Transcript: Michael Coren | Jan 21, 1997

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and his guest sitting on garden chairs in a grassy backyard: “Michael Coren. Writer and broadcaster.”

Richard appears facing the screen, as a caption reads “Richard Ouzounian.” He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses and a striped blue shirt.

He says SOME PEOPLE DON'T ACCOMPLISH
IN A LIFETIME WHAT THE MAN
YOU ARE ABOUT TO MEET HAS
DONE IN NINE YEARS.
HE CAME TO CANADA, NOBODY KNEW
HIM, AND NOW, AT LEAST IN THE
CITY OF TORONTO,
EVERYBODY KNOWS HIM.
I'M NOT SAYING EVERYBODY LIKES
HIM, BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HE
INTENDED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
MAYBE LET'S FIND OUT
WHAT HE DID INTEND.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH MICHAEL COREN.

Michael is in late thirties, bald and clean-shaven. He’s wearing a light gray suit and a purple sweater.

Richard continues MICHAEL, WHAT I JUST
SAID IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
NINE YEARS AGO, CAME TO
CANADA, AND IT SEEMED NO ONE
WOULD HAVE EVER HEARD
THE NAME MICHAEL COREN.
NOW, I'M WILLING TO WAGER IF
YOU STOP ANYBODY ON THE STREET
OF TORONTO FOR ONE REASON OR
ANOTHER, THEY'D KNOW YOU.
DID YOU PLAN THIS?

Michael says NO.
I DON'T THINK YOU CAN
PLAN ANYTHING LIKE THAT.
I MARRIED A CANADIAN.
I CAME HERE, AS YOU
SAID, NINE YEARS AGO.
I WAS GIVING A
LECTURE AT U of T.
THERE WAS A WOMAN IN
THE AUDIENCE WHO WAS
WONDERFULLY BEAUTIFUL.
SHE SAID TO ME,
YOU'RE AMAZING.
I THOUGHT THIS MAY NEVER
HAPPEN AGAIN, SO I MARRIED HER.
AND THREE CHILDREN
LATER, I'M STILL HERE.
NO, I CAME HERE, I WENT TO
THE -- THE LATE KEN ADACHI,
WHO UNFORTUNATELY TOOK HIS
LIFE SOME YEARS AGO, I WENT
TO KEN AT
THE TORONTO STAR,
I SAID, KEN, I'VE DONE A LOT
OF REVIEWING IN BRITAIN,
CAN I HAVE SOME WORK?
AND HE SAID HERE'S
A BOOK TO REVIEW.
THAT WAS MY
FIRST WORK HERE.
I GOT A JOB AT
THE CBC BRIEFLY.
IT'S BEEN A VERY
GENEROUS COUNTRY TO ME.
I SUGGEST IT'S ONLY IN THE
LAST FOUR OR FIVE YEARS,
EVEN FOUR, THAT THINGS
HAVE REALLY TAKEN OFF.
TWO COLUMNS AT
THE GLOBE AND
MAIL, THE FINANCIAL POST
AND
SUN, TVO,
FRANK
MAGAZINE, AND CFRB, AND SO ON.

Richard says I FIRST CAME TO KNOW
YOU AS A VERY GOOD,
VERY SOLID BIOGRAPHER.
NOW, IS THAT WHAT
YOU SET OUT TO BE?

Michael says I THINK IT'S IN THE EUROPEAN
TRADITION, PERHAPS MORE THAN
THE NORTH AMERICAN,
TO BE MANY THINGS.
THE ONLY PLACE I HAVE NOT
BEEN ME WAS
FRANK MAGAZINE.
THAT WAS A CONTRIVED
CHARACTER.
IT WASN'T MEANT TO
BE MICHAEL COREN.
I NEVER HAD A BUTLER.
I NEVER DINED WITH
HEADS OF STATE.
THAT WAS A
FICTITIOUS CREATION.
IT WAS SATIRICAL.
IT WAS AN
ARTIFICIAL DIARY.
OTHERWISE, I'VE SEEN NO
CONTRADICTION BETWEEN BEING A
SERIOUS BIOGRAPHER AND
BEING A COLUMNIST
AND BEING A RADIO HOST.
I'M A WRITTEN
JOURNALIST FIRST.
I BEGAN AS A BIOGRAPHER.
I'D WRITTEN TWO BOOKS WHEN I
WAS 24, LONG BEFORE I HAD COME
HERE, THEN ANOTHER
BOOK CAME OUT.
AND I STILL DO THAT.
I'M WORKING ON MORDECAI
RICHLER, THE BIOGRAPHY,
AS WE SPEAK.
I'M NOT SURE IF I'LL DO
ANOTHER BIOGRAPHY AFTER THAT.
AFTER FOUR OR FIVE, YOU
JUST BECOME A LITTLE TIRED.
BUT I AM AN AUTHOR, AND BOOKS
WILL CONTINUE, I THINK, AND I
HOPE THROUGH MOST OF MY LIFE.
BUT AN EXTENSION OF THAT,
SURELY, TO GO ON THE RADIO AND
PUT FORWARD YOUR
POINT OF VIEW.
I'VE NEVER BEEN AN
APOLITICAL WRITER.
I'VE ALWAYS BEEN POLITICAL.
A LITERARY BIOGRAPHER, BUT
IN A POLITICAL CONTEXT.
I WRITE ABOUT H.G. WELLS,
AND IT WASN'T SO MUCH
ABOUT HOW WELLS WROTE
THE TIME MACHINE,
BUT WHY WELLS WROTE
THE TIME MACHINE
AND WHAT HIS POLITICS WERE.
SO SOME PEOPLE HAVE TRIED TO
CRITICIZE ME BY SAYING,
HOW CAN YOU BE SO MANY THINGS?
WHAT HAT ARE YOU WEARING?
IT'S NOT A QUESTION
OF WEARING HATS.
IT IS ME, VARIOUS
MANIFESTATIONS OF ME,
BUT THEY ARE ALL GENUINE.

Richard says BUT THERE ARE TIMES I KIND OF
THINK, GRANTING ALL OF THAT,
I STILL GET A THREE FACES OF
EVE IMPRESSION BECAUSE,
I MEAN, EVEN READING YOUR
BIOGRAPHIES, NO ONE WOULD
HAVE EVER THOUGHT YOU WERE
A CLOSET SOCIALIST, RIGHT?
YOUR POLITICS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN
VERY CLOSE, AND I BELIEVE YOU
HAVE ALWAYS OPERATED FROM
ONE ETHIC AND ONE BELIEF
AND ONE PHILOSOPHY.

Michael says THANK YOU.

Richard says BUT SOMETIMES THE TONE
IS RADICALLY DIFFERENT.
I MEAN, I FLIP ON CFRB IN
THE EVENINGS AND I HEAR
CORENOCOPIA, AND I HEAR YOU
ENGAGING IN EXCITED DIALOGUE
WITH SOME OF YOUR LISTENERS,
AND I SOMETIMES HAVE TROUBLE
ASSOCIATING THAT WITH THE SAME
MAN WHOSE WORK I READ, YOU
KNOW, IN
THE FINANCIAL POST
AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS,
OR ON THE LIBRARY SHELVES,
OR BOOKS IN THE BEDROOM.
DO YOU FIND A DIFFERENCE?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Michael Coren. Writer and Broadcaster."

Michael says WELL GRANTED, AND THAT IS
PERCEPTIVE BECAUSE WHEN YOU DO
A TALK SHOW ON RADIO,
YOU CAN'T BE AS CALM AND
CONCILIATORY, IN PARTICULAR.
YOU KNOW DRAMA BETTER
THAN MOST PEOPLE.
DRAMA IS ABOUT, TO A DEGREE,
CONFLICT, AND RADIO IS ABOUT
CONFLICT, TOO.
SO I'M THERE NOT TO -- THERE
ARE SOME WONDERFUL MINDS OUT
THERE WHO SIMPLY COULDN'T DO
TALK RADIO BECAUSE THEY ARE
NOT PREPARED TO TAKE PEOPLE
ON, TO ARGUE AND DEBATE
AND SO ON.
THAT'S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.
SO YES, WHEN I'M WRITING A
BIOGRAPHY, I'M NOT THERE TO
GET 150,000 PEOPLE LISTENING
TO ME AND SAY, WOW,
DID YOU HEAR THAT?
IT'S A DIFFERENT APPROACH,
A DIFFERENT MARKET.
BUT I THINK THEY CAN COME
FROM THE SAME PERSON.
I'M NOT SELLING OUT IN ANY
WAY, I'M NOT COMPROMISING,
I'M NOT PRETENDING, IT IS
ALL ME, BUT AS I SAID,
DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF ME.
THE BIOGRAPHIES, ALSO, ARE
FAIRLY, NOT TENDENTIOUS,
BUT THERE'S A POINT
OF VIEW BEHIND THEM.
THEY'RE NOT STRAIGHTFORWARD
LITERARY BIOGRAPHIES IN THE
TRADITION, SAY, OF HESKITH
PEARSON, OR EVEN MICHAEL
HOLROYD, IT'S A DIFFERENT
TYPE OF BIOGRAPHY, H.G. WELLS
WHAT WAS MEANT TO MOVE A
POINT, THE DOYLE BOOK, THE
LEWIS BOOK, CHESTERTON, I
THINK WITH MORDECAI RICHLER,
TOO, IT WON'T BE A
STRAIGHTFORWARD, THIS IS
THE MAN, IT IS MY
INTERPRETATION OF THE MAN.

Richard says LET ME STAY WITH THE
BIOGRAPHIES FOR A BIT,
SO WE CAN LOOK AT ALL THE
VARIOUS PARTS OF YOU.
WITH THE CONAN DOYLE, THE
WELLS, THE CHESTERTON,
WHERE DOES IT BEGIN?
DOES IT BEGIN WITH A LIFELONG
AFFECTION YOU'VE HAD FOR
THEIR WORK, AND THEN AN
INSPIRATION INTO THEM?
HOW DOES IT DEVELOP?

Michael says I'D WRITTEN TWO
BOOKS, I WAS 24.
IN FACT, MY FIRST BOOK WAS
ABOUT THE THEATRE ROLE OF
STRATFORD IN ENGLAND.
AND I WAS WALKING ALONG, VERY
ALMOST ROMANTIC PICTURE,
I WAS WALKING ALONG IN THE
PARK IN THE MIDDLE OF LONDON
WITH MY PUBLISHER, AND HE
SAID, WHAT ARE YOU GOING
TO DO NEXT?
AND I SAID, ONE DAY, I'LL
WRITE A BIOGRAPHY OF CHESTERTON.
I LOVE THE MAN.
A GREAT INFLUENCE.
AND HE SAID, WHAT
DO YOU MEAN ONE DAY?
HERE'S THE
CONTRACT, DO IT NOW.
THAT'S REALLY HOW I
STARTED IN BIOGRAPHY.

Richard says OKAY.

Michael says WITH H.G. WELLS, IT WAS MORE
BECAUSE I KNEW THE MAN WAS
A FRAUD.
I KNEW THE MAN HAD LAID THE
FOUNDATIONS OF THE SOCIAL
ENGINEERING HORRORS OF
STALIN AND HITLER,
AND I WANTED TO SAY THAT.
I THOUGHT HE'D GOT AWAY
WITH IT FOR TOO LONG.
TO BE QUITE HONEST WITH
YOU, THERE IS ALSO
THE COMMERCIAL DEMAND.
WITH ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, I
KNEW THE PERIOD, EDWARDIAN
ENGLISH LETTERS, THERE WAS A
GAP, THERE WAS NO THOROUGH
BIOGRAPHY OF CONAN DOYLE.
I TRIED TO FILL THAT.
THERE'S NO POINT IN SAYING,
HOW ABOUT ANOTHER BIOGRAPHY
OF WINSTON CHURCHILL?
NO ONE CARES, THERE ARE
ALREADY TOO MANY OUT THERE.
SO A COMBINATION OF BEING
INTERESTED IN THE PERSON, NOT
NECESSARILY LIKING THE PERSON,
BUT BEING INTERESTED IN THE
PERSON, KNOWING THE PERIOD,
THE DEMANDS OF THE MARKET.
THE BOOK HAS TO SELL.
AND JUST BEING
COMFORTABLE WITH IT, TOO.
I COULD NOT DO A BIOGRAPHY OF
AN AMERICAN AUTHOR, REALLY,
BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW THE
ENVIRONMENT AND THE
ATMOSPHERE WELL ENOUGH.
THE ONLY REASON I AGREED TO
MORDECAI RICHLER, WELL, THERE
WERE MANY REASONS, ONE WAS THE
MONEY, TWO, WAS IT'S A BOOK
THAT HAD TO BE DONE, IT WAS A
GREAT OPPORTUNITY, BUT MORE
THAN THAT, I FEEL A CERTAIN,
AND THIS WILL PROBABLY SOUND
POMPOUS, BUT A CERTAIN
EMPATHY WITH MORDECAI, HIS
BACKGROUND, HIS ORIGINS, EVEN
THOUGH MINE ARE BRITISH, I
JUST THOUGHT I COULD IDENTIFY
ENOUGH TO REALLY DO THE BOOK.

Richard says WELL, IT'S INTERESTING YOU
FELT AN EMPATHY WITH HIM, BUT
EVEN THOUGH YOU DON'T LIKE
WELLS TERRIBLY MUCH, THE
FEELING I HAD IS WITH WELLS
AND CHESTERTON AND CONAN DOYLE
AND LEWIS, IN EACH CASE, I
COULD SEE YOU EMPATHIZING WITH
THESE PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY WERE
LITERARY MEN WHO HAD SOCIAL
AND POLITICAL VIEWS AND
ALSO WROTE AND EXPRESSED
THEMSELVES IN A
VARIETY OF FORMS.
AND I ALMOST, AFTER I SAW ALL
OF THESE COMING UP AND SAW
WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH YOU,
I STARTED TO WONDER
IF THIS WAS THE MICHAEL
COREN PANTHEON.
EVEN THOUGH YOU DON'T
LIKE ALL OF THEM,
THEY'RE ALL OF A TYPE.
WAS THAT INTENTIONAL?

Michael says NO.
I THINK THAT WAS
PROBABLY ACCIDENTAL.
I THINK YOU HAVE TO HAVE
THAT LEAP OF EMPATHY
WHEN YOU ARE A BIOGRAPHER.
YOU HAVE TO TRY TO GET INTO
THAT PERSON'S CLOTHES,
AS IT WERE.
AND WITH H.G. WELLS, THAT WOULD
BE AN EXCITING THING TO DO.

