I have followed his career at a distance and when I first heard from an employee of one of Drabinsky's more recent ventures that there was going to be a film about the storied impresario, I wanted to know more. When I learned that the director would be Barry Avrich, I knew the project would be in good hands.
I was away from my office when the media release for
Show Stopper arrived in my electronic in-basket. It contained an extremely apt quote from Drabinsky, "I am the impresario of my destiny." Filmmaker Barry Avrich was hard at work when he heard the news that Drabinsky had been fired from his company, Livent. That was 13 years ago. "I was editing commercials for his latest production of Fosse when he got the news," said Avrich, "and he shared his most vulnerable thoughts with me as his world collapsed."
Show Stopper is a hard-hitting, balanced account of a man driven to succeed at any cost. It tells the story of Drabinsky’s meteoric trajectory from ambitious upstart, to game changer and empire builder, to the depths of cataclysmic criminal fraud convictions. Told through those on the front lines, Drabinsky’s incredible story is the most dramatic and unprecedented rise to and descent from power in Canadian show biz history.
Narrated by Albert Schultz, Show Stopper features a who’s who of candid interviews with artists who love him (Chita Rivera, Elaine Stritch, Diahann Carroll) investors and industry players who battled with him (former MCA Universal Chairman Lew Wasserman, former MCA Universal President Sid Sheinberg) colleagues and industry insiders (former Cineplex Odeon Chairman & CEO Allen Karp, Producer Tina Vanderheyden; Luminato CEO Janice Price, former COO Livent, Dan Brambilla) and the media who spilled gallons of ink chronicling his prodigious output. But the voice that haunts in Show Stopper is Garth’s own, drawn from numerous candid interviews over the last thirty years.
As Avrich notes in the media release, "The Drabinsky story is a rare phenomenon in this country and I wanted Show Stopper to capture that… I was fascinated and had a front row seat for a career that was just as dramatic in its rise as in its fall. The dichotomy of Garth’s story is the creation of sensational art in both film exhibition and theatrical production and the many deep flaws and errors committed and massive opportunities lost in a life long quest for legitimacy and perfection."
Show Stopper will have its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and is scheduled to premiere on The Movie Network in early October.
Documentaries, by their very nature, record history. I haven't seen the film, but it is my fondest hope that Show Stopper ends with a look forward. No matter what, Drabinsky is an asset too valuable to discard. I hope for him that he obeys one of the fundamental rules of showbiz... the show must go on.