Transcript: Toller Cranston | Sep 28, 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 a production assistant helping a guest with his microphone: “Toller Cranston.”

Toller and Richard Ouzounian sit in a carpeted room with large colourful abstract paintings.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a black suit, dark gray shirt, and striped black tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
YOU'RE ABOUT TO MEET A MAN WHO
HAS NOT ONLY REVOLUTIONIZED
THE FACE OF SKATING, BUT
HAS DONE THE SAME FOR THE ART
OF BIOGRAPHY, AS WELL.
YOU KNOW THE PHRASE MY
LIFE IS AN OPEN BOOK?
WELL, THIS MAN HAS DONE AN
OPEN BOOK, WHICH IS LARGELY
HIS LIFE.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH TOLLER CRANSTON.

Toller is in his forties, clean-shaven, with short straight blond hair. He’s wearing an indigo V-necked sweater over a turquoise polo shirt.

Richard continues TOLLER, YOUR BOOK,
ZERO
TOLERANCE,
IS, AS PEOPLE WILL
TELL YOU, AN AMAZING READ.
IT'S A WHOLE SERIES OF LITTLE
SHORT HITS ABOUT YOUR SKATING
LIFE AND YOUR REAL LIFE
ALL WRAPPED TOGETHER.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL THINK
OF YOU FIRST AS TOLLER THE
SKATER, SO I WANT TO START
WITH SOME OF THE SKATING
THINGS YOU SAY IN THE BOOK.
YOU SAY THAT YOUR SKATING
CAREER WAS A MIXTURE OF
TERRIBLY UNLUCKY THINGS, AND
CRUEL MEAN AWFUL THINGS,
AND EXTRAORDINARY THINGS.
THOSE ARE YOUR
THREE CATEGORIES.
LET'S GO BACKWARDS, AND
WITH THE GOOD STUFF FIRST.
IF YOU HAD TO ZERO IN ON THE
MOST EXTRAORDINARY THING THAT
HAPPENED IN THE SKATING
CAREER, WHAT IS IT?

Toller says WELL, CAN WE GET HEAVY
RIGHT OFF THE TOP?

Richard says SURE.

Toller says MY MOST EXTRAORDINARY ASPECT
OF MY SKATING CAREER, AND
IT'S ONLY TAKEN, LIKE, 48
YEARS TO FIGURE IT OUT, WAS
THAT SOMEHOW, IN SOME WAY, IN
AN INEXPLICABLE WAY, I HAD
BEEN SINGLED OUT BY THE FATES
TO PLAY A CERTAIN ROLE.
I GUESS IT WAS THE ROLE OF
PRETTY MUCH BEING A TEACHER,
BUT I DIDN'T KNOW THAT.
I MEAN, EVEN AS A STUDENT,
I WAS KIND OF A TEACHER.
AND I WAS SORT OF LIKE DAVY
CROCKETT GOING INTO NEW AND
DIFFERENT TERRITORY.
THE EXTRAORDINARY THING WAS
THAT I REALLY DO BELIEVE THAT
I HAD BEEN SINGLED OUT
FOR THAT PARTICULAR TASK.
BUT MY NAIVETE MADE ME BELIEVE
THAT, WHY CAN'T I BE LIKE
OTHER PEOPLE?
LIKE I JUST WANT TO WIN THE
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ONCE.
OR IF I COULD JUST
WIN THE OLYMPICS ONCE.
AND I WAS ALWAYS, AS I SAID,
MAKING CHEAP DEALS WITH GOD.
I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT
MY ROLE WAS UNTIL AFTER
IT WAS ALL OVER.
I REALLY DIDN'T.

Richard says AND WHAT WAS THAT?

