover devastating secrets about each other that threaten to destroy their relationship.

The plot and tone of the film is decidedly different from the 2004 film adaptation of Bishop Jakes’ self-help novel “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” which was directed by Michael Schultz and starred Kimberly Elise as a woman trying to come to terms with her legacy of abuse, addiction and poverty.

The 2004 film “was a different style, a different format, a different kind of story,” explains “7th Day” director Neema Barnette. “I think that this story is a different kind of story. It’s a more modern film, it’s shot differently, it was conceived differently and we designed it to reach a broader audience.”

According to the weekend box office numbers, the game plan to expand the audience worked. Below, Barnette explains how she “became a better person after this film.”

Top 25 Specialty Releases at Weekend Box Office

1: Blue Like Jazz (Roadside Attractions) NEW [136 Theaters] Weekend $267K, Per Theater Average $1,963
2: Woman Thou Art Loosed: On The 7th Day (Code Black Entertainment) NEW [102 Theaters] Weekend $650K, Average $6,376
3: Monsieur Lazhar (Music Box Films) NEW RUN [19 Theaters] Weekend $120K, Average $6,310, Multiple-Run Cume, $1.8M
4. Touchback (Anchor Bay Films) NEW [50 Theaters] Weekend $75K, Average $1,500
5: Hit So Hard (Variance Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6,500
6: Life Happens (PMK/BNC) NEW [16 Theaters] Weekend $21,900, Average $1,369
7. Damsels In Distress (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [22 Theaters] Weekend $93K, Average $4,229, Cume $178K
8. We Have A Pope (Sundance Selects) Week 2 [15 Theaters] Weekend $54K, Average $3,600, Cume $104K
9. Bully (The Weinstein Company) Week 3 [158 Theaters] Weekend $534K, Average $3,380, Cume $813K
10. October Baby (IDP/Samuel Goldwyn) Week 4 [362 Theaters]Weekend $524K, Average $1,449, Cume $4.5M
11. The Raid: Redemption (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4 [881 Theaters]Weekend $1M, Average $1,139, Cume $2.56M
12. Jeff Who Lives At Home (Paramount Vantage) Week 5 [183 Theaters] Weekend $215K, Average $1,175, Cume $3.82M
13. Casa De Mi Padre (Lionsgate) Week 5 [121 Theaters] Weekend $92.5K, Average $764, Cume $5.7M
14. The Kid With A Bike (Sundance Selects) Week 5 [70 Theaters] Weekend $175K, Average $2,500, Cume $765K
15. Footnote (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [84 Theaters] Weekend $210K, Average $2,505, Cume $1.11M
16. Friends With Kids (Roadside Attractions) Week 6 [112 Theaters]Weekend $144K, Average $1,286, Cume $6.98M
17. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (CBS Films) Week 6 [435 Theaters]Weekend $911K, Average $2,094, Cume $6.08M
18. Boy (Paladin) Week 7 [18 Theaters]Weekend $22K, Average $1,248, Cume $175K
19. Undefeated (The Weinstein Company) Week 9 [17 Theaters]Weekend $17K, Average $1,000, Cume $487K
20. Rampart (Millennium Entertainment) Week 10 [21 Theaters] Weekend $10K, Average $486, Cume $900K
21. W.E. (The Weinstein Company) Week 11 [17 Theaters]Weekend $13K, Average $765, Cume $544K
22. Coriolanus (The Weinstein Company) Week 13 [18 Theaters] Weekend $19K, Average $1,056, Cume $664K
23. The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Company) Week 16 [146 Theaters] Weekend $101K, Average $692, Cume $29.84M
24. A Separation (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 16 [91 Theaters] Weekend $93K, Average $1,025, Cume $6.85M
25. The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Week 21 [121 Theaters] Weekend $104K, Average $860, Cume $44.05M

Morgan Spurlock Supersizes A Comic Convention

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Dave Mcginn

(Apr 17, 2012) The notion that we're all geeks now is a fantasy of degrees. No one will make fun of you if you go
see the new Batman movie this summer; but if you go see it dressed up as Batman, well - we're not all geeks like that. Which is why San Diego Comic-Con International has never allowed anyone to make a documentary film about the largest annual event in comics culture, until now.

"We're really protective of the people who come to the show," David Glanzer, Comic-Con's director of marketing and public relations, said in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival, where
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, made its world premiere last summer. "We've always been hesitant about somebody coming in trying to tell our story who really wasn't us."

When filmmaker
Morgan Spurlock approached the convention with a pitch to document it, he was essentially told sorry, we've had plenty of requests in the past and this is one more we'll probably turn down. It's not as if the four-day festival, which now attracts nearly 130,000 people, wants for publicity, after all. But then Spurlock let it be known that he was coming to them with the backing of a real-life super team from the world of comics, which included Stan Lee, the man who made Marvel famous, and fanboy (and girl) favourite Joss Whedon, director of the upcoming superhero movie The Avengers.

Spurlock, who has brought a critical eye to American mass culture in documentaries ranging from Super Size Me to The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, understood the Con's hesitation.

"The fear would have been that I was going to make Trekkies. I was going to make something that would have been more of a joke than taking everything serious," Spurlock said at TIFF.

The 41-year-old filmmaker didn't even reach out to the convention until he had the backing of Lee and Whedon, which happened through a happy accident.

Three years ago, Spurlock was hired to produce and direct The Simpsons 20th anniversary special. Filming took him to the convention for the first time, where he went to find Simpsons "super fans." The spectacle of the convention - fans of every stripe, costumes, its sheer size - wowed Spurlock. "My producing partner Jeremy and I were like, 'This is a movie.' " That night, Spurlock was at a party where he met Stan Lee, the man who co-created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and The Hulk, among other characters. "I literally went over to kiss the ring," Spurlock said. After a bit of small talk over their shared passions of comics and film, Lee suggested they make a movie together about the convention. Spurlock excitedly shared the idea with his agent, who introduced him to Whedon the next day.

"That's where the movie was born from," Spurlock said.

The result is a film that goes beyond the typical gawking at grown men in Star Wars costumes to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the convention through the eyes of six different people: a collector out to get merchandise, a costume-maker showcasing her work, an aspiring illustrator hoping to land a job, a comic-book dealer and a young couple there to share their passion for comics culture and just maybe get engaged. There are also interviews with the giants of comics, including Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane.

It's a loving portrait, but not an entirely fawning one. Spurlock does explore the criticism that the comics have been eclipsed by film and television at the convention since its beginnings in 1970. But the goal of the film is to bring viewers inside the convention to see it for what it is.

"One of the things I think this movie will do is shatter a tremendous amount of stereotypes around conventions," Spurlock said.

Mockery? Derision? These are a path to the dark side. When you take off the Darth Vader mask (or the Batman cowl), you'll find a real person underneath.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope opens in select cities on Friday.

Jane Goodall Hopes ‘Chimpanzee’ Will Get Kids In Touch With Nature

Source: www.thestar.com - By Andrea Baillie

(Apr 17, 2012) Renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall frets that video games and television are distracting kids from the natural world and hopes the new film Chimpanzee will give them a better understanding of life in the wild.

“I think actually what children are lacking is contact with nature ... We didn’t have these films when I was young ... By and large there was no television and that certainly didn’t harm me,” Goodall said in a recent interview.

“Films like this, yes, they’re great compared to the video games, which mostly are absolutely terrible.”

Although Goodall, 78, was not involved with the making of Disneynature’s Chimpanzee, she has given her stamp of approval to the film, about a young primate named Oscar growing up in the African forest.

A portion of first-week ticket sales will go to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Disney, of course, is no stranger to wildlife movies. The studio’s “true-life adventure” tales — produced between 1948 and 1960 — were a Sunday-night staple for a generation of youngsters. Disneynature was launched in 2008 and previous titles have included Earth, Oceans and African Cats.

Chimpanzee, which opened the TIFF Kids International Film Festival last week and will be released in theatres Friday, is refreshingly unadorned by the 3D technology that pervades most of today’s children’s entertainment. Directed by Alastair Fothergill (African Cats and Earth) and Mark Linfield (Earth), it offers up gorgeous African panoramas and breathtaking access to the daily life of little Oscar and his family.

Viewers see the baby chimp being groomed and fed by his mother; he plays in the trees; he rides on her back; and he watches as she cracks nuts for him. Through narration from Home Improvement star Tim Allen, the audience also learns about the dangers to Oscar and his family, including a rival band of chimps.

The initial plan for Chimpanzee, Goodall explains, was to watch Oscar as he bonded with his community. However, midway through the film, the young chimp’s life takes a shocking turn, sending the “plot” in an entirely different direction.

“I think the amazing thing about this film is ... because of the characters in it and the events that happen, it might have been scripted by somebody doing a chimpanzee (version of) Bambi,” said Goodall.

That Chimpanzee had the power to amaze Goodall is a true testament to the film. She has, after all, been working with the creatures for over 50 years, conducting groundbreaking research at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Research Center.

These days, Goodall is so busy with speaking engagements that she only gets back to the sanctuary for a few days a year, noting she won’t go unless she gets to spend at least one day “alone in the forest.”

Goodall says she’s familiar with the difficult terrain depicted in Chimpanzee, and marvels at the footage the crew was able to capture. Indeed, the final credits include outtakes of crew members swatting away swarms of flies and being pelted with rain.

When talking about her early influences, Goodall recalls being struck by the stories of Tarzan (she was devastated when he ran off with “that other Jane”). She’s hoping young filmgoers will embrace the story of Oscar and be inspired to find out more about chimpanzees and their plight.

“This film hopefully will really raise a banner, not about the dangers facing the chimps but about how amazing they are, how like us they are,” she said.

“I hope that they’ll understand more about the division between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. I know they’ll have a much better understanding of what it means to be a chimp and life in the wild and its difficulties — and it’s fun.”

Unlocking The Mind Of Guy Maddin

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 13, 2012) Not many filmmakers would want to put gangsters, ghosts and epic poetry together in the same movie — but then not every filmmaker is like Guy Maddin, the wonderful wizard of Winnipeg.

Maddin’s new melodrama Keyhole has the soul of silent film with the voice of a talkie. Filmed in Maddin’s beloved black-and-white, although this time in digital, it’s a collision of hoods, horror and Homer, the latter being not the Simpsons’ doughnut muncher but rather the ancient Greek rhymer. It opens this weekend at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Homer’s tragic hero Ulysses provides both the handle and the gravity for Ulysses Pick, a mob boss played by Jason Patric, who has to shoot his way into a haunted house to deal with his personal demons, a couple of whom are as naked as jaybirds. He also has to reckon with an ambulatory drowned girl, mutinous henchmen and a stuffed wolverine.

Keyhole is indeed a trip, but how did Maddin explain the ride to his actors?

The lock was picked when Maddin and Patric sat down with the Star during TIFF last fall, where the film premiered.

Q. Guy, how do you explain what you’re up to when you’re getting a cast together?

Maddin: What I love about working with pros is they don’t ask many questions. They’re good readers or they seem to enjoy the experience of working without a safety net or something. In one-on-one conversations we’ll have a few reassuring words; I just want to be reassured they’re not quitting the picture. So yeah, luckily I pretty much got them, with contracts. Seven-picture deal!

Q. Jason, how did you get involved in this caper?

Patric: I met Guy many years before, at Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival. He said he wanted to do something. And then about six years later he rewrote the (Keyhole) script for me and said, ‘Will you read it?’ And I read it.

Q. Do people rehearse a Guy Maddin film?

Maddin: No! Once I decided I would workshop one of my films. I said, “It’s time I became a director.” I wrote a script — this is for a film that I didn’t end up shooting called The Dykemaster. It was a Dutch dyke-building musical. It was a film out of Gimli (Manitoba). I decided, I’ve got all winter, I’m going to start rehearsing with actors and workshopping it, and find ways of shortening the script, deepening characters, whatever the hell it is directors do. I booked a studio space for two weeks and hired a bunch of actors to come in, and after we started reading the script, about 15 minutes later, I just said, “Okay, we’re going home. This is really terrible. I can’t stand it here!” The cast was just depressing me; they weren’t wearing their costumes. There was no spell cast. I couldn’t kid myself.

Q. Do you have conventional script read-throughs?

Maddin: No, I don’t want to hear it. I tried that once. Just when the camera’s rolling. If I hear something that sounds really good once and the camera’s not rolling, it’ll kill me. Because we’ll never get it that way again. I’d rather just shoot the rehearsal.

Q. Jason, there’s a bit of Bogart in your character Ulysses’ voice.

Patric: That’s the type of guy he is. You have to look at the dialogue and word usage, and the style Guy wanted. That’s Guy; he means business. To see that person completely lost as to his own essence. That stuff I can do reasonably well. There’s a certain hat that he wears. That I take off.

Maddin: Right away we decided no hats. That’s another place where movies don’t get it right. Period. The hats.

Patric: It was clear that Ulysses is not the type of leading man we have today. There’s a certain rhythm to the dialogue if you’re going to make a lot of that dialogue work, and I have a lot of it.

Maddin: I like listening to you talk about the leading actors of today.

Q. Care to elaborate on that?

Patric: Guys like Bogie or actors in the past, they would satisfy the scene, which ultimately satisfies the movie. That’s what they’re in for. Bogie’s films were made in about nine, 10 days. Those early ones. I think a lot of performances today, in actors, they’re not satisfying the scene. They’re thinking of how the movie and scene satisfy them: “How can it be brought to me?” I don’t think they listen as well, I don’t think they connect as well to the other actors, or what the material is about. Hollywood is basically Wall St. now; it’s about making sure you’re getting the biggest bonus.

Q. Guy, every time I see one of your movies I feel like you were born in the wrong era.

Maddin: I’m not sure what that is, but I do know I think I’m more comfortable understanding myself as an Expressionist somehow. Just the simple definition of where the interior landscape is just represented outwardly, and then I can get different actors that can interiorize. I still sort things out from the outside in.

Q. So, why a wolverine?

Maddin: Well, I had a wolverine. It was supposed to be a cat, but Jason is allergic to cats. I can’t remember where I got it. Some back alley taxidermy, maybe? But I think I got it at The Bay taxidermy department. Downtown Winnipeg. Next to the tumbleweeds.

VIDEO: The Cabin In The Woods Review: Scared Smart

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

The Cabin in the Woods
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Richard Jenkins and Anna Hutchison. Directed by Drew Goddard. 105 minutes. Opens April 13 at major theatres. 18A

(Apr 12, 2012) To say that
The Cabin in the Woods isn’t your average horror movie is like observing that King Kong isn’t your average ape.

This film is so not average, it sat on the shelf for three years due to business hassles and still manages to seem fresh.

It’s a movie where even when major plot twists are revealed — as the trailers wantonly do — there are so many others left, you have no reason to scream, “Spoiler!”

That said, you don’t want to know too much in advance about The Cabin in the Woods, the feature directing debut of Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard. He shares screenwriting credits with fellow genre subverter Joss Whedon. The two previously teamed for TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

Better you should be as naïve as are most of our five cabin-bound college adventurers: jock Curt (a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth), sexpot Jules (Anna Hutchison), level-headed Holden (Jesse Williams), virginal Dana (Kristen Connolly) and stoner/smartass Marty (Fran Kranz).

Their trip to the proverbial cabin in the remote woods at first follows the bloody footprints of horror movies immemorial, replete with cell-phone outage and a cryptic warning from a gruff, tobacco-spitting redneck.

A few odd notes are struck right at the outset, letting us know that this isn’t just a rehash of The Evil Dead, the film it initially resembles . . . until it starts resembling a whole lot of other films besides.

“Do not read the freakin’ Latin!” Marty yells when the kids stumble upon a hidden basement room and a mysterious book. Marty may be perpetually glazed, but he’s apparently the only one of the group who has seen a horror movie — which is why Cabin, oddly enough, isn’t really like the self-aware Scream franchise.

Of course, if you’ve seen The Evil Dead (and hey — who hasn’t?), you know exactly what’s going to happen. Something involving redneck torturing zombies (or maybe zombie redneck torturers), but that’s very much just for starters. Let the blood spill, but there are also more than a few very dark laughs.

Elsewhere in this world, as the trailer reveals, there’s a control room with close-circuit TV cameras, and two operators played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. Their intentions are unknown, but not for long.

And that’s really all you need or should know in advance. The internal logic of Cabin may not stand up to close scrutiny, even with supernatural elements taken into account. And the film is sometimes a little too cocky about deconstructing a genre that has long since had a chainsaw taken to it.

But the intent behind it is rock solid: a horror show that would have impressed even the ancient Greeks, both their warriors and their philosophers.

Let’s just say that if you go down to the woods today, and I mean The Cabin in the Woods, you’re in for more than a big surprise.

You’re in for one heck of a party, if you’re in the right frame of mind.

VIDEO AND AUDIO: Deitrick Haddon’s ‘A Beautiful Soul’ Soundtrack from the Must See Movie!

Source: www.eurweb.com - By LaRita Shelby

(Apr. 16, 2012) *Gospel superstar Deitrick Haddon is just days away from the opening of his new movie “A Beautiful Soul.” In the film he stars as a singer who is on the right career track but slightly askew with matters of the Spirit.

As a prelude to his second entry in the movies, fans are in store for a tremendous blessing in the form of the movie soundtrack of the same name. Haddon is already a Stellar Award winning artist who released his tenth album “Church On The Moon” on Verity Records last year. It debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Gospel charts, as did several of his previous releases. So why isn’t he content with record breaking sales, a packed congregation and sold out concerts? Well as Deitrick tells EURweb, the vision to be a gospel vanguard began when he was still a teen.

Deitrick Haddon: “When I got out of high school I went on the touring circuit in the gospel plays…. that’s when I really fell in love with it, getting that rise out of the crowd and being able to be spontaneous and to think quick on your feet when it comes to theater.”

The Detroit native officially began his solo career on the Tyscot/Verity label in 2002 with the release of “Lost & Found.” Deitrick’s piercing and soul stirring vocals on the lead single “Sinner’s Prayer” quickly pushed the album up to number one on Billboard. The discography continued with consistent impressive results for Deitrick, who later took over his father’s post at Detroit’s Kingdom Culture Church (formerly High Praise Church). Young Pastor Haddon got a jump start with The Voices Of Unity from his early days in the church at the Unity Cathedral of Faith. Today the sky is the limit for Deitrick and his wife Damita (also a recording artist), although there are some things that they insist on doing for themselves. Haddon is not only starring in A Beautiful Soul, he is producing it with a team of independent producers. Haddon tells EURweb why he prefers this as opposed to a partnership with a major studio.

Deatrick Haddon: “It helps you maintain creative control and it helps you to be in charge and make your own decisions because we’re making faith based independent films and we’re really on the edgy side. Normally when you see faith based films they’re kind of corny, cheesy, trying to stay on the softer side. My films kind of get in there and get gritty but they still maintain the message of Jesus Christ and hope, and love, and inspiration.”

Grammy and BET Gospel Award nominee Deitrick Haddon has comprised a masterpiece of composition, production and artistry for the ‘Beautiful Soul’ album. It is filled with the anointing of Minister Haddon, along with Faith Evans, Kiera KiKi Sheard, Candi West and more. Pre-orders of “A Beautiful Soul” are encouraged for this sure to be another blockbuster and contemporary gospel collector’s item.

In this EURweb Exclusive audio Deitrick Haddon shares more of his vision and motivation with Lee Bailey.


EURweb will have more on Deitrick Haddon as well an in depth look at the new movie and soundtrack “A Beautiful Soul.” Make plans to see “A Beautiful Soul” directed by Jeff Byrd, starring Deitrick Haddon, Angela Berry and Harry Lennix, coming to theaters May 4th 2012. For details on local theaters click here.

Official Sites

Watch as Deitrick Haddon sings ‘A Beautiful Soul’

Herman’s House: The Documentary Story Of Herman Wallace

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 16, 2012) Forty years is a long time to wait for a house to be built.

It’s even longer if you consider what the wait and the house represent to jailed Black Panther activist
Herman
Wallace: freedom, justice and the power of the imagination.

Come Tuesday, it will be 40 years to the day since Wallace, now 71, was thrown into solitary confinement in Louisiana’s State Penitentiary (commonly known as Angola Prison), a former slave plantation that is America’s largest maximum-security jail.

The bizarre circumstances of Wallace’s incarceration, and his dream to replace his 6-by-9-foot cell with a home of his own design, has united Toronto filmmaker Angad Singh Bhalla, U.S. artist Jackie Sumell and Amnesty International in a common cause to right a perceived wrong.

“Even if he’s guilty,” says Bhalla, 32, “there’s nothing in his sentence that says he had to be held in solitary for 40 years.

“He’s an old man, with arthritis and who has had a stroke. It’s basically a situation here where they’re torturing somebody.”

Bhalla’s documentary Herman’s House screens later this month at Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival. More immediate action comes Tuesday, when ex-prisoner Robert King and members of Amnesty International are scheduled to meet with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. They’ll present a petition bearing thousands of names demanding that Wallace and fellow Panther Albert Woodfox be removed from solitary confinement.

On April 17, 1972, Wallace and Woodfox, already in Angola on lesser charges, were placed in solitary confinement following the stabbing murder that same day of a prison guard named Brent Miller, age 23.

Although the two hadn’t been convicted of the crime — they later would be, on the basis of scant and controversial evidence — prison officials deemed them a threat on account of their Black Panther activism to seek better living conditions for the mostly black Angola inmates.

The two were joined soon after by fellow Panther member King, also deemed a security threat, who was released from Angola in 2001, after 29 years in solitary. They would become known as the “Angola 3.”

Wallace and Woodfox continue to languish in solitary, which on Tuesday will mean they’ve each spent 14,600 days in individual cells they pace in a few steps. They’re stuck there 23 hours out of every day, with just one hour allowed for showers, telephone calls and the occasional walk outside.

Here’s where Wallace’s house dream comes in. Enter Sumell, now 38, a New York-born artist who a decade ago heard King speak at a public event.

She became interested in the fate of the Angola 3, and soon befriended the highly articulate Wallace. Sumell started wondering what kind of house Wallace would build for himself if he were a free man — a situation that might never occur. There’s no official release date for Wallace or Woodfox.

Wallace was intrigued, even though, as he says in Herman’s House, “Art is not my thing.” He began a pen-pal and telephone friendship with Sumell, supplemented by occasional platonic visits by her to Angola, in which he wrote and described in detail how he’d like his house to be.

Sumell took it to the next step, by crafting models of the house Wallace wants: a southern-style manor of many rooms, which he wants to be built in New Orleans, his favorite city. She also made a life-sized replica of his actual cell, to show people what he’s dealing with.

“The only way I could get him out of prison,” she says in the film, “was to get him to dream.”

Art shows and a book entitled The House that Herman Built have helped keep the dream alive, but Sumell is still struggling to raise the estimated $40,000-$50,000 needed for the first stage of the project, which is acquiring the land. The actual home would cost roughly $300,000-$400,000. (Sumell’s website is www.hermanshouse.org).

And now here is where Bhalla comes in. He’s a friend of Sumell’s, and he’d heard of her Herman House project for many years before deciding, about five years ago, to make it the subject of his first feature.

He also shares her belief that Wallace has more than paid his debt to society, even if he’s guilty of the murder he swears he didn’t commit.

“I don’t believe in the concept that some people, even if they murder somebody, should be locked up forever,” Bhalla told The Star.

Wallace still considers himself a member of the Black Panthers, a radical group that has espoused violence as a means to an end. But he’s not a violent person, and he’s had a positive effect on other prisoners in Angola, including a young man named Michael whom Bhalla profiles in Herman’s House.

“He’s trying to humanize people, bringing humanity to a very inhuman system,” Bhalla says. “And I think we’re all responsible for that on the outside, by letting things get to this state. There are 80,000 people in solitary in America.”

Herman’s House doesn’t probe too deeply into the facts of Wallace’s case, relying instead on brief news reports to fill in the back story. Bhalla said he wanted to make a different kind of prison documentary, one showing how the human spirit can endure even in the harshest of circumstances.

“It’s not like he’s a totally innocent guy — he admits he robbed a bank, which is what got him into Angola in the first place. He’s had a hard life. He has regrets.

“He believes, and I do too, that he and Woodfox are political prisoners. The prisoner warden says, ‘It’s because you have these kinds of (Black Panther)beliefs that we’re keeping you in solitary.’”

In telephone conversations Bhalla has had with him, Wallace likes to compare himself to Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-Apartheid fighter who was jailed for decades before finally gaining freedom and becoming his country’s first black president.

“Herman says to me, ‘I know I’m getting closer to getting out, because I can hear the voices from the outside. They’re getting louder to set me free. That’s what Mandela says.’”

FILM TIDBITS

Youtube, Google Play To Add 600 Movies From Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer For Rent

Source: www.thestar.com - By Andrea Baillie

(Apr 16, 2012) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Google is adding 600 movies from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to the titles it has
available for rent on YouTube and also Google Play in Canada and the U.S. MGM, whose film library includes classics like Rocky and Rain Man, joins five other major studios offering movies for rent through Google: Viacom Inc.’s Paramount, Comcast Corp.’s Universal, Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures, Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. and The Walt Disney Co. Several smaller studios including Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and The Weinstein Co. also rent movies online through Google. YouTube is available on computers and mobile devices, as well as on Google TV, an Internet-connected TV platform available on certain Sony televisions and Blu-ray players and the Logitech Revue set-top box. Google Inc. is based in Mountain View, California.

Watch the Trailer for ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Lorne Rubenstein

(April 18, 2012) *Uh oh, here she comes, ready or not. We’re talkinMadea folks. That’s right, Tyler Perry’s
Madea’s Witness Protection” stars Eugene Levy (“American Pie”), Romeo Miller, Denise Richards, John Amos and Doris Roberts. The plot centers on Levy, who is placed in a witness protection program at Madea’s southern home for running a Ponzi scheme in New York City. Sounds like a recipe for lots of high jinx and comedy. “Madea’s Witness Protection” hits theaters on June 29.

::TV NEWS::    

Dave Chappelle Breaks His Silence, Gives First Interview In Five Years

Source: www.thestar.com - Written by The Cajun Boy

(Apr 13, 2012) A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep and found myself watching Chappelle’s Show reruns on Comedy
Central and couldn’t help feeling overcome with a sense of “what if?” that so many others probably have whenever they’re reminded of just how genius that show was. The thing about Chappelle’s Show is that, even though it only lasted for a couple of seasons, if you get a bunch of fans of the show together, rarely will two people agree on what its funniest sketch was. It was that good.

So we’ve all been left to wonder so much about the man behind it all, and whether intentional or not, he’s cultivated a sense of mystery around him. But he seems to be making moves toward a comeback of sorts of late, popping up more often in comedy clubs, looking buff, wowing crowds with his talent like he did recently in San Francisco where Vince at Filmdrunk caught his act. There was also a recent incident in which he sat silently on stage during a performance for 45 minutes, so things have been hit or miss, to say the least.

Now there’s an interview with Chappelle making the rounds today — his first interview since he sat down with Oprah in 2006, I believe. There’s not much earth-shattering stuff in it, a radio interview on a Bay-area morning zoo show he used to be a part of before he became famous, but it is interesting, if only for a momentary glimpse inside his mind. He talks about his life living in rural Ohio, what happened in that recent performance where he went silent (He says he thought he was going to get lured into a “reverse Kramer” situation by unruly audience members), and he artfully dodges taking part in the host’s idiotic radio antics without coming off as a prick. All in all, it’s worth checking out after the jump.

Part one…

Free Network TV? Not if Bell Gets Its Way

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Simon Houpt

(Apr 17, 2012) Some days, it might seem as if nobody watches broadcast television any more. All you hear about
are the buzzy shows on cable (HBO's Girls, AMC's Mad Men) and alternative distribution platforms (iTunes, Netflix). But then you glance at the ratings and realize that most of the top 50 shows are still on good old-fashioned network TV.

Which is why a hearing that unfolded at the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday could hold a nasty surprise for millions of viewers across the country: the death of free television.

Bell Media, the vertically integrated TV Godzilla that already owns more than two dozen specialty channels and is on track to pick up another clutch of them if its parent company's acquisition of Astral Media Inc. is approved, has asked the court for the right to charge viewers who want to watch its flagship broadcaster, CTV.

Canadians are so accustomed to paying money to cable and satellite companies (known in the industry's bland parlance as "broadcast distribution undertakings," or BDUs) that they may not realize that broadcast television remains free, just as it has been since TV first came to Canada about 60 years ago.

The system has served all the parties pretty well: In exchange for plucking the broadcasters' signals out of the air and then sending them out to customers, BDUs help the channels snag eyeballs by placing them at the low end of the cable or satellite dial and offering them in their basic packages. BDUs also help the broadcasters by blocking the U.S. signals of shows whose Canadian distribution rights have been bought by those domestic channels. (That's why we end up watching Canadian commercials during the Super Bowl, so the money from the ad sales flows to CTV rather than NBC.)

But when the recession started to dry up their advertising sales a few years ago, Canadian broadcasters began enviously eyeing the business models of their specialty-channel competitors such as TSN, Showcase and Bravo!, which have two revenue streams - ads and subscription fees - and harrumphed about being left out of the subscription game.

They asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for the right to negotiate fees from the BDUs - they called it "fee for carriage" or "value for signal" - and the CRTC gave them the green light. Rogers, Telus, Shaw and Cogeco - some of the country's largest BDUs - pushed back, insisting that the commission had overstepped its jurisdiction. The last thing they wanted was to have to add new fees to already rising cable and satellite bills.

Which, in time, is how it came to be that Canadians learned on Tuesday that some of Madam Justice Rosalie Abella's favourite shows air on CTV.

In a delicious follow-the-money case study, BCE Inc., which owns Bell Media, originally sided with the other distributors. Then it snapped up CTV and promptly changed its position on the matter. And everyone seems to have forgotten that the original justification for changing the system - that the broadcasters were in danger of dying - is no longer the case: Revenues are back up, as are profit margins.

In its court papers, Bell argues that fee for carriage would enable market forces to work properly, "to determine the fair value of programming services." That's a knee-slapper (all right, maybe a free-market enthusiast is the only type who would find it funny) because the Canadian TV industry is one of the most intensely regulated in the country. It is as much a creation of the federal government as the private sector, and it is now dominated by three massive players - Bell, Rogers and Shaw - which effectively form an oligopoly. Market forces have never been much of a consideration, and they still aren't.

In the United States, where market forces have a little more sway, the system has spawned some riveting battles between broadcasters and cable companies, with viewers serving as pawns. A couple of years ago, millions of Cablevision customers missed out on the opening of the World Series after News Corporation pulled its Fox channel and took out newspaper and radio ads attacking the cable company. Cablevision responded in kind, but it caved in the end: Cable companies almost always give in, because they're the ones taking the phone calls from angry viewers who just want to watch the goddamned game.

It could be even uglier up here, where Bell-owned CTV might snub a perfectly reasonable offer from the BDUs and then roll out a marketing campaign playing up the fact that - whaddya' know? - Bell's own satellite and FIBE services is still offering the channel. Timed right - say, just before the Oscars, or the Super Bowl - it could force the cable companies to accept outrageous prices just to secure those marquee shows, rather than deal with angry mobs. Rogers and the others aren't going to have much luck explaining to customers that they're just trying to keep their bills low.

"Try to imagine what would occur if a blackout occurred on the eve of the [Olympic] gold-medal hockey game," a lawyer for one of the cable companies said on Tuesday. "You're striking fear into our hearts," one of the judges said.

Reza Farahan of Shahs of Sunset: Q&A

Source: www.thestar.com - By Liam Casey

(Apr 13, 2012) Reza Farahan is one of the stars of Shahs of Sunset, a reality show about the lives of rich
Persians living in Beverly Hills (airing Sundays at 9 p.m. on OMNI Television). The show has the requisite pool partying and snarky fights about wardrobes. But Farahan is also an openly gay 38-year-old Persian from a closed community who is hoping to stamp out homophobia. Farahan told the Star how it’s going. Here’s an edited version of the interview.

Q: How has your life changed since the show went on air?

A: I’ve gotten a lot of young, gay kids in the Persian community who have reached out to me on Facebook and Twitter, telling me how wonderful it is that we’re getting some exposure. That warms my heart beyond the show. That was my main goal going into the show.

Q: Your main goal was awareness?

A: That was the only reason to go on the show. Persians are very private people. It took a lot to convince my family to allow me to showcase our lives on television, but when I conveyed to them that my goal was to bring awareness to something I’m very passionate about — the rampant homophobia in (the Persian) community — my family got on board quickly after that.

Q: Feedback from young people?

A: I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’ve come out because of me. It’s given them some hope. They’re being bullied, but they know it’s going to get better. They’ve said the show makes them feel good about themselves and that, to me, is priceless.

Q: Has there been any negative reaction to the show?

