Updated: May 27, 2004
send out this month with two amazing events – the long-awaited CD release of Dione
Monday, May 31st and you can follow it up with the DJ party at IRIE!
The results of American Idol are in and America comes through
– Fantasia Burrino – we’re watching! And it all begins for Canadian Idol. A
few articles on the forecasted future and comments on the music industry under MUSIC NEWS. And American Bandstand is back?
Check it out below! Michael Moore’s controversial film Fahrenheit
9/11 wins the
biggest award at Cannes, along with some of the Canadian film entries
reviewed. And John Singleton is back with a new and long-awaited film –
all under FILM NEWS.
All of the television networks have their fall line-ups announced and
one of my fav female comedians, Ellen Degeneres wins an Emmy for Best Talk
Show. Check out some of the surprises
to hit the TV airwaves under TV NEWS.
And don’t forget about the Dora Awards announced under THEATRE NEWS. There is also lots and lots
of interesting and cross-over scoop under OTHER
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.
Exciting Summer DJ Line-up
In celebration of the diversity of Toronto, IRIE begins a series of diverse DJ nights which launches this holiday May 24 weekend! Check out selected nights for your fav DJ, fav vibe or fav night to hit Irie. Here’s the exciting line up of talented Toronto DJs this summer which starts May 24 weekend! Expect lots of exceptional surprises every night!
MONDAY, MAY 31
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
Dione Taylor CD Release – May 31,
Matay Records is proud to present Dione Taylor, a new and exciting female jazz vocalist. On her debut album “Open Your Eyes,” Taylor places her own well-crafted compositions beside the smoky ballads and classic jazz standards she interprets so well. The result is a classic and sultry sound that’s as smooth as butterscotch brandy. On the lead track “Rollercoaster Lover,” Taylor captures the mood of the composition with her emotional intensity, instantly asserting herself as a unique jazz voice. Backed by one of the best bands in the business—Doug Riley (Piano and Organ- Order Of Canada, Ray Charles, Joe Williams, Moe Koffman), Brian Dickinson (Piano-Juno Award Winner, Randy Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Pat LaBarbara)), Jim Vivian (Bass- Juno Award Winner, Mel Torme, Oliver Jones), Ted Quinlan (Guitar- Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Smith), Perry White (Tenor Sax- Boss Brass, Holly Cole, Shuffle Demons), Kevin Turcotte (Trumpet-Juno Award Winner, Boss Brass, Time Warp, NOJO) and Davide Direnzo (Drums- Juno Award Winner, Jesse Cook, Molly Johnson, Jacksoul), Justin Abedin (Guitars-Ashley MacIsaac, Jacksoul). Dione Taylor’s debut album is sure to delight music lovers!
“Dione Taylor is a truly gifted singer.”
-Dr. Billy Taylor, Jazz Legend and Educator
“Dione Taylor is destined to be one of Canada’s top Jazz Vocalists. ”
(Juno Award Winner, Randy Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Pat Labarbara)
“Dione is the strongest new singer I’ve heard on the Toronto Jazz scene.”
-Ted Quinlan (Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Smith)
Check Dione out at www.dionetaylor.com
MONDAY, MAY 31
DIONE TAYLOR CD RELEASE
Montreal Bistro and Jazz Club
65 Sherbourne Street
Motivational Note - Health Is Your First Wealth
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Jewel Diamond Taylor, Motivational Speaker and Author / www.DoNotGiveUp.net e-mail - Jewel@DoNotGiveUp.net
Health is your first wealth. No degree, car, diamonds, rims or awards can replace the blessing of good health. Make sure you are doing the right thing to protect and maintain your health. Don't wait until bad news knocks at your door. Be proactive and start today to practice living a healthy lifestyle. Say no to anyone and anything that can deteriorate your health. (i.e. sweets, drugs, fatty foods. fast foods, tobacco, unprotected sex, caffeine, colas, stress, lack of rest, lack of exercise and worry). Take your joy, health and energy to a new level. Start today because it's the first day of the rest of your life.
Music Industry - Face It, If You're Giving, We're Taking
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner
(May 22, 2004) If the music industry is to survive its current crisis, it will have to confront its most bedevilling obstacle: human nature. The truth is many people can't resist the opportunity to get something for free, even if they have to cheat to do it. And neither guilt trips nor the threat of prosecution are likely to alter that fundamental impulse. I'm talking, of course, about sharing music files on the Internet. The music industry is lobbying hard for the government to close the legal loophole that allowed a federal court judge to rule in March that it is legal to swap music files for personal use on the Internet. Regardless of the outcome of the coming federal election, there is every reason to expect new copyright legislation is on the way. For now, the industry has pinned its public awareness campaign on ethical issues. Put simply, the industry tells us, swapping music files is stealing. And stealing is wrong under any circumstances. Recently, the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) rang the alarm bell yet again, reporting that, in a five-week period, 2.8 million attempts were made to download Tragically Hip songs free, compared with 1,000 purchases through online retailer Puretracks. Leaving aside how the federal court ruling has muddied the waters — after all, why pay for something you can legally get free? — the figures are striking. No Canadian group has a more fiercely loyal following than the Tragically Hip. And yet, it seems, Hip lovers feel no compunction about ripping off their heroes. Fans probably don't see it that way. If they bother to rationalize their behaviour at all, they are likely less focused on whatever consequences their actions might have for artists, preferring to see their pilfering as a drop in the large bucket of multinational recording labels. It hasn't helped the industry's cause that so few musicians have stepped forward to publicly decry downloading. So it was significant that CRIA's release included remarks by a number of prominent Canadian recording artists, including the Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair and singer/songwriters Jann Arden and Kathleen Edwards. The comments by Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies were the most provocative. "I'm totally fine with people downloading music," he said, "as long as they steal everything that they want. If you want pants, go steal them. If you need gas in your car, you should steal it because you can. As long as people are consistent, I don't have a problem.... But it irks me that it's only okay to steal music." It's a clever formulation. But it also captures the music industry's dilemma in a nutshell — and not necessarily in the way Robertson intended. People don't steal music primarily because it's okay. They steal music because they can. I've actually had conversations with people who think illegally downloading music is wrong but admit they do it anyway. There are a couple of gaping holes in Robertson's circular logic. One is that even guilt-ridden downloaders likely don't equate their actions with heisting a pair of slacks. It's more like neglecting to put money in a parking meter, siphoning free cable and satellite TV service or slipping bogus business receipts in with your tax return (something, I'm sure, no one in the music industry would dare dream of doing). The operating principle here is: So what if it's wrong? Catch me if you can. Second, only a foolish or exceedingly trusting service station owner would make a habit of closing down at night without locking up the pumps. How long would it take for a line to form at your local gas bar if word spread through the neighbourhood that the pumps had been left unattended? The music industry, more than any other, expects consumers to regulate their own behaviour. It relies on the honour system — a self-policing code that, if it ever worked, is in demonstrably poor repair today. In that sense, the most useful parallel is the apparent rise in cases of plagiarism involving high schoolers, graduate students and, yes, journalists. Even if it is true, as moral arbiters would have us believe, that people are becoming more unscrupulous, that is not the point; Internet technology has flung wide the door to plagiarism. And, in an ironically corrective twist, the same technology is gradually making it more difficult for plagiarism to go undetected. File sharing is also primarily a technological by-product — or, in the case of the music industry, an unintended consequence. Digital technology initially allowed record companies to reap huge profits from consumers eager to replace their LPs — customarily stored in stolen plastic milk cartons — with CDs. In the longer run, digital technology has become the industry's Pandora's Box, unleashing the widespread possibility of song swapping and CD burning. Stealing music is not new. It's just easier and a lot less time-consuming than it was when listeners shared LPs with their friends by transferring them on to cassettes or, for those old enough to remember, reel-to-reel tapes. At that time, record companies could afford to look the other way. More to the point, they were helpless to prevent it. Little has changed since then except the scale and frequency of the activity. The Canadian music industry is banking on two things to reverse that trend: watertight copyright protection and moral suasion. The record labels say they have evidence that music pirates in the U.S. are being "scared straight" by threat of prosecution, while conceding that the practice of file-sharing hasn't exactly ground to a halt. Even if a change in Canadian law produces a chill here, cheating will persist. And the more people cheat, the less likely it is that the legal system will welcome being swamped with prosecutions of this nature. There is no easy solution for the music industry. But logic dictates that the key is technological, not behavioural. Forget altering human nature. The music industry needs to find a way to lock up its stuff at night.
Music Dispute Hurts Indies
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Angela Pacienza, Canadian Press
(May 22, 2004) TORONTO -- A dispute between music label EMI and retailer HMV is hitting music fans and indie artists like Sum 41 and Oh Susanna in the pocketbook. Experts say the price increases -- between $5 and $10 -- for CDs by artists such as Nickelback, Janet Jackson, Norah Jones, Radiohead and Sarah McLachlan, are just the latest manifestation of the industry's woes. The increases, which took effect in early April, are due to a squabble over the wholesale price of EMI's CDs, and all the indie labels it distributes. Both sides have been guarded about discussing the issue, saying "trading terms" between the companies are confidential. However, each concedes that money is at the heart of the problem. HMV wants EMI to maintain its volume discount on CDs so the chain can sell new releases at a cheaper price and get music lovers into its stores -- rather than big-box competitors like Wal-Mart. "EMI chose to reduce the level of support that they had previously offered HMV," Humphrey Kadaner, president of HMV Canada, said in an interview with The Canadian Press. As a result, Kadaner said HMV can't give EMI distributed products the same level of "value-added" support it gives other labels. That means EMI artists don't get priority placement near the front of stores, their songs don't get played inside the stores and they're not listed on HMV's chart wall -- often the first place a consumer will look when entering a music shop. Kadaner said under the new trade terms, EMI passed on a higher price to HMV. Subsequently, the chain had to pass the hike on to the consumer, he said. "We passed it on proportionally. We've maintained the same margin as before. We have not tried to use this as a vehicle to drive any incremental profitability," said Kadaner. For its part, EMI Canada says it can't afford to capitulate to the chain's demands because sales at the chain dropped about 25 per cent last year. Further, label head Deane Cameron says the label did not raise its CD prices. "It's not fair for us to have trading terms that reward HMV for their volume if their volume is not there," he said. "HMV is selling a lot more DVDs these days. That's why we're getting elbowed out." He added: "We asked them to consider different trading terms. That wasn't received too well and we appear to be in the penalty box. It's disappointing for artists to be punished to this extent." It's far from the first time HMV, which holds the leading market share of pre-recorded music in Canada, has fought to increase its bottom line. Two years ago a messy dispute with Warner over wholesale prices pushed HMV to pull all Warner CDs from its stores. It's no secret the CD market has been troubled in recent years. The Canadian Recording Industry Association says that on a per-capita basis, the Canadian music industry has been one of the hardest hit of any country in the world by illegal file swapping. Retail sales have decreased by more than $425-million since 1999, says the organization. To stay afloat, HMV started selling DVDs a few years back, which some say saved the chain from bankruptcy. "When this whole downloading thing happened, their music business tanked," said Maureen Atkinson, senior partner at J. C. Williams Group, a retail and marketing consulting firm. "They really struggled, as did the recording industry." But this latest ripple has more victims than just EMI. The label consists of 70 music labels representing over 1,500 artists around the world. In Canada, EMI distributes CDs for smaller independent labels, including Nettwerk, Popular, Marquis and Aquarius. It's these smaller Canadian indie labels -- which support homegrown talent such as Sum 41 and Broken Social Scene -- that find themselves the biggest victims of EMI and HMV's trade fallout. They have the most to lose because their artists aren't sold in big-box stores like Future Shop and Wal-Mart -- which mostly only carry Top-40 CDs with very little back catalogue -- and rely on specialty stores to sell their stuff. "It's just not fair. Do they care that by raising the Oh Susanna disc to $28 they make it impossible for people to buy her CD in their store," asked Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk. "That hurts the artist. That artist is a person. They're not a corporate entity." Customers have already said the price of CDs is too high, added McBride. "It's extremely short-sighted, because people are already buying less and less CDs. The reason why HMV and EMI are having this little tussle is because EMI margins have been shrunk, the marketplace is shrinking and every player in this business needs to come to terms with that and be part of the solution -- not get into these stupid little trade wars. Nobody wins."
Demons Reunite, Aim For Guinness Record
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller
(May 22, 2004) TORONTO -- The call has gone out. Saxophonists -- hundreds of 'em -- are required at 2 p.m., May 30, on Toronto's Dundas Square to play the theme from Hockey Night in Canada, all in an effort to gain a place in the Guinness Book of Records. If this looks like the old Shuffle Demons writ very large, don't look now, but it is. Those five zany, globetrotting bop-rapping street musicians are back, reunited for a 20th-anniversary summer tour, accompanied by a new "greatest hits" CD, a retrospective DVD and what just might be the ultimate Demons publicity stunt. The word stunt is used here with only the greatest of affection. (Likewise the word shtick, which also tends to come up when the Demons are mentioned.) The thing is, as stunts go, this one's perfect. Back in the day, the Demons used to busk on the sidewalks around the Eaton Centre, directly across Yonge Street from what is now, yes, Dundas Square. And they often played Hockey Night in Canada out there, as well as The Pink Panther, Tequila and tunes by Thelonious Monk. So, who says you can't go home again? Just bring along a few hundred friends. Five hundred, actually. That's the number Demon Richard Underhill has in mind, including "people who have that sax from high school in the closet." (And what key will they be asked to play in? Former high-school saxophonists might want to know well in advance. "B-flat baby," says Underhill, coolly; he'll e-mail the music to anyone who signs up at http://www.shuffledemons.com.) The Demons, who made their official return on Thursday as the opening act of the Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto, hadn't bopped or rapped publicly in any form since 1997, much less in their now-reunited form, which dates back to 1993. Accordingly, they've had a couple of rehearsals, at least with four of the five returning Demons: Underhill, who plays alto saxophone; the band's original drummer, Stich Wynston; and two of its second-wave members, bassist George Koller and tenor saxophonist Perry White. (Koller will split the tour with a still later alumnus, Mike Milligan.) The fifth returning Demon, and another original member from 1984, tenor saxophonist Dave Parker, is now a resident of Quebec City and will be summoning up Spadina Bus, The Shuffle Monster, Get Outta My House, Roach and other favourites from memory. "At the first rehearsal," Underhill says with a laugh, "it was like, 'Okay, what do we play on this tune?' We remembered most of the lyrics, but not where the fingers went. The second time, we started jamming on stuff, playing tunes at slower tempos, trying different feels, and it was really nice." As it should be. These are jazz musicians of some standing in the Canadian scene, after all, and jazz musicians never play the same thing the same way twice, right? Right, say Underhill and Wynston, who've met up at Harbourfront Centre late on a sunny May morning to do a little advance work for the reunion. "We're starting with a solid foundation of the old tunes," Underhill notes, referring to material from the band's first two albums (of six total), Streetniks and Bop Rap, "and I think people are going to want to hear them. We're going to have to play them, and we want to play them, because they're fun. But if some newer things develop, that would be great." Adds Wynston, "There was nothing ever rigid about the old arrangements. We would change them all the time on tour; that's just the nature of an improvisational band." Of course, there was always more to the Demons than just music. That shtick, for example -- the rapping, the colourful wardrobe, the Roach Death Dance and such. But Underhill and Wynston are older now, both of them 43. Too old, perhaps, for such shenanigans? Apparently not, especially not Wynston, who seems pleased as punch to be embracing his old Demon demeanour again. Indeed, Wynston has more than just the tour on his mind. "I don't want this only to be a reunion, I want the band to start up again, go forward, do new material and be a full-time thing again. Whether I can convince everyone else to jump on my shoulders and come along is something to be determined." Underhill is diplomatically vague on the subject of the band's future. His, after all, were the shoulders that carried the band through its first 13 years; he knows too well the strain involved. And he has developed a nice career of his own in the interim, both as a member of Blue Rodeo's Bushwhack Horns and as the leader of a relatively mainstream jazz group (by Demon standards) whose first CD, tales from the blue lounge, won a Juno Award in 2003. All the same, he admits that he was responsible for suggesting the reunion in the first place. "I just thought it had to be done," he explains. "My experiences with Blue Rodeo spurred me on; everywhere we went, every small town, people would always ask me about the Shuffle Demons. That showed me there was quite a lot of support out there." The Demons probably played most of those small towns themselves at least once in the course of some 15 Canadian tours. They travelled in Europe just about as often. Few bands worked harder; few appeared to have more fun. Once seen and heard, they weren't easy to forget -- try though some folks might. "It goes back to how you describe what we were/are," Underhill suggests. "Were we a jazz group? Were we a pop-rock phenomenon? I guess we had a foot in both worlds. A lot of people loved the shtick. A lot of people were introduced to jazz that way. And a lot of people hated it, and were turned off by what we were doing to the music. Jazz fans take their music very seriously." Wynston, who obviously takes the Demons very seriously, rises to the band's defence "Maybe there was a lot of shtick," he argues, "but when it came to the music, it was second to none as far as I'm concerned. It was world class and, I think, incredibly innovative." It's precisely this populist mix of innovation, eclecticism and sheer resourcefulness that made the Demons and Distillery Jazz Festival, which answers to much the same description, such an ideal fit as each other's starting point for 2004. Underhill, Wynston and Perry White will also be appearing with various other bands during the event's eight nights and, like everyone else on the program, taking home a pro-rated share of the festival's revenues for their trouble. Last year, the proceeds worked out to something in excess of $100 a musician for each show. That may not seem like a lot, but Underhill is sanguine, pointing to "the tradeoffs in respect, advertising, promotion of local talent and great venues that the festival offers. I just feel really happy to sign on to that. We didn't have to put the Demons there for our first show, but it's out of respect for what the festival's trying to do that we're involved." Between the Distillery festival, the Dundas Square extravaganza and a Downtown Jazz festival show on June 28, hometown fans will have had three opportunities to hear the band again, two more than its followers in the other 15 Canadian cities on its summer itinerary. Underhill, however, offers a caution to Demonologists at every stop. "I think they should try to see the band when they can," he advises. "If Stich has his way it will keep on going. But who knows?" The Shuffle Demons tour includes appearances in Edmonton (June 18), Calgary (19), Medicine Hat (23), Nanaimo, B.C. (24), Duncan, B.C. (25), Victoria (26), Vancouver (27), Toronto (28), Ottawa (29), Kingston, Ont. (July 2), Montreal (3), Waterloo, Ont. (9), Halifax (10), St. John's (11), Guelph, Ont. (Sept. 11) and Fredericton (Sept. 15).
Alanis Out In The Open
By Karen Bliss for Lowdown
In an attempt to curb leaks, Alanis Morissette's new album, "So-Called Chaos," was delivered months ago to select journalists as a watermarked CDR disguised with the name Arthur Moore on the cover. But today (May 18), the fully manufactured album finally hits stores. From the rockin' lead track, "Eight Easy Steps," with a tinge of eastern flavour, through to the gentle pop of "Out Is Thru," and confessional single, "Everything," the songs are essentially pop, concise and far less busy than 1998's "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" or even 2002's "Under Rug Swept." It just may be the Ottawa native's most accessible album since 1995's 30-million-selling breakthrough "Jagged Little Pill." "Yes, there's a simplicity to them," Morissette agrees. " It's almost like I trimmed out all the superfluous things - not to say that they're gone forever because they'll return [laughs], because they have to have their say [laughs] at some point in the future. But I feel like there's a simplification that's happened, not only in my music but in my life over the past couple of years - whether it's my closets or whether it's my schedule or whether it's my records - that has allowed me a real freedom and peace that I hadn't had before." While she may have been encouraged by her 2003 win at the Juno Awards for the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year award for "Under Rug Swept," she chose to co-produce this album. She began by inviting her longtime friend and fellow Canadian Tim Thorney (Ennis Sisters, Jimmy Rankin) down to Santa Monica, to work out of her studio. "The first bit of producing that was done was Tim and I doing it together, so that was fun and very relaxing and very kind of insulated in the way that I think benefits the creative process, for me, anyway," says Morissette. After about eight weeks, however, with an album's worth of tracks in the can, and the mixing stage was apparently around the corner, she knew it wasn't finished. "I just felt in my stomach that we weren't done," she says. Her manager Scott [Welch], and some staff at Maverick suggested bringing in producer John Shanks (Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow, Celine Dion). He came in and "tried his thing" on the single, "Everything." "I loved it. He was just really tasteful and respectful of the songs themselves," she says. Morissette, who turns 30 on June 1, will begin a European tour on June 25 in Aveiro, Portugal, ending July 10 in Taormino, Italy. She then hooks up with her friends in Barenaked Ladies for a 23-stop U.S. amphitheatre tour from July 13 in Cuyahoga Falls, OH through to August 14 in Cincinnati, OH. No Canadian dates have been announced yet. "Eventually, I'd like to do an acoustic tour," she says. "I've never done a full-blown acoustic versions of the songs tour. We have about 14 songs (recorded), most of which we're going to be using as B-sides here and there, and eventually, maybe, releasing something with all different kinds of acoustic versions."
Music Dispute Hurts Indies
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Angela Pacienza, Canadian Press
(May 22, 2004 ) TORONTO -- A dispute between music label EMI and retailer HMV is hitting music fans and indie artists like Sum 41 and Oh Susanna in the pocketbook. Experts say the price increases -- between $5 and $10 -- for CDs by artists such as Nickelback, Janet Jackson, Norah Jones, Radiohead and Sarah McLachlan, are just the latest manifestation of the industry's woes. The increases, which took effect in early April, are due to a squabble over the wholesale price of EMI's CDs, and all the indie labels it distributes. Both sides have been guarded about discussing the issue, saying "trading terms" between the companies are confidential. However, each concedes that money is at the heart of the problem. HMV wants EMI to maintain its volume discount on CDs so the chain can sell new releases at a cheaper price and get music lovers into its stores -- rather than big-box competitors like Wal-Mart. "EMI chose to reduce the level of support that they had previously offered HMV," Humphrey Kadaner, president of HMV Canada, said in an interview with The Canadian Press. As a result, Kadaner said HMV can't give EMI distributed products the same level of "value-added" support it gives other labels. That means EMI artists don't get priority placement near the front of stores, their songs don't get played inside the stores and they're not listed on HMV's chart wall -- often the first place a consumer will look when entering a music shop. Kadaner said under the new trade terms, EMI passed on a higher price to HMV. Subsequently, the chain had to pass the hike on to the consumer, he said. "We passed it on proportionally. We've maintained the same margin as before. We have not tried to use this as a vehicle to drive any incremental profitability," said Kadaner. For its part, EMI Canada says it can't afford to capitulate to the chain's demands because sales at the chain dropped about 25 per cent last year. Further, label head Deane Cameron says the label did not raise its CD prices. "It's not fair for us to have trading terms that reward HMV for their volume if their volume is not there," he said. "HMV is selling a lot more DVDs these days. That's why we're getting elbowed out." He added: "We asked them to consider different trading terms. That wasn't received too well and we appear to be in the penalty box. It's disappointing for artists to be punished to this extent." It's far from the first time HMV, which holds the leading market share of pre-recorded music in Canada, has fought to increase its bottom line. Two years ago a messy dispute with Warner over wholesale prices pushed HMV to pull all Warner CDs from its stores. It's no secret the CD market has been troubled in recent years. The Canadian Recording Industry Association says that on a per-capita basis, the Canadian music industry has been one of the hardest hit of any country in the world by illegal file swapping. Retail sales have decreased by more than $425-million since 1999, says the organization. To stay afloat, HMV started selling DVDs a few years back, which some say saved the chain from bankruptcy. "When this whole downloading thing happened, their music business tanked," said Maureen Atkinson, senior partner at J. C. Williams Group, a retail and marketing consulting firm. "They really struggled, as did the recording industry." But this latest ripple has more victims than just EMI. The label consists of 70 music labels representing over 1,500 artists around the world. In Canada, EMI distributes CDs for smaller independent labels, including Nettwerk, Popular, Marquis and Aquarius. It's these smaller Canadian indie labels -- which support homegrown talent such as Sum 41 and Broken Social Scene -- that find themselves the biggest victims of EMI and HMV's trade fallout. They have the most to lose because their artists aren't sold in big-box stores like Future Shop and Wal-Mart -- which mostly only carry Top-40 CDs with very little back catalogue -- and rely on specialty stores to sell their stuff. "It's just not fair. Do they care that by raising the Oh Susanna disc to $28 they make it impossible for people to buy her CD in their store," asked Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk. "That hurts the artist. That artist is a person. They're not a corporate entity." Customers have already said the price of CDs is too high, added McBride. "It's extremely short-sighted, because people are already buying less and less CDs. The reason why HMV and EMI are having this little tussle is because EMI margins have been shrunk, the marketplace is shrinking and every player in this business needs to come to terms with that and be part of the solution -- not get into these stupid little trade wars. Nobody wins."
Tamia Is Back With 'More'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Kevin Jackson / firstname.lastname@example.org
(May. 21, 2004) It has been six years since rhythm and blues chanteuse Tamia shot onto the charts with the haunting ballad "You Put a Move on My Heart." During that time, she has released three albums, racked up a string of chart hits, gotten married and started a family. Her latest album "More" was released last month, and has been doing fairly well on the Billboard charts. The first single "Questions" which was produced by R. Kelly is steadily making its way up the charts. A reggae remix of the track featuring Fi Wi Music artiste Kris Kelli was recently produced by Yogie, and looks set to make some inroads on airwaves. "I have always been a fan of reggae music. I think it’s a great genre of music. I just need to learn how to do the dances, but Kris Kelli has been giving me some lessons. I am working on it," Tamia told the this writer in an interview at her villa over at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica a week ago. Singing since the age of six, Tamia is originally from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She grew up in Detroit where she was influenced by the sounds from the Motown label. Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Whitney Houston are listed among her musical influences. A few years ago she married basketball star Grant Hill. They have a two-year-old daughter, whom Tamia says has been her pride and joy. "She is the cutest baby in the world. We have a lot of fun together," confided Tamia. But has being a mother and a wife brought along any changes in her career or the lyrical content of her music? "Obviously your life changes when you get married and have a child. It’s no longer about you. I have never done anything to be ashamed of. I just continue on the path that I have been doing," said Tamia. She added, "I am not 17 so I wouldn’t sing the same stuff that a 17 year old would sing about. I sing stuff that I want to sing about, that mean something to me and not just because its hot or I am recording for a hot producer." "More," her third album on the Elektra label (her previous albums were "Tamia" released in 1998 and "A Nu Day" released in 2000) sold more than 70,000 units in its first week of release more than a month ago. The album explores themes of love, which have made Tamia a household name in rhythm and blues circles. "I am really excited about this album. Considering this day and age and what the music business has become. I feel blessed to be able to continue to do what I love since I was six years old. On this album hopefully people will see growth," explained Tamia. Known for hits including "So Into You" (which was later updated by rapper Fabolous last year and on which she made a cameo appearance), "Imagination," "Loving You Still," "Stranger in My House" (a #1 hit on the dance charts), "Spend My Life With You" (with Eric Benet, which hit #1 on the R&B charts), "Officially Missing You" (a #1 hit on the dance charts earlier this year), and "You Put a Move on My Heart"), Tamia who was discovered by Quincy Jones, says it hasn’t been easy trying to break down the barriers in getting her music out to the mainstream. "It hasn’t been easy breaking into the business period. Its like a continuing process." Stranger in My House remains Tamia’s personal favourite. The song she said was what broke the through the barriers for her in the nightclubs. "I love that song especially the dance remix. It just opened up the doors to a whole different area of music that I wasn’t aware of," she said. So Into You peaked at number seven on the R&B charts in 1998. However in 2003, her label mate rapper Fabolous updated the song and sampled her voice in it and the song became a hit all over again. It peaked in the top 5 of the R&B and pop charts and was a top 5 hit on the rap charts. "When I first released that song I thought it was a great song. I was kind of upset that it didn’t do as well as I thought it could have back then. I heard that Fabolous was going to do a remake of it and I thought it was a good idea. He did a really good job," said Tamia. Legendary producer Quincy Jones has played a major role in Tamia’s career. He not only discovered her but he also signed her to his Qwest record label, which was distributed by Warner Bros. Quincy Jones has been the best experience that I had in my life. He is a legend. He is totally on another level. He’s awesome." Asked what other career path she would have chosen if singing hadn’t worked out for her, Tamia said she would have been teaching voice lessons. “I studied professionally, and I still do take voice lessons."
Fantasia Barrino Named 'American Idol'
By Associated Press
(May 26, 2004) LOS ANGELES - Fantasia Barrino's fantasy of pop stardom became a reality Wednesday night when she was named the winner of "American Idol." Barrino, a 19-year-old from High Point, N.C., with a powerful, gospel-tinged voice, topped Diana DeGarmo, an effervescent 16-year-old from Snellville, Ga. The judges had pretty much crowned Barrino the winner the previous night, when she dazzled them with her powerful version of Gershwin's "Summertime" and two other songs.
Fantasia Wins! 'AI' Hopeful Has Already Got Missy Droolin' To Produce Her
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 21, 2004) *Fantasia Barrino may not have won "American Idol," but she's already got super producers waiting in the wings to hook up her album. Legendary record man, Clive Davis, who has launched the careers of some of the hottest women in music, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys is now preparing the studio for Ms. Fantasia Barrino. After a journey that no one could've imagined possible for Jasmine Trias, she was finally voted off "American Idol" leaving Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo to sing off in next week's finale. The 17-year-old Hawaiian kept smiling even as she learned of her removal Wednesday night from the Fox singing competition. "I just want to thank all my fans for believing in me and embracing my talent and for making my dreams come true," Trias said. "It's been such an honour to share the aloha spirit with the rest of America." The contestants sang three songs each Tuesday: one they chose themselves; one judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson chose for them; and one selected by this week's guest judge, music mogul Clive Davis, whose record company gives the "American Idol" winner a record contract. Barrino blew the judges away with her rendition of Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" and Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All," and DeGarmo drew unanimous praise for hitting all the high notes on Melissa Manchester's "Don't Cry Out Loud." But during Tuesday night's Top 3 show, Davis was all over the Barrino. Maybe it was the songs she sang that got him choked up, but Davis told TV show "Extra," "This was really a signal night for Fantasia." The music mogul is not keeping any secrets regarding the future of Barrino. He revealed that hip-hop artist Missy Elliott has plans to produce for Barrino. "In five seconds she said, 'She's the read deal, I'm going to write material.'" Davis added, "We're going to do a real proper recording album; we're not doing a TV souvenir album." Judge Randy Jackson weighed in on the Idol potentials saying, "They're the two best left. Kelly Clarkson was the right winner, Ruben was the right winner, and I trust that the right winner will happen this time." Barrino's rendition of "The Greatest Love of All" must've reminded Davis of Whitney Houston's hey day because he pounced on the "Idol" hopeful immediately. "She and I have agreed to get together in the next four to six weeks," Davis said. Even though Clive has chosen his winner, "American Idol" still has to run the clock out on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8pm ET/PT as the show comes to a close and America gets to choose its winner.
Nina Simone: The Legacy Of Soul
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Angela Spann
(May. 21, 2004) "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," said Alicia Keys, in deference to a legend. Chaka Khan, a legend in her own right, agreed wholeheartedly. "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," she said. Still, Bonnie Raitt, in her acknowledgment of Simone's greatness, summed it up best when she said, "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." During her lifetime, Nina Simone, as an artist, civil rights advocate, musical prodigy, and Soul's 'High Priestess,' has defied classification and defined class, strength, and power. There simply is no one like her. On April 20, 2003, the world mourned the loss of an exceptional singer, a social enigma, and a musical genius. In celebration of her life and contributions, Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan, longtime personal friends of Simone, pay tribute to her in a new book entitled, "NINA SIMONE: Break Down & Let It All Out." Not only was she a legend, but also Simone's love of music and of her people was legendary to those who knew her well. In an interview with Lee Bailey, siblings Hampton and Nathan discussed their reason for writing this book, as well as gave a personal insight into the woman behind the movie. The title, "Break Down & Let It All Out," was a true reflection of the purpose of this book and co-author Sylvia Hampton wouldn't haven't it any other way. "The one thing that I [would have] hated to happen is that someone bring out a book on her that was full of gossip and scandal and basically invented stories," she said of her reason for writing this book. "It was a great way to pay tribute to her." Hampton, assisted by her brother, a well-known soul music historian, has successfully offered an intimate and revealing portrait of Simone. It was a very personal journey for her. "I have known Nina for nearly 40 years of my life," said Hampton. She's been an important part of my life. With what she has given to the world, it would be a tragedy basically if the legacy that was left behind apart from her music were something that somebody wrote who didn't know her." Nathan's investment in this book was just as passionate. "She has a musical legacy which extends back to 1959," he explained. "A legacy of a woman who was very much a pioneer in the civil rights movement and played a very important role in that, particularly in the early to mid 60s."
Although many are aware of the powerful voice behind controversial songs like "Mississippi Goddam," they are less aware of the fact that this voice was in a chorus of those fighting against racism and injustices to people. Hers was a voice in harmony with the brilliant rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael. She was as passionate in her fight against oppression as she was about her expression of society's ills through her music. Her belief that we are all human beings, despite the color of our skin, became a personal crusade, defiantly expressed in "Young, Gifted, and Black," a song which later would become the anthem for the civil rights movement. She stood toe-to-toe with those who tried to oppress her and shoulder to shoulder with those who inspired her. "When she first became known publicly in the early sixties, she was someone in the company of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Lorraine Hasberry. She was very much in the forefront of that and she was one of the few entertainers who were willing to put their life on the line to take a stand for civil rights," explained Nathan. Before her graduation from the Julliard School of Music in New York, and before she recorded 34 diverse albums that defined jazz, blues, gospel, folk, and calypso, and even before this classically trained pianist, with her deep, rich voice, inspired a musical nation, Simone was a child prodigy in the deep south during the '30s and '40s who was unequivocally aware of our great heritage and our place in this world. In the book, the story of the eleven year old non-conformist, who, during her first public recital, refused to perform until her parents were brought from the back of the all white audience and placed in the front where they could see her. It was these types of incidents throughout her life that almost got her killed and landed her name on the hit list of the FBI. It was these heroic stands that she lived by, beyond her entertainment life, that were testaments to the true gift that she was to this world. Her music served as the soundtrack for her social contribution to justice and freedom during her time. Join us next week as we continue our interview with authors Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan, and pay tribute to the legacy of soul, Nina Simone.
Illogic: Got Lyrics?
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Paine
Performance Poetry can be a lot like Stand-Up Comedy: Great for an evening out, not what you really want to hear in your CD player. In the mainstream, it’s worked. Kanye’s appearance on "Def Poetry" was priceless promotion for his album. One of the only memorable elements of Nastradamus, may’ve been the intro and outro from Jessica Care Moore. But the underground isn’t so lucky. Acts like Anticon and Scienz of Life have struggled to grow acceptance for almost a decade. Critics and fans alike hold a red flag that accuses many efforts as “pretentious” off the bat. One person that seems to have found that difficult balance between MC and poet is Illogic. Ohio’s own golden child is releasing his third (and most exciting) studio album. Illogic and AllHipHop decided to chop it up – on poetry, the difficulties in making an emotional album, and we even got on dude’s case for not pressing the vinyl. Without albums like Celestial Clockwork, and artists like Illogic, groups like The Last Poets would never see their foundation applied in Grassroots Hip-Hop. Now, imagine that!
AllHipHop: In your mind, how is Celestial Clockwork a progression from your other two albums?
Illogic: I think it’s a lot more personal, and it really shows my growth as an artist. To do an album that’s as consistent as Celestial [Clockwork] is, in comparison to my other albums, it’s a lot of personal experiences on there. A lot of real personal, introspective stories of things that really happened in my life. It’s a good release for me and it’s really good to see that people are enjoying it and taking it for what it is and not expecting some grandiose thing.
AllHipHop: When I listened to the album the first time, there was a sense of urgency in it. Like, ‘Now or Never’, is that the case in your overall attitude?
Illogic: Not really a sense of urgency. Originally, Celestial Clockwork was supposed to be the follow-up to Unforseen Shadows. But we did Got Lyrics? And some other things happened in the meantime. It was more, we really took our time with it to get it right. We made sure all the production matched the concepts. We really wanted to take our time and not rush it. I wanted it to have as much power as it could possibly have. It was one of things where we had to let it age a little bit and wait a little time to drop it to the world, and now’s the right time.
AllHipHop: “Hate in a Puddle” was the joint that really made a big impression for you. It’s just so potent. How did that gem come about?
Illogic: At the time, I was in college. I was dealing with a lot of things – trying to learn who I was as a person, trying to find myself. In doing that, I went to Cincinnati for school, which is where my biological father lived – who I had no relationship with whatsoever. I didn’t really meet him til’ I was thirteen years old. So I went there to build a relationship with him, which didn’t happen. That kinda got me really down. Plus, I had a girlfriend at the time that was acting crazy. I was at a loss. I needed some kind of therapy – and writing is my therapy. One day on the walk home from Dose One’s [of Anticon] house, it was raining. I stopped and I saw my reflection in a puddle. I saw at on the balcony of my dorm room in the rain and wrote the song. It was one of those things that I needed to do to get out of a rut that I was stuck in.
AllHipHop: Out of curiosity, why don’t you press your albums on vinyl?
Illogic: Well, Got Lyrics? Was pressed on vinyl. It sold out. I think we maybe only pressed up two thousand copies. And we sold out. One, being that we’re a self-funded label, vinyl is extremely expensive. Celestial Clockwork is gonna be on vinyl though. We really want to get everything on vinyl. That’s an area we need to touch.
AllHipHop: How do you find balance between Hip-Hop and spoken word?
Illogic: Personally, I don’t try to find a balance. Because I think they’re one and the same. The difference is the beat aspect of it, of course. But the words are really the power of anything. You can tell an MC is really dope as an MC when they take his beats away and his words are still powerful. That’s how I always have looked at Hip-Hop and viewed myself as an artist.
AllHipHop: What does Ohio offer to Hip-Hop. What’s an Ohio B-Boy like?
Illogic: I think the benefits are that we’re in the middle of New York and the West Coast. We have all of that convergence on us. The drive in us to become more than what we see on television, or [hear] from anywhere. I think it’s given people like us in Columbus a drive to become more what they think we are. I think a good example of that is RJD2, Blueprint, and I coming from Columbus. We just have a nice view of the entire spectrum of Hip-Hop. It gives a good balance to build on. It’s encouraged here, to be yourself and not sound like this dude or that dude.
AllHipHop: The album’s out. What’s next? Where do you go from here?
Illogic: Well, right now we’re trying to get some different tours and things together. Nothing’s solidified. I’ll be doing a week with the Eyedea & Abilities Tour down the East Coast. That’s gonna be the second week of May. Everything else is being still worked out. I’ll be all over the country in the next six months.
AllHipHop: How hard is it to be fulltime?
Illogic: It is hard. Every tour is a dice roll. You hope people show up. You hope your money’s right. You hope you’re not just going out here for the heck of it. The pay-off weighs a lot more than the sacrifice itself. Because when you’re out there and you’re on stage and whether it’s ten fans or a thousand fans, they’re there to see you. That’s the pay-off. It’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into it, but it pays off in the end. I’m hoping and I’m praying that I’m not doing this for nothing. The response from the last two albums and the anticipation on this one has let me know that that’s [not the case].
Ice-T Producing David Hasselhoff Rap Album
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(May 21, 2004) Hard-core rapper Ice-T is grooming a new rapper, one that he says will astonish the rap world with his skills – David Hasselhoff. Ice-T recently revealed that he and Hasselhoff, star of 80’s action television show “Knight Rider” and the worldwide hit “Bay Watch” are working on a rap album. After striking up a friendship in Los Angeles due to the proximity of their residences, Ice-T agreed to produce Hasselhoff, who will re-emerge as emcee "Hassel The Hoff." "The man is a legend and we are going to show a whole new side of him," Ice-T told UK newspaper The Sun. Hasselhoff, 51, is more than just a television actor. He is also a mega-star in Austria and Germany. He has released seven albums and the most recent, My America, went as high as #11 on the Austrian charts. "The Hoff will surprise people with his rap skills and humour," Ice-T said. Hip-Hop has had an unofficial relationship with David Hasselhoff for numerous years. The theme music to “Knight Rider” has been sampled by various rappers over the years.
Jim Jones Talks Not Being On The Roc
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Jayson Rodriguez
(May 20, 2004) They say it’s tough love over at Roc-A-Fella Records. Diplomat Capo Jim Jones knows this first hand. After staying behind the scenes to manage everything Dip Set, Jones stepped to the forefront last year as a rapper on the group’s debut album Diplomatic Immunity, which he thought would lead to a solo deal with the Roc. It didn’t. Roc-A-Fella execs didn’t even approach Jones about signing with the label— and the rapper felt it wasn’t his place to approach them. “I never stepped to them,” Jones told AllHipHop.com. “‘Cause I already did a whole [Diplomats] album and they had to listen to it everyday, so if that there didn’t show them what I was doing—and it was a double CD, so I felt I gave it everything I had because I wanted to be hot.” Instead, Jones chose to sign with Koch Records, which will release his as-yet-titled debut album later this summer. Going the independent route made more sense to him and his Harlem hustle anyway, according to Jones. “I did so much by myself, my own videos, my own marketing, just to get myself out there,” he said. Jones’ pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps philosophy has been the main reason the Diplomats has become a household name in hip-hop the past few years. He cites Roc-A-Fella CEO Dame Dash and P.Diddy as influences on his business acumen. In fact, Jones sampled a hit from the ‘80s like Diddy when it came time to promoting his and Cam’ron’s latest venture, Sizzurp Purple Punch Liquor. Cam’ron said, “While I was working on my album, [Purple Haze] Jim Jones was making sure the liquor [deal] was straight.” Taking a page from the St. Ides Malt Liquor marketing campaigns that featured 2Pac, Ice Cube and Rakim rapping about the popular beverage, Jones and the Dips put together “Sippin’ on Sizzurp Vol. I: Getting Drunk on Music.” The mixtape includes a host of today’s rappers performing their own odes to alcohol. “You got to copy something to make it great,” Jones said of the campaign. Perhaps that then explains why he and Cam called their concoction Sizzurp, which is the Southern slang term for the mixture of cough syrup and a sweet beverage like fruit punch. “Yeah, I stole it from Down South,” Jones admitted. But he stated it simply was the first name that popped into his head when he tasted the product, which he described as resembling grape Kool Aid. The name, however, puts the rapper in the precarious position of defending against criticism from both southern rap acts and a probably rant from Bill O’Reilly regarding its influence on children. “First of all, kids aren’t supposed to be able to buy liquor from out the store, so they shouldn’t be confused (by the name) anyway,” Jones asserted. And as far as the reaction from the South, he boasted: “They love me for that.” He then joked, “My n***as Down South hit the syrup with the Sizzurp.” Jim Jones solo debut album is due August 10.
Dancing Back To TV
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Carla Hay, N.Y.
(May 24, 2004) "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller has teamed up with Dick Clark to revive "American Bandstand." Fuller, Clark and Mosaic Media Group president Allen Shapiro will executive produce the show, which is expected to have a summer 2005 launch. Mosaic is a controlling shareholder in Dick Clark Productions. A spokesperson for Fuller says the show will air on a U.S. TV network to be determined. "Dick Clark is the father of American music television, and the prospect of the two of us working together to bring 'American Bandstand' back to all its former glory, [while] giving it a 21st century twist, is very exciting indeed," Fuller said in a statement. Clark commented, "Bringing back an American tradition like 'Bandstand' has always been a dream of mine, and I can't think of a better person to partner with than Simon Fuller, whose foresight in trend-setting television shows and music will surely bring the show new luster and then some." Hosted by Clark, "American Bandstand" ran on ABC from 1957 to 1987. The show was originally launched is 1952 as a local Philadelphia TV series.
Wyclef Introduces Clef Records, Explains Why He Won’t
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Jayson Rodriguez
(May 24, 2004) With technology revolutionizing the music industry, Wyclef Jean looked to the past in order to figure out the future of the billion-dollar business. “I read the Russell Simmons book, the Berry Gordy book,” he told AllHipHop.com from Platinum Studios. “And I was like ‘What’s the next level?’ “Focus,” he said, answering his own question. Clef explained focus is the organization of music and business. With that in mind, the Refugee All-Star started Clef Records, an independent venture that is as close to being vertically integrated as possible. Wyclef and long-time collaborator Jerry Wonder produce everything, which is recorded at Clef’s studio, and then they press it up themselves and shop it to a distributor. As a musician and artist, Wyclef stated he can’t do everything and that’s why he will still shop for distribution. “The distribution game is not what we do,” he clarified. “I don’t want to be in the distribution business, that’s a headache within its own. I’m gonna pay you a fee to get it from here to Japan quicker than me.” The first acts on Clef Records that will require distribution are female rapper Trini Don and Bronx R&B group 3 on 3, whose father is former Harlem Globetrotter Clarence “Mugsy” Leggett. Wyclef boasted how his artists write their own lyrics, which presents their authentic point of view. “They got a whole side of the BX that’s like Motown now,” he said of his crooners’ residence. “That side is not expressed.” One person who Wyclef won’t allow to help express himself is Dylan of the Da Band, who speculated on his future with the hit-making producer. Clef was also featured on “Making of the Band II” giving advice to the young dancehall artist. “You never know what can happen. Wyclef is a big supporter of everything that I do. He co-signed the first song, 'Dear Diddy'” Dylan told AllHipHop.com in a recent interview. “Me and Clef chill every other day if I’m in New York.” While Wyclef did acknowledge the track, he also said it was highly unlikely he would recruit the dancehall artist to his label. “It’s a crazy record,” he admitted. “But my relationship with Puffy—Puffy’s just too powerful. Really powerful. “Then he’s my friend,” Clef added, explaining how Diddy specifically called him and asked him to appear on “Making of The Band II” because he hadn’t had much exposure recently. “I can’t sign Dylan.” Wyclef previously had a deal for his Yclef Records (a different label from Clef Records) imprint through J Records, but the only release was the soundtrack to Dr. Doolittle 2. Wyclef is still signed to J Records and will release his next solo album on the label. No date has been set at press time.
Sisters Of An Elite Sorority
Excerpt from www.essence.com
Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé Knowles are members of an elite sorority: Black women who fill stadiums and go platinum. Their songs tell us to get in control, release the drama, and become independent women. In an era when Black artists seem to own the music, they are the baddest of the bad. Imagine the electricity in the room when we got them together for this historic photo shoot. The chemistry was obvious. Janet, Mary and Beyoncé shared their love for one another as they claimed the moment. That moment was ours as well. “Come on, get up,” Janet commands and everybody stands, sways, dances. Those old enough can remember her rise from plump, pretty girlhood to chiselled, body-beautiful pop goddess with the universe for her stage. Those who are younger took the journey to self-discovery with her. Even today, her triumphs and heartbreaks are still our calendar. If the Super Bowl incident is recorded in our minds, so, too, will be her transcendence of it. Janet basks in her spotlight—glows in it, makes love to it. The power of her artistry keeps us watching and waiting for more of her groundbreaking, risk-taking truth.
Janet on performing and contributing: “At times, performing can be a grind, going from the bus to the hotel, living out of a suitcase. But then it changes. The actual setting up onstage and then getting in front of that audience—it changes at that moment for me. And that has a great deal to do with the audience, the fans. You feel that love and energy, and you want to give something back. I hope I made it easier for the ones coming up. I hope I contributed and made some difference and inspired and held the door open so the newcomers could run through.”
Mary is who Billie Holiday might have become if she had saved herself. There’s a jazzy cadence in her songs, the slight hint of scatting when her notes soar. “No one in this world can make me self-destruct,” she croons. Believe her. Mary’s power is in her words, both spoken and sung. The light of her truth is legendary, as much a part of her as her music. Queen of the Real. But her real is changing, reaching for higher ground. And she wants us all to come to that place of peace she’s moving toward. Follow. She will lead us.
Mary on being with Janet and Beyoncé: “I rarely get to be around women in the music business who are as beautiful as they are but who are not full of themselves. I’m not talking only about physical beauty. I’m talking about their hearts, their perseverance, their personalities, their drive to be successful. These women are confident and humble. Confidence and humility—that’s what’s kept us all working in the music business for a very long time.”
Her voice soars with gospel-girl trills, a high-wailing vibrato that won’t let us loose. Her beauty and smile light up a room, a stage, a screen. She is a woman of contrasts: a down-home sista and a savvy crowd-pleaser; a mama’s and a daddy’s girl and a loving big sister; an independent woman and dangerously in love; a solo act and a team player. Her journey has just begun; her train is bound for evolution.
Beyoncé on visiting South Africa: “I visited South Africa this past November for the Nelson Mandela Foundation AIDS benefit, and I was very affected by the trip. We went to some of the hospitals in the townships, and we saw young kids with AIDS. It was just devastating. It was life-changing. I want to take every celebrity I know to Africa. We have so much power over there to raise more money and to really make a difference.”
To read the entire article, "Triple Platinum," pick up the June issue of ESSENCE.
Message In Our Music
Excerpt from www.essence.com — Diane Weathers
My husband and I have more than 400 CDs in our collection, nearly as many LPs and even some scratchy 45’s I’ve carted around in a battered old record case since sixth grade. Because I am passionate about our rich musical legacy, this month—Black Music Month—I must share how fed up I am by so much of what I see and hear. The hip-hop generation is the pre-eminent force in popular culture worldwide. I’m thrilled that so many of us, onstage and behind the scenes, are getting paid. That was seldom the case back in the day. But it’s costing us dearly. I’m sad that hip-hop’s nasty hard-core edges keep oozing further into the middle, and that so many artists feel that to make a buck they must take the low road, exalting violence, sexual exploitation, materialism and personal irresponsibility. I’m mad at an industry that shamelessly peddles music videos with images of us as gangsters, players or pimps surrounded by half-naked women eager to please. Adults can watch and listen to what they want, but don’t we owe something to hip-hop’s many young fans, Black boys and girls desperate for positive, healthy role models? This seedy business of making money off Black pathology and stereotypes harks back to the days of the minstrel show. For most of the 1800’s, minstrelsy was this country’s dominant form of entertainment. We weren’t gangstas and bitches then. We were Mammy, Sambo, Jim Dandy and Zip Coon. Thinking Black folks despised these gross misrepresentations, but White audiences loved them. “If I could have the nigger show back again in its pristine purity and perfection,” wrote Mark Twain in his autobiography, “I should have but little further use for opera.” No one holds a gun to my head and forces me to sit with my ear to the speakers. I listen because I must. I have a 13-year-old daughter who adores hip-hop culture, and I need to know what she’s taking in. I tell her that much of what’s promoted is not really the way the world is. She tells me, “It’s only words,” and besides, she’s only listening to the beat. I tell her the precise definitions of ho and bitch, why she doesn’t want to be called either, and why she should never refer to boys in her class as pimps, playas or “my niggas.” I want to convince her not to judge a person’s value by the size of his diamonds or the rims on his SUV or the number of times he has taken a bullet. And I try to explain how capitalism works, and that if Snoop Dogg could become rich and appear on the Jay Leno show by making videos about love, romance and the value of a good education, he would do so. It helps to remember that the pendulum eventually swings back. In Inside the Minstrel Mask, Mel Watkins points out that as a result of minstrelsy’s despicable distortions, new African-American art forms evolved in the twentieth century. Out of an opposition to minstrelsy came jazz, the Harlem Renaissance and countless creators and innovators. I am among those looking out for music’s next big inspired wave.
Essence Returns To The Big Easy
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 25, 2004) *It's just about time for the 10th annual Essence Music Festival. This time around it will return to the New Orleans Superdome. The headliner? None other than Prince himself. Essence Communications CEO Ed Lewis predicts that the festival's strong line-up could mean record attendance. He says 190,000 tickets were sold for the 2003 event and that sales for this year's edition are outpacing last year's by 30%. Tickets range between $35 and $125, reports Reuters. "No one comes to New Orleans over July Fourth unless there's a reason," Lewis says, joking about the city's staggering summer heat. "I've been trying to get Prince for many, many years. We feel very wonderful that he'll be headlining on July 2." The show's line-up includes Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, New Edition (without Bobby Brown) and 10-time Essence performer Gladys Knight. Lewis says fest attendees will contribute about $121 million to the city's economy. Including this year's anticipated revenue, he estimates that the event has generated $874 million for New Orleans.
Artists Preach Peace On Olympic Album
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
(May 25, 2004) A cast of international artists have contributed their talents to "Unity," an official Athens 2004 Olympics pop music compilation. The disc features artists representing 15 countries across 16 tracks relating to peace and harmony. Due Aug. 10 from EMI/Capitol Records, the set features Sting, Alice Cooper, Earth Wind & Fire, Lenny Kravitz and Destiny's Child. Proceeds from the album will benefit UNICEF, with EMI Music pledging a minimum donation of $180,000 to the organization's HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Only Canadian pop rocker Avril Lavigne and U.K. rapper Mr. G appear solo on the set, with the former covering Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." The rest of the album is made up of collaborations that stretch across international borders. Jamaican dancehall artist Wayne Wonder joins Neneh Cherry for "Eyes on the Prize," while U.S. rapper/producer Timbaland and singer Kiley Dean mix up "By Your Side" with Japanese artist Utada. Mozambique-born vocalist Mariza and Sting collaborate on "A Thousand Years," and Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir links with American singer/guitarist Kravitz for "We Want Peace." Among the other interesting combinations is "MKLFKWR," a mash-up of music by ever-evolving electronic experimenter Moby and veteran rap act Public Enemy. "The 'Unity' album is so much more than a collection of songs," Athens 2004 president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki says. "It is a message of participation, friendship and peace. As the Olympic flame makes its way around the world for the first truly global torch relay, this album will also be an invitation for people everywhere to join us in the historic homecoming of the Olympic Games to Greece." "Unity" is the first of three official Athens 2004 Olympic Games albums. EMI will also release a classical set, "Harmony," and a Greek album, "Phos," this summer. The Athens games are scheduled to begin Aug. 13 and close Aug. 29. For more information on the games, visit the official Summer Olympics Web site.
Here is the "Unity" track list:
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door," Avril Lavigne
"I Know," Destiny's Child and Will I Am
"By Your Side," Timbaland, Utada and Kiley Dean
"Universal Prayer," Tiziano Ferro and Jamelia
"A Thousand Years," Sting and Mariza
"Going All the Way," Beres Hammond and Les Nubians
"Issues," Mr. G
"Love Together," Earth Wind & Fire and Roots Manuva
"Eyes on the Prize," Wayne Wonder and Neneh Cherry
"We Want Peace," Lenny Kravitz and Kadim Al Sahir
"Oh Yeah," Macy Gray and Keziah Jones
"MKLFKWR," Moby and Public Enemy
"Stand," Alice Cooper and Xzibit
"Everlasting," Grönemeyer, Cheb Mami and Dalaras
"Still Standing," Brian Eno, Skin and Rachid Taha
"Pass the Flame," Trevor Horn, Yiannis, Tarkan and Katia
Rock, Rap Acts Set For 'Mountain Jam'
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(May 25, 2004) Kid Rock, Cypress Hill, Nickelback, Ludacris, Galactic, Our Lady Peace, Lil' Jon and Tha Eastside Boyz and Molotov are the first acts confirmed for the second Coors Light Mountain Jam. The event will be held Aug. 14 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver and will be hosted by comedian Dave Attell. Tickets are $50 and go on sale June 5 via CoorsLight.com. Among the non-musical diversions will be the Coors Light Oasis Deck, complete with a hot tub, and the Coors Light Kasbah, in which select contest winners will get to mingle with the artists. Early entrants to the venue grounds will receive coupons for free food and drink plus Coors-branded t-shirts and hats. The first Coors Light Mountain Jam boasted performances by 50 Cent, the Doors of the 21st Century, Korn, P.O.D., the Roots, Evanescence, Gov't Mule and Toots and the Maytals.
Santana Honoured By Latin Recording Academy
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
(May 25, 2004) Carlos Santana has been named the Latin Recording Academy's 2004 person of the year. The organization will bestow the accolade on the veteran rock guitarist during an Aug. 30 tribute dinner and concert in Los Angeles, two days before the Latin Grammy Awards. "His exceptional talent, expansive body of music, social activism, honesty and wisdom are the qualities that make Santana the epitome and embodiment of [this honour]," Latin Recording Academy president Gabriel Abaroa says. "By recognizing Santana, the Latin Grammy community honours a man who has shown the rare ability to wear his remarkable talent with humility." Santana will be the fifth Latin Recording Academy person of the year honouree, following Gilberto Gil, Vicente Fernandez, Julio Iglesias and Emilio Estefan. The tribute will take place Los Angeles' Century Plaza Hotel and will benefit the Recording Academy's MusiCares Foundation. For ticket and other event information, contact Dana Tomarken at 310.392.3777. The Latin Grammy Awards will take place Sept. 1 at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium and will be broadcast live on CBS.
Beasties Back For Much Awards June 20
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
The Beastie Boys head the list of performers at this year's MuchMusic Video Awards, June 20. The MMVA appearance comes five days after the scheduled release of To The 5 Boroughs, the veteran New York hip-hop trio's first studio album since 1998's Hello Nasty. Also performing at the annual street party/awards telecast are international artists Evanescence, Hilary Duff, Hoobastank and Kanye West, along with a home-grown roster that features Billy Talent, Fefe Dobson, Finger Eleven and Three Days Grace. Montreal rocker Sam Roberts leads all nominees with eight nods, including best video for "Hard Road." Roberts' nearest rival is Streetsville pop/punk band Billy Talent, authors of the hit single "Try Honesty," with six nominations. Joining the list of multiple nominees are Toronto newcomers Pilate with five, Finger Eleven and Nelly Furtado with four each, and Hawksley Workman with three. The long list of double nominees includes mega-sellers Nickelback, 50 Cent and OutKast. The MMVA telecast, to be made available for the first time in HDTV, gets underway with a 90-minute pre-show at 7:30 p.m. More performers and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks. For a full list of nominees and categories, check out http://www.muchmusic.com/mmva
Expat Buys Marley Trove For Jamaica
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter
Once again, Canadian mutual fund tycoon Michael Lee-Chin is putting his money where his roots are. The Jamaican-born entrepreneur has agreed to purchase the world's largest collection of Bob Marley memorabilia and donate the more than 200,000 items to a yet-to-be-established National Museum of Jamaican Music. "The Government of Jamaica is pleased with this singular act of the repatriation of the Marley legacy and looks forward to sharing it with the world," Jamaica's culture minister, Maxine Henry-Wilson, said in an e-mail. "We hail Mr. Lee Chin ... (the acquisition) has offered the Jamaican people another opportunity to revel in the achievement of this cultural icon." She said Marley created an identity for Jamaicans that has helped "increase their perception of themselves and pride in their heritage." Selling the collection is California musicologist Roger Steffens. Reached in Australia where he is promoting Catch A Fire, a Marley film and video biography, Steffens told the Star he will serve as the new museum's curator emeritus. He declined to say how much Lee-Chin paid for his archives, except to say it was "a figure commensurate with 31 years of work." The collection, which Steffens started in 1973, fills six rooms in his L.A. home and includes 12,000 records and CDs, 10,000 posters and flyers and 12,000 hours of tapes. Marley, who died of cancer in 1981, formed the Wailers with friends Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh in the mid-'60s, and the band popularized reggae around the world with inspiring songs about love, spirituality, unity and liberation. The group split up in the early '70s to pursue solo careers and Marley became an international star. Steffens said it took him three months to computerize his Marley inventory, to facilitate negotiations with Lee-Chin's foundation. "I imagine by the end of the summer things will start leaving. My wife says it will probably be the closest I'll come as a man to post-partum depression," he said. Lee-Chin, Burlington-based chair of AIC Ltd., one of Canada's largest mutual fund companies, was not available for comment yesterday. Dubbed Canada's buy-and-hold billionaire for his company credo of "Buy, hold and prosper," he was recently ranked the world's 216th wealthiest person with a net worth of $2.4 billion (U.S.) by Forbes magazine.
Canadian Films Earn Quiet Raves In Cannes
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Kathleen O'hara, Canadian Press
(May 21, 2004) CANNES, France—Instead of a full-scale invasion — barbarian or otherwise — Canada has sent only a few well-armed troops to the Cannes Film Festival, but they seem to be hitting their mark. The most recent to leap from the trenches is Quebec actress and filmmaker Carole Laure's CQ2 Seek You Too, competing in the International Critics' Week. The film, about an angry young woman (played by Laure's daughter Clara Furey) who finds redemption through modern dance, was clearly well liked by Wednesday's audience. "It was so beautiful, emotional and sensual," said French short filmmaker Nina Duchesne. "The feelings were deep, which you could see in their faces, hands and bodies." "I was very impressed by her daughter who is a dancer, not an actress," said Radio Canada's Katia Chapontier. Another major Canadian presence in International Critics' Week has been the courageous and controversial NFB co-production, What Remains Of Us. The result of nine years of dedication and several risky trips to Tibet, the film follows a young Tibetan refugee, Kalsang Dolma, now living in Quebec, as she secretly plays a forbidden video message of the exiled Dalia Lama to Tibetans, some of whom are weeping. This disturbing footage combined with information on the exploitation of Tibet's natural resources by large Western corporations upset one American student so much he was literally shaking when he left the theatre. "I'm upset by my own ignorance of the situation," said David Howell of Tampa. "I thought it was just an issue of Chinese nationalism like Taiwan, but the whole Western world is behind China's domination of Tibet." Co-director François Prévost said audience reaction has been powerful, with many asking what they can do to help. He said two Tibetans appreciated the film so much they returned for the second show. In order to protect the identities of the Tibetans in the film, security has been tight in Cannes. Guards wearing night vision, infrared goggles watched the audiences to make sure no one was secretly filming the documentary for the Chinese authorities. Canada's short animated film entries have also evoked positive and interested response, especially from industry insiders. L'Homme sans ombre, a 9-plus-minute National Film Board/Swiss co-production, tells the Faustian story of a man who gives up his shadow for wealth. Drawing 12 pictures for every second of the film, director Georges Schwizgebel took three years to create what he calls an "animated painting." He says audience members have been quick to ask about his method — and how long it took him to put the beautifully crafted piece together. Ryan, another NFB co-production by director Chris Landreth, is a 3-D computer-animated film about Ryan Larkin, once one of Canada's top animators, now a panhandler. Pleased with the "thunderous applause" his short film received, Landreth said young French filmmakers who are on the cutting-edge of the animation industry have been impressed by the computer graphics, as well as the way the work combines animation and documentary. The only short film in official competition is the NFB's Accordion by Michele Cournoyer. Like L'Homme sans ombre, Cournoyer's six-minute film about a woman who downloads her body and soul to the Internet is the result of tireless drawing. Audience reaction at its premiere Tuesday was enthusiastic. "I love it because it was painted frame by frame," said Shahrokh Golestan, a former filmmaker in Iran now working for the BBC. "It was the only short film that I clapped for." "I always expect something unusual and special from the NFB and this film met my expectations," said Gary Meyer, curator for the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. "It was beautifully rendered, and the visual style was unusual. The stream of consciousness was not unlike going on the Internet."
Truth Wins At Cannes, Says Moore
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere
(May 23, 2004) Michael Moore's feature length documentary attack on the administration of President George W. Bush, Fahrenheit 9/11, took the top prize of the 57th annual Cannes Film Festival last night. "What have you done?," said an overwhelmed Moore when he took the stage to accept the award that culminated a typically awkward and unpredictable, but atypically politicized, four-minute ceremony. At the announcement of the major prize, the Palme d'Or, the tuxedo and evening gown studded crowd stood on its feet and cheered. Looking to jury president Quentin Tarantino, Moore joked, "You did that just to mess with me," before moving on to more serious matters. Admitting that the last six months, during which Fahrenheit 9/11 has been at the centre of a highly publicized dispute with The Walt Disney Company over its distribution future, Moore said, "I have a sneaking suspicion that what you have done will ensure that the American people will see this movie. I can't thank you enough for this. "Many people want the truth put away, put in a closet," he said, "and you have taken it out of the closet." Quoting President Abraham Lincoln, whom he described as "a different kind of Republican president," Moore said, "`Give the people the truth and the republic will be saved.'" Alluding to the U.S. election in November, Moore concluded by saying he wanted to dedicate the next six months to "making sure that those who have died in Iraq have not died in vain." As predicted, the awards granted by Tarantino's jury — which also included the American actress Kathleen Turner, British actress Tilda Swinton, Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark and others — was eccentric in its choices. After providing special Jury Prizes to Irma P. Hall's performance in Joel and Ethan Coen's The Ladykillers and the Thailand-made Tropical Malady, Tarantino's jury awarded the best scenario prize to Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri for Jaoui's Look At Me, best director to Tony Gatlif for Exiles, best male performance to 14-year-old Yagria Yuuya for the Japanese-made Nobody Knows and best actress to Maggie Cheung's performance in the French-Canadian-U.K. co-production Clean. The jury's Grand Prize was awarded to the hyper-slick and violent Korean revenge drama Old Boy. While the presentation of the Palme d'Or provided the climax to a festival that has been considerably more political, both on and off-screen, than most in memory, Moore's comments weren't the only to stir the crowd with rhetoric. Winning a prize for his short film Flatlife, filmmaker Jonas Geirnaert of Belgium, implored the organizers of the festival to make it "more like a film festival and less like a business festival," and left the podium after telling Americans "Don't vote Bush." Later, the president of the jury awarding the prize for best first feature, Tim Roth, endorsed the sentiment and re-stated it. Karen Yedara, an Israeli director whose film Or won the Camera d'Or for first feature, took her time at the podium as an opportunity to castigate the Israeli government for its recent actions in Gaza. Referring to the "condition of slavery" currently being imposed on "three million Palestinians," she said, "I love my country but I want to help Palestinians get what they deserve." The festival concludes tomorrow with a first: A press conference in which Tarantino's jury will discuss their choices and deliberations. Also at Cannes, two short animated films from Canada's National Film Board won four prizes. Chris Landreth's 3D-animated film Ryan won the Kodak Discovery Award, the Young Critic's Prize and the Canal + Prize for Best Short Film, while L'homme sans ombre (Man Without A Shadow) by Georges Schwizgebel won the Young Audience Prize.
Tarnation Harrowing, Hilarious And Touching Film
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere
(May 21, 2004) What with all the dazzling distractions, it's all too easy to forget that the heart of Cannes beats in the dark. It's about the movies. So, without further ado, here's some of what's been screening:
The Assassination Of Richard Nixon: American director Neils Muller's first film takes the true-life story of would-be Nixon assassin and airplane hijacker Sam Bicke — played with impotent rage by Sean Penn — and renders it as a considerably less noir re-staging of Taxi Driver, right down to the deluded narration, mirror scene and splattery bloodbath. Penn is riveting, but the movie feels too small for his performance, and the result is — despite glancing connection to the current geopolitical mood — ordinary.
Bad Education: Pedro Almodovar's newest neo-melodrama is as sinuously constructed, exquisitely articulated and seductively diverting as his last (Talk To Her), but ultimately feels more contrived than honest. Telling the story of the deceit-ridden relationship between two gay men (Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinez) and the priest (Daniel Gimenez-Cacho) who first enters their lives as children at a religious school, it seems like a comparatively minor work by a major filmmaker. But I'd watch it again.
Clean: Olivier Assayas' French-U.K.-Canadian co-production opens on a smashingly Blade Runner-ish vista of Hamilton's industrial harbour, and continues to look smashing for the rest of its running time, even when it leaves Hamilton behind. Ultimately a programmatic melodrama articulated in the director's customarily gorgeous terms, this story of a junkie rock star's attempts to clean up and reclaim the son she virtually abandoned rests less on its style and story than the potency of its performances, which are thankfully strong. Maggie Cheung is convincingly wounded as the heroin-ravaged Emily, but Nick Nolte and Martha Henry give the film its most emotionally anchored moments as the grandparents who are raising her boy.
Consequences Of Love: Paolo Sorrentino's tightly assembled psychological thriller may feel like less than the sum of its impressive parts, but it's compellingly watchable. Featuring a blankly enigmatic central performance by the reptilian Toni Servillo — as a man who lives alone in a hotel and rebuffs all who come near — the movie never fails to please as a smart cinematic puzzle.
Fahrenheit 9/11: The festival's most ready-made controversy not only lived up to its hype but exceeded it. Not only is this baldly polemical rock-the-anti-Bush-vote documentary Michael Moore's most serious, passionate and focused work, it makes its case, whether or not you agree with it, with rigorous conviction. Although the director denied as much at his press conference, the movie seems poised to do precisely what it's so effectively designed to do — which is to negatively influence the possibility of President George W. Bush's re-election chances in November. And who'd have thunk? There's less Michael Moore in it than the President himself. A few laughs, but mostly outright creepy.
House Of Flying Daggers: Zhang Yimou's follow-up to the lavish martial-arts costume epic Hero — due to open soon in Toronto — is more of the same, but that's perfectly all right. A love story told as a kingdom-versus-rebels adventure, it looks eye-poppingly good, features some heart-stopping combat sequences (including possibly the best bamboo-forest fight of them all), and provides a bracing alternative to the kind of computer-generated twaddle that passes for action in so many of our multiplexes these days. Art house eye-candy of the first order.
Innocence: Japanese anime master Mamoru Oshii's follow-up to Ghost In The Shell, 1995's groundbreaking exercise in cartoon-noir cyber-philosophy may not be better than the original, but it comes within a whisker. Utilizing a decade's worth of advances in computer animation to create a grimly post-industrial world that makes you gasp, the movie looks positively amazing. Possibly the most talky anime ever — quoting Descartes, Confucious and Ridley Scott liberally — it's an experience that's both exhausting and exhilarating to watch.
Look At Me: For once, the festival's best-loved and reviewed film deserves all the goodies. Written and directed by Agnes Jaoui, who also performs in it, Look At Me is an ensemble comedy centering on the strained relationship between a phenomenally vain and manipulative middle-aged writer (the superb Jean-Pierre Bacri) and the dowdy daughter (an equally impressive Marilou Berry) who he treats as his life's most unjust inconvenience. So sharply written it's a pleasure just to read the subtitles, the movie is also enormously generous to all its characters — even the loathsome Étienne — while never compromising their faults. On the contrary, it makes everyone look achingly vulnerable. Reassuring, don't you think?
Tarnation: This viewer's personal top fave of this year's festival so far is a compilation of home movies, snapshots and video clips made by a first-time filmmaker suffering from a dissociating psychological syndrome. Although as talked about for its alleged budget — less than $220 (U.S.) — as for its bravura display of originality and assurance, it's the latter qualities that stick with you. Harrowing, hilarious and hugely touching, the proof of Tarnation's rare power lies in the test it just passed: Even here, when the memory is dulled by so much audio-visual bludgeoning, it proved unforgettable.
The Holy Girl: One of this year's more clean-cutting audience splitters, Lucretia Martel's film can hardly be accused of being either ordinary or timid. Set in a run-down hotel where a group of doctors have come for a convention, the movie moves through its initially impenetrable series of subplots — all of which are both sexually and spiritually charged — with the same elliptical agility of its camera moving through the building's halls. Introducing provocative strands it subsequently cuts and following developments whose significance may take the longest time to become clear, it is not a movie for the linearly inclined or impatient. If, however, you're looking for something confident, mysterious and strangely erotic, sign up here.
Film Bites: Nicole Richie And Queen Latifah Projects
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 21, 2004) *Nicole Richie has gone from the "Simple Life" to her first big screen film and Queen Latifah talks about her new "Beauty Shop." Richie, in an effort to help her daddy, Lionel Richie, drum up alimony … just kidding … has signed on for her first movie, a drama called "Kids in America." The film is about a group of diverse children who take on a corrupt school administration. "I play a cheerleader. She's kind of bitchy, but she's wild and cool," Richie told MTV. "Once I got the part, they wrote the role bigger and around me." Meanwhile, Gregory Smith ("Everwood") and Rosanna Arquette co-star in the indie production, which begins shooting this week in Los Angeles. Queen Latifah's upcoming "Beauty Shop" is a spin-off of "Barbershop," but there's no guarantee Calvin or his barbers will be coming around for a cut. "I think Cube is supposed to do something in here somewhere along the way ... but those guys are busy, busy, busy," Latifah said. "It doesn't matter, he's still the producer on it, so he definitely gets love around here." Veteran music video director Bille Woodruff ("Nelly," "Fat Joe"), who's following up his big-screen debut, "Honey," with Latifah's shop hopes to change gears with yet another big screen project. "I want something that's a bit more action-oriented, with not as much hair and makeup," he said. "Maybe blow some stuff up, have a little fight scene. Maybe a comic-book-inspired movie. I love comic books. I have like 5,000 of them at home."
John Singleton Taps Ludacris For "Hustle & Flow"
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(May 19, 2004) Next month in Memphis Tennessee, rapper Ludacris will start filming a new movie called "Hustle & Flow," which is produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Singleton. Singleton expressed excitement about his new movie, which stars Terrence Howard ("Big Momma's House") as a pimp who has a unique problem stemming from the fast life. Singleton revealed to AllHipHop.com. "It's about a hustler, a pimp that has a mid-life crisis at the age of 28. He knows there's no future in being a pimp 'cause he aint even that good of a pimp. So he up and decides he wants to be a rap star." Additional performances come from Anthony Anderson ("Barbershop").DJ Qualls ("Road Trip"), Taryn Manning, ("8 mile") and Taraji Henson ("Baby Boy"). "This film is hot. It's what's going on the dirty South today," Singleton continued. Ludacris will play the role of a local artist that recently struck it rich in the rap game. He comes back to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, looking down on all of the local acts that seek his assistance in getting into the music business, including Howard's pimp/rapper character. Howard is spending time among the local rap community in Memphis, hoping to give an air of authenticity to his role. Meanwhile, Ludacris was tapped to play a character to bring a bit more humour to the movie. "Ludacris plays a cat that has some new money," Singleton said. "He comes back to town and is an a**hole. He's one of them ni**as that been to Europe and thinks he's seen the world and he's just a basic artist, but everyone wants to get put on by him." The movie is being shot over a four-week period on a budget of $2.8 million dollars and will be directed by Craig Brewer. Brewer directed "The Poor and Hungry," also shot in Memphis and eventually won the best Digital Feature Award at the 2000 Hollywood Film Festival. "Hollywood doesn't know what to do with these kinds of movies," Singleton added. "We had to do it independent. I hope this movie does for the South what 'Boyz-n-the Hood' and 'Baby Boy' did for Los Angeles. Terrance Howard plays the pimp. Anthony Anderson plays the church going married man trying to help him make a record. It's funny and dramatic like all my films and gonna be an instant hood classic." The accompanying soundtrack will be released on Ludacris' DTP imprint and will feature performances by Ludacris, 36 Mafia, Al Kapone, Frayser Boy and other local Memphis acts. Singleton said he is aiming to have "Hustle & Flow" in theatres in Spring of 2005.
Seinfeld Teams Up With Superman
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(May 22, 2004) NEW YORK (AP) — Seinfeld and Superman are together again for another adventure. Jerry Seinfeld and the superhero are co-starring in a second online short film, titled Hindsight Is 20/20, which premiered Thursday afternoon. It's available on the American Express Web site alongside the first short they did together, A Uniform Used to Mean Something, which debuted in March. In this new four-minute film, again co-written by Seinfeld and directed by Barry Levinson, Superman and Seinfeld go on a road trip to Death Valley, Calif., in one of the comedian's classic cars. Once they get there, a tourist pesters the Man of Steel with questions about the Green Lantern. Then the duo realizes that Superman locked the keys in the car. "I love taking road trips and thought it would be fun to invite Superman along for the ride," the 50-year-old Seinfeld joked. "I'm sure he misses a lot of scenic spots when flying at super speed." "Hindsight is 20/20," launches exclusively at http://www.americanexpress.com/jerry.
Gummy Gets To Tell Pierre To `Sit'
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rita Zekas
(May 22, 2004) Faster than an approaching deadline. More powerful than a caffeinated paparazzi. It's Margot Kidder, Super Granny, able to tend to vigorous grandchildren in a single bound. Yes, it's Margot Kidder, Superman's girlfriend, snoopy reporter Lois Lane. Margot Kidder, who dated Pierre Elliot Trudeau, ran with a fast crowd in Hollywood and became tabloid fodder when she was found dazed and confused in Los Angeles — pre-Anne Heche. Kidder is now luxuriating in her life in Livingston, Montana, and commuting to work in such gigs as a 10-month stint doing eight shows a week in Vagina Monologues across North America; co-starring with Andie MacDowell in the film The Last Sign; shooting the Mary Higgins Clarke mystery I'll Be Seeing You; and playing a hockey mom in Chicks With Sticks Monday at 9 p.m. on The Movie Network. In Chicks, former Olympic hockey hopeful Paula Taymore (Jessalyn Gilsig) challenges the men's beer-league champs to a hockey match against a women's team and really shakes things up in the sleepy Alberta town of Okotoks. It is directed by Kari Skog-land (Men With Guns) and sounds not unlike Men With Brooms. "I hope they change the title — when I Google it I get a lot of porn sites, which is disconcerting," says Kidder over the phone from Livingston, where she is babysitting her 2 1/2-year-old grandson, Charlie. "We can talk while Charlie is helping me make an omelette." Her granddaughter, Maisie, 5, has gone for a sleepover. They are her daughter Maggie's kids. Maggie's father is Kidder's ex, writer Tom McGuane. Maggie also married a writer, Walter Kirn, from Montana. They are now divorced but Maggie and the kids conveniently live three blocks away from Kidder. "It was a pure joy filming Chicks, I love it to pieces," states Kidder, life-long supporter of the Montreal Canadiens. "I'm a pushy hockey mom/grand mom who insists on telling Paula how to play the game. Maggie says, `I wonder why they cast you?' "They offered me the role and I didn't have to read much. I'm a big hockey fan. Hey, it's hockey, women skating and I decided to do it before I even finished the script." Kidder was born in Yellowknife, NWT, grew up in Quebec, Vancouver and Labrador City, where she played pick-up hockey. "In those days, girls didn't do that," she points out. "Maisie is a diva, an actress, and this little guy is going to be my hockey player. I want him to be a forward for the Montreal Canadiens. When I was up in Calgary doing Chicks, I went to Canadian Tire and bought whole outfits, teeny tiny full hockey gear for two-year-olds plus skates. I bought a skating rink contraption and filled it with water. He said it was too `slippy.' He calls his helmet his hockey hat." And he calls his doting grandmother "Gummy." "My granddaughter calls me `Gammy,'" Kidder chuckles in her distinctive guttural. "Maisie's been watching figure skating on TV. She's in her pink phase and I bought her a pink lace twirly-whirly skirt. "It's a wonderful gift, being a grandmother; you get to be the wise one. Who would have guessed I'd turn into Gummy? Maggie is at the gym and I get Charlie and it suits me to a T. My dog is eyeing Charlie's omelette as we speak." Kidder just wrapped Robson Arms, a 13-part series for CTV shot in Vancouver. "It's a beautifully written script," she says. "It's about an apartment building in the West End of Vancouver and you get a voyeuristic look at all the apartments and interactions. I play a kinda wacky woman my age (55) who is kinda out of control. In one episode, I end up having a romance with this young guy in his 20s, played by Fred Ewanuick (Corner Gas). He is a hilarious, wonderful actor. I'm so not interested in romance, I can't tell you. It is a great blessing of getting older." And she has her dogs, Pierre and Zelda. "Pierre's namesake (Trudeau) would be horrified that he turned into the biggest goofiest dog. Pierre was dignified, shy and quiet and it seems appropriate I get to go, `Pierre, sit.'" Pierre is now battling with Charlie over a Fruit Roll-Up. "Charlie," she warns, "that's a boy, keep it off the floor, there's dog hair on the floor." Alas, her Robson Arms character leaves her husband, but Kidder refuses to go gracefully. "I'm fiddling away at my computer with an episode in which my character comes back," she says. "I told the producers and they said go for it." Kidder, who made her film debut in Norman Jewison's Gaily Gaily, has played everything from Eliza Doolittle to Peter O'Toole's Henry Higgins in Showtime's Pygmalion to a chain-smoking bitch on wheels in Boston Common. "I work pretty regularly and it's a triumph at my age. I've been as lucky as all get-out. "In Montana, I have coffee, walk the dogs, do breathing exercises and usually go for a hike. Did you see the movie The River Runs Through It? I live there; it is kind of like paradise. It's a town full of environmentalists, painters and writers: Writers because it's cheap and painters because of the light. I have a better life here than in L.A. — except that politically the U.S. is so disgusting right now. My friends say, `You're Canadian, you can leave.' I can't. My daughter and grandkids live here." Like her sister Annie, a Toronto theatre director, she is an outspoken political animal. "I have a bumper sticker that says, `Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot.' The kids next door scratched it off. The kids are 18 years old and in the national reserve. The father is in the Marines."
