Ghomeshi hosting a live taping of his radio show Q in Vancouver, March 26, 2009
|Also known as||Jean Ghomeshi|
June 9, 1967 |
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Associated acts||Moxy Früvous, Lights|
Jian Ghomeshi (born June 9, 1967) is a Canadian writer, musician and former radio broadcaster. From 1990 to 2000 he was a member of the Thornhill-based folk-pop band Moxy Früvous, as a vocalist and drummer. In the 2000s he became a television and radio broadcaster. He has hosted, among others, the CBC Newsworld TV show >play (2002-2005), the CBC Radio One radio show The National Playlist (2005-2006), and the CBC Radio One show Q, which he co-created and hosted from 2007 to 2014. In late 2014 he was arrested and charged over sexual abuse allegations.
Ghomeshi was born on June 9, 1967 in London, England to Iranian parents Farhang (Frank), a civil engineer, and Azar (Sara) Ghomeshi. His family moved to Canada when Ghomeshi was seven and lived in Thornhill, Ontario. He attended Thornlea Secondary School, where he was student council president. His older sister, Jila, is a professor of linguistics at the University of Manitoba.
Ghomeshi has written that, during his teenage years, he ensured that his clothes smelled of cigarette smoke (despite being a non-smoker, it would give him "social credibility"), dressed "new wave" and listened to music from David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Rush.
Ghomeshi attended York University beginning in 1985 in the theatre program and subsequently graduated with a B.A. in political science and double-minored in history and women's studies. In 1989 Ghomeshi attempted, unsuccessfully, to overthrow the student government at York. In 1990 he was elected president of the Council of the York Federation of Students with a record-breaking number of votes. He subsequently renamed the federation the York Federation of Students. As president Ghomeshi promised increased funding for the Women's Centre, supported increased safety measures for women on campus and co-founded a pro-choice network.
Ghomeshi joined Mike Ford, Murray Foster, and Dave Matheson to form the politically satirical folk-pop band Moxy Früvous in 1990, recording seven albums through 2000. He was credited as "Jean," rather than Jian, on the band's first album, but reverted to the original spelling of his name for subsequent albums. Moxy Früvous sold over 50,000 copies of their debut independent EP (gold in Canada) in 1992. Their debut album, "Bargainville", went platinum in Canada in 1994 (over 100,000). Over the course of 8 albums they sold over 500,000 albums in Canada and the United States. Ghomeshi released his first solo EP, The First 6 Songs, in July 2001.
His production company, Jian Ghomeshi Productions Inc., managed musician Martina Sorbara (now of the band Dragonette) and produced for Dar Williams. He managed electropop artist Lights from 2007-2014, during which time she won the Juno Award for 'best new artist' and was nominated for several more.
Radio and television
In 2002, Ghomeshi became host of CBC Newsworld's >play, a show about the arts in Canada and abroad. >play ran for three seasons. He also did the weekly entertainment report on the Toronto edition of Canada Now.
In 2006, he finished a documentary series entitled The End, which described technology's effects on television, radio, and print as well as the future of the media. He hosted the radio series 50 Tracks and 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version on CBC Radio One and CBC Radio 2. From fall 2005 until spring 2006, he hosted a program on Radio One called The National Playlist.
Ghomeshi's TV and radio credits include appearances on NBC Nightly News, CBS Sunday Morning, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Showbiz Today, All Things Considered, The National, Monday Report, Morningside, Just For Laughs and the Juno Awards. Ghomeshi hosted the 2009 Dora Mavor Moore Award ceremony. He was set to host the November 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize awards gala but was replaced in October by comedian Rick Mercer. In November 2014, he was replaced as the host of the CBC competition Canada Reads by Wab Kinew, the previous year's winner.
Billy Bob Thornton interview
On April 8, 2009, actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton appeared with his band, The Boxmasters, on Q, with Ghomeshi hosting. In introducing Thornton, Ghomeshi mentioned Thornton's acting career and added, "he's always intended to make music, he just got sidetracked." In responding to Ghomeshi's subsequent interview questions, Thornton acted confused and gave vague, evasive answers. When asked about his musical tastes and influences as a child, Thornton answered with a rambling commentary about his favourite childhood magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. Later in the interview, Thornton said that the reason for his uncooperative answers was that Ghomeshi had been "instructed not to discuss" his film career but had done so.
