Tag Archives: MICHAEL JACKSON

Montreux takes it all off for 2012 jazzfest poster and Jennifer does a dazzling take-off on Downton Abbey

LIFE BEFORE YOUTUBE:  Yes, I do remember all those years before it existed. What I can’t figure out is, how did we manage without it?

SAUNDERS: As Dame Maggie

One of the latest YouTube delights to go viral is a wonderful spoof of the monster hit series Downton Abbey from the deliciously wicked pens of Absolutely Fabulous creators Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Created as a special bonus for BBC’s annual Comic Relief fundraiser, Uptown Downstairs Abbey features Saunders in Dame Maggie Smith’s role, Kim Cattrall in Elizabeth McGovern’s role and Saunders’ pal Dame Joanna Lumley (aka AbFab’s Patsy) as the housekeeper, with Harry Enfield and Victoria Wood adding to the fun. Gravely narrated by Michael (Singing Detective) Gambon, it’s a lavish, sumptuous send-up in two too-brief outrageously inside-showbiz acts.  Click on Part One and Part Two, and enjoy.

DAME MAGGIE: The one & only

Mind you. the residents of Downton Abby would  never indulge in such an extravagant  meal without concluding their feasting with an appropriate dessert. So do help yourself to YouTube’s Top 10 Maggie Moments – sweet, yes, but fattening, no.

TV TASTE TEST:  Canadians are currently enjoying free samples of The Movie Network OnDemand. TMN is inviting non-subscribers to taste-test such acclaimed hits as Dexter, True Blood and Game of Thrones, as well as hot new series Luck, House of Lies and Spartacus: Vengeance. Some viewers are PVR-ing episodes of each one, so they can decide if they want to become subscribers. Meanwhile the ‘free’ part will vanish at the end of the month – so enjoy it while you can!

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: For the first time in more than 40 years, a photographer has been given a free hand to create the poster for the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival– but not just any photographer.

2012 MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL poster by GREG GORMAN

In 1967, a black-and-white photograph shot by Giuseppe Pino was used to advertise the first edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival. For the 46th edition of the Montreux festival, acclaimed U.S. photog Greg Gorman has presented a male nude reminiscent of a classical sculpture in motion.

Why the nude Monteux Jazz Festival poster?

Michael Jackson © 1987 Greg Gorman

“When I saw the festival poster from the year 1969 of a female nude I thought it was quite interesting, especially since it was the only nude in the collaboration of illustrative images for the posters. Since I have done many male and female nudes in my fine art photography, I thought why not do a male nude for this project. I love the total unexpected element of the male nude. Music can surprise, unsettle and sometimes even confuse people. A male nude even more so than a female nude, because it is still often thought of as taboo.”

Gorman has published nine books, created iconic film posters and photographed hundreds of high-profile advertising campaigns. He still runs photography workshops four times a year at his home in Mendocino, California, which is where he first worked with the model, Jordan David Miles, a 21-year old skateboarder and graffiti artist from Southern California. And he believes the Montreux festivaI decision to allow him

David Bowie © 1984 Greg Gorman

to present a nude was a very courageous one. “Nudity in photography is real and very direct. To offer a photographer carte blanche once again after so many years clearly illustrates the readiness of the festival to try out new things, to take risks and to surprise people.”

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Gorman has also photographed countless musicians, including Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, P. Diddy, Bette Midler and Quincy Jones. As a 1968 hippie he borrowed a camera to photograph Jimi Hendrix in concert. “The following morning,” he recalls, “I processed the film in a friend’s darkroom and when I saw the image coming up in the developer I was hooked.” A few weeks later he brought the camera to a Jim Morrison concert and he was on his way. Over the years he’s had some great shoots with rock stars, but his sessions with David Bowie in particular “were always amazing. He was one of my heroes from the beginning and he never let me down in any of our photo shoots together, which always involved a strong collaborative effort.”

Not siurprisingly, Gorman’s elegant website is stunning in its content and simplicity. Is it any wonder he’s been so successful for so long?                          Enjoy.

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Tommy turns 75, Celine & Tony sound off, Kelly & Jay play Fallsview and Arlene writes a bestseller

SHARPS & FLATS:  Crowd-pleasers Kelly Clarkson and Jay Leno are both set to entertain at Fallsview Casino next month, with the increasingly popular World Rock Symphony Orchestra now set to return in April …

PIECZONKA: Toronto Tosca

sublime Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka continues to dazzle as Tosca in the lavish COC production at the Four Seasons Centre now through Feb. 25 …  Daniel Lanois is set for two CBC Music concerts next month at the Great Hall on Queen Street.  The concerts coincide with Lanois’ induction into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame during Canadian Music Week festivities that same week … and legendary country gentleman Tommy Hunter will celebrate his 75th birthday by hanging up his guitar once and for all. Currently on tour, he’ll blow out the candles at a splashy birthday party in London, ON, on March 20, right after he gives his final concert at the John Labatt Centre. Should be quite a night!

