I can’t wait to hear it all!!

Warner Bros. Promises Previously Unreleased Prince Music

Warner Bros. Records is about to unveil two projects by the late megastar Prince that include previously unreleased material.

Prince 4Ever is a 40-song compilation of his biggest hits from his Warner Bros. days along with the previously unreleased song “Moonbeam Levels,” recorded in 1982. It’s due in stores Nov. 22 and will feature a booklet with new Prince photos shot by photographer Herb Ritts.

Warner Bros. also says the Purple Rain deluxe reissue will come early next year. It will feature a second album of unreleased songs.


More sad news. May he rest in peace.

Comic-book artist and ‘Preacher’ creator Steve Dillon dies at 54

Artist Steve Dillon, who co-created the comic-book series on which the AMC show Preacher is based, has died in New York at 54.

His brother and fellow cartoonist, Glyn, confirmed the news on Twitter but did not go into the details of his older brother’s death.

The English-born Dillon got his start at age 16 by providing the artwork for Marvel UK’s Hulk Weekly. While still in the U.K., he worked on Doctor Who Weekly, for which he created the character of Abslom Daak, Nick Fury and Warrior.

He left for the United States in the 1980s and began the next phase of his career at DC Comics, creating artwork for Skreemer, Animal Man and The Atom. His first big success came in the early ’90s as the result of his partnership with writer Garth Ennis on the Hellblazer series.

Dillon and Ennis reteamed in 1995 to create the acclaimed Preacher for Vertigo Comics, which is still revered as a classic work. It earned Dillon the Eisner award, the comic-book industry’s equivalent of an Oscar, in 1996. USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt described the series as “ultra-violent, often funny and slightly blasphemous.”

AMC premiered its well-received TV adaptation of Preacher, starring Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga, in May. The show, wrote Truitt, managed to “make the network’s zombie hit The Walking Dead look like TheCare Bears.” The show returns for its second season in 2017.

Along with Ennis, Dillon returned to Marvel in 2000 to work on The Punisher. His other creations include the Dogwelder character for Ennis’ Hitman series.

Seth Rogen, who serves as an executive producer on the TV version of Preacher, called Dillon “my favorite comic artist who drew my favorite comics.”

Brian Lynch, who wrote the animated film The Secret Life of Pets, wrote, “Thank you for Preacher and some of the greatest Punisher stories. I can’t believe this, this stinks.”


I love this casting news!!

Donald Glover cast as young Lando in Han Solo ‘Star Wars’ film

Donald Glover is joining the “Star Wars” universe.

The acclaimed actor and Grammy-nominated artist, has been cast as young Lando Calrissian in the still-untitled Han Solo standalone film, set for release in 2018.

The movie, from directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, will show Lando “in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld.”

Lando was played by Billy Dee Williams in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

Glover joins Alden Ehrenreich, who was cast as Han Solo in July.
“We’re so lucky to have an artist as talented as Donald join us,” said Lord and Miller in a statement. “These are big shoes to fill, and an even bigger cape, and this one fits him perfectly, which will save us money on alterations. Also, we’d like to publicly apologize to Donald for ruining Comic-Con for him forever.”

Glover was formerly a cast member on NBC’s beloved cult comedy “Community.”

He now stars on FX’s “Atlanta,” which he also created, and will appear in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” opened in December and broke records at the box office. To date, it has earned over $2 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in December.


I was lucky enough to see both Secret Path shows this week and each was powerful and heartbreaking. Stay strong Gord!

Gord Downie’s Unknown Path

None of what follows is to say that last summer’s glorious national outpouring wasn’t the astonishing thing it was, when the Tragically Hip and its lead singer, Gord Downie, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last December, took a goodbye tour and stopped the country still.

The self-described King of the Hosers and his band had composed the true national anthems of a generation. The Hip’s last waltz created something else again: a collective stillness that reminded millions of Canadians of what it meant to be here, and what it will mean when Gord Downie isn’t.

But that was last summer. This story isn’t about that. This story is about what happens to Gord Downie next.

On the band bus last Monday, halfway between Peterborough and Ottawa, Gord Downie is talking about reading and writing and listening to music, which means he is talking about his memory. Two craniotomies since last December to remove a glioblastoma multiforme in his left lobe, plus radiation and chemo, have left him with an unreliable one. For the ultra-literate, hyper-word-conscious Downie, this is a cruel fate.

