Garth Howard Drabinsky
October 27, 1949
|Occupation||Film and theatrical producer and entrepreneur|
Garth Howard Drabinsky is a Canadian film and theatrical producer and entrepreneur. In 2009, he was convicted and sentenced to prison for fraud and forgery. The sentence was reduced from 7 to 5 years in prison, on appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear a subsequent appeal.
Film and theatrical career
Born to a Jewish family in Toronto, Ontario, Drabinsky graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1973, and was called to the bar in Ontario in 1975. Entering into the entertainment business in 1978 as an independent commercial film producer (through Tiberius Entertainment Limited, formed with Joel Michaels) and film distributor (through Pan-Canadian Film Distributors Inc., formed with Nat Taylor), he was credited as the producer for:
In April 1979, he and Nat Taylor co-founded Cineplex Theatres, which created a chain of multiplex theatres for the Canadian market. By May 1984, it had acquired the Canadian Odeon Theatre chain, thus becoming Cineplex Odeon and a major player in the industry. It expanded further through the acquisition of several US theatre chains, but he left the company in December 1989.
He leveraged his ownership of the Pantages Theatre in Toronto to form the publicly traded theatre production company, Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada, Inc., also known as Livent. The company expanded, building or refurbishing several theatres, including the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, and entered into management deals with others in Toronto, Vancouver, and New York. It became noted for its productions (which earned a total of 19 Tony Awards out of a total of 61 nominations) of:
- Phantom of the Opera (1989 Canadian production)
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1992 Canadian production)
- Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992 Canadian production)*
- Show Boat (1993 Canadian production)**
- Ragtime, (1996 original production)
- Sunset Boulevard (1995 Canadian production)
- Fosse (1999 Broadway production)*
- Tony Award for Best Musical, ** Tony Award for Best Musical Revival
Beginning in 2002, Drabinsky dabbled for a few years with the Toronto-based film production and direct marketing company, Visual Bible International Inc. (OTCBB: VBII). Although he and Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb were both purported to be creative consultants to the company, they were instrumental in building VBII's business model and trying to find an American executive to serve as President and CEO to serve as a mouthpiece to Wall Street. They were indeed running the company behind the scenes as fugitives from American prosecutors. One executive who was recruited by the executive search firm Korn Ferry and offered the position, Stuart Hotchkiss, a former Time Inc. executive, declined the job after learning about Drabinsky's and Gottlieb's legal woes and being told by then company Chairman and Toronto dentist, Dr. Steven Small, that he would not be able to fire either consultant should the need arise. VBII was put into receivership by an Ontario court in 2005.
Drabinsky is still active in the Canadian entertainment industry, through Tiberius Entertainment (now known as Garth H. Drabinsky Productions). In 2011, it promoted the film Barrymore at the Toronto International Film Festival, based on the play with Christopher Plummer. Drabinsky is now partnering with former CBC executive Richard Stursberg to raise funds for two musicals. Drabinsky closed Sousztaka after receiving bad reviews.
Livent insolvency and subsequent proceedings
In November 1998, Livent sought bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada, claiming a debt of $334 million, and securities regulators in both Canada and the US began investigating Livent's books.
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. Drabinsky was sentenced to seven years in jail on August 5, 2009 for his role in the case.
Drabinsky filed an appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal with respect to his sentence on September 3, 2009. During that appeal, he remained free on bail. On September 13, 2011, the Court of Appeal, while upholding the convictions, reduced Drabinsky's sentence to 5 years. Drabinsky applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the application was dismissed without costs on March 29, 2012. Drabinsky was originally held at Millhaven Institution, for assessment. In December 2011, he was transferred to serve out his sentence at Beaver Creek Institution, a minimum security prison, located in Gravenhurst, Ontario, and was released on day parole in February 2013. Drabinsky was granted full parole on January 20, 2014.
