It was way back in September 2007 that we first heard news of Martin Scorsese’s planned George Harrison documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.” Since then he’s directed a documentary for another renowned music act with The Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light,” and even found time to do “Shutter Island,” the upcoming “Hugo,” and the pilot episode of “Boardwalk Empire” (which he is also producing). Back in early June George's widow, Olivia Harrison, assured that the doc would premiere later this year. Well it looks like it's rolling out according to plan.
HBO has just announced they have acquired the North American TV rights for Scorsese’s documentary and have set the much-anticipated project to be released in two parts on the nights of October 5th and 6th. Olivia Harrison adds to the excitement she previously displayed over Scorsese’s involvement by stating in a press release from HBO, “I always hoped HBO would be our North American partners because of their respect for artistry. I am doubly happy to be working with their excellent team.”
As we previously reported, there will be interviews with the likes of Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and Yoko Ono, but HBO also adds that Terry Gilliam will be making an appearance. The sort of things that Scorsese could pull out of Gilliam alone is enough to get us to watch. Abram’s Books is also set to publish a memorabilia coffee table book to coincide with the release of the documentary, which will include photographs, letters and diaries from George.
This is certainly Scorsese’s territory, and we have to agree with Olivia Harrison that there really isn’t a better home on television for this outside of HBO. While “Shine a Light” and “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan” were both enjoyable docs, the thought of Scorsese dissecting the life of someone like Harrison, who not only played in arguably the world’s most widely recognized music act but enjoyed a successful solo career, has us excited. And split over two nights, it seems to be a much more epic production than we were expecting. With names like Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and Phil Spector also set to weigh in, we can only imagine what sort of stories are waiting to be told. At the very least, it’ll serve as an opportunity to catch Scorsese at his low-key best before the 3D extravaganza that is “Hugo.” --Benjamin Wright