Canadian theater impresario to go on trial

Fri May 2, 2008 3:43am EDT
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By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - After swirling for 10 years in the legal ether, the criminal fraud trial of Canadian theater impresario Garth Drabinsky is to begin Monday.

During a five-year reign at live-theater producer Livent that began in 1993, Drabinsky produced such hit Broadway musicals as "Ragtime," "Showboat" and "Kiss of the Spiderwoman."

But the good times ended in 1998 soon after Hollywood dealmaker Michael Ovitz bought a controlling stake in Livent and his management team uncovered financial irregularities that prosecutors will argue were engineered by Drabinsky and longtime business partner Myron Gottlieb.

Both men face three counts of accounting fraud that date back to Livent's original IPO, down from an original 19 fraud-related charges considered during a 2005 preliminary hearing.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were originally charged in 2002 with defrauding investors of about CAN$500 million. In 1999, American authorities indicted Drabinsky for fraud, but he has fought extradition to the United States to answer those charges.

Livent, which eventually went bankrupt, saw its assets, including theaters in Toronto, New York and Chicago, sold off in 1999 to then SFX Entertainment, which was eventually acquired by Clear Channel Communications.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter