Tag Archives: JANN ARDEN

Arden has fun with 50, Bobby sings to Yamma, Alice goes to Washington and Mercer takes the plunge

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: She may be the most celebrated centrefold in Canadian history, but Jann Arden, whose Botticelli beauty is on full display in the current issue of Zoomer magazine, says she doesn’t mind turning 50. “I

ARDEN: cover girl

don’t mind getting older one little bit,” she insists. “I don’t mind standing in the middle of the kitchen with the refrigerator door wide open thinking that I am going to buy my reading glasses sitting there on one of the glass shelves only to realize that what I was really looking for where my car keys that I swear I just had in my purse that I set down on the table beside the backdoor when my cell phone rang… What was I saying? I don’t mind one single thing about getting older. No, I don’t.” Even more delightful than Bryan Adams’ whimsical portraits of the Adored Ms. A. is the essay penned by Arden herself in her uniquely inimitable style. Buy it for the centrefold, then read the article — you’ll be glad you did … meanwhile, Ms. Arden’s pal Rick Mercer, who continues to coax her into going on hair-raising playdates with him, takes the plunge with members of our Olympic swim team in Victoria BC tonight

MERCER: in the swim of things

on his weekly Rick Mercer Report. (Is there anything funnier than watching Mercer try to keep up with Olympic-calibre athletes?) Now in his ninth (!!!) season, Mercer’s new episodes are currently being watched by close to 2 million Canadians — and that’s not counting the fans who watch him on their iPads and smartphones … some eye-popping photographs by National Ballet principal dancer Aleksandar Antonijevic, who opens here tomorrow night in The Seagull,  will be on display at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa from April 11 – 30. The exhibit will feature behind-the-scenes photographs of National Ballet dancers … and yes, you read that right —  Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Titanic) has signed on to write the new screen version of Gypsy with Barbra Streisand as Momma Rose.

DON’T WORRY, BE YAMMA: Watch for happy music maker Bobby McFerrin to duet with Mamma Yamma next month on Kids’ CBCLori Yates & The Nashville Rejects join Vinyl Cafe singer-songwriter Jadea

McFERRIN: Mamma's boy

Kelly at the Cameron House this Friday … Derek Christie and his band are set to heat up a Sick KIds Hospital benefit at the Hard Rock Cafe next Friday, March 30 … and Fallsview Casino is set to bring back its popular all-girl country-music salute 6 CHIX for a 10-day run June 20-30, following a two-night stand by Ringo Starr and his all-Starr band … and has any musical theatre company anywhere received the kind of response that Toronto’s Acting Up company has been generating? Its next concert show, The Long And Winding Road, is a musical tour of Beatles classics set for April 1 at Koerner Hall — and iit’s already almost all sold out. Then again, where else can you see Jackie Richardson, Graham Abbey, Michael Therriault, Steve Ross and so many more on the same stage in the same show? So maybe it’s not such a surprise after all.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE:  Science icon Stephen Hawking recently shot a cameo for next week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory in which he meets up with Jim Parson’s awkward theoretical physicist Sheldon

PARSONS: Big Banger

Cooper. Said BBT producer Bill Prady: “We’re not exactly sure how we got him. It’s the kind of mystery that could only be understood by, say, a Stephen Hawking.” Hawking, no stranger to show biz, previously voiced himself on The Simpsons – four times!! … American tenor Russell Thomas will make his Canadian Opera Company debut as the barfly poet who spins captivating reminiscences of lost loves to his fellow drinkers when the COC opens its spring season with Jacques Offenbach’s Tales Of Hoffman April 10 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts … and ballet boosters Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan are the Gala co-chairs of the National Ballet’s June 20

KAIN: D.C.-bound

Diamond Gala, a glittering celebration to wrap up the NBOC’s 60th anniversary season with a $1.25 million fund-raising goal. Meanwhile, National Ballet fans in Washington DC who have been waiting for the return of their favourite Canadian high-steppers  – the company hasn’t played there since 2006 — will finally get their wish. NBOC chief Karen Kain will take the company’s celebrated production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland to the Kennedy Center next January.