Reality Bites Canada
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alexandra Gill
Can you imagine Justin Trudeau handing out roses to a Roughriders cheerleader? Or how about Don Cherry getting a makeover from a team of gay fashion consultants? For the past few years, Canadians have watched in rapt attention as reality TV slunk its way onto the tube. Sure, we tuned in to cheer on Donald Trump when he finally fired the evil Omarosa, and to laugh at Paris Hilton terrorizing well-fed farm boys. For the most part, however, we could hold our heads high and tell ourselves this was just another big, fat, obnoxious trend tempting us from afar. Other than Ben Mulroney and his merry Canadian Idols, reality was not the type of television we were very good at making. Well, take another bite of that maggot meat pie and give your head a shake. All three national Canadian networks are now mucking about in the reality trenches — with a combination of domestically produced and American shows — plunging in with more gusto than a Fear Factor contestant in a vat of snakes.
CanWest Global Television recently announced its fall and winter season of Canadian programming. All seven new Canadian series — every single one — are reality shows, including a made-in-Canada version of The Block, a home-renovation/Apprentice hybrid originally formatted in Australia. Last week, CTV announced its summer line-up. The second season of Canadian Idol returns on June 1, followed by more American-made reality than ever. A whopping 10 of the 11 series being launched next month by the network are reality programs. Of those, CTV's four new shows include such entries as Mark Burnett's The Casino, produced by Fox, and MTV's Pimp My Ride. Even CBC Television is getting in on the game with The Greatest Canadian contest (a knock-off of the BBC's Greatest Briton); a new reality miniseries about reincarnation that follows a group of sceptics and believers through past-life regressions; plus an original hockey Survivor-type contest from Vancouver's Network Entertainment. Making the Cut, a tryout challenge for six spots at an NHL training camp, will be broadcast on the public network this fall. The tribal council has spoken. Canadians have no immunity. "Soon we'll have Fear Factor in Newfoundland. The contestants will be put in a tank with a 100-pound cod until there's only one left," jokes John Parikhal, the CEO of Joint Communications Corp., a leading consultant on media strategy and consumer trends, who predicts even more reality ahead, at least in the medium term.
The onslaught of reality is no laughing matter to most Canadian producers, writers and actors. "They're taking the bottom line to heart," says Chris Haddock, the Vancouver writer-producer and creator of the CBC series Da Vinci's Inquest. Haddock doesn't think all reality shows are bad, explaining that "some are just a game show in disguise." But he has no doubt that the rise of reality is to blame for the corresponding decline of continuing Canadian drama series: While the networks were airing 11 Canadian-made hour-long prime-time dramas in 1999, by the 2003-04 season there were only six, two of which are not returning. The networks make no apologies. "Who cares how much things cost, as long as you're getting people to watch them?" counters Loren Mawhinney, Global TV's vice-president of Canadian productions. "The hardest thing for broadcasters is trying to get viewers' attention in this really crowded marketplace." Mawhinney says Global's fall line-up is an audience pleaser. "Reality shows are the new comedies," says Mawhinney, who anticipates a hit with The Temps, which will get its yuks by playing pranks on an unsuspecting group of office schmucks. Last Chance for Romance, a new Global show in which Canadian couples are sent to a Sandals resort in the Caribbean to work out their relationships, is bound to be just as hilarious, although probably for unintended reasons. Susanne Boyce, CTV president of programming, agrees that reality is popular, especially with younger viewers: "Reality works because there's ownership, there's some sort of payoff. Voting is fun." Still, Haddock argues that broadcasters have, if not a responsibility, then at least a long-term interest in raising the bar. "The lens of drama can cut through a lot of noise," he says, "particularly in these times when the individual voices of countries should be heard, and not drowned out by the tide of American culture." Boyce, whose network has just received CTF certification to renew The Eleventh Hour and DeGrassi: The Next Generation, agrees that it's important to have drama in CTV's programming mix. Thirteen of the top 20 shows in the latest Bureau of Broadcast Measurement rankings for were dramas, she notes. Reality shows accounted for only five. "Reality simply provides another sandbox for producers to play in," says Boyce. CTV's summer schedule might be heavy on reality, but Boyce says that's because she's trying to keep the line-up fresh when most dramas and sitcoms are into reruns. "I certainly wouldn't want five Canadian Idols," says Boyce, noting that the CTV summer schedule also includes five original Canadian films. Whatever package it comes in, the reality genre is with us for the long haul. There's no point in bemoaning it, says consultant Parikhal, whose job is to look out for TV trends, and who predicted reality's ascent 15 years ago. "In a time-shifting, instantly recordable world, the only thing that matters is live radio and TV," he says. "When you can get whatever you want, whenever you want it, the only thing that has an urgency to it is something like a sporting event or reality TV." Creating a Survivor might be cheaper than investing in a Friends or ER. But Parikhal says reality TV also meets a deeper need. "As much as we hold ourselves up to a higher order — and this is especially true in the politically correct environs of Canada — we really are all gossips and judgers. ..... We all have that dark part of ourselves, the id, and a need to explore it." At one time, he explains, soap operas were the perfect place to escape and project those fantasies. "Reality TV, if it's produced well, is a soap opera on bad drugs," says Parikhal. "You can scold the villains, cheer for your heroes, be negative and, most importantly, talk to people about it at work." In fact, one thing that irks many people in the Canadian TV industry is that, until now, most broadcasters haven't even tried creating original reality programs that might be successfully exported. "There's no risk, no gamble, no investment," says Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers' Union of Canada. "They're just purchasing formats from other countries." Although History Television has had some success with its "living history" programs (most notably the original, 1999 entry, Pioneer Quest), Making the Cut could be the first breakout Canadian hit. You can't get much more Canadian than hockey. And this is the first reality series to enter the realm of professional sports. The CBC, Reseau des Sports (the French-language sports channel, which will broadcast the series in French) and the show's sponsor, Bell Canada, are hoping the tryout challenge might turn into a franchise. "It could be an interesting examination of the hopes and dreams of a bunch of Canadians," says Haddock. "Hockey seems to be one of the areas we put a lot of stake into. It might have dramatic interest."
CBC, which outbid Global for the rights to the independently produced series, is certainly placing a lot of stake in reality. They've even hired their own reality guru, Pia Marquard, as the director of program development. The Dane has worked for public broadcasters all over the world, including Sveriges in Sweden, where, in 1997, she created a show called Expedition Robinson, otherwise known as the original Survivor. Making the Cut doesn't come under Marquard's domain, but her role is to inject new reality-style techniques into all sorts of programming. The first show she oversaw was a two-part series called Raging Hormones, in which "ToolGirl" Mag Ruffman plopped herself in the midst of two Canadian families coping with unruly teens. "The CBC is always accused of being staid," Slawko Klymkiw, executive director of network programming, told The Globe and Mail three months before the show aired in March. "We're trying to do something different." For the CBC, he and Marquard envisioned something more sophisticated: "Constructive observational documentary," he called it. Writing in The Globe and Mail, Andrew Ryan called Marquard's first outing "an embarrassment" that provided "wincing evidence of why Canada should stay out of the reality-TV racket altogether. ... There is no real point or structure to Raging Hormones, it's just snapshots of acrimonious encounters between family members." At the same time, Boyce argues that making such knockoffs as Canadian Idol is actually a bigger gamble than creating something new. "You have to be better than the American version because Canadians can compare the two," she says. "The expectations are huge." That the program drew huge ratings, as did CTV's Canadian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, proves to her that Canadian reality can be made well. Still, she believes there are certain types of reality that will translate better than others in Canada. Canadian Idol or Amazing Race, for example, are very good-natured, she notes. "They fit our Canadian sensibilities. There's competition, but nobody wants anybody to die." Except, perhaps, the fans of Canadian drama, many of whom wouldn't mind knocking the toupee off Donald Trump's head and telling him, and all of reality TV, "You're fired."
Wins Best Talk Show
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press
(May 21, 2004) New York — Ellen DeGeneres' program won best talk show Friday in its rookie year, but Wayne Brady won the Daytime Emmy award as best talk show host even though his program has been cancelled. The Ellen DeGeneres Show's lighthearted blend of talk and music, coupled with the comedian's role as the voice of Dora in Finding Nemo, capped a comeback for a career that stalled after she came out as a lesbian. After kissing her mother, Betty, she thanked television executives who convinced station managers across the country that people still wanted to see her on TV. "I have fun every day," said DeGeneres, whose show won three other technical awards. "It's the best job I ever had." In what had to be bittersweet, Brady was honoured as best talk show host for the second straight year even though production had been stopped on his program for poor ratings. He wasn't at Radio City Music Hall to accept his trophy. Brady beat stars whose shows were more successful, including Dr. Phil McGraw, Regis Philbin, DeGeneres and the women from the View. The legendary Anthony Geary of General Hospital won his fourth best actor award in a daytime drama. It seemed to take him by surprise, as he said fellow nominee Eric Braeden "was robbed." "If I thought I had a shot at this I would have had someone do my hair," said Geary, whose gray locks spiked in all directions. Michelle Stafford of The Young and the Restless won best actress in a daytime drama. Her character, Phyllis, had to deal with a son taken away from her at childbirth reappearing as a teenager. "I want to accept this in honour of all those kids who thought they were freaks in school and didn't fit in," said Stafford, who said she was a kindred spirit. The Young and the Restless was honoured as best daytime drama for the sixth time. The soap opera won a total of four Daytime Emmys this year. Bob Barker won best game show host for the lucky 13th time and his show, The Price is Right, won its fourth award as best game show since coming on the air in 1972. Barker was not in New York on Friday. Convicted felon Martha Stewart's year got a little lousier. She lost the Emmy for best service show, an award she's won four times, the same week Martha Stewart Living was placed on hiatus with its star facing a possible prison sentence. Stewart was in the audience. Financial adviser Suze Orman won the award. "For the first time in my life, I am seriously speechless," Orman said. Al Roker, Meredith Vieira and Emeril Lagasse joined in an off-key musical tribute to Sesame Street on its 35th anniversary. The children's show is the most-honoured program in Daytime Emmy history, with 91 awards, and won another six during the creative and craft awards presentation last week. Rick Hearst of General Hospital and Cady McClain of As the World Turns won awards for best supporting actors in a soap opera during the ceremony, televised on NBC. Chad Brannon of General Hospital won best younger actor in a daytime drama, and Jennifer Finnigan of The Bold and the Beautiful won best younger actress for the third year in a row. Jeff Corwin of the Discovery Kids show Jeff Corwin Unleashed was honoured as best performer in a children's series. The Emmys are awarded by the National Television Academy and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Fox Trots Out New Shows Anytime
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - David Bauder, Associated Press
(May 21, 2004) NEW YORK—Fox is launching its new series in June, August, November and January this year — nearly every month but the traditional September start of the television season. The critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged comedy Arrested Development has been renewed, and Fox will shift two of its most popular dramas: The O.C. will move to Thursday nights in November, and 24 will shift to Monday in January, the network announced yesterday. Fox has long been using a year-round scheduling strategy, with new series launching all the time instead of just in September. That's partly out of belief that viewers' habits and expectations have changed, and partly because Fox's prime time schedule is pre-empted for baseball in October. So yesterday Fox released three separate future schedules: one for June to October, another for November to January and another for January to June. The network previously announced it was debuting five new series next month, as its rivals essentially shut down for reruns. They include Method And Red, a comedy starring rappers Method Man and Redman, and the Mark Burnett-produced reality series, Casino. The second visit to Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's odd world, The Simple Life 2: Road Trip, also will premiere in June. In November, House, described as a medical mystery series, makes its debut. Three new reality series premiere in November, all of them familiar to fans of the genre:
Burnett, who is producing a boxing reality series for NBC, has grumbled about Fox nicking his idea with The Next Great Champ, which has Oscar De La Hoya looking for boxing talent.
With The Billionaire: Branson's Quest For The Best, Virgin airline founder Richard Branson follows Donald Trump's as a rich guy looking to give away a golden apple on TV.
The Partner also takes a page from The Apprentice, matching a team of Ivy Leaguers against "street smart" lawyers looking for a job in a major firm.
Fox will premiere three new dramas and three new comedies in January, including a sketch show that has Kelsey Grammer as "presenter". Seth MacFarlane will also produce a new cartoon, American Dad. Next summer, he'll start making new episodes of Family Guy, which Fox once cancelled and has now revived.
Canadian Series And Our Obsession With Celebrity And Makeovers
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon
Here's the basic formula: 1. Take a "regular" person. 2. Transform them into a "celebrity." 3. Pray that "people" watch. Look-A-Like (Star!, 8:30 p.m. tonight) is a new, six-episode Canadian series that hopes to tap into our obsession with celebrity and makeovers. Created, produced, and hosted by Canadian artist/model Moe Kelso, Look-A-Like is a new, six-episode Canadian series that hopes to tap into our obsession with celebrity and makeovers. Look-A-Like is new. It's Canadian. It's hosted by Moe Kelso. And it hopes to tap into our obsession with celebrity and makeovers. Do not adjust your page. The top of this column, you see, now gives you a good sense of the inane and repetitious nature of the show, a half-hour of tumbleweed drifting in no particular direction. I have to watch this stuff. You, well, you could watch paint dry. You could count imaginary sheep. You could remove lint from your dryer vent. You could mow your lawn. Hell, you could mow my lawn. I'm quite certain you would find any of these activities to be more lively and entertaining and fulfilling in the not-so-grand scheme of things. In tonight's premiere, Kathy Lazenby, a reticent mother, is "transformed" into Anna Nicole Smith, a crazy mother. This begins a few minutes after we meet some other oddballs who believe they are jaw-dropping doppelgangers for such stars as Rob Lowe, Keanu Reeves, Courteney Cox Arquette, Jamie Lee Curtis, and The Artist Known As Prince Again. Anyway, that's the show. Seriously. That's it. Unlike Fox's Performing As, which aired last summer, Look-A-Like has no competition, no prize, no talent, no real point. I suppose a Canadian tax credit only goes so far. Producers seem to think that viewers will tune in to watch "regular people" undergo "an extensive makeover" to be transformed into such stars as Smith, Sarah Jessica Parker, Paris Hilton, Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek and Halle Berry. But in this age of the Extreme Surgical Make-Over, with shows like The Swan nipping, tucking, slicing, and dicing participants into unrecognizable Afters, Look-A-Like comes across as a silly game of dress-up. With the bar raised (or, perhaps, lowered), most prime-time viewers simply have no interest in watching Hollywood stylists primp and preen an unknown housewife for some goofy photo shoot. We watch as Lazenby — who, strangely, thinks she looks more like the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines than Anna Nicole, when she looks like neither — gets her nails glossed, hair straightened, makeup perfected, wardrobe recalibrated. The conversations between Lazenby and the show's "exceptional style team" are hardly exceptional; watching this show is not dissimilar to sitting in the waiting room of a suburban salon. Look-A-Like also serves as an extended infomercial for the celebrity. So as Lazenby sits mutely, her face imprinted with a suitably bored expression, we are occasionally treated to a some Anna Nicole pics and info boxes. Hey. In 1984, after she left her husband, Smith began "performing in strip clubs under the names Nikki and Robin before choosing the name Anna Nicole." Fascinating! As with most shows belonging to the regrettable celebrity-reality subgenre, there is a mind-numbing excess of B-roll — quick cuts in the make-over room, tight shots of hair being styled, pointless segues to pointless interviews. At one pointless point, while waiting to see what her new hair looks like, Lazenby remarks, "The suspense is killing me." She says this with the enthusiasm of a funeral director. When she's finally made over, she enters a room to raving "whoas!" and "wows!" from the exceptional style team. Does she look like Anna Nicole? Sure. And I'm the spitting image of Dick Cheney. Tellingly, when asked how she feels in her new get-up, Lazenby says, "Uncomfortable." In an admirable but doomed effort to breathe some tension into the stale proceedings, we hear a narrator say the big question is if Lazenby can come out of her shell and become more like the outrageous Anna Nicole. No, the big question is when are you coming over to mow my lawn? People, there are weeds everywhere.
Familiar Faces For CBS Fall Line-Up
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press
(May 20, 2004) NEW YORK—CBS is offering Rob Lowe as a doctor, Jason Alexander as a writer and John Goodman as a family patriarch in series to debut this fall. The network will also set up a battle of the franchises, pitting its spin-off series CSI: NY against NBC's Law & Order on Wednesday at 10 p.m. CBS, the most popular network this season, will introduce three dramas and two comedies, it was announced yesterday. Alexander will be the latest Seinfeld alum to try to succeed in a new comedy. In Listen Up, he'll play a character based on Washington Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser. The show was placed on CBS's successful Monday night comedy line-up. Lowe, who failed last year as a lawyer in NBC's short-lived The Lyon's Den, will play a doctor at a Las Vegas casino in Dr. Vegas. "It's a traditional medical show during the day and during the night, he sleeps with chorus girls and gambles," said CBS chairman Leslie Moonves. "What could go wrong with that?" In Center of the Universe, Goodman is a security company owner with Ed Asner playing his father, Olympia Dukakis his mother and Jean Smart his wife. CBS is cancelling the dramas Hack, The District and The Guardian. The comedy Yes, Dear is off the schedule, but CBS has ordered 13 episodes for a midseason replacement. After trying to build an audience with dramas on Saturday nights, CBS will save money on that night by programming the newsmagazine 48 Hours Mysteries, the reality show The Amazing Race and reruns of one of the CSI shows.