A: There have been problems. My mother has cut some people out of her life who have spoken negatively about her son. There are people telling her I should say this, I should say that on the show. For some reason, Persians feel like I was elected to represent them when in reality I only have an obligation to represent myself. I don’t feel like any other minority watches television, I mean, President Obama doesn’t watch TV and think that Flavor Flav represents him. It’s disgusting that homophobia is still acceptable and still happens these days. For some reason, gay jokes or using the “f” word, that is still acceptable, which is disgusting to me. Hopefully in a tiny way, by living my life out loud, I can help that. The more of us that do that, the better it will get.

Q: Have you made progress in the Persian community?

A: Some old-ass Persian man, like 80 years old, gets out of his Benz when I’m at Starbucks and rushes over and throws his arms around me and tells me that I’m his quote, unquote, “favourite character” on the show and to keep up the good work. That blew my mind. It didn’t occur to me that my dad’s old-ass friends would watch the show and enjoy it. That, to me, is wonderful. That, to me, is progress in our community.

Q: How is your relationship with your father?

A: It’s been amazing. He’s been so supportive. That is an old-ass person man with old-ass mentality and he has a gay son, but he’s supportive of me and is open to the types of conversations I want to have with him.

Q: How was it coming out?

A: It was difficult. I was 21. My parents had to accept that I wouldn’t be leading the life they imagined for me. My mom was hysterical for two minutes. She collected herself, sat up tall, and told me that she loved me and that she stood by me, and that things would never change and be beside me until the day she died. Things have only gotten better since then.

Q: Would you ever return to Iran?

A: They’re not just behind the times, they reinvented the times. They think that homosexuals don’t exist. There is this bubble that these people are living in and it frightens me. I would be afraid to go there.

Julie Louis-Dreyfus Elected Veep

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(April 18, 2012) His is the mind behind the throne. Hers is the throne behind the throne. A potent combination.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is Veep, a comedic, fictitious American vice-president of no fixed party or policy, in the new HBO political sitcom debuting Sunday night at 10.

She arrives fully formed with a wealth of experience — in situation comedy, not the White House (though an argument could be made that these are pretty much the same thing): Seinfeld, of course, and before that Saturday Night Live, and then her own shows, Watching Ellie and New Adventures of Old Christine.

Guiding her new-found political life is Armando Iannucci, with a wealth of experience in his own field, as writer/producer of Steve Coogan’s popular Alan Partridge series and, more significantly, of two much-admired British political comedies, In the Loop and The Thick of It.

New continent, same shenanigans.

“I’ve always been a political junkie of British and American politics,” says Iannucci. “I was always one of those geeks as a teenager who . . . stayed up through the night to watch the American election results. I’m fascinated by the American electoral process.”

The comic potential of the country’s second-in-command, in particular, appealed to him.

“It’s a job that more or less requires you to have a badge, a lapel button on you saying, ‘I came second all the time,’ which is something you have to kind of live with.

“You’re so close to power and yet you’re removed from it,” he allows. “And your identity is entirely at the whim of the president. If the president likes you, he’ll give you power. If he doesn’t like you, he'll take it away from you. So there’s that.”

It is a very powerful position,” agrees Louis-Dreyfus. “And yet at the same time, I don’t think there’s a politician out there that you would say actually aspires to be vice-president. So it’s strange; it’s a paradox in that sense.”

Before exploring that paradox, Dreyfus did her research; she even had a chance to talk to former vice-presidents.

But which former vice-presidents? (Dan Quayle, one assumes, would have the most insight into being publicly ridiculed.)

“I would love to be able to tell you,” Dreyfus demurs, “but I’m not going to, because I like to keep it private and keep that line of communication open.

“But it was pretty nifty. It was particularly interesting to meet with these people . . . not only was it interesting to hear what they had to say but, of course, how they said it and also what they didn’t say.

“Certain questions were not answered very directly.”

Mostly, she was asking very basic and practical questions.

“Honestly, the thing that I was most interested to hear about was what did it feel like to live at the vice-presidential residence? What was the reality of that? I mean, it’s not like living in the White House. It’s a smaller building, surprisingly small.

“And what happens if you have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Where do the Secret Service go?

“Not the grandeur of it, because you can kind of figure out what that is. I was interested in the real nitty gritty. And also, like I said, what was not said.”

Iannucci, too, was obsessed with accuracy.

“We built an exact replica of the vice-president’s offices, so that we got all the detail right, and were putting these people in as real and as accurate a representation of this world as possible,” he says.

“It’s actually based an awful lot on what does go on in Washington. I always felt that there are two types of ways in which Washington has been portrayed before, which is the very noble, where everyone is very good at their job and it’s for the highest ends. Or else it’s a very cynical, corrupt, rather sinister world.

“I actually believe the truth is somewhere in between. It’s fundamentally a lot of people trying to get on with a job. Some of them are good at it and some of them are bad at it. Some of them are very ambitious. And the worst ones are the ones who are bad at it but who think they’re good at it. They’re the most dangerous ones.

“That’s really where I wanted to show. I mean, I’m a big fan of The West Wing. But as I said, I think at this particular point, I think that portrayal of Washington as a clean and noble heartland just wouldn’t wash with the public. We’ve seen too much now.”

Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Master Teachers’ Have Much To Learn From Her

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 16, 2012) The theme of Oprah Winfrey’s first Canadian broadcast was “gratitude.”


This seemed appropriate, amid a sea of floral blouses and sensible pantsuits, deep inside the bowels of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where more than 8,500 Opraholics lavished their visiting leader with love, adoration and unrelenting gratitude.

Joined by four “master teachers” — spiritualist Deepak Chopra, preacher Bishop T.D. Jakes, author Iyanla Vanzant and life strategist Tony Robbins — Winfrey could have read aloud from the backs of cereal boxes.

The crowd would have still roared.

Lifeclass: The Tour is a traveling TV show on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, the struggling cable station Winfrey is now tasked with fixing. With previous stops in St. Louis, Mo., and New York, the goal is to create a “global classroom” in which viewers become students and Winfrey’s “life lessons” serve as inspiration between the commercial breaks.

So, starting around 9 a.m., the lectures began.

First up was Chopra, a man so utterly cosmic one wonders if he seeks spiritual guidance before buying laundry detergent. He said things like “God is the mystery of the universe” and “Your mind does not exist by itself.” There were Venn diagrams about perception and awareness. There was a reverential hush.

What there was not, unfortunately, was a clear idea of what he was talking about.

Next up: Vanzant, a dynamic public speaker, New York Times bestselling author and someone you probably don’t want to annoy in public. She spoke about “learning how to tell the truth” and encouraged everyone to “tell the truth to yourself about yourself.”

Reaction to this tautological wisdom ranged from bursts of wild applause to bursts of wild laughter to bursts of wild applause and laughter from the mostly female audience. (There were a few males scattered across the adjoined halls. Some of them were Oprah fans. Others sat in conference chairs with grimacing smiles.)

Jakes was next.

His lecture, unofficially titled “learn stuff from bad things,” ended with an extended avian metaphor about why it’s important to be more like eagles (they can make love in the air) and less like chickens (they eat their own excrement and can’t fly).

His message was a bit clearer, especially if you were a bird.

What was really clear is that Robbins, a fellow some may recall from ’80s infomercials, is like catnip to many women of a certain age. With the jaw-line of a superhero and the disarming smile of a used car salesman, he dazzled the audience with his high-octane, rapid-fire delivery and stories about personal empowerment.

“Change is automatic, progress is not,” he barked into a microphone that was clipped over his left ear. “Change your story, change your life!”

All of this was the warm-up to the actual show, which was taped for future broadcast and started with Winfrey striding onstage in a blood-orange dress while shouting some gratitude of her own: “So glad you are here with me!”

A second show, this one live, also aired Monday night.

The genius of the self-help industry is that it’s immune to empirical testing. It’s easy to get swept up in the just-change-your-life admonitions — at times, the show felt more like a raucous church sermon than a classroom lesson — while forgetting that life is infinitely more complicated than the master teachers would have you believe.

During the first show, a couple of people in the audience talked about their own personal tragedies. The teachers — especially Vanzant — were borderline glib in response. Instead of showing any real empathy, the teachers encouraged these people to just change the narrative or change the way they see themselves.

And as this happened, something else became clear: Winfrey remains in a class of her own when it comes to this type of television. The connection she instantly forged with the audience was something none of the master teachers could ever hope to achieve over a month of on-air work, let alone a quarter century at the top.

This was the biggest lesson from Lifeclass: OWN is Oprah. Oprah is OWN. If this thing is to succeed, she may need to clone herself.

Winfrey may not have all the answers. But she asks the right questions. Unlike the master teachers, she knows not everyone will find the promised land of happiness and self-actualization.

But she also knows it’s out there and wants to help you find the way.

TV TIDBITS

Ben Mulroney To Co-Host ‘Live! With Kelly’ Again, This Time In NYC

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(April 18, 2012) Ben Mulroney is set to co-host Live! with Kelly again, this time south of the border. The CTV eTalk co-anchor will join Kelly Ripa on her syndicated morning talk show in New York City on May 4, a month after he shared the stage with her during a taping in Banff, Alta. CTV, which airs Live! with Kelly in Canada, says the Banff episode featuring Mulroney as co-host garnered the show’s highest audience ever in Canada, with 685,000 viewers. The guest on the May 4 episode will be Canadian Castle star Nathan Fillion. Other co-hosts scheduled for the week of April 30 include singer-songwriter Josh Groban and Canadian-born New York One news anchor Pat Kiernan. Guests lined up for the week include Donald Trump, Daniel Dae Kim, Mark Ruffalo, Lisa Rinna, and Sissy Spacek.

::ARTS NEWS::

Harbourfront Centre Announces Summer Events

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Apr 17, 2012) Harbourfront Centre will launch a series of summer festivities on the May long weekend (May 19
to 21) with an international circus festival as part of HarbourKIDS. The three-day party will include Zero Gravity Circus Showcase, featuring clowns and acrobats; physical theatre workshops with Wonderbolt Circus; and Stand Up Dance's family dance sessions.

On June 16 and 17 comes North by Northeast programming (a.k.a. NXNE), highlighted by live music from Russian-flavoured Jumple and one-man band The People of Canada.

On the Canada Day weekend (June 29 to July 2), “Going Global” (presented by CIBC) will include live music by The Hidden Cameras, Johnny Clegg and The Airplane Boys. Also on the bill: finalists of the “O Canada” singing competition; a dance competition called The Call Out; and a Brazilian festival of film and television, plus more live music from Brothers of Brazil and Maria Bonita & the Band.

SoundClash Festival (July 13 to 15) offers the funky sound of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. And four dance/DJ crews compete in “Bragging Rights: DJ Dance Dance Battle.”

In the Hot & Spicy Food Festival (July 20 to 22), a taco competition will decide which one is Toronto's best. And chefs battle for supremacy in the annual Longo's Iron Chef event.

Ukuleles and African string music will be showcased at Classical Strings: IV, July 27 to 29.

During Island Soul (Aug. 3 to 6), live music will be provided by Jamaica's Duane Stephenson. Trinidad will be represented with a tribute to calypso master Lord Kitchener.