WHY WE VOTE, or, What I Learned Today On The Internet: We are all familiar with a Herd of cows, a Flock of chickens, a School of fish, a Gaggle of geese, a Pride of lions and, presumably because they look so wise, a Congress of owls. Now consider a group of Baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not — a Parliament. Yes. A Parliament of baboons.       Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

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What can I say about Jann Arden’s new memoir? As Ms A. might say, “I can’t really describe it but I’ll try”

“Life will shoot you out of a cannon where you want it or not. The universe is a cannon and we are the balls.”

Okay, I admit it. My copy of Jann Arden’s memoir, Falling Backwards, is a bit of a mess. But at least I have an almost acceptable excuse. As I started to read it I started turning down the top right hand corner of a few pages which contained remarks that made me laugh out loud. And then I turned down the corners of a few more pages. And one or two more. And now that I’ve finished the book it looks like it’s been chewed up by the Arden family attack dog, Aquarius. Who, as Ms Arden properly points out, was not really a guard dog, especially since he “licked complete strangers like they were cheeseburgers.” ‘Nuff said.

Arden’s memoir is a fascinating flashback to a childhood unlike yours and mine, because all her experiences are recreated through the uniquely humourous filter of her mind. And her considerable gifts as a writer only serve to make Falling Backwards more magical. She is still haunted by memories of childhood “and its boundless, heartless atrocities.” She flashes on piles of dead birds and gophers, the prey she stalked with neighborhood buddies Leonard and Dale. “I see their little faces, I really do, and am instantly ashamed.” She says she would not have wanted to be a gopher or a magpie between 1971 and 1976 in Springbank, Alberta. Nor, she assures you, would you.

As a child she was also an aspiring arsonist. One time she dropped about five hundred lit wooden matches down a heating vent one at a time; “I just liked striking the matches and seeing them burn. You could strike them on anything: a zipper, your two front teeth, your Levi’s jeans back pocket, the wall, the floor, your forehead. Any surface could light an Eddylite match.”

She and the two brothers she adored attended a rural school where “if you came to school and didn’t smell like some farm animal, you were considered weird.” And her parents literally built the family house, a process that kept them living in a trailer during a long. hard Canadian winter. How cold is winter in rural Alberta? “You can freeze your nose off in about three minutes if you’re not careful. I know a lot of people without a nose – they just have the nostril holes. [Okay, no I don't.]“

When her father was unable to deal with his alcoholism, her mother told him he had to leave. He did. To keep the family afloat her mother took a number of odd jobs, including a job sorting eggs at a chicken farm. “When the wind blew in the right direction, the smell of chicken shit was so bad it could almost peel the red paint off a barn. I can’t really describe it but I’ll try; if you put a loaded diaper in a pot of boiling sock juice with goat balls you’d be about halfway there.”

Years later her mother and father, now reunited, opened a video store, where Arden remembers working long hours. “My mother tells me I was the worst employee they ever hired. I probably was.” She watched eighteen hundred movies the first year she worked there. “I was like Roger Ebert on crack.”

Falling Backwards is also a revealing history of the food and drink she consumed in her formative years. She and her brothers Duray and Patrick were raised on Crock-Pot dinners. Pop Shoppe soda, Old Dutch salt and vinegar chips, and Wagon Wheels. “A Wagon Wheel,” she informs the uninitiated, “is a godawful chocolate-covered cookie thing filled with marshmallow. We ate them by the millions even though they taste like used sports socks.” Her mother sent them to school with sandwiches. “We went through nine gallons of Cheez Whiz every week, I’m sure. I can’t wait to see what the long-term health effects of that will be.” But then cooking was not her mother’s strong suit. “We had some very well-done spaghetti over the years. A single noodle was usually about an inch in diameter. Italian folks would have lit themselves on fire if they’d had to eat my mother’s pasta.”

She saw what alcohol could do to her father and her older brother Duray. “It was almost a given that there would be confrontation if drinking was involved; you cannot reason with rum.” But that didn’t stop her from skipping math class to drink Lonesome Charlie by the river. “Lonesome Charlie,” she explains, “was a very cheap, incredibly crappy pink wine that was basically a headache in a bottle but was also sweet and bubbly and therefore very popular.”

