Big buzz precedes Rogers Cup

Unlike last summer, when the women’s Rogers Cup was plagued by late withdrawals from big-name players, it looks like the top names in men’s tennis will appear on the marquee next week, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 1. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the world’s top two players, are expected to continue their rivalry next week on the hard courts of the Rexall Centre at York University. “Their rivalry is the biggest reason why we’re up 15 per cent (in ticket sales) on last year, said tournament director Grant Connell. “I’ve been part of this event as a player and doing little jobs for about 20 years and as far as I can remember, this is the best buzz we’ve had going into this tournament.”

Glendon alumnus takes up new post at UN

Canada’s new ambassador to the United Nations, York alumnus John McNee (BA ‘73 Glendon), has officially presented his credentials to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, reported CBC News online Aug. 1. In a brief meeting at the organization’s headquarters in New York, McNee, a career diplomat, gave Annan his dossier. McNee shook hands with Annan and several other officials in the room. McNee replaces Allan Rock, a former Liberal cabinet minister, who resigned in February, after the federal election. “He is an outstanding member of our foreign service, who will bring broad experience, seasoned judgment and great energy to his post,” said Rock in a statement in February.

Film student starts with right story

Ask up-and-comer Ryan Knight, 20, what makes a great filmmaker and he’ll tell you it starts with a passion for storytelling, reported Metro Aug. 1. “I love telling any story that is compelling,” says Knight in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. He is just wrapping up a summer program in film and digital cinematography at the University of Southern California before coming back to Toronto to complete his undergraduate studies in York University’s Film Program in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

“I am into character dramas and like seeing how someone can be affected internally by people around them.” It was after watching Saving Private Ryan, at age 13, that Knight first realized he wanted to be a filmmaker. “I was intensely touched by this film…[and it] made me realize that I want to tell stories.”

With 14 short films to his credit, Knight has a knack for telling powerful stories, evident in his two recent projects, Away From The Line, which reflects on the Second World War’s Battle of the Bulge, and The Road of the World, a narrative film about a family man called to duty during the First World War. Recently, he also learned that The Road of the World and his newly completed film, Norman, will both be screened at this year’s YoungCuts in Montreal, taking place later this month.

Senior scholar concerned with Israel’s overkill

Disingenuous and hypocritical come to mind when reading Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s expressions of sorrow for the Israeli bombing of the village of Qana in Lebanon which killed at least 50 villagers, wrote Pastor Valle-Garay, a Spanish-language lecturer and senior scholar with York’s Faculty of Arts, in a letter to the Toronto Star Aug. 1. Overkill would be more appropriate, a brutal terror tactic deliberately delivered once again on innocent people as a murderous lesson of Israeli might and firing power to the Hezbollah militias. It will backfire. It already has.

Middleton says airline’s issue will be substance not style

Industry analysts say Porter Airlines will face a considerable challenge of staying aloft amid intense competition from Air Canada’s regional carrier, Jazz, which recently announced plans to ramp up the number  of flights it offers from the Toronto Island airport, reported the National Post Aug. 1. That is likely why Porter is trying so hard to be different with its ads. Alan Middleton, who teaches marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said Porter’s advertising attempts to walk the fine line between being clever and fun, without coming off as gauche – something that would drive well-heeled business flyers further into Air Canada’s clutches.

“It reminds me a bit of Virgin, which tries not to take itself too seriously,” he said. “But it’s not quite the folksy, jokey kind of stuff that’s used by WestJet or Southwest. Porter seems to have recognized that it has a fairly sophisticated audience here.” However, Middleton said brand image is a relatively minor contributor to the success of a new airline. The critical test, he said, is whether Porter is able to deliver on its promise to offer “flying refined”. “I’ve yet to meet an airline in 2006 that makes me feel in any way refined,” he said. “I usually feel hassled and frustrated. The issue for Porter won’t be one of style, it will be one of substance.”