HOLLYWOOD NORTH AND SOUTH: Rod Hussey, the Winnipeg band leader/producer just got back from California, where, he was mastering NaFro dance/drummer king Casimiro Nhussi's new African music album, which he recently recorded with a group of friends. Nhussi is from Mozambique, but this recording includes Congolese music as well. The tracks were all laid down at Lloyd Peterson's studio in Winnipeg. Says producer Hussey, "I worked with Tim Feehan, originally from Edmonton, who lives in L.A. and now owns Park Drive Mastering. We played with it, balanced out all the levels, put the varnish on it and made it radio-ready." Hussey was bunking with his cousin Pepper Foster of Chip and Pepper beach clothing fame, high in the north Hollywood Hills, where Mary J. Blige lives just up the road.
-- -- --
PLAYING SHERLOCK: Something suspicious is going on with Pepper Foster.
He has his own office on the 20th Century Fox lot, where there are studios for people developing new shows. Yours truly tracked Pepper down in his car on an L.A. freeway. He was shouting at the phone. Why?
"It's hands-free down here. If the cops see you on a cellphone, they don't stop you, they shoot you!" he joked. After a little professional columnist pressure, he confessed he'd just been offered a big deal in L.A. "It's kind of a docudrama -- two or three concepts. We need to work out some rights. I haven't signed yet, but they want to start shooting in 60 days," he said.
-- -- --
HOCKEY IN LA-LA LAND: Psst! Foster was recovering Thursday morning from playing hockey in a pickup game of stars and NHL players, including the pride of Winkler, Dustin Penner, from the Los Angeles Kings. "The first 25 who show up at the secret rink (named that day, so fans don't show up) get to play, and they split into two teams."
Other stars who join them when they can include actors Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Dave Boreanaz from the TV show Bones, movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Goon star Christian Lalonde and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Former Winnipeggers on the ice include Brian Turner of K-tel fame and casting agent Clint Peters.
-- -- --
MAKING BULLIES DISAPPEAR: Offstage, world-renowned Winnipeg magician Brian Glow is a little guy. But he learned early on how to make bullies disappear or transform them into someone nicer. Now he's teaching kids the skills.
Starting Monday, the magician/comedian, who's performed in more than 40 countries, from Japan to Bahrain, is taking his new act across Northern Canada during the deep freeze.
"It's a full tour of my new comedy magic show, with anti-bullying and anti-suicide workshops in the schools in each place I visit. I'm using magic for communication and self-esteem," Glow said.
"In a classroom setting, I can get the kids all together. On one level, I'm teaching them how to do magic tricks, like a coin trick, but I'm also teaching them how to speak to someone else and to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. Kids can get more respect for themselves and are less likely to get pushed around because they can't stand up for themselves."
Glow, who spent 17 winters performing in Jamaica, says he's not scared of the cold.
"In 2011, I did a full Arctic tour, sometimes with a windchill of 60 below!"
Stops include Manitoba communities such as Red Sucker Lake, Tadoule Lake, and Garden Hill.
"And there'll be a camera crew with us for some of the shows, because we're pushing a reality series," he said.
In the evenings, Glow stages shows for each community, which include mind-reading, Houdini escape parodies and, in one act, he produces a bowling ball from an empty paper bag.
"When that thing falls out, everyone craps," he said with a laugh. "Then I accidentally burn somebody's money up and it reappears in a totally impossible place."
-- -- --
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WINNIPEG STYLE: Musician Rubin Kantorovich innocently went to play a few tunes on his 60th birthday Tuesday at the Bella Vista and walked into a huge surprise party full of the who's-who of Winnipeg's music world, plus friends, family and former railway co-workers.
They soon hustled him onstage with his Dobro. He was joined by Mitch Dorge from the Crash Test Dummies playing the beatbox; Mike Jones on guitar, harmonica and vocal duties alongside his partner, Renée Delaurier; Leonard Shaw and Gerry Atwell on keyboards; and singer Karaleigh Vincent of the Eastwood Gang. John Hoeschen was on tambourine and cabassa and Bill Spornetz blew the sax.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.