CHICAGO: Set to break all box office records at Chicago's federal courthouse, the Conrad Black Show opens today (Wednesday), starring the former Cannuck-turned-Briton Peer of the Realm plus a cast of thousands.

Already the hottest ticket in town, a full house is guaranteed for the opening performance, as is a lengthy run under the stage-management of Judge Amy St Eve.

In observance of the age-old showbiz tradition that minor characters precede the entrance of the star, the first actor to take the stage is Black's former boardroom colleague and ultimate successor, the Wall Street investment banker Gordon Paris.

He will testify for the prosecution that Black and a supporting cast of Hollinger International executives (John Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis) pocketed payments that were the rightful property of the company.

The prosecution team is led by the redoubtable Patrick Fitzgerald - himself no mean thespian - and the main supporting actor responsible for the recent conviction of former White House gofer Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Lord Black, who rarely adheres to anyone's script but his own, is expected to ad lib throughout the show's run. He dismisses the case against him as a "putsch" and vigorously denies wrongdoing.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff