Updated: April 15, 2004
hear that the rain is supposed to end soon (siggghh)! Happy birthday to
me! Look for me on CKLN 88.1 FM
on Sunday, April 18 as Carl Allen generously gives
me air time for an interview. Tune in and call in folks! Some cool
interviews this week - one with the incomparable and humble JAZZY JEFF and the other with movie
and television star, BENZ ANTOINE - both share their
perceptions on many things, including this, our Canada. Have a look
for all the scoop on Irie Mondays being back, the Get Reel Film Festival and the amazing Ali Shaheed comes to town!
Check out pictures from the awesome Syreeta Neal CD launch in my PHOTO GALLERY.
There's lots of exciting entertainment news below - have a scroll and a click!
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. Want your events listed by date? Check out EVENTS.
Interview With Jazzy Jeff
I missed Jeff while he was in Toronto but caught up with him by phone in Montreal on Friday, April 9th (Good Friday). This is an interview that speaks on the music industry, success, real music and thinking outside of the box. Also, how much a fan of Canada this talented and global artist is.
How was it being back in Toronto?
I’ve always loved Toronto. I mean, I’ve always loved Canada from the first time that I came up here and started playing again. You always get a bunch of love in Toronto and it’s really cool when you can go to a place and you start to get acquainted with some of the local people. Then you get a sense of the city and you feel that you know your way around a little bit and you feel a little bit more at home.
It’s to the point that I know some of the same Custom agents going through Customs just getting in the country! Coming up there has always been a lot of love. I’ve played up there at a bunch of clubs and the crowds are always very receptive. I’ve always felt that Canadian crowds have a lot more music appreciation than the U.S. crowds. It’s funny because a lot of times the Canadian crowds think that they’re not up on music like the U.S. is and I actually think that the Canadian crowds are more advanced that the U.S. is.
I think we have a more refined taste. We don’t have the history, especially in hip hop that America does though.
You have a greater appreciation though. I like some of the stuff that they play on the radio today. I just don’t think that that should be just it. I like when you can go to a club and you can play Tribe Called Quest or Pete Rock but you can also play a Neptunes song and a Young Gunz song. If it’s all the way across the board, then I’m all for it. I just don’t like when you start to block out certain types of music.
I think it’s important in anything to remember your history and to pay respect to those that started the whole thing.
Especially with hip hop because hip hop is always recycled. A lot of these records that people are doing over now are old hip hop classics. You need to understand that these records weren’t made today. In the early days of hip hop when you would sample some other record, it kind of gave you an appreciation for the original record that you sampled.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian hip hop artists?
I love Saukrates, Choclair. I love K-OS. I mean, there’s a bunch of them. From the first time that I heard any of the Canadian hip hop, I’ve always felt that it was something that really really should have been played in the U.S. Especially acts like Saukrates and Choclair. You know, listening to the records – I’m a huge fan of those guys. Also, Kardinal Offishall. I was so happy when Glenn Lewis used Kardinal on his song. I was like I really hope this song blows up. To me, Kardinal was very very close to just taking off worldwide. I think it’s still there. I bought pretty much every record that Saukrates and Choclair have made. Kardinal was a regular in my set. So, I have a lot of love for the Canadian hip hop.
I’m definitely going to pass that on to them.
Please do. I would love to do something with ANY of them.
Did you know that Choclair just won a Juno Award last weekend?
Yeah, I heard about that. I think it’s really dope. I was watching a video that he had on television yesterday. I was like ‘this is really good’. I really hope that he has the ability to travel around the world, to go to Europe and go to Japan and come to the U.S. I think it’s very important when you have artists that are that talented that they get the chance to show the rest of the world. As much as I love the U.S., it’s not all about the U.S. You can really do very well without really having anything to do with the U.S. So, if the U.S. hasn’t gotten on to those guys yet, I’m hoping that they have a chance to see Japan and Australia and New Zealand. Hip hop is appreciated so much in a lot of places and they will be loved there.
The climate is changing here but especially for hip hop, its really tough. With K-OS winning a Source Award for Best International, that helped.
You know what’s crazy? I’ll come to Canada and I’ll turn on MuchMusic and I’m jealous. I’m jealous that you have an equivalent of an MTV that plays Saukrates and K-OS and Choclair. Because our MTV won’t play Tribe Called Quest, they won’t play Slum Village, they won’t play J-Live. So, as much as you may think that you don’t get support, it’s crazy that you guys support your artists more than we support ours.
I have never heard that before from an American.
Because what it comes down to is – and we’re not talking about the Jay-Zs and the Neptunes. Choclair reminds of me our Dilated Peoples. Real hip hop with real beats and real rhymes. I’m not saying that the others are not but we don’t support the artists like Choclair in the United States. So, when I come up here and I turn on MuchMusic and I see his video on, I’m smiling. Man, I’m ready to make a record and just send it up here because if this kind of music has a shot to be on mainstream television in Canada, then I’m all set.
We’d be happy to facilitate that for you! I think it’s probably partially your love for hip hop and your love for Canadian hip hop why your fan base is so large and diverse up here.
Throughout this tour, I brought Mad Skillz with me which threw everybody off because it was kind of a big surprise. Him and I are the same person and it was amazing for us to go to these spots in Canada and people come up to us and say thank you. We’re kind of looking like “Wow, they’re thanking us just for coming.” We’re talking about how we don’t want to go home!
In Canada, we’re just good people. We’re pretty loyal. Perhaps there’s a little identity crisis as a country but I’m very proud of our people – who we are and how we roll globally.
It’s very laid back and it’s not as much of the hustle and bustle that you have in the United States. Everything is so heightened in the United States. You’ve got to rush to do this - rush to do that. When we were in Toronto, we went to the Eaton Centre and we came outside and were waiting for our ride to come. It was a Monday at 5:00 pm - rush hour. One of the guys who handles our merchandise and came up here with me – it was his first time going out of the U.S. I told him to close his eyes. He closed his eyes and I said I just want you to try to feel the energy around you. He sat there for a second. You don’t hear anybody yelling or screaming. You don’t get a sense that there’s a lot of tension around - and it’s RUSH hour on a Monday afternoon. I said, ‘You would never get this in the United States.’ He said “Wow, you know what? You’re absolutely right.” He opened his eyes and there was a couple standing on the pavement talking. There were people coming across the street. It’s kind of hard to describe. It’s the energy level where you just felt comfortable. That’s one of the things that I’ve always liked about Canada – it’s comfortable. A million times I’ve come up here and said that I’m moving. I’m going to move up here before it’s all said and done. Especially now that we're driving throughout the country. We drove to Halifax – the streams, the lakes, the houses on the lakes. And we were saying we really need to come back up here in the summer.
The summer is craaaazy up here.
If we could get a place to stay right on the lake and just BBQ and cool out for a week and a half, we’d be up here in a second.
Do you notice any difference in Canadian music, specifically hip hop?
I think that Canadian hip hop is a lot more organic. It’s reminiscent of the golden era that I love which is the Tribe Called Quest. It’s a lot more emotion. Saukrates might have been one of my favourite hip hop producers for a long time. I can call up a bunch of records that he did that I was like “Who did the beat?” And it was Saukrates. I’m saying he’s doing the beat and he’s rhyming? I’m like, man, I really really like this stuff. The feel of it was really dope.
Those guys all came up with Maestro. Do you remember him?
Absolutely! I remember him from back in the day.
He was our pioneer and broke through a lot of music barriers and he’s a Canadian icon for doing that. So, does the mainstream still associate you solely with Fresh Prince and your character Jazzy Jeff? If so, how do you feel about that?
You know what I love? Not just in Canada but around the world. People know me from so many different things. There’s a group of people that know me from the Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. There are people that know me just from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. There are people that come to the show that say “Wow, that’s the guy that’s on the Fresh Prince” and they have no idea of what I’m doing now. And then there’s people who just know you for today. When you sit back and think – I don’t really care why anybody knows me, as long as you have a good time when you come out. It’s almost more of a benefit to me because I have a lot of different reasons for you to know me. People come up and say “I loved you on the TV show” and there’s a group of people that don’t even know that you’ve had a life in music before the television show.
The mainstream audience would only know you from that though.
The beauty of that is that you have the people that know you so much from the mainstream yet you’re educating them to a whole new type of music.
You could take the attitude though that ‘oh I’m so through with that – that’s so many years ago’ and you’re not doing that. That’s cool.
It all encompasses you. I’m not made up of just one thing. As much as the television show wasn’t my main focus - that did a lot for me. And that was a very fun time for me. Just like Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. I’m looking at it like these are all layers. I don’t look at it like I’m over and I’m done with all of that stuff. All of that stuff makes you up. I didn’t always feel that way because I don’t think I quite understood. When you’re trying to break into something new, people only want to know you for one thing. That was a very hard thing for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the television show or I didn’t like the Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince time. There was a time that people only liked you for one thing. That had a lot to do with me as a producer. A Touch of Jazz had everything to do with ‘let me come up with a company that I can hide behind and do records and travel’. It was a really big kick for people to come up and say ‘oh my God, I couldn’t believe that you did Jill Scott.’ I like that because however I can get you, I want to get you. It could have been ‘Wow, there’s this really good soul singer out that Jazzy Jeff and his production company produced’. You might not have even made an attempt to listen to it.
In production, you seem to gravitate towards working with soul artists – is that your preference?
I don’t think I necessarily have a preference per se but I grew up in a city of Gamble & Huff. They did records and played them on the radio before anyone else in the world got them. So, having that around you and having those mentors living in the same city, you can’t help but to love soul music. Coming from the early era of hip hop, I went record digging and I looked for samples. A lot of those samples were old soul records so it gives you an appreciation for a lot of records. A lot of my musical knowledge came from being a DJ and buying records and realizing who played this stuff and why it was done like that. So, I don’t think I would necessarily say it’s my preference. I grew up off of soul, I’m a product of hip hop, I love jazz incredibly, I’m a rock and roll fanatic. So, I don’t like to categorize it. I love music. There’s only two kinds of music to me – that’s good music and bad music.
It makes you mad, it’s confusing. You go to a store to look for a record and you get confused. You don’t know if it’s the rap section, the electronic section, the tribal section or the beat section. What they need to do is just make a record store and put everything in alphabetical order. Put all the A’s together – from the jazz A‘s to the opera A’s – let me just look. You get a group like Jazzanova from the UK that you don’t know if this is soul or electronic or house. What happens when you do a record and you have a soul record, electronic record and a house record on it? Where do you categorize it?
That’s the beauty of being a DJ though because you meld all that any way that you want. Unfortunately, the industry does like to categorize. It even breaks down a certain category into different sub-categories.
We went through that a lot when we were doing Jill Scott’s first record. And the beauty of it was – Jill was somebody who said I really don’t care about the radio; I don’t care about the industry. Jill actually got me back to where I wanted to be. We went in to make a record that was very “un-industry”. The industry dictates that you must make a record 3 minutes and 40 seconds in order for it to get radio play. But, my favourite Luther Vandross song was 9 minutes! And that’s like ‘let’s just make a 9 minute record, let your body tell you when it’s finished' instead of dictating and cutting it short. Let’s not worry about if it doesn’t get played on the radio. I want to go back to the time when your favourite record wasn’t a record that they played on the radio.
I’m sure that’s why Jill has done as well as she’s done – not only is she multi-talented but she’s not trying to be one particular thing.
Once the industry got a hold of Jill’s record, then it started to become a fad. And that scared me. And I was like ‘Wow. This is something that we did straight from the heart and natural and now I’m getting calls from every artist in the business saying ‘I need some of that Jill Scott stuff’ and I said ‘But that’s hers.”
That’s exactly what Ali (Shaheed) said. He said that everyone’s wanting him to recreate the D’Angelo Brown Sugar vibe. And he said, “That was me and D’Angelo in the room. I can't recreate that and why would you want to?” As an artist with integrity, he couldn’t allow himself to.
Nine times out of 10, it starts with the industry corrupting the artist.
If you are a talented artist about the music, I think they would all agree with that statement. It’s very calculated unfortunately. A couple more questions - if you could work with any artist (living or past), who would they be?
Wow. I would probably have to say – I would love to work with Stevie Wonder. I have some … when you said alive or not here … I'd love to work with Curtis Mayfield. I would love to work with Bonnie Raitt, which everybody finds surprising. I would love to work with Sting. I may have that opportunity because I’m doing some stuff on Herbie Hancock’s new record. I’m trying to do this collaboration with Jill and Sting.
That was one of the most incredible experiences I think I’ve ever had doing music was spending 4 or 5 days with Herbie Hancock. He came down to the studio. The jam sessions with Herbie were just as good as the conversation. He sat down and gave me a lot of advice. He told a lot of stories. It’s really interesting to hear him talk about Miles Davis and the opportunities that Miles gave. I didn’t realize how many young musicians that Miles Davis put on. I think one of the things that I got out of his visit was he made me understand where I am right now in music just by venting to him.
About a year and a half or two years ago, I fell out of love with music. I went back to what made me love music the way that I do - two turntables and playing records for people. That’s why I’ve been on the road this much because it’s a one-on-one relationship with you and the crowd and I don’t compromise and play in places that I have to play just one type of music. I want to play whatever I want. I want to take people on a musical journey because that energy is only making me excited to go back into the studio where I can reacquaint my love of music again. You start to think that it’s over and there’s no hope. Every time that I’ve become successful in music has been when I’ve done music from my heart. Every time that I’ve become successful in music, there’s a billion people that come around you to try to tell you how you could become more successful when you never did this to be successful in the beginning. So, they take you down a wrong path. The way I look at it is that every kid that plays basketball does not want to be a ball player. People look at it like ‘you have a talent’ and they think that you just want to blow up on your talent or just make a ton of money from your talent. Sometimes, maybe just me within my talent is where my happiness lies.
I just went through the same thing and I was feeling bogged down by the industry – I just wrote about it this week. I was losing my passion to the point where I was questioning how far I wanted to take this. So, I went back to the spot where I knew all the artists that inspired me with their singing and musicianship. And I think that I got my spirit back. It was very moving.
We threw a party in Philadelphia at the 5 Spot where everybody comes and performs. It was really impromptu. A Touch of Jazz presents a Jam Session. Downstairs it was three sets of turntables and I invited a bunch of DJs just to come down and play a big jam session. Upstairs, we brought out the instruments, a Rhodes, drums, bass, guitar and invited a bunch of people. That night, Jill, Musiq, Bilal, Floetry, Glenn, City High, J-Live – I can’t even begin to tell you how many people all came on stage and jammed. The crazy thing – it’s a small spot and there wasn’t a lot of people but it was almost like we were jamming for each other. This isn’t about a bunch of fans – it’s about being up here with your peers and just free stylin’. The band plays something and Jill goes up and sings, and Musiq and Bilal sings. Afterwards, the owners of the place were like, “You can come back whenever you want!”. We looked at each other and with honesty said, “We’re not going to do this again. You can’t get this again.” That was one of those things that nobody videotaped, if you were there, you got it. And that’s good enough. You don’t have to keep milking something until it’s dry.
Every once in awhile, you have to do that or else you do lose it. The business will eat you alive if you let it. It will discourage you and you start being a product yourself rather than being inspired to put out the product.
It was crazy to listen to Herbie Hancock talk and he said that you have to learn to play outside of your comfort zone and live outside of the box. What I loved was when he did “Chameleon”. He was saying “I was a jazz artist that just wanted to make a funk record.” I went in and I did it. It was kind of a funk/jazz record but instead of stopping myself and saying this is kind of a jazz record, he said I just let it be what it was and everybody loved it. Some of those things that he was saying was some of the greatest advice that anyone could ever give me. Sometimes you start making a record and it goes in a different direction than where you wanted it to go. Sometimes you want to stop yourself – like this isn’t where I was going. You know what? Maybe you should just do it. Just do it.
I think that’s what it’s all about. It really is about the inspiration. One more question. What do you want people to remember you for?
Well, I’m no more than one person. I am not the guy who goes in the phone booth and he comes out and he’s Jazzy Jeff. Or he goes into another phone booth and he comes out and he’s Jazz and Fresh Prince. Everything that I’ve ever done is me. I don’t know how to be more than one person. That’s the most confusing thing in the world to me. As an artist, it must drive you crazy. I love Kool-Aid, I go and buy my own groceries. I pick my own lemons. I don’t eat the healthiest foods. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love who I am and all my flaws. Because they make up me. So, I don’t want to be perfect, I don’t try to be perfect. I try to correct what I can. More than anything, when I meet you on the street, I’m the same guy. I think it throws people off. I think they look at a lot of the things that I’ve accomplished and think I’m supposed to act somewhat different. I can’t be anything other than Jeff.
I think that what really moves people, is if you are just real to who you are.
Exactly. None of what I’ve done is me. I’m not the records that I’ve sold, I’m not the success that I’ve had. All that is stuff that I’ve accomplished but I didn’t become more important when I sold a bunch of records. I think that’s what happens. Just because you sold a bunch of records, please don’t make me more important. Don’t make it be that I can turn my nose up at people because all of that can end tomorrow. I have to be like that because there’s a side of me that really and truly believes that I haven’t done what I’ve been put here to do yet. I’m not even sure if it has anything to do with music.
I know I’m supposed to be shocked by that but I’m not. No one can put you in a box and who’s to say where our journey will take us right? Whatever God has destined for you, then that opportunity will come.
Well, Jeff thanks for this time and have a great time on the rest of the tour – and come back soon!
Jeff is a skilled, warm, funny and passionate artist – keep watching his movements. Special thanks to Irize, Jeff’s manager for hooking up this interview.
with Benz Antoine
Benz Antoine speaks on being a Canadian Black actor, the cancellation of the dramatic series, Blue Murder, and one his latest upcoming projects The Maple Leaf that focuses on Canada’s identity crisis. Look for an upcoming continued dialogue with Benz on the upcoming release of his short entitled Decorating 101, a relationship guide between men and women.
Benz first realized that he had caught the acting bug, while ironic, when he was shooting a music video for a rap group called The Freshman, originally signed to MCA. When passers-by asked if the set was a movie shoot, it struck him. People thought he was an actor in a movie. And he’s never turned back. Securing a role on Global's recently cancelled Blue Murder as Det. Jim Weeks makes Benz a recognizable face in the Canadian landscape. His other credits include a part in Romeo Must Die with Jet Li and the late Aaliyah; Gothika starring Halle Berry; and in the TV-movie Icebound, starring Susan Sarandon.
Blue Murder has recently been cancelled. I thought this was a successful Canadian series.
Somebody said that there wasn’t an audience for Blue Murder and a journalist was quoted as saying “yeah like four people were watching”. That’s the attitude right there. Regardless of whether the show is whack or not, that should not be your position. Your position should be a comment on what is happening and in a more positive light. It doesn’t help the industry for Blue Murder to be cancelled. Even if the show is bad, it doesn’t help the industry.
Who do you hold responsible for Blue Murder being cancelled?
I think the real reason has nothing to do with Blue Murder or Global or anybody. It’s the attitude that we have as Canadians from the onset. I’m actually doing a documentary on this – it’s called The Maple Leaf. My premise is that each and every one of us has an imaginary invisible tattoo of a maple leaf on our foreheads. And we act accordingly. In other words, we always give it up that we are Canadian. Not in ways that make us proud, in a way that makes us second place all the time. We’re not always competing to be #1, we’re always accepting that we won’t be #1. There’s a guy in Montreal named Denys Arcand who has an Oscar for shooting a movie in his backyard. The Quebecers are different than Canadians. Arcand makes movies about his reality, his world, his friends, his people – and they don’t care about anything else and therefore they get a break.
It’s because it’s real and they embrace who they are.
Well, there are bad things with that too. But there are good things. I’d rather be real and abrasive sometimes than be like the rest of Canada. The rest of Canada doesn’t really have an identity and so what do you expect from someone. Why should someone tune into Blue Murder as opposed to Law & Order? Because that is the choice.
That brings me to another circumstance. Richard Leacock is a co-star in the series “Doc” that is filmed completely in Toronto and airs at least once a week in Canada – yet no one knows who he is. He can’t walk alone anywhere in the southern U.S. without being mobbed because it is such a big series there. Yet again, no one here knows who he is. That’s why I was so happy to see him get a ReelWorld Trailblazer Award as it is Canada that is recognizing his efforts.
That show is very specific. Once again, it’s a certain group of American people, not even all of America, just one section, because of one guy, Billy Ray Cyrus. He’s not even an actor but it pays off because there are people that watch it religiously and he’s really decent in it. He has shortcomings but that makes him real.
What is that about the Canadian public that doesn’t embrace its own?
It’s not on the public, it’s on the media. Media is the #1 teacher. When you are making product, you’re already passing the buck, you’re already saying “Oh well, I don’t have enough money to do this so I’m going to do that.” And then you expect people to go out and watch it with that attitude. It’s not the public, they will watch actually. I never even watched Canadian TV until I got booked on Blue Murder. The only thing I remember was Traders. I remember thinking this is a good show. I remember not caring or even knowing where it was from. Then I remember Neon Rider when I was young. I remember watching the guy and he’s got his horse and he’s doing his thing. If something has heart, people will watch it. So, it’s a catch 22. We’re saying if people would watch, then we would get more viewers and more money … we have to start here (points to heart). We have to find a way to make it with less money, more integrity and get those people to watch.
That goes back to the identity thing. Everyone second-guesses themselves just for being Canadian. Like it’s not enough. It is enough and in fact it’s celebrated in many parts of the world.