Toller says AND THAT WAS THE
EXTRAORDINARY THING.
THE EXTRAORDINARY THING, FOR
EXAMPLE, IN 1980 SOMETHING OR
OTHER, I COMPETED IN THIS
COMPETITION IN SAPPORO, IT WAS
A PROFESSIONAL COMPETITION.
AND I WAS BEGINNING TO
START MY NUMBER, IN THIS
COMPETITION, BUT I HAD
COMPETED IN SAPPORO IN 1972 IN
THE OLYMPICS, AND IT DAWNED
UPON ME JUST BEFORE I SKATED,
AND THAT WAS 1983, OR
SOMETHING, WHY WAS I THE ONLY
PERSON LEFT, THE ONLY
SURVIVOR OF THOSE GAMES?
THE ONLY ONE STILL GOING?
OF THE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE THAT
WOULD HAVE COMPETED IN '72,
WHY WAS I THE LAST ONE?
MANY, MANY, MANY TIMES IN MY
LIFE, REALLY GOING BACK TO
THE AGE OF 13, AND ON
UP, I WANTED TO STOP.
AND THE HUMAN PART OF ME SAID
I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE,
AND I DON'T WANT TO.
BUT I WAS NEVER ABLE TO
MAKE THAT DECISION TO STOP.
IT WAS NOT MINE TO MAKE.
IT WAS SOMEBODY
ELSE'S TO MAKE.
SO WHEN ONE SAYS, WHEN
ARE YOU GOING TO STOP?
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO RETIRE?
ONLY FOOLS PUT A CIRCLE ON
THE CALENDAR AND SAY, WELL,
I'LL JUST GO FOR ONE MORE
YEAR AND THAT'LL BE IT.
I WANT TO STOP, BUT IT
ISN'T MY DECISION YET.
AND I HAVEN'T BEEN
GIVEN THE SIGNS.
AND AS YOU GROW OLDER, YOU
START READING THE SIGNS
AROUND YOUR LIFE.
LIKE THINGS TELL
YOU WHAT TO DO.
WHY DID I STAY IN CANADA?
BASICALLY, CANADA, ON THE
DOWNSIDE, IS THE WORST COUNTRY
I COULD POSSIBLY
HAVE SPRUNG FROM.
THE CULTURE IS TOO NEW.
ARTISTIC ENDEAVORS, INTELLECT,
INNOVATION IS NOT UNDERSTOOD
IN THIS COUNTRY, BASICALLY.
AND FOR ANYONE WHO HAS TO BE
UNDERSTOOD, OR ANYONE WHO IS
DOING AN USUAL THINGS, I
GUESS, MUCH STARTER TO GO
SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Richard says YOU WERE ALWAYS ACCLAIMED
HERE AND ELSEWHERE.

Toller says SO WHY DIDN'T I?

Richard says WHY DIDN'T YOU?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Toller Cranston."

Toller says BECAUSE IN THE VERY, VERY
BIGGEST PICTURE, CANADA WAS
THE RIGHT PLACE FOR ME.

Richard says NOW, IN WHAT SENSE?
I JUST HAVE TO MENTION, IF
THERE'S A DIRTY FOUR LETTER
WORD IN THE BOOK, IT'S CFSA,
THE CANADIAN FIGURE SKATING
ASSOCIATION, WHICH SEEMED TO
PUT SO MANY ROADBLOCKS IN YOUR
PATH, AND BE OUT TO GET
YOU A LOT OF THE TIME.
AND WITH THAT ALL THERE, AND
YOU CATALOGUE IT VERY WELL IN
THE BOOK.
WITH ALL OF THAT, WHY DID YOU
FEEL CANADA WAS STILL THE
BEST PLACE FOR YOU?

Toller says BECAUSE I ONLY UNDERSTOOD
THAT LIKE YEARS AFTERWARDS.
AND THE CFSA, AND JUST RECENTLY,
I'VE BEEN INDUCTED INTO THE
CANADIAN FIGURE
SKATING HALL OF FAME.
I'M IN THE AMERICAN ONE.
I'M IN THE GERMAN ONE.
I'M IN THE SWEDISH ONE.
BUT LIKE 25 YEARS AFTER THE
FACT, I'M FINALLY GOING TO GET
INTO THE CANADIAN.

Richard says CANADIAN LAST.

Toller says YEAH, OF COURSE.
AND I HAD TO SORT
OF SAY SOMETHING.
I THINK IF THEY STILL
WANT ME FOR THE CEREMONY
FOR THE INDUCTION.
AND I THINK THAT I'M A VERY
PRICKLY PERSON FOR THEM
TO HAVE IN THAT MUSEUM.
AND WHAT I WOULD SAY TO THEM
IS, IT WASN'T REALLY MY FAULT
THAT I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THEM.
AND IT WASN'T THEIR FAULT
THEY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND ME.
IT TRULY, IT WAS MORE THAN
THEY COULD SORT OF COMPREHEND,
I THINK.
THEY DID NOT UNDERSTAND ME.
AND KNOWING THAT THEY DIDN'T,
I HAD, YOU KNOW, A CERTAIN
KIND OF BEHAVIOUR THAT
PROTECTED ME, BUT OFFENDED
THEM.
ISABELLE AND PAUL DUCHESNAY,
FRIENDS OF MINE, ALSO HAD A
VERY DIFFICULT TIME.
AND I THINK OUR CAREERS
SORT OF PARALLELED.
EXCEPT THEY WERE THE WORLD
CHAMPIONS, AND I WASN'T.
BUT THEY LEFT CANADA.
AND THEY WENT AND
SKATED FOR FRANCE.
I DONE THINK THE CFSA HAS EVER
REALLY FORGIVEN THEM FOR THAT.
YET THEY HAD TO DO IT IN
ORDER TO DO WHAT THEY WERE
GOING TO DO.
I STAYED.
STRANGELY, I COULD HAVE GONE
TO FRANCE, TOO, BECAUSE AT THE
TIME I WAS 13 AND 14, I WAS
SKATING OUT OF THE PROVINCE OF
QUEBEC, AND THERE WAS A
CERTAIN DISCUSSION IN FRANCE,
LIKE, GEE, YOU'RE A GOOD
SKATER, YOU COULD PROBABLY
COME AND REPRESENT FRANCE.
I DIDN'T DO IT.
IT WASN'T FOR ME TO DO IT.
ANYWAY, I DID WHAT I DID
IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING.

Richard says AS I'M TALKING TO YOU ABOUT
SKATING, AND HOW PEOPLE CATCH
ON TO THINGS LATER, WHEN
YOU CAME INTO THE WORLD OF
SKATING, IT WAS PRETTY STAID,
ESPECIALLY IN NORTH AMERICA.
YOU KNOW, THE BOYS WORE THEIR
LITTLE BOY JUMP SUITS THAT
WERE VERY SIMPLE, AND EVERYBODY
DID VERY NICE SIMPLE ROUTINES.
THEN SUDDENLY, YOU WERE
OUT THERE, THE PEACOCK,
WITH THE SEQUINS.
I MEAN, YOU ONCE SAID,
WELL, I HAVE NEVER HAD
A BIG ENTRANCE.
MY ACT BEGAN WITH MY USUAL,
HERE I AM THE PEACOCK, ADORE ME.
THAT'S WHAT YOU WRITE.
BUT NOW YOU LOOK AT WHAT'S
HAPPENED WITH SKATING, WITH
EVERYTHING THAT EVERYONE DOES,
THE WHOLE WAY IT'S CHANGED,
ARE YOU THE ONE WHO HAD
TO GO OUT THERE AND DO IT?
WHEN YOU SEE WHAT'S HAPPENED
TODAY, DO YOU SAY, DO YOU HAVE
A MOMENT OF HONEST PRIDE AND
SAY, THIS WOULD NOT HAVE
HAPPENED IF I HAD NOT BROKEN
THE ICE AND TAKEN ALL THE FLAK?

Toller says NO, NEVER.
YET I APPRECIATE
YOU SAYING IT.
SOMEHOW, WITH ONE'S -- I KNOW
WHO I AM, AND I KNOW WHAT
I'VE DONE.
BUT NOBODY ELSE REALLY
HAS TO KNOW THAT.
I'M SORT OF CONTENT
WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE.
I STILL AM.
I KNOW JUST ABOUT EVERY
SKATER IN THE WORLD.
AND MOST OF THE
SKATERS KNOW WHO I AM.
YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE TO SORT
OF PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK.
BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHO
AND WHAT YOU ARE.
BUT OF COURSE, IT TAKES
YEARS TO COME TO THAT POINT.
THE FACT THAT I NEVER WON
A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP,
FOR MANY YEARS, HAUNTED
ME, TORMENTED ME.
IT'S SOMETHING YOU
CAN'T UNDO, EITHER.
YOU CAN'T GO BACK.

Richard says NO, IN FACT, YOU KNOW,
ALREADY TWICE IN THIS
CONVERSATION YOU MENTIONED
YOU DIDN'T WIN THE
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.
AND THE BOOK IS FULL OF,
THERE'S A PHRASE THAT I'VE
JOTTED DOWN THREE TIMES YOU
SAY IT IN VARIOUS FORMS, WHAT
HAPPENS IF THE WINNERS ARE
REALLY LOSERS, AND THE LOSERS
ARE REALLY THE WINNERS?
THAT'S A REALLY
RECURRING THEME FOR YOU.

Toller says YES.
AND THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE
THAT HAPPENS IN THE BIG WHEEL
OF LIFE, IS THAT IN THE FIRST
ROUND, WHERE SKATERS COMPETE
IN THE WORLDS AND THE
OLYMPICS, AND THE WINNERS WIN,
AND THE LOSERS LOSE.
IN THE SECOND ROUND, SHALL WE
SAY, OFTEN FROM THE AGE OF 30
UNTIL 40, ALL OF A SUDDEN,
PEOPLE THAT HAD WON WORLD
CHAMPIONSHIPS, THEIR LIFE
SLIDES BECAUSE IT KIND OF
CLIMAXES WITH STANDING
ON THAT PODIUM.
AND OTHER PEOPLE THAT MAYBE
WEREN'T AS SUCCESSFUL, ALL OF
A SUDDEN HAVE LOVE
IN THEIR LIFE.
HAVE FAMILIES, HAVE
SOMETHING REAL.
AND THEY WIN ON
THE SECOND ROUND.
THEY WIN IN A DIFFERENT WAY.
I WAS CHATTING WITH SOME
SKATERS, CONTEMPORARIES
OF MINE.
AND I SAID, WHEN JOHN CURRY,
WHO WAS THE OLYMPIC CHAMPION
IN 1976 IS STOOD ON THE
PODIUM, AND I REMEMBER IT
SO CLEARLY BECAUSE THAT'S
WHERE THE BOOK STARTS.
IT'S NOT AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY,
IT'S JUMPING ALL OVER THE
PLACE, AND HE'S LIKE SIX
INCHES HIGHER THAN ME, AND
HE'S ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN,
AND I'M LYING IN THE GUTTER
IN THIRD PLACE.
AND HE'S WON,
AND I'VE LOST.
BUT THIS IS 1997, AND HE'S
DEAD, AND I'M SKATING
IN HONG KONG.
SO WHO'S WON AND
WHO'S LOST?
OR WHOSE LIFE WOULD
YOU WANT TO TRADE WITH?
SOME, CERTAINLY, WOULD SAY, I
DON'T CARE IF I'M DEAD AT 28,
I WANT TO BE THE
OLYMPIC CHAMPION.
SOME MIGHT SAY, I'D RATHER BE
ALIVE AND STILL PERFORMING
AND LIVING, THAN BE THE
OLYMPIC CHAMPION AND BEING DEAD.
SO THERE IS A CERTAIN SORT OF
WAY OF EQUALIZING THE SCORE.

Richard says ONE OF THE THINGS YOU ALSO
SAY IN THE BOOK IS YOU TALK
A GREAT DEAL ABOUT BOTH FAMILY
IN THE PAST AND FAMILY
IN THE PRESENT.
YOU SAY YOU OFTEN WISHED YOU
COULD HAVE HAD CHILDREN
AND WISHED YOU COULD
HAVE HAD THE FAMILY
LIKE SOME OTHER PEOPLE HAD.
AND YOUR APPROACH TO YOUR OWN
FAMILY, 'COS THIS ISN'T A
CONVENTIONAL BIOGRAPHY, I WAS
THIS AND THAT AND THAT,
WE GET SCATTER SHOT PORTRAITS.
AND THERE'S A VERY MOVING
RECONCILIATION, IN EFFECT,
OR YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF
YOUR FATHER NEAR THE END.
BUT I HAVE TO TELL YOU,
THERE'S ONE LINE ABOUT YOUR
MOTHER NEAR THE
BEGINNING STUCK OUT.
AND IT KIND OF LEAPT OFF AT
ME, AND I THOUGHT I HAVE
TO ASK YOU THIS.
YOU TALK ABOUT AN EARLY
INCIDENT WHERE SHE DIDN'T WANT
YOU TO GO TO A SKATING CAMP OF
SOME KIND, AND YOU SAY, “SO MY
MOTHER STOOD IN THE WAY OF
MY DESTINY, AS SHE DID
AT LEAST 20 TIMES IN MY LIFE.”

Toller says YES.
AND I DON'T THINK THAT MY
MOTHER, WHO DOES NOT SPEAK
TO ME AT THE MOMENT,
WILL LIKE THAT PART.
BUT THE WAY THAT I WOULD
RESPOND TO THAT IS
BY STANDING IN THE WAY OF WHAT I
THOUGHT MY DESTINY SHOULD BE,
SHE WAS JUST IN THE PERFECT
SPOT FOR WHAT MY DESTINY
EVENTUALLY BECAME.
THE FACT THAT I DON'T THINK,
IN SOME WAYS, THAT MY PARENTS
DID WHAT OTHER PARENTS DID FOR
THEIR KIDS, IN MY OPINION, AS
IT TURNED OUT, WAS THE BEST
THING THEY COULD HAVE DONE.
BECAUSE THAT WAS HOW I LEARNED
TO BECOME INDEPENDENT.
THAT WAS HOW I LEARNED TO
EMBRACE THE LONGEVITY
THAT I HAVE.
I DIDN'T DEPEND ON THEM.
I LEARNED SOMETHING.
THEY TAUGHT ME SOMETHING THAT
WAS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, IN
AN EXTREMELY IRREGULAR WAY.

Richard says WOULD YOU SAY THERE IS STILL
ANY KIND OF A RESENTMENT THERE,
THOUGH?

Toller says I HAVE A GREAT RESENTMENT,
DISAPPOINTMENT, BUT YET I
ACCEPT ALL THINGS NOW.
OUR FAMILY IS SO DYSFUNCTIONAL
THAT WE CAN'T ALL BE FRIENDS.
WE'RE SPLIT RIGHT
DOWN THE MIDDLE.
I ACCEPT IT, NOT
HAPPY ABOUT IT.
AND THE OLDER YOU GET, OF
COURSE, BLOOD IS BLOOD, AND
YOUR ROOTS ARE YOUR ROOTS,
AND WOULDN'T IT BE NICE IF,
BUT IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN.
IT JUST CAN'T HAPPEN.

Richard says THAT'S BLOOD FAMILY.
THERE'S OTHER FAMILY.
YOU TALK ABOUT GOING, THERE'S
ANOTHER MOVING SECTION IN THE
BOOK NEAR THE END, WHERE YOU
TALK ABOUT THE FUNERALS YOU
WENT TO, TWO FROM AIDS, AND
ONE FROM YOUR FATHER DYING.
AND YOU QUESTIONED, YOU
WONDER ALOUD AT ONE,
I WONDER IF I DIED, WOULD THE
SKATERS, WOULD THE SKATING
FAMILY ALL COME TO MY FUNERAL?
NOW YOU ASK THAT
QUESTION THEN.
DO YOU STILL FEEL
IT'S UNANSWERED?
OR WHAT WOULD YOUR ANSWER BE?

Toller says WELL, CERTAINLY A LOT
WOULD COME TO SEE IF I WAS
ABSOLUTELY DEAD.

Richard chuckles.

Toller continues
TO BE CERTAINLY SURE OF THAT.
IT'S JUST A KIND OF A, YOU
KNOW, PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION
THAT I CAN'T ANSWER.
STRANGELY, AS WE GROW, AGAIN,
GROW OLDER, YOUR GREATEST
FRIENDS IN THE SORT OF VERY
EXTREME MOMENTS IN YOUR LIFE,
ARE THE ONES THAT
DISAPPOINT YOU.
AND THE PEOPLE YOU NEVER
REALLY CONSIDERED AS BEING
FRIENDS, COME OUT OF THE BLUE
AND TAKE A POSITION IN YOUR
LIFE THAT REALLY
SURPRISES YOU.
AT LEAST THAT'S
HAPPENED TO ME.
I SUSPECT IF ANYONE BOTHERS TO
STICK AROUND FOR MY FUNERAL,
IT WOULD BE A SURPRISE.
CERTAIN PEOPLE THAT I WOULD
EXPECT TO BE THERE WOULDN'T
EVEN DREAM OF GOING.
AND YET, YOU KNOW, SOMEBODY
MIGHT FLY FROM VANCOUVER.
I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T THINK I CAN FAKE
THAT ONE TO FIND OUT.

Richard says AGAIN, THERE'S INTERESTING
SECTIONS IN THE BOOK, GREAT
HUMOUR, GREAT LIGHTNESS, AND
THERE'S SOME VERY DARK SECTIONS.
AND THE ONE THAT I FIND VERY
RIVETING, AND IT'S MAYBE AS
INEXPLICABLE TO YOU AS IT IS
TO US IS THE RELATIONSHIP
YOU ENTERED INTO WITH
CHRISTOPHER BOWMAN,
WHEN YOU BECAME HIS COACH.
AND YOU YOURSELF SAY YOU
DON'T KNOW WHY YOU DID IT.
HE WAS GOING ON A DOWNHILL
SLIDE IN HIS CAREER, AND YOU
BROUGHT HIM INTO YOUR HOUSE,
AND SUDDENLY, THERE WERE
PROSTITUTES AND DRUGS, AND
DRUG DEALERS, AND EVERYTHING
ALL OVER THE PLACE.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN?

Toller says WHY IT HAPPENED, AND THEN
ALL OF THAT KIND OF HAD
A NASTY BACKLASH ON ME.
AND IT WAS NOT CHRISTOPHER
BOWMAN'S FAULT.
IT WAS MY OWN FAULT.
I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND
WHAT I WAS TAKING ON.
AND WHY I CONTINUED WITH IT
WAS I TRULY, IN MY MIND,
THOUGHT THAT IT WAS TIME TO
SORT OF CROSS OVER AND TEACH
AND to KIND OF STEP
ASIDE FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
AND CHRISTOPHER BOWMAN WAS THE
WORLD'S MOST TALENTED SKATER.

Richard says DID YOU KNOW WHAT A SICK
PUPPY HE WAS WHEN YOU ASKED HIM IN?

Toller says NO, OF COURSE NOT.
I'M CANADIAN;
HE WAS AMERICAN.
I THINK WITH CHRISTOPHER
BOWMAN, AND ANYBODY ELSE,
AND I GUESS THIS IS THE MOST
IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE BOOK,
IS THAT WHATEVER HAPPENED, IT
WASN'T OTHER PEOPLE'S FAULT
THAT -- I DON'T BLAME ANYONE.
IT WAS ONLY HOW PEOPLE
AFFECTED ME, AND WHAT HAPPENED
TO ME, AS A RESULT OF.
I GUESS THERE ARE GOING TO BE
A FEW PEOPLE THAT WILL NOT BE
TOO HAPPY ABOUT HOW
THEY'VE BEEN PAINTED.
ALTHOUGH BECAUSE OF LIBEL
LAWS IN CANADA, THE VIBRANT
OIL PAINTING THAT WAS, BECAME
A VERY DILUTED WATERCOLOUR
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS.

Richard says IT'S INTERESTING.
YES, THE GALLEYS I GOT TO READ
HAVE CHECKED FOR LIABLE ON
THE COVER.

Toller says OH, EXACTLY.
I CAN'T TELL YOU
WHAT I THINK OF YOU.
IN AMERICA, YOU CAN.
IN CANADA, YOU CAN'T.
I ALSO CANNOT TELL YOU -- I
CANNOT WRITE ABOUT WHAT I'VE
HEARD, OR WHAT I PERSONALLY
BELIEVE, UNLESS IT CAN BE
PROVEN.
THAT'S TOO BAD.
I THINK THAT FAIRY TALES
WERE VERY MUCH A PART OF MY
EARLIEST KIND OF
LITERARY UPBRINGING.
AND FANTASY, AND THE ABILITY
TO KIND OF DRAMATIZE ONE'S
LIFE, OR, YOU KNOW, SEE MAGIC
IN THE MOST RIDICULOUS -- I
MEAN, IN A BUS
STATION OR SOMETHING.
SO I WOULD ALWAYS DRAMATIZE MY
LIFE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT KIND
OF KEPT ME GOING.
YET, YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED
TO WRITE ABOUT THAT.
I CAN'T BE OVERLY DRAMATIC
BECAUSE I'LL BE SUED.

Richard says EVEN IF IT'S ABOUT YOURSELF?
WELL --

Toller says YES.
EVEN IF IT'S ABOUT MYSELF.
LYING ABOUT ONE'S PAST IS
UTTERLY FASCINATING TO ME,
AND FAR MORE TELLING
THAN THE TRUTH.
BECAUSE THE PERSON WHO IS
READING IT OR DISCOVERING
THOSE LIES ARE FINDING OUT
SOMETHING MUCH MORE IMPORTANT
ABOUT THE PERSON
THAN THE TRUTH.
BUT THEY WANT TO BE.

Richard says THERE ARE PASSAGES WHERE YOU
WRITE SOMETHING, THEN THE
EDITORIAL COMMENT UNDERNEATH
SOMETIMES CORRECTS YOUR FACTS,
RIGHT?

Toller says RIGHT.
AND IF I'D WANTED TO, I
COULD HAVE CORRECTED, AND I
WOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO SORT OF
PUT THAT SORT OF CORRECTION
ON THE BOTTOM.
BUT MY TRUTH WAS NOT THE
TRUTH, BUT IT WAS MY TRUTH,
AND IT WAS REAL FOR ME.
HOW I REMEMBER THINGS IS FAR
MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT
REALLY HAPPENED.

Richard says NOW, THAT LEADS TO WHAT
IS GOING TO BE THE MOST
CONTROVERSIAL
SECTION OF THE BOOK.
AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT, NOT
SO MUCH WHAT YOU SAID, BUT
WHY YOU SAID IT, IS YOU
ADMIT, VERY BRIEFLY, AND TOSS
OFF THAT AFTER YOUR INCIDENT
WITH CHRISTOPHER BOWMAN,
AND HE LEFT YOUR LIFE, YOU
BECAME A COCAINE ADDICT.
AND YOU SAY IT AS SIMPLY
AND CLINICALLY AS THAT.
AND THEN YOU SAY IT'S NOT
SOMETHING ONE GETS OVER
OVERNIGHT, BUT I'M
ON MY WAY, ETC.
YOU DELIBERATELY DON'T
TELL A HORROR STORY.
YOU DON'T GO INTO PAGES OF
GORY DETAILS FOR A REASON.
WHAT'S THAT REASON?

Toller says BECAUSE THE BOOK, IN ITS
DESIGN, IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE
TO REFER TO IT AS AN
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, WHICH IS ALMOST
A DAY-TO-DAY AND YEAR-TO-YEAR.
THE BOOK IS A MOSAIC OF
ANECDOTES AND EXPERIENCES.
AND I THINK PEOPLE ARE FOOLS,
PEOPLE THAT WRITE A TELL-ALL
BOOK, AND AIR DIRTY LAUNDRY,
YOU ALWAYS GET IN TROUBLE FOR
THAT.
THERE IS REALLY NO POINT.
AND I THINK THAT WITH ANYTHING
THAT I'VE SAID IN THE BOOK,
IT'S ABOUT AS HONEST
AS I CAN POSSIBLY BE.
ONE OF MY CHARACTER FAULTS,
I LIE ALL THE TIME,
BUT MY LIES ARE
REAL, KIND OF.
SO THERE'S HONESTY, AND I
DID NOT FEEL WITH, TO GIVE A
PROPER PICTURE -- I WANTED TO
GET REAL IS WHAT I WANTED TO DO.
I WANTED TO TAKE THE
SMOKE AND MIRRORS AWAY.
SO FOR ME TO MENTION
THAT WAS IMPORTANT.
BECAUSE IF I DIDN'T MENTION
IT, IT WOULDN'T REALLY...
IT WOULDN'T BE AN ACCURATE
PICTURE OF WHO AND WHAT I AM.
YET, IT'S SOMETHING
THAT HAPPENED.
AND YES, THERE ARE GRISLY AND
HORRIBLE AND TERRIBLE STORIES
ABOUT ALL OF THAT, BUT THE
BOOK ISN'T ABOUT THAT.

Richard says BUT WHAT'S INTERESTING,
ALTHOUGH YOU MENTION THE FACT
IS THERE, AND YOU PUT IT IN
THE PAST TENSE, YOU THEN GO ON
AND YOU DO THINGS LIKE
JUDGE A MISS U.S.A. CONTEST,
AND HAVE COMPETITIONS
AND STUFF.
AND EXCEPT FOR ONE POINT
WHERE YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU
DELIBERATELY REFRAIN FROM
DOING DRUGS BEFORE YOU WENT
INTO YOUR BIG COURT CASE,
WE NEVER GET A PERIOD
TO THE SENTENCE.
IT'S KIND OF LIKE YOU DROP
THE BOMB ON THE FLOOR,
AND IT'S STILL TICKING.
AND I GUESS, PEOPLE WANT TO
KNOW, THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM.
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
HAVE YOU OVERCOME IT?
ARE YOU DEALING WITH IT?
IS IT ALL IN THE PAST TENSE?