HATS OFF:  To Tony Bennett and Celine Dion, who skipped the platitudes and went straight to the heart of Whitney Houston’stragic demise. Bennett says he has received mostly positive reaction to his statement urging the legalization of drugs in the U.S.

HUNTER: birthday boy

Legalization, he believes, would get rid of all the gangsters. “One thing I’ve learned about young people, when you say ‘Don’t do this,’ that’s the one thing they’re going to try and do. Once it’s legal and everybody can do it, there is no longer the desire to do something that nobody else can do.” Bennett, now 85, survived his own cocaine habit in the late ‘70s. Houston, who was 48, had admitted to using cocaine, marijuana and pills in the past. Dion, who is now, 43, considered Houston  “an amazing inspiration” but was clearly upset that “drugs, bad people, bad influences, took over her dreams, her motherhood,” she told Good Morning America this week. “When you

DION: remembering Whitney

think about Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson — to get into drugs like that for whatever reason – because of stress, bad influence, whatever — something happens that I don’t understand. That’s why I’m scared of show business, of drugs and hanging out. That’s why I don’t go to parties!” The private By Invitation Only funeral for Houston is set for tomorrow in New Jersey.

AND YES, YOU SHOULD TAKE IT PERSONALLY:  She’s worth millions and demonstrates how she got there every week on CBC’s megahit series Dragons’ Den.  But Arlene Dickinson shares even more of herself in her first (but, I predict, not her last) bestselling book, Persuasion, with some hard-won personal advice that everyone can use. “It’s a good idea,” she notes, “to take a hard look at your own narrative. Think about how you’d tell your life story to a Hollywood producer, how you’d explain the highs and lows. Have you cast yourself as a victim of circumstance? If so, maybe your story could use a rewrite, starting with the lead character who has choices – and sometimes makes the wrong ones.”

DICKINSON: persuasive life lessons

Making the wrong ones is something Dickinson knows about. She’s made quite a few herself. But, as she points out, those of us who have made some wrong choices along the way are in good company. High achievers are mistake makers, a fact she illustrates with engaging examples from Henry Ford to Oprah. (My favorite? Thomas Edison’s perspective on his many unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb. “I didn’t fail one thousand times. The lightbulb was an invention with one thousand steps.”)

Persuasion is about the art of connecting with the person you seek to persuade. It’s about caring. And about how to master “a little-known secret to success in business”  – listening. But because Dickinson makes it personal, Persuasion is much more than a How To book; it’s a survival guide for the mind and, sometimes, the soul. And within that survival guide are some valuable insights on corporate culture. “Staying in a situation you hate and complaining about everything that’s wrong, but never trying to fix it, doesn’t make you a martyr. It makes you complicit.”  Similarly, her views on our ability to choose the consequences of failure are bracing and refreshing. Bitterness is not an option, she insists, and shares another favorite quote, this one by mathematician Blaise Pascal: “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

As CEO of Venture Communications she also has  some genuinely amusing business stories to tell, including the time one of her partners,  trying to save the company money, arranged for her team to stay on a friend’s sailboat off Vancouver Island instead of paying for pricey Vancouver hotel rooms. When they arrived at the dock she noticed that the boat’s name was Important Business  — andsuddenly realized what my partners meant when they told me in the past that they work ‘going away on important business.’ They were talking about this sailboat!”

Stylish on screen and off, she appreciates the fame that television has brought her but resists the urge to take it for granted. “I have exactly the same insecurities anyone has,” she admits. “If anything, they’re even more overwhelming when you know a couple of million people are seeing all your flaws in high definition!” And despite the fact that her on-screen chemistry with fellow Dragon Kevin O’Leary has made her an audience favourite, her account of her auditions for Dragons’ Den (yes, she had to do more than one) and how she had to discipline her own self-doubts to get the job — she replaced another Dragon when she came to the series in its second season — is intriguing inside stuff.

Of course that’s why Persuasion is a bestseller. It’s a hypnotic, hard-to-put-down book of life lessons shared by someone who had to learn most of them the hard way. As Arlene Dickinson sees it, the main obstacle standing in our way is, not surprisingly, us. “Our past shapes and influences who we are, but it doesn’t limit who we can become.” Persuasion, as promised, is a new approach to changing minds. And although she preaches the power of persuasion, she urges her readers to be sure of their objectives, be they personal or professional. “Before you set out to persuade someone,” Dickinson writes, “you need to be certain that you actually want what you’re asking for. Because you just might get it.”

*     *     *

Ken Branagh reunites Tony and Colm for a comic book epic, & Dame Elizabeth reviews This Is It

TOGETHER AGAIN: Savvy screen-stealers Colm Feore and Anthony Hopkins, who last worked together on screen in Julie Taymor’s flawed but

HUARD & FEORE: Bon Cop, Bad Cop

fascinating take on Titus Andronicus, have teamed up again for director Kenneth Branagh’s production of Thor, which will bring the Marvel comic book hero to life and, no doubt, box office glory. Before winging to the movie set, Feore received a rollicking reception last week at the Ursula Franklin Academy when hundreds of high school students gathered to watch him cavort with Patrick Huard in Bon Cop,

HOPKINS: reunion for Thor

Bad Cop. And he wasn’t the only one winning cheers. Director Bruce MacDonald and leading lady Lisa Houle were in another gathering, taking questions after the screening of MacDonald’s latest opus Pontypool. And filmmaker Michael McGowan (St. Ralph) was in another assembly room, taking questions after the screening of his Joshua Jackson odyssey One Week. Making all three events happen, and simultaneously at that, was Reel Canada, a remarkable organization now in its fifth year of introducing young people to Canadian film achievements by bringing the films and the filmmakers to the classroom. Now that’s show business.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “I loved genius in my lifetime. God was so good to me. I will love Michael forever and so will you, if you don’t already. God kissed

JACKSON: genius?

him. There will never, ever be the likes of him again.” The speaker? Dame Elizabeth Taylor, tweeting about the Michael Jackson concert film This Is It. Sez Liz: “You owe it to yourselves and your loved ones to see this again and again. Memorize it and say to yourselves, ‘I saw genius in my lifetime.’ I truly believe this film should be nominated in every category conceivable.” Yup, she likes it. She really likes it.

HOPE LIVE: Newfoundland news junkies Rick Mercer and Seamus O’Regan are headlining tonight’s Hope Live black-tie charity gala in Ottawa in

O'REGAN: in Ottawa tonight

support of Fertile Future, which helps young women and men who have had   cancer can find ways to have their own children. Among the perennial Mercer targets and political playmates expected to attend: Peter MacKay, Jason Kenney, Helena Guergis, Maxime Bernier and Scott Brison. Incidentally, Mercer was one of four sparklies honoured by the University of Ottawa last week at an AGO dinner in Toronto, picking up a Distinguished Canadian Leadership Award with high-note master Michael Burgess and high-flying astronaut Julie Payette. (CTV National Affairs

MERCER: with his Montreal posse

correspondent Lisa LaFlamme picked up U of O’s special Alumni Achievement award at the same bash.) Now on his Christmas break, Mercer resumes SRO tapings of his top-rated Rick Mercer Report in January, but wait ‘til you see him crash (you should pardon the expression) a women’s roller derby competition (ouch!) in Montreal (!!) tomorrow night at 8 pm on CBC Television.

FOOTLIGHTS: How much does New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley love Fela!, the new musical that opened last Monday night on Broadway? “There should be dancing in the streets,” sez Brantley — and that was merely the first

THE MADONNA PAINTER: rave reviews

line of his ecstatic rave review. According to Brantley — no easy sell — there’s never been anything like it on Broadway. Which should bode well for producers Will & Jade Pinkett Smith and their comrade in showbiz arms Jay-ZRisking The Void, the touring art exhibit showcasing the work of Canadian stage designer Cameron Porteous, is set for a 10-week run Jan 20-April 4 in Guelph, Ontario at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre … and Factory Theatre has done it again. Good news is, Linda Gaboriau’s new translation of Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Madonna Painter opened to rave reviews from the Toronto Star, the Globe & Mail and Now magazine – how’s that for a range of opinions? Bad news is, the show must close in two weeks.  To secure your tickets now, click here!

TOMORROW:

Mamma Mia! Here we go again!

My, my, how can we resist you?

On a personal note: Remembering Michael and Farrah, with a little help from Liza, Larry and Liz

I met him only once, and you could hardly call it ‘meeting.’

LIZA & MICHAEL: friends

LIZA & MICHAEL: friends

We met at the Academy Awards, at the Governors Ball, the big ballroom party immediately following the telecast at which the Academy celebrates the winners and the runners-up. I was sitting on the mezzanine having dinner with my friend Shirley Eder, the Detroit-based show business columnist, her husband Edward Slotkin, and our mutual friend Ginger Rogers. A number of studio executives had stopped by our table to ask me if I would introduce them to “Miss Rogers,” which of course I did. They regarded her as an icon, which of course she was. But since she didn’t regard herself as one, she was always willing to flash that dazzling smile and say hello to perfect and occasionally imperfect strangers, when they approached her. It was the third executive, a senior exec at Columbia Pictures, thriller-michael-jacksonwho asked me if I’d seen “your friend Liza Minnelli. She’s just sitting over there,” he whispered, trying to not to point —  “with Michael,” he added almost conspiratorially.

I looked up and saw Liza. She was sitting next to a well-respected young agent, a hotshot named Michael Black. I wondered why the studio exec had whispered his name. Was Michael Black involved in some scandal so new that I hadn’t heard of it yet? I could see that there were a lot of people gathered around their table, and not just the usual table-hoppers. Women in glamorous farrah_fawcettevening gowns, studio wives mainly, were pulling little instant cameras out of their Christian Dior evening bags and taking snapshots, their little flashbulbs popping. Very odd behaviour, especially at this very A-list event.

Or so it seemed to me, until I got closer to the table. There he was, in the flesh, much bigger and much taller in person, dressed – well, costumed, really — in one of those prince uniforms that looked like they just came out of a Sigmund Romberg operetta. He had his own security team with him, flanking him on both sides, with two more standing behind him. If he was going for incognito, he’d clearly misunderstood the word. I said hello to Liza and Michael Black; I forget who else was at the table. When I said hello to

FARRAH: refreshingly sweet

FARRAH: refreshingly sweet

Michael Jackson, his security goons bristled, but he just looked up shyly, smiled and looked down at his empty plate again.  I don’t suppose he or Liza ever had anything to eat that night. Not when they were so surrounded by diamond-laden Hollywood matrons who continued to walk right up to the table and stare at them as if they were freaks in a sideshow.

Later they actually escaped to the dance floor, and Shirley Eder and I (and half the ballroom, if I remember correctly) immediately followed suit. I think Shirley got a cute story out of it — how she’d sorta shared a dance floor with Michael Jackson, that kind of thing. Still later I learned that Liza had discovered that Jackson was a great fan of her father’s film work, and had spirited

MINNELLI: phone call from the Ladies loo

MINNELLI: phone call

him off to the ladies room, where she found a public telephone – this was long before iPhones, kids — dialed her father’s private number, and beamed while Michael shyly interviewed Vincente Minnelli for his own personal pleasure. I thought of that moment when I watched Larry King‘s show on Friday night, with Liza commenting from Paris, looking profoundly unhappy and a little angry. But she rallied, as she always does. On Saturday, before her evening performance at the Palais des Congres, she danced through Paris on a float in the Gay Pride parade, crying “Freedom!”

Over the years I met Farrah Fawcett two or three times, and each time I found her to be refreshingly sweet, polite, respectful. It was always a pleasure to be in her company. Another gal from Texas, my esteemed Manhattan colleague Liz

SMITH: fellow Texan

SMITH: fellow Texan

Smith, shared her February 2 birthdate and thought of her as one of the nicest women in show business. “I well remember how this dear girl, who became an iconic sensation with her good looks and great hair, always remained devoted to her family and worried about their welfare,” said Liz on her website at wowOwow.com. “We never had a conversation that didn’t lead back to her parents!”

I imagine Liz was as intrigued as I was to see all three U.S. majors, ABC, CBS and NBC, turn over most of prime time to news specials remembering Jackson and Farrah. CBS’ Life and Death of Michael

Jackson garnered the most viewers of the three network specials about the singer, drawing 7.6 million, but ABC’s 20/20 special devoted to Farrah attracted more viewers than any of the Jackson specials, leading the 10 p.m. hour with 8.2 million viewers.

At the end of the day, CBS won the night, but not because of its Michael Jackson special. They attracted the biggest audiences of the night with an 8 pm rerun of The Mentalist, followed by a repeat of CSI at 9 pm.

Were younger viewers glued to their TV sets watching the specials on Michael or Farrah?

Nope. They were all watching So You Think You Can Dance, on Fox.

Ain’t showbiz grand?

TOMORROW:

Raves for stage lions Anne Hathaway and Bruce Dow,

Mia Kirshner’s little sister writes a book,

and Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous gay supermodel Bruno

(why wasn’t he in last weekend’s Pride parade?)

