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LE NEWSLETTER

June 21, 2012

Soccermania hits the streets of Toronto! It's one of the crazy yet cool privileges of living in this multicultural diaspora wecall Toronto. Don't hate it - embrace it! And it feels like the humidity of July already .... what crazy temperatures this year!

I'm still reeling from the passing of my friend Doran Major ... the memorial was sad and joyful within the same hour and one half. The eulogists were respectful and spoke with great affection of Doran. I was so moved by the service that I've written a little recap of the memorial in further tribute to our Warrior,
Doran Major. Check it out under RECAP.

In this weeks news: MuchMusic Video Awards; Toronto as music travel destination; an update on Russell Peters; and Rodney G. King passes and much more. Check it all out under TOP STORIES.

Click on your favourite subject under the TABLE OF CONTENTS and see the latest in news under your favourite subject.

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!

::RECAP::

Doran Major: Remembered and Celebrated

Source: Dawn Langfield, Langfield Entertainment

Doran Major treasured his family and friends and knew how to make each person in a room feel exactly the same way – welcome and special. A true gift, as was evidenced by the near-capacity church of mourners on Saturday, June 16th at the African Methodist Episcopal Church at Gerrard and Woodbine in Toronto. A meaningful pamphlet containing photos of family and friends was handed to each of us as we entered the church. (pictured right)

The memorial was not, however, completely devoid of lighter moments.

Senior Pastor Brian Warren (formerly a linebacker for the Edmonton Eskimos and currently the “Black guy on 100 Huntley Street”) spoke about how he met Doran. He heard a loud young guy trying to get his team charged on the field, yelling, “C’mon baby!!” The congregation laughed as this is a phrase that all of us had heard from Doran at one time or another.

Michael “Pinball” Clemons was one of Doran’s closest and most cherished friends and mentors, although
Michael recalled it another way. Whenever he had any important decisions to make in his life, Doran was whose counsel he sought. What the two eulogists shared in common was meeting Doran during his football days with the Toronto Argonauts. Doran was notorious for always riling up his teammates on the field with enthusiastic slaps on the butt.

In March 2012, Pastor Warren asked Doran how his soul was. What followed was an emotional and spiritual prayer of commitment while Michael Clemons clutched Doran’s other hand. Michael’s wife, Diane, lovingly sang in tribute and celebration during the service, as well as a friend of the family, Paula Willis. Goosebumps and tears at the same time were expected. These were only a few of the many tender and touching moments during Doran’s memorial.

Lawrence Love, a childhood friend, echoed the sentiments of Pastor Warren speaking on Doran as a youth in Bixoli, Mississippi. Choking back emotion, he described Doran as a loud, gregarious and talented athlete even at the age of 5.

Michael “Pinball” Clemons further declared how much Doran cherished his wife Davinder and how his two daughters, India and Sydney were his ‘sweeeeeet spot’.

Doran was born in 1961 to
William Victor Major affectionately known as 'The Bull' and Josephine Major affectionately known as 'Spenny' in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Only a week prior, Doran’s father had passed away and, unable to travel because of his health, sent his daughter India in his place to represent his family. She returned from that trip the night after Doran had passed. Sydney was at home and grieved for her father the morning he passed while India was still away. In true Major fashion, she still went to school and proceeded to place 1st in a track and field meet.

India Major spoke and thanked the congregation for attending and while wiping tears, said how much she will miss and loves her daddy. Not a dry eye in the place …

Doran the Warrior took a challenge head on. From former coaches, players, business associates, friends and
patrons of his many businesses, Doran left his personal spirit of enthusiasm and hospitality on all he touched.

He will be missed and forever celebrated as a Warrior – a theme that was ever present on this day.

RIP my friend.

Note: Please consider making a donation in Doran Major's name to
Max and Beatrice Wolfe Centre for Children's Grief and Palliative Care HERE or Dr. Jay Children's Grief Program HERE.

::TOP NEWS::

Justin Bieber Steals The Show At The MMVAS

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Nick Patch, The Canadian Press

(June 18, 2012) With his long-awaited third album “Believe” days from dropping, Justin Bieber preached to the converted on Sunday night at a raucous MuchMusic Video Awards ceremony where a worshipping crowd shrieked at the very mention of the pop star’s name.

While it was his protégé Carly Rae Jepsen whose three awards represented the night’s biggest haul, Bieber had the adoring crowd eating from his palm from his red-carpet entrance — when he approached with his adorable baby brother in his arms, bringing the throngs to a fever pitch of screamed swooning — to his show-closing performance.

And the fans were ready for him, ready with cardboard cut-outs of his head held aloft, with marriage proposals scrawled on gigantic signs and with purple and red Bieber bands firmly affixed to their foreheads.

Earlier in the day, some industrious Bieber followers were even spotted trying to squeeze underneath fencing set up around the perimeter of the stage in the hopes of possibly catching a glimpse of the singer.

When the 18-year-old claimed his first award of the evening, the piercing squeals of the crowd reverberated for blocks.

“Thank you so much,” said Bieber, clad in a black T-shirt with a gold chain dangling from his neck. “I want to say thank you so much to my home. I want to say thank you to all my family, my fans, I wouldn’t be here without you guys.

“You guys are amazing, I love you.”

Well, the feeling was obviously mutual.

And even Bieber-associated acts were feeling the love, as Jepsen — whose stock soared after a co-sign from the Stratford, Ont., native — continued her recent stellar run by taking three trophies (including the award for video of the year for her irresistible earworm “Call Me Maybe”) while also storming the stage for multiple performances.

“Oh, it’s very heavy!” said the Mission B.C., native as she raised her first award, before reeling off a series of thank-yous that included Bieber — a mention that merited the obligatory shriek from the crowd on hand.

“Thank you so, so, so much.”

Marianas Trench and Katy Perry were both double winners while Drake, the Sheepdogs and City and Colour also reeled in trophies — but of course, the MMVAs are never really about the hardware, are they?

This show was once a booze-fuelled, recklessly raucous bash where the lack of structure gave the sense anything could happen at any time — and whether it was a triumph or disaster, it was interesting live TV. But the MMVAs cleaned up their act in recent years, opting for a more tame experience headlined by PG-rated hosts including Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

Well, it was clear from outrageous party-pop duo LMFAO’s proudly profane opening medley that this year was going to be different.

With inflatable zebras and a dancer clad in a pink plush bear costume at their side, the evening’s co-hosts blitzed through a medley of their hits beginning with “Party Rock Anthem” and ending with “Sexy and I Know It” — a claim that the pair’s Redfoo seemingly tried to prove by stripping to a shiny thong by song’s end.

Later — while claiming the award for international video of the year by a group — the group’s other half, SkyBlu, dangled the microphone from his crotch for a few starkly suggestive moments.

Elsewhere, burly pop-rapper Flo Rida performed his upbeat hit “Good Feeling” shirtless while surrounded by scantily clad dancers, and Victoria songstress Nelly Furtado swivelled her hips through her latest dancefloor-baiting hit “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better).”

Not all of the show’s splashy stagecraft was dedicated to risque displays, however.

Pop bombshell Perry put in the most obviously ambitious performance. She began singing “Wide Awake” while perched atop a stage adorned with fake trees whose branches contained acrobatically manoeuvring dancers. Soon, she shed her gown of rags to reveal a glittering nude bodysuit — at which point she sprouted gigantic, colourful butterfly wings.

An eye-catching ensemble to be sure, though it seemed less appropriate when she took the stage later to accept the fan choice award for favourite international artist.

“Truthfully I had no idea I was going to win or I would have put on more clothes,” she said.

The ever-so-wholesome Jepsen began her unavoidable smash “Call Me Maybe” suspended in a swing shaped like a turquoise telephone while others opted for simpler performances, unusual for the typically ostentatious MMVAs.

“American Idol” victor Kelly Clarkson, with newly blond locks matching her golden voice, needed only some modest pyro to spotlight her hit “Stronger” while British breakout Ed Sheeran put in a contemplative take on his tune, “The A Team.”

Bieber likewise didn’t need any stage stunts to drive home the point during his show-closing performance of his new tune “All Around the World.” Clad all in red with sparkling lights affixed to his shoulders, Bieber strutted across the stage with a dozen white-dressed dancers around him before transitioning into his grown-up, chart-topping single “Boyfriend.”

The song’s non-threatening come-ons were catnip to the fans assembled, camera phones in the air — some of whom were shown weeping in anticipation just before he took the stage — and Bieber was sure to be just as charming each and every time he addressed his faithful followers.

“With this album, I was really inspired by my fans,” he said. “Canada, I will always support you and always love you.”

Can Toronto Become Music City?

Source: www.thestar.com - By Paul Irish

(June 18, 2012) Music is beautiful, it soothes the savage breast — and it can also make a lot of money.

Music Canada president Graham Henderson knows this but can’t understand why Toronto — one of the largest live-act centres in the world — doesn’t take advantage of it.

Toronto is one of the top two or three music cities in North America,” says Henderson. “The music community generates thousands of jobs and enormous economic spinoffs including tourism, and yet is not recognized as an important commercial sector that warrants a strategy or promotion. Imagine what we could do with a plan . . . the type of recognition and promotion that has been extended to Toronto’s successful film and television sector.”

In short, he wants Toronto to be a music travel destination boasting the motto: Music City.

He’s optimistic about a recent report (commissioned by Music Canada, which represents the major multinational music companies in Canada) recently presented to the city’s economic and development committee.

The committee is expected to respond to the report’s recommendations in the fall.

It recommends:

• Creating a music industry board to provide industry input through the city’s economic development committee.

• Create a music industry office to provide coordination across the various city departments that deal with issues relating to live music event and venues.

• Create a provincial Ontario music office.

• Expand the provincial music production tax credit to mirror the successful film and television tax credits.

• Proactively pursue music tourism programs including a multi-day international music festival.

The study, out of Austin, Texas and produced by the Titan Music Group, says the economic potential for live music in the city is huge and that it should be used to increase tourism and a variety of other economic spinoffs.

The report shows how Austin’s music industry in the 1990s was similar to Toronto’s today — good, but not living up to potential — but with some serious tweaks it took off.

Henderson says in Austin music is now considered commerce, while in Toronto it’s still considered culture.

In Austin, music is marketed all year, with the city being billed as a music tourism destination while in Toronto it’s a catch-all for everything with no distinct brand.

In Austin the music industry is integrated with local government through the Austin Music Commission and Austin Music Division while in Toronto, live venue operators and festivals have difficulty navigating even city hall — the simplest level of government.

As well, the report says commercial music has not been identified as an important economic sector in Toronto and that Ontario lacks a large multi-day premier music festival that attracts international artists and music tourists (NXNE and Canadian Music Week appear to be largely perceived as music industry conferences). Most of all the report points out that live music is not taken seriously while film and television are treated as important economic drivers with a voice at city hall through a film commission, are given stable tax credits and are afforded “one-stop” shopping with the Toronto Film and Television office.

A Busy Russell Peters Divorcing, Renovating, Touring World

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(June 15, 2012) TORONTO —Canadian comedy giant Russell Peters is renovating many facets of his life these days.

The Brampton, Ont.-raised standup star says he’s remodelling parts of his five-bedroom, elevator-equipped Los Angeles mansion that’s been featured on MTV’s Cribs.

He’s going through what he describes as an amicable divorce with Monica Diaz, whom he wed in August 2010 and has an 18-month-old daughter.

And he’s on a world tour that features “no old material,” notes the outspoken arena-packing quipster, who’s known for skewering racial stereotypes, including those of his Anglo-Indian heritage.

“The subject matter will be from the same pool but the jokes will be different,” Peters, 41, said this week in Toronto, where his “Notorious World Tour” runs at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday as part of a tour of Canada.

“I don’t know about reinventing myself but I feel pressure to write, to have new stuff, funny stuff that’s comparable to the old stuff. You have to make sure you’re not just doing inside jokes for the old fans, you want to make the new fans feel welcome too.

“You want them to feel like, ‘Oh, good, we can get on this party bus too.“

Peters has spent seven months honing his new act, which producers say has already set attendance records for comedy shows in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. He’s not ready to film the show for a DVD release just yet but he said he’s really proud of it.

The set covers everything from the places Peters has visited, to parenthood and his divorce. He tested the material in comedy clubs around the U.S. for several months before bringing it on the road.

Peters said the tour title is inspired in part by his reputation (“I’m notorious for doing things,” he said) as well as the recent 15th anniversary of the death of rapper The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls.

“Biggie’s my favourite rapper of all time, and I was looking at one of my old 12-inches of Big Poppa or One More Chance or one of them and I was like, ‘That would be dope,“’ said Peters, whose shows begin with hip-hop turntable sessions (usually from Toronto’s DJ Starting from Scratch, and New York City’s DJ Spinbad).

“We were going to call it ‘Russ 2012’ and use the Rush 2112 album cover, but then Rush is on tour. And they were flattered by it but they were like, ‘We’re going to be on tour, we don’t want people to think that’s our tour and then get confused.“

“The Notorious R.U.S.S.” was another tour title he considered.

“But then that’s one letter too many than ‘B.I.G.’ so I just went with ‘Notorious,“’ said Peters, looking particularly preppy in a navy knit sweater, baby-blue pin-stripe pants, pastel socks and steel-blue shoes.

“And if you look at the artwork for the tour ... it’s the same as the Big Poppa 12-inch, only where Biggie’s face is it’s mine and it says ‘Notorious’ and all that info on the side.”

Peters has spent much of his career on global tours, which he said have brought him more money than his film and TV roles have thus far (Forbes magazine named him as one of the Top 10 highest-earning comics in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010).

Though Peters enjoys being on the road, these days it’s harder because doesn’t get to see his daughter, Crystianna, who was born in December 2010.

“I really do miss her when I don’t see my daughter, but when I’m working and I’m on tour I understand why I’m not there,” said Peters, whose film credits include Source Code and Breakaway.

“There are days where I can’t go to her mother’s house to go see her because I have meetings or something and I get caught up and it gets too late and then I’m like, ‘I really wanted to see her today.’ But her mom’s cool. She sends me pictures all the time.”

The “Notorious World Tour” hits Calgary on Tuesday followed by Edmonton on Thursday; Vancouver on June 23; and Winnipeg on June 27th. The tour, which hits other Canadian cities in September and October, runs through 2013.

Peters said he plans to have some guests stay at his home during his absence.

“In fact, Jazzy Jeff called me yesterday and he was like, ‘Hey man, all the hotels are full in L.A., can I stay at your place next week?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not in town but sure.’ So Jazzy Jeff and Mad Skillz will be staying at my house next week in L.A.”

Rodney King, Whose Beating Led to Riots in Los Angeles, Dies at 47

By
Jennifer Medina

(June 17, 2012) LOS ANGELES —
Rodney G. King, whose 1991 videotaped beating by the Los Angeles police became a symbol of the nation’s continuing racial tensions and subsequently led to a week of deadly race riots after the officers were acquitted, was found dead Sunday in a swimming pool at the home he shared with his fiancée in Rialto, Calif. He was 47.

There was no evidence of foul play, the Rialto police said.

Mr. King, whose life was a roller coaster of drug and alcohol abuse, multiple arrests and unwanted celebrity, pleaded for calm during the 1992 riots. More than 55 people were killed and 600 buildings destroyed in the violence.

In a phrase that became part of American culture, he asked at a news conference, “Can we all get along?”

“People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks,” he told The Los Angeles Times in April. “I should have seen life like that and stay out of trouble, and don’t do this and don’t do that. But it’s hard to live up to some people’s expectations.”

Mr. King published a memoir in April detailing his struggles, saying in several interviews that he had not been able to find steady work.

He said he had once blamed politicians and lawyers “for taking a battered and confused addict and trying to make him into a symbol for civil rights.” But he was unable to escape that role. On Sunday, the Rev. Al Sharpton, said in a statement, “History will record that it was Rodney King’s beating and his actions that made America deal with the excessive misconduct of law enforcement.”

And more recently, Mr. King seemed to embrace the role himself, saying that his beating enabled others to succeed and “made the world a better place.”

“Obama, he wouldn’t have been in office without what happened to me and a lot of black people before me,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “He would never have been in that situation, no doubt in my mind. He would get there eventually, but it would have been a lot longer. So I am glad for what I went through. It opened the doors for a lot of people.”

Though Mr. King wrote in his memoir that he still drank and used drugs occasionally, he insisted that, with his fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, who had been a juror in a civil suit he brought against the City of Los Angeles, he was on the road to reclaiming his life.

“I realize I will always be the poster child for police brutality,” he said, “but I can try to use that as a positive force for healing and restraint.”

Mr. King said he was essentially broke, though he said he received an advance for his book, “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption,” published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the riots.

He still walked with a limp and several of his scars were visible. His best outlets for relaxation, he said, were fishing and swimming.

The police in Rialto, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, said they received a 911 call at 5:25 a.m. Sunday from Ms. Kelley, who reported finding him in the pool that Mr. King had built himself, inscribing the date of his beating and the start of the riots in two tiles. Emergency personnel tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:11 a.m.

Capt. Randy De Anda said that Mr. King had been at the pool throughout the early morning and had been talking to Ms. Kelley, who was in the house at the time. Neighbors reported hearing music, talking and crying before hearing a splash.

A pair of sandals was still sitting next to the pool, visible from a neighbor’s backyard. Mr. King had apparently started to build a new fence to keep neighbors from looking in, but never completed it. One neighbor said that Mr. King mowed her family’s lawn weekly and that she often saw him swimming late at night.

On the night when the police beating occurred, March 3, 1991, Mr. King had been out on parole on a 1989 robbery conviction.

He was driving about 100 miles per hour when he and two passengers were pulled over by the Los Angeles police. After he attempted to escape on foot — afraid, he would later say, that he would be in violation of his parole — he was caught by officers. The 6-foot-3 Mr. King was struck with batons and kicked dozens of times, and hit with Tasers.

“It felt like I was an inch from death,” he said in recent interviews.

Video of the beating, recorded by George Holliday, a resident of a nearby apartment building, was repeatedly broadcast on television, inflaming anger over what was seen as a pattern of aggression and abuse by the Los Angeles police toward blacks and Hispanics. After intense public outcry, four officers were brought to trial.

Many people thought the video alone would lead to the conviction of the officers. But on April 29, 1992, a jury in Simi Valley, Calif., which included no black jurors, acquitted three of the officers, and a mistrial was declared for the fourth.

It touched off riots in South Los Angeles, among the worst in the nation’s history, resulting in damage estimated at $1 billion.

The four white officers charged with beating Mr. King — Stacey Koon, Theodore Briseno, Timothy Wind and Laurence Powell — were indicted in the summer of 1992 on federal civil rights charges. Officers Koon and Powell were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, and Mr. King was awarded $3.8 million in damages.

The Los Angeles police chief, Daryl Gates, resigned under pressure amid criticism that officers were slow to respond to the riots. He died of cancer in 2010.

Mr. King spent much of the money he received on legal fees. He also bought cars and houses, including the modest house in which he lived, and invested in a rap music label called Straight Alta-Pazz, which failed.

But much of his life was consumed by tabloid drama. He spent the subsequent years in and out of jail and rehabilitation centers, mostly for drug and alcohol abuse. He was arrested multiple times for driving under the influence, and spent short periods in prison in the late 1990s for assaulting his former wife and his daughter. In recent years he had appeared on the television shows “Celebrity Rehab” and “Sober House” on VH1.

Rodney Glen King was born on April 2, 1965, in Sacramento, the youngest of five children. He grew up in Altadena, near Pasadena, raised by his mother, Odessa King, and an alcoholic father, Ronald King, who died at 42.

Mr. King was married twice. Survivors include his daughters, Lora and Candice King, and a third daughter whose name was not immediately available.

In an interview in April, Mr. King said he understood how posterity would view him.

“It’s taken years to get used to the situation I’m in in life and the weight it holds. One of the cops in the jail said: ‘You know what? People are going to know who you are when you’re dead and gone. A hundred years from now, people still going to be talking about you.’ It’s scary, but at the same time it’s a blessing.”

Ian Lovett contributed reporting from Rialto, Calif., and Whitney Boyd and Michael Schwirtz from New York.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Janelle Monáe Opens The Toronto Jazz Festival June 22

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(Jun 20, 2012) It’s only been a bit more than a year since the Star last talked to Janelle Monáe. But catching up still takes a bit of time.

Since February 2011 (when the now-26-year-old singer last spoke to us) she has sung with Stevie Wonder and wowed the audience at this year’s Grammy Awards — and, later, the president of the United States. No question, she’s feeling the love.

“I’ve been able to tour and meet so many people and connect with them,” says Monáe of what she thinks is the best part of all. “And to know I was popular with the president and first lady — the president is a fan and a friend — is great.”

As for the Grammys, she say “I’m humbled they asked me to perform at this early time in my career” — but it was a natural follow-up to her album The Archandroid getting nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album and the reputation for theatrical showmanship she has been building in the wake of the album’s released in 2010.

Now she carries that reputation into a prestige gig — she opens the
Toronto Jazz Festival June 22 with an 8 p.m. concert in Nathan Phillips Square. (The festival runs until July 1 at locations throughout the city.)

Though she’s clearly on a roll, Monáe says she isn’t taking anything for granted. “I’m going to continue working on my music over the course of the next few years. Everything is about timing.”

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Monáe blew out of Kansas seeking adventure. She studied drama at New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Society and attended Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia. In Atlanta, Ga., she met OutKast’s Big Boi and signed with Bad Boy Records in 2006.

Monáe says Dorothy didn’t inspire her to take up music, but the fictional character’s learning arc is very much like her own. “I have a lion and a scarecrow in my life,” she says, declining to name names.

There’s a general air of mystery to Monáe, whose music defies categorizing despite the Grammys’ efforts. When asked to describe her style, she says, “Electrifying with a hint of sexy.”

Then she adds, “Jazz is definitely in my DNA.”

Artistic director Josh Grossman has programmed young performers front and centre in this year’s festival whose theme is “Tomorrow’s Jazz Today.” When he signed Esperanza Spalding and Trombone Shorty and then Monáe, Grossman realized, “We had some of the hottest names.”

What is so special about Monáe, he says, is that “she doesn’t necessarily fit into the jazz category, but she is influenced by jazz and is influencing jazz and other performers.”

“She’s all over the place, funk, jazz and soul,” Grossman added, saying he sees genre-blending happening elsewhere in the jazz world.

“There seems to be a new openness to incorporating a number of styles. All of these different groups are crossing jazz barriers.”

The Archandroid made a splash with rap fans with its single “Tightrope,” but there are definite funk and art rock flavours — and Monáe’s range goes beyond that, too; she has a minor role in this spring’s massive pop hit “We Are Young” by Fun.

The festival reflects this in programming ranging from jazz stalwarts Peter Appleyard and George Benson to blues-infused Tedeschi Trucks Band and guitar whiz Spalding. No matter what the style, Grossman says, “Audiences want it to be good, groovy music.”

Whatever fans attending her concert might expect, Monáe promises a great night.

“I’m out to create an experience. I see the show in the future and it’s going to be fantastic.”

At This Summer’s Jazz Festivals, That ’70s Vibe Returns

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

(Jun 20, 2012) Jazz, like other forms of popular music, is prone to occasional fits of nostalgia. Three years ago, the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’s album Kind of Blue and the Dave Brubeck single Take Five – a pair of million-sellers in a genre that usually stalls at five figures – engendered much discussion of whether 1959 was jazz’s greatest year. Not surprisingly, Brubeck played most of the major Canadian jazz festivals that summer, as did a Kind of Blue tribute band led by drummer Jimmy Cobb, the only surviving veteran of the original album.

This summer, our
jazz festivals seem stuck on the seventies – a surprising choice, given the scorn and derision seventies jazz has endured over the last three decades. Ever since Wynton Marsalis and the neotraditionalist “young lions” emerged in the early eighties, the seventies have been seen by many fans and players as the decade in which jazz had gotten lost, thanks to such notorious “wrong turns” as fusion, jazz funk and smooth jazz.

Yet, those are precisely the styles being celebrated this season. Guitarist George Benson, who went from jazz obscurity to the pop Top 10 on the strength of such singles as This Masquerade and On Broadway, will be playing the Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto jazz festivals this month. Meanwhile, bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, whose Radio Music Society evokes such seventies jazz/ soul crossovers as Roy Ayers and Norman Connors, will hit the Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal festivals.

Fusion, which Marsalis famously declared isn’t jazz, is also back, and in a big way. Most critics credit the band Tony Williams Lifetime, which featured guitarist John McLaughlin, organist Larry Young and, for a time, bassist Jack Bruce, with having lit the fuse for jazz fusion; Spectrum Road, which plays Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, was assembled to pay tribute to that legacy. With an all-star lineup that includes Bruce, guitarist Vernon Reid, keyboardist John Medeski and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, it’s easily the summer’s most-anticipated jazz tour.

But it’s hardly the season’s only seventies fusion throwback. Bassist Dave Holland started that decade playing electric and acoustic bass with Miles Davis’s band. In Ottawa on June 24, he’ll be revisiting that sound with the North American premiere of Prism, featuring electric pianist Craig Taborn and guitarist Kevin Eubanks. Meanwhile, bassist Stanley Clarke, who made his name in the seventies fusion band Return to Forever, will do four shows at the Montreal jazz festival as part of the prestigious Invitation series, including a duet with pianist Hiromi, whose fusion-style trio is slated for the Toronto festival.

Even the pop acts booked for this summer’s jazz festivals have a distinct seventies vibe, from singer-songwriter James Taylor (in Montreal) to R&B stalwarts Tower of Power (in Toronto and Quebec City) to alt-rockers Destroyer, whose smooth jazz-inflected Kaputt has been likened to the sound of Al Stewart’s 1976 hit, Year of the Cat (in Toronto, Vancouver).

“I wonder if there’s a recognition of the musicianship that came with the era, and also the fact that the music was so groovy,” says Josh Grossman, artistic director at the Toronto Jazz Festival. He points out that there’s also a notable seventies influence in much of the popular music of the moment, particularly in such acts as Adele, Cold Specks, the Alabama Shakes and the Black Keys.

Just as a number of jazz musicians in the seventies made an effort to broaden the appeal of their music by embracing contemporary rhythms, today’s players are trying to move beyond the swing-based, standards-only ethos of Marsalis and his peers. As Grossman puts it, a number of younger jazzers recognize that it’s possible to play deep, complicated, improvised music and still reach a larger audience. “These are really heavy musicians playing really fantastic music,” he says. “It’s easy to connect to the music, but it’s not dumbing it down in any way.”

It’s also worth noting that, just as jazz musicians in the seventies sometimes turned up on pop hits – think of Phil Woods on Billie Joel’s Just the Way You Are, Wayne Shorter on Steely Dan’s Aja – a growing number of young jazz musicians are more than happy to cross genres. Bass saxophonist Colin Stetson, for one, works regularly with both Arcade Fire and Bon Iver in addition to doing his own improvisational music; Chris Dave, the drummer in the trio that Robert Glasper will be bringing to the Toronto Jazz Festival, played on Adele’s latest album.

That doesn’t mean that mainstream jazz is on the wane, of course. There is plenty of traditional, swing-based music booked into the summer’s jazz festivals, from Don Thompson’s George Shearing tribute in Toronto to Pat Martino’s Organ Trio in Montreal. Some musicians, such as Dave Holland in Ottawa or Stanley Clarke in Montreal, will even do both, offering performances of acoustic swing as well as electric fusion.

“There are people who want to be playing standards, and will always play standards,” says Grossman. “But there are also some younger musicians now who want to get beyond that, and want to reflect what they’re listening to on the radio. They want to take the music they’re listening to, plus these traditions, and combine them.”

Just like they did 40 years ago.

VIDEOS: Concert Sampler for June 21-27

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

1. Tightrope” feat.
Big Boi


Janelle Monáe
The genre-bending R’n’B/soul songstress earned waves of critics’ praise with her somewhat sci-fi-themed ArchAndroid album from 2010. Definitely an artist to watch as she continues to evolve. (Friday, Nathan Phillips Square)

2. “Kaputt


Destroyer
Dan Bejar’s Vancouver group is known for sprawling weirdness and lyrical dexterity. (Saturday, Opera House)

3. “The House that Heaven Built
Japandroids
The Vancouver duo really only has two songs, but each variation of it sounds loud, fun and awesome. Recently released album Celebration Rock just deservedly got on the Polaris Prize long list, and the band is easily one of this country’s best live bets. (Saturday, Horseshoe)

4. “Playa Azul
Los Amigos Invisibles
The Venezuelan group take a fun, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, mixing dance, acid jazz and funk on their eclectic albums. They sound sunny and perfect for a summer evening’s soundtrack. (Monday, Horseshoe)

5. “Living on the Edge
Aerosmith
The classic-rock band has had a rocky road in the past few years, but Steven Tyler and Joe Perry seem to have made up, and the group has a new album, Music from Another Dimension, their 15th, coming this August. Cheap Trick opens up. (Wednesday, Air Canada Centre)

6. “Wild and Free
Ziggy Marley
Another perfect sound of summer is reggae, and the Marley scion plays a club gig sure to have fans jamming all evening long. (Wednesday, Phoenix)

Composer Tod Machover Invites Torontonians To Create Music For The TSO

Source: www.thestar.com - By Trish Crawford

(June 15, 2012) Honking horns. Bicycle bells. The swoosh of the subway. The call of the ticket scalper — are
these sounds distinctly Toronto?

Tod Machover, the genius behind interactive musical video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, wants your help finding the musical essence of this city.

The composer and founder of MIT’s Media Lab, has been commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to create a brand-new symphony about Toronto. It will be performed in March 2013.

Machover, nominated for a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his “robotic” opera Death and the Powers, immediately thought the work should be a large collaboration between him, musicians in the orchestra and the public.

Thursday, he announced at Ideacity that everyone in the city can contribute to this new work titled, A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City through the website tso.ca/composerandcity.

“I want to share making this piece together,” he told the audience, asking them to spread the word.

The Star is here to help him out and is asking readers to send suggestions of what sounds sing “Toronto” to them to entertain@thestar.ca. Be sure to put “Symphony” in the subject line.

In a week or so, the Star will run a story about your suggestions and what Machover has to say.

Montreal Jazz Festival Hits The High Notes

Source: www.thestar.com - Heather Greenwood Davis

(June 14, 2012) MONTREAL—“I don’t know what she’s saying but it sounds good.”

“I know. I feel it, like, in my bones.”

Such goes the conversation between my sons as they take in the scat styling of the singer bathed in spotlights below them on the Rio Tinto Alcan stage at the
Festival International de Montreal Jazz Festival.

The two, aged 6 and 8 — to the amusement of the full patio of guests at the Hyatt hotel — are enjoying the tunes and not averse to sharing their opinions.

And on occasion, like now, the adults around them, nod in agreement.

The scene, if moved to one of the funky nightclubs Montreal is known for, or had it been between two pointy-bearded gentlemen in smoking jackets, might jive better with your expectation of what a jazz festival has on offer.

But that’s exactly what sets the annual Montreal Jazz Festival apart: It has managed to create an experience unique in its ability to cater to all sides of the music loving coin.

Stroll the streets of the 10-day festival and you’ll find not only packed streets and darkened theatres, but babes in strollers and an education in jazz, perfect for every age and fan level. The festival has successfully straddled the jagged line between stalwart aficionados, young hipsters who know the strands from hip hop tunes and the aged intellects who want to shake their head and snap their fingers, without missing a beat.

Now in its 33rd year, the festival, which runs from June 28 to July 7 and takes place for the first time in the completed Quartier des Spectacles, offers even more concerts, discussions and events for the more than 2 million fans expected.

But with more than 30 series, hundreds of free concerts, 10 stages and surprise guests, the festival can overwhelm the novice. Where to start depends on what you’re looking for.

Out with the Family

Start with an education.
At the Petite ecole du jazz (Little School of Jazz), two daily shows headed by kid-friendly Victo-Jacques Menard and Ste-Cat — the festival mascot — introduce little ones to the be bops and techniques of the genre. Don’t miss the 3 p.m. shows on June 30, July 1 and July 7, where families can shake it out at a percussion workshop with Musique en famille avec les ateliers Samajam. Head over to the outdoor jazz-themed kids’ play area, where they can jump on a larger-than-life piano, test their skills in a make-shift band and spend some time making arts and crafts. Then bring a blanket and lay back on the lawns to take in the parade down rue-Ste. Catherine, while the strains of an evening concert waft through the air.

Night Owls

The midnight Open House series featuring acts like Ghostbeard & Poirier, Jazz Amnesty Sound System and others will get the dance floors jumping at L’Astral. Don’t miss the twice-per-night Musique au Balmoral series presented by SiriusXM, where free 45-minute concerts without intermission take place in Bistro Le Balmoral.

Oh Canada!

Celebrate the best and brightest at the Brunantes CBC/Radio-Canada series (acts include the Samuel Blais Quartet) or the Rendez-vous series where Vincent Gagnon, “one of the most sought-after pianists on the Québec jazz scene,” is set to make an appearance.

Just the Blues

Head for the Loto-Québec stage and catch the next generation of blues rock prodigy, including Justin Saladino on June 28 and, on June 30 and July 1, Jamiah on Fire & the Red Machine (members’ average age is 14). After dark, take in the Les Soirées blues Loto-Québec series for even more celebrations.

The Celebrity Seekers

Prefer to stick to the names you know? Pick from James Taylor, Norah Jones, Liza Minnelli, Chris Botti and more. Or step back in time to a Battle of the Bands, when The Duke Ellington Orchestra and The Count Basie Orchestra square off.

For more information, go to Montrealjazzfest.com or call the Info-Jazz Line at 514-871-1881.

Heather Greenwood Davis is a freelance columnist and feature writer. Her visit to Montreal was subsidized by the Montreal Jazz Festival. Reach here at www.globetrottingmama.com

Five Jazz festivals to keep the beat going this year

These festivals offer a great getaway and a contemporary mix of tunes to keep you snapping.

Jamaican Jazz and Blues: It’s in January. It’s Jamaica. jamaicajazzandblues.com. (Watch for their 2013 dates and lineup later this year.)

TD International Jazz Festivals: Get away without going away at the annual Toronto celebration (torontojazz.com) (or take in the West Coast installment running simultaneously in Vancouver.) This year, June 22-July 1. coastaljazz.ca.

St Lucia: The island is small, making the festival feel like an intimate concert with all of your music-loving friends. stluciajazz.org.

Marciac: This French town overflows at the annual jazz festival, which boasts visits from some of the top acts in the world in mostly-free concerts. jazzinmarciac.com. July 27-Aug. 15.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: With all jazz roots leading here, a jazz lover’s tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Big Easy. nojazzfest.com, April 26-May 5, 2013.

VIDEO: Jeffrey Osborne Preps for First ‘Soul Train Cruise’ with Don Cornelius in Mind

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Chris Richburg

(June 18, 2012) *Jeffrey Osborne may not be a fan of cruises, but he is a fan of Don Cornelius. So much so that the former L.T.D. frontman had no trouble signing on for his first “Soul Train Cruise” in light of one strong reason.

“It is Don Cornelius. That really inspired me, just being a part of it because it’s the first one. It’s always nice to be a part of the first one,” Osborne shared with EURweb’s Lee Bailey, while touting another factor in being on the cruise: “On top of that, to work with George. I mean George Duke is probably one of my all-time favorite people in the world. He did produce my first three records. It just looks like something that I think everyone would like to be a part of. The list of artists on this is just ridiculous.”

In addition to Osborne and Duke, the 2013 “Soul Train Cruise” will include performances from Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Kool & the Gang, War, The Spinners, Jody Watley, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics, Cuba Gooding & The Main Ingredient, Gerald Alston of the Manhattans and The Intruders.

“For me, it’s gonna be fun to be able to mingle with all these people that I have worked with over the years and at the same time pay tribute to Don Cornelius, who, really, was the person that tied us all together and kept our careers going,” Osborne said. “Even when we weren’t hot, Don was still there for us. So for me, it’s just going to be a great event. I’m looking forward to it.”

Although he anticipates an enjoyable cruise, Cornelius’ death is still fresh in Osborne’s mind.


“I really didn’t want to believe it. It was one of those moments that you say ‘No. This can’t be,’ said Osborne, who was at home when he heard about the tragedy. “I think the way it happened shocked me even more. We just lost one of the greatest pioneers that ever came along. I think Don just opened up all of us in to millions of households where we would never have that opportunity.

“It hurt a lot to hear that he had passed,” continued the entertainer. “We lost a great person, a great pioneer, someone that was an incredible visionary. I’m just sorry to see it happen and sorry to see him go. So I am glad, very much so, to be a part of this first cruise because he meant a lot to my career and everyone else that is performing. I mean all of us. We got exposure that we wouldn’t get anywhere else through Don. So it means a lot. It was a sad moment. It was a sad moment in my life when he passed.”

With the Soul Train cruise on the horizon, Osborne is focused on enjoying himself, reuniting with old friends and rubbing elbows with fans. Still, the music maker has a humorous reason for not being keen on setting sail.

“I’m not a fan of cruises. I feel I do have to prepare myself before I go on a cruise,” Osborne revealed. “I think the hardest thing about being on a cruise is that you really are a captive. So as soon as you come out of your cabin, you are surrounded by people and you cannot escape. [laughs] … you gotta be able to handle that. I’m kinda used to that. I do enjoy people. I’m the youngest of 12 in my family so I grew up with nothing but people around me all the time. So I love people. I can get myself ready for that easily.”

All jokes aside, Osborne looks forward to watching his peers perform as well as entertaining music lovers.

“It’s great to sit down and reminisce and to go and see other people perform,” added the singer. “And it’s nonstop performances. That’s the great thing about a cruise. You got so many performances while you’re on that ship and they’re all usually great.”

Watch Jeffrey blow the audience away with his incredible live version of his classic hit, “Love Ballad”

Italian Rapper Jovanotti Pleased To Play With A Lower Profile

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lorianna De Giorgio

(June 15, 2012) Energetic Italian singer/songwriter and rapper Lorenzo “Jovanotti” Cherubini isn’t
interested in becoming a big name in North America. The Tuscan artist is already a household name in his own country — selling over five million albums, filling huge stadiums with his sold-out concerts and— in his 25-year music career.

The 45-year-old prefers a more low-key approach to his craft when he’s overseas — choosing to play smaller venues, jamming with local musicians and immersing himself in the music culture he grew up listening to. Beginning Friday Jovanotti embarks on a mini-North American tour. ATO Records will release Italia 1988-2012, hits remixed and reinterpreted by American producer Ian Brennan. The album is the first physical album of studio recordings to be released in North America.

The Star reached Jovanotti at his home studio in Cortona, Italy ahead of his June 15 Toronto concert for Luminato — his second time in Toronto — to chat about his career, what he likes about performing in front of North American audiences and his plan to live in NYC under the radar in the fall.

Q: Your CD Italia 1988-2012 will be released Aug. 7 in Canada.

A: It was interesting working with this American producer (Brennan) because he has a vision of me that is totally virgin of any kind of knowledge about my career, about my musical journey. Italy is a small country. . . Everybody knows me. They know (everything) about me . . . The perception of my music seen by an Italian guy is not really pure.

Q: How has your music has changed over these 25 years?

A: The music has changed a lot I’ve changed a lot. I started (with a) sort of Alice in Wonderland (idea) of the world that was naive . . . I didn’t know much about pain, about suffering . . . I was like 20 but inside I was . . . six years old . . . Then my life became a real life. I started to discover the different tastes of life.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 25 years?

A: I don’t know because 20 years ago I didn’t see myself in the next 25 years. . . . I hope to be in good health and to stay creative. For me the biggest fear in my personal life is waking up one morning and not being creative anymore.

Q: What do you think of North American audiences compared to European audiences?

A: I really love to play in North America because (it is) something totally new. The audience is so strange. I have a big part of (North) American people who come to see me with a sort of curiosity.

It is challenging and fun and inspiring because I feel a little bit more free. When I do concerts in Italy I always feel the duty to do the songs that I know that the people want to hear, while in (North) America I don’t feel (that) kind of thing.

I feel also more free from the meaning of my words. . . in Italy everybody can understand (me). In (North) America I know that most of the audience listens to my words as a pure sound with no meaning . . . I grew up listening to music that I didn’t understand . . . I grew up listening to American music.

I am not looking for success in (North) America in the typical way . . . I am looking for space in the (North) American live scene that will permit me to do what I like doing most — that is music.

America is so full of good rock stars . . . they don’t need another one.

Jovanotti plays David Pecaut Square’s Festival Stage (55 John Street) June 15 at 9 p.m.

Metric: The Band That Became A Label

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(June 19, 2012) I'm at the band's West End studio in Toronto, and Metric is reacting to good news. They've
just found out that their single Youth Without Youth had debuted at No. 1 on Mediabase Canadian Alternative Radio Airplay chart – the first time that feat has been accomplished. Much jubilation, naturally.

And then singer Emily Haines has a second thought on the achievement: “What does it even mean?” she asks. It's a good question, one for which I have no answer.

What I can say is what the chart-topping probably means – that someone at Metric Music International, the band's own label, did their job. MMI , as you might guess, is in the business of Metric music. And, apparently, business is good.

“This record, for the first time, depicts us as people and musicians and a band who are okay with who we are,” says guitarist Jimmy Shaw, sitting at a kitchen table after Haines and the band's publicist leave the room. “That's the sound of this record.”

The new record is Synthetica, the harder, darker follow-up to 2009's Fantasies, the platinum-seller which put the band in front of its biggest crowds ever. Synthetica's hooks and beats should please audiences, but there's often an edge to its shimmer, lyrically and sonically. “That's who we are,” says Shaw.

Much has been made of Metric leaving its independent label, Last Gang, an amicable split which began with the recording and independent release of Fantasies, the quartet's fourth album. “It took a lot of investment, time and energy,” says Shaw, “and it almost bankrupted us.” But it proved fruitful once that record took off internationally – Fantasies sold more than 500,000 copies and was finalist for the Polaris Music Prize.

And now, on the new record, their DIY model is firmly in place. “It feels natural,” says Shaw. “It feels like I can't believe we ever did this any other way.”

The history of bands going alone is spotty, but as established labels lose their grip on markets and media outlets, the practice is growing. In 1968, the Beatles began Apple Records, a boutique label initially set up to facilitate the creativity of the band members' group and solo efforts. (The Apple releases were still distributed and controlled somewhat by major labels.) More recently, with major labels losing control of the market and with less influence on media outlets, major acts such as Barenaked Ladies and Pearl Jam have struck out on their own, though still with ties to majors.

But Metric is doing things differently. Metric Music International has a grand industrious ring to it, but Haines isn't a mogul with a cigar in the side of her mouth, and Shaw isn't down at the plant with a clipboard and a hard hat. The label is simply is a shell for Metric to put out its own music. Says Shaw: “We wanted to be able to exist in a way that there was nobody in between us and Metric fans.” They've hired their own radio team, publicity team, sales staff and administrators. There are no plans for MMI to sign any other bands.

The difference, as Shaw sees it, is a matter of focus, with the people running the labels naturally seeing the company as the priority and the artists as employees. With own label and piecemeal staff, the focus is narrowed. “Everybody feels like they're contributing to the Metric train,” explains Shaw, “as opposed to Metric contributing to the Interscope train or something like that.” (Metric, after three albums on Last Gang, was wooed by major labels in 2007, but declined the offers, concluding that the deals were too one-sided in the labels' favour.)

Last week, singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards tweeted her frustration over what she perceived as a lack of label support. Reached after her tweet, Edwards spoke of the artist-label relationship. “Everybody who puts out a record has a point where the label decides they're going to move onto other things,” says the Juno winner, whose latest album Voyageur was released on Maple Music and in the U.S. on Rounder's Zoë label. “It doesn't mean that these people aren't behind me.”

Edwards acknowledged Voyageur's heavy early marketing commitment, which resulted in the album debuting higher on the charts than any of her previous efforts. But while her label support may now be tailing off, Edwards isn't. “I'm still thinking about touring another year and a half,” she says. “And finding out that people aren't going to work your record like you're going to continue working it, it can be a little shock to your system.”

Michael Timmons of Cowboy Junkies' understands what Edwards is going through. “When you're attached to any label that has a financial stake in your project, you need to keep that entity apprised of what you're doing. It's not necessarily a big deal but sometimes it's energy expended that you don't necessarily have.”

The Junkies have released music on its own Latent Recordings since 2000, after its American label Geffen Records declined to pick up its option with the band. Timmons enjoys the freedom of going it alone. “There's just the band,” he says. “If you can dream up an idea, and you can afford an idea, there is no one to drag it down.”

On the other hand? “There's no way that a truly artist-run label can have the reach and power of the majors,” he says. “They still, for the most part, control the game.”

Asked about the sometimes tempestuous partnership between label and artist, Steve Waxman at Warner Music Canada says that while he can understand the artist's frustration, he's not sure it's warranted. “I don't think we would ever make decisions without their best interests in mind,” says the industry veteran. “At the top of our mind is selling records, and it doesn't serve us to make the artist look bad.”

Waxman speaks of a label's clout as vital. “Musicians put out a record and expect radio stations just to play it,” he says. “They won't.”

Music, at its essence, is a simple transaction involving someone playing it and someone listening to it, with the music industry jumping in the middle and taking a little piece of that interaction. By taking that piece back, Metric hasn't reinvented the wheel. But they've reordered their own world, which might be the best (and as much) as any musician can hope for today.

Cohen, Drake And Feist Among The Many On Polaris Long List

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(June 15, 2012) Jim Cuddy didn’t make the cut, but Calgary’s doom-noise duo Mares of Thrace did. Grammy-winning R&B singer Melanie Fiona isn’t a finalist, but Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Mangan is the man.

The 40 long-listed albums for the
2012 Polaris Prize were announced at Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel, where confetti flew for some artists, while others received the sad trombone.

The long list is traditionally an eclectic roster of recordings, with the esoteric tastes of the most whimsical of the 200-plus jurors clashing with the notions of the voters with more moderate preferences. Chart-placing mainstream albums and major-label LPs are rarely represented, and this year is no exception: Top-selling releases by Justin Bieber, Michael Bublé and Nickelback are no longer contenders for the prize, which is handed out annually in recognition of the album judged to be the year’s very best.

To no one’s surprise, Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas, Drake’s Take Care, Kathleen Edward’s Voyageur, Patrick Watson’s Adventures in Your Own Backyard and Feist’s Metals made the list.

Somewhat surprising omissions include records by Cowboy Junkies, Plants and Animals, Pack A.D., Radio Radio, Elliott Brood, Deep Dark Woods and Junior Boys. The biggest eyebrow-raiser of the day was the news that that Skyscraper Soul, the stylish solo effort by Blue Rodeo’s Cuddy, didn’t make the cut.

The Polaris voters will now decide on the short list of 10 albums, to be announced July 17. The final winner will be revealed on Sept. 24.

THE LONG LIST
A Tribe Called Red: A Tribe Called Red
Marie-Pierre Arthur: Aux alentours
Rich Aucoin: We’re All Dying To Live
Avec pas d’casque: Astronomie
Azari & III: Azari & III
Bahamas: Barchords
The Barr Brothers: The Barr Brothers
Blackie And The Rodeo Kings: Kings And Queens
Cadence Weapon: Hope In Dirt City
Kathryn Calder: Bright And Vivid
Cannon Bros: Firecracker / Cloudglow
Coeur de pirate: Blonde
Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas
Cold Specks: I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Rose Cousins: We Have Made A Spark
Mark Davis: Eliminate The Toxins
Drake: Take Care
Kathleen Edwards: Voyageur
Feist: Metals
Fucked Up: David Comes To Life
Great Lake Swimmers: New Wild
EverywhereGrimes: Visions
Handsome Furs: Sound Kapital
Japandroids: Celebration Rock
Dan Mangan: Oh Fortune
Mares Of Thrace: The Pilgrimage
Ariane Moffatt: MA
Lindi Ortega: Little Red Boots
Parlovr: Kook Soul
Sandro Perri: Impossible Spaces
Joel Plaskett Emergency: Scrappy Happiness
PS I Love You: Death Dreams
John K. Samson: Provincial
Shooting Guns: Born To Deal In Magic: 1952-1976
The Slakadeliqs: The Other Side of Tomorrow
Patrick Watson: Adventures In Your Own Backyard
Bry Webb: Provider
The Weeknd: Echoes of Silence
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan: YT//ST
Yukon Blonde: Tiger Talk

Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger Among New Members Of Songwriter Hall

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Carucci

(June 15, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Stevie Nicks prefers writing a song over meeting a handsome prince. Ne-
Yo claimed songwriting saved his life. And Bob Seger said writing a song is the hardest, yet most rewarding thing that he does.

Converging opinions thrived at the 43rd annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York where Seger, along with Canadian folk rocker Gordon Lightfoot, “Gambler” songwriter Don Schlitz, “and Jim Steinman of “Bat Out of Hell” fame became the latest members of the prestigious club. The writers of the long-running musical, “The Fantastick’s” were also inducted.

Seger opened the show with a spirited version of his 1973 classic, “Turn the Page.” He was then inducted by Valerie Simpson who performed “We’ve Got Tonight” in his honour.

On the red carpet before the performance, Simpson said that steamy track has a very special power.

“It’s one of the sexiest songs I know, it put more people in bed than I can imagine,” Simpson said.

Ne-Yo was honoured with this year’s Hal David Starlight Award. It’s given to young artists that are making a significant impact with their original music.

“To have a person who that has written a song that I look up to or that I grew up listening to tell me that I am good at it to. That means the world to me,” Ne-Yo said of Hal David, a frequent songwriting partner to Burt Bacharach.”

Then he explained how writing songs saved him.

“I was a pretty riled up little kid, and if not for my mom giving me the pad and the pen and telling me to take my emotions and put them there, then there was no telling then I might I have been sticking you up or something,” Ne-Yo joked.

After being inducted by Swizz Beatz, Ne-Yo told the crowd of nearly 900 that he didn’t prepare a speech because he still didn’t believe he was standing there.

While Nicks was not inducted, she did honour Bette Midler with the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award, and even performed “The Rose,’ the song made famous by Midler in the 1979 movie of the same name.

“People ask what is your favourite thing to do in a night? Be in a fantastic studio with a great poem and a piano and a little tape recorder. That is my idea of a great time,” Nicks said.

Lightfoot known for such hits as “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and “Sundown” performed his haunting 1970 ode to his failed marriage, “If You Could Read My Mind.”

On the red carpet he explained his motivation: “My life had been a bit of a roller-coaster. I think at that time I was going through the lower dip and sort of climbing up again.”

Over the years, artists from Barbra Streisand to Johnny Cash covered the song.

One of the evening’s funniest moments came from Jim Steinman, who wrote songs for Meat Loaf on his first two “Bat Out of Hell” albums. After Loaf and Constantine Maroulis performed an abridged version of the nearly 10-minute title track, Steinman noted: “They shortened the song so much I felt like I was watching an episode of Glee.

The Songwriters Hall of Fame was created in 1969 by a group of established songwriters, including the legendary Jonny Mercer. The organization’s mission is to shine a spotlight on the accomplishments of songwriters.

Jay-Z, Rihanna to Promote London Olympics with Performances

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jun 20, 2012) *A bevy of musical stars, including Jay-Z, Rihanna, David Guetta and Elton John, will take part
in the London 2012 Festival, a cultural celebration across Britain tied to the Summer Olympics that kicks off on Thursday.

Films from such directors as Alfred Hitchcock and Mike Leigh and art from Yoko Ono and others will also be featured at the festival, which runs through Sept. 9, includes 12,000 events and performances across the country in celebration of the Summer and Paralympic Games.

Organizers say there will be 10 million tickets for free and paid-for events in such fields as film, music, theater, fashion, dance and art.

One of the most star-studded events will be a BBC Radio 1 show that the station says will be its “biggest-ever free live music event.” The lineup for the June 23 and 24 extravaganza that will feature six stages in the Hackney Marshes area of East London includes Jay-Z, Rihanna, Flo Rida, David Guetta, Jessie J, Lana del Rey, Leona Lewis, Tinie Tempah, Plan B, Florence and the Machine, Dappy, Jack White and more.

With a budget of around £55 million ($86 million), the festival is seen as a chance to showcase Britain’s cultural heritage and put the country in the Olympic spirit.

::FILM NEWS::    

Paul Gross Sets New Film Hyena Road In Afghanistan

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Graveland

(June 15, 2012) BANFF, ALTA. — Paul Gross is returning to the battlefield.


Four years after his 2008 First World War epic Passchendaele hit the silver screen, the Canadian actor, writer and director will be using some of his own experiences overseas for a new film set in Afghanistan called Hyena Road.

As Canada’s combat mission was winding down, Gross spent two weeks at the forward operating base at Sperwan Ghar, 30 kilometres from Kandahar City.

“Outside the wire” is an expression soldiers use to describe venturing outside relatively safe and fortified bases, like the one at Kandahar Airfield where Canadian troops spent much of their mission. Gross actually put on the full battle gear and joined in a number of foot patrols.

“It’s amazing. I’ve never been so conscious of my feet (than) the first time I went out. It’s interesting about the different levels of ‘outside the wire,’” Gross told The Canadian Press at an interview in Banff this week.

“You can have a certain level of danger even in an (observation post), which is manned, but when you’re outside the base the phrase ‘outside the wire’ is something quite a bit different from whatever you thought it meant.”

Gross has finished a script largely based on interviews he did with soldiers about their jobs — the film’s entire opening sequence, in fact, was based on the experiences of one master sniper.

“It’s to do with a sniper (and) an intelligence officer — both Canadian soldiers and a legendary mujahedeen fighter and how their paths converge with unpredictable consequences,” he said.

“Because that actually as far as I can see is at the centre of counter-insurgency.”

Gross will play the role of the intelligence officer and he is holding out for Omar Sharif as the mujahed because “he looks completely wild now.”

The film got its title from a route built in part by Canadian and American troops to link the western edge of Panjwaii to the main highway to Kandahar City.

“I filmed about 60 hours of stuff all in Kandahar province,” said the 53-year-old.

“I’m going to use all that inside the movie but the story actually emerged from the time over there I spent talking with soldiers.”

Gross said filming is scheduled to begin in southern Jordan in January, once the heat dies down a bit. He said the terrain is similar to Kandahar but is without grapefields and grape-drying huts, which will have to be built.

And he added that Hyena Road will have a very different feel to it than Passchendaele.

“It’s kind of the antithesis of Passchendaele, which has a big romantic sweep and it was such an enormous war,” Gross said.

“Afghanistan is quite a small war in both its length and cost. It’s like the other side of it. It has a gritty, gritty documentary style feel to it and all the stories come directly out of conversations.”

Gross said he finds it fascinating that Canadians don’t feel comfortable with the idea of military special operations, special forces and snipers because it feels too premeditated.

He said the public seems more comfortable with taking the high ground and the premise of winning the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people.

“The rules in Afghanistan are that everybody knows them. If you pick up an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) or an AK-47, you’re in trouble. It’s black and white. There’s very little grey area whereas ‘hearts and minds’ is a moral swamp,” he said.

Gross isn’t referring to Hyena Road as a war movie. He said it’s meant to offer a snapshot of a moment in time.

“The Canadian Forces represent our country with amazing dignity and honour and we should be very proud of them, despite what you may think about the virtue or lack thereof (in) any given mission. Our soldiers represent us very well.”

Barney’s Version Top Canadian Box Office Earner Of 2011

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Nick Patch, The Canadian Press

(June 14, 2012) TORONTO —Rookie screenwriter Michael Konyves jokes he can retire early now that he’s won
Telefilm Canada’s coveted Golden Box Office Award.

The Montreal-based scribe claimed a $20,000 cheque at an awards ceremony this morning that saluted
Barney’s Version for being the top Canadian money-maker at the box office in 2011.

The so-called Golden Box Office Award, nicknamed the Goldie, comes with a $20,000 cheque for Konyves and a $20,000 cheque for director Richard J. Lewis.

Telefilm Canada presented them with the prize this morning at a Toronto deli known for serving Montreal-style smoked meat.

Barney’s Version is based on the Mordecai Richler novel of the same name, and starred Paul Giamatti as a cigar-chomping, hockey-crazed Montrealer whose cantankerous personality costs him the love of his life.

Telefilm says the romantic dramedy, which earned an Oscar nomination for best makeup and a Golden Globe for Giamatti, grossed $3.2 million at the Canadian box office in 2011.

Producer Robert Lantos has said it took 12 years to find the right team who could wrestle Richler’s acclaimed novel into a workable film.

Konyves says it took him a year to come up with the feature film script, which became his first project to hit the big screen.

Giamatti stars as the titular Barney Panofsky while Dustin Hoffman plays his foul-mouthed cop father, Minnie Driver is his high-strung second wife, Rosamund Pike plays Barney’s true love and Scott Speedman portrays his best friend.

Lewis says audience acclaim is the most a filmmaker can hope for.

“A lot of filmmakers will tell you that as long as they love the film then they’re OK with that, but that’s a load of crap,” Lewis said to chuckles from a crowd of industry players including TIFF programmers and Genie Award organizers.

“Because when we see people watch the film and the box office numbers come in, we know that people have been talking about the movie and that’s really the vindication, that’s really what we want to hear. And this was a gift from the get-go, from the time I read the novel, it was a gift so to get another one is such an overwhelming (thing), such a treat.”

Last year’s Goldie award went to the director and writers of the sci-fi thriller Splice, while the director and writers of Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day earned the previous prize.

Jonah Hill Signs On For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(June 19, 2012) Jonah Hill has signed up for Django Unchained after previously turning down a role in the
spaghetti western movie due to scheduling conflicts.

The 21 Jump Street star will now play a different character, as yet unknown, in the Quentin Tarantino-directed film.

Hill rejected the role of Scotty Harmony, who loses the titular character Django’s (Jamie Foxx) slave wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) to evil plantation owner Calvin Candie — who is played by Leonardo DiCaprio — which results in him being involved in a showdown with the slave-turned-bounty hunter.

The drama film focuses on Django’s quest to recover his wife from Calvin — who runs club Candyland, where his spouse and other female slaves are exploited as sex objects — and Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and James Russo have also signed up for the motion picture.

Hill and DiCaprio will then join forces for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which is based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of his rise and fall as a stockbroker.

John Dujardin has also been in talks to star in the crime drama, which will see DiCaprio play Jordan, a multi-millionaire stockbroker who was charged with security fraud and money laundering, and served a 22-month prison stretch.

Mark Duplass: Seeking The Soul Of A Time Traveller

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(June 15, 2012) “It’s a sensitive, uplifting, time-travel movie and I haven’t seen those two DNAs joined
together before,” remarked actor Mark Duplass the day after Safety Not Guaranteed wowed audiences at its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

The quirky romantic drama was picked up by a distributor within a week. But when we talked, Duplass, who stars in and also co-produced the movie with brother Jay, was hopeful others would share their enthusiasm for this earnest and funny charmer. The movie opens Friday.

Based on a real-life classified ad, Duplass stars as Kenneth, a recluse who advertises for a time-travel companion in a small Washington state paper. He’s unlocked the secrets of the universe and is seeking a co-pilot for his voyage back in time — bring your own weapons and safety not guaranteed. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) plays Darius, one of a trio of Seattle magazine writers who figure this oddball would make a good story and set out to track him down.

Duplass may not be a household name but he’s never short of work. This year alone he’s seen in People Like Us, Darling Companion, Jeff Who Lives at Home (the Duplass Bros. also directed) and Your Sister’s Sister.

He said he was drawn to the “purity of heart” in the character of Kenneth.

“This is what I love about the movies I make with my brother. He (Kenneth) is kind of the ultimate lovable loser and I have a big love for that kind of character,” he explained.

“In a world where you basically get ahead by being as sarcastic and cynical as you can about things, Kenneth has not one ounce of cynicism in him,” added Duplass. “He’s a believer. I am not that way and so getting to live through him is a beautiful thing to me.”

The key to making the character work, said Duplass, was ensuring the audience buys that he is a man of absolute conviction not only in the success of his mission but that government agents are out to stop him.

“I think when you meet Kenneth you are absolutely convinced he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. He’s insane and something has happened in his past to make him screwed up enough to think he can time travel,” said Duplass. “And then you add that element of: holy s--t! What if he does know what he’s talking about?”

A writer, director, producer, actor and musician (he even plays the zither in Safety Not Guaranteed), Duplass and his brother first gained attention with their heavily improvised indie comedy The Puffy Chair, which premiered at Sundance in 2005.

Next came dark comedies Humpday (directed by Lynn Shelton, who also helmed Your Sister’s Sister) and Duplass Bros.-directed Baghead and Cyrus.

First-time director Colin Trevorrow is in the director’s chair for Safety Not Guaranteed. The story and script are by newcomer Derek Connolly.

Duplass said the decision to cast Plaza, known for playing deadpan, snarky roles, involved sending her into unknown territory to take on the role of Darius, who discovers she has feelings for Kenneth.

“Quite frankly we took a risk in Aubrey,” he said. “We knew she would crush the first half of the movie as the cynical, sarcastic girl that we’ve seen her do with April Ludgate (her Parks and Recreation character), but then she had to get completely out of her comfort zone. And I thought she was fantastic.”

Why Pixar’s Warrior Princess Pic Brave Put Up A Fight

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Jun 20, 2012) Pixar’s brand name is as strong for teamwork as it is for animation, so much so that you could
almost imagine “Kumbaya” as its corporate song.

But nothing creative comes easily. Witness the unusually difficult birth of Brave, the Scottish fairy tale opening Friday.

Trumpeted as Pixar’s first film with a female protagonist, the lead role of rebel princess Merida was originally supposed to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon. She was far into production — already working on her Scots accent and “teenagedness” — but dropped out due to “scheduling difficulties.” She was replaced by Glasgow-born Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men, TV’s Boardwalk Empire.)

Brave was also to be Pixar’s first feature directed by a woman: Brenda Chapman, who directed DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt. She conceived and co-wrote the story of Brave, basing it on her relationship with her daughter. But after six years of work, she left the film due to “creative differences” and was replaced by Mark Andrews, who had assisted with story and/or visuals for Pixar’s The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Cars.

Even the title took some tweaking. It started off as Brave, became The Bear and the Bow, before finally returning to Brave.

Those inclined to superstition might point to the fact that this is Pixar’s 13th feature. But Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian aren’t buying any talk of jinx during a recent Toronto press day, insisting that all Pixar projects are difficult births.

Up was eight years in development,” Andrews says.

“And Ratatouille and Toy Story 2 both had director changes,” Sarafian chimes in. “Every single one of our films goes through some creative crisis. (Pixar/Disney animation chief) Ed Catmull says that every Pixar film sucks, at some point. There’s always some creative crisis.”

Why is this?

“Because we put our priority on telling the best story we can,” Sarafian continues. “And it’s hard. It’s like giving birth in a really, really difficult labour.”

Brave seems to have been a more difficult labour than usual, with vocal criticism of the process escaping the tightly managed Pixar ranch. Chapman told the Los Angeles Times last year that animation was in “a really sad state” because it’s still a mostly male pursuit.

“We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.” (Chapman still retains a directing credit on Brave, sharing it with Andrews, while co-writer Steve Purcell gets a co-director credit.)

Andrews and Sarafian insist there was no shortage of female input into the making of Brave.

“We have a lot of female senior leadership on the film and we’re all whispering in each other’s ears, ‘I don’t know if that rings true . . . I said this thing to my mom, once, and blah blah blah,’” Sarafian says.

“And Mark could talk to his wife. But a lot of it is just based on experience and what just feels right as a storyteller.”

Andrews also talked to his children, to get the tomboy nature of Merida just right. Merida is the daughter of a Scottish king (Billy Connolly) and queen (Emma Thompson), who chafes at her mother’s rules and at her parents’ insistence that she marry a doltish son from a rival clan. Merida’s headstrong ways leads her to acquiring a spell that gives a whole new meaning to maternal bear hugs.

“I’m the father of four children: a daughter and three boys,” Andrews says.

“My girl is not super-girly. There are only a couple of aspects that make her girly. She’s more like a guy. And a couple of my boys are more cuddlers and emotional and listen and pay attention, things that you would classify as being more girly. So I think everything is all messed up, anyway, in what society thinks our roles need to be.”

Andrews and Sarafian admit to having had a few disagreements during filming, although there was nothing major.

“We made the movie so many times, over and over and over, there were different directions that you could see, and we pulled off of those and got different things,” Andrews says. “We could have a 16-hour epic going on.”

But they both agreed that Brave had to be more than just the usual female empowerment story about a plucky girl fighting adversity.

“She had to be heroic, brave and strong,” Sarafian says. “She didn’t have to be a role model and, frankly, in a lot of ways, she isn’t. This is a girl who doesn’t listen, screws up, unleashes a perilous curse: there’s nothing role-modelly about that.”

Merida is an original, and Brave received a thumbs-up from another original: the notoriously finicky Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple and Pixar. Jobs saw reels of Brave before his death from cancer last October. There’s a dedication to him in the closing credits.

“As a family man, he was just very proud that we were making this movie because we were making a family story,” Sarafian says. “It resonated with him, and we hope he would be proud of the final film.”

If you can please Steve Jobs, can any problem at Pixar be that hard to solve?

“At the end of the day, Pixar is the best place to do film,” Andrews says.

“It’s run by artists, and the artistic process, being creative, means there’s a lot of back and forth. There’s a lot of pain and sweat and blood and tears. These are passionate people making projects and arguing passionately and debating passionately and sometimes there’s going to be creative differences . . . But it’s a great place to work, and you’ve got guys on your side.”

::TV NEWS::    

How Canadian TV Can Start Thinking Really Big

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Kate Taylor

(June 18, 2012) Mad Men has wrapped for another year, leaving the enigmatic Don Draper apparently
contemplating more adultery. But fans of great TV will be glad to know that Season 5 of Breaking Bad starts up again next month, picking up right where we left off in the life of Walter White, chemistry teacher turned meth dealer. It will be next winter before we find out what’s up with the Granthams at Downton Abbey, but the Prohibition-era crooks on Boardwalk Empire should keep us suitably entertained all fall.

With a seemingly unending parade of lush period pieces and dark crime dramas, the golden age of television continues to shimmer brightly.

Just not in Canada.

The rise of the cable drama, expanding episodic television into long-form narratives that represent the most sophisticated audiovisual storytelling the culture has to offer, has no Canadian equivalent. Here, network television produces a handful of more-or-less successful procedural dramas (Republic of Doyle, Flashpoint, Rookie Blue), co-produces a few high-end European entries (The Tudors, The Borgias); and often relegates what little distinctive fare it does produce (in particular, unusual comedy, such as Ken Finkleman’s Good Dog and Good God; and the nasty Less Than Kind) to the relative obscurity of the Canadian specialty channels.

Canada isn’t playing television’s game of thrones. That’s partly because it doesn’t have the big audiences and big money to compete; but also, more sadly yet more reversibly, because its risk-averse television broadcasters are failing to back talent in a culture that too quickly turns to airing U.S. television rather than demanding better from its own.

And yet, an increasingly transcontinental trade in TV shows has created a rising group of Canadian writers and directors poised for success on one side of the border or the other.

They will create great Canadian shows – if the system doesn’t get in their way. “If somebody decides to let someone with a vision have a go, every shoulder has to be behind it,” says Chris Haddock, who created Da Vinci’s Inquest, Da Vinci’s City Hall and Intelligence for the CBC, but is currently writing for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire in New York. Adds Haddock: “Every show that has succeeded has had people who stuck by it.”

The notoriously expensive 2010 pilot for Boardwalk Empire cost $18-million (U.S.) according to Variety. Of course, American budgets are bigger, typically $2.5-million to $3-million an hour-long episode versus $1-million in Canada. While Canadian series can access more money through international co-productions, especially for historical dramas, such productions aren’t visibly Canadian. Bigger budgets provide the money to pay for the fancier costumes and big-name stars that lure viewers – a Joseph Fiennes on Camelot or Jeremy Irons on The Borgias – but, more importantly, they pay for more writers, and more time to shoot.

The real difference between the two countries, however, is that the wealth of the Hollywood system has created a niche in cable drama where producers can afford big budgets on the one hand yet largely ignore ratings on the other.

Mad Men is one of the most talked-about shows on TV, yet its ratings are modest; it averaged fewer than a million viewers in its debut season in 2007, and is now averaging a more respectable 2.6 million. In Canadian terms, that is an audience in the 100,000-to-300,000 range – just enough to get you cancelled on the CBC. Haddock’s Intelligence, the internationally recognized CBC secret-service drama of 2006-07, was averaging fewer than 200,000 viewers when it got the axe, making it the Avro Arrow of Canadian television. Similarly, after a single season, the CBC has just canned Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays, the much-discussed comedy by Bob Martin and Matt Watts, which had also dropped below the 200,000 mark.

Industry insiders say shows such as Mad Men on AMC or, previously, The Sopranos on HBO are considered loss leaders: What they deliver is critical buzz and Emmy nominations that will build a channel’s reputation and its subscription base. While Canadian specialty channels can also afford to be less ratings-driven than the networks, the space for high-quality Canadian drama in what is already a small niche in a small market is getting increasingly cramped.

Distinctive Canadian voices do find a place. HBO Canada has recently aired those self-referential satires of Finkleman’s; The Movie Network/Movie Central originated the theatrical satire Slings & Arrows in 2003 and the dark and cynical Durham County in 2007, both of which were well-received on U.S. cable. But, lacking big promotional budgets and prime spots on the schedule here at home, the shows seldom get much attention from Canadians.

Consolidation in the industry – Bell Media, which owns CTV, is just waiting for government approval of its purchase of Astral, which owns The Movie Network (TMN) and operates HBO Canada in Eastern Canada – may threaten that already-scarce diversity as broadcasting conglomerates look for programming they can use across different platforms. That’s a development that will only be encouraged by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s new TV policy, which allows the broadcasters to spread some of their Canadian-content requirements across a chain of channels. Meanwhile, the small number of players and the private broadcasters’ dependence on a business model based on buying American programs rather than producing domestic ones makes Canadian TV much more risk-averse than the best examples in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the small number of players and the private broadcasters’ dependence on a business model based on buying American programs rather than producing domestic ones makes Canadian TV more risk-averse than the best U.S. examples.

“Networks executives [in the U.S.] live or die by their programming decisions; they are hired for their taste. If they are fired, there are lots of other places they can go,” notes Michelle Marion, former head of production of TMN and HBO Canada. “The problem in Canada is that there are so few networks, it’s hard to stick your neck out and make shows that are unconventional.”

Programmers often look to procedural dramas – always a favourite with audiences – which may explain why Canada has had a fair amount of success in that field in recent years, with U.S. partners signing on for shows such as Flashpoint, The Listener and the new medical drama Saving Hope. And yet, for the most part, the talked-about U.S. cable dramas are not programs that fit recognized genres; they’re character-driven shows created by individual visionaries.

Indeed, Canadian TV writers, directors and producers say the thing that is most lacking here is the commitment to get behind individual creators and let them pursue their ideas – the way Matthew Weiner did with Mad Men and Julian Fellowes did with Downton Abbey (an American-British co-pro that aired on PBS and ITV, Britain’s commercially owned public-service channel, and surpassed expectations for a period drama in proving a huge ratings hit.)

Instead, Canadian broadcasters are often making TV by committee. “It’s about passion,” says producer Christina Jennings of Shaftesbury Films, explaining why she is backing two writers – Esta Spalding and Daphne Ballon – who want to make a new series based on Jalna, the Mazo de la Roche family saga published in the 1920s. The concept is now in development with Shaw Media. “They came to us and said, we want to remake Jalna, and the light bulb went off.” Viewers with long memories may be put off by dusty recollections from 1972 of CBC’s convoluted Whiteoaks of Jalna, but Jennings feels a new generation should lap up the soapy story.

If it succeeds, it will be an example of exactly what the system should be doing – letting the creators currently toiling on procedurals and sitcoms follow their muse: Spalding has previously written for Flashpoint, Rookie Blue and Being Erica; Ballon was the creator of the family sitcom Life with Derek.

Meanwhile, filmmaker and TV director Clement Virgo is developing a six-part adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s bestseller The Book of Negroes for the CBC, and is hoping that South African and European partners will sign on. If that works, it would create an international co-production that, for once, would be identifiably Canadian; but it also raises the question why Canada does not turn more often to its esteemed literary writers rather than merely adapting their classic novels. The urban sensibility of thriller writer Andrew Pyper, the immigrant perspective of novelist David Bezmozgis (who is also a filmmaker), or Miriam Toews’s eye for character – to pick but a few examples – all suggest writers who could do interesting things on the small screen.

Of course, the surest route to success is to hand a project to someone who has already produced a winner: Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik, who had quit screenwriting after she wrote Durham County, now has a project in development with the CBC.

She says she wants to work in Canada. The same goes for Haddock; and for Martin, who created Slings & Arrows and Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays. But the latter two are now pitching directly to U.S. networks: In an increasingly globalized TV market, the writers can easily bypass Canadian broadcasters.

Haddock’s current pitches to HBO in the U.S. include a show that would be set in Vancouver, which is where he really wants to be. If it succeeds, the series would prove a triumph of Canadian talent – yet an indictment of Canadian TV. This country seems unlikely to produce a Mad Men, but a Canadian just might.

‘Burn Notice’ Star Jeffrey Donovan Says Main Character Is Killed Off In New Season

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lauri Neff

(June 15, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Hot news for Burn Notice fans: Jeffrey Donovan, who plays the CIA
operative Michael Westen, says one of the main characters dies in the show’s sixth season, which premiered Thursday on the USA Network.

As for who is killed off — Donovan isn’t saying.

Last season ended with Donovan’s character devastated as he watched girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) turn herself in to authorities. He and his team had been forced to commit crimes on increasingly dangerous missions because Fiona was being blackmailed by the man who had originally “burned” Michael out of the CIA.

Donovan says much of this new season focuses on Michael’s efforts to get Fiona out of jail.

“I think season six will be the darkest year ever for Michael,” says the actor of his usually unflappable character. “You’ll actually see him break down for once. You’ll see the raw emotion come out of him because he doesn’t know how to deal with a 4-inch pane of glass between him and what he wants.”

The actor says Michael does win Fiona’s release by capturing a “very bad person” for the CIA, but in that capture one of the main characters is killed. “Eventually you’re going to see the whole team on the run because of what the team does to avenge this person’s death,” he says.

Along with his Burn Notice gig Donovan appeared in the recent Clint Eastwood-directed films J. Edgar and Changeling.

TV TIDBITS

Arsenio Hall To Return To Late Night With New Talk Show

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(June 19, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — Arsenio Hall is returning to TV’s late-night scene, where he flourished
with a talk show two decades ago. CBS Television Distribution says it is developing a syndicated nightly talk show with the 57-year-old actor and comedian. The company said Monday that the show is set to premiere in fall 2013. Hall is best known for hosting the Emmy Award-winning Arsenio Hall Show, which ran from 1989 to 1994. That show’s place in pop-culture history was clinched in 1992 when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton appeared and played “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone. Hall was featured in the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America and was a regular on the CBS series Martial Law in the late 1990s. Recently, he won the latest edition of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice.

::ARTS NEWS::

From The Dark — A Magic Show Performed In Total Darkness

Source: www.thestar.com - By Alyshah Hasham

(June 16, 2012) Traditional magic tricks are all about the grand reveal.


Before your very eyes, promises the magician, the dove will disappear.

But how do you perform a vanishing trick when your audience is unable to see?

That’s the premise of renowned Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela’s “From the Dark” — a magic show where both magician and the audience are blindfolded.

Under the fluorescent lights in the lobby of Hart House Theatre I slip on a black blindfold, “surrendering my sight” to Marian Zambrano, the appointed guide for our group of 10.

The reassuring sliver of light around my nose fades as we queue in pairs to enter the darkness of the theatre.

One hand resting on the shoulder in front of us, we shuffle carefully toward Maria’s voice.

The theatre sounds crowded, but when I end up alone for a moment, waiting to be gently herded to my seat, I can’t tell whether the closest person is a foot or 10 feet away. It’s oddly paralyzing.

“If screaming starts we’ll leave,” the optimistic woman on my right tells her friend as we settle in. “For now, let’s embrace the madness.”

It is a magic show after all — though what that entails is the subject of much speculation as we wait in the darkness.

Varela told me earlier in the day that there would be some divination, some card tricks. Oh, and that somehow he’d make something disappear.

In the two years he has been doing this show, he once performed for the King of Spain and his sister Margarita, who has been blind since birth. After the show, she emotionally told him that that was the first time she understood what it meant for something to vanish before.

As I consider this, Maria places a small box on my lap, and tells me to strap it onto my leg.

Inside are various props including cards and a coin. We are all magician assistants in this show it seems.

Finally a hush. Varela speaks. He is sitting on the stage in front of us, he says, himself blindfolded to share this journey.

The theatre is dominated by his voice, which leads us through tricks performed with our own hands and the props from the box. He guesses which hand of a volunteer holds the medallion he gave her, confirmed by its metallic thud when dropped onto a table.

“I don’t want the spectator to have any other explanation,” Varela told me before the show. They can’t “say it happened so fast I didn’t see it. I want them to have no defence for the astonishment. I want the impossible to be a little more impossible.”

It took him 10 years to develop the show, which began as a way to share magic with people who are blind (the Luminato Festival performance is presented in collaboration with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

Over time it became a show for anyone, using blindfolds to allow the performance to take place inside the minds of the audience. That’s why Michael Weber, the director of the Canadian premiere of “From the Dark” ensures the theatre is never seen at all.

For Varela, the challenge is giving up the control of sight, being unable to study the faces of his audience and relying on their vocal cues.

As an illusionist he demands trust from the audience. But when you are all blindfolded, the trust has to go both ways.

And trust me, under your very nose, something does vanish.

The show plays Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto. It lasts 75 minutes with no intermission. Admission is $35.

ARTS TIDBITS

Mike Tyson, Spike Lee take on Broadway

Source: www.thestar.com - By Mark Kennedy

(June 18, 2012) NEW YORK—Mike Tyson wants his next knockout to be on Broadway. The former boxer
announced Monday that he will team up with director Spike Lee to bring his one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, to the Longacre Theatre for six nights only, July 31 to Aug. 5. The show, a raw confessional on the highs and lows of the life of the retired heavyweight and tabloid target, made its debut in April at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It will mark Lee’s debut as a Broadway director. Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 when he won his title as a 20-year-old. His life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and drug use.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Microsoft Unveils iPad rival Surface

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Omar El Akkad

(June 19, 2012) Microsoft is launching a tablet called Surface to compete with Apple’s iPad in the rapidly
growing mobile device market.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the tablet at a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday. The Surface is designed to help Microsoft launch Windows 8, the latest version of its flagship operating system, expected to hit stores in the fall. It also gives Microsoft a means of cashing in on the growing tablet market, which has slowly but surely siphoned sales from the traditional desktop and laptop computer segments.

“We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience, hardware and software, are considered and working together,” Mr. Ballmer said. “We wanted to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovation.”

If it succeeds, the Surface could prove to be the most important piece of hardware Microsoft has ever built, giving the company a means to cash in on the tablet market as consumers increasingly choose mobile devices over desktop computers.

The original Surface, designed by Microsoft in 2008, was a multi-touch computer about the size of a living room table. It was built to be used mostly by businesses, such as retail stores and hotels. The tablet incarnation, revealed Monday, weighs just 676 grams, is 9.3-millimetres thick and comes with a 10.6-inch screen. It also features a built-in kickstand and a magnetic cover that doubles as a touchscreen keyboard.

The Surface puts Microsoft back into the consumer hardware market, where its track record is very mixed. The Xbox gaming console, for example, has become one of the most popular gaming platforms on the planet – a means for Microsoft to beam all kinds of entertainment options into its customers' living rooms. But other hardware projects, such as the Zune MP3 player and the Kin mobile phone, ended up being commercial flops.

Mimicking Apple’s approach, Microsoft kept the details of its Surface tablet announcement secret until the last moment. Journalists invited to the event weren’t even informed of the address until the day of the announcement.

Although it’s too early to tell whether consumers will take to the Surface, the tablet’s launch comes at a time when Microsoft is getting ready to reboot the most important piece of software in its business.

This fall, Microsoft is expected to release the latest version of its Windows operating system, Windows 8. Unlike most previous versions of the software, Windows 8 is designed primarily to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft rival Apple currently dominates the tablet market with its iPad line. There are some competitors, including devices that run on the Android operating system developed by Google, but none have managed to put a dent in Apple’s market share.

With its own hardware, Microsoft hopes to get in on the tablet market earlier than it did in the smartphone market. For years, Apple also dominated that market with its iPhones. Recently, some Android-based phones have gained traction, and Microsoft has partnered with Nokia to launch high-end phones running on Windows software. Even though the phones received generally positive reviews, Windows has yet to catch up with Android-based phones and Apple’s iPhones, which together still make up the vast majority of the overall smartphone market.

Microsoft has a mixed history with mobile devices. It previously tried to compete with the iPod MP3 player by launching the Zune in 2006. Despite combining it with a media store, the Zune failed to gain much traction, and in late 2011 Microsoft announced it would discontinue the line.

In 2008, rumours surfaced that Microsoft was working on a device codenamed the Courier, a dual touchscreen tablet that opened like a book. However that project appeared to have never left the prototype stage, and is believed to have been cancelled altogether in 2010.

An in-house tablet allows Microsoft to leverage the power of Windows, which is by far the best-selling commercial operating system in the world. However such a move is not without complications. In the smartphone market, Google initially allowed just about any company to develop phones using its Android operating system. But when Google attempted to co-build its own branded Android smartphone, some phone-makers wondered whether they would be able to compete with such a device on an even playing field, given that only one Android phone on the market would actually be co-developed in close collaboration with the company that designed Android.

With an in-house tablet, Microsoft faces similar concerns. At annual technology conferences, the company frequently shows off tablet-like devices running Windows software, but such devices have traditionally been built by partners such as Hewlett-Packard. Now, Microsoft will have a device that could potentially compete with products designed by some of those partners.

But there are also plenty of advantages for Microsoft. A tablet would not only give the company a flagship product to tie to its Windows 8 launch later this year, but would also fit Microsoft’s greater strategy of synchronizing all of its consumers’ digital entertainment options across a variety of its devices. For example, a tablet could also function as a controller for the Xbox gaming system, allowing users to stream media wirelessly from their mobile devices to their TVs. A super-powered controller would also allow Microsoft to extend the life of its Xbox console by giving customers yet another peripheral devices, alongside the Kinect motion-detection hardware, which jump-started Xbox sales when it was released in 2010.

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Volunteer Travel: Toronto Woman Leads Others To Volunteer In Ghana

Source: www.thestar.com - Paul Irish

(June 13, 2012) There was no ocean or beach, no restaurants, no museums — but this was the best trip
these six young women have ever been on.

It was a month in Ghana teaching children at a small elementary school/orphanage learning about life, values and — most importantly — realizing even a small effort can make a huge difference to people who need a bit of help.

“I don’t know where to start,” says Toronto’s Ashley Hassard, 22, a Western University graduate and organizer of the all-volunteer project “We worked hard, we gave a lot but, yes, we left with a lot. It was hard saying goodbye to those kids … there were a lot of tears.”

The women — Michele Ivanisevic, 21, from Niagara Falls, Joanna Arniotis, 22, from Toronto, Elyse Golian, 20, from Sarnia, Ont., Alexandra Braun-Woodbury, 22, from Toronto and Kristy Race, 21 from Oakville, (as well as Hassard) paid for the $2,000 round trip flight to Africa themselves and made $500 each to defray other costs through bake sales and other fundraisers.

They arrived back in Canada on June 6.

The experience isn’t anything new to Hassard. Her first foray was in 2009 when she travelled to the Dominican Republic, where she taught English. She followed that with time in Costa Rica during 2010 where she stayed on rural islands setting up medical clinics as well as two similar ventures in 2011.

She stresses that her time abroad is all about the people she helps, but admitted she can’t help but experience her own personal growth.

Hassard wanted to share the experience and decided to organize the trip to Ghana — through International Volunteer Headquarters, a liaison organization for volunteers — and advertised for interested participants while at Western. She received 30 applicants and chose five.

“We all felt the same about it — it was just an incredible, empowering experience,” she says adding that some of the other women had been on similar trips before. “It showed everyone what can be achieved, even in a short time.”

As expected, the small village of Eguaso, where they stayed in the south of Ghana, was different from what they are used to.

The group lived in a tin roof hut with a concrete floor and used an outhouse.

To shower, the women would retrieve water in buckets from the town’s two pumps and pour it over their heads. Toilet paper was brought from home due to the simple fact they knew they may not be able to find anywhere in the village.

But they didn’t mind the hardships, it was about their kids.

Most of their time was spent with about 17 boys and girls ranging in age 2 to 16, teaching them English, French and some mathematics.

Just one of the major projects completed during the month was a large vegetable garden so that they would have enough food to eat in the coming months.

“You quickly realize the struggle there,” says Hassard. “It’s hard, but the people are happy, smart and they love life.”

Hassard says the reality of the world, with its haves and havenots, was crystallized the day she walked into the small school and observed a lesson she could only describe as surreal.

Despite the fact there were no computers, the children were being shown chalk depictions of modems and keyboards for the day “when and if” they get to use one.

Although she’s graduated from Western and is pursuing graduate studies at the University of Toronto, Hassard is staying in touch with the school in the hope of establishing regular trips students can take advantage of.

On The Road To Recovery, Jamaican-Style

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Si Si Penaloza

(June 6, 2012) MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA —Feeling the effects of the night before? Forget the saturated-fat fix
and head to the spa. In Montego Bay, Jamaica, I signed up for the Spa at Round Hill’s Signature Hangover Massage. For a feel-good pick-me-up, the spa uses Jamaican sweet basil to stimulate the immune system and initiate toxin elimination. At check-in, I beg my therapist to go easy on my neck – an area where I typically enjoy masterful throttling – in hopes of staving off dizzy disorientation. She lets out a laugh and whispers, “No worry. I got your back.” And just like that, we’re in it together, on the road to recovery via rubdown. She invites me to inhale the essential oil from her palm and the waves in my stomach subside enough to lie on my belly. She rocks the heels of her hands on my hips, releasing the tension.

The benefits

A hangover is caused by the ethanol in alcohol, which severely dehydrates the body. The usual hangover cures – coffee, a fatty fry-up and Aspirin – have nothing on a soothing, decompressing massage.

