The Liverpudlian who put the Beatles in suits, landed them a record deal with Parlophone, and brought to them to “The Ed Sullivan Show” is getting the biopic treatment from Bravo.
Bravo is developing a limited series based on the life of Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager who helped steer them to “the toppermost of the poppermost” from the early 1960s until his death of a drug overdose in August 1967 at the age of 32.
Produced by Universal Cable Productions and Sonar Entertainment, the project is based on “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story,” the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel penned by Vivek J. Tiwary with art by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker. Tiwary will pen the series adaptation and serve as executive producer along with Leopoldo Gout. Bravo said the project has secured access to the Lennon-McCartney song catalog for use in the series.
Epstein is an enigmatic figure in the history of the legendary band. He struggled with internal and external demons and discrimination as a Jewish, closeted gay man living at a time when homosexuality was a felony in Britain.
Epstein famously became interested in the local Liverpool band when patrons of his family’s music store began asking for a recording of “My Bonnie” that the Beatles cut with singer Tony Sheridan during one of the band’s stints playing clubs in Hamburg. As the legend goes, Epstein went to see four leather-clad lads — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best (before Ringo Starr took over on drums) — at Liverpool’s Cavern Club and was impressed by their sound and the crowd’s enthusiasm. Without any prior experience in artist management, Epstein signed the band.
History has judged Epstein kindly for ignoring the assertion of a London record company executive that “groups with guitars are on the way out” while he was shopping a Beatles demo reel to land a recording contract. He finally got his “yes” from producer George Martin of EMI’s Parlophone imprint in 1962. Within months, Beatlemania ensued.
Epstein published a memoir, “A Cellarful of Noise,” in 1964. But his role as manager diminished after the band opted to end its grueling schedule of concert tours in 1966. By many historical accounts, Epstein was depressed at the time of his death and there has long been speculation that the overdose was not accidental. His death came about two months after the release of the Beatles’ landmark album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”