I don’t think that we have a star system either. That all ties into that “maple leaf” attitude. That we’re not good enough. But they can take Jim Carrey and make him a star. They don’t actually come and take people, these people actually leave. They don’t really know anything about us still.
I do think America’s eyebrows are up though because I’m getting more and more U.S. executives in entertainment asking to be on my distribution because they want to know what’s going on here, I’m assuming.
I think this is funny. Michie Mee was just as good as MC Lyte was back in the day. Bottom line, they know how to make their stars. They make them stars. We don’t know how to do that.
They also have a history of making stars. We’re relatively new to it.
But what about Quebec? Quebec has stars. I’m asking why are they able to do it. So, it’s not about being American or Canadian because technically they are Canadian. It’s the belief that they can make it happen amongst themselves. Toronto has enough to make things happen. We will bow down to 50 Cent but are we going to give love to Choclair and say “yo dog, that was a good track”? But if Choclair gets signed in the States … then the love will be given. As long as the Americans are backing you, the love is given. If the Americans are not backing you, they’re like ‘yeah, so it came back here and nothing’s working (sarcastically)’.
Because we don’t have the belief that we are somebody. You do a show in the States and you are a star. They say - ok this is the next star. They’re always looking for that star. 90% of the time, it doesn’t work. They put a guy in our face like Josh Hartnett. Me, I look at this guy and say what can he do? He’s in over his head, he’s in a big movie with Harrison Ford but what can he do? He’s a boy. But it didn’t work. It doesn’t work on everybody. But they try to do it for everybody. If you stay here, you can be stuck. Mike Bullard got cancelled. What’s the difference between Mike Bullard and David Letterman? As soon as you start moving towards that brash or American attitude and you’re by yourself, and because Canadians don’t like that, the masses will win. How can you not have Mike Bullard on the air? How does that work exactly? What are we thinking now? The guy in marketing for Mike Bullard – I have yet to be offered, called, emailed or anything about getting tickets to go there. Meanwhile, when I watch that show, they always say, free tickets call this number. And there’s always something going on. I’m saying I’m here.
So you think that the people even as deep as the staff of recruiters for guests on the show are looking for American guests?
Yes, they’re looking for the American guest. But it’s that attitude – that “maple leaf” attitude. It’s in every facet, not only entertainment. The guy who’s doing your marketing, he doesn’t think outside the box. You are a professional in your field. If I’m on a show and I’m given a scene that doesn’t work for me because it has maple leaf written all over it, I say ‘no, but this is how it’s going to be’. And it’s a big struggle. You have to be the director, the editor, and the network. Everyone’s got this mentality, all you can do is represent yourself. What I’m saying everybody that is Canadian has either submitted to or is the cause of the reason why. We don’t dream.
If you have one person that doesn’t believe in their identity, they will probably not be successful. If you have an entire country that feels that way, there is never going to be a formula for star power.
The Prime Minister at the time, Jean Chrétien bows down to Bush. Bush didn’t even thank him and he’s bowing down, kissing ass. That pretty much says it all. Actually, the Quebecers have the right idea, it just doesn’t fit into the agenda of the rest of Canada. I’m from and live in Quebec and know everything that’s happening over there and they’re annoying. In fact, French is my first language. They want to separate and you know what? They will eventually – even if it takes years. They’re just not smart enough yet to realize who’s going to help them do it. The real reason why it’s easier for them in Quebec is the language. They can’t fit in to the American culture. They don’t want to learn the language. It’s because they feel rejected, that’s why they’re so aggressive.
Have you experienced any unique circumstances being a Black Canadian actor? Do you feel set apart from other actors in Canada?
Yeah, of course. I was talking about that the other day with Joel from Blue Murder. If I was a 5' 10" white guy, I would get to audition "x" number of times. But me being me, I get to audition 1/5 of that. So, I have to be sharper to make sure that I get it. If I get it, then it's easy for me to succeed in the game. But I have to book it. And then when you're the Black choice, but they don't know if they're going "Black". So, you do your thing and you get the callbacks. You're the man, you're hot. And then they say, you know, I don't know whether we're going to go Black. That's the reality. I don't think that any White guy has to go through that same thing – I don't know if we're going to go White on this one. I embrace it. The agent is great but it's the producers and whether they are interested in seeing you or are they really looking at you. You know when you're really being looked at. You know by the size of the role, by the project, if you're really being look at. Not that you do it differently but you take it with a grain of salt.
If there were no limits or obstacles to doing what you want to do, what would you be doing? Money, nothing stands in your way – what would you do?
Writing and directing my own movies.
Do you have any interests outside of that?
I believe very strongly in the things that we were talking about before. Canadians having no confidence in themselves and us Blacks having no confidence in ourselves. Last week I was discouraged because I haven't worked in a couple of months. I put on BET and I see Jay-Z "big pimpin', spending cheez" and macking the hos and the cuties and it's all love. Me? I'm a fairly successful guy. I'm a successful 30 year old. I'm happy. So, I shouldn't be discouraged by that. But I'm looking at him thinking I'm really far from what I'm meant to do. So, that image is not working for me and I'm more discouraged. So, I flip the channel and I go to Biography – A&E. And what do I see? Bruce Lee. So, I sat down discouraged, put on BET and got more discouraged and then I put on Bruce Lee, stood up and went out and typed my proposal and did what I had to do because there's always hope. My point is that I believe very strongly that BET, through no fault of their own, is a negative influence of Black people. I would be alone standing here but I don’t care - I don't give a damn because I'm Canadian.
I totally agree with you.
The kids see those images and they want to be that. It's not bad in and of itself if there were other choices being offered. You can't have gospel on Sunday morning, then news at 11 and then prime time is always 50 Cent, always the hot flavour, with the bling. These guys don't want to even be role models – it's not even their fault. 50 Cent says "I can't believe you bought the deal with the psycho." It's not his fault. Corporate America says deal for him, no deal for Common, no deal for Lauryn. That's the bad part of it. The kids are becoming that way.
How would you like to be remembered? What do you hope people go away after meeting you saying?
I hope that they go away saying that I am a good actor. In other words, I want people to go see a movie because of me. I go see movies when I hear that it's Pacino. I want one person to go see something that I did because of me. Or in part because of me. Or, this guy did a movie before and it was good and I know this one's going to be good too. Or this guy's witty, or something. Because that's what it's about at the end of the day. It's about pleasing the audience.
I’d like to be known for striving for excellence. As well, a good husband and a good father.
To be continued …
Irie Monday Night
Irie Mondays are back!! Come out and join the Irie crew as we come to hang out and enjoy the first signs of summer. Irie will be serving up their usual magic with tasty tidbits, live performances from local artists and the DJ stylings of Carl Allen.
MONDAY, APRIL 19
IRIE MONDAY NIGHT SESSIONS
745 Queen Street W.
Ali Shaheed In
Toronto – April 23!
The DJ/Producer formerly of A Tribe Called Quest and Lucy Pearl makes a rare appearance in the megacity. He's currently working on a solo album, Shaheedullah and Stereotypes. Ali Shaheed Muhammed made his name alongside Q-Tip and Phife Dawg in one of hip hop's most respected groups, A Tribe Called Quest. With the outfit's infusion of jazz into hip hop rhythms, Tribe packaged a philosophical and socially conscious message within their music. They released five albums before disbanding in 1998. After his days with Tribe, Shaheed Muhammad joined forces with Tony! Toni! Tone's Raphael Saadiq and ex-En Vogue member Dawn Robinson to form the urban soul super-group Lucy Pearl. The band released its self-titled debut album in spring 2000, an album packed with live instrumentation in addition to samples and turntable work.
FRIDAY, APRIL 23
ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMED
The Mod Club
722 College Street
$18 in advance
Get Reel Festival – 5 Days Of Film, Music And Fashion - April
21– 25, 2004
GET REEL was developed with an idea: to become a vehicle where black commercial and independent cinema could be exhibited. GET REEL also intended to build on an audience already appreciative of diversity in film. Recognizing the amount of films by black filmmakers that go beyond just black culture to encompass the lifestyles of "city folks", or urbanites, GET REEL's focus is to explore all aspects that make up urban culture. Thus we are evolving into an organization that supports emerging artists, as well as filmmakers. During the Get Reel Festival you never know whom you might see or meet at one of our fashion shows, film screenings, music showcases or one of our parties. Artists, actors, musicians and industry professionals come from all over the world to be a part of the Get Reel Festival! This year’s country profile focuses on films from Jamaica, including the Harder They Come and Life and Debt. Win A Get Reel Prize Pack! You can win an Apple I-Pod, $150 certificate at Chapters and dinner for two at My Small Talk, by entering the GET REEL Prizepack giveaway. To be eligible, you must purchase either an events pass or an all-access prize for GET REEL 2004. The winner will be announced at GET REEL’s closing night event on April 25, 2004. Passes for GET REEL can be purchased from April 9–20, at the GET REEL office, 401 Richmond St. West, Suite #441, from 12noon – 7pm from Monday to Friday. For more information, please give us a call at 416-368-3354 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APRIL 21– 25, 2004
GET REEL FESTIVAL
20 Carlton St.
For more info call 416-368-3354; www.getreel.ca
Wednesday, April 21:
Opening Night Film: WattStax, Varsity Theatres
Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor Street West
Opening Night Party – Ricochet – 122 Avenue Road (North of Bloor Street, at Davenport)
Ticket Information: Opening Night Film - $15
Opening Night Party - $20 ($10 with opening night ticket)
Thursday, April 22:
GET SOUL: The Urban Music Showcase
Performers: Jully Black and Ray Robinson with DJ Glen C
Hosted by: Dalton Higgins – Host – Urban Groove on BPMTV
651 Queen St. West, (at Bathurst)
Admission: $20 in advance
Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.ca
Co-sponsored by Flow 93.5, BPM TV, MUCH VIBE and PEACE MAGAZINE
MOTIVATION NOTE: Sometimes The Pieces Of
A Relationship Don't Seem To Fit Or There Is A Big Piece Missing
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Jewel Diamond Taylor, e-mail Jewel@DoNotGiveUp.net
(Apr. 7, 2004) Sometimes the pieces of a relationship don't seem to fit or there is a big piece missing. It can be puzzling to figure out how to make it last. It can be puzzling trying to recover from a broken heart. If it looks like you need to call your relationship another TKO, don't beat yourself up too badly. It takes courage, wisdom and self-esteem to let go of a relationship that has no future.
It's not a sign of weakness when you know in your heart and soul that you gave your best to a one way or a no way relationship. Give yourself time to heal and regroup before rushing into another relationship too soon. Don't become the walking wounded or feel like a failure.
A Whitney Houston song says, "It's not right, but it's OK. I'm gonna make it anyway."
It's OK because you can begin again.
It's OK because you can find love again.
It's OK because you can learn to take care of yourself without holding someone hostage or responsible for your happiness.
It ain't right and it hurts, but it's OK because time heals.
It's OK because you will vow to keep your self-esteem, self-respect, sanity, faith, peace of mind and dreams.
It's OK because you are still a whole and complete loved child of God.
In my relationship workshops I teach about the 5 phases that couples grow through. Power struggles develop between couples. Each partner is to be an encourager rather than a critic, a forgiver rather than a collector of hurts. Keeping a relationship strong, loving and stress-less requires a lot of communication, honesty, maturity and prayer. The pressures of every day living can kill the joy, hope and love you once had. If one of you becomes angry or stressed, the other becomes the closest target of their mate's frustration and stress. People will act it out by withholding their love and affection. Or they become abusive, controlling, critical, withdrawn, uncooperative, revengeful, crazy, lazy, indifferent, antagonistic, depressed, unfaithful, dishonest and unforgiving. That perfect man or woman does not exist. There are no perfect relationships. But it's possible to find someone perfect for you. Look for qualities that compliment your values and lifestyle.
Ask yourself “Is this the kind of person I would want to be the father or mother of my children….is this the kind of person I could respect and like after the passion fades…..is this the kind of person that would have my back when times got tough… what is his/her spiritual foundation...how does he/she manage their money and credit…how does he treat his Mother?….birds of feather stick together, so take notice of their friends and associates. Make a list of the strong qualities and the weak qualities. If the strong qualities list is too short…beware…take your time. Don't take someone to the altar to alter them.
Music Association Of Canada Launches Contest For New Logo
(Apr. 12, 2004) - Today the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC), the voice of Canada's urban music industry, launched its national logo design contest. This contest is designed to give UMAC a fresh, new image while showcasing some of this country's finest graphic designers. As UMAC enters its ninth year of existence and embarks on a new phase of growth, UMAC requires a new logo that reflects the youthful, trendsetting, music-focused, forward-thinking and energetic nature of this organization. Established in 1996, UMAC is a member-driven, national not-for-profit organization dedicated to building the domestic and international profile of the Canadian urban music industry. UMAC offers professional development, networking and showcasing opportunities to its members and stakeholders. UMAC also hosts the annual Canadian Urban Music Awards (formerly Urban X-Posure Awards), a celebration of the best in Canada's urban music industry. Contest participants are encouraged to submit up to three digital renditions of their logo submission. Entries must be received by 11:59 pm on Monday, May 3, 2004 at email@example.com (email submissions only). The winner of the contest will receive:
· national exposure and recognition through inclusion in press releases and promotion on UMAC's website (www.umac.ca);
· $250 cash;
· $100 gift certificate from Long & McQuade Musical Instruments; and
· a trip for two to attend the 6th Annual Canadian Urban Music Awards in Toronto on Thursday, October 21, 2004!
For full contest rules & regulations, visit www.umac.ca.
Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of "Purple Rain" With New CD
"Musicology" And Concert Tour - Hits Toronto On Tuesday, July 27th
For the first time in six years, pop star Prince and the New Power Generation band are embarking on a coast-to-coast concert tour of the United States. The tour stops in Toronto, Ontario on Tuesday, July 27th at Air Canada Centre and features Prince per4ming some of his most well known hits live 4 the last time. Tickets will go on-sale on Monday, April 19th at 10AM. The concert will be set up in the round, with a center stage, allowing for many more great seats in each venue. The tour comes on the heels of Prince’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his heart-stopping Grammy opening performance with multiple-award-winner Beyoncé. The launch of the tour also coincides with the release of Prince’s new CD, "Musicology." Prince has sold more than 100 million records and is regarded by fans and critics alike as a monumental force and influence in popular culture. During the '80s, Prince emerged as one of the most singular talents in the history of music, releasing a series of groundbreaking albums that both defined and captured the spirit of the times. With each successive album, Prince has shown remarkable stylistic growth and musical diversity, constantly experimenting with different sounds, topics and genres. Few artists have created a body of work as rich and varied. Each show will be one long dance party with Prince supplying the music! The production lives within the players themselves...no gimmicks, no pre-recorded music and no prisoners taken! Performing with Prince are New Power Generation band members John Blackwell (drums), Greg Boyer (trombone), Candy Duller (saxophone), Chance Howard (trumpet), Renate Net (piano and synthesizers), Macao Parker (saxophone), RED. (vocals and keyboards), and Rhonda Smith (bass).
To get tickets in advance access npgmusicclub.com. Fans can purchase tickets at all Ticketmaster locations. Charge by phone at (416) 870-8000 or online at ticketmaster.ca. Same day random wristband policy is in effect. Tickets subject to applicable service charges. Event date and time subject to change.
Snow, Jacynthe In Egypt Show
By Karen Bliss -- For Music Lowdown
A groundbreaking concert is being staged at the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, May 28 and 29, featuring Canadian rapper Snow and pop singer Jacynthe, and top Egyptian stars Mohamed Mounir, and Anoushka. Top producer and recent Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Bob Ezrin will be recording the event for a DVD. Visionnation 2004 is a cultural exchange between Canada and Egypt, celebrating 50 years of relations between the two countries, and demonstrating strengthened international relations with the production of two music festivals. The other will be staged at Jacques Cartier Park in Ottawa, Ont., on June 12 and 13. Ezrin, producer of classic albums by Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and Kiss, has never been to Egypt before and is excited by the project. "It just fascinates me. I'm a world music fan and the concept of a festival by the pyramids is just a little romantic," says Ezrin. "So this for me is an amazing opportunity. I've always learned more about places when I've worked there. I've wanted to go but to go under these circumstances is perfect." While the concerts are an Egyptian and Canadian initiative, artists from all over the world are also on the bill, including Dissidenten (Germany), Oriental Mood (Denmark), Marwood (America), as well as Fathy Salama (Egypt), Evren (Canada), Last Supper (Canada), and Psycho Key (Canada). One international star and one more Egyptian act will be announced on April 15. The current line-up is subject to change. Ezrin may be recording such Middle Eastern instruments as an oud or rababa, but doesn't antiquate any logistical problems with acquiring the right recording gear in Egypt. "So far, no problems," Ezrin says. "Why? Because I haven't spoken with anyone from over there yet (laughs). I don't anticipate any. Listen, Egypt is a robust market. They have a lot of music and they do a lot of studio work and recording so I don't think I'll have a problem. "It's all sound. "I kind of know what I'm doing," says the man just inducted into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame by Alice Cooper. "I've recorded just about everything in a variety of ways so there's really no magic. Once I hear them and see them, I'll know what I'll want to do." Music industry symposiums will also be held in both countries. In Cairo, on May 25, there will be seminars covering everything from Egyptian copyright law to Egyptian radio and the licensing of Canadian music. There are 290 million people in the Arabic-speaking world; 70 million alone in Egypt. Avril Lavigne and Nickelback have both reportedly broken the market that is saturated with Arabic music.
In Ottawa, on June 9 and 10, there will be workshops and the sharing of Egyptian culture entitled Vision Exchange, promoting music education and sharing Egyptian culture. A nominal entry fee will be charged for each festival, with proceeds going to The Ryan Well Foundation and Association of Friends of the National Cancer Institute (AFNCI). Canadian Ryan Hreljac started The Ryan Well Foundation when he was just 6 years old. His mission is to provide clean water and health-related services to people in Africa and other developing countries. Egypt's Association of Friends of the National Cancer Institute (AFNCI) aims to help build, equip and maintain a world-class pediatric oncology hospital and support education and research efforts of the National Cancer Institute.
McLachlan Mulls Over Tour Songs
By Karen Bliss -- For Music Lowdown
Sarah McLachlan's upcoming summer tour will include as many as 27 songs over two hours, and all but one cut off her current multi-platinum album, "Afterglow." "Dirty Little Secret" is the only new song she may not play, but is thinking of substituting it occasionally into the set. "A lot of the songs are mid-tempo to slow, and I sort of had to make a choice of either some songs from the old record that I don't really want to do any more because (grits teeth) I'm sick to death of them," McLachlan says. Which ones? "Into The Fire" from 1992's "Solace," and "Vox" from 1988's "Touch," she names. McLachlan won't be performing them on this tour "unless people actually kick and scream," she adds. "The trouble is, we don't have too many uptempo songs," McLachlan says. "We're playing arenas. So it's a bit worrisome to me, but actually we just started rehearsing 'World On Fire' which is mid-tempo, not really crazy, but it was actually quite rockin' with the band." The Canadian songstress, who will be on the road in North America from July 5 to September 10, won't be taking it easy now that she has a child in tow. "No. No. It's the same thing," McLachlan says. "I always do three (shows) on, one off. Sometimes four. So it's really not that bad. And days off are days off. And (we) travel in style. We have a really nice bus. It's just myself, my kid and my husband. "It's actually a whole lot easier to tour than to do promotion. I take my child everywhere with me doing that too. You know, flying out at 6 a.m. and you're in a different hotel every day and you have to go out and forage for food at 10 p.m., that's tough. How am I going to find a grocery store in Stockholm at 10 at night? It's a bit of a challenge, so I'm looking forward to the consistency of touring." Her band is now an eight-piece including herself, with two keyboard players instead of one, and her usual two guitarists. "This record, there's a lot of keyboards, a lot of guitars," McLachlan says. "And I'm really trying to free myself up so I'm not playing every song, especially behind a piano because if you're playing to 12,000 people I don't want to be stuck behind a piano because I find it really limiting." And as she gears up for her first tour since Lilith Fair in 1999, does she envision pulling up some of her Lilith Fair playmates in certain cities? "That would take a lot of foresight which I'm no very good at," she says. "But if they showed up, yes, I'd get them onstage in a second. Absolutely."
Man Accused Of Stalking Avril Lavigne
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Apr. 9, 2004) LYNNWOOD, Wash. (AP) — Police arrested a man for allegedly stalking teen pop star Avril Lavigne. James Speedy, 30, was booked into jail for investigation of stalking after police searched his Seattle suburban home Wednesday — the same day the 19-year-old Canadian singer and Grammy nominee played a free concert at a mall south of Seattle. He later posted $5,000 bail and was released. Officers have been investigating the case since last summer, when they were contacted by Canadian authorities about harassing letters and e-mails sent to Lavigne, Detective Jerry Reiner said. "These did place the family of Avril Lavigne, and Avril Lavigne herself, in fear," Reiner said. He refused to discuss the content of the messages. Speedy does not have a listed telephone number; it was unclear whether he had obtained a lawyer.
Soul Sensation Matisse is touring UK opening for Lemar!
(Apr. 8, 2004) – Canadian Soul Sensation, Matisse will be taking to the road in April for a two week tour of England with stops throughout the country. The tour is a solo effort and will be showcasing his songwriting skills to the United Kingdom. He will be opening for Brit Award Winner Lemar in Northampton! Matisse has been performing around Canada with his band The Playground for close to a year now. This has allowed him to develop a healthy and growing fan base as well as selling over one thousand copies, of his debut EP “The Five Frame Interlude”, from the stage. On “The five frame interlude” (released in 2002), he introduced fans to his fresh style of love ballads. Breathing life and love into the album’s five tracks, Matisse displays a poise long forgotten in R&B performances. As an artist, Matisse is unable to enjoy the lure of musical repetition, he has discarded the traditional R&B script and rewrapped the ballad in a blanket of funk-soul fusion – the result is a mutant spin-off, a funky direction that R&B must travel in order to keep pace.
One Last Thought
A red lamp floods an R&B lounge, its seductive glow setting the scene as a shadow slowly creeps to the microphone. Before you know it, his fingers hang over the keyboard pulling the crowd’s strings like a master puppeteer in the performance of lifetime. Bodies sway back and forth, as the intoxicating rhythm bathes the crowd in this distinctively new sound. As his fingers continue to stalk across the keyboard, his silky voice propels the audience through an original romantic landscape.
World Spins Cash For Kids
Source: Canadian Press
(Apr. 13, 2004) The owners of the Music World retail chain have pledged to donate $20 million over 10 years to help children in the world's war-torn regions, kicking off their campaign today with a $2-million gift to War Child Canada. "We have lived through war and seen first-hand the brutality and suffering that people can inflict upon one another," Music World founders Kroum and Eva Pindoff wrote in an open letter. "Every day, millions of children around the world endure unspeakable horrors. Change is possible but it takes determination, commitment, experience and financial support to ensure that war-affected children have the foundation they need to thrive and develop." The first $2-million instalment was to be donated to War Child, a charity with ties to the music industry that provides humanitarian aid to war-affected children, at a dinner in Toronto tonight. Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham gave the keynote address to the intimate gathering that included War Child founders and guests from the music and financial industries. Graham spoke highly of War Child, saying as an organization that supports people around the world the charity embodies Canada's values. "In terms of global conflict, it's not soldiers that suffer. It's civilians: it's mothers, it's children," Graham said. "What War Child does is try to reach out to those children and try to make their lives better." Graham said he was speaking from the heart as someone who has been touched by the efforts of Canadians working abroad. "It makes me so proud to be the Canadian foreign minister and say, this is what Canadians are about. This is what we try and do. We try and help other people," he said. The gift is the largest single donation from a private individual to the charity, said spokeswoman Aubrey Charette. "It is certainly the largest to War Child Canada," Charette said. "I can't confirm that it is the largest ever to war-affected children, although we also believe that to be true." It was not immediately announced how or when the remaining money — all of which was pledged from the Pindoffs' private funds — would be allocated. Future donations could be made to other charities that meet their objectives of helping children in developing countries, a family adviser said today. The Pindoffs have stipulated that the money help children through projects in health and nutrition, education and skills training, rehabilitation, HIV and AIDS prevention, and support to vulnerable women and their families. The Macedonian-born Kroum Pindoff, 88, and German-born Eva Pindoff immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1955. Music World is a subsidiary of privately owned Pindoff Record Sales — a record distribution company which claims $200 million in annual sales. Having lived through two world wars, the couple began a personal mission to raise money for child victims of war once they had established a successful business. "We have worked hard over the years to turn Pindoff Record Sales and Music World into successful Canadian companies," the Pindoffs wrote. "But financial success is not enough — our greatest joy comes from knowing that we can use our resources to help some of the world's most vulnerable children." The Pindoffs intend to eventually donate the balance of their estate to charity.
Ultimate Deborah Cox Comprehensive Collection
Source: Paula Witt / Shore Fire Media / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.shorefire.com
(Apr. 14, 2004) Deborah Cox is that rare artist who's managed to avoid being pinned down to any style or even career: she's known equally as an R&B singer, a dance diva, a television actress (Nash Bridges, Soul Food) and, most recently, a Broadway star (she's currently playing the lead role in Disney's Aida). The timing is perfect for a retrospective CD of the Canadian singer's varied, decade-long career, and BMG Heritage is proud to release Ultimate Deborah Cox on May 18th. The collection features digitally remastered sound, new liner notes, and striking artwork‹but best of all, the disc features many hard-to-find remixes and edits, the result of an exhaustive search to compile the best versions of Cox's songs.
Thrilling Voice Of Senegal
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Goddard, Staff Reporter
(Apr. 8, 2004) Even his name suggests melody and rhythm. Baaba Maal possesses one of the most thrilling voices in African music, capable of rising to an intense, transcendent wail that expands the limits of human expression. "When I was young, we didn't have a PA system or any other technical thing," he once said in a Toronto interview, "and anytime you play in front of 200 or 300 people you have to make everyone hear you. "So I would go into the desert and train, not to scream but to sing louder, and the voice built itself little by little. Eventually, I passed a certain level, what we call daande heli in Fula (his native language), or `voice exploding.'" Maal is from Podor, in northern Senegal, near the westernmost bulge of Africa. On Tuesday, he performs with guitarist Mansour Seck and five other acoustic players from Maal's band Daadne Lenol (Voice of the Race) at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. It is an unusually intimate venue for Maal. On his last visit, in 1999, he headlined the travelling Africa Fête show at Roy Thomson Hall, and his current 34-date North American tour includes such stops as the Houston International Festival and the popular Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, La. "Small clubs sometimes can be much nicer in this style of music," Maal said by cellphone last week from a highway in California. "I love it when people are really close to us. It's like a party and nobody is tense. It's just natural. It's also an opportunity for me to play guitar again the way I want to play it." That he will be playing guitar is good news for fans of the 1984 album Djam Leelii, featuring vocal and guitar duets by Maal and Seck — the blind hereditary musician, or griot, who has been Maal's friend since boyhood. When the disc was released in Britain in 1989, Djam Leelii began Maal's rise to international stardom. He followed with Lam Toro in 1993, then Firin' In Fouta, a daring, exhilarating mix of African percussion and electronic break beats that drew a Grammy nomination in 1994. The push for a North American breakthrough led to Nomad Soul in 1988, another hybrid but a disappointing one. No fewer than seven different producers got involved. Maal has since returned to his roots. In 1999, he released Live At The Royal Festival Hall, and participated in such critically acclaimed collaborations as In Search Of The Lost Riddim by Ernest Ranglin, and Kora Revolution by Kaouding Cissoko, the longtime kora player in Maal's band. The current tour centres on Maal's most recent release, Missing You (2001), but without the kora player. "We lost Kaouding (Cissoko)," Maal said on the cellphone. "He was diabetic and caught TB but he didn't know it. About a year ago, he died." The cellphone cut out several times, making a proper interview impossible. Reconnected one last brief time, Maal started to address how he — as a devout Muslim — feels about touring the United States (plus Toronto and Montreal) one year after the start of the Iraq war. "Whether you are Muslim or not, I think everyone would not wish to see wars on earth," he said in his philosophical and sometimes ambiguous way. "I don't want to see even terrorism anywhere on the planet."
Simone: Break Down & Let It All Out
Source: Kathleen Meengs / Ph. 415.517.5391 / email@example.com
(Apr. 12, 2004) Nina Simone – the High Priestess of Soul – was an artist who defied classification. During her incredible career she recorded 34 albums that ranged from jazz, blues and gospel to folk and calypso, and no two albums were ever alike. She was admired for her emotional and expressive delivery and her unusually deep, rich voice that evoked and stirred emotions in her listeners. When she died on April 20, 2003, the world mourned a musical legend, who touched the hearts of millions of people around the world and went on to influence some of the greatest musical artists of today. Just in time to honour the one-year anniversary of her death, Sanctuary Publishing is proud to publish in hardcover, NINA SIMONE: Break Down & Let It All Out (May 2004; $24.95) by Sylvia Hampton with David Nathan, with a foreword by Nina’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly. In this intimate and revealing portrait of Nina Simone, Hampton and Nathan have written firsthand accounts of the highs and lows of Nina’s life. They also provide an intriguing selection of exclusive photographs, and an in-depth analysis of Nina’s extensive recordings. But this moving tribute is more than just a tale of a musical genius. It is also the story of a black woman struggling to fight the oppression of racism, expressing “radical” views through her music and often being ostracized for doing so. Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan, who grew up in London, began their relationship with Nina in 1964. Forming the very first Nina Simone fan club, this brother and sister team went from adoring fans to personal friends. Sylvia maintained a close relationship with Nina, corresponding with her as she traveled around the world. When Sylvia learned of the death of her friend of almost 40 years, she “vowed to write this book so the world would know the real Nina.” Nina’s music was like her life – diverse and inspired. She grew up in the Deep South in the ‘30s and ‘40s, a child prodigy who was aware of the injustice that racism and hatred caused. She took these beliefs and made them her personal crusade, never willing to compromise and always staying true to her idea that we are all human beings, despite the color of our skin. These beliefs shaped her life and her music. She performed songs of protest like Mississippi Goddam; she sang Young, Gifted, and Black, which became the anthem for the civil rights movement, and her song, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood summarized her hatred for conformity. She was unconventional, not always accepted and appreciated by the male-dominated music industry, and in many ways ahead of her time. But her legacy lives on in her music and in this unforgettable tribute. NINA SIMONE: Break Down & Let It All Out is a look at a life that could inspire, anger and create reactions on many levels. This moving tribute to an exceptional woman will please Nina’s fans around the world and encourage those who are not familiar with her music to go out and discover it.
Sylvia and David are available for interviews in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco as well as by telephone. For further information, please contact Kathleen Meengs at Sanctuary Publishing 415.517.5391, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I fell in love with Ms. Simone on my journey through the vastness of jazz and blues. She’s inspired me as a composer, a pianist, a singer and as a woman with a voice. This book gave me a deeper and personal insight into the life of a woman I admire with all my heart.” -- Alicia Keys
“For all [who] may not have had the experience of hearing and/or seeing this incomparable true genius, her essence is truly captured in the pages of NINA SIMONE: Break Down & Let It All Out. Her strengths and frailties are all here for all to feel.” -- Dionne Warwick
“She was the innovator of black alternative music. A very interesting read… I have a greater insight into the person behind the music I’ve admired for so long.” -- Chaka Khan
“A fascinating and insightful look at one of the most powerful and enigmatic artists of our time. Nina Simone’s impact on both jazz and culture will remain monumental; there was simply no one like her…” -- Bonnie Raitt
De La Soul Update
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
(Apr. 9, 2004) "Live at Tramps NYC, 1996," capturing a De La Soul concert at the now defunct intimate Gotham venue, will be released May 25 via Rhino. Recorded less than two months before the release of the pioneering hip-hop act's fourth Tommy Boy album, "Stakes Is High," the show featured guest appearances by Mos Def, Common and the Jungle Brothers. The 15-track album finds the group previewing then-new material such as "Itzsoweezee (Hot)" and "Supa Emcees," and touches on De La's previous releases. Among the highlights are the recreation of "Buddy" from the group's 1989 debut, "3 Feet High and Rising" featuring the Jungle Brothers, and Common's version of his own classic "Bitch in Yoo" plus his guest spot on De La's "The Bizness." De La Soul's latest studio album, 2001's "AOI: Bionix," was the second in a planned trilogy of releases under the "Art Official Intelligence" banner. The set, which debuted at No. 31 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, has sold 131,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The group has a quartet of California performances planned, beginning with a May 6 show at Cal State University in Sacramento, continuing the next night in Santa Cruz and closing with a May 9-10 stand in San Francisco.
Nas Wants To Celebrate
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 8, 2004) *First Jay-Z rocks NY with a sold-out Madison Square Garden concert last November that he referred to as his "victory lap." Now Nas is celebrating with a free concert in Central Park. Last week a "10th Anniversary Edition" of Nas' classic debut album, Illmatic, hit stores. And Nas wants to "give something back to both the fans who have supported him and the city that reared him," so he's gearing up for a free concert in New York's Central Park scheduled for the Fourth of July, according to MTV News. Nas is in Miami finishing up his seventh album, "Streets Disciple" and the concert would be two days before the expected release date of that double album. "New York is the energy of the world, especially where hip-hop's concerned," Nas explained to MTV News. "There's no better place to set it off than Central Park. It reminds me of 'Wild Style' the movie - Fab Five Freddy and Double Trouble, Busy Bee and Grandmaster Flash and Rock Steady. I want to re-create that moment in Central Park." The rapper said he wants "memorable" guests to join him for the performance. His record company confirmed his intentions, but said details were still being worked out. If the concert is held on the park's Great Lawn, where Simon & Garfunkel performed their famous free concert in 1981, it will be the first hip-hop concert to be held at the site, according to MTV.
Jermaine Dupri Obeys
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 12, 2004) *While Janet may be riding the edge of rules, her beau Jermaine Dupri will obey. The rap mogul has re-teamed with Sprite – a decade after penning the tune for one of the brand’s most successful campaigns, which featured Kriss Kross performing inside a soda can. This time around, in urging soda drinkers to obey their thirst, Dupri has remixed Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear” to push Sprite’s Berry Clear flavour. Have a listen HERE!
Rev Run Applies For Poet Laureate Of Queens
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Clarence Burke Jr.
(Apr. 8, 2004) Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons is seeking to become the new poet laureate of Queens, New York. The position does not pay, doesn't come with office space and has been vacant for months. In order to qualify, applicants need to have lived in Queens at some point in their life for at least five years and must write in English. Simmons, who now resides in New Jersey, included lyrics from his holiday hit "Christmas in Hollis" on his application. A decision will be announced in a few weeks. The previous holder of the title was a poet named Hal Sirowitz.
Zab Judah Endorses Team Roc For Title Fight
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By William Devaughn
(Apr. 8, 2004) Zab Judah has signed on to endorse Rocawear's new athletic line, Team Roc. Judah will enter the ring wearing the line on tomorrow (April 10) at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where he will fight as a welterweight for the first time taking on Cory Spinks, the undisputed unified welterweight champion and son of famed boxer Leon Spinks. "This is an exciting fight for me. It's my first as a welterweight and I'm looking forward to getting in the ring and showing what I can do," Judah said. "Being a part of the Roc team and wearing the gear is totally hot. I love what Dame is doing and I'm happy to be a part of it." Dash added that he has always been a fan of boxing and that Team Roc was created to give athletes a more stylish look. "As I've said before, hip-hop and boxing are natural allies, we have a lot in common," Dash added. "We're excited to have Zab Judah wearing Team Roc in the ring." Dash said Team Roc was created to support the young athletes in his own Harlem, New York community and that a portion of proceeds go to the Team Roc charity.
Jay-Z Struts New Sneakers, Goes A Cappella
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(Apr. 9, 2004) Jay-Z will offer two new shoes this summer via his S. Carter Collection in tandem with Reebok. The first, the S. Carter II, arrives June 11. According to Reebok, it will feature curved, arched lines and polished leather accented with "pop" detailing. The shoe will be available in white/green/red and white/navy/red for men, and white/carbon/orange and white/tan/pink for women. It will retail for $100. S. Carter Tennis will arrive on the fourth of July, in the grand tradition of classic tennis shoes. Men can choose from white/royal/red, navy/white and black/green/red color schemes, while women will be offered and white/winery/navy and s.grey/bluelight/white combinations. S. Carter Tennis shoes will retail for $80. The first S. Carter Collection shoe became the fastest-selling footwear product in Reebok's history when it debuted in April 2003. The shoes came with a CD sampler featuring rare tracks and teasers from his yet-to-be-released "The Black Album." Meanwhile, Roc-A-Fella has set a May 11 release date for an a cappella version of that set, which Jay-Z claimed would be his last artist album. Elements of "The Black Album" were recently combined by DJ Danger Mouse with the Beatles' "White Album" to create the unauthorized "The Grey Album," which quickly flooded the Internet.
Method Man's Next Role: 'The Prequel'
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(Apr. 9, 2004) After spending the past several years immersed in film roles and guest spots on other artist's material, Method Man returns to his own music next month with "Tical 0: The Prequel." Due May 18 via Def Jam, the album is Meth's first solo set since 1998's "Tical 2000: Judgement Day," which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 2 on The Billboard 200. The new album is overflowing with guest stars, including longtime colleague Redman, who appears with Snoop Dogg on "We Some Dogs." Meth's Wu-Tang Clan cohorts Ol' Dirty Bastard and Ghostface Killah lend a hand on "Ain't a Damn Thing Changed" and "The Afterparty," respectively. RZA produced the track "The Turn" featuring Raekwon. The 18-track "Prequel" is rounded out by the P. Diddy-produced "Say What" featuring Missy Elliott, first single "What's Happenin" featuring Busta Rhymes, "Rodeo" featuring Ludacris, and "Baby Come On" featuring Kardinal Offishall. Method Man was most recently on the charts with a guest appearance on the Mary J. Blige single "Love at First Sight," which reached No. 10 last July on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally. As previously reported, Method Man and Redman have been tapped to star in their own Fox comedy series, "Method & Red." The artists will portray rappers who move to an affluent, predominantly white community in New Jersey but have their new lives upended when Method Man's mother moves in with them. The show is expected to debut this summer.
Carl Thomas Wants To Talk
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by J.C. Brooks
(Apr. 9, 2004) The man's name should really be L.L. Carl T. The smooth Bad Boy R&B singer that hit the scene with "I Wish" a mere four years ago (almost to the day) has just released his sophomore album "Let's Talk About It." The album is a "conversation" he says he's been looking forward to having with his fans since returning from his hiatus. "I feel for me to be out of people's eyesight for three and a half years that it was very imperative for me to connect with my fans again and I thought the best way to do that would be to start off with a conversation." Thomas explained. "The album is my conversation. The songs are my statements and I'm really just talking to those people who love and understand and support what Carl Thomas does." The singer may have been mistaken for a New Yorker being in the Bad Boy clique and all, but he's really a Chi' (pronounced shy) town native. A town that is also known for other hip-hop favourites like Common Sense and the newly released Kanye West.
Although not a rap artist, Thomas is considered as much a part of hip-hop as Mary J. Blige. He is the youngest in a large clan and many of his fans aren't aware of the journey he has taken. Media has even referred to him as a "Manchild." "That term was taken because my situation came from being the youngest of a lot of children and always being the last to learn this or the last to learn that," he explains. "My path was just a little bit different, I kinda jumped off the porch a little early in life. I've been on my own since I was 17. I was searching for what I wanted to do." The balladeer added, "There wasn't any problems at home, I was just an extremely big dreamer. I'm an uncontrollable big dreamer that my mother had to tame. I haven't fulfilled all of my dreams, but I don't have that AWOL urge anymore. I thought beyond my years, I guess." In characterizing the sound of his new album, he gave us some background on what generates the Carl Thomas sound. He's grateful for the way that the fans responded to "I Wish," but feels that he had to step things up a bit. "I wanted to put an upbeat record in the marketplace. I'm really glad for the way everyone gravitated to ["I Wish"], but it was sombre and I just wanted to put something out there that felt better." And the result was the single "She Is." The singer tried to bring back the good feeling of old school "grooves." "I'm a lover of great grooves. I'm also a sucker for what you call the general great record. And I felt that [She Is] embodies both the great record and the great groove." The single samples from Surface's "Happy," a song that the hip-hop balladeer had been waiting to get his hands on. "I just waited for the opportunity to use it and then finally I got it," he said.
But along with the great "groove," he gives props to L.L. for coming aboard on the single. "I love the original record that we sampled it from. I love the song and L.L. Cool J reached out earlier on the "Emotional" project and he volunteered the remix for "I Wish," said Thomas. He elaborated on what it meant to have L.L. on the single, "I thought that was really, really big for someone like him to have so much longevity to reach out to a young brother like me fresh out the envelope. So I wanted to recreate some of that magic again." Thomas' talents don't stop at singing. He wrote a lot of the songs on his first album and has gone on to produce some of the songs on the present set. "[On Emotional] that was just all writing. I was on the production helm for like 4 or 5 records on this album," said Thomas. "I guess it was just a natural progression or growth for me." While being off the radar, the hip-hop balladeer has been involved in the Seagram's tour. He also has an upcoming tour with some other R&B heavyweights. "I plan to be out primarily the entire summer with Frankie Beverly and Maze and Gerald Levert. So I'm really gearing toward that." Although he wasn't sure where the tour would begin, he said it is set to kick-off in June. Patti LaBelle also had Thomas as an opener for her and he was quite honoured to say the least. "I had the opportunity to open for her on a couple occasions. She requests her own opening acts and for her to request me is a very, very big honour." An honour that he probably won't get over anytime soon from the sounds of it. "When things like that happen, I feel really, really humbled. As good as people feel about it, there are 50-100 kids that can write and sing circles around me right there in the projects. But, for some reason God gave me the opportunity and chose me to be the vessel. So I'm definitely not going to disrespect that platform." So many artists are complaining about their record deals or being dropped from their labels these days. The result could be leading the industry and its artists into what could be turmoil. But Thomas doesn't see anything but the upside to the music business. "I think that what we're experiencing as far as the corporate squeeze in the music business, is the wave of the future where each and every man or woman is becoming his or her own industry," he explained. "
We're merely witnessing a change to the way it's always been and this is why people feel there is so much trouble. It's not as much trouble if you get with it instead of fighting it. It's human nature. It's human to fear what you don't understand or what you don't know about." When asked if he feared being a victim of the axe coming down on his career, he was unaffected. He isn't experiencing any anxiety or sense of threat at all. "I'm not faced with that type of situation. Those type of problems are not knocking at my door," he confidently replied. "You have to understand that Bad Boy is my fourth record deal. I've had three other record deals before this and in essence I've prepared myself for these times. I can't really feel sorry for someone else because they did not. [Others] have put all the eggs in their life into the music business, walking around here with no college education or no other skills or no other knowledge and that's where I think the nervousness is coming from." Thomas has bigger goals ahead than we anticipated. He certainly hasn't been resting on music as his only dream. He really is a "big dreamer." "When people ask me, 'Carl, why'd you stay away so long?' This is just so not everything to me," he said. He explained that if he wasn't in music he'd probably be in politics. "I'd probably be playing a key role in getting a democratic candidate elected for President. I'm definitely someone that is heavily involved in voter registration." Right now his aspirations in politics are dormant, but he has a plan for that career as well. He's not qualified to run for office, but says he knows how to get the job done if that is what he chooses to o one day. "You qualify yourself through public service or public duty. While I'm in the music phase of my career, in my life, it is hard for me to do music and to focus on public duty at the same time. Perhaps down the road." To catch Carl Thomas in concert, look out for him in June with Gerald Levert and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. He will also be performing at the Essence Music Festival this year. His new set "Let's Talk About It" is already in stores.
Bootsy Is Back!
Source Makeda Smith / Jasmyne PR / www.jazzmynepr.com
(Apr. 9, 2004) Pioneer of funk, Bootsy Collins has signed with Thump Records and will release his first CD in six years, announced Jay King, the director of the classic R&B division at Thump Records. “Play With Bootsy” the artist ’s new project is an eclectic blend of dance, funk, and club featuring guests artists Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Macy Gray, Fat Boy Slim, Bobby Womack, Miss Kier and Rosie Gaines. “Bootsy is a major coup for Thump Records,“ reveals King. “His signing is a powerful confirmation of our commitment to provide a home for our pre-eminent musicians.” Collins’ album will drop on June 8th. Bootsy Collin’s legacy spans the last three decades, with his earliest efforts beginning at age 17 when he recorded “Sex Machine” with James Brown. Best known for his participation in the celebrated band, the Funkadelics and the Mothership Connection, Collins continued his musical legacy with the formation of his own group, Booty’s Rubber Band. He toured with DeeeLite in the 90’s and later was embraced by the hip hop generation, appearing in numerous rap videos, with his beats being heavily sampled over the past decade. His re-emergence back on the scene is testimony to his pervasive star power and magnetism. When Thump Records announced Club Nouveau co-founder Jay King as the director of its new classic R&B division, CEO Bill Walker had the foresight to revitalize the careers of some of the music industry’s finest. The concept was to sign favourite “veteran” artists and release their new music. With a vision to infuse a fresh spirit and energy into the classic R&B and old school music scene, together King and Walker are determined to set a new precedent in a hip hop driven world. With the recent signing of Bootsy Collins, one of the pioneers of funk, to Thump Records, the label is positioning itself with a strong power base. Collins joins label mates Lakeside, Midnight Star, Michael Cooper, Val Watson (female lead vocalist – Club Nouveau) and Club Nouveau. Thump Records will release new music beginning in June with Collins and offer two new CD releases per month. For additional information and offerings from Thump Records, go to www.ThumpRecords.com or call 909-595-2144.
Gloria Gaynor: After 25 years, I Will Survive Still Going Strong
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Kevin Jackson / email@example.com
(Apr. 8, 2004) This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the global smash hit I Will Survive. The song was recorded by disco music maven Gloria Gaynor in 1979. Not only did the song top the charts in the US and the UK, but it also soared to number one on multiple charts around the globe. It became an anthem of sorts for women, and even changed Gaynor’s life forever. But before the song became a hit, Gaynor was already a staple on dance floors around the world spewing out club shakers such as Substitute, Lets Make a Deal, Honey Bee and Never Can Say Goodbye. Love Tracks, her sixth studio album released in 1979 contained the smash hit I Will Survive. This writer caught up with Miss Gaynor recently, and here are excerpts from the interview.
Kevin Jackson: A lot of persons may not have known that you were once a member of a group called the Soul Satisfiers before you had a solo career. How did you actually get your start in the business?
Gloria Gaynor: That’s a blast from the past. How I got my start was quite interesting. It was just being in the right place at the right time. I was babysitting for someone and the neighbour overheard me singing and he introduced me to a band, which I later started to sing with.
KJ: How did you get your solo career going?
GG: A producer from Columbia Records heard me singing and took me to see Clive Davis who was at Columbia at the time. Clive signed me right away. I still had my band with me. The band played for a while on my records. It was an easy transition. I went from the band with the girl to the girl with the band. It was an easy transition.
KJ: In 1975 you were among the very first dance music artistes to release a dance record when the album Never Can Say Goodbye came out. That album had a few club hits. What was it like making that ground breaking album?
GG: It was great. We knew we were supplying a new and growing market. The market was wide open for us. We had a lot of new ideas and it was a great time for us.
KJ: When I Will Survive shook the world like a vengeful storm in 1979, did it bring along any major changes in your life?
GG: Yes it did. It really got me traveling around the world. I have performed in over 80 countries. I am of course a lot richer and I got great opportunities and I made a lot of friends.
KJ: If you hadn’t pursued a musical career, what would you have been doing for a living?
GG: I would’ve been a school teacher.
KJ: Are you married and do you have any children of your own?
GG: I have been happily married for the past 25 years. No, I don’t have any children.
KJ: In 2002 you returned to the charts after a long absence with a number one dance record I Never Knew. How did it feel coming back on the charts after so long?
GG: It felt really great. The label and myself came with a good record which I think is the best album I have ever done.
KJ: How do you keep current with the latest trends in music?
GG: By using new producers and keeping up with what’s in the market. I get my teenage nieces and nephews to listen to my music before its released so they can tell me what they think.
KJ: I understand that you will be inducted in the Dance Music Hall of Fame later this year. How does this latest accolade impact on you?
GG: Its wonderful to be honoured but when you are honoured by your peers and by people who are familiar with your work, it is really a good feeling.
KJ: You won the first Grammy award for Disco Recording. Did you get the feeling that I Will Survive would’ve been a big hit?
GG: I believe that song was a timeless recording. I knew it would’ve been popular. As far as I was concerned, it was a hit as long as the record company did what it had to do, to promote it.
KJ: Do you ever get tired of singing the song I Will Survive?
GG: I always want to do new things. I never get tired of singing that song. Each time I sing it, I manage to get the audience on their feet.
KJ: If you should depart from this earth tomorrow, what would you want to be best remembered for?
GG: For having inspired people.
Footnote: Thanks to Howie Simon, Miss Gaynor’s publicist at Webster and Associates Public Relations in Hollywood, California for facilitating this interview.
The 13th Annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 7, 2004) BET Jazz: The Jazz Channel and the St. Lucia Tourist Board will present a stellar and diversified lineup for the 13th annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival scheduled for May 7 -16, 2004. Considered one of the premier music festivals in the Caribbean, St. Lucia Jazz features more than a dozen acts in a variety of venues around the island known as the "Helen of the West Indies" for its natural beauty. St. Lucia Jazz features multiple shows daily, including acoustical, new age and straight-ahead jazz, soul, fusion and R&B. Unlike other Caribbean music festivals, St. Lucia Jazz features "fringe" events, which are held in a variety of small villages all across the island. The "fringe" activities provide the opportunity for travelers to experience the entire island and its people, as well as the fine music. "Fringe" events take place in small village parks, casual open-air venues, and charming retail complexes. The confirmed lineup to date for St. Lucia Jazz 2004 includes: R&B artists Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Ashanti, and Joe, jazz greats Kenny G, Billy Taylor, James Carter, Maynard Ferguson, Marlena Shaw and newcomer Floetry. Also performing will be Cuban band Charanga Habanera, Blue Mango and The Yellowjackets. Peter Hilary Modeste, the St. Lucia Tourist Board's director of tourism, hopes to take the festival to new heights this year. "We now need to look to more mainstream performers as a source of headliners for St. Lucia Jazz fest," says Modeste. By booking more internationally known acts, the St. Lucia Tourist Board hopes to broaden its audience and in the process expose St. Lucia to new and more diversified travelers. For more information and tickets, visit the official St. Lucia Jazz Web site at www.stluciajazz.org, or contact the St. Lucia Tourist Board toll-free (888) 4-ST-LUCIA. Information on St. Lucia is also available online at www.stlucia.org, the official site of the St. Lucia Tourist Board.
· 50 Cent was born Curtis Jackson on July 6, 1976.
· He grew up in the rough Jamaica neighbourhood of Queens, NY.
· His mother was a drug dealer who died under mysterious circumstances when he was eight years old.
· He was dealing drugs on the street by age 12.
· The rapper pinched the name 50 Cent from a Brooklyn gangster.
· Was protégé of late Run DMC star Jam Master Jay, who signed a young 50 to his JMJ label.
· Recorded the independent album Power of the Dollar with the Trackmaster production team in '99.
· The same year, 50 made some serious enemies after releasing the underground hit How to Rob, which dissed such hip hop heavyweights as Ghostface, Master P and Jay-Z.
· Columbia Records picked up 50 Cent on the strength of Power of the Dollar in 2000.
· Shortly after being courted by Columbia, he was shot nine times (including one bullet to the face) while sitting in a car outside his grandmother's house.
· Despite signing the Columbia deal in hospital and receiving a hefty advance, 50 was eventually dropped.
· The advance cash allowed 50 to release the record Guess Who's Back? and the bootleg 50 Cent is the Future, the latter of which caught the ear of Eminem.
· Is now signed to Eminem and Dr. Dre's label Shady/Aftermath and Interscope.
· The mainstream 50 Cent revolution began with the single, Wanksta, one of the stand-out tracks on the soundtrack for Eminem's film debut, 8 Mile.
· Jam Master Jay is murdered in October of 2002. Depending on who you believe, 50 Cent was put under either police protection or surveillance because of his ties to the writer/producer.
· 50's major label debut, Get Rich or Die Trying, is released one week early in February 2003 due to the astonishing number of people downloading the album.
· Despite the downloading spree, Get Rich manages to sell a whopping 870,000 copies in its first week. It sells more than four million copies in two months.
· The album boasts no less than three hit singles, including In Da Club, Wanksta and 21 Questions.
· Last year, after announcing his intentions to write an autobiography, tentatively titled, Number One With Nine Bullets, 50 decided not to go ahead with the project. However, it looks like something will come out through MTV Books and Pocket Books. Someday.
· If published, his rap sheet could very well read longer than War and Peace. One of his more recent run-ins with the law occurred weeks before the release of Get Rich when he and a member of his G-Unit crew were arrested for gun possession.
· His lyrics have been criticized for being among the most violent and misogynistic of any rap artist.
· He don't dig dudes: 50 stirred up some controversy in a recent Playboy interview, in which he was quoted as saying "I ain't into faggots. I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are."
· 50 Cent originally wanted to release a new album this summer, but plans were scrapped. He told MTV he needed more time to create the perfect follow-up to Get Rich. An October release date is more likely.
You can call him Fitty.
Just Stick To The Dance Tracks, Janet
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry
Employing her middle name as the title, ostensibly to denote the varied facets of her personality, Janet Jackson is staying the course with her eighth album. Longtime producers, Minneapolis hit-men Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are back at the helm massaging the 38-year-old songstress's whisper-thin J.Lo-worthy vocals that will never be a threat to BeyoncŽ or Christina. And the in-your-face sensuality that has marked her albums since 1991's janet gets a full airing. Tracks named "Sexhibition," "Moist" and the profanity-tinged "Strawberry Bounce" make it clear that the parental advisory-stickered Jackson (her first such warning) is well clear of the youthful innocence she once depicted as a child actor. Also gone is the coming-of-age thoughtfulness of 1986's Control and social consciousness of 1989's Rhythm Nation 1814. And that's fine if you're just looking for a good time, because the music on Damita Jo is banging. From the driving bassline on the title track, to the old school funky "R&B Junkie" to the soulful tone of the Kanye West-produced "I Want You," the uptempo songs are guaranteed summer party favourites. However, most of the slower tunes edge into mediocrity by virtue of her endlessly breathless striptease shtick. Overall, the album's greatest failing is the singer's banal between-songs musings. We don't care about your philosophy, Janet. If you want us to forget about the breast, the brother and all the brouhaha, don't try to make us think. Just do what you do best: look pretty, dance and bring on the remixes.
The Reeducation Of Musiq Soulchild
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Ricardo Hazell
(Apr. 14, 2004) *Philadelphia born musician Talib Johnson, known to the world as Musiq Soulchild, is at a crossroads in his life. At 26-years of age, he has accomplished feats of excellence in his field that many only dream about. He is a success by any definition of the word, but when we ran into him at Compton High School, in Compton, California -- where he lectured to students in a music class -- we learned of his overriding concern for education for others ... and himself. "It's always a great thing when I get to talk to the younger generation about their dreams and aspirations of doing this as a career," said Musiq of his audience that day. "I feel they should be educated. I feel that there are a lot of things that they're getting that I wish I had (gotten) when I was coming up; such as artists coming to their school and teachers taking out the time to educate them in the business. Just off the basic fact that I'm in it and what better way to learn than to talk to someone who's in it."
He is a songwriter, producer and vocalist and yet his formal education is quite limited. When asked of his mentor, Johnson told EUR/EURweb that his father was his sole teacher. "My father is the only mentor that I had," he admitted. "He still is a musician, he just picked up his instrument again recently. He played in a band back in the day, but put it all to the side to raise my brothers and sisters and I. He plays the saxophone. He basically put me on to a lot of old school music and sparked a fire in me wanting to get on with different genres of music. He made me want to teach myself and train myself how to be a better songwriter and how to be a better artist. At the same time, you can't really teach someone else how to do that. Those are skills that you really learn on your on. I can only give advice and my own experience along the way." With only a 9th grade education and no formal musical background Musiq Soulchild was able to become a more than capable composer, but he says it was extremely difficult. That was in part do to his education, or lack thereof. "It was very hard because I didn't have the unit that these kids are blessed to have. I dropped out of school because I got tired of it, I got bored with it. The school that I had didn't have a good music program. My parents were like 'Yo, we really don't think that you should drop out of school,' but at the time I was hard headed and sort of a wild seed and I was pretty much going to do what I wanted to do anyway. And, even though I wasn't in school, my parents still did what they could to guide me towards learning. My father was like 'OK, if this is what you want to do, then these are the things that you need to know,' and my mother was like 'You can't just sit around the house. Read a book, go get a part time job, learn how to survive out in this world.' Ninth grade is the last grade I attended, and I didn't pass that." When it comes to knowledge of a particular thing some seem as though they were born to obtain it. But Soulchild says he still yearns to complete his scholastic endeavors and yearns for that piece of paper that tells the world he has done just that. "I've been trying to go back ever since my career really kicked off, but I just couldn't. Scheduling always got me caught up, but I know I have to graduate. For one, I'm trying to go to film school. I'm not trying to be callous, but this is a frustrating thing. It's frustrating because the air that comes with finishing school is a lot different than if you didn't finish school. That's the frustrating thing. I have no documents to prove the knowledge that I have although I've obtained a lot of knowledge outside of school."
Intelligent and conscious of his place in the world, Musiq Soulchild is educated in many ways, though not formally. Yet he is resolute about his priorities and seeks to rectify a thing what haunts him most. "I've done my best to educate myself on a lot of things because there's one thing that I don't want to be and that's an idiot. I don't like to be ignorant and I don't like to be stupid. I don't want to be viewed as not intelligent. Knowledge can take you so far, it's not necessarily the experience of the thing. But having a knowledge of a thing makes you know it better. I have never been to any music school, and I've never taken a class on word association and note placing and all those things that come with songwriting and producing. I never took a class on how to create a mood or a rhythm. When it comes to music I just know these things because it's instinctive. Some how, some way, it's in me to know these things. There are some people that go to school and they spend a lot of time, learning and knowing and reading exactly what a note is and they know the language. I barely know the language but if you put me in a room with a band right now I will get you a song done in no time." Musiq Soulchild's current CD is titled "Soulstar." Our interview with the Philly-bred musician will continue at a later date. Learn more at his website: www.musiqsoulchild.com.
Interview With R. Kelly Protégé - Russell
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Mr. Jawn Murray (Washington, DC)
(Apr. 13, 2004) If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That’s the motto Russell lives by. On a whim, the Cleveland, OH native who was residing in Lexington, KY decided to “pursue the music thing” and jumped in his Honda and uprooted to Chicago, IL. “I was sick of dreaming about it and thinking about it. I felt it was probably going to bug me for the rest of my life unless I gave it a shot,” said Russell. “I said to myself, I going to go to R. Kelly. I am going to find him, try to get a song from him, try to get a deal, and try to get everything that I could get right there [in Chicago].” Both luck and persistence would work in Russell’s favor. As fate would have it, Russell’s car would break down less than a mile and a half from Kelly’s mansion. With the little bit of money he had, Russell got a hotel room for several weeks in the Olympia Fields community where Kelly resided. From his hotel room, Russell could see the top of the singer/songwriter’s mansion elevated on a hill. “I wanted to meet him,” remembered Russell. “I went to the gate at his house. Security asked me to leave the first time. The second time the police escorted me away. That was weird to me because I had never been in any trouble with the police or anything.” Still determined to meet his idol, Russell hoped his third visit to the Kelly estate would be his charm. After having a conversation with a local couple that was staying next door in the hotel while waiting to move into their new home, Russell would learn some important tidbits about the chart-topping superstar. “I found out he was only home one night a week. He otherwise stayed in the studio downtown. They also gave me info as to where he played basketball and what his routine was,” admitted Russell. With his newfound knowledge, Russell decided to return Kelly’s home one last time. “The third time I left a card and some basketball shoes,” explained Russell. “In turn, someone did call me and invited me to play [basketball with Kelly]. I went and played that [same] night.” That evening, Russell played on a team with Brian McKnight and found himself guarding Kelly on the court. “I grew up playing [basketball] so I play pretty good. I challenged him and stepped up and played good [defense]. Afterwards he thanked me for it,” said Russell. “Thanks for hustling man,” Kelly said to Russell.
Not wasting the opportunity, Russell quickly changed the topic from hoops to music. “I wanted to talk to him about music. I said, ’Man, I ain’t come all of this way for nothing, can we talk music, I may not ever see you again,” remembered Russell. Kelly replied with, “We’ll talk business at the studio. I don’t want anybody knowing my business.” That same night Russell was off to the studio with Kelly. On the way, Kelly phoned his publicist, his business manager, his business partner, and the woman who ran his Roc-Land Records. “I was surrounded by Kelly’s business entourage -- none of his boys, none of the friends we played ball with,” laughed Russell. “I don’t know what it was. I was dressed nice and he thought I worked for Coca-Cola. Later on, he told me he was working on a deal for Coca-Cola. I told him, ’I’m sorry you’ve got all of these people here, man, I just want to be a singer.’ Everyone started laughing. Robert laughed a little bit and then said, ’Sing something.” That golden opportunity soon became one of Russell’s most embarrassing moments. “I just choked. I don’t know what it was. I guess I was just nervous,” reflected Russell. “A couple of people there were like, ’This guy ain’t no singer!’ I mean, I didn’t realize that this happened to Robert so much.” Though Russell bombed on his first impression, Kelly still admired his fortitude and something about the fledgling singer made the award-winning artist want to keep him around. “There was something about me not quitting that [he liked]. Every night we would go play basketball and then go to the studio. I know what made us bound was…there are a lot of people around him for the wrong reason. It could be something simple like borrowing money or asking him to show up [at events] for them to make money off of his name. Or simply just wanting to have drinks and be around the studio,” explained Russell. “But, very few people around Rob were serious about music and serious about business. I think that’s what he saw in me.” Russell would soon find himself being one of Kelly’s regular companions. There were the all-night studio sessions from about 1 a.m. until 8 a.m., followed by early morning sleeping, and an evening round of basketball. Even when Kelly would kick everyone else out of the studio to record vocals, which he normally did alone, he would still allow Russell to stick around. “I was just always there,” said Russell. “He would allow me to stay.” Throughout their entire friendship, Russell continued to write and produce on his own, and never asked Kelly to use his studio. Instead, Russell took his own money and traveled to Detroit, MI and recorded a song with former Boyz II Men protégé Uncle Sam.
Russell did ask Kelly for one song, but he also signed a standard contract with Kelly and agreed to pay $175,000 for the potential hit. “He allowed me to put the song on lay-a-way,” explained Russell. “I worked a job during the day at a car dealership and he allowed me to pay on the song through my payroll checks. I remember shoveling snow for these nice people in Chicago. I was getting $7,500 for a driveway and a sidewalk. I was doing whatever it took to survive and I was so close to being in the game, that if I could get a song from him, I could get my own record deal. I kept bringing in money and paying off my debt.” Kelly would later admit to Russell that he was just testing him. “He saw I worked hard and that I wasn’t going to quit. I wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I had been working on vocal lessons at his studio with whoever was around,” shared Russell. Because of his dedication, Kelly never made Russell pay the full amount of his debt and the two recorded “Rich Man,” a song in which Kelly also appears. But day-to-day life for Kelly would soon be changed as allegations of child pornography and a sex tape allegedly featuring Kelly was widely bootlegged. The Jive-recording artist quickly left Chicago for Orlando, FL. “He cut a lot of people off, except me,” confidently stated Russell. “I went to live with him in Orlando and began working full speed on my own album.” While headed to play basketball one afternoon in Orlando, Kelly was finally arrested. “We were in the van on our way to play basketball, you know, the same routine everyday. [The police] came out of everywhere and did what they had to do. [Kelly] told us all to stay cool. He didn’t act concerned about it,” offered Russell. “I wanted so bad to run over to that little jailhouse and defend him. I mean, CNN and everybody was there. I wanted bad to go over and talk about it, but I also thought it would be a little bit out of line. I also thought, people would say, ‘Of course he is going to say that, he’s with him. I never wanted anyone to say that I was trying to get my music for this reason or something. Then, I also felt that it wasn’t my business.”
Russell says he has never seen the alleged Kelly sex tape and finds it hard to believe that his mentor could have participated in such activity. “Never! Never nothing close to it, man,” exclaimed Russell. “I never saw anything. When we had free time, we always went to his house where his wife and kids were. At that time, if anything was going on, I definitely would have witnessed it. It‘s still puzzling to me to this day.” After Kelly’s arrest in Orlando, he went back to Chicago. “I decided to stay [in Orlando] because I wanted to finish my album. I knew what I had to do.” Russell used the same determination he demonstrated in his quest to meet Kelly, and finally finished his debut album, “When I’m With You.” Aside from the track produced by Kelly, the album was solely written and produced by Russell for his very own R Records. The end result is a project that Russell is proud of and feels was a longtime coming. While the singer hopes listeners find pleasure in the 12-track disc -- “Obviously, I hope people enjoy the music” -- he’s more concerned with the message. “I hope more than anything people take away the story that if you really want to do something in life, just do it and pray about it and it will happen.” Russell’s entry into the music business is certainly a testament to that!
Remember The Jets? They're Back In The Form Of JETT17
Source: Aly M. Cleary, Public Relations & Promotions Director WPRecords, Inc. / PR@Jett17.com / www.jett17.com / www.wolfgrammproductions.com
(Apr. 13, 2004) ORLANDO, FL – JETT17 lands on the musical runway with the release of their debut album, "All Together Now" on WPRecords. With a variety of vocalists spotlighted, JETT17 shows that they make their own trends, melding the sounds of R&B, reggae, hip hop, rock, and soul, reflecting the diverse personalities of the band. With 12 musical selections on the album, JETT17 switches the radio dial on today’s popular music formula, beginning with the deeply personal R&B/Hip Hop title track recalling JETT17’s struggle to find their niche in the music industry, to “Inner Quality”, an up-tempo R&B track with a deeper message, and a soulful young love’s lament of “Missing You Crazy”. Other notables on this album include the band’s second single, “Running Out of Love”, the high energy “Hot Trax” and the Latin flavoured dance floor scorcher “Amor Es De Verdad”. Consisting of five younger brothers and sisters of the multi-platinum 80's group, "The Jets" along with three talented cousins, JETT17 are a self-contained band with a dynamic stage presence and sound which sets them apart from many of the artists currently taking over the charts. Maliana Wolfgramm, one of the bands primary songwriters, states, “All Together Now is a unique and versatile album. While making the album I felt that there were no rules, except our own, as to what it should contain. As there are eight members in this group with eight different likes in music, we wanted to portray that versatility.” Her younger sister, Natalia added, “Hearing music and lyrics that we ourselves wrote and produced was exciting. We were able to express ourselves, our thoughts and feelings on a lot of issues that I think the youth and people all around the world can relate to.” Through the message on “ALL TOGETHER NOW”, JETT17’s debut album shows that family unity and a deeply personal story can touch listeners and fans on all levels.
Ying Yang Is Photogenic
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 14, 2004) *The Ying Yang Twins recently shot their third video "What's Happenin'" from the almost platinum set "Me & My Brother." The video was shot in A-T-L, of course, and features ya boy Trick Daddy and our boy boxing champ Roy Jones, Jr. The vid features the prime participants entertaining themselves with several hardcore sports and competing on a high level. It's slated to bow on the major outlets sometime this summer.
The Calgary Girl Next Door - Elisha Cuthbert Won't Do Nudity
Excerpt from The Toronto Star – by Margo Vardi
(Apr. 9, 2004) Elisha Cuthbert should be used to taking it off. She had her first magazine exposure at age 7 — as a foot model in a Sears catalogue. She has more recently done sexy photo spreads in FHM and Maxim. But when it came to starring as a porn star in The Girl Next Door, she drew the line, refusing to go completely nude. Still, it's not exactly a family film. Sexual content, profanity and drug use have made The Girl Next Door restricted in the United States, unlike here in more laidback Canada where it's rated 14A, which means teens as young as 14 can go when accompanied by an adult. Cuthbert is conscientious in warning audiences that this movie is not appropriate for the younger crowd. "I think this film is a little darker than a teen flick ... and isn't for anyone under 14," Cuthbert said in a telephone interview. "It's a coming-of-age film and I would worry a bit about the content because they (kids) might not get it." Calgary-born Cuthbert got her start in mostly family-oriented movies and TV shows, including co-hosting Popular Mechanics For Kids. Her steamy role in The Girl Next Door is quite a stretch from those days. She plays Danielle, a teenager struggling to escape the seedy adult entertainment industry when she becomes romantically entangled with her neighbour, Matthew (Emile Hirsch) a naïve, awkward and ambitious high-school senior. She's best known as a co-star of the hit TV drama 24. This is her first feature movie role, and she had to work hard just to get the job. "I spent seven months trying to convince people I was the best for The Girl Next Door. It was worth it." Cuthbert said she had to do a lot of research for the role, which sounds like an adolescent boy's dream: filing through porn magazines, meeting girls in the adult industry and watching interviews with those who, like her character, decided to leave the business. She also had the sensitive task of convincing the director Luke Greenfield that the movie could be made without requiring her to be nude. Recently, she bought a house in Hollywood where she lives on her own and keeps busy with several projects. "Right now I'm working on 24 and a horror film in Australia called House Of Wax. Paris Hilton will be in it. I play a twin who's a small town girl wanting to make it big." While Cuthbert says she can imagine herself back in Canada, the actress does not appear to have any plans to return home just yet. She does not take her Canadian training for granted and feels it has helped to further her career. "If I wasn't an actor, I would just be an artist, a painter or a photographer." And then there's always foot modelling.
Telefilm's Hollywood Deal Full Of Promise
Excerpt from The Toronto Star – by Martin Knelman
(Apr. 11, 2004) When Richard Stursberg, CEO of Telefilm Canada, faced the Toronto media one afternoon last week, it seemed more like a trial than a press conference. Stursberg was accused of that most heinous of all cultural crimes, trying to win friends and influence people in Hollywood. A couple of days earlier, pious nationalists from ACTRA and the Writers Union had made Stursberg sound like disgraced U.S. president Richard Nixon, circa 1974, trying to cover up Watergate and stave off impeachment. No one was trying to impeach Stursberg exactly, but the two unions, representing 20,000 Canadian performers and 1,700 writers, were certainly painting him as a guy who was betraying our most cherished ideals and conspiring to make deals with the devil. What was the uproar all about? Someone had leaked a memo from Stursberg containing details of a deal he was working on with Creative Artists — the highest-profile talent agency in Hollywood. ACTRA's Stephen Waddell called it "a secret deal" and "a slap in the face for the talented performers, writers and directors who have chosen to stay and work in their own country." Maureen Parker of the Writers Guild chimed in: "Who gives Stursberg the mandate to do this?" Parker called it "disheartening and shocking" that Canadian tax dollars could go into the pockets of a U.S. talent agency. You may get the impression from this uproar that the Canadian content of our home-made movies, so cherished by our audiences that they account for something less than 1 per cent of the box-office take in English Canada, is about to be deeply compromised. That Stursberg was proposing to return to the bad old days of the late 1970s, depicted in the recent satiric movie Hollywood North. In that era of the so-called tax-shelter movie, charlatan producers got money from dentists on the make, in order to produce imitation American movies featuring Canadian cities disguised as U.S. cities. In fact, a return to those days is not at all what Stursberg has in mind. But Hollywood is the centre of the global movie industry. The people who know most about structuring deals, financing movies and packaging projects tend to live and/or work there. And, surprising as this may be, a huge number of Canadian performers, directors and writers live part-time or full-time in Los Angeles and are represented by U.S. talent agents. Almost all Canadian movie producers need to have Hollywood connections. A few powerful ones, such as Robert Lantos, have the right contacts, and have no trouble getting their phone calls returned. Smaller producers tend to get shut out. They can't get their phone calls returned. Nobody in Hollywood knows or cares who they are. But as the Canadian government's film-financing arm, Telefilm Canada has clout that individual producers do not. Stursberg's idea was that Telefilm could make a deal that would give those little guys the kind of instant access people might spend years fighting to achieve. It's all part of his master plan to help Canadian movies reach a level of 5 per cent of the Canadian box office before the year 2006. Here is what this deal is not about:
It is not about importing American directors to take control of Canadian movies.
It is not about attracting runaway production — i.e. Hollywood movies to be made on location in Canada.
Instead, this is about pressing the HELP button. With the input of CAA, Canadian producers, according to Stursberg, will get the help they need in setting up the deals for their movies, getting access to international financing, finding distributors and partners. They will also get help in persuading Canadian talent in Los Angeles to come home and take part in Canadian productions. That sounds promising to me. But suspicious nationalists wonder aloud: So why was it being kept secret? Well, just how secret is anything when you put the details in a letter to hundreds of people? Stursberg had not yet announced it to the Canadian public. He had not alerted the media. First he wanted to get some feedback from the industry. And he planned to announce the CAA deal next month at Cannes during the film festival. A controversial aspect is the amount of money changing hands. Telefilm is paying CAA an undisclosed annual fee, but we know from clues Stursberg dropped that it is less than $500,000. The fee is an advance on fees earned by CAA for services to Canadian producers. Under the deal's terms, CAA can earn up to 1 per cent of the budget of any Canadian film it's involved in. I know we're supposed to be shocked and appalled, but it sounds like a bargain to me. And if it's as terrible an idea as some of those pious nationalists believe, how can you explain the fact that the phone lines at Telefilm over the past few days have been jammed by eager producers trying to find out how they can get in on the action? There is one major potential problem with this scheme, and it's one Stursberg's opponents have not mentioned. To put it gently, Canadian movies are unlikely ever to rank near the top of CAA's agenda. This may come as a surprise, but the big players in the CAA office are going to be much more interested in their next $200 million deal with Spielberg than they are in a $3 million Canadian movie directed by someone from Saskatchewan they've never heard of. So at this moment, there could be someone at CAA chuckling at how naïve Canadians are, while preparing to take the money and run. Still, I would say Stursberg's deal falls into the same category as the remedy advocated by an old man at the back of a funeral service. "Give him a little chicken soup," he keeps saying — until an annoyed friend of the deceased replies: "He's dead. That won't help." To which the old man retorts: "So, would it hurt him?" There is no way of knowing this early whether the CAA deal can help bring English Canadian movies into the land of the living. But, as a worst-case scenario, it's not going to hurt.
[This past Sunday, April 11 marked the cable television
debut (FX Network) of the movie Redemption starring Jamie Foxx and Lynn
Whitfield. Below are a couple of
articles that reflect different points of view on this unbelievable story.]
Death Row Redemption Subject Of Movie
Source: CNN International, United States
(Apr. 10, 2004 ) LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Can a man escape the villainy of his past through his good works? This is the driving theme behind "Redemption: The Stan 'Tookie' Williams Story," about the South Los Angeles street gangster and death row inmate whose anti-gang books for children have earned him three Nobel Prize nominations. "I really felt that this story had divinity," says director Vondie Curtis Hall, director of the two-hour docudrama that airs 8 p.m. ET Sunday on FX. "The notion of one's introspection and quest to find the deepest good in one's self fascinates me. When I talk about divinity, that's what I wanted -- I wanted to find that journey, that inward journey of a man."
The story begins on San Quentin's death row, with Williams, played by Jamie Foxx, telling of his chaotic childhood in the 1970s, trying to survive in a community riddled with gangs. Gaining a reputation as a master street fighter, Williams teams with a rival gangster to form the Crips, which overtook its fiercest enemy, the Bloods, to control much of the city's gang territory. "If Stan 'Tookie' Williams had been born in Connecticut in the same type of situation, and was a white man, he would have been running a company," says Foxx, who gained some 25 pounds to resemble the hulking inmate. "But born a black man who has the capability of having brute strength and the capability of being smart in the ways of the world, he's going to get into what he gets into." Williams' rampage of rage and violence ended in 1981 at age 26 when he was sentenced to die for the killing of four people, including a teenage convenience store clerk shot in the head during a $111 robbery. After six years in solitary confinement, Williams started writing children's books with an anti-gang message because gang influences often start at an early age.
"In order for me to experience redemption, I had to first develop a conscious," Williams once said of his intensive study of the Bible to understand his own self-hatred. "That enabled me to gradually rectify my many faults ... only then was I able to reach out to others and make amends." From the start, Williams' literary collaborator has been Los Angeles journalist Barbara Becnel, who first met the prisoner in 1993 when she interviewed him for her book "America's Other Civil War: The History of the Crips and Bloods." At that time, Williams told her of his commitment to end the violent legacy he began. "Stan and Barbara have a kind of platonic marriage of sorts," says Lynn Whitfield, who portrays Becnel in the film. "When two people who are very bright come together from opposite ends of life experience, and both with equally founded points-of-view, and they challenge each other, it allows for something very exciting to happen, and in terms of cause, are very stimulating to each other." It wasn't that way in the beginning, however. "It took almost two and a half years before I committed to (helping him publish the books)," says Becnel. "I wanted to take the time to convince myself that he was sincere ... I expected the news media image of a gang member. What I found was an articulate, quiet man." But it was during his videotaped speech at the first-ever gang summit in Los Angeles that Becnel realized the power behind Williams' soft-spoken words. "When he started speaking ... all eyes were on him," Becnel remembers. The scene is a pivotal moment in the film, which is largely sympathetic to Williams. "What I saw that day, and I've seen it many times since, his voice is the credible voice that these young folks would listen to. I knew then that the (books) would have tremendous value," Becnel said.
While Williams' anti-gang message has been praised worldwide, the messenger remains a problem for some. "He's a murderer," argues Nancy Ruhe, executive director of the National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children. "When these people do bad, the media, moviemakers see them as redeemed and glamorize this," she says. "But what about the families who had children murdered and put together the Amber Alert? Do we put them up for an award? Do we make a movie about them? No. I'm so sick of hearing his name, they need to carry out the punishment." In September 2002, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recommended gubernatorial clemency for Williams, who is currently awaiting the final appellate decision, which Becnel says could come "any day now." The film ends with the wait for that decision. In the meantime, Williams has his own "Tookie's Corner" anti-gang Web site and is writing his autobiography. As with his other books, proceeds will be donated to various inner-city charities. "The thing that Stan's story tells us is that one can choose a higher path in spite of circumstances," says Hall, the director. "Stan has changed millions of lives from a 9-by-4 foot cell."
Redemption, American Style
By Ronda Racha Penrice, Africana.com
(Apr. 10, 2004) As Christians everywhere gather for Easter this weekend to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a death row inmate and co-founder of the notorious Crips street gang, will sit in his cell. His agenda for the day, like every other day, will be atonement.
Anyone who tunes into Redemption, the F/X original film starring Jamie Foxx and based on Williams's life, renunciation of gang violence and his fervent dedication to deterring children away from gang life, will more than likely take it for granted that they're exercising a privilege that Williams lost twenty-three years ago. This reality of prison life and, more specifically, life on death row, doesn't get much play in the hip hop music that has glorified, be it intentional or unintentional, the gangster lifestyle Williams helped create. Prison is not supposed to be luxurious. Crime should not pay. There is little to debate here. But when the question arises of whether a person who has walked a path of evil for nearly half of his life can really change, the debate gets heated. It is the primary thesis of Redemption and the ongoing life story of Williams' battle against execution. The irony of his increasingly probable day of reckoning is his claim that he is not guilty of the four murders of which he has been sentenced. Now, of course, as the saying goes, everyone in jail is innocent. But Williams isn't claiming sainthood. He is simply saying that he did not commit these four crimes.
According to the January 11, 2004 Los Angeles Times article "Made-for-TV Atonement" by Bob Baker, in 1979 Williams was arrested for two robbery-murder incidents. He was accused of murdering Albert Owens, a 7-Eleven clerk in Whittier, California, as well as Los Angeles motel clerk Yen-I Yang, his wife and their adult daughter. "Lacking eyewitnesses," writes Baker, "prosecutors relied on the testimony of several people who said Williams told them about the crimes – in one case, laughingly describing Owens' last breaths." The sketchiness of Williams' conviction is not why F/X made this film. It is what Williams has done during his time on death row that is most compelling. Since 1996 he has penned nine books against gang violence. Titles such as Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence, Gangs and Wanting to Belong and Life in Prison are the backbone of the curriculum of the Internet Project for Street Peace, which Williams conceived. He also has his own web site, Tookie's Corner. According to some people who work closely with children, Williams' work has stirred countless youths across the globe away from gang violence. His message has been so powerful that he has been nominated for the Nobel Prize seven times – four times for the Peace prize and three times for the Literature prize.
None of this would be possible without journalist/children's advocate Barbara Cottman Becnel. She crossed paths with Williams while working on a story about gang violence for Essence that would also benefit her research for a book on the Crips that she was then writing. Like many others, Becnel, who now runs the Neighborhood House of North Richmond, a grassroots organization in a rough Bay area community, was skeptical of Williams, whom she has now known for eleven years. It took two and a half years to convince her of Williams' redemption. "I didn't know him. I didn't know if he was sincere," says Becnel. "I knew that my name would be associated or affiliated with [the books project] and that it would be my contacts because I was already a published author. I had three books that I had written that were published. I knew that it would be my name and my reputation that would be on the line if I went to a publisher and said that this guy is rehabilitated; he behaves well, doesn't get into trouble now and wants to write these books for kids. And then what if that were not true, and they published it and then we found out he was not and was doing bad things? Then my reputation would be ruined too." Becnel's doubts were warranted. Williams, who came to San Quentin on death row in 1981, spent six years in solitary confinement for allegedly contributing to gang warfare while on the inside. In an exclusive interview with Africana, he says of his personal evolution, "First and foremost, I always tell people that I never experienced an epiphany or anything like that. I had to undergo years and years of soul-searching and edification to battle my inner demons." Those inner demons run deep. The Crips, which he created in 1971 with Raymond Washington, who was murdered in 1979, as protection against other gangs, not yet called The Bloods, has spawned violent spin-offs as far away as Africa. Ultimately one of the major turning points in Becnel's own acceptance of Williams' rehabilitation occurred when he agreed to deliver a taped anti-gang message to a meeting of current gang members that repudiated what he had started. After witnessing the power that Williams commanded and the risks he took Becnel's doubts subsided.
"The other people who came and spoke to those gangbangers that day said the same things but it didn't mean anything when they said them," she says passionately. "The youngsters were talking, not listening. Whereas when Stan said it, you could hear a pin drop in that room. Over 400 gangbangers just went totally silent and they didn't move. I watched them. They were sitting on the edges of their seats. So one – seeing that his words were so powerful, because his voice was so credible; and then combined with him being willing to risk his own life and jeopardize his safety by publicly going against gangs. All of that helped me. That was certainly a pivotal moment for me in deciding that he was, in fact, sincere." The proof, however, is not in the pudding for some. Veteran L.A. street gang investigator Wes McBride who now heads the California Gang Investigators Association writes off Williams' books and gang-renunciation campaign as a cynical con. McBride told the Los Angeles Times that Williams' motivation was simple: He doesn't want to get executed.
Mario Fehr, one of Williams' nominators for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, said at the time, "Everyone can change his life, no matter what mistakes someone has done." But it appears that many Americans, especially journalists do not feel the same. "I have read quite a few newspapers where so-called journalists have said that 'Stanley 'Tookie' Williams is incapable of change and he's irredeemable,'" says Williams. "Now I've never read in any of my spiritual teachings where God or anyone else said that 'Everyone on the planet Earth is capable of redeeming themselves except for Stanley "Tookie" Williams.'" Those attitudes anger Becnel. "There are people who are unwilling to believe in his redemption and they speak about it as if they met him, talked to him, have been able to assess him. How do you know? How can you say, 'He is not redeemed," she asks. "The very people who don't believe in Stan's redemption have a great deal of belief in their own." Is some of the media's assertion against Williams' redemption racially tainted? "There have been articles where they showed a picture of me, it was real dark and the person, the victim who had been killed, he was, like, his picture was almost angelic . . . contrary-wise to the picture they had of me," shares Williams. "It was real dark, menacing-looking, ominous and the contrast was obvious . . . The object is to demonize me because, in that way, it facilitates matters for the courts and the public to accept my execution." Williams' day of execution draws nearer. Any day now the Ninth Circuit Court will decide on his appeal. In 2002, a court ruled against him but did recommend that California reduce his sentence to life in prison. Should he lose that appeal and the Supreme Court decides against hearing his case, Williams could be executed within the coming six to eight months. Until then, he continues his work, which sometimes impacts those directly around him. "You can't save everybody. Not everybody wants to change," he cautions. "Those who are willing to change, of course, I have somewhat of a powerful influence over them in regards to a transition, a redemption and things like that. Then you have those who you don't. Let's face it, neither Mahatma Ghandi nor Malcolm X nor Martin Luther King could get everybody to adhere to their words."