Thornton said that Canadians did not get up and move or throw things at concerts, and referred to them as "mashed potatoes without the gravy." Ghomeshi replied, "Oh, we've got some gravy up here as well." Ghomeshi described the interview as one of the most difficult he has conducted. He compared the international media exposure that followed the interview to being "in the middle of a tsunami."
Ghomeshi's literary debut, 1982, is a creative non-fiction title, about that year of his youth. It was released on September 18, 2012. It is a memoir of Ghomeshi's life at the age of 14 (during 1982) growing up as an Iranian-Canadian in Thornhill, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto), his attempt to fit in as one of the few non-white kids in his neighbourhood, and his goal of mimicking his idol David Bowie.
1982 received a mixed reception from critics. Zoe Whittall called it a "funny, nostalgic and compelling read, especially for music nerds of a certain age," while Stephen Carlick criticized the book, saying that Ghomeshi's attempt to appeal to the varied audience that listens to his CBC Radio program Q made it "uneven and often tedious" to read, making the reader question who the book was for after the prologue, which Carlick referred to as "1982 for Dummies". Carlick also noted that "... Ghomeshi is a nice guy...[,] inoffensive and genial", but the book, by "...trying to appeal to everyone", is spread "too thin."
Criminal charges and lawsuit
In the spring of 2014 Ghomeshi advised his employers at the CBC that the Toronto Star was looking into allegations by an ex-girlfriend that he had engaged in non-consensual rough sex. Ghomeshi denied this accusation. In early summer, a reporter contacted the CBC and alleged that Ghomeshi's behaviour may have crossed into his work environment. The CBC investigated and concluded that there were no workplace complaints against Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi denied the accusations again and the Toronto Star declined to go forward with the story.
On October 23, the CBC viewed what it later described as "graphic evidence that Jian had caused physical injury to a woman". According to Vice Ghomeshi showed his bosses lewd text messages on a CBC-owned phone and graphic personal sex videos.
On October 24, Ghomeshi announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the network to deal with personal matters. Two days later, the CBC terminated Ghomeshi's employment, with a CBC spokesperson saying "information came to our attention recently that in CBC's judgment precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian." Ghomeshi subsequently released a "lengthy Facebook post"  saying his dismissal was motivated by fear of an alleged smear campaign by an ex-girlfriend that according to Ghomeshi could release private details about his sexual life.
Ghomeshi filed a $55 million lawsuit against the CBC, alleging that the broadcaster misused "personal and confidential information provided to it in confidence". He also filed "a union grievance alleging wrongful dismissal and defamation," and stated through his lawyer that he "does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory." CBC asked the court to dismiss the suit, claiming it was "without merit and an abuse of the court’s process". Ghomeshi withdrew his lawsuit on November 25, 2014. The terms of settlement stipulate that Ghomeshi will pay the CBC $18,000 in legal costs.
The Toronto Star published allegations by three women who said that they experienced violence from Ghomeshi without consent, as well as allegations by a former CBC colleague who said that Ghomeshi had sexually harassed her in the workplace. A fifth woman gave an interview to CBC Radio's As It Happens on October 29, 2014, also alleging that Ghomeshi physically abused her on their first date. By November 7, 11 women and one man had approached media outlets with abuse allegations against Ghomeshi. Actress Lucy DeCoutere was the first woman to agree to the publication of her name in conjunction with the allegations, followed by author and lawyer Reva Seth. Jim Hounslow later came forward publicly alleging that Ghomeshi sexually assaulted him while the two were students at York University in the early 1990s.
On November 26[update], Ghomeshi was arrested by Toronto Police and charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance (choking) following an investigation that began on October 31. He appeared in court on the same day and was released on $100,000 bail on the conditions that he surrender his passport, stay within Ontario and live with his mother. His next court appearance is scheduled for January 8, 2015. His lawyer, Marie Henein, has said Ghomeshi will plead not guilty. Carleton University and the CBC have each launched private investigations of their own.
Ghomeshi was diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder in approximately 2009 [b 1] after suffering a panic attack. He began seeing a psychologist on a weekly basis. According to Ghomeshi he purchased a teddy bear to replace his childhood toy, at the urging of his therapist, to help him deal with his anxiety.
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- Ishmael N. Daro (October 30, 2014). "Carleton University ‘gathering information’ after allegations of assault on students by Jian Ghomeshi". canada.com.
- Date based on 2014 Toronto Life article which says it occurred "roughly five years ago."