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May 10, 2012

It's Mother's Day on Sunday ... tell that special woman how much her influence in your life has manifested itself. Especially the things that you've learned from her or appreciate about her. It certainly is a huge undertaking to raise children, whether yours or your neighbour's or your community's. Put aside any differences ... it doesn't take much to make her day and say thanks for all the positive things you've learned; and I'm sending myself a message in that regard too. Celebrate the Mother or the mother figure in your life!

Have you had the chance to check out the new
Maroon 5 album yet? Believe me, it's worth a listen so read about it under SCOOP. Free copies coming your way soon so stay tuned!

Don't forget to check out the tags that have
VIDEO on them so you can watch music videos and/or film trailers! And also, remember you can click on any title or picture to get to the full article OR choose your favourite subject under TABLE OF CONTENTS (listed to the right).

In this weeks news: Steve Nash takes on a new title in basketball; Bryan Adams captures his audience; the Canadian star, Cobie Smulders, kicks some butt in the Avengers; Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys dies from cancer; and some good tips for how to save money on your cell phone bill (READ IT); and so much more. Check it all out under TOP STORIES.

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


Maroon 5 Announce New Album, Overexposed, To Release June 26

Source: Universal Music Canada

Adam Levine acknowledges that the title of the new
Maroon 5 album is something of an inside joke—a wink at the Los Angeles-based band’s seeming omnipresence, particularly in the wake of the frontman’s joining the cast of NBC’s The Voice and of “Moves Like Jagger,” the 2011 smash that topped charts in 18 countries across the globe and became one of the most paid downloaded songs in history.

“It’s like, ‘We get it—we’re overexposed,’” Levine says with a laugh. “We’re just trying to preemptively go where the conversation is headed anyway. We figured we’d get there first.”

Check this out, though: If Overexposed gets at the truth of Maroon 5’s sky-high visibility—perhaps you’re reading these words in preparation for spreading the word a little further yourself—the title carries another meaning, as well, one that runs a few inches below the surface of things. After a decade of activity in which the 3 time Grammy-winning quintet has gone from playing tiny L.A. clubs to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, this album captures Maroon 5’s decision to open itself up to risk.

“I feel like we’ve been standing on the edge of a cliff for a long time,” Levine says. “We’re a band that’s always been close to being full-on pop, but that’s rooted in a lot of other things: rock, soul, funk, the list goes on. Overexposed is the first time we’ve ever completely embraced the idea of making pop music—of making songs for the radio. We just said, ‘Let’s not be afraid to do what we basically are.’”

The decision was more than a matter of mindset. “Moves Like Jagger” marked the band’s entrance into the waters
of co-writing; until then Levine and his bandmates—guitarist James Valentine, bassist Mickey Madden, drummer Matt Flynn and keyboardist PJ Morton (currently filling in for Jesse Carmichael, who’s on hiatus)—had prided themselves on the fact that they handled all of the oufit’s music in-house. “But ‘Jagger’ was an amazing experience,” says Valentine, “so we figured we’d try it again.”

The result, Maroon 5’s fourth studio set, contains collaborations with longtime hitmaker Max Martin served as the album’s executive producer, with additional tracks produced by Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Gym Class Heroes) and Ryan Tedder (Beyoncé, OneRepublic).

“We gravitated toward certain people for various reasons,” Levine says, pointing to Maroon 5’s 2010 tour with OneRepublic as an example. “But when you get down to it, there’s a reason that the best writers in the world are as successful as they are. And there’s a lot of people on this record who had never been in a room together until we put them there. We were into making these strange concoctions that don’t exist in the rules.”

Indeed, cuts like the electro-reggae “One More Night” and lead single “Payphone,” with a guest verse by rapper Wiz Khalifa, demonstrate how difficult it is to categorize Maroon 5’s; the same goes for the funked-up ballad “Beautiful Goodbye” and “Doin’ Dirt,” a propulsive disco-rock jam with harmonies that Valentine says reveal the influence of Hall & Oates.

“I love how ‘Payphone’ seems like a such sweet song until the chorus comes in,” Levine says, referring to the part of that tune where he declares, “All those fairy tales are full of shit / One more fucking love song, I’ll be sick.” “It’s totally subverting the song in this way that makes you lean in and listen,” he adds.

“I think I might be most stoked on ‘Fortune Teller,’ which started on my laptop while we were in the lounge at Conway Studios in L.A.,” says Valentine. “We’re literally feet away from millions of dollars of the world’s finest recording equipment, and I’m in there working on this 10-dollar Korg mini-keyboard.” He laughs. “And yet we came up with this track that we just loved.”

As Valentine’s comment suggests, Maroon 5 worked surprisingly quickly on Overexposed, which despite the A-list hook-ups arrives just 21 months after Hands All Over, the band’s 2010 collaboration with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. “We’ve taken a really long time to make our albums in the past,” Levine admits. “But I’m done overanalyzing and making things more complicated than they need to be. If a song is great, it’s great. Be done with it.”

There’s a new focus that’s set into us both personally and as a band,” Valentine adds. “We had such amazing experiences the first 10 years of this group, and I think we spent a lot of time enjoying it, which was great. But now it’s like, ‘Well, what do we do? We make records.’” The guitarist laughs. “Put it this way: In 2007 after the show we were definitely finding out where the party was. Now it’s more like, ‘Hey, let’s go finish that song.’ That’s what’s more exciting to us.”

Levine says that of all the band’s albums, Overexposed feels “both most and least like Maroon 5. There’s lots of traces of the past, but it also hints at a new idea,” the singer explains. “More than anything I think this record says that it’s always cool to try—that you should always be willing to take a step beyond whatever feels comfortable.”


Steve Nash Named GM Of Canada’s Basketball Team

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(May 08, 2012) It may not be the perfect time but it is the right one.

It is one of those moments in history when the convergence of circumstances cannot be denied, when things may not be perfect but they cannot be ignored.

Steve Nash still has basketball to play and play at the highest level but the chance to have an impact on a country, to reach a promising group of young athletes at their very core, many of whom grew up idolizing him and to coax them to realize their full potential, was simply too good to turn down.

In what may turn out to be a watershed moment in the basketball history of this country, Nash returned to Canada Basketball as the general manager of its senior men’s team on Tuesday, ready to influence the next generation of young stars as no one in the sport ever has.

“One of the reasons why I really wanted to get involved now … is the incredible amount of talent we have at the younger age groups in this country,” the 38-year-old Nash said after taking over as the first senior team general manager in Canada Basketball history.

“It really is a beautiful thing to see our kids and the game grow and to continue to reach new heights.”

There are few athletes more identifiable with their sport in our country’s history than Nash is with basketball.

His, as has oft been told, is a story of perseverance and excellence: a young, relatively scrawny kid from Victoria who willed himself to the highest pinnacle of his sport, a two-time NBA most valuable player who made himself what he was through sheer hard work and determination.

He played for Canada for more than a decade, led it to a stirring run at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was part of the quartet of icons who lit the cauldron to open the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games — he earned the nickname Captain Canada without question.

He is someone all young players in this country look up to, someone they hope to emulate and now someone from whom they can now take first-hand advice.

“He’s going to be a lighthouse for all the great Canadian players coming up,” said Wayne Parrish, Canada Basketball’s chief executive officer and the man who has been working for years to get Nash back in the fold in some meaningful role.

Nash, who will be assisted by long-time national team running mate and good friend, Rowan Barrett, understands that this may not be the greatest time in his life to take on a new and daunting challenge.

He is about to enter one of the busiest summers of his life, one of the top free agents in the NBA who will have to sift through myriad offers for one last contract.

But the promise in the game in Canada — there are more good, young players performing at the highest level of the younger age groups than ever before — was too much to pass up. He will be able to identify talent and select teams, to use his reputation as a drawing card for youngsters to whom the national program may not be important. He can talk to kids and make them see a chance to do what he did, take a relative backwater basketball country and make it relative.

“The ultimate reason I’m here is to put basketball on the upper echelon of the international game,” said Nash. “That’s the end goal. The journey’s great, we want to work every day to build a team, to build a program, to build a culture about our game but ultimately we want success. We want to be playing at the Olympics perennially. We want to be in the hunt for medals.”

It would have been easy for Nash to wait until his NBA career was over — he should be able to play for three more years and maybe more — to assume the role he did on Tuesday. No one would have denied him the chance to pursue whatever NBA goals remain; no one would have looked askance at him for waiting. But the time was right, the decision easy.

“I definitely wouldn’t have predicted it myself,” he said. “I think in a perfect world, it’s not now but I think now is a perfect time regardless of where I am in my career because of the talent we have in this country.

“Now we start to change the perception, the level, the success, the standard and turn it into a program that demands excellence in a country that is a basketball country in its own right.

That trumps waiting until the perfect time or waiting until I’m done playing.”

Bryan Adams Puts Fans On Cloud No. 9

www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(May 03, 2012) Most of the kids would prefer to get their rockin’ out of the way by a reasonable hour these days —
early enough, say, that their own kids can also participate in the rockin’ — and preferably in a seated position, but at the end of the day, I guess, the important thing is they still wanna rock.

Bryan Adams coasted into a packed Air Canada Centre last night on a tour largely based around material dating back to the last millennium, but you can’t really fault the guy for doing it. He can easily still hold an entire NHL hockey rink in sway for more than two hours with one of the most undeniable back catalogues of hits in pop history. The man doesn’t need a half-assed new album as an excuse to tour; he just gets out and does it — coast to coast on this tour, the Vancouver expat’s first all-points road trip through Canada in 20 years — on the strength of a pile of tunes he knows can’t miss.

And how, really, could last night’s ACC date miss?

It was, from the first, raucous AC/DC chords of opener “House Arrest,” clearly going to be a love-in, as an admirably multi-generational crowd there to see a bona fide, internationally adored CanCon icon deliver some unapologetically direct and universal rock ’n’ roll thrills got exactly what it wanted. Exactly what it wanted.

You don’t go to a Bryan Adams show expecting him to have a hissy fit and refuse to play “Summer of ’69” or “Somebody” or “Run to You” or debut some 15-minute avant-jazz piece because that’s not what Bryan Adams is about or has ever been about. Bryan Adams is about appealing to as many people as possible, all the time, and that’s why Bryan Adams is, generally speaking, perfectly appealing to everyone, all the time.

Adams pulled a girl from the audience to duet on “When You’re Gone,” which originally featured Mel C from the Spice Girls.

The band still features his longtime guitarist Keith Scott, drummer Mickey Curry, bassist Norm Fisher and pianist Gary Breit.

He’s got a few clunkers in the mix, true, most of them dating from the adult-contemporary phase embodied by power ballads such as “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” or “Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven.” That’s just a matter of taste, though; heaven knows there were probably several dozen couples in attendance who had the former played at their weddings, perhaps a few who — God forbid — even conceived the children they brought to the show while it was playing.

If you’re not into the post-Waking Up the Neighbours phase, however, there’s still plenty to love from the Cuts Like a Knife/Reckless era, even if you won’t admit it in public or privately to yourself. “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Kids Wanna Rock” and “Somebody” are particularly durable from this one writer’s point of view, but I’m guessing most Canadians have a personal Bryan Adams favourite or two tucked away in the back of their mind, songs that still sound pretty fine pumping out of the car stereo in traffic when no one’s looking.

Adams might not be cool, might not ever have been cool, but it’s tough to maintain a veneer of hipsterism when you’re faced with so many songs that make so many people as happy as pretty much everything he played at the ACC last night did.

Why fight it? As Uncle Monty from Withnail & I once remarked: “Give into it, boy.” It’s not gonna kill ya.

Cobie Smulders Talks Playing Maria Hill In The Avengers

www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(May 03, 2012) Vancouver-born actress
Cobie Smulders plays tough-as-nails Maria Hill in The Avengers, helming the flying fortress as second in command to S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). She’s entrusted with keeping the world safe from the skies and she takes her job very seriously.

The 30-year-old co-star of TV’s How I Met Your Mother, where she plays Canadian television reporter Robin Scherbatsky, is engaged to Saturday Night Live cast member Taran Killam. The two are parents to a 3-year-old daughter.

Q: What made you want to play Maria Hill?

A: I signed on to this film before reading it because of Joss Whedon, because he was directing and writing it. If
Joss Whedon, the king of all the fanboys, says I can be Maria Hill, I’m going to do it.

Q: Where do you go to get the tough persona required to play her?

A: When I got the role I immediately started to train. She has a look and she trains and I wanted to at least have an idea about what it was like to be that physically fit, to be able to take somebody down.

Q: What was it like to work with Samuel L. Jackson?

A: He is rather intimidating but at heart he’s just the sweetest.

Q: There’s you and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) playing the rough and ready fantasy female roles. What does it feel like to know you’re going to be popular with the fanboys?

A: I can’t put my mind there because I’m Canadian and I just don’t think that way! My hope is that I can inspire little girls to stand up and to have a voice. That’s more a thought of mine.

Q: How will you fit future Avengers movies into your life? A sequel or two or three are all but assured.

A: I have one more year on How I Met Your Mother and then I’m free and I’m happy to do more. I love playing Maria Hill and being part of the Marvel family. You are constantly challenged. It’s a new world for me and so it’s really cool to go in and play and learn.

Adam Yauch Of Beastie Boys Dead At 47

www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon, The Associated Press

(May 04, 2012)
Adam Yauch, the gravelly voiced Beastie Boys rapper and the most conscientious member of the seminal hip-hop group, has died, his mentor Russell Simmons said Friday. He was 47.

Calls and e-mails to representatives for the Beastie Boys were not immediately returned. Simmons' Def Jam label released the Beastie Boys' first album, Licensed to Ill.

The cause, time and whereabouts of death weren't immediately known. Yauch, who's also known as MCA, was diagnosed with a cancerous parotid gland in 2009. He had undergone surgery and radiation.

At the time, Yauch expressed hope it was "very treatable," but his illness caused the group to cancel shows and delayed the release of their 2011 album, Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2.

He hadn't performed in public since 2009 and was absent when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in April.

The Brooklyn-born Yauch created the Beastie Boys with high school friend Michael "Mike D" Diamond. Originally conceived as a hardcore punk group, it soon became a hip-hop trio after Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz joined. They released their chart-topping debut Licensed to Ill in 1986, a raucous album led by the anthem (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!).

But in the seven studio albums that followed, the Beastie Boys expanded considerably and grew more musically ambitious. Their follow-up, 1989's Paul's Boutique, ended any suggestion of the group as a one-hit wonder. Extensive in its sampling and sonically layered, the album was ranked the 156th greatest album ever by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003.

The Beastie Boys would later take up their own instruments - a rarity in hip-hop - on the album Check Your Head and subsequent releases.

The Beastie Boys - a trio of white Jewish kids - established themselves as one of the most respected groups in hip-hop at a time when white rappers were few.

Introducing the group at the Rock Hall, Public Enemy rapper Chuck D said the Beastie Boys "broke the mold."

"The Beastie Boys are indeed three bad brothers who made history," said Chuck D. "They brought a whole new look to rap and hip-hop. They proved that rap could come from any street - not just a few."

Yauch also went under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower when working as a filmmaker. He directed numerous videos for the group, as well as the 2006 concert film Awesome: I F--- Shot That! He also co-founded the film distribution company Osciolloscope Laboratories, named after his New York studio.

Yauch was also a passionate Buddhist and a defender of Tibetan rights. He is survived by his wife, Dechen Wangdu, and his daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch.

5 Ways To Reduce Your Mobile Phone Bill

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(May 08, 2012) Mobile phones have evolved into a pocket-sized computer capable of email, web surfing, video calling, gaming, photography, GPS, social networking and handling work documents, too. As such, you need to ensure you're signing up for the right voice and data plan with your preferred carrier.

Here are a handful of tips to help keep your
bill in check.

1. What’s your usage pattern?

Choose a plan that best suits your habits. Many of us are either paying too much for what little we're using or we're not paying enough for usage - and so paying overage fees. Review your invoice to shed light on your voice and data usage. Then call, click or visit your carrier to match your usage with the best plan. You'll get a "bundle" deal if you use the same company for your home-based services, such as Internet, television and landline.