Richard says HE WAS SO SELDOM
IN THEM HIMSELF.

They both chuckle lightly.

Michael says EXACTLY.
PROMISCUITY WAS THE
KEY ASPECT OF HIS LIFE.
YOU HAVE TO BE
ABLE TO DO THAT.
EMPATHY IS ALL IMPORTANT.
YOU CAN BE A WONDERFUL
RESEARCHER AND A SUPERB WRITER
BUT NOT WRITE A GOOD
BIOGRAPHY IF YOU CAN'T FEEL
WHAT THAT PERSON
FELT OR TRY TO.
SO THAT'S BEEN
IMPORTANT TO ME.
BUT NO, WITH WELLS, THERE ARE
CERTAIN -- WELLS HAD NOTHING
AS A BOY.
HE CREATED
EVERYTHING HIMSELF.
I LIKE TO THINK
I'VE DONE THAT, TOO.
I WASN'T REALLY GIVEN
ANYTHING, IN MY FAIRLY
HUMBLE BACKGROUND.
SO I ADMIRE WELLS FOR THAT.
AND WHEN YOU ADMIRE SOMEONE,
I THINK EMPATHY FOLLOWS
SOON AFTERWARDS.
IT'S AN ASPECT TO IT, BUT
THINK OF SOMEONE LIKE
G.K. CHESTERTON, UPPER MIDDLE
CLASS, ENGLISH ANGLICAN
FAMILY, THERE IS VERY
LITTLE I CAN SAY, HEY, YES,
THAT WAS ME.
NOW, I CAN EMPATHIZE WITH HIS
ASPIRATIONS, AND HIS FEARS,
THAT'S SOMETHING UNIVERSAL,
BUT ACTUAL EXPERIENCES,
THAT'S VERY HARD TO DO WHEN
THERE ARE NO SIMILARITIES.

Richard says WITH WELLS, YOU
SET OUT TO DEBUNK.

Michael says YEAH.

Richard says HAVE YOU EVER FALLEN OUT OF
LOVE, OR FOUND LESS TO ADMIRE
IN SOMEONE ONCE YOU TOOK ON
THE TASK OF RESEARCHING
THEIR LIFE?

Michael says I THINK THAT'S INEVITABLE
BECAUSE YOU SPEND TWO OR THREE
YEARS WITH A PERSON.
NOW, MANY MARRIAGES
DON'T LAST THAT LONG.
WHEN YOU ARE LIVING DAY IN
AND DAY OUT WITH SOMEONE,
YOU DO, AT TIMES, GET TIRED
OF THEM, AND EVEN HATE THEM.
CHESTERTON, THE FIRST MAJOR
BIOGRAPHY, THERE WERE TIMES
WHEN I JUST WANTED NOTHING
MORE TO DO WITH THE MAN, AND
IT'S INTERESTING, RICHARD
BURTON, AN ACTOR I ADMIRED
VERY MUCH, HE DID A MOVIE
ABOUT CHURCHILL AND WENT ON
A MAJOR INTERVIEW
SHOW IN BRITAIN
AND ATTACKED CHURCHILL.
HE SAID, CHURCHILL WAS A
COWARD, I HATE THE MAN.
AND THE INTERVIEWER SAID
EVERYTHING YOU'D WRITTEN
ABOUT HIM BEFORE SAYS
THAT YOU ADORED HIM.
WELL, I CHANGED MY MIND.
AND LATER ON HE WROTE, I
CHANGED MY MIND BECAUSE I'D
SPENT TOO MUCH TIME WITH HIM.
EVEN WITH CHESTERTON, EVEN
WITH CONAN DOYLE, I'M NOT
EVEN GOING TO COMMENT ON
MORDECAI RICHLER, THERE ARE
CERTAIN POINTS YOU SAY,
I DON'T WANT TO KNOW
THE MAN ANYMORE.
I DON'T WANT TO KNOW THEM.
THAT'S INEVITABLE.
BUT YOU COME BACK TO THEM
LATER AND THE AFFECTION
IS RESTORED.

Richard says I HAVE TO CONFESS, WHEN I
HEARD YOU WERE GOING TO BE
MORDECAI RICHLER'S BIOGRAPHER,
I ALMOST FELT LIKE YOU WERE
ASKING TO WALK
THROUGH A MINE FIELD.
BOTH BECAUSE HE
IS STILL ALIVE.
IT'S A LOT EASIER TO GET
PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT
G.K. CHESTERTON, OR TO DO
RESEARCH ON G.K. CHESTERTON.
AND ALSO BECAUSE HE IS
SUCH A SUBJECT OF CONTROVERSY
WITHIN HIS RELIGION, WITHIN
HIS PROVINCE, ON EVERY LEVEL.
DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE PRYING
OPEN THE LION'S MOUTH AND
PUTTING YOUR HEAD IN THE JAWS
AND SAYING, DOES IT TASTE GOOD?

Michael says BEING NOT OF CANADIAN
BIRTH IS IMPORTANT HERE.
I THINK IF YOU GROW UP
CANADIAN YOU HAVE CERTAIN
ASSUMPTIONS AND ATTITUDES
ABOUT GREAT CANADIANS,
SUCH AS MORDECAI RICHLER.
HAVING ONLY BEEN HERE TEN
YEARS, I'VE READ ALL OF HIS
WORK, I KNOW THE MAN AND SO
ON, BUT MAYBE I DON'T COME
WITH THAT BAGGAGE.
SO I'M APPROACHING HIM FROM
A PRETTY OBJECTIVE POINT.
YES, I DO KNOW, WHEN THE
BOOK COMES OUT, EVERY KNIFE
BECAUSE I TEND TO PROVOKE ONE
OR TWO PEOPLE ANYWAY, EVERY
KNIFE WILL BE SHARPENED, AND
I EXPECT SOME PRETTY HARSH
THINGS TO BE SAID,
WHATEVER I WRITE.
I'M NOT WORRIED
ABOUT HIS REACTION.
HE WOULDN'T HAVE AGREED IF
HE REALLY CARED THAT MUCH.
HE'S BEEN WONDERFUL
WITH THE BOOK.
HE'S SAID, YOU HAVE FULL
ACCESS TO ME, TO MY PAPERS,
TO MY FRIENDS, TO MY FAMILY,
BUT I DON'T WANT TO SEE
THE MANUSCRIPT.
YOU COULDN'T ASK
FOR MORE THAN THAT.

Richard says THAT'S WONDERFUL.

Michael says THAT IS GENUINE
AND VERY COURAGEOUS.
SO I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT HOW
HE REACTS OR TO AN EXTENT
HIS FAMILY BECAUSE I'M VERY
CLOSE TO SOME MEMBERS
OF HIS FAMILY.
THAT ISN'T THE PROBLEM.
AS TO WORRYING ABOUT WHAT
THE CRITICS SAY, I STOPPED
WORRYING ABOUT THAT
A LONG TIME AGO.
IT'S A KEY BOOK TO DO.
ALREADY THERE'S THE JEALOUSY.
I WANTED TO DO THAT BOOK,
WHY IS COREN DOING IT?
I COULDN'T CARE LESS.

Richard says THERE IS THAT MOMENT, I
WONDER, WHEN YOU GET THE
OFFER, OR THE CONTRACT IS
SIGNED TO DO THE BOOK ON
RICHLER, DOES AN IDEA FLING
INTO YOUR HEAD AT THAT MOMENT
ABOUT THE WAY
THE BOOK WILL GO?
OR DO YOU DISCOVER
THAT IDEA LATER?

Michael says IT'S FUNNY, THE OPENING
PAGES OF THE BOOK,
INVARIABLY ARE ALREADY THERE.
I'VE ALREADY WRITTEN
SOME OF THE BOOK.
AND, IN FACT, IT BEGINS WITH
SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED
ON TVONTARIO.
I'M NOT GOING TO GO INTO ANY
DETAIL, BUT I THINK YOU'LL
BE INTERESTED BY THAT.
IT'S FUNNY, I ASKED IF I
COULD WRITE THE BOOK, I HEARD
NOTHING, THEN I GOT A FAX BACK
FROM HIM SAYING, INTERESTING.
GIVE ME A WEEK TO
THINK ABOUT IT.
WHEN HE SAID THAT, I KNEW PRETTY
MUCH HE WAS GOING TO AGREE.
AND THEN HE WROTE BACK AGAIN
AND SAID, ALL RIGHT, YOU GOT
IT, COREN, BUT DON'T MENTION
MY CROSS-DRESSING ACTIVITIES
AND WINNING THE PRIZE FOR THE
QUEEN ESTHER COMPETITION
BACK IN 1950.
FROM THE VERY
BEGINNING, HE WAS FUN.
I THINK -- WHEN YOU WRITE A
BIOGRAPHY, THINK OF A LADDER
AGAINST A WALL.
YOU HAVE TO COVER EVERY
PART OF THE LADDER IN THE
BIOGRAPHY, BUT YOU CAN START
IN THE MIDDLE, OR START AT
THE TOP OR, IN FACT, START
A FEW YARDS AWAY FROM THE
LADDER, IF YOU LIKE,
BUT YOU HAVE TO COVER
THE WHOLE THING EVENTUALLY.
YOU'VE ALWAYS GOT A CERTAIN
IDEA IN YOUR HEAD OF
WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO.
YOU ARE BOTH CONSTRICTED, BUT
ALSO LIBERATED BY CHRONOLOGY.
THAT'S HELPING YOU, I
THINK, MOST OF THE TIME.
PETER AYKROYD, IN HIS
WONDERFUL BOOK ON T.S. ELIOT
BEGAN WITH 'T.S.
ELIOT WAS BORN ON'.
THAT'S FAIR ENOUGH.
I BEGAN CHESTERTON
WITH HIS DEATH.

Richard says RIGHT.

Michael says AS I SAY, MORDECAI'S
BIOGRAPHY BEGINS, IN FACT,
IN THE STUDIOS
OF TVONTARIO.
YOU ALWAYS HAVE AN IDEA
BECAUSE TO GET TO THE STAGE OF
WANTING TO DO THE BOOK, MEANS
YOU'VE ALREADY FANTASIZED
ABOUT WRITING THE BOOK.
I THINK YOU HAVE TO DO
THAT, OTHERWISE YOU ARE NOT
COMPETENT TO DO IT.

Richard says THE OTHER DIFFICULTY WITH
RICHLER IS HE IS NOT DEAD YET.
AND, IN FACT, THE JURY IS STILL
OUT AS TO WHETHER OR NOT
THERE ARE 18 GREAT BOOKS LEFT
IN HIM, OR NONE, OR 1.5.

Michael says JURY IN EVERY SENSE
OF THE WORD, IN FACT.

Richard says ABSOLUTELY.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN THAT CASE?
DO YOU DO THE STORY UNTIL NOW?
OR DO YOU KIND OF FEEL YOU'VE
SEEN THE SUM OF THE MAN'S LIFE?

Michael says 90-ODD PERCENT OF WHAT HAS
CREATED MORDECAI RICHLER
WRITER HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE.
HE WILL CREATE MORE, BUT
THE INFLUENCES UPON HIM,
MOST OF THEM WE KNOW ALREADY.
I DON'T THINK THERE IS GOING
TO BE AN ENORMOUS CHANGE IN
MORDECAI'S LIFE AND SUDDENLY
HE'S GOING TO BECOME A
CONSERVATIVE ROMAN
CATHOLIC AND A SEPARATIST.
WE KNOW WHAT MORDECAI
IS UP TO NOW.
SO I THINK MOST OF WHAT THERE
IS TO SAY ABOUT MORDECAI,
WHAT CREATED MORDECAI, IS
ALREADY THERE FOR ME TO STUDY.

Richard says IS THERE ANYBODY YOU CAN
THINK OF YOU WOULDN'T DO A
BIOGRAPHY OF OF NOTE?

Michael says THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.
I'VE NEVER REALLY
THOUGHT ABOUT THAT.
I WONDER IF I WILL DO ANOTHER
BIOGRAPHY AFTER MORDECAI.
THAT'S ABOUT HALF A DOZEN.
I HAVE A BOOK CONTRACT WITH
STODDART, MY PUBLISHER, LONG
INTO THE FUTURE, THERE ARE
OTHER BOOKS, BUT THEY ARE
NOT REALLY BIOGRAPHIES.
I ENJOYED THE YOUNG ADULT
BIOGRAPHY OF C.S. LEWIS,
MAYBE ANOTHER ONE THERE.
OTHERWISE, I THINK YOU CAN...
THERE ARE LIMITS, I THINK.
AND I DON'T PARTICULARLY
ENJOY THE LIBRARY WORK.
SITTING IN THE DUSTY LIBRARY,
DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY.
MANY PEOPLE LOVE THAT.
THAT'S NOT FOR ME.
THE QUICKER I'M OUT OF THAT
LIBRARY AND ACTUALLY WRITING
THE THING, THE BETTER.
BUT I CAN'T THINK OF
ANYONE I WOULDN'T DO, NO.

