|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2008)|
The Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada, Inc., also known as Livent, was a theatre production company in Toronto, Ontario, begun as a division of the motion picture exhibitor Cineplex Odeon. In 1989, after an internal struggle within the company, Cineplex executives Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb negotiated to buy the division, which then included the Pantages Theatre, Toronto, and rights to Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular musical The Phantom of the Opera.
In 1993 Live Entertainment Inc. went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company grew quickly, becoming best known for mega-productions of such musicals as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Show Boat (the highly successful 1993 revival which went to Broadway in 1994), Fosse, and Ragtime.
The company also built or refurbished several theatres (including the Oriental Theatre, Chicago), and entered into management deals with others (e.g.: Ford Centres, in Toronto, Vancouver, and New York).
By 1997, the company was losing money (a loss of $44.1 million that year alone), and in June, 1998, shareholders approved a deal which saw American actors' agent and ex-Disney executive Michael Ovitz take charge. Things deteriorated quickly between the company and co-founders Drabinsky and Gottlieb. The two were dismissed and escorted, under security, out of Livent's Toronto offices on August 13, 1998. Livent subsequently filed a $225 million lawsuit against them.
U.S. Bankruptcy, indictments
In November, 1998, Livent sought bankruptcy protection in the United States, claiming a debt of $334 million. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched a criminal investigation, and securities regulators in both Canada and the US began investigating the company's books.
In January, 1999, Livent's former chairman, Drabinsky, and president, Gottlieb were indicted in a New York court on charges they personally misappropriated $4.6 million in company funds and "cooked the books" to hide enormous losses from investors. Drabinsky and Gottlieb failed to appear for trial, and, more than twelve years later, are still under fugitive arrest warrants in the United States.
Change of ownership
In August 1999, SFX Entertainment of New York, now a division of Live Nation (formerly known as Clear Channel Entertainment), acquired the bankrupt company, paying $98 million (US) for most of its assets, including the theatres and rights to all productions.
In October 2002, Canadian police charged four former Livent senior executives with fraud affecting the public market. These charges were laid under Section 380 (1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada, and pertain to alleged accounting irregularities within Livent Inc. between December 14, 1989 and June 23, 1998. h
Charged were: Garth H. Drabinsky, age 52, of Spadina Road in Toronto - charged with nineteen counts of Fraud over $5,000. Myron I. Gottlieb, age 59, of MacPherson Avenue in Toronto - charged with nineteen counts of fraud over $5,000. Gordon Eckstein, age 50, of Scarborough - charged with eighteen counts of Fraud over $5,000. Robert Topol, age 47, of Newport Square in Thornhill - charged with thirteen counts of Fraud over $5,000.
The charges against Robert Topol were dismissed June 22, 2007.
Drabinsky, Gottlieb convicted, sentenced
On March 25, 2009, Drabinsky and Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb were found guilty of fraud and forgery in Ontario Superior Court for misstating the company's financial statements between 1993 and 1998.