2. Buy a roaming package

Carriers understand we want to roam with our phones in other countries – without coming home to a surprise on our bill. Before you go, contact your carrier to sign up for a roaming package as these can save you a lot of money and aggravation. You should also use free Wi-Fi as opposed to cellular connectivity, wherever possible. Some Canadians buy a SIM card or prepaid phone card in the country they’re visiting (or online ahead of time) or rent a prepaid phone upon landing in the new city. I prefer to keep my existing smartphone and just keep a close eye on how much I roam.

Related: Cell phone roaming relief in sight

Track usage during the month

All the major mobile phone providers let you see how much data you’re using at any time throughout the month, usually via a password-protected website or on the phone itself (the iPhone, for instance, offers this information in Settings>General>Usage>Cellular Usage). This way, if you see you you’re already at, say, 400MB out your monthly 500MB data limit – and it’s only the 15th of the month - you might need a bigger data plan. You might also get a free text message when you're getting close to going over your monthly data usage. There are also some apps that can help you manage your data usage, such as Consume.

4. Call and ask for a better deal

If you think you’re paying too much for your monthly voice or data plan, call your carrier and ask them to lower your bill. Customer service reps know what they can trim or wave, such as applying a new promo code to save you some money or perhaps add more minutes or data to your existing plan. Or they might suggest to move to a plan better suited to your usage patterns (see tip no. 1). Your phone company doesn’t want to lose you to a rival provider, so you might just be surprised at what they’ll do to keep you.

Related: How to cut roaming fees when traveling to the USA

Try a sharing plan

Many providers allow you to share data plans between people or devices. Unlimited family plans usually start at about $15 a month (voice only) or $25 a month (voice and data). This might make sense for your family. Some providers, such as Bell Mobility and Rogers, have also introduced data sharing plans, where one account covers multiple devices at a reduced rate – for gadgets like tablets, smartphones, netbooks or mobile Internet sticks. This also might be a more affordable solution than purchasing individual data plans for each device.


Hilario Duran’s Music Does The Selling

www.thestar.com - By Peter Goddard

(May 03, 2012) It’s only a cab ride to Koerner Hall from the floor at Jane Bunnett’s place in Parkdale where
Hilario Duran once slept next to her stairway. And it’s taken him 22 years to do it. But if this were a movie it’d be a feel-good story all around.

The May 5 Koerner concert should be seen — and heard — as a peak event for the Cuba-born jazz pianist and composer. He’s fronting his own 20-piece all-star band, playing some charts from his From the Heart album which has enjoyed rave reviews internationally. And he’s being joined by Latin jazz sax great Paquito D’Rivera, “a musical idol since I was very young,” Duran explains.

The concert’s new compositions also reflect his creative experiences since settling in Toronto. “When you live in Cuba, you experience the music in a certain Cuban way,” Duran tells me on the phone recently. “But since I’ve moved to Canada everything has opened up. I’ve listened to all kinds of new styles and approaches, so I have had a lot of new influences like Jewish Klezmer music.”

Still on the good news front, work is steadily coming his way. On May 10 he’s at the 17th annual Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C. with Candido, the legendary Cuban percussionist and Bunnett the Toronto saxophonist/flutist directly responsible for Duran settling here and becoming a Canadian citizen.

“He’s a very quiet person,” she tells me on the phone. “He’s not even close to being a self-promoter. And he’s seriously paid his dues. For many years Hilario couldn’t get a visa to be able to play in the States, so he’d end up back having to sleep on the floor again. Even so we did very well that way.”

Yet Bunnett provided Duran with his least favourite Canadian moment when she took him out on a canoe ride in Algonquin Park.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“We’re just paddling around, “ she told him. “It’s what we do.”

“This?” he shook his head. Going nowhere?

Now 58, Duran hasn’t exactly gone unnoticed in Toronto. He’s at Lula Lounge May 17 with his trio — bassist Robertson Occhipinti and alto sax Luis Deniz — and Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa. The full extent of his talent has slipped under the local radar, to our misfortune, however. Duran’s piano playing, honed hard and gem-like through playing in the percussive onslaught of such Cuban big bands as Orchestra de Aficionados and Cubana Musica, reflects the power he has in both hands. Boxers would love to have his left-right punch.

“When I look at all of the Cuban records I’ve got, he plays, on about half of them,” says Bunnett.

“I have been very lucky to play with all the greats,” says Duran. “I’m lucky to find so many in Toronto.”

The Hilario Duran Latin Big Band with Paquito d’Rivera, is at Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W. on May 5.

Rush, k.d. Lang and Blue Rodeo Add T.O. Concerts

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(May 07, 2012) Three giants of Canadian music — Rush, k.d. lang and Blue Rodeo — each announced details of upcoming Toronto concerts on Monday, further filling the calendar of what looks like a busy year for local live-gig fans.

Rush will have a new studio album — Clockwork Angels, out June 12 — by the time they hit the Air Canada Centre on Oct. 14. Tickets will range from $56 to $139, before fees, when they go on sale on May 12 via Live Nation, Ticketmaster outlets and through the latter's phone line, 1-855-985-5000.

The details of the long list of other shows revealed on Monday:

k.d. lang and her new band the Siss Boom Bang play the Phoenix on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23; tickets as per above, but on sale May 11.

• Blue Rodeo, with opening act Great Lake Swimmers, once again have a summer date at the Molson Amphitheatre. Tickets for the Aug. 18 show will be $35-$80, as per k.d. lang.

• American Idol Live, the usual touring show featuring hopefuls from the show, will this year feature contenders like Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet when it hits the Air Canada Centre on Aug. 16. Tickets ($30-$69) as of May 11 through Ticketmaster and aeglive.com.

• Counting Crows play Echo Beach on June 15; tickets ($48-$75) available as per Rush.

• Polaris Prize-nominated eccentric rocker Chad VanGaalen plays the Mod Club on July 26; tickets ($20) on sale now via Ticketweb, Rotate This or Soundscapes.

• And comedian Kevin Hart, a co-star of the current hit film The Five-Year Engagement, hits the Sony Centre on July 27. Tickets ($50) as per k.d. lang.

On the other side of the ledger, this Wednesday's scheduled show at the Mod Club by U.S. punk-pop band Never Shout Never has been cancelled, with “unforeseen scheduling conflicts” cited as the reason.

Comeback Kids: Why Bands Such As The Cranberries Are Touring Again

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(May 08, 2012) "It's a great gig, really," says Dolores O'Riordan of the
Cranberries. "Getting on stage, playing the guitar, singing. For a living, it's super."

Many bands have reunited recently, and more regroupings are likely to come. Why is this happening? Money, often - the demand is there, a band is a business and a brand, and there's just too much at stake not to put aside any of its past differences.

The Cranberries, broken up in 2003 after a successful run, first reassembled for a tour in 2009. The experience was, shall we say, fruitful, and the band currently tours with a new album to support: Roses, a collection of tuneful rock that bears stylistic resemblance to the brash and lush sounds fans will recall from the 1990s - O'Riordan's distinctive Gaelic hush and wail set against tight guitars, stirring strings and dogged melodies.

O'Riordan, a singer-mom who now resides with her family north of Toronto, was in town recently with guitarist Noel Hogan to discuss the Cranberries's first crop of new songs in more than a decade. She describes the band's relationship as "pretty good." Adds Hogan: "I think age has been a massive help to us. When we were 21, we were highly strung. We enjoy it a lot more now."

They no longer play to the arena-sized audiences they once commanded. Tuesday's show in Montreal was booked at the Metropolis club, a venue that holds 2,300 Zombie-singing fans at maximum capacity, while Wednesday's concert at Toronto's Sound Academy should see about 3,000 diehards.

Album sales are down across the board, so the Cranberries and another resurrected crew, Jane's Addiction, don't exist in 2012 as they used to. They were the last of the MTV wave - an era of blockbuster sales and consistent exposure to targeted audiences. Still, they've held on to enough of their formidable base to ensure a market for their music and concerts whenever they do decide to pop back into the game. "We're kind of lucky, aren't we," admits O'Riordan, more mom now than the fierce pop-pixie of the past. "I know it sucks getting older, but it would be hard to start out now."

And so, older acts have a leg up. Van Halen (with original singer David Lee Roth) reunited in 2007 for its most lucrative tour ever. A new album followed, and the run with the devil continues - the hard-rockers are back on the road this year.

Even Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys have resolved to play nice in the sandbox long enough for a new album (That's Why God Made the Radio, out June 5) and a 50th-anniversary tour, including stops in Toronto and Montreal (June 19 and 20, respectively).

However, the reunion of Black Sabbath, those Never Say Die! metal heads, is on hold. When the iconic guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma, a planned Sabbath tour was pared down to a schedule of dates by the unlikely enduring singer Ozzy Osbourne and "friends." An album, produced by Rick Rubin, might still happen.

Neil Young has saddled up with his Crazy Horse posse for Americana, a grunge-guitar treatment of folk standards, due to drop June 5. No tour has yet been announced.

Elliott Lefko, a concert promoter with the California-based Goldenvoice, which stages Coachella, an annual reunion magnet, took in a performance at this year's festival by the regrouped post-punkers Firehose. "They were like the audience," explains Lefko, who cut his booking teeth on the Queen West scene in Toronto during the 1980s. "They're balding and big, and yet everyone was having an amazing experience."

To Lefko and other promoters, any minuses involved with reunions are outweighed by the pluses. "The bands rediscover why they like to play music," he says, "and the audience has this part of their brain that opens up. They remember why they liked the songs so much."

Memories are thorny things though, which don't wish to be rudely updated. Do we really want to have our nostalgia ruined by bands in lesser form (and often missing key members), stumbling in smaller spotlights and dinky stages?

Joe Strummer never succumbed to the promoters' pressure to reunite the Clash. He preferred for the image of the band in its prime to remain undisturbed. Likewise, no number of Benjamins is enough for Robert Plant to refloat Led Zeppelin - a one-off concert in 2007 was a benefit show - and Rod Stewart has resisted the call to properly reunite the Faces. The British bar-rock heroes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month without the Stay With Me singer, and the band has committed to a few summer festivals with Simply Red front man Mick Hucknall.

Cynics saw the Police reunion tour of 2007-08 - three players and three tour buses - as a money grab by bandmates who don't get along with each other. And, following a "farewell tour" in 1982, the Who haven't ever been able to hit the road without the tour's integrity being called into question each time.

For the Cranberries, the reunion experience is rather surreal after so many years off. "I was a full-time mom for seven years," O'Riordan says. "You go back on tour, you're back in hotels, you're ordering room service and you're getting an itinerary slipped under your door every day. You're kind of thinking, 'Did I go home for seven years, or was that just a dream?' "

Maybe it was a dream. Or maybe it's a dream now. "It's like somebody hit pause, and then hit play again," Hogan says. "And that was it."

The Cranberries play Montreal's Metropolis on Tuesday; Toronto's Sound Academy on Wednesday.

There’s A Lot Cohen On

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 09, 2012) It has obviously been a great year so far for Leonard Cohen — a critically hailed and brisk-selling new album Old Ideas, and the announcement of an ambitious tour schedule that brings him to the Air Canada Centre on Dec. 4. But local fans mustn’t overlook all the Cohen-related events in Toronto this week.

Cohen, 77, is this year’s recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize, and to go along with that honour, there’s a week of local events examining various aspects of the Montreal-raised singer-songwriter-poet:

• Visual art created by Cohen has an exhibition now running in Brookfield Place, 181 Bay St. The 40 original Cohen lithographs are arranged at the Allen Lambert Galleria until May 19.

• On Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., solo and ensemble musicians will perform Cohen’s music and recite his poetry at 25 public spaces around the city including Trinity-Bellwoods Park. Details at bit.ly/streetlen

• Saturday at 2:30 p.m. sees the start of a trilogy, entitled The Three Lennys, of films related to Cohen at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema: I Am a Hotel, the 1983 short musical directed by Cohen, I’m Your Man, a 2005 animated short based on Cohen’s song, and the 1965 National Film Board documentary Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen.

• It all culminates with Monday night’s gala concert at Massey Hall. Musicians performing in tribute include: Cowboy Junkies, Adam Cohen, Serena Ryder, folk singer Basia Bulat, John Prine, James McMurtry and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. There will also be poetry readings by Alan Rickman and Michael Ondaatje, as well as Gordon Pinsent creating songs out of Cohen poetry with Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and Travis Good. And here, at last, Cohen will be present to get his prize.

VIDEO: Eddie Levert Discusses First Solo CD and Sons’ Deaths


(May 4, 2012) *
Eddie Levert, for those that don’t know, is R&B royalty.

As one third of the mighty O’Jays, the Philadelphia music maker has amassed a string of classic hits as well as
provided fans with a distinctive vocal presence.

So with his place secure in music, why would Levert go solo? For the hit maker, the answer lies in wanting to do so for years, as shown with his forthcoming debut solo album, “Eddie Levert: I Still Have It.”

“This is something that I’ve wanted to do since [Eddie’s son] Gerald and them had LeVert. I’ve wanted to just go in the studio and cut a lot of things that I like,” Eddie Levert confessed to EUR’s Lee Bailey. “When you’re in a group, there’s a lot of things that you can’t do as a group or they don’t feel that suits you as a group. So there’s a lot of things that I just like to sing, a lot of music that I like and ways that I like to sing. I got a chance to be just free-spirited and do what I felt on this one without having anyone else’s direction in it.”

“I Still Have It” is more than a musical accomplishment for Levert. As evidenced on the offering’s lead single “Last Man Standing,” the vocalist takes a personal turn while addressing his new mind state following the death of sons Gerald, who died in 2006, and Sean, who passed away two years later.

“Just before Gerald passed away I started writing this,” Levert said. “During the process of writing this, he passed away and then I lost Sean. So I was writing these songs and all the songs that I had written … they were really mainly the love flowing and sexual overtone songs. And so these things start happening to me. Then I started having these other thoughts of how I partly blamed myself for what happened to them because that’s the first thing that happens to a parent that loses a child.

“You go to first looking at the things you could have done, the things you should have done and the things that you could have done you would have been able to do. You would have done those things, but you never had the opportunity or you never got the chance because of where they were and where you were and you always want to feel like ‘If you had been there,’ the singer continued. “So you start taking a look at the man in the mirror. And that’s what that song is basically maybe about because it talked about the change I had to go through to be able to get through that period. I had to take a good look at myself and to sort of change a few things to make myself better so I could be able to look past that, if that makes sense to you… So this song, really the “Last Man Standing,” was really about the transition that I made to try to be a better person and try to be a better person to the people that I had still around me.”

Musically, Levert sticks to what brought him to the table, labeling “I Still Have It” as “strictly R&B.” All in all, the entertainer longs to make fans aware of his solo endeavor while hoping they support him as much as they do the O’Jays.

“I just hope that I can get people to know that it’s out there. It was a labor of love,” Levert stated. “I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoy doing it as much as I still enjoy listening to it even now.”

And if you’re wondering if Levert has any plans of abandoning The O’Jays for a full-fledged solo career? Think again.

“Not ever performing with the O’Jays. Are you crazy?,” the music vet stated. “I need that drug. What do mean? I’m addicted to that. [Laughs] What are you talking about? No more O’Jays? Are you crazy? You’re out of your mind.”

“Eddie Levert: I Still Have It” is slated to hit stores this Spring. Levert’s latest single, “Last Man Standing,” is available now on iTunes.

VIDEO: Eddie Levert Discusses First Solo CD and Sons’ Deaths


(May 4, 2012) *
Eddie Levert, for those that don’t know, is R&B royalty.

As one third of the mighty O’Jays, the Philadelphia music maker has amassed a string of classic hits as well as provided fans with a distinctive vocal presence.

So with his place secure in music, why would Levert go solo? For the hit maker, the answer lies in wanting to do so for years, as shown with his forthcoming debut solo album, “Eddie Levert: I Still Have It.”

“This is something that I’ve wanted to do since [Eddie’s son] Gerald and them had LeVert. I’ve wanted to just go in the studio and cut a lot of things that I like,” Eddie Levert confessed to EUR’s Lee Bailey. “When you’re in a group, there’s a lot of things that you can’t do as a group or they don’t feel that suits you as a group. So there’s a lot of things that I just like to sing, a lot of music that I like and ways that I like to sing. I got a chance to be just free-spirited and do what I felt on this one without having anyone else’s direction in it.”

“I Still Have It” is more than a musical accomplishment for Levert. As evidenced on the offering’s lead single “Last Man Standing,” the vocalist takes a personal turn while addressing his new mind state following the death of sons Gerald, who died in 2006, and Sean, who passed away two years later.

“Just before Gerald passed away I started writing this,” Levert said. “During the process of writing this, he passed away and then I lost Sean. So I was writing these songs and all the songs that I had written … they were really mainly the love flowing and sexual overtone songs. And so these things start happening to me. Then I started having these other thoughts of how I partly blamed myself for what happened to them because that’s the first thing that happens to a parent that loses a child.

“You go to first looking at the things you could have done, the things you should have done and the things that you could have done you would have been able to do. You would have done those things, but you never had the opportunity or you never got the chance because of where they were and where you were and you always want to feel like ‘If you had been there,’ the singer continued. “So you start taking a look at the man in the mirror. And that’s what that song is basically maybe about because it talked about the change I had to go through to be able to get through that period. I had to take a good look at myself and to sort of change a few things to make myself better so I could be able to look past that, if that makes sense to you… So this song, really the “Last Man Standing,” was really about the transition that I made to try to be a better person and try to be a better person to the people that I had still around me.”

Musically, Levert sticks to what brought him to the table, labeling “I Still Have It” as “strictly R&B.” All in all, the entertainer longs to make fans aware of his solo endeavor while hoping they support him as much as they do the O’Jays.

“I just hope that I can get people to know that it’s out there. It was a labor of love,” Levert stated. “I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoy doing it as much as I still enjoy listening to it even now.”

And if you’re wondering if Levert has any plans of abandoning The O’Jays for a full-fledged solo career? Think again.

“Not ever performing with the O’Jays. Are you crazy?,” the music vet stated. “I need that drug. What do mean? I’m addicted to that. [Laughs] What are you talking about? No more O’Jays? Are you crazy? You’re out of your mind.”

“Eddie Levert: I Still Have It” is slated to hit stores this Spring. Levert’s latest single, “Last Man Standing,” is available now on iTunes.

Usher: The Billboard Cover Story

Source: www.billboard.com - by Ray Rogers

(May 07, 2012) Kale salad. Steamed spinach. Lean protein-organic, no hormones or antibiotics. No sugar. No carbs. It may sound like the latest celebrity torture diet, but Usher's catering requests for his Billboard cover shoot come not from vanity but necessity: He must trim down from an already chiseled 176 pounds to the welterweight of 161 pounds in preparation for the role of Sugar Ray Leonard in the Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone, with Gael Garcia Bernal and Robert De Niro. This also helps explain his spontaneous hooks and jabs on set today in front of the camera.

The boxing training has clearly seeped into his consciousness. In talking about his seventh album, Looking 4 Myself (due June 12)-a fusion of electro-soul, old-school R&B and modern club anthems both Usher and his label, RCA, feel will expand his music and his audience-the pugilist metaphors come easy: "It's all about striving for greatness and offering the best I have. It's no different than a boxer: Standing in front of the person trying to tear his head off, he has to give his all to make it out of that ring."

Here's another then: Consider Usher in fighting shape to defend the belt he reclaimed during the last two years. Looking 4 Myself sounds like it may be the album of his career, and it follows his expansion into the international dance circuit, lending his soulful voice to David Guetta's club smash "Without You," and exploring dance textures on 2010's Raymond V. Raymond and its deluxe edition, Versus, which included "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love." "Without You" and "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" have sold 6.3 million copies combined, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and both reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Raymond V. Raymond (1.3 million sold) and Versus (302,000) topped out at Nos. 1 and 4 on the Billboard 200.

Those hits, plus the chart-topping single "OMG" (4.5 million copies), all served to reconfirm his status as a global
pop force, which came as a relief to his label after sales of 2008's Here I Stand underwhelmed (1.3 million copies) following the massive Confessions in 2004, moving nearly 10 million copies, according to SoundScan.

The ensuing sold-out tours and appearances to promote the Guetta single took the Atlanta crooner to unexpected locales across the globe, from all-night clubbing on Ibiza to fist-pumping to DJ Afrojack at Coachella in 2011. "Electronic music has given me a new story," Usher says, "a new opportunity to build something I think a mass audience will understand."

A lot of careful thinking has gone into just how to tell-and sell-that story. The opening gambit came on Valentine's Day, with a deceptively sexy gift to fans in the form of "Climax"-deceptive in that despite its slinky sound, it's not filled with the double-entendres one might expect of the veteran seducer, but rather explores a relationship's apex and torturous demise. The divorced father of two-who split from now ex-wife Tameka Foster in 2009-launched the single through an exchange on Twitter with the song's co-producer, the in-demand, experimental hitmaker Diplo.

"That was certainly an innovative move," RCA Music Group president/COO Tom Corson says. However, the real daring came not merely in the delivery, but in the actual execution of the song. "The easiest thing to do when you have success is to keep doing that until it's broken," Corson says. "But instead, Usher took things to the next level [musically] . . . and with 'Climax,' what's come of it is a massive urban and rhythm record, which is now going pop. That's ballsy, and impressive. The fact that he wanted to come with that first-which we backed him 100% on-shows a real artist's game-changing philosophy. It's challenging [for the label] in a way, because we have to get it on pop radio, but at the same time, it is a big opportunity to move the market in a cultural way." "Climax" is No. 18 on the Hot 100, and No. 1 for a third week on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

"Because Usher's had such huge hits with the Guetta record and 'OMG,' people forget how much depth he has," says Diplo, who counts his sessions for Looking 4 Myself as the most adventurous of a superstar clientele that's included Beyoncé, M.I.A. and No Doubt. "He's so open-minded. He wasn't chasing a sound or jumping on trends. He just wanted to make something that felt fresh," Diplo says. "He gave us messages like, 'We're going to bring the strip club to the stadium.' His references were crazy; he was bringing up Monsters of Folk, Little Dragon and all kinds of things. He makes big, giant pop records but he is also a huge fan of everything."

When RCA Music Group CEO Peter Edge heard "Climax," his mind went straight to another R&B great: Marvin Gaye. "When Marvin Gaye did 'Sexual Healing' in the '80s, he came with a combination of the latest drum machine, but the most soulful vocal. And 'Climax' is that kind of record. He's managed to mesh the styles of R&B and electronic dance music-and he's done so with a vocal that is arguably his best ever."

Far beyond "Climax," the album is rife with potential singles-ones that will reach specific markets, but also cross over, Edge hopes. "We're putting out 'Scream' [produced by Max Martin, who also helmed "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love"] to the pop format worldwide, and at the same time we're putting out 'Lemme See' with Rick Ross, to the album format-that will cover his two key bases right there. By the time the album is available, Usher's collective audience will have had a chance to really sample a number of songs from the album, which will show the breadth of what he's presenting." If all goes as planned, the end result will be an Usher album "that appeals to his earliest fans, and people who may have never listened to or owned an Usher album before," Edge adds.

The list of producers and co-writers alone-including new recruits like Diplo, Empire of the Sun's Luke Steele (who is featured on the immensely catchy title track) and Swedish House Mafia (which turns in an electrifying club banger called "Numb"), and prior collaborators like Pharrell Williams and Rico Love-gives a hint of the album's many textures.

As for where Usher fits into the newly reconfigured RCA label (see story, page 16), "he is right on the top of the tree," Edge says. "He's one of our premiere artists . . . With the Raymond album he came back and had big hits and re-established himself. With this one, he's bringing hits-and he's bringing concept and cool factor. He's taken it to a whole different level, and it should be an even more impactful project."

He also has new management behind him. Grace Miguel of Coup D'Etat/URIV Group now heads up his management, taking over from AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips, who briefly managed Usher after the star relieved his mother, Jonnetta Patton, of managerial duties a second time in late 2008. "I see this record continuing the artistic journey Usher began the first time he was recognized for fusing sounds with Lil Jon to create 'Yeah!'" Miguel says. "Usher revels in the challenge of expansion and is courageous enough to take risks to grow as a performer."

"In life we have to grow," Usher says of his management changes, "and one thing that's been beautiful is that I've been able to grow along with my mother and people of my past. They're proud of me as I move forward, and are able to acknowledge the work I've been doing and say, 'I like what you're doing, and I like that you've been able to pick it up and continue to move on.'"

Miguel also happens to be romantically linked with Usher -- which only strengthens the extended family vibe of his overall team, she says. "Usher's core team is run like a family who inspire each other to reach our full potential and have each other's backs, while we create the foundation for his monumental success," Miguel says. Among his longtime business and creative team members are RCA president of urban music/Bystorm Entertainment CEO Mark Pitts, who has worked with Usher for 20 years and serves as his A&R rep, and musical director Johnny "Natural" Najera, who has been with Usher for 12 years. "That personal connection," Miguel adds, "allows us all to really go the extra mile to help him achieve his goals."

His goals for this album are certainly big -- extending his global reach in the pop and dance realms far and wide, while taking his core R&B fans along for the ride.

Lee Fields: The Second Coming Of A Soul Man

www.globeandmail.com - By Guy Dixon

(May 04, 2012) Here's what it takes to turn a man into a soul man.

In 1967, the era of James Brown and Otis Redding,
Lee Fields was a teenager coming to Brooklyn from Wilson, N.C., following the path of the soul greats. He arrived on the thinnest of promises from a contact he had met down South who had told Fields to look him up when he got to New York. He'd make him a star.

Fields took a cab to the address. Short in stature, he stepped onto the sidewalk with just $2 in his pocket.

"That just goes to show you how naive I was!" the singer shouts over the phone from his home in New Jersey. Now 62, Fields is leading a resurgence of the kind of soul reminiscent of the glorious late-1960s period. He sings of women and heart-rending love, women and the fact that he's still got it, women and, well, more women, with the same kind of wisdom and charisma that Redding exuded. Yet in 1967, he was a kid and a potential hard-luck story.

"But New York was always just like I pictured it," Fields adds ironically. The line is from Stevie Wonder's tragic hit Living for the City, in which a young black man full of hope and promise comes to the city, only to be conned and thrown into a life of misery. The difference for Fields is that he had his voice.

The contact who promised Fields stardom was moving out of his apartment and couldn't help the singer after all. But that weekend, Fields was taken to some night spots around Brooklyn. He got up and sang, and the reception was so good, the crowd started throwing money on the floor. He wound up making $100.

"So now I've got $102 in my pocket!" Fields recalls. "But me and [a friend] went out, and we partied that night. Back in those days, everything was so cheap. We partied all night and I still had some change!"

One gig led to another, though, he recorded some singles and over time even hooked up for a short period with Kool & the Gang. The band's manager, Gene Redd, thought Fields would make a good front man. "But their first record had started to take off ... and as they grew, they didn't really actually need me," Fields says.

Redd and another promoter were interested in pushing Fields as a solo singer, "but that never panned out. Kool & the Gang got bigger and bigger. I just fell through the cracks." (A number of Fields's ultra-rare recordings from around that time, such as the driving Take Me Back, have found their way onto YouTube.) Leap ahead to the 1990s, past a stagnant period in the 1980s when DJs replaced bands and Fields found little work. By then, he was living a middle-class life, raising a family in New Jersey and dabbling small-time in real estate. "But the star was still in my eye, I still had that dream," he says.

You can hear it in his new material. When Fields sings about testing his fidelity in the soul-baring, gut-wrenching Faithful Man - from his acclaimed new album of the same name - he really is that family man depicted in the song. (Except for one thing: In the song, the singer seems to be falling for temptation. In real life, he has always been faithful. "My virtues have never been compromised," he's careful to add.) That's the realness that has brought Fields a whole new audience of soul and indie-music fans.

His return to the stage came after buying himself a heap of new digital recording equipment in the 1990s. "But what I did was, I formed a band, and as soon as I bought all of that equipment, the guys got jealous. So I got all of this equipment and don't know how to use it.

"And the wife was getting fed up. She would come downstairs and see about $20,000 worth of equipment sitting there, and I'm reading a book trying to get it started!"

Finally, he began recording and gigging again, often performing solo with a digital tape machine playing the backing track. "For a while, I was just a one-man show," he says. Meet Me Tonight, a synthesizer-drenched funeral march for the broken-hearted that he recorded and sold himself, became a hit in the South.

But it wasn't until he hooked up with Brooklyn's Truth & Soul Records, and producers Jeff Dynamite and Leon Michels that the songwriting and production began to match Fields' voice. (The duo are also the team behind Aloe Blacc's stellar 2010 album Good Things, which won over discerning soul fans more into Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings than Alicia Keys.) "These guys! I wouldn't be surprised, in their careers, if they didn't become the next Motown, man," Fields enthuses. "There are so many young acts coming over today to the label, and these guys have their hands right on the pulse of the people. I'm very sure in the future this is going to be something looked on as a true soul movement based upon these two producers."

Fields is obviously happy with how everything turned out. "I wouldn't change a thing," he says.

Not even some parts of the long journey that led him finally to Faithful Man? "It was very exciting. I didn't get rich. But the experiences I've had in my life, money can't buy."

Lee Fields and the Expressions play The Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. W., Toronto, on Saturday with opening act Maylee Todd.

VIDEO: Rihanna Reveals New Reptile Skin


(May 4, 2012) *
Rihanna is getting a little freaky and bringing out her animalistic side.

The singer debuted latest video “Where Have You Been” on Monday. The video depicts the Caribbean singer emerging from dark waters, in a reptilian skin.

Her costume took eight hours of painstaking work. On her back she wore a latex prosthetic croc top to achieve her

Spiritualized’s Sweet Sickness

www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(May 04, 2012)
Spiritualized's incredibly dense and detailed albums sound like they're a complete agony to make and, well, guess what? They are.

Jason Pierce — who frequently finds himself in command of entire orchestras and gospel choirs' worth of musicians over and above the Spiritualized core — confesses he's in a bit of a bind when it comes to the business of recording. He hates making records, he says, and puts himself through the ordeal of doing a new one every few years only as an excuse to get out on the road again and play dates like the one he's got at the Phoenix on Saturday night.

But once he gets in the studio his perfectionist tendencies take over and he can't let the damn thing go. As was the case once again with the new Sweet Heart, Sweet Light, only Spiritualized's seventh album in 20 years.

“It's not a passion anymore, it's more like an illness,” says Pierce, 46, in a manner that suggests he's only half-kidding. “It feels like a sickness. It's a hard thing to do and it completely changes the way I listen to music.

“Once you start producing a record, you start listening to everyone else's music with a view to how it's produced — what kind of reverb they used or where they set the snare drum or where the voice sits — and it kind of ruins music.

“I still want to finish them and I still want to make them as great as they can be, but this is the first one where I've really not been sure. I know that it's finished . . . But it's a weird feeling to not really know what I've got, you know?

When Pierce likens making records to “a sickness,” the remark carries some weight. The man has come to know a thing or two about illness in recent years. He died and was revived twice during a scary bout with double pneumonia in 2005, a harrowing experience that informed the last Spiritualized album, 2008's Songs in A&E (as in the Royal London Hospital's “accident and emergency” ward).

And Sweet Heart, Sweet Light was itself recorded while Pierce — a longtime proponent of “taking drugs to make music to take drugs to,” as was the mantra during his days with Spacemen 3 during the '80s — underwent a considerably less enjoyable drug treatment for a degenerative liver condition.

It's interesting to hear him publicly airing his doubts about the finished product, though, since Sweet Heart, Sweet Light has been hailed since its release last month by numerous critics as Spiritualized's finest recorded moment since 1997's symphonic/psychedelic classic Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space.

“I think it's a good record, but I wasn't as sure as I was with the previous records,” he says. “I deliberately put myself in a place where I wasn't comfortable. I deliberately set out to make a pop record and, in a weird way, I'm the least comfortable with that side of Spiritualized.

“There's nowhere to hide, you know? I'm more comfortable in the abstract or in distortion, so once you clear that out there's nowhere to hide. But it was a deliberate decision. I got to thinking the more you abstract music, the more it enters this kind of ‘emperor's new clothes' area where you can say, ‘Well, you're not hip to this' or ‘You don't understand it.' With pop music, everybody understands the medium, so there really isn't anywhere to go, but I guess I don't really know that as well.”

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light, as it eventually turned out, “patently isn't a pop record,” he concedes.

What began as a slightly misplaced attempt to “make a record like a Beatles record” gradually morphed into something far more typically Spiritualized-esque — half-droning drug rock, half-aching spirituals — once it dawned on Pierce, he laughs, that “I don't even like The Beatles.”

He did strip away a lot of the band's customary effects and distortion, however, in an effort to put forward a record that didn't announce itself by its elaborate dressing as a Statement.

He's comfortable at this point sounding like himself and simply going forward with a solid collection of songs. He wasn't looking to make a masterpiece.

Watch: Willow Smith’s New Video for ‘Do It Like Me’


(May 4, 2012) *
Willow Smith just released a video for her latest single, “Do It Like Me (Rockstar).”

The track is the fourth single from her debut album “Knees and Elbows,” due later this year, and follows up her 2011 single “Fireball,” which featured Nicki Minaj.

The video finds the 11-year-old in a series of outfits and sunglasses performing the track in major cities across the globe, such as Paris, London, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

Lyrics in the track include: “Now when I take off my shades/ Please don’t be shocked at my age/ I’m taking over your game/ Now will I scare you?”


Tupac’s Music Back on Billboard Charts After Hologram

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 06, 2012) *The hologram treatment was just what the industry doctor ordered for Tupac Shakur’s album sales. Just after his ‘appearance’ at Coachella Music Festival, the deceased rapper’s album sales skyrocketed 571%. The boost took his 1998 album all the way back to the charts to the 129th spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Last week, over four thousand copies were sold, along with “All Eyez on Me,” which sold 2,000 copies. Tupac’s hologram performance with Snoop was viewed 3.4 million times.

Susie Arioli Digs Deeper

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Goddard

Susie Arioli
All The Way (Spectra Musique)

(May 07, 2012) For years Susie Airoli has been the Tina Fey of Canadian jazz. Bright. Smart. Zesty. Perky. Whether playing her little snare drum or singing jazz standards the Montréal singer has remained a one-woman spark plug of energy upbeat even singing the blues. But you'd never know it from All The Way, recorded with Jordan Officer — her “faithful sidekick,” producer and guitarist-accompanist. Attempting to reposition Arioli more as serious artist, and less of a cute novelty jazz act All The Way takes itself way too seriously at the outset. What saves the day — the night actually, with all these after-hours saloon tunes — is the way the album eventually affirms her deeper understanding of the music and her nuanced reading of its lyrics. Beginning with a draggy zoned-out version of “My Funny Valentine” the collection grows lachrymose with “Time on My Hands.” Noticing as I listened that “Here's To The Losers” is next up, I felt inclined to phone 911 to get some help for the performer. Weirdly, it's with “Here's That Rainy Day,” where Arioli emerges from her funk with a silken yet complex reading of the most potentially morose tune of all, where she gives the word “funny” a half-dozen different meanings at once none of them approaching funny. Intimacy is everything. When she gets to “Forgetful,” you'd swear she's whispering the words insider your head. The 13 tracks on All The Way create a narrative of Arioli's new-found depth of purpose, self-discovery and emotional intensity. The album release show is May 9 at Hugh's Room, 2261 Dundas St. W.

LMFAO To Co-Host The MMVAs

Source: www.thestar.com

(May 09, 2012) Well, the MuchMusic Video Awards will make sure that “Party Rock is in the House.” Dance music duo LMFAO have been announced as co-hosts of this year’s broadcast on Sunday June 17. The members, RedFoo (a.k.a. Stefan Kendal Gordy) and SkyBlu (a.k.a. Skyler Austen Gordy) are excited at the opportunity. “Canada is the first place LMFAO went #1, and now the first place we will host an award show,” said RedFoo in a release. “It’s going to be a night you won't forget.” LMFAO join Katy Perry, who has been announced as one of the evening’s performers, as the first two confirmed acts involved with this year’s show. The nominees announcement will take place Tuesday, May 15 at 6 p.m. as part of New. Music. Live.

::FILM NEWS::    

Video: Hot Docs: ‘Gorgeous’ Wrestler Godiva Still Has That Glow

www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(May 04, 2012) Tom Hanks famously hollered, “There’s no crying in baseball!” in A League of Their Own. Same
thing goes for women’s wrestling, observed Dawn Maetas, who appears in GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

Directed by Brett Whitcomb, the documentary follows a group of the grapplers who were stars of a low-budget TV sketch comedy and wrestling show that aired from 1986-1990. The film had its world premiere at
Hot Docs and screens again Saturday.

“You won’t see any GLOW girls ever crying,” said Maetas, 47, who often rode into the ring on a white horse as her wrestling persona, Godiva. “There were characters that were weaker, but there was never ‘Some man come save me.’”

As Godiva, Maetas adopted an English accent and dressed in a flower-bedecked bikini, with a long blond wig and elaborate makeup. She faced off in the ring against characters like Col. Ninotchka, Matilda the Hun, Hollywood and Babe the Farmer’s Daughter.

Maetas, now a Southern California church outreach worker and married mom of a 20-year-old son, was in Toronto to help promote GLOW. She still looks extremely fit, thanks to a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, but said she’s paying for her GLOW years with chronic back woes.

She was 24 and waiting tables when she got the part on the wrestling show, moving to Las Vegas to live dorm-style with the rest of the cast.

The programs were taped at the Riviera Hotel, but first came the training and it was brutal. Wrestling legend Mando Guerrero talks proudly in the film about how hard he worked the women to turn them into credible wrestlers. The outcome of the matches may have been fake, but the pain was real.

“It was so physical,” said Maetas, who worked up a signature move for Godiva called the Buckingham Bounce. “I remember those first training sessions, I felt like my organs hurt. My insides were literally rocked.”

Many of the GLOW troupe were actresses and stunt performers. Some, like Emily Dole, who almost made the U.S. Olympic shot put squad, were athletes. Dole, who wrestled as Mountain Fiji, is all but bedridden due to health problems worsened by her weight when she appears in the film. Yet she manages to attend a get-together with the GLOW veterans, which makes for some emotional scenes.

For Maetas, who studied art at college and had a passion for Andy Warhol and abstract impressionism, playing Godiva was a dream come true.

“When I did GLOW, I was very much into pop culture and I loved getting my teeth into it. When I was Godiva I got to be pop culture,” she said.

She believes GLOW happened “at a perfect time in a perfect place” and doubts it could survive in today’s world. She likened the show to 40-year-old TV country comedy Hee Haw — the costumes may have been sexy, but she feels the cheeky, often corny comedy was innocent.

“I think people are going to see us as real people rather than as our characters,” Maetas said of the doc. “I was a cartoon character to a lot of people, but I am a real person.”

VIDEO: The Avengers Review: Superheroes Will Unite The Audience

www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

The Avengers
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans. Directed by Joss Whedon. 140 minutes. Opens midnight Thursday at major theatres. PG

(May 02, 2012) Agent Phil Coulson will love
The Avengers.

You surely will, too, if you recognize his name. Officious but loveable
S.H.I.E.L.D. sleuth Phil is one of many Marvel Comics minions Joss Whedon summons to his energizing superhero adventure, making this first blockbuster of summer 2012 something of a geek drill.

It helps if you go to the film having already seen the two Iron Man movies, plus Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: The First Avenger, all released between 2008-11 and leading up to this ensemble nerdgasm.

But you don’t have to sport a propeller beanie to enjoy The Avengers, and this may be the highest possible praise for what director Whedon and his co-writer Zak Penn have wrought.

They’ve cannily crafted a saga guaranteed to pass muster with the Comic-Con cognoscenti, without forsaking regular popcorn munchers who just hope to see the planet get saved with maximum firepower and a few laughs.

Whether you love or merely like The Avengers, it will likely all come down to the performances and not the perfunctory plot or the on-the-fly back story.

You don’t need to know Agent Phil’s connection to the Marvel multiverse to appreciate Clark Gregg’s expanded and surprisingly emotive take on him here, as a combination of fusspot and fanboy.

And past knowledge of two iffy Hulk movies isn’t required to marvel at the nuances that newcomer Mark Ruffalo brings to the green-skinned beast, even though “the other guy” within mild-mannered Dr. Bruce Banner isn’t revealed until the 80-minute mark of this 140-minute bladder test.

Also new to the team and the evolving Avengers narrative are Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, a lethal gymnast who demonstrates early on that a chair makes a dandy weapon, and Jeremy Renner as special agent Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, whose arrows aren’t quite the Robin Hood anachronism they appear to be.

Robert Downey Jr. returns in fine scathing form as billionaire playboy Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, the ferrous phenomenon who shields everything except his sharp tongue.

It’s pretty much business as usual, meanwhile, for the two most dislocated Avengers: Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, a Norse god fallen from the heavens; and Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, a Second World War super soldier still shaking off decades of deep freeze and culture shock.

They’ve all been brought together by eye-patched persuader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., a global version of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s sort of a team,” Stark glibly says of the Avengers, and “sort of” is the operative phrase for much of the movie.

Despite the imminent enslavement (or worse) of Earth threatened by Thor’s angry adoptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is in cahoots with a reptilian alien race called Chitauri (twirl those propellers!), our putative protectors can’t seem to get past their petty peeves.

This leads to some interesting and exhilarating matchups, as when Iron Man and Thor go head-to-head (literally) in testing their mettle, or when Romanoff and Banner teasingly hint at a black-on-green tangle that doesn’t involve their super alter-egos.

And speaking of tangles, are Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) finally going to get past their master/slave foreplay to reach someplace sexier?

But it’s not until the last half hour of the picture, when all are enjoined for a battle that could easily be called Transformers Take Manhattan, that Whedon’s carefully developed characters really take flight as a team.

And it’s quite the payoff, although it would be better if the villain were as good as the heroes. Hiddleston’s Loki could draw hisses at a Christmas pageant but he’s not terribly convincing as a planet-threatening psycho, especially when he dons his horned headdress and waves a blade Stark mocks as “the Glow Stick of Destiny.”

Indeed, when was the last time you heard a super villain being told, “You lack conviction,” as Loki is here by the ever-succinct Agent Phil?

This isn’t meant as insult to Hiddleston, a fine actor who is working with what he’s been given.

Fortunately, Loki’s lameness isn’t fatal. He’s actually the least essential part of The Avengers, which attracts both fanboys and regular punters not for the same old battle of good vs. evil, but for the more novel punch-ups of good vs. good.

Video: Deitrick Haddon’s ‘A Beautiful Soul’ Opens At AMC Theatres!


(May 4, 2012) *Friday, May 4th marks the opening of the much anticipated movie “A Beautiful Soul” starring
Deitrick Haddon, Harry Lennix, Robert Ri’chard and Lesley Ann Brandt in a Jeff Byrd film.

Under Jeff Byrd’s direction the audience is taken on the spiritual journey of Andre’ Stephens, a self centered, womanizing, hip hop icon. Best friend Chris Scott, wonderfully played by Robert Ri’chard, serves as the voice of reason that falls upon death ears until a very unfortunate event ushers in the option for a change of fate. Deitrick Haddon and Allison Elizabeth’s script gives Haddon full range of his dramatic and musical gifts, while laying the foundation for his character’s underlying call to minister.

Director Jeff Byrd, who has already set his mark in films like King’s Ransom, Truth Be Told and Seventeen Again, makes a unique reference to why he is certain that “A Beautiful Soul” is a box office draw.

Jeff Byrd to EURweb: “I like to call it my gospel Purple Rain. It has a very secular feel but with a very inspirational undertone and it’s set in the Christian world. It encompasses all those different things and to all those different people. Anybody can see this. It’s a film that’s open to the masses.”

John Salley and Bishop Noel Jones make cameos in “A Beautiful Soul” while Harry Lennix gives his usual rock solid performance as the smooth, yet forceful Jeff Freeze who is Andre’ Stephens’ manager. It’s worth the cost of the ticket price just to see Lennix in action once more. Then there is the stand out performance of Golden Brooks, who emits a sincere, moving and very believable performance as Andre’s mother. Vanessa Bell Calloway is just as refreshing as she is beautiful when she makes an ‘angelic’ cameo in the film. The vets are obvious here and make for a nice balance among the newcomers.

A full range of producer’s credits include Felicia Henderson, Holly Carter and Dominique Telson, but Bryant T. Scott of Tyscot Records is the cornerstone of this great venture, which began with him signing Detrick Haddon to his label back in 1995.

Bryant T. Scott to EURweb: “About four years ago Detrick came to me and said, instead of giving me money to do a music video, he said how about giving me money to make a movie and so we did. We came out with Blessed and Cursed and it went straight to DVD as well as Showtime, The Gospel Movie Channel and Net Flix. We were like, ‘Wow this movie thing is good!’ This is our second movie with him and then we were excited to find out that AMC Theatres were interested in it.”

As a result of the due diligence of Tyscot Records, Feather Films and Manhaddon Productions, “A Beautiful Soul” opens today (May 4, 2012) on twenty screens in ten markets: Los Angeles, Burbank, Detroit, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Indianapolis, Dallas and Philadelphia.

For details on theatres and show times go to
www.abeautifulsoulmovie.com. The “A Beautiful Soul” movie soundtrack is available at amazon.com.

Spike Lee’s Latest Headed to Theatres Soon


(May 5, 2012) *Another
Spike Lee joint his headed to the big screen this summer.

“Red Hook Summer,” Lee’s controversial film that premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival is hitting theatres soon and is expected to be a big hit since he struck up a deal with Variance Films, an independent distribution company, reports

“From my very first joint back in 1986, ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ I have been an independent filmmaker, and even today I still am,” Lee said in a statement. “I’m elated to join forces with Variance Films for the independent distribution of my new joint Red Hook Summer. We look forward to getting this film into the marketplace, where we believe 100 percent that there is a starving audience for American independent films like Red Hook Summer.”

“Red Hook Summer” focuses on a sullen boy, Flik Royale who comes from middle-class Atlanta. He heads to Brooklyn’s Red Hook housing projects for the summer to spend time with his righteous and very religions grandpop in the housing projects.

The two never knew each other so things get off to a rocky start. But as the summer progresses, things turn around and Flik learns some things about life.

Between his grandfather’s constant preaching and the culture shock of inner-city life, the young man’s summer appears to be a total disaster–until he meets a Chazz Morningstar, a pretty girl his age, who shows Flik the brighter side of Brooklyn. Through her love and the love of his grandfather, Flik begins to realize that the world is a lot bigger, and perhaps a lot better, than he’d ever imagined.

The theatrical release of “Red Hook Summer” will begin August 10 in New York and then broaden to the top 30 markets throughout the month of August.

Video: Hot Docs: The World Before Her Takes Top Canadian Prize

www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(May 04, 2012) Fresh from its Tribeca Film Festival triumph, director Nisha Pahuja’s
The World Before Her has picked up a $10,000 prize for Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival Friday.

The documentary, about contestants in the Miss India pageant and their immersion in an intense month-long beauty boot camp in Mumbai, was lauded by the Hot Docs jury for “its brave and provocative exploration of the role of women at its two extremes in contemporary Indian society.”

The $5,000 Special Jury Prize: Canadian Feature went to director Charles Wilkinson’s Peace Out, a film about the high costs of energy development in Canada’s Peace River area.

A new $10,000 award at Hot Docs, the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize for a film in the Canadian Spectrum program, went to The Boxing Girls of Kabul, director Ariel J. Nasr’s exploration of young Afghan women who risk persecution to become elite boxers, training in an Olympic stadium where the Taliban once executed women.

The $10,000 award for Best International Feature was presented to Call Me Kuchu (USA) by directors Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright, about Ugandan activist David Kato’s battle over his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In all, Hot Docs presented 10 awards totalling $71,000 in prize money. Still to come is the Hot Docs People’s Choice Award and audience top 10 favourite films of the 2012 fest, all of which are determined by audience ballot. They’ll be announced Monday, May 7.

For a complete list of award winners and screening information, go to

Hot Docs wraps on Sunday when the Best Canadian Feature, Best International Feature and the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize winners will also have encore screenings.

Mark Ruffalo On His Smashing New Role In The Avengers

www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(May 03, 2012) “I gave myself a treat today,”
Mark Ruffalo says with a guilty grin about the poutine lunch he’s just polished off. “Now I’ve got a bit of a stomach ache.”

Hulk got gas?

Ruffalo laughs. He’s used to the jokes about playing Dr. Bruce Banner in
The Avengers, opening today, the brilliant but emotionally tortured scientist who messed with gamma rays and now morphs into the big green terror known as Hulk whenever he experiences strong emotions — especially anger.

It’s been a busy time for Ruffalo, a rumpled-looking, easygoing sort who is not only one of Hollywood’s most
talented actors; he’s one of the industry’s most beloved pros. The Oscar nominee for The Kids are All Right just finished shooting a heist flick about magicians, Now You See Me, in Paris in April and then kicked off a worldwide promotional swing for The Avengers that brought him to Toronto Monday.

“I’ve spent two nights in the past four months in my own bed, which sucks,” said 44-year-old Ruffalo, a married father of three young kids.

But Ruffalo is also clearly excited about playing Banner/Hulk and his compellingly tormented, often-amusing performance is a highlight of the Marvel Comics’ blockbuster. His performance stands head and shoulders above previous Hulksters Eric Bana (2003’s Hulk) and Edward Norton (2008’s The Incredible Hulk) and even Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno’s 1978-1982 TV series take on the character.

“I adored the TV show,” said Ruffalo. “That was my favourite thing as a kid and I felt like (The Avengers) is a continuum of the last time we saw Hulk, but with the added slant of leaning toward Bill Bixby’s (version) which is the more true version. He’s been on the run longer. He’s tired. He’s tortured.”

He and Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon crafted a new back story for Banner, including Ruffalo’s idea to have him working as a physician in the slums of Calcutta when he’s called up for Avengers world-saving service.

“We decided he goes to a leprosy colony where there’s so much suffering he couldn’t possibly get angry; he couldn’t possibly find anything wrong with his own life. He’s just in service to people,” explained Ruffalo.

He and Whedon also talked about being in their mid-40s and how Banner would be around that age, too. A Hulk-sized mid-life crisis? Not really, laughed Ruffalo.

“But it is like, ‘Hey, this is who I am and this is what I will be all my life,’” Ruffalo figured Hulk was saying to himself. “He’s thinking, ‘I understand my mortality.’ I think he’s tired of running and he’s developed a sense of humour about his situation in the midst of the world weariness.”

Banner is so afraid of his alter-ego’s reappearance after he’s conscripted by S.H.I.E.L.D. boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help the Avengers superhero crew save the world that he only calls him “the other guy,” never “Hulk.”

Unlike other Avengers Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans), Ruffalo is new to his character. And he certainly wasn’t a lock for the role. Not only did legions of franchise fans doubt his ability to play Hulk, Ruffalo did, too.

“This is another turn that nobody expected of me that nobody thought I could do,” he said. “There was a lot of resistance to me in this part at first from the geekiverse and a lot of resistance inside myself and that’s always been a good indicator to me” that he should take a role, he said.

“Doing something so big, not knowing if I can do it. Can I pull this off? Can I do what I do in smaller movies in a big movie?”

He even tried to talk Whedon out of hiring him, but found the writer-director “very persistent.” Once cast, the first person Ruffalo went to for advice was Downey Jr., his co-star in the 2007 crime thriller Zodiac.

“I called Robert and he sort of paved the way,” he said. “What he did with Iron Man was just reinventing the genre, and made it possible for an actor like me to fit into this world.”

Ruffalo said he found the most daunting aspect of the role — working with CGI for the first time to bring Hulk to life — ended up being the most rewarding.

“I did the man-cancelling leotard with the leads on my face and the ping pong balls on the suit and it was totally humiliating,” he laughed. “But what I found out once I got over the sheer humiliation and terror was all the years I’d spend working in theatre . . . really worked well.”

Ruffalo is the first actor to play both Banner and Hulk. His face is recognizable on the CGI-generated monster and it’s something he enjoyed so much it’s been reported he’s signing on for as many as six more outings as Banner/Hulk, including his own solo film.

“I was just so thrilled,” he said of seeing himself transformed onscreen. “I was doing it on a set by myself, no actors to play off, doing all these scenes on my own. Banner has been done and been done really well before but nobody had done the Hulk yet. The technology wasn’t there to make him feel real, to make him have real human rage. I was like, this is an incredibly freeing technology for an actor. I don’t have to wear prosthetics. It’s my face.

“It’s a whole new world that really got to me. I can be anything. Talk about disappearing into a role.”

VIDEO: Ben Affleck’s Argo Spotlights Canadian Heroics During 1979 Iran Hostage Drama

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(May 09, 2012) The first trailer for Ben Affleck’s reality-based thriller Argo, about the CIA’s wild plan to free six Americans caught in the 1979 Iranian hostage taking, has landed.

The story is a familiar one to Canucks: how the six escaped their captors to shelter at Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor’s home in Tehran.

Canadian actor Victor Garber (Titanic) plays Taylor, while Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the CIA “exfiltration” specialist who helps concoct a story about filming phony Hollywood sci-fi epic Argo in Tehran as a means to get the Americans out — passing them off as part of a Canadian film crew.

With Aerosmith’s “Dream On” playing in the background, Affleck lays out the plan to liberate the Americans who are hiding out at Taylor’s. The movie also stars Bryan Cranston and John Goodman, with Alan Arkin playing producer Lester Siegel, who is determined to make the best fake movie he can — shades of Wag the Dog.

Studio Warner Bros. is billing Argo as “a plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.” With a release date of Oct. 12 and a mix of Affleck’s solid track record as director (The Town, Gone Baby Gone) and the Canadian angle, Argo looks like a shoo-in for the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs Sept. 6-16.

Will Smith on Hologram Tupac, What his Kids Think of ‘Fresh Prince’

www.eurweb.com - by Cherie Saunders

(May 4, 2012) *
Will Smith’s new movie “Men in Black 3” is not only loaded with state-of-the-art special effects that puts the 1997 original to shame, but it’s his first-ever film shot in 3D …which he admits gave him pause.

“My first concern with being in 3D was my ears, because I could see these things taking over pretty much the whole of the screen,” Smith told us Thursday during roundtables for the film in Beverly Hills. “When I first saw it and it was cool, I was like alright, we didn’t have me looking like satellite dishes. And special effects now, you can see anything. Like there are no limitations with special effects.”

Case in point – Tupac.

“That was crazy,” he said of the late rapper’s hologram that performed with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at the recent Coachella Music Festival. “That was like, ‘Whoa! Hey, that’s a little too good. Let’s back that technology off a little bit.’”

Asked if he thought virtual Tupac went too far, Smith said, “No, it was great! But it was so great that it was chilling. That’s the world that we live in now, so it’s just a matter of the artist figuring out how to create it in a way that it’s most effective for the audience.”

Will Smith's kids: singer Willow Smith (L) and actor Jaden Smith onstage at Nickelodeon's 25th Annual Kids' Choice Awards held at Galen Center on March 31, 2012 in Los Angeles

Smith says his own audiences are getting younger and younger these days, with much of the fans knowing him as simply Willow and Jaden’s daddy. There are, however, legions of kids around the world who have been introduced to the movie star through reruns of his NBC comedy “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”

“What’s crazy for me is that ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” says Smith. “It’s like I’m the Fresh Prince everywhere I go in the world. ‘El Principe!’ You know, it’s just amazing. A 9-year-old kid in Moscow watching the ‘Fresh Prince’ thinks it’s brand new, so when I show up, it’s as if it’s brand new. The ‘Fresh Prince’ has been a huge gift for me in that sense.”

But one person’s gift is another person’s embarrassment. In the audio below, Smith reveals what his kids Jaden and Willow think about him as the Fresh Prince.

Paula Patton Nabs Lead in David Talbert Film ‘Baggage Claim’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 09, 2012) *Paula Patton will star in the new Fox Searchlight feature “Baggage Claim,” a comedy that David Talbert has adapted and will direct from his bestselling 2003 novel, reports Deadline.com.

Patton will play flight attendant Montana Moore, who at 35 is the oldest woman in her family not married. With her sister tying the knot, Montana and her fellow flight attendants become determined to put a claim check on a husband in 30 days or 30,000 miles.

The film will shoot in September and it will be Talbert’s second time behind the camera. He wrote and directed “First Sunday” for Screen Gems, which was based on his play.

According to Deadline, Talbert “is an underrated resource at a time when urban-themed films are in high demand after the success of ‘Think Like A Man.’ Like Tyler Perry, Talbert developed a following in the black community by writing and touring his plays, the most recent of which was ‘What My Husband Doesn’t Know,’ which played in 40 cities.”

Patton last’s big screen work was “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” She’ll next star opposite Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in “2 Guns” for Emmett/Furla Films and Universal, and “Disconnect” for LD Entertainment.


Will Anyone Ever Out-Box Office Samuel L. Jackson?

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 07, 2012) *In October, the Guinness Book of World Records named Samuel L. Jackson the highest-grossing actor in the history of film. With the record-breaking opening of his latest movie “The Avengers,” it looks as if no other actor will come close to his numbers any time soon, notes Entertainment Weekly. After its record $200.3 million opening, “The Avengers” is on track to surpass “The Titanic” as the top grossing movie of all time. Meanwhile, Jackson just signed a nine-film commitment with Marvel – which means we can expect him to pop up in the next cycle of “Avenger” movies, not to mention the next individual “Avengers” films, such as “Iron Man 3,” “Captain America 2,” etc. With all this factored in, Jackson looks likely to bank a career global tally of $10 billion. By comparison, Tom Cruise has only grossed $7 billion.

Andre 3000 to Begin Filming Jimi Hendrix Biopic in Ireland

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 07, 2012) *After years of buzz about the prospect of Outkast rapper Andre 3000 playing Jimi Hendrix in a biopic, the film is finally about to begin shooting this month in Ireland. According to the Irish Film & Television Network (IFTN), the film, titled “All Is By My Side,” will document the guitar legend’s period in England from 1966 to 1967 as he created his iconic debut album. The feature, written and directed by John Ridley, is currently in pre-production in Wicklow, with principal photography set to begin in three weeks in both Wicklow and Dublin. The shoot is expected to last six weeks. The film will also depict the moment Hendrix was discovered in a New York club by Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richard’s then girlfriend Linda Keith. She subsequently introduced Hendrix to manager Chas Chandler who brought Hendrix to London in 1966, where he recorded his debut album “Are You Experienced” and had his first taste of success. From 1966 to 67, Hendrix went on to formulate some of the greatest guitar-driven records ever made.

::TV NEWS::    

‘Nobody but Jesus!’: Jermaine Paul Crowned ‘The Voice’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 09, 2012) *After years of playing the background as a backup singer for Alicia Keys, Jermaine Paul of Team Blake was voted the winner of NBC’s singing contest “The Voice” Tuesday night, nabbing a recording contract with Universal Republic Records, a $100,000 cash prize and a jump start on his dream solo career.

Paul collapsed into a hug from his coach Blake Shelton and wiped away tears as he thanked his wife, children, and all of the people who voted for him. He ended his speech by shouting, “Nobody but Jesus!” [Scroll down to watch.]

Through tears and a long embrace from his wife, he sang R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” to close out the show, which he also belted in his final performance on Monday’s performance show.

Paul beat out fellow contestants Juliet Simms of Team Cee Lo (Green), Tony Lucca of Team Adam (Levine), and Chris Mann of Team Christina (Aguilera). Host Carson Daly revealed that Paul edged out second place finalist Simms by fewer than four percentage points.

Tuesday’s special two-hour finale included performances from stars such as Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Flo Rida, and Hall & Oates. Also, past contestants from this season were invited back to perform with the four finalists.

Turn Down Loud TV Ads, CRTC Orders Broadcasters

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Goddard

(May 08, 2012) OTTAWA — Listen up: Canadian broadcasters will have to turn down the
volume on their TV ads.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has given broadcasters until September to ensure both their programs and commercials are transmitted at the same volume.

The commission says 2009’s international standard for measuring and controlling television signals will apply to minimize fluctuations in loudness between programming and commercials.

Canadians flooded the CRTC with complaints last year about annoyingly loud TV commercials.

The commission published draft regulations in December and gave broadcasters a chance to respond.

The new rules take effect Sept. 1.

Other countries, including the United States, are also moving in the same direction. The U.S. passed a law requiring broadcasters and distributors to comply with the Advanced Television Systems Committee standards by the end of last year.

“The rules we published bring us a step closer to our goal of eliminating loud TV ads,” acting CRTC chair Leonard Katz said in a statement.

“We have every expectation that the industry will take the necessary steps to meet our deadline and provide relief to viewers.”

Shale Wagman Toronto’s Billy Elliot Leaping At Chance To Win Canada’s Got Talent Final

Source: www.thestar.com - By Aonghus Kealy

(May 09, 2012) The Wagmans’ kitchen is alive as six boys, two Maltese-Shih Tzus and two parents buzz about.

This is a neighbourhood social hub in this Vaughan subdivision and the Wagmans say this is their quiet day in the middle of accountant dad Michael’s tax season, two teen sons’ hockey playoffs and youngest boy Shale’s busiest time for competitive dance.

Shale is the 12-year-old ballet and dance phenom in Citytv’s star search Canada’s Got Talent: dubbed Canada’s Billy Elliot by show host Dina Pugilese.

Unlike his brothers and many Canadian boys, he has no interest in hockey stars like Wayne Gretzky and Claude Giroux: he wants to be the next Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Shale was the top vote getter on the night of his semi-final performance in April, blowing away Canadians with a very emotional contemporary routine to Coldplay’s ballad “The Scientist,” getting a standing ovation from the 450-strong in attendance and the show’s three judges, comedian Martin Short, pianist and composer Stephan Moccio and opera soprano Measha Brueggergosman.

“I want to inspire Canadians to achieve their dreams,” Shale told the audience.

As one of 12 finalists competing Sunday (8 p.m. on Citytv), Shale has made his mark with strong support coast to coast, says John Brunton, the show’s executive producer.

“He’s just an extraordinary talent for his age and despite his age. He’ll only get better, but he’s pretty exceptional as a dancer now. Not just technique. It’s also that magical ability to move people and he carries himself very, very well.

“I call it angel dust, charisma.

“As a producer you always ask, ‘Can somebody hold the screen? Can you take your eyes off him?’ You’re not going to change the channel when Shale’s performing.”

Brunton says it’s the same with the other 11 competitors, including two opera singers, two beatboxers, three dance troupes and a rock band.

Training between 20 to 25 hours a week at Vlad’s Dance Company in Richmond Hill, Shale is the top competitive junior dancer (ages 9-12) at the private studio, where the main hallway glitters with gold trophies.

He trains for individual ballet performances, group chorus numbers, like the company’s upcoming annual June show, and with partners.

He has learned and excels at all forms of dance taught at Vlad’s. “He’s a multi-talented dancer. He’s strong in ballet, acrobatics, hip-hop, tap . . . ” says his trainer, Vlad Novitski. “He’s a little pro.”

But the little pro isn’t given the pro treatment at home. Heather Wagman, who Shale calls “my No. 1 fan,” says, “In our home, it’s about everybody. It’s not the Shale show at home. Everybody’s the same. There’s no special treatment.

“It would be very easy because he gets a lot of attention all of the time. Vlad keeps him very grounded.”

Earlier at home, Shale’s not really that interested in talking about himself, but he comes to life when the camera is ready. He walks on his toes across his mattress, then performs leaping splits and side jumps.

Looking at Star photographer Tara Walton’s playback, he isn’t happy with what she’s got.

Grimacing, he tells her, “My hand looks . . .” and bends his left one backwards to show it’s bent too far back for his standards. “Can we try it again?”

That’s typical, says Novitski. While the Russian choreographer creates all of Shale’s acts, he says Shale always adds his own touch to the final product. And he always seeks perfection.

“He’s one of those kids who never stops,” Novitski says. “I’ll ask him to do six pirouettes and he’ll do eight.”

Besides the Canada’s Got Talent final on Mother’s Day, Shale is in the middle of dance’s competitive season, which runs in April and May. While his brothers, Max, 15, and Jered, 13, are focused on playing for the Vaughan Rangers hockey team and the NHL playoffs, Shale is focused on competitions.

Twenty-six trophies cover one of the shelves on one bedroom wall, small black and white photo portraits on another.

And he has no interest in sticks and pucks, despite being part of a typical Canadian hockey family.

“No, not really. I love being unique, that’s just me.”

Does he watch his brothers play?

“Sometimes, when I don’t have dance and that’s like never.”

Heather Wagman says his community has embraced Shale and he has avoided being bullied despite being a dancer.

Shale is completely unconcerned with the effeminate stereotypes that come with dance.

“Dance is not an area only for women. Men started dance. Women couldn’t go on the stage. When people say something like that to me, I tell them they don’t know the history of dance and how it works.

“I like it because ballet is like a culture dance. Dance is expressing your feelings through movement, to be in a different place when you’re mad or sad. You just want to go into a different place in your own mind and that’s like dance.”


DANCE: A way to express your feelings.

HOCKEY: A sport that is very aggressive.

VLAD: My dancing coach that I love.

BLUE JAYS: A beautiful bird

HARRY POTTER: The movie and J.K. Rowling; yeah; I really don’t stay with it.

BALLET: A beautiful dance style that is the base of everything and makes you good at everything in dance.

BARYSHNIKOV: One of the best ballet dancers in the world. He’s my idol. I want to be really like him. He does things that are almost impossible and he’s just amazing.

TORONTO: The city I live in and that I love.

GROUP OF SEVEN: Very good art group that makes beautiful paintings and pictures.

SCHOOL: A place where I have a lot of friends and I look to be around my friends and teachers and a place I don’t like being all of the time.

MOM: My biggest fan, my No. 1 fan, I love her so much and she helps me so much for my career to become alive.

DAD: Also one of my No. 1 fans. Sacrifices a lot for my dreams to be accomplished.

BROTHERS MAX AND JERED: Also my No. 1 fans and always support me whatever I do and we will never grow apart.

RUBY AND SCOTCH: My two cute doggies that I love, I love to cuddle with them.

STUDIO: My best friends and all of my family is there.

CANADA’S GOT TALENT: I really, like, it’s the biggest talent show in the world and I love to be around everyone and it’s a great experience and opportunity.


Mick Jagger To Host 'SNL' Season Finale

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Paul Irish, The Associated Press

(May 03, 2012) Mick Jagger will test his comic chops later this month as host of the Saturday Night Live season finale. The Rolling Stones frontman has been a musical guest twice before on the long-running NBC show, and the network said Thursday he will perform musically on the May 19 finale. But he has never been host before, a job that usually requires participation in several comic skits. Jagger has starred in a number of movies, including Performance, Ned Kelly and Freejack. He has also performed in comic skits on past SNL shows [http://youtu.be/0zq_9jjsufe]. The Rolling Stones mark their 50th anniversary as a band this year but have yet to announce any activities to commemorate the occasion. Jagger last year put out a disc as part of a group called SuperHeavy, which also included reggae singer Damian Marley and former Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart.

Vivica Fox Joins the Cast of New Comedy Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 06, 2012) *Vivica Fox confirmed that the rumors are true. She’s back to television in a new comedy, “Mr. Box Office.” Official word is scheduled to come soon from Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Fox joins the cast of Allen’s new production, along with Keisha Knight Pulliam (of The Cosby Show), Jon Lovitz, and ex-NBA Star Rick Fox, according to HumorMillMag.com. Comedians Tony Roberts, Jeff Garcia and Alex Thomas also are on board with veteran actors Tim Meadows, Gary Busey and Clifton Davis. The show is anticipating on being a huge hit as it currently has a tall order of 104 episodes to fulfill. “Mr. Box Office” will premiere in the fall possibly on TBS or Byron Allen’s Comedy TV … or both, says Humor Mill.

Ving Rhames in TNT’s New Drama ‘Monday Mornings’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 08, 2012) *
Ving Rhames will have a regular small-screen gig next summer as part of TNT’s new medical drama “Monday Mornings.” From David E. Kelly and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, on whose book the series is based, the drama is set at the fictional Chelsea General Hospital in Portland, Ore. “Monday Mornings” follows the lives of doctors as they push the limits of their abilities and confront their personal and professional failings. The title refers to the hospital’s weekly morbidity and mortality conference, when doctors gather with their peers for a confidential review of complications and errors in patient care. Also in the cast: Alfred Molina, Jamie Bamber, Jennifer Finnigan, Bill Irwin, Keong Sim, Sarayu Rao and Emily Swallow. TNT has ordered a 10-episode first season, set to premiere in summer 2013.

NBC Picks Up Tyler James Williams Pilot ‘Go On’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 08, 2012) *
Tyler James Williams has just secured his first series since starring in “Everybody Hates Chris.” The young actor has been made a series regular on NBC’s recently picked up new comedy series “Go On,” according to Deadline.com. Matthew Perry stars as an irreverent-yet-charming sportscaster who tries to move on from loss with the help of members of his mandatory group therapy sessions. Williams plays Owen, whose brother has been in a coma following a skiing accident. “Go On” was one of two comedy pilots in which Williams had guest starring roles this season — he also played Martin Lawrence’s son in Lawrence’s CBS pilot. Williams will next be seen in the Disney Channel movie “Let It Shine.”

General Hospital Leads Daytime Emmy Award Nominations

Source: www.thestar.com - By Aonghus Kealy

(May 09, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. — ABC’s General Hospital leads the way with 23 nominations for Daytime Emmy Awards. The television academy announced Wednesday that the venerable soap opera will compete with NBC’s Days of Our Lives, CBS’ The Young and the Restless and the cancelled All My Children of ABC for best daytime drama. NBC’s The Bold and the Beautiful has won the trophy three years in a row but wasn’t nominated this year. Other repeat winners are possible, though: Ben Bailey of Cash Cab was nominated for best game show host and Dr. Mehmet Oz as best talk show host. Sesame Street and The Young and the Restless tied for second most nominations, with 16 apiece. ABC was the most honoured network with 56 nominations. The ceremony will be held in Beverly Hills, Calif., on June 23.


Jerry Seinfeld In Toronto: Aging Comedian’s Act Doesn’t Grow Old

www.thestar.com - By Tony Wong

(May 04, 2012)
Seinfeld’s nasal squawk is the calling card of the exasperated everyman.

With every shrill inflection he seems to be saying “Seriously, are you kidding me?” as he leaps into expertly meandering humour that is famously about nothing — but is really about everything. And over the years we have more than willingly followed him on that journey.

The cult of Seinfeld remains strong. The man made an estimated $70 million last year according to Forbes — mainly on residuals from a hit TV show that ended more than a decade ago. As he’s more than willing to tell you, he’s happy to coast.

“Let me tell you this: I’m old, I’m rich and I’m tired,” the 58-year-old New Yorker told an audience member in the first of his four sold-out shows Friday night, in answer to whether he was thinking of doing another television series. “Now I’ve gotta go. There’s a whole bunch of other people waiting to hear this crap.”

Dressed in a custom blue suit and tie, Seinfeld delivered a classic hour of nothingness at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts — at his strongest when talking about pop culture and family to the $100-a-seat crowd who were already hopped up on packs of $3 Junior Mints pushed by the ushers.

The jokes, while predictable, are finessed with impeccable delivery. Although an older, whinier Seinfeld seems to be veering perilously into cantankerous Gilbert Gottfried territory at times.

On Pop-Tarts: “When they invented the Pop-Tart, as a kid that clean blew my head off. It was the ’60s. All we had before that was toast. We were like chimps with sticks till that came along. After Pop-Tarts, I couldn’t figure out why they would invent any other food.”

On coffee houses: “Why do people when they buy coffee think they can pull up a chair and live there forever with their Wi-Fi? Just get your coffee and get the hell out of there.”

Seinfeld, the series, worked brilliantly of course, because he was the foil — while the characters of George, Elaine and Kramer created the improbable humour through vast, intersecting plot lines that layered the insane on top of the preposterous.

Seinfeld by himself is a talented jokester. He never had the intensity of a Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce — comedians who performed without a safety net. But stripped of the pyrotechnics and a strong supporting cast, his humour about nothing becomes even more spare. This can be a good thing. But it is reductive to the absurdist vision that made the original series so good.

While Seinfeld was always the meat, he badly needed garnish. Or new material.

Marriage and kids have done that. Now that he’s a father of three, the themes have matured for the better. He still talks about cereal. But that’s morphed into kids and marriage and into some of his strongest work.

On marriage: “Why would I want to hang around with my single friends? If you don’t have a wife and you only have a girlfriend, you’re just playing paintball. I’m married. I’m in Iraq with real loaded weapons.”

“You better get ready when you’re married. While you’re sleeping, she’s up all night researching her questions. It’s like always being in the lightning round on a game show.”

On kids: “Why would you want to have something that craps in their pants while looking you in the eye? I could never understand that.”

To his credit, Seinfeld has magnificently resisted the temptation to do more X-rated comedy or to spin a cheap laugh out of obscenity — without being Bill Cosby.

After all, it’s much harder to wander into a joke about Raisin Bran than it is to throw in the F-bomb.

He has had a stumble or two since his series wrapped (remember The Marriage Ref?), proving he is not infallible.

Seinfeld’s genius is that he is not seen to be trying too hard. And of course, with a building just for his Porsches and millions from syndication, he doesn’t have to. But don’t expect Seinfeld: The Movie, he says.

“It’s been 14 years,” he explains. “The last thing you want is to get up with all those HD cameras to see how all those old people have aged.”

From Harrowing To Alienating: Two Plays, Different Results

www.globeandmail.com - By J. Kelly Nestruck

(May 04, 2012) With
Crash, Pamela Sinha has written a truly harrowing piece of theatre, a play all the more remarkable for being her first.

In this one-woman show, Sinha tells the story, in the third person, of an unnamed rape survivor who has a flashback during her father's funeral. Details of the horror she endured at the hands of a stranger in a Montreal apartment a decade earlier are slowly revealed, interspersed between scenes showing how the traumatizing crime affected her relationships with her family members afterwards, and their relationships with each other and God.

The woman - she uses the word "girl" throughout to describe herself, as if trying to recover a lost innocence - struggles to remember the face of her attacker and is racked by guilt for either having been too afraid to commit it to memory, or for having blocked it out. "Can't remember isn't the same as forget," she says. "Forget is don't want to remember; can't remember is don't want to forget."

Though presented in a chopped-up chronology, there's nothing fuzzy about Sinha's narrative, and everything rings true in its heartbreaking uniqueness. It all feels deeply personal.

While new to playwriting, Sinha regularly appears on Toronto's stages as an actor - and here she gives the most powerful performance I've seen from her, chilly and controlled.

Director Alan Dilworth, who also shepherded Erin Shields's Governor-General's Award-winning play If We Were Birds to the stage, again provides a stylish but sensitive staging for a story of violence against women. He keeps the tension high throughout.

Taking full advantage of the Theatre Passe Muraille backspace's new augmented lighting plot, designer Kim Purtell has filled the tiny stage with an Escher-esque maze of black staircases, then throws pinpoint projections on them that take us to the scene of the crime and show us every piece of evidence. The whole package impresses thoroughly.

From a dark, black box to a bright, white one: Daniel Karasik's play
The Innocents is getting an indie production at Tarragon Theatre's studio space, lit by pillars of damning, fluorescent light.

Karasik is an up-and-comer. His play Haunted took the 2011 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition, while his short story Mine just won the CBC Short Story Prize last month.

The Toronto playwright is already, as they say, big in Germany, where The Innocents has been in repertory at the state theatre in Mainz for the past two years. Perhaps, however, this is a case of something being gained in translation.

The Innocents tells the story of a hot-shot Toronto lawyer in his mid-20s who finds himself defending a man about the same age and from a similar background up on murder charges after a botched robbery. Really, the case is a MacGuffin that allows Karasik to explore the very different quarter-life crises of these two, one a wunderkind beginning to question what he rushed for, the other a trustafarian mired in pot-enhanced existentialist angst.

Played by Karasik, Stanley the lawyer is the central figure, his chief hang-up being the fact he never had sex in high school or, indeed, since. His self-consciousness about that fact infects all areas of his interactions; it's not much of a peg to so heavily hang a play on, though.

There are also two female characters who Stanley irritates and enchants: Another wunderkind, a newspaper reporter played by Virgilia Griffith, sexy, smart and committed to getting the story using both those talents, as well as a singer working as waitress, played with truth by Amelia Sargisson. But they aren't so much humans in their own right, as beacons of hope for the two troubled men.

Karasik is obviously a smart guy. Indeed, the problem is, he's too obvious about his smarts. The over-the-top articulacy of the characters is like Aaron Sorkin on speed. It's alienating and I didn't believe anything about it aside from Sargisson's performance. I admired Jordan Tannahill's hyper-cool, oh-so-casual direction, however, complete with fully lit scene changes set to electro music.

If The Innocents were being live-tweeted, every second line could be followed by the hashtag #firstworldproblems. But it clearly has appeal. What I was impressed with here is that, catching up with it on a Wednesday mid-run, I was submerged in a sold-out sea of twentysomethings.

Both Crash and The Innocents run until May 13.


Written and performed by Pamela Sinha
Directed by Alan Dilworth
At Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto
4 stars

The Innocents
Written by and starring Daniel Karasik
Directed by Jordan Tannahill
At the Tarragon Theatre
2 stars

Choreographing 'The Undanceable'

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Kudelka

(May 07, 2012) I read The House of Mirth for the first time about 10 years ago. At the time, I was artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada and always on the lookout for possible narratives that could work for large-scale productions. This was a beautiful, moving discovery.

The ambiguity, the inexplicability of the heroine's actions seemed familiar, and very human. A woman at the height of her allure, her power - and her bad decisions, society turning its back on her. Lily's drift to the bottom, and sad, inevitable end, even after paying her debts. "Miss Bart will not be returning to the yacht." With that line, it is all over for her.

It turned my stomach, as Edith Wharton is so good at doing in her best work. It haunted me. It was also too complicated to get at in 19th-century full-length ballet terms.

There is really no love in the book. Marriage and status, yes, but I don't think the word love is even used in terms of a relationship in the text, if it is used at all. Ballet loves a good erotic duet or two; there was no place for that in this. Lily Bart is not the whore with a heart of gold that makes for a good juicy opera or ballet heroine like Violetta Valéry or Manon Lescaut. No virginity is lost in The House of Mirth. No promise of sexual awakening. Just choices, good and bad choices.

And these choices all have to do with money and power. Balanchine said there were no mothers-in-law in ballet and basically eschewed any complicated narrative in favour of a "see the music and hear the dance" philosophy. His ballets celebrated women, but his women never seemed to have the problems that Lily Bart has in his plotless celebrations of femininity. Facing the challenge of making a theatrical work based on The House of Mirth meant finding a way, beyond props and scenery, to get across the idea of wealth and its close relative, debt. The presentation would have to somehow get the financial challenges across which allow the narrative to take hold, and Lily's slow loss of all that she hoped for personally and in society to begin taking her down.

I continued to think about the book. And eventually, I came up with a concept that I thought would cover the undanceable and also allow for expressionistic choreography when that could do a better job at the story.

In the summer of 2009 I met with Laurence Lemieux and Bill Coleman of Coleman Lemieux Compagnie to present my idea - which I didn't think I could realize except with an organization willing to do new things in unusual places. A ballet company would not be open to the hybrid I was imagining. I didn't imagine an opera company would take a pitch like this seriously from a choreographer, since in my observation and experience, dance is considered well below singing in that world.

My colleagues at CLC are trusting, and knew that I would not present an idea to them that was not dear to me, and they know I like to create personal challenges for myself. Perhaps, indeed, had they known more about what I was up to, they might have pushed back. But it was clear between us that being attached to them as an organization meant that I would use the organization to do the kind of work I couldn't do anywhere else.

