Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stay Tuned, Folks.

New posts along with a spanking new blog & website for my PR Atelier, Groupe Milagro, will be up soon. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where I Was September 11th, Nine Years Ago & What I Learned From It.

On the morning of September 11th 2001, I was living my 4th year in Miami and I was on the phone with my travel agent, booking a last minute trip for the next day to Port-au-Prince on American Airlines. Once confirmed on the flight, I left my apartment & drove to my office with the top of my convertible down, enjoying a quiet and perfectly weathered morning.

I was listening to the Howard Stern Show on the car radio and it was abruptly interrupted by a news bulletin. I forget how the newscaster had formulated it but the news was grim and by the time I reached my office, I was scared, in tears and defeated.

My phone started ringing off the hook. Calls mostly from my mom & my brother in Canada who had retained as only information from the devastating news that it involved an American Airlines flight: the only airline I flew. After reassuring them, I went into a complete panic. Not only had New York always been a favourite destination but one of my best friends lived there. Two of my dearest & closest cousins live d there. And, the love of my life who was already not mine anymore in 2001, also lived there. With a land line phone in one hand and a heavy mobile phone in another, I dialed frantically to reach them. No luck. By that time, the second plane had hit the other tower and flights all over the country were grounded. It’s at that moment that I was sure I was going to move back to Canada. The United States had become a country under attack and I urgently needed to come back to socialized medicine and maple syrup.

Two months after September 11th, I left my life in finance under the sun and moved back home. I did so with a suitcase full of post 9-11 inspired lessons:

• The world is filled with nameless heroes. In NY, they were Samaritans who helped out strangers in distress;
• Tomorrow is not yours;
• Make amends if it’s worth it. If it isn’t, move on.
• Being afraid doesn’t excuse phobias. Islam is not the enemy & it never was.
• If North American schools taught its children more about the world outside its borders, we’d all be better off. Hey Middle East: same goes for you.

But today, I have special thoughts for those who lost loved ones nine years ago. It was unfair & it had nothing to do with you. I’m sorry this year you cannot celebrate this remembrance in peace. I’m sorry the media is giving more attention to a crazy self-proclaimed pastor than it is paying homage to the ones you lost. For that & for many other reasons, you are nameless heroes. I salute you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So You've Fucked Up. Now What?

I just saw the commercial for the upcoming new season of Desperate Housewives. The beautifully shot 61 seconds features all four of the housewives and a newly-arrived-to-the-hood Vanessa Williams.

In 1983, Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America only to have to relinquish the title after naked pictures of her were published in Penthouse magazine. She rapidly became persona-non-grata and had as only prospect becoming a Wal-Mart greeter.  But instead, she mostly stayed away from the talk-shows and the media circus and retrieved to figure her life out. She always wanted to sing and act so she worked on her crafts – hard.  Vanessa released R n’ B hit after R N’ B hit. She hit Broadway and got rave reviews. She had children, raised them, ended an unhappy marriage, married a NBA player, and had another child while continuing to work on her crafts. 

As a publicist, I often recommend as crisis management to admit fault or address the problem, show remorse and humility then fade away until you have something good to say or when you have something good to sell. Brilliant examples of this mantra are Drew Barrymore, Nicole Richie, Robert Downey Jr. and Tiger Woods – once he wins a major again.  I wish Lindsay Lohan would follow this advice. Images of her out at Chateau Marmont right after rehab will do nothing for her career - nor will it garnish her the public's sympathy.

We all fuck up. Success will be determined on how you manage the post-fuck up in your second act.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Car On N'est Tous Personne.

Il y a des rencontres qui nous nous marquent pro-fon-dé-ment. Lors d’un dîner chez de amis en commun, il y a quelques années, je rencontrais René-Frantz Durosel. Je le connaissais de réputation puisque c’est le Maverick derrière l’ascension de Corneille. C’est lui aussi qui a mis Gage sur le palmarès ici et en France. Mais tout ça, c’est du passé et maintenant ranger dans les annales du R N’ B en français.

René est devenu un ami cher, un conseiller, un complice. Il est arrogant et têtu mais aussi un généreux & brillant ristaker et en plus, il me gâte souvent. Au début de l’été, il me donnait en primeur et sous embargo, le mp3 de « Personne », le premier tube de son artiste Dupuis. Depuis, je danse toute seule devant mon miroir en l’écoutant et "Personne" fait partie de ma trame sonore estivale.

À mon grand bonheur et avec beaucoup de fierté, je vous présente le vidéoclip de la chanson."Personne".  Montréal pride!

DUPUIS - Personne from Renzel Durosel on Vimeo.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Confessional | Rebecca Makonnen

Picture is the cover of Souche Magazine, now in stores. 

Rebecca Makonnen, Montréal | There is a new breed of hosts: those who can do just about anything. With an impressive resumé which started a decade ago at the all-video network Musique Plus, Rebecca Makonnen is part of that breed. Since then, she’s graduated to Radio-Canada: the prestigious Canadian institution. And since she’s multi-talented, it’s only normal that she does both Television & Radio. The very private Makonnen enters The Confessional and shows that yes, brains & beauty can coexist.  

What’s tougher? Waking up at 5AM for your morning radio show or entering The Confessional?  Ha!  Although I'm not fond of writing about myself, waking up at 5 am after getting five hours of sleep and trying to sound intelligent and coherent is quite the challenge.
You first got your start as a VJ at an (at the time) all video TV network. Since then, how do you measure the importance of the medium and does evolution mean progress?  I remember when getting a new video at MusiquePlus was big news. Someone would pop the videocassette in and we'd huddle around the screen, oohing and aahing over the latest Eminem video. Those days are gone since pretty much anyone can search YouTube for the new Gaga clip.
I myself don't rely on a video to convince me that a song or an album is worth buying. I think it does still have artistic value as a short film. Say what you will about M.I.A., her Romain Gavras-directed Born Free video was ballsy and thought-provoking. Now I mostly appreciate other initiatives like Chinatown's Salut Vieux Monde Sale, hilarious featurettes that showcase the band's personality and absurd sense of humour. It's less about the music, though, but it's pretty neat.
You’re quite the TV aficionado. Name your three favourite TV characters & tell us why you love them.  Eric the Vampire (Alexander Skarsgard) on True Blood : smoking hot, deadpan, wears Adidas track suits which is pretty awesome considering he's 2000 years old. 

Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) on Weeds: pot dealer, flawed mom, sexy 40-something, resourceful and ballsy.
Nurse Jackie (Edie Falco): morally ambiguous nurse, tough cookie with a soft creamy center, real, very real.
 Finish this sentence: “Enough already with … “  Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, Crocs, hipsters, cliques, illness, Arcade Fire, PCs, power-and-money hungry decisions-makers
What are the five perfect albums that are always just a shuffle away on your i-Pod.  "Arular" & "Kala", M.I.A. .
"Hypnotize", System of a Down 
"Santogold", Santigold 
"Confessions on a Dance Floor", Madonna 
Unplugged”, Jay-Z 
The Archandroid”,  Janelle Monáe

Name your three favourite following on Twitter, and tell us why.  I'm not brown-nosing right, but you're definitely one of my favorites . I appreciate the topical diversity and the brillant use of hashtags (Blogger’s note: Extremely flattered and proof once again that bribing works)
I also like @MarcCassivi, because his opinions are sometimes unpopular, yet he always defends them and thus stands up to the Québec star system.
Right now, @Real_MelGibson is providing lots of chuckles.
What is the moment you knew you had leaped from girl to super-woman?  If I was juggling two kids on top of everything else I might consider the title. I wouldn't call myself a superwoman, but I do know that I've entered adulthood about three years ago.
What has surprised you the most in the past 12 months?  That I'm actually enjoying making new friends. 
That I know what my priorities are. 
That I no longer have any patience for people who are always carefree and superficial, 24/7.
Where you were when you heard Michael Jackson had died? I was on Highway 20, going to see a play in Pointe-aux-Cascades. My heart was broken.
 You’re hosting the perfect dinner with the perfect celebrity chef. What’s on the menu, who’s the Chef, what are you wearing & what’s the soundtrack? Padma Lakshmi is making Bavette aux échalottes with pommes frites and haricots au beurre blanc. She's worldly and glamorous, so we can talk literature AND hair products. I'm wearing Adidas Gazelle and a sleek black Michael Kors dress.
You’ve interviewed a slew of Hollywood A-listers. Who was you most pleasant surprise and who are you dying to interview?  I was a huge Fresh Prince fan and I got the chance to interview Will Smith when The Pursuit of Happyness came out.  He opened the door to the suite and walked me to my chair and then back again when our chat was over.  Plus, he was adorable, funny, generous and talkative. The perfect gentleman and the perfect interviewee.
Daniel Craig was equally dashing and elegant and classy enough not to diss me when I flirted.
Trent Reznor was amazing : super intelligent and thoughtful, he even said I outsmarted him which meant a lot because I was fighting a fever (in Los Angeles) and wasn't feeling too hot.
Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were very cool, too.
I am DYING to interview Jay-Z, Dave Gahan, Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin. Is that too much to ask? You can keep Clooney & Pitt.
Name the book you wish you had written.  Anything by Nancy Huston, but specifically Dolce Agonia and Lignes de Faille. Absolutely brillant.
You are of mixed origin (half-Ethiopian, half-Acadian, all Canadian). How do you grade the role of the media in race relations?  On a scale of one to ten? Five. Six on a good day.   I can't believe that even though there's a Black President in the Oval Office, I can flip through Châtelaine and not see one Black/Hispanic/Asian model/personality/columnist. Where do these editors live and work? In Montréal!  Same goes for Québec television and movies - there's not one character you or I can relate to. It's lazy and irresponsible, not to mention absolutely insulting. Does that mean there is a total lack of Black/Hispanic/Asian writers and directors? Are they really the only ones who should carry the weight of representing us? Is anyone really studying the issue?

                Name your favourite line from a book, a song or a famous speech.  Dying is easy it's living that scares me to death - Annie Lennox.  I think it's pretty clever.

15.         Mel Gibson has a anti-Semitic rant and a few months later, there he was presenting an award at the Golden Globes. Chris Brown beats the lights out of his girlfriend Rihanna and a year later, people praise him because he happens to do a good moonwalk & he “cried” at a Michael Jackson tribute. What is going on in the World? And by World, I mean Hollyweird.  "Oh, how the Mighty have fallen". That sums up half of it. Everyone likes seeing the rich and powerful (and sometimes has-beens) get caught doing something stupid or manipulative or just plain wrong. We're all voyeurs. Thing is, Hollywood also likes redemption and forgives easily. As if Mel Gibon's body of work is just simply too great and too important to let a handful of nasty little racial rants wipe him off for good. There are other actors and directors and celebs, you know.

When will I see you next?  Probably sometime in the next two weeks.  Or this Fall on Studio 12 , which airs on Radio-Canada tv and radio. 

Follow her on Twitter.

The Cool & the Cool: Rebecca interviews Charlotte Gainsbourg:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Because Often, Older Is Better.

Photo by

We are obsessed with the new. We are obsessed with the young. In music, and in almost everything else for that matter, these two epithets do not necessarily mean better. The music charts are filled with ingrate & talentless artists who want the accolades without the blood, the sweat or the tears.

I attended a hips-challenging concert by mega Zouk group Kassav’ on Sunday night: the closing event of the excellent Nuits d’Afrique Festival in Montréal. After three decades, Kassav’, who hails from both Martinique & Guadeloupe, still gives one of the best get-down-and-boogie shows out there. The audience was packed with twenty & thirty-somethings that had difficulty keeping up, yours truly included. Take note, YouTube generation, that’s how it’s done.

Kassav’ in Rotterdam, in 2008:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wyclef For President? I'd rather not.

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What does it take to run a country? A Grammy? A mobile-phone commercial? The ability to create incredible guitar riffs? If so then all these rumors about Wyclef Jean running for President of Haïti may not be that crazy.

Already fuelling debates online, on talk radio & at social gatherings, the news of Wyclef’s impending announcement to run for President raises an important question: what does Haïti really need? I, of course, don’t have the complex answer.

The charismatic singer has launched remarkable initiatives in Haïti and his impassionate pleas over the years have helped put a much needed spotlight on the Island. With all the influence he already has and the mobilization he can create, one wonders why Wyclef would feel the need to run for office. Politics is the Art of Compromise, and even Wyclef wouldn’t be able to escape that.

Early supporters of the maybe-candidate will tell you he’ll bring change. Sure, but what will he be able to do in office that he can’t accomplish now? A country’s power lays in its citizens, especially when they are rich & powerful.

Oprah was once asked if she ever thought of running for President of the United States. Someone sitting next to her quickly replied: “Why would she? It would be a step down.”  Same goes for you Wyclef: keep on doing what you’re doing & leave the rat race to others who get high on protocol & titles.

I adressed the matter this morning on CBC's Daybreak. Listen here (at 13:55) :