The spa

Round Hill is all about relaxed good taste of a bygone era. Guests swan on the beach and pitter patter by the pool, exerting as little effort as possible. The hotel was first opened by a socially connected Jamaican entrepreneur, John Pringle, who invited socialites, literati and artists to build private cottages on the property. Archival photos of such past shareholders as Noël Coward and Oscar Hammerstein attest to its old-school glamour. The celebrity clientele dates back to its beginning in 1953, hosting the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco, John F. Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. Ralph Lauren, who owns a villa on the property, designed the resort’s famous bar and Caribbean-chic hotel rooms. The spa is set in an 18th-century plantation house poised at the end of a scenic walking path along a stretch of rocky shoreline, and is an ideal place to take a yoga class, savour lunch, sprawl in a hammock, or go for a dip in the sea. The atmosphere alone makes it one of the standout spas in Jamaica.

The basics

Round Hill Hotel and Villas at John Pringle Drive, Montego Bay, Jamaica, West Indies; 1-800-972-2159; roundhill.com; $165 for 80 minutes.

The Reincarnation Of Montreal's Ritz

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Jacob Richler

(June 18, 2012) MONTREAL —Last Saturday, as Ritz-Carlton general manager Andrew Torriani and I finished up our second course of a perfect seared scallop with puréed spring peas in the hotel's not-quite-open Maison Boulud, I asked him if there was anything he was nervous about as he looked ahead to his official opening on Monday. Say, whether Montrealers would embrace the restaurant's ultramodern design within the Ritz context. Or whether a city that treasured its own on the culinary front – and had, for example, rejected local outposts of such iconic Parisian brands as Fouquet's and Hediard – would instead embrace a French brand from Manhattan.

“The only thing I'm nervous about is students,” he replied.

The roaming protesters had just labelled the newly refurbished hotel a target, and there was no question he thought this more of a threat than local restaurant critics. Our next course clinched this impression: seared, wild Scottish salmon, encrusted with a paper-thin slice of pain de mie. We have been eating the farmed stuff for so long in this country that hardly anyone can remember what the real thing tastes like. Take it from me: It's wonderful.

It tasted so good that for a moment it brought me back 20-odd years, to when wild Atlantic salmon was still plentiful, and the Ritz-Carlton made the best smoked salmon in town. Back then, when I suppose it was assumed that all sensible men of comfortable means would go fly-casting for salmon on the Restigouche or the Cascapedia rivers, it was one of the privileges of being a Ritz-Carlton member cardholder that you could turn in a freshly caught fish at the front desk and have it transformed into two smoked sides for $35.

I remember this because my father, Mordecai, had a Ritz card (the attraction was that it entitled one to cash cheques at the concierge desk, which was very handy when you did not know how to use a bank machine). And in the 1980s, when we went fishing together and did well, it was always my job to drop off our salmon at the front desk for smoking. And when we went fishing together and did poorly, it was my job to buy some pretend catch at Waldman's Fish Market and take those to the Ritz instead.

We lived, and still keep, an apartment diagonally across the street, in the Château Apartments, another Golden Square Mile landmark. When we moved there from Westmount in 1980, my father enjoyed showing visitors to the living-room window to point out how short a distance it was to the entrance to the Ritz bar. When I was a CEGEP student, and less interested in, say, demonstrating than I was in earning money for nocturnal expenditures, I took a summer job there as a dish-washer.

Back then, Torriani was working as a captain in the hotel's Café de Paris. His brothers Anthony and Jonathan, old school friends of mine, worked the door and the front desk. Now, their company, Monaco Luxury Hotels and Resorts, controls a majority stake in the Ritz, where in 2007, my wife and I were the last couple to marry in the Royal Suite, where Liz and Dick got hitched in 1964.

All that to say that there are plenty of luxury hotels in Montreal but only one Ritz-Carlton. Only one hotel that created a name that became synonymous with the pinnacle of luxury and service all over the world.

That nifty fact and its 100 years of colourful history make the Ritz-Carlton unique for Montrealers, many of whom have long looked upon the place with proprietary pride. Or at least they did, until the hotel took them for granted, fell on hard times, and finally, under new ownership, was closed in 2008 for a major rethink.

So last Saturday, when, after four long years of renovation, the doors reopened to admit some trial-run business, it caused a bit of a stir. The official opening was still two days off, but the familiar doormen were unmistakably out on Sherbrooke Street for all to see. As they walked their old beat, passersby kept asking them if they could come in for a quick look. And one after another they were welcomed, doors held open with a ceremonial flourish.

No doubt, things were less inclusive for the original opening night on New Year's Eve, 1912. But times change and old hotels must change with them – or fail. Especially when their familiar, shabby charm has turned to rot, as it had at the Ritz when it entered the new millennium.

The $200-million invested in the Ritz-Carlton by its new owners (Monaco Luxury Hotels and Resorts, and their partners) has paid for a lot of change. But the simple question as to what is new and what remains provokes a complicated answer.

On the face of things, it is still very much the old Ritz. The reception desk is still in the same spot César Ritz chose for it, and so is his grand winding staircase. The elevators have not been relocated. The Palm Court, modelled on that at the Ritz in London, has seemingly not been disturbed.

But up close, in the details, nearly everything is new. The marble floor in the lobby that you thought was original is not – it's nicer. The panelling in the Palm Court has been entirely rebuilt to the specifications of long eclipsed original splendour. Same with the gold leaf and hand-painted details on the mouldings in the Oval Room. And so on.

And aside from those heritage rooms, the hotel was almost entirely gutted and rebuilt. You will find continuity in aesthetic features like the renewed light fixtures, reupholstered and restored furniture, reframed and cleaned paintings. From the bottom, where the vast basement kitchens were completely ripped out and replaced, to the new saltwater pool at the top, nothing old and dysfunctional remains – right down to the pipes and wiring.

The latter is only an unexciting topic to those who never stayed in the old hotel, and blew out an electrical socket with a hairdryer, or waited 10 minutes for a hint of hot water to emerge from a shower in the Royal Suite. Those habitués will be shocked by the new, modern conveniences.

The new windows still open, but when closed completely nullify the sounds of downtown. Air conditioning is all but silent. In the darkness of night, if you swing a foot from bed to floor a discreet floorboard-height light automatically illuminates the path to the loo. And when you get there, the electronic, washer-jet equipped Toto from Japan will automatically lift its lid to reveal a heated seat. The rooms are even equipped with heat sensors and motion detectors so that the climate-control system can save energy when the room is vacant – and maids know when it is appropriate to enter, or, say, risk encounter with a naked, aroused and very forward foreign dignitary.

This juxtaposition of old-fashioned and modern at play in the reinvented Ritz-Carlton is declared by its new face: The old façade is integrated with a glass cap and western flank encasing the shared living spaces of the new condominiums. But the theme is asserted most loudly at Maison Boulud, where the design of the restaurant, bar and gardens was handed over to the Japanese design firm Superpotato.

From the slatted ceiling to the glass-encased gas fireplace, the design is as modern as can be – a world apart from the lobby to which it is attached. The Ritz Gardens, excavated and then totally rebuilt for the shooting of Barney's Version, was bulldozed once more and created in an entirely new image. A glassed-in terrace can be used in inclement weather. The ducks are back, but their pond has been upgraded with stone walls and a small waterfall. And the design of the entire dining area now seems all of a piece, instead of the old haphazardly patched-up mess.

After two early meals in Maison Boulud, I would venture the biggest difference is in the superb cuisine. One never ate this well at the Ritz before. Not even close. Even chef Daniel Boulud's smoked salmon is a step up. The only downside is that, according to his website, he sells his for $85 a side. Two for $35 is a thing of the past; being the best in town, very much not.

If you go: 1228 Sherbrooke St. West; 514-842-4212; ritzmontreal.com. Rooms from $425 a night, one-bedroom suites from $900.

Special to The Globe and Mail

::SPORTS NEWS::

NHL Draft: Analyzing A Decade’s Worth Of Picks By Canadian Clubs

Source: www.thestar.com - Mark Zwolinski

(Jun 20, 2012) Looking back at Canada’s NHL teams and each of their draft classes over the past decade,
it’s easy to see why some teams became contenders and others, pretenders.

With futures decided at the draft table, it’s a good time to look back and see how the franchises were shaped ahead of Friday’s NHL entry draft in Pittsburgh.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

2011

First Round: Tyler Biggs (22nd) and Stuart Percy (25th)

Status:Biggs is expected to forgo U.S. college hockey for the Oshawa Generals or the Toronto Marlies while Percy got a three-game shot with the Marlies at the start of the Calder Cup playoffs

Hidden Gems: Wingers Josh Leivo (3rd round) and David Broll (6th) got brief looks with the Marlies

GM: Brian Burke

Draft Class: Addressed size and toughness, a Burke requisite. Not much in the way, though, in scoring depth. This may become known as the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins draft, but the astute pick may belong to the Flyers, who took Sean Couturier 8th overall. The Flyers led the NHL in rookie games last season, with Couturier, Brayden Schenn, and Matt Read (undrafted) leading the way.

2010

First Round: No pick (traded away in Phil Kessel deal, turned into Tyler Seguin)

Hidden Gems:Brad Ross (2nd round), Greg McKegg (3rd), Sondre Olden (3rd)

GM: Brian Burke

Draft Class: Ross was said to be the best agitator in the draft and McKegg went to the Memorial Cup with the Knights. Toronto acquired an extra third round pick and outfoxed Detroit to get Olden, who was heavily scouted by Red Wings super scout Hakan Andersson.

PHOTOS: TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS’ FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS

2009

First Round: Nazem Kadri (7th)

Status:Injured with Marlies but expected to make NHL team next year if he’s not traded

Hidden Gems:Kenny Ryan (2nd round), Jesse Blacker (2nd); Jerry D’Amigo (6th)

GM: Brian Burke

Draft Class: This was Burke’s first draft in Toronto and it was a good one. This was a big draft with John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchesne, Evander Kane, Brayden Schenn, and Oliver Ekman-Larson all going before Kadri. Carter Ashton, picked 29th overall by Tampa, became a Leaf this season in a trade for Keith Aulie.

2008

First Round: Luke Schenn (5th)

Status: Signed a three-year deal with Leafs last season, but was also constantly mentioned in trade rumours

Hidden Gems: None.

GM: Cliff Fletcher

Draft Class: Super draft featuring Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty as 1-2 punch, and a batch of solid blue-liners. Fletcher traded the Leafs’ 7th overall pick and 2nd- and 3rd-round picks to the Islanders to get Schenn. Leafs also acquired Jamal Mayers one day before this draft — Toronto had 10 relatively high picks but didn’t do much to restock the organization’s depth. Through trades, Burke would later add Joe Colborne (16th overall) and Jake Gardiner (17th) from this draft to the Leafs organization.

2007

First Round: No picks

Hidden Gems: Matt Frattin (4th round); Carl Gunarsson (7th)

GM: John Ferguson Jr.

Draft Class: Fergy was slammed for trading the Leafs first-round pick, (13th overall), a second- and a fourth rounder to San Jose for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell. The Sharks used the early pick to move up and draft Logan Couture (9th). The 13th pick wound up with St. Louis (Lars Eller). Toronto was desperate following a disappointing season in net with Andrew Raycroft. This would be Ferguson’s last draft, and he gambled on acquiring immediate goalie help; although he got excellent late-round value once the dust had settled.

2006

First Round: Jiri Tlusty (13th)

Status: Scored 17 goals in breakthrough season with the Carolina Hurricanes

Hidden Gems: Nik Kulemin (2nd round), James Reimer (4th); Viktor Stalberg (6th), and Leo Komarov (6th)

GM: John Ferguson Jr.

Draft Class: The top five went like this: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom and Phil Kessel. Tlusty was all skill, and though he didn’t pan out, Leafs didn’t miss much after Tlusty, outside of Claude Giroux (22nd). Ferguson and his staff were stellar with late-round value. The steal of the draft may have been Brad Marchand, taken in the 3rd round by the Bruins.

2005

First Round: Tuukka Rask (21st)

Status: Should be Boston’s No. 1 goalie with Tim Thomas taking next season off.

Hidden Gems: Anton Stralman (7th round), was in Sweden contemplating his career when the Rangers called.

GM: John Ferguson Jr.

Draft Class: A league-changing draft, topped by Sidney Crosby going first overall and rescuing the Penguins from bankruptcy. Rask was the top goalie at the 2006 world juniors, but the Leafs had Justin Pogge and needed veteran goalie help with Ed Belfour nearing retirement. Rask was traded for Andrew Raycroft, a deal that would hound Ferguson’s tenure in Toronto. Speaking of goalies, Jonathan Quick went in the 3rd round, 72nd overall. L.A. was teetering between Quick and Ben Bishop, who the Senators acquired in February from the Blues.

2004

First Round: none

Hidden Gems: Justin Pogge (3rd round) was the star of the 2005 world juniors and the reason Ferguson would trade Tuukka Rask.

GM: John Ferguson Jr.

Draft Class: Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went 1-2; Leafs sent their first-round pick, 24th overall (Kris Chucko) to the Rangers. Toronto was betting on a title run and acquired Brian Leetch and a conditional pick (Roman Kukemberg, 113th) for Maxim Kondratiev, Jarkko Immonen and that first rounder, as well as a second-round pick (Michael Sauer). Of note, New Jersey took soon-to-be free agent Travis Zajac with the 20th pick.

2003

First Round: None

Hidden Gems: John Mitchell (5th) has become a serviceable forward with the Rangers.

GM: Pat Quinn

Draft Class: Marc-Andre Fleury became only the third goalie taken first overall; some said this was the NHL’s deepest draft at the time, even better than the 1979 edition. Leafs traded away their first round pick (21st overall), and Alyn McCauley and Brad Boyes, for Owen Nolan. Quinn had playoff teams since 1998-99 and the practice of “mortgaging the future” was not heavily criticized as a result. That first rounder turned into defenceman Mark Stuart.

2002

First Round: Alex Steen (24th).

Status: A key player with the St. Louis Blues

Hidden Gems: Matt Stajan (2nd round), Ian White (6th)

GM: Pat Quinn

Draft Class: Another deep draft with Rick Nash going first overall. Cam Ward was selected immediately after Steen. Joffrey Lupul went 7th overall to the Ducks. Leafs added depth with goalie Todd Ford (3rd round) and defenceman Staffan Kronwall (9th).

MONTREAL CANADIENS

2011

First Round: Nathan Beaulieu (17)

Status: Finished out 2012 season at Memorial Cup with Saint John.

Hidden Gems: Olivier Archambault (4th round) and Magnus Nygren (4th). Habs were criticized mildly for taking defencemen with their first two picks. They traded their second pick, 78th overall, for the 97th and 108th picks, which got them D-man Josiah Didier and Archambault, a skilled forward. Nygren was passed over a few times in the draft, but so was Mark Streit in ‘04.

GM: Pierre Gauthier

Draft Class: Montreal, for the third straight season, did not draft a player in the higher rounds who could be considered a power forward. Beaulieu was considered one of the most NHL-ready players of his class, and Montreal was delighted he was available at the 17th pick (he was rated as high as No. 5 among North American skaters) but critics believe there’s not a lot of immediate, or promising, help in this class.

PHOTOS: MONTREAL CANADIENS’ FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS

2010

First Round: Jarred Tinordi (22)

Status: Starred with the London Knights in the OHL and at the Memorial Cup

Hidden Gems: Mark McMillan (4th round), out of the Albierni Valley of the BCHL, was considered one of the top three rookies in the BCHL for 2011. Montreal had not taken a BCHL player since Ryan O’Byrne in 2003.

GM: Pierre Gauthier

Draft Class: Tinordi was a primary target on Montreal’s radar. They swapped picks with Phoenix, sending the 27th and 57th selections in exchange for the 22nd and 113th. However, with their third-round pick previously traded away, Montreal did not have a second pick until the second day of the draft (4th round). Brendan Gallagher (5th) continued the club’s preference for small but highly skilled forwards while John Westin (7th) saw Montreal select from the Swedish League, something they rarely do.

2009

First Round: Louis Leblanc (18)

Status: played 42 games with Montreal in 2012 and was the youngest player on the roster at 20.

Hidden Gems: None

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: The draft was in Montreal and Habs fans cheered “Lou-ee, Lou-ee” when Leblanc was named. Local radio broadcasters also did high-fives after interviewing him, he was a popular choice. Ironically, after Leblanc’s big splash, the Montreal media began talking about the need for a big forward. Owner Pierrie Boivin, though, said the club’s mission was to have the home province represented at every level of the organization. It was argued prior to the draft in Montreal that Chris Kreider (6-foot-3, 230-pounds, 19th overall) was the pick for Montreal over Leblanc (6-foot-1, 186-pounds).

2008

First Round: none

Status: N/A

Hidden Gems: Danny Kristo (2nd round)

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: Montreal traded their first round pick (25th overall) and their 2009 second rounder to Calgary for Alex Tanguay and a fifth rounder. The club, normally loathe to trade picks for players, was brimming with confidence over its previous drafts, so it made a move for the present. Kristo became another highly skilled, but small forward on the depth chart (last three seasons at the University of North Dakota) Six-foot-eight goalie Jason Missiaen stalled in junior hockey with Peterborough and was not offered a contract after two years. Calgary took Greg Nemisz with that 25th overall pick.

2007

First Round: Ryan McDonagh (12) and Max Pacioretty (22)

Status: McDonagh is one of the Rangers’ top defencemen while Pacioretty is arguably Montreal’s top winger.

Hidden Gems: PK Subban (2nd round); Yanic Weber (3rd) and Olivier Fortier (3rd).