I began talking to composer Rodney Sharman. We agreed to the basic idea that half the characters would sing and half would dance: To keep the narrative on track, and to keep the story accessible, we needed to use text. We also came to the decision that there would be male singers and female dancers. I like my creative assignments to be tidy and clear-cut and I thought that Lily could have an identity choreographically while, for a simple example, needing money could be spoken of by the man giving the loan. It was a hunch on my part, an intuition that having the four male characters drawn from Wharton's novel handle the narrative plot points and the women represent the layers of women in a gilded-age home - the young, the unmarried (Lily), the married, and the matriarch - would serve as a good toolbox for telling the story in a simple, straightforward way.

(To say any more about intuition, hunches, luck, trusting the process, vision would be next to futile. What I have learned in my years of making dances - and making narrative dances in particular - is that, like the pragmatist, you have to know what you are trying to accomplish; but like the idealist, you have to be open to many ways of getting there. In other words, I have to be both my own king and priest at the same time. Rule and serve at the same time. You have to look like you know what you are doing but you have to make sure that you don't. That is when the process becomes the most fun. And believe me, it takes years to perfect this. But that is where the inspiration lies, somewhere between knowing and not knowing.)

There was talk of having a dancing and singing Lily - which, apart from Anna in Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins, is usually not a very attractive device, and even in that work, doesn't always gel - but in the end, we stuck to the plan. And if it was restricting for the composer to have only male voices, it was equally restrictive for me to have only female dancers.

Next in importance to build the creative team, I had to find the librettist. I was put on to Alex Poch-Goldin, and after a summer of his first libretto writing and then Rodney's composing, we began a series of workshops.

With each workshop, we heard more, staged more of the work, and learned more about how this story could be stripped down to a series of scenes with varying combinations of performers, and then linked together to form a narrative chain, echoing Edith Wharton's novel without trying to play out every scene in it. We used the musical term "song cycle" to get ourselves away from the idea of a play-by-play of scenes from the book.

As the work evolved with the mix of singers amongst the dancers, each discipline's ability to weave the narrative tapestry has been inspiring. At no point, despite early fears, does it seem as if the women are weaker than the men. They have a particular voice through the choreography and staging and have whole scenes to themselves besides.

The intent was not to make the undanceable danceable. If anything, my intent is to broaden my abilities. To learn to work with singers as well as to see them move and expand on that. The company of singers and dancers does a movement warm-up together before every rehearsal session. It is wonderful to watch. I am very fond of untrained performers and I like pedestrian movement as an artist likes a certain type of pencil for a certain effect. Their gestures are simpler and more human. And my goal was to make a theatrical version of a very beautifully told story. To pay tribute to Wharton's novel with another work of art. If it takes dancers and singers and musicians to do it, that only makes it more interesting and stretches some boundaries.

The work is meant to be seen from a close vantage point, ideally in a site-specific gilded-age space - ballroom, library, great hall, parlour. The audience should be seated on the same level as the performers, curved around the playing area, players in the play. The instrumentalists are a chamber orchestra in a grand home at an evening salon. The characters come out of this world and create the story in front of you with no more than their salon setting and rich clothing to take you into their world.

I asked the costume designers, Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell of Hoax Couture, to create a palette for the women's clothing based on money, on gold, on incredible wealth. Lily in a shiny, cooler tone, turns colourless and grey as she loses her footing in society.

"No one will ever know the cost of beauty," Alex has written in his libretto. Except Lily Bart, who pays dearly for having it, and needing it and losing it.

From the House of Mirth runs at the Citadel, 304 Parliament St., Toronto, from May 9 to 13.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Marc Martel On The Queen Extravaganza

Source: www.thestar.com - By Paul Irish

(May 06, 2012) Montrealer Marc Martel, 35, will be playing the late, great Freddie Mercury in a musical travelling performance of the rock band Queen's musical legacy.

Queen Extravaganza, under the control of Queen drummer Roger Taylor, one of the group's original members, will soon be taking the stage at major centres across North America. It starts in Quebec City on May 26 and hits Toronto's Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 29.

We caught up with Martel recently when he was in town rehearsing.

Q:OK. There's a bit of a resemblance to Freddie, but listening to you sing his songs I'm sure there's people that can't tell the difference. I know that both Brian May and Roger Taylor were mesmerized and said you sounded exactly like their late friend.

A: To tell you the truth, if I hear a quick clip of music there are times I can't even tell the difference. The band has some great material and it's an honour and a pleasure to be singing it. He was a great performer, he loved his fans and I hope I do him justice.

Q: It's obvious you must have been following the band's work for a long time, you can hit every note and your delivery is spot on.

A: Well, I have always been involved in music and I'm currently a singer in a Christian rock band called Downhere, but the first time I can really remember hearing any of the bands work is when I heard Bohemian Rhapsody in Mike Myers' Wayne's World movie. A friend knew I have kind of a gift for picking up on other singers' voices and he encouraged me to pick up on Freddie.

Q: What should the audience expect? Is it an authentic tribute right down to the shag haircuts, bared chests and Freddie's black leotards?

A: Not even close. Roger is overseeing the whole thing and it's a celebration of the music. The material is so powerful, so varied that's all you need to carry the band's legacy. I'm not even expected to move around like Freddie — there are a few fashion nods to the era — but nothing crazy.

Q:As you say, it's all about the music. The band had such a distinct sound. It was so layered and, at times, very lush. There was always a lot going on but it was always delivered with a bow.

A: Agreed. The sound was very distinct and that's why there's nine people in the band. That's how many it takes to get us where we want to go. There's three other singers and two guitarists. As I said, this isn't a tribute band with each of us playing one of the guys, this is all about getting the music exactly where it should be. The band had a huge, huge following and sold millions of records. Queen still has a huge following and Roger doesn't want anyone disappointed.

Q:You've obviously performed before, but you've never been on an extended road show like this. Are you prepared?

A: That's why we have four singers. I won't be singing lead all the time, it would just be too hard on your voice. The act has some incredible vocalists and we all get along. And working with someone like Roger is just beyond belief. I just didn't know what to expect but everyone has just been great. The best part of all this is that I know it's going to be fun.

Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre’s TransMigration celebrates Norval Morrisseau

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(May 08, 2012) In his late teens
Norval Morrisseau, later to become a celebrated native Canadian artist, was very sick. An Anishinabe spirit healer recommended a ritual renaming ceremony. Morrisseau’s mother chose an auspicious name, Copper Thunderbird. He then used it to sign all his work.

Morrisseau also frequently featured the thunderbird in his now iconic paintings, but another creature, the serpent, was also a recurring motif. The former symbolizes positive spiritual strength, the latter darkness and evil. Morrisseau experienced a tension between both in his personal life. In celebrating Morrisseau’s legacy through dance, Ojibwe choreographer Santee Smith is not afraid to acknowledge these polarized extremes.

TransMigration, Smith’s latest work for her Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre, is not, she emphasizes, a Morrisseau biography, but at its centre is a figure, “The Artist,” who in many respects represents the man himself — in good times and bad.

Smith met Morrisseau only once, a few years before his death in 2007. By then, suffering from advanced Parkinson’s, he was in a wheelchair and barely speaking. Even so, it was a special moment for Smith because Morrisseau’s images and the native spirituality they expressed had been inspiring her, as they have many others, for a long time.

“From early on,” she says, “I was struck by the boldness of the imagery and use of strong colours.”

In his art, the self-taught Morrisseau created a bridge between his own native traditions and contemporary Western art practice. Marc Chagall dubbed him the “Picasso of the North.” As a dance artist, it’s a connection Smith understands.

She attended the National Ballet School in Toronto for six years but then, as she pursued a degree at McMaster University, essentially put formal dance training behind her, although she did absorb much of her native dance heritage attending ceremonies on the Six Nations Reserve.

It was her kinesiology studies that reconnected her to movement and spurred a new interest in choreography. But rather than try to reproduce native dance styles in a theatrical format, Smith has built her reputation with choreography that evokes a native sensibility, its spiritual traditions and narratives, through an evocative fusion of ballet and contemporary dance.

As Smith learned more about Morrisseau’s personal demons, especially his battle with alcohol, she also came to understand his own belief in transmigration, from body to pure spirit.

In bringing the themes of Morrisseau’s life to the stage, Smith has fortunate to secure the collaboration of Raoul Trujillo, an American dancer and successful film and TV actor with long and strong ties to native artists in Canada.

Trujillo’s role in a seven-member cast — Smith herself portrays Morrisseau’s wife — provides a central focus. Local dancer Michael Caldwell plays the younger Morrisseau and 22-year-old Arik Pipestem, a virtuoso hoop dancer, gives what Smith calls a contemporary interpretation of this tradition. “I wanted the hoop because circles are such a prominent part of Norval’s work,” she explains.

TransMigration, says Smith, is a response to Morrisseau’s “vision, struggles and brilliance as an artist.” He helped give native artists a sense of confidence and pride in their heritage, one that Smith feels impelled to uphold.

TransMigration runs May 10 to 13, Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W. Go to www.harbourfrontcentre.com or call 416-973-4000.


RIM Offers Sneak Preview Of New Blackberry 10

www.globeandmail.com - By Iain Marlow

(May 1, 2012) Research In Motion Ltd.'s
RIM-T new CEO Thorsten Heins unveiled an early version of the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 platform, but investors signalled the new software may not be the desperately needed breakthrough to help RIM reverse its steep slide.

RIM has poured vast resources into BlackBerry 10, essentially betting the company's future on the new platform's ability to win back market share lost to Apple Inc.'s iPhone and other high-end smartphones.

Providing a glimpse of a version of the new operating system, Mr. Heins made it clear that RIM hopes to position the new BlackBerrys as the smartphone for serious people, a device running over RIM's secure network that makes communication efficient and effortless.

In a presentation that featured video clips of busy professionals using BlackBerrys in the workplace and cameos by senior executives from Cisco Systems Inc. and SalesForce, Mr. Heins stressed that BlackBerry 10 is a tool to boost productivity.

Investors, however, were not impressed, and pushed RIM shares down nearly 6 per cent after the unveiling of the new device.

The prototype touch-screen device was released early to help software developers build apps for the new platform, due out later this year. In a brief demonstration, Mr. Heins emphasized the software's sleek interface, which integrates various messaging functions, a new digital keyboard that adapts to how users type, and the fact that it will save busy people some very precious time.

"I'm so excited to have this in my hand and show it to you, because I know how much work has gone into it," Mr. Heins told an audience at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida. As a RIM employee demonstrated the new features - and showed a video in which a user can zoom in within a photo and wind back the image to open a subject's eyes - Mr. Heins gushed, "I love it, I love it. This is so cool."

Reactions to the software varied. National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson said the new functionality was "intriguing," but said a lack of hard partnership announcements in Mr. Heins's address contributed to the stock's decline.

Mr. Heins, who took over from RIM's long-time co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January, has rallied the company behind this project at a crucial time in RIM's history. Plummeting market share, a collapsed stock price and a lagging product portfolio have turned the Waterloo, Ont.-based technology giant from a leader into a laggard - and the fast-paced nature of the consumer technology industry means there isn't much time left to orchestrate a turnaround.

Though clearly a vast improvement over RIM's previous software, it’s still unclear whether RIM can bring out the actual devices fast enough, without any missteps and with a support structure of third-party apps that would help convince current BlackBerry users to upgrade - and undecided smartphone buyers to pick RIM's platform.

"These are for people who are hyper communicators, who are trying to get things done, whether you're a mom or a business professional," says Maribel Lopez, a mobile industry consultant based in San Francisco who was at the conference. "There's a great international audience here. Globally, people care about this platform. The message, I think, was a good message - it was a clearer message than in the past. Now it's just, 'Can you execute on it?' "

One of RIM's most noticeable problems has been a dearth of quality apps - from popular games to news applications - that are available on Apple Inc.'s iOS and Google Inc.'s Android. The problem originated with RIM's operating system, with architecture that wasn't designed with apps in mind, but was complicated by RIM's numerous devices, which all had varying screen sizes and processing power.

RIM is trying to change all of that with a unified operating system, better tools for developers, and a certification process that guarantees certain developers will make at least $10,000 in their app's first year - or RIM will pay the difference.

And though it will be tough to recreate the scale of apps that has come from Apple's success with the iPhone, early signs from developers at the conference seemed positive. Madhu Kesavan, who founded Card2Contact - an app that allows users to upload a picture of a business card and have outsourced employees in India digitize the information - said he and others at BlackBerry World were excited about the platform. "I can see the traction here - (developers) want to touch the device, they want to develop apps for the device," Mr. Kesavan said. He added developers have long had problems with RIM's previous operating systems, which were simply incremental improvements on the previous version. "Here, with BlackBerry 10, it is a complete break."


Big Lava Love In Hawaii

www.globeandmail.com - By Catherine Dawson March

(May 04, 2012) "Whoa! What is that?" my son cried as our car turned a corner on Chain of Craters Road. We'd
been driving through Hawaiian rain forest, past towering ferns and tall ohia trees. But now there was no vegetation at all. As far as the eye could see, slabs of hardened black lava rose out of the ground at odd angles - some as big as refrigerators, others no larger than a coffee table.

The lava was not smooth like the solid puddles of old flow we'd seen in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. And it wasn't like the rough jumble of baseball-size lava rocks that stretched out for miles like tilled fields in the park and elsewhere on the island. This sci-fi lava landscape looked like a bleak episode of Star Trek, or if you're 7, a pretty cool place to run around. As I tried to keep up with Jack, our Hawaiian guide, Warren Costa, who used to work at the park, told us why it all looked so weird, how a forest had been obliterated by sulphur-gas-rich lava about 40 years ago. The lava had cooled and hardened around tree trunks, and then the ground had sunk, leaving tall black columns, many with hollow cores, where trees used to be.

Jack and I had come to the Pacific Ring of Fire (a volcanic region) to see a real live volcano. The entire state of Hawaii is made up of ancient and newer volcanoes, but it's on the Big Island where you'll find Kilauea, a volcano that has been erupting continuously since 1983 - not in massive, spectacular blowouts (though it has put on a glorious show at times), but in near continuous slow-moving molten flows. Much of it heads to the ocean; along with destroying more than 180 homes and businesses, Kilauea has added 500 acres of new land to the island.

From the moment we landed at Kona International, built on top of 200-year-old lava, the landscape took our breath away. The drive up the Kona coast to our resort is on a two-lane highway that cuts through miles and miles of sharp, chunky lumps of what's called a'a lava. Clumps of dried grass break up the black expanse (as do eye-catching messages "written" with carefully arranged white coral found on a nearby beach), but little else. It's a bleak but fascinating drive, and so different from the lush vegetation we'd see later in our stay. Our resort, the five-star Four Seasons Hualalai, uses the lava to great effect: Its 18-hole golf course was built carefully around the sharp dark rocks. The contrast - green grass, black lava and, in the distance, a white-sand beach and turquoise ocean - is jaw-dropping.

But all that luxury would have to wait - we were headed for hot lava. Jack is fascinated with the science of volcanoes. But no book, nor the kitchen experiments, prepared us for the power of an active volcanic area.

Throughout Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we see and feel steam vents that emit scalding vapour (many are hidden, so don't go off the trail) and smoking sulphur banks give us a whiff of the power below our feet. Then there's the vog (volcanic smog). The sulphur dioxide gas smells terrible and irritates the lungs, and a portion of the park has been closed for four years because of it. But rainy weather keeps the vog down on the day we visit. Hawaii Volcanoes, at nearly 135,000 hectares, covers the summits and rift zones of Kileau and Mauna Loa, two of the world's most active volcanoes. The landscape swings from oceans of iridescent black rock, to lava fields dotted with ohia trees (the first plant to take root after an eruption), to lush rain forest that flourishes in rich volcanic soil hundreds of years after a lava flow.

Warren takes us up to the rim of the Kilauea Caldera to peer into a valley some three kilometres long and nearly five km wide. The Halemaumau Crater is smoking impressively. As we hike, cinders crunch beneath our feet like gravel. Warren reaches down, grabs a handful and sifts through it. He pushes out two small, smooth black droplets with his fingernail. "These are Pele's tears," he says, created when molten lava is hurled into the air. These tears are sacred to Pelehonuamea, the volcano goddess, and we can't take them home with us. He warns us not to take any lava rocks home, either.

Jack is taken with the legend - how ancient Hawaiians believed Pele created the fiery islands in a fight with her sister, Namaka, the goddess of water. Soon Warren also finds "Pele's hair," long thin glassy filaments of lava. Jack ever so gently picks up a piece but the brittle fragment breaks. As we look for more, Warren distracts us with a story and a taste of the sweet Ohelo berry - a native plant also sacred to Pele. Even today some believers won't eat the fruit until a ripe branch has been offered to the goddess by tossing it into a smoking crater. Uh-oh! I wish he'd mentioned that before I ate one.

Close by, the 400-year-old Thurston Lava Tubes await. Warren brings us here late in the day on purpose: The tour buses are long gone, and the dense towering hapu ferns and ohia trees make it feel like we're cut off from the rest of the world. And the tubes! They are a wonder of nature, created when lava cools and hardens at the surface, but still runs red hot underneath like a straw feeding lava to the ocean. The dimly lit, 800-metre tunnel is deserted; Jack runs ahead to explore and disappears into the darkness. Being inside an old eruption is nearly as good as seeing one live.

We spend hours enthralled by the volcanic landscape, enchanted by the Nene, the critically endangered Hawaiian goose we find beside the road, and marvel at how some trees continue growing even though their roots are encased in old lava. Finally, as darkness descends we get our first look at the red-hot lava lake in the smoky Halema'uma'u Crater. We're at an overlook 143 metres above, and unfortunately that's as close as we'll get. During our visit, in early March, there is no flowing lava - though on some days you can watch it pour spectacularly into the ocean at Kalapana outside the park. But at the end of a long day, this warm orange-red glow is enough for both of us.

We say goodbye to Warren and get back into our car for the long drive to the other side of the island. It would have been easier to stay in the nearby town of Hilo, but we've had enough of the tropical rains that make this part of the island so green. We're headed back to our resort on the sunnier, drier Kona coast, and the luxurious lushness on offer at the Four Seasons Hualalai.

At every turn, the Hualalai is a stunner. The ocean views, the long white beach, the king-size hammocks, the new adult-only pool that takes pampering to a whole new level with poolside massages, mini Zen gardens and alcohol-laced shaved ice cones. During our stay, we spend a lot of time by the ocean, strolling (me) and clambering (Jack) along the lava-rock ocean walk, combing the tide pools at sunset and watching for whales and honu (sea turtles) from comfy lounge chairs. One of the seven pools is King's Pond, a snorkelling aquarium carved into lava rock that's stocked with 3,000 fish and a spotted eagle ray. It's a fantastic, relaxed spot to try to ease uneasy swimmers into the sport. Snorkelling gear is free to use and, thankfully, the resort also offers child-size rafts with a window to the underwater world.

But even when we got out of the water, we never stopped feeling its presence. Both the Pahuia and Beach Tree restaurants gave us decadent sunset views right on the beach. Here, 75 per cent of the dishes are prepared using local foods from nearby farmers: Try the white pineapple, Kona oranges, ahi poke (a raw fish salad) and Kona coffee-crusted steak. (Aficionados will already know that Kona is a sweet mild brew grown only on the Big Island; they may not know Four Seasons arranges boutique tours of Green Gecko Coffee Farm. It's a fascinating, personal wander around a small farm on the side of a volcano, and the owners brew up a fresh pot to share while you indulge in such exotic fruits as vee, star apples and magic berries from their orchards.)

On our last day in this slice of paradise, it's Kona coffee I'm drinking to prepare for our overnight flight home. I'm trying to pack when Jack cries out in horror: "Mom, there's lava in my shoes!" Sure enough, there are several large pebbles of lava in the treads of his sneakers. This is serious. Taking rocks off Pele's island brings bad luck - the park's visitor centre receives a lot of mail from tourists returning lava to erase any possible curse.

"We've got to take it back to Pele," he pleads. But there's not enough time to cross the island again. Instead, I dig out the rocks with tweezers and we have a small ceremony on our patio. We thank Pele for sharing her volcanoes with us, promise we'll come back as soon as we can, and toss the rocks into the orchids and spider lilies outside. After eating that sacred Ohelo berry, I wasn't taking any chances.


What to do: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open year-round. Check the website for information on current eruption activity. The $10 entrance fee per car is good for one week. There are no restaurants and few services in the park, so come prepared with lunch, snacks and water for a day of exploring. Volcano village, a mile east of the Kilauea visitor centre, has restaurants and lodging. nps.gov/havo

Kona Coffee Tour: Hawaii is the only American U.S. State to grow coffee, and on the Big Island Kona is king. You can sample the sweet, mild brew at several farms, but try to arrange a small, boutique tour at Green Gecko Farm built on the slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano. Owners Michael Katz and Lawton Allenby let you gnaw on ripe coffee cherries and eat the exotic fruits such as rambutans, loquit, vee, white pineapples and miracle berries as you wander their groves. The variety of exotic fruits and flowers growing throughout the property is unforgettable. 808-324-1600; www.greengeckocoffee.com

Get A Guide: It's easy to drive around the park in a rental car, but a local guide takes you off the map. Native Guide Hawaii is a one-man operation: Warren Costa is a Hilo local, is an archeologist by training (he used to work at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park), packs a great lunch of local foods, and knows how to make volcanic fact and folklore entertaining for all ages. 808-982-7575; nativeguidehawaii.com

Where To Stay: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is easily the most luxurious getaway on Big Island. The 243 rooms feature L'Occitane amenities and some have outdoor garden showers. 72-100 Ka'upulehu Dr., Kailua-Kona; 888-340-5662; Fourseasons.com/hualalai; from $545 (U.S.).

More accommodation can be found closer to the park in Hilo (about a 30-minute drive) or Volcano Village, a mile outside the park gates. Find rain forest cottage rentals at hawaiivolcanovacations.com; and boutique hotel rooms at volcano-hawaii.com/accommodations.

Discover One Of The Caribbean’s Best Spas

www.globeandmail.com - By Catherine Dawson March

Si Si Penaloza
The treatment

(May 02, 2012) With colonial cottages perched on windswept shores, and intimate tea parlours filled with patois and pastries, Nisbet Plantation
Nevis delivers the fantasy of a laid-back leisure colony by the sea. The resort scored a spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Gold List 2012, as well as a ranking among the magazine’s top choices in the Caribbean for its new full-service spa. To get with the island flow, spa director Valencia Griffin recommends the Noni Body Wrap, a treatment using a fruit grown on Nevis. She tells me the noni plant has been used for generations throughout the tropics for its remarkable healing potency. To begin, she applies a noni herbal elixir gel over my body, immediately cooling me off from the midday sun. She then swaddles me in a wrap and, once I’m all tucked in, treats me to a toe-tingling scalp massage. After quickly showering off the gel, I literally leap back onto the table, eagerly anticipating the next stage of the treatment: a warm coconut milk massage. And once she moves from my hamstrings to my calves, I can see why the pro cyclists on the island keep her number close. Her touch is thorough, deep and restorative. The perfect way to start a Nevis stay.

The benefits

This natural anti-inflammatory is highly effective in calming sunburn-induced redness. It’s used by fire dancers to soothe their feet from burns, and it also naturally tightens slack skin.

The spa

The Nisbet Plantation has an illustrious past (the 1778 Great House is the ancestral home of Fanny Nisbet, who wed British naval hero Horatio Nelson here) and its popular with the likes of Prince Charles, who enjoyed the property as a bachelor. The spa offers high-integrity treatments by Epicuren and La Natura in a low-key, hushed atmosphere. After your treatment, the complete unwind continues as you’re invited to sip tea or Champagne on a private patio under the swaying palm trees. While Nisbet is best known as a place to escape and do nothing, the concierge team happily arranges nearby golf, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, sailing, horseback riding or mountain biking for guests who wish to explore the volcanic island.

The Basics

Nisbet Plantation in St. James Parish, Nevis, West Indies; 1-800-742-6008;
nisbetplantation.com; $117 for 60 minutes.

Special to The Globe and Mail


Canadian-owned I’ll Have Another wins Kentucky Derby

www.thestar.com - Beth Harris

(May 05, 2012) LOUISVILLE, KY.—Canadian-owned
I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in the final furlong Saturday to win the Kentucky Derby, winding up in the winner’s circle despite a rookie jockey, a more famous stable pony, and a price tag of just $11,000 as a yearling.

With Mario Gutierrez aboard, the chestnut colt stormed out of post No. 19 — the first winner from that slot in 138 runnings of the Derby — and bided his time back in mid-pack while Bodemeister set a blistering pace on a hot, muggy afternoon.

“He’s an amazing horse,” Gutierrez said. “I told everybody before the first time I rode him, I knew he was the one.”

But a record crowd of 165,307 looking on didn’t know I’ll Have Another, owned by Windsor’s J. Paul Reddam, had
the goods until the 20-horse field turned for home. That’s when Gutierrez, who moved up between horses around the final turn, positioned his colt not far from the rail and set him down to run.

I’ll Have Another overhauled a tiring Bodemeister to win by 1 ½ lengths at 15-1 odds. He paid $32.60, $13.80 and $9.

Bodemeister, trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, was second and returned $6.20 and $5.60. Dullahan was a neck back in third and paid $7.20 to show.

Trainer Doug O’Neill didn’t waste any time vowing that I’ll Have Another will go on to the Preakness in two weeks.

“Maryland, here we come baby!” he said.

I’ll Have Another made his way to the starting gate accompanied by his stable pony, Lava Man, another cheap purchase turned into a career winner of more than $5 million by O’Neill. The trainer has made his name predominantly in Southern California, although he’s won three Breeders’ Cup races.

One of his best horses, Steviewonderboy, was the winter favourite for the 2006 Derby before being sidelined by injuries early that year.

Canada Beats Switzerland 3-2 At World Hockey Championship

Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Johnston

(May 09, 2012) HELSINKI—Ryan Getzlaf came through in the clutch for Canada at the IIHF world hockey championship.

With the possibility of an upset hanging in the air at Hartwall Arena, the captain scored 8:02 into the third period Wednesday as Canada edged Switzerland 3-2.

Getzlaf pumped his fist enthusiastically after carrying the puck into the Swiss zone and hammering a shot past Tobias Stephan from the top of the right circle. It was his first goal of the tournament.

John Tavares and Jordan Eberle also had goals for Canada (3-0-1). Cam Ward returned to the goal and picked up the victory.

Damien Brunner and Goran Bezina replied for Switzerland (2-2-0).

It was a typically tight game against the Swiss, who have proven to be a tough opponent for Canada on the international stage since an upset victory at the 2006 Olympics in Turin.

The Canadians didn’t do themselves any favours by failing to convert on four power-play opportunities in the opening 40 minutes. As a result, the score was tied 1-1 heading into the final period.

Eberle changed that quickly, finishing off a nice individual rush with a backhander over Stephan at 41 seconds. But Bezina tied things up a little over three minutes later on a Swiss power play with a shot from the middle of the ice that got past Ward.

After Getzlaf put Canada ahead, the Swiss couldn’t muster another comeback while playing for the second time in as many nights.

There was very little evidence of fatigue early on. Brunner, a free agent who is drawing interest from NHL teams, gave the vocal gathering of Swiss fans a jolt when he scored just 1:40 into the game. The puck landed right on his stick after bouncing off a Canadian player.

Tavares tied it 1-1 just 35 seconds into the middle period when Eberle’s shot deflected in off his skate. It gave Tavares 14 world championship goals in just 18 career games for Canada.

Notes: Canadian forward Alex Burrows sat out his third straight game after suffering a concussion in the tournament opener. He could return Friday against Finland . . . Ward earned an assist on Getzlaf’s goal . . . Switzerland’s lone victory over Canada at the world championship came in 2010 . . . The Swiss are coached by Canadian-born Sean Simpson . . . Announced attendance was 4,589.

Canada Wins Men's Olympic Volleyball Qualifying Opener

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Christie

(May 07, 2012) Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon produced 12 points as Canada opened the Olympic qualifying tournament in men's volleyball Monday with a solid 25-21, 25-13, 25-15 victory over the Dominican Republic at Long Beach, Calif.

It was the first match this season for the Canadian squad, which reunited only a couple of weeks ago after their professional seasons overseas. It was the start Canada's head coach Glenn Hoag wanted to this tournament in which only the winner gets the Olympic spot.

The only drama in the match was early in the first set when the Dominicans, ranked 46th in the world, overcame 7 -11 deficit to tie the match 12-12. Then Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ont., Canada's elder statesman playing his 212th international match served for five straight points which knocked the wind out of the Dominican sails.

''There was a little bit of nervousness at the start but the guys stayed calm,'' said Hoag. ''It was very encouraging for our first game together. It's not only the result but it's the way we won today that really gives the guys a lot of confidence.''

Middle blocker Justin Duff of Winnipeg says the other countries at the tournament have also assembled quickly for this tournament which makes it an even field.

''We've been doing this for a few years now so we should know what to expect,'' said Duff, who earned 11 points, including five on blocks. ''What I like about the win is we duplicated what we've been doing in training. We knew we could come into this game and do very well.''

The competition will get much tougher from here on in for Canada, ranked 18th in the world. They face number-17 Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and conclude the round robin Wednesday vs number-five Cuba. The top team in the pool gets a bye to the semi-final while second and third crossover in the quarterfinal.

The Group A teams are the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Mary Spencer Goes For Fourth Career Women’s World Boxing Title At Olympic Qualifier

Source: www.thestar.com - Gregory Strong

(May 08, 2012) Boxer
Mary Spencer is expected to be one of Canada’s best bets for a medal at the Summer Olympics.

But she can’t book her ticket to London just yet. There is still one more important hurdle to clear.

The AIBA women’s world boxing championships, which begin later this week in Qinhuangdao, China, will serve as the qualification event for the Games. Spencer will need a strong performance in the 75-kilogram category to lock up a spot in London.

Spencer, who held the top position in the April world rankings, should get a favourable draw on Friday. However, fighters from powerhouse nations like the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela could give her a tough test.

As a three-time world champion, she knows her opponents will be gunning for her.

“I’m very comfortable having a target on my back because I’ve had one on my back since I started boxing,” Spencer said in a recent interview. “My very first Canadian championship that I went to, I won gold. My very first world championship I won gold. So I’ve always had that target.

“The fact I’m going into the Olympic qualifier with that target, I feel right at home.”

Regional considerations come into play in the Olympic qualification process.

Spencer can secure her spot in London, where women’s boxing will make its Olympic debut, with an appearance in the final. She would still have a chance to qualify if she doesn’t make it that far but it would depend on the results of the other competitors.

The finals are scheduled for May 19.

Spencer’s remarkable consistency took a hit in early April when she dropped a 27-14 decision to American Claressa Shields in the final of the American Boxing Confederation’s continental championships in Cornwall, Ont.

Shortly after the loss, Spencer said she planned to have Shields’ name inscribed on a bracelet that would serve as motivation in the lead-up to the Games.

“She can come back from a loss like no one I’ve ever seen,” said teammate Mandy Bujold.

Spencer, 27, was born in Wiarton, Ont., and grew up in Windsor. The 5-foot-11 fighter captured gold at the Pan American Games last fall in Mexico and carried the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.

While she’s an Olympic rookie, Spencer is already a rising star on the Canadian team. In addition to being the new face of CoverGirl, Spencer is featured prominently in a new ad campaign from the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Her coach, Charlie Stewart, is confident the three-time world champion will thrive when the heat is on.

“She’ll rise to the occasion,” Stewart said. “She’ll eat that up. She loves that kind of pressure. That’s what makes her stand out from other athletes.”

Other Canadians to watch at the world championships include Sandra Bizier of Quebec City in the 60-kg division and Bujold, of Kitchener, Ont., in the 51-kg category.

Canada’s men are also looking to punch their ticket to London at a regional qualifying event currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro.

There will be 10 different weight classes for the men at the Olympics.