Transcript: Ed Mirvish | Dec 07, 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 a guest talking: “Ed Mirvish.”

Richard and Ed sit on green armchairs in a huge store.

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 gray suit, gray shirt, and striped blue tie.

He says I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
YOU'RE ABOUT TO MEET A MAN
WHO'S GOT A TREMENDOUS STORE,
A WHOLE CHAIN OF RESTAURANTS,
AND TWO ONGOING, WONDERFULLY
SUCCESSFUL THEATRES.
WHO ELSE COULD IT BE?
WHO ELSE DOES A STORE,
RESTAURANTS, AND THEATRES?
IF YOU GUESSED ED
MIRVISH, YOU'RE RIGHT.
BECAUSE THIS
DIALOGUE
IS WITH HONEST ED.

Ed is in his seventies, clean-shaven, with receding gray hair. He’s wearing a light gray suit, white shirt, and a printed tie featuring an oil painting.

Richard continues NOW, I HAVE TO ASK YOU FIRST
THING, AND I'M SURE YOU'VE
TOLD IT MILLIONS OF TIMES
BEFORE, BUT WHERE DID THE
'HONEST' COME FROM?

Ed says MANY, MANY YEARS AGO, WHEN
WE FIRST STARTED HONEST ED'S,
I CHOSE THE NAME.
AND THE REASON I CHOSE IT WAS
BECAUSE AS SOON AS YOU PUT
'HONEST' IN FRONT OF YOUR NAME,
EVERYBODY GETS SUSPICIOUS.
THEY WATCH YOU.
AND THAT'S WHAT I WANTED.
I WANTED TO ATTRACT ATTENTION.

Richard says AND IT SEEMED TO WORK.

Ed says WELL, WHATEVER WORKS, I TELL
THE WORLD; IF IT DOESN'T
WORK, I DON'T SAY ANYTHING.
BUT IT'S BEEN WITH US A
LONG TIME, THE WORD HONEST.
IN FACT, I'M STARTING
A PRESS CLUB NOW.
AND EVERY MEMBER HAS TO HAVE
HONEST IN FRONT OF THEIR NAME,
UNLESS THEY'D RATHER
HAVE 'CROOKED'.

Richard says THAT WOULD BE FOR THE
POLITICIANS MAYBE?

Ed says POLITICIANS, USED CAR
DEALERS, ALL THE MEMBERSHIP
CARD HAS HONEST IN FRONT.

Richard says I LIKE THAT.
THAT WORKS.
GOOD.
YOU'VE JUST WRITTEN YOUR
SECOND VOLUME IN YOUR
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, MORE ABOUT YOUR
SHOW BUSINESS EXPERIENCES.
THERE'S NO BUSINESS
LIKE SHOWBIZ.
AND SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY EVEN
BEFORE YOU BOUGHT THE ROYAL
ALEX, YOU WERE KIND
OF IN SHOW BIZ, TOO.
YOUR STORE HAS ALWAYS HAD
A THEATRICAL AIR TO IT.
WHERE DID THAT IDEA COME FROM?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Ed Mirvish.”

Ed says WE NEVER BRANCHED OUT,
SO WE FEEL THE STORE HAS
ITS OWN CHARACTER.
BUT I GUESS EVERYONE IS
IN SHOW BUSINESS, REALLY.
THEY'RE PRESENTING THEMSELVES
IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
BUT I HAD NO PARTNERS
OR SHAREHOLDERS.
WE ONLY HAD THE ONE STORE.
AND I COULD DO ANYTHING THAT
I WANTED, AS LONG AS I FELT
IT COULD ATTRACT ATTENTION.
LIKE OUR SIGN, IT HAS 23,000
ELECTRIC BULBS, YOU KNOW?
IT MAKES LAS VEGAS
LOOK LIKE A CEMETERY.
BUT IT'S ALL TO
FOCUS ATTENTION.
ONCE YOU GET ATTENTION, THEN
YOU HAVE TO DELIVER TO MAKE
THE PEOPLE WANT TO
COME BACK AGAIN.

Richard says YOU SAID LAS VEGAS.
WHERE DO THE
JOKES COME FROM?
ALL THE HONEST ED JOKES THAT
ARE ALL OUTSIDE THE STORE?

Ed says WELL, MOST OF THOSE SLOGANS,
WE HAD A CLUB, THE HONEST ED
LINE CLUB AND I WOULD
PAY PEOPLE TO INSULT ME.
LIKE HONEST ED
ATTRACTS SQUIRRELS.
AT HIS PRICES, THEY
THINK HE'S NUTS.
BUT I DO STEAL FROM
ANYBODY I CAN GET.

Richard says THAT'S FAIR.
THAT'S WHAT ALL THE GREATS DO.

Ed says IF IT WORKS, I STEAL IT.

Richard says NOW, YOUR ENTRANCE INTO THE
THEATRE, I WAS SURPRISED TO
FIND OUT, READING IN YOUR
BOOK, THAT YOU SAY YOU REALLY
WEREN'T MUCH OF A THEATRE-GOER
YOURSELF BEFORE YOU BOUGHT
THE ROYAL ALEX.

Ed says THAT'S TRUE, RICHARD.
35 YEARS AGO, MY WIFE WAS A
THEATRE GOER, AND OUR SON,
BUT I WAS A STOREKEEPER.
AND IF I KNEW WHAT I WAS
DOING, I PROBABLY WOULDN'T
HAVE BOUGHT IT.
I DID NOT BUY IT FOR
ALTRUISTIC REASONS.
I BOUGHT IT BECAUSE I REALLY
THOUGHT IT WAS A BARGAIN.
BUT I WAS ONLY COMMITTED
TO KEEP IT FOR FIVE YEARS.
AT THE END OF FIVE YEARS,
IF I COULD NOT MAKE IT PAY,
I COULD DO WHAT I
WANTED WITH IT.
AND AT THE END OF FIVE YEARS,
IT WAS BREAKING EVEN OR
MAKING A LITTLE, BUT MORE
IMPORTANT, I DEVELOPED AN
AFFECTION FOR THE THEATRE.
SO IT'S 35 YEARS THAT
WE HAVE THE THEATRE.
AND ALTHOUGH I COMPLAINED FOR
20 YEARS WHAT AN AGGRAVATION
IT WAS, 15 YEARS AGO I BOUGHT
THE OLD VIC, AND I'D NEVER
SEEN IT, AND I'D
NEVER BEEN TO ENGLAND.