Aside from some mesmerizing family dynamics and her own struggle to find herself, what makes Falling Backwards so memorable is Arden’s dry western wit — “One year I got jumper cables in my stocking for Christmas. It doesn’t get more Canadian than that” — and her consistently engaging use of language, whether she’s sharing her first experience with Grand Marnier (“That stuff could give a headache to a tree”) or describing a character named Colette,  “a real firecracker” who “could talk the leg off the lamb of God.”

The first song she ever wrote, Paradise, was about her parents dying. Adds Arden: “I set the bar very high early in my career to write the most depressing songs possible.” Eight albums, eight Juno Awards and 17 top-ten singles later, Arden is living proof that “You are not what you did, but what you will do.” In Falling Backwards she revisits her triumphs and tragedies without fanfare, making her personal defeats all the more touching, until our eyes mist over. But after surviving a unique detox regimen, which really must be read to be believed, she emerges dry-eyed and strong and ready for her next tour.

“The things we choose to remember,” she notes, “say a heck of a lot about us.”

Wow. You can say that again.

Rachel and Marion love Woody, Jeanne and Barry love to Scrabble, Jerry loves La Cage, and Conan loves Twitter

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Whatever he’s got, he’s still got it. Woody Allen is set to shoot another film in Paris this summer — mais oui, they love him in France — and

MCADAMS: To Paris with Woody

Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard have already signed on … flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir, the Winter Olympics’ favourite bad boy, is now set to guest with Ice Theatre Of New York at the company’s 2010 Home Season stint April 29-May 1 at Chelsea Pier … John Tory, the new Chair of the TIFF Bell Lightbox campaign, is seeking $17.5 million in gifts needed to complete the TIFF Bell Lightbox between now and the opening of the building, which is still scheduled for this fall … Kelsey Grammer is back on Broadway, currently in previews at the Longacre Theatre for the Olivier Award-winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles that took London by storn. Composer Jerry Herman says this new version “is hysterical, touching, outrageous, ingenious — a revelation from curtain to curtain.” This we gotta see … Channing Tatum and Al Pacino are teaming up for a new screen drama, Son Of No One …  and Sebastian Stan, best known for his roles on Gossip Girl and Kings, has joined the cast of Captain America as leading man Chris Evan’s sidekick.

MARCUS TRIO: at Smiling Buddha tonight

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Talk about a musical coup d’etat! Sting, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Dame Shirley Bassey will perform together at Carnegie Hall  at a Rainforest Fund benefit concert on May 13. The event will mark the 21st birthday of the charitable organization founded by Sting and Trudie Styler to help protect and preserve the world’s threatened rainforest areas and the pricey tickets includes a gala post-performance dinner at the Plaza … Jann Arden, Tom Cochrane and NHL legend Darryl Sittler are set to join Anne Murray at her 2010 Charity Golf Classic in support of Colon Cancer Canada on May 18 at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham … at last! Hypnotic singer-songwriter Jane Ford has finally released a new album, All I’ve Needed Most, a five-song EP featuring “some great new tunes I know you’re going to love.” Count me in. Her new album is available on iTunes in the US and Canada. “And Europe. Everywhere actually!” … Justin Bieber pop-rocks tomorrow night on SNL … and professional crowd-pleasers The Marcus Trio return to one of their favourite haunts, The Smiling Buddha Bar on College Street, tonight at 10 pm.

O'BRIEN: networking

TWITTERBUG: Deposed late-night prince Conan O’Brien wasn’t a great believer in social networking until NBC bounced him off his Tonight Show throne. But after being hounded by both his friends and personal Followers (read, Employees) O’Brien finally saw the light. He now has close to a million followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Which is how, with a few well-placed wisecracks, he has managed to almost completely sell out his 30-city comedy tour which kicks off on Monday night. “Five days to the opening of my tour,” he tweeted yesterday. “I don’t want to over-hype this thing, but attendance will cure all known diseases.”  His first stop on his sweep of North American cities? Eugene, Oregon.

(Now that’s funny.)

BEKER: all-star Scrabble soiree

SCRABBLE RABBLE: Autograph collectors should have a field day Monday night at the 6th annual Scrabble® With The Stars soiree at the King Suites. Returning hosts Jeanne Beker and Barry Flatman will welcome so many marquee names that I can’t possible mention them all here. Suffice it to say that the glamourous role call includes Angela Asher, Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Dinah Christie, Arlene Duncan, Jayne Eastwood, Lili Francks, Graham Greene, C. David Johnson, Deb McGrath, Sheila McCarthy, Colin Mochrie, Micki Moore, Eric Peterson, Leah Pinsent,  Avery Saltzman, Elizabeth Shepherd, Paul Soles, Amy Sky, Theresa Tova, Robin Ward, Sara Waxman and enduring entertainment icons Sharon, Lois & Bram, all in aid of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) of Toronto. Tickets include dinner, a game of Scrabble with a celebrity and a tax receipt, and as usual there’s only a handful of tickets left. So if you want to play, don’t delay — just click here!

And have a great weekend.

-/-


A doc for mrs kutcher, a French film for Fonda, a hip new handle for Jann, and a loving look at Don & his Rose

AMERICAN TWEETHEARTS: Still-sultry screen siren Demi Moore – aka mrskutcher to her 2.6 million daily followers — admits that her obsession with Twitter, so very shared with hubby Ashton Kutcher (aka aplusk, with 4.6 million followers of his own,) does have

ARDEN: name change?

an effect of their daily lives. “”I don’t think he ever says anything to me that is more than 140 characters long!” quips Demi. Mrs. Kutcher and her talented fun-loving hubby will be the subject of a new documentary focusing on their adventures in Twitterland … more than likely inspired by the success of James Lipton’s Inside The Actors Studio, HBO is getting into the Star Turn business with Masterclass, anine-episode documentary series set to premieres on Sunday April 18. Artists set to tell Almost All include Edward Albee, Bill T. Jones, Liv Ullmann, Jacques D’Amboise, Placido Domingo and Frank Gehry … Jann Arden tweets that she’s considering a name change. At the moment she’s favouring Diddy Ja Ja … and now that Sandra Bullock has joined the list of award-winning females whose marriages fell apart shortly after their big moment at the Academy Awards, my hero Liz Smith has some solid advice for future winners. “When actresses go up to accept awards,” sez Liz, “they should just thank themselves!”

FONDA: blingual

STILL FABULOUS, STILL FONDA: Enduring screen lioness Jane Fonda is prepping to shoot a French film in Paris in June – “my first film in French in almost 50 years!!” Fonda describes it as  “a tender, humorous, charming story about two couples and another dear friend with whom the two women had once been lovers who, because of the financial and physical challenges of age, decide to all move in together. (As many seniors are doing these days) A young sociologist who is doing research on the lives of older people is invited to live with them as well.” She admits she was startled when she met the film’s writer-director Stéphane Robelin and producer Christophe Bruincher. “I was startled by how young they both are! Stéphane is 39 and Christophe is 35. Just about the age of my children.” But she was thrilled to finally meet co-star Geraldine Chaplin. “I have always wanted to meet

BRUHL: when in France ...

her. I was on stage with her father the night he made his triumphant return to Hollywood to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars—the same night I won mine for Klute.” In the film Fonda plays an American who has lived all her life in France and is a Professor of Philosophy at the Sorbonne. German star Daniel Bruhl, so terrific as the young propaganda hero in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, plays the young researcher who moves in with the seniors and bonds with Fonda’s character. Bruhl’s personal presence, Fonda reports, is “sweet, attentive and soulful. Perfect for the role.” And she won’t be surprised if her first husband, legendary director Roger Vadim, is a frequent visitor to the set. She’s expecting to see lots of him.