You can see his scar, a sunken valley dropping down his left temple from under the ever-present fedora or ballcap. He has his hats made at Lilliput Hats in Toronto, “at College near, what’s the name of that street, the one that’s west of Spadina, but not as far as” – “Grace?” – “not as far as Grace. Oh, God, you know, starts with a B,” and on it goes, until finally someone says “Bathurst!” and Downie says, “Good boy!” and is so visibly relieved you would think his house had just been rescued from a flood.

“It feels like it’s all melding together,” is how he sometimes describes his memory. He can change subjects faster than a hockey team can change lines, but he always has, and it’s not clear that it’s not intentional.

Downie has been in Peterborough with five of the best musicians in the country – Kevin Drew, Dave Hamelin and Charlie Spearin of Broken Social Scene, Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers – to rehearse Secret Path. It’s a collection of songs Downie wrote with Mr. Drew and Mr. Hamelin, set to an animated film based on a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire, who is to graphic novels today what Downie was to rock in the late-nineties. The songs, book and film tell the true story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwa boy who ran away from residential school in 1966 and died of exposure, 50 years ago on Sunday, trying to walk back home to his family, 600 kilometres away. It’s Downie’s latest, proudest project, and possibly his last. The next night, in Ottawa, where the band bus is headed, the lads are performing their rock opera for the first time at the National Arts Centre.

Downie hates the fact that he can’t remember names, which leaves holes in his patter. He gamely tries to fill them. Favourite Dylan album? He can remember the album cover but not the name of Street-Legal. He knows Van Morrison made an album in four days, but no longer recalls that it’s Astral Weeks. “Hey,” he says to the group when someone asks, “do any of you know what my favourite Hip song is? What’s the song, Vienna …

“ Springtime in Vienna.”

“Yeah. Good. Jesus.”

His conversation flows like that now, forward but sometimes around. “I’m thinking the way I talk now is like the way a native person walks. And the way they talk. And if we want to take a moment” – he pauses – “and prepare our thoughts” – “no one’s going to jump in. It’s about patience, and respect.” He appreciates the consideration more than he ever did before. “I appreciate it, because I just discovered it.”

His portable pill box, mostly anti-seizure medication, has at least 50 compartments. He gets the pills from his younger brother Pat, a former sound engineer in Boston who has moved to Toronto to take care of Gord (Pat, 48, has separated from his wife, as Downie did from his before he became ill). “I can’t be left alone,” Downie says. “Apparently.” Their older brother Mike, 56 (a documentary filmmaker and co-producer of Secret Path) is on the bus as well. They’re the kind of family that under duress takes refuge in family. When their father Edgar died last Halloween, each brother took a souvenir from his belongings. Mike took his wedding ring; Pat took a gold chain; Gord took his false front tooth, which he carries in a jewel bag and occasionally produces in meetings. No further description necessary.

Downie has started to read again – he couldn’t remember anything long enough to do so immediately after his operations – and can now put in 15 to 20 minutes with a book at a stretch. He feels stronger than he did, but doesn’t know how long he has: His cancer is the kind that can change its mind. “But I may be one of the lucky ones. I’m reluctant to say, because I’m kind of throwing the snake eyes. What if I live another seven years, and people say, ‘you asshole!?’”

He worries more now about his emotional ledger. He has always tried to be like his father, “but it’s impossible. Because I’m conveniently cutting out all the times I was a dick. But all the people forgave me for that. Or it feels like that. I think those people knew that I didn’t want to do that, didn’t want to be like that. And after this thing happened” – he makes a judo chop toward his head, his standard move – “they all were friends.”

Still, his recovery has been uneven. A month after the first seizure last December, he wrote and recorded 17 as yet unpublished songs with Kevin Drew, in four days. The songs were about people who have meant something to him, and contain a detail only that person will recognize. Very Gord. It was a freer way of writing. “I kept trying to write them in the way I’m talking to you, or the way I talked to, you know, Mansbridge. Taylor Mansbridge.” This time it’s an intentional joke. (He makes lots of those.) “I came home from that recording session thinking that I had reached the peak of the hill, the, you know, learning curve. And then two days later I had this horrendous seizure.” That led to operation two, to chemo and radiation. Six weeks before the summer tour, he couldn’t remember the names of his albums. He has recorded some music with the Hip since, but has written very little in his ever-present Moleskine notebook. He labels them with letters of the alphabet. He’s up to Y. He says he’s not worried.

He claims to forget the names of his kids, but it seldom occurs. Will he miss them? “I won’t know, will I?” he asks, fake sneering. Louie, his 16-year-old son, is on the bus too, sitting on a bench under the bus-brown enamelized walls – it’s like riding inside a large intestine – in the protective custody of all the people keeping each other company while Gord Downie fades away. Louie had a panic attack when he first learned his father had had a seizure. He’s tall, skinny, wants to be a drummer. He played his first gig last Saturday; his father, 52, was his roadie. “That was exciting for me to see,” Downie says. The band’s name was Lois Lane – until they discovered that another band, a Dutch girl group, had already taken it. Now Louie’s band is considering Dutch Girl Group as an alternative.

The other name Downie never forgets is Edgar – his father’s. The Downie boys worshipped him, and still do. Three days after they buried him, Gord Downie had his first seizure. It was a bad winter.

“He was so Zen,” Downie says. “And if you said that to him, he’d say, ‘What’s Zen?’” Edgar sat down when he peed, out of consideration for his wife and daughters. “We all do that,” Gord says, and the brothers nod. “Small little guy.” Edgar hated anything really frightening, really upsetting, really ugly. Downie now understands he was the same, but couldn’t admit it as a teenager. “Maybe that’s why I became a writer.”

There’s a long pause. “That could be my sensation as I’m going out,” Downie muses. “‘Oh, there’s Edgar.’ That’d be fabulous.”

Today, the morning of the big show, 27-odd members of the Wenjack family are allegedly visiting Ottawa’s Museum of Civilization. But Pearl Wenjack is hitting the Rideau Centre to shop.

“I wanted to do something, naturally,” says Chanie’s older sister as she makes her way to the indoor mall. “But I didn’t know how.” She had been praying to the Creator that she might get a call from Oprah Winfrey – “that’s the only show we watch” – when, one morning a year and a half ago, the phone rang. “Hello?” Pearl said.

“Hi,” a man’s voice replied. “I’m Mike.”

Mike Downie first heard about Chanie Wenjack in a short CBC Radio documentary in 2013. The story shook him. He’d heard of residential schools, but like most Canadians didn’t know much about them. Mike began to dig into the story. He found a 1967 Maclean’s story about Chanie’s death, by Ian Adams. Mike told Chanie’s story to his pal, the novelist Joseph Boyden, hoping they might write a screenplay together. Boyden mentioned it to Gord, also a friend. The following morning, Gord called Mike. He too was hooked. It happened so fast it was almost weird.

When, according to one insider, Boyden’s screenplay didn’t seem to be materializing, Gord Downie started to write poems tracing Chanie’s fatal walk down the tracks to home. The poems became songs and an album recorded three years ago by Kevin Drew and the band. The songs were followed (after Mike and Gord suggested it) by a graphic novel courtesy of Jeff Lemire. Eventually, after Edgar’s death, Gord’s cancer and the Hip’s famous last tour, Mike and his production partner, Stuart Coxe, persuaded the CBC to take on an animated film version of Lemire’s book, to be attached to Gord’s music. (It airs Sunday on CBC at 9 p.m. ET.)

All of which was impressive, but for the touchy question of cultural appropriation. Was Chanie Wenjack’s story fair game for a bunch of white guys? As if to underscore the question, a (fairly) good-natured artistic rivalry sprang up: Boyden – who is of mixed Scottish and Anishinaabe heritage, and a friend of the Downie brothers – wrote a Heritage Minute about Chanie last summer, scooping the anniversary of his death. He also recently published Wenjack, a slim book, with a rival publisher. (The Downie-Lemire book is already scaling the bestseller list and being reprinted, despite a run of 50,000 copies.) Boyden has also collaborated on a new album by A Tribe Called Red, a crossover First Nations hip-hop band. This game could be called Downies and Indians.

Mindful of their outsider status, Gord, Mike, Pat and a slew of First Nations elders went to Ogoki Post in Northern Ontario to visit Pearl Wenjack in September. The result was the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund, dedicated to “cross-cultural education to support healing and recovery.” Between the 1880s and 1996, 150,000 children were sent by the federal government to residential schools in Canada. More than 20,000 are thought to have died while at school. It isn’t clear Chanie ever understood why he had to go away.

This is the darkness Downie and his cohort are drawn to. “I’ve spent my last 10 years with the Barenaked Ladies playing If I Had a Million Dollars,” Kevin Hearn says. “It’s a thrill to be part of something dark, something serious.” But it was Gord who seemed to feel it most intensely. He was muttering about Secret Path as he came out of one of his surgeries. During the tour he knew the lyrics to The Stranger, one of its songs, better than he knew the words to the Hip hit Bobcaygeon. There are spiritually inclined elders and partners on the Downie team who think the Secret Path project is making Gord Downie stronger.

