The fifth Beatle

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 22, 2011
That was then: Brian Epstein, far right, with Ringo, Paul, John and George

That was then: Brian Epstein, far right, with Ringo, Paul, John and George

A film about the Jewish, gay and drug-addicted manager of the world's most famous music band is to be made in Liverpool.

The Fifth Beatle, a $25 million American biopic about Brian Epstein, who discovered and managed the Beatles until his death at 32 from a drug overdose, is due to be filmed next year, and would be the first to track Epstein's life story after a separate 2009 production stalled.

Written by Broadway producer Vivek Tiwary, who claims Epstein's Jewish background, and his funeral, attended only by his family, are key to the story of an "ultimate cultural outsider", the film focuses on Epstein's homosexuality and contains scenes about a presumed relationship he may have had with John Lennon.

Mr Tiwary, 38, whose Broadway rock show won two Tony Awards and a Grammy, said that Epstein, who was born on Yom Kippur in 1934, had been his "historical mentor" for 15 years. It had taken him three months to hunt down his biography.

He said: "It was a little mystery - why is it that you can buy a book about John Lennon's astrologist and not about Brian Epstein? I decided to study Brian and the Beatles, who wrote and rewrote the rules of the music business. But what really connected me to Brian was the emotional beats of his story".

Mr Tiwary, 38, is a Hindu, who claims to share Epstein's struggle for success.

"I was also an outsider. When I first attended the Tony awards, putting it bluntly, it was as if people said 'who is this brown kid and how did he crash my party?'

"I view Brian's story like Rocky or Billy Elliot - except that it was true. He was gay when it was a felony to be gay, he was Jewish at a time of a lot of antisemitism in the UK, and he was from Liverpool, a melting pot of underground music, but hardly a cultural mecca."

The film is yet to name a director, likely to be a Hollywood name, or cast, with lead role mooted for a British actor, but it has secured the rights to Beatles music, a feat which took two and half years. Mr Tiwery, who said Liverpool and London will be filming locations, has also gained tacit support from the Epstein family, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who viewed the script after Mr Tiwery visited Liverpool and Brian Epstein's grave at the Long Lane Jewish cemetery in Aintree.

Last updated: 1:55pm, October 4 2011