Richard says OKAY.
YOU SAID THERE ARE LIMITS,
WHICH GIVES ME A CLUE HERE
BECAUSE THE ONE WORK YOU'VE
DONE TO DATE THAT SEEMED TO
HAVE NO LIMITS, NO BOUNDARIES,
NO TASTE POLICE OUT THERE
WATCHING, WERE THE “AESTHETE
DIARIES” IN
FRANK MAGAZINE.
NOW, I'M CURIOUS HOW
THEY EVEN CAME ABOUT
IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Michael says HUGE INFLUENCE WAS AUBERON
WAUGH IN THE
PRIVATE EYE
MAGAZINE, WHICH IS REALLY
THE MOTHER OF
FRANK MAGAZINE,
AUBERON WAUGH, EVELYN WAUGH'S
SON, WROTE A DIARY EVERY TWO
WEEKS, A FICTITIOUS DIARY.
WONDERFULLY WRITTEN, VERY,
VERY FUNNY, SUPERB SATIRE.
FRANK MAGAZINE
ATTACKED ME,
THIS MUST BE ABOUT FIVE,
SIX YEARS AGO, ATTACKED ME.
AND I WROTE BACK
A LETTER TO THEM
WHICH I THOUGHT WAS FUNNY.
NOT SAYING, OH, DON'T ATTACK
ME AGAIN, I HATE THAT ATTITUDE,
JUST SAYING, VERY FUNNY, AND
NOW I'LL MAKE FUN OF YOU.
THEY CONTACTED ME AND
SAID, HEY, THAT WAS GOOD,
WHY DON'T YOU WRITE FOR US?
AND I SAID I'M NOT INTERESTED
IN GIVING INFORMATION
OR ANYTHING.
AND THEY SAID, WELL,
THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE.
AND I WROTE A DIARY, SENT IT
OFF TO THEM, AND THEY GOT BACK
AND SAID, THIS IS GOOD.
IT WAS CALLED “AESTHETE'S
DIARY,” FOR TWO OR THREE MONTHS.
IT SEEMED TO BE
CALLING A LOT OF A STIR.
I'VE ALWAYS HELD COURAGE
TO BE VERY IMPORTANT.
AND I WASN'T GOING TO HIDE
BEHIND THIS ANY LONGER.
BECAUSE I WOULD BE IN ROOMS
WHERE PEOPLE WOULD BE SAYING,
WE KNOW WHO IT IS, IT'S THIS
PERSON, OR THAT PERSON,
I THOUGHT, FORGET IT.
I PUT MY NAME TO THIS.
IF I WRITE IT, PUT
YOUR NAME TO IT.
IT BECAME MICHAEL
COREN'S DIARY.
ALTHOUGH, EVEN A YEAR OR SO
LATER, PEOPLE WERE STILL
SAYING, WHY DOESN'T MICHAEL
COREN SUE
FRANK MAGAZINE?
THEY KEEP USING HIS NAME.
SO THAT'S HOW NAIVE
SOME PEOPLE CAN BE.
AND THAT'S HOW
IT CAME ABOUT.
I SUPPOSE IT MUST HAVE BEEN
ABOUT THREE YEARS I WROTE IT.
I DECIDED TO LEAVE.
I THINK YOU'VE ALWAYS GOT
TO QUIT WHEN YOU ARE AHEAD.
TIMING IS VERY IMPORTANT.
I LEFT
THE GLOBE AND
MAIL,
SIMILAR REASONS.
I THOUGHT I'D DONE ENOUGH.
I'D MADE FUN OF THE PEOPLE
I WANTED TO MAKE FUN OF.
I SAID THE THINGS
I WANTED TO SAY.
IT WAS OCCASIONALLY
BECOMING REPETITIVE.
THE BOOK WAS A BEST SELLER,
WENT VERY WELL, AND I THOUGHT,
QUIT NOW, MICHAEL,
YOU'RE AHEAD.
DON'T WAIT FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE
THE WORK, DON'T WAIT FOR THEM
TO SAY, I'VE SEEN THAT, I'VE
HEARD THAT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
QUIT NOW.
HARD TO DO.
VERY HARD, BUT I DID.
AND I HAVE NO REGRETS.
ENJOYED IT VERY MUCH.
STILL VERY PROUD OF IT.

Richard says DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BIT?

Michael says OH, YOU KNOW WHAT, I
HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT THIS
IN QUITE A LONG TIME.
BUT THERE WERE
SOME FUNNY MOMENTS.
THE CANADIAN NATIONALIST
SERIAL KILLER, SON OF SAM
THE RECORD MAN.
JUST LITTLE BITS HERE AND THERE
I THOUGHT WERE VERY FUNNY.
AND JUST MAKING FUN OF, THERE
IS THAT TENDENCY IN THIS
COUNTRY, WE ALL KNOW, TO BE
VERY POMPOUS, WHEN YOU ARE
IN POSITIONS OF
INFLUENCE AND POWER.
TO BURST THE BUBBLE OF
REPUTATION WAS A LOT OF FUN.
AND IT HADN'T
BEEN DONE BEFORE.
SO AS A BODY OF WORK,
I'M PROUD OF IT.

Richard says DO YOU REGRET ANY OF IT?

Michael says NO, I DON'T THINK SO.
NO, I DON'T REGRET ANY OF IT.
I MEAN, I DON'T THINK YOU
REALLY CAN HAVE TOO MANY
REGRETS ANYWAY.
THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE
I WOULD REALLY GO FOR NOW,
WHO I DIDN'T AT THE TIME,
BUT OTHERWISE, NO, NO.

Richard says I GUESS THAT TIES IN.
I WAS GOING TO ASK IF THERE
HAD EVER BEEN A TARGET
THAT PERHAPS YOU FELT
YOU HAD BEEN TOO HARD ON.
MAYBE YOU BROUGHT OUT A
HOWITZER TO KILL A MOUSE.

Michael says YOU MAKE THE POINT VERY WELL
BECAUSE SATIRE SHOULD BE
DELICATE, AND WHY USE A SABRE
IF YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH A FOIL.
THERE'S NOBODY, I DON'T THINK,
EVERYBODY I WENT AFTER AT THE
TIME, THERE WAS A
REASON FOR DOING IT.
AND IT'S INTERESTING HOW
PEOPLE HAVE REACTED.
MOST GOOD PEOPLE HAVE SAID
THAT WAS REALLY FUNNY,
AND YOU MADE FUN OF
ME, AND THAT'S FINE.
THERE ARE ONE OR TWO PEOPLE,
THREE OR FOUR, ACTUALLY, MAYBE
SEVEN OR EIGHT PEOPLE, WHO
WERE TERRIBLY HURT BY THIS.
AND THEY TEND TO BE
THE PEOPLE WHO YOU'D KNOW
THEY WOULDN'T FORGIVE.
THEY'RE NOT THE
FORGIVING TYPES.
AND THEY'VE GIVEN IT OUT OVER
THE YEARS IN OTHER WAYS,
BUT DON'T LIKE IT BACK.
PEOPLE LIKE MIKE DUFFY AND
PIERRE BURTON, AND SO ON, HAVE
ALWAYS BEEN VERY GRACIOUS.
AND OTHERS, BOB RAE, THEY'VE
BEEN VERY DECENT ABOUT
THE WHOLE THING.
ONE OR TWO OTHERS,
THEY HAVEN'T LIKED IT.

Richard says ANY NAMES?

Michael says UM, WELL, I CERTAINLY WOULD
THINK THAT THE ANGER AND
SPLEEN OF UNCLE BOB FULFORD
TOWARDS ME, IT'S PARTLY
BECAUSE HE'S VERY JEALOUS, BUT
ALSO, I THINK BECAUSE I MADE
A LOT OF FUN OF HIM
IN
FRANK MAGAZINE,
AND HE DIDN'T LIKE THAT.
BUT WHEN YOU'RE BOB
FULFORD, HOW CAN YOU NOT
HAVE FUN MADE OF YOU?
SO HE'S REALLY ASKING FOR IT.

Richard says AFTER YOU LEFT
FRANK, TO
GO ON TO MANY OTHER THINGS,
FRANK
STILL ATTACKS
YOU NOW AND THEN.
NOW, SOME PEOPLE HAVE CLAIMED
THAT THEY ARE DELIBERATELY,
STRATEGICALLY PLACED BECAUSE
YOU STILL GIVE ITEMS TO
FRANK
MAGAZINE, AND YOU
ARE STILL PART OF
FRANK
MAGAZIN
E, AND THE ONLY REASON
THEY PILLORY YOU NOW AND
THEN IS TO KIND OF GET
US ALL OFF THE SCENT.

Michael says THAT WOULD BE RATHER
MACHIAVELLIAN.
I DO GIVE THEM
INFORMATION --

Richard says WELL?