“I didn’t know there were residential schools up there until 12 years ago,” Downie says. The more he learned, the more he wondered why he didn’t know more about them, why they weren’t talked about in school. (The subject is only now being included in the history curricula of all provinces.) He thought the presence of a 10,000-year-old indigenous culture had the potential to make Canada unique in the world. Instead, “we decided to put them away in a third-floor bedroom and lock it. It’s just baffling to me.” Canada had never felt like a real country to Downie (as fans of his Hip songs know); without reconciling the twin solitudes of the indigenous and non-indigenous, which he considers to be a 150-year-project, it never will.

“You start looking at all this stuff,” Downie observes, and “and it does start putting a damper on all the stuff we’re doing to celebrate 150 years of nationhood.”

Secret Path is his attempt to change that path in the uncertain stretch of time he has left. “If this is the last thing I do,” he says, “then I’m happy.” So far, it’s working. The fund opened with $3-million in major donations, but since the premiere on Tuesday has raised another $100,000 in small gifts. The average donation is $8.

At first, when the lights went down in the National Arts Centre on Tuesday, the audience didn’t know how to react: It didn’t know what it was watching. There was Gord Downie’s familiar shovel-of-gravel of a voice, the familiar jean jacket with the lapel compass and a beaded poppy commemorating First Nations veterans. But everything else was unfamiliar: the six monitors to help him remember the words, the haunting, almost orchestral music, the spare chanting lyrics, the tom-tom pulse of the drums driving the starkly drawn boy’s journey down the endless railway tracks in the huge animated film on a screen behind the band.

By the third song they were applauding. By the end, they were standing. The Governor-General was there, and you could hear the Wenjack relatives whooping it up in front. Placards throughout the lobby warned of an emotionally difficult evening, and offered professional counsel to anyone who needed some. (Several did.) Weepers were asked to deposit their Kleenexes in birch-bark baskets, so their sadness could be burned away, according to native custom. The ushers collected 30 bags of snotty tissue by the end of the show.

Of course, as grave as Chanie Wenjack’s story is, it was the added irony of Gord Downie’s situation, his own looming stagger down the short track ahead of him, that gave the show its extra shudder. Never mind that the lyrics had been written three years earlier, before Downie was dying. You could feel the resonance especially in the penultimate number, The Only Place to Be, as Chanie, frozen and hungry, lies down beside the tracks for the last time: I’ll just close my eyes/I’ll just catch my breath… I’ve got lots of time/My whole life ahead/This is the only place to be. The end is very near by then, and in his fevered mind he sees his home, and his father, and happily leaves this world and enters whatever place it is the mere memory of someone can come from.

Then the final anthem rolled out, the lyrics riding over resolving chords: I feel here… I hurt here… I lived here, here and here, I die here, here and here. More places than we ever know, that is, more significant than we ever imagine. That seems to be the way a life goes, whether it is white or native. That was Gord Downie’s point, and his retort to the anti-appropriationists.

“The white man will only listen to the white man,” Claudette Commanda, a local Algonquin elder, said of the play’s intentions. “If Gord Downie’s gonna be the white man that is going to go out there and raise the social conscience of Canadians and government, so be it.” Sheila North Wilson, the Grand Chief of Northern Manitoba who had been with Gord up in Ogoki Post, took a more generous view. “One of the greatest gifts a man can give is to give his life for his friends,” she said. “And that’s what he’s doing. Decades later, that’s what we’ll look back on.”

Maybe. Reconciliation has eluded Canada for 150 years, and while a more inclusive school curriculum is an improvement, it’s still a long haul. On the other hand, three days after the Downies left Ogoki Post, Pearl had another call.

It was Mike again. The brothers wanted to build a log cabin next to hers. She couldn’t believe it. “That’s where Gord wants to spend his last days, up there,” Mike said. “You and I are gonna take care of Gord.” Pearl is okay with that. She’s taken care of dying people lots of times, and her brother-in-law is the local builder. He’ll be cutting the logs in the spring.

And if the house becomes a visiting artist’s residence after Gord dies, one of a future string of such houses on indigenous lands across the country financed by the fund, well, Mike Downie is a guy with a lot of ideas. Until then, Gord says, “I need to see my kids, so I’ll go back and forth. I dream about it, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Because of the feeling you get when you go up there. The people I’ve met, they’re so beautiful.” Which is another way of saying they don’t judge you, because they too know what it’s like to face extinction.