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: Gainey was nervous because McDonagh was his principle target, and he couldn’t get a workable trade to move up in the draft order to ensure Montreal would land him. Amazingly, after Montreal got their player, rumours spread that Montreal’s Minnesota scout was paid by the pick because McDonagh was the second consecutive Minnesota player chosen by the Habs. Two years later, McDonagh was packaged with Chris Higgins in a now infamous trade with the Rangers for Scott Gomez.

2006

First Round: David Fischer (20)

Status: bouncing around the minors

Hidden Gems: Ben Maxwell (2nd round) and Mathieu Carle (2nd), and Ryan White (3rd)

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: Montreal traded their 16th pick (turned out to be Ty Wishart) to San Jose for the 20th pick and the 53rd pick, which turned out to be Carle. The goal in this draft was to trade down and get a shot at Fischer. The Minnesota high schooler was coached by the local area scout, and the Habs felt they knew him better than anyone, including the NHL central scouting bureau, which ranked him 29th overall. Montreal was surprised when they had a chance at Maxwell in the second, and even more surprised in the third when White was available - they moved their 79th pick to the Flyers for the 66th pick just to ensure they got White. In hindsight, Montreal might have done better with Gatineaux’s Claude Giroux, who went 22nd overall.

2005

First Round: Carey Price (5)

Status: No. 1 goalie, one of the best in the game and a strong candidate to be Canada’s starting goalie at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Hidden Gems: Guillaume Latendresse (2nd round); Matt D’Agostini (5th); Sergei Kostitsyn (7th)

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: Crosby’s draft year and a watershed draft for hockey; Montreal’s results were as good as anyone’s. The club was flush with forwards and defencemen, so attention was turned to acquiring a franchise goalie - and there was Price. The rest is history ... but Montreal sacrificed two picks to the Rangers to move up to 45th in the second round and get Latendresse (who was second overall in the 2003 QMJHL draft behind Crosby). Latendresse made the Canadiens as a 19-year-old and became the first NHLer to wear No. 84.

2004

First Round: Kyle Chipchura (18)

Status: spent 2012 with Phoenix Coyotes

Hidden Gems: Mikhail Grabovski (5th); Mark Streit (9th)

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: Gainey had been wheeling and dealing picks for players and improved draft positioning the past two years. In 2004, he sent a second-round pick and Josef Balej to the Rangers for Alex Kovalev. Streit proved to be one of the biggest steals of the decade; Montreal got him thanks to a compensatory pick for losing group 3 free agent Bill Lindsay to Atlanta the year before (he became a colour commentator for the Panthers). Chipchura was a solid two-way player but never panned out in Montreal; Streit left for a rich contract with the Islanders, but was the best player Montreal took in a very good draft.

2003

First Round: Andrei Kostitsyn (10)

Status: playing in Nashville after playing most of seven seasons in Montreal.

Hidden Gems: Maxim Lapierre (2nd); Ryan O’Byrne (3rd); Jaroslav Halak (9th).

GM: Bob Gainey

Draft Class: A new management regime headed by Gainey dove into the draft with 11 picks; eight of those picks were still with the team five years later. This was considered one of the top-two, if not the best, draft of the decade in Montreal. The franchise took a risk on Kostitsyn, who was suffering from anxiety and seizures that some incorrectly thought was epilepsy. Gainey would go on to show great results from rounds 2 and 3, and began this year with Lapierre (a pick acquired in a trade that sent Guy Chouinard to the Kings) and O’Byrne. Halak would prove the best pick of all and one of the great finds (9th round, 271st overall) in the decade.

2002

First Round: Chris Higgins (14)

Status: Now playing with the Vancouver Canucks.

Hidden Gems: Andre Deveaux (6), now with the Rangers organization, served parts of four seasons with the Leafs.

GM: Andre Savard

Draft Class: This was Rick Nash’s draft (first overall) and the Habs did well enough in landing Higgins. As years went by, though, and especially after 2009, the franchise would be criticized for what appeared to be a small detail back in 2002 - the failure to draft Quebec-born Maxime Talbot. The homegrown product was an impact player in the Stanley Cup championship run by the 2009 Penguins, who took him in the 8th round, 234th overall.

OTTAWA SENATORS

2011

First Round: Mika Zibanejad (6th); Stefan Noesen (21st); Matt Puempel (24th)

Status: Zibanejad appeared in nine NHL games before returning to the Swedish Elite League; Noesen played a third season with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers; Puempel got into nine games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators.

Hidden Gems: Shane Prince (2nd round); Jean-Gabriel Pageau (4th)

GM: Bryan Murray

Draft Class: Some shock and criticism for Murray in Ottawa when he went with Zibanejad over Sean Couturier (8th overall to Philly). More surprise in that Ottawa went with Noesen in the first round when his Central Scouting Ranking was 35th. No matter, Noesen had an excellent season and playoffs for the Whalers; all of their top six picks after Zibanejad had great years offensively. This draft heralded a rebuild in Ottawa and all their picks showed inspiring offensive talent.

PHOTOS: OTTAWA SENATORS’ FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS

2010

First Round: No picks

Hidden Gems: Mark Stone (6th round)

GM: Bryan Murray

Draft Class: Third year in a row Ottawa used its high round pick to land a D-man, only this time, Murray traded away the 16th overall pick to St. Louis to land David Rundblad, who was the Blues first rounder (17th overall) in 2009 (Murray opted for this when a forward the franchise was high on was taken before the Sens’ pick). Murray moved Rundblad this year to Phoenix for Kyle Turris, which proved to be a pivotal trade in the Sens’ unexpected playoff season. In Stone, they have an interesting pick who is projected as a potential agitator who can score goals.

2009

First Round: Jared Cowen (9th)

Status: played in all 82 games for the Senators last season.

Hidden Gems: Robin Lehner (2nd round)

GM: Bryan Murray

Draft Class: Cowen proved an astute pick who would play a key role in the Senators quick turnaround. The second-round pick — Jakob Silfverberg (39th overall) — was the 12th ranked skater on the European draft charts. Ottawa had a third-round pick from the Pascal Leclaire trade and went with Lehner, whose father was Henrik Lundqvist’s goalie coach in Sweden.

2008

First Round: Erik Karlsson (15th)

Status: Breakout season in 2011-12, Norris Trophy candidate

Hidden Gems: Patrick Wiercioch (2nd round), Zack Smith (3rd)

GM: Bryan Murray

Draft Class: Murray moved his first-round pick (18th) and third rounder to move up and take Karlsson. Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson announced the pick, and it proved to be sensational. Wiercioch wound up with Binghamton in the AHL this season past, due in part to the depth at the NHL level. Smith, the former captain of the Swift Current Broncos, came up midway through the 2010-11 season and hasn’t looked back. He played in 81 games last season and appeared in every playoff game the past two seasons.

2007

First Round: Jim O’Brien (29th)

Status: Bounced between the AHL and NHL the past two seasons.

Hidden Gems: None

GM: Bryan Murray

Draft Class: Murray took over the GM post just over a month prior to the draft. He took O’Brien with his first pick, and the defenceman turned forward began scoring in droves in the WHL. He’s on the radar in Ottawa, but may end up being a checking centre. Kyle Turris was taken third overall by Phoenix and would become a major piece to the Sens puzzle when acquired at the trade deadline in 2012.

2006

First Round: Nick Foligno (28th)

Status: Power forward on the roster

Hidden Gems: Kaspars Daugavins (3rd round), Kevin Koopman (6th)

GM: John Muckler

Draft Class: Foligno proved a solid pick at 28th overall. Daugavins became an enforcer and an integral part of 2012’s surprising playoff run. He caught the attention of scouts as a 16-year-old playing on Latvia’s entry at the 2006 world championships. Koopman (181st overall) has played in Ottawa the past two years.

2005

First Round: Brian Lee (9th)

Status: Depth player before dealt to Tampa.

Hidden Gems: Colin Greening (7th round)

GM: John Muckler

Draft Class: Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal were taken 11th and 12th respectively in a draft rich with prospects, and one that featured Sidney Crosby first overall. Lee was a rare miss for the Sens. First rounders in 11 of the club’s first 13 drafts played 300 or more games in the NHL. Ottawa also found Pavol Demitra (1993) and Sami Salo (1996) in the ninth round, and Daniel Alfredsson in the sixth round (1994). Greening was arguably the best player from this draft for Ottawa.

2004

First Round: Andrej Meszaros (23rd)

Status: A solid, hard-hitting defenceman who was a key player with the Flyers

Hidden Gems: Peter Reagan (3rd round)

GM: John Muckler

Draft Class: Meszaros’ stock rose rapidly in the final month prior to the draft and then dropped to 23rd overall where the Sens were all too happy to scoop him up. Ottawa’s draft history up to this point was dominated by scoring forwards and they needed a solid defensive prospect. Reagan was an oddity in that he played his hockey in Herning, Denmark. It wasn’t a hockey hotbed, but Reagan became a solid addition to the franchise.

2003

First Round: Patrick Eaves (29th)

Status: became a solid NHLer and is with the Detroit Red Wings now.

Hidden Gems: Brian Elliott (9th round)

GM: John Muckler

Draft Class: After Eaves, it seemed the Sens would harvest little out of this draft. They took Will Colbert (7th) as the only Ottawa 67 they had ever drafted up to that time. Elliott came along late and held the promise of a No. 1 goalie — unfortunately for Ottawa, that realization arrived this season for Elliott, as a member of the Blues.

2002

First Rounders: Jakub Klepsis (16th)

Status: Played with Moscow in the KHL last season.

Hidden Gems: Alexei Kaigorodov (2nd round)

GM: Marshall Johnston

Draft Class: Having landed Jason Spezza in the first round in 2001, Ottawa came back for Klepsis, who became a hot trade commodity in his first two years after the draft. Ottawa sent him to Buffalo for Vaclav Varada, and the Sabres sent him to Washington for Mike Grier. Kaigorodov became relevant in that he was traded to Phoenix for Mike Comrie.

CALGARY FLAMES

2011

First Round: Sven Bartschi (13th)

Status: Scored three goals in five games with the Flames this past season.

Hidden Gems: Markus Granlund (2nd round); John Gaudreau (4th)

GM: Jay Feaster

Draft Class: This was Feaster’s first draft as Flames GM and he pulled off a huge, and to some, hugely disappointing, trade in sending rugged, veteran defenceman Robyn Regehr to Buffalo. Beyond all the whining, Feaster rid the franchise of Ales Kotalik’s contract (but had to throw in a second-rounder for the Sabres to go for it), and freed up $6 million in cap space. He also signed Alex Tanguay (Iginla’s set-up man) long term. Bartschi (finalist for WHL rookie of the year) was not expected to be around at 13th overall; Granlund was captain of Finland’s under-18 team and Gaudreau was the USHL’s rookie of the year. Maybe not a slam dunk draft, but an interesting one for Feaster.

PHOTOS: CALGARY FLAMES’ FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS

2010

First Round: No picks

Hidden Gems: Max Reinhart (3rd round), Joey Leach (3rd)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: Reinhart, son of former Flame Paul Reinhart, was ranked 74th coming into the draft and was taken 64th by the Flames. Leach was an astute pick, an offensively capable big man with decent fighting skills. Calgary did not have a first- or second-round pick, due to trades (their first round pick, 13th overall, went to the Coyotes and turned out to be Brandon Gormley).

2009

First Round: Tim Erixon (23rd)

Status: Traded to the Rangers and spent 2012 in the AHL.

Hidden Gems: Ryan Howse (3rd round)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: Post-draft references to Erixon turned into “Erixongate” when he refused to sign with the Flames. Facing a no-return scenario if they didn’t sign him by 2011, the Flames traded him to the Rangers for Roman Horak and a pair of second-round picks (Markus Granlund and Tyler Wootherspoon). Erixon’s father Jan was a former Ranger and now, the younger Erixson, a defenceman, is said to exhibit the same “defensive” projections as his father once did as a forward.

2008

First Round: Greg Nemisz (25th)

Status: Spent last season in Abbotsford, but was called up for nine games.

Hidden Gems: Lance Bouma (3rd round)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: this was expected to be an overhaul year, and Sutter snapped off two trades at the draft, getting Mike Cammalleri in a three-way deal with the Kings and Ducks for their 17th overall pick, and getting back into the first round with the 25th pick from Montreal for Alex Tanguay. That 17th pick turned out to be Jake Gardiner, now with the Leafs. Bouma, meanwhile, got into 27 games this season with Calgary.

2007

First Round: Mikael Backlund (24th)

Status: part of the Flames for the past three seasons.

Hidden Gems: Keith Aulie (4th round)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: Sutter dropped from 18th to 24th overall in a deal with St. Louis that also included a third rounder 70th overall (John Negrin). Backlund dropped down in the draft, mainly due to a knee injury that limited him in his draft year. The 18th pick became Ian Cole; Aulie proved a great return for a third rounder and wound up with the Leafs, and then a part of the Norfolk Admirals that defeated the Toronto Marlies for the 2012 Calder Cup.

2006

First Round: Leland Irving (26th)

Status: Got in seven games with Calgary this past season.

Hidden Gems: None

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: The big move was a trade that brought Alex Tanguay back to Calgary. Having used Mikka Kiprusoff in 74 games the year before, Calgary used its pick to land a goalie they hoped would take the load off their star No. 1 goalie. Irving has yet to deliver on that front. His seven games with Calgary this past season are his only NHL games — time is running out for him.

2005

First Round: Matt Pelech (26th)

Status: never played in the NHL for Calgary and spent last season in the AHL with Worcester (San Jose).

Hidden Gems: Brett Sutter (6th round)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: The Flames were said to be interested in drafting offensive talent, but since the talent pool was picked clean by the 26th pick, they went with Pelech. The defenceman from Toronto was solid but never panned out in Calgary — he and his brothers, Michael and Adam, are nephews to Vancouver GM Mike Gillis. Sutter played 18 games for Calgary and is now with the Hurricanes.

2004

First Round: Kris Chucko (24th)

Status: Retired in 2001 due to concussions

Hidden Gems: Brandon Prust (3rd round) and Dustin Boyd (3rd)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: Sutter was coming off a tremendous run to the Stanley Cup final, so he swapped his 19th overall pick (Lauri Korpikoski) with the Rangers for 24th overall, and a second rounder (46th). That second rounder was then sent to Columbus for a pair of third rounders. Prust was a tough forward out of London and is a key component of the Rangers. Boyd was thought for a time to be the Flames’ best pick but he bounced to Nashville and Montreal before spending this past season in the KHL with Astana Barys.

2003

First Round: Dion Phaneuf (9th)

Status: Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Hidden Gems: Greg Moore (6th round)

GM: Darryl Sutter

Draft Class: Sutter wanted Phaneuf badly and attempted to move up from his 9th overall pick to get him. This draft was long on offensive talent so Sutter was relieved when Phaneuf was still available. Calgary had great value in first-round defencemen in the past — Derek Morris in 1995 and Dennis Gauthier in 1996 — so there was a ton of hype with Phaneuf. Sutter had a pair of second-round picks but traded the second of them to San Jose for a 3rd, 5th, and 6th rounder. Calgary added nine players in this draft but Phaneuf was the big fish.

2002

First Round: Eric Nystrom (10th)

Status: Playing with the Dallas Stars

Hidden Gems: Matt Lombardi (3rd round)

GM: Craig Button

Draft Class: Nystrom is the son of Bob Nystrom and proved a decent pick. But this draft drew attention for the fact that the Flames lost Jarret Stoll for a second time. Calgary drafted Stoll 46th overall in 2000 but were unable to sign him. They traded him to the Leafs, who signed him to a contract but had the entire effort scuttled because their fax machine apparently did not work and prevented the contract from arriving at NHL HQ by the signing deadline. Stoll re-entered the draft in 2002 and was claimed 36th overall by Edmonton, and that created a buzz in Calgary. Lombardi was highly coveted by the Oilers in the third round, but Calgary beat them to the punch with the 90th pick.

EDMONTON OILERS

2011

First Round: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1st overall); Oscar Klefbom (19th)

Status: Nugent-Hopkins is a finalist for NHL rookie of the year; Klefbom spent 2012 in the Swedish Elite League (Farjestads)

Hidden Gems: David Musil (2nd round); Dillon Simpson (4th)

GM: Steve Tambellini

Draft Class: Hopkins had a dynamite rookie season. The Oilers were said to be looking strongly at defenceman Adam Larsson with the top pick to address their need for a top blue-liner. In the end, they took Klefbom with their second first-round pick. Musil is the son of former Oiler and current scout Frank Musil, while Simpson is the son of former Oiler and CBC commentator Craig Simpson. Both are highly rated blue-liners as well and give the organization promising depth on the blue line.

2010

First Round: Taylor Hall (1st overall)

Status: Shoulder surgery after an injury prone 2012 with the Oilers, but still one of the game’s great young players.

Hidden Gems: Tyler Pitlick (2nd round), Martin Marincin (2nd), Curtis Hamilton (2nd)

GM: Steve Tambellini

Draft Class: Hall became the Oilers first ever first overall selection, and he’s one to build around. Debate loomed over whether Hall or Tyler Seguin should — or would — go No. 1, but no matter, they’re both great. All three second rounders played in the AHL in 2012, and could become factors at the 2012-13 camp. Edmonton traded their unsigned 2007 first-round pick (Riley Nash) to Carolina for a second-round pick that turned out to be Marincin.

PHOTOS: EDMONTON OILERS’ FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS

2009

First Round: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (10th)

Status: Inconsistencies led to a demotion to the AHL in 2012

Hidden Gems: Anton Lander (2nd round); Cameron Abney (3rd)

GM: Steve Tambellini

Draft Class: Tambellini worked the phones and the floor at the draft, looking to move up to land the highly-rated Paajarvi-Svensson. The asking price was just too high, so he was relieved when the Swedish speedster was still available. Edmonton went back to Sweden to take Lander, Paajarvi’s teammate, with the second pick. They took a run at Abney in the third (82nd); a big body with questionable skill, but the Oilers drafted a similar type player in Zack Stortini (92nd in 2003) and saw good value out of him.

2008

First Round: Jordan Eberle (22nd)

Status: Scored 34 goals in his sophomore year

Hidden Gems: Teemu Hartikainen (6th round)

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: Eberle was a special pick and not just because of his scoring exploits: The franchise had just lost long-time scout Lorne Davis, who had worked for the Oilers for 30 years. Davis lived in Regina and once coached the Pats. Fittingly, the Oilers chose Eberle, a Pats product who became an instant hero in Edmonton. Hartikainen, meanwhile, got into 17 games with the Oil last season; at the draft, he was compared to Tomas Holmstrom.

2007

First Round: Sam Gagner (6th); Alex Plante (11th); Riley Nash (21st)

Status: Gagner had a breakout season in 2012 and was still mentioned in trade rumours with the Leafs. Plante has been called up for 10 games over the past three seasons; and Nash has worked his way up to the AHL.

Hidden Gems: Linus Omark (4th round)

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: With three first-round picks, this was billed as one of the most important drafts in Oilers history. Lowe attempted to trade up from the 6th overall pick, but nothing materialized. It came down to choice between Gagner and Jakub Voracek. Lowe went with Gagner, in part because he had a history with other top Edmonton prospects like Danny Syvret, Andrew Cogliano, Rob Schremp, and Ryan O’Marra. Edmonton took Plante above Alex Cherapanov and Angelo Esposito, then packaged the 30th and 36th overall picks they had to Phoenix to move up to the 21st overall pick. Many thought Lowe would go with Mikael Backlund with that selection, but the Oilers defied popular thinking again and went with Nash.

2006

First Round: No picks

Hidden Gems: Jeff Petry (2nd round), Theo Peckham (3rd)

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: with no first round picks (traded away), Edmonton sought to improve their blue line, and did so with Petry, the top blue-liner in the USHL, and Peckham, the Richmond Hill native and a tough customer in the OHL. Both have been part of the Oilers NHL roster for the past 2-3 seasons.

2005

First Round: Andrew Cogliano (25th)

Status: With Anaheim Ducks in 2012

Hidden Gems: Taylor Chorney (2nd round) Danny Syvret (3rd)

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: Edmonton fell on hard luck again in this draft — they were hoping to land T.J. Oshie, but the Blues took him with the 24th pick. In shifting gears on the run, the Oilers went with Cogliano, who they said they had ranked right next to Oshie. Cogliano has played every regular season game in each of the last five NHL seasons. Chorney wound up playing in the NHL with Edmonton, while Syvret was considered a steal in the 3rd round.

2004

First Round: Devan Dubnyk (14th); Rob Schremp (25th)

Status: Dubnyk has spent parts of the past three seasons in Edmonton while Schremp spent 2012 in Sweden after several years with Edmonton and the Islanders in the NHL.

Hidden Gems: Liam Reddox (4th)

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: Rumours abounded that Edmonton was looking to trade up from the 14th spot to draft Drew Stafford, but Buffalo beat them to the punch with the 13th pick. Plan B had been A.J. Thelen and Lauri Tukonen, who were selected 11th and 12th overall. So, with the plan in flux, Edmonton admittedly went against the grain with Dubnyk, behind a strong recommendation from goalie scout John Stevenson. Schremp, meanwhile, was the player every Edmonton fan expected from the 14th pick.

2003

First Round: Marc-Antoine Pouliot (22nd)

Status: Now in the Phoenix Coyotes organization

Hidden Gems: Zach Stortini (3rd round), Kyle Brodziak (7th); Troy Bodie (9th)

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: Lowe, after trying to trade up, made a deal with New Jersey to drop down from 17th to 22nd (added another late round pick in the process). Pouliot proved a serviceable forward, something the Oilers received in droves from this draft. They also landed Stortini, the captain of the Sudbury Wolves, who would be Edmonton’s enforcer for the next several seasons.

2002

First Round: Jesse Niinimaki (15th)

Status: Never played an NHL game and is back with Ilves Tampere in the Finnish league.

Hidden Gems: Jarrett Stoll (2nd round), Matt Greene (2nd).

GM: Kevin Lowe

Draft Class: The newly crowned Stanley Cup Champions may be thanking the Oilers for this draft — both Stoll and Greene played key roles for the Kings and have been stalwart players in L.A. for the past few seasons. There was a huge buzz in Edmonton over this draft — three Edmonton natives, Joffrey Lupul, Jay Bouwmeester, and Scottie Upshall — were in Edmonton’s radar, but all were taken ahead of the 15th pick. They went with Niinimaki, a move that surprised everyone at the draft tables in Toronto. But Edmonton had tremendous success in taking Finnish players in the draft, and the word on Niinimaki was that he could be the best player ever to come out of Finland.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

2011

First Round: Nicklas Jensen (29th)

Status: Spent 2012 with the Oshawa Generals.

Hidden Gems: David Hoznik (3rd), Ludwig Blomstrand (4th).

GM: Mike Gillis

Draft Class: Jensen was one of several first-round rated talents available at the 29th pick, and Vancouver hung the jersey on his back. Jensen’s father, Dan, played in the OHL before returning home to play in Denmark for 16 years. Hoznik was insurance in case Cory Schneider became part of a trade. Blomstrand was a bit of a surprise pick but the Canucks have a good one in European scout Thomas Gradin, and they listened to his recommendation on this pick. Blomstrand, like Jensen, is expected to blossom in the next few years.

PHOTOS: VANCOUVER CANUCKS’ FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS

2010

First Round: No picks

Hidden Gems: Adam Polasek (5th round)

GM: Mike Gillis

Draft Class: Vancouver traded away most of their high round picks for this draft: the second rounder went to Buffalo in exchange for Steve Bernier back in 2008; the third rounder to Carolina for Andrew Alberts in 2010; and prior to the 2010 draft, the Panthers got Vancouver’s first rounder, plus Bernier and Michael Grabner for Keith Ballard. All of this hinged on the condition that the player Vancouver wanted was not available at the 25th spot. Vancouver really wanted Jarred Tinordi, but the Canadiens traded up to grab him at 22nd. Some depth was added, the most interesting being Polasek, a hard-rock defenceman who showed promise in 46 games t his past season with Chicago of the AHL.

2009

First Round: Jordan Schroeder (22nd).

Status: Had a solid season with Chicago in the AHL, his third season in the minors.

Hidden Gems: Anton Rodin (2nd round), Kevin Connauton (3rd)

GM: Mike Gillis

Draft Class: This draft featured four U.S. college picks, leading with Schroeder, who starred for the U.S. with 11 points at the world juniors and had a stellar year at the University of Minnesota. Rodin is the same type of player — a forward with NHL-ready playmaking abilities — and the Canucks certainly have good depth not only in these two picks, but several others from this draft.

2008

First Round: Cody Hodgson (10th)

Status: Traded to Buffalo

Hidden Gems: Yann Sauve (2nd round)

GM: Mike Gillis

Draft Class: Hodgson exited Vancouver this year amid controversy with management. Many observers and fans felt Vancouver acted too rashly, and that Buffalo would soon reap the value of what many felt was the best forward in the draft next to Steven Stamkos. Sauve gives the Canucks a big defenceman, and a good pick to go with another big blue-liner — Daniel Rahimi, taken in the third round in 2006.

2007

First Round: Patrick White (25th)

Status: Went from four years in U.S. college hockey to spending last season in the German league.

Hidden Gems: None

GM: Dave Nonis

Draft Class: Not a great draft. None of the first seven picks have played a game in the NHL. Nonis made a deal to acquire the 33rd overall pick, but that pick turned out to be defenceman Taylor Ellington, who spent the past two seasons in the ECHL. P.K. Subban, by the way, went 43rd overall in this draft.

2006

First Round: Michael Grabner (14th)

Status: Starring with the New York Islanders now.

Hidden Gems: Daniel Rahimi (3rd round)

GM: Dave Nonis

Draft Class: This draft was characterized as an “average” draft by Vancouver’s front office. Vancouver, with more than 30 per cent of its drafts coming from U.S. college hockey in recent years, went with the explosive, swift Grabner. Rahimi was highly recommended by Thomas Gradin. Top round picks were previously dealt away in favour of immediate help for the playoffs.

2005

First Round: Luc Bourdon (10th)

Status: Passed away in a motorcycle accident

Hidden Gems: Mason Raymond (2nd)

GM: Dave Nonis

Draft Class: This was the beginning of a draft drought that would last for three years in Vancouver. Bad drafts they weren’t; just not long on NHL-ready players. Bourdon was a good example: while coming highly-rated, Canucks fans watched as Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal were taken immediately after the 10th pick. Raymond proved to be the best player in the draft for Vancouver, and has become a solid piece in a strong playoff team in Vancouver the past two seasons.

2004

First Round: Cory Schneider (26th)

Status: Spent 2012 with Vancouver and should inherit the No. 1 status if Roberto Luongo is moved.

Hidden Gems: Alex Edler (3rd round), Mike Brown (5th), Jannik Hansen (7th)

GM: Dave Nonis

Draft Class: Schneider became an astute pick out of this class; he made it known at the draft that he would attend Boston College. He went 13-4-1 in his rookie season there and has been waiting on Vancouver’s doorstep ever since. Edler was another good pick while Brown, who came to the Brian Burke-Nonis led Leafs via Anaheim, is a solid player with the Leafs now.

2003

First Round: Ryan Kesler (23rd)

Status: Won the Selke Trophy in 2011

Hidden Gems: Nathan McIver (8th round)

GM: Brian Burke

Draft Class: This was Burke’s final draft for Vancouver, and while he never drafted strong in later rounds, his high-end picks transformed the franchise into what it is today. Kesler was another good example to go along with Bieksa and the Sedins. Amazingly, Burke told the Sloan Sports Conference in Boston this past winter that he decided on his first pick in this draft after watching one shift — that’s right, one shift — that Kesler played at Ohio State. Burke had downplayed the significance of Sabermetrics at the conference, so this was just for the benefit of the stats geeks at the conference.

2002

First Round: No picks

Hidden Gems: None

GM: Brian Burke

Draft Class: With no first-round picks, and only two late in the second round, this draft wasn’t shaping up to be memorable in any way; ultimately, it proved to be, arguably, the worst in team history. The first 10 picks played an average of 0.09 NHL games in their careers — only one, goalie Rob McVicar, actually saw an NHL game. The Canucks, though, had an exciting young team. Their big need was goaltending, and they’d have to wait two years to finally land one.

WINNIPEG JETS

The Winnipeg Jets were not included in this process because, well, they were the Atlanta Thrashers until last season. Here are their first-round selections in the last 10 drafts:

2011 Mark Schiefele (7th)

As Atlanta Thrashers

2010 Alex Burmistrov (8th)

2009 Evander Kane (4th)

2008 Zach Bogosian (3rd), Daulton Leveille (29th)

2006 Bryan Little (12th)

2005 Alex Bourret (12th)

Notable: Ondrej Pavelec, 2nd round

2004 Boris Valabik (10th)

2003 Braydon Coburn (8th)

Notable: Tobias Enstrom, 8th round

2002 Kari Lehtonen (2nd); Jim Slater (30th)

NBA Final: Lebron James Mellows Outs, But Still Dominates Competition

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(Jun 20, 2012) MIAMI—An introspective LeBron James knows he hasn’t handled himself as well as he should
in the past and now on the precipice of his greatest NBA triumph, he vows to behave far better.

A year ago he was sullen and angry and lashed out when the Miami Heat lost the NBA final to the Dallas Mavericks, a black mark on a career that’s had a few of them.

But now, with the Heat a game away from eliminating the Oklahoma City Thunder to earn his first championship after two failed attempts, James is at peace with himself and contrite over the way he was.

FULL NBA FINAL COVERAGE

That contrition, that comfort level, that introspection provide an interesting look into the mind and personality of one of the world’s most famous athletes but one who is seemingly in the middle of a transformative era.

“Last year … I was very frustrated, I was very hurt that I let my teammates down, and I was very immature,” James said Wednesday. “Like I said, last year I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun and playing a game that I grew up loving.

“So I was very immature last year after Game 6 (a final loss to the Dallas Mavericks) towards you guys (the media) and towards everyone that was watching.”

That surliness — James said he was happy to go back to his life after losing because it was better than anyone in the media’s — painted a picture of a petulant athlete lashing out because of his own failures.

It led to even more of a backlash against the 27-year-old lightning rod but all James has done this year is dominate on the court and carry himself more professionally off it. He spoke early in the Finals about being comfortable with his game and his life and all he’s done in the first four games is lay waste to the Thunder to the tune of 29.3 points, 10 rebounds and six assists per game as the Heat take a 3-1 lead into Thursday’s Game 5.

“He’s been through a helluva lot these past two years and that makes you stronger,” said teammate Chris Bosh.

“Just the fact he can come out and play and show his strength of mind and will to win, that’s just really important for everybody else to see, not only us but everybody in the stands and watching on TV. It shows how much a person can really have some perseverance and grow.”

James has been virtually unstoppable on the court in part because he’s more calm away from it. He remains one of the game’s top competitors — single-minded and focused — but an off-the-court reading program has fuelled that competitive spirit.

James spends about half an hour before every game deep in some book, he’s run through The Hunger Games and a biography of Jerry West so far in the playoffs and is currently reading Jay-Z’s Decoded. It’s a way to relax and escape.

“It just slows my mind down,” he said. “Throughout the playoffs all you think about is basketball, all you want to do is play basketball but at the same time it can become a lot, it can become to a point where it’s overloading to the mind, and you think about it too much.

“The reading … just gives me an opportunity just to read and think about something else, and get a sense of what else is going on besides the game of basketball.

“I’m not saying it’s the trick, it’s just something that I decided to do at the beginning of the post-season, and it’s worked for me.”

Euro 2012: Cathal Kelly’s Highlights Of The Tournament So Far

Source: www.thestar.com - Cathal Kelly

(June 20, 2012) Since it’s been two weeks in country and we’ve now mastered the local tongue, today we will
begin making the slow transition to printing all these stories in Polish.

That should be accomplished sometime around July — when I’ve vanished up the river in a PT boat looking for Kurtz, and a Pole has been hired to take my place.

Today marks the first moment of pause in the tournament. A day off while the quarter-finalists gather themselves.

This is a time for reflection, because unless I live in the past I’m stuck living in the present — and there isn’t a damn thing going on in the present.

So, off to the TorStar Time Machine.

——

Group Stages All-Star XI
GK – Joe Hart, England
D – Jordi Alba, Spain
D – Mats Hummels, Germany
D – Daniele De Rossi, Italy
M – Steven Gerrard, England
M – Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
M – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany
M – Andrea Pirlo, Italy
M – Andres Iniesta, Spain
F – Mario Gomez, Germany
Subs:
GK – Manuel Neuer, Germany
D – Mathieu Debuchy, France
D – Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Greece
M – Jaroslav Plasil, Czech Republic
M – Xavi, Spain
F – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
Mole – Wesley Sneijder, in a cunning bit of turnaround

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MVP of the tournament: German forward Mario Gomez, famous for his ability to knock balls in from a centimeter behind from the goal line, has been the nail driven through the flat head of the German hammer. The rest of them tenderize you. Gomez puts you out of your misery.

LVP of the tournament: Irish goalkeeper Shay Given, who will now go home and begin dropping Faberge eggs, hand grenades with the pins removed and any small child someone is foolish enough to pass him.

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Manager of the Tournament: Oleg Blokhin, Ukraine, for playing down a terrible stereotype about old Soviet managers and threatening to take a reporter outside for a “man conversation” after his team’s loss to England.

What’s interesting about the video of that post-game presser — done up like an Italian soccer chat show, including pretty hostess in Ukraine-themed, low-cut mini-dress — was the sad, obligatory applause from all involved after everything Blokhin said.

“And a toast to Comrade Stalin. God help the first one of you who stops clapping.”

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Goal of the tournament: It didn’t matter much in the end, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being scouted by the X-Men after this suspiciously non-human volley against France. It’s the whole reason he gets a sub spot on the All-Star XI.

Second place to Cristiano Ronaldo’s full-length of the field give-and-go against Netherlands.

Third place to Mario Balotelli against Ireland, who would make it onto this list even if he hadn’t managed to score a goal. We just like him.

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Save of the tournament: Leonardo Bonucci’s move to gag Balotelli after the goal mentioned above.

Second place to Croatian Stipe Pletikosa for his double, short-range stop against Italy’s Claudio Marchisio.

And a mention for Hart’s terrific mid-air adjustment to stop a screaming knuckler from Ukrainian Evhen Konoplyanka.

No video on those last two. Mail me a blank sheet of paper, and I’ll draw them for you.

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Surprise of the tournament: That the Czechs and the Dutch were able to swap their entire teams without anyone noticing. I mean, Arjen Robben is pretty bald and all those Czechs are fairly elaborately coiffured.

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I have curled into a small, protective ball on the ground. Begin kicking.

::MOTIVATION::

Our world and our lives have become increasingly interdependent, so when our neighbour is harmed, it affects us too. Therefore we have to abandon outdated notions of "them" and "us" and think of our world much more in terms of a great "US", a greater human family.

Source:
Dalai Lama