Editorial: The Producers

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Livent co-founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb should be spared time behind bars for fraud. Instead, the disgraced duo should pack up their old kit bags, take the show on the road with a speaking tour, and lecture students across the country.

No, that’s not the outline for a revival of the Hope-Crosby buddy movies. It’s part of the sentencing proposal made by their lawyers Edward and Brian Greenspan to Justice Mary Lou Benotto.

The lawyers urged conditional sentences for the men of two years less a day, three years probation, and 240 hours each of community service, of which the lectures would be a component.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were found guilty in March of two counts of fraud and one of forgery for defrauding investors of millions. For that, Crown attorney Alex Hrybinsky has called for an eight to 10 year penitentiary term - nearly the top of the range.

Edward Greenspan said that as part of his conditional sentence, his client Drabinsky would go on a tour of
theatre schools to discuss the craft and “the avoidance of unethical conduct.”

Brian Greenspan also noted that a number of Canadian business schools would be interested in his client Gottlieb attending to speak on professional and business integrity. If the lectures amount to less than 240 hours the remnant of the community service hours could be done volunteering at Mount Sinai Hospital.

 Drabinsky could fundraise $50,000 for scholarships for kids wanting to study performing arts, his lawyer added. It’s a great idea. In fact, they should do all of these things; passing on their lessons learned. After they get out of the hoosgow.

Doing this with no custody attached sounds as silly as a proposal that the boys hook up with Conrad Black and Bernie “Made off with your Money” and mount a revival of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” or “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Or how about a new production of “Grease,” or “Wicked.” A short run of “Captains Courageous,” and “Fame - The Musical” would be too much like art imitating life, but how about a stage version of “Free to Be . . . You and Me,” or “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road.” Again, a bit too much reality show-ish?

“He would teach students the discipline of the craft, the enormous role that integrity and honesty play in the theatre, the importance of fulfilling contractual responsibilities [and] the avoidance of unethical conduct,” said Edward Greenspan of Drabinsky.

Gottlieb’s lectures would cover topics like corporate governance, entrepreneurship, shareholder rights, and conflicts of interest.

But here’s a question: how does one really lecture kids on stuff like ethics, honesty, integrity, and corporate governance when one has been convicted of fraud and forgery? What are they going to call the series: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

Hrybinsky was understandably opposed to the scheme: “When I was assigned the case . . . I never imagined that the discussion would at the end of the day be a lecture series.”

While this is not a U.S. court where they hand out dumb terms like 150 years to people like Madoff, a strong message of deterrence should be sent in the form of prison time to our white-collar criminals.
Otherwise: “Stop the World - I Want to Get Off.”
- Gretchen Drummie

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