Michael says NO, I WOULD GIVE FRANK,
IF I HAD A REALLY JUICY BIT OF
INFORMATION I THOUGHT WAS FUN,
I'D GIVE IT TO
FRANK, YEAH.
MOST PEOPLE I RESPECT IN MEDIA
GIVE THEM INFORMATION IF THEY
THINK IT'S REALLY GOOD.
I WOULDN'T HURT ANYONE, BUT
IF IT'S FUN AND ENTERTAINING
I WOULD PASS IT OVER.
I WOULD NEVER DENY THAT.
WHY WOULD I?
AND THE EDITOR, I STILL
KNOW, QUITE A NICE GUY.
NO, BUT THEIR ATTACKING ME?
NO.
THEY'VE NEVER HURT ME BECAUSE
I'VE GOT A PRETTY THICK SKIN.
THERE WAS A TIME, FOR EXAMPLE,
WHEN THEY CALLED VARIOUS
PEOPLE AND SAID THEY WERE
COSMO MAGAZINE
AND WOULD
PEOPLE POSE FOR THEM NUDE.
AND I WAS TAKEN IN COMPLETELY.
I SAID, NO I WOULDN'T.
I WOULD POSE IN A SOCCER KIT,
BUT NOT NUDE.
AND THERE WAS MY PICTURE
IN THE NEXT ISSUE.
NO, IT'S NOT THAT CLOSE.
BUT I'M NOT GOING TO BE ONE
OF THESE PEOPLE WHO SAY,
OH,
FRANK,
I HATE IT, I
WON'T GIVE THEM INFORMATION.
I LIKE IT, AND I DO GIVE THEM
INFORMATION IF IT COMES
MY WAY, AND I KNOW A
LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DO.
I JUST WISH THEY'D
BE HONEST ABOUT IT.

Richard says WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE ARE
PEOPLE WHO YOU RESPECT AND YOU
ADMIRE, WHO
FRANK
GOES AFTER
RUTHLESSLY, LIKE CONRAD BLACK
AND BARBARA AMIEL?

Michael says I THINK CONRAD BLACK AND
BARBARA AMIEL ARE BIG ENOUGH
TO TAKE IT.
AND OCCASIONALLY,
FRANK
HAS BEEN FUNNY.
SOMETIMES IT'S JUST SILLY
ABOUT CONRAD AND BARBARA,
BUT IT CAN BE FUNNY.
THEY'RE THERE.
THEY'RE OUT THERE.
WE'RE IN THE PUBLIC EYE.
AND FOR TOO LONG IN CANADA,
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN THE PUBLIC
EYE ENJOYED ALL OF THOSE
PRIVILEGES, BUT NOT WANTED,
IN ANY WAY, TO
BE MADE FUN OF.
I THINK THE EQUATION
HAS TO HAVE BOTH SIDES.
I DON'T THINK CONRAD AND
BARBARA ARE THE SORT OF PEOPLE
WHO WOULD MIND, PARTICULARLY.
THEY'RE ABOVE ALL OF THAT.
BUT I DO GET VERY ANNOYED
AT THOSE PEOPLE WHO SAY,
OH, THEY ATTACKED ME.
HOW DARE THEY?
MOST PEOPLE I'VE MET ACTUALLY
LIKE, THEY MIGHT NOT ADMIT
IT, BUT THEY LIKE
TO BE IN
FRANK.
IT KEEPS THEM OUT THERE.
MY ATTITUDE HAS ALWAYS BEEN
WHEN THEY STOP ATTACKING ME
I BEGIN TO WORRY.
AND I HONESTLY
DO BELIEVE THAT.

Richard says The GLOBE AND MAIL,
YOU WROTE FOR NEXT.
ANOTHER STORY, PERHAPS,
HYPOCRYPHAL IS THAT, TWO
PEOPLE ON THE EDITORIAL STAFF
ARE ARGUING ABOUT YOUR COLUMN
AND ONE SAID, MICHAEL COREN'S
COLUMN REALLY BOTHERS ME.
AND THE OTHER EDITOR SAID,
IT DOESN'T BOTHER ME.
AND HE SAID, WHY?
HE SAID, WELL,
I NEVER READ IT.

Michael says THAT ONE I DON'T BELIEVE.

Richard says WAS IT A DELICATE
TIME AT
THE GLOBE?
BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND
THERE WERE OCCASIONALLY
DISAGREEMENTS ABOUT THINGS AND
COLUMNS THAT WERE WRITTEN.

Michael says I MAY HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN
THE ONLY PERSON TO WRITE
TWO COLUMNS SIMULTANEOUSLY.
I WAS BROUGHT IN WE THE
EDITOR, WILLIAM THORSELL,
TO WRITE A MEN'S COLUMN, WHICH
I DID FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS.
AND HALFWAY THROUGH THAT, I
WAS ASKED TO WRITE AN ARTS
COLUMN FOR THEM, WHICH
I DID FOR ABOUT A YEAR.
AND WHEN THE ARTS COLUMN WAS
BROUGHT IN, I DID HEAR THAT
ONE OF THE PEOPLE IN THE ARTS
PAGE, FAIRLY SENIOR PERSON,
WAS ASHEN-FACED WHEN SHE HEARD
I WAS GOING TO BE WRITING
THIS COLUMN AND WAS TERRIBLY
UPSET AND STAMPED HER LITTLE
FEET AND ALL THAT.

Richard says WAS THERE A PUN IN ASHEN-FACED?

Michael says YOU'D HAVE TO BE THE
JUDGE OF THAT, NOT ME.
THE MEN'S COLUMN CERTAINLY
HAD A BIG IMPACT.
THE MAIL I RECEIVED.
AND I'M VERY PROUD
OF THAT COLUMN.
THERE ARE PEOPLE AT THE PAPER --
THERE WAS A PETITION TO
WITHDRAW ONE OF THE COLUMNS.
Mr. THORSELL WAS AWAY, THE
MANAGING EDITOR WAS AWAY.
I THINK THE THIRD
PERSON WAS AWAY, TOO.
AND SOME PEOPLE GOT A PETITION
TOGETHER, FOUR OR FIVE NAMES,
TO STOP THE COLUMN GOING IN.
ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO SIGNED
IT, WHO LATER WENT TO THE CBC
TO BE A JOURNALIST,
LATER APOLOGIZED TO ME.
SHE SAID I SHOULDN'T
HAVE DONE THAT.
THERE ARE SOME PETTY,
SMALL-MINDED PEOPLE
IN THE MEDIA.
YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO.

Richard says I KNOW, BUT WHICH COLUMN
PROVOKED ALL THAT ATTENTION?

Michael says THIS ONE WAS ABOUT, SOMEBODY
HAD WRITTEN SAYING THERE WERE
TOO MANY MEN WRITING AT
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, AND THAT NO
WOMEN HAD ANY POWER AT
THE GLOBE, AND I'D RESPONDED.
I WAS A COLUMNIST, AND I
SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WRITE
WHATEVER I WANTED TO, BUT
THERE WAS A PROBLEM ABOUT THIS.
AND THE COLUMN DIDN'T
GO IN IN THE END.
THIS WAS A REAL EXAMPLE
OF CENSORING FREEDOM.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
WAS VERY
GOOD FOR ME, I LIKE TO THINK,
IN SOME WAYS, I WAS GOOD FOR
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, BUT I
SHOULD THINK I'VE BEEN
LONG FORGOTTEN NOW.
IT IS A VERY INSULAR
NEWSPAPER IN MANY WAYS.
MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO WORK
FOR IT ARE EVEN MORE INSULAR.
THEY REALLY THINK THEY
HAVE AN INFLUENCE.
HOW MANY PEOPLE
REALLY ARE INFLUENCED BY
THE GLOBE AND MAIL?
THE STORY YOU TOLD ME, I
CAN JUST IMAGINE WHO THE
TWO PEOPLE WOULD BE.
AND IT'S SO PREDICTABLE.
AND THE OTHER THING IS I CAN
JUST IMAGINE THEM REHEARSING
THAT RESPONSE IN THE WASHROOM.
THE COLUMNS CAUSED A STIR.
FOR EXAMPLE, THE ARTS COLUMN,
GEORGE WOODCOCK,
WHEN HE DIED, THERE WERE
TRIBUTES TO HIM.
GEORGE WOODCOCK WAS AN
ANARCHIST WRITER, SORT OF
BIOGRAPHER, WHO LIVED
IN BRITISH COLUMBIA.
I WROTE A COLUMN THAT SAID
I'M NOT PREPARED TO CELEBRATE
THIS MAN BECAUSE HE CALLED
FOR BRITISH AND CANADIAN
SOLDIERS TO THROW DOWN THEIR
ARMS AND EMBRACE THE NAZIS
IN 1940.
HE WAS TOLD BY GEORGE ORWELL,
WHO HE KNEW, THAT THIS WAS
RIDICULOUS, YOU CAN'T DO THIS.
THIS IS NOT GANDHI AND
THE BRITISH IN INDIA.
THESE PEOPLE WILL
KILL YOU IF YOU DO IT.
WOODCOCK SAID I DON'T CARE.
I INTERVIEWED WOODCOCK, AND
I SAID, Mr. WOODCOCK, NOW
YOU'VE SEEN THE DEATH CAMPS
AND SO ON, WOULD YOU STILL
SAY THROW DOWN YOUR
ARMS AND SURRENDER?
YES, I WOULD.
I WROTE IN MY COLUMN, I'M
NOT PREPARED TO CELEBRATE
A MAN WHO DID THAT.
A MAN WHO WOULDN'T EVEN THEN
WORK ON A FARM PRODUCING FOOD
FOR THE HOME FRONT, WHEN HE
WAS INTERNED IN BRITAIN,
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
I SAID IF WOODCOCK WOULD HAVE
HAD HIS WAY, MY FAMILY WOULD
HAVE BEEN KILLED, I WOULDN'T
BE HERE, NO, I'M NOT GOING
TO APPLAUD THIS MAN.
THAT MADE PEOPLE VERY ANGRY.
IT'S A VERY NARROW AREA
YOU'RE ALLOWED TO TREAD.
YOU GO OUTSIDE OF THAT, YOU'RE
NO LONGER ONE OF THE GROUP.

Richard says NOW, WRITING IS ONE THING,
BUT NOTHING MAKES YOU FAMOUS
ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD LIKE
RADIO AND TELEVISION.
AND I THINK THE NEXT STEP IN
THE MICHAEL COREN MYTHOLOGY
COMES WHEN YOU APPEARED
REGULARLY IN TVONTARIO WITH
FRIENDLY FIRE
ON STUDIO 2,
AND WENT ON, AFTER A WHILE,
TO THE CFRB.
NOW THAT THE ORIGINAL FORM OF
FRIENDLY FIRE
WILL NOT BE
BACK ON
STUDIO 2,
DO YOU HAVE
ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR TWO
YEARS WITH IRSHAD?

Michael says I BELIEVE THE CARDS WERE
OFTEN STACKED AGAINST ME,
IN THAT I WAS A GENTLEMAN.
I WOULD OFTEN LET IRSHAD
BEGIN, AND OFTEN LET HER HAVE
THE LAST WORD, AND OFTEN LET
HER, IN FACT, HAVE 70-ODD
PERCENT, OR 60-ODD PERCENT,
OF THE TIME DURING THE DEBATE.
WHAT'S THE PHRASE, GIVING
SOMEONE ENOUGH ROPE
TO HANG THEMSELVES.

Richard says RIGHT.

Michael says BUT WHAT ANNOYS ME IS THE
POTENTIAL WAS SO GREAT.
I THINK THE DEBATE FORMAT
HASN'T BEEN USED PROPERLY
IN THIS COUNTRY.
I DON'T THINK THE CBC DO IT
PROPERLY, AND IT
CAN
BE
SO SUCCESSFUL.
THE IDEA OF AN EXTENDED
ARGUMENT, OF TWO PEOPLE, AS
THEY WOULD IN THE STREET, OR
A CAFE, OR PARK BENCH, JUST
ARGUING, SOMETIMES PASSIONATE,
GIVING AWAY OCCASIONALLY WHAT
THEY REALLY THINK, AND TRYING
TO DEVELOP SOME SORT OF
DIALECTIC FROM THAT.
WE DIDN'T DO THAT.
WE NEVER REHEARSED IT.
A LOT OF PEOPLE THOUGHT WE
DID, WE DIDN'T, BUT I THINK
SOMETIMES IT
LOOKED TOO REHEARSED.
AND NEAR THE END OF THE TWO
YEARS, I BELIEVE PROBABLY THE
MUTUAL DISLIKE -- WELL I CAN'T
SAY MUTUAL BECAUSE I CAN'T
SPEAK FOR IRSHAD, WELL, MY
DISLIKE OF HER, I THINK
REALLY -- NOT
DISLIKE, MY INDIFFERENCE.
I JUST DIDN'T CARE ANYMORE,
REALLY DID COME TO THE SURFACE.
AND THAT WAS WRONG.

Richard says WAS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU
STARTED TO BE AWARE OF LARGE
WAVES OF THE PUBLIC AT
MASS RESPONDING TO YOU.
BECAUSE PEOPLE DID PHONE IN
OR WRITE IN AND EMAIL IN,
DO EVERYTHING.

Michael says AND THAT COMBINED, WHEN CFRB
CAME ALONG WHICH WAS ABOUT
HALFWAY THROUGH
STUDIO 2,
THE
COMBINATION OF THOSE, PLUS
I'D GONE TO
THE FINANCIAL
POST, I WAS SYNDICATED
THROUGH THE SUN GROUPS, AND
MY PHOTO, MY PHOTO WASN'T IN
THE GLOBE,
MY PHOTO IN THE
PAPER, BEING ON THE RADIO,
BIGGEST STATION IN THE
COUNTRY, AND
STUDIO 2,
ALL
COMBINED, YES, THERE WAS AN
ENORMOUS REACTION TO THAT.

Richard says NOW, WE COME TO THE
APOTHEOSIS OF CORENISM, CFRB,
MICHAEL COREN IN THE EVENINGS.
DO YOU THINK OF IT
AS YOUR BULLY PULPIT?