Such realities make his transformation all the more remarkable for some. "It's not easy for an individual to change in here," he says frankly. "I mean, let's face it, there aren't any systems that are geared or designated to help individuals. You have to do it on your own. It's your choice . . . This place had nothing to do with my change. It was my choice and my choice alone." So, ultimately, we, as a society that largely professes a belief in a higher being, have to ask ourselves: Why do so many of us find it unbelievable that even a notorious gangbanger can redeem his past transgressions? Not erase his sins, but truly atone for them.
Matthew Perry Craves Attention
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sean Daly, Special To The Star
(Apr. 12, 2004) LOS ANGELES—While filming a recent segment for the TV newsmagazine Extra at New York's Planet Hollywood, Jesse Palmer, prime time's newest Bachelor, received a most unusual visit from actor Matthew Perry. Without warning, the newly fit and trim Friends star barged into Palmer's interview insisting he had "written a little song" for him. He then began clumsily strumming a ukulele and singing, "He's the Bachelor ... he's got a girl to pick" before wishing the fellow-Canadian "good luck" and returning to his own appearances in support of The Whole Ten Yards. Such goofy behaviour has become more and more common as Perry makes the rounds to promote his latest movie comedy, which follows the continuing adventures of hit-man Jimmy "The Tulip" (Bruce Willis) and mild mannered but paranoid dentist Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky (Perry) from The Whole Nine Yards. During a Los Angeles press junket recently, Perry, 34, rode an elevator at the exclusive St. Regis Hotel, hopping off each time the doors opened to shake hands with surprised guests before quickly disappearing. At one point, he began eating fruit off an unsuspecting visitor's breakfast plate. What else would you expect from a self-professed "class clown" whose goal in life has always been to make people laugh? "Matthew and I just had fun on this movie," Willis shared as the pair faced reporters. "Our goal was just to come in every day to work and try to crack each other up." Today, they had the same mission. There would be no "serious" questions about Perry's recent battles with drugs and alcohol. No talk of his relationships with Jennifer Capriati, Selma Blair or Julia Roberts. And nary a mention of his anticipated engagement to current girlfriend Rachel Dunn. (Although he did reveal in one recent interview, "I'm enjoying having a relationship and don't think I'm ready for the responsibility of children yet because I'm too much of a child myself still.") Perry did come prepared to field queries about the end of his sitcom Friends, which earned him a cool $1.5 million per episode in its 10th season. "It's definitely an adjustment," he shared. "I am unemployed now. It was time for the show to end creatively, but with the people involved, I would have spent another 10 years with them." He would, of course, rather talk about The Whole Ten Yards, which opened Friday and earned just $6.7 million (U.S.) in North America in its first weekend, placing eighth against a weak crop of new films. "One of the things that people seemed to like about this movie was the physical comedy that we all did," the one-time junior tennis champ said. "It was a very painful experience for me. Every day we would shoot a version of a scene where I would fall down or walk into something (including a sequence where Oz puts his head through a plate-glass window.) "Luckily, I learned at an early age how to fall down and not hurt myself because I learned really early that it made girls laugh when I fell down." It seems like Perry also picked up a thing or two about how to deal with the media from his mother, Suzanne Perry, a former Global TV news anchor and press aide for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during the 1970s and 1980s. Perry was born in Williamstown, Mass., but spent most of his childhood in Ottawa. He attended Ashbury College secondary school before moving to Los Angeles to live with his father, actor John Bennett Perry, at age 15. In 1987, Perry's plan to attend the University of Southern California was sidelined when he landed the lead role on the American television series Second Chance. After signing on to play Chandler Bing on Friends in 1994, Perry appeared in a string of mostly forgettable comedies: Fools Rush In, Almost Heroes, Three To Tango. Luckily, none of them required him to film scenes in bed with a fully naked Willis. "Boy, the conversations we had in preparation for that," the Emmy nominated actor laughed, explaining that there he was stripping down for this latest role. So how did Perry avoid having an accidental Janet Jackson-type moment? "I had on what I call `half-Speedos,'" he admits. "And Bruce had a rather odd prosthetic. I named it Vivian." His next project is The Beginning Of Wisdom, a film collaboration with his dad, about a father and son ending their estrangement with the help of a Gypsy. Perry may also shoot an upcoming movie in Australia with Babe director Chris Noonan. "I love it there," he beams. "Sydney is beautiful and everybody is so laid back. You can show up an hour-and-a-half late for dinner and everybody is like, `Oh, that's cool.'" That is, until you start eating from their plates ...
Kevin Bacon Joins 'Beauty Shop' Cast
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 12, 2004) *The “Beauty Shop” may not do pedicures, but everyone will be getting footloose now that Kevin Bacon has joined the cast. Bacon will play the flamboyant hair salon owner in the spin-off of the comedy “Barbershop.” Already on the cast are Queen Latifah, Djimon Hounsou, Mena Suvari, and Alicia Silverstone. (Hmm, are they trying to say that this "Beautyshop" probably won't be in the 'hood?) In other “Barbershop” related news, “Barbershop” director Tim Story will take on the comic book heroes “The Fantastic Four” for a big screen adaptation. No word on the cast who will portray Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, the Thing, and Human Torch, but production is set to begin this summer and the film is expected in hit in 2005.
Michael Rapaport, Andre Harrell Producing New Movie
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(Apr. 12, 2004) Rap veteran Andre Harrell and actor Michael Rapaport have teamed with MTV Films to produce a new movie set in the world of custom car shops. The untitled flick comes on the heels of MTV's success with "Pimp My Ride" and will infuse and integrate Hip-Hop music throughout the entire film. "We are writing the script now and MTV wants to start shooting in the summer," Rapaport told AllHipHop.com. "It's a great opportunity because of the success of 'Pimp My Ride' and the whole car culture that's growing each year." Harrell and Rapaport will produce, while Kim Watson and Alonzo Brown, noted for their work on the movie "Honey," will write the script. "We know that the car trend is incredibly popular with the MTV audience," MTV Films Executive Vice President, David Gale said. "No one has done a film set in this world to date, and I'm confident that the team we've put together will capture the vibe perfectly." The movie will feature cameo appearances by various rappers. No release date was available as of press time.
Much Rides On Movie For Universal, NBC Spinoffs Include TV
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
(Apr. 13, 2004) HOLLYWOOD—Universal Pictures is hoping to bring good things back to life. On the eve of its acquisition by General Electric Co.'s NBC, the studio is counting on the long dormant Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man to deliver a monster hit when Van Helsing is released next month. The dark tale of a monster slayer who takes on the classic trio was launched long before GE expressed interest in Vivendi Universal's U.S. entertainment assets. Now, Van Helsing is shaping up as the first test of NBC's ability to find synergies in the combined operations. The only major broadcaster without a film studio, NBC was drawn to Universal in large part because it wanted to exploit the studio's vast film library. To capitalize on Van Helsing, NBC has teamed up with Universal to develop a pilot for a TV series spinoff called Transylvania. The series, which could premiere on NBC as early as this fall, is among several steps Universal is taking to build a franchise around its characters: The company is also releasing a new DVD collection of the original horror movies, as well as a Van Helsing interactive game, theme park attractions and even gothic-style clothing. "There's so much riding on this movie," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co., the box-office tracking firm. If successful, Van Helsing stands to reap a financial windfall for both Universal and NBC. But with a price tag of about $150 million (all figures U.S.), the effects-laden movie is one of the most expensive in the studio's history — so Van Helsing has a high mark to hit before it can turn a profit. What's more, the movie's performance will be closely watched by NBC's famously thrifty corporate parent.
The industrial giant traditionally had been leery of the hit-and-miss nature of the movie business. For Universal Pictures, Van Helsing is about both the future and the past. The Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and Wolf Man characters, brought to life by Hollywood acting legends Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr., helped build the Universal empire in the 1930s and '40s. "These are the crown jewels of the Universal library," said Universal vice-chairman Marc Shmuger. "They were just sitting on the shelves and a little bit neglected for a long time.'' No more. The monsters are being brought back with a vengeance, which analysts say makes economic sense — so long as Van Helsing makes money. With expectations so high, studio executives have been loath to over-hype the movie, though they have spent $30 million to pump it and bought commercials during the Super Bowl. They have good reason to be cautious. Last summer's big action movie, The Hulk, was a rare misfire for Universal Pictures, which has been one of the few bright spots within Vivendi Universal. The former French utility was forced to sell the studio and its other entertainment assets to NBC to raise cash and slash crippling debts. Universal's recent hits include Bruce Almighty, Seabiscuit and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Other blockbusters were The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, which in total reaped more than $800 million worldwide. And writer-director Stephen Sommers, the force behind those, did the honours for Van Helsing. Studio executives say that is the closest thing to a sure bet. "There are very few filmmakers, if any, that we would entrust the legacy of our monsters to besides Stephen," Shmuger said. "Stephen has delivered for us twice before.'' Added Scott Stuber, vice-chairman of worldwide production at Universal Pictures, "Obviously, this is an extremely important movie. We're confident we've got a terrific film.'' Starring Hugh Jackman, Van Helsing will face little competition when it opens May 7. Universal executives also hope to benefit from the enduring popularity of horror movies, including its own recent hit, Dawn Of The Dead and Freddy vs. Jason by New Line. The movie tells the story of a monster hunter — Van Helsing, a character who appears in Bram Stoker's classic book, Dracula — who is sent by a secret order to vanquish evil.
Three months after he pitched the idea to Universal Pictures chairperson Stacey Snider, Sommers produced a script. It offered a contemporary interpretation of the classic genre and made the monsters more human, more sympathetic. "There are no monsters in this movie, just people with really bad problems," Sommers said. Sommers' vision isn't cheap. The 44-year-old had to use a host of elaborate and costly digital effects to make the monsters believable for teenagers who flock to horror films — and have never heard of Boris Karloff. Nonetheless, the movie's budget, which was originally set at just under $160 million (excluding marketing costs), drew heavy scrutiny. To reduce costs, Sommers gave up his upfront fee and the studio filmed more scenes in Prague, where it is less expensive than filming in Los Angeles. As much as it is steeped in the studio's history, Van Helsing also could play a big role in the whole company's future. The hope is that the movie will create a new franchise, serving as a kind of launch pad for a bevy of horror-themed entertainment across the combined Universal-NBC operation. (The acquisition is expected to be final by June.) "These characters have such a rich cultural history," Shmuger said. "There are so many opportunities that present themselves for how we can extend (them) across so many other businesses." Of course, it all depends on how well Van Helsing does at the box office.
Hill Harper Bags Anotha One
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 13, 2004) *Hill Harper, one of the industries hottest young and purely talented actors on the rise, was recently cast to star in "CSI: NY" which will premiere this fall on CBS. He recently finished production on "Lackawanna Blues" for HBO. Harper also has two independent films screening in various festivals. "America Brown" is screening at the Tribeca Film Festival and "Love, Sex and Eating the Bones" has screened Toronto and several others. Harper graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with a J.D. (cum laude) from Harvard Law School, as well as with a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government.
The Talented Mr. Ealy
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 13, 2004) It seems amazing that there truly is an actor out there who possesses a certain je ne sais quois, that invites people take note and say, "hey he's got something." His name is Michael Ealy, and rest assured he is definitely one to watch. Aside from the obvious, Ealy has two things that command attention: personality and indisputable talent. Steadfast in proving that he's not just another box office chocolate, let it be known that Mr. Ealy is quite the charmer, but charm isn't the secret to his success. It is his savvy savior faire, and mastery of the theatrical arts that makes him the fascinating prototype to the masses. A true actor's actor on paper, in person he is quite the Mr. Modest whose intelligence, charm, talent and wit are a nice break from the monotonous 'don't you know who I am' persona that pervades the entertainment industry The Robertson Treatment sat down with the talented Mr. Ealy to discuss his plight to super-stardom, the perils of being 'eye-candy,' and of course his latest film "Never Die Alone."
RT: Mike, did you get a chance to read the book before you did the movie?
ME: Yeah, I actually read the book before I went in for the audition.
RT: What did you think about Donald Goines's work?
ME: What I liked about Goines was that he doesn't take you on a metaphorical, grammatical or symbolical journey. There is nothing magical about what he was writing except the writing itself. His writing style was very simple, and he lets the story do the work; the dilemma, the tension, the characters are so vivid in the book that you just kind of can't put it down.
RT: I know.
ME: I think I read it in six hours.
RT: It's a real page turner.
ME: I got a lot of respect for him.
RT: His work is deep. Let's talk about your character, do you think that he could've been a little more raw in the film?
ME: More raw in what sense?
RT: I don't know ... a little more angry.
ME: Not so much. I think with the adaptation you see a lot of Mike not saying much cause he's by himself just in pursuit of Moon so I think the anger is there, but it's more of a rage. Once he's forced to go on this mission to avenge his sister's death it's there. I'd rather let my body be the vehicle as opposed to saying everything that I was thinking.
TV Is Less Than Prime This Time
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem
(Apr. 12, 2004) Boomtown went bust. They killed off Karen Sisco. Last week, Wonderfalls was dammed and left dry. Now we hear that the futuristic Century City will not live to see another episode, let alone another era. Meanwhile, in their place, we've got the helmet-haired relic Donald Trump suddenly dominating the dial, and Newlyweds Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey trying to resurrect Sonny & Cher-style variety, and Miss USA contestants jiggling and giggling and barfing up bovine intestine on a Very Special Episode of Fear Factor ... So much for prime-time American network television. And it can only get worse. Hell, it already is worse. Innovation has become anathema. We have seen the future, and it's all about the familiar and the formulaic: a third CSI, a fourth Law & Order, about a zillion identical domestic sitcoms about doofus dads with sarcastic hottie wives and as much so-called "reality" as we are willing to watch (and a saturation tolerance level has yet to be determined, if indeed one exists). Forget about "finding an audience" — there just isn't time. If you're not doing Friends numbers right out of the box, you're not going to last long enough to accumulate the episodes for a decent DVD retrospective release. Used to be, 100 episodes was the magic number to shoot for, to accommodate five-night-a-week strip syndication. Now, you're lucky to get through "the front nine" of a typically 23-episode network season. In the States, cable television has become the last bastion of cutting-edge quality scripted drama and comedy — though that line has been blurred somewhat up here in Canada, where many of those same shows (The Sopranos, Monk, The Shield, Nip/Tuck) also air on free TV. Indeed now, more than ever before, that pop-culture pipeline has begun to flow in the opposite direction — this is the week our own Trailer Park Boys make their official U.S. debut, taking over The Office's old slot on BBC America. This, having already successfully exported the two Greens, Tom and Red (the former, however briefly, an MTV staple, the latter an enduring PBS fundraiser), Kenny Vs. Spenny, Due South and the darkly hilarious Made In Canada (where it airs, on the U.S. version of Bravo, under the more generic title, The Industry). All of which is only fair, given the current state of imported production — the real human tragedy of the premature cancellation of the clever, quirky, Ontario-based Wonderfalls (and, before that, the WB's admittedly less-deserving, Toronto-shot Tarzan) is the local talent, behind and in front of the camera, now back pounding on the pavement, looking for work. It's almost enough to make one thankful for the syndicated success of the locally filmed Mutant X. Almost. The fact is, though it would never occur to them, American television now needs us more than we have ever needed them. I've had a peek at the network development slate for the coming season, and it is essentially more (which is to say less) of the same. One can scarcely imagine the depths to which we'll likely sink from there. But let's try, shall we? The real critical situation, of course, is situation comedy. Friends and Frasier will be gone, with Raymond likely leaving not long behind them. The Wonderfalls-killing Fox (also Action, The Tick, Futurama, Firefly ...) seems, for the moment, to still be supporting its innovative sitcom, Arrested Development, and indeed has already cloned it, as the remarkably unfunny Cracking Up. Aside from that, though, it's pretty much Will & Grace, and endless variations on King Of Queens (or is that According To Jim?). That, and the much talk-about Friends spin-off, Joey, co-starring Matt Leblanc and Soprano Drea DeMatteo — not so much for its efforts to milk yet another entire series out of the popular retiring hit, but for, in doing so, concurrently creating an entire new programming trend, the pilfering of bankable cable talent to prop up creatively bankrupt network series. Ditto the recent announcement that cable staple Gary Sinese will be lending his credibility to the latest, New York-based spin-off of the lucrative CSI franchise. This following the cross-promotional cameo of Bravo's Queer Eye guys on the existing CSI: Miami. Which is, I think, the real wave of the future — crossing over reality stars to scripted comedy and drama. I mean, how long can the corporately connected NBC and Bravo resist combining their two biggest hits into one, big, Queer Eye-infused Will & Grace & Carson & Thom & Ted & Kyan & Jai? If not, I'm sure CBS would be happy to expand the cast of its often-imitated King Of Queens — the Queens Of Queens! Brilliant! Throw in some ever-popular intestine eating, and you've got reality's latest sensation, Queer Factor. Or take party girl Paris Hilton (please!), of Simple Life and amateur porn fame, parlaying that and a Saturday Night Live cameo into a lucrative secondary guesting career on shows like The O.C. and Las Vegas. Which means we can now likely look forward to seeing American Idol irritant Simon Cowell, fresh off his own, obligatory SNL appearance, time-travelling back to challenge Dick Clark on a retro episode of American Dreams, or more hopefully, showing up on the next Nick and Jessica variety special, decrying the couple's combined lack of talent. But there's one reality/fantasy crossover that I would pay real money to see: Donald Trump telling a boardroom of network executives, "You're fired!"
Mo'nique Gets Royal
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 7, 2004) *Our favorite juicy mama will bring "Queen For a Day" into the new millennium. Mo'Nique will host the Lifetime Special, set to air on Thursday, May 27 at 8pm. "Queen for a Day' is based on the legendary series from the 50's and 60's, but the LIFETIME show takes the television classic to a new level. In this fun and light-hearted version, producers will sweep the nation, holding open auditions at which nominators will have the opportunity to convince the panel that their mother, sister, friend, co-worker, among others, should be "Queen for a Day." The original daytime series, hosted by Jack Bailey, aired from 1956-65 on NBC and later on ABC. The program's central theme was taking a woman who experienced misfortune and giving her a wealth of riches, transforming her into a "Queen for a Day." Mo'Nique will be seen in the upcoming movies "Beauty Shop," "Soul Plane" and "Garfield: The Movie."
America’s First Black Gay Series Is Set To Debut In Summer 2004
Source: Jasmyne Cannick / firstname.lastname@example.org
(Apr. 13, 2004) LOS ANGELES, CA - PUNKS (2001, executive produced by Tracy Edmonds and husband Babyface) writer, director and producer Patrik-Ian Polk has begun production on a new series entitled NOAH’S ARC. Described as Sex and the City meets Queer As Folk and together crashing into Soul Food, NOAH’S ARC is a cool, hip, fresh and fun peak into the lives of four black gay men living in Los Angeles. With this latest project, Polk is out to set the record straight (so to speak) that not all gay people are white. The first season of Noah's Arc will be available for purchase beginning Tuesday, June 22, 2004. “After the recent boom in gay television with Queer Eye, Boy Meets Boy, Will and Grace, Queer As Folk, I really noticed the complete unwillingness of producers to feature positive black gay and lesbian characters in television and film. So, rather than sitting around feeling bitter and neglected, I decided to create a platform for these stories to be told,” commented Polk regarding his latest endeavor. Noah, Alex, Ricky and Chance are a quartet of closely knit friends living life in Los Angeles. Noah (Darryl Stephens) is a struggling screenwriter embarking on a new love affair with newly out and much more successful screenwriter, Wade (Jensen Atwood). HIV/AIDS counselor Alex (Rodney Chester) always keep it real with his clients but struggles to do the same with his hunky lover. Ricky (Christian Vincent) owns a trendy and hip clothing store on Melrose and is the playboy of the group, while college professor Chance (Doug Spearman) has recently married and adopted his partner’s three year old daughter less than a year after first meeting. Full of humor, excitement and insight, NOAH’S ARC gives today’s black gay community a voice. The NOAH’S ARC series will debut in the summer of 2004 on DVD. NOAH’S ARC will also serve as the launching pad for several up and coming music artists. Written, directed and executive produced by Patrik-Ian Polk, NOAH’S ARC is produced by Carol Ann Shine and Jasmyne Cannick. NOAH’S ARC stars Darryl Stephens, Jensen Atwood, Rodney Chester, Doug Spearman and Christian Vincent. For more information please visit www.noahsarc.net.
Seven Series Survive At Ailling ABC
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Cynthia Littleton, Special To The Star and Hollywood Reporter
(Apr. 14, 2004) LOS ANGELES — ABC, the struggling network undergoing an upheaval in its executive suites, has announced it wants another full season of seven series, including freshman comedy Hope & Faith and reality hit Extreme Makeover as well as its offspring, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The network announced the early pickups for the 2004-05 season in part to allow each of the shows to firm up their production teams, according to ABC Entertainment president Susan Lyne. "It's always good to go into May with everyone optimistic and knowing that the shows are coming back," Lyne said. ABC has had a rocky season, but Hope & Faith, starring Faith Ford and Kelly Ripa, has been a standout among the network's freshman class of series. Three other sitcoms earning renewals — According To Jim, starring Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith; My Wife And Kids, starring Damon Wayans; and George Lopez — remain competitive for ABC on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively, though ABC's Tuesday and Wednesday comedy blocks have taken a hit since the return of Fox's American Idol in January. Sunday stalwart America's Funniest Home Videos, on the air since 1990, rounded out renewals announced late Monday. Lyne obliquely acknowledged the behind-the-scenes turmoil fuelled by last week's departure of ABC Entertainment chairman Lloyd Braun. "Particularly at a moment like this, it's good to show a little love" to producers of the network's key shows, she said. ABC had previously announced its renewal of veteran cop drama NYPD Blue for a 12th and final season. Lyne stressed that a handful of other ABC shows are poised for full-season renewals in the coming weeks. The network is certain to bring back The Bachelor, and sources say it's a safe bet that sitcom 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter will be back for season three. 8 Simple Rules faced an uphill climb from the outset this season when star John Ritter died in September. The network has had an unsuccessful year in terms of drawing an audience; last week it was in fourth, despite winning Sunday night thanks to a Nick Lachey-Jessica Simpson variety special.
Canadians Make Up A
Third Of The Company Of Musical Bombay Dreams
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian
(Apr. 11, 2004) For 11 lucky Canadian performers, Bombay Dreams have become reality. The spectacular Bollywood musical now in previews at the Broadway Theatre, prior to an April 29 opening, is unique in several ways. Not only is it the first time the popular marriage of India's music and old-fashioned Hollywood glitz has shown up on America's stages, but at no time before has such a high percentage of cast members (11 out of 33) in a Broadway musical been Canadian talent. It sounds a kind of bittersweet note, because Bombay Dreams was originally going to begin in Toronto as a Mirvish production and then make the journey down to New York. As originally reported by the Star's Martin Knelman, the production was rumoured to be opening at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in North York, which would have proved a magnet to the large South Asian *population of the area and could have offered an exciting new lease on life to the venue that had often stood empty since the demise of Livent in 1999. Those hopes were dashed when David Mirvish pulled out of the project last July, citing professional and personal overload, but production reins were caught by another Canadian. Rock promoter Michael Cohl, best known for his work with the Rolling Stones tour, joined the New York producers Waxman Williams Entertainment and — through his company TGA — put up half of the show's reported $20 million (U.S.) budget. This team, however, decided to forgo the Toronto tryout and open the musical directly in New York, after a month of previews. But what Broadway audiences are now witnessing is somewhat different from what their counterparts across the Atlantic first saw two years ago. The original version of the show opened in London's West End in June of 2002, produced by mega-musical titan Andrew Lloyd Webber. Despite mixed reviews, it became a hit thanks to the considerable Indian population of London and the widespread appeal of the music by A R Rahman. The novelty of the Bollywood genre, in which love stories of an almost fairytale simplicity play out against flamboyant sets and costumes in a series of spectacular musical numbers, obviously made an initial impact on the British public. The show paid off its costs within a few months, but then audiences began falling off and it has recently posted its closing notice. Obviously its appeal, though initially intense, wasn't as deep rooted as might have been expected. This led the American producing team to feel that substantial changes had to be made for the Broadway version. Everyone's favourite musical comedy Geppetto, Thomas Meehan, came in to re-cobble the book — just like he had done on The Producers and Hairspray — while lyricist David Yazbeck (The Full Monty) joined on to help "Americanize" the lyrics. According to reliable reports, what they have done is to add a sort of framing device to the whole show, which explains the conventions of the Bollywood format to what might have been a clueless New York crowd. An added bonus for the American production is the presence of Madhur Jaffrey in the cast. Not only is the veteran actress popular on this side of the Atlantic for her appearances in films like Shakespeare Wallah and TV series like EastEnders, she is probably the person most responsible for making Indian cuisine popular in North America through her series of award-winning cookbooks (most notably An Invitation To Indian Cooking). But most of the rest of the company are bright young newcomers, making their Broadway debuts. And that's where our 11 Canadians come into the picture. I caught up with them last week just prior to an evening preview performance of the show, and their excitement was palpable. Clowning around on the grand lobby staircase of the Broadway theatre for our photographer, they seemed less like seasoned veterans and more like the excited young artists they are:
SHANE BLAND — Born in Edmonton, he left home when he was 16 to appear in Man Of La Mancha at the Royal Alex. Since then, his credits have included three years on the road with ShowBoat and two years with The Lion King in Toronto.
"This is the first time I've been in a mega-musical from the ground up, and I love it! So many times, all you hear is, `Here's what the guy before you did; do it the same way.' The creative team are all so generous and free. It's been an eerily calm atmosphere. Must be all of us easygoing Canadians."
GABRIEL BURRAFATO — Born in Argentina, raised in North York, his numerous credits include a season each at Shaw and Stratford, lots of regional theatre work and the dubious distinction of appearing as a dancing football player in Molly Shannon's film Superstar.
"I've come down to New York to audition many times before this show and was never able to break in until now. They really put me through the wringer — called me back four, five times — but now that I'm here, I couldn't be happier. We've been too busy to do much Canadian bonding so far, but after we open, watch out! We'll have Hockey Night on Broadway, wait and see."
KRYSTAL KIRAN GARIB — She began dancing at age 3 in Penticton, B.C., where she was born and raised. Most of her experience has been at the Pacific National Exhibition in shows like Zydeco Jam, but in 2002 she began exploring her heritage and studying Indian dance, a path that led her to this production.
"For someone as young and inexperienced as me, this is utterly amazing. To go from Penticton to Vancouver to Broadway is a series of leaps that have astonished me. All I know is that I'm working with the best of the best and I keep striving to reach their level. It's an overwhelming experience, but I'm hanging in there."
TANIA MARIE HAKKIM — Life has moved in a fairly small circle until now for this young woman who was born and raised in Whitby, then finished her education in Toronto. Her only other professional credit to date has been the Toronto production of The Lion King.
"I'm part of the original cast of something. That's the most exciting part for me. You get to work with the original creative team and see how they're thinking and feeling about things. They make changes and you're part of those changes. The positive energy is so intense. Everybody wants it to succeed. My advice? Come and be entertained. It's a beautiful spectacle for everyone."
MARVIN ISHMAEL — One of the leading figures of the Toronto theatre community for 23 years, Ishamel is largely known locally for his exploration of the Caribbean side of his background. Born in Trinidad to a Hindu mother and Muslim father, his stage work in Canada as actor, playwright and director has earned him Dora and Chalmers awards. He has also worked frequently in film and on TV.
"It's satisfying to be working in the place that North Americans consider the pinnacle of theatre. It's refreshing to have me showcase a part of my heritage that I haven't pushed that much in the past. I'm also pleased that finally we have a major musical dealing with issues that affect us as a people. And it treats it all with respect, not as a tourist thing."
SURESH JOHN — Originally from Willowdale, he was educated at Upper Canada College and Queen's University. His eclectic career on stage and screen has included everything from Guys And Dolls to Bulletproof Monk. He was rehearsing for Jacob Two-Two at Toronto's Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People when he was called to audition in New York and got cast immediately.
"I've never done a show like this anywhere. I never thought I would be dancing around on a Broadway stage and people would be paying over $100 for the privilege of seeing me do my thing. I'm not into New York. I'm into New Jersey. I flew into Jersey for my audition and sang a song by Bon Jovi, who's from Jersey, and now I'm living in Jersey. Crazy."
IAN JUTSUN — Raised in Milton, he has lived in Toronto since 1992. Since then, he has made his living largely as a wedding singer, and, in fact, it was at a wedding that casting director Stephanie Gorin first discovered him and got him to audition for the show.
"It's funny, but I've sung in French, Italian, Greek — you name it — but until now, I've never performed in Hindi. My major joy is working with AR Rahman. He's a huge factor in world music. To hear him sing has touched me deeply and changed me as a performer. That's what I'm never going to forget."
ZAHF PAROO — Born in Vernon, B.C., and educated in Calgary, he later moved to Vancouver and has played the comedy card for most of his career, working in featured and principal roles in a wide assortment of films that range from A Guy Thing to Scooby-Doo 2.
"At the last minute, they decided to have auditions in Vancouver and I got in. It's still so unreal to me. I went in to a workshop that one of my old teachers was running here and everybody applauded me because I was working on Broadway. It's been so much work but don't worry, we're just starting to play now."
DANNY PATHAN — This Brampton guy was educated in Mississauga, performed in shows for Disney, Universal and on an assortment of cruise lines before finally settling in Bolton, where he runs a dance studio with his wife that has more than 300 students. Not only is he in the ensemble of the show, but he's understudying the male lead, Akaash.
"My wife read about the casting call on the Internet and told me I had to go for it. All of my students are going to take buses down to see the show. The word incredible doesn't begin to describe how I feel. When I was sitting backstage before the first preview, I heard the music start playing and it suddenly all became so real to me. And to have so many fellow Canadians with me is a treat."
KAFI PIERRE — Born in Mt. Sinai Hospital and raised in Scarborough, her credits include everything from Sharon, Lois and Bram's Elephant Show on CBC-TV to performing with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, not to mention the near-obligatory stint with The Lion King.
"I'm proud to be a part of a show that celebrates this particular culture, which is one that's had its problems in the United States lately. I think this is a beautiful story that cuts across all generations and all cultural lines. It's also great to be part of something new and fresh that no one has done before."
LISA STEVENS — Originally from Vancouver, she has spent a lot of her time in London, where she was part of the original casts of both Chicago and Bombay Dreams. In Canada, she has been seen on Bravo! in The Swinging Nutcracker and won a Jesse Award for her choreography of the Vancouver production of Fiddler On The Roof. She's also the assistant choreographer of the Broadway version of Bombay Dreams.
"The show has changed a lot from London. The book is a lot more compact, but the dance numbers are far more elaborate and lavish. I'm very excited by the whole experience. And it's a real surprise and delight that we have so many of my fellow Canucks in the cast. You know what? There's a lot of good talent in Canada." We've known that for a long time, and Broadway has been discovering it as well. But Bombay Dreams may go down in musical comedy history books as the Flying Wedge of the Canadian Invasion. Here's hoping that everyone's dreams — Bombay and otherwise — come true on April 29.
Producer Gave Anne Her Songs
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(Apr. 14, 2004) The man who gave voice to this country's most beloved heroine is no longer with us. Norman Campbell, the composer of the musical version of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne Of Green Gables, died in Toronto on Monday of a massive stroke. He was 80. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Mr. Campbell not only wrote the most popular stage show in Canadian history but also carved out a career as the country's most influential and acclaimed television interpreter of the performing arts. "He was the most talented arts producer in Canada," is how Sid Adilman, former entertainment columnist of the Star, remembers him. Mr. Campbell was responsible for bringing 28 ballets, 15 operas and 13 productions from the Stratford Festival to the television screen. He also directed dozens of episodes of All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was producer/director of numerous American network specials that starred everyone from Frank Sinatra to Diana Ross. For his efforts, he received two Emmys, a Gemini, the Prix René Barthélemy and the Orders of Canada and Ontario. But it's as the man who found the music to bring a redheaded girl from Avonlea to life that he will probably best be remembered. Anne Of Green Gables, the musical, premiered at Prince Edward Island's Charlottetown Festival on July 27, 1965. It was an instant success and has remained so ever since.
Written in collaboration with Don Harron, Mavor Moore and Mr. Campbell's wife of 54 years, Elaine, the musical's touchingly melodic score has won friends not only throughout Canada but around the world. The man responsible for it was born in Los Angeles in 1924. He attended the University of British Columbia to study math and physics and after graduation joined the Meteorological Service of Canada, which first posted him to Fort Nelson, B.C., and then to Sable Island, N.S. While there, he began indulging his love of music by writing songs; on the train back to Vancouver in 1946, he met Moore, a CBC producer, and gave him one of his first completed compositions, "Summer Romance." Moore got it onto CBC Radio, where it became the theme song of the immensely popular CBC-TV variety show The Juliette Show. Mr. Campbell quit meteorology and never looked back. By 1948, he was working as a junior producer for CBC Radio, but when Canadian TV started in earnest in 1952, he moved to Toronto to be a part of it with his wife, the former Elaine Leiterman. On Sept. 8 of that year, at 7:15 p.m., Mr. Campbell produced the first show ever seen on CBC-TV, a 15-minute potpourri called Let's See. The initial episode featured Percy Saltzman, the CBC's first weatherman, as well as Toronto mayor Alan Lamport and two battling puppets. "From there on," he once quipped, "both Canadian television and I had nowhere to go but up." The next day, Mr. Campbell struck up a friendship with a young comedian named Don Harron, who was performing as a Parry Sound farmer named Charlie Farquharson. He often claimed that what drew Harron to him was the Sable Island sweater he was wearing, which Harron promptly appropriated for Charlie and never returned. "That's absolutely true," said Harron yesterday. "Norman and I had a kind of cultural marriage for 52 years — it was far more successful than all my other marriages — and we never said an unkind word to each other. He was a genius." As the years went on, Mr. Campbell proved one of the most talented and innovative of television craftsmen. He tackled everything from comedy to grand opera and made it all succeed. Although he frequently worked in the United States and was much in demand, he always returned to Canada. "Why would I ever leave here?" he told the Star in 2000. "This country has given me family, friends and marvellous opportunities. Everything and everyone I love is right here." Mr. Campbell is survived by his wife Elaine and his five children: Robin, Melissa, Geoffrey, Justine and Nick. There will be a celebration of Norman Campbell and his life at the Inn on the Park, at Leslie and Eglinton E., Friday at 11 a.m.
The Mailman To Deliver The BBQ Goods
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 14, 2004) *Los Angeles Lakers star Karl Malone and his sports agent, Dwight Manley, are partners in Kill Devils Frozen Custard & Beach Fries, under construction at the Promenade Mall in Temecula, CA. "What the heck is a 'Kill Devil,'" you're probably mumbling to yourself. The restaurant is named for the Kill Devil Hills area on North Carolina's Outer Banks. It specializes in North Carolina barbecue, of which Malone is a fan. "Karl's really into it," said Chris Caves, another of Malone's partners. Caves said Malone plans to attend the restaurant's May opening.
Racism: An Old Tool Gets New Results
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail –By David Arnot
(Apr. 9, 2004) A new United Nations report is taking Canadians back to basics in reminding us that one of the most potent tools in fighting racism is already at our fingertips, if we just have the good sense to use it. The special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Doudou Diene, visited Canada in the fall. In his recently released report to the UN Economic and Social Council, he says that despite feelings of "persistent discrimination" in many groups in Canada, there is a "readiness in the country to innovate, especially with regard to the implementation and elaboration of treaties with aboriginal communities." Mr. Diene recommends launching a national program to fight racism, going beyond Canada's existing legal strategy of dealing with the constitutional, legislative, judicial and administrative dimensions of racism, to introduce - on an urgent basis - an intellectual strategy to reverse racism. What he means is promoting improved understanding between Canada's various cultural and ethnic communities using education programs that build understanding and mutual awareness among various communities.
The report is both simple and elegant in reminding us that education that encourages multicultural understanding is fundamental to eradicating the evil of racism. However, it is such a straightforward conclusion that the report's recommendation risks being dismissed as superficial - except for one important piece of supporting evidence. The role of education in battling racism is being tested in Saskatchewan right now. It is beginning to deliver real and sustainable results, building bridges between first nations and non-first nations communities. The UN report notes that "the question of the observance of treaties, by which the aboriginal communities set such store, has been dealt with in Saskatchewan through an educational program ..... [that] takes due account of the rights of aboriginals and of their sensitivities." The report draws specific attention to the involvement of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) in developing educational resources such as the innovative "Teaching Treaties in the Classroom" kit now being distributed to schools across Saskatchewan, and the related in-service training to ensure teachers are comfortable using the material. The UN report concludes of this educational initiative: "The commissioner's mandate is implemented through an original approach, which reaches beyond mere application of the law and seeks to achieve understanding between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples by teaching the public about the significance of treaties."
What the UN report found, and what the OTC fervently believes - and is demonstrating - is that when it comes to combating racism, education works. By focusing on education about the treaty relationship, we are demonstrating that we are all treaty people, we are all parties to treaties and that all people - first nations and non-first nations alike - have a vested interest in treaties. The UN report has simply reinforced how powerful a tool contemporary education programs can be in building the kind of public understanding that will ultimately root out racism. In the Saskatchewan example, an expanding and increasingly influential first-nations population is a fact of life. The youngest and fastest-growing segment of the province's population is first nations, and in less than 50 years, by 2045, first-nations people will make up 32 per cent of Saskatchewan's population. There is a pressing need for racial harmony in Saskatchewan, and from that need is emerging an educational model that builds racial harmony. In order to have that harmony, respect is needed. In order to have respect, understanding is required. In order to achieve understanding, you need knowledge. In order to capture knowledge, you need education. As the UN report reminds us, education becomes the real foundation, the real facilitator, of social harmony. So as every school in Saskatchewan receives its "Teaching Treaties in the Classroom" kit, and as teachers across Saskatchewan are trained in how to bring treaties to life for students, we are not just talking about treaties. We are putting in place the educational foundation - a made-in-Saskatchewan model - that will provide the type of community understanding to eventually eradicate racism. That education-based process means that in classrooms and town halls across Saskatchewan, we're talking, we're listening, we're exploring, we're working together to build common understanding. That creates an environment where understanding and co-operation can triumph over confrontation. That is an investment that pays off. When it recommends an urgent need for an intellectual strategy, that is the educational investment the UN is advocating, that is the road to understanding that Canada is seeking.
Susan L. Taylor -- Following Her Spirit
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Deardra Shuler
(Apr. 8, 2004) One doesn’t think ESSENCE magazine, without thinking Susan L. Taylor. For 19 years, Ms. Taylor served as Editor-in-Chief (1981-2000) before moving to her current position as Editorial Director. Without a doubt, Taylor, has been the driving force behind ESSENCE and has dedicated the majority of her lifetime to making the magazine what it is today. Born on 116th Street and Park Avenue, Taylor, is the product of four generations of business entrepreneurs. “My great grandmother, Susan Braithwaite, who I am named after, was born in Barbados. She got married in 1884 and as a very young wife and mother, moved to Trinidad, where she began a soda business. My grandmother was also an entrepreneur. She had a tailor shop in Harlem and then my family expanded into the liquor business. My father and mother started, what I suspect, was the first black-owned women’s boutique in East Harlem in the 1930’s. My parents had the boutique until the 1960’s. I started off in fashion, as a child working in my parent’s boutique,” recalled Susan. Taylor began her career after high school as an actress and then decided to create a cosmetics and natural skin-care product company in the 1970s. It was her Nequai line of cosmetics that came to the attention of ESSENCE editors, who recruited Taylor to write about beauty. She then went on to become the magazine’s beauty editor a year later and eventually included fashion as part of her responsibility as editor. She ultimately became Editor-in-Chief. “As I think of it now, I have been at ESSENCE magazine much of my life. I started at 24 years of age and now I am 58,” said the ageless Editorial Director, whose considerable business aplomb has made ESSENCE the largest and most influential magazine for Black women in the world today.
A spiritual person, Taylor, has been writing her monthly column, In the Spirit for 23 years. “I write about spirituality because I believe that until we come to know our individual power, we are not going to know we have the power to create happiness in our lives and help change the lives of others.” Taylor offered that help recently through a mentoring program initiated by Glenda Hatchett on her popular Judge Hatchett Show. The Mentoring Program was established to offer hope and positive alternatives to troubled youth. “Mentoring was really an extraordinary experience,” claimed Taylor. “I spoke to Dee Miller, the youth, who I mentored, quite recently, and she has turned her life around. Dee had given birth at 16, smoked marijuana, and just stopped going to school. I showed her where I grew up. She didn’t know who I was when she first met me. I brought her down to ESSENCE and Dee was blown away when she saw the ESSENCE sign. It just so happened, the entertainer Monique, was there that day. Dee had an opportunity to speak with her. I also had some young students from Fordham University speak with her. What Dee saw that day, were the possibilities available to her. She saw she could either remain stuck where she was or turn her life into something positive for herself and her child.” Taylor has many projects on her plate. “I am working with Danny Glover via the Shared Interest Project. It is an organization founded in New York that raises money to secure loans in South Africa for very poor people who need a couple of thousand dollars to get their businesses launched. It’s a commercial enterprise that helps people build houses and businesses. The banks in South Africa won’t give loans to poor black South African people. So what the Shared Interest Project does is secure those loans. We raise the money in the U.S.; send the money to the banks in South Africa to hold that money as collateral, and they in turn, lend money to the poor black South Africans who want to start businesses. And, I am proud to say, that not one of those people has defaulted on their loan,” stated the soft-spoken humanitarian. A graduate of Fordham University, Taylor has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Spelman and Bennett Colleges, Delaware State and Fisk Universities and from the nation’s first African American college, Lincoln University. The energetic editor functions as executive producer of the annually televised Essence Awards, and she also serves in the same capacity for the annual Essence Music Festival, held during the Fourth of July holiday each year in New Orleans. As a member of the board of directors, Taylor is involved in the magazines many diversified ventures, including Essence Entertainment, Essence Eyewear and hosiery and Essence Books. She is herself, the author of three books: “In the Spirit;” “The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor, Lessons in Living and Confirmation”; and “The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped our Lives,” a book she co-authored with her husband, Khephra Burns. Ms. Taylor is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, The American Society of Magazine Editors and Women in Communication. She is associated with the Commission on Research in Black Education, a Commission that stimulates research and policy to improve education for people of African ancestry. She is the winner of numerous citations and awards, including becoming the first African-American woman, in 1999, to be a recipient of the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, the highest award awarded to a publishing professional by the Magazine Publishers of America. ““I am grateful for my life but there is so much to do, I am hardly satisfied,” offers the wife, mother and grandmother. “In fact, I am very dissatisfied with what we are doing as a nation and as a community. I encourage people to get involved in their community. When we uplift women, we uplift the community. When women don’t have what they need to be self-supporting, everything falls apart. There was a time when African Americans stayed together and really raised their families. At the turn of the century around the early 1900s, 90% of black children were born into black households as opposed to a far less number today. I think we have to find that thing in ourselves that we love, so that we can find that degree of happiness that allows us to make a difference in our life and in the lives of others. It’s important. I know I won’t be satisfied until we all get involved in the uplifting of ourselves, our families and our communities.”