Administrative proceedings were initiated against Livent, Drabinsky and others by the Ontario Securities Commission in 2001, and they were suspended in 2002 until all outstanding criminal proceedings had been completed. In February 2013, the OSC announced that hearings would take place on March 19, 2013, in the matter. Myron Gottlieb and Gordon Eckstein, who were the other parties in the proceedings, subsequently entered into settlement agreements with the OSC in September 2014 and May 2015 respectively.
In 2017, the Ontario Securities Commission permanently banned Drabinsky from becoming a director or officer of any public company in Ontario. The OSC also prohibited him from acting as an investment promoter, and banned him from trading securities (other than as a retail investor, for trades within his RRSP or through a registered dealer for accounts in his name only).
In January 1999, Livent reached an administrative settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while civil and criminal proceedings were simultaneously pursued against Drabinsky, Gottlieb and certain other former Livent employees.
In 2005, former investors in Livent corporate bonds won a $23.3 million settlement against Drabinsky and Gottlieb in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, for which enforcement of the judgment was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2008.
On June 25, 2019, legal authorities in New York dismissed all outstanding criminal charges against Drabinsky (almost 20 years after accusing him of fraud involving Livent Inc.) with prejudice. Assistant United States attorney, Sarah Eddy, said the dismissal is appropriate because Mr. Drabinsky had already been prosecuted in Canada for the fraud. While the outstanding charges had been dormant for many years, they impeded Mr. Drabinsky from being able to travel to the United States, for fear of extradition.  Drabinsky is now free to travel to-and-from the United States, and has been doing so frequently while working on his new Broadway-bound musical, Paradise Square (formerly titled, Hard Times).
On July 17, 2014 Drabinsky was disbarred by the Tribunal of the Law Society of Upper Canada for unbecoming conduct, having been found guilty of defrauding the public and forging certain financial statements. The Tribunal's order, effective immediately, revoked his licence to practice law in the province of Ontario.
Order of Canada
On November 29, 2012, Governor General David Johnston signed an Ordinance of Termination revoking Drabinsky's membership in the Order of Canada, originally conferred in 1995 in the Officer grade. Drabinsky subsequently filed an application in the Federal Court of Canada to block his removal, which was dismissed on January 9, 2014. He subsequently appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. The appeal was heard in December 2014, and rejected the following month, when the court held that there was "no basis" for it to intervene in the matter.
Bibliography and documentary
- Garth Drabinsky (1976). Motion Pictures and the Arts in Canada: the business and the law. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. ISBN 0-07082298-0.
- Garth Drabinsky (1992). Closer to the Sun (An Autobiography). with Marq de Villiers. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-77105650-8.
- Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky on IMDb: premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, directed by Barry Avrich 
- Singer, David (July 1995). American Jewish Year Book 1995 (Vol 95. Issn 0065-8987). p. 214.
- "Garth H. Drabinsky". Canadian Law List. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- "Film firm formed in Toronto". Ottawa Citizen. 31 August 1978. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- Peter Rist (2001). Guide to the Cinema of Canada. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 59. ISBN 0-313-29931-5.
- Thompson, Damian (13 November 2003). "At last, a Jesus for all faiths". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- "Southern Fried Fiction, by Stuart Hotchkiss, pp. 224-226". Create Space. 2015-05-02.
- Knelman, Martin (2013-02-20). "Garth Drabinsky on day parole after 17 months in jail". Toronto Star.
- "Tiberius Entertainment/Garth H. Drabinsky Productions". Telefilm Canada. Retrieved 11 March 2013.[permanent dead link]
- Barrymore (2011) on IMDb
- Knelman, Martin (December 21, 2014). "Garth Drabinsky prepares for Act 3". The Toronto Star.
- Christopher Besant and Lydia Salvi. "The Livent CCAA/Chapter 11 Proceedings". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- Janet MacFarlane and Paul Waldie (2009-03-25). "Livent founders guilty in fraud trial". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-03-25., discussing R v Drabinsky 2009 CanLII 12802 (25 March 2009), Superior Court of Justice (Ontario, Canada)
- French, Cameron (August 5, 2009). "Ex-Broadway mogul Drabinsky gets 7 years for fraud". Reuters., discussing R v Drabinsky 2009 CanLII 41220 (5 August 2009), Superior Court of Justice (Ontario, Canada)
- McFarland, Janet (September 4, 2009). "Drabinsky files appeal of jail sentence". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
- R v Drabinsky 2011 ONCA 582 (13 September 2011)
- Garth Howard Drabinsky v. Her Majesty the Queen 2012 CanLII 16927 (29 March 2012), Supreme Court (Canada)
- McFarland, Janet (2012-03-29). "Drabinsky loses appeal bid". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02.
- Knelman, Martin (2011-12-29). "Garth Drabinsky transferred to Beaver Creek minimum security prison". Toronto Star.
- Martin Knelman (January 20, 2014). "Garth Drabinsky wins full parole for 2009 fraud convictions". The Toronto Star.
- "STATEMENT OF ALLEGATIONS OF STAFF OF THE ONTARIO SECURITIES COMMISSION". Ontario Securities Commission. 2001-07-03. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- "ORDER" (PDF). Ontario Securities Commission. 2002-11-15. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- Schecter, Barbara (2013-02-21). "Curtain to rise again for Livent at OSC". Financial Post.
- Schecter, Barbara (2014-09-05). "Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb reaches proposed settlement with OSC". Financial Post.
- "Gordon Eckstein reaches OSC settlement in Livent fraud case". CTV News. May 22, 2015.
- "In the matter of Garth H. Drabinsky, Myron I. Gottlieb and Gordon Eckstein". Ontario Securities Commission. June 15, 2017.
- McFarland, Janet (June 16, 2017). "OSC bans Garth Drabinsky from becoming director or officer of public company". The Globe and Mail.
- Alexandra, Pozadski (June 16, 2017). "Former theatre mogul Garth Drabinsky banned from becoming director or officer of public company". The Toronto Star.
- "ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING - File No. 3-9806". Securities and Exchange Commission. 1999-01-13. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- "Litigation Release No. 16022". Securities and Exchange Commission. 1999-01-13. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- McKinley, Jesse (2005-02-09). "Executives Must Pay $23.3 Million to Broadway Investors, Judge Says". New York Times.
- King v Drabinsky 2008 ONCA 566, 91 OR (3d) 616 (28 July 2008); leave to appeal dismissed, Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb v. Dorian King and Diane King 2009 CanLII 6003 (12 February 2009), Supreme Court (Canada)
- McFarland, Janet (2019-07-13). "U.S. dismisses case against Canadian theatre producer Garth Drabinsky in Livent Inc. affair". The Globe And Mail.
- Gray, Jeff and Janet McFarland, "Ontario's law Society disbars Garth Drabinsky", Globe and Mail (Toronto).
- Law Society of Upper Canada v. Drabinsky, 2014 ONLSTH 139 (17 July 2014)
- "Garth Drabinsky stripped of Order of Canada". Toronto Star. February 27, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- McGregor, Glen (February 27, 2013). "Theatre fraudster Garth Drabinsky fights Order of Canada removal". National Post. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- Graham Slaughter (January 9, 2014). "Garth Drabinsky loses fight to reclaim Order of Canada". The Toronto Star.
- "Garth Drabinsky makes bid to reclaim Order of Canada". The Canadian Press. December 10, 2014.
- Drabinsky v. Canada (Advisory Council of the Order) 2015 FCA 5 (9 January 2015), affirming Drabinsky v. Advisory Council of the Order of Canada 2015 FC 21 (8 January 2014)
- "Garth Drabinsky loses bid to get Order of Canada back". Toronto Star. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
- Knelman, Martin (2012-07-31). "TIFF will showcase doc on Garth Drabinsky". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2013-02-04.
- Kirshner, Sheldon, The rise and fall of Garth Drabinsky, The Canadian Jewish News, 21 September 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2012.