Richard says AND THEN YOU BUILT
ANOTHER THEATRE OVER HERE.
BUT WE'LL GET TO
THAT IN A BIT.
I'M THINKING, IF IT WAS 35
YEARS AGO, THAT MEANS YOUR SON
DAVID WAS, I GUESS,
ABOUT 18 AT THE TIME?

Ed says YEAH, HE WAS A TEENAGER
BECAUSE HE'S OVER 50 NOW.

Richard says MOST KIDS GET A CAR WHEN
THEY'RE 18, HOW COME DAVID
GOT A THEATRE?

Ed says WELL, ACTUALLY, DAVID WANTED
TO BE AN ART COLLECTOR, BUT
HE COULD NOT AFFORD IT WHEN
HE WAS A TEENAGER, AND HE
BECAME VERY FRIENDLY
WITH CLEMENT GREENBERG,
THE NEW YORK TIMES
ART CRITIC.
AND HE OPENED AN
INTERNATIONAL ART GALLERY.
AND HE WOULD, IF HE LIKED A
YOUNG ARTIST, HE WOULD BUY
25 OR 30 PAINTINGS, SELL
HALF AND KEEP HALF.
AND HIS JUDGMENT WAS
GOOD OVER THE YEARS.
MOST ALL HIS ARTISTS
BECAME VERY FAMOUS.
SO NOW, HE DOES LEND HIS ART
TO MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD.

Richard says RIGHT.
BUT HE DID LOVE
THEATRE, AS WELL.

Ed says BUT HE WAS ATTRACTED.
HE AND MY WIFE ANNE.

Richard says ANNE LOVES THE THEATRE.

Ed says IN FACT, ANNE WAS IN A
PANTOMIME AT THE ROYAL ALEX
A FEW YEARS BACK.
AND SHE WAS A FAIRY GODMOTHER.
AND SHE WENT ON THE ROAD TO
OTTAWA AND TO HAMILTON.
AND AFTER IT WAS FINISHED,
SHE GOT A JOB IN A MOVIE,
BUT IT WAS A
PORNOGRAPHIC MOVIE.

Richard says YOU'RE KIDDING.

Ed says YEAH, THEY SHOWED IT
AT 3 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.
BUT SHE KEPT HER CLOTHES ON.
SHE WAS A SECRETARY.
GOOD TO HAVE SOMEBODY
IN THE FAMILY WORKING.
BUT EVEN NOW, AS A SCULPTRESS
AND A PAINTER, SHE JUST HAD A
SHOW RECENTLY IN GALLERY ONE.

Richard says IT'S AN AMAZING FAMILY.
YOU SEEM TO -- PEOPLE LOOK
FROM THE OUTSIDE AND THINK,
THE MIRVISH FAMILY ARE GREAT.
THEY ALWAYS SEEM
TO BE HAVING FUN.
IS IT REALLY LIKE THAT?
IS IT ALL JUST A
LOT OF GREAT TIMES?

Ed says WELL, I THINK ONE INDULGENCE
THAT I'VE HAD, I NEVER HAD
PARTNERS EXCEPT THE
FAMILY, MY WIFE AND OUR SON.
AND I NEVER HAD PARTNERS.
WE NEVER WENT PUBLIC
WITH SHAREHOLDERS.
SO MANY OF THE THINGS
I DO ARE NOT RATIONAL,
BUT I DON'T HAVE
TO EXPLAIN THEM.
AND I THINK THAT'S
AN INDULGENCE.
IT CAN GIVE THE IMPRESSION
THAT YOU ARE HAVING FUN
ALL THE TIME.
I MEAN, THE FACT IS, WHEN IT
WORKS, WE TELL EVERYBODY.
WHEN IT DON'T WORK,
WE DON'T SAY ANYTHING.

Richard says YOU KEEP IT QUIET.

Ed says BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE EVERYTHING
WORK A HUNDRED PERCENT.

Richard says YOU TALK ABOUT BEING
CRAZY IN INDULGENCES.
WHEN YOU BOUGHT THE ROYAL
ALEX, IT WAS KIND OF ON A
WHIM, RIGHT, TO SAVE IT, TO
KEEP IT FROM THE WRECKER'S
BALL AND STUFF.
BUT THEN THE FIRST THING YOU
DID WAS YOU SPENT DOUBLE THE
MONEY YOU SPENT FOR THE
BUILDING TO REFURBISH IT.
NOW, WHAT LOGIC IS THAT?

Ed says WELL, IT NEEDED THAT.
I THOUGHT TO HAVE A FIGHTING
CHANCE, WE HAD TO MAKE IT AS
BEAUTIFUL AS IT COULD BE.
BUT I WAS ONLY COMMITTED TO
KEEP IT FOR FIVE YEARS AS
A LEGITIMATE THEATRE.
THEN WE COULD DO WHAT
WE WANTED WITH IT.
BUT AS I SAY, AT THE END
OF THE FIFTH YEAR, IT WAS
BREAKING EVEN OR
MAKING A LITTLE.
AND NOW IT'S 35 YEARS
THAT WE HAVE THAT THEATRE.

Richard says YOU KNOW WHAT I FIND
INTERESTING IS PEOPLE SAY,
ED HAS HIS EMPIRE WITH ALL HIS
RESTAURANTS, AND THE THEATRE
IN THE MIDDLE, BUT THE
RESTAURANTS KIND OF SPRANG UP
BY ACCIDENT OUT OF YOUR DESIRE
TO IMPROVE THE NEIGHBOURHOOD,
RIGHT?

Ed says WELL, 35 YEARS AGO, IT
WAS DESOLATE AROUND THERE.
THERE WERE NOTHING BUT RAILWAY
TRACKS ACROSS THE STREET.
SO WE BOUGHT A BUILDING NEXT
DOOR, AND I THOUGHT IF I PUT A
RESTAURANT IN, EACH WOULD
COMPLIMENT THE OTHER,
WHICH THEY DID.
BUT WHEN WE STARTED, BECAUSE
I KNEW NOTHING OF THE
RESTAURANT BUSINESS, WE ONLY
HAD ONE ITEM, ROAST BEEF.
AND I HATE ROAST BEEF.

Richard says YOU DO?

Ed says I NEVER EAT IT.

Richard says TELL ME YOU HATE PEAS,
TOO, I'LL BE SURPRISED.

Ed says THE FINE SIFTED
PEAS, I'M OKAY.

Richard says OKAY.

Ed says BUT I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT
THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS.
AND PEOPLE SAID TO ME, ED,
YOU CAN'T HAVE ONE ITEM
IN A RESTAURANT.
AND THE POPE SAYS YOU
CAN'T EAT MEAT ON FRIDAY.
BUT AFTER WE OPENED THE
RESTAURANT, THE POPE CHANGED
THE RULES.
HE ALLOWED THEM TO
EAT MEAT ON FRIDAY.
SO THAT HELPED.

Richard says THIS IS REALLY PROVING THAT
ED MIRVISH HAS SAY WITH THE
POPE, EVEN.

Ed says WELL, SOMEBODY WAS HELPING.
BUT IT DID HELP.

Richard says IF YOU WEREN'T A THEATRE
GOER, AND ANNE AND DAVID LIKED
THE THEATRE BUT DIDN'T KNOW
THAT MUCH, WHEN YOU OPENED THE
PLACE 35 YEARS AGO, WAS IT
THE COMEDY
NEVER TOO LATE,
I THINK, WAS THE FIRST PLAY?

Ed says THE FIRST, YEAH,
WITH WILLIAM BENDIX.

Richard says HOW DID YOU FIND THE PLAY?
DID YOU SAY, HEY, I'VE GOT
A THEATRE, SEND ME PLAYS?

Ed says WELL, FOR 23-24 YEARS, I WAS
JUST BUYING AND SELLING PLAYS
THE SAME AS ANY
OTHER MERCHANDISE.
FROM BROADWAY, LONDON WEST
END, OR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
AND I WAS JUST BUYING
AND SELLING THE PLAYS.
BUT AROUND 10, 12 YEARS AGO,
WE FELT THE ROADSHOWS WERE
DETERIORATING FOR
WHATEVER REASON.
AND THANKFULLY, DAVID BECAME
INTERESTED BECAUSE NOW
WE DO A LOT OF OUR
OWN PRODUCTIONS.

Richard says RIGHT.

Ed says BUT AS I SAY, FOR WHATEVER
REASON, WHETHER IT WAS THE
ECONOMY OF THE THEATRE, OR THE
STAR SYSTEM, STARS PERHAPS
DON'T WANT TO COMMIT
THEMSELF FOR THREE YEARS ON
THE ROAD, A MOVIE IS MORE
LUCRATIVE AND LESS DEMANDING.
SO FOR THE LAST 10, 12 YEARS,
DAVID HAS REALLY BEEN IN
CHARGE, AND WE DO A LOT
OF OUR OWN PRODUCTIONS.

Richard says NOW, I WANT TO GET TO THOSE
IN A BIT, BUT I'M THINKING
BACK TO THOSE EARLY DAYS.
WHAT'S WONDERFUL READING YOUR
BOOK IS ALL THE STARS WHO
PASS THROUGH THE PLACE.
AND I WONDER IF YOU EVER
WERE HOME BECAUSE EVERY ONE,
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU WERE
THERE TO MEET AND SEE,
AND HAVE DINNER
WITH AND WELCOME.

Ed says IT WAS A WONDERFUL, YOU KNOW,
EXPERIENCE, AND A PRIVILEGE,
REALLY.
BUT IN THE 35 YEARS WE'VE HAD
THE ROYAL ALEXANDRA THEATRE,
WE HAVE PRESENTED OVER
450 DIFFERENT SHOWS
AT THE ROYAL ALEX.
SO THERE HAS BEEN SO MANY
CASTS, AND EACH ONE WOULD
LEAVE THEIR
AUTOGRAPHED PICTURES.

As he speaks, old black and white pictures of Ed with different actors and autographed portraits of other actors flash by.

Ed continues AND WE USUALLY ALWAYS HAVE
DINNER OR LUNCH WITH THE CAST
DURING THEIR RUN.
AND FOR ME, IT'S BEEN A
REAL EDUCATION AND A
WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE.

Richard says I JUST NOTICED BACK IN THE
OUTER OFFICE THERE IS ONE OF
THESE, YOU KNOW, STACKS OF
HUNDREDS OF PICTURES, AND IT
WAS FROM A PRODUCTION OF
GREASE
THAT PLAYED HERE
25 YEARS AGO.
AND I LOOKED AT IT, AND I
WENT, OH YEAH, TOURING COMPANY
OF
GREASE, 1973.
AND THEN I LOOK CLOSELY
AT THE PICTURE,
AND THERE'S JOHN TRAVOLTA.
AND JOHN TRAVOLTA'S NAME
SIGNED ON IT, AND MARILU HENNER,
AND SHE SIGNED ON IT.
AND JEFF CONAWAY.
ALL THESE PEOPLE
PASSED THROUGH HERE.

A piece of paper appears with dozens of signatures and a title that reads “To Anne and Ed Mirvish.”

Ed says WELL, PEOPLE IN THE YEARS
TO COME, THEY'VE BECOME
VERY FAMOUS STARS.

Richard says SO YOU GET THEM
BOTH WAYS, RIGHT?
YOU GET THEM WHEN
THEY ARE AT THE TOP,
AND YOU GET THEM COMING UP.

Ed says SAME THING HAPPENED WITH
HAIR
25 YEARS AGO.
IT RAN FOR OVER A YEAR.

