Brian Linehan

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Brian Linehan
Born(1944-09-03)September 3, 1944
DiedJune 4, 2004(2004-06-04) (aged 59)
Occupationtelevision interviewer
Known forCity Lights

Brian Richard Linehan (September 3, 1944 – June 4, 2004) was a Canadian television host from Hamilton, Ontario,[1] best known for his celebrity interviews on the longrunning talk show City Lights.[2]


Linehan was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1944, one of seven children.[2] His estranged Irish father, Les, worked at one of the local steel mills, Dofasco; and his Serbian mother, Sava (née Kotur), was later remarried to a post World War II Serbian immigrant, Jovan Rodic Sr. He too, was a steel worker.[2]

At age 19, Linehan moved to Toronto, taking an entry-level job with Odeon Cinemas.[3] The following year, he began working in public relations as an organizer of celebrity promotional visits to Toronto.[3] By 1968, he was the general manager of Janus Films, a film distribution company.[1]


He joined Citytv in 1973 as the host of City Lights, a program which would eventually become syndicated throughout Canada and the United States.[3] Linehan was renowned for his composure, interview skills and meticulous research, often leading to in-depth questions that could last for minutes. His guests often responded to his questions with astonishment at his depth of knowledge;[3] actress Shirley MacLaine once commented that the stars flocked to Toronto "so Brian could tell us about our lives".[3] His interviewing style was parodied on SCTV by Martin Short as "Brock Linehan",[2] a character whose seemingly meticulous interview research—unlike Brian Linehan's -- almost always turned out to be totally, utterly wrong.[4]

In 1988, City Lights was rebooted as MovieTelevision, an expanded magazine series on film which Linehan cohosted with Jeanne Beker.[5] Linehan was not happy with the new format, however, as it left him with far less time to conduct in-depth interviews,[2] and left the show in 1989 after its first season.[6] He took some time off, and then spent the early 1990s as a freelance publicity interviewer.[7]

From 1996 to 1998, he hosted a second show entitled Linehan, which was produced for CHCH-TV in Hamilton.[7] In 1999, Linehan won a Gemini Award as Best Host in a Lifestyle or Performing Arts Program for his work on the show.[4] After that show ended, he taught a television production course at Toronto's Humber College.[1]

Beginning in 2000, the original City Lights shows were reaired on the new Canadian cable channel Talk TV.[8]

Linehan was also a longtime entertainment reporter on CFRB radio,[9] and a frequent host of awards ceremonies such as the Genie Awards and the Geminis.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Linehan, who was gay, met Zane Wagman, a dentist, in the late 1960s.[3] Through the 1970s, the couple also had a sideline business renovating and reselling houses.[3] They remained together until Wagman's death by suicide in 2002;[3] however, Linehan was very guarded about his personal life, acknowledging only to his closest friends and never publicly that Wagman was anything more than a platonic roommate.[3]

Linehan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2001 and died in 2004.[3] His ashes were scattered outside the Toronto home he had shared with Wagman, although Joan Rivers kept a small portion of them as a memento of him.[2]


He left his estate to The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, which attempts to raise the profile of Canadian talent and supports the creation of a Canadian star system.[10] The foundation's noted donations have included $1 million toward the creation of an actors' training program at the Canadian Film Centre,[11] and $1 million to the Toronto International Film Festival toward the construction of the TIFF Bell Lightbox.[12]

The public reading room at TIFF's Film Reference Library is named in honour of Linehan. The library also holds many of his personal archives and research collections.[1]

George Anthony, a longtime friend of Linehan's, published the biography Starring Brian Linehan: A Life Behind the Scenes in 2008.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Brian Linehan at The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Life of Brian". Ryerson Review of Journalism, March 16, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "BOOKS: Starring Brian Linehan by George Anthony". Daily Xtra, October 14, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "A gala send-off for Brian Linehan: Notables salute long-time friend of the festival". National Post, September 17, 2004.
  5. ^ "Linehan, Beker to team up for new weekly movie show". Toronto Star, July 24, 1988.
  6. ^ "Brian Linehan will no longer light up CITY". Toronto Star, September 1, 1989.
  7. ^ a b c "Linehan back on the trail of the rich and celebrated". Windsor Star, November 16, 1996.
  8. ^ "Brian Linehan shares significant video archive". Toronto Star, December 22, 2000.
  9. ^ "Brian's back: Renowned for his meticulous research, Linehan is ready to get up close and personal". Toronto Star, December 16, 1996.
  10. ^ "Brian Linehan charity to fund film training". Toronto Star, March 14, 2006.
  11. ^ "A Canadian first: actors' training program launched". The Globe and Mail, September 8, 2008.
  12. ^ "Planned TIFF complex gets $1-million Linehan gift". The Globe and Mail, April 11, 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • George Anthony (September 2007). Starring Brian Linehan: A Life Behind the Scenes. McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-0-7710-0757-6.

External links[edit]