Barry Michael Avrich (born May 9, 1963) is a Canadian film director, film producer, playwright, author, marketing executive and arts philanthropist. Avrich's film career has included critically acclaimed films about the entertainment business including The Last Mogul about film producer Lew Wasserman (2005), Glitter Palace about the Motion Picture Country Home (2005), and Guilty Pleasure about the Vanity Fair columnist and author Dominick Dunne (2004). Avrich also produced the Gemini-nominated television special Caesar and Cleopatra (2009) with Christopher Plummer.
Besides films, Avrich has also authored three books and one play and supported many leading cultural institutions including The Toronto International Film Festival and the Stratford Festival of Canada. Avrich was also responsible for creating the world's first state of the art movie theatre inside Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. children's hospital.[where?] Avrich won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2008.
Avrich was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Irving Avrich, a garment industry executive, and Faye Avrich, a housewife. His parents immersed him in the arts as a child. In school, Avrich produced talent shows and started experimenting with films. While attending Vanier College, he gravitated to the film program and while there, he produced many films. in 1980, he moved to Toronto where he continued to study film, art and theatre at both Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and the University of Toronto. While in school, Avrich started Rent-A-Fan Club, a company that offered "celebrity status" to people as a novelty by using his fellow acting students to create fan clubs. Soon after graduating, Avrich made two short films that would get him noticed: The King of Yorkville (1985) was a satirical parody of the 1980s dating scene that was picked up by local television stations in Canada, and The Madness of Method (1995), featuring M. Emmet Walsh, won a Gold Medal at the Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films.
Avrich created Melbar Entertainment Group in 1998 to produce documentary films. Along with producers Nat Brescia and Tori Hockin Laurence, Avrich has directed and produced many documentaries and television specials. His focus is generally on the entertainment industry and television specials including the music special, Bowfire for PBS (2008), One x One Gala (2007) for CTV and Caesar and Cleopatra (2009) for Bravo and CTV. Other films have chronicled defense attorney Edward Greenspan and the Rolling Stones promoter Michael Cohl. Recent projects have included films about Winston Churchill and David Steinberg. His 2010 film Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project went into limited release in February 2011. The Last Mogul (2005) is probably his best known film to date. The Variety critic Robert Koehler said of the documentary about Lew Wasserman, it "draws a full and balanced measure of the man, from his stratospheric rise to a remarkably humbling fall, and includes as thorough a study of the super-agent-turned-mogul's shady ties with organized crime as any feature docu could hope to muster."
Avrich began a marketing career in 1985 at Borden Advertising where he worked on national campaigns for the Canadian original production of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. In 1989, Avrich joined Echo Advertising where he became partner and eventually CEO. While at Echo, Avrich and his staff developed award winning international campaigns for such clients such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Rolling Stones, American Express, Sprint and for Broadway productions such as Ragtime, Show Boat, Fosse, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Canadian productions of The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Les Misérables. Avrich left Echo in 2005 after it was sold to a UK-based marketing firm and he started a boutique advertising agency. In 2009, Avrich won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award.
Barry Avrich married Melissa Manly in 1998 and they had a daughter in 2004.
- The King of Yorkville, 1987
- The Madness of Method, 1996
- Unforgettable: 100 years Remembered, 1998
- Glitter Palace, 2002
- Guilty Pleasure, 2002
- A Criminal Mind, 2005
- Satisfaction, 2006
- City Lights, 2002
- The Madness of King Richard, 2003
- The Last Mogul, 2005
- One x One Gala, 2007
- Bowfire, 2008
- Citizen Cohl, 2008
- The Ultimate Jew, 2009
- Caesar and Cleopatra, 2009
- Amerika Idol, 2009
- Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Story, 2010
- The Tempest, 2010
- An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill and the Jews, 2011
- "Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky", 2012
- "Filthy Gorgeous: The World of Bob Guccione", 2013
- "Prepare For The Worst: The David Steinberg Story", 2013
- Robert Koehler, "The Last Mogul", Variety Reviews, January 18, 2005
- Event and Entertainment Marketing, 1994, Probus Publishing
- Selling The Sizzle, 2002, Lester Publishing
- Selling The Sizzle 2, The Sequel, 2005, Lester Publishing
- The Madness of Method, 2001, Maxworks Publishing
- *Barry Avrich at the Internet Movie Database
- Barry Avrich's film reviews
- Barry Avrich's marketing career
- Barry Avrich's philanthropy
- Barry Avrich writes for Smithsonian Magazine
- Barry Avrich and The Toronto International Film Festival