TORONTO - The CBC abruptly severed ties with marquee personality Jian Ghomeshi on Sunday, with a spokesman tersely saying the public broadcaster had received “information” that “precludes us from continuing our relationship” with the popular host of the radio show “Q.”
Chuck Thompson said in a telephone interview that the “information” only “recently” came to CBC’s attention.
“The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end,” said a statement issued by the broadcaster. “This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration. Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well.”
Little more than an hour after that announcement, a Toronto law firm representing Ghomeshi issued a brief statement saying it has been instructed to launch a lawsuit against the CBC.
Toronto law firm Dentons Canada LLP says the action will claim general and punitive damages for breach of confidence and bad faith in the amount of $50 million. The law firm said documents would be filed on Monday in court but could not be immediately reached to elaborate on the planned action.
The statement also says Ghomeshi will commence a grievance for reinstatement with the CBC under his collective agreement.
Thompson said in an email that if the CBC is served with legal documents it will contest the lawsuit vigorously.
Ghomeshi, 47, did not respond to phone calls or emails on Sunday. On Friday he tweeted that he was taking some “much needed personal time” away from the broadcaster.
Earlier this month, the radio personality wrote on his fan Facebook page about the recent death of his father.
“My dear friends, forgive me if I am lost. My heart has been broken,” Ghomeshi wrote. “I cannot stop the tears. He was my hero.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to “Q,” a daily national talk show on CBC Radio One and CBC-TV which Ghomeshi co-created. Thompson said “it’s not uncommon for CBC to use guest hosts on Q and that’s what we’ll be doing for the foreseeable future.”
Ghomeshi’s last day in the host’s chair was Thursday, when he presented an essay about Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa. Friday’s program was hosted by Piya Chattopadhyay, who has filled in on several occasions.
The departure leaves a gaping hole in the broadcaster’s lineup. Ghomeshi was not only a force on radio but did TV appearances as well, and offered a dose of urbane cool to the often stodgy CBC.
“Q,” which launched in 2007, is also broadcast on over 180 NPR/PRI stations and syndicated in the U.S. Julia Yager, a spokeswoman for PRI, said the radio broadcaster will “work with the CBC as they plan what is next for Q.”
Each morning, Ghomeshi greeted listeners with the salutation “Well, hi there,” before launching into interviews with an eclectic mix of celebrities. The chats ranged from easy conversation to the occasional confrontation.
His most well-known interview was his 2009 encounter with Billy Bob Thornton, which became a YouTube sensation. The actor wanted to talk about his musical endeavours and became gruff after the host asked him about his film career.
Ghomeshi is also a published author, with the 2012 memoir “1982” and articles in various papers. He also hosted the CBC-TV program “Play.”
Ghomeshi had been scheduled to host the Scotiabank Giller Prize gala on CBC-TV on Nov. 10 in Toronto. But Elana Rabinovitch, a spokeswoman for the book prize, said in an email Sunday he will no longer be hosting the ceremony.
17:33ET 26-10-14 (Via PN)