During Planet IndigenUS (Aug. 10 to 19), Kaha:wi Dance Theatre and Yokohama Noh Theatre from Japan team up for “Susuriwka — Willow Bridge” (a ticketed event). Live music includes a Robbie Robertson tribute show.

The Telus Taiwanfest (Aug. 24 to 26) will include the a cappella group O-Kal Singers and Dance Works, combining traditional culture with tap dancing.

A highlight of the annual Ashkenaz Festival (Aug. 28 to Sept. 3) is Theatre Panik's The Corpse Bride, updating a classic Yiddish folk tale (this is a ticketed event).

September brings the Vietnamese Lantern Festival (Sept. 15). And Fortune Cooking (Sept 16) introduces Pan-Asian local foods.

Tamara Rojo To Head English National Ballet

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(Apr 16, 2012) Tamara Rojo, a star of Britain’s Royal Ballet, will soon become the second Canadian-born dancer in succession to head London’s other major tutu troupe, the English National Ballet.

Like Wayne Eagling, who in February announced he’s stepping down after eight years as the ballet’s artistic director, Rojo, 37, was born in Montreal.

Although both made their careers in Britain, neither has forgotten where they were born. Rojo, who was largely raised in Spain, still has a Canadian passport.

Despite the notorious challenges involved, Rojo has long had an interest in becoming an artistic director.

In 2007, she took part in an intensive seminar for future dance leaders organized by England’s DanceEast; its head, Assis Carreiro, is also Canadian. After that, Rojo was selected to take up a fully funded, one-month career placement with an artistic director of her choice: the National Ballet of Canada’s Karen Kain.

As Rojo explained at the time, “I wanted to work with someone who has made the successful transition from ballerina to artistic director.”

In late 2009, Rojo shadowed Kain, attending meetings and learning everything she could about National Ballet operations and the duties of artistic director.

Rojo’s appointment to the 69-dancer English National Ballet was widely rumoured and has been generally hailed by the British media as a coup for the company. Apart from her fame as a dancer — Rojo says she’ll continue to perform — she’s known to be determined, intelligent and articulate, also well educated. Despite her busy ballerina schedule, Rojo has completed arts-related bachelor and master’s degrees.

“She is a highly intelligent woman with great drive and ambition,” says Kain.

And she’ll need those smarts. The English National Ballet, which has a costly commitment to regional touring, is grappling with a 15 per cent cut to its Arts Council grant. Undaunted, Rojo says her job is find new ways to attract audiences and to convince public funders that the arts really matter.

Says Kain, “I wish Tamara all the strength and resilience she’ll need to deal with such a demanding job.”

Flamenco Artist Esmeralda Enrique Celebrates 30 Years In Canada

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(April 18, 2012) It was almost a spur-of-the moment decision that brought renowned dancer/choreographer Esmeralda Enrique to Toronto. Now, more than 30 years later, her name is synonymous among local fans of flamenco with the soulful Andalusian dance that remains Enrique’s enduring passion.

This week, the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company celebrates its founder’s three decades in Canada with a Harbourfront Centre program of song, music and dance under the broad thematic banner of Aguas/Waters.

“Without water there is no life, yet often we don’t fully appreciate its full meaning,” Enrique explains. “It sustains and nurtures us as human beings, but in the form of oceans it can both unite and divide us. It has so many aspects.”

Aguas/Waters is thus Enrique’s metaphorical journey in music and dance through the varying significances of water. As in past seasons, Enrique is supplementing regular company members and musical collaborators with guest talent, including from Spain the sensational dancer Juan Ogalla, guitarist Oscar Lago, and singers Niño de Elche and Manuel Soto.

The fact that Enrique can call on such talent testifies to the respect she commands within the larger flamenco community and to the close ties she has maintained with its Spanish roots. Flamenco is not locked in time. It has many evolving varieties and Enrique has made it her policy to remain abreast of these developments, rejecting some and incorporating others into her own work.

Although Spanish was her first language, Enrique is of Mexican-American descent. She was born in San Antonio, Texas, where she fell in love with flamenco in her early teens because it appealed to her search for a medium of personal expression and because, as she concedes, “I liked the costumes.”

Enrique, one of 11 siblings, followed an older sister/flamenco dancer to Spain where they intended to deepen their knowledge of its various styles. “It was a real eye-opener,” she says.

Despite lingering homesickness, with just one short break Enrique spent the next 13 years, which included the tumultuous end of the dictatorial Franco regime, dancing in Spain, and enriching her understanding of flamenco and other regional and classic forms.

In 1981, Enrique was about to take up an enticing offer for a tour to Japan, a country crazy for flamenco, when she was persuaded to join a close friend who’d secured a contract to perform in a new flamenco club in Toronto.

Enrique’s stay in Toronto might have been quite short — she was appalled by the winter — had Cupid not interceded. Sal Principato was a regular at El Flamenco, where Enrique performed. They met and within three months were married, which, says Enrique, “determined where I would live.”

But it did nothing to quench her love of flamenco and, by 1982, Enrique had opened her Academy of Spanish Dance and launched a company.

According to Enrique, flamenco is still often “misrepresented and misunderstood.” For many, it is little more than frilly skirts, clicking castanets and fancy footwork. For her, it is so much more. “It is a way of life, with a philosophy grounded in honesty, dignity and integrity.”

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company performs Aguas/Waters, April 19 to 22 at Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W. Go to
www.flamencos.net or call 416-973-4000 for tickets.

These B-Boys And Girls Belong On The Stage

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

IZM
Bboyizm
Choreography by Yvon Soglo (Crazy Smooth)
Enwave Theatre in Toronto on Friday

(Apr 15, 2012) Here’s a riddle and the answer might surprise you. What genre of dance piece contains text with words like zeitgeist and autodidact, while referencing Marshall McLuhan?

Hip-hop. About 15 minutes into
IZM, the new full-length work by Ottawa’s top crew Bboyizm, choreographer/dancer Crazy Smooth (Yvon Soglo) gives a talk to the audience that is part education, part apologia and part satire.

His self-mocking language is deliberately heightened and academic. While explaining the historical roots of hip-hop, Crazy Smooth is also throwing darts at critics who won’t treat urban street dance as legitimate performance dance.

IZM proves his point. Crazy Smooth and his nine b-boys and b-girls have crafted a dance show that is witty and polished and absolutely belongs on the mainstream professional stage.

At the heart of Crazy Smooth’s lecture is the definition of “IZM.” It is, he tells us, a state of mind reflecting a cultural lifestyle. As well as being the reflection of living in the here and now, IZM is also a serious dialogue between artist and audience about the very nature of art.

The crew certainly gets to show off their hip-hop virtuosity. The piece abounds with the exciting floorwork that is the hallmark of urban street dance, such as the hands on the floor while the body and legs twist and turn in the air. Or dizzying spins anchored only by the small of the back, or even just the head. Or back flips from a standing position. Bboyizm has hip-hop dance chops down cold.

What is more important in IZM is the framework around these showy tricks. The work is highly choreographed in terms of entrances and exits and variety of presentation. In fact, IZM raises the bar of how hip-hop can make an artistic statement that it is more than just b-battles and dance-offs.

There is for example, a very funny running joke throughout the show. Four individual dancers do a slow walk to middle stage, one after the other. They turn, stare at the audience with deadpan expressions, execute a showy hip-hop trick, then stare at the audience again before slowly making their exit.

By the time this sequence is into its third repeat, the audience is laughing in advance. But we also get the message. This pseudo ponderous pomposity is making fun of so-called high art by showing that hip-hop can also have gravitas, albeit, overdone to the max.

Another sequence calls for a run of ballet moves including arabesque turns and gazelle leaps. They may be making fun of classical dance vocabulary, but Bboyizm is also subliminally equating their own art with ballet. Similarly, they also demonstrate their skills at Latin dance, which includes intricate footwork and close partnering. And then there is the homage to African dance rituals.

Perhaps the most amusing section is the b-crew making fun of itself. At various points, they pose in the iconic hip-hop freezes: tilting the body back with arms folded across the out-thrust chest; or one hand cupping the chin, elbow resting on the other arm. The audience instantly recognizes these hip-hopisms, and in doing so, we understand that Bboyizm has left the basics behind and is carrying urban dance to the next level of theme and story.

In terms of dance skills, Melly Mel (Melissa Flerangile), Lost Child (Mathieu Dumoulin) and Strife (Mathieu Bilodeau) are stand-outs with their speed and crisp attack. But every one of the Bboyizm dancers is very talented.

Bboyizm is definitely going places as the dancers carve out a new frontier for urban street dance.

Bboyizm performs IZM at Vancouver’s The Cultch, Apr. 24 to 29.

Mike Tyson’s ‘Undisputed Truth’ Reviewed

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 16, 2012) *Wow, has Mike Tyson gone through some changes.


He’s anything but the once loathed and feared human fighting machine he used to be. Now at 45 he’s morphed into a … what, a comedian/actor/storyteller … who finds it both therapeutic and financially lucrative to talk about a time gone by, when he held the world in his hands with his wild and crazy ways.

RELATED: Mike Tyson Thinks George Zimmerman Should be Shot!

Well, that was then. Saturday night Tyson debuted his one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press was there to witness the event and filed this report/essay:

*The urge struck me about halfway through Mike Tyson’s latest adventure, just after he told the audience about how his mother loved the bottle more than she loved him.

Or maybe it was when the big video screens showed a young Tyson serving as a pallbearer for Cus D’Amato, the man who molded his boxing career and the only man he really loved.

The former baddest man on the planet once made opponents and anyone who came into his path shake with fear. On this night, though, it was all I could do not to run up on stage and give him a big hug.

Surely a lot of those gathered in a hotel theater just down the hall from where Tyson had some of his biggest fights felt the same way. How could they not after watching him bare his soul for assorted VIP’s and anyone willing to pay $117.49 to hear his story?

It was billed as “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” and there’s still time to catch it if you have the cash and can get to the MGM Grand hotel before Wednesday’s final performance. Beware, though, because this is more about Tyson’s greatest misses than it is about his greatest hits.

“Many of you wondered what the hell Mike Tyson was going to do on stage tonight,” Tyson said at the beginning of the show. “I was wondering the same thing.”

Actually, I had a good idea because I’ve been listening to it for years. So did Tyson, because the show is mostly scripted — credit is given to wife Kiki — and he knows the subject material because he’s lived it.

That he’s still alive at the age of 45 after all that living is remarkable enough, a fact Tyson himself acknowledged on stage. Any combination of the women, the fights, the drinking and the heavy cocaine use could have done him in at any time.

“I’m coked up and fat,” he said at one point, gazing up at a Los Angeles police booking shot of himself on the video screen. “I’m a fat cokehead.”

Read/learn MORE at Yahoo News.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Confessions Of An E-Mail Addict

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Michael Inzlicht

(April 14, 2012)
Hello. My name is Michael, and I’m an addict. And by addict, I don’t mean I love something so
much I claim to be addicted; I’m no chocoholic. I’m a back-alley, needle-sharing, just-stole-10-bucks-out-of-my-mother’s-wallet-to-get-a-fix junkie. My crack? E-mail. I need hits of it every five minutes. I need it morning, noon and 4 a.m. I need it when I’m in the middle of a conversation, when I’m in the bathroom, when I’m with my son in the park. The more I get, the more I want, and it’s never enough.

