Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Docs on Garth Drabinsky, Snoop Dogg, Ben Johnson Headed to Toronto Film Fest

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Docs on Garth Drabinsky, Snoop Dogg, Ben Johnson Headed to Toronto Film Fest

Article excerpt

New docs from Gibney, Burns head to TIFF


TORONTO - The dramatic rise and fall of two of Canada's biggest newsmakers will be splashed across the big screen at the Toronto International Film Festival this September, with documentaries about fallen theatre mogul Garth Drabinsky and disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson each premiering at the fest.

Programmers announced a swath of additions to an already star-studded lineup Tuesday, including provocative new offerings from Oscar-winner Alex Gibney and film giant Ken Burns in the TIFF Docs slate.

That's on top of celeb-led chillers bound for the Midnight Madness section and an Adam Sandler-voiced animated feature that's part of the family-friendly TIFF Kids program.

One of Canada's most notorious entertainment figures gets a dubious showcase in Barry Avrich's documentary "Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky."

The veteran filmmaker examines the blind ambition that drove Drabinsky to the top of the film and theatre worlds, only to come crashing down amid fraud convictions.

"We don't have a lot of great Canadian entertainment moguls, you could name very few of them," Avrich says of his interest in the jailed former boss of defunct Livent Inc. "It was a story that had to be told."

The project includes interviews with stage actresses who loved Drabinsky (Elaine Stritch, Chita Rivera and Diahann Carroll) as well as investors and industry players who battled him (including former MCA Universal president Sid Sheinberg).

Avrich, whose past films profiled entertainment moguls Harvey Weinstein, Lew Wasserman and Michael Cohl, says he strove to provide a balanced look at Drabinsky and his incredible drive to succeed.

"It was an extraordinary quest to produce great art at any cost and that can be very, very difficult," Avrich says of what motivated the theatre impresario, musing that a childhood battling polio instilled an insatiable desire to achieve greatness.

"(He) had to show the world that he was bigger than his handicap and for many years did."

"Show Stopper" is scheduled to air on The Movie Network on Oct. 4.

Other non-fiction picks at the fest include Gibney's look at the Catholic Church in "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," Burns' examination of a wrongful conviction in "The Central Park Five" with co-directors David McMahon and Sarah Burns, and Daniel Gordon's study of Johnson's scandal-plagued 1988 Olympic win in the U. …

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