It’s a great read!

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’: 10 things we learned

Tramps like us: baby, we were born to read.

Hardcore Bruce Springsteen fans will already have a copy of his new memoir, Born to Run. Everybody else should hurry up and get one.

As a writer, Springsteen is funnier than you might expect and adept at getting into the nitty-gritty emotion of his life.

His prose style appears easy-breezy, but he’ll sneak up on you with a lovely turn of phrase or incisive observation that’s profoundly affecting.

Springsteen also admits: “I haven’t told you ‘all’ about myself. Discretion and the feelings of others don’t allow it. But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise: to show the reader his mind.

“In these pages I’ve tried to do that.”

He succeeds. Here are 10 revelations from Born to Run:

1. Depression turns up in Springsteen’s family, particularly affecting his father, Doug. When Springsteen was 16 and his grandmother died, his father became unhinged to the point where Springsteen had to face the fact that his dad was truly not well.

The author is almost too good at describing what it feels like to face the black dogs and in the chapter titled Zero To Sixty In Nothing Flat, he does just that. Depression hounded him when he was in his early 60s, and he writes about how wife, Patti Scialfa, and anti-depressants saved his bacon.

2. You may have known Springsteen was raised Catholic, but the book makes it clear that he was CATHOLIC. He was even an altar boy, and writes about getting cuffed by the priest at a 6 a.m. mass for not knowing his Latin responses.

His fifth grade teacher tried to help:

“Sister Charles Marie, who’d been present at the thrashing, handed me a small holy medal. It was a kindness I’ve never forgotten.”

Anyone who ever got backhanded by a guy in a surplice and cassock can relate.

Doing hard time in ye olde Catholic Church and his often rocky relationship with his father appear to be the crucial elements of Springsteen’s formative years. Not in a good way.

He was eventually able to work things out with his father, however.

3. As he learned to play guitar, a young Springsteen fantasized that the Rolling Stones would come to town, have a crisis and need him to replace an ailing Mick Jagger. The fantasy was always the same: The crowd went wild!

4. Springsteen hates the sound of wind chimes. In his childhood an abusive neighbour had some at his house on Institute Street.

5. At age 21, he didn’t know a single person who’d ever been on a plane, couldn’t drive a car himself and had never had a drink. One of the best things about Born to Run is how Springsteen captures 1950s and ‘60s small-town America and shows how profoundly life has changed for regular working stiffs over the last 60 years.

6. Other than a brief stint tending his aunt’s lawn, Springsteen says he has never worked at anything other than being a musician and performer. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have his doubts. About landing on the covers of both Newsweek and Time magazines in 1975 he writes, “I’d fixed it good so we couldn’t go back, only forward, so that’s where we went.”

7. Thanks to unpaid taxes, lousy first contracts and the usual young artist errors, Springsteen was broke until 1982, a decade after he first signed with Columbia Records.

8. The singer had an unexpected late life friendship with Frank Sinatra, which began after he and his wife were invited to a party by Sammy Cahn’s wife Tita — who Patti had encountered at the nail salon.

9. After the terrifying Northridge earthquake of 1994 in California, where Springsteen and his wife and kids were living at the time (his youngest son had just been born), the singer called Tommy Mottola, then president of Sony, and got a corporate jet to take him and his family back to New Jersey. In a 508-page memoir, that’s the closest thing to any sort of ‘star’ behaviour that ever comes up.

10. He works hard at being a good and present father to his three kids.

“Our house was free of gold albums, Grammys or another musical mementos. My kids didn’t know Badlands from matzo ball soup. When they were children, when I was approached on the street for autographs, I’d explain to them that in my job I was Barney (the then-famous purple dinosaur) for adults.”

Springsteen is straight-up about his kids’ response to seeing his first music video (for Dancing in the Dark) many years after it was made:

“Dad, you look ridiculous!”


Congrats to all of the nominees!!

Drake earns a record 13 American Music Award nominations

Toronto-born rapper Drake earned a record-breaking 13 American Music Awards nominations on Monday, surpassing Michael Jackson’s 1984 mark of 11 in a single year.

Rihanna received seven nominations, and Adele and Justin Bieber tied with five each. Beyoncé and the Chainsmokers each received four nominations. Bryson Tiller, Twenty One Pilots, Carrie Underwood, Fetty Wap and The Weeknd earned three nominations each.

In the favourite male pop/rock artist category, three Canadians are in contention — Drake, Bieber of Stratford, Ont., and The Weeknd, who hails from Toronto.

Nominees for artist of the year are Adele, Beyoncé, Bieber, Drake, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Twenty One Pilots, Carrie Underwood and The Weeknd.

Nominees for the title of new artist of the year are Alessia Cara, the Chainsmokers, DNCE, Shawn Mendes and Zayn. There is no overall song of the year category this year; instead, honours will be handed out for best song in the categories of pop/rock, country, rap/hip-hop and soul/R&B.

Nominations are based on a metric that includes sales, airplay and social activity tracked by Billboard magazine and its partners. Winners are determined by fan votes on the show’s website or through Facebook and Twitter.

Drake, now based in Los Angeles, is riding high on his collaboration with Rihanna on Work, and on his One Dance, recorded with Wizkid & Kyla, which was named song of the summer by Billboard. One Dance, a single from the album Views, was a No. 1 hit in Canada and Britain, as well as several European countries.

He has been nominated 10 times before without winning. Jackson, who died in 2009, has the record for the biggest AMA winner, with 26 overall, once taking eight in a single year.

Last year, One Direction won artist of the year honours, Taylor Swift’s Blank Space was crowned song of the year and Sam Hunt was named best new artist.

The awards show, known for its occasionally raunchy or outrageous performances, will air live Nov. 20 on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Nominees in selected categories:

Artist of the year:

Selena Gomez.
Ariana Grande.
Twenty One Pilots.
Carrie Underwood.
The Weeknd.
New artist of the year:

Alessia Cara.
The Chainsmokers.
Shawn Mendes.
Favourite male artist:

Justin Bieber,
The Weeknd.
Favourite female artist:

Selena Gomez.
Favourite album:

Adele’s 25.
Bieber’s Purpose.
Drake’s Views.


Whoever is going to fill the role, just make another movie already!!

Daniel Craig on James Bond franchise: ‘I’d miss it terribly’

In the midst of the Spectre press tour, 007 star James Bond said that he would “rather break this glass and slash my wrists” than play superspy James Bond in another movie. Craig has been clarifying those comments and walking back their implications for a year now, and this weekend at the New Yorker Festival, he sounded a little more interested in a return to the series.

“When asked 20 feet from the end of the marathon, ‘Will you do another marathon?’ the answer is simple,” he joked. “It’s like, ‘No, I won’t.’” He went on to note how much he enjoyed working on the series: “There is no other job like it…if I were to stop doing it, I would miss it terribly.” (Craig’s statements were captured on video by Phil Nobile Jr. of Birth.Movies.Death.)

According to Craig, there have been no discussions about a follow-up to Spectre, which earned over $880.7 million at the global box office but was unquestionably a qualitative step down from its predecessor Skyfall. (Counterargument: If you’re a fan of Crazy Bond, Spectre might count as a high point.) “There’s no conversation going on,” said Craig, “Because everybody’s just a bit tired.” Craig is 48 and has done four Bond films; previous Bond Pierce Brosnan was roughly the same age, with the same number of Bond films under his belt, when he was let go from the series. Then again, Brosnan’s films never made the kind of money Craig’s last couple of movies have – so there may be some added incentive to bring Craig back for a final film.


No movies again last week, but the Blue Jays don’t play again until Friday, so I’m going to see a lot of movies this week!!

Box office report: The Girl on the Train chugs along at No. 1 with $24.7 million

Despite middling reviews, DreamWorks’ The Girl on the Train — distributed by Universal under its new partnership with Amblin Partners — is off to a solid start at the weekend box office, pulling out of the station with an estimated $24.7 million.

The Emily Blunt thriller, based on Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel of the same name, scores a per-screen average of $7,844 at 3,144 locations — a decent box office kickoff for the $45 million thriller, though its B- grade on CinemaScore suggests that while audiences turned out for the film, they weren’t exactly impressed with the mystery’s page-to-screen adaptation.

The Girl on the Train marks the sixth best start for any of Blunt’s wide releases. Her highest-grossing debut to date stands as The Wolfman, which launched with $31.5 million in 2010.

As expected, Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children shed roughly 48 percent of its audience, raking in $15 million over its sophomore frame. The $110 million film, director Tim Burton’s first live-action fantasy since 2012’s Dark Shadows, expanded its theater count by 183 on Friday, bringing its location count to 3,705. It’s now the widest release of any film currently on the market.

The film’s domestic total stands at a smidge above $51 million after 10 days in theaters, slightly ahead of Shadows’ initial 10-day gross of $50.7 million.

In its second week, Mark Wahlberg’s Deepwater Horizon falls 42 percent to an estimated $11.8 million, finishing the weekend in the No. 3 position. The $110 million action-drama, based on the real-life events leading up to the 2010 BP oil spill, also stars Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich.

Rounding out the top five are the Denzel Washington-starring Western remake, The Magnificent Seven, which brought in an estimated $9.2 million ($75.9 million total) at No. 4, and Warner Bros. Animations’ Storks, which continues its gentle descent by another 37 percent, finishing the weekend at No. 5 with an estimated $8.5 million ($50.1 million overall).

Fox Searchlight’s $17.5 million investment in The Birth of a Nation didn’t pay off across the film’s debut weekend, as the drama — plagued by controversy surrounding a 17-year-old rape case revolving around the film’s director, Nate Parker, and co-screenwriter, Jean Celestin — makes a soft $7.1 million at No. 6. The film averages $3,373 on 2,105 screens, though it notches the highest audience grade of the week’s new releases on CinemaScore, earning a rare A.

The family-oriented comedy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, finishes the week in seventh place, making an estimated $6.9 million from 2,822 screens.

Overall box office is up 3.9 percent from the same period last year. Check out the Oct 7-9 weekend box office estimates below.

1. The Girl on Train – $24.7 million
2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – $15 million
3. Deepwater Horizon – $11.8 million
4. The Magnificent Seven – $9.2
5. Storks – $8.5
6. The Birth of a Nation – $7.1 million
7. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life – $6.9 million
8. Sully – $5.3 million
9. Masterminds – $4.1 million
10. Queen of Katwe – $1.6 million


More sad news from 2016. May Mr. Temperton rest in peace.

Rod Temperton, ‘Thriller’ Songwriter, Dead at 66

Rod Temperton, the songwriter behind Michael Jackson’s hit singles “Thriller,” “Rock With You” and “Off the Wall,” died last week in London following a brief battle with cancer. He was 66.

“Rod Temperton, British Composer and Musician, died last week at the age of 66 in London following a brief aggressive battle with cancer,” Warner/Chappell CEO Jon Platt wrote in a statement (via BBC News).
“His funeral was private,” Platt added. “He was often referred to as ‘The Invisible Man.’ He was the sole writer of multiple successful songs such as ‘Thriller,’ ‘Off The Wall,’ ‘Rock With You,’ [George Benson’s] ‘Give Me The Night,’ [Michael McDonald’s] ‘Sweet Freedom,’ [Heatwave’s] ‘Always & Forever’ and ‘Boogie Nights’ to name just a few. His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times.”

Before linking up with the King of Pop, Temperton first served as keyboardist and primary songwriter for the disco-funk outfit Heatwave, including that group’s smash singles “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever.” After two albums as a performer with Heatwave – 1976’s Too Hot to Handle and 1978’s Central Heating – Temperton segued into a full-time songwriter role.

In 1979, Quincy Jones sought out Temperton as the producer began work on what would become Michael Jackson’s first solo album in four years, Off the Wall. For the LP, Temperton contributed three tracks: “Off the Wall,” “Rock With You” and the closer “Burn This Disco Out.”

Three years later, Jones and Temperton would reconnect for Jackson’s Thriller, with the songwriter concocting both the album title and its world-changing title track.

“Originally, when I did my demo, I called it ‘Starlight,’ Quincy said to me, ‘Well, you came up with the title of the last album, see what you can do for this album.’ I said, ‘Great,'” Temperton said of “Thriller” in a BBC Radio 2 interview. “I went back to the hotel, I wrote two or three hundred titles for this song. Then I came up with the title ‘Midnight,’ [Jones] said that’s a little bit more mystery, more where you should be heading … The next morning I woke up and I just said this word.

“Something in my head just said ‘This is the title.’ You could visualize it on top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandizing of this one word; it jumped off the page at you. So I knew I had to write it as ‘Thriller,’ and I wrote all the words very quickly, then went to the studio and we did it.”

Temperton is also credited with infusing “Thriller” with its horror movie overtones.

“When I wrote ‘Thriller,’ I always envisioned this sort of talking section at the end, and didn’t really know what we were gonna do there,” Temperton said. “But one thing I’d thought about was to have somebody, a famous voice in the horror genre, to do this vocal. Quincy’s wife knew Vincent Price, so Quincy said to me, ‘How about if we got Vincent Price?’ And I said that’d be amazing if we can get him.”