I’m in deep trouble. And as a university professor of psychology and neuroscience, I know I’m not alone. Many, many people suffer from this same 21st-century affliction. New research out of the University of Chicago, for example, suggests that smokers have a tougher time resisting their impulse to check Twitter (e-mail’s close cousin) than resisting their urge to smoke. Sensing the psychological impact of overzealous e-mail use – and most certainly on the company’s bottom line – German auto maker Volkswagen recently decided to restrict employees’ BlackBerry e-mail use to business hours. A recent New York Times article details a new trend in high-end travel, with the rich and famous paying top dollar for the privilege of staying in luxe retreats that restrict e-mail access.

Like any other addict, my habit is abetted by all manner of gadgets I have lying around: e-mail notification pop-ups on my computers or the shrill telegraph sound on my iPhone. I’m constantly jonesing. And when I see the glorious bold text of a new message, I feel a sense of euphoria.

If you’ve struggled with a recognized addiction, these words may offend you, minimize your experience even. That’s not my intention. Instead, consider me a crusader, an advocate for a new cause.

Although the DSM-IV, the diagnostic bible of the American Psychiatric Association, doesn’t recognize e-mail addiction as a real affliction, it’s just a matter of time. I experience real physiological distress on receiving new e-mail messages. My symptom list includes increased sweating, heart rate and blood pressure, an acute startle response, and an inability to focus on anything else. The only thing that soothes this aversive biological state is to check the e-mail immediately, at the precise moment it arrives; everything else I’m doing or anyone else I’m talking to can go fly a kite.

Ironically, my e-mail behaviour has been destructive to the main activity it’s supposed to support – my work. Instead of reading books and articles, I check and respond to e-mail. Instead of writing, I check and respond to e-mail. I just can’t stop checking and responding to e-mail.

Where does all of this leave me? Lacking any conventional treatment for my addiction (and no fancy celebrity-filled rehab to jet off to), I decided to concoct my own detox remedy. I’ve been fortunate to get the opportunity to go on a sabbatical from teaching, and I decided I would use part of my time (spent abroad) to go on a complete e-mail holiday.

I wish I could report that I withstood the unnatural forces compelling me to check it, but that would be a lie. I ended up justifying to myself why I needed to check at any given moment. My e-mail holiday lasted all of three days.

I don’t consider it a complete failure, however. While I couldn’t kick my addiction cold turkey, I succeeded in restricting it. I disabled all of those infernal warning sounds and sights on my multifarious computers and devices. I rearranged the icons on my various screens to have my e-mail applications positioned in less conspicuous spots. Most important, I decided to check and respond to e-mail only once every four hours. This has been exceedingly difficult for me to do, but I’ve been sticking to my regimen – more or less.

I can’t fully express how rewarding these small steps have been. Suddenly, I have time to do the things I really want and enjoy, like reading. Oh how I’ve missed reading. I’ve also found time to be present, and not mindless, with my family.

Things are better, but I also know how easy it would be to slip back. And I realize how much more difficult it will be once I return home from my sabbatical to face technology’s full assault.

But I’m hopeful.

Michael Inzlicht is an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Toronto, where he studies issues surrounding self-control. He’s currently on sabbatical in Australia.

‘Bubble Witch Saga’ Game Blows Up On Facebook

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Georgina Prodhan, Reuters

(April 16, 2012) London— European startup King.com has overtaken video-games giant Electronic Arts on
Facebook, with almost 10 million people every day now playing its games that include Bubble Witch Saga on the social network.

The nine-year old company has experienced an explosion in popularity since launching on Facebook little over a year ago with its saga games, in which players move through a competitive landscape and pass their friends on the way.

The games appeal to a growing trend for players, more and more of them female, to play puzzle games with their friends in short bursts, especially as games are increasingly played on the move on phones or tablets to kill spare minutes.

Bubble Witch Saga, King.com's top Facebook game, now has more daily players than Zynga's hit game Farmville, in which players have to invest longer periods of time in activities like planting virtual crops and raising livestock.

King.com's sixth Facebook saga game, Candy Crush Saga, has already acquired nearly half a million daily users since its launch last week, according to Facebook metrics firm AppData.

Zynga, with almost 80 Facebook games including titles that span other genres like Texas HoldEm Poker and Mafia Wars, is still by far the most popular games developer on the site, with 65 million daily users of its apps.

Apart from Zynga, only German social games firm Wooga, whose most popular game is Diamond Dash, in which players compete to tap on gems of the same color for 60 seconds, how has more daily players on Facebook.

“Our ultimate ambition is to be the leader in our segment of games for the casual social player, mainly female, social and mobile,” King.com's Chief Executive and co-founder Riccardo Zacconi said in an interview with Reuters.

“Our target is to reach Zynga.”

Zynga went public late last year in a high-profile initial public offering that raised $1-billion, and Mr. Zacconi is also eyeing a possible IPO next year, although he said no decision had yet been taken and he declined to estimate King.com's value.

“The market is changing very fast. There will be consolidation, and we want to have a war chest,” he said. “We are preparing the company.”

Makers of games and other Facebook applications are currently changing hands for large sums.

Facebook last week bought Instagram, a two-year-old photo-sharing application developer with about 30 million users, for $1-billion, while Zynga bought OMGPOP, maker of the popular game “Draw Something,” for about $200-million last month.

Zynga is now trying to reduce its dependence on Facebook with a new gaming network of its own that it launched last month.

Zacconi said King.com was thinking carefully about whether to join. “Zynga is going from being a games developer, a competitor, to being a platform. There are many things we need to understand regarding this move.”

King.com, which is older than Facebook, has had its own website since launch. It is aimed at players who want to play competitively with strangers and may spend several hours a day on the site.

The company, whose main offices are in London and Stockholm, had some 300,000 games being played monthly on King.com before the Facebook launch early last year. Now about 2.5 billion King.com games are being played every month.

King.com has been profitable since 2005, and has not had a funding round since September of that year, when it raised $44-million from venture capital firms Apax Partners and Index Ventures.

“We haven't touched a penny,” said Mr. Zacconi, adding that King.com last month bought Swedish mobile games developer Fabrication Games, which has 12 employees to King.com's 200, without raising any money.

Mobile is the next frontier for King.com, and it is about to launch its most popular games for Apple and Google phones and tablets so that players can pick up games on their mobile devices where they left off on their desktop.

“It can be in a couple of weeks, it can be in three weeks,” said Mr. Zacconi. “It's close, quite close, but we launch the game when it's ready. It's launched when it's perfect.”

Halo 4 To Hit Shelves On Nov. 6

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Apr 17, 2012) Master Chief is picking up his gun again. Microsoft has announced that Halo 4 will hit shelves on
Nov. 6.

Set four years after the events of 2007’s Halo 3, the story picks up the tale of the always-helmed character as he sets off to face an ancient evil, spawning a new story for the franchise. This game will be developed by 343 Industries, Microsoft’s internal studio, which has managed the entire Halo franchise, and is responsible for all of the licensed merchandise.

“We are beginning a new saga with Halo 4 and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of Halo games and experiences,” Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, said in a release. “Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief.”

Bungie Studios were the developers behind the first three instalments in the Halo franchise, as well as prequel 2010s Halo: Reach, which did not feature Master Chief as a playable character but was the studio’s swan song to the character and massive franchise. The success of the series has helped give credibility to Xbox and Microsoft, which launched the console with Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. Since then, the series has sold more than 40 million games worldwide.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Fuerteventura In Canary Islands Is As Affordable As It Is Beautiful

Source: www.thestar.com - Sherri Haigh

(April 14, 2012) FUERTEVENTURA, CANARY ISLANDS—The first thing that strikes me upon arriving on this small
island off the coast of northwest Africa is the jagged coastline. It’s jet-black, volcanic rock, and I have the eerie feeling I’m on another planet.

The rock quickly transforms into a blanket of pure white sand that’s so bright it could be mistaken for snow.

It’s no surprise to learn later that this, the second largest of the Canary Islands, was created by volcanic activity years ago and that sandy beaches are influenced by the winds from the nearby Sahara Desert.

I am picked up by Gillian, who moved to the island from Manchester several years ago. The guaranteed sunshine and peaceful existence made it an easy decision. She earns an income by transporting visitors to and from the airport.

“Don’t worry; we don’t have any active volcanoes right now,” she laughs as she sees me staring at a mountain that looks ready to erupt at any second.

The sun-kissed rock quickly transforms from crimson red to a burnt orange as we drive. It’s hard to pull my gaze away but Gillian’s next comment snaps my neck in another direction.

“Most of the beaches along here are ‘natural,’” she warns. “So be prepared.”

I don’t spot any “natural” sunbathers, but I am captivated by turquoise waters that already have me feeling relaxed. My destination is Corralejo, located on the northern tip of the island.

One of my travelling companions had been to the island before and was lured back by the top notch yoga instructors. My idea of stretching involves reaching into the fridge for a bottle of wine, so I passed on that part of the trip in favour of a host of other options including hiking, boat cruises and scoring great bargains on jewellery.

Fuerteventura is located just off the north coast of Africa and the weather is almost always sunny and warm. The quaint town of Corralejo offers many resting points to admire the ocean view or just watch the impressive sand sculptors at work.

If you are a beach lover, the miles of golden sand dunes that lie just beyond the town are well worth the time to explore. The dunes are a protected nature reserve.

Paradise does come with some investment, in terms of time to get here – about two hours - and cost; often $1,000 from Madrid.

But once you arrive, you will discover incredible deals for food, wine and accommodations. Modern two and three bedroom villas can be found for under $100 a day. Our unit, located 15 minutes from town, featured two living rooms, a modern kitchen, three bedrooms and four bathrooms and a shared pool.

There were several grocery stores nearby where we picked up our breakfast of yummy coconut yogurt—a local favourite—for about 10 cents for a single serving. The groceries were so inexpensive that on one day our breakfast and dinner combined was less than a glass of wine at one of my favourite Toronto lounges.

Lunch was the best meal for dining out. Long, lazy afternoon meals allow the opportunity to soak up the sunshine and drink in the breathtaking views. Wine was often in the $6-$7 range (that’s for a bottle, not a glass).

But don’t think that low prices means sacrificing quality. The meals were impressive. Some of the best finds are in the “old town” section of Corralejo. Restaurants on the water like La Marquesina offer tasty paella at a reasonable price. A highlight, although a tad pricier, was La Vaca Azul, which is located in a nearby town called El Cotillo. The rooftop dining offers breathtaking views as well as sensational seafood. And when they say jumbo shrimp, they really mean jumbo. You only need one.

If budget is not an issue, the island does offer pampering. For five-star luxury there is the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real. The spa’s 32C pool offers panoramic views of the ocean and features a cascade of water that falls from a height of three metres. You can just float in peace or indulge in options like the massage seats, shower temple or even the ice fountain.

The miles of beaches and strong winds make Fuerteventura a popular choice for surfers and wind surfers. We preferred a safer form of water activity and opted for a boat trip to the nearby volcanic island Isla de los Lobos.

There are plenty of pubs and bars that liven up after the sun sets, however, unless you like a bad imitation of Guns N’ Roses, stay off the main “touristy” street. For a true taste of Spain, take the plunge and wander past the old town square. On our last night, we discovered a tiny tapas bar tucked away on a dark side street. We were clearly the only tourists yet instantly welcomed by the locals. Within minutes “Antonio” and his friends had pulled out a ukulele and guitar and the serenading began. I was even given a personal lesson in the Canary Waltz.

For sun worshippers who seek a luscious Rioja, tantalizing tapas and postcard views of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a bonus to know that this exotic locale can also be fun and affordable.

Sherri Haigh is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

JUST THE FACTS

ARRIVING A round-trip flight can average about $1,100. Air Canada does not fly direct but look for deals to Manchester or London where you can get inexpensive connecting flights to the island. Expedia is a good option as well or contact a travel agent for help.

SLEEPING Villa La Tinajas – affordable villa with two and three bedrooms plus pool. El Pozo, Corralejo. villaslastinajas.com Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia, Avda Grand Playas Corralejo offers pricier but luxury accommodations with full service spa and ocean-front views. www.bahiarealresort.com/granhotel

DINING Cantente Café is a funky spot on the waterfront in Corralejo with comfy chairs and great views of Los Lobos. For those with a kitchen, save on dinner out by picking up a medium-sized, $2 pizza in the local deli and heating it at home. Feeds three.

WEB SURFING Accommodations: villaslastinajas.com. bahiarealresort.com/granhotel. General information: fuerteventura.com.

Is This The South Pacific’s Perfect Retreat?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Si Si Penaloza

(April 6, 2012) Vomo Island, just a 15-minute helicopter ride from Fiji’s Nadi Airport, is an idyllic, 91-hectare
privately owned isle in the Mamanuca Islands. Majestic Mount Vomo rises at one end, offering expansive views of the Pacific in all directions. With raw beauty at every turn, I may have just found the most perfect retreat in the South Pacific.

I check into Villa 22 – a three-bedroom domestic dream with a sizable pool that rivals the main guest pool. The resort spares no expense to achieve perfection in all the little things – lighting, linens, chilled pinot gris on arrival and free laundry service.

I sign up for the spa’s Wai Thalasso Moisture Boost. Arti, my therapist, begins by bathing my feet in a milk bath of wild lime and ginger. She then works in an exfoliating body scrub with brisk strokes, towelling me off at every stage. After a quick rinse, she applies a papaya hydro gel serum for a moisture boost. The therapeutic massage that follows features sea extracts and aloe vera, and it’s sheer bliss.

The benefits

Marine extracts from the deep seabed of Fiji’s Mamanuca waters provide essential moisture balance, and work to restore skin suppleness. Papaya enzymes promote cell activation with natural exfoliation and offer non-aggressive anti-aging skin care.

The spa

Vomo Island is the only island in the Fijian archipelago fringed entirely with pillowy-cream sand that drifts into clear blue waters. The perfect place for a spa and a snorkel, the five-star resort is surrounded by coconut trees and coral reefs (fresh coconut water is an ideal cleansing tonic post treatment).

Noise-sensitive spa-goers rejoice: To preserve the tranquillity and environment of Vomo, non-motorized water sports such as glass-bottom kayaking, stand-up paddleboards, sailing and windsurfing are included with your stay. With 30 well-spaced luxury villas along the beachfront, this perfectly formed hotel is popular with return guests who take both comfort and seafood seriously.

Executive chef Geoffrey Crabbe’s understanding of fresh clean flavours could serve as a regional manual on how to please the palate with cuisine perfectly suited to a sultry, tropical climate. Vomo even boasts its own little offshore island, Vomo Lailai, for private Champagne picnics. Think sweet buds that smell of warm maple syrup and crimson-chested birds chattering in the bush. In this lush promiscuity, you can noodle around forever with the snorkel, marvelling at the Dr. Seuss-like colours and critters below.

Only when it’s time to unpack the gourmet hamper do you realize that your Canadian backside is burnt pink as our famous back bacon.

The basics

Vomo Island Resort in Lautoka, Fiji Islands; 679-666-7955; vomofiji.com; 150 minutes for $182.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Oakville’s Josh Cassidy Sets World Record In Boston Marathon Wheelchair Race

Source: www.thestar.com - Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

(Apr 16, 2012) BOSTON—Josh Cassidy knew he’d win his first Boston Marathon once he reached the top of the
course’s Heartbreak Hill with the lead in the men’s wheelchair race. He was less certain about a world-record time, though it was in reach.

“I just started hammering the rest of the way,” Cassidy said.

It paid off when Cassidy, of Toronto, crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 18 minutes and 25 seconds, which beats the world record by two seconds.

Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa set the previous record in Boston in 2004.

Cassidy, 27, led from the third mile and finished comfortably ahead of last year’s runner-up Kurt Fearnley of Australia, who finished second in 1 hour, 21 minutes and 39 seconds.

Cassidy said when he reached the bottom of Heartbreak Hill at around the 18-mile mark, he turned to Van Dyk and said, “Let’s work this.”

“(Van Dyk) is the best climber in the world by far,” Cassidy said. “I knew if I could just get to the top first, I’d have it for sure.”

Cassidy then switched his cyclometer from speed to time and went for the record, knowing only that it was somewhere in the 1 hour, 18 minutes range.

Cassidy notched the record despite temperatures around 80 at the time of the finish, and while wearing the long sleeved compression shirt he trained in.

“I wanted to stick with what was familiar and not worry about the heat,” he said.

Cassidy won the London Marathon in 2010 and said Monday he’ll compete in that race next week.

The women’s wheelchair race was far tighter that the blowout men’s race.

American Shirley Reilly edged Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida during a sprint to the finish line.

Reilly finished in 1 hour 37 minutes and 36 seconds on Monday, one second ahead of defending champion Tsuchida.

Last year, Tsuchida beat Reilly by nearly seven minutes.

Reilly and Tsuchida battled throughout, with Tsuchida briefly breaking away around the 18-mile mark before Reilly closed the gap.

Diane Roy of Canada finished third, five minutes behind Tsuchida.

Kenya’s Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop win Boston Marathon

Source: www.thestar.com - Brian Snyder/Reuters

(Apr 16, 2012) BOSTON—Wesley Korir, a Kenyan citizen and permanent resident of the United States, won the
Boston Marathon on Monday in a heat-slowed time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds that was almost 10 minutes behind the world best established here a year ago by Geoffrey Mutai.

It was the second-slowest Boston race since 1985, as rising temperatures slowed the leaders and may have convinced as many as 4,300 entrants to sit this one out. Mutai, who was hoping a repeat victory would earn him a spot on the Kenyan Olympic team, dropped out after 18 miles with cramps.

Instead, Korir may have won a ticket to the London Games.

“To me, I think running the Boston Marathon is an Olympic event,” the two-time Los Angeles Marathon champion said. “I don’t care what comes up after this, but I’m really, really happy to win Boston.”

Sharon Cherop won the women’s race to complete the Kenyan sweep, outkicking Jemima Jelagat Sumgong to win by 2 seconds in 2:31:50. The women’s race was decided by a sprint down Boylston Street for the fifth consecutive year.

Korir was the 19th Kenyan men’s winner in 22 years. But he is hardly typical of the African runners who have come to dominate the event since Greg Meyer became the last American winner in 1983.

Korir attended college at Murray State — the Racers, naturally — before transferring to Louisville and graduating from the school with a biology degree. He is hoping to receive American citizenship within a few years.

The winners will receive $150,000 apiece. Korir and his wife, Canadian runner Tarah McKay, run a foundation in his hometown of Kitale and have been building a hospital in the memory of his brother Nicholas, who was killed by a black mamba snake at the age of 10.

A total of 22,426 runners started the race in Hopkinton in temperatures expected to be as high as 84 by the time the last of them finish their 26.2-mile trek to Boston’s Back Bay. That’s about 84 percent of the registered field of almost 27,000, with many of the no-shows expected to take race organizers up on their offer for a deferment into next year’s race.

The heat didn’t seem to be a problem for Canadian Josh Cassidy, who won the men’s wheelchair race in a time of 1 hour, 18 minutes, 25 seconds that is the fastest in history. American Shirley Reilly edged Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida during a sprint to the finish in the women’s wheelchair division.

But the runners were content to pace themselves.

One year after cool temperatures and a significant tailwind — perfect running weather — helped Mutai finish in 2:03:02 for the fastest marathon ever, the heat had elite runners preparing for a slower pace and the recreational runners trying to figure out how to finish at all.

The wheelchair racers left Hopkinton at 9:17 under sunny skies and a temperature of 69 degrees, followed by the women’s field at 9:32. It was 73 when the elite men and the rest of the field went off at 10 a.m.

The total field included 26,716 entrants, but 3,683 never picked up their bib numbers over the weekend. Another 607 who picked up their starting bibs did not show up at the start; they will be offered a chance to run in 2013 instead.

With forecasts of dangerous heat, the Boston Athletic Association warned runners to be alert for signs of heat stroke and dehydration and asked those who were inexperienced or ill to skip this race. The B.A.A. offered a limited deferment in 2010, when the Icelandic volcano eruption stalled air traffic in Europe and prevented about 300 runners from getting to Boston.

Five-gallon jugs of water — twice as many as usual, organizers said — were already lining the route early in the morning as volunteers and medical staff stood by preparing for the influx of hot and tired runners.

The Boston Marathon has had its share of hot weather, with the thermometer hitting 97 degrees during the 1909 race that came to be known as “The Inferno” and the 1976 “Run for the Hoses” that started in 100-degree heat and finished with spectators sprinkling winner Jack Fultz with garden hoses to cool him down.

Hopkinton residents Ted and Nanda Barker-Hook have been handing out sports drinks, coffee, water, bananas, and sunscreen on the road leading to the starting gate for the past five years.

This year, no one was touching the coffee.

Those who did show up said they are prepared.

“You’ve got to know your own body,” Mike Buenting, of Minneapolis, who has run 10 marathons, said as he waited for the starting gun. “You have to know how to hydrate and the rest will take care of itself.”

Brent Sutter Takes Coaching Reins For Team Canada

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press

(Apr. 16, 2012) CALGARY—After mutually parting ways with the Calgary Flames last week, it didn’t take Brent
Sutter long to find another coaching job.

Sutter was introduced Monday at Hockey Canada’s headquarters as the head coach of Canada’s entry at next month’s IIHF World Hockey Championship in Helsinki.

“Everybody knows the Sutters well,” said Team Canada general manager Kevin Lowe. “They’re honest people. They’re obviously passionate about the game of hockey. I really like the fact that Brent has some history with some of the players we’ve chosen, so we thought there’s some chemistry.

“Some of the players have already phoned him and are excited about the fact that he’s coming.”

Sutter coached Canada to back-to-back gold medals at the 2005 and 2006 world junior championships and then led Canada to a 7-0-1 record in the 2006 Canada-Russia Super Series, which featured the top junior-aged players from both countries.

“It’s a complete honour and I’m really looking forward to working with Kevin and the staff and the coaches and the players and being involved with Hockey Canada again,” said Sutter, who will be assisted by Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Kirk Muller of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Canada has had a pair of disappointing showings at the past two world championships and has fallen to fourth in the world rankings. The rankings after the May 4-20 world championship will determine how countries are seeded at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“It’s very important for the seeding in the Olympics,” Sutter said. “We’re going there to win. That’s got to be our mindset. We’ll put everything we can into it and hopefully make it happen.”

Led by Olympic gold medallists Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, 16 of the 17 players who have already been chosen to play for the squad have previously represented Canada internationally.

“We’ve got to form ourselves into being a very good team right off the bat,” Sutter said. “That’s never really a tough situation to deal with Canadian players. Most of them, if not all of them, have been through it before. It’s not something new for them. I expect them all to come in and jump right on board and we’ll get busy right off the hop.”

Lowe said that Sutter will have a tough task ahead of him to follow up what he accomplished at the junior level.

“I did say to him that there’s a little bit of pressure because he’s undefeated coaching Canada, so we expect the same kind of results in Helsinki,” said Lowe. “One of the things that we’ll talk about with this group of players in Helsinki is that we’ve got to come together as a team.”

Monday’s news conference in Calgary was also the first time that Sutter addressed the media about his decision to part ways with the Flames last Thursday. During his three years coaching in Calgary, the Flames failed to qualify for the playoffs.

“Over three years, it does wear on you,” said Sutter. “It does beat you up a lot. It just came down to that I personally felt this was the right thing for (GM) Jay (Feaster) and the organization.”

Sutter noted that he told Feaster that he wouldn’t accept a new contract even if he was offered an extension.

When asked if would consider coaching for another team next season, Sutter replied: “I’m hoping that I’m not coaching in the National Hockey League next year because that means that there’s 29 other coaches that still have jobs and that’s what I want.”

A veteran of 1,111 games during his NHL career with the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks, Sutter said that coaching isn’t something that he has to do.

“I lived my dream playing the game,” said Sutter, who won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Islanders in 1982 and 1983. “It’s not something I have to do, but you do it because you thoroughly enjoy it. It’s that competition. It’s that challenge. It’s putting yourself in a situation to help an organization succeed and win and get to where you want to get to and allow players to win and you want to be there to help.”

If an NHL coaching position does open up, Sutter said he’d definitely consider a return.

“If there’s teams that were certainly interested in Brent Sutter then I would certainly sit down and talk,” he said. “Obviously it’s got to be a good fit for the team and it’s got to be a good fit for me.”

TFC Coach Aron Winter Still Has Faith In Winless Squad

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(Apr 14, 2012) As woeful as Toronto FC’s short history has been, this is a new low.


Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Chivas USA was the fifth straight defeat for the Reds, a new mark for futility from a team which has never had a winning season or played a playoff game.

Despite dominating the second half and creating numerous chances to net the equalizer, TFC (0-5-0) was shut out for the third straight time at home to open the Major League Soccer season and remains the only one of 19 teams without a point in 2012.

“This is probably the most unlucky I’ve been in my career,” said Ryan Johnson, who had two balls cleared off the line by defenders and just missed the far post with a header.

CLICK HERE FOR TORONTO FC-CHIVAS PHOTO GALLERY

Johnson’s best chance came in the 80th minute when he got on a long ball from David Avila in behind the Chivas defence and thumped a shot through goalkeeper Dan Kennedy only to watch defender Heath Pearce clear it just before it went into the net.

“This is mind-boggling sometimes and I can’t believe what just happened today,” he said. “It’s tough.”

After showing some early promise with a starting lineup that featured four new faces from the side which lost to the expansion Montreal Impact last week, Toronto conceded a goal in an all-too-typical fashion — poor marking on a set piece by Chivas (3-3-0).

Oswaldo Minda shook off the mark of Johnson and got his head on a Miller Bolanos corner kick at the near post, putting it past goalkeeper Milos Kocic in the 31st minute.

Kocic was called on to make a couple of good saves before halftime to keep it a one-goal deficit but barely had the ball come near him over the final 45 minutes.

The second half was all Toronto but the Reds, who have scored just two goals this season and have yet to hold a lead in any of their games, ran into stellar goalkeeping from Kennedy and a lack of finish.

“It’s so frustrating,” said Danny Koevermans, who had two glorious chances to equalize, including one in the 89th minute when Joao Plata found him in front but Kennedy got a hand on it. “If we played bad and didn’t create any chances then it would concern me.

“But we have to just keep our heads up and have to stay positive and say it’s got to turn around.”

Toronto hosts the Chicago Fire next Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.

Despite the fifth straight loss, one more than the Reds had twice in their inaugural season of 2007 and once last year, head coach Aron Winter tried to remain upbeat, saying the luck will change and insisting “I’m not concerned” the slump will get him fired.

“If you don’t create chances and you don’t play well then you’re far away from it,” he said. “(But) I think we own bad luck. It’s simple.”

Asked about boos after the final whistle from those among the 18,476 fans who stayed, Winter said: “It’s normal if you’ve played five games and you’ve got zero points.”

Still, Winter, who sat high-priced Julian de Guzman among lineup changes that also included the return of defender Adrian Cann after being out since May with a knee injury, said, “I think they’re still faithful because I think they’ve also seen good things and I think the moment should come that we get the points.”

Winter had captain Torsten Frings on the substitutes bench to give his team a “psychological” boost but said he didn’t consider playing the former German international because the hamstring he strained four weeks ago is not quite ready.

Sky’s The Limit For High-Flying Trampolinist Karen Cockburn

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(April 18, 2012) Trampolinist Karen Cockburn, a medallist in each of the past three Summer Olympics, is looking to reach new heights in London. Literally.

Rule changes introduced at the start of 2011 now take into account the height a competitor soars off the mat, measuring it with an LED system under the trampoline.

“Flight time is now added to our total score,” said Cockburn, one of three of this country’s trampoline gymnasts who attended a Canadian Olympic Committee event in Toronto on Wednesday marking 100 days until the start of the Games in London.

“It changes the game completely.”

It also appears to be a rule change suited to the 31-year-old Toronto native and many of her Canadian teammates, including Olympic medallists Rosie MacLennan and Jason Burnett, who were on hand at the news conference.

The trio are among the star pupils of coach David Ross, who trains them at Skyriders Trampoline Place in Richmond Hill. His focus is on increasing the technical difficulty of an athlete’s routine, which requires more height, something beneficial with the changes.

Scores in the trampoline competition, which was introduced to the Olympics in 2000, will be based on the routine’s degree of difficulty and the judges’ scoring, as has always been the case, but also now include a height mark established by electronic equipment.

“It’s better because it makes the sport less subjective,” said Cockburn, who is the only trampolinist to win a medal across all three Olympics in which the sport has been contested.

“Now, there’s another factor that’s just a solid number.”

Cockburn won a bronze medal at the Games in Sydney in 2000, silver in Athens four years later and a second silver in Beijing in 2008.

In addition to growing up under the tutelage of Ross and his height-inspired tactics, Cockburn said the increased funding trampoline has received over the years has helped the Canadians get more specialized in their training to get more air off the mat. That includes working with trainers and nutritionists to fine tune their bodies and keep them at the right power-to-weight ratio, which is needed to maximize height and excel in the sport.

Cockburn, who was the Canadian flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies in Beijing, said the Chinese are also known as very good jumpers — “They’re strong in all aspects of the sport” — so they are likely to be even more competitive under the new rules.

“Every day when we’re training and we feel tired, we push ourselves and say, ‘What would China be doing?’ and then we get out and do our routine,” she says with a laugh.

The new emphasis on height could be just the advantage Cockburn needs to reach her goal of climbing back atop the podium in London. While her goal is to snare the gold that has so far eluded her, she also knows a medal of any kind would make her the first Canadian to win one in four consecutive Summer Olympics.

“It’s cool to think you might be a part of history,” Cockburn admits. “But you try not to think about that. You just try to focus on the routine.”

Rubenstein: Former 'It Girl' Turns Full Attention To Golf

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Lorne Rubenstein

(April 18, 2012) Golf Channel personality Gary Williams referred to Michelle Wie this week as the former “it girl”
on the LPGA Tour. And she was, even if she probably never should have been.

Now, Wie is only 22, and says she has a lot to prove.

She’s playing this week’s inaugural LPGA Lotte Championship in Oahu, Hawaii, which starts Wednesday and finishes Saturday. Wie is now a full-time LPGA player. Hard to believe, but she never has been so before.

That’s because she chose to attend Stanford University even as she played LPGA events and other tournaments around the world. But she could never devote all her attention to golf. She took her final exam last month, however, and will graduate on June 17 with a major in communications.

While studying at Stanford, Wie won twice, including the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Open in Winnipeg. She tied for second at the Canadian Open last year, finished 28th on the LPGA’s money list with $627,936 (U.S.), and is currently ranked 24th in the world.

None of this can hide the fact Wie hasn’t come close to playing the golf everybody thought she would after she became the youngest player to make the cut in an LPGA event at 13 (at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a major). She won the U.S. Women’s Public Links Championship that year, a significant accomplishment for anybody, let alone a 13-year-old.

Wie wasn’t shy about expressing her belief in herself and her goals. She wanted to play in PGA Tour events, and sponsors were only too happy to provide her exemptions. Every time she played, it was as if she were in a parade down Main Street, where people could gawk at her. She wanted to play the Masters one day, and still expresses that hope. But, no longer an “it girl,” she expresses other goals.

“I feel like it’s been pretty mediocre so far,” Wie said recently of what she’s done in golf since turning professional in October of 2005, a week before her 16th birthday. “I want to be the best player that I can be and the best in general, and, obviously, it’s going to be … a fun ride from here on out.”

Wie has played in four tournaments this year, and has won only $12,536 while missing two cuts. Her stroke average is 75.42 – a golfer with that number is going to miss most cuts.

Post-graduation, though, Wie is entering a new phase of her career. In interviews, she appears both thoughtful and more subdued, while at the same time expressing enthusiasm for the game. That’s how she came across when she appeared last month on Golf Channel’s Feherty.

Meanwhile, her long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, had this to say to Golf Digest recently: “I can’t be 100-per-cent positive, but I believe the burning drive is in there somewhere. She just has to pluck it out.”

Wie will be trying to pluck it out on an LPGA Tour replete with other “it girls” and, of course, Yani Tseng, the No. 1-ranked player who, at 23, has already won five majors (and three tournaments this year). In Hawaii, Wie will play the first two rounds with teenagers Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda, the new “it girls” given each has already won on the LPGA Tour.

Wie will play twice in Canada this year: the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, June 21 to 24 in Waterloo, Ont., and the CN Canadian Women’s Open, Aug. 23 to 26 in Coquitlam, B.C.

Maybe she’ll have won by the time she returns to Canada. Or maybe she’ll still be missing cuts. But one thing is certain: She’ll finally be a full-time LPGA player.

That has to help her chances of being the player she was supposed to be, and still could be.