Essence Launches 'Suede'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 8, 2004) *Essence has come up with a name for their new magazine that we're guessing they figured represents the young crowd they'll be serving. Essence's "Suede" magazine will cater to the young women interested in fashion and beauty. The title, helmed by Canadian import Suzanne Boyd, plans for two issues of the new magazine to hit this fall, according to the New York Post. "Suede" will replace the working title "That." The mag is jointly owned by Essence Communications co-founder Ed Lewis and Time Inc. - which has a 49 percent stake. An inside source familiar with the project said the title Suede, worked in several ways - it implied "different shades of brown skin" as well as a fashionable fabric. In focus groups, readers felt it had a "certain street vibe." A spokeswoman for Essence confirmed the name, but no other details.
Two Canadians Nominated For Sci-Fi Hugo Award
Source: Canadian Press
(Apr. 12, 2004) Canadian writers Robert J. Sawyer and Robert Charles Wilson are among nominees for the 2004 best novel Hugo Award, the international science-fiction prize. Sawyer, 43, of Mississauga, Ont., last year's Hugo winner, is up for his novel Humans, the second volume of his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. Wilson, 50, of Concord, Ont., is nominated for Blind Lake. Both Sawyer and Wilson are published by Tor Books. The other nominees in the novel category are Americans Lois McMaster Bujold (Paladin of Souls) and Dan Simmons (Ilium), and Charles Stross (Singularity Sky) of Scotland. Other categories up for Hugo awards (http://worldcon.org/hugos.html) include novellas, short stories, related books and fan magazines. The winners will be announced Sept. 5 in Boston at the World Science Fiction Convention.
Fringe Magazine From Montreal A Worldwide Publishing Marvel
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Christopher Hutsul, Entertainment Reporter
(Apr. 13, 2004) There was a time when U.K. magazine The Face was like a bible to Shane Smith. He and two other "snot-nosed punks" in their early 20s used their welfare cheques to help finance the production of a black and white, Montreal urban culture rag called Vice. Unlike The Face, which was a slick, high-gloss magazine, Vice was printed on cheap newsprint, the kind where the ink rubbed off on your hands. Ten years later, The Face is gone. It was pushed out of the market in March, according to some in the British media, by the U.K. edition of a slick magazine called Vice. And Smith, now 33 and off the dole, has no qualms about his giant-killing tendencies. He's too busy quarterbacking Vice's global expansion from his office in London, Eng. to fret about the casualties of the magazine war.
Smith is overseeing Vice's operations in five countries; the launch of a record label boasting an impressive roster of emerging acts, such as Montreal's The Stills and Chromeo; the production of films and TV shows, including one film that will be directed by revered director Spike Jonze; and publication of Vice books (its first, The Vice Guide To Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll, was a bestseller). Did I mention the retail boutiques in Toronto and New York? In 10 years, Vice has evolved from a Montreal pulp, to a 10-times-a year, big-money, international institution built on a foundation of f--- you cool. Vice has enjoyed unbridled success despite doing its best to offend anyone and everyone with over-the-top editorial content ("The Vice Guide To Rape") and gross-out pictorials (you probably heard about that guy who ate only corn as part of an experiment to find out how long it would take for his excrement to be made up exclusively of, well, corn.) Check it out yourself at http://www.viceland.com. Kevin Bisch of Details Magazine recently wrote, "It's hard to believe that the hottest thing in New York right now comes from Montreal." How hot is it? Well, in 2002 the magazine, which is 50 per cent editorial, 50 per cent ads, was making a profit of $350,000 (U.S.) an issue. Still, Smith, who speaks in a tone that connotes the kind of bulletproof ego you'd expect from a self-made millionaire, is unsatisfied. It irks him that the only place Vice isn't getting its due glory, from both media and advertisers, is in its country of origin. "We're the first Canadian magazine in history to go on the international stage to not only do well, but to kill it," he said. "We're the only magazine in the world today doing TV, film, retail, books, music, online, all this international shit ... American press, Swedish press, French press, Australian press, Japanese press ... they're all going crazy. Who's not going crazy? Canada." Smith was 23 when Gavin McInnes and Suroosh Avi hired him to help launch Vice. Though they were selling some ads, the three young Montrealers had to move into their production office to make the operation feasible. But the hard work was paying off. Vice graduated from newsprint to magazine format in 1998 and was being distributed nationally. The business model was simple and effective. The free magazine was available at independent records and retail shops across the country. By bypassing the rigmarole of newsstand distribution, Vice was able to boast a 100 per cent pick up rate to potential advertisers, who appreciated that their products would be showcased in a magazine located in the store the products were available. In terms of editorial content, the streamlined method of distribution meant that the magazine could go uncensored. Stories, which revolved around a self-destructive, nihilist, skate-rocker aesthetic, grew more raw with each issue. It wasn't long before Vice had secured a major following. Big money investors took interest too.
In 1998, dot-com millionaire Richard Szalwinski bought the magazine, making the Vice guys sudden millionaires. "We went from being dirt poor to millionaires over night," says Smith. "We thought it was great. We bought a big house in Costa Rica ... We were snot-nosed punk kids covered in tattoos who just made millions of dollars." Szalwinski urged Vice's founders to set up shop in New York City and launch an American edition of the magazine. He also opened their eyes to the potential of Vice, not as a just a magazine, but as a major global multimedia brand name. When Szalwinski went bankrupt, Smith, McInnes and Avi scraped up what money hadn't been spent and bought back the company. Szalwinski's financial meltdown was a setback, but the episode had given them the launching pad they needed to take the operation to the next level. Fast forward to 2004 and Smith is overseeing Vice's film division, McInnes is taking care of the TV deals and Avi is managing the record label. Vice employs 45 people worldwide, not counting part-time writers and photographers. "We built this company, three f---ing retards who built this company, who didn't know anything about publishing, anything about music, anything about TV ... We were three punks who knew nothing about s--t. We built this up just from street smarts." Smith is a busy man. His next two months look like this: Starting from his home base in London, he'll go on a two-month business trip consisting of stops at Vice markets in Stockholm, Berlin, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Paris and Milan. From there, Smith visits Tokyo for the launch of Vice's Japanese edition. Then, he's off to Australia for Vice's one-year anniversary party. He'll make a pit stop at the Brooklyn office before travelling to Los Angeles to work on film projects. The schedule, has no Canadian stops. Smith doesn't mind that one bit. "I'd rather be going to Berlin, Paris and Stockholm, than Edmonton and Winnipeg or Fort William," he says. Smith and his Vice co-founders realized a long time ago that if they wanted to dethrone the likes of The Face in the U.K., they'd had to set their sights on places such as Tokyo and Sydney. "To compete with the big boys you have to leave Canada," he says. "But if you do, you get scorned." Smith says he has been "disturbed" by Canada's relationship with Vice since they set up shop in N.Y. He feels Vice's success has gone uncelebrated by mainstream Canadian press and as a result, high profile advertisers have continued to snub the magazine, choosing to place ads in less controversial publications. In the U.S., blue-chip advertisers such as Toyota and Miramax advertise in Vice. "People are always talking about Canadian culture and Canadian this and that ... well if you aren't banging on a drum in Tuktoyaktuk, it's not Canadian culture? We're f---ing Canadian culture ... Because they don't like our salty attitude and because we went to the States, all of a sudden ... there's a backlash against us? "When people go out in the world, Canada cuts them off unless they're comedians or Leonard Cohen or something. What the f--k is that?" Shawn Phelan, neither a comedian nor a poet, is the head of Vice Canada. He's in charge of keeping Vice competitive in the one country in the world where it isn't the hot new thing. Though the magazine has a huge readership in Canada and has maintained its ever-critical 100 per cent pickup rate, who could argue that Vice has the same buzz it did in the early years. Has the novelty worn off? "We've been seeing Vice on the floors of fashion boutiques for a long time now ..." admits Phelan. "It's not the new kid on the block. But everything's got a lifecycle, and I don't think the thrill is gone. I think people know what they're getting, they're familiar with the magazine, and they're familiar with the brand, it doesn't mean they don't look forward to it. People still get excited about Vice."
Less excited are major Canadian advertisers, who've remained hesitant about buying ads in Vice. "We're edgy, we're confrontational, and we're perceived as a risk ..." says Phelan. "The Canadian market is very conservative. We're a free magazine and our lifeblood is advertising. We have to have tons of advertising, and your average Canadian media buyer isn't willing to take risks ... "When (media buyers) see the "Vice Guide To Rape," or the "Vice Guide To Anal Sex," they don't even show it to their clients. (If) your client is a 45-year-old person, it's not for them. Their kid gets it. If you want to sell to trend-setting 20-somethings, nothing comes close to us." Vice's direct competition in Canada are Exclaim and UMM. "In other markets, in Australia and the U.K. in the U.S., and in Japan, we get car ads, we get booze ads, we get movie ads," says Phelan. If there is bad blood between Vice magazine and its country of origin, it certainly isn't reflected in the numbers. Over 175,000 are printed in North America, and virtually all of them are picked up. According to Vice's media package, each copy is read by 6.93 readers on average. A recent Cassandra report, a high-profile American market research firm, named Vice as the No. 1 trendsetter for females 19 to 24 and No. 2 for males 19 to 24 in the magazine industry. Those numbers outshine even the mighty Maxim magazine. But Phelan says those numbers are meaningless if Vice's rise to the international stage leaves its relationship with the Canadian market place in disrepair. "Being successful in Canada is a point of pride for us, because we're all Canadians..." says Phelan. "Yeah, it's great to succeed abroad, but you want to be recognized by your people."
Rodney Jerkins Takes A
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 8, 2004) *The Jerkins-Enriquez nuptials stumbled off with a bang! But there was a rewind that everyone enjoyed. Sunday, April 4, Rodney Jerkins married Latina singer, Joy Enriquez. Following the "I pronounce you's" by Rev. Jim Reeve, the bride stumbled on her train but immediately stopped the procession, corrected herself and pronounced to their 200 guests at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif., "I got to do it again." She sprinted back to the minister's side in her Vera Wang pumps to restart their stroll as husband and wife to the cheers of her new husband as well as the crowd. "It was wonderful," one of the guests and Jerkins's boyhood friend, Mike Tyson told PEOPLE. "I liked the music the best, and I was glad to be a part of this." Jerkins and Enriquez first met when she was 19 and he produced her self-titled first album. "Rodney said, 'I am going to marry you one day. Get the ring,' recalled Enriquez. "When I finished the album, I added in the thank-you notes: 'To Rodney Jerkins, when is the wedding?'" But years passed before the two would even cross paths again. They didn't see each other again until Michael Jackson's 45th birthday bash last September at the Neverland Ranch. He proposed in the wee hours of the morning on Nov. 22, after the two had seen the LA production of "The Producers." They had gone to watch the sun rise in Malibu. "He got down on one knee and told me that he loved me," said Enriquez. "He loved me more than his Grammys. He loved me more than every one of his hit records and asked if I would marry him. And I said I would. We are a big time couple, and God had so much to do with this." Jerkins, 26, and Enriquez, 25, sang their vows to each other accompanied by the 14-piece Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Gospel favorites Bebe Winans and Yolanda Adams also performed. Guests included Tyson, Chris Tucker and Glenn Lewis. Michael Jackson was expected, but he and Janet were recording a duet at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles, according to Jerkins. Jerkins has produced for Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Brandy and Whitney Houston.
Rod Grier Prepares To Sell More Art
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 7, 2004) *People who wish to get in the industry are often discouraged because of the old saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." But for artist Rod Grier, brother of famed starlet Pam Grier, it's a little bit of both. His acclaim has grown since his works were featured in "Kill Bill" Volume One. Grier's work was seen in Vivica Fox's home in the beginning of the movie. With Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill Volume 2" slated to hit theaters Friday, April 16, Grier is anticipating a resurgence of interest in his art. "With the success of the "Kill Bill" films, a broader audience has now been exposed to my work. It is an artist's dream to have his paintings become instant collector items, and I owe it all to Tarantino's vision!"
People Who Made People Are The Savviest People In The World
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Carlson, Special To The Star and Washington Post
(Apr. 10, 2004) James Brown's eyebrows are tattooed on his forehead. John Travolta wears his underwear inside out so the label doesn't scratch his butt. Dr. Ruth is a trained sniper who can assemble a Sten gun while blindfolded. When Paula Abdul was a kid, her babysitter was Michael Bolton. And Angelina Jolie once studied mortuary science. Ah, the facts you can learn reading People magazine's 282-page 30th-anniversary double issue — amazing facts, important facts, the kind of unforgettable facts that stick to your brain permanently until you forget them five minutes later. The people at People have conducted an archaeological excavation, digging through 30 years of back issues to get these facts — and many, many more! — along with countless pictures of celebrities frolicking and celebrities marrying and celebrities having bad hair days. Plus a choice compendium of quotes that celebrities uttered to People reporters over the years.
"I've been fortunate — I haven't had too many auditions," Pamela Anderson said in 2003. "I slept with the right people."
"My idea of heaven," Oprah Winfrey said in 1985, "is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with."
"I know I'm not a dumb blonde," Dolly Parton said in 1992. "I also know I'm not a blonde."
People was a huge success from the moment of its birth in 1974 — its circulation is now 3.6 million — and its popularity spawned North America's fastest-growing social science: celebritology. While anthropologists study the folkways, lifestyles and mating habits of primitive tribes, celebritologists study the folkways, lifestyles and mating habits of celebrities. It's more fun, and besides, primitive tribes don't have press agents. People's editors know more than any pollster about who really interests North Americans. They've learned this by putting out 1,574 issues and studying how many copies each cover subject sold. The best sellers, pictured in this issue, tend to be celebrity weddings and British royals. When I worked at People in the early '80s, I used to argue that Americans weren't interested in Princess Diana. We fought a revolution, I said, so we wouldn't have to pay attention to British royalty. The editors ignored me — a very wise decision that earned millions for the magazine. Thus far, Diana has appeared on the cover a record 85 times. The runners-up aren't even close — Julia Roberts with 18 and Michael Jackson with 14. The worst-selling cover was 2000's "Vietnam Today," a look at the country 25 years after the war. In this issue, People reveals "The Dumbest Decision We Ever Made" — running a cover of Marty Feldman and Ann-Margret the week Elvis died in 1977. "We thought death was too macabre to put on a cover," the editors explain. That gaffe ended those qualms. By the early '80s, the death of any celeb more popular than, say, Mr. Ed became a cover story — a policy that inspired one wag to dub the mag "Dead People." This issue is full of nostalgia, but People's editors are too savvy to simply recycle their greatest hits. Instead, they celebrate their 30th anniversary by asking 30 quick questions of cover girl Jessica Simpson, the delightfully ditzy singer and reality TV star. Of course, People's unidentified interviewer asks Simpson the kind of celebritological questions designed to elicit important information about the folkways, lifestyles and mating habits of the celebrity tribe: Q: Thong or brief? A: Depends on what mood I'm in. Q: Hidden talent? A: I can pick up things with my toes. Q: First thing you do in the morning? A: Pee. And People magazine marches into its fourth glorious decade.
Women Due To Get Queer Eye Makeovers
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Apr. 9, 2004) NEW YORK (AP) — Fashion-challenged women will get their due when a companion to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy arrives on Bravo. Set to debut next year, the distaff spinoff of Bravo's smash series will be set in Los Angeles, where a team of gay stylists will be dispatched to help their female charges look, feel and live better. Just how closely the 13-episode series will mirror the show that inspired it is yet to be determined, but the basic makeover in such problems areas as food and wine, grooming, fashion, interior design and culture will likely be similar. Clearly Bravo's hopes are high that Queer Eye for the Straight Gal will score with viewers in the same way as the original. An unexpected hit when it premiered on the cable network last summer, Queer
Dr. Bill Cosby: Comedian And Jazz Fan To Be Honoured By Berklee
College Of Music
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 12, 2004) *Bill Cosby will receive yet another honorary degree next week. Cosby will be bestowed an honorary doctor of music degree from the Berklee College of Music for his contribution to music. A known jazz enthusiast, Cosby has composed several pieces of his own including the television scores for “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World,” and “Little Bill.” Cosby will receive the degree at the school’s commencement ceremony next month where he will be the keynote speaker.
Mandela Still The Man In South Africa
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 14, 2004) *To the people of South Africa, Nelson Mandela is like a black George Washington. A legendary pioneer who will go down as one of that country's most beloved leaders of all time. At age 85, Mandela is still an activist upon whom the ruling ANC party occasionally relies for vote getting. Last week, Mandela was brought in on two key occasions to hype up President Thabo Mbeki, who is running for a second term in office. Mandela dazzled some 85,000 people earlier this month at the last mass rally in Soweto staged by the ANC, which led the struggle against apartheid and won victory in the first multi-racial elections in 1994.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
AUDREY DE MONTIGNY Audrey (BMG/Vik)
GRANDMASTER FLASH Grandmaster Flash (DVD) (Rhino)
JACKSON BROWNE The Naked Ride Home (DVD Audio) (Rhino)
JACKSON BROWNE Running On Empty (DVD Audio) (Rhino)
SEAL Seal IV (DVD AUDIO) (Warner)
SHAWN DESMAN TBA Shawn Desman (BMG Canada/Vik)
EVENTS –APRIL 15-25, 2004
SUNDAY, APRIL 18
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.
MONDAY, APRIL 19
IRIE MONDAY NIGHT SESSIONS
745 Queen Street W.
EVENT PROFILE: Irie Mondays are back!! Come out and join the Irie crew as we come to hang out and enjoy the first signs of summer. Irie will be serving up their usual magic with tasty tidbits, live performances from local artists and the DJ stylings of Carl Allen.
MONDAY, APRIL 19
VIP JAM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS
783 College Street (at Shaw)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists.
TUESDAY, APRIL 20
507 College Street (west of Bathurst)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring prolific Canadian talent, Calvin Beale, Michael Shand, Joe Bowden, Thomas Reynolds and various local artists.
APRIL 21– 25, 2004
GET REEL FESTIVAL
20 Carlton St.
For more info call 416-368-3354; www.getreel.ca
Wednesday, April 21:
Opening Night Film: WattStax, Varsity Theatres
Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor Street West
Opening Night Party – Ricochet – 122 Avenue Road (North of Bloor Street, at Davenport)
Ticket Information: Opening Night Film - $15
Opening Night Party - $20 ($10 with opening night ticket)
Thursday, April 22:
GET SOUL: The Urban Music Showcase
Performers: Jully Black and Ray Robinson with DJ Glen C
Hosted by: Dalton Higgins – Host – Urban Groove on BPMTV
651 Queen St. West, (at Bathurst)
Admission: $20 in advance
Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.ca
EVENT PROFILE: GET REEL was developed with an idea: to become a vehicle where black commercial and independent cinema could be exhibited. GET REEL also intended to build on an audience already appreciative of diversity in film. Recognizing the amount of films by black filmmakers that go beyond just black culture to encompass the lifestyles of "city folks", or urbanites, GET REEL's focus is to explore all aspects that make up urban culture. Thus we are evolving into an organization that supports emerging artists, as well as filmmakers. During the Get Reel Festival you never know whom you might see or meet at one of our fashion shows, film screenings, music showcases or one of our parties. Artists, actors, musicians and industry professionals come from all over the world to be a part of the Get Reel Festival! This year’s country profile focuses on films from Jamaica, including the Harder They Come and Life and Debt. For more information, please give us a call at 416-368-3354 or email us at email@example.com.
FRIDAY, APRIL 23
ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMED
The Mod Club
722 College Street
$18 in advance
EVENT PROFILE: The DJ/Producer formerly of A Tribe Called Quest and Lucy Pearl makes a rare appearance in the megacity. He's currently working on a solo album, Shaheedullah and Stereotypes. Ali Shaheed Muhammed made his name alongside Q-Tip and Phife Dawg in one of hip hop's most respected groups, A Tribe Called Quest. With the outfit's infusion of jazz into hip hop rhythms, Tribe packaged a philosophical and socially conscious message within their music. They released five albums before disbanding in 1998. After his days with Tribe, Shaheed Muhammad joined forces with Tony! Toni! Tone's Raphael Saadiq and ex-En Vogue member Dawn Robinson to form the urban sould super-group Lucy Pearl. The band released its self-titled debut album in spring 2000, an album packed with live instrumentation in addition to samples and turntable work.
SUNDAY, APRIL 25
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French
Have a great week!