Despite Regular Work In Hollywood, Canucks Lured Home
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Bawden, TV Columnist
(May 24, 2004) They are two of America's hottest young TV actors with a string of top-notch credits. Jessalyn Gilsig has co-starred on Boston Public and just finished a stint on NYPD Blue and is currently filming new episodes of her hit series Nip/Tuck. Jonathan Scarfe has co-starred on ER, guested on NYPD Blue and this past season played Jesus in the ABC TV movie Judas. But both insist what they really crave are opportunities to come home and make quality Canadian TV. Now both star in new homegrown TV movies. Gilsig's film premieres tonight at 9 on The Movie Network. It's Chicks With Sticks, an engaging look at a bunch of women in Okotoks, Alta., who take on the men in a hockey grudge match. "I got the script from my Los Angeles agent and I immediately knew I wanted to do this," says Gilsig. "I told my agent to see if it still was open and I added that I could skate, because that must be a plus." It was filmed in bitter winter conditions just outside Calgary. She brushed up at skating classes in Los Angeles and says "I was surprised so many women skate in L.A. Some play hockey. There are rinks everywhere." A little like her hometown, perhaps. Gilsig was born in Montreal, has been acting since age 12 and graduated from Harvard's American Repertory Theatre in 1995. She moved to New York and into off-Broadway productions, appearing in movies such as The Horse Whisperer and A Cooler Climate. She played an assistant D.A. on The Practice and clearly caught producer David E. Kelley's eye. He specifically wrote a part for her as teacher Lauren Davis in his series Boston Public. He used her again in Snoops but the show got cancelled before her episodes aired. Gilsig says Chicks With Sticks was made like an independent movie. "Very fast. Very efficient. The director, Kari Skogland, knew what she wanted and was a great team leader. "We shot the hockey scenes in the middle of the night — that was the only time the arena wasn't booked ... I felt I had jet lag all the time." Elsewhere in small-town Alberta, Scarfe's CTV movie on tomorrow night at 9 — Burn: The Robert Wraight Story — casts him as the rural man who took on environmentalist preacher Wiebo Ludwig (played by Scarfe's real-life father, Alan Scarfe). "I was cast first," Scarfe admits. "We waited awhile to see who'd play Wiebo. Dad read my script and was helping me and I knew he'd be great." There is a real Wraight, but Scarfe reports the two only met briefly "one day on the set when he was furtively brought in. He's in hiding under a witness protection plan. I didn't want to copy his mannerisms. To me the character is an everyman, representing all those people out there who have strong feelings about the environment." Scarfe says his shoot was "quite fast even for television ... It felt weird, my first scene with dad. But I had no time to be nervous." Scarfe was born in Toronto, started acting as a teenager. He got a Gemini nomination for the TV movie The Morrison Murders when he was just 21 and won the 1999 prize for the title role in The Sheldon Kennedy Story He's since done everything from guest shots to a seven-episode arc as Noah Wyle's character’s cousin Chase Carter on ER. For all that, Scarfe had never acted with his father, though he says "when he was at Stratford I rearranged some furniture but he did all the acting." A rare misstep for the young actor was the recent Judas (filmed in 2001) casting Scarfe as a blond dude of a Jesus. Scarfe reveals he disagreed with director Charles Robert Carner about the accent — the rest of the cast spoke in British tones. Critics dubbed it "The Grooviest Story Ever Told." Scarfe is doing more religious-themed work — he's shooting a new theatrical movie in Kentucky, playing Mormon founder Joseph Smith — but says his Canadian work usually offers him more variety. "In Burn I'm cast for the first time as a husband and a father, which I am in reality." Gilsig is back at Nip/Tuck but says "of course" she's available for Canadian projects. "My father (in Montreal) always asks why I'm not doing something there," she laughs. "If it's as good as Chicks With Sticks I'm ready."
New Roster Of Shows
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 21, 2004) *UPN has restructured its Fall 2004 schedule to try and compensate for the loss of its longtime ratings puller "The Parkers" by pulling in heavyweights from the big screen. Taye Diggs (Brown Sugar, The Best Man) will get his own show along with real-life couple Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker (Soul Food, Brown Sugar). Diggs will star as a 28-year-old hot shot single lawyer who unexpectedly inherits his cousin's baby in "Kevin Hill." Kodjoe and Parker are a couple who have decided to give their relationship one more try by getting remarried in the comedy "Second Time Around." Another show in the line-up will be produced by Hollywood producer Joel Silver (The Matrix) called "Veronica Mars." The line-up is designed to retain the millions of young adult viewers that have tuned in over the years as well as add new distinctive shows and celebs that will expand the viewer market already established by the network. "Veronica Mars," stars up-and-coming Kristen Bell (Everwood) as an intelligent and fearless 17-year-old, apprentice private investigator devoted to solving her town's mysteries. In addition to the fiction, UPN has announced a new reality series by Missy Elliott, that will include thirteen aspiring performers on a coast-to-coast concert tour with Elliott. They will live together on the road in a tour bus and compete against each other for the opportunity to become the next big hip-hop star.
Robert Townsend Meets MBC
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 21, 2004) *Robert Townsend is known for his silliness, but he's also known for trying to keep with the unspoken "Bill Cosby" code of ethics in his projects. Thursday, Townsend along with MBC owners: Network Chairman and CEO, Willie E. Gary, four-time heavy-weight champion, Evander Holyfield, baseball slugger, Cecil Fielder, legendary Jackson 5 member, Marlon Jackson and broadcast veteran, Alvin James. In addition to the aforementioned, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus along with its members came together at the National Press Club to detail the work that Townsend will generate for the fledgling network. The core programming for the network will continue to show the owners unwavering commitment to redefine television by producing innovative and engaging family-friendly programs for black America. Townsend spoke about his vision and quest to find rising stars (actors/actresses, writers, directors, musicians) for new programming that will air on MBC Network this fall.
Cry Freedom - Nelson Mandela
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Andrew Ryan
(May 22, 2004 ) There's little question Nelson Mandela has lead an astounding life. It only becomes clear how astounding after seeing it condensed in a TV profile. The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela, written and directed by Robin Benger for the CBC Documentary Unit, runs two hours and even then it's a squeeze. It starts by examining Mandela's humble roots: He was born in Transkei, South Africa, in 1918. His father, Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe, died in poverty while his son was still young. At the age of 16, while undergoing a rite of manhood ritual alongside other young South African men, Mandela was told, "We are a defeated people." He never accepted the pronouncement. The program follows Mandela's erratic early years. He moved to Johannesburg in his teens, attended university and later joined a law practice. Mandela was a proud and unrepentant South African with a burning political bent. Mandela's life found meaning when he joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944. Five years later, white South Africans voted the National Party into power, which established apartheid, a regime that segregated blacks and whites. As chronicled in the program, Mandela was deemed an enemy of the state in the early '60s. He went underground and lived under assumed identities. The government formally charged him with treason, although he was acquitted. In 1962 Mandela was arrested for illegally leaving the country and inciting strife. He was sentenced to five years in the harshest prison in the land. A year later, while still in prison, Mandela was charged with plotting to overthrow the government by means of violence, along with some of his former ANC compatriots. At their trial the eight men were given life sentences. There is obviously scant footage from the next three decades in Mandela's life, save for a single clip of Mandela, scowling in the prison yard, from 1977. Outside the prison, his second wife, Winnie, fought to keep the ANC vision of a democratic South Africa alive and was arrested for her trouble. During the 27 years Mandela spent in prison, global resentment festered over his incarceration and the government's apartheid policies. Mandela once turned down a conditional pardon. When he was released from prison, it was on his own terms. A year later he was swept in as president of the ANC, which effectively meant the end of apartheid. It also initiated Mandela's reconfiguration of a "new" South Africa. The second hour of the profile deals with Mandela's years leading his nation. There is rightful homage to his accomplishments (including winning the Nobel Peace Prize), but also attention paid to lingering problems, such as the fact that nearly 20 million South Africans live in poverty. Or the fact the country is in midst of a staggering AIDS crisis with more than 400 citizens dying daily. Somehow the gap between the rich and poor now is greater than during the apartheid years. While the TV profile isn't entirely flattering, there is little question that Mandela's legacy remains intact. He will be remembered always as the man who restored freedom and dignity to his own people. For all his human shortcomings, Nelson Mandela will forevermore be one of history's great leaders.
Brad Fraser Opens Factory Season
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Robert Crew, Arts Writer
(May 21, 2004) A couple of intriguing new plays and the revival of a brace of George F. Walker hits will help launch Factory Theatre on its 35th, all-Canadian season in 2004-05. The season, announced yesterday, gets underway with the North American premiere of a work by the ever-controversial Brad Fraser (Unidentified Human Remains). Cold Meat Party, opening Sept. 30 on Factory's Mainstage, is a sophisticated piece set in an English drawing room, with a variety of characters who have gathered for a writer's funeral. It will be staged by Braham Murray, who also directed the original production at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, England (to somewhat mixed reviews). There's already quite a buzz about Bigger Than Jesus, the Rick Miller/Daniel Brooks collaboration that opens Nov. 18 on the Mainstage in a co-production with Necessary Angel. This witty, multimedia offering, starring Miller and directed by Brooks, delighted audiences in Calgary and Edmonton during its development phase. Playwright Claudia Dey returns with her latest, called Trout Stanley, directed by Eda Holmes and starring Gordon Rand, Melody Johnson and Michelle Giroux. Billed as a tense, erotic piece rife with comedy and surprise, it opens Jan. 6 on the Mainstage. The Leisure Society, by Quebec playwright François Archambault, opens April 23 on the Mainstage with Factory's Ken Gass directing. The play explores the emotional crisis (during a dinner party) of a 30-something couple who appears to have everything. May sees the welcome return of Walker's Adult Entertainment and End Of Civilization, two of the six plays in Walker's remarkable Suburban Motel cycle. The plays, which will be presented in repertory, premiered during Factory's 1997-98 season. The opening, again on the Mainstage, is May 11. The final work is yet another Chekhov exploration by Theatre Smith-Gilmour, the company whose recent trilogy based on Chekhov's short stories premiered at Factory. This time around, Dean Gilmour, Michele Smith and company will look at the world through the eyes of the young people in Chekhov's writings. Chekhov's Children opens April 30 in Factory's Studio Theatre. Tickets and passes are now on sale at 416-504-9971.
Canstage Dominate Dora Nominations
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Robert Crew, Arts Writer
(May 20, 2004) Dora has made producers of The Producers gay. In the old-fashioned sense of "happy," that is. Mirvish Productions has received 13 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations for its mounting of the Mel Brooks musical. The shortlist for Toronto theatre awards was announced yesterday at a ceremony hosted by actors Nigel Shawn Williams and Sarah Cornell, who picked up a nomination for her work as the leggy Swedish bombshell Ulla in The Producers. Seán Cullen, who plays producer Max Bialystock, and Michael Therriault who is Max's sidekick accountant Leopold Bloom, both received nominations in the same category — outstanding performance by a male in a principal role, musical. And The Producers' Brandon McGibbon and Juan Chioran also face off against each other, this time in the featured role, musical, category. But the general division section was dominated by Canadian Stage, which received a total of 21 nominations for three musicals and two plays from its 2003-04 season. The CanStage production of the Pélagie got six nominations, including one each for lead performers Réjean Cournoyer and Susan Gilmour, and outstanding new musical for Allen Cole and Vincent de Tourdonnet. CanStage's Cookin' At The Cookery was also cookin'. Now playing at the New Yorker , it got five nominations, including one apiece for stars Jackie Richardson and Montego Glover. Tyley Ross was one of four nominees involved in the CanStage musical The Last Five Years (at the Bluma Appel Theatre until May 29), while its production of The Syringa Tree received another four, with one each for Caroline Cave and Yanna McIntosh, who shared the spotlight on alternate nights in the one-woman show. Tarragon Theatre received 11 nominations, six for Peter Froehlich's play Simpl (continuing until May 30) and five for Jason Sherman's trio of playlets called Remnants. Theatre Passe Muraille was close behind, with 10 , six for Tequilla Vampire Matinee and four for da kink in my hair. In the Independent Theatre division, the Modern Times production of Stories From The Rains Of Love And Death received six nominations, as did bluemouth inc.'s something about a river. Variété picked up four, including one for co-host Williams. In the opera division, Canadian Opera Company received eight nominations. The distinguished Stratford and Soulpepper actor William Hutt was presented with the $1,000 Barbara Hamilton Award, presented to an individual for excellence and professionalism in the performing arts. Hutt was also nominated for an outstanding performance award for his work in Soulpepper's No Man's Land. And the George Luscombe Award for mentorship went to Alison Sealy-Smith, a founding member and artistic director of Obsidian Theatre Company. The 25th Dora Awards will be presented June 28 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, hosted by Cullen and Mamma Mia! star Louise Pitre. Tickets, priced $60, are available from TicketKing at 416-872-1212 or at the T.O. Tix Booth at Yonge Dundas Square.
Dora Award Nominees
New Play: China Doll, Marjorie Chan; Confederation, Michael Hollingsworth; da kink in my hair Trey Anthony; Restitution, Michael O'Brien; Simpl, Peter Froehlich.
New Musical: Hello...Hello Karen Hines; Pélagie, Allen Cole and Vincent de Tourdonnet; Tequila Vampire Matinee, Kevin Quain; Top Gun! The Musical, Denis McGrath and Scott White.
Production, Play: China Doll, Nightwood Theatre; Confederation, Videocabaret; Remnants, Tarragon Theatre; Simpl, Tarragon Theatre/NAC; The Syringa Tree, CanStage.
Production, Musical: Cookin' At The Cookery CanStage/Manitoba Theatre Centre; Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People; Tequila Vampire Matinee, Theatre Passe Muraille and Rat-A-Tat-Tat; The Last Five Years, CanStage; The Producers, Mirvish Productions
Sound Design/Composition: John Gzowski, Capture Me; Weyni Mengesha, da kink in my hair; Matt Swan, Helen's Necklace; Steve Marsh, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad; John Millard, Simpl; Steve C. Kennedy The Producers; Marc Desormeaux Written on Water
Musical Direction: David W. Thompson, Cookin' At The Cookery; Andrew Petrasiunas, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang; Jeffrey Huard, Pélagie; Marek Norman, The Last Five Years; Rick Fox, The Producers.
Performance in a Feature Role, Play or Musical: Ensemble, Confederation; Martin Randez, Le Visiteur; William Webster, Phèdre; C. David Johnson, The Play's The Thing; Brandon McGibbon, The Producers; Juan Chioran, The Producers.
Set Design: Glen Charles Landry, Le Visiteur; Glen Charles Landry, Portrait Chinois D'une Imposteure; Graeme Thomson, Remnants; Charlotte Dean, Rune Arlidge; Yannik Larivée, Simpl; Robin Wagner, The Producers; Judith Bowden, Written on Water.
Costume Design: Joanne Dente, China Doll; Astrid Janson & Julie Renton, Confederation; Charlotte Dean, Remnants; Erika Connor, Tequila Vampire Matinee; William Ivey Long, The Producers.
Lighting Design: Andrea Lundy, Capture Me; John Munro, Pélagie; Andrea Lundy, Phèdre; Graeme Thomson, Remnants; Andrea Lundy, Rune Arlidge; Peter Kaczorowski, The Producers.
Direction of a Play: Guy Mignault, Le Visiteur; Richard Rose, Remnants; Sarah Stanley Restitution; Richard Rose, Simpl; Larry Moss, The Syringa Tree.
Direction of a Musical: Marion Caffey, Cookin' At The Cookery; Allen MacInnis, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang; Ted Dykstra, Tequila Vampire Matinee; Daryl Cloran, The Last Five Years; Susan Stroman The Producers.
Performance, Male in a Principal Role, Musical: Réjean J. Cournoyer, Pélagie; Stephen Sparks, Tequila Vampire Matinee; Tyley Ross, The Last Five Years; Michael Therriault, The Producers; Seán Cullen, The Producers; Dmitry Chepovetsky, Top Gun! The Musical.
Performance, Female in a Principal Role, Musical: Jackie Richardson, Cookin' At The Cookery; Montego Glover, Cookin' At The Cookery; Susan Gilmour, Pélagie; Amy Rutherford Tequila Vampire Matinee; Sarah Cornell The Producers.
Performance, Male in a Principal Role, Play: Jim Mezon, Copenhagen; David Ferry, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad; Rick Roberts, Hotel Loopy; Dennis O'Connor Le Visiteur; William Hutt, No Man's Land.
Performance, Female in a Principal Role, Play: Jane Spidell, Blood; d'bi.young, da kink in my hair; Martha Burns, Happy Days; Nicola Lipman, Simpl; Caroline Cave, The Syringa Tree; Yanna McIntosh The Syringa Tree
Choreography, Play or Musical: Roger C. Jeffrey and Ma'at Zachary, da kink in my hair; Nicola Pantin, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang; Tracey Flye, Pélagie; Alejandro Ronceria, The Artshow; Susan Stroman, The Producers.
Touring Production: Breathing Space, Harbourfront Centre and M6 Theatre; Living Memory, Harbourfront and Les Deux Mondes; Pour Une Fois, Théâtre français de Toronto co-production; Robinson Crusoe, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre and Axis Theatre Company; Scaramouche Jones, David and Ed Mirvish and Gabriella Martinelli for Capri Entertainment
New Play/Musical: Dear Boss, Eric Woolfe; For Sale, Beatriz Pizano; something about a river, bluemouth inc.; Stories from the Rains of Love and Death, Abas Na'lbandian translated & adapted by Soheil Parsa & Peter Farbridge; Tales of an Urban Indian, Darrell Dennis.
Production: (nod), Theatre Gargantua; fusion, DNA Theatre; something about a river, bluemouth inc.; Stories from the Rains of Love and Death, Modern Times Stage Company; Variété, Volcano/co-production with BMH Shift, in association with Art of Time Ensemble.
Direction: Jacquie P.A. Thomas, (nod); Michael Waller, Dear Boss; Guillermo Verdecchia, Miss Orient(ed); bluemouth inc., something about a river; Soheil Parsa, Stories from the Rains of Love and Death; Ross Manson, Variété
Performance, Male: Ashwatthama JD Ek Qatra Khoon - A Drop of Blood; Eli Batalion, Job: The Hip-Hop Saga; Chad Dembski, something about a river; Darrell Dennis, Tales of an Urban Indian; Clinton Walker, The Trials of John Demjanuk; Nigel Shawn Williams, Variété.
Performance, Female: Rebecca Northan, Dear Boss; Michelle Polak, For Sale; Ensemble, Joan; Tracey Ferencz, Much Ado About Nothing; Araxi Arslanian, Rogues of Urfa; Kate Meehan, Tape.
Set Design: Michael Spence, (nod) ; Ashwatthama JD, Ek Qatra Khoon - A Drop of Blood; Trevor Schwellnus, For Sale; Steve Marsh, Cathy Gordon, Michelle Ramsay, fusion; David Skelton, Stories from the Rains of Love and Death; Michael Gianfrancesco, The Laramie Project.
Costume Design: Isaac Akrong, Anowa; Joanne Dente, Dear Boss; Jennie Green, Miss Orient(ed ; Angela Thomas, Stories from the Rains of Love and Death; The Company, The Gorgonetrevich Corps de Ballet Nationale in "Bethany's Gate"; Veronica Verkley, Variété
Lighting Design: Ashwatthama JD, Ek Qatra Khoon - A Drop of Blood; Steve Lucas, fusion; David Duclos, something about a river; Andrea Lundy, Stories from the Rains of Love and Death; Michael Kruse, The Laramie Project
Sound Design/Composition: Richard Feren & Steve Marsh, fusion; Jerome Saibil and Eli Batalion, Job: The Hip-Hop Saga; Richard Windeyer, something about a river; James Fisher, The Gorgonetrevich Corps de Ballet Nationale in "Bethany's Gate"; Christine Brubaker and Allen Cole, The Trials of John Demjanuk; Mauricio Kagel, Variété.
THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES
Outstanding Production: Baking Time Carousel Players and Oily Cart; Bluffer's Moon Cliffhanger Productions; Health Class Roseneath Theatre; Petra Theatre Direct Canada; Two Weeks, Twice a Year Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People
Outstanding Performance: Dylan Taylor Bluffer's Moon; Andrew Moodie Health Class; David S. Craig Health Class; Pasha McKenley Petra; Clarence Sponagle Two Weeks, Twice a Year; Kristopher Turner Two Weeks, Twice a Year
Outstanding New Choreography: Amour, acide et noix Daniel Léveillé; Dusk Dances - Les Moutons Sylvie Bouchard and David Danzon; Grand Junction Charles Linehan Sly Verb Christopher House; Thok Roger Sinha; Tziganes Serge Bennathan
Outstanding Performance: Carmen Romero Carmen Complex; Greig Cooke Grand Junction; Johanna Bergfeldt; Sly Verb Tom Casey; Thok Ensemble Tziganes
Outstanding Production: Die Walküre Canadian Opera Company; Persée Opera Atelier; Peter Grimes Canadian Opera Company; Rigoletto Canadian Opera Company; Turandot Canadian Opera Company
Outstanding Performance: Adrianne Pieczonka Die Walküre; Clifton Forbis Die Walküre; Laura Claycomb Rigoletto; Monica Whicher The Marriage of Figaro; Serena Farnocchia Turandot
Kenny Leon Shines Bright With "Sun"
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Karu F. Daniels (New York, NY)
(May. 20, 2004) Acclaimed theatre director Kenny Leon is riding high.. The Tallahassee born and St. Petersburg-bred dynamo is actually on an Amtrak train from the nation's capitol to the Big Apple during our talk time on this sunny spring afternoon. He has a hit on his hand with his big Broadway debut --- the critically-acclaimed, star-studded revival of Lorraine Hansberry's classic play "A Raisin In The Sun," currently playing at the Royale Theatre. "I've always loved this particular play and I've always loved the writing of Lorraine Hansberry so it was a heated decision," he shared about being approached to revive the 45-year-old play, a few years ago. "I just needed to make sure that I had full artistic control of the project and David Binder and the estate sort of guaranteed that so we went from there." The 48-year-old Mr. Leon is an accomplished theatre wizard in his own right. So that mad it easy for his demands to be met. As a celebrated producer and director, he is the co-founder and Artistic Director of True Colors Theatre Company, dedicated to diversity and the preservation of African American classics. The company is based in the quite colourful city of Atlanta, and Mr. Leon has designs to shift the paradigm of how theatre is executed, in regards to people of color. "Most of American theatre is Anglo European at the center and then they diversify around the edges with one Black play and one Hispanic play, I want to turn that model inside out where the center is African American work," he confided. He served as Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre Company for thirteen years and has directed regionally at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, San Jose Rep, Indiana Rep, Goodman, Huntington, Hartford Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Geva Theatre, Long Wharf, BAM, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage and the Theatre of the Stars. "My approach to directing is just to work off the instincts of the people that I cast in the roles, and to have them own choices that fit into my larger parameter of what I think the play is," he added. "It's about laying out creative vision about the play and then having each actor bring in personal contributions, having that fit and working off of their instinct. It's ensemble billing and having people rely on each other and telling their stories together." While at the Alliance, the debonair graduate and honorary Ph.D. of Clark Atlanta University produced ten world premieres of Elton John's "AIDA," Pearl Cleage's "Flyin' West" and "Blues for an Alabama Sky," and Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo," among many others. He made his Off-Broadway debut at The Public Theatre directing Thulani Davis' "Everybody's Ruby." "A Raisin In The Sun" has brought him into a bigger league, however. With its amazing cast (Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald and Sanaa Lathan), its sell-out audiences, its critical acclaim and multiple award nominations, it is no doubt that this play has exceeded expectations. "I never had any trepidation [about doing it on Broadway]. I wanted to do the play and I believed in this play and I always felt I could do a good job with it, so it was never that. I mean, who would run from an opportunity to do what I guess is the greatest American play ever written?"
And with a media blitz only worthy of a true Broadway event, "A Raisin In The Sun" has had its share of inner turmoil. "The hardest part of this was keeping the press out of what was really happening in the rehearsal hall and the excitement about Puffy coming to the show and doing that," Mr. Leon revealed. "We had five stars including Bill Nunn and people wanted to come at us, people are always telling you what you can't do, so it was a lot of activity outside of rehearsal hall which had nothing to do what was inside rehearsal hall. So I think it's just a matter of being under the spotlight more so for this production than other productions." Some of the hype has helped, too. Mr. Leon is no newcomer to acclaim, however. He is the recipient of the MIT Eugene McDermott Award and was chosen Top 20 To Watch by "The Financial Times." Just a few weeks ago, "People" magazine listed him in their annual buzz-heavy 50 Most Beautiful Issue, amongst the likes of camera-ready celebs like Halle Berry, Beyonce, Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp. He shrugs off the adulation, though. "I'm humble and grateful for the acknowledgment but I have to put that in the right place," he stated. "That's only the people of that magazine. It helps the show and it helps my career and makes people aware of who I am and what I'm doing. But in terms of the vain part of it, it doesn't mean very much, you know. It's just a subjective opinion." He attributes his dashing good looks to his 'wonderful' momma's genes. A good old country boy, he is the eldest of five siblings and doesn't make a habit of telling too much of his personal business. "I try not to talk about personal stuff. I like to keep them separate," he added. Everyone asks him about Puffy on Broadway. To the unknowing eye and ear, it does seem far-fetched for one of hip-hop's most notorious personalities to have the discipline for the Great White Way. But like I've always said, 'If he can run a marathon, he can do just about anything.' "He made it very easy because he's just a humble person who had tremendous respect for the art form and he was brutally honest in announcing that he haven't done stage before but he totally respects it," Mr. Leon explained. "He was in a good place to work with. He didn't fight me but if he didn't understand something, he was able to tell me very strongly 'I don't understand what you're talking about' and I think I was sort of a country boy and I was raised to be very direct and to be very honest. So we hit if off from the beginning because I was just telling the truth and he would respond to me likewise." The sometimes-actor has played the lead role of Walter Lee Younger, himself, in three previous productions of the play. So he is somewhat an authority in the role. "He's more Walter Lee," Mr. Leon divulged. "I think Walter Lee certainly has an arrogance and certainly has a vulnerability and what I wanted everyone to feel in him is sort of the struggle that many African American men go through to just try to be men in their own household and certainly trying to be a man in America. I think that Sean is hitting it right on in terms of what I see with that character."
More on Puffy: "He taught me that sometimes in America, we think we're giving 100 percent but as African American men that may not be enough. We don't need to spend time complaining about racism, we need to spend time doing something about it. And he's a man that has always done something about it. That was a great thing for me to be around." Looking ahead, Mr. Leon will revisit Langston Hughes' "Tambourines to Glory" with True Colors. And then comes his biggest undertaking: directing opera for Nobel Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison. "She wrote an opera called 'Margaret Garner.' It's a prequel to 'Beloved' and it's my first attempt at directing opera and trying to deal with an issue we have not come to terms with in this country, which is that of slavery." Toni Morrison. Slavery. Opera. In the new millennium? Hmmmm. "I think the opera is the only venue for us to do something effective about slavery. I think Black people don't want to see it and White folks don't want to see it because we have not dealt with it properly," he continued. "So I think in the world of opera where everything is supposed to be dramatic and bloody and grand scale, it's like what Toni Morrison said to me, 'We're doing a story but if folks could look at those people as people and not as slaves, then we can do some healing.' "So my approach to doing that story is 'What will it look like to tell that story without the straw hats and the bails of cotton and none of the baggage that reminds people that it's slavery?' I think I can do that in a way that has us look at these people as people. Once we do that, I think we will move forward and understand what slavery really was: an economic tool to help build this country. That's all it was, economics" Three-time Grammy Award winning composer Richard Danielpour is on board. So is opera divas Jessye Norman and Denyce Graves. Next spring "Margaret Garner" will open and play in cities such as Detroit, Cincinnati and Philadelphia before coming to the Big Apple. "My goal is set to higher standards," Mr. Leon concluded. From his mouth to God's ears!
Something's Broken In Voting For Dora Awards
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian
Sometimes it isn't such an honour to be nominated. You all know what it's like to examine the nomination lists for the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, Junos, Genies and Geminis each year. For every choice you cheer, there's at least one that makes you roll your eyes in disbelief. Well, believe me, there was a lot of big-time eye-rolling in Toronto theatre circles last week when the nominations for the 25th annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards were revealed. Now, it's customary for a certain amount of naysaying to follow such announcements, but this was a real humdinger. Scripts that received almost total critical (and popular) derision scored impressive numbers of nominations, while many worthy plays by highly regarded authors got short shrift. Actors and directors who turned in memorable work were ignored, while some truly inferior stuff has made it into the awards spotlight. Looking for some examples? The Tarragon staging of Helen's Necklace — which featured superb writing (Carole Fréchette), direction (Eda Holmes) and performances (Susan Coyne and Sanjay Talwar) — was passed over except in the best sound design category. The Mirvish production of Copenhagen got only one nod, for Jim Mezon, who certainly deserved it. But so did his fellow cast members (Martha Henry and Michael Ball), his director (Diana Leblanc) and, in fact, the whole production. Where was Elaine Stritch At Liberty on the Best Touring Show list? How come performers like Blythe Wilson (The Last Five Years), R.H. Thomson (Blue/Orange) and David Storch (Amadeus) were ignored? Instead, an extraordinarily feeble quartet of shows — Simpl, Restitution, Hello ... Hello and Tequila Vampire Matinee — garnered 15 nominations, including in some of the most high-profile categories. Even by the capricious standards of the Doras, this was one hell of a year. You may be wondering how this happens. The answer lies in the way the nominations are drafted. A jury is picked by the board of the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. This panel is supposed to represent a cross-section of theatrical tastes and expertise, but to be honest, this year's batch of jurors skews heavily towards the alternative side of the fence, which explains some of their choices. The jurors are encharged to see the relevant shows and then submit their nominations without consultation of any kind. But it's after these first lists of names have been selected that the Doras really get strange. The same jurors, without discussion, vote a second time to declare a winner. They do so by ranking the nominees from top to bottom. Each choice is rewarded based on its ranking. For example, a first place vote for Candidate A is worth more than a second place vote for Candidate B, etc. This kind of weighted ballot can lead to some very political machinations. A juror may deliberately tip the scales in favour of a play or individual just to increase their chances of winning. If they want to block the chances of a worthy rival, they can put that name far down their list, or leave it off entirely. Broadway's Tony Awards used to employ the same system as the Doras, but threw it out after 1996, when it was suspected that personal agendas had tainted the voting to deny Big a Best Musical nomination. You might eaily ask what purpose it serves to have the same jurors vote twice and you'd be hard-pressed to get a decent answer. The Toronto theatre community at large used to take part in the voting, and that proved impractical as well. But surely there must be a better way. Outside of the quixotic nature of the voting itself, there are several issues of category that have to be questioned. In the case of leading roles, there are places to nominate both actors and actresses in straight plays as well as musicals. But in the often-more-interesting supporting character contests, both sexes and all disciplines are rolled together, creating one overcrowded jumble instead of the four separate categories that would make more sense. And when a show like The Producers comes along, its original Broadway designers, directors and choreographers are nominated for their remount work here alongside of local artists making do with budgets that are a fraction of the size of the giant imports. (I'm not referring, however, to the Canadian cast members of these shows, who are deserving of any nominations they receive.) The list of problems goes on and on. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and numerous other major cities have more sophisticated and successful systems for their theatre awards. Why can't we? One thing is clear. In a season where works by Carole Frechette, Jason Sherman, Michael Healey, Judith Thomson and Adam Pettle have been passed over on the nomination lists, in favour of shows that our city's newspaper critics called "frustrating", "shameful", "annoying", "exasperating" and "unbearable", one has no other choice than to conclude that the Dora Mavor Moore Awards are in need of a serious overhaul.
Michael Jordan Stands Up Beijing
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 21, 2004) *Maybe Mike J. is feeling inadequate about not gracing the arenas with his presence anymore and he didn't think anyone would miss him at a promotional tour promoting his arrival. Whatever the case may be, China is not happy with the basketball legend's lack of attendance to a major event at the Beijing sports complex Wednesday. The next day Beijing's media made it their business to headline the poor etiquette of the superstar. It was a top news item Thursday in the country that produced Yao Ming. Advertisers and PR companies ensured his presence was felt with posters and pictures plastered all around the city. Not to mention television promos of Jordan's new "heartbeat" advertisement filled commercial breaks. "You are everywhere, but nowhere do we see YOU," blasted a headline in the Beijing News daily after Jordan's failure to appear. The event was cancelled by the police at the last minute due to security concerns as thousands of fans encircled the venue tearing down banners that blocked their view and damaging parked cars. The Beijing News had devoted five pages to Jordan's visit and his Nike promotional campaign, while Yao Ming's Wednesday night return to China in preparation for the Athens Olympics got four paragraphs. Jordan's Nike sales even dominate over Ming's sponsor Reebok in his native country.
Steps To A Better Butt
By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
(May 20, 2004) Early in my personal training career, I had a sneaking suspicion that all my female clients had vision problems. I'd hear comments such as: "Raphael, my butt is the size of Mount Everest;" "I can set a glass on my booty;" and "My butt won't make it through the door." I've heard every conceivable comment about the derriere. In most cases, it wasn't as bad as the client thought. I knew the humorous comments were just a mask for frustration and self-consciousness. A trainer must always understand the emotion a client feels about her body. Any man in this society who doesn’t understand how a woman really perceives her butt has the evolutionary DNA of an ant. Let’s get to the point. You want a smaller and tighter booty, right? You want the formula to achieve it, and you want some guarantees. I’m here to tell you that you can do it. I don’t care if you have 100 pounds or 20 pounds to lose. You can make your butt smaller and tighter. The more body fat you have, the longer it will take -- but you can do this. As I mention in each of my articles, you need to be on a structured, but liveable, nutrition program that places you in a slight caloric deficit. In other words, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. However, that doesn’t mean starving yourself and eating as little as possible. The key to manipulating nutrition is eating the correct foods in the correct amounts at the correct times. If you’re an eDiets member using one of our 17 specially designed nutrition programs, you’re halfway home. The rest of the way home has to do with efficient workouts that challenge your muscles with optimal efficiency. The combination of weight training, cardiovascular exercise and a specialized muscle group workout routine is a great way to achieve success. A specialized routine refers to focusing on one or two weaker areas of the body with one to two additional workouts each week. I’m happy to provide one of my classic specialized butt routines. It will work the rear end and legs, but its main focus is on tightening my all-time favourite muscle group -- the glutes. If your goal is to get the butt you’ve always desired, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve designed a simple program that can be performed right in your own home. Many of my customized workouts are based on years of my own personal experience as well as trial-and-error with my training clients. Several weeks ago, I wrote a "Wave Bye-Bye To Flabby Arms" article and introduced the tri-set. The tri-set refers to performing three exercises in a row without rest. The workout is challenging, so you must focus on impeccable form and concentrate completely on the muscles you’re working.
Butt Stops Here Workout
1. Dumbbell Squat:
This exercise will have an effect on the entire leg, but the key is to focus on your glutes in the descending part of the movement. I’ve also found that women respond well to high reps for the legs and butt.
· Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
· Hold a dumbbell or cans in each hand with your arms hanging down at your sides and palms facing one another. (If you need an excellent set of dumbbells, check ours out by clicking HERE!)
· Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise.
· Lower your body by sticking your butt out, bending from your hips and knees and stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor.
· Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down.
· Slowly return to the starting position
· Exhale while returning to the starting position.
· Inhale while lowering your body.
· Don’t let your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times).
· It helps to find a marker on the wall to keep your eye on as you lift and lower, otherwise your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow.
· Push off with your heels as you return to the starting position.
· Beginners can perform this exercise without weights until they master the movement. It’s a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body, but if done improperly, it can lead to injuries -- so use precise form.
Perform 20 slow and controlled repetitions and immediately go to the next exercise.
2. Dumbbell Lunges
· Stand straight with your feet together.
· Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.
· Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor. This lowered position is where you should focus on feeling the glutes contract.
· Push off your right foot slowly returning to the starting position.
· Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete the set.
· Inhale while stepping forward and exhale while returning to the starting position.
· The step should be big enough that your left leg is nearly straight. Do not let your knee touch the floor.
· Make sure your head is up and your back is straight.
· Your chest should be lifted and your front leg should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.
· Your right knee should not pass your right foot. You should be able to see your toes at all times.
· If you have one leg that is more dominant than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first.
· Discontinue this exercise if you feel any discomfort in your knees.
Perform 20 repetitions on each side and immediately go to the next exercise.
3. Bent Leg Reverse Kick Up
· Start this exercise on your hands and knees on a mat.
· Raise your left leg up until it is parallel with the floor with a slight bend in the knee. Support your weight with your arms and right leg.
· While contracting the butt, lift your left leg up and toward the ceiling maintaining a bend in the knee.
· Slowly return to the starting position.
· After completing the set on the left side, repeat on the right side.
· Exhale while lifting your leg.
· Inhale while returning to the starting position.
· To increase the difficulty, you may want to add an ankle weight to the working leg.
Perform 25 slow and controlled repetitions on the right side and then repeat on the left side.
All three exercises are considered one cycle. Beginners should perform one cycle on three alternate days of the week. Intermediate exercisers should perform two cycles on alternate days of the week, and advanced exercisers should perform three cycles. Wait one minute between cycles before repeating. You still need to perform weight training or callisthenics for your entire body as well as cardiovascular exercise. However, if you incorporate the above specialty butt workout routine, you’ll see some great results.
Serena Mixes Glamour With Tennis
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May. 26, 2004) *With the desire to be a movie star in her blood, tennis superstar Serena Williams decided to stop off at the Cannes Film Festival, while enroute to the French Open. At Cannes, took in the glamour, saw some movies and chatted with two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks about what else ... acting. "I saw that movie Turner & Hooch at least 50 times. It took all my guts to go up to him," Williams recounted. "I was like, 'Can I have a picture?' He said, 'Are you kidding? I have my camera, too.' It was cool. It was like, 'Wow!'" In addition to acting, Williams, 22, finds time to design clothes - for her own line, Aneres, and for Nike as part of a sponsorship deal that could be worth nearly $40 million over five years. "Tennis is my first love," she said. "I like nothing more than walking out there and just having the crowd clap and clap and clap. It's just an unbelievable feeling for me." Speaking of tennis, Serena and sister Venus, served notice of their French Open intentions by advancing into the second round of the Grand Slam tournament on Tuesday with straight sets wins.
Harrington's Poignant Finale As Fallen Hero
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Dance Writer
Life and art were more than usually intertwined in James Kudelka's The Four Seasons on Wednesday night. Retiring principal dancer Rex Harrington brought a full Hummingbird house to its feet for an extended ovation after the first of four performances that mark the winter of his career with the National Ballet of Canada. At the centre of this emotion-laden ballet, set to the precise geometry of Antonio Vivaldi's four violin concertos, Harrington is A Man passing through the four stages of life. Partnering the women originally cast in the roles of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in 1997, Harrington is blithe youth with a light-footed and flirtatious Chan Hon Goh. Greta Hodgkinson sizzles as Summer, a sultry section with a pas de deux that is all rapid twists, turns and grips, performed flawlessly by the lusty-looking twosome. In the golden glow of Autumn, Harrington forms a trio with Ryan Boorne and Kevin Bowles to encircle Martine Lamy, who is sophistication personified. With Winter, he is harried by thoughts of death, in the person of Piotr Stancyzk. The man for all seasons is joined by four senior dancers, Victoria Bertram, Lorna Geddes, Tomas Schramek and Hazaros Surmeyan, who do a slow dance urging acceptance and a kind of peace. But Harrington's final solo looks less like acceptance than an agonizing breakdown, a struggle against the inevitability of death. At the end, he lies onstage under a slanting light, like a painting of a hero's fall. Harrington appeared a little shaken for the first curtain call, as well he might after such an outpouring of passion, not to mention the physical demands of Kudelka's detailed choreography. The corps de ballet seemed also to be dancing for all they were worth, lifting this performance to a permanent place in ballet memory. All three ballets on the mixed program focus on partnering. When the American Ballet Theatre commissioned a piece from him in 1994, Kudelka was still a resident artist with the National Ballet, and had not yet been appointed artistic director. But his choreographic style was well established with Cruel World, set to Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence. Dressed in muted colours and layered, heavily stitched garments, as if they might have come forward from some medieval court, the dancers combine and recombine in pairs. A much more abstract ballet than The Four Seasons, Cruel World nevertheless trades on the theme of relationships. Against Kudelka's defining moments of contemporary ballet, George Balanchine's Theme and Variations seems like a piece brought forward from the 19th-century era of classical ballet. In fact the choreographer created the ballet for the American Ballet Theatre in 1947. It was his intention to match the Tchaikovsky score to Russian-style bravura ballet. Hodgkinson, who showed an Audrey Hepburn regality from her first appearance in The Four Seasons, was the ideal Balanchine ballerina for an aristocratic cavalier, Aleksandar Antonijevic.