Toller says GOOD QUESTION.
SHALL I SAY, UM...
YOU'RE NOT PUTTING ME ON THE
SPOT, I'M TRYING TO THINK
ABOUT WHAT I
WANT YOU TO KNOW.
UM...
DRUGS, ALCOHOL, GAMBLING,
RELIGION, AND OVEREATING,
I THINK ARE ALL THE RESULTS OR
KIND OF THE WHIPLASH OF A
MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM.
I BELIEVE THAT.
THAT ENORMOUS PROBLEMS CAN BE
COPED WITH, AT LEAST FOR THAT
MOMENT, BY EATING FIVE
PECAN PIES, AND BASICALLY,
PUNISHING YOURSELF.

Richard says RIGHT.

Toller says SO I THINK THAT WITH MY LIFE,
THAT EXTREME SITUATIONS,
I COULD GO RIGHT BACK
TO, YOU KNOW, ZERO.
I COULD GO RIGHT BACK TO, YOU
KNOW, THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME
IN MY LIFE.
SO IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION,
THE TEXTURE AND THE HILLS AND
THE VALLEYS OF MY LIFE ARE
CONTINGENT UPON WHAT IS
HAPPENING IN MY LIFE.
SOMETHING WHICH IS A
REALLY TERRIBLE THING --
IT COULD BE ME, AND
IT COULD BE YOU.
LET'S SAY THAT YOU LOSE YOUR
JOB AS A TELEVISION HOST.
AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, LIKE
YOU'VE LOST THE PUBLIC PERSONA.
YOU'RE NOT WHO YOU
THOUGHT YOU WERE.
PEOPLE DON'T KNOW YOU ANYMORE.
FAME IS THE WORST DRUG YOU CAN
POSSIBLY BECOME ADDICTED TO
BECAUSE YOU CAN'T
BUY IT ON THE STREET.
AND YOU CAN'T GO
LOOKING FOR IT.
IN A WAY, IT'S KIND OF AN
ILLUSION IN PEOPLE'S MIND.
BUT IF YOU'RE USED TO IT, AND
YOU LOSE THE VERY PERSON THAT
YOU ARE, IT PRODUCES, AT LEAST
IN ME, A VIOLENT REACTION.
AND I WENT TO A SUBSTANCE ABUSE
CLINIC ON COLLEGE, AND THE
DOCTOR, WHO I HAVEN'T SPOKEN
TO SINCE, SAID, WELL, YOU
KNOW, AT 20 YOU WERE VERY
KNOWN, BUT YOU'RE NOT THAT
ANYMORE, YOU'RE 48, SO GET ON
WITH YOUR LIFE, AND YOU CAN'T
BE -- I SAID, LOOK, I HAVE
THIS PROBLEM, THIS PROBLEM,
THAT PROBLEM AND THAT
PROBLEM, BUT I HAVE NO
INTENTION FOR NOT BEING
KNOWN FOR MY WHOLE LIFE,
SO JUST GET OVER IT.
BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A
TREMENDOUS WHIPLASH TO THAT.
AND, BASICALLY, IT'S LIKE WHO
WE ARE, AND CAN YOU LIVE
WITH YOURSELF?
I THINK THAT THIS BOOK,
ZERO
TOLERANCE, IS BASICALLY
THERAPEUTIC FOR ME, YET I ALSO
WANT TO SHARE CERTAIN THINGS.
IT'S ALSO HISTORICAL, BUT
IT'S BASICALLY TRYING TO
UNDERSTAND BECAUSE OF WHAT
HAS HAPPENED TO ME, AND THE
VARIOUS THINGS I'VE BEEN
INVOLVED WITH, WHO I AM, AND
WHY I AM THE WAY I AM.
THAT'S BASICALLY
WHAT IT'S ABOUT.

Richard says TOLLER, AND I HAVE
TO THANK YOU FOR THIS.
THANKS VERY MUCH.

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

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1997, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Toller Cranston