Dark Horse recently published The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel account of Brian Epstein's life with The Beatles, written by the Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Vivek Tiwary with artwork by Andrew C. Robinson. A film deal was being talked about even before the book's November release, and that film is now officially underway, with Peyton Reed (The Break Up, Yes Man) just announced as director. Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Silver Linings Playbook) is producing, along with Tiwary himself.
Epstein was the guy who, against all odds, shepherded The Fab Four to global ultrastardom, getting them signed to classical/spoken-word label Parlophone when nobody else would take them, and wrangling them through the heights of Beatlemania. Yet for all the hoopla surrounding his public life, he remained a private individual, keeping his sexuality closeted, and struggling with gambling and drug addiction. He died of a barbiturate overdose in 1967, aged just 32.
"From the moment I read Vivek’s graphic novel, I knew I wanted to be the person to bring Brian’s story to the big screen," says Reed. "I’m a lifelong Beatles fan, obviously, but it’s Brian’s fascinating life that really blew me away and drew me to this project. He’s the ultimate outsider who, against all odds, became the ultimate insider. He was responsible for shepherding the most popular artistic expression of 'love' in the history of modern culture, and yet he wasn’t allowed to express his own love during that time."
"Peyton’s films are incredibly fun and entertaining, while still underscoring a serious empathy for the struggle for accomplishment, belonging, and the need to love and be loved," said Tiwary and Cohen. "In brief, Peyton is simply the perfect director to take the Brian Epstein story to the big screen."
In a huge coup for the film, The Fifth Beatle will be the first Beatles-related biopic to be allowed full use of the band's music catalogue.
"It took me two-and-a-half years to get those music rights," Tiwary told IB Times. "It was really just a lot of persistence, not unlike the Brian Epstein story! I have three rejection letters where I was thanked for reaching out but told my request had been denied. And I just wouldn't take no for an answer. I had to keep going up the levels until I got to Sir Paul and Ringo at the top. I finally got the attention of the band and they approved my script, and that paved the way for a deal with Sony... who control the publishing rights."
This is not to be confused with Paul McGuigan's Brian Epstein biopic, announced a year ago and at the time set to star Benedict Cumberbatch. Quite where The Fifth Beatle leaves that project is unclear. Production on Reed's film, however, begins next year. Reed's next job is to find an Epstein of his own...