In addition to “Thriller,” which revolutionized the music video genre, Temperton also penned “Baby Be Mine” and “The Lady in My Life” for what ultimately became the best-selling album of all time.

Temperton remained a prolific songwriter, penning songs for Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Donna Summer, the Manhattan Transfer, Jones and McDonald. (McDonald turned Temperton’s “Sweet Freedom” into a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 and a Golden Globe nominee.) McDonald and James Ingram also sang the Temperton-co-penned “Yah Mo B There.”

In 1989, Temperton, Jones and Lionel Richie’s The Color Purple song “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, where it lost to Richie’s White Nights theme “Say You, Say Me.”

“So saddened to hear about the passing of Rod Temperton,” McDonald tells Rolling Stone. “He was a truly kind and generous man with lethal musical aim in the recording studio. His talent made him a giant in my eyes and his compositions will always be amongst the classic R&B songbook.”


No movies for me last week, I was watching baseball. Go Jays Go!!

Box office report: Miss Peregrine perches at No. 1 with $28.5 million

Two big-budget Hollywood spectacles clashed for the top spot at the weekend box office; both budgeted at around $110 million, Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon ultimately proved to be no match for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, as the Tim Burton flick finishes its debut frame at No. 1, earning an estimated $28.5 million between Friday and Sunday.

Miss Peregrine’s No. 1 debut comes in a hair shy of Burton’s previous live-action blockbuster, Dark Shadows, which premiered to $29.7 million back in 2012. While the latter was widely seen as a box office disappointment, finishing its domestic run with just under $80 million, it scored $165 million from overseas markets, and Miss Peregrine is poised to do the same. Still, it’s arguably in position for a healthier run in North America, with stronger critical reviews (64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audience reaction (it stands at a B+ on CinemaScore) than Burton’s last studio fantasy.

Deepwater Horizon, starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, and Kate Hudson, crosses the finish line at No. 2 with an estimated $20.6 million (including $3.7 million from 492 IMAX locations). Though its weekend numbers amount to a little more than half of what Wahlberg and Berg’s previous collaboration, 2013’s Lone Survivor, made across its freshman three-day frame, the action-drama, based on the real-life events leading up to the 2010 BP Oil Spill, earned the best audience reviews (A- on CinemaScore) of this week’s new releases.

Taking a bigger tumble than early projections suggested, last week’s box office champ, The Magnificent Seven, falls two spots to No. 3, making an estimated $15.7 million after a 55 percent decline. Deepwater Horizon likely tapped into Seven’s potential audience, but the Antoine Fuqua-directed western is enjoying healthy worldwide totals, pacing ahead of its $90 million production budget with global numbers amounting to over $108 million and counting.

Warner Bros. Animation’s Storks dips from No. 2 to No. 4 across its second weekend in wide release, shedding a slight 35 percent as it decreases from from $21.3 million to an estimated $13.8 million. The $70 million picture — the second to be released under WB’s animation division — features an all-star voice cast including Jennifer Aniston, Andy Samberg, Ty Burrell, Kelsey Grammer, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key.

Rounding out the top 5 is Clint Eastwood’s Sully, which crosses the $100 million mark after its fourth weekend in theaters. Unadjusted for inflation, the $60 million Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger biopic becomes the Hollywood icon’s fifth directorial effort to gross over $100 million, and star Tom Hanks’ 19th. By mid-week, the film should surpass 2013’s Captain Phillips ($107 million) as Hanks’ highest-earning live-action film since Angels & Demons earned $133 million in 2009.

Relativity’s critically-lampooned comedy Masterminds, starring Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig, falls in line with modest projections, taking an estimated $6.6 million at No. 6.

As it expands from specialty release into 1,242 theaters, Disney’s Queen of Katwe stumbles at No. 7, earning a weak $2.6 million with a per-theater average of just $2,100. Still, the Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo-fronted film was the runner-up for the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival’s prestigious People’s Choice Award, and notched an incredible A+ grade on CinemaScore following its limited bow on Sept. 23.

Check out the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 box office estimates below:

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – $28.5 million
2. Deepwater Horizon – $20.6 million
3. The Magnificent Seven – $15.7 million
4. Storks – $13.8 million
5. Sully – $8.4 million
6. Masterminds – $6.6 million
7. Queen of Katwe – $2.6 million
8. Don’t Breathe – $2.4 million
9. Bridget Jones’s Baby – $2.3 million
10. Snowden – $2 million