It’s a title bestowed upon many seemingly unworthy individuals. Pete Best often claims it – with some minor right. Some say it was Stu Sutcliffe. Even radio DJ Murray the K loved to reference himself as “the Fifth Beatle.” Those in the know, however, recognize that the only true owner of that legacy is the man who found the timeless group, rocketed them to stardom, and then died too young and too afraid to express his controversial longings in public (where they were highly illegal). Indeed, Brian Epstein may have come off like a upper crust twit, his well groomed gentlemanly qualities antithetical to the cultural shift being masterminded by the rock band he managed, but his story is one of suppressed urges (he was a closeted homosexual) and undeniable music industry savvy.
Now, according to Deadline.com, Peyton Reed (of ‘Yes Man’ and ‘Down with Love‘ fame) has been hired to bring the last few years of Epstein’s life to the big screen. Entitled ‘The Fifth Beatle,’ the project is based on a popular graphic novel by theatre vet Vivek J. Tiwary (‘Green Day’s American Idiot,’ ‘The Addams Family’), who will also be handling the script. For his part, the filmmaker couldn’t be happier:
“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,” Reed said. “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.”
Perhaps the biggest news here is that Reed and the production will have access to the entirety of The Beatles songbook. The business minds behind the catalog have granted the film unprecedented permission. Also intriguing will be the possibility of ‘The Fifth Beatle’ fully exploring the alternative lifestyle Epstein existed in. Back fifty years ago, there was no such thing as being “out and proud.” In fact, most who knew him claimed the many vices he indulged in – drugs, alcohol – were in response to having his true nature repressed. As long as we don’t get another “did they or didn’t they” look at Epstein and John Lennon on holiday (circa ‘The Hours and the Times’), we will be fine.