-/-

Are the stars out tonight? Yes, for the Dora Awards. But not all today’s showbiz news is happy …

GOOD MORNING, TORONTO: And welcome to another week of razzle-dazzle in Our Town.  Sparklies set to join host Jian Ghomeshi on stage tonight at the 2009 Dora Mavor Moore Awards at the Winter Garden include Anne

GHOMESHI: hosting tonight

GHOMESHI: hosting tonight

Anglin, Cynthia Dale, playwright John Gray, Graham Greene, C. David Johnson, Tom McCamus, Colin Mochrie, National Ballet of Canada soloist Rebekah Rimsay, Ontario Culture minister Aileen Carroll and Mayor David Miller. Director Vinetta Strombergs and writer Briane Nasimok will be talent-wrangling from the wings … what’s NOT happening today? TheNational Post, which is attempting some creative cost-cutting by NOT publishing a Monday newspaper – a new policy that will continue through the Labor Day weekend …  and, of course, Monday garbage pick-up is NOT happening either — unless you’re listening to the right radio station. CFRB wise guys Bill Carroll and Jim Richards are taking trash talk to a new level by sending 1-888-I AM JUNK to pick up trash every week during the strike for six listeners who send the best emails telling why the station should pick up their garbage. The contest ends this Friday, and the winners can invite neighbours to drop off their trash for weekly pick-up as well!

McLACHLAN: celebrating Canada Day

McLACHLAN: celebrating Canada Day

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Singer Paul Potts, who was the Susan Boyle YouTube sensation of his day when he first triumphed on Britain’s Got Talent, serenades tomorrow night at Kitchener’s elegant Centre In The Square. Torontonians will have to wait a couple of weeks more, when he performs here at the Elgin on July 18 … superthrush Sarah McLachlan and Quebec charmer Marie-Jo Thério will headline the party at Parliament Hill on Wednesday night in Ottawa. CBC Television, Radio-Canada and bold will telecast highlights at 9 pm … Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire

DORE: Rivoli-bound

DORE: Rivoli-bound

are set to headline the first annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival on Prince Edward Island on July 10, 11 and 12 … Jon Dore is hosting two nights of comedy mayhem at the Rivoli July 15 & 16 with a very catchy title: The Jon Dore Television Show’s Writers and Jon Dore of the Jon Dore Television Show Stand-Up Comedy Show, Show! Expect an evening of stand-up comedy featuring Dore and his writers Mark Forward, Laurie Elliott and Steve Patterson. “It is important to understand,” adds Dore manager Lorne Perlmutar, “that none of the proceeds of this show will be going to a charitable organization. Jesus is cool.” Whew! That’s a relief … and did you know that Seinfeld alumnus Jason Alexander is an accomplished song-and-dance man? He’ll show off that next-to-secret skill set when he appears at Casino Rama July 25.

MANN:  more honours

MANN: more honours

FLICKERS: Chalk up another win for enduring filmmaker Ron Mann. Last week he received the 2009 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Mann, whose hit doc Know Your Mushrooms is now available on DVD, won the award for Individual Artist, and then selected Toronto actor and film-maker Charles Officer (Nurse. Fighter. Boy) as the Premier’s Emerging Artist prize winner … Canuck heartthrob Taylor Kitsch will team up with one of his Wolverine co-stars, Lynn Collins, in the Disney adventure John Carter of Mars. And talk about yer parent traps — Greg Kinnear and Kelly Preston will play Miley Cyrus’

PRESTON: Miley's mom?

PRESTON: Miley's mom?

parents (!!!) in The Last Song, also for Disney … our National Film Board and the Shorefast Foundation will establish Newfoundland’s first e-cinema installation, the NFB’s first English-language e-cinema partnership in Canada.

The new system will use new digital technology to give residents and visitors to Fogo Island access to great works of Canadian cinema from the NFB as well as independent filmmakers. Fogo Island, by the way, is the largest of the offshore islands of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the new project will be launched this November … and management of the merged British film studio Pinewood Shepperton, where The Dark Knight, The Bourne Ultimatum and most 007 epics are shot,  has signed a five-year deal

CRONKITE: failing health

CRONKITE: failing health

to take over the seven state-of-the-art sound stages of Toronto’s struggling Filmport, which will now become Pinewood Toronto Studios.

APRIL SHOWERS IN JUNE: Quite naturally, lots of other news was overshadowed last Thursday by Farrah Fawcett’s passing and the shock waves caused by Michael Jackson’s unexpected demise. The saddest of the lot, for me, was the confirmation that legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite is seriously ill with cerebrovascular disease and is “not expected to recuperate.” And to add to that unhappy news — not that you were looking for more — neither Mike Wallace nor 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt are doing very well at the moment.

T.S. Eliot claimed that April was the cruelest month.

Maybe. But this year, June is no picnic either.

TOMORROW:

Remembering Michael & Farrah

-/-