CHERRY: true Blue

YOU THINK YOU KNOW A GUY, BUT — : Must admit I’d never heard of actor Jared Keeso before last night’s premiere of Keep Your Head Up, Kid on CBC. but I’m a fan now. His work in Part One of the two-part Don Cherry screen bio is absolutely stellar — tough, endearing and funny. Sarah Manninem is spectacularly good as Rose, the soft-spoken iron butterfly he woos and weds, and in last night’s opener Stephen McHattie gave us an eccentric, truly memorable portrayal of Eddie Shore. Written by Don’s son Tim Cherry and deftly directed by Jeff Woolnough, this is one wildly entertaining Movie Of The Week, so elegantly produced that you can enjoy it even if you’re not a hockey fan. Cherry himself  said he planned to watch the screen story of his life last night “with commercials and all, just like everybody else,” with his faithful pooch Blue by his side. I can only hope he and Blue enjoyed it half as much as I did. And yes, I’ll be glued to my set tonight when CBC  premieres Part Two tonight at 8 pm.

TOMORROW:

Take the K-Train

Jann goes Disney, Shia beefs up, Roger starts his own club, and Ron and Ms. Atwood make a documentary

SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY: SuperWarbler Jann Arden has been amusing her 12,000 Twitter followers this week with daily dispatches from Disney World, where she seems to have developed a major crush on daffy comedy duo Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders. (Go

LEBEOUF: working out?

figure!) … my hero Liz Smith suspects that Wall Street II star Shia LeBeouf is currently boeufing-up for a remake of American Gigolo, with original Gigolo Richard Gere cast as the male madam who books LeBoeuf’s sexual assignations. (Now that’s comedy!!) editor Trena White wraps up a six-year stint at McClelland & Stewart tomorrow. White is moving back to Vancouver, where she grew up, to join Douglas & McIntyre as an acquiring editor … meanwhile, it’s official: Ken Finkleman’s new novel, Noah’s Turn, is now set to launch in August … and Roger Ebert has launched his own cyber club, with membership benefits, to help offset the cost of his ambitious and prolific web production. He also explains why in one of his tirelessly engaging Journal entries, I Wonder If This Will Work. To learn more about The Ebert Club, click here. To enjoy his Journal entry, click here — and enjoy!

THE YEAR OF THE ATWOOD: Entrepreneurial novelist Margaret Atwood is working with documentary master Ron Mann (“the guy with the hair that matches mine!”) on a

MANN & ATWOOD: it's their Year

screen version of her tour promoting her current bestseller Year Of The Flood. “It’s called In the Wake of the Flood. The film is due to launch on August 5 in Toronto to coincide with the paperback publication of the book. Then it will go around the world to film festivals, literary festivals, environmental festivals, and fundraising events. We did the Year of the Flood tour as an awareness-raiser and fundraiser, primarily for birds, and In the Wake of the Flood both documents the experience and continues the effort.”

SHOOTING STARS: Sometimes funny-man Will Ferrell is set to star in Everything Must Go, a new film by writer-director Dan Rush. Ferrell will reportedly play a relapsed alcoholic

RIVERS: new season

who loses his job and his wife and decides to live on his front lawn while selling all of his belongings … William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini will star in French director Julie GavrasLate Bloomers, about an aging couple who react to their senior status in different ways. (Shouldn’t that be Late Zoomers? Oh well) The stellar cast also features Simon Callow and legendary Ab Fab scene-stealer Joanna Lumley (or Dame Joanna and Sir Simon, if they care to pull rank)  … and Joan Rivers is shooting her second season of How’d You Get So Rich for a May 5 re-launch on TV Land. How rich are her new finds? “One guy is sooooo rich,” she reports, “that when his computer breaks, Bill Gates comes to fix it!”

P.S.: The doc that rocked Sundance this year, Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work, is set for Hot Docs screenings on May 2 & May 3. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

OK GO: ingenious

SEE/HEAR: The L.A.-based OK Go, a rock band originally from Chicago, keeps creating amazing videos – considerably more amazing, in fact, than their appealing ear-candy music. They’ve become an integral part of new millennium YouTube culture and won a 2007 Grammy for their stellar treadmill dance video, Here It Goes Again, which still evokes happy memories of the kind of ingenuity Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly espoused in their heydays at MGM. Their current monster video hit,This Too Shall Pass, has been viewed by more than 10 million internet users so far. Or maybe it’s only two million users who can’t resist watching it five times. Wondering what all the fuss is about? Just click on the song titles above and that mystery will be solved. Enjoy!

TOMORROW:

More hats ‘n’ horns for birthday boy Stephen Sondheim.

-/-