Couturie sets docu on Graham

Oscar-winning docu producer Bill Couturie will bring a documentary about rock ‘n’ roll impresario Bill Graham to the big screen.

Tentatively titled “Stages: The Life of Bill Graham,” the film will be a history of pop culture as seen through the eyes of Graham, the concert promoter/merchandiser/manager/mentor to a generation of performers. Graham died in a helicopter crash in 1991.

Couturie said every element in Graham’s life, “from the Catskills to Live Aid ,” will be covered, with music from artists with whom the promoter worked playing an integral role in the film.

The docu format was selected due to Couturie’s belief that a based-on-a-true-story but fictionalized version of the promoter’s life would be difficult to be made believable.

“The reality of Bill Graham is more amazing than anything fiction could come up with,” Couturie said.

Project is being financed initially with seed money from Graham’s company, Bill Graham Presents, with an eye toward major studio distribution.

Nicholas Clainos, president of BGP and executor of the promoter’s estate, says the response from studios on the film idea has been “very positive.”

Clainos said he expects a distribution deal to close soon and that the film will invite interest in ancillary rights arenas, such as homevideo and soundtracks.

Clainos said the docu format was selected after turning down several feature film offers he was presented by other writers and producers. Those versions were also based on Graham’s life, but were fictionalized.

The doc, Clainos believed, was the best way to capture and expand on the “dynamic elements of Graham that didn’t necessarily translate in book form,” he said, referring to the recent tome about Graham by author Bob Greenfield, “Bill Graham Presents.”

Greenfield, who Clainos said did an “excellent job” of capturing the music indutry vet, will script the film with Couturie.

Couturie produced the Oscar-winning docu “Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt” with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. He also produced and directed the ACE award- and Emmy-winning “Dear America: Letters From Vietnam.”

The filmmaker will direct and produce “Stages,” with production expected to begin after the first of the year. A late ’94 or early ’95 release date is targeted.

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