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Cameron Crowe & Gus Van Sant Both Passed On Brian Epstein Biopic 'The Fifth Beatle'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 8, 2011 at 9:01AM

Stage Musical & Graphic Novel Also In The WorksWait, this is a story about who isn't a directing a movie? And while that's a bit of reversal on the who's-joining-what-project news, when it's two names like this it's hard to ignore and its pretty damn interesting.
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Stage Musical & Graphic Novel Also In The Works



Wait, this is a story about who isn't a directing a movie? And while that's a bit of reversal on the who's-joining-what-project news, when it's two names like this it's hard to ignore and its pretty damn interesting.

As expected, THR has finally dropped online their print article that we told you about yesterday about the developing biopic "The Fifth Beatle." The film will tell about the life of Beatles manager Brian Epstein who discovered the band, went around to every A&R man in the U.K. to get them signed, eventually landing them a deal with Parlophone (at the time largely a comedy label) with their longtime producer George Martin and notoriously signed away Beatles likeness and merchandising rights in terrible deals that lost the band millions. He was also a closeted homosexual, an identity he struggled with as the group rose to worldwide fame. It's a great story indeed and according to the trade both Cameron Crowe and Gus Van Sant passed on the film.

Of course, we won't really know why they decided not to get involved. Crowe at the very least is juggling three movies this year: the Elton John documentary "The Union" which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring, the "Pearl Jam Twenty" doc which hits in the fall and of course, "We Bought A Zoo" his next feature film starring Matt Damon that will land in December. As for Van Sant, he just got back from Cannes where he debuted "Restless" and we'd guess he might be taking a breather and figuring out what he'll get up to next.

But perhaps the (overreaching?) ambition of the Brian Epstein story put them off. There are plans to develop a stage musical and graphic novel (with Dark Horse Comics) about the manager and as much as he's an interesting guy, he's not George, John, Paul and Ringo. Perhaps they should focus on getting the film right first, no? Either way, the filmmakers have taken the right steps so far, saying they have a great licensing deal for Beatles songs -- "All You Need Is Love," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "A Day in the Life," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby," "Help!" "You Never Give Me Your Money," "Girl," "A Hard Day's Night," "Strawberry Fields Forever" and 'Come Together" -- that allows them to swap out songs to better fit the eventual film. Or do they?

Jeff Jones, CEO of Apple Corps, the Beatles' company that owns the rights to their music says, "Apple Corps has no comment on the film other than to say that the film will not include any of the original Beatles master recordings." Seems producer/screenwriter Vivek Tiwary is getting ahead of himself and it might be worth reminding him that no official Beatles songs have ever been licensed in a film in which characters/versions of themselves appear (except for "Hello Little Girl" in "Nowhere Boy"). So perhaps it will be cover versions then along with Beatles tunes? It has been previously revealed that the film has contributions from Nitin Sawhney, Joe Jackson and Robyn Hitchcock, the latter of which is contributing three songs “Hurry For The Sky”, “I’m Falling”, and “TLC” each of which appeared on his 2009 album “Goodnight Oslo.”

The film has $25 million of financing in place and is still getting the pieces together. Maybe they should start with clearing up that whole music licensing thing. Anyway, you can check read a scene from the script here in which John Lennon tries to find a bloke for his buddy Brian.

This article is related to: Films, Gus Van Sant, Cameron Crowe, Biopic, The Fifth Beatle


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