Richard says AND THEN
GODSPELL,
TOO, RIGHT?

Ed says GODSPELL, GREASE, HAIR.

Richard says OKAY, LET'S GO BACK,
HAIR,
WHEN IT FIRST OPENED,
WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT HAVING
A THEATRE IN TORONTO
WITH NUDITY ON STAGE?

Ed says WELL, WE WERE VERY CONCERNED
BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST TIME
THEY HAD FRONTAL NUDITY
IN A LEGITIMATE THEATRE.
AND WE DIDN'T KNOW, WE THOUGHT
PERHAPS THEY MIGHT EVEN
CLOSE IT DOWN.
BUT, SURPRISINGLY, ONE DAY I
WALKED IN THERE, AND THERE
WERE NUNS SITTING WATCHING IT.
AND, YOU KNOW, I
HAPPENED TO MENTION IT.
AND THEY SAY, WELL, THESE
PEOPLE ARE CONNECTED
WITH THE REAL WORLD.
THEY SEE THINGS THAT A
LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T SEE.

Richard says THERE'S A GREAT STORY,
THOUGH, YOU DID ALMOST GET IN
TROUBLE WITH THE FIRE
DEPARTMENT BECAUSE OF
HAIR.

Ed says WELL, THERE IS MANY THINGS,
BUT THEY WERE A WILD BUNCH.
YOU COULD HAVE THAT SWEET
SMELL OF MARI-WEANIES WHENEVER
YOU WALKED INTO THE THEATRE.

Richard says AND NOW, YOU KNOW WHAT I
FIND INTERESTING IS 30 YEARS
LATER, YOU'RE DOING THE SHOW
FOR THE NEW GENERATION.
YOU'RE DOING
RENT.

Ed says YES.

Richard says DID YOU GO TO SEE
IT FIRST IN NEW YORK?

Ed says NO, DAVID HAS SEEN IT.
BUT THE TRACK RECORD SEEMS
VERY GOOD ON BROADWAY.

Richard says DO YOU EVER THINK, WOW, HOW
MANY YEARS AM I GOING TO BE
AROUND SHOWING THE NEW
GENERATIONS ALL THE TIME?

Ed says WELL, I'D LIKE TO HANG
IN AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
I WISH I WAS 82
AGAIN, BUT IT'S OKAY.

Richard says ALL THE PEOPLE YOU'VE HAD IN,
YOU SEEM TO HAVE, THIS WILL
TAKE ME TO ANOTHER TOPIC, YOU
HAVE A GREAT FONDNESS AND
RESPECT FOR A LOT OF THE GREAT
BRITISH ACTORS, YOU KNOW,
LIKE ROBERT MORLEY AND JOHN
GIELGUD AND ALL OF THEM.
IS THERE A REASON YOU
LIKE THEM SO MUCH?

Ed says WELL, IT'S THROUGH THEIR
STORIES AND GETTING TO KNOW
THEM BECAUSE, LISTEN, THERE'S
TALENTED ACTORS EVERYWHERE
IN THE WORLD.
BUT I'D NEVER SEEN THE OLD
VIC, YOU KNOW, I'D HAD 20
YEARS OF THE THEATRE HERE,
AND THEN WHEN I HEARD THE OLD
VIC WAS FOR SALE, I'D NEVER
BEEN TO ENGLAND, I'D NEVER
SEEN THE OLD VIC, BUT SIR
RALPH RICHARDSON, AND SIR JOHN
GIELGUD, AND SIR MICHAEL
REDGRAVE, PETER O'TOOLE, THEY
WERE ALWAYS TELLING ME STORIES
WHEN THEY PLAYED OUR THEATRE,
ABOUT THEIR EARLY DAYS OF
TRAINING IN THE OLD VIC.
SO, YOU KNOW, WITH THE STORIES
THEY TOLD ME, I THOUGHT
IT WOULD BE A PRIVILEGE
TO HAVE THAT THEATRE.
AND I PUT IN A BID.
WITH MY ROTTEN LUCK,
I OUTBID ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.

Richard says YOU ALSO TELL A
WONDERFUL STORY.
YOU WOUND OUT PAYING PROBABLY
MORE THAN YOU HAD TO BECAUSE
YOU HAD HEARD WHAT ANDREW
LLOYD WEBBER'S BID WAS.

Ed says THAT'S RIGHT.

Richard says AND YOU FIGURED, HE MUST BE
BLUFFING, HE REALLY BID LOWER
THAN THAT.
SO YOU BID MORE.

Ed says I BID 50,000 MORE THAN
THE REPORTED PRICE.

Richard says POUNDS.

Ed says 50,000 POUNDS.
AND AS I SAY, I BECAME
THE OWNER OF THE OLD VIC.
BUT HE WANTED TO BUY IT FROM
ME AFTERWARDS AND GIVE ME A
PROFIT, BUT ONCE I HAD
ACQUIRED IT I DIDN'T WANT
TO LEAVE IT.

Richard says NOW, JUST THIS PAST AUGUST,
YOU ANNOUNCED YOU WERE HAVING
TO GIVE UP THE OLD VIC.

Ed says YEAH, JUST RECENTLY.

Richard says WAS THAT WITH BITTER
FEELINGS, OR MIXED FEELINGS?

Ed says WELL, I'VE HAD 15
WONDERFUL YEARS THERE.
AND THE REASON -- BECAUSE WE
CAN'T DEVOTE THE TIME TO IT
THAT IT DESERVES.
WHEN I FIRST BOUGHT IT, 15
YEARS AGO, I WAS OVER THERE
EVERY TWO MONTHS.
I HAVEN'T BEEN
THERE FOR A YEAR.
DAVID LOOKS AFTER IT MORE, BUT
AS DAVID SAYS, HE DON'T MIND
WORKING SIX DAYS A WEEK,
BUT SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.
HE HAS SMALL CHILDREN, HE
HAS TIME FOR THE FAMILY.
SO WE JUST DECIDED LAST
WEEK OR SO THAT, YOU KNOW,
WE WOULD SELL THE THEATRE.
BUT WE'RE NOT
GONNA GIVE IT AWAY.
AND WE'RE NOT GONNA
SELL IT FOR DEMOLITION.
WE HOPE TO FIND A BUYER THAT
WILL PRESERVE BECAUSE THERE
ARE TWO BUILDINGS, THE ANNEX
THAT WENT WITH IT, A FIVE
STOREY BUILDING.
AND IF WE CAN SELL
IT TODAY, FINE.
IF IT TAKES LONGER, WHATEVER
TIME IT TAKES, WE WILL KEEP
THE THEATRE.

Richard says I FIND IT SO INTERESTING
THAT, AND YOU DID THEM BOTH AT
THE OLD VIC, JONATHAN MILLER
HAD HIS, AND PETER HALL HAS
HIS REP COMPANY, THAT IT TOOK
CANADIAN MANAGEMENT TO GIVE
THESE GREAT BRITISH DIRECTORS
A CHANCE TO DO THEIR COMPANIES.

Ed says AND THEIR WORK
HAS BEEN WONDERFUL.
THIS PAST YEAR WITH SIR PETER
HALL, ARTISTICALLY, I WOULD
SAY IT'S THE BEST YEAR WE'VE
EVER HAD BECAUSE THE REVIEWS
ARE JUST WONDERFUL.
THAT'S WHAT THEATRE SHOULD
BE ABOUT, DOING ART.
CREATIVITY.
BUT AS A BUSINESS, I WOULD
SAY, BARGAINS ARE MORE
PREDICTABLE, AND ROAST BEEF.

Richard says RIGHT.

Ed says BUT PEOPLE GOING INTO
THEATRE, SHOULD GO INTO IT
WITH THE OBJECT
OF BEING CREATIVE.

Richard says NOW, YOU ALWAYS SAY THAT ONE
OF THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING
YOUR OWN PARTNER IS YOU DON'T
HAVE TO SAY WHAT'S GOING ON
AND DISCLOSE THINGS.
BUT SOME PEOPLE SAY THAT OVER
THE YEARS, YOU'VE LOST MAYBE
UP TO 50 MILLION dollars
AT THE OLD VIC.
AND SOME PEOPLE SAY YOU'VE
LOST, LIKE, 2 MILLION, JUST
THIS LAST YEAR.
NOW, I'M NOT ASKING YOU TO
CONFIRM OR DENY THAT, BUT IS
THERE A CHANCE IT COULD BE
THAT IMMENSE A DRAIN ON YOU?

Ed says I KEPT IT FOR 15 YEARS.
I WOULDN'T HAVE KEPT IT IF
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO PAINFUL
THAT I COULDN'T BEAR IT.
IT WAS 15 WONDERFUL YEARS.
AS I SAY, WE DON'T HAVE THE
TIME TO SPEND BECAUSE ALSO,
IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS, WE'VE
PUT UP THE PRINCESS OF WALES
WHICH IS A 2,000 SEAT.
AND IT'S VERY DEMANDING.

Richard says NOW, THAT'S AN AMAZING STORY
BECAUSE I GATHER THE WHOLE
IDEA CAME WHEN YOU AND ANNE
WERE ON A TRIP TO RUSSIA AND
YOU SAW A THEATRE
THERE YOU LOVED?

Ed says IN RUSSIA, WE WERE IN ODESSA,
AND WE SAW THE OPERA HOUSE
THERE, WHICH IS VERY SIMILAR
TO LA SCALA IN MILAN.
AND THEY WERE IN NEED
OF AMERICAN MONEY.
AND WE DISCUSSED, AT GREAT
LENGTH, ABOUT PUTTING UP
AN OPERA HOUSE.
BUT THAT IS NOT HOW THE
PRINCESS OF WALES CAME ABOUT.
FOR MANY YEARS, WE'VE DEALT
WITH CAMERON MACKINTOSH.
HE WANTED TO BRING
MISS SAIGON
HERE.
AND THERE WAS NOT A STAGE
THAT COULD ACCOMMODATE IT.

Richard says BECAUSE YOU NEED ALL THE
DEPTH AND THE HEIGHT
TO DO THE HELICOPTER.

Ed says THAT'S RIGHT.

Richard says THE BIG STATUE
OF HO CHI MINH.

Ed says SO ACTUALLY, WE BUILT THE
PRINCESS OF WALES THEATRE TO
ACCOMMODATE
MISS SAIGON.
AND IT HAD TWO
GOOD YEARS THERE.
AND IT'S A WONDERFUL THEATRE.
ALTHOUGH IT'S 2,000 SEATS,
IT HAS A LOT OF INTIMACY.
IT'S VERY WARM.
AND THE NEXT TWO YEARS,
WE'VE HAD DISNEY WITH
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
AND WE'RE BOOKING IT IN.
SO I HOPE IT WILL
SERVE THE PEOPLE WELL.

Richard says WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT THAT
THEATRE IS IT SEEMS LIKE,
ESPECIALLY FOR DAVID, TWO
PASSIONS CAME TOGETHER BECAUSE
HE GOT ONE OF HIS FAVOURITE
ARTISTS IN THE WORLD,
FRANK STELLA, TO DO THE MURALS
AND DO THE DOME AND THE CEILING.
AND PEOPLE WHO TOUR THE
THEATRE FROM AROUND THE WORLD
PRONOUNCE IT A REAL GEM.
AND IT'S NOT LIKE THE USUAL
CRASS, HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN
YOU SQUEEZE IN THEATRES.

Ed says NO, NO.
AND ALTHOUGH IT'S 2,000 SEATS,
THE FURTHEST SEAT BACK FROM
THE PROSCENIUM ARCH IS 85 FEET,
WHICH IS ALMOST THE SAME
AS THE ROYAL ALEXANDRA.
SO IT HAS A WONDERFUL
SENSE OF INTIMACY.
WE'RE VERY PROUD
OF THE THEATRE.

Richard says IS IT A DIFFERENT THRILL TO
BUILD A THEATRE FROM SCRATCH
THAN TO BUY AND
RESTORE A THEATRE?

Ed says WELL, LADY EATON ONCE SAID TO
ME, YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE THAT
BUILT THE ROYAL ALEXANDRA
DID AN EXCEPTIONAL JOB.
JOHN LYLE, THE ARCHITECT,
AND CAWTHRA MULOCK.
BUT LADY EATON ONCE SAID TO
ME THAT THEATRES ARE REALLY
A MATTER OF LUCK OF
ACOUSTICS AND SIGHT LINES.
AND SHE SAYS, THE ROYAL
ALEXANDER WAS BLESSED
WITH GOOD LUCK.
SO I THINK, YOU KNOW, THERE
IS A RISK WHEN YOU PUT UP
A THEATRE.
BUT BOTH THESE THEATRES,
WE ARE SO HAPPY WITH.
AND THE OLD VIC IS A
PLEASURE, YOU KNOW?

Richard says WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE COST,
I MEAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS A
BIT IN YOUR BOOK, ABOUT
PUTTING UP THE PRINCESS OF
WALES, AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST
CHUNKS IS STILL THE REAL ESTATE.
I THINK LIKE 20 MILLION OF THE
COST OF THE PRINCESS OF WALES
WAS THE REAL ESTATE.

Ed says WELL, WHAT WE HAD TO DO, WE
HAD TO BUY THE WESTINGHOUSE
BUILDING IN ORDER TO ACQUIRE
120 PARKING SPACES BECAUSE THE
BIG EXPENSE WAS PUTTING
FOUR FLOORS OF PARKING --

Richard says 7 MILLION FOR THAT, TOO.

Ed says YES, UNDER THE
PRINCESS OF WALES.
BUT TO GO DEEPER
BECOMES EXORBITANT.
BECAUSE FOUR FLOORS
YOU CAN MANAGE.
BUT BEYOND THAT, THE
EXPENSES JUST SKYROCKET.
SO WE HAD TO HAVE ADDITIONAL.
SO WE HAD TO BUY THE
WESTINGHOUSE BUILDING,
AND 120 PARKING SPACES THERE.
BUT IT'S AN
EXCITING AREA TODAY.
AND EVENTUALLY, IT'LL ALL
BE VERY EXCITING PROPERTY.

Richard says IS THERE ANOTHER MIRVISH
THEATRE YET TO COME IN THAT
AREA POSSIBLY?

Ed says NOT AT THE MOMENT.
BUT I THINK THERE'S A NEED
FOR AN 800 OR 900 SEAT,
TO DO STRAIGHT PLAYS
AND EXPERIMENTAL WORK.
A SMALL THEATRE.
BUT FOR THE PRESENT,
WE HAVE OURSELF BUSY.

Richard says BEFORE WE GET INTO TALKING
MORE ABOUT ACTUAL MIRVISH
PRODUCTIONS WHICH IS GOING ON,
IN THE YEARS WHEN YOU WERE
STILL JUST PRESENTING THE
OTHER SHOWS, YOU HAD SOME
BIZARRE PERSONALITIES CAME IN.
AND YOU TELL A WONDERFUL STORY
IN YOUR BOOK ABOUT WHEN YOU
HAD REX HARRISON HERE,
DOING
PIRANDELLO'S HENRY V.
AND YOU STARTED TO
READ HIS CONTRACT.
DO YOU REMEMBER HIS
SPECIAL DEMAND HE HAD?

Ed says WELL, YOU KNOW, HE WANTED
THIS REFRIGERATOR, AND ALWAYS
BE STOCKED WITH 18
BOTTLES OF CHAMPAGNE.

Richard says AND HIS LIMOUSINE.

Ed says YEAH, WELL WHAT HAPPENED,
AFTER HE FINISHED HIS RUN,
AND SOL HUROK BROUGHT HIM
IN, WHEN HE FINISHED THE RUN
AT THE ROYAL ALEXANDRA
THEATRE, HE HAD NOT TIPPED
HIS CHAUFFEUR, WHICH HE HAD
A 24-HOUR-A-DAY CHAUFFEUR
WHICH WE SUPPLIED.
WE SUPPLIED THE CHAUFFEUR.
SO WHEN HE DROVE HIM TO THE
AIRPORT, HE SAID TO THE
CHAUFFEUR, LOOK, THERE'S
A REFRIGERATOR IN MY
DRESSING ROOM.
I DIDN'T TIP YOU, SO YOU
TAKE THE REFRIGERATOR.
SO WHEN HE CAME TO TAKE THE
REFRIGERATOR OUT, SIMPSON, WHO
WAS MY MANAGER AT THE TIME
SAID, WHERE YOU GOING?
HE SAYS, REX HARRISON
GAVE ME THE REFRIGERATOR.
IT DIDN'T BELONG TO HIM.
IT'S OUR REFRIGERATOR.

Richard says SO REX HARRISON WILL ALWAYS
BE THE REFRIGERATOR GUY.

Ed says THAT'S RIGHT.
BUT THERE'S A LOT OF
INTERESTING STORIES.

Richard says AND YUL BRENNER, WHEN HE WAS
THERE WITH ONE OF THE WORST
SHOWS HE EVER DID, UNFORTUNATE
THING CALLED
ODYSSEY.
IT WAS GOING TO BE CALLED
HOME SWEET HOMER
FOR A WHILE.
YOU HAD JUST PAINTED THE
THEATRE, AND HE HAD THIS
CLAUSE ALL HIS DRESSING
ROOMS AND THINGS --

Ed says SHOULD BE BLACK, AND
THE HALLWAYS BLACK.
SO I THINK HE LEFT A TRAIL
FROM THE EAST COAST TO THE
WEST COAST OF DARK
BROWN DRESSING ROOMS.

Richard says SEE, YOU WERE A LITTLE
ANNOYED WITH THAT TO BEGIN
WITH, AND THEN HE WAS LOOSING
HIS VOICE OR SOMETHING,
AND WILL I GO ON?

Ed says ONE MATINEE THERE, HE WAS
HAVING PROBLEMS WITH HIS
VOICE, YOU KNOW?
AND HE WAS MAKING SOUNDS
AS IF HE WOULDN'T GO ON
THAT AFTERNOON.
NOW, WHEN YUL BRENNER DOES
NOT GO ON, YOU HAVE PROBLEMS
BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT
TO SEE AN UNDERSTUDY.
SO I HAPPENED TO REMARK IN THE
LOBBY AS THE PEOPLE WERE GOING
IN, I HAPPENED TO SAY, I'LL
BET IF IT WAS TELLY SAVALAS,
HE WOULD GO ON.
AND I DIDN'T REALIZE, BUT
ONE OF THE COLUMNISTS OF
THE NEWSPAPERS WAS IN
THE LOBBY THERE.
AND THE NEXT DAY
IT'S IN THE PAPER.
BUT YUL
DID
GO ON THAT DAY.

Richard says SO WHAT DID YOU DO?

Ed says WELL, I STARTED TO SWEAT
BECAUSE I FIGURE I'M GONNA
HAVE A PROBLEM HERE.
SO I WROTE A LETTER TO YUL
BRENNER, AND I SAID, DEAR
Mr. BRENNER, MY MOTHER ALWAYS
TOLD ME I'VE GOT A BIG MOUTH.
I TALK TOO MUCH.
I SAID, IT'S A GREAT HONOUR
TO HAVE YOU PLAY OUR THEATRE,
AND I HOPE YOU'LL
PLAY US MANY TIMES.
AND I APOLOGIZED
FOR WHAT I SAID.
AND I LEFT IT IN
HIS DRESSING ROOM.
BUT I DIDN'T KNOW
HOW HE WOULD TAKE IT.
AND I CAME BACK THE NEXT
DAY, AND I SAID TO HIM,
Mr. BRENNER, DID
YOU GET MY LETTER?
SO HE LAUGHED, YOU KNOW?
BUT YOU NEVER KNOW.
STARS CAN GET TEMPERAMENTAL.
YOU HIT THEM AT
THE WRONG TIME.

Richard says NOW, I KNOW WE SHOULDN'T ASK
THIS, BUT OF ALL THE PEOPLE
YOU PRESENTED IN THE DAYS WHEN
YOU WERE JUST PRESENTING AND
NOT HIRING THEM YOURSELF,
WHO WAS YOUR FAVOURITE?
ANYONE YOU LIKED WATCHING THE
MOST OR TALKING TO THE MOST?

Ed says WELL, ONE OF OUR FAVOURITES
NEVER PLAYED OUR THEATRE,
BUT HE ALWAYS VISITED US.
AND THAT WAS LIBERACE.
BUT HE PLAYED THE O'KEEFE
BECAUSE HE WANTED THE BIG
SEATING, OF 3,000 SEATS.
BUT ANY TIME HE WAS IN TOWN,
HE ALWAYS CAME AND SAW US,
HAD DINNER WITH US, OR
WAS AT THE HOUSE.
AND HE WAS A GREAT SHOWMAN.
BUT WE HAVE HAD SO MANY,
YOU KNOW, OVER THE YEARS,
KATHARINE HEPBURN PLAYED
IN
MATTER OF GRAVITY.

Richard says MADE YOU LOWER THE
TEMPERATURE TO 50 DEGREES
IN THE WINTER.

Ed says THAT'S RIGHT.
SHE HAD A PROBLEM.
AND ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE
FRONT ROWS IN JANUARY WERE
PRETTY CHILLY, YOU KNOW?
BUT YOU HAVE TO
ACCOMMODATE THE STARS.

Richard says NOW, MIRVISH PRODUCTIONS DOES
A LOT OF THEIR OWN SHOWS NOW.
LES MISERABLES
RAN FOR A LONG TIME.

Ed says THREE YEARS.

Richard says PEOPLE LOVED THAT.
AND IT MADE MICHAEL BURGESS
A BIG STAR IN CANADA.

Ed says HE WAS EXCELLENT.

Richard says IS THAT KIND OF ANOTHER
THRILL FOR YOU, TO TURN A
CANADIAN INTO A STAR?

Ed says WELL, MANY OF THE SHOWS, EVEN
THE FIRST YEAR WHEN I OPENED,
WE DID MUSICALS, 13 MUSICALS,
EVERY TWO WEEKS, BACK TO BACK.
WE USED ALL CANADIAN TALENT.
BUT WE BROUGHT IN A
STAR FOR EACH SHOW.
AND WHATEVER SHOWS WE DO, LIKE
RENT
HAS BEEN CAST WITH
CANADIAN STARS.
HAIR
WAS CANADIAN.

Richard says CRAZY FOR YOU
ALMOST ALL CANADIAN.

Ed says YES.
BECAUSE THERE IS
TALENT HERE, YOU KNOW?
IT'S JUST IF THEY
ARE AVAILABLE.
BUT THERE IS A LOT
OF TALENT IN CANADA.
YOU CAN PUT ON GREAT SHOWS.
LES MISERABLES
CAST COULD
COMPARE WITH ANY CAST
IN THE WORLD.
AND
CRAZY FOR YOU
FOLLOWED AFTER.
BUT WHAT HAPPENED WITH
LES
MISERABLES
AND
CRAZY FOR YOU
WAS WE DISRUPTED A
WONDERFUL SUBSCRIPTION SERIES
THAT WE HAD.
WE HAD BUILT IT UP TO 52,000
SUBSCRIBERS, SO EVERY SHOW WAS
85 PERCENT SOLD OUT.
BUT WE DID NOT WANT TO
PASS UP
LES MISERABLES.
AND IT CAME FOR THREE YEARS,
AND THEN
CRAZY FOR YOU
FOR
TWO YEARS.
AND THAT DISRUPTED
OUR SUBSCRIPTION.
SO NOW WE'RE TRYING TO
BUILD IT BACK UP AGAIN.
AND I THINK WE
HAVE ABOUT 28,000.

Richard says BUT IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE,
THIS IS AN INTERESTING IDEA,
BETWEEN THE SUBSCRIPTION WITH
ITS NICE BASE AND THE NEW
SHOW COMING EVERY SIX
WEEKS, SEVEN WEEKS OR SO AND
THEN THE CHANCE OF, I'M GONNA
HAVE A SHOW THAT RUNS THREE
YEARS, AND MIGHT MAKE A LOT OF
MONEY, OR MAKE A BIG SPLASH,
WHAT DO YOU DO?
DO YOU GAMBLE?

Ed says IT GETS VERY TEMPTING.
BUT THE DIRECTION WE'D LIKE
TO GO NOW IS USE TO THE
ROYAL ALEXANDRA THEATRE AS A
SUBSCRIPTION HOUSE, AND USE
THE PRINCESS OF WALES
FOR LONG RUN MUSICALS,
OR LONG RUNNING SHOWS.
BUT OUR FEELING IS, WITH ALL
SHOWS, NOT TO HAVE THEM OPEN
END BECAUSE WE FEEL IT'S
BETTER TO GO A YEAR OR TWO
YEARS OR SIX MONTHS TO
CAPACITY, RATHER THAN DRAG
IT OUT FOR YEARS AT
60 OR 70 PERCENT.
I THINK IT'S BETTER
FOR THE THEATRE.
AND IT'S BETTER
FOR THE ACTORS.
AND IF IT SELLS OUT, YOU CAN
ALWAYS BRING IT BACK FOR A
RETURN ENGAGEMENT.

Richard says AND YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS
SOMETIMES THERE'S JUSTICE
IN THIS.
ONE OF THE THINGS I READ IN
YOUR BOOK, AND I THOUGHT, SEE,
IT ALL COMES AROUND, YOUR LAST
BIG HIT AT THE ROYAL ALEX IS
JOLSON, WHICH IS SELLING
OUT AND EXTENDED, AND
EVERYBODY LOVES IT.
AND YOU BEGIN THE BOOK BY
TALKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT
YOU WERE CIRCUMCISED BY
AL JOLSON'S FATHER.

Ed says WELL, A FEW YEARS AGO, I
HAD THE REAL RUBY KEELER,
SHE HAD DINNER WITH US,
IN OUR RESTAURANT.
AND I SAID TO HER, I SAID, YOU
KNOW, RUBY, I SAID, MY CLAIM
TO FAME, YOUR FATHER-IN-LAW
WAS MY CLAIM TO FAME BECAUSE
I WAS BORN IN VIRGINIA,
IN COLONIAL BEACH.
THE JOLSONS LIVED IN
WASHINGTON, D.C.
AL JOLSON'S FATHER
WAS A RABBI.
AND I SAID, WE HAD NO
RABBI IN COLONIAL BEACH.
SO YOUR FATHER -- THAT'S
MY CLAIM TO FAME --
YOUR FATHER-IN-LAW
CIRCUMCISED ME.

Richard says SO HE TOOK A LITTLE, AND
YOU GOT A LOT BACK LATER.

Ed says WELL, I SAID, LOOK,
IT'S NOT EXACTLY A DINNER
CONVERSATION, BUT I
SAID, IT'S A FACT.

Richard says YOU'VE HAD ALL THESE
PERFORMERS ALL THESE YEARS.
CAN I ASK YOU TO PERFORM A BIT
FOR THE TV CAMERA, AND READ
JUST A LITTLE BIT FROM YOUR
FIRST BOOK,
HOW TO BUILD AN
EMPIRE ON AN ORANGE CRATE.

Ed says RICHARD, I CAN
TAKE THE CHANCE.
BECAUSE IF I DON'T GET ANOTHER
BOOKING, I CAN STILL GO BACK
TO THE STORE IN THE MORNING.

Richard says I LIKE THAT.
THAT WORKS WELL.

He takes out a book and says
ANYWAY, THIS IS THE LOVELY
ENDING OF THE BOOK.
AND IT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY
ABOUT WHY YOU KEEP GOING.

He hands the book to Ed, who puts on a pair of glasses.

Ed says THANK YOU.

He reads
I THINK, AT MY AGE, SOCIETY
EXPECTS YOU TO RETIRE.
PEOPLE THINK, IF YOU'VE PASSED
A PROVERBIAL MILESTONE,
YOU'RE OVER THE
PROVERBIAL HILL.
THEY EXPECT YOU TO GO OFF
TO SOME GREEN VALLEY OR
GOLF COURSE AND REST.
WELL, I DON'T KNOW TOO MANY
VALLEYS, AND I CAN'T PLAY GOLF.
IF I WANTED A GREAT, NO RISK
BUSINESS TO RETIRE ON,
I'D INVEST IN A FEW
MORE PARKING LOTS.
I OBSERVED LONG AGO THAT ONE
OF THE STRONGEST NEEDS IN MOST
HUMAN BEINGS IS CHANGE.
PEOPLE NEED CHANGE TO KEEP
LIFE FROM BEING DULL.
THEY TAKE EXPENSIVE HOLIDAYS
AWAY FROM THEIR EVERYDAY JOBS
BECAUSE THEY SAY
THEY NEED A REST.
THEN THEY BURN UP MORE ENERGY
IN TWO WEEKS THAN THEY DO
THE OTHER 50.
BUT I'VE BEEN BLESSED.
I DON'T NEED A CHANGE,
OR EVEN WANT ONE.
I ENJOY TOO MUCH
WHAT I DO EVERY DAY.
SO WHEN IS IT TIME TO RETIRE?
I HAVEN'T A CLUE.
BUT I DO KNOW THIS.
OF ALL THE LESSONS I'VE
LEARNED IN LIFE, IT'S ONE OF
THE MOST VITAL, WHATEVER IN
LIFE IT IS YOU DO, EVERY
MORNING, IT'S IMPORTANT TO
HAVE A REASON FOR GETTING UP.

He smiles and closes the book.

Richard says ED, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

He faces the screen and concludes
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: Ed Mirvish