Michael says I THINK OF IT AS AN
OPPORTUNITY TO SAY WHAT I
THINK WITHIN THE LIMITS
AND THE FAIR LIMITS OF THE
BROADCASTING ACT AND
THE CRTC REGULATIONS.
I BELIEVE THERE IS A
GREAT NEED UP THERE.
WE DON'T HAVE A
CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO.
WE DO HAVE IT, BUT
I WOULD SUGGEST NOT OF
AN INTELLECTUAL STANDARD.
THERE ARE REACTIONARIES.
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WOULD
SIMPLY SAY, OH, WELL, THAT'S
WRONG, AND THIS IS WRONG, BUT
I LIKE TO THINK I BRING A
CERTAIN INTELLECT
TO THE SHOW.
AND IT'S NOT ONLY
POLITICS EITHER.
BECAUSE THERE WILL BE TWO
HOURS OF HARD POLITICS,
AND THE THIRD LIGHTER HOUR
OF INTERVIEWS, SHOWBIZ,
WHATEVER IS GOING ON.
IT IS WONDERFULLY CATHARTIC
TO BE ABLE TO GET ON A SHOW,
ON THE BIGGEST RADIO
STATION IN THE COUNTRY,
AND SAY THIS IS
WHAT I BELIEVE.
AND TO KNOW THE NUMBER OF
PEOPLE THAT ARE LISTENING,
IT WAS ABOUT NECK AND NECK WITH
OUR CBC COMPETITION AT THAT
TIME IN THE EVENING, BUT THEY
ARE JUST LISTENING TO ME.
YES.
NOW, IF I THOUGHT ABOUT THAT
EVERY TIME I WAS ABOUT TO GO
ON, I THINK I WOULD
HAVE A BREAKDOWN.
I NEVER DO THINK ABOUT
IT, I JUST GO ON AND TRY
TO HAVE FUN, AND USUALLY DO.
IT IS WHEN YOU GO OUT AND
PEOPLE TRY TO, WHEN THEY STOP
YOU AND SHAKE YOUR HAND.
THE PEOPLE WHO HATE ME DON'T
COME UP TO ME, BUT THOSE WHO
SHAKE YOUR HAND EVERY COUPLE
OF MINUTES, EVER FEW YARDS,
SOMEONE WILL SAY HELLO TO YOU,
YOU REALIZE, MY GOODNESS,
I'M ACTUALLY HAVING AN IMPACT.
PEOPLE ARE LISTENING HERE.

Richard says WHAT I FOUND ASTONISHING, I
WAS DOING SOME RESEARCH ON YOU
FOR THIS, AND I WENT
ONTO THE INTERNET.
AND THERE IS A MICHAEL
COREN HOME PAGE.
AND IT IS NOT SET
UP BY MICHAEL COREN.
YOU HAVE THIS FAN OUT THERE
WHO DOWNLOADS TRANSCRIPTS OF
YOUR SHOW, AND AUDIO BYTES
OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE,
AND REPRINTS COLUMNS,
AND DOES ALL OF THIS.
DO YOU KNOW THIS PERSON?

Michael says NO, IT'S FUNNY YOU SHOULD
SAY THIS BECAUSE IT'S ONLY
RECENTLY DID I KNOW ABOUT THAT.
I'M NOT ON THE INTERNET.
AND A GUY AT CFRB, IN FACT,
SAID DO YOU KNOW THERE IS
A PAGE FOR YOU.
AND I THINK YOU ARE THE ONLY
TALK RADIO PERSON THAT DOES
HAVE A PAGE.
AND I'VE SEEN SOME OF IT, IT
IS USUALLY COMPLIMENTARY
AND VERY NICE, AND I MUST NEVER
THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT THAT.
IF YOU THINK TO YOURSELF,
AFTER YOU CHANGED THE KID'S
DIAPER, OR JUST AFTER YOU
FINISHED A SOCCER GAME,
THERE IS A PAGE ABOUT ME ON THE
INTERNET, THAT COULD REALLY
WEIRD YOU OUT, MAN.
SO I DON'T THINK
ABOUT IT TOO MUCH.
BUT IT'S VERY FLATTERING.

Richard says DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT
KIND OF ATTENTION BECOMING
UNWHOLESOME ATTENTION?
I'M THINKING OF THAT KIND
OF THING THAT LED TO RADIO
TALK SHOW HOSTS OR GETTING
SHOT, OR THE STATE OF MIND
ERIC BOGOSIAN TALKED ABOUT
IN TALK RADIO, WHERE,
ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE DEALING
WITH, SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO
AGREE WITH YOU, MICHAEL, ARE
NOT NICE PEOPLE, ARE HATE
MONGERS, ARE OUT
ON THE FRINGE.
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT SOME OF
THOSE PEOPLE, I DON'T SAY ALL,
BUT
SOME
OF THOSE
PEOPLE GOING TOO FAR?

Michael says I WOULDN'T HAVE THOUGHT
HATE MONGERS AGREED WITH ME
BECAUSE WHENEVER I HAVE A
REAL HATE MONGER, LIKE A
NEO NAZI, OR WHATEVER ON THE
SHOW, I TEND TO ABUSE THEM
AND SHOUT AT THEM AND MAKE
FUN OF THEM, AND PUT THE
PHONE DOWN.
REMEMBER, I'M HALF JEWISH,
SO THEY DON'T LIKE ME
VERY MUCH EITHER.
I GET DEATH THREATS, YEAH.

Richard says YOU DO?

Michael says OH YEAH, SURE.

Richard says DO YOU TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY?

Michael says NO.
I WORKED IN NORTHERN
IRELAND FOR MANY YEARS.
AND IF HARD MEN ARE GOING TO
HURT YOU, THEY DON'T WRITE
TO TELL YOU THEY'RE
GOING TO DO IT.
NO, PEOPLE WRITE TO
YOU TO WORRY YOU.
I DON'T FRIGHTEN EASILY.
I GET DEATH THREATS
AND NASTY LETTERS.
20-1 NICE LETTERS, BUT
THAT'S ALL PART OF IT.
AND IT MIGHT SOUND A BIT
TRITE, BUT REALLY, IF I WASN'T
BEING ATTACKED, I
WOULDN'T BE WORKING.
IT WOULD BE VERY EASY JUST
TO APPEAL TO EVERYONE.
YOU CAN'T DO THAT.
I HAVE A CERTAIN OPINION
AND A CERTAIN POSITION.
I BELIEVE THE MAJORITY OF
CANADIANS ARE MORE OR LESS
BEHIND THAT.
BUT CERTAINLY A
LARGE GROUP ARE NOT,
AND THEY HATE WHAT I SAY.
I'M NEVER GOING TO BE LIKED
BY -- AND THE TERM 'RADICAL' IS
IMPORTANT HERE -- RADICAL BLACK
GROUPS, RADICAL GAY GROUPS,
THEY ARE NOT
GOING TO LIKE ME.
RADICAL FEMINISTS.
THAT DOESN'T MEAN BLACK
PEOPLE, GAY PEOPLE, FEMINISTS
WON'T LIKE ME, BUT THE
RADICALS IN THAT COMMUNITY
WHO I DON'T AGREE
WITH WILL NOT LIKE ME.
IF THEY DO, I'M FAILING,
I'M SELLING OUT.
SO THE DEATH THREATS AND
SO ON ARE PART OF THE GAME.
KEEP 'EM COMING.

Richard says KEEP 'EM COMING.
AND MICHAEL COREN WILL
CONTINUE AS A GROWTH INDUSTRY.

Michael says THANK YOU.

Richard says THANK YOU, MICHAEL.

He faces the screen and says
FOR DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue. Special thanks to Canadian Opera Company.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1996, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Michael Coren