Surrender the Mövenpick

Few tears were shed at the CBC when the Mövenpick Palavrion closed its doors last year. It was a ridiculous place, trying to look jaunty but coming off corporate, with its casual airs of pretension, incongruous off-track betting, “no photography” rules, Jian Ghomeshi, mediocre food, cramped bar, and clattering spiral staircase.

If the CBC gets the bar it deserves, what did this place say about us? Say what you will about The Red Lion, but at least it was honest.

In its death throes, not even 2-4-1 martinis could save it. So good riddance, I say.

Which leaves us with a conspicuous black hole at Front and John.

It’s tempting to suggest that the Mövenpick dragged its twisted sister, Planet Hollywood, down with it, but that place clearly had its own host of problems.

And so, the black hole turns into a wormhole.

The place has been empty for nearly a year now. Maybe if you can’t rent out storefront space next to the goddamn CN Tower, you ain’t cracked up for the real estate game. Or maybe the tourists aren’t as dumb as you think. Maybe they don’t want any more crap restaurants. Maybe they want some street-level CBC.

Why don’t we reclaim this spot, and open it up to the public? Why don’t we do what we do best and broadcast from this corner? Why don’t we use this prime street frontage to get in touch with the audience and show them what they are paying for? People come from all over the country – and the world – to this corner. It should be our showcase.

And I realize the trend is to rent out our space, and to fold in on ourselves. The popular, interesting, and financially self-sustaining tours of the the TBC were inexplicably cancelled. The glassed-in booth where we used to do radio in the Atrium has been replaced with empty desks and an old Easter basket. All of this, ostensibly, to save money.

But if they are really serious about saving money, I offer them my services. Give me an afternoon with a full set of CBC org charts, a sharp pair of scissors, a telephone and a latté, and I’ll save them millions. And I won’t be calling anyone from the GMG. I’ll clip it all off the top and the middle, and audiences won’t know the difference. In fact, I’d bet that programming would improve.

And surely, if the City of Toronto gave us this spot to add vibrancy to the area, we could turn this corner into a destination, rather than a gateway to something else. Surely we could use it to put our best face forward, rather than boarded up windows?

People are going to wonder what it is we have to hide.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted August 6, 2006 at 4:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I dont know about the other departments in the building. But New Media on the 2nd floor has no room.

    We have full time employees using laptops on fold out tables. Some of them dont even have phones.

    I say, give the space to the hipster new media guys… along with kids’ cbc. They will know how to jazz the place up and making it welcoming.

  2. Dwight again
    Posted June 10, 2006 at 5:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “And what’s so important about June 15th in that specifical regard, while we’re on the subject?”, he asked with a certain amount of dread in his voice…

  3. Dwight Williams
    Posted June 10, 2006 at 5:30 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I would sincerely hope not, for various reasons both practical and sentimental.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted June 5, 2006 at 3:46 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You will witness the end of the mandate on June 15.

  5. Joe Clark
    Posted June 4, 2006 at 10:03 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I rather doubt they intend to be rid of the entire building and most of the staff within. A common narrative in the era of the CBC Broadcasting Centres construction held that the place was made to be big enough to move the entire CBC into it. (Was that not expressed in the Toronto Life article de lépoque? Ill have to check.) You can already see vestiges of that here and there, as in the sections on the sixth floor devoted to Atlantic TV stations.

    Its too much of a sunk cost to rent out piecemeal, even if the pieces add up to the full volume of the building.

    Then theres the pesky problem of legal mandate.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted May 31, 2006 at 6:59 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    well I heard the Movenpick site was going to used as a set for a new Factual Entertainment show co-hosted by Ken Finkelman and Rick Mercer. Restaurant Takeover. I think George Anthony’s involved, possibly as an investor.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted May 31, 2006 at 5:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Actually, from what I’ve heard .. Jane is very eager for local radio to move in to that spot (I know – it’s a reversal of what happened a few years ago when they were moved upstairs) And rumours are TV is as well.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted May 31, 2006 at 12:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I strongly believe that we already are not fulfilling our (parliamentary) CBC mandate .
    So since when does management (or the Govt) have the right to cut production resources, shows and buildings that were used and are detrimental to fufilling this parliamentary mandate.
    Martin is gone and I believe its time for Harper to whisper in Rabinovitch’s other ear!

  9. Anonymous
    Posted May 31, 2006 at 5:54 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You’re not getting it. They intend to be rid of the entire building and most of the staff within. They are not going to expand. They are winding up the service as it currently exists. Bricks and mortar and permanent employees are imagined to be of the past.

  10. CBC Frank
    Posted May 30, 2006 at 7:03 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    But if they are really serious about saving money, I offer them my services. Give me an afternoon with a full set of CBC org charts, a sharp pair of scissors, a telephone and a latté, and I’ll save them millions.

    And undo all those arrogant appointments? That carefully selected chain of cronies? Hmmm..

    I’ve always been of the mind that the CBC needs to get back into the public’s face in a big way – and turning the defunct Movenpick into a far more engaging version of City TV’s corner cam would be very innovative.

    But if nothing is ventured…

  11. Anonymous
    Posted May 30, 2006 at 6:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Bang on!

    Let’s tread lightly when we use the word “cuts”. Brings back way too many bad memories for most of us.

    I am not saying that we could not trim some fat but the majority of us in the ranks are terribly overloaded with work as it is.

  12. Johnny Happypants
    Posted May 30, 2006 at 5:12 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thanks Ouimet. You are right on with this post.

    Justin, there’s nothing wrong with copying something that works, especially since—as our host points out—we have the location, location, location.

  13. Justin Beach
    Posted May 30, 2006 at 7:00 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The sad part of Movenpick’s demise was the way it happened, from what I understand right before xmas employees showed up for work and the doors were locked, and that was it.

    They also, although it sucked as a bar, had the best coffee in the neighborhood.

    As to your idea, it’s good but I think the public might see it as grasping at straws – both City and ‘the Edge’ have been doing storefront/street level broadcasting for years now and it might just seem like the CBC is jumping on board way after the fact.

    At any rate, current senior management is not really interested in good ideas. My best guess is that they are trying to get back to the type of quality BBC / Antiques roadshow programming we enjoyed during the lockout.

    Hope all is well with you.


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