Tears And Cheers, One
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman
(May 24, 2004) Rex Harrington yesterday waved goodbye with tears in his eyes, clutching a teddy bear and giving Toronto fans his familiar thumbs-up salute. The ovations went on and on as the curtain at the Hummingbird Centre came down not only on his final performance in The Four Seasons but also on his extraordinary 20-year career as a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. At the conclusion of Sunday's matinee performance, Harrington's cheering fans jumped to their feet for what must rank as one of the most sustained ovations in Toronto performing arts history. They did everything short of honking their horns on Yonge St. They whistled and decked the stage with flowers, and someone tossed the stuffed bear — which Harrington used as a humorous prop. Then, with balloons dropping all around him, Harrington received a star-studded procession of colleagues, each of whom came onto the stage to give him a single rose and a farewell hug. Among them:
James Kudelka, artistic director of the company, who created the Four Seasons ballet with Harrington in mind.
Karen Kain, unforgettably partnered by Harrington in the last phase of her dancing career.
Evelyn Hart, the petite, exquisite dancer from Winnipeg who has been teamed with Harrington in many parts of the world.
Veronica Tenant, the former National Ballet star who as a television producer made a permanent film record of The Four Seasons starring Harrington.
Celia Franca, the founder of the company, who came from Ottawa to pay tribute to Harrington.
There's no question Harrington went out in a blaze of glory, performing a signature role in peak form. And though farewell appearances are traditionally occasions for outburst of appreciation, there was a reason this one had a special resonance. "I had a brutal childhood," Harrington recently explained to CBC Television's Carole MacNeil, adding that his mother was a schizophrenic, and that it was only when he made it as a dancer that he could feel worthy. The audience was alive to that psychic breakthrough, and Harrington changed people's expectations of male dancing. No man in the Canadian dance world has ever achieved such rich emotional expression. Harrington's personal saga became part of his legend, especially last fall when he decided it was at last time for his mother to see him perform, since it was she who had introduced him to dance. He made the arrangements and bought the plane ticket, but she didn't come. "I still have the plane ticket," he says. During yesterday's tumultuous curtain calls, Harrington revealed more than one side of his personality. At some moments, he seemed melancholy and deeply moved. But as the applause continued, he felt the need to provide a bit of comic relief — using the teddy bear at one point, playing dead and doing handstands on the Hummingbird stage at another. Backstage a few minutes later, surrounded by friends, colleagues and insiders, he remarked: "I'm just stunned. I can't think of anything to say." But he was about to be the guest of honour at a dancers-only dinner at Jump. Asked how the rest of the day would be, he gave a short answer: "Drunk." Karen Kain explained that Harrington had to avoid getting emotional in advance, because "he had to stay focused on doing his best in a very demanding role." Kevin Garland, executive director of the National Ballet, says that even though he won't be dancing principal roles next season, Harrington is going to be the company's artist in residence. "It is already clear he will be a wonderful mentor and coach," she says. And Harrington's rapport with audiences suggests that he might well have a future career as an actor. "You ain't seen the last of me yet," Harrington quipped, before changing out of his Four Seasons costume for the last time.
Morris Pictures Tell A Thousand Stories
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter
(May 24, 2004) The word was out in Hackney: "If you want really good pictures, see Dennis." In the 1970s Dennis Morris was a teenage choirboy who earned pocket money photographing weddings and christenings in his rough East London neighbourhood. Today, he's most noted for his pictures of leading musicians that have been published extensively in books and magazines, including Rolling Stone, Time and People. However, it's his childhood snapshots that yielded unexpected value, making up an historical record of Britain's fledgling Caribbean community. A selection of those photos is part of this year's Contact photography festival, which runs to the end of the month. Shift Gallery's "Wedge Presents Dennis Morris: Growing Up Black" consists of pictures Morris took between 1968, when he was 9 years old, and 1977. From gun-toting youngsters and snazzy partygoers to congested flats, the black-and-white photographs are a gritty testament of immigrant families finding their way. "We, as West Indian black people, are very bad at recording our own history — a lot of our history is oral," said the 46-year-old photographer in an interview. "And I think those pictures are important because they're a record of what life was like at the time. I see myself and those pictures as part of that new recording of black history, so the next generation can use it as a reference." Morris was introduced to photography through a church photo club funded by a wealthy benefactor. He went around his impoverished environs snapping everything in sight. "The only resistance I got was from my friends, because it was a tough neighbourhood and taking pictures wasn't a done thing," he said. But it was his saving grace. "I can remember one boy in the choir who, at 14, went to rob a shop and when the shopkeeper resisted he stabbed him and he died and he went to prison for life. "It was photography that helped me get out of that neighbourhood. I found something that kept me happy." But, Morris's teachers weren't supportive. "They told me there was no such thing as a black photographer — `Just forget it,'" said Morris who moved to England from Jamaica with his mother when he was 5. "It was very difficult for me to find black photographers to inspire me. Later, after much digging and digging, I discovered Gordon Parks (the first black photographer for Time and Vogue)." However, a 1973 meeting with a future reggae legend gave Morris a boost. "I heard Bob Marley and the Wailers were coming over to play at a club called the Speakeasy in London, so I played truant from school and went down there with my camera," said Morris. "Eventually (Marley) turned up and I asked if could take his photograph and he said yes. I went inside the club and began taking pictures and he said he was going on tour and asked if I want to go with him." The 14-year-old leapt at the opportunity to accompany the group who was promoting its debut album, Catch A Fire. He called to tell his mother from the road. But, within days, the band's first British tour ground to a halt. "(Marley) hadn't seen snow before and he took it as a sign from Jah that they should leave Babylon." But Morris's life had already been changed. "As a black youth growing up in England there weren't many opportunities. He was the first black person I met who said there was a way to get wherever you want to go ... Bob Marley made me realize that you just had to work hard and believe in yourself and push for it." Two years later, Marley returned for a historic gig at the London Lyceum. "I was there with the other photographers and he remembered me from that earlier time," said Morris. "And that was the concert which put him on the map, but I was the only one that had photos of him prior to that concert and there was a great demand for them. And that's how I was thrown into the rock 'n' roll circuit." While Marley would remain a favoured subject until his 1981 death, Morris's also won acclaim for photographing the likes of the Sex Pistols, Oasis, Marianne Faithful and Radiohead. He also had a stint as an art director for Jamaican label Island Records. Now he's the one dispensing advice. "A lot of young black kids come up to me and want to be photographers, but the first thing they're thinking about is money," he lamented. "It took me a long time to make money. If you're good, money may come quicker; sometimes if you're really, really good it may come later. "I tell them life is not about quick cash, it's about longevity."
Eau De Puffy Coming
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press
(May 21, 2004) NEW YORK — Sean Combs seems to have teamed up musically with everyone, from Notorious B.I.G. and Usher to Sting and Dave Navarro. But his next collaboration, through his fashion designer persona, is with Estee Lauder: the cosmetics company is planning to create and market a new line of fragrances under the rapper's Sean John name. "People express themselves in many ways — through their music, through the way they dress and also through the fragrance they choose, so deciding to make a fragrance was very natural for me," Combs said Thursday. "This is an extraordinary opportunity to partner with one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic young fashion brands in the market, as well as with a man who has built a phenomenal reputation as a taste-maker in music, in fashion and in business," said William Lauder, chief operating officer of The Estee Lauder companies. Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed. Combs, 34, also is starring in a Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun.
Diddy To Tackle Politics On MTV Show
Excerpt from www.billboard.com
(May 24, 2004) "Fresh from his Broadway debut, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is heading back to MTV. Only this time, the hip-hop impresario plans to get political. In a new show tentatively called "Project Change," Combs hopes to grill President Bush and likely Democratic nominee John Kerry. Combs told the New York Post he'll scout the streets of Harlem, Brooklyn and Detroit for "real people" to ask the questions. "The people who usually ask the candidates questions are screened, and I'm going to use real people off the streets to get their questions out there," he said. "I'm going to make Kerry and Bush squirm." Combs, 34, said he hopes to encourage a record number of young people and minorities to vote. Combs is currently starring in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun." Although he received mixed reviews, initial ticket sales broke the Royale Theatre record.
Foxy Brown Launching Fur Collection
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(May 21, 2004) The Hip-Hop masses have clamoured about rhymestress Foxy Brown and her whereabouts. Now, the Brooklyn rapper will introduce a custom line of furs and possibly an accessory line called Champaign and Ice. Partnering with Alexis & Ganni for the collection, the exotic line will include pieces include mink and chinchilla, with prices ranging from $2000 to $12,000. A special show room for the collection will open in Manhattan next month. Incidentally, the name of the fur line has meaning to it. Champaign represents the life of a celebrity and elegance, while Ice signifies the opulent lifestyle sometimes associated with a person who decides to wear furs. To promote her latest venture, Foxy will do six in store appearances across the country to promote the line, which will be sold to most upscale clothing outlets in the United States. The rapper also has input as to the designs of the fur collection, which is scheduled to hit stores this year and via a website, www.foxybrownfurs.com.
Hey You, Slow Down That Life, Author Says
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Judy Stoffman, Entertainment Reporter
(May 23, 2004) Maybe I could finish this article tomorrow, go for a long leisurely walk along the lake right now. Stop rushing. Take time to smell the flowers. Bake my own bread in a slow woodburning oven, instead of grabbing a quick bite from the takeout place across the street to eat at my desk while checking my e-mail and talking on my cellphone. Begone, multitasking. Shred the "To Do" lists. Relax. Such are the mutinous thoughts of one reading Carl Honoré's book In Praise Of Slow: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging The Cult Of Speed, just published here by Knopf Canada, as well as in the U.S. and Britain. "Three years ago I was a genuine speedaholic; my life had become an endless exercise in hurry," says Honoré, 36, explaining the genesis of the book. He grew up in Edmonton and now lives in London, England, where he writes mainly for the Houston Chronicle. His wife Miranda France, with whom he has two small children, is a writer of travel books. Honoré's "Eureka!" moment came at the Rome airport, when he was rushing home from an assignment and read about the existence of two-minute bedtime stories for parents too pressed to read their children the full version. "I thought, `This is just what I need.' Then I thought to myself, `Are you insane?' I realized how silly, how neurotic my relationship with time had become." He decided to shift into a slower gear and track down others doing the same. His book has generated a flood of e-mails on his Web site (inpraiseofslow.com) and on his eight-city book tour, he's met readers from Baltimore to Seattle eager to tell him how his diagnosis of our collective timesickness is right on the money. When Honoré came to Toronto last week, his day was so charged we could only meet for an 8:30 a.m. breakfast. "The terrible irony of writing a book about slowness is that you've got to rush around promoting it," he said over muesli with berries. "But I'm rushing in a slow spirit. I've become still and quiet and unflustered. I try to find a park bench to sit down sometimes." Honoré was born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and a French-speaking father from Mauritius. His parents are both academics and found teaching jobs in Vancouver when Carl was six months old. They later moved to St. John's and then to Edmonton, where his parents still live. Honoré studied Italian and history at Edinburgh University, then in 1990, went with Canada World Youth to Brazil, where he worked with street children. Multilingual, he moved on to Argentina where he lived for three years. In Praise Of Slow, his first book, assembles persuasive evidence that time-sickness is a serious problem. He reports that people in developed societies get 90 minutes less sleep per night than they did a hundred years ago, which may explain the widespread addiction to caffeine, sugar, amphetamines and other stimulants. Teachers are concerned about "Hurried Child Syndrome," which results from the overscheduling of the lives of youngsters. A 1994 American survey found that the average time spent on lovemaking is only 30 minutes per week. Today's symphony orchestras are playing classical music pieces more rapidly than the 18th and 19th century composers intended. Our overwound inner clocks have produced an epidemic of road rage stemming from frustration when we can't drive fast enough. "The cause is industrialization, the consumer culture which encourages us to want it all, and urbanization. Cities act as giant particle accelerators," says Honoré. He points to Robert Levine, a social psychologist in California, who has developed an index to measure the speed of societies by sending researchers around the globe to measure walking rates, accuracy of public clocks, and the time it takes to buy a postage stamp. He found Switzerland was the fastest-paced country and Mexico the slowest. "I would rank New York, Tokyo and London as the fastest cities, and Toronto in the second tier for speed. London is on the verge of breakdown and Tokyo is extraordinary — the subway there comes exactly every two minutes, or 90 seconds in rush hour, and people still run to catch it," he muses. The good news is there is an embryonic movement to halt this madness. In In Praise Of Slow, Honoré visits Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement (80,000 members worldwide), as well as the town of Bra in Italy, one of 30 "Slow Cities" that have pledged to reduce noise and traffic, and preserve green space for aimless strolling. He goes to a meditation class in rural Wiltshire in England, to the SuperSlow Studio in New York to work out very slowly with weights, and takes his wife to a workshop in Tantric sex to study the Indian science of extended lovemaking. (Personally, I doubt that the latter is a world-wide trend even if 12,000 people are visiting Tantra.com daily, as he says.) "The slow movement is not Luddite, it's not anti-technology or anti-work. I've never missed a deadline but I find a balance, I get things done at the right speed now," he says. What has he cut out? "I used to play squash, hockey and tennis and I run. I've stopped playing tennis and that took the heat out of my schedule. And I watch almost no TV now. Everybody moans they have no time but they watch four hours — four hours! — a night of television. It's the great black hole of time and energy because it's not as relaxing as you'd think." He is glad that he never bought the book of condensed bedtime stories. A couple of weeks ago, when he left London, Honoré received a card made by his son that he treasures. "My son is 5 now and he wrote on it, `To Daddy, for being the best story reader in the world.'"
Is Your Business Managing You?
Source: Kisha Barton(BTC) / 212-694-0927 / email@example.com
(May. 19, 2004) For every administrative problem your company encounters, there is PVS Network who is there to help out. Gayle Santana, President and Founder of PVS Network, establishes a unique and innovative virtual assistance service that helps business owners spend more time on strategic matters while feeling confident that their company's administrative issues and other projects are expertly taken care of. Imagine being able to free up your time as you let PVS Network keep you "up and running." What does virtual assistance mean? PVS Network works with your company from a remote location using all available means of technology to serve your needs. There is no on-site intrusion, no benefits to pay, no permanent employee headaches, no high cost recruiting and turnover, just the smooth delivery of results. According to Santana, "Many of my clients often complain that they are spending too much time worrying about their administrative issues. Not only are business owners missing opportunities for business, they are also missing out on the fulfillment of their real purpose which is to focus on the leadership of their company and the realization of their company's mission and goals. The decision to turn to a virtual assistance service can free your internal staff as well. Ideally, PVS Network employees are equipped with the objectivity and expertise a company seldom has in-house." Santana has a "jump right in" attitude and over 20 years of experience, which makes it easy for her to enjoy working side-by-side with "big picture thinkers." PVS Network differs from other services. They have experienced professionals that are able to help any company with project management, inside sales, client outreach, recruitment services, coordinating events and meetings, scheduling, flight arrangements/itineraries, research for new equipment and database setup. According to Santana, "Business owners don't have the time or money to waste. Years of experience in the administrative arena allow us to cut to the chase and lead you to more effective time and task management. Virtual workers by their nature are a cut above. To do this takes a type of thinking that aligns most perfectly with the business owner. We have more of a stake in making it happen and we must be more focused than the average site worker. Understand that our success is tied to your success." PVS Network is most effective for companies that don't have the space, travel extensively or just don't necessarily have a need for on-site staff, but also benefits companies with an on-site staff. It is equivalent of hiring a consultant or freelancer, just without the on-site intrusion and hassles that go along with it. For a business owner, aligning yourself with a service like PVS Network can make a difference in your company's survival. PVS Network is a service that gets the important tasks and projects done on an as-needed affordable basis, freeing up your time to focus on your business vision, mission and goals. For more information or solutions to your company's administrative as well as other issues, please feel free to contact, Gayle Santana at (718) 977-0092 or firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the website at www.pvsnetwork.com
Your Teen Using Marijuana? Ten Tell Tale Signs!
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy - ONDCP / www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov
(May. 20, 2004) Recognizing teen drug use can be difficult. Teenage years are often plagued with mood swings and attitude changes. But sometimes, these changes are signs of other issues going on in their lives – like marijuana use. Marijuana or weed is the most widely used illicit drug among America’s youth. And as a parent, it’s important for you to know the warning signs. What should a parent look for? Some signs appear in the form of depression, withdrawal, carelessness with grooming or hostility. Consider every area of your teen’s life to determine whether changes are out of the ordinary, such as:
1. Changes in friends
2. Declining grades, negative changes in schoolwork, or missing school
3. Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
4. Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odours
5. Subtle changes in conversations with friends eg: more secretive, using “coded” language
6. Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
7. Increase in borrowing money
8. Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers etc.
9. New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up smell of smoke
10. Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
These changes often signal that something harmful is going on – and often that involves drugs. You may want to take your child to the doctor and ask him or her about screening your child for drugs. Need FREE materials and more information on how to keep your teen drug-free? Call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-788-2800 or visit www.TheAntiDrug.com. Help educate your teen on the dangers of drugs! Encourage them to visit www.Freevibe.com.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
AVRIL LAVIGNE Under My Skin (Arista)
BONE CRUSHER Fight Music (Arista)
SARAH MCLACHLAN Acoustic EP (Nettwerk)
Tuesday, June 8, 2004
ANGIE STONE 8 Ball (J Records)
COWBOY JUNKIES One Soul Now (Maple Music)
MOBB DEEP Americaz Nightmare (Zomba)
R. KELLY TBA R. Kelly (Zomba)
EVENTS –MAY 30 – JUNE 6, 2004
SUNDAY, MAY 30
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.
DIONE TAYLOR CD RELEASE
Montreal Bistro and Jazz Club
65 Sherbourne Street
EVENT PROFILE: Matay Records is proud to present Dione Taylor, a new and exciting female jazz vocalist. On her debut album “Open Your Eyes,” Taylor places her own well-crafted compositions beside the smoky ballads and classic jazz standards she interprets so well. The result is a classic and sultry sound that’s as smooth as butterscotch brandy. Dione Taylor’s debut album is sure to delight music lovers! Check Dione out at www.dionetaylor.com
MONDAY, MAY 31
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
EVENT PROFILE: It's summertime (well, almost!) In celebration of the diversity of Toronto, IRIE begins a series of diverse DJ nights which launches this holiday May 24 weekend! Check out selected nights for your fav DJ, fav vibe or fav night to hit Irie. Here’s the exciting line up of talented Toronto DJs this summer which starts May 24 weekend! Expect lots of exceptional surprises every night!
MONDAY, MAY 31
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, JUNE 1
507 College Street (west of Bathurst)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring prolific Canadian talent, Calvin Beale, Michael Shand, Joe Bowden, Thomas Reynolds and various local artists.
